History shows that Alabama was named for an Indian tribe that settled in Coosada. The story goes that the Indians came from the west between 1520 and 1535. They were a wandering tribe who followed “the shadow of the pole”, travelling each day in the direction the pole pointed. One day they arrived on the banks of a mighty river and once again drove the pole into the ground. The next morning the pole was standing straight with no shadow, and the Indians settled the area. The Indians gave the name “Alabamos”, which is the Indian word for “Here We Rest,” to the land and the river and took the name for the tribe as well. The Alabamos Indians named their village “Koasati”, meaning “White Cane”, and the history of the Town of Coosada was begun.
In 1714 the Indian Tribe was visited by French Explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Bienville, who founded New Orleans. Bienville resolved to build a fort nearby which he named for the Alabamos Indians. Later the fort was redistricted in honor of Count Toulousa and is now Fort Toulouse located approximately 10 miles from Coosada near Wetumpka.
In the early 1800’s pioneers began settling Coosada. The Indians ultimately moved into reservations. In 1816 William Wyatt Bibb, who was associated with land companies, arrived in Alabama and established a land estate. Bibb surveyed and laid out the Town of Coosada on the same site as the Koasati village. The town was laid out with 116 lots, a boat landing and an academy. Bibb was appointed Governor of the Alabama Territory in 1817 and in 1819 was appointed as the first Governor of the new State of Alabama. Bibb built his home in Coosada.
Since being settled by Indians, Coosada has had a colorful past. It was an active railroad and pioneer town and, Coosada was the location of some of the earliest industrial activity in the South. Coosada has maintained its identity as the birthplace of heritage in Alabama, and traces of the past are visible throughout the town.
Today, Coosada attracts many people, from all parts of the United States, in search of their family origins, as well as people generally interested in the town’s historical background.
For those interested in scenic sites, recreation and small town lifestyle, Coosada has something to offer. While you are visiting in Alabama, come by Coosada. It’s a sure bet you’ll find a treasure to remember us by.
1535 to 1814
Village named of the Alabamos Indians who settled the area
1760 to 1814
Couchati, Coushatta, Conchatys, Coosawlee, Coosaudee
Various Indian spellings and pronunciations of the original “Koasati”
Spelling given by white pioneers as they settled the area
A railroad sign painter left out the “w” in Coosawda, making the spelling “Coosada” ever since
Incorporated as a town with the present spelling
Coosada may be the oldest continuously inhabited town in Alabama. Many historians believe that the Native American village referenced in the journals of the Spanish explorer Desoto, was Koasati (which was changed to Coosada). Koasati does appear on many French maps of the area drawn during the 1600’s. Records of the French explorer Bienville show that he visited the village in 1714. He used the village as a base of operations and explored the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers. As a result of these ventures, he decided to build a fort which is now known as Fort Toulouse.
During the War of 1812, the village was burned. But some of the residents remained and rebuilt part of the settlement. By 1816, many settlers were coming to the area and most of the Native Americans moved west.William Wyatt Bibb
One of the early settlers was William Wyatt Bibb. His family established a land estate in Coosada in 1816. A town was surveyed and platted on the site of the original village. By 1818, Coosawda (original English spelling) had an academy, a sawmill, many homes and was home to the first Governor, William Wyatt Bibb (His gravesite is a few hundred yards off Coosada Road. A roadside historical marker identifies the entrance.).
In 1821, the first Post Office was established in Coosada and served the surrounding communities of Robinson Springs, Elmore, Edgewood, Rocky Mount, and Millbrook. A ferry service was started with Montgomery with a landing at the end of Coosada Ferry Road.
The construction of the railroad in 1872 played an unusual role in the history of Coosada. In 1889, a sign painter accidentally misspelled Coosawda and since then records show the town to be Coosada.
Coosada is now primarily a residential area with a majority of residents working in Montgomery.
William Wyatt Bibb GravesiteWilliam Wyatt Bibb Gravesite
William Wyatt Bibb, a physician from Georgia, was appointed as Governor of the Territory of Alabama in 1817 by President Monroe, and, in 1819 was elected the first Governor of the State of Alabama. As governor, Bibb placed special emphasis on two issues which confront Alabamians today: the need for education and the need for improvements in transportation. William Wyatt Bibb was related to Martha Washington, our first president’s wife, through his mother’s family. In 1820 while riding in the forest of his estate in Coosada, Governor Bibb fell from his horse and received an injury from which he never recovered. He died in his home in that same year and was buried in the family cemetery. Although the house is no longer standing, the Bibb family cemetery and the gravesite of William Wyatt Bibb is still intact. The site is marked with a national historic marker.
One of the outstanding nineteenth-century landmarks of the area, The Elms, built by Absalem Jackson in 1836, is located just northeast of the intersection of Lindsay Road and Airport Road. The approach to the home, which is a long wooded drive with large trees trailing Spanish moss, is equally impressive as the house itself. The structure closely resembles the Post-Colonial – Greek Revival style homes of the period. It is a symmetrical two-story clapboard house with a narrow front portico surmounted by a pediment roof defined with severe molding. Both the first and second story entrances are expanded with wide transoms and sidelights and a wood balustrade runs around the open sides of the second story porch. The Elms has been restored and is available to rent for special occasions. See under Related Links.
Remnants of lives gone by are on display in the Indian Exhibit which is located in the reception area of the Town Hall. Open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, the exhibit displays Indian artifacts such as pottery, arrowheads, instruments and weapons, as well as artifacts from early settlers of the area. Also on file with the Town Clerk are historical records of Coosada, many of which have been used to trace family origins.
Indian Heritage Monument
I n1993, the Yohola Club, which was a group of five friends, placed a stone monument in front of Town Hall to pay homage to the Indian heritage and influence found in the area. The monument is the result of a promise made while waiting for the results of the town’s first election. The women promised that if Coosada ever had a Town Hall, they would place a marker to honor the community’s Indian heritage.
Parker’s Island is known to have been the homesite of the Indians who settled the area and is believed to have been part of the original Indian complex comprised of Fort Toulouse, Hickory Ground and Parker’s Island. The island was once a peninsula until 1886 when flood waters from the Tallapoosa River cut across the land into the Coosa River forming an island.
Coosada was also home to another Alabama governor, Benjamin Fitzpatrick and to John Archer Elmore, a hero of the American Revolution, and from whom Elmore County took its name. Governor Fitzpatrick (1841-1845) built his home in Coosada in 1830. Unfortunately, a fire in early 1970’s destroyed a good portion of the house and only ruins remain. John Archer Elmore built his home, Huntington, in the early 1800’s. Like the Fitzpatrick home and Huntington, many of Coosada’s historical features are not available for public viewing. There are, however, many private homes in Coosada and the surrounding area that are of historic and architectural interest. So don’t forget Coosada and the chance to see where Alabama heritage began.