Saturday, June 25, 2016

Singleton tells of man's hanging at 'Oak and Ash' landmark near Kleppac's store

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 “Oak, ash became landmark” was originally published in the June 26, 1975 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

One of the first places that was pointed out to me when I began to gather information about Monroe County was where the old Franklin road connects with the Ridge Road at Kleppac’s old store.

I was told that here, under a giant oak tree and an ash tree that grew side by side, was one of the better known landmarks of this area.

The trees are gone now; nothing remains but the faint imprint of the old public road, and a metal gate that keeps the cattle from straying across the paved highway.

A few traces of the old oak stump can still be seen scattered around, but nothing remains of the strong slender ash that grew by its side.

‘Real close together’

“They were real close together,” stated Mrs. George Kleppac, who has lived in the area most of her life. “They grew so close together that one could hardly ride a horse between them.”

It was a common meeting place for people in this area. The Ridge Road went to the east, and another went toward Fountain and the river. Then there was the road to Monroeville.

This was a kind of focal point to anyone traveling through here. Horses and wagons would stop under the Oak and Ash while the teams cooled from the long hot roads and hills to the north.

People would meet under the protection of the two trees, discuss the events of the times and pass the idle hours with the travelers and drummers who stopped to rest and make adjustments to their harness and equipment.

Wagons, Model T’s

The Oak and Ash continued to be an important landmark after the mule and horse-drawn wagons began to vanish from the scene. Where once the wagons halted, the Model T’s and other automobiles of the times took their place.

The dusty road and the yearn for conversation and local news continued to make the Oak and Ash a place of interest.

The giant oak stood like a silent sentinel as time moved onward, and the local people sought the changing life that was to be found elsewhere.

Hanged from limb

The peaceful air was shattered around the Oak and Ash on that fateful day in the early 1900s when a man was hanged from one of the huge limbs of the great oak. Even in this hour of strife, when death stalked the morning, the great old tree was remembered.

Many of the tales that were spun around the Oak and Ash have passed into oblivion. But I’m sure that there are a few folks around who have heard the words: “The Oak and Ash: I’ll see you there.”

(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 June 1964 (some sources say 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. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” 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.)

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