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Lanier family members, others presented plaque

LANETT — On Monday, the Lanett City Council honored a local family and an individual for notable contributions.

LaFayette Lanier IV and his brother, Frank Lanier, received plaques noting the Lanier family’s role in the city’s history. They are great grandsons of LaFayette Lanier, founder of West Point Manufacturing Company and Lanett Mill.

Also honored was Mack Lett, who was a local high school principal during the racial integration period of the early 1970s.

Council Member Tony Malone, a local history buff, read a historical account of LaFayette Lanier’s role in the founding of Lanett.

“February 1, 2018 marked the 123rd anniversary of the founding of Lanett, Alabama,” he said. “Before that, the town had been known as Bluffton.

The first unit of Lanett Mill was built between 1892 and 1894. It went into production in the summer of 1894 and soon after construction began on a second four-story unit that would go into production in 1900.

During the mill construction of the 1890s, a Lanett mill village went up nearby and families started moving in to work in the mill. Residents of nearby Bluffton thought it would be a good idea to change the name of the town to Lanett to capitalize off the growing popularity of the mill as a destination.

The name change, said Malone, was done by petition.

“A deposition was made by the principal property owners,” he said. “Among them were LaFayette Lanier, D.C. Adams, R.M. Croft, I.M. Scott, H.P. Harrington, Mr. Wilkinson, Prince Ferrell, Robert Boyd, Lee Heyman, the G.C. Johnson family, the Cherry family and others. They took a leap of faith to go with a new name.”

“In 1895, the city had no lights, no water, no natural gas,” Malone added, “but with the help of the Lanett Cotton Mills and the Lanier family, Lanett thrived and became a fast-growing city. I am thankful for what the Lanier family has meant to our town and the local area. The City of Lanett would not be here without the Lanett Cotton Mills and the Lanier family.”

LaFayette Lanier IV thanked the city on behalf of the family.

“We are very honored,” he said. “This means a lot to us.”

Police Chief Angie Spates had some kind words for Mr. Lett.

“He succeeded John P. Powell as the principal of my school in LaFayette,” she said. “He was an inspiration to me and to a lot of other students at Southside. I was very pleased when I saw him again several years ago. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, but he remembered me instantly. That meant a lot to me.”

In thanking the council, Lett said that he first came to the Valley in 1949 and liked the hometown feel the area had.

After serving in the Korean War, he decided to come back here to live.

“The Valley has always had separate identities,” he said. “There’s West Point, Lanett, Huguley, Shawmut, Langdale, Fairfax and River View. It has always seemed like one community to me.”

Mayor Kyle McCoy thanked LaFayette Lanier IV, Mary Elizabeth Lanier and Frank Lanier for coming to the meeting. He also thanked Mack and Mary Lett, and their son, LaVance, for being there.