Paint Rock News

The Town of Paint Rock, Jackson County, Alabama

History of the Town of Paint Rock, Alabama

Paint Rock was first inhabited by Indians, then the white settlers came. Some of the first white settlers to settle into what is now Paint Rock were Keel, Mead, Hill, Redman, Knowlton, Jones, Allison, Tipton and many more. You still see reminders of them every day here for many streets in Town are named after them.

At one time most of the land that was know as Camden, which is now Paint Rock, was owed by John Kennamer. He had a log cabin near the foot of the mountain. Jesse Keel was another early settler. He lived near the railroad in 1829. He came here form Tar River North Carolina. John Redmen also settle here in 1835 he came from South Carolina and he ran a boat yard and keep an inn for the passengers to lodge in that rode in on the stage coach. The Camden depot was built in 1856. 

Camden's Post Office was established in 1836 with J. Newberry as the Postmaster. John Redman was appointed as Postmaster in 1837 where he severed till 1847. The Post Office name was change to Redman and Augustus Lilly served as the Postmaster. The name of the Post Office was change back to Camden in the 1850's. The name went from Camden to Paint Rock in 1876.

Some of the earlier industries in Paint Rock included a water mill for grinding corn and wheat. It was built by George Lily in 1879. A pencil  mill was built in 1897 by Otto Gudenrath of New York. It was said to have employed 65 people. He sold it to Gulf Red Cedar Company who employed 175 people until 1911 when it moved to Tennessee. There were two stave mills that made stave's for whiskey barrels until prohibition closed their doors. There was a Hosiery mill that employed several hundred people. A Chair factory that close in 1970's. Pleasant Woodall and Stephen E. Kennamer sold groceries and liquor before the Civil War.

Paint Rock in the Civil War

Many people from Paint Rock were in the Civil War. Some are buried in the Old Paint Rock Cemetery. Col. Lemuel Green Mead, William Putman, Moses Keel, William Gaither, William M. Gormley, John H. Gwathney to name some.                                                         

[Biography, photograph, provided by Charles S. Rice, Huntsville, AL]

Lemuel Green Mead was a native of Paint Rock, in western Jackson County, Alabama. His family, who came from Virginia, was prominent locally. His uncle, Lemuel Mead of Huntsville, was a signer of the Alabama Constitution of 1819. Lemuel G. Mead was a Paint Rock lawyer when the war began. He was also master of the Paint Rock Masonic Lodge.

In September 1861, Mead raised the "Paint Rock Rifles" which became Company C, 26th (later 50th) Alabama Infantry Regiment. He led his men into combat at Shiloh in April 1862 but resigned his commission on 1 July 1862, after Union forces had invaded North Alabama. Mead was soon commissioned a captain of partisan rangers and authorized to operate behind the enemy lines in North Alabama and Tennessee. On 18 January 1864, Mead was authorized to increase his command to a battalion. His operations were so successful that on 1 March 1865, Mead was authorized to reorganize his men into a regiment of three battalions. Mead's friend, General John Brown Gordon, pushed for Mead's temporary promotion to the rank of brigadier general. However, the war ended before the promotion could take place.

In May 1865, Colonel Mead refused demands for his surrender, replying that he "saw no military necessity to do so." Union General George Thomas accordingly declared Mead. Mead swam his horse across the Tennessee River and held out for a short time longer on Brindley Mountain, in Marshall County. He finally took the oath of allegiance in September 1865, at Montgomery.

After the war, Mead moved his law practice to Scottsboro, Alabama, where he prospered. He was active in Democratic politics, becoming an elector for Samuel Tilden in the "stolen election" of 1876.

Colonel Mead was killed in the town of Gurley, Alabama, in 1878 while walking with Captain Frank B. Gurley, late of the 4th Alabama Cavalry. The killer approached Mead and shot him once with a shotgun. As Mead lay on the ground, the killer then emptied the other barrel into him. The cause of the shooting was a dispute over sharecropping, allegedly involving just one bale of cotton. The killer fled to Texas, but years later was located and returned for trial. The gunman was found not guilty, since the defense attorney (no less than Leroy Pope Walker, former Confederate Secretary of War) argued self-defense, since Col. Mead had been carrying a pistol at the time! (Walker is also famous for winning an acquittal on robbery charges in Huntsville for Missouri outlaw, Frank James.)

 

There were four battles in Paint Rock. The first battle took place at the rail bridge on April 28, 1862. A 27-man detachment from the 10th Wisconsin Infantry was attacked by what they claimed were "250 rebels" aided by the citizen. Six union soldiers wounded and one Confederate was found dead and one wounded

A second battle took place near the bridge on April 8, 1864, when 15 men from Company D, 73rd Indiana Infantry, fought a Confederate detachment they estimated at 40 men. One Union solider was killed and one wounded. While the Union claimed to have killed two Confederates and wounded 3.

Russell's 4th Alabama Calvary and Mead's Partisan Battalion clashed with the Federal rearguard near the bridge on December 7, 1864 in the Union retreat during Hood's march on Nashville. Thirty-nine Union soldiers was reported missing in action.

The best-known engagement took place on the morning of December 31, 1864. Col. L. G. Mead surprised and captured Company G, 13th. Wisconsin Veterans Infantry, by burning the bridge down and rolling cannon into the river.

The 1890's saw Jackson County as a pretty tame place to be. For amusement and entertainment people would go to the rail road depot on Sundays to see the train go by or take a walk on the railroad tracks. Harry Hill was Paint Rock's agent.The agent was the person that over saw the dept business. People also would take buggy rides due to the fact horse and buggy or trains were the only means of transportation at the time.

                                                                                 

 Paint Rock became a booming town with a doctor's office, a lawyer office, a drug store, a hotel, a motor company and one of the largest, if not the largest, mercantile stores in the county. Butler and Rousseau's Store was three stories high and sold caskets, hardware, groceries, building supplies, hardware, farming supplies, and general merchandise.                                            

Hard Times in Paint Rock

On January 17, 1870 a tornado did great damage to the depot and destroyed Bill Hill's store and other buildings. On March 21, 1932 a tornado hit Jackson County killing thirty-two people; four were from Paint Rock. It was a storm Paint Rock never seem to recover from. It came though Paint Rock about 7:00 pm destroying almost half of the homes in town. The textile mill, warehouses and most of the downtown builds were destroyed or damaged.

Paint Rock was incorporated in July of 1894.

Below is a picture of downtown Paint Rock before the tornado.

 AFTER THE STORE AND HWY 72.
The sun did come out and Paint Rock is
still here smaller in size 
but big in spirit.  
A rainbow over the river in Paint Rock
is a reminder things are going to be better. 
 

MORE TO COME.

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