Ghost Town: St. Stephens


Before arriving to the site of Old St. Stephens travelers happen upon the successor town, New St Stephens.

The town of Old St. Stephens was founded right next to the Tombigbee river, making it the furthest North a boat would have been able to travel at the time via Mobile Bay. Having been originally founded as a Spanish Fort in 1789, Old St Stephens grew to 580 citizens, acting as the one and only capital of the Alabama Territory. By 1833 the “New St Stephens” site had taken over. What exists at the site today is being researched by archaeologists, as the 200 year old remains lay perfectly undisturbed, complete with faux home-fronts, streets and street signs. The only people visiting the site at the time I was there were an elderly couple and a disc golf player.

Old Town and Archaeological Sites

In the early 1800’s St Stephens and its inhabitants were given bad reviews by government officials and ministers. The following quotes are from the St. Stephens Wikipedia article:

In 1804 Ephraim Kirby was appointed superior court judge of the Mississippi Territory by President Thomas Jefferson. In a letter to the president, Kirby described the inhabitants of St. Stephens as “illiterate, wild and savage, of depraved morals, unworthy of public confidence or private esteems, litigious, disunited, and knowing each other, universally distrustful of each other.”

Pioneer minister Lorenzo Dow saw these weak points as a challenge, especially when he was asked to leave town. Dow, in a dramatic manner, prophesied the town’s demise within a century, that it would become a “roosting place for bats and owls” and a ruin in which “no stone would lie upon another.”

Shot on Canon EOS M100, 15-50mm by Luke Schlauder

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