Pine Apple, Alabama - History


Like many communities throughout the South, Pine Apple has experienced some racial disturbances. One such disturbance is described by historian Douglas A. Blackmon.

According to Blackmon, one of the more interesting historical sites in Pine Apple is the cemetery of the Friendship Baptist Church. The site includes the graves of residents born before Alabama became a state and the grave of William Joseph Melton (1846-1900). Although the wealth of the Melton family was attributed to the turn-of-the-century cotton boom, the family did not have access to the free labor of slaves to harvest crops. Instead, Blackmon relates, some of the Meltons used fear and intimidation to compel blacks to work for them and the practices led to suggestions of involuntary servitude and peonage.

Blackmon says that, four years after William Joseph Melton's death, on the eve of his daughter Leila’s wedding, a cousin (Evander “Pig” Melton) was shot and wounded after participating in a craps game with a group of black men. Arthur Stuart, a black man who happened to be nearby, but who was probably innocent, was apprehended. Townspeople, with the complicity of the town constable, broke into the local jail where Stuart was being held, beat Stuart and started a fire. The fire engulfed Stuart's cell, the jail, the bank and other surrounding buildings, killing Stuart and burning parts of the town to the ground. Three weeks later, Melton died from his gunshot wounds.

No one was ever charged with Arthur Stuart’s death and no Meltons were ever prosecuted for mistreatment of local blacks.

One year after the murder of Arthur Stuart, Pine Apple was also the site of the lynching of the brothers Edward and William Plowly who were accused of murdering a white man.

Remarkably, in spite of this history, Pine Apple is the hometown of Prince Arnold, who in 1978 became the first black sheriff of Wilcox County.

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