Red Mountain, where you are standing, and Jones Valley, which stretches before you, were sites of human activity long before Birmingham's founding in 1871.
Native American presence
Recorded history and archaeological evidence indicate the presence of Native American people in Jones Valley stretching back 12,000 years.
· From 1500 to 1800 members of Alabama's Creek Nation fished and hunted in the area.
· The Creeks, or Muscogee, are believed by many to descend from the mound-building people who flourished in the area from 1000 to 1450.
Pioneers from Virginia, the Carolinas, and other states settled throughout Jefferson County and lent their names to towns and communities that dot the valley to this day.
· Among the first pioneers was John Jones, who traveled from Tennessee in 1815 to settle in the valley that today bears his name.
· By 1860, only 12,000 people lived in Jefferson County, and farming was the main occupation.
Toward an iron Industry
Although the dream of an industrial city in Jones Valley would not be realized until after the Civil War, iron sparked he imagination of early settlers and visitors to the area in the decades preceding the city's founding.
· One early inhabitant, Baylis Grace, was said to first prove that Red Mountain contains iron ore when he sent local ore to a nearby forge and got back wrought-iron bars.
· Local iron, processed in Civil War foundries in Irondale, Tannehill, and Oxmoor, supported the manufacture of armaments of Selma.