Jacksonville Alabama by Smith & DeLand
Jacksonville, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is located half-way between Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia, providing easy access to major urban areas. Historic churches, restored homes, and the unique “public square” help maintain the charm and grace of peaceful, small-town life.
Source: Northern Alabama, historical and biographical by Smith & DeLand 1888
The town of Jacksonville is situated on the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroard, and has a population of from twelve to fifteen hundred people. It was settled in the very earliest history of the county, and while the Indians were still resident here. The county records were destroyed in 1864 by the raid of Federal troops that came through on their way South, and only left one book, which has in it the map of the old town. This book shows the town was laid off in 1833. The county was then named Benton; the earliest settlers were composed of emigrants from the States of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, the lineal descendants of whom comprise a large jiart of its present popu- lation. Its early settlers were, some of them, men of large means and lived in elegance and ease, and gave to the town, in its former days, its wide distinction for social hospitality, benevolence and Christian charity which it still holds.
The town is situated on the foothills of the Blue Ridge, and is surrounded by beautiful valleys on all sides; the scenery is lovely, and the vision never tires in looking on the mountains and the undulating valleys that go out in all directions. It has a jierfect system of natural drainage, all water flowing rapidly into large streams that run along near the town. There is a large and bold limestone spring that flows from the foot of the hill on which the town is situated, and affords more than a million gallons of pure, fresh water per day. In addition to this there is a system of water works, owned and controlled by the town, which cost several thousand dollars, and brings, through large iron pipes a great quantity of water from a freestone spring that rises in the mountain some two miles east of the city. The natural pressure of this water in the pipes, from its eleva- tion above the town, will throw the water over the highest buildings, and is an excellent jirotection against fire.
Jacksonville was the county seat of Benton County, and was established as such on the organization of the county. AVlien the name of the county was changed to Calhoun, which it now bears, it still remained the county seat, and is to this day the capital of one of the wealthiest and most progressive counties in the State. Its first court house was built of brick, in 1838, and has stood in the middle of the public square for fifty years until a few days ago, when it was torn down, the county having erected, two years ago, a large and more modern and convenient structure, and one more in keeping with the needs and progress of the county.
The East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Rail- road passes within the corijorate limits of the town. The East & West Railroad of Alabama, which is at present a narrow-gauge railroad, leading from Oedartown, Ga. to the coal fields of St. Clair County, passes within about one mile of the cor- porate limits, and negotiations have been pending for the introduction of the road into the town. There is a road partly graded between this place and Gadsden, Ala., and known as the Jackson- ville, Gadsden & Atalla Railroad. There has been a road surveyed by the Georgia Central re- cently, through the town, contemplating the construction of a road from Carrollton, Ga., via Jacksonville, to Decatur, Ala. There is also a mineral railroad from this place to Anniston, twelve miles south, in contemplation.
For many years the bar at Jacksonville ranked along with the highest in the State, and has fur- nished a number of very prominent judges, chan- cellors, legislators and members of Congress; one of whom, A. J. Walker, was a member of the Supreme Court of Alabama, and was at one time Chief-Justice. The medical profession have had a number who were distinguished in their line. The most of the older members of this pro- fession have recently passed away, and their places have been filled by younger men, who are achieving distinction in their calling.
The .Jacksonville Republican is a staunch Democratic journal, and was established here fifty-one years ago. It has always been one of the leading weekly papers in the State. Almost from its foiUHiation it was edited by the late J. F. Grant, wlio was at one time Treasurer of the State, and after his death the editorial management fell upon Hon. r,. W. Grant, wiio is liis son and who has given much character to it throughout tlie State for its sound principles and its able editorials. It is held in liigh esteem by tlie people of the county, and is a familiar visitant to almost every fireside.
Tiiere are Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal, Bai)tist and Episcopal chnrclies in the town, and tliere are Lutheran and Catholic congregations in the place that are visited regularly by ministers of tlieir faith, but tliey have no organized chnrclies as yet.
Tlie chief pride of the town is tlie State Normal School, situated here, which is doing a valuable work in turning out enthusiastic teachers, whose intluence will soon be felt throughout this entire section of the State. It has the aid and encour- agement of the entire community, and connected with it is a high-school of the very first class, which has an attendance of from two to three hundred pupils.
The disasters of the war left the people of the town impoverished, and quite a number of its dis- tinguished and public spirited citizens fell vic- tims to what they deemed the cause of their coun- try in the late contest — some on the field of battle, and some succumbed to the fatal maladies that are incident to a soldier’s life. On account of these depressing influences the town has not stepped forth in the nnirch of industrial progress as rap- idly as has been the wish of its public-spirited citi- zens. With the recent outburst of improvement, and the ui)heaval of the industrial energy through- out the mineral district of North Alabama, Jack- sonville has kept pace, and has put on the garb of imi)rovement, and taking advantage of the rich and exhaustless mineral wealth that lies imbedded in the hills in the town and in the immediate vicinity, a number of men from other cities, who have abundant faith in the final outcome of this entire section, and a number of resident citizens here, about a year ago organized a corporation known as the Jacksonville Land Company. This company acquired by purchase about twelve thousand acres of valualjle land lying in the cor- porate limits, suitable for business lots and for j)laces for dwellings, and of valuable iron and timber lands adjacent to the town. Some months ago tlie entire property of the Jacksonville Land Company was sold to the Jacksonville Mining and Manufacturing Company, another corpor- ation, with a capital stock of *l,5(iO,0(iO. This new company has recently purchased about one thousand acres of valuable land in the corporate limits of the town, for which they paid a large sum, and now have a corps of engineers in the field laying off their property into town lots, with a view of putting a limited amount of them on the market. It is the purpose of the company to build up a model and thriving industrial and man- ufacturing town, and to do it they have abundant means in the nnignificent resources of their prop- erty. Negotiations are now pending, with every prospect of a speedy settlement, for the establish- ment here of two or three industries that are new for the South, and will be of the greatest im- portance to the upbuilding of the county* and town.
On account of its elevation above the sea, Jack- sonville is a place of refuge in the hot summer months for the j^eople in the cities south of us, and its mild winters are a temptation to the i)eople of more arctic regions to come and dwell with us. To accommodate this class of people a large hotel, with all modern conveniences, which is to be ele- gantly furnished, is now in process of erection, and will cost from twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars.
The spirit of progress is among our people, and all things point to the coming future, which is near at hand, when .Jacksonville will be known and called ” The Queen of the South,”