Sunday, May 31, 2015

Brantley's 'Early History of the Alabama Baptist Orphanage' - Part I

(In October 1978, The Evergreen Courant newspaper in Evergreen, Ala. published a lengthy, three-part series of historical articles called the “Early History of the Alabama Baptist Orphanage.” Written by Mary E. Brantley, the first installment of these articles appeared in the Oct. 12, 1978 edition of The Courant. The other two installments appeared in the Oct. 19, 1978 and Oct. 26, 1978 editions of The Courant, respectively. What follows is Part I in its entirety. Enjoy.)

Lest we forget, Evergreen had the honor of having the first Baptist Orphanage located in her vicinity for a period of 30 years.

The idea of establishing a Baptist Orphanage in Alabama was conceived the year 1863. The Civil War brought a destitute condition all over the State and it was not until the 1890 Baptist Convention which met in Fort Deposit, that a committee was appointed to draw up resolutions to be reported back to the Convention.

On hearing the plans for establishing an Orphanage in Alabama, Mrs. Maria (L.B.) Woodson of Selma offered to convey some property valued at $30,000 to the Convention to be held in trust until her death and that she would receive the income from this property during her lifetime. The 1891 Convention accepted this gift with gratitude and at this meeting a Board of Trustees was appointed to advertise for bids from different places desiring the Home and that all pastors appeal for help.

A financial depression during the years 1892 and 1893 did not make this an opportune time for undertaking such a project. There was little interest in this appeal.

From the “Memorial History of the Baptists of Alabama” by B.F. Riley, we read: “Rev. J.W. Stewart agreed without a cent, he would locate a Home temporarily, somewhere, and would get a Godly woman as a matron. Since Rev. Stewart was willing to test this project, he was authorized to do so, and on his return to Evergreen, where he was pastor, he rented a small house, wrote to Mrs. Clara W. Ansley of Butler County to come and take charge of the Orphanage. When three little children appeared, the Baptist Orphans Home of Evergreen opened March 8, 1893.”

In a paper prepared by Dr. L.L. Gwaltney on the life of Rev. John W. Stewart, we find a quotation by Rev. Stewart: “I was pastor of the Evergreen Baptist Church. I furnished a house to shelter the first installment of children. The dilapidated house near the church had been turned over to me as a pastor’s home, but I had just married and I did not want to live in that, so I provided another home for my family and put my new family to be gathered up (the orphans) in the cottage by the church. Birds could easily fly through the roof of the little house. I have often seen the feet of the children plunge through the floor as they were scampering up and down the veranda, but when it is remembered that there was a strong kind woman inside, it was much better than out of doors.” It is thought that this cottage was known as the Weiss house.

Rev. Stewart was made financial secretary and agent for the Home, Mrs. Clara W. Ansley, matron, and Mrs. Jennie Cannon, housekeeper. By November, 21 children had been admitted. A sum of $1,152.43 had been received in cash and other gifts had been sent during this time. The cost per child was about $8 per month. Another cottage had been rented and the trustees were looking for a permanent home for the children.

The name of Louise Short Baptist Widows’ and Orphans’ Home was the name of the charter granted by the Legislature in 1891 because of the gift of Mrs. Woodson, who gave this as a memorial for her mother.

According to the 1894 Convention report given by Dr. A.H. Reid in his book: “Baptists in Alabama” from which most of this article is taken told of the purchase of the Old Rabb Residence with 80 acres of land at $5,000, payable in three annual installments. The first installment would be due on the first day of January, or soon thereafter, when possession was given and the children moved in.

The Rabb residence contained 10 rooms and was a substantial brick structure with some brick outbuildings and was adjacent to the school property known as the Southwestern Alabama Agricultural School on Main Street.

By 1894, 33 children had been admitted to the Home and three had been let out for adoption. It was recommended that every church take an offering for the Home in December to help pay for the buildings and the grounds.

In 1895, the Charter was amended to increase the number of trustees to nine with five of them living in Evergreen. Fourteen children were received this year, eight were sent out for adoption, leaving 35 in the home.

In 1896, the report showed 47 children during the year with 12 adopted. In 1897, the report showed that all school age children attended the Evergreen schools. However, as soon as a school building could be erected on the grounds, all elementary children were taught at the Home but all high school students attended the school next door.

During the first six years, the trustees reported a total of 101 children had been served. In 1899, the garden and field crop was badly damaged by a drought and by hail and food became scarce.

In 1900, the trustees reported there were 66 children in the Home and that $5,820.72 in cash and gifts of clothing and other supplies had been donated. Up until this time, the boys and girls were housed in the same building but a dormitory for girls was urgent and $7,000 was needed to build one and this became a reality in 1902. Seventh-eight children were served that year.

An item appeared in The Evergreen Courant of 1900: “The first death to occur in the Orphanage was a boy, Charles Prather, about 15 years old, in February 1900. As of July 18, 1900, two boys and two girls at the Baptist Orphanage in Evergreen had died. One hundred and thirty-five children had been taken in from 30 counties.” There is a plot in the Old Evergreen Cemetery where a number of the children are buried. Some of the graves have sunken in and no names are on these but there are markers for many of them.

Dr. Reid tells us that the training within the Home was intended to be that of a well-regulated Christian family, the children were required to perform duties, according to their ability, to go to school and attend Sunday School and church.

The boys worked in the fields, which were supervised by Mr. W.A. Davis. His home was down the lane which separated the school property from the Home property. One of the old McCreary homes was also located at the end of this lane. There were horses and mules to be cared for and cows to be milked. In fact, there was much work to be done.

Miss Annie Pearl Cunningham was employed as the seamstress and sewing teacher. When sewing machines became available to the Home, the older girls made all their clothes.

A Board of Visitors was composed of the Ladies of the Evergreen Baptist Church. They visited the Home once weekly to inspect the management and make suggestions for improvements. These ladies raised $75 with which to purchase a much needed cooking range. The citizens of Evergreen also raised $15 and purchased a much needed milk cow.

In 1908, some differences arose between Superintendent Stewart and some of the trustees and Stewart resigned and became financial agent of the Home for one year, after which he and his family moved to Birmingham.

Let’s digress a moment and think of the life of Rev. John W. Stewart as told by Dr. L.L. Gwaltney: “Rev. Stewart was born in Randolph County, Ala., Feb. 20, 1854. His father was Milton Alexander Stewart and his mother was Jane Homes (Stewart). He was of sturdy, Scotch-Irish stock, his paternal grandmother having been born in Dublin, Ireland. He was married on Oct. 1, 1891 to Mary Leigh Cook.”

Mary Leigh Cook was the daughter of John W. Cook (1847-1901) and Elizabeth Henderson Cook (1850-1919). They are buried in the Old Evergreen Cemetery. Mary Leigh Cook had two brothers: J. Henderson and Lewis Cook. She was organist for the Baptist Church at Evergreen when Rev. Stewart became pastor, even though she had not joined the Church at that time. Later, Rev. Stewart baptized her and still later they were married. She was always a faithful helpmate and companion and entered into all his sorrows and joys.

Rev. Stewart’s early education was greatly neglected. According to Dr. Gwaltney’s article: “He had passed his ninth birthday before he entered school out in the country in Fayette County where his parents had moved from Randolph County. Through the help of friends he graduated from Howard College and also Southern Baptist Seminary.”

“After graduation, he became pastor of the Norwood Baptist Church in Birmingham, then later served the Church at Orrville and then Evergreen. It was here that he conceived the idea of founding a Home for orphan children.”

From notes on Dr. Reid’s “Baptists in Alabama,” we know that five men served as Superintendents of the Home from 1909 to 1916: J.A. Brooks, J.W. Dunaway, M.C. Reynolds, C.C. Smith and A.G. Spinks. Some of these men only served a few months and others a few years. In 1913, the home began to receive more children and by 1917 the number had increased to 160. Mr. G.R. Farnham was President of the Board of Managers.

Mrs. Mary Louise Woodson, who made the first donation in 1891, died at the Home on May 26, 1911, at the age of 84. She lived at the Home for the last two years of her life. After her death, her property was sold for $10,000 and invested as an endowment for the Orphanage.

In 1917, the school building that was erected in 1907 was totally lost by fire. Building of any sort was restricted by World War I.

Quoting from Dr. Reid: “It was at this time that the Orphanage found many problems and John W. Stewart, the first superintendent, was asked to return and take over this responsibility again. He found many serious problems including the fire which destroyed a much needed building. He had faced more difficult days in the beginning, so he assumed the leadership with the same faith when there was nothing but a will to succeed.”

Dr. J.G. Dickinson served as pastor of the Evergreen Baptist Church for many years. From “The Sesqui Sentinel Magazine,” pastor Dickinson says that one of the attractions of the Evergreen pastorate is the Baptist Orphanage. He also says: “They sit at the right hand of the pastor, and I call them ‘my right-hand folks.’ The children work in the Home, as children ought to everywhere, but they have time for study and recreation.”

It was in 1917 that the Board of Trustees was increased from nine to 15 members who were W.B. Ivey, R.B. Taylor, E.C. Page, A. Cunningham, J.W. Byrd, J.A. Thomas, R.A. Porter, W.H. Hudson, T.S. Hagood, Mrs. R.M. Hunter, Mrs. Law Lamar, Mrs. M.C. Scott, Mrs. G.G. Newton, Mrs. C.P. Deming and W.M. Murray.

In 1918, the buildings of the Orphanage were: a girls’ cottage, boys’ home, baby house, infirmary, chapel, cow barn and a mule barn. This same year, the Chapel was destroyed by fire.

In 1919, the Legislature established a Child Welfare Department. Supt. Stewart expressed resentment of State interference with a private institution. The loss of the buildings by fire and lack of support had caused some criticism. An investigating committee was appointed by the Baptist Convention. When the 1919 Convention met in Birmingham, a recommendation was made for plans to begin in moving the Orphanage to Troy, Ala. because of the superior educational advantages, and a generous offer of land and money made by the citizens of Troy.

By 1920-21, another building at Evergreen had burned and it became urgent that the building program at Troy be completed as soon as possible. The committee had to borrow $119,000.

Three cottages were completed in Troy by 1923 and the first group of 60 children along with their supervisors were moved to the new home. On June 14, 1923, the remainder of the children were moved with almost all of the staff going along too.

Rev. J.W. Stewart did not want to leave Evergreen to go to Troy but he was retained as financial representative of the Home until 1928. Rev. J.O. Colley became the new Superintendent at the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home in Troy.

In a short while, Dr. Stewart and his family moved back to Birmingham. He and his wife were the parents of six children: Two boys died in infancy, John W. Stewart Jr., Grace, Mary and Crook.

In February 1925, Rev. Stewart had a stroke of paralysis. He recovered from this slightly and was able to walk around on crutches and later by using a walking stick. According to the article written by Dr. Gwaltney, previously quoted, we read: “As time went on he failed to show further improvement and was in a year or two confined to his bed. This proved to be his last illness. However, the cause of his death was not due directly to the paralytic stroke. Ere long he went into double pneumonia and died on Oct. 13, 1928.

“His funeral service was conducted in the Woodlawn Church, Birmingham, by his pastor, Dr. Frank McDonald. He was laid to rest in the Woodlawn Cemetery.”

Dr. W.B. Crumpton in his “Book of Memories” says of the Baptist Children’s Home: “Eternity only will disclose how it has blessed the world and one thing can be said by all: ‘John Stewart, its father, has been faithful. Many a man and woman even now rise up to call him blessed… with a great loving heart he dedicated all his life and powers to the work of his Master. ‘Well done,’ the Lord will say to John at the last.” [Continued next week]

Today in History for May 31, 2015

May 31, 1692 – In connection with the Salem witchcraft trials, John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin and Gednew examined Martha Carrier, John Alden, Wilmott Redd, Elizabeth Howe and Phillip English. Alden and English later escaped from prison and did not return.

May 31, 1775 – During the American Revolution, the Mecklenburg Resolves were allegedly adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

May 31, 1801 – Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite was founded.

May 31, 1819 – Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, Long Island, New York.

May 31, 1852 – Argentinian explorer and academic Francisco Moreno was born in Buenos Aires. He was a prominent explorer and academic in Argentina, where he was usually referred to as Perito Moreno (perito means "specialist, expert"). Moreno has been credited as one of the most influential figures in the Argentine incorporation of large parts of Patagonia.

May 31, 1859 - The Philadelphia Athletics were formally organized to play the game of Town Ball.

May 31, 1862 – During the Civil War’s Peninsula Campaign, the Battle of Seven Pines (or Battle of Fair Oaks) occurred as Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston and G.W. Smith engaged Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Va. Robert Rose of the Conecuh Guards was killed during this battle, and James H. Thomas of the Conecuh Guards was also wounded.

May 31, 1863 – Pakistani-English captain and explorer Francis Younghusband was born in Murree, British India. He is remembered for his travels in the Far East and Central Asia; especially the 1904 British expedition to Tibet, led by him, and for his writings on Asia and foreign policy. Younghusband held positions including British commissioner to Tibet and President of the Royal Geographical Society.

May 31, 1864 – During the Civil War’s Overland Campaign, the Battle of Cold Harbor began near Mechanicsville, Va. as the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engaged the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant and George Meade. Nicholas “Nick” Stallworth of Evergreen, who joined the Conecuh Guards at age 15, was wounded here. He became an attorney after the war, state representative, solicitor of 11th Judicial Circuit. 1st Lt. Archibald D. McInnis of the Conecuh Guards was also wounded at Cold Harbor.

May 31, 1879 – Gilmores Garden in New York, New York, was renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and was opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

May 31, 1915 – The second day of Monroe County High School’s four-day fourth-annual commencement exercises continued on this Monday with a concert by the school’s music department at 8 p.m.

May 31, 1921 - Suffy McInnis began an errorless streak of 1,700 chances.

May 31, 1927 - Johnny Neun of the Detroit Tigers made an unassisted triple play.

May 31, 1935 – In Lovecraftian fiction, Miskatonic University’s Peaslee Australian Expedition reached the Great Sandy Desert.

May 31, 1935 – The State Secondary Agricultural School in Evergreen, Ala. was scheduled to hold its 43rd annual commencement exercises. Dr. S.J. Hocking of the University of Alabama was scheduled to deliver the baccalaureate address, and the school’s principal, Prof. W.Y. Fleming, was to present seniors with their diplomas.

May 31, 1935 - Alabama author Sara Haardt died in Baltimore, Md.

May 31, 1937 - The Brooklyn Dodgers ended Carl Hubbell's of the New York Giants 24-game winning streak.

May 31, 1941 - The first issue of "Parade: The Weekly Picture Newspaper" went on sale.

May 31, 1943 – Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath was born in Beaver Falls, Pa. He went on to play for the University of Alabama, the New York Jets and the Los Angeles Rams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

May 31, 1955 – Award winning pilot and engineer Dave McKenzie graduated from Evergreen High School in Evergreen, Ala.

May 31-June 5, 1956 – In the first game of the season in Evergreen’s Pony League, the Chicks beat the Pelicans, 14-12. The game started on Thurs., May 31, but was called at the end of the third inning due to darkness as the Chicks led, 7-4. The game resumed on Tues., June 5, and the Chicks went on to win. Carl Dyess was the manager of the Chicks, and Moreno White was the manager of the Pelicans.

May 31, 1961 - Jimi Hendrix enlisted in the U.S. Army.

May 31, 1965 – Lyeffion High School was scheduled to hold graduation exercises on this Monday night at 8 p.m. in the school auditorium in Lyeffion, Ala. Keith Holcombe was the valedictorian, and Bobbie J. Carter was the salutatorian. Twenty-four seniors were expected to receive diplomas.

May 31, 1968 – Army PFC Jimmy Ray Thomas of Brewton, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.

May 31, 1969 – Army PFC Billy Wayne Pettis of Castleberry, 21, was killed in action in Vietnam. Up to that point, he was the fifth Conecuh Countian to lose his life in Vietnam, where he arrived on March 10, 1969.

May 31, 1972 – Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola, Fla. was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

May 31, 1974 - Alabama naturalist and author Blanche Evans Dean died in Goodwater, Ala.

May 31, 1976 – Irish actor Colin Farrell was born in Baldoyle, Dublin, Ireland.

May 31, 1981 – Major League Baseball starting pitcher Jake Peavy was born in Mobile. So far during his career, he has pitched for the San Diego Padres, the Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants.

May 31, 1982 – Italian mountaineer and explorer Carlo Mauri died in Lecco, Italy.

May 31, 1990 - The first episode of "Seinfeld" aired on NBC.

May 31, 1992 - The final episode of "Night Court" aired on NBC.

May 31, 1997 - Ila Borders became the first woman to pitch in a minor league baseball game, when she entered a game in relief for the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. Mike Veeck, son of famous baseball impresario and promoter Bill Veeck, owned the Saints, and signed Borders to garner publicity for his team and the Northern League, an independent minor league not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Borders, though, was more than an attraction: She could throw strikes, and she went on to pitch in the Northern League for three years.

May 31, 2003 - In North Carolina, Eric Robert Rudolph was captured. He had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list for five years for several bombings including the 1996 Olympic bombing.

May 31, 2005 – Vanity Fair revealed that Mark Felt was Deep Throat, the secret source that led to the uncovering of the Watergate scandal. The family of Mark Felt, a former FBI official, revealed that he had been the source for the Washington Post.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., May 31, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.85 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.45 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 12.95 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 22.30 inches

Notes: Today is the 151st day of 2015 and the 73rd day of Spring. There are 214 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Singleton tells of the hills and valleys that surround 'Nancy Mountain'

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 “Spring beauty is everywhere, only have to look” was originally published in the May 26, 1988 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

Over the years, I thought that I could not appreciate the beauty of the arrival of spring any more than I did. Not until this spring, after my retirement, did I finally absorb, all in detail, the beauty of spring blossoming forth in all its splendor.

Many people go all the way through life and never fully appreciate the wondrous marvels that have been placed here during the early springtime for us to see and enjoy. We walk through the sections of the wooded areas that are nearby and never once stop and really look into the deep beauty of the wild violet or the beautiful blossoms of a mountain laurel.

We may drive along a little-used road and look from a distance at the splendor of a wild dogwood tree in bloom. Or give a passing glance of sorts to the glorious wild honeysuckle, climbing ever so carefully along a fence or brush, as though trying not to bruise even one of the many lovely blossoms that refresh the morning air.

I am always amazed to find that the most beautiful of the wild flowers many times grow alone in the most difficult places. Always where the ground is the roughest, or the rocks are the largest, one will find a lone wild violet or a single sprig of mountain laurel, hanging desperately on the side of a steep cliff. And there, maybe only one, will be the most beautiful bloom that one can imagine, clinging bravely to the spindly mountain laurel that is growing dangerously near the edge of the steep cliff.

I, too, have noticed that during my visits to the many old, abandoned cemeteries, there are always the lone flowers that stand out as though asking to be noticed.

Just last week, as I stood by the grave of my maternal grandfather, I looked down. There beside the headstone, struggling for life, was a small, wild mountain rose, not much larger than a marble. As I dropped to my knees and examined this very beautiful flower, I found everything to be perfect. Everything was in detail – no flaws, no mistakes. I wondered if this had just happened to grow here by accident.

As I looked at the small flower, I knew once again that nothing or no one is forgotten. The dates on the headstone reminded me that a great deal of time had passed since that day my grandfather was laid to rest here many years ago. So there in this small family cemetery, deep in the woods, where no one goes except the descendants of those who sleep there, this small, beautiful rose chose to grow beside the grave of this man who loved nature so much.

So, after all these years, regardless of how tough one thinks he is, we can all find beauty in the many wild flowers that grow around us. And when that beauty is noticed, one will find that the problems of life take on a different concept. The solution is much easier found, and the hill of life is always much easier to climb.

A walk in the deep woods during this time of year is like going to your family doctor and getting a cure for that stomach ache. And the beautiful thing is that all it costs is your time.

I truly believe that if I could get all the world leaders together and carry them with me to the hills and valleys that surround Nancy Mountain, letting them walk the paths that I have walked and see the beauty that I have witnessed there, the only problem that the world would have would be getting them away to take care of the other business at hand. There wouldn’t be time for war and the other disagreements that plaque the countries of the world; the woods would be alive with the snoring of the sleeping world leaders, lying in the stillness of the early morning, as I have done many, many times.

There’s a path that leads to nowhere
In the deep woods that I know,
Where an inland river rises
And a stream is still and slow;
There it wanders under willows
And beneath the silver green
Of the dogwoods’ silent shadows
Where the early violets lean.

There I go to meet the springtime
When the deep woods are aglow,
Wild flowers amid the marshes,
And the stream is still and slow;
There I find my fair oasis,
And with carefree feet I tread,
For the pathway leads to nowhere,
And the beauty overhead.

All the ways that lead to somewhere
Echo with the hurrying feet
Of the struggling and the striving,
But the way I find so sweet
Bids me dream and bids me linger –
Joy and beauty are its goal;
On the path that leads to nowhere
I have often found my soul…

(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.)

Today in History for May 30, 2015

Henry David Thoreau
May 30, 1539 - Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer, landed at Tampa Bay, Florida with 600 soldiers to search for gold.

May 30, 1783 - The first daily newspaper was published in the U.S. by Benjamin Towner called "The Pennsylvania Evening Post"

May 30, 1806 – Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson's wife, Rachel Donelson Robards, of bigamy.

May 30–31, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette stayed in Pittsburgh.

May 30, 1842 – John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill in London with Prince Albert.

May 30, 1849 – Henry David Thoreau self-published “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” his first book.

May 30, 1854 – The Kansas–Nebraska Act became law, establishing the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

May 30, 1861 – Randolph County, Ala. native and Lincoln assassination conspirator Lewis Powell enlisted in Co. I of the Second Florida Infantry in Jasper, Fla. at the age of 17.

May 30, 1861 - Union troops occupied Grafton, Va.

May 30, 1862 - The Confederates abandoned the city of Corinth, Mississippi. Union troops under Henry Halleck entered the deserted city.

May 30, 1864 - Confederates attacked Union troops at Bethesda Church, Va.

May 30, 1868 – Decoration Day (the predecessor of the modern "Memorial Day") was observed in the United States for the first time (by "Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic" John A. Logan's proclamation on May 5).

May 30, 1879 - William Vanderbilt renamed New York City's Gilmore’s Garden to Madison Square Garden.

May 30, 1890 - Dave Foutz hit the first Dodger home run.

May 30, 1894 - Bobby Lowe of the Boston Red Sox became the first player to hit four home runs in one game.

May 30, 1895 – The Monroe Journal reported that Alabama Gov. William C. Oates had appointed Capt. Thomas A. Nettles, John I. Watson and Thos. A. Rumbly to serve as members of the Board of Confederate Pension Examiners for Monroe County.

May 30, 1909 – W. Roach, who lived near Castleberry, Ala., allegedly killed his wife and child on this night with a shotgun. He claimed he did so in self defense and surrendered to the Conecuh County Sheriff, who put him in jail.

May 30, 1911 – At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ends with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race. Harroun's average speed was 74.59 miles per hour.

May 30, 1915 – Monroe County High School’s four-day fourth-annual commencement exercises began on this Sunday at 11 a.m. with a commencement sermon delivered by Dr. B.F. Riley of Birmingham, Ala.

May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C..

May 30, 1922 - Max Flack of the Chicago Cubs and Cliff Heathcote of the St. Louis Cardinals were traded for each other between the morning and afternoon games of a Memorial Day twin bill. They played one game for each team.

May 30, 1927 - Walter Johnson recorded his 113th career shutout. It was also the final shutout of his career.

May 30, 1927 - Jim Cooney of the Chicago Cubs became the sixth player to record an unassisted triple play against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He caught Paul Waner's line drive, stepped on second to double Lloyd Waner and then tagged Clyde Barnhart coming from first.

May 30, 1927 - Johnny Neun of the Detroit Tigers became the seventh player to record an unassisted triple play.

May 30, 1932 - The New York Yankees dedicated a plaque to Miller Huggins.

May 30, 1933 – Alabama Attorney General Thomas E. Knight Jr. issued a press release about Conecuh County, Alabama’s ‘lion’ incidents.

May 30, 1935 - Babe Ruth of the Braves played in his final game. He went hitless against the Phillies.

May 30, 1937 - Pitcher Carl Hubbell got his 24th consecutive victory.

May 30, 1941 - Author Maud McKnight Lindsay died in Tuscumbia, Ala.

May 30, 1946 - Carvel William "Bama" Rowell of the Braves hit a home run that shattered the Bulova clock in Ebbets Field.

May 30, 1958 – On this Memorial Day, the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

May 30, 1962 - Pedro Ramos of the Cleveland Indians pitched a three-hitter and hit two home runs in a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. One of his home runs was a grand slam.

May 30, 1963 – Willie Holder, a farmer who lived 2-1/2 miles from Evergreen, Ala. on the Loree Road, brought the first cotton bloom of the 1963 crop by The Courant.

May 30, 1968 - The Beatles began recording the "White Album."

May 30, 1970 - Voting for baseball's All-Star game was returned to the fans.

May 30, 1971 - Willie Mays hit his 638th home run. He set a National League record of 1,950 runs scored.

May 30, 1976 – National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Max Carey passed away at the age of 86 in Miami, Fla. During his career, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Brooklyn Robins, and he also managed the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1961.

May 30, 1977 - Dennis Eckersley pitched a 1-0 no-hitter against the California Angels.

May 30, 1981 - Author Howell Vines died in Bessemer, Ala.

May 30, 1981 - The Los Angeles Dodgers became the quickest to get 1,000,000 people to attend games in a season. It took 22 games.

May 30, 1982 – Cal Ripken Jr. made his Major League debut and began his record-setting streak of 2,632 consecutive games played that would last for 17 seasons. The streak ended on Sept. 20, 1998.

May 30, 1983 - Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was suspended for one week for his public criticism of umpires.

May 30, 1987 - Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds became the first National League player to hit three grand slams in a month and set a National League record of 19 home runs in April and May.

May 30, 1992 - Scott Sanderson of the New York Yankees became the ninth pitcher to beat all 26 teams.

May 30, 2001 - Barry Bonds hit two home runs to move into 11th place on the major league career list with 522.

May 30, 2005 – Natalee Ann Holloway, 18, of Mountain Brook, Ala. disappeared while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba.

May 30, 2006 – “Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” by Charles Shields published by Henry Holt & Co. 

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., May 30, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.85 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.45 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 12.95 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 22.30 inches

Notes: Today is the 150th day of 2015 and the 72nd day of Spring. There are 215 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Friday, May 29, 2015

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 186 miles down and 1,613 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging 13 more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged five miles on Saturday, five miles on Sunday and three miles yesterday (Thursday). So far, I’ve logged 186 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,613 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 10.3 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m on the eleventh day of his trip, which is Oct. 3 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off on my last update on Day 10, at Mile 173, which is where Frodo’s group enters the western edge of the Midgewater Marshes. Six miles later, at Mile 179, at the end of Day 10, the group ends the day by camping in the western part of the Marshes.


So far, from the start of Day 11, I’ve covered seven miles and have got eight more to go before I reach the next significant mile stone. The next significant milestone will come at Mile 194, when the group will camp in the eastern part of the Marshes at the end of Day 11. From there, Frodo and Aragorn will see flashes of light in the east during the night, which is actually Gandalf on Weathertop.


For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1. Using a book called “The Atlas of Middle-Earth” by Karen Wynn Fonstad, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” created this challenge by mapping out Frodo’s fictional trek to Mordor, calculating the total distance at 1,799 miles. They also used the original "Lord of the Rings" text to outline the journey, so you can follow their route by keeping up with your total mileage.


The folks who worked out the nuts and bolts of this virtual journey have divided it into four parts. It’s 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 462 miles from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien, 389 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and 470 miles from Rauros to Mount Doom. (Those locations should sound very familiar to “Lord of the Rings” fans.) The hobbits averaged 18 miles a day, but if you walk (or jog, as I sometimes do) five miles a day, it’s possible to cover 1,799 miles in a year.


If you’re interested in learning more about the “Walk to Mordor Challenge,” I suggest you check out two Web sites, and Both of these sites provide a ton of details about the challenge, including how to get started.


In the end, check back next Friday for another update and to see how much closer I am to Mordor. I hope to knock out at least 10 more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Today in History for May 29, 2015

Charles Pawson Atmore
May 29, 1500 – Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias died at the age of 48 (some sources say 49) in a shipwreck near the Cape of Good Hope. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, reaching the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, the first European known to have done so.

May 29, 1677 – The Treaty of Middle Plantation established peace between the Virginia colonists and the local Natives.

May 29, 1721 - South Carolina was formally incorporated as a royal colony.

May 29, 1736 – American “Founding Father” and first Virginia governor Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County, Colony of Virginia, British America.

May 29, 1765 - Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act before Virginia's House of Burgesses.

May 29, 1780 – During the American Revolutionary War, at the Battle of Waxhaws near Lancaster, S.C., the British, under commander Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, continued attacking after the Continentals laid down their arms, killing 113 and critically wounding all but 53 that remained.

May 29, 1781 - Captain John Barry, commander of the American warship Alliance captured the HMS Atlanta and the HMS Trepassy.

May 29, 1790 – Rhode Island became the last of the original United States' colonies to ratify the Constitution and was admitted as the 13th U.S. state.

May 29, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Braddock, Pa.

May 29, 1848 – Wisconsin was admitted as the 30th U.S. state.

May 29, 1862 - P.T. Beauregard began moving troops out of Corinth, Miss. The evacuation was completed the next day.

May 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Whitesburg, Ala.

May 29, 1864 - Union troops reached Totopotomoy Creek, Va. and were turned away by the Rebels.

May 29, 1864 – During the Civil War, an “action” occurred at Moulton, Ala.

May 29, 1874 – English author G.K. Chesterton was born Gilbert Keith Chesterton in London.

May 29, 1880 – German philosopher Oswald Spengler was born in Blankenburg, Germany.

May 29, 1886 – The pharmacist John Pemberton placed his first advertisement for Coca-Cola, which appeared in The Atlanta Journal.

May 29, 1900 – Charles Pawson Atmore, General Passenger Agent of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, passed away from apoplexy at the age of 66 in Louisville, Ky. He was buried in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.

May 29, 1901 - Seven days into the Constitutional Convention of 1901 a petition submitted by Booker T. Washington and 23 other African-American leaders was read to convention delegates, all of whom were white. The petition asked that the black Alabamian be given "some humble share in choosing those who shall rule over him." Nevertheless, with the ratification of the Constitution of 1901 in November, blacks--along with poor whites--were effectively disfranchised.

May 29, 1903 – Comedian Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, near London, England. His family moved to the United States when he was four years old, and he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Hope died in 2003, two months after his 100th birthday.

May 29, 1906 – English author T.H. White was born Terence Hanbury White in Bombay, India, to English parents employed by the British civil service. He is best known for his sequence of Arthurian novels, “The Once and Future King,” first published together in 1958.

May 29, 1909 – The Conecuh Record reported that about four inches of rain fell in Evergreen, Ala. on this day and 1-1/2 inches fell the day before.

May 29, 1911 – The government thermometer reached 100 degrees on this day in Evergreen, Ala.

May 29, 1911 – Ray Harroun won the first running of the Indianapolis 500 took place.

May 29, 1914 – English explorer, hunter and author Henry Seton-Karr passed died at the age of 61 in Canada’s greatest maritime disaster when the Empress of Ireland sank in the St. Lawrence River when he was returning to England from a hunting trip in British Columbia.

May 29, 1916 - The New York Giants won their 17th consecutive road game.

May 29, 1916 - Author Virginia Pounds Brown was born in Birmingham, Ala.

May 29, 1917 - John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was born in Brookline, Mass.

May 29, 1918 – Wm. T. Broughton and Zeilin Simpson, who both died in World War I, were inducted into the Army and sent to Camp Sevier, S.C. for training.

May 29, 1922 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, and not subject to antitrust laws.

May 29, 1942 - A movie version of Alabama author Octavus Roy Cohen's book “Gallant Lady” was released.

May 29, 1950 – The St. Roch, the first ship to circumnavigate North America, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

May 29, 1951 - C.F. Blair became the first man to fly over the North Pole in single engine plane.

May 29, 1952 – Country music legend Hank Williams and his wife, Audrey, were divorced.

May 29, 1953 – Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay's (adopted) 39th birthday. "A symmetrical, beautiful, snow cone summit," Hillary said of the peak that is 29,028 feet above sea level.

May 29, 1954 - The first meeting of the annual Bilderberg group, a secretive, invitation-only gathering with the elite from such fields as politics, commerce, and banking, was held.

May 29, 1955 – New Hope Baptist Church at Natchez, Ala. held its 100th anniversary homecoming.

May 29, 1955 - John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was born in Ardmore, Okla.

May 29, 1959 – Repton High School was scheduled to hold its graduation exercises at 8 p.m. in Repton, Ala. Starr Smith of Montgomery was to deliver the graduation address, and Principal E.H. Penny was to deliver the diplomas.

May 29, 1962 – First baseman Fred Whitfield, a native of Vandiver, Ala., made his first Major League start, two days after his Major League debut. He went 1-for-4 for the St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field with his first hit coming in the fourth inning, a RBI single off Al McBean that scored Red Schoendienst.

May 29, 1962 - Buck (John) O’Neil became the first black coach in major league baseball when he accepted the job with the Chicago Cubs.

May 29, 1965 – Repton High School was scheduled to hold graduation exercises on this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the school auditorium in Repton, Ala. Dorothy Waller was the valedictorian, and Willene Powell was the salutatorian. Twenty-three seniors were expected to receive diplomas.

May 29, 1965 - Dick Allen of the Philadelphia Phillies hit a 529-foot home run out of Connie Mack Stadium.

May 29, 1967 - Noel Gallagher, the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and principal songwriter of the rock band Oasis, was born in Longsight, Manchester, England.

May 29, 1967 - Economist and “Freakonomics” co-author Steven Levitt was born in St. Paul, Minn.

May 29, 1972 – Sparta Academy held its first ever graduation exercises on this day at 8 p.m. at Stuart-McGehee Field in Evergreen, Ala. Members of the class included Forrest Brantley, Robert Carleton, Terry Chapman, Martha Gaines, Gary Gibson, Donnie Griggers, Beth Harper (salutatorian), Kitty Horton, Deborah Josey, Crawford King (valedictorian), Mary Ann Mack, Charlotte McCreary, Mike McKenzie, Joey Nix, Carey Stinson, Larry Tranum, Mike Turner, Shelia Ward and Dwight Watson.

May 29, 1974 - U.S. President Richard Nixon agreed to turn over 1,200 pages of edited Watergate transcripts.

May 29, 1981 – The Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Ala. were designated a National Historic Landmark.

May 29, 1984 - The Boston Red Sox retired the No. 9 jersey of Ted Williams and the No. 4 jersey of Joe Cronin.

May 29, 1986 - The first issue of "The Frisco Citian" newspaper was published in Frisco City, Ala.

May 29, 1987 – In Monroeville, Ala., Alabama Bureau of Investigations agent Simon Benson conducted a tape-recorded interview in the county courthouse with Karen Kelly, whom he suspected of lying about the Vickie Lynn Pittman murder.

May 29, 1990 - Rickey Henderson stole his 893rd base, breaking Ty Cobb's record.

May 29, 1992 - Tim Raines of the Chicago White Sox stole his 700th career base.

May 29, 2001 - In New York, four followers of Osama bin Laden were convicted of a global conspiracy to murder Americans. The crimes included the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people.

May 29, 2003 – High Ground Burial in Baldwin County, Ala. and the Dulaney Cemetery in Wilcox County, Ala. were added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register.

May 29, 2004 – The National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., May 29, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.10 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.85 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.45 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 12.95 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 22.30 inches

Notes: Today is the 149th day of 2015 and the 71st day of Spring. There are 216 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Aircraft accidents in Conecuh County, Alabama occurred almost 15 years apart

T-28B trainer plane.
While looking through some old editions of The Courant this week, I ran across an unusual coincidence. Almost exactly 15 years apart, Conecuh County suffered a pair of unusual aircraft incidents that grabbed headlines across the region.

The first incident occurred on the night of May 20, 1942 and involved eight planes that were on the way to Maxwell Field in Montgomery from Crestview, Fla. All eight planes encountered a storm that caused three of the planes to crash in Conecuh County. The other five planes crashed in Escambia County near Atmore.

All of those planes were flown by British cadets, who’d been assigned to Maxwell Field for training, and five airmen reportedly died in those crashes.

A huge search was launched in Conecuh County to find the missing planes and the last of the three to crash in Conecuh County was found on May 26, 1942. A search plane spotted that final missing plane late that day in Sepulga Swamp, about 20 minutes north of Evergreen. A ground party reached the plane early the next day in a “thick swamp in a rather isolated section.”

The plane was “totally demolished” and the pilot was found dead inside. The story didn’t give many details about the pilot’s identity other than to say that his last name was “Lowe.” The search party recovered his body and returned it to Maxwell Field in Montgomery.

Fast-forward 15 years into the future to the night of May 23, 1957 when a T-28B trainer plane flown by Navy Ensign Richard Frank Polich of Chicago crashed and exploded in Conecuh County. Polich bailed out after the plane’s engine caught fire at 2,000 feet, and the plane proceeded to crash on the farm of M.M. Cardwell about five miles west of Evergreen on the Loree Road.

The plane exploded when it hit the ground, but no one was injured. The plane hit the ground at an angle and parts of the plane were scattered over a wide area. The wreckage burned “fiercely” for a few minutes after the crash.

Polich, who was stationed at Whiting Field near Milton, Fla., drifted to the ground by parachute and landed about a mile from the crash site. On his way to the ground, his chute became entangled in a tree, but he made it down to the ground without a scratch.

A witness named Frank Dean saw the plane crash and called the Evergreen Fire Department. Dean wasn’t the only one to see the crash as other witnesses in a 10-mile radius saw the burning plane streak through the sky, and others reported hearing the plane explode when it hit the ground. Dean  rushed to the scene as did a sizeable crowed that included an “entourage of dozens of cars, which swell to hundreds” as word spread about the crash.

Newspaper reports from that time noted that the May 23, 1957 crash was the first crash of a Navy plane in Conecuh County since the Navy started using Middleton Airfield as a training site in April 1956.

Was it a coincidence that both incidents occurred around the same time in May or was there something more at work? Do the night skies become less friendly as the atmosphere makes the transition from late spring to early summer? Who can say, but one thing is for sure nowadays: The Navy no longer conducts training flights at night in Conecuh County, according to officials at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. 

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for May 28, 2015

Evergreen's Clint Jackson
MAY 22, 1980

“Evergreen’s new park and recreation area was officially named Evergreen Municipal Park in action by the City Council at its meeting Tuesday night.”

“Coach Charles Branum of Evergreen High School has been named ‘Coach of the Year’ for 1980 by his fellow coaches of the Southwest Alabama Basketball Conference.
“Branum’s Aggies won five first-place trophies during the 1979-80 season and advanced to the semi-finals in the State Class 3A Tournament held at the University of Alabama. The team’s season record was 31 wins and two losses.
“Coach Branum was also honored by being selected to coach the South 3A-4A Team in the 1980 State All State Game which will be played in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama the first week in August.
“Among the outstanding players Branum will coach on the South Team are… Perona Rankins, 6-5 star of the Evergreen Aggies.”

“Clint Jackson, an Evergreen native, continued unbeaten as a professional boxer by knocking out his latest opponent, Priciliano ‘Zip’ Castillo of Corpus Christi, Texas, in the third round in a bout staged in Nashville, Tenn. on May 9. The fight was Clint’s seventh as a pro and he won all but the first (an unanimous decision) by knock-outs.
“Clint is presently negotiating for his next fight, which will probably be with Clyde Gray, Canadian welterweight champion, in Knoxville, Tenn. on June 20 or June 28.”

MAY 27, 1965

“Pony League opens play on June 7th: Play will begin in the Evergreen Pony League on Mon., June 7, according to President Bill Chapman. The first game will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the field at the Recreation Center.
“The Player auction for the boys coming up from the Junior League was held Wednesday night. Players were purchased by the various teams as follows:
“Pirates: Terry Coleman and Bill Seales, managers; Jimmy Hamiter, Larry Windham, Jimmy Bell, Norman Ross, Leon Hinson, Stanley Mitchell, Wayne Hammonds, Charles Grant.
“Braves: Pete Hicks and Sam Brown, managers; Jeb Barron, Wesley Poole, David Rabren, Arnold Hall.
“Indians, J.W. Weaver and Mr. Burt, managers; Ivon Gomes, Hollis Tranum, Gerald Salter, Danny Hall, Michael Tolber.
“Tigers, Luther McDonald, manager; David Davis, Ronald Halford, Tommy Johnson, Johnny Daw.
“These new players and the older boys who played last year are asked to contact their managers to learn the days they are to practice.”

“Two From E.H.S. Play In Montgomery: Two members of Coach Henry Allmon’s Evergreen High Aggies baseball team played in the Lions Club’s East-West All-Star game in Montgomery Monday night, won by the East, 3-0.
“Mike Fields, catcher-outfielder, and Steven Baggett, third baseman, were chosen for the West team.”

MAY 25, 1950

“Greenies Play Atmore Here This Afternoon: The Evergreen Greenies will try to get back on the victory trail again this afternoon, but they must overcome some tough opposition to do it. The Greenies have a matinee engagement with the second place Atmore nine in a Dixie Amateur League game here in Brooks Stadium.
“Last Thursday night the Greenies suffered their second loss at the hands of the undefeated, league-leading Monroeville team in Monroeville, 8-2. Sunday’s game here with Jay was rained out.
“Sunday afternoon the Greenies play a doubleheader with Bay Minette in Bay Minette. Bay Minette is the only team in the league that the Greenies have not yet played. Their first game was rained out.”

“C’ville, Flat Rock Tie; Sherve Whips Paul, 6-2: The Shreve Eagles scored early to defeat the Paul Aces, 6-2, Sunday behind the steady pitching of Ferrell Smith. The Eagles bunched their hits to score three runs in the first and a like number in the second. The Aces rallied to score single runs in the fifth and seventh innings, but couldn’t catch up.
“Harold Godwin settled down after the first two innings and blanked Shreve the rest of the way. Leroy Smith caught for Shreve and Bertie Hassel was behind the plate for Paul.
“Flat Rock almost upset the undefeated, league-leading Centerville Rookies in the league’s other game Sunday. The Rockets scored a single run in the fourth and that was all the scoring until Centerville pushed across a counter in the eighth to tie it up. That’s the way it ended, 1-1, after nine innings.”

MAY 23, 1935

“Local Team Wins Double Bill Sunday: Skin Hyde conspired with his powerful right arm Sunday afternoon to take both ends of a doubleheader from the Opp baseball team, by scores of 8-3 and 10-1, the slim right-hander hurling both games for the locals, holding the opposition to four runs in 16 innings and whiffing 10 of the slugging East Alabamians.
“The second game was a combination of a little of everything that makes baseball the ‘National’ game. There were impossible fielding plays, glaring errors and every kind of base hit there is, with both teams displaying a lot of daring.”

“Mutt Wilson joined Jim Freeman on the meal ticket list – the Crystal CafĂ© donating a meal ticket for each home run by local players. Jim slammed the first one of the local season down the hill several days before. Mutt’s homer was a low-flung line drive that traveled shoulder high like a shot, touching terra firma well below the oak tree in left field. Reese made a blind stab at it as it went by him but failed to even slow up.”

“Evergreen plays Chapman here Sunday, going to Andalusia today for the midweek game.”

“’Pop’ Brundage extended the boys a bit of encouragement by announcing the club treasury was in a position to ‘split’ just before Sunday’s game. The split will amount to a nice slice for each player.”

MAY 26, 1920

“No Fishing Allowed in El Pond: Notice is hereby given that all persons will be denied the privilege of fishing in El Pond, which is our property, without special permit. W.A. Clark, W.H. Hardin.”

Today is MLB pitcher and Huntsville, Ala. native Craig Kimbrel's 27th birthday

Our local schools are wrapping up another academic year this week and so closes another year of high school sports.

Hillcrest High School and Sparta Academy both had decent sports years, and I look for them to be even better next year in their respective sports.

As any elementary school student knows, summer vacation flies by, so it won’t be long before the official start of fall football practice.

The Alabama Independent School Association hasn’t released its fall football schedule yet, but Hillcrest’s first regular season game is scheduled for Aug. 28. Sparta will likely either kick off their season on that night or some time around that date.

Alabama will begin their season on Sept. 5 when they play Wisconsin in Arlington, Texas. Auburn will also begin its season on Sept. 5 when they’ll play Louisville in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

The New Orleans Saints will kick off their regular season schedule on Sept. 13 when they visit the Arizona Cardinals. The Atlanta Falcons will get going on the following day, Sept. 14, when they play the Eagles in Atlanta.

With all of that in mind, we’ve got about 92 days (a little over 13 weeks) until the start of high school season, 98 days until the start of college football and 106 days until the pros kick off.

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In the meantime, while we’re waiting on football to begin, take the time to head out to Evergreen Municipal Park and watch some of our local youth teams play. Most of the younger kids are drawing close to the ends of their seasons, and All-Stars will be announced soon. However, there’s still plenty of local Babe Ruth action left to watch, so take the time to check it out.

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Today, May 28, marks the 64th anniversary of Willie Mays’s first Major League home run. It was on this day in 1951 that Mays, batting for the New York Giants against the Boston Braves, got his first hit in the Major Leagues - a home run. Born near Birmingham, the "Say Hey Kid" went on to be named National League Rookie of the Year and hit 660 homers in a legendary Hall of Fame career.

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Coincidentally, in regards to 1951 and the N.Y. Giants, I saw in Friday’s “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” cartoon that New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson hit the game-winning home run known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in 1951. The weird part is that, to this day, Thomson’s home run ball has yet to be found. Given the value of other famous home run balls, there’s no telling how much Thomson’s home run ball would be worth today.

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Today (Thursday) also happens to be the 27th birthday of Major League Baseball pitcher, Craig Kimbrel, who was born on May 28, 1988 in Huntsville. Kimbrel went on to star at Lee High School in Huntsville and at Wallace State Community College. In 2008, after two years at Wallace State, Kimbrel was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. He went on to pitch for the Braves from 2010 to 2014, and he currently pitches for the San Diego Padres.

Today in History for May 28, 2015

Owen Wister
May 28, 585 BC - A solar eclipse in Asia Minor occurred, leading to a battle truce, and historical astronomy has set May 28th, 585 BC as the likely day for this event. This became a cardinal point from which other dates in ancient history have been calculated.

May 28, 1754 – In the first engagement of the French and Indian War, Virginia militia under 22-year-old Lieutenant colonel George Washington defeated a French reconnaissance party and Indian scouts in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in what is now Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania.

May 28, 1828 – A United States arsenal was established at Mt. Vernon, Ala., near the juncture of the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers. It had previously been the headquarters for General Claiborne in the Creek War of 1813-1814. In 1873, the Arsenal was converted into a barracks, which from 1887 to 1894 housed Apache Indian prisoners, including Geronimo. In 1895 the land was conveyed to the State of Alabama and became the site of the Mt. Vernon Hospital.

May 28, 1830 – U.S. President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which relocated Native Americans. The policy primarily affected five tribes: the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations of the southeastern United States.

May 28, 1832 – Confederate officer William Hugh Means King was born in Madison in Morgan County, Ga. He would go on to serve as captain of Co. H of the 5th Georgia Regiment and organized a company of infantry called the Hardee Rifles in Georgia. The unit mustered in at Pensacola, Fla. on May 12, 1861, and King was cited for gallantry at Santa Rosa Island, Fla. He was promoted to major and served as brigade adjutant for Gen. R.H. Anderson, Brigadier General Kirby Smith and General Braxton Bragg. He was ordered to collect scattered cavalry troops and report to Gen. Joseph Wheeler, where he served until the end of the war. King was a graduate of State University of Georgia in Athens and was a lawyer, Mayor of Evergreen and served as principal of the Evergreen Academy. He passed away in Evergreen at the age of 82 on June 3, 1914 (some sources say June 5) and he was buried in the Old Evergreen Cemetery.

May 28, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Florence, Ala.

May 28, 1863 - The 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the Army’s first black regiment, left Boston for combat in the South.

May 28, 1878 – French sinologist and explorer Paul Pelliot was born in Paris, France. He is best known for his explorations of Central Asia and his discovery of many important Chinese texts among the Dunhuang manuscripts.

May 28, 1885 – Major C.L. Scott of Monroeville, Ala. and his private secretary, Col. B.L. Hibbard, were to set sail from New York for Caracas on this day. Earlier in the month, U.S. President Grover Cleveland appointed Scott to be U.S. Minister to Venezuela.

May 28, 1887 - Olympic athlete, baseball and basketball player Jim Thorpe was born in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma.

May 28, 1892 – In San Francisco, John Muir organized the Sierra Club.

May 28, 1902 - Owen Wister’s The Virginian was published by Macmillan Press. It was the first “serious” Western and one of the most influential in the genre.

May 28, 1907 - Journalist Eddy Gilmore was born in Selma, Ala.

May 28, 1908 Author, journalist and “James Bond” creator Ian Fleming was born in London.

May 28, 1909 – The Conecuh Record reported that 1.5 inches of rain fell in Evergreen, Ala. and about four inches fell on the following day.

May 28, 1913 – Poet May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah.

May 28, 1916 – Novelist Walker Percy was born in Birmingham, and he is best known for his 1961 novel, “The Moviegoer.”

May 28, 1922 - Alabama author John Allan Wyeth died in New York, N.Y.

May 28, 1929 – Conecuh County High School in Castleberry, Ala. was scheduled to hold graduation exercises and the commencement address was to be delivered by Dr. E.C. Moore, president of the Downing-Shofner Institute of Brewton. Also that night, CCHS principal G.M. Veazey was to deliver diplomas to 13 seniors. Members of the senior class included Anna Ree Brandon, Harvey Beard, Jessie Mae Ellis, Emma Lee Holland, Earle Howington, Ralph Howington, Lottie Lynch, Allene Miniard, Charles Price, Mary Ester Stapleton, Lillie Belle Stone, Hazel Clair Riley and Ercie Ward.

May 28, 1935 - John Steinbeck’s first successful novel, Tortilla Flat, was first published.

May 28, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, was officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, D.C., who pushed a button to signal the start of vehicle traffic over the span.

May 28, 1941 - The first night baseball game in Washington, D.C. took place. The Yankees beat the Senators, 6-5, at Griffith Stadium.

May 28, 1945 – The USS Eldridge departed New York City for service in the Pacific. En route to Saipan in July, it made contact with an underwater object and immediately attacked, but no results were observed.

May 28, 1946 - The first night game in the original Yankee Stadium took place. The Senators beat the Yankees, 2-1.

May 28, 1950 – On this Sunday afternoon, the Evergreen Greenies of the Dixie Amateur League were scheduled to play a doubleheader against Bay Minette in Bay Minette, Ala.

May 28, 1951 - Batting for the New York Giants against the Boston Braves, Alabama native Willie Mays gets his first hit in the Major Leagues--a home run. Born near Birmingham, the "Say Hey Kid" went on to be named National League Rookie of the Year and hit 660 homers in a legendary Hall of Fame career.

May 28, 1956 - Dale Long became the first to hit home runs in eight consecutive games.

May 28, 1957 - National League club owners voted to allow the Brooklyn Dodgers to move to Los Angeles and that the New York Giants could move to San Francisco.

May 28, 1959 – Lyeffion High School’s graduation ceremony was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. in Lyeffion, Ala. Dr. L.Y. Trapp of Troy State Teachers College was to deliver the graduation address, and Principal J.O. Yawn was to pass out diplomas to 28 graduates. Carolyn Brown was the valedictorian, and Betty Jane Riley was the salutatorian.

May 28, 1959 - Two monkeys, Able and Baker, became the first living creatures to survive a space flight. Their voyage reached speeds of 10,000 mph and lasted 15 minutes.

May 28, 1965 – Evergreen High School was scheduled to hold graduation exercises on this Friday night in Memorial Gymnasium at 8 p.m. Kay Holman was the valedictorian, and Nancy Nix was the salutatorian. Sixty-five students were expected to receive diplomas.

May 28, 1965 – Conecuh County High School in Castleberry, Ala. was scheduled to hold graduation exercises on this Friday night at 8 p.m. Donald Sawyer was the valedictorian, and Jimmy Oliver was the salutatorian. Twenty-nine seniors were expected to receive diplomas.

May 28, 1968 – Atomic submarine USS Scorpion, with a crew of 99, failed to return to its homeport in Norfolk, Va., seven days after sending its last routine message 250 miles west of the Azores. Presumed lost on June 5, a naval oceanographic research ship several months later would find its wreckage at more than 10,000 feet on the edge of the Sargasso Sea. The reason for its sinking remains undetermined.

May 28, 1969 – Army Cpl. Clarence Taylor of Greenville, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.
he Year and hit 660 homers in a legendary Hall of Fame career.

May 28, 1974 – John Drew of Beatrice, Ala. was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks.

May 28, 1988 – Major League Baseball relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel was born in Huntsville, Ala. During his career, he has played for the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres.

May 28, 1993 – English amputee and sprint runner Jonathan “Jonnie” Peacock was born in Cambridge, England. An amputee and sprint runner, he won gold at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, representing Great Britain in the T44 men's 100 metres event.

May 28, 1995 - The White Sox and the Tigers combined for 12 home runs at Tiger Stadium.

May 28, 2002 – The last steel girder was removed from the original World Trade Center site. Cleanup duties officially end with closing ceremonies at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York City.

May 28, 2004 – The Iraqi Governing Council chose Ayad Allawi, a longtime anti-Saddam Hussein exile, as prime minister of Iraq's interim government.

May 28, 2006 - Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hit his 715th career home run, allowing Bonds to pass Babe Ruth on the all time list into second place.

May 28, 2012 – The Conecuh County Veterans Monument was officially dedicated during special ceremony attended by over 100 people.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., May 28, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.55 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.75 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 5.35 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 12.85 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 22.20 inches

Notes: Today is the 148th day of 2015 and the 70th day of Spring. There are 217 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Historical marker tells of Old Church Street Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama

'Old Church Street Cemetery' historical marker in Mobile.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “OLD CHURCH STREET CEMETERY” marker in Mobile County, Ala. This marker is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of South Scott Street and Government Street in downtown Mobile, Ala.

This marker was erected by the Historic Mobile Preservation Society in 1950. There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are the same. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“OLD CHURCH STREET CEMETERY – 1819 – Established 1819 by city of Mobile for yellow fever victims. Buried in raised tombs are Spanish and French citizens of early Mobile, and many pioneer Americans.”

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I’ve been to this old cemetery a number of times and in my reading about this old burial ground, I’ve run across a few interesting facts. Here are a few that I think you might find interesting.

- The cemetery’s four acres (some sources say five acres) are enclosed by a brick wall that was first built in 1830. The property was originally owned by William E. and Joshua Kennedy, and the Kennedys officially sold the property to the City of Mobile on April 4, 1820.

- Prior to the establishment of the Old Church Street Cemetery, the city’s main graveyard was the Campo Santo, which was located near the present day South Claiborne Street in Mobile. Today, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception sites on the site of the old Campo Santo graveyard.

- The cemetery was closed to burials in 1898, but a few, special exceptions have been made since that time. Post-1898 burials include Mardi Gras revivalist Joe Cain, Mobile musician Bob Shultz and artist Eugene Walter.

- Catholics, Freemasons, Odd Fellows, Protestants, the poor and veterans all had their own sections of the cemetery at one time.

- The cemetery also includes a “Poets Corner,” which presently contains the graves of Cain, Walter and author Julian Lee Rayford.

- There are 20 rows of graves in the cemetery, and more than 1,000 people were buried in the graveyard during its nearly 80 years of official service. There are about 14-1/2 graves per row of grave in the cemetery.

- The cemetery was first established during a yellow fever epidemic that claimed nearly 300 victims in Mobile, which was about 20 percent of Mobile’s population at the time.

- The present entrance to the cemetery is located on the cemetery’s north side, but the original entrance was on the south side of the cemetery. That entrance opened off of what was called the Old Choctaw Road.

- Some sources say that the Old Church Street Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but this is something I haven’t been able to verify.

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.