14 comments

  1. Thomas Cole who was one of the first commissioners was my great grandpa. Wellborn was first named Burnt Bull. The leaders of Elba wanted the county seat in their town so they burned the courthouse at Welborn so it would be moved. My father worked on the levy after the 1929 flood of the Pea River and Whitewater creek in Elba. My childhood was spent in Elba and I remember when it was a bustling place on Saturday afternoons with all the wagons blocking the streets. Today it is more or less a ghost town because the floods may come again and businesses prefer Enterprise. They could have saved Elba by building the courthouse on Brunson hill which is east of the river by a few hundreds yards, but our folks are stubborn and don’t change easily. My families have been in the area since the 1820s and somehow that red clay soil never quite leaves my soul though I’ve lived in California for over fifty years.

    1. The site of the old Welborn courthouse is now in the Damascus community though there is no sign of it left

      1. The Wellborn cemetery is on land formerly owned by my grandfather, Rowe Bowers. There’s a historical marker on the edge of the front yard about this cemetery.

    2. Did Thomas Cole have a daughter named Ferbia Melissa Cole? She was my grand mother. She married John Wesley Johnson.

    3. Willie Walker, I’m April Cole (maiden name). I grew up in Dothan, and through my ancestry research, I believe my family of Coles come from Daniel Cole of Bullock/Macon County. I’ve read in some places he was connected to Thomas Cole of Coffee County. Are you on ancestry.com? Do you know of any connection?

  2. +My great grandparents were inside the Elba courthouse when the flood of 1929 occurred – Pope Gordon and Mary Amanda Borom Mathis. They got out of the top floor by boat, the family recalls. They moved to Andalusia to live out the rest of their lives with their daughter and son-in-law, Foye Mathis Brunson and Charlie Brunson.

  3. Very interesting article.
    It’s a shame about Elba, it has a nice, old-timey downtown square that would be perfect for fixing up, but with the new bypass coming through, what little traffic that comes now will be gone.
    It’s also crazy about the former seat of Wellborn, as today you can’t even tell it ever existed.

  4. My grandfather, J.O. English, was Probate Judge of Coffee County for 24 years & retired in his 80s. I grew up in those 2 Courthouses. Also, during the 1929 flood, my uncle, Harold English, swam across the flooded river to rescue people trapped on the roof. My family was full of Coffee County history & I remember so many of these stories. Great article!

  5. I remember the boll weevil statue in Enterprise. Somewhat of a surprise. We were on a genealogy hunt of cemeteries in SE Alabama. Found most we were looking for.

    1. Boll weevil statue is still in the middle of the street, can’t believe it. Good history note though, as it gave them an idea for a new crop.

  6. still floods ruin courthouse records, no progress…

  7. A correction; during the war the 33rd infantry also had a company “G” which my great grandpa served in. He first joined the 6th Ala. infantry in Dale county, but later changed and joined the 33rd. company “G” where he served until he lost a leg at Chickamauga. His name was John James Thames. I have all his military records from the national archives.

    1. John James Thames joined the 33rd Ala. Infantry the second time at the courthouse in Elba.

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