Fruitvale

Early settlers of Fruitvale were the Williams families from North Carolina by way of Wilson County, Tennessee. The exact date of their arrival is not known, but Nathaniel and Jeremiah Williams bound themselves to pay Edward Williams two barrels of corn per acre on all the ground they planted in corn and cotton, and one dollar per acre for all the small grain planted. This was in March of 1836. Nathaniel Williams purchased 635 acres in District 9 of Madison County. The center of this tract is located about one and one-fourth miles east of Fruitvale.

Nathaniel's wife was Gilley Cooley. Her sister, Malinda, married Gray B. Medlin and they, too, came to Crockett County. Many Medlin descendants still live in the county.

By 1850, three of Nathaniel's children had married, and swven remained at home. A daughter, Wealthy, married Henry Blurton. Sons of Nathaniel were: Wesley, Winfield, Wyat, Woodson, Wilson, Whitfield, W. D. "Dock", W. P. "Pony", W. S. Shug". Thos directly descended and still living in Fruitland are Carl Wayne Williams, Edward Williams, Hiawatha Williams, Leon Williams, Jim Williams, and Mrs. Earl Dunlap.

Nathaniel's son, W. P. "Pony", married first Julia Ann Eliza Edwards, and his second wife was Almedia Louisa Jackson, daughter of Elisha Jackson, also one of the first settlers. Pony's children by the first marriage were Tiny and Lemuel Ammon. By the second wife the children were Dena, Lizzie, Zab, Ernest, Ethel, Cora, Allie, Otto, Laudell, Lurline, Claude, and Chester. Many descendants remain today in Fruitvale, across the county and other states. Pony Williams cared for many victims during the small pox epidemic soon after the Civil War. Many of the victims were attended in a one-room log house on the southeast corner of the original Nathaniel Williams 635 acre tract. When a victim died, Mr. Williams and an elderly colored man would carry them out for burial, Mr. Williams riding along in front to warn people to move away from the road. Crockett County later had another epidemic for the County Court called a meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 1900, to take action relative to small pox.

Direct descendants of W. P. and Almedia Louisa Jackson Williams totaled 169 in 1971, and in 1971 there were 139 still living. Dan Williams, son of Claude, has written a booklet on the Williams family and much of our information has come from him. There are more people carrying the name of Williams in Crockett County today than those bearing any other name.

The first Crockett County magistrates from the Fruitvale community were John E. Pearson and T. B. Casey.

Henry Bluron, b. 1813 married Wealthy Williams, b. 1819. They were married in Wilson County and came west with her parents. Their children married into the Kenner, Medlin, Faulkner, Permenter, and Mayfield families. You will find their descendants all over the county. Those bearing the Blurton name are mostly in the southeast portion of the county. Mrs. Idella, widow of Gald Blurton, is among the oldest members of the family. She is now eighty-seven, a wonderfully interesting person to talk with, and an artist of some note. She has painted many pictures, and done artwork for several churches.

Joseph A. Bedwell came from Carroll County in 1899 to Crockett County. He boarded with Mr. Clinton Scarborough and taught school. He taught for many, many years, and today there are many teachers in the family. His daughter, Erin, married Dorse Leggett of the Fruitvale Community. Miss Erin has written many articles for the newspapers and at least one book. The Leggett children were Garland, Nathalie, Joe Leonard, Merlin, Clifton, Madeline, and Bennie Faye. Most of them still live in Crockett County or in nearby counties.

An ad in the "Alamo Sentinel" in 1900 says that T. P. Taylor has moved to Fruitvale and will deal in drygoods, notions, boots, shoes, a full line of staple groceries, and will take country produce in exchange for groceries. He must not have remained long for his name is missing from the businesses listed in the 1903 directory. This 1903 list included these businesses: Marlow Bros. Grocery; Nelson, Raines, & Scarborough Groc.; J. R. Jackson and Co. Dry Goods and Groceries; W. Z. Williams, blacksmith; R. N. Raines, express agent; R. W. Riggins & Co., Sawmill.

It seems that Fruitvale has had three names. It was first called Jackson Hollow, for Elisha Jackson, one of the earliest settlers. Later it bore the name of "The Switch". In 1874, a post office was commissioned there and the name seems to have been changed to Fruitvale at that time. The name must have come from the fact that so many vegetables and fruits were shipped from there.

A list of all those who have served as postmaster is not available to us at this time, but in 1906, Mr. J. O. Boyd was appointed postmaster. He served continuously as postmaster for forty-five years, until his retirement. Mr. Boyd began business with his brother, Oscar Boyd, in Fruitvale in 1906. They were related to the Boyds who came very early to the Center Community. When World War II began, Mr. Oscar Boyd entered the armed service. When he returned from the war, he did not again re-enter business with his brother.

Mr. J. O. Boyd seems to have bought and sold everything - hardware, groceries, dry goods, fertilizer, coal, and in modern times he a added electrical appliances. He had several warehouses filled with goods. He bought produce, cabbage, tomatoes, berries, beans, and sweet potatoes. That area seems to have been the sweet potato capital of Crockett County. He shipped all these things in carload lots. All the people of the community must have helped during the peak of the shipping season each summer. As many as eight railroad cars of green wrapped tomatoes have been shipped in a sigle day in years past. Mr. Boyd als acquired a vast amount of land and raised many cattle and hogs. His niece, Mrs. Merlin Leggett, began working for him when she was about twelve years old and worked for about nine years. Her sister, Mrs. Geneva Emerson, also worked for him and continues to work for Mr. Q. W. Boyd, his successor. Cecil Stewart, of Alamo, got a lot of experience working there in the summers. Mrs. Lonnie Boyd was also a clerk for a long time. Elmer Brassfield was a clerk for many years, and people still remember his piano playing. Probably the one who worked the longest was Mrs. Malcolm Emerson. She was both clerk and bookkeeper.

Mr. Boyd died July 4, 1971, at the age of ninety. Relatives still in Fruitvale include Bill Emerson and his family, Joe Emerson and his family, Mrs. Geneva Emerson. Mrs. Lonnie May Leggett is a niece living in Gadsden.

Mr. Q. W. Boyd assumed ownership of the business after Mr. Boyd died. The business still has anything you would need to buy, almost. They still sell dry goods, groceries, well supplies, hardware, and fertilizer. Mrs. Geneva Emerson is still working as a clerk for Mr. Quentin.

After Mr. J. O. Boyd retired as postmaster in 1951, Mr. Malcolm Emerson became the postmaster, and has held the office to the present time.

Mr. Dorse Leggett ran a store for a long time up on the highway. This store is now operated by his daughter, Mrs. Nathalie Yearwood. The store is known as Leggett's Grocery.

Mr. Clarence Nelson ran a store on the south side of the highway for many years, but has now retired and the store is vacant.

Like all other country communities in the county, Fruitvale has lost its school. The children go two ways, some to Bells, and some to Gadsden. The old school building now serves as a community center for community meetings

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The preceding article was contributed to this web page, with permission of the Crockett County Historical Society, by Natalie Huntley.

This information was taken from an article compiled and written by Mrs. C. C. James, and, published in the book "Crockett County Courthouse Centennial, 1874 - 1974" , prepared by the Crockett County Historical Society.

This article is not to be reprinted, or used for any commercial purposes.

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© Natalie Huntley - April 27, 2000.

Saturday, 29-Apr-2000 12:27:54 MST