Jackson County Organized
Early and Later Inhabitants, Visitors, & Settlers
On May 7, 1967, the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service dedicated Russell Cave, located near Bridgeport in the Doran’s Cove Community. This dedication climaxes a discovery made in 1953 by four members of the Tennessee Archeological Society. Through their efforts and those of the National Geographic Society, it has been concluded that over 4,000 years before the building of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the first Indians came to light their fires and live in Russell Cave.
Now fast-forward to nearly four centuries ago a Spaniard by the name of De Soto crossed our state from east to west looking for gold. De Soto’s travels took him through Jackson County according to a well-known Indian author, Mr. Claude Thornhill of Pisgah, AL.
These white men probably saw a few Indian villages scattered here and there, but in the century and a half after De Soto marched across Jackson County, it was in the possession of four tribes, the Choctaws, Creeks, Cherokees, and Chickasaws.
In 1682 La Salle came down the Mississippi River from Canada and claimed all territories drained by the “Father of Waters” for France, but the French and Spanish were definitely explorers rather than settlers.
After the French and Indian Wars in 1763, the British began to send expeditions into the territory to buy land from the Indians, to trade, and to make friends. During the Revolutionary War and thereafter, the white man’s invasion of Jackson County increased steadily; and by 1810 the Indians joined in an alliance under the famed Indian Chief, Tecumseh, to try and stop it.
Many of the Cherokee Indians sided with the white man, and with their help, the armies of Tecumseh were decisively beaten in 1814 at Horseshoe Bend. The white commander at the battle was a man the Indians called “Sharp Knife,” General Andrew Jackson, for whom Jackson County is named.
Several Indian mounds have been found in Jackson County. One that may be seen today is located across the river from old Bellefonte. Many others were buried underwater when TVA created man-made lakes during the 1930’s.
In 1816 Alabama was given a territorial government of its own. Settlers poured in from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, bringing with them their slaves and other properties.
About this date many well-known Jackson County families were coming into the region. Paint Rock Valley was getting her first settlesr; Captain James Doran settled in Doran’s Cove; Henry Derrick came to old Woodville in 1815 from East Tennessee; and Hans Kennamer and sons were living in Kennamer’s Cove.
Jackson County was created by an Act of the State Legislature on December 13,1819, then in session in Huntsville, just four days before the Legislature adjourned along with six other new counties in Alabama. The next day, December 14, 1819, Alabama was admitted as a state in the Union. Jackson County was named in honor of General Andrew Jackson. He was then visiting in Huntsville and racing “his mettled steeds” at the Old Green Bottom Race Track and Inn, four miles north of the city. The Inn has been reconstructed and can now be seen on the campus of Alabama A & M University.
It is very probable that Jackson County had a very important visitor ride down its old stage road in the latter part of May 1819. President James Monroe visited the Brainerd Mission School for Cherokee Indians on May 27, 1819 and arrived in Huntsville, unannounced, June 1st.
In August 1822, R.J. Meigs, Jr. Postmaster General, established a mail route “from Huntsville to Jackson Courthouse, once every two weeks, forty-six miles.” It was also in 1822 that one of the famous Cherokee leaders, Sequoyah, invented the Cherokee alphabet and announced it to a group of chiefs at Sauta, a small village in Jackson County. John Ross, a half-breed Indian chief from Chattanooga, made many trips into Jackson County as an agent for the U.S. Government. He later refused to sign the treaty that would send his people to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
The first seat of justice or county seat of Jackson County was located at Sauta, which some historians say was some four miles south of Larkinsville, near Birdsong Spring or the House of Happiness. According to Mr. Claude Thornhill, noted Jackson County authority on Indian history, says Sauta was established in 1784 where Dragging Canoe and his dissatisfied Cherokees and Chickamaugas migrated southward after a treaty had ceded a great tract of Cherokee Territory in Tennessee and Kentucky to the whites. The boundaries of Jackson County have changed six times since its organization.
The only governor Jackson County furnished the State was Samuel B. Moore. He was born just over the border in Franklin County, Tennessee, in 1789. He came to Jackson County at an early date and settled two miles northeast of Woodville at the Spout Spring. He represented this county in the Legislature in 1823, and served three more terms before he was elected to the State Senate in 1828, being president of that body in 1831. When Gov. Gabriel Moore resigned to serve in the U.S. Senate, Samuel Moore succeeded him in the executive office and held the office of governor until December 1831.
Steamboat navigation on the Tennessee River was quite important in the early days of Jackson County. The Civil War destroyed the river shipping; however the trade was revived after the war and flourished until the eighties.
The first courthouse was built at Bellefonte, just after the year 1828. It served the people of the Jackson County thirty-five years or longer. When an Act was passed in the Legislature to vote on moving the county seat from Bellefonte, approved December 17, 1859, and for nine years the question was before the people. Finally Scottsboro became the county seat and the county records were moved from Bellefonte on Friday, November 13, 1868.
And so Jackson County became organized . . . . .