Ararat in Choctaw County

Contributed 17 Apr 2008 by Ann Gay

An old Choctaw Indian village called Nanih Chaha was near the Tombigbee River at the location of today’s community of Ararat in Choctaw County, Alabama. In the Choctaw language Nanih or Nana means hill. The early settlers probably named their community for the Biblical Mt. Ararat because Choctaw County’s Mt. Ararat is on high ground. The Biblical Mt. Ararat was the mountain where Noah’s ark perched until the flood waters receded. The name in Choctaw County was shortened to Ararat around 1880. Ararat is located in Township 12 Range 1 West, in the east central part of the county. The Old Choctaw Indian Boundary line from the 1805 Treaty runs from Mississippi through Ararat just South of Slater’s Church, on to the river. Before Choctaw County was established in December 1847, this area was in Washington County. The McCartys, Sr. and Jr. and James G. Slater appear in the 1840 census for Washington County. John B. and James B. Slater had land in 1811 in the area, and Joseph McCarty, Jr. had land in 1834. In 1849 Harrison R. Callis had land here also, and Callis Mountain is named for him or family member Louis Napoleon Callis. The area’s Post Office moved around and had several different names. In 1839 and 1841 Joseph McCarty was Postmaster at Mt. Ararat. In 1859 the name was Emery Creek (which was NE of Ararat and SE of Slater’s Chapel.) H. R. Callis was Post Master in 1859 at Emery Creek, which leads one to believe he operated a store. From 1878 until discontinued in 1880 Slater’s Landing was the name of the Post Office. Harrison R. Callis was Post Master in 1879. In 1886 Charles Mason was Post Master at the shortened name of Ararat. This post office operated until 1933 when mail was routed through Toxey. The Slaters were prominent early settlers in that Northern part of Washington County which later became Choctaw. Slater’s Landing was South of McCarty’s Landing on the river and Slater community and church still appear on maps today. In 1838 James G. Slater, a native of South Carolina, was in the Alabama Legislature representing Washington County. James G., John and Lewis Slater were on the 1849 list of Choctaw County personal property taxpayers. James G. Slater was one of five men appointed by the Legislature to locate the county seat for the newly established county of Choctaw in December of 1847, and he served as Sheriff of the county in 1848, 1856 and 1859. He was a county commissioner in 1855 and Delegate to the Democratic Convention along with David Wright in 1869. His name is on the membership list of Ararat Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1874. Slater’s wife Sarah Turner Slater was the sister of wealthy and prominent landowner Beloved Love Turner. Other members of this church in 1874 were Drewry, William and Albert Watson, John Land, Samuel Moor, Abe Gilmer, Elvira and Addie Slater, Rebecca Watson, Analizar (Ann Eliza?) Horn, Mary Rainer, Mary Moor, Tina and Florence Crumbly, Rebecca Meadow, Martha and Fannie Land. Harrison R. Callis had land in the area in 1849 and appears in the 1860 Federal and the 1866 State censuses. The 1860 census shows Harris R. Callis, age 60, born in Georgia, and Elizabeth H. age 26 born in Virginia. She was possibly a second wife because the next listing is for a three year old male Harrison R., born in Florida, then William A/R? male, age 10/12, Marasetta?, female, age12 and Hester, female, age 10, the last three all born in Alabama. Corinth Baptist Church was organized at Ararat in 1872 with J. E. Scott, Minister and J. R. Callis and A. Bush representing the church at the Liberty Baptist Association annual meeting. Other churches on recent maps are Peaceway Assembly of God Church (1958) located on Ararat Road North of Ararat, Slater Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (1880), and Spring Hill Baptist Church (1875), South of Ararat all on County Road 23. Sources: Alokoli, the Choctaw County Bicentennial Book: “Old Choctaw” by Peter Brannon Church Histories of Choctaw County, Alabama Choctaw Names and Notes by Gay: “The Sykes Family and Slater’s Landing” by “Chuck” Sykes Placenames in Choctaw County by Gay State Tract Book listing landowners, County Courthouse 1849 Taxpayers of Choctaw County The Choctaw Herald May 29, 1869 Alabama Postal History, pamphlet by Scruggs Confederate Echoes v11 #6 1965: Methodist Church records compiled by Hazel R. Collins Ivison Liberty Baptist Association Minutes of annual meetings U.S. Postal Histories compiled by U.S.Post Office, copy at Gilbertown Museum and US Official Postal Guides

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