History of Decatur County
Continuation from the previous paragraphs.
(From Frost's Pictorial History of the American Navy.)
The United States, along with other countries, had been paying tribute to the Barbary States of Northern Africa in order to secure immunity for merchant vessels. Captain William Bainbridge took the tribute to Algiers in 1800, in the frigate George Washington. The Dey of tribute to Algiers commanded him to carry the Tribute of the Dey to the Sultan of Constantinople, and to haul down his own flag and run up that of Algiers, Bainbridge angrily refused. "You are my slaves, for you pay me tribute" said the Dey: "You must do as I tell you." The castle guns were trained on the vessel and Bainbridge was compelled to obey. On his return he wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, saying that "I hope I shall never again be sent to Algiers with tribute, unless I am authorized to deliver it from the mouth of our cannon." In 1815 a war started with Algiers and the other Barbary powers and resulted in a discontinuance of payment of tribute money by the United States.
In the war of 1812 Captain Bainbridge commanded the Constitution and in a fight with the British ship Java the name "Old Ironsides" was bestowed on the Constitution, Capt. Bainbridge was given the freedom of the city by New York and by Albany, N.Y., each letter being in a gold box. Philadelphia gave the gallant officer a service plate and Congress distibuted $50,000 among him and his crew.
Burges 1778 to 1816
Fort Hughes 1817 to 1824
The present site of Bainbridge was an Indian village in 1765 with James Burges as a trader. It began being known as Burges at least as early as 1778 as narrated in Chapter VII and was called Fort Hughes from 1817-1824 (See chapter XIV), when the legislature enacted the following law:
"That from and after the passing of this act, the present site of the public buildings in the County of Decatur be, and the same is hereby made permanent, and shall be called and known by the name of Bainbridge." "And it was further enacted that all elections for members of Congress and for Senate and House of Representatives in the State Legislature, and for all County officers, so far as repsects the County of Decatur, may, and shall hereafter be held at the house of William Forsons, in the eighteenth (district), andat the Court House of said county."
By the use of the word "Permanent" the grave legislators determined there should be no more change in name to confuse travellers and mail man.
The site is located on the east side of the Flint River, upon a high bluff, about seventy-five feet above the ordinary water level of the river and the sea level at the southwest corner of the court house is 133.353 feet and at the southeast corner of the post office it is 135.187 feet. The Flint River in the highest water has never invaded the city limits but two miles north and south it has covered the low lands so as to completely surround the city and leave it an island. This circumstance explains why the Indians, then Burges and then the U.S. Army selected the site for habitation. It also makes it more probable that DeSoto crossed the river at a point north of the A.C.L. Railway bridge which is opposite "Honey Bee Bluff." At these places have been found broken pottery of Indian origin. The original survey of Early County by one Clem Powers dated January 10, 1820 shows four houses on lot 224, the "Old Brick Yard" and both here and around Fort Hughes occur the notations "Old Fields."
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