The Info List - Cahaba, Alabama

--- Advertisement ---

Cahaba, also spelled Cahawba, was the first permanent state capital of Alabama
from 1820 to 1825,[2] and county seat of Dallas County, Alabama
until 1866. It suffered a major flood in 1865 and the state legislature moved the county seat to Selma, which was better situated. The former settlement is now a ghost town and state historic site. The site is located southwest of Selma, at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba rivers, which made it prone to seasonal flooding.[3]


1 Demographics 2 History

2.1 Capital 2.2 Antebellum 2.3 Postbellum 2.4 Modern

3 Folklore 4 Notable people 5 Gallery 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links


Historical population

Census Pop.

1860 1,920

1870 431


1880 384


U.S. Decennial Census[4]

Cahawba was listed on the 1860-1880 U.S. Censuses. Although it remained incorporated until as late as 1989,[5] it did not show up on the census rolls after 1880. History[edit] Capital[edit] Cahaba had its beginnings as an undeveloped town site at the confluence of the Alabama
and Cahaba rivers. At the old territorial capital of St. Stephens, a commission was formed on February 13, 1818 to select the site for Alabama's state capital. Cahaba was the site chosen and was approved on November 21, 1818.[3] Due to the future capital site being undeveloped, Alabama's constitutional convention took temporary accommodations in Huntsville until a statehouse could be built. Governor William Wyatt Bibb
William Wyatt Bibb
reported in October 1819 that the town had been laid out and that lots would be auctioned to the highest bidders.[3] The town was planned on a grid system, with streets running north and south named for trees and those running east and west named for famous men. The new statehouse was a two-story brick structure, measuring 40 feet (12 m) wide by 58 feet (18 m) long. By 1820 Cahaba had become a functioning state capital.[2] Cahaba's low elevation at the confluence of two large rivers resulted in seasonal flooding and a reputation for having an unhealthy atmosphere. A major flood struck the town in 1825, causing a portion of the statehouse to collapse. People who were opposed to the capital's location at Cahaba used this as an argument for moving the capital to Tuscaloosa, which was approved by the legislature in January 1826.[3][6] Antebellum[edit] The town would remain the county seat of Dallas County for several more decades.[7] The town eventually recovered from losing the capital and reestablished itself as a social and commercial center. Centered in the fertile "Black Belt", Cahaba became a major distribution point for cotton shipped down the Alabama
River to the port of Mobile. The addition of a railroad line in 1859 triggered a building boom in Cahaba. On the eve of the American Civil War, the town had more than 3,000 residents.[2] St. Luke's Episcopal Church was established in 1854. During the Civil War, the Confederate government seized Cahaba's railroad and appropriated the iron rails to extend a nearby railroad of more military importance. It built a stockade around a large cotton warehouse on the riverbank along Arch Street in order to use it as a prison, known as Castle Morgan. It was used for prisoners of war from 1863 to 1865.[7] In February 1865 a flood inundated the town, causing much additional hardship for the roughly 3000 Union soldiers held in the prison, and for the town's citizens. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union General James H. Wilson
James H. Wilson
met in Cahaba at the Crocheron mansion to discuss an exchange of prisoners captured during the Battle of Selma. Postbellum[edit] In 1866, the state legislature moved the county seat to nearby Selma, with businesses and families soon following. Within ten years, many of the houses and churches in Cahaba were dismantled and moved away.[2] During the Reconstruction era, freedmen organizing in the Republican Party and for other political purposes met regularly at the vacant courthouse. A new rural community of freedmen and their families gradually replaced the old urban center. These families developed the vacant town blocks into fields and garden plots. Soon, this community had largely moved on.[citation needed] Prior to the turn of the 20th century, a freedman purchased most of the old town site for $500. He had the abandoned buildings demolished for their building materials and shipped the material by steamboat to Mobile and Selma.[3] By 1903, most of Cahaba's buildings were gone; only a handful of structures survived past 1930.[3][8] Modern[edit] Although the area is no longer inhabited, the Alabama
Historical Commission maintains Cahaba as a state historic site and as an important archaeological site. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[9] Visitors to this park can still see many of the abandoned streets, cemeteries, and ruins of this former state capital and county seat.[8] Folklore[edit] The town, and later its abandoned site, was the setting for many ghost stories during the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the most widely known is that of a ghostly orb in a now-vanished garden maze at the home of C. C. Pegues. The house was located on a lot that occupied a block between Pine and Chestnut streets. The purported haunting was recorded with “Specter in the Maze at Cahaba” in 13 Alabama
Ghosts and Jeffrey.[10] Reported hauntings are updated by Digital Alabama Guide To Ghosts And Haunted Places Notable people[edit]

George Henry Craig, born in Cahaba, former U.S. Representative Anderson Crenshaw, former Alabama
judge Edward Martineau Perine, merchant and planter; owner of Perine Mansion on Vine Street


The Perine Store; photo likely taken in the last quarter of the 19th century.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church at Martin's Station (approximately 15 miles from Cahaba) in 1934.

The Methodist Church in the 1930s, later destroyed by fire.

Kirkpatrick mansion on Oak Street, burned in 1935. The two-story brick slave quarters at the rear remains intact.

The Female Academy as it stood in 1903.

The twenty-six room Perine mansion, built in the 1850s, later demolished.

Another view of the Perine Mansion.

Crocheron mansion, built 1843, destroyed by fire in the early 20th century.

Castle Morgan, a Confederate prison camp on the Alabama
River at Cahaba.

See also[edit]

Reportedly haunted locations in Alabama


^ National Park Service
National Park Service
(2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.  ^ a b c d "Old Cahawba, Alabama's first state capital, 1820 to 1826". Old Cahawba: A Cahawba Advisory Committee Project. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  ^ a b c d e f Harris, W. Stuart. Dead Towns of Alabama, pp. 66-67. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama
Press, 1977. ISBN 0-585-26563-1. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Archived from the original on April 22, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013.  ^ http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/oldcahawba.html ^ "Capitals of Alabama". Alabama
Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  ^ a b "Dallas County Historical Markers". Alabama
Department of Archives and History. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  ^ a b "Old Cahawba". Alabama
Historical Commission. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  ^ "Alabama: Dallas County". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  ^ Windham, Kathryn Tucker; Figh, Margaret Gillis (1969). 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Strode Publishers. ISBN 0-8173-0376-6. 


Fry, Anna M. Gayle. Memories of Old Cahaba. Nashville, Tenn: Publishing House of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1908. Meador, Daniel J., "Riding Over the Past? Cahaba, 1936", Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2002.

External links[edit]

Old Cawhaba - Civil War Album Old Cahawba Archaeological Park - Alabama
Historical Commission Cahawba Advisory Committee The Cahaba Foundation Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. AL-725, "Monument, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 1 photo HABS No. AL-726, "Methodist Church, Walnut Street, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 3 photos, 7 measured drawings, 3 data pages HABS No. AL-734, "St. Luke's Episcopal Church, (Moved from Cahaba, AL), Martin, Dallas County, AL", 4 photos, 7 measured drawings, 6 data pages HABS No. AL-727, "Kirkpatrick House, Oak Street, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 6 photos HABS No. AL-732, "Colonel Rees D. Gayle House, Oak & First South Streets, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 1 photo HABS No. AL-729, "Grace Evans House, Alabama
River vicinity, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 1 photo HABS No. AL-728, "Crocheron House Remains, Second North Street, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 1 photo HABS No. AL-731, "Bell House, First North & Oak Streets, Cahaba, Dallas County, AL", 4 photos

v t e

National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
in Dallas County, Alabama

National Historic Landmark

Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Historic districts

Carlowville Historic District Icehouse Historic District Old Town
Historic District Riverview Historic District Summerfield District Water Avenue Historic District

Other properties

Adams Grove Presbyterian Church Antique Store Cahaba Christian Church and Parsonage Dallas County Courthouse Doctor's Office Driskell-Martin House First Baptist Church J. Bruce Hain House Marshall's Grove John Tyler Morgan House Wesley Plattenburg House Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church Riverdale St. Luke's Episcopal Church St. Paul's Episcopal Church Marcus Meyer Skinner House Street Manual Training School Sturdivant Hall Todd House U.S. Post Office Building Valley Creek Presbyterian Church

See also: National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
listings in Dallas County, Alabama
and List of National Historic Landmarks in Alabama

v t e

U.S. National Register of Historic Places


Architectural style categories Contributing property Historic district History of the National Register of Historic Places Keeper of the Register National Park Service Property types

Lists by states

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Lists by insular areas

American Samoa Guam Minor Outlying Islands Northern Mariana Islands Puerto Rico Virgin Islands

Lists by associated states

Federated States of Micronesia Marshall Islands Palau

Other areas

District of Columbia Morocco


v t e

Municipalities and communities of Dallas County, Alabama, United States

County seat: Selma


Selma Valley Grande




Selmont-West Selmont

Unincorporated communities

Beloit Bogue Chitto Browns Carlowville Crumptonia Elm Bluff Manila Marion Junction Minter Plantersville Pleasant Hill Richmond Safford Sardis Summerfield Tyler