Looking Back: Fort Morgan rock

Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 19, 2015


Recently, the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park received a call from a woman asking about the Fort Morgan rock located on museum property, interested to see if it truly was from Fort Morgan in Mobile, Alabama.

She said she was related to Revolutionary War General Daniel Morgan, whom the fort is named after. She did not see any clear connection between Mobile and Birmingham, Michigan. A search into her inquiry revealed that more than 20 years ago, then-President of the Birmingham Historical Society, Max Horton, had already answered this question. The following is his research behind the Fort Morgan rock:

John Allen Bigelow, a Civil War captain, decided that Birmingham should have an actual piece of Civil War equipment as a memorial. Through a community fundraiser, Bigelow was able to purchase a Fort Morgan cannon from the federal government in 1904, 40 years after the historic Battle of Mobile Bay.

He also commissioned John Felder, a local stoneworker, to construct a concrete base for the cannon. The cannon and base were placed at Hill Elementary School, where for years kids played on the artifact.

During World War II, the cannon was melted down in a scrap metal drive. The base disappeared for nearly 50 years until it was discovered in 1992 at an old city dump on Coolidge near 14 Mile Road.

The Birmingham Historic District and Design Review Commission determined that the base would be placed next to the Allen House, where it could be treated with due honor.

You can see the Fort Morgan rock at the Birmingham Historical Museum and Park, located at 556 W. Maple Road in downtown Birmingham.

— Brittany Hendryx, Birmingham Historical Museum and Park