Forgotten Trails: City experienced decades of changes

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By by Lydia Grimes
As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I have been pouring over the old bound volumes here at the newspaper office.
I have had great fun just browsing and picked up a few things that I thought would interest you.
Let me tell you that these volumes are on microfilm at the JDCC Museum that is located in the Fine Arts building.
The Escambia County Historical Society houses their collections in the museum and you are welcome to visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Special arrangements may be possible at other times by calling them at 809-1528. You may try contacting anyone with the Historical Scoeity directly at 867-7332.
Here are some items I picked up when I was looking for material for the baseball story that I wrote.
Jan. 7, 1937
Changes were made to the parking restrictions in downtown Brewton on St. Joseph and St. Irenette. No parking on the street side next to the railroad tracks and the other side still had some restrictions.
June 24, 1937
There was a movement to protect Big Escambia Holly Tree in the right of way on U.S. 29,(Andalusia Highway). The holly tree was the biggest in the United States. What ever happened to that plan?
Oct. 14, 1937
Ritz Sandwich Shop prepared almost 4,000 sandwiches for the CCC (Civil Conservation Corp) assembly.
Dec. 8, 1937
A fire at The Ritz Theatre that destroyed much of the stage area. The show did go on, only an hour late.
January 1940
Grant Mercantile moved into the former site of Brewton City Hall in downtown Brewton on Mildred Street. (This would later be Western Auto.)
Jan. 28, 1940 (issue of Feb. 1, 1940)
The last of the former slaves in this area died at age 91. Aunt Millie Williams had been a slave for the McGowin family.
Feb. 8, 1940
A deal was made with Mrs. T.R. Miller by Brewton City Board of Education for the sale of a tract of land on Belleville Avenue, diagonally across from the high school. The new elementary school will be built on this site, The purchase price was $8,000. The piece of property was previously used as a private park.
March 14, 1940
Bonita Ribbon Mill opened on March 8. A big celebration was held at the old Country Club/airport.
March 28, 1940
Bowen McMillan was given 10 years for shooting his brother-in-law, Dexter Cotton.
May 2, 1940
A tornado struck Appleton on April 30, It cut a wide path of destruction.
May 9, 1940
Work on U.S. 31 across Burnt Corn Creek was begun to raise the bridge up so that it would not be so easily flooded.
May 30, 1940
Lights were put up in the ball park in downtown Brewton.
June 6, 1940
The ball field in downtown Brewton had its lights. The first game under the lights brought out a crowd of 800 people.
Aug. 1, 1940
There was a fire at the ball park. The grandstand was destroyed. It was decided it was arson.
Aug. 8, 1940
The city was caught off guard when a tropical storm that hit Louisiana sent winds and rain to Brewton.
Aug. 22, 1940
Admission to the last game of the Brewton Millers season was reduced to 30 cents for men and 15 cents for all others (women, children and blacks.)
Aug. 29, 1940
Mill Street (later St. Nicholas Avenue) was about to be paved all the way from Mildred Street to the street north of the ribbon mill.
Sept. 5, 1940
North Brewton School opened, consolidating Gum Tree, Appleton, and Center New Grove.
Oct. 10, 1940
The recent fire at the jail was caused when inmates pulled some of the stuffing from a bed and set it on fire.
I hope you are somewhat interested in these facts from the 1937 and 1940 volumes of The Brewton Standard.
It's truly amazing to see how things were in those days and just how much has changed in our small town.
Remember, if you ever have any information you'd like to share with me about historical events, places or even of families in this area, I'd love to hear from you.
If I can research the topic and share it with our readers I'll be sure to let them know where the information came from when the article is done.
You can reach me at 867-4876 or by email at
Until next week, happy hunting.