H.C. Powell Purchased Headland in 1879

By: T. Larry Smith
Henry County’s Official Historian
Vol. 18, No. 05
H.C. Powell Purchased Headland in 1879

Headland,Alabama established in 1871 By J.J. Head, who sold in 1879 to Hosey C. Powell, who sold again in 1880 to Dr. Wyatt S. Oates, who incorporated the City of Headland In 1884

The rest of the story has been found after a long search regarding Hosey C. Powell who bought the village of Headland, Alabama in 1879. Hosea “Hosey” C. Powell was born in Georgia on December 26, 1851. His parents were William H. Powell and Francis Hodges Powell, both were born in Georgia. Hosey C. Powell came into the Headland, Alabama area in Henry County sometime prior to 1879. Hosey C. Powell bought the village of Headland from J.J. Head in 1879 after J.J. Head had founded the town in 1871. Hosey C. Powell sold his village of Headland in 1880 to Dr. Wyatt S. Oates after failing to have the village incorporated due to not having enough citizens living within the proposed town limits. Dr. Oates had established his first medical office at Headland in 1875.

Hosey was listed as H. Powell and still living at Headland as a single 28 year old farmer who owned his farm in 1880. Hosey C. Powell later left Headland and settled in Jackson County, Florida. He lived in the Ephesus Church community near Campbellton, Florida. Hosey was married three times to (l) Ida G. Powell 1864-1894; (2) Mary J. Powell 1865-1913; and (3) Nettie Powell. Hosey was father to five known children. By 1909, Hosey was living in Florida when he typed a letter to be used in the hotly contested 1908 Henry County court battles and in the 1909 Alabama Supreme Court case titled “The Town of Headland, Alabama vs. Dr. Wyatt S. Oates” in determining who owned the Headland Public Square, Dr. Oates or the Town of Headland? All of the court fights ended with Headland winning all of the cases, but Dr. Oates would still not agree with the outcome. The dispute was settled in 1909 with Dr. Oates relinquishing his title to the public square while getting title to several town streets and various lots in the Supreme Court settlement agreement worked out by the lawyers. Hosey C. Powell died on May 28, 1922 at age 71 and was buried next his first two wives in the Ephesus Church Cemetery.

Mr. H.C. Powell’s first initial of “H” erroneously printed as “Y” C. Powell 17 years ago by this writer who mis-interpreted the “H” for a “Y” .in the badly faded 1909 letter written by H.C. Powell, that was displayed on the west wall of the Headland library’s former history room. The letter had been placed near a large window and the sun light had almost faded out the typed print. The barely legible letter was later taken down. In later years while researching the 1908-09 court document books, the details of the Headland vs. W.S. Oates case were found with Hosey C. Powell’s name clearly appearing in the evidence documents as Hosey C. Powell, as indeed the man who purchased Headland from J.J. Head in 1879, and later sold the town to Dr. Oates in 1880. Now rendered is the transcribed letter by H.C. Powell written in 1909 describing the two sales of the town of Headland in 1879 and again in 1880.

To whom it may concern: September 27, 1909. On the 18th day of August, 1879, I bought out J.J. Head in Henry County, Alabama, which covered and included the town of Headland, except the following property: one acre belonging to Bethlehem Baptist Church (this was the first name of the present First Baptist Church of Headland) on which the church was located and one acre from the southeast corner of the square according to the plans of the village or town of Headland belonging to Mr. Bell and land lots no. 9, 15, 17, 24 and 13 as laid off in the plan of the Village of Headland, said lots being 35 feet by 105 feet. The amount of land total that I bought of said Head being 357 ? acres more or less, and the square of Headland in the deed to me by the said Head. On the 28th day of July, 1880, I sold to Dr. W.S. Oates all of the property bought by me from said J.J. Head, except 2 acres sold to J.E. Grice south of the Newton Road and 2 acres sold to J.J. Head and 2 acres sold to J.H. Hollon, and my deeds to W.S. Oates included all the land purchased same from the said Head, and I sold same to W.S. Oates and made title to said Oates to same. Signed this 27th day of September, 1909, H.C. Powell.

Dr. W.S. Oates then concentrated his energy to the promotion, development, and growth of his town of Headland having closed his medical practice to concentrate on his growing land and property holdings. He had the town incorporated in 1884 as Headland, Alabama and he became known as the “Father of Headland,” which is now the largest town in Henry County. He could have easily re-named the town Oatesville or Oatesland but did not do so in respect to Dr, J.J. Head who had become a medical doctor and moved to Tampa, Florida in 1883 where he died in 1927 and was buried there. Dr. Oates became one of the wealthiest men in Henry County. He was a native of Abbeville; he died in 1913 and was buried in the Abbeville Pioneer City Cemetery in his parent’s plot.