On this day in Alabama history: Birmingham founder Josiah Morris was born

On this day in Alabama history: Birmingham founder Josiah Morris was born
Morris, a banker in Montgomery, directed both the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad Company and the South and North Alabama Railroad. He helped organize the Elyton Land Company in 1870. This portrait was painted by Cornelius Hankins in 1906; it is in the museum collection at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

May 26, 1818

Born in Maryland, Josiah Morris got his first job at a mercantile in Columbus, Georgia, at age 15. He worked his way up the ladder in cotton trading. After becoming financially successful, Morris founded a banking business in Montgomery in 1856.

At the urging of his friend John T. Milner, chief engineer for the South and North Railroad, Morris provided funds to develop a new industrial city in Jones Valley, which would become known as Birmingham. On Dec. 8, 1870, Morris purchased 4,150 acres, the land where the city would be built.

Morris helped organize the Elyton Land Company. Of the 2,130 shares of the new company, Morris owned 437, or a bit more than 20 percent, making him the largest shareholder. Morris or James Powell suggested the city be given the name Birmingham in honor of England’s industrial metropolis.

Read more at Bhamwiki.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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