The founders of Bynum, Alabama, a settlement in the southwest corner of CalhounCounty, had no inkling that the raw area that was their home would become so important to our nation’s defense, or to the economy of our county.
Eli Bynum, son of Jesse and Jane Benefield Bynum, was born in 1813 in South Carolina, and came to Blount County, Alabama.Countless descendants of the Blount County Byum’s still live in the Oneonta, Nectar, and Cleveland areas.
Eli Bynum met Miranda Pace at a camp meeting near Childersburg in Talladega County, Alabama.They were married in TalladegaCounty on November 27, 1833, and came to BentonCounty (now Calhoun) shortly after the birth of their first son in 1835. Eli Bynum helped to open the first road in Bynum, and was the first settler there (broke the first land).He built his home at the intersection of the roads that went to Talladega, and the one from Oxford to McFall.Healso built a store, and had a prosperous mercantile business.Nearby settlers traded at “Bynum’s,” and the crossroads became known to all as Bynum.
The oldest son of Eli and Miranda, Bartley Pace Bynum, was born February 2, 1835 in Blount County, Alabama.He married first Felicity Bagley of Coldwater, sister of Joseph and William Bagley, both Confederate soldiers buried at ColdwaterBaptistChurchCemetery.The Bagley’s were also early settlers of Benton/Calhoun County.
Bartley P. Bynum became a Methodist minister.He entered the Confederate Army as a 1st Lt., and then advanced to the position of Regimental Chaplain.He served the Confederate States Army with distinction and valor, giving inspiration to the troops during troubled times.Although exempt from battle, he fought along side the men, and came through the War with an unblemished record.After the War he became minister at several area Methodist Churches, ColdwaterMethodistChurch and Eulaton Methodist church among them.He lived to be a ripe old age, and was the subject of numerous personal interest articles in the local newspaper of the time.
The second son, Tapley Denis Bynum, was born in 1845 in Bynum, and was only 17 years old when he joined the Confederate Army for three years or the duration of the War.He served valiantly, and at the close of the War secured a small tract of land near his father and built a substantial home there.
When Eli Bynum died in 1876, Tapley became the owner of his lands and became a respected man of means.He had over 1,000 acres and produced heavy crops of corn and cotton.He also raised cattle, sheep, and hogs.He was very popular and was known affectionately as “Uncle Tapley” to all the neighborhood.
The land of Rev. B. P. Bynum adjoined Tapley’s.The officials of the Georgia Pacific Railroad approached the brothers, wanting to build a railroad through their lands.They gave right-of-way to the railroad, as evidenced in the Probate Records of Calhoun County.They also gave a generous $500.00 gift to build a station house.Tapley Bynum worked with the railroad to acquire the right-of-way from his neighbors.In gratitude for bringing the railroad to the settlement, his neighbors named the new station “Bynum Station” in his honor, formally naming the settlement once and for all.Tapley Bynum became the first station manager, express agent, and postmaster of Bynum Station.He built and operated a store across from the deport for over twenty five years.
Bartley Bynum sold his land to his brother and bought a square mile tract at Coldwater, which included the Coldwater Spring, today’s source of water for the city of Anniston and surrounding areas.Rev. Bynum sold the spring personally to Samuel Noble, founder of the city of Anniston.The house built by Rev. Bynum near the spring still stands.
Tapley Bynum restored his father’s house and lived in it for a while, and then moved to Oxford, where he lived until his death.He was struck by lightening, and died as he and his wife were returning from a Confederate Veterans Reunion. He returned to the place of his birth one last time, and was buied by his parents.
Elvira Bynum, eldest daughter of Eli and Miranda Pace Bynum, married E. A. Walker, a widower several years her senior.She raised his children as her own, and added several more to the household.E. W. Walker also served in the Confederacy.
Eli Bynum, his wife Miranda, his children Tapley, Elvira, Selina, as well as their spouses and several of their children, are all buried in a small private family cemetery inside the boundaries of the Anniston Army Depot.
The former home to the original Bynum family in CalhounCounty eventually became the County’s largest employer, Anniston Army Depot.During World War II, countless tons of ammunition were shipped to the fighting fronts from all over the world from Bynum, Alabama.AAD is known as the “TankRebuildCenter of the World.”During World War II, and immediately after, the settlement grew and became a company town.Chrylser Corporation was in charge of the depot operations for a time, then the property reverted to the Defense Department.
The DeSoto Manor Apartments were built to house workers and their families, as was the Allen Holmes Subdivision.A school was soon needed, and the current BynumElementary School occupies the site of the first school built in Bynum.
The area known as Bynum, ironically, was excluded from the tightly closed society that formed along with the depot.Workers at the depot kept to themselves, as did their children and families.The people that lived in the surrounding area, but did not work at the depot, were not allowed to trade at the company store, and their children were not allowed to attend the company school.These children were forced to travel either to EastabogaSchool or EulatonSchool to receive an education even though there was a more than adequate school just less than a mile down the road.
Today the Bynum area is growing daily.There are numerous subdivisions going up in the area.The area boasts several churches, stores, car lots, a post office, and a very fine accredited elementary school.
Approximately 4,600 people are employed at Anniston Army Depot, better known as “Bynum.”The primary mission of AAD is to repair, overhaul, and convert the Army’s heavy combat vehicles, with the largest share of the workload centered around the M60 series and the M1 Abraims main battle tanks.Also, missiles and small arms are being repaired there.Some of the nation’s largest defense weaponry, such as the Hellfire, TOW, and Dragon missiles, are stored there, as well as hundreds of thousands of tons of ammunitions for all branches of the Armed Forces.The little railroad settlement started by the Bynum family has grown far beyond the dreams of its founders.
FOOTNOTE from 2009:
This article was written almost 20 years ago.Since then, Bynum has been annexed into the city of Oxford, the school has closed, and a chemical weapons incinerator has been built to destroy all those leaking munitions stored in igloos on the depot.The Anniston Army Depot employees over 10,000 people now, and its role in our nation’s defense is even more vital today than it was in the 1940’s.
DeSoto Manor and Terrace Homes are long since gone.There are very few of the original families still in Bynum.As a matter of fact, there are only 15 families with the surname Bynum listed in the phone book for CalhounCounty.But, there on the hillside in that little fenced in cemetery just inside the gates of the Anniston Army Depot still lies the founders of this community so many of us called home.All of us who have roots and memories of our days in Bynum owe many thanks to these pioneers who settled this raw area back in the 1830’sand 1840’s.