Wednesday, September 2, 2009


by Terry Thornton

One community near where I lived as a child is called Adley. Little information has been printed about Adley, Monroe County, Mississippi, and much about the community and its school has been forgotten. The following map shows the approximate location of Adley superimposed over a modern MDOT county highway map. (Click map for a larger view)

On the map above, note the small creek called Section Creek --- it starts in the hollow behind Parham Store and Parham House. When I was a child, a gang of us kids used to walk that creek from Parham to where it flowed under Firetower Road (just below Mr. Autry Raper's house and farm) and then walk the road back home. None of us knew then that we had walked to Adley and back.

At one time, the small rural community was centered about the Adley School --- and several citizens of the Hill Country remember family members who went to school there. A current resident of the community, Di Stevens whose house is built at the approximately location of the old school, states that her grandparents James F. Cox and his wife Belma Brasfield Cox taught at Adley as well as Brock School. Di's mother-in-law, Lessie Hathcock Stevens, attended Adley School. Di has some artifacts from the old school but so far has not been able to located a photograph or much printed evidence of the school.

Other nearby residents remember names of teachers. Dale Swan is quoted by Mary Anna Riggan as stating that his aunt, Dena Swan Hathcock (sister to Rosco Swan) once taught at Adley School.

Apparently at one time residents of the community put "Adley" on their mailing address for mail delivered to Adley by the Smithville Post Office. Dorothy Cauthern, according to her daughter Rita Thompson, grew up in Adley and remembers the address.

Jerry Harlow sends word that Monroe County historian Charles Granville Hamilton stated that the "Adlai School" was started in 1892. Jerry also provides information that Minnie Lee Maxey Suggs was once a student at Adley School.

Miss Jessie Pierce (in History of Smithville, page 5) states that some of the early Burdine fields that were abandoned became known as "the Skinner Fields (close to old Adley)." Miss Pierce's step-aunt, Georgia Davidson, would often ride horseback to these old abandoned fields where cattle ranged and locate her family's cows by the sounds of the bells on the cows' neck --- "close to old Adley."

The most recent use of the word "Adley" as a place name in Monroe County Mississippi of which I am aware was in the obituary for Mr. Autry Raper, a resident of Adley, who died in 1980.

Adley School was located in Section 9, Township 12 South, Range 17 West. According to records at the Bureau of Land Management, the earliest land patent holders in Section 9 were John Burdine (1822); Murdock McDuffie (1859); Andrew J. Parham (1859); and Thomas Andrew Harris (1914). Mr. Burdine's lands are difficult to trace because when they were recorded there was still confusion as to which state Monroe County was in --- so three of Mr. Burdine's patents are recorded in the Alabama records of 1822 and one in the Mississippi records of 1825 --- but all 316 acres of the Burdine land patents are in Section 9, Monroe County Mississippi.

But little else is known about Adley.

Even the name is a mystery. One spelling of the community is "Adlai" --- and some suggest that the school may have been named for a teacher whose first name was Adlai.

Others suggest that the school and community may have been named for a family with the surname Adley. But no Adley family groups are found on the census of Monroe County.

Another good suggestion was that the community may have been named for the John Hadley family, an early pioneering family of Monroe County. The "H" may have been dropped over the years and the name corrupted to "Adley."

Adley School was, as reported above, started in the 1890s --- and it obviously continued on until the mid- to late 1920s and perhaps beyond. No photographs of the school have been found.

On the following map, it is easy to see how one could speculate that Adley may have been one of those frontier villages which pushed right up against the international boundary between Indian Nation to the north and Monroe County Mississippi United States to the south. (Click map for a larger view)

On this map, the Old Indian Treaty Line (the Gaines Trace) divided early Monroe County Mississippi from Indian Nation. Officially, Americans were not allowed to settle or to take up lands north of this boundary but there are many reports of settlers pushing up right against the
line and doing trade with the Indians who lived just north of the line. It is possible that Adley was one of the early trading posts sites which didn't thrive after the removal of the Indians and the expansion of the United States borders. This possibility for the orgin of Adley is just that --- a theory. Certainly the location of the school and most of the older house places in the center of Adley indicate that the majority of the American activity was south of the boundary line.

The only business activity of which I remember near the center of Adley (basically at the intersection of today's Hadaway Bottom Road and Firetower Road) was the small country store operated in recent times by Mr. Terry Hathcock. Whether or not an older store was at that site remains to be determined.

It is entirely possible that Adley was one of those small rural communities which sprang up in the late 1890s around a school and then faded away rather than having much earlier history. It is hoped that readers will discuss Adley School/Community with their family elders and report information back to the rest of us.

Below are three photographs of the general area of today's Adley. There are no stores or schools left in Adley --- just beautiful hill country lands and homes of Adleians. I do hope someone has a detailed history of their community to share with readers of HILL COUNTRY (Click photographs for larger images)

Above: Hadaway Bottom Road looking south towards intersection of Firetower Road and the "center" of the old community, Adley. This photograph was taken from about the crossing of the Indian Treaty Boundary Line (the Gaines Trace) which divided two nations in the early history of Monroe County Mississippi.

Above:Intersection of Hadaway Bottom Road and Firetower Road looking east down Firetower Road. The Adley community was centered near this location.

Above: Intersection of Hadaway Bottom Road and Firetower Road looking west -- about one mile west this road (past the late Autry Raper's place) runs almost on top of the Indian Treaty Bounday/Gaines Trace. The road changes its name when it crosses Parham Store Road to Little Road which, for the first half-mile or so, runs along the Indian Treaty Bounday.

It is interesting to drive this section of road knowing at one time the older horse path there divided nations and served as an international boundary in Hill Country.

If you have photographs, information, or artifacts from Adley Community or Adley School, I would most enjoy hearing from you. Leave a comment or send an email to


Adley Community and School, general information from members of the Monroe County Discussion Group (Jerry Harlow, Mary Anna Riggan, Rita Thompson, Judy Sullivan, Bob Franks, James Alverson, and Lori Thornton) in a series of emails to Terry Thornton, August 2009.

Adley Maps modified from the Mississippi Department of Transportation official highway map of Monroe County, Mississippi. Original map available at

Adley Photographs, August 23, 2009, Terry Thornton, Fulton, Mississippi.

Adley School, information courtesy of Di Stevens, Adley, Mississippi; Dale Swan, Parham, Mississippi; and the Monroe County Discussion Group, August 2009, various emails to Terry Thornton.

Landowners from the area around early Adley, General Land Office, Bureau of Land Management. Available online. Accessed August 30, 2009.

Pierce, Miss Jessie, History of Smithville and Surrounding Territory, July 1958. Privately printed and published by L.H. Pierce, Amory, Mississippi, as transcribed by Terry Thornton, December 12, 2008, and published 2009 in Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi Volume 1, Numbers 756 - 762.

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