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The Florala News
Florala , Alabama
June 19, 1975     The Florala News
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June 19, 1975

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IMAGE ©SMALLTOWNPAPERS, INC. ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHTED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USE SUBJECT TO LICENSE AGREEMENT. REPRODUCTION, DISSEMINATION, STORAGE, DISTRIBUTION PROHIBITED. IN COMPILING THE HISTORY of any community, many of the historical "facts" are legendary and impossible to prove; however, some of the past has been re- corded--in old newspapers, courthouse re- cords, the memory of some of the older settlers, old maps, handed -down tales, and the efforts of prior historians. The Creek Indians originally inhabited all the territory of Covington County until they were forced to move west of the Mississippi River in 1836. However, some of their descendants are still here. In the year 1816 a party of white settlers from the eastern counties of Georgia moved into what is now known as Covington County, traveling by ox cart. On December 7, 1821, Covington County was created by an act of the Alabama leg- islature; the original county was a large land area and was later reduced to its present size by the creation of Dale and Geneva counties. The county was named for Brig- adier General Leonard Waites Covington, a native of Maryland and a congressman from that state who served in the army during the War of 1812. The first county site was established in 1829 and named Montezuma. It was located four miles south of the prenent River Falls on the Conecuh River, and moved to Andalusia in 1844. The first church was organized in the Rose Hill community in 1823 and was called Macedonia. The popul- ation of the county in 1821 was a total of 964, and the first official census taken in 1830 showed a total population of 1,522, con- sisting of 1,118 white and 404 colored. In the year 1832 there were threesmall schools in the county and pupils attended these for a tuition of 5˘ per day. A Yellow Fever epidemic in 1841 forced the early settlers to leave. They later returned and settled on the highest point in the county, which is now :Andalusia's public square. The tittle town was named New Site. In 1846 a post office was ,established and the name officially changed to Andalusia, which was incorporated in 1887. ]n 1903 Opp was established, the city being named for Colonel Henry Opp. One of the earliest references to what is now known as Florala is taken from E. W. ~arswell's book entitled "On To Pensacola". tlr. Carswell is the northwest Florida his- Lorlan, and his book describes General An- lrew Jackson's march from Apslachicola, Horida, to Pensacola. "General Andrew lackson and his army 'headed downhill' after leaving the Alabama-Florida border in the Horala-Paztun area. They were on the per- ~e~ps centuries-old road from the upper Creek tion to Escambla Bay. Jackson called it Red Ground Trail. It had converged with ser trails at David's Lake, to make that ce one of considerable importance in fron- tier commerce and communications. The downhill grade was so gradual, however, that it probably was little noticed by the tired horses and men." It must have been with some reluctance that they marched away from the lake, which John Lee Williams (a gov- ernment surveyor) described seven years later (1825) thusly: "A branch of Shoal River rises in a fine lake, adjoining the Alabama line, and is about seven or eight miles in circumference. It is a charming sheet of spring water, and it is surrounded with good pine land; a handsome settlement is progressing on its banks. The soil here is rather claye." On June 24, 1966, the Alabama Historical Association unveiled and dedicated a monu- ment on the shores of Lake Jackson inscribed as follows: "LAKE JACKSON, Andrew Jack- son in Seminole War with an army of 1200 camped here in May, 1818, enroute westward from Fort Gadsden to subdue mauranding Indians abetted by Spaniards at Pensacola. Jackson determined to seize Pensacola and thus altered the course of history on this continent." An earlier historian had this to say about Jackson's camp on the lake. "The English, and also the Spaniards at Pensacola, furni- shed ammunition to Indians and run-away Negroes to go about the country and kill white Americans. They did not want a dem- ocratic government like ours but like theirs of the old world. General Jackson, on his way to Pensacola to stop these outrages, camped several weeks on the shores of our lake, because his soldiers had smallpox. Sending the convalescents back to Tenne- ssee, he took the other soldiers to Pensa- cola. It is a matter of history how he meted out punishment to the marauders. Later Jackson, after the battle of New Orleans, against the English, invaded Florida and over- threw the Seminole Indians. He was Florida's first Territorial Governor, and later the seventh President of the United States." He was the first Democratic President. The earlier settlers tn the Florala area homesteaded on the south side of the lake nearer the present site of Pazton, Florida, then Florala. Among the earliest of these was a man named McDavid, who for some reason changed his name to McDade. Early maps of this area show different locations of the boundary line between Alabama and Florida. One has the line several miles north of Florala. A map made by John Lee Wil- liams has the lake named as David's Lake, and a property survey dated May 16, 1855, has the lake named as Jackson's Pond. Ano- ther legendary name was McDade's Pond. The date of the changing of the name to Lake Jackson is not known. ByE. P. Mr. W. J. D. Cawthon moved into this section from Georgia in the early eighteen hundreds, bringing with him a large herd of cattle• In moving from Georgia in search of a new home, he camped long enough at the present site of Dothan for it to be called "Cawthon's Cowpens". Mr. Cawthon bought Mr. McDade's cattle, land, and home. He later brought two negro men from Georgia, and they sawed the lumber with a whip-saw to build a two story house. Mr. Cawthon's daughter, Sara Elizabeth, was born in Dec- ember, 1833; she later married Lewis Mil- ler and they reared a family of eleven child- ren. "Aunt Bettie", as she was often called, lived a widow many years and died in 1936 at the age of 102. Much later than the Millers and the Caw- tbons, one of the first settlers to make his home in what is now the corporate limits of Ftorala was James Edwin Hughes, who was born in Dale County, Alabama. He arrived in Florala by ox cart in December of 1865, after the ending of the Civil War. Mr. Hughes, while serving in the Confederate Army, had traded for a 160 acre tract of land from a soldier in his company, who was from Cov- ington County. This man had bargained for the 160 acres from the government for $I 5.00. He was anxious to get from under this load and swapped the land for a pair of oxen. This tract is now the central part of the City of Ftorala. Upon his arrival here with his wid- owed mother, Mr. Hughes found a small log building, just north of the present location of the Florala Hardware Company. In this build- ing he established his home for several years until he built a home approximately on the present site of the Florala Hardware Com- pany. He bought more land and soon owned much of the surrounding territory. He kept a little store, his stock of goods consisting of needles, pins, thread, etc., which he kept in a big gourd under his bed and brought it out whenever a customer came in. Later his store increased to large proportions, and he made trips to market in Troy, Alabama, and Milton, Florida. There was a stagecoach that made trips from Columbus, Georgia, to Geneva and Florala, then on to Milton. Mr. Hughes always took care of the men and the horses. Mr. Hughes was known asthe"Daddy of Florala" and died in 1936 at the age of 97. As time passed, "other " settlers arrived in the area until the population grew to a size which warranted the establishment of a post office. On January I I, 1875, a post office was established in the home of Mr. Hughes, who had been named postmaster, and was named Lake City, Alabama. The name of the community was changed to Lakeview. Rodweli Alabama, on May 18, 1877, and finally to Florala, on June 22, 1891, this name being derived by using the first four letters of Flo- rida and the first three letters of Alabama. The exact date church services were con- ducted in Florala is unknown. The first Bap- tist Church was organized at Chapel Hill, about eight miles northeast of Florala, in 1852. The Shady Grove Missionary Chr, rch was organized in 1881, and the name was changed to the First Baptist Church Ol Flo- rala, Alabama, on July 3l, 1897. The First Presbyterian Church was established in 1900 and the Florala Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1905. Some of the members of the Baptist faith before 1900 were: J. E. Hughes, T. J. George, N. R. Stewart, M. A. George, Sr., J. A. Hart, E. L. Cox, J. T. Manning, Thomas Straughn, Z. T. Blackman, Mrs. Julia H. Price, Mrs. Emma Hughes, Mrs. Annie Royals, Mrs. Sissie Hart, Mrs. Frances George and Mrs. G. P. Heun. Some Presby- terians of the same era were Mr. and Mrs. J. N. McLean, Miss Effie McLean, John McLean, Claude McLean, Mr. and Mrs. John F. McRae, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. McLa- ughlin, J. Arch McNeill, Miss M. J. McDuf- fie, Mr. and Mrs. D. H. McDuffie, W. J. McPhail, Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Meineke and Mrs. Sam H. Williams. Some of the early Methodists were J. F. Price, W. B. Gilmer, C. C. McRae, Dr. A. L. Wynn, P. W. Rye, S. H. Martin, W. H. Morrison, J. W. Lee, George Goolsby, Walter Ethridge, D. A. Ewing, J. M Muun, C. W. Gavin and L. A. Jones. This list is by no means complete and is not intended to be. It is only included to preserve some of the names of early residents before the turn of the century. Not a great deal is known of the Florala area during the years from 1870 to 1900. Masonry has been a part of the history of Florala since its beginning, and the annual St. John's Day celebration on June 24, 1970, made it I00 years old. A week-long Cen-, teunial Celebration was stated to commem- orate that date. A Masonic lodge was in existence in the area around 1850, which fun- ctioned until the outbreak of the Civil War and was disbanded until the end of the hos- tilities. The names of some of the more active Masons in the year 1873 were: W. J. D. Cawthon, J. D. Jordan, W. L. Hurst, Alex McSwain, J. M. Chance, T. J. Williams, John Williams, LaFayette Williams, R. Miller, Alex Hart, M. A. George, Sr., and Rev. D. C. Allen. After the Civil War the lodge was reorganized by W. J. D. Cawthon, Jeff Balkom, Lewis Miller, M. A. Cawthon, and James Mack Williams. In 1895 Florala was just a small settle- ment, comprised of the following families, J THE FLORALA NEWS- THURSDAY, JU~RALA / J, C. f~e No.I trs, oN tia' Use whl |~ere Jpth exclusive of the J. E. Hughes family: John Notable among the new s~ Naval F. Gilmer, W. B. Gilmer, Dr. R. L. Miller, Jeff George, Judge Wood, R. H. Stallings and the Manning family. Mr. W. B. Manning came here from Pike County, but was orig- inally from South Carolina. He first settled across the lake where he farmed, then lo- cated in "Old Florala" near the old Masonic Lodge, where he conducted a store. Later, when the railroad came in, he moved and ran a store in the heart of town. His son, J. T. Manning, preferred logging to farming and keeping a store.. When he had accumulated $1,000, he married and built a home near the present home of his son, Ernest Manning. In 1688, Mr. Manning was given the manage- ment of the large land holdings of the Jack- son Lumber Company. This was perhaps the finest body of pine timber in the world and comprised 144,000 acres. Mr. Manning held this job until the date of his death, exactly fifty years. This little settlement of people could not last long, with new industries coming in, new people from various states, and the Yellow River Railroad train blowing its whistle in the center of town. It was a coun- try village no longer. People flocked in from other states, chiefly North Carolina in the Cape Fear River section that was settled in the early days by Scotch Highlanders. These people were looking for the long leaf yellow pine to manu- facture turpentine and resin and to cut into lumber. Among these were the McPail bro- thers, who formed the Lake Lumber Com- pany and built a railroad on the south side of the lake that connected with the Yellow River Railroad, which was then chiefly a "log road". In 1904 the McPhafl brothers sold their interests to W. H. Britton, who incorporated it as the Britton Lumber Co- mpany. Mr. D. A. McPhail retained an in- terest in the new firm. Others taking stock were E. P. Rodwell, Sr., T. J. Britton, Sr., and W. A. Mills, Sr. This business started with a paid-in capital of $I00,000, which was increased to one-half million in 1908. In the year 1907, Mr. Britton bought from the Yawkey estate, 21,500 acres of land in Walton and Holmes counties, Flo- rida. It was considered one of the finest bodies of pine timber in the state at that time. At its peak of operation, the Britton Lumber Company employed from 350-400 men, owned thirty miles of logging rail- road, owned 25,000 acres ofpinetimber land, and operated a saw mill and a planing mill with a capacity of I00,000 feet of lumber per day. Mr. Britton was also president of the Bank of Florala and the Lake Jackson C. McLaughlin. Coming fro~.IQge at4 lina in 1882, he settled in 0~d JamI and entered the naval stores Ipna, whI first in that section of the co~ValSto • li~'~er m I a surveyor and made pre ,,] for the A & F Railroad fro~t Graceville, Florida. Mr. to what is now Florala in from that time until his was an outstanding leader in and educational activities. He years president and Land Company. IL was influence that the CovingtoU School was located here. Hel of the school board, at cilman and mayor, a member Board of Revenue and was when the present He helped organize the in 1900. He was president cantile Company and of the facturing Company at Mill*gas, the first vice president of The rala. Some of his associates Duffle, W. A. Monroe, Jim Ray, H. A. Ray and Fairley inally from North Carolina. thers were among the very fir of naval stores in CovingtonI of Yellow River. With the advent of the railre tion, Sara Mozeiy McDaniel, i William R. McDaniel, moved fV by ox cart to open a boardi~ the railroad workers on the pied by the Piggly-Wiggly. her five daughters and roomed and served meals to each day. The Yellow River Florala in 1896 from Crestview, at first only a log train, passenger cars were added. the only outlet to the outside direction. The depot was and for several months box fl n for the depot. In 1903 the L J ~i was completed from Opp to Fl~e an~ ht wvas t same year the L & N boug 1 River Railroad, and the del~.!_~e th~J its present site in 1903. The lily] ~I J. A. Vaughan, and Mr. T. A. cqst~J appointed in 1910, a position many years. Mr. Goodwin, I: known as "The Duke of ~i several terms in the Alabama ~ both in the House and in the was very active in civic and "~ until his death in 1969 at the ~ The Central of Georgia e Vq i V IlL i I I I I III I HIRAM PITTS PRESIDEHT Red Level, Alat~mo ASSOCIATE MEM BERS WEAD HICKS Route 8 Andolusin, Alabama JERRY ADAMS Opp, Ai oberon KELTYS POWELL TREASURER Andalusia, AIo. TRENT LEWIS North l lth Street Fiorolo, Alabama T. H. MAY HARI~ Route 2 Dozier, Alabama i 1 AND ALL THE FINE PEOPLE OF FLORA On Their Andalusia's Most Complete Ladies Ready-To-Wear, Shoes, And Accessory Store. The Store For Fashionable Women ANDALUSIA, ALABAMA **Your "The doorway to