Welcome to Beatrice

This sign welcomes travelers to Beatrice, population 301.

Wednesday, July 30, 2:15 p.m. – BEATRICE – Anniston isn’t the only town along Alabama 21 that carries a woman’s first name.

Anniston’s founders wanted to call the city Woodstock, but that was already taken. So they chose Anniston, a version of “Annie’s town,” for the wife of one of the sons of city co-founder Gen. Daniel Tyler.

Here in northern Monroe County, the town of Beatrice owns a similar story. It’s named for Beatrice Seymour, the granddaughter of an influential railroad supervisor back in the day. Beatrice, incorporated in 1901 and with a population of 301, isn’t as large as Anniston – by a long shot – but it’s one of the more interesting places in this part of Alabama 21’s south-of-Montgomery route.

Beatrice started, like many others in these parts, as a railroad town. At one point it was the railroad link between Selma and Pensacola. It is surrounded by timber lands that dominate part of Monroe County and points north and west in Alabama’s Black Belt region. Logging trucks are prominent. J.F. Shields High School, home of the Panthers, sits on the east side of 21 right in the middle of town. (J.F. Shields is home to only 270 students, K4 through 12th grade.)

What’s Beatrice’s calling card? It may be the Beatrice Meat Co., which operates a plant on the town’s southern side. Sausage is so important to the town’s economy and history that it holds a sausage festival each year.

— Phillip Tutor