By Cady Inabinett, Editor in chief
The story of the ghost of Edmund King is certainly a Montevallo tradition, but it also works to gentrify and whitewash the history of King House.
King was a settler in Central Alabama, moving to the area after the Treaty of Fort Jackson ended the Creek War in 1814 and opened the land for white settlement. The Montevallo-area land that King settled in 1817 was, historically, the land of the Muscogee people. By the time that King moved into the area, Muscogee people still lived on the land and were viewed as allies to the white settlers. However, this sense of allyship did not stop the Muscogee people from being forcibly displaced from the land in the 1830s with the Trail of Tears.
King House was constructed in 1823 through the forced labor of enslaved people. Slave labor was the backbone of the King family’s economic success, as King began a plantation operation in Montevallo. King profited off of agricultural work, mining, metalwork and a grist mill operation, all powered by slave labor. According to the 1820 Census, King held at least 16 slaves.
The economic success King derived from forced labor granted him the ability to donate land to several projects in the area. This included the construction of Reynolds Hall, which King donated the land for in 1851. The construction work done to build Reynolds was also likely performed by enslaved people.
King died in 1863, and was buried in the family cemetery lot now located behind Harman Hall and Hill House alongside several of his family members. However, it remains unclear where the slaves King held are buried. While burial customs of the time indicate that their bodies may lie at the perimeter of the King family’s cemetery lot, this has not been confirmed. Parts of Montevallo’s campus may lie on top of the graves of people who were once enslaved here.
Cady Inabinett is the editor in chief of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies, caring for houseplants and generally just being pretentious in her free time.