COLUMN: REMEMBER WHEN: The T. E. Henderson story

Published 3:30 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

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Remarkable Andalusia citizens who have contributed much to the growth and building up of the town are often forgotten.

I recently ran across this story in my research that you readers might enjoy knowing about. What is here all around us that is part of our town was made possible by those who came before. It was because of a vision or maybe just their taking a chance on an idea they might have had. Pioneers in business always seem to catch my attention

As we ride around Court Square, we have all noticed the scaffolds and paraphernalia installed on the exterior of the old First National Bank building. It was publicized just this week that the City of Andalusia was partnering with a business to begin demolishing the interior to begin converting and restoring the structure for new use as a hotel. It became recognized in the early 1920s and is still known as South Alabama’s only skyscraper.

The Andalusia StarSeptember 9, 1930 – “Serving the business and manufacturing interests of this city and section with the finest of banking services in expansion and advancement, the First National Bank established here in 1901 by prominent local business men, has been of great aid throughout its history as a strong financial institution to the civic progress of this community.”

“The bank was organized with a capital stock of $50,000. In a location which now houses the Andalusia Dry Goods Company (Clark Theatre today). Backed by men widely known for their business ability and acumen, the firm made such rapid progress that in the 23rd year of its business activity, it had constructed the beautiful building that now occupies six stories in height and finely appointed, the largest office building in this section.”

The edifice was erected at the southeastern corner of the square, 25 by 100 feet in size at a cost of $115,000. The structure is of stone and shale brick trimmed with ornate Greek marble, designed so as to bring out the beauties of the materials of which it was constructed. The structure is a credit to the city and adds a great deal to the appearance of Andalusia’s business section.”

“The firm serves business men, manufacturers, and farmers alike. Patrons find it a pleasure to do their banking here where seven officers and employees are actively engaged in rendering to local public the service which has gained for the firm so creditable a reputation in this vicinity.”

Officers include T. E. Henderson, president and active manager; C. S. O’Neal, vice-president; A. C. Darling, vice-president; C. D. Bean, cashier; G. E. Simmons, assistant cashier. Directors are A. C. Darling, C. S. O’Neal, J. D. Henderson, D. L. O’Neal, F. K. Feagin, C. B. Mathews, T. E. Henderson.”

“In October 1899, the first passenger train, the Central of Georgia railroad, which came to Andalusia bore T. E. (Trammel Edward) Henderson who was to become one of the most outstanding citizens this city ever produced.”

“Born in Pike County, Ala. in 1872 and educated in the common schools of that county finishing at Troy State Normal. Mr. Henderson grew up and lived on a farm until he was 20 years of age. He then went to Brantley as a bookkeeper for the Wright-Henderson-Rainer Company for three years. He then moved to Searight where he was bookkeeper for the J. D. Henderson Company.”

“After his move to Andalusia on the first passenger train in 1899, he became connected with the General Advancing Company later organizing the Benson-Henderson Company in the first block of brick buildings erected in the city. He later sold his interest to the J. L. Knox Company. Upon leaving that company in 1907, Henderson bought an interest in the First National Bank where he served as cashier serving in that capacity for some time until he was elected to the position as president and active manager.”

“By 1930 Henderson had served the city as mayor for five terms beginning in 1905. During his administrations, the city made much civic progress including the installation of the first sanitary sewerage system, the construction of the first high school building (Church Street School), and the first paving of the square and principal residential streets was accomplished.”

“Under his administration the six-story bank building was erected and as such, he left his lasting imprint as a builder.”

It was through his leadership and enterprise that the Swift and Co. Packing Plant (out of Chicago) was established which was later used as the plant for the Alabama Textile Products Corporation.

Henderson’s 1938 obituary stated that his public spiritedness reflected his untiring efforts to always give encouragement and often financial backing to any business whose purpose was to build up the City of Andalusia.

Also a lover of wholesome sports, Henderson at the time of his death was president of the Andalusia Baseball Club. He was praised in editorials by friends, loyal fans, players, and umpires as they expressed deepest sympathy to the family of “Uncle Trammel” as one of the finest gentlemen the game has ever known. He had been a good judge of ball players and picked the players who won the pennant for the local club in 1937.

“Admirers wrote, ‘A true sportsman has passed to the great beyond. He was truly a friend to all the ball players and always willing to sacrifice anything to aid them. He strived to his utmost to go give Andalusia a good brand of baseball. His loss is a terrible blow to the Alabama-Florida League.’”

The Andalusia StarNovember 17, 1938 – “The entire citizenship of Andalusia received a distinct shock Wednesday morning when news was spread that Hon. T. E. Henderson, one of the leading business men and an outstanding citizen had died suddenly of heart attack at his home at 3 a. m. Wednesday morning. He was at his place of business Tuesday and was downtown in the evening and seemed to be in his accustomed health. Neither his family nor his friends had the slightest inclination that his health was in any sense impaired.”

Mr. Henderson was a Mason, a Knight of Pythias, Woodmen of the World, a member of the First Baptist Church, and a past president of the Andalusia Rotary Club. His family and friends are left a rich heritage in his achievements. He was a born leader, a man of unusually sound business judgement, and a man of abiding loyalty to his friends. For a period of more than thirty years, there was no phase of the community life of Andalusia that did not elicit his interest.”

Henderson was survived by his wife Ara Snead, two brothers, Charles and J. V. Henderson; three sisters, Mrs. J. V. Hughes of Tyler, Texas; Mrs. Pinkie Benson; and Miss Mary Olive Henderson, both of Andalusia.

Funeral services were conducted from his residence on East Three Notch Street with his pastor, Rev. Jesse A. Cook, D. D. officiating. Funeral arrangements were by Benson and Company.

Henderson is one of those identified in this photograph that was donated to the Three Notch Museum. You might recognize the lobby of the “new” bank building with the bars of the teller windows. The names of those who are pictured are listed on the back of the picture. They include Cleve Bean, J. B. Cranford, Dudley O’Neal, Mrs. Ellis, and Trammel Henderson.

I believe T. E. is the one wearing the hat. He wore a lot of hats, I think you will agree. May he never be forgotten. May his spirit live in our leaders, citizens, and business people today. May we be inspired to carry forth our ideas and visions to help Andalusia continue to grow and become the great city for which it is headed.

— Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a former K-12 choral music teacher and local real estate broker. She is a long-time member of the Covington Historical Society and can be reached at