Brewton's birthday! We're 120!

Published 5:26 pm Monday, February 14, 2005

By Staff
City was incorporated 120 years ago today.
By LYDIA GRIMES Features writer
Brewton turns 120 years old today, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2005.
The small community that would become Brewton grew up along the railroad track and, at one time, was known as Crossroads. Local lore says that the town was named after Edmond Troupe Brewton, who was the railroad station agent at one time. The town was known as Brewton for many years before incorporation in 1885.
When Escambia County was formed out of Conecuh and Baldwin counties in 1868, the county seat was located in Pollard, which was a thriving little village. As time passed the citizens of Brewton believed the county seat should be moved from Pollard to Brewton. This did not set too well with the people of Pollard and a long-standing feud became outright war between the communities. The local paper at the time, The Brewton Blade, referred to the feud as a "cat fight" and the people of Pollard decided to turn it into a real cat fight by sending a boxcar load of cats to Brewton. Some citizens of Brewton responded by trying to steal the records from the Pollard courthouse under the cover of darkness.
After two votes, (in the first one, more people in Pollard voted than there were living residents), the decision was made and Brewton became the official county seat in June of 1883.
No sooner had everything settled down than Brewton was hit by a yellow fever epidemic. The dreaded disease hit in September of 1883 and before it ran its course with the coming of cooler weather, 28 people were dead.
Brewton was incorporated on Feb. 13, 1885, by an act of the legislature and the little town began to grow. A courthouse was built in that same year which today is known as the Leigh Place. In 1886, Brewton Collegiate Institute was built in downtown Brewton. It was a large brick structure located where the parking lot of First Baptist Church is now located.
Prosperity had come to Brewton. The little town which, even today, is known as the town that timber built, was well on its way to what it is today. During the 1880s there were five hotels and two boarding houses in use. Later, in 1894, a three-story building was built next to the Harold Commissary (which just happened to be the first brick building built in Brewton) which is, even today, known as the Robbins and McGowin store.
Brewton suffered through three major fires; first in 1886, again in 1888 and the largest one in 1896 which destroyed 15 businesses in downtown Brewton. The people of Brewton did not give up, although they did decide that they needed a fire department.
During the late 1800s, a number of wealthy lumber barons made it their home, building many beautiful homes, many which remain today. The Bank of Brewton was established in 1887 and today remains the oldest bank in the state.
In 1998, the population was 6,002. The community is blessed with a state of the art library, two golf courses and a modern YMCA. Brewton has indeed come a long way in the last 120 years. Happy Birthday!

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