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Byler Road Association Tuscumbia, Alabama January, 2014 Dedicated to preserving, promoting, and enhancing the history and scenic beauty of Alabamas first.

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Presentation on theme: "Byler Road Association Tuscumbia, Alabama January, 2014 Dedicated to preserving, promoting, and enhancing the history and scenic beauty of Alabamas first."— Presentation transcript:

1 Byler Road Association Tuscumbia, Alabama January, 2014 Dedicated to preserving, promoting, and enhancing the history and scenic beauty of Alabamas first enacted roadway for public awareness, education, and enjoyment; and for tourism and economic revitalization in the north west region of the state.

2 Passage of Resolution by Alabama Legislature that recognizes the historical importance and scenic attributes of Byler Road National Historic Registration of Byler Road Qualification of Byler Road as a Scenic By-Way Establish Signage, Historical Markers, Maps, and Informational Brochures Along Byler Road For Public Driving Pleasure, Education, Tourism and Economic Impact in North West Region of Alabama Passage of Resolution by Alabama Legislature that recognizes the historical importance and scenic attributes of Byler Road National Historic Registration of Byler Road Qualification of Byler Road as a Scenic By-Way Establish Signage, Historical Markers, Maps, and Informational Brochures Along Byler Road For Public Driving Pleasure, Education, Tourism and Economic Impact in North West Region of Alabama

3 The world is full of many stories, and from time to time they permit themselves to be told. Old Cherokee Indian Saying

4 Byler Road originated as a buffalo trail that was used by Chickasaw, Creek, Cherokee, and Choctaw Indian hunters moving north toward The Cumberland River Valley in search of Buffalo.

5 Ancient Paleo - Mississippian Indian People Historic Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek Indian Tribes

6 On December 16, 1819, just two days after Alabama became a state, the legislature enacted, and Governor William W. Bibb approved a law making Byler Road the first public road in Alabama. Section 1. Byler Road Law reads as follows: Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of Alabama, in General Assembly convened. That a public road be, and the same is hereby established, as follows, to-wit: Beginning on the great military road, leading from Columbia in Tennessee to Madisonville in Louisiana, at or near the place where Samuel Craig now lives, on the west side of Big-shoal creek in Lauderdale county, thence, the nearest and best way to the Tennessee river, at the ferry opposite the town of Bainbridge, Franklin county; thence southeast from the southern part of said town, the nearest and best way to the county line between the counties of Lawrence and Franklin; thence south along said county line, wherever the situation of the ground will admit, and at all times as near the said line as practicable, to the southern boundaries of the counties of Lawrence and Franklin, thence the most eligible route to the falls of Tuskaloosa river

7 John Byler Road Builder 1781 - 1824 John Byler was married to Elizabeth Walker, born in 1776. Their daughter, Elizabeth Catherine, married Eldridge T. Mallard in 1819. Mallard was the tollgate manager at Eldridge on the Byler Road, and the town was named for him. William M. McCain, operator of McCains Toll Booth, was another Byler son-in-law. The Byler Road Law granted Byler permission and contracted with him to build the toll road and maintain it for a period of 12 years. He would keep all tolls collected for those years. John Byler died shortly after Byler Road was completed. He is buried at Rock Springs Cemetery on Byler Road at Mount Hope, Alabama in Lawrence County. Headstone that eulogizes John Byler, a soldier in the War of 1812. John Byler personally knew all five Revolutionary War Soldiers buried alongside him at Rock Springs Cemetery near Mt. Hope


9 Issue 1, Free State Journal newsletter, Steve Hicks and Dennis Bales

10 This painting by Alabama artist, John Warr, depicts Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men closing in on C olonel Abel Streights Mule Brigade. Colonel Streights 1700 man Mule Brigade crossed the Byler near Mt. Hope, engaged on Battleground Mountain (Cullman County) with General N. B. Forrests cavalry and surrendered near Georgia State Line General John Bell Hoods 40,000 man Army of the Tennessee crossed the Tennessee River at Bainbridge, Southport and Florence going to/from the Battle of Franklin/Nashville in late 1864. In March, 1865, a division of Union General J. H. Wilsons cavalry of 13,480 horseman passed down Byler Road in route to Tuscaloosa and the Battle of Selma. A Calvary division of about 4000 troops camped at Kinlock Spring off Byler Road on March 14, 1865. General Winslow's division passed along the Byler Road through Lawrence County and stayed the night at David Hubbards Plantation located at Kinlock. Brigadier General James Garfield (later US President Garfield) crossed the Byler Road at Leighton and again at Hillsboro in May 1862 while carrying out his mission to secure the Corinth MS to Huntsville AL railroad assets for Union Army use.

11 NORTH TO SOUTH Lets Take A Ride Along Old Byler Road

12 The dotted line is Byler Road from Browns Ferry to Courtland, connecting along Gaines Trace. State of Alabama The Byler Road

13 At its northernmost point, Byler Road intersects with Jacksons Military Road in Lauderdale County

14 Southward Journey Down Old Byler Road This is a relic abutment from the old bridge used by Andrew Jacksons army engineers to cross Shoal Creek. This is the start of Old Byler Road, at the junction on the west bank of Shoal Creek Bridge and Jacksons Military Road.

15 The area near Camp Westmoreland is known as Bailey Springs. It was a resort in the 1800's due to the so-called curing agents of the mineral springs. Families moved to the area due to these springs. Many famous people visited the springs to enjoy their effects. Antebellum spas offered wealthy individuals and families relaxation, social events, and advertised medical cures. Bailey Springs was one of the highest regarded resorts in the South. Jonathan Bailey came to Lauderdale County around 1820. He originally purchased about 200 acres near Shoals Creek; and later purchased an additional 40 acres, which included the springs, from John Hough. In 1843 "Mr. Bailey was so afflicted with dyspepsia, that he was unable to visit distant mineral springs." He began to use his own springs and found himself almost well within 4 weeks. The fame of the springs increased yearly. He built a resort to accommodate the many visitors. Mr. Michael Tuomey, the state of Alabama's first geologist visited the springs around this time. His examination found them to be composed of carbonate iron, carbonate soda, chloride sodium, carbonate potassa and sulfur. Bailey is said to have operated the resort until his death in 1857. There were a series of owners thereafter.

16 Shoal Creek Crossing Downstream From Jacksons Military Road



19 Situated on the south bank of the Tennessee River, this early town was 6 miles east of Florence in Lauderdale County and along Byler Road. An overgrown cemetery is all that remains today of Bainbridge, once a popular river crossing. When settlers first rushed into the Tennessee Valley just before 1819, they had dreams of establishing a great commercial city at the Muscle Shoals. On January 16, 1819, the commissioners of the town issued a report stating that Bainbridge was laid out on an inclined plain "so that the streets when filled will resemble the seats of a theatre. A ferry operating on the site crossed the Tennessee River in eight to nine minutes. The building of the railroad from Tuscumbia to Decatur bypassed Bainbridge. By 1840 merchants had begun an exodus to Tuscumbia and Florence. The number of inhabitants rapidly dwindled, the ferry ceased operations, and Bainbridge became a ghost town. Bainbridge is now submerged under Lake Wilson. What Bainbridge might have looked like in 1819

20 Bailey Springs ResortLauderdale County By Shoals Creek BainbridgeColbert County, under Lake Wilson Barkers StandLawrence County, near Mt. Hope New LondonWinston County by Bankhead Forest DeGraffeinrieds InnWinston County by Pebble Pruitts StandWinston County by NW AL Hospital ArcWinston County by Rocky Ravine PK WinstonWinston County on Hoggle Ridge BilerWinston County SE of Haleyville Larissa (Ferris Inn)Winston County, south of Nat. Bridge MajicWinston County south of Larissa Dublin (Tidwells Stand)Fayette County, SW of Eldridge Dry CreekFayette County, NE of Fayette SheffieldFayette County, NE of Fayette Old DublinFayette County, E-NE of Fayette Buck SnortFayette County bet Bankston & Berry Newton Fayette Co AL StrongsFayette County, south of Bankston CrumpTusc County/9 mi N of Samantha MarcumvilleTusc County/6 mi N of Samantha

21 South of Bainbridge at Leighton in Colbert County The Oaks Plantation was owned by Abraham Ricks, Sr. He was born 1791 in North Carolina and died 1852 at The Oaks in Colbert County. He left North Carolina in 1818 with 30 families and his slaves for Alabama. Portions of the 10,000 acre plantation were purchased during the United States government land sales of 1818. A log cabin was already built at The Oaks by Cherokee Indians who occupied the area from 1770 to 1816. Abraham Ricks added and attached the main part of the house to the log cabin

22 Major William Russell was born ca. 1760 in Tyron County,NC. He died in 1825 in Franklin County, Alabama. Major Russell was Chief-Of-Staff to General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. Russells Valley in Colbert County and the Town of Russellville in Franklin County are named for William Russell.

23 General Phillip Dale Roddy was born on this site about 1820 near downtown Moulton within a few blocks of Byler Road. In October 1862, at Tuscumbia, Roddy raised a company that became part of the 4th AL Cavalry. He served as captain, colonel, and brigadier general. His efforts in keeping the Union Army north of the Tennessee River earned him the title Defender of North Alabama. Roddy's battlefield encounters included Shiloh, Streight's Raid, Gen. Dodge at Tuscumbia, and actions in MS and GA.

24 Leroy Pope Walker was the son of John W. Walker who was House Speaker of the AL Territory, the first constitutional convention president, the first US AL senator, and namesake of Walker County, AL. Leroy P. Walker began his political career in Lawrence County. He lived on Market Street in Moulton, a few blocks from Byler Road. He served in the General Assembly from 1843 to 1849 and 1853 to 1857. He was speaker of the AL House (1847 and 1849). Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed him 1 st Confederate States Secretary of War. Walker ordered the attack upon Fort Sumter that started the Civil War. In 1883, Walker successfully defended Jesse James' brother, Frank, for an 1881 Muscle Shoals robbery. The Original Confederate Cabinet : L-R Judah Benjamin, Stephen Mallory, Christopher Memminger, Alexander Stephens, LeRoy Pope Walker, Jefferson Davis, John Reagan, Robert Toombs Leroy Pope Walker 1817 - 1883


26 Sections Of Old Byler Road Are Obsolete Members of Byler Road Association hike a section of obsolete roadbed near Byler Gap, William B. Bankhead National Forest, Mount Hope, Alabama in Lawrence County. The name J. C. Fannin, date 1831, is carved into this old beech tree along Byler Roadbed near Byler Gap, William B. Bankhead National Forest near Mount Hope, Alabama in Lawrence County.

27 The old rock chimney is all that remains of the John Byler home located on the North Byler Route at Mount Hope in Lawrence County.

28 This log house at Mount Hope is located adjacent to John Bylers home place. The house is reminiscent of the rustic dwellings built by the early settlers.

29 Legendary Aunt Jenny Brooks Johnson The Feud When the Confederate Home Guard came to her door in 1863, Louisa Elizabeth Jane Bates Brooks was 37 years old. A pretty, blue-eyed half Cherokee from Walker County, she married Willis Brooks from Kentucky when she was 14 and he was 35. They raised a large family and ran a roadhouse on the Byler Road in southwest Lawrence County. The Home Guard killed 57 year old Willis Brooks. When son John tried to save his father, he was shot dead. Placing all her boys hands in the blood on their fathers chest, Jenny made them swear a blood oath that they would never rest until all eight killers were dead. The feud that started with the killing of Jennys husband and oldest son lasted forty years. The eight men were killed by Brooks and her sons. Until she died at age 98, she claimed to be proud of her boys, who she reportedly said, died like, men, with their boots on. She is buried in Johnson Cemetery, a few miles from her home on Byler Road. Jane Jenny Brooks Johnson 1826 - 1924

30 Old Byler Road, Bankhead National Forest, Between Poplar Springs Cemetery And Aunt Jenny Brooks Place, Was A Trail From Prehistoric Indian Times Only Osage orange trees and barn wood remain at Jenny Brooks Johnsons place on Byler Road in Bankhead Forest. These trees were called bow-wood trees by early French settlers because Indians used the trees to make their bows.


32 Kinlock Rock Shelter is a treasure trove of ancient Indian history in Bankhead National Forest.

33 This route was some1,000 miles in length and ran from Old Charles Town, South Carolina to Chickasaw Bluffs near Memphis, Tennessee. It is named in honor of the Indian village of High Town located near present-day Rome, Georgia. The Moulton Fork of the Byler Road ran from Moulton through Youngtown, and up to the mountain at McClung Gap The two Byler Roads joined at a site known as the 66 mile tree which was located about one-half mile west of the junction of the High Town Path and the Moulton Fork. The 66 mile tree was thought to be a designated tree at the forks of the two roads. Sign Marking The High Town Path In Haleyville, Winston County, Alabama

34 Jacob Pruett was a principal investor in the Byler Road project. Pruett was one of the 'Free State's' earliest and most colorful settlers. A private in the American Revolutionary War at an early age, Pruett was a captain of the Mounted Volunteers of Tennessee during the War of 1812. Jacob Pruett's stand (tavern) was a popular stopping place on the Byler Road in the 1830s and 1840s. A two-story poplar log structure with four 20 foot square rooms per floor, it was located near a large spring and netted a handsome profit as most of the hogs and cattle driven to south Alabama passed this way. There are many undocumented tales of highway robbery and murder on the Byler Road, and it is said some of those early Alabama travelers slain were tossed into "the big hole" near the tavern at Haleyville, AL. Pruett died while chasing a bear on horseback at age 81 years. He is buried near his beloved "Pebbly Branch" at Haleyville, AL

35 Natural Bridge is located in Winston County at Natural Bridge, the smallest town in Alabama. The entrance to Natural Bridge is less that ½ mile from Byler Road. The natural bridge formation within the park is the largest natural arch east of the Rockies. The sandstone and iron ore bridge is 60 ft. high and 148 ft. long.

36 Eldridge T. Mallard was the tollgate manager at Eldridge on the Byler Road. He was John Bylers son-in-law. The town of Eldridge and Mallard Creek are named for him.

37 Byler Crossing is near the ghost town of Dublin (Tidwells Stand), and south west of Eldridge, in Walker County, Alabama, along the southern route. Byler Crossing

38 Fayette County, Alabama On The Southern Route of Byler Road

39 Splendid Southern Architecture Along Byler Road Southern Route

40 John Welch Prewitt, slave trader and successful planter, was said to have owned more than 600 slaves. Prewitts estate covered more than 6,000 acres north of Northport, near North River. Prewitt is reported to have owned slave ships that docked in Mobile. He had a vested interest in the Byler Road because it connected his plantation to the Mobile Trace and the Port of Mobile. Prewitt funded and built about 15 miles of the Byler roadway using slave labor. Once a toll road over land that was swallowed by Lake Tuscaloosa, Byler Road connected the Warrior and Tennessee rivers, and ran through the John Welch Prewitt plantation. John Welch Prewitt 1793 - 1873

41 In the 1820s, John Welch Prewitt designated a two-acre parcel of land on his plantation at Northport as a burial ground for slaves and their descendants. It is possibly the largest existing slave cemetery in Alabama with 300-500 graves. The last burial was in 1945. The markings range from initials scratched into stone to full names and dates going back to 1819, the year Alabama became a state. Pole Bridge Baptist Church owns and maintains the cemetery.

42 This compelling marker is located in the old Prewitt Slave Cemetery on Byler Road at Northport. Although the inscription is barely legible, the simply carved heart on the gravestone poignantly conveys the most essential human emotions; requited love and longing for people that matter the most in our lives.

43 Relax At The End Of Old Byler Road City Café is perhaps the best known eating establishment in the Tuscaloosa area; its where Coach Bear Bryant always had his morning coffee, making it a magnet for the past 50 years. It is located on Main Avenue (Byler Road) in Northport. Northport didnt exist until Byler made the town. City Café is one block from the Warrior River, at the south end of Byler Road, where goods were loaded onto ships headed to many unknown destinations.

44 We Hope You Have Enjoyed The History and Scenic Beauty Along Byler Road The Road Told You Its Story, Just As The Cherokee Indians Said It Would Do

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