HISTORY OF EUFAULA, ALABAMA,
THE BLUFF CITY OF THE CHATTAHOOCHEE
By J. A. B. Besson-1875
Atlanta, Georgia; Franklin Steam Printing House-Jas. P. Harrison & Co., Printers. 1875
This little volume is offered to the public, not as a work of literary merit, but simply as a true and plain statement of facts, connected with the origin, vicissitudes and developments of this city, of which it is a faithful history. And as showing its present status in regard to business, social advantages, pleasant surroundings, and its future prospects.
Hoping, that while some may be interested with the narrative, others may be induced to cast their lot with us: and like the aborigines, who, when they came to this State, and saw for themselves its real loveliness and beauty, exclaimed: “Alabama! Here we rest.”
Eufaula, Sept. 1, 1875.
On the west bank of the Chattahoochee river rises a bluff, one hundred and fifty fee above low water mark, and from its summit, looking south, you see the waters flowing towards Apalachicola Bay, where they empty into the Gulf of Mexico, two hundred and five miles distant, and where the city of Apalachicola is situated.
As you look towards the east you behold the river running towards you; (as you are standing on the bank of the stream where it makes a sudden turn from east to south.) Seventy-five miles north of this point is the head of navigation, where is situated the beautiful city of Columbus, Georgia. On the other side of the river is the State of Georgia, the stream forming the boundary between it and the State of Alabama. The country over which your eye wanders is a magnificent savannah of hundreds of acres, stretching far to the east and southeast.
Names of Indian Tribes and Their Homes—1825.
Here on this bluff dwelt several tribes of Indians. One tribe was known as the “Actahoochees;” one as the “Uchees,” and one as the “Eufaulas,” and from the last named tribe the town took its name. Each tribe spoke a different dialect. These tribes of Indians practiced polygamy, and had little or no religion. They had many rogues among them, but their chiefs were honest and honorable men. The name of the principal chief was “Tustenuggee;” there was, also, Paddy Carr, Steadman, and Jim Henr, who were noted men.
The United States Government had defined the boundaries of the Indian territory, and this was known as the
Creek Nation. Here the General Government guaranteed them the enjoyment and peaceful possession of their original rights. But they were not thus to be let alone, for the white man came among them and induced them, by fair promises, to allow them to farm the lands. It was not long before these white men began to trespass on the possessions of the Indians, forcing them even, in many instances, to leave some of their clearings; and it was only a short time before a bitter feeling sprang up between them.
The Intruder’s War—1827.
The Indians felt that the white man was an intruder upon them, and by the advice of some few white men, who were in sympathy with the Indians, an appeal was made to the General Government, at Washington, for their protection and redress. Soon, United States troops were sent out; who at once ordered the white people out of the nation, and destroyed their growing crops, and burned a house belonging to a white man named Pugh; this occurred in the month of July, 1827, and was known as the “Intruders War.”
The White People Return to the Nation.
The white people did not go far off, but kept out of the
way of the troops; and as soon as the treaty was ar-
ranged, by which the government allowed the white men
to buy claims from the Indians, they all came back, and
at once perfected such arrangements as best suited them.
The First White Man that Built a House.
The first white settler that built a house here was Carson Winslett; and soon after, Mr. F. W. Pugh, Moses Packer, Aaron Packer, Durham Lee, Lochlin McLean, James Gorman, Churchill Gorman, and others, moved in.
The First Store.
The first store was set up by a man named–Allen, who had, as a partner, Hon. William Irwin, who furnished
the capital to trade on, and who lived in Henry county, below, on the river.
The Name of the Town Changed to Irwinton.
The Indian name of the village was changed, and the name of Irwinton was given to the place, in honor of Hon. Wm. Irwin, who was a State Senator, representing Henry and Pike counties, in consequence of using his influence in the Legislature to make the place a landing for steamboats for the benefit of the people of this section of country.
Public Sale of Land and Town Lots.
That portion of the town, which is now east of Orange street, was bought by a company from Columbus, Georgia. Hon. Alfred Iverson was one of the company. The lands lying west of Orange street were bought by General William Wellborn, Seth Love, John M. Moore and Alexander Robertson. Soon after, Wellborn & Co. bought lands they had a few blocks run off into lots and put up at public sale, and what is now known as Bray & Bros, corner, was bid off to Green Beauchamp and B. V. Iverson, of Columbus. The next lot sold was what is now occupied by John McNab’s bank, and was bought by Mr. Wm. A. McKenzie. Other sales occurred, but to parties whose names are now forgotten.
The Country Full of Indians Yet—1835.
Thus began the settlement of Irwinton; and in the year 1835 Irwinton was yet a very small village, having but a few white inhabitants. The surrounding country was full of Indians, who lived in all their aboriginal simplicity, hunting game, of which there was an abundance; also, fishing, making baskets of reeds, and also blow guns of the same material.
Indian Blow Guns.
These were made of reeds about half an inch or more in diameter, and about five or six feet in length; the joints of the reed were carefully bored out, the whole interior of
the gun was, by some ingenious process, made perfectly smooth and straight as a line. An arrow was then constructed of hard pine, and twisted like an augur, one end was very sharply pointed, and the other end was feathered with thistle down and made round, so that it would exactly fill the bore of the gun and offer as little resistance as possible. The arrow being placed in the gun, and then applying the gun to the mouth and giving a smart, quick, blow, they could, with the greatest precision, kill a bird or squirrel in the loftiest tree. They also made various articles of bead work and buckskin for hunting pouches, and moccasins for their feet.
Morals and Religion of the Indian.
In morals they were as degraded as it is possible to conceive, and in their religious beliefs not much better. They, however, believed in some Great Spirit, but they had no forms of worship.
The Green Corn Dance and the Black Drink.
The only thing approaching to a religious rite was their Green Corn Dance and taking the Black Drink, which occurred at different periods of the year, and which events were looked for with much interest and anxiety, and required a great amount of preparation, both as to the ground upon which it should be executed, and also of the persons who were to engage in them.
The Green Corn Dance took place as soon as the corn was ripe enough to eat—when it was plucked and brought to the ground and cooked in large pots until it was very soft, and when done was called ” sofkee” The men would all gather around and eat it with a wooden spoon—all using the same spoon. The chief presided over the festivities, sitting in the center of a circle, and after the Indians had partaken of the sofkee, they would throw off their gown, and were then demi-nude; they then took a small board about three inches wide and about four inches long, which was thickly set with iron points, and with this
instrument would rake and tear the flesh on their arms, legs and breasts, and sometimes even their faces, and then in that bloody plight they would, in wild fury and gesticulating, and with songs, dance around the ground. Every male engaged in this ceremony, and even boys of sixteen and seventeen years of age. These orgies lasted three and four days.
Another ceremony was, taking the Black Drink, which was celebrated in the spring of the year, the same as the Green Corn Dance; instead of tearing the flesh, they partook of the nauseating drink, which was composed of some peculiar roots and herbs, making a decoction as black as ink, and which vomited them most terribly, and, for a short time, made them very sick.
The Indian, Unprincipled and Not Brave.
In principle they were treacherous and untrustworthy, and not so brave as cunning, and given to stratagem. The town during the day was always overrun with these dusky red men of the forest, lying around idly passing their time away. When employed by the white men (as sometimes they were) in helping cultivate patches of corn, they proved good workers, but had to be constantly watched to prevent them from stealing, and also from running away. Those who came to town were usually accompanied by their squaws, who brought with them the results of their own industries, and sold them to the traders for calico and bell buttons.
Bell Buttons and Bad Habits.
These were a small button about the size of a hazel nut or filbert, and made like a sleigh bell; they bought these to sew on their garments, which were decorated with hundreds of them, and when the wearer was in motion, gave a pleasing jingling sound, which they very greatly admired. Oftimes, however, most of their money was spent for mean whisky—and when night come on, and they were ready to go home, they left town in companies;
one sober one holding and leading a drunken one, all of them singing some of their rude airs, which were generally more boisterous than musical.
Hotels, Stores and Dwellings of Logs.
There were but few stores in the town, and not many dwellings, all of them were constructed of rough logs. Up to the winter of 1834 there was not a frame building in the place. There were two public houses; one of them was built of hewed logs, and was called the crack hotel of the village—the landlord’s name was Slatter. The other house, a less pretentious one, was constructed of rough round logs, and was known as Morgan’s hotel.
Chaotic State of Society.
Many were the adventurers who visited the village, and many settled themselves here. This naturally brought all kinds of people together, and many of them not of the best character; hence, lawlessness, drunkenness and immorality ruled the hour.
Bowie Knives, Pistols and Fighting.
A great many of the male inhabitants carried pistols and bowie knives, made almost imperative for self-protection, and upon almost any provication were ready to make free use of them. Many were the fights and bloody rencounters that were witnessed on the streets of Irwinton. But there were a few good men who, true to every manly instinct, with courage undaunted, stood up like polished “marble shafts” amid all the moral corruption that surrounded them, and by their efforts and examples (and as population increased) open wickedness was toned down; bad men and their evil practices began to be overcome and order took the place of confusion ; crime was arrested and punished by the strong arm of law—then Irwinton began her career of progress.
The First Saw Mill—1835.
It was now about the summer of ’35 when a saw mill
was erected on the Chewalla creek, about one mile from town, on the Columbus road; facilities were, thereby, secured for building better houses, which was duly improved. The mill was owned by Mr. John M. Moore.
New Buildings Being Built.
Several new store houses were built, and also a two-story hotel, which was called the Irwinton Hotel, and kept by a Mr. Birch. Next door to this building was the then imposing two-story building, owned and occupied by Capt. John M. Moore and Mr. J. G. L. Martin, as a drinking and eating establishment; the upper rooms being used as a billiard saloon and ballroom, and known as “Social Hall.” It was an immensely popular resort.
In those days the dance was the only pastime in which ladies and gentlemen indulged together, so the building of Social Hall was hailed with delight by the ladies, of whom there were a good many in the town and surrounding country.
The gentlemen, when to themselves, very freely patronized the gaming table and the horse races; the latter was held in the streets of the town, and inasmuch as the clearing did not extend far, the principal street had to be used, and all business was generally suspended to witness the races. But a year or two after this a splendid course was constructed, about four miles from town, at a cost of ten thousand dollars, and the turf was liberally patronized for many years, but finally neglected, and now, not a vestige of it remains.
Some Few Men Trying to Make Money.
While some were indulging in pleasure and dissipation, many others were laying the foundation of their fortune and independence, and helping to develope the rich and fertile land surrounding Irwinton.
Cultivation of Cotton—1835.
The cultivation of the cotton plant was already claiming
considerable attention, and a few bales, packed in round bags from six to eight feet long, and tied at the four corners in knots, for convenience of handling, weighing about three hundred and fifty pounds, were received at Irwinton, as this was the only point of shipment to market, and was growing daily in commercial importance.
The First Church and School Established.
About this time, also, a small school was begun in a little log cabin, and taught by a Miss Perry. Not long after a Methodist church was organized by a circuit rider by the name of M. C. Turrentine, (who is yet an active old man and a worthy minister,) a suitable frame house was erected, which was the first house of worship built in Irwinton, (the same building is yet standing.) Population increased rapidly, and by the spring of 1836, the town numbered not less than five hundred inhabitants. About the Fall of ’35 another school was commenced, and the first male teacher in the place was named John N. McRae, who held his school in the Methodist church, and was himself a preacher.
Mode of Travel and Mails—1836.
The means of communication and travel began to multiply and improve. Four and six-horse coaches were run between this place and Columbus, Georgia, two and three times a week, a distance of fifty miles; also, a line of stages were established to Montgomery, Alabama, a distance of ninety miles, and, also, to Fort Gaines, Georgia, Tallahassee, Florida, and other points. Mails were received from New York city in ten or twelve days.
Steamboats and barges plyed up and down the Chattahoochee river constantly, and thereby communication was had with the only seaport of all this part of the country. It was only by that route the merchants could receive their supplies from New York, and which generrally occupied about thirty days in transit, and it was often thought fortunate if goods were received even in sixty days after they
were purchased. Communication was also had with New Orleans by this route, and nearly all the groceries were bought from that market.
Beginning of Indian Troubles.
Matters were going on smoothly; the people were all prospering and gradually developing the wealth of the country; but some, in their eagerness for gains, attempted, and, in many instances, did, defraud the Red Man out of his rightful inheritance; and they began to get uneasy and jealous at the encroachments of the pale faces, and, in their sober moments, reflecting on the frauds so often perpetrated on them by bad men, who had made them drunk when trading for their lands, that they might the more easily be cheated out of their possessions.
The Indians Commence Hostilities.
The Indians now declare “war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt,” against the white man; and soon the forrest echoes around Irwinton were awakened by the savage war-whoop,—a cry which, if once heard, will remain ineffaceably stamped upon the memory, and which none can utter like an infuriated savage.
The White Men “Fly to Arms and Organize.”
It was not many days before every man was under arms.
Three companies were at once organized and fully equiped, two companies of infantry and one of cavalry, the infantry respectively commanded by Capt. Ben. Watson and Capt. John L. Hunter, and the cavalry by Capt. John M. Moore. Also, the entire militia of the county was called out and placed on a war footing for immediate service.
An Alarm, and Building a Stockade.
One day, in the early spring of 1836, the intelligence was brought to town that the Indians were advancing in large numbers on the place; whereupon the bells were rung and the drums beat, and the people assembled; and it was
determined at once to bnild a work of defence, and immediately everybody went to work to build a stockade fort. The pine trees being ready on the spot selected for the works, they were cut down and cut in lengths of about fifteen feet and split in halves, and set up on end, in a trench dug about three feet deep, and thus firmly planted. Loop holes were cut between the logs, through which to fire at the enemy. In the center of the enclosure therem was built a square pen of logs, closely notched together, for the purpose of an additional security for women and children and the helpless; also, in which to keep supplies and ammunition, and to be used as a dernier resort in the event of being driven from the fort. The construction of this work of defence was a lively scene. Everybody worked with a will; and so, by nightfall, the work was completed, and the women and children and all necessary supplies for a siege were duly placed within the enclosure. Fortunately, the Indians never came, and the place was never attacked.
On one dark, rainy and dismal night, during the occupancy of the fort, it was feard an attack might be made under cover of the darkness; hence the guards were largely increased, and the bravest men put on duty, nnmbering about thirty or forty. A good part of the night had already passed without alarm, when, all at once, a tremendous yelling was heard north of the fort, towards the Chewalla Creek, and an attack was believed to be imminent. No lights being permitted in the fort, all was as dark as darkness could be; but the commanding officer satisfied himself that every man was at his post, and all awaited with bated breath the attack. The yells came nearer and nearer, and soon the tramp of horses and men was heard; and as the gray dawn began to reveal objects in the distance, there was seen Capt. John M. Moore’s cavalry company approaching, and on reaching the fort and being
admitted, the disclosure was made that many of the guards had deserted their posts in the darkness, and had, unobserved climbed over into the inner fort among the women and children, even leaving their guns behind them; and also the commanding officer thought discretion the better part of valor, and, as an additional security, had made the same retreat, and hid by the sugar barrel. The cause of the alarm was given by the company who had been out on a scout, and in returning thought they would try the garrison, which resulted as related. After this, the companies left the stockade and went in search of the Indians, and had many skirmishes with them, but never found them in large bodies.
Business all suspended.
During all this time business was suspended, schools were closed, traveling was extremely dangerous, and so Irwinton received a terrible chock to her advancement, and a feeling of gloom and despondency settled over her people.
The Indian War Over.
In a few, but long and weary months of dread and fear, the war was over. The Red Men had all been driven out of the country, and finally the United States Government transported to the Indian Territory all who surrendered themselves, (where they now are), and again “white-winged peace brooded over the land.”
The First Newspaper, 1837.
It was now 1837, and new settlers began to pour in from all directions, and new enterprises were originated, among them, the first newspaper, a weekly, was commenced, bearing the title of “The Irwinton Herald.” It was owned and edited by Mr. W. G. M. Davis, and printed by Mr. Jack Hardman. The latter gentleman is now dead, but the former is yet living, and an honored citizen of the State of Florida, and was a Major-General in the late war. The paper was not popular, and was soon discontinued, the office passing into the hands of Mr. John Currie and Gen.
John P. Booth, who resumed its publication under the management of two practical printers, Mr. William Hudson and Mr. John Bosworth. The paper was published in the interest of the Union Party, and became very popular.
New Buildings, Churches, and Schools.
By this time the business of the Town had largely increased, new streets had been laid out, several fine residences had been erected on the bluff overlooking the river, the pine forest was being rapidly felled around the Town. A Baptist Church was organized, and a neat and commodious house of worship was erected ; also the Presbyterians organized and built a neat house; and, also, the Methodists built a new house, better suited to their increasing necessities. A new Academy was built and titled “The Irwinton Literary Institute,” under the charge and control of a splendid gentleman and fine teacher, Mr. A. K. Merrill, assisted by a Mr. Goldthwaite. It was a flourishing institution, at one time numbering 150 pupils of both sexes.
The Irwinton Bridge Bank.
A Bank was organized and chartered, styled the “Irwin ton Bridge Bank” and, just previous to that, a fine covered bridge, spanning the Chattahoochee, was built by the town, at a cost of twenty thousand dollars, which was a large enterprise for those days.
New Brick Stores Erected, and Patriotism.
Brick stores began to be built in the place of frame buildings. Two fine Liberty Poles were planted at each end of the principal street, and from them, on the Fourth of July and Washington’s Birthday, the 22d of February, was seen, proudly floating, the emblem of the Nation’s glory—”The star-spangled banner, long may it wave O’er the laud of the free, and the home of the brave.”
The year 1837 was one of financial depression, and business suffered much, and many Irwinton merchants were
nearly ruined; the value of real estate was greatly reduced, and many who had speculated in that kind of property lost heavily. Agricultural Interest. The agricultural interest of the country around Irwinton was constantly increased by immigration. Rich planters, with their slaves, sought the fertile lands, on the creeks and the river, in its immediate vicinity, and, for the convenience of their families, and to educate their sons and daughters, lived in town, building for themselves convenient and handsome residences.
Cotton Culture Increasing—1839.
Cotton began to be a considerable item of export, and, by the year 1836, not less than five thousand bales were shipped from this point to Apalachicola, for New York, Liverpool, and other markets. Also, the country produced all the meat and corn necessary for the demands of the people, and everybody was independent; there were no beggars, and loafers were unknown.
It was during this year that the newspaper of the Town was again compelled to change proprietorship, and was purchased by Dr. Levi T. Wellborn, who changed its name from “The Herald” to “The Nepenthes,” its name being somewhat curious and novel; its proprietor a man of indomitable energy and determination; the paper was well received, and bid fair to prove a success. The printer who managed its publication was named Richard Mooney. The paper, however, had but a brief existence, the Doctor soon finding there was no money to be made in the business, and in addition to that, his failing health, and the great difficulty in getting reliable printers to do the work, he sold out the office to Messrs. McMurray, Ticknor & Arnold, who at once unfurled to the breeze of public opinion
“The Champion of Democracy”—1840.
Mr. McMurray was the printer who controlled the median-
ical part of the paper, and Mr. Ticknor acted as editor. The former gentleman has long been dead, but the latter is now living in a large town of this State, and is an honored and worthy clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
The Presidential Campaign—1840.
The paper continued its issues until after the election of Gen. William Henry Harrison, President of the United States, which it most bitterly opposed in well written articles from the pen of its able young editor. There were maay humorous caricatures, that appeared in its columns, made on wood, by a gentleman of the Town; such as a picture of a log-cabin set up on triggers, baited with a hard-cider barrel; and also of Gen. Harrison as the hero of Chillicothe, receiving from the hands of the ladies of that village a red-flannel petticoat for his valor, etc., etc.
A Thespian Corps.
A Thespian Corps was organized for the amusement of the people, composed of the young men of Irwinton, and for many months was quite a success, and developed some fine histrionic talent.
John Gill Shorter and Others.
Also, at this period began the legal profession of John Gill Shorter, who became eminent as a jurist, and afterwards was elected Governor of the State of Alabama. George L. Barry, who was Judge of the Circuit Court, and Sterling G. Cato, who for many years was a Judge in Kansas, and also many others who rose to more or less distinction.
Four Years after the Indian War.
Four years after the Indian war, Irwinton had made due progress, and presented the most gratifying evidences of thrift, and a good degree of wealth and refinement. Many of her citizens kept their neat carriages and fine horses; and those who were rich were so in fact, owning lands of virgin soil of great fertility, and slaves who did all
the work contentedly and happy. The product of the plantation satisfied all their wants, so far as the inner man was concerned, and the sale of the cotton crop gave them ample means for all else that was necessary; and, besides, they always had to spare, hence when the occasion presented itself, they dispensed their hospitality in a princely style. As their wealth increased, their sons and daughters were sent to the then great centers of education and learning, Yale College, Bridgeport, Princeton, and other places.
Happy Days of Progress.
The summer tour through the Northern States was adopted about this time, and thousands and tens of thousands of dollars were expended annually to aid in enriching the people of the North. Thus the years passed on in quietness and prosperity, and nothing troubled the people of this section. All kinds of enterprises flourished, and Irwinton gradually advanced in importance, and soon became a commercial town, forming the center of a large planting district of a circle of seventy-five miles around. She had come out of the fire of war and desolation and moral corruption. The bad men who had hung as an incubus about her in her early days had departed for that (then the rougue’s) paradise, Texas; yet there were many old legal feuds to settle and adjust.
An Opportunity for Men of Genius.
Litigations were not few. This, however, only helped to develop men of mind and ability, who, probably but for these causes, would have remained “unknown to fortune and to fame;” and in after years we find such men as Hon. Eli S. Shorter occupying and filling with distinguished ability a seat in the United States Congres; and aiso L. L. Cato, Esq., a lawyer of distinguished ability; and the Hon. James L. Pugh, who, to-day, is the Patrick Henry of Alabama; and many others who deserve a niche in the Temple of Fame. In this connection, we would particu-
larly mention General Alpheus Baker, the eagle orator of Alabama, and now the Hon. Judge of the City Court of Eufaula.
Mercantile and Financial Successes.
The mercantile interest had, up to this time, kept pace with the material progress of Irwinton, and many large stocks of goods were offered to supply the needs of the people of the country. A Mr. S. S. Walkley here laid the foundation of a handsome fortune, which he is now enjoying, in a green old age, in the city of Philadelphia. Mr. Edward B. Young, also, who is a banker, of this city, and also, Mr. John McNab, who is the heaviest financial man in this section, and through whose hands the largest portion of the money passes that moves the cotton crop of this part of the country. Many others have gained moderate wealth, and succeeded in surrounding themselves with comfortable livings.
The Name of “Irwinton” Changed Back to “Eufaula”—1842.
In the year 1842 it was determined to change the name of Irwinton, because there was a town of similar name in the adjoining State of Georgia, and letters and packages intended for this place would often be sent there, and vice versa, which was a source of considerable vexation and annoyance to the business men. On one occasion, Mr. E. B. Young, having had a package of money missent to Irwinton, Ga., determined to take the matter in hand, and set about getting up a petition to the Legislature, asking that the change be made. He carried the petition around and obtained the signature thereto of every man in Irwinton but one. The petition was forwarded to Gen. William Wellborn, then representing the county in the Legislature, and the General, who had some old grudge against Gen. Irwin, was glad enough to get the name changed that helped to perpetuate the memory of a man for whom the people had as little sympathy as the General himself. It was duly presented and granted, and so the beautiful
embryo city was re-baptized into its original and beautiful Indian name, ” Eufaula.”
“The Southern Shield”—1841.
The last newspaper, “The Champion of Democracy,” had ceased its issues and its office was closed and the press carried away, and the town had been without a paper some time, when Mr. Benjamin Gardiner commenced the publication of “The Southern Shield,” which was devoted to the interests of the Whig Party. It had for its motto: “The Cradle of Science, the Nurse of Genius, and the Shield of Liberty;” but, not advocating the popular side of Southern politics, it was never a success. It was, however, the only medium of the current news of the day, and many subscribed for it who were not in sympathy with its political opinions.
But, in the year 1845, on the 25th day of June, another journal was commenced, published by Mr. John Black, and edited by Edward C. Bullock, Esq., a young man of most extraordinary ability, and a gifted writer. It was not long before “The Democrat” was the popular paper of the town of Eufaula, and had a successful career.
“The Spirit of the South “—1850.
In the year 1850, when sectional politics began to be agitated, and the muttering thunder of the approaching political storm was heard in the distance, the name of ” Democrat” was changed to “The Spirit of the South,” and fearlessly advocated those measures, which it never for a moment forsook, until the final abitrament of the sword decided the contest. Then its name was changed, and it now lives under the name of “The Tri-Weekly News.” Its first publisher, Mr. John Black, has been dead several years; but his mantle has fallen upon the shoulders of his worthy son, who now both edits and publishes the paper.
Agriculture and Value of Ptoperty—1858.
During the intervening time, between 1843 and 1860, the town and county continued to improve, and especially the agricultural interest. The cotton crop was continually growing larger every year. Many planters were moving into the county, and by the year 1858, Barbour county had within its limits 12,000 slaves, valued at $8,000,000, and 525,000 acres of land, valued at $8.00 per acre, making $4,200,00, and town lots, valued at $550,000—making a grand total of wealth amounting to $12,770,000. The prosperity of the county continued until the late civil war, when all industries were paralyzed and the accumulation of years of patient toil-were swept away in an hour, and yet. Eufaula was spared that destruction which was ruthlessly visited upon many of her sister towns and cities.
Federal Cavalry Under Gen. Grierson.
The Federal cavalry passed through the streets of Eufaula in the spring of 1865, but just at the moment when the armistice was declared, and General Grierson, at the head of four thousand cavalry, arrived only in time to enter in peace, and after a few days of inoffensive sojourn, departed quietly.
Population of Eufaula, and Business.
Today the Bluff City (as it is appropriately called,) numbers about 5,000 inhabitants; ships about 30,000 bales of cotton per annum, valued at $1,800,000, and the general business of the city exceeds $4,000,000 a year. The present assessed value of real estate is ($1,000,000) one million dollars.
Stores, Public Buildings, Churches and Dwellings.
There are over fifty brick stores in the city, besides three handsome drug stores, one carriage factory and many small shops; a handsome opera house, built at a cost of nearly $60,000; Hart’s Hall, the largest and finest dancing saloon in the State, and under which there are six
elegant stores. The Baptists have a superb church edifice, costing $40,000; also the Methodists have a beautiful building (one of the handsomest in the city) erected at a cost of $15,000. The Presbyterians have, also, a very fine house, costing $25,000. The Episcopalians and Roman Catholics each have neat but small houses; the former, however, propose at an early day to erect a church more suitable to their growing necessities. The Jews, having purchased the old Methodist Church building, have re-fashioned it, and, at considerable expense, have now a beautiful synagogue which reflects much credit upon their good taste and liberality, and is an ornament to the city. The Female College is most beautifully located on a high hill overlooking the city, and is a very tasteful building, costing $10,000. Many handsome private residences, costing from five to twenty thousand dollars, are dotted all over the city. The streets of the city are very broad and cross each other at right angles with perfect regularity. The forest has long since receded to the dim distance, and now no one would ever believe that the present site of this beautiful inland city was once a dense forest of pines, and that only forty years ago the savage Indians here dwelt, and hunted his game, and woke the echoes of the hills with his yells.
Railroad Facilities To-Day.
Evidences of progress are to be seen in the railroad facilities at hand. The Montgomery and Eufaula Railroad, connecting here by rapid transit with all the South and West, Northwest and East. The Southwestern Railroad of Georgia, (which here crosses the Chattahoochee river on a splendid covered bridge, eighty feet high and 900 feet in length, costing $100,000,) gives her communication with the North and East, and the Brunswick and Vicksburg Railroad, extending now as far as twenty miles west, to the town of Clayton—the county site—but which will ultimately be built as far as Greenville, Alabama, and thus
placing Eufaula but a very few hours from New Orleans. The first train of cars that ran within the corporate limits of Eufaula was in 1865. The terminus of the Southwestern Railroad was on the other side of the river for many months before the bridge crossing the river was completed.
Cotton Speculating Mania.
Since the late war, fortunes have been made and lost in Eufaula. Cotton speculating has been the bane of many a good man, who has fallen a prey to its seductive charms, and up to this time there is not a man who has derived any permanent advantage from that kind of investment, yet others are constantly and as eagerly trying the same experiment over again.
Building and Loan Association, and the People’s Saving and Loan Association.
A Building and Loan Association has been organized in this city, and is in successful progress, and has assisted many a poor man to provide for himself and family a home which he otherwise would not have had. A Savings and Loan Association was also founded a few months ago, and now have already accumulated a cash capital of $100,000, and are now doing a regular banking business.
“The Bluff City Times,”
Edited by R. D. Shropshire, Esq., is as spicy a little sheet as can be found in the land. Mr. Shropshire is a good writer and of large experience. The two papers of the city being published on alternate days, the citizens have the same advantages a daily would afford, jvith much more variety.
Debts and Credits.
A new order of things is now being inaugurated in the way of debts and credits, and business is being conducted on a cash basis, and the future looks more encouraging.
Water Power and Climate of Eufaula.
When the great natural resources in water power for
running mills and cotton factories shall be utilized that are now lying idle in easy reach of Eufaula, she will be made one of the finest manufacturing centers in the whole South. Her climate is salubrious, and does not require acclimatizing for Northern or Western people to live here comfortably and healthfully all the year around. No one ever visits her hospitable people who do not feel glad they have made them a visit and would be pleased to make it their home.
A Hero of San Jacinto.
This little city has been, and now is, the home of quite a number of public men, whose names in the State are as familiar as household words, and also, of some who, less eager for the world’s applause, have lived and died in retirement; and prominent among them is Col. Dougald McLean, who was a soldier in the Texan war of 1836. He held a first lieutenant’s commission in Captain Wardsworth’s company of Col. Fannin’s regiment from Georgia, and participated in the ever-memorable battle of San Jacinto, which was fought under General Sam. Houston, on the 21st day of April, 1836, and determined the fate of Texas, so gloriously achieving her independence. Lieutenant McLean’s sword is now in the possession of his family, and also, a shot-gun, called an “Escopet,” and a pair of Mexican cuffs — the latter he took from the body of one of the men he killed in battle. The name of the Mexican is embroidered in black silk on the inside of the cuffs, and reveals the name of “L. Arollo.” Col. McLean (who was afterwards made a Colonel of the militia), during his life time, on each recurring anniversary, fired a salute of one gun in honor of the battle of San Jacinto, and on the last occasion was on his dying bed, but, faithful to the pledge he had made to himself, had his attendants carry him in a chair to the gun, and applied the match with his own hand. On the 13th day of the following May, 1859, he ended his mortal life, and was buried with military
honors, and three salutes were fired over his grave, one in honor of General Houston, he so much loved and honored ; one in honor of the great battle of which he was a hero, and last as a tribute to his memory.
Having endeavored, with all the information we could obtain from eye witnesses of past and personal experiences, to give you a full and truthful account of the origin of Eufaula, and some of the leading events in its history, we now bid you adieu and hopefully look forward to the future, when our children shall write yet more pleasing reminiscences of this now beautiful city.
END OF PART FIRST.