Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for July 7, 2020


Congressman Bobby Bright
11 YEARS AGO
JULY 2, 2009

Congressman Bobby Bright (D-Montgomery) was the keynote speaker during Tuesday night’s annual Rotary Club banquet at Bolden-Cardwell Hall in Evergreen. Pictured seated are outgoing Rotary Club president Marc Williams and his wife, Sharon. Evergreen dentist Dr. Douglas O’Connor took over the reigns as club president during the banquet.

No decision yet in election lawsuit case: The first part of this week came and went without a decision in the ongoing lawsuit over Evergreen’s disputed mayoral election.
Since a hearing on June 5 and as of yesterday (Wednesday) morning, no decision had been handed down in the case, according to officials in the Conecuh County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
During a hearing on June 5 in Evergreen, Judge Edward McDermott instructed attorneys in the case to submit to him a lists of voters being challenged and their reasons for challenging those voters before June 19.

Detroit man shot, killed: Evergreen police are calling on the public for help in trying to solve a case in which a Detroit man was gunned down Monday night in an Evergreen mobile home.
According to Evergreen Police Detective Sean Klaetsch, officers were called to a mobile home on Jerusalem Church Road in Evergreen around 10:30 p.m. Monday and found Rudy Wiggins, 74, of Detroit dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Wiggins, a Vietnam veteran, who was visiting relatives in Evergreen, was shot multiple times with a handgun.

36 YEARS AGO
JULY 6, 1984

Evergreen weather observer Earl Windham reported 0.20 inches of rain on June 29. He reported a high of 93 degrees on June 24 and a low of 62 degrees on June 26.

Repton creates municipal court: A municipal court was created at a special meeting of the Repton City Council on June 25. The council appointed David Steele as judge.
The council also employed two new policemen, Randy Shue and Robert Taylor. Speed limits will be enforced, the council and police department announced. In case of an emergency need of police, call 911.
The council also established the Repton Public Library Board and appointed these members: Mrs. Marcus Straughn, Mrs. Keith Graham, Mrs. Dora Augustin, Mrs. John Davison and David Johnson.

Voters in Conecuh County’s three incorporated towns will elect city officials in municipal elections Tuesday. Voters in Evergreen will elect members of the council by districts for the first time. Running for mayor in Evergreen are W.B. Epperson, Pat Poole and Lee F. Smith.
(Candidates for city council included John D. Hagood, Jimmy Johnson, Aubrey D. Padgett, William “Bill” Durant, Jones B. Sasser, T.L. Sims, John E. Smith, Pete Wolff III, Larry W. Fluker, Alex Johnson, Hugh J. Bradford Sr., John “Fat” Claiborne, Patricia L. Dailey and Betty Bowers Rigsby.)

61 YEARS AGO
JULY 2, 1959

Dickey Bozeman Buys Thomasville Times: Sale of The Thomasville Times to Clyde Dickey Bozeman is announced today by Earl L. Tucker, editor and publisher. Bozeman took over the Clarke County weekly at close of business Tuesday.
Bozeman is the son of R. Gaston Bozeman Sr. of Evergreen, editor and publisher of The Courant from 1926 to 1957, and now serving the paper in an advisory capacity. He joins his brother, Bob, in the weekly editing and publishing field.

Castleberry Man Bitten By Monster Rattlesnake: Frank Pate, good citizen living near Castleberry, is reported to be about fully recovered from the effects of a rattlesnake bite which he suffered Sat., June 27, while working about his farm. Mr. Pate’s quick thinking and action in taking his pocket knife and gashing the affected leg, causing it to bleed, no doubt saved his life. He was brought to the Conecuh County Hospital for treatment but was able to go home Monday.
“Mr. Pate saw the snake after it had bitten him but did not kill it as he was too busy trying to save his own life. Two of his neighbors, A.J. Smith and Pete Singleton, later found the snake and killed it. It measured 5-1/2 feet in length, weighed 12 pounds and had 11 rattles. They brought it to Evergreen, where it attracted a large crowd of curious spectators for several hours.

86 YEARS AGO
JULY 5, 1934

Misses Hazel Crawford and Kate McConaughy have returned from a visit to the World’s Fair in Chicago. Miss Crawford is visiting her aunt, Mrs. M.B. Binion.

Sgt. Hobson Lewis, Corp. Orman Bower, Privates Ted Bates, John Salter, Robert Quarles and Otis Pierce returned Sunday from Birmingham, where they have been stationed in connection with the miners strike for the past two months.

Messrs. C.P. Deming and Jim Hartzog are leaving Sunday to attend the Ford Dealers Convention at Detroit, Mich. and the World’s Fair.

Evergreen Eligible For P.O. Building: A news dispatch from Washington dated June 30 states that Evergreen along with 10 other Alabama cities and towns has been placed on the eligible list for a new post office building. According to the Washington story, $65,000,000 is now available under the deficiency appropriation bill for the construction of post offices throughout the country.
The post office and treasurer departments were authorized by the bill to choose from the specified list which cities should have new buildings. List of cities given: Anniston, $210,000; Gadsden, $85,000; Fairfield, $84,000; Atmore, $65,000; Brewton, $68,000; Evergreen, $65,000; Fort Payne, $68,000; Guntersville, $63,000; Opp, $63,000; Roanoke, $65,000 and Scottsboro, $65,000.

136 YEARS AGO
THE CONECUH-ESCAMBIA STAR
JULY 3, 1884

Reliable information has just reached us of a serious difficulty that occurred between Dave Bowers and Eb. Riley at Andalusia last Saturday, the 28th ultimo, in which Bowers shot Riley with a pistol, the ball taking effect a little below the corner of the mouth and passing out just below the ear, slightly fracturing one of the jaw teeth; otherwise only inflicting a flesh wound. The difficulty arose about an account of $250 Bowers claimed against Riley and to enforce the payment Bowers had locked up a suit of Riley’s clothes, when the trouble commenced. Bowers made his escape.

This will certainly be long remembered as the rainy summer.

The pulpit of the Evergreen Methodist church was occupied last Sunday by Rev. J.S. Frazer.

Rev. B.H. Crumpton preached at Castleberry last Sunday while Rev. B.F. Riley occupied the Baptist pulpit in Evergreen.

Rev. B.F. Riley will lecture under the auspices of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union at the Baptist church on Thursday night, the 3rd inst.

Last Sunday several from Evergreen went out to Belleville to hear that eminent Presbyterian divine, Rev. J.C. Duncan. Mr. D. is very popular in this section. He is now making an effort to build a Presbyterian church in this place, and we hope he will succeed.

Last Friday Mrs. G.R. Farnham very kindly remembered her Sabbath school class by inviting those composing it to attend an ice cream supper given at her residence. The occasion was a delightful one, and was thoroughly enjoyed by those present.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Old newspaper excerpts from The Monroe Journal newspaper of Monroe County, Alabama

USS Wedderburn

36 YEARS AGO
JULY 5, 1984

Burnt Corn landmark burns: Firemen from three fire departments watched helplessly Friday night as a Burnt Corn landmark went down in flames.
Peterman Fire Chief Frank Chandler said firemen from Peterman, Burnt Corn and Pine Orchard could do nothing to stop the Kyzer home on County Road 30 from being destroyed. The two-story wood-frame house is estimated to be about 160 years old.
According to Chandler, no one lived in the house, but it still contained furniture. According to Burnt Corn Fire Chief Frank Steadman, the state fire marshal will conduct an investigation although no evidence of arson has been found.

14- and 15-year-old all-stars: The Monroeville 14- and 15-year-old Babe Ruth Baseball all-star team is scheduled to see action in the District 1 tournament in Brewton Monday at 7 p.m. The members of the 1984 all-star team are Chris Moore, Michael Rankins, Derrick Knight, Charles Richardson, Andy Wilkerson, Cale Lindsey, Randall Johnson, Coach Terry Wilkerson, Mark Williams, Manning Williams, Greg Tucker, Chuck McMillian, Bob Williams, Cornelius Laffite, Tab Andrews, Jeff Dyess and Coach Mitch Bayles.
                                                                                                                                                                             
First cotton bloom: Three-year-old Joshua Simpson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Danny Simpson of Excel, displays the first reported cotton bloom of the year. The bloom was discovered early last week by Joshua’s father while he was checking for insects. Joshua is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. E.E. Simpson of Excel, Blanche Cater of Monroeville and William Cater of Tunnel Springs.

61 YEARS AGO
JULY 2, 1959

Ginwright Is Named To Top Masonic Office: Lawrence A. Ginwright of Monroeville was named Worshipful Master of local Alabama Masonic Lodge No. 3 at a recent election.
Mr. Ginwright is Chief Machinist at Vanity Fair Mills in Monroeville.
Other officers and committee members named were listed as follows: Senior Warden, Thomas Lemons; Junior Warden, Jesse M. York; Treasurer, J.F. Wade; Secretary, W.S. Nash; Senior Deacon, W.F. Lane; Junior Deacon, Charles P. Pelham; Tyler, Glen M. Gladwell; Chaplain, Rev. H.P. Barrington; Marshal, John Snyder; Stewards, Bill Cater and George Wilson; Auditing, John Bonham, B.H. Stallworth Jr. and Forrest Watkins; Sick and Relief, Bill Lane, Leroy Green and Kermit Branum; Refreshment, John Snyder and Floyd Harper.

Tickets Go On Sale For College Grid Tilt: Tickets go on sale today (Thursday) for a football game between Livingston State and Troy State Colleges in Monroeville Sept. 19.
The contest will be played in Vanity Fair Park beginning at 8 p.m., sponsored by the Monroeville Civitan Club.
Reserve tickets cost $2.25 while general admission will be $1.50 for adults and $1 for children. Children under school age will be admitted free.
Tickets are available from any Civitan Club member or by contacting John Williams, chairman of the ticket sale committee.

Jessie M. Steadham, seaman, U.S. Navy, son of Mr. and Mrs. Majors Steadham of Rt. 1, Box 94, Drewry, departed San Diego, Calif. on May 16 aboard the destroyer USS Wedderburn for a tour of duty with the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific.

86 YEARS AGO
JULY 5, 1934

MASONIC CONFERENCE: The regular annual Monroe County Masonic Conference will convene with Blacksher Lodge at Uriah on Thurs., July 12, 1934, one day only. A good lecturer will be on hand to instruct in the ritualistic work. Let every lodge in the county be present. – W.S. NASH, Secretary.

Miss Louise and Alice Lee spent last weekend with friends at the University of Alabama.

Sacred Harp Singers Will Gather At Shiloh: We have been asked to announce that a singing convention will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15, at the Frisco City Shiloh Church. Sacred harp singers will be present. Everybody is invited to come and bring a picnic basket for the noon lunch.

Work On Paving Project Progressing: The laying of the concrete along the road bed of the highway toward Frisco City began on Tuesday afternoon. The paving will be started near the McMillan store and work will continue north toward the Square. Practically all the curbing which was built first has been uncovered and the work of grading the street along the south side of the Square begun.

Mr. Agee Returns Home From Hospital: Mr. J.M. Agee, Circuit Clerk of Monroe County, returned home the first of the week from Mobile where he spent the past few days in a hospital, having undergone an operation. He is resting well and his many friends are expecting to greet him on the streets again in a short while.

111 YEARS AGO
JULY 1, 1909

Amateur Baseball: The first match game of baseball played on the Monroeville diamond this season was pulled off last Saturday afternoon between the Finchburg and Monroeville teams and was won by the visiting team by a score of 4 to 2; time one hour and 47 minutes. The game was one of the prettiest witnessed here and was remarkable for the few errors marked. The pitching by both sides was excellent. The game was warmly contested from start to finish and all decisions by the umpire, Mr. Burns, regarded as fair by both sides.

The Wilcox Mineral Springs Hotel will be opened for the accommodation of guests on July 1. The annual picnic will take place on Sat., July 3. Have engaged a string band and there will be ball games and other amusements. All are invited to come and bring baskets. The Hotel will probably be open only during the month of July. Prospective guests will make their arrangements accordingly. – G.W. STUART, Proprietor.

F.J. Powell of Claiborne spent Sunday with his sister, Mrs. W.B. Jones.

Newly elected officers for Monroeville Lodge No. 153 were Q. Salter, Worshipful Master; W.G. McCorvey, Senior Warden; J.B. Barnett, Junior Warden; D.J. Hatter, Treasurer; D.M. Maxwell, Secretary; F.W. Hare, Senior Deacon; I.B. Slaughter, Junior Deacon; J.W. Urquhart, Tyler; G.C. Watson and A.B. Coxwell, Stewards; W.H. Boyd, Chaplain.

MONROEVILLE RT. 1: There will be a picnic at the Melton baseball grounds July 3. Everyone invited to attend with well filled baskets.

136 YEARS AGO
JULY 7, 1884

A Picnic – was given at Monroeville on the “glorious fourth” and a large crowd was present from Claiborne, Bell’s Landing, Ridge and Pineville and other places. The picnic was gotten up by that excellent lady, Mrs. F. Metts, in honor of a visit from her son, Mr. R.F. Metts, who has been absent from home for the past 12 months. The picnic was a success in every way and all who attended had an enjoyable time. Mrs. Metts should feel proud of the success which crowned her laudable efforts to make the picnic a success and she will be kindly remembered many fourths of July to come by the young people of this vicinity.

Prof. W.R. Smyly of Selma, well and favorably known by many of our citizens as a first-class piano tuner, will shortly visit Monroe, and all wishing either their old instruments repaired or to purchase a new organ or piano, can leave their orders at (The Monroe Journal), where they will receive prompt attention.

Buena Vista: The charming young lady, Miss Kate Screiber of Mobile, who had been since last fall teaching school, left for her home some days since. After her departure, a young man was heard to say “Ah! The light and sunshine of Buena Vista has gone, gone forever!”

Bell’s Landing: We are soon to have an entertainment and ice cream supper at this place, the proceeds of which are for the benefit of the new church now in the course of erection.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

George Singleton tells of ancient bear skull found 18 feet below ground on Ridge Road in Monroe County

Example of ancient bear skull in museum display.

(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Soil gives up another relic” was originally published in the July 8, 1976 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

As I have stated many times before, the soil of Monroe County holds many relics of the past. This was proved once again when Gaines Bayles uncovered a large skull of one of the area’s earliest inhabitants: a bear.

While loading a dump truck from a clay pit on Ridge Road, Bayles found this huge skull embedded in clay about 18 feet below the surface of the ground.

There has been excessive digging in this area, and I’m sure that most of the remaining skeleton was destroyed by the earth-digging machinery. It was just by chance that this relic was discovered – and it was damaged when the loader’s teeth came in contact with it.

I will be the first to admit that I’m no authority on things such as this, but with what facts I had, and with the help of some good authoritative information, I found the huge bear to have weighed around 500 to 600 pounds at the time of its death.

Except for those that were broken out by the digger, all teeth are in good repair. This proves that the animal was not old, and suggests that it did not die from natural causes.

A large bear, regardless of the species – grizzly or brown or Russian or Asian – has many of the characteristics of the human being.

Since a bear’s well-being depends largely on its teeth, much can be learned from their condition. Study proves that the death rate of the large grizzly is focused around the bear’s teeth. When one’s teeth were out, food becomes harder and harder to come by.

In the Western states where the grizzly is still to be found, when a bear becomes a killer usually a mouth wound with broken teeth is the cause. When the killer is slain, almost always there is damage to the teeth.

It would be interesting to know the circumstances surrounding this huge skull, and the cause of the large bear’s death.

Was he killed by man because he had gone on the rampage and become a killer himself? Or was he the victim of a larger, younger bear – a victim who fought to the death to defend his domain?

The red clay bank on Ridge Road was the secret’s keeper. Now it has gone to meet the needs of man, to be lost forever.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Old Sparta community was once a hustling, bustling early Alabama town

Sparta Hill United Methodist Church

I got the itch the other day to get out and do some riding around and eventually found myself on County Road 25, which is also known as the Old Sparta Road. About midway down this road, I pulled over at the Jay Villa Lane crossroads and was reminded that I was close to the old hustling, bustling town of Sparta, which served as the county seat from 1820 to 1866. Almost nothing remains from this ghost town’s old heyday except for a few old churches and cemeteries.

According to the 1989 book, “Place Names in Alabama” by Virginia O. Foscue, Sparta was founded in 1818 and was named by Thomas Watts, an attorney, for his former home in Sparta, Ga. A post office was established at Sparta in 1820, but eventually closed years later. During the Civil War, the Conecuh County Courthouse at Sparta was burned by Union troops, and the county seat was moved to Evergreen, where it remains today.

I eventually made my way onto the Jay Villa Road and pulled over at the Sparta Hill United Methodist Church. According to the church’s cornerstone, it was organized in 1875 and was rebuilt in 1980. The oldest members of the church when it was rebuilt were Gillie Gross, Gertrude Thomas and Zetella Roche.

A few minutes later, I found myself in the church’s small graveyard, which looks to contain about 30 graves. The oldest marked grave that I saw belonged to Charles E. Johnson, who died on Feb. 2, 1942. I also spotted several graves of veterans, including the graves of two World War II veterans and one Korean War veteran.

Before leaving, I walked over for a closer look at the old, cast-iron church bell, which is mounted in a brick display near the road. According to the inscription on the bell’s crown, it was manufactured by the C.S. Bell Co. in Hillsboro, Ohio. Sources say that this 32-inch bell was made sometime after 1894.

From there, I drove up the Jay Villa Road to the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. According to that church’s cornerstone, it was founded in the 1800s and rebuilt in 1972 when the Rev. James Jackson was the pastor. Other church officers in 1972 included C. Gross, F.L. Stallworth, W. Gross, C. Williams, J.H. Williams, W. McQueen, F. Gross, B.L. Stallworth, J.L. Stallworth, C. Harrison and A.J. Deese.

This church’s yard also features an old, cast-iron church bell that is mounted in a brick display near the road. As things go, this 32-inch bell was also manufactured by the C.S. Bell Co. sometime after 1894. This particular bell appears to be in better condition than the one down the road at Sparta Hill UMC, but otherwise the two bells are seemingly identical.

From there, as I have many times before, I walked across the church’s driveway and into the shade of a few roadside trees, which for years has sheltered the almost forgotten Warren Cemetery. This small cemetery contains some of the county’s oldest marked graves, including those of Hinchey Warren and Gilchrist R. Boulware. Most of these graves are in terrible condition, having suffered at the hands of the elements and ignorant vandals.

Here you will also find the grave of John Quincy Adams Warren, who died at the age of 30 on April 4, 1856. According to the book, “Ghosts and Goosebumps: Ghost Stories, Tall Tales and Superstitions from Alabama” by Jack and Olivia Solomon, John Quincy Adams Warren drowned in a barrel of whiskey. But that is a story for another day.

A few minutes later, I climbed back in my truck and pointed it back towards Evergreen. On the way back to town, I could not help but think of all the people who once called Sparta home some 200 years ago when it was Conecuh County’s center of government and commerce. No doubt, those people would have had a hard time imagining what the county would be like two centuries later, which makes one wonder what things will be like here 200 years from now.

In the end, only time will tell, and the reality is that no one reading this in 2020 will be around to see it. Anyone in the reading audience wanting to learn more about Sparta would do well to read “Sparta, Alabama: 1821-1866” by Pat Poole and “History of Conecuh County, Alabama” by B.F. Riley. Also, before I close out, I’d like to hear from anyone in the reading audience with any ghost stories, Indian lore or other local legends associated with Old Sparta. If you have anything to share along those lines, please let me hear from you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cedar Creek Guards fought at the 'bloodiest single day in U.S. military history' and other major battles

The Battle of Antietam

Today – July 1 – is the anniversary of one of the most momentous days in Wilcox County’s military history as it marks 158 years since the arrival of the 44th Alabama Infantry at Richmond, Virginia on July 1, 1862. The 44th Alabama included the Cedar Creek Guards, whose ranks were filled with men from Wilcox County. As it turned out, July 1, 1862 was only the start of the unit’s many adventures during the War Between the States.

According to “Men of Wilcox: They Wore the Gray” by Ouida Star Woodson, the Cedar Creek Guards “drew men from Wilcox, Dallas and Butler counties to its ranks. John W. Purifoy was elected captain of the company at its organization in March 1862. It became Co. C of the 44th Alabama Infantry at the time of the regiment’s organization at Selma on May 16, 1862.”

A short time after their arrival in Virginia, the Cedar Creek Guards found themselves in action at the Battle of Second Manassas (also known as the Second Battle of Bull Run), which was fought on Aug. 29-30, 1862. During this historic battle, the Cedar Creek Guards fought on the right wing of the Army of Northern Virginia. Even though the Confederates were outnumbered by an estimated 27,000 men, the battle resulted in a Rebel victory.

A few weeks later, on Sept. 17, the Cedar Creek Guards fought at the Battle of Sharpsburg (also known as the Battle of Antietam), which was one of the most important battles in American history. With a combined number of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing, this was the bloodiest single day in U.S. military history and resulted in a strategic Union victory. Five days later, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in the states that had seceded from the Union.

Two years after their first arrival in Richmond, the Cedar Creek Guards found themselves at another decisive battle in American history, the Battle of Gettysburg. Here, as part of the First Corps, they fought at Devil’s Den, Big Round Top and at the famous Peach Orchard. Sources also say that the Cedar Creek Guards captured the only two Union cannons brought off the battlefield by Confederates at Gettysburg.

Nearly a year later, in May 1864, the Cedar Creek Guards fought at the Battle of Spotsylvania and the Battle of the Wilderness. From there, they fell back to Petersburg, where they helped repel a Union siege that lasted over nine months. As the war came to a close, what was left of the Cedar Creek Guards found themselves at Appomattox, where General Robert E. Lee surrendered his beleaguered army to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865.

In the end, I’d like to hear from anyone in the reading audience with more information about the Cedar Creek Guards. No doubt a number of these soldiers returned to their Wilcox County homes after the war, but records are unclear as to just how many survived the war. With that said, it’s likely that some of their descendants still call Wilcox County home today and might be able to provide more details about one of the local military companies that fought in so many of the nation’s historic battles.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Old newspaper excerpts from The Monroe Journal newspaper of Monroe County, Alabama


27 YEARS AGO
JUNE 24, 1993

Restoration at milestone: The first phase of the restoration of the Old Monroe County Courthouse is near completion, according to restoration committee chairman Bill Chance. He hopes it will be done by the end of September so that attention can be focused on the interior.
The first phase, according to County Engineer Robert English, entailed doing work on the brick, roof, structural system, windows, storm drainage system and trusses that support the building.

Temple-Inland took first place in the Monroeville Babe Ruth Baseball League this season, posting an 11-1 record. (Members of the team were Connor Martin, Steven Bartlett, Ben Friend, Jason Pipkin, Nathan Smith, Markesia McQuitter, Rick Ramer, Eric Scott, Deric Scott, Chris Gardner, Matt Salter and Oliver Matthews. Coaches were Johnny Bartlett, Sam Martin and Johnny Till.)

Future animal shelter: Workers have put finishing touches on the masonry work around the walls encasing the Monroe County Animal Shelter. Construction continues to run behind schedule but is well below budget, according to Charles Mabry, vice president of the Monroe County Animal Control Authority. He said plans originally called for the shelter to be completed by June 15, but because of cost cutting designed to keep the project under budget – such as waiting longer than expected for a cheaper contractor – the shelter is facing delays. Mabry could not say exactly when the shelter would finally be completed. The building is on Alabama Highway 47 between Monroeville and Mexia.

52 YEARS AGO
JUNE 27, 1968

Mrs. Margaret Ann Murphy recently received her Master of Education Degree from Dr. John E. Deloney, president of Livingston University. This was the second time Mrs. Murphy has been a member of the first graduating class of a university; she received her B.S. degree during Auburn University’s first graduation exercises in March of 1960.
Mrs. Murphy worked as a graduate assistant in the English Department of Livingston University during the past year and will teach English in the college this fall.
She is married to Cecil L. Murphy Sr., former biology teacher at Monroe County High School, who is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Max Murphy of Peterman.

Football Pros Speak At Excel Banquet: Three football pros and a coach were the speakers at Excel’s Football Banquet Monday night, sponsored by the Quarterback Club.
Leroy Jordan of the Dallas Cowboys was the major speaker. The other speakers were Obert Logan of the New Orleans Saints, Wayne Frazier of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jimmy Sharp, who is an assistant football coach at the University of Alabama.
Approximately 150 persons were present.

Post 24’s New Officers: These new officers of Explorer Post 24 of Monroeville took office recently. Standing from left are Al Bentley, president; James Robinson, vice president; John Barnett, quartermaster; Ray Skinner, treasurer; and Joe Whatley, district cabinet representative. David Bentley, seated, is secretary. A.S. Bentley Jr. is adult adviser to the post.

77 YEARS AGO
JUNE 24, 1943

URIAH BOY GRADUATES AT NAVAL ACADEMY: Glenn Earl Lambert, son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Lambert of Uriah, was among the seven Alabama boys to graduate in the 1944 class at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., on June 9.
Ensign Lambert graduated from Uriah High School in 1939. Having received his appointment to the Naval Academy from Congressman Frank Boykin, he made his preparation for entrance requirements at Marion Institute, and entered the Academy in the 1944 class on July 17, 1940.
After a brief visit with his parents he will go to Jacksonville, Fla. for temporary duty at the Jacksonville Air Station.

LT. W.E. ROGERS LOSES LIFE IN PLANE CRASH: Lt. William Earl Rogers, Binghamton, N.Y., husband of the former Sue Gaillard Brown, of Montgomery and Prattville, was killed in a plane crash at Desert Center, Calif. Wednesday night. Funeral services will be held Sunday in Binghamton, N.Y. Mrs. Rogers is the granddaughter of Mr. J.F. Gaillard, Perdue Hill.

Monroe Mills Picnic At State Park Saturday: The annual picnic given the employees of Monroe Mills was held at Little River State Park last Saturday afternoon and night.
It was a most enjoyable outing and was attended by a large group of the employees of Monroe and Clarke Mills and many friends.
Iced drinks were served throughout the afternoon and at seven o’clock everyone was served a most tempting chicken supper.
Dancing and numerous contests were enjoyed during the afternoon and night.
(Contests included an egg-throwing contest, an apple-eating contest, an apple-bobbing contest, a swimming race and a three-legged race.)

101 YEARS AGO
JUNE 26, 1919

Bob Jones, the famous evangelist, has been secured to hold a meeting in Monroeville beginning Sunday, the 6th of July. The meeting is to be held in the new Methodist church. It will be a community meeting, all the ministers and churches cooperating.

Mr. Sam Moseley, who is a student at Tulane medical college in New Orleans, is spending a few days here with his parents, Dr. and Mrs. H.R. Moseley.

Mr. Hunter McDuffie was down from Franklin Tuesday and reports poor cotton. He says boll weevils are in the cotton fields in greater numbers than he has before seen.

Prof. G.M. Veasey and family have returned to Monroeville to make their future home. Prof. Veasey will be connected with the Lazenby Mercantile Co.

Rev. C.A. Williams left Monday for Columbus, Ohio to attend the celebration of the centenary movement. We are glad that he could attend this meeting and feel that he will return refreshed and strengthened for the great Jones revival which we are expecting.

SOLDIERS BARBECUE: The Lake Park Outing Club of Monroeville, Ala. will give a public barbecue July 4, 1919 in honor of its soldier members, and also in honor of all Monroe County boys who were in the service. The members of the Club desire to make this celebration the greatest in the history of the country, and request the cooperation of all Monroe County citizens in making the occasion altogether enjoyable.

127 YEARS AGO
JUNE 22, 1893

At the last communication of Monroeville Lodge No. 153, the following officers were elected for the ensuring Masonic year: S.H. Daily, Worshipful Master; Q. Salter, Senior Warden; F.M. Jones, Junior Warden; J. DeLoach, Treasurer; S.W. Yarbrough, Secretary; A.T. Sowell, Senior Deacon; W.G. McCorvey, Junior Deacon; and S.F. Daniel, Tyler.

Monroe Chapter No. 4 will hold a regular convocation at Masonic Hall, Perdue Hill, Ala., on Thurs., June 29, 1893. Installation of officers, etc. – W.J. McCANTS, Secretary.

The military boys returned from camp at Mobile Monday. They report a jolly time. The company made a creditable appearance and the boys and the friends of the company as well, are highly gratified at the manner in which their gallant young captain distinguished himself by his manly and soldierly bearing and the skillful manner in which he handled his men. Capt. Nettles was the recipient of flattering compliments from Col. Williams and numerous staff officers.

Mr. J.W. McInnis of Burnt Corn was in town and called to see us Tuesday. Mr. Mc. Is one of our substantial citizens and a man who makes a success of farming by making a living at home.

PINE ORCHARD: There was a picnic at Murder Creek Saturday and on returning home, a Mr. Tom Booker shot and killed Frank Wells. Whiskey was the cause.

KEMPVILLE: Mr. Jas. A. Morris shot and killed a large grey fox one day this week. The fox was chasing a hen and ran up within 30 or 40 yards of Mr. Morris’ yard gate, when Mr. Morris did the shooting.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

George Singleton tells of the time he spent five minutes in the ring with a 540-pound carnival bear


(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Fond memories recalled” was originally published in the June 12, 1997 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

On this past May 17, my high school graduating class decided to get together for a time of fun and to relive some of the times when we were in high school. Each member, in turn, had their chance to relay to the others present some of the fond memories of those past times there at Sweet Water High School.

When my time came to relay some of the memories of yesterday’s school days it seemed that the rest of the class wouldn’t let me sit down. So, it became a question and answer session and those who wanted to hear again about past events.

As I stood there before those present, I thought about how times have changed since we were in high school together. I see many things happen today that during those years would have been unheard of. If one passes our schools today, we see many automobiles sitting out in the parking lot of the school. Many of the students of the senior classes have their own automobiles to drive wherever they please. I reminded the class that if we came to school and there was an automobile sitting out in front of the school, it meant one of two things – either the county superintendent of education had driven down from Linden, the county seat, or someone from away far off had gotten lost and had stopped to ask directions. Today, we don’t have the ample parking space for all the fancy and beautiful automobiles that our students drive to school.

As we sat there and relived the memories of those days, I was asked to tell about our senior year football banquet. All the players were told by Coach Foster that if we did not bring a date to the banquet, we could not come ourselves. Since very few of our families owned an automobile, two of my teammates and myself hired an old man to carry the three of us and our dates to the football banquet. A total of seven were crowded in the old 1937 Chevrolet for the trip to the banquet. The only one in the group that enjoyed the trip to the banquet and the return home was the old man who drove the old car. He seemed to have had a wonderful time. He did all the talking since no one else was able to get a word in edgewise.

When the time came to order our class rings, I wore the largest size in the class, therefore, my ring was the most expensive. I had worked the summer before as a deckhand on a tug boat that pushed barges up and down the Tombigbee River. I had saved my earnings to put me through my senior year in high school. I nearly fainted when I was informed that my class ring was going to cost me a whole $12.

I was during my senior year when a small carnival of a sort came to the small town of Sweet Water. Coach Foster gave strict orders to the football players that no players were to go to the carnival. The rival game of the year was just a few days away and no player had better be caught at the carnival on either of the two nights. Hard times were ahead if this happened.

The small carnival was to be in town on Friday and Saturday nights. Our first game was to be with our great rival Linden High School. This game was just a week away, and the last thing anyone wanted was to get Coach Foster mad and upset. .Three other players and myself just couldn’t see how we would be caught if we waited until Saturday night to attend the carnival. Since no member of the team would be there to rat on us, we felt very safe as we strolled around the carnival grounds, seeing everything that was free. None of the four of us had any money, but things were about to change.

Over in the corner of the carnival was a small arena. Here a crowd gathered as a man challenged anyone from the crowd to come forth and wrestle a very large brown bear that sat silently beside him, which was secured by a leash around his neck. “Anyone who can stay in the ring with this 540-pound bear for a period of five minutes will be paid the total sum of $5 cash money,” the man yelled. No one seemed to want the $5. There were no takers from the crowd.

Unaware of what was taking place, my loyal and good friends had decided that I would get in the ring with the large bear. Then, with the money that I would win, they could enjoy the rides of the carnival and see all the side shows as long as my winnings lasted. So, when the bear handler yelled out that there was a challenger in the crowd, I looked to see who it was. My friends were pointing at me.

I couldn’t run because I was surrounded. I couldn’t understand how that had happened. Everyone was clapping their hands and cheering. I decided quickly that if I survived this ordeal I was going to murder my friends in cold blood for getting me into this mess.

The large crowd had moved back and formed a large circle. I found myself standing inside the circle as the bear handler removed the leash from the large bear’s collar. I knew that my time had come. No more would I play on the fields of competition against our school rivals. If I was lucky I might be able to watch from the sidelines in my wheelchair.

I felt the bone-crushing pressure as the large animal caught me in a bear hug and lifted me from the ground. I managed to get my leg behind the bear’s leg making us both fall to the ground. I landed on top but not for long. The large bear flipped me clear and as I landed on my back the bear was on top of me. The handler made the large bear get up off of me, but as I stood up I was grabbed again having the air crushed from my lungs.

The five minutes, which seemed like five hours, were finally over. I staggered to my feet. The bear handler came over and congratulated me while presenting my friends with my winnings. I was so tired and hurt that at that time I didn’t care what happened to the money. All I needed was a place to lie down and hurt. I felt as if I had been run over by a train. Little did I know the worst was yet to come.

As we were about to leave the carnival, after all my winnings had been spent by my friends, there standing before us was Coach Foster. I found myself wishing that I was facing the large bear again instead of the man standing there with his hands on his hips. Something told me that life would never be the same for the four of us. It wasn’t.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)