Blakeley is a ghost town in Baldwin County, Alabama. During the height of its existence, Blakeley was a thriving town which flourished as a competitor to its western neighbor, Mobile, Alabama. It was the location of a major fort during the Civil War. One of the last battles of the civil war was fought here as Union soldiers overran Confederates. The town is now in an Alabama historic state park known as Historic Blakeley State Park near Spanish Fort, Alabama.
Blakeley Alabama History
In 1813, Blakeley was founded by Josiah Blakeley, “an entrepreneur and adventurer from Connecticut who moved to Mobile in 1806. He purchased 7,000 acres of land in the northeastern portion of Mobile Bay. In 1813 he hired a surveyor to lay out the town of Blakeley and sold the first 10 lots. On January 6, 1814, the Mississippi Territorial Legislature authorized Josiah Blakeley to lay out a town to be known as Blakeley. It received official incorporation from the State of Alabama in 1820.
Alabama’s First Ferry Located at Blakeley, Alabama
The Fairhope Courier of October 12, 1923, published the following about Blakeley:
Among the most interesting facts were that the first license for operating a ferry, issued by the legislature of Alabama, was from Blakeley to Mobile whas was issued in 1820, and that from about 1800 to 1836, all travel from the northeastward to Mobile and beyond, not borne upon the rivers, came to Blakeley and was there ferried. Later Capt. Norman Durant, who has lived hard by for the greater part of his life, being now 81 years of age, showed us where alongside a giant live oak, still vigorous, the road ran over which stages were operated between Montgomery and Blakeley and their passengers ferried to Mobile from that point, The ferry was, by the terms of the license granted to operate it, required to operate at least twice a week, to have other power than sails, except during certain months of the year, and was to provide accommodation for 16 vehicles (we think it was) and not less that twenty passengers.
Blakeley’s Fall Laid To Greed Speculators
The Monroe Journal of September 18, 1924 published:
High Price of Land in Early Days Drove Important Merchant to Mobile
How it is, after all, the human element which decides the fate of cities, rather than so called natural advantages, is exemplified in the story of Blakeley, at one time the formidable rival of Mobile for ascendancy as Alabama’s only seaport. The story is told in the introductory chapter of the Mobile city directory of 1845.
“In the rage for speculation, Mobile had, at an early day, a formidable rival in the town of Blakely [sic]. This town is pleasantly situated on the east bank of the Tensaw river, at about an equal distance from the sea with Mobile, and perhaps more readily approached by vessels, whether from the rivers of from the Mobile Bay.
“The locality is well adapted to commerce and equally to the facility of building and improvement for a large city; with abundant springs of delicious water. It is said that about the period just mentioned when the scales were equipped between the two towns, an enterprising gentleman, Mr. T. L. Hallett, arrived in the bay in a vessel on board which he had besides merchandise for an extensive business, several frame houses with workmen ready to erect them. He first went to Blakeley, but so extravagant were the views of lot owners that he was induced to come to Mobile, where he settled and became a very influential, active and enterprising merchant. This is said (how truly we do not aver) to have given the preponderance to Mobile. The fate of empires we know has been decided by quite as small a matter.
“Blakeley had her coeton [sic] factors and store keepers, and newspapers. It was a port of entry; the locality of a steamboat company, and it exported considerable quantities of cotton and lumber. Its decadence was rapid, many of its houses were removed to Mobile, and its stores and warehouses gradually decayed. Its beautiful hills, crowned by gigantic live oaks, refreshed by perennial springs of delicious water, are left to the employment of the solitary keeper of a public house, who can solace himself with the occasional visit of the traveler and biennial demand of the lawyers and litigants of the circuit court. The neighborhood can yet fortunately beset of those who have lived there in the enjoyment of competence and health and in the exercise of a refined and generous hospitality, who knows the place at its start, but who have long outlived the probabilities of its revival as a place of trade.”
At Blakeley now there is hardly a house, and only a graveyard remains to tell the story of former wealth and hope. Had the landowners of the promising young city been less greedy for immediate riches, the commercial map of Alabama might be materially different.
Thomas’s Brigade, Composed of the 62nd and 63rd Ala. re-enforced Blakeley in ’65
The Lineville Herald, Lineville, Alabama, October 21, 1910:
A Letter From Hon. D. M. Scott
To the Editor of the Headlight.
I was very much interested in a letter from our correspondent, Mr D W Shadix, at Ironaton, as he was a comrade of mine in the 62nd Ala regiment. Co G, to which Comrade Shadix belonged, was one of the best companies in our regiment, and that means that it was one of the best companies in the Confederate army, as there was not a better regiment in the Confederate army than the 62nd Ala. A J Garrison, or Tom or Jack, as the boys called him, was appointed from Go G as color sergeant, and carried the colors of our regiment. I had a letter from Sergeant Garrison about a year ago, and he was located at Epes, Ala. Captain Donahoo was as brave a man as I ever knew in my life.
Comrade Shadix was mistaken about the 62nd Ala belonging to Holtzclaw’s brigage, as this regiment belonged to thomas’ brigade. Holtzclaw relieved the 62nd Ala after we had been fighting seven or eight days at Spanish Fort in ’65. Our boys were completely worn out from fighting all day and dodging shells from Farragut’s Fleet in Mobile Bay in our readr, and General Maury ordered Holtzclaw’s brigade to relieve Thomas’s brigadde at Spanish Fort, and Thomas’s brigade, composed of the 62nd and 63rd Ala., ran a blockade through Yankee batteries at Spanish Fort on a small blockader runner, and re-enforced Blakeleyk just six miles north of Spanish Fort. We thought we were sent there to rest, but we were put to building breastworks at once, and by the time we got the breastworks completed the Yankees invested Blakeley with a strong force and we were continually fighting at Blakeley for eight days. The first day that the Yankees attacked Blakeley some of the sharp shooters got in a little cabin in front of the skirmish line, and were playing havoc by enfilading shots. Co G, commanded by Captain Donahoo, and a Co of the 63rd Ala under Captain Marin, were detailed to dislodge the Yankee sharp shooters. Both companies suffered a heavy loss in killed and wounded, and the first sergeant of one of these companies was mortally wounded. I do not remember whether he was in Donahoo’s company or Martin’s company, but I assisted in bringing him back to the breast work, and he died in the field hospital.
I always enjoy reading the Headlight, and the distributing clerk who distributes the mail knows my interest in The Headlight, and watches for it, and always puts it on my desk, and always remarks, “Major, here is your Headlight.” So, you wee, The Headlight is pretty well known by the clerks in the Post office at Selma, as well as by the Postmaster, who appreciates every line of it,and I never allow anything in your worthy publication to escape my notice.
With sincere regards, I am
D. Ml Scott.
Selma, Ala. Oct. 19, 1910
Photo Credit: Blakeley Battleground Union Boyaux Fortification.
Kevin King from Pensacola, FL, US of A –
Wikipedia contributors, “Blakeley, Alabama,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Blakeley,_Alabama&oldid=640995668 (accessed January 29, 2015).