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Crawford Alabama

My Hometown

by J. Michael Bunn



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Early Settlement of Crawford
the Naming of Crawford
Early Growth of Crawford
Famous People from Crawford
the Civil War in Crawford
County Seat Change
Today in Crawford
Sources of Information


History of Crawford

The area Crawford is located in was originally inhabited by Creek Indians. There was a large tribe of Creeks in the area, and they have left much archaeological evidence behind. Mainly, this consists of mounds and arrowheads, of which the latter can be found in abundance in areas near Crawford. In 1832, the state of Alabama negotiated a treaty with the Creek that gave the state official control of the area that is now Russell County

The Naming of Crawford

Crawford was founded in this territory in 1832, but under the name of Crockettsville. The new town, which was inhabited mostly by Georgians, was named in honor of Davy Crockett in remembrance of his service under Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The rapid growth of Russell County soon resulted in the movement of the county seat from Girard (now Phenix City) to Crockettsville, which was a more central location. In 1843, the name of Crockettsville was officially changed to Crawford by the state legislature, in honor of a prominent Georgia family.

Early Growth in Crawford

Crawford grew quickly from a frontier outpost to a bustling center of government during the 1840's. A new Russell County courthouse was built in 1842 on land now occupied by the Crawford Methodist Church, and the town had acquired churches, several small stores, and a post office by mid-decade. In 1848, the Tookabatchee Masonic Lodge was built, which still stands today. In addition, the town was on a regular stagecoach route from Clayton, in Barbour County, to Salem, now in Lee County, Alabama. As the center of law in the county, hangings were performed in Crawford. These took place in an area called Golgotha Hill, about one mile from the center of town.

Famous People from Crawford

Several residents of Crawford at this time became famous in history. Some of its many lawyers who did so were Benjamin Baker, Solomon Heydenfelt, and Milton S. Latham. Baker was a signer of the Alabama ordinance of secession and famed Civil War leader, Heydenfelt was the first elected Supreme Court Justice in the state of California, and Latham was an early governor of that state. When the Civil War began, many of the able-bodied men from the town enlisted in the Russell Volunteers and served in the Sixth Alabama Regiment.

The Civil War in Crawford

Crawford was almost destroyed in the Civil War. In April of 1865, a Union cavalry force under the command of James Wilson came through the town en route to Columbus, Georgia. Outside of town, it was confronted by a small band of Confederate skirmishers, which it drove back in a short time without loss of life. Members of the 10th Missouri, part of Wilson's force, had plans to burn the town. They refrained from doing so, however, because of the pleading of a prisoner who had been held in Crawford, who claimed she had received good treatment there. The woman had been imprisoned in Girard on charges of unionism and attempting to steal slaves, but was moved to Crawford because a mob had threatened her life. The only part of the town known to have sustained damage during the encounter was the jail, which was burned.

County Seat Change

The War brought a sudden halt to Crawford's growth. The government brought in by Reconstruction created Lee County out of the northern part of Russell County in 1866, and moved the county seat from Crawford to Seale in 1868. With the government center gone, Crawford's population soon dwindled. By the 1950's, there were few reminders of Crawford's distinguished past.

Today in Crawford

Today, though, Crawford is growing again. Spurred by the recent growth of Phenix City and Columbus, there has been a remarkable increase in housing construction in the area. Though not incorporated at this moment, Crawford has one of the largest populations in its history today, and look forward to the future.

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Sources:

Harris, W. Stuart. Alabama Place Names, Strode; Huntsville, 1982

Jones, James P. Yankee Blitzkrieg. University of Georgia; Athens.

Russell County Historical Commission. Russell County History. National Sharegraphics; Dallas 1982.

Walker, Anne K. Russell County in Retrospect. Dietz; Richmond, 1950.

World Book Encyclopedia, 1977.

"The Phenix Citizen," January-March What's Happening Section, 1993.

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