Friday, July 17, 2015

Fantastic Find: The McAdory House

For those of us who have ancestors who lived in the state, Alabama Pioneers blog is filled with lots of great stories. A recent post about three historic houses in West Jefferson County that are on the National Register of Historic Places* caught my eye because one of them, the McAdory House, built in 1840/1, is most likely the kind of place my people lived in back in the 19th century, at least when they first arrived in the state.

[McAdory Plantation House. Photo: My Front Porch Photography via Pinterest]

For a description of what life was like in one of these houses, I turn to Philip Henry Gosse and his Letters from Alabama which give an account of the eight months he spent as a teacher (and naturalist) in Dallas County in 1838. It's well-worth reading the whole of his description of Alabama houses, outbuildings and towns, the first part of which is seen below.**

[Letters from Alabama, Philip Henry Gosse via Google Books]

None of my ancestors lived in Jefferson or Dallas Counties but I doubt that building materials and housing styles were significantly different across the region in that early period.

My paternal fourth great grandfather Henry Avery (1753-1836) moved from North Carolina to Huntsville in the northernmost part of the Alabama Territory*** in about 1818. By 1830 he had moved to Bibb County, closer to the center of the state, where he died in 1836.

[The State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory. 1818. Carey's General Atlas, Improved And Enlarged; Being A Collection Of Maps Of The World And Quarters, Their Principal Empires, Kingdoms, &c. ... Philadelphia: Published By M. Carey And Son.
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

[Alabama, 1831. A New General Atlas Comprising a Complete Set of Maps, representing the Grand Divisions Of The Globe, ... Philadelphia: Published by Anthony Finley. 1831. Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

By 1846 my paternal third great grandmother Timney P Watts Warren Phillips (1805-1863) moved with her second husband John P. Phillips and their family (which included my great great grandfather Jesse T.S. Warren) to Cotton Valley in Macon County**** where she and John  remained for the rest of their lives.

[A New Map Of Alabama With Its Roads & Distances from place to place, along the Stage & Steam Boat Routes. Published By S. Augustus Mitchell, N.E. corner of Market & 7th Street Philada., 1846. Entered ... 1846 by H.N. Burroughs ... Pennsylvania.

Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

[Map of Alabama, Georgia and part of Florida, 1863. The geographical reader, for the Dixie children. By Mrs. M.B. Moore. Raleigh: Branson, Farrar & Co., Publishers. Biblical Recorder Print. Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

*To see the National Register's Nomination Form for the McAdory House, look here [pdf]. The National Register's photographs of the building are to be found here [pdf]. The property is surrounded on three side by a wilderness area--a Google Maps street view is here.
**His description begins on page 151 and continues through until page 159 of his original book. Read it here. Gosse does note that there were a few houses built of sawed lumber but says that they were "mostly of recent erection." Note: the part where he describes what happens during a rainstorm is hilarious.
***Later called Madison County.
****Macon County was one of the counties carved out of what's labeled as "Upper Creek Indians" in the 1831 map above. The Creeks were displaced by the Indian Removal Act of 1830 signed into law by Andrew Jackson.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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