CREATION OF MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA
- Madison County, Mississippi Territory, became Madison County,
Alabama. However, one must recognize that the boundaries have changed
several times since 1808 when Madison County, Mississippi Territory was
first established. In 1807, Thomas Freeman, Government Surveyor, was
assigned to survey the lands in the "Triangle" which became Madison
County, Mississippi Territory on December 13, 1808. (Madison County
was created by the governor of the Mississippi Territory who named it
after President James Madison.) The first census of the inhabitants
of Madison County, Mississippi Territory was taken in January 1809. The
first sale of land in this area took place in Nashville, TN, in August
1809. The Land Office for Madison County, Mississippi Territory, was
moved from Nashville, TN, to Huntsville, AL, in 1811.
In December 1819, when Alabama progressed from territorial status to
statehood as the 22nd state of the Union, Huntsville was chosen as the
temporary capital. Here, Alabama's first constitution was drafted, its
first governor inaugurated, and its first legislature convened.
One of the best histories of the early history of Madison County,
Alabama, was written by Judge Thomas Jones Taylor (1829-1894). Judge
Taylor's original manuscript was written in the early 1880s, and it
covered the history of the first 100 years of the area that became
The manuscript was skillfully edited into 17 chapters and entitled A
HISTORY OF MADISON COUNTY AND INCIDENTALLY OF NORTH ALABAMA 1732-1840 by
W. Stanley Hoole and Addie S. Hoole who copyrighted the material. In
1976, their book was published by the Confederate Publishing Company,
University of Alabama, and I am lucky enough to have a copy.
The first chapter is entitled: THE BEGINNINGS, 1732-1800. Chapter 2
covers the Indian cessions. This chapter mentions that when the
Mississippi Territory was ceded to the United States in 1802, the
Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes claimed the area that became Madison
County, Alabama with the greater part being claimed by the Chickasaws.
In 1807 the Chickasaws relinquished most of the territory they claimed.
About the same time the Cherokees ceded to the U.S. all claim they
had to all the territory north of the Tennessee and WEST of what became
the eastern boundary of Madison County. Judge Taylor's manuscript
included a detailed description of the original eastern boundary of
Madison County, Mississippi Territory.
Chapter 3 is entitled FIRST SETTLERS in the COUNTY. Chapter 4 is
entitled SETTLEMENTS BY PIONEERS, 1805 to 1809. Chapter 5 covers
Chapter 6 is entitled SURVEY AND SALE OF PUBLIC LANDS in 1809. This
chapter's first sentence reads: "In the year 1807 the general surveyor
for Mississippi territory was authorized to contract for the survey of
public lands in his jurisdiction to which the Indian title had been
extinguished." Then Judge Taylor stated: "The survey of old Madison
was the first land surveyed in North Alabama. The survey was reported
to the (U.S.) Land Office in the month of May 1809, and the lands were
offered for sale in August of the same year."
Chapter 9 is entitled SETTLERS IN THE YEAR 1809. Chapter 8 and Chapter
9 cover the founding of Huntsville and the early settlers in Huntsville.
Chapter 12 is entitled TENNESSEE VALLEY FROM 1818 to 1820.
Throughout the book, Judge Taylor mentioned areas now in Jackson County,
Alabama, including (but not limited to) old Decatur County, Woodville,
Bellefonte, the first attempt at "taming" the Paint Rock River, the Cole
and Clay plantations in Jackson County, AND the first sale of government
lands in Jackson County in 1830. He also touches on some families who
were among the early settlers in Madison County, Mississippi Territory,
who moved to Jackson County after Jackson County was established in
December 1819. I might add here that after government land was first
offered for sale in Jackson County in June 1830, even more former
Madison County residents moved to Jackson County when they were sure
they could obtain a clear title to their land.
Ann B. Chambless
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