First Presbyterian Church, Oldest Church Building in Andalusia
Organized on December 5, 1901, by nine members who met in the old Methodist Church on Church Street. D.A. McArtan was elected as first deacon and N.H. McDonald first elder. During the early years, the church met in the old courthouse, First National Bank, and the Opera House on the corner of Pear and South Three Notch Streets. In 1905, the Caton, Gantt, and Freirson families from River Falls Presbyterian Church merged with the Andalusia group, bringing pews, a pump organ, and establishing the present-day church. The first Sunday School was also organized in 1905. D.A. McArtan and his business partner D.A. McRainey donated the lot on which the current building stands.
Construction on the current building, with its Akron-plan layout and iconic stained glass window, began in 1908; the building was dedicated in 1914. The first minister was F.C. Hartman. An organ purchased in 1929 is still in use today. Many of the church’s furnishings were handcrafted by Andalusia’s Southern Craftsman Furniture Company. Additions in 1949, 1972, and 2003 enlarged the facility. The congregation is a part of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, and has been in both the John Knox Presbytery and the Presbytery of South Alabama. Its members continue to uphold Christ’s teachings while contributing to the spiritual life of Andalusia.
[223 South 3 Notch Street]
Andalusia Railroad Depot
On September 20, 1899, the first Central of Georgia locomotive with a work train arrived in Andalusia over these tracks, which extended to Cotton Street. Track laying was under the supervision of G.L. Burtcheall and C.B. Yancey, with J.N. White in charge of the track men. The Covington Times wrote “the engine stopped within 50 yards of the Courthouse and just sat there and ‘blowed’ for several minutes.” The train was pushed by engine No. 1542 with H.H. Ward as engineer and W.E. Pye, fireman. Service was discontinued on March 31, 1983, with engineer A.M. Evans guiding the last train of empty cars out of the station. The Depot building was completed soon after the turn of the century and, since opening to the public in 1987, serves as headquarters for the Covington Historical Society and its Three Notch Museum. The building, the oldest wooden commercial structure in use within the city, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
Andalusia Becomes the County Seat
The first county seat on the banks south of the falls of the Conecuh River was “Covington Courthouse,” sited soon after the county was created in 1821. In 1826, when John Devereux was postmaster, the name was changed to Montezuma. Early citizens of the area included John Devereux, John Barrow, Dave Bullock, Captain Tatum, Henry Jones, John H. Stone, Samuel Bracken, Samuel Jones, Seaborn Jones, William Spurlin, Samuel Gates, Charles Stanley, and William Carter. After this small community was repeatedly flooded, a new site on top of Devereux Hill was chosen for the county seat in July 1844, and called Andalusia. The choice of name probably reflected the importance of the region’s principal trading center, Pensacola, which was so long ruled by Spain.
The Horse Shoe Lumber Company
E.L. More, president of the A&F Division of the L&N Railroad, arrived in River Falls from Nashville in 1897 to spearhead the construction of a branch line of the L&N. Recognizing a business opportunity in the large quantity of virgin longleaf pine timberland in the area, he purchased a half-interest in a small mill located on Buck Creek near River Falls. He was encouraged by his long-time friend and mentor Major E.C. Lewis, president of the NC & STL Railroad and L&N board member. From this beginning until its closure following the disastrous flood of 1929, the Horse Shoe Lumber Company along the river and near this marker was one of the largest, most modern sawmills of its time. The mill operated an extensive logging rail system using as many as eight locomotives over the years. In addition to More, key mill personnel included his long-time associate Cyrus A. O’Neal as company vice president, Henry Stanley as company secretary, and E.W. Arwood as private secretary to Mr. More. Gus Henderson of Andalusia was mill superintendent. John Miles Cooper, also of Andalusia, served as woods foreman.
Sponsored by the Covington Historical Society, Inc.
[2011: River Falls]
River Falls Power Company
E.L. More organized the River Falls Power Company in 1920 to provide a grid system to furnish electricity to nine counties along the FL/AL state line. Leslie Cheek of Nashville joined More and Cyrus A. O’Neal in providing the start-up capital. More became the company’s president and O’Neal its vice- president, while Henry Stanley served as secretary. The arrival of electricity served as an invitation to industry to locate in the area and More’s own Horse Shoe Lumber Company was one of the earliest customers. More constructed a modern all-electric sawmill on the same site where his old mill had burned in 1924. The power was supplied by the company’s Gantt and Point “A” dams built upstream on the Conecuh River in 1924 and 1926, respectively. To ensure uninterrupted electrical service, a large auxiliary steam plant was added to the system in River Falls. A third dam up the Patsalagi was envisioned for the future by the company, but those plans were abandoned after the 1929 flood.
Sponsored by the Covington Historical Society, Inc.
Andrew Jackson in Seminole War with an army of 1200 camped here in May 1818 en route westward from Fort Gadsden to subdue marauding Indians abetted by Spaniards at Pensacola. Jackson determined to seize Pensacola and thus altered the course of history on the continent.
[1996: 3rd St. South, Florala, 31.00125N 86.32892W]
On December 18, 1821, the Alabama General Assembly appointed Covington County commissioners William Carter Jr., James R. Mobley, Aaron Lockhart, Henry Jones, and Abel Polk "to fix and designate a suitable place for a seat of Justice, and to contract for, and superintend the erection of such public buildings" as necessary for the use of the county. Originally known as Covington Court House, the county seat was named Montezuma by 1824 and was located on the banks of the Conecuh River near this site. Due to repeated flooding, the seat of justice was moved to present day Andalusia in 1844 and Montezuma was eventually abandoned.
[2005: Hwy 84 near River Falls, 31.34398N 86.52482W]