State honors first black-owned water system

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The historic Crosby Water System in Gordonville received a historical maker Saturday with Bill and Mildred Works. Mildred Works is the current secretary of the Crosby Water System.

The historic Crosby Water System in Gordonville received a historical maker Saturday with Bill and Mildred Works. Mildred Works is the current secretary of the Crosby Water System.

A historic marker in the Gordonville area recognizes the first black-owned water system in Alabama.

On the same Saturday people from across the country came to Hayneville to honor the sacrifice of Jonathan Myrick Daniels with a historic marker and pilgrimage in his honor, as well those of the other Alabama martyrs of the civil rights movement, local residents, municipal and county officials gathered at the site of the Crosby Water System to unveil a historic marker their own.

The marker unveiled Saturday, reads, “On land donated by Ed Crosby, a group of African American community leaders had a well dug in January 1955 to provide the people of Gordonville with running water. The well, the first black-owned water system in Alabama, initially had just four spigots.

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“Incorporated as the Cosby Water System in 1963, the company’s initial board members included J.C. Lawson, Lee Jackson Sr., R.C. Maye, Coley Whiting, Russell Stallworth, Sidney Logan Sr., J.T. Haynes, Albert Ross, Nap Nelson and Cornelius Williamson.

“The system was expanded in the same year to pump water from its 3,000 gallon tank t the homes of the original thirty-nine stock holders. As the community grew, its need for water exceeded the capacity of the well as the water rights were sold in 1994.”

According to information provided by Current Crosby Water System Secretary Mildred-Rainge Works, the site was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in June of 2012.

Among those on hand for the marker unveiling were Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams, Orbuty Ozier, former chairperson of the Lowndes County Water Authority, former Lowndes County Commissioner Charlie King Jr., Lee E. Jackson Jr., current president of the Cosby Water System, Lowndes County Commissioners Carnell McAlpine and Brenson Crenshaw.

Ozier said, “The Crosby Water System has been a blessing from day one.” And she thanked Mildred Works for all of her hard work, the committee for holding on and the Mosses Water System for taking them on.

Jackson said the people who founded the Cosby Water System were visionaries ahead of their time and in the face of “opposition” and” racism.” He, “This might look small, but this is not small, this pump here grew this community.” He called for more infrastructures in the community to drive economic engines.