Thursday, July 31, 2014

Today in History for July 31, 2014

July 31, 1777 – French aristocrat Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, then age 19, was commissioned a major general in the Continental Army by the U.S. Congress – without pay. He would visit Claiborne in Monroe County on April 6, 1825.

July 31, 1806 – Rev. Pitts Milner, the founder of Georgiana, Ala., was born.

July 31, 1816 - Union General George H. Thomas, who deserves a share of the credit for the Union success in the west, was born in Southhampton County, Va.

July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred near the Watkins’ Plantation in Northern Alabama.

July 31, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. William F. Atchinson of Thomasville was killed in action.

July 31, 1930 - The radio mystery program “The Shadow” aired for the first time.

July 31, 1938 – The Dothan Browns baseball team beat the Evergreen Greenies, 10-0, in Dothan. Also that day, Evergreen’s amateur baseball team beat the Atmore prison team, 7-6, behind the pitching of Bill Seales and Wendell Hart.

July 31, 1964 - The first close-up photographs of the moon were sent back to Earth by Ranger 7.

July 31, 1990 - Nolan Ryan won the 300th game of his career, throwing 7-2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts to lead his Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

July 31, 1998 – Local weather reporter Harry Ellis reported a high temperature of 100 degrees in Evergreen.

Nine UFOs were reported in state of Alabama during the month of June 2014

It’s the last week of the month, so this week 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 June 1 and June 30 on MUFON’s website,, resulted in nine reports from within our state during that time, including one in Atmore.

The incident in Atmore occurred on Sun., June 29, around 9:30 p.m. The witness in this case had just parked his car at his house, and when he got out of the car, he saw a strange light about 500 feet or so above a tree near a school building. The witness described the strange light as an “orange, moving ball.” The light moved about one mile in 45 seconds and eventually disappeared, the witness said.

On Mon., June 2, around 9:42 p.m., a man and his young son saw a “bright, star-like object” over Bessemer, which is just outside Birmingham. They were loading something into the man’s car when they saw this strange object about 100 to 200 feet over the tree line. The object grew brighter, as bright as a car’s high beam headlights, and then began going up and down and moving in different directions. They watched the object for several minutes before it disappeared behind some trees.

The man called relatives across town to see if they could see it, but they could not. However, while on the phone, the caller watched as another “star-like” object appeared at a much higher altitude in the eastern sky. This object appeared to flash every three seconds and followed the path of the first object. His relative on the other end of the phone confirmed that he could see this object as well.

On the night of Tues., June 3, a husband and wife in Gardendale, a northern suburb of Birmingham, reported seeing a “massive, bright, glowing orb” moving slowly across the sky. The husband noticed that the object was moving much slower than other planes in the sky, and it appeared to be “emitting its own light source.” They watched the object for a few minutes before it eventually disappeared behind some trees.

On June 3 around 4:12 a.m., a man in Centreville, which is in Bibb County, was awoken by dogs that were “barking and growling fiercely” outside. The man went to a window, looked out and saw a “dull, orange orb” rise slowly out of a wooded area to the north. The object rose to about 100 feet over the tree line then began moving slowly to the northeast. The man watched the object for about two minutes until it disappeared behind some distant trees.

On Wed., June 4, around 9:15 p.m., another witness in Centreville reported seeing a “dull, red, glowing object” just above the treetops, traveling north. Several minutes later, the witness saw what appeared to be an “almost cross-shaped object” descend out of the western sky. This object was “dull red” and moved northeast above the trees.

On Thurs., June 5, around 4:12 a.m., the same witness in Centreville that reported seeing a UFO on June 3 saw a “very brightly lit object” that slowly passed almost directly over his house. The dogs in his yard were again barking wildly and growling, and when he went to see what was the matter, he saw a “very brightly lit object” approaching slowly and silently from the northwest. It eventually drew to within 20 feet of his house and was about 200 feet off the ground.

On Tues., June 17, around 9:20 p.m. in Gulf Shores, a man and three of his family members were sitting on a balcony facing the Gulf of Mexico and saw a “bright, orange light” to the south just above the horizon. This light appeared for only a few seconds and faded away. A few moments later, another orange light appeared to the southwest and then a few seconds later, a series of four more orange lights appeared. The lights eventually disappeared, but reappeared a little later further southwest. In all, the witnesses saw the lights for about five minutes.

On Wed., June 18, around 9 p.m., another witness in Gulf Shores reported seeing unusual lights over the Gulf. This witness was sitting on the beach with his family, and there was a thunderstorm out over the Gulf, far to the east in the direction of Florida. Suddenly, they saw a “reddish, orange ball of light” to the south that vanished as they watched. Two more lights appeared and were followed by six more. “I got the impression they were part of the same craft,” the witness said, but the craft would have had to have been several hundred feet long.

On Thurs., June 19, around 9:02 p.m., the man who reported seeing a UFO in Gulf Shores on June 17, saw the same sequence of unusual lights. However, this time, the lights seemed further away and less bright. This time a total of five family members watched the unusual lights.

Before closing out this week, I just want to put it out there again that I would be very interested to hear from anyone who have 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. You can contact me by e-mail at or by phone at 578-1492.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for July 31, 2014

Evergreen's Ottis Johnson
JULY 31, 1977

“These youngsters took part in Red Cross approved swimming lessons at the Murphy Club with Mrs. Fred (Alice) Stevens as instructor: IV Wolff, Jeff Brundage, Cynthia Pugh, Meredith Wilson, Dawn Baggett, Stacy Holmes, Kim Brooks, Amy Hendricks, Kenny Bledsoe, Abbie Till and Truman Hyde; Harold Jeffers, advanced beginner, David Jeffers, Donnie Jeffers, advanced beginners Leanne Wall, Rodney Pugh and Michael Bledsoe, and Tracy Holmes, Page Whatley and Kelly Whatley. Rob Stuart was not present when the picture was taken.”

“Peacock drowning shocks all county: The drowning Monday afternoon of Jerry Willard Peacock, 18, shocked this entire county.
“Jerry was a popular member of this year’s graduating class at Sparta Academy. He was an outstanding athlete and student and took an active part in all school and extra-curricular activities.”

JULY 26, 1962

“Sr. League Stars To Play Tonight: Evergreen Senior League President Byron Warren Sr. has announced that the League’s All-Star Game will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday night, July 26. Members of the champion Braves and the fourth-place Indians will oppose members of the second-place Tigers and the third-place Pirates. Each team will have 15 members.
“The Braves-Indians combination will be composed of Claude Aaron, Ronnie Jackson, Sammy Brown, Johnny Brown, Larry Ellis, Terry Coleman, Eddie Moseley and Grover Jackson of the Braves, and Jimmy Warren, Bob Ivey, Jimmy Ellis, Mike Minninger, Jimmy Weaver, Stan Coker and Paul Deason.
“The Tigers-Pirates aggregate includes Sid Lambert, Joe Sasser, Willie Mack Pate, Mitch Kilpatrick, Mike Fields, Wayne Tolbert, ‘Bubba’ Faulkner and Calvin Smith of the Tigers, and Benny Burt, Robert Rigsby, Steve Baggett, Scott Cook, Ronnie Hayes, George Fontaine and Eddie Thornley of the Pirates.
“The players were chosen by League officials.”

“EHS Loses Ramsey To Brookwood Hi; Allmon Is Named: Lewis Ramsey, assistant football coach and head baseball coach at Evergreen High School this past year, has resigned to accept a position as head coach at Brookwood High School, Tuscaloosa.
“The announcement is made today by Principal Morris Ward and Head Coach John Law Robinson. Both state that they regret very much to lose the services of Coach Ramsey, but at the same time rejoice in his promotion.
“Principal Ward termed Ramsey an excellent coach and fine teacher and said that he had rendered valuable service to the school program here.
“Robinson said that he had enjoyed working with Ramsey and found him to be not only a fine man in his profession, but also a wonderful leader of youth. Ramsey has worked in the city recreation program this summer concentrating on the junior and senior baseball programs.
“A new assistant has been named although he has not yet been officially confirmed by the County Board of Education. He is Fred Allmon, a 1962 graduate of Livingston State College.”

JULY 31, 1947

“Greenies Take Loop Lead; Play Here Today: By virtue of two victories last week, the Evergreen Greenies moved into first place with a slim lead of 1-1/2 games. With only nine games remaining to be played, the Greenies will have to hustle all the way in order to stay on top, since Atmore and Flomaton are still in striking distance.
“Atmore will furnish the opposition for the Greenies Thursday in a twin bill at Brooks Stadium. Manager Hart (11-2) and Edsel Johnson (4-0) are slated to start for the locals while ‘Root’ Lowery will send ‘Lefty” Vickery and Charlie Lowery to the mound for the visitors. Manager Dick Fore will bring his rejuvenated Flomaton nine to two for the week’s second doubleheader and will probably call on Gatlin and Vickery to handle the pitching chores. Manager Hart had not named his starters when this paper went to press. Game time for both Thursday and Sunday is two o’clock.
“Edsel Johnson ran his winning streak to four games last week as the Greenies came from behind in the last inning to down a stubborn Monroeville outfit, 5-4. Trailing 4-0 as the final stanza came around, the Greenies stated a five-run rally after Tolbert had lined to short for the first out. Carpenter started the fire works with a double and took third on Floyd’s muff of a grounder by White. Harper walked and McDonald grounded out to first, scoring Carpenter. Bolton then drew a free pass to fill the bases with two outs. Whit two strikes against him, Ottis Johnson, lined a base-cleaning triple into left field that tied the score. A single by Edsel Johnson drove in the winning tally and the ball game. Ottis and Edsel Johnson and Wade Nobles shared the batting honors with two bingles each.
“The Greenies came from behind again in the last frame of Sunday’s contest to rack up their twentieth win of the season against six setbacks. With two outs and nobody on board, Greenies started a five-run rally after Newell, Atmore shortstop, made a bad throw of Carpenter’s easy bounder. Edsel Johnson drove a single out into short right field and Carpenter held up at third. Ottis Johnson’s Texas Leaguer into left field cleared the bases and gave the Greenies a one-run margin. Carpenter and Ottis Johnson were the big offensive guns for the Greenies with four safeties equally divided between them while Edsel stole his eighth base of the season.”

JULY 28, 1932

“Evergreen Defeats Greenville 5 To 4 (From Greenville Advocate): What was probably one of the best ball games of the season was played on Black’s Field last Thursday when Evergreen defeated Greenville, 5-4. Greenville’s team made several errors in the first part of the game which were responsible for the first two scores made by Evergreen. With the exception of the errors made in the first few innings Greenville played ‘heads-up’ baseball. Evergreen also played a very good game. Greenville made 10 hits against Evergreen’s six. On the other hand the locals made six errors to the visitor’s three.
“Claude Dees, pitching for Greenville, played a game that would be a credit to anybody’s ball team. He struck out 14 men, got one hit, and made one run. He made two putouts and five assists.
“Tom Melton, Greenville’s catcher, played a very good game.
“Edward Howard, playing in left field, was in the game from the start. It was hit two-bagger in the fifth that brought Jones in for one of Greenville’s four scores.
“Claude Wilson, playing in center field, made one put out and one hit. He also got a free trip to first, being hit by a pitched ball.
“Willie Black, first baseman, played a good, consistent game, being credited with 10 put outs.
“Joe Stewart at second made two of the longest hits of the afternoon, both being good for two bases. Another time at the bat he hit a ball that fouled just out of the left field. This ball was the longest hit of the afternoon, and, had it been fair it would have been good for a home run.
“Foots Brown did good work at shortstop. He got two hits and made one run. Joe Hartley, in right field, got one hit. Sam Jones, at third, got two hits and made one run.
“The players in the field didn’t get a chance to enter into many of the plays as Dees allowed so few to be hit at all and only a very few went to the outfield.
“The Evergreen team, like the Greenville boys, all played a good game. Hyde pitched for the visitors and struck out six, allowing 10 hits. Moorer, shortstop, was outstanding in the infield. He was responsible for two put outs and six assists. Moorer made one run. Gaston, center field, made two, but didn’t get a hit. Dunn, first base, put out 12 men, got one hit and one run. Hansen, second base, got one hit, as did Gaston, third base and Northcutt, right fielder.
“Even though the breaks seemed to go against Greenville, the game was a clean, hard fought one, and one that pleased the fans.”

JULY 25, 1917

“Miss Roberta Johnston spent last week fishing down on the coast of Florida.”

Bullock County native Billy Hitchcock played nine seasons in the majors

Alabama's Billy Hitchcock
Alabama has a long, unique history when it comes to its connections with the sport of baseball. Today, July 31, is the birthday of baseball great William "Billy" Clyde Hitchcock, who was born in the tiny community of Inverness, which is in Bullock County, not far from Union Springs.

Hitchcock’s legacy has somewhat faded into the past these days, but in his heyday he was something else. When it comes to baseball, he pretty much did everything but sell peanuts at the game. He even played all four infield positions during his nine-year pro career.

Hitchcock made his Major League debut with the Detroit Tigers on April 14, 1942, but his baseball career was interrupted by World War II. Like a lot of pro ball players, Hitchcock served in the military during WWII, putting in three years with the Army Air Force in the Pacific theatre of the war.

The war ended in September 1945, and Hitchcock resumed his pro baseball career in 1946.

Hitchcock went on to play for the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Athletics, the St. Louis Browns and the Washington Senators before ending his career in 1953. His last official appearance as a Major League player was on Aug. 27, 1953 with the Detroit Tigers. His involvement in baseball didn’t end there however.

He went on to coach, manage and scout for various Major League teams and later served as the president of the Southern League, the minor league organization that now consists of such teams at the Mobile Bay Bears and the Montgomery Biscuits. Sadly, Hitchcock passed away in Opelika at the age of 89 on April 9, 2006.

Diehard Auburn football fans in the reading audience will be familiar with Hitchcock because he first became famous for his performances on the gridiron at Auburn. In fact, he was so good that he was an All-SEC tailback and led the Tigers to their first ever bowl game, the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba.

This game was somewhat historic because it marked the first time that two U.S. college football teams ever played outside the United States. Auburn played Villanova, and the game ended in a 7-7 tie. Hitchcock scored Auburn’s only touchdown on a 40-yard run in the first quarter.

Interestingly, Hitchcock’s older brother, Jimmy, was also an outstanding athlete and was Auburn’s first All-American in both baseball and football. Nicknamed “The Phantom of Union Springs,” he played quarterback, running back and punted at Auburn and helped lead the team to a SEC title in 1932. After college, he played seven seasons of pro baseball for the Boston Bees, which later became the Atlanta Braves.

When his playing days were done, he went back to Auburn and was the head baseball coach and an assistant football coach. Like his younger brother, he also served in the military during WWII, spending his years in the service with the U.S. Navy. Jimmy Hitchcock would precede his brother in death, passing away at the untimely age of 47 on July 23, 1959.

If you go to a baseball game in Auburn today, you’ll be watching the game at Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park. In 2003, Auburn added “Hitchcock Field” to the venue’s name in honor of both Hitchcock brothers. 

Daily Weather Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., July 31, 2014

Temp: 65.5 degrees.

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Humidity: 79 percent (Normal)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies and sunny; birds, cows, dogs and crickets audible; bees audible and visible; dew on the ground.

Barometric Pressure: 29.53 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 2.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.65  inches

NOTES: Today is the 212th day of 2014 and the 41st day of Summer. There are 153 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Historical marker describes Old Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama

'Old Oakwood Cemetery' historical marker in Montgomery.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “OLD OAKWOOD CEMETERY” marker in downtown Montgomery, Ala. This marker is located just inside the main entrance to Oakwood Cemetery on Columbus Street in Montgomery.

This marker was erected by the Alabama Historical Association and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. The marker doesn’t indicate the year that it was erected. There’s text on both sides of this marker, and both sides are different. What follows is the complete text from the marker.

----- 0 -----

OLD OAKWOOD CEMETERY: The city cemetery was begun by donations of land from Andrew Dexter in 1817 and from General John Scott in 1818. Dexter and Scott had founded separate villages which combined to form Montgomery in 1819. The early part of the graveyard was known as Scott’s Free Burying Ground. The cemetery was open to all of Montgomery’s people. Many of the soldiers and prominent statesmen who shaped our history as well as ordinary citizens, hanged felons, and unknowns rest in Old Oakwood. Nearly 140 acres in size, the cemetery has no more lots for sale. (Continued on other side).

OLD OAKWOOD CEMETERY (Continued from other side): Oakwood Cemetery, consisting of Scott’s Free Burying Ground, Plats 1, 2, 3, and 4, and the old Catholic and Jewish cemeteries, is filled with the history of this City, State and area. Those who pioneered the wilderness, made the early decisions, formed our government, promulgated our law, bore arms when necessary, and experienced the hardships and successes of our growth rest here. Having passed the torch of progress to us, many of those who were a living and integral part of our history and heritage have at last found safe harbor, in Old Oakwood.

----- 0 -----

I encountered this historical marker a few months ago when I went to visit the grave of Hank Williams Sr., which is just down the street in the Oakwood Cemetery Annex. That part of the property also includes the graves of 78 officers and men of the Royal Air Force who died in Montgomery while training during World War II. If you've never been to see this for yourself, I recommend you check it out when you get a chance.

While there, I also took a quick drive through the Old Oakwood Cemetery, which is huge compared to most cemeteries. In one portion of the cemetery, you’ll find a large section containing the graves of 724 Confederate veterans. The ground in that portion of the cemetery is somewhat steep, which I also found to be another unusual feature of this old cemetery.

I plan to go back to this old cemetery some day with my camera because I learned later that the historical marker described above is just one of many on the property. I could see some of them from afar on the day of my earlier visit, but I didn’t take the time to check them out.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below.

Today in History for July 30, 2014

Congressman Frank Boykin
July 30, 1813 – General Ferdinand L. Claiborne and his Mississippi militia reached Mount Vernon and learned that settlers had constructed Fort White, a small defensive fort a short distance northeast of Grove Hill in Clarke County, for defense against Red Stick raids.

July 30, 1838 - A rain of frogs fell in London, England.

July 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, at the Battle of the Crater, the Union’s attempt to break the Confederate lines at Petersburg, Va., by blowing up a huge cache of gunpowder at the end of a 500-foot tunnel they had dug under the Rebel trenches, failed. Although the explosion created a gap in the Confederate defenses, a poorly planned Yankee attack wasted the effort and the result was an eight-month continuation of the siege.

July 30, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Lessee L. Veasey of Andalusia was killed in action.

July 30, 1935 – Congressman Frank Boykin was first elected to Congress to fill the unexpired term of Monroe Countian John McDuffie who had resigned from office. Boykin went on to represent the district in Washington for the next 53 years.

July 30, 1936 – The Southwestern Division of the Medical Association met at First Baptist Church on the Square in Monroeville.

July 30, 1938 – The Bermuda baseball team beat Lenox, 22-5.

July 30, 1945 - On this day in 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped a week later at Hiroshima to Tinian Island in the South Pacific.

July 30, 1947 – At the L.D. King Mill in Conecuh County, a fire broke out near a boiler shortly after noon and did considerable damage to machinery and equipment before being brought under control by the fire department.

July 30, 1975 - Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. He was last seen in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, near Detroit, and was declared dead in 1982.

July 30, 1999 – “The Blair Witch Project”, a low-budget, independent horror film that will become a massive hit, is released in U.S. theaters.

Daily Weather Observations from SW Alabama for Wed., July 30, 2014

Temp: 64.2 degrees.

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Humidity: 75 percent (Normal)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies and sunny; birds audible and visible; dragonflies visible; crickets audible.

Barometric Pressure: 29.56 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 2.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.65  inches

NOTES: Today is the 211th day of 2014 and the 40th day of Summer. There are 154 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How many of these Seymour Medal winners have you read?

Recently, I read a great book called “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die” by Ron Kaplan. Throughout this book, Kaplan makes reference to the Seymour Medal, and honestly, I’d never heard of this book award before reading Kaplan’s book.


As it turns out, the Seymour Medal is awarded each year by the Society of American Baseball Research to honor the best book of baseball history or biography published during the preceding calendar year. Named after Dr. Harold and Dorothy Seymour, the first Seymour Medal was awarded in 1996.


What follows is a complete list of the all-time winners:


2014 – “Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend” by Gerald C. Wood
2013 – “Banzai Babe Ruth” by Robert K. Fitts
2012 – “Fenway 1912” by Glenn Stout
2011 – “1921” by Lyle Spatz and Steve Steinberg

2010 – “Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend” by Larry Tye
2009 – “Chief Bender's Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star” by Tom Swift
2008 – “Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman” by Lee Lowenfish
2007 – “A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball” by Peter Morris
2006 – “Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game” by David Block

2005 – “Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution” by Neil Lanctot
2004 – “Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan” by Peter Morris
2003 – “Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era” by Charles C. Alexander
2002 – “Early Baseball and the Rise of the National League” by Tom Melville
2001 – “Past Time: Baseball as History” by Jules Tygiel

2000 – “Baseball's Pivotal Era: 1945-1951” by William Marshall
1999 – “Baseball's Last Dynasty: Charlie Finley's Oakland A's” by Bruce Markusen
1998 – “The Detroit Tigers: Club and Community, 1945-95” by Patrick Harrigan
1997 – “Honus Wagner, the Life of Baseball's ‘Flying Dutchman’” by Arthur D. Hittner
1996 – “Fleet Walker's Divided Heart” by David Zang

In the end, how many of these Seymour Medal winners have you read over the years? Which did you like or dislike? Which is your personal favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for July 29, 2014

July 29, 1862 - Confederate spy Marie Isabella "Belle" Boyd was arrested by Union troops and detained at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C.

July 29, 1862 - The Confederate cruiser, “Alabama,” (known in Britain as “Enrica”) left Liverpool, unarmed, ostensibly on a trial run. On July 31, she proceeded from the Irish Sea into the Atlantic for a rendezvous to receive her arms and ammunition before commencing her attacks on Federal commerce shipping.

July 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes occurred at Law’s Landing and Old Deposit Ferry, Ala.

July 29, 1864 – Robert W. McCants, who served with the Monroe County Militia in Beats 8 and 9 and with Co. C of the 5th Alabama Regiment, enlisted in the Confederate army. He is buried in the Bells Landing Presbyterian Cemetery in Tinela.

July 29, 1865 – John DeLoach was commissioned for his third term as Monroe County’s Circuit Court Clerk, and Samuel H. Dailey was commissioned as Monroe County’s Sheriff.

July 29, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. James F. Smith of Brewton “died from wounds.”

July 29, 1946 – James Conrad Marshall was born on this day in Monroeville. On Jan. 31, 1968, he would be killed while defending the American Embassy in Vietnam as a United States Marine Corps Corporal.

July 29, 1972 – Army Col. Philip Doyle Sellers of Greenville was killed in action in Vietnam. 

Daily Weather Observations from SW Alabama for Tues., July 29, 2014

Temp: 72.0 degrees.

Rainfall (past 24 hours): Trace.

Humidity: 76 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies and sunny; bees audible and visible; birds and crickets audible; dew on the ground.

Barometric Pressure: 29.51 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 2.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.65  inches

NOTES: Today is the 210th day of 2014 and the 39th day of Summer. There are 155 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 165: Visit Consolation Church in Butler County

Consolation Church in Butler County, Ala.
The first I ever heard about Consolation Church in Butler County was in a great book that came out last year called “Haunted Alabama Black Belt” by David Higdon and Brett Talley. Shortly thereafter, I put a trip to this supposedly haunted location on my “bucket list” and officially scratched it off the list on Saturday.

Consolation Church is located east of Georgiana and McKenzie on Oakey Streak Road, which is off Butler County Road 59, near the Butler-Covington County line. According to “Haunted Alabama Black Belt” and The Greenville Advocate newspaper there are a wide variety of unusual stories about this old church and cemetery, which has been described as a “paranormal magnet.”

The most common story about the location involves a banshee, who supposedly can be heard wailing and crying. Others say the banshee can be heard screaming and whimpering. Those who claim to have seen her say she looks like an old woman, while others say that she looks like a young, beautiful girl. Legend has it that if you’re standing inside the church and hear the banshee, it means that someone inside the church will die soon.

Another story about the location involves red-eyed “hellhounds” that are said to walk the grounds of the old cemetery, which contains graves that date way back into the early 1800s. Some claimed to have seen red eyes in the tree line at various spots around the church, especially near the cemetery, and others say that they have heard the “demon howls” of these ghostly hounds.
Another common ghost story about the location involves a small boy with a ball, who is sometimes heard laughing in and around the church. Often accompanied by the sudden rush of cold air, this boy will supposedly roll his ball to you. The story goes that if you pick up the ball and roll it back to the boy, you'll die soon thereafter.

Some visitors have also claimed to have seen the ghost of a small girl skipping down the short road to the church from Oakey Streak Road. Supposedly, if you watch the girl long enough, you’ll see her disappear just before she reaches the church. Like the boy, the girls doesn’t say a word, but occasionally you can hear her laugh.

Another common tale about this location involves a black 1964 Ford pickup and its ghostly driver. This truck is said to appear out of nowhere if you linger too long at the church on a night when there’s a full moon. Supposedly, this truck will chase you and if it catches you, it’ll cause your vehicle to crash, killing everyone inside.

Also, a number of Civil War veterans are buried in the Consolation Church cemetery, and some visitors have claimed to have heard the sounds of phantom horsemen in the area. Some say these restless souls continue to ride into battle long after the end of the war.
If you go to the church today, you’ll also notice an old-timey outhouse behind the church building. Supposedly, if you enter the outhouse, the door will shut behind you and you'll become locked inside. You’ll remain trapped there until someone on the outside lets you out.

I paid a visit to this old church on Saturday morning and spent about 30 minutes there, just looking around. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary or supernatural, but I can say that the place does have an unusual vibe to it. It’s hard to verbalize why, but the Consolation Church property reminded me a lot of the Bladon Springs Cemetery in Choctaw, which is also supposedly haunted.

If you decide to visit the Consolation Church on your own, be forewarned. It is a very remote part of Butler County and is somewhat difficult to find. It’s also located off a dirt road that’s unmarked and that has seen better days. Also, if you do visit this place, remember that it’s a church and cemetery, so please be respectful of your surroundings.

In the end, how many of you have ever been to Consolation Church in Butler County? What did you think about it? Did you experience anything unusual there? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for July 28, 2014

Cpl. Sidney E. Manning
July 28, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes occurred at Guntersville and Stevenson, Ala.

July 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Ezra Church began in Georgia as Confederates under General John Bell Hood make a third attempt to break General William T. Sherman's hold on Atlanta.

July 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, a two-day Federal operation began in the vicinity of Cedar Bluff, Ala.

July 28, 1918 – U.S. Army Cpl. Sidney Earnest Manning of Flomaton would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on this day near Breuvannes, France. Army Cpl. Walter Wallace of Garland and Army Pvt. Robert G. McArthur of Brewton were killed in action on this day during World War I.

July 28, 1941 – Aug. 2, 1941 - One of the largest troop movements ever to pass through Evergreen was seen when the 31st (Dixie) Division, composed of National Guard units from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana passed through the area en route to the maneuvers at Dry Prong, La. The group consisted of about 6,000 trucks and 18,000 men. The total length of each echelon was 66 miles, so that as the last truck was passing through Evergreen each day, the first one was entering Grove Hill.

July 28, 1991 - Dennis Martinez, 36, of the Montreal Expos pitched a perfect game to lead his team to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the 15th perfect game in Major League history.

July 28, 1999 – Six historic locations in Clarke County, Ala. were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Those locations included the Bush House at 168 North Church Street in Grove Hill (built in 1912); the Stephen Beech Cleveland House, also known as The Lodge, in Suggsville (built in 1860); the John A. Coate House, located on Dubose Street in Grove Hill (built in 1855); the Cobb House in Grove Hill (built in 1865); the Gainestown Methodist Church and Cemetery in Gainestown; and the Jesse Pickens Pugh Farmstead, a 289-acre homestead near Grove Hill.

Daily Weather Observations from SW Alabama for Mon., July 28, 2014

Temp: 77.5 degrees.

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Humidity: 80 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies and sunny; dogs audible; bees audible and visible; dew on the ground.

Barometric Pressure: 29.54 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 2.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.65  inches

NOTES: Today is the 209th day of 2014 and the 38th day of Summer. There are 156 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Today in History for July 27, 2014

William Lowndes Yancey
July 27, 1813 – The Battle of Burnt Corn Creek occurred 13 miles south of Belleville, Ala. when a group of about 80 Red Stick Creek Indians under the command of Peter McQueen were ambushed by American forces under the command of Col. James Caller and Capt. Dixon Bailey. McQueen and his men were returning from Pensacola, where they had secured supplies and arms from the Spanish and British. The Battle of Burnt Corn Creek is considered the first engagement of the Creek Indian War of 1813-1814 and is generally considered to have been a Red Stick victory.

July 27, 1862 – During the Civil War, a four-day Federal operation between Woodville and Guntersville, Ala. began.

July 27, 1863 – During the Civil War, Confederates attacked the steamer, “Paint Rock,” near Bridgeport, Ala.

July 27, 1863 - Confederate and ardent secessionist William Lowndes Yancey died of kidney disease at the age of 48 at his home near Montgomery, Ala. The main author of Alabama's ordinance of secession, which removed Alabama from the Union, Yancey was one of the leading "fire-eaters" who influenced southern states to secede.

July 27, 1864 – On this day during the Civil War, the Federal Navy carried out reconnaissance of lower Mobile Bay.

July 27, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Everett H. Brown of Brewton was killed in action, and Army Cpl. Alexander A. Loyd (sometimes spelled “Lloyd”) of Eliska “died from wounds.” Loyd was buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France. (Some sources also say Loyd was killed in action on July 25, 1918.)

July 27, 1932 – During the Great Depression, following a run of withdrawals, the Peoples Bank of Evergreen closed its doors at 10 a.m. and upon unanimous vote of its board of directors, its affairs were turned over to the state for liquidation. The bank was founded in 1901 and merged with the First National Bank of Evergreen on June 10, 1930.

July 27, 1947 – The Evergreen Greenies beat Atmore, 5-4, in Atmore.

July 27, 1956 - The Fairview Drive-In Theatre, owned by Olin Evans, opened near Evergreen. The first movie shown at the theater was “White Feather,” staring Robert Wagner and Debrah Padget.

Packers Bend shotgun killing tops Monroe Co. news headlines in July 1939

Amasa Coleman "A.C." Lee
Seventy-five years ago this month, in July 1939, 59-year-old Amasa Coleman “A.C.” Lee was the editor of The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville, Ala. E.M. Salter was the business manager. During that month, these two men published four issues of The Journal, and what follows are a few news highlights from each of those editions. Enjoy.

JULY 6, 1939

The Monroeville and Milton baseball teams will meet on the local diamond this afternoon (Thursday) in a game that should be a classic, as Stewart, the sensational pitcher of the Milton team will hook up with “Big Bill” Zuber, Monroeville’s ace.
Both pitchers as well as the other players have been playing sensational ball recently. Come out and see a good game on the local ball diamond.

Monroeville Chapter No. 155 O.E.S. cordially invites the Masons to attend their installation at the hall on July 11 at eight o’clock P.M.

Mrs. Joan Bohannon, more commonly known as “Aunt Joan” to everyone, was complimented with a reunion given at the home of her daughter, Mrs. R.A. Harris, in Mineola Sun., July 2. Many friends gathered to honor this aged lady as well as the host of relatives, including members of as high as the fourth generation.

Boll Weevils Becoming Serious: Reports received from many parts of the State indicate boll weevils are quite numerous in cotton fields at the present time, W.A. Ruffin, entomologist of the Alabama Extension Service, said today.

Good prices were paid for cattle and hogs at the last sale held at the Beatrice Stockyard on June 27.

Harold Conn, Uriah, high school sophomore, learned last week that he had been awarded a $25 cash prize in a national essay contest conducted by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on the subject “Farming of Tomorrow on Rubber.”

JULY 13, 1939

A series of revival meetings will begin at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on Sun., July 16, at 11 o’clock A.M. Rev. Q.E. Wells of Atmore, will do the preaching.

The Monroeville and Frisco City baseball teams will play a scheduled game here next Sunday afternoon. “Big Bill” Zuber will be on the mound for Monroeville, and Digman, Frisco City’s slab artist, will do the hurling for the visitors.

Three new residences are being built in Monroeville and carpenters are really making good headway on these jobs. Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Redoch are erecting a new home in the northern part of town. Mr. Dayton Russell is building a new home near the high school, and started only about two weeks ago, the frame work has practically been finished. This week the roof is being finished and the interior work is going ahead on a residence being built by Mr. J.S. Burns.

The residence of Mr. E.R. Green of Burnt Corn was completely destroyed by fire early last Thursday night. All household effects were also consumed by the flames.
Mr. and Mrs. Green and their daughter had gone to a neighbor’s house nearby for a short visit Thursday evening, and in a few minutes after their arrival, they discovered a fire in the direction of their home. Before they could return and save any of their furnishings, the roof had fallen in. Mr. Green saved his automobile and school bus, which were in the garage near the dwelling.

JULY 20, 1939

A Negro named John Lucas shot and instantly killed another Negro, Ben Kidd, at Packers Bend Monday afternoon.
The two Negroes got into an argument over a dog. Lucas obtained a shotgun and fired a load of buckshot into Kidd’s chest and face, killing him instantly.
Wilcox County officers arrested Lucas and placed him in jail. Sheriff J.L. Bowden was immediately notified and went to Camden early Tuesday morning and brought Lucas to the Monroeville jail, where he will await trial on a charge of murder.

A distributor truck of the W.L. Cobb Construction Co. was completely demolished last Thursday by flames, following an explosion. The truck was near the L&N Railroad station in Beatrice when the explosion occurred. The driver of the truck, Preston Holliday, and his helpers escaped injury.
The truck was emptying its tank of the surplus of prime, the tar mixture used in blacktopping the road. Work had been completed on the highway between Tunnel Springs and Beatrice, and the truck was preparing to leave.
Cause of the explosion is not known. With the aid of Beatrice men, the fire was extinguished after an hour of shoveling sand.

The Monroe County Masonic Conference will convene with Alabama Lodge No. 3 at Monroeville, Ala. on Thurs., Aug. 3, 1939 at nine o’clock A.M., Mr. Joe Southall from Mobile, conducting. The Masons from each lodge in the county are especially invited to attend.
W.S. Nash, Sec.
Monroe County Conference

JULY 27, 1939

Frisco City will be the opponents of the Monroeville baseball team here Sunday afternoon. Lee Smith, a new addition to the mound corps, will be on the firing line for Monroeville.
The rampaging Frisco Citians have a fine team and always play a good game. Monroeville’s team wants you to come out and lend your encouragement to show Frisco City “a thing or two.”

Work Continues On Local Paving Project: A power shovel was put on the job Monday morning to speed up the grading work on the one-mile stretch west of the Square. In preparing this section of the road, it is being made several feet wider.
Just how long it will take to finish this project has not been determined, but chances are that it will be ready for the priming coat before winter.

Cotton is beginning to open over the county and indications are that picking will begin unusually early this year.
Well developed open bolls have been sent to The Journal office by A.R. Buroughs of Perdue Hill and W.J. Knight of Hybart.

Brick masons were put to work on laying the foundation for the new hotel last week. This new building will be erected on the site formerly occupied by the Commercial Hotel. This building will be a brick veneer and will contain about 30 guest rooms.

Final Coat Being Applied To Highway: The final coat is being applied to the stretch of highway between Peterman and the top of the Faulkenberry Hill this week. Gravel has already been placed on the section of road between this point and Beatrice.
South of Monroeville, priming has been put on the highway between Megargel and Uriah, and this piece of road will soon be ready for another application of asphalt and slag, or gravel. With the completion of this work to Little River, indications are that paving work will be started soon beginning at State Farm and run north to Little River. With this work completed, this section will have a paved road all the way south to Pensacola, Mobile and other points.

With the exception of a 12-mile strip between Beatrice and Old Texas, the highway is paved north toward Montgomery.

Daily Weather Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., July 27, 2014

Temp: 76.1 degrees.

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Humidity: 81 percent (Humid)

Conditions: Partly Cloudy skies; birds and dogs audible; dew on the ground; small mushrooms visible in the grass.

Barometric Pressure: 29.55 inHg.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.45 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 2.10 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 2.30 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 45.65  inches

NOTES: Today is the 208th day of 2014 and the 37th day of Summer. There are 157 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Today in History for July 26, 2014

Troy David Jenkins
July 26, 1775 - The U.S. postal system was established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general.

July 26, 1862 - Skirmish occurred at Spangler’s Mill, near Jonesborough, Ala.

July 26, 1863 - Confederate cavalry leader John Hunt Morgan and 360 of his men are captured at Salineville, Ohio, during a spectacular raid on the North.

July 26, 1864 – Confederate Major General Dabney H. Maury was assigned command of the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana, headquartered in Mobile, Ala.

July 26, 1914 – The L&N Railroad began running a new train between Georgiana and Flomaton, where it connected with regular trains running to Mobile and Pensacola. The new train left Georgiana at 6 a.m. with the trains departing from Mobile and Pensacola at 4 p.m. This allowed patrons to transact business in Mobile and Pensacola or at any point along the line and return home the same day.

July 26, 1918 – During World War I,  Army Cpl. James E. Hendrix of Roy (Frisco City), Army Pvt. Horace Rigsby of Georgiana and Army Pvt. William T. Cheatham of Greenville were killed in action. Also on this day, Army Pvt. James Boggan of Atmore “died from wounds” during World War I.

July 26, 1921 – Humorist Jean Shepherd was born in Chicago, Ill. The 1983 movie, “A Christmas Story,” is based on his 1967 book, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.”

July 26, 1951 – During the Korean War, Army PFC Isaac Lee Jr. of Monroe County was killed in action.

July 26, 1952 - Alabama Senator John Sparkman was named the Democratic vice-presidential running mate with Adlai Stevenson. Sparkman was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Alabama in 1936 and served in that body until 1946 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1979. The Democratic ticket lost the election to Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

July 26, 1959 - Alabama author Rick Bragg was born in Piedmont, Ala.

July 26, 1962 – Lewis Ramsey, head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Evergreen High School, resigned to accept head coaching position at Brookwood High School in Tuscaloosa.

July 26, 1977 – Troy David Jenkins was born in Phoenix, Az. Jenkins grew up in Evergreen, Ala., graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1995, and was fatally wounded in April 2003 while serving in Iraq.

Singleton recounts his not so fond memories of Camp Shelby, Miss.

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 “Memories of Camp Shelby: always hot, dry or wet,” was originally published in the Oct. 8, 1987 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

Camp Shelby, Miss. is a unique place. There are things to be found there that cannot be found anywhere else on the face of the earth – such as red bugs and small ticks that can bite like an alligator. Also, no where else can the humidity stay at an even 99 percent for days at a time.

Camp Shelby came into being during the great military build up just prior to the Second World War. What started out in a scrub-oak and pine thicket in the days before the war turned out to be the largest military base east of the Mississippi River.

Camp Shelby boasted of over three quarters of a million men during the height of the European-theater action. Camp Shelby was the debarkation point for all of Europe and North Africa.

During the heavy fighting across Belgium and Holland, as many as six troop trains a day departed Camp Shelby, carrying thousands of soldiers to their date with destiny. Many who boarded the troop trains there at Camp Shelby never returned.

In the closing days of the war, Camp Shelby became a mustering-out point for the soldiers returning from the war. Many who were fortunate enough to make it back to the shores of America were released from the Army at Camp Shelby.

As the huge Army post was gradually phased out, the scrubby pines and the palmetto claimed the land once again. Then someone had the wise idea that it would be profitable to bring the many National Guard units to Camp Shelby for training. This would help the local economy and bring much-needed funds into the area. This is where my story begins.

As administrator for the Army National Guard, I was destined to go to Camp Shelby many times. My visits were always at the hottest, driest or wettest time of the year. There have been no in-betweens.

Always, just prior to my arrival, the largest, meanest redbugs come out of hiding. Each is like a great bear that has been asleep all winter and wakes up, eating everything in sight.

Then there is the weather. Always it rains and the humidity skyrockets. Some years back when Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast, there I was, at Camp Shelby. That Sunday afternoon and night were among the longest of my lifetime. Several times that night, I thought it might all end here, right in the middle of the place that I disliked so much. What a shame, I thought. Of all the many places in the world that I had been, the end might come right here in the pine and scrub-oak thickets of South Mississippi.

I have returned many times since that frightful Sunday night, each time battling the ticks, redbugs and horseflies. Always looking forward to the day to pack up and move out.

But all is not in vain, June 27 marked my final departure from dear old Camp Shelby. If all goes well, before the time comes around again to return to this garden spot deep in the heart of Mississippi, I will have stood my last roll call and retired from the military.

With this thought in mind, as I approached the south gate of the reservation, I stopped and proceeded to kiss the gatepost a final farewell. The military policeman on duty there looked at me awfully strangely. I guess I should have explained to him what the occasion was.

As I headed toward Alabama and home, the words of this little known poet kept passing through my mind.

Pass in review all the memories
That dwell within my soul.
For the time has come to bid
Farewell, and the voices of the
Past cry out to be remembered.

And if I should, by mistake, remember
This place, may I be kicked in the
Head by a mule, and the fleas of a
Thousand camels infest my armpits.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. 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.)