The history of Aldrich, Alabama, dates back to 1849 when, on November 23, Zachery Taylor granted land to Mr. George David Shortridge. He came to Montevallo in 1839 and was a circuit judge for ten years. Mr. Shortridge was a candidate for governor on the Know-Nothing ticket but was defeated. As early as 1839, coal was produced in the Montevallo vicinity on what was then considered a commercial basis. This work was done in what was known as the Woods pit. Very little record was made of the methods used in the mining of coal in this pit as there were no steam pumps or other mechanical devices for producing coal; it was done entirely by hand mining and mule haulage or a windlass.
The coal was broken off by men working with picks. This was slow hand labor of early mining before the mining industry became mechanized and the work was done by machinery. The coal was transported from within the mine in what was known as a wooden buggy. This was a small car holding two or three hundred pounds of coal and was constructed entirely of wood, pin driven and with wooden wheels and axles. Iron wheels and axles were afterwards developed and they were operated on wooden rails. The coal in this area was first used by private residence for great purposes. But the coal wasn't introduced to the public until 1856. Although they are full of water and some have almost filled up with dirt, evidence of the first pits could still be seen in 1965. Later, the mine became known as the Brown Pits after Mr. William P. Browne and Mr. James O'Neal bought the site. During this time slave labor was exploited in the mines and when the Civil War erupted the mine furnished coal to the Confederate Soldiers. The mine later became known as Baker Mine and later as the Alabama Coal Mining Company and changed hands many times during the years from 1849-1870's. In 1859, the mines of the Alabama Coal Mining company had stopped work and every miner at the Montevallo Mines was waiting for the first steam engine (for hoisting coal) and a pair of thirty-inch cylinder boilers to come from Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania. This was the first steam engine for hoisting coal from a slope or pit mine that was ever brought to Alabama.

Mr. Bedham and Mr. Lovell saw fit to hire state labor to do the back bending work in the mine. In February on 1914, prisoners were leased by the Company from the prison department and put to work in the mine. There was a prison built on the property which was a barracks type building. As prescribed by law, the company was required to build its own facilities, hire its own guards, Chaplain and Doctor. The prison, which was on the property that is now owned by Mr. Paul Brantley, had its own hospital and farm

A convict cemetery is located a short distance from where the prison stood and there is only one tombstone. Many of the graves have sunken from lack of care and trees have grown p through some of them. The hill on which the prison was built is sill called "Prison Hill." (Prison report) Mr. W.S Lovell and Mr. Henry Bedham operated the company until they ran into some financial difficulties. Montevallo Mining Company was adjudged a bankrupt in the U.S. District Court on January 25th. 1925, Mr. Durias A. Thomas was given an option to purchase the bankrupt property and on May 3rd he did for the sum of $45,00.00 in cash and payment of 425,000.00 to the State of Alabama.

  July 5th, 1942 was the date when one of the oldest coal mining sites in the entire South closed. Mr. Thomas was forced by natural circumstances to come to the conclusion that the Aldrich Mine had reached the end of its useful and profitable operation. "Announcement of the permanent closing of the Aldrich Mine brings keen regret to the people of this immediate section. Being the nearest coal mine to Montevallo in a geographical sense as well as in sentiment, Aldrich Mine has always been recognized as part and parcel of our local business life. Its contribution in this sense has served as ballast in all kinds of times. Now its permanent cessation brings us to the point of grimly realizing a great loss that will not be replaced" (Emfinger, 50).

Henry showing Sarah and Demetra a piece of equipment used in Aldrich mine.

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