Saturday, April 30, 2016

Singleton told of phantom rooster, ghostly voices and eerie light in 1996

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 “Let your spirit of adventure triumph over good sense” was originally published in the May 2, 1996 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

Many people do crazy things. Many of us do various things just to see if there is any truth in the tall tales that we hear. Many times, some of us come out on the short end of the stick, as the saying goes.

I have been told by my wife that I am not very smart in some of the things that I undertake. She seems to think that I might be a little hardheaded at times. She thinks that I should listen to others when there is personal danger or hardship involved. This story is about one of those times.

A few weeks back, my wife had to be away for a few days to attend a refresher course that pertained to her employment. She was to be gone for three days and two nights. Since I’m not a vivid boob-tube watcher, and due to the fact that I was alone, I decided that now was a good time for me to catch up on a few investigations that I had postponed for several months.

I knew of an old, abandoned house place that is to be found to the northeast of the old Bradley Ridge settlement where mysterious happenings were going on. So, on the second night of my dear wife’s departure, I gathered my usual supplies and mounted my trail bike and headed in a northeastwardly direction.

Complete darkness

The time was 6:52 p.m. as I headed past the Peterman turnoff. I wanted to get into the area before complete darkness fell. Since the days had begun to lengthen, I felt that I would be in the area before complete darkness; I knew that it would be very dark there under the tall timbers around the old house place.

After arriving, I secured my transportation in the tall bushes nearby. Then I found a place in an old, abandoned hedgerow and settled down to wait. From where I sat, I was in full view of the crumpled old chimney that was located at the end of where the old house once stood.

As usual, I began to question the reason I had ventured out on a night like this, when I could be sitting in a soft chair and watching the boob tube. I thought to myself that perhaps my dear wife was right. I might just be a little hardheaded at times. And then, I remembered the many times that I had ventured forth and witnessed for myself many happenings that few others ever see. I made myself believe that I was glad that I had come.

The hour was approaching 9:45 p.m. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard a rooster crow. Then I remembered that no houses were nearby. The nearest house was too far away to hear a rooster crow at that distance. I listened for several minutes; the rooster crowed again.

The skin on the back of my neck had begun to crawl up and down, and the hair on my neck began to stand on end. The thought came to mind that I should hit myself in the mouth for being here.

An hour passed; then another hour came and went. I realized that I was hearing someone talking. I couldn’t make out the words; the talking was coming from near the crumbled chimney. I eased my body to where I could see the old pile of rocks; I saw nothing.

Then, all of a sudden, I heard the voices of what seemed to be several children. They were laughing and calling to each other as if some type of game was being played. The sound was so clear that I almost expected to see several kids come running up the hill.

The sounds of the playing children lasted for several minutes. As I sat there, trying to guess just what was going on, a dog barked nearby. Then, the rooster crowed again. Much against my better judgement, I sat very still and listened.

The moon broke through the tall pines. The outline of the crumbled old chimney could be seen much clearer; I sat and waited. I suddenly became aware of a very familiar odor. I sniffed the air; I had smelled this odor many times as a small boy growing up on the farm. I was smelling good food cooking. The odors brought back memories of my mother’s cooking. Memories of good hot food and cold, sweet milk flooded through my memories.

Called for supper time

The sounds of the playing children returned; they seemed that they were rushing up the hill as though they had been called for their supper time. The dog barked as though it was chasing the running children.

I looked toward the crumbled chimney; there was nothing. Then ever so faintly, I realized that I was seeing a small, dim light – a light that would be given off from a burning splinter or a small coal oil lamp. The small light slowly moved away from the old chimney down toward the other end of where the old house used to stand. The small light stopped and was still for a few moments, and then it was gone.

I sniffed the brisk night air; the wonderful smell of the cooking food had faded also. The night had grown awfully quiet; I listened for the crowing rooster. The dog barked just once, then it, too, faded away.

I got slowly to my feet, trying not to disturb anyone or anything; I finally reached where I had hidden my trail bike. I began to slowly push the machine out toward the faint trail.

The moonlight was much brighter now. I wanted to be away from the old chimney before I started the engine of my motorcycle. I didn’t know the reason, but I knew that this was the way that it had to be.

Large rooster

As I pushed my transportation out unto the faint trail that led to the road, I saw something that made me stop and my blood run cold. Standing in the trail was a very large rooster. The rooster flapped his wings a couple of times and stretched his neck. Standing on his toes, he crowed very loudly three times. As the crowing stopped, he stepped from the trail; I saw him no more. He had vanished into thin air.

A cold shower and a soft bed didn’t bring the sleep that I wanted. The loud ticking of the grandfather clock in the living room seemed never to end and grew louder as the night wore on and the morning finally came.

(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 April 30, 2016

John Crowe Ransom
April 30, 1006 - 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.

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, 1861 – During the Civil War, Fort Washita, in the Indian Territory, was abandoned by Federal forces.

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, 1862 – Lewis Lavon Peacock enlisted at the age of 17 in Kolb’s Battery, which became part of Hilliard’s Legion and later the 59th Alabama. He served in the campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee, including Chickamauga, before the regiment was transferred to Virginia in the spring of 1864.

April 30, 1862 – During the Civil War, Confederate forces moved toward Staunton from Elk Run in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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 General 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, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought with Indians near Oak Camp, Calif.; at Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory; at Bloomfield, Va.; near Chancellorsville, Raccoon Ford and Spotsylvania Courthouse, Va.; and at Bridgeport, West Virginia. Federal forces also began crossing the Mississippi River from Louisiana to Mississippi near Bruinsburg, Miss., south of Vicksburg, Miss.

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 - At the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry in Arkansas, Union troops under General Frederick Steele fought off a Confederate army under General Edmund Kirby Smith as the Yankees retreated towards Little Rock, Arkansas. Jenkins’ Ferry came at the end of a major Union offensive in Arkansas, and Smith attacked Steele as the Yankees were trying to cross the flooded Saline River. The Union suffered 700 men killed, wounded, and missing out of 4,000, while the Confederates lost about 1,000 out of 8,000.

April 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Whitmore’s Mill, Ark., and a 10-day Federal operation between Memphis, Tenn. and Ripley, Miss. began.

April 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, CSA President Jefferson Davis’ son, Joseph, age five, fell to his death out of a second floor window of the Confederate White House in Richmond, Va. The exuberant five-year-old was, as boys that age often do, playing where he shouldn’t have been, on the second-floor balcony of the Presidential home, the Confederate White House in Richmond. Somehow he slipped, toppled over the railing, and fell to the brick pavement below.

April 30, 1865 – During the Civil War, a Federal operation took place in the vicinity of Brashear City, La.

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, 1888 – Poet and critic John Crowe Rasom was born in Pulaski, Tenn. He was a member of the Fugitives - a group of Southern writers that also included Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, and Donald Davidson. And he was the founder of The Kenyon Review, and one of the most influential American literature professors of the 20th century.

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

April 30, 1896 – The Monroe Journal reported that B.M. Miller, Esq. of Camden; the Hon. P.C. Walker and Jas. E. Stallworth, Esq., of Evergreen; and that the Hon. Jas. M. Davison of Brewton was in attendance during Monroe County (Ala.) Circuit Court that week.

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

April 30, 1900 – Casey Jones died in a train wreck in Vaughan, Miss., while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.

April 30, 1905 – Monroeville, Alabama’s town marshal raided and arrested six gamblers. They appeared in Monroeville’s mayor’s court the next day and were fined.

April 30, 1915 – The month of April 1915 was said to be the driest on record, according to the weather observer in Evergreen, Ala. During April, only .20 inches of rainfall was recorded. It was said that not since 1873 has there been an April in which less than an inch of rainfall was recorded.

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, 1947 – In Nevada, the Boulder Dam was renamed the Hoover Dam a second time.

April 30, 1955 – A square dance was scheduled to be held on this Saturday night, with music by Uncle Charlie and the Conecuh Play Boys, at the Evergreen Recreation Center (Old Armory), sponsored by the Evergreen (Ala.) Junior Chamber of Commerce. Admission was 75 cents. Also that night, another square dance was scheduled to be held at Lyeffion High School, admission 75 cents, at 8 p.m., sponsored by Quarterback Club.

April 30, 1957 – Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery entered into force.

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, 1973 – During the Watergate scandal, U.S. President Richard Nixon announced that White House Counsel John Dean had been fired and that other top aides, most notably H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, had resigned.

April 30, 1975 – During the Fall of Saigon, Communist forces gained control of Saigon. The Vietnam War formally ended with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Dương Văn Minh.

April 30, 1976 – On this Friday, Sparta Academy’s baseball team slipped past Escambia, 7-6, with Jerry Peacock on the mound. Freddie Sellers had two hits and Ronnie Pugh one.

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

April 30, 1977 - Kathryn Tucker Windham of Selma told ghost stories during a program at the “Flea Market” event held at the L&N Depot in Evergreen, Ala. on this Saturday. The event was sponsored by the Murder Creek Historical Society.

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, 1983 – J.W. Coburn of Evergreen, Ala. won first place in the 1983 Jaycee Bass Tournament at the Camp McMillan Boy Scout Retreat Pond on U.S. Highway 31 near Brewton. Coburn received a trophy and a bass tackle box. Coburn won the tournament while fishing from the bank with a cane pole and wigglers against fishermen in bass boats with all types of rods, reels and lures.

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, 1992 – Larry Morrison resigned as Evergreen (Ala.) Police Chief to become Repton’s police chief, a position he held prior to being named Evergreen’s chief on Nov. 5, 1991. Morrison replaced former Evergreen chief Leroy Hall, who resigned on Aug. 23, 1991. Evergreen Mayor Lee Smith named Lt. Earnest Section as “acting chief” to replace Morrison.

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 Baseball 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 Sat., April 30, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.0 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.10 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.80 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 20.85 inches

Notes: Today in the 121st day of 2016 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 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Friday, April 29, 2016

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 622 miles down and 1,177 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging 12 more miles since my last update. I jogged/walked four miles on Sunday, three miles on Wednesday and five miles today (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 622 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,177 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 34.6 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m on the eleventh night of the trip past Rivendell, which is the night of Jan. 3-Jan. 4 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off my last update on Mile 610, which was where Frodo’s group, the Fellowship of the Ring, found themselves two miles from where they reached a hilltop and turned southeast.


Five miles later, at Mile 615, the group camped during the day of Jan. 3. I’ve covered seven miles past that point, and the next significant milestone comes five miles later, at Mile 627, which is where the group will cross a small stream, about three miles from where they camp during the day on Jan. 4.


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 12 miles this week and 164 miles since the start of the calendar year. Today is the 18th Friday of the calendar year, so I’ve covered an average of 9.11 miles per week up to this point.


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 nine more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Today in History for April 29, 2016

Union General George Stoneman
April 29, 1429 – Joan of Arc led French forces into the English-held city of Orleans.

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. The capture of this vital southern city was a huge blow to the Confederacy.

April 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, Federal forces began their advance from Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. toward Corinth, Miss.

April 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Batchelder’s Creek, N.C.; at White Point, S.C.; and at Cumberland Gap, near Bethel Station, Purdy and Monterey Tenn.

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 Francisco, Calif.

April 29, 1863 - Two days of Federal operations in Opelousas, Chicotville and Bayou Boeuf, La. began.

April 29, 1863 – A Federal demonstration took place against Haynes and Drumgould’s Bluff, Miss. to distract Confederates as a portion of Grant’s force relocated itself further south on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River. The bombardment of the Grand Gulf, Miss. began. A three-day Federal reconnaissance from La Grange, Tenn. into northern Mississippi began. Four days of Federal operations in the Murfreesborough, Tenn. area began.

April 29, 1863 – Union General George Stoneman began his cavalry raid against Lee's and the Confederate's lines of communication (lasted until May 7).

April 29, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Kellysville, Brandy Station and Stevensburg, Va.; at Brookhaven, Miss., with Grierson’s raiders; at Castor River, Mo.; on the Chapel Hill Pike in Tennessee; at Crook’s Run and Germanna Ford, and White Oak Run, all near Fredericksburg, Va.; and at Fairmont, West Virginia.

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

April 29, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought along the Ouachita River and another near Saline Bottom, Ark.; at Grand Ecore, La.; in the Sni Hills of Missouri; and in Berry County, Tenn.

April 29, 1864 – A Federal operation between Ringgold toward Tunnel Hill, Ga. began. A two-day Federal operation between Newport Barracks and Swansborough, N.C. began.

April 29, 1864 - Admiral Porter’s fleet seemed doomed. Trapped on the Red River, they heard on this day that their nemesis, Confederate General Richard Taylor, was proposing to take one of their own disabled boats and refloat it to use it as a fireboat to cause havoc and destruction to the Union fleet. Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey came up with a deranged plan. Among their troops were many Midwestern and Maine men with lumberjack experience. Bailey proposed to have them build a dam across the rapids. This would raise the water level under the ships enough than when the dam was blown, they would all get downstream. For lack of alternative, Porter and Banks, head of the land forces, agreed to let him try it.

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, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Eddyville, Ky.

April 28, 1885 – John Folk, who was about 80 years old, died of “dropsy” at his home about eight miles south of Monroeville, Ala.

April 29, 1895 – Anna Newberry, 79, passed away at the home of A.C. Lambert at Manistee, Ala.

April 29, 1896 - Mrs. C.L. Johnson returned home to the River Ridge community on the steamer Nettie Quill on this Wednesday night after a visit to friends and relatives in Mobile, Ala.

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 29-30, 1905 – The Rev. E.C. Clayton filled his regular appointment at Pleasant Hill church on this Saturday and Sunday at Manistee, Ala.

April 29, 1906 – The Rev. A.J. Lambert was scheduled to preach at Zion church (at Axle in Monroe County, Ala.) on this fifth Sunday at 11 a.m.

April 29, 1909 – The Conecuh Record reported that “one automobile may now be seen on the streets of Evergreen, Ala., being owned by the 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, 1915 – C. Bennett, who lived on the Greenville Road beyond the convict camp, had his home and its contents destroyed by fire on this Thursday night.

April 29, 1918 – Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen was born in Nelson County, Va. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

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, 1933 – Singer and songwrigter Willie Nelson was born in the small farming community of Abbott, Texas.

April 29, 1934 – National 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 committed suicide the following day.

April 29, 1945 – German SS officer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp committed suicide at the age of 51 at Halbe, Province of Brandenburg, Free State of Prussia, Nazi Germany.

April 29, 1947 – Former Evergreen, Ala. mayor and state senator Lamar Kelly, 50, of Evergreen was named chairman of the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Kelly, who helped write the legislation that created the ABC board, succeeded Bryce C. Davis of Cullman, who resigned on April 17. Kelly was a state senator from the 17th Senatorial District (Butler, Conecuh and Covington Counties) from 1935 through 1939. Prior to that, he served as mayor of Evergreen for nine years beginning in 1926.

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, Alabama’s annual Fat Calf Show was scheduled to be held with 26 4H Club and FFA members participating.

April 29, 1960 - Hueytown, in Jefferson County, Ala., was officially incorporated. White settlers first came to the area around 1816. The local economy remained largely agricultural until the nearby city of Birmingham began to expand as the iron and steel industry burgeoned. Referred to initially as Huey and by around 1914 as Hueytown, the area remained one of the largest unincorporated communities in Alabama for many years.

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, 1968 – The controversial musical, “Hair,” a product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, opened at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, with its songs becoming anthems of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

April 29, 1970 – During the Vietnam War, United States and South Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia to hunt Viet Cong. The campaign included 13 major ground operations to clear North Vietnamese sanctuaries 20 miles inside the Cambodian border. Some 50,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 30,000 U.S. troops were involved, making it the largest operation of the war since Operation Junction City in 1967.

April 29, 1971 - U.S. casualty figures for April 18 to April 24 were released. The 45 killed during that time brought total U.S. losses for the Vietnam War to 45,019 since 1961. These figures made Southeast Asia fourth in total losses sustained by the U.S. during a war, topped only by the number of losses incurred during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.

April 29, 1974 – During the Watergate scandal, United States President Richard Nixon announced the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings relating to the scandal.

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 Major League Baseball history to hit two home runs in one inning.

April 29, 1975 – During the Vietnam War’s Operation Frequent Wind, the U.S. began to evacuate U.S. citizens from Saigon before an expected North Vietnamese takeover. It was the largest helicopter evacuation on record, and U.S. involvement in the war comes to an end.

April 29, 1975 – During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army completed its capture of all parts of South Vietnamese-held Trường Sa Islands.

April 29, 1976 – Sparta Academy’s baseball team used its only two hits to good advantage in downing Fort Dale, 4-1, on this Thursday. Ronnie Pugh was the winning pitcher while the Peacock Brothers, Jerry and Terry, got Sparta’s hits.

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, 2004 – Dick Cheney and George W. Bush testified before the 9/11 Commission in a closed, unrecorded hearing in the Oval Office.

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

April 29, 2015 – A baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox set the all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball. Zero fans were in attendance for the game, as the stadium was officially closed to the public due to the 2015 Baltimore protests.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., April 29, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): Trace.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.10 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.80 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 20.85 inches

Notes: Today in the 120th day of 2016 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 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 275: Read “Jubilee” by Margaret Walker

Several years ago, I read an article about Alabama author Margaret Walker, whose most famous novel “Jubilee” includes portions that are set during Civil War times in Butler, Crenshaw and Pike counties in Alabama, not far from where I live. I added “Jubilee” to my “bucket list” a couple of years ago and finally got around to reading it earlier this month. I finally finished reading it over the weekend, and I thought it was great.

Walker was born in Birmingham in 1915 and published “Jubilee,” her second book in 1966. For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, it’s mostly about Vyry Brown, the mixed-race slave daughter of a plantation owner in Georgia. The novel follows Vyry as she grows up in slavery, lives through the Civil War and adjusts to her freedom after the war.

I thought this novel did an outstanding job of showing slavery, the Civil War and the post-war years from multiple perspectives, and I feel that I learned a lot from having read the novel, which was apparently well-researched. Much of the book is about people’s attitudes towards one another and how their legal status as free or slave, regardless of race, dictated their behaviors and the courses of their lives. The fact that the story is loosely based on the life of Walker’s grandmother, Margaret Duggans Ware Brown, made the story even more interesting.

After the end of the Civil War, Vyry moves with her husband and two small children from Georgia into Alabama, and I was especially interested to read the descriptions of life in Alabama locations that I’m familiar with. Real-life Alabama locations prominently mentioned in the book include Troy in Pike County, Luverne and Brantley in Crenshaw County, Georgiana and Greenville in Butler County, Selma in Dallas County and the capital city of Montgomery. The novel ends with Vyry’s family living in relatively good conditions in Butler County during Reconstruction years.

The edition of the novel that I read was the 1972 Bantam paperback edition of the book, which was 416 pages long. I think I paid a quarter for it at the used book room at the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, Ala. In all, it took me about two weeks to read this novel, and, at times, it was very hard to put down.

Of course, now that I’ve read “Jubilee,” I’m left wanting to read some of Walker’s other books because if they’re as good as “Jubilee,” I’ve got a lot to look forward to. Also, I’m trying to track down the location of Margaret Duggans Ware Brown’s grave, but I have not had any luck so far. If anyone out there knows where the “real-life Vyry” is buried, please let me know.

In the end, how many of you have read “Jubilee” by Margaret Walker? What did you think about it? Which of Walker’s other books would you recommend? What other Civil War books would you recommend reading? Let us know in the comments section below.

Kathryn Tucker Windham visited Evergreen, Alabama on April 30, 1977

A look through my notes earlier this week reminded me that this coming Saturday will mark 39 years since one of Alabama’s best known (and spookiest) authors visited Conecuh County to share a few ghost stories at the Old L&N Depot in downtown Evergreen.

According to the April 28, 1977 edition of The Courant, a flea market and antique auction was scheduled to be held the following Saturday (April 30) and the event was to feature “an appearance by the noted author, Mrs. Kathryn Tucker Windham, who has written ‘13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery’ and other books. She will tell ghost stories and autograph copies of her book.”

This event was sponsored by the Murder Creek Historical Society and proceeds from the event were to be used by the society to help restore the depot, which was the society’s main project at the time. Members of the society included Gladys St. Amant, Harriet Hyde, Judy Hyde and Ouida Salter. Joe St. Amant served as auctioneer during the event.

Over the years, I had several chances to meet Kathryn Tucker Windham, but for various reasons, I regrettably never took advantage of those opportunities. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a big fan of her books, especially “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery” (1969) and “Jeffrey's Latest 13: More Alabama Ghosts” (1982). When I was child, our elementary school library had copies of both of these books, and I’d venture to say that they were about the most well-worn books in the entire library.

Old L&N Depot in Evergreen, Ala.
Windham passed away in Selma at the age of 93 during the summer of 2011, but her memory lives on among the many fans of her books. Windham wrote about spooky locations all over the state and over the years, I’ve had the chance to visit many of these places myself. Some that I found to be genuinely creepy were Old Cahaba, the Gaineswood plantation house in Demopolis, the Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, Sketoe’s Hole in Dale County, Pratt Hall at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, the grave of Grancer Harrison in Coffee County, the Boyington Oak in Mobile and the McConnico Cemetery at Perdue Hill.

I thought it was interesting that Windham ended up speaking at the Old L&N Depot during her visit to Evergreen, because this historic building also has a reputation for being reportedly haunted.
As a Halloween feature each October since 2010, I’ve put together a list called the “Spookiest Places in Conecuh County.” I compile this list each year after discussing the subject with a number of the county’s lifelong residents and individuals well versed in the county’s long history. Without fail, each year, folks have always mentioned the depot as one of the “spookiest places” in the county.

Located in downtown Evergreen and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the depot building is over 100 years old. Thousands of people passed through this train station during its heyday, and former employees have shared tales about hearing unexplained noises in the building at all times of the day and night.

One former Chamber of Commerce employee personally told me that she would often hear unusual noises in the depot when she knew for a fact that no one was in the building. She said that she didn’t believe in ghosts until she began working in the Chamber office at the depot and would tell anyone who would listen that the building is haunted. She no longer works in the Chamber office at the depot and said that she was glad to have found a job somewhere else in town.

Today in History for April 28, 2016

Lemuel Austin Hendrix
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, 1789 – During what’s now referred to as the “Mutiny on the Bounty,” Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 sailors were set adrift and the rebel crew returned to Tahiti briefly and then set sail for Pitcairn Island.

April 28, 1810 - Union General Daniel Ullmann, who is best known for being an advocate for black troops, 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, 1862 – During the Civil War, Forts Jackson and Saint Philip, La., after the surrender of New Orleans, rendered their further resistance useless. A Federal operation began on the Marias-des-Cygnes and the Elk Fork Rivers in Missouri. A two=day Federal reconnaissance toward Purdy, Tenn. began.

April 28, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Warsaw, Mo.; at Cumberland Mountain, Tenn. and near Monterey, Tenn.

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, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Sand Mountain, Ga.; at Monticello, Ky.; and at Union Church, Miss. as part of the Grierson raid.

April 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Princeton, Ark.; with Indians along the Eel River in California; in Johnson County, Mo. and at Upperville, Va. A nine-day Federal operation between Springfield, Mo. and Fayetteville, Ark. began. A week-long bombardment of Fort Sumter, S.C. commenced.

April 28, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought with Indians near Fort Cummings, New Mexico Territory.

April 28, 1881 – Billy the Kid escaped from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico.
April 28-29, 1886 - A 78-year-old Jefferson Davis was in Montgomery, Ala. to participate in elaborate ceremonies for laying the cornerstone of the Confederate Monument on Capitol Hill. It was the only cornerstone laid by Davis. Fundraising and design problems slowed the construction of the monument. A dedication ceremony for the completed monument was held on Dec. 7, 1898.

April 28, 1896 - Sam Moore, who was representing the firm of Michtral & Lyon of Mobile, was in Pineville, Ala. on this Tuesday.

April 28, 1900 – German SS officer Heinrich Müller was born in Munich, Bavaria, German Empire.

April 28, 1910 – Confederate veteran Lemuel Austin Hendrix passed away at his home in Mexia, Ala. at the age of 72. Hendrix was born on April 29, 1839 and enlisted as a private in August 1861 with Co. E of the 23rd Alabaa Infantry, aka, the “Monroe Rebels.” He was taken prisoner during the Port Gibson/Grand Gulf Campaign on May 10, 1863. He was forwarded to Alton, Ill. and then to Camp Douglas, Ill. and was released in June 1865. According to “History of Hendrix Family” by J.E. Hendrix, L.A. Hendrix was in position beside his brother, William James Hendrix, when W.J. Hendrix was struck by a cannon shot and instantly killed. L.A. Hendrix is buried at Mexia Baptist Cemetery.

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, 1917 – Playwright Robert Anderson was born in New York City.

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. In 2015, she published her second novel, “Go Set a Watchman.”

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

April 28, 1930 – The Independence Producers hosted the first night game in the history of Organized Baseball in Independence, Kansas.

April 28, 1932 – A vaccine for yellow fever was announced for use on humans.

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

April 28, 1936 – Iraqi journalist and politician, Tariq Aziz, who also served as Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, was born in Tel Keppe, Iraq.

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, 1955 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the Castleberry Swimming Pool would open soon. The water was expected to be turned on, and the Castleberry swimming pool was to open soon to the public, according to A.T. Weaver, Castleberry town clerk. The pool was of concrete construction, with a concrete bottom at the deep end, and was paved at the shallow end with smooth round pebbles. It was about 40 feet wide, and about 110 feet long.

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

April 28, 1962 – Early on this Saturday morning, Conecuh County Exchange employees Eugene B. McIntyre, 52, and Earl Steen, 24, both of Evergreen were killed instantly in a three-vehicle accident near the Murder Creek Bridge on U.S. Highway 31 in Evergreen. Also injured in the crash were Geneva Steen, 59, and George Thompson, 63, who were hurt when they jumped off the bridge to avoid the collision. Five women from Mobile also suffered “bruises and injuries” when the 1957 Cadillac they were in collided with other vehicles involved. Preston Smith, 51, the driver of a big trailer truck that collided with the two-ton truck occupied by the two fatally wounded men, was not injured.

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 – National 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, 1970 – During the Vietnam War, U.S. President Richard Nixon gave his formal authorization to commit U.S. combat troops, in cooperation with South Vietnamese units, against communist troop sanctuaries in Cambodia. Secretary of State William Rogers and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, who had continually argued for a downsizing of the U.S. effort in Vietnam, were excluded from the decision to use U.S. troops in Cambodia. Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cabled Gen. Creighton Abrams, senior U.S. commander in Saigon, informing him of the decision that a “higher authority has authorized certain military actions to protect U.S. forces operating in South Vietnam.”

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, 1972 - The North Vietnamese offensive continued as Fire Base Bastogne, 20 miles west of Hue, falls to the communists. Fire Base Birmingham, four miles to the east, was also under heavy attack. As fighting intensified all across the northern province of South Vietnam, much of Hue’s civilian population tried to escape south to Da Nang. Farther south in the Central Highlands, 20,000 North Vietnamese troops converged on Kontum, encircling it and cutting it off. Only 65 miles north of Saigon, An Loc lay under siege and continued to take a pummeling from North Vietnamese artillery, rockets, and ground attacks. To the American command in Saigon, it appeared that South Vietnam was on the verge of total defeat by the North Vietnamese, but the South Vietnamese were able to hold out.

April 28, 1975 – General Cao Văn Viên, chief of the South Vietnamese military, departed for the US as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on victory.

April 28, 1977 – Conecuh County High School’s basketball team was honored with a banquet. Award winners included Leon Kennedy, Outstanding Player; Lawrence Finn, Most Valuable Player; Clinton Peters, Rebound Award; and Willie Jones, Defense Award. Preston Fluker was the varsity team’s head coach, and James Sanders was the B team’s head coach.

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 was 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, 1995 – Episode No. 46 of “The X-Files” – entitled “F. Emasculata” – aired for the first time.

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, 2007 – Evergreen, Ala. Mayor Larry Fluker threw out the first pitch to open the Babe Ruth baseball season at Evergreen Municipal Park.

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 Thurs., April 28, 2016

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.10 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.10 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.80 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 7.50 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 20.85 inches

Notes: Today in the 119th day of 2016 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 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

While an albatross can be bad luck to seafarers, it's a good thing for golfers

Gustave Doré's 'The Albatross' 
One day last week, Willene Whatley dropped by the office to give us an update on her grandson’s impressive golfing career, and she also introduced me to a golf term that I’d never heard of before.

Willene told me that her grandson Turk Pettit, who is a senior at Lee-Scott Academy, was playing a round of golf recently at a difficult course when he made a shot known as an “albatross.” The hole was a par five, and he put the ball in the cup in just two strokes. Me, being the non-golfer that I am, was unfamiliar with the term “albatross,” and I had to look it up.

As it turns out, an “albatross” is another term for what’s known as a “Double Eagle,” that is, making a shot in three under par on any single hole. The term is rarely used because most golfers never come close to making a double eagle or albatross. One source said that “an albatross golf score is so rare that it’s hardly ever seen on TV or in person, much less even heard about.”

I told Willene that the only time I’d ever heard about an albatross was in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” An albatross is a large sea bird, and killing one brings on extremely bad luck. In the poem, a sailor kills one of these birds, and dooms the ship, leaving him as the lone survivor.

As it turns out, all of this has a little to do with the golfing term. Because the albatross sea bird is extremely rare and because it’s known for flying extremely long periods of time without landing, golfers started calling a “Double Eagle” an albatross because they’re rare and you have to hit an extremely long drive for the shot to even be possible.

Many of you probably remember reading about Turk’s golfing exploits in earlier editions of The Courant. On Tuesday of last week, he was scheduled to depart to play in the Junior Invitational Golf Tournament in South Carolina. Golf Week recently named this invitation-only tournament as the most prestigious junior golf tournament in the world.

Turk is one of just 54 young golfers invited to the event, and he is the only golfer from the state of Alabama playing in the tournament. The field of participants not only comes from the 50 United States, but also from a number of foreign countries. Needless to say, this is a big deal for Turk and his family.

Turk was scheduled to begin play last Thursday and was to return home to Alabama on Saturday to begin playing Sunday and Monday in the AISA State Golf Tournament in Greenville. Everyone here at The Courant is wishing him good luck, and if his past performance is any indication, he looks to bring home even more hardware for his already-full trophy case.

I’m also sure that we haven’t heard the last from Turk where it comes to golf. He will be a college freshman next fall, and I predict that there are even bigger and better things down the road for him in the wide world of golf. It won’t be long, and we’ll be seeing him in the ranks of the world’s best professional golfers. That’s something that all of us, even non-golfers like myself, can look forward to.

Today in History for April 27, 2016

Rogers Hornsby
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, 1667 – Blind and impoverished poet John Milton sold the copyright for his masterpiece, “Paradise Lost,” for 10 pounds.

April 27, 1759 – Writer, philosopher and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft was born in London.

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, 1840 – Union General Samuel Thomas was born at South Point, Lawrence County, Ohio. After the war, he became a railroad financier, and Thomasville, Ala. was named in his honor. He also donated $500 toward the construction of Thomasville’s first school.

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, 1861 – During the Civil War, Lincoln extended the blockade to include Virginia and North Carolina, and Virginia offered Richmond to be the Confederate capital.

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, 1862 – During the Civil War, Fort Livingston, Fort Pike and Fort Wood surrendered to Federal forces, near New Orleans, La. Skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Haughton’s Mill, N.C.; near Pea Ridge, Tenn.; and close to McGaheysville, VA

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

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

April 27, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Barboursville and another near Woodburn, Ky.; near Jackson and another near the White Water Bridge, Mo.; at Wise’s Crossroad, N.C.; at Murray’s Inlet, S.C.; on Carter Creek Pike in Tennessee; and at Independence and Morgantown, West Virginia. A Federal operation between Yorktown and Hickory Flats, Va. began. A five-day Federal operation between New Berne and Kinston, N.C. began.

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

April 27, 1864 – During the Civil War, Northern armies officially broke winter camp in preparation for the Spring campaigns.

April 27, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Ringgold Gap, Ga.; in Breathitt County, Ky., along Troublesome Creek; in the vicinity of Dayton, Mo.; at Masonborough Inlet, N.C.; and at Twelve Mile Ordinary, Va.

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, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Mount Vernon, Mo.

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 – National 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, 1896 - Jas. K. Kyser, the “genial postmaster and merchant of Burnt Corn,” was in Monroeville on this Monday. Jno. A. Savage, secretary and general manager of the Monroe Mill Co., was also in Monroeville on this Monday on business. H.A. Lockwood of Manistee, the “genial bookkeeper for the Bear Creek Mill Co.,” also visited The Monroe Journal’s office on this Monday. Dr. J.W. Shomo of Mt. Pleasant also visited Monroeville on thhis Monday. G.W. Kyser, “one of Repton’s enterprising merchants,” was in Monroeville on this Monday, attending court.

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, Ala. to New Orleans on the Louisville & Nashville 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 – National 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, 1916 - The churches and Sunday schools of the Pine Barren Association were scheduled to hold their second annual basket picnic on R.E. Lambert’s farm on this Thursday.

April 27, 1916 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mrs. J.C. Finch had returned to her home at Finchburg after spending a few days with her daughter, Mrs. A.C. Lee.

April 27, 1916 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mrs. Hebblewhite and children of Chicago were in Monroeville to attend the Locklin-Moore wedding.

April 27, 1916 – The Monroe Journal reported that the Rev. C.A. Rush, D.D., President of the Southern University at Greensboro, was “an honored visitor to Monroeville this week in the interest of that splendid institution, which is flourishing under his administration.”

April 27, 1916 – The Conecuh Record reported that “quite a large number” of Confederate veterans were in Evergreen, Ala. on April 26 “to be present at the Memorial Exercises. The banks, post office and all business houses were closed during the services and the graves of all deceased veterans were appropriately decorated with beautiful flowers. Hon. G.W.L. Smith of Brewton was the orator of the day, and his tribute of love and remembrance to the dead patriots was eloquent and impressive.”

April 27, 1916 – The Conecuh Record reported that “the Act creating the Board of Revenue for Conecuh County has been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court, making it necessary that the candidates heretofore running for the board of revenue now announce for members of the Court of County Commissioners, which all those properly qualified have done.”

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, 1968 - Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an interview, he said he supported the current U.S. policy of sending troops “where required by our own national security.”

April 27, 1970 - The 25th Annual Conecuh County 4-H and FFA Calf Show was scheduled to be staged at the show arena at Conecuh Stockyards on this Monday. Fed calves were to be shown by 55 young men and women starting at 8 a.m. The show was sponsored by the Conecuh County Fat Calf Show Committee, an agency of the United Fund, and the State Dept. of Agriculture & Industries in cooperation with the Auburn University Extension Service and State Dept. of Vocational Agriculture.

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, 1972 - North Vietnamese troops shattered defenses north of Quang Tri and moved to within 2.5 miles of the city. Using Russian-built tanks, they took Dong Ha, seven miles north of Quang Tri, the next day and continued to tighten their ring around Quang Tri, shelling it heavily. South Vietnamese troops suffered their highest casualties for any week in the war in the bitter fighting.
April 27, 1976 – English actress Sally Hawkins was born in Dulwich, London, England.

April 27, 1977 – The Conecuh County High School track and field team beat Repton High School, 48-41, to win the Repton Invitational Track Meet in Repton.

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, 1985 - Evergreen Little League’s 1985 Baseball Jamboree was scheduled to begin with opening ceremonies on this Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Evergreen Municipal Park. An introduction of teams, players and special guests was to be followed by exhibition games by the Little League, Minor League and T-Ball teams. The official season was scheduled to begin on Mon., April 29, at 6 p.m. with games every Monday, Thursday and Friday.

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.

April 27, 2011 – The April 25–28 tornado outbreak devastated parts of the Southeastern United States, especially the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. Two hundred five tornadoes touched down on April 27 alone, killing more than 300 and injuring hundreds more.