Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pinson Alabama

Pinson, Alabama is a small out of the way community that even the locals in the area don't seem to know much about.  As of 2010 census, the total population was 7,163.  Pinson wasn't even officially a town until they incorporated on March 30, 2004.  

Downtown Pinson ca. 1911

When I decided to research the town, I was pretty amazed at the wealth of history this town has. 

For instance, did you know:

1. Pinson is one of the oldest settled areas in Alabama;
2. It was settled before Alabama was even a state;
3. It once was settled by ancient Native Americans (Creek, Muskogee)
4. Pinson is home to one of the oldest known (ca. 900 CE) cave dwellings & burial sites in the entire United States;

These are just a few of the interesting historical facts about the Pinson area.  How did Pinson come to be?

It would be impossible to tell the story of Pinson without telling the stories of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve and the the Greene Cemetery.  These two landmarks are so intertwined with the history of Pinson that to omit them would be omitting the majority of Pinson's history.

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is located just off Highway 70 past Pinson's Main Street.  This 466 acre Preserve offers free admission, hiking, fishing, swimming, an annual fishing tournament, marathon, boating event, it hosts the State's butterbean festival among many other great events and recreational activities.  They also offer hands-on educational events for local schools, boy scouts or anyone else wanting to know more about nature and/or history.

The rich history of Turkey Creek dates back to documented prehistoric Native American inhabitants.  During the early days of the Alabama statehood, the preserve played a key role in the birth of industry in this area by the works of early entrepreneur and industrialist, David Hamby.  The Hamby family ran a grist mill and a small iron forge on the banks of the Turkey Creek.  David Hamby's forge made horseshoes for the Confederacy until he was killed by a Union Soldier on April 19, 1865. 

Turkey Creek is home to 3 endangered species of fish.  

The Vermilion Darter  (occurs only in Turkey Creek and nowhere else in the world.)

the Watercress Darter

 and the Rush Darter.

Turkey Creek is also home to a threatened bat species (long eared bat), 

an endangered bat species (Grey Bat), 

an endangered turtle (Flattened Musk Turtle) 

and an endangered flower (Eared Coneflower).  

This makes  a total of 7 protected species that can be found at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, making it one of the most critical habitats for rare species in the entire country.

Woodland Period Cave

Turkey Creek Falls Swimming hole is one of the most popular swimming holes in the state.

Greene Cemetery 
(aka Greene's Station Cemetery, Greene Family Cemetery, Greene-Massey Cemetery or Smith's Chapel Cemetery)

Greene Cemetery reads like a Who's Who of the early pioneers of Jefferson County Alabama.  It's located on Kent road next to Kent Corporation near the main campus of Jefferson State Community College on Highway 79.  It's adjacent to, but not affiliated with, the Smith's Chapel Methodist Church on the Old Huntsville Rd.  This area began to be settled in 1817 and many of the early pioneers and slaves are buried in this cemetery.

The cemetery began as a family cemetery for the Greene family who owned a considerable amount of land holdings in the area.  The oldest known burial is 1829.  However, 2 of the oldest residents are that of Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt (a veteran of the American Revolutionary War) who died in 1846 and George Nash who died in 1852.  George Nash was the father of Zachariah Hagood's first wife, Nancy Nash.

Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt's son (Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt, Jr.) was a Captain in the Confederacy, graduated from Cumberland School of Law (when it was in Lebanon, TN), served in the State House of Representatives, The State Senate and as a Congressman from 1875-1895).  He died on May 27, 1895.
Photo of Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt, Jr.

Originally the land between Tarrant and Pinson was known as Greene's Station.  Brothers George Livingston Green and Robert Hardy Green both built large plantations in the area.

Headstone of George Livingston Greene (died 6-22-1875)

The cemetery is the final resting place of Zachariah Hagood who was one of the earliest physicians in Jefferson County.  He practiced from 1840 to 1856.  Zachariah had 21 children from 3 wives.  His son Robert built a store at the crossroads next to Huntsville road in 1836 which also functioned as the first post office for that area.  Soon that area was known as Hagood's Crossroads.
Headstone of Zachariah Hagood (11-21-1792 to 2-21-1875)

However, horse traders settling there from Pinson, Tennessee soon outvoted the Hagood's and it became known as Mount Pinson which was later shortened to Pinson in 1895.

Another permanent resident of the Greene Cemetery is Thomas Haughey.  He was a physician who owned land in Pinson.  He served as a Republican Congressman in the years following the civil war.  He was assassinated in Courtland, Alabama while making a speech in 1869.

Pinson, Alabama is a scenic area with rolling hills, deeply wooded plots that go on for miles and historical treasures tucked in along the way.

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