Historic Markers Across Alabama

Founding of Florence

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of West Tennessee St and South Court St, Florence, AL
County: Lauderdale
Coordinates: N 34° 48.001    W 087° 40.559
  34.80001666    -87.67598333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Founding of Florence
March 1818

(side 1)

Lauderdale County was created b the Territorial Legislature in February 1818. On March 12, 1818, recognized as the Founding Day for Florence, Alabama the Articles of Association was signed by the seven trustees of the newly~organized Cypress Land Company. It was organized for the purpose of establishing a new town that would become the county seat of Lauderdale County. This town was to be at the foot of Muscle Shoals and the head of navigation on the Tennessee River. The signing took place in the Huntsville office of the federal surveyor for North Alabama, General John Coffee. The seven trustee were: Thomas Bibb, John Childress, John Coffee, James Jackson, John McKinley, Danny Morris and Leroy Pope. Coffee, leader of the trustees and principal developer of the new town while all seven trustees became known as the Founding Fathers of Florence. The first action of the new company was the purchase of 5,515.77 acres of land for $85,235.24, or $15.45 per acre, at the land sale in Huntsville. To raise the down payment of $21,308.81, twenty-five percent of the purchase price, the trustees sold 408 shares of stock at $52.23 per share. This large tract of land provided for all possible sites for a new town between Campbell's Ferry, near present-day Wilson Dam, to Cypress Creek. At that time, Florence was an isolated hilltop in the wilderness overlooking the Tennessee River.

(side 2)
In the summer of 1818, John Coffee designed and supervised the surveying of the city of Florence. Ferdinand Sannoner, a native of Italy, and Hunter Peel were employed by the Cypress Land Company as surveyors. Local oral history says Sannoner selected the name"Florence” after the Renaissance City of Florence, Italy. Coffee's plan for the main section of the new town consisted of dividing the area into blocks of two acres in size, further divide into four equal half-acre lots. The principal streets were 115 feet wide; all others 99 feet, and were named for native trees and Alabama rivers. The area was enclosed by Circular Roads and contained 262 lots from 1/2 to 31 acres. Lots were reserved for a Court Square, hotel, college, a cotton factory, livery stable, ferry to cross the Tennessee River, cemetery, park and their downtown churches. The first public land sales in Florence ran from July 22-26, 1818, and grossed nearly $225,000. The earliest business district was at the river's edge, south of here, where there were warehouses and hotel. Development continued up Court Street to the intersection. Hotels and taverns began to locate along Tennessee Street. The courthouse was south of here; below it, at the crest of the hill, was the town spring. The area near the spring was used as a campground for out-of-town people doing business at the county seat. Florence's first residential area was of the west of here. It was not long until mansions began appearing north of here along Court, Pine, and Seminary Streets. Florence was established as a corporate city on January 7, 1826. Twelve aldermen were elected and Alexander H. Wood became the first mayor.

Erected in 2018 by the Florence Bicentennial Committee

End of Founding of Florence