Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, that’s what — or who, rather. Carow is the granddaughter of Annie Tyler, who married the 26th president in 1886.
Annie Tyler, of course, is the namesake of the city, which turns 130 this year. The Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library is taking note and honoring The Model City’s birthday with a special exhibit. Opening today in the Alabama Room, the exhibit is filled with photos and special memorabilia that show visitors just how and why Anniston became known as the Model City.
That’s because it was planned that way, says Dianne Betts, who works in the library’s Alabama Room and is one of several people involved in the exhibit.
“Anniston was a company town,” she says, referencing the city’s beginnings after Daniel Noble and Samuel Tyler became partners in the Woodstock Iron Company, created on land purchased by Noble, an industry man from England.
They created the town and named it Woodstock, but after it was discovered that name was already taken, the name was changed to “Annie’s Town” after Annie Tyler, Samuel’s daughter-in-law. The town was incorporated as Anniston 10 years later, and opened to the public in 1883.
Not wanting Annie’s Town to resemble the slums of the North, special care was taken in planning the city’s look, Betts explained.
“They decided where the streets would be laid out, the water supply, the sewer lines, the churches, the foundries,” she said. “They did this even before they even sold any land.”
Throughout the exhibit, visitors will notice tributes to Anniston’s “firsts” — including the first mayor, public and private schools, and fire department — along with several pictorial maps going back to the 1800s. Check out memorabilia from the city’s 75th Diamond Jubilee in 1958 and the Centennial in 1983, as well as the city’s flag, which many must admit they didn’t know existed. There are also photos of prominent Anniston namesakes including the Nobles, Tylers and Col. William Zinn, who created the city’s first park system — hence, Zinn Park — and helped create the city’s first Catholic church.
With their entrepreneurial talent, the Tylers and the Nobles were able to start more businesses and create a boom for the city, which swelled to 9,000 residents less than 10 years after going public. The next century would bring in more history-making events, news that would garner nationwide attention, and prominent residents, including Gov. Thomas Kilby (as in Kilby Terrace) and Col. Farley Berman (as in the Berman Museum) as well as Fort McClellan, a military hub that would serve the world.
A Model City, indeed.
IF YOU GO...
WHAT: 130th Anniversary Historic Exhibit Opening Reception
WHEN: Today, 1:30-4:30 p.m. Exhibit will remain up through Saturday.
WHERE: Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library, 108 East 10th St.