This train was not like a passenger train. It was just for the purpose of pulling coal, ergo its small size. L. A. "Dock" Kelton is one of the men standing in front of the train. In 1909, when his wife sent word that she was giving birth, he sent word back, "Go ahead, that's woman's stuff, I'm working." He called the train "The Dinky," saying "He kept the Dinky running,"
We all enjoy having relatives visit; it gives us an opportunity to catch up on what's going on in each others lives. It is even more special when that relative has the ability to bring the past back to life. Such was the case for me not long ago. Born at the Stouts Mountain Mines in 1920, Carl Mayfield, my cousin, conveyed to me what it was like to swim in the "Ole swimming hole," (In the 20's) located on the south side of the "Old railroad bed," about five miles west of Hanceville, Alabama. Although Carl lives in Virginia, he feels the need to return to Hanceville and visit with relatives, and acquaintances almost each summer, much like my Great Grandmother, Mrs. Mary Compton Mayfield used to do in the early 1900's. Real Southerners, "Country folk," never forget what family means, they carry that special love in their heart where ever they go.
Fortunately, we were able to spend most of the day, walking, and driving around my old haunt, the "Railroad bed."
The weather was perfect for the occasion, and as we walked to "Aunt Sara's wash hole," you could still see where she washed cloths on the creek bank, and although I have rabbit hunted this area many times, I never knew of the history.
Proceeding west from the swimming hole about one quarter mile, we walked the hill that once overlooked the Stouts Community, and could see what were once "Old Home Places," (The homestead trees are still standing) and looking over the edge of the hill top, could see the railroad bed that once carried rail cars filled with coal. Carl stated to me that it was his understanding that during the period, 1912 through 1920, it was considered a position of status to live on "The Hill." There were no structures left standing, yet we knew this was the place where Carl was born, and by using your imagination, you could almost envision the coal train as it pulled 15 to 20 cars from the mines into Hanceville.
While in the area we stopped to see a local resident, Larry Alexander, who was kind enough to provide us with pictures we had never seen before.
See picture of "Engine Number 2 at the beginning of this article" with coal cars filled with the much needed black ore. (Note the long neck of the oil can one man is holding,
Carl had stated that his mom and dad moved to Hanceville once he was about one month old, because the coal was starting to "play out" and less and less ore was being mined on a large scale, however during its heyday, the Tipple Stout's Mountain Mine was very prosperous, providing jobs to hard working miners, and coal, the only source for heat in those days, other than wood. Many families I know burned coal in their fireplaces; (Not all families had coal burning heaters) it would last longer and burn hotter than wood, and on cold winter nights that was important.
Among his many accomplishments, Carl learned to fly while attending the University of Akron in 1939 to 1942, sponsored by the Civil Aeronautics Authority, from 1943 to 1944, was with the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory, and in June 1944, became an Ensign with the U S Navy. Leaving the Navy in June 1946, he became Chief Engineer of the U. S. Recording and Research Corporation. There are many more achievements, but that will be covered at a later date.
As with most people, we talked about family history. One interesting fact Carl told me about was his father, James Andrew Mayfield, born June 26th, 1875, therefore it was on James Andrew's first birthday, June 26th, 1876 that General Custer met his demise at the battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana.
Carl also attended a meeting with the Kinney Memorial Committee, an outstanding group of people that truly care for Hanceville and its people. I related to Carl how fortunate the Town was to have such fine people as Jewell Hall, and Barbara Bentley Wilson, (Class of 65) working so diligently to preserve the history of Hanceville. I encourage everyone in the community to show their love, and lend support to the Hanceville Historical Society, its like showing ownership for "Your Town." On Sunday, Carl attended the Hanceville Methodist Church, and then drove to Stouts Mountain to visit with the Kinney family.
It was good to have you back home Cuz, and thank you for the 300 year old Chestnut plaque, it is truly a work of art, and just remember, your family and community wish you were here.
By Joe Mayfield
U.S. Legacies: November 2004
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