History of Ragland
The present town of Ragland is located in the north central part of Alabama in St. Clair County. More than a half century ago this place was known as Trout Creek. Tradition gives us this story of its name. Long years ago a group of people from Tennessee came and settled near a creek where the Methodist parsonage is now located. As was the custom of olden times, they hunted and fished much of the time. They caught so many trout that the name Trout Creek was given to the place.
Many years later a man named George Ragland came to this settlement and bought most of the land in and around here. The name was then changed to Ragland. Prospectors found rich deposits of coal. George Ragland owned and operated the first coal mine.
The first settlers, after the name of the town had been changed to Ragland , were Jim Reed, Louis Dickinson , R. A. Green, Joe Woods and Dr. Jones. It is said Mrs. R. A. Green was the first woman to settle in this section after the town's name had been changed from Trout Creek to Ragland.
At an early date a church was built. The first congregation was Southern Methodist. The church was located where the Methodist parsonage now stands. Mrs. Polly Box selected the site where the present Methodist church stands. It was built in 1929. Mr. Samuel Reed gave the land for the church and cemetery.
The first Baptist Church in the area was known as Providence. It is located about three miles from the center of Ragland. The land on which the present Baptist Church stands was bought from the Northern Methodist in 1902. There was a small church on this land, but in 1931 the church was tom down and the present one built.
Services for the Church of Christ were held at the home of Mrs. Robinson. Later services were held where the shoe shop is at present. The present Church of Christ building was bought from Mr. E. A. Borders.
The first school was called Oak Grove. Later money was donated and Acker School was built, but soon was destroyed by fire. There was two or three small country schools located nearby. The present high school was built in 1919. The ceremony of dedication was performed by the masons. Vocational work was added, but in 1925 upon request of local trustees, the vocational department was moved. The home economics department burned in 1934. In 1954 an elementary building was constructed. In 1951 football was added to the sports program, the stadium was built and dedicated in 1956. The first principal of the present high school was J. J. Williams.
The first store in Ragland was owned and operated by J. P. Recd. Samuel Reed was the first postmaster and his home was used as the post office. The mail was received from Whitney and Munford on a star route.
Though the coal deposit was exhausted, rich deposits of limestone shale and clay gave rise to other industries. Brick Yard Mountain was formerly owned by Mr. Allen Greene. Ragland Brick Company bought the mountain and opened a plant. The plant was destroyed by fire and a new one built in a new location between the cement plant and the railroad.
The National Cement Company was established in 1908. Its proprietors were W. H. Shaffer and his two sons, Edgar and Manasseh. On July 4, 1910, the first kiln was lighted. The Cement Company built the first hotel known as the Ragland Inn. It was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Issac Ledbetter. In 1910 Mr. Henry Lee built the Lee Hotel. Today it is the Neil Hotel, owned and operated by Mr. C. E. Neil.
The first railroad was the "East and West” and was completed in 1881. In 1902 the Seaboard Railroad Company purchased “East and West" and began operation.
One of the most prominent citizens of Ragland was Leroy F. Box, born April 9, 1837 on his father's farm near the Coosa River. He was the son of Allen and Mary Box. Leroy taught school for several years and served as Superintendent of St. Clair County
Schools until the outbreak of war in 1881. He served as lieutenant of Company A, Tenth Alabama Regiment in the Army. After the war he took up the study of law. Upon receiving his license to practice law he formed partnership in Ashville with Judge John
W. Inzer. Leroy was elected to the legislature in 18??. He also served two terms as State Superintendent of Education. He was elected Circuit Judge of the seventh district. He was serving in the third term as circuit judge at the time of his death.
In 1910 the Bank of Ragland was established. Mr. W. L. Harris helped construct it. The bank continued business until 1932, when it was forced to close the doors and has never reopened.