Byler Road Tour, a Bicentennial Event

By  | March 11, 2018 | Filed under: News

THE SHOALS-There will be an outingt hat has been rated as an offical Bicentennial event Byler Historic Road Tour will be held Saturday, March 17th.

There will be meet-up at 11 AM, on Bainbridge Road at Lake Wilson south shore.  There will be a 15 seater van for the first 15 who RSVP (have 9 RSVPs at present), and others who don’t get van seat are invited to convoy  down the Byler, taking historic stops along the way into Bankhead Forest.  This is a very informative and stimulating trip, so join in if your schedule permits.  Some of the highlights of the trip will be:

> Learn of old Bainbridge and how it was a centerpiece of early Alabama crossing of the TN River

> Learn of the huge importance of this crossing and road use during the War Between the States (20,000 men of Hood’s army crossed, chased by Wilson’s Cavalry, plus over 200 wagons in December, 1864.)   This was a favorite crossing point for Nathan Bedford’s famous Cavalry.

> Peden family — their Ferry and their Traveler’s Inn & Stagecoach stop; home of champion Cherrybark Oak

a surprise stop

> Leighton’s museum of American Indian and Civil War artifacts !

> Crossroads of Gaines Trace (surveyed 1808 by US Army for Indian Tribes to bypass Shoals) & Byler Road

> Vandiver Mill on Mud Creek (George Vandiver a member of Byler Road Commission)

> Rock Creek – a dozen oak trees older than the State; five Revolutionary War soldiers in early Alabama; grave of Capt John Byler

> Aunt Jenny’s homeplace and resting place*

> Kinlock Falls, Kinlock Bluff Shelter, old Buffalo trail

> Pebble Community Center (formerly Squire DeGraffeinreid’s Traveler’s Inn) for “Aunt Jenny” performace by Carla Waldrep, Haleyville Librarian

For more information contact Joel Mize at

*Not far from the village (of Mount Hope) ran a stagecoach line, a branch of the

Natchez Trace, and a few miles to the southwest in what is now

the national forest, lived the family of “Aunt Jenny” Brooks or

Johnson, a name around which is woven many of the most entrancing

legends of North Alabama. Several descendants of this famous

woman attended the schools at Mount Hope.


“Aunt Jenny” was born in Jefferson County but lived most of

her life in a log house, south of Mount Hope in the mountainous

area and about twelve miles from Haleyville, on the old Byler road.

She died in 1924 at the age of 117. A half Cherokee Indian, she

would do anything for one she liked and according to her grand-

daughter, Mrs. Ben Abbott, of Route 2, Mount Hope, “if she liked

you she’d die for you, if she hated you, she’d kill you”, and that’s

what she did to two Yankees after they had killed her husband,

Strauter Brooks and one son, Gaines; robbed and burned her home.

Mrs. Brooks had two other sons, Willis Brooks, who was killed in

a fight with Negroes and Henry Brooks, who was killed at a moon-

shine still he operated. Henry was surrounded by revenue officers,

who knowing he kept guns at his still, killed his horse and went in

shooting. Alee Heflin was sheriff in Winston County at the time,

and “Aunt Jenny” never had anything more to do with the law

officials or Heflin’s men. She had married Willis Johnson, who

preceded her in death. She died of old age and was buried at

Poplar Springs Cemetery, not far from her home. Thus closed a

chapter in the colorful life of a crack rifle-woman, a devoted mother

and wife, and courageous defender of what she believed in, whether

lawful or lawless.

Media Release/Joel Mize

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