Town of Athens
Dallas County, Alabama,
the Post Office of which town was known as
If you have any information
about this town or its residents,
please contact me. Thank you.
John M. Gwin
I started this page to record items that might help me in my search for the Town of Athens that once existed in Dallas County, AL. Whether it disappeared entirely or merely changed its name to another and still exists was unknown to me.
But putting this page together had given me indication, as you will see below, that the Town of Athens was located at the present-day site of Martin's Station near the intersection of Co. Rd. 21 and Ala. Hwy. 22.
Next we saw an 1844 map of Dallas County on which Athens appears some three miles almost due WEST of that site.
My great-great granduncle, Isom Gwin, owned property there before the Civil War. I believed he was buried there as well, and in July 2004, I became even more convinced when I found his grave! But with the discovery of this map, I saw that the town was located some three miles west of the cemetery where he was buried at today's Martin's Station.
And now, 1 Oct 2012, researcher Harold Walker has blown the whole thing open with his remarkable find of a three-page document from the US Postal Service which not only pinpoints accurately and without question the precise location of Athens but also proves that Athens and Liberty Hill were two different names for the exact same place, the former being the name for the local town itself, the latter being the Post Office Department's designation for its Post Office!
Table of Contents
of the Items on This PageItem 01--A Timeline Based on the Other Items
Item 02--Today's Locations of Athens Church and Athens Cemetery
Item 03--A Civil War Soldier's Record of Enlistment in this AAthens
Item 04--Letter from Ethyl Holley Nichols, a descendent of Martha Roseann Gwin of this Athens
Item 05--Transcription of a Title Deed to Property in this Athens
Item 06--Abstract of a Title Deed to Property in this Athens
Item 07--Discovery of a Grave of a Relative who lived near there
Item 08--Advertisement in the Dallas Gazette newspaper
Item 09--Clarence Howard Stewart's Master's Thesis, The Historic Towns of Dallas County
Item 10--1870 Census Query Regarding this Athens
Item 11--Obituary of Isom Gwin of Athens
Item 12--Query regarding the Mayes/Smyly family of this Athens, the graves of whom I found at Martin's Station
Item 13--1840s maps of Dallas County showing the locations of Athens and Liberty Hill!
Item 14--Record of deadly 1882 tornado in Liberty Hill
Item 15--two 1837 newspaper clippings of land sales near Athens
Item 16--correspondence with Suzie Hartman re Athens
Item 17--bulletin board posts by Fred Speyer and Jane Peyrouse re Athens
Item 18--correspondence with Jerry Crew re Athens
Item 19--correspondence with John Pritchett re Athens
Item 20--How to get there and a summary of my thinking regarding the location of Athens
Item 21--Jerry Crew's Report regarding his June 2006 search for the location of Athens!
Item 22--Mr. James Hammond's April 2004 timeline of the known history of St. Luke's Church
Item 23--Mr. Harold Walker's May 2011 letter regarding the disappearance of Athens and St. David's Church of Athens
Item 24--Mr. Harold Walker's Oct 2012 letter with the 3-page attachment that proves the town's location and that Athens and Liberty Hill were two names for the same town.
OItem 01--Let's put a timeline together based on the various items below:
1837--5 Aug: The weekly (Saturday) Cahaba newspaper, the Southern Democrat, advertises some land sales of plantation properties within three miles of Athens
1838--31 Oct.: Mary Jane Gwin is born in Dallas Co. to Isom and Mary B. Wilson Gwin--at Athens?
1840--Isom Gwin "(becomes) religious in 1840, and (unites) with the Protestant Methodist Church of which he (lives) a member till his death" (from his gravestone). I believe that it was this church that existed at or near Athens--now Martin's Station--since the St. Luke's Episcopal church of Cahawba wasn't even built until after Isom died. Perhaps this Athens Protestant Methodist Church burned or was otherwise destroyed around 1875-6, and its congregation offered to take the St. Luke's building.
1841--An Isaac Ransom McELROY, is born 6 Apr 1841 at Athens in Dallas County, Ala; this from Item 03.
1843--Martha R. Gwin is born 5 Apr 1843 (but gravestone says 1844) in Dallas Co. to Isom and Mary B. Wilson Gwin. According to the letter (item 4), Martha was raised in Athens. This means her parents and sister lived there as well, of course.
1850--2 Sep, Mrs. E.M. Wilson gives birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Ann Wilson (see item 7 below) in/near Athens.
--------18 Sep, M & M David Journey sell five lots on Main St. in Athens, Dallas Co., AL, to Isom Gwin and his brother-in-law, E. M. Wilson (see item 5 below).
1851--17 Jul, Elizabeth Ann Wilson dies and is buried; her grave is located at what is today Martin's Station, AL, and what I for a while believed was then Athens, Dallas Co., AL.
1853--Dec 7 (17?): When Martha is age nine or ten, her father, Isom Gwin, dies--at Athens--and is buried--near Athens at the cemetery of the church where he was a member. Isom's grave is located at what is today Martin's Station, AL, beside that of his daughter, Mary Jane Gwin (Mrs. William J.) Smith, and that of his niece, Elizabeth Ann Wilson.
--------22 Dec.: Mary Jane Gwin, 15-year-old daughter of the late Isom Gwin, is married to William J. Smith.
1854--The new building of the St. Luke's Episcopal Church is consecrated at Cahawba where it will stand for 22 years, until 1876, when it will be moved to its present-day location at Martin's Station., where I believe there was another church, the Protestant Methodist Church of which Isom Gwin was a member, across the road from which was--and still is--its cemetery. [JMG Note: This St. Luke's Church was recently purchased and, in 2006, was dismantled and returned to Cahawba where it is to be rebuilt.]
1855--15 Jan, William J. Smith, Administrator of the Estate of Isom Gwin, deceased (son-in-law of the deceased) of Dallas Co., AL, sold to attorney John A. Lodor the land in the town of Athens, Dallas Co., AL (see Item 6).
1859--Jan. 28, Wm. J. Smith and Chesley Gwin, Isom's youngest brother, are in business in Liberty Hill, AL (see item 08 below).
1860--Sep 7: At age 16 (17?), Martha marries Madison "Matt" Holley in Athens (or possibly in the Methodist church three miles east).
1870--At census time, William J. Smith and his wife, Mary Jane Gwin Smith (daughter of Isom Gwin) and son, Robert Isom Smith, are living in the census district of Liberty Hill Post Office.
--------A Stephen MEGGS and Penelope ETHEREDGE MEGGS were shown living in Severe Beat, Perry County, AL in the 1860 census and then were shown to be living in Athens, Dallas County, AL in the 1870 cenus (see Item 10 below).
1871--Mary Jane Gwin Smith, wife of Wm. J. Smith, dies and is buried beside her father, Isom Gwin, at what is today Martin's Station, AL, and where I once believed was then Athens, Dallas Co., AL.
1876--The building of the St. Luke's Episcopal Church is moved from Old Cahawba, the site of Alabama's first permanent capital, to what is today Martin's Station to protect it from floodwaters. But why was it moved to this particular spot? Was it thought that it would be protected here near this Town of Athens? Did the "Protestant Methodist Church" (see Isom Gwin's gravestone) of Athens burn and its congregation purchase and move this building to their church's former site? This latter question is based on the fact that the cemetery across the road from the St. Luke's Church was in use before St. Luke's was even built in Cahaba, so another church was likely located there. [JMG Note: This St. Luke's Church was recently purchased and, in 2006, was dismantled and returned to Cahawba where it was rebuilt.]
OItem 02--The Dallas County map I got at the Old Cahawba Visitors' Center shows an Athens Church and an Athens Cemetery, both near Crumptonia at the southern terminus of Route 21. (From Orrville, go west on Highway 22 about three miles to Route 21; turn left and go south about six miles to Road 960, which take to the left--east--about one mile. Road 961 turns right--south--and Athens Church is just southwest of the intersection of 960 and 961. Continue south on 961 about a mile to a creek, which follow west-southwest a little over one-half mile to the cemetery located on the border of sections 8 and 9 of what I think is Township 14 and Range 7.) This is NOT where the Town of Athens was located, however.
OItem 03--from: 1907 Census of Confederate Soldiers Living in Sumter Co. AL: http://www.geocities.com/coh41/1907SumterCoAl.htm
87. McELROY, Isaac Ransom; Present Post Office address: Cuba, Ala; b. 6 Apr 1841 at Athens in Dallas County, Ala; first entered the service as Private on 15 May 1861 at Corinth, Miss in 13 Miss Regt Co E and continued until 12 May 1862. Reenlisted as Private on 13 May 1862 at York Town, Va in l3 Miss Regt Co E and continued until the war ended, captured at Spotsylvania C.H., Va. Paroled 18 May 1865. Was elected 2nd Lieut in 1863 and served as such until the surrender.
OItem 04--Portion of a letter from Ethyl Holley Nichols, a descendent of Martha Roseann Gwin, which tells that Martha and her family lived in Athens, Dallas Co., AL.
Nov. 23, 1982
205 Ward St.
After reading your letter to my cousin Ina Pitts, and I am the oldest survivor of Martha Gwin thought I would add a few words of what I can remember hearing my father, Carlos Holley, tell about.
It seems my grandmother Martha (Matt) (Mattie) was raised in Athens, Ala. [John M. Gwin Note: This is the Town of Athens in Dallas Co. which existed for only a short period and then died.] by wealthy or well-to-do parents [John M. Gwin Note: These were Isom Gwin and Mary Burdine Wilson Gwin. Isom was a Justice of the Peace. He owned several slaves, but I don't know what he did for a living.], as all it seemed all she did was take music and attend schools until she married.
My grandfather married her in Athens, Ala (Madison Holley). He was in business with a partner whom he trusted with all his mind and heart, doing well so it seems, when he got the idea of coming to Marion in Perry County to go in business for himself. So his partner suggested he turn his share over to his partner's name and when he got settled in Marion he would return his half or share back to my grandfather in my grandfather's name. Of course you can guess the rest. His partner flatly refused and he was here broke and penniless from then on. He got a job as overseer from the rich slave and property owners until he died. My grandmother Martha, then learned to cook, wash dishes, and keep house and taught school some.
My grandfather kept planning to go back to Athens to kill his partner but took to bed with typhoid fever, which was fatal in those days, and while dying he was talking to his son Walter who was already dead...
...I am a widow of 22 years, and head of five generations at the age of 82. I hope after your ever get through reading this it might be a little benefit to you. Good luck and best wishes.
Ethel (Holley) Nichols
OItem 05--From Dallas County Book N, pp. 531-32:
On 18 Sep 1850, David and Sarah A. Journey sold five lots on Main Street in Athens, Dallas Co., AL, a total of about an acre and a quarter, to Isom Gwin and E. M. Wilson for $570.00.
A Deed from David Journey to Isom Gwinn was on the 19th day of September AD 1850 filed in this office for Record in the Words and figures following to wit:
The State of Alabama Dallas County} This indenture made this 18th day of September AD eighteen hundred and fifty between David Journey and Sarah A. Journey his wife of the County of Dallas and State of Alabama of the first part, and Isom Gwinn [JMG Note: This is Isom Gwin, the eldest son of my ggg-grandparents, John and Jane Gwin, and brother-in-law to E. M. Wilson] and E. M. Wilson [JMG Note: This is Ezekiel Monroe Wilson, the fifth child of my ggg-grandparents, N.B. and Jane Wilson, and brother-in-law to Isom Gwin] of the County of Dallas and State of Alabama of the Second part, Witnesseth--That the said party of the first part for, and in Consideration of the Sum of Five Hundred and Seventy Dollars to them in hand paid by the party of the second part at and before the delivery of these presents, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have bargained, sold, and granted and by these presents do bargain, sell, and grant unto the party of the second part and to their heirs and assigns forever the following described tract or parcel of land Situate, lying, and being in the County of Dallas in the State of Alabama, To Wit, the following Lots in the town of Athens and known in the plan of Said town as Lots No. two (2) and three (3) having a point on Main Street of one hundred and forty seven and a half feet and running back and Lots No. 6, 7, & 8 immediately East of Said Lots all together Containing one and one-fourth acres of Block (No. 9) To have and to hold the aforesaid tract or parcel of land together with all and singular the [hereditaments?] and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining unto the sale and proper use of behoof and benefit of the party of the second part and their heirs and assigns in fee simple. And the party of the first part for themselves and their heirs executors and administrators do hereby covenant and agree to and with the party of the second part and their heirs and assigns in manner and form following to Wit, That Isom Gwin E. M. Wilson, seized of and indefeasible estate in fee freed from all incumbrances done or suffered from the party of the first part and from any other person or persons and also for great enjoyment against the party of the first part their heirs and all persons whatsoever in and to the premises aforesaid, In Witness whereof, the party of the first part have hereunto set their hand and seals this day and date above written, David Journey [SEAL] Sarah A Journey [SEAL] The State of Alabama Dallas County ss Before Me AC Jackson an acting Justice of the Peace in and for said County Personally appeared the above named David Journey and Sarah A. Journey his wife who acknowledged that they signed, sealed, and delivered the foregoing deed in the day and year therein mentioned to the aforesaid Isom Guinn and E M Wilson for the purposes therein mentioned and this said Sarah A Journey Wife of the Said David Journey being by me examined apart from her said husband acknowledged that She so signed, sealed, and delivered the said deed freely without any fear, threat, or compulsion of her said husband. Given under my hand and seal this the eighteenth day of September AD 1850
Thos G. Raines, Judge [SEAL]
OItem 06--From Dallas County Book Q, p. 414-415:
On 15 Jan 1855, William J. Smith, Administrator of the Estate of Isom Gwin, deceased [John M. Gwin Note: This William Smith is the son-in-law of the deceased.] of Dallas Co., AL, sold for $1000 loan and $920 to John A. Lodor the land in the town of Athens, Dallas Co., AL, "beginning at the corner of Main and Cahaba Streets running South along Main Street seven chain and thirty eight links thence eastwardly three chains and thirty eight links, thence northwardly parallel with Main Street seven chains and thirty eight links to Cahaba Street thence westwardly along Cahaba Street three chains and thirty eight links to the point of beginning, reserving an alley at the point designated in the plat of said Town east and west across said Lots. Also an interest of one half in Lot number two and three in said town having a front on Main Street of one hundred and forty seven and a half feet and running back east one hundred and forty seven and a half feet and also lots numbered six, seven, and eight immediately east of said lots altogether containing one and a fourth acres of Block number One and also one half interest with the following lots in said town Viz: the lot known as the second half acre of block no. eight and the north half of the third half acre of block No. three containing three quarters of an acre."[John M. Gwin Comments: The first part of this deed is a rectangle of 108,657.8064 sq. ft. (1 chain = 66 feet, and 1 link = .01 chain; therefore, 7.38 chain x 66 feet = 487.08 feet, and 3.38 chain x 66 feet = 223.08 feet; thus, 487.08 x 223.08 = 108,657.8064); therefore, since 43,560 sq. ft. = 1 acre, then 108657.8064 / 43560 = 2.49444 acres (almost exactly 2.5 acres).]
OItem 07--3.2--Elizabeth Ann Wilson, daughter, b. 2 Sep 1850; d. in infancy 17 Jul 1851; bd. at the cemetery at St. Luke's Episcopal church at Martin's Station, Dallas Co., AL, where her gravestone, found in July 2004, reads, "IN MEMORY OF ELIZABETH ANN, DAUGHTER OF E.M. AND S.L. WILSON, BORN SEPT. 2ND1850. DIED JULY 17TH 1851."
OItem 08--From the January 28, 1859 edition of the Dallas Gazette:
At LIBERTY HILL, Dallas County, Ala.
by SMITH & GWIN
The undersigned respectfully announce to their friends and the public generally, that they will carry on the WAGON MAKING and BLACKSMITH business at their old stand, and they promise to give satisfaction to their customers.
They have a lot of Wagons, made by themselves, on hand, for sale. Also, a lot of Cary Plows.
They will repair Wagons and Plows, and do all other
Wagon and Blacksmith work that may be required.
WILLIAM J. SMITH
OItem 09--Stewart, Clarence Howard, "The Historic Towns of Dallas County." Master's thesis, University of Alabama, 1930.
The historic towns of Dallas County. Thank you, Cousin Bill Marable of Tuscaloosa, AL, who found and copied for me and sent me this paper from the University Library in Sep 2004. Unfortunately, it contains no references to Athens.Database: University of Alabama Libraries
Main Author(s): Stewart, Clarence Howard.
Title: The historic towns of Dallas County.
Publication Information: 1930.
Description: 39 leaves.
Dallas County (Ala.)
There are no Attachments for this record.
Database: University of Alabama Libraries
Location: Annex (use Holds/Recalls/Requests button for retrieval)
Call Number: T378 St4h 1930
Copy number: 2
Number of Items: 1
Status: Not Checked out
There are no Attachments for this record.
Database: University of Alabama Libraries
Location: Hoole Library Alabama Collection
Call Number: T378 St4h 1930
Number of Items:
Status: No information available
There are no Attachments for this record.
Item 10--Dallas County Queries | Jul-Dec 1998
Send queries to B.J. Smothers. Please put "Dallas County Query" in the subject line. Thank you.
MEGGS - DIGBY - FONDREN - ETHEREDGE
Looking for all information on the surnames of MEGGS/MEIGS, DIGBY, FONDREN and ETHEREDGE. All have lived in Bibb County, Dallas County and Perry County, AL areas. I know that the MEGGS/MEIGS moved to Texas between 1870 and 1880 as they are shown on the TX 1880 Census. Thank You!
I am looking for information on Stephen MEGGS and Penelope ETHEREDGE MEGGS who were shown living in Severe Beat, Perry County, AL in the 1860 census and then were shown to be living in Athens, Dallas County, AL in the 1870 cenus. In 1880 Penelope and their children are shown living in Hill County, TX. The census shows that Penelope is widowed. I do not find Penelope in the 1900 census. Can anyone help me locate as to what happened to Stephen? And Penelope? Where are they buried? They were married April 25, 1854 in Perry County, AL.
Reply to: Elaine Walton Lewis, email@example.com
OItem 11--Obituary of Isom Gwin, who died "at his residence, sixteen miles from Cahaba."
We know that his residence was in Athens, Dallas Co., AL. The distance from Isom's grave at Martin's Station to Cahaba via Hwy. 22 and County Rd. 9 is almost exactly 16 miles. But the distance using the routes shown on the 1844 map at Item 13 below is almost exactly 16 miles also. The other routes apparently did not exist in 1844.
Obituary from the Dallas Gazette, Dec. 23, 1853:
-- DIED --At his residence, sixteen miles from Cahaba, on Wednesday, the 7th inst., ISOM GWIN, Esq., in the 37th year of his age.
The deceased was one of the most valuable and esteemed citizens of this county; and by his upright conduct endeared himself to all his acquaintances. He was, at the time of his death, and for thirteen years prior to this sad event, a member of the Protestant Methodist Church.
Before his death, he gave the brightest assurances of his future reward in heaven. His last words, when friends and relatives were gathered round his dying pillow, were "Hallelujah! Heaven's already in view!"
He leaves a wife and two children to mourn the loss of a kind husband and affectionate father.
OItem 12--http://www.prairiebluff.com/forum/index.cgi?read=42 Dallas Co., AL Queries, Wills, Deeds & Vital Records: QUERY: MAYES, SMYLY, BELL
Posted By: Jeffrey A. Reed <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, 23 October 2000, at 10:21 a.m.
Researching these Dallas County, Alabama surnames: MAYES, SMYLY, BELL
Seeking any information on the Mayes & Bell families of Dallas County, Alabama.
I am a Dallas county Mayes descendant. My GGGG grandmother was Lucinda Mayes, a daughter of Robert Mayes. Another researcher was able to give the following list of Lucinda's siblings without any dates, but had nothing else. So far I haven't been able to confirm most of it (It's on my To Do list). Anyway, I thought that I would post on the chance that someone has the same line.
The three Mayes brothers from Olgethorpe, GA:
Thomas, Andrew, and Robert MayesThe Andrew Mayes family went to Union Parish, LA.The children of Robert Mayes:
The Robert Mayes family went to Dallas County, AL.
No info on the Thomas Mayes family.
1. Lucinda Mayes b. abt.1807, d. aft. 1851 m. James Smyly, Jr. b. abt 1802 - They lived first at Pleasant Hill, then Old Athens, Dallas Co.
children: John J. Smyly, Robert M. Smyly*, William R. Smyly, Caroline M. Smyly, Thomas Edward Smyly, Joseph Elias Smyly (my GGG grandfather), Charles N. Smyly, Margaret L. Smyly, M. Clemintine Smyly, Martha Smyly, and Lucy Smyly. I have a TON of info that I've found in my research on the Smyly's but Lucinda Mayes is my weak link.*[John M. Gwin Note: This summer I found two graves and recorded their stones' data.2. Malinda Mayes m. Charles Abercombie - moved to Texas
Robert M. Smyly is buried about 15 feet from Isom Gwin's grave at Martin's Station. His gravestone reads,
"Robert M. Smyly, deceased 1 Aug 1842, aged 15 years."
Beside his gravestone is that of an unnamed sibling. It states:
"-------Smyly, deceased Sept. 16, 1844, aged 6 1/2 months."
children: no info
3. Matilda Mayes m. John R. Bell who, along with their son John A. Bell, were killed in a duel after verbally defending their slave who was accused of arson at Cahaba. Lived in Cahaba.
children: Charles A. Bell, John A. Bell, Thomas Bell, and Lucy Bell.
4. Mary "Polly" Mayes m. Rynan V. Jones
children: Wesley Jones (killed in Civil War), Robert Jones (moved to Texas), and Thomas Jones.
5. Nancy Mayes m. Benjamin A. Taylor
children: Martha Frances Taylor, Thomas G. Taylor.
6. Thomas Mayes m. Catherine Boyd
children: no info
7. John S. Mayes m. Margaret Mobley
children: Sarah M. Mayes (who married her 1st cousin Thomas Edward Smyly), Robert Mayes, John Mayes, William Mayes (killed by R.R. in Selma), A. Snead Mayes, Annie Mayes, Lucy Mayes, Mary Mayes (lived at homeplace near Safford).
8. A. Snead Mayes (no other info)
9. J. A. Mayes (died in Texas)
10. Robert L. Mayes m. Clara Marshall, he was killed at the Battle of Seven Pines during the Civil War with a Mr. Rast by his side when he fell.
11. Martha Mayes m. (1) Morgan Milliard and (2) Steve Hooker
[18 Sep 2000]
OItem 13-- 1840s MAPS OF DALLAS COUNTY SHOWINGTonight a wonderful person I've yet to meet, Sonja Graham, sent me, in response to my query on ALDALLAS-L@rootsweb.com the address to the map you see below:
ATHENS and LIBERTY HILL!
I scrolled down until I found the following map description, whereupon I clicked on the JPEG option and enlarged the resulting map until the one below (top) appeared. I copied it to this site so you can see result.Main Author: LaTourrette, JohnThe grid lines on the 1844 map are township/range lines. Townships are six miles wide and run east and west. Ranges are also six miles wide and run north and south. So each of the resulting six-mile squares, also called townships, comprises 36 sections or square miles. The newer county map, second below, is marked with these same grids and the numbered sections as well. (Here's a plug: get your own copy of the Dallas Co. map at the entrance building to Old Cahawba.)
Title/Description: A Map of the State of Alabama
Publication Info: Mobile: John LaTourrette
Original Source: Rucker Agee Map Collection
Viewing options: JPEG or Plugin
Comparing these two maps, then, the town of Athens appears to be VERY NEAR the four corners (green point) where Township 15, Range 7, Sections 3 and 4 (in yellow) converge with Township 16, Range 7, Sections 33 and 34 (also in yellow).
To get there today, it appears that the fastest way from Selma would be to take Alabama Rt. 22 to Safford (circled in pink and highlighted in orange on the newer map), turn right (north) onto Route 5 and go about a mile and a half to the junction of County Road 109, and take it to the right (east) about 1.1-1.2 miles. It appears to me that the Athens town site would be on the left (north) side of the road.
The fastest way the get there coming into Selma from the west on U.S. 80 would be to exit U.S. 80 some 3.5 miles into the county at Route 5 and take Rt. 5 south about 9.5 miles to County Road 109, which take to the LEFT (east) about 1.1-1.2 miles. It appears to me that the Athens town site would be on the left (north) side of the road.
[JMG Note: In the summer of 2006, while searching for this town, I met a gentleman whose family has owned for several generations the land on what he says used to be the Town of Athens. He told me that today's Route 54 from Uniontown used to continue in a southeasterly direction from where it today meets and ends at Route 5 (before Route 5 was built), curving due south where it became Main Street in the Town of Athens, crossing (in the middle of town) what is today County Road 109 (then the Lexington-to-Cahaba Road) before proceeding south another mile or so to Safford.]
Other Dallas County town sites that appear on this map include: Bogue Chitto, Cambridge P.O., Carlowville, Centre Port, Johnson's Mill P. O., King's Bluff, Kings Landing P.O., Pleasant Hill, Portland, and Warrenton.
appears to have been in the exact same place in 1842!
Could it be that this
community was first called Liberty Hill, then its
name was changed to Athens--and then possibly BACK to Liberty Hill?
Hill-Bear Creek Bottom
"Every building was damaged or destroyed [i.e., by a tornado] in Liberty Hill. Several people were killed on one plantation."
This page shows two advertisements for the sale of land near Athens, Dallas Co., AL, in the 5 Aug 1837 edition of the Southern Democrat of Cahawba, Alabama, one by Mr. Solomon Adams, the other by Mr. Greer Johnson, and discusses the properties' exact locations.
OItem 16--From: "Susie Hartman" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed Feb 23, 2005 09:04:32 PM US/Mountain
To: "John Gwin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: cahaba, AthensI also have the cemetery records that you mention. I know that some of our Allens are buried in the old Cahawba Cemetery outside of the town.
My great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Allen Slater was born in Athens, but her grandmother, Bethaida Brown, also spelled Bertheda Brown, died in Athens.
At the bottom of the photos on your site [JMG Note: the Gwin Grave Photos Page] appears the name Allen. Josiah Tingley Allen was a stone mason who did quite a number of headstones in Dallas Co., including that of William Rufus King.
OItem 17--Liberty Hill, Alabama 1848
Posted by: Fred Speyer
Date: May 23, 2000 at 21:22:15I have a letter from my gggg-grandfather, John Bethune MARTIN, to his son, Atlas Jones MARTIN. John B. MARTIN was living in Holly Springs, Marshall County, MS. According to the letter, he was a farmer. Atlas J. MARTIN was living in Liberty Hill, Alabama. He was a school teacher. The letter is dated 25 Oct 1848.
I believe that Liberty Hill was a "beat" in Dallas County. Something like a "ward." It is broken down that way for the census. It may have been part of a "dead" town called Athens--not the current day Athens in Limestone County.
If anyone has any information on Liberty Hill or Athens, Alabama, in or around Dallas County, please let me know. Thanks! Fred email@example.com
* Re: Liberty Hill, Alabama 1848 Jane Peyrouse 6/12/00
* Re: Liberty Hill, Alabama 1848 John Gwin 4/09/05 Re: Liberty Hill, Alabama 1848
Posted by: Jane Peyrouse
Date: June 12, 2000 at 16:05:31
In Reply to: Liberty Hill, Alabama 1848 by Fred SpeyerMy grandfather, Walter Winn, son of Henry Jasper and Eliza Ellerbe Winn, was born in Dallas Co. in 1870. He sketched the area in western Dallas in the 1930's and included Athens as a stop on the railroad. One of his Pegues uncles had a place called Liberty Hill. The Winns, Ellerbes, and Pegueses lived close to St. David's Episcopal Church, unfortunately now burned to the ground although there are gravestones there.
* Re: Liberty Hill, Alabama 1848 John Gwin 4/09/05
OItem 18--From: "Jerry Crew" <jcrewatsbcglobaldotnet>
Date: Sun Dec 25, 2005 05:22:52 PM US/Mountain
Subject: FW: Athens & Liberty Hill, Dallas CountyJohnFrom: "Jerry Crew" <jcrewatsbcglobaldotnet>
I am an ancestor of the Pegues/Evans family of Wilcox and Dallas Counties in Alabama, and hoping that you may have come across any Pegues graves at the St David Church cemetery at old Athens. The Pegues had a plantation called ‘The Cedars” which was supposedly located near Athens or Liberty Hill. Both of these town names were used in the Censuses between 1860-1880.
I appreciate any info that you have concerning these ancestors of mine.
Date: Thu Jun 08, 2006 08:50:36 PM US/Mountain
Subject: St David's Episcopal church - AthensJohn
I communicated with you some time ago about the Pegues plantation known as “Cedars”, which I believe was located at or near Athens, in Dallas County, Alabama. I also enjoyed and appreciate your Web info about grave hunting and poking around that area in search of your Gwin ancestors. I noticed in one of your e-mails, from Jane Peyrouse (June 12, 2000) mentioned St. David’s Episcopal Church. My ancestral GG-Grandaunt Ann Eliza Evans Pegues was a founder of that church, and she is buried in the cemetery.
Next week, about the 18th of June, my cousin and I will visit the Athens ? Martins Station area (first time) and poke around a little in hope that we can find her grave. I know where the Athens-Martin's Station road is located on the map, but I need some guidance to the location of the old cemetery, and I certainly appreciate any info you could give to me.
OItem 19--From: "John Pritchett" <jpritchettatcolacolldotedu>
Date: Mon May 02, 2005 10:36:37 AM US/Mountain
Subject: AthensJohn, I am very glad to know that someone else is interested in Athens. I had wondered about the exact location for many years. I am a native of Marengo Co., AL, but have lived in South Carolina for 25 years, so I have not had the time to investigate the area. I have been searching unsuccessfully for the graves of Benjamin Adams, the founder of Athens, and other members of the Adams family. I am a descendant of Elizabeth Adams who married Andrew Niolon and who owned lots in the town of Athens. I really do not have any information about the town, but I would like to know more. If you have come across any Adamses buried in the vicinity, I would like to hear where. Thanks, John PritchettFrom: "Pritchett, John" <jpritchettatcolacolldotedu>
Date: Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:49:18 PM US/Mountain
To: "John Gwin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Athens, Dallas Co., ALJohn, Thank you for the information you sent me concerning the cemetery across the road from St. Luke's at Martin's Station. I was in Alabama the first of January and did make a quick stop to see if I could find any of my Adams family buried there. I had to climb over fallen trees and go through thickets and briars to examine the graves. It truly is a shame that the cemetery is in such shape. I saw your relatives but did not find mine. Perhaps mine were buried in a family cemetery on their land. I will keep searching. I did have time to contact Mrs. Mosely, but I will be returning this summer when I hope to have more time. Let us keep in touch. Thanks, John
To get to Athens from Selma, drive west on Alabama Hwy. 22 (Jeff Davis Highway). When you cross the Cahaba River, you will be on the map 8 below (northeast or top-right corner). You can follow the rest of these instructions on this map.
In a little less than a mile, you'll come to the turnoff to the left to Old Cahawba, the site of the first capital of the state of Alabama.
If you want to take a (highly recommended!) side-tour to Cahaba, turn left onto Dallco (Dallas Co.) Rt. 9 and go about three miles south to its end. Turn left again onto Dallco Rt. 2 and follow it east about a mile and a half to the park entrance. To continue on your trip to Athens from there, you can either retrace your route back to 22 and continue on 22 west (slightly longer from Cahaba) or you can take the slightly shorter route, staying on DallcoRt. 2 east until it rejoins 22 just east of Orrville.
Regardless, continue west on 22 for not quite three miles past Orrville, where you'll come to Dallco Rt. 21. Turn right (north) here, at Martin Station, and after you cross the railroad tracks about a quarter of a mile later, be watching on the left for the Azion Baptist Church. Turn in here and park.
This is the former site of St. Luke's Episcopal, the historic old church that was built in Cahaba (1850's) and later (1876) moved to this site. Ms. Linda Derry, Director of the Cahaba Preservation Project, received funding and assistance to move St. Luke's BACK to Cahaba--and in 2006, it happened! (Click here to go to the website for this project.)
Across the road from where you parked, hidden in the trees and brush, is the old cemetery for what I believe to have been the original church--before Azion Baptist and before St. Luke's Episcopal were there.
I don't know the name of this original church, but I feel sure:(1) it was a Protestant Methodist church;Here is some of my reasoning for these five statements:
(2) it burned or was otherwise destroyed;
(3) it was replaced in 1876 with the St. Luke's building which (a) either had already been abandoned as Cahaba lay dying or was about to be abandoned and its congregation sold it to replace the destroyed Protestant Methodist church, and/or (b) was in need of protection from the frequent floodwaters of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers;
(4) it was about three miles east of Athens; and
(5) it was a different church from the St. David's Episcopal Church of Athens.(1) Isom Gwin, my gg-granduncle, is buried in the old cemetery (which is still being used by Azion Baptist and others!) across the road.
(2) To me, this means he was a member of whatever church was adjacent to this cemetery at the time of his death.
(3) On his tombstone and in his obituary, it states that he was a member of "the Protestant Methodist church".
(4) His obituary also states that he died at his home 16 miles west of Cahaba.
(5) We know that he died in 1853, some 23 years before the St. Luke's building was moved to its present site in 1876.
(6) The 1850 Dallas Co. census lists him in the Athens beat.
(7) After his death, his executors sold his land which lay on Main Street in the Town of Athens.
(8) There was an Episcopal pastor in Athens, R. A. Cobbs, listed in 1850 as living at the Pegues home:500/500 Mrs. Eliza Pegues 57F 12,500 SC(9) There was a Methodist pastor in Athens, John Steadman, who would become a widower and marry Mary Burdine Wilson Gwin--the widow of my Isom! (Why, this is likely the pastor who preached Isom's funeral in 1853!)
N. B. 29M Farmer "
C. A. 22M Student "
E. E. 20F "
C. P. 17M Student "
S. W. 16M "
R. A. Cobbs 25M Episcopal Clergy VA
James E. Powell 27M Farmer NC
Dolly Pegues 15F SC715/715 John Steadman 47M Method. Cler 800 GA
Ruth 50F SC
James 27M Farmer AL
Robt. C. 23M "
Jesse 22M "
Elizabeth 12F "
The old Dallas Co. maps (item 13 above) shows Athens at the juncture of sections 33 and 34 (of Township 16 Range 7) and sections 3 and 4 (of Township 15 Range 7). As is duplicated there, I have shown this juncture in green on the map below, labeled "Athens" in orange.
.In the summer of 2006, just after Jerry Crew and his party returned from their visit to Dallas County, I also visited there. Jerry had emailed me (see Item 21, below) of having met a Mr. Givhan living just east of Route 5 near its junction with Route 54 and some three miles north of Safford. Mr. Givhan, an octogenarian and native of the county, had very graciously shown Jerry the very graveyard for which he had been searching. So when I arrived a few weeks later, I decided to look him up as well.
It was in the early afternoon when I located what had to be the Givhan property, and as I waited in my car near his barn, trying to decide what to do next, Mr. Givhan himself drove his pickup into the yard and asked me what I needed. I briefly told him of my connection with Jerry Crew, whom he remembered very well, and explained that I was looking for the town of Athens. He was in a hurry to get back to an important project, but he invited me into the barn nonetheless.
Leading me into what I'd call his office, he opened a long drawer and pulled out one of many aerial photos he had taken of his property--which evidently was quite extensive, perhaps even measured in sections instead of acres. He rushed into the next room to photocopy a portion of the photo for me, and returning, laid out the copy on the table before me and wrote a couple of notes on it. "Athens was right here," he began. "Long before Route 5 was built, what's now Route 54 came in from Uniontown, continued right on across where Rt. 5 is, and angled pretty much southwest down this fence row." He paused, drawing the line on the photocopy that enters in its northwest corner. "It crossed what's now the railroad tracks here and curved south, becoming Main Street of Athens, then continuing on down to what's now Safford."
"See this driveway here that goes east from Route 5 to a house right on that old road?" he asked, pointing to the southern end of a square on the photo with Rt. 109 to the north, Rt. 5 to the west, the old road to the east, and the driveway to the south. "That house there at the end of the drive is all there is left of Athens. It was built sometime after the War."
On the photocopy, below, one can see Mr. Givhan's pencil marks showing where that old road had been, the railroad itself, County Road 109 (which he labeled as the "Cahaba to Lexington Road", and in the photo's southeast corner, a portion of Route 5. Compare this aerial photo carefully to the map below it, and you'll see how they coincide.
I thanked him profusely, and before I reached my car, he'd jumped back in his pickup with the papers he'd come to get and sped off. That was the only time I met him. I learned some months back that he has passed on, but what a legacy he left for us all!
[John M. Gwin Note: Following is Jerry Crew's most interesting and valuable report of his June 2006 trip to find his family and the town of Athens.]
From: "Jerry Crew" <jcrewatsbcglobaldotnet>
Date: Mon Jun 26, 2006 08:33:25 PM US/Mountain
To: "'John Gwin'" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: St. David's Episcopal church - Athens
The trip was a great adventure and very successful. We made it home today, the 27th. On the 18th, my cousin Doyle and I met in Bastrop, La., and traveled on I-20 across Mississippi to Alabama. Just east of the MS/AL state line we exited I-20 onto US 80 and drove through Uniontown to Route 5, where we exited to the right from US 80 and headed south. Along the way we saw a huge number of catfish farms (lakes). Also we saw few old Plantation homes, and one in particular was exceptionally beautiful. Just past this beautiful old plantation home we turned left onto county road 109. Here at this place, we began in earnest, a slow pace, sometimes walking alongside the van in a determined search for the lost town of Athens, our Pegues ancestors' graves, and the plantation known as "The Cedars". We stopped several times and scanned the areas with binoculars seeking any evidence of a townsite or old cemetery. A fence along the roadway had "No Trespassing" signs, so that eliminated any intrusions onto the land. At the highest elevation point on the 109 county road, an old Baptist Church is situated with a small cemetery in the back area. No ancestors here.
We finally came into the Martin Station area, where an old house is sitting on the right side facing a railroad, and a home across the road from 109. We turned right on county road 21, crossed the railroad and drove on down to the Cahaba highway, state road 22. Here, we sat for a few minutes debating whether to re-route back down 109, or go on to Cahaba, or go to the community of Safford. The beautiful old plantation home would not leave my thoughts. We decided to turn around and drive back down the 21 road past 109 for a few miles. Shortly we found the old Church that you told about on your website. We waded through some heavy brush and found the old cemetery across the road from the church. No ancestors of ours were here. It was very hot now, in the late afternoon.
Then we drove back down the county road 21 and turned right on the state road 22 and went to Safford where we turned right and headed north on Route 5 for about eight and half miles where we arrived once again at this beautiful old plantation house. We pulled a short distance into the long driveway and stopped to view this place. A few minutes later an old truck loaded with some type of seed came from the highway and stopped next to us and wanted to know what we wanted. Doyle asked for the name of this place, and the guy told us, then drove on to the barn area. We took a few snapshots and drove away. We drove down county road 109 again and still did not find anything of interest. We went on to the old Cahaba townsite and visited with the agent at the Cahaba visitors center.
This fellow at the Cahaba visitors center knew a little about the Pegues family and stated that he believed the family plantation home was located on route 5 somewhere north of road 109. His description was a match for the home we had seen earlier that afternoon. After touring the old Cahaba site (my second time) we went on to Selma to spend the night. I could not get this old Plantation house out of my mind, and we decided the next morning that we would visit this place again, but this time we would be very brave and climb those steps onto its magnificent porch and knock on the front door. I had no idea what I going to say if anyone answered the door.
As we turned into the driveway that morning, we noticed two farm hands standing in the doorway of the barn, so we diverted our primary mission from knocking on the door of the house to talking to these farmhands first. As it turned out, one of these farmhands was the owner himself, and he was a direct line descendant of the Pegues. Best of all, he resided in the old house, which was built by his GG-grandfather James Pegues in the 1830's. BINGO! He took us into his house and we met his wife, who is a great representative of southern charm. This was not "The Cedars", but he would take us to where The Cedars once stood and also the St. David's cemetery where my GGGAunt Eliza Hodge Evans Pegues and her husband are buried.
After visiting with his wife, we put on jeans (we were wearing shorts and golfshirts), long sleeve shirts, and gloves. We drove north up route 5 for about a mile, then turned left onto county road 54. About a mile and half, we passed the Cedars homesite on the right side of the county road 54, where another house now stands. The long cedar-tree-lined driveway still exists, and it was gated and locked. Another quarter mile he stopped the van, and we exited on the left side and invaded the thickest woods I have ever seen. Vines, bushes and poison ivy, let alone all the unseen rattlesnakes. Above our heads was a huge bee hive. But we eagerly and bravely (and nervously) pushed on for about 20 yards from the road. There were several gravesites and one very large headstone. This large one had my GGGAunt E. H. Pegues, "Wife of Christopher Butler Pegues". Then we walked about 50 yards farther up the road, and our friend pointed out the site of St. David's Church. The site is only an open field and has no evidence of there ever being a church there. We had struck the lotto and found all of it in one fantastic trip--with the exception of the town of Athens. Our gentleman stated that he believed Athens was really the whole area rather than one town. I had forgotten about asking for "Liberty Hill".
My cousin Doyle was the official photographer of this family ancestral search mission, and he was very busy at this point. He lives in Houston, Texas, and he has all the photos, so I have none to display here at this time. He will have them sent to me as soon as possible.
This was only the beginning of our Ancestral journey, for we went on to Wilcox County, Alabama, then to Marlboro County, South Carolina, and found more of our dear ancestors. This was a nine-day adventure that I will always remember.
From: hgwalker51 at hotmail dot com
"Dismissed members to form new church on west side of Bogue Chitto Creek, namely Enoch Bell and wife, Ira Meadows and wife, James Bunyard and wife, Isaac and Josiah McElroy, Joseph Vann, Cornelia Walke[r?] (probably Cornelius--my note), and Mary Jones; appointed brothers Greaves and Pouncy to assist in judging the expediency of constituting a church in the neighborhood of Bro Walker. November 1831"If this church was be near brother Walker's, it would be near the present cemetery's location or on the west side of Hwy 5 . Had they said near Bro. McIllroy's, it would have been exactly where the cemetery now stands. At that time it appears the cemetery was located at or near McIroy's property. This a very far from the present location of Concord Church (which later became Safford Baptist). This is what brought about my contention that the present location of Concord Church was not its location in 1831.
John, I just received this email after an inquiry I made regarding the official archives of the post offices. It seems that your investigation was right on the money in the location of Athens/ Liberty Hill. Please find attached the conclusive evidence locating Liberty Hill Post Office.
It further reflects the validity of your suspicion that Athens/Liberty Hill were close enough to be considered one and the same. I had to share this with you.
With Kindest Regards,
GREAT find, Harold--this absolutely nails it down--thanks from all of us for sending it!Following, then, are those three pages and, should the jpegs fail, my transcriptions of each:
POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT,
TO POSTMASTER AT Liberty Hill, Dallas Co., Alabama
The (P. O. Dept.) name of my office is Liberty Hill
Selma, Ala July 6, 1869
My Present adress
It is requested that the exact site of the proposed or existing Post Office, as also the roads to the adjoining offices and the larger streams or rivers, be marked on the this diagram, to be returned as soon as possible to the Post Office Department.