Sunday, May 24, 2020

Eli McMorn and the Strange Case of Kill Devil Hill – Part Three

The star Celaeno in constellation of Taurus.

From our vantage point atop Kill Devil Hill, I watched a featureless black buzzard off in the distance. It spiraled high in the sky on an invisible column of wind. “Do you really think there’s gold and Indians buried around here?” I asked my grandfather.

He pondered this question for a few seconds, picking the right way to answer a 12-year-old boy. “Nah, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you found some old bones and spear points,” he said. “I’ve heard tell that the Indians would bring their dead up here and burn them on wooden pyres, them that worshiped what we call Celaeno.”

This was the first time that I had heard the word “Celaeno.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s a star in Taurus,” he said. “It’s easy to see if you know where to look. The Indians no doubt called it something else because our name for it is from Greek mythology.”

My thoughts turned to the names of the planets. “You mean like Mars and Mercury?”

My grandfather took a long drag from his cigarette. “Those are Roman,” he said. “Celaeno was Greek. It literally means something like ‘the dark one.’ Who knows why they chose to worship it?”

An eerie breeze blew across the top of the hill. Gooseflesh broke out on my arms.

“Long before you were born, my own Pa told me that in the spring of ’06 – before I was even born – a man and a mule were killed, and three women were hurt bad in a lightning strike up here,” he said.

“What were they doing with a mule way up here?”

“Not using their heads, that’s what,” he said. “The story was that they’d got the idea that this would be a good place to cut out a slab of stone for a grave marker. Back then, not everyone got a headstone. It was for a dead baby and the mother – one of the three women – wanted a headstone. They were going to lash the block of stone to their beast to move it to the graveyard.”

I tried to imagine someone leading a stubborn mule up the side of the mysterious hill.

“Sure enough, they got up here and began to chisel away,” my grandfather continued. “There is nothing neat or simple about that type of job. They worked up a sweat and didn’t pay any attention to a big thundercloud that blew up on them out of the southwest.”

My grandfather pointed to a dust-dry stump near the center of the hilltop, muted sunlight glinted off the fraternal ring on his right hand. “There used to be a big ash tree up here back then,” he said. “That’s all that’s left. When it started to rain, they sought shelter beneath its branches. Lightning struck, killed the man and mule and the tree too, I guess. All the women got knocked out. When they woke up, their clothes were just black shreds.”

“Pa said every bone in that man’s body was broke,” he said. “When folks went to collect his corpse, he was all loose inside, like a bag full of blood jelly. Same with the mule. The smell must have been inhuman.”

I looked to the west, over the Alabama River and into the eldritch, black woods of Clarke County. There was a dark cloud way off in the distance, sliding north across the sky towards Claiborne. “We should camp out up here some night,” I said in a weak attempt to lighten the mood. “Bring our sleeping bags and a tent. Build a camp fire.”

My grandfather turned and looked me dead in the eye. I had never seen him so serious, so grim. “Boy, you need to put that idea out of your head right now,” he said. “This cursed place is bad. As many folks who have died up here, you’d be asking for big time trouble.”

With that said, he threw down his cigarette and mashed it out with the heel of one of his leather brogans. “Come on, boy,” he said. “It’s time to go home.”

(All rights reserved. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.)

Old newspaper excerpts from The Monroe Journal newspaper of Monroe County, Alabama

Monroe County's Cunningham Cemetery.

25 YEARS AGO
MAY 25, 1995

The 55th annual Beulah Camp meeting will be held June 8-18 at the camp located 1-1/4 miles south of U.S. Highway 84 on Monroe County Road 37 between Repton and Excel.
Guest evangelists will be Dr. Harold Spann from Jackson, Miss. and J. Carl Coulliette from Wilmore, Ky. Doug Lepter will be the Bible teacher and music will be led by song evangelists Tom and Louis Kildow.

Fourth-quarter drive propels Excel to win: In a fashion typical to any Excel-Flomaton matchup, Excel High School staged a late touchdown drive Thursday to defeat Flomaton High School, 27-20, during a spring football scrimmage in Excel.
(Quarterback Steven) Pharr paced the Excel offense, rushing and passing for a total of 127 yards. (Jimbo) Bishop collected seven tackles to lead Excel’s defense.
(Other top Excel players in that game included Kelvin Betts, Cedric Brown, Lee Fore, Kelvin Martin, Derek Millender, Shane Moore and Travis Smith. Al Bowen was Excel’s head coach.)

Cunningham cemetery dedication: Members of the 2nd and 7th Alabama cavalries fire a salute at the April 30 dedication of Cunningham Cemetery off the Ridge Road near Peterman. The cemetery, where many Confederate soldiers are buried, was recently restored by Monroe County preservationist Dawn Crook. A Confederate marker was placed in the cemetery. A brief history of the cemetery was presented by Joe Holley and the dedication was led by Carter English. Dennis Owens provided the invocation and benediction. Robert Champion and Robert English of Monroeville were among the Confederate reenactors who assisted in the presentation.

75 YEARS AGO
MAY 24, 1945

Lt. Charles R. Skinner, who was confined in a German prison since last August, has been liberated and is now in France. A letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M.E. Skinner, received last week, brought the good news that he is getting along fine and he hopes to be home soon.

Sgt. Robinson Harper, who was captured by the Germans last December, has been freed and is all right in every way. A letter written on May 7 was received by his mother, Mrs. G.H. Harper, this week.

Peterman Soldiers Knocks Off Japs: With the American Infantry Division in the Philippine Islands – a 50-calibre machine gun crew with which Pfc. Thomas Dean of Peterman is fighting has been credited by its company commander with being instrumental in the capture of an important hill feature during bitter fighting in the Philippines.
Dean and his crew were serving as a base of fire to cover the advance of infantrymen moving up a steep slope against strongly entrenched Japanese troops. Firing constantly as the riflemen pushed forward, Dean’s gun knocked out several pillboxes and killed an undetermined number of Japs. The volume of fire which his crew laid down cleared the way for the seizure of the hill.
The Peterman solider is the son of Mrs. S.W. Dean. Overseas 26 months with this battle-hardened division, he is a veteran of the Guadalcanal and Bougainville campaigns. A brother, Pfc. James Dean, is serving with the field artillery in Europe.

100 YEARS AGO
MAY 27, 1920

Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Lee and children visited relatives at Graceville, Fla. last week.

Mr. J.D. Rawls, who suffered fractured ribs and other painful bruises when his mule became frightened and ran away, has so far recovered from his injuries as to make his appearance on the streets again.

Mr. J. Conrad Scott, the piano tuner of Pensacola, Fla., will return to Monroeville and vicinity, taking care of all contract work during the month of August of this year. All parties wishing to have work done, who have signed no contract, will please notify him by mail as he will not have time to call only as requested.

Commencement at the Repton high school was the event of the past week. The commencement sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Kimbrough of Bay Minette, and there was a series of interesting programs on each evening following, concluding with a recital by the music class under the direction of Miss Margurite Wilson. Exercises by the primary grades conducted by Mrs. Hines and Misses Lucy Thompson and Wynona Simmons were especially interesting. On Tuesday and Wednesday night, plays were presented entitled “Mrs. Biggs” and “Tony, the Convict,” respectively. Thursday night the graduation exercises took place. The graduates were Misses Evelyn Hicks, Mary Straughn, Catherine McInnis, Lucile Nicholson, Messrs. Charles Carter and Eugene Hines.
Contest medals were awarded to Clay Kelly and Mary Blackwell.
Miss Eustis, one of the teachers in the high school, was called home on the eve of commencement on account of serious accident suffered by her aunt.

125 YEARS AGO
MAY 23, 1895

There was a rain and hail storm (in the Ridge community) on the 10th inst., the heaviest witnessed in 40 years, say our oldest inhabitants.

MASONIC: A regular communication of Monroeville Lodge No. 153 will be held on Saturday before the third Sunday in June. The annual election of officers and other important business will come before the lodge. A full attendance of members is desired. – F.M. JONES, Secy.

George Agee, who was arrested last week for complicity in the burning of Mr. J.H. Moore’s warehouse at Claiborne, had a preliminary hearing before Judge Stallworth on Tuesday and was discharged, there being no evidence to implicate him in the crime.

Mr. J.H. Moore Jr. of Perdue Hill was in Monroeville on Tuesday. He informed us that he has already begun the erection of a new and larger warehouse on the site of the one recently burned, and expects to have it ready for occupancy in a few weeks. In the meantime, temporary arrangements have been made for handling all kinds of goods with the greatest safety to consignees and shippers.

The closing exercises of Monroeville Academy, which took place at the courthouse on last Friday evening, consisting of a number of appropriate recitations by the pupils of the Primary and Intermediate grades, were of a most entertaining nature and greatly enjoyed by all so fortunate as to be present. The epidemic of whooping cough and measles prevailing in the community so deranged the plans for the exercises that it was necessary to dispense with that part of the program arranged for the high grades.

150 YEARS AGO
MAY 28, 1870

A portion of this county was visited by a hail storm on Wednesday last.

COUNTY COURT: The May term of this Court commenced on Wednesday, the 25th inst., Hon. J.W. Leslie, presiding, and a full bar in attendance.
There was a large amount of business before the court, and it required two days of industrious work to clear the docket. From this, it would appear that crime is on the increase in Monroe County, but it is also an indication that our county officers are watchful, from the prompt manner in which offenders are brought to justice.
The following cases were disposed of…
Ailsey Wootson, alias Ailsey West, petit larceny of a chicken cock. This was a somewhat difficult case, as it involved the identity of two fowls, one of which was a black gamecock and had been “trimmed” by one of the witnesses; the other bird belonged to Ailsey, but the witness would not acknowledge having “trimmed” it. There were a number of witnesses examined on both sides and some of them swore in direct opposition to the facts. The cross-examinations in this case were more amusing than instructive, and can be imagined as well as described. Ailsey was found guilty, and the court fined her five dollars and costs.

PROPOSALS: We, the undersigned committee, are now prepared to received sealed proposals for the building of the Monroeville Academy, and will continue to receive them until Sat., the 18th day of June next. Plans and specifications of building can be found at the office of J.F. McCorvey. Proposals can be handed to either of the committee or to J.F. McCorvey. (Signed) J. Russell, J.W. Perrin, C.R. Broughton, Committee.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Singleton said lower Monroe County volcanic rock resembled monster

George Buster Singleton

(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 “Rock formation resembles huge monster” was originally published in the Jan. 15, 1976 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

As I roam the countryside and observe the wonders of natures, there are times when it seems that the Creator of all beautiful things might grow tired of making everything pretty and pleasing to the eye.

He does, at times, make things that make us notice that everything is not beautiful – some things are different, odd and sometimes even ugly.

Such was the case of the odd-shaped rock formation that I came across in lower Monroe County. This odd phenomenon seemed to me as a huge prehistoric monster, frozen in time but ever waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting prey who entered his domain to despoil it.

A sixth sense

Man has developed a sixth sense. When he is being observed by unseen persons, he is aware of it, in most instances. This is the feeling that came over me as I walked around the huge, odd-shaped formation. It seemed as through the sightless eyes were following me everywhere, I went.

The atmosphere seemed thick, and each movement or sound was magnified to the point that I found myself trying not to make any noise that might awaken the monster and cause it to become angry. And always I would turn, expecting the eyes to be moving in my direction.

The trees and brush around the rock formation were empty of birds, as though they felt as I did. They, too, seemed to keep their distance.

I knew that this was only a large pile of volcanic rock, but the feeling that came over me is hard to explain.

I know that all these things are His creations and can be appreciated if received in the right perspective, open-mindedness and imagination. But I found it hard to cast the feeling from me that this thing was not really alive and watching.

As I returned to my Jeep through the woods, the temptation to turn and look into the sightless eyes was overwhelming.

[This column included a photo taken by Singleton that had the following caption: South Monroe County rock formation resembles monster.]

(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.)

Five UFO reports filed in Alabama during the month of April 2020

Burner directs flames into hot air balloon.

It’s the fourth Saturday of the month, so today I’m giving you an update on UFO reports in Alabama from the previous month, courtesy of the Mutual UFO Network. A search for UFO reports in Alabama between April 1 and April 30 on MUFON’s website, www.mufon.com, resulted in five reports from within our state during that time.

The first incident occurred on Thurs., April 9, around 3:30 a.m. in Hamilton, which is in Marion County. The witness in this case awoke to a noise that sounded like thrusters filling a hot air balloon. He looked out a window in time to see a column of flames pass over the top of his neighbor’s house and then the flames turned into sparks as the noised died away. The sparks cast light on top of the house and illuminated the bottom of the craft, the witness said.

The second incident occurred on Wed., April 15, around 8 p.m. in Bessemer. The witness in this case, along with his fiancĂ© and two other friends, saw six lines of moving star-like orbs that appeared to be coming out of a craft that wasn’t visible. The witnesses said they watched these orbs for 15 to 20 minutes and estimated that there were 50 to 70 of them in all.

The third incident occurred on Mon., April 20, at 4:54 a.m. in Silverhill, which is in Baldwin County. The witness in this case was walking to his truck and saw two bright lights following each other, moving northeast. As they disappeared, the witness saw what looked like shooting stars or maybe a small meteor shower that he described as “weird.” He continued to watch as several more rounds of “bright lights” followed by shooting stars or meteor showers illuminated the sky.

The fourth incident took place on Wed., April 29, at 8:36 p.m. in Cullman. The witness in this case was standing at his back door when he saw 20 to 25 high-speed objects flying in formation. He continued to watch as they spread apart uniformly without emitting any sound, reference lights or blinking lights.

The fifth incident occurred on Thurs., April 30, at 8:13 p.m. in Salem, which is in Lee County. The witness in this case saw a series of at least 50 white, bright orbs that were flying in tandem in a straight line.

“They were all the same space from each other,” the witness said. “The last two orbs were side by side of each other. They were going very fast, no tails, absolutely no sound. They appeared to come from what we believe was Venus, and they just all disappeared into space.”

Before closing out, I just want to put it out there again that I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has witnessed a UFO, especially in Conecuh County. I think a lot of other people would be interested in hearing your story too, and I’m willing to accept your report anonymously.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

'Riley's Crossing' in Monroe County named after South Carolina settlers

Turnbull Cemetery in Monroe County, Alabama. 

About four miles east of J.F. Shields High School in Beatrice on State Highway 21, travelers will see a green highway sign that reads “Riley’s Crossing” near the crossroads where Highway 21 veers off towards McWilliams and State Highway 47 continues on towards Midway. Turnbull Road makes up the other point of the compass at this intersection as it leads motorists down into the old Turnbull community.

Despite the road sign on Highway 21, most maps list the name of this crossroads community simply as “Riley,” a name that dates back to the establishment of a post office there in 1882. According to the book “Place Names in Alabama” by Virginia O. Foscue, the Riley community was “named for a family from South Carolina, who settled in this area.” Sources say that the Riley post office closed in 1911.

According to the 2010 book, “Riley’s Crossing” by Kathy McCoy, the name “Riley’s Crossing” traces its roots to an old mercantile store by the same name that was owned by one of the county’s most prominent citizens, Thomas Mercer Riley, who was the longtime president of the Bank of Beatrice. If you go to this place today, there is no sign of Riley’s old store, which more than likely also housed the community’s post office.

A few days ago, after several hours of luckless fishing at the state lake, I found myself passing through Riley’s Crossing with my 11-year-old son, James. We scouted around for a few minutes to see if any old landmarks or buildings remained from the community’s heyday, and we were not disappointed. As many travelers through this area will know, the most prominent building in present-day Riley’s Crossing is the Savannah Missionary Baptist Church, which traces its history back to the 1880s.

According to the church’s cornerstone, the church was organized in the 1880s when R.W. Russell was minister. The church has been rebuilt three times since then - first in 1907, again in 1937 and lastly in 1968. In 1983, the church was bricked and a new addition was added to the sanctuary.

Before heading home, James and I cut down Turnbull Road, and about a mile later, we pulled over at the old Turnbull Cemetery. We walked among the headstones for a few minutes, and, just eyeballing it, I’d say there are about 50 graves there. The oldest grave that we were able to find belonged to Lydia Kile, who died at the age of 17 in September 1846.

Not far from her grave, you will also find the grave of Thomas Mercer Riley, who died at the age of 95 in March 1935. During the Civil War, Riley served as captain of Co. C of the 5th Alabama Infantry and was in command of that unit when it surrendered with Robert E. Lee at Appomattox in 1865. At the time of his death, Riley was one of the few surviving Confederate veterans in all of Alabama.

Sources say that the Turnbull Cemetery is in the flood zone of Turnbull Branch, which flows just west of the cemetery. Maps indicate that Flat Creek, Robinson Creek and Stringer Creek also flow through the Riley’s Crossing and Turnbull communities, and all of these freshwater sources would have been prime real estate for ancient Indians in this area. No doubt there are more than a few old village sites, and maybe Indian mounds, in this part of Monroe County.

In the end, I’d like to hear from anyone in the reading audience with more information about the history of Riley’s Crossing. I’m especially interested in hearing any old ghost stories or local legends from this community as well as any information about old Indian sites there. Many will agree that it’s important to document this information for future generations, so that it won’t become lost like so much of our local history.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Where was the house of the 'Dancing Skulls' located in Wilcox County?

Rosebud-Saint James A.M.E. Church.

About 10 miles east of downtown Camden on State Highway 10 sits the small crossroads village of Rosebud. No one seems to agree on how this community got its name but there was once a sizeable number of people living in Rosebud many years ago. In fact, sources say that Rosebud had its own post office from 1876 to 1910.

I found myself passing through Rosebud on Friday afternoon and decided to cut down County Road 51 to visit the old cemetery at the Rosebud-Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church. Those of you familiar with this majestic country church will know that it is unique for a number of reasons.

For starters, the west side of the church’s foundation is painted purple, while the east side is painted gray. In all my travels, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another church with this distinct type of color scheme.

The church also has two cornerstones, both located near the church’s front steps. The older of the two reads “Bethel A.M.E. Church – Erected June 1898 – Rev. A.M. Green, Pastor.” This cornerstone is painted white and is smaller than the newer of the two cornerstones.

The newer of the two stones reads “Early 1900s Renamed Rosebud A.M.E. Church, Rebuilt in 1977, Pastor Rev. J. Walton – Erected 2004, Rev. A. Thrasher-Pastor, Rev. C. Townsend, Presiding Elder, Rev. Rt. L. Kirkland, Bishop – 2008, Rev. L. Jackson-Pastor, Dr. L. Watford-Presiding Elder, Rev. Pt. Davis-Bishop.” This stone appears to be made of polished granite, the same type of material used for modern gravestones.

From there, I took a few minutes to look around the cemetery and noted a number of old graves that date back to the early days of the Rosebud community. Some of the graves are to be found in the surrounding wood line, and others can be found nearly hidden amongst bushes inside the cemetery. I even spotted several graves in underbrush near a large pine tree that’s also home to a sizeable, active hive of bees.

A few minutes later, I found myself back in my truck and headed north of the crossroads up County Road 51 towards Darlington. It was then that my thoughts turned to an old ghost story that I’d heard about this area many years ago, the tale of the “Dancing Skulls.” The best telling of this tale that I know of comes from the 1981 book, “Ghosts and Goosebumps: Ghost Stories, Tall Tales and Superstitions from Alabama” by folklorists Jack and Olivia Solomon.

According to their version of the story, “about three miles north of the crossroads known as Rosebud… there sits on top of a small grass covered hill the remains of what was once a large frame house. This house, which now consists of one large room that has held up in the fight with nature through the years, was once a hospital.”

In the front yard of this former hospital, which was in operation before the Civil War but closed before 1900, is “scattered about an assortment of grave markers in the form of headstones and slabs. There are not many of these, but the small number there suffice to give it a weird appearance.

“The attic of this structure is filled with human skulls and the occupants of the house and the (people) of this section say that within these skulls lie the spirits of their former owners. The belief is that these spirits are very sensitive and are easily excitable, and when they become upset, they dance about in the attic and frequently about the walls and ceiling. In times of great excitement, especially during storms, these ha’nts even venture out into the yard and hover around the tombs that hold their companions.”

During my recent trip up County Road 51, I took my time and drove slowly, but from my vantage point on the highway, I never saw any old house or small graveyard that might indicate where the hospital-turned-house once stood. Perhaps someone in the reading audience will remember. If so, please let me hear from you because it would be interesting to know if this tale has any basis in fact.

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for May 19, 2020


14 YEARS AGO
MAY 18, 2006

Evergreen weather observer Harry Ellis reported 0.70 inches of rain on May 9 and 1.15 inches on May 10. He reported high temperatures of 85 degrees on May 9 and May 13 and lows of 50 on May 11 and May 12.

The 2007 Conecuh County Junior Miss Program, presented by the Conecuh Women’s League of Evergreen, was held Sat., May 6, 2006 at Ed Reid Technical College Auditorium. Winners were Jalesyia Gross, daughter of Janice Gross, Spirit of Junior Miss Award; Annice Jessie, daughter of Terrance Jessie and Trent and Chesson McDaniel; second runner-up, Scholastic Achievement Award and Talent Award; Tiara Sanders, daughter of Nathan and Willie Mae Sanders, 2007 Conecuh County Junior Miss and Interview Award; and Courtney Nared, daughter of Russell and Teresa Hammond and Leon Nared, first runner-up.

Sparta Academy will hold graduation exercises Fri., May 19, 2006 at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium. Honor students for the Class of 2006 are Ashton Garner, Valedictorian Casey Salter, Salutatorian Ava Pate and Erin Brock; Kara Layton, Will Ivey and James Turner Murphy.

Hillcrest High School will hold graduation exercises Fri., May 19, at 7 p.m. at Brooks Memorial Stadium. Honor students of the Class of 2006 are Kristin Searcy, Shaunta Rankins, Valedictorian Treasure Lyons and Cabria Rankins; Rosilyn Stallworth, Salutatorian Jamarlin Williams, Brandon Jackson and Shaneka McCreary.

25 YEARS AGO
MAY 18, 1995

Local weather reporter Harry Ellis reported 1.5 inches of rain on May 9, .12 inches of rain on May 10 and .54 inches of rain on May 12.

Evergreen Chief of Police Thomas W. Booker was sworn in Monday morning at 10 a.m. as the new state chapter president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He was given the oath by Evergreen Mayor Lomax Cassady as his wife, Lauri, and daughter, Jennifer, looked on. They were flanked by the Evergreen Police Department Honor Guard and the Hillcrest JROTC Honor Guard.

The Conecuh County Economic Development Authority announces today that Rosalyn Sales has tendered her resignation as Executive Director effective May 26, 1995.

Valedictorian of Sparta Academy’s graduating class of 1995 is Kelly Rogene Booker, daughter of Rogene and Shirley Booker of Evergreen.

Chad Chesser, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carrol Chesser of Evergreen, is the salutatorian of the 1995 graduating class of Sparta Academy.

Conecuh County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Shawn Sullivan and Conecuh County Sheriff Tom Hall are shown Wednesday afternoon with some of the 523 marijuana plants that were found in an eradication program conducted last Wednesday and Thursday in the county. The plants ranged in size from a few inches in height to over four feet.

39 YEARS AGO
MAY 21, 1981

Evergreen weather reporter Earl Windham reported no rain between May 11 and May 17. He reported highs of 85 degrees on May 14 and May 15 and a low of 45 on May 12.

Clint Hyde, son of Mr. and Mrs. David T. Hyde Jr., is shown with Knight, judged “Best of the Show” at the first annual Kid’s Dog Show held Sunday afternoon at the Evergreen Municipal Park under sponsorship of the Conecuh County Humane Society.

The seniors of Sparta Academy will host Sparta’s annual class night on Fri., May 22, at 7 p.m. in the Sparta Academy Gymnatorium.
Baccalaureate services for the seniors will get underway on Sun., May 24, at 2 p.m. in the Sparta Gymnatorium. The invocation, which will be given by Rev. Bill Lewis of the McKenzie Baptist Church, will be followed by the message to be presented by Rev. Alice Johnson of the Presbyterian Church in Evergreen.
Commencement exercises for the seniors will be held Thurs., May 28, in the Sparta Gymnatorium at 7 p.m. The guest speaker will be John Faircloth. Faircloth serves on the Alabama Private School Advisory Council, the State Superintendent of Education’s Advisory Council and the State Vocational Education Advisory Council.
(Sparta’s valedictorian that year was Paula Lee. Salutatorians were Jeena Simpson and Bud Evers. Other honors students were Cathy Cope, Karen Brown and Beth Dailey.)

66 YEARS AGO
MAY 11, 1954

Forty-Seven Seniors To Receive Diplomas From Evergreen High: Commencement exercises for Evergreen High School have been completed according to announcements from the office of the principal, C.W. Claybrook.
The series of events in connection with graduation will begin Sunday afternoon at five o’clock when the baccalaureate service will be held in the high school auditorium. The baccalaureate sermon will be delivered by Rev. Robert Miller of the Evergreen Presbyterian Church.
Formal graduation exercises will be held on Friday night, May 28, at eight o’clock in Memorial Gymnasium. Dr. C.B. Smith, president of Troy State Teachers College, will deliver the address.
Valedictorian is Annette Bolton and salutatorian is Barbara DeLee.

Repton High School Has 36 Graduates: The schedule of commencement exercises at Repton High School is complete according to Principal E.H. Penny.
The baccalaureate service will be held Sunday at eight o’clock in the school auditorium. The baccalaureate sermon will be delivered by Rev. Fletcher Howington, pastor of the Methodist Church of Monroeville.
Graduation exercises will be held Friday evening, May 28, at eight o’clock in the school auditorium. Judge A.H. Elliott of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Brewton, will deliver the address. Principal E.H. Penny will present diplomas to the class of 36 graduates.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for May 18, 2020

James "Cliff" Little III

14 YEARS AGO
MAY 18, 2006

Pro team to open season July 15 at HHS: On July 15 professional football will come to Evergreen when the Evergreen Jaguars take on the Bayou Vipers in an NAFL game in Evergreen.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Hillcrest High School’s football stadium, according to Victor Calhoun, the Jags head coach and general manager.
Calhoun said the Jags first preseason game is scheduled for June 17 in Mobile against the Port City Monarchs at 7:30 p.m.

Sparta Academy opened spring football practice two weeks ago and closed it last week under the direction of new head coach Clint Floyd.
Floyd, who has been living in Gulf Breeze, Fla., brings 33 years of coaching and teaching experience to Sparta.
He ran the Wing T for head coach Bill McNair as Thomasville High School’s offensive coordinator for 13 years (1980-93).

Derrick Page rushed for 112 yards last Thursday to lead the Black to a 35-26 win over the White in Hillcrest High School’s intra-squad football game in Evergreen.
Hillcrest wrapped up three weeks of spring football drills with the full-contact, four-quarter scrimmage under new head coach Maurice Belser Jr.
(Other top Hillcrest players in that game included Blake Bryant, Jarvis Holder, Edrikus Little, Justin Nared, Malcolm Rudolph, Durrell Simpson, Jeremy Thomas, Terrance Thomas. Matt Blake was Hillcrest’s offensive coordinator.)

39 YEARS AGO
MAY 21, 1981

Sparta Awards: Johnson wins Peacock Trophy: Jeff Johnson was awarded the Jerry Peacock Trophy at the Sparta Quarterback Club’s annual All Sports Banquet held in the Sparta Academy Gymnatorium on Friday night, May 15. The trophy is given in memory of the late Jerry Peacock, an outstanding athlete and student at the school who died in a drowning tragedy shortly after his graduation.
Richard Nix won the coveted D.T. Stuart Jr. Sportsmanship Trophy and the football team elected Scott Baggett permanent captain of the 1980 team.
Other football awards went to the following: Hustler, Russ Raines; Best Defensive Player, Gaylen Griggers; and Best Blocker, Scott Baggett.
The basketball team elected Jeff Johnson permanent captain. Other awards were Best Rebounder, Terry Shipp; Best Defensive Player, Jeff Johnson; Hustler, Russ Raines; Field Goal Percentage, Terry Shipp, 47 percent; Free Throw Percentage, Terry Shipp, 67 percent.
Jeff Johnson was elected permanent captain of the baseball team, and the following awards were made: Best Defensive Player, Jeff Johnson; Hustler, Russ Raines; and Batting Champion, Joey Johnson, who hit .324.

Allen Padgett won first place in Pro Street at the Atmore Drag Way on Saturday night after finishing second the previous week.

54 YEARS AGO
MAY 19, 1966

Swimming pool opens June 3rd: The swimming pool at Judson Murphy Recreation Center will open on Fri., June 3. This date was set by the Evergreen City Council at its meeting Tuesday night.
Coach Cliff Little of Evergreen High School has been employed as director of the city’s recreation program this summer.
The council voted to erect a chain link fence and gates across the front of the recreation center. This is being done to prevent further damage and abuse of the property. Recently, a pump was thrown into the wading pool and damaged.

66 YEARS AGO
MAY 20, 1954

Conecuh Amateur Baseball League Is Formed: Six Teams Are Entered: There will be baseball in Conecuh County this summer. Announcement of the organization of the six-team Conecuh County Amateur League is made this week, and the opening of the 20-game schedule is to be held Sunday afternoon, May 23. All league games are scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Actually only four of the six teams entered are from this county with Escambia and Covington furnishing one entry each. The teams in the league are Loree, Paul, Castleberry, Evergreen, Red Level and North Brewton.
Zell Murphy and Clint Ward are managing the Evergreen club and they invite any players interested in joining the team to come on out for practice. The Greenies practice on Wednesday afternoons and any player interested in joining them can get complete details by contacting either Mr. Murphy or Mr. Ward.
Sunday afternoon at 3:30 the league schedule begins with Castleberry playing North Brewton on the Castleberry diamond; Red Level plays at Paul and Evergreen hosts Loree.

84 YEARS AGO
MAY 21, 1936

The Evergreen Merchants won their two games last week to keep pace with the leaders in the South Alabama League and to maintain their lead of one game over the Century-Flomaton combine.
Sweeping the series with Monroeville, winning two extra inning games, the local nine showed great power and fight and promise to be one of the fastest semi-pro nines ever to represent this city.
In the game with Monroeville Thursday after going through nine innings of fast ball to see the scored tied in the last half of this inning by the scrappy Monroeville sluggers, Evergreen struck back in their part of the tenth to make three runs and put the game on ice. In this frame, Kendall led off with a base hit to right, and Sam Jones dropped a Texas Leaguer over first sending Kendall to second. This set the stage for Tom Melton’s torrid smash down the left field foul line for a two-bagger and to score Kendall and Jones. Hall, next up, grounded sharply to short and went to first, Melton scoring on the play ended Evergreen’s scoring but the Monroeville nine came back to make two runs in the latter frame of the tenth, and put the tying run on second when the last batter flied out to Seabrooks at second.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Eli McMorn and the Strange Case of Kill Devil Hill – Part Two

Dim trail leads to top of Kill Devil Hill.

My grandfather picked his way up the dim trail to the top of Kill Devil Hill. Even in the daylight, the trail was hard to see, and after about five steps, he stopped. He was ahead of me and turned to look me full in the eyes, almost as if he’d read my mind.

“I know the trail is hard to see,” he said. “Just step where I step.”

Without another word, he continued up the trail. At the top, he turned and put up his hand to stop me.

“Turn around and look down the slope,” he said.

I did and saw that the trail was more visible from this vantage point, like some strange type of optical illusion.

“This trail is old, packed down by hundreds, maybe thousands, of feet over the centuries,” he said. “Some say that the Indians salted it to keep plants from overgrowing the trail. Others say they salted a big circle around the entire hill with urns of salt they carried all the way from somewhere around McIntosh.”

I looked down the slope but didn’t see any sort of mysterious circle around the bottom of the hill. “Why would they do that?”

My grandfather reached into his shirt pocket, produced a half-empty pack of Steamboat cigarettes, shook one out and light it. “Some say it was to keep bad spirits out,” he said. “Others say it was to keep something in. Maybe it was both.”

He exhaled a breath of smoke and continued to the top. I reached his side a few moments later. From the top, I could see for miles in every direction, especially far to the west, across the Alabama River and deep into Clarke County.

My grandfather pointed north towards Claiborne. “At night, you can see Claiborne easy from here and most nights you can see the lights from Jackson. A bunch of home guard men camped out here in 1865 and signaled Claiborne town with a bonfire when they heard the cannons firing at Mount Pleasant.”

The top of Kill Devil Hill was maybe 50 feet in circumference and there was a narrow trench that divided the hilltop in half. “What’s the deal with this ditch?”

My grandfather stepped deftly into the trench, which was littered with small rocks, bits of dead pine limbs and dry grass. “This was here when I was a boy,” he said. “My paw brought me here just like his paw brought him. Long time ago folks got the idea that this was an Indian burial mound and during the Depression folks dug around up here because they thought they’d find gold or buried treasure.”

I looked around and imagined piles of gold and dead Indians bones beneath our feet. “Did they find any?”

My grandfather glanced at his watch and peered grimly north towards Claiborne. “Not sure,” he said. “No one can say. Lightning put a stop to it all as far as I know.”

“Lightning?”

“Yep,” he said. “You don’t want to be up here on a cloudy day. This hill gets struck by lightning all the time. Struck a bunch of hobo diggers up here in ’35. Killed them all. They’re all buried in one mass grave at Manistee.”

He took another drag on his cigarette. “I was a little fellow then, about 10 years old,” he said. “I saw the bodies. The lightning messed them all up. That lightning was so hot that some of their metal tools was fused into some of the bodies - pickaxes, shovels and all. It was beastly. My paw and my uncle helped dig the hole they were buried in.”

He pulled hard on his cigarette, and the cherry glowed blood red. “I was little, but I heard the men talk,” he said. “Little pitchers got big ears. Some of those men were deacons and Masons and said there was nothing natural about that lightning. The diggers called down something bad and paid with their lives. All sorts of rumors went through the community after that and that was the last digging up here that I ever heard tell of.”

(All rights reserved. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.)

Old newspaper excerpts from The Monroe Journal newspaper of Monroe County, Alabama

Comedian Will Rogers in 1922.

14 YEARS AGO
MAY 18, 2006

The Monroe County Junior Miss Program will be held June 3 at 7 p.m. at Nettles Auditorium on the campus of Alabama Southern Community College. There are 15 Monroe County juniors participating in this year’s program. (Those juniors included Sara Allen, Anna Catherine Black, Tia Black, Stephanie Brewton, Stephanie Cunningham, Sara Darby, Jenilee Foukal, Caitlain Grimes, Cecilly Hornady, Dallas Jordan, Erin King, Natalie Newton, Brooke Reynolds, Sawyer Saliba and Hillary Saywer.)

J.F. Shields High School’s football team got a taste of sweet revenge Friday night, whipping Class 2A Keith High School 8-6 in a spring football game in Beatrice. Last spring, Keith beat Shields 38-8 in Orrville to cap off spring football drills for both schools.
Freshman fullback Cedric Williams scored the game-winning touchdown for Shields when he rumbled into the end zone after an 11-yard run up the middle just before the end of the first half. Bruce Lewis, an eighth-grade tailback, tacked on the two-point conversion.
(Other top Shields players in that game included Wendell Dortch, Jeffery Finklea, Rashad Howard, Nadderian Nettles, Jalan Stallworth and Mike Williams. Van Smith was head coach, and Herbert Blackmon was assistant coach.)

Excel UMC to celebrate 100 years: Celebrating 100 years of serving God. That’s what the pastor, Rev. Kathryn McKinley, and members of the Excel United Methodist Church will be doing this Sunday when they gather for services. The church was founded in June of 1906.

39 YEARS AGO
MAY 21, 1981

Chamber hires John Egolf as executive: In pursuit of a more effective organization, the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce last week hired an executive director, lengthened office hours and began planning special events.
Chamber president Anne Farish said the board of directors voted Tuesday night of last week to hire John Egolf of Monroeville as the group’s executive director.
Egolf is currently the executive secretary of the Downtown Merchants Association.

Tigers lose to Centre in 3A baseball finals: Cherokee County High School of Centre defeated Monroe County High School 8-4 and 9-4 Friday in Centre, giving the winners their second straight Alabama High School Athletic Association 3A state baseball championship.
Despite the losses, Monroe County finished with a sparkling 20-4 record and made their first trip to the state finals since the championship year of 1974.
(Top players for MCHS that season included Billy Bowen, Tony Feaster, Todd Hamilton, John McCarthy and Keith Nettles. Howard “Buzz” Busby was head coach.)

Andrews is new trooper for county: Charles E. Andrews of Monroeville began work Monday as a state trooper in Monroe County, bringing the number of troopers working the area to three.
A Monroe County native, Andrews graduated from Monroe County High School and attended Patrick Henry State Junior College before receiving a degree in criminal justice from the University of Alabama. He will be working with troopers Marion Craft and Randolph Lambert.

66 YEARS AGO
MAY 20, 1954

VFW Post Erects Fatality Crosses: A committee from the Norris-Ikner Post No. 5624 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Frisco City recently completed the erection of white wooden crosses along the highways of Monroe County where fatal accidents occurred in 1953, R.O. Wiggins, post commander, has stated. Their erection was completed on May 15.
Commander Wiggins said: “These crosses have been erected with the hope that they will aid in reducing the needless loss of human life and suffering as a result of misuse of motor vehicles.”

Season statistics for the J.U. Blacksher High nine were released this week by the coach at the Uriah school, Robert Riley. Leading pitcher for the Uriah club was Eugene Madison, with a total of five wins and one loss to his credit. Madison, with an average of .384, also paced batting for Blacksher High.
(Other top Blacksher players that season included Lawrence Brantley, Robert Brooks, Gordon Coley, Frank Hadley, John Roy House, Jack Madison, O’Neal Smith, William Weatherford and Jimmy Williams.)

Twenty-five members of Monroeville’s Boy Scout Troop No. 24 went to Montgomery last Saturday accompanied by Assistant Scoutmaster Tom Lemon to visit the open house at Maxwell Air Force Base, held in observance of Armed Forces Day.
During the event, they viewed demonstrations and displays of the nation’s “Power for Peace.”
They saw 18 different types of aircraft from the Army, Navy and Air Force, including fighters, cargo planes, trainers and a bomber.

89 YEARS AGO
MAY 21, 1931

Sheriff L.M. Sawyer with his deputies captured 25 gallons of contraband liquor in a car near Goodway last Friday night. One man was taken prisoner but was released later when he declared that he was not the owner of the car nor the whiskey. The car is being held as ownership has not been established.

MOOSE NEWS: At the meeting of Monroeville Lodge No. 1127 at Uriah Masonic Hall, Dictator Rufus Garrett called attention to the service rendered by Brother Will Rogers in connection with the Bristol Lodge in Virginia.
A class of six were obligated and an even larger number of applications were favorably voted on. It was voted to petition the Supreme Council to change the name to Vocation Lodge No. 1127 and thus tie up the work of the lodge more closely with the possibility of Vocation being chosen as the site of a Dixie Mooseheart.

METHODIST CHURCH TO BE COMPLETED SOON: The building committee of the local Methodist church have just closed a contract with Mr. Kimbro of Pine Hill, Ala. to complete the new building already well underway. The building thus far has been done by Mr. Kimbro under a different arrangement, but the last agreement constitutes a flat contract for its completion. We understand the work will be resumed at once, and it is estimated that it will be completed in something like two months. The Methodist congregation has been using the county courthouse since the destruction by fire of their former edifice.

114 YEARS AGO
MAY 17, 1906

The case of L. Untriner, convicted at a recent term of the Monroe circuit court for selling liquor in violation of the local prohibition law, has been affirmed by the supreme court.

Recital at Court House Thursday Evening: The ladies of the Monroeville Methodist church have been fortunate in securing Mrs. Bessie Miller Oton to deliver one of her justly celebrated recitals at the Court House on Thursday evening, May 17, for the benefit of church enterprises. Wherever she has appeared her audiences have been delighted and press and people accord unstinted praise. Mrs. Oton will be assisted by Miss Lucille Bizzelle, who also possesses marked talent as a reciter. An evening of rare enjoyment is assured to all who attend. Admission 50 cents, children 25 cents.

G.A. Fountain of Fork has been appointed Notary Public, ex officio Justice of the Peace for Beat 10.

Mr. H.L. Dees, a leading businessman of Repton, was a visitor to the capital city of Monroe Monday.

Dr. R.A. Smith was down from Nadawah last week on a professional visit.


MANISTEE: Our town seems to be on a boom judging from the building that is being done.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Singleton writes of 275 foxhounds competing at 1972 Burnt Corn event


(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 “Foxhunting – southern style” was originally published in the Nov. 23, 1972 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The quiet, peaceful community of Burnt Corn came alive Wednesday, Nov. 1st, when the Dixie Burnt Corn Fox Hunters Association gathered for their 26th annual meeting and hunt. The three-day event consisted of the opening show held on the main street of Burnt Corn, right in front of the post office and general store. Three days of hunting followed the show where the best fox hounds from six states competed.

The main street was blocked off and the through traffic routed behind the vacant store across from the post office. The supper that marked the beginning of the event was over and as darkness settled over the rolling hills all eyes began to focus on the hounds and their owners as they milled around under the lights that hung over main street.

Hounds of all sizes and shapes were being groomed and readied for the event that was about to start. Folding chairs were brought in by a few of the spectators, while others stood or sat on the ground, forming a rough watermelon-shaped circle around the hounds and their owners. The bench show was underway.

The judges were announced and a few short remarks were made by the association president. A hound puppy was presented to the youngest member of the fox hunters association – the two-and-a-half-month-old daughter of the association’s secretary, Mrs. Gail Stewart.

Strange language began to fall upon the ear of this writer as the night wore on. Words like top standing dog, top Saturday night dog, top field dog and top bench dog. The names derby dog and top runner were also heard. Some of the hound’s names that floated on the night wind were Georgia Bell, Texas Red, Old Blue, Tennessee Nell, Florida Queenie, the great grandson of Old Bottom and many others.

The inner area of the huge circle was a beehive of activity as hounds were carried, dragged and led by their owners to the center of the circle to be entered in their respective classes. “Bring out the six-month-old males,” the judges would shout. The winner might have come from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee or Texas. He might have traveled from Mississippi or Louisiana to the small community in north Monroe County to enter his or her prize fox hound in this year’s competition.

Here and there along the outer edges of the circle hounds and puppies were being swapped and traded. “He ain’t got a collar on, but you will know him anywhere. Kinda got a funny color. He’ll answer to the name of Blue. That’s his name. He knows his name.” These shouts were overheard. And across the way Baby Stewart lay asleep nestled in her soft warm blanket and held by one of her many admirers – as the judging of hounds continued.

Thursday morning at daybreak was the first fox race of the three-day event. Most of the 275 hounds present participated. Many were scratched by the judges for one reason or another before the day was over. The remaining hounds were released again at sunrise on Friday morning to chase the sly old fox across the country side and many more became the victims of the sharp eyes of the judges.

As the gray light of dawn slowly crept across the open field three miles east of Burnt Corn, the remaining hounds were released for the last time to take part in the chase that would decide, one and for all, the winners of the 1972 field trials.

The prizes and awards were to be given out at the campsite three miles north on the Pine Orchard road. With the awarding of the trophies, another foxhunt and get-together became history. Goodbyes were said and old friends of many years began to look toward next year and the gathering at Burnt Corn.

Down the road campers were slowly pulling out at the camping area – headed home. All looked back and perhaps remembered the good times – their world of the foxhunters.

And Baby Stewart, nestled now in her mother’s arms, had slept through most of it all without knowing that she had been one of the main attractions.

[This column, which was called a “Photostory” in this edition of The Journal, included seven photos from the foxhunting event taken by Singleton.]

(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 aand as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The strange death of a Pine Apple doctor leads to many questions


One of my favorite pastimes is looking through old newspapers. I was looking through the May 12, 1932 edition of The Monroe Journal the other day, and an unusual front-page story under the headline, “Pine Apple Doctor Drowned In Creek,” caught my eye. It read as follows:

----- 0 -----

PINE APPLE, ALA., May 10 – Dr. B.W. Watson, 65, practicing physician for the last 44 years, was drowned accidentally Monday, when he fell into a creek on his farm near here.

Dr. Watson is believed to have been attempting to cross the creek on a log walk when he lost his footing and fell into the water. Dr. Watson practiced at Decatur, Ala. for 20 years before he moved to Pine Apple.

Funeral will be held here at 3 p.m. tomorrow with Dr. Dobbins of the Camden Baptist Church officiating. Besides his widow, he is survived by a son, William Watson of Decatur, and a daughter, Mrs. James E. Donald, Pine Apple.

----- 0 -----

I dug a little deeper into this story and learned that B.W. Watson was actually Boardman Walne Watson, who was born on Oct. 13, 1866 at Snow Hill. His parents were William M. Watson and Elizabeth Jane Watson, who are both buried at Monterey, over in Butler County. If you go to the Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery in Pine Apple today, you’ll find Boardman buried there beside his wife of nearly half a century, Lola Curry Watson.

Lola, a native of Monroe County, was the daughter of the Rev. William Green Curry. When Boardman and Lola got married in 1888, their wedding ceremony was held at the Verbena Baptist Church in Chilton County, where Lola’s father was the minister. Sources say that for many years, Chilton County residents remembered the Watson wedding because the weather was so bad that day that numerous cotton bags had to be spread out on the ground to protect the bridal party from all of the mud.

Some readers and local history buffs will also remember that Boardman and Lola were the parents of John Caffey Watson, who was Wilcox County’s first World War I fatality. John was killed in action on July 15, 1918 in France at the age of 27 while serving as a corporal in Co. F of the U.S. Army’s 167th Infantry Regiment. His grave can also be found in the Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery.

Again, taking a closer look at the story about Boardman’s drowning, we’re left with more questions than answers. Apparently, he owned a farm that was just outside of Pine Apple, but where exactly was his farm located? Also, which creek did he fall into? Was it Turkey Creek, Bear Creek, Little Turkey Creek or some other creek in the vicinity of Pine Apple?

It also seems unusual that an adult male, even one who is 65 years old, would drown in one of our local creeks, so what were the specific details behind the incident? Was the creek especially deep and swift? Was Boardman unable to swim or somehow impaired or disabled? Did he hit his head, become unconscious or get trapped underwater somehow?

Was someone with him when he fell into the creek? Was he alone and found after the fact? If so, who was with him or who discovered his body?

In the end, I’d like to hear from anyone in the reading audience with more information about Boardman’s life and unusual death. It would be interesting to know the full story behind this accidental drowning. Who knows, the full details could prevent the same misfortune from befalling someone else in the future.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for May 12, 2020


20 YEARS AGO
MAY 11, 2000

Evergreen weather observer Harry Ellis reported 0.08 inches of rain on May 5. He also reported highs of 89 degrees on May 6 and May 7 and a low of 51 on May 1.

Evergreen’s Relay for Life this Friday: Conecuh County’s Relay for Life will be held this Friday night in downtown Evergreen’s “No Man’s Land.” Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy the fun, fellowship and entertainment Friday beginning at 6 p.m. Activities will last throughout the night until 6 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Wreck claims life of Miss. woman: A Gulfport, Miss. woman was killed Sunday morning when her vehicle left Interstate 65 and struck a tree.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, Marsha Thompkins, 20, died as a result of her 2000 Chevrolet car leaving the southbound lane and crashing into a tree at 6:45 a.m. The accident occurred five miles north of Evergreen.

The Flat Rock Community Center hosted a special luncheon Monday to celebrate a recent grant awarded to the center to fund improvements to the historic church, located on County Road 26.
According to board member J.C. Padgett, the Flat Rock Chapel, originally a Reorganized Latter Day Saints church, has gone through many changes since its establishment in the 1870s. The church was acquired from the RLDS church in the late 1990s and subsequently remodeled.  

45 YEARS AGO
MAY 8, 1975

Local weather reporter Earl Windham reported 0.6 inches of rain on April 30 and 0.6 inches on May 3. He reported a high of 83 on May 2 and a low of 56 on April 28. Total rainfall in April 1975 was 16.7 inches.

Armed robbers hit bank at Castleberry: Three armed men, all white, robbed the Union Bank of Castleberry at noon Tuesday and got away with approximately $6,400, according to Sheriff Edwin Booker. He said that his office was notified of the robbery, which occurred moments earlier, at 12:59 p.m.
According to the sheriff, two armed men with pistols entered the bank and robbed two women tellers at gunpoint. A third man drove the get-away vehicle, a 1970 Ford pickup with camper body.

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot in Evergreen, Conecuh County, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Alabama Historical Commission announced today.

The U.S. Postal Service today announced a new plan to improve mail service to the SCF Evergreen mail processing area.
Gene Hyde, Postmaster at Evergreen, said outgoing mail originating in Evergreen and its 44 associate offices, which has been sorted manually at Evergreen, would now be processed on high speed equipment at Montgomery, effective Sat., May 10.

70 YEARS AGO
MAY 11, 1950

Firemen Studying First Aid Course At School: Evergreen’s Volunteer Firemen are now studying first aid in connection with their three-month training school. The course is being taught by W.W. “Fink” Fussell, assistant fire chief of the Greenville Department. The firemen began their classes in first aid this week and will continue them until the course is completed.

OES MEETS MONDAY NIGHT – Conecuh Chapter 217 OES will hold its regular meeting Monday night, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Masonic Hall.

Members Added To Roll Of Evergreen 160 Club: A number of new members enrolled in Evergreen’s “160 Club” during the week, pushing the total nearer the 160 required to install Christmas lights. Officials in charge of the enrollment of members state that since the goal is so near reached the time for accepting members will be extended for a few days, so you still have a chance to fork over your five bucks and help get Evergreen out of the dark this Christmas.

REV. GEORGE CLEVE ELLIS: Following a long illness, Rev. George Cleve Ellis, age 56, died at a Mobile hospital Sunday night, where he had been confined for the past six months.
Rev. Ellis was a native of Conecuh County and lived here his entire life. He entered the ministry of the Baptist Church when a young man and preached in the rural churches of Conecuh, Escambia and Monroe counties for some 30 years, or until his health forced him to retire.

82 YEARS AGO
MAY 12, 1938

Paul Stephenson Draws Five Years For Killing: A circuit court jury late Wednesday night returned a verdict of guilty against Paul Stephenson, young white man living in Beat One, and sentenced him to five years in the penitentiary. Stephenson together with his father was charged with killing their neighbor, David Wallace, a number of years ago.
Stephenson’s trial began Tuesday and did not reach the jury until late Wednesday afternoon. He was represented by the law firm of Hamilton and Jones of this city. The case of Neil Stephenson will not be tried at this term of the court.
The case of Tom Howard, charged with carnal knowledge, a capital offense, was taken up early Monday. Through his attorney, R.H. Jones, Howard entered a plea of guilty and received a sentence of 25 years.

Evergreen Included In Air Mail Pick-Up Plan: Air mail pick-up service planned for Alabama May 15 has been canceled on orders of the post office department, which asked concentration of flights on May 19, the state aviation commission announced Wednesday.
Addition of three new cities to be given pick-up service was announced. They are Thomasville, Evergreen and Troy. The additions bring to 34 the number of points in which state aviators will pick up air mail and fly it to regular airliner stops.
“Harllee Branch, second assistant postmaster general, advised Wednesday the post office department would concentrate on air mail pick-up service May 19, the 20th anniversary of airmail inauguration, and refused to permit Alabama flights planned May 15,” Asa Rountree, state airfield director, announced.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for May 11, 2020

University of Alabama's Paul Crane

20 YEARS AGO
MAY 11, 2000

Mallory Salter of Evergreen took some of her Spring holidays to do some turkey hunting with her dad in Texas. The two of them hosted two shows for Ken Tucker’s Sportsman Showcase which will be aired Sat., May 13, at 4:30 a.m. on WEAR-TV 3; Sun., May 14, at 5:30 a.m. on WAKA-TV 8; and Tues., May 16, at 2 p.m., Thurs., May 18, at 8 p.m. and Fri., May 19, at 12 midnight on the Outdoor Channel. Mallory killed both of these birds during her trip.

Woodmen of the World presented the Evergreen Little League with a U.S. Flag during Opening Day ceremonies held recently. Jule Gorum presented the flag on behalf of the Evergreen Little League. The Hillcrest JROTC was also on hand for the presentation. The flag was flown at half-mast opening day in memory of Brian Crane.

45 YEARS AGO
MAY 8, 1975

The Northcutt’s team won first place in the Evergreen Men’s Softball League pre-season tournament recently. Shown are sponsor Waynard Price, Ray Griffin, bat boy, Terry Coleman, coach, John David Adams, Wendell Burt, Jacob Coleman, Bill Van Horn and Jimmy Brown; Clayton Barlow, Ronnie Jones, Bill Bailey, Sammy Brown, Eddie Hooks, Terry Chapman and Rogene Booker. Not shown are Jerry Peacock, Ronnie Pugh and Don Owens.

From “The Colyum” by Bob Bozeman - The Sparta Quarterback Club will hold its annual All Sports Banquet tonight at 7:30 in the school gymnatorium. President James Ansley got a winner for a speaker when he persuaded Paul Crane to do the honors. Paul is now an assistant coach at the University of Alabama where he was an All-American center and linebacker. He also played linebacker for the New York Jets for several years and was a starter on their Super Bowl Championship Team.
Paul will make an interesting and inspiring talk, I’m sure. You might still be able to get a ticket. Check at the school or at The Courant office.
Incidentally, Paul likes to play golf and if the weather permits some of us intend to introduce him to the pine trees of the Evergreen Golf Club this afternoon.

Lyeffion’s QB meet tonight: The Lyeffion High School Quarterback Club will meet tonight at 7:30 at the school. All members and others interested in Yellow Jacket sports are urged to attend.

70 YEARS AGO
MAY 11, 1950

Greenies Open With Win Over Uriah-Booneville: The Evergreen Greenies opened their 1950 season with a 5-3 win over Uriah-Booneville here last Thursday afternoon in a Dixie Amateur League game. Playing behind the superb four-hit pitching of George “Lefty” Gaston, the Greenies took advantage of every scoring opportunity as they moved to a win in their first game.
Business manager Warren Bolton, holding down the third base position, opened up Evergreen’s half of the first inning with a homer over the left field bank at Brooks Stadium. After Herbert Thomas went down swinging, Gillis “Cripshot” Jones drew a free pass, stole second, went to third on an error and came home on Manager Edsel Johnson’s long fly to right field.
Uriah-Booneville produced a run in the second, E. Murphy coming across the platter on Lassiter’s double. Murphy had got on by a walk.
The Greenies added a marker in their half of the second. Bolton walked, Thomas singled, Jones grounded out and Johnson plated Bolton with a double to centerfield. The count was 3-1, Evergreen.
Uriah-Booneville counted once in the third and once in the fifth to knot the score. In the third, Aikens walked and scored on two successive errors. In the fifth, Coon opened with a triple and went home on P. Murphy’s single.
The Greenies won the game with runs in the sixth and seventh. Johnson smacked another double in the bottom half of the sixth and came home on an error. Jones singled in the seventh and moved around on a stolen base and wild pitch.
Both Gaston and White had four hitters, but Gaston was better in the clutch, bearing down to whiff 12 batters. White sent four Greenies back to the bench with their bats dragging. Gaston walked only three while White lost five batters on bad pitches.
Fielding was ragged on Evergreen’s part with five infield errors. Uriah-Booneville committed two bobbles. Edsel Johnson paced the Greenie hitters, with a pair of doubles.
Ernest Allen was behind the plate calling the balls and strikes. Arthur Mason made the decisions on the bases.

Monroeville Hands Locals First Defeat Sunday 7-4: Exploding for five runs in the fifth inning the league-leading Monroeville nine handed the Evergreen Greenies their first Dixie Amateur League defeat here Sunday by a 7 to 4 count.

82 YEARS AGO
MAY 12, 1938

Greenies Win One; Lose Five; Tie One: The baseball gods have declared war on the hapless Greenies. The gods have seen fit to let Lady Luck smile upon the Greenie opposition. The past week found the Greenies winning a lone game from the Union Springs Red Birds by an overwhelming score. The game started off with the Greenies grabbing seven runs in the first inning and coming back to end the scoring in the second setto with six more tallies. Every Greenie hitter hit at least one time with the exception of catcher Sumpf. Big Will Walls slammed out another homer to boost his batting average. Skipper Rice also connected for a homer. Lefty Goetz was in rare form when he slipped the third strike by eight Bird batsmen. Lefty limited the Birders to five scattered safeties.
On Friday night, the Greenies met the Panama City Pels in the Bay City only to see history repeat itself. The Pels shut out the Greenies by a 12-0 score.
Saturday, the Pels came to Evergreen for a return match with the Greenies and after trailing the Greenies they managed to come from behind and cause a three-all tie. The game was called at the end of the ninth because of darkness.
Sunday, the Greenies met the fast-improving Andalusia Rams in that city and after a wild game the Rams came out on top. The score stood 12 to 7 at the end of the ninth. Errors played a major part in the downfall of the Greenies.
Monday, the Greenies caught the Rams in a return match at Gantt Field. Again Lady Luck faced Andalusia squad. The ball bounced in every direction except the right one. Skipper Rice took a turn on the mound and should have had a tight ball game but the errors that were turned in caused his downfall. The Skipper and Spurlock paced the Greenie hitters, both banging out two hits. Spurlock connected for a triple.
Tuesday the Greenies met the Trojans in Troy and but for a two-base error would have added another game to their win column. The Trojans barely nosed out the Greenies with a six to five score. Bryant, new Greenie catcher, paced the Greenie hitters by collecting three base hits.
Wednesday afternoon, the Trojans slapped the Greenies by a 13 to 4 score. Chick Barranco, former Greenie found Spurlock out of position and slashed out a home run inside the park. Harbin and Harris led the Greenies with two safe blows. Hilcher and Middlebrooks got three and four respectively.