Nesmith History

Compiled by: Brenda Cutcher Godbee, Lynn Godbee Tuggle, and Linda Walden Seymore

Highway 278 runs through the center of Nesmith, a farming community, which is located on the Cullman-Winston County line. Branching out from the heart of Nesmith are the Hogjaw (County Road 45), Pisgah (County Road 66),and Helicon (County Road 77) Roads. The rural landscape was changed from corn and cotton fields of earlier years to one now populated by numerous poultry houses, cattle, and hay fields.

Appearing on the 1850 census, the Stephensons were the earliest known settlers to live in the area. Many other families who settled the area arrived in the 1880ís and 1890ís. Among the early families were: Laseter, Seymore, Wisener, Privett, Godbee, Roberts, Robisinon, Nelson, Ray, and Vinson. Some later families were: Bartlett, Crider, Pierce, Williams, Glenn, Mattox, Netherton, Carpenter, and Langley.

The community is named after John Nesmith who built the first store and post office. Nesmith sold his store to Irvin (RI) Brown. At times there were three different stores. Over the years, other merchants included Albert and Sarah Lester, Jim Wooten, Monroe Stephenson, J.A. Pierece, Doyle Pierce, and Preston Seymore. Other early business included Pat Smithís blacksmith shop, a cotton gin, and sawmill. Coffins for the community were made by Nehemiah Wisener, Will Ray, and Bud Seymore. During the 1950ís and 1960ís, 278 Truck Stop and Café were operated by Benny Green and Mancil Laseter. Later, Green built Greenís Gulf a little further west on Highway 278. Today, Nesmith has a bait shop, propane gas business, and two service stations.

The earliest church in the area, Old Mt. Pisgah Methodist, is still used for funerals and annual memorial day services. Mount Pleasant Baptist was the second church established. Nesmith United Methodist, the third church established, was formed when the congregation moved from Mt. Pisgah. Nesmith Methodist and Mt. Pleasant Baptist hold weekly services.

In the early part of the century, there were two telephones in the community and a switchboard located at Jones Chapel. One phone was at Irvin Brownís store and the other was in the cross-hall of Jim Laseterís house. Neighbors were able to use Laseterís phone without disturbing the family. In return, they contributed funds to Laseterís phone bill. An early resident of Nesmith was Washington "Wash" Taylor Nelson. Wash was called "the old soldier" because he had served as a Confederate scout in the Civil War. He brought his family to the Nesmith area in December 1887. Wash died in 1916 and has descendants who live in the area today.

Stories passed on by older residents reflect life in earlier times. Espy Privett remembers the school serving as a social center for the community. Sometimes entertainers such as the Speer Family, Uncle Dave Macon, and Sam McGee performed on Friday or Saturday night. Admission was 50 cents and the entertainers played to a packed house. One particular Speer Family performance stands out in Espyís memory. Mrs. Speer had cut her hair, and the group sang a song called "Since Grandma Bobbed Her Hair." According to Espy, Mrs. Speer was the first woman in this country with bobbed hair.

Nesmith resident Nehemiah "Nemar" Wisener was awakened from sleep one night by a thumping sound and feared he was having a heart attack. He soon discovered the source of the thumping sound. His neighbor, Gertrude Gray, was hosting a dance. Gertrude was a midwife and reportedly aided in the delivery of many babies.

Bascom Mattox and Espy Privett recall a 1924 basketball game between Nesmith and White Oak Schools. The White Oak team walked to Nesmith where the game was played. Bascom played on the Nesmith team and Espy was a referee. During the game, a fight erupted between some players and spectators. The fight was broken up by Helicon police officer Evan Denson. Needless to say, this ended any future games between the two schools and resulted in a lawsuit.

Another interesting experience is recalled by Tab Walden. During the Great Depression of the 1930ís, Tab, Reuben Crider, and Cecil Mosteller heard there was a market for green tomatoes in Atlanta. They loaded a truck with green tomatoes and drove to Atlanta. While there, they saw young girls eating scraps out of garbage cans. They tried unsuccessfully to sell their green tomatoes but managed to swap them for pears. They brought the pears back to Nesmith where they gave away what they couldnít sell.