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   Est. 1882
History of Baileyton
 

Baileyton's roots go back to the Reconstruction days when some dirt farmers from Georgia and Tennessee, including Robert Bailey who was later to lend his name to the settlement, veered off the beaten path and homesteaded the virgin wilderness some five miles south of the Marshall County line and five miles east of Morgan County. On April 16, 1870, Robert Bailey bought forty acres of land (just south of the present Post Office and now bisected by Hwy. 69) for $1.50 per acre from the L&N Railroad.

Over the next two decades, axes wielded by Robert Bailey, Franklin Guthrie, Tom McClarty, Lynn Pope, Matt Blackman, John Walker, Gilbert C. Cordell, Matt Heaton, W. A. Albritton, W. H. Martin, Bob Worthy and others converted the forests into crude log cabins and rough frame houses. Cleared land on which cotton, corn, potatoes, oats, tobacco, peas, cattle and sheep were raised surrounded this land.

The Farmer's Alliance, a statewide farmer’s organization, established a County Alliance Store at Baileyton in the 1880's. Thomas McClarty, a prominent local farmer, saw miller and politician, was named manager of the store which was located in the southeast corner of the present junction. J. D. and Will Albritton owned a third general merchandise store. J. W. Holmes operated a sawmill and gristmill in 1889 and Dr. Gregler had a medical practice in the community.

In January 1889, W. M. Barber petitioned the county for better roads from Baileyton to Cullman "because the area was becoming thickly populated and the roads were so narrow wagons had to go into the woods to pass."

Thanks to our founders for starting such a great community to live in. In the following pages you will find that Baileyton is a thriving community with much to offer. You will learn about the governing body, lodge, Fire and EMS, schools, church and annexation of the town.

 

TOWN GOVERNMENT

The town of Baileyton was incorporated on January 31, 1973 with a mayor-council form of government. Mr. A. R. (Rolfe) Burks, a Baileyton native, served as mayor from 1973 until his death in 1990. Members of the first town council included: Bobby Martin, Burl Shedd, Ralph Walker, James Howell and Leon McElroy. Others serving on the council down through the years include: Robert Roper, Troyce Hadley, Roy Shedd and Greg Hendrix. Billy John White served as town clerk from 1973-1990.

Following Mayor Burks' death, Dr. Paul C. Bailey, great-grandson of Baileyton's founder, Robert Bailey, was to fill the remaining two years of Mr. Burks' unexpired term. Mayor Bailey was elected to a four-year term in 1992, re-elected in 1996 and again in 2000. Council members for the term 1996-2000 included Bobby Martin, James Fulmer, Joe Golden, Wendell Guthrie and Joe Hendrix were elected for the 1996 – 2000 term. The Town of Baileyton recently elected its government officials to include: Wendell Guthrie, Bobby Martin, Sandra Parker, Donald VanZandt, and Joe Golden. Mrs. Ruth Walker Rodgers has served as town clerk since 1990.

The present town hall was purchased from Walker Brothers Building Supply in 1975. Two years later the Town purchased 43 acres of land from the Sam Guthrie estate and began developing a park.. It was officially named the A. R. Burks Recreational Park in honor of the town's first mayor. One of the first official acts of the new town council under the leadership of Mayor Rolfe Burks, was to purchase a brand new fire truck. Lige Ryan owned the first cotton gin in the area, followed by Robert Bailey. Both were operated by mules and required a whole day to gin one bale of cotton.

Some accomplishments of the residing government include the new Post Office that was moved into in 1998, Peoples bank opened a branch in the Baileyton SuperMarket, the Baileyton Pharmacy opened in 1999, Baileyton Medical Clinic opened its doors in 1996 and 23.5 acres of land was purchased by the town for an Industrial Park to be established. At the present time, three businesses reside on this land. The businesses include: Custom Impressions, Accu-pak and Parkside Restaurant. Plans are in the process for growth at the Industrial park and also Peoples Bank is building at the intersection of Alabama Hwy 69 and Fire Station Road across from the Post Office.

 

POST OFFICE

The name of Baileyton was bestowed upon the Post Office established on August 21, 1882, with John Tilley as postmaster. It was discontinued to Ryan on April 6, 1883 and re-established six months later with Gilbert C. Cordell as postmaster. The Post Office was located in Cordell's general merchandise store just west of the present Post Office on the Baileyton-Fairview road (adjoining the old Loda G. Burks property.) The two-story frame building is believed to be Baileyton's first store. Old photos with the Post Office sign out front show that it was later owned by W. H. Martin whose daughter, Marietta, was postmistress from 1899 to 1907.

John B. Burks contracted for a Star Route from Cullman to Warrenton in 1891 and established headquarters at Baileyton. The route to Warrenton in Marshall County by way of Joppa, May Apple, Arab and Grassy, and a second route to Cullman by way of Welcome, Etha, Lloyd and Simcoe established the first daily mail service between the two-points. Carriers were Loda G. Burks and F. E. Burks who carried the mail in saddlebags on horseback.

Two rural routes were established in 1904 with L. G. Burks and J. L. Taylor as carriers. Within a year, two routes served by T. B. Hodge and J. H. Smith had been added. Early transportation was by horse and buggy. The routes were later consolidated and L. G. Burks served as carrier. Both E. W. Tipton (1905-1938) and E. M. Hancock (1938-65) have the distinction of serving this route for three decades.

The Baileyton Post Office was moved into the first Post Office building on the main highway in 1936. It was a fourth class station until July 1944, when it became a third class facility, which is the present status. A new building on the original site (Hwy. 69) was opened in 1968. The one rural route covered 59 miles daily in 1972.

In 1998, Baileyton Post Office was modernized when we saw the doors of our new Post Office open for the first time. The Post Master is Patty Harbaugh. The facility is centrally located at the intersection of Alabama Hwy. 69 and Fire Station Road.

 

 

SCHOOL

Local citizens built a subscription school around 1885. The one-room unpainted frame building was located across the road north of the cemetery on land donated by Gilbert C. Cordell. Professor Doggett taught the school in 1888-89. Prof. B. C. Burks, P. P. McAnnally, Miss Daisy Ryan and Miss Ollie Burden were among the teachers in the 1890's. Fifty students were enrolled during the winter session of 1900.

In 1916, a two-story, four-room school was built east of the present post office (on property now owned by Howard Burden.) The school went to the eleventh grade but was reduced to nine grades around 1927. Two additional rooms were added when Mt. Pisgah and Eidson Chapel schools were consolidated with Baileyton in 1930-32.

An appearance at this school in 1936 by an unknown entertainer named Sarah Ophelia Colley of Centreville, Tenn. led to the birth of one of the (Nashville) Grand Ole Opry's most famous and beloved stars who related the story on a national television program, "This Is Your Life," in 1957.

It all began when a local couple, Jim and Matilda Burden, went up to Miss Colley after the show and invited her to spend a few days with them. During the visit, Mrs. Burden entertained her guest with many homespun tales told in a pure southern style. When Miss Colley later repeated the stories to her friends in Tennessee, they were delighted and kept urging her to repeat them at every opportunity. Gradually, Miss Colley created a comedy act which she made famous as Minnie Pearl. After joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1940, Miss Colley (now Mrs. Henry Cannon) returned for a show date at Minnie Pearl's birthplace.

The Hulaco School was consolidated with Baileyton in 1947. Two years later, a modern brick and glass with eight classrooms and a combination-auditorium was constructed on the site of a former air strip across the road west of the cemetery. A lunchroom was added in 1953, followed by a library and additional classrooms in 1964. The gymnasium was severely damaged when a tornado ripped through the area in 1977. Extensive renovations were made along with repairs.

The 1970-71 enrollment was 228 students. James W. Meherg was Principal over eight faculty members, a librarian and one Head Start teacher with twelve preschoolers.

Following a tornado on February 16, 1994, which completely destroyed the Joppa school, the faculty and 80 students were transferred to the Baileyton school and housed in temporary classrooms for the remainder of the 1993-94 school year. The Joppa faculty and students officially consolidated with Baileyton at the beginning of the 1994-95 school year under the leadership of Edward Dahlke, principal at Baileyton.

Due to a countywide mandate by the State Board of Education, the ninth grade of all Jr. High Schools in Cullman County were transferred to area high schools at the beginning of the 1996-97 school year. Baileyton thus became a kindergarten through eighth grade facility with a student enrollment of 251. There are currently sixteen teachers and one aide in nine classrooms in the main building and four portable classrooms. Other staff members include a part-time librarian, two part-time custodians and five full-time lunchroom workers.

A new school for grade kindergarten through eight has been constructed and moved into during January 1998. Dr. and Mrs. Myron McEachern of Tampa, Florida donated forty-two acres of land for the new school in memory of Mrs. McEachern's father, Jesse Smith, whose father originally settled the property. The entire tract of property, located across from Baileyton Methodist Church at the junction of Highway 69 and Grandiflora Road, was deeded by the Town of Baileyton to the Cullman County School Board as the site for the new school. The C. D. Walker family of Baileyton (owners of Walker Brothers LTD., ) made a contribution of $2,000,000 toward the construction of the new school.

Parkside School was moved into in February of 199 with Mr. Edward Dahlke at the helm. After a successful start to a new school, Mr. Dahlke retired in the summer of 1999 and now enjoys farming and traveling. Mr. Ronald Barnes was hired in 1999 to take over as Principal of Parkside School. Mr. Barnes is a Graduate of Jacksonville State, Alabama A&M and the University of Alabama. Parkside presently has 335 students. Some folks say that Parkside has the best lunches in Cullman County.

 

 

CHURCHES

The Baileyton Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1881, in the home of Robert Bailey. As attendance outgrew the small quarters, services were moved to the Bailey cotton gin located just south of the present Post Office.

The Methodist congregation transferred worship services from the cotton gin to the school house after its establishment in 1885. Fifteen years later, a handsome clapboard church with a tall steeple was built west of the general merchandise store/Post Office building on the Baileyton/Fairview road. The land was purchased from J.W. Holmes and trustees W.M. Ward, J. B. Burks and John Ogletree signed the deeds, dated August 21, 1900. Witnesses were A.H. Holder, R. M. Biggers, and S. A. McClarty.

The Rev. G. C. McGlathery (1885) and the Rev. George W. Green (1887) are the first pastors of which there is a record. A parsonage was built behind the Elrod cotton gin on land donated by Jacob Elrod sometime during this period. For several years the Baileyton Charge was made up of the Baileyton, Fairview, Pleasant Grove, Pleasant Ridge, Holly Pond, Joppa and Higgins Chapel (Brooklyn churches. Fairview and Holly Pond were removed when their parsonages were built. Union Hill was added in 1943. Pleasant Ridge, located in the edge of Morgan County was discontinued in 1949.

A storm severely damaged the Baileyton Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1946. The following year a block church with full basement was erected at the present site on the Cullman-Guntersville Hwy (69) north of the Post Office. Brick veneer, a completely remodeled sanctuary, classrooms, kitchen facilities and central heat and air conditioning were added in 1966. A parsonage home next to the church was purchased in 1950. It was sold in 1971. A new brick parsonage located on the Brooklyn-Holly Pond road was built in 1981 on property originally owned by the son of the church's founder.

 

 

BAILEYTON CEMETERY

The oldest marked grave in the Baileyton cemetery is that of Jeana Burden, infant daughter of J. W and A. P. Burden, who died August 29, 1886. Family names in this cemetery include Bailey, Burden, Burks, Cordell, Elrod, Ford, Guthrie, Hendrix, Jones, Tipton, Allen, Anderson, Lambert, Oliver, Hadley, Harris, Walker, Williams, White and others. In 1987 the Baileyton Cemetery was incorporated and following this a committee, headed by Dr. Paul Bailey began raising funds to establish perpetual care for the cemetery. This fund currently holds $37,000. The land is a community cemetery that was not deeded until 1935. The land is a 1-acre lot that was previously owned by H.E. Martin and Ross Lumber Company, who sold the land to Baileyton for $50 each ½ acre. The idea for the land deed was brought about by Mr. Ernest Tipton, grandfather of James Hoyt Tipton.

Although many of Robert Bailey's descendants are buried here, he and his wife, Mary Ford Bailey, are buried at Summit cemetery in Marshall County. Robert Bailey died in 1885.

 

 

LODGE

A petition for Baileyton Masonic Lodge No. 472 dated March 3, 1889, was signed by James M. Heaton, Thomas M. Entrekin, B. J. Garrison, W. C. Winn, John W. McKelvey, J. W. Chambers and James K. P. McCasley. It was recommended by Cullman Lodge No. 421 as the Mother Lodge, and the charter was granted on Dec. 3, 1890. James Heaton was elected the first Master. The old Masonic building in the southeast corner of the crossroads was one of Baileyton's earliest landmarks. The first floor of the two-story building housed a general merchandise store until it was razed and replaced by a brick building in 1964. The Baileyton chapter is the third oldest Masonic Lodge in the county. The Baileyton Order of the Eastern Star was organized in 1947.

Dr. John T. Winn, a native of Georgia, established a medical practice and drug store in 1898 and served the community until 1936. Joseph Elrod brought a shingle factory to the community in 1900. Shortly thereafter, Robert and Jacob Elrod established a cotton gin in the present location on the Baileyton-Fairview road. It was destroyed by arson in 1929 and rebuilt. It remained in operation until the 1960's. When cotton production in the area began to dwindle as poultry and cattle production grew. The Empire Nursery, established north of Baileyton in 1926, by R. L. Baker, was among the first in the state. Mr. Baker, who came to Baileyton in 1896, moved to California in 1913 and entered the nursery business. He then came back to Baileyton and started an apple orchard against the advice of experts who warned that the soil and climate were not right. He also scorned the advice of experts and grew pecans. These same experts were later to pronounce Baker's fruits and nuts to be among the finest in the United States.

In 1930, he planted an experimental apple orchard with about thirty varieties to test the adaptation of northern varieties in the south. He then crossed northern and southern varieties to get the best qualities of both and some that were suited to this region. By 1939, he had nearly 100 varieties that showed great promise. Baker also crossbred twenty-five varieties of peaches and developed nearly one hundred new ones in an effort to produce peaches suitable for every soil and climate in the United States.

The business section of Baileyton has expanded greatly over the years. In 1970, boasted a modern supermarket, two general merchandise stores, two Laundromats, four beauty shops, two barber shops, two garages, a radio-TV repair shop, a butane gas company, cafe, building construction and supply (with sixty employees), cotton gin, horse stables, tin shop, four nurseries, fabric shop, furniture store, trading stamp redemption store and drag strip.

Forty-nine members chartered the Baileyton Civitan Club on April 10, 1971. James Meherg was elected the first president.

 Town Annexation

In 1991-92, the town annexed some additional areas into the town limits, bringing the official population to 614. This population increase raised the total revenue for the town to more than $200,000 annually.

The town purchased twenty-five acres of land on Highway 69 from George and Willie Screws in 1992 for the development of an industrial park. Two commercial buildings were constructed in 1995. An access road was constructed in 1996 with an $80,000 grant from the State Department of Transportation. One of these was occupied by a company employing----people in December 1996.

At the town's request in 1996, the State Department of Transportation widened Highway 69 to provide a turn lane through the business section. Curbs and gutters were also constructed. The town also constructed a building adjacent to Baileyton Town Hall in 1996, to house a medical clinic staffed by personnel from the Cullman Internal Medicine Group. The clinic officially opened November 1, 1996 and currently serves an average of twenty persons per day.

Baileyton is a thriving community with a number of small businesses. The largest single business is Walker Brothers, LTD. which has around 200 employees with an annual payroll of $6 million in 1996.  A new postal facility has been constructed at the northeast junction of Highway 69 and Fire Station Road on the site formerly owned by E. W. Tipton.   It was completed in 1997 and moved into immediately thereafter.  A new Peoples Bank is being constructed on the Northwest corner of Alabama Highway 69N and Fire Station Road. With much hard work and dedication from the community, Baileyton will continue to grow and prosper.

 
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