Ealum name given to community, post office
By Curtis Thomasson
The Andalusia Star-News
The earliest Ealum ancestor to settle in Alabama was Joel (or John Reuben) Ealum. He was born circa 1799 in South Carolina. When he was about 20 years of age, he moved to Butler County. The date of his death is not known, but he was buried in an unmarked grave in the South Butler County Graveyard. His descendants would later move into Covington County.
The name of Joel's wife is unknown, but they had at least three children. These included the following: Solomon, b. 1825, d. 1893, m. 1848 Matilda Caroline Ballard; J. John, b. 1827, d. 1866, m. Harriet E. Gorum or Merchant; and Happy, b. 1830, m. John C. Josey. Solomon and John were listed as registered voters in Beat 12 of this county in 1867.
In 1848, Solomon was married to Matilda Caroline Ballard, daughter of Dr. Jonathan Ballard. The couple reared the following children: Irving, b. 1849; John Ambro, b. 1850, m. 1880 Dona E. Williams; Martha Susannah, b. 1852; Edward, b. 1853; Mary E., b. 1856; Emma "Evey" Caroline, b. 1860; James Robert, b. 1861, d. 1917, m. 1903 Carrie Brooks; and Elizabeth "Eliza" A., b. 1864. One of the daughters was married to George Smith.
In the 1850 Census for Covington County, Solomon's family is listed as Household #94 and his brother, John's family, was next door as Household #95. Their sister, Happy, was 20 years of age and residing with Solomon's family. Solomon was 24 years of age and John, 22. Neither John nor his wife, Harriett, could read or write.
In 1855, Solomon acquired 40 acres of land in the Patsaliga River area. In 1860, he added two 80 acre tracts to this. In 1869, he homesteaded 80 acres in the same area, but it was canceled. In 1883, he did acquire another 40 acres that had been voided by his brother-in-law, John C. Josey. In 1884, Solomon's son, John A., homesteaded 160 acres in the same area.
Solomon became an early leader in the Red Level area. The Ealum Mill name originated from his gristmill located on a creek that came to bear that name. In addition to the gristmill, he operated a sawmill, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, and large farm. The road that led south from Red Level toward Loango to Ealum Mill was named Ealum Mill Road.
After Solomon's death, his son-in-law, George Smith, became the first and only postmaster for a post office in northern Covington County. Named in honor of Solomon, the Ealum Post Office was housed in Smith's store, which was located in a log building built by Solomon in 1885. The post office was established in 1892 but was discontinued when the family moved to Red Level in 1900.
In 1862, Solomon, enlisted in the 60th Regiment (Covington County) 8th Brigade, 11th Division, Alabama Militia. He served as a 3rd. Lieutenant for Beat Number 12 Company. Later in the war, in 1864, Solomon, at age 38 years, joined the regular Confederate Army as a blacksmith in Co. F, 4th Ala. Inf. Reg't. However, his chronic rheumatism caused him to spend much time in the military hospital in Richmond, Va. At the end of the war, he returned home to continue his operations. At his death, he was buried at the Consolation Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery at Oakey Streak.
Solomon's son, James Robert, became well known and respected in the area. James had been well trained and educated by his father. After his father's death, he moved with his mother and younger sister, into Red Level. He became a teacher and a medical doctor. His dedicated medical practice has been acclaimed for service in Covington, Conecuh, and Butler counties.