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Neighboring Oakey Streak community claims proud heritage

Since the Crittenden family featured in the last three columns resided in the Oakey Streak community, it seems appropriate to share some history of it. It is a small rural area located in the southeast section of Butler County, Ala. It is next to Highway 59 on the south side of Pigeon Creek. The name came from the beautiful Oak trees native to the area.

Some local historians have proposed that the Oakey Streak name was given because none of the usual longleaf pine trees were found in the vicinity; only scrub oaks grew there. These were found along a ridge which was about four and a half miles long and referred to as the ridge, Oak Grove or Streak.

Originally, the name given to the location was Middletown. This is believed to have been from the fact that the site was the midpoint on the road running from Greenville to the Montezuma Settlement. That would have been a main route during that period of time. This particular settlement was in precinct three of South Butler County and fell between Greenville and other communities in the area being settled by emigrants coming from Georgia and the Carolinas.

The first post office at Middleton was established on January 15, 1829, with George Wilson as the first Postmaster. Others succeeding him were John Shafer during the early years, James C. Wilson in 1832, and John W. Parker in 1832. This post office was discontinued on October 25, 1843. A new post office was established at Oakey Streak on August 11, 1853. The following is a list of the postmasters and their dates of appointment: William W. Bradley, August 11, 1853; Nathan L. Weaver, February 7, 1854; James W. Josey, April 17, 1855; Robert H. Tynes, May 16, 1857; William R. Wall, October 9, 1857; and Abraham Van Pelt, May 24, 1858. There were no records found for the years during the War Between the States; however, an office was re-established June 7, 1867, with Robert G. Crittenden as postmaster, an office he held until 1911. From that date, members of the Crittenden family dominated the post office until it was closed on May 30, 1935.

Circa 1830, Lemuel Harvell or Harwell came from Covington County and opened a general store at the crossroads in Oakey Streak. About five years later in 1835, James Jones opened a second store, which was an extensive mercantile business including dram shops and peanut stands. The first meeting house was a Baptist Church located on the Greenville to Montezuma Road about one and a half miles from the post office. Soon afterwards the Methodist people erected a church building, which was located about two miles southeast of the post office.

The Methodist Church was organized by 1831, and on December 7, 1850, A.M. Reid deeded 10 acres surrounding the building site to the trustees. A log cabin was built to serve the congregation which was used until the present structure was erected in the late 1800s. In 1903, the square tower in the front of the building was added along with a few additional feet to extend the sanctuary. The facility has served as a place of worship and center for family and social gatherings through all these many years. It remains in restored condition and a true landmark of the area.

Records identify some of the early settlers as William Daniel Stallings, Thomas Hester, William Graydon, George W. Wilson, Lovel B. Wilson, David Simmons, Isaac Smith, George Tillman, Richard Prewitt, Joe Jones, James Lane, Susannah (Reid) Lane, and James W. Josey. Lovett Wilson was the son of George Washington Wilson who came to Butler County during the mid-1820s. He had first gone to Conecuh County from Jones County, Ga. David Simmons is another early settler, and his name has been perpetuated by the name of a stream located lower down Pigeon Creek. The Graydon, Hester and Stallings families eventually settled west of the ridge and in other sections of the county.

Susannah, William Daniel and Jessie Stallings were the children of Malachi Stallings who migrated from Green County, Ga., to Butler County, Ala., circa 1818. Susannah married Robert Reid about 1800, and he died in 1814 in Putnam County, Ga. Before his death, they had the following children: Alexander, Rubin, Robert, Archibald McCoy, Catherine and Mary. Susannah was later married to James T. Lane on February 12, 1818, and they moved soon afterwards to Butler County. Rubin Reid became Clerk of Butler County Court in 1826. Robert Reid was Circuit Clerk of Butler County in 1820.

The third son, Archibald McCoy Reid was married on January 20, 1835, to Elizabeth Ann Herbert, daughter of Hillary Herbert. He obtained a patent to the land where the present-day Oakey Streak United Methodist Church is located. The deed to the land was made by Archibald to A.M. Reid, James W. Shine Jr., Daniel B. Shine, Richard Prewitt, William Hammonds, R.S. Hughs J.P. as trustees. The deed burned with the courthouse in 1853, but it was re-recorded in 1881.

Susannah’s second husband, James T. Lane, recorded the first Federal Census for Butler County in 1830 and reported his residence being next to William Daniel Stallings. The census also listed him as Assistant to the U.S. Marshall, witnessed by Isaac Richard Smith, J.P., along with A.M. Reid and John Shine. Isaac Richard Smith was one of the earliest settlers of Oakey Streak and was the great grandfather of T.A. Brook.

Jesse Stallings settled in the northern area of Butler County and was on the committee that built the first courthouse of the county in 1822. His grandson, Jesse P. Stallings, was elected to be a member of Congress of Butler County during the 1890s. William Daniel Stallings’s daughter, Elizabeth Jane Stallings, was married to James W. Shine Jr. His sister, Clarrissa W. Shine, was married in 1836 to James D. Smith, son of Isaac Richard Smith. He died in 1854 in Santa Rosa County, Fla., and Clarrissa died in 1891 and was buried in the Oakey Streak Cemetery. She had been granted 160 acres of land in Butler County from her husband having fought in the Creek Indian War.

The John H. Crittenden family arrived in Oakey Streak circa 1850, and he became the wealthiest man in the community. John, the son of Senator Robert Greene Crittenden and Nancy Crowder, was born in 1810 and was married in 1837 in Talbotton, Ga., to Caroline Stoneham. Their family has been featured in a recent column. John died in 1897 and Caroline, in 1898. They were both buried in the Oakey Streak Cemetery. John H.’s sister, Carolyn Crittenden, was married to Robert E. Owen, a large land owner in the Loachapoka community of Lee County, Ala. They migrated to Butler County along with the Crittendens and settled in the Pigeon Creek community. They were the parents of the following children: Zula Eleanor, Rowan Almaine, Philsman, Sinsy, Mannie, Mary, Ida Elizabeth, Leruisa “Lou,” Bama and Marie L.

Another pioneering settler in Oakey Streak was Edward Nix who was born in 1817 in Oglethorpe County, Ga. He became a planter and was a member of the Dawson Masonic Lodge after moving to Oakey Streak. On December 24, 1839, he was married to Jane Perry, daughter of John Perry. In 1858, U.S. President James Buchanan signed for Edward a land patent containing 240 acres. When the 1860 federal census was enumerated, Edward and Jane were residing in Oakey Streak. Edward enlisted for serviced in the Confederate Army in March 1862 and died in November 1862. He was killed in a train wreck when he was going to look for his son, John, who was also a private in the army. He was buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tenn. When Jane died in 1901, she was buried in the Oakey Streak Methodist Church Cemetery. Edward and Jane Nix were the parents of the following children: John Edward, Ruth Amaryliss, Theodoshia, Mary and Dow Perry.

Jane Nix’s father, John Perry, was born in 1769 in Franklin County, N.C. and died in 1858 in Russell County, Ala. He was married to Ruth Strickland, daughter of Matthew Strickland. He was featured in the Alabama Historical Review in 1953. He and Ruth were the parents of the following children: Strickland, Amaryllis, Willis J., Eliza, Mary A., Patience, John M., Frances B., Rutha M. and Jane.

The sources for today’s story include Fern S. Nix’s Oakey Streak—A Historic Landmark and The Heritage of Butler County, Alabama.

Anyone who may find an error in the above history or additional information related to Oakey Streak is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.

HISTORICAL MEETING:

The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will hold its annual Christmas “covered dish” dinner meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 6, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Spouses and members of the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter will be special guests. Other guests and prospective members are encouraged to attend.