Saturday, July 14, 2018

George Singleton tells of girl crippled by being blow into tree by tornado

Old Scotland Church.

(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 “Filing a busy day in the life of a vagabond” was originally published in the June 27, 1996 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

A few days back the urge to wander began to come over me as though a slight chill of some sort had entered my body. After giving it a little thought, I rolled out my trusted trail bike and headed for the nearest crossroads. Many times I never really know where I’m going until I come to the first intersection in the highway.

I was up near the community of Tunnel Springs when suddenly I turned to the west and proceeded back to the road which would take me into the Old Scotland area. As I made my way down the narrow road, I was amazed at the many blooming mimosa trees that dotted the countryside. Their raw primitive beauty was something to behold as they spread their branches like large colorful umbrellas near the old forgotten house places. As I rode along the narrow dirt road and marveled at the beauty of the mimosas, I was reaffirmed that the Master’s hand was in all things of beauty that dotted the landscape around me.

Stopping in front of Old Scotland Church, I looked out over the cemetery and noticed that as always, there were fresh flowers on many of the graves. I never grow tired of visiting the beautiful old church and the well kept grounds. As I have stated many times before in my writings, somewhere in my mind I almost expect to see a couple of Scottish bagpipers step out of the tall timber playing “Amazing Grace,” the most beautiful hymn that man has ever written. As always, my ancestral Scottish blood seems to rush forth and I enter into another time.

After absorbing the total peace and beauty of the old church for about an hour, I knew that I must go on to other places. Stopping at the old Davison Cemetery for a few moments, I then proceeded on down the road. A quick stop at a couple of old home sites brought back to mind the day when I brought to one of these old homesteads and elderly lady who had been born and raised here as a child. I remembered her telling me that it had been 65 years since she had visited this place of her birth and childhood home. I remembered her weeping and saying that this would probably be her last visit here. I assured her that I would bring her here anytime she wanted to come; all she had to do was to let me know that she wanted to come visit. I remembered her picking some blooming jonquils that grew near the old yard. Weeping openly, she said she remembered planting these jonquils as a child.

Turning down the steep hill and down the narrow road that would eventually lead to the creek, it seemed as if I was going through a narrow dark tunnel. The heavy overhead branches of the timber covered the narrow dirt road completely. Slowly making my way across the bottom, I stopped at the old wooden bridge that spanned the large creek. Stopping again, I turned off the engine of my trail bike and stood looking down at the flowing waters of the creek. As I had many times before, I remembered the story of the wandering Confederate soldier, who, wounded and sick, had camped for a considerable time here under the wooden structure. I remembered my dear friend, Mr. Raymond Fountain, telling me about the ghost of this Rebel soldier being seen walking across the old bridge during the early morning and the late evening hours. I remembered the story of how one could stand on the old bridge during the hours of the late evening and smelling the odor of food cooking. As I made ready to depart this place of mystery. I vowed to return here again, as I had done several times before during the late hours of the evening and try to witness for myself the stories I had been told by my dear friend. As I rode to the west, the story of the Rebel’s strange disappearance raced through my memory.

Crossing the low bottom lands and another wooden bridge, which spanned yet another large creek, I soon found myself climbing up into the hill country. As I approached the crest of beautiful Locke Hill, I knew I had to stop and spend a few moments and absorb the vast beauty that lay in the bottoms before me. Here, I was reaffirmed once again; only God was capable of creating such beautiful handwork with such vast magnitude of color.

As I traveled the narrow dirt road toward the old Red Hills Cemetery, I thought of the many dollars that had been spent on the traveling to distant places in search of nature’s beauty. Since leaving Highway 21 at Tunnel Springs, I had witnessed nature in her grandest colors, except perhaps during the fall months, and it had cost me almost nothing.

As I stopped in front of the old Red Hills Cemetery, the memory of another dear friend came to mind. I remember how I used to come here with my friend Oscar Wiggins, and wander for hours through the old cemetery. I knew by heart the names of his distant ancestors who rested in some of the graves nearby. I had been shown many times the final resting places of several Confederate soldiers who had departed this world and now slept in the red clay of the old cemetery. Never did we visit here that my friend always went first to the grave of his grandfather, who had worn the Rebel uniform. And, always I would hear the story of his return from the dreadful war, a wounded and sick man. After his return from the war, he spent the remaining years of his life digging a living out of the red clay soil of the Red Hills area.

As I proceeded across the high hills toward Highway 41 and the Franklin community, I knew I had to make up my mind real soon as to the direction I would take. Looking at my watch, I knew that the noon hour was fast approaching. Turning northward, I twisted and turned on the winding and scenic highway until I soon found myself approaching the town of Camden. A quick stop at a fast food place satisfied my hunger and soon I was on my way again.

Not knowing for certain as to where I was going, I found myself in the community of Possum Bend. It didn’t take but a minute to view the sights here, so I proceeded on toward the river and the paper mill on the highway that would carry one to the town of Pine Hill. Just past the paper mill, I turned to my left and soon I was at the intersection of the road that would carry me to either the community of Sunny South or turn left and travel toward Lower Peach Tree. Turning left, once again the memories began to flow as I swept past old familiar landmarks that brought back many hours of research and adventure.

I knew if I wanted to cross the Alabama River on the ferry, I had to be there before the four o’clock deadline. Stopping in Lower Peach Tree, I fueled up my trail bike and drank a quick cold drink. I had heard many stories about this community and how a terrible tornado many years past had almost wiped out the surrounding area. I remembered a lady who lived near where I grew up had been blown up into a tree during this terrible storm when she was a small child. The rest of her life she was a cripple; almost unable to walk or to do anything.

The river crossing was very pleasant as I talked to the operator, whom I knew. Warning me to stay out of trouble, I said goodbye to my friend and climbed the east bank and began the upward climb to the top of Nancy Mountain. Looking at my watch again, I knew I had no time to waste if I was to get home before my darling wife came home from work. With just minutes to spare, I stabled my iron hors and began the “honey do” work that she had instructed me to do. That vagabond blood is going to get me into trouble yet.

(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 to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, 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. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. 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.)

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