The W. T. Smith Lumber Company of Chapman Alabama


I am sure this story has been told many times, but this time I give this story to you in honor of my Great-grandfather Thomas Columbus (LUM) Grace and his children Zell, Elmo (my grand- pa), Estle, Elred, Glenn, Thomas and Henry (Dude) Grace and their relatives that worked for this mill for many hours and many years.

Of course I have to mention my granny, Catherine Melissa Page Grace that took care of her husband and all the boys with the help of  daughters Katie Lou and Mattie Mae. She was the daughter of James Andrew Page and Nancy J. Wright of Garland, Butler County, Alabama.

GRACE Family of Garland, Glenn E., Estle B.,
back row John Elmo, Katie Lou, Zell B., Catherine Melissa Page Grace, Thomas
W., Henry C., not in picture: Mattie Mae  and Thomas Columbus were dead by
this time.. and Eldred Jackson was not in the picture.


Citing the book Butler County In The Nineteenth Century, by Mairlyn Davis Hahn, I could not tell this history any better than Thomas A. Lundham, a resident of Brewton, Alabama did for the Brewton Standard, on January 16, 1953, ( my father-in-laws birthday and the birth year of my husband)….. This had to be a sign.

K. L. Davis and sons about 1883 built the first sawmill in Chapman.  The mill produced about 12 to 15 thousand feet of lumber per day and was known as the Old Chapman Hill Mill.

Early Mill Photo

The mill soon changed management; those being Mr. Sutton, Mr. Thurston,  Mr. Chapman and Mr. Kirkland. During this time the first log train was purchased and ran along a pole road.

An addition was made about 1890 and with it came the little locomotive called “Old Prince” that ran on iron rails. Mr. Chapman left soon after this for Georgia and the operations was run by  Kirkland  and  Mollette.

The same year, the mill was sold to W. T. Smith Lumber Company and operated for ten to twelve years, then, it was sold again to  Pad  Foshee and the McGowin family and was operated for about fifty years under the W. T. Smith Lumber Company.  This along with two additional mills came the town of Chapman, Alabama, located about twelve miles from Greenville, Butler County, Alabama.   A commissary was soon built in
the lumber town, it was first built out of round pine poles and much later they built a new commissary out of lumber.

Mill Photo circa 1900

Starting in the 1890’s, Mr. W.T. Smith would send his little engine  “Old Prince” with four flatbed cars, east ten to twelve miles to bring people to church on Sundays.

Today, Chapman, Butler County and the W. T. Smith Lumber Mill is remembered for the businesses and residents that have grown from the good hard working forefathers who worked so hard to see dreams come true from the southern pines, sparkle eyed children, and the love of family, neighbors and friends of Chapman, Alabama.

Picture of the train... later photo when it was pulling a coach car.

 As a girl my family lived for a few years in Troy, Pike County, Alabama and we would pass through Chapman on our trips to visit my grandparents, John Elmo and Florence Grace and Seaborn and James E. (aunt Eddie) Brundage in Evergreen, Alabama, many times we would beg our father and mother, James M. (Sonny) and Kathleen Grace Bryant, to stop and let my brother, Larry, and I have just the chance to stand
on the on Little Engine that had taken my grandfather and his father’s family to church on Sundays and just to remember what this little engine was in it’s day, these days are long behind us now and they are but a memory ,but fond memories they are. Our parents and grandparents are all passed to their rewards and we have these warm memories to remind us of who they were and from where they came…

So I hope this gives you a little history and a look into the past as it was then and what we have become today.

I hope we can all have dreams like the dreams that have come true for those that have passed before us.

Pamela Kay Anderson
Monroeville, Alabama

© 2002 Butler County ALGenWeb Coordinator