Thursday, December 8, 2016

'Jackson County Giant' reported in July 1877 Alabama newspaper story

Col. John Snodgrass and wife.
There has been much discussion in recent months of reported Bigfoot sightings in Conecuh County and elsewhere in Southwest Alabama.

Bigfoot reports in our neck of the woods are apparently a relatively new thing, that is, I’ve yet to find any reports of anything remotely like a Bigfoot in all my searches through old newspapers.

However, reports of strange, Bigfoot-like creatures elsewhere in Alabama are nothing new.

A week or so ago, Steve Stacey of Monroeville, a renowned local historian, sent me an interesting item that was reprinted in the Summer 1980 edition of Alabama Life magazine.

In a section called “Footnotes from Alabama History” by A.J. Wright, that magazine contained a very interesting story about a Bigfoot-like creature under the headline “Alabama’s Goliath.”

According to that article, the July 6, 1877 edition of the Huntsville Advocate newspaper reported on what was then called “the most wonderful creature ever seen in Alabama.”

That story went on to say that a Col. John Snodgrass and a Dr. Payne were returning to Scottsboro from a fishing trip near Bellefonte in Jackson County when they discovered a trail of “immense human tracks.” Snodgrass and Payne were amazed by these tracks and went on to describe them to the Rev. R.D. Shook in Scottsboro.

Shook and another man named Caldwell returned to the tracks with a measuring tape and determined that each track was 34 inches long and 14 inches wide. The creature’s stride was also said to have been long enough to cross seven rows of cotton.

“Word of the monster spread quickly,” the article said. “And within a few days a group of 300 men set out to capture the huge man creating such a stir in the area.”

The search party, which included 500 dogs, eventually trapped the creature against a bluff, but he somehow managed to escape.

“The dogs and men took up the chase until the giant wedged himself into a narrow gulch,” the article said. “The members of the expedition promptly tied him up and with a great effort dragged him into an open area.”

The search party then used a measuring tape to determine that the “monster” was 21 feet tall. Its arms were also eight feet long and its fingers were 14 inches long.

“His beard was six feet in length, he possessed a head the size of a flour barrel and his eyes, which opened perpendicularly, were as big as cantaloupes,” the article said.

While the group of captors stood around trying to decide what to do with the creature, the monster “snapped the ropes that bound him as if they were cords; and leaping over the heads of 40 men and three horses, headed for the river. He was last seen crossing at Bellefonte, thus ending the incredible story of the Jackson County giant.”

Stacey went on to tell me that the community of Bellefonte is east of U.S. Highway 72, northeast of Scottsboro.

“It is located on a small bay of Guntersville Lake created when the Tennessee River was dammed,” Stacey said. “The area is sparsely populated and several wildlife management areas are nearby, and it is 20 miles north of Bucks Pocket, a scene of reported creature sightings although not described as this large.”

In the end, it’s hard to say if the creature described above was a Bigfoot, but it sounds like there were definite similarities. As always, if anyone out there in the reading audience has a local Bigfoot sighting to report, please let me know. You can contact me by e-mail at or by phone at 578-1492.

Drew Skipper claims top honors in local college football pick 'em contest

If you take a close look at the Sparta Academy basketball results for this week, you might notice something unusual that doesn’t happen every day. In fact, I’ve been writing basketball stories for over 16 years, and I can’t ever remember seeing this exact situation arise before.

On Tuesday of last week, Sparta’s varsity and junior varsity teams traveled to Montgomery for four games against Eastwood Christian School. In three of those games, three siblings led Sparta in scoring, a rare situation to say the least.

Grayson Weaver, the youngest of the Weaver kids at Sparta, led Sparta’s JV boys against Eastwood with a team-high 13 points. In the varsity girls game that followed, Grayson’s older sister, Gaby Weaver, led the Lady Warriors in scoring with a team-best 25 total points. Later that night, in the varsity boys game against Eastwood, the oldest of the Weaver kids, Griffin Weaver, led the Warriors in scoring with a team-high 20 points.

It’s somewhat unusual to have three siblings on three different teams at the same time at Sparta, but it’s a rare day indeed when three siblings lead three different teams in scoring on the same night. I think it’s also worth pointing out that all three of the Weaver kids accounted for a combined 41 percent of the total scoring in all three of those games.

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Our annual ESPN College Football Pick ‘Em Contest came to a close on Saturday, and we now officially have a new “Mr. Football.” When the dust settled after Saturday’s slate of games, the final standings showed that local football expert Drew Skipper was in sole possession of the No. 1 spot.

In all, Skipper bested 40 other local contestants by correctly picking the outcomes of 98 percent of the games over a 14-week period during the college football season. If you see Skipper out on the street this week be sure to congratulate him on his performance in the contest. He’s got bragging rights for one whole year, and I hope he decides to defend his title next season.

Steve Stacey finished in the second place, just seven points behind Skipper. Past Champion Ricky Taylor finished in third place, and Courant Publisher Robert Bozeman came in fourth.

Justin Chandler and Travis Presley tied for the fifth-place spot. Past Champion Hunter Norris finished in seventh place, and I came in eighth. Casey Grant finished in the No. 9 spot, and Eric Talbot rounded out the Top 10.

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Auburn fans in the reading audience will be interested to know that today – Dec. 8 – is the 31st birthday of Major League Baseball third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was born on this day in 1985 in Pensacola, Fla.

Donaldson graduated from Faith Academy in Mobile and went on to play baseball at Auburn University. As a Major Leaguer, he has played for the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays and was named the American League MVP in 2015.

I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but I’d love to see Donaldson in a Braves uniform because after last season they need all the help they can get.

Today in History for Dec. 8, 2016

Major General Frank Blair Jr.
Dec. 8, 65 BCE – Lyric poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known to English speakers as Horace, was born in Apulia, Italy.

Dec. 8, 1765 - Eli Whitney was born in Westborough, Mass. Whitney invented the cotton gin and developed the concept of mass-production of interchangeable parts.

Dec. 8, 1775 - Beginning on this day, Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Richard Montgomery led an American force in the siege of Quebec. The Americans hoped to capture the British-occupied city and with it win support for the American cause in Canada.

Dec. 8, 1776 - George Washington's retreating army in the American Revolution crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

Dec. 8, 1777 - General William Howe decided to return to the city of Philidelphia after two days of skirmishes north of the city. He made no further attacks on George Washington that winter.

Dec. 8, 1818 – Patrick W. Hayes became the second postmaster at Burnt Corn Spring, Ala., replacing the first postmaster, William James, who took the job on Oct. 27, 1817.

Dec. 8, 1821 – Sparta Academy in Conecuh County, Ala. was incorporated by state legislature, making it the second chartered private academy in the state.

Dec. 8-9, 1824 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette made official visits to the Senate and addressed the U.S. Congress at the House of Representatives.

Dec. 8, 1850 – The organizational charter was issued to Dean Masonic Lodge No. 112 at Brooklyn, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1850 - The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Mobile, Ala., was dedicated. The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid and blessed in November 1835. The foundations were in place by 1837, but the economic crisis known as the Panic of 1837 and a yellow fever epidemic in 1839 delayed progress. By the mid-1840s, the economy had improved and construction resumed, supported in part by generous contributions from the people of Mobile.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, the CSS Sumter captured the whaling vessel, the Eden Dodge, in the Atlantic Ocean.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Fishing Creek, near Somerset, Ky.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought in the vicinity of Dam No. 5 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, on the Potomac River, Va.

Dec. 8, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought close to Romney, West Va.

Dec. 8, 1861 - The American Bible Society, supported entirely by private donations from individuals and churches, released a remarkable report on this day. Less than a year from the time the War began, they were already to the point where they were printing, shipping and distributing more than 7,000 copies per day of the New Testament to soldiers in the field. A soldier was likely to carry two items of about the same size: his Testament and a pack of playing cards. One, however, was often found dropped on the field when fighting started. There was a common belief that going to meet one’s Maker with gambling paraphernalia on one’s person did not enhance the chances of the gates of Heaven opening. The counter-part of the American Bible Society, the Confederate States Bible Society, printed and shipped New Testaments from Augusta, Ga.

Dec. 8, 1862 – During the Civil War, a four-day Federal reconnaissance from Suffolk to the Blackwater River, Va. began, and a skirmish was fought at Zuni, Va.

Dec. 8, 1863 – Noah Dallas Peacock (Lewis Lavon Peacock’s older brother) was captured by the Union at Campbell’s Station, where he’d apparently been sent to recuperate after getting shot in the left leg during an engagement at Knoxville on Nov. 24. Noah was captured when the post was overrun by a detachment of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas’ Union forces.

Dec. 8, 1863 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln offered his conciliatory plan for reunification of the United States with his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. By this point in the Civil War, it was clear that Lincoln needed to make some preliminary plans for postwar reconstruction.

Dec. 8, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Scottsville, Ky.

Dec. 8, 1864 – The organizational charter was issued to Norris Masonic Lodge No. 301 in Brewton, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1864 - Being unable to muster anything near the manpower to directly give battle to Gen. William T. Sherman’s army as they marched from Atlanta to the Sea, desperation forced a resort to weapons both sides really considered illegal: buried “land torpedoes” which exploded when stepped on. What would today be called land mines were considered lawful to use around forts, but not in open roadways. After Sherman came across a young soldier who had had his foot blown off by such a mine, he confirmed an order by Maj. Gen. Frank Blair Jr. that Confederate prisoners should march in the lead to dig up these bombs. These men protested that they had not buried the bombs and had no idea where they might be. Sherman, blunt as ever, told them that if someone had to be blown up, he would rather it be them than his own men.

Dec. 8, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Tuscumbia, Mo.; at Hatcher’s Run, south of Petersburg, Va.; and near Bryan Courthouse and Ebenezer Creek, Ga.

Dec. 8, 1881 – Major Jeremiah Austill, a hero of the Canoe Fight of 1813, died in Clarke County, Ala. at the age of 86. (Some sources say he died in 1879.)

Dec. 8, 1886 – Mexican artist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato.

Dec. 8, 1894 – Cartoonist and writer James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio.

Dec. 8, 1897 – The organizational charter was issued to Carney Masonic Lodge No. 549 in Atmore, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1897 – English physician Doris Bell Collier was born in Manchester, England. Collier, who, in addition to carving out a successful private practice, also managed to write more than 40 mystery novels, short stories, and radio plays under the pseudonym of Josephine Bell. She was a founder of the Crime Writers’ Association, the British equivalent of the Mystery Writers of America organization.

Dec. 8, 1906 – Welsh novelist Richard Llewellyn was born in a suburb of London, England. He wrote 24 novels, but he is most famous for his first book, “How Green Was My Valley” (1939).

Dec. 8, 1908 - W.R. Blackwell visit The Monroe Journal on this Tuesday. Blackwell had just returned from attending the meeting of the Masonic Grand Lodge in Montgomery.

Dec. 8, 1909 – The organizational charter was issued to McKenzie Lodge No. 701 in McKenzie, Ala. (Butler County) and K.A. Mayer Lodge No. 703 in Pine Hill, Ala. (Wilcox County).

Dec. 8, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that J.T. Vann and his family had moved to Evergreen during the previous week from Monroeville and were occupying the E.C. Page home on Park Street.

Dec. 8, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that two more men had announced their candidacies for office in the upcoming election. They were W.C. Relfe and W.S. Oliver, and each was seeking the office of Conecuh County Tax Assessor.

Dec. 8, 1918 - A movie version of Alabama author Mary McNeil Fenollosa's book “The Strange Woman” was released.

Dec. 8, 1920 – Walter Solomon of Excel, Ala. allegedly killed Sherman English of Repton, Ala. Both men were taxis operators, and the killing appeared to have resulted during an argument over transporting a passenger.

Dec. 8, 1920 – The Rev. David J. Wright passed away at the age of 88. He was born in the Sepulga community in Conecuh County, Ala. on March 22, 1832. During the Civil War, he enlisted as a first lieutenant in the Third Georgia Regiment and was “shot down four times on battlefields and from these wounds was maimed for life.” At the time of his death, he had been a Masonic lodge member for 50 years.

Dec. 8, 1921 – The first issue of The Thomasville Times in Thomasville, Ala. was published.

Dec. 8, 1938 - Alabama author Zora Neale Hurston appeared on the radio program “The American School of the Air” to read folk stories from her book “Mules and Men.”

Dec. 8, 1939 – The Montgomery Advertiser released its sixth annual all-state high school football team. Sam Yarbrough of Monroeville, Ala. was named to the third team, and Calvin “Hop” Stevens of Monroeville was named as an honorable mention.

Dec. 8, 1940 - The Chicago Bears trounced the Washington Redskins in the National Football League (NFL) Championship by a score of 73-0, the largest margin of defeat in NFL history.

Dec. 8, 1941 - The United States entered World War II when it declared war against Japan. The act came one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Britain and Canada also declared war on Japan.

Dec. 8, 1941 – Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bob Brown was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He went on to play for Nebraska, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Dec. 8, 1943 - Jim Morrison of The Doors was born in Melbourne, Fla.

Dec. 8, 1943 – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and National Book Award winner James Tate was born in Kansas City, Mo.

Dec. 8, 1949 – Novelist Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, N.Y.

Dec. 8, 1951 – The Evergreen Junior Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Conecuh County Christmas Carnival held in Evergreen, Ala. on this Saturday “was a smashing success with an estimated 10,000 people coming to town for the festivities.” The day’s events climaxed with the big Carnival Parade, which featured the arrival of Santa Claus. Miss June Weaver of Castleberry was crowned Queen Joy by the previous year’s Queen, Miss Alice Fay (Petie) Sullivan also of Castleberry. Miss Patricia Hardin of Castleberry and Miss Glenda Potts of Evergreen were crowned Princess Gaity. “Creating considerable excitement” during the event “was the releasing of 20 guineas. Each of these guineas, except for one named “Foul Ball,” had certificates for a number of valuable prizes attached to it. The prizes went to the lucky ones catching the guineas.”

Dec. 8, 1951 – Nonfiction writer Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dec. 8, 1953 - Nelle Harper Lee left Monroeville on this Tuesday for her home in New York City after spending 10 days with her father, A.C. Lee, and Miss Alice Lee.

Dec. 8, 1953 – J.U. Blacksher’s basketball team won their second game of the season on this Tuesday night when they beat Excel, 52-42, in Excel. Frank Hadley, guard, led Blacksher wit 17 points. Sonny Baas and Jack Matchett, forwards, led Excel with 14 points each.

Dec. 8, 1954 - A dramatic version of Alabama author William March's book “The Bad Seed” opened on Broadway.

Dec. 8, 1958 – National Baseball Hall of Fame centerfielder and manager Tris Speaker died at the age of 70 in Lake Whitney, Texas. During his career, he played for the Boston Americans/Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics, and he also managed the Indians for seven seasons. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Dec. 8, 1959 – Orville Mack brought a mystifying item by The Evergreen Courant office described as a “chunk of black stuff” that was unearthed by a construction crew working on the new interstate highway between Chapman Road and Owassa, about three miles from Evergreen, Ala. A grader making a cut turned up the chunk 45 to 50 below the surface of the earth. It was black, shiny and “very brittle.” When heat was applied to it, it gave off “an odor smelling strongly of oil.” Examiners said it wasn’t coal, but others said that it might have been oil which seeped into a pocket and solidified. The chunk was put on display at The Courant for public viewing.

Dec. 8, 1962 - Workers of the International Typographical Union began striking and closed nine New York City newspapers. The strike lasted 114 days and ended April 1, 1963.

Dec. 8, 1965 - In some of the heaviest raids of the Vietnam War, 150 U.S. Air Force and Navy planes launched Operation Tiger Hound to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the lower portion of the Laotian panhandle, from Route 9 west of the Demilitarized Zone, south to the Cambodian border.

Dec. 8, 1966 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the Evergreen District of the Alabama Troopers had posted the best traffic safety record in the entire state during November and were presented with a trophy to mark the occasion. Troopers accepting the trophy included Troy Smith, Cpl. Charles Cargile, Sgt. Tom Melton, Tom Hall and Horace Parker. The post reported 85 accidents for the month with 40 persons suffering injuries in 28 of them. There were two fatalities, both in Conecuh County. Capt. A.G. Mitchell commanded the division.

Dec. 8, 1966 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Homer Faulkner, star Evergreen High School quarterback, had announced that he would sign a grant-in-aid with the University of Mississippi. Representatives of the University were to be in Evergreen on Dec. 11 to sign him. Faulkner, six feet five inches and 190 pounds, was “sought by a number of schools as his exploits on the field drew rave notices from college scouts.” Faulkner was the first Aggie to win a football scholarship since Wayne Frazier signed with Auburn. Faulkner was an outstanding punter, place-kicker and kickoff man in addition to handling the quarterback chores at Evergreen.

Dec. 8, 1966 - The International Red Cross announced in Geneva that North Vietnam had rejected a proposal by President Johnson for a resolution of the prisoner of war situation.

Dec. 8, 1969 - At a news conference, President Richard Nixon said that the Vietnam War was coming to a “conclusion as a result of the plan that we have instituted.” Nixon had announced at a conference in Midway in June that the United States would be following a new program he termed “Vietnamization.”

Dec. 8, 1971 – Russian geographer and explorer Ernst Krenkel died at the age of 67.

Dec. 8, 1976 – Major League Baseball outfielder Reed Johnson was born in Riverside, Calif. During his career, he played for the Toronto Blue Jayes, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves, the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals.

Dec. 8, 1976 – Actor Dominic Monaghan was born in Berlin, West Germany to British parents. He has received international attention from playing Meriadoc Brandybuck in Peter Jackson's epic film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” (2001–2003), and for his role as Charlie Pace on the television show “Lost” (2004–2010).

Dec. 8, 1978 - Gov. George C. Wallace announced the appointment of Alice Presley of Evergreen to serve as chairman of the Conecuh County Board of Registrars. The appointment represented, perhaps, one of the Governor’s last major appointments in Conecuh County prior to his leaving office in January 1979. Presley’s late husband, James Presley, was the founder of Presley Funeral Home, located on Knoxville Road in Evergreen, Ala.

Dec. 8, 1980 - In New York City, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon to death in front of The Dakota. Earlier in the day, Lennon had autographed an album for Chapman.

Dec. 8, 1981 – NFL quarterback Philip Rivers was born in Decatur, Ala. He went on to play for Athens High School, North Carolina State and the San Diego Chargers.

Dec. 8, 1981 - Emmie Mildred Pitts Cardwell, a “beloved lady” of Evergreen, Ala. died on this Tuesday in North Florida Regional Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. Cardwell was a member of a prominent, pioneer family and lived all of her life in Conecuh County. She attended Troy State Normal and taught in the public schools of Conecuh County for a number of years.

Dec. 8, 1982 - Norman D. Mayer held the Washington Monument hostage, demanding an end to nuclear war. He threatened to blow it up with explosives he claimed were in his van. After a 10-hour stand-off, he was shot to death by police; no explosives were found in the van.

Dec. 8, 1985 – Major League Baseball third baseman Josh Donaldson was born in Pensacola, Fla. Donaldson graduated from Faith Academy in Mobile and went on to play baseball at Auburn University. As a Major Leaguer, he has played for the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Dec. 8, 1993 - U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Dec. 8, 1995 - Courtney Love was interviewed by Barbara Walters for ABC's "10 Most Fascinating People of 1995." During the interview Love told Walters that she wished she had done "eight thousand million things" differently to prevent husband Kurt Cobain's death.

Dec. 8, 1999 - In Memphis, Tenn., a jury found that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been the victim of a vast murder conspiracy, not a lone assassin.

Dec. 8, 2009 – Bombings in Baghdad, Iraq killed 127 and injure 448. 

Dec. 8, 2015 -A UFO was reported around midnight on this Tuesday near the Mercedes manufacturing plant outside Tuscaloosa. The witnes and his wife were traveling west on Interstate Highway 20-59 when they saw a bright, white light just over the western horizon. This unusual light moved from south to north and eventually broke into a “smaller, ascending diamond, with the larger piece staying near level.” In all, this sighting lasted one to two seconds, the witness said.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., Dec. 8, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  3.00 inches

Fall to Date Rainfall: 5.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.00 inches

Notes: Today in the 342nd day of 2016 and the 77th day of Fall. There are 24 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, December 7, 2016

Wilcox County, Alabama will celebrate its 197th birthday on Tuesday

This coming Tuesday – December 13 – is a big day in the history of Wilcox County as it will mark the county’s 197th official birthday.

It was on Dec. 13, 1819 (one day before Alabama was officially admitted into the Union) that Wilcox County was created by an act of the Alabama territorial general assembly. Wilcox County was formed from portions of Monroe and Dallas counties, and its borders have remained relatively unchanged since that time.

As many of you know, the county was named after Joseph M. Wilcox, a 23-year-old Army lieutenant scalped and killed by hostile Creeks on Jan. 15, 1814. Wilcox was a native of Connecticut and a War of 1812 veteran. Most sources say that two days after his death, Wilcox was buried with full military honors at Fort Claiborne, which was located in present-day Monroe County.

Once Wilcox County was formed by the territorial general assembly, one of the first orders of business was to select a site for the county seat and courthouse. Men placed on the committee to pick a place for the county courthouse included early Wilcox County pioneers William Black, John Blackman, Robert Brown, Thornton Brown, Thomas Evans, John Gamble, John Jenkins, Elijah Lumsden, William McCarrell and John Speight.

Canton Bend (sometimes called Canton Bluff) was named the first, temporary county seat in 1819 and served in that capacity until 1832. Canton Bend, which even had a post office until 1909, is located on Highway 28 between present-day Camden and Millers Ferry. In 1832, the county seat was moved to a place called Barboursville, which changed its name to the more familiar Camden in 1841.

Wilcox County has gone through a long list of changes since 1819, and one is left to wonder what one of the county’s earliest residents would think about present-day Wilcox County. For one, the county’s population is about four times what it was when it was first formed. According to the 1820 census, Wilcox County had a population of 2,917 while the 2010 census reflected that the county’s population had grown to 11,670.

Another big difference between 1819 Wilcox County and 2016 Wilcox County has to do with the Alabama River. In the early 1800s, the river was a major transportation route used by large riverboats that transported passengers and goods from Montgomery to Mobile and all points in between. Nowadays, the river is primarily used for recreation and limited commercial purposes.

Early roads were unpaved roads developed as mail routes and for transportation between farms and the river. Modern roads and bridges would have looked like something out of some kind of unimaginable fantasy to the county’s earlier pioneers. Modern automobiles would have probably also thrown them for a loop as they’d never seen anything other than horses, mules and wagons.

In the end, it should be noted that Wilcox County is just three years away from its 200th birthday, and this is really a once-in-a-lifetime event for the county’s current residents. Most of us won’t be around to see the county’s 300th birthday, so we’d be wise to enjoy being on hand for the county’s bicentennial. 

Today in History for Dec. 7, 2016

General Leonard Covington
Dec. 7, 1598 – Italian sculptor Bernini was born Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini in Naples.

Dec. 7, 1775 - John Paul Jones received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy.

Dec. 7, 1775 - John Barry was appointed a Captain of the Continental Navy.

Dec. 7, 1776 - During his service as the Continental Congress' secret envoy to France, Silas Deane struck an agreement with French military expert, Baron Johann DeKalb, and his protege, the Marquis de Lafayette, to offer their military knowledge and experience to the American cause during the Revolutionary War. Deane also wrote to the U.S. Congress to ask that they ratify the commission of major general that he had promised Lafayette.

Dec. 7, 1776 - Patriots fired arrows over the city walls of Quebec City. The arrows had notes attached that demanded the surrender of Sir Guy Carleton.

Dec. 7, 1777 - British General William Howe engaged American forces on Edge Hill in Pennsylvania. American General Daniel Morgan retreated after an attack by General Charles Cornwallis' regiment.

Dec. 7, 1787 - Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution becoming the first state in the United States, doing so by unanimous vote.

Dec. 7, 1805 - Having spied the Pacific Ocean for the first time a few weeks earlier, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark crossed to the south shore of the Columbia River (near modern-day Portland) and began building the small fort that would be their winter home. For their fort, Lewis and Clark picked a site three miles up Netul Creek (now Lewis and Clark River), because it had a ready supply of elk and deer and convenient access to the ocean, which the men used to make salt. The men finished building a small log fortress by Christmas Eve; they named their new home Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local Indian tribe.

Dec. 7, 1815 – Claiborne, Ala. was named by the Mississippi Territorial Legislature as the place for holding courts in the newly created Monroe County.

Dec. 7, 1820 – The Alabama legislature declared Clarkesville as the county seat for Clarke County, and the first county courthouse was built there, located about eight miles west of Grove Hill, just north of Tattilaba Creek.

Dec. 7, 1820 – The Alabama legislature at Cahaba appointed a Board of County Commissioners for Butler County and passed an act authorizing the board to located a seat of justice for the county, lay off as many lots and dispose of the same in such manner, as they might think most expedient for the benefit of the county.

Dec. 7, 1821 – Covington County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature, and was named for General Leonard Covington of Maryland, who fought in the War of 1812.

Dec. 7, 1847 – National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher and third baseman Deacon White was born in Caton, N.Y. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

Dec. 7, 1862 - The Battle of Prairie Grove took place in Northwestern Arkansas and Southwestern Missouri. Union General James G. Blunt held off Confederates under General Thomas Hindman. Confederate losses amounted to more than 1,400 killed and wounded, while the Yankees lost more than 1,200.

Dec. 7, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Padre Island, Texas and at Hartsville, Tenn.

Dec. 7, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Independence and Okolona, Miss.; and at Rutledge and Eagleville, Tenn.

Dec. 7, 1863 – During the Civil War, a five-day Federal operation began in Hampshire, Hardy, Frederick and Shenandoah Counties of West Virginia. The Columbia Iron Works in West Virginia, which were 15 miles west of Woodstock and an equal distance from Mount Jackson, Va., were also destroyed.

Dec. 7, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred at Paint Rock Bridge, Ala.

Dec. 7, 1864 – During the Civil War, a seven-day Federal expedition from Brownsville to Arkansas Post, Ark. began; a 20-day Federal operation against Fort Fisher, N.C. began; and a two-day Federal expedition from Devall’s Bluff to Augusta, Ark. began.

Dec. 7, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Buck Creek, Cypress Swamp, Jenk’s Bridge, Ogeechee River in Georgia; at Moselle Bridge, near Franklin, Mo.; and at Hickford, Va.

Dec. 7, 1866 – Clay County, Ala. was created by an act of the state general assembly. Bounded on the north by Cleburne County, on the east by Randolph County, on the south by Tallapoosa County and Coosa County, and on the est by Talladeg County. Named for Henry Clay (1777-1852), the great Kentucky statesman. Lineville was the temporary county seat uuntil 1867, when the courthouse was built at Ashland.

Dec. 7, 1873 – Novelist Willa Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Va.

Dec. 7, 1878 – Judge Walter H. Crenshaw of Greenville, Ala. passed away from a stroke at the age of 61. He served as a state representative, Speaker of the State House, state senator, President of the State Senate, officer in the state militia and as the Butler County Criminal Court Judge.

Dec. 7, 1879 – Armstead Dudley Cary, who was Conecuh County, Alabama’s first probate judge, passed away at the age of 88. He also served as the Receiver of the Land Office for the Sparta District and as Conecuh County Circuit Court Clerk. He was buried in the Cary Cemetery at Brooklyn, Ala.

Dec. 7, 1899 – Major League Baseball pitcher Ed Morris was born in Foshee, an unincorporated community between Brewton and Pollard in Escambia Couty, Ala. He made his Major League debut on Aug. 5, 1922 with the Chicago Cubs and made his last Major League appearance on Sept. 21, 1931 with the Boston Red Sox. He was stabbed to death at a party on March 3, 1932 in Century, Fla.

Dec. 7, 1904 – The organizational charter was issued to Gantt Lodge No. 589 in Gantt, Ala. (Covington County)

Dec. 7, 1905 – Those aboard the yacht Valhalla, including two expert naturalists E.G.B. Meade-Waldo and Michael J. Nicholl, sighted a “sea monster” off Parahiba, Brazil. Meade-Waldo and Nicholl were fellows of the Zoological Society of Britain, who were taking part in a scientific expedition to the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Meade-Waldo prepared a paper on the sighting, and he presented it to the society at its meeting on June 19, 1906.

Dec. 7, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mr. D.K. Smith was attending the session of the Grand Lodge in Montgomery, Ala.

Dec. 7-8, 1908 – Monroe County Court was in session on this Monday and Tuesday and a number of cases were disposed of, according to The Monroe Journal. “One of the cases was for violation of the new law regulating hunting and fishing. Several parties living in the southern part of the county were on trial for seining above tidewater. There being some doubt as to the effect of the tides at the point in question, his Honor let them go with the understanding that they ‘would fish no more.’”

Dec. 7, 1908 – The Hon. S.C. Jenkins of Bay Minette was in Monroeville on this Monday representing clients in Monroe County Court. Jenkins was a former principal of the Monroe Institute.

Dec. 7, 1914 – Conecuh County Court was in session “with quite a large number of cases” being on the docket before Judge Dean.

Dec. 7, 1915 – The Rev. W.T. Ellisor left Evergreen on this Wednesday for Brewton to attend the annual session of the Alabama conference. Ellisor had served the Evergreen church for the previous four years and under the laws of the church could not be returned, and was to be given a new assignment. “Evergreen people without regard to denominational lines will part with him and his charming wife with sincere regrets.”

Dec. 7, 1915 - Judge J.B. Brown, who was a member of the Alabama Court of Appeals, was in Evergreen on this Wednesday “in the interest of his candidacy for re-election.”

Dec. 7, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Dicodemus Daughtry of Andalusia, Ala. “died from disease.”

Dec. 7, 1928 – Linguist and writer Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia.

Dec. 7, 1939 - Lou Gehrig was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. He was the first player to have the rule waived that required a player to be retired one year before he could be elected.

Dec. 7, 1939 – The Monroe Journal reported that Nell Whatley, the owner and operator of the Monroeville Beauty Shop, had purchased the Exclusive Dress Shop, which had been owned and operated by Mrs. W.J. Fountain.

Dec. 7, 1941 – Using nearly 200 warplanes, the Imperial Japanese Navy carried out a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet and its defending Army and Marine air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack resulted in the U.S. entering into World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called December 7 “a date which will live in infamy” as more than 2,300 Americans died in the attack.

Dec. 7, 1947 – National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He would play his entire career, 1967-1983, for the Cincinnati Reds. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Dec. 7, 1956 – Novelist Susan Minot was born in Boston.

Dec. 7, 1960 – The Artic National Wildlife Refuge was created by Fred Seaton, the Secretary of the Interior.

Dec. 7, 1963 - CBS introduced the first-ever "Instant Replay" during the Army-Navy football game.

Dec. 7, 1964 - The situation worsened in South Vietnam, as the Viet Cong attacked and captured the district headquarters at An Lao and much of the surrounding valley 300 miles northeast of Saigon.

Dec. 7, 1965 - In a memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated that U.S. troop strength must be substantially augmented “if we are to avoid being defeated there.” Cautioning that such deployments would not ensure military success, McNamara said the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong “continue to believe that the war will be a long one, that time is their ally and their own staying power is superior to ours.”

Dec. 7, 1967 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Evergreen’s two fire trucks were “just about as up to date as fire trucks get so far as appearance and safety lights are concerned.” The Automotive Body Repair Class at Ed Reid State School had recently knocked out all the dents and painted both trucks, and City Electrical Department workers had installed new warning lights. Forrest Douglas was Evergreen’s fire chief at the time.

Dec. 7, 1972 – Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, was launched, and the crew took the famous photograph known as “The Blue Marble” as they left the Earth. The photograph was the first clear image of the Earth, because the sun was at the astronauts’ back, and so the planet appeared lit up and you can distinctly see blue, white, brown, even green. The crew of Apollo 17 was about 28,000 miles away from Earth when they took the photo, and it was the last time that astronauts, not robots, were on a lunar mission — since then, no people have gotten far enough away from Earth to take a photo like it.

Dec. 7, 1973 – NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens was born in Alexander City, Ala. He went on to attend Benjamin Russell High School, Chattanooga, the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys, the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dec. 7, 1974 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Earl Windham reported 1.0 inches of rain on this day.

Dec. 7, 1974 – Sometime after midnight on this Saturday morning, the home of Lester Brundage Sr. at Owassa, Ala. was burned by a suspected arsonist. The fire was investigated by the Conecuh County Sheriff’s Department as well as state and federal officials.

Dec. 7, 1976 – NFL guard Alan Faneca was born in New Orleans, La. He played college ball at LSU and in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals.

Dec. 7, 1982 - Charles Brooks Jr. earned the dubious distinction of being the first person ever executed by lethal injection. While the concept of lethal injection as a means of execution had been around since the late-1800's, it was not until the late 1970's when it became a viable option for executing death row inmates. Since Brooks' demise, lethal injection has become the predominant form of capital punishment in the United States.

Dec. 7, 1986 - Huey Lewis and the News sang the U.S. national anthem a capella before a San Francisco 49ers-New York Jets NFL football game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif.

Dec. 7, 1988 - The Texas Rangers signed free-agent pitcher Nolan Ryan to a one-year contract.

Dec. 7, 1995 – Effie Mae Tucker Park, located on Pineville Road near the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville, Ala., was dedicated.

Dec. 7, 1996 – Sandcut volunteer firefighter Judy Poole was named the 1996 recipient of the Lois E. Reeves Memorial Award as the Volunteer Firefighter of the Year at the annual banquet held on this Saturday night in the cafetorium of Hillcrest High School.

Dec. 7, 1996 - Sparta Academy’s varsity boys basketball team lost to Ashford Academy, 54-50, in a game played on this day at Sparta. Jason Robinson led the way for the Warriors with 23 points. Rod McIntyre was also in double figures with 13 points. Rounding out the scoring for the Warriors were Seth McIntyre with seven points; Chad Morris, four points; and Josh Pate, three points.

Dec. 7, 1996 - Sparta Academy’s varsity girls basketball team whipped Ashford Academy, 71-37, on this night at Sparta Academy. Andrea Ward scored 26 points to lead the Lady Warriors. Also in double figures were Nikki Jones with 20 points and Cass Ralls with 10 points. Shelley Bell had seven points; Jennifer Coker, five points; and Jill Pate and Sally Hartley, two points each, to round out the scoring for the Lady Warriors.

Dec. 7, 2011 - The Evergreen (Ala.) City Council voted unanimously to move forward with efforts to pave the way for a number of developments at the Fairview Commons Industrial Park, including a large FedEx warehouse off the busy interstate highway exit. During a city council meeting on this Tuesday night at Evergreen City Hall, economic developer Daryl Harper told the council that FedEx was “all in” regarding the construction of a 32,000 square foot warehouse on property near the intersection of I-65 and U.S. Highway 84 that’s being developed under the name of “Fairview Commons.” Construction of the warehouse was scheduled to begin in August 2012 and the warehouse was expected to open for business sometime in early 2013.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Wed., Dec. 7, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  3.00 inches

Fall to Date Rainfall: 5.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.00 inches

Notes: Today in the 341st day of 2016 and the 76th day of Fall. There are 25 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.