It’s a wonderful life in Shady Grove
Published 7:19 pm Friday, September 1, 2023
For Peavy Trotter, the Trotter House on County Road 1 in the Shady Grove Community is more than boards and bricks. It’s his home, his heritage and his heart.
On December 9, 2021, the Trotter House, Circa 1892 was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage by the Alabama Historical Commission, which recognizes Alabama’s historic places and encourages preservation.
The bronze plaque is rather small, nothing pretentious.
That’s the way Peavy Trotter wanted it.
“This listing of the Trotter House on the Alabama Register is important to me and to my family,” he said. “The house was built in 1892 by my grandfather Samuel Eugene Trotter and has been in our family for more than 100 years. To me, it is important in that it continue to be in the family and to be important to the family, now and in the coming years.”
The plaque on the porch is more than recognition of the historical significance of the house. It’s heritage; it’s family … “and it’s home.”
For Peavy Trotter, the Trotter house is where he wants to be.
“I’m at home here,” he said. “My hope and my desire are for the Trotter House to continue to be ‘home’ to my family, to remain true to our heritage and to the Shady Grove community.”
And, it’s not just the family home that is important to Trotter. It’s the land’s farmland history.
A plaque on the old Trotter farm “egg house” recognizes and honors the Trotter farm as an Alabama Century and Heritage Farm by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. The program honors family farms that have been in operation more than 100 years and have played a significant role in Alabama’s history.
Trotter explained that the farm once had layer hens and the “egg house” was the place where the eggs were kept.
The Trotter farm was a typical farm of its times with a smokehouse, chicken house, hay barn and a syrup mill “down around where the trees are.”
“You can still see a path where the mules walked around to grind the cane for the syrup,” Trotter said. “The farm grew corn, cotton and peanuts that were stacked by hand. “
The farm was a full working farm with yard chickens, hogs, a milk cow and a vegetable garden.
Trotter said he has always been proud of his heritage. Even when he finished college and worked in Columbus, Georgia and, later, Phenix City, he knew, one day, he would come back home to Shady Grove.
“It was important to me that the farm and the house stay in the family,” he said. “I came home because it’s home and to maintain the home place for future Trotter generations.”
Trotter’s love of community, his dedication to family history and the preservation of the Trotter family farm land and the old home place were the encouragement he needed to dedicate the time and efforts necessary for application for listing on the Alabama Historical Commission’s Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
“I realized that it would take a lot of time and effort to complete the application but, for me and for our family, it would be worth it all if the application was approved,” Trotter said. “And, it was worth all that and more.”
Just how many hours of research he dedicated to the application process, Trotter has “no idea.”
But, he acquainted and reacquainted himself with generations of family members and, in memory, stacked peanuts, tasted the sweet juice from the cane mill and savored the cured meat from the smokehouse.
“It was like going back in time,” Trotter said. “But, was it worth all the time and all effort required by the application process?”
Without hesitation, Trotter said, yes, and he would do it all over again if need be.
For Peavy Trotter, the plaques of historical designation are the result of a journey back in time and an investment in the future of the Trotter family.
It’s a journey he would encourage others, whose families have investments in the landmarks and heritage of Pike County and Alabama, to take. It could be the journey of a lifetime.