In my latest urban hiking adventure I explore a town that claims to be the OLDEST Continually Occupied City in America – Childersburg, Alabama.
Regardless of how old Childersburg actually is, it’s a cool little Southern town worth a visit!
If you’re interested in it’s history…
According to Childersburg.org :
Childersburg, Alabama is proclaimed as the Oldest Continually Occupied City in America…dating to 1540. The city’s beginnings date back to Coosa, a village of the Coosa Indian Nation that was located in the area. Hernando DeSoto, Governor of Cuba and Adelantado of Florida, accompanied by an army of six hundred men, began his march across the Southeastern section of North America in June, 1539. Traveling from Espiritu Santo, known now as Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida, northward through Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and then into Alabama, his men began their desperate search for gold and other riches unequal to any of those found by others in this new wild land of North America. DeSoto’s expedition was in what would become the State of Alabama, having discovered it “not by sea, but after dangerous and difficult marches.” Following seven days of slowly marching down the bank of the Tennessee River, DeSoto entered the town of Coste on July 2, 1540. From Coste the expedition proceeded to Tali also located on the Tennessee River and then to the banks of the Coosa River. The middle of July saw DeSoto and his expedition reach the mighty empire of the great Coosa. On July 16, 1540, the vast army of Spaniards arrived at the town of Coca Coosa, located on the east bank of the river between the mouths of two creeks, now known as Talladega and Tallaseehatchee. The twenty-six year old Chief of the Coosas came out to receive DeSoto…”bourne in a litter on the shoulders of his principal men…surrounded by many attendants playing flutes and singing.” For approximately a month, these travel weary invaders enjoyed the hospitality of the youthful chief and his tribe, even receiving an offer of a region of land to establish a Spanish colony. After offering many reasons for not accepting, DeSoto and his men left the Coosa in August of 1540.
The report of the DeSoto Commission, U. S. Congress, House, Final Report of the United States DeSoto Expedition Commission, 76 Congress, 1st Session, 1939, House Executive Document Number 71 which was chaired by John R. Swanton offers telling evidence of DeSoto’s route through Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. Swanton and other members of the commission stated irrevocably that the site of Coca was noted to be the area in proximity to the present town of Childersburg, Alabama. Dr. Walter B. Jones, Secretary of the DeSoto Commission and noted Alabama geologist, has written many articles in support of the commission’s conclusion.
Over a period of approximately two hundred fifty years, explorers, conquistadors, traders, and pioneer settlers penetrated the vicinity of what today is known as Childersburg, Alabama. This area, so rich in Indian lore and artifacts, abounding in culture and traditions, and substantiated by much written documentation, can support its claim to being the “oldest continuously occupied town in the United States.
Compiled by Judy M. McSween