The Battle Of The Escambia County Seat

Escambia's County seat was first located in Pollard. The Escambia County Commissioners court held its first meeting at Pollard on Febraury 22, 1869. Those present at this meeting were; Judge F.B. Bonifay, Commissioners George P. Weaver, Samuel M.C.H. Parker, John Dixon, and E.H.J. Mobley. The building of the county courthouse and jail was among the first discussions. The jail was constructed by November 1, 1869 and the courthouse was was constructed by January 6, 1873. In 1879 the courthouse met with destruction by a fire. Arson was suspected as the cause of the fire.
At a special term of Court, a house was rented from Joe Jernigan to serve as temporary courthouse. Records that were damaged but readable were rewritten and rebound. Memories were used to duplicate warrants that were drawn to replace those that had burned. The editor of the "Conecuh Escambia Star", F.A. Monroe of Evergreen, replaced all burned copies of the newspapers on file and five new fireproof safes were bought on an installment plan.
The battle for the new courthouse began shortly after the fire. Pollard wished to retain the county seat and Brewton saw it's opportunity to become the new county seat. Through an act of Legislature a vote was taken and Pollard won the election but due invalid votes a second act was passed by the Legislature and Brewton obtain the county seat. At this time Pollard refused to turn over the records and county offices were not moved to Brewton.
Emotions ran high between the citizens of Pollard and Brewton and at one point of the controversy, a Brewton suporter, writing under the pen name of Jack Plane, wrote in the "Brewton Blade": "Well as it 'tis, it 'tis, and can't be any 'tizer. The courthouse issue has resolved into a Kilkenny cat fight. Brewton and Pollard have their tails tied together and are hung across the beatline of the precincts and on that line they will have to fight."
The next week a Pollard writer replied, "If you propose to let the courthouse question be settled with a cat fight here is our part of the cats, match them and turn them in." As it turned out, "Our part of cats" was a boxcar load of cats and kittens shipped into Brewton at night and turned loose on the town.
In January of 1882, Judge Hubbard ordered another trial. Meantime, some Brewton citizens decided to take matters into their own hands. They slipped in Pollard one night and broke into the temporary courthouse and stoled the records. Once the records were loaded on two wagons, the drivers headed toward Brewton. After getting a short distance away from Pollard, the drivers decided to speed up to make their get-away good. The wagon road was narrow and there was a sharp curve at the bottom of a hill approaching a bridge which crossed a stream. The driver of the second wagon, lost control of his team, and the wagon overturned, with some of the records being tossed into the stream. Because the haste and darkness not all the records were retreived. Between the fire and the theft Escambia County has a gap in it's records.
The early January trial of 1882 did not settle the controversy and a second trial was held in Montgomery and on January 23, 1882, Brewton was made the county seat of Escambia County.

Source: "History of Escambia County, Alabama" by Annie C. Waters.


 

2007 Kellie Crnkovich