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Moving to Alabama

Few people of extensive wealth moved into the Alabama region during the period of early settlement. Only the man who needed to better his fortune had an inducement to make the necessary sacrifice.

When a man prepared to transplant his establishment, he usually sold the land he held and retained the proceeds for the purchase of his new domain. His household goods and farm implements were packed on wagons and started out on the rough road toward the new home.  It was a tedious journey, the roads being merely clearings through the forest, and without bridges. The smaller streams were forded and crude ferries were established at the larger ones. Yet there were compensations ; hunting along the way afforded diversions for the men, and the campfire about which the wayfarers gathered at night shed a romantic glow upon the faces of those who were traveling into a strange land.

Having reached the place where he was to make his home, the planter constructed a log cabin after the usual manner. Two rooms were built opposite each other and joined by a passageway. Chimneys built of stones or clay-daubed sticks were put up at opposite ends of the structure and great open hearths served for both heating and cooking. A "lean-to" might be attached behind one or both of the rooms, and an attic might be constructed above. Before the introduction of saw mills, the floors were made of puncheons, or logs split in halves, with the flat side upward. The chinks between the logs were filled with clay ; the doors and shutters were of crude boards, and the shingles were hand-split. In such a dwelling, the planter who brought his household furnishings could establish a kind of rude comfort, which sufficed even the wealthiest immigrants during the first few years of their sojourn. The first and only governor of Alabama Territory lived in such a log cabin during- the years of his administration and until his premature death.

But all the newcomers were not even thus fortunately situated. No very extensive tracts of the new land were offered for sale before 1818, and men who had homes to sell in the old states would naturally wish to purchase a location in the new country before removing. Yet, from 1815 onward, men poured into the ceded lands and "squatted" upon them in spite of the law and the Government. It was the policy of the United States to prevent intrusion until surveys could be made and the lands offered for sale at auction. Attempts were made to remove the squatters; the troops were called in and ordered to burn the cabins of those who refused to leave, but it was all of no avail.


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