Albert James Pickett
13 August 1810 - 28 Oct 1858
Albert James Pickett was born on 13 August 1810, in Anson County, North Carolina, the son of William Raiford (Rayford) (1777-1850) and Frances (Dickson) Pickett (1780-1850). William Raiford Pickett was the sheriff of Anson County. and moved with his family to "Cedar Grove" plantation near Autaugaville in what is now Autauga County, Alabama, in 1818. William established a plantation and trading-house and engaged actively in Indian trade. The Indians and other traders made the Pickett Store their headquarters, especially the Creeks.
Albert often accompanied the traders and became familiar with the villages. There was little opportunity for a formal education. He was sent to local schools (schools of Neil Blue and Joseph Hall) that irregularly opened in near by communities. At 18 he received a "gentleman's education," which meant his father sent him to a military academy in Middletown, Connecticut in the spring of 1828. He reached Wadesboro, NC, safely after journeying on horseback from home. he exchanged his saddle bags for a trunk and sold his horse. He then proceeded by stage coach to Connecticut. Finding the school was being reorganized, he went on to Cambridge, Mass. for the next two years. Albert had announced that he had decided on attending Harvard. He, then attended Stafford County Academy in Virginia, as his father had requested. In 1830 he returned home and studied law with his brother, William Dickson Pickett. The law had little attraction for him, however, and he never took the bar examination. Although he acquired extensive acreage in the vicinity of his father's plantation, Pickett was no farmer. Agriculture, he said, "did not occupy one-fourth of my time. Having no taste for politics, and never having studied a profession, I determined to write a history." It was lucky for us that he did.
He was married to Sarah Smith Harris on 20 March 1832, daughter of William and Mary (Alston) Harris. They had 12 children, nine of which lived to maturity. She was born on 7 Feb 1816 in Telfair County, Georgia and died 9 July 1894 in Montgomery, Alabama. Until his death, on 28 Oct 1858, he lived the life of a gentleman planter in Autauga County, spending his winters in Montgomery and his summers on his plantation, 5 miles north of Montgomery, referred to as "Pickett Springs". He served as a military aide to Gov. Clement C. Clay and was active in preparations for war with the Creeks in 1836.
He became interested in writing at an early age. He wrote quite often for many newspapers on historical and economic subjects. He was interested in improving Agriculture and studied many experimental methods and read many proposals. He wrote for Southern Cultivator and other agricultural journals. He also wrote for the Planter's Gazette, the Alabama Journal ( edited by his brother-in-law, Mosely Baker).
In the area of politics he was an ardent
Democrat and Episcopalian. He was an enthusiastic admirer of Andrew Jackson, declaring that he agreed
"with that eminent person in every political opinion he ever held - in
every military movement he ever made, and in his whole career through life -
both civil, religious' military and political." (Woods, post p. 605).
Although very interested in politics, the idea of office had no attraction for
him. An example was that his friends proposed that they would nominate him for
Governor in 1853. He refused to allow his name to be considered.
Albert James Pickett died at the age of 48, on 28 Oct 1858 leaving an estate valued over 1 million Dollars. It is believed that he died of dropsy or a kidney ailment. He was first laid to rest at his plantation called "Forest Farm", but was removed to Oakwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Alabama, where his wife is buried.
His chief literary work wasa HISTORY of ALABAMA AND INCIDENTALLY OF GEORGIA AND MISSISSIPPI, FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD. After spending more than seventeen years collecting the material, Pickett began writing his History of Alabama in 1847. It was published in 1851 and, after having gone through several editions to 1900, was out of print until 1962, when it was republished as a sort of historical curiosity. It remains, today, an important source for the history of the area through the territorial period. He had a first-hand knowledge of much of the period of which he wrote. He spared no labor or expense to obtain accurate information. He spent thousands of dollars in the purchase of books; having manuscripts copied; and he traveled hundreds of miles to interview people who might have information. Critics point to poor organization and a cumbersome literary style - but its content is invaluable.
He ha planned to write a book on the history of the "southwest", but he died before he could complete his study. (Remember Louisiana was the Southwest then.)
1. William Raiford Pickett m. Laura Holt
2. Mary Francis Pickett, died young
3. Martha Raiford Pickett m. Col. Michael Woods
4. Corinne Albert Pickett m. Edward Brett Randolph
5. Mary Gindrat Pickett (Twin) m. Rev. Samuel Smith Harris
6. Eliza Ward Pickett (Twin) m. Edwin Banks
7. Sarah Julia Pickett m. Robert Carter Randolph
8. Joseph Alston Pickett, died young
9. Fannie Dickson Pickett, died young
10. Albert James Pickett, Jr. m. Eugenia Durden
11. Alston Harris m. Elizabeth Jackson
12. John Gindrat Pickett
Tap on book to read it.
Find a Grave
Woods, M. L.; Personal Reminiscences of Col. Albert James Pickett" in Trans. Alabama Historical Society, vol. iv (1904).
Jackson, C. M. ; A Brief Biog. Sketch of the late Colonel Albert James Pickett (1859)
Riley, B. F.; Makers and Romance of Alabama Biog. (no date)
Owen, T. M.; History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biog. (1921) Vol. iv.
Owen, T. M.; The South in the Building of a Nation, vol. XII (1909)
"Albert James Pickett - a Sketch" The Alabama Historical Quarterly Vol. 1 no. 1, pp 113 - 115
Pickett Fence vol. I no. 3 July - Sept., p.41