Thursday, October 17, 2019

Does 'Mad Sally' haunt Jackson Bridge in Conecuh County, Alabama?

Jackson Bridge in southwestern Conecuh County. 

Several years ago, around Halloween time, I read an article about the “Scariest Bridges in America.” This got me to thinking about writing a similar story on the “Scariest Bridges in Conecuh County.” With that in mind, I began asking around about scary bridges in our area.

Back then, Shane Moore was the county bridge inspector, and, on average, he inspected around 30 bridges each month for the County Engineer’s Office. I figured that he was as familiar with local bridges as anyone, and one day while standing out in the hallway at the courthouse, waiting on a county commission meeting, I asked him about scary bridges in our neck of the woods. I will never forget what he said.

He sort of looked around to see if anyone else was listening, then looked me right in the eye and said, “Peacock, when you get under these bridges around here, they’re all kind of scary.” He maintained a serious look on his face for several seconds before cracking a big smile, and we had a big laugh as he told me about all the creepy-crawlies he encountered under bridges on a daily basis.

With that said, a number of other people supplied me with information about some of our other local bridges, but the name of one bridge in particular came up again and again – the old Jackson Bridge on the Range Road in the southwestern corner of the county. Hearing this, I was very familiar with Jackson Bridge, which is actually a pair of wooden bridges that crosses Escambia Creek. In my younger years, I’d jumped off the larger of the two bridges countless times into the deep, cold waters there.

Last Thursday morning, I rode out to Jackson Bridge for a look around. I had not been there in a couple of years, and it looked pretty much the same as it had the last time I was there. As I stood there on the edge of the bridge and looked down into the dark water below, no one else was around, and I could not help but think about all the strange tales I’d heard about this place.

Some say the crossing was named Jackson Bridge because Andrew Jackson crossed the creek there in the early 1800s while making his way from the Three-Notch Trail to the Old Federal Road, which is less than two miles west of the current bridge. There may be some truth to this because, according to local history buff John Potts, a military uniform button from Jackson’s time period was once found about 15 feet from the site of the bridge.

Others say that there might still be lost treasure buried near the bridge. Tommy Owens said he used to swim there a lot and had heard old tales of Confederate gold buried nearby. Supposedly, near the end of the Civil War, Confederate troops buried gold near the bridge to keep pursuing Yankees from getting their hands on the gold.

Others say that if you go there late at night, you better be prepared to deal with the supernatural. James Hoskins, who lives a short drive from the bridge, told me that if you go there on a moonlit night and switch your vehicle and headlights off, a headless woman would rise up out of the creek. Worst of all, this headless woman would be toting her own head… or so the story goes.

Ronnie Qualls, who used to live near the bridge, said he used to swim there in his younger days, and he’d always heard tales about how “Mad Sally” haunted the bridge. According to this tale, way back in the horse-and-buggy days, a woman named Sally was leading a wagon train during a heavy rainstorm. The bad weather had flooded the creek and when she tried to cross it, the high waters swept her wagon away, drowning all of her children.

Nowadays, if you go there at night, turn off your vehicle, cut out your lights and listen closely, you can hear “Mad Sally” crying. Some even claim to have seen her lantern glowing, moving through the woods near the bridge as “Mad Sally” continues to look for her missing children… or so the story goes.

As I made my way back to Evergreen, I couldn’t help but think about Jackson Bridge and all the tales I’ve heard about it. I’ve never personally experienced anything supernatural there, but who’s to say what you might see there on a dark night as the days roll off the calendar toward Halloween. In the end, like my old friend Shane Moore once said, “all of these bridges are sort of spooky,” so let me know if you’ve ever seen anything out of the ordinary at Jackson Bridge or at any other bridge within the boundaries of Conecuh County.

Casey Grant remains atop local college football contest standings

The seventh week of our local ESPN College Football Pick ‘Em contest wrapped up on Saturday, and Casey Grant remained atop the local standings with 55 total points to his credit.

Clint Hyde found himself in second place with 51 points. Blake Stringer and Mark Cotten followed closely, tied for third place, with 50 points each. Jesse Jordan was in sole possession of fifth place with 49 points.

Drew Skipper and Brett Loftin were tied for sixth place with 48 points each. Cody Thomas, Justin Chandler and I were all tied for eighth place with 46 points each. Austin Weaver followed next, in 12th place, with 45 points.

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For the first time in a long time, Hillcrest’s varsity football team finds itself in a heated region race, and 4A Region 1 is so good that it looks like a pair of really decent teams won’t be making the playoffs. As of Monday, UMS-Wright was No. 1 in the region standings and looked to be a lock for the playoffs with games against Escambia County and W.S. Neal left on their schedule. UMS-Wright, the two-time defending state champion, looks set for another run at the state title unless the wheels just fall off.

After UMS-Wright, you’ve got a complicated four-way tie for second place in the region standings between Williamson, Andalusia, Escambia County and Hillcrest. Hillcrest beat Andalusia early this season, but lost on homecoming to Escambia County. Hillcrest will play Williamson tomorrow (Friday) night in Mobile, and it behooves the Jags to beat them in hopes of knocking them out of the race for one of the region’s four playoff spots.

As of Monday, W.S. Neal was sixth in the region standings, Clarke County was seventh and Monroe County High School was eighth. W.S. Neal has yet to play Andalusia and UMS-Wright, and I don’t see Neal beating either of those teams. I’ll be shocked if Clarke County and Monroe County find themselves in the playoff discussion when region play ends on Oct. 25.

If you look at it from Hillcrest’s point of view, the only thing to do is focus on what you can control and that is two, must-win games against Williamson and Monroe County High School on Oct. 25. If Hillcrest takes care of business in both of those games, they’ll also want to pull for Escambia County and UMS-Wright to lose one or more games between now and the end of region play.

More than likely UMS-Wright will run the table, but Escambia County still has to face UMS-Wright and Williamson before they can claim a playoff spot. I don’t see Escambia County beating UMS-Wright, but the Escambia County-Williamson game on Oct. 25 in Atmore could spell disaster for the loser, especially if Hillcrest hands Williamson a loss tomorrow night.

So far, Williamson’s only region losses have come against UMS-Wright and Andalusia, but it helps Hillcrest that the Jags beat Andalusia head to head on Sept. 20. Going into the season, it would have been hard to predict that Williamson would have played such a factor in the region race. Of course, all of this would be moot if Hillcrest had beaten Escambia County on Sept. 13. That four-point loss could come back to haunt the Jags if they don’t win their last two region games.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., Oct. 17, 2019

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.10 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 3.15 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  3.35 inches.

Fall to Date Rainfall: 3.35 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 41.80 inches.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily in Monroe County, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.405783N Lon -87.479861W. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-6, Station Name: Frisco City 5.0 WSW.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Jones Ferry was one of at least 11 old ferries once located in Wilcox County

View from Bridgeport City Landing.

Back in the 19th century heyday of heavy Alabama River traffic, in the golden age of steamboats and other such vessels, numerous ferry crossings could be found all along the river as it flowed through Wilcox County. The other day, I was looking through some historical maps and counted no less than 11 old ferry crossings along the Alabama River in Wilcox County. One such ferry, Jones Ferry, caught my eye with particular interest.

Historical records reflect that Jones Ferry was located at Bridgeport, and this ferry site can be found on maps dating as far back as 1870. Bridgeport, which is located almost due north of Camden, was known to exist as early as 1838 and was named for politician John Wells Bridges. As many readers will know, Bridgeport played a vital role in Wilcox County’s early history and in the growth of Camden as the county seat.

If you take a close look at maps of the Alabama River, you’ll see that the biggest bend in the river is in Wilcox County, and this giant bend had a big impact on early river travelers in Wilcox County. Prior to the completion of the Millers Ferry Lock and Dam in 1974, it was about 40 miles around this great bend in the river from Bridgeport to Burfords Landing, but the distance between the two points on a straight line across the county was only about eight miles. It was only four miles from Bridgeport to Camden and seven miles from Camden to Burfords Landing.

As you might imagine, this 40-mile bend in the river created a unique situation for riverboat travelers and also provided a unique opportunity for the young town of Camden. Passengers coming up from Mobile would often get off their boat a Burfords Landing, travel overland to Camden and spend half the day there before traveling overland to Bridgeport to get back on the same boat that they’d gotten off of earlier in the day. On the other side of the coin, travelers headed south on the river from Montgomery could get off the boat at Bridgeport, conduct any business they had in Camden and then catch the boat again at Burfords Landing to continue south.

With all of this in mind, I took a ride up to Bridgeport City Landing on Friday for a good look around. I parked, walked past a couple of unoccupied pickup trucks that were hooked to a pair of empty boat trailers and made my way down to the water’s edge. As I stood there in the quiet, watching the peaceful waters flow by, I couldn’t help but wonder what this place looked like in the early days of the county’s history.

I stood there on the wooden dock for what seemed like a long time, and a number of other questions came to mind. How far from this landing was the original site of the old Jones Ferry? How far was the landing from the old Bridgeport town site? Perhaps both were located right where I stood, but it was hard to tell from available maps.

As I watched a skinny, green lizard scurry along the dock’s rough deck, I was reminded that the old Bridges Cemetery was a short drive from where I stood. In fact, this historic cemetery is where John Wells Bridges was buried when he passed away in 1858. A glance at my wristwatch told me that the day was drawing late, so a trip to the Bridges Cemetery would have to wait for another day.

I did attempt to visit Bridgeport Beach, which is a short drive up County Road 37 from the boat landing, but was disappointed by a locked gate and a sign that said “Closed for Season.” As I turned around at the gate, I wondered if perhaps the old Jones Ferry was located at what we now call Bridgeport Beach. Maybe this location was also closer to the old Bridgeport town site.

In the end, as I guided my truck toward home, I couldn’t help but wonder about the old Jones Ferry and the old Bridgeport community. Exactly where were they located? Are there any remnants left of either that can be seen if you know where to look? I’d be interested in hearing from anyone in the reading audience who knows because it would be a shame to let the locations of these important historic sites fade into the lost memories of the county’s past.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Wed., Oct. 16, 2019

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 2.75 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 3.05 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  3.25 inches.

Fall to Date Rainfall: 3.25 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 41.70 inches.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily in Monroe County, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.405783N Lon -87.479861W. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-6, Station Name: Frisco City 5.0 WSW.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for Oct. 15, 2019

Charlie Chaplin

FOUR YEARS AGO
OCT. 15, 2015

Just in time for this year’s Southeast Regional Fly-In, Evergreen city officials unveiled the brand new sign at the Evergreen Regional Airport Tuesday afternoon at the entrance to the airport off of U.S. Highway 84. Pictured at the unveiling are City Projects Manager Jeff Sullivan, Airport Assistant Manager Terri Webb, Evergreen City Councilman Luther Upton and Evergreen Mayor Pete Wolff.

Mary Lou Padgett, the wife of Flat Rock Fire Chief Aubrey Padgett, was named Miss Flat Rock on Sat., Oct. 3, during Flat Rock Day, which organizers called a “huge success.” Also on that day, Cheryl McNaughton was selected as the winner of the special quilt that was raffled away as part of a fundraiser for the Flat Rock Volunteer Fire Department.

Sausage Festival Saturday 9 to 4: Big crowds are expected for the 13th Annual Evergreen Sausage Festival, which will be held this coming Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Evergreen.
Crowds are expected to be so big that Evergreen-Conecuh County Chamber of Commerce officials announced on Monday that the City of Evergreen will be closing some streets in downtown Evergreen, starting tomorrow (Friday) at 5:30 p.m. to allow arts and crafts and food vendors time to safely set up their individual booths.
This year’s Sausage Festival will also include the 4th Annual BBQ Cook-Off, a competition between local barbecue cooks for bragging rights and prizes.

29 YEARS AGO
OCT. 18, 1990

Evergreen weather observer Harry Ellis reported no rain between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14. He reported a high of 92 degrees on Oct. 8 and a low of 45 on Oct. 13.

To commemorate the official adoption of OLF Evergreen and NAS Whiting Field of Evergreen City School on Oct. 10, Michael Sciacca, an official of the U.S. Navy, presented a plaque to school officials. Present for the occasion were Steve Coker, Superintendent of the Conecuh County Board of Education; Preston Fluker, Principal of Evergreen City School; Mr. Sciacca and Rita Lisabelle, President of the PTO.

Richard Brown of Evergreen was the featured speaker at the Conecuh County Economic Development Council’s annual steak dinner held last Thursday night at Hillcrest High School.

Johnson CEO prexy resigns Poole, Inc., joins Hunt Transport: W.D. “Bill” Johnson, former president and CEO of Poole Truck Line, is joining J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. of Lowell, Ark. to start up and manage a new flatbed division. J.B. Hunt is the largest truckload carrier in the U.S. but has operated a van only fleet up until the present.

Grand Jury returns 55 true bills: The Grand Jury for the Fall Term of Circuit Court, that was empaneled Monday morning by Circuit Judge Samuel H. Welch Jr., completed its deliberations and returned its findings in open court Wednesday morning.

54 YEARS AGO
OCT. 21, 1965

Mr. Fitzhugh Ellington has resigned as minister of the Evergreen Church of Christ, South Main Street, where he was in his 14th year of service. Mr. Ellington is moving his family to Camden this week where he will serve the Church of Christ. During his more than 34 years in the ministry, he has served churches at Casey, Ramer, Andalusia, Opp, Moulton and Evergreen.

Conecuh County Junior Miss Contest – Evergreen City School – 7:30 p.m., Sat., Oct. 23 – Admission: Adults, 75 cents; children (under 12) only 25 cents – Sponsored by the Evergreen Jaycees – Don’t Miss It!

Spooks, sprites plan meeting here Oct. 30: The annual meeting of the spooks, imps, ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, etc. of Evergreen will be held on Saturday evening, Oct. 30, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Evergreen City School.
Once again this charitable organization has chosen as beneficiary of its gathering the PTA. This organization of parents and teachers plans to use any funds realized to make needed improvements at the school – such improvements being items for which no other funds are available.

Three building permits, two of them for new residences, were approved by the Evergreen City Council at its meeting Tuesday night.
Council also instructed the mayor to inform Evergreen Gin Co. that due to a number of complaints from the neighborhood that some type of spray system to control lint and dust should be installed immediately. Such a system was promised by the ginners last year.

79 YEARS AGO
OCT. 17, 1940

“Caravan Of Democracy” Appearing Here Today: The “Caravan of Democracy,” appearing in Evergreen today at 4 p.m. on behalf of Wendell L. Willkie, Republican candidate for President, expects to cover 10,000 miles in its tour of the state – 4,000 miles having been traveled to date.
The Caravan is under the management of Fred Rucker, Montgomery newspaper man, who handled the “Pass the Biscuits” O’Daniel campaign in Texas, and is supported entirely by Alabama Democrats.
Appearing with the Caravan, according to the advertisement appearing elsewhere in this issue, will be Miss Dorothy Orton, singer, and four majorettes who will help pass out literature.

NOTICE: There will be a square dance at Belleville School House Wednesday night, Oct. 23. Admission 10 cents for spectators and 25 cents for dancers.

J.A. Hainje Dies After Long Illness: J.A. Hainje, 55, prominent Brewton businessman and leader, died at Montgomery hospital Thursday night, Oct. 10, following an illness of nearly one year.
Mr. Hainje was owner of a chain of furniture stores located in Brewton, Greenville and Pensacola, Fla. Salesmen operating out of these centers covered virtually all of South Alabama and East Florida. Therefore through his business connections and dealings, he was widely known and much beloved and respected.

104 YEARS AGO
OCT. 20, 1915

Come see Robert Warwick Friday at the Arcade Theatre. Admission 10 cents and 20 cents. On Saturday, will have Charlie Chaplan. Admission five cents and 10 cents.

Prof. Blasingame removed to Auburn with his family last week to take up his new work. Many friends regret to give him up. No one has been chosen to take his place as president of the Agricultural school.

H.A. Shields reached home on Sunday morning after having spent three weeks in the work of repairing the damage to the railroad between Mobile and New Orleans, as a result of the recent storm.

County Fair Unqualified Success – Thousands Brave Rain and Slush to See Conecuh’s First Fair: Conecuh County’s first fair is now history.
It was a pronounced success. In truth, the showing made far surpassed the expectation of the most hopeful and sanguine worker for it. The townspeople were as much surprised as those from the country districts were delighted at our first attempt at a fair.

League Social: Epworth League social will be given at the Mineral Spring on Friday night. All leaguers are requested to assemble at the church at five o’clock in the afternoon with lunches.

Conecuh County Educational Association: CCEA will have its initial meeting for the year 1915-16 on Sat., Nov. 6, in Evergreen.
The purpose of this organization is, that through study, planning and efficient work, we, all teachers, trustees and patrons, may create a real professional spirit and ideal.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Tues., Oct. 15, 2019

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.30 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.30 inches

Month to Date Rainfall:  0.50 inches.

Fall to Date Rainfall: 0.50 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 38.95 inches.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily in Monroe County, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.405783N Lon -87.479861W. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-6, Station Name: Frisco City 5.0 WSW.