“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Decatur in Morgan County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

Dancy-Polk House (circa 1829)

“A Hard Nut To Crack”

— The Battle For Decatur —

Dancy-Polk House (circa 1829) Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
1. Dancy-Polk House (circa 1829) Marker
Inscription.  The oldest home in Decatur still standing, this Early Classical Revival mansion was built by Frank Dancy and was a private residence until 1872, when it became a boarding house and hotel. During the Civil War, the home belonged to Dancy’s daughter, Caroline Wood, and occupied the front center of Union fortifications during the October 1864 Battle for Decatur, and was used as Federal officer’ quarters. Tradition holds that a Confederate 6-pounder cannon ball, fired from the Confederate lines south of here, struck and dislodge one of the chestnut columns on the lower front porch. The column was subsequently repaired, and the patch can still be seen today. Local legend also maintains that the main staircase was damaged by Federal cavalrymen during its occupation. The house passed to Dancy’s granddaughter, Lavinia, in 1869, after she married Captain Thomas G. Polk, a nephew of late Confederate General Leonidas Polk and cousin of late U. S. President James Knox Polk. One of a handful of structures in Decatur to survive the Civil War, the Polk House, as it was later known, became a popular stopping point for train passengers. Joseph Wheeler, a Confederate
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General, later a U. S. Congressman and U. S. General, and a resident of Courtland west of Decatur, is known to have stayed at the Polk House. Noted outlaw Frank James allegedly stayed at the Polk House under an assumed name in 1883. James later said that he never committed any robberies in Decatur because “there was nothing worth carrying off.”
Erected by City of Decatur. (Marker Number 5.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #11 James K. Polk series list. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1864.
Location. 34° 36.877′ N, 86° 59.106′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Alabama, in Morgan County. Marker is at the intersection of Church Street Northwest and Railroad Street Northwest, on the left when traveling east on Church Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Decatur AL 35602, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. “An Affair Most Important to Us” - The Federal Right, October 27-28, 1864 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Two Bridges Across The Tennessee River (about 400 feet away); Historic Downtown/Founders Park (about 500 feet away); Rising Sun Lodge No. 29 (about 500 feet away); Old State Bank Building
Tour Stop 5 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
2. Tour Stop 5
(about 500 feet away); To Commemorate the Passage of The Olympic Torch (about 500 feet away); Old Decatur Historic District / Old State Bank (about 500 feet away); Decatur and The Civil War in North Alabama (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
Lower Left Photo image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
3. Lower Left Photo
Rear of the Polk House in 1864-1865 probably taken from roof of Burleson House. The rear porch of the house is missing, and may have been dismantled and burned for fuel, used to construct fortifications, or to construct the huts you see in the foreground. Photo on marker courtesy Jeff and Jan Lea, Dancy-Polk House.
Lower Right Photo image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
4. Lower Right Photo
Following the permanent occupation of Decatur by Federal troops in March, 1864, the Dancy-Polk House was surrounded by permanent camps for approximately 1,500, and often more, Federal soldiers. These photographs were probably taken at the same time from the Burleson House. Note the Federal fortifications in the background. Photo attributed to Jonathan Ford Baggs Collection.
Dancy-Polk House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Carr, February 20, 2010
5. Dancy-Polk House
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on March 6, 2010, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. This page has been viewed 3,286 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 6, 2010, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 20, 2024