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Judge Pierre Darcy Costello

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The following is an excerpt from a highly recommended book titled "Coffee Grounds-A History of Coffee County, Alabama 1841-1970" by Fred S. Watson:

Pierre Darcy Costello was the second Probate Judge of Coffee County. He was an Irishman, who was born March 22, 1827 near Dublin, Ireland. He died on January 4, 1863, at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He was the son of Daniel Edmund and Mary Costello. Judge Costello's father died in Ireland, and his mother moved to New York soon after his father's death, and there married a Mr. O'Flarity.

Judge Costello lived with his parents in New York until he was 16 years old, and then, because of family troubles, he left home and came South. He had receievd a good education in New York public schools. Leaving New York he went to the Mexican War and was aboard the USS Porpoise. After the war ended he came to Alabama, and when he was 19 years old, he was appointed Probate Judge of Conecuh County, serving from 1849 to 1850.

After completing his term of office as Probate Judge he moved to Geneva and later to Elba where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar but never practiced because he became Probate Judge in September of 1850.

In 1861, Judge Costello organized Company K, 25th Alabama Infantry regiment in the Confederate Army and was commissioned a captain. He went at once into the war and fought at Corinth, Shiloh, in the Mississippi and Kentucky campaigns at Perryville, and at Murfreesboro. He was promoted to major and was acting lieutenant-colonel when he was fatally wounded at Murfreesboro on January 1, 1863. Judge Costello did not run for election May, 1862 having left off the duties of Probate Judge for active service in the Confederate Army.

Politically Judge Costello was a Whig. He was a Mason, but never joined any church. His parents were Catholics. He was married on December 18, 1855, to Miss Cordlia Ann Lee, daughter of Charles Stephens and Elizabeth Mary Lee. Her parents were natives of Georgia, and her father served in the Indian Wars where he gained the title of colonel.

Costello was the first Coffee County judge who was a lawyer. Upon his duties as probate judge, he put his shoulder to the wheel and contributed able services in building the new county giving base and pillar to a strong county government. The county had no poor house. Judge Costello secured land and had the first poor house of the county built. It was located about one mile east of Elba, north of the Elba-Enterprise highway. This poor house was operated until after his death and during Judge B.W. Starke's administration, when it was sold to Malcolm Carmichael.

The county did not undertake any great or expensive improvements. The county government was concerned mainly with building and maintaining bridges across the principal streams of the county and ferries at some points on the Pea River, one being located at Elba, and known as Benton's ferry. The county was sparsely settled, many sections being only "bald piney woods." Settlements were made mainly along the larger streams in the county.

During Costello's administration the county was represented in the lower house of the Alabama General Assembly by A. L. Milligan of Geneva, Jeremiah Warren of Clintonville, and Hill K. H. Horn of Victoria. The State Senators were Daniel H. Horn of Clintonville, and DeWitt C. Davis (address unknown). Those were the days of demanding patriotic service. The question of slavery was constantly before the country. The storm was brewing until the division came and men were called into the most bloody conflict in the history of the American Republic. Judge Costello was a leader of men in this time of distress. No man was more zealous for the cause of the Confederacy than he.

During the Civil War, while Costello was at the front leading his men as the able champion of the rights of the southern states, he kept in sympathetic touch with his people at home. With the faithful cooperation if his county commissioners, great work was accomplished in caring for the poor. Indigent husbands and fathers, sons and brothers had cheerfully gone into the bloody conflict, many in Company K with their beloved probate judge commanding the 25th Alabama Infantry.

Back at home whole families were on the verge of starvation. There was destitution on every hand. These could not be cared for as in times of peace in the county poor house. The county commissioners organized every one of the fifteen beats of the county for the purpose of effectively caring for the indigent families of the men who had gone to the war. During the latter months of Judge Costello's term of office the county administration was engaged mainly in relieving the financial distress brought on by the war condition.

On New Year's day 1863, Judge Costello received a mortal wound in the battle of Murfreesboro. He died in a nearby residence on January 4th and was buried on the battlefield. No monument marks his resting place. Judge P.D. Costello paid the supreme sacrifice for the county he loved.

NOTE: The creator of this page is honored to have the above information compiled by Mr. Watson as a part of this ALGenWeb site. If you would like to read more important facts concerning earlier Coffee County and its citizens, I DO highly recommend the reading of "Coffee Grounds-A History of Coffee County, Alabama 1841 - 1970" by Fred S. Watson.

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ŪPage Created by Phyllis J. K. Owen on August 3rd, 1999