Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Post Creek War Settlement

This month’s blog will continue our exploration of the early history of northeastern Jefferson on the “triangle” in and around the Pinson area made up of the respective parts of Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair Counties. Anyone with a weather radio can attest to the aggravation that occurs when you adjust your settings to include all three counties… During a good round of thunderstorms, it is hard to get any peace and quiet. In the same way that weather is no respecter of county lines, neither were our forebears to Pinson and surrounding areas.

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1818 Map of Alabama depicting county arrangements

            The Treaty of Fort Jackson effectively ended the Creek War in 1814 and opened what is now the state of Alabama to settlement by the soldiers and settlers who had come from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia to fight in the Creek War of 1813-14. When the war ended, they returned to take advantage of lands ceded to the United States by Native-Americans. As the population grew, the need for governmental infrastructure led to more counties being created in a relatively short period.

Blount County was created by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on February 6, 1818, formed from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814 and was named for GovernorWillie Blount of Tennessee, who provided significant assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War. Blount County lies in what is known as the mineral region of Alabama. Last month’s blog introduced Caleb Friley and John Jones, who established Jonesborough, near current day Bessemer. As with other settlers coming into the area, Jones and Friley first came down the Huntsville Road from Tennessee into what is now Blount and Jefferson County. They established Bear Meat Cabin in 1816. In April of 1816, Rev. Ebenezer Hearn preached his first sermon here, signaling the beginning of Methodism in central Alabama. A post office was opened in 1821, and the settlement was incorporated as Blountsville in December of 1827.

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Ole Bear Meat Cabin.  (Junior Blount County Historical Society/BhamWiki)

            Originally part of Blount County, Jefferson County was established on December 13, 1819, named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The following day, December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state in the Union. The county is located on the southernmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains and lies in the center of what was the iron, coal, and limestonemining belt of the Southern US. Long before Birmingham was founded in 1871, the county seat of Jefferson County was located in Carrollsville (near Princeton Hospital on Birmingham’s west end) from 1819 to 1821. Elyton was the county seat from 1821 to 1873, when it was usurped by the new city of Birmingham.

Village Springs, the first settlement in the Pinson area, more or less straddles the Jefferson and Blount county lines. Along with Palmerdale, Remlap is also named for the area’s Palmer family. Remlap is “Palmer” spelled backwards (some stories tell of some alleged disagreement that forced the communities to separate). Clay and Argo meet near where Jefferson and St. Clair counties meet.

St. Clair County was established on November 20, 1818 by splitting off from Shelby County. The county is named in honor of General Arthur St. Clair, who came to America from Scotland as an officer in the British Army in the French and Indian War and later served as a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

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General Arthur St. Clair

            Originally called St. Clairsville, Ashville, the county seat, was named for John Ash, a senator in the state’s first General Assembly. In 1836, a portion of St. Clair County was separated to establish Cherokee County and DeKalb County. In 1866, after the Civil War, a northeast section of the county was used to create Etowah County. St. Clair currently has county seats in both Ashville and Pell City, making it one of two counties in Alabama, and one of 33 in the US, with more than one county seat.

 

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Early Settlements

The history of what we now know as Pinson extends beyond the borders of our town… Geographically, it encompasses the entirety of the northeastern part of Jefferson County. When we examine the footprint over time, we see that it existed before there was a Jefferson County (Jefferson County was originally part of Blount County) actually; even before there was a state of Alabama.

These neighboring communities and Pinson developed from the same pages of US history – soldiers and settlers moving through the area as they moved southward from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Predominantly, they came first with military or volunteer forces joining the Creek War effort or later, taking advantage of lands forcibly ceded to the United States by Native-Americans.

Indian Cessions 1830-1834

In what was termed the “Great Migration”, veterans and others surged into Alabama. They were awed by the plentiful natural resources, rich soil, clear water, and moderate weather that bode well for future farming and settlement. In addition, what is now northeastern Jefferson County enjoyed an abundance of raw materials needed for the forging of iron and steel. The state’s population swelled from approximately 9,000 in 1810 to over 145,000 in 1820.

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Among the first settlers to our area were John Jones and Caleb Friley. Relatives by marriage, these ironsmiths from Tennessee traveled down the Huntsville Road in about 1815 with the throngs of others looking for opportunities in this new land. Jones and Friley had both been with Jackson’s West Tennessee Militia that marched through the territory in 1813. Jones and his family eventually settled in what is now Bessemer, near to where Splash Adventure Water Park now stands. After planting crops, several members of the Jones family built cabins and a stockade to protect them from Indian raids. Called Fort Jonesborough, the settlement that developed came to be known as Jonesboro. Jones Valley is also named for John Jones and his family.

map-old-jonesborough-alabama-18881888 Map showing Jonesboro

Shortly after its founding, Williamson Hawkins another veteran of the War of 1812 and reputed to be a relative of David Crockett (he hated to be called “Davy”), made it to the Jonesboro settlement in May 1815 after being detained in Tennessee “on personal business”. Hawkins drove some cattle with him, bringing “all the supplies he could pack on a horse”, including using a “drag” behind the horse to carry some of the goods. Hawkins eventually built a 2,000 acre plantation near Elyton, then the county seat of Jefferson County. Possibly at Hawkins’ urging, a colony of settlers from Rutherford County Tennessee moved into the area now known as Woodlawn. Other settlers came from South Carolina. In these groups of settlers came many of the names associated with northeast Jefferson County, including, but not limited to: Wood, Barton, Reid (Reed), Tarrant, Green (Greene), Brown, Cowden, Montgomery, and Cunningham.

Woodlawn takes its name from the Wood family, headed by Obadiah Wood and his son Edmund. The town of Rockville was established on Edmund’s twelve hundred acre plantation in 1832. A group of houses sprang up along what was known as the Georgia Road. When the Alabama and Chattanooga railroad was built in 1870, the town became known as Wood Station, and later Woodlawn.

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Obadiah Washington Wood, 1815-1893

Another resident of the area was George Roebuck, who built a home on Georgia Road near where the Boys’ Industrial School is located. Roebuck was named for George. His brother, Alfred Roebuck had a “stand” (an early combination rest area, truck stop, bed & breakfast, curb market, and used animal lot) at the intersection of the Huntsville Road and Stout’s Road in Norwood.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

2014 Tree Giveaway

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve would like to thank everyone that came out on Saturday, February 8th, 2014, the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve to support our first ever Tree Giveaway for the community of Pinson. This very special event was part of a statewide effort, lead by the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Arbor Day Foundation, to help communities impacted by the 2011 tornadoes. During our tree-age (triage, get it?) 1,500 trees were given away by the Friends of Turkey Creek volunteer group.  Also, on-hand to answer any tree care questions during the event, were horticulture experts from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the Jefferson County Storm Water Authority.

Trees provide many very important ecological services for our society, such as clean air, clean water, erosion control, and of course general beautification. Unfortunately, sever weather, and development contributes to the loss of many trees and the services they provide us, every year. We hope that these trees will help make our community a cleaner, greener place.

There are still a few trees left, if you are interested in one of these trees or have any questions about caring for your trees, please feel free to email TCNP at cyeager@bsc.edu or call us at 205.680.4116.

This event would not have been possible without the help of volunteers from the Friends of Turkey Creek that worked hard all morning to label and pass out trees. If you would like to learn more about how you can support the Friends of Turkey Creek, please visit their Facebook page!

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Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Alabama Fever

When last we visited the history of the area near and around Pinson, we had made our way through the war years during which our ancestors fought the War of 1812 and the Creek War of 1813-1814. Some settlers had arrived in the area prior to the wars while others found their way as they traveled to join Jackson and others in the war effort. These new arrivals came into Alabama from Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Of particular note are the volunteers coming into the state from eastern and middle Tennessee to help fight the war (that’s how Tennessee became known as the Volunteer state).

            These settlers traveled by way of the Huntsville Road, a trail originally cleared and used by Native-Americans. The road began in Fayetteville, Tennessee. It was lengthened as soldiers moved southward from Fayetteville to Huntsville (at Ditto’s Landing), then to Mudtown (a Native-American village located on the Cahaba River; Blountsville, down to Elyton (later the city of Birmingham), and then finally to Tuscaloosa. In very general terms, the road moved down what is now US Highway 231, merging with what is now AL Highway 79, passing Pinson on its way south and then moving down what is now Pinson Valley Parkway, into Tarrant and then turning right (approximately where the Cedar House restaurant is today) toward the neighborhoods of North Birmingham and Norwood in Birmingham.

Alabama Trail Map

The Huntsville Road, also known as “Bear Meat Cabin Road” (pictured above), took many early Alabama settlers through modern day Pinson, AL.

            Aside from the natural beauty found in the lush hills (some of the highest points in Jefferson County are found here) and valleys of what are now Blount and Jefferson counties, there were added incentives. As Native American tribes ceded territory after their defeat in the wars, a land rush occurred when settlers and land speculators moved in to establish land claims in Alabama. This influx of settlers driven by the availability of cheap and plentiful land became known as “Alabama Fever”. New arrivals were impressed with the availability of good land with plentiful natural resources where they could hunt and farm. There was plenty of available timber and other materials that they could build their homes from. They liked what they saw and determined to build a new life in the area. Both before the wars (some family histories claim kin living in the area before 1808) and afterward, they traveled to the area that they had fallen in love with and established settlements here.

            Daniel Murphree, from South Carolina, established a settlement that became known as Murphree’s Valley and, later, as Village Springs. The area between Pinson and Oneonta is still known by that name). Dr. Zachariah Hagood and his family settled here after the Creek War about 1816. The Hagood and Anderson families helped to found Oldsides Baptist Church (now Pinson First Baptist) in 1818 and included a slave member, Alfred Hagood. Dr. Zachariah, as he was known, allowed mail service to be operated from his home beginning in 1836. However, it was not Dr. Zachariah that lent his name to the town. The doc’s son, Robert opened a store at the crossroads in town. The settlement became known as Hagood’s Crossroads, and the name stuck until about 1852, when a vote by the townspeople renamed it Mount Pinson. The story goes that the name change resulted from a group of men from Pinson, Tennessee stopping in town for a few days while herding their horses and mules. They camped on a piece of land between Oldsides Baptist and Old Bradford Road that was often used by people passing through and needing to stop for the night. Later settling here, they said the area reminded them of home, so they starting calling the area Mount Pinson, later shortened to Pinson…

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Daniel Murphree’s cabin was orginally constructed in Murphree’s Valley and later relocated to Palisades Park in Oneonta, AL. Photo Courtesy of http://www.blountcountypark.com

            One of Jackson’s blacksmiths, David Hanby, and his family purchased land here by as early as 1822. The Hanby’s not only farmed, but operated a blacksmith shop (producing horseshoes and household goods) and was also successful in the mining and selling of coal. James Cunningham and Hanby both operated mills on Cunningham Creek and Turkey Creek, respectively. Most of these early mills were designed to grind corn, but could not grind wheat. Other mill owners of the day were Jonathan Moreland, John Click, and a Mr. Revis, among others.

            Our history extends beyond the borders of what we now know as the Pinson area. It extends and includes most of the communities that surround us. We will discuss these communities, the pioneers that settled them, and the ways that we are all connected in the months ahead.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

TCNP Currents: Bama Brookies

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Rare and Beautiful Jewels in the Heart of Dixie

Story By: J.T. Armstrong

Photos By: C.B. Crumpler

I continue rolling, eventually surpassing the shadows cast by the Birmingham skyline.   A short stretch on the interstate then take a left and go through the industrial district then through one of the poorer areas within the metro perimeter.  Turn left at the Jet-Pep with the bathrooms connected to the car wash and another few hundred feet and I’m by the creek.  I piece together the 5-weight and string my line through the guides, tie on some 5x.  Some bugs are coming off so I peruse through my box until I find it.  Something small, dark and can float.  Not too small, size 14, maybe 12.  I can never tell.

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I’m not a very good caster, or fisherman, but the majority of my casts fall within the banks, which (in theory) greatly increase my odds.  So I fling the fly around, and it sometimes lands in the water.  It takes a few drifts until something darts from the shadows and smashes the dry, taking it deep beneath the surface in one vicious exhibition of murderous intent.  The line tightens and sings and the rod bends and a few seconds later I lift the quarter-pound exterminator out of the water.  Blood red eyes and a fluorescent turquoise gill plate, some of the loudest colors I’ve seen on a fish.  And not a trout fish.  A bass fish. A redeye bass.

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The first time I heard the expression “Bama Brookie”, I was immediately disgusted.  Here in the heart of Dixie, when we slap our regional brand on an existing item it usually involves either making it accessible to the illiterate or deep frying it.  Maybe both.  My observations have shown there is a large overlap between people who are non-readers and people who like fried stuff.

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“Bama Brookie”seemed to equivocate a small bass with something that really is special, like the native brook trout that abound in Southern Appalachia.   The term brought to mind images of rednecks yanking half pounders out of a pond and considering their experience paramount to those who stalk fish high in the mountains of Tennessee.

I kept this notion until the first time I waded into this creek, the 65 degree current pushing past my knees.  I could still see my toes.  I ducked beneath overhanging limbs and branches of oak and pine and honeysuckle.  I think I tied on some yellow popper or something similar, something that I often use to catch dumb fish.  I began to cast and I watched multiple refusals so I began the countless iterations of explorations into the box and downsizing of tippets.  4x then 5x then smaller poppers and crawfish patterns and then a dry and then a dropper.  In some final attempt brought on by desperation I tossed a small foam hopper and dropped a stone fly on some tiny strand of tippet.  I made a tolerable cast upstream and mended up and then down, a driftless drag, and suddenly I saw the piece of foam jerk underwater and begin fleeing upstream.  When I finally pulled him out of the water I found a 4 inch fish hung on my size 8 stonefly.  I found some tiny, peacock colored bass who thought he was a trout in some river which thought it belonged in some other state, in some higher elevation.  I found something that felt very different than what I expected.

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Until recently, only one species has been recognized as the Redeye bass, but biological studies have shown that there are actually species-level variations that result in multiple different species comprising the “Redeye Bass” family.  The colors of each species vary from bright blue lateral lines to deep greens, from rich crimson eyes to stark and startling reds.  My first encounter was nearly frightening, staring into the hemorrhaging eyes of some small predator that seemed hell bent on escaping my grasp.  The colors and beauty only extend so far.  Underneath it is a slight reflection of the natives of this state: they can be fooled, repeatedly even, but they are never any less angry about it.

I spent some brief time with a local biologist who tried (God bless his soul) to explain the diet of these fish.  This resulted mostly in confusion and nausea on my part, but I managed to extract “hellgrammite” and “some other surface bugs” from the conversation.  Basically, these are small, beautifully colored fish that subsist primarily on insects with a propensity for looking up and thriving in cool flowing rivers.  Which kinda sounds similar to another highly sought after fish that thrives in cool mountain streams.  But these are, you know, in Alabama…

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For years I have been jealous of another city located about 200 miles east of where I live and work.  There is a large, cold flowing river that runs through it and rainbow and brown trout and shoal bass and striper thrive and are caught regularly.  The citizens post pictures of rose-cheeked fish and fish with dark spots surrounded by rings of bright red.  And I was always jealous of those anglers and what great opportunity they had.  To stop by after a day at the office to see what beautiful creatures they could conjure out of the water by using small flies and small tippets and complicated drifts.  But there are days when I sneak out of the office and drive down the interstate, past the Jet-Pep with the bathrooms connected to the car wash, and I stand in the cool waters and toss small patterns to skittish fish who view 4x like it’s rope.  And sometimes I catch them and look at their bright blue sides and angry red eyes and I’m not really jealous of anyone.

Story By: J.T. Armstrong

Photos By: C.B. Crumpler

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Editor’s Note: This piece was provided courtesy of Revive Fly Fishing Magazine. Please visit http://reviveflyfishing.com for more beautiful photo-essays and stories like this one.

Before your next visit to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, please be sure you are aware of our Fishing Regulations.

Thank you so much Revive for sharing your piece on Turkey Creek, we hope to see you at the creek again soon!

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Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: The War of 1812

           Although not typically thought of as a key player in the second war against Britain, Alabama can boast a number of sites and events of historical interest. Granted, only a few were directly involved with the conflict with the British, and much more revolving around the Creek War of 1813-1814.

            Between 1812 and 1815, Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory (Mississippi became a state in 1817, Alabama in 1819), and played a very minor role in the War of 1812, in terms of the conflict with the British. Aside from some relatively minor skirmishes at Mobile, then part of West Florida, Alabama essentially served as a conduit for troops moving south from Tennessee and other states to the Gulf Coast. While not a major player in the war against the British, it was on Alabama soil that much of the Creek War took place. It is important to look at the overall picture to put things in context. Articles for the next couple of months will attempt to put the “Anglo” part of the War of 1812 in perspective.

mississippi territoryThe Mississippi Territory

            There were two driving causes of the war with Britain. First, a British blockade of American ports on the Atlantic coast kept needed goods from reaching our shores and prevented American goods from being shipped to other countries. The embargo was an economic disaster for the US. Merchants were unable to see their merchandise… goods were literally rotting on the docks. When there were no sales, there were no sales taxes. As such, The young US government had defaulted on its debt. Such economic pressures caused internal discontent within individual states, who saw themselves as sovereign entities that were somewhat loosely joined in a United States “cooperative” (the fight over “state’s rights” vs. strong federal government would continue to raise its ugly head until leading to the Civil War). Some New England states were openly considering secession  with the intent of forging their own treaty with Britain. New England tended to be against the war and hoped for a compromise that would end the conflict. The forced impressment of American merchant sailors into the British navy was the second cause. It is estimated that around 10,000 Americans were forced to serve under the Union Jack.

            Much of the first two years of the war were waged in Canada, on the Great Lakes, and on the open seas of the Atlantic. US forces had attempted numerous times to invade parts of Canada, but to no avail. In fact, the failed northern invasions resulted in large parts of what is now Maine (then part of Massachusetts) falling into British hands.

1814-burningBurning of the White House by British Troops

            The parts of the War of 1812 that most people tend to remember are that the capital at Washington City was taken and burned by the British in retaliation for the US burning of York (Toronto), Canada. However, Dolley Madison was able to save the famous portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart from the burning White House. A month later, the Battle of Fort McHenry took place in Baltimore harbor and the country gained the Star Spangled Banner.        

Ft McHenrythe Battle of Ft McHenry

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.