The 1877 Tallman map of Etowah County

January 30, 2015 chris
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  Several years ago, Etowah County Tax Assessor Jerry Jones was given an original copy of Etowah’s County first map, the 1877 Tallman’s Map. Earnest Lee, an early surveyor, gave this map to Jerry. Earnest received this map from his father, Fitzhuh Lee (born1866, died1946). Fitzhuh was the Etowah County Surveyor many years ago.

Note of interest: Fitzhuh’s daughter name was Iva Lee, for whom the Ivalee community outside and west of Attalla is named. The Vagabond asked Jerry about why the area was named for her. He laughed and said that was a long story but that he promised to tell The Va-gabond.

When he received the large map from Earnest, Jerry personally framed and had it hanging up on the wall in his office. This old map was originally drawn up in 1877 for Tax Assessor James A. Tallman, who later became well known as the Etowah County Probate Judge.

When Jerry retired and left office, he was unable to immediately take the map home due to its large size and weight. When the time came to retrieve it, the map had mysteriously disappeared. No one knew what happened to it.

Fortunately, Jerry had photocopied the old map piece by piece and in black and white. No other Tallman’s map was known to exist at that time. Unfortunately, bad luck struck again when the photocopy recently disappeared on loan.

Just last week, The Vagabond had been doing research on old maps and discovered another Tallman’s map existed. It was stored at the Geological Survey of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and was available, so The Vagabond was able copy the map digitally. Thanks are extended to friends Kirk Howell and Jack Rutledge, who printed a large plotter copy for The Vagabond. The map is now on permanent display at the Etowah Historical Society’s research facilities at the Elliot’s Community Center in Alabama City.

The map was drawn by the Cincinnati, Ohio, firm of Krebs Lithographing Company, which is well known for Civil War battlefield maps, birds-eye views, the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition Posters, ads posters and family history charts. 

The firm even did a bird’s-eye view of the city of Huntsville in 1871 prior to doing the Etowah County map.

A little history of the Krebs Lithographing Co. starts out when Adolph K Krebs was born in Hanover, Germany about 1832. He came to Cincinnati and entered the firm of Ehrgott and Forbriger. In 1874, the establishment became known as Krebs Lithographing Company and it flourished until 1889 or later.

From the time before Etowah County was created in 1868, the surveyor (we now call them county engineers) only had surveys and personally drawn maps. In nine years, it could be seen that an official county map was needed. James A. Tallman, who was elected that year (1877) as Tax Assessor, immediately had the map drawn and printed by the Krebs Lithographing Com-pany. 

A little about James A. Tallman:

James A. Tallman was born Nov. 27, 1818, at Abbeville, S.C. where he spent the first 12 ears of his life. Tallman then went to a farm in the country for a short while, returning to his home and trying the printing business for a while. At the age of 16, he was engaged as a clerk in a country store.

From there, Tallman left in 1838 and located in Greene County, Ala., where he worked as salesman and bookkeeper in a mercantile establishment until 1853. Tallman then embarked in business for himself at Greensboro, where he remained until 1861.

Backing up, on Oct. 1842, Tallman was married to Julia A. Dorroh. She died in 1856, leaving three children. In 1858, he was married to Annie H. Webb and had two additional children.

During the war, Tallman filled the office of postmaster at Greensboro, being appointed to that office by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. From 1866 to 1868, Tallman was in the hotel business in both Greensboro and Selma.

In 1868, Tallman came to Gadsden and was bookkeeper in the store of Major W.P. Hollingsworth. During the year 1877, Tallman was elected to the office of tax assessor, which he filled for 10 years in succession. 

Tallman resigned in 1887 to accept the office of probate judge, to which he was appointed. His father, Thomas W. Tallman, had been an ordinary, or probate, judge of his county for a number of years until he died in 1840 at the age of 84.

In 1890, the old courthouse became too small and more space was needed. The question arose whe-ther to put the new county courthouse in Attalla or in Gadsden. A committee of five people convened to discuss and vote on the matter. Commissioners J.B. Washburn and E.A. Gilliland voted to move the county courthouse site to Attalla. Commissioners John W. Miller and Dan G. McCuley voted to retain it in Gadsden. Probate Judge James A. Tallman, the official chairman, broke the tie by voting for Gadsden.

Being probate judge was the last public office that Tallman filled, as his health began to fail. After leaving his post, Tallman took life easy and passed the time away with his old friends, being unable to attend to business of any kind.

After an illness of a few short weeks, Judge James A. Tallman died Friday morning, Jan. 13, 1905, at his room in the Printup House. His death was due to the many infirmities of old age, with Judge Tallman being 87 years old.

Tallman was a Mason in good standing and a member of the Presbyterian Church. He left only one child, Mrs. Hattie Smith of Eastman, Ga. and a grandson, T.T. Tallman of Gadsden.

Note: Be sure to come by and see the Tallman’s 1877 map. It is on display at the Etowah Historical Society’s research facilities in the Elliot’s Community Center at Alabama City.