More on Gurley's History
Gurley Lions Club serving the Gurley community since 1948

From Our Past - XX
Facing the Twenty First Century

The town of Gurley, Alabama sits today at the crossroads of decisions that will shape the future of this entire area. Huntsville is rapidly expanding east, across Sand Mountain. Hampton Cove is a good example of this expansion. The good citizens of Gurley have a golden opportunity to see this great little town restored to its former charm and beauty. One of these days we will see a restored Joplin Street lined with quaint little shops and art and antique stores. One of these days we will see a place where tourists will travel far and wide to see a one of the South's great historic icons with its Victorian homes and friendly people. Gurley has a very unique history to offer with strong roots grown out of the ashes of the American Civil War. Her founders were resourceful and enterprising individuals who worked hard to build Gurley. They all visualized a growing and vibrant town in one of the most scenic spots in the country, the great Paint Rock Valley of Alabama...

Joplin Street Gurley's Shop Shops on Joplin Street

One can visualize a restored downtown Joplin Street full of quaint shops and art and antique stores.

Joplin Street's Shop Fire station end of Joplin Street

The historic town of Gurley is an incredible American icon that needs to be restored for future generations.

This is Joplin Street as of March 2015

Joplin Street in 2015
Joplin Street in 2015

In the From Our Past series, we have told many compelling stories about our founders, early citizens, businesses, and culture. We have looked at the very colorful life of our founder's son, Frank. B. Gurley. We have watched this little town grow and thrive throughout the last half of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century. We have seen fires take its toll and we have seen our early citizens rebuild Gurley from ashes. We have seen how our citizens have persevered through a devastating American Civil War, the Great Depression, and two Great World Wars. Through Gurley, we have seen grass roots America at its very best.

This writer of the From Our Past series is the great grandson of Capt. Elijah F. and Matilda Gurley Walker and is the great-great grandson of William Rutledge and Sarah Criner Gurley. All of the materials for the series came from records, deeds, letters, photo albums, and other documents handed down from Gurley ancestors. One lady in particular, deserves credit for much of this material. She was born and raised in Gurley and lived her entire life in Gurley. She is Berniece Lorene Lawler (1913-2000). Berniece Lawler had a lifelong interest in the history of Gurley. She wrote several historical documents and compiled and saved a great deal of material pertaining to Gurley. She was very active with the Gurley Historical Society and took a very strong role in the preservation of Gurley's history.

Berniece with her mother Ruby Walker Lawler about 1919 Berniece Lorene Lawler as a teenager
Berniece L. Lawler in her early thirties Berniece L. Lawler in 1999

The photos above are of Berniece Lawler at various stages of her life. At top left Berniece stands with her mother Ruby Walker Lawler about 1919. Top right is Berniece as a teenager. Bottom left is Berniece in her early thirties and bottom right is a photo of Berniece in her later years, taken in 1999.

This writer therefore dedicates the From Our Past series to the good people of Gurley, Alabama and to my cousin, Berniece Lorene Lawler.

I also wish to thank the fine Gurley Webmaster Dominique G, Schneider and his wife Irene N. Schneider for their great support and help in posting these From Our Past articles into the Gurley website. The Gurley website is one of the best anywhere and the citizens of Gurley can be very proud of the great image this website portrays to a worldwide audience.

I sincerely hope the Gurley website viewers enjoy the From Our Past articles as much as I have had researching and compiling this information. This series has enabled me to learn and appreciate more about my ancestors and their town of Gurley.

I hope the good folks of Gurley and descendents of Gurley ancestors everywhere will respond with their own stories and photos from their past. This information will be of great benefit to our current citizens and especially will have a great impact on future generations to come.

Thank you,

William A. Walker III

William A Walker III