Friday, February 1, 2019

'Activity' was once a bustling community on the Old Federal Road

Asbury Methodist Church and Cemetery

Last Thursday morning dawned dreary, cold and gray, but as the day wore on, the skies cleared and it warmed up a little. The bright sunshine gave me the itch to get outside and do a little riding around. With that in mind, I hopped in my truck and struck off for a little exploring.

I’d been looking through some old newspapers at the library earlier in the day, and I’d come across the name of an old community way up in northern Conecuh County. The name of the old community was “Activity,” and historical records told me that it was an early settlement founded around 1805 on the Federal Road.

I wondered if there were any old buildings, perhaps an old store or post office, left in that area, so I eased up that way with my camera to find out.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Activity community, it was located on what is now the Asbury Church Road, an off-shoot of Conecuh County Road 79, that eventually runs along the Conecuh-Monroe County line.

The best I could tell from old maps, “downtown” Activity was located near where the East Sepulga River passes beneath County Road 29. I passed through that area slowly and as far as I could tell, there were no visible remnants of the old settlement to be seen. I did see a handful of modern homes in this sparsely populated part of the county along with a scattering of cows in the pastures along the road.

On my way back to Evergreen, I took a few minutes to stop at the Asbury Methodist Church, which sits not far from Activity at the intersection of County Road 106 and County Road 79. Founded in the early 1800s, this is one of the oldest churches around and is still lovingly maintained by its members.
I parked by the highway and snapped a few pictures of the church before making my way into the cemetery. Just inside the gate, I noticed a somewhat unusual stone sign, and I closed the distance to see what it had to say. I presumed it was some type of informational sign, describing some aspect of the cemetery.

Instead, this stone sign bore the words of some “Poet Unknown” – “Linger awhile, and walk with me into the shadowy mist that was yesterday. Stroll across the faded paces of history and from our hardships learn the ways of a better life. Pass me not, for I am the spirit of your ancestors, in your veins flow my blood and the blood of my fathers. Linger awhile, if only for a moment and through your thoughts, I will know that I am remembered.”

Standing there alone, reading those words, a chill ran down my back. This marker is just a stone’s throw from the Old Federal Road, and I tried to imagine all of the early travelers who passed this way more than 200 years before. What stories could they tell? What would they think about our world today?

In the end, after a brief walk around the cemetery, I got back in the truck and returned to the office with many questions about the old Activity community. If anyone in the reading audience has any information they’d like to share about this old settlement, please let me hear from you. I know that I’m curious about Activity’s origins and history, and I’m sure that other readers will be as well.

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