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Clay Hill Farms hosts TREASURE Forest meeting

John and Carol Dorrill hosted the quarterly meeting of the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association at Clay Hill Farms near Banks Thursday.

Carol Dorrill, a member of the state TREASURE Forest board, said the morning business meeting was very informative.

"We took care of the business at hand, such as the audit and treasurer's report and old and new business," she said. "Our quarterly meetings are held for that purpose and also as a time of fellowship."

The Dorrills also took advantage of the opportunity to unveil a door that was designed and painted by three member of the Colley Senior Complex in Troy. Allene Snider, Mert Thompson and Ellen Roling donated the door to the Senior Complex Doors of Troy fundraising campaign. The door was purchased by the Dorrills because of its naturalistic theme and a portion of the purchase will be donated to the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association.

After a barbecue lunch prepared by Wayne Craft and company, a group of about 70, including members of the TREASURE Forest Association and guests, boarded two buses for a tour of the Dorrill farms.

John Dorrill's family homesteaded in the Clay Hill community about 150 years ago, qualifying that portion of the farm for Heritage and Century Farm status.

In years past much of the original farm was planted in cotton and peanuts. Today, Dorrill said the Dorrill Farms are timberland.

The tour took participants through the Clay Hill and Shiloh communities where the Dorrills own additional property.

"I'm interested in land and Carol is interested in houses," Dorrill said, laughing. "We both love trees and Carol won't let me cut hardwoods."

Dorrill pointed out an area of woodlands that he called the Golden Forest.

"It's filled with hickory trees and it the fall, the colors are spectacular," he said.

The Dorrills lease much of their land for hunting that he called hunting paradise.

The Dorrills are in the process of building a hunting lodge on one section of woodlands and plan to also use it as a family getaway.

One piece of property in which Dorrill seemed to take special pride was a section near Banks that he has "been told" was the first farm homestead in the county.

"I have been told it was homesteaded by the Fitzpatrick family," Dorrill said. "One member of the family is said to have been the first probate judge in the area and another a governor of the state. At least, that's what I've been told."

Dorrill gave the tour group a brief sketch of the Clay Hill community and it's connection to Brundidge.

G.C. Collier wanted to open a store - a tavern more or less - at Clay Hill but wasn't allowed to do so. He moved on down the road to and set up shop at what is now Brundidge.

"Collier's Store was later named Brundidge when a visiting member of the Masonic Lodge, named Brundidge, so impressed the people there that they named their town for him," Dorrill said. "Later, for some reason, the name was changed to Smith there was such and uproar that it was changed back to Brundidge."

Dorrill laughingly traced his "walk" to school along the dirt roads of rural Pike County. But he made no attempt to hide his pride in the community he calls home and openly admitted that "we love this place."