Marion County Genealogy
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Marion County Alabama History and Profile:
Marion County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. Marion County was created by an act of the Alabama Territorial General Assembly on February 13, 1818 . The county is located in the northwestern part of the state, bounded on the west by the State of Mississippi. It encompasses 743 square miles. Marion County was named for General Francis Marion of South Carolina. The county seat was established in Pikeville in 1820, and moved to Hamilton in 1881. Other significant towns in the county include Winfield, Guin, Brilliant and Hackleburg As of 2000 the population was 31,214. The county is a prohibition or dry county, however, alcohol sales are permitted in the city of Guin.
On March 3, 1817, Congress enacted a law that the eastern portion of the Mississippi Territory should constitute a separate territory and be called “Alabama”. Several of the present counties of the state were represented in Mississippi Territory and became Alabama counties upon passage of the law. Marion County was provided for in the Act of February 13, 1818 by the Alabama Territorial General Assembly and included all of the current territory of Marion County and parts of what is now Winston, Walker, Fayette and Lamar Counties in Alabama as well as certain land now included in Lowndes, Monroe and Itawamba Counties in Mississippi.
On November 21, 1818, election precincts were established by an Act of the Territorial Council at two places in the new county. One location was at the home of Scott Montgomery on Buttahatchie River and the other was at the home of William Leech on Luxapallila Creek. Returns from elections were to be made to the home of Jesse McKinny. On March 2, 1819, Congress approved an Act providing for the manner and terms of admission of Alabama as a state and Marion County was one of the 22 counties listed in the Act. The Constitutional Convention provided for in the Act met in Huntsville on July 5, 1819. John Terrell was the delegate from Marion County to the convention.
On December 14, 1819, by joint resolution of Congress, Alabama became a state. Earlier in the month, on December 6, 1819, an act of the Legislature provided for a tax for the building of a plain log Court House in Marion County. Until it could be built, the temporary seat of justice would be at the house of Henry Greer near Buttahatchie River. On December 19, 1820, the permanent boundaries of Marion County were fixed by the State Legislature and six commissioners were named to fix the site of the public buildings of the county; Lemuel Bean, Jobez Fitzgerald, Barnes Holloway, Sr., George White, William Metcalf and William Davis.
The territory now embraced in Marion County might never have been exclusively the lands of any one Indian tribe, but if anyone could claim it, undoubtedly the Chickasaws would have. In 1816, General George S. Gaines concluded a treaty fixing the eastern boundary line of the Chickasaw Nation. This line, sometimes called “Gaines Trace”, runs through Marion County from Northeast to Southwest between Hamilton and Shottsville.
The following article was published in the March 20, 1988 edition of ”The Commercial Dispatch” of Columbus, Mississippi.
The Settlement of Columbus: Columbus Once Was Located in Alabama
by Samuel H. Kaye and Rufus A. Ward Jr.
At the time Columbus was settled it was believed to be located in Marion Co., AL, Territory. Marion County was created from the western part of Tuscaloosa County on December 13, 1818, and contained the land west of the Sipsey River and then ran south from the mouth of the Sipsey River “to the ridge dividing the waters of Lookseopelala Creek, and the first large creek south of the same; and thence with said ridge to the Tombigbee River.”
The first seat of justice in Marion County was Cotton Gin Port on the Tombigbee near present-day Amory, Miss. On Dec. 16, 1819, the Alabama Legislature moved the seat of justice of Marion County to the house of Henry Grier. Grier’s house was located was located at the present site of Columbus Air Force Base (note: in 1997 I spoke with Rufus Ward and he said it actually stood where the main runway is located at the base) and was also the place where Monroe County was organized on Feb. 9, 1821.
Silas McBee of Columbus (son of Vardry McBee of Spartanburg Co., SC) was selected as Marion County’s first representative to the Alabama Legislature. In July, 1820, the Alabama-Mississippi boundary line was surveyed and it was discovered that a tract of land lying along the east side of the Tombigbee which had been attached to Alabama was really in Mississippi. Mississippi Gov. George Poindexter, in his message to the General Assembly of 1821, said, “It appears that a considerable population on the waters of the Tombigbee formerly attached to Alabama fall within the limits of this state.” By 1823, rivalry between the Cotton Gin Port settlers was resulting in calls for the Mississippi Legislature to divide Monroe County into two separate counties, an act that did not take place until 1830.
The original Charter of Columbus in 1821 established the Southwest Quarter of Section 16, Township 18 South, Range 18 West, Huntsville Meridian as the town limits. These boundaries were soon expanded to include all of Section 16. The Legislature called for the establishment of a public school which was to be funded by the lease of lots in the town. This leasehold arrangement has been the subject of legislative and legal activity ever since. According to Love, the first Post Office was established in 1820 with service on the Military Road to Muscle Shoals. An Act of Congress dated May 13, 1820, established a mail route “from Tuscaloosa by Marion County Courthouse to Columbus, Miss.” On March 3, 1823, a mail route was awarded “from Tuscaloosa to Columbus by Pickens Courthouse in lieu of the present route which is hereby discontinued.” By 1824 horseback mail service was in place from the county seat at Hamilton, through Columbus, to Tuscaloosa. This route was most likely along the Pickensville Road from the South and it was along this road that many of the first settlers to Columbus probably traveled.
A photo of a monument following this article states: This monument at Columbus Air Force Base commemorates the organization of north Mississippi into Monroe County, often called “Mother Monroe” because many other counties later were formed from the original Monroe County. The marker is located at the site of the home of Henry Grier (spelled Greer on marker). Grier’s house served as the county seat of Marion Co., AL from 1819-20. An additional face plate is shown called Alabama Justice of the Peace: Containing all the duties powers and authorities of that office, as regulated by the laws now in force in this state…The caption underneath states: Columbus was first thought to be a part of Marion Co., AL. Silas McBee, of Columbus, represented Marion County in the first state Legislature of Alabama in 1819. This book of Alabama laws was owned by Columbus’ first mayor, William Moore.
(Note: The area that is now Sulligent in Lamar Co. was contained in the MS land records for this period of time and was at that time a part of Marion Co.
Country Music Hall of Fame star Sonny James (James Loden) is a native of Hackleburg
Dixie Echoes founder and member Dale Shelnut is a native of Guin
Marion County is home to Winfield’s Mule Day festival, held annually in September. Also, the Jerry Brown Arts Festival is held each March in Hamilton. Guin its MayFest celebration the second weekend in May, while Brilliant holds its Coal Fest event every Memorial Day weekend. Hackleburg is home to Neighbor Day, held annually the fourth Saturday in April, an event that hometown Country Music Hall of Fame artist Sonny James attends every other year.
Cities and Towns of Marion County, Alabama:
* Bear Creek
* Glen Allen (part of Glen Allen is in Fayette County)
* Glen Mary (unincorporated)
* Gu-Win (unincorporated)
* Haleyville (the vast majority of Haleyville is in Winston County)
* Winfield (part of Winfield is in Fayette County)
* Yampertown (also known as Twin)
Marion County Government
Marion County Government – Official Site
Clyde Nix Public Library
350 Bexar Ave. W.
Hamilton, AL 35570
MCHS Community Library
8115 Us Highway 43
Guin, AL 35563
Northwest Regional Library
185 Ashwood Drive, P.O. Box 1527
Winfield, AL 35594
Winfield Public Library
185 Ashwood Drive
Winfield, AL 35594
Marion County Historic Places
Ernest Baxter Fite House
Marion County Genealogy Resources
If you are outside the state of Alabama and are looking to request copies of vital records you must contact the statewide office of vital records:
Alabama Vital Records
P.O. Box 5625
Montgomery, AL 36103-5625
Fax: (334) 262-9563
You can also call (334) 206-5418
There were no birth certificates prior to 1908, some counties may have recorded births in a ledger however. One way to search this centrally is by contacting:
Department of Archives and History
624 Washington Ave
Montgomery, AL 36130
Birth and Death Records have been recorded in Alabama since 1908, Marriage Records since August 1936 and Divorces since 1950.
1860 Federal Census Transcription – Eastern District p. 28
Genealogy Forums can be a great way to find other people that are researching the same ancestors as you are. Even if they may be not be researching the same direct line but related lines you may find information that is useful in your own research. Make sure to verify any other research that you add to your own research and try to document it well. If asking questions in genealogy forums it is good to provide as much information as possible and in the subject of the posting try to give name and a date or range of dates to help make your query more likely to be found. Posts with titles like “looking for family” or “help!” are too generic and something along the lines of “John Smith b. abt 1828 md. Hannah Jones” would be more helpful to get your post read by those that are interested in the John Smith/Hannah Jones family.
News Related to Marion County, AL
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