Historic Markers Across Alabama

St. James Hotel

Marker ID:  
Location: At Washington and Water Streets, Selma, AL
County: Dallas
Coordinates: N 32° 24.419    W 087° 01.079
  32.40698333    -87.01798333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMNCZ4


(side 1)

Headquarters of General James H. Wilson following the Battle of Selma, April 2, 1865. This occupation protected the hotel from the arson and looting in the first 24 hours that destroyed much of downtown. In the next week Wilson methodically burned the huge military/industrial complex that had sustained the Confederate War effort. By April 10th he had built his pontoon bridge and he was off to capture Montgomery.

The Gee House Hotel, as the St. James was then known, was owned by Major W. H. Gee. However, the hotel and adjoining livery stable were actually managed by his slave Ben. Born in Weldon, North Carolina in 1825, Ben was brought to Selma by his former Mistress Elizabeth Turner in 1830. Ben, an industrious businessman, by the time of the Civil War had saved money and bought property. He became more prosperous in Selma's booming war time economy. Ben even bought Confederate Bonds. While Ben was freed after the Battle of Selma, he along with his white neighbors suffered great financial loss. After the War he continued his successful business practices and became involved in the Republican Party. In 1867 he was appointed Tax Collector and in 1869 he was elected to the Selma City Council.

In 1872 Benjamin Sterling Turner former slave and self-made businessman was elected the first African-American U.S. Representative from Alabama. Benjamin S. Turner died in 1894 and is buried in Old Live Oak Cemetery.

(side 2)
Contains a map of the Battle of Selma

Map of the City of Selma and its Defenses.
Captured by assault by the Cavalry Corps., M.D.M., April 2d, 1865. Bvt Maj. Gen. J.H. Wilson, Com'd'g.
Surveyed and drawn by Capt. H.E. Noyes, 2d U.S. Cavalry, A.D.C.

April 1865 Society

End of St. James Hotel