In October of last year, we traveled “Down Memory Lane,” remembering J.L. Maddox Jr.
I purposely saved the information about his father, John Luther Maddox Sr., and the old Maddox Store to begin our 2018 St. Clair County bicentennial year.
As you read about this remarkable man, you will know why he was so important to Odenville’s heritage.
John Luther Maddox Sr. was born in 1869 in Anniston. He moved to St. Clair County in 1887, where he engaged in farming up to 1895. He then was a retail merchant in Julian, Alabama.
He married Sarah Elizabeth Jones in 1895 in Odenville. They were the parents of five children: Myrtle Anne, Jackson “Jack” Majors, John Luther Jr., Chesley (Chess) Benton and Tennie Elizabeth.
He was a self-made man and was successful in all his undertakings. He was prominent in locating St. Clair County High School in Odenville. He was greatly interested in educational matters, good roads and the general development of Odenville and the adjacent territory.
In 1900, he worked on getting a telephone line from Springville to Beaver Valley.
In 1902, he opened a store at the railroad cut at Hardwick. While managing that store, he bought the General Merchandise Store in 1904. That store was on the corner on Highway 411 and Third Avenue. It is pictured above.
In 1904, he built a home for Odenville's first doctor, C.C. Brown.
At the same time Maddox built that home, he began building his own home on the Springville cutoff. He moved his family from Julian to Odenville in 1905. (By the way, it’s worth mentioning that the house he built for Brown is now the beautiful home owned by Joe Whitten.)
Maddox owned and edited Odenville’s first newspaper, the St. Clair County News. It was established in 1908. Tradition says the first edition was printed on silk.
When the two-seater motor buggy appeared on the roads, he was one of the first to own a new automobile. His auto was made to carry about six passengers and was reportedly fast. That was in the fall of 1909. His auto was nicknamed “Maddox’s motorcar,” and there were lots of funny memories floating around about that.
One of Maddox’s trips to Birmingham was reported in the St Clair County News. “When about half way there, the gasoline gave out, and he and his passengers were obliged to walk about 5 or 6 miles across to the Central of Georgia Railway at Henry Ellen, where they took a train for the city.”
Maddox died in September 1935 in Leeds. He is buried in Odenville’s Liberty Cemetery, next to his wife, who preceded him in death.
I wish I could have known this exceptional man. I do, however, know him through his granddaughter, Mary Ann Moore, center manager at the Odenville Senior Center, and through his great-granddaughter, Lee Ann Clark, who writes a column for the St. Clair Times and is the county extension coordinator for St. Clair County. His legacy still lives on today.