History of Mobile, Alabama

History of Mobile, Alabama

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One of the oldest cities in the United States, Mobile is the seat of Mobile County in the southwestern corner of Alabama along InterstateHighway 10, on the banks of the Mobile River.As a port city, its influences were shaped by the varied cargoes and exotic travelers that constantly passed through.Founded in 1702 as Fort Louis de la Mobile, the city was ruled by the French (1702-1762). In 1723, the French built Fort Conde for the settlement's defense. Bicentennial celebration.After the French, the English (1763-1780) ruled, and then the Spanish did until 1814 when it became a U.S. possession.For almost the next half century, Mobile enjoyed prosperity as the second largest international seaport on the Gulf Coast. Progress was based upon cotton, shipped downriver by flatboat or steamboat from cotton growing centers in Mississippi and Alabama.During this period Mobile was declared an archdiocese of the Catholic Church. The Mobile & Ohio Railroad, connecting Mobile with Columbus, Kentucky and passing through Atmore, Alabama, along the Florida border, was completed just in timefor the Civil War. The Museum of Mobile is located in the 1850 Southern Market/Old City Hall, built during the antebellum era.In 1860, the Clotilde, the last known ship to arrive in the Americas with a cargo of slaves, was abandoned by its captain near Mobile. The members of thiscommunity retained their African customs and language well into the 20thcentury.The city, fortified and held by the Confederates, was blockaded during the Civil War by Farragut's "West Gulf Blockading Squadron." The Battle of Mobile Bay, in August 1864, was a Union victory, but the city held out for another nine months.The harbor was reconstructed after the war. In the years that followed, especially during World War II, ship-building became a major industry.Workers from distant areas moved into the city to fill jobs on the waterfront and many stayed after the war's conclusion. The city formally twinned with the Japanese city of Ichihara on November 10, 1993.Museums abound in Mobile. Mobile's official house museum is Oakleigh, operated by the Historic Mobile Preservation Society. Nearby is theCox-Deasy Creole House Museum, built around 1850. The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park highlights several ships of the U.S. Navy, which have carried this famous name.The Mobile Museum of Art in Langan Park is a service of the City of Mobile. The Gulf Coast Exploreum is a regional science centerproviding interactive exhibits and big screen movies.The Mobile Regional Airport, also known as Brookley Field, traces its aviation history 10 years before Kitty Hawk, to a time when a local inventor used the site for heavier-than-air flight experiments.The University of Southern Alabama, founded in 1963, is one of Alabama's fastest growing universities. Mobile also is served byBishop State Community College. Mobile Infirmary Medical Center has been providing medical services to local residents since 1910.

History of Mobile, Alabama - History

From its beginning, this beautiful century old landmark has boasted a rich history and elegant heritage in the port city of Mobile, Alabama. In 1910, Dr. Parker Glass broke ground and built the 8,000 sq. foot stone, villa-style home.

By the late 1920's Dr. Parker sold the home to Señor Guillermo (William) Valenzuela, a Guatemalan counsel-general to Mobile. Señor Valenzuela's family resided at the home until 1939. In 1939, the stately family mansion was converted to a boarding house for young women during World War II to live while their husband's were away at war. Later, the mansion opened as "The Grey Stone Lodge, For Discriminating Tourists".

After several years of vacancy, in 1976, Filippo Milone purchased the home, restored it and opened "The Pillars Restaurant". This upscale dining facility catered to Gulf Coast Diners and Tourists for the next 26 years solidifying its history in the hearts and minds of the good people of Mobile and its surrounding areas. In 2002, Milone retired and sold the business to Matt and Regina Shipp. The Shipps opened "Justine's at The Pillars." The restaurant successful thrived for 8 years. In 2011, Bill Cutts purchased the century-old landmark. Cutts began necessary repairs, which were completed in 2013.

On April 1, 2015, The Pillars of Mobile, A Great Southern Event Venue opened. Heather Pfefferkorn is the proud operator of this magnificent venue. She has created a modern feel to this historic landmark, allowing clients to create their dream event.

The Pillars has large windows which permit a wealth of natural light. High ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, historic Bellingrath tiles and eight fire places made of either marble or mahogany all add to the ambience. The atrium is adorned with a large 150 year old stained glass window rumored to have been acquired from and undisclosed brothel in New Orleans. In addition to the main event space, there is a built-in-bar and reception area adorned with an antique Steinway Baby Grand Piano.

Port of Mobile

New Cranes at Alabama State Docks Situated between the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers and the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile's port has historically served as a shipping center for much of Alabama's commercial products, particularly cotton, timber, and coal. As Alabama's only port city, Mobile reaped the benefits of the antebellum cotton boom. In the decades after the Civil War, Mobile struggled to diversify its exports and move away from the declining cotton markets while city officials lobbied for large-scale investments in the city's port and harbor facilities. During the two world wars, Mobile's port became a center of shipbuilding for the region. Since World War II, the port has expanded and diversified more than at any point in its 300-year history. Forest Products at the Port of Mobile Early explorers recognized the strategic importance of Mobile Bay, from which they could move deep into the interior of the New World while maintaining a direct water route back to their ocean-going vessels in the Gulf. In 1702, the Le Moyne brothers established a settlement called Mobile approximately 30 miles up the Mobile River from Dauphin Island, which was one of the barrier islands protecting Mobile Bay. In 1711, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the younger of the two brothers, relocated the settlement at its current location at the terminus of the Mobile River so that they could be closer to the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the colonial era, Mobile Bay had a relatively shallow channel that prevented large cargo vessels from docking in Mobile. Larger cargo and passenger ships were offloaded at Dauphin Island to smaller ships, often called lighters, and transported into Mobile. This trend continued through Mobile's three colonial occupiers: the French, British, and Spanish. In the earliest years, colonists constructed a long wooden pier, called the King's Wharf, at Mobile's waterfront it extended over the shallow waters and marshes in the bay into the Mobile River. Larger vessels could unload their cargo at the end of the pier, but most oceangoing vessels still had to unload their cargo on Dauphin Island. Tensaw River at Blakeley State Park A more troublesome problem was shifting power relations and thus control of the extensive system of rivers that flowed into Mobile Bay by different European nations and Native American groups rather than by the city itself. These conditions severely limited access to the interior's rich resources until the consolidation of the Mississippi Territory and the U.S. annexation of West Florida in the 1810s. When Mobile became part of the United States in 1813, the fledgling city's port was finally connected with the river basin above it. New steam-powered vessels began to carry cotton and other commodities from the Black Belt downriver, and large storage warehouses and shipping companies soon covered the waterfront. The shallow waters of Mobile Bay, however, continued to hamper shipping. Even small draft vessels had difficulty navigating the waters and relied on local bar pilots to safely navigate their ships into Mobile. The shallow harbor around Mobile gave rise to a boomtown called Blakeley, located on the opposite side of the Tensaw River, which briefly posed a commercial threat to Mobile because of its deeper and more accessible port. H. L. Hunley Despite the blockade, blockade runners brought some supplies through. In 1862, when Union forces occupied New Orleans, entrepreneurial naval designer Horace L. Hunley destroyed his prototype submarine, named Pioneer, and relocated to Mobile to begin work on what would become the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, the H. L. Hunley. After the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864, the U.S. Navy took complete control of the port, and Navy mine sweepers then spent some eight months clearing Mobile Bay of the remaining mines placed by the Confederates. The interruption of supplies shipped in by blockade runners brought even worse economic conditions to the city. Finally, on April 12, 1865, the city's mayor, Robert H. Slough, surrendered Mobile to advancing Union troops. Cargo Ship Loading Forest Products at Port of Mobile From 1880 to 1915, the federal government spent more than $7 million on improving Mobile's harbor. Between 1880 and 1886, Maj. Andrew Damrell, a native of Massachusetts, oversaw an extensive dredging project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that deepened the ship channel to 17 feet. By 1890, the channel reached a new depth of 23 feet, enabling, for the first time, deep-draft ocean-going vessels to dock at Mobile's port. At the same time, expanded railroad access and federally funded improvements to river navigation made it easier to ship goods to the port. Also during this period, timber exports revived Mobile's waterfront, with more than one billion feet of lumber shipped in 1889 alone. Other major export items included local seafood and oysters, and by 1893 Mobile also had become one of the largest importers of fruit from Latin America. Waterman Steamship Concerned about the deficiencies of Mobile's shipbuilding and ship repair industries, Mobile businessmen Walter Bellingrath, John Waterman, and C. W. Hempstead established in 1919 the Waterman Steamship Corporation, which became one of the largest shipping companies in the world. Its creation helped spur renewed interest in building up Mobile's port facilities. In addition, local politicians lobbied the Alabama legislature to establish a state dock in the port city. In 1922, the legislature authorized construction of the Alabama State Docks and Gov. William Brandon appointed the first State Docks Commission. Retired general William L. Sibert, famed for his work on the Panama Canal, supervised construction of the state docks on a 500-acre site north of the city's waterfront. The docks, which opened in 1928, more than doubled the city's commercial shipping capacity. World War II Ship Production During World War II, wartime needs prompted unprecedented growth in the port facilities. ADDSCO increased its number of workers more than tenfold, and the nearby Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation installed new, larger drydocks. During the war, the city's waterfront workforce increased to more than 89,000. Workers from throughout the state and region sought employment there, including Herbert and Stella Aaron, the parents of future baseball star Henry "Hank" Aaron, and country music pioneer Hank Williams. The demand for ships also opened new avenues of employment for African Americans and women. During the war, more than 200 ships were built in Mobile shipyards, but the end of the war brought a decline in activity along Mobile's port. During the 1950s and 1960s, well-established companies such as ADDSCO and the Waterman Steamship Corporation curtailed their activities or merged with larger companies located elsewhere. In 1971, the Alabama legislature authorized the construction of a $16 million coal terminal on McDuffie Island in Mobile Bay, increasing the amount of coal that could be shipped quickly from Mobile. In 1975, the Alabama State Docks received a $45 million bond issue for internal improvements and expansion.

Austal Shipyard in Mobile Shipping and shipbuilding remain of vital importance to Mobile's port, which continues to attract new investments to the city as it expands. In 2010, the Alabama State Port Authority (Alabama State Docks) shipped more than 23 million tons of material from Mobile. AM/NS Calvert, a multinational steel corporation that owns a large refinery in north Mobile County, has a shipping terminal on Pinto Island. There is a coal terminal on McDuffie Island and a U.S. Coast Guard training facility on Little Sand Island. In recent years, Austal USA, one of the largest shipbuilders on the Gulf Coast, received a multi-billion dollar contract to build several littoral combat ships—high-speed, shallow draft warships—for the United States Navy. The first vessel completed in Mobile was the USS Independence (LCS 2), in 2009. Another large investment, the Choctaw Point Container Terminal, is currently under construction. Once completed, it will ship more than 75,000 containers annually. The Port of Mobile is the nation's ninth largest port. Currently, its most frequent import and export commodities are coal, aluminum, iron, steel, lumber, wood pulp, and chemicals.

Descendants of Last Slave Ship Still Live in Alabama Community

For most black Americans descended from enslaved Africans, there’s no way of tracing back where their ancestors came from. There’s also no way of discovering, as Malcolm X਎mphasized, their “true family name.” The slave trade ripped families apart, and records from slave ships and plantations often identified enslaved people with multiple or incomplete names. It’s extremely difficult to connect the freed black Americans first named on the 1870 census to their enslaved ancestors𠅊 problem known as the 1870 Brick Wall.

Given this systematic erasure, the story of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to reach the U.S., occupies a profoundly unique place in the history of the transatlantic slave trade.

There were roughly 110 African children, teenagers, and young adults on board the Clotilda when it arrived in Alabama in 1860, just one year before the Civil War. Unable to return to Africa after emancipation on June 19, 1865𠅊ka Juneteenth—they left records and gave interviews about who they were and where they came from that survive today. The musician Questlove is descended from survivors of the ship, and when he discovered this on the genealogy show Finding Your Roots, historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., told him, “You hit the jackpot.”

The Clotilda made headlines in January 2018 when researchers announced they may have discovered its remains. Though they later determined the vessel they𠆝 found wasn’t the Clotilda, the event sparked renewed interest in finding the ship. In May 2018, Harper Collins published Zora Neale Hurston’s “lost” interview with Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of the ship, who died in 1935. These developments have brought more attention to Clotilda survivors as well as to African Town, the community they built for themselves in Alabama.

An aerial photo taken Tuesday, January 2, 2018, in Mobile, Alabama, of what was though to be the Clotilda, the last slave ship documented to have delivered captive Africans to the United States. (Credit: Ben Raines/ via AP)

Even though slavery was still legal in 1860, the international slave trade was not, and hadn’t been since 1808. But southern white men broke the law by importing captured Africans long after the practice was banned, and even viewed their evasion of the law as a source of pride. Mobile businessman Timothy Meaher organized the Clotilda voyage after making a bet that he could, as he put it, 𠇋ring a shipful of n*****s right into Mobile Bay under the officers’ noses.”

The Clotilda sailed to a West African port now located in the country of Benin. There, the captain bought people from the Benin region like Cudjo Lewis. Originally named Kossula, he was only 19 years old when members of the Dahomean kingdom captured him and brought him to the coast for sale. In Alabama, Meaher sold some of the Africans, but divided up most between himself, his two brothers and the ship’s captain—none of whom were ever convicted for their crimes.

Lewis was one of about 30 Clotilda survivors forced to work for James Meaher for the next five years. When news of emancipation reached this group in 1865, “the first thing they wanted to do was to go back home,” Diouf says. Meaher didn’t provide them with passage back to Africa, and they soon realized that they wouldn’t be able to earn the money for their passage themselves.

Understanding that they would have to find a place to live in the U.S., they decided to ask Timothy Meaher to provide a form of reparations. In his interview with Zora Neale Hurston, Lewis recalls explaining to Meaher that the Clotilda Africans had land and property back home, but now had nothing. Couldn’t Meaher give them a piece of his own land as compensation for the lives and free labor he𠆝 stolen from them?

According to Lewis, Meaher responded: “𠆏ool do you think I goin’ give you property on top of property? I tookee good keer my slaves and derefo’ I doan owe dem nothin.’”

Rebuffed by Meaher, the group resolved to work hard and save money in order to buy some land from him, which they did (Lewis noted dryly to Hurston that Meaher didn’t even “take off one five cent from de price for us.”) With this and other land they purchased, they built a community called African Town. Today, it exists as the historic site �ricatown” in Mobile, Alabama, where many Clotilda descendants still live.

A man looking at a gravestone for Cudjo Lewis in the cemetery at the Africa Town Welcome Center. (Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

“They decided that if you won’t send us home, we’ll build Africa here in Alabama,” says Robert Battles, Sr., former executive director of the Historic Africatown Welcome Center. “In the midst of Jim Crow, segregation, and reconstruction, they built a free society controlled and run by Africans.”

“I think that what this particular story is about is really the unity of the people who were on the ship,” Diouf says. 𠇋ut their story is also the story of all the Africans who arrived through the slave trade … We see the unity, the strong bond between the people who were on slave ships, and the link also to their families back home that was never broken in people’s mind.”

As the Clotilda survivors made a new home for themselves in Alabama, they continued to hope they𠆝 see their families again one day.

“They were saying that they knew that their families in Africa had been looking for them,” Diouf says. 𠇊nd when they were interviewed, their wish was for the interviewers to give their African names, their original names, so that if the story could ever go to Africa, their families would know that they were still alive.”

After the Clotilda’s voyage to Africa, Meaher burned the ship in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta to destroy the evidence of the illegal journey. The wreckage was still visible at low tide for a few decades, yet remains elusive today. Recent speculation about the location of the ship has brought national attention to issues in Africatown, such as its lawsuit against an industrial plant for generating cancer-causing pollution. This spring, the community secured a grant to build a museum, and many researchers and organizations remain interested in searching for the Clotilda.

300 Years of French Culture in Alabama

Steve Murray: Mobile predates New Orleans! A military fort and a village nicknamed “La Mobile” were founded in 1702 by two French-Canadian brothers, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne. The colony was the first permanent European settlement on the Gulf of Mexico and remained the capital of the French Louisiana territory until 1720. The first Mardi Gras ever recorded in American history was organized in Mobile. But in 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War – also known as the French and Indian War in North America – and France ceded to Great Britain its territories east of the Mississippi. The French left Alabama and retreated to New Orleans, which had become the capital of French Louisiana in 1722.

Did the French explore other regions of what is now Alabama?

In 1717, French explorers and settlers traveled up the Alabama River from Mobile and established Fort Toulouse near a Native Creek village at the confluence of two rivers near the present town of Wetumpka, twenty miles north of Montgomery, the present-day state capital. Staking a claim to the interior of what would become Alabama and beating British and Scottish traders who had begun to come overland from the Eastern colonies, the French won a decisive victory in a time of competition between European powers for land and resources in North America. Fort Toulouse became an important commercial hub where the French traded deerskins, which were in high demand in Europe at the time, with the Native tribes. The fort was abandoned when the French lost Alabama to the British, but French trade goods such as glass beads, porcelain, silver and firearms are now part of the collections at the Museum of Alabama . The fort’s palisade, barracks and officers’ quarters have been faithfully reconstructed and the site is now a National History Park.

Which other French items are kept at the Alabama Archives?

A small French canon was left behind when the French abandoned Fort Toulouse. It eventually made its way to Montgomery and has been part of our museum collection since 1901. It’s one of our most treasured artifacts. Our collections also hold the fortune of William Rufus King, a wealthy cotton planter from Alabama who served as a Minister [ambassador] to France from 1844 to 1846. While he was in Paris, he hosted lavish dinners for the court of King Louis Philippe and amassed an amazing collection of Chinese porcelain, silver, furniture and art. Another of our items is a 45-feet-long stretch of wallpaper depicting scenes from the Vine and Olive Colony in Marengo County.

A section of the Vine and Olive Colony wallpaper. © Alabama Department of Archives and History

Can you tell us more about these colonists?

After Napoleon’s defeat, some of his officers immigrated to the United States to escape the Bourbon Restoration. They were granted lands in Western Alabama by Congress in 1817 and set about growing grapes and olives. But Alabama does not have the right climate or soil to grow either of these crops! Some of the settlers remained in Philadelphia, but some 150 came to West Alabama. The colony had collapsed by 1825, but descendants of the French settlers still live in this part of the state. A few towns founded by the Bonapartists are still standing today, including Aigleville, Marengo and Arcola.

Is French culture still visible in present-day Alabama?

The French departed the region in the 1760s, but there was a considerable effort to bring back French colonial architecture in Alabama in the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Downtown Mobile now resembles the French Quarter of New Orleans. The city’s street names also pay homage to our French heritage, such as Dauphin Street, Beauregard Street, St. Louis Street, Royal Street and Bienville Square. Closer to our time, in 1917, the American entry into World War I marked a turning point in the conflict, but also in Alabama’s history. The state shifted its economy from cotton farming to heavy industry, high-tech sectors, and defense manufacturing. Some 20 French automobile and aviation companies now operate sites in Alabama. Most recently, Airbus opened an assembly plant in Mobile less than a mile away from the site of the 1702 French settlement.

Alabama’s French Connection: A Symposium on Shared History
Alabama Department of Archives & History , Montgomery
June 9-10, 2017

This Historic Hotel In Alabama Has A Haunting History That Won’t Soon Be Forgotten

Alabama is home to several haunted places, including historic hotels. One historic hotel in particular, The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa, best known as The Battle House Hotel, has a haunting history that won’t soon be forgotten.

Have you ever stayed at this historic hotel? If so, did you have a ghostly encounter? Share your experience(s) with us!

For more hauntings in Mobile, be sure to check out our previous article: 9 Truly Terrifying Ghost Stories That Prove Mobile Is The Most Haunted City In Alabama.

The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa
(The Battle House Hotel)
26 N Royal St
Mobile, AL 36602


Located at the junction of the Mobile River and Mobile Bay on the northern Gulf of Mexico, Mobile began as the first capital of colonial French Louisiana in 1702 and remained a part of New France for over 60 years. [3] The city was ceded to Great Britain in 1763, and under British rule the colony continued as part of West Florida. Spain captured Mobile during the American Revolutionary War in 1780, with the Battle of Fort Charlotte. [4]

The city first became a part of the United States in 1813, following the U.S. seizure of Spanish West Florida during the War of 1812. The city and surrounding territory was first added to the Mississippi Territory. It was included in the Alabama Territory in 1817, after Mississippi gained statehood. A fire in October 1827 destroyed most of the old colonial buildings in the city, but from the 1830s onward Mobile expanded with a primary focus on the cotton trade. The city experienced another major fire in 1839 that burned a large central portion of the city and destroyed many of its finest new buildings. [5] On May 25, 1865 an ammunition depot explosion, termed the great Mobile magazine explosion, killed some 300 people and destroyed the northern portion of the city. [5]

Mobile's population had increased from around 40,000 people in 1900 to 60,000 by 1920. [6] Between 1940 and 1943, over 89,000 people moved into Mobile to work for war effort industries. [7] By 1956 the city limits had tripled to accommodate growth. The city lost many of its historic buildings during urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s. This led to the establishment of the Mobile Historic Development Commission, charged with protecting and enhancing the city's historic resources. Beginning in the late 1980s, the city began an effort termed the "String of Pearls Initiative" to make Mobile into a competitive, urban city. This effort would see numerous projects around the city, including the restoration of hundreds of historic buildings and homes. [8]

Mobile has antebellum architectural examples of the Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, and Italianate styles. Additionally, the Creole cottage and Gulf Coast cottage are building types that are indigenous to the area, and are among the earliest surviving house types. Mobile's downtown townhouses, primarily built between the 1840s and 1860s, typically combine Late Federal style architecture with Greek Revival or Italianate elements and cast iron galleries.


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Mobile, city, seat (1812) of Mobile county, southwestern Alabama, U.S. It lies on Mobile Bay (an arm of the Gulf of Mexico) at the mouth of the Mobile River and is a river port and Alabama’s only seaport.

The site was explored by Spaniards as early as 1519. In 1702 French colonists under Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville established a fort 27 miles (43 km) above the river mouth. The fort was moved to the present site in 1711, and the town that was built there served as the capital of French Louisiana until about 1719. It was named for the local Mobile (or Maubilla) Indians. In 1763 the town was ceded to the British. During the American Revolution, Spanish forces under the leadership of Bernardo de Gálvez captured Mobile. It was seized by the United States during the War of 1812, but because it was then a part of West Florida Mobile’s status was not finally clarified until a treaty was signed between the United States and Spain in 1819.

During the American Civil War, Mobile was one of the most important Confederate ports, and it maintained its trade with the West Indies and Europe despite a Union blockade begun in 1861. The port functioned until August 1864, when the Battle of Mobile Bay, fought between the opposing Union and Confederate fleets, was won by the Union admiral David Farragut. Two forts at the bay’s entrance, Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan on Mobile Point, surrendered immediately thereafter. In the spring of 1865 the Union general Edward R.S. Canby successfully laid siege to Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort, on the east side of the bay. After 26 days the forts, and then the city, were evacuated, and Union forces entered Mobile on April 12, 1865.

In 1879 the municipality went bankrupt, but the economy gradually improved. Banana importing commenced in the late 1800s, supplementing the old export trade in lumber and cotton that were produced inland. The port’s commerce was progressively stimulated by the opening of the Panama Canal (1914), the completion of a system of locks and dams on the Black Warrior and Tombigbee rivers (1915), the development of the Intracoastal Waterway, the construction of the Alabama State Docks (begun in 1923), the completion of Cochrane Bridge across Mobile Bay (1927), the construction of Bankhead Tunnel under the Mobile River (1941), and the opening of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (1985). Controlling the depth of the ship channel has been a vital factor in the commercial history of the city the original minimum depth and width have gradually been greatly increased.

Industrialization increased after 1900. Mobile played a major role as a port and shipbuilding and repair centre during World Wars I and II. It remains a centre for shipping and shipbuilding and repair. Natural gas from the gulf has become a major part of the economy oil is also important. Major manufactures include paper products, chemicals, apparel, aircraft parts, and computer hardware and software. Education, health care, and government are the primary service industries. The city is the site of Spring Hill College (1830 Roman Catholic), the University of South Alabama (1963), the University of Mobile (1961 Baptist), and Bishop State Community College (1965).

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is noted for its varieties of azaleas and other plants. Other points of interest include Oakleigh, an antebellum home the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park Forts Morgan and Gaines the Mobile Museum of Art and the Museum of Mobile, with exhibits on local history. Historic Blakely State Park, site of the Civil War battle, and Meaher State Park are across the bay in Spanish Fort. Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in North America and celebrates it with parades and festivities each year. Other annual events include a historic homes tour in March and the Azalea Trail in March and April. Pop. (2000) 198,915 Mobile Metro Area, 399,843 (2010) 195,111 Mobile Metro Area, 412,992.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Jeff Wallenfeldt, Manager, Geography and History.


When Mobile County became a part of the United States, a five member "County Court" was established, and the Judge of Probate was the presiding officer of the County Court. This court, like its counterparts in most other Southern states, was also the chief administrative and legislative body in the county and an inferior court with limited civil and criminal jurisdiction. In 1821, the composition of the County Court was changed from five justices and a clerk to one "County Judge" and a clerk. At the same time, a separate "Court of County Commissioners" was established, consisting of four commissioners and the County Judge. This arrangement provided for some separation of the judicial function from the administrative and legislative function at the county level. The County Court was vested mainly with the same judicial powers of its predecessor, and the County Judge was assigned the same powers formerly exercised by the chief justice of the former inferior County Court. The administrative and legislative functions, such as control over roads, bridges, ferries and the management of public buildings were assigned to the new Court of County Commissioners.

In 1850, a court of probate, as we know it today, was established in each Alabama county. The positions of clerk and judge of the County Court were consolidated into an office of "Judge of Probate." Unlike the County Judge who was appointed for a six year term, the Judge of Probate was to be popularly elected for a term of six years. Jurisdiction of the former County Court was for the most part transferred to the Probate Court, the major exception being civil and criminal jurisdiction, neither of which were vested in the new Probate Court. The Judge of Probate was given the authority formerly exercised by the County Judge and Clerk of the County Court, with authority to appoint his own clerk. Like his predecessor, the Judge of Probate was made a member of the Court of County Commissioners. At one time, the Judge of Probate had jurisdiction over juvenile, welfare, desertion and non-support cases and matters. As time progressed, these duties and responsibilities were transferred to other courts and governmental entities.

As Mobile County grew and became the second most populous county in Alabama, the duties and responsibilities of the Mobile County Judge of Probate were augmented. The Judge of Probate ceased serving as chairman of the Court of County Commissioners (now called the Mobile County Commission) and the jurisdiction of the Mobile County Judge of Probate was expanded to enable the Mobile County Probate Court to hear and rule upon some judicial matters that were being heard by judges of the Circuit Courts. As these changes occurred, it was recognized that a person "learned in the law" should serve as Judge of Probate, consistent with requirements relating to judges of the Circuit Court. Mobile and Jefferson Counties are the only two counties in the State of Alabama where it is required that the Judge of Probate be licensed to practice law. Further, in a number of Alabama counties today, the Judge of Probate continues to serve as chairperson of said counties' board of commissioners.


Incorporated in 1937, the Mobile Housing Board (MHB) is chartered under the laws of the State of Alabama to provide and administer affordable housing programs for the citizens of Mobile. The Agency receives policy guidance and operational approval from its five-member governing Board of Commissioners. Commissioners are appointed to five-year terms by the Mayor of the City of Mobile. The majority of funding for the MHB is provided by the federal government though the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Mobile Housing Board, as a public agency, plays a major role in providing housing services to the citizens of Mobile. Through the traditional Public Housing and Section 8 Housing Programs, we currently provide housing or housing assistance to over 7,000 families. Many people think that this is where the story ends. However, the MHB does much more than provide a place to live. Through the years, the role of public housing authorities has changed. Now, as importantly as providing housing, we provide beneficial programs for residents of all ages to enable and encourage family self-sufficiency. We provide extracurricular youth activities, educational opportunities, career counseling and job opportunities. The goal of these programs is to raise the quality of life for our clients and enable them to reach financial independence.

The MHB has an ongoing modernization program that provides major renovations for our existing housing developments. In addition, the Agency builds and sells affordable single-family homes. This program is very popular and allows the participants, mostly first-time homebuyers, to realize the dream of becoming a homeowner.

The Mobile Housing Board works in collaboration with the City of Mobile to administer the Community Development Block Grant program. Through this program MHB is involved in renovating community parks, rehabilitating privately-owned homes, and providing funding for various service agencies within the city. in renovating community parks, rehabilitating privately-owned homes, and providing funding for various service agencies within the city.

MHB employees are involved in administration, maintenance and social service activities. The MHB is fortunate to have a dedicated staff and an involved and knowledgeable Board of Commissioners. We are dedicated to providing superb customer service and we strive to uphold this standard in all areas of our operations.

Africatown Alabama, U.S.A.

The Clotilda was a two-masted wooden ship owned by steamboat captain and shipbuilder Timothy Meaher. Meaher wagered another wealthy white man that he could bring a cargo of enslaved Africans aboard a ship into Mobile despite the 1807 Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves. In the autumn of 1860 Captain William Foster departed for West Africa and successfully smuggled 110 enslaved Africans from Dahomey into Mobile, with one person perishing during the Middle Passage. Africatown was founded by descendants of some of the enslaved people aboard the Clotilda, and it was the home to some of the last survivors of the transatlantic slave trade in the United States. The slavers burned the ship in Mobile Bay, where it was lost to history in the muddy waters of the bay until May 22, 2019, when the Alabama Historical Commission and partners announced that the wreck had been located.

In 2018, the National Museum of African American History and Culture joined the effort to locate the Clotilda through the Slave Wrecks Project. The museum and SWP participated in support of the Alabama Historical Commission in archaeological work and in designing a way to involve the community of Africatown in the process of preserving the memory of the Clotilda and the legacy of slavery and freedom in Alabama. Many of the residents of Africatown are descendants of the Africans who were trafficked to Alabama on the Clotilda and have preserved the memory of its history. The museum continues to work directly with the descendant community in Africatown and develops educational, preservation, and outreach opportunities with the community.

Read more about the discovery at Smithsonian Magazine or on our blog

It was an honor to engage with the residents of Africatown, many of whom are descendants of the captive Africans who were forced onto the Clotilda and into enslavement. While we can find artifacts and archival records, the human connection to the history helps us engage with this American story in a compelling way. The legacies of slavery are still apparent in the community. But the spirit of resistance among the African men, women and children who arrived on the Clotilda lives on in the descendant community.

Mary N. Elliott Curator of American Slavery at the NMAAHC and leader of the community engagement activities for SWP

What the Discovery of the Last American Slave Ship Means to Descendants | National Geographic

Watch the video: This is Mobile. This is Alabama (May 2022).


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