There is some doubt as to who was the first settler in Madison County. If Ditto, a Pennsylvanian, was not the first settler, as it is said that he was, living among the Indians in the Chickasaw Old Fields in 1804, then the honor must be conceded to Joseph and Isaac Criner. These two men with Stephen McBroom explored the northern part of the county in 1804. In the early part of 1805, the two Criners erected cabins for themselves, near Criner’s Big Spring on Mountain Fork. While engaged in this work, they were visited by John Hunt and a man named Blan, who stated that they were in search of the big spring. After spending the night, the two visitors continued their journey. About a week afterward Blan returned stating that he was going to return to Tennessee to live, but that Hunt would locate at the big spring, which had been found, and that he would go back to East Tennessee for his family. But apart from the Criners and Hunt, other families came from Tennessee during 1805 and a number of settlements were made. These early settlers, and those who came in the next few years were typical pioneers, used to all the dangers, toils and privations of pioneer life. Their lives were peaceful and they had no trouble with the Indians.
The first great inconvenience was the lack of mills. The settlers were forced to carry their corn to the mills near Winchester, Tenn., causing them to be absent from home for several days. Some of the people obviated this necessity by the use of a mortor and pestle. In the lack of meal lye hominy was extensively used.
The first cotton gin, the year unknown was put up by Charles Cabaness on Barren Fork. By 1809 settlements had been found along Flint River, at Huntsville, Hazel Green, Meridianville, and many other places in the county. During 1809 and the years following many wealthy families from Virginia and Georgia came to the county with their slaves and opened large plantations. They in time outnumbered the pioneers and became the dominant element in the county.
The second capital of the state located at Huntsville (q. v.).
Among the principal towns of the county are: Huntsville, the county seat, Gurley, New Hope, New Market, and Madison.
In 1873 there was a major cholera epidemic in the US during 1873 and there was a report done which was submitted to Congress concerning the disease and its impact on Huntsville.
Churches and school houses are located at convenient points throughout the county, while the population has rural free delivery mail service, and local and long distance telephone service.
Source: History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography