Livery stables abounded in area from early to mid-1900s

Published 1:10am Saturday, October 26, 2013

The thought of reviewing the various livery stables from the past that operated in Covington County and Andalusia in particular appealed to this writer. However, very few records have been located, and those who lived during their period of existence are mostly gone. This means it is difficult to have a complete coverage of all the stables, but an effort is made here to identify as many as possible.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, livery stables were a viable and essential business to serve the area farmers and rural residents. These operations offered horses and mules for sale to farmers for plowing, etc. and for transportation. They usually engaged also in selling wagons, carriages, harnesses and other farm related equipment.

The Dunson Livery Stable in Andalusia was one of the earliest and most recognized. There seems to be more available records related to it than any of the others. A report in The Andalusia Times stated that it was located in 1907 on Troy Street about where the former Consumer’s ice plant was operated at a later date. This would have been somewhere in the area of the City’s parking lot located behind the current fire station. The report indicated that George William Dunson Sr. had bought out the stable business operated by W.R. Teel. The new firm was to be known as G.W. Dunson and Son.

About eight years earlier in 1899, The Andalusia Times reported that G.W. Dunson had established and was proprietor of a new livery stable on the left side of the former county jail. It is believed the jail stood at the time somewhat behind the current courthouse and just west of the old red brick jail, which is still standing and in need of restoration. In July 1900, G.W. Dunson sold his stable business to W.D. Cameron of Raleigh, N.C., so he must have gotten back into the same line of business with a new stable in 1907 when Andalusia was beginning to boom with new growth after the coming of the railroads in 1899. It is interesting that Dunson was identified later as one of the first residents of Andalusia to purchase an automobile. He was obviously focused on the matter of transportation.

Dunson appears to have continued in the livery stable business until his untimely death in 1911 at the age of 50. He died from being shot twice by a young man, John Lingold, Jr., using a colt automatic. Lingold is reported to have also been in the livery stable business, so the conflict was most likely related to some type competition. The identity of Lingold’s stable is not known.

Another “flourishing livery stable business” was O’Neal, Law & Company, which was operated by the O’Neal and Law families. It was located adjacent to and north of the current movie theatre and across the street from the court house. Actually, the building stood in the same location and the current O’Neal Insurance Agency and adjacent offices. The large sign over the building indicated the business focused on horses, mules, buggies and wagons. (There is a picture of this business in Gus and Ruby Bryan’s county history.)

It is understood that Frank Smith operated a livery stable, which was located on the corner of Pear Street and South Three Notch Street on the lot where the City Drug Store formerly was in business. Even before that, the Andalusia Opera House, a three-story building constructed by Duncan A. McArtan and D.A. McRainey, stood on that lot before it burned in 1907, but the dates of operation of Smith’s stable are not known.

Another livery stable was located in the alley behind the former city hall and back of the current Brooks’ True Value Hardware. The owner’s identity is not known, but Bert Diamond managed the business. It has been reported that the owners had much respect for Diamond and helped his financially. Also in the same vicinity, Ray Butler and Mr. Darby both operated Feed and Seed businesses. It is believed that the City purchased the surrounding property to use in the construction of the new city hall, which is the current Andalusia Police Department.

Still another stable business was operated by J.W. Shreve in his buildings located on the lot cornered by Court Square and North Cotton Street. A reference was found of a Shreve & Milligan business dealiang in horses, mules, wagons, buggies and harness. By 1950, the business had become J.W. Shreve and Sons Seed Store with an address of 100-106 North Cotton Street.

Toward the end of the era for livery stables, a report in the July 31, 1925 edition of The Covington News announced that a Mr. Echols had located in Andalusia to enter business with a mule stable. The name and location of this operation is not known. During November of that same year, 1925, there is a record of Judge Snead acquired a piece of property near the square where he created a free hitching lot for parking wagons and carriages.

The Town of Red Level had at least three livery stables. There are records of J.D. South and J.W. Payne both operation livery stables in 1901. A newspaper reported in 1907 that “Law, Clark and Company recently completed a new brick livery stable and wagon and buggy depository.” As was the custom, most such stables sold and may have traded mules, sold livestock in some cases, and offered wagons, carriages and related gear.

The Town of Opp boasted of having several livery stables during the early 1900s. The one publicized most was opened in 1901 by Jacob Benton. There was a photo of his business pictured in a 1907 news article. The names of Jake Benton’s Sales and Stable and Jacob Benton-Livery-Feed Sale-Stable were listed at different times. It is reported that John Fleming operated a stable across the street from First National Bank of Opp, which he later sold to William Spurlin. Also, Jeff Adams is believed to have had a stable business in Opp at one time.

Sources for this writing include Gus J and Ruby R. Bryan’s Covington County History-1821-1976, vertical file of Covington County businesses at the Andalusia Public Library and the assistance of Librarian Linda Davis in researching the early newspapers in the county.

Needless to say, this review of the various livery stables, which were operated at one time in Covington County, is incomplete. It will be very much appreciated if anyone has additional information to share on any of those named above or has knowledge of other stable related businesses. Also, anyone who might find any incorrect facts above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.

 

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