Bibb County Alabama



Bibb County History - by Smith and DeLand - 1888

Bibb County History in Alabama As It Is by Benjamin F. Riley - 1893

Water Mills of Bibb County in 1886


Population: White, 6,000; colored, 3,000\. Area, 610 square miles. Woodland, all. Hilly lands, with long-leaf pine, 310 square miles. Cahaba coal fields, Vlh square miles. Eoup's Valley, 100 square miles. Valley lands south of Cahaba coal fields, 75 square miles. Gravelly hills, with long-leaf pines, 110 square miles.
Acres in cotton, approximately, 15,737; in corn, 18,816 ; in oats, 3,935 ; in wheat, 3,125 ; in rye, 151: in tobacco, 36; in sugar-cane, 36; in sweet potatoes, 308. Approximate number of bales of cotton, 5,931.
County Seat - Centerville; population 300: located on Cahaba River.
Post offices in the County - Abercrombie, Affonee, Ashby, Bibbville, Blocton, Brierfield, Centerville, Furnace, Green Pond, Harrisburgh, New Marrs, Pondville, Randolph, River Bend, Scottsville, Six Mile, Slick, Tionus, Woodstock.
Formerly, Bibb County was one of the largest counties in the State; but a great deal of its area has been cut off to make up the surrounding counties established later on in the history of the State.
In the first days of its settlement, and for a long time, agriculture was the only pursuit of its citizens; but along in the days of the Confederacy the industries began to be diversified, and some attention was given to her minerals. But her inhabitants soon settled again into the tilling of the soil, and not until a few years ago have her great resources of mineral and timber wealth been discovered; and while she stands today among the richest and most wonderful of the counties of the great Commonwealth, she has not lost much of her agricultural value.
Very little corn is bought by the farmers, and they could easily raise it all. Besides this, the soil produces with ease and in abundance oats, rye, potatoes, peas, rice, sugar-cane, and in fact almost everything except wheat. The forests and fields afford excellent pasturage for cattle and hogs, though as yet not much attention is paid to either, as a rule. A most important crop is grass, which can be raised at a considerable profit; and in many parts of the county the farmers are turning their attention to stock-raising. The fertility of the lands can not be too highly spoken of.
The entire country in the eastern portion of the county is full of iron of the finest quality. Within a short distance lie beds of limestone, and coal is near by. Iron can be made at a small cost. Many varieties of marble are found which could be easily utilized. The finest fire-clay exists in many places, and is being worked at two points. Fine brick are made. Yellow ochre is found and some gold-bearing quality. There are also manganese, asbestos, saltpetre, and some other inferior minerals.
Great forests of pine timber offer a rich harvest to mill men, and some of them are being worked. The county is shaded by the finest of timbers, embracing hickory, oak, gum, maple, beech, poplar, walnut, chestnut, elm, persimmon, cottonwood, and the finest of cedar; all of this timber could be put to use, and the county abounds in good openings for wooden manufactories.
Anywhere on the banks of the beautiful streams may be found fine water-powers, where small manufactories could be run. The most important of those streams are the Cahaba and Little Cahaba Rivers, and Haysoy, Shultz, Shades, Ockmulgee, Sandy, Six Mile, and Mahean Creeks. On most all of them are found mills and gins, and many sites for others.
The established industries of Bibb are limited for a county of so much material wealth, but they are important. A great many saw-mills are running, which shiji quantities of lumber to other markets. Notable among these are Harrison's, at Randolph, Carter's, at Brierfield, Martin Strickland's, at Blaston, besides the many smaller ones.
The Brierfield Coal & Iron Company own the most extensive manufacturing plant. They mine coal, make coke, make pig iron, run it through rolling mills, cast it at the foundry, make nails, and put up some machinery. The Cahaba Coal Mining Company, at Blaston, are mining immense quantities of coal, which they make into coke and ship to Anniston. The Edwards Iron Company, at Woodstock, will be running very soon. At Ashley and Bibbville there are large fire and machine made brick works, which ship large quantities. At Scottsville, there is a flouring mill and wool-carding mill.
The places of importance are - Centerville, the county seat, Randolph, Brierfield, Six Mile, Blaston, Woodstock, Green Pond and Scottsville.
The county is skirted by two railroads, the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia on the east, and the Alabama Great Southern on the west. Two others are projected through the center. The Mobile & Birmingham has been located, and will strike Ashley Furnace, Blaston and Woodstock, and will run directly through the coal and iron fields. The Selma & Cahaba Valley is a proposed line through the timber, marble and coal regions. Boats have run as high up the Cahaba River as Centerville, and that stream can easily be made navigable, thus giving an outlet by water.
The water and climate is fine, and health good. Good schools are accessible at all points. The morals of the people are above the average, there being little business in the courts - churches are well supported.
Trade is good and many merchants have made fortunes. The people only lack enterprise to some extent, though they are awakening to a due sense of the value of their county. Lands can be bought cheap, and there is a great deal of public land subject to entry.
A minute description would require a large volume, and the above are only a few points touching the true status of the county. There is an inviting field for those who desire to invest, and in this age of advancement and progress we soon expect to see our county put down among the first of the State. The county is entirely out of debt, and only imposes a tax of forty-five cents on the $100.
[Source: Northern Alabama - Historical and Biographical by Smith & De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
The county of Bibb was established in 1818 and called by the name of Cahaba. Two years later it was changed to that of Bibb, in honor of William W. Bibb, the first Governor of the State.In some respects Bibb is a most remarkable county, combining in a wonderful manner many elements of wealth, and in great profusion. In minerals it ranks among the foremost counties of Alabama. Its timbers are varied and of superior character, while its lands yield splendidly, and its healthfulness is superior. No one can read an accurate description of Bibb without being impressed with its intrinsic greatness.
Its area embraces 610 square miles.Population in 1870, 7,469; population in 1880, 9,487. White, 5,887; colored, 3,600.
Tilled Land: 43,796 acres.—Area planted in cotton, 15,737 acres; in com, 18,816 acres; in oats, 2,935 acres; in wheat, 3,125 acres; in rye, 151 acres; in tobacco, 36 acres; in sugar-cane, 36 acres ; in sweet potatoes, 368 acres.
Cotton Production: 4,843 bales.
In the main, the face of the country in Bibb is broken. There are, however, many portions of the country which are gently rolling, in which agriculture is prosecuted with gratifying success. There is no lack of fertility in the soil. Along the river bottoms there are vast areas of the most level and fertile lauds. In some cases they have been in cultivation nearly half a century, and yet the yield of forty bushels to the acre is not at all unusual. Lying along the Cahaba river there are lands which yield a bale of cotton to the acre. Even along the high ridges where the tallest pines grow, the land is usually of good quality. Many of the best farming lands are found between the center and northeastern corner of the county. The soils are red, buff, and gray. Of these prevailing varieties throughout the county, the red lands are superior in fertility, and are usually chosen by planters for grain, while the gray and brown soils are devoted to the production of cotton. In the southern half of the county the lands are both red and brown and seem most eagerly sought by planters because of the conjunction of these cotton and grain soils.Here are consequently found many excellent lands for farms. Perhaps the greater part of the cotton produced in the county is grown upon the brown loam lands. Cotton, grain, and the esculents grow with equal readiness, the principal crops being cotton, corn, oats, wheat, rye, sugar-cane, sweet potatoes, rice and field peas. Herbage of different varieties flourishes, as is attested by the superior stock with which one meets in every part of the county. Some of the finest horses and best milch cows in the State are found in Bibb. With proper facilities stock-raising could be made quite a lucrative branch of business.

The numerous hill and ridge ranges in the county are full of iron, coal, marble, and limestone. All these exist in great and varied abundance. The iron ores are not surpassed for purity by any others in the State. They are principally brown hematite. Taken in connection with the fact that adjacent to these vast deposits of iron lie the famous Cahaba coalfields, and one can readily see the elements of a colossal prosperity which are possessed by the county of Bibb. The whole northern portion of the county is one solid domain of splendid coal. An additional advantage is suggested by the proximity of these minerals to the Alabama river, where they can be readily loaded upon barges and floated to the Gulf of Mexico. Or, else, large barges could be floated down the Cahaba river, if it were cleared of its barriers, and thence upon the broad bosom of the Alabama. Thus the county is highly favored in the possession of these vast resources of minerals, as it is in possessing facilities for cheap transportation to the Southern seas, and thence to the regions beyond. For several years the enterprising citizens of Selma have been contemplating the construction of a line of communication with these extensive natural deposits of coal and iron, and with the deep water transportation afforded in that direction, these elements of mineral wealth will no doubt seek that route to the sea.

The limestone and marble deposits of the county are certainly wonderful. Along precipitous hillsides there are solid walls of these valuable stones, revealing in some instances a height of fully fifty feet. This is a common occurrence along both the Little and Big Cahaba rivers. In addition to this, great bowlders of limestone as large as cottages lie along the face of the country. These deposits, both of marble and limestone, may be quarried with great ease and slight expense. These mammoth quarries of limestone and marble are in close proximity to the deposits of iron and coal. The quantities of these natural elements of wealth—coal, iron, marble, and limestone—seem to be inexhaustible. The county also contains manganese, barytes, and ochre. Standing in immediate connection with these are the forests of the county, which embrace all the hard woods, such as the several species of oak, poplar, elm, beech, gum, maple, and pine. Vast bodies of first-class timber oftentimes overspread the mineral treasures which are hidden beneath.
The county is not excelled in the abundance and excellence of its water. Magnificent springs of the purest limestone gush forth unceasingly and in the greatest quantities from the rugged hills which abound. Again, in other sections, there are immense springs of freestone. Large portions of the population use water from these numerous and perpetual springs.The streams are: the Cahaba and Little Cahaba rivers, and Shade's Sandy, Blue Cat, Haysoppy, Afonce, Mahan's, Hill's, and Shoultz creeks. These possess immense water-power. In addition to its deep and rapid current, Shoultz creek is bordered sometimes by limestone banks which rise as high as seventy-five feet. The inclination and pitch of all these streams suggest the ease with which they might be employed in connection with the mechanical arts. Many of the streams of Bibb wend their way through high ramparts of marble and limestone.
There are five extensive public industries in Bibb, viz : the Brierfield Coal and Coke Works, aud the nail factory, foundry, and furnace at Brierfield, and the establishment of the Cahaba Coal and Coke Company in the western part of the county.The East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia railroad penetrates the eastern portion of the county, furnishing transportation to the inhabitants of that section, while those further west resort to the Alabama Great Southern railroad, as it touches the county in that direction. The line of greatest value is now projected, and is being built—the Mobile and Birmingham. The purpose of the proprietors of this line is to have it penetrate the heart of the two great coal regions of Alabama—the Warrior and the Cahaba coalfields.. When completed, this will develop the resources of Bibb as nothing else can. The other railroads which touch the county now barely skirt around the edge of the famous Cahaba coalfield; this road will strike through its center.
The places of greatest importance are Centreville, the county-seat,with a population of several hundred, Scottsville, Six Mile, Blocton,Randolph, Greenpond, and Brierfield. These are favored with educational and religious advantages. At Centreville, Six Mile, and Greenpond there are schools of high merit. As in every other county in the State, there is a common school system which reaches every precinct and applies to all classes of population in the county.
The value of lands will depend upon their improvement, location, topography, and nearness, to railroads. They may be purchased for $2.50 per acre, and will range from this to $20 per acre. The eyes of capitalists are being eagerly turned to this county, and the salable lands are being rapidly taken up. In view of the advantages already possessed by the county, coupled with those that are destined soon tobe secured, no section of the State affords rarer advantages to those seeking locations for future homes, or for capitalists seeking a profitable outlay of money.
Government land to the extent of 61,680 acres are embraced in the county.
Source: Alabama As It Is by Benjamin Franklin Riley, D. D., 1887 , Transcribed by C. Anthony




The following is a list of the water powers that are utilized.  The most of these powers are small, but they make a large aggregate, and they represent only an insignificant part of the power that is capable of development.


BIBB COUNTY.......................................................................................... ....... H.P.

Scottsville Flour & Grist Mill, Scottsville, flour and grist mill ..................................... 30

Palmetto Flouring & Grist Mill, Brierfleld, flour and grist mill.................................... 30

Williams Grist Mill. Blocton, flour and grist mill ........................................................ 10

William S. Mathews. Data, flour and grist mill............................................................ 8

Six Mile Custom Mill, Six Mile, flour and grist mill ................................................... 15

Mayfield Bros., Mertz, lumber and timber mill......................................................... 29

Scottsville, Wool Carder, Scottsville. woolen goods................................................ 20

J. M. Battle, (Six Mile Creek), Six Mile, flour and grist mill. ..................................... 50

W. C. Trott, (Six Mile Creek), Six Mile, cotton gin and grist mill .............................. 50

W. H. Thomas. (Six Mile Creek), Ashley, lumber and grist mill................................ 35

Dock Mahan. (Mann's Creek), Brierfleld, wool carder and grist mill ........................ 40

                                       Bessemer Land & Improvement Co. (Schultz Creek),

                                                   Lopez, wool carder, grist mill and cotton gin ....... 100

R. R. McCally, (Hills Creek), Blocton. gin. lumber and grist .................................. 30

E. M. Timbro, (Schultz Creek), Centerville, grist mill ........................................... 30

F. H. James, (Haysoppy Creek). Centerville. grist mill............................................. 20

A. L. Elam, (Affonee Creek.) Affonee, grist mill ...................................................... 15


Source: Bulletin, Geological Survey of Alabama, by Truman H. Aldrich, 1886 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney



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