Alabama History in October
Excerpted from Alabama Department of Archives and History
October 1-4, 1867: For the first time in Alabama history,African Americans vote in a statewide election. About 70,000 black men,the majority of voters in the election, called for a constitutionalconvention and elected an overwhelmingly Republican set of convention delegates, including 18 blacks. That convention produced Alabama's fourth constitution.
October 4, 1858: Dr. Joseph Henry Johnson founds the AlabamaSchool for the Deaf in Talladega, enrolling his younger brother as thefirst student. The school evolved into the state-supported Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, which annually serves thousands with a variety of programs.
October 4, 1937: Hugo Black,a native of Clay County, takes his seat as an Associate Justice of theU.S. Supreme Court. Black studied law at the University of Alabama,served in World War I, and represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate from1927 until 1937, when he was appointed to the Supreme Court byPresident Franklin Roosevelt. Black served on the court until his deathin1971.
October 7, 1763: In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, Britain's King George III establishes the colonies of East and West Florida by royal proclamation. West Florida's northern boundary was set at the 31st parallel, which today forms most of Alabama's boundary with Florida.
October 8, 1890: “Rube” Burrowis killed after escaping from jail in Linden, Alabama. A native ofLamar County, Burrow robbed his first train in 1886 and by 1890 was themost wanted outlaw in the South.
October 8, 1896: George Washington Carverarrives in Macon County to direct Tuskegee Institute's agriculturalschool. Born a slave in Missouri during the Civil War, Carver wasstudying in Iowa when school president Booker T. Washington invited him to Alabama. He remained at Tuskegeeuntil his death in 1943, and although he dedicated much of his work tohelping black farmers in the South, Carver's international fame camefrom his innovative uses of peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other southernproducts.
October 9, 1908: Two-term Alabama governor James “Big Jim” Folsomis born in Coffee County. Folsom, known for farm-to-market road pavingand other programs to benefit Alabama’s common folk, served as governorfrom 1947-1951 and 1955-1959.
October 12, 1896: The Alabama Girls’ Industrial School opens itsdoors as the first state-supported industrial and technical schooldevoted to training girls to make a living. The school later becameknown as Alabama College, and is now the University of Montevallo.
October 16, 1917: Serving aboard the USS Cassin, Alabamian Kelley Ingrambecomes the first American serviceman killed in action during World WarI. In 1918 the Navy named a destroyer after Ingram, marking the firsttime an enlisted man had a ship named in his honor. Congress laterawarded Ingram the Medal of Honor and the city of Birmingham namedIngram Park after the Pratt City hero.
October 18, 1540: The largest Indian battle in North America occurs at the village of Mabila (or Mauvila) between Hernando de Soto’s Spaniards and Chief Tuscaloosa’s (or Tascaluza’s) warriors.Accounts vary, but most agree that the Indian village and most of itsmore than 2,000 inhabitants were destroyed. The exact location of thisbattle has eluded researchers for centuries.
October 18, 1916: A strong earthquakeoccurs around 4 p.m. in an unnamed fault east of Birmingham, with theepicenter near Easonville in St. Clair County. The earthquake causedbuildings to sway in downtown Birmingham and tied up all phone lines inthe city with 25,000 calls recorded at the main exchange in the hourfollowing the quake. Two additional weaker tremors were reported thatevening.
October 20, 1832: Representatives of the Chickasaw Indians sign the Treaty of Pontotoc,thereby ceding "all the land which they own on the east side of theMississippi river" to the United States. That land included a portionof northwest Alabama.
October 22, 1821: The steamboat Harriet reachesMontgomery after ten days of travel from Mobile. This was the firstsuccessful attempt to navigate so far north on the Alabama River andopened river trade between Montgomery and Mobile.
October 25, 1819: In anticipation of achieving statehood, Alabama's first state legislatureassembles at Huntsville, the temporary capital. The General Assembly,as it was called, was composed of nineteen senators and forty-sevenrepresentatives from Alabama's nineteen counties. Thomas Bibb of Limestone County was elected President of the Senate, while James Dellet of Monroe County was elected Speaker of the House.
October 25, 1941: Groundbreaking ceremonies are held in Huntsville for the U.S. Army's Redstone Ordnance Plant. Renamed Redstone Arsenalin 1943, the installation produced conventional artillery ordnanceduring World War II, but in 1949 became the Army's missile and rocketdevelopment center. Led by German scientist Wernher von Braun, Redstone developed the rocket system that propelled the first U.S. satellite into space.
October 28, 1819: The Alabama legislature elects William Rufus King and John W. Walkeras Alabama's first United States senators. King served several terms inthe Senate and in 1852 was elected U.S. Vice President. Walker, who hadbeen president of the Alabama constitutional convention of 1819, servedin the Senate until 1822, when he resigned. The terms of both senatorsofficially began December 14, 1819, the day Alabama became the 22ndstate.
October 30, 1979: In a run-off, Richard Arrington is elected asthe first black mayor of Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city. Arringtonserved in that post for nearly twenty years, until his resignation inJuly 1999.
October 31, 1954: Martin Luther King Jr. of Atlanta is installed as minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. A little more than a year later, on the first day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he was named president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, a role which made him a national civil rights figure.