State Research Guides: Alabama
1/1/2008
Find your family history in the heart of Dixie.

It's hard to imagine Alabama was ever the frontier. But as Colonial America itched to expand, this was the “Old Southwest”: a rough country of pioneers, Indians and cheap land for those willing to pull up stakes from more-civilized places such as Virginia and the Carolinas. From 1810 to 1820, “Alabama fever” took the population from 9,000 to 144,000. “There is no question that this fever is contagious,” warned a North Carolina congressman in 1817, “for as soon as one neighbor visits another who has just returned from Alabama he immediately discovers the same symptoms which are exhibited by the one who has seen alluring Alabama.”

Others had previously discovered “alluring Alabama,” of course. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek tribes were already there when the French established the first permanent white settlement in 1702, near today's Mobile. Colonial censuses of these French settlements taken in 1706, 1721 and 1725 were published in the Deep South Genealogical Quarterly (volume 1, issues 1, 2 and 3), available at the Family History Library (FHL) <www.familysearch.org> and other large genealogical libraries. Over the next century, Alabama would be variously claimed by France, England, Spain (which also took several Mobile censuses you can get from the FHL) and neighboring Georgia.