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The Civil War and the Free State of Winston

Updated: May 20

a civil war solider statue
This Civil War soldier is clad partly Union and partly Confederate


During the Civil War it was not unusual for a group of people in one area to be split on which side they supported. History records numerous cases where different members of the same family would eventually fight against each other.

One cause of those differences was geography. Some places in the south were part of the southern Appalachian Mountains where large farms were rare, and slaves were just as rare. Coal miners and mountain farmers did not relate to the plantation owners who lived in the flat areas and owned large plantations with numerous slaves.

Those large plantations owners became known as “planters”. It often became a case of two social classes, the wealthy planters and the poor mountain people. Those two groups frequently disagreed on social and political issues and policies of the day.

In 1859 and 1860 when many southerners talked of seceding from the United States and forming the Confederate States of America, other southerners did not go along with that idea, especially those living in the mountains.

In the southern Appalachian area of Winston County, Alabama - those favoring the idea of staying as a part of the United States outnumbered those who wanted to secede. So Winston County sent a resolution to the state capitol in Montgomery saying that if Alabama could secede from the United States then Winston County could secede from Alabama. After that the locals started calling themselves the Free State of Winston rather than Winston County. The majority of Winstonians who went on to fight in the Civil War fought for the North while many did fight for the South.

Even today most who live in Winston County still remember that title of being the Free State of Winston. While many county courthouse yards in the former Confederate states include a statue dedicated to the Confederate soldier, the Winston County courthouse at Double Springs has a statue of a soldier wearing a uniform that is part Union and part Confederate. That is done in tribute to the men from Winston County who fought in the Civil War, many of them fighting for the North and yet some for the South. And at least one monument on the courthouse grounds still references the Free State of Winston.


A courthouse with flags and a soldier statue
The Winston County courthouse at Double Springs, Alabama

A statue with a water tower in the background
The Civil War soldier that is dressed partly Union and partly Confederate

plaque from a statue
A plaque on the statue

a memorial stone with writing
This monument refers to the Free State of Winston

This monument honors the law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty while serving the people of Winston County. EOW stands for End of Watch. Notice that at the top the monuments says The Free State of Winston.


Just a few miles east of Double Springs is the community of Houston, Alabama. Years ago Houston was a thriving town and the county seat of Winston County.

A historical marker
A historical marker talking about the history of the town of Houston, Alabama

Right beside the Houston post office is the Old Houston Jail, an old log cabin jail built just after the Civil War.

a confederate flag and a USA flag and an Alabama flag
A Confederate flag, an American flag, and an Alabama flag

Three flags fly at the site of the old jail - the Confederate flag, the United States flag, and the Alabama flag.

an old log cabin jail
The old log cabin jail

This is The Old Jail at Houston.

historical marker for the old jail at Houston
A historical marker for the old jail

inside an old building
Inside the old jail

Can you imagine being locked up here for a month?

window in a primitive building
A small window in the jail

The jail has two small rooms and six very small windows. I don't know if it was heated in the winter or not. I am sure it was hot during the Alabama summers.

old Civil War era cannon
An old Mountain Howitzer cannon

This Civil War era mountain cannon is also displayed there. The cannon was small enough to be broken down and its components hauled through rough terrain on the back of horses or mules. In most Civil War battles, the presence of cannons, or lack thereof, was a critical factor for success or failure.

historical plaque on an old cannon
The plaque on the old cannon

I encourage those interested in Alabama history and/or the history of the Civil War to visit both Double Springs and Houston, Alabama to get an up-close look at the free State of Winston. And I didn't mention that both are located in the Bankhead National Forest which has its own beauty and points of interest. All of this is very Americana!

And remember that comments are welcomed here in the box at the bottom of this page. Also note that if you hit that "Log In" button at the top of this page and become a member of Picture Americana, you will get an email notification whenever a new blog is posted.

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1 Σχόλιο

23 Ιουλ 2023

Well done!

Μου αρέσει
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