Thursday, April 30, 2015

Possible python with five-gallon bucket-sized head spotted near Abbeville, Ala.

As if all you outdoorsmen in the reading audience didn’t have enough creepy crawlies to worry about while out in the woods, reports coming from the Chattahoochee River area this week tell of a possible Python that was spotted by an Abbeville man named Randy Sanders.

Sanders said he was walking with his grandkids along Kolomoki Creek, southeast of Ft. Gaines, Ga. when he saw what is believed to have been a Python between 10 to 15 feet in length.

Sanders, who was able to photograph the snake, said it had a head as large as a five-gallon bucket. Despite the photographic evidence, snake experts were still unable to positively identify the snake as a Python.

Auburn University Herpetology professor, Dr. Craig Guyer, told reporters that the winters in the Gulf Coast region are mild enough to support Pythons, which have been known to live in the Florida Everglades since the late 1990s.

The report went on to say that over the past two years multiple people have reported seeing large dark-colored, banded snakes at Lake Eufaula and Barbour Creek. These large snakes were 10 feet long and longer, witnesses said.

My trusty Schneider road atlas tells me that Fort Gaines, Ga., which is on the Alabama-Georgia border just east of Abbeville, is actually further north than Evergreen. In other words, most of Conecuh County is closer to the Gulf Coast than where this Python was supposedly spotted last week.

As far as I know, no Pythons have been ever been spotted in Conecuh County, but if they are, please let us know at The Courant. I’ve taken lots of big rattlesnake and cottonmouth pictures over the years, but a Python would be a first and would probably guarantee you a spot on the front page.

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As of Monday morning, 13 teams remained in the hunt for this year’s NBA title.

During the past week, Golden State eliminated my favorite team, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Warriors will face either Portland or Memphis in the Western Conference quarterfinals. More than likely, they’ll play Memphis, who was up three games to none on Portland when this column was written.

Other Western Conference teams still alive included the Clippers, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. As of Monday, the series between the Clippers and San Antonio was tied up, 2-2, but Houston was up on Dallas, 3-1.

Only six teams remained in the mix in the Eastern Conference. During the past week, the Washington Wizards swept Toronto, 4-0, sending the Raptors to the house. Cleveland also swept the Boston Celtics, 4-0, thereby eliminating my favorite team in the East.

Other Eastern Conference teams still in the hunt as of Monday included Atlanta, Brooklyn, Chicago and Milwaukee. As of this writing, Atlanta was up two games to one on Brooklyn, and Chicago had a 3-1 edge on the Bucks.

Of the 13 teams left, I expect Golden State to win the West and to play probably Cleveland out of the East. Golden State’s looked good all season, and it looks like it’s going to be hard to beat them in the playoffs.

Today in History for April 30, 2015

General Edmund Kirby Smith
April 30, 1006 AD - A new star, possibly the brightest supernova in recorded human history, appeared in the sky.

April 30, 1492 – Spain gave Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.

April 30, 1692 – In connection with the Salem witchcraft trials, several girls accused former Salem minister George Burroughs of witchcraft.

April 30, 1770 – English-Canadian cartographer and explorer David Thompson was born in Westminster, London, England. Over his career, he mapped over 3.9 million square kilometres of North America and for this has been described as the "greatest land geographer who ever lived."

April 30, 1776 - Samuel Adams wrote to the Rev. Samuel Cooper that he hoped for another battle between British and American troops, stating his belief that, "One battle would do more towards a Declaration of Independence than a long chain of conclusive arguments in a provincial convention or the Continental Congress."

April 30, 1789 – On the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, George Washington took the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States.

April 30, 1803 – In what is now known as the “Louisiana Purchase,” the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, more than doubling the size of the young nation. The territory covered 828,000 square miles, stretching from present-day Louisiana north to Canada, and as far west as the border of Idaho, doubling the geographical area of the United States.

April 30, 1812 – The Territory of Orleans became the 18th U.S. state under the name Louisiana.

April 30, 1859 – Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” was first published in serial form, appearing in the first issue of a new weekly journal, “All the Year Round,” which Dickens founded himself.

April 30, 1862 – Kolb’s Battery (also known as the Barbour Light Artillery and 4th Battalion, Co. C, Hilliard’s Legion) mustered into Confederate service and then proceeded to Montgomery, Ala. where it was divided in two. The unit was organized at Eufaula, Ala. in April 1862 with a complement of about 325 officers and men. With two other companies, it organized as the artillery battalion of Hilliard's Legion.

April 30, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Cooked Creek and Hog Mountain, Ala.

April 30, 1863 - The Battle of Day's Gap was fought between the cavalry forces of Union Col. Abel Streight and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. The engagement was the first in a series of skirmishes between Streight and Forrest during Streight's Raid across north Alabama. The raid ended with Streight's surrender to Forrest just short of Streight's intended destination of Rome, Ga.

April 30, 1864 - Work began on the dams along the Red River. The work would allow Union General Nathaniel Banks' troops to sail over the rapids above Alexandria, La.

April 30, 1864 - The Battle of Jenkin's Ferry, Ark. took place. Union troops under General Frederick Steele fought off General Edmund Kirby Smith while retreating toward Little Rock, Ark.

April 30, 1866 – John Edward Witherington, who died at the age 77 in 1944, was born. While postmaster in the China community, he established the first rural postal route in Conecuh County, Ala.

April 30, 1875 – French explorer, lithographer and cartographer Jean-Frédéric Waldeck passed away at the claimed age of 109 years and 45 days. He supposedly died of a heart attack while eying a beautiful woman near the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

April 30, 1877 – American-French writer and author Alice B. Toklas was born in San Francisco, Calif.

April 30, 1885 – Governor of New York David B. Hill signed legislation creating the Niagara Reservation, New York's first state park, ensuring that Niagara Falls would not be devoted solely to industrial and commercial use.

April 30, 1889 - George Washington's inauguration became the first U.S. national holiday.

April 30, 1900 - Hawaii was organized as an official U.S. territory.

April 30, 1922 - Charlie Robertson of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers.

April 30, 1928 – Birmingham, Ala. native Spud Davis made his Major League Baseball debut for the St. Louis Cardinals.

April 30, 1939 - Lou Gehrig played his last game with the New York Yankees, having played in 2,130 consecutive games.

April 30, 1943 – During World War II’s “Operation Mincemeat,” the submarine HMS Seraph surfaced in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain to deposit a dead man planted with false invasion plans and dressed as a British military intelligence officer.

April 30, 1945 – During World War II, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide after being married for one day. Soviet soldiers raised the Victory Banner over the Reichstag building. One week later Germany surrendered unconditionally.

April 30, 1945 – Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Annie Dillard was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. and is most famous for her 1974 book, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”

April 30, 1961 - Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants hit four home runs against the Milwaukee Braves.

April 30, 1970 - Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs became the first National League player to play in 1,000 straight games.

April 30, 1977 – Darlene Stevens, 21, and her two-year-old daughter, Christine Michelle, both of Conecuh County, were killed in a two-car collision on a Butler County road.

April 30, 1979 – The Alston-Cobb House (now the Clarke County Historical Museum) in Grove Hill, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

April 30, 1988 - Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" fell out of the Billboard 200 chart for the first time in 725 weeks.

April 30, 1996 - The New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles played the longest nine-inning game in Major League Baseball history. The game took four hours and 21 minutes.

April 30, 1997 - The Atlanta Braves set a major league record when they got their 19th win in the month of April.

April 30, 1998 – Clarke Mills, a historic textile factory in Jackson, Ala.; the Grove Hill Courthouse Square Historic District in Grove Hill, Ala.; and the Whatley Historic District in Whatley, Ala.; were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

April 30, 1998 - The first Alabama Writers Symposium opened in Monroeville, Ala.

April 30, 2002 - Alex Rodriguez became the second youngest major league player to reach 250 home runs. He was 26 years and 277 days old.

April 30, 2004 - The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer was given to Alabama author Sonia Sanchez at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, Ala.

April 30, 2004 – U.S. media released graphic photos of American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., April 30, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.20 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 6.30 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 16.85 inches

Notes: Today is the 120th day of 2015 and the 42nd day of Spring. There are 245 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Historical marker says Thomasville was named after U.S. Civil War general

'Thomasville Early History' historical marker.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “THOMASVILLE’S EARLY HISTORY” marker in Clarke County, Ala. This marker is located on the south side of Wilson Street, between West Front Street and the railroad tracks, in Thomasville, Ala.

This marker was erected in October 2010 by the Alabama Tourism Department and the City of Thomasville. There’s text on both sides of the marker, and both sides are different. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“THOMASVILLE’S EARLY HISTORY: In the summer of 1887, a notice was published confirming that the route for the Mobile and West Alabama Railroad would be the Choctaw Corner route. Soon the sounds of building could be heard over the swamp that was the headwaters of the Bassett Creek. A new town was under construction to be named Thomasville in honor of General Samuel Thomas, president of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad Company. The town grew rapidly and soon became the hub of commercial activity for this area. Lumber, timbers, forest products and hundreds of bales of cotton were being shipped by rail each year. As commerce grew, so did the residential area. Many families moved to the new bustling town and soon schools and places of worship were built. (Continued on other side)”

“THOMASVILLE’S EARLY HISTORY (Continued from other side): This growth, however, was halted in the summer of 1889, when an epidemic almost depopulated Thomasville. Many families moved away from town and businesses temporarily closed. This epidemic is now referred to as the ‘Thomasville Fever.’ When the epidemic had passed, the town quickly resumed its growth. In 1899, tragedy struck again. Fire destroyed the entire business section of town. In all, 23 wooden structures, a hotel, 700 bales of cotton, and one residence were wiped out. The town passed an ordinance requiring that all buildings in the business section be brick. Soon the town was rebuilt and much of the downtown section stands as rebuilt.”

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I was especially interested in the fact that Thomasville was named in honor of Samuel Thomas, who was a Union general during the Civil War. When Thomas learned that the town was being named after him, he responded by donating $500 for the construction of the town’s first school.

Thomas was born on April 27, 1840 at South Point, Lawrence County, Ohio. He enlisted in July 1861 as a second lieutenant in the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He later took part in the Battles of Pittsburgh Landing, Chattanooga and Vicksburg and was also in the rear with reserve forces during Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” He was named a brevet brigadier general on March 13, 1865 and was confirmed on April 10, 1866.

After the war, he became a businessman as a pig iron manufacturer, coal mining industrialist and manager and financier or railroads. He died on Jan. 11, 1903 in New York and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County, New York.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below. 

Today in History for April 29, 2015

William Randolph Hearst
April 29, 1770 – James Cook arrived at and named Botany Bay, Australia.

April 29, 1776 - General George Washington ordered Brigadier General Nathanael Greene to take command of Long Island and set up defensive positions against a possible British attack on New York City.

April 29, 1776 – English explorer and author Edward Wortley Montagu passed away in Padua, Italy at the age of 62.

April 29, 1781 – During the Revolutionary War, British and French ships clashed in the Battle of Fort Royal, off the coast of Martinique.

April 29–30, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette visited St. Louis, Missouri.

April 29, 1852 - The first edition of Peter Roget's Thesaurus was published.

April 29, 1859 – Property in Monroeville, Ala. for a new jail was purchased from John B. Welch and his wife, Rosanne, for $50.

April 29, 1861 – During the Civil War, Maryland's House of Delegates voted not to secede from the Union.

April 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, New Orleans fell to Union forces under Admiral David Farragut. Union troops officially took possession of the city after the surrender of Fort Jackson and Fort. St. Phillip, completing the occupation that had begun four days earlier on April 25.

April 29, 1863 - Union Colonel Abel Streight's command was attacked by troops under the command of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. On this day, the Union had set a trap and held the Confederates under fire and wounded Captain William Forrest (Nathan Bedford's brother).

April 29, 1863 – Poet C.P. Cavafy was born in Alexandria, Egypt.

April 29, 1863 - American newspaper magnate and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst was born in San Fransico, Calif.

April 29, 1864 – Theta Xi fraternity was founded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the only fraternity to be founded during the Civil War.

April 29, 1865 – Confederate General Richard Taylor negotiated a ceasefire with Union General Edward Canby at Magee Farm in Kushla, near Mobile. These were the preliminary arrangements for the surrender of the last Confederate States Army east of the Mississippi River. Taylor's forces, comprising 47,000 Confederate troops serving in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, were the last remaining Confederate force east of the Mississippi River.

April 29, 1899 – Bandleader, pianist and composer Edward Kennedy, better known as Duke Ellington, was born in Washington, D.C.

April 29, 1903 – The Evergreen Courant reported that H.E. Shaver had picked up in Evergreen, Ala. wire and insulators to be used in the construction of a telephone line from Mt. Union and Herbert to Evergreen, Ala., which was due to be complete that week. Shaver noted that the line would likely be extended to Brooklyn, a distance of about 11 miles.

April 29, 1903 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Charles J. Crawford and William H. Crawford had passed the bar exam.

April 29, 1909 – The Conecuh Record reported that “one automobile may now be seen on the streets of Evergreen, being owned by Hon. Jas. F. Jones. No doubt many more will be seen here before many weeks.” On May 5, Jones and Henry Hawthorne would travel to Monroeville in Jones’ new automobile.

April 29, 1909 – Before a large crowd, Evergreen beat Andalusia in baseball, 4-3, in 10 innings.

April 29, 1912 – C.A. Thames, 82, of Brooklyn, Ala. passed away at his family home in Brooklyn. He was buried the following day with full Masonic honors.

April 29, 1928 - A movie version of Alabama author Jack Bethea's book “Honor Bound” was released.

April 29, 1931 – Editor Robert Gottlieb was born in New York City.

April 29, 1934 – Pro Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1934.

April 29, 1941 - The Boston Bees agreed to change their name to the Braves.

April 29, 1945 – During World War II, Adolf Hitler married his longtime partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designated Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor. Both Hitler and Braun commit suicide the following day.

April 29, 1948 – Charles “Bubba” Harris, a native of Sulligent, Ala., made his Major League debut as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics.

April 29, 1948 – The Evergreen Courant reported that pitcher James Carpenter and R.E. Ivey, both of Evergreen, Ala., played leading parts in a recent, 8-2 Sunflower Trojan baseball victory over East Mississippi. Carpenter struck out 12, and Ivey hit a crucial double. Grissett and Tolbert also hit doubles in the game.

April 29, 1948 – The Evergreen Courant reported that during a recent meeting, the newly organized Evergreen (Ala.) Chapter of the Order of Demolay elected officers. Those officers included George Hendrix, M.C.; John Ellis, Sr. C.; Joe Andrews, Jr. C.; Curtis Walker, Scribe; Wayne Cook, Treas.; T.Y. Henderson, S.D.; Dudley Bartlett, J.D.; Bert Gaston, Sentinel; Jeff Moorer, S. Steward; P.J. Godwin, Jr. Steward; R.J. Sanford, Jr. Marchal; Willie Cobb, Jr. Alamaner; Junior Ward, Chaplain; Shelton Craig, Standard Bearer; Gwynn Daniels, Orator; Wayne Congleton, 1st Preceptor; Sidney Williamson, 2nd Preceptort; Billie Langham, 3rd Preceptor; Georgie Brown, 4th Preceptor.

April 29, 1952 - Controversial speaker and author David Icke was born in Leicester, Leicestershire, England.

April 29, 1953 - The first experimental 3D-TV broadcast took place in the US with a showing of an episode of “Space Patrol.”

April 29, 1957 - The Boston Red Sox traded Mobile, Alabama’s Milt Bolling along with Russ Kemmerer and Faye Throneberry to the Washington Senators for Bob Chakales and Dean Stone. Milt was immediately put to work with the Senators, starting at shortstop occasionally in May and June before becoming their everyday starter from July through the end of the season.

April 29, 1957 – Conecuh County’s annual Fat Calf Show was scheduled to be held with 26 4H Club and FFA members participating.

April 29, 1963 – A meeting of the Evergreen Junior Baseball League was scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Conecuh County Courthouse in Evergreen, Ala. The league’s officers included Earl Windham, President; Ed Smith, Vice President; Leslie Huggins, Secretary-Treasurer; Ray Owens, Player Manager; Joe Sasser, Chief Scorer; and Henry Allman, Chief Umpire.

April 29, 1967 - Alabama author Mary Elizabeth Vroman died in Brooklyn, N.Y.

April 29, 1974 – Dr. Cecil E. Price, 51, died from “as the result of massive heart failure” at his office. He practiced medicine in Conecuh County, Ala. for over a quarter of a century and at one time was the only physician in practice in the county.

April 29, 1974 – Birmingham, Ala. native Lee May became the 17th player in MLB history to hit two home runs in one inning.

April 29, 1979 - The final episode of "Battlestar Galactica" was aired on ABC.

April 29, 1981 - Steve Carlton, of the Philadelphia Phillies, became the first left-handed pitcher in the major leagues to get 3,000 career strikeouts.

April 29, 1985 - Billy Martin was brought back, for the fourth time, to the position of manager for the New York Yankees.

April 29, 1986 – A fire at the Central library of the City of Los Angeles Public Library damaged or destroyed 400,000 books and other items.

April 29, 1986 - Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox set a major-league baseball record by striking out 20 Seattle Mariner batters.

April 29, 1988 - The Baltimore Orioles set a new major league baseball record by losing their first 21 games of the season.

April 29, 1994 – Episode No. 22 of “The X-Files” – entitled “Born Again” – aired for the first time.

April 29, 2002 - Darryl Strawberry was sentenced to 18 months in prison for violating his probation on a 1999 conviction on drug and solicitation of prostitution charges.

April 29, 2014 – Former Beatrice, Ala. mayor Alan Bishop, a native of Haleyville, passed away at his home at the age of 57.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Wed., April 29, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.20 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.20 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 6.30 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 16.85 inches

Notes: Today is the 119th day of 2015 and the 41st day of Spring. There are 246 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for April 28, 2015

Robert Russa Moton in 1916
APRIL 25, 1963

Evergreen weather reporter W.D. Simonton reported a trace of rain on April 19 and .08 inches of rain on April 24. He also reported a high of 91 degrees on April 23 and a low of 55 on April 24.

“Dock Eli Higdon, age 76, died Sun., April 21, after a long illness.
“Mr. Higdon was a widely known and highly respected farmer and businessman. He was a director of the Conecuh County Exchange, Inc. for many years and took a leading part in county agricultural and business affairs.
“During World War I, Mr. Higdon served with distinction with the U.S. Army in France, serving as a scout for the famed Wildcat Division. He was a Mason, W.O.W., V.F.W. and American Legion.”

“Magazine Features Article By Wilkins: An article by Conecuh County Engineer Marion Wilkins is featured in the April issue of ‘Rural Roads,’ a nationally circulated magazine concerned with the building of federal, state, county and township roads. The magazine is published in Chicago.
“Wilkins’ article is entitled ‘County Organized for Farm-to-market Roadwork’ and is the lead article in the magazine. He discusses the county’s organization for building and maintaining roads and details the progress that had been made under the farm-to-market program.
“Wilkins states that the county has a total of 810 miles of district and county roads and of these 351 miles have been improved to secondary standards and paved.”

APRIL 29, 1948

“The 750-pound calf owned by James Norris, 4-H club member of Evergreen, Route F, was judged Grand Champion of the Evergreen Jaycees’ Second Annual Fat Calf Show. Judging was under the direction of Dr. D.J. Meadows, Agricultural Agent L&N Railroad. The show was held in Evergreen Monday.”

“T-SGT. JOHN W. MORGAN: Funeral services for Sgt. John W. Morgan, who was killed in Europe during World War II, were held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Asbury Church, Rev. W.A. Jones officiating. Members of the National Guard and American Legion acted as pallbearers.”

“Order of Demolays Elect Officers: At a recent meeting, the Evergreen Chapter of the Order of Demolays, which was recently organized here, elected the following officers:
“George Hendrix, M.C.; John Ellis, Sr. C.; Joe Andrews, Jr. C.; Curtis Walker, Scribe; Wayne Cook, Treas.; T.Y. Henderson, S.D.; Dudley Bartlett, J.D.; Bert Gaston, Sentinel; Jeff Moorer, S. Steward; P.J. Godwin, Jr. Steward; R.J. Sanford, Jr. Marchal; ;Willie Cobb, Jr. Alamaner; Junior Ward, Chaplain; Shelton Craig, Standard Bearer; Gwynn Daniels, Orator; Wayne Congleton, 1st Preceptor; Sidney Williamson, 2nd Preceptort; Billie Langham, 3rd Preceptor; Georgie Brown, 4th Preceptor.”

“On Stage in 5 Big Screens – Dr. Silini’s Asylum of Horrors – See FRANKENSTEIN Monster in Person – PIX, Fri., May 21, 10:30 p.m. One Show Only, On Screen.”

APRIL 27, 1933

“Castleberry, April 26 – Loading of 10 cars of strawberries here on Monday finally put the season’s shipments over the 100 mark. The total after Tuesday stood at 111 cars, 78 less than last year.”

“As announced in this paper some few weeks ago, the spring term of the Conecuh County Circuit Court will convene here next Monday, May 1.”

“Crops Destroyed By Hail Storms: Extensive damage to berry crops was reported from practically every section of the county from Saturday’s hailstorms which visited almost every neighborhood in the county.
“In some instances the stones were large, some communities reporting stones the size of guinea eggs, while in others they were smaller. Duration of the storms varied in the different localities, some reports saying the hail lasted from five to 15 minutes.
“A short distance south of Mt. Union the hail lasted from 10 to 15 minutes and practically ruined the berry crops in that section, as well as doing some damage to corn and other young crops.
“South of Herbert, the storms were of a freakish nature, having apparently split into two sections at one point, only to reunite after traveling a short distance in two sections.
“J.L. Padgett, who resides in that section, brought hailstones the size of large marbles to The Courant office Wednesday morning, which fell on his place Saturday. Mr. Padgett reported having made ice cream on two occasions from the hailstones.”

APRIL 24, 1918

“America’s Honor Roll: Every day new names are added to the casualty lists of American soldiers. The roll becomes longer with each battle. Names of boys we have known appear among the list of dead or wounded. In the past few days the news came to relatives from across the water that two of our noble Conecuh boys were victims of German guns. One is an Evergreen boy, Eugene Binion, son of Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Binion, the other from China, John Peagler, son of Mrs. Maggie Peagler, who has three splendid sons in the service. Fortunately, however, the news told that these young men suffered only slight wounds. But the list will grow longer as the war progresses, and it will not be uncommon to read many names of boys whom we have known in civil life.”

“Negroes to Lay Corner Stone First Sunday in May: The corner stone to the new industrial school for Negroes at Evergreen is to be laid the first Sunday in May, at which time Major R.R. Moton, the head of Tuskegee Institute, will deliver the principal address.
 “The school is located on 10 acres of land just outside the city limits of Evergreen and is to serve the needs of negro children not only of Evergreen, but also the county in the industrial branches.
“Major Moton is the successor to Booker T. Washington as head of the famous negro institution at Tuskegee and is considered a good speaker.”

APRIL 29, 1903

“NOTICE: On Monday the 4th day of May next, an election will be held for the purpose of electing a mayor and five councilmen for the Town of Evergreen, to serve for the ensuing 12 months. – H.A. Shields, Mayor.”

“H.E. Shaver was here one day last week for a quantity of wire and insulators to be used in constructing the telephone line from Mt. Union and Herbert to Evergreen. He says this line will be completed and ready for service this week. It will be one of the most substantial lines running out from this place. Mr. Shaver thinks it probable that the line will be extended to Brooklyn, a distance of about 11 miles, provided the citizens of that place desire it.”

“Evergreen has recently had two accessions to its list of practitioners at the bar in the persons of Charles J. and William H. Crawford, who successfully passed the supreme court examination last week.”

“A number of citizens met at the court house on Thursday afternoon to take steps towards the organization of the cemetery improvement society. No organization was effected however at this meeting, this matter being deferred to a later date. It was decided to set apart May 15 as a day to be devoted to work in the cemetery in the way of beautifying same. A committee was named to supervise this work as follows: P.M. Bruner, P.C. Walker, Jno Hill, J.C. Whitcomb, C.N. Stallworth and Mesdames H.T. Strout, C.P. Deming, H.A. Shields, E.M. Binion and Miss Pauline King.”

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 213: Read “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud’s 1952 novel “The Natural” is generally considered to be the greatest baseball novel ever written. It’s the type of book I’ve heard tons about over the years, but for whatever reason, I’d never read it, which kind of irked me. I put it on my “bucket list” a couple of years ago and finally finished reading it on Friday.

For those you unfamiliar with the novel, it’s about Roy Hobbs, an up-and-coming, 19-year-old baseball star, who has his career derailed just before his big break into the Major Leagues. A mysterious woman shoots him in the stomach, and it takes him years to recover. Fifteen years later, Hobbs eventually battles back and finally makes it into the Big Leagues when he’s in his mid-thirties.

Hobbs joins the fictional New York Knights and helps them fight their way out of the basement and into the hunt for a World Series title. Along the way, he’s plagued by a long list of problems that include health issues, hitting slumps, various female admirers and gamblers. Helping him navigate all of these problems, mostly those on the field, is his legendary bat, “Wonder Boy,” which he crafted from an old tree that was struck by lightning.

You’ll find this book on a wide variety of “best of” lists. In 2002, Sports Illustrated ranked it No. 24 on its list of “Top 100 Sports Books of All Time,” and the book is prominently lauded in Ron Kaplan’s 2013 book, “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die.” Interestingly, Stephen King, who is a huge Boston Red Sox fan, also listed “The Natural” on his 1981 list of his favorite horror books.

Many people will be familiar with "The Natural" thanks to the 1984 motion picture adaptation of the book, a film that was also called “The Natural.” Directed by Barry Levinson, this movie starred Robert Redford in the lead role of Roy Hobbs. Other cast members included Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger and Barbara Hershey.

I saw the movie years ago, so long ago that I can actually remember very little about it. Of course, now that I’ve read the book, I want to re-watch the movie. The movie version is also highly regarded, appearing on such “best of” lists as The Art of Manliness’ “Essential Men’s Movie Library” and the Art of Manliness’ “15 Best Baseball Movies.”

This novel also left me wanting to check out some of Malamud’s other books, especially “The Fixer,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Aside from “The Natural” and “The Fixer,” his other novels include “The Assistant” (1957), “A New Life” (1961), “Pictures of Fidelman: An Exhibition” (1969), “The Tenants” (1971), “Dubin’s Lives” (1979) and “God’s Grace” (1982). He also published a number of short stories and story collections.

In the end, how many of you have read Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural”? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? What other baseball novels would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for April 28, 2015

U.S. General Daniel Ullmann
April 28, 1686 - The first volume of Isaac Newton's "Principia Mathamatic" was published.

April 28, 1758 - James Monroe, the fifth U.S. President, was born at Monroe Hall, Virginia, British America.

April 28, 1776 - Col. Lachlan McIntosh wrote a letter to inform General George Washington that he was pleased with his recruitment efforts in the colony at Savannah, Ga.

April 28, 1788 – Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.

April 28, 1810 - Union General Daniel Ullmann was born in Wilmington, Delaware.

April 28, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Bolivar, Ala. and another was fought at Paint Rock Bridge, Ala.

April 28, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Town Creek, Ala.

April 28, 1863 – Union Col. Florence N. Cornyn and members of the 10th Missouri Cavalry destroyed the LaGrange College & Military Academy in Franklin County, Ala. and also burned hundreds of homes and businesses, including the Lafayette Academy.

April 28, 1910 – Confederate veteran L.A. Hendrix passed away at his home in Mexia, Ala. at the age of 72.

April 28, 1915 - The movie “The Poet of the Peak,” screenplay written by Alabama author Marie Stanley under her maiden name Marie Layet, was released.

April 28, 1926 - Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Ala. Her famous novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird, was published on July 11, 1960, and sold more than 2-1/2 million copies in the first year. On May 1, 1961, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

April 28, 1928 – Geologist and astronomer Eugene Shoemaker was born in Los Angeles, Calif.

April 28, 1930 – The first night game in organized baseball history took place in Independence, Kansas.

April 28, 1934 – Novelist Lois Duncan was born in Philadelphia, Pa.

April 28, 1937 – Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born in Al-Awja, Saladin Province, Iraq.

April 28, 1947 – Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl and his five-person crew set sail from Callao, Peru, on the 40-square-foot balsa wood raft “Kon-Tiki” to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. After a 4,300-mile, 101-day trip, they would reach Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti on Aug. 7, 1947.

April 28, 1950 – Poet Carolyn Forche was born in Detroit.

April 28, 1961 - The NFL chose Canton, Ohio as the site for the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

April 28, 1963 – The reorganized Conecuh County (Ala.) Amateur Baseball League opened its season on this Sunday afternoon with three games – Damascus at Paul, McKenzie at Red Level and Flat Rock vs. Mixonville in Evergreen. Bernard Powell was president of the league.

April 28, 1964 – Pro Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He went on to play his entire career for the Cincinnati Reds. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

April 28, 1965 - Alabama author George Wylie Henderson died in New York, N.Y.

April 28, 1970 - The Evergreen City Council approved the use of the ‘911’ emergency telephone number in the City of Evergreen, Ala.

April 28, 1971 - Hank Aaron hit his 600th career home run.

April 28, 1972 – Sparta Academy held its first ever athletic banquet at the Holiday Inn in Evergreen, Ala. Tommy Yearout, co-captain of the 1971 Auburn Tigers, was the guest speaker.

April 28, 1980 – Woodlands (also known as the Frederick Blount Plantation) in Gosport, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

April 28, 1981 – Evergreen, Ala. native and former NFL player Benjamin Rudolph drafted in the third round (60th pick overall) by the New York Jets.

April 28, 1985 - Billy Martin was named the manager of the New York Yankees for the fourth time.

April 28, 1988 - The Baltimore Orioles lost for the 21st consecutive time. It was the longest streak to start a season in Major League Baseball.

April 28, 1994 - The 100th episode of "The Simpsons" aired on FOX.

April 28, 2001 - Alabama author James Still died in Hazard, Ky.

April 28, 2001 - Millionaire Dennis Tito became the world's first space tourist. 

April 28, 2009 – “Loving Natalee: A Mother’s Testament of Hope and Faith” by Beth Holloway was published in paperback under the alternate title “Loving Natalee: The True Story of the Aruba Kidnapping and Its Aftermath.” The paperback edition includes additional material that wasn’t in the original hardback edition, which was published on Oct. 2, 2007.

April 28, 2011 – The Father Ryan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy rededicated the fountain erected in Greenville, Ala. in 1914 to mark the spot where a modified version of “Dixie” written by Miss Ina Marie Porter was first sung in 1861. Legend has it that Porter wrote the words on one day and it was sung the next day.

April 28, 2014 - Eight members of the “Three River Adventurers” arrived at Swamp House Landing near Pensacola, Fla., ending a historic 139-mile canoe trip from Travis Bridge to Pensacola. The group included Dalton Campbell of Owassa, Frank Murphy of Herbert, Sam Peacock of Repton, John Potts of Flat Rock, Ed Salter of Repton, Joel Williams of Evergreen, Marc Williams of Evergreen and Evergreen native Larry Yeargan of Coosada.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Tues., April 28, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): Trace.

Week to Date Rainfall: Trace.

Month to Date Rainfall: 6.10 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 16.65 inches

Notes: Today is the 118th day of 2015 and the 40th day of Spring. There are 247 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Today in History for April 27, 2015

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan
April 27, 1521 – During the Battle of Mactan, explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by natives in the Philippines led by chief Lapu-Lapu. He was 40 (or 41) years old.

April 27, 1773 - The British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which eventually led to the so-called Boston Tea Party on Dec. 16, 1773.

April 27, 1777 – During the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Ridgefield, a British invasion force engaged and defeated Continental Army regulars and militia irregulars at Ridgefield, Conn.

April 27, 1813 – American general and explorer Zebulon Pike, age 34, was killed in action during the Battle of York at York, Ontario, Upper Canada.

April 27, 1822 - Ulysses S. Grant, who served as the 18th U.S. President and as the Lt. General in command of all Union armies during the U.S. Civil War, was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

April 27, 1825 – The Henderson, a 123-ton steamboat, sank in the Alabama River, about one mile from Claiborne, Ala. after colliding with another boat, the Balize. The Henderson went down with a load of ‘barrels of fine whiskey, brandy and wines.’

April 27, 1835 – William Crosby became postmaster at Burnt Corn, Ala. (Some sources say April 17, 1835)

April 27, 1840 - Climber, explorer and illustrator Edward Whymper was born in London, England. He is best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Whymper also made important first ascents on the Mont Blanc massif and in the Pennine Alps, South America and the Canadian Rockies.

April 27, 1861 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus between Washington and Philadelphia to give the military the necessary power to silence dissenters and rebels.

April 27, 1861 - West Virginia seceded from Virginia after Virginia seceded from the Union during the American Civil War.

April 27, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Bridgeport, Ala.

April 27, 1862 – Co. D of the 5th Alabama Infantry was reorganized as Co. C with Capt. Thomas Mercer Riley as commander, in Rodes Division, Army of Northern Virginia.

April 27, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Army of the Potomac began marching on Chancellorsville.

April 27, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Town Creek, Ala.

April 27, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Decatur, Ala.

April 27, 1865 – The steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River near Memphis, killing 1,800, most of whom are Union survivors of the Andersonville and Cahaba Prisons. The Sultana accident is still the largest maritime disaster in U.S. history.

April 27, 1892 – Jesse Hildreth, one of the men who helped capture outlaw train robber Rube Burrow in 1890, was shot and killed by Jack Singleton when one of Singleton’s “women” sought refuge at the Hildreth cabin when Singleton’s cabin was flooded.

April 27, 1896 – Pro Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman and manager Rogers Hornsby was born in Winters, Texas. He went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Giants, the Boston Braves, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Browns. He also managed the Cardinals, the Giants, the Braves, the Cubs, the Browns and the Reds. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1942.

April 27, 1897 - Grant's Tomb was dedicated in New York City.

April 27, 1898 – Children’s author Ludwig Bemelmans was born in Meran, Tyrol, Austria.

April 27, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that Castleberry, Ala. was “one of the busiest places in this section” due to the opening of the strawberry harvest season. The population of the town was usually around 250, but at that time, it was nearer to 3,000 with 2,000 berry pickers being there as well as commission men, spectators and prospectors. In and around Castleberry, around 600 acres were planted in strawberries with “new farms are being opened up all the time.”

April 27-28, 1912 – A special excursion train ran from Montgomery to New Orleans on the L&N Railroad, so that fans could go watch the “baseball game between Montgomery and New Orleans teams.” The train left Montgomery at 7 p.m. on April 27 and stops along the route included McGehees, Tyson, Letohatchie, Calhoun, Fort Deposit, Greenville, Chapman, Garland, Owassa, Evergreen, Castleberry, Kirkland, Brewton, Pollard, Flomaton and arrived in New Orleans at 6:39 a.m. on April 28. Fairs ranged between $5 and $3.50. The train was to leave New Orleans at 9:30 p.m. on April 28.

April 27, 1915 – Shortly after noon, the residence of Postmaster S.M. Roberts in Monroeville, Ala. caught fire, but was extinguished before much damage was done.

April 27, 1916 – Pro Baseball Hall of Fame right fielder Enos Slaughter was born in Roxboro, N.C. He went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Yankees, the Kansas City Athletics and the Milwaukee Braves. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

April 27, 1927 – Construction of rest rooms and an office began at the Lone Star Service Station in Evergreen, Ala.

April 27, 1938 - A colored baseball was used for the first time in any baseball game. The ball was yellow and was used between Columbia and Fordham Universities in New York City.

April 27, 1941 – NFL linebacker and center Lee Roy Jordan was born in Excel, Ala. He would go on to play for Alabama and the Dallas Cowboys.

April 27, 1945 – Playwright August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh, Penn.

April 27, 1947 - "Babe Ruth Day" was celebrated at Yankee Stadium.

April 27, 1951 – Army Sgt. Wilmer T. Wyatt of Covington County, Ala. was killed in action in Korea.

April 27, 1955 – The Evergreen (Ala.) Pilot Club was established with Mrs. J.R. Taylor as the club’s first president.

April 27, 1968 – Paul Kardow, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians and managed the Evergreen (Ala.) Greenies in the 1930s, passed away at the age of 52 in San Antonio, Texas.

April 27, 1972 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Ellis Wayne Golson of Lyeffion, Ala. had been notified by Major General Verne L. Bower, U.S. Army Adjutant General, that he had received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He was to report to the school on July 3.

April 27, 1983 – Houston Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan passed Walter Johnson for career strikeouts with 3,509. Johnson held the game’s career strikeout record for 62 years – almost twice as long as Babe Ruth was the home run king. Ryan finally knocked him off the perch with his 3,509th strikeout on April 27, 1983. By the time he was done, Ryan would own 5,714.

April 27, 1986 - "Good evening HBO from Captain Midnight," began the bizarre text message which hijacked the HBO airwaves, for almost five minutes on this date. The message went on to protest HBO's pricing change for satellite subscribers. "Captain Midnight" turned out to be John R. MacDougall, who ended up getting caught by the FCC, charged a $10,000 fine and put on one year of probation.

April 27, 1994 – The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the future site of the Conecuh County Department of Human Resources building.

April 27, 2007 – In connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway of Mountain Brook, Ala., a new search involving some 20 investigators was launched at the Van der Sloot family residence in Aruba. Dutch authorities searched the yard and surrounding area, using shovels and thin metal rods to penetrate the dirt.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Mon., April 27, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 6.10 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 16.65 inches

Notes: Today is the 117th day of 2015 and the 39th day of Spring. There are 248 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

120-year-old news highlights from The Monroe Journal from April 1895

The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville, Ala., under the direction of Editor and Proprietor Q. Salter, published four editions 120 years ago during the month of April 1895. Three of those issues (April 4, April 11 and April 25) can be found on microfilm at the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, Ala. The April 18 issue is missing from the microfilm records there. What follows are a few news highlights from the three editions that are available on microfilm. Enjoy.

APRIL 4, 1895

According to the “Meteorological Record” for the month of March 1895 as recorded at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Weather Bureau Station at Claiborne, Ala., 1.10 inches of rain fell on March 2, 2.1 inches on March 8, 1.7 inches on March 11, 1.2 on March 13 and 1.0 on March 14. Total rainfall for the month measured 8.0 inches.

Dr. Yarbrough has erected a commodious new barn and vehicle shed adjoining his livery stables, affording improved facilities for the accommodation of patrons of the City Hotel.

The Bear Creek Mill Company: Messrs. W.H. Louiselle and L.N. Lambert of the Bear Creek Mill Co. were in Monroeville this week and gave this office a pleasant call. The entire interests of the former stockholders in the Bear Creek Company’s property has been recently purchased by Messrs. Louiselle and Zimmerman who having ample capital and extensive timber rights are preparing to make a number of improvements in the near future. The company will within a few months begin the construction of a standard gauge railroad from the mill connecting with the L&N branch road at Repton, giving better access to the northern markets for their manufactured products. The road will pass about four miles south of Monroeville.

Sheriff Harrengton returned from Coalburg a few days ago, having in custody a negro prisoner wanted in this county for housebreaking.

APRIL 11, 1895

The alarm of fire created considerable excitement for a few moments in our quiet village on last Saturday night. One of the large hanging lamps which illume the dining hall of the Watson House fell to the floor and the escaping oil becoming ignited filled the room with smoke and fire and threatened the immediate destruction of the building. A large crowd was soon attracted to the scene and by the vigorous application of water and removal of inflammatory material the fire was soon extinguished.

Hon. E.R. Morrisette, United States Marshal for the Southern District of Alabama, was in Monroeville this week circulating among his many friends.

It is reported that White Caps have been operating recently in the neighborhood of Tekoa, this county. Their attention has thus far been devoted to the colored people of the community, though there is no certainty that it will not be directed to white citizens as well. About two weeks ago, says our informant, an inoffensive negro against whom no crime was charged other than the performance of industrious labor, received written notice to leave the community on pain of death. Failing to heed the warning, he was a few days later fired upon while quietly at work in the field. It is understood that warnings have been served on other negroes in the community. Here is a subject for investigation by the grand jury which will convene on the 22nd inst.

IN MEMORIAM: McMILLAN – At Monroeville, Ala., March 7th, 1895, Dr. W.W. McMillan quietly passed to his reward. He was born near Scotland church, Monroe County, Ala., Nov. 21st, 1895, where his preliminary education was taken, afterwards attending Tulane University, New Orleans, La., graduating there, then spent two years at Mobile Medical College, practiced medicine with remarkable success at Claiborne, Stockton, Mobile and spending his last years in practice at Scotland and Monroeville where his boyhood days were spent.

APRIL 18, 1895

***** This issue of The Monroe Journal is missing from the microfilm files at the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, Ala. *****

APRIL 25, 1895

An Atrocious Murder: From gentlemen living in the northeastern portion of the county, near the Butler line, attending court this week, The Journal learns of the atrocious murder of Mr. Watts Murphy by three negroes on last Wednesday, the 17th inst.
Mr. Murphy had the negroes employed in cutting logs. As he approached them to give some directions concerning the work one of the negroes struck him on the neck or shoulder with an axe, felling him to the ground. They then piled up logs and brush over the body and set the heap on fire. The young man was missed, and search made for him, but no trace could be found. The peculiar action of the negroes excited the suspicions of the neighbors, and they were arrested, and one of them made a full and detailed confession of the horrible crime, implicating five others – four men and two women. Their names were: Cal Johnson, Fred Douglas, Jim Calhoun, Sim Jernigan, Mary Davis and a woman called “Jenny.”
The murderers were arrested and taken in custody by a posse and started for Greenville jail.
LATER – Since the above was written, a special from Greenville to the Montgomery Advertiser says the posse having in custody the murderers of Watts Murphy was met near the Buckalew place Saturday night by an armed mob and the prisoners taken by force and hung and their bodies left dangling from the limbs of trees.
An investigation by Sheriff Bargainer failed to elicit any information as to who composed the mob.

We are requested to announce that there will be a meeting of the Confederate Veterans in the courthouse on next Wednesday immediately after noon adjournment of court.

Jones Mill: The white cap fever is not raging quite so high as for some time past. We have heard of several parties receiving written notice to leave the community. We presume, the grand jury will put a quietus on this kind of business.

The spring term of the Circuit Court convened at 12 o’clock on Mon., April 22, 1895, Judge John C. Anderson presiding and Solicitor Benjamin F. Elmore, representing the state.
The criminal docket, which will not be taken up until next week, is unusually heavy and it is quite likely that the entire week will be consumed. There are two capital cases for trial, one for murder and another for arson.

Today in History for April 26, 2015

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston
April 26, 1607 - The British established an American colony at Cape Henry, Va. It was the first permanent English establishment in the Western Hemisphere.

April 26, 1711 - David Hume was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. His essay "Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth" greatly affected the ideas of the drafters of the American federal Constitution.

April 26, 1819 - The first Odd Fellows lodge in the U.S. was established in Baltimore, Md.

April 26, 1865 – During the Civil War, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his army, the Army of Tennessee, to General William Tecumseh Sherman at the Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina. Also the date of Confederate Memorial Day for two states.

April 26, 1865 - John Wilkes Booth. 26, was shot and killed when Union soldiers tracked him down to a Virginia farm 12 days after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

April 26, 1900 – Pro Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Hack Wilson was born in Ellwood City, Pa. He would go on to play for the New York Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.

April 26, 1912 - Hugh Bradley of the Boston Red Sox hit the first home run in Fenway Park.

April 26, 1914 – Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is best known for his classic 1952 baseball novel, “The Natural.”

April 26, 1915 – The P.D. Bowles Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy held a Confederate Memorial Day ceremony at the Evergreen Cemetery in Evergreen, Ala. It was the first ceremony of its type in Evergreen and an estimated crowd of more than 500 attended. Mrs. E.C. Page, president of the UDC Chapter, was the master of ceremonies, and Dr. J.G. Dickinson, pastor of the Baptist Church, delivered the memorial address.

April 26, 1917 – Major League Baseball pitcher Virgil Trucks was born in Birmingham, Ala. He would go on to play for the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Browns, the Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Athletics and the New York Yankees.

April 26, 1921 - Weather broadcasts were heard for the first time on radio in St. Louis, Mo.

April 26, 1931 - New York Yankee Lou Gehrig hit a home run but was called out for passing a runner.

April 26, 1933 – The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, was established.

April 26, 1941 - An organ was played at a baseball stadium for the first time in Chicago, Ill.

April 26, 1946 – American miner, explorer and park ranger James Larkin White passed away at the age of 63 in Carlsbad, N.M. He is best remembered as the discoverer, early promoter and explorer of what is known today as Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico.

April 26, 1948 - A 750-pound calf owned by James Norris was judged Grand Champion during the Evergreen Jaycees’ Second Annual Fat Calf Show in Evergreen, Ala.

April 26, 1951 – Army Sgt. Paul R. Goodson of Escambia County, Ala. was killed in action in Korea.

April 26, 1954 – English mountaineer and explorer Alan Hinkes was born in Northallerton in North Yorkshire. Hinkes was the first British mountaineer to have claimed all 14 mountains with elevations greater than 8000 metres, the so-called Eight-thousanders.

April 26, 1966 - Alabama author Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Miss.

April 26, 1973 – The Old Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Ala. was added to National Register of Historic Places.

April 26, 1973 – The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

April 26, 1988 - Deatrich Wendell Wise of Evergreen, a senior at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., was selected seventh in the ninth round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

April 26, 1995 - Coors Field officially opened in Denver, Colo. The Rockies beat the New York Mets, 11-9, in 14 innings.

April 26, 2007 – Major League Baseball’s Will Clark was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., April 26, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.45 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.45 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 6.10 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 16.65 inches

Notes: Today is the 116th day of 2015 and the 38th day of Spring. There are 249 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

'King of turkey hunting: Cousin Jake was the best'

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “King of turkey hunting: Cousin Jake was the best,” was originally published in the April 8, 1982 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

There are people who strive for total perfection in their chosen professions. There are those who, through some powers or happenings, gain total perfection without really ever trying.

The art of turkey hunting is truly a sport that requires total perfection if one is to be successful.

This is a story about a man I knew as I was growing up. He was probably the most successful of all the turkey hunters in the area. If some kind of record had been kept, he would probably have equaled the best in the state and maybe the nation.

I will call this man Cousin Jake. This was not his full name, of course, but a nickname that he gave himself. Everyone he saw, whether he knew them or not, he called “cousin.” So after a while, the name “Cousin Jake” was given to him by all who knew him for the rest of his life.

Heavy and hungry

Cousin Jake did not appear to be a man who was an expert in anything. He was a large man, heavy set, and with an extra large stomach. This was due largely to the never-ending hunger pains that he said he suffered from.

He wore no special or camouflage hunting clothing when he hunted turkeys. His garb was always a pair of overalls with a jumper. He never wore a shirt under the jumper or even an undershirt. Winter and summer, always, overalls and a jumper and high-top brogans. He usually kept about a three-day growth of whiskers. Three days without shaving for Cousin Jake equaled about 10 days for most men.

He also had the tobacco-chewing habit. He always had a “chew” in his jaw unless he was doing what he loved most, trying to kill that hunger pain that bothered him so much. He said chewing tobacco kept the mosquitoes and bugs away. Once the tobacco got in your system, the bugs and mosquitoes would not bother you, he said. And I believed that.

His turkey hunting equipment consisted of a small cow horn, about three inches long, with a short piece of fat lightwood splinter in the small end. He would rub the end of the lightwood with a short piece of slate. This turkey caller seemed as old as Cousin Jake. This equipment was always kept in the bib pocket of his overalls. Nothing else was kept there, not even his chewing tobacco.

His gun was even older than his turkey caller. It was a single-shot 12-guage. The stock had been reinforced by wrapping copper wire around it just below the trigger guard. The ejector that was supposed to eject the empty shells from the firing chamber had long since worn out. But this didn’t bother Cousin Jake – he carried with him a piece of brass, just a little smaller than the shells he used. After firing the 12-guage long tom he would unbreech the gun and then drop the small piece of brass down the barrel.

This would knock the empty shell loose and it and the brass would fall to the ground – but Cousin Jake had perfected the skill to the point that he always caught the brass. This kept him from having to bend over and pick it up.

Besides being a great turkey hunter, he was without a doubt, one of the best mechanics around. He drove an old pickup truck that looked like it would not go another mile. It looked like an accident waiting for a place to happen. Each of the six sparkplugs had a “jump spark” on it. This was to keep them from fouling, and delay the timing just a bit. No one knew for sure just how Cousin Jake kept this truck going, but it always carried him wherever he wanted to go.

Largest gobblers

Cousin Jake was not one to break the game laws. He always said that if he couldn’t kill a turkey legally, he would not bother to kill one at all. But he always managed to seek out the largest gobblers, always the ones with the longest beards. He had dozens of turkey feet tacked to the wall inside the hallway of his house. He always carried the longest beard of the year in his jumper pocket to show around.

Cousin Jake won all of the turkey-calling contests. He would pull the caller from the bib pocket of his overalls and after he was through calling and yelping, there was no doubt who was the best. He would show off a little by using his mouth or a fresh oak leaf from his overall pocket. Yes, sir, Cousin Jake was the king; no one would argue that fact.

The sound of his old caller and the blast of his rickety old shotgun is silent now. Cousin Jake was killed in a logging accident a few years back. A kind of sadness lingers when the old turkey hunters around home gather to swap their stories. But I know that somewhere up there Cousin Jake is hunting turkeys, and if the Lord himself is around for just a moment, Cousin Jake is calling him Cuz.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Today in History for April 25, 2015

Andrew Jackson Smith
April 25, 1777 – Nicholas Stallworth Sr., one of the original settlers of Conecuh County, was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina.

April 25, 1781 - British General Lord Charles Cornwallis retreated to Wilmington, North Carolina from Guilford Courthouse. He had been defeated by a militia under the command of American Major General Nathanael Greene.

April 25, 1792 - The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

April 25, 1846 - The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas' southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

April 25, 1861 – Store clerk Alfred Christian of Evergreen, Ala., a native of Virginia, enlisted in the Confederate army at Sparta in Conecuh County. Christian was elected Brevet 2nd Lt., and his commission expired on Oct. 9, 1862 at Raccoon Ford, Va. He was appointed 2nd Lt., and his commission expired on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg. He was named Orderly Sgt. and was appointed 1st Lt. on Feb. 6, 1864. Christian survived the war and moved to Texas. At the time of his enlistment, Alfred lived with his brother, George Christian, who briefly served as Evergreen’s postmaster in 1856-57. When the Civil War began, George was exempted from service because he was a Justice of the Peace. George Christian is buried in the Burford Cemetery, but has no grave marker.

April 25, 1862 – During the Civil War, forces under Union Admiral David Farragut demanded the surrender of the Confederate city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Union troops officially took possession on April 29.

April 25, 1864 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Marks' Mills took place in Cleveland County, Ark. During the battle, Confederate forces under General James Fagan captured a Union wagon train attempting to supply Federal forces at Camden, Ark. Union General Frederick Steele was forced to withdraw back to Little Rock.

April 25, 1864 - After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, La.

April 25, 1865 – Having departed the battlefield at Blakely near Mobile, Ala. on April 14, the Federal 16th Corps under Major General A.J. Smith arrived in Montgomery, formally beginning the Union occupation of the city of Montgomery.

April 25, 1873 – Writer Howard R. Garis was born in Binghamton, N.Y.

April 25, 1884 – At the Calhoun House in downtown Huntsville, Ala., which was used as a federal courthouse, desperado Frank James was tried and found not guilty for the robbery of a government payroll near Muscle Shoals, Ala. on May 11, 1881. One of his defense attorneys was Huntsville’s LeRoy Pope Walker, first secretary of war of the Confederate States of America.

April 25, 1891 – Army Pvt. Louis Hayles of Eliska, Ala., who was killed in action during World War I on Nov. 11, 1918 (one day before the war ended), was born.

April, 25, 1892 – French explorer of the Sahara Henri Duveyrier passed away at the age of 52 in Sevres, a suburb of Paris.

April 25, 1892 – Estonian-German geologist and explorer Karl von Ditmar passed away at the age of 69 in Tartu, Livonia.

April 25, 1898 - The U.S. declared war on Spain one day after Spain had declared war on the U.S., marking the start of the Spanish-American War.

April 25, 1901 - The American League debuted at the Chicago Cricket Club. Chicago defeated Cleveland, 8-2.

April 25, 1905 - Dr. R.A. Smith of Monroeville, Ala. left for New York to accompany a patient who was to be operated upon.

April 25, 1907 - Alabama author Sara Elizabeth Mason was born.

April 25, 1909 – Pro Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman John Franklin "Home Run" Baker hit his first and only grand slam.

April 25, 1933 – The organizational meeting of the Central Alabama Baseball League was held in Greenville, Ala. on this Tuesday with four clubs as members – Evergreen, Greenville, Ft. Deposit and Luverne. League officers included Lucian Glass of Ft. Deposit, president, and Loyce Hyde of Evergreen, Merrit McLendon of Luverne, Carl Golson of Ft. Deposit and Floyd Ziegler of Greenville, league directors.

April 25, 1939 – Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa.

April 25, 1942 – Judge Chauncey Sparks, who was running for Alabama governor, was scheduled to speak from a band stand in Evergreen’s business section on this Saturday at 4 p.m. Sparks went on to serve as governor form Jan. 19, 1943 to Jan. 20, 1947.

April 25, 1944 - The United Negro College Fund was established by Tuskegee president F. D. Patterson after convincing 26 other black colleges to "pool their small monies and make a united appeal to the national conscience." Since its founding, UNCF has raised more than a billion dollars in support of its member institutions.

April 25, 1945 - Albert B. "Happy" Chandler was unanimously elected baseball commissioner.

April 25, 1949 – Poet and journalist James Fenton was born in Lincoln, England.

April 25, 1951 – Army Cpl. Terry S. McCall of Escambia County, Ala. killed in action in Korea.

April 25, 1952 – Novelist Padgett Powell was born in Gainesville, Fla.

April 25, 1954 - A television version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story "Vengeance" was broadcast as part of the “Your Favorite Story” series.

April 25, 1957 – The Evergreen Courant reported that, just as they were going to press, they learned that a woman had been killed and a man and child were injured in a one-car accident two miles north of the Ray Brothers Store on Highway 31 North of Evergreen, Ala. An ID card on the man identified him as James Cannon of 809 North M St., Pensacola, Fla. The woman and child were not identified in the story.

April 25, 1959 – The Saint Lawrence Seaway, a waterway system of locks, canals and channels that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, opened. The first ship to navigate the seaway was an icebreaker, the D'Iberville.

April 25, 1960 – The United States Navy submarine USS Triton completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe.

April 25, 1961 - A television version of Alabama author Mary Elizabeth Counselman's story "Parasite Mansion" was broadcast as part of the “Thriller” series.

April 25, 1963 – The Evergreen Courant reported that an article titled “County Organized for Farm-to-Market Roadwork,” written by Conecuh County Engineer Marion Wilkins, had been published in the April 1963 issue of “Rural Roads,” a nationally circulated magazine concerned with the building of federal, state, county and township roads.

April 25, 1974 - Pam Morrison, Jim Morrison's widow, died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

April 25, 1974 - Tampa Bay was awarded the NFL's 27th franchise.

April 25, 1990 - The crew of space shuttle Discovery placed the Hubble Space Telescope into a Low Earth Orbit. Initially, Hubble's operators suffered a setback when a lens aberration was discovered, but a repair mission by space-walking astronauts in December 1993 successfully fixed the problem, and Hubble began sending back its first breathtaking images of the universe.

April 25, 1995 - Darryl Strawberry was sentenced to three years probation, six months of house confinement and a $350,000 fine. Strawberry had avoided prison for tax evasion.

April 25, 1996 - The Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers combined for the most runs in 26 years. The Twins won with a final score of 24-11.

April 25, 1997 – Walter Eugene “Gene” Garrett of Uriah, Ala. passed away at the age of 68 in a Mobile hospital. He was a 1947 graduate of Marion Institute and a 1953 graduate of the University of Alabama. He received his law degree from Alabama in 1953 and went on to serve as a state legislator, special judge and member of the Alabama Constitution Revision Committee. In 1963, he purchased the historic King Plantation House at Packer’s Bend and moved it board by board to Uriah.

April 25, 2011 – Sweetwater Mansion in Florence, Ala. was featured on an episode of A&E’s “Paranormal State.”