|History of Dolomite (Part II)
as told by Mildred Brown Crain to her daughter Martha Jean Crain
March 30, 1982
William Brownblazed his way to Jefferson County, Alabama, Possum Valley
(Dolomite) ca. 1815. He came from Lincoln County and Giles County,
Tennessee. He searched around and liking the area, he went back to
to get his family. He applied for land in 1819. Recorded in
tract book on file in the Jefferson County Probate Court record room.
sister and brother-in-law, Jerimiah Jones were already settled somewhere
the vicinity. Brown was here a year and-a-half before he found his
brother-in-law. He accidently ran into him while hunting in the
Brown settled in what is now called Brown Town, located behind the
Bethlehem Methodist Church which he help organize in 1818. The old
Family Cemetery is located about two miles behind the church. The
family have gathered there for years for a family reunion. Brown had
family of seven sons and two daughters. His sons were John, Isaac
Elizabeth Snow; James married Sarah Gilkie Rutledge; David married Lucinda
Robertson; Robert W. married Elizabeth Taylor; William Burrus married
Fields; Joseph married Mary Ann Cox; Eliza D. married James East; Mary
married John Elliott.
The Robertson, Hulm, Butler, were very early settlers in this area.
David Wilson Brown, son of Issac, was born November 28, 1851 in Dolomite,
a half mile from where his daughter now lives. He was born in a log
that burned down around 1915. D.W. built a home on Edwards Street
1882. His mercantile store was next door. His daughter,
Mildred, and the
one who is giving this history still lives in the old home place and was
born here. Brown bought this piece of land around 1837 from a man
William Hulm. Hulm evidently left this area as noting is known of
I have a ledger from my father's store dated 1883-1884. Some of the
names listed in the book are:
Will Jordan, Blake Jones, William Johnson, A. S. Brown, Harley Caldwell,
B. F. Plotte, John W. Brown, John Nunnalley, Isiah Herrin, Dave Belle,
Dowdelll, W. I. Brown, E. R. McElroy, Frank Harrison, E. A. Harrison,
Howard, Reubin Robertson, William Meridith, Jim Blackwell, Edd Tarrant,
Joe Vance, Alex Glasgow, James Spencer, Tomm Crooks, E. M. Bratton, James
Goolsby, William H. Snow, Lewis Chapman, Lucius Anthony, Ike Caldwell, J.
Brown, Jim Gray Snow, Dock Galsgow, Asberry Chapman, Andy Murdock, Alex
Alley, Marion Hallman, Fanny Winston, Joe Alley, Bill Harrison, Curry
Sam Howton, Whit Thompson, John Powell, John Earley, John Roberts, William
Johnson, Allen Cost, John Kelley, E. M. Bratton, Cutt Hamilton, Dave
A. Wolf, John Thompson, J. N. Milstead, Rob. Boyd, Reubin Salter, Morgan
Thomas, A. Omsted, Nely Meigs, Bill Justice, Jim Warnic, Mrs. Caroline
Bill Shivers, and John Gallagher.
Farming was the chief occupation before the Civil War. After the
War, men from the north came down prospecting for minerals they had seen
while here. One of them stayed in the Brown home. It has been
the man would leave and be gone several days and then return.
the Browns, he was testing minerals. It was first thought there was
here. That is how Dolomite got its name, but it turned out to be
story is that one day all the Brown boys were goine and Mr. Brown sold a
of his land.
I don't know what year the Woodward Iron Company formed. I have been
told the No. 1 mines was sunk in 1884, but whether this date is correct, I
not know. Dolomite started growing. No. 2 mines opened and
Dolomite was a
booming mining town. It was one of the largest mining towns around.
There were only two churches. The Bethlehem Methodist and the
Baptist. The preacher came to the Methodist church every other
was also true of the Baptist church. They had their services every
Sunday. I remember we all went to the Methodist church on their day
everybody went to the Baptist on their day.
I will give the location of the families as I remember as a pre-teen
child, ca. 1910. Starting with my present home on Edwards Street.
the first house. The house next door use to be my father's store,
The D. W.
Brown Mercantile Co., The next house across now Gillespie Road was the F.
Reynolds home, the next Della Reed home, the next Joe Reed home, next Will
Reed home, next name unknown and also the next name unknown, the next
was J. R. Knight, tow other houses burned, names unknown. Across the
was Burroughts home then the Dolomite School and Masonic Hall building.
the end of the road was the Robertson's home. Coming back up Edwards
on the opposite side of the road some of these homes were being built.
Across the branch was the Boyd home, next unknown, next one was where
Purser lived, next home was built for the Supt. Ben Purser, next house the
Thomas, next house for Woodward Commissary managers, J. R. Wilson, later
H. Horton. Facing this house was the bachlors home, later the
Dr. E. P. McEniry. I cannot remember when the doctor's office was
Houses on the northside of my home was built by Woodward. About four
houses on the same side as me. One of there names I remember was the
I played with John and Laura Deer.
Now one street over is Pleasant Grove Road. Houses were scattered
in this area. Along Pleasant Grove Road extending back to the
Railroad tracks were Woodward Houses as far back as I can remember.
of the area of these houses was generally from the area where the pump
now stands and goes down to the Commissary Street. At one time, my
grandfather's home, Issac, was located near the pump house across the
The house is still here and occupied by the Nath Chapman family. The
Pleasant Grove Road did not go that far up until after I married.
I will list the Sweet Gum Flat houses that I remember over a long period
of time. George Cunningham, Dan McPherson, Harrison, Rush, Hall,
Hood, John Mondy, Lewis, Beulah Whatley, Allen, and Jim Reed.
The J. R. Owen home was on Owen Circle in the Garywood area.
Before I married, in 1919, and after, Dolomite got their mail either
addressed Route 1, Ensley, or Dolomite. It was up to the customer.
Wheeler delivered our mail by horse and buggie. I also remember a
Rickles delivering mail addressed as Ensley, Route 1. Ensley Route 1
discontinued some time after I married in 1919 and we got the mail
as Dolomite. Mr first memory of the Dolomite Post Office starts with
post office being located in the Dolomite (Woodward) Commissary.
M. Guthrie was Post Master. Later Mrs. Exa L. Anderson and Camp
were Post Master. Gladys Reaves Miller gave my daughter the
information about the post office several years ago: The post office
back of a store after if left the commissary near Mr. A. W. Mocks
Emma Reaves Post Master. It was later moved to Edward Street and at
burned down. The old Post Office building that was used after the
building burned is still standing today. It is located on Edwards
complete list of post masters is in the first article about Dolomite.
My father, David Wilson Brown and A. W. Mock were the Justice-of-Peace.
I have been told by an older cousin, Lucy Brown Jenkins, that there was a
schoold located near the present Jimez Restaurant. She said she and
brother were a student there and the Professor was named Professor Chase.
Jack Smith's blacksmith shop was located in this area also.
The Dolomite School always had a big May Day. I was May Queen one
and Joe Boyd Ezell crowned me Queen.
At one time, my father built a large home in what is now called Garywood.
It was located about where George Knight's Grocery was located.
There was a
spring not far from the house. Papa built up around the spring and
water to our house. The house burned around 1917 or so.
When I was in my teens, we use to get the "Jitney" at the
Commissary and ride to Brighton. We caught the street car in
either went to Birmingham or Bessemer. This was the only public
transportation from Dolomite. Johnny Harper and Thomas Wood were two
drivers of the "Jitney". There were several Jitneys.
Coke ovens were located not far from my home. They were located
somewhere back of where the Zimmerman's live now. I could see them
Dolomite had a tennis court located on the corner of Commissary Street
and Pleasant Grove Road when I was a teenager.
Peddlers came through with a pack on their back from Birmingham selling
cloth and lace, etc. Joe Rosenbush was one of the popular peddlers.
John B. Thomas was superintendent of the mines at one time. I think
was after I married, but I am not sure. I moved away from here in
I married. I moved back in 1938. I lost out on some of the
during this time. When I moved back, "Pinnacle Hill" was
built up near the
pump house. It was a street of houses, and the overhead bridged was
near by over the railroad tracks. It was called "Pinnacle
Hill" for years.
I don't know if they still call it that or not. I haven't heard it
in a long
When I was a child, they had square dances at the old school in Sweet Gum
Flat. I can remember of going there and watching.
During the depression in the 1930's and early 1940's, the mines only
worked from one to three days a week. At first, the mines only had
shifts, the day and night. Later the third shift was added.
A. Mr. Lewis was manager of the commissary at one time. Later J. R.
Wilson, W. H. Horton and Lee Huey. I cannot recall any more but
others. Ben Purser was supt. of the mines. After Purser, John
B. Thomas. I
think Clous was supt. at one time. Mr. T. R. Barnes was manager of
market. Samora Alley Dennis "Toots" was a clerk.
Some of the other clerks I
recall are Bert Mize, O. L. Kouglar, and Percy Rasberry, A. Z. Strain,
Cowden, Camp Anderson, Benney Rambeau, Thomas Dickey, Brook Lawrence.
Willene Horton, Ola Franklin, Audrey Suit Harris, Jackie Harbin, A. D.
Shoemaker, S. Juinkins, Josephine Strain Junkins. There were other I
recall and I have not listed the above in order.
I also have a store ledger from my father's store dated 1913. I will
list some of the names. I have separated the names the best I could.
list the white names first. I separated the names for the benefit of
1913 to 1920 White names:
Charlie Rush, John Lacey, George Cunningham, Will Reed, A. L. Hall, John
McKee, W. G. Rush, Herbert Knight, W. D. Milstead, Jesse Huey, L. M.
Crawford, B. E. Purser, Tom Warnick , Tom Dabbs, Edd Cunningham, John B.
Thomas, Jr., Eugene Robertson, Mrs. R. F. Mims, T. C. Totherow, Charliey
Wolf, Earl Hood, Prof, J. B. Owens, Raymond Lewis, Boss Crowder, Jim Reed,
T. Sloan, Dave Barnes, Dr. P. E. Gwin, Harold Purser, Lon P. Staggs, John
Knight, Windowm Lewis, W. J. Lawrence, J. B. Thomas, Harry Owen, W. L.
W. E. Herald, O. L. Kouglar, J. M. Morris, John Mundy, L. A. Reaves, H. C.
Reid, Walton Price, Della Reed, F. F. Robertson, Clyde Nail, Frank Lewis,
W. Mock, Claude Wilkes, Aaron Evans, M. M. Hughuley, Dr. S. W. Right,
Dixon, Dr. McEniry and Dixon, Dr. Mortimer H. Naff, Dr. J. A. Pow, M. S.
Kyzer, Herbert Thomas, John B. Thomas, Supt, Dr. J. M. Bonds, Ed. Bilitz,
A. A. Meek, Mrs. Beulah Whatley, J. J. Suit.
Black Customers: 1913 to 1920
Ben Jenkins, Rodgers Fomley, Will Denson, Garney Echols, Jake Frost,
Manuel Hubbard Will Goodwin, Jim Reed, Steve Echols, Jim Johnson, Dock
Limas Grogins, Jim Young, Jim Goodwin, Dave Coleman, Eliza Hubbard, Cap
Allen, Maggie Lee Floyd, Annie Mae Moore, George Green, Horace Black,
Porter, Mollie Walker, Charley Mitchell, Dave Johnson, Core She, Morris
Munsford, Dave Mitchell, Smith Sanford, Jeff Buckner, Tom Gregory, Will
Daniels, Milly Smith, Prof, L. F. Johnson, Oscar Echols, Dave Johnson and
Prof. Treadwell was at the black school for years.
The above history is just a small portion. Only one person's
recollections. Dolomite has much more history that I am not able to
I forgot to mention that in 1922 the No. 3 mine blew up killing about 99
men. It was a terrible day for Dolomite. I also forgot to
nurse, Mattie Wall, who worked with Dr. E. P. McEniry for so many years.