"We assumed, after retirement, that one of us would
continue working for money to supplement our income so that we could continue
to live in the style we were accustomed. Then we found LaFayette..."
: Fine old homes and buildings, and world famous people
for the first time particularly those traveling north or south on
Highway 431 are usually startled by the beauty of the old town.
This happened a few years ago to Jerry and Mac Bryant.
They were so impressed they turned their vehicle around and went back
into the city. They asked about a
fine old four-column, two story white house; discovering that it was available,
the couple from Texas promptly bought the over sized home and they have been
here ever since.
Bryant is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
For years he flew heavy aircraft over a good portion of the world.
He and his wife operate a bed and breakfast at their place (now known as
Maple Hill). “(There is so much
atmosphere here),” said Jerry. “The
place is just inviting comfortable and being from
, at least our part of it where the landscape can be bleak and
barren well, we appreciate trees.”
is a town of some 3,500; the county seat of Chambers (populations 37,000), the
old city is tucked away in the foothills of central East Alabama and strangely
and coincidentally, it is almost exactly halfway between two state capitals,
is some 98 miles from
and 95 miles from
. LaFayette was
founded in 1844 (some historians say 1843); the county was founded in 1832, 13
years after Alabama, mustering up the approximately 245,000 population needed
to become a state, was founded in 1819 in Huntsville (the name “Washington” led
on the first few ballots of that first state convention, but in a compromise,
the musical Indian name “Alabama” was finally chosen).
LaFayette’s wide streets and large ancient
trees, and fine old houses and buildings, draw people to
tourist or casual traveler alike. Those
that stay around awhile discover some portions of the history of
and its environs and it is indeed a rich past.
For here was once the home of such diverse and famous people as Johnson
Jones Hooper, Pat Garrett, United States Senators Thomas (Cotton Tom) Heflin
and Claude Pepper, and of course Joe Louis.
Johnson Jones Hooper was the author of the “Silas Suggs” books that
realistically showed the hard life and high humor of life on the
of the American frontier in the early 1800.
Mark Twain based much of his “Life on the
” and “Huckleberry Finn” stories on the almost identical adventures
and circumstances of those experienced by Silas Suggs.
Pat Garrett, famed as the Lincoln County, New Mexico sheriff who killed
Billy the Kid, was from
. He rode west at age
17, seeking more room and more adventure.
In Pat Garrett’s will at the
there are provisions leaving his saddle and shotgun to a nephew in
Heflin was a
Congressman and Senator who was famous as one of
’s premier orators.
He was the father of Mother’s Day (legislated in 1916; President Woodrow Wilson
praised Heflin for this bill, introduced in the House of Representatives while
Cotton Tom was a Congressman. He
was the first man from the Deep South to be invited to make the annual
Gettysburg Address at the hallowed battlefield in
(the 50th anniversary held November 19, 1913.) and out on
here in LaFayette, Monrow (Mun) Barrow and his wife, Dorothy, were expecting
another child. Hew as to be a boy
(born May 13, 1914), and he was named Joe Louis Barrow, and he would grow up to
become the world’s heavyweight boxing champion.
In fact, Joe Louis, which was his ring name, ruled the world longer than
any heavyweight in history 12 years from 1937 to 1949 finally retiring
unbeaten, following 25 defenses of his title, far and away the most by any
boxer in the premier division. Claude
pepper was born in the west
After graduating from the
and becoming a lawyer, Pepper moved to
. Later, as a young
U.S. Senator, he cast the deciding vote in the Senate that approved President
Franklin Roosevelt’s Lend Lease Act (1949) that delivered to
some used American destroyers and a few other weapons.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill later said that without Lend-Lease the
German war machine would have prevailed and
would have fallen. Thus,
have seen giant strides forth from its diverse landscape.
Yet, the strength of this place has always been its workaday folks
creative and ingenious in their own right and more on this next