Linden is the county seat of Marengo County, Alabama. The population was 2,424 at the
Originally known as the Town of Marengo, it was changed to Hohenlinden in 1823 to honor the county's earliest European settlers, French Bonapartist refugees to the Vine and Olive Colony.
Hohenlinden was chosen to commemorate Napoleon Bonaparte's battle at the French were victorious over the Austrians and Bavarians. The spelling was later simplified to Linden. Lodging houses, stores, homes and churches surrounded a two-story log courthouse built in 1827.
While courts were in session, the town became so rowdy that it earned the unofficial name of "Screamersville." During the 1840's Linden had 160 residents, a wooden jail, two small stores and a barbershop. In 1848 the log courthouse burned, and the brick, federal style courthouse was built on the main thoroughfare of Cahaba Avenue. A stagecoach regularly passed through town en route from Mobile to Huntsville.
"The Linden Jeffersonian" newspaper began publication in 1853; "The Democrat Reporter" weekly newspaper has served the surrounding area since 1879. The City of Linden, incorporated March 1, 1870, remained the county seat except for a few months during Reconstruction. Citizens witnessed a gun fight between Deputy Sheriff Jeff "Dixie" Carter and notorious train robber Rube Burrows in front of the courthouse in 1890.
The Louisville and Nashville Railroad track, nine-tenths of a mile south of "old town," was completed in 1902. A "new town" grew near the depot as businesses relocated to serve railroad customers. Linden's "middle town" grew near a Gothic style courthouse constructed in 1903 at the corner of Main Street and Coats Avenue. That courthouse with its chiming clock tower was destroyed by fire and replaced in 1968 by a new structure built on the same site. This area continues to be the Linden Downtown Business District, and center for county government services into the twenty-first century.
Linden looks like the typical small town on a major highway. I have traveled through Linden many times going up and down US Highway 43. But, if you take a few minutes to just get off the main road and see Linden, I believe you will enjoy what you find. Linden is filled with friendly people and old historic buildings.
The Toronado Car
Linden will always have a warm place in my heart. A few months after we released the initial article on Linden, we were headed up US Highway 43 to attend an A-Day Game in Tuscaloosa. I had heard about all the bad weather they were having in the area, but being anxious to get to Tuscaloosa, we pretty much ignored the warnings. I believe we just thought the bad weather would be out of the area by the time we got there.
We had just passed through Dixon Mills when a power transformer exploded just in front of us. A normal person would have probably pulled over to see what was going on. Not being normal, I proceeded on with the trip. We had not gone more than a mile when we looked to our right and saw nothing but brown/black dust and debris in the air and it was all coming straight at us. We had managed to ride directly into the path of one of the deadly tornados that hit the area on the night of April 15th.
The force of the tornado literally took us off the road and carried us for some distance. While we were being carried by the high winds, we could see tree limbs and other objects orbiting our car (I thought of the scene from The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy saw the cows being whirled around.). It is a weird feeling to feel the car turning sideways and knowing you are not the one turning it.
The car was a total loss but luckily, we were able to walk away from the accident. The local emergency rescue folks were magnificent. They managed to get our car out of the ditch and back on the road. Miraculously, we were able to drive it to a hotel in Linden where we spent the night waiting for a tow truck.
Did I mention that we missed that football game! But, I had a heck of a war story to tell.