More about Gurley's history
Gurley Lions Club serving the Gurley community since 1948

From Our Past XIII

Faces from Gurley's Past - Part 4

In a long forgotten cedar trunk found in a long forgotten Gurley attic, there rested two leather bound photo albums containing photos of early residents of Gurley. One album was a Christmas present given to a cousin named Matilda (Matilda Gurley Walker -1854-1931) from Cousin Clara (Clara McBride). It was dated December 25, 1886. The photos are of people of all ages.

Many of these photos are identified by name but many are not. Many of these people are ancestors of current Gurley citizens. Some will be recognized by photos currently in old albums in the possession of our readers.
The Gurley Website and From Our Past ask if anyone can identify some of the unknown photos, please submit their names and any other pertinent information to our website.
Thank you,
Please send information to: Webmaster f
Victorian photo album This elaborate Victorian photo album (pictured left) was one of the albums found in the Lawler trunk. It is quite elegant and decorated with high relief bronze scrolling and ivory insert of cherubs.

It is very interesting to observe the styles and fashions of the day. Rarely was a portrait taken without the subject dressing up in their finery. In those days, posing for a photo session was a big event and required their best appearance. Women in the late nineteenth century wore long dresses to cover up their legs and ankles. Men's suits were usually a dark color, more often black. Folks always dressed up for church and usually put on their finery for most social gatherings. Without air conditioning, July and August in Alabama could be quite uncomfortable. One could only imagine how these early citizens felt when they got dressed up in all their heavy dark clothes in summer.
Lula Nelson The photo on the left was Lula Nelson at age 26. It was taken September 1892.
On the right was Isabel May McBride. It is interesting to note the local photographer shown on most of the photos was J. T. Simms, Jackson Street, Gurleys, Ala. It was noted on the back of these photos that both of these women were cousins to Clara Walker of Gurley. Isabel May McBride
Frank Walker
Frank Walker
Lula Shipp
Lula Shipp

Both of the photos above were taken by the local Gurley photographer J. T. Simms. On the back of the Frank Walker photo, it was noted they wanted a reprint of one 16" X 20" print and the instructions were to touch up the print where the mustache was to be a "medium set" and the lapel flowers were to be removed. This photo may have been a proof and it is possible the 16 X 20 was retouched as requested. The larger photo was never found.

Debow Esslinger
Debow Esslinger
There is another picture (may be the same picture) in the Madison County Courthouse
Steven McBroom, also known as Thomas McBroom
He was the first tax collector of Madison County and 2nd sherriff
There is another picture (may be the same picture) in the Madison County Courthouse.
Provider of the information: Chad and Mary McBroom.

It is not known who these gentlemen were but it is presumed both were local Gurley residents. It is also suggested that Debow Esslingser could have been a suitor or good friend of Clara Walker. The man on the right looks to be in his fifties or sixties when the photo was taken about 1892-1895. The initials on the back of the photo "JBS" hopefully will help to identify him by our readers.

Will Walker and Jim Alexander
Will Walker and Jim Alexander
Ellie Spivey
Ellie Spivey
Unknown Lady Standing
ClaraMcBrideinkitchen.jpg (24974 bytes)
Clara McBride in her kitchen