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Fayette County Alabama

~ The McCollum Heritage ~

The McCOLLUM family was one of Fayette County’s earliest.  Newman and his merry band arrived in 1824.  About the same time, John HOLLINGSWORTH moved into the area, as did Daniel FORD and Thomas GALLOWAY.  The McCALEBs came sometime later.

[Newman] McCOLLUM acquired considerable land and built a grist mill and later a sawmill at present-day Hubbertville.  In fact, the community that grew around the mill was known as McCollum Mill.  It remained the name until members of the HUBBERT family bought the mill and renamed the community Hubbertville.  The McCollum Family Cemetery is located on the small rise at the rear of present day Hubbertville Cemetery.  Most of the names on the markers have long ago succumbed to the elements and one can only guess who the plots belong to today, but more than likely Newman and his mother “Beloved Ann” are buried there along with Sarah and James K. [McCOLLUM]. 

Newman was evidently a very benevolent man as his will shows many outstanding loans that he had made to many in the area, much of it uncollected.  In any event, he was well respected and loved by his family as the many descendants named after him will attest.

James K. was the most colorful of the McCOLLUM clan.  He was considered a “well to do” planter and land speculator of his time.  He ran for the state legislature and was elected to that office.  Fred McCALEB has researched the legislative records for the period and found that James K. was an aggressive voice for Fayette County.  He was a visionary for his time.  He proposed as early as the mid 1800’s a flood-control project for the Sipsey River with the view towards dredging the river and eventually using it to ship goods downriver.  The dredging issue has surfaced in recent years and remains unresolved to this day, 150 years later.

There are many stories about James K.  Some are only speculation.  Sie McCOLLUM [James K.'s former slave] told the story of James K. and Sie burning the Fayette County Courthouse [in 1866], obviously to delay the trial over his debt situation involving his father’s will.  Another story tells of his returning from a visit to Mississippi and finding the river flooded and all of his crops ruined.  The story goes that he walked down to the riverbank and flung his new hat into the raging water and looked up into the heavens and said, “You’ve taken every thing else, you might as well have this too.”  These legends lead one to believe that James K. was somewhat of a rogue.  However, he was well thought of in the community as is evidenced by the elections he won.  (He may not have been the only politician in the family.  I believe that former Congressman Bill McCOLLUM of Florida is a descendant of Newman.)

Joseph [McCOLLUM] was the youngest child of Newman and Elizabeth.  Indications are that he was more conservative in his business dealings than James K.  Newman appointed him Executor of his estate.  Because of several problems, some caused by James K., the estate was not settled for 30 years.   This put a strain on Joseph’s relationship with James K., as James K. was forced to sell most of his assets to settle his part of the estate.

The McCOLLUMs were a restless lot.  By 1900 many if not most of the family had moved west to Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  Elizabeth, Newman’s oldest daughter, and her husband George W. PATTERSON had moved to Uvalde Co., Texas, in 1847 and many of her kin followed them.  Most of them settled in Uvalde County, near San Antonio, and Cooke & Grayson counties, Texas.  Today many of his descendants can be found further west in New Mexico, Arizona and California, as well as Texas.  It has been this writer’s pleasure to meet some of these descendants, both personally and by phone and the internet.  Among them are Paula McCOLLUM of California, descended from James K., and Rolland McCOLLUM of Oklahoma, descended from Newman’s oldest son, Henry.  Henry died an untimely death while on a visit to Fayette County in 1826.  His descendants mostly stayed in South Carolina until the later years.  Many of James K.’s and Joseph’s descendants stayed in Alabama.  They married into the McCALEB, HOLLINGSWORTH, FORD, FOWLER, BOX, WHITEHEAD and other local families.  Most of us are descended from these two brothers.

Newman McCOLLUM’s legacy lives on.  We should all take pride in our McCOLLUM heritage.  It is a noble one indeed.

This article originally appeared in The Hollingsworth-McCaleb Quarterly, 1:3 (1 Aug 2002), p. 2.
Used by permission of the author & editor, Larry E. Whitehead.
Mr. Whitehead produces both The Hollingsworth-McCaleb Quarterly and The Whitehead Quarterly.
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This page last updated 01 Jan 2004.