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HISTORY OF PLantersville, Alabama
The community now known as Plantersville was first called Corinth. It was located on the banks of Big Mulberry Creek, on an Indian trail leading from Huntsville to Cahaba. The area was a favorite hunting and fishing ground for the Indians. Many arrowheads have been uncovered by the white manís plow, giving us a reminder of the earliest inhabitants.
One of the first settlers is known to have built on land deeded by the government in 1774. As more and more planters moved in to cultivate the wilderness, Corinth became the center where they came together for horse racing, horse-trading, and socializing. When Alabama became a state in 1819, the inhabitants renamed their township to Plantersville, to denote the chief vocation of the people. In the 1820 Alabama Census, Plantersville is located in Perry County, but by the 1870 Census the town is a part of Dallas County.
There are two houses still standing that reflect the affluence of the planter class. These fine examples of antebellum architecture are the Dodd House, built in 1859 by Dr. Thomas G. Dodd, a dentist who had moved to Alabama from Maryland, now rental property owned by the estate of Henry Biscoe; and the Driskell House, built by the Virginia slave holder, Thomas S. Driskell, in 1850, and now owned by Robert and Betty Martin. The Driskell House features a solid mahogany staircase ascending to the second floor from the 15-foot-wide front hall. The open fretwork adorning the ceilings in the dining room and parlor were created by a young French artisan traveling through the area. Thomas Driskell besides being a planter, was the first merchant in Plantersville. He obtained the merchandise for his store by making an annual trip on horseback to South Carolina. The supplies he ordered there were then shipped by boat down the Atlantic Coast around to the Gulf of Mobile and up the Alabama River to Selma. From Selma they were loaded onto wagons for transport to Plantersville.
In the closing days of the Civil War, as General James H. Wilson advanced on Selma, with the purpose of knocking out this important center of munitions and supply to the Confederacy, Mr. Driskell, his wife, their two sons: Will and Tom, and their three daughters became forced hosts to General Wilson. General Wilson made his headquarters in an upstairs bedroom and for this reason the house was saved. Driskellís
store, cotton gin containing 63 bales of cotton, and warehouse were burned to the ground by the Union Army.
The church building built in 1850 on land donated by Mrs. Driskell, was home to Methodist, Baptists and Presbyterian congregations. The building served briefly as a hospital for Union soldiers, one of whom is buried in the adjoining cemetery. The old frame church was struck by lightning and burned on May 10, 1922. The present Methodist Church was built on the same site in 1929.
The coming of the railroads signaled the end of the old era of the stagecoach inn, founded by Davis McGee, where travelers could stop-over for food and lodging and horse traders from Tennessee could congregate to sell or swap their stock. As the years went by, there were other sign of change. A lumber company bought thousands of acres of virgin timber and did business in the area for a number of years. In 1881 a sawmill began operation in nearby Ridersville in Chilton County, the families of its employees increasing the number of children for whom schools were provided in Plantersville.
Determination of the citizens to insure an educational opportunity for their young people never wavered despite difficulties. In the late 19th century Plantersville had its own college, founded by and chartered under John L. Dodson LL.D., who had formerly been president of Oxford College at Oxford, Alabama. Dallas County High School of Plantersville finally came into existence in 1909 and absorbed the facilities of Plantersville College. It is claimed that the Plantersville secondary school was the first public high school in the state. The school was financed by a $4000 grant from the state legislature and by $6000 in local contributions of money and labor. A permanent, continuous public elementary school was established soon afterward.
Dallas County High School was the oldest public high school building in existence until fire destroyed the main building on April 19, 1982. Arson was suspected and many of the community mourned the loss of the building and also old records, trophies and other memorabilia. The school building was reopened by the fall of 1983 and restored to its original antebellum style architecture.
The township of Plantersville proper comprises one section (one square mile) of Dallas County and part of Chilton County. The borders of Autauga, Perry, Chilton and Bibb Counties are not far away. By popular vote the town is still unincorporated. Agriculture is largely in its orientation just as many years earlier it played a major role. Today the agriculture is in the form of several greenhouse businesses that produce bedding plants; and in the timber trade that produce lumber and paper, which is distributed throughout the Southeast and the world.
Sources: Story of Dallas County, written by Grade IV, Plantersville, Alabama, 1935-1936,
Reprinted by the Peoples Bank and Trust Company; Plantersville-Yesterday & Today,
Unknown writer, printed by the PeoplesBank and Trust Company for the opening of a branch in Plantersville; Notes from members of the community of Plantersville, Alabama
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