Brewton, Pollard had real "cat fight"

Published 7:21 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
I have heard from one reader who has promised to send me some more material on William Edward Moore who I told you about a couple of weeks ago. The reader tells me that I will be surprised at what he sends and some of it I won't believe. If this pans out, I will share it with you at a later date.
Since we have been going over a few old stories, I thought I would tell you another. I sometimes forget that everyone hasn't heard this one.
Escambia County was formed out of Conecuh and Baldwin Counties in 1868 after the Sparta Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1866. Pollard became the county seat of the new county. The citizens of Brewton were not happy with this situation as they wanted the county seat to be in their village. Thus began a rivalry that lasted for many years.
One night in 1880, a person who thought he had been wronged by the court in Pollard set fire to the courthouse burning it to the ground. A few of the county records were saved and an individual was indicted for the fire, but officials tore up the indictment, causing some to think that it had been a ruse to build a new courthouse.
The rivalry began in earnest as both towns considered themselves the best place for the county seat to be. Pollard stated that if it was moved to Brewton, the county would have the burden of building a new jail. Brewton argued that it was nearer the center of the county and the old jail at Pollard was no good anyway. Any jailbird could escape.
In an attempt to settle the situation an act was passed by the legislature to hold an election in April of 1881. Pollard won the count, but there were 131 votes more in the Pollard box than registered voters. The vote was contested and a recount took place which was even worse. The count was not 135 voters too many, but 215. It seems that everyone was allowed to vote, even some of the dead.
Brewton was outraged and tempers flared. Another election was ordered and Brewton won by 54 votes, but Pollard would not surrender the records and move to Brewton. The situation finally led to a confrontation that resulted in a real cat fight.
A Brewton writer for the Blade wrote that the courthouse issue had resolved into a cat fight. He said that Pollard and Brewton had tied their tails together and were hanging over the beatline of the precincts and they were going to fight it out.
The next week a Pollard writer answered that if they wanted a cat fight, that is just what they would have.
In the middle of the night a box car in Pollard was loaded down with cats and kittens and shipped into Brewton. The door was opened and cats went everywhere. Never have there been so many homeless cats seen in Brewton. The turmoil had continued for more than a year when Brewton citizens decided to take matters into their own hands. In the dead of night, they slipped into Pollard and stole the books and records making their getaway by horse and wagon. They were driving the wagons so fast that they lost many of the records as they crossed over the bridge.
Eventually, in 1882, a trial was held in Montgomery and Brewton was declared the county seat.
Just thought you would enjoy one of our local legends, especially since it really happened.