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Tuscaloosa County Alabama



TUSKALOOSA, The Origin Of Its Name - by Thomas Maxwell 1876

Alabama As It Is - by B Riley 1887

Tuscaloosa History - by Smith and DeLand - 1888


Photo from: Alabama Supplement, by P. W. Hodges, Dothan, AL, 1918 - Published by The Macmillian Company 

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

The county of Tuscaloosa was organized in 1818. It is called from the Indian name of its principal stream. It is one of the most noted counties of the State, its principal city having once been the capital of Alabama, and being now the seat of the State University, the Insane Asylum, as well as that of a number of female schools of distinction.

The elements of wealth of Tuscaloosa county are varied. There is a great variety of soils as well as productions, and the county has considerable wealth of minerals.

It has an area of 1,390 square miles. 

Population in 1870, 20,081; population in 1880, 24,957. White, 15,216; colored, 9,741.

Tilled Land: 111,171 acres.—Area planted in cotton, 33,773 acres; in corn, 38,638 acres; in oats, 6,974 acres; in wheat, 2,689 acres; in rye, 130 acres; in sugar-cane, 35 acres; in tobacco, 20 acres; in sweet potatoes, 919 acres.  Cotton Production : 11,137 bales.

Throughout the county of Tuscaloosa, the surface is hilly and broken. This irregularity prevails more in some quarters than in others perhaps, but this is the general rule. The lands vary greatly in their fertility. In the eastern, northeastern and northern parts of the county, there are but few lands of any great value for purposes of cultivation. The soil is saudy, though there are districts where the land is found quite productive. Fertilizers, judiciously used, would make even the most unpromising soils, in these sections of the county, productive. Through the center of Tuscaloosa, and in the western and southern portions, the most valuable and remunerative soils are found. The lands most esteemed by farmers are those lying along the streams. These bottoms are, in some sections, very narrow, but are almost invariably fertile. The best lauds for planting lie along the Warrior river, in the lower portion of the county.

After this river sweeps past the city of Tuscaloosa, the bottoms begin to broaden, and have long been in cultivation. In this section are found some of the most inviting farms in the State. Both corn and cotton yield quite abundantly. The greater part of the cotton crop of Tuscaloosa county is raised upon the valley lands. It must not be inferred from the foregoing that the productive soils are restricted to the basins of the county. Such is not the fact. There is a large quantity of upland soil which is much prized for its productive capabilities. It is estimated that fully one-half of the tillable soils of Tuscaloosa county are devoted to the production of cottou. Corn, oats, peas, rye, and sorghum, grow with great readiness Grasses and clovers grow splendidly when cultivated. Through the forests and upon the old fields and castaway lands, there is, during three-fourths of the year, a sward of native clovers and grasses, which afford excellent pasturage facilities to stock. This taken in connection with the fact that the county is remarkably well watered, especially in such sections as where the best herbage springs, indicates the favorableness of this region to stock-raising. Appreciating this fact, many of the inhabitants are already engaged in this lucrative branch of industry.

The forests of the county are stocked with yellow or long-leaf pine, which grows abundantly and at great height; the beech, white, red, blackjack, and Spanish oaks, sweet gum, poplar, elm, hickory, bay, cherry, and cottonwood. There are many saw-mills in the county devoted to the manufacture of lumber. The numerous streams which flow through these immense forests usually have considerable fall, and afford many valuable seats for mills and other similar enterprises. The water-power of the county is immense. The mineral wealth of the county, though largely undeveloped, is great. It has been estimated that nearly, if not quite, five-sevenths of the total area of the county contains coal. The quality of the coal is good. The coal measures of this county are regarded the thickest of the Warrior coalfield, and, indeed, the thickest known to exist in the world. Nothing more than a bare mention can be made here of the extensive mineral wealth of the county. To those interested in the examination of the matter, reference is made to the accurate report of Professor Henry McCalley, assistant State geologist, on the Warrior coalfield. It is published under the auspices of the State, and is for gratuitous distribution. Flagging stone and manganese are found in the county. Transportation is secured through the Alabama Great Southern railroad and the Warrior river. The former of these furnishes commercial facilities to New Orleans and Cincinnati, and the latter opens up a natural highway to the gulf. The new railroad from Mobile to the Tennessee river is expected to run through this county. These, together with the natural advantages, render Tuscaloosa an inviting point for residence.

As has already been intimated, the water supply of the county is exhaustless. The streams are the Black Warrior, Sipsey, and North rivers; and Valley, Yellow, Grant's, Rock Castle, Wolf, Shoal, Davis, and Big Sandy creeks. Several of these penetrate large districts of heavy, valuable timber. In the low places, usually along the creeks, are found dense brakes of wild cane, which is greatly relished by stock. Fruit of several varieties abound throughout the county. Chief among these are apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, and strawberries. There are several thriving industries in the county, among which may be named the Tuscaloosa Cotton Mills, at Cottondale; and the Tuscaloosa Cotton Factory, the iron foundry, and the cotton-seed oil mills, near the city of Tuscaloosa. Other industries are in contemplation.

The points of interest in the county are Tuscaloosa, the county seat, with a population of 2,000; Northport, Cottondale, and Fosters.

Tuscaloosa is one of the most inviting points in the State, both as a place of residence, and as a manufacturing location. Its proximity to the great mineral fields, and its location at the head of navigation on the Warrior, give it decided advantage as a manufacturing point. For many years it has been the seat of the University of Alabama, one of the most distinguished literary institutions of the South. Institutions for female education also exist. The city has long been noted for its beauty, its broad streets, shaded by the native wateroak; its handsome churches, superb school buildings, and attractive residences. In social culture, it is the peer of any Southern city. Its location is favorable to the planting of industrial enterprises. Just beyond its limits arc the falls of the Warrior river, which, by reason of their immense power, are admirably suited to the location of manufactories. Surrounded by so many elements of natural wealth, and possessing a healthfulness of location, the city of Tuscaloosa is destined to great prominence in the future. It is located at the head of  navigation of the Warrior river, and enjoys commercial relations with Mobile through a line of steamers.

An iron bridge spans the river in the northwestern part of the city, and unites it with the thrifty town of Northport, beyond the Warrior. Lands are variously estimated in different portions of the county, and range fron $2 to $25 per acre.  Within the limits of the county are 109,520 acres of government land.

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


Population: White, 15,216; colored, 9,711. Area, square miles, 1,390. Woodland, all. Gravelly hills and long-leaf pines, 675. Coal measures 965 square miles.

Acres - In cotton (approximately) 33,773; in corn 38,638; in oats 6,974; in wheat 2,689; in rye 130; in sugar-cane 35; in tobacco 20; in sweet potatoes 919. Approximate number of bales of cotton, 12,000.

County Seat - Tuscaloosa; population 2,500; located on Black Warrior River at the head of steamboat navigation, and on Alabama Great Southern Railroad.

Newspapers published at County Seat - Gazette, Times and Alabama University - the former Democratic and the latter educational.

Post offices in the County - Binion's Creek, Clement's Depot, Coaling, Cottondale, Dudley, Fosters, Hagler, Hayes, Hybernia, Hickman's, Hull, Humphrey, Jena, Leled Lane, McConnell's, Marcumville, Moore's Bridge, New Lexington, Northport, Odenheim, Olmsted Station, Oregonia, Reuben, Romulus, Samantha, Sipsey Turnpike, Skelton, Sylvan, Tannehill, Tuscaloosa, Tyner, Waldo, White Cloud.

Tuscaloosa County was established February 7, 1818.

Its original northern boundary was that of the present counties of Marion and Winston. It was named for the river Tuscaloosa, which flows through it. The name is from the Choctaw words, tusca, warrior, loosa, black, hence Black-warrior. The northern and northeastern portions of the county contains the finest long-leaf, yellow pine forests in the State. Poplar, ash, white oak, hickory and beech, and others of the forest trees, some of which are marvelous in size. Coal, iron ore and fire clays abound throughout the entire county.

In addition to the Queen and Crescent, several railroads have been projected and surveyed, and a large force is now constructing one, the Tuscaloosa Northern, which crosses the Warrior nine miles above the city, and will pass the great coal and timber belt north and northeast of the city, and connect with the Georgia Pacific at Ada, and thence with the great St. Louis & Memphis systems, giving access to the great West. The Gulf & Chicago has been surveyed from Florence to Mobile, developing a remarkably low grade considering the rough country through which the northern division passes. The Mobile & Tuscaloosa has also been surveyed, which will be extended to Natchez via Jackson. In addition is another important railroad, the Great Northwestern, which is to be built from Montgomery through the Cahaba and Warrior coal-fields, via Tuscaloosa to Sheffield.

The Tuscaloosa Cotton Mills, with about 200 looms, started six years ago with $40,000 capital, and has paid out over $250,000 to employees. The yarn mills of L. P. Gander run about 3,000 spindles, and have doubled their output within the last year. These are located on the river front, and are models of success. The Cottondale Mills have been equally successful. In addition to these, four or five extensive brickyards are in successful operation.


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