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The Alabama AlGenWeb Archives

Articles from 1976 Journal-Register Newspaper

Submitted by Monya Havekost.

Marion County Seats

The Journal-Record - Bicentennial Edition Thursday, July 1, 1976 Section B, Page 1 PIKEVILLE AND HAMILTON HAVE SERVED AS MARION COUNTY SEATS Marion County, which is one of the original counties of Alabama having been formed in Territorial days, has had only two county sites (sic), the first being Pikeville, which ended in 1882, and Hamilton which has been the county seat since 1882. In 188 an election was held in Marion County to select a new county site (sic), and the two locations proposed were "Center" which was in an unsettled woods about six miles east of "Toll Gate" which was a post office and an old settled point on the old Military Road and where Captain A. J. HAMILTON had lately moved to from Pikeville and opened up an old abandoned pre-Civil War Plantation. Toll Gate won the election and a new Court House was erected following which the court, court officials and records were moved. The name of the location was changed in honor of Captain A. J. HAMILTON, who donated forty acres of his plantation to be sold in lots to help cover the cost of building the courthouse. At this time there was one business place, but soon others came and the town began to grow. Toll Gate Post Office was changed to Hamilton Post Office November 17, 1882 with W. R. WHIRE continuing as Postmaster. There was one mail delivery a week coming from Aberdeen, Mississippi by horseback almost fifty miles a day. There have been three Courthouses in Marion County. The first, built in 1882, was destroyed by fire in April 1887. It was a wooden structure, built of clear heart pine lumber, with four brick chimneys and wide porches on the north and south sides, both up and down stairs. With this fire which destroyed the courthouse were lost all the county records. The courthouse which replaced the first one was also a wood building and used up to 1902, when it was rolled west across the street from the court square and converted into a hotel building, and later was burned down in a fire which swept the west side of town in 1912. The stone building was begun in 1901 and completed in 1902, and later enlarged by building east and west wings. After the railroad was built through Guin in 1887 and 1888 a daily mail was established leaving Hamilton in the morning and returning in the evening. The first school was taught in 1884 in a little plank house at the foot of Mitchell Hill (West Bexar Street) by Jim WHITE. The next year Doctor KEY and his daughter Miss Elliott KEY taught the school. There was no public money, and all the scholars were called on to pay tuition fees which supported the school and paid the teachers. The first high school was organized about 1889 with a professor FINDLEY (SON-IN-LAW OF DR. KEY) as the principal. He was a graduate of the Florence State Normal School and Miss Elliott KEY was his assistant. At first the only church was the Methodist and until the wooden church was built in 1888, services were upstairs in the court room of the courthouse. Years later the Baptist church was built, then later the Christian. When Hamilton became the county site (sic) in the 1880 election, there was one store, a partnership business by Captain A. J. HAMILTON and Postmaster W. R. WHITE. After the courthouse was built, this partnership was ended and W. R. WHITE continued in business for himself (for the rest of his life). Soon after FRAZIER and GASTE established businesses at the county site (sic), William NEAL came from Pikeville to go into business and the next year L. J. CLARK opened a store, which the following year he sold to G. B. MIXON. The MIXON business from father to son has continued over the years. Until the railroad was built across the south side of the county, with Guin as the nearest depot, goods were hauled in by wagons from Aberdeen and Columbus, Mississippi, forty and seventy miles away or from East Port, Mississippi on the Tennessee River. Aberdeen was the nearest point 45 miles away and it took all of a week to make the round trip there and back.


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