AS WRITTEN BY
Gen. B. F. Weathers
Contributed by: Penny Dodd, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa, here it is. All spellings (right or wrong)and punctuation is as Gen. B.F. Weathers originally wrote. There are two places (pp 47 & 48) where the ink had totally deteriorated and I could not make out what should be there so inserted a ? then continued with what was legible.
The basis of this series of articles, is personal knowledge, history and tradition, orally delivered by the first settlers of the county of Randolph and the town of Roanoke.
Randolph county was established by an act approved December 18, 1832 and was carved out of the last Creek cession. The county was named to honor John Randolph of Virginia.
John Randolph was born in Pettersburg, Virginia, in 1773 and entered Congress in 1799. He was a member of one House or the other of that body, with the exception of two or three short interruptions, till his death at Philadelphia on May 23, 1833. He was a minister to Russia in 1830 for a few months. He possessed much talent and culture and was one of the most peculiar men of any age.
Randolph county has an area of six hundred square miles. The county is well watered, with many fine springs. In the early days the creeks and rivers were clear and full of fish. The forests had plenty of game.
The population is thus placed on the records: 1860, whites, 18,132; blacks, 1927. The assessed value of real estate was $765,969; of personal property, $116,163; total, $882,332. The cash value of farm lands, 62,032 acres improved, and 189,044 acres unimproved, $620,331.
In 1860, just before the war, the value of live stock, including 1313 horses, 835 mules, 9,860 cattle, 7485 sheep, 14,819 hogs, was $370,910.
In 1860, the farm production was 48,537 bushels of wheat, 264,448 bushels of corn, 20,707 bushels of oats, 38,902 bushels of potatoes, 125,066 pounds of butter, 12,992 gallons molasses, 7,670 pounds of tobacco, 2,246 bales of cotton, 13,252 pounds of wool. The value of animals slaughtered was $119,803, and farm products were valued at $718,695.
The surface of Randolph county is broken and hilly, intersected by fertile valleys, which lie well for small farmers. The metamorphic rock, everywhere visible, reveals in Natures language the fact that this country lies within the primary system of created matter.
Wedowee, the seat of justice since 1836, is a village, the name of which means "Rolling Water" in the Muscogee tongue. It was changed to McDonald in 1839, but resumed its present name three years later.
Louina was a village named for Louina, a wealthy Indian, the wife of Nicahargo. She had two negro slaves, 25 horses, 100 cattle and much silver money. It is said that when she left she had her money in sacks, put them on a pony and the sacks were so heavy that the pony gave down under them.
The first courts were held at Blakes ferry, then called Tripletts or Youngs, then ten miles west of Wedowee. Wehadkee (white water) is the site of the Rock Mills cotton factory.
State Senators of Randolph county: 1834, William Arnold; 1838, William B. McClellan; 1839, George Reese; 1843, James E. Rouse; 1845, Jefferson Falkner; 1847, Seaborn Gray; 1857, John T. Heflin; 1853, Henry M. Gay; 1857, R. S. Heflin; 1859,
R. S. Heflin; 1863, R. T. Wood; 1865, M. R. Bell..
Names of Representatives: 1837, Thomas Blake, 1838, Wm. McKnight; 1839,
F. R. Adrine; 1840, F. F. Adrine; 1841, Wyatt Heflin; 1842, Jeremiah Murphy; 1843, Wyatt Heflin; 1844, Jas. H. Allen; 1845, Wyatt Heflin; 1847, Wm. Wood and C. J. Ussery; 1849, R. S. Heflin and C. D. Hudson; 1851, Rob Pool and John Reeves; 1853, W. P. Howell and John Goodin; 1855, W. H. Smith and R. J. Wood; 1857, W. H. Smith, A. W. Denman and Isaac S. Weaver; 1859, F. M. McMurray, F. M. Ferrell and J. Hightower; 1861, C. J. Ussery, A. W. Denman, James Aiken.
North Alabama is a fine section of the state. Four counties lie on the north side of the Tennessee River --Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison and Jackson, the latter named to honor President Jackson. The Tennessee River valley is level, has fine farms east of Decatur and west to Tuscumbia. North Alabama has produced many very able men. Its first settlers were from Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. Madison county was the second county formed in the state. No other county in the state has produced more men of talent. Huntsville has one of the finest springs in Alabama.
About thirty miles of the Memphis and Charleston railroad runs thru the count. Huntsville was the first town in the state to be incorporated. This was in 1811. The first newspaper published within the limits of the state was The Madison Gazette in Huntsville. It was first printed in 1812. The first bank also was established there in 1819.
The first legislature of the state was held in Huntsville, which was then the seat of justice. It was founded in 1806 by John Hunt, who came from Tennessee. The town was first named Twickenham. It now has a hotel of the same name. On Dec. 23, 1859, the name was changed to Huntsville by an act dated November 25, 1811. The convention that framed the constitution for the would-be-state, met in Huntsville in July, 1819.
One of the most distinguished men of Huntsville was Leroy Pope Walker. He was a native of Madison county, a son of R. W. walker. He was born in 1817, and was thoroughly educated. He read law under Judge Hopkins, was admitted to the bar and at once removed to Canton, Miss. He practiced there with but little promise for a short time, then returned and located in Belleforte, Jackson county. A year later he removed to Moulton and became the partner of Hon. D. G. Legon in 1843, and in 1844 he represented Lawrence county in the House, but the year after removed to Lauderdale. That county elected him to the House in 1847 and he was made speaker. In 1848 he was a Cass elector for his district and for the state at large for Pierce and Buchanan. In 1849 he was reelected to he House, but the year after was elected Judge of the circuit court. This position he held nine months and resigned it is 1853. He again represented Lauderdale, but in 1855 made his residence at Huntsville, where he afterwards lived and became the partner of Messrs. R. C. Brickell and Septimus D. Cabaniss.
In 1860 Leroy Pope Walker was delegate to the historic Charleston Convention, and when the state seceded he was sent as a commissioner to Tennessee, where his speech before the legislature urging co-operation was able and eloquent. He had just returned when in February President Davis summoned him to a place in the cabinet of the "Storm - cradled nation that fell."
To the duties of this high position Mr. Walker brought inexperience, but this was to a great extent, if not fully, compensated by zeal and energy. The task of organizing and equipping armies almost without materials and with resources limited to the patriotic ardor of the people was a Herculean one. His labors were incessant and when he resigned in the autumn of 1861, his health was shattered. The exact motive for his retirement from the cabinet is not known but the belief is general that the self-confidence of Mr. Davis first exhibited itself in the was office and that General Walker had too much respect for the responsibility and dignity of his position to permit it to be subordinated to a mere clerkship.
General Walker was censured for his speech in Montgomery when announcing the fall of Fort Sumpter, his utterances being regarded as official, but Mr. Stephens, in his "War Between the States," practically exonerates Gen. Walker. He was commissioned as Brigadier General on his retirement and ordered to report to General Bragg. He was placed in command at Mobile, but held it only a short time. In the Spring of 1862 he resigned his commission because he was not assigned to duty. The following year he was appointed judge of a military court and served till the close of the was. After that time he practiced his profession very successfully in Huntsville.
In 1874, George Houston, of Athens, Limestone county, was elected governor. The legislature passed a bill ordering a state constitutional convention in 1875. In the Spring of that year delegates in each county were elected. A little later they met in Montgomery and organized by electing Leroy Pope Walker as president of the convention. We were in session 28 days. There were ten republicans, three of them were Negroes. I am the only living member of that convention.
Gen. Walker was about five feet and ten inches high, with less than medium flesh and of fair complexion. His appearance and manners indicated culture and refinement. As an orator he earned his greatest fame. Gen. Walker first married a lady in Mississippi. His second wife was the daughter of Hon. W. D. Pickett, of Montgomery.
Back to Randolph and Roanoke. the first settlers came from Georgia in 1832. Among them were Wiley McClendon, J. M. Baker, James Hathorne and Hugh Hathorne. Wiley McClendon located where the Simms residence now stands in Roanoke. Just across the West Point road on the east from the Simms home J. M. Baker and McClendon had a store house - a log house. The door was on the side fronting the West Point Road. They sold dry goods. On the side of the road where the high school building stands, a little log house stood. In that groceries were sold. The articles kept were a barrel of Dexter whisky, a sack of coffee, a barrel of brown sugar, a box of tobacco, bar lead, gun flints, a keg of powder and some other articles. In that store also was the post office. Postage on letters was five cents and wafers to seal them. Goose quills were used to make pens.
Wiley McClendon was a Primitive Baptist minister. He like to fish and chew tobacco. He had four or five slaves. His wife was a Longshore. Lelan Allen, a Missionary Baptist minister, was his brother-in-law. Tim Pittman was also a brother-in-law. His wife was a Longshore.
Tim Pittman was Probate Judge of the county from 1860 to 1865. He was a strong advocate of the Confederate cause. Brade Hand was the County Treasurer. Things got so warm in Wedowee that they both left the state and moved to Cedartown, Georgia, and lived and died there.
In 1834, Jim Furlow came from Georgia and built a house at the cross roads-- the road from Rock Mills to Louina and the Wedowee and West Point road. It became the nucleus for the town of Roanoke. Wiley McClendon built where John Radneys office is and sold dry goods; Baker and Hutchens built where the post office is; Dr. W. E. White and brother where A.M. Awbreys store is; Norred and Davis where W.H. McMurray is; Wes Thomaston where the old post office was. He sold family groceries. The McDonald hotel was built where Yates Motor Company is; the Masonic Lodge where Guy Handleys hardware store stands. In 1832 James Hathorne lived where the Widow Pool recently died. Hugh Hathorne lived and died here and was buried near his house. It was one of the best houses in Roanoke and stood for many years. Both Hathornes had a big bunch of Negroes.
The first church built in Roanoke was the Methodist. It stood in what is now the cemetery of Roanoke. The house was a frame building and was given by Wiley White a Methodist minister. Later a new building was built where the high school building stands.
Roanokes first Baptist church stood on the north side of High Pine Creek where the bridge crosses the creek on the Wedowee road. I remember how it was built. Two logs were laid on the ground and at each end a post stood about ten feet high.
On top was a split log weatherboarded with boards riven out of pine. It had a dirt floor and logs for seats. When Benager Goss came to Roanoke from Heard county, Ga., a Missionary Baptist preacher, he moved the church to Roanoke and built where it now stands and for years he was the preacher. The First Baptist church of Roanoke never changed from it first location.
Isham Thornton came from Troup county, Georgia and built on a lot adjoining that of the Baptists. His house was the first house painted in Roanoke. He made buggies. He built a little corn mill and wool factory on the creek where the Louina road crosses. Griff Wilson ran the wood factory. Mr. Thornton moved to Lineville and died there. He was a very useful man and a good citizen.
W. B. Nichols bought the place. He was the father of Park Nichols and was a clerk in Dr. White and brothers dry goods store. In 1859 they built a new store house. The same year Baker and Mickle built where the post office is. Dave Manley was their clerk.
The Baker family came from Newton county, Georgia, in 1832. Dr. Davis and the Nichols came from Macon, Georgia, in 1852. Davis wife died soon after. His second wife was a Gillespie, a sister of Mrs. Baker and of Crawford Gillespie, a noted Methodist preacher of Galveston, Texas, in 1866.
Mr. Baker and her father moved to Texas. She had two boys. They came to be noted and honorable men of Texas - Jean and Oscar. Their father was killed in Roanoke, in august, 1862 by Israel Moore, a very stout man.
The men of the town had the habit of after supper meeting and talking till bedtime.
Bakers house was on the Ed Nickle lot. Mrs. Baker was not at home at the time Baker was killed, but her sister was. She tried to keep Baker at home, knowing that Moore was in town and mad. It was a bright moonlight night. Moore was in front of the White store abusing Baker. When he saw Baker coming up he, with his knife open, made at him. Baker was not armed, but picked up some rocks and threw one at Moore, which struck him on his face, cutting a gash but did not stun him. Moore made a lunge and struck Baker over the collarbone, cutting the main artery. He was soon dead.
Dr. White heard the racket and found Baker dead and Moore lying on his back. Dr. Davis came up, examined Moore and found a bullet hole in the back of his head. "No use to place a guard over him; he will soon be dead." He was picked up and laid on the porch of Bill Davis grocery. Moore lived all night, but never spoke.
The trouble between the two men grew out of the sale of some negroes. Baker had loaned Moore several hundred dollars and took a lien on some negroes. In a settlement Baker bought the negroes. Moore was not satisfied with the price paid. It ended in the death of both men.
Dr. Davis was appointed administrator of the Baker estate.
When the was came up John A. Moore went to Richmond and was appointed quartermaster. He had to make a bond of twenty thousand dollars. Baker and Mickle went on his bond. In the Spring of 1862 Moore came by Roanoke and deposited with Baker and Mickle Twenty thousand dollars. They bought cotton with the money and had it on hand when the war closed. After the death of Baker, M. J. Mickle and Dave Manley formed a partnership and sold dry goods. Their store house stood where the post office is. Mickle lived in a house where now John Fausetts residence stands/ Dave Manley lived where Frank Harper is. In 1852 Sam Jones and Fletcher Haynes, a sadler, had a store on Rock Mills street where Doctor Yates now lives. They sold family groceries. Bill Wood, a blacksmith had four acres of land. In 1874 W. D. Mickle and B. F. Weathers bought the place from Wood.
Jim Anderson lived where Belchers barn is. He made buggies. He built a work shop where the Simms store is. It had three stories, and was of octagon shape. It had 32 windows. The dugout basement was a blacksmith shop, the second floor a work shop, the third floor was where he sand-papered and painted his buggies. Anderson sold his place to a man named Stewart and moved to Montgomery, Ala. Stewart sold the place to J.M.K. Guinn, who sold the shop to Weathers in 1859.
I boarded at Bill Mickles and went to school to John A. Moore. He had about 40 students. I know of only one other person now living that went to that school -- that is Mrs. Sue Pate, of Wedowee. A great many of the boys went to the war.
In 1860 John A. Moore taught school at Pine Knot, near W. D. Mickles. Moore and his family lived in one of Mickles houses. Moores wife was Widow Smith. She was the mother of Hoyt Smith, who became well known. My wife and Hoyt went to school together in 1860 to Moore at Pine Knot.
It is said that Hoyt walked from Roanoke to Oxford, Ala., where he went to school. From Oxford he went to New York City and studied law. He was sent to London, England, to adjust some business matters and later became the Kings advisor.
Hoyts mother was a Defrees - a very intelligent woman. Hoyt had his name changed from Smith to Defrees. The family home was in Randolph County, near Lineville, (then in Randolph).
John A. Moores father was John A. Moore, of Georgia, a horse racer and gamble. He lived about six months with his wife and was arrested. His wife married a man named Skinner. They had a son, Jim Skinner, a half brother of John A. Moore. He also came to Roanoke. He was in my company and was killed in the battle at Shiloh April 6, 1862.
In the fall of this year John A. Moore went to San Francisco, California. He had two daughters who were teachers in high school in San Francisco.
In Roanoke Jim Emorys residence stood where the Presbyterian church is. Tomlin Wal? ran a blacksmith shop. Riley Fields was a blacksmith. Agga Rose, a tailor by trade, had a little shop where the W. A. Handley brick store later stood. Agga would get drunk. Bill Davis set a trap in front of Aggas door and baited it with a flask of whisky. When Agga came out of his shop he stood for some time and then pulled his jacket off and said "I can whip the man that set this trap." Some one told him the man was gone.
About 1845 Jack Handley moved to Louina. He was the father of W. A. Handley. They came from Heard County, Georgia. W. A. Handley was born Dec. 15, 1834, in Heard County. His mother before marriage was a Miss ? omby. From 1845 and for several years he rode the mail from Louina to Roanoke, a bare foot boy. A man named Donald ran a stage from West Point to Wedowee. He brought the mail on that line and travel also. W. A. Handley got what education he had in the Louina school. He was a clerk in Barbers store in 1860. He went to Wesobulga and opened business for himself and got to be a good businessman. In December, 1861, as a Captain he was mustered into the Confederate Army in Mobile. He was wounded at Murfreesboro, Tenn., and resigned. His brother, F. M. Handley, then became Captain of the company.
In 1870, W. A. Handley was nominated for Congress, without solicitation on his part, and was elected by a large majority. In 1868, he came to Roanoke and made it his home until his death.
The first school house stood back of Turbevilles residence. The teachers who taught in that building were McComb, Ed Conley, John A. Moore, John T. Smith and Harper Cole.
John T. Smith made up a company and left Roanoke the fourth day of July, 1861. He was killed in the battle at Sharpsburg.
Peter Mitchell bought the old school house and fitted it up for a dwelling. In 1873-4, a new school house was built. It cost six thousand dollars. Five thousand had been subscribed. A building committee of five was elected: W. A. Handley, Dr. White, Sam Fausett, M. J. Mickle and B. F. Weathers. W. A. Handley was made chairman of the committee. Mr. Handley donated the lot. A rock post was placed at each corner. The committee advertised for bids. R. M. Green, the lowest bidder, got the contract and agreed to furnish all of the material and complete the house, for which he was to get five thousand dollars. The committee agreed to advance to him money to enable him to pay for material and labor. W. V. Taylor and a Mr. Stephens were furnishing the lumber. Green fell down on his contract before the building was completed - money all gone. So. W. A. Handley, Dr. White and B. F. Weathers made a note to the West Point Bank for fifteen hundred dollars and made a contract with Hath Davis to complete the building. Certificates of stock were issued and the building was kept insured for the benefit of the stockholders.
John P. Shaffer was placed in charge of the school. Mr. Shaffer was a good organizer. He soon built up a fine school - had many borders, several from LaGrange, West Point and other places. Professor Erdman of LaGrange was the teacher of music.
Mr. Shaffer was in charge of the Roanoke school for several years. He was a most excellent school teacher, a fluent speaker, with much humor, big hearted and sympathetic. After several years work he asked to be relieved and resigned.
George Stevens of Rock Mills took charge of the school. the night before the second term was to begin, the school house burned. The stockholders met and passed a resolution to five their insurance to the rebuilding. They had three thousand dollars that went into the new building. It was brick with slate roof. Coon McPherson had the contract. A Number of teachers in the meantime had been in charge of the school: Stevens, Doctor Blake, Pinkard, Garrison, J.D. and Ben Moore and L. Jones.
In 1887, the railroad from Opelika to Roanoke was completed. In 1838-9, Bedford Ponder built the Roanoke warehouse. In 1890 he organized the first bank in Roanoke. In 1894 he sold his stock to Wimberly, who later sold out to Fred Vaughan.
In 1879, the first brick house in Roanoke was built by W.A. Handley. Fred Wagner was contractor. Hill, Hardy & Co. built a brick store adjoining the Handley house. In 1866-7-8 Weathers and Pate sold dry goods.
In 1874 Weathers was appointed postmaster. Capt. Thompson, of Stroud, rode the mail from West Point, Ga., to Wedowee. Bill Culpepper rode the mail from Louina to Franklin, Ga. In 1876 Weathers and Mickles store was robbed and $500 worth of goods taken.
About 1890 Morgan Schuessler same to Roanoke and engaged in the supply business. A. J. Driver bought cotton for him. In 1892 Morgan Schuessler died. Major and Bob Schuessler then came. They located where Dr. Yates store is. Bill Ussery came from High Shoals. He ran a hotel on the second floor of the Handley House for several years. A man named Clemmons ran it for a while before Ussery.
The Roanoke cotton mill was built about 1900 by a stock company. Harvey Enloe became superintendent. He came from West Point, Ga., and has been with the mill up to the present.
Henry Knight came from Dadeville. Pinkard and Griffin came from Opelika as dealers in hardware. Wade and John Carlisle came from Chambers county and did a supply business. The Awbreys came from Heard county, Georgia. W. H. Brittain came from Troup county, Georgia. Doctor Trent and Frank Harper came from Rock Mills. Harper is the biggest peanut dealer in the county.
W.W. Campbell and J.C. Wright came from Tuskegee to Roanoke. They were bankers and owned the oil mill, acid plane, ice factory and Roanoke cotton warehouse. Their business in Roanoke was extensive.
Then Stevenson family came to Roanoke over 40 years ago. John B. Stevenson was a noted Methodist minister. He had four sons - Leon, Olin, Worth and Henry. The latter is a Methodist preacher, W.W. a doctor. Olin and Leon are very prominent newspapermen, well known in the state of Alabama. The family came from North Alabama, the father from Tennessee.
Up to 1860 Roanoke was the fighting place of the bullies on Saturdays. Rus Duke was the captain of the Jackson Allen company. Ike Broughton was captain of the High Pine company. The two companies would meet in Roanoke on Saturday, drink, fiddle and dance until about 3 p.m. By that time they had got good and mellow and wanted to show their skill in fighting. Some one would make a ring, roll up his sleeves and bawl out that he was the best man on the hill. No quicker than said, some one would accept his challenge.
They would knock and beat each other sometimes bloody. When one said he had enough, that ended the fight. They would go in the grocery, wash their faces, take a drink and shake hands in good friendship.
In front of the Masonic building was an oak tree and horse block. Boy-like, I would stand on the horse block so I could see the men fight. They were not mad; they wanted to show their strength. They did not want to kill each other.
The man that had a weapon on his person was considered to be a coward. Fighting was cruel fun. The men in those days were much stronger than they are in this age. Up to the war, 1861, men did not go armed, but now it is a common thing. Some attend church with a pistol in their hip pocket. This is a disgrace for any one. It is a constitutional right for us to have fire arms for our protection, but we should use them in the right way.
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