By RICK WARWICK
Williamson County Historical Society
Local historian Thelma Battle has finished Natchez Street Area Revisited Volume II, which completes her history of one of Franklin’s oldest and largest African American communities.
Volume II presents histories of Redmond, Williams, Crutcher, Ellison, Scruggs,
Evans, Reed, Smith and Hughes families, who were prominent residents of the Natchez Street and Columbia Avenue area.
The public is invited to meet Thelma Battle and purchase her new book from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, March 11.
It is hard to imagine that a thriving neighborhood existed in the area behind the H.G. Hill Center, known as Scruggs’ Bottom and Evans Alley. Today, public housing along Acton Street and the back of the Hill Center are all that remains.
Thelma Battle provides genealogies of these families and details their relationships through marriages. More than 300 photographs brings life to the text, as is the author’s custom.
Most readers will recognize Natchez Street’s leading citizen in recent times, Fred
Douglas Williams, who lived in the heart of that community at 11th Avenue and Natchez Street.
Fred Williams, a cabdriver, and his brother, Allen Williams, a barber, worked out of the Midway Cab Stand and Barber Shop, located at Baptist Neck, also known as Natchez Street and 9th Avenue. Their cousin, Will Redmond was owner of Redmond’s Liquors and Café on Main Street, and prominent landowner in Franklin.
Their grandfather, A.N.C. Williams, is legendary as an ex-slave, founder
of Cummins Street Church of Christ and Franklin’s longest tenured merchant on Main Street.
Thelma Battle also documents the little-known importance of Joe and Lizzie Crutcher, who owned the area of Scruggs’ Bottom soon after the Civil War, and whose descendants populated the neighborhood in the years that have followed.
Dr. James D. Evans, another prominent resident of the neighborhood who has been almost forgotten in time, is buried in Toussaint L’Overture Cemetery. Also, ex-slave Phoebe Reed and her descendants have played a key role in the Natchez Street area.