All About Alabama (Facts 31-80.)

I realize (as with many creative endeavors,) we can sometimes overshoot. I had hoped for internet access while visiting in Alabama the last three weeks. Needless to say, I didn’t have constant access (though I did have cell service!) and got behind on my 105 facts. Still, I had a BLAST in Alabama and accomplished some big tasks since my last post:

  • turned in my thesis to my ENTIRE committee
  • printed my thesis and shared it with my mom
  • completed my library format review (meaning it’s formatted perfectly and ready to be turned in!)
  • visited the Alabama Institute for the Deaf & Blind in Talladega (and ate fried okra and a BLT+pimento cheese that was so good.)
  • went on the Historic Selma Pilgrimage with my mother
  • took a picnic over the creek (always the best)
  • and not related to my thesis, mailed Save-the-Dates (most of them), picked out bridesmaids dresses, and applied to a half dozen jobs.

I also (as I promised one of my committee members) didn’t look at my thesis while I was out of town. She told me to take a breather—and a real spring break—and come back to it after I got my final feedback from her and my director (which I get next week!) Speaking of, two of my three committee members have verbally signed off on my thesis, so now all I have to do is the paperwork. WHAT?

So, in honor of all of that, I’ve compiled 50 Alabama Facts (taking us to 80 total facts.) I realized it would be hard to list 105 full facts about my thesis without giving away half the book (that’s a fact for every two pages!) So I hope you enjoy these Alabama facts.

    1. The region now known as Alabama has been inhabited for nearly 10,000 years.
    2. Alabama was established as a state in 1819. (They have this adorable tea towel on sale at Priester’s in my home town—why didn’t I get it? *hinthint* wedding gift!)bfde708a0e2eb7c17e2693417599ee4d
    3. But let’s be real, Alabama was a thriving territory long before white people even set foot on the continent. The Mississipian culture thrived in much of the area as early as 1000 AD, and Cherokee, Alabama, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Koasati cultures were all living in present-day Alabama when Europeans arrived.
    4. Alabama was named for the Alabama (Alibamu) people, Native Americans who were part of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy.
    5. An important archaeological site in Alabama is Moundville Archaeological Park. Located near Tuscaloosa, Moundville is a 185-acre site from the Mississipian culture, where it was a thriving site for the Mississippi from 1000-1450 AD.
    6. Our oldest city, Mobile, was founded before the United States declared independence. The French colonists founded mobile as a capital of French Louisiana in 1702.
    7. Likewise, Alabama claims to have the oldest mardi gras celebration in the United States, claiming the first organized celebration in 1703.
    8. Alabama is known as the “Heart of Dixie.”
    9. One theory as to the origins of the word dixie comes from the ten-dollar note (a dix note, “dix” being French for ten) used by the bank of Louisiana, a bank that had come to be trusted all throughout the Southeast. English speakers called the note “Dixies” and so the region became known as the land of the Dixies, or so the theory goes.290px-dixbanknote
    10. The capital of Alabama is Montgomery, which is where I was born.
    11. My thesis is set in Cahawba County, Alabama, a fictional county based on Butler County in geography, but on Old Cahaba in name.
    12. Cahaba (also spelled Cahawba) was the first permanent state capitol of Alabama (1820-1826).
    13. Unfortunately, Cahaba flooded, and a major flood destroyed part of the state building in 1825. The capital moved to Tuscaloosa after that (before ultimately moving to Montgomery.)
    14. Cahaba is uninhabited, but is still an important historical and archaeological site. You can visit (and learn more here.)
    15. Cahawba is thought to have two origins: either (a) a Cherokee word meaning “water above” or (b) a Creek word for a native cane that thrived in the river valley.
    16. Anderson Crenshaw (my family ancestor) lived in Cahaba before settling in Butler County, and was appointed a circuit court judge while there.
    17. Anderson Crenshaw was the first graduate of the South Carolina College at Columbia (now the University of South Carolina.)
    18. Crenshaw County, Alabama was named after Anderson Crenshaw.
    19. My ancestors moved to Butler County around 1821.
    20. My aunt, Annie Crenshaw, collected seven-generations of family recipes into a cookbook called Southern Traditions. Many of my friends have received one as a thank-you gift. (It has the turkey spread, pecan pie, and bread recipes in it.)
    21. The Federal Road passes through much of Alabama.
    22. According to my dad, part of the Old Federal Road passes behind my house and serves as part of my driveway.
    23. Most people forget that Alabama is not land-locked—we have a beautiful little foot of Gulf Coast shoreline (and, in my personal opinion, the most gorgeous beaches in the world.)
    24. Don’t believe me? Check out Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama.
    25. Alabama is a geographically diverse state—we have mountains, swamps, lakes, caverns, beaches, and forests.
    26. Alabama has four national forests: Conecuh, Talladega, Tuskeegee, and William B. Bankhead.
    27. We also have an impact crater! The Wetumpka impact crater is 83 million years old and nearly 5 miles wide!
    28. We also have the longest natural bridge on this side of the Rocky Mountain range, up in Natural Bridge, Alabama.
    29. The highest point in Alabama is Mount Cheaha, standing at an elevation of 2,413 ft. (Told you we had mountains!)
    30. Want caverns? We have a few big ones: Cathedral Caverns, DeSoto Caverns, and more.
    31. And this was too neat: “[Alabama] currently ranks fifth in the nation for the diversity of its flora. It is home to nearly 4,000 pteridophyte and spermatophyte plant species.” Thanks, Wikipedia!
    32. The most populas city in Alabama is Birmingham-Hoover, with 1,143,772 people. By comparison, I grew up outside Fort Deposit, population 1,344.
    33. I technically grew up in Logan, Alabama, an unincorporated community in Lowndes County. Population? I’m not sure. The Bateses and a few other families, at least.
    34. Logan is the home of our family farm, though—Bates Turkey Farm is the largest commercial turkey growers in the Southeast.
    35. The Bateses have given the governor of Alabama a turkey for Thanksgiving every year since 1949.
    36. While Alabama is part of what’s known as the Bible Belt, we do have a growing community of non-Christians in the state. As of 2011, Alabama had 31 mosques and several Dharma centers.
    37. Still, that’s only a population of less than .2% for either group, in comparison to Alabama’s 87.5% Christian population.
    38. Of the Christian population, only 7% is Catholic. The rest are made up of Protestant or other Christian denominations.
    39. Alabama is home to NASA’s US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The first rocket to put people on the moon was built here.
    40. And since Famous Alabamians could take up all of my facts, I’ll split it into categories. First, Famous Alabama Athletes: Hank Aaron, Bo Jackson, Joe Louis, Cam Newton, Carl Lewis, Willie Mays, Mia Hamm, Charles Barkley, Jameis Winston, Demarcus Ware, Evander Holyfield (should I even keep going?)
    41. Famous Alabama Muscians: Nat King Cole, Hank Williams (& Jr.), Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday) Lionel Ritchie, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Tommy Shaw (STYX), Toni Tennile, Rich Boy, Alabama Shakes
    42. Famous Alabama Writers: Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Zelda Fitzgerald, Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes & the Whistle Stop Cafe), Winston Groom (Forrest Gump), Kathryn Tucker Windham (13 Alabama Ghosts & Jeffrey, anyone?)41dkac55f0l
    43. Famous Alabama Scientists: Mae C. Jemison, George Washington Carver
    44. Famous Alabama Activists: Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Morris Dees, Angela Davis,
    45. Famous Alabama Actors: Channing Tatum, Tallulah Bankhead, Courtney Cox, Laverne Cox, Octavia Spencer, Felicia Day, Orlando Jones
    46. Other Famous Alabamians: Helen Keller, Condaleeza Rice, Tim Cook, Heather Whitestone, Sequoyah,  Katherine Jackson… Okay, I have to stop. But you get it, Alabama is legit.
    47. And I hate watching football, but I have to admit we rock football. Between Auburn and Alabama, Alabama has brought home 11 (of 16) SEC Championships.*
    48. In 1836, Alabama became the first state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
    49. All three of these cars are made in Alabama:2017-elantra-sedan-eco-433x21070557315
    50. DeSoto caverns was home to a speakeasy in the 1920s during Prohibition.

*This fact might be totally wrong. Reading information about that was like reading Greek.

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