Morgan County in the Late 1860s
By Dr. Bill Stewart
An Alabama Manual and Statistical Register was published in 1869. This was a short time before the community of Hartselle would be formed. Already, however, people from the rural areas of Morgan County were being enticed to come to its “heart,” due to the positive impact on economic life of ongoing railroad construction, specifically the North and South Alabama Railroad.
The Alabama Manual and Statistical Register was published with a view to giving renewed hope to people who were only four years out from a cruel Civil War and were currently suffering from what was identified as a “Radical” Reconstruction which sought to rebuild Alabama from a new beginning point with African Americans who were formally slaves sharing in political power on an equal basis with whites. But many of the whites with whom power was to be shared with African Americans beginning the next year (1870) when the 15th Amendment prohibiting discrimination based on race or their previous condition of slavery was ratified, were not the same whites with whom the defeated Alabamians had grown up with. Instead, they were “carpetbaggers” who originally had come South as members of the Union Army, liked what they saw and wanted to build their fortunes in the “new” Alabama.
One of the carpetbaggers was George Spencer who had, as a Union Army officer, come to North Alabama to recruit for Union service men who had opposed secession. They did not own slaves and didn’t want to fight to preserve it. Many of these were in Winston County but some were in Morgan as well. After the War, George Spencer made Decatur his home base but he politicked all over the state. He was so successful that in 1868 he was elected a U.S. Senator representing all Alabamians. Unlike 2020, when Alabama will again choose a U.S. Senator, at this time a state’s two senators were elected by the state legislatures. (The other carpetbag senator was Willard Warner who ended up as a coffin maker in Chattanooga.)
Here are few more ads from the 1869 Alabama Manual and Statistical Register:
People interested in purchasing lottery tickets should write to the Mobile Charitable Association. It advertises that it “draws all the favorite lottery schemes now in vogue in the United States.” (Alabamians have recently debating having a state lottery. At the time the Alabama Manual was published, lotteries were very common in this state and most others in the American Union.
- W. Offutt & Co., located on Perry Street (the street on which the Governor’s Mansion is located; at this time there was no Governor’s Mansion. Governors typically stayed in a suite of hotel rooms in one of the nicer Montgomery downtown hotels) advertised in the Manual. Offutt invited orders from throughout the state for “books, stationery, and music merchandise.” They say they can also supply “illustrated papers, popular music, and cigars” at “prices which defy competition.”
Another proprietor in the capitol city, Joel White, advertisers that he has “a well-selected stock of standard books in every department of literature.” He advises readers in every part of the state to “correspond with him in reference to whatever they may want in the way of books and stationery.” Mr. White is so well known that the only address needed is Joel White, Montgomery, Alabama.
Those who have printing jobs they need to have performed should contact the Franklin Type and Stereotype Foundry at No. 168 Vine Street. Bet. Fourth and Fifth in Cincinnati, O. They print “books, music, patent medicine directions, jobs, wood engravings, etc.”
Men who have been unable to find what they are looking for locally should write to Kirtland & Tourtellotte at the Capitol City. They specialize in boots, shoes, leather, and findings. Men who have taken the train from Decatur to Montgomery should look up the firm of Kirtland & Tourtellotte which is conveniently located at No. 7 Court Square (opposite Artesian Basin). (to be cont’d)