By Felicia Farnsworth
As I stated in a previous article, 23 historical markers have been erected throughout Bullock County. With the help of the Historical Marker Database (hmdb.org), the information provided by the markers themselves, and the help of the internet, I have been able to put together a series of articles stating where they’ve located the meanings behind them.
This week we are venturing to Perote, Bullock County, Alabama. I retained my information from the following websites: Alabamapioneers.com and Wikipedia.com. Perote, Alabama, is an unincorporated town on Highway 29 just a few miles south of Blue’s Old Stand in Bullock County.
The town was first established in the mid-1830s and was first named Fulford’s Cross Roads and later named Missouri Cross Roads due to the resemblance of the terrain.
It wasn’t named Perote until after 1850, when veterans of the Mexican War returned home. The area’s first settlers came from the Carolinas and Georgia. Nineteen different families chose to make their homes there.
The small town was booming with business. The town had a couple of grocery stores, doctor offices, a school that held 150 students, a carriage factory, and a Masonic Lodge. The first store was built by Mr. Fulford and belonged to Mr. Jesse Locke, who sold general merchandise and held a post office. His daughter, Miss Willie Locke, was the postmistress at the time.
The drug store was owned by Dr. William Walker and Dr. Olin Zeigler. They sold it to Mr. B. G.High who sold general merchandise out of it for several years. It was later sold, and the lumber was used for a house. Mr. John H. Peach kept a grocery store that served the workers from his plantations. Mr. Bill Miles owned the only shoe shop in town. The town was prospering.
When the war was over and, the railroad bypassed the town, and the cotton fields stopped producing, the town started to dwindle. Without the necessary needs to stay open, many businesses had to close their doors and move away. Several settlers experienced devastating fires to their properties, and many suffered significant losses and moved away.
The historical marker is located on U.S. 15/29 on the right side when traveling North. The marker was erected in 2003 by The Bullock County Historical Society and the Alabama Historical Society.
The marker reads: “This community, settled during the mid-1830s, was first called Fulford’s Cross Roads, then Missouri Cross Roads when a post office was established here in 1846. The name Perote, adopted in 1850 was suggested by veterans returning from the Mexican War (1846-48), who remembered a citadel in Mexico by that name. Incorporation followed in 1858.
Early settlers in the area, who came primarily from the Carolinas and Georgia, included the following families: Sellers, Crossley, Blue, Locke, Peach, Hixon, Culver, Johnson, Adair, Ardis, McCall, Rumph, Brabham, Miles, Cameron, Starke, Wilson, Walker and Ivey.
Methodist and Baptist churches were among the first structures in the community, around which much of the social life centered, including “protracted meetings” – revivals. Perote grew rapidly in the 1850s so that by 1860 the community was thriving with several doctors, stores, a carriage factory, a Masonic lodge, and a school. At the beginning of the War Between the States (1861-65), the school numbered about 150 students.
Many of the young men from the school served in the Perote Guards, organized in 1859 as war clouds gathered. They went off to war as part of the 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment with uniforms and a flag handmade by the women they left behind.
The community’s fortunes fell following the war as cotton cultivation, the area’s traditional leading economic pursuit, receded in importance. By-passed by the railroad and experiencing several disastrous fires, Perote suffered a steady decline in business activity and population.”
If you happen to travel through this quiet little town, take a moment to stop and learn the history of Perote, Bullock County firsthand.
Union Springs Herald