ALGenWeb: Lowndes County, AL - Town descriptions

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Lowndes County, Alabama 


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Communities and Towns

The following was written by Kitty Cottingham Dean in 1972 for the Lowndes County Historical & Genealogical Society.  Information in brackets [  ] added by Carolyn Golowka.  If you have additional information on these towns or any others in Lowndes County that you are willing to share, please let me know.

     Hayneville is the county seat and it takes its name from a famous US Senator from South Carolina, Robert Y. Hayne, whose debate with Daniel Webster in the tempestuous days before the War between the States lives forever in America's political classics.  The town was first called "Big Swamp Creek."
     Hayneville was a lively village in the early 1800's with a famous race course, hotels, cock fights at the square and many law offices lining the main street.  Old Newspapers carry accounts of elegant lavish parties in the large homes.

     Fort Deposit was created when a fort was built in 1813 by General Ferdinand L. Claiborne to store supplies for the fight with the Creeks and the War of 1812.  There he left his cannon, baggage, wagons, and wounded men with 100 men as guards.  After the defeat of the Native Americans at Holy Ground, this place was used by early settlers for protection.  The early Federal Road ran by the fort.  The original fort was located just northeast of the present Myrtlewood Cemetery in the Gilmer Hills area. [The community was once know as Ballard's Precinct and was incorporated as Fort Deposit on  February 13, 1891.]
     Today [1972] Fort Deposit is an industrial pocket in Lowndes County, possessing a pajama factory, pecan and poultry businesses, and an engineering supply manufacturing plant.  The Chamber of Commerce plans to renovate an antebellum farm house near the town for a tourist attraction.

     Lowndesboro was settled after the Creek Indian War ended in 1814.  In 1815-1816, groups of settlers entered into what would become Lowndesboro.  The area was originally named McGill's Hill, named for John and Selina McGill.  The Mount Harmony Presbyterian Church was founded in 1823 and the McGills were charter members.  
     The ports of Newport Landing and Loch Ranza were adjuncts to the town.  The first postmaster at Loch Ranza in 1822 was William Robinson, a very prominent plantation owner living in Lowndesboro.  Warehouses were along the Alabama River where plantation owners stored their cotton.  Boats would take on the cotton and travel downriver to Mobile where the cotton would be transferred to vessels taking it to other markets.
     Originally part of Montgomery County, McGill's Hill became a part of Lowndes County when it was created on January 20, 1830.  John Cook, a surveyor at the end of running the lines of the settlement in the newly created County when it was created from other counties, made a plat and dated it June 23, 1830.  In 1832 the townsfolk voted to change the name to Lowndesborough and by the late 1830s the name was shortened to Lowndesboro.  
     Union General James H. Wilson captured Selma on April 2, 1865 in the Civil War.  He and his troops stayed in Selma until April 10th when they began a march towards Montgomery.  They camped one mile outside Benton on April 11th.  From there they passed through Lowndesboro. In the journal of a Union Surgeon with Wilson's Raiders was written," This is one of the most beautiful places we have yet passed through.  It is built up of large elegant mansions.  It has a population of about one-thousand and five hundred.  Smalpox was raging [a hoax to move the Yankees on].  It was here that we received the news that Richmond had fallen on April 2nd."  General Wilson had camped near D. W. Wooten's residence [called 'Rosewood'] for headquarters.  After news of April 2nd, he marched his men onto Montgomery.  It was said the Yankee troops were disappointed that Montgomery capitulated without a skirmish.

     Benton village was named for a family of the same name.  It was here that the first meeting of the Alabama Education Association (AEA) was held in the year of 1856, though Selma claims the honor.  Education prior to this date had been held in contempt and ridicule by planters and wealthy merchants who preferred to educate their children in private or church schools.  [The Bentoak Farm has a nice page with a little bit of Benton and Lowndes County History on it website.]

     Collirene was named for William Rufus King, US Senator and later vice president under Fillmore.  He did not serve in this position because of his untimely death due to illness.  He was a guest in "Sand Hill" when his host was lamenting the name of the community.  King suggested a combination of the Latin words "Collis," meaning hills and "Arena," meaning sand.  He created the name Collirene.

     Manack was named for Sam McNac, a half-breed who operated a trading post and tavern there in 1810.

     Burkville (Burkeville) was named for the Burk family.  The name is spelled both ways. [Today, 2003, General Electric owns much property in Burkeville and runs a plastics plant there. They have restored the Warren Stone plantation home and keep good care of the Stone cemetery.]

     Letohatchie (Letohatchee) was given this Native American name which means "Big Swamp."

     Tyler, legend has it, was named for John Tyler who became president in 1841 after William Henry Harrison died after one month in office.  

     Calhoun, again as legend has it, was named for John C. Calhoun, the fiery orator from Sough Carolina who was a staunch defender of slavery. [A famous school for African Americans, The Calhoun School, was started here by Charlotte Thorn in the 1890s.  Click here to read more.]

     Fostoria was named for William Foster, an early settler in that small community.

     Sandy Ridge is in the southeastern portion of the county ans was first called Payne's Precinct.

     Saint Clair was a small stop on the Western of Alabama Railroad.  It was originally called Franks.

     Pleasant Hill is a nice little community that is bisected by the Dallas-Lowndes County line.  The Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Cemetery has the line running right through it so that some 'inhabitants' are in Dallas and some in Lowndes.  It was first called Fort Rascal for a German trader because of his devious traits.  [Today, 2014, the Presbyterian Church has been partially restored.  You can read more about and find out how to contribute to this worthwhile project at  .]


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I do not live in Alabama so I am unable to help with your personal research questions. All the information I know about Lowndes County is posted promptly on this site. Please visit the "Research Resources" section of this site. I would suggest that if you don't find the information your looking for here, that you join the email list and post your question on the query board. The more places you ask the question, the better your chances of getting an answer.

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