Long before the white man appeared in North America, Native Americans were making arrowheads out of the creamy white stone we know today as Alabama marble. In 1820 Dr. Edward Gantt, a physician who had accompanied Gen. Andrew Jackson through the Mississippi Territory in 1814, made the first recorded discovery of the marble. Even Gantt did not realize the extent of the deposit he had uncovered--400 feet deep, thirty-two miles long, one-and-a-half miles wide (and now the world's largest commercial deposit of madre cream marble). Nor did he know that he had located an outcropping of the purest white marble in the world.
This year marks a year-long centennial celebration of the Rosenwald rural school building program. This program has been described as “one of the most ambitious school building programs ever witnessed in the United States.” And it all began in Alabama as a collaboration between a nationally renowned educator and a prominent businessman.
Free blacks in the antebellum South led precarious lives. Respected by slaves, with whom they shared skin color but not bondage, free persons of color were often feared by whites, who suspected they might be the fuse with which Northern abolitionists ignited a slave rebellion in the South. To prevent such an occurrence, Southern whites passed a series of laws throughout the first half of the nineteenth century restricting the actions of free blacks.
Not so long ago, scores of country stores were scattered across rural Alabama—at dusty crossroads or along a lonely stretch of blacktop knifing through fields and tangled woodlands, or huddled beside an isolated railway crossing. Mostly they were humble, expedient buildings, devoid of pretension, built to serve a plain agrarian society while enriching the coffers of some enterprising local merchant.
From the Vault
Read complete classic articles and departments featured in Alabama Heritage magazine in the past 35 years of publishing. You'll find in-depth features along with quirky and fun departments that cover the people, places, and events that make our state great!