|Historical marker in 'downtown' Midway, Alabama.|
(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 “Historic places are fading fast” was originally published in the March 28, 2002 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
A few days back a friend and I ventured forth into the area of the Midway community. Our aim was to visit some of the old cemeteries and other places of interest in the area and look for some names of the early settlers that are buried there. The old forgotten cemeteries are all in a rough state of disrepair due to fallen timbers and grown up brush that cover the grave sites of those who departed this life after many years of hard work there on the rolling hills of the old settlement.
Three or four of the abandoned headstones recorded dates of death that dated back to the early 1800s. One that I recall went as far back as 1816. In viewing the old cemeteries, I assumed that the area of Midway was at one time a sizeable community. I was disappointed to see, however, that the old burial grounds had been neglected over the years and the passing of time had taken its toll in the old burials that rested atop the high hilltops of the area.
Only a few of the headstones had markers that bore the names of those buried there. Many had nothing more than a sizeable rock as a grave marker. Some had nothing more than a large piece of fat lightwood driven in the ground; these leaned crazily to one side or the other. Others were broken by fallen limbs and blown over timber. Others had nothing more than a small indenture in the ground where the soil had settled over the many years there on the hillsides.
As if by some miracle, three small cast iron fences that each surrounded a family plot or a single grave had survived the many years of weather and time. Each needed some repair, but they continued to guard and protect those that slept there in the small fenced area.
The largest of the old cemeteries had adjoining it what seemed to be slave burials. It too was in great need of cleaning and cutting away of the large brush and removing the fallen and rotten timbers. Many of the rocks that had served as headstones had been moved or crushed by the rotted timbers that crisscrossed the old burial grounds. Such a tragedy that these old historic landmarks had fallen in such decay.
Atop what appeared to be the highest hill in the area was located one of the cemeteries. As we stood there discussing the condition of the burials, I thought of the hard times experienced by many of those that slept there. Many had come this way looking for a better way of life, only to find a life of hard work and sacrifice here on the high ridges. But I’m sure that there were some good times also. Inspecting some of the tombstones, there were evidence of several sizeable families that lived in the surrounding area.
As we journeyed through the old burial grounds, I remembered from past investigations that this area had been occupied for many hundreds of years by the early Indian. Not too far from where we were was the ancient cave known as the Midway cave. Evidence inside the ancient cave showed that it had been occupied long before the time of DeSoto’s visit into this area, and perhaps many hundreds of years before.
There are many places and various ancient items within this area and the nearby area of Pine Orchard that need to be investigated. The mystery stones of Pine Orchard need to be studied and researched. I believe that a thorough investigation into these stones and the location where they were found would prove beyond any doubt that the famed Indian village of Maubila was in what is now the Pine Orchard area. If one studies and researches the route that DeSoto and his army took through what is now Monroe, Wilcox and Conecuh counties, it will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the famed Indian village was in what is now the corner of Conecuh and Monroe counties, near where the counties join.
Realizing that the time was speeding on toward the evening hours, we departed the Midway area and started back toward Pine Orchard. There was one more stop that I wanted to make since I was up in this area. Down the road aways and out in the woods was located the Wolf Pit. I had been to this location several times, but for some unknown reason, I wanted to see again this strange hole in the ground. When I first came to this area, I became friends with two men that knew this part of the county like the backs of their hands. In viewing the Wolf Pit, I was told the stories about these strange holes in the ground and what they were used for. But, this is another story.
Making my way back to the Hub City, I realized again the abundance of early history that waited around almost every turn of the road and the importance of researching and investigating it. We need to know firsthand the background and lives of those who came here before us. And I’m sure that almost none would believe the many important events that took place around the area many years before our time.
As the trend continues, unless we change our ways, many of the old historical places within our area will soon fade into oblivion. Also, the history of our past will have disappeared from view and the places thereof will know if no more.
(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.)