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Beech Grove Church of Christ

Florence (Images of America)

Carolyn Barske

On the banks of the Tennessee River, below the once-formidable Muscle Shoals in northwest Alabama, sits the vibrant community of Florence. In the early 19th century, the Chickasaw Nation ceded lands to the US government, and in 1818 the Cypress Land Company held its first auction. The town grew quickly because of the efforts of the company�s founders, which included Gen. John Coffee; John McKinley, who later sat on the US Supreme Court; and James Jackson, whose imported Thoroughbred horses became the bloodstock for some of Kentucky�s finest racehorses. Schools, churches, hotels, and businesses soon filled the streets. For almost 200 years, the town of Florence has continued to grow, becoming home to the University of North Alabama and people like the �Father of the Blues,� W.C. Handy; Maud Lindsay, who operated the first free kindergarten in the state; and four governors in Edward A. O�Neal, Emmett O�Neal, Robert M. Patton, and Hugh McVay.

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