Boothton memories live on

Published 1:44 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Boothton mines, located about 11 miles southwest of Montevallo, closed in 1951.

A drive through that area today reveals almost nothing of that once lively community but those who grew up there recalled it well at a reunion Oct. 5.

More than 20 folks gathered at the Pea Ridge Community Center for the 51st reunion of the close-knit mining community to renew old acquaintances and exchange favorite memories.

Jimmy Ruth Yessick Sims of Alabaster said, “I come to the reunions because I love to see the people I knew long ago and it brings back memories of my childhood.”

They came from as far away as North Carolina with huge bowls of potato salad, fried chicken and luscious-looking pies and cakes. Everyone was greeted with hugs as the center filled with chatter, tears and laughter.

“Remember when Doc Dement made that homer as the last hitter in the game we played against Marvel,” someone remarked.

“Remember swimming out to the Cahaba lilies at the river?”

“Remember how everyone celebrated when word came that the missing soldier Hamilton Stone was found.”

Those were just a few of the happy memories, but there were also sad ones recalling the mine explosion that hurt so many miners, and the hard times during the labor strikes of the 1930s.

Barbara Hunter Smith came along with her dad Billy Hunter, a nephew of George and Ada Peter who owned and operated the Boothton coalmines for many years. As a child, Hunter spent part of his summers visiting relatives there.

“It is such a treat to get a real peek into my dad’s family’s past,” Smith said. “And to hear stories from his childhood. Somehow, being close to Boothton and sharing that little bit of time with the nice folks who attend the reunions really brings the stories and memories to life.”

Everything in the community belonged to the company so consequently all of the office buildings, the 257 houses and the churches were moved or demolished. The physical presence of Boothton is gone, but as evident at the reunion, the memories are alive and well. Glenice Smitherman who for the past several years has coordinated the reunion regretfully handed the reins over to Sims. For information about upcoming reunions, call Sims at 663-0679.

Catherine Legg can be reached at