There may be no home in the Black Belt with more history attached to it than this one. It was built in 1828 – 1829 by John Gayle, a South Carolina native. Prior to moving to Greensboro, Gayle lived in Monroeville, Al where he served in the territorial legislature before Alabama became a state. After relocating to Greensboro, he served on the State Supreme Court, represented Greene County in the legislature and was chosen Speaker of the House. In 1831, he was elected the sixth governor of Alabama and was chosen for a second term two years later. He also served as a U. S. District Judge.
This house was the early childhood home of the Gayle’s daughter, Amelia. She was the wife of Brigadier General Josiah Gorgas. General Gorgas, a graduate of West Point, served as Chief of Ordnance for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. He managed to keep the Confederate armies supplied with weapons and ammunition, despite the Union blockade and even though the South had hardly any munitions industry before the war began. Gorgas later served as President of the University of Alabama. Amelia Gorgas was librarian at the University from 1882 to 1906. The University’s main library is named in honor of her. The Gorgas’ son, William Crawford Gorgas, served as the Surgeon General of the U. S. Army who made possible the completion of the Panama Canal by eradicating yellow fever in the Canal Zone.
This house was also the home of the Hobson-Tunstall family for many years. Governor Gayle sold the house to a wealthy planter, Mathew Hobson and his wife, Elizabeth Munger Hobson. The house was next owned by the Hobson’s daughter, Augusta, and her husband, Wiley C. Tunstall. Mr. Tunstall was very active in politics and served two terms on the State’s first Railroad Commission (now the Public Service Commission). The next owner of this home was the Tunstall’s son, Alfred Moore Tunstall. He served in Alabama legislature for nearly 40 years and was twice Speaker of the House.
The Gayle-Tunstall Home is located at on the southwest corner of the intersection of Main Street & Demopolis Street in Greensboro (GPS coordinates 32.703903, -87.599329).
This is a private residence – drive by only.
Sources: 1) Gayle-Tunstall House Historical Marker; 1) Historic Hale County, published by The Presentation Committee of the Alabama Reunion 1989; 3) wikipedia.com
Pictures courtesy of RuralSWAlabama.
Note: This house is featured site #53, Gayle-Tunstall House, on the Greensboro Historic Walking Tour. Tour brochures are available at a tourism kiosk that’s located on the SE corner of Main and Beacon Streets at downtown Greensboro.