TOWNS IN THE ALABAMA TERRITORY – the historic towns of Jackson, Cahaba, Fort Jackson – some were successful


(The following story is the 4th section of a news article written in 1817 which describes some early towns of Alabama.  It was published in 1817 when Alabama was still a Territory and first printed in the New York Herald, then copied in the Alabama Republican, and finally published in the Huntsville newspaper. This story describes the towns of Jackson, a city in Clarke County, Cahaba in Dallas County and Fort Jackson in Elmore County, Alabama. The article has been transcribed from The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol 03, No. 01, Spring Issue 1941 – See all parts of the article at: Towns in the Alabama Territory)

The Town of Jackson

The Town of Jackson lies on the east side of Tombigbee, ten miles below St. Stephens, near what is called Bassetts creek. It is regularly lain out and incorporated; has 8 or ten stores, and is a handsome place and well watered.

map-shows-fort-claiborne-upper-right-alabama-department-of-archives-and-historyMap shows the town of Jackson and Bassett’s on middle left (Alabama Department of Archives and History)


raphael-semmes-bridge-over-the-tombigbee-river-in-jackson-alabama-1908-alabama-department-of-arcives-and-historyRaphael Semmes Bridge over the Tombigbee River in Jackson, Alabama, 1908 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

bigbee-bridge-in-jackson-alabama-wtih-steamship-mary-blees-postcard-1908-alabama-department-of-archives-and-historyBigbee Bridge in Jackson, Alabama with Steamship Mary S Blees passing through postcard marked 1908 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Old Cahawba/Cahaba1

At the falls of the Cahaba river, which runs into Alabama, nearly one hundred miles north of Fort Claiborne from the north west, and is a fellow to the Black Warrior, a town of some importance will probably be established when the lands are sold. Boats ascend to this place with facility, except in dry times. Considerable settlement are making on this river.

state house at cahaba

At the mouth of this river, or in its vicinity, an important town will undoubtedly soon be located. The lands are now selling at Milledgeville in Georgia; and the most extensive body of good land lies east of Alabama, and above this place of any part of the Creek cession.

Fort Jackson1

It has been thought by many that a large town would be forthwith springing up at Fort Jackson, in the fork of Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers; but as the Indian boundry is within ten miles of that place, in my opinion it will not be the case till the United States acquire the lands up those rivers.

Fort Jackson is five hundred miles from Mobile by the meanders of the river, and good barge navigation extends to that place at all seasons.


It is impossible to foresee where very flourishing inland town is to be permanent in a new country; so much depends on the effect of capital and leading roads, where head of navigation does not settle the question. Great speculations are constantly agitating the minds of the adventurers with regard to the location of towns and every discerning prudent man will calculate for himself on this subject.


1Fort Toulouse and Fort Jackson are two forts that shared the same site at the fork of the Coosa River and the Tallapoosa River, near Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama. Fort Toulouse was a stockade built by the French in 1717. It was replaced by a better-built fort of the same name in 1735, a bit further back from river erosion. Fort Toulouse served as a trading post with the Creek Indians until the end of the French & Indian War in 1763. General Jackson defeated the Red Stick Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, and afterward initiated construction of a Fort atop the site of the old French Fort at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers. The fort was intentionally built near the sacred Creek site known as the Hickory Ground. Jackson then temporarily traveled to Washington and in his absence, the Fort was named “Jackson” in his honor.
1The town of Cahaba acted as Alabama’s first seat of government from 1820 to 1825. In time, the town came to life with visitors, ferries, hotels, state buildings, court sessions, stores, ships, land sales, and a local newspaper, the Cahaba Press. William Wyatt Bibb, Alabama’s first governor, decided on Cahaba because of the scenery, fertile area, and navigable river ways. The final decision was to have Cahaba as the state capital only through 1825, and then a more permanent site could be decided on.

Additional information about Jackson, Clarke County, Alabama: “The history of the town traces back to the old French and Spanish times. The earliest settlers were two of the original five commissioners of the board that made the Pine Level land purchase; David White of South Carolina and David Taylor of Georgia. Records show that White came in 1809 and Taylor in 1812. Settlements were made all along the Tombigbee River, one of them being Republicville, later called Pine Level and in July 1816 was incorporated as Jackson. The Town of Jackson was named in honor of General Andrew Jackson. . .  The Pine Level Land Company sold lots to start the town and the original plat of the town shows that they planned for a big city.” (cityofjacksonal.com)

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Confrontation: Lost & Forgotten Stories is a collection of lost and forgotten stories that reveals why and how the confrontation between the Native American population and settlers developed into the Creek-Indian War as well as stories of the bravery and heroism of participants from both sides.

Some stores include:

  • Tecumseh Causes Earthquake
  • Terrified Settlers Abandon Farms
  • Survivor Stories From Fort Mims Massacre
  • Hillabee Massacre
  • Threat of Starvation Men Turn To Mutiny
  • Red Eagle After The War

See All Alabama Footprints Series by Donna R. Causey

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