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Chilton County, Alabama

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Water Mills of Chilton County in 1886

Alabama As It Is - by Benjamin F. Riley - 1887

Chilton County History - by Smith and DeLand - 1888


CHILTON COUNTY
 

When this county was organized in 1868 it was called Baker, which name it retained until 1875, when in honor of Judge W. P. Chilton it received its present designation. Chilton occupies the geographical center of the State. Wonderful advances have been made in the industries of the county within the last few years. From 1870 to 1880 the population of Chilton was almost doubled. It has an area of 700 square miles.

Population in 1870, 6,194; population in 1880, 10,793. White, 8,651; colored, 2,142.

Tilled Land: 40,676 acres.—Area planted in cotton, 11,558 acres; in corn, 18,185 ; in oats, 2,255 acres ; in wheat, 4,507 acres; in rye, 60 acres; in sweet potatoes, 356 acres.

Cotton Production: 3,534 bales.

Chilton is varied both with respect to the face of the country and the character of the lands. In the eastern portion there is a high ridge which forms the watershed between the Coosa and Alabama rivers. Along the southern border of the county the surface is uneven. This irregularity of the face of the county extends northward for some distance.

The soils vary from the rich red and brown loam lands to the most sterile. In the western portion of the county, and especially in the regions lying contiguous to Mulberry creek and its tributaries, are found the best agricultural lands. It is here that the population is denser than elsewhere in Chilton. This is emphatically the farming section of the county. On the opposite side (the eastern) of the county are found altogether a different class of industries. Extensive pine forests are a prevailing feature here. They are spread over the knolls and hills which hold within their bosoms deposits of minerals. To what extent these minerals exist has not yet been discovered. Professor Eugene A. Smith, State Geologist, affirms that there is a greater variety of minerals in Chilton than in any other county in Alabama. He did not think, however, that they were, in any instance, abundant. They consist of mica, graphite, iron, copper, silver, and gold. Copper and gold mines have been operated with some success.

The timber resources of Chilton are very extensive as is indicated by the fact that there are twenty-nine sawmills in the county. These comprise some of the largest mills and lumber industries in the State. Many of these are found along the line of the Louisville and Nashville railroad. It will be inferred from the foregoing that the forests of Chilton are composed almost entirely of the yellow or long-leaf pine.

As the timber is cleared off these lands they are brought into cultivation and yield readily in response to proper fertilizing. Corn, cotton, oats, wheat, and rice are the principal crops. The cultivation of rice for the market has been undertaken within the last few years with the most gratifying results. It will ultimately prove a source of great revenue to the county. It has been tested in the refineries of New Orleans and pronounced equal to the best grades produced upon the famous rice plantations of South Carolina.

Advantages for the shipment of products to distant markets are afforded by the splendid line of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, which passess directly through the heart of the county. The East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia railroad also passes through the county.

There is no lack of water, as the county is drained by the Little Cahaba and Coosa rivers, and Chestnut, Swift, Big and Little Mulberry, and Blue creeks.

The places of greatest importance arc Clanton, the county-seat, with a population of 600, Verbena, Maplesville, and Mountain Creek. Two of these points—Verbena and Mountain Creek—have become somewhat noted as summer resorts. At the former place an elegant hotel has been erected, both for summer and winter boarders; while at the latter point neat cabins of summer visitors dot the slopes and crown the high ridges. Families from Montgomery and neighboring towns have established these tasteful retreats in order that they may find a pleasant refuge from the heat and dust of the city. Both these points are growing in popularity as places of summer resort.

Good schools are found at every center of interest in the county. At Clanton and Verbena the schools are of high grade and the moral influences good. Churches of the different denominations also abound.

Immigrants or investors desiring to purchase lands in this county may obtain them for prices ranging from $i to $15 per acre. Knowing how much depends upon an increased population of thrifty habits, the people of this county are eager to encourage such to establish homes in their midst.

Chilton county embraces 52,000 acres of land belonging to the general government.

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


CHILTON COUNTY.

Population: White, 8,651; colored, 2,142. Area, 700 square miles. Woodland, all. Gravelly, hills, and long-leaf pines, 400 square miles. Metamorphic, 220 square miles. Slate region, 80 square miles.

Acres - In cotton, (approximately)11,558; in corn, 18,185; in oats, 2,255; in wheat, 4,507; in rye, 60: in sweet potatoes, 356,

Approximate number of bales of cotton, 4,000.

County Seat - Clanton; population, 800: on railroad, about forty miles north of Montgomery.

Newspaper published at County Seat - Chilton View (Democratic).

Post offices in the County - Clanton, Clear Creek, Cooper, Dixie, Energy, Jamison, Jumbo, Kincheon, Lily, Maplesville, Mountain Creek, Spigner, Stanton, Strasburgh, Verbena.

When this county was organized in 1868, it was called Baker, which name it retained until 1874, when, in honor of Judge W. P. Chilton, it received its present designation. Chilton occupies the geographical center of the State. Wonderful advances have been made in the industries of the county within the last few years. From 1870 to 1880 the population of Chilton was almost doubled.

Chilton is varied, both with respect to the face of the country and the character of the lands. In the eastern portion there is a high ridge which forms the watershed between the Coosa and Alabama Rivers. Along the southern border of the county the surface is uneven. This irregularity of the face of the country extends northward for some distance. The soils vary from the rich red and brown loam lands to the most sterile. In the western portion of the county, and especially in the regions lying contiguous to Mulberry Creek and its tributaries, are found the best agricultural lands. It is here that the population is denser than elsewhere in Chilton. This is emphatically the farming section of the county. On the opposite side (the eastern) of the county are found altogether a different class of industries. Extensive pine forests are a prevailing feature here. They spread over the knolls and hills which hold within their bosoms deposits of minerals. To what extent these minerals exist has not yet been discovered. Professor Eugene A. Smith, State Geologist, affirms that there is a greater variety of minerals in Chilton than in any other county in Alabama. They consist of mica, graphite, iron, copper and gold. Copper mines and gold mines have been operated with some success.

The timber resources of Chilton are very extensive, as is indicated by the fact that there are twenty-nine saw-mills in the county. These comprise some of the largest mills and lumber industries in the State. Many of these are found along the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. It will be inferred from the foregoing that the forests of Chilton are composed almost entirely of the yellow or long-leaf pine.

As the timber is cleared off these lands they are brought into cultivation, and yield readily in response to proper fertilizing. Corn, cotton, oats, wheat and rice are principal crops. The cultivation of rice for the market has been undertaken within the last few years with the most gratifying results. It will ultimately prove a source of great revenue in the county. It has been tested in the refineries of New Orleans, and pronounced equal to that grown upon the famous rice plantations of South Carolina.

The crops which can be profitably raised are corn, wheat, oats, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, peas, sugarcane, rice, cotton, and every variety of garden truck, besides fruit in the greatest abundance, such as strawberries, melons, peaches, apples, pears, plums, etc. Stock-raising can also be carried on with profit, and the splendid stock ranges in various portions of the county would be more than trebled in value were they put to the proper use. The raising of sheep is also engaged in with profit.

The increase in wealth is keeping pace with the growth in population. In 1870 the first assessment of property was made, the county having been formed the latter part of 1868. For the first assessment the county gave in 139,449 acres of land, valued at $214,879; in 1887 the number of acres has increased to 399,743, valued at $250,334, showing how rapidly Government lands in this county have been and are still being settled. The value of town property in 1870 amounted to nothing, there being only a few railroad stations in the county. Since this time thriving villages have grown up around these stations, and the value of town property goes up into the hundred thousands. The increase in tax values during the past year amounted to $155,622. The railroad property of the county was assessed for the present year at $756,507.

Chilton County, with its beautiful scenery, could be made a great State park. Along the Coosa and on Yellow-Leaf and Blue Creeks the scenery is wild and weird as one could wish to see.

Advantages for the shipment of products to distant markets are afforded by the splendid line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, which passes through the county. The East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad also passes through the county.

There is no lack of water, as the county is drained by the Coosa River, and Chestnut, Swift, Big and Little Mulberry, Yellow Leaf and Blue Creeks.

The places of greatest importance are: Clanton, the County Seat, with a population of 600; Verbena, Maplesville, Jemison and Mountain Creek have become somewhat noted as summer resorts. At the former place an elegant hotel has been erected, both for summer and winter boarders; while at the latter point neat cabins of summer visitors dot the slopes and crown the higher ridges. Families from Montgomery and the neighboring towns have established these tasteful retreats in order that they may find a pleasant refuge from the heat and dust of the city. Both these points are growing in popularity as places of summer resort.

Good schools are found at every center of interest in the county. At Clanton and Verbena the schools are of high grade, and moral influences good. Churches of the different denominations also abound.

Immigrants or investors desiring to purchase lands in this county may obtain them for prices ranging from $1 to $15 per acre. Knowing how much depends on an increased population of thrifty habits, the people of this county are eager to encourage such to establish homes in their midst.

Chilton County embraces 52,000 acres of land belonging to the General Government, which are being very rapidly settled.

The valuation of taxable property in Chilton County is $1,864,832, as shown by the abstract of assessment filed with the Auditor.

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


WATER MILLS OF CHILTON COUNTY IN 1886 

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

 

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.

 

CHILTON COUNTY................................................................................. ....... H.P.

James Dorming. Jemison, flour and grist mill ............................................................ 10

Mahan's Mill, Clanton, flour and grist mill................................................................ 20

W. W. Sansome, Adams, flour and grist mill ............................................................ 12

Honeycutt Mill. Jemison, flour, grist, lumber and timber mill...................................... 20


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