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CHILTON COUNTY HISTORY 

Established by the Alabama Legislature on December 30, 1868, from land obtained from Autauga, Bibb, Perry, and Shelby counties. Originally designated Baker County for Alfred Baker, postmaster, justice of the peace, state legislator, and founder of the city of Clanton. First county seat was Grantville, named for President Ulysses S. Grant, located one mile northeast of present courthouse site. Following a public referendum held in April 1871, the county seat relocated to Clanton along the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. A two-story wood-frame courthouse, constructed at the intersection of Second Avenue North and Sixth Street, served as the new seat of county government. In response to a petition by residents, the name of the county was changed on December 17, 1874, to honor former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court William Parish Chilton. An all-brick courthouse was constructed in 1896 but was damaged by fire in 1918. Rebuilt in 1919, the building served the people of the county until February 1962 when a new courthouse facility was dedicated.   

Known as the “Peach Capital of Alabama,” local orchards produce more than two-thirds of the total yield of Alabama’s leading commercial fruit. In celebration of this agricultural export, the inaugural Chilton County Peach Festival was held in July 1947 at the Thorsby Institute. Organizers had a prize-winning basket of Hale Haven peaches delivered to President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C.  The Coosa River on the eastern border of the county became the site of the first Alabama Power Company hydro-electric project in the state. Completed in 1914, Lay Dam was constructed on the Army Corps of Engineers Lock 12 site and named for William Patrick Lay, founder of the Alabama Power Company. Mitchell Dam, erected at Dunkin’s Riffle and completed in 1923, is named for former Alabama Power Company President James Mitchell. The establishment of rail systems, the Dixie Bee-Line Highway, and the interstate highway system significantly affected the growth and development of communities within the county. 
[500 2nd Avenue North, Clanton]
 

EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH 

On July 31, 1819, Ebenezer Baptist Church was constituted by Isaac Suttle, Lewis C. Davis (“Old Club Axe”), and William Harrod. The first house of worship was a large log house located one mile south of this site, near Bogle’s Creek. After fire destroyed the log structure, a second building was constructed here on this site in the 1830s, on the hill where the pastorium now stands. 

On April 1, 1865, this property dedicated to God became a Civil War battleground. Known as the “Battle of Ebenezer Church,” the brief but fierce engagement pitted more than 1,500 Confederate cavalrymen under the command of Maj. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest against a larger Union force led by Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson, en route to Selma. Forrest was wounded during the fighting here. Union forces captured 300 Confederates and seized three artillery pieces. The Union dead from the battle were buried in the church cemetery on the hill.  The following day, Wilson’s forces captured and destroyed the Selma Ordinance and Naval Foundry, one of the Confederacy's last remaining industrial and manufacturing centers. The Civil War-era church burned in 1917. A new edifice was built around 1919.

Dedicated on the occasion of the church’s 200th anniversary. 
[5349 AL-22, Stanton]  

Ebenezer Church 

 

April 1, 1865-A cavalry engagement here among fiercest of the Civil War. To defend arsenal of Selma, Forrest (Confederate flag) charged with 1500 into Wilson (U.S. flag), moving south with 7500. Forrest was seeking
to delay Wilson pending the arrival of scattered (Confederate flag) units. Forrest, involved in heavy fighting to inspire his men, suffered a saber wound, but killed opponent. Swollen streams and intercepted orders blocked aid for Forrest and forced his retreat. 

[Before 1965: 5349 AL Hwy 22, Stanton 32.736061 N    86.90014 W]
 

USS Chilton

     Constructed by the Western Pipe and Steel Company of San Francisco, the Bayfield-class attack transport ship was launched on December 29, 1942, as the SS Sea Needle. The vessel was retrofitted at the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard in New York for service as an attack transport, relief command, and primary casualty ship. Commissioned on December 7, 1943, as APA-38 (Auxiliary, Personnel, Attack), the ship was named in honor of the citizens of Chilton County for being the first county in the United States to meet its established quota during a 1943 War Bond drive. The USS Chilton was powered by an 8,500-horsepower steam turbine with a displacement of 16,100 tons fully loaded. As an amphibious transport, its primary mission was to embark, move, and land troops against enemy opposition, leading the crew to adopt the motto, “Any Beach, Any Time.” The crew complement included 51 officers, 524 enlisted men, and 1,500 combat Marines. During the Second World War, operating in the Pacific Theater of combat, the USS Chilton participated in operations at Ulithi, Leyte Gulf, Kerama Retto, and the invasion of the island of Okinawa.

     The USS Chilton served as the flagship for Transport Squadron 17 during the invasion of Okinawa. The ship suffered damage after being struck by enemy kamikaze aircraft during the battle for Kerama Retto, earning a Battle Star for meritorious service in the Pacific Theater of Operations. After the Second World War, the USS Chilton completed two “Operation Magic Carpet” cruises to return combat troops to the United States from overseas service. In June 1946, the USS Chilton was utilized as a floating laboratory during testing of the atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll. In addition to numerous humanitarian missions, the USS Chilton and crew served in the naval blockade of Cuba during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and in May 1969 was assigned to the task force assisting in the recovery of the Apollo 10 crew following their successful moon orbital mission. On July 1, 1972, after three decades of honorable and meritorious service to the people of the United States of America, the USS Chilton was decommissioned as a naval vessel. 
[Chilton County Courthouse, 500 Second Avenue, North, Clanton]

 

 

Walnut Creek United Methodist Church

 

Established 1820. 
Arthur Love, a charter member, was first pastor. 
Organized as a Methodist Episcopal Church. 
Became Methodist Protestant, 1828. 
Changed to Methodist Church, 1939. 
Affiliated with United Methodist, 1968. 
In the original church built of logs, Judge James Q. Smith, Montgomery, in 1869, 
presided at first court held
in Baker Co. (now Chilton). 
Circa 1875, a frame building replaced log church. 
Present brick building erected 1935. 
Walnut Creek United Methodist Church has always maintained a progressive Sunday School. 
[1978: 314 Co. Rd 458, Clanton 32.85462N  86.59857W]

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