Adellum Community, school thrived during early 1920s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2011

Adellum was once a rather thriving small community, which was located on Brooklyn Road (Co. Road 42) about two miles west of US Highway 29.  At present the general area is mostly composed of several residences along with three churches: Adellum Baptist, Andalusia Church of God, and Cedar Grove Church of Christ. Around the turn of the century and during the early 1900s there were a number of activities in the area.

It has been reported that a community club of sorts was organized at one point. Mrs. Blake Pruitt was elected to serve as president and Mrs. Lee C. Stokes as secretary.  The members were all neighbors who cooperated to promote the good of the surrounding area.

During the late 1800s, the Stokes family operated a small general store on the edge of Chalk Hill, a name given to the location next to the large chalk-lined gully. Lee C. Stokes’s grandmother, Elizabeth (Jay) Stokes, was a seamstress and helped operate the store before her death in 1910.

The Adellum School was being conducted during the early 1900s and was continued until 1930. The school building was basically a two-room building, which stood about where the current house of Charles W. Thomasson is located. At first, the building was quite primitive with a wood-burning heater and drinking water being collected from a near by spring. For several years there were no restroom facilities, so the boys and girls had to visit different areas of the woods. Eventually, outdoor restrooms were built and general conditions were improved to a reasonable degree.

During its last years, the school offered eight grades, and the term lasted for seven months. Mr. Keller was Superintendent of Covington County Schools at the time, and some of the teachers who have been recalled include the following: Miss Willie Grider, Miss Addie Wilson, Miss Hattie Wilson (Mrs. DeShazo), Miss Louise Bozeman (Mrs. Robert Barrow), Miss Avenell Mitchell, Mrs. Taylor, Miss Ella Mae Hogg, Mrs. Faulkner and Miss Maude Chesser (Mrs. Almer Hare). Lee C. Stokes served as one of the school trustees. Many of the students attending the school were from the following neighborhood families: Garrett, Hare, Jordan, Pruitt, Stokes, Thomasson and Thompson. (Please let this writer know if you know of other teachers, trustees or families whose children attended Adellum.)

Two teachers particularly recalled by Marie Pruitt were Mary Kelso and Ruth McNeil. Mary is still alive and residing in the State of Florida. Her niece, Willene Sharp visited her in the last year.

Samuel Blake and Eddie (Bell) Pruitt had a nice home located about one mile from the school. They boarded a number of the teachers who would walk to work even during the cold and rain. Imagine the challenges of providing suitable housing when there was no electricity or plumbing, but such was life in the rural communities during this period of time. Each day began with the children and teachers getting their baths in a pan or tub of water while Eddie was preparing breakfast for the entire household. She would also pack lunches for those headed to school.

When the movement of consolidating schools was occurring during the 1920s and 1930s, Adellum was closed after the building burned. There was a rumor that the burning of the building was intentionally set to help accomplish the closing of the school. All rural communities were very proud of their school for neighboring children and fought their closings.  The students were then transported by privately operated buses to Carolina School and on the Pleasant Home School after completing the eighth grade.

There is a picture of the school, which was made during the early 1920s, included with today’s column.  The names of those recognized to date include Raymond Pruitt, Mildred Jay Pruitt, Ruby Stokes Thomasson, Chesley Thomasson, Dorothy Thomasson Lawson, Vera Garrett Huggins, Ruth York Palmer, and teacher, Myrtle Windham Brooks. Anyone who might be able to identify anyone else is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, whose contact information is listed at the end.

During the time the school building was being used, the members of the Cedar Grove Church of Christ met there after it was organized in 1916. They continued to use the building until the first church structure was completed in 1919. George F. Rabren sold a lot to the church, which was located about one half mile farther west from Adellum School. The men hauled building materials by mules and wagon from the Horseshoe Lumber Company in River Falls. The building was a simple, one room structure with board and batten walls and a tin roof. It was renovated into a more modern structure in 1938, and the first brick building was completed in 1960. In 1988, a modern auditorium, spacious foyer and nursery were completed.

The Adellum Baptist Church had been established in 1903. It has been reported that a church for area black families once existed across the highway from the Baptist church. (Anyone with information on this church is requested to contact this writer.) The Andalusia Church of God on Brooklyn Road was begun in more recent years.

The Blake Pruitt family that lived near Adellum School was somewhat representative of the folks making up the community surrounding it. They probably had a bit larger and finer house than some because they had enough rooms to rent to some of the teachers. The Pruitts had moved to this area from Elmore County and had established a prosperous farm. They grew a large garden from which many vegetables were gathered and canned or preserved.  Their granddaughter, Marie Pruitt, recalls a fond memory of the impressive floor-to-ceiling shelves, which held all the canned goods. Mrs. Pruitt also dried a number of fruits from which she made her family’s favorite fried pies or tarts as they were often called.

The families only had to buy few items such as sugar and flour from the local grocery store.  They were nearly self-sufficient since they grew so much of their food in the gardens and raised beef cattle and hogs for slaughtering. The meat would be cured by salting it down, smoking and even canning it, storing in saltwater brine or packing in pork lard. Hog killings in the very cold weather was usually a community event with several families helping each other when each scheduled his big day.  Everyone worked from early dawn and into the night to take care of all the work associated with preparing and storing the meat.

In addition to the hard work of feeding their own, families had other regular difficult tasks such as washing their clothes.  With no electricity, each family had to do his laundry by hand. This involved the use of a large iron wash pot for heating water and boiling the clothes and then using a scrub board on the very soiled pieces. Clothes were then transfered into to number 3 washtubs of cold water that had been drawn from the well for rinsing usually then times. They were then hung on the carefully cleaned clothesline to dry.  The rinse water was then used to clean up everything and often to scrub all wooden floors such as the porches.

There is much that could be written on the life-style of this era, but the above gives a fairly true picture of how folks lived in the Adellum community before there were adequate conveniences and means of travel. Appreciation is express to Marie Pruitt for sharing her family memories and the copy of the school picture and to John D. Stokes, recently deceased uncle of this writer, for his memories.

Anyone who might have any corrections to the above or additional information on the families around Adellum, the school or any other businesses, etc. is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email:

DOZIER FAMILY REUNION: The Dozier family will hold its annual reunion on Sun., July 31, the last Sunday in July, at the American Legion building in Andalusia. All descendants are asked to bring a “covered-dish” dinner and arrive from 10 a.m. until noon.