Alabama Civil Rights

Freedom Farm Museum

 

Mantua Topics

Cemeteries

Plantations and Landmarks

Voter Precincts

Overview

1. Havana

2. New Prospect

3. Five Mile

4. Greensboro

5. Newbern

6. Hollow Square

7. German Creek

8. Forkland

9. Garret's Shop

10. Eutaw

11. Springfield

12. Knoxville

13. Union

14. Pleasant Ridge

15. Mount Hebron

16. Clinton

17. Boligee

Mantua

Mantua Precinct Landmarks

Museum
March 2006 photo:
Kim Jacobson

John Rice Room
March 2006 photo:
Kim Jacobson

Alabama Civil Rights
Freedom Farm Museum

 

Judge Hughes Rd. (Co. Rd. 183)
Mantua, AL 35462

Phone: 205-372-3446

Collection of shotgun houses depicting low-income black life 1930s–1960s. Houses named for Civil Rights pioneers such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy. Photographs, articles, other memorabilia.

Artesian Spring at Sipsey Mills March 2006 photo:
Kim Jacobson

 

Remains of Sipsey Mills
March 2006 photo:
Kim Jacobson

 

Sipsey River at Sipsey Mills site
March 2006 photo:
Kim Jacobson

 

Sipsey Mills cog wheel, possibly part of the dam further upstream. photo: Scott Owens

 

Remains of the iron girder bridge (c1920) located just upstream of the mill site. 
photo: Scott Owens

 

Sipsey Mills Ruins 
photo: Scott Owens

 

photo: Scott Owens
The eight or possibly nine solid brick foundation columns are three feet square and eight feet tall. They were four feet two inches apart and connected by arches to form a solid foundation base for the eighteen inch thick brick walls.  The river bed in front of the toppled foundation columns is entirely made up of broken brick from the fallen walls of the mill. No millstones can be found.

 

Another view of brick foundation columns.
photo: Scott Owens

 

 

 

 

Sipsey Mills
Article by Scott Owens

Jordan's and Lanier's Sipsey Mills, was a three-story brick structure built on the steep north bank of Sipsey River. A large, three-runner gristmill complex, it was the largest in southern Pickens and Greene counties. William B. Jordan, a prominent planter in the Mantua area of Pickens County, and Thomas C. Lanier, an equally prominent planter in Pleasant Grove, were proprietors of Sipsey Mills.

Lanier was a colonel in the Confederate army commanding the 42nd Alabama Infantry in the Army of Tennessee, at that time in North Carolina. This facility had a considerable grinding capacity of both corn and wheat; approximately 60,000 bushels of each grain could be milled in one year. Twelve mill workers were employed at the facility in 1860, and by 1865 the mill also served as a Confederate Commissary Depot. Tax-in-kind pork, mostly cured sides of bacon, recently collected in March, filled the warehouse, as well as barrels of flour and corn meal; these were intended for the Confederate Army of Tennessee and Forrest's cavalry.

The mill complex, on the southern edge of Pickens County, was situated about two miles north of the plantation community of Pleasant Ridge in Greene County, on the Selma-Columbus Stage Road, and just downstream of the strategic bridge on this major thoroughfare in west Alabama. At Pleasant Ridge the Selma-Columbus Stage Road crossed the Vienna-Northport Road, a designated post route which connected the river port on Tombigbee with Northport and Tuscaloosa on the Warrior. These roads had been traversed a week earlier by Jackson's Division of Forrest's Corps en route to Tuscaloosa, along with Forrest himself and his escort.


Sipsey Mills
Article by Bill Horton

The old mill site was also the site of a gin at some time after the war. It is only a mile and a half from William Horton's home.

The mill was operated at some point by Henry Horton who later went to Clinton and built the mill there.

According to Marcia Speir, the mill pond in Clinton was responsible for the malaria that decimated the town and led to it's loss of leadership in Greene County.

The mill was an undershot mill with no dam. One summer when the water was at its lowest the post holes in the blue rock bottom of the river could still be seen, indicating there was a wall of sorts in the river directing the water flow under the mill wheel. The old mill rocks were last seen in Billy Steele's back yard. Billy and I found these old rocks in the 1940's and I pulled them out of the ditch with a tractor in the 70s. Billy asked if he could use them for a patio so I let him have them with the understanding they would be returned if I ever had a use for them...

The bridge crossing the river some 200 yards upstream from the mill has collapsed, I heard, and that may be what was mistaken for a part of the mill. I looked at the site many times during a summer when the river was less than waist deep and never found any of the mechanical works of the mill - most of it was probably wood anyway. This bridge was in use as late as the 1930s and possibly in the 1940s and was still used after the first bridge across the Sipsey at the present location was built.

There is a massive concrete steam engine foundation with a 6-8 inch artesian well that was still running last time I was there. This presumably drove the gin, though it could have run the grist mill as well, with a few belts and line shafts...

This land north of the Sipsey was settled by William Wilder who was a neighbor of Jesse and Amos Horton in Wake County, hence the name "Wilder Quarters". When Lanier build the mill is not known nor is it known how he came to build it on Wilders land. Since the courthouse fire in Carrollton destroyed all records we will probably never know .

The road across the bridge was referred to in Greene County documents  as the "Selma to Columbus" road. The road from Tuscaloosa to Vienna intersected this road at the mill probably making it a  good location because of the traffic and access to well traveled roads.

This road can still be travelled, across Gulf States land leased out to a hunting club. From the mill site the north bound road followed the north side of the deep ditch traversing what used to be open fields. This road hits the hills at the approximate intersection of the ditch and the highway. There is a round dug well just off this road and at considerable elevation from the flat fields. I was told by Efraim McKinstry, who lived all his life on Wilder Quarters, that there was once a tavern or stage stop at this well.

From there the road winds through the rather steep red hills some five or six miles to Junior Craft's house in Benevola. 

There are several Wilders buried in the cemetery on the Summerville place (Bethany Church ???) The road from the mill to Vienna can still be followed - although it is difficult- and passes this church. The road from the bridge to Pleasant Ridge can also be easily followed across Charlie Hughes' place. It crossed the Pleasant Ridge to Lewiston road about where the tenant houses on William Steele's place are. This road passed within yards of the old William Horton home.

I have never been able to find any old road from Pleasant Ridge to Lewiston. There was one leading to the Spring Hill (?)Cumberland Presyterian Church.

In fact, there were never any old homes of the same vintage as the many "old" homes at the Ridge, raising the question of there being anyone living in Lewiston during the War Between the States. The Richardson home and the Ida Lavender/Homer Carpenter homes are the oldest homes there and they were definitely not of the same vinatage as the Grantham, Bibb, Jones, Williams, and Burton houses at the Ridge.

Ab Jayvine, who was a black minister of some repute, lived in an older home on the Lewiston to Clinton road not too far from the Cumberland Presyterian church (is that the Spring Hill church?) But the Jayvine home was hardly a part of any community.

The people buried in the cemetery at Spring Hill include many Kings, Scarboroughs, and other families who had ties to the Hortons and I suspect there was a well used road from the Horton/King community to this church. I have ridden this road from Carpenter's Store to Ab Jayvine in the forties, but with the paper company clearing and the changes made to the Grubb's land I doubt there is any trace of this road left.

Editor note: Spring Hill is most likely Pleasant Hill Cumberland Presbyterian Church & Cemetery.