Historic Greene County
Greene County was first established by an act of the territorial legislature on December 13, 1819 - before Alabama became a state from lands ceded to the Federal government by the Choctaw in the 1816 Treaty of Fort St. Stephens. The county was named for the Revolutionary War hero Major-General Nathanael Greene. The county seat was initially the settlement of Erie, located on the east bank of the Black Warrior in what is today Hale County. By 1838, a combination of concerns over bad water, flooding, and outbreaks of disease contributed to the decision to move the county seat to a central location. That same year, Asa White, an early settler, and large landowner sold 20 acres to the county for a nominal sum of 50 cents per acre to serve as the location for a new town that would serve as the county seat. The town was named Eutaw after General Greene's greatest victory at the battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina. In December of 1838, Robert G. Qaurles survey the 20-acre plot and reserved a central square for the county’s courthouse and other judicial buildings, surrounded by a commercial center. Construction of the courthouse, located in the middle of the central square, was completed in 1839 by John V. Crossland of Greensboro with a grand jury building and a probate office being added to the square in 1842 and 1856, respectively. As the new community grew, the pre-1820 village of Mesopotamia, located one mile to the west of the new town was absorbed along with the surrounding planters' colony and Warrior River landings. At the height of the South's Golden Era that ran from 1840-1860, Eutaw was known across our young nation as a cultured, elegant community.
Bordered by the Sipsey river to the north, the Black Warrior river to the east, and the Tombigbee river to the west, Greene County was spared the fiery fate of nearby Tuscaloosa as Union troops marched south during Civil War. Only one skirmish along the Sipsey river near the community of Pleasant Ridge is recorded to have occurred during the Civil War - the outcome of which was a decided victory for the Confederacy. As a result, Greene County boasts over 53 antebellum structures, 27 of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, there are dozens of grand homes in the county that were built in the Victorian era.
Greene County has a history of being progressive; it has played important roles in the advancement of women equality, and civil rights. As early as 1846, two years before the first women's rights convention in America at Seneca Falls, New York, a female academy had been established in Mesopotamia where young ladies could pursue the study of Latin, French, and art through its academic department. In 1889, the Mesopotamia Female Seminary was disassembled and moved to a central location in Eutaw at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Main Street, where it continued to serve as an educational center for females. The building still stands today. In the latter half of the 1960s, the Courthouse square in downtown Eutaw served as a site for civil right rallies and demonstrations. The first occurred in 1965 following an address at the First Baptist Church in Eutaw by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was also in Eutaw, in 1966, that Dr. King presented his visions of connection and inclusion during his people-to-people tour. In 1968, it was from Eutaw that Dr. King called for a “poor people’s campaign” to march on the Nation’s capital. It was also from here in July of 1969, that Greene County made history when an election gave blacks control, for the first time in Alabama, of both the County Commission and the local School Board. The date of the vote would later be described as a watershed for black political empowerment in Alabama and it led the way to the appointment of Alabama’s first black female probate judge who served Greene County for an unprecedented 27 years.
In addition to being a center for the progression of equal rights for all, Greene County has a proud history of standing in defense of liberty. Among the earliest settlers in the county were patriots who fought in the Revolutionary War. During the Mexican-American War, the county contributed a company of volunteers known as the Eutaw Rangers. The company mustered in June of 1846 and participated in the Battle of Vera Cruz. Following secession in 1861, Alabama joined the Confederate States of America. Many citizens of Greene County joined the approximately 120,000 Alabama soldiers who served in the Confederate army. Alabama soldiers fought in hundreds of Civil War battles, including the Battle of Gettysburg where 1,750 died and many more were captured or wounded. Cemeteries located throughout the county have historic graves of colonial era citizens who lived when the Declaration of Independence was signed, and veterans of every major conflict including the Revolutionary War, Mexican-American War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Guld War, and Afghanistan.