“Christmas in the Country” on LaGrange Mountain

by Staff
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Tuscumbia-Lagrange College Alabama’s first college and predecessor to the University of North Alabama opened on January 11, 1830 with twenty two students and three professors.  Room and board including washing, bedding, and firewood was $40 for a five month session. Tuition in the Languages and Sciences was $10 and $7.50 if taking the preparatory department courses.  Incidental expenses were said not to exceed $4.


In 1858 the name was changed to LaGrange College and Military Academy and later shortened to LaGrange Military Academy.   When the Civil War started all students enlisted in the 35th Alabama Regiment of Infantry.  On April 28, 1863 the empty college met its demise when it was burned to the ground by a Federal cavalry unit commanded by Col. Florence M Cornyne.  The site was donated to the state of Alabama after the war and for years along with the LaGrange Cemetery remained overgrown, neglected and vandalized.  A cleanup of the cemetery in the 1960 described the overgrown conditions of the cemetery as such that one had to crawl on hands and knees to get to the Ricks monument.


 In 1988 a group calling themselves the LaGrange Living Historical Association (LLHA) dedicated to preserving the memory and history of the LaGrange Mountain was formed.  In 1995 the college site and the LaGrange Cemetery was transferred to the LaGrange Living Historical Association.   The LaGrange Cemetery is the site of the Ricks family.  Abraham Ricks was one of the wealthiest men in Colbert County and owner of “The Oaks” and was a principal stockholder of the Tuscumbia Courtland and Decatur Railroad.  A huge monument over his grave was shipped in the rough blocks from Italy to Tuscumbia landing and hauled to by mountain by 16 yokes of oxen taking three days to do the job.   A yoke is a set of two oxen each.  The monument was carved by a sculptor brought over from Italy.


Recent vandalism to the cemetery is in much need of repair.  Much of the rock wall around the Ricks burial site has been knocked over and another grave with a table top type cover was broken into.  A grant for $35,000 to repair the wall was denied by the state.


Two major fundraisers are used by the LLHA to fund their mission, Recall LaGrange and LaGrange Christmas in the Country.  Several log cabins have been moved to the site and restored.  A Bed & Breakfast Inn and Wedding Chapel is available. The Welcome Center is open on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 4 and other times by appointment.  All workers are volunteers and are at the site from 8 AM until 1 PM daily.   The site is located off of Hwy 157 near Leighton.  The view of the valley below is worth the trip up the mountain.



The annual traditional “Christmas in the Country” weekend took  place at LaGrange College Park on November 17 and 18.

Photos by Mary Carton


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