“THE BYLER ROAD”
Ruth Teaford Baker
The response to the early history in
and surrounding Walker County, Alabama,
me back to my research files. I introduced the Byler Road not long
ago and decided to return with more information concerning its
building and its impact on the development of our area. The Byler
Road was taken into
by the Legislature of the Independent State of Alabama
it convened in November, 1819.
One of the first concerns in the
convention was the question of roadways. Congress admitted Alabama
into the Federal Union on Dec. 14, 1819. Two days later, Gov.
Bibb approved the Act. John Byler and
Associates got one of the first contracts.
completed the Byler Road about the mid 1820’s. Byler died about
1827. The road connected the Tennessee River near Courtland with
the Warrior River near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Dodge, commander of the United States forces was located in the
Decatur area during the Civil War. He is quoted as saying; “The
Byler Road furnished better forage and was built on higher ground
than other roads in 1863.”
Some of the
information about Jacob Pruett (buried at New Prospect Cemetery,
Walker County, Alabama) showed that he moved into Madison County,
Alabama about 1810 and later into Lawrence County, Alabama. In both
Madison and Lawrence counties he was a big landowner.
Pruett had been a member of the Baptist Church in Madison County.
When he moved along the Byler Road toward what is now Winston
County, he bought land from John and Mary McKinney in 1824. He
built a tavern where J.S. Snoddy did
live across from Burdick-West Hospital. Jacob Pruett helped
organize and build New Prospect Baptist Church in 1824. The late
Talmadge West related the fact that he
once tried to buy the Pruett Tavern from Herschel Williams, but
Williams would not sell.
was born Dec. 10, 1781, and died in 1827. He was married to
Elizabeth Walker, born in 1776. Their daughter, Elizabeth
Catherine, was born in 1801 and married Eldridge T. Mallard on Feb.
4, 1819. Records show that Byler’s son-in-law was tollgate manager
at Eldridge on the Byler Road, and so the town was named Eldridge.
Mallard Creek near Eldridge was named after the same man.
giving the right for Byler to build the toll road contracted Byler
to build the road and maintain it for a period of 12 years. He
would keep all tolls collected for those years. The turnpike was
completed in 1822. It connected and formed a navigation route from
Muscle Shoals to Tuscaloosa on the Warrior River.
in Tuscaloosa, Lawrence, Winston, Walker, and Fayette Counties of
Alabama grew up along the turnpike. During the Civil War, both
confederate and Union armies traveled the road. Haleyville was
built around Byler Road, and that accounts for the narrow Main
Street – stores built on either side of the existing Byler Road.
account of the Byler Road shows the importance of this road in the
early settling of Walker and surrounding counties. The next great
influence of commerce would be the building of the railroads.