Mooresville’s history began in 1805 when the first settlers arrived in the area and set up homesteads on lands occupied by the Chickasaw Indians. The Indians later ceded the land to the Federal Government and public land sales began in 1816. Limestone County was established as part of the Alabama Territory at that time, and had a population of about 4,500. On October 15, 1818, the sixty-two residents of Mooresville petitioned the Alabama Territorial Legislature for an Act of Incorporation, which the Legislature approved on November 16 of the same year; “Be it enacted by the Legislative Council and House of Representatives at the Alabama Territory, in general assembly convened, that the town of Mooresville in the county of Limestone in the Alabama Territory, be, and the same is hereby, established by the name of ‘Mooresville.’” Alabama did not become a state until a year later, in November 1819, making Mooresville “the town older than the state.”
Cotton was king in the Tennessee Valley and the lovely houses and shady streets of the town were home to many cotton planters, field workers and merchants. Some of the present inhabitants are descendants of those original settlers. The town appears untouched by time, but many details have changed over the years. The business community that supported the agricultural base before the turn of the century has disappeared, and the town is now more given to shade trees, decorative shrubbery, lawns, gardens and flowers.
Although a few of Mooresville’s current residents farm nearby fields, many work in the neighboring metropolitan areas of Decatur and Huntsville. Mooresville is now a quiet historic village, nestled between these larger cities. Early 19th century homes, including one that housed a tailor’s apprentice named Andrew Johnson, share the streets with newer homes. Andrew Johnson later went on to become President of the United States.
The town is home to two historic churches, including the old white clapboard Church of Christ where President James A. Garfield once preached. The Brick Church, the Post Office, and the Stagecoach Inn and Tavern are maintained by the town’s residents in an effort to preserve some pieces of history. Often referred to as “Alabama’s Williamsburg,” the entire town of Mooresville is now included in the current listings of the National Register of Historic Places.
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