Welcome to Smuteye

Major Cox, resident, and Dalton Kuder, visitor, at the Smuteye Gro.

Smuteye is an historical rural community on Alabama State Highway 239 and County Road 14 approximately 12 miles south of Union Springs, the county seat of Bullock County, Alabama. This area, located within the old Indian Creek Township, was formerly Pike County and known as the Eastern Division before Bullock was formed in 1866 from parts of Pike, Barbour, Macon and Montgomery Counties.

"Welcome," the name of this settlement before "Smuteye," was thought by many people to be a more appropriate name for the hardworking, respectable citizens who were mostly merchants and farmers. The name Smuteye has been explained with traditional tales with several versions about smut blown about by the huge bellows from the blacksmith shop of an old fellow named George Pope. He was often covered with smut and about all you could see was his eyes. The smut from the fires also collected on the faces around the eyes of people working over them or being near them. Occasionally, they would engage in some hand scuffling, smearing soot around one another's eyes. Thus, the small community picked up the name, "Smuteye."

Besides being a good blacksmith, George Pope was said to be the best veterinarian one could ask for. He had a Whirl-A-Jig attached to a stump in his yard to entertain the local children. The younger children were allowed to play in the sand with his empty non-poisonous veterinarian bottles.

George, son of James Pope, made caskets, pulled teeth, served as a horse doctor, and distributed a remedy for ground itch. In the early days, Indians came by to trade horses. The blacksmith shop stood next to an old pecan tree which was used for tying horses. Also, at one time, all elections in the community were held in the Pope home. It was a festive occasion and Miss Eula Pope served fried chicken and layer cakes cooked in an iron skillet with chocolate icing poured over the top.

Pope HouseLocated in the heart of Smuteye, the Pope family home is directly across the paved road from the Smuteye Grocery store, which for many years was the trade center of the community. For most of its existence, the store was operated by the local W. B. Phillips family - W. B. "Will" first, then by his son, Ulric and wife, Cora, and later by another son, "Mose." W. B. Phillips was the son of Moses Brinson and Rachel Cope Phillips, and the grandson of Benjamin Phillips. In the early 1900's Clara, wife of W. B. Phillips, had a millinery shop in the front northeast side of the store. The present day Smuteye Grocery, though not in operation, is owned by a granddaughter of W. B. and Clara Phillips.

Traveling salesmen, watch and clock repairmen, photographers and even tree peddlers (mostly supplying fruit trees for family orchards) frequented this old settlement. The nearest railroad was about ten miles away at Inverness.

According to historian, Margaret Pace Farmer, the Three Notch Road was one of the main thoroughfares which settlers took to come to then northern Pike County and settle in what is now southern Bullock County. This area, including where Smuteye is, received the majority of the settlers. Traces of the old Three Notch Road, a military road dating back to 1824, and extending from Fort Barancas in Pensacola, Florida to Fort Mitchell in the Lower Creek Indian Nation in Alabama, are still evident just northeast of Smuteye at Indian Creek Community. This road gets its name from the marking of trees with three horizontal cuts, which gave assurance of the selection of the correct route to travelers, civilian or military.

The Indian Treaty Boundary Line crosses approximately five miles northeast of Smuteye near Pine Grove Community. The Creek Treaty of March 24, 1832, ceded the Indian Territory north of the boundary line between the Mississippi Territory and the Creek Nation to the United States. 


Reprinted with permission by:
Dina Mason Moore, Route 1, Box 67, Fitzpatrick, AL 36029. 
Sources: Census and Historical Records.


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Last update:  Friday, August 29, 2008

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