DAR dedicates Arkwright historic marker
By Phoebe Donald Robinson / Community Columnist
The Arkwright Heritage Area was dedicated with a National Society Daughters of the American Revolution historic marker on Saturday, Oct. 11, in conjunction with the 124th anniversary of NSDAR Founder’s Day. The historic marker was donated by the NSDAR General Sumter Chapter, Anne Gibbons Regent, and placed on land owned by Charles Coggin at the “Brown House” on Shelby County 62 in Vincent.
The 11 sites of the Arkwright Heritage Area were created by the Alabama Historical Commission on Aug. 25, 2011, one of only two areas in the state. The historic significance of Arkwright dates from prehistoric Native American sites 2000 B.C. to pre-Civil War plantation, pioneer Shelby County settlers and slaves graves, from 1900’s railroad sites to present day families. The area won second place in the NSDAR 2014 Historic Preservation Contest. Five sites within the area have been adjudged eligible by the National Historic Register by the National Park Board on July 31, nominated by Gibbons and David Schneider.
James Hamilton, age 99, is a lifelong resident of Arkwright and patriarch of five living generations of his slave forefathers. Hamilton was present at the dedication along with other slave descendants of the area, Pete Datcher and Otis McCrimon. Pioneer family descendants of E. E. Wallis, Krissie Masters father Jene Masters, attended on whose land the Bailey Cemetery marker was placed on April 28, 2013, dedicated by the Alabama Society Daughters of American Colonists.
The town of Arkwright thrived during the early 1900s when it was a railroad station. Named for Preston Arkwright, an official of the Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic Railroad and founder and president of Georgia Railway and Electric Company, the town declined after the railroad station closed.
Railroad family descendants at the dedication were members of the Hayes family: Doris Smith, Tommy Hayes and Jimmy Hayes.
Other special guests were Gibbons, Coggin, Arkwright Council member Ralph Kimble, Vincent Councilman and Hamilton’s grandson Bruce Hamilton, Vincent Historical Society member Judy Naugle and ASDAR State Regent Connie Grund. A reception was held at Krissie Masters home and Liberty Baptist Church provided a bus tour of the area for attendees.