Federal Road built as supply route

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I attended the September meeting of the Escambia County Historical Society and heard a very good speaker.
Sherry Johnston, director of the Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library, and columnist for the Evergreen Courant spoke to those attending the meeting about the Federal Road, that stretched across the south from Milledgeville, Ga. to the coastal region of Alabama.
In 1805, when war with England seemed likely, the federal government began to think about building some roads through the backwoods of Georgia and Alabama, with the idea of making a way to move troops and equipment more easily. A study was ordered to find and identify Indian trails and horse paths through the region so that they could be turned into roads to be able to move the military to protect the southern part of the new nation. One of those roads stretched from Fort Wikins near Milledgeville to Fort Stoddart near Mount Vernon in Alabama. It was called The Federal Road and construction began in 1811. From the very beginning, the road was a major travel route for pioneers who were moving to the area once known as the Old Southwest.
Johnston pointed out that the road passed through Monroe County and Burnt Corn was a stopping place along the route. She said there are many people who have seen parts of the old road and don’t even realize it. Some parts of the old road were later followed by our modern highways, including a part of U.S. 80 east of Montgomery. She told the story of Bates Turkey farms in Butler County that built a turkey house on top of the old road. It seemed that they chose that spot because the dirt had been so impacted that nothing would grow there and the ground was hard, making it a good place to build.
Johnston also said that there was a time when the Federal Road was a thoroughfare for vacationing Europeans. They thought that a trip along the road would give them the experience of what it was like in the wilderness. It was pointed out that by the time a lot of the people had rode that bumpy road to Montgomery, many of them opted to change their plans and took the boat for the rest of their trip south.
Johnston pointed out that The Federal Road had much to do with the reasons settlers moved into the area, thus making it important for those who descend from the original settlers.
While I am writing about Sherry Johnston, let me remind you again, as I have in the past, that the library in Evergreen is very well supplied with genealogical information. If you have never been there, please visit them and see what all they have in their collection. Remember that Conecuh County was the parent county of Escambia. Anything having to do with Conecuh County before 1868 when Escambia was formed, will be found in Conecuh County. Records of that time period, even those of Escambia County, will be found in Conecuh.
I recently had a call about the free-flowing water located behind Changing Seasons in downtown Brewton. I have never thought about why it is there; it just is. I talked to John David Finlay, whose family used to own the building, and he said that the water comes from a spring that was tapped into long ago and used for watering livestock. The building was built in 1883 and I assume that was when it was built. It has continued to pour out of the pipe installed there ever since, and has only dried up once, according to Finlay, who said it did stop flowing one year when we had a severe drought.
I want to remind you again to get in touch with me if you are interested in purchasing one of my new books. They are placed in several places downtown and I have plenty of them, too. The book is $21.99 and contains a little less than 200 early photos from the Brewton and East Brewton area.

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