Days Gone By - stories from the past

Clayton, Barbour County, Alabama was settled as early as 1818 [photographs]


(from History of Barbour County, Alabama.

Eufaula, Alabama, 1939 by Mattie Thomas Thompson)

Clayton became the county seat of Barbour County, Alabama in 1838 after the commissioners decided to relocate there because of the central location. It is claimed that there were settlers on the ridge between Louisville and Clayton as early as 1818.clayton map

The first setters on this ridge were Luke Bennett and James Arthur. Immigrants passed through the area as early as 1818, but it was not settled until around 1827 because of the nearness of the Indian population.

Old records records and diaries from Elliott, Johnathon and Jno D. Thomas show there was practically no settlement until 1823. Captain S. Porter was an Indian trader and when his daughter married Chilli McIntosh, son of the famous Indian Chief, settlement started to take place in Clayton.

Clayton is in the central part of the county on the historic road from Hobdy’s Bridge over the Pea River to Eufaula on the Chattahooche river. It was named for Judge Augustine Clayton of Georgia. Since it was the county seat, the town “has been the high point of the many happenings that made the County’s history both sensational and great.”

Clayton Courthouse Square

clayton courthouse square

Below – Old Clayton town bell in the gardens of Mrs. J. S. Williams in Clayton, Alabama ca. 1930 Alabama State Archives

Century-old town bell of Clayton. Once it rang to notify the townsfolk of important happenings. Moved from the townsquare, it now [circa1930s] hangs from a rustic arch among the wisteria vines in Judge J.S. Williams’s garden.”

Clayton town bell

Home of Judge and Mrs. J. S. Williams where historic bell was kept ca. 1930Home of Judge and Mrs. J. S. Williams where the historic bell is kept

Judge Sion L. Perry ordered that the Court session of March 1834 be held in Clayton and Judge Anderson Crenshaw presided over this term in a square log structure. Since Clayton is the County seat, the County jail is also located there.

The land on which the city of Clayton was laid out reveals that John DeLochiou and Elliott Thomas deeded the land to five Commissioners. Among the first settlers were: William Beasley, John Beasley, Henry Black, Wilson Collins, William Cox, Jacinth Jackson, Daniel Lewis, Britt Atkinson, and Randall Jackson. Most of these families crossed the Chattahooche at Eufaula on a ferry operated by the Indians.

It is said that Atkinson became provoked at the ferry charges and quarreled with the Indians, striking a chief on the head with an iron stirrup, which ended the dispute. That night the women of the party were anxious, fearing the Indians might attempt to harm them, but no trouble resulted.

Daniel Lewis settled a mile west of Clayton and later donated the land upon which the first courthouse was built. The Beasleys settled a mile east of what was later known as Pratt station while Jacinth Jackson settled west of what was later known as the Wash McRae place. Wilson Collins settled on the old Franklin road four miles east of Louisville.

The road from Clayton to Louisville was laid out by Jim Beasley, the grandfather of Hart Collins and Montfred Collins. Tradition states that Jacinth Jackson built his house on a hill that at one time was considered as the location for the County seat.

Not far from Clayton is Smuteye, Bullock County, Alabama, where the old Smut Eye Grocery store  

Smuteye, Alabama grocery

Matthew Fenn, a descendant of Mark Williams, built his home on the highway between Eufaula and Clayton. He owned a large tract of land near Hobdy’s Bridge as well.

Early settlers in the Pea River community were: Jessie Burch, Blake Jerngan, Alexander McCall, John McDaniel, John McInnis, Miles McInnis, Gilbert McEachern, John McNeill, and Joel Willis. They worshipped under bush arbors before they built the Pea River Presbyterian Church in 1823. It is said that this Church was the mother Presbyterian Church in Barbour County.

Pea River Presbyterian Church by MV PoarchPea River Presbyterian Church by MV Poarch

The towns of Clio, Elamville, Blue Springs and Texasville were not developed until the railroad, Eufaula to Ozark, was completed. Texasville was named in honor of Judge A. H. Alston. Clio was first named Atkinson’s head. In the early 1870’s the cotton business reigned in the area.

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  1. Charlie Martin, a little history of your hometown!

  2. Hey thank you Reeves-I am a history buff and I tell people all of the time that Clayton is liked Mayberry on Andy Griffith!

    1. We have hand hewn beams from a one room schoolhouse originally built on McSwain Creek Road. I’m interested in the history of it. Can you help me?

  3. That’s the way we think of Abbeville too, Mayberry! I thought you would appreciate the article on Clayton, Charlie!

  4. I was partlyraised around Clio, Elamville..Best place in the world to grow up..Pure awesome country.

  5. Jennifer Nicole Mccall Gatlin read this! There’s a McCall listed in there.

    1. I think all are McCalls mostly came from Arkansas I think but the moved so much who knows

    2. I see they had a need to get around some lol

    3. It said Alexander McCall and I think when I was doing he was someone listed that could be a relative and he was a Confederate soldier.

  6. Anne Hook Lewis Nancy Hook Auel Donna Porter Maggie Smith Our Edge forefather, Eli (Crick) Edge (b. 1825) was listed on the 1850 census as a resident of Barbour County, AL. I didn’t see any Edge’s listed in the article but interesting nonetheless.

    1. Yes it is interesting

    2. Wow. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know we had a “Crick” in our heritage. That’s what we call my eldest son, Christopher.

  7. Trivia history: Demopolis, AL. was founded in 1817 in Marengo County by the French soldiers from Napolean’s Army who came by boat to Mobile, and then up the Tombigbee River. They saw the white river bluffs and stopped. I live on Desnouettes Ave. which is named after Colonel Desnouettes(pronounced – Day-New-Ette)… The French started in Demopolis the “Vine & Olive” Colony.

  8. I was born in Clayton. I have a cookbook given by Mrs. H. S Buster, 135 Dallas Avenue, to my mother upon my birth because my mother did not know how to cook.

  9. Born in Clio, 1947

  10. Born in Clio, 1947.

  11. I just visited Clayton and Eufaula and loved them both! They are truly the old South. Beautiful homes, friendly and helpful people and such clean towns. If you are ever there be sure to visit Miss Eva’s. The very best down home cooking!

  12. Wanda Robinson, be sure Suzanne sees this.

    1. Susan Cunningham I sure will Susan

  13. Greetings,
    I am trying to locate family members of F. T. Thomas born 6/9/1922. I was only 3 years old when he passed and have no memory of my father. I am seeking a photo of him to experience a memorable moment.

    Take care,

    Dr. Armon Thomas Copeland
    [email protected]

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