Where Alabama Began: Old St. Stephens

Presented by Jackie Matte, M.A., independent scholar

In 1996, the St. Stephens Historic Commission asked Matte to research and compile all records available, to determine if enough information existed to support the development of a state park. It did. Records from Alabama Department of Archives and History, Washington County Probate Records and Samford University Special Collections resulted in a 200+ page report of abstracted records describing the old town’s streets, lot numbers, businesses, The Halcyon & Tombecbe newspaper, taverns, hotels, school, federal land office, Choctaw Trading House, a theatre and, of course, the citizens who flocked to Alabama’sterritorial capital.

Old St. Stephens State Park was once a Spanish outpost—Fort San Esteban; then a frontier town—St. Stephens—at the head of navigation on the Tombigbee River. When the Mississippi Territory was established in 1799, St. Stephens was the first and only town in the eastern half. When Mississippi became a state in 1817, Alabama became a Territory from 1817-1819, with St. Stephens as the territorial capital. The territorial legislature met there in the Douglas Hotel.

This hotel site is currently being excavated by the Archaeology Department of the University of South Alabama. The University of Alabama Museum Expeditions has held three summer camps at this site. Students, both high-school and college age, grandparents and grandchildren attend this camp, coming from across the state and nation. In addition to the archaeologists, paleontologists also spend time with the campers, exploring the limestone quarries where two- million-year-old fossils can be found lying on the top of the ground.

For further information, go to www.oldststephens.com

A microphone, large screen and podium/table are needed. A PowerPoint projector is also needed.

Contact Jackie Matte to book this presentation
jackiematte211@gmail.com
(205) 264-1439