Atmore Remembers Founding By Walnut Hill Man

October 24, 2008


A Walnut Hill man’s founding of the railroad supply stop that would later become Atmore will be celebrated this weekend with the annual Williams Station Day.

This weekend’s Williams Station Day  remembers Atmore’s past, a past that started with William “Uncle Bud” Larkin Williams of Walnut Hill.

In 1816, John Gaylor settled in the Walnut Hill area on land from a Spanish Land Grant. A great deal of that land was later sold to Williams who began a logging and cattle operation in the Walnut Hill area sometime prior to the Civil War.

Just after the Civil War, in 1866, Williams opened a supply stop along the Mobile and Great Northern Railroad in the area that would later become Atmore. The area around the supply stop thrived, later becoming known as Williams Station. The name of the settlement was changed to Atmore in 1897.

As for Walnut Hill’s Williams, he served as a spy for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was captured by the Union Army but was later released after he convinced the Union soldiers that he was just an innocent man traveling to Pensacola.

Williams allowed the Florida 13th Calvary to camp at his Walnut Hill home, which was near the current Ernest Ward Middle School. A number of those soldiers died during their stay and were buried in a small cemetery. That cemetery was located between the current Walnut Hill Community Center and Bradberry Park. It is no longer recognizable.

Walnut Hill’s first log school and a Methodist Church were built on land owned by Williams near the present-day intersection of Highway 97 and Arthur Brown Road. The log church was later rebult and named the Annie Jones Methodist Church.

Sources: “Walnut Hill, A Historical Overview” compiled by Billy R. Ward from Escambia County Land Records researched by Robert Glenn Thrower, Sr. and “History of Ernest Ward School” by William Arthur Brown; and from, compiled by students at Northview High School.

Pictured: William “Uncle Bud” Williams, the Walnut Hill man that founded Alabama settlement that would later become Williams Station and then Atmore. This photo is believed to have been taken at his 88th birthday celebration in McDavid on February 18, 1895. Click to enlarge.


4 Responses to “Atmore Remembers Founding By Walnut Hill Man”

  1. Janice Parker on August 20th, 2012 3:17 pm

    I know that my gr grandfather hid his family and raised his children on Perdido River hiding from the Civil War. If this man was a spy, then he had to have a reason for not reporting a man who was hiding 4 sons from the civil war?He had to know because of their interaction with each other. A lot of questions.

  2. Janice Parker on August 20th, 2012 2:59 pm

    I have as much proof as these decendants do that it was my gr gr grandfather, “Uncle Bud Williams” who was the rightful person who stopped the train. My ancestor took this man’s orders from the store and brought his goods back to “him”. My ancestor drove a wagon (not rode a pony) to deliver the goods. Come on people. Use your heads. There’s a landing over on Perdido River just down the hill from where he raised his family named “Uncle Bud’s Landing.” Had a great aunt who gave one of her nieces a copy of the very same picture that they’re using in this “proof” of William Larkin Williams. Maybe a relative? Also, I’ve compared the dates. This man had a lot more age on him than my ancestor did at this time. Was kind of old to be doing all this. Someone needs to be doing a lot more researching. As for me, I don’t have to prove anything. I know the real story. Heard it all my life about my ancestor bringing back barrels of flour, and sugar, whole bolts of cloth. All the girls in the family had dresses made from the same cloth. LOLOLOL How is this man going to accomplish this? How is he going to carry all this on the back of a pony?

  3. chefsmom on October 24th, 2008 9:47 am

    A little more on William Larkin Williams, from OLD family records:

    William Larkin Williams, known as Uncle Bud, was the son of David Williams and Sabra Lanier. He was born February 18, 1807 in Bullock County, Georgia and moved to Escambia County, Florida in 1819. He died July 8, 1900 in McDavid, Florida, at the age of 93 years, 4 months and 20 days. He is buried in Coon Hill Cemetery in Santa Rosa County near what is known today as Chumuckla Springs. On either side of him are buried two of his three wives, Margaret and Mary McMillan, both daughters of Mary (Polly) Wilkinson McMillan and Duncan McMillan. He married Margaret McMillan on March 5, 1929 in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
    After Margaret died, he then married her sister Mary McMillan.
    Upon Mary’s death June 28, 1887, William Larkin Williams married (third) Fannie Bellah on May 4, 1889, who was born Feb. 8, 1846. A little math will show that he was 82 years old and Fannie was 43 years.


    [The following account of the 92nd birthday celebration of William Larkin (Uncle Bud) Williams was said to be taken from the Pensacola News in 1898.]
    Yesterday, February 18, 1898, the relatives of W.L. Williams, familiarly and lovingly called “Uncle Bud” met at McDavid’s campground in annual reunion to celebrate his 92nd birthday The day was an ideal one filled with sunshine and gladness, fully attuned to the rejoicings in the hearts and faces of more than one hundred relatives, old and young, who met to wish “Uncle Bud” continued joy and good health and to whisper a prayer that he might be spared to bless their lives for many years to come; and the old gentleman’s bright eye and cheery voice gave full promise that this unanimous prayer would be answered.
    The following is a partial list of the relatives present: Dan Williams, Taylor Williams, Mrs. McDavid, Mrs. Reynolds. Of his children: D.T. Williams, D.D. McDavid and his wife, Mrs. Jas. G. Gardner, Mrs. John Johnson, Miss Pearl Johnson, Mrs. W.C. McDavid. Of his grandchildren: Lillie Diamond, Daisy, Howard, Harry and Albert McDavid, Ned McDaniel, Louise Harrison, Mary Sabra McDavid. Of his great-grandchildren: Mrs. M. Lovelace, Miss D. Nichelson, Miss Annie McMillan, Miss L. McMillan, Mrs. M.M. Caro, Miss M. Laskey, Mrs. L. Hall, Mr. A.M. McMillan and wife, Mrs. J.G. Owens, Mr. and Mrs. M. Wilson, Miss Anna Davidson, Miss Ada McMillan. Of his nieces, great-nieces and nephews: Gregory and Annie Quina, Frank and Mevel Wilson. Great-great-nieces and nephews, and also many other relatives and friends whose names cannot be given for lack of space, the whole assemblage numbering about 140.
    A beautiful dinner was spread and when the company assembled, Mr. Turton took a photograph of the group. The Reverend Mr. Lane conveyed to “Uncle Bud” in a few chosen words the love and respect of all present and then Miss Anna Davidson, a great-niece, recited in a finely modulated voice, the following beautiful poem specially written for the occasion:
    God bless thee, Uncle Bud, full one and ninety years complete today,
    And may our Heavenly Father add yet more,
    And gently through them all His love display,
    And its bright sunshine on thy pathway our, Dear Gentle Uncle Bud.
    In thee I hail a Man! The world has been the better for thy work,
    Though simple and unpretentious it has been;
    For many shadows that in all lives lurk,
    Hast thou, made lighter by thy gentle mien, Dear Kindly Uncle Bud.
    Our Savior, when on earth, taught us the value of those little things;
    A little act of kindness and of love,
    That lifts the wounded heart, and sweetly sings,
    In sympathy with higher things above, and taught to us their worth.
    Thy worth, Dear Uncle Bud, is deeply shrined in many a joying heart,
    To which thou has some rays of sunshine borne,
    That lifted up some burden, eased smart,
    And wakened hope in some sad heart forlorn, till new life through him ran.
    God bless thee, Uncle Bud, and spare thee with us yet for many year;
    The earth’s not over rich with men like thee,
    It needs the sunshine, deed and word of cheer,
    To light its darkness, makes it dorrows flee;
    God bless and spare this man.

  4. chefsmom on October 24th, 2008 9:26 am

    As one of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of direct descendants of William Larkin Williams, this information is priceless. How do I get a copy of the publications that are mentioned in this article? I’ll definitely forward a link to this story on to my brother, sister, children and cousins.

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