Forgotten Trails: Corrections made to Granberry history

Published 2:54 am Wednesday, July 18, 2007

By Staff
Last week I told you something about the Granberry family here in Brewton. However, I must straighten a few things out and do some corrections.
It was not George Granberry who planted the oak trees. It was his father, J.M. Granberry who planted the trees. It was, however, George who was the musical genius. It was brought to my attention this week of the errors and I received some additional information, including some photos of him. I enclose one of those this week.
According to Mrs. Annie Crook Waters book, &#8220History of Escambia County, Alabama,” this family was involved in the historical events of Brewton.
John Marcellus Granberry was the son of Robert Colley Granberry and his wife, name unknown.
John Marcellus Granberry (May 1833 in Talbottom, Ga.-October 1901) came to Brewton early in 1870 as a teacher. He helped to organize and build the Brewton Academy that same year and was the first principal. He was also a businessman, city marshal, and county road superintendent. He is the one who planted the oaks along the streets and it may have been in his capacity of road superintendent that he did the planting. He also took care of the first street lights in town. Mrs. Waters said the first street lights were oil lamps in glass boxes set on the top of posts. One side of the glass box could be opened for cleaning, filling and lighting. It was J.M. Granberry, as a night watchman, who was responsible for lighting the lamps every night. The next morning he would return and climb his ladder to blow the flames out. On Jan. 3, 1870, Lot 2, Block 6, of the Milner Map was purchased from Mildred Snowden and the Brewton Academy opened, and children were taught there until 1886. This school was often called Granberry School.
In 1883, when yellow fever hit Brewton, J.M. Granberry and his wife, Sarah McIver Granberry, along with two of their children, George Folsom Granberry and Nannie Granberry, were struck down with the deadly disease. They all were lucky and recovered from yellow fever.
John Marcellus Granberry and Sarah McIver Granberry had at least three children. They were Robert Colley Granberry II, Nannie Granberry and George Folsom Granberry. Both Robert Jr. and Nannie moved away from Brewton and distinguished themselves in other places.
George Folsom Granberry was born in 1876 in Brewton. Mrs. Waters' book said that one of his earliest memories was a torchlight parade in downtown Brewton celebrating the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884, when his father lighted the fireworks. At the age of nine, George was the assistant organist at the First Baptist Church of Brewton before he ever had a musical lesson. He soon was promoted to be the regular organist and began to study music. He graduated from Brewton Collegiate Institute in 1893 and in 1894, he went to Boston, Mass., and worked his way through the New England Conservatory of Music for three years.
After his graduation, he became a member of the faculty of the Carl Faelton School of Music in Carnegie Hall. Here he taught many of the nation's &#8220top 400” in society. It is said that he was well known throughout Europe and entertained for royalty. He apparently served in the French Army in 1819 according to photographs and in 1916 a music club was formed in Brewton and named the Granberry Music Club. He showed a vital interest in the club and donated many valuable books to it.
I hope that you enjoy these stories as I pass them along to you. If you have information you'd like to share with me, you can email me at or give me a call at 867-4876. I would love to hear about your story ideas and share information with you on interesting history.
Happy hunting.

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