By: Cindy M. Jones
The rich history of Trussville weaves a story of heros and heroines, adventurists and entrepreneurs, each searching for a place to call home in their pursuit of happiness.
Trussville’s story begins like most, a journey… specifically down what is still known in some parts as, the Georgia Road. The Georgia road enabled pioneers to migrate from northern states and stumble upon the lush landscape nourished by the Cahaba River. The year was 1818, John Warren Truss, one such pioneer, grabbed ahold of a promising future opening the Truss Mill in 1820, what may be considered Trussville’s first business. In 1821, the community fondly welcomed its first known physician, Dr. John Spearman Edwards. As other homesteaders found the area desirable, the village gained enough population to open a post office in 1833 with Arthur Truss appointed as first post master.
Trussville’s deep devotion to a strong fellowship of faith began with the Baptist Church of Christ led by Elder Sion Blythe almost 200 years ago. Rich in diversity as the Cahaba itself, many beautiful church buildings still adorned the slopes and valleys surrounding Trussville as guardians of its city.
As the Civil War appeared on the horizon, Alabama succeeded from the Union in 1861. On a chilly night in April 1865, Union Raiders poured into the tiny village, setting the post office and confederate storehouse on fire. The community banded together and put out the fire, saving much of the stored supplies. Two of the very unfortunate Raiders were hung at Sinkler Lathem’s home only after Lathem attempted to patch up their wounds. The War between the states brought many hardships and Trussville did not escape them.
To accommodate the influx of workers and their families following the introduction of the railroad construction and furnace manufacturing companies, N. Talley and Robert G. Hewitt created Trussville and Cahaba River Land Company. In 1869, Trussville’s first school, Trussville Academy, was founded by Hewitt and Trussville Life, the first newspaper, went into print with editor, S. R. McDanal publishing local, national and world event news. The incorporation of Birmingham in 1871 and its evolution into the Southern center of the iron and steel industry, generated additional jobs. By 1880 the population of Alabama extended beyond a million with Trussville becoming home to many.
The dark days following “Black Friday”, became the death of what would have been Granada City and the birth of the Cahaba Project in 1934. President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” introduced project homes in communities around the United States. The site recognized as Slagheap Village, was chosen. Slagheap Village would provide 60-70 needy families with homes. W. H. Kestler, a professional landscape architect, shared his dream for the Cahaba Project with Dr. Rexwell Tugwell, an Administrator of the Resettlement Administration. Tugwell was so impressed with Kestler’s plans that he pressed for the purchase of an additional 150 acres to make the dream a reality. Now, nearly 400 homes for working families would develop into Cahaba Village, or simply, The Project. Homes would contain what many considered luxuries during that period; running water, indoor bathrooms, and electricity.
By 1938, 164 homes were occupied. George Glenn along with his expecting wife became the first residents. The Cahaba Community Association formed to “encourage closer relationships among the residents of the community.” Within five years the community contained 281 residents. The vision of Kestler included schools, a cooperative store, and parks, one of which became known as the Mall. The Trussville Times, published by William Lamons, was given credit for the unifying of the outer existing Trussville area and the residents within the Project. Shortly after, Trussville incorporated in 1947.
Industries such as the Amerex Corporation, founded in 1970, stabilized Trussville’s economy. New road systems made Trussville accessible which in turn tripled the population during the 70‘s and 80‘s. Impressive homes, outstanding education facilities, multi-million dollar shopping centers and numerous cultural and civic possibilities have all contributed to the settler surge.
Future generations have big shoes to fill, but tomorrow’s leaders, with courage and inspiration, gathered from the past, can continue to weave a story filled with heros and heroines, entrepreneurs and adventurist protecting a home where the pursuit of happiness can still be found.