Ever wish you could step back in time and be part of the excitement as people gather waiting for the stagecoach to arrive? The Stagecoach-Postal Route was established by an Act of Congress on May 13, 1820.
“Springer and Pollard Stagecoach Lines” ran between Pulaski, Tenn., and Montevallo for a total of 133 miles. The mail was delivered semi-weekly at $25 per trip. There were 13 mail stops along this route. It traveled through six Alabama counties.
The stagecoach would leave Ashville at 4 a.m. and arrive in Montevallo the next day at 9 a.m. It was a 29-hour ride amidst wild animals, inclement weather, and probably hostile Indians and Outlaws.
Guess what? Our Branchville (now part of Odenville) and our Ashville were actual stagecoach stops on the Ashville to Montevallo route. The Branchville Post Office was established July 29, 1834. When the Ashville courthouse was built in 1844, stagecoaches were traveling the Ashville-Montevallo Road. The John Looney House (near Ashville) and Henry Little Log Home on Highway 119 (Leeds) are part of this stagecoach route.
The Branchville Stagecoach Stop was believed to have been a two-story building that had a post office, general store, tavern, and possibly sleeping quarters upstairs for people traveling on the stagecoach. This old building stood for probably three-quarters of a century.
Fast forward to 1859, Spencer G. Hurst, Sr. was recorded as being the postmaster. The building was located close to present day Willie's Garage on U.S. 411. Through the St. Clair Historical Society, Paul and Ann Coupland placed a historical Stagecoach Stop marker at the site where the Spencer Hurst building was located. Ann Coupland is a great-great-granddaughter of Spencer G. Hurst, Sr. Many of you know Randy Hurst, and he is one of the great-great-grandsons.
Can you imagine the excitement in the air when this stagecoach was spotted galloping into town. The post office was the only means of communication in those days. I can visualize the town folks assembling on rainy days, laughing, buying candy from big glass jars, and watching playful youngins, and maybe even having a tasty drink as they waited hoping to get a letter from a loved one away at war or from a family member left behind in another state.
It’s exciting to know that the old horse watering trough that the stagecoach used is still in existence today. It's where many farmers and travelers stopped to let their horses drink. It's located near the corner, where Blue Star Tax Service is at the present time.
Leeds Historical Society has historical markers preserving this same original stagecoach route and they have a replica of the stagecoach. The replica is in the carriage house at Rowan Oaks Historic Home in Leeds. I was not able to get a picture, but the stagecoach will probably be on display at the upcoming John Henry Festival in Leeds on Sept. 21.
Next time you stare out the window and notice a Stagecoach route marker, I hope you feel as though you have just stepped inside a memory.
You can contact Mary Ellen Sparks at Odenville1914@gmail.com.