Terrapin Point, home of Mem Tierce, II
History of Terrapin Point
By Memnon Tierce, II
In 1930 my father sold his home and land which is now known as the Patton Farm on Tierce Patton Road. On January 22, 1931. he bought the Freeman Place from Mrs. Brazilda Freeman, widow of Samuel M. Freeman, for the sum of $1,300 dollars.
The deeds show the following acreage:
SE1/4 OF SW 1/4 S27
E 1/2 S33
NW 1/4 S34
W ½ SW 1/4,
AND ALL NORTH AND WEST OF NORTH RIVER OF E ½ OF SW 1/4 S34
ALL IN T-19S R10W N ½ NE 1/4 S-4, T20S R 10W
Later he acquired another 600 acres. Some of the land is covered in the following Federal Land Grants:
President John Quincy Adams’ deed to Thomas Johnston: E1/2 of NW1/4 section 34, t 19, R 10W containing 80 & 86/100 acres later recorded 582/753 in 9-28-1825
Andrew Jackson, President of the United States of America deeded (land patent) to James R. South on (4-month not legible- 1834) recorded 594-587 SE 1/4 of NE 1/4, S 34, T- 19, R 10w 80 43/100 acres.
At that time the land was generally small patches of cotton farmed by the tenants that lived in the five houses and several barns and outbuildings on the land. Across North River on part of the land was a large old home. This was the childhood home of Judge Mayfield who served on the Alabama Supreme Court (lot 60 & 61 of the Tierce Farm subdivision). I can just barely remember the long front porch of the house sitting on a hill overlooking the surrounding acreage. This land was adjacent to part of the Benjamin Tucker Tierce (my great great-grandfather0) homestead acquired in the 1833's, but generally was separated by North River.
In 1970 North River was dammed up to create Lake Tuscaloosa1 to be used as the water supply for the city. The lake is a 5,885-acre water supply reservoir with 177-miles of shoreline. Of course, it has become a major recreation area including boating, skiing, swimming and fishing as well as a premier location for homes. At that time the city flooded about 500 acres of my father’s land and paid him about $100 per acre. My father was 78 years old and gave or sold the remaining land to my half-sister or me.
We set aside the parcel now known as Terrapin Point for our personal use. My father built the pier out of the old bridge timber he had used for building the bridge across North River. We also hauled in enough sand to cover an acre as a beach. This was before the lake filled and the pier beach looked strange sitting way up on a hill about a quarter mile from the river. At that time the family was interested in riding and we then built the octagon shaped barn shown in the picture. The upstairs lounge has a panoramic view of the lake and the land. Currently, the upstairs houses some of the family antiques - items like my baby cradle, my grandfather Dr. J. L. Wilson’s old buggy2 (he used it to make house calls before automobiles). We also had a rail fence marking the entrance to Terrapin Point.
Next, we built the small cottage for weekend use. At that time everyone felt the lake was too far to live full-time, about 10 miles from downtown Tuscaloosa. Soon, Joni and Trip had their own boat and we extended the pier and built a boat house. The cottage, pier and boat house had roof lines as we imagined one would see in the South Pacific. Originally the boat house had a thatched roof!
Joni suggested the name Terrapin Point in reference to what my dad called a deck boat he and mother cruised the lake in.
The old Freeman home (est. 1837) set on a knoll over looking a 14-acre lake my dad had built in the early 1950's. We understand this house was built in the 1830's and the Freemans lived in it later. Some of the lumber probably was milled at my great great grandfather’s water mill a few miles away on Tierce Creek, a tributary of North River. In the early 1980's Trip had the house moved to Terrapin Point, on the water. It was updated with 1 ½ baths and other modern conveniences. The walls, ceiling and floors are the original 12" hand-hewn heart pine. The road to Terrapin Point is named Freeman’s Bend Road in honor of the Freemans.
By 2006 the rail fence was about 35 years old so we replaced it with a stone wall. It was built by three different stone masons and if you look you can see where each of them started and ended.
In the 1980's a small tin frame barn was added. It stores some 100+ years old salvaged building materials. Trip and Betsy also had a Christmas tree farm on the point for a few years. Currently, only one of the trees is left. The interior of the point is open and fairly level. A band of very large trees edges the lake separating it from the pasture. The land is planted in Bahia and Centipede grass. The timber has not been cut in decades and there are many large oaks, pines, cedars, dogwoods and hickories. Many of the pines are 100+ feet tall. The largest tree blew down this summer (2006). It was an oak, 19 feet around. It probably was several hundred years old!
Terrapin Point is a Wildlife Refuge, with fox, deer, squirrels, opossums and racoons and countless species of birds.
Until the 1940's this acreage was a small cotton field, then Dad slowly converted the farm from cotton to cattle. I do not remember cotton, but I remember the field being planted in oats for the cattle. On weekends during the late winter I would come with my dad to let the cows graze for a few hours and then we would drive them to another pasture. Later in the summer when school was out I would help bale the oats into hay and stack it in the old barn. This was hard, hot work and I decided college was for me, not baling hay!
At one time my ancestors owned all the land you can see from the pier, about 2 miles square. It has been handed down to me and my many cousins. Much of it has been subdivided. In 1974 I gave the point to my children, Joni and Trip. Deed book 658, page 471.
Longitude -87.57503, Latitude 33.35688
In 2005 we started building a pier on the point.
And in 2007 we finally moved in to our new home.