Cotton family settled in Wing community circa 1889

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 11, 2002

Representatives of the Cotton family came to the Wing community fairly late, and the exact date of their arrival is not known at this time. The family of Dallas Cotton was residing there in 1899. It appears that he may have been the son of Silvester and Ann (Peaden) Cotton.

Dallas became a major contributor to the growth and development of the Wing area. He established a blacksmith shop in which he trained his sons to perform a number of valuable trades: building log carts, wagon wheels, and wheel spokes, plus how to shod horses and perform mechanic work. He also ran a store at one time. He farmed some and operated a tar wood business. The work involved harvesting the tar wood or heart pine left from logging the virgin timber in the area. They dug the lighter wood stumps and then shipped them to Pensacola to the Newport Naval Store where the tar and turpentine were extracted.

Dallas was born in 1869 and was later married to Sarah Martha Matilda Jones, born in 1880, who was known by all as "Granny." She was well regarded and remembered for her love of keeping her house, growing flowers and gardening. At their deaths this couple was buried in the Cotton Cemetery, located just south of the Covington County line on Highway 137.

Dallas and Martha reared the following children: Twins, an infant son who died at birth and Dexter, b. 1899, d. 1939, m. Mallory "Mallie" Parker; Eben Columbus, b. 1900, d. 1975, m. Mamie Sue Fuqua; Walter Dallas, b. 1903, d. 1980, m. Effie Nichols; Ezra Jack, b. 1907, d. 1983, m. Katherine Dowdy; William Stacey, b. 1909, d. 1950, m. Flora Bell Youngblood; and Silvester Merrill, b. 1911, d. 1912.

The oldest son, Dexter, worked in the tar wood business as his father did. In addition he worked as a car and truck mechanic and probably farmed some. He resided primarily in the Ala-Flora community near Bradley and Rock Hill. Tragically, he was murdered in 1939 when he was only 40 years of age. He and his wife, Mallory, had only one son, Lloyd, who was only 12 years of age when he lost his father. Lloyd was born in 1927 and died in 2001.

The second son, Eben, was very successful in business management in Wing and throughout the county. It has been said, "He practically owned the town of Wing during his time." Unfortunately, he lost about everything in later years. Among his business adventures were the blacksmith shop, a gristmill, a sawmill, a cotton gin, and Cotton Store in Wing. He also had a trucking business that hauled tar wood and fertilizer. In Andalusia he owned a taxi stand and the Cotton Cafe or possibly the Blue Moon Cafe, which was located at the site of the present Brooks Shoe Shop. He and John Bowers built and operated the first drive-in in the area on the outskirts of Andalusia along the Florala Highway. He also owned a section of Gantt Beach where he had several cottages and a cafe, which was located southwest of the present Green's Barbecue Pit.

Eben and his wife, Sue, had the following two daughters: Christell "Chris," b. ca 1925, m. ?; and Willa Glen, b. ca 1927, m. ? Brashaw. In later years most of this family moved to the Ft. Walton area.

The next son, Walter D., worked with his father for a number of years in the blacksmith shop and tar wood business. He also farmed some as most men of his time did. In 1941, at the outset of World War I, he moved his family to Mobile and became an aircraft mechanic. He and his wife reared their family of three children there until he retired. At that time he returned to his home in Wing.

Walter and his wife, Effie Nichols, daughter of John Asburn and Leey Amanda (Adkinson) Nichols, reared the following children: Walter Doyleton, b. 1927, m. Dottie ?; Ray Nell, b. ca 1930, m. ? Cullimore; and Nina Merle, b. ca 1932, m. Dick Rogers. Doyleton lives in Mobile and his sisters and families live in Utah.

The next son, Ezra, worked with his father in his business adventures and became quite successful. As a skilled mechanic, he repaired and converted an old truck into a vehicle for hauling cotton, cotton seed, velvet beans, and dirt. He got into the business of grafting pecan trees with Dr. Hinton Waters of Falco. They attended some site in Mississippi to learn the grafting process.

Ezra was also active in the tar wood business. During the 1940s and 1950s, he operated several trucks hauling the stumps. He would buy new trucks and strip them down so they could be driven through the woods to pick up the tar wood. At one point he moved from Wing to Florala where he could ship the stumps better by train. During World War II, he was exempted from military service because the by-products from the tar wood were so valuable in producing war materials. He also received extra war rations for the family to use during this period.

In 1949, Ezra and his son, Donald, established the Cotton Ford Dealership in Andalusia. Ezra had seen the farmers' growing need of acquiring tractors, so when the Ford Motor Company wanted to separate the tractor sales from the automotive operation, he purchased it. He made his son, Donald, manager of the business, which is the well-known Cotton Ford Tractor Company, Inc., located on Highway 55 South.

Ezra and his wife, Katherine, reared two sons: Donald Ezra, b. 1929, m. Jo Ann Johnston; and Kenneth Wilborn, b. 1932, m. Myrtis Buffalow. Donald reared his family of four children in Andalusia, and Kenneth reared his family in Wing.

The youngest son, Stacey, worked with his father and became a very skilled mechanic. He was known widely for his dependable work. At one time, he was employed by the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He and his wife, Flora Bell, reared two daughters: Sybil, b. 1929, m. Gene Smothers; and Marie, b. ca 1930, d. ?, m. Tanton Howell.

Sources for this writing were Donald and Jo Ann Cotton and the little newspaper entitled "Those Special Memories of Falco, Beda, and Wing." Anyone who has corrections to the above or additional information on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 34620 or Email:


The Henderson-Butler Reunion is scheduled for Saturday, October 19, at the Damascus Club House on Hwy 4 west of Lockhart. Covered-dish dinner will be served at noon.

Curtis Thomasson writes a regular geneaology column for the Andalusia Star-News.