History of Henry County, Alabama

History of Henry County

Henry County was created on 1819 Dec. 13. The original county was vast in size, until its boundaries were reduced by the establishment of the counties of Pike and Covington in 1821, by Dale in 1824, by Barbour in 1832 and Houston in 1903. The county was named for Revolutionary War patriot Patrick Henry (Virginia).

Henry County is located in the southeastern corner of the state, bounded to the east by the State of Georgia and the Chattahoochee River. It encompasses 557 square miles. It is identified as part of the coastal plain or Wiregrass region. The county seat is located in Abbeville. Other towns include Headland and Newville.

Authority: Owen, Thomas McAdory. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921.

Henry County was carved from Conecuh which had been a part of Monroe after it was formed from Washington County, the oldest county in the state, having been created by the proclamation of Governor Winthrop Sergeant of the Mississippi Territory on June 4, 1800. The area of Henry County on December 13, 1819 was vast in area. It embraced the present territory of Covington, Dale, Coffee, Geneva, Henry, Houston, parts of Pike, Crenshaw, Bullock and Barbour. The present area is 565 square miles. After the creation of Covington County from Henry, a part of Conecuh was left south of Henry which was later added to Henry County. Henry County was named for Patrick Henry, the Virginian known as the “Fireball of the Revolution”, by the many first settlers from Virginia who came to this section.
The act of Creation named William C. Watson, John Fannin, Joel T. McClendon, Johnson Wright, Captain S. Smith as commissioners for the location of the seat of justice and establishment of the boundaries of Henry County.

1822 – The first County seat was in Richmond, Henry County Alabama.

1826 – The first Courthouse was built in Columbia Henry County Alabama

1833 – Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

1845 – Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

1889 - Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

1966 – Current Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama


Henry County Courthouse

The Block House

Historical marker about the Block House and John Whitehurst dated 1814.
Designated a Post Office from 1833-1841. John Whitehurst was the first Postmaster.
Photo Owner: Wally Whitehurst

Old Linville Store

History of the State of Alabama

The Alabama Great Seal
Graphic provided by Information Services Division, Ala. Dept. of Finance

In 1817, when William Wyatt Bibb was appointed Governor of the brand new Alabama territory, Bibb realized he needed an official seal for his commissions and other state papers. With permission of President James Monroe and a law adopted by Congress, the territorial governor was authorized to select a design for a seal. Governor Bibb believed the best seal would be a map of the territory showing its rivers. It also showed the territories (now states) surrounding it.

By 1819, when Alabama became a state, the territorial seal was designated by the first legislature as the state seal. The state seal remained unchanged for 50 years, until the Recontruction period when a Republican-dominated legislature had a new seal made. It consisted of an eagle perched upon the shield of the United States seal. In the beak of the eagle was a banner reading "Here We Rest". Around the new emblem were the words "Alabama Great Seal". This seal was used for 71 years to authenticate official documents and letterhead.

In 1939, a bill was introduced by the legislature to restore the original seal as the Great Seal of Alabama. When the bill came up it was approved unanimously by the Senate and the House. Governor Frank M. Dixon approved the new law and the Secretary of State had a new Great Seal created. Act no. 20.

State Flag of Alabama

The present Alabama State Flag was authorized by the Alabama Legislature on February 16, 1895, by act number 383. According to the Acts of Alabama, 1895, the state flag was to be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross were not to be less than six inches broad and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side. The act does not designate a square or a rectangular flag.

Alabama's past flags.
On January 11, 1861, the Secession Convention passed a resolution designating a flag designed by a group of Montgomery women as their official flag. This flag has often been referred to as the Republic of Alabama Flag. One side of the flag displayed the Goddess of Liberty holding in her right hand an unsheathed sword; in the left a small flag with one star. In an arch above this figure were the words "Independent Now and Forever." On the other side of the flag was a cotton plant with a coiled rattlesnake. Beneath the cotton plant are the Latin words: "Noli Me Tangere," (Touch Me Not). This flag was flown until February 10, 1861, when it was removed to the Governor's Office after it was damaged by severe weather. It was never flown again.

From March 4, 1861 until General James H. Wilson's occupation of Montgomery in April 1865, a Confederate National Flag was flown, either the First National Flag or the Second National Flag. After the end of the Civil War, the United States Flag was used for all official occasions.

Display - According to the Acts of Alabama, 2001-472: "

(a) Each facility of building located in this state that is affiliated with any department or agency of the state and supported in whole or in part by public funds, shall prominently display the Alabama State Flag, in accordance with appropriate flag display protocol, on a flag pole or flag poles located near the main entrance of each facility or building. Any facility or building that is not in public view or open to the general public, or is used only for storage or other warehouse purposes, may be exempt from the requirements of this section at the discretion of the director or chief official of the department or agency.

(b) Unless otherwise acquired pursuant to gift, donation, or other means, the flags and flag poles required by this section shall be purchased by the applicable department or agency within three years after August 21, 2001."

Under an Act approved September 26, 1923, the flag of the State, as well as the flag of the United States, is required to be displayed every day on which school is in session, at all schools in the State which are supported even in part by public funds. In 2001 the law was expanded to require state flags to be flown at county courthouses, state offices, and municipal buildings.
Salute - Flag of Alabama I salute thee. To thee I pledge my allegiance, my service, and my life.

Act 1895-383, Acts of Alabama, February 16, 1895.
Act 23-444, Acts of Alabama, September 26, 1923.
Alabama State Emblems, Alabama Department of Archives and History, nd.

Official Alabama State Coat of Arms
Image provided by Robert Sears

The bill to legalize a state coat of arms was introduced in the Alabama Legislature of 1939 by James Simpson, Jefferson County, and was passed without a dissenting vote by both houses. The coat of arms consists of a shield on which appears the emblems of the five governments that have held sovereignty over Alabama. The flags of Spain, France, Great Britian, the Confederacy are bound by the flag and shield of the United States. This shield is supported on either side by bald eagles, symbolic of courage. The crest is a model of the ship, the Baldine, that Iberville and Bienville sailed from France to settle a colony near present day Mobile (1699). The motto beneath the shield is "Audemus jura nostra defendere." Beneath the motto is the state name.

The original design of the Alabama coat of arms was made in 1923 by B. J. Tieman, New York, an authority on heraldry, at the request of Marie Bankhead Owen, Director of the Department of Archives and History. A few years later Naomi Rabb Winston, Washington, DC, painted the completed design in oil. Mrs. Owen selected the motto which was put into Latin by Professor W.B. Saffold, of the University of Alabama. It was through the influence of Juliet Perry Dixon, wife of Governor Dixon, that official action was taken by the legislature.

The act to adopt an official Coat-of-Arms for the State of Alabama was approved March 14, 1939, Act no. 140.

Acts of Alabama, March 14, 1939
Alabama State Emblems, Alabama Department of Archives and History, n.d.

State Flower,  the Camellia

State Wildflower - Oak-leaf Hydrangea

AHGP Henry County


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