BEAR MEAT CABIN
Chief Bear Meat
In 1816, there was little in the area to attract settlers, with the exception of a cabin named for a Cherokee Indian called Chief Bear Meat, a translation of his native name. The cabin was at a junction of popular trade routes so people began calling the crossroads “Bear Meat Cabin,” according to Bham Wiki.
Blountsville Alabama, Blount County Alabama
Blountsville is located in northern Blount County, in the Blountsville Valley at the intersection of County Highway 26 and U.S. Highway 231. Route 231 leads south 6 miles to Cleveland and 14 miles to Oneonta, the county seat, and north 50 miles to Huntsville.
Alabama Highway 79 runs through the southern corner of Blountsville, leading northeast to Guntersville and southwest to Birmingham.
First Settlers of Blount County
Many of Andrew Jackson’s men became the first settlers of Blount County and established a trading post at Blountsville. One of the earliest settlers of the area was George Powell, who became one of the first surveyors of Alabama and later authored the first historical account of Blount County.
Village of Wassausey
What became Blountsville appears on an 1819 map as the mixed Creek/Cherokee Native American village of “Wassausey” (meaning Bear Meat Cabin, the name of an Indian translator who lived there). The town was established by Caleb Fryley and Johnny Jones in 1816 as Bear Meat Cabin.
Crossroads Stagecoach Stop
Maps as early as 1825 show Blountsville as being an important and early crossroads and stagecoach stop for those traveling. The roads that came together just north of Blountsville allowed easier access for those traveling northwest to Huntsville and those traveling northeast to Tennessee.
Blount County in 1854
The Southern Business Directory and General Commercial Advertiser,
By the Rev. John P. Campbell; Steam Power Press of Walker & James, 1854 reported the following:
Population in 1850, 7,562.
Amount of tax on personal and real estate, $1,690.72.
One academy at Blountsville;
churches, in all, 30;
2 flour mills.
A. M. Gibson,
G. W. Montgomery;
A. W. Arnold;
At Walnut Grove
At Marphrus Valley,
Steel & Wilson;
12 miles west of Blountsville, R. C. Mason.
J. C. McAnnually;
Wm. R. Price.
Blount County in 1855
In 1855, Blountsville had 25 families residing there. It had “three physicians, two preachers, two lawyers, four dry-goods merchants, one tavern-keeper, two grocers, four blacksmiths, two wagon-makers, one cabinet maker, two tailors, and one tanner,” according to George Powell, early settler, surveyor, geologist, and historian of Blount County.
Blount County in 1860
By the 1860s, Blountsville stood at the intersection of eight roads, including five major highways through northern Alabama. Merchandising, liquor sales, and blacksmithing continued to boost Blountsville’s economy. Several boarding houses, including The Nation House, Copeland Inn, and Barclift House, took in tenants during the stagecoach days.
A major crossroads in early Alabama, Blountsville became a Confederate depot for the cavalry. Confederate forces led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union forces led by General Abel Streight skirmished briefly in the town on May 1, 1863, and Major General Lovell H. Rousseau and his Union cavalry occupied the town in July 1864.
Treasure Found in Blount County
The Montgomery Advertiser printed the following on February 20, 1880:
A few days ago MR. E. P. PUCKETT was plowing in an old field near his residence, in the vicinity of Summit, in Blount County. His plow struck something rather hard and upon examining it he found a box, and on opening it could scarcely believe his own eyes as he gazed upon over $1,800 in gold and silver coins. There was $1,200 in gold and $600 in silver. Upon inquiry Mr. PUCKETT became convinced that this money was buried during the late war by MR. A. W. ARNOLD, now deceased, a citizen of that vicinity. Several efforts had been made by Mr. Arnold’s family to find this box, they being aware that he had buried it, when the Federal troops threatened that section of the State. The money was turned over to the widow of MR. ARNOLD, who now resides in Marshall County. She is represented to be a worthy lady, having several children who will be benefited by the money their father buried to save from the hands of the invaders. It is stated that a large number of citizens in that section of the State buried considerable quantities of gold and silver coins about the same time that Mr. Arnold did. Most of those who did so, recovered their money, after the danger was passed, but in the excitement and fear incident to the times several persons buried their treasure who forgot the precise localities of burial, and have not been able to this day to recover them. The same thing was done in various portions of the State. It is to be hoped that all will be found by the proper persons. The action of Mr. Puckett in turning over the money he found to the widow of the owner, shows that he is a high-toned, honest gentleman, and one eminently deserving the highest esteem and confidence of his fellow man.
Blount County in 1886
The Bulletin, Geological Survey of Alabama, by Truman H. Aldrich, 1886 reported that Sam Mardis operated a flour and grist mill in Blountsville in 1886.
In 1889, Henry F. DeBardeleben and James Sloss purchased Champion Mines and brought the Louisville and Nashville Railroad to the area. From 1925 to 1967, the mine supplied raw materials to the Woodward, TCI, and Sloss furnaces in Birmingham and the Republic Furnace in Gadsden.
Rube Burrows Bloody Work in 1899
A dispatch from Blount County, Alabama, to the Birmingham Age-Herald dated Oct. 26th,1899:
Rube Burrows Bloody Work
Rube Burrows is in our county, and is hemmed in by our citizens in a very narrow place in the mountain seven miles east of Blountsville. Experienced detectives of your city wanted to assist in his capture. A number of citizens finding out that Burrows and his friend was in their midst, attempted his arrest, and two of their number were killed outright and a third badly wounded. The killed are Penn Woodard and Henry Anderson, and James Herring wounded. The darkness of the night closed in upon the scene with perhaps 100 men in close pursuit, but the night was so very dark and rainy they could do nothing, and the Burrows were armed with such superior arms that in the day time they have decidedly the advantage over the citizens, and hence the call for help from Birmingham. Our sheriff was not here when Burrows was first discovered, but arrived a short while after the killing.
A later dispatch says that the pursuing party, with several bloodhounds, got in sight of Burrows and his pal on Sand mountain, and a number of shots were exchanged. – Burrows turned and shot one of the hounds and then made good his escape.