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Early History of Vincent



Raley House

In 1978 the Raley House in Vincent was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
William Daniel Raley, the original owner of the house, was a farmer, but also owned a store and a sawmill known as Raley & Davis Lumber Company.
He was one of Vincent's early mayors and was benevolent in his gifts of lumber to build a school for his employees' children and the Methodist Church, both of which were built in 1891.
A local carpenter, George Bilbry drew the plans and constructed the Raley House around 1890.
The gables of the Raley house are filed with ornate woodwork. All doors still have the original wooden spindle screens.
A log smokehouse and servants' quarters are also on the premises.



The Town of Vincent in Shelby County

Shelby County Reporter
Thursday, January 3, 1929

Copied by Bobby Joe Seales

Written by W.W. Levie, Pastor Vincent Methodist Church.

The beautiful and thriving town of Vincent is located on the Coosa river, 40 miles southeast of Birmingham on the Florida Short Route. It is in the northeastern corner of Shelby county, approached from the east by Glover's ferry and from the south by Chancellor's ferry.

Vincent lies in the Coosa valley whose soil is famed for its fertility and its abundant productiveness

The town boasts a population of 1,050 folks and they are as good and as progressive people as may be found elsewhere in the south. Two churches, the Methodist and the Missionary Baptist have a total membership of about 700. The churches are well organized and their work is of untold benefit to the entire community. There is a high-ranking Eastern Star lodge and the Masonic Lodge is in a thriving condition.

The town and the county about us are very proud of the new accredited high school with its fifteen teachers, it commodious plant and its 400 well-pleased students. At great sacrifices on the part of our people and with generous aid from state and county, a complete high school plant, appraised at $75,000 was erected on one of the most beautiful sites in our town. Everything in high school life is being rapidly developed. The vocational department is doing splendid work, the home economics department has reached a point of real worth and efficiency and our music department is so crowded that two full-time teachers are employed. A complete library is being supplied and the athletic department is doing good work with the entire student body on its daily program.

The Central of Georgia Railway, part of the Illinois Central system, serves Vincent with four passenger trains daily. The A.B. & C. Railway runs through the town daily four passenger trains. This gives easy connections with all parts of the state. Vincent is connected with the Southern Bell Telephone system and is on the Western Union telegraph lines. The town is lighted by, and receives power from, Alabama Power Company.

A modern dairy with 300 cows is a great asset to the community; the new electrically driven gin is one of the best in the State. Agricultural possibilities are almost unlimited. We now produce about 2,500 bales of cotton a year and if the labor could be had this could be doubled easily. Every crop known to southern farms can be grown in this vicinity, including cotton, corn, oats, wheat, peanuts, rye, barley, peas, beans, clover, vetch, millets of all varieties, cane, potatoes, fruits, such as apples, peaches, strawberries, pecans and all kinds of garden vegetables.

There are eleven modern general mercantile companies, one drug store, and two garages. We have two efficient doctors, a dental office and a barber shop. The Citizens State Bank is owned and controlled by local interests and has a capital stock of $15,000.

Vincent is one of the best locations that can be found for a cotton mill or other textile plant. North of us are many of the best springs that can be found anywhere and east of us is the Coosa river. Spring creek, made up from springs, runs through the town and will furnish water for almost any kind of industry.

Just north of us a short distance is one of the finest quarries of limestone to be found in the state. We have a good school for the children of the workers, the Alabama Power Company to run the machinery, two railroads that will carry the freight and a citizenship that will gladly co-operate with any company that might locate here.



Early History of Vincent Related

Shelby County Reporter
Thursday, April 6, 1961

Copied by Bobby Joe Seales

Written by Mrs. T.W. Bell, Sr..

The early history of Vincent, like charity, begins at home, more specifically at my home (Mrs. T.W. Bell, Sr.).

Early in the 1800's a large area of land was a grant by the Governor to the Kidds. This home was built in the 1840's. I have a very interesting copy of the will of one John W. Kidd dated November 8, 1859. The will had to do with his second wife and her children. She was named Georgiana. The children of the first wife had already been settled. In this will part of one paragraph says, "I have heretofore given by way of advancement to my children" ... to my daughters, Mrs. Harriett McGraw, Mrs. Anna Vincent and Mrs. Mollie Lyde. It is on this land they inherited the present town of Vincent is located.

The original home of the McGraw's could have been the Lewis place (where the Clements negroes now live). The new house, two-story colonial, was built in slavery time. Expert carpenters and designers using slaves for the heavy work. The hand made doors, windows, blinds, wainscotting, hand finished ceilings and stairway is still a memorial to the skillful workmanship of more than a hundred years ago. Mrs. Anna Vincent said the family moved in the new house when she was 3 years old. The building took a period of 2 years or more.

The Vincent's built a house where the present cotton gin is located. The present school building is located on the Lyde site. The Lewis place had several different owners before becoming the property of Mrs. Bell. It was sold by Dr. J.Y. Inzer to A.F. Bell who bought it before buying the new place for Mrs. Bell, who bought both places in 1879.

The Lewis place could be the oldest house in Vincent.

After the sale to Mrs. Bell the McGraw family moved to Harpersville. Vincents and Lydes continued to live here.

Now comes the "FIRSTS" ...
The first store was built on the lot now occupied by the Charlie White Shop. The building was still standing in 1905.

The name of the Post Office was Propel, and was located in the Ed Elliott vicinity, in a small store. It was established in 1887 and the name was changed from Propel to Vincent in 1888, after the Railroad came through. The first postmaster was James M. Meacham. There was a star route from Wilsonville to Cropwell and mail was carried on horseback.

Next would come the first school. This school was located near where Marvin Elliott now lives. It was called Elliott school, operated in 1854-1888. Teacher's pay depended on how much tuition was paid in for the pupils. Some times there was not enough pay for a teacher and the children had to walk to Harpersville (3 miles). One of the first teachers was Mrs. Lucy McGraw.

Some notable men such as Henry Willingham and John Abercrombie were state Superintendents of Education. Dr. W.H. Elliott attended and later taught in the school.

The first Baptist church was near the big spring that now supplies Vincent Waterworks. It was called Spring Creek Baptist Church and was torn down and moved in 1895 to the present location of the First Baptist Church (until 1960 it was the Vincent Baptist Church). The old building was brick veneered and added to in about 1945. The present pastor is Rev. H. Lindy Martin. The Methodist had to attend church at Rehobeth (about 3 miles above Vincent) or go to Harpersville until a church in Vincent was organized. It was built on the present lot given by Mrs. Lizzie Bell in 1891. Each church just had services once per month for years, then twice monthly for many years. Both are full time now. The present pastor is Rev. Fred Holmes.

The Vincent Study Club was organized in 1925 by Mrs. R.T. McGraw. The Vincent Garden Club was organized in 1949 and has added much to the beautification of the town.

The Railroad was built through the village in 1888. It was then that it was named VINCENT ... [named for an early settler, James Joshua "Jim" Vincent] Jim Vincent, husband of Anna McGraw Vincent, owned the land on the east side of the Coosa Valley Road. The first Railroad Agent was Mollie Key of Salem, Alabama. She married John M. Kidd, a merchant.

After the Railroad was built enough people came to incorporate the town [by the state legislature on February 16, 1897] and the town site 2-1/2 miles in each direction from the railroad station was surveyed and laid off in streets and avenues, blocks and lots ... this was done in 1891 ... John A. Edwards, civil engineer and co-surveyor of Talladega did the work.

The first election of town officials was held April 5, 1897. T.W. Bell was the first mayor; councilmen elected were E.P. Chandler, J.J. Lawley, G.W. Cospers, J.E. Harris and W.W. Wood.

The mayor was head of the school board and hired all the teachers. This practice was in force in 1905 and a few years longer. Some of the past mayors are: A.W. Tucker, Joe H. Cunningham, Thomas C. Elliott, Dr. J.W. Arthur and Solon E. McGraw.

Early doctors were Dr. A.E. McGraw and Dr. Singleton. Later came Dr. E.P. Chandler, Dr. J.C. Embry from St. Clair County who had a large practice and also owned much real estate. In 1918 Dr. J.W. Arthur came.

[Insert ... A copy of a very well-written "History of Vincent, Alabama" by Linda Thompson Duke in 1975 is located at the Shelby County Museum & Archives.]

Additional Bits of Information by Bobby Joe Seales

Alabama's oldest known living Christmas tree thrives in downtown Vincent with an annual lighting ceremony at the Christmas Parade. [See the Shelby County Reporter dated December 17, 2008 for additional information.] In 2009 the Florey Cotton Gin in Vincent was named to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The gin, built in the early 20th century, was used until approximately 1968. It was a very important part of the economy years ago.[See the Shelby County Reporter, dated March 25, 2009 for additional information concerning this cotton gin.]

On October 3, 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau officially declared Vincent as a city with a total of 2,003 residents and 901 housing units. [See the Shelby County Reporter, dated October 24, 2012 for additional information concerning "Vincent officially becomes city".] On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, the Town Council voted unanimously for the municipality to officially become the City of Vincent. The mayor is Ray McAllister.

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