Submitted by: Nancy Bell


An early county seat of Conecuh County, Hampton Ridge was situated on a hill just west of Murder Creek, approximately 10 miles south of Bellville. Samuel Buchanan is thought to have been the first settler in Conecuh County. In 1815, he built a cabin on what later became Hawthorne's Mill Creek. A short time later, Alexander Autrey settled on the creek which bears his name but removed to a line of hills west of Murder Creek in 1816. He gave the name "Hampton Ridge" to one of the hills, which was occupied a few months later by a number of families.

From the time of its founding, Hampton Ridge grew rapidly and became the county seat in a close race over its chief rival, Bellville. The courthouse was a crude, one-room, chestnut-log structure, in which a rough table stood on a floor of packed dirt. Because there was no jail in the town, prisoners had to be housed in the Claiborne jail 35 miles away.

An Indian village stood across the creek from Hampton Ridge, and for a while there was no friction between the Indians and the settlers. Trouble came when a distant band of Indians made a cattle-stealing raid in the vicinity. The settlers were quick to place the blame on the local Indians, armed themselves, and destroyed the Indian village. The Indians retreated, never to return.

Many of the Hampton Ridge settlers promptly moved to the site of the Indian village and started a town, which they named Sparta, on the east bank of the creek. Soon this new town gained in population and became Hampton Ridge's chief rival for the county seat, winning the coveted prize in 1820. Sparta became the center of county activities, and Hampton Ridge began to decline in importance. It never appeared on the state maps, dying in the early days of the state's history.

Source: "Dead Towns of Alabama" by W. Stuart Harris. Part III. Page 82-83