—Creek Heritage Trail —
Russell County was one of several counties created by the Alabama legislature in December, 1832 from land that had been part of the Creeks' ancestral homeland. The community of Girard (modern Phenix City) along the Chattahoochee River became the first county seat. In 1834, the seat moved to the more centrally located village of Crockettsville later Crawford).
Following the Civil War, several new counties were created in eastern Alabama and older ones reduced in size. Much of the northern section of the original Russell County became part of Lee County in 1866. As this left the county seat of Crawford on the very northern limit of the new borders, officials sought a more central courthouse location. The small community of Seale, sitting in the very center of the redrawn Russell County, eventually was chosen.
Originally, known as Silver Run, Seale had been established in the early 1850s when it became clear the developing Mobile and Girard Railroad would run through the area. American settlement of the Seale vicinity goes back to the early 1830s, however, and a private school had been founded in the area as early as 1837 to serve a small community known as "Peru." After local completion of work on the Mobile and Girard, the station at Silver Run became known as "Seale's Station," in honor of Captain Arnold Seale.
The community officially changed its name to Seale in 1856. By the time of the Civil War, Seale contained several businesses and a population of about 350 people.
Russell County during The Creek War of 1813-14
The Russell County Courthouse was constructed in 1868, and underwent significant remodeling in 1908. The courthouse helped define the limits of the Town of Seale, which extended out one mile from the structure in all directions. In 1935 the county seat was moved to Phenix City, with this facility becoming a branch courthouse. This arrangement continued until 1943, when all county government offices moved to Phenix City and the old courthouse closed. Over the years the facility has been used by the local draft board, the Russell County School District, and a variety of local nonprofit groups. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area that became Russell County played an important role in the Creek War of 1813-14. Within the current county borders stood several important Creek villages, most notably the Creek cultural, governmental, and population center of Coweta.. American military forces constructed two strategic outposts as bases of supply here during the conflict—Fort Mitchell near the Chattahoochee and Fort Bainbridge near what is now the Russell-Macon County line. Both lay along the
path of the Federal Road, a primary transportation route during the era which connected eastern Georgia with the Mobile, Alabama area.
Left top: Map of Alabama by John LA Tourette, 1838
Left bottom: (Left) Glennville Street, ca. late 1800s
(Right) Map of Alabama and Georgia by Asher and Adams, 1874, showing Seale and the route of the Mobile and Girard Railroad
Middle left: Image of Gilbert C. Russell on a hand-painted brooch, ca. 1819. Courtesy of Ben W. Snyder. The legislature named he new county in honor of Col. Gilbert Christian Russell. A native of Tennessee, Russell served as a Colonel in the Federal Army during the Creek War of 1813-14 and afterwards made his home in Mobile, Alabama.
Middle right: Columbus Times and Sentinel, November 22, 1854
Right top: The courthouse prior to restoration.
Right bottom: The Federal Road during the Creek War of 1813-14