ATHENS, AL - On March 3, 1817, as officials gathered beside the Tombigbee River to declare Alabama a territory and St. Stephens its capital, business was already booming at the military fort, river ports, trading posts and taverns in what would soon become Limestone County, Ala.
On March 4, 2017, as Alabama kicks off three years of celebration of the state’s bicentennial, Limestone County kicked off its own bicentennial celebrations with a history program and special events around the Limestone County Courthouse Square.
At the new Revival Center, just off the Square on West Washington Street, local historians presented "Exploring Our Places: The Early Days of Limestone and Alabama." They shared stories about the days when the Chickasaw and the elk called a place named Elk County home, when cotton barges floated down the Tennessee River from Limestone County ports, and when an enterprising businessman created an open-air bar from a split log and two barrels, and served his own brand of shine in gourds.
Athens State University Professor Dr. Harry Joiner told about the beginnings of Alabama, and Limestone County Archivist Rebekah Davis talked about the people and places who made up Limestone County leading up to its establishment on Feb. 6, 1818.
Attendees have the opportunity to browse the resource center presented by various local history groups. Throughout the day, downtown merchants featured made in Alabama and made in Athens and Limestone County items. They also offered specials, including historic foods and historic prices.
Pictured is artist Lyn Stone's depiction of Fort Hampton, the U.S. military fort established near the Elk River to protect Chickasaws from early settlers who lived here illegally.