Old Crossville – Near Molloy-Once Tennessee Hotel Stage Stop-Lamar Alabama

Old Crossville Aerial

Research of U. S. Post Office history revealed there was a post office at Old Crossville as early as 28 December, 1846 with Hugh McGaughey appointed postmaster. Joseph Pennington was appointed 9 February, 1849. The Crossville post office was changed to Military Springs 10 December, 1849. This area was Fayette County, Alabama during this time.

OLD CROSSVILLE WAS LOCATED NEAR MOLLOY IN LAMAR COUNTY

Residents of the Crossville, Community, which is about 10 miles from Vernon and about the same distance from Fayette, might be surprised to know that there was once a community called Crossville close to where the present community of Molloy is located. Known now as Old Crossville, the community was built at the intersection of Military and Colbert Roads and was the site of several plantations, a store a church, a stagecoach inn and a post office.

Information about Old Crossville was collected in 1948 by Drexal Hayes from her grandmother-in-law, Mrs. Penin Hayes. Drexel Hayes, retired Lamar County High School history teacher interviewed her husband’s grandmother, Penin Hayes, as a part of the requirements for her thesis on Lamar County history. For this work, she re-creates the scene as she remembers it.

INTERVIEW

DREXEL: “Granny, I’ve been collecting information about places that were of interest and importance fifty years ago, or even longer, and when I heard you and Mr. Van talking about Old Crossville, I realized here is a place right here at home that I would like to know about.”

GRANNY:  “I don’t know that I can tell you very much. We were just saying there’s nothing left but one house and a cemetery.”

DREXEL: “It really was a village though? At one time?”

GRANNY: “Yes, it was a fairly good sized community or village as you say. You know this old road that runs back of the farm here, it was called the Jackson Military Road, and where it crossed the old Colbert Road…….all roads used to be named, not numbered, well, at the crossing of these roads was Crossville. There was a store, a post office, a blacksmith shop, a school, a Methodist Church, and near-buy there was a brick kiln.”

DREXEL: “Were there many dwelling houses?”

GRANNY: “Yes, there were several, and around this area there were several plantations with large houses, but few slaves, I’ve been told. One of the largest landowners was Old John ‘Grancer’ Hayes who homesteaded several thousand acres from the government in 1835. Darnell was another large landowner.”

DREXEL: “Strange how a thriving community at one time will just fade out, Granny. How about identifying yourself?”

GRANNY: “Why, you know of course, I’m Penin Hayes. Why do you ask that?”

DREXEL: “Well, you see, I want to keep this and I want you to tell me a little about yourself. You were born……?”

GRANNY: “October 4th, 1863 in the Flat Community.”

DREXIL: “Your parents were?”

GRANNY: “My father was Richard Livingston, and he built the first stone in Vernon, and my mother was Missouri Pennington Livingston. Had you ever thought about how many generations of Hayes’ have lived on the land that old ‘Grancer’ Hayes got from the government? This is a part of it, and our Rachel must be about the seventh generation to live here.”

DREXEL: “Isn’t that something to be proud of? Let’s go on a bit Granny. Your husband was L. J.?”

GRANNY: “LaFayette Jackson Hayes, and his father was Mansfield Hayes, who died during the War Between the States in Corinth, Mississippi.”

DREXAL: “I surely do appreciated this information Granny. Thank you for taking the time to tell me.”

GRANNY: “That’s about the only thing I have now….time.”

NOTE: The seven generations mentioned by Penin Hayes are as follows: “Grancer” John Hayes, John Hayes, Mansfield Hayes, La Fayette Jackson Hayes, Van Dorn Hayes, Cloyce Van and Drexel Hayes and Rachel Van Hayes Morrison, their daughter. Source: The Commercial Dispatch Columbus, Mississippi Monday afternoon May 7, 1979 written by Rose Marie Smith.

Recollections of Penin Hayes

The community of Old Crossville, in Lamar County, Alabama, I grew up at is not to be confused with the community known in 1983 as Crossville. The current community of Crossville is located in the south eastern portion of Lamar County. It was established as a village in the early 1900’s. However even as early as the 1850’s, Crossville was a well settled area situated in Lawrence’s Beat of what was then Fayette County. The Hartsook Road, named for John O. Hartsook of Fayette County was on Old Settlement road which passed through the Crossville Community.

The community known as Old Crossville is currently known as Old Crossville named “Molloy” for the Molloy family which settled the area in the 1860’s.  There was a cotton gin operated by a horse driven screw type machine.

Vernon is the county seat of Lamar. It was established in 1867 and was first named Swayne. The first store build by Richard Livingston ( Mrs. Penin Hayes’father) was owned by Artie Summers. (Summers’s store below)

Summers Store (2) (803x592)Source Rose Marie Smith Collection History Room Mary Wallace Cobb Memorial Library Vernon, Alabama.

More Old Crossville

Jordan once owned a livery stable. They also operated a surrey service to carry folks from Vernon to Memphis.

Jimmy Jordan one of the 13 Jordan children met the train for the body of Rube Burrows and the family home on Jackson’s Old Military Road was the site of, a stage coach inn. The old place, called the Tennessee Hotel is gone now, but as Young Moore put it, “There’s a good bit of history in our community”.

Mrs. Moore recalls her Aunt Isabelle like so many other southern women sheered the sheep, carded the wool and made her thread on a handmade spinning wheel. Then she wound the thread on her arm and put it in balls before she used it to make socks, sweaters and mittens. “And my grandmother made cloth”, Ruby Gray Moore said. “She made a coverlet for each of her children from cloth she made herself”.

Jackson’s Old Military Road, which passed through the Crossville Community is surrounded by numerous tales, some true, some not so true. Community members claim there are graves along the road of soldiers who died when Gen. Jackson marched through.

Community members also say there was once gold buried along Jackson’s route some place in the community. A great deal of digging has gone on around the road bed, from time to time, but so far as anyone knows the only metal ever found were “several horse shoes and one shovel plow”.

Garvis Moore, formerly of the Crossville Community, thinks there was once as much interest near the old Jack Hopper place as anywhere in Lamar County, “Will Beasley made eel traps down on the creek,” Moore recalled. “He’d catch eels by the wagon loads.”

And then down by the swamp, there is a mill race. The handmade brick foundation is still visible and Moore recalls the tale of a walk-in-well on the Hopper Place. The well, some 30 feet in diameter had a brick stairway leading down to the water. It is told that slaves went down the steps to haul the water up.

Finally, of course, there was the Will-o-the-wisp. “I saw it once myself,” said Garvis Moore, who admitted it was a scary sight. Across the ditch and east of Nebo Church near the old Gardner Lampkin place, a man named Porter lived. Some nights the swamp gas would catch fire and appear to roll across the damp swamp. People called it Porter’s Light.

As for the landmarks, legends lore of the Old Crossville Community, Young Moore sums it up the best. “You’ll run off and leave more in your own backyard then you’ll ever find anywhere else.” Article written by Rose Marie Smith published in The Commercial Dispatch, Columbus, Mississippi December 16, 1979.

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