History of Dolomite (PART III)
as told by Mildred Brown Crain to her daughter, Martha Jean Crain
When I was a child, the people voted in my father's store.
They used a paper ballot and dropped the ballot in a box with a slot in
the top. The votes were counted that night. I registered to
vote in my father's store in 1922.
My father, D. W. Brown; was a justice of Peace and held "small"
court in his store. He also married couples in his store. Mr.
A. W. Mock was another justice of Peace in Dolomite.
I talked with my older cousin, Lucy Brown Jenkins, age 88, today and she
told me some of the teachers names at the old Browntown school. She
named Asbury Brown (her uncle) and Marvin McDonald. She said Marvin
McDonald was her first teacher. She said Alice Brown (a cousin)
would fill in when the teacher was absent.
I started to school the first year the new school was opened on Edwards
Street. Ira Brown was the teacher (my uncle). At one time, my
father was on the school board in Dolomite. I did not start to
school until I was eight years old. The usual age was seven years
old, but my mother held me out a year. I went through the eighth
grade at this school. At one time it had a high school, too, but
later the high school students went to Bessemer High School and then later
to Hueytown High School. I went to Bessemer High School and some of
my teachers names were Miss DeWitt, Miss Thomas, Mr. Collier, and
Professor Vance, the principal.
The first service station I remember was where Raymond Vowell had his
station. The building is still there, I do not remember where the
people bought gasoline before Dolomite got a station.
I can remember the first funeral I attended that was not by horse and
buggy, but by automobiles. After the funeral, one woman remarked,
"It looked like they couldn't get him there fast enough".
When I was small, people did not use funeral homes. When a person
died, the neighbors would bathe and dress the deceased. The
Undertaker would bring the coffin to the home. The coffins were made
of wood and the prices varied. My father died in 1922 and he was taken
care of by the neighbors. He had a steel vault, but had a wooden
I don't remember when they started embalming, but they did
do it in 1922. I guess embalming was by choice when it was first started.
I imagine it was like using the funeral homes when they started, it was by
choice. I don't know what the rules are now.
Medicines that my father sold in his store were as follows: Quinine
for chills and fever, Swamp Root for kidney trouble, turpentine for cuts,
etc., kerosene for a nail puncture in the foot. Laudnam for pain.
Laudnam was taken off the shelf because they said it was "dope".
Black Draught was a laxative. Castoria was used for babies to
relax them. Castor Oil was also used back then.
Dolomite received two newspapers, The Birmingham Ledger and The Birmingham
News. They were delivered to the homes of people who subscribed.
Young boys also sold "Grit", a weekly publication. When I
was a small child, there were no radios, etc., We kept up with
things through the daily papers. Mr brother, Wilson S. Brown, was a
carrier for The Birmingham Ledger.
As I remember, early social life in Dolomite consisted of parties, Square
dances, box suppers and spelling bees. The Sweet Gum Flat School was
used for social events after the school closed. I can remember of a
tacky party being held there. Square dances were there. I
cannot remember who did the square dance calling. I just sat by and
watched. We never had square dances at the school on Edwards Streeet
because there wasn't room. By the time I was big enough to
participate, they had quit having square dances.
When I was a small child, a black church was located somewhere in the area
back of where Charlie Zimmerman lives today. A tornado completely
destroyed the building. I'm sorry I do not know where the black
churches were located after this church, but there are more than one
Whe I was a young teenager, J. T. Sloan had a dairy on Owen Circle.
My father bought milk from him for his store.
An ice wagon use to come around once or twice a week to deliver ice to the
homes and stores for their ice boxes. At one time, Dolomite had an
ice house. Raymond Vowell ran a service station for many years.
Today, the main street through the Dolommite areas is dotted with business
of all types. There is a funeral home, Brown-Service West. It
is located in the Hueytown area, but prbably at one time the land was in
Dolomite. I have never really known just where Dolomite ended and
Hueytown began. As stated before, Hueytown took in the Garywood area
Some time after we sold the Garywood land, around 1925, George Knight's
father opened up a store there. George ran the store for many years
after his father died. George just closed his store about 5 years
ago. It was a nice big store and a fine place to trade. George
sold the business instead of closing.
Also in the more recent years, Nan Wilson ran a store, then the Ashecrafts
ran it, then Clowdus. There were others who ran the store, but I do
not know them. I've just mentioned the ones I can recall. The
B&W Auto Parts store is in the building today.
Buchanan ran a hardware store and Barber Shop. Have not been closed
many years. At one time around the 1950's, Ed and Margie Baughn ran
a store in Garywood. The Tennyson's had a cafe there, too.
Clara Posey ran a beauty shop.
Also the Barnes ran a service station in Dolomite. I think it was a
Pan Am. The Whittle's run the station now. It is an Amoco
station. Others may have run the station, but these two are the only
ones I can think of.
Henry Daniel had a small store above me and also Charlie Zimmerman had a
store on Pleasant Grove Road.
New business of all types are here now.
The new I-59 freeway is nearby. One can get on the freeway at
Rutledge Springs just below The Bethlehem Methodist Church and be in
Birmingham or Bessemer in a matter of minutes. Garywood Baptist
Church was built around the late 1940's or early 1950's.
Since the Dolomite Post Office moved to its new location, it has gotten
new customers from people traveling on the main road. Dolomite got
rural mail delivery about three years ago. It was a blessing to the
sick and elderly who could not get to the Post Office to get their mail.
Maybe I should have said house delivery instead of rural delivery, but
anyway prior to this we had to get the mail from the post office.
I have tried to cover as much history as I could think of. I have
not intentionally left anyone or anything out. I just could not
possibly think of everything. I have also tried to give an accurate
account, but if I have made a mistake, it was accidental.
I see I failed to give the name of our present Postmaster. She is
Mrs. Betty McGown. Mrs. McGown is a lovely person and a dedicated
Also I have learned that before the Knight's ran the grocery store in
Garywood that Mr. & Mrs. Paul Gulledge ran the store.
Martha Jean Crain
The following prices were taken from my father's store ledger that I have,
dated 1883-1884. These prices were 1883.
Salt - 5 cents
Watermelon - 5 cents
Shirt -75 cents
Tobacco - 5 cents
Starch - 5 cents
Soda- 5 cents
Dipper - 10 cents
Castor Oil - 10 cents
Cigar - 5cents
Thread - 5 cents
Pepper - 5 cents
Tea - 5cents
Bluing - 5 cents
Bucket - 25 cents
Sugar- 10 cents
Suspenders - 25 cents
Crackers - 5 cents
94# beef at 5 cents $4.70
300# corn at 65 cents per bu. $2.70
Axle grease - 5 cents
1 B Bl. Flour $7.00
1/2 bu. potatoes - 70 cents
Soda Water - 5 cents
1 gal. cider - 50 cents
14# hame at 16 cents $2.25
5# butter at 20 cents lb. $1.00
1/2 bu. meal - 45 cents
To my knowledge, my father's store was the oldest store
in Dolomite. My father sold miners oil to the miners. When
they changed over to carbide lights, he sold them carbide.