- John F. Harroun
Mr. and Mrs. John F. Harroun came to Semmes in the late 1800’s from Grand Rapids, Michigan. They built their own home, which was located just off Hwy 42 (aka Hwy 98). This historic 1900 house remains today.
John was the first Justice of the Peace in Semmes. He had the authority to marry people, settle legal disputes, issue warrants, presided over a court that heard misdemeanor cases; cases involving small debts, landlord and tenant disputes, or other small claims court proceedings.
John organized the first Sunday school at Mt. Pleasant Church and for many years was the Sunday school superintendent. He conducted church services and officiated at the funeral services in the absence of the regular pastor. The Mount Pleasant church was renamed Semmes First Baptist in the year of 1904.
The church moved from time to time as the population shifted. The first move for the church from the original site, the log cabin school, was to the place of Mrs. Turner-Strike off of the G.M. & N Railroad later GM&O. The next move was 1.2 miles northwest of the Strike place. A site was chosen and a building was erected only to find out later the land had been purchased by a couple up north which required another move. John had built a new barn and offered for the church to meet in it until new land could be secured and a new church built.
Thomas Jefferson Howell in 1902 gave land to build a new school and a new church in the new center of town, close to the railroad station. A replica of the church stands on this property, at the corner of Wulff and Nursery roads, there today along with the original 1902 school.
Due to failing health, John sold their farm home and moved to Mobile to live with their daughter. At this time, residents of Semmes Held a mass meeting and presented him with a loving cup in appreciation for his 38 years of service to the community.
When I asked Tom Dodd, Jr. about his memories of Mr. Harroun he had the following to say: “Mr. Harroun had a remarkable dog. When Mr. Harroun would head to the church in his car, to ring the bell for Sunday Service, his dog would go thru the field and be sitting on the church steps waiting for him.”
Scrapbook of Memories 1997
Historic 1900's John F. Harroun House
Painting by Jeanette Lyles Byrd
Preserving our History