ELBERTA, ALABAMA – THIS is one of the few remaining farm towns in Alabama’s coastal region. Established in 1904, it is now 111 years old.
While a few families already had scattered homes nearby, it was simply another rural area until six men arrived from the north to build a hotel and name the town after the popular Elberta peach.
That hotel was still standing when Elberta celebrated its centennial in 2004. Each of those who built the hotel purchased 40 acres of land.
On its first anniversary a dozen families had established homes in and around Elberta. The first child, Elberta Hayes, was born there in December of 1904.
The post office opened in February of 1906. That summer a hurricane struck the fledgling city, wiping out many of the new arrivals’ crops.
It was best known for the potatoes grown there for years. Gladiolus also were raised. Oranges where shipped around the country from a large packing shed. That was before the climate changed. According to Mayor Marvin Williams the southern portion of Alabama grew colder and orange production shifted south to Florida.
Today many local farmers raise cattle and grow cotton, soy beans and corn, Williams adds. But when he was a child his father was in the fertilizer business in Foley, just to the south, and potatoes were Elberta’s key crop.