Haleyville History

By: R.L. Shirley

Haleysville was incorporated on February 28, 1889

Haleyville is the largest town and principal shipping point in Winston County. It is in the northwestern part of the county, located on the I.C. Railroad. Altitude 915 feet. Population in 1910- 1,111; 1940 – 2,427; 1992 – 4,452; current population approximately 5,000.

Many years ago land in this area of Winston County sold for 10 cents an acre….beef at 3 cents per pound…eggs at 4 cents a dozen. A Tennessee horse trader bought 1,000 acres of land in the area for 10 cents an acre, never dreaming that he was taking the first step in a chain of events that lead up to the founding of Haleyville. Green Haley was the man who bought that property, to build his home at Buttahatchee. Three of his sons, Charley, Walker, and Jim Haley later became successful merchants. Charley Haley was the first to leave his Marion County home and settle in Davis Crossroads, which is now Haleyville. His brothers Walker and Jim Haley joined in later to become prosperous in the pioneer town.

A popular legend has it that Charley Haley gave William "Bucky" Davis a new suit of clothes to change the name of Davis Crossroads (Crossings) to Haleysville, which later became Haleyville. That was in the year 1889. Others say that it was nothing but a pair of overalls. However, a great-granddaughter of Bucky Davis states that Charley Haley gave Bucky a suit of clothes, a wagon, and two mules. Charley Haley became the first postmaster and the first merchant in Haleyville. Besides his two brothers he was joined by the Roden, Taylor, and Davis families to pioneer the community.

Other settlers came from far and wide in covered wagons and by other crude means of transportation to brave the privations and to scratch the soil to eke out a bare existence and establish the foundation of the new beautiful city of Haleyville. Many descendants of those pioneers still live in this area, but of course many, many new families have moved into Haleyville in recent years.

One family to settle in Davis Crossroads was William Samuel Biddle and family. He bought the lot where, later the Cleere Hotel was located. He bought the lot for $10, and built their home there in 1888. He once sold another lot for $8. Biddle’s first job in Haleyville was being a clerk in Mr. Haley’s store. His salary was $15 per month.

John Dodd built the first brick building in Haleyville and established a wholesale business there. The building is currently the Feldman’s Department Store. M.W. Kennedy was the first mayor of Haleyville. The Christian Church was the first church organized in Haleyville and services began there in 1892. The first water system was a community well which furnished water for most of Haleyville’s early inhabitants.

The first railroad to pass through Winston County was started in 1884, the Northern Alabama Railroad with terminals in Sheffield and Parrish, AL. In the early days Miller’s Stand, operated by Charley Miller, was the only lodging available for weary travelers who spent the night in Davis Crossing. Miller’s Stand included a tavern and inn. Most of the travel in those days was by way of stage coach, horseback/horse and buggy, or horse and wagon, traveling through rough roads and trails and often through the woods.

In 1894 the Southern Railway took control over the Northern Alabama Railroad. Then later came the Illinois Central Railway which maintained a repair shop in Haleyville.

The Cleere Hotel was built in the early 1900’s.

Haleyville’s first newspaper was published June 7, 1906 a four-page "Square Deal" owned and edit by Ben G. Sevier. Traders and Farmers Bank was established in 1906.