Friday, May 6, 2016

Today in History for May 6, 2016

William Colby
May 6, 1536 – The Siege of Cuzco commenced in which Incan forces attempted to retake the city of Cuzco from the Spanish.

May 6, 1536 – King Henry VIII ordered English-language Bibles be placed in every church.

May 6, 1775 - New Jersey Royal Governor William Franklin wrote that the violence at Lexington and Concord greatly diminished the chances of reconciliation between Britain and her North American colonies.

May 6, 1778 - Continental Army Colonel Ethan Allen returned to the United States as part of a prisoner exchange. He had been captured by the British on Sept. 27, 1776.

May 6, 1835 – James Gordon Bennett Sr. published the first issue of The New York Herald.

May 6, 1851 – John D. Morrissette died near Houston, Texas. A veteran of the War of 1812, he was an early Monroe County lawyer and planter. He was elected to the state legislature in 1829 and state senate in 1845 and 1849.

May 6, 1856 – American explorer Robert Peary was born in Cresson, Pa. He claimed to have reached the geographic North Pole with his expedition on April 6, 1909.

May 6, 1956 – Sigmund Freud was born in Freiburg, Moravia.

May 6, 1859 – German geographer and explorer Alexander von Humboldt passed away at the age of 89 in Berlin. Humboldt's quantitative work on botanical geography laid the foundation for the field of biogeography. Humboldt's advocacy of long-term systematic geophysical measurement laid the foundation for modern geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring.

May 6, 1861 – During the Civil War, Richmond, Virginia was declared the new capital of the Confederate States of America.

May 6, 1861 - The long-expected became actual on this day as the legislatures of Tennessee and Arkansas both passed Ordinances of Secession from the Union. Based on which one was ruled to have acted earlier, Tennessee became the ninth and Arkansas the tenth members of the Confederate States of America. The real question was whether Kentucky and Missouri would follow their neighbors’ lead. Strong efforts were underway both to assure and prevent this outcome.

May 6, 1862 - Union forces occupied Williamsburg, Virginia.

May 6, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought on White River in Arkansas; near Harrisonburg, Va.; and in the vicinity of Camp McDonald and Arnoldsburg, West Virginia.

May 6, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Chancellorsville ended with the defeat of the Army of the Potomac by Confederate troops.

May 6, 1863 – Joseph Tarpley Peacock, who was the father of Lewis Lavon Peacock, filed a claim on behalf of his son James T. Peacock, who died on Feb. 2, 1863 while serving with the Third Alabama.

May 6, 1863 - A nine-day Federal operation between the White and St. Francis Rivers, Ark. began. A Federal operation between Bowling Green, Ky. to the Tennessee state line began. Skirmishes were fought at Warrenton, Va. and at West Union, West Virginia.

May 6, 1864 - In the opening battle in the biggest campaign of the Civil War, Union and Confederate troops continued their desperate struggle in the Wilderness forest in Virginia. General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union forces, had joined George Meade’s Army of the Potomac to encounter Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the tangled Wilderness forest near Chancellorsville, the site of Lee’s brilliant victory the year before. The fighting was intense, and raging fires that consumed the dead and wounded magnified the horror of battle. But little was gained in the confused attacks by either side. In two days, the Union lost 17,000 men to the Confederates’ 11,000. This was nearly one-fifth of each army.

May 6, 1864 – A number of the members of the Conecuh Guards were killed or wounded on this day during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. Augustus Johnston and Newton Snowden were killed in the battle. 2nd Lt. John S. Stearns, 2nd Sgt. Alfred H. Floyd, 3rd Cpl. James Robertson, M.A. Cooper, Henry C. Chapman and Stephen Quinley were wounded. Stearns, who was also wounded in Knoxville, Tenn. in November 1863, died in 1880. Floyd lost a leg due to the wounds he received at the Wilderness, was honorably discharged and later moved to Texas. Chapman was placed on the retired list and moved to Texas after the war. Cooper and Quinley also moved to Texas after the war.

May 6, 1864 – Lt. Col. Hilary Abner Herbert of Greenville, Ala. received a severe, disabling wound in his left arm at the Battle of the Wilderness. He would go on to serve as a U.S. Representative from Alabama’s Second Congressional District and as Secretary of the Navy under Grover Cleveland.

May 6, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought with Indians near Boynton’s Prairie, Calif.; at Tampa, Fla.; at Tunnel Hill, Ga.; in the vicinity of Morganfield, Ky.; at Bayou Lamourie, at Boyce’s Plantation, in the Calcasieu Pass, Napoleonville and at Well’s Plantation, La.; near Bloomfield, Mo.; near City Point, Port Walthall Junction and Chester Station, Va.; and at Princeton, West Virginia. A five-day Federal operation between Patterson, Mo. and Cherokee Bay, Ark. began.

May 6, 1865 – During the Civil War, Federal reconnaissance was conducted from Richmond to Staunton and Charlottesville, Va.

May 6, 1868 – French journalist and novelist Gaston Leroux was born in Paris.

May 6, 1889 – The Eiffel Tower officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition in Paris.

May 6, 1899 – The “Spanish Evacuation Centennial” was held at St. Stephens, Ala., which at the time was only a wilderness with a few overgrown ruins. 

May 6, 1901 – The dispensation (organizational) meeting for Repton Mason Lodge No. 575 was held in Repton, Ala.

May 6, 1903 - The Chicago White Sox committed 12 errors against the Detroit Tigers.

May 6, 1907 – Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Weeb Ewbank was born in Richmond, Indiana. He went on to coach the Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.

May 6, 1914 – Poet and critic Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tenn.

May 6, 1915 – Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisc.

May 6, 1915 – The Monroe Journal reported that “beginning the first week in May, merchants of the city began observance of the rule of six o’clock closing, except on Saturdays, thus affording proprietors and employees an opportunity for needed recreation.”

May 6, 1915 – Babe Ruth hit his first Major League home run while pitching for the Boston Red Sox. The game was also his pitching debut.

May 6, 1915 – The Monroe Journal reported that Monroeville city officials were having the downtown square enclosed to prevent damage to the surface by vehicles. The square had recently been graded and the surrounding walks “nicely graveled.”

May 6, 1920 - Dramatist William Berney was born in Birmingham, Ala.

May 6, 1925 - Ty Cobb hit his fifth home run in only two games. The feat tied Cap Anson's record in 1884.

May 6, 1929 - The American League announced that it would discontinue the MVP award.

May 6, 1931 – National Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays was born in Westfield, just outside of Bessemer, Ala. He went on to play for the New York/San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.

May 6, 1934 - The Boston Red Sox hit a record of four consecutive triples.

May 6, 1935 – As part of the “New Deal,” Executive Order 7034 createed the Works Progress Administration.

May 6, 1937 - The German zeppelin Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Thirty-six people were killed.

May 6, 1938 – The Panama City Pels baseball team beat the Evergreen Greenies, 12-0, in Panama City on this Friday night.

May 6, 1940 – John Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”

May 6, 1946 - The New York Yankees became the first Major League Baseball team to travel by plane.

May 6, 1954 – Roger Bannister became the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.

May 6, 1957 - U.S. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book "Profiles in Courage.”

May 6, 1957 - Alabama journalist Buford Boone of The Tuscaloosa News was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Reporting for his editorials on segregation.

May 6, 1967 – Army PFC Bobby Waits Cameron of Hayden in Butler County, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.

May 6, 1970- Hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation shut down as thousands of students joined a nationwide campus protest. The protests were a reaction to the shooting of four students at Kent State University by National Guardsmen during a campus demonstration about President Nixon’s decision to send U.S. and South Vietnamese troops into Cambodia. 

May 6, 1972 - The remnants of South Vietnam’s 5th Division at An Loc continued to receive daily artillery battering from the communist forces surrounding the city as reinforcements fought their way from the south up Highway 13. The South Vietnamese had been under heavy attack since the North Vietnamese had launched their Nguyen Hue Offensive on March 30. The communists had mounted a massive invasion of South Vietnam with 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles.

May 6, 1975 – Three armed men robbed the Union Bank of Castleberry, Ala. around noon and got away with about $6,400.

May 6, 1981 – A jury of architects and sculptors unanimously selected Maya Ying Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from 1,421 other entries.

May 6, 1983 – The “Hitler Diaries” were revealed as a hoax after examination by experts.

May 6, 1989 – The Third Annual Strawberry Festival was held in Castleberry, Ala. and “several thousand” visitors attended the event. In the five-mile run, Alan Ash was the top male finisher with a time of 30:16.03, and Dale Ash was to the top women’s finisher with a time of 36:09.30. In the three-mile run, Eddie Barton was the top male finisher, running the race in 18:09.30, and Melissa Denbow was the top female finisher, running the distance in 19:46.45.

May 6, 1992 - Anthony Young of the New York Mets began a losing streak of 26 games.

May 6, 1994 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and French President Fran├žois Mitterrand officiated at the opening of the Channel Tunnel, the tunnel under the English Channel that links England and France.

May 6, 1994 – Episode No. 23 of “The X-Files” – entitled “Roland” – aired for the first time.

May 6, 1996 – The body of former CIA director William Colby was found washed up on a riverbank in southern Maryland, eight days after he disappeared.

May 6, 1996 - The television program “My Son Is Innocent,” teleplay by Alabama author Robert Inman and Philip Rosenberg, was broadcast.

May 6, 1998 – Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros to tie the major league record held by Roger Clemens. He threw a one-hitter and did not walk a batter in his fifth career start.

May 6, 2005 – James Leroy Stacey of Frisco City died at the age of 80 at Monroe County Hospital in Monroeville, Ala.

May 6, 2005 - The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer was given to Alabama author Andrew Hudgins at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, Ala.


May 6, 2010 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts passed away at the age of 83 in Temple Terrace, Fla. During his playing career, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Baltimore Orioles, the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., May 6, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.60 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  0.60 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 8.10 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 21.45 inches

Notes: Today in the 127th day of 2016 and the 48th day of Spring. There are 239 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

100-year-old news highlights from The Conecuh Record from May 1916

It’s that time of the month again, time to take a trip down memory lane and review all of the interesting things that took place in Conecuh County 100 years ago, way back in May 1916.

In the May 4, 1916 edition of The Conecuh Record, editor J. C. Whitcomb reported, under the headline “David Price Found Dead,” that “Mr. David Price was found dead in his home at Castleberry last Thursday afternoon at three o’clock by Mr. J.G. Rainer. Mr. Price had been missing several days and the last time he was seen on Friday afternoon April 21st. He had been living alone and being missed, Mr. Rainer went to his home to investigate, found the windows barred and after making his way into the house found that Mr. Price had been dead several days and his body already partly decayed so that it was necessary to have the house fumigated before entering.”

Also that week, Whitcomb reported that “Mr. George W. Brooks, one of Conecuh County’s oldest citizens, died at his home, three miles north of Evergreen last Sunday morning after a long illness. Mr. Brooks was one of the best known men in this section, having been in the wood business for the past 20 years or more his business brought him in contact with all classes of people. He was a great friend of the small boys who delighted to ride with him on his wagon and to assist him in unloading his wood.”

In the May 11, 1916 edition of The Record, it was reported that the “home of Mr. J.O. Rainer of Castleberry was destroyed with all contents by fire yesterday morning at 2:30 o’clock. When the fire was discovered the roof was falling in and it was impossible to save anything. Mr. Rainer and family had gone to Foley on a visit and no one was in the house at the time. It is supposed a spark from a passing locomotive started the fire. The loss is partially covered by insurance.”

That week’s paper also included the following obituary – “Mrs. Fanny Whitcomb died here at an early hour last Friday morning at the home of her son, J.C. Whitcomb, on Main Street. Mrs. Whitcomb was the oldest woman in Evergreen, being about 83 years of age, and much beloved by the entire community.

“The deceased was the widow of the late H.J. Whitcomb and before her marriage was Miss Fanny Chapman of Lancaster, New Hampshire. In 1865, Mr. and Mrs. Whitcomb moved from New Hampshire to Chicago, where they made their home until about 15 years ago, when they moved to Evergreen. The Whitcombs were among the first northern people to spend the winters in Evergreen and the largest tourist hotel, ‘Hotel Whitcomb,’ which burned some years ago, was named for Mr. H.J. Whitcomb. Deceased is survived by one son, J.C. Whitcomb, editor of this paper.

“After religious services, conducted by Dr. Dickinson at the home, Mrs. Whitcomb was laid to rest by the side of her husband in the Evergreen Cemetery at 10 o’clock Saturday morning.”

That week’s paper also included a large advertisement, submitted by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad – “U.C.V. Reunion at Birmingham, Ala., May 16 to 18, $3.85 Round Trip from Evergreen, Ala. Tickets sold May 13 to 17, Limit May 25, Extension Limit June 14, Low Side Trip Fares, For Complete Information See or Address C. Hawkins, Agent; C.H. Mann, D.P.A., Pensacola, Fla.”

In the May 18, 1916 edition of The Record, Whitcomb reported that the “Evergreen Equal Suffrage Association was organized on last Wednesday with a membership of about 20. Miss Mary Henderson was elected chairman of the association and Mrs. Lewis Crook chairman of the registration committee.

“On last Tuesday the Castleberry Equal Suffrage Association was organized at Castleberry with Mrs. S. Castleberry as chairman.

“These associations will be affiliated with the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, which is in turn affiliated with the National Equal Suffrage Association. Both organizations were effected under the direction of Miss Lola C. Trax, National Organizer of Baltimore, who is touring Alabama under the auspices of the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association.”

Also in that week’s paper, it was reported that the “second annual commencement of the Conecuh County High School at Castleberry will be held next week. An interesting program has been arranged for Sunday morning and church services will be held on Sunday at seven o’clock in the evening. The exercises will begin on May 21st and continue through the 25th.”

The May 25, 1916 edition of The Record included a large advertisement about upcoming graduation exercises at the county’s only other high school – “Senior Class Exercises of the Second District Agricultural School, Tues., May 30, 1916, 8:00 o’clock p.m.; Freshman Class Song; History of Class Trials, Joe Lundy, assisted by Senior Class; First Senior Class Song; Class Prophecy, Mae Chapman and Members of the Class, (a) Tingle-ingleing from High Jinks…Rudolph Friml; (b) A Merry Life… Denza; Girls Glee Club, Presentation to the Junior Class of the Key of Knowledge, Mamie Lou Smith; Response, Mamie Bates; Junior Class Song, Senior Farewell Song.”

Also that week, in news from the Brooklyn community, it was reported that “Messrs. G.R. Boulware, J.L. Williamson, John Stamps and H.A. Chambless attended the U.C.V. Reunion at Birmingham last week and report a most enjoyable trip. Mr. Boulware was accompanied home by Mr. W.R. Hodges and his son, Dr. R.H. Hodges of Texas, who will spend some time with relatives and friends in this vicinity. Mr. Hodges was born and reared near Brooklyn but shortly after his return from the army, with which he served during the Civil War, he moved to the state of Texas, where he has since resided and prospered.”

Elsewhere in that week’s paper, it was reported that “Clarence Hawkins surprised his many friends when he returned from the U.C.V. reunion at Birmingham accompanied by Mrs. Hawkins. No one suspected that he contemplated matrimony, even in the remote future, but everyone is congratulating him on his good fortune in winning such a charming lady for his life-partner. Mrs. Hawkins was Miss Corinne Schwaemmie of Mobile. The Records joins their many friends in extending good wishes for their future happiness.”

Also that week, readers learned that “Robt. H. Jones, Esq., is in Montgomery this week attending the Knights of Phythias Lodge.”


Well, I guess that’s all that space will allow for this month. Next month, I plan to take a look at the events of June 1916 in Conecuh County. Until then, if you get the urge to research the county’s past yourself, take advantage of the Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library’s excellent selection of old newspapers on microfilm and other resources. The library’s friendly and courteous staff will be more than happy to get you started.

The 'Clown Prince of Baseball' visited Brewton, Alabama 76 years ago today

Alexander "Al" Schacht
The first full month of the Major League Baseball season is in the books and what’s transpired so far doesn’t bode well for fans of the Atlanta Braves.

As of Monday morning, the Braves had the worst record in the Major Leagues, having gone 6-18 since the start of the regular season on April 4. This includes a nine-game losing streak to open the season and an eight-game losing skid between April 20 and April 27.

To add insult to injury, while most teams play better at home, this hasn’t been the case so far for the Braves. To date, they were 1-12 at Turner Field with a 5-6 record on the road. Almost needless to say, they’re in last place in the NL East with a 3-9 mark against division opponents.

All of this begs the question: How much longer will it be before the bigwigs in the front office fire manager Fredi González? Who will they get to take his place? Is this season a lost cause already?
Only time will tell, but at this point things don’t look good for the Braves.

----- 0 -----

A little closer to home, the three Minor League teams within a short drive from Evergreen were doing better than the Braves, some better than others. As of Monday morning, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos were 14-11 overall, and the Montgomery Biscuits were 13-10 overall. The Mobile Bay Bears, who are celebrating their 20th year in the Port City, were 8-15 overall.

All three of these teams compete in the 10-team Southern League, which is separated into North and South divisions. The Wahoos, who are affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds, were in second place in the South division, and the Biscuits, who are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays, were in second place in the North Division. The Bay Bears, who are affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, are in last place in the South, behind the 9-15 Mississippi Braves.

----- 0 -----

If you look over in the Sports Flashback feature for this week, you’ll see where Al Schacht, aka the “Clown Prince of Baseball,” was scheduled to appear in Brewton 76 years ago (on May 5, 1940) during a Minor League baseball game between Brewton and Tallassee.

Schacht, who pitched two seasons for the Washington Senators between 1919 and 1921, was a big deal in his heyday and was known for attracting big crowds with his famous baseball-themed comedy routine. Born in New York City in 1892, he would have been 47 years old by the time of his visit to Brewton. He also went on to live well beyond his trip to our area, living to the ripe old age of 91 before passing away on July 14, 1984 in Waterbury, Conn.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, in the days before every home had a television, local ballparks provided a lot of entertainment to communities like Brewton and Evergreen. The owners of these parks and local teams would often go to great lengths to attract big crowds, which explains why someone like Schacht ended up in Brewton. After all, the bigger the crowd, the bigger the ticket sales, a portion of which likely went to Schacht during his visit to Brewton.

Today in History for May 5, 2016

May 5, 1494 – During his second trip to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Jamaica and claimed it for Spain. He named the island Santa Gloria.

May 5, 1776 - In North Carolina, British Lieutenant General Henry Clinton issued a proclamation denouncing the Patriots’ “wicked rebellion” and recommended that the inhabitants of North Carolina return their allegiance to the king. He offered full pardon to all persons, except Continental Army Brigadier General Robert Howe and North Carolina Patriot Cornelius Harnett.

May 5, 1799 – U.S. Army Lieutenant John McClary (McLeary) and soldiers of the 2nd U.S. Infantry, after marching from Natchez, took possession of Fort St. Stephens from the Spanish and the United States flag was raised for the first time on soil that would eventually belong to Alabama.

May 5, 1813 - Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard was born in Copenhagen.

May 5, 1819 – William Cato (William Barrett Travis’ father-in-law) settled near the present day city limits of Monroeville, Ala. He was born in Downing Creek, N.C. in 1780. He was the head of several families that moved from Claiborne to the area that became known as Centerville and, later, Monroeville. His settlement predated the establishment of the Walker’s Tavern. Cato married Sarah Massey and they had one daughter, Rosanna Elizabeth Cato, 1812-1848, the wife of William Barrett Travis.

May 5, 1822 – Butler County, Ala. commissioners appointed this day as the day for laying out the town of Buttsville (present-day Greenville) and locating the courthouse.

May 5, 1843 – Richard Francis Burton passed the regimental exam for Hindustani.

May 5, 1859 – St. James Episcopal Church of Claiborne, Ala., now located on Whetstone Street in Monroeville, was organized and admitted to the Diocesan Convention. The church’s first place of worship was the lower floor of Claiborne’s Masonic Hall.

May 5, 1861 – During the Civil War, security around Washington City was a constant worry for the United States for very nearly the entire war. Troops to protect the government were now being brought in by ship, as the rail lines were either in Confederate hands or in constant danger from partisan saboteurs. On this day, General Benjamin Butler improved the situation somewhat by capturing the Railroad Relay House on the B&O line. This effectively secured the line from Washington, through Annapolis, to Baltimore.

May 5, 1861 – During the Civil War, Alexandria, Va. was abandoned by Virginia state troops. Fort Arbuckle and Fort Cobb, in the Indian Territory, were also abandoned by Federal forces.

May 5, 1862 - Mexican forces defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla. In a David-and-Goliath confrontation, the 8,000-strong, well-armed French army was routed by 4,000 ill-equipped Mexican soldiers, and though it wasn't a decisive battle in the course of the war, it became a symbol of Mexican pride.

May 5, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Dresden, Ky. and at Lebanon, Tenn.

May 5, 1862 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Williamsburg was fought in Virginia.

May 5, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Sherwood, Mo.; at Big Sandy Creek, Miss.; at King’s Creek, near Tupelo, Miss.; at Peletier’s Mill, N.C.; at Obion Plank Road Crossing, Tenn.; at Rover, Tenn.; and at Thompson’s Crossroads, Va.

May 5, 1863 - As morning dawned on this day, General Robert E. Lee prepared to launch another attack on Hooker’s Union army, but found that they were in full retreat across the Rappahannock and cancelled the plan. Both sides had more than enough to do in treating the wounded, burying the dead, and tallying the survivors. In three days of battle in Fredericksburg and around the Chancellor house the bloodshed had been horrific: from an army of 134,000 the Union had suffered around 17,000 casualties. The southern losses were lower in numbers but higher in percent - 12,800 out of an army of 60,000, including the irreplaceable “Stonewall” Jackson. He was on injured reserve after surgeons decided the wound in his shoulder was so severe as to require amputation of the limb.

May 5, 1864 – After remaining a private in Co. D for most of the Civil War, Lewis Lavon Peacock, was promoted to Fourth Corporal "no doubt for service in the Bermuda Hundred campaign, where the 59th so distinguished itself."

May 5, 1864 – During the Civil War, the forces of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee clashed in the Wilderness forest in Virginia, beginning an epic campaign. Lee had hoped to meet the Federals, who plunged into the tangled Wilderness west of Chancellorsville, Va., the day before, in the dense woods in order to mitigate the nearly two-to-one advantage Grant possessed as the campaign opened.

May 5, 1864 – Journalist Nellie Bly was born in Armstrong County, Pa.

May 5, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near the mouth of Richland Creek in Arkansas; near Tunnel Hill, Ga.; and at Graham’s Plantation and a Natchitoches, La. A naval skirmish was also fought on the Roanoke River, N.C.

May 5, 1864 - Federal forces landed at Bermuda Hundred and City Point (now Hopewell), Va. A five-day Federal operation in Craighead and Lawrence Counties, Ark. began. Federal operation in Meade and Breckinridge Counties, Ky. began.

May 5, 1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S.

May 5, 1865 – In North Bend, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati), the first train robbery in the United States took place.

May 5, 1865 – During the Civil War, an eight-day Federal operation between Pulaski, Tenn. and New Market, Ala. began.

May 5, 1865 – During the Civil War, the Confederate District of the Gulf surrendered about 4,000 men at Citronelle, Alabama.

May 5, 1865 – During the Civil War, the Confederate government was declared dissolved at Washington, Georgia.

May 5, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Summerville, Ga. and in the Perche Hills of Missouri.

May 5, 1866 – Memorial Day was first celebrated in United States at Waterloo, New York.

May 5, 1884 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Chief Bender was born in Crow Wing County, Minnesota. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Athletics, the Baltimore Terrapins, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953.

May 5, 1885 - The Third Regiment, Alabama State Troops, was formed in Selma on this Tuesday. Elected officers and noncommissioned officers included S.W. John of Selma, Colonel; W.E. Yancey of Talladega, Lieutenant Colonel; W.R. Oliver, Major; N.G. Winn, Adjutant; Z.J. White, Surgeon; T.F. Mangum Jr., Sergeant Major; Christian Laubeinheimer, Color Sergeant. Units registered in the regiment included the Talladega Rifles, the Morgan Rifles, the Pelham Guards, the Wilcox Greys, the Pelham Rifles, the Selma Guards and the Pettus Rifles.

May 5, 1890 – Novelist Christopher Morley was born in Haverford, Pa.

May 5, 1895 – On this Sunday afternoon in Monroeville, an out house near Judge Sowell’s residence “was discovered to be one fire, and but for the prompt arrival of assistance, the dwelling would have been consumed.”

May 5, 1895 - Mr. and Mrs. Jno. I. Watson departed for Mobile on this Sunday on the steamer Nettie Quill. They returned on May 8, a Wednesday.

May 5, 1904 – Pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, Cy Young of the Boston Americans threw the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball. It was the third perfect game of the Major Leagues overall.

May 5, 1905 – Former Marengo County (Ala.) Probate Judge S.B. Prowell (possibly Powell) shot and instantly killed J.S. Trigg, an intimate friend, at Linden on this Friday. Prowell was angry over a report charging Prowell with an “extensive shortage.” Trigg was trying to restrain Prowell during an argument, and Prowell dropped a pistol, which went off, killing Trigg. (Trigg's tombstone in the Old Spring Hill Methodist Cemetery in Marengo County, Ala. indicates that his first name was John and that he actually died on May 4, 1905.)

May 5, 1905 – The train between Pine Apple and Beatrice, Ala. wrecked on this Friday. The same train wrecked again the following day, a Saturday.

May 5, 1910 - An explosion at Palos Coal Mine No. 3 in Jefferson County, Ala. killed 84 miners. At the time it was the second-worst mine disaster in Alabama history, and it followed on the heels of a mine explosion at nearby Mulga that killed 40 miners. The Palos tragedy also marked the first time that the Red Cross led a disaster relief effort in Alabama.

May 5, 1913 - A movie version of Alabama author Mary McNeil Fenollosa's book “The One Hundred Dollar Elopement” was released.

May 5, 1914 – Early that mornng, the Negro Baptist Church near the orphanage in Evergreen, Ala. burned down. The fire was discovered around 4 a.m. and was a total loss. Arson was suspected as the cause.

May 5, 1916 - Fanny Whitcomb died in Evergreen, Ala. at an early hour on this Friday morning at the home of her son, J.C. Whitcomb, on Main Street. She was the oldest woman in Evergreen, being about 83 years of age, and was “much beloved by the entire community.” She was the widow of the late H.J. Whitcomb and before her marriage was Miss Fanny Chapman of Lancaster, New Hampshire. In 1865, Mr. and Mrs. Whitcomb moved from New Hampshire to Chicago, where they made their home until about 1901, when they moved to Evergreen. The Whitcombs were among the first northern people to spend the winters in Evergreen and the largest tourist hotel, ‘Hotel Whitcomb,’ which burned some years prior to 1916, was named for Mr. H.J. Whitcomb. At the time of her death, she was survived by one son, J.C. Whitcomb, editor of The Conecuh Record. After religious services, conducted by Dr. Dickinson at her home, Mrs. Whitcomb was laid to rest by the side of her husband in the Evergreen Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Sat., May 6.

May 5, 1918 – The cornerstone for the new industrial school for Negroes at Evergreen, Ala. was scheduled to be lain during a ceremony that was to include an address by Major R.R. Moton, who was head of the Tuskegee Institute. Morton was the successor to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee.

May 5, 1940 - Al Schacht, Clown Prince of Baseball and sometimes self-styled Baseball’s Goodwill Ambassador, was booked to appear in Brewton, Ala. on this Sunday afternoon before a game with Tallassee. Schacht, billed as Public Laughmaker No. 1 and also Baseball’s Greatest Drawing Card, had broken more than 150 attendance records in the previous three years. During his third season as a traveling baseball clown, 1939, Schacht traveled 50,000 miles, showing in 111 cities and towns, from Coast to Coast, in 40 leagues, adding over a half-million paid admissions to the minor league attendance for 1939.

May 5, 1945 - A Japanese balloon bomb exploded on Gearhart Mountain in Oregon, killing the pregnant wife of a minister and five children.

May 5, 1946 – Evergreen’s baseball team was scheduled to play Milton, Fla. in Evergreen on this Sunday at 3 p.m.

May 5, 1947 - Alabama journalist Eddy Gilmore of the Associated Press was awarded the Pulitizer Prize for Telegraphic Reporting (International) for his correspondence from Moscow in 1946.

May 5, 1958 - Alabama author James Agee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his book “A Death in the Family.

May 5, 1962 – Senegalese explorer, author, and director Nicolas Vanier was born in Senegal.

May 5, 1965 – The Warlocks, later known as The Grateful Dead, made their first public appearance in Menlo Park, California.

May 5, 1970- In Cambodia, a U.S. force captured Snoul, 20 miles from the tip of the “Fishhook” area (across the border from South Vietnam, 70 miles from Saigon). A squadron of nearly 100 tanks from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and jet planes virtually leveled the village that had been held by the North Vietnamese. No dead North Vietnamese soldiers were found, only the bodies of four Cambodian civilians. This action was part of the Cambodian “incursion” that had been launched by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces on April 29.

May 5, 1972 - South Vietnamese troops from the 21st Division, trying to reach beleaguered An Loc in Binh Long Province via Highway 13, were again pushed back by the communists, who had overrun a supporting South Vietnamese firebase. The South Vietnamese division had been trying to break through to An Loc since mid-April, when the unit had been moved from its normal area of operations in the Mekong Delta and ordered to attack in order to relieve the surrounded city. The South Vietnamese soldiers fought desperately to reach the city, but suffered so many casualties in the process that another unit had to be sent to actually relieve the besieged city, which was accomplished on June 18.

May 5, 1978 - Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds registered his 3,000th Major League hit.

May 5, 1985 – Ronald Reagan visited the military cemetery at Bitburg, Germany, and the site of the Nazi concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen, where he made a speech.

May 5, 2000 - The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer was given to Alabama author Helen Norris at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, Ala.

May 5, 2000 - An unusual planetary alignment occurred on this day with Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn more or less positioned in a line with the Sun. Though some predicted it, this event did not herald the end of the world.


May 5, 2006 - The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer was given to Alabama author Wayne Greenhaw at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, Ala.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., May 5, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.60 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  0.60 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 8.10 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 21.45 inches

Notes: Today in the 126th day of 2016 and the 47th day of Spring. There are 240 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 276: Watch “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962)

One of the most iconic Western movies of all time is “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” I’d heard about this movie for as long as I can remember, but for whatever reason, I’d never watched it. For that reason, I put this movie on my “bucket list” several years ago and finally got around to watching it from start to finish last Saturday.

Released in theaters on April 22, 1962, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” was directed by Hollywood legend John Ford, and the cast included John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin and others. Jimmy Stewart play a young lawyer who has moved West to seek opportunities on the frontier, and he soon finds himself in the small town of Shinbone and at odds with local bad guy, Liberty Valance. Before it’s all said and done, the young lawyer teams up with Tom Doniphon (Wayne’s character) and they handle notorious Liberty Valance.

I got a big kick out of this movie because in a lot of ways it’s a movie about newspapers. The movie begins with Stewart’s character, who is a much older successful politician, giving a big interview to the Shinbone newspaper. The movie proceeds as one long flashback as he weaves his tale for a group of hometown reporters and editors.

During the meet of the tale, which takes place decades earlier, Stewart, who is new at being a lawyer also works as a reporter for the Shinbone newspaper. One of the movie’s main characters is his boss, newspaper Dutton Peabody (played by Edmond O’Brien), and one of the biggest moments of the movie occurs when Valance’s gang trashes the newspaper office and nearly beats Peabody to death. I hesitate to say much more for fear of giving away too much for those who have yet to see this film.

You’ll find “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” on a number of “best of” lists, which is one of the reasons I’ve wanted to watch it for so long. In 2010, IGN ranked this movie No. 10 on a list they called IGN Top 25 Westerns of All Time, and American Movie Classics ranked it No. 2 on a list called AMC’s Greatest Westerns. The film was also selected in 2007 for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

I was also interested to learn that “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” movie was based on a 1953 short story Dorothy M. Johnson. However, I think it’s worth noting that the movie’s screenplay was written by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck. Oddly, for two writers of such a famous Western, Bellah and Goldbeck were both natives of New York City.

Johnson, who was born in Iowa in 1905, is also well known for her short story, “The Man Called Horse,” which was also made into a major motion picture. Johnson also wrote two novels, but I have to admit that I’ve never heard of them. They are “Buffalo Woman” (1977) and “All the Buffalo Returning” (1979).

 In the end, how many of you have watched “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”? What did you think about it? What other Western movies would you recommend watching? Let us know in the comments section below.