Falco and its residents resulted from timber industry
Published 12:00 am Friday, August 30, 2002
The community of Falco was born around the turn of the century when the timber industry was flourishing in the area. The fine virgin timber growing along the southern border of Covington County drew the eyes of those in that business. A group of bankers and businessmen from Pensacola joined to build a large sawmill, the Florida-Alabama Land Company; thus, the name Falco was created.
The primary owners of the mill were Jesse McLain, Willie Hyer, Mr. Kyser and Mr. Mouldon. The mill was built on the Stokes Mill Pond, a large, deep body of water. This obviously determined the location of the community and town of Falco. This was a site only a few miles northeast of Wing, which was described in last week's column.
The little town grew and prospered right away with the success of the sawmill. The town site was surveyed and streets were laid out and named. The new town was incorporated and Hilary Thompson became the first mayor. The Post Office was established and named Falco in 1903 with John W. Davis as the first postmaster. He was succeeded by Dennis D. Miles who was followed by Henry Albert Cross.
In a very short time several hundred people had become residents, and a lively little town was born. There was a sizable business section with a number of businesses operating out of nice, brick buildings. (The only one of those still standing today is the bank building.) The Falco Bank was organized fairly early, and John Richburg was the first cashier followed by John Steele.
Other businesses included the Falcola Bottling Company, which was built during the early 1900s by Dan Stokes. The bottled drinks were delivered to surrounding communities in several counties by mules and wagons. (This writer would very much like to know if anyone might have available a bottle from this company. The Stokeses who operated it were relatives to him.) The Stokes Gristmill, owned by John W. Stokes, had been operating since before the War Between the States.
Joe and Ike Berman and Mr. King operated general merchandise stores, and M. Rich owned a hardware store. The following men operated grocery stores: G. Balkum, Owen Reeves and Olem R. Thweatt. In 1912, a 40-room hotel was built by the Falco Lumber Company. Some records indicate Mr. J.T. Holt was the first operator, but others name Mrs. Garrett. Later managers included Mrs. Hicks, Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. J.L. (Ora) Hamby. The spacious downstairs featured a large, elegant dining room, which was used regularly for social events. On rare occasions a band would travel by train from Pensacola to provide enjoyable entertainment. Guests rooms, which were mostly upstairs, were well equipped with comforts of the time and rented for $20 each night. There was no need for the hotel after the mill was destroyed. It was carefully taken down and hauled to Opp to be used in constructing the Old Covington Hotel, which later became the Covington Manor Nursing Home.
There were several doctors who provided medical services to the community. It appears that Dr. Bedsole and Dr. J.H. Johnson were the first mill physicians. They were followed by Dr. H.W. Waters who came in 1913. Dr. Waters established a telephone system with party lines, which served surrounding communities including Andalusia. He also operated a drug store before he moved to Opp in 1926. During his last years in Falco, he moved his pharmacy business and medical office into the bank building after the banking business had folded. Upon moving he sold the drug store to C.D. Holt, and it became the Holt Drug Company. Other physicians who served the area included Dr. Ralph Lindsey and Dr. Nick Stallworth, and Dr. Robinson served the community as a dentist. Great efforts were made toward fighting a devastating flu epidemic in 1918 when a soldier returning from World War I became the first case.
Obviously, the railroads were brought to the new community and these contributed significantly to its development. There were several logging railroad tracks connecting to the Central of Georgia and the L&N Railroad lines. Some of the lines were linked to the Horseshoe Lumber Company in Andalusia. The trains were used to handle the timber and lumber business as well as transport people and needed supplies for the stores. A very attractive two-story depot was constructed and became a popular site in the town.
As a part of the civic and social life of the town, the Stokes Masonic Lodge was organized in 1904. Two different two-story buildings were erected, and the Masons usually met on the second floors with other activities functioning on the ground floor. After the town was abandoned, the lodge moved to a new building near the Pleasant Home Baptist Church in the Pleasant Home community.
The Falco Baptist Church was actually established during the mid-1800s for the black citizens and was built at a location about one and one-half miles northwest of the later church. Around 1913 with the building deteriorating, the congregation committed to erecting a new one. Through the years it has been remodeled and had additions.
In 1937, through the leadership of Thomas McIntosh, the Sheepleg Assembly of God Church was established at Mt. Hermon, located a few miles west of Falco. A bush arbor was used during the early years until a building was erected at Mt. Hermon in 1946. The growing church received great support from the community in building the church and making improvements through the years.
As stated earlier, the sawmill was the backbone of the town. Around 1910 the Florida-Alabama Land Company was sold to McGowin-Foshee. J.I. Robbins who was married to a Foshee became president of the new company. In time he built an impressive two-story house where he and his wife resided. (It seems there was always a fine residence for the superintendent of a large sawmill.) Lewis and Bruce Foshee were other partners in the business. These men increased the mill size and accelerated production. At the time it was known as the Robbins-McGowin Lumber Company. It was later sold and became the McGowin-Foshee Lumber Company. J.I. Robbins continued as general manager, and Jess Bradley was superintendent of the sawmill. Bruce Foshee was superintendent of the planer mill, and Lewis Foshee was superintendent for wood. The mill thrived until a fire almost completely destroyed it in 1925. Also, after all the major timber had been cut, the mill was moved to Willow, Fla.
Following this action, the town of Falco began to fade away. By 1950 when the post office was moved back to Wing, there was only one store still being operated. Mrs. E.R. "Blanche" Davis ran a general store, but most of her business was serving children who were attending the nearby school. The school was closed a few years later. Basically, Falco became known as a ghost town after that time.
In next week's column, the Falco School and some of the families who lived in the town will be presented. Sources for the history of Falco are the special newspaper entitled "Those Special Memories of Falco, Beda and Wing" published by citizens of the community and Gus and Ruby Bryan's "Covington County History, 1821-1976."
Anyone who might have corrections to the above or additional information on Falco, especially any of the families who resided there, is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Andalusia Public Library. New Alabama Division Commander David Allen of Tuscaloosa will be the guest speaker. Guests are welcome.
The annual John Jordan, Rebecca Lee Pate Reunion will be held on Sunday, Sept. 1, beginning at 10:45 at the Pleasant Home Primitive Baptist Church in the Paul community. Lunch will be served at 12:15 p.m.
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