HOW WE BEGAN – WHERE WE’RE GOING
The area’s first inhabitants, the Cherokee Nation, lived in the area between Rocky Ravine and City Lake Park. They lived near the “division of the waters.” There is a continental divide in downtown Haleyville where water runs north to the Tennessee, south to the Warrior and west to the Tombigbee. When the Cherokee were forced out in 1836, many refused to go and and later intermarried. Many names of prominence today trace their roots to our Indian heritage.
The first one room school dates back to 1889. For years the Church of Christ, Baptists and Southern Methodists held a union Sunday School in the building owned by the Church of Christ. It was established the same year.
The town grew from 165 in 1900 to 1100 in 1910. Hotels housed weary peddlers. John Dodd built the first brick building and it became Feldman’s Department Store in 1914. Dr. Joe Teal bought it ten years ago and restored it. The railroad provided jobs and doctors, dentists, horse traders, blacksmiths and druggists came and even the 5 & 10 in 1929. The present day Dixie Theater opened in 1948. Supermarkets, Cafés and the Drive-In were part of the 50’s. A radio station, newspaper and television followed. Main Street filled up and was the center of activity especially on the weekend when everyone “went to town.”
It was the manufacture and sales of mobile homes that really put Haleyville on the map. Beginning in the late 1960s Don Tidwell operated Tidwell Industries. Haleyville was home to a large textile plant and other support industries.
The late 1980s were hard for Haleyville. Plants closed, jobs were lost and the elementary school burned. But the same independent spirit that kept the Indians here, that brought the Haleys here; the same unity exhibited in union Sunday School among churches in the 1800s, resulted in our beautiful $5 million facility across from the High School. Even though our population has decreased in the last 30 years, that same independent, fiery spirit is producing some of the brightest, most-talented students, who are becoming lawyers, doctors, teachers, and dentists. Celebrities like Pat Buttram, Polly Holiday, Lonzo and Oscar, the Speer Family, and Lili Zannuck, to name a few, have exhibited this same Haleyville spirit in their work recognized by the nation.
Our dream is that our Haleyville talent will be able to reside in these quiet hills of North Alabama with good jobs, raising good families with good values. We have always been independent, but we can work together and get the job done. Our history has taught us that “in tough times, the tough get going”; we are from the Free State of Winston and we’re ready!
Source: Vicky Dean – Haleyville Historical Society Member
Watch & Learn about Winston County
A Historical Online Database can be found at The Free State of Winston created by Peter J. Gossett and the Winston County Genealogical Society.
Comprising 614 square miles, Winston County is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in northwest Alabama. It is part of the Cumberland Plateau physiographic section, and its terrain varies from low, rolling hills covered with evergreens to spectacular gorges, rock bluffs, and hardwood forests. Much of Winston County sits on the Warrior Coal Field, and the county’s soils are a mixture of plateau and coastal soils. Winston County is bordered by Franklin and Lawrence counties to the north, Cullman County to the east, Walker County to the south, and Marion County to the west.
The Black Warrior River and its tributaries flow throughout Winston County. Tributaries of both the Mulberry Fork and the Sipsey Fork flow through the county. Although the species diversity of the Mulberry Fork is relatively low compared with other water systems in the state, the Sipsey Fork is home to nearly 80 species of fish and is Alabama’s only National Wild and Scenic River System. A large portion of Winston County is part of the William B. Bankhead National Forest, offering scenic views and outdoor recreational opportunities.