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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


Alabama is bounded on the north by TN, the east by GA, the south by FL & the Gulf of Mexico and on the west by MS, It has about 50,722 square miles. 
Physical aspects: The face of Alabama is somewhat varied.  Near the Gulf of Mexico the country is low and level, embracing numerous swamps and savannas.  A large portion of the upland toward the centre consists of pine-barrens, thinly wooded or covered with coarse grass.  The soil here is generally sandy and thin.  The central part of the state consists of a table-land, with a deep rich productive soil.  Toward the north, the surface becomes mountainous and hilly, beyond which lies the valley of TN, where the soil id highly fertile. 

Mountains: The Cumberland or Appalachian range extends into this state from the NE, and is believed to abound in mineral wealth.

Rivers & Bays: The principle rivers are the Alabama, Tombigbee, Black Warrior, Coosa, Tallapoosa, Tennessee, Chattahoochee, Perdido, Cahawba and the Mobile.  The chief bays are Mobile bay and Bon Secour, which are situated in the SW part of the state.

Islands: At the mouth of Mobile bay is a chain of low islands, the three principle of which are, Dauphine, hurricane and Horn

Climate: The climate of the uplands is generally salubrious with mild winters, and pleasant summers; but in the southern parts, and along the borders of the streams it is unhealthy.  The extremes of the seasons greatly vary.  Those portions of the state lying along the gulf may be regarded as sub-tropical, while those in the more elevated and northern parts, are more or less subject to excessive frosts, and abiding snows.  Although the navigation of the rivers is sometimes impeded by ice, it is more frequently the case that it is suspended by excessive droughts.

Productive Resources: No part of this state will admit of the profitable cultivation of the sugar cane unless we except a narrow strip along its extreme border on the SW.  The staple products are cotton, rice, tobacco, wheat, oats, potatoes and Indian corn.  Indigo was formerly ranked among the staple crops, but its cultivation in 1850 was 41,964.  Mines of gold, silver and iron are successfully worked in the county of Randolph.  Gold also occurs in Tallapoosa, Coosa, Talladega and Chambers.  Silver if found in Tallapoosa, iron in Benton, Clarke and Talladega, nitre in Blount and lead in the bed of TN, and on the Cahawhe, and Black Warrior Rivers. On Muscle shoal, coal abounds in Tuscaloosa, and on the Cahawba and Black Warrior plus marble, granite, limestone and in Clarke, produces salt.

Manufactures: There are upward if 1000 manufacturing establishments in this state, producing $500 and more each year.  There are several cotton factories established, though they produce only the more common fabrics required for domestic use.  Tanneries, flouring and saw mills are numerous, and the products of individual industry in the mechanic arts are considerable

Railroads & Canals: There are as yet but about 150 miles of RR complete in Alabama.  But new lines are projected, and some of them will be carried through at an early day.  The principle canals are the Muscle Shoal canal, 36 miles long and the Huntsville canal, 16 miles.

Commerce: The foreign trade of Alabama (mostly exports of domestic produce) amounts to about $12 million annually.  The shipping engaged in the foreign trade is about 100,000 tons and about as much more in the coasting-trade, principally with the northern Atlantic ports.

Education: Of the educational institutions in Alabama, the university of Tuscaloosa, founded in 1828, is the principle; besides this are, La Grange College founded in 1831; Spring Hill College founded in 1830 and Howard College at Marion, founded in 1841. A law school is attached to the university and theological seminaries to Spring Hill and Howard Colleges.  There are in the state about 200 academics and grammar schools, and about 1000 primary and common schools

Population:  In 1800 est at 2000.  In 1810 at 20,845.  In 1820 at 127,901.  In 1830 at 309,527.  In 1840 at 590,756.  In 1850 at 771,672.  Numbers of slaves in 1820 was 41,879.  In 1830 was 117,549.  In 1840 was 253,532.  In 1850 was 342,892.

Government: The legislative power is vested in two branches, a senate and house of representatives.  The house consists of 100 members, elected for two years.  The senate consists of 33 members, elected for four years.  One half retiring every two years.  The executive power is vested in a governor, who is elected by the people for two years and is eligible four years out of six. State election first Monday in August.  The legislature meets biennially at Montgomery.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, of three judges, in a court of chancery, of three chancellors, the state being divided into three chancery districts; in circuit courts, each held by one judge, the state being divided into eight circuits, and  such inferior courts as the legislature may establish.  The judges of the supreme and circuit courts, and the chancellors, are elected by a joint vote of the two houses o the general assembly for six years.  The right of suffrage is possessed by every white male citizen of 21 years of age, who has resided within the state for one year preceding an election, and the last 3 months within the district in which he offers his vote.

History: The territory of Alabama was formerly held by France, as a part of Louisiana.  Its first permanent settlement by Europeans having been established by D'Iberville in 1702 on Mobile Bay.  Subsequently 4 degrees of latitude, of its most northerly part, fell into the possession of the English and was embraced within the grant to the Georgia colony, in 1732.  After the treaty of Paris in 1763, when Florida was ceded to Great Britain, and the French restricted to the western side of the Mississippi, the southern part of the present state of Alabama was attached to the western division of Florida, the northern division being claimed by Georgia, as a part of the original grant, which embraced the region between the rivers Savannah and Altamaha, extending from their head waters westward to the "South Sea".  IN 1781 Governor Galvez of Louisiana, invaded and conquered West Florida, which together with a part of East Florida, then held by the British, once more fell into the hands of Spain, in 1783, who held it until 1798, at which time, all that portion of Georgia south of Altamaha was ceded to the United States.  By act of Congress subsequent to the adjustment of the boundary between Louisiana and Florida, and our then newly acquired territory, north of the 31st degree of latitude, provision was made for a territorial government, in what is now comprised Mississippi and Alabama, called the "Mississippi Territory".,  In 1802, cession was made by Georgia to the United States, of all her territory on the west between Chattahochee and Mississippi Rivers, as far up the former as near the 33rd parallel of latitude and then to latitude 35 degrees by the existing line between Georgia and Alabama.  In this condition the Mississippi territory remained until 1817, when it was organized by act of Congress, into two states, Mississippi and Alabama.  In 1819, the inhabitants of the latter formed a constitution, and in 1820 it was admitted into the Union as an independent state.

1850 Counties of  Alabama

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Autauga central part, on north & west side of Coosa river 774 Kingston 15,023
Baldwin in southwest part, on Gulf of Mexico, Tensaw & Alabama rivers on west and Perdido river on east 200  Blakeley 4,414
Barbour in south east part, on west side Chattahoochee river 1,200 Clayton 23,632
Benton on eastern boundary, water by Tallapossa & a branch of Coosa river 1,060 Jacksonville 17,163
Bibb central part, crossed by Calhawha river, Coosa river on east side 1,100 Centreville 9,969
Blount northern part, 960 Blountsville 7,367
Butler southern part 1,000 Greenville 10, 836
Chambers eastern boundary, Chattahoochee river on east, crossed by Tallapoosa river in NW section 700 Lafayette 23.960
Cherokee eastern boundary, crossed by Coosa river not listed Jefferson 13,884
Choctaw western boundary, west side of Tombigbee river blank Butler 8,384
Clarke northwestern part, between Alabama & Tombigbee rivers 1200 Clarksville 9,786
Coffee south boundary, crossed by Pea river not listed Wellborn 5,940
Conecuh south boundary, crossed by Conecuh river 1531 Sparta 9.322
Coosa central part, east side of Coosa river 870 Rockford 14,533
Covington southern boundary 1664 Montezuma 3,645
Dale south boundary, drained by tributaries of Choctawhatchie river 1064 Daleville 6,346
Dallas southwest part, water by Alabama & Cahawba rivers 925 Cahawba 29,727
De Kalb northeast part 1500 Lebanon 8,245
Fayette western boundary 1250 Fayetteville 9,681
Franklin western boundary, Tennessee river on the north 648 Russellville 19,610
Greene western part, crossed by Black Warrior river & Tombigbee river on southwest 836 Eutaw 31,441
Henry southeast corner, Chattahoochee river on east 975 Abbeville 9,019
Jackson north boundary, crossed by Tennessee river 975 Bellefonte 14,088
Jefferson northern part 1040 Elyton 8,989
Lauderdale northwest corner, with Tennessee river on south 672 not given 17,172
Lawrence northern part, Tennessee river on north 725 Moulton 15,258
Limestone northern boundary, Tennessee river on south 575 Athena 16,483
Lowndes towards southern part, Alabama river on north 1600 Lowndesborogh 21,915
Macon towards southeast part, with Tallapoosa river on northwest 970 Tuskegee 26,898
Madison northern boundary, Tennessee river on south 760 Huntsville 26,327
Marengo western part, Tombigbee river on west 975 Linden 27,831
Marion west boundary 1144 Pikeville 7,833
Marshall northeastern part, crossed by Tennessee river 600 Warrenton 8,846
Mobile southwest corner, Gulf of Mexico on south,, Mobile bay & Texas river on east, crossed by Mobile river 2252 Mobile 27,600
Monroe southern part, Alabama river on west 980 Monroeville 12,013
Montgomery toward southeast part, Alabama river on northwest, crossed by Tallapoosa river 900 Montgomery 29,711
Morgan northern part, Tennessee river on north 720 Somerville 10,125
Perry central part, crossed by Cahawba river 936 Marion 22,285
Pickens west boundary, crossed by Tombigbee river 720 Carrollton 21,512
Pike south eastern part 1100 Troy 15,926
Randolph east boundary, crossed by Tallapoosa river 875 McDonald 11,581
Russell east boundary, Chattahoochee river on east 865 Crawford 19,548
St Clair toward northern part, Coosa river on southeast 840 Ashville 6,829
Shelby central part, Coosa river on east, Catawba on west 950 Columbiana 9,536
Sumter on west boundary, Tombigbee & Little Tombigbee rivers on east & northeast 1200 Livingston 22,250
Talladega eastern part, Coosa river on west 1230 Talladega 18,624
Tallapoosa in east part, crossed by Tallapoosa river 91 Dadeville 15,584
Tuscaloosa western part, crossed by Black Warrior river 1350 Tuscaloosa 18,056
Walker toward northwest 1500 Jasper 5,124
Washington on west boundary, Tombigbee river on east 840 Old Washington 2,713
Wilcox toward southwest part, crossed by Alabama river 1200 Camden 17,352

Mobile, AL

Mobile city, seat of justice of Mobile Co, AL, situated 30 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, on Mobile bay, 160 miles east of New Orleans, and 1,013 miles from Washington, and is the principal city and only port of entry of Alabama.  It occupies an elevated plain, over looking the pleasant bay, and is fanned by its breezes.  Fires have several times injured the city, but it has been rebuilt with improved appearance and solidity.  From its position in the state, it is the receptacle of the commerce of Alabama.  Vast quantities of cotton are annually exported.  The harbor is difficult of access, being obstructed by marshy islands and shoals, but within deep and spacious enough for large vessels.  These, by a circuit around the island, in front of the city, anchor at its wharves.  The entrance to the bay is defended by a fortification and marked by a lighthouse.  Good water, from a neighboring source, is distributed over the city by iron pipes.  Railroads are in process of construction to connect the city with the Ohio river, and also with the Atlantic states through Georgia.  It has daily communications with New Orleans.  There are a custom house, courthouse, hospitals, banks, and churches.  In 1813, the period when Mobile passed from the hands of Spain into possession of the United States, it contained about 100 buildings. 

Population: in 1830 was 3,194; in 1840 was 12,672 and in 1850 was 20,515

Montgomery, AL

City, seat of justice of Montgomery Co, and capital of the state of Alabama, having succeeded Tuscaloosa as the seat of government, in 1847, has a central situation in Montgomery county, 220 miles northeast of Mobile, and 889 miles from Washington.  It is the centre of an extensive trade in cotton, which is brought from the surrounding country to this point, the head of steamboat navigation on the Alabama river.  It contains the usual number of public buildings.  The Montgomery and West Point and the Lagrange railroads, unite the city to Atlanta, on the route of the Georgia railroad, and to in intermediate points.

Population: in 1840 was 2,179 and in 1850 was 11,937.

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