Columbia Alabama was founded in the year 1820 and is one of the oldest towns in the State.
It served as a major trading center for several communities throughout the Wire-grass region, between the years 1822-1833.
It borders the State of Georgia as well as the Chattahoochee River.
It used to be a major port of call for steamboats for several years in the 1800’s, and it was known as “Old Columbia”.
The town was officially incorporated on April 29, 1880, and was the major center for education, trade, commerce, and culture.
It was the largest town in the immediate area at the time and remained that way through the 19th century.
It is not only one of the oldest towns in the state of Alabama; it is one of the oldest continuing operating municipalities.
It received its first cotton textile mill in the year 1891, as well as its first electric plant in 1892.
There was also a branch of the Henry County courthouse located there from 1889, until it became part of Houston County in 1903.
In the year 1900, the town was fitted with electric streetlights.
However, its real boom was when it was thriving as an inland port town.
It went from no more than a frontier settlement to a town that included stores, warehouses, churches and several homes.
It handled most of the plantation trade, as well as all of the farms in the area.
The riverboats stopped in Columbia as they headed both up as well as down the Chattahoochee River.
During these stops it picked up the cargos’ of cotton, lumber, as well as several other products, while it unloaded both necessities and luxuries needed for a growing town.
The Columbia Methodist Church was established in 1832, and the oldest graves in the city date back to the year 1830.
The Cemetery is famous for the way that it decorated its graves, with unique stone carvings.
During the Civil War, the Confederate soldiers would both board and get off of the traveling steamboats.
Because of its strategic location and the huge areas of very rich farmland, it became extremely important to the Confederate Army.
There are records that showed Confederate Troops in three states, Georgia, Florida, as well as Alabama, received army supplies in this important port town.
It was also considered to be a “tax in kind” station or depot, where the citizens would pay taxes in farm products like corn and other amenities.
It was located just upriver for the Confederate Navy Yard in Georgia.
However, all of this prosperity suddenly stopped when the Union blocked the Chattahoochee River right after the war.
There are several pre-Civil War homes that still dot the landscape in this picturesque southern town.
To add insult to injury, at the turn of the 20th century, the railroad s began to replace the steamboats all up and down the river, and the town of Columbia was no different.
However, despite all of these obstacles, the town of Columbia Alabama was still able to sustain a thriving farming community.
The two most historic sites to see in the town today are the following.
The old Columbia jail was built in the early 1960’s and is one of the last of the wooden jails that are still standing in the state of Alabama.
It contains two 10 by 15-foot cells that have spike studded walls.
These iron studded spikes were placed every two inches to prevent anyone from escaping.
The Columbia Women’s Club as well as the Columbia Bicentennial Committee has completely renovated the jail.
They have also preserved it as a museum.
The Purcell-Killingworth House is also known as the “Travelers Rest”, and it was built in 1890 by William Purcell.
He was a very prominent businessman in the town, as well as a politician.
He had several business interests that included the steamboat landing.
He sold the home to Mr. Henry Killingworth who restored the imposing mansion.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 16, 1962.
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