Old African American city celebrates history

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Hobson City celebrates town’s history and Founders Weekend


Hobson City, AL (BlackNews.com) – Alabama State Department of Tourism and Travel program declared 2010 as the Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns across the State of Alabama to identify their heritage and plan events to commemorate that heritage. Governor Bob Riley has encouraged cities to stage homecoming events and invite people to come back home to celebrate their town. A historic marker written by a local person will be unveiled.

The Town of Hobson City will celebrate the Town’s History during the weekend the city traditionally recognizes the founding of the city. Hobson City was established on August 16, 1899 and is the oldest incorporated African American City in the State of Alabama and the third oldest incorporated African American city in the United States in.

The area now known as Hobson City was first known as Mooree Quarter, and was a part of Oxford, Alabama until the late 1890’s. At that time Blacks were permitted to vote in city and county elections. Their vote usually was a controlling factor during elections; they soon became isolated from the City of Oxford.

One of the early settlers of the community gave the following account of how Moorees quarters were cut from Oxford:

Once a Black man was elected Justice of the Peace in Oxford, this caused some confusion. One mayor in his campaign promised if he were elected he would stop Blacks from participating in city elections. After his election, he went to the State Capitol and had the corporate boundaries of Oxford redrawn, leaving the black settlement (now Hobson City) in the county. This isolated settlement remained under the county system of government for approximately three years.

On July 20, 1899 approximately 125 Blacks, dwelling in the Mooree Quarters area decided that it was time to take matters into their own hands. Their self-respect and determination lead to the filling of a petition with the Calhoun County Probate Judge, E. F. Cook, to become a separate and district municipality on July 20, 1899. After proper legal proceedings, the Town became incorporated August 16, 1899.

The commemoration of the city’s history will focus on preserving the heritage of Hobson City. Hobson City is a Place that matters, and deserves to be saved. It has been home to thousands of people over the past 111 years. According to the 2000 Census, 866 people call Hobson City home.

The Black Heritage Council (BHC) began working with the Town of Hobson City in 2008 to develop some strategies for revitalizing the area using the historic assets as a foundation. The Black Heritage Council was formed in 1984 by the Alabama Historical Commission; it is the only statewide organization that promotes the preservation and awareness of African American historic places, associated artifacts and culture.

The BHC helped the town and various citizen groups get the historical C.E. Hanna School (Calhoun County Training School) listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and the Hobson City Memorial Garden’s included in the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register, the first cemetery in Calhoun Country to be included in the list.

Additionally, the BHC nominated the town to the state’s annual list of places in peril. In 2009, in observance of National Historic Preservation Month, the Alabama Historic Commission and the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation named Hobson City as one of the 10 places in perils in Alabama. The BHC nomination resulted in the town gaining national and international recognition for its significance as the oldest African American incorporated municipality in Alabama. More than 113 national print and electronic media outlets covered the story as well as the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) out of Canada. CNN featured the town as part of its July 24, 2009 newscast.

The recognition attracted the attention of a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects who continues to consult with the city and has established a partnership with the city and Auburn University School of Architect, Design and Construction and Tuskegee University Department of Architecture.

Hobson City, has not benefited from the much talked about Stimulus money; things for Hobson City remains the same. The town has been without a police department since 2007. A new library has not opened due to a lack of revenue.

The city’s goal is to attract 1000 people to participate in the First Annual Hobson City Heritage Run/Walk A-Thon. Proceeds from this event will help fund the police department, public library, and preservation projects. There is a $10.00 registration fee.

They are encouraging individuals, families, cities, businesses, churches, organizations, fraternities, sororities, and everyone to participate. They are encouraging communities where students lived who attended Calhoun County Training School to form groups and participate in this historic walk. This includes: Thankful, Central City, Cobb Town, Chocolocco, White Plains, Dearmanville, Ohatchee, Brutonville, Weaver, Jacksonville, Bynum, Eastaboga, Sweet Rock, Rocky Hollow, Rock Quarry (now annexed to Hobson City, and any city or community whose name was omitted.

Scheduled events includes: Thursday, August 12, 2010 Fashion Show; Friday, August 13th, Display, Preservation and Revitalization Forum, Story Telling and Tour of City, Mayor’s Heritage Ball; Saturday, August 14th, Hobson City’s First Annual Heritage Run/Walk-A Thon, parade, unveiling of historic marker, dedication of park (Hobson City Community and Economic Development Corporation); Sunday, August 15th, community wide worship service, old C. E. Hanna/ James Dunn Gym.

Volunteers are needed to help with all events. For more information, please call the Town of Hobson City at 256-831-4940.

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