Forgotten Trails: Historic news items discuss street names, people

Published 5:47 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2006

By Staff
The following was taken from The Brewton Standard newspapers in 1956. Mr. Emmett Brooks was the publisher and his son; Emmett Brooks Jr. was the editor and general manager. Mr. Brooks (not sure which one) had a front-page column entitled Talking it Over. Beginning July 5, 1956, he began a series of articles about Brewton, the people and names of streets.
This continued over a matter of weeks and it is preserved here, copied in August 2006, from the original newspapers, which are bound and preserved. Lydia Grimes copied the information directly from the newspapers.
July 5, 1956
Many of Brewton's streets bear the names of families, which are still familiar here while others carry names, which have no significance for the present generation.
One of these is Granberry Street, which was named for J.F. Granberry. He and his family were early residents of Brewton and they lived on the property next to where the present post office stands and which is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Garrett.
Mr. Granberry was, at one time, the town marshal and during his tenure of office he set out many of the large and beautiful oak trees that are seen along our streets.
I have been told (that was before my day) that the oaks were so unattractive that after he had planted them, some of the citizenry demanded that the city fathers discharge him.
Fortunately, many of his critics lived to appreciate the contribution that he made to his hometown by adding beauty and providing shade to otherwise barren streets.
A couple of weeks ago we carried the picture of the old building on lower Belleville Avenue that was being torn down. It was referred to as the &#8220Rankin” home since we knew at one time it was owned by the late Miss Coralie Rankin.
Mr. Ed Leigh McMillan told me afterwards that it was built by Alex McGowin, who later erected the beautiful home that stood on the property now partially occupied by the CF-M Bank.
And who am I to argue with a man who has forgotten more of the history of Brewton than I'll ever learn? It is unfortunate that Ed Leigh does not have the time from his many activities to write it all down.
July 19, 1956
Since I always try to be truthful (up to a point at least) that just one long person suggested to me, following my comment about Granberry Street two weeks ago, thought it might be interesting to newcomers and old time residents alike if some information was published on the other streets of our city.
Feeling that perhaps he was right, I will follow his suggestion and subject to the tricks, which a not reliable memory may play, try to give the background of the names of more important thoroughfares and maybe some that are not so familiar.
Seriously, not too much could be written about any street as much that is not visible to the naked eye. So I will deal primarily with the people for whom the streets were named, their places in Brewton's history, and an occasionally sidelight on their character.
Should those comparatively few people who have lived here longer than I have, and whose recollections are no doubt better, detect an error of fact that may slip in from time to time, I hope that they won't be too critical and remember that my efforts are not being checked against the limited history of Brewton in its early days.
With the preliminaries disposed of, let's get down to the subject at hand by starting with the main street business street.
St. Joseph Avenue was, as the name indicates, was named after a saint in the Catholic Church and was so designated by a priest of that church who prepared the first map of Brewton.
Until recent years what is now St. Joseph Avenue was actually and officially two streets.
That portion on the north, or west side of the L &N railroad tracks was St. Joseph while on the south (or east) side was St. Irenette (also named for a Catholic saint). Some years back, the city council made it all St. Joseph and the name St. Irenette is seldom referred to except in official records.
It is my information that these streets were so named at the suggestion of John Arrends, one of the early residents of Brewton. Mr. Arrends was a devout member of the Catholic Church who erected a small chapel to which he went for his daily prayers and in which priests from Mobile would conduct masses from time to time.
This chapel was located on St. Irenette at about where the service entrance to Roberts Motor Company is now located.
Another street that bears a Catholic name, St. Nicholas Avenue, received that designation through direct or indirect influence of Arrends, although the name was not officially established until just a few years ago. However, that street has a history of its own and will be dealt with later.
Much could be written about Mr. Arrends and his activities and influence here during the early days of Brewton. He owned a store, served as postmaster for many years, and later built and operated for many years the Arrends Hotel. His daughter Aloise, married James Sowell, a member of another prominent Brewton family, and three of their sons, Phillip, Joe and Sam, are well-known residents of the city.
Although no street bears his own name, devout Catholic that he was, Mr. Arrends would no doubt be happy that the main thoroughfare of Brewton carries in his name the constant reminder of his church and the early activity of this city.
Next week I will carry on these articles written by Mr. Brooks. I think you will find it as interesting as I have found it to be.

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