This week in 1812, Clarke County, Alabama was established by the Mississippi Territory. It was pretty important during the Civil War as salt was produced there. A small area in the county is known as Rockville where there was a large salt works where salt was mined. The salt was mined around 1816-1820, but of course, the Indians had obtained it from there much much prior to that. If only we could go back and live as they did, I would be a really happy person. And so would many in my family. The county is located between the Alabama and the Tombigbee Rivers as they join at the bottom tip of the county at the beginning of the Mobile River. The area is pretty much dirt roads and swampy area.
The country was named after General John Clarke who was from, and later became governor of, Georgia. I’ve seen the name before as now I live in Georgia and I love history. Everything ties together in some way. You can count on that. The first county seat was in Clarkesville and was later moved to a more central location (as people wanted things in those days…hence Montgomery being the state capital after the others burned down or whatever other reason). The name of that town was Macon and would later be changed to Grove Hill.
One of the important things to remember was that around the beginnings of the county, there was still a large number of Native Americans in the area. There were numerous forts in the area including Fort Sinquefield which is in the general area of Whatley on Hwy 84 East on the way to Monroeville, the birthplace of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird) and home to her friend, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood).
As a child in the state of Alabama, one is required to take Alabama History for at least two years. Schools may be different, but I took it both in the 4th grade and in the 9th grade, along with Geography. We learned that in its much earlier days, the county was covered in a shallow body of water. Skeletal remains have been found in the area to support the hypothesis. When the Native American tribes came into the area, long after the water receded, they made shelters in caves and set up settlements. They fed on the large amount of wildlife that roams the county. With the rivers and streams covering that southwestern part of the state, it created the perfect breeding ground for deer, squirrels, beavers, and other animals used for food and clothing. Trade was the word in those days.
My great-great-great-grandmother on my granddad’s side of the family was said to be Choctaw, but when research was conducted, her maiden name ended up being Moncreif. That is a Scottish name and her lineage has been traced back to Scotland. She could have had dark skin, but I’m not thinking she was a native. It is said that my great-grandmother on my grandmother’s side was Cherokee, but I’m thinking that is not correct either because the Cherokee indian nation was predominantly in the northeast corner of the state including Fort Payne and Gadsden. I haven’t been able to get as much research done as I had wished, but whatever happened, it ended up in Clarke County.
I could write for days on the history of Clarke County. From The Creek War to The Mitchem Beat War, battles have been fought for centuries and that’s what has made the county and its people. I wouldn’t have changed a thing as it is what made us who we are. River dwellers, creek stompers, corn and cotton farmers, and deer hunters all go hand in hand. They are a wonderful people and many would give you the shirts off their backs with nothing asked in return. Many people in this world could learn a lot from them and could learn a lot from their history.