Honoraville talks Crenshaw County history

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Crenshaw County Historical Society hosted its third “Let’s Talk History, Crenshaw” meeting Sunday at Union Baptist Church in Honoraville. More than 20 past and present Honoraville residents came out to share stories of the people and places they remember related to the small north Crenshaw County community.

Honoraville native, Leesa Massey, a lifetime area resident and Union Baptist member, welcomed the society and community members to the discussion centered around Honoraville.

“Welcome to Union Baptist Church, where I have been a member since 1965.” Massey said. “We are thankful the Historical Society has chosen to meet here this afternoon. I know ya’ll have lots of stories to share and we’re going to learn a lot today.”

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After a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, attendees introduced themselves. Among those present were some of the community’s senior natives including Massey’s aunt Doris Massey Rogers, Glenn Mothershed, and Wilson DePriest, who all attended Honoraville school from first through ninth grade.

“Doris and I started to school in a two-room building down here below the cemetery,” DePriest said. “That was around 1935.”

Many other attendees recalled attending the school in a “newer” building constructed where the Honoraville Senior Center stands today.

DePriest recalled serving as principal there and others noted many happy days spent at the school and in the two-story structure of the church which formerly served as the sanctuary with a Mason Lodge on the second floor, but now accommodates the congregation’s fellowship hall.  

“Honoraville didn’t have a gymnasium,” DePriest said. “We used to play basketball at night. They fixed a nice tennis court right here at the side of the building. The WPA put up a fence and ran lights overhead and held games at night. They charged a dime to get in. They had the Sims boys and the Stringers and Morris Massey. They had a great basketball team.”

Mary Morgan, a Birmingham resident and Crenshaw County native, said she felt almost everyone present mention an ancestry with whom she could connect.

“My grandmother Morgan was a Howard,” she explained. “I am here directly because the Howards are the people who built the Howard House which is the Historical Museum now. I’m really proud of that and I know my parents worked hard to see it happen. If they could just look down on it, I know they’d be happy to see this today.”

Black Rock resident, Pam Speed, migrated with her family from Florida to Crenshaw County in the 1980s. And while she didn’t have deep connections with Honoraville citizens, she came to the meeting with a keen desire to learn more about the county’s history.

“I don’t have a lot of history here, but I love history,” she said. 

Society president Oleta Owens and secretary/treasurer Pam Campbell brought county artifacts for attendees to view. Many present also brought family photos and some donated those to the society for preservation in the museum.

“James Tucker gave me several color pictures of the former Tucker store,” Owens said. “He gave me a picture of the grist mill and a corn grinder inside a local building.”

Owens said society members host “Let’s Talk History, Crenshaw” meetings to facilitate community discussion of local history. After the meeting, several small groups were floating plans to gather again to exchange photos and stories of shared memories.

The society will hold another “Let’s Talk History, Crenshaw” meeting at the Dozier Senior Center on July 23 at 2 p.m. as a discussion of the Dozier community. The event is free and open to the public.