Monday, July 25, 2016

George Singleton provides more details about 'Mystery Stones of Pine Orchard'

(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 “Searchers continue the quest for Indian village” was originally published in the July 23, 1992 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

In my last article, I expressed some facts and some of my thoughts concerning what I thought to be the true location of the large early Indian village of Maubila. Thanks to my readers, I have received many good comments about the article and several requests to further explain more of my beliefs as to its location.

I request that you keep an open mind about this, and after weighing the information in your mind, decide for yourself if this is where Maubila is to be found.

In reading all that has been written about the importance of Maubila, one should come to the conclusion that is was a village of great influence among the early Indians of this area. It was a village that housed most, if not all, of the ruling class, such as chiefs, medicine men, prophets and so on.

A village of this importance would not have been located off to itself or isolated from the other villages. In all reasoning, it would have been located near the center of the other villages or among them where its influence could be reckoned with.

In Pine Orchard

I don’t profess to be one who knows it all. A very good friend, David McClammy, now deceased played a very important part in helping me decide where I thought Maubila was. He, too, believed that this large Indian town was in the vicinity of what is now the Pine Orchard community.

David and I spent many, many hours walking, looking, digging and mapping out the exact locations of the several large villages that were to be found nearby Maubila.

In searching out the size of the villages that we had found in this area, we estimated that well over 25,000 people had inhabited the area that started just above what is now the community of Beatrice and ended just south of what is now the community of Burnt Corn.

Then, if one turned in a westwardly direction, back toward the great river, the sites of several large villages were to be found there. We know for a fact that the large village of Piachi was in this area; DeSoto’s records prove this.

Prior to the clear-cutting of the timber within these areas, much evidence, such as old fire pits, corn grinding stones and various digging tools dotted the landscape. As one traveled south, down Old Federal Road toward the community of Burnt Corn, good evidence could be found all over the area.

Artifacts destroyed

As the timber was cut and the land was plowed over, almost all of the artifacts were covered or broken by the huge plows used in the preparation and planting for the new timber growth.

Very few people of this area have ever bothered to go and see the 12 large stone disks that were found in the area where I believe the village of Maubila was located.

The largest disc weighed 3,000 pounds. The smallest one weighed about 45 pounds. These 12 stone disks were standing upright, in a straight line that ran directly east and west. They were about 20 feet apart; the largest disk was on the eastern end of the line. The smallest one was located on the western end; the last one in the line.

The disks, made from limestone, could have in no way been intended for use as a wheel. Those that have holes in them look as though the holes might have been started from each side, because they are off center when they meet.

And, too, these stone disks are not exactly round. Many fossils of various types can be seen embedded in the rough limestone. My belief is that they were used for some type of calendar, or something of this nature.

Some years back, I took it upon myself to photograph these stone disks and sent these photographs to one of our major universities in the state. My letter was never answered or acknowledged.

Invested all his wealth

But let’s go back and try to think along the same lines that DeSoto did when he and his army crossed the mighty river near what is now Claiborne. DeSoto had invested all of the wealth that he had acquired during his ventures into South and Central America into this expedition.

He had been told of the legendary Seven Cities of Gold by the people of areas that he and his army had raped and pillaged. This story was a way the natives of the above countries used to get DeSoto’s army of murderers to move elsewhere. It didn’t take long for the local people to realize that wealth and gold was DeSoto’s sole purpose for being there.

So, why would DeSoto have bothered to cross the great river, if there had not been something he thought was of great importance waiting in the mountainous area to the northeast? Again, the large town of Maubila would have appealed to him in his desperate search for the wealth he was seeking. The center of the area was Maubila; he felt that much gold awaited him at this important location and the surrounding villages I mentioned earlier. And the Indians lured DeSoto to Maubila, hoping for a chance to destroy him and his army that was pillaging and raping their villages and homes.

As I stated in my earlier article, I believe that something of great importance awaits among the high hills in the northeast corner of our county. The many artifacts and the many old burial mounds that have been found in this area, reaffirms that something awaits in the foggy mists called the mountainous area to the east by DeSoto and his army.

The sands of time are slowly making their way across our historic county. The time is at hand when we must decide to research and locate or lose forever that which is rightfully ours. The winds of tomorrow bear no promises.

(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, lived for a time among Apache Indians, 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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