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Articles from 1976 Journal-Register Newspaper
The Journal-Record - Bicentennial Edition
Thursday, July 1, 1976
Section B, Page 6
WINFIELD'S HISTORY FROM FIRST BEGINNINGS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS
There are several different versions as to how the Depot (located since the
beginning on the same spot) was located here. Mrs. R. E. MOORE, Sr. said
that Dr. J. M. WHITLEY offered land for the depot near his residence, and
members of the Elisha VICKERY family stated that the also offered land for
the depot but it seems that the railroad officials considered both spots
too hilly, and in the end the land offered by Henry F. MUSGROVE (according
to Newt WHITEHEAD and Mrs. Clara ASTON) was decided the best. The depot was
built on the MUSGROVE property in 1887.
WINFIELD WAS NEEDMORE
Many citizens agree that Winfield was first called Needmore, but in the
year that the citizens established the first postoffice and the name
Needmore was presented to the United States Post Office Department, thee
was already a Needmore, Alabama so the officials submitted three names to
William A. MUSGROVE for the final decision, Mrs. R. E. MOORE, Sr. stated,
and Mr. MUSGROVE decided upon Winfield, Alabama because he admired General
Winfield SCOTT so much. Willard DODSON stated that his mother remembered
Mrs. Maggie HARRIS REESE, sister-in-law of Mr. MUSGROVE, helping Mr.
MUSGROVE and his wife to decide of the name of Winfield.
SUMP(sic) [SLUMP] IN 1891 WINFIELD
E. G. TRULL, a citizen of Winfield since November 1891 and son of
Winfield's first mayor, said that it seemed in 1891 and 92 that Winfield
had a "set-back" as there were some three of the business houses
unoccupied. As Mr. TRULL remembered Winfield in that year, the following
places were doing business: WEBSTER and JONESES, Base McCOLLUM, Lige
WADSWORTH, J. L. McGAHA, HARKINS and SHELTON (managed by J. A. NORTHCUTT)
and later bought by R. W. HARRIS; one jeweler shop, DICKENSON and GAMBLE;
one doctor's office, with two doctors, Dr. EARNEST and Dr. WHEELER; two
hotels MUSGROVE and MARTIN; two gins, WEBSTER and JONES, and Farmer's
Alliance; Farmers Alliance Cotton Yard, Camp House and Stock yards; one Tan
Yard, Wilson WHITE (his son Abe made and repaired shoes); and two churches,
the Baptist and Methodist, neither of which had seats. At this date there
were thirty-seven families living in Winfield, Mr. TRULL stated and mapped
out the dwellings as to location. He explained that one of the most
colorful of the people in Winfield at that time was "Whistling Arthur
Flunky" who worked at the MUSGROVE Hotel.
CEMETERY STARTED 1889
E. G. TRULL also said that the Winfield Cemetery was started in either 1889
or 1890, when two or three of the children of John SMITH died of typhoid
fever (John SMITH was distinguished from other John SMITHS as he was known
as "Sage Grass." When other persons needed burial, Mr. TRULL said that his
father W. Jasper TRULL, W. R. H. LODEN and Bill WEBSTER got together and
bought space from the SMITHS for the cemetery. In the City Hall Records
for 1935, under the Mayorship of James McDONALD, an addition to the
Cemetery was obtained from Mrs. Gwenn McDONALD, an addition to The notes
stated that Geneva, George, W. O., Felix N. and Ella McDONALD, along with
Mr. MAY, granted permission to extend the cemetery boundaries and divide
into forty-one burial lots to be sold by the "undersigned" but no list was
given following undersigned. In recent years, the Winfield Garden Club has
carried out an extensive beautifcation (sic) project, with the help of
other organizations, and in 1954, the Garden Club placed a memorial marker
at the Grave of Frank Smith, whom they said donated part of the land for
the beginning of the cemetery.
Besides the homes owned by the MUSGROVES, VICKERYS, RAINES, and some other
first families, some of the early "Dwellings", according to Newt WHITEHEAD,
that sprang up shortly after the railroad included J. B. WHITEHEAD home
built between the present street; Bill WEBSTER, who built near the Columbus
COUCH home, a log cabin up near the original PERRY place) Dr. Jim Franklin
EARNEST, who first built a log shack near where Dr. Rufus SHIREY lived and
later built the home that later housed the BROWN Service Funeral Home and
was torn down for a new Post Office site across from the last traffic light
on Highway 78 heading toward Guin; the home of Jasper TRULL (still
standing) near the present residence of E. G. TRULL; two homes, plank
houses built on the street where Mrs. Newt WHITEHEAD lived. These two homes
were built by John EARNEST and Newt WHITEHEAD. The EARNEST home burned and
the property was sold to Emmitt MAYS but the WHITEHEAD house remains today.
In 1892, Mr. E. G. TRULL listed the families of Winfield as follows: J. L.
McGAHA, J. P. McGAHA, Jim GAMBLE, Lizzie WESTBROOKS, John William WHITE,
Miss DOBINS, John SMITH, John WHITE, the MUSGROVES, the MARTINS (of the two
hotes(sic) [hotels]), W. J. TRULL, Dr. J. F. EARNEST, Charley GAMBLE, Dr.
James MOODY, "Aut" WHITLEY, J. B. WHITEHEAD, Joe DICKINSON, Base McCOLLUM,
Lige WADSWORTH, Bill WEBSTER, Dr. CANTERBURY, W R H LODEN, Calvin WETHERLY,
R. F. CARNES, Jack WHITE, Sony MARTIN, P M R SPANN, Will SHELTON, J. A.
NORCHUTT (sic) [NORTHCUTT], Billy ASTON, Walter ASTON, White LOGAN, T. W.
MOSS, Wood WARD, Dr. ciscero WHEELER, Lawson WHITE and the JONES.
Another family who catered to travelers in those early 1880s was the Lige
(Elisha) VICKERY household, which Ruby HARRIS states was more or less known
as "The Wayside Inn". Miss HARRIS said that her mother known as "Aunt Jo"
(Now Mrs. M. W. HARRIS) did the cooking for railroad workers of no relation
to her husband. Ruby HARRIS says that she is not sure that the family tree
of Mr. VICKERY can ever be quite fully mapped out because in those days
when illnesses usually brought death, it was a common thing for the
survivors to be remarried several times as was the case of Mr. Elisha.
In talking with citizens already pased (sic) away at this time, Mr.s R. E.
MOORE, Sr. knew of this list as being among the very earliest settlers of
the Winfield area: the JONES, McGAHAS, MUSGROVES, WHITELYS, ASTONS, MOSSES,
VICKERYS, CURLS, TRULLS, WHEELERS, SMITHS, and WHITEHEADS. Others have
added the WARDS, the GREENS, the ADKINS, the HANEYS, the KIRKLANDS and
Way back before the railroad was built, that the scattered residents of
this section had to travel sixty miles to Columbus, Mississippi to buy the
staple groceries such as flour, sugar, coffee etc. Old timers say that it
took about a week to travel to Columbus and back. Eggs were five cents per
dozen then, and hens were ten cents apiece. The Zion Baptist Church was
established in 1835 according to A. W. GREENE, who remembers it because her
father gave the Bible for the church then, even though he didn't become a
member until later. She remembered the McGAHAS and Dr. WHITLEY's family who
lived in this area, and also a Dr. WOODS.
Many elderly citizens told of how the early families would pack lunches and
go down to where the railroad was being built over areas requiring
trestles. Mrs. A. W. GREENE remembered that they stayed all day and watched
the workers drive the big logs into the ground over the Luxapallila Creek.
It seems generally established that the first train, a freight, came
through Winfield, in April of 1887, but Mrs. Lou ASTON TRULL stated that a
work tain came to Winfield in 1886. She remembered it and other travellers
who stopped over there. From Aunt Jo's beginning of cooking (mostly salt
pork and peas in those days) she has become famous to acquaintances who
describe her as a person "who can fix a good meal out of almost nothing."
Aunt Jo was one of the ten sets of children and step children of Mr. Elisha
VICKERY, as was Mr. NEWT and J. B. WHITEHEAD, former postmasters and mayors
of early Winfield. In fact Mr. NEWT's wife, (who was a RAINES) was also a
stepchild, but was near the time of her grandfather's (E. L. ADKINS) death
and it was recorded in the Bible of the ASTON family.
Mr. WHITEHEAD remembered the first store as being that of Jonathan JONES.
He said that there was a saloon (quite legal in those days) near where the
R. W. HARRIS Warehouse is located today. He remembered other stores abut
that time being Bill WEBSTER's near where HILL Drug Store now is located;
the store of Caly and Base McCOLLUM. HARKINS, SHELTON store where R. W.
HARRIS and Son is now located; Elisha VICKERY's store whee the Citizens
Bank formerly stood; and a general merchandise store of Bob COUCH where the
ODUM Dime store is at the present time.
J. L. McGAHA had about the second or third store in Winfield, and became
the first postmaster of Winfield. The post office was locate din his store.
Mr. M. R. McGAHA stated that J. L. McGAHA was his great-grandfather. He had
told the amusing story of how "Mr. Mac," as he was known to many, not only
kept the postoffice and store, but also bought opossums and fattended (sic)
them (for resale to customers) in the back of his store. One night, a group
of mischievous youngsters lost for him all his profit by breaking in the
store and letting out the 'possums.'
A fellow by the name of HAMM was sent by the Railroad Company to map out
the town in 1892, according to M. L. LUCAS.
Before Winfield came into being, Jonathan R. JONES had corn fields on the
area where the city of Winfield is located today, and the MUSGROVES owned a
great part of the town.
Mr WHITEHEAD, who helped build the railroad tracks in 1886, when only a boy
of eighteen, and Mrs. WHITEHEAD whose parents were Henry and Martha MOSS
RAINES said that the first building in the downtown area was a little
two-room log cabin, owned in the early 1800's by Lige MOSS. They told the
story about how Uncle Lige's wife wanted to move to Fayette County to be
near her people and that the land including the little log cabin was sold
to the MUSGROVES.
Mrs. Clara ASTON, whose parents were Nath and Aunt Harriett MUSGROVE said
that she never heard her grandparents [John Tilden and Susannah MUSGROVE]
speak of the transaction but that she knew her grandfather gave Aunt
Harriett the two lots between Sherman's store and the Depot that reached to
the little branch. It was on these lots that Aunt Harriett ran the first
boarding house for the workers of the Railroad, then known as the Kansas
City, Memphis and Birmingham Railroad and now the Frisco Railroad.
Mrs. ASTON also said that Henry F. MUSGROVE gave every other lot to the
town of Winfield, and kept the others for himself and his family. It was on
one of these donated lots that the Winfield Depot was built in the year of
1887, and where the South-side Freewill Baptist and First Baptist
Churches(sic) of Winfield, stand today.
This first boarding hose grew into a career of Hotel ownership and
management for Aunt Harriett and Uncle Nath. They established the first
Hotel in Winfield, and operated a Hotel for forty-three years and according
to Paul WHITEHEAD's article on "When Winfield Was Mud Street," Aunt
Harriett's dining room with its circular "Lazy Susan" table became famous
over several states as Railroad and other traveling men passed on the
compliments to fellow-travelers. They also had the first screen door in
Mrs. Clara MUSGROVE ASTON, daughter o Mr. and Mrs. Nath MUSGROVE, was
thirteen years of age when the MUSGROVEs moved to Winfield in 1885, and to
her it was quite different with all the hustle and bustle of building the
railroad. She told Oscar RODEN, that she remembers writing to a friend
saying "You, honestly, can't tell Sunday from any other day here," because
there were so many people around and so many exciting things happening.
First Mayor of Winfield was W. Jasper TRULL. First Postmasters were Marting
C. BOWLING and then J. L. McGAHA; first mail carriers were White McDONALD
and T. C. McCLESKY; first bank in Winfield was The Winfield State Bank,
1907, and Mr. J. G. STALCUP was first Cashier of bank; first hotel and
first screen doors were both to the credit of Aunt Harriet and Uncle Nath
MUSGROVE; the fist brick building was the same building that houses
ALEXANDER Drug Company today, then owned by CARROLL Brothers of Tupelo;
first funeral home was KILGROW (sic), located where Alabama Power was
formerly located. Then later Joe KILGORE opened the LUQUIRE Funeral Home
and later bought it under the Name, KILGORE Funeral Home which is now MILES
Funeral Home, first shoe factory was operated by Col. WEATHERLY out near
the OWENS residence on the way to the Sub-Station; first industry (see
story); first grist mill was owned by Tucker MOSS, who also had a sawmill;
Bill HANEY and sons has the fist sawmill; a Mr. ALLEN had the first Gin
powered by mules; WHITEHEAD has first the Water Mill and Gin; first car
(see story); first painted home, Dr. J. M. WHITLEY, who lived next to
Winfield Church of Christ; first cafe, George WHITE (Dees Cafe was first
Big cafe); first inside bath was owned by Raymond W. HARRIS, Sr.; White
McDONALD had the first electrical system (Delco); first carbide lighting
systems bought by R. W. HARRIS and M. L. LUCAS; M. L. LUCAS installed the
first Butane Gas heating system; the first gasoline pumps were installed
the Butane Heating system [as written]; the first gasoline pumps were
installed at both HILL and Oden SHIREY Drug Stores; R. E. MOORE, Sr. had
the first Automobile agency; first skating rink was owned and operated by
N. V. MAYS and brothers; first poolhall by R. G. DEES; first Dentist (see
story); first drugstore, Harry McCLENAHAN (later ODEN-SHIREY); first
newspaper was edited by Lige WADSWORTH in 1893.