Days Gone By - stories from the past

Selwood Plantation – old photographs and story of a historic plantation that no longer exists






Far off the beaten track and now a shell of its former self stands “Selwood”, where once lived the Mallorys.

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, WEST FRONT ELEVATION – Selwood (Library of Congress)

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, CLOSE UP OF FRONT ENTRANCE – Selwood (Library of Congress)

It is a colonial cottage of rare loveliness, interesting because two distinct additions were made to the original hewn-log house, which still stands.

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, FRONT ROOM OF ORIGINAL LOG HOUSE Joined & Formed An Extension to rear – Looking Northwest

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, FIREPLACE AND MANTEL, SOUTH WALL OF SOUTHSIDE FRONT ROOM. Selwood (Library of Congress)

It is owned by a member of the family, (1938) but has been occupied by tenants for many years. Fluted Doric columns with Greek pediment decorate the front porch. A long, wide hall runs through the house, with four rooms opening into it.

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, FIREPLACE AND MANTEL, NORTH WALL OF NORTH FRONT ROOM. Selwood (Library of Congress)

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, FRONT PEDIMENT – Selwood (Library of Congress)

Across the back, a porch enclosed at both ends joins the old log house and a small single room to the main structure. In this small room “the boys” stayed, long ago—Cousin Frank, so handsome and debonair, whose picture was taken in his Confederate grey with pistol in hand, and Cousin Hugh who lived to old age, revered and honored by all Alabama.

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, REAR VIEW LOOKING NORTHWEST – Selwood (Library of Congress)

In the yard the smokehouse, dairy and carriage house still stand. Gorgeous boxwood hedges frame the house, and jonquils, Japanese quince, bridal wreath, and violets bloom in the old Flower beds. This is all that is left of the charm that once belonged to Selwood.

E. W. Russell, Photographer, June 18, 1937, OLD WELL HOUSE AND MILK HOUSE LOOKING EAST Selwood (Library of Congress)

1Written in 1938 as an Alabama Day paper for a club in Birmingham,


In 1834, James Mallory and family moved with his uncle, Oliver Welch, and family to Talladega County. He called his plantation and home “Selwood.” The Journal that he kept until his death in 1877 is a remarkable record of religious, social, and political activities. He recorded faithfully the daily weather, his crop rotation on the farm, his income from cotton and other products. He was the grandfather of Miss Kathleen Mallory.

One daughter married a son of Rev. Oliver Welch; another, the son of John Hardie of Thornhill. James Mallory’s farm was bought in 1948 by the O. V. Hill Family. Eventually, the house was taken down with care and the materials used in Hill Family homes.

O. V. Hill, Jr., operated a smoked turkey business and cattle farm on the property. He was County Agent in Talladega County into the 1960’s.

JAMES MALLORY, son of Melinda (Welsh) and Uriel Mallory, Jr. was born April 16, 1807 in Orange County, VA., and died at Selwood, Talladega County, Ala. October 28, 1877. (obit. Our Mountain Home) (Tombstone date Nov. 12, 1877 is in error) In 1832, in Locust Dale, Va. he married Ann Maria Darby, daughter of Caroline Rebecca (Shepard) and Adam Darby. She was born in 1814 in Culpepper Co., Va., and died at Selwood, Talladega County, Ala. (Tombstone October 31, 1889)

Their children were:

  1. Virginia Mallory, m. James E. Welch, son of Oliver Welch.
  2. Catherine Mallory m. W. C. Cleveland
  3. Ella Mallory, m. Oscar Watkins
  4. James Oliver Mallory, m. Nannie Riser
  5. Frances Shepard Mallory, m. Lizzie Henderson
  6. Hugh Shepard Darby Mallory, m. Jacqueline L. Moore
  7. Elizabeth Mallory, m. Alva Hardie — son of John Hardy
  8. David Many Mallory
  9. Mariana Mallory, m. Joseph A. Edwards

…….Willie Welsh

In 1984, the property of Selwood Plantation became Selwood Hunting Preserve. It was developed and the state’s first sporting clays course was designed and opened at Selwood in 1990. They have a facebook page


  • Transcribed excerpt from The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 10, Nos. 01, 02, 03, & 04, 1948 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

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  1. I’ve a “pie safe” like the one in the picture that came from my great grandparents (Big Coon, AL, Jackson County) to my mother, to me.

  2. These photographs are from the Historic American Building Survey, a government program to put out-of-work photographers, architects and historians to work during the Great Depression. Without this archive, we would likely have no idea about many places. Alabama has a particularly fine collection thanks to the work of Dr. Walter Burkhart of Auburn. Take a look:

  3. Alana Michele, nice history of Selwood.

  4. We have a pie safe in our home almost identical. Ours came from Charleston.

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