Somerville's Rich History and Landmarks Revealed

Welcome to an exploration of Somerville, Alabama, where history and heritage intertwine to offer a captivating narrative.

As one of the oldest towns in Morgan County, Somerville bears witness to pivotal moments in Alabama's past. From its founding in 1819 to its role as the first permanent county seat, this town has played a significant part in the region's development.

Today, its historical landmarks, such as the Morrow Cemetery, the Old Cotaco White House, and the Morgan County Courthouse, serve as testaments to its rich past.

Join us as we unravel the layers of Somerville's history, revealing the stories and significance behind its cherished landmarks and the lasting impact they have on the town's identity.

Key Takeaways

  • Somerville has a rich and significant history, starting with its founding in 1819 and the early settlement of families in the area.
  • Lt. Robert Summerville's heroism is intertwined with the town's identity, and ongoing preservation efforts aim to remember the town's history and honor early settlers.
  • The governance structure of Somerville has adapted to meet the needs of the community, with a focus on balancing progress and the preservation of historical charm.
  • Somerville is a diverse and inclusive community, with a predominantly white population and significant African American and Hispanic communities, contributing to a welcoming environment for residents and visitors.

Founding and Early Settlement

The founding and early settlement of Somerville dates back to the early 19th century, marking a significant period in the town's history. Incorporated on December 3, 1819, it holds the distinction of being a few days older than the state of Alabama itself.

Named after Lt. Robert Summerville, who perished in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, the town has a rich historical significance. Even before its official incorporation, families had been establishing roots in the area for at least two years.

As the first permanent county seat of Morgan County, Somerville played a crucial role in the region's development. The early settlers laid the groundwork for what would become a thriving community, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to shape the town's identity today.

Historical Significance and Naming

During the founding and early settlement of Somerville, Lt. Robert Summerville's sacrifice in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend led to the town's naming and holds historical significance.

  1. Significance of Lt. Robert Summerville: Lt. Robert Summerville's heroism in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, where he fought bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice, is interwoven into the town's identity and remains a source of pride for its residents.
  2. Impact of Moving County Seat to Decatur: Somerville was the first permanent county seat of Morgan County, but its significance was affected when the county seat moved to Decatur in 1891. This move had a profound impact on the town's historical importance and its development trajectory.
  3. Preservation Efforts: Efforts to preserve the historical significance of Lt. Robert Summerville's sacrifice and the early settlers' contributions before the town was named are ongoing, ensuring that the town's rich history is not forgotten.

Evolution of Governance

Over the years, Somerville has evolved its governance structure to adapt to the changing needs of its growing community. The town initially operated under a mayor/city council form of government, which has since undergone developments to meet the demands of modern society. This evolution of governance reflects the town's commitment to effective administration and preservation efforts.

As the population grew, the governance structure evolved to ensure efficient service delivery and representation. The incorporation of preservation efforts into the governance framework highlights the town's dedication to safeguarding its rich history and landmarks. This proactive approach to governance aligns with Somerville's deep-rooted historical significance, ensuring that its heritage is not only celebrated but also effectively protected for future generations.

Such governance evolution demonstrates the town's ability to balance progress with the preservation of its unique identity and historical charm.

Demographic Snapshot

With a population of 653, Somerville showcases a demographic makeup that is predominantly white, with significant African American and Hispanic communities. This population diversity has shaped the cultural fabric of the town, offering a rich tapestry of traditions and heritage.

The ethnic representation in Somerville reflects a harmonious blend of different cultures, contributing to a vibrant and inclusive community. The demographics not only illustrate the town's history but also its present-day dynamics, creating a unique and welcoming environment for residents and visitors alike.

  1. Ethnic Diversity: Somerville's population comprises a diverse mix of ethnicities, fostering a multicultural community.
  2. Cultural Fusion: The coexistence of predominantly white, African American, and Hispanic populations has led to a fusion of cultural practices and celebrations.
  3. Inclusive Society: The town's demographic composition promotes an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for people from various ethnic backgrounds.

Educational Landscape

The educational landscape in Somerville, as part of the Morgan County school system, plays a vital role in shaping the town's cultural and intellectual development.

Over the years, the evolution of education in Somerville has been marked by the establishment of educational institutions that have not only provided academic knowledge but also contributed significantly to the town's overall growth.

Currently, Somerville is home to two K-8 schools and one 9-12 high school, all of which have been instrumental in nurturing the young minds of the town. These educational institutions have not only focused on imparting traditional knowledge but have also adapted to the changing educational needs, ensuring that the students are well-prepared for the challenges of the modern world.

The town's commitment to providing quality education underscores its dedication to fostering a knowledgeable and skilled community.

Notable Landmarks and Heritage Sites

Exploring the notable landmarks and heritage sites in Somerville unveils the rich history and cultural significance of the town.

1) Historical Preservation Efforts

Somerville boasts a commendable commitment to preserving its historical sites, with several landmarks listed on both the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and the National Register of Historic Places. These efforts signify the town's dedication to safeguarding its heritage for future generations.

2) Cultural Significance of Landmarks

Each landmark in Somerville tells a unique story, reflecting the cultural heritage and historical roots of the town. From the Morrow Cemetery to the Old Cotaco White House, these sites hold great cultural significance and offer valuable insights into the town's past.

3) Architectural Marvels

The Rice-Green-Pryor House (1830s) and the Morgan County Courthouse (1837) stand as architectural marvels, representing the town's rich architectural heritage and historical importance. These structures are not just buildings but living testaments to Somerville's past.

Transportation Routes

Somerville's transportation routes facilitate the town's connectivity and accessibility, serving as vital conduits for local and regional travel. The evolution of transportation in Somerville has significantly impacted the local economy.

State Highway 67, which bisects the town running northwest-southeast, plays a crucial role in connecting Somerville with the broader region. This route not only facilitates the movement of people and goods but also influences the town's economic development by providing access to markets and opportunities.

The efficient transportation network has contributed to the growth of businesses and industries in the area, enhancing the town's economic vitality. Understanding the historical development and current significance of these transportation routes is essential for appreciating Somerville's economic landscape and its continued relevance in the regional economy.

Local Historical Landmarks

Amid Somerville's rich history lies a collection of local historical landmarks that offer insight into the town's past and cultural heritage.

  1. Rice-Green-Pryor House (1830s): This historic house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, provides a glimpse into the architectural and cultural heritage of Somerville.
  2. Morgan County Courthouse (1837): Serving as a significant symbol of justice and governance, this courthouse is a testament to the town's early legal and administrative history.
  3. Preservation Efforts and Local History Tours: The local community has dedicated significant efforts to preserve and promote these landmarks, offering guided tours that delve into the historical significance and architectural details of these sites, providing an enriching experience for history enthusiasts and tourists alike.

These landmarks not only serve as historical treasures but also as a testament to the town's commitment to preserving its heritage.

Preservation of Historical Sites

Dedicating significant efforts to preserve and promote historical landmarks, the local community in Somerville offers guided tours that delve into the town's rich cultural heritage and architectural significance. The preservation of historical sites in Somerville faces various challenges. These include securing funding for maintenance and restoration, balancing modern development with historical preservation, and ensuring the continued interest of future generations. Community involvement is of paramount importance in overcoming these challenges. Engaging residents, local businesses, and historical societies fosters a sense of ownership and pride in preserving the town's history. It also ensures the ongoing protection of Somerville's historical landmarks for future generations to appreciate and learn from. The table below outlines the challenges faced and the importance of community involvement in the preservation of historical sites.

Challenges Faced Importance of Community Involvement
Securing funding for maintenance and restoration Engaging residents and local businesses
Balancing modern development with historical preservation Involving historical societies
Ensuring the continued interest of future generations Fostering a sense of ownership and pride

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Lesser-Known Historical Facts About the Founding and Early Settlement of Somerville?

The early settlement of Somerville reflects a rich history, with founding myths intertwined with colonial architecture and cultural traditions. Lesser-known historical facts highlight the diverse early settlers and the town's architectural heritage.

How Has the Evolution of Governance in Somerville Impacted the Town's Development and Identity Over Time?

The evolution of governance in Somerville has significantly impacted the town's development and identity over time. The establishment of a mayor/city council form of government has shaped the town's trajectory and influenced its sense of community and civic engagement.

What Are Some Unique Demographic Trends or Historical Events That Have Shaped the Population of Somerville?

Demographic shifts in Somerville, such as the town's 87.9% white population and 6.7% African American, reflect the area's historical events. Cultural influences from its founding in 1819 to present day have shaped the unique population of Somerville.

Are There Any Lesser-Known Educational Initiatives or Programs That Have Had a Significant Impact on the Community of Somerville?

Impactful initiatives in Somerville include community outreach through educational programs and cultural preservation efforts. These programs have significantly shaped the community by fostering a sense of pride in local heritage and providing valuable learning opportunities for residents.

What Are Some Local Historical Landmarks or Heritage Sites in Somerville That Are Not Commonly Known to the Public?

Local hidden gems and forgotten landmarks in Somerville include the Morrow Cemetery, Old Cotaco White House, Rice-Green-Pryor House, and Morgan County Courthouse. These unexplored heritage sites and overlooked historical spots offer a unique glimpse into Somerville's rich history.


In summation, Somerville's rich historical tapestry and array of landmarks offer a compelling insight into the town's past.

The preservation of these sites serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Somerville and its pivotal role in the region's development.

With its educational institutions and notable landmarks, Somerville continues to captivate visitors and residents alike, inviting exploration and fostering a deep appreciation for its cultural heritage.

Our Reader’s Queries

What is the history of Somerville Alabama?

Somerville served as the county seat of Morgan County from 1818 to 1891, when the seat relocated to Decatur. The town honors Robert M. Summerville, an officer who lost his life in 1814 during the Creek War. It gained incorporation on December 3, 1819, making it a few days older than the state.

Who is the mayor of Somerville Alabama?

Discussing small business and entrepreneurship in Somerville, Alabama with Mayor Darren Tucker was a great experience.

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