Blakeley in Baldwin County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
The Town of Blakeley
Founder and Founding
Blakeley was named for Connecticut native Josiah Blakeley, who planned the town on a tract of land he purchased from early settler Joseph Chastang. Blakeley had settled in Mobile around 1806 while the area still lay under the control of Spain, and had soon acquired several thousand acres of property in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta region. Blakeley believed the natural deep harbor at this site on the Tensaw River offered several advantages to shipping via the much shallower port at Mobile. Shortly after the area came under American control in 1813, Blakeley hired a surveyor to plot his town and the first lots were sold soon after. The town of Blakeley was formally incorporated on January 6, 1814. Unfortunately, Josiah Blakeley died the following year, before he could see his dreams become a reality.
At the time of its founding, Blakeley lay within the Mississippi Territory, which was in 1817 divided into the state of Mississippi and the Alabama Territory. Following Alabama's admission to the Union in 1819, Blakeley experienced a brief period of explosive population growth. By most estimates, at least 2,000 people lived in the town and immediate vicinity by the mid-1820s—making it approximately as large as Mobile. In 1820 Blakeley became the seat of government for Baldwin County, and two years later the growing city was designated an official port of entry for the the United States. During its heyday, Blakeley boasted a newspaper and several stores and hotels. Some of the earliest steamboats to operate in the state of Alabama were built here as well.
A combination of factors brought Blakeley's growth to a halt and ultimately led to its decline. These included rapid inflation of real estate prices due to speculation by investors and navigational improvements to the harbor at Mobile. Perhaps most importantly, recurring epidemics of yellow fever—a deadly viral disease common to riverfront towns and carried by mosquitoes—killed many residents and left the community with a reputation as an unhealthy place. By the mid-1830s, only a small portion of Blakeley's population remained. While the community remained the
Top left: Plan of the Town of Blakeley, 1823
Bottom left: 1822 map of Alabama (detail). In early records and maps Blakeley was often misspelled as "Blakely"
Middle ads: Advertisements from the pages of the Blakeley Sun, 1818-1819
Top right: Some of the residents who left Blakeley took their homes with them. The Reingard House, which stood in Mobile until the 1960s, was built in Blakeley in 1820. In 1829 its owners had it taken apart, shipped to Mobile, and reassembled.
Bottom right: The ruins of the town remained a popular spot for generations of curious visitors prior to the establishment of the park. In this ca. 1900 image, a visitor stands in front of the lone remaining wall of the courthouse.
Erected 2017 by Historic Blakeley State Park & Gulf Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council.
Location. 30° 44.643′ N, 87° 55.445′ W. Marker is in Blakeley, Alabama, in Baldwin County. Marker is on Franklin Street 0.1 miles north of Washington Avenue, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Located at Washington Square in "Old Town". Marker is at or near this postal address: Franklin Street, Spanish Fort AL 36527, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of Baldwin County's First Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); The Apalachee Village (approx. ¼ mile away); The Bottle Creek Site (approx. ¼ mile away); Redoubt Six (approx. half a mile away); Battle of Blakeley (approx. half a mile away); Alabama (approx. half a mile away); Fort Blakeley (Fort Blakely*) (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Battle of Fort Blakeley (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Blakeley.
Also see . . . Alabama Pioneers. The great city Josiah Blakeley envisioned, prospered for awhile but is now a ghost town in Alabama. (Submitted on April 7, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • Disasters • Government • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2019. This page originally submitted on April 7, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 7, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.