A County Older Than the State-Baldwin County
Third oldest county in Alabama. Created in 1809 while still part of Mississippi Territory. Named for Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807), founder of the University of Georgia, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, member of Congress, 1789-1807. This county once lay west of the Tombigbee River; but, after series of boundary changes, it now lies east of the Mobile and Alabama Rivers. County seat at Bay Minette since 1901; earlier seats at McIntosh Bluff, Blakely, and Daphne. It has long been a center of conflicting claims: by Spain, France, and England; by royal governors of Florida, Louisiana, Carolina, Georgia, and West Florida until the Mississippi Territory formed in 1798 and from it, the Alabama Territory in 1817. In struggle for control of the Southeast, many armies have camped in this area: 1528-Narvez, Spanish conquistador 1588-DeLuna, Spanish colonizer 1719-Bienville, French colonizer 1780-Galvez, Spanish conqueror 1813-Red Eagle, Indian revolter 1814-Jackson, American defender 1815-Packenham, British invader 1864-Maury, Confederate defender 1865-Canby, Federal invader. [1957: Courthouse lawn, 200 D Olive St., Bay Minette. 30.88288 N, 87.77401 W]
Bay of the Holy Spirit
The earliest outline of a recognizable bay on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico was shown on a 1507 map by German cartographer Martin Waldeseemuller - the same map to first apply the name "America" to the New World. Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, during a 1519 Spanish expedition seeking a water passage to the Orient through the Gulf, described this harbor and gave it the name Bahía del Espíritu Santo. Successive Spanish explorers sought this "Holy Grail" along the Gulf Coast, failing until a 1693 expedition concluded that what is now called Mobile Bay was the fabled Bay of the Holy Spirit. [2008: Intersection of I-10 & the Causeway, Spanish Fort 30.67716 N, 87.98431 W]
Established in May 1862 near this location, Camp Withers served as a central point for coordinating picket duties, observing Federal troop maneuvers along the Alabama coast, and as a station for Alabama’s Seventh Cavalry Regiment. It was named in honor of former Mayor Jones M. Withers (1814-1890), who had been entrusted with building up the Civil War defenses around Mobile and the surrounding coast.
The encampment housed members of the Home Guard, City Troop A, under the command of Captain Edmund T. Arrington. Local men known to have served at Camp Withers included Cpl. Samuel Nelson, Pvt. John Ewing, Pvt. C.T. Pope, Pvt. George W. Wallace, Pvt. John Childress. In September 1863, the unit was incorporated into Company F, Fifteenth Alabama Cavalry Regiment. Camp Withers remained in operation until after the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 1864. Original marker placed November 20, 1982, by the Fort Morgan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of the local men who served here. Dedicated by the Charles S. Stewart Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the City of Gulf Shores.
[Highway 180, Gulf Shores]
Confederate Rest Cemetery
The Grand Hotel and the Gunnison House served as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers from the Battle of Vicksberg during the Civil War. The Confederate Rest Cemetery commemorates more than 300 Confederate soldiers who died while in the hospital. The original tract of seven acres included markers erected to the Unknown Confederate Dead. The records of the soldiers were kept in the hotel until a fire in 1869, when the identities of those buried in Confederate Rest were lost. [1997: Near 5937 Pine Grove Dr., Fairhope. From US Alt 98, go east on Lakewood Drive, then bear right onto Pine Grove Drive. Marker is at end of this road. 30.48064 N, 87.92091 W]
Erected April 9th, 1799. Marks 1st Southern Boundary of the United States and the Mississippi Territory created in 1798 900 feet East Stone marked 31° North Latitude separating the U.S. & Spanish Florida. This line of demarcation ran from the Mississippi east, along the 31° parallel to the Chattahoochie River, thence down that river to the mouth of the Flint River, thence on a line to the headwaters of the St. Mary's River, thence down that river to the Atlantic Ocean. Major Andrew Ellicott, appointed by George Washington as U.S. Commissioner to survey the boundary as defined in the Treaty of San Lorenzo (1795), was engaged in this expedition from 1796-1800. Esteban Minor was appointed Commissioner on the Spanish side. In 1803, the Ellicott Stone was selected as the Initial Point to begin the U.S. Public Land Surveys which control land boundaries in southern Alabama & Mississippi (St. Stephens Meridian). [1999: East of Hwy 43 near Bucks (northern Baldwin Co). 30.5986 N, 88.0135W]
Built during War of 1812. 1803 United States claimed Mobile and the bay as part of Louisiana Purchase. 1813 On order of President Madison, this point seized from Spain by U.S. Regulars under Gen. James Wilkinson and militia under Col. John Bowyer. This act extended Mississippi Territory to Bay area. Fort Bowyer, a wooden fort, was built here. 1814 British with Indian allies attacked Fort by land and sea. After three days of fierce assault, the British ship Hermes was sunk; the enemy withdrew to friendly Spanish port of Pensacola.
---------------------------------------------Reverse------------------------------------------------ 1815 After Battle of New Orleans, British under Gen. Pakenham attacked here with 500 men from land and 38 war ships. Maj. Lawrence, U.S.A. surrendered with 360 men on the third day. Since peace treaty had already been signed, British retained Fort Bowyer only a few weeks. Americans again occupied the Fort. 1819 work begun on construction of brick fort. 1822 Fort greatly strengthened as urged by President James Monroe. Later renamed Fort Morgan. [Before 1965: This marker has been replaced by another one from the Daughters of the War of 1812.]
1833 This fort replaced Fort Bowyer. Built on the star-shaped design of Michelangelo, it is one of the finest examples of military architecture in the New World. 1861 Seized by Alabama troops on order of Governor Moore. 1861-1864 Strengthened and garrisoned by Confederates guarding the pass against Federal blockading fleet. Guns of fort protected blockade-runners in and out of Mobile Bay.
-------------------------------------------------Reverse----------------------------------------------- 1864 Admiral Farragut, U.S.N., forcing passage into bay, landed 3000 men. After heavy bombardment by Federal fleet, the interior of Fort lay in smoldering ruins. The garrison surrendered next afternoon. 1865 General Canby U.S.A. landed nearby with 32,500 troops and supplies. He moved up east shore of bay to join 13,200 men from Pensacola and laid siege to defenses of Mobile. 1898 During War with Spain the Fort was strengthened and modernized. 1946 Congress deeded the Fort and 400 acres to Alabama for use as State Park. [Before 1965]
Fort Mims Massacre
Here in the Creek Indian War (1813-14) took place the most brutal massacre in American history. Indians took the fort with heavy losses, and then killed all but about 36 of some 550 in the fort. The Creeks had been armed by British at Pensacola in this phase of War of 1812. [1955: Baldwin Co. Rd. 80, off Hwy 59 at Tensaw 31.17642 N 87.83598 W]
Kennedy Mill, C. 1811
Site of one of Alabama's first sawmills. In 1811, Joshua Kennedy engaged Jesse Ember to build two water-powered sawmills, convertible to grist mills, for a total of $1400. The mills were operated by Kennedy through 1820; were burned twice, once by Indians. The mill dam and site were later used by the Bryne Brothers, and then by Hastic & Silver Co. until 1906, when they were abandoned. [1997: State Road 225, south of Stockton. Take Exit 31 off I-65S at State Road 225 and go north 30.9962 N 87.89300 W]
The Mound Line (Ellicott Line)
Mile Mound #216 located 1200 feet East Surveyed in 1799 to mark the 31° North Latitude, this line charted the first southern boundary of the United States, separating the U.S. from Spanish Florida. The line was marked at one-mile intervals by earthen mounds approximately fifteen-feet square and three-feet high with a charred lighter-pine post at the center, hence the name Mound Line. Jointly surveyed by Major Andrew Ellicott, U.S. Commissioner, and Esteban Minor, Spanish Commissioner, to determine boundaries as agreed in the Treaty of San Lorenzo in 1795. The line began at the Mississippi River, ran east along 31° North Latitude to the Chattahoochie River, thence eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. Stockton was divided by this line, with some residents living in the United States and some in Spanish Florida. Although Stockton became a "border town," U.S. law generally prevailed in the area. [1999: 53018 Hwy 59, Stockton 30.99641 N 87.85691 W]
Noble Leslie DeVotie
First Alabama soldier to die in the Civil War. Drowned February 12, 1861, while on duty as chaplain of the Alabama troops here. Before enlisting, he was the pastor of Selma Baptist Church. He was 23 at time of death. Noble Leslie DeVotie-First Alabama soldier to lose life in Civil War. DeVotie graduated in 1856 from University of Alabama; Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Princeton in 1859. In 1856 at the University of Alabama, he was chief founder of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, the only national social fraternity founded in the Deep South. [1964: Dixie Graves Parkway (AL Hwy 180) at Fort Morgan 30.23006 N 88.02348 W]
School of Organic Education
On this site, a significant educational experiment was launched by Marietta Johnson, who founded the School of Organic Education in 1907. Believing that children should be motivated by natural free development rather than by competition, she did away with examinations and concentrated on the growth of the whole person. In 1909, the Single Tax Corporation provided this 10-acre plot. John Dewey, whose progressive education principles were shared by Johnson, visited the school in 1913. The school reached its zenith during the 1920's. The City of Fairhope acquired the campus in 1987 and leased it to Faulkner State Junior College. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. [1991: 57 South School Street, Fairhope 30.52188 N 87.90044 W]