Early settler’s names were used to identify roads and places. To name a few, Wulff Rd., McCrary Rd., Snow Rd., Howells Ferry Rd. (there was a ferry to cross Big Creek), Moffett Rd., Lott Rd., Allentown are some of the pioneer family names.
Wulff Rd was named for Jim Wulff who had come from Denmark in 1864 and died in 1933. Tom Dodd, Jr. said “Jim was very active in church and could quickly settle down an argument when needed. The community sat up the entire night at the Wulff home for his wake."
Howells Ferry Road is named for the Benjamin Howell Family and the ferry that was used to cross Big Creek. According to Helen Waltman Caldwell the great- great granddaughter of Benjamin Howell, in 1605 three Howell brothers came from England to Long Island carrying gold bullion. Benjamin Frank Howell came to Albritton Precinct before you could homestead and purchased land for 50 cents an acre.
Before there were towns it was necessary to establish designated places in order to conduct the business of the government, census counting, voting, and mail delivery. Census records indicate that before the town of Semmes was established it was a community in the Albritton Precinct.
Pauline Dodd, the first historian of Semmes, reported that her grandfather received his mail at the 15 mile post on Moffett Rd (AL42) which became US. Hwy 98. In 1789 Congress was given the power to establish Post offices and post roads. A line of posts was set up along a designated road that became a post road. Dependable deputies on horseback were appointed to carry the mail which was deposited at different mile posts.
The McCrary family was an early pioneer family that settled in the Albritton Precinct. They had a “stopover house” which was defined as a place to rest on ones journey. People traveling to and from Mississippi and Mobile would stop at the McCrary’s home.
According to Helen Waltman Caldwell, the great, great granddaughter of Benjamin Howell there was a trail that the Indians used to go to Mobile down to the sea once a year to harvest salt. The trail ran beside Allentown Cemetery. The salty water was boiled until all the water had evaporated and all that was left was salt. Pots were borrowed from the early settlers near the trail with the agreement to return the pots and a portion of salt. Helen said the salt looked brown and dirty. On the way back from one of these trips, one old Indian took sick and died. He is the first person that was buried in Allentown Cemetery.
Benjamin Howell believed in education for all his children. His children boarded in Mobile and graduated from High School at Barton Academy. His son, Thomas Jefferson Howell gave the land to build the 1902 Semmes School. It is interesting to note that when Thomas gave the land to build a school and church the deed specifies that a school should always remain on the property or the property would revert back to the Howell Family.
Eight men from Illinois hearing of the wonderful riches in Alabama, looking to make a fortune quickly, formed the Semmes Land Company. They came to Albritton Precinct, purchasing land fifteen miles northwest of Mobile and laid out the town of Semmes in November 1900. They named the town Semmes after Admiral Raphael Semmes.