Gulf Shores has plenty of history
1. The area originally was inhabited by the Creeks, the Alibamas and Seminole Indians.
2. Pirates frequented the coast for over one hundred and thirty eight years preying on Spanish galleons. They hid in Perdido Bay, which means Lost because the entrance to the bay was difficult to find. Captain Billie Bowleg's treasure is still being sought today.
3. The battle of Mobile Bay took place on Aug. 5, 1864 where "damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead" was shouted by Admiral Farragut.
4. Ft. Morgan was purchased for $8,000 in 1927 by the state of Alabama.
5. Lake Shelby is the largest fresh water body of water next to a salt body of water.
6. Orange Beach did have large orange and citrus groves. In the mid-1920s a salesman came into the area selling orange tree seedlings that were infected with blight. This wiped out the orange and citrus crops.
7. One of the original homesteaders would file papers in Montgomery. He was land rich and cash poor so he would trade out land for the price of a night in a hotel and a meal. He traded land 4,522 acres which is now the Gulf State Park for roads and bridges to be built to the area know as Gulf Shores.
8. In 1956, the recorded population of Gulf Shores was 120.
9. Ono Island was first settled in 1963 by a retired banker from Birmingham, John Calhoun Golightly. In 1945 when he returned from the Second World War - he was sent to Baldwin County to check out some "trash" property listed in an estate. He and 2 friends threw in $1,000 each and bought 1/3 of what was then called "Goat Island" - because locals raised their goats over there. It was also known as Puma Island because it was widely believed that a pair of pumas roamed the island for many years. People were certain that they heard their growls in the night. During World War II, the Navy at Pensacola used the island for target practice. In 1963, Golightly retired, rented a house in Pensacola and started to carry building materials and a generator over there. He built his own house with no TV and no telephone. He liked the pioneer spirit of the place. Then people moved in with their "conveniences"and cocktail parties, which pretty much ruined the atmosphere according to John. He became known as the slightly unsocial old man who would walk his dogs on the waterfront and pretty much ignore his neighbors. Although there are several fancy theories of how Ono Island got its name, John Golightly told his daughter that the island was originally attached to the Alabama mainland - until a hurricane eroded the land and separated the sites. Therefore, when Florida laid claim to the territory, Alabama residents said, "Oh no - this island belongs to us!" Hence the name.
10. Near the southern tip of Baldwin County, strong weather uncovered an ancient burial ground and exposed to view skeletons of Indians, which were 8 feet tall. When Ponce de Leon asked the Florida Indians to direct him to the Fountain of Youth, they told him that it lay to the westward in a land inhabited by Indians who were giants.
11. At Tensaw in Baldwin County, the first cotton gin in Alabama was set up and Alabama became known as The Cotton State.
12. The Bonnie Blue Flag is a blue flag with a single white star in the center that was used along the Gulf Coast around 1810 - then was adopted in a slightly altered form by the Texans during the Texas Revolution in 1836 and was later used as the first flag of the Confederacy in 1861 until the "Stars and Bars" was adopted.
13. Indian mounds in Baldwin County are said by some archaeologists to be older than the pyramids of Egypt.
14. Indians of the Gulf Coast always referred to the five directions instead of four directions. North, South, East, West - and Up (which is where the Great Spirit dwells).
15. The Bonito a popular game fish along the Gulf Coast - is not only found in the Gulf of Mexico - but in the Mediterranean Sea.
16. Bay Minette, the County Seat of Baldwin County is a well in-land little city with a nautical name. Originally, it was located on Mobile Bay on the shores of a site called Bay Minette and was named for a French surveyor M. Minette.
17. At the beginning of the War Between the States, a massive brick lighthouse more than a 100 feet high stood at the entrance to Mobile Bay, near Ft. Morgan. But, during the war, the blockading fleet used to send lookouts to the top of the lighthouse to spy on incoming ships. So, one night, a group of volunteers, while being fired upon by the fleet, rowed out and detonated a charge at the base of the structure - causing it to crumble into the sea. This was Alabama's first lighthouse and was built on Mobile Point in 1822.
18. Navy Cove on the tip of Ft. Morgan got its name because pirates were so bad in the Gulf of Mexico, at one time, that England sent a fleet of ships or Navy to protect its commercial ships and kept these ships in the cove around Ft. Morgan - it became known as Navy Cove.
19. Pilot Town in the same area got its name because the pilots who guided ships up the Mobile Bay channel to the Port of Mobile, all lived there. There is a narrow, 40-mile channel from Ft. Morgan to the Port of Mobile.
20. Both Pilot Town and Navy Cove were destroyed in the killer hurricane of 1906.
21. After the Hurricane of 1906 - the soil in Baldwin County around Gulf Shores area and Ft. Morgan was so fertile from all the salts and minerals washed ashore that farmers thought that they were in Paradise. Sweet potatoes grew to be the size of water buckets and cabbages were 15 to 20 pounds each. They have pictures to prove it.
22. Around the Lagoon community - the Little Lagoon area - men used to yodel to send messages to neighbors and also for entertainment.
23. Around the turn of the century, catsup was sold as a luxury - especially around Christmas, when it was used as a special treat to go on oysters for Christmas dinner. Oysters were a big part of a holiday meal - such as Oyster Gumbo, a big platter of fried oysters and baked chicken with oyster dressing.
24. People came to live in the Baldwin County area from Mississippi because they're "too many outlaws over there."
25. Baldwin County is the largest of Alabama's 67 counties and with more than 1,600 square miles - 1,032,320 acres - it is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
26. Baldwin County's written history doesn't start with the Mayflower - but with Columbus' sailors who sought food and water en route to obtain gold and treasure in Mexico. A map by Waldeemuller, a geographer was published in Europe in 1507; it shows the distinctive shape of Mobile Bay and bears the name Amerigo Vespucci.
27. Perdido Pass, Lost Key and Perdido Bay - got their name because of the pirates who hid there and ravished ships going into the ports of Pensacola and Mobile. The pirates could hide here - get fresh water and not been seen until they were ready to come out into the Gulf. Members of the Baldwin County Historical Society believe that because of this Baldwin County may be the site of buried pirate treasure.
28. Hernando DeSoto's legacy in Alabama is horses, chickens and swine. All of which his men introduced into the area. The swine were the source of the present day razorbacks, which exist in the wilds even today. DeSoto's journey into Alabama started in the northeastern part of the state and terminated in the village of the Mabila Indians, whose chief was the mighty Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa was a 7-foot tall man, who when sitting on a horse presented to him by the Spaniards, had his feet almost touching the floor.