|Historical marker today in Midway, Alabama.|
I was looking through some old newspapers the other day when I ran across an interesting historical article that was published on the front page of The Evergreen Courant on Aug. 31, 1939.
The story’s headline, “Town of Midway Once Was Famous Crossing Of Trails,” was what caught my eye and this short, six-paragraph article contained information that I’d never heard before or seen anywhere else. It also seemed to raise as many questions as it answered. Before I go any further, here’s what the article had to say.
----- 0 -----
BEATRICE, Ala., Aug. 29 – Ten miles east of here is the historic country village of Midway, of which very little is said.
Back in the days of stagecoaches, Midway was a noted place in the fork of the Wolf Path, an Indian trail between North Alabama, Georgia and Pensacola, Fla, and the famous old Federal Road from the Indian agency at Macon, Ga. to Mobile. A famous stagecoach hostelry with “abundant provender for man and beast” was located in the fork of the two roads.
Many distinguished travelers took their meals at the old stage coach inn at Midway. European travelers frequently mentioned the inn in their journals. The noted Capt. Simon Suggs, largely a mythical character of Dadeville, Ala., is credited with playing his most famous practical joke on the Midway innkeeper.
High Head Jim and Peter McQueen came down the Wolf Path on their way to Pensacola. A few miles south, at Burnt Corn, they pilfered and burned Jim Cornell’s trading post. Gen. Sam Dale and Col. Caller waylaid the Indians on their way back to north Alabama, and fought a losing battle with them. The battle was fought at noon, and Fort Mims was the Indian’s reply to Burnt Corn. The Fort Mims attack was made at noon.
Major Gen. John Coffee halted here on his way to New Orleans over the Federal Road. Coffee’s 900 cavalrymen were all mounted on blooded Habletonian bays with white stocking feet.
Eleven miles east of Midway, a few hundred yards from Fort Bibb, is the birthplace of Thomas Hill Watts, last wartime governor of Alabama. Watts served as colonel of the 7th Alabama at Shiloh, was attorney general of the Confederate States and governor of Alabama from 1863 to 1865. His picture hangs in Alabama’s Hall of Fame at Montgomery.
----- 0 -----
Those of you familiar with Conecuh County geography will know that the community of Midway sits way up in the northwest corner of the county, where Conecuh County and Monroe County border one another, and not far from the Butler County line. I’ve been through Midway many, many times over the years, and I’ve always felt a connection with Midway since many of my old Stacey ancestors were from this neck of the woods. With that in mind, a close reading of the newspaper article above brought many questions to mind.
First, why did the article carry a Beatrice dateline? Beatrice is a small town in northern Monroe County, and the likely explanation is that the unnamed author of the article was from that town. It’s also possible that the article was reprinted from an earlier edition of The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville.
The article also makes mention of the Wolf Path, and I’ve always found information about these old Indian paths to be interesting. There isn’t much information about these old paths readily available, and I’d love to hear from anyone in the audience with more information about the Wolf Path and others that crisscrossed this part of the country centuries ago. If anyone knows of any good books on the subject, let me know.
Last, but not least, the brief mention of Capt. Simon Suggs and his “most famous practical joke” caught my eye. I honestly can’t say that I’d ever heard of this “mythical character” from Alabama history, and the writer of the article left us hanging when it comes to details about what must have been an epic practical joke. Again, if anyone out there in the reading audience has any more information about Suggs and his practical joke, please let me hear from you, and I’ll be sure you pass the information along to our readers.