This early cultural, educational and religious center was settled in 1823 and named for Joseph Lawrence, prominent pioneer, farmer, and extensive land owner. A Baptist and a Methodist Church were established here prior to 1830. The first settlers of this area came from the Carolinas and Georgia, crossing the Chattahoochee River at Franklin and squatting here until land could be purchased in 1828.
The first and foremost educational facility in east Alabama opened here prior to 1830. It later became the Masonic Male and Female Institute. This pioneer school was active for 50 years graduating such outstanding personalities as Rev. Anson West, D.D., Methodist minister, missionary, author, and William C. Oates, Governor of Alabama, Commander, 15th Ala. Inf. Reg., C.S.A., General U.S.A., author, statesman and editor.