Walker County Coal Mines

Walker County History


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This information came from rootsweb for Walker County.     

                               Submitted by Ruth Teaford Baker

Our readers enjoy the history of Walker county, Alabama and surrounding areas. Mrs. Mamie Karrh was noted for many years for her historical writing.  She shared unselfishly of her knowledge of the region and has been an inspiration to me to do the same. Today, we will walk back through time with her to the early 1800’s.

“Three powerful Indian tribes once occupied the territory now known as Walker County, Alabama.  The Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws ranged in the area.  The Creeks and Choctaws disputed the land between theTombigbee River and the Warrior River.  The Creeks won this area by force, and fought the advance of the white man.  The Choctaws, on the other hand, were a friendly tribe.

After the Creeks were driven out of this territory in 1813, a few emigrants came to occupy the land that had been held by these Indians.  Settlement in the area was slow, because of its remoteness from navigable waters. 

In 1816, Richard Beckenbridge made a horseback trip from Columbus, Mississippi, through this section.  His journal states that he traveled two weeks before meeting a soul or seeing a house.  On August 20, he came upon a few deserted Indian cabins at the junction of Sipsey and Mulberry Forks.

The amended land-grant law of 1819 (small tracts purchased from the Government for  $1.25 an acre) brought a host of settlers into this area.  The Indian trails were thronged with people from all classes of the social levelseeking land under this new act.  From wealthy planters with their slaves to the poorest, walking with their possessions on their backs, they came, each seeking land in this wilderness territory.

It was those of the poorer class, who before 1820, turned aside into the hill country of Walker county.  These people, known as squatters, were few and widely separated.  Slaveholders sought the valleys.

Mathias Turner, one of General Jackson’s Tennessee Volunteers, settled on a creek in the lower part of the county.  He became a famous hunter, and gave the name Wolf Creek to the stream, because of the number of wolves found on the banks.

William Guthrie came down from Tennessee and settled on Lost Creek near Holly Grove.  With him came his three sons, Robert, John., and Isham.  Henry Sides came with several married sons and settled near Pleasant Grove.  David and William Payne, James Elliot, William Butt, and David Murphy were among these pioneers.

The first problem of these early settlers was to build homes, with the few implements they had brought.  These first cabins were of logs, having only one door and window.  As glass windows were unknown, a kind of crude shutter was pegged on over openings for protection.  Later, these simple houses were replaced by larger ones of hewn logs.

The success of any pioneer settlement depended upon its transportation.  Lack of roads retarded these early settlers.  The white men followed trails that had been used by the Indians.  Alabama was crisscrossed by these trails that had led from one of the tribe’s territory to another.  These trails became roads for the settlers, and the development of one of these trails was important to the development of Walker County, Alabama.