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St. Clair County


Alabama, Her History - Brewer - 1872            Alabama, As it is - Riley - 1887     St Clair Cty - Smith and DeLand 1888

Alabama, As It Is - 1872

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

This is one of the territorial counties of the State—having been founded in 1818. It was named for General Arthur St. Clair. Like several others, in the same portion of the State, it is just coming into popular notice as a county of considerable wealth in minerals. Extensive interests have sprung into existence within the last two years in St. Clair county. Capitalists have resorted thither, and are still traversing the county in different directions in search of the most profitable investments. Abundant reasons for this appear in the following :

The area of St. Clair is 630 square miles.

Population in 1870, 9,360; population in 1880, 14,462. White, 11,621; colored, 2,841.

Tilled Land: 65,105 acres.—Area planted in cotton, 14,735 acres; in corn, 25,465 acres; in oats, 4,603 acres; in wheat, 9,841 acres; in tobacco, 53 acres; in sweet potatoes, 226 acres.

Cotton Production: 6,028 bales.

The northwestern boundary of St. Clair county is formed by Blount Mountain, which is the southern end of one of the branches of Sand Mountain, already recognized as a part of the coalfields of Alabama. In the northwestern corner of the county Chandler's Mountain, about six miles long and two miles wide, is of the same formation. The Coosa coalfields, occupying a belt about five or six miles in width, runs nearly parallel with the beautiful river, Coosa, which forms the southeastern boundary of St. Clair county, and at an average distance from it of three or four miles. In addition to these, the northeastern extremity of the Cahaba coalfield runs up into St. Clair as far as the latitude of Springville. Between these hill and mountain ranges, which the coal measures always form, lie the chief valleys—Coosa Valley between, and the Coosa coalfield, and Cahaba Valley between the the Coosa and Cahaba coalfields. These valleys are broken here and there by narrow ridges, which run their entire length, creating a great diversity of soil. It will be seen that the county presents a great variety in its topographical and other natural features.

Here, as elsewhere, the fertile lands lie along the valleys, while the thinner soils crown the uplands. The Coosa Valley, which, as we have seen, lies along the eastern part of St. Clair, is about ten miles wide. The lands are quite productive, and are, for the most part, devoted to corn, cotton, wheat, and oats. Cahaba Valley is also rich in soil, and is flanked on either side with charming scenery. Big Canoe Creek Valley, which is about eight miles wide, is regarded the most attractive, in point of scenery, of all, and with respect to fertility is equal to any land in the State. Along these valleys grow the staple products of the county, viz: cotton, corn, wheat, oats, rye. barley, sorghum, sweet and Irish potatoes.

The last national census shows that St. Clair county produces more cotton to the acre than any other county in the State. Along the slopes and table-lands of St. Clair grow the superb fruits which are produced, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums and all varieties of berries.

These mountain districts, because of their healthful climate and responsive soils, are being rapidly peopled. The broad plateau, known as Chandler Mountain, about six miles north of Ashville, embraces several thousands of acres of generous soil, and it is regarded the most favorable locality for orchard-culture in that section of the State. It is about seven or eight hundred feet above the surrounding valleys. This plateau is owned, in part, by the Alabama and Great Southern Railroad Company, and can be purchased at the marvelously low price of $2 per acre. Government lands are to be found in the same region, where homesteads can be settled. In every part of the county grasses and clovers do well. The Japan clover grows luxuriantly and wild, furnishing herbage for stock from early spring to frost.

Along the valleys, particularly, grow the finest specimens of oak timbers. The mountain-slopes are covered with valuable woods. In different portions of the county are found the several varieties of timber, such as long-leaf or yellow pine, white and red oaks, poplar, and hickory. Some of these compose vast forests, which occupy much of the most productive land in St. Clair.

The county throughout is streaked by perpetual streams, which are fed by innumerable springs of water. Chief among these streams may be named Broken Arrow, Trout, Shoal, and Canoe creeks, and East and West Forks of the Cahaba river. The Cahaba river, which grows into such large proportions as it flows south, has its source among the hills of this county. Most of these streams are wide and deep, affording an endless supply of water, and furnishing many natural sites for industrial enterprises. The county is favored in its railroad advantages—there being four to give outlet to its products, viz: The Alabama Great Southern, Georgia Pacific, East and West, and Talladega and Coosa Valley railroads. Mining interests of the county are being developed at Broken Arrow, Fairview, and Ragland's. Other important mineral plants are in prospect.

Inexhaustible quantities of both brown and red hematite ore exist throughout the county. Coal and marble are also found to some extent. Stones for building purposes prevail abundantly, and are of
superior quality. Mineral springs are frequently encountered in this highly-favored region. These will receive attention as the comparatively new country is developed and more largely populated.

Already there are several watering-places of some note in St. Clair. Among these may be mentioned the Sulphur Spring, on the Alabama Great Southern railroad, one hundred and thrity-two miles above Birmingham; the St. Clair Springs, near this line; Springville, also on this road, and Cooke Springs, on the Georgia Pacific railroad. These are points of frequent resort, the medicinal virtues of whose waters are enhanced by the brace of the prevailing mountain air.

One of the attractive features of St. Clair is the Coosa river, which forms its eastern boundary. The United States Government is engaged in opening up this charming stream, and soon packets will be plying between Greensport and Rome, Georgia. Immense advantage will thus be afforded pleasure and health-seekers, as well as the business world.

The places of greatest prominence in St. Clair are Ashville, the county-seat, Springville, St. Clair Springs, Broken Arrow, Branchville, Ferryville, and Cooke Springs—all of which are destined to attain considerable growth, because of their surrounding advantages.

Good schools are found in every part of St. Clair, as well as excellent religious facilities.

Good farming lands can be purchased in St. Clair county for from $5 to $12 per acre. Mineral lands vary in price from $5 to $25 per acre. The inducements here afforded are remarkably rare.

St. Clair county embraces 25,960 acres of government land.

 Source: "Alabama, her history, resources, war record, and public men : from 1540 to 1872"; by Willis Brewer; Montgomery, Ala.: Barrett & Brown, 1872 - transcribed by Jeanne Kalkwarf



                St. Clair was taken from Shelby by an act passed Nov. 20, 1818.  It lies south of Blount and Etowa, west of Talladega and Calhoun, east of Blount and Jefferson, north of Shelby and Talladega.

                It was named to honor the memory of Gen. St. Clair.*

*ARTHUR ST. CLAIR was born in Edinburg, Scotland, in 1734, and came to America as a lieutenant in the army of Gen. Wolf in 1759.  At the peace he remained, and was living in Pennsylvania when the colonies rebelled.  Commissioned colonel, he arose to the rank of major general during the war.  He was the first governor of the Northwestern Territory, and in 1791 was defeated in battle by the Miami Indians.  In 1802 he retired from the governorship, and died in Westmoreland county, Penn., Aug. 31, 1818


                The area of the county is about 625 miles.

                The population is shown at different periods:


                                                1820                       1830                       1840                       1850                       1860           1870

                Whites                 3906                       4818                       4505                       5501                       9236            7295

                Blacks                      559                      1157                       1133                       1128                       1777            2065


                The assessed value of real estate in 1870 was $549,977; personalty $95,929; total $645,906

                The cash value of farm lands – 34,055 acres improved, and 102,438 acres unimproved – was $401,174 in 1870

                The live stock – 970 horses, 452 mules, 3165 neat cattle, 3578 sheep, 8775 hogs – is valued at $252,095

                In 1869 the farm productions were 157,268 bushels of corn, 29,778 bushels of wheat, 7895 bushels of oats, 9326 bushels of potatoes, 32,677 pounds of butter, 4579 gallons of molasses,  1293 pounds of tobacco, 1244 bales of cotton, 4451 pounds of wool; the value of slaughtered animals was $16,738; and the value of farm products was #391,114.

                The surface is broken and mountainous, and the valleys are healthy and fertile.

                The Coosa is the eastern boundary, but is not navigable below Greensport.  The Cahaba (called “Chicasa river” in the treaty of 1765,)has its head-waters in the county.  The Alabama and Chattanooga railroad passes through the county from northeast to southwest.

                St. Clair is rich in coal and iron ore, lying as it does in the heart of the great mineral region of the State.  Millstone grit, black and variegated marble, limestone, etc., are also among the resources of this region.  There are numerous chalybeate and sulphur springs, and St. Clair Springs is a resort.


                ASHVILLE, the seat of justice since 1822 was incorporated that year, and is a village, named for Hon. John Ashe, for many years a leading citizen of the county.  Greensport, at the lower terminus of navigation on the Coosa, is a village.

                On Canoe creek, between Asheville and Springville, stood the Indian village of Litafutchee, which was destroyed by a detachment of Jen. Jackson’s troops, Oct. 29, 1813, and its inhabitants captured – 29 in number.

                At Ten Islands, near Greensport, Gen. Jackson built Fort Strother, his base of operations against the Creeks.  Near the same spot, in July 1864, Gen. Clanton, with a handful of Men, made a gallant stand against the largely superior numbers of Gen. Rousseau, who passed on to Cheha and Loachapoka.  The loss on each side was light; but the Confederate leader lost all of his staff, killed or wounded.

                John Ashe, John Massey, John Cunningham, Joel Chandler, and George Shortwell were appointed to superintend the erection of the courthouse in 1821.

                The fist voting places were at Joel Chandlers, Peter Ragsdale’s, and Wm. Guthrey’s in 1819.


BURWELL T. POPE resided in this county, but was born in Oglethorpe county, Georgia, Jan. 7, 1813.  His parents were Wiley Pope and Sarah Davis.  Graduating at Athens, he read law under Judge Clayton, and was enrolled as an attorney in 1836.  A year later he came to this State, and located at Wetumka, where he practiced law.  In 1844 he came to Ashville, where he resided and pursued his profession till he removed to Gadsden in 1867.  He was elected to congress in 1865 over Mr. James Sheid, but was refused his seat.  In 1867 he was appointed judge of the circuit court.   While on the bench in the courthouse at Jacksonville, April 1868, he was arrested by a lieutenant in the federal army, and taken to jail for refusing, at the command of this petty officer, to place negroes on the juries.  He was released within a few days, but, being in feeble health, this violence hastened his end, and he died in Gadsden, May 8, 1868.  Judge Pope was above medium size, with reserved manners.  He was remarkably firm in his convictions of right and duty, and combined within his character the virtues, piety, sobriety, charity, and benevolence, in a very liberal degree.  He married a daughter of Mr. Joseph Lester of Wetumka.


JOHN W. INZER is also a resident of St. Clair, but was born in Gwinnett county, Georgia, Jan. 9, 1834.  His father was a Baptist minister; his mother was a Miss Reid.  Educated well, he came to this State in 1854 with his parents, and read law in the office of Messrs. A. J. Walker and John T. Morgan at Taladega.  Licensed as an attorney in 1855, he opened an office in Ashville.  In 1859 Gov. Moore appointed him judge of the probate court of the county, and in 1861 he represented it in the constitutional convention.  Entering the service of his country as a private, he became lieutenant colonel of the 58th Alabama, was captured at Mission Ridge, and remained on Johnson’s Island till the close of the war.  He was appointed probate judge in 1865, but resigned a few weeks after.  In 1866 he was elected to the same office over Hon. C. G. Beeson, and was removed by military ukase in 1867.  Her now practices law in Ashville.  Col. Inzer is a good lawyer, and an honest and upright man.  He married a nice of Hon. B. T. Pope.


David Conner  represented St. Clair in the constitutional convention of 1819; and John W. Inzer in that of 1861; C. G. Beeson in that of 1865.

The following is a list of members of the legislature:




1819 – David Conner                                                       1844 – John Ashe

1822 – David Conner                                                       1847 – Moses Kelly

1825 – John Ashe                                                             1851 – Moses Kelly

1828 – David Conner                                                       1853 – Mace T. P. Brindley

1831 – David Conner                                                       1857 – William Thaxton

1832 – John Ashe                                                             1859 – F. W. Staton

1835 – Charles C. P. Farrar                                            1861 – W. N. Crump

1838 – Charles C. P. Farrar                                            1863 – C. G. Beeson

1841 – Walker K. Baylor                                                 1865 – W. H. Edwards

                                (No Election in 1867, or since.)




1819 – James Hardwick                                                  1839 – John Massey

1820 – Phillip Coleman                                                  1840 – Oran M. Roberts

1821 – James Hardwick                                                  1841 – Richmond Hammond

1822 – James Hardwick, Geo. Shortwell                 1842 – John W. Bothwell

1823 – Jas. Hardwick, Geo. Shortwell                       1843 – John W. Cobb

1824 – P. Coleman, Geo. Shortwell                          1844 – J. M. Edwards

1825 – P. Coleman, Geo. Shortwell                          1845 – J. M. Edwards

1826 – P. Coleman, John Massey                               1847 – Richmond Hammond

1827 – Henry Bradford, John Massey                       1849 – J. M. Edwards

1828 – T. M. Barker, John Massey                              1851 – Albert G. Bennett

1829 – Henry Bradford, John Massey                       1853 – James Foreman

1830 – C. Longford, John Massey                               1855 – G. H. Beavers

1831 – C.C.P. Farrar, G. T. McAfee                             1856 – Richmond Hammond

1832 – John Massey, G. T. McAfee                            1859 – Levi Floyd

1833 – John Massey, C.C.P. Farrar                             1861 – James Foreman

1834 – John Massey, C.C.P. Farrar                             1863 – George W. Ashe

1835 – John Massey, R. Hammond                            1865 – George W. Ashe

1836 – John W. Cobb, R. Hammond                          1867 – No Election

1837 – John W. Cobb, R. Hammond                          1870 – Leroy F. Box

1838 – James Rogan, R. Hammond

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


Population: White 13,500; colored 2,500. Area, 630 square miles. Woodland, all. Coosa and Cahaba Valley lands 430. Coal measures, etc., 2,000 square miles.  Acres - In cotton (approximately), l4,750; in corn 5,450; in oats 4,603; in wheat 9,840; in tobacco 50; in sweet potatoes 230. Approximate number of bales of cotton 6,500.

County Seat - Ashville; population 250; on the Alabama & Great Southern Railroad, forty miles northeast of Birmingham, Ala.

Newspaper published in the county - Southern Aegis (Democratic).

Post offices in the County - Alluxla, Ashville, Beaver Valley, Branchville, Broken Arrow, Caldwell, Cook's Springs, Cornelia, Cropwell, Easonville, Eden, Fairview, Greensport, Kelley's Creek, Lochthree, Moody, Odenville, Poe, Riverside, Round Pond, Seddon, Slate, Springville, Steel's Depot, Trout Creek, Whitney, Wolf Creek.

St. Clair County was founded in 1818. Quite a number of aborigines roamed over its soil, or still occupied its territory then, and among the old records are found deeds of land from the Indians to the white settlers. While the county's resources are just coming into notice, its historical character, coincident with that of the State of whose territory it forms a part, has been known ever since its creation. It is the only county in the State, mentioned by name in Chambers' Universal Knowledge - it is, the only one that has furnished more than one Governor for its own and other States.

Its soil is memorable as a part of the Jackson campaign in the War of 1813 against the Muscogees, which aboriginal commune were the natives of this county at that time. There are still trace of the encampments and defenses of the military, as well as many evidences of Indian settlements in various parts of the county. Besides the Indian town Litafutchee, once situated not far from where the county seat is now located, is a relic of the ancient empire of the Red Man's dominion here, preserved on the pages of our State History.

The northwestern boundary of the county is Blount Mountain, a spur of the great Sand Ridge. In the same corner is Chandler's Mountain. The table lands of those elevations are noted for fruit culture, and no better conditions exist for sheep raising. Besides the level plateaus are submissive to agricultural life, and in this particular, owing to the fertility of the soil, are very productive, and can be made very profitable. For health and enjoyment no more desirable locations can be found in the South. The mineral character of those mountains is well known - coal, lime and iron are found in places, with excellent rock, while timber is abundant.

But the principal coal beds of the county lie south in the neighborhood of Broken Arrow, and along the East & West Railroad. Here, owing to the peculiar formation of hills and small valleys, between the ridges the soil is even more diversified than in the northern part of the county - the country around is broken, undulating, and the ridges narrower and less steep than further north. The surface features are just such as one would naturally expect in a section of mineral characteristics varied by agricultural pursuits.

While the recent industrial progress has not concentrated at one point or centre in the county, so to speak, the effect of general material development all over its territory has been very marked in the improved condition of society, and is visible in the numerous thriving and enterprising communities springing up in all directions. New, Broken Arrow, Fairview, Ragland, River Side, Sedden. Pell City etc., are familiar names in the newspapers. The lumber business along the railroads, rivers and large creeks has increased to immense proportions, within a few months.

Six years ago only one railroad passed through the county near its western boundary. Now, besides the Alabama Great Southern - a link of the great trunk line of the Cincinnati Southern - the Georgia Pacific traverses of territory south, and the East & West pierces the very heart of the coal and iron region, giving life and vigor to hundreds of before latent industrial operations. Other railroads are projected into the county and still others are in view. St. Clair lies directly on the line of the great railroad belt through the mineral and timber regions of the south to the Gulf. and on the East & West line from the Atlantic coast to the populous Mississippi regions of teeming wealth and progress. It is probable that both Anniston and Birmingham will be compelled to draw from the natural resources of this county. Unfortunately for the latter city, neither of the great lines of railroad mentioned pass through the sections of our territory that would give it the greatest advantages by opening roads to the great wealth stored away in our hills and forests. But it will be seen that the advantages to travel and shipping afforded by transportation lines in this county are almost equal, if not entirely so, to the best in the State, and they are sure in a short time to be unsurpassed in the South.

Quite recently several mining and improvement companies have been incorporated to operate in this county. These have invested largely in mineral lands, and sooner or later a greater industrial era will begin here. Active operations, in this respect, are secured by the amount of capital already scattered among the land owners of the county.

The agricultural prospects of the county are in a flattering condition, and the farmers have not been so generally in a better financial condition, since the war. The products of the soil are cotton, Irish and sweet potatoes, with all the cereals of a temperate climate. Potatoes of both kinds grow abundantly. The sorghum crop seldom fails, and the syrup manufactured from this cane is much superior usually to the grades of syrups shipped to our local markets. This county will produce a finer texture of cotton and more to the acre on an average, with care and attention to cultivation, than can be produced elsewhere in the State. Corn can be raised in greater abundance than in the corn growing States with proper cultivation - the soil seems, adapted naturally to this cereal growth, if planted early, but the crop is too generally left to take care of itself when it needs most attention.

Lands are remarkably cheap, but this will not be long the case. Grasses and clover grow luxuriantly though little or no cultivation is given to such crops, the soil naturally producing grasses enough for home purposes without culture. The dew, black and huckle-berries grow abundantly, while the raspberries and strawberries can be cultivated to great advantage.

The local educational advantages can hardly be excelled anywhere, as the people are paying great attention at this time to literary and business culture. Every community has its local school, and new school buildings are going up where they are needed. The same progress is making in religious and moral culture. In this respect St. Clair's history of late has been remarkable, from the new places where public works have been going on. The county is almost free from criminals or law violators. Even the new-comers, if wild and reckless when they come here, soon adapt themselves to the quiet, peaceful habits of the old element of our society.

The valuation of taxable property in St. Clair county for the year 1887 is $2,493,239, as shown by the abstract of assessment filed with the auditor. 


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