Russell Cave, Alabama - History
The actual history of Russell Cave extends back over 10,000 years. There was evidence of all prehistoric cultures of the Southeast being represented from Paleo people (before 12,000 B.C. - 7,000 B.C.), to Archaic people (7,000 B.C. - 1,000 B.C.), to Woodland (1,000 B.C. - 800 A.D.), and even includes Mississippian (800 A.D. - 1500 A.D.).
Although researchers have managed to figure this much out, the connections between the ancient people who occupied Russell Cave and modern day tribes is still unknown. Something drove the early Mississippians out of the area and speculations have been made concerning some type of agriculture disaster around 1500 A.D.
The first recorded person to own the cave was a man named John Woods. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and was one of the natives granted a reservation. The land he owned included all of Russell Cave, and the stone house he built there has survived to this day to be the oldest home still inhabited in Jackson County.
Eventually, a man named Major James Doran came to live on the reservation with Woods. Traces of John Woods disappeared, but Doran sold part of the reservation to a family member named Colonel Thomas Russell. It remained in the Russell family until 1928. The area is known as Dorans Cove and the cave is known as Russell Cave, after the two men who inhabited the land. The cave was officially discovered in 1951 when the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) surveyed the area for the purpose of putting up power lines.
The site has since been excavated and many tell-tale artifacts have been discovered as a result. During these excavations the National Geographic Society purchased the site and offered it to the public as a national monument. President John F. Kennedy established the Russell Cave National Monument on May 11, 1961.
Source: Southern Pride, NPS (National Park Service)