A Brief History of Colony, Alabama


COLONY – It is believed that Colony, Alabama was originally settled after the Civil War during Reconstruction and following the emancipation, or freedom of slaves. The people that came to live in the area now known as Colony had probably been freed slaves from the old settlement of Baltimore, AL. It is Cullman County’s only African American community and in its early days, it was considered a safe haven for African Americans in the Deep South.

Major Reid, a former slave, was one of the first people to settle in Colony. He received his land as compensation for unknown services. His brother, Enoch Montgomery, also a former slave, received his land by filing a claim in Huntsville, AL.

The brothers did not share a last name because Montgomery – following custom – acquired the surname of his master.

Reid died in 1893 and Montgomery died in 1894. The brothers are buried in the Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church Cemetery in Colony. 

Other original residents of Colony that were known to have entered land claims were George Wilson, John Johnson and Irson Byars.

According to legend, some of Colony’s early settlers that did not have a mule and wagon walked all the way to Huntsville to file their homestead claims. Imagine how long that took! 

Reid Byars, not to be confused with Irson Byars, built the first cotton gin in Colony. The gin operated using horse-drawn machinery.

Later, he partnered with Lee Reid and J.P. Ward and the three established a steam mill, which powered a cotton gin, sawmill and grist mill.

A two-story lodge hall was constructed with the first floor being used as a general store operated by Mall Fields. It was known as the Colony Mercantile and it thrived from the patronage of both black and white citizens in the area for a number of years. 

M. A. Griffin, a field worker, was instrumental in urging the Negro community to build a school. He did this by pointing out that the necessary resources – timber, sawmill, and manpower – were available within their own community. The school was built in 1927 and was originally a seven grade institution. It later increased to nine grades with the last three being senior high grades.

They were added in 1939, 1941 and 1942 under then principal Matthew E. West. The Colony School was consolidated with Hanceville in 1965-66, providing students with an opportunity to attend an accredited school. 

Colony has come a long way since its beginning. It was incorporated in 1981.

The current mayor of Colony is Mr. Vernon Fields. The Town Clerk is Heather Royster and the council members are Marcus Bradford, Crystal Wilson, Parish Fitts and Alexander Twitty. The Town Council meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Colony Town Hall.