By Felicia Farnsworth
As stated in previous articles, 23 historical markers have been erected throughout Bullock County. With the help of the Historical Marker Database (hmdb.org), as well as 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’re located and the meanings behind them.
I wanted to give the history of the highway to the Herald readers since the marker is so minimal in the description. Over more than a hundred years ago, several states did not have road departments.
By 1910, cars were becoming more common; however, the highways were not numbered.
The National Highway Association was established in 1911, according to WorldDigitalLibrary.org, “to promote the development of an improved national road network in the United States.” In that era, it was common for private organizations to identify a route, give it a name, and promote its use and improvement.
Carl Fisher had announced his plans for a “coast to coast” rock highway called the Lincoln Highway in 1912. The route was announced in September of 1913.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), particularly Mrs. Alexander B. (Rassie Hoskins) White, proposed a transcontinental route named after Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. Davis was also the U.S. Secretary of War before the Civil War and directed surveys for wagon roads and railroads to the North Pacific Coast.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was initially proposed to go from Miami, Florida, to Los Angeles, California; however, it was never built. Another proposition was for it to be built from Washington, D.C. to San Diego, California, with two detours.
The first route would include Fairview, Kentucky, Jefferson’s birthplace, to Beauvoir, Mississippi, where he once lived. The second route would go through Irwinsville, Georgia, and would follow his route at the end of the Civil War before his capture. It is this stretch that runs through Midway and Bullock County.
Most of the named trails have faded from today’s maps or been renamed. Some parts of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway continue to carry the name.
U.S. 80 in Alabama is one of them. Many segments of this highway have been changed due to ongoing controversy.
The Historical Marker in Midway is a boulder with the following engraving: “Jefferson Davis Highway Soldiers of the Confederacy and the World War Erected by Clubs Midway Alabama Nov. 1934.”
The marker is located at the intersection of Old Broadway Street (U.S. 82) and State Route 51, on the right side when traveling south on US82.
The history is very prominent in Midway and this section of Bullock County.
If you get the chance to visit, please take a moment and see this marker and its history.