Monday, February 29, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 261: Read “Confederates in the Attic” by Tony Horwitz

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, and I’m always on the lookout for books about that conflict, especially those that come highly recommended. A number of years ago, National Geographic magazine published a best-of list called “Around the World in 80 Books,” and that list included the Civil War book, “Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Horwitz. I’d already heard a lot about this book and had wanted to read it, so I officially added it to my “bucket list.”

For those of you unfamiliar with “Confederates in the Attic,” it was first released in March 1998 and tells of an around the south trip that Horwitz made in an effort to understand the ongoing fascination with the American Civil War. Horwitz’s extended Civil War trip took him to North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. Along the way, he throws in with a bunch of hardcore reenactors and visits a wide variety of Civil War sites.

I especially enjoyed the portions of the book set in Alabama, and I was surprised to read that Horwitz visited or passed through places not far from where I live, including Opp, Elba, Selma and Montgomery. Having an outsider like Horwitz give his views and observations about places I’m familiar with was not only enlightening, but also very entertaining. I also learned some things those places that I didn’t know, for example, that the oldest living Confederate widow was still alive and well in Elba on up into the 1990s.

I also enjoyed the portions of the book that talked about the behind-the-scenes world of Civil War reenactors and how there are some who are more hardcore than others. While some reenactors settle for just any old Civil War costume gear, others obsess over things like having infantry pants so authentic that they’re correct all the way down to the thread-count. These portions of the book will also leave you wanting to get your own reenacting gear and spend you weekends running around old battlefields.

This book also left me wanting to read Horwitz’s other books, which include “One for the Road: A Hitchhiker's Outback” (1987),Baghdad Without A Map” (1991), “Blue Latitudes” (2002), “Into the Blue” (2003), The Devil May Care: 50 Intrepid Americans and Their Quest for the Unknown” (2003), “A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World” (2008), Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War” (2011) and BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever” (2014). I especially want to read “Midnight Rising,” and if these books are as entertaining as “Confederates in the Attic,” then I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

In the end, how many of you have read “Confederates in the Attic”? What did you think about it? What other Civil War books would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for Feb. 29, 2016

Feb. 29, 1504 – Christopher Columbus used his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.

Feb. 29, 1692 – In connection with the Salem witchcraft trials, based on formal complaints from Joseph Hutchinson, Thomas Putnam, Edward Putnam and Thomas Preston, Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin issue warrants to arrest Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba for afflicting Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard.

Feb. 29, 1836 - Santa Anna sent troops toward Goliad to intercept Texan reinforcements reportedly being brought by James W. Fannin. Mexican troops are also positioned east of the Alamo, completing the encirclement of the besieged garrison. Evidence indicates an informal truce completed today may have allow some civilians inside the Alamo to leave.

Feb. 29, 1864 – During the Civil War, on Leap Year Day, Federal General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry raiders split into two wings on their way south to Richmond. Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren and 500 troopers swung out further west as Kilpatrick and 3,000 men rode on to the outskirts of Richmond. The raid stalled there, and Dahlgren was killed in an ambush. The raid was part of a plan to free 15,000 Union soldiers held near Richmond and spread word of President Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which allowed a pardon and restoration of property for Confederates willing to cease the rebellion.

Feb. 29, 1920 – Poet Howard Nemerov was born in New York City.

Feb. 29 1940 – For her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind,” Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

Feb. 29, 1972 - South Korea pulled 11,000 troops out of Vietnam as part of its program to withdraw all of its 48,000 troops from the country. The South Korean contingent had begun arriving in country on Feb. 26, 1965, as part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the “many flags” program. At the height of the Korean commitment in 1969, there were over 47,800 Korean soldiers actively involved in combat operations in South Vietnam. The South Korean troop withdrawal reflected the trend among other Free World Military Force participants, who had already withdrawn or were beginning to withdraw their troops, following the lead of the United States as it drastically reduced its troops commitment in South Vietnam.

Feb. 29, 1972 - Hank Aaron signed a three-year deal with the Atlanta Braves that paid him $200,000 per year, making him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball at the time. Two years later, Aaron became baseball’s home run king when he broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing record.

Feb. 29, 1976 – Major League Baseball outfielder Terrence Long was born in Montgomery, Ala. He went on to play for the New York Mets, the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres, the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees.

Feb. 29, 1980 – Evergreen High School’s varsity boys basketball team, led by head coach Charles Branum, won the area tournament championship game by beating Monroe County High School, 71-44, at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton. Horace Smith led Evergreen with 25, and Perona Rankins scored 16; Joe Mitchell, 11; Philander Rodgers, eight; Johnny Allen, five; Sanford Moye, four; Russell Bozeman, two. Evergreen had four players on the all-tournament team. They were Sanford Moye, Joe Mitchell, Horace Smith and Perona Rankins.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Mon., Feb. 29, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.65 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 19.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 9.35 inches

Notes: Today in the 60th day of 2016 and the 70th day of Winter. There are 306 days left in the year.

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

Sunday, February 28, 2016

130-year-old news highlights from The Monroe Journal from Feb. 1886

The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville, Ala., under the direction of manager Q. Salter, published four editions 130 years ago during the month of February 1886. Those issues, which were dated Feb. 5, Feb. 12, Feb. 19 and Feb. 26, can be found on microfilm at the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, Ala. What follows are a few news highlights from those four editions. Enjoy.

FEB. 5, 1886

County court convened last Monday. Commissioners Court will convene next Monday, the 8th inst.

Mr. Lindsey Downs says that large numbers of frogs were frozen in his field on Limestone during the late cold spell.

Several nice tombs have been erected at the Baptist and Methodist graveyards recently.

Mr. John I. Watson and Ernest Ricou will open a new family grocery store in town in a few weeks.

The Monroe County Medical Society met in Monroeville last Monday. There were only three physicians present at the meeting: Drs. McMillan, Packer and Russell.

Ex-Sheriff Burns and Mr. Richard Nettes of Buena Vista were in town Monday.

Editor Robbins of the Pineapple Enterprise was in town Wednesday and gave The Journal a call.

One day last week, three young ladies while walking the Perdido trestle near Wilson, Ala., heard a train approaching and they became very much excited and while endeavoring to make it across, one of the party, Miss Minnie Harrington, missed her footing and fell a distance of 20 feet. We learn she is slowly recovering. – Brewton Times.

Mr. F.A. Seymour was stricken very suddenly and severely with apoplexy last Tuesday morning about 11 a.m., while sitting near the fire in the post office. Sheriff Burns chanced to be near and ran to his assistance. Dr. Russell was called in and immediately began treatment. At this writing (Thursday evening) Mr. Seymour is doing as well as could be reasonably expected.

Mr. J.B. Coleman, a brother of Mrs. Anna Fore, returned from Texas last week and has taken charge of his sister’s store.

Mr. John A. Riley, a rising merchant of Buena Vista, was in town Monday.

Col. Bertrand Hibbard, late consul general to Caracas, has returned to Alabama, and paid a visit to his old home at Monroeville last week. The Colonel is a genial and companionable gentleman, with whom you naturally love to be thrown in contact because he is entertaining and instructive as well as agreeable. Col. Hibbard gave up his position because his continued stay at Caracas would have necessitated the removal of his family there which was not desirable on account of the unhealthy climate of that country. He will locate in Alabama.

Business is rather dull in Monroeville.

Monroeville has two blacksmith and one wood shop.

When completed Mr. Sam Yarbrough will have the handsomest residence in or near town.

Capt. W.E. Kemp of Kempville was in Monroeville Tuesday.

Mr. Thomas Clausell is still very sick.

FEB. 12, 1886

Justice Salter’s court was in session Monday.

Commissioners court was in session from Monday to Thursday until 12 p.m.

Mr. M.M. Graham has been appointed Superintendent of Education of this county and his bond has been filed.

The county jail contains only three prisoners.

Mr. John Watson will move into his new store next week.

Buena Vista - Mr. S.M.C. Middleton seems to be making the best progress of any of our farmers; he has cleared up a great deal of Flat Creek land and intends building a bridge across the creek to his land and will, doubtless, have a fine plantation in perfect condition ere long.

Perdue Hill – Mrs. I.R. Marshall had the misfortune to lose her dwelling and its contents, near Perdue Hill, by fire Saturday night, the 6th inst. The fire originated in the kitchen, from a box of ashes and had made such progress before it was discovered that it was impossible to extinguish it. Nothing was saved from the fire but that was so badly damaged as to render it useless.
Mrs. Marshall’s residence was one of the finest in the county and her loss is estimated at about $8,000.

Sheriff Burns has been ill for some time but is now able to be on the streets.

Col. Hibbard returned to Mobile Tuesday.

Mr. F.A. Seymour is reported as improving slowly.

Eggs are worth 15 cents per dozen in Monroeville.

Our merchants ship both by way of Claiborne and Repton.

Rev. B.J. Skinner will fill his regular appointment at the Baptist church next Sunday.

If you need any horse shoeing done, call Charlie Yarbrough.

Mr. T.J. Emmons has received his new saw machinery.

The farmers are not purchasing as much guano this year as they did last.

Dr. H.T. Fountain of Burnt Corn was in town Monday.

N.C. Thames, Esq., of Claiborne was in Monroeville Monday.

Dr. W.W. McMillan of Glendale was in town Monday.

J.D. Frye, Esq., of Perdue Hill was in Monroeville Tuesday.

Dr. G.G. Stallworth of Newtown Academy was in town last Wednesday on professional business.

Dr. W.E. Whisenhunt of Buena Vista was in attendance upon the commissioners court.

FEB. 19, 1886

Two more prisoners were jailed last week.

Mr. Ernest Ricou’s handsome new storehouse is rapidly nearing completion and will be ready in a few days for the reception of his goods, where he will be pleased to see and wait upon his many friends.

We have heard numerous remarks made about the dilapidated condition of the graveyard at the Methodist church, recently, and not without cause, as the leaves of two winters or more have been suffered to collect on many of the mounds, almost erased by age – that mark the last resting place of those whom we love and who were once among us. The fencing, also, around many of the graves has fallen into decay. This matter ought to be attended to out of respect to them.

Rev. M.M. Graham of Burnt Corn, recently appointed superintendent of education of this county, was in town Wednesday.

Mr. John McDuffie of River Ridge, one of Monroe’s most successful farmers, was in Monroeville Wednesday.

Sheriff Burns has been absent for several days on official business.

Postmaster Seymour is improving slowly.

DIED – in Monroeville on Sunday morning, the 14 inst. after an illness of several weeks, Mr. Thomas Clausell.

Chancery Court – The February term of the Chancery court for this county adjourned yesterday evening after dispatching an unusual amount of business for one day. Chancellor Foster seems to be so familiar with his duties that he is enabled to make his decisions with great promptness and at the same time with correctness.
Among the visiting attorneys were S.J. Cumming, Esq., of Camden, who is always on time. J.C. Richardson, Esq., of Greenville and who is a law partner of Hon. John Gamble and C.J. Torrey, Esq., of Mobile.

Mr. Charles McKnight and family of Fisher, Minnesota, whose arrival we inadvertently failed to mention last week, are visiting relatives at Claiborne.

Capt. DeLoach returned from Mobile last Tuesday.

There has been some talk of a temperance organization at this place.

Capt. Wiggins paid a visit to his sister, Mrs. Lindsey, at Buena Vista last week.

Dr. J.M. Wiggins and family of Lower Peach Tree spent several days with Mr. L.R. Wiggins last week.

Messrs. S.L. Ellis and J.A. Jackson of Repton were in town last week.

Mr. J.A. Hightower of Nero, this county, was stopping at the Watson House yesterday.

Mr. Frank Emmons of Mt. Pleasant was in town yesterday.

Capt. W.B. Kemp of Kempville was in town yesterday.

Judge Sowell, Capt. Wiggins and Mr. John Fore went to Mobile Tuesday.

FEB. 26, 1886

The peach trees are in bloom.

The many friends of Mr. F.A. Seymour will be glad to learn that he has sufficiently recovered from his paralytic stroke to be able to be in his office. We hope that he will soon be able to again resume the responsible duties of an acceptable postmaster.

Sheriff Burns returned from Tuscaloosa today.

Jeff Powell, against whom an indictment has been pending in the Circuit Court of this county for several years for assault with intent to murder, and who, a few days ago shot and seriously wounded Mr. James Kearley of Buena Vista, who accompanied Deputy Sheriff Rhoad to his camp for the purpose of arresting him, made his escape under cover of the night. The citizens of Buena Vista offered a reward of $150 for his capture and delivery to the sheriff. He was accordingly captured on last Tuesday about seven miles south of Camden by the Messrs. Brooks and Martin who immediately brought him to Monroeville. He was lodged in jail where he now lies, awaiting his trial.

Thomas Brame Clausell – Died in Monroeville, Ala. on Sunday morning, Feb. 14, 1886 after an illness of several weeks, Mr. Thomas B. Clausell, in the 80th year of his age. He was the last member of an old Virginia family who came to this county near 50 years ago. He had been for many years a resident of this town, engaged in the mercantile business, which he ever endeavored to conduct on the strictest principals of honor and fair dealing.

Buena Vista – The following account of the shooting of Mr. James Kearley is from a correspondent of Buena Vista:
I am loath to inform you of one of the saddest things that has occurred in this community for a long time.
On last Saturday night, Deputy Sheriff Rhoad and a posse of men went to the camp of Jeff Powell against whom an indictment for assault with intent has been pending for several years, for the purpose of arresting him.
When the posse approached Powell and asked him to surrender, instead of obeying, he ran, leaving his gun behind. The posse pursued him. Powell ran a short distance and then wheeled in a semi-circle toward the fire, endeavoring to recover his gun.
Mr. James Kearley ran in to head him off from the gun, whereupon Powell drew his pistol and shot Kearley in the head, wounding him seriously, if not fatally. Powell was then fired upon by several of the posse, but to no effect, and he made good his escape for that night.
The next morning some one suggested that a reward be offered for his capture, and in a very few minutes $150 was subscribed by responsible citizens.
Your correspondent learns that he was captured about seven miles south of Camden in Wilcox County, and that he was taken through old Chestnut Corner neighborhood in route to Monroeville.
Mr. Kearley, we are glad to state, is doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances. His physicians entertain some hope of his recovery.

Notice to Teachers of Public Schools – The Board of Education of Monroe County meets in Monroeville the first Saturday in each month. Office hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Today in History for Feb. 28, 2016

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick
Feb. 28, 1510 – Spanish cartographer and explorer Juan de la Cosa died in Turbaco, Columbia.

Feb. 28, 1525 – The Aztec king Cuauhtémoc was executed by Hernán Cortés's forces.

Feb. 28, 1533 – Essayist Michel de Montaigne was born in Perigord in Bordeaux, France.

Feb. 28, 1692 - In Salem, Massachusetts 10 children identify the "witches" in their community who afflicted them: Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and an old Native American woman named Tituba. Warrants were obtained, and they were arrested.

Feb. 28, 1766 - Revolutionary War soldier and Georgia Governor John Clarke was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Clarke County, Ala. was named in his honor on Dec. 10, 1812.

Feb. 28, 1784 - John Wesley chartered the first Methodist Church in the United States. Despite the fact that he was an Anglican, Wesley saw the need to provide church structure for his followers after the Anglican Church abandoned its American believers during the American Revolution.

Feb. 28, 1824 - Charles Blondin, the first person to walk across Niagra Falls on a tightrope, was born in St Omer, Pas-de-Calais, France.

Feb. 28, 1827 - The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad became the first railroad incorporated for the commercial transportation of people and freight.

Feb. 28, 1829 – Edgar Allan Poe’s foster mother, Frances Allan, died.

Feb. 28, 1834 – Charles Pawson Atmore was born on the island of Guernsey. Atmore, Ala. would later be named in his honor.

Feb. 28, 1836 - The Alamo endured prolonged cannonade fire from Santa Anna’s artillery batteries.

Feb. 28, 1840 – French explorer Henri Duveyrier was born in Paris, France.

Feb. 28, 1855 – Hinchey W. Warren passed away at the age of 67 near Sparta, Ala. and was buried in the Warren Family Cemetery. A War of 1812 veteran, he was also the great-grandfather of U.S. President Warren G. Harding.

Feb. 28, 1858 – The ill-fated Eliza Battle left Demopolis, Ala. fully loaded with passengers and with more than 1,200 bales of cotton. During an already cold night, a strong north wind began to blow, with the air temperature decreasing another 40°F in the two hours after nightfall. (13 Alabama Ghosts)

Feb. 28, 1861 - The U.S. territory of Colorado was organized.

Feb. 28, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Fayetteville, Ark., at Osage Springs. Federal operations at New Madrid, Mo. and Island Number 10 began. Charleston, Va. was occupied by Federal forces.

Feb. 28, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Federal naval attacked Fort McAllister, Ga., and a Naval encounter occurred on the Ogeechee River, south of Savannah, Ga. A skirmish was also fought out from Ft Gibson in the Indian Territory.

Feb. 28, 1864 – After getting captured by the Union at Campbell’s Station, Noah Dallas Peacock (Lewis Lavon Peacock’s older brother) was transferred from Asylum General Hospital in Nashville to Louisville Military Prison.

Feb. 28, 1864 - A major Union cavalry raid began when General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick led 3,500 troopers south from Stevensburg, Virginia. Aimed at Richmond, the raid sought to free Federal prisoners and spread word of President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction in hopes of convincing Confederates to lay down their arms. Kilpatrick took with him Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren to conduct the prisoner release while Kilpatrick covered him with the main force

Feb. 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought along the Peal River and at Yazoo City, Miss.; at Dukedom Tenn.; and at Ely’s Ford, Va. A Federal operation took place in Gloucester County and Albermarle County, Va.

Feb. 28, 1865 – During the Civil War, Nathan Bedford Forrest was finally appointed Lieutenant General, and a skirmish was fought in the vicinity of Cheraw and Rocky Mount, S.C.

Feb. 28, 1872 - John Gassaway Rush passed away at the age of 54 and was buried in McIntosh Cemetery, which is located behind Andrews Chapel in McIntosh, Ala. In 1860, he and his wife donated the land where the church was constructed.

Feb. 28, 1887 - Alabama passed its first child labor law, fixing age limits and restricting work hours for certain types of labor. The legislation, which also protected women workers, was repealed in the 1890s, but efforts of reformers like Rev. Edgar Gardner Murphy of Montgomery resulted in new child labor laws during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Feb. 28, 1894 – Novelist, playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht was born in New York City.

Feb., 28, 1895 – The Monroe Journal reported that “a little colored girl was shot and killed by her brother near Perdue Hill last week. The two children were playing with an old gun which went off with the above result.”

Feb. 28, 1901 – The Town of Beatrice, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality. While the Selma to Pensacola branch of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was being built, the general superintendent of construction, a Col. Seymour of Nashville, Tenn., asked that the town growing up around the station in present-day Beatrice be named for his granddaughter, Beatrice Seymour. The Beatrice post office was established in 1900. (Places Names in Alabama)

Feb. 28, 1901 – Opp, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality. (Ala. League of Mun.)

Feb. 28, 1906 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the Evergreen Bottling Co. had opened a supply depot next door to McNutt’s barber shop, and was prepared to supply dealers with bottled soda water, ginger ale, etc. on short notice.

Feb. 28, 1906 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Frank Simmons of Evergreen, Ala. had brought the newspaper a 9-1/2 pound “monster turnip” that was bigger than the 7-3/4 pound turnip recently grown by J.J. Pearce of Bowles.

Feb. 28, 1906 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the Daughters of the Confederacy planned to make a donation to the Soldiers’ Home at Mountain Creek and earnestly desired the cooperation of every Confederate veteran. All contributions were to be left at the McCreary Drug Store. Mrs. M. McCreary was President of the U.D.C. and Mrs. Edwin C. Page was Corresponding Secretary.

Feb. 28, 1915 - Asa Goodwin, the oldest man in Alabama, died at Bessemer, Ala. on the eve of his 108th birthday. He was born in Henry County, Ga. in 1807 and had lived since 1829 in Alabama and Mississippi. He was survived by one son, 74 grandchildren, 227 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren.

Feb. 28, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Edward E. English of Evergreen, Ala. “died in an accident.”

Feb. 28, 1921 – H.P. Lovecraft completed “The Quest of Iranon,” which was originally published in the July-August 1935 issue of The Galleon.

Feb. 28, 1925 – In Lovecraftian fiction, the lost island of R’lyeh rose once again.

Feb. 28, 1930 – Major League Baseball third baseman Frank Malzone was born in Bronx, N.Y. He would go on to play for the Boston Red Sox and the California Angels.

Feb. 28, 1932 – H.P. Lovecraft completed “The Dreams in the Witch House,” which was originally published in the July 1933 issue of Weird Tales.

Feb. 28, 1933 – The Reichstag Fire Decree was passed in Germany, a day after the Reichstag fire.

Feb. 28, 1945 – NFL defensive end Bubba Smith was born in Orange, Texas. He would go on to play for Michigan State, the Baltimore Colts, the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers.

Feb. 28, 1946 – Ernie and Dot Lind, aka “The Shooting Linds,” performed a “spectacular exhibition of fancy shooting” in Evergreen, Ala.

Feb. 28, 1947 – Major League Baseball shortstop and second baseman Marty Perez was born in Visalia, Calif. He would go on to play for the California Angels, the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants, the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics.

Feb. 28, 1952 – The Evergreen Courant reported that PFC William Howard Peacock of Route One, Owasssa, Ala., was preparing to return to Fort Campbell, Ky. from Camp Drum, N.Y. after several weeks of extensive cold weather warfare training in Exercise Snow Fall in northern New York state. Peacock was a member of the 11th Airborne Division and a gunner with the 188th Airborne Regiment’s Support Command. He attended Evergreen High School, entered the Army in 1949 and completed Parachutist School at Fort Benning, Ga.

Feb. 28, 1953 – NFL running back Roland Harper was born in Seguin, Texas. He would go on to play for Louisiana Tech and the Chicago Bears.

Feb. 28, 1953 - In a Cambridge University laboratory, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

Feb. 28, 1964 - A television version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" was broadcast as part of the series “The Twilight Zone.

Feb. 28, 1965 – National Book Award-winning novelist Colum McCann was born in Dublin.

Feb. 28, 1968 - General Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returned from his recent round of talks with General William Westmoreland in Saigon and immediately delivered a written report to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Wheeler stated that despite the heavy casualties incurred during the Tet Offensive, North Vietnam and Viet Cong forces had the initiative and were “operating with relative freedom in the countryside.” The communists had pushed South Vietnamese forces back into a “defensive posture around towns and cities,” seriously undermined the pacification program in many areas, and forced General Westmoreland to place half of his battalions in the still imperiled northernmost provinces, thus “stripping the rest of the country of adequate reserves” and depriving the U.S. command of “an offensive capability.”

Feb. 28, 1976 – Actress Ali Larter was born in Cherry Hills, New Jersey.

Feb. 28, 1980 – Evergreen High School’s varsity basketball team, led by head coach Charles Branum, beat Wilcox County, 81-51, in the opening round of the area tournament, which was played at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton, Ala. Horace Smith and Perona Rankins led Evergreen with 26 points and 22 points, respectively. Others scoring were Joe Mitchell, 12; Sanford Moye, six; David Floyd, five; Philander Rogers, two; Johnny Allen, two; Anthony Williams, two; Arturo Scott, two; and Michael Lampley, two.

Feb. 28, 1980 – Evergreen, Ala. radio station WBLO began broadcasting after being off the air since Feb. 16 so that broadcast equipment could be repaired and improved and the station’s signal expanded. John Bolton was the station’s DJ.

Feb. 28, 1988 - A television version of Alabama author Borden Deal's book “Bluegrass” was broadcast.

Feb. 28, 1991 – The first Gulf War ended as U.S. President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein pledged to honor future United Nations peace terms.

Feb. 28, 1993 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group's leader David Koresh. Four BATF agents and five Davidians died in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.

Feb. 28, 2002 - It was announced that John Madden would be replacing Dennis Miller on "Monday Night Football." Madden signed a four-year $20 million deal with ABC Sports.

Feb. 28, 2005 – A suicide bombing at a police recruiting centre in Al Hillah, Iraq killed 127.

Feb. 28, 2008 – The Barnes Cemetery in Butler County was added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register.

Feb. 28, 2010 - Weather observer Harry Ellis reported that total rainfall for the month of February 2010 was 3.50 inches and total snowfall was five inches.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., Feb. 28, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.90 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.65 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 19.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 9.35 inches

Notes: Today in the 59th day of 2016 and the 69th day of Winter. There are 307 days left in the year.

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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Singleton tells of hearing strange voices, seeing weird light during nighttime excursion

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 “You might be stupid for getting into these situations” was originally published in the March 2, 1995 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The night of the 25th of February appeared to be the perfect night for slipping out and visiting some of the places where I thought strange things might occur. 

Since my dear wife was away for a couple of days, this would be a good time to ease out and search for the unusual. Since I am not an avid boob-tube watcher, around 9 p.m. I slipped my motorcycle out of the drive, trying carefully not to disturb my neighbors, and headed toward the northwest part of the county.

Leaving Highway 41, I followed a narrow dirt road for several hundred yards before turning up a dim, little-used trail that would carry me almost to my destination. Stopping my motorcycle, I broke a couple of bushes and placed them across the bike to keep down any glare from the shiny metal. Then, with the aid of a small flashlight, I proceeded on foot around the hill to where I was going to sit for a while and listen to the night sounds around me.

Night was chilly

The night air was quite chilly down there near the bluff where I had chosen to wait. I had been here several times during the daylight hours and knew the layout of the area quite well. Just to the left of where I was sitting was an ancient campsite of a small band of Indians who roamed this area many, many years ago. During my earlier visits to this site, I had found several artifacts in and around where I was now waiting.

A brisk, chilly wind from the northeast caused the treetops to sway back and forth across the top of the high bluff. Looking at my watch, the time was approaching 10:30 p.m. As was my luck, just over to my right in a tall pine tree, a screech owl screamed out in a blood-chilling call. I had heard the call of these owls many, many times, but it seems that you never get used to these hair-raising sounds.

Again, the thought flashed through my mind as it had on many of these excursions that you aren’t too bright to leave a warm, comfortable house to venture out and sit and wait in the darkness all alone like I was doing, not knowing what to expect.

For a few brief moments, my friend, the screech owl, ceased its blood-chilling screams. While listening to the noises around me, I realized that the winds had ceased also across the top of the bluff. This was when I realized that I was hearing the murmur of several voices directly in front of me.

Low, murmuring chants

I knew that no one was in the area but myself. The only access to this area, without traveling by foot for roughly three miles through dense undergrowth, was the way that I had come. So, with every nerve in my body on edge and the hair on the back of my neck standing up, I tried to make out the voices that I was hearing. But the low, murmuring chants that I was hearing seemed to be from another time; a time not known to my civilization, or anything I had ever heard about.

There, in the darkness below the tall bluff I was unable to see anything without the use of my small flashlight. I quickly decided that it was not in my best interest to flash a light around the campsite and try to see what was taking place. I knew that if I moved, the poncho that I had around my shoulders would surely make a noise; right now, I didn’t want this to happen.

Almost too afraid to breathe, I sat and listened. Everything there at the base of the tall bluff had grown deathly quiet. Not a sound could be heard but the murmur of the strange dialect directly in front of me. Then, the sound of what appeared to be several footsteps sounded over to my left. The dead leaves and dry foliage crackled as though two or three were approaching the low voices that continued to murmur in the darkness in front of me.

Sounds of footsteps

The sounds of the footsteps ceased as the voices grew louder. The chants grew in volume as if all had now joined in unison. After what I guessed to be several seconds, the chants decreased in volume as though some distance was coming between the voices and my hiding place. Then, two or three seconds more, total quietness settled across the area. The only sound that I could hear was the loud pounding of my heart, as though someone was slapping my chest with an open hand. Again the thought flashed through my mind: this is really dumb being here; I’m getting too old for this.

As I sat there in the darkness, trying to regain my senses, I saw what appeared to be a dim light or torch slowly making its way through the dense underbrush toward the river. Within a few moments, the light or torch faded from sight.

Mustering up enough courage, I moved my now numb legs so that the circulation again flowed through my veins. The winds in the treetops had again began to gather momentum.

Directly from the area where I had left my transportation, a coyote howled. The sounds of the night were slowly increasing all around me. Then, high in the pine tree above me, as though nothing had happened, my friend, the screech owl, gave its blood-chilling call. I never thought that a frightening sound such as this would ever be so welcome as now.

Ancient village site

Looking at my watch, I realized that I had misjudged the passage of time. It was approaching 2 a.m. Getting to my feet, I rolled the poncho up as quietly as possible. What had I witnessed here tonight at the base of this high bluff? Were the spirits from another time yet present here in this ancient village site? I had seen nothing, but the voices that floated on the night air were that of human beings, maybe from another time, but they were human.

Trying not to disturb my surroundings, I turned on my small flashlight and started up the hill where I had left my transportation. Once out on the blacktop, I quickly made my way toward home and the warm bed that awaited.

Approaching my driveway, I switched off my engine and headlight and coasted around my house and under the carport.

From the security of the warm bed covers, I gave some thought that I might return to the ancient village site at some later time. Maybe the next time, if the moon was right, I just might see that which I had heard at the base of the cliff, there in the darkness.

Dumb folks do strange things; only time will tell.

(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, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, moved to Monroe County in 1961 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. 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 Feb. 27, 2016

Mathew Brady
Feb. 27, 1776 – During the American Revolutionary War, 1,000 Patriots troops under the command of Richard Caswell defeated 1,600 British Loyalist militia at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in North Carolina. It would go down in history as the first American victory in the first organized campaign of the Revolutionary War. The victory aborted British plans to land a force at Brunswick, North Carolina, and ended British authority in the state. Within two months, on April 12, 1776, North Carolina became the first state to vote in favor of independence from Britain.

Feb. 27, 1782 – During the American Revolutionary War, the House of Commons of Great Britain voted against further war in America.

Feb. 27, 1807 – Poet and author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine. His most famous works include “Ballads and Other Poems” (1841), “Evangeline” (1847), “The Song of Hiawatha” (1855) and “The Courtship of Miles Standish” (1858).

Feb. 27, 1827 - The first Mardi Gras in New Orleans took place with a group of masked and costumed students dancing through the streets.

Feb. 27, 1829 – William Barrett Travis passed his law exam at Claiborne, Ala.

Feb. 27, 1834 – Portland, Maine native William Coombs, also known as “The Brokenhearted Stranger,” died at Claiborne, Ala. He was buried in the Old Cemetery at Claiborne. (Some sources say he died in 1838.)

Feb. 27, 1836 - Work continued on the batteries and entrenchments ringing the Alamo, and Santa Anna sent foraging parties to nearby ranches to look for supplies.  

Feb. 27, 1860 – Abraham Lincoln made an anti-slavery speech at the Cooper Union in the city of New York that was largely responsible for his election to the Presidency. About 1,500 people were in attendance and The New York Times reprinted the speech in its entirety.

Feb. 27, 1860 – Just moments before his speech at the Cooper Union, Abraham Lincoln posed for the first of several portraits by noted Civil War-era photographer Mathew Brady. Days later, the photograph was published on the cover of Harper's Bazaar with the caption, “Hon. Abram [sic] Lincoln, of Illinois, Republican Candidate for President.”

Feb. 27, 1862 – The Confederate Congress gave President Jefferson Davis the authority to suspend the right (or privilege) of habeaus corpus. The right (or privilege) of habeas corpus was enshrined in the Constitution of the Confederate States of America as well as the one in Washington from which it came. Based on much older common law, it required that persons only be arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by a judge, specifying what law had been broken. Davis, actually, used this authority much less than Lincoln eventually would.

Feb. 27, 1863 – Confederate Naval Captain Raphael Semmes, the captain of the CSS Alabama, captured the merchant vessel Washington with a cannonball which, Semmes wrote, “wet the people on her poop [deck], by the spray of a shot...” The ship, undamaged, was released on a bond.

Feb. 27, 1863 – During the Civil War, a Federal operation was conducted out from Ft. Pillow, Tenn., and a skirmish was fought in the vicinity of Bloomington, Tenn., on the Hatchie River. A two-day Federal reconnaissance from Centreville to Falmouth, Va. began.

Feb. 27, 1864 – During the Civil War, the first Northern prisoners arrived at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia (Camp Sumter). Nearly a quarter of all inmates died in captivity during the war. Henry Wirz, the commandant of the 16-acre prison, was executed in the aftermath of the Civil War for the brutality and the mistreatment committed under his command.

Feb. 27, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Pinos Altos in the Arizona Territory; at Madison and Sharon, Miss.; near Dalton, Ga.; near Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and in the Sequatchie Valley, Tenn. The Confederate salt works on Goose Creek, near St. Mark’s, Fla. were destroyed.

Feb. 27, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Spring Place, Ga.; in the vicinity of Sturgeon, Mo.; and at Mount Elon and Cloud’s House, S.C.

Feb. 27, 1865 – During the Civil War, what would prove to be the final Federal operation in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia began. Spring was not quite yet come to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, but Phil Sheridan’s men were stirring anyway. Ten thousand cavalrymen, under command of Wesley Merritt, departed on this day from Winchester, heading south. All that the Confederacy had left to oppose them were two weak brigades, headed by Jubal Early. Merritt’s orders were to wreck the Virginia Central Railroad, and do what damage he could to the James River Canal

Feb. 27, 1886 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black was born in Ashland, Ala.

Feb. 27, 1890 - A 100-round boxing match was fought in San Francisco, and declared to be a draw after 6-1/2 hours.

Feb. 27, 1894 – The Pine Belt News in Brewton, Ala. was established.

Feb. 27, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that Marcus Sowell left during the previous week for Jasper, Ala., where he planned to begin reading law in the office of his brother, Col. T.L. Sowell.

Feb. 27, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported, in news from its correspondent from Manistee, that there would be preaching at Pleasant Hill church the first Sabbath in every month, and also Saturday before. “We are proud to have our noble brother Lambert to serve us, after having such a devoted minister as brother S.P. Lindsey. Brother L. is one of our oldest and best Ministers. We are glad to know that the Sabbath school at Pleasant Hill continues in the afternoon. The teachers, Misses Wills and Moore, are working earnestly.”

Feb. 27, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that J.J. Simpson had the misfortune to lose his gin and grist mill at Repton, Ala. by fire one day during the previous week. The fire was accidental, and he had no insurance.

Feb. 27, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that the unexpected death of Miss Ada Thames, who was buried at McConnico Cemetery on Feb. 27, had “cast a halo of gloom over all her friends and relatives “at Perdue Hill.

Feb. 27, 1902 – Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, Calif. His most famous works include “Tortilla Flat” (1935), “Of Mice and Men” (1937) and “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939).

Feb. 27, 1908 - Major League Baseball adopted a sacrifice fly rule for the first time. It was repealed, reinstated and then changed several times before being permanently accepted in 1954.

Feb. 27, 1912 - The New York Yankees announced that they would be wearing pinstripes on their uniforms.

Feb. 27, 1915 - “The Valley of Fear” by Arthur Conan Doyle was published in novel form.

Feb. 27, 1917 - John Connally, the governor of Texas who was shot during the John F. Kennedy assassination, was born in Floresville, Texas.

Feb. 27, 1919 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Sam Johnson of Flomaton, Ala. and Army Pvt. Henry Crenshaw of Greenville, Ala. “died from disease.”

Feb. 27, 1922 – Former Confederate soldier James Hampton Simpson passed away at the age of 77. Born on Dec. 18, 1844, he enlisted in Monroeville as a private in Co. F of the 36th Alabama Regiment on April 10, 1862. He surrendered at Greensboro, N.C. on April 26, 1865. After the war, he worked as a farmer, storekeeper and grist mill operator. He is buried in the Mexia Cemetery.

Feb. 27, 1928 - A movie version of Alabama author Octavus Roy Cohen's book “All Balled Up” was released.

Feb. 27, 1930 – The Monroe Journal reported, under the headline “COURT HOUSE SQUARE IS GREATLY IMPROVED,” that the “improvement of the court house square by the additional shrubbery set out is so noticeable that we are again referring to it. Perhaps no single improvement has changed the appearance of things in town so much, and the visitor is bound to be favorably impressed.”

Feb. 27, 1930 – The Monroe Journal reported, under the headline “NEW WATER SYSTEM FOR MONROEVILLE,” that “the work of installing the new water system for Monroeville is proceeding at a very gratifying rate. The large mains around the square are being laid rapidly, and work of erecting the new stand pipe is well along toward completion.”

Feb. 27, 1930 - The Alabama Military Institute Band was scheduled to give a concert at the Frisco City High School auditorium at 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Feb. 27-28, 1931 – The first district basketball tournament was held in Evergreen, Ala. and included 10 teams. “Fob” James of Enterprise was the official referee.

Feb. 27, 1933 – Germany's parliament building in Berlin, the Reichstag, was set on fire; Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch Communist claimed responsibility. The Nazis used the fire to solidify their power and eliminate the communists as political rivals.

Feb. 27, 1933 – Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Raymond Berry was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. He went on to play for Southern Methodist and the Baltimore Colts and served as the head coach of the New England Patriots for five seasons. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Feb. 27, 1936 - Alabama author Helen Keller was interviewed on the radio program “The Fleischmann's Yeast Hour.

Feb. 27, 1948 - Alabama author Trudier Harris was born in Mantua, Ala.

Feb. 27, 1951 - The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting U.S. Presidents to two terms.

Feb. 27, 1962 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem survived another coup attempt when Republic of Vietnam Air Force pilots Lieutenants Pham Phu Quoc and Nguyen Van Cu try to kill him and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu by bombing and strafing the presidential palace. Lieutenant Quoc was arrested after his fighter-bomber crash-landed near Saigon. Lieutenant Cu fled to Cambodia, where he remained until November 1963. 

Feb. 27, 1963 - Mickey Mantle signed a contact worth $100,000 with the New York Yankees.

Feb. 27, 1965 - The U.S. State Department released a 14,000-word report entitled “Aggression from the North–The Record of North Vietnam’s Campaign to Conquer South Vietnam.” Citing “massive evidence,” including testimony of North Vietnamese soldiers who had defected or been captured in South Vietnam, the document claimed that nearly 20,000 Viet Cong military and technical personnel had entered South Vietnam through the “infiltration pipeline” from the North. The report maintained that the infiltrators remained under military command from Hanoi. 

Feb. 29, 1969 - Communist forces shelled 30 military installations and nine towns in South Vietnam, in what becomes known as the “Post-Tet Offensive.” U.S. sources in Saigon put American losses in this latest offensive at between 250 and 300, compared with enemy casualties totaling 5,300. South Vietnamese officials report 200 civilians killed and 12,700 made homeless.

Feb. 27, 1973 - Dick Allen of the Chicago White Sox signed a contract worth $250,000 a year for three years.

Feb. 27, 1975 – The Monroe Journal reported that the Monroe Academy varsity basketball team, led by Coach Melvin Middleton, won the District 3 basketball tournament of the Alabama Private School Athletic Association by upsetting the two teams thought most likely to win. The team beat Escambia Academy, then upset Wilcox Academy and Fort Dale Academy. Members of the team were Greg Petty, Chuck Lambert, Ricky Eddins, Sam Bowden, Hudson Lazenby, David Steele, Bryant Hooks, Harold King, John Winters, Ricky Robinson and Keith Pugh.

Feb. 27, 1976 – NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez was born in Torrance, Calif. He would go on to play for Cal, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons.

Feb. 27, 1978 – Liberty Chapel Church near Greenville, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Feb. 27, 1978 – The W.O. Carter Log House near Andalusia, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Feb. 27, 1987 - The NCAA cancelled Southern Methodist University’s entire 1987 football schedule for gross violations of NCAA rules on athletic corruption.

Feb. 27, 1991 – During the Gulf War, U.S. President George H. W. Bush announced on U.S. television that "Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated. I am pleased to announce that at midnight tonight, exactly 100 hours since ground operations began and six weeks since the start of Operation Desert Storm, all United States and coalition forces will suspend offensive combat operations."

Feb. 27, 2002 - The Houston Astros announced that they had struck a deal with Enron to buy back the naming rights of their ballpark for $2.1 million. The ballpark would be called "Astros Field" until a new sponsor came along.

Feb. 27, 2003 - Emmitt Smith became a free agent for the first time when the Dallas Cowboys released him.

Feb. 27, 2011 – National Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder Duke Snider died at the age of 84 in Escondido, Calif. During his career, he played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., Feb. 27, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.90 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.65 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 19.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 9.35 inches

Notes: Today in the 58th day of 2016 and the 68th day of Winter. There are 308 days left in the year.

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 535 miles down and 1,264 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging 13 more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged five miles on Sunday, three more miles on Wednesday and five miles today (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 535 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,264 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 29.7 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m on the fifth night of the trip past Rivendell, which is the night of Dec. 29-Dec. 30 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off my last update on Mile 522, which was three miles from where the Fellowship camps during the day of Dec. 29.


I reached that point, Mile 525, on Sunday. The paths are this point are few and winding and the group decides to camp here throughout the day on Dec. 29. The camp breaks camp when the sun goes down and continues to travel by night on what is Night Five of this leg of the journey.


Three miles from this point, at Mile 528, the group reaches the top of a rise and begins to angle southeast. In all on Night Five, the group covers a total of 15 miles and I’ve covered about seven miles of that distances. The next significant milestone comes at Mile 540, where the group camps in a thicket of thorn bushes during the day of Dec. 30.


So far, I’m on track to travel the 462 miles from Rivendell to Lothlorien, which is the forest realm of the Elves, between Rivendell and Mordor, within the 2016 calendar year. To pull this off in a year’s time, I’ve got to travel at least 8.9 miles per week, that is, a little more than a mile a day. So far, so good, since I covered a total of 13 miles this week and 77 miles since the start of the calendar year.


For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1, 2015. Using a book called “The Atlas of Middle-Earth” by Karen Wynn Fonstad, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” created this challenge by mapping out Frodo’s fictional trek to Mordor, calculating the total distance at 1,799 miles. They also used the original "Lord of the Rings" text to outline the journey, so you can follow their route by keeping up with your total mileage.


The folks who worked out the nuts and bolts of this virtual journey have divided it into four parts. It’s 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 462 miles from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien, 389 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and 470 miles from Rauros to Mount Doom. (Those locations should sound very familiar to “Lord of the Rings” fans.) The hobbits averaged 18 miles a day, but if you walk (or jog, as I sometimes do) five miles a day, it’s possible to cover 1,799 miles in a year.


If you’re interested in learning more about the “Walk to Mordor Challenge,” I suggest you check out two Web sites, and Both of these sites provide a ton of details about the challenge, including how to get started.


In the end, check back next Friday for another update and to see how much closer I am to Mordor. I hope to knock out at least 13 more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Today in History for Feb. 26, 2016

Elisha Hunt Rhodes 
Feb. 26, 1802 – French author Victor Hugo was born in Besançon. His most famous books include “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1831) and “Les Miserables” (1862).

Feb. 26, 1813 - Robert R. Livingston, a prominent Freemason also known as "the Chancellor," passed away at the age of 66 in Clermont, N.Y. and was buried in Tivoli, New York. In 1776, he represented the Provincial Congress of New York at the Continental Congress and helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. He also administered President George Washington's first oath of office, and under President Thomas Jefferson, he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase.

Feb. 26, 1836 – At the Alamo, a “norther” or cold front blew in, dropping the temperature and bringing rain. James W. Fannin returned to Goliad after learning that a column of Centralist Mexican troops under Col. José Urrea was approaching that area, advancing northward from Matamoros.

Feb. 26, 1846 – Frontiersman and showman William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was born in Le Claire, Iowa.

Feb. 26, 1855 – In an incident attributed to the Bermuda Triangle, the James B. Chester, a three-master, was found by the Marathon, sailing aimlessly without her crew but with her sails set within the Sargasso Sea.

Feb. 26, 1861 – During the Civil War, Camp Colorado, Texas was abandoned by Federal forces.

Feb. 26, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Keytesville, Mo., and Confederate reconnaissance was conducted as far as Nashville, Tenn.

Feb. 26, 1862 - Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes visited Washington, D.C., during a typical week in winter quarters. Although combat was the main job of a soldier, most men serving in the Civil War spent very few days each year in actual combat. Rhodes kept a diary during his four years in the Union Army, and his notes reveal the monotony of the winter months for the Army of the Potomac. A member of the 2nd Rhode Island, Rhodes fought in every campaign from First Bull Run to Appomattox, and rose from private to colonel in four years. On Feb. 26, 1862, Rhodes went to hear Senator Henry Wilson from Massachusetts speak on expelling disloyal members of Congress. After listening to the speech, Rhodes and his friend Isaac Cooper attended a fair at a Methodist church and met two young women, who the soldiers escorted home.

Feb. 26, 1863 - The National Currency Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, creating a national banking system, a Currency Bureau and the office of Comptroller of the Currency. The act's goal was to establish a single currency.

Feb. 26, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Woodbury, Tenn. and at Germantown, Va.

Feb. 26, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Canton, Miss.; near Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and at Sulphur Springs and Washington, Tenn.

Feb. 26, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at McMilley’s Farm, near Pine Bluff, Ark. and at Lynch Creek and Stroud’s Mill, S.C.

Feb. 26, 1887 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander was born in Elba, Nebraska. He would go on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1838.

Feb. 26, 1896 - Alabama author William Russell Smith died in Washington, D.C.

Feb. 26, 1909 – The Town of Frisco City, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality. (Ala. Leag. Of Mun.)

Feb. 26, 1917 – The Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the first jazz record, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York.

Feb. 26, 1919 – President Woodrow Wilson signed an act of the U.S. Congress establishing most of the Grand Canyon as a United States National Park, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Feb. 26, 1929 - Alabama author Idora McClellan Moore died in Talladega, Ala.

Feb. 26, 1929 – President Calvin Coolidge signed an Executive Order establishing the 96,000-acre Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Feb. 26, 1932 – Musician Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Ark.

Feb. 26, 1935 - The New York Yankees released Babe Ruth, who went on to sign with the Boston Braves for $20,000 and a share in the team's profits.

Feb. 26, 1935 – Adolf Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to be re-formed, violating the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.

Feb. 26, 1936 - Actual work began on this Monday on the Standard Oil Co. service station at the intersection of West Front and Cooper streets, following completion of negotiations and survey of the site, in Evergreen, Ala.

Feb. 26, 1946 – Finnish observers reported the first of many thousands of sightings of “ghost rockets.”

Feb. 26, 1952 – Evergreen High School’s boys basketball team, led by Head Coach Wendell Hart, beat Greenville, 51-43, at Memorial Gym in Evergreen. Shirley Frazier led Evergreen with 21 points.

Feb. 26, 1952 – State Geologist Dr. Walter B. Jones was the guest speaker at the Evergreen (Ala.) Kiwanis Club meeting held in the Evergreen City School lunchroom.

Feb. 26, 1959 – Searchers found the Dyatlov Expedition’s abandoned and badly damaged tent on Kholat Syakhl.

Feb. 26, 1965 - The first contingent of South Korean troops arrived in Saigon. Although assigned to non-combat duties, they came under fire on April 3. The South Korean contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the “many flags” program. By the close of 1969, there were over 47,800 Korean soldiers actively involved in combat operations in South Vietnam. Seoul began to withdraw its troops in February 1972.

Feb. 26, 1966 – During the Vietnam War, the ROK Capital Division of the South Korean Army massacred 380 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam.

Feb. 26, 1968 - Allied troops who had recaptured the imperial capital of Hue from the North Vietnamese during the Tet Offensive discovered the first mass graves in Hue. It was discovered that communist troops who had held the city for 25 days had massacred about 2,800 civilians whom they had identified as sympathizers with the government in Saigon. One authority estimated that communists might have killed as many as 5,700 people in Hue.

Feb. 26, 1973 – Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk was born in New Orleans, La. He would go on to play for San Diego State, the Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Rams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Feb. 26, 1973 – The Sparta Academy Key Club received its charter from the Evergreen Kiwanis Club.

Feb. 26, 1975 – Major League Baseball utility player Mark DeRosa was born in Passaic, N.J. He would go on to play for the Atlanta Braves, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants, the Washington Nationals and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Feb. 26, 1975 - On the Today Show, the first televised kidney transplant took place.

Feb. 26, 1981 - Edgar F. Kaiser Jr. purchased the Denver Broncos from Gerald and Allan Phillips.

Feb. 26, 1985 – The 11th Annual Miss Alpha Pageant at Sparta Academy was held at 7:30 p.m. in the school’s gymnatorium in Evergreen, Ala.

Feb. 26, 1989 - The New York Yankees announced that Tom Seaver would be their new TV sportscaster.

Feb. 26, 1991 – During the Gulf War, United States Army forces captured the town of Al Busayyah.

Feb. 26, 1991 - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announced on Baghdad Radio that Iraqi troops were being withdrawn from Kuwait.

Feb. 26, 1999 – Two locations in Wilcox County were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Those locations included the Dry Fork Plantation at Coy and the Pine Apple Historic District in Pine Apple. The historic district’s boundaries are roughly Wilcox County Roads 59, 7 and 61, Broad Street, Banana Street, AL 10 and Adams Drive. It contains 3,350 acres, 54 buildings, and one structure.

Feb. 26, 2004 – The Alabama Senate received House Joint Resolution No. 100, which proposed making Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey the Alabama State Spirit. The Senate voted to approve it by two to one (14-6) on March 9.

Feb. 26, 2006 - The U.S. Census Bureau's World Population Clock ticked up to 6.5 billion people.

Feb. 26, 2010 - Sparta Academy’s Erica Palmer and Nick Andrews were selected as members of the AISA All-Star Boys and Girls Basketball Teams and played in the annual all-star games on this Friday at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Feb. 26, 2010 - Hillcrest High School’s varsity softball team opened the 2010 season with a 10-8 win over Monroe County High School on this Friday in Monroeville. The Lady Jags put the game away in the top of the seventh inning when junior second baseman Leslie Wiggins hit a clutch single that drove in runners from second and third and gave Hillcrest the two-run win. Hillcrest head coach Terry Gandy said Monday that he was more than a little happy to start the season off with a win. Other standout players on Hillcrest’s team that season included Amerisha Mixon, Victoria Walden, Sasha Rankins, Trishana Lee, Shanika Taylor, Lakarress Riley, Kabrina Peters, Khadedra Nettles, Crystal Meeks, Haley Drakeford and T’kiya Pittman.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., Feb. 26, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.90 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.65 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 19.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 9.35 inches

Notes: Today in the 57th day of 2016 and the 67th day of Winter. There are 309 days left in the year.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Evergreen's E.W. Martin was wounded 152 years ago at Battle of Dalton

CSA General Joseph E. Johnston
Edmund W. Martin, one of the most accomplished men to ever walk the streets of Evergreen, was severely wounded 152 years ago today – on Feb. 25, 1864 – while leading troops during the First Battle of Dalton in Whitfield County, Ga.

At the time, Martin was a 42-year-old major in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, which was led by famous Confederate general, Joseph E. Johnston. In this five-day engagement, Johnston’s army of around 40,000 defeated a force of 25,000 soldiers led by Union General George H. Thomas. The end result was a Confederate victory as Thomas eventually decided to withdraw his troops when it became apparent that continued attacks against Johnston’s army would be fruitless.

Even though the Rebels won, it didn’t come without a cost. Casualties and losses on both sides were relatively light with the Union losing around 300 to 140 on the Confederate side. However, among those Confederate casualties was Martin, who was severely wounded and knocked out of the battle when he was wounded by a shell fragment. As you’ll see, his story doesn’t end there.

According to B.F. Riley’s book, “The History of Conecuh County,” Martin was born near Montgomery on Dec. 15, 1821 and through the help of friend and relative, Senator Dixon H. Lewis, Martin received an appointment to West Point Military Academy. Martin later graduated from West Point, and he returned home to Alabama, where he became a lawyer in Hayneville around 1843.

When the Mexican-American War began in 1846, Martin raised a “gallant company” called the “Lowndes County Volunteers,” and Martin served as the company’s captain, according to Riley’s book. This relatively short war ended in February 1848 and after the war, in 1849, the 27-year-old Martin moved to Sparta, which was then the county seat of Conecuh County. Martin made “quite a reputation for himself” as a lawyer, Riley wrote, and his fellow lawyers regarded him as a “close, calm reasoner, dignified and keenly conscientious with regard to all questions of ethics.”

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Martin raised a company of volunteers, and he served as the unit’s captain. When that company was attached to a regiment, Martin was promoted to regimental major. He apparently served throughout the war until his wounding at the First Battle of Dalton.

Union soldiers burned Sparta near the end of the war, which is what likely promoted Martin to move to Evergreen, the county’s new county seat. Martin became active in the Democratic party and he was elected to the Alabama Senate in 1872, representing a district that was made up of Conecuh and Butler counties. Later, The Montgomery Advertiser described Martin as “an able and watchful Senator,” who possessed to the “fullest extent, the confidence and esteem of his associates.” Martin sought the Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor in 1874 and for U.S. Congress in 1878, but he came up short in both conventions.

Martin died relatively young, passing away on Oct. 22, 1878 at the age of 56, and one is left to wonder if the wounds he received at the First Battle of Dalton may have contributed to his death at such a young age. Today, Martin’s grave can be found beside that of his wife, Mary Virginia Sophia Hunley Martin, in the Old Evergreen Cemetery.

Hillcrest-Bayside rivalry reached new heights during 2015-2016 season

Evergreen was well-represented by a host of local hoops fans at Hillcrest’s basketball game against Bayside Academy Saturday morning in Dothan, and Hillcrest’s five-point win was icing on the cake.

Hillcrest and Bayside have developed an intense rivalry this season, and it was nice to see the Jags pay back the Admirals for eliminating them from the state football playoffs last season. Many in Saturday’s audience were also in the stands last Nov. 27 when Bayside beat Hillcrest, 36-0, in the state football semifinals, and it was hard not to notice some of those same fans smiling as Bayside got a dose of their own medicine in the basketball playoffs.

Needless to say, it’s nice to see Hillcrest have all this success on the basketball court, and I think that you can make the argument that Hillcrest is perhaps having the finest sports year in the school’s history. With their deep run in the football playoffs, coupled with a possible appearance in the state basketball tournament, it’s hard to come up with another year when they’ve had so much overall success.

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Alabama and Auburn’s men’s basketball seasons are also winding down, and as of Monday both teams had just four games left on their regular season schedules. Alabama, 16-10 overall and 7-7 in SEC play, were scheduled to play Kentucky in Lexington on Tuesday night, and a win there would be just what Alabama needs to shore up their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. The Tide will play Auburn on Saturday, Arkansas this coming Wednesday and their regular season finale against Georgia on March 5.

Auburn was 10-16 overall and 4-10 in conference play as of Monday and they were scheduled to play Georgia yesterday (Wednesday) in Auburn. After Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa, they’ll play Texas A&M on Tuesday before wrapping up their regular season on March 5 at Mississippi State. If Auburn takes care of business in those games and does well in the SEC Tournament, I feel they’ll at least make the NIT.

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High school baseball officially got underway locally last week when Hillcrest started their season against Goshen and McKenzie. The Jags played their first home game of the season last Thursday against McKenzie, and a good-sized crowd gathered to watch the action. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that it looked like Hillcrest had more kids than usual on the baseball team, not counting the kids playing basketball who have yet to join the team.

Sparta will begin their season today (Thursday) against South Montgomery County Academy in Grady.

Another thing that can be said for the start of baseball season is that it signals the coming start of spring weather, the approach of spring football and the end of another school year. It also won’t be long before Major League Baseball holds its Opening Day slate of games, and before you know it, we’ll be trying to figure out which team will win this year’s World Series. Only time will tell, and we’ve got all of that to look forward to.