Butler County, Alabama

McKenzie, Alabama
[formerly Dunham Station]

Submitted by Mildred Stinson Brown

Named for civil engineer, soldier and member of the Alabama Constitutional Convention, Bethune Beaton McKenzie, this community is located in the southern section of Butler County north of the Butler-Covington county line. He built a sawmill in the area known as Dunham Station and was its principal owner.

McKenzie a depot stop on the railroad line that extended to Andalusia. As the railroad was being built, a settlement sprang up along the line. Robert A. [Bob] Lee built a store just south of the McKenzie settlement. His is believed to be the first store in the area. The post office was moved from the lumber mill to Persimmon Creek in 1899. The name McKenzie was adopted in 1900.

A boarding house ofter beds for the laborers for ten cents a day. This included meals. S. D. Sellers opened a store, as did D. B. Sellers [Dan] and Sons. The first known house to be built was that of J. C. Huggins completed in March, 1899. Dan Sellers also built a home in McKenzie.

By 1905, the town population was about 65. There were four general stores, a hardware, a drug store, a millinery shop, a sawmill, and a cotton gin. It is believed that the incorporation of McKenzie was about 1913. [No information on photo or its origin.]

McKenzie Baptist Church

It was in the year 1898 the A. & F. Railroad began operation in and through what is now the town of McKenzie. The fine pine tumber land near the town was a great asset, as well as the fine farming land after the timber was removed. As the little town grew, the progressive citizens built one of the best schools in the county, and the citizens of different faiths began to build church houses to accommodate their members.

In the year 1903, the Missionary Baptist organized and began the erection of a church building. The church was organized wit heleven members, as follows: Mr. and Mrs. B. F. GRIFFIN, Mrs. Clark HUGGINS, Mr. and Mrs. Bob LEE, Mr. and Mrs. Luther SEARCY, Mr. and Mrs. Sid TILLERY, Mrs. S. D. MAJORS, and Mrs. Joe HUGGINS.

The presbytery in charge of organizing this church was the Rev. Bill TOLLIVER, who at this time was pastor of the First Church of Greenville. He was assisted by the Rev. A. T. SIMS, who became the first pastor.

Other pastors throught the years have been W. T. DAVIDSON, Calvin FORRESTOR, BRAZIL, CALLOWAY, COOK, SHEARS, NEW, GOUGH, HOGGAN, BAGGETT, THARP, PARISH, BENSON, CUMBIE, and the present pastor is L. E. PITTS.

From this church, Johnny HIGDON felt the call of God to preach, was ordained, and at this time is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Butler, Alabama, in Choctaw County. Another to be ordained from this church was Ben TAYLOR, who is now serving the church in Red Level.

This church, although small in numbers and surrounded by a number of different faiths, has a splendid Sunday School and Training Union. The church also owns a nice pastorium. The pastor serves this church two Sundays per month and the Bethel Church two Sundays per month. [written by the late Rev. J. W. Joyner, about 1957]

Elizabeth Baptist Church

This church is located in Butler County on the northern outskirts of McKenzie, AL (just off County Road 45). Adjecent to the the church is a cemetery.

Bethel Baptist Church

Like a number of other churches in the county, we have not been able to find any record of the early beginning of Bethel. However, we know enough to place the organizing in the first part of 1850. In the historical table in Associational minutes, the date is given as 1847. This may be correct, but we have not been able to find any record to prove this date. In the old recrods of Mt. Olive East, a minute records the fact that my father, W. H. JOYNER, was called to become pastor of Bethel Church in the year 1876 and asked Mt. Olive East Church to ordain him. The writer read an old minute fo the Bethlehem Association of 1880, and it revealed the fact that G. A. RILEY went as a messenger from the Bethel Church. The writer, who was born in the year 1877, and was brought up in the adjoining community, was pastor of the church for four years, and can give the following facts in regard to the church:

Bethel Church building was located near the "Riley Grave Yard" until around 1924, when it was moved to the present site on the Greenville and McKenzie Highway, ten miles from McKenzie. The active members of the church through the years were the RILEYs, GRIFFINs, JOHNSONs, HAILs, BOANs, GILMOREs, and WOODS. In the lst twenty-five years, to this number have been added the HARWELLs, WHITEHEADs, NALLs and DAVISes.

Pastors as I recall them, were W. H. JOYNER, C. C. LOYD, J. A. HOLLY, A. C. SHELL, J. W. JOYNER, A. T. SIMS, C. E. MORMAN, C. W. STITT, W. A. GAUGH, J. A. FORTNER, Guy MARLOW, and the present pastor is L. E. PITTS.

Church is small in membership but one of the most active of the Associaiton in its cooperation of carrying out the commission of our Lord to carry the gospel message to a lost world.

Because of this long, useful life and his loyalty to Bethel Church, and having served faithfully as treasurer of the Butler County Association for twenty-one years, we are making special mention of G. A. RILEY. We also make special mention of W. M. HARWELL, from this church, who served as treasurer of the Association for thirteen years. [written by the late Rev. J. W. Joyner, about 1957]

1939 Cane Patch

Pictured above is a sugar cane field that was worked by Thomas Walton Smith. Taken in 1939, the photo shows two mules standing in the middle of a stand of cane.

Church and cane patch photos courtesy of Lucile Stinson.

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Page updated 30 Dec 2009.