Area small towns rich in history
by June Winters
“Fascination” is one word that describes small towns. Every one of them is rich in history and most people who live there are not aware of the stories behind what happened long ago.

The small towns in this area are no exception, and the whole story may never really be known about some of them. Life in these little towns is full of activity today, but there’s still a feeling of quietness and solitude about living in one that appeals to many.


Waldo
In Waldo, town clerk Iris Jemison is the only person involved in the town’s government operation at the present time. The town lost its mayor and council recently, but Jemison said it won’t be long before they will be replaced.

“A special election has to be called and an exact time has not been set for that yet,” she said.

Jemison shares the Town Hall building with Fire Chief Christy Crimm and the 10 members of the Volunteer Fire Department.

The town was incorporated in 1972 by A.M. Hocutt, founder of the town. It was named for Maria Waldo Bradley. The 2011 census showed 282 people living in the town.

There are three churches, one convenience store and the old Mill Restaurant and Saloon, Waldo’s only restaurant.

Waldo has its own water department and purchases the water from Talladega. Electricity is furnished by Coosa Valley Electric.

There’s a covered bridge in the town that was built in the 1800s. Jemison said the bridge is not safe to walk on now, but many people still come to see it. She said it is one of just a few covered bridges existing in the state of Alabama. Some say the bridge was built at the site of an old Socapatoy Indian trail.

The restaurant is located where an old grist mill stood for years. The grist mill was eventually converted to the Town Hall and later became the restaurant.

For years, Waldo has held a “Syrup Sopping” Festival in the fall where syrup was made from cane using the old method of turning the syrup making apparatus with a mule.

For more information on the town, call Jemison at 256-362-9313.


Oak Grove
The town of Oak Grove sits just outside of Sylacauga. Tony White is mayor and council members are Carl Armstrong, Danny Reynolds, Mary Carter, David Harris (mayor pro-tem), and Donald Coleman. Charlie O’Barr is captain of the town’s Volunteer Fire Department, and there are 23 volunteer firefighters.

Water and gas are furnished to the town by the Sylacauga Utilities Board, and electricity comes from Alabama Power Company. A recycling program is free to residents.

One side of the Oak Grove Town Hall building houses the Senior Center, and its director is Debbie Reynolds. This is an active place, which includes days filled with different programs, activities, field trips and a hot lunch at noon. A bus is furnished for the seniors’ field trips and for shopping.

Twenty seniors are fed at the center and 18 meals are delivered to home bound seniors. The center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Visitors are always welcome to join the activities at the center, but lunches are limited.

The Senior Center was completed in 1984, and the town’s new Fire Department building went into operation in 2003.

A pavilion is located near Town Hall and is available for parties, reunions and other events. There’s a walking trail in the adjacent town park, and a large playground is in the process of being renovated.

The town was incorporated in 1966, and local historians say it was named for a local church. The voting to incorporate the town was held in April of that year, an election was held in July and the town’s confirmation was announced in August. There were 83 votes for incorporation and 11 against it. The voting took place at Lander’s Grocery, which later became the first Town Hall. According to the 2010 census, the town has a population of 528. There are 30 businesses within the town limits.

A Heritage and Homecoming Festival is an annual event held by the town and the next festival is planned for April 2014.

Each year the famous REAL meteorite is brought from the Alabama Museum of Natural History to be displayed during the festival. The town gained national fame as being the location of the first meteorite to hit a human. The late Elizabeth Hodges was hit in 1954 as she lay on the couch in her Oak Grove home.


Bon Air
Bon Air is located adjacent to the city of Childersburg, and according to the 2010 census, there are 116 residents.

Bobby Tidwell is mayor and serving on the council are Rene Tidwell, Patricia Ridley, Aleen Skelton, Shane Tyler and David Jackson.

The town was incorporated in 1932, and, according to Tidwell, there are no stores within the town limits, and only one church, Bon Air Baptist. Utilities are provided by the city of Childersburg and Law enforcement comes from the Talladega County Sheriff’s Department. The town doesn’t have a volunteer fire department.

Cavo (Central Alabama Valve Company) is in operation in the town’s old Avondale Mills building. The company manufactures a special kind of pipe and produces valves. The company employs some 25 people.

The original two-room school still stands and Avondale Mill’s company houses are still a part of the community. They are one family dwellings now, but were originally designed as duplexes.

History buffs say the town was named by a Frenchman. Bon means “good” in the French language, and that’s what the visitor thought about the local air when he arrived.


Fayetteville-Talladega Springs
The Fayetteville-Talladega Springs area shares the same town government. Talladega Springs is incorporated and Fayetteville is not. The mayor is Jimmy Dickerson, and serving on the council are Nancy Mitchell, Glenda Kelley, Sheila Roberson, Vanessa Williams, Marie Huntley and Jeremy Owens.

Talladega Springs was first named Franklin, and the name was changed when the town was incorporated. The two towns are side-by-side and are located in South Talladega County near Lay Lake.

Pursell Industries is the area’s prominent business. According to the 2010 census, which was modified in 2013, there are 1,284 people living there. There are two stores, three restaurants and five churches in the area.

Fayetteville School was built in the early 1920s. The late Wallace Averiett wanted a school built in the Fayetteville area so badly that he donated the land. The school now houses classes for grades 1-12 and has received numerous awards. It is also known for its outstanding sports programs.

People living in the town are proud of their efficient Volunteer Fire Department, and various fundraisers help to support the program. The fire chief is Kenny Brown, and there are some 20 volunteers. A board of directors is elected by popular vote each year to oversee the operation of the fire department, and presently serving are Larry Maness, Nan Hoaglin, Bruce Maddox, Robert Pope and B.J. Woods.

Once the Fayetteville-Talladega Springs area was a thriving “health spa.”

A fancy train station was located in Talladega Springs and beautiful tree-lined roads brought wealthy people from throughout the United States to the area.

The visitors bathed in the cool waters of the sulphur springs, and spent their time in the fine hotel located there. The cement floor of the old pavilion still stands and this was where guests ate under the stars and danced to “big band” music.

The first Coca Bottling Company was built in Talladega Springs, and for years coffins were fashioned by hand, in what was known as “the coffin house.”

Lawyers, doctors and other professionals moved to the Fayetteville area to fill the needs of the wealthy visitors.

Fayetteville has no plans to incorporate in the near future. In fact, the town is not eligible. The population is spread over a large area and is not dense enough to qualify.
© 2013