Old Cahawba
Photos and Comments

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This is not the officialCahawba website--for that, please click the above link. Instead, this ismy own collection of photos that are not only related to Cahawba but alsoto my family and ancestors. For a collection of other links that areCahaba-related, please click here.

Old Cahawba, located in Dallas County, Alabama, has two vitallyimportant and interdependent parts. First, the park itself--siteof the first capital of the State of Alabama and the first county seatof Dallas County--is located about five miles southeast of the junctionin Beloit of Alabama Route 22 and Dallas CR 9. Second, the historic JohnTyler Morgan house--now the offices and headquarters of the Old CahawbaArchaeolgy Project--is located about fifteen miles from the park at 719Tremont St., Selma, AL.

I'm a Cahawba descendent. Two of my ggg-grandparents, John Gwinand his wife, Jane Walker Gwin, of Sevier and Blount Counties, TN, respectively,and their nine children and their families, were all Cahawba residents,as were Col. Nathaniel Burdine Wilson and his wife, Jane Jones Wilson--twomore of my ggg-grandparents, and most if not all of their eleven childrenand families. The Gwins were in the county both before and after statehoodand the Wilsons shortly after.

I hope you enjoy these pictures and can benefit from other pages onmy site. Please e.mail me if you have any questions, comments, corrections(data-related, typos, broken links, etc.).

John Gwin

The Alabama Historic Commission acquired the old John TylerMorgan homeplace for the offices of the "Center for Cahawba Archaeology".
The Alabama Historic Commission sign out front reads:


This was the residence of John Tyler Morgan (1824-1907), oneof Alabama's mort honored political and military leaders. Constructed in1859 by Thomas R. Wetmore, it was purchased by Morgan in 1865 and servedfor many years as his personal residence.
Morgan was a leader in the Secession Convention, ranking second onlyto William Lowndes Yancey in influence and power of debate. During thewar, he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private and promoted throughtthe ranks to Brigadier General.
A practicing attorney, he opposed Radical Reconstruction and in 1876was elected tgo the U.S. Senate, where his 30-year tenure proved to beone of the longest in history. He is known as the "Father of the IsthmianCanal" and for his services on the Bering Sea Fisheries Commission, whichprevented the extinction of seals and other sea life in Pacific waters.
National Register of Historic Places 9-27-1972
One enters through the foyer, graced by the beautiful staircase, clock,and chandelier. The hardwood floors and wood trim almost all original andvery well preserved. A conference table in the dining room is surroundedby modest but comfortable seating for visitors, workers, and guests.
Off the foyer to the right is the parlor, which todayis Jonathan's office. He serves as everything from receptionist to right-handman to fill-in-the-blank--and all with a smile! (Real Cahawbans are gladto serve!) Director Linda Derry speaks with him here about a business matter.
Ms. Linda Derry is the Director of the Cahawba Project and residentarchaeologist, historian, and any number of other hard-to-fill positions.One of her highest priority goals right now is acquiring funds for thepurchase of more land for the park. Years ago, private parties and otherindividuals bought parts of the town for their summer or winter homes,fishing camps, etc. When the Alabama Historic Commission created the CahawbaState Park several years ago and brought Linda on board as its director,the acreage owned by the park was much less than it is today, but thanksto her efforts, that acreage has greatly expanded. Nevertheless, the goalof putting all the town's land back into the custody of the park is stilla long ways off, and with present budget cutbacks from the state, she'shad to not only trim her staff of dedicated workers but also limit herown involvement in her first love of archaeological search and rescue andrestoration.
The sign reads:
Burials in this cemetery, which served Cahaba
from 1848 to 1900, tell a story of the town
in which many deaths resulted from diseases
of infancy, childhood, and early adult life,
yellow fever being a large factor. Because
of proximity to Gulf of Mexico ports, Cahaba
had many plagues brought in by a constantly
changing population. The famous Bell monument
is in this cemetery.
Alabama Historical Commission
On the western edge of town lies this New Cemetery. Many of its denizens'graves are unmarked, many of the stones vandalized over the years. Thisholy ground is now well maintained, however, by the faithful staff of theCahawba Project.
While more than four of my kinspeople are likely buriedhere, there are indeed four whose stones remain intact or partially intact.My ggg-grandmother Jane Walker Gwin, was born ca. 1795, raised,and married 12 Apr 1812 to John Gwin, all in Blount Co., TN. Shedied sometime between 1864 (when she and her husband negotiated one oftheir last real estate deals, and the 1870 census, when John alone wasliving with their son and daughter-in-law, William and RoseAnnCarlisle Jones Wilson Gwin, in Wilsonville, Shelby Co., AL. The stonesimply says,
Buried just west of her is their youngest daughter, Louisa GwinMcKnight, wife of William McKnight, and my own gg-grandaunt.Like her mother's, this stone is also very succinct:

While there is no sign of his grave in that location, this portion ofWilliam's uprooted gravestone was found many yards away inside the fencesurrounding Dr. Ulmer's and several others' graves. This leads me to believethat he is buried near if not next to Louisa. The remaining bottom of hisstone lets us know that it is likely the same in style as the others:

"...WM. McKNIGH..."

I speculate that all three graves were marked only with these marbleheadstones; 
1. that all were broken by vandals, his being carried to another site; 
2. that later visitors found the two women's stones and mounted thematop concrete slabs at their (actual or estimated) gravesites; and
3. that this explains why no slab exists for his grave.

It is my future desire to pour a similar or smaller slab west of Louisa'sand mount this remaining piece of his stone upon it. I'd also like to poura fourth slab to the north of all three and mount there a brass memorialplate with known vital information about all three. 

The grave of my gg-grandpa William Basset, whosedaughter Ida Eliza married John and Jane's grandson, WilliamSutton Gwin, reads as follows:
FEB. 21, 1812
DIED MARCH 5, 1866
He was a tailor by trade and is said to have made uniformsfor the confederate army. He is also said to have died of smallpox in Cahaba.
The grave of his widow, Harriet Bowley Basset, is said to belocated near Tilden, AL in southwestern Dallas Co., next to that of theirsons, James and John.