Calcis, Alabama – A Short History

06 Apr




Turner/Justice/Abernathy House

Turner/Justice/Abernathy House

H. R. Justice Store (Circa 1970's)

H. R. Justice Store (Circa 1970's)


Birth of Calcis:

The Community,

its Historical Importance

and Our Family Ties to It.

— by C. A. Abernathy

November 1, 1992

The weather was mild, a whispering breeze slipped in through the open window of the train car, and the gentle clickity-clack of steel wheels drifted up from beneath the floors. Three well-groomed, sharply dressed men perked up as the porter walked by to remind them that their stop was just around the bend.

Hardwood forests surrounded the winding rails, and provided all the raw materials needed to build a home in one of secluded coves which echoed of the bubbling springs that flowed nearby.

The Turners had arrived to their new home.

This small cluster of homes and farms was isolated with a rolling terrain. Crickets, songbirds and tree frogs serenaded the valley when the sun slipped slowly behind the hills. Yes, this was an unassuming and quiet place. To a frontier family with a keen business sense, this centrally located Shelby County land showed much promise for growth — It was rich with limestone deposits (calcium), stout stands of tall oak trees, a pure natural spring and direct transportation routes to the steel industry plants Birmingham, and to several major southern Alabama shipping ports.

As one writer expressed it, Mr. E. A. Turner, Sr. was the first man to step from a train in present-day Calcis, Alabama. One current resident states that Mr. A. G. Embry had established residence prior to the arrival of Mr. Turner, and his family. At the time of their arrival, near 1898, the community had no name.

The Turners had migrated north, via the railroad, from Dadeville, Alabama. The Turners had two sons: E. A. Turner, Jr. and John Morgan Turner. Mr. E. A. Turner (Jr.) and his father coined the name “CALCIS”, because there is an abundant supply of limestone (the name they created was derived from calcium) in the area.

E. A. Turner, Jr. and Kate Justice

E. A. Turner, Jr. and Kate Justice


Quickly they settled down, organized several family-run businesses, and established the first general store. The store sold many useful farm tools, building supplies, livestock feed. The store became a center of local activity. This neighborhood store was called Turner Brothers. It also housed the area’s postoffice and mail was delivered by rail three times a day.

Mr. E. A. Turner, Sr. was the first postmaster of Calcis and the first merchant. The Turners also quarried limestone for the Chewacla Limestone Works. Mr. E. A. Turner, Jr. was the superintendent of the quarry. Later they also opened a livery stable and provided riding services for people. In a small community,there becomes a necessity for a suitable, practical means of laying one’s body to its final rest. Mr. E. A. Turner, Jr. realized the need for this service and established a company which manufactured caskets.


Another family of settlers, followed the frontier call, and came to live in Calcis – The Embry family. They established a cotton gin in Calcis, which processed many grades of locally grown cotton. The Embry family continued to operate this business until the 1940’s.  Decendents still hold the land.

My great-grandfather, Mr. Isaac C. Justice settled in Calcis with his family in 1898. He was the section foreman for the central of Georgia railroad crew. Many houses were built, by the Turner family, in Calcis to accommodate the railroad crew members.

My grandfather, Mr. H. R. Justice was employed at the Calcis quarry during the early 1900’s. In 1964, he wrote to a Birmingham News columnist telling about the cause of the (Tennessee Coal and Iron company) quarry’s closing, as well as other adventures and interesting tales he experienced during the years he worked there. The following account was sent to Robert W. Kinsey, a Birmingham News columnist:

“There were two kilns, covered by a large shed, where the limestone was burned (converted)
into lime. An adjacent shed was used as a storage space for lime and was equipped with a pump
that kept a man busy most of the time.

Just before Christmas, 1914, there came an extremely wet spell and the water pressure got
so great under the concrete floor, of the storage shed, that it burst through and soaked
the lime packed in wooden barrels.

The barrels in the lower half of the shed quickly caught fire, set the shed afire, exposing
the lime in the upper half of the shed. It kept on raining and it was soon afire, destroying
the whole business, lock, stock and barrel — of lime.”

Herbert Russell Justice

Herbert Russell Justice


Mr. E. A. Turner, Jr. was enrolled in the Alabama public schools at the age of three years. By age 15, he had graduated from high school and enrolled at present-day Auburn University. He told my mother, Martha Justice Abernathy, that he taught three woodworking classes while he was enrolled at Auburn.

Mr. Turner was with the inventor of the alternator (Nikola Tesla) whenever he invented the alternator. Mr. Turner was very detailed with his account of the incident. He said that he, the inventor (Tesla) and several friends/associates were walking in the sands at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. One of the men (Tesla) shouted, “I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” fell down on his knees and made a quick stick drawing of his invention in the sand.

The following week, Mr. Turner, Jr. said that Tesla went to his drawing board, and the first alternator became a reality.

Mr. Turner, Jr. had been around several important scientific individuals; while attending Auburn, he had the privilege of helping assemble the first X-ray machine.

Mr. Turner stated that a top European physicist headed the project (which at this time, it was thought that X-Rays would help aid in the treatment of blindness). Ultimately this and other research lead to current medical equipment which we take for granted in numerous facets today — but, while in its early development, at Auburn, did manage to stir up major distrust
in the community.

Mr. Turner, Jr. said that they had to lock themselves in the laboratory because their lives were endangered. It seemed that the residents did not want the X-ray to become a reality. The growing danger brought on by this distrust, hampered the progress and continued efforts of the research; and the misplaced feelings of hate toward the X-Ray device was so intense,
that Mr. Turner said they would literally have to crawl from the laboratory on all-fours to keep from being gunned down when leaving at night.

After attending Auburn, Mr. Turner, Jr. came with his father in 1898, to Calcis. Mr. E. A. Turner, Jr. was the superintendent of the limestone (Tennessee) quarry at Calcis. Not only did he manage the crews of the quarry, but he was a man of many talents:

Mr. Turner, Jr. was also an inventor. According to him he invented the first 26-key teletype machine, and through a fit of anger tore it into a zillion pieces. He felt his invention was being ‘eyed for stealing’ a patent on it. Mr. Turner believed this
because he caught a traveling salesman (drummer), who was lodging with them, looking over the machine very closely. This incident prompted him to destroy his invention.

Mr. Turner said that he worked endlessly trying to put the teletype back together but was unsuccessful. He said that soon after, a patent was given to someone else on a teletype and nullified any further efforts on his part. My mother, Martha Justice Abernathy has “in my possession the wooden cover for his teletype,” which was pulled from a compartment in a wall
of a room that we removed while renovating the house we bought. The Turners had it built when they first settled in Calcis. The house was purchased from the Turners by my great-grandfather, along with the general store.

Mr. Turner also had a claim on inventing the first radio. My mother says she heard my great-uncle, Elder J. C. Justice, tell about standing on his back porch and listening to Mr. Turner broadcast, on his own equipment, from one house to another.
Even with his experiments with radio, once more, he was too late about trying to get his radio equipment patented with the government.


In 1904, Mr. E. A. Turner, Jr. was finally successful in acquiring a patent.
This success came with the development of a device that would cure a headache.
My mother, Martha Abernathy, says “I have had the distinct honor and privilege of actually
handling one of these. It consisted of an adjustable band of metal with wooden fittings to
fit on each temple. He (Mr. Turner) said that within less than five minutes using the device,
the headache would vanish.”

During World War I, there was severe shortage of wheat flour. Mr. Turner invented a way of
making flour from corn. In hopes of finding a market for his flour, he mailed two-pound
samples all over the USA. He did not seek a patent on this; plus he said that the war ended
and there was no need to continue making the corn flour. Mr. Turner bragged about the corn
flour, and said that they “had the best biscuits during the war” as a result of his corn
flour process.


During the construction of the Panama Canal, Mr. Turner was a construction employee there.
He states that some of the machinery broke down; he saw how to repair it and save the USA
government a huge sum of money. Yet, Mr. Turner said that his supervisor refused to allow him
to make the repairs. The foreman’s behavior about the problem angered him so that he resigned
his job with the construction crew, and came back home to Calcis.

During World War II, Mr Turner manufactured wooden rocking horses, ducks, and sheep.
My family has several of these toys, and have built some of our own, based on these patterns
Mr. Turner had given us while my brother and I were very young. My mother said, “I helped him
saw these rocking animals. Today, I possess originals of these and manufacture them as a

Mr. Turner installed carbide gas lights in their house at Calcis. This was another first
because back in those days kerosene lamps were used. This house is ours now. The parts to
these lights and insulators for various experiments with the teletype and other projects were
plentiful when we began remodeling it during the 1970s.

Mr. Turner had modified the gas lights for a different use> He installed a door-bell that
operated by carbide gas. He even named his son after the sound that the door-bell made —
(Let-Ting-O-Let). It is my understanding that the son’s name was later changed.


In 1922, my great-grandfather, Isaac C. Justice, purchased the E. A. Turner, Sr. estate
and business. He became the merchant in Calcis and operated the store (as well as quarry
works) as Calcis Produce Co. until his death. At his passing, my grandfather, H. R.
Justice took over the mercantile business. In 1927, my grandfather became postmaster, of the
office which was also housed in a back room of the Justice store. He remained as postmaster
for 39 years until his retirement in 1966. Presently the store is owned and operated by my
mom’s sister, Mrs. Frances Warren.

During the 1930’s — depression years — my grandfather, H. R. Justice found an open
market for blueberries. It was his goal to help the Calcis people make ends meet, by buying
their harvest of wild blueberries, ship them north by railroad, and sell them in a fruit
market in Chicago.

To help the people and give them a sense of earning money, he had trade tokens coined.
During these hard years, entire families would pick wild blueberries and receive the trade
tokens for their pickings. These berries were brought in by tubs and by buckets. These coins
and berries provided bread and butter for families.


In post-depression years, Calcis could boast of having a lumber business — a sawmill and
a planing mill. This business also provided bread and butter for several families. In the
1960’s, Calcis was the source for the limestone that was used in the construction of Logan
Martin Dam near Vincent, Alabama.

Until this day, Calcis has “the best water ever created.” You may or may have not guessed
why it is some of the purest water in the state — it is lime water! If you are ever
traveling Alabama, looking for a scenic route; then drive south on state highway 25 from
Leeds through Vandiver, Sterrett, and Calcis. – This trip would not be complete without a stop
at the Calcis spring to get a drink of this water.



ALABAMA: A Documentary History to 1900

— by Lucille Griffith

pages: 521-522, 523-564, 580-581,


ALABAMA History for Schools

— Charles G. Summersell

pages: 200-203, 342-343, 349-350, 366,

397, 405-407, 414, 430, 433-436,

479-482, 484-486

A History of Shelby County, Alabama Schools

— written and Compiled by

an In-Service Group of The Shelby

County Teachers Association

(entire text; total pages 99)

Six Great Inventors — by J. G. Crowther

pages: 87-123 (T. A. Edison)

TESLA: Man Out of Time – Margaret Cheney

(entire text)

The Big Change – America Transforms Itself

— by Frederick Lewis Allen

pages: 70, 71, 102, and 103.

U. S. Patent Office: An Information Aid for Inventors

(entire text; total pages — 22)

E. A. Turner, Junior LIFE/TIME LINE

1880 E. A. Turner, Jr.

— born in Tallapoosa County, Alabama

1883 At age three

he enters Alabama Public School.

1895 (Approximately.)

At age 15 he teaches 3 woodworking classes

while attending classes at Auburn.

1904 With Tesla

when he perfected the alternator.


1900s Panama Canal worker, briefly…


1898 He helps E. A. Turner, Sr. and his brother,

John Morgan Turner, found Calcis.

Early 1970s Turners are befriended by a woman,

and convinced by her, con-ned, into giving away all they own in Calcis.

Mid-1970s Mr. Turner dies in a Birmingham nursing home;

alone, broke, and asking for a drink of ‘that good ol’ Calcis water.”


  1. “Alabama History for schools”,
    by Charles G. Summersell. Railway route map; page 202.
  2. Martha Anne Justice Abernathy, interview October 1992.
  3. Notable Men of Alabama,
    page 452 (see appendix).
  4. Hester Kate Clinkscales Justice, interview October 1992.
  5. M. A. J. Abernathy.
  6. Notable Men of Alabama
    (see: Appendix)
  7. H.R. Justice personal scrapbook/articles (see app.)
  8. H. R. Justice scrapbook (see: appendix)
  9. M. A. J. Abernathy, and Byron K. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  10. Tesla: Man Out of Time
    (see appendix).
  11. Famous First Facts
    (see: appendix)
  12. M. A. J. Abernathy, and Byron K. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  13. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  14. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  15. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  16. U.S. Patent Office Publication
    June 28, 1904(see app.)
  17. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  18. C. A. Abernathy, personal memories — October 1992.
  19. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  20. C. A. Abernathy, personal memories — October 1992 (see app.)
  21. See: INVENTION
    (page 326, in appendix).
  22. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  23. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  24. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  25. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  26. M. A. J. Abernathy, interview — October 1992.
  27. Alabama Highway Map
    (see: app.)
  28. C. A. Abernathy, personal memories — October 1992.

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Posted by on April 6, 2009 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Calcis, Alabama – A Short History

  1. Mr WordPress

    April 6, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. Jean Justice Bryant

    December 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    HI, MY name is Mary Jean Justice Bryant my mother and dad were Mary Anner and Gadis Clifford Justice.I love reading about the history of Calcis.Every time we came to vist Aunt Kate and Herbert at the store all of us would hit creek and talking about cold it was cold .We would go to Mr Turner house for a vist loved ever minute of it.So u see why Im writing this .I would like to find out more Justices familys and all ken people the fathers and mother grandmother granddads great grand people and on back into the history of our familys. Like for our family treemaker.genealogy. Im sorry if Idon,t make since but I like would like to know something .Thank You Mary Jean Justice Bryant

    • weavercat

      December 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Mary Jean Justice Bryant:

      I’m am Cathy Ann Abernathy — My mother is Martha Anne Justice (Abernathy), daughter of Herbert R. Justice and Hester kate Clinkscales (Justice).

      I have been doing family tree research for around 16 years (mostly online, but with some personal interviews with family members).

      Have you been using a family tree program?

      If yes, I may be able to send you a file with what data I have gathered.

      If this sounds helpful email me direct at:

      Great to hear from you!

      Your kin,


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