Information

History of Decatur, Alabama


Decatur, a city in Morgan County on the Tennessee River, is in the Huntsville metropolitan area. Sometimes known as "The River City," Decatur has a rich and colorful history.A ferry crossing over the Tennessee River was established by Dr. The community that developed around the ferry wasknown as Rhodes Ferry until 1823, when it was renamed Decatur for the U.S. Its fertile river valley soil and relatively easy river access to other cities drew many settlers to the community at that time.In 1833, the State Bank of Alabama opened in Decatur, its building being an impressive edifice in pre-Greek Revival style. Decatur was a muchdisputed objective during the Civil War, with the result that the Old State Bank was one of only three or four buildings still standing atits conclusion.The Decatur Land and Development Company promoted a new city called New Decatur to the southeast of Decatur around 1886. The new city, named "Albany" was incorporated in 1887. In 1927, Albany merged with Decatur to become a single city.During the early 1900s, many new homes were built and civic improvements were made as the city focused on providing a better quality of life for its citizens. The city’s first traffic lights were installed in 1929.Decatur is located on the banks of Wheeler Lake, which was created by theTennessee Valley Authority when the agency dammed the Tennessee River with the Guntersville Dam. Across the lake is the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.


Morgan County

Old State Bank Located in the north-central part of the state, Morgan County is home to numerous waterways. The second Scottsboro trial also took place in Morgan County on March 28, 1933, after a change of venue from Stevenson, Jackson County. The county is governed by an elected five-member commission and includes the incorporated communities of Hartselle, Trinity, Priceville, and Falkville.
  • Founding Date: February 6, 1818
  • Area: 575 square miles
  • Population: 119,555 (2016 Census estimate)
  • Major Waterways: Tennessee River
  • Major Highways: U.S. 31, U.S. 72, Interstate 65
  • County Seat: Decatur
  • Largest City: Decatur
Morgan County Archives Morgan County was created by an act of the Alabama Territorial General Assembly on February 6, 1818, preceding Alabama's statehood by almost two years. The county was created from land acquired from the Cherokee Indians by the 1818 Treaty of Turkeytown. The county was originally named Cotaco for a creek that flows through it. When the area was officially opened in 1818, settlers came mostly from Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The first towns in present-day Morgan County grew up along the banks of the Cotaco and Flint creeks and their tributaries. Some of these early towns were Flint, Danville, Bluff City, Decatur, and Hartselle. On June 14, 1821, the name was changed to Morgan County in honor of Gen. Daniel Morgan of Virginia, who fought in the American Revolution. The county seat was at Somerville from 1818 until 1891, when it was moved to Decatur. Morgan County Courthouse During the Civil War, northern Morgan County was a hotly contested area because of its access to a railroad bridge across the Tennessee River. Decatur hosted headquarters of both United States and Confederate forces during the war. The city was the site of the Battle of Decatur in 1864, and all but three buildings in Decatur were torn down by occupying federal forces and reused in the construction of barracks and other military structures. Later, courthouse fires in 1926 and 1938 destroyed many records about the county's early history. Successful Rabbit Hunt The first settlers in what would become Morgan County were generally farmers. Some established large-scale cotton plantations on the fertile lands bordering the Tennessee River. Those who settled along the county's abundant small creeks worked small farms. Abundant ferries and steamboat stops made early Morgan County a center for cotton shipping and the lumber industry. Cattle, hog, and sheep farming were minor economic efforts in the Cumberland Plateau region as well. During the 1930s, the Tennessee Valley Authority made the Tennessee River navigable with a series of locks and dams, which also provided abundant and inexpensive electricity. Morgan County's economy thus shifted from agriculture and forestry to industry and manufacturing.
  • Manufacturing (20.1 percent)
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.9 percent)
  • Retail trade (13.9 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.3 percent)
  • Construction (9.1 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.5 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (5.3 percent)
  • Public administration (4.4 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (4.1 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.8 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.1 percent)
  • Information (1.0 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.7 percent)
Morgan County Map Comprising approximately 575 square miles, Morgan County is located in the north-central part of the state. The northern half of the county lies in the Highland Rim physiographic section, and the southern half lies in the Cumberland Plateau section. The county is bordered to the north by Limestone and Madison Counties, to the east by Marshall County, to the south by Cullman County, and to the west by Lawrence County. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Morgan County offers a range of opportunities for recreational activities. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge located between Decatur and Hartselle along the Tennessee River consists of 35,000 acres of wildlife habitat. The refuge is home to Alabama's largest wintering duck population. Visitors can take part in a variety of recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, camping, and educational programs. Point Mallard Municipal Park in Decatur covers 750 acres and features a 35-acre water-themed park, 210 campsites, a golf course, an amphitheater, and hiking and biking trails. The park also hosts special events such as the annual Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Decatur every September. Princess Theatre in Decatur Many of Decatur's notable nineteenth- and twentieth-century homes and commercial buildings can be seen in the Albany Heritage Neighborhood Historic District and the Old Decatur Historic District, which includes several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the only three buildings left standing from the pre-Civil War era: the Dancy-Polk House (1829), the Old State Bank (1833), and the Rhea-McEntire House (1835). The Old State Bank is now a local history museum open to visitors, and the Decatur Union Depot Museum celebrates the region's railroad history. Historical artifacts, documents, photographs, and other items are housed in the Morgan County Archives in Decatur. The Princess Theatre, built in 1887, originally served as a horse stable for a hotel among other purposes. It has been home to the Performing Arts Center since 1983.

Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic Each year, Morgan County hosts a variety of festivals and celebrations. The Spirit of America 4th of July Festival is one of Alabama's largest Independence Day celebrations. Each September, Hartselle celebrates the town's railroad heritage at the Depot Days Festival. Calhoun Community College hosts the Southern Wildlife Festival in mid-October. The festival features a variety of arts and crafts related to wildlife and nature conservancy.

The Heritage of Morgan County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.


Decatur

Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic The city of Decatur is located in northern Alabama along the Tennessee River and is the county seat of Morgan County. It is known as the "River City" because it was originally a river crossing for settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains the location on the river still makes Decatur a major transportation hub in the Southeast. Decatur received its name on June 16, 1820, in honor of Stephen Decatur, a naval hero of the War of 1812. The Alabama Legislature officially incorporated the city in 1826. Decatur has a mayor-council form of government with a mayor who serves as the chief executive officer and five council members who each serve a five-year term each. Decatur has been home to several nationally and internationally recognized individuals. Actor Dean Jones, best known for his roles in Disney films such as The Love Bug, was born there in 1931. Actor Lucas Black, born in 1982, has appeared in such films as Jarhead, Friday Night Lights, Cold Mountain, and Crazy in Alabama. Football players RaTavious Anton "Taye" Biddle, wide receiver for several teams in the National Football League and the Canadian Football league, and Philip Rivers, starting quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, were both born in Decatur. Truett Banks "Rip" Sewell of Decatur became a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for the Detroit Tigers in 1932 and the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1938 to 1949. Decatur Port Scene, ca. 1890 Early settlers were drawn to Decatur because of the area's fertile soil and easy river access to other cities. In 1836, Decatur became the eastern boundary of the first railroad line west of the Appalachian Mountains. This event would change the city's history by boosting the economy and causing a rapid population increase in the area. With the arrival of the railroad, Decatur was connected with two major regional shipping outlets—the Tennessee River and the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad—and soon became a primary industrial and transportation hub. Union Pontoon Bridge, 1864 During the Civil War, U.S. and Confederate armies fought to maintain control over the strategic city. By war's end, the city was devastated, with all but three buildings having been dismantled by federal forces and used to construct barracks and other buildings. The citizens of Decatur immediately began rebuilding, but the city suffered a major yellow fever outbreak in 1877. Not until the late 1880s did the city began to expand once again. In 1886, the Decatur Land, Improvement, and Furnace Company began promoting a new city to the southeast of Decatur called New Decatur. In 1888, the city again suffered a yellow fever outbreak, hampering the expansion of New Decatur. In 1905, the Southern Railway company built a depot in the city that is now the Decatur Union Depot Museum. Decatur Union Depot Museum In September 1916, the people of New Decatur voted to change the town's name to Albany to avoid the "Decatur" label. During the construction of the Keller Memorial Bridge across the Tennessee River, both Albany and Decatur cooperated financially. After a move toward municipal unity, the Alabama legislature attempted to make Albany part of Decatur on August 28, 1923, but conflicts arose over higher taxes in Albany and different debt loads between the two towns. Ultimately, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the union of the two towns was unconstitutional. Four years later, in 1927, after the issues were resolved, the legislature was finally able to merge the towns prior to the completion of the Keller Memorial Bridge. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Decatur continued to expand during the early twentieth century, and by 1929 Decatur's first traffic lights were installed. Also, after the U.S. Congress created the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933, Decatur and other parts of north Alabama benefited from dams and hydroelectric plants constructed in the area. The dams provided flood control, improved navigation, and offered affordable electricity to Decatur and other residents of the Tennessee Valley. By the late 1930s, Decatur's agricultural economy began to make a recovery from the Great Depression.
  • Manufacturing (20.2 percent)
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.3 percent)
  • Retail trade (14.9 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.4 percent)
  • Construction (8.2 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (8.0 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (4.8 percent)
  • Public administration (4.4 percent)
  • Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.0 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (3.6 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (1.9 percent)
  • Information (1.0 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.4 percent)
Norfolk Southern Tennessee River Bridge The Tennessee River, which serves as the northernmost border of Decatur, is still an important transportation resource, with the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway connecting Morgan County with other major inland waterway ports. This waterway reduces the original navigational distance from Tennessee, north Alabama, and Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico by hundreds of miles. Three public barge terminals are also used by the city. The Norfolk Southern railroad system connects Decatur with other major rail terminals in the United States. Point Mallard Park Decatur offers residents a number of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Its location on the Tennessee River allows locals and visitors to enjoy boating, fishing, and water skiing. Decatur is also the location of Point Mallard, one of Alabama's largest recreational facilities. The park includes 750 acres of land hosting the J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center, a golf course, an indoor ice rink, hiking/biking trails by the river, sports fields, and campgrounds. Other places of interest include the Jack Allen Sports Complex, North Alabama Birding Trail, Riverwalk Marina, and other parks. Decatur is the nearest city to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, which includes 35,000 acres of land to provide a safe habitat for wintering and migrating birds in the eastern United States. It is named for war veteran and politician Joseph Wheeler, as is nearby Wheeler Lake. Decatur served as the location for the filming of the movie Tom and Huck in 1995. Carnegie Visual Arts Center Decatur is home to several places that celebrate the arts, including the Carnegie Visual Arts Center and the historic Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, which was created in 1919 from a renovated livery stable. The Old State Bank Museum offers exhibits on early banking in Alabama. Cook's Natural Science Museum was founded in the 1960s by John R. Cook Jr., found of Cook's Pest Control as a training facility and now houses more than 2,000 exhibits on all aspects of natural science. The Morgan County Archives, located in the Art Deco former headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Bank, house documents, artifacts, memorabilia, and other items related to county history.

Princess Theatre in Decatur Each July, Decatur hosts the Corn Day Festival, which features local artists and musicians along with free corn on the cob and other local produce. The Southern Wildlife Festival combines art and wildlife and includes a showcase of wildlife paintings, carvings, and photographs, as well as educational seminars that provide painting and carving demos and even live birds of prey. During the festival, the "Kids Gone Wild" program gives children the opportunity to make bird feeders and other wildlife-related art. The show is held on the campus of John C. Calhoun College in October.

Jenkins, William H., and John Knox. The Story of Decatur, Alabama. Decatur, Ala.: Decatur Printing Co., 1970.


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Decatur Fire & Rescue Chief Thornton awarded Miss Lynden Watkins with a Letter of Commendation for using her fire safety to save her family.

Mayor Bowling also recognized.

Council Agenda Work Session & Meeting 5:3:2021

FYI from Decatur Fire & Rescue:

Ingalls Harbor Pavilion and Event Center will host a dedication today in honor of its newest interpretive sign detailing the history of Ingalls Shipyard.

Thank you to all of our area partners who made this possible! Be sure to stop by.


Leila Ross Wilburn, Architect

Leila Ross Wilburn, who attended Agnes Scott College, was one of only two women registered as an architect in Atlanta in 1920. Ms. Wilburn designed and built a home in the neighborhood where she lived with her widowed mother and younger siblings. She published several popular plan books that emphasized her status as a Southerner and a woman. Through these plan books, she influenced neighborhood design throughout the Southeast during the 1920s.

In 1907 John Mason and Poleman Weekes purchased property that was to become Decatur's first residential subdivision. The district known today as the M.A.K. neighborhood is named for its main streets, McDonough, Adams and Kings Highway, and encompasses ten city blocks of varying size. Ms. Wilburn was employed by Mason and Weekes to design many of the homes for the new subdivision.

The MAK neighborhood retains many of the Wilburn-designed homes and offers excellent examples of craftsman style homes that were popular during the first three decades of the 20th century.


1. Gross rent is defined as contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, water, and sewer) and fuel (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). Because some rentals include utilities and others don't, gross rent is a way of normalizing the variability. ↩

2. Real dollars are calculated using the CPI-U less shelter series. ↩

3. The rental vacancy rate is computed by dividing the number of vacant units for rent by the sum of the renter-occupied units, vacant units that are for rent, and vacant units that have been rented but not yet occupied. ↩

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The Department of Numbers contextualizes public data so that individuals can form independent opinions on everyday social and economic matters.


History of Decatur, Alabama - History

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Town Nicknames: Saturday Town, Wonder City

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The History of Decatur, Texas

One of the first settlers of Wise County, Colonel Absalom Bishop, arrived in 1854. He soon became a leader in the organization of the new county, the election of officials and the selection of the site of the County Seat.

Bishop’s group pushed for the top of a bald hill near the center of the county which overlooked the West Cross Timbers and the broad valley of the West Fork of the Trinity River. The hilltop was large enough to accommodate a town square as well as being the highest point in the county. Mr. and Mrs. James Proctor had already deeded 60 acres to the county for the town site. After a bitterly contested counting of the votes to select the site, Bishop’s hilltop won out.

Bishop immediately raised the Stars and Stripes and revealed his plan for a central commons area surrounded by a square with the business houses facing in, and main streets radiating from the four corners. He was elected Wise County’s first representative to the state legislature in 1858. Because of his leadership on behalf of Decatur and Wise County, Colonel Absalom Bishop has been called “Father of Decatur.”

A public sale of lots was held in 1857 and four lots per block were sold for $100 each (About $2780.30 today). The first structure was a 16-foot-square log cabin owned by Joe Henry Martin. Two wooden business houses were soon built. The first to be completed was Electious Halsell’s Tavern. Howell and Allen built a two-story, wooden structure on the south end of the west side. The ground floor was their general store and the Masonic Lodge used the upper story. This store held the town’s first post office. Decatur’s first physician, Dr. Thomas Stewart, opened an apothecary shop in this building.

Between 1858 and 1861, the Overland Southern Pacific mail and stagecoach route, known as the Butterfield Stage Line, passed through Decatur on its way from St. Louis to California. When on schedule, the stage arrived at midnight where it deposited mail and occasional passengers at Bishop’s store. The first courthouse, built in 1857, was a log cabin located on the northeast corner of the square. In 1861, the county built a two-story, wooden courthouse situated in the center of the square. Lawyers rented office space there. The first photograph gallery and the first newspaper were located in that building. The building burned in 1881. In 1882, a third courthouse was built off the northwest corner of the square. This building burned in 1895.

Wise County has had four courthouses. The fourth and present structure, completed in 1896, cost $110,000 to construct. It was designed by J. Riley Gordon of San Antonio. Said to be architecturally perfect, the building is constructed of pink granite from Burnet County, Texas. Each piece was precut, numbered and shipped close to 200 miles by train to Decatur. The stones were then raised into place using a windlass pulled by donkeys. Amazingly the structure was completed in less than one year.

The courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a recorded Texas Historical Landmark with the appropriate medallion and plaque proudly displayed. Open weekdays, Monday through Friday, tours may be arranged through the County Judge’s office at 940-627-5743. The Wise County Courthouse is located at 101 North Trinity, Decatur, Texas.


Morgan County AL Cemetery Records

NOTE: Additional records that apply to Morgan County are also on the Alabama Cemetery Records page.

Note: Burial locations are often listed in death records and obituaries.

Morgan County Cemetery Records

Falkville Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Fennel Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Friendship Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Friendship Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Hilltop Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Little Vines Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

McKendree Cemetery Genealogy Trails

Morrow Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Morrow Cemetery, 2nd survey US Gen Web Archives

Peck Cemetery, Gandy's Cove US Gen Web Archives

Powell Chapel US Gen Web Archives

Turney Cemetery, Gandy's Cove US Gen Web Archives

Apple Grove in Morgan County Cemetery Records

Bell Springs Cemetery Records

Danville Cemetery Records

Campground Cemetery Billion Graves

Orr Cemetery, Danville US Gen Web Archives

Speake Cemetery Billion Graves

Decatur Cemetery Records

Adkins Cemetery Billion Graves

Aldridge Cemetery Billion Graves

Bishop Cemetery Billion Graves

Blackwell Cemetery Billion Graves

Blackwell Cemetery Genealogy Trails

Burleson Cemetery Billion Graves

Burning Tree Memorial Gardens Billion Graves

Chestnut Grove Cemetery Billion Graves

Dancy Cemetery Billion Graves

Decatur Cemetery Billion Graves

Grizzard Cemetery Billion Graves

Mitchell Cemetery Billion Graves

Mount Zion Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Pisgah Cemetery Billion Graves

Price Cemetery Billion Graves

Roselawn Memorial Gardens Billion Graves

Sykes Cemetery Billion Graves

Eva Cemetery Records

Bethel Cemetery Billion Graves

Etha Cemetery Billion Graves

Key-Stewart Cemetery, Eva US Gen Web Archives

Lawrence Cove Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Rock Creek Cemetery/ Odens Surname US Gen Web Archives

Union Hill Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Falkville Cemetery Records

Bell Springs Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Cedar Creek Freewill Church Cemetery Billion Graves

Cooper Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Evergreen Cemetery Billion Graves

Higdon Cemetery Billion Graves

McCroskey Cemetery Billion Graves

Mount Zion Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Piney Grove Cemetery Billion Graves

Powells Chapel Cemetery Billion Graves

Roundtop Community Church Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Wilhite Cemetery Billion Graves

Flint City Cemetery Records

Florette Cemetery Records

Hartselle Cemetery Records

Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery Billion Graves

Cedar Creek Cemetery Genealogy Trails

Garner Cemetery Billion Graves

Hartselle City Cemetery Billion Graves

Hartselle Memory Gardens Billion Graves

Herring Cemetery Billion Graves

Herring Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Key Cemetery Billion Graves

Kyle Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Liberty Cemetery Billion Graves

Moss Chapel Billion Graves

Mount Tabor Cemetery Billion Graves

Mount Tabor Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Reeves Cemetery Billion Graves

Hulaco Cemetery Records

Hebron Church of Christ Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Laceys Spring Cemetery Records

Bartee Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Saints Cemetery Billion Graves

Massey Cemetery Records

Morgan City Cemetery Records

Pine Ridge Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Union Grove Baptist Church Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Neel Cemetery Records

Priceville Cemetery Records

Pumpkin Center in Morgan County Cemetery Records

Ryan Crossroads Cemetery Records

Somerville Cemetery Records

Antioch Cemetery Billion Graves

Compton Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Garner Cemetery Billion Graves

Kyle Cemetery Billion Graves

Lyle Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Redoak Grove Cemetery Billion Graves

West Point Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Talucah Cemetery Records

Trinity Cemetery Records

Hill Cemetery US Gen Web Archives

Valhermoso Springs Cemetery Records

Valermosos Spring Holiness Church Cemetery Billion Graves

West Point in Morgan County Cemetery Records

Wolftown Cemetery Records

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Alabama Map

Morgan County shown in red

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Decatur Negro High School

Decatur Negro High School was a public high school in Decatur, Alabama, United States. It was a segregated school that was established in 1921 and closed in 1966 when the public schools were integrated. It was the only school for black children in Morgan County and as of 1992 [update] , the facility is in use as Horizon School.

Decatur Negro High School was the only school for black children in Morgan County, Alabama. It was opened by 1921, [2] [3] and in 1927, a new brick building was built on the highest point on Church Street. Over the years, it was known as George Washington Carver School, Gibbs Street School, East Decatur Colored School and Albany Negro School. After closing due to integration in 1966, the building was used as a storage facility until 1974 when it was reopened as a developmental center. In 1992, the facility became Horizon School, which is still in use as of 1992 [update] . It was placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in March 2012. [4]

  1. ^"The Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage as of April 2, 2019" (PDF) . Alabama Historical Commission. p. 95 . Retrieved December 2, 2019 .
  2. ^
  3. "Decatur Negro High School Closing Exercises". The Albany-Decatur Daily. May 19, 1921. p. 2 . Retrieved November 30, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^
  5. "Communication". The Albany-Decatur Daily. September 6, 1922. p. 5 . Retrieved November 30, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^
  7. McDaniel, Deangelo (September 29, 2019). "Decatur historians seek marker at former Carver School". Montgomery Advertiser . Retrieved November 30, 2019 .

This Alabama school-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.


Watch the video: Alabamas Year of History in Decatur (January 2022).