The small town of Jay, known mainly for its main source of income coming from agriculture, was established in 1902.

JAY — When people think of Jay they may think of cotton farms, peanut festivals and the oil. But did you know there was a interesting timeline of businesses there as well?

The small town of Jay, known mainly for its main source of income coming from agriculture, was established in 1902. The name was derived from the original postmaster, J. T. Nowling. Jay’s heritage dates to the early 1900s when the community was dependent on agriculture-related ventures, including cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn and timber production. In the 1970s oil was discovered. The small community is reaping the benefits of the gushing crude oil that has provided Jay more than $400 million dollars in revenues.

Matthew Dobson, president of the Jay Historical Society, said the town has had several business open since the town's beginnings. The following is a timeline of some of Jay's most historic businesses found by the historic society. Dobson said many of the businesses that opened before the 1940s had long since gone out of business and the society had not been able to find the exact dates of their closings.


1904: The first mercantile store opened in Jay.
1915: Dr. Nick Stallworth set up practice
1917: Harrison Mercantile Company opened.
1935: Hudson Barber Shop, the first barber shop in Jay, opened.
1939: The first theatre in Jay was opened by R.C. Wagoner.
1939: J.P. Kent Mercantile Store opened
1939: Jay Tribune Newspaper started in Jay. According to Dobson, the paper, which did not print long, was founded by John, Paul, and William Amos, who would later start the AFLAC Insurance Company.
1939: Escambia River Electric Cooperative Incorporated was established. This is the oldest continuing business still in operation in Jay. According to records, this business was put into place by President Franklin Roosevelt as part of the Rural Electrification Act in 1936.
1940s: Hendrix Tractor Company, which later became Malone Tractor Company. In 1953, Smith Tractor Company bought out Malone Tractor Company, which still is in business today.
1951: Bank of Jay was established.
1954: Scott’s Appliance and Furniture was opened, which still is in operation today in its original building.

With one traffic light and grocery store in the town and a combined elementary and middle school, and a combined middle and high school, the town offers a real small town feeling. As the town's population has gone up and down in recent years, with the current population at approximately 600, town operations manager Eric Seib said the town is committed to revitalizing Jay while keeping it’s small-town atmosphere.

"The residents of Jay have built this strong sense of family and community bonding that makes it a great place to raise a family," Seib said.  "Families here in Jay work hard and spend time with their children and grandchildren. If that means watching them at an event they are involved in, taking them fishing, or just sitting around playing games. The residents of Jay visit friends and neighbors, sharing in the fellowship of rural living."