James Powell

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James R. Powell (born December 7th, 1814 - died December, 1883) - was born in Powellton, Brunswick County, Virginia. He came to Alabama in 1833 and had initially settled in Lowndes County. In 1836, Powell moved to Wetumpka where he started a career as a stage owner and mall contractor, which lasted for 25 years.

Sheriff many times of Coosa County, he was eventually elected to the state senate in 1853 and was again elected in 1855. After the end of his second term, he relocated to Montgomery.

He was elected president of the Elyton Land Company at the point of its creation, and served the position from 1871 to 1874.

He was the first elected mayor of Birmingham, and served from 1873 to 1875.

Powell was also known as "The Duke of Birmingham" for his great promotion of the city. The most notable example of his efforts was his invitation to the Press Association of New York to visit the new city. The publicity that resulted from this even turned worldwide attention to Birmingham.

Powell died in December of 1883 in a shooting. At the time he resided on his Mississippi plantation where he was married to Mary J. Smythe of Virginia.