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Calhoun County, Alabama



Calhoun County History by Smith and DeLand - 1888

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

The Story of Anniston - 1887


Population: White: 14,872: colored, 4,921. Area, 640 square miles. Woodland, all. Coosa Valley and Coosa coal fields, 640 square miles.

Acres in cotton, approximately, 26,435: in corn, 33,714: in oats, 8,852; in wheat, 10,745; in rye, 287; in tobacco, 29; in sweet potatoes, 283. Approximate number of bales of cotton, 11,927.

County Seat - Jacksonville; population 5,000; on East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad.

Newspapers published at County Seat - Republican, democratic; at Anniston, Hot Blast, Watchman, and Southern Industry, all democratic; at Cross Plains, Post, democratic; at Oxford, Echo, local.

Post offices in the County - Adelia, Alexandria, Allsup, Anniston, Beasley, Bera, Bruner, Bynum, Cane Creek, Choccolocco, Cross Plains, Davisville, De Armanville, Duke, Eulaton, Francis, Germania, Grayton, Hebron, Jacksonville, Jenkins, Ladiga, Mack,  Marthadell, Martin's Cross-roads, Merrellton, Morrisville, Nance, Ohatchee, Ottery, Oxanna, Oxford, Peaceburgh, Peek's Hill, Rabbit Town, Randall, Weaver's Station, White Plains.

Calhoun County, in the northeastern part of the State, is bounded on the north by Etowah and Cherokee Counties, on the east by Cleburne, on the south by Cleburne and Talladega, and on the west by St. Clair. It was organized December 18, 1833, out of territory ceded the March before by the Creek Indians.

Exclusive of town lots, railroad rights of way, and public lands, 324,216 acres of land are assessed for taxation at a valuation of $1,461,722, town lots and improvements are valued at $1,469,671, and personal property at $2,066,078; in all $4,997,471. Since these values were fixed on the first of January last, there has been something like a "boom" in Anniston and other parts, and they would now be not less than fifty per cent, greater.

The county tax for all purposes is forty cents on the $100, one-third loss than last year and previous years. Except about $14,000 for the new court-house, the county is out of debt.

There are 116 miles of railway in the county, as follows: The East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad, 37.73 miles; the East & West Railroad, 36.58 miles; the Georgia Pacific Railroad, 30.50 miles; and the Anniston & Atlantic Railroad, 11.42 miles. These are valued at $855,078. In addition, the .Jacksonville, Gadsden  & Atalla Railroad is partly graded; and the Anniston & Cincinnati Railroad, from Anniston to Atalla, will be open for traffic by the first of February next. These will increase the railroad mileage of the county nearly forty miles. The Georgia Central Railroad extension, projected from Carrollton,Ga., to Decatur, Ala., has been surveyed through the county.

There are about 100,000 acres of improved lands in the county, which, in 1880, were divided into 1,906 farms, the annual products of which were worth more than $1,000,000 then, and are worth much more now.

Except the western slopes of the hills forming its eastern boundary, the county lies wholly in what is known as the Coosa Valley, which is a continuation of the valleys of Virginia and East Tennessee, and has the same physical and geological characteristics. It is a trough between the metamorphic area and the coal fields, broken by considerable sandstone elevations, with wide, beautiful, and fertile valleys, abundantly wooded and watered. These valleys, gently rolling, not swampy or subject to overflow, are finely adapted to cotton, corn, small grains, red clover, and all the grasses, and the whole county is specially suited for stock-growing.

The county is rich in minerals - perhaps the richest in the State. Almost everywhere brown hematite iron ore abounds, and around the bases and on the sides of the sandstone hills it is in amazing quantities and of the greatest richness. From Oxford to Cross Plains, in the Choccolocco and Alexandria valleys. and in the Colvin Mountains, there are the greatest masses of it everywhere exposed on the surface, and everywhere seemingly inexhaustible. There is not probably one single section of land in the county without ore. In the Colvin Mountains, in close proximity to the brown ores, there are veins of red hematite scarcely inferior in extent, and not inferior in quality, to those of the famous Red Mountain in Jefferson County.

Manganese, in greater or less quantity, is found in many of the brown hematite beds, and independently in large deposits. Limestone, and marble of excellent quality, are abundant, as, also, kaolin, sandstone, barite, and fire-brick clay, with some copper, lead, and lithograjihic stone. The Choccolocco, Terrapin, Tallasahatchie, Ohatchee, and Cane Creeks, and the Coosa River, furnish never-failing and almost limitless water-power. For all domestic and agricultural purposes, water abounds in every part of the county.

Attention has only recently been turned to the vast mineral wealth and unequaled manufacturing advantages of this county, and industrial development has only fairly begun. In 1873 the first furnace was erected in Anniston, which was followed six years later by a second, both owned by the Woodstock Iron Company, and two others are being erected there by the same company. Anniston has now in operation, in addition to the furnaces, car works with $30,000 capital; car-wheel works and rolling-mill, $200,000; compress and warehouse, $100,000; pipe works (in construction), $300,000; cotton mills, $250,000; steel bloomery, $50,000; fire-brick works, $25,000; boiler shops, machine shops, planing mills, etc., $250,000; three banks; land company, $3,000,000; and claims a population of over 9,000, with water-works, electric lights, costly churches, first-class schools, well-graded streets, a large general merchandise business, and the finest hotel in the State. The capital of the Woodstock Iron Company is $3,000,000. Jacksonville, twelve miles north of Anniston, with mineral resources, manufacturing facilities, and location unsurpassed, has just organized a land and improvement company, with large capital, which has entered into negotiations for the early inauguration of several large industrial enterprises that will be under way by the close of the year. Oxford, four miles below Anniston, with 1,200 inhabitants, and Cross Plains, twelve miles north of Jacksonville, with 800 people, have situations in all respects as good as those of Anniston and Jacksonville, and are built up in the midst of the richest mineral deposits of this section. Alexandria, in the loveliest valley in the county, is on the line of the Anniston & Cincinnati Railroad, and has a bright future. There are other thriving villages, as White Plains, Germania, Oxanna, Morrisville, Cane Creek, Choccolocco, etc.

There is a State Normal School at Jacksonville, excellently conducted high schools at Anniston, Oxford, Cross Plains, and Alexandria, and good public schools and churches in every neighborhood. There are thirty-eight post offices in the county, about half of which have daily mails. No person in the county lives more than five or six miles from a railroad. There is a good deal of government land subject to homestead entry. Improved lands can be bought at from $5 to $50 an acre, the cheaper lands being more or less broken, but well wooded and watered and fertile.

Source: Northern Alabama - Historical and Biographical by Smith & De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


This county was organized in 1832, and was named Benton. This name it retained until 1858, when it was changed to the one it now bears, which was given in honor of the great South Carolina statesman. Calhoun has long been regarded one of the best agricultural counties of the State. This reputation it still enjoys. In addition to this, however, it is now regarded one of the leading counties in the fertility of its mineral resources. The progress which has been made in Calhoun within the last few years has been amazing, and serves to show what pluck and energy can achieve when coupled with the requisite means of progress. The vast mineral stores which have been discovered in the hills and mountains of Calhoun are serving greatly to enrich the county, and by their development to benefit mankind. Looking at it more in detail we find that Calhoun has an area of 640 square miles.

Population in 1870, 13,980; population in 1880, 19,591. White, 14,134; colored, 5,457- The population has greatly increased within the last six years.

Tilled Land: 93,857 acres.—Area planted in cotton, 26,435 acres; in corn, 33,714 acres; in oats, 8,852 acres; in wheat, 10,745 acres; in rye, 287 acres; in tobacco, 29 acres; in sweet potatoes, 283 acres.

Cotton Production: 10,848 bales.

The surface of Calhoun is hilly and uneven, and presents the usual characteristics of a mineral region. But the great variety of soils only indicates the vast diversity of productions, for the county seems capable of producing every plant that grows in the Temperate Zone.

As will be seen from the above statistics, vast quantities of land are tilled in the county, and the capacity of its soils may be judged from the variety of its productions. In the valleys and along the numerous water courses are found the best lands in Calhoun; but, while they are capable of a greater yield per acre than the higher lands, they are more difficult of cultivation. The valley lands are usually chosen for cotton, while the uplands are generally devoted to the raising of com, wheat, oats, rye, aud Irish and sweet potatoes, which are the staple productions of the county. Many minor crops, such as peas and peanuts, are also annually produced.

The finest lands of Calhoun are found in the Alexandria and Choccolocco Valleys, which are covered with splendid farms, and which support a thrifty and progressive population.

The forests of Calhoun support pine (both long and short-leaf), red, black, white, post, turkey, and Spanish oaks, hickory, walnut, beech, poplar, elm, ash, and sweet gum. This fact coupled with that of a vast supply of water in every part of the county, greatly enhances it as a place of residence. Through different portions of Calhoun there flow the Coosa river and Ohatchee, Cane, and Choccolocco creeks.

The mountain and hill sections abound in the finest springs, some of which have water of almost icy coolness. Not least among the attractive features of Calhoun county is its fruit-producing capacity. Superb orchard fruits are raised in every part of the county. Apples, peaches, and pears ripen quite readily, and, as they are but seldom interfered with by frosts, they become a source of revenue to fruit-growers. Cherries, grapes, and plums flourish also with the greatest readiness.

The orefields and limestone deposits of Calhoun county constitute its chief glory. From present indications these resources are practically exhaustless.

The center of interest in this portion of the State is the city of Anniston, whose rapid strides in population, and in the elements that constitute a bustling city, are simply amazing.

Charcoal iron has made Anniston, a beautiful place of 5,000 inhabitants. Its enterprises, after the two furnaces, are:Carwheel works, that sell to a large territory; car works, a foundry and machine shop, doing a large variety of work; a cotton factory, one of the largest and best in the South.

It is here that the development of the different ores of the county find fullest expression. Its great industries already named, together with its ores and neighboring mines, and the fertile farming region by which it is surrounded, and its rapid expansion iuto a considerablecity, make it at once one of the most remarkable places on the continent. It is located in a beautiful, green valley, and is engirdled by a rampart of high mountains. Nature seems to have designed the location for just such a city as is there being rapidly built. The valley inlets and outlets seem the natural gateways for the railroads. No haste seems to have been exhibited in building the city, for the streets are adorned with architectural elegance, the sidewalks are
paved, and the broad streets of eighty feet in width are admirably graded, macadamized, and guttered with stone.

Every house is erected with a view to permanence. One of the chief objects of attraction is the Anniston Inn, a magnificent hotel, which crowns a slight eminence in the heart of the city. It has been built at a cost of $120,000, and is an object of exceeding great attraction. In visiting that part of the city occupied by the operatives, the visitor can not help being impressed with the tranquil contentment and happiness which seem everywhere to prevail.

Jacksonville, the county-seat, with a population of 1,500, is also a most desirable and growing town. Besides its superb social advantages, it has excellent churches and superior educational advantages. A large Normal school is established here, and it deservedly ranks with the largest schools in the State. In the surrounding country are many splendid farm. Stock-raising has received considerable attention, and is rapidly becoming one of the most profitable branches of industry in the county.

Other points of interest are Oxanna, Oxford, Cross Plains, and White Plains. The county ranks among the first in the State in its educational facilities. At all the places named there are first-class schools. At Oxford there is a college of considerable repute. Transportation is afforded by the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia, Georgia Pacific, the Anniston and Atlantic, and the East and West railroads. Advantages for religious worship exist not only in the centers, but throughout the county.

Lands are purchasable at rates quite moderate for so progressive a section, where the tendency of real estate is invariably upward. Wild lands may be had at $5 and $10 per acre, aud cultivated farms at $15 and $50 per acre. The climate and healthfulness of the county are excellent.

The constant flow of population into Calhoun sufficiently indicates the spirit with which immigrants are met.

There are in the county 24,160 acres of government land, which offers additional inducements to immigrants.

Source: Alabama As It Is by Benjamin Franklin Riley, D. D., 1887 , Transcribed by C. Anthony  


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