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JCHA MARKER PROGRAM

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Edgewood Lake sign

Historical Marker Locations

  • Independent Presbyterian Church
  • The Little Theatre
  • The Alabama Theatre
  • Shades Valley High School (original site)
  • Mountain Brook
  • Homewood
  • Rosedale
  • Hollywood
  • Edgewood
  • Briarwood Presbyterian Church
  • Will Franke/Early Mountain Brook Village
  • St. Vincent's Hospital
  • Oldest House in Shades Valley/Irondale Furnace Commissary
  • Union Hill Cemetery/Union Hill Methodist Episcopal Church/Union Hill School
  • Lane Park
  • Birmingham Water Works Company/Cahaba Pumping Station
  • Irondale Furnace/Wallace S. McElwain
  • The Old Mill/Robert Jemison, Jr.
  • Brock's Gap/The South & North Railroad Cut/Gateway to Birmingham
  • Canterbury United Methodist Church
  • Edgewood Lake

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This Month in Jefferson County History

April 1, 1956: Autherine Lucy of Birmingham becomes the first African American to enroll at the University of Alabama. Her stay ended abruptly, however, as she was suspended amid campus unrest.

April 2, 1987: Dr. Charles A. McCallum, Jr., became third president of UAB.

April 8, 1911: An explosion at Jefferson County’s Banner Mine kills 129 miners.

April 8, 1927: Horace Devaughn, convicted of double murder in Jefferson County, is executed at Kilby Prison marking Alabama's first use of the electric chair.

April 10, 1956: Singer Nat King Cole was attacked on stage at Boutwell Auditorium in a racial incident that led to the arrest of six.

April 12, 1887: Alabama industrialist Henry DeBardeleben and his partners sell the first lots for the new city of Bessemer.

April 15, 1956: A Sunday afternoon tornado touches down in western Jefferson County, killing 25 people and injuring 200, most of whom lived in the Stacey Hollow and McDonald's Chapel communities.

April 16, 1963: Martin Luther King pens his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" written on the margins of a newspaper.

April 23, 1989: The first artificial heart used in Alabama was implanted at University Hospital as a temporary measure while the patient awaited a heart transplant. Dr. William L. Holman implanted the ventricular-assist device.

April 30, 1961: Children's Hospital was dedicated adjacent to the Medical Center.

ABOUT US

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Jefferson County Historical Association meeting

Recent meeting of the Jefferson County Historical Association

The Jefferson County Historical Association is dedicated to preserving and publicizing local history through regular meetings, publications and events. Founded in 1975 to promote historical preservation efforts, the society has grown to over 300 members.

It meets four times a year to hear outstanding speakers, plan programs and projects and discuss items of mutual interest. The society is governed by a 16-member board of directors chaired by the JCHA president. Several committees are at work on projects including media outreach, publications, awards and historical markers.

The JCHA newsletter is mailed to members and is also available on this site.

Formerly known as the Birmingham-Jefferson Historical Society, the organization changed its name in 2010 to better reflect its mission to the metropolitan area.

Josiah Morris

Josiah Morris–an early founder of Birmingham

Jefferson County, founded in 1819 and named for the fourth U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, grew rapidly in the early 1880s to become the largest county in Alabama. It is the location of 35 municipalities including Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city.

While the original immigrants, mostly veterans from the War of 1812, had agricultural pursuits in mind their attention quickly shifted to the area’s immense mineral wealth which gave rise to the iron and steel industry. By 1910, Alabama, largely because of the mines and mills in and around Birmingham, ranked third in the nation in iron ore mining and fourth in pig iron production. It also became a major steel producer.

Southern Railway train Sunnyland

Southern Railway train "Sunnyland" leaving Birmingham, 1948

Today, Birmingham, founded six years after the Civil War ended, is the South’s leading industrial center.

Since 1992, the JCHA has erected 20 historical markers throughout Jefferson County, the most of any local historical society. The 30" x 42" cast aluminum markers cost about $2,200 each with funding coming from interested parties.

Tom West, chairman of the Marker Committee and the innovator of the program, refers to the signs as "a history book on a pole." Persons wishing to suggest a subject and location for a historical marker should contact Mr. West at 205-871-5365. A review committee consists of two society members and an interested third party.

Ensley mill 1909

Ensley Steel Mill circa 1909

Downtown Birmingham Today

Interior, General Waiting Room, Terminal Station in Birmingham.
This structure, built in 1909, was torn down in 1969.

Downtown Birmingham Today

Terminal Station circa 1950's