History of the Maplesville Alabama Railroad Historic District

Daniel Williams was the first recorded white settler in the area that would later become the town of Maplesville. 1)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 2. Sometime before 1820, Williams and his family built a dam across Mulberry Creek to furnish power for his mills, which he built and operated there. Also around this time, Stephen W. Maples, a merchant from Connecticut, opened a store about a half of a mile west of Daniel William’s mills. Maples married Williams’s daughter, Sara, on June 28, 1823 thus unijing the earliest pioneer families. 2)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 2. A survey drawn in 1829 by William H. Wilson delineates the first town of Maplesville, named after the pioneer merchant. It was located about three miles east of the present location and included the communities of Maplesville, Isabella, and Mulberry. Some of the earliest settlers came from Georgia and the Carolinas as well as from the northern states.3)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 3.

From the onset, Maplesville was a town that developed along transportation routes. The old town was situated at the intersection of two important state roads, the Fort Jackson Road, which ran east and west, and the Elyton Road, which ran north and south, from Birmingham to Selma. 4)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 3. The Fort Jackson Road was especially well-traveled when it functioned as the stage route from Montgomery to Tuscaloosa, then the state capitol of Alabama (1826-1B46). In 1853, the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad (later consolidated ~ the Southern Railroad in 1894) had completed a line from Montevallo to Selma with a stop at the “Maplesville Depot” in the community of Cuba. 5)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 10, 97.

During this period of development, the old Foshee House (site #1O), was constructed c. 1850 along the main thoroughfare that crosses the railroad line. The house, its fine porch rails and interior wainscoting, began a dogtrot but was later enclosed. Another building constructed during this period was the Maplesville Methodist Church (AR, site #13), erected around 1850 but moved to its current location across from the depot in 1887.

When the railroad came through, a survey was done to establish a new community that would be situated directly on that railroad line. The 1853 description of William H. Wilson’s plat reads, in part: ” … I have surveyed and laid a town in said county (Bibb) on the Railroad in Section 21, Township 21, and Range 12 East and called the name of said town Cuba at the place called Maplesville Depot on the West half of the North East quarter of Section 21, Township 21, and Range 12 East it being on the South end of said half quarter and on the road leading to Selma and where it crosses the Railroad …” 6)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 10, 97.

The town of Cuba was changed to Maplesville around the time that the post office was established in 1856. Although two Maplesvilles existed for some time, the “old town” began to die as rail transportation began to replace travel by stagecoach. The new Maplesville community, on the other hand, began to prosper, especially after 1898 when a second railroad line, the Mobile and Ohio (later merged into the Illinois Central Gulf in 1972), was constructed. 7)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 94. Today, only a few trains pass through the community but the 1912 Southern Railroad Depot (AR, sne #11) survives as a visual reminder that the railroad was responsible for much of the early development of Maplesville. In addition, there are other extant buildings from the late 19th/early 20th century “boom period” of Maplesville that are included within the historic district.

The Crumpton store (see #8) along Hwy. 22 dates from 1907. The history of the store actually begins in 1860 when Noah Foshee bought the mercantile business of Reding Hicks, an early pioneer of Maplesville 8)A History of Chilson County, “A History of Maplesville” 1927 (unpublished manuscript, reference room, Alabama Department of Archives and History), page 23. Also, Martha Alice Cowan, phone interview, August 1, 2003. Foshee’s oldest son, Wheeler, took charge of the business after his father’s death. In 1907, Wheeler and his brother Calhoun (Cal) began construction of a new building for the family business. However, before it could be completed, Wheeler died. After Wheeler’s death, Cal then went into business wnh T.U. Crumpton, whose own store had just burned. 9)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 29. A~ough known as the T.U. Crumpton mercantile business, the store was primarily owned and operated by Cal Foshee. 10)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 29. After Mr. Crumpton’s death, his daughter, Blossom, helped to operate the business wnh Foshee. In December 1988, the building was used as the home office of Reynolds Wood Products. 11)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 34..

Also during this period, Calvin Foshee constructed a home (see #8) next to mercantile business. This house displays fine paneled wainscoting both on the exterior front as well as interior center hall. Another building (site #7) located behind the store and next to the house was used to make and store coffins, another one of Calvin Foshee’s business ventures. Known as the “coffin house”, the building was later remodeled and used as a residence.

The commercial buildings along Railroad Street were constructed around 1911 (and later) after a fire broke out destroying the frame buildings along the block. 12)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 98. These buildings include the old Foshee store (see #3), now a laundromat, and the K C Coburn store (now a ceramics store) and masonic lodge (see #5). Clint Coburn (1878-1953) started his business in Maplesville in 1920. His son, Kermit, continued operation of the business for many years after his retirement. 13)Obituary, Birmingham News, February 27, 1953, for Clint C. Cobern, “retired Maplesville merchant”. Cobern started his mercantile business in 1920 (Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 22).

The Parnell House (site #1) was the home of Charles Nicholas Parnell, born September 3, 1866 in or near Stanton, Alabama 14)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 90. He came to Maplesville in 1906 where he set up a medical practice that lasted almost forty-five years. He graduated from Marion Military Institute, taught school, then entered the Mobile Medical College in 1889. Upon graduation on March 27, 1891, Dr. Parnell began his practice in Mulberry before moving to Ensely. During the mid-1890, he married Frances Kay Foshee whose family was among the earliest settlers in Maplesville. 15)Phone interview with Martha Alice Cowan, the great-grandaughter of Noah Foshee and the great-niece of Cal Foshee, August 1, 2003. Ms. Cowan states that Frances (“Franny”) Foshee was the daughter of pioneer merchant, Noah W. Foshee (b. 1847, Georgia). She was born in 1872 and died 1908. Her mother was Addie Foshee (b. 1847, Alabama) and her brothers included Thomas (b. 1870, died in New Orleans), Hilliard (b. 1875), Wheeler (b. 1879), and Calvin (b. 1882). Information also from the United State Census Household Record, 1880. “Noah W. Foshee”. Census Place: Maplesville, Chilton, Alabama, Family History library Film, NA Film Number T9-0006, Page 83D The Parnells had four children although only one son survived. Upon arriving in Maplesville, they began construction of a fine home across from the Southern Railroad and near his medical office along Railroad Street. Tragically, Frances Parnell died on September 1, 1908 before the house was completed. Charles Parnell later remarried Lucie LeNoir and raised four children. 16)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 91. In addition to an active medical practice, Dr. Parnell also ran a drugstore and developed a series of medicines that were later distributed by the Messengil Pharmaceutical Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 17)Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 91.

References   [ + ]

1, 2.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 2.
3, 4.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 3.
5, 6.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 10, 97.
7.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 94.
8.A History of Chilson County, “A History of Maplesville” 1927 (unpublished manuscript, reference room, Alabama Department of Archives and History), page 23. Also, Martha Alice Cowan, phone interview, August 1, 2003.
9, 10.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 29.
11.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 34.
12.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 98.
13.Obituary, Birmingham News, February 27, 1953, for Clint C. Cobern, “retired Maplesville merchant”. Cobern started his mercantile business in 1920 (Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 22).
14.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 90.
15.Phone interview with Martha Alice Cowan, the great-grandaughter of Noah Foshee and the great-niece of Cal Foshee, August 1, 2003. Ms. Cowan states that Frances (“Franny”) Foshee was the daughter of pioneer merchant, Noah W. Foshee (b. 1847, Georgia). She was born in 1872 and died 1908. Her mother was Addie Foshee (b. 1847, Alabama) and her brothers included Thomas (b. 1870, died in New Orleans), Hilliard (b. 1875), Wheeler (b. 1879), and Calvin (b. 1882). Information also from the United State Census Household Record, 1880. “Noah W. Foshee”. Census Place: Maplesville, Chilton, Alabama, Family History library Film, NA Film Number T9-0006, Page 83D
16, 17.Maplesville, The Town and The People (1820-1989), Time Printing Company, Montevallo, Alabama, npd (c. 1989), page 91.

Source: Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage Nomination Form for the Maplesville Railroad Historic District and/or Common

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