Long before colonialists moved into the Wiregrass region of Alabama, the Creek and Seminole Indians settled here. Rather than being a nomadic tribe, the Muskogee tribe of the Creek Indians who settled here were excellent farmers. Living along the many creeks and streams here, they developed a number of recipes based on local fare such as hickory nut soup, roasted wild duck and cornmeal bread. In order to make it possible for colonialists to settle this region, this group of the Creek nation fought alongside Andrew Jackson against other tribes.
The Abbey Creek runs through the center of the Wiregrass, but the Indian name for the creek was “Yatta Abba” which means “a grove of dogwood trees”. Today, dogwoods still bloom along the creek and in the city of Abbeville. Abbeville was first settled in 1822 and was incorporated some years later. In 1859 young William Calvin Oates organized a company of 121 men on the steps of the Abbeville courthouse. This group of enthusiastic young men, known as Company G of the 15th Alabama, marched northward carrying dreams of glory; however, soon stark realities of a solider’s life were thrust upon them. They would be immortalized at Gettysburg’s Little Round Top, and many never returned home. Though losing his right arm in battle, Oats returned to Abbeville after the war and resumed his legal career. In November 1894 he was elected governor after serving seven consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Today, Abbeville, first city in the nation alphabetically, both by city and state, in the Rand McNally Road Atlas, is home to several trustees of three Alabama Universities – the University of South Alabama, Auburn University and the University of Alabama. Abbeville students have been president of the SGA at Troy University, Auburn University, and the University of Alabama. Pride and enthusiasm for home still inundates the citizens of a place called Abbeville.