Today, Feb. 13, is an important anniversary in the history of Conecuh County. In fact, it’s Conecuh County’s 197th birthday.
On Feb. 13, 1818, the territorial legislature passed an act that formed Conecuh County out of what was then Monroe County. When you take into account that Alabama didn’t even become a state until Dec. 14, 1819, you’ll come to realize that Conecuh County is 22 months older that the state of Alabama. Since its establishment, Conecuh County has experienced numerous important events, and here’s a short list of what I think are some of the most important events in the county’s early history:
· Local commerce and trade kicked off when the first mercantile establishment ever built in Conecuh County was erected in the Belleville community by Robert C. Paine, who came to Belleville in 1818.
· The first post office in Conecuh County was established in 1818 when a post office was established at the store, tavern and stage stop belonging to Garrett Longmire. The stage stop was located north of present-day Burnt Corn along the Old Federal Road.
· The Town of Sparta was incorporated by the Alabama state legislature on Dec. 3, 1821.
· Evergreen Baptist Church organized in the home of George Brown on March 15, 1845.
· The government land office at Sparta, which drew people (including lots of lawyers) to early Conecuh County, closed and moved to Elba in present-day Coffee County.
· Local media can trace its origins to 1856 when the county’s first newspaper was established at Sparta under the management of editors Witter and McGinnis. Since then, a number of newspapers have been published in the county, including The Evergreen Courant, which was established in 1895.
· What eventually became the L&N Railroad began operations in the county in 1859, running from Montgomery to Pensacola through Evergreen.
· Conecuh County became a part of the Confederate States of America when Alabama seceded from the Union. The Conecuh Guards were organized at Sparta on April 1, 1861, and Pinckney D. Bowles elected captain. Conecuh County became part of the United States again when Alabama was readmitted to the Union on July 14, 1868.
· The Louise Short Baptist Widows’ and Orphans’ Home opened in Evergreen on March 8, 1863 as a haven for children of soldiers killed in the Civil War. The Rev. John W. Stewart was the home’s first superintendent, and the home moved to Troy on June 14, 1923 and was renamed the Alabama Baptist Childrens’ Home.
· During the Civil War, Union troops conducted a three-day raid in Conecuh County from March 23-25, 1865. They destroyed the railroad at present-day Owassa and attacked Evergreen, Sparta and Brooklyn. Sparta never recovered, and Evergreen became the most dominant municipality in the county.
· Evergreen became the county seat of Conecuh County in 1866.
· Conecuh County lost a sizeable chunk of its territory when the state legislature created Escambia County on Dec. 10, 1868 in the Reconstruction years after the Civil War. Not only did Escambia get portions of Conecuh County, but it was also created from portions of Baldwin County.
· Evergreen, which was founded in 1819, was officially incorporated on March 28, 1875.
· The Repton post office was established in 1881, and the Town of Repton was officially incorporated on Jan. 10, 1899.
In the end, these are just a few of the important events that shaped Conecuh County in its first century of existence and, of course, there are many, many others.