Stockton History

Stockton


Welcome to Stockton! Stockton is located on the Tensaw River and is one of the oldest and prettiest communities in all of Baldwin County. It’s hard to believe this sleepy little town was once a major settlement, second only to Mobile.


Stockton started on the banks of the Tensaw with Robert Farmar operating a British trading post and was incorporated as a town in 1839. Today the western boundary of the Stockton Landmark District is the Tensaw River. Stockton has never moved from the banks of the Tensaw, but only expanded to the East over the last 200 years.


The river and the delta have always figured prominently in the lives of the people. The original inhabitants, Mississippian Indians, lived here and harvested the rich bounty of the delta – fish, shellfish, game and edible plants. Their culture lasted from about 1200 – 1500 A.D. Today, up and down the delta, you can find Indian shell middens on the banks; they are refuse dumps basically, but they give archeologists an important window into the Indians lives.


Stockton was first called “Tensaw Bluff” for the Tensaw Indians who settled here when they came with the French to Mobile. In early accounts, there were over 100 teepees on the bluff. The Tensaw Indians were the first line of defense from the Spanish for French Mobile and they returned to Louisiana with the French when they left Mobile. In addition to the river taking its name from these Native Americans, Stockton and all North Baldwin was referred to as "Tensaw Country” or “Tensaw Settlement”.


Later when Robert Farmar built his home on Tensaw Bluff, Stockton was called “Farmer’s Bluff”. His home became a meeting place for traders and travelers coming in and out of Mobile. He was the Commander of Fort Conde and governed colonial Mobile until a governor for British West Florida was appointed.


One of Farmer’s most famous guests was William Bartram, the first American-born naturalist. His famous book, Travels, published in 1791, is considered a classic of botanical history. Bartram discovered the Evening Primrose, a rare and very beautiful delta flower.


In 1783, British West Florida became Spanish Florida. In 1796, a United States surveyor, Major Andrew Ellicott, began to survey the official border between Spanish Florida and the new United States. The Ellicott Line divided Stockton, with some residents living in U.S. territory and some in Spanish in Spanish Florida. Stockton became a border town, however U.S. law

generally prevailed in the area.


Connected to Mobile by daily steam boat, and with Montgomery by a stage coach line, nearly all travel from Mobile to Montgomery came through Stockton. Until the advent of the railroad, Stockton thrived – roughly from 1840 to the Civil War. The L&N railroad arrived in the area after the Civil War and bypassed Stockton, destroying its importance as a shipping port. But the timber industry sustained the community for a century. Stockton had numerous sawmills, logging companies, turpentine, and at one time, one of the largest veneer mills in the US – the Bacon McMillan Veneer Mill - on the Tensaw Bluff, which owned over 30,000 acres of timber in the Delta and imported logs from South America. They were the largest employer in Baldwin County at one time in the 20th Century. The mill closed in 1971. People also have farmed the fertile soil and harvested forest products – like timber and pulpwood. It’s been quiet since then.