Travel the county to get a  perspective of its racial history

Travel the county to get a perspective of its racial history

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Mark Clark

Editor’s Note: Russell County has a long history that is important to the State of Alabama and its evolvement from an area described in the book “Russell County in Retrospect” by Anne Kendrick Walker as a “barbaric land” to what it is today. Many of the people who set their roots in the county in its early days including the state’s first Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress, important Native Americans who paid with their lives to cede land that created the county, a family that started a place of higher learning in south Russell County that later led to the establishment of one of the state’s most known institutions of education today and a former slave who placed a monument to honor his former owner, are very much important to the formation of Alabama. The story that follows is another of a series to inform you – our readers – about the history of Russell County. 

There are over 60 Historic Markers in Russell County and some of them tell the tale of the county’s racial history. All you have to do is traverse the 641 square miles of Russell County to find nuggets that will allow you to understand segregation and integration are not exactly as many history books would have you believe.




We have already seen that John Godwin was among the early progressive thinkers in our county when it came to slavery as it concerned Horace King. The story of Horace King gives many a new perspective of how some slaves and some former slaves felt about their masters and former masters. But, there are so many more tales of the racial divide and racial unification of this county.

By no means is this writer attempting to say there are no tales of embarrassment as to what the races have done to each other throughout Russell County’s history. There are many of those tales that we all would like to erase. This writer just prefers to dwell on the positive aspects of our history in this series on Russell County.

So, here are a couple of items you may find interesting when it comes to the early days of Russell County and of its race relations as we close out Black History Month.

UCHEE CHAPEL 



METHODIST CHURCH

This circa 1859 building is a very good and intact example of the temple front house of worship in the purest form of the Greek Revival style. It was constructed by L.S. Johnson at the same time as nearby Good Hope Baptist Church. The Uchee Chapel membership dates from 1836. An early log church building was erected in 1838. The first pastor was David E. McIntyre, by his second conference year, could report 124 white and 53 black members. The church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Erected by Uchee Chapel Methodist Church and the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, 1998.

The marker is located on County Road 22 north of Hatchechubee.

UCHEE/GOOD HOPE 

BAPTIST CHURCH, UCHEE

The oldest continually active church in Russell County is located on this lot. Good Hope Church was constituted July 29, 1837. The present building, as that of the Methodist church, was constructed in 1857. They are the oldest continually used church structures in Russell County. The builder was L.S. Johnson. The original sixteen members had the names of Jelks, Covington, Miles, Davis, Turner, Wallace, Ivey, Thomas and a slave of E.C. Thomas. Their number increased rapidly and for years the Church was the wellspring for Baptist activity in the County.

UCHEE

One of the oldest white settlements in the Chattahoochee Valley before and after the removal of the Indians; land deeds between whites date back to 1832, the year of Russell County’s founding. The name of the town comes from the Indian name of a creek which originates nearby. In its early years it was a cultural, political and religious center. Three academies were established in the area: Good Hope, Spring Grove and Andrew’s Chapel. Russell County’s first member of the Alabama House of Representatives, Nimrod Washington Long, was among the pioneers here.

Erected by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission and the Russell County Historical Commission, 1980.

The marker is located on County Road 22 north of Hatchechubee.