Coffee - Barlar - Austin - Thurman family reunion of 1953
This is a graphic rendition of the old antebellum home as I remember it though the portico might not have been as wide. It was located south of (little) Hatton.
School in East Colbert County Alabama. At Hatton School travel one mile south and on the right about 100 yards off the road you will see the remaining Pecan grove. The house was a stately old two story mansion of about 5,000 square feet with 20 foot ceilings. They always said it was built in the 1840s. It had a cellar under the home with access from the outside to help preserve foods.
The cemetery on the backside of the property is called the Stanley Cemetery probably after the family that founded the home then as a slave plantation around 1840 when there was a major expansion of that in the south. Between 1861 and 1865 slavery had ceased. The surnames on the gravestones are Stanley with Nathan & Ellen Stanley born about 1780 being the first born. The family graveyard is back on a hill 500 yards to the south west. No doubt the Stanley family had connections to this home as it was common practice to bury their dead on their own property on a hillside in back of the place.
The home had a large star high upon the Gable as pictured above. The story was that, during the Civil War the Union soldiers came thru looking for homes to burn. When they saw the star they spared the home because of the large star being on the upper front gable of the house. The soldiers then converted it into a Civil War hospital instead to treat casualties of the war.
The old house was sparsely occupied in the 1950s and it was deathly quiet around it. We as kids passed by the place on the way to school or to the Streit's Store at Hatton. Some great old ghost tales came out of that old home for the six children of Paul & Ruby Lee Austin to stimulate our literary imaginations. The older ones often teased the younger ones with often mentioned tall tales. One such tale was that if you were to climb up the creaky stairwell, at the top in one of the many upper rooms would be found a bloody hand lying around. It was said to be from an amputation done during the Civil War. At night there were no street lights, no sound of cars running up and down the road, just the eerie & lonely sounds of the night punctuated with the call of the whippoorwill, Screech Owl and maybe the yapping sound of a distant fox. Adding to this was the children's imaginations, especially if the old place was approached at night. It is hard for us to imagine this today being constantly surrounded by the noise of cities.
At one point in its history the old home was converted into a large dairy operation and was affiliated with the Streit Milk Company. George Streit a son of Sam Streit who was the owner of this home at that time converted it into a dairy farm. and in 1933 George became involved with a Milk processing & distribution plant in nearby Sheffield Alabama. This operation was around when the milkman came by door to door delivering fresh milk. Some of the old barns are still standing today on this place. The old house eventually suffered at the hands of neglect & time. What remains today 2007 is a flattened pile of decaying timbers & the roof lying flat on the ground. I visited the old graveyard several years ago known as the Stanley Cemetery. To my dismay I found no gravestones. However, I recently figured out that I had perhaps visited a different grove of trees. I think I went to what is believed to be a Slave Graveyard which today has no marked graves. Either all the stones fell and sunk below the ground or they were destroyed by falling limbs or vandals. The Slave Graveyard is about a 100 yards southwest of the Stanley Cemetery. Later I found and catalogued the Stanley Cemetery (here) and the Slave Graveyard can be seen on the maps too as the second over grove of trees.
A recent conversation with Albert Streit reveals these conclusions of 1950s & earlier history of the Mt Pleasant, Hatton School & Old Brick Communities of east Colbert County Al.
The fishermen and Bud Willie Streit., Short entertaining accounts in the lives of the Austin/Medley & Streit families
To my recollection there was at one time a written history of this home and its old cemetery in the Tuscumbia Public Library. It was a loose pages assembled in scrap book fashion. That makes it very fragile and also subject to pilferage since the genealogy room there was open to the public to come and go with no review. I visited the Tuscumbia Library and they no longer have the history book in the genealogy room or anywhere. It was probably destroyed or pilfered before 19 Oct 2009.
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