It's a new year and I've heard quite a few people mumbling about not being ready for school to start back. Over the Christmas break, I was trying to think of the best topic for my first blog of the spring semester. A familiar tune popped into my head and then it hit me! Not many people know the origin of their hometowns. What better subject is there to begin with than the town I live in most of the year?
Of all the cities in the USA,
You are the best and we're here to say,
You're on the map to stay."
At every step sing, Judson girls sing of their honor and love of Marion. In fact, without Marion, Judson would not be here today. This instigated a few discussions with Judy Martin, Judson College Development office, and Eleanor Drake, Judson's registrar, who are noted around campus as being the authorities on Perry County history. Ms. Martin loaned me Perry County Heritage by W. Stuart Harris*. This two-volume work not only taught me about Marion, but will inevitably give me plenty of reasons to spend a sunny afternoon reading. The rich history of the town took me back to pioneer days...
Upon winning the Creek Indian War, a substantial amount of land was surrendered to General Andrew Jackson on August 9, 1814. Five years later, the Alabama Legislature was rewarded some of the land and created six new counties. Perry County was named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a naval hero of the War of 1812. However, before the counties were created, pioneers had already begun to settle the area.
Michael McElroy, known as Michael Muckle, followed his father-in-law to the region in November 1817. Muckle's Ridge, his homestead, was built on the present site of Perry County Courthouse. Following the economic boom of cotton in 1817-1818, he sold the land to Anderson West, the first county sheriff. Muckle felt that the growing number of settlers was crowding his space. West was able to expand the original properties and in 1822 divvied his property into town lots hoping to increase his wealth.
Around the same time, a group of Perry County commissioners were selected to find another location for the county seat. Joseph Evans, a commissioner from South Carolina, opted to move the seat to Muckle's Ridge. Wanting to honor a war veteran from his beloved state, he recommended General Francis Marion the "Swamp Fox" of the American Revolution. The name was deemed an acceptable name for the city and thus Marion, Ala. came into existence. For several years, it was the only city in Perry County recognized on Alabama maps.
Hopefully, this new found interest in the town will inspire a visit to the area. Who knows? Maybe I will be the student ambassador giving tours that day. On behalf of Judson College, see yourself here in Marion, Ala.
*All of the historical research came from this book