BREWTON, Ala. (WKRG) — 60 miles north of the coast, a town of 5,200 people surrounded by woods and waterways, has a legacy across the globe. The town is Brewton, Ala.
Mayor Yank Lovelace took office in 2012. His family is a founding family with roots that go back to the early 1800s.
“Brewton was developed as Indians moved out. Settlers moved in as land burned out in other places, but the real development of Brewton came after the Civil War because of the timber. And there was such a need forward that that’s where Brewton really started to grow,” said Lovelace. “My family got here in 1813. That’s first recorded on a map of Andrew Jackson. We permanently moved here in the late 1840s. So there were people in this area from the early 1800s on.”
The Timber Industry
The Logging industry is credited with putting Brewton on the map. Lovelace said the industry was successful due to its proximity to the water and river system, nearby Burnt Corn Creek and Murder Creek.
“Each little logging company had their own town, so there are really several towns that are connected here,” said Lovelace. “Brewton has got two large creeks on either side and if you go back into the 1800s post-civil war, we were in that timber belt that went across the South. Those creeks then went into the river and the river went to Pensacola, FL so it was very easy to float logs down those creeks, raft them together on the river, float into Pensacola, and a lot of that timber ended up on ships going to Spain.”
The railroad and other industries then came in for the timber, including Ford Motors, setting up the town to build a society and middle class.
“You have to think of the logging industry that needed a lot of other industries to support it. For example, you would need machine shops to work on. Logging locomotives. You would need foundries to make the parts,” said Lovelace. “So we had a large machine shop presence. Large foundries here. We had trained workers that could then make other parts for new automobiles. Then with trained workers, they were then able to start to bring in Nonnatural resource-type companies.”
The Brewton Lifestyle
Brewton was well-off in the beginning, ranking the second wealthiest town per capita in 1910-1911. Lovelace said the people and generations that stayed around made Brewton what it is today.
“A lot of the founding families are still here. They didn’t move. They invested their money here. If you read the papers back in the early part of the 1900s, they were very proud of the fact that they were investing their money in this town and not in other places,” said Lovelace.
The town was officially founded in 1885. Brewton serves as the Escambia County seat in the Alabama legislature.
With small-town charm, Lovelace said Brewton is the central hub for shopping and events.
“A lot of people may live outside the city limits, but they all work here. We’re a regional town, so you’ll find most of the larger stores here,” said Lovelace. “Even though you may personally live 5 miles outside of Brewton, you’re coming to Britain to work, and you’re coming to Brewton to shop, and you’re coming to Brewton because our schools are all A-rated schools, so you’re bringing your children here.”
Future of Brewton
Lovelace hopes this town will be one people stop and look around on the way to the beach.
“We have a number of things en route that people would want to stop and see. We have a museum, it’s very interesting here. We are in the process right now of working on an RV park, so if somebody was going to the beach they might want to stay here and that RV part would be inside one of our main parks that has a lake and walking trails and has things like that. So we are trying to capture the people as they do travel North and South or East and West,” said Lovelace.