Coordinates: 33.4328853°N, -86.6635972°W
In the pioneer era, proximity to supplies and or a place to sell could mean the difference between the success or failure of a homestead.
Historical maps reflect a "Lee Store" at the coordinates listed above but not much else. It is well known that the Lee family were among the earliest settlers in the area but I am trying to find more information about this particular establishment. It was located in close proximity to a small cemetery named for the Harris family.
Richard Gaines Lee, was born on 19 Oct., 1815 in Tennessee, USA and died on 10 Oct., 1886 at the age of 70 years old. He and his wife, Rachel Overton Lee, are buried at Harris Cemetery just off Hwy 119 near where the old “Lee Store” was located. The burial location of his parents, Needham H. Lee (1770-1821) and Susan Bailey Lee is unknown. The only other Lee family member buried at Harris was a young son named Harry Lee who died about 2-3 years old. The majority of the Lee family are buried over at the Bold Springs Presbyterian Church.
Common accounts of the Lee family indicated that they migrated through Tennessee and into Alabama with the Bailey, Caldwell and Acton families. R.G. Lee’s birth in Tennessee in 1815 fits this narrative with the family moving from Tennessee to Alabama in 1816 before Shelby was created in 1818 and the territory became a state in 1819. In the 1850, 1870 & 1880 census R.G. Lee is listed as a farmer. In 1880 both Hudson (25) and James H (22) are listed as students.
1892 is the earliest map I have located this establishment on and it was simply identified as “Store” so it may have belonged to someone else in the past or was just more clearly identified later as Lee Store as more development came to this part of the county. R.G. Lee had two sons who lived to adulthood, David Needham Lee (1847-1921) and James Hudson Lee (1858-1920) All three are listed as farmers in the census records but I am hoping that they might have done both.
The proximity of R.G. Lee at Harris cemetery is my primary reason for pursuing him as a possible proprietor but the cemetery appears to have been named after Benjamin Franklin Harris (1808-1883) who married David Overton’s daughter Elizabeth Tucker “Overton” Harris.
Lee Store was strategically located at the crossroads of the Ashville to Montevallo Stage Coach Route (Hwy 119) and another series of roads leading from the Red Mountain Gap through what would later be known as the Cahaba Pumping station. This route appears to have forded the Cahaba and continued through Looney’s Gap in New Hope Mountain, intersecting at the coach road and Lee Store before continuing over Double Oak Mountain and through Overton Gap (now accessed through Hugh Daniel Drive) back to the Chelsea to Dunnavant Road (Now Hwy 41/Dunnavant Valley Road)
The Lee Store is mentioned in the Birmingham News on 23 Oct 1908 in relation to the work at Lake Purdy.
The big lake when completed will be a great attraction for the district. The county road from the pumping station on the west fork of the Cahaba River by Parker’s Mill and Lee’s store to the old Ashville and Montevallo Road will be put in fine condition so that automobiles and other vehicles from the city can run out to the lake.
There are still plenty of Lee descendants around that might be able to shed some light on this establishment or perhaps another family line assumed the store and kept the familiar name. Please ask around and feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.