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Water Mills of Perry County in 1886
 
Perry County in Alabama As It Is by Ben Riley - 1887
 
Perry County in Northern Alabama by Smith and DeLand - 1888
 

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

PERRY COUNTY

Perry county was created in 1819 and named in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, of the United States Navy. Here, as throughout this portion of the great Black Belt, are all the evidences of bounty in the deep, rich soil, the increasing flow of streams, the green-clad hills and forests of towering timber. Under a perfect system of labor, these black soils of Perry county would yield astonishingly. For many years in cultivation, these fruitful lands never refuse to bring forth abundantly where the planter is diligent in sowing and reaping. The county has an area of 790 square miles.

Population in 1870, 24,975; population in 1880, 30,741. White, 7,150; colored, 23,591.

Tilled Land: 167,666 acres.—Area planted in cotton, 74,303 acres; in corn, 48,132 acres; in oats, 6,093 acres; in wheat, 440 acres; in rye, 70 acres; in rice, 27 acres; in tobacco, 24 acres; in sugar cane, 20 acres; in sweet potatoes, 1,107 acres.

Cotton Production: 21,627 bales.

The northern end of the county is of an uneven surface. The central and southern portions are level. In the northern portion there are brown loam uplands; in the southern, there is the genuine prairie soil. These are the only two characteristics attaching to the lands of the county. Both these soils possess very great inherent fertility. Upon the highest of the hill lands in north Perry there is a prevalence of sand, in which grows chiefly the yellow or long-leaf pine. Descending to the base of these hills, or rather to the uplands, we find, as was said above, a brown loam soil. Beneath this fertile surface there is a red loam subsoil, said to be twenty or twenty-five feet thick. The prairies proper, which embrace the central and southern portions of Perry, are broken here and there by sandy elevations, upon which are usually located the towns and settlements of the county. These knolls are admirably suited for the location of homes, as they place one beyond the reach of prairie mud, and at the same time furnish him with an abundant supply of excellent water. Corn and cotton are the chief crops, and their yield is oftentimes amazing.

Like many in the adjoining counties, the farmers of Perry are turning their attention to the remunerative pursuit of raising stock. Excellent stock farms can now be seen in the county, superior grasses are being cultivated, and the profits annually realized are most gratifying. These lands can not be surpassed for purposes of stock raising.

Many delicious fruits are grown in the county. Peaches, pears, figs, and grapes, together with strawberries and watermelons, are the principal fruits produced. The timbers of the county are the usual upland oaks, hickory, short and long-leaf or yellow pine.

Besides many smaller streams, there are the Cahaba river, and the Washington, Legreon, Blue Cat, Brush, Belcher's Five Mile, Big, and Bogue Chitta Creeks in Perry. A bounteous supply of water is furnished from the numerous and copius wells which are found in every portion of the county.

Marion, the county-seat, with a population of near 3,000, Uniontown, and Hamburg are the points of interest. Marion has been long and justly famous for her institutions of learning. The Marion Military Institute is located here. Another magnificent school is the Judson Female Institute. The latter school is operated under the auspices of the Baptist denomination of the State. The Marion Seminary, another college for female education and an institution of merit, is located in this highly-favored town. The society of the place is unexcelled in the South, and the healthfulness of the location good. The Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and other denominations sustain excellent churches. Near Uniontown is one of the Agricultural Experimental stations of the State, in successful operation. Railroad facilities are enjoyed through the lines of the Cincinnati, Selma & Mobile and the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia systems.

But the most important highway of transportation will be the Mobile & Birmingham Railroad, which is now being built from Mobile to Birmingham, and other points North. This road will pierce the center both of the most productive agricultural and mineral sections of our State. The removal of the natural obstructions from the Cahaba River will also afford numerous advantages to this section.

Immigrants could now purchase lands in Perry county upon the most favorable terms, not exceeding in price $5 or $15 per acre. Like the adjacent counties, there is a prevalence of marl in different portions of Perry. The discovery of these deposits has had a tendency to increase the valuation of the lands. It is believed that these beds are sufficiently thick to encourage their development for commercial purposes. Whether this be true or not, there is no doubt that they will be of immense profit to the landsof the county. Traces of kaolin and other minerals have been discovered. The people of Perry county would extend a most cordial welcome to thrifty immigrants. In the county are 16,000 acres of public or government land awaiting occupation by settlers.


 
Source: Northern Alabama - Historical and Biographical by Smith & De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney
 
PERRY COUNTY.
 
Population: White 7,500; colored 22,591. Area, 790 square miles. Woodland, all. Gravelly hills, with long-leaf pine, 460 square miles. Prairie region, 325 square miles.
 
Acres - In cotton 75,303; in corn 48,132; in oats 6,003; in wheat 440; in rye 70; in rice 27; in tobacco 24; in sugar-cane 20: in sweet potatoes 1,107. Approximate number of bales of cotton, 22,000.
 
County Seat - Marion; population 2,500; located 30 miles northwest of Selma, on Cincinnati, Selma, & Mobile branch of the Western Railroad.
Newspapers published at County Seat - Standard, Normal Reporter, Howard Collegian and Judson Echoes.
 
Post offices in County - Augustin, Bush Creek, Chadwick, Cruess, Felix, Hamburgh, Ironville, Jericho, Le Vert, Marion, Morgan Springs, Museville, Oakmulgee, Perryville, Pine Tucky, Scott's Station, Sprott, Talmage, Theo, Uniontown, Vilula.
 
Perry was created in 1819, and named in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, of the United States Navy.
 
The county lies between parallels 32 and 33 north latitude, and embraces most of the elevated lands between the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers. Its maximum elevation is 470 feet, and its minimum 190 feet above sea level.
 
The face of the country is somewhat broken, though there are no great elevations. The extreme western portion of the country is drained by small streams emptying into the Tombigbee, while the country generally slopes off gently to the east, and its waters shed off into the Cahaba and its tributaries. The highest land is somewhat sandy; the chief growth is the long-leaf pine. Next comes the prairie, "a gently undulating trough-like plain lying between the drift hills on the north and similar ones on the south."
 
The northern half of the county has an abundance of freestone water supplied by surface springs and wells: the prairie sections are supplied by pools and artesian wells.
 
The climate is as mild and salubrious as can be found in the South. Our proximity to the Gulf gives us the benefit of its refreshing breezes. The summers are long, and the days are infrequently very hot, but our nights are cool and pleasant. Sunstroke is very rare.
 
Mean temperature for fourteen years: spring 65.3: summer 80.6: autumn 65.5: winter 50.4.
 
No section on the globe can show a better health record than Perry County. The county occupies the high lands lying between the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, and it is almost above the miasma line. In the river bottoms there are more or less of chills and fever in the summer and fall. There is but little pneumonia, and consumption is rare among the whites.
 
The State tax this year is levied on the basis of 5 ½ mills, the county on 4 mills. There is a constitutional prohibition against any county levying a tax of more than 5 mills.
 
County school funds for the year ending September 30, 1886, were $11,032.
Number of schools: white, 35; colored, 53; total, 88. Average number of teachers: white, 33; colored, 50; total. 83.
Average number of pupils to teacher, 42.
Average monthly pay of teachers, $30.90.
School age, seven to twenty-one years.
Average length of schools, eighty days.
Marion and Uniontown enjoy very superior public schools.
 
No section enjoys greater advantages than this county in the number and character of its higher educational institutions.
Located at Marion are two institutions of learning that are second to none in the South; Judson Female Institute, founded in 1839, denominational, Baptist: Marion Female Seminary, founded in 1830, non-sectarian.
 
The prairie comprises about one-third of the county area, or about 170,000 acres.
 
Sandy lands comprise the balance of the county area. There are no special features that are peculiar to these lands.
Bottom lands lie along the branches, creeks and Cahaba River, and are a superior kind of soil.
 
The prairie lands can be bought at from $10 to $15 per acre; the clay lands from $8 to $12 per acre; the sandy lands from $2 to $5, and the bottom lands from $8 to $12l per acre.
 
TABULAR STATEMENT FOR PERRY COUNTY
Corn, average number of lbs. per acre 840
Cotton, - " 414
Rye - " 350
Wheat - " 400
Oats - " 450
Barley, - " 600
Potatoes- " 4,500
Hay, - " 4,000
Average number of pounds per acre, 1,444.
Total value of Perry County's products per acre about $25.
 
Corn, rye, barley and oats do well in this county, and with the proper attention as much can be produced as anywhere else on the globe. Wheat usually suffers with rust. Forty years ago these lands produced, on an average, twenty bushels of wheat per acre.  All grasses do well, but especially red clover, meliotus, Johnson grass. Japanese clover and Bermuda. Sorghum cane can be raised here in the greatest abundance, and if it will pay anywhere to raise it, it will pay nowhere better than here. Sugar-cane pays well on our mulatto lands.  All kinds of vegetables grow here, and of most of them two crops can be made. Two crops of Irish potatoes, or Irish potatoes first and sweet potatoes next, on the same ground.
 
The county is doing something in stock raising, and the success that has attended the little that has been done, promises to revolutionize the present surroundings.
There are two railroads through the county; the Alabama Central and the Selma & Memphis: the Alabama Grand Trunk, leading from Mobile to Birmingham, is now under construction, and will be completed in about six months. This road will bisect the county from south to north, giving us direct communication with Mobile on the south, and Birmingham, Bessemer, Anniston, Decatur, Sheffield, etc., on the north. In addition to the above, the following roads have been chartered, and will run through the county: Chicago & Gulf Air Line: Baltimore, Birmingham & Gulf; Bessemer & Selma; Selma & Cahaba Valley, and a through trunk line to Pensacola. The Kansas City & Birmingham Railway will also be built through this county to the Gulf, Cahaba River, for all practical purposes, is past navigating.
 
We have the very best society in this country, and this does not mean aristocracy in any sense.
 
No section in the Union offers so many inducements to those who are seeking homes in the genial South than Perry County, Ala. With a climate mild and healthy, with the best of soil, and in great variety, with good prices for products and low prices for land and labor; with unsurpassed educational surroundings: with plenty of markets near at hand and good facilities to reach them; with great timber resources; with the best of society; with the greatest iron, limestone and coal beds in the world in the counties joining us on the north; with pure water, purer atmosphere, high and dry, we extend to the northern farmers a most cordial welcome to come and live amongst us, and reap the great harvest that is ready and waiting for the intelligent and progressive farmer. We say, and it is beyond the possibility of contradiction, that every acre of land in this county will yield enough in crop products to pay for itself in one year. If you have the means to buy our land and sustain yourself for one year, you need have no misgivings on this score. The land will pay for itself in one year, acre for acre, that is cultivated. It will do it now, and if more could be asked of any land it is an unreasonable demand.
 
Besides many smaller streams, there are the Cahaba River, and the Washington, Legreon, Blue Cat, Brush, Belcher's, Five Mile, Big and Bogue Chitta Creeks in Perry. A bounteous supply of water is furnished from the copious wells which are found in every portion of the county.
 
The valuation of taxable property in Perry County, for the year 1887, is $2, 977,890, as shown by the abstract of assessment filed with the Auditor.

 

WATER MILLS OF PERRY 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.

 

PERRY COUNTY......................................................................................... ... H.P.

Henry C. Nichols, (Dobynes Creek). Theo, flour and grist mill. .................... 20

Mary G. Wallace, Marlon, flour and grist mill..................................................... 4

Hodger's Mill, Newbern, flour and grist mill...................................................... 15

W. F. Moore, Marion, flour and grist mill............................................................ 4

Downey's Saw Mill, Greensboro, lumber and timber ..................................... 15

Stevenson's Saw & Water Mills. Newbern, lumber and timber...................... 20

Lucindy Washburn, (Taylor Creek), Jericho, lumber and timber .................... 18

W. T. Downey. (Limestone Creek), Folsom, grist mill ....................................... 6

James Wallace. (Legroane Creek), Jericho, grist mill....................................... 8

Dr. J. B. Tucker, (Taylors Creek), Jericho, grist mill .......................................... 6

Lucindy Washburn. (Taylors Creek), Jericho, grist mill .................................... 18

S. M. Boiling, (Branch of Oakmulgee Cr.), Pinetucky. grist mill ........................ 8

C. C. Cosby, (Oakmulgee Creek), Perryville, grist mill ...................................... 8

Thomas J. Fountain, (Little Creek), Oakmulgee, gin, saw and grist mill ........... 8

Pann Patterson, (Little Creek), Oakmulgee. gin, saw and grist ......................... 8

Sarah Fountain, (Little Creek), Oakmulgee. gin, saw and grist ......................... 8

Thaddeus Smith, (Little Creek), Active, grist mill ................................................ 8

W. M. Eiland, (Fords Mill Creek), Marlon, grist mill ........................................... 20

J. F. Morton, (Potato Patch Creek), Levert. grist mill........................................... 6

Elijah Smith. (Beaver Creek), Bliss, grist mill ..................................................... 6

Noah Coker, (Beaver Dam Creek), Bethlehem, grist mill .................................. 6

W. A. Fountain. (Oakmulgee Creek), Oakmulgee, rice mill ............................. 10

 

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