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Biography: Walter Melville Drennen born 1851 – photograph

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Biography and Genealogy

( 1859- 1926)

Cullman and Jefferson County, Alabama

Walter Melville Drennen born 1851

The Drennen family is descended from Scotch stock, that emigrated to Ireland, and from Ireland to America, settling in South Carolina. Members of the family were in the Revolutionary War; one was a major at the surrender of Yorktown; others fought with Moultrie and still, others were bushwhackers. The families lived in the country and were landowners.

Earlier history from the Drennen family includes the following: “Labrum Gravly married Mary Blythe, the daughter of William and Sarah Murphy Blythe. Labrum and Mary married about the year 1804 and about 1808 they moved to Rhea County, Tennessee having two daughters, Sarah and Margaret. William was born February 9, 1810, and John was born May 31, 1812.”

In April 1814 Labrum Gravely died leaving Mary alone with four children to raise and care for. Mary married once more in 1817 to Thomas Drennen and they had two children, Walter Blythe Drennen and Mary Drennen who died as an infant. The Drennen families of Cullman County are the descendants of Walter Blythe Drennen.

In 1819, Mary sold out her possessions and started the move to Alabama and stopped in the Wills Valley in the Cherokee Nation to make a crop. April 18, 1820, is the date that Mary and her children landed on the Mulberry River, about a mile from Hamby’s old mill. Thomas Drennen had stayed behind in Tennessee to collect some old debts and never arrived in Alabama. There was a letter received from Thomas, but he was never heard from again. Once more Mary was alone to raise children by herself and she never remarried. Mary Drennen died on June 28, 1841, after losing a bout with typhoid fever.  Mary had been a member of the Primitive Baptist Church for about eighteen years. ”

Walter Melville Drennen, was a businessman who was born at Arkadelphia, Blount County, Alabama. His father, Rev. Walter Blythe Drennen, a native of Tennessee, came to Alabama in infancy with his parents. He became a clergyman of the Methodist church and married Matilda H. Cornwall, a native of Alabama. Matilda was born Sep. 1819 and died July 16, 1892. She is buried in Arkadelphia Cemetery, Cullman County, Alabama. Rev. Walter Blythe Drennen died in 1871 and is buried at Harmony Baptist Church Cemetery. Rev. Drennen was a planter as well as a leading Republican, active in both State and national politics. He and his wife Matilda had eleven children;

Known children include:

  1. Dr. Charles Drennen of Birmingham.
  2. Darlyn Drennen McDonald was a manager of Drennen & Company Department store in Birmingham
  3. Mrs. T. Z. Hagood
  4. Mrs. A. B. Jones
  5. Mrs. J. M. Ballinger
  6. Mayor Walter M. Drennen

Walter Melville Drennen attended the common schools at Arkadelphia, in Blount County, Alabama. He settled in Birmingham in early life and entered the business world. He was elected mayor of Birmingham for three terms and was a member of the firm of Drennen & Company; director of the Birmingham Mutual Fire Insurance Company; president of the Martin Cracker Company; manager of the Palos Coal & Coke Company; and president of the League of Alabama Municipalities. He was vice-president of the National Good Roads Association; and was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He married Eloise Augusta Johnston.



  1. History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography By Thomas
  2. Arkadelphia Cemetery Arkadelphia, Cullman County, Alabama
  3. Gravlee Family of Walker County Researched, written  and submitted by Gene Gravlee-2004
  4. Orange County, Florida – 1917-18 Civilian Draft Registration (A – K)
  5. OLD PENDLETON DISTRICT GEDCOM DATABASE PROJECT Old Pendleton District Chapter of S.C. Genealogical Society
  6. Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, Volume 2 edited by Joel Campbell DuBose
  7. Find A # 14983368

This biography can be found in Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume VI 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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