Geraldine, Dekalb County, Alabama ›
Geraldine was apparently called Lee prior to the time when William A. Johnson applied for the post office in 1882. Johnson, the first postmaster, wrote that name on the application. At some time Lee was marked out and Geraldine substituted. It is not known how the present name originated.
Two older schools preceeded Geraldine School. Central, or Stephens School, was located one mile south of where the present school is located. It was sometimes called Stephens School for Albert L. Stephens, who ran a store and who served as postmaster from 1888 until 1892. Some of the teachers were J.D. “Dan” Bethune, R.M. Wilbanks, Miss Julia Phillips, Lee Haralson, Miss Buna Wall, Miss Bama Nelson, Miss Lula Croley and Miss Alice Howard. Miss Croley was the principal at the time it was consolidated with Salem School.
Salem, located about one mile northeast of the present school, was at first a one-room log cabin, heated by an open fireplace. This building, erected soon after the Civil War, burned and was replaced by a frame school which was used until 1911, when the schools were consolidated. The teachers included Miss Charlsie Patterson, “Major” Buck, J.D. Bethune, Jack Gilbert, W.B. Hope, Miss Eula Black, Mrs. J.W. Harwell, Miss Nannie Nowlin, Mrs. Ida David Yewell and William Treadaway.
Land for the new school was obtained in 1910 when Will Johnson donated seven acres. A three-room, two-story building was constructed with an auditorium on the second floor. The school opened in the fall of 1911 with John Bryan as principal and teacher. Mrs. Bryan also began teaching in November, after public school money became available. Bryan was followed by E.O. McKnight as principal, with Miss Olla Schulty, Miss Terla Moore and W.B. Gilbreath completing the faculty. Gilbreath was a graduate of Florence Normal College and the three others finished at Troy Normal. The first graduating class was that of 1915, which consisted of Pearl Rucks, Charlie Martin, Bess Freeman and Ruby Porter. In 1920-1921, the school became the first accredited rural school in the county.
Two of the oldest churches around Geraldine are the Macedonia Baptist and Salem Methodist churches. Macedonia became a member of the Cherokee Baptist Association on May 19, 1853, upon application of nine petitioners. Later, some members left the church and formed what is known as New Macedonia. New Macedonia started off in a one-room building and was changed several times until the present church was built in 1940.
Salem Methodist Church was organized around the mid 1850’s. In 1876, G.W. and Jane Black deeded two acres of land to William A. Elrod, A.N. Lowrey, William Nunn and Nelson Elrod for the purpose of building a school house and a house of worship for members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Phillip Elrod, who helped establish the church, preached the first sermon and was the first person buried in the cemetery. The first pastor of record was Aaron Newton Lowrey.
Geraldine First Methodist Church was built in 1946, with the first service being held on September 1. L.A. McConatha was the first pastor.
The First Baptist Church was organized in 1939, with R.E. Ables serving as pastor until 1952. The Church of Christ built their church in 1962 and held their first services there in December. W.W. Hayes, of Tarrant, was the first full-time minister.
Physicians who have practiced in Geraldine are Dr. McClarin, Dr. Garrett and Doctors William Elrod, J.J. Wyatt, Joe Harrison, Griff Elrod, A.L. Isbell, Walter Miller, William Preston Hicks, Archie Horton, Briggs Parris and David E. Sibert.
One of Geraldine’s oldest landmarks was Elrod’s Mill where wheat and corn were ground and wool was carded and marketed in Rome, Georgia. In the early 1890’s Dr. William Elrod substituted steam powered machinery for the sometimes unreliable water power of Town Creek. In October, 1893, an explosion in the mill caused the deaths of two men and injured another. Dr. Elrod also operated a tan yard. For a number of years there was a government still at Elrod’s Mill, where apple and peach brandy were produced.
The first gin was a horse drawn machine operated by Barney May. It is said to have turned out four bales of cotton per day. The first two stores were owned by Jimmy Stephens and W.A. Johnson.