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