The settlement that became the town of Mount Vernon arose near Fort Stoddert, which was built on the Mobile River by the federal government in 1799 to protect what was then the nation's southern border. From 1800 to 1811, Fort Stoddert was the main military structure there, being the southernmost terminus of the Federal Road. In 1807, former vice-president Aaron Burr was incarcerated at the fort after his arrest for treason. In 1811, the U.S. government built the Mount Vernon Cantonment (a military encampment) three miles inland because yellow fever had broken out too often at the fort. After a visit in 1814, Pres. Andrew Jackson ordered the Mount Vernon Arsenal to be built at the cantonment. It was authorized by Congress in 1828, and construction began in 1830. Just before Alabama's secession from the Union prior to the Civil War, the state took possession of the arsenal and later turned it over to the Confederacy. Alabamian Josiah Gorgas, Confederate chief of ordnance was stationed there. The fort was returned to federal control after the war ended.
In 1873, the arsenal was designated as Mount Vernon Barracks. In 1887, Apache chief Geronimo and 450 of his fellow Apaches were incarcerated at the site after their capture in the Plains Wars. They were transferred to Oklahoma in 1894. The barracks was decommissioned in 1895 and given to the state of Alabama, which reopened the structure as Searcy Hospital, a mental facility for African American patients until it was desegregated in 1969. The hospital is slated to close by the end of 2012.
In 1872, the Mobile and Alabama Grand Trunk Railroad Company built a line from Mount Vernon to Mobile. The eastern Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railway bought the line in 1887, and in 1888 it was renamed the Mobile and Birmingham Railway Company. Another narrow-gauge line was absorbed into the Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad and converted to standard gauge in 1905.
Mount Vernon's population according to the 2010 Census was 1,574. Of that number, 73.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as black, 23.4 percent as white, 1.7 percent as Native American, 1.1 percent as two or more races, 0.7 percent as Hispanic, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $34,722 and the per capita income was $13,790.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Mount Vernon was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (27.6 percent)
· Retail trade (18.2 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.6 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (9.1 percent)
· Manufacturing (8.9 percent)
· Construction (7.1 percent)
· Public administration (4.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (4.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.8 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.3 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (2.0 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.0 percent)
· Information (0.8 percent)
Public schools in are part of the Mobile County School District; the town has approximately 520 students and 45 teachers in two elementary schools.
U.S. Highway 43/State Highway 13 runs north-south through Mt. Vernon.
Events and Places of Interest
The Mount Vernon Arsenal/Searcy Hospital Complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old train depot
is being renovated to house the Mount Vernon Historical Museum dedicated to preserving the history of Mount Vernon and the
surrounding area. Mount Vernon maintains two city parks, one of which is on the Mobile River, as well as a community center
and public library.
Mobile County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Mobile County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
James P. Kaetz
Published May 30, 2012
Last updated February 6, 2013