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The Lowery House
Atmore, Escambia County Alabama and Others Towns of interest
(Information on Canoe, Evansville, and Wawbeek at end of page)
Information on Atmore, Alabama, found in "History of Escambia County Alabama", printed 1983. There is a copy in the Pensacola library, and most likely in major cities in Escambia County Alabama. Copies of this book can be obtained at the Escambia County Historical society in Brewton, Alabama. Brief Exerpts from Book. Pages 224 and 225 Mr. Roberts had a sawmill in the vicinity of Old Indian Pond. In late 1880's (1886) Mr. Carney built one in downtown Atmore. This mill was really a center for this little newborn village. Even church services were held in part of its planer mill. In 1895, Williams Station had population of 165. W. M. Carney Mill Company was in full operation, but very few people lived in town. There were two very large hotels that mainly housed the mill workers. The Magnolia Hotel was located on North Main Street on the lots now occupied by Maxwell-Haley, Atmore Office and School Supply, and Bristow"s Pharmacy. The Emmons Hotel was on west Nashville about two blocks down from Main Street. Early stores in Atmore were few. Of course there was the commissary for the sawmill. This store for years was just known as Carney's, which stood on South Main where Vic's is now located. Roberts store was really the first one. It was located where Thompson's now stands. Willie Morgan's place of business was on South Main Street about where Faynard's is located. Tidmore and Ward was on Ashley Street in the 100 block, on one of the few roads leading out of town. W.W.Lowery's was where the Strand Theatre now stands. The Advance newspaper office now stands where the William Walter Lowery home and the home of his son, Winton Walter Lowery, once stood. Some of the earliest names associated with Atmore were those of Bryars, Carney, Ashley, Stewart, Ward, Emmons, Williams, Adams, Brooks, Lowery, Noblett, Wallace, McGowin and Davis. As early as 1885, there were enough people in Williams Station to take interest in politics. A polling place was provided and votes were cast in a county election. This was just a few years after Escambia County was founded from parts of Conecuh County and Baldwin County in 1868. Atmore and its vicinity were a part of Baldwin County at one time. The social live of Atmore centered around the early churches. Young people had to walk. Courting couples picked wild violets in the fields, congregated on the church steps, or gathered at the depot to see who was coming or going. Water lilies, which had to be collected in alligator infested ponds by daring young men, were valued presents for young ladies. A picture of the Lowery Home (built about 1908) is shown on page 225. Additional information is available on page 223 and 226. William Walter Lowery moved his family from Enon, Florida to Williams Station, Alabama about 1891. After establishing his first store, William became deeply involved in Atmore and Escambia county, He was involved in many business ventures in Atmore, and was an Escambia County Commissioner from 1900 through 1904.
Atmore Escambia County, Alabama (Atmore Advance, Bicentennial, 1967) This history of Atmore was researched and written for publication in the Atmore Advance in 1967 by the Bicentennial Chairman, J. Floyd Currie, historian for Atmore's Bicentennial Celebration. Some few statements have been deleted. The Industrial Grown section was added for this publication. (Notice to people working on this Genealogy effort: It was my understanding that Florence Lowery and Jessie Forte contributed some things to this article. I see no signs of it? What statements were deleted? Anyone with a copy of the 1967 article please check it against this document and see if there is anything missing that would be of interest to the Lowery Genealogy effort).
Two Hundred years seems like along, long time ago, yet this we start celebrating the Bicentennial with a year-long birthday party. We love our country and are proud of her. Starting this year, she will be 200 years old and we want to give her the best birthday our hearts and hands can devise. Just about 200 years ago, in 1775, a band of farmers stood beside a bridge in Massachusetts and fired shots that were heard around the world. A year later in Philadelphia, brave men, meeting at a little hall at their peril signed the Declaration of Independence. Why celebrate? Two hundred years is a long time, yet for us, it is like a child's birthday party. We are the youngest of the great nations. Two centuries of the highest drama have been taking place within our shores. Miracles! We have wings, and the sounds of voices flash across the sea in a split second. We are now a nation of 50 states and 211 million people., projected to 300 million by the year of 2,000. We are rich. Even though we are growing, we remain today the oldest republic and the oldest democracy living under the oldest constitution in the world. Flag waving? Maybe, but deep down inside, we all share the joy of being citizens of this great nation and the "Star Spangled Banner" will still send a few chills up and down our backs. Congress, by an act in July, 1966, created the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. The mandate was to plan to encourage, to co-ordinate and to develop a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the nation's birth. What do you suppose this part of the world looked like in 1775? We know there were ponds all over the place. In fact, Atmore was built in the middle of seven of them. Not just low, boggy, damp places. There year round lily pad and alligator infested ponds abounding in cypress. This part of the world abounded in virgin pile forest. Possibly if it had not been for the pine trees there maybe would not have been an Atmore. We have lots of evidence that this area was populated. There are numerous places close by where arrowheads, potter, and other Indian artifacts have been found. Brushy Creek on the north of us was one place to look for evidence. Old Indian Pond on the east of us held a few treasures, hence its name. Most, however, have been unearthed out at the head of Perdido Creek. Maybe all of this part of the country served as a hunting ground for the Indian people. We know that this was Creek territory. One of their main trails running from the nations further north in what is now Alabama to the river on our west passes not far to the north of us. There is a natural ridge stating at Stockton and leaving the state near Fort Mitchell, a few miles to the south of Columbus, Georgia. On this ridge was a trail that served as a main ;Indian thoroughfare. The largest stream that is crossed was Big Escambia Creek, twenty five miles to the north of us on the Monroe-Conecuh county lines. All other streams could be forded and there were mighty few of these. The trail later was rented from the Indians and part of it became the Old Federal Road. Other parts of it became the Old Stage Road. At any rate it was possibly the first federally funded highway in the South. The early stage coaches used it. But, most of all, some of our ancestors had to use it to get to this part of the world. Portions of this trail, now a country road, are still in use today. In 1805 the Creek Indian Confederacy granted the United States the right to use this horse path which enters Alabama at Fort Mitchell, in Russell County, and ends up at the Tombigbee River before entering Mississippi territory. By 1818 the Old Federal Road which ended at Fort Stoddard, just north of Mobile, was the main artery of travel by which so many of the early settlers moved into the recently ceded Creek Indian land. The granting and the use of this trail by Creek Confederacy was drawn up by Henry Dearborn, the Secretary of War acting as a United States Commissioner. The Indians were represented by William McIntosh, the head of the Creek chiefs. For the perpetual use of this horse path, the United States paid $12,000 in money, goods and implements of husbandry, plus $11,000 each year for ten years. It is interesting to compare our present day Interstate 65, which incidentally parallels this old trail in so many instances, and cost in the proximity of $1 million per mile. Taverns, Inns or rest stops on the Old Federal Road were located on an average of about every sixteen miles. This was just about a good day's ride on horseback, stage or buckboard. The taverns were maintained along the road by a head chief or some member of his family. It is most probable that the real owners of these inns were white men, but to keep peace with the Indians and to permit safe travel, these partners usually remained silent. Politics played a most prominent role. This road is really the oldest historical "thing" that is right near to us here in Escambia County. Atmore came into being about 100 years ago, not as Atmore, but as a stop for the trains to put off supplies for the Williams family that lived ten or twelve miles below in Florida, hence the name, Williams Station. The railroad was put through in the 1860s from Pollard to the Tensaw River. This line was known as the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad after first being called the Mobile and Great Northern. These were the Reconstruction years, Atmore was born of the Reconstruction efforts. In the very early 1870s there were three buildings in Williams Station: the railroad, one store containing the post office, and one dwelling. The dwelling stood where the Bank of Atmore now stands and the store was one-half block due west facing the railroad station. This railroad is closely associated with Atmore's growth; had there not been this little depot where supplies were left, maybe we just would have remained as a group of ponds and acres of virgin pine forest. Later in the 1870s a sawmill was put into operation in this little railroad village. This mill was located in the vicinity of Indian Pond, one and one half miles due east of present downtown Atmore. The old long locomotive for this mill ran on pole rails. This mill brought a few pioneer settlers to Williams' Station. Also people who helped build the railroad remained in the area. Thus the birth of our Atmore. Several families lived in Evansville, a small community just north of Wawbeek. Flomaton, known as Rueterville, had become a railroad junction and boasted several families. Miles Crossing, Wawbeek and Canoe also had one or two families. Nokomis, four miles to the west was known as Wilson's Station. Work had started on the railroad through this area when the Civil War broke out. The line from Montgomery to Pollard was call the Alabama and Florida, from Pollard to Pensacola it was the Florida and Alabama, and from Pollard to the Tensaw River it was the Mobile and Great Northern Railroad. At the Tensaw River (Hurricane) passengers and freight were transferred to boats to make the twenty-two mile trip down the river to Mobile. How do you suppose we would feel if we would ride the train to within twenty-two miles of our destination and then have to take a ferry boat for the remainder of the trip? It might have been interesting. Railroads were the center of things, just as they still run through the middle of town. Even so, the older trains seemed to be more of a way of life, a more romantic era. Everyone knew all the trains by numbers and schedules. Some people could even recognize a train by the sound of its whistle. By 1914 Atmore had secured a second railroad- The Georgia, Florida and Alabama. It was sometimes called the Old Southern States, and children called it the G,F,&A - Gophers, Frogs, and Alligators. This railroad started at Pensacola and headed for the coal fields of Alabama. By 1915, ninety miles had been completed out of Pensacola passing one and one-half miles west of Atmore going underneath the L&N on a trestle that U.S. 31 now goes under. By 1929 this line was taken over from by the Saint Louis-San Francisco Railroad. The Frisco line ran from Pensacola to Armory, Mississippi where it joined the main line from Birmingham to Memphis. Passenger trains used this line also. Excursions were common in the summer months - from Memphis to the Gulf. G,F,&A's first station was located where the line crosses the L&N now. Trains backed into or backed out of this station to get on the main line. The SL - SF later built their station several blocks north on the main line. Early hacks made daily runs between Blacksher Camp, now Uriah, and Atmore. This mode of transportation lasted until the automobile era arrived. The hacks were described as glorified buckboard, just double seated two horse carriages. Incredibly this was just about an all day trip. Being brought up on the railroad seems to get in the blood. Every train looks different. It is, and has been, a way of life. A favorite train was the Pensacola Short. It ran from Pensacola to Mobile daily - down in the early morning and back in the afternoon - just a commuter train really. Even school children living in Canoe and thereabout used this train to get to school before the day of the school bus. Lots of people lived by the trains, kept time by the trains, and were thrown off schedule if one was late. My mother always put the bread in the oven when she heard No. 6 blow shortly before noon. This bread would be ready for the noon meal. From the little Pensacola Short to the mighty Pan Americans and the Hummingbirds, all ran right through the middle of Atmore. It was quite an era. In 1881 the railroad crossed the swamp and rivers into Mobile. This connected Mobile with the rest of the state by rail. In the early days the trains stopped along the tracks to allow passengers to eat. Rest stops were usually located at or near fuel and water stops. Families were hired all along the lines to keep wood cut and stacked on the railroad at intervals for the hungry steam engines. The engines were small - 30 to 40 tons. The first train went south one day and back the next. These trains carried both passengers and freight. Real progress started in 1880 for the railroad when the Louisville and Nashville took over. Our first railroad was not of the standard gauge. Generally all tracks in the North were of one gauge and those in the South another. In 1886 the standard system was adopted. This was not a narrow gauge railroad up until now but an extra wide gauge. In fact it was exactly the width of the base of the rail, wider than standard. Maybe this is why the complete line was changed over in one day's time. It was just a matter of moving in the width of this base. Sounds fantastic but it wasn't impossible. The railroad had an assistant in Atmore's early growth - the pine trees. Sawmills came into the picture almost as soon as the last rail was laid. The turpentine industry boomed. You now have to search to find a drip cup on a tree. but they didn't have the paper mills back then. There wasn't a cotton patch for forty miles. Mr. Roberts had a sawmill in the vicinity of old Indian Pond, as stated above. In the late 1880s Mr. Carney built one in downtown Atmore. This mill was really a center for his little newborn village. Even church services were held in part of the planer mill. (More on this later) In 1895, Williams Station had a population of 165. W.M. Carney Mill Company was in full operation, but very people lived in town. There were two very large hotels that mainly housed the mill workers. The Magnolia Hotel was located on North Main Street on the lots ;now occupied by Maxwell-Haley, Atmore Office and School Supply, and Bristow's Pharmacy. The Emmons Hotel was on west Nashville about two blocks down from Main Street. Early stores in Atmore were few. Of course there was the commissary for the sawmill. This store for years was just known as Carney's which stood on South Main where Vic's is now located. Roberts' store was really the first one. It was located where Thompson's now stands. Willie Morgan's place of business was on South Main about where Faynard's is located. Tidemore and Ward was on Ashley Street in the 100 block, on one of the few reads leading out of town. W.W. Lowery's was where the Strand Theater now stands. The Advance office now stands where the W.W. Lowery home once stood. Some of the earliest names associated with Atmore were those of Bryar, Carney, Ashley, Stewart, Ward, Emmons, Williams, Adams, Brooks, Lowery, Noblett, Wallace, McGowen, and Davis. As early as 1885, there were enough people in Williams Station to take an interest in politics. A polling place was provided and votes cast in a county election. This was just a few years after Escambia County was founded from parts of Conecuh County and Baldwin County in 1868. Atmore and its vicinity were part of Baldwin County at one time. The social life of Atmore centered around the early churches. Young people had to walk. Courting couples picked wild violets in the fields, congregated on the church steps, or gathered at the depot to see who was coming or going. Water lilies, which had to be collected in alligator infested ponds by daring young men, were valued presents for young ladies. A black family sold drinks and candy at a stand in the 100 block of West Owens Street. The drinks and milk shakes sold for five cents. There was no such thing as a bottled drink, much less ice to cool it. Incidentally, this milk shake was stirred with a spoon - remember, no electricity! But from all accounts, they were delicious, the drink and the times. In 1876 William Marshall Carney moved to Williams Station. He erected a store (Carney's), a sawmill, and grist mill. Possibly he should be called the Father of Atmore, even though there were others ahead of him, but Mr. Carney possessed a little foresight, and being shrewd in his business dealings, this little stop on the railroad started off on the move. In 1895 when the town's name was changed to Atmore, several people wanted it to be called "Carney", for the man who had done so much for the area. However, when W.M. Carney came to Atmore, his brother kept going a little further down the railroad, where he settled and built a sawmill at a place he called Carney. It was on the railroad between Perdido and Bay Minette. Having two towns of the name of Carney within 20 miles of each other would have created unnecessary problems. (More later) When William Carney came to this part of Alabama, which abounded in pine trees and cypress ponds, he merely hitched a mule to a boat and set claim to most of this area. It was said that his land was partially under water and disease-ridden, and not much good for anything other than lumber and turpentine. This implies a possibility of something shady. Just the opposite - this was just the smart shrewd, foresighted business approach. We should thank Mr. Carney for having this attribute. We will continue to refer to him as the Father of Atmore. The development of Atmore churches coincides with the development of the town; they stand today as monuments to the forethought of early Atmore pioneers. J.L. Bran, a Baptist pastor at Pine Barren Church in Florida, walked four and one- half miles with a twenty-one month old baby and five other children to Williams Station to conduct the area's first preaching service. Mrs. R.W. Brooks, the second oldest of these children, has to be credited with the following memories. She was the wife of Rev. R.W. Brooks, the grandmother of Hugo Esneul, Mrs. Stewart Hoomes, and Mrs. Charles Lowery of today's Atmore. We owe so much to her and her long-missing scrapbook, to say the least of her keen sense of humor, much less her loving to tell things as they were. This trait she passed on to Mrs. Essie Esneul, the late mother of the three above mentioned. Anyway, Mrs. Brooks would tell how she, as a girl of eleven, and the older sister swept out the old sawmill which was operated by John Roberts, while her father stood pine blocks upon end and laid rough slabs across them to seat the congregation. This initial church service was held about where Biggs Boarding House now stands. The little ceder log church that was the first built in Williams Station didn't last too long. The community outgrew it, and just a few years afterwards a second church was erected. This building was located in what is now Mr.s H.H. Dees' backyard. It gave way to a larger First Baptist Church just across the street. This old building still stands and today is known as the Pipkin Apartments. Examine its lines when you pass, a picture of a church will soon come to mind. Rather a large building for still so small a town. The new edifice on South Main and Horner Streets was dedicated in 1917, a beautiful building with its curved sanctuary, its balcony, its original landscaped sidewalks, its coal burning furnace, yes, and its piles of coal and our Sunday best clothes that didn't go together at all. This church has a wonderful history and heritage of its own. From such a humble beginning to the present day, truly its congregation and the city of Atmore have been blessed. There was just one Baptist church then - now there are several - all I'm certain with histories of their own. The next church to be built was the Methodist in 1886. Previous to this, members met in union with the Baptist, especially for Sunday School. It is said that the Methodists had a Sunday School long before they had a church. In this same year, 1886, eight Methodist leaders gathered in an old saloon and organized the Atmore Methodist Church of today. This old barroom was located on a plot of ground near the house of the late Mrs. H.I. Ramsey, West Nashville Avenue at Highland. Soon the first building for holding services was completed one block east of this site, putting it just east of the present Frisco Railroad underpass. This land was donated by W.M. Carney. Today, the only thing that remains to identify with any church is the old Williams' Station Cemetery at the west end of Church Street. Mobile doesn't have a thing on us. We, too, have a Church Street dead-ending in a cemetery. One of the earliest names associated with the organization of the Methodist movement in Williams' Station was that of R.I. Mountain, as early as 1871. He was a circuit rider who made occasional trips to Williams' Station to hold services in the homes of Methodists and those interested in their doctrine. R.M. Morris followed in 1975, W.P. Dickerson in 1877, and D.C. Stanley in 1883. These Methodist people weren't forgotten. Early citizens who were very active in the work of the Methodist Church were: W.M. Carney, who gave the land, J.D. Emmons, J.E. McCoy, Dr. J.F. Peavy, C.H. Sloan, and C.A. Peavy. The first church house built by the Methodists was just about where the old Albert's Restaurant stood, but it didn't last long. The railroad was so near, and the noise of the trains interrupted the service so often, that the building was moved to the corner of East Horner and Pensacola Avenues, right where Fayard Apartments now stand. In the early 1930's, the present church building was begun. Through hard times it managed to survive and was finally completed and dedicated in 1940. The evangelist Bob Jones held services in a temporary tabernacle next to the church. This was a joint venture of all churches in Atmore. It drew a great number of people to work and worship. The third church that was established in Atmore was the Episcopal Church. Today it is known as Trinty Episcopal - at its beginning, its name was The Church of the Heavenly Rest. The construction of this church was started in 1899 and it was dedicated on May 20, 1900. This was the third church that W.M. Carney had contributed to, and what contributions! The church, its pews, its communion service, and three lots was the Easter offering made by him in 1900. This is just another reason why he should rightfully be called the Father of Atmore. Some early names associated with the Episcopal Church besides Mr. Carney were those of G.W. Owen, Rev. Howard R. Walker, the first pastor H.J. Savage, Miss Laura Carney, Mrs. H.H Patterson, Mrs. Frank Gordon, and Mrs. J.F. Peavy. No church in Atmore has been more active than the Episcopal, especially in the field of missionary work. In 1901, Mary Wood deeded an acre of land for a church in Pinedale (Pinedale Mission) and today, Saint Anna's in Poarch is a tribute to those people with missionary ideas of their own. One of the missions of the church, located near the Atmore Prison Farm, was known as Saint John's-in-the-Wilderness. This mission, along with Pinedale in Perdido Hills and the present Saint Anna's of Poarch, were mostly instituted for Indian people of those areas. All this work was started by Mrs. Ann E. Macey, an Episcopalian. It is only right to interject here that the Indians are our real native people. Even 200 years ago they were the only ones here, and we need to recognize the Episcopal churches for their early work with the people that were here when things started stirring two centuries ago. Other churches followed - Atmore Presbyterian, The Church of Christ, The Assembly of God, Saint Robert's Catholic, Pine Level Primitive Baptist, Mount Triumph, and Gaines Chapel. Atmore is a city of churches. In 1986 the name of Williams' Station was changed to Atmore. Some of the early fathers, namely W.M. Carney, W.W.Lowery, and William Wagner were instrumental in getting the name changed.They advanced the argument that Williams' Station was not a suitable name for such a thriving community. This was not intended to disregard Uncle Bud Williams' supply stop on the young railroad, but Nokomis was then called Wilson's Station, and being so close and so similar in sound, a name change was felt necessary. I'm sure Uncle Bud's oxen would still have gotten feed had the name been Atmore in 1870s'. Anyway, when the name change came about, the most popular named submitted was that of Carney, but for reasons stated above, was not practical, so Mr.W.M. Carney suggested the name of Atmore. This was for Mr. C.P. Atmore, then general passenger agent for the L&N. Mr. Atmore lived in Louisville, Kentucky, and it is doubtful whether or not he spent much time here. He was, however, a friend of Mr. Carney's, hence the honor accorded him by naming the town for him. Mr. Atmore was born in Devonshire, England on February 28, 1832, and brought to the United States when he was four years old. His family first settled in Ohio, later moving to Kentucky. Mr. Atmore married at age twenty and was the father of six children. Apparently he started to work for the L&N at an early age, and when he was forty, he became general passenger agent for the railroad and held this position until his death of a heart attack in 1900 - a most distinguished career. He was a man of deep religious and emotional feeling, and was the author of at least one book of poems, called Fragments. Several years ago, some of his descendants visited Atmore. They were most impressed with the town name for their ancestor. A snapshot was taken of everything bearing the name Atmore: The Bank of Atmore, The Atmore Advance, The City of Atmore, etc. Mr. Atmore was highly respected, both as a person and a railroader. Perhaps his greatest tribute is on his gravestone in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery. It is inscribed, "He was a man", and signed simply, "His employees." The people of Atmore can be knowingly proud of the town's namesake, whose achievements of another day were lasting and varied. In the 1890s educational opportunities in Atmore were scarce. Equipment and facilities - well, there were hardly any. The first school was a small one-room frame structure. this was a one-teacher school, standing on South Main where the old H.H. Patterson home, the First Baptist Church Recreation Hall, now stands. Miss Rilla Stewart was the teacher, assisted by Mrs. Bell Rankin, Miss Alice Carney was the next teacher. The attendance grew too large for the small building, and Miss Carney persuaded her father to donate and construct a new and larger building. Mr. Carney, followed her advice, built a two-story structure across the railroad from his home on West Nashville Avenue. Miss Carney, after teaching in this building one year, resigned to marry Dr. J.F. Peavy. This did not end her interest in the school, however, since her husband was a member of the first school board and both of them displayed a great deal of interest in the school and its growth. Let's go back a little bit to the first little school house. The big oaks that lined the street up until a few years back were planted on Arbor Day, 1900. Each tree was named for a civic-minded citizen of Atmore. Mrs. Jessie Forte said that she would only play under the tree that was named for her father, W.W. Lowery. Well progress finally took care of the trees, but after the little school was moved this lot served as a playground, as well as a place for the circus to pitch tent when it came to town. In the two-story school house, the upstairs were used as an auditorium, while the bottom floor was divided into three rooms. Miss Jane Grissett followed as principal after the resignation of Miss Carney. Miss Grissett later became the wife of Mr. C.A. Peavy, who served so long as principal of the high school in later years. There was no such thing as a first grade or a third grade or a fifth grade. School was divided into three sections. Age had no bearing. Each section had a prescribed amount of work that had to be completed - books read, papers written, etc. When completed, another section was entered. When all three divisions had been finished to the satisfaction of the instructor, then the student was able to venture into the world with some knowledge - at least all that early Atmore had to offer. Some few even went on to college and I'm sure had enough background to help them get through. The schoolhouse burned in 1903. To the dismay of the students, school was only out for four days, as arrangements were quickly made to use a vacant building in down known as the Gordon Building. These divisions or early classes taught required courses only: Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, Basic English Grammar, History, and Penmanship. Social Studies came with History. No sciences were offered at all; really, just reading, writing and arithmetic. When the school house burned, a group of citizens had just succeeded in laying the foundation for one of the finest high schools in the state. The school was known as the Escambia County High School - at the time it was the only county high school in the state of Alabama. We like to think of it as a "first" for Atmore. The idea itself was the brainchild of County Superintendent of Education, W.S. Neal. High school was designed to bridge the defect in the education process in Alabama which John W. Abercrombie, President of the University of Alabama, had pointed out as a dangerous gap between lower schools and colleges. The first automobile in Atmore was owned by M.M.Brooks in 1900. Thirteen years later the first traffic law was passed. In the 1920s the first traffic light was placed in service. It stood on a pedestal in the middle of the streets - Main and Nashville, The First National Bank Corner. One citizen was given credit for knocking it down twice and this was probably the cause of its being hung overhead shortly thereafter. Old livery stables existed in early Atmore, Lawman Steele ran one where Merit's Cleaners now stands. The Nelson family operated one across the street where the old Jitney Jungle was, on Church Street. Later came holley and Hall, where Ace Hardware now stands. Jake Merriwether had one on the corner of N. Trammel and Ridgley. Cook and King were located where the grain elevator of Atmore Milling and Elevator Company now stands. When the automobile arrived, many of the livery stable owners became horse and mule dealers. This was a thriving business too, because so much of the land around Atmore was just being cleared of timber and going into agriculture. Something had to pull the plow. Cotton became King! Three days and nights waiting at the gin was not uncommon. A livery stable was a motel for horses and mules, horses and buggies were also offered for rent by these business places. The main customers of these livery stables were drummers, as they were called - our present-day salesmen. These fellows would arrive in town by train, register at the hotel and rise the next day to peddle their wares - after they had rented a horse and buggy. This way of life was all they knew in the first ten years of the 20th century and for several decades thereafter. The term "drummer" is seldom used today. Also, you seldom hear of a book agent or a scissors sharpener. All of these were a part of the early life of Atmore. One nice place for drummers to stay was the Cook Hotel. It stood where the Bank of Atmore now stands, and many a drummer could tell you that it was the best hotel between Mobile and Montgomery. Along about the same time, wagons of gypsies would come to town to camp. They were constantly on the move and had many things to sell. Word would quickly get around that they were in town and all doors were locked, as their reputation wasn't the best. Quite a few tales were spread about the gypsies, but they were tales that always happened a long way from Atmore. In 1898 there was one telephone in Atmore, located in Carney's Store, and it was a direct line to Mobile. In 1908 the first telephone company was established in Atmore. This company was owned by W.S. Brindle, who served as its head for thirty years. This company gave way to the present day Southland Telephone Company - a privately owned company with as modern service as can be found in the telephone industry. In the early days, maybe there were one hundred subscribers. The central office was where Snyder's Furniture Company is now. Everyone had a number, but it really wasn't essential to know that number. As soon as you cranked the handle and the operator said, "number please", you gave her a name and she would connect you. She could also tell you where the fire was located when the fire whistle blew. Any excitement in town - ask the operator. Everyone knew everyone else and the telephone operators were in the middle of it all - at the central station. The railroad had its own telephones. It has only been in recent years that the lines were taken down. The one telephone in Carney's store could connect us to the outside world and those passenger trains could get to Mobile and back, but a trip in an automobile was nearly impossible. Not until the late 1920s was there a bridge built across Mobile Bay. Ferry boats ran from Fairhope. The first post office was located in John Roberts' store, situated where Thompson's now stands on East Nashville. Mr. Roberts received a meager salary of $1.00 per month for the service he rendered to the people of Williams Station. This post office and store came along between 1959 and 1870. Mr. Roberts tried to get a raise, but the postal department argued that having the post office in his store enhanced his business, therefore it was not granted. In 1876 Mr. Carney had arrived and soon established the only store of consequence in the area; the post office was moved to the back of his store. Nicolas Ashley was the clerk at Carney's who handled the mail. Rightfully, he can be called Atmore's first postmaster. As people came for their weekly supplies, they called for their mail also. Mr. William Wagner came to Atmore from Illinois in 1895. He was the only Republican in this small southern town. President William McKinley appointed him postmaster in 1897 - the same year that Williams' Station became Atmore. During the time that Wagner was postmaster, the office was moved from a store into a separate building located where Vic's now stands. It was later moved about 150 yards west and under two big oak trees and housed also the Western Union office about where Mixon-Johnson Tobacco Company now stands. Postmaster William Wanger resigned in 1913 after serving 16 years. His assistant, J. Frank Beatty, was appointed to succeed him. The next move was to a brick structure which is now occupied by the Sweet Shop. It remained here for ten years, during which time it outgrew its location and was moved to the Old Bank of Atmore Building, which is now Randall's (1976). In 1930 the post office was established in a building on the corner of North Main and Louisville Avenue - directly across the street from Rex Sporting Goods. The present post office was dedicated on April 15, 1936. The Atmore Post Office was rated third class during Mr. Wagner's administration; became second class under A.J. Bowab, and has held a first class rating since early 1940. Coinciding with the new building, Atmore was approved for city delivery starting on April 18, 1936. Rural Free Delivery (RFD) was already in existence. Atmore could boost three rural routes and one star route when the post office became first class. The first electricity in Atmore was furnished by the W.M. Carney Light Company. For several years prior to 1914 the plant was operated by a 75 Kilowatt generator, the current was furnished at night only. In 1914 a 250 kilowatt General Electric generator was installed and 24 hour service was offered. The light plant was located on East Church Street, behind Merit Cleaners. In December of 1915, 144 houses were wired for electricity, and only fifteen houses had no services. The light plant operated from 1912 to 1915 with only twenty minutes interruption - the 1915 hurricane. This is a tribute to the people who erected this system. From all accounts, the 1915 hurricane had no name, but it was a lulu. Some 1915 figures: In Atmore, there were fifty street lights, and eight electric irons in use. There were forty "buzz fans" and eighteen ceiling fans. The houses wired for electricity probably had one light hanging from the ceiling of each room. The Carney Light Company served the town from 1915 to 1926. Then the line was constructed from Flomaton to Atmore - hence a connection with the Gulf Electric Company direct from Jordan Dam on the Coosa River at Wetumpka. All of this later became our present day Alabama Power Company. The early electric service developed as the town grew. Even if it started as a single light bulb in each room, it was a great improvement over the kerosene lamps or the candle or a light wood knot torch. Cleaning lamp chimneys was a chore! One family had their lamps named for the Carney girls - Alice, Hattie and Laura. This was in envy, because they thought the Carney girls never had to do anything like clean a dirty, sooty lamp chimney or trim a wick. Oh, well, that green paster on the other side of the fence existed back before electricity, too. Atmore can boast of having sanitary conveniences for just about as long as there was a town. The water system at first was connected with Carney Mill Company. The town had a complete water system as early as 1911. In 1913, a completely modern systems was installed by the J.B. McCreary Company of Atlanta, Georgia, which consisted of pumps capable of pumping 160,000 gallons of water per day, a 6,000 gallon, 100 foot high water tank and three and one-half miles of water mains. There were seventeen fire hydrants and the town had excellent fire protection. The water tank stood where Staff Chevrolet now displays new cars. For years it served as a welcome sign for those coming into Atmore on U.S. Highway 31 from the east. It was dismantled several years ago and now serves as a grain storage ben at John Conn's cow paster in Canoe. The Atmore sign is still visible. Atmore's sewage system was put in at the same time as the water. It consisted of five miles of eight-inch lines. Some of these lines in places are as deep as fourteen feet, to allow flow due to the flat nature of the land. Those five miles of sewer lines are still in use today. Even our most recent sewage projects aren't any more modern that the first sewers that were put down. Some excellent engineering took place back in 1913 - if not, they still wouldn't be working. In 1915, when the water and sewage systems were put into operation, some of the workmen were surprised to find existing water lines in one part of town. W.W. Lowery's house was located where the Atmore Advance now stands. He had built a water tank in conjunction with several neighboring families - hence the pipes that were dug up when the new system was under construction. This part of town had running water before the city was incorporated. Atmore was incorporated in 1907, ten years after Williams' Station ceased to be. J.E. McCoy as Atmore's first mayor and served from 1907 to 1910. W.E. Rushing, better known as Judge Rushing, was Atmore's second mayor. He held office from 1910 to 1915. He was elected again in 1922 and served until 1924, then for a third time from 1926 to 1932. W.J. Grubbs was mayor from 1918 to 1921. Paul C. Smith served a short term - 1915 to 1916. Dr. A.P. Webb was mayor from 1916-1917. D.T.Peavy served from 1921 to 1922. G..C. Cook had two terms - 1924-1926 and 1944-1948. W.R. Holley, Doc Holley to many, was mayor from 1932 to 1940. The late Mayor H.H. Dees held the mayor's position for 16 years - 1948-1964. The present Mayor Oris E. Davis (1976) was elected to serve from 1964 to 1968. Tom Bryne was mayor from 1968-1972. Mayor Davis is in office now for his second term. In the lobby of the present City Hall is a most excellent display of photographs of all of Atmore mayors. This collection serves as a tribute to these men who started Atmore on the right road and kept it going that way. C.P. Atmore faces them and looks on. Atmore has boasted of a newspaper since 1903. In the fall of that year, John Gatlin moved to Atmore from Century, Florida, and started the ATMORE NEWS. This was a weekly, with local news gathered and sent to Atlanta to be printed by the Western Newspaper Union. Mr. Gatlin later sold the paper to Dr. D.C. Burson, who changed the name to THE ATMORE SPECTRUM, Dr. Burson and his sister, Miss Blanche, who later became Mrs. Stanford, were in charge of the paper until 1912. The paper again was sold to a Mr. Neel, who came to Atmore from Nebraska. R.W. Brooks edited the paper for Mr. Neel, and the name was changed to the ATMORE RECORD. The next few years until 1923 were stormy. R.B.Vail of Bay Minette took over the paper and again another name change - THE ESCAMBIA RECORD. In the late 1920s the RECORD became the ATMORE ADVANCE. Tup Lucas was owner and editor, selling in 1929 to Charles W. Smith, who remained as editor and publisher until 1941. The more recent names connected with the ATMORE ADVANCE are H.H. Golson, J.H. Faulkner, and Bill Forman on up to our present Joyce and Bob Morrissette. Some of the early copies of THE NEWS, THE SPECTRUM and THE RECORD are priceless. Headlines were nearly always bizarre - murders, rapes, robberies in bold print but always in a far distant part of the country, like New York or California. The local news was women's activities that should have been on the women's page, but made the front one. Obituaries were always on the front page and more than likely, very lengthy. The medical facilities of Atmore were very inadequate when the town was first incorporated. Previous to 1915, it was necessary for complicated cases to be taken to Mobile or Pensacola. A complicated case meant one that required major surgery, as there was not a surgeon. In 1915 Dr. N.E. Sellers established Atmore's first hospital. Previous to this time he had been doing a few major operations in the homes of patients. His operations were performed in a sheet tent that was erected on a wooden frame near a window to provide light, as most homes were poorly lighted. The town had several doctors, Dr. A.P. Webb, Dr. Frank Peavy, Sr., Dr. J.P. McMurphy, Dr. Nettles, all excellent practitioners, but Dr. Sellers was Atmore's first surgeon. The only graduate nurse in Atmore was Miss Loutitia Baggett, who later became Mrs. Burdeshaw. She often accompanied Dr. Sellers on his extremely difficult cases. Miss Loutitia lived with the family in a rather large house on Ashley Street. It was decided to equip the entire second floor as a hospital to take care of Dr. Sellers' practice. Hence the first hospital started. It was known as the Baggett Infirmary. The Baggett Infirmary continued to function until the late 1920s. A drive to raise funds to build a hospital began in August 1928. Stocks were offered for sale - the smallest share being $25.00 to permit most every citizen to be a bondholder. In less than three months $14,500 was collected. In July of 1929 the Greenlawn Hospital opened with a gala day - a barbecue and entertainment. The State Medical association also was invited to hold its annual meeting in Atmore. Atmore's first dentist was a circuit riding tooth doctor. His name was Dr. Locke and it seems that his visits were on a regular basis. He took care of the dental problems and each household had a bottle of oil of cloves to take care of the toothcare until he arrived. As the town grew, the number of professional people increased and Atmore has always had its share of good doctors and dentists. Dr. D..C. Burson was the town's first resident dentist: Dr. D.C. Bradford, Dr. Z.C. Mims and Dr. J.B. Hudson all followed later. In keeping with Atmore's medical facility growth, in recent years Atmore boasted a maternity hospital. The late W.E. Vaught and his wife started his hospital in the old Nelson House on North Main. This venture later added a small, modern hospital, with the late Dr. A.J. Treherne as co-owner. No talk of the history of Atmore would be complete without mention of some of the early Negro families. At first, there were no black people in this area. There was no farming, and logging was the only industry. As the town developed and the sawmill prospered, more and more black families moved into Atmore. Just as many of the white people came from Monroe County, so we have the black families that migrated from Monroe and Wilcox counties. One of the first black families that moved in were the Montgomeries. Other early names were those of Johnson, Hollies, Golden, Prier, Border, Cavanaugh, Dennis, Stallworth, Mosley, Sime, McGlasken, Nettles, McGhee, Elmore, Gray, and Jones. The late Mark Marshall could point with pride to every brick he had lain in the buildings on Main Street, some of them the first ever erected here. Bob Stallworth was the town's ice man. His horse-drawn ice wagon made the rounds twice a week, and his saw made the best ice snow if he was in a mood to put up with your being in the way. There was a little sign you hung on your house to let him know just how many pounds of ice you needed. A black family owned and operated Atmore's first "ice cream" parlor. It was located on West Owens Street, just across from Biggs Boarding house - a parking lot now. It did not really serve ice cream, but five cents would buy some chilled milk that was flavored. In the early Atmore, the black people lived in parts of town that were given special names. There was the Red Quarters, the Trammel Quarters, the Old Mill Quarters, and later on, Ray's and Swift's Quarters. Atmore had a Chinese laundryman at one time. No one can recall his name, but everyone remembers how he looked. This laundry was located upstairs over the old Hoehn Trading Center that burned, on the corner of East Nashville and Pensacola Avenue. It was in operation around 1900. Atmore's first Jewish family was named Meyers. Some of the early school pictures show some of the Meyers children. All in all, however, just about 75 percent of the people in this area have been of Scotch-Irish (Scottish) descent. An interesting venture for Atmore along the agriculture line in early years was that of the satsuma orange. From 1910 to 1920, much progress was made in its development, and by 1924 the cultivation of the satsuma crop was at its height. It was not uncommon to see fifty-acre orchards of satsumas. Atmore Fruit Farm at the lower end of 8th Avenue was a good example. There also the Margold Farm and Canfield's Farm. M.Benenson had a fruit farm east of Atmore, and H.H. Patterson owned a big satsuma farm. Even with a splendid background, the cultivation of the satsuma soon diminished and by 1929 had disappeared from the scene. Cotton and corn and potatoes - Atmore's early agriculture ended up with these. In 1941 there were 16,000 bales of cotton produced in Escambia County. There 1500 carloads of Irish potatoes shipped from Atmore. Everyone had a patch of strawberries, and seventy carloads of these went north, along with forty cars of cucumbers and thirty-eight cars of radishes.Loading and grading sheds set beside the railroads all over town. In the 1890s Atmore was terrorized by one man - the notorious Railroad Bill. His daring robberies of freight cars, his ruthless use of guns, and his humanitarianism added a touch of adventure and daring to the history of Atmore. After being a hunted man for several years, he was gunned down in Atmore in Tidemore and Wade's Store on Ashley Street. The saying that "no matter how bad someone is, somewhere there is something good about them" was true even of Railroad Bill. Since he was a wanted man, he had no way of making an honest living. Stealing was his game and he could not use all the supplies he obtained in this way. It is a known fact that he fed some poor people in return for hiding him. He was known to have carried supplies to widows and orphans who were in need. July, 1917 - Stirring times in and around Atmore. World War I had been going on since 1914 and the United States entered the conflict in April of 1917. A division of soldiers was organized in Savannah, Georgia, at the onset of the war. This division set out on foot to march to Montgomery, and they marched through Atmore. This group of soldiers and recruits marched and camped and waved flags and chilled spines all along the way. The country was at war. It has often been said that an army travels on its stomach. They were well fed in Atmore. They hit town at the peak of vegetable season, and every family in town had milk cows, chickens, and smoke houses full of meat. Every family donated good food to help these soldiers on their way. Their camp was pitched from Third to Eight Avenues on East Nashville, which was an open field at that time. Several Atmore boys were in this division, among them Charlie Little, Truman Harper, Sam Bryne, and Donnie Lowery. Robert Gordon, then just a small boy, says that he stood for hours by the old Carney Store, just to see his brother Harvey, but the crowd was so large and all the soldiers looked alike and he missed seeing him. This group of men became part of the famous "Rainbow Division" that played so vital a part in the battles of the Argonne Forest, Belleau Woods, Chateau Thierry, Second Somme, St. Michiel and others that helped to bring an end to the conflict. Downtown Atmore in the late 1920s was a beehive of activity on a Saturday. That was the day for everyone to go to town. The streets were so crowded that a parking place was hard to find. Some would come to town early in the morning and stay all day. Whole families would bring lunches and eat and walk and do what little shopping that had to be done. Girls would dress up in their evening dresses and Sunday clothes and parade the streets. Yes, it was an interesting pastime to park on Main Street on a Saturday afternoon to see the sights. Most of the stores remained opened until 10 p.m. and grocery stores remained open until midnight. Farm workers and mill hands waited until late Saturday to do their weekly shopping. Barber shops were busy. Along about this time, there were about forty barbers in town. Now we do good to have a dozen. Well, it all ends up in that hours have gotten shorter and hair has gotten longer and Saturday is quite different from what it used to be. Industrial Growth: The industrial growth of Atmore has been phenomenal beginning in 1881 with the erection of the Carney Mill Company, which operated until 1930. The Swift Lumber Company began its operation in 1922 and helped to sustain the economy in the depression years. This Swift Company today engages about 150 employees. When the supply of virgin timber was exhausted, the cut-over lands were put to agricultural use, and Atmore became the hub of the county's agricultural industry. The Atmore Milling and Elevator Company was founded by H.W. Currie, Sr., and has been a thriving business since 1916. Although cotton production i the area has become relatively small, wheat and soybeans have become major crops and are bought and sold by the company. This has been a progressive industry and is now operated by the sons of the founder. In 1950, the Escambia Mills (Vanity Faire Mills, Inc.) which produces lingerie, was established and now employs from 750 to 900 persons. The annual production is 3,000,000 garments. The Atmore Tank Company began its operations in 1964 and manufactures petroleum and agricultural storage tanks. In 1968 the C.H. Masland and Sons Carpet Company opened and employs from 350 to 400 persons. In 1968 the Samco Products Company also began its operation, producing 70,000,000 square yards of synthetics annually. The Exxon Company, USA, established a natural gas and sulphur processing plant in 1973. The plant produced in 1977 nearly 41 billion cubic feet of gas and almost three million barrels of condensate. The Woodfold Chemical Works began its manufacture of herbicides in 1975. In addition to these industries, the town has its share of stores, restaurants, businesses and health facilities, which employ a large number or workers. Atmore today has the largest population of any town in Escambia County, with the 1980 census recording 8,789 persons. It is one of the fastest growing areas in the state and its citizens take pride in the appearance of their city. In 1978 Atmore won first place in the Community Improvement Division (small cities category) of the Governor's Environmental Quality Awards Program.
Canoe, Alabama, Escambia County The town of Canoe is located on Canoe Creek, from which its name is derived, and situated on the L&N Railroad, five miles north of Atmore. It had its beginning in 1852 when Andrew Jackson Hall (1820-1885) and his family moved from Oak Grove, Florida, just across the state line, bought land and settled here. In 1860, A.H. Hall filed a claim for the northern half of Section 25, Township 1N, Range 6E, on which was located a large mineral spring. Tradition relates that both Confederate and Union soldiers at times camped here. It was from this site, Canoe Station, Alabama, that Lt. Col. Andrew B. Spurling of the Union Army wrote his letter on March 27, 1865, to Capt. John F. Lacey, Assistant Adjutant General, reporting his raid through Andalusia, Evergreen, Sparta, Brooklyn, and Brewton, then arrived in Pollard to find that the town and Confederate camp had been destroyed by Gen. Federick Steel's column. There is also a legend that Lucinda Hall, wife of A.J. Hall, upon learning that "the Yankees are coming," took all of their livestock except one bantam rooster to an island in canoe Creek and hid them for safekeeping. A Union soldier feasted on the lone bantam. The Monroe and Great Northern Railroad was completed from the Tensaw River to Pollard in 1861, and houses for the railroad workers were built in Canoe, thus adding to its importance and making it larger than Whiting (Flomaton). At this time Atmore was just a railroad stop to deliver supplies to Mr. Williams. The County court created voting precinct number two at Canoe in 1869, and in 1876 the polling place was located in the home of Mrs. Martin. A few miles north of Canoe on the railroad was a town of Evansville; the mill burned and the residents moved to other places. Among those moving was Kesiah Lowery, (widow of A.M Lowery Sr.), who moved to Canoe. Mrs. Lowery was a typical pioneer; she found employment by furnishing wood to the railroad to be used for fuel in the steam engines. Her son, Andrew Monroe Jr. (they are talking about Andrew Martin, there was no Andrew Monroe), became a prominent businessman and built a sawmill which brought more residents to Canoe. The Canoe Baptist Church was built in 1884 with A.M. Lowery Jr. (Andrew Martin, also became a Baptist Minister) donating a goodly part of the material. He was a leader in the church for many years and served as church clerk and Sunday School Superintendent. The Methodist Church was organized about 1900, the Church of Christ in 1914, and the Assembly of God in 1942. The Caanan Freewill Baptist Church was organized in the early days of settlement. Education was of prime concern to Canoe residents and a log school was built in the early life of the community. Records show that in 1894 there were three schools with an enrollment of 80 pupils. Hattie Terry and Sally Smith, both of Brewton, were instructors in two of the schools. The Third school was taught by Miss McKittric of Evergreen, who later married D.L. Leatherwood. In 1896 there were two schools, one of them a high school taught by W. B. Boggan. There was much enthusiasm aroused in the community by a well-advertised spelling match between the "Yankees" of Miss McKittric's school and the "Grays" from Mr. Boggin's school. The match was won by the "Grays". The mineral spring previously mentioned became a tourist attraction under the management of Frank Gordon. The water was bottled in five-gallon containers and shipped to distant places; many travelers passed through fill their own containers. With its inviting summerhouse it was the scene of many community picnics and gatherings, though today the house and spring have fallen into disuse and are now overgrown with bushes. The spring is located just east of Canoe Creek bridge and to the south of Highway 31. The McKinnon brothers purchased the Lowery Mill in 1894 and about this time, several families from Monroe and Wilcox counties moved into the area. The cutover timber lands were well suited to agriculture, and at one time Canoe was a fruit growing center. Through the years, canoe has had mills, naval stores operations, stores, cotton gin, bank, barber shop, library, doctors' office, drug store, hardware store, theater, and boarding house in addition to its post office, depot, residences, churches and schools. Today , the post office and railroad station are closed and Canoe has only one store and filling station, four churches, and a thriving private school, the Canoe Academy.
Evansville or Miles' Crossing, Escambia County, Alabama On the Mobile and Great Northern Railroad, two miles east of Wawbeek was a crossing called "Miles' Crossing", named for an early settler. In 1868 (? was it 1838, the mill burned down in 1871) Holden Evans came from Butler County, Alabama and built a sawmill here. Soon there was a town of 200 residents, a post office, telegraph office and a fine spring. Dr. James A. Wilkerson was bookkeeper for the mill and R.W. Brooks was clerk in a store. The name of the town was changed to Evansville. In 1886 the South Carolina earthquake rattled windows in the town and the next day the spring was dry. The mill had burned and was not rebuilt, so the residents gradually moved away, and today only the Bowman Cemetery remains to locate the area where Evansville stood. At one time, Evansville was a more thriving town than Atmore was at that period.
Wawbeek, Escambia County, Alabama Wawbeek, located on the L&N Railroad between Flomaton and Canoe, was an agricultural community with a depot, post office, and stores. The first telegraph office in Escambia County was located here; Millard Brooks she later became probate judge, was the first operator.
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