The Vagabond: Early Mountainboro had some rough customers


By Danny Crownover

In January of 1903, Judge James A. Bilbro of the Etowah County Circuit Court rendered a decision that dissolved the corporation of Mountainboro, a small village on Sand Mountain, following a hearing on quo warrants proceedings filed by a number of citizens who objected strenuously to municipal government.

The petition filed in court asked that the mayor and alderman show the reason why they held such office, it being declared those officials were, in effect, usurpers.

The decision ousted the men from office on the grounds that the 1902 election that set up the town government was illegal. The contention was that there were not enough signatures to the original petition to make the election that followed a legal one. Judge James A. Bilbro (pictured above right) sustained the plea, and the corporation was immediately dissolved by law.

Only 19 citizens voted to incorporate the village, with most or all favoring the plan to allow a mayor and four aldermen run the town.

Immediately after the officials took charge of the town, they were met with violent resistance in their efforts to set up a lawful government. Most of those per-sons arrested by the town marshal resisted physically, and occasionally there was violence. Every effort was made to intimidate the officials, and all sorts of charges were made against them.

Mayor W.C. Hall’s administration was a turbulent one. He had been in office only a short while when he was charged with selling whiskey. The mayor said it was a frame up.

When Judge Bilbro rendered his decision, a local newspaper said, “The idea of making [Mountainboro] a town with a mayor and a policeman to enforce its ordinances was resisted from its very inception. The police frequently had serious collisions with those persons determined to put the town out of business”

In those days, there were two legal saloons and one legal distillery near Mountainboro. However, the area had a great deal of moonshine distillers, all of which bred much lawlessness in the village and the surrounding territory. In fact, the town got credit for many misdeeds that occurred far out in the country.

At one time the county grand jury recommended that the state militia be sent out to put down lawlessness in that section. In time, law enforcement, the good citizens of the community and the establishment of schools and churches curbed the lawless and rebellious spirits.

An odd fact about Mountainboro is that the community was in the banner prohibition beat when the county voted out saloons in 1907.

Around 1903, there was a flag station on the N.C. & St. Louis Railroad on Sand Mountain that was named Carpenter. The citizens of the little community decided that they were entitled to a depot on the grounds that their community had reached the size and dignity that entitled it to said depot.

After the railroads refused to build a depot, the residents of Carpenter got together and decided to build one themselves. They first went before the Alabama Railroad Commission with a petition. The commission ordered the depot built. It was soon found that a man had squatted on the site of the proposed depot. The railroad then asked for a suspension of the order until a suit could be filed to oust the squatter.

The ejectment suit was filed, and the ensuing legal fight lasted for some time. It is not known, however,  whether the village of Carpenter ever got its depot.

Mountainboro was re-incorporated on October 31, 1963. Additional land was annexed into the town on March 12, 1981 and September 14, 1993. In October of 2007, a referendum that proposed annexation of Mountainboro by the city of Boaz passed by a one-vote margin. The result of the referendum was challenged, and legal activities delayed further action until 2009. Etowah County Circuit Judge David Kimberley upheld the result of the referendum. Mountainboro once again ceased to exist as a town on August 14, 2009.

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