Historical Marker Program
Named for Thomas Basset, a British Loyalist and native of Virginia. Migrated to Tombigbee area from near Augusta, Ga. circa 1772 to escape persecution by American patriots. Received in 1776, from King George III a grant of 750 acres on the west side of river Tombigbee, five miles east of this site, where he established his residence and plantation.
Bassett also received a Crown grant to lands at McIntosh Bluff. He was murdered by Indians circa 1780 on the east side of Tombigbee near the creek that bears his name. As a minor in Georgia, one of his guardians was General Lachlan McGillivray. Numerous Bassett descendants presently live in this area.
Fruitdale Union Chapel
In the fall of 1902, two men and three ladies, A.J. Hand, George B. Davis, Isabella Youse, Abbie C. Mareness, and Mary Gooding, filed a declaration to form the Fruitdale Union Chapel Association. Property on which to build the church was acquired from the Fruitdale Land Company, C.F. Hitchcock, president, by a deed dated November 14, 1902. The ladies of the community engaged in various projects to raise money for the church. Materials were donated and men of the community did much of the work. The first service was held in the completed chapel on Easter Sunday, 1904.
Judge Harry Toulmin
Born and educated in England, Harry Toulmin came to U.S. in 1793. Moving to Kentucky, he was elected president of Transylvania University. Served as Secretary of State of Kentucky (1796-1804) then moved to Mississippi Territory as judge of Tombigbee District (1804-1819). Delegate to Alabama Constitutional Convention (1819). Wrote first Digest of Laws of Alabama (1823). Died at his home near Washington Court House (1 mile north of this location).
Near here in 1807 ex-vice president Aaron Burr was arrested and sent on horseback via Ft. Stoddart to Richmond where he was tried for treason and acquitted.
Weekly mail service to Natchez established in 1802.
First civil court in Alabama held here in 1803.
The ancient seat of the Tohome Indians. Included in first Choctaw Cession to the British, 1765, and thereafter granted to John McIntosh, a Scottish trader. Earliest American settlement north of the 31° in present State of Alabama. First County Seat of both Washington and Baldwin Counties.
Old St. Stephens Masonic Lodge #9
Charter and early members were: Gov. Israel Pickens, Col. Silas Dinsmore, Thomas Eastin, R. Chamberlain, Thomas Malone, J. F. Ross, Daniel Coleman, John Womack, W. D. Gaines, James Roberts, James K. Blount, Ptolemy Harris, F. S. Lyon, Micajah Brewer, John F. McGrew.
One of the nine lodges that organized the Grand Lodge of Alabama at Cahaba in 1821, however, Masonry existed here as early as 1811.
St. Stephens Lodge #81
After the decline of Old St. Stephens, a Masonic Lodge was organized and chartered here in 1854. Minutes kept and meetings held continuously since charter date at this site.
Charter and early members were: T. P. Ashe, W. A. Bailey, Thos. H. Bailey, F. W. Baker, James K. Blount, R. L. Bowling, W. F. Brunson, John W. Carpenter, E. H. Gordy, Jackson W. Faith, James G. Hawkins, F. C. Koen, T. S. Parker, Daniel Rain, Benton C. Rain, John A. Richardson, James White, Walter Woodyard.
South Oak Grove Baptist Church
Founded in 1880 as Oak Grove Baptist Church, the congregation added “South” to its name in ca. 1912. The church began under the Macedonia Baptist Association and, in 1919, joined with the Washington County Baptist Association. Among its many pastors was one, Brother J.W. Singley, who served over fifty years. Until Fruitdale High School opened in 1924, the church also served as a community school.
The community and the state jointly owned the property until October 1950, when Governor James E. Folsom and Washington County Schools Superintendent A.R. Meadows, for a promissory note of $50.00, sold the school board’s interest to members of the South Oak Grove Baptist Church and their successors. The church stands on the foundation of Christ’s love and meeting the spiritual needs of the surrounding area. [2010: Fire Tower Road, Fruitdale]
The Sullivan Cabin
The Sullivan Cabin was built on the east side of Bassett Creek, in 1874 by Gibeon Jefferson Sullivan, a Confederate soldier who served in Co. A, 32nd Ala Infantry, an all-volunteer company made up of men from Washington County. The cabin is a type of folk house common to south Alabama from the time of settlement until the end of the 19th century: a round-log, double-pen with dogtrot cabin.
The spraddle roof as seen from the gable end puts porches under the main house roof. Wide over-hanging eaves extend the roof beyond the chimney. Long logs on the corners of the pens at ceiling height extend front to back to support the porch roof. Logs are plainly notched without dovetails or chinking; battens cover the spaces. Timbers are hand-hewn (ax marks still visible) and some floorboards are as wide as 20 inches, with large sills in the foundation beneath. The original pillars probably were large round-log sections. The two back shed rooms were probably added later as Gibeon’s family grew.
The Sullivan Cabin
When the home was completed in 1874, Gibeon nailed three boards together to create a “cooling board.” The feature turned his front porch into a place of central importance to the Wagarville community. When a death occurred, the board was used by neighbors to transport the body back to Gibeon’s home where it was prepared for burial. As one of the few homes in Washington County with a cooling board, the Sullivan Cabin became a community gathering place where people came to grieve, pay respects, and find comfort.
The cabin remained Gibeon Sullivan’s residence until he died in 1914, when it passed to his grandson, G.G. Sullivan, who lived here until his death in 1960. At G.G. Sullivan’s death, the cabin became the property of D.K. Sullivan, who maintained it faithfully all of his life. His heirs sold the cabin to other Sullivan descendants, who gave it to the Pvt. Gibeon Jefferson Sullivan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in June 2009.
[2013: Alabama 56, Wagarville]
The Taylor House
Built circa 1843 by Walter Taylor on Commerce Street in Jackson. In 1985, it was removed from its original site to make way for a new City Hall Complex and was brought to this site and restored as the Leroy Branch of the Washington County State Bank.
Walter Taylor (1817-1886) was the son of Daniel Taylor, one of the original Commissioners of the town of Jackson in 1816. He was a prominent attorney, farmer and merchant and with his wife Amanda Caroline Lankford Taylor, founded the Jackson Methodist Church in 1842.
The Tombigbee Settlements
(Sometimes called the 14th Colony)
This area on the west side of the lower Tombigbee, as far north as Sinta Bouge Creek, opened to settlement pursuant to a treaty by the British with the Choctaw Nation at the Indian Congress held in Mobile in 1765.
The treaty was negotiated by George Johnstone, British Governor of West Florida, and John Stuart, Supt. of Indian affairs for the Crown, in West Florida. The settlements that followed became the beginnings of Alabama.
Some of the earliest settlers holding British or Spanish grants or American Certificates prior to the year 1800 were: Thomas Bassett, John Baker, Thomas Bates, Nathaniel Blackwell, Francis Boykin, George Brewer, James Caller, John Callier, Peter Dunn, Young Gaines, Dr. John Chestang, Daniel Johnston, Ann Lawrence, John Johnston, Thomas Malone, Jown McGrew, William Mounger, Cornelius Rain, Eguene Sullivan, Thomas Sullivan, Joseph Thompson, and Solomon Wheat.
First county in Alabama. Created in 1800 by proclamation of governor of Mississippi Territory. This was first U. S. civil government in area that was to become Alabama. Its original boundaries: East-to-west: Chattahoochee to Pearl River; South, 31° lat. (Present Ala.-Fla. Line); North, 32° 28', a line just north of Phenix City-Montgomery-York. From these 25,000 square miles have come 26 counties in Alabama, Mississippi.
Early history of this area. 1519-1700: Claimed by Spain as part of Florida by discovery, exploration, conquest and attempted settlement. 1700-1763: Claimed by France as part of Louisiana by exploration, settlement. 1763-1780: Seized by England as part of West Florida after defeating French. 1780-1795: Regained by Spain during American Revolution by invasion, occupation. 1795-Spain ceded area to U. S. 1798-U. S. created Mississippi Territory.
[Before 1965: Chatom]
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