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Nine Days Traveling Book cover

Nine Days Traveling

Lafayette's 1825 Alabama Tour, Today's Historical Road Trip

In 1824, President James Monroe invited the last surviving General from the Revolutionary War, the French-born Marquis de Lafayette, to return the United States to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Revolution.  Among the 24 states Lafayette visited in over 12 months was Alabama.  He spent nine days traveling from the Chattahoochee River, through the Creek Indian Nation along the Federal Road—arguably the first Interstate highway—to Montgomery, then down the Alabama River via the new, fast transportation, the steamboat, to tropical, and formerly French, Mobile, and Gulf Coast forts at Mobile Point. 

    The Bicentennial of Lafayette's Grand Tour is fast approaching!  If after 200 years Lafayette came back and traveled the route again, what would he see?  What would be different?  What would be the same? 

 

And how would you travel the route today?

 

Nine Days Traveling is your guide book to Lafayette’s Grand Tour of Alabama, with dozens of maps, including Lafayette walking tour maps for Fort Mitchell, Montgomery, Old Cahaba, Claiborne, and Mobile, more than 50 historical sites, 37 of which are directly related to Lafayette, visible Federal Road traces in Russell, Macon and Montgomery Counties, and over ninety photographs!  Revisit 1825...today!


TIMELINE OF LAFAYETTE IN ALABAMA


March 31
Lafayette crosses the Chattahoochee River from today's Fort Benning to Fort Mitchell.  He is greeted by both Creek Indians and Alabama militia and politicians.  After speeches and watching the Creeks play a vicious lacrosse-like game, he sets off down the Federal Road just a few miles and stops for the night at Crabtree's Tavern, at the junction of the Big and Little Uchee Creeks.
April 1
Spends the day traveling with his escorts down the Federal Road, more or less following Russell County's CR 137, then Carden Road, CR 22, through forests to Boromville Road into Macon County past Fort Bainbridge. Deciding not to stay at Lewis' Tavern as planned Lafayette instead follows today's Upper Boromville Road and CR 10 to Warrior Stand where he spent the night at Creek chief Big Warrior's Stand.  Unfortunately Big Warrior himself had died three weeks earlier.
  • Here is a broadcast of an episode of "The Ridge" podcast discussing the book, Lafayette's history and his Grand Tour in general, and the specifics of his tour through Russell and Macon counties.
April 2
Much of Lafayette's travels today are through the Persimmon and Calebee Creek swamps rarely following roads existing today, though a piece of his Federal Road exists as Persimmon Creek Road south of Tuskegee.  Near the end of his day he again declines to stay at an expected stop, William Walker's Tavern at Polecat Springs, today along US 80 near CR 7, and instead heads along a (today!) paved section of the Federal Road ending up across Line Creek in Montgomery County at Lucas' Tavern (the actual building existing today in Montgomery city in Old Alabama Town).
April 3
More or less following today's US 80 and I-85 to Atlanta Highway, Lafayette is paraded into Montgomery for two days of celebration.  This first day finds him first greeted at the foot of Goat Hill, today the hill crown by the state Capitol.  After speeches he is escorted to Edmondson's Houses where he will stay, attends church at the no-longer-existing courthouse where today's fountain sits, and spends the rest of the day conversing with people at Edmondson's, in the first block of Commerce Street.

  • Alabama Public Radio WTSU, Dr. Krumenaker talks about Lafayette in Montgomery, 9.5 minutes, In Focus, July 1, 2020
  • 1 page Walking Tour Map for   Montgomery   
April 4
In early evening, Lafayette is escorted to Freeny's Tavern, at Tallapoosa and Commerce, for his welcoming ball.  Around 11, he leaves for an hour of refreshment at Intendent (sort of the Mayor) John Gindrat's home on Commerce before heading to his steamboat--a new-fangled, high-speed technology!--one of three, taking him down the Alabama River to Mobile, at the Wharf.  It leaves at midnight.
April 5
Lafayette makes a brief stop at Selma, the steamboat landing site still existing as a gap in the bluff behind the St. James Hotel.  Then, with cannons booming along the way announcing his passage, he boats downriver to Cahawba (the then-spelling of the capital city of the state).  Lafayette disembarks at the sloping-to-the-river North 2nd Street.  Greeted under an arch at the top of the slope where it meets Vine Street, he then heads to a second Arch at Capitol Avenue and into the Capitol itself.  He later enjoys a lunch across the street at White's Hotel, visits the public in the large open Capitol Reserve area, visits the local Masons somewhere, and then heads back to his boat at the end of the day. The various roadways still exist today, but none of the structures.
April 6
Midway down the river Lafayette makes a short stop at the then-important river port of Claiborne. The city is atop a tall bluff so he lands two miles downriver at a ferry point, takes a road (still existing in the woods!) to a courthouse/Masonic Hall, eats at a prominent citizens home, then returns to the boat.  The Masonic Hall was moved decades later two miles down the road to the small town of Perdue Hill after Claiborne fell into post-War ruin, and still exists today.
April 7
Lafayette arrives in Alabama's largest city, Mobile, for an expected days of celebration, but he is exhausted and only agrees to three events that one afternoon.  He leaves his steamboat, the Henderson, at the Government Street Wharf, then ending at today's parking lot entrance, not the River itself, and walks uphill to the then-top of the bluff at Royal Street to be greeted.  The city crowd is met there, mostly in the Street and nearby today's Mardi Gras Park.  Politicos meet with him in the Old Spanish Government House, at the corner of today's Government and St. Emanuel.  Lunch is a few block walk away, at Dumouy's House on Royal and St. Michael.  He decides to visit the local Masonic Hall, then located on Dauphin Street facing the other end of St. Emanuel. By six o'clock he is back at the Wharf sleeping on his new boat, the Natchez, which is to take him to New Orleans.

April 8
But first, Lafayette has decided he wants to meet a French military colleague who is rebuilding Fort Bowyer into what will become Fort Morgan, on Mobile Point where Mobile Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, across from Dauphin Island.  One does not say No to America's Guest, so early this morning, the Natchez leaves Mobile with cannons booming and Lafayette waving to the city, the boat following the Bay's western shoreline until it crosses the channel to Mobile Point.  It ties up at Engineer's Wharf.  There are no official activities or speeches.  Lafayette and his party go onshore and meet with the military builders for a tour for a few hours and then say farewell to the Alabama folks.  A short conference on route takes place offshore before they head south of Dauphin Island, almost disastrously into a storm, and to New Orleans. 



The book opened










A piece of Lafayette-traveled Federal Road

A piece of Lafayette-traveled Federal Road

Nine Days Traveling

Table of Contents

Author’s Preface                        

Acknowledgements                   

Before Lafayette Arrived Here      

A Brief Biography of Lafayette; Alabama; ;From Creek and Georgian Territory to Statehood;  The Federal Road and the Alabama Steamboats;  Tying the Stories Together, 1825 + Today

Let’s Go!  But Wait...Before You Go…                            


Day 1—The Landing, to Crabtree’s                           

Day 2—From Crabtree’s to Big Warrior’s                      

Day 3—From Big Warrior’s to Lucas’ Tavern              

Day 4—Arrival and First Day in        Montgomery
Day 5—Second Day, and                    Departure from Montgomery

Day 6—Selma and Cahawba

Day 7—Claiborne

Day 8—To and in Mobile

Day 9—Mobile Point, and Gone


After Lafayette Left Alabama

Research Notes

Selected Sources

Recommendations for the Future

Tourism Information

Index

About the Author

 

 

Read chapters 1-3 free!

Before Lafayette Arrived Here;
Let's Go! But Wait...Before You Go...;
Day 1--The Landing, to Crabtree's

  Nine Days Traveling Chapters 1-3 (PDF)
(fast, low resolution, 1.83M) 




Nine Days Traveling
Author: Lawrence Krumenaker
ISBN 978-1-930876-14-9
Size: 150 pages; 8.5 x 11 inches
(c) 2020 Hermograph Press LLC, Opelika, AL
Language: English
Paperback, full color, perfect binding.

Price: (US)$26.95 (+S/H and appropriate sales tax)





Lucas' Tavern, one of two buildings that Lafayette went to that still survive today.

Route map sample

Masonic Lodge, in Perdue Hill, formerly in Claiborne.  Lafayette gave a speech here.

Masonic Lodge, in Perdue Hill, once in Claiborne



Reviews and Testimonials:
Don Noble, Tuscaloosa News, June 6, 2021
'Lawrence Krumenaker, in "Nine Days Traveling",.....has meticulously traced every step Lafayette took and has written out a plan whereby we can follow the same route, but by car,.....Now that we are able to move freely about, following Lafayette around Alabama might be great fun for the historically minded."  Also on Don Noble's Book Reviews on Alabama Public Radio June 15, 2021.


"Fantastic work!" - Chuck Schwam, Treasurer, American Friends of Lafayette

REVIEWERS!  If you are a travel, history, or Alabama History journalist and want a copy for a book review, email books@hermograph.com, with some links to past articles and we will arrange to send you either a low-res PDF version of the book or a physical copy.

Retail Outlets

In Mobile, AL you can also find us at:
    The Haunted Book Shop, 109 Dauphin Street.
    Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL (Baldwin County)
   The Gift Shop at Bellingrath Home and Gardens, Theodore, AL (S of the city)

In Orrville, AL (central AL south of Selma):
    Visitor Center, Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, 9518 Cahaba Road.

In Tuskegee, AL, buy our book at:
    The Tuskegee Museum and Visitor Center, 104 S. Elm.

In Fort Mitchell, AL (near Columbus, GA/Phenix City, AL), the book is for sale at:
    Fort Mitchell National Historic Site Visitor Center, 561 AL-165.

Upcoming Book Talks and Presentations

(Many cancelled because of COVID.  Watch this space for future ones when the pandemic is over.)
Oakleigh House Museum, September 23, 2021, 5:30pm, Mobile, AL

Note:  For Zoom talks, we do charge a small fee, but we also offer discount coupons for the book and all items on the Hermograph Press webstore, before or after the talk, to encourage purchases.  Unlike in-person talks, where people can examine a products table before and after the presentation, there is no way to show off the book in a Zoom talk to encourage sales.  The author makes his living from talks and sales so Zoom talks for free, without a products table, are not much of an inducement.

For in-person talks that are not local, we expect enough of an honorarium to cover travel expenses (gas, hotel if necessary, etc.).  We will be available after our second vaccinattion shot (!!) after the First Day of Spring 2021, still providing your group social distances, and are majority-masked.  Having had COVID once (and very very badly), even with a vaccination, the risk of a second round is not worth the sale of any books.

Prior Presentations:

October 25, 2020  Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society (Zoom)
July 18
, 2020 Geneological Society of East Alabama, Museum of East Alabama
July 8, 2020
,   Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile, AL
February 18
, 2020, Opelika Rotary Club, Saugahatchee Country Club.

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