Valley Head Genealogy family History


Created and Dedicated January 19, 2004

Town of Valley Head, AL about 1880, looking east from the corner of highway 117 and Winston St. In the background is the train depot, in the foreground is the Post Office on the right and the stock yard on the left. Photo contributed by Marion C. Vaughn

They lived and died in a wilderness south of Canaan. The Cherokee, the white settlers, the farmers, the miners, the soldiers, the wives, the mothers, they were my ancestors, and perhaps your ancestors too. Walk through the history of this little town, listen to the stories, imagine their day. Looking at an old map of Cherokee Towns and Villages, it appears Valley Head is in the same area that was called Teloga, northeast of Wills Town. Today very little is know about the first inhabitants. Excavations at a place called Dead Man’s Curve, about five miles south west of Valley Head on US Highway 11, yielded skeletal remains believed to date between 7,000 B.C. and 700 A.D. Water being necessary for sustaining life it is possible that one or more of those individuals buried at Dead Man’s Curve pasted through Valley Head following the water trail, today known as Wills Creek. At one time, long ago Valley Head was home to a small village of Native Americans. Once upon a time a large oak tree stood on the grounds that came to be know as the Winston Place. Under this tree the Native Americans would hold council meetings. As the Europeans began to explore this area, the Native Americans were crowed out, then finally forcible removed. The migration into the valley started in the late 1700’s. By the 1830’s the white population was substantial. Farms and churches soon doted the landscape.

by VB Beaty 2004

Valley Head is a tale of two histories. The history of the Native Americans who lived here and the history of peoples who migrated to the area.

Perhaps so little is known about the Native Americans in the Valley Head area, because this area is an excellent hiding place. And hide they did. A clue to the successful hiding is found in the minutes of the Head Springs Primitive Baptist Church constituted 1835. In September 1835 two new members were received, Isaac, “a man of colour the property of Elizabeth Packs” and Caty “a woman of colour the property of Elizabeth Packs”. Elizabeth Pack was Cherokee, daughter of Chief John Lowrey. She managed to hold her entitlements of land long after the forced migration of the Cherokee Nation. The stories of who was or was not a Cherokee were held silent for years. Slowly, however, the family stories are emerging to take their rightful place in Valley Head history.

By VB Beaty 2004

Above: Winston Spring runs through Valley Head City Park, to become part of Big Wills Creek after a winding journey around wooded hills and green pastures.

To Educate about the Past in the Present for the Future.

Before there was Valley Head School there was a learning tree. Chief Sequoyah of the Cherokee Nation, developed an alphabet of the Cherokee language. Under an Old Oak Tree over looking the village of Valley Head, he taught the writing system to his people. Chief Sequoyah is also known as George Guess to some. From the early 1800's to the present day the writing system has under gone many revisions. Many publications were now available to those who spoke the language. So the first Scholar and Educator of the small little town of Valley Head, was Chief Sequoyah of the Cherokee Nation.

Transcription of Historical Marker:

Here stood The giant Black Spanish Oak Under which Traditionally Sequoyah Taught his newly invented Alphabet

Tree felled by a storm 1934

Erected 1955 by Valley Head Women's Club.

Photo by Tim Carr 15 Jun 2008

Valley Head Graduates 1970

Verenice Hawkins writes about Valley Head High School.

More school history. The front, north and south wings, and the auditorium of the present building was built in 1925. Only $600 of state money was allowed. The rest was provided by the community. The first class to graduate in 1926had 10 members. One saw my cousin Chester Cooper. His son graduated with me in 1950. He has since had grandchildren graduate. The oak trees were set out in 1930and were a project of the Valley head Women's Club. The classrooms in the back were added in 1935. The Vocational Building was built in 1935 with a U. S. Government grant. When I started to school in 1938 there were no bathrooms. We had to go across the football field to toilets. The bathrooms were built the next year. The first lunchroom was started in 1043by the PTA when Mrs. Eloise Brown was president. The workers sometimes made lye soap to wash dishes. I was in the 6th grade.

The first gym was completed in 1954 after a few years of volunteer work and donations. My daddy and brother helped build it although they did not have kids in school at that time. The elementary building was built in 1962 with additions in mid 60s and again in 1987. The library was built in 1975. In 1991 a new football field was built on land that had been given to the school by our class of 1950. At that time it was a custom for the senior class to leave a gift to the school. They used money made by having a junior and senior play. We bought 2 acres of land that was just east of the old ball field and that was our gift. When you use Tiger Stadium remember the class of 1950. Many of our class are no longer living but out gift is still useful to the school.

The Mascot Tiger

Photo BY VB Beaty 1967

The Tigers Team 1940

Sarah Moon Science Building

Photo by VB Beaty 2007

Valley Head and The Railroad

From the time of the removal of the Cherokee until the Civil War, Valley Head was a farming community. In 1836 DeKalb County was created and the little town would soon play a major roll in the grow of the county. Also, in 1836 , Vance C. Larmore homesteaded an area just south of what would become the town of Valley Head. The first Post Office was established in 1837 and Dr. James Gardner was the first Post Master. William O. Winston, came to town about 1845, he established his home place in Valley Head and proceeded to devote his time to having a railroad built. By 1850 many families had moved to Valley Head and they had professions other than farming. Some of them were: Edom R. Wilkerson, a carpenter from Georgia; Thomas Lovern, a wheel wright from Georgia; Hiram Scroggin, a stone mason from North Carolina; John R. Richards, a minister from South Carolina; Franklin Leach, a merchant from Virginia; John G. Winston, a merchant from Tennessee; James Poe, a brick mason from Tennessee; Joel Jet, a house carpenter from Tennessee; and Samuel Vandike, a tanner from Tennessee.

Progress was being made towards the building of a railroad, but it would soon be hampered by war looming between the states. The Civil War slowed the forward growth of the town. As with other towns, Valley Head had soldiers on both sides. The Union Army had a unit in the area known as the First Tennessee and Alabama Vidette Calvary, they were the home guard, those that hope to hold the fragmenting union together. There were also many units organized for the Confederate States. Not until after the smoke had cleared did the town being again to push forward. The railroad was finished, bringing trade and population growth.

The railroad opened up opportunities in the mining industry which in later years result in the town of Battel being established about four miles north of Valley Head.

The Wills Valley Railroad

Between 1827 and 1832 a rail line had been established from Baltimore to Ohio. In the late 1840s, William Overton Winston began praticing law in the state of Alabama. His life long passion would become a desire for a railroad line. A rail line running right in front of his newly aquired home in Northeast Corner of Alabama. A little place called Valley Head. On Feburary 3, 1852, his ambition was relized with the Chater for The Wills Valley Railroad and he became the frist president. During 1861 to 1863, the War Between the States slowed, but did not deter the building of the rail line. By 1868 the construction of the railway began in earnest. The Improvement Act of 3 Feb 1870 issued bonds to complete the railroad. By the fall of 1870 tracks had been laid from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Biringham, Alabama. In 1877 Contorl of the Wills Valley Railroad was granted to Alabama Great Southren Railroad. A very small town became a very big deal.

File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:

Carolyn Golowka May 29, 2006, 9:45 am

Author: “Memorial Record of Alabama,” Volume 2, published by Brant & Fuller in Madison, WI (1893), page 246

“F. Y. Anderson, the efficient manager of the Alabama State Land company, was

born in Prince George’s county, Md, in 1847, and graduated from Columbia

college in Washington, D.C., in 1870. He then went to Mobile, Ala., where he

engaged in the claim and real estate business until 1880, when he was appointed

land commissioner for the Queen & Crescent railroad, and general manager of the

Alabama State Land company, which owns over 600,000 acres of land in Alabama;

and the railroads with which Mr. Anderson is connected control over one and a

quarter million acres of land. Mr. Anderson went to Birmingham in 1880, and

ever since that time has been prominently identified with its permanent

prosperity. He is vice-president of the Birmingham chamber of commerce, vice-

president of the Alabama state fair, and the president of the Alabama club. By

religious predilection, Mr. Anderson is an Episcopalian. He was married in

1882 to Miss Lucy Winston Paine, daughter of Dr. B. F. Paine, of Alabama, and

grand-daughter of state senator W. O. W. Winston, of DeKalb county, Ala.,

originally from Virginia. Four children blessed the union, Mary J., Frank Y.,

Pelham H., and Winston Paine Anderson.”

Additional Comments:

In the 1900 US Census, Jefferson County, Birmingham Ward 5, page 185B, lines 71-

79 is found Frank Y. Anderson, age 49, born March 1851, his wife, Lucy W., born

February 1864, and their children who were all born in Alabama:

Mary J., born Jan. 1884

Frank Y., Jr., born March 1888

Pelham H., born May 1890

Winston Paine, born March 1892

Kate Ludy, born January 1894

Chas. F., born July 1896

Benjamin, born February 1899

Swan Song of the Old Valley Head Depot with Reminiscences by Robert N. White

Looking northeast from Valley Head to Chattanooga, Tennessee

Read more how Medicine and the Railroad worked together

Before the Railroad there was Mail

Dr. James Gardner began his postal carrier in Mount Airy, Sequatchie Valley of Tennessee in 1830. About 1836 he moved his family to DeKalb County, Alabama, becoming not only one of the first settlers in Valley Head, but also the first postmaster from 1837 to 1840. Delivering the mail was not always an easy task. Some days were cold, wet and the road muddy and hard to navigate in a buggy. Other days were hot and wet. Born in New London County, Connecticut, in 1788, he was familiar with harsh weather conditions and perhaps thought Valley Head was not harsh at all. He was a medical doctor, a postmaster and a farmer. He passed away in 1848 and the search is on for his burial site. Some speculate, he and one of his family members may be buried in the old Valley Head Cemetery, the first site of the Baptist Church called Mt Zion, which was established in 1845.