Saturday, March 31, 2018

Singleton recounts 'beautiful spring-like day' around old homeplace

Blooming mountain laurel flowers.

(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 “Spring gives hints of homeplaces’ former beauty and bustle” was originally published in the April 1, 1993 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The beautiful spring-like day of March 24 was an ideal time for wandering and visiting old places within the county.

It’s sometimes hard to understand how nature can return to the old homeplaces year after year with its tokens of beauty, when man has forgotten all about them, or doesn’t care enough about the past to cast even a slight shadow of remembrance.

Travel in almost any direction within this county, and you will find evidence of yesterday’s life. Visit the old homeplaces that dot the landscape, and there you will find that a token of the past beauty that surrounded the homes most always return at the beginning of each spring.

Push back the tall weeds and view for yourself a small, blooming jonquil or lily, planted there somewhere in time by the hand of a beautiful, white-haired lady or someone who sought to bring beauty to the barren soil. Or stop if you will, and smell the fragrance of the struggling day lilies that line the old walkways or flowerbeds of a forgotten homeplace.

Look closely around the remains of the old chimneys; most always a few purple violets push through the rough soil as though trying to be seen and remembered. Then stand for a moment and try to visualize the activity that abounded there in the forgotten years of long ago.

Listen for the sounds of laughter as the country children raced to and fro among the flowers and hedges planted there by a tall, dark-haired lady in a handmade sun bonnet. Then, picture in your mind, the activities of the evening, as the family gathered for the coming darkness.

Sniff the winds of the evening for the wonderful smell of country food being prepared for the family supper meal. And stand for a moment beside the old, abandoned well and think for a moment of a small country boy on a hot summer day, drawing from the depths a cool, refreshing drink.

Try and remember the long-handled gourd dipper, that hung from a wooden peg, driven in a post of the old well curbing.

Walk around the area, as I have this day, along the sides of that steep hill north of an old homeplace and notice the growth of mountain laurel. Examine it closely and notice the very tiny buds that before too long will blossom forth to become a most beautiful wildflower.

Then, picture in your mind a beautiful, dark-haired country girl, standing among the mountain laurels looking off in the distance.

Stand for awhile and feel the warm spring wind as it sweeps gently across the tall pine trees that grow now where corn and cotton once grew in the summer sun. And, picture in your mind, the sweat and hard labor that once took place out there in the large field where the tall pines now stand.

Cool shade

Take a close look at the few remaining old oak trees that furnished the cool shade in which the workers of the fields could rest for a while from the hot summer sun.

As you examine the crude rock wall that bordered the large front yard of the old homeplace, think of the care and work that went into the old, abandoned flower beds long fallen into decay.

While you are there, pay close attention to the ancient cactus plant growing there among the rocks of the old flower bed. Give some thought as to how this ancient cactus plant of the western deserts made its way to this old homeplace near the Old Scotland community.

Seek out the broken and decaying old pear trees that grew near the kitchen that once sat behind the old house, connected only by a covered walkway, or dog trot, as it was often referred to in those early times.

Try to visualize the juicy sweet pears that hung from the trees that now are broken and rotted. Look ever so closely at the three lone blooms that sprout from the aged and broken limbs of the ragged and decaying trees as they try so very hard, after all these years, to bring forth their delicious fruit.

Coffee grinder

Listen ever so closely, while standing near the old fallen soap rock chimney of the small kitchen, as you try to seek out the sounds of the old coffee grinder that was mounted on the kitchen wall. The grinding sounds of those parched coffee beans being made into a mixture reminded a small country boy of brown hominy grits. And later, sniff the early spring air for that wonderful smell of boiling coffee being made over a fire in an open fireplace.

Seek out the memories of the small front porch of the kitchen with its water shelf; there, where the water bucket and wash pan were to be found, where a large white homemade towel flapped in the spring breezes as it hung from the corner post.

Gather in your mind the memories of a large stone milk churn, setting there on the kitchen porch in a rack made so that the milk churn would not turn over. Nearby, the churn rack was a small handmade bench for the one who operated the churn dasher to sit on while churning the butter.

It’s true that early spring has a way of bringing back memories around the old, abandoned homeplaces. Whether it be in the Old Scotland area or in the area of my maternal ancestors in the lower part of the adjoining county, the memories are the same. The words of a not too well-known poet might say it best.

Pass in review all those memories
That dwell within my soul.
For I have returned once again
To a special place where time has no meaning,
And the spirits of the past cry out to be remembered.

(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 during a late-night thunderstorm on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “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. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. 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 March 31, 2018

Col. Joseph Richard Hawthorne

March 31, 1596 – Philosopher Rene Descartes, who has been called the “Father of Modern Philosophy,” was born in La Haye en Touraine, France.

March 31, 1621 – Poet Andrew Marvell was born in Winestead, England.

March 31, 1774 – During the American Revolution, the Kingdom of Great Britain ordered the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

March 31, 1776 - Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John that women were "determined to foment a rebellion" if the new Declaration of Independence failed to guarantee their rights.

March 31, 1790 - Thomas Bigelow died in prison, where he’d been imprisoned for failure to pay his debts even though he had earned 23,000 acres of land for his military service.

March 31, 1809 - Ukrainian-born Russian humorist, novelist, and dramatist Nikolai Gogol was born in the Cossack village of Sorochintsy.

March 31, 1810 – Old Bassett’s Creek Baptist Church, the second oldest Baptist church in the state, was established near Walker Springs in Clarke County, Ala.

March 31, 1825 – During his historic tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived at the Fort Mitchell crossing of the Chattahoochee River, where he was welcomed by, among others, General Sam Dale, hero of the “Canoe Fight” near Claiborne. Because Lafayette entered Alabama in what was technically Creek territory, General Thomas S. Woodward, who was himself part Creek, led an Indian escort through the region. After staying overnight at the fort, they begin their route west to Montgomery via military escort through Creek territory.

March 31, 1826 – The steamboat “Herald” broke the Henderson’s record for fastest trip from Mobile to Montgomery, Ala.

March 31, 1831 – An arrest warrant was issued for the heavily indebted William B. Travis at Claiborne, Ala.

March 31, 1836 – The first monthly installment of Charles Dickens’ first novel, “The Pickwick Papers,” was published under the pseudonym Boz.

March 31, 1840 – John Herbert Kelly, who would become known as the “Boy General of the Confederacy,” was born in Carrollton, Ala. to Isham and Elizabeth Kelly. Both of his parents died before his eighth birthday, leaving he and his brother as orphans. At that time, they moved to Wilcox County, Ala., where they were raised by their grandparents, Col. Joseph Richard Hawthorne and Harriet Herbert Hawthorne. Kelly went on to study at the U.S. Military Academy and eventually became an officer in the Confederate Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Due to his outstanding service, Kelly rose through the ranks and on Nov. 16, 1863, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. At the time of his promotion, at the age of 23, Kelly was the youngest brigadier general in the entire Confederate Army, which is why we know him today as the “Boy General of the Confederacy.”

March 31, 1861 – During the Civil War, Federal forces abandoned Fort Bliss, Texas.

March 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Pink Hill, Mo.; in the vicinity of Deep Gully, N.C.; and near Adamsville, Tenn., on the Purdy Road. A three-day Federal operation also began in the vicinity of Paris, Tenn.

March 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishing between Rebels and Union forces took place at Island 10 on the Mississippi River.

March 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Crooked Creed and Cross Hollow, Ark.; at Richmond, La.; and in the vicinity of Franklin, Tenn.

March 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, after burning most of it, Jacksonville, Fla. was evacuated by Federal forces.

March 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, a Naval engagement was fought on the Savannah River in Georgia.

March 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, an 18-day Federal operation began between Milliken’s Bend and New Carthage, La.; and a four-day Federal operation began between Lexington and the mouth of the Duck River in Tennessee.

March 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Federal vessels Albatross, Harford and Switzerland successfully passed the batteries at Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

March 31, 1863 – During the Civil war, a Confederate assault began on the Federal garrison of Washington, N.C. A largish quantity of Confederate artillery was used to keep the offshore Union gunboats from getting close enough to assist. Although they were not much use militarily, the gunboats did run in supplies that enabled the garrison to resist.

March 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Arkadelphia, Ark.; near Palatka, Fla.; in eastern Kentucky at Forks of Beaver; out from Natchitoches, La.; and at Spring Island, S.C.

March 31, 1865 – 59TH ALABAMA: The 59th Alabama fought in the Battle of White Oak Road (or Gravelly Run).

March 31, 1865 – 59TH ALABAMA: The 59th Alabama fought in skirmishes up and down Hatcher’s Run.

March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, a two-day Federal operation began in the vicinity of Aquia Eria in the New Mexico Territory.

March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Gulley and Hookerton, N.C.; at Magnolia, Tenn.; and at Crow’s House, along Hatcher’s Run, and on the White Oak Road in Virginia.

March 31, 1865 - Union troops under the command of General James H. Wilson destroyed the Brierfield Ironworks, which was located between Centreville and Montevallo, Ala. The facility was established in 1862 with the construction of a 36-foot-high brick blast furnace. In 1863, the works were sold, along with nine slaves, to the Confederacy for $600,000, making it the only ironworks owned by the Confederacy. The iron produced at the site was shipped to the Selma Ordnance and Naval Foundry, where it was fashioned into cannon and plate armor.

March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, Federal forces occupied Asbyville, Ala. A skirmish was also fought at Montevallo and at Six Mile Creek, Ala. Major General Steele’s column also reached Stockton, Ala.

March 31, 1865 - Fighting occurred at White Oak Road and the Dinwiddie Court House.

March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, the Battle of White Oak Road (also known as The Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Gravelly Run, Boydton Plank Road and White Oak Ridge) was fought at the end of the Petersburg, Va. line near Dinwiddie Court House. During the battle, Union General Philip Sheridan moved against the left flank of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, near Dinwiddie Court House. The limited action set the stage for the Battle of Five Forks, Va. on the following day. The 59th Alabama Infantry Regiment, of which Lewis Lavon Peacock was a member, lost a number of men in this battle.

March 31, 1887 – The Monroe Journal reported that there were five prisoners confined in the Monroe County Jail awaiting the action of the courts.

March 31, 1887 - Mr. W.C. Stevens, who was connected with the live grocery house of S. Richard & Sons of Mobile, was in Monroeville during this week.

March 31, 1887 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mrs. DeLoach, the mother of Capt. John DeLoach, had been quite sick for several days.

March 31, 1887 – The Monroe Journal reported that several “commercial tourists” were in Monroeville that week.

March 31, 1887 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mrs. Jno. I. Watson, who had been ill for several days, was improving slowly.

March 31, 1889 – The Eiffel Tower was officially opened with a dedication ceremony in Paris, France.

March 31, 1894 – Drs. J.F. Busey, W.L. Abernathy and G.L. Lambert, all of Monroe County, Ala. were granted diplomas by the Alabama Medical College.

March 31, 1895 - Vardis Fisher, a gifted novelist who dealt with both the myth and reality of the American West, was born in Annis, Idaho.

March 31, 1905 - Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany arrived in Tangiers to declare his support for the sultan of Morocco, provoking the anger of France and Britain in what would become known as the First Moroccan Crisis, a foreshadowing of the greater conflict between Europe’s great nations still to come, the First World War.

March 31, 1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later the National Collegiate Athletic Association) was established to set rules for college sports in the United States.

March 31, 1909 – Construction of the ill-fated RMS Titanic began.

March 31, 1914 – Alabama Congressional Representative Richmond P. Hobson, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War, spoke before a large crowd at the Conecuh County Courthouse in Evergreen, Ala.

March 31, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the basketball team in the Effie community was “progressing nicely at present.”

March 31, 1917 – The United States took possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renamed the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

March 31, 1918 – Daylight saving time went into effect in the United States for the first time.

March 31, 1928 – This Saturday looked to be an eventful day in Monroeville, Ala. as it marked the opening of the first Jitney-Jungle store for Monroeville under the ownership of Gardner & Stallworth. The big red and green front store opened on this Saturday morning in the Fountain Fancy Grocery stand and all Monroeville and trade territory were most cordially invited to visit, inspect and participate in the extraordinary opening price savings.

March 31, 1930 – The Motion Picture Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S. for the next 38 years.

March 31, 1931 – TWA Flight 599 crashed near Bazaar, Kansas killing eight, including University of Notre Dame head football coach Knute Rockne.

March 31, 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps was established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States.

March 31, 1933 - The "Soperton News" in Georgia became the first newspaper to publish using a pine pulp paper.

March 31, 1936 – Poet and novelist Marge Piercy was born in Detroit.

March 31, 1938 – The Monroe Journal reported that Monroeville’s new post office was to be completed and ready for occupancy within the next 10 days. Workmen were finishing the interior of the building and placing office equipment. All patrons of the post office, who had rented boxes in the past, were to be assigned boxes in the new building without application. Instead of using combination locks as in the old office, the new boxes were to have Yale locks and keys. The basement of the building was to be occupied by the Monroe County Farm Bureau.

March 31, 1938 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mr. C.A. Gentry, who had been connected with the Alabama Power Co. in Atmore, had been transferred to the office in Monroeville to assume the position left vacant by the promotion of John H. Finklea.

March 31, 1938 – The Monroe Journal reported that Margaret Turberville of Monroe County High School in Monroeville, Ala., had been selected as county champion in The Birmingham News-Age Herald oratorical contest on “Jefferson and Marshall,” and would represent the county in the congressional district competitions for this district at Grove Hill High School on Mon., April 11, at 7:30.

March, 31, 1943 – “Oklahoma!” opened on Broadway.

March 31, 1944 - Ensign R.G. Kendall Jr. was scheduled to leave on this Friday for Hollywood, Fla., where he was to go for training, according to The Evergreen Courant.

March 31, 1945 - "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams opened on Broadway.

March 31, 1947 – Evergreen’s Fat Calf Show was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Stock Yard in Evergreen, Ala. and guest speakers were to include Alabama Gov. “Big Jim” Folsom. The event was sponsored by the Evergreen Junior Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Extension Service and Vocational Ag. Dept. and was open to 4-H Club Boys & Girls, FFA and FHA members. The event was to include a formal dedication of the Conecuh Producer’s Cooperative, and special music was to be provided by the Maxwell Field Band.

March 31, 1950 – NFL running back Ed Marinaro was born in New York City. He went on to play at Cornell, the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks.

March 31, 1950 - A radio version of Alabama author T. S. Stribling's story "Green Splotches" was broadcast as part of the “Escape” series.

March 31, 1951 – The Remington Rand Corporation signed a contract to deliver the first UNIVAC computer to the U.S. Census Bureau. UNIVAC I (which stands for Universal Automatic Computer) took up 350 square feet of floor space - about the size of a one-car garage - and was the first American commercial computer. It was designed for the rapid and relatively simple arithmetic calculation of numbers needed by businesses, rather than the complex calculations required of the sciences.

March 31, 1954 – Evergreen High School wrapped up spring football practice with a “Green and Red” intra-squad game at 7:30 p.m. at Brooks Stadium in Evergreen, Ala.

March 31, 1965 - Responding to questions from reporters about the situation in Vietnam, President Johnson said, “I know of no far-reaching strategy that is being suggested or promulgated.”

March 31, 1967 – The annual Miss Evergreen Pageant was held in Evergreen, Ala. The pageant was sponsored by the Evergreen High School Band Boosters.

March 31, 1968 - Seattle chose the nickname “Pilots” for their new American League baseball franchise.

March 31, 1968 - In a televised speech to the nation, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced a partial halt of bombing missions over North Vietnam and proposes peace talks.

March 31, 1972 - The Major League Baseball Players Association voted to go on strike on April 1.

March 31, 1972 - After firing more than 5,000 rockets, artillery, and mortar shells on 12 South Vietnamese positions just below the Demilitarized Zone, the North Vietnamese Army launched ground assaults against South Vietnamese positions in Quang Tri Province, but the attacks were thrown back, with 87 North Vietnamese killed.

March 31, 1974 - James “Pappy” Ellis officially retired from his position as Evergreen’s police chief, and he was replaced by incoming chief, Russell Phillips on April 1. Phillips was a retired state trooper sergeant and former police chief in McIntosh. Ellis was honored with a “prayer breakfast” on Fri., March 29. Phillips had been on duty with the Evergreen Police Department since March 1 to get familiar with the city and department personnel.

March 31, 1978 - The Monroe Academy Volunteers’ spring football drills were scheduled to end on this Friday night as they were scheduled to play Escambia Academy in a jamboree at Canoe. Coach Vance McCrory of MA planned to dress 37 players for the jamboree with 15 of those returning from the 1977 team. Players on Monroe’s team for that spring game included Keith Adair, David Carpenter, Davison Carter, Jim Carter, Sammy Carter, Tim Chunn, Keith Cox, Allen Deer, Bryan Dunn, Byron Dunn, Ron Eddins, Buddy Elliott, Larry Gaston, Brian Harris, Jeff Helton, Ty Ivey, Mitch Jones, O’Neal Jordan, Troy Kendricks, Mike Kennedy, Tommy Kilpatrick, Lawrence Knight, Jim Masingill, Dave McCrory, John McKenzie, Tracy McPherson, Tim Mixon, Mark Nettles, Randall Norris, Stanley Owens, Tommy Owens, Robin Reynolds, Ricky Sager, Doug Smith, Tripp Stallworth, Eddie Stanley, Greg Tatum, Jeff Tatum, Randy Watson, Bryce Whetstone and Rick Williams.

March 31, 1981 – The organizational meeting Conecuh County’s “New Courthouse Committee,” which was formed by the Conecuh County Commission to study and make recommendations regarding the construction of a new county courthouse, was held. Circuit Judge Robert E.L. Key was the committee’s chairman and other members of the committee included William D. Melton, David L. Burt Jr., Larry Fluker, Richard Rabb, Robert Floyd, Lee F. Smith, W.J. Barlow, Billy Mims, Alton Johnson, Oliver Pugh, Aubrey D. Padgett, Judge Frank T. Salter, Anne T. Cook, Elizabeth W. Salter, Prather N. Smith and Willene Whatley.

March 31, 1983 – The Monroe Journal reported that Monroe County State Trooper Marion Craft had received an award from the state Department of Public Safety in appreciation of “the extra effort in attempting to save the life of an infant and for control of onlookers at the scene of an accident Oct. 4, 1981.”

March 31, 1988 - The staff of the Alabama Journal were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting for their investigation into infant mortality in Alabama.

March 31, 1994 – The journal “Nature” reported the finding in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis skull.

March 31, 1995 – The longest strike in Major League Baseball history ended as players were sent back to work. Because of the strike, the 1994 World Series was cancelled. It was the first time baseball did not crown a champion in 89 years.

March 31, 1998 - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks debuted in the major leagues.

March 31, 1998 - Pokey Reese of the Cincinnati Reds tied a Major League record when he had four errors on opening day.

March 31, 1998 - Mallory Salter, daughter of Eddie and Julie Salter of Evergreen, killed her first turkey on this Tuesday. The gobbler weighed 18 pounds, had an 11-inch beard and 1-1/4-inch spurs. Mallory’s father, who is a World Champion Turkey Caller, used a H.S. Strut mouth call to call the turkey for Mallory. Mallory had also recently won her first turkey calling contest.

March 31, 1999 - The sci-fi film “The Matrix,” with its influential mix of cyberpunk, anime, postmodernism, and metaphysics opened on this day.

March 31, 2003 - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the season opener between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

March 31, 2003 - U.S. military officials accused Geraldo Rivera of disclosing unauthorized military movements. Rivera had outlined military movements in the dirt while embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

March 31, 2003 - NBC fired Peter Arnett after he gave an unauthorized interview with state-run Iraqi TV. During the interview Arnett said that the American-led war effort had initially failed because of Iraqi resistance.

March 31, 2004 – In Fallujah, Iraq, four American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA were killed after being ambushed.

March 31, 2004 - NFL owners adopted a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebrations. The penalty was added to the fines previously in place for choreographed and multiplayer celebrations. Also, if the infraction was flagrant the player would be ejected. The previous day the owners had instituted a modified instant replay system for five years.

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 1,768 miles down and 11 miles to go

View from the foot of Mount Doom in downtown Mordor.

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging 15 more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged five miles on Saturday, five more on Wednesday and five more yesterday (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 1,768 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 11 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 99.4 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo Baggins’ overall journey to destroy the One Ring at Mount Doom in Mordor, I’m on the 29th day of the trip past Rauros Falls, which is March 24 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off my last update on March 22 at Mile 1753, which was two miles from where Frodo and Samwise Gamgee stopped to rest after leaving the road to begin traveling due south towards Mount Doom.


Two miles later, at Mile 1755, the reach the end of their travels at the end of the day, an event that’s known as “The Dreadful Nightfall.” Here, they only have half a bottle of water left. Frodo sleeps fitfully at their camp here, and Sam sleeps very little. It’s also hear that Sam can see the gleam from Gollum’s eyes as he creeps around the perimeter of the Hobbit camp.


Frodo and Sam’s travels begin on March 23 as they wake in the dim light of dawn and begin to discard everything that they don’t need to carry with them towards Mount Doom. Four miles later, at Mile 1759, they take another rest break and make no attempt to conceal themselves. At this point, Frodo is able to travel faster than Sam had hoped.


Three miles later, at Mile 1762, they rest again, and three miles past that point, at Mile 1765, they stop at the end of the day on March 23. Sam, who cannot sleep, sees that the day’s extra efforts have squandered Frodo’s last strength. As Sam argues with himself, he feels the ground tremble.


Their travels begin on March 24 as they continue on in the dark light. They have no water, and Sam’s mouth is too parched for him to even eat. I’ve traveled three more miles past this point, to Mile 1768, where Frodo and Sam take another rest break.


The next significant milestone comes two miles later, at Mile 1770, where they rest again. Five miles later, they will reach the foot of Mount Doom as the day’s travels come to a close.


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 the late 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 1,779 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 1,779 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 10 more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., March 31, 2018

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): Trace amount.

Week to Date Rainfall: 2.05 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  4.70 inches.

Spring to Date Rainfall: 2.05 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 12.40 inches.

Notes: Today is the 90th day of 2018 and the 12th day of Spring. There are 276 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, March 30, 2018

Today in History for March 30, 2018

March 30, 240 BC - Chinese astronomers first recorded the passage of Halley's Comet.

March 30, 1775 - Britain's King George III formally endorsed the New England Restraining Act, which required New England colonies to trade exclusively with Great Britain as of July 1.

March 30, 1817 – Richard Thomas Baggett, who was said to have been the first child born to white settlers in Conecuh County, Ala., was born on the Baggett family farm, NE 1/4 Section 4, Township 4 North, Range 10 East.

March 30, 1820 – Author Anna Sewell was born in Yarmouth, England. She wrote “Black Beauty” in 1877.

March 30, 1822 - Florida became a U.S. territory.

March 30, 1825 - Confederate General Samuel Maxey was born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. During the Civil War, Maxey served in the West and led Native Americans troops in Indian Territory.

March 30, 1853 – Painter Vincent Van Gogh was born in Zundert, Holland.

March 30, 1855 – About 5,000 "Border Ruffians" from western Missouri invaded the territory of Kansas and forced the election of a pro-slavery legislature. It was the first election in Kansas.

March 30, 1858 – Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia patented the first pencil to have an attached eraser.

March 30, 1861 – Jephtha Vining Perryman passed away at the age of 63. He served as a legislator, judge and education superintendent in Conecuh County, Ala. Born on Feb. 9, 1798, he is buried in the Old Evergreen Cemetery.

March 30, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought on Wilmington Island and Whitemarsh Island, Ga.; and in the vicinity of Clinton, Mo. The Federal occupation of Union City, Tenn. began.

March 30, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Cross Hollow, Ark.; in the Indian Territory at Tahlequah; in the vicinity of Somerset, Ky., at Dutton’s Hill; in Vernon County, Mo., at a place knows as “The Island”; at Washington, Deep Gully and Rodman’s Point, N.C.; at Zoar Church, Va.; and in the vicinity of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

March 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, a Federal reconnaissance began from Woodville, Ala. in Jackson County.

March 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Mount Elba, Ark.; at Snyder’s Bluff, Miss.; at Cherry Grove, N.C.; and at Greenton, Mo. A Federal reconnaissance operation inclusive of Columbus, Clinton and Moscow, Ky. began. A three-day Federal reconnaissance from Lookout Valley, Tenn. to McLemore’s Cove, Ga. also began. Other reconnaissance missions were conducted around Woodville and Athens, Ala.

March 30, 1865 - General James H. Wilson detached Gen. John T. Croxton's brigade to destroy all Confederate property at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wilson's forces captured a Confederate courier, found to be carrying dispatches from Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest describing the strengths and dispositions of his scattered forces. Wilson sent a brigade to destroy the bridge across the Cahaba River at Centreville, which cut off most of Forrest's reinforcements from reaching the area. He began a running fight with Forrest's forces that did not end until after the fall of Selma.

March 30, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Montevallo, Ala.

March 30, 1865 – During the Civil War, a four-day Federal operation starting from Baton Rouge and including Clinton and Comite River, La. began, and a skirmish was fought at Patterson’s Creek, West Virginia.

March 30, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in the vicinity of Five Forks and along the line of Hatcher’s Run and Gravelly Run, Va. Just as the final campaign was declared underway, heavy rains began around Petersburg, Va. Phil Sheridan was working to get the right flank offensive organized. Gen. Humphreys got his Second Corps into a dustup at Hatcher’s Run, near Five Forks. Warren’s Fifth Corps, on the other hand, got into a similar skirmish in an area known as Gravelly Run. The Union men were encountering less resistance as Lee pulled men back to reinforce the southwest side as a possible escape route.

March 30, 1867 – Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million, about two cents per acre, by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward.

March 30, 1870 - The 15th amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race, was passed by the U.S. Congress.

March 30, 1870 – Texas was readmitted to the Union following Reconstruction.

March 30, 1880 – Playwright Sean O’Casey was born in Dublin, Ireland.

March 30, 1887 - Mr. W.J. Dees of Repton visited The Monroe Journal on this Wednesday.

March 30, 1905 - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was chosen to mediate in the Russo-Japanese peace talks.

March 30, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that the law firm of Wiggins, Hybart & Bayles had been dissolved, and the firm of Bayles, Hybart & Burns had taken its place. Jno. M. Burns, the new member, was from Selma, Ala., where he had practiced law for eight years, including two years as Selma’s City Attorney.

March 30, 1911 – An unidentified man, about 24 years old, was killed by a freight train near the depot in Evergreen at about 9 p.m. He is supposed to have been stealing a ride and fell from the train. The wheels passed over his body, severing it in the middle. On his arm was tattooed the name John Hartley South Wales.

March 30, 1911 – The Conecuh Record reported that the City Grocery had installed a large, up-to-date refrigerator, the first of its kind in Evergreen, Ala. It held up to 500 pounds of ice and was used for perishable goods like butter, cheese and berries.

March 30, 1914 - Capt. R.F. Kolb delivered addresses at Jones Mill and Monroeville on this Monday afternoon and night on behalf of his candidacy for Alabama governor. Kolb spoke to “fair audiences at both points and expressed strong confidence in his prospect for being in the run-off primary. He paid his respects to all three of his competitors and declared himself ‘the people’s candidate’ without alliance with any other interest whatever,” The Journal reported.

March 30, 1915 – Shortly after noon, 31-year-old Lydia Belle “Liddie” Deason Peacock, who was pregnant, was “instantly killed” by a bolt of lightning at her home near Wilcox Station, Ala. She had been on the back porch and when returning to the kitchen, lightning struck the house, killing her. The bolt also shattered a column and pillar under the porch and killed a dog nearby in the yard. Born on April 28, 1883, she was buried in the Flat Rock Cemetery at Flat Rock.

March 30, 1915 – Around 10 p.m., the “worst rain and hail storm that (Conecuh) County has ever known” passed through the Johnstonville community. The storm lasted almost 10 minutes, and the hailstones were about the size of small eggs. Nearly all the leaves were stripped from the trees, gardens were practically ruined and all windows not protected by blinds were broken.

March 30, 1916 – The Conecuh Record report that 4,954 bales of cotton were ginned in Conecuh County, Ala. in 1915, which was 12,302 bales short of the 1914 crop.

March 30, 1916 – The Monroe Journal reported that Judge Thomas W. Davis of Thomasville, Ala., a candidate for circuit judge, was a visitor to Monroeville during the previous week.

March 30, 1918 - British, Australian and Canadian troops mounted a successful counter-attack against the German offensive at Moreuil Wood, recapturing most of the area and forcing a turn in the tide of the battle in favor of the Allies.

March 30, 1918 - The citizens of Camden on this Saturday evening planned to give the 120 “colored boys,” who were called to the army, a reception at the Wilcox County Courthouse. Speeches and music were to be features of the program which was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. After the patriotic exercises, refreshments were to be served. “The leaving of these boys to fight for their country in the critical hour of its history, calls for the deep appreciation of all at home,” according to The Wilcox Progressive Era. “Both colored and white will join in to make the program an appropriate appreciation of their event, and an inspiration to the soldier boys.” The “most striking” feature of the exercise was to be a parade at 4 p.m. on this Saturday afternoon in which the soldier boys were to march through the principal streets of Camden headed by possibly the Snow Hill Institute band and Millers Ferry band. Everyone who felt the sentiment of the hour was asked to contribute to the success of the entertainment. The following program was to be rendered at the evening exercises: PROGRAM: Song – “America,” Prayer by Rev. B.H. Grier; Speech by Prof. J.N. Cotton, Music; Speech by W.G. Wilson, Music; Speech by S.C. Godbold, Esq., Music; Speech by John Miller, Esq., Music; Speech by Rev. I.H. Bonner, Music; Closing by Prof. E.W. Berry; Closing Prayer, E.H. Rhone, Refreshments.

March 30, 1923 – The baseball team at the State Secondary Agricultural School was scheduled to play Brewton at 3:15 p.m. at Gantt’s Field in Evergreen, Ala.

March 30, 1928 – The Monroe Journal reported that Mr. W.L. Skinner of Edenburg, Texas was spending a few days with his brother, Mr. M.E. Skinner and among his numerous friends in Monroeville. Skinner reported that the little colony of Monroe County people who emigrated to the Rio Grande Valley were prosperous and happy.

March 30, 1928 – The Monroe Journal reported that another new dwelling was in the course of erection in the Slaughter Heights Addition. It was being built by Mr. John Fleming and was to be occupied by Mr. L.P. Dunnam and family.

March 30, 1928 – The Monroe Journal reported that the tabulation of the card reports showed there were 19,022 bales of cotton, counting round as half bales, ginned and to be ginned in Monroe County from the crop of 1927, as compared with 23,918 bales for the crop of 1926.

March 30, 1939 – “Detective Comics” No. 27 was released, introducing Batman.

March 30, 1944 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Aviation Cadet Harry L. Johnston, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin L. Johnston of Owassa, Ala., had completed approximately one-third of his pilot training and would soon report to an Air Corps Basic Flying School in Newport, Ark. for the intermediate phase of his flying training. Before entering the Air Corps, Johnston attended Evergreen High School; Alabama Polytechnic Institute in Auburn; and the 55th College Training Detachment in Gettysburg, Pa. Johnston was accepted as aviation cadet at Montgomery, Ala. in March 1943.

March 30, 1945 – During World War II, Staff Sgt. James E. Freeman, a 29-year-old graduate of Evergreen (Ala.) High School, was killed in action in Germany. Freeman, who’d been in the Army for about 10 years, was a paratrooper and had only been overseas for about a month when he was killed. He was a member of the 513th Parachute Division, 17th Airborne Division. Born on Jan. 26, 1916, he was buried in the Old Town Cemetery in Conecuh County, Ala.

March 30, 1946 – About 400 people attended Conecuh County, Alabama’s first fat calf show at the Conecuh Cooperative Stockyard in Evergreen. Dan Brown was Grand Champion, and Johnnie Nielson was the Reserve Grand Champion.

March 30, 1946 – “St. Louis Woman,” a musical version of Alabama author Arna Bontemps's book “God Sends Sunday,” opened on Broadway.

March 30, 1959 - Baseball practice at Monroe County High School got underway on this Monday afternoon when around 25 candidates reported for action. Lettermen included in the group were Jim Lazenby and Jimmy Andress, pitchers; Branchard Tucker, outfielder; Mickey Ryland, catcher; Charles Pridgeon, first base; Preston Griffin, infielder; Kenneth Gall, second base. MCHS, which was led by head coach James Allen, was scheduled to begin its season on April 10.

March 30, 1965 - A bomb exploded in a car parked in front of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, virtually destroying the building and killing 19 Vietnamese, two Americans, and one Filipino; 183 others were injured.

March 30, 1966 – Army Sgt. Elmer Jack Taylor, 26, of Atmore, Ala. was killed in action in the Quang Tri province of South Vietnam. Born on Feb. 11, 1940, he was an infantryman in the 1st Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, C Co. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal. He was buried in Mount Pleasant Methodist Church Cemetery at Eliska.

March 30, 1967 - The cover of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was staged and photographed.

March 30, 1967 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Wolfe Ambulance Service planned to begin offering ambulance service to all of Conecuh County on Sat., April 1. Cope Funeral Home planned to end offering this service on Fri., March 31. Frank Wolfe of Monroeville, owner of the new service, was already operating an ambulance service in Monroe County at that time.

March 30, 1967 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Warrant Officer One R.B. Griffin had started a 12-month tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was the son of Mrs. Bertha Griffin of Rt. 1, Evergreen.

March 30, 1967 – In this day’s edition of The Evergreen Courant, service station operators were warned by Evergreen Police Chief John Andrews not to sell gasoline or other combustible fluids in glass containers. He pointed out that to do so was a violation of a city ordinance. Andrews said that each year about this time when lawn-mowing resumed there were violations of the ordinance reported. He said that it was very dangerous for gasoline to be carried in glass containers and enforcement of the law was necessary for public safety.

March 30, 1967 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Marine Private First Class James C. Salter Jr., grandson of Mrs. Emmie Tatum of Rt. 1, Evergreen, was in Da Nang, Vietnam serving as a member of ‘A’ Battery, First Battalion, 13th Marine Regiment.

March 30, 1971 – An organizational meeting for a proposed Civitan Club in Evergreen, Ala. was held at 6:30 a.m. at Jimmie’s Restaurant. The Andalusia Civitan Club was sponsoring the proposed club in Evergreen.

March 30, 1972 – A major coordinated communist offensive opened with the heaviest military action since the sieges of Allied bases at Con Thien and Khe Sanh in 1968.
March 30, 1976 – Actress Jessica Cauffiel was born in Detroit, Mich.

March 30, 1978 – The Monroe Journal reported, under the headline “Cornerstone set,” that Eastwood Baptist Church, in a brief ceremony the week before, set the cornerstone marker in its new building under construction on Drewry Road. Sealed behind the marker was some historical data, including a list of charter church members, first officers and newspaper clippings. Construction was expected to be completed in May or June, said the Rev. Ralph Gwin, acting pastor.

March 30, 1978 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Albert Daryl Harper of Evergreen had been named to the Dean’s List at Emmanuel College, Franklin Springs, Ga., for the winter quarter.

March 30, 1981 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John Hinckley Jr.

March 30, 1984 – County music’s Hank Locklin was scheduled to perform at the Eighth Annual Sparta Academy Talent Show and Contest in Evergreen, Ala.

March 30, 1988 - The movie “Beetlejuice,” story by and screenplay cowritten by Alabama author Robert McDowell, was released.

March 30, 1989 – The Gee’s Bend Farms Community School in Gee’s Bend in Wilcox County, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

March 30, 1989 – The Rawls House in Enterprise, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

March 30, 1993 - In the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown hit his first home run.

March 30, 2004 - NFL owners approved a modified version of the instant replay system for five years. They added a third coaches' challenge if the first two were successful.

March 30, 2008 - U.S. President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the Washington National's new stadium, Nationals Park.

March 30, 2010 – German SS officer Martin Sandberger died at the age of 98 in Stuttgart, Germany.

March 30, 2013 – Former University of Alabama quarterback, assistant coach and athletics director Mal Moore, a native of Dozier, Ala., died at the age of 73 in Durham, N.C.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., March 30, 2018

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 2.05 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 2.05 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  4.70 inches.

Spring to Date Rainfall: 2.05 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 12.40 inches.

Notes: Today is the 89th day of 2018 and the 11th day of Spring. There are 277 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, March 29, 2018

Conecuh County's William E. Molett made 91 flights over the North Pole

William E. Molett

This past Monday marked the anniversary of the passing of one of the most interesting men to ever come out of Conecuh County – William E. Molett, who passed away at the age of 86 on March 26, 2005.

Molett has faded from the memories of most living Conecuh County residents today, but a few remain who remember him from his younger days in the Evergreen area. Molett (some say this family name was pronounced “mallet,” like a hammer) was born in Orrville in Dallas County on Jan. 26, 1919. His family later moved to Conecuh County while he was still a young man.

Molett entered local schools, where his early education obviously went a long way toward preparing him for a career full of accomplishments. On May 3, 1936, Molett graduated from the State Secondary Agricultural School in Evergreen. From there, he went on to join the U.S. military and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, the Air War College and the Air Force’s Staff and Command School.

Molett went on to become a master navigator, recording over 6,000 hours as an aircraft navigator, including 91 flights over the North Pole. He also taught polar navigation for three years and retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

After his retirement, Molett wrote and published a book in 1996 called “Robert Peary and Matthew Henson at the North Pole.”

The premise of the book centers on the dispute over which group of explorers reached the North Pole first during expeditions in 1908 and 1909. I was surprised to learn that there is more than a little controversy over who accomplished this feat first. One camp believes that Dr. Frederick A. Cook reached the North Pole first while another camp believes that U.S. Navy Admiral Robert E. Peary got there first. The dispute arises because of questions regarding how each man navigated his way to the pole and the calculations they used to prove they were at the pole.

While the subject may sound a touch dry, Molett does a good job of explaining why he believes that Peary and Matthew Henson’s expedition reached the pole first. Molett, bringing his years as an aviator and navigator to bear on the subject, explains how Peary’s painstaking calculations – using a variety of simple handheld tools – made his way to the North Pole and proved it.

The book was also especially interesting because it gave a good overview of the many failed and successful trips to the North Pole. Many of the men who tried (and died) on their way to the North Pole did so for personal fame and national pride, and tales of their adventures make for great reading.

In the end, Molett passed away in March 2005 and is buried in the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn. I think there is little doubt that Molett is one of the most interesting men to ever come out of Conecuh County, and he’s likely the only person from the county to have ever flown over the North Pole. If the Conecuh County Cultural Center ever gets off the ground, I think it would be fitting for Molett to be remembered with a display of some kind within that local museum.

MLB's 'Opening Day' should be declared a national holiday

Blue Wahoos Stadium in Pensacola, Fla.

Today (Thursday) should be a national holiday.

Today marks the official start of the Major League Baseball season from coast to coast and for the first time in recent memory all 30 teams will start their seasons on the same day. Usually the season begins with a couple of games on the first day with the rest of the teams starting the following day.

The Atlanta Braves are scheduled to open their season with a six-game homestand that will begin today at 3:10 p.m. when they take on their National League East rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. They’ll face the Phillies tomorrow and will wrap up the three-game set on Saturday.

The Braves will have the day off on Sunday, but will face another divisional opponent, the Washington Nationals, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. They’ll have the following Thursday off as they set off on a three-city, 10-day road trip in which they’ll play the Rockies, the Nationals and the Cubs.

Nothing really beats watching the Braves play in person, but I also like watching them on TV and listening to broadcasts of their games on the radio, especially if I’m driving somewhere while the game’s on. Currently, there are seven FM stations in Alabama that broadcast Braves games and the closest one to Evergreen is WKNU 106.3 in Brewton. Folks in the western part of the county, in the Repton area, might be able to catch the game on WJDB 95.5 out of Thomasville.

If you don’t want to drive all the way to Atlanta to watch the Braves, we’ve got a pretty decent brand of professional baseball a lot closer to home. Montgomery, Mobile and Pensacola all have Double-A minor league teams that compete in the Southern League.

All three of these teams will open their seasons on Thurs., April 5. The Montgomery Biscuits, an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, will open their season that evening against the Biloxi Shuckers, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Mobile BayBears, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, will host the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, that same evening. Both games are set to start at 6:35 p.m.

I’ve been to these types of games in Montgomery and Mobile, and they’re a lot of fun. The Biscuits play at Riverwalk Stadium in downtown Montgomery, and the BayBears play at Hank Aaron Stadium, just off of I-65 in Mobile. Both of those stadiums are great places to watch a game, and I’m always jumping to go to either one when the chance presents itself.

However, I’ve never been to watch the Pensacola team play in their stadium, Blue Wahoos Stadium, which is relatively new. Situated on West Main Street on Pensacola Bay, this stadium opened in 2012 and is also the home stadium for the University of West Florida’s football team. The Wahoos open their 2018 season on the road, and they’re not scheduled to play a home game until April 11.

In the end, when it comes to red letter days on the annual sports calendar, it’s hard to beat Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. If you like watching baseball being played at its highest level by some of the best athletes on the planet, you’ve got a lot to look forward to this year as the long season gets its start today.

Today in History for March 29, 2018

Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace

March 29, 1638 – Swedish colonists established the first European settlement in Delaware, naming it New Sweden.

March 29, 1776 - General George Washington appointed Major General Israel Putnam commander of the troops in New York.

March 29, 1780 – Danish adventurer Jørgen Jørgensen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.

March 29, 1790 - John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, was born in Charles City County, Va.

March 29, 1806 – Construction was authorized of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, becoming the first United States federal highway.

March 29, 1847 – During the Mexican–American War, United States forces led by General Winfield Scott took Veracruz after a siege.

March 29, 1848 - Niagara Falls stopped flowing for one day due to an ice jam.

March 29, 1861 – During the Civil War, Fort Mason, Texas was abandoned by Federal forces.

March 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Warrensburg, Mo. and on Edisto Island, S.C.

March 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, Middleburg, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley, was the scene of a conflict between Union and Confederate cavalry and infantry. In a somewhat unusual outcome, it was a complete Union victory. The reason for this was the employment of a new and horrible weapon of war: the coffee grinder. This was the nickname of a new device, given because of the large handle which had to be turned to fire it. Much work was needed before it became reliable enough to use on a regular basis, by which time it was known as the machine gun.

March 29, 1863 – During the Civil War, an eight-day Federal operation inclusive of Fayetteville, Cassville and Springfield, Mo. began. Skirmishes were also fought near Jacksonville, Fla.; at Moscow, Tenn.; and at Dumfries, Kelly’s Ford and Williamsburg, Va.

March 29, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Arkadelphia, Bellfonte, Long View, Roseville and in the vicinity of Fort Smith, Ark.; at Monett’s Ferry and at Coulterville, La.; and in the vicinity of Bolivar, Tenn.

March 29, 1865 – 59TH ALABAMA: The 59th Alabama fought in the Battle of Lewis Farm (or Quaker Road). Joshua Chamberlain involved in battle and wounded. The 59th charged Yankee guns and put skirmishers in the woods all along the Boydton Plank Road to offset the Yankee fire. That night, the Alabama troops would sleep where they fought. George A. Custer was also there. (Account of battle begins on Page 93.)

March 29, 1865 - The final campaign of the Civil War, now known as the Appomattox Campaign, began in Virginia when Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant moved against the Confederate trenches around Petersburg, Va. General Robert E. Lee’s outnumbered Rebels were soon forced to evacuate the city and begin a desperate race west.

March 29, 1865 – During the Civil War, Major General Frederick Steele’s column reached Weatherford, Ala.

March 29, 1865 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought along the Blackwater River in Kentucky; near Mosely Hall and at Wilkesborough, N.C.; and at Gravelly Run, at the junction of the Quaker and Boydton Roads, and near Hatcher’s Run. Va. A five-day Federal operation inclusive of Waynesville, Rolla, Jackson’s Mills, Coppage’s Mill, Spring Creek and Big Piney, Mo. began. A Federal operation between Stephen’s Depot, Va. and Smithfield, S.C. also began.

March 29, 1867 – National Hall of Fame baseball pitcher and manager Cy Young was born in Gilmore, Ohio. During his career, he played for the Cleveland Spiders, the St. Louis Perfectos, the Boston Americans/Red Sox, the Cleveland Naps and the Boston Rustlers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

March 29, 1869 – Thirty-two attorney’s organized the Mobile Bar Association, which was Alabama first bar association and is one of the oldest in the entire nation.

March 29, 1882 - The Knights of Columbus organization was established when it was granted a charter by the State of Connecticut.

March 29, 1886 – Dr. John Pemberton brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta.

March 29, 1886 - J.A. Savage and I.D. Roberts of Perdue Hill were in Monroeville on this Monday.

March 29, 1886 - J.B. McMillan of Repton was in Monroeville on this Monday.

March 29, 1903 - A regular news service began between New York and London on Marconi's wireless.

March 29, 1906 – The Monroe Journal reported that J.B. Barnett and family were occupying the dwelling recently vacated by Dr. R.A. Smith.

March 29, 1906 – The Monroe Journal reported that Bush English of Eliska, Ala. was now employed in the office of the Monroe County Probate Judge.

March 29, 1911 – The M1911 .45 ACP pistol became the official U.S. Army side arm.

March 29, 1912 – Three members of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold on the Ross Ice Shelf. They included English lieutenant and explorer Robert Falcon Scott, 43; Scottish lieutenant and explorer Henry Robertson “Birdie” Bowers, 28; and English physician, natural historian, painter, ornithologist and explorer Edward Adrian “Uncle Bill” Wilson, 39.

March 29, 1913 – Poet R.S. Thomas was born in Cardiff, Wales.

March 29, 1916 – Politician and author Eugene McCarthy was born in Watkins, Minnesota.

March 29, 1916 - The body of Frank M. Wiggins was found in the woods near Salem in Monroe County, Ala. on this Wednesday morning. Wiggins went out hunting on the afternoon before (Tues., March 28), and failing to return to his home, a search was instituted with the result stated. He had evidently died several hours before from natural causes.

March 29, 1917 - Prime Minister Hjalmar Hammarskjold of Sweden, father of the famous future United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, resigned after his policy of strict neutrality in World War I — including continued trading with Germany, in violation of the Allied blockade—led to widespread hunger and political instability in Sweden.

March 29, 1936 – Novelist and screenwriter Judith Guest was born in Detroit, Mich.

March 29, 1936 – In Germany, Adolf Hitler received 99 percent of the votes in a referendum to ratify Germany's illegal reoccupation of the Rhineland, receiving 44.5 million votes out of 45.5 million registered voters.

March 29, 1938 - Senator D. Hardy Riddle of Talladega, candidate for Alabama governor, was scheduled to address voters at the Conecuh County Courthouse on this Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

March 29, 1941 – The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement went into effect at 03:00 local time.

March 29, 1943 – Comedian, author, actor, singer, comedy writer, composer and alumnus of the Monty Python troupe Eric Idle was born in South Shields, England.

March 29, 1944 – Anne Frank made the decision to rewrite her diary as an autobiography.

March 29, 1955 – Pro Football Hall of Fame running back and Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell was born in Tyler, Texas. He would go on to play for the University of Texas, the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

March 29, 1961 – The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.

March 29, 1961 – Actress, author and comedian Amy Sedaris was born in Endicott, N.Y.

March 29, 1968 – Evergreen High School, under Coach Wendell Hart, was scheduled to play in a spring football jamboree against T.R. Miller and Greenville in Brewton on this Friday night. Evergreen’s defensive starters were linemen Ernest Shipp, Roger Waller, Eddie Ralls, Jimmy Hamiter and Forrest Simpson; linebackers Tommy Weaver, Buck Quarles and Jimmy Bell; and defensive backs Hollis Tranum, Jimmy Hart and Leon Hinson. Offensive starters were wingback Tommy Weaver, right end Ernest Shipp, right tackle Jimmy Hamiter, right guard Roger Waller, fullback Elliott (Buck) Quarles, quarterback Jimmy Hart, center Ralph Deason, left guard Eddie Ralls, tailback Don Montgomery, left tackle Forrest Simpson and left end Charlie Wild.

March 29, 1968 - Coach Wendell Hart’s Evergreen Aggies left their supporters with high hopes for a successful 1968 season after winning and losing in the jamboree at T.R. Miller High School Stadium on this Friday night. The Aggies lost in the first quarter to Miller, 7-0, but it could have gone either way. The Evergreens scored a touchdown themselves on a beautiful punt return by Hollis Tranum behind superb blocking, but the men in the striped shirts called it back on a clipping charge. The Aggies charged back in the third frame and completely outclassed Greenville in racking up a 7-0 win. Leon (Hoss) Hinson got the score on a toss from Jimmy Hart, but the stars of the evening were those hard charging Aggie linemen led by Roger (Big Red) Waller, Eddie Ralls, Jimmie Hamiter, Ernest Shipp, Forrest Simpson and Elliott (Buck) Quarles.

March 29, 1968 – Lyeffion High School was scheduled to host a spring football jamboree that included Repton, Red Level and Coffeeville on this Friday at 7 p.m. Each school was to play two 12-minute quarters. The schools were to draw to see who they would play on the field just prior to the game. Admission was 50 cents and $1.

March 29, 1969 – The annual Miss Evergreen Pageant was held at the Evergreen City School auditorium. A total of 45 young ladies were slated to compete for the title, which Patricia Montgomery won in 1968.

March 29, 1971 – Lt. William L. Calley was found guilty of premeditated murder at My Lai by a U.S. Army court-martial at Fort Benning, Georgia.

March 29, 1973 – Under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords signed on Jan. 27, 1973, the last U.S. troops departed South Vietnam, ending nearly 10 years of U.S. military presence in that country.

March 29, 1973 - As part of the Paris Peace Accords, Hanoi released the last 67 of its acknowledged American prisoners of war, bringing the total number released to 591.

March 29, 1973 – Operation Barrel Roll, a covert U.S. bombing campaign in Laos to stop communist infiltration of South Vietnam, ended.

March 29, 1973 - Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show appeared on the cover of "Rolling Stone." The members of the band included Ray “Eye Patch” Sawyer, a native of Chickasaw, Ala.

March 29, 1974 – Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace brought his re-election campaign to Monroeville, Ala. on this Friday, telling an enthusiastic crowd in front of the Monroe County Courthouse that the state had made huge strides internally and had brought the nation around to its way of thinking in the past 10 years. Wallace spoke for about 30 minutes in his shirt sleeves at a sunny 2 p.m. rally attended by a crowd estimated by various observers at 500 to 1,200.

March 29, 1974 – Local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, discovered the Terracotta Army that was buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in the third century BCE.

March 29, 1976 – Tennis player Jennifer Capriati was born in New York City.

March 29, 1977 – The First Presbyterian Church and the Lomax-Hannon Junior College, both in Greenville, Ala., were added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

March 29, 1979 - The Committee on Assassinations Report issued by U.S. House of Representatives stated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy.

March 29, 1983 - Sparta Academy’s baseball team defeated Fort Deposit Academy, 7-6, in a game played at the Murphy Club. Winning pitcher was Russ Raines. Leading the Warriors were Al Etheridge with three hits (two doubles); Joe McInvale, two hits (double and triple); and Joey Johnson, two hits (double and single).”

March 29, 1984 – The Baltimore Colts loaded its possessions onto 15 Mayflower moving trucks in the early morning hours and transferred its operations to Indianapolis.

March 29, 1985 – Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry, a native of Red Level, Ala., passed away from heart failure at the age of 73 in Philadelphia, Pa. He was appointed the ninth Surgeon General of the United States from 1961 to 1965, and is best known for his warnings against the dangers and the impact of tobacco use on health. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

March 29, 1987 – Shortly after 2:40 p.m., Frank Dewberry and his wife, Dorothy, found the badly decomposed nude body of Vickie Lynn Pittman of East Brewton off County Road 43 at Brooklyn, Ala.

March 29, 1990 - David Taylor of Conecuh County, Ala. killed gobbler that weighed 18 pounds and had a nine-inch beard and one-inch spurs.

March 29, 1991 - Pvt. Jason L. Pate, son of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Pate of Evergreen, returned to the United States from active duty in Saudi Arabia on this da. On Mon., April 8, Jason and his father removed the yellow ribbon from the fence in downtown Evergreen that Jason’s parents had placed there until his safe return.

March 29, 1995 – Former Major League Baseball outfielder Terry Moore, a native of Lamar County, Ala., passed away at the age of 82 in Collinsville, Ill. He played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a four-time All Star and was part of two World Series championship teams.

March 29, 1998 - Author Eugene Walter died in Mobile, Ala.

March 29, 2001 – The Evergreen Courant reported that repairs were underway to buildings damaged in Evergreen, Ala. during a recent storm.

March 29, 2001 – Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad passed away at the age of 101 at Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Oslo.

March 29, 2010 – Jordan Van der Sloot allegedly contacted John Q. Kelly, legal representative of Beth Twitty, with an offer to reveal the location of Holloway's body and the circumstances surrounding her death for an advance of $25,000 against a total of $250,000. After Kelly notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they arranged to proceed with the transaction.

March 29, 2012 – Oak Lawn Farm in Greenville, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., March 29, 2018

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  2.65 inches.

Spring to Date Rainfall: Trace amount.

Year to Date Rainfall: 10.35 inches.

Notes: Today is the 88th day of 2018 and the tenth day of Spring. There are 278 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.