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Battle of Mobile Bay

One of the fiercest naval actions of the war was fought off this point August 5, 1864. The mighty Tennessee, an iron-clad ram built at Selma shipyards with six guns, was last of four-ship Confederate fleet defending, with troops in Ft. Morgan, the bay and entrance to Mobile. Adm. Farragut (‘Damn the torpedoes') commanded 17 ships with 199 heavy guns.
Adm. Buchanan alone attacked Federal fleet; furious close-quarter fighting followed. Encircled and taking heavy fire, Tennessee's crew inflicted losses until, rudder chains and smokestack shot away, she was rammed at will and drifted helplessly but with guns and armor intact. Farragut then landed troops who took Ft. Morgan after 19-day siege. Mobile, last fortified port, fell in 1865.

Bayou La Batre


Originally called "Rivere D'Erbane," the bayou acquired present name from French-maintained battery of artillery on West Bank for defense. First permanent settlement on south Mobile County mainland. Founded 1786 when Joseph Bouzage (Bosarge), 1733-1795, moved into the area and was awarded a 1259 acre Spanish land grant on West Bank.
Born Poitiers, France, Bouzage came to Gulf Coast ca. 1760. Married Catherine Louise Boudreau 5 June, 1762. Father of seven children including one son, Jean Baptiste.
City of Bayou La Batre incorporated 1955.


British West Florida


1763-1780. 1763 Florida and Louisiana, east of the Mississippi, ceded to England by Treaty of Paris. 1763 George III of England created West Florida as a new colony; this included all of present South Alabama. 1768 Elias Durnford, provincial engineer, made the first survey of the bay and published his Admiralty Chart. 1778 William Bartram, eminent botanist, explored the plant life of this area. 1780 Spain having declared war on England, Governor Galvez from New Orleans invaded the bay with 2000 men. They captured the British garrison at Mobile after a siege of two weeks. General George Washington regarded Galvez as an ally.


Crew of Columbus Birthplace


The Battle-Ross House, built here in the 1850s at 602 Government Street, became the home of the Knights of Columbus Mobile Council 666 in 1920. It served in that capacity until 1969, when the building was sold and demolished. A Mardi Gras mystic society, the Krewe of Columbus, was founded here in 1921 by members of Council “Trip Six.” The Krewe held its first parade in 1922. The twelve-float parade depicted scenes from the life of Christopher Columbus and his efforts to reach the New World. Until 1937, only members of the Knights of Columbus could join the Krewe. After that requirement was abandoned, the spelling of the parading organization’s name was changed to Crewe of Columbus, so the group would no longer have the same initials as the Knights of Columbus. Despite the Crewe’s separation from the Knights, members were still allowed to hold their meetings in the Knights hall for many years thereafter. In 2021, the Crewe reached its centennial anniversary as an active mystic society in Mobile.
[602 Government Street, Mobile]


Early Alabama


1813-1861. 1803 Mobile Bay area claimed by U.S. under terms of Louisiana Purchase, although occupied by Spanish garrisons. 1812 Added to Mississippi Territory by act of Congress. 1813 Seized from Spanish garrison by military force on order Pres. Madison. 1817 Alabama Territory created by act of Congress. 1819 Alabama admitted to Union. 1861 Alabama seceded and joined Confederate States of America.


Early Spanish Florida


1519-1561. Explorers, Conquistadors, Colonizers. 1519 Pineda explored this coast, made maps, and spent several months in this bay refitting his ships. 1528 Narvaez's storm-wrecked expedition sought refuge here. De Vaca survived to reach Mexico. 1539 Maldonado explored coast and recommended rendezvous here with De Soto. 1540 Maldonado returned with ships to remove De Soto's army. But De Soto, after Indian Battle of Mauvilla, turned northwest still seeking gold. 1558 Bazares explored bay area by order of Spanish king and reported conditions favorable for colonization. 1559 De Luna with 1500 settlers and soldiers landed here, established main colony at Pensacola, and moved into interior along Alabama River. 1561 De Luna colonists, after many hardships, descended the Alabama River and re-embarked for Mexico.


Ellicott's Stone


Marks 31° North Latitude erected 1799–1½ miles–Stone marked boundary between U.S., Spanish Florida from the Mississippi east to Chattahoochee River. Ellicott, U.S. Surveyor General, did this first Alabama boundary survey. Basis of all South Alabama surveys. His survey defined southern boundary of Mississippi Territory created in 1798.
[Before 1965: U.S. Highwy 45]


Emerson Institute


On this site stood Emerson Institute, Mobile's first school for the formal education of African-Americans in Alabama. Founded 1865 by the Freedmen's Bureau, the school was run by the American Missionary Association from 1866 until 1927 when it became a Mobile County public school. First located in the "Blue College" on Government Street, the school moved in 1877 here to 266 Scott Street after a disastrous fire. Many of its students had careers of local and national distinction. Emerson closed in 1970 and its buildings were demolished as part of the city's plan for urban renewal.
[1995: Scott St., Mobile]


French Louisiana


Louis XIV, Grand Monarch of France, sought to wrest Gulf Coast from Spain and to defeat British pretensions west of Appalachian Mountains. Under vague terms of Peace of Ryswick, 1697, France claimed all west of Perdido River, by explorations of LaSalle. 1699 Iberville, with colonists and soldiers, cast anchor here. They made temporary settlements on Dauphin Island and at Biloxi. 1702 Mobile, Capital Louisiana Province, founded at 27 Mile Bluff. 1711 Mobile removed to present site. 1711 British privateers from Jamaica made destructive raids on French in lower Mobile Bay. 1719 With Spain and France at war, the Spaniards from Cuba twice attacked and pillaged settlements of lower bay. 1756-1763 British fleet blockaded entrance to bay and stifled French trade. 1762 French ceded Louisiana Province to Spain by secret treaty. 1763 Florida and Louisiana Province, east of the Mississippi ceded to England by Treaty of Paris.

Kennedy-Cox House


     The Kennedy-Cox House was built in 1857 by Joshua Kennedy Jr., whose family arrived here in 1805 and is credited with helping establish Mobile as a commercial shipping center. The architectural design is a unique transition between the Greek Revival and Italianate styles. It features the only surviving portico on Government Street from the city’s first “golden age” (1830-1862). The house remained in the family until 1923 when it was converted to the Seamen’s Bethel, a refuge for visiting sailors, which lasted until the end of World War II. In 1948 it began a 69-year history as the Lamar Y. McLeod American Legion Post 3, one of the two oldest posts in Alabama. The post is named for Captain Lamar Y. McLeod, a resident of Mobile, who was presented the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in action near St. Juvin, France, on October 11, 1918. The property was acquired in 2017 by the 1857 Foundation, Inc. and thanks in part to a generous gift by the Eugene Cox family, a full restoration was completed in 2019.


Joshua Kennedy Jr.


The builder of this magnificent home was 27-year-old Joshua Kennedy Jr., a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts and a successful wholesale grocer. The Kennedys settled in Mobile in 1805. By the time of his death in 1838, Joshua Kennedy, Sr. was considered one of the richest men in Alabama. In 1811, the family built and operated one of the oldest sawmills in Alabama near Stockton through the 1820’s. In the spring of 1853 Joshua Kennedy Jr. married Mary Emanuel, whose British-born father was one of the city’s wealthiest merchants. At the start of the Civil War, Kennedy enlisted with the Confederate army. While serving in Company H of the 8th Alabama Infantry, First Lieutenant Kennedy was killed during the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia in 1862. He was 33 years old. This ultimately became the home of Mary Emanuel Kennedy’s sister, Virginia Mitchell, whose heirs sold it to the Seamen’s Bethel in 1923.

[607 Government Street, Mobile]

Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley

The Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley encompasses much of the early history of aviation in Alabama, including Monroe Park where aerial experimenter John Fowler displayed his flying machine designs. The fairgrounds located adjacent to Monroe Park were utilized for early aerial exhibitions. Located immediately north of the Aeroplex, in an area known as “The Flats,” Legion Field was developed in 1917 and became Mobile’s first flying field. The city’s first municipal airport, Bates Field, was dedicated in November 1929 and located within the geographic borders of the current Mobile Aeroplex. In July 1939, the War Department acquired 1,362 acres of land that included Bates Field for construction of a military aviation depot. Designated the Southeast Air Depot, the facility was subsequently named for military aviator Wendell Holsworth

Brookley and supported military aviation operations in five southeastern states and the Caribbean. Brookley Field was the only military aviation depot in the United States with access to air, rail, sea, and highway modes of transportation. During the Second World War, more than 16,000 men and women were employed at Brookley Field.

Following the end of the Second World War, the United States Air Force fleet of Douglas C-74 Globemaster aircraft, the world’s largest commissioned cargo aircraft, was based at Brookley Field. Globemaster aircraft participated in the Berlin Airlift and other material support missions. During this period, aircraft and crews operating from the facility set numerous aviation records for non-stop flights. Redesignated Brookley Air Force Base in 1947, the facility supported military operations around the world as headquarters of the Mobile Air Materiel Area and the Brookley Field Ocean Terminal. Brookley AFB ultimately grew to encompass more than 2,000 acres of land and the largest runway complex in Alabama. The facility was decommissioned in July 1969 and returned to the City of Mobile. In 2012, Airbus selected the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley as the site of the Airbus U. S. Manufacturing Facility, the company’s first commercial aircraft production site in America. Today, the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley is an integral component of the Alabama aviation and aerospace industry. 

[Airbus Way, Mobile]


Mobile Bay Area


History Under Six Flags. 1519-1699 Spanish Florida by discovery, exploration and conquest. 1699-1763 French Louisiana by colonization, exploration and trade. 1763–1780 British West Florida by treaty, occupation and administration. 1780-1813 Spanish West Florida by invasion, seizure and treaty. 1813-1861 United States by invasion, seizure and treaty. 1861 Independent State of Alabama. 1861-1865 Confed. States of America. 1865–United States.


Mount Vernon Arsenal and Barracks


Established 1828 by Congress to store arms and munitions for U. S. Army. Original structures completed 1830's. Arsenal appropriated by Confederacy 1861; equipment moved to Selma facilities. After Civil War used as U. S. Army barracks; from 1887-1894 served as holding ground for Apache Indian prisoners. Deeded to State of Alabama 1895.
Josiah Gorgas, later Chief of Ordnance of Confederacy, stationed here 1850's; Dr. Walter Reed, conqueror of yellow fever, served as post surgeon 1880's; Apache chieftain, Geronimo, prisoner here 1887-1894.




Started in 1833 by James Roper on a Spanish land grant, "Oakleigh" was named for the magnificent oaks around it. The "T" shaped dwelling with elegant parlors and curved outside stairway from the brick terrace to front gallery was well suited for a semi-tropical climate. Many famous visitors, including President James Garfield, were entertained here. It was included in the Historic American Building Survey and the National Register of Historic Places. Acquired by City of Mobile in 1955. Now operated as a museum by Historic Mobile Preservation Society, it reflects antebellum life in this city.
[Oakleigh Place, Mobile]


Searcy Hospital


Mt. Vernon Hospital established 1900 by State of Alabama. Served as mental hospital for care of Black citizens. Name changed 1919 to Searcy Hospital honoring first superintendent, Dr. J. T. Searcy. Treatment for all citizens began 1969. Nine of structures dating from 1830's still in use, including Superintendent's House, Tower Building, and Library. Enclosing wall dates from 1830's.
[Mt. Vernon]


Spanish West Florida


1780-1813. 1780 Spaniards invading from New Orleans seized this area from British. 1783 Treaty of Versailles confirmed West Florida to Spain without defining north boundary. This led to a long dispute with the United States. 1795 By treaty, 31° latitude was made boundary between United States and Spain. 1803 United States claimed Mobile Bay as part of Louisiana Purchase, but Spanish garrisons remained in possession. 1806 Spanish troops stationed at Mobile Point. 1812 Congress authorized President Madison to use army and navy to occupy Mobile Bay.


Springhill Avenue Temple


The Jewish Congregation is the oldest in Alabama and one of the oldest in the United States. Members met in homes until December 27, 1846, when the St. Emanuel Street Temple was dedicated. The Congregation soon out grew this structure and built a new Temple on Jackson Street which was consecrated March 10, 1853. They worshiped there until 1907, when a new edifice was erected at the corner of Government and Warren Streets. Continued growth led to the construction of the present building which was dedicated September 5, 1955. Incorporated into the design of this structure are architectural and decorative elements preserved from the Congregation's earlier houses of worship.

Tanner-Williams United Methodist Church

The church was established in 1918 as New Hope Methodist Episcopal South by twenty-one charter members from the families of John H. Bolen, Mack Furr, Jessie Lavender, Felin Middleton, and George Lee Williams.  Bolen chose the name New Hope.  In 1922, Rev. H. H. Myrick and George Lee Williams traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, where they purchased this one and one-fourth acre tract of land for twenty-five dollars from the Pringle family.  The original building still stands, with five subsequent additions.  In 1954, the church changed its name to Tanner-Williams United Methodist Church.  A mission-minded body, the congregation supports numerous local and worldwide Christian efforts. 

 Dedicated on the occasion of the church’s 100th anniversary. 

[1550 North Grand Bay Wilmer Road, Mobile]


Tristan De Luna Y Arellano, (1519-1573)

Spanish conquistador who in the summer of 1559 led a large fleet to the northern Gulf Coast in the earliest grand attempt to colonize the area for Spain. He sailed into Mobile Bay in August 1559 with 11 ships, more than 500 soldiers, 1000 men, women, and servants with provisions. Settling on Pensacola Bay, Luna divided his forces to move inland and by way of the Mobile and Alabama Rivers into what is today south Alabama. Due to a hurricane, misfortune, and famine the colonization effort failed. Tristan de Luna y Arellano died in Mexico.

Sponsored by the Tristan de Luna Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and dedicated on its 75th anniversary, May 11, 2019

[USS Alabama Battleship Park]


WALA-TV, Channel 10, Mobile's Oldest Operating Station

In 1952, W. O. Pape, owner of the WALA-AM radio station, received a television license from the Federal Communications Commission.  The WALA acronym stood for “We Are Loyal Alabamians.”  On January 14, 1953, WALA-TV, Channel 10, began broadcasting from this site.  Until 1963, the building also housed the WALA radio station before it was sold and became WUNI-AM.  A July 1954 storm toppled the 435-foot broadcast antenna located at the rear of the building.  Soon thereafter, the station installed a taller antenna east of Spanish Fort, on the opposite side of Mobile Bay.  With the resulting increased signal strength, the station welcomed new viewers from nearby portions of Florida.  Since its initial broadcast, WALA-TV has provided news, weather, and entertainment programming, including live coverage of the Gulf Coast’s annual celebration of Mardi Gras.  Over time, the station has adapted to new technologies, from analog to digital broadcast signals and the rise of the Internet.  In 2002, the television station relocated to a new facility on Satchel Paige Drive in West Mobile. 

[Corner of Government and South Royal streets, downtown]

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