Mount Vernon Barracks 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.
Geronimo at Mount Vernon 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 closed in October 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.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Mount Vernon recorded a population of 1,504. Of that number, 78.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as black, 19.2 percent as white, 1.1 percent as two or more races, 0.9 percent as Asian, 0.6 percent as Hispanic, and 0.2 percent as Native American. The town’s median household income was $41,944, and the per capita income was $21,071.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Mount Vernon was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (30.7 percent)
- Retail trade (12.3 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (12.1 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (11.1 percent)
- Manufacturing (10.2 percent)
- Construction (6.9 percent)
- Public administration (6.2 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.5 percent)
- Wholesale trade (2.6 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (1.6 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (0.9 percent)
Public schools in are part of the Mobile County School District; the town has two elementary schools.
U.S. Highway 43/State Highway 13 runs north-south through Mt. Vernon.
Events and Places of Interest
Searcy Hospital, 1917 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.