Index Gurley Community & Town History
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From Our Past II

Article from an issue of the Gurley Record. To view the full size pictures click on the desired pictures. This article was generously submitted by Bill Walker. Thank you Bill for sharing this newspaper article left in your care by your ancestors. To download the archived document sent by Bill select the Download Archive link at the bottom of the page.

Article Copied from the Gurley Record Newspaper, Jan. 11, 1892

William Rutledge Gurley
William Rutledge Gurley
Gurley, Alabama: As this thriving and growing town is comparatively unknown to the country, save immediately around it, we think it but proper that the Record should acquaint the outside world with its history, progress, and importance. That all who read this may know the geographical position of the place, we state that it is in Madison County, Alabama, 17 miles east of Huntsville on the Memphis and Charleston railroad, near the line between Madison and Jackson Counties. And at that time, there was nothing here to distinguish the place except the tank. The village was called Gurley’s tank until 1877.

The post office was, however, called Gurleysville. A few years since the post office department changed the name of the post office to Gurley. There were then only three or four families living here. The first business house established in Gurley was in the spring of 1866 by the firm of King and Gurley, which was succeeded in 1868 by Mr. Jas F. Morrow. Then in 1869, Mr. K. T. Daniels was admitted as a partner of Mr. Morrow.

This general store was the only one here until up in the early 70s when Mr. J. B. Joplin, our present mayor, moved here and went into business. Each of these gentlemen, after a while, were succeeded by other firms.

During the year 1867, the first post office of Gurleysville was established. A Northern man by the name of Dunn was appointed postmaster. He served for only a short time and left for a more congenial life. Col. H. C. McBroome was made his successor followed by T. G. Morrow who remained several years. The land upon the town was built was entered about 1830 and was purchased from John Gurley I, and has remained in the Gurley family until measured off into town lots. Sara Ann Criner W. R. Gurley
Sara Ann Criner
(wife of W. R. Gurley)

Today, the oldest continued resident is Capt. Elijah F. Walker who moved here in early 1866 after distinguished service with the 6th Missouri Regiment, Company E, of the Confederate army.

Capt. Elijah F. Walker - 1866
Capt. Elijah F. Walker - 1866
(Soon after he came to Gurley)
Capt. Walker is husband to Matilda Gurley who is daughter of William R. Gurley and niece to Capt. Frank B. Gurley. In 1874, Capt. Walker erected the residence he is now living in. Capt. Walker represented Madison County in the 1888 Alabama legislature and also served two terms as County Commissioner.

The peculiar geographical position of the country around Gurley makes it a trade center for a large area or section of country 50 or 60 miles long and from 10-12 miles wide, which is in the finest agricultural belt in North Alabama.

Two years ago (1890) the town was incorporated under a general law having a population of about 120. One year ago, (1891) the town was incorporated by the act of the legislature, the population having increased over 200%. Now we have one of the most thriving, pushing, and growing little cities of about 1000 inhabitants that is to be found in North Alabama.

There are 24 business houses in the town that seem to have a lucrative trade. There are quite a number of manufacturing establishments consisting of Eagle Pencil Mill, Alabama Lumber and Mfg., Johnston Planning Mill, Walker and Sons Stave Factory, Gurley Barrel Hoop Factory, and other small industrial enterprises which give the town a thrifty appearance all seasons of the year.

Gurley's Tank about 1857
Gurley's Tank about 1857
In speaking of the citizens of Gurley, no higher compliment can be given than to say, without outside help, they have built three splendid churches in the last 12 months. The three churches built were Methodist, Missionary Baptist, and Cumberland Presbyterian. The education facilities of Gurley are as good, if not superior to any town of its size in the surrounding country. Gurley Academy has been built about five years on a beautiful elevation spot in the northern limits of town, and since its completion, a perfect success.
While Capts. E. F. Walker and F. B. Gurley owned most of the land on which the town is built, as well as that on which its extensions must be made, they have ever been anxious to see the town grow. Yet they have been opposed to anything like the speculative boom organized, at many other points, for the sole purpose of making money. F. B. Gurley
Rare photo of Capt. Frank B. Gurley
Estimated about 1875