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Three Governors from Greensboro, Alabama

Three Governors from Greensboro, Alabama

By Jabe Fincher

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2012 Jabe Fincher



Three Governors from Greensboro, Alabama

By Jabe Fincher

Three individuals: Israel Pickens, John Gayle and Thomas Seay have progressed from being citizens of Greensboro to becoming Governor of the State of Alabama. Each uniquely affected the political, economic and social position of the state. From Israel Pickens in the formative years to Thomas Seay in the years after Reconstruction, each contributed to the peculiarity of this Deep South state. Individually, these men influenced the state positively and negatively. But each man possessed the common characteristic of claiming Greensboro as his residence at some point in his life.

Greensboro History

Greensboro, Alabama, is 90 miles southwest of Birmingham, 35 miles south of Tuscaloosa and 90 miles northwest of Montgomery. Greensboro, located in the area known as the Black Belt, currently hails as the "Catfish capital of Alabama." Greensboro is situated in the north-central portion of Hale County, Alabama, in latitude 32(42' north, longitude 87(35' west, and at an elevation of 220 feet above sea level. The average temperature is 64( and the annual precipitation averages approximately 50 inches. The population of Greensboro in 1860 was estimated at 1600; in 1870 it was 1760; in 1880, 1834; in 1890, 1759; in 1900, 2416; and in 1990, 3248.

There is considerable French influence in and around Greensboro. Several homes were built by people of French descent and there are several families still in the area that are of French descent. The region one mile west of Greensboro was the eastern side of the ruined Vine and Olive Colony granted to French Bonapartist exiles in 1817. In relation to modern towns and landmarks, the lower part of the grant was in the premium segment of the Black Belt, known then and now as the Canebreak. Today, Highway 80 between Demopolis and Faunsdale forms the southern perimeter of the grant. The Black Belt, despite its rich and fertile soil, is unfavorable to many plants. The rich soil and the severe climate strained the grapes and olives. Neither of these crops prospered well for the French. Six miles west of Greensboro, near Sawyerville, there is a tract still known as the French Woods. Just east of the French Woods there is an old burial ground with only two of the graves bearing inscriptions. These two graves are of French people from the area. In Greensboro, one of the old French homes still stands in good condition. It is known as the Noel-Ramsey House (sometimes called the Old French House). This home was built in 1821 by Thomas Noel, a Frenchman from Santo Domingo. Noel was a French refugee who, fleeing the West Indies after an insurrection in the early 1800s, eventually joined the ill-fated Vine and Olive Colony near Demopolis. He was disappointed by the Colony's bad fortune there and Noel and his family moved to New Troy (Greensboro) around 1820.

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