Stockton is located at the intersection of Hwy 59 and Hwy 225 in northern Baldwin County. A
county created by the
Mississippi Territorial Legislature on December 21, 1809.
In its earliest history, Stockton was the site of the ancient town of "Tensa" Indians, evidenced by the many artificial mounds of earth and other ruins found here. During that period of Stockton's history, this area was known as the "Tensa" country.
In the Treaty of 1763, the Tensaw settlement was ceded by the French to the British. Beginning around 1776, the Tensaw Bluff was the scene of great activity and development. Major Robert Farmar, the former English commander from Mobile, resigned his post, and procured from St. Michael, an Indian Chief of the Creek Nation, a grant of 12,800 acres of land on each side of the Tensaw River. Here he built a residence, which Hamilton in his Colonial Mobile describes as a "mansion". He also operated a trading post on the site. The area then began to be referred to as "Farmar's Bluff".
During the years of 1790-1799, many families came to the Tensaw area. It quickly became the most populous community in south Alabama except for the city of Mobile.
Stockton was divided by this line, with some residents living in the United States and some in Spanish Florida. Although Stockton became a "border town," U.S. law generally prevailed in the area.
After the establishment of the Ellicott boundary line between the American and Spanish territories, Americans came into the Tensaw Bluff and Tensaw River settlements. These were for the most part Tory refugees who migrated here from Georgia and South Carolina during the American Revolution.
Before the "Old Federal Road" was established, the means of transportation consisted of Indian foot trails and the rivers. The Europeans, who came, made no effort to construct better means of transportation. Water transportation became even more important as port and trading posts were established. Stockton was in a prime location, and social life on the river thrived to construct better means of transportation.
In 1810, Joshua Kennedy bought the deeds of the deceased Major Farmar and Cornelius McCurtain. Kenney built a residence in the area of the "Old Live Oak" road on the hill overlooking the site of his mill which was one of, if not the first mills in Alabama.
In 1811, Joshua Kennedy engaged Jesse Ember to build two water-powered sawmills, convertible to grist mills, for a total of $1400. The mills were operated by Kennedy through 1820; were burned twice, once by Indians. The mill dam and site were later used by the Bryne Brothers, and then by Hastic and Silver Co. until 1906, when they were abandoned.
During the era of the stage lines, Stockton was the terminus for the line that ran from the eastern portion of the state. Here, it made connection with the grand river steamers that plied the river between Stockton and the City of Mobile.
The early residents of the settlement engaged in shipbuilding, and statesmen, merchants, and all manner of travelers could be seen loitering around the taverns of old Dutch John and others, awaiting the arrival of the stage and steamer. Stockton was one of the greatest cotton shipping towns in the state.
The settlement had become a community of size down on the Tensaw River. Boats plied the Tensaw carrying produce raised in the community for sale in Mobile, returning with commodities needed by the residents of the settlement of Stockton.
The U. S. Mail service delivered mail from Montgomery, Alabama by stage coach twice a week to Stockton. In 1855 the United States government started a mail service between Mobile, Stockton and Claiborne, Alabama. Steamers were awarded contracts for carrying the mail, each leaving Mobile twice a week, touching at Stockton, which was connected to Montgomery by the stage line.
Stockton had everything required for a town to be formed. The steam boats were making regular stops, transporting commodities to and from the City of Mobile, the area had a post office, and people were attracted to the vast timbered forest and rich farm lands that existed in the community and surrounding areas.
Joshua Kennedy, whose mill had been operating on Rain's and Flat Creeks since 1811, could foresee what a fortune could be made in the area, and decides the time was prime to incorporate the land that he owned on the river, turning it into a formal town. William Kitchen, Kennedy's son-in-law, succeeded in incorporating the Town of Stockton, laying out streets and naming them after the settlers.
The introduction of the railroad ended the need for a stage coach line. Stockton, from the time of its early settlement to 1860, had been an important shipping port, but the L and N Railroad and the great hurricane of that year, destroyed the commercial importance of the town, leaving it isolated and dependent on its own resources.
Stockton had one advantage, however. Our farm lands on the river bottoms were more fertile than most. Fine cotton plantations began to be cleared where five years earlier, nothing but the hoot of the horn owl and the roar of the crocodile were heard. The vegetable crops came early with a growing season that lasted from March until the middle of November.
Sawmills became a favorite industry of the early residents in the settlement. With the immense cypress and pine forests in the immediate vicinity of the community, the mills of Hastie and Silver were manufacturing beautiful lumber, which remains unsurpassed.
After the Civil War, the McMillan and Son mill began operation, producing and shipping their products to New Orleans and later to Boston, Massachusetts by schooners that came up the Tensaw River.
These mills brought economic status to the community, and the town of Stockton began to truly emerge and come into its own. Timber and saw milling were the main stays of the community during this period in Stockton's history. While the cypress mills were operating at full speed and up until 1880-90, sailing vessels from European ports came into Mobile Bay and up the Tensaw River to the Stockton Landing, where they loaded the lumber produced by the mills carrying it back to their home ports.
Latham United Methodist Church, (shown on the right) just a few miles north of Stockton on Hwy 59, is one of many building in the area listed in the Baldwin County Register.
One of the oldest Masonic Lodges in Alabama, its charter was moved from Blakely to Stockton when Blakely forfeited its charter, due to its decline. At that time, the Grand Lodge met and gave permission for the Stockton Lodge to be chartered on August 12, 1850, and at the December 1851 communication of the Grand Lodge, Baldwin #142 petitioned the Grand Lodge for permission to move the Lodge from Blakely to Stockton where it still exists today. Its sword and charter was stolen by Union troops in 1865 but returned in 1878. When the Charter was returned, the Baldwin Lodge #142 was built in Stockton.