Bettie Hunter was a former slave who created a very successful hack and carriage business, allowing her to build this particularly impressive house in 1878.


  • The Bettie Hunter House as it appears today.
    The Bettie Hunter House as it appears today.

Bettie Hunter was born in 1852 in Cahaba, Alabama. As a point of reference, this was the same year Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Hunter was eleven years old when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Cahaba had declined economically from it's formerly prosperous days as the first state capital of Alabama. Simultaneously Mobile gained great economic importance, especially after the fall of New Orleans in 1862 made Mobile the major gulf port of the South. 

Rather than continuing the agricultural work of her slave days, Bettie Hunter moved to Mobile to seek economic opportunities in the city.  As it turned out there were great opportunities available in the transportation sector.  Former slaves in the city quickly capitalized on the need to transport goods, the wealthy's desire to go on drives in the "country," and the call for luxury carriages in Mardi Gras celebrations.  Bettie Hunter actually was not able to legally own her own business and had to keep it in her brother Henry's name because she was a woman.  Her brothers drove the carriages while she used her skill in business to manage finances. Clearly she did quite well, as evidenced by the costly investment required to build this house.  Sadly, Bettie Hunter died of anemia the year after construction was completed in 1879 at the young age of 27.

Bettie Hunter's descendants still maintain the property today.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 for architectural and historic value.

http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/85000446.pdf http://www.examiner.com/article/bettie-hunter-ex-slave http://www.maaht.org/tour2/index.html?id=b&point=3