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Did you know the town of Mobile is older than New Orleans?

(Transcribed From The Evening Post New York, New York-August 21, 1817)

Much valuable information to emigrants and others, is contained in the following letter from a gentleman now in the Alabama Territory, to his friend in this city.



Dear Sir, —In answer to your enquiries (sic) respecting the Commercial Towns already located in the territory of Alabama, as well as the most eligible scites (sic) for such as have not yet been established, I submit the following view, with such observations as appertain to the subject.

Town of Mobile is older than New Orleans

The town of Mobile is situated on a low sandy plain on the west bank of the bay. It was founded by the French upwards of one hundred years ago, and is older than New Orleans. Its population does not exceed eight hundred souls, inhabiting one hundred and twenty tenements, of very inferior size, and nearly all of an ancient gothick (gothic?) appearance. The inhabitants of Mobile are of various descriptions:―About five hundred are people of colour, of every shade, who are generally free and possessed of real estates, &tc. The balance are whites, of a heterogeneous character.

Mobile Bay at Sunset

The manners and customs of the French and Spaniards at present appear to prevail. There is no house of public worship there, except a small Roman Chapel, in which a Spanish priest, of a subordinate grade, occasionally says mass.

The trade of Mobile is very inconsiderable, but is increasing as the upper country settles. There are at present about fifteen dry good stores and a few groceries.

Want of fresh water an inconvenience

The want of good fresh water in Mobile is at present a serious inconvenience and disadvantage to that place. Nearly all the potable water used there for six months in the year is drawn by wagons, &c. in kegs and barrels from a creek three miles west of the town. During the winter the river affords wholesome water for every use. It is, however, I believe, in contemplation to have water conducted into town, by aqueducts, from a branch of the above-named creek, whose fountain is said to admit of it, about four miles from Mobile.

Ship Navigation

With respect to the facilities of ship navigation to Mobile they are not so great as could be desired.

Altho’ Mobile Bay admits vessels of twenty draught, and those of fifteen can ascend within ten miles of its head; yet those over twelve feet cannot enter the mouths of Mobile River. Owing to the shoalness of the shores of the Bay, no town can be erected below the outlets of the river; consequently the seaport for the Alabama Territory must inevitably be on the river; and on account of the extreme crookedness of the rivers, and the impossibility of ascending them, with practical economy, with Atlantic shipping, the emporium of trade upon these waters will forever be confined to the head of Mobile Bay.

Whether the town of Mobile is to become the great commercial city, which appears to be about rising up at the outlet of the extensive and interesting waters of Tombigbee and Alabama, or some other place, time will soon determine.

However respectable the town of Mobile has become by its great age, the Americans, who are emigrating to that country, seem generally to turn their attention to a new town laid out in pursuance of an act of the Territory Legislature, on the east channel of Mobile river.

(Continued in Part II)

Discover more lost and forgotten stories about Alabama in:

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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