Days Gone By - stories from the past

He wanted to split Dale County in two, even if it had to be done with a broad axe [old pictures]

This is a letter and information about two towns that no longer exists,  Honeytown & Hawridge {see picture below of students ca. 1900 of Haw Ridge school) in Coffee County, Alabama and some people who lived there as well as how Coffee county developed out of Dale County. 

Section of old deserted house. Coffee County, Alabama 1939 (Marion Post Wolcott Library of Congress)Section of old deserted house. Coffee County, Alabama 1939 (Marion Post Wolcott Library of Congress)

Honeytown, Coffee Co., Alabama


Honeytown, AL and Hawridge, AL
From: [email protected]
Date: Tue, Jul 13, 1999, 5:54pm
Honeytown, AL

Hi! I hope you can find a place for this on the Coffee County ALGenWeb site for I would hate for the history of Honeytown to be lost. A lot of older people of Dale and Coffee counties do not remember Honeytown, Alabama; some do not know about Hawridge, Alabama either. Christine Grimes Thacker
Coffee-County map
William Ezekial GRIMES (who was born 10/10/1894 in Brandon, Texas) was the son of Benjamin William GRIMES (who was born 05/20/1846 Hawridge, Coffee county, Alabama and died 01/12/1929 in Brandon, Texas) and his second wife Levinia SAMS.

Benjamin William was the son of Henry Benjamin GRIMES (who was born 06/10/1820 in Wayne County, NC and died 03/26/1859 in Hawridge, Coffee county, Alabama) and Harriett Calloway HILDRETH (daughter of Rev. Benjamin HILDRETH and Jemima DOWLING).

Henry Benjamin was the son of Stephen GRIMES (who was born ca. 1790 Duplin County, NC and died before 1860 Dale County, Alabama) and Bethany HINES (who was born ca1802 Lenoir County, NC, died ca1860 Dale County, Alabama and the daughter of Joel HINES and Patience GULLEY).

Dale County Court house in Ozark, Alabama ca. 1900 postcard (Alabama Department of Archives and History)Dale County Court house in Ozark, Alabama ca. 1900 postcard (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Letter from William Ezekial “Zeke” Grimes ca 1926, written on paper from the Merchants Hotel, Ozark, Dale County, Alabama to his father, Benjamin William Grimes.

Dear Papa,
I spent the night in Ozark, Ala. this is the County Seat of Dale Co. and just a few miles from your old home, Honey Town. I found some Dowling’s here and am sure they are some of our people. They trace their people from South Carolina. Uncle ?Peceles? Dowling lives here, he is now 82 yrs old I have not been to see him yet, but probably will this morning. I got in here late last night and have not had the opportunity of doing very much investigation as yet. I am waiting on one of Uncle Charles Edwards son to come down and go out to the old home place with me near Honey Town. There are a lot of Prices and Mathews, I mean some of the younger ones. We are going upon the line of Coffee and Dale Co this morning. The Grimes are well known back here and are of fine standing,so are the Edwards they are of the highest standing of any of the old families . The County Seat has been moved here to Ozark since you lived here. Another old family are the Windums, (could this be Windhams?). I will write you more tomorrow when I get back from this trip. I am still working in Birmingham.
(NOTE: no closing, on back of page are these notes) Charlie Culton ? b4/22/1826 d 5/31/1870
Mary A Cockers ? b11/22/1831 d ?/28/1909
Henry Curway? Ceerway? b1/13/1813 d 8/31/1893
Dempsey Dowling b1783 d1865
Capt John W. Dowling 1832-1893 Ozark
Mrs. Rev. D. Dowling b3/4/1787 d 1/15/1859
Ozark Rev Angus Dowling 12/25/1892 son of Noel and Sallied Dowling. Simeon Dowling     5/15/1835
James R Dowling 9/6/1861 (under that is 1840)
This is either places he had been or places to go.
1 Kirk Byrd – place, 2 Seaborn-Pennal,
3 Leavy Dowling, 4 Zion Church,
5 Hawridge, 6 Honey Town,
7 Pealor Dowling, 8 Bear ?Beonsh?
9 Pleasent Hill Church, 10 —–nothing.

End of letter : summitted by Christine Grimes Thacker [email protected]

Coffee County Courthouse

Coffee_County_Courthouse_(Elba,_Alabama)(Coffee County Courthouse, by photographer Carol Highsmith, Library of Congress)

This was written by Martha Carr of Dallas, Texas.
Hey! I found a website which is an index of links to 1895 state maps in color!
And, according to that 1895 Alabama map, the GNIS was indeed in error Re the location of Haw Ridge, as it shows it on what was in 1895 the borderline of Dale and Coffee Counties. One big change I notice is that the current county of Houston AL was carved primarily from the bottom half of 1895’s Henry County, also taking the southeast corner of Dale County to make room for it’s growing County Seat of Dothan (Dothen), and leaving Abbeville as the County Seat for Henry County. Concerning Honeytown, I don’t think it was a nickname for Haw Ridge.

Graduating class at Haw Ridge Rural School in Dale County, Alabama - ca. 1900 - Principal Mrs. Read stands on the right (Alabama Department of Archives and History)Graduating class at Haw Ridge Rural School in Dale County, Alabama – ca. 1900 – Principal Mrs. Cordie B. Read stands on the right (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

R. A. says, “The eleventh and twelfth children of Levi’s and Ann Dowling will be covered in this last section. Both of these daughters were born at Honeytown (now a ghost name in Dale County, as Fort Rucker has enveloped it). They did not marry until they moved to Attala County,Mississippi. Reverend Levi Dowling moved his family to Attala County, Mississipppi after the census enumeration of Dale County in 1860.”

And, on page 86, “Some two score years after Reverend Dowling’s death, the “Southern Star” of Dale County, Alabama, had this to say:””Levi Dowling was one of the first settlers in the Honeytown beat. He was a local preacher of great usefulness. Levi and his two brothers who preached were strict in their lives and in their teaching; they had the courage of their convictions and persisted in planting the seeds of the gospel into the evil that was springing up on all sides. Their course often brought criticism which occasionally ripened into bitter persecutions.”

AHA! But the real story of Honeytown is on page 81: “The last child that Mary J. had was born in 1850 and named Daniel (Jr.) [Mrs. Mary J. Dowling McLean, oldest daughter of Levi, born 3/17/1824, who was murdered in 1853 by a neighbor’s slave, a young “scoundrel” who “beat her brains out” and was chained to a stake and put to death by fire.] It was only a short time before the boy’s birth that Grandfather Levi was involved in a memorable event. His Dale County home near Haw Ridge was so well known by surrounding settlers that it was designated as a polling place for an election that promised to be a hot one! Captain Arch Justice, who had so recently led the local militia against nearby Indians, had now turned his attention to matters politic and he vowed “to split Dale County in two, even if it had to be done with a broad axe”. This had won him a seat in Alabama’s legislature; people living near present-day Graceville, Florida, and Opp, Alabama, were tired of having to go to Newton to transact courthouse affairs.

The decision to cut off Dale’s westhalf into a new county known as Coffee had already been made; a majority vote was to decide the spot on which “Wellborn”, Coffee’s first county-seat would be located. . . . The number of land-owners desirng the location of this government-decreed town is unknown, but at least one was pulling for the selection of his site. He passed out so much honey to the pioneers trooping in to vote, that the community around Levi’s house was known as Honeytown for a century following the occurrence!”

[email protected] wrote: I do not know when Haw Ridge was taken over from Ft. Rucker. I did not know 3 years ago that the town was no longer a town. I was trying to find it and then found out no one knew about it, so i was going up and down highway 27 and could not find a road open. So I went to a GI (Ft. Rucker had some men doing something, can’t remember what) but when I asked him, he told me it used to be >> and then pointed to a clearing of land that was off in the distance, across the road from where we were. If you see the book FORGOTTEN TRAILS by Fred S. Watson, it has a small hand drawn map of old Dale Co. and it has Haw Ridge on the far left about half way down the map.

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