Dekalb County Communities

History of Crossville

Picking cotton in Crossville in the 1920's. Frankie Peppers, Mae Belle Atchley, Christa Belle Frasier, Pearl Hester Acker.

This area of DeKalb County attracted early settlers, mainly from Georgia and Tennessee, with an abundance of rich soil, bountiful game and rivers and streams. Crossville was named by James A. Copeland because of the many crossroads in the area. In 1888, G.W. Justice established the first business in Crossville, and then in 1903, W.B. Jones installed machinery for his cotton mills.

A battle in the Creek Indian War occurred near here in the early 1800's after 250 Alabamians were killed by the Indians. This event provoked a battle between Andrew Jackson and the Red Stick Creek Indians. After the massacre at Fort Mims, General Jackson assembled an army of 2,500 Tennessee militia and began marching into Mississippi Territory to combat the Red Stick Creeks. Jackson's troops began to construct Fort Strother along the Coosa River. Fifteen miles away from the fort lay the Creek village of Tallushatchee where a sizeable force of Red Stick warriors were. Jackson ordered his friend and most trusted subordinate, General John Coffee, to attack the village.

Coffee took about 1,000 dragoons and arrived at the village on November 3. He divided his brigade into two columns which encircled the town. Two companies ventured into the center of the circle to draw out the warriors. The trap worked, and the warriors attacked and were forced to retreat back into the buildings of the village. Coffee closed the circle in on the trapped warriors. David Crockett served in the Tennessee militia and fought in this battle.Coffee's forces killed about 180 warriors losing only five dead and 41 wounded. The battle was the first battle in General Andrew Jackson's military campaign. A week later General Jackson inflicted another serious defeat on the Red Sticks at the Battle of Talladega.

In the middle 1800's mail was brought through Crossville from Rome, Georgia and Guntersville, Alabama by stage coach. The town soon opened its first U.S. Post Office, with A.C. Copeland serving as the first Postmaster.

The first church to be established in the Crossville area was a Methodist Episcopal Church, called Pine Bark Church, formed just before the War between the States. The first school was established in the late 1800's at Bryant's Chapel Church. It was a large, one room structure with one teacher and around 50 students. The first banking institution was established in 1914 by N.W. Black and Boyce Rains.

Crossville was incorporated sometime in late 1920's or early 1930's and C. J. Crump became the first Mayor. Under his leadership little progress was made and the Township failed as an incorporated town. The town was again incorporated on December 21, 1942. Dr. L.F. Erwin was chosen Mayor, the town government established ordinances and taxes were levied. Collection enforcement was lax resulting in insufficient resources to maintain basic town services. C.W. (Bill) Russell was then elected Mayor and hired Colonel Mack Kilcrease as a Legal Advisor to the mayor and council. This group established a solid town government with taxation, collection and basic town services that became the foundation for the Town of Crossville.

For more information on the history of Crossville, visit the official Crossville website.