History of Portersville, Alabama ›
Portersville, located just north of Collinsville, was first called Porter Town until the family for which it was named moved from the community, at which time it became known by its present name. The site of the Porter home was where Mrs. Elzina Stapp’s house now stands.
Portersville was one of the first temporary county seats before Lebanon became a permanent seat. The small building used as a courthouse stood on the Smith farm near Mush Creek, a stream named for an old Indian chief who was buried on this farm at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
The old depot building which now stands was built about 1868 or 1869. A man named Cunningham cut the stone for the building and hauled it from his farm below Collinsville. Unfortunately, the railroad company went broke before he received pay for his work. Work on the railroad bed was stopped near Clyde Killian’s farm. Sometime later work was resumed. The original building was soon enlarged to serve the growing demands. The enlarged building remained in use until the early thirties, at which time the wooden addition was torn down.
Across the tracks from the depot stood a number of section houses which were later moved away. G.S. Heard was the first section foreman. For a time there were three daily operators here, but the early days of the depression brought the closing of the Portersville depot. The last passenger train, “The Birmingham Special,” passed through on August 24, 1970.
One of the post offices was in a building across the track from the depot, with Mrs. Zee Morgan serving as postmaster. Later, Bailey Hughes, Monroe Killian and Mrs. Harold Heard had charge of this office. Rural routes have been served from this post office over the years. The rural carriers included Dow Heard, Paul Gilbreath, Land Moore, Otis Reed and Calvin Reed.
The first school building, which stood on the hill southwest of the J.N. Pritchett house, is said to have been one of the first to have glass windows. Many students walked miles to attend this school, including children from various Lookout Mountain homes. One teacher at this school used as his office the loom room, which can be seen in J.N. Pritchett’s yard today.
The ore mines opened nearby in the early 1900s, this school building was desired for use as a boarding house for the miners. The mining company arranged to construct a new building just north of Gussie Killian’s property in exchange. This school continued in operation until about 1920, when it was consolidated with the Collinsville School. The building was torn down in 1927. The only other old school located nearby was on the Lackey Gap which was called the Popular Spring School. It was in use during the Civil War and served its area until about 1880.
The ore mine, located in the gap of the ridge, continued in operation until 1907. Many houses, and several boarding houses, were built on the side of the ridge and north of the gap during this time. Death was brought to this community twice in two different tragedies, one a mine cave-in and the other a train wreck near the mines.
During the period of mining activity, Portersville had a drug store. Many different mercantile businesses have been established here over the years. Monroe Killian opened a business in 1889 and operated it until his death in 1949. At one time even caskets were sold at Killian’s store. People from surrounding communities came in wagons with chickens, eggs, and hides to exchange for merchandise.
Cotton gins, blacksmith shops and automobile garages have also been located here. In former years cotton and cross ties were also bought and sold here.
The old homes include the McBroom home, built before the Civil War and now owned by Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Pritchett, and the Belvey Nowlin home on the Smith Farm, built around 1880.
Across the ridge from Portersville, there were a number of water mills on Wills Creek where corn and wheat were ground. Wesson Mill was located down the valley, and Frazier Mill and a gin were built near Lebanon. William T. Killian also built a mill, gin and sawmill near Lebanon about 1874. Farther upstream Hudson Mill and sawmill were located on Wallace Hughes’ farm. Mac Simpson’s farm, near Lebanon, also had a gin.
For a time there was a post office here called “Hughes.” Nearby on the Beam Hughes’ farm was a gin, corn mill and a tanyard where harnesses, shoes and saddles were made.
In the gap to Collbran there was a mill for grinding corn. And on the Jack Creek, which empties into Wills Creek, there was a card mill for wool called the Jack Mill. There was also a mill for grinding corn here and a tanyard was located nearby on the Will Garrett farm.
The Methodist Church at Portersville was organized long before 1900 and has occupied several different buildings. In April 1932 the church was blown down during a severe storm, and the present building was soon erected. The Baptist Church, when first organized, met in the first old school building. The present building was erected in 1912.
This history was taken from Landmarks, a Pictorial History of DeKalb County, Alabama which was published in 1971. Some of the history as of 2006, could have changed.