Mr. Maddox's Automobile

Mr Maddox's first car - Maddox GenealogyJohn Luther Maddox, Sr. owned and edited Odenville, Alabama's first newspaper, the "St. Clair County  News".  It was established in 1908.  Tradition says that the first edition was printed on silk, but no copy has ever been located.  The paper's slogan for 1908 was:
                                                 LATE TO BED
                                                 EARLY TO RISE
                                                 WORK LIKE HELL
                                                 AND ADVERTISE
On 18 Nov 1909, the "St. Clair County News" published it's last issue in Odenville, AL and moved it's headquarters to Ragland, AL.  John Luther Maddox was also in business in Julian, AL.  He opened a store at the railroad cut at Hardwick in 1902.  In 1904, he built for Odenville's first doctor, the house now occupied by Joe and Gail Whitten.  At the same time he began building his own home on the Springville Cutoff.  He moved his family from Julian, AL to Odenville, AL in 1905.

Myrtle Anne Maddox Kenney, his daughter, lived in that house until her death on 21 Dec 1993. Her mother, Sarah Elizabeth Jones Maddox,  planted walnut trees there in 1905-06 and they are fine, spreading trees now.  While maintaining his store at the cut, he bought from the Haywoods the general merchandise store which was located on the lot where Odenville's Chevron is now located today.

Mr. Maddox bought a new automobile in the fall of 1909.  The local newspaper announced the event as follows:  "Odenville can now take her place with the other towns throughout the country who have passed the horse-and-buggy stage".  The article reported that he was not yet an expert at running his machine, but that everybody expected him to learn remarkably fast.  His auto was made to carry about six passengers and was reported to have "good speed".  On a Sunday afternoon, a party of five went to Ashville, AL in the Maddox motorcar.  Said the paper, "Mr. Crowe Hardin, who knows more about the machines than anyone else in this part of the country, acted as chauffeur.  The trip home was made in record-breaking time, and hour and ten minutes."

Another of Maddox's trips was to Birmingham, AL, a journey also duly reported in the St. Clair County News.  One of the memorian things of the trip was that "When about half way there, the gasoline gave out and he and his passengers were obliged to walk about five or six miles across to the Central of Georgia Railroad at Henry Ellen, where they took a train for the city."  (Pictured:  an early auto with stick steering similar to the first one owned by Mr. Maddox.)

His daughter, Myrtle Ann Maddox Kenney, remembered well her father's car.  She stated "My daddy guided it with a stick and it had rubber tires about four inches in diameter, just hard rubber on wooden wheels."  There wasn't any such thing as inflated tires back then.  She said it would go CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG.  Chugging along and everybody would run to see them, and that her brothers, Jack, J. L. Jr., and Chesley, would hide and say "They're not gonna see me."  Myrtle Anne Maddox Kenney said one time that they went down to Bethel and the road was real narrow and the people in buggies were coming toward them and their horses would start raring up and down.  She said she would never forget that incident as it scared her.

John Luther Maddox was born on the 23rd of March 1869, and moved to St. Clair County in 1887, where he actively engaged in farming up to 1895.  He then entered the merchantile business on a small scale, was was very successful.  He was the founder and editor of the St. Clair County News and had very flattering success with it.  He was a self-made man and was very successful in all his undertakings.  He was prominent in locating the St. Clair County High School in Odenville, AL.  He was greatly interested in eductional matters, good roads, the general upbuilding and development of Odenville, AL and adjacent territory.

John Luther Maddox died the 4th of September 1935 and is buried next to his wife Sarah in the Liberty Cemetery, Odenville, AL.  Their tombstones have Woodsmen of the World emblems on them.
  -- Written by Joseph Whitten from interviewing Myrtle Maddox; submitted by Dot Maddox, Georgia

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