Shelby Sidney Fletcher

 Attorney and So Much More

Nickname:Syd, Sydney, Shelby S., S
Born:March 28, 1872, Huntsville, Alabama
Died:June 27, 1936, Madison County, Alabama
Buried:Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, Alabama
Son of:Captain Algernon Sidney Fletcher (1833)
Brother of:Charles Fletcher
Nephew of:Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher (1830)
Grandson of:James Nicholas Fletcher
Brother of:Mary Louise Fletcher


•  On Nov. 23, 1917 a group of nineteen men gathered at the Hotel Twickenham for the first meeting of what was to become Huntsville's Rotary Club. "Membership would be limited to one man from each field of business or professional service in town. In other words, one lawyer, one doctor, one farmer, one grocer, one tailor, and so on. Club rosters would be small and tight-knit, of course, but hopefully only the creme-de-la-creme would be involved." The goal was to bring together the town's leading male citizens to solve urban and suburban problems. Shelby Fletcher attended this first meeting of nineteen. - Easterling

•  On April 17, 1922, Shelby was one of four Rotarians appointed "to a committee to investigate the possibility of selling Madison County Road Bonds and to work with the County Board of Revenue.". "The very next week, State Highway Engineer W.S. Keller of Montgomery and Highway Commission members Thomas Orr of Albertville and Marvin Pierce of Marion were special guests on 'Good Roads Night.' On that red letter evening, Good Roads Chairman Boswell reported that with the help of Kiwanis and Civitan clubs, $100,000 in Madison County Road Bonds had been sold in just one week. Commissioner Keller was impressed, and thought aloud about how road building plans in Madison County and surrounding areas might need to be speeded up. " - Easterling

•  Alabama State Senator from Madison County, 1931-1939. - Record, Vol. 1

•  Member of the Alabama House of Representatives from Madison County 1911-1915, 1919-1923. - Record, Vol. 1

•  "State Armory Commission, 1935; State Public Welfare Board, 1937; and Trustee, Alabama Girls Training Institute and College, 1919." - Record, Vol. 1

•  Huntsville City Clerk 1899-1901 - Record Vol. 2

•  S. S. Fletcher & Company (Cotton) located at 3 1/2 West Side Square, not on first floor. - Record Vol. 2

•  "The Huntsville Daily Times was meanwhile (about 1931) changing hands. Henry P. Johnston bought the bankrupt daily from S. S. Fletcher, who had taken the paper over as court receiver and General Manager, succeeding J. Emory Pierce. The paper name was changed to The Huntsville Times. Reese Amis became editor." - Record Vol. 2

•  In 1968, the county voted to sell the old Jail (back of the new one), on Clinton Street, to S. S. Fletcher for $55,000. - Record Vol. 2

•  State Democratic Committee, 1913 and 1911. - Record Vol. 2

•  Clubs in the Huntsville pushed for "the city's first tourist camp in 1921 on land owned by S. S. Fletcher, west of Madison Street. Civitan, Acme, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs aided in establishing the camp. Primarily, the camp was to attract visitors to the city with the hope they would remain." - Record Vol. 2

•  Fletcher was involved in many aspect of Huntsville life. He was mentioned in Record's Vol. 2 in the following ways.
     Page 66 - Land purchased from Hundley, Holding and Fletcher for $10,000 to build the $100,000 federal building in 1887 (Eustis, Randolph, Greene Streets)
     Page 104 - In 1900, Lincoln Mill was started by Milton Humes with Fletcher and Company doing the building.
     Page 104 - Reference made to the Hundley and Fletcher block, East Side of Square.
     Page 179 - In 1921 the city's first tourist camp was established on land owned by SS Fletcher, "west of Madison Street. Civitan, Acme, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs aided in establishing the camp. Primarily, the camp was to attract visitors to the city with the hope they would remain."
     Page 201 - In 1928, Montgomery Ward officials said they were going to locate in Huntsville in the Fletcher building on the north side of the square. They lived up to their promise, opening in 1929, remaining at that location until August 1959, when they moved to Parkway City on South Memorial Parkway.
     Page 202 - In 1968, "the county voted to sell the old Jail (back of the new one), on Clinton Street, to S. S. Fletcher for $55,000."
     Page 214 - In 1931, "The Huntsville Daily Times was meanwhile changing hands. Henry P. Johnston bought the bankrupt daily from S. S. Fletcher, who had taken the paper over as court receiver and General Manager, succeeding J. Emory Pierce. The paper name was changed to The Huntsville Times. Reese Amis became editor."
     Page 370 - Huntsville City Clerk 1899-1901
     Page 548 - The Public Square in 1922, (Others located on West Side of Square, not on first floor), No. 3 ?, S.S. Fletcher Company, Cotton.
     Page 570 - Chart covering the local newspapers and he is listed with The Huntsville (1931) in the editor column.
Page 672 - State Democratic Committee, 1913 and 1911. - Record Vol. 2

•  Shelby was a member of the Young Men's Shakespearean Society. "They had club rooms in the White Building on the Square. They met for dinner every two weeks to read one of the Bard of Avon's plays. They also memorized whole parts, vying with each other at the tryouts. Such men... whetted their imaginations to give a virile impersonation of each character. They tested each other's memory by quoting half a line and calling on one of the group to complete it. They had to cite both act and scene with each of these broken lines. They were fond of tripping a fellow by quoting a phrase and assigning it to a wrong play. They responded to a salutation with a quotation. They imitated the character of their favorite Shakespearian hero." - Chapman

•  He was a member of the Huntsville Gun Club. This source describes annual events in beautiful detail:

     "The Huntsville Gun Club was an active organization throughout the decade. One of the big social events of 1891 was a barbecue and special shoot that this club gave on Monte Sano in August. The Monte Sano Railway ran special trains leaving the depot at nine and three. Hundreds of people took advantage of the opportunity to spend a cool August day on Monte Sano. All of the stables were emptied of vehicles and drivers for the day. Private carriage owners filled their carriages with friends. Many riders rode across the country to be on hand for the event.
     Promptly at nine-thirty the contestants took their stands before the traps. Usually only clay pigeons were shot. Today five-hundred live pigeons and a thousand swallows were to pit their speed against a gunman's skill. Mr. Todd Harrison, Winston F. Garth, Joe Van Valkenburg, John H. Sheffey, Shelby Pleasants, Thomas L. Hay, Shelby Fletcher, Robert L. Hay, Frank Mastin, George Darwin and MiltonHumes were among those prepared to break former records. Each marksman was given one hundred shot in succession. Each was determined to bring down a bird as fast as he could discharge a shell and bring the rifle to position again.
     The signal sounded. The trap was sprung. Off flew the first bird. Tense excitement silenced the audience. They watched the winged target almost hoping that he would be swifter than the shell. He was not. Faster and faster the shots rang out. With each shot a bird fell until it seemed as if the first marksman would set a record of one hundred out of a hundred. On the sixtieth shot he missed. The crowd gasped. Sixty-two, missed; seventieth, missed until he was ten short of a perfect score. Round after round they shot, the crowd watching in silence or cheering mightily.
     Barbecue was served at twelve o'clock. Long trenches of red hot coals glowed beneath whole sheep, pigs and calves that were stretched on gridirons over them. Colored cooks turned and basted them with butter, bacon juice, red pepper, salt and garlic. At other points great flames licked the black sides of iron washpots which were now filled with boiling stew or soup. Five-gallon coffee pots sent out a steam of enticing aroma. Tubs of pickles, Irish potato salad, slaw, and relish tempted the hungry. Watermelons and ice cream freezers , and cakes and candies stood ready to be served.
     The jolly crowds sat ingroups on cushions taken from vehicles, on stumps and rocks. After eating, many of them walked to Cold Springs, or to Ella's Rock. Tallyhoes and buggies carried many young people and their chaperones on the long sandy road to Mr. James O'Shaughnessy's lily pond, over to the point at the Rison home or down to Lover 's Leap. Gay and happy crowds walked to Natural Well where they tried their skill at dropping rocks down its 'bottomless' depths. Rumour stated that things dropped into it came out at the Tennessee River . As usual 'the lady' gave misinformation. Marked articles dropped into it came out severally, at the Huntsville Big Spring, at the Tennessee River , and at Byrd Spring. But it was interesting to hear the sound of the big rocks fall to nothingness. Children wanted to descend immediately. They were told to keep away from the edge. To divert them, they were promised a trip through Fat Man's Misery, a crevice on the western side o f the mountain with natural steps between its limestone walls, or an exploring trip through the cave at Cold Spring.
     Most of them lingered until the katydids and whip-poor-wills began their vespers to the deepening shadows. Over the wide valley the fading light cast fairy veil through which the lights from the gas street lights of Huntsville shone one by one, stillness, the uncertain light of twilight through the trees, then in the west the evening star. The day was done.
     As the wagonettes, tallyhoes, surreys, and buggies dropped off the mountain into Devil' s Glenn, night prowlers scurried from bush and fern bank across the white macadamized pike. Rabbits and red fox, owls and bats, racoons and opossums accelerated their natural pace to avoid these noisy travelers. The carriage lanterns cast wierd shadows in streaks and wavering paths across the cedars. Fire flies lighted their uncertain courses through the gloom around the double S's through the dense flat above the toll gate, down by Maple Hill Cemetery into town.
     Again on September 30, 1891 the Gun Club shot live birds. As the same number of pigeons and swallows are recorded it must have been the standard number with them.
     The club's record members at the end of the century were Messrs. John H. Wallace and Frank Puryear. At that time scores were totaled at the end of each year. Winners were pitted against each other at a meet at the close of the season. The regular meet on Friday afternoons drew large crowds. Betting ran high. Mr. O'Hara was another crack shot who was very popular with the fans. Week after week in 1899, Mr. Wallace and Mr. Puryear shot ninetynine out of a hundred clay pigeons. At the tournament Mr. Puryear won by one bird. His award was a trophy and a Springfield rifle." - Chapman

•  Shelby was named as a man who had "labored to bring the 'Y' to its present successful status. - Ford

•  S. S. was a member of the Huntsville Elks Lodge. - Elks

•  "Shelby Fletcher took an interest in a crippled mill village kid and gave him an office job; when he died in 1936, Fletcher left the young man $5,000 . With that legacy Milton Cummings was able to parlay a fortune. He continued the private sort of philanthropy Fletcher had introduced him to. Other prominent citizens supported their own private philanthropies." "Industrialist Milton Cummings, Sparkman's staunch supporter, also exemplified in his citizenship role the quality of human being that set Huntsville above the ordinary town." - Stephens

•  "My father, Lawrence Bernstein Goldsmith, Jr., born in 1909, was educated at Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee and at the University of Alabama. He worked in the cotton business for Mr. Shelby Fletcher, a cotton 'shipper', for a number of years and in 1936 became affiliated with 'I. Schiffman and Co. Inc.'" - Goldsmith

•  In an article about the early Gasoline Stations in Huntsville, Linda Bayer (Allen) describes the architecture of a station owned by Shelby S. Fletcher built in 1927 for lease to the Pan American Oil Company located at the northwest corner of Madison and Williams Streets. - Bayer

•  J. Emory Pierce had owned the Times Newspaper in Huntsville and had financial problems. "The severity of the Great Depression coupled with Pierce's shaky finances caused him to lose everything. In early June 1931 the Times went into receivership and was operated by Shelby Fletcher. In October the newspaper, printing properties, and a Dodge sedan were auctioned for $44,350. Pierce's son William dropped out of the bidding at $35,000. Trustee Charles F. Lovell sold the building to I. B. Tigrett, T. H. Temple and Littell J. Rust. The deed, a lengthy and complicated document, concerned the default on First Mortgage Gold Bonds in the aggregate amount of $ 200,000." (We have included notes like this to demonstrate Shelby's varied involvements.) - Ryan

•  About the First National Bank of Huntsville: "In 1910 Robert E. Spragins and Shelby S. Fletcher bought 51 per cent of the stock of the First National Bank. The First National Bank was a successor to the Huntsville branch of the state-owned Alabama State Bank, and is the first bank of Huntsville. Dr. Charles Patton apparently owned sufficient stock to control the bank. At least his heirs, Patton, Echols, and Stevens, did own a controlling interest after his death. The first the writer knew of the bank the Board of Directors was made up of: Major Echols, Major Stevens, Oliver Beirne Patton, Colonel William Willis Garth and A. S. Fletcher (father of Shelby S. Fletcher). Major Stevens, at that time, was President, Major Echols, Vice-President and Oliver Beirne Patton, cashier. I worked one summer (about 1905) as collector and keeper of the check register at the bank. At that time Major Echols was President. The heirs of Major Stevens and enough Patton heirs sold their stock to lose the Patton, Echols, and Stevens control. Thereafter, Major Echols sold the stock of his wife, but held ten shares of stock that was in his name. Robert E. Spragins and Shelby S. Fletcher bought the controlling interest from the successor to Patton, Echols and Stevens after the death of Major Echols. After securing control of the bank Messrs. Fletcher and Spragins sold and distributed half of their holdings to leading business men of the county whose duty and obligation was to bring new and desirable customers to the bank and to serve on the board of directors. Robert E. Spragins was elected President of the bank in about 1910 and held that office the rest of his life" - Spragins

•  About the stocks for Lincoln Mills: "The preliminary arrangements for the organization of the Lincoln Mills of Alabama before its incorporation and the construction of the mill in Huntsville included agreements under which William L. Barrell and Company of Boston would own all the common stock; that Robert E. Spragins and Shelby S. Fletcher would each purchase two hundred thousand dollars worth of preferred stock; that Shelby S. Fletcher would serve as a member of the Board of Directors; and that Robert E. Spragins would serve as attorney for the corporation. The state law of Alabama required that at least one member of the Board be a resident of Alabama. Shelby S. Fletcher held his Lincoln Mill stock and served on the Board for the remainder of his life." - Spragins

•  About the Decatur Land Company: "In about 1919 the partnership Beard, Fletcher and Spragins was formed. Mr. Beard was President and Manager and largest stockholder in the Decatur Ice and Coal Company, (Decatur's first ice factory). Mr. Shelby S. Fletcher was a cotton broker and later succeeded Robert E. Spragins as State Senator from Madison County. Beard, Fletcher and Spragins bought the assets of the Decatur Land Company which included all vacant lots in Decatur, acreage adjoining Decatur, and farm land in Morgan County. The plan was good and great success appeared to be in store for the firm. An effort was being made to sell land fast enough to meet deferred payments on the purchase price. It later appeared that a large part of the assets of the firm had disappeared. The business was reorganized, but recuperation was a long, slow process." - Spragins

•  Son of Algernon Sidney and Mattie (Holding) Fletcher - Owen

•  "He was educated in the Shepard school at Huntsville, and graduated A. B. 1892, from the University of Alabama. In 1893 he received the degree of LL. B. Although admitted to the bar he has never practiced law." - Owen

•  He was a planter and a cotton merchant. - Owen

•  He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon college fraternity. - Owen

•  He was unmarried - Owen

•  "Shelby S. Fletcher lived with his parents at their home on Randolph Avenue during 1900. His father, A. S. Fletcher, was born April 1833, in Virginia. He was a lawyer. Shelby's mother died and his father remarried in 1896. In 1900, his stepmother was forty-six years old. Her son from a previous marriage lived in the home. His name was R. H. Lowe.
     Children that lived in the home were:
W. H. Fletcher, (a banker) born in March 1868
Charles, (a bookkeeper) born in December 1870
Martha L., born April 1879.
     By 1911, Shelby S. was a cotton buyer working for Harris Cortner & Company. He lived at 121 Williams. The business was located at 11 1/2 Bank Row. In the 1920's Shelby Fletcher became President of the Margaret (Cotton) Mill, but was also an agent of Harris Cortner & Company." - Simpson

•  "Once, Dr. Richard M. Fletcher's son Syd was filling in for the cotton ginner and his helper, who were ill. When the gin became clogged, Syd's investigation of the problem resulted in his shirt sleeve getting caught in the roller, and his hand and arm were drawn into the machinery. Syd's forefinger was cut severely between two joints, the finger hanging by the skin and his arm terribly lacerated. This was on 'Nubbins Ridge,' and there were no telephones at that time. Dr. Fletcher dispatched telegrams to Dr. Dement and Dr. Baldridge, who arrived as soon as possible. Dr. Dement took one look at the mangled finger and declared, 'We might as well amputate the finger.' Syd's immediate reply was, 'No, doctor, I don't want to lose that finger, sew it together.' Dr. Dement, fearful that the blood would not circulate, that healing would not take place and that Syd's suffering would be prolonged, attempted to discourage the young man. Syd was insistent and said, 'Well, it's my finger, I'll do the suffering, so please sew it together.' It was months before it healed properly, but Syd died with a good finger that he used for years, thanks to the fine surgery and medical skill of Dr. Dement." - Goldsmith & Fulton

•  Most sources say he was the grandson of "James N. Fletcher". But this source says: "Son of James N. and Matilda G. (Cheatham) Fletcher, the former a native of Brunswick County, Va., who served several times in the Virginia legislature, and moved with his family to Alabama in 1833." - Recorder

•  The Madison Recorder, March 21, 2011, printed a story by Dr. Fletcher's daughter, Octavia, told about at murder in Madison and the role the Fletcher family played in managing the mob. - Recorder

Related Links:

• - Page owned by LindaHSmith1951 and can be viewed only with an paid subscription. (Originally found at

•  Bayer - Article titled "Roadside Architecture: The Gasoline Station" by Linda Bayer (Allen) in Historic Huntsville Quarterly, Vol. IX, #1-2, Fall-Winter, 1982-83, Historic Huntsville Foundation, page 10

•  Chapman - Quote from The Huntsville Weekly Democrat, May 10, 1894 in the Changing Huntsville 1890-1899, by Elizabeth Humes Chapman, 1989 (originally written in 1932), pages 123 & 131.

•  Easterling - 75 Years of Service: A History of The Huntsville Rotary Club, by Bill Easterling, 1992, page 13.

•  Elks - Great Elks in Madison County?? You Better Believe It!! A History of Madison County, Alabama, Elkdom, by James Record, 1972, page 72.

•  Find A Grave - Page created by TravelinAnn with nice photos of the tombstones.

•  Ford - Article titled "Central Young Men's Christian Association" by Mrs. Earle R. Ford, in Commemorative Album, Celebrating our City's Sesquicentennial of Progress, Huntsville, Alabama, by James E. Taylor, General Chairman, 1955, page 107.

•  Goldsmith - "5 Generations of Life: 'My Family and the Huntsville, Alabama Jewish Community' 1852-1982" by Margaret Anne Goldsmith Hanaw in Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 12, #3 & #4, Jul-82, Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, page 27.

•  Goldsmith & Fulton - Medicine Bags and Bumpy Roads: A Heritage of Healing in Madison County, Town and Country, by Jewell S. Goldsmith and Helen D. Fulton, 1985, pages 140-141.

•  Owen - History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3 By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, 1921, page 588.

•  Rankin File - John P. Rankin has, over the years, collected information about families living in Madison County, AL. He has made these files available here at Huntsville History Collection. The files include Rankin's notes, photos, digital copies of documents, and clippings from newspapers and periodicals. He has a Fletcher file and some of it might apply to Shelby Sidney Fletcher

•  Record Vol. 2 - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume II by James Record, 1978, pages 179, 202, 214, 370, 548, 570, 672.

•  Record, Vol. 1 - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume I, by James Record, 1970, pages 262, 269. 341.

•  Recorder - The Madison Recorder, March 21, 2011 A niece, Octavia, tells of "Syd" quieting a mod (1884) ready to lynch a suspected murder in Madison.

•  Ryan - Article titled: "J. Emory Pierce: The Man for the 'Times'" by Patricia H. Ryan in Historic Huntsville Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, #3-4, Fall-Winter, 2005, Historic Huntsville Foundation, page 25.

•  Simpson - The Sins of Madison County, by Fred B. Simpson with Mary N. Daniel & Gay C. Campbell, 2000, page 305.

•  Spragins - A Brief History and Brief Genealogy of The Andrew Beirne, William Patton, William Echols, V, and Robert E. Spragins Lines, by William Echols Spragins, Et Al, 1956, page 49.

•  Stephens - Historic Huntsville: A City of New Beginnings, by Elise Hopkins Stephens, 2002, pages 105, 128.

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Bayer
•  Captain Algernon Sidney Fletcher (1833)
•  Chapman
•  Charles Fletcher
•  Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher (1830)
•  Ford
•  Goldsmith
•  James Nicholas Fletcher
•  Mary Louise Fletcher
•  Owen
•  Record Vol. 2
•  Record, Vol. 1
•  Ryan