As one is looking into a certain area as a potential place to live, they may be interested in learning about the area’s history. The Huntsville/Madison, Alabama area has a very rich history. From being the home of the historic Twickenham district, to becoming an important part of America’s Space Program (NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center) and its Department of Defense Program (housed on Redstone Arsenal Army Base and supported by surrounding Defense Industry contractors.) However, before most of that, there was one man who is responsible for putting Madison, Alabama on the map and, consequently, bringing opportunity to the expansion of the Greater Huntsville/Madison Metro area. That man’s name was James Clemens. Here are four interesting facts about the man who founded the great city of Madison, Alabama.
Founder of Madison
Though he was born in Pennsylvania in 1778, James Clemens came to Alabama from Kentucky in 1812. He entered into the mercantile business, after first arriving in Huntsville with a partner, who then went back to Pennsylvania a few years later. Many years later, Clemens purchased some land from the Alabama State Government, that had been used as means for funding public education. Clemens knew, though, that the railroad would need a depot in that location, halfway between Huntsville and Decatur. At the time, the area between Huntsville and Decatur was thousands of acres of farmland. Like most rural areas of the South, roads were wagon trails and trips “to town” were reserved for only a couple times a year for buying supplies and selling only what farmers could transport by horse or mules. Having a depot meant trade for local farmers and more connections to local gins and mills. This meant expansion and revenue for the local farmers. By bringing a connection to the outside world to this part of Madison County and the adjacent Eastern Limestone County, Clemens can be credited for changing the local landscape, of his time, that would not be rivaled until TVA revolutionized the area with electricity almost 100 years later. Clemens original intention was to establish a town around the railroad station and call it “Clemens Depot”. However, when the Memphis & Charleston Rail Road drew the town on their maps, they labeled it as “Madison Station” instead. This is what is known as today’s Historic Downtown Madison. Today, Historic Madison Station is a depot museum and a small, picturesque historic district complete with reminiscent shoppes and historic 19th Century homes that still stand today in the center of the modern suburban area of Madison, Alabama. Famous Relatives James Clemens was related to famous American author Samuel Clemens, A.K.A. Mark Twain who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and many other great literature classics known throughout the world. Clemens was also a descendant of Gregory Clemens (Clements) who was a part of English Parliament at the time of Oliver Cromwell and was one
of 59 people who signed the death warrant of King Charles I of England.
From a socially conscious standpoint, James Clemens was ahead of his time. He and his son, Jeremiah, had slaves in which they freed in the 1850’s, well before the Civil War and The Emancipation Proclamation. Before he died, Clemens sold a plot of land (which is located at the corner of today’s Sullivan Street and Front Street) to a freed black man, by the name of Edmund Martin. Several of Clemens’ lots were also sold to women, back in a time when very few women were granted property rights listed in their own names.
James Clemens High School
James Clemens is the namesake of James Clemens High School which sits at 11306 County Line Road in Madison, Alabama. It was established in 2012 due to Madison’s growing population and has 1,800 students currently enrolled. It is a public school and is part of the Madison City School District. The principal of James Clemens High School is Mr. Brian Clayton. The school teaches grades 9-12 and has quite a number of extracurricular activities, including 40 clubs.
James Clemens High School has a moderately-sized music program including a marching band, two concert bands and a choir. Their marching band has approximately 155 students and competes in 2 or more marching band competitions annually, both in state and out of state and it performed in the New Years Day Parade in London, England on January 1st 2017. The school's choir, which is dubbed the "JC Jet Choir" is made up of approximately 80 students. The group competes biennially in Festival Disney at Disney World. The choir has received numerous awards for their performances in competition including an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York in the spring of 2018.
Known as the “JC Jets”, James Clemens High School also has several sports programs in which students can compete. One of which that is a major interest to the Madison community is the James Clemens football team. You can access their football schedule at https://www.jcjetsfootball.com/varsity-schedule.html. The city of Madison has always been a city of high social tranquility and diversity and acceptance of all people. Since its early days, Madison has grown from a simple railroad town to delightful city made up of several commercial and residential areas. It is a favorited place
among those in North Alabama to both live and work.
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