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History of Limestone County, Alabama

      Limestone County was created by an act of the Alabama Territorial General Assembly Feb. 6, 1818. It was formed from land comprising Elk County , then a part of the Mississippi Territory . The county was named for Limestone Creek, which flows through it and whose bed is made of hard limestone. The county encompasses approximately 559.94 square miles and is one of the smallest county in the state. It lies west of Madison County , north of Morgan and Lawrence counties, east of Lauderdale County and south of the Tennessee State line. Limestone County consists of fertile agricultural land, scenic hills and waterways that includes the Elk River running through the western side, and the Tennessee River on the south.

      After the Cherokee Land Cession in 1806, new settlers began moving into the area now known as Limestone County. The Cherokee cession included much of Limestone County , land that was also claimed by the Chickasaw Tribe. Unaware they were venturing into Chickasaw territory, white settlers began to move west of the Congressional Reservation Line by 1808, leading to clashes between settlers, Indians, and soldiers. These settlers became known as The Intruders and suffered both at the hands of the native tribe and the U. S. government.

      The Intruders built cabins, planted crops and settled in during the winter of 1808-9. The Chickasaw, known for their fierce fighting ability, did not look kindly at having settlers moving onto their land, and often made raids on unsuspecting residents. The Chickasaw obtained support from the U.S. government in forcing the settlers out of their territory. The soldiers dealt harshly with the settlers by destroying their cabins and crops. In 1809 soldiers stationed at Ft. Hampton removed 166 settlers from the Chickasaw territory, 93 of which were from the Simms Settlement. Some of these families included widows with children who fled to neighboring Giles County TN and Madison County Alabama. Land entries were made in N.E. Limestone County as early as 1809, and between 1809-1816, 11,001 acres of land were entered in the county.

      In September 1816, after many years of fending off attacks from the Chickasaws and removal by the government, the settlers living west of the Congressional Reservation Line were finally allowed to stay. The Chickasaw Nation ceded to the United States all rights and titles to the lands on the north side of the Tennessee River as well as some land on the south side. Settlers flocked to Huntsville land office to buy the land they had cleared and on which they had established homes. By 1820, there were 10,069 people living in the county, 2,919 of which were slaves and 33 free persons of color. The population continued to increase due to the fertile soil that was conducive to growing cotton and other crops. By 1860, the population had increased to 15,306. Of that number there were 7,215 whites and 8,085 slaves. The number of free persons of color had decreased to six.

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Written By: Loretta Merrell Ekis

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