by: Carlus Page


Bellefonte was the 1st town incorporated in Jackson Co. 2 days after it had been selected as the County Seat of Jackson Co., the Legislature passed an Act to incorporate the town (12/15/1821) The town of Bellefonte, was to be established & incorporated including 60 acres, agreeable to the plan of said town. An election was to be held at the house of John Hampton in said town, on the 1st Monday in February next, and on the same day in every year thereafter, to commence at 10:00 a.m. and close at 2:00 p.m., for the purpose of electing by ballot 5 councillors, inhabitants of said town, who shall serve for the term of 1 year after they shey have been elected; the election shall be conducted and managed by a justice of peace and 2 householders in said town;...and the said councillors shall be, and they are hereby constituted a body corporate, by the name and style of "The Intendant and Council of the Town of Belle-Fonte" and by that name they and their successors in office, shall be capable in law, of suing and being sued, etc."...are constituted a corporate body. (For some reason unkonw, the election was not held until the 2nd Monday of Feb. 1822. The Legislature passed an act Jan.1, 1823, making the election legal. Different placed in the county were anxious to secure the location of the county seat. Stephen Carter and George W. Higgins gave the land for the use of the town as a county seat, and the contract was to run for 100 years; but since the papers were burned just after the Civil War, the heirs can't make claim for said land. The Councillors sold lots, and the town grew rapidly and did a thriving business for many years.  

Some of the 1st families to settle here were: Stephen CARTER, the 1st Clerk of Circuit Court of Jackson Co.; William HURT, Moses JONES, Carter O. HARRIS, Colonel WHITE, who owned a large plantation; 4 SNODGRASS brothers, AMBRESTERS, WILBURNS, RECTORS, LANCASTERS, and NORWOODS. The 1st merchants were Alvah FINLEY, James L. CARTER, W.F. HURT, William AUSTIN, C.B. ROUNDTREE, and Mr. MADDOX. James HAWK ran a blacksmith shop. Nelson and Charley ROBINSON were in the drug business. Mr. FROST was a cabinet maker. There were 2 brick stores, one on each corner of the north side of the public square, with 5 or 6 frame stores between.  The courthouse, jail and 2 dwellings were built of brick. For many years, there was only 1 church building in the town. It was erected by the Methodists about 1839. All denominations had preaching in it occasionally. A Cumberland Church was built a year or 2 before the Civil War. Both houses were frame buildings and were used by the Federal Army who camped here during the winters of 1863-1864. Ministers of the Methodists were ADAMS and HICKMAN. BROONE and STOCKTON were Cumberland Ministers.   The leading physicians of the county resided here and had a wide practice. Dr. MORRISON died here. Dr. STERNE who was the 1st president of the county Medical Society, died here. Dr. HAINES spent his last days in this town. Dr. COOK lived here, moved to Kentucky. Dr. LOUIS moved on to Madison CO. AL. 1st school house was a long, one-room frame building called the Academy. Teachers included: BROONE, ROBINSON, MADDOX, and others. Later, the people saw the need of better school facilities, so they erected a 2-story brick Masonic Hall in the early 1850's and used the lower story for schools. The 1st teacher in this new building was a Miss FINLEY, who had just finished school in Athens, AL. The upper story was used by the Masonic Lodge #82. This was the 1st Lodge organized in the county.  The law was considered one of the greatest professions in that day, and many of the most eminent lawyers either resided in Bellefonte or practiced in the courts here. It is not generally known that Leroy Pope WALKER, who was Secretary of War in Jefferson DAVIS' Confederate Cabinet, lived a while in Bellefone and practiced law. He ordered the shot which started the Civil War.   Nelson ROBINSON, who came from Virginia, lived and died here. William ROBINSON, Albert RUSSELL, who came from Juntsville; Patrick RAGLAND of Virginia, who was Register in Chancery and Secretary of State; Edward WALLACE, John and Billie NORWOOD, John and Hugh PARKS, Henry Clay BRADFORD, sometimes called the silver-tongued orator, practiced law in the brick courthouse in Bellefonte.   Other noted men who lived here were: Daniel MARTIN, who ran a stage coach from Bellefonte to Gunter's Landing; Robert T. SCOTT, who is so well know in the county and for whom Scottsboro is named, ran an inn or tavern; Congressman WILLIAMSON; R.W. COBB, who was never defeated for Congress, had a residence in town. His lovely wife was a Miss ALLISON of Madison Co. AL. They had no children. After the County Seat was moved to Scottsboro, the town gradually lost its business and finally ceased to be in the 1880's.

By: Carlus Page article in the Daily Sentinel "In Retrospect"

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