Our family is based out of Docena, Alabama (affectionately called "The Old Mining Camp"). Both mom and pop were raised in the small mining community just northwest of Birmingham. Many of these small mining commuties have all but disappeared and detailed histories of them do not exist. Docena lives on and a number of our relatives still reside there. The Birmingham Public Library provided me with a brief history (it's all the information they have) on Docena. It is extracted from Marjorie White's book, "The Birmingham District: An Industrial History and Guide".
The coal mine at Docena and others near Birmingham were owned by the Tennessee Coal and Iron (TCI) company. Development of coal mines at Docena, Edgewater and Bayview began in 1908 and continued through World War I. By 1912, these mines had become the largest employers and producers in the district, eclipsing earlier mining operations at Pratt City, Wylam and the Blue Creek fields. In 1912, when TCI stopped using convict labor, industrial management had already realized that attractive mining camps were a prerequisite to retaining skilled mine workers. As part of U.S. Steel's modernization and expansion of all TCI operations following the takeover in 1907, new mining camps were designed as "model" villages. Attention was directed not only to new technology but also to overall community design, housing variety, street paving, sanitary conditions, landscaping and provisions for education and social amenities such as stores, churches, kindergartens, teachers' cottages, parks, playgrounds and social halls. The TCI Department of Roads and Buildings staff supervised layout and building of the mines and mining camps. A growing sophistication in community design can be seen in comparing the plan for No. 12 Camp at Docena (1912) - basically an existing grid plan developed before 1912 to which open space for recreation areas and community buildings was attached - to the radially symmetrical plan for Bayview (1915), in which open spaces and community buildings form the central elements of the design, which conforms to unusual natural contours.
Population and production at the three mining villages rose steadily until World War I and peaked in the mid-1920s after Hamilton Slope had been added to production. TCI's 10 coal mines produced 3.7 million tons of coal in 1926. Production remained strong through World War II.
First of the new mining villages to be built was Docena. Previously it was the site of Booker City, a black community organized around educational facilities established about 1905 by the Colored Methodist Church in Alabama. In 1907, the church exchanged the site for 30 acres in Vinesville (now Fairfield) and in 1908 reorganized the school as Miles Memorial College, in honor of Bishop William H. Miles. Until 1912, a stockade for convicts who worked at the No. 12 Pratt mine was located on what is Second Street today. Old-timers vividly recall seeing the convicts march in straight columns up to the Frisco Railroad stop and board trains for Sloss' Flat Top mine. This was 1912, when TCI discontinued the practice of convict leasing.
Development of the Docena (derived from the Spanish word for the number 12) mine began in 1907. By 1912, 70 miners were employed there and 237 others worked in positions outside the mines. By 1918, wartime demand swelled the labor force to 825 persons, most of whom lived in the community with their families. In the early 1940s, as many as 1,228 persons were employed at the mines.
Docena Village, referred to in the TCI "Key to Progress" photograph of January 3, 1912, as the No. 12 mine camp layout, is designed adjacent to a large central park and playground. Located on the park were a commissary (called a mercado in keeping with the Spanish name of the village), a schoolhouse, a church shared by Baptists and Methodists, teachers' cottages and residences for the store manager, superintendent and chief accountant. Miner houses were located along a regular grid between First and Sixth Streets, with blacks living on Sixth Street and on the fringes. A clubhouse and masonic meeting lodge was situated on a high knoll at Eighth Street.
The earliest houses constructed were the four-room square-tops intended for one and two families. As the community grew, bungalows of varied design and two and three-bedroom doubles were built throughout the community. In 1918, major portions of older houses were reconstructed and running water and interior toilets installed in some.
Docena Village was sold to John W. Galbreath and Company in the 1950s. When the mine was closed in 1962, many people moved to find employment, but others purchased their homes remained in the well-defined, isolated and attractive "model" mining village.
Old TCI Commissary-Mercado (1912)
Now grocery and post office
In Civic Center Park at Circle and 3rd Streets
TCI Residences for Store Manager, Superintendent and Chief Accountant
Circle Street, across from Commissary
TCI Teachers' Cottages (1926, 1928)
Site of TCI White School
At Civic Center Park
Old TCI Medical Dispensary
Circle Street, to west of Civic Center Park
Site of No. 12 Docena Mine (1908-1961)
West of Civic Center, at end of Circle Street
Docena Baptist Church
Originally the TCI Community Church
192 4th Court
Site of TCI Black Clubhouse and Masonic Lodge (burned 1980)
8th Street, on hill
THIS IS A BIG FIND!!! These are photos of our great-grandparents on the Willoughby side. These are Cecil Willoughby's (mom's father) parents. The quality of the photos is not very good, but you can plainly see the genetic makeup of the gentleman on the right. These two were actually MARRIED back then! Talk about brave!! I'll have more information on these folks when I get it.
Eunice "Hess" (Kelly)-Brown. Born: April 22, 1916 in Brookside, AL. Passed: Februrary 9, 1976 in Birmingham.
William Morris "Red" Brown. Born: July 19, 1912 in Cardiff, AL. Passed: December 4, 1993 in Birmingham.
The First Brown Family Reunion in July 2000. These are the children of Hess and Red Brown (10 total).
Standing: Vannessa Hannah (#9), Joanne McClendon (#8), Betty Williams (#6), Eunice "Gigi" Brown (#5), Rochelle Banks (#10) and Charles "Spud" Brown (#2).
Seated: Wanda Griffin (#3) and William "Jodie" Brown (#7).
Not Pictured: Minnie White (#4) and Carl Kelly (#1).
Annie Bell (Congress)-Willoughby. Born: August 27, 1917 in Flat Creek, AL. Passed: July 18, 1985.
Cecil Willoughby. Born: June 20, 1905 in Fort Deposit, AL. Passed: June 10, 1952.
These are the children of Annie and Cecil Willoughby (8 total).
Top Photo (taken in the late 1970's): Mary Brown (#1), Alma Love, Alton Willoughby (#3 and #4: they're twins), Lois Harris (#2) - Born: February 22, 1940 in Birmingham, AL. Passed: July 1990 in Perris, CA. and Annie Willoughby (#6).
Lower Photos: Ezzard Charles Willoughby (#7) and Patricia Willoughby (#8) - Born: August 25, 1953 in Birmingham, AL. Passed: November 23, 1979 in Los Angeles, CA.
Claude Willoughby (#5) - Born: July 5, 1943 in Birmingham, AL. Passed: Summer, 1951 in Birmingham.
Grandpa "Red" Brown in Tucson - December 1992
Great Grandma Kelly, Pop and Grandma Hess
Grandpa Brown and David - 1963
Grandpa Brown and Wayne - Easter 1960
upper left: Pop Brown, three of his sisters, his mom (Hess) and his Grandmother (Corinth "Mouse" Kelly)
upper right: Grandma Hess
lower left: Grandma Hess
lower right: Grandma Hess and her sister (Mildred "Mua" Richardson)
Joanne and Vanessa in High School
Vanessa, Gigi and Joanne
Carl Kelly (Pop's older brother) - Vietnam 1968
Carl was born on November 18, 1935 in Brookside, AL. He passed on July 2, 1993 in Tampa, FL.
Frank and Wanda Griffin - wedding day - 15 April 1960
Val - 1956
Jodie and Sharon Brown - July 1981
Johnita, Rochelle and Lynn Johnita and Lynn - 1998
Wayne, Chuck and Val in Docena - 1962
Photo of Wayne taken at Docena Jr. High - 1959
Aunt Mattie (Grandma Willoughby's sister) and ?
Docena - 1962
Uncle Jack Ware (Pop's uncle by marriage to his Aunt Louise)
Rochelle, Chuck and Val - 1961
Sherry, Terry and LaNita Williams
Carolyn Rochelle Brown, age 6 - 1962 and high school graduate - May 1974
Granpa "Red" Brown with his coal buckets and "Nellybelle" the car
Great Grandma Corinne "Mouse" Kelly. Hess' mother.
Rochelle and Cindy
Mom and Val - 1955
Pop and his uncle, Jack Ware
Mom, Chuck and Wayne in Docena - 1960
LaNita Williams (daughter of Terry and Sherry)
Finishing the 8th Grade on 05/23/03 (Alabama)
Pam Griffen graduating from college - 2001
This was a great find! Read this article from the Birmingham News in February of 1984
Sherrie Williams, "Pet" Dabbs, Cindy Cottrell and Pam Griffen-Mapp - July 2000
Carl Kelly in Vietnam - February 1967 and January 1968
Christina Banks (daughter of Rochelle and Robert) - July 2000
Great Grandma Kelly and Grandma Brown with a bunch of their offspring - Docena in June of 1963
I can identify Val, Wayne, Chuck, David and Rochelle. Anybody know the rest?
Greta (in the back, center) met her family in Docena - 1983
Joanne Maclinn - July 2000
Vanessa Arlene Brown - age 9, grade 4 - May 1962 and graduate of Tuskegee Institute - May 1974
Raymond Ware (son of Jack and Louise and Pop's cousin) and Theresa "Toots" Ware
Frank Griffen - July 2000
One of the Birmingham clan (no pun intended) visiting Arizona in January 2006. Pam Griffen-Mapp at Chuck and Joy's house in Glendale. Check out the outfit! Girlfriend took to the southwestern look in no time! :-)
Diamond Gates, 7th grade softball team pitcher. Diamond is the daughter of Mark and Makenna Gates. Pleasant Grove, Alabama. 2006
Makenna and Mark Gates - Pleasant Grove, Alabama - 2006
Pop (Spud) Brown with his Aunt Nuchie (Mildred Richardson). Nuchie is Hess Brown's (Pop's mother) last living sibling. Nuchie is also known as "Muh". 2-28-2008.
This is a great find! These are hand drawn renderings of Pop's great grandparents (my great-great grandparents). Their names are Lula Burns and James Burns. They were both born and raised as slaves. Lula was born and raised in Alabama. James was born and raised in Georgia. They are the parents of Pop's grandmother, Corrine (Mouse) Kelly.
Pop with two of his cousins. James (Big Boy) Webster (on the left) and Billy Payne. 2-28-2008.
We had a fish fry at Anita Streeter's (Pop's cousin) home in Docena. From the back to the front: Anthony Smith, Lil Joe Williams, Juanita Griffen, Wayne, Pam's daughter, Pam Griffen-Map, Vanessa Hannah and Pop. 2-28-2008.
Birmingham was once a booming steel and coal town. Most of that industry has faded away and all that remains are abandoned reminders like this old steel mill seen from the viaduct that connects Birmingham to Docena. 2-28-2008.
The viaduct connecting Birmingham and Docena. A small sign pointing the way to the Ol' Mining Camp. 3-1-2008.
Mom Brown's younger brother, Ezzard Charles Willoughby. He still lives in Docena. 3-1-2008.
Hess and Red Brown - 1972
Wanda was the eldest female child of Hess and Red Brown.
Vanessa Hannah - March 2009
Pop Brown, Mark Gates, and cousins - Alabama - March 2009
Diamond Gates and her Prom date - Birmingham, Ala. - April 2010