Nichols was Wing#039;s first postmaster

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 23, 2002

In today's column some history and families of the Wing community will be presented. This small, rural town developed early on in the southwestern section of Covington County. Wing, located about two miles north of the Florida State line on Highway 137, was settled even before the War Between the States by a Mr. Taylor. Following the war he sold his home and property to John Ashberry Nichols, a Confederate Veteran who came to the area following the war circa 1869 and contributed significantly to its development.

The community first became known as Payson, and in 1889, John Nichols was appointed Postmaster of the new Payson Post Office. (The nearest post office at the time was several miles west at Bradley.) Nichols was a farmer who acquired considerable land holdings. He also operated a sawmill in the community. A blacksmith shop was established in 1899 when the Dallas Cotton family moved into the area. The Cotton family also operated a store at a later date.

Some of the early families, other than Taylor, Nichols and Cotton, who settled in the Wing area were King, Thompson, Davis, Smith, Leonard, Lundy, Baker, Barton and Adkinson.

In 1899 and 1900, the Simpson Lumber Company of Bagdad, Fla., established a logging camp there under the supervision of a man who was named Wing. Thus, the camp was referred to by that name, and eventually the entire community adopted it. The name of the post office was changed, but it was moved to Falco in 1903 when that new town was booming. John W. Davis became postmaster and served until he was replaced a few months later by Dennis D. Miles. Miles served from 1912 to 1923 at which time Henry Cross succeeded him. Edward F. Hamby took over on June 8, 1929, and he was succeeded by Mrs. Gertrude A. Holloway on Sept. 18, 1929.

Many years later when Falco became a "ghost town," the post office was moved back to Wing in 1947. Mrs. Holloway was still holding the office, and she was followed by Marian Davis. Some years later Burnette Bryan Smith became postmaster. The current postmaster is JoEllen Dixon Grissett.

Wing benefited from the growth of Falco and expanded some itself during those "booming days." Some of the earliest businesses included a cotton gin, turpentine still, blacksmith shop, general stores and the Wing Bargain House with cafe. The names of some of the stores were Thompson, Spicer, Thorn, Cotton and Hughes.

One of the families who lived in Wing for several generations were the Nichols descendants. The first ancestor, John Ashberry Nichols,

in the area was the son of William E. and Elizabeth (Hanchey) Nichols. He was born April 3, 1843, probably in Pike County. He served in the Confederate Army as a private in the 11th Florida Infantry Regiment in Campbellton, Florida. He later transferred to Co. E, 4th Alabama Infantry in 1864. He fought in the following battles: Ft. Harrison, Ft. Gilmer, Darbytown Road and Williamsburg Road. At the end of the war he was released from prison at Quincy, Fla.

John was married to Leey Amanda Adkison on December 18, 1865. Amanda, the daughter of John E. and Lettie (Helms) Adkison, was born April 10, 1839. After they were married, they lived in Randolph County, Ga., where their first two children were born. Julia Amanda was born in 1866, and Ellen Nora Elizabeth was born in 1868. The family appears to have moved to Wing during the next year or so as the third child, John William Ingram, was born there in 1870. Joel Thomas Jefferson was born in 1874.

John and Amanda's children lived in and began their families in Wing. Julia married William David Willingham, and they resided a short distance down the Bradley Road. They were blessed with four children. Ellen Nora was married to Daniel Griffin Sweeney. They lived in the area for a number of years and had 11 children. John William married Fronie Early first and later, Amanda King. Between the two wives he was blessed with 11 children.

The fourth child, Joel Thomas, was married to Sarah Margaret "Mag" Stewart in 1897, and they lived all their lives in Wing. John was a farmer and owned a sizable tract of land, which he homesteaded. He had the following children: Bettie Estelle, b. 1897, m. Charles O. Burge; Blanche England, b. 1899, m. Noah Cunningham; Plez Delacy, b. 1902, m. Cora Niblack; Effie Beatrice, b. 1904, m. Walter D. Cotton; Lucy Elaine, b. 1907, d. 1977, single; Percy Miles, b. 1909, m. 1955 Inez Bulger; and Reuben Gordon, b. 1911, d. 1983, m 1951 Kate Harrelson.

Joel and Sarah had celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary before his death on Oct. 16, 1963, at the age of 89. Sarah passed away on July 14, 1980, at the astounding age of 100 years. They were probably buried in the Nichols or Wing Cemetery where so many of their relatives have been buried.

On Oct. 24, 1950, the First Missionary Baptist Church of Wing was organized. The property including the former building was acquired from G. Balkom. Charter members included the following: Burl Sconiers, John and Burnell Tillman, Hubert and Antha Partain, Margaret Sloan, W.H. and Bonnie Tramill, Julia Balkom, and Carrie, Ruth, Collis and Betty Thorn. The first minister called was Ike Williams of Andalusia. The church has been described as being democratic and independent in its government. The current church is located in front of the Nichols Cemetery where many of the early citizens of Wing were buried.

Currently, Wing is an incorporated town, which has its own post office and volunteer fire department. At present the following businesses are the only ones being operated in the immediate area: T.J.'s British Petroleum Country General Store, operated by Joe and Kathy Grimes and Cathy Jacob's Day Lilly Garden.

Sources for the above are Gus and Ruby Bryan's "History of Covington County, 1821-1976" and a small newspaper entitled "Those Special Memories of Falco, Beda, and Wing," which was written some years earlier by citizens of the area. Any corrections to this writing would be appreciated.

The Town of Falco and some of its residents will be presented in the next column. Anyone who might have information on the community or the families who resided there or in Wing is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email:


Minta Forester is seeking the significance of the nickname "Vealey" used in the Gantt family. Contact her via Email at


The Covington Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 29, at the Andalusia Public Library.

Author Larry Williamson will be the guest speaker.


The annual Thomasson Traces Family Reunion is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 24, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Cedar Grove Church of Christ Fellowship Hall, located on the Brooklyn Road. All Thomasson relatives and friends are encouraged to attend and bring a covered dish dinner. All paper goods and ice will be furnished.

The annual Foley Family Reunion will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, beginning at 10 a.m. at Rob and Lucille Foley's cabin near Danely's Crossroads. All relatives and friends are encouraged to attend and bring a covered dish.

Editor's note: Readers are encouraged to submit items related to genealogy which may be of interest to our readers.

Content may include genealogical queries, related events such as family reunions, or other brief write-ups related to family history and research.

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