Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for March 31, 2020

MARCH 28, 1974

Local weather observer Earl Windham reported 0.1 inches of rain on March 4, 0.2 inches on March 12, 1.2 inches on March 18 and 0.8 inches on March 21. He reported a high of 82 degrees on March 20 and lows of 38 degrees on March 17 and March 22.

Evergreen Police Chief James “Pappy” Ellis will turn the reins over to Russell Phillips when he retires Sunday. The popular chief is retiring after a career that saw him rise from “meter maid” to head of the police department. He will be honored Friday at a prayer breakfast.

It will be Chief Russell Phillips come Monday. The retired State Trooper Sergeant and former police chief at McIntosh will succeed Chief James Ellis who is retiring March 31. Phillips has been on duty with the Evergreen Police Department since March 1 to get familiar with the city and department personnel.

Phillip Harold Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Harold, Evergreen, an eighth-grade student, was winner of the spelling bee held at Marshall Middle School. Phillip, whose mother is the former Laurice Adams, will compete in the state finals in Birmingham on May 4 in a contest sponsored by The Birmingham Post-Herald.

Officer James R. Taylor of the Evergreen Police Dept. is attending the ninth session of the Southwest Alabama Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy at Faulkner State Community College in Bay Minette.

MARCH 26, 1959

Youngsters to show fine cattle April 20: Plans are proceeding for the annual Conecuh County Fat Calf Show to be held April 20. Assistant County Agent John Horne, J.H. Witherington and W.S. Coker are organizing a committee to stage the 13th annual show.
The committee will take the place of the Evergreen Junior Chamber of Commerce as sponsors of the show. The local Jaycees founded the show in 1947 and had sponsored it each year since, but the group disbanded last fall.
County youngsters are feeding out some 40 beef calves to enter in the show. Horne states that a number of these will grade prime and that the top calves may be the best in the history of the show.
The show will have no financial troubles as county residents have already provided funds for it through their gifts to the United Fund of Conecuh County.
The show usually draws a large crowd and the auction sale following it is one of the best of the year. County cattlemen usually sell a number of fed animals at this sale.
The Conecuh County Fat Calf Show is considered the best county show in the state and rates favorably with the district shows. The show will again be held at the Conecuh Cooperative Stockyards and will be followed by the sale.

Firm Records Song By Local Composer: The Star-Crest Recording Company of Hollywood, Calif. announces that it is considering for recording and national album release a song written by a local composer.
The composer is Miss Lucile Ross of 114 Belleville St. Her song is “Separation: Two Friends Part.”

George Ashcraft will serve as president of the Evergreen High School Parent-Teacher Association during the 1959-1960 school year. He and other officers were elected at the regular meeting of the PTA Tuesday night.
Elected to serve with Ashcraft were: Mrs. Ruby Moses, vice-president; Percy Brantley, treasurer; and Mrs. W.J. Millsap, secretary.

MARCH 30, 1944

Dr. H.H. Kendrick, former citizen of Evergreen, died suddenly at his home in Montgomery Saturday evening about 7 p.m. His death was said to have been caused from heart ailment. He had worked all day at his office and was taken ill shortly after arriving home, the end coming soon after he was stricken.
Dr. Kendrick practiced his profession of dentistry here for a number of years before going to Montgomery more than 20 years ago. Prior to his residence here, he lived in Greenville for a time.

Aviation Cadet Harry L. Johnston, son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin L. Johnston of Owassa, Ala., has completed approximately one-third of his Pilot Training and will soon report to an Air Corps Basic Flying School in Newport, Ark. for the intermediate phase of his flying training.
Before entering the Air Corps, Cadet Johnston attended Evergreen High School; Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Ala.; and the 55th College Training Detachment, Gettysburg, Pa. Cadet Johnston was accepted as aviation cadet at Montgomery, Ala., in March 1943.

Ensign R.G. Kendall Jr. will leave Friday for Hollywood, Fla., where he goes for training.

PIX THEATRE – A Martin-Ray Theatre – Evergreen, Alabama: Sunday, April 9th – “Son of Dracula” – Robert Paige, Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney.

MARCH 28, 1929

BERRY SEASON OPENS AS 1ST CRATES ARRIVED: Movement of Conecuh County strawberries by express started with a rush this week with the advent of warm weather and its continuation will likely mean that cars will begin moving sometime next week.
The first full crates came in to both Evergreen and Castleberry Monday. Steve Howard brought and shipped to Birmingham, Evergreen’s first crate while at Castleberry, R.B. Findley started the season off with four crates which were brought by G.T. Young and also shipped to Birmingham.

LOCAL TROOP RETURNS FROM FLOOD DUTIES: Concluding a 10-day stay in the Brewton-Flomaton flood zone, members of Evergreen’s national guard company, Troop C, 55th Machine Gun squadron, returned home late Monday to receive the praises of the commander, Capt. W.D. Lewis, for duty well performed.
The company left Evergreen Saturday, arrived in Brewton Saturday afternoon where headquarters was maintained until Tuesday, then moved on to Flomaton where they remained until Monday.
During the stay in the area, the major tasks of the troop were feeding 3,334 people, guard and patrol duty to prevent pilfering and looting, establishing contact with the outside world, dispatching emergency cases for the Red Cross and doing needful buying.

The northbound and southbound crews which are clearing and grading for the Evergreen-Castleberry highway will meet in about 30 days, according to estimate Tuesday by W.L. Flaughter, resident engineer of the state highway department.

MARCH 26, 1914

A northern gentleman, who is spending some time in Evergreen, says he saw the first shot fired on Fort Sumter.

1,482,254 bales of cotton were ginned in Alabama from the 1913 crop, 19,295 bales were ginned in Conecuh County, which was 1,376 more bales than was ginned in the county from the 1912 crop.

C.F. Archer has recently added a picture framing department to his photo gallery, where he will be permanently located. Archer does viewing, copying and enlarging. If you have an old, faded tintype, bring it. He will make it new.

Commencement exercises of Effie school, Tues. evening, March 31. Everybody cordially invited. Admission 25 cents and 15 cents.

S.L. Witherington of China was in the city Wednesday.

John Deming, who has been attending school at Marion for the past three months, returned home Thursday on a short vacation.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for March 30, 2020

Gov. James E. Folsom

MARCH 29, 2007

Sparta Academy senior Michael Campbell has been named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association all-state basketball team.
Campbell, a 6-4 forward/center, is a second team selection to the ASWA’s Alabama Independent School Association all-star team for all three classifications in the AISA.
He helped lead Sparta to the AISA’s Final Four tournament this season, where the Warriors suffered a 49-44 loss to Lowndes Academy in the semifinals at Huntingdon College.
Sparta also won the AISA, Class 2A regular season and tournament championships this season.
Campbell led the Warriors in scoring and rebounding this season, finishing the season averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Hillcrest High School’s baseball team has been snake bit again. This time the Jaguars had to choke down a 7-5 loss to Frisco City High School last Thursday in Evergreen.
Hillcrest’s five runs came on eight hits with Neil Presley, Marc Barlow and Quin Lee picking up two hits each to pace the offense.
(Other players on Hillcrest’s team that year included Jarrod Thomas, Ryan Moore, Keon McCaskill, Jerrod Thomas and Quinton Simpson. Rick Badger was head coach.)

MARCH 26, 1992

Evergreen native Bob Meeks is considered by many to be in line for an early selection in the upcoming National Football League draft April 26 and 27. Meeks gained national attention for his dominant play as a member of the Auburn Tigers.

“Bob Meeks is preparing for professional football future” by Artie Wright: Years of lifting weights and preparing his body and mind for ‘wars’ are paying off for Evergreen native Bob Meeks. The former Auburn University football standout is hoping to find out what direction his future will take him in the upcoming National Football League draft next month.
Taking some time off during spring break from Auburn, Meeks is visiting his family in Evergreen this week. But even his time away from the Plains is taken by his future prospect as a professional football player.
During a weight-lifting session at Hillcrest High School, Meeks talked with The Evergreen Courant about his years at Auburn, his hopes for the future and his feelings for his hometown.
Meeks’ consistent play and domination on the offensive line caught the eyes of many while playing center for the Tigers. His play helped the university win two Southeastern Conference championships and threaten for a national title.

MARCH 31, 1977

The Evergreen High School baseball team opened the 1977 season Tues., March 22, with a 15-9 win over J.F. Shields at Beatrice. Righthander Darnell Spears was the winning pitcher, allowing one run on three hits in three innings of work.
(Other players on Evergreen’s team that year included Tony Hawsey, Turner Murphy, Jimmy Lambert, Phillip Harold, Leon McCall, Ernie Edeker, Wendall Parker, Wayne Malden and Thomas Rodgers. Rex Bynum was head coach.)

Jimmy Zellers, 12, killed his first wild turkey Saturday morning and it was a fine one. The Tom weighed 19-1/2 pounds and had a 10-inch beard. Jimmy’s father called the turkey up to him.

Clyde Gibson celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary Friday morning by killing this 19-1/2 turkey. The bird had a 19-1/2-inch beard. The editor trusts that Clyde didn’t forget to give his good wife, Maurice, an anniversary present other than the turkey.

These Big Bam All Americans, representing radio station WBAM of Montgomery, will play the Castleberry Community Club tonight at 7:15 in the Conecuh County High School Gymnasium. Admission will be $1.50 for adults and $1 for students with all proceeds going to the club’s scholarship fund.

MARCH 29, 1962

Alma Martin Post 50, The American Legion will have a special showing of the films of the Alabama-Arkansas game in the 1962 Sugar Bowl at the Post Home Friday night at 7:30. The showing is open to the public, according to Commander Howard Geck.

The Evergreen Aggies will play their annual Green and White intra-squad football game at 7:30 Saturday night at Brooks Stadium.
Starters for the Greens are LE John Brock, LT John Pierce, LG James Ward, C Robert Rigsby, RG William Sessions, RT Stan Coker, RE Ronnie Jones, QB Sid Lambert, Halfback John Lowrey, Wingback Jimmy Warren and FB Leon Adams.
The Whites will lead off with Winston Pugh, LT Pete Tharp, LG Ronnie Shaver or Bobby Hammonds, C Alvin Dees, RG Bobby Lynch, RT Donnie Jones, RE Jimmy Weaver, QB Mike Mininger, Halfback Mike Borders, Wingback Bob Ivey and FB Paul Deason.
(Other players included Scott Cook, Jerry Horton, Steve Baggett, Johnny Huggins, Robin Cox, Vann Davis, Scott Cox, Bob Tanner, Tommy Hartley, Billy Kendall, Mike Moorer, Charles Pierce, Calvin Smith, Billy Wilkins, Eddie Thornley, Rusty Price (manager), Wayne Tolbert, Jimmy Ellis, Daniel Kelley, Brent Thornley, Joe Glass, Rodney Mitchell, Mike Fields, Ronnie Hayes, Billy Lynch, Ronnie Barlow, Arlie Phillips, Marshall Dees and George Fontaine (manager). Coaches were John Law Robinson and Lewis Ramsey.)

MARCH 27, 1947

Auburn Trustees Vote To Renew Football Tilt: MONTGOMERY – At a regular meeting in Governor James E. Folsom’s office, the board of trustees of Alabama Polytechnic Institute vote unanimously in favor of renewing the 40-year dormant football schedule between Alabama’s two leading universities.
The adopted resolution introduced by trustee, Dr. Joe Davis of Albertville, directed the president of Auburn to “make negotiations to resume athletic relations at the earliest possible date.”
The Auburn board made it plain that the next move is up to the University of Alabama Crimson Tiders.

Coach Wendell Hart has been putting about 35 aspirants for football through their daily spring practice workouts.
Several newcomers are giving last year’s returnees a scrap for the different positions. Glenn McIntyre, stellar halfback on last year’s squad, has been running from this position during spring practice. Mickey Logue has been operating from the quarterback slot and seems to be hitting the mark with his passes as good as ever.
(Other players participating in spring practice that year included Billy Carpenter, Hillmon Davis, John Law Robinson, James Ryan, Dean Shaver, S.L. Brooks, W.K. Salter, Arthur McCreary, Tommy White, Bobby Carter, Sammy Hanks, Harold Robison, Nick Stallworth, Shelton Craig, Benton Carpenter, Dickey Bozeman, Oliver Indindoli, Gillis Jones, Pete White and Billy Pierce.)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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

MARCH 25, 1999

Community mourns lost leader: Monroe County lost a friend during the weekend with the death of Col. Armistead R. Harper.
Harper, 82, died at Mobile Infirmary Sunday night from problems with his pancreas, according to his daughter, Pat Booker.
The Monroe County native retired in 1969 after 30 years in the regular Army and returned home five years later following a brief banking career in Yuma, Ariz.
It didn’t take him long to get involved in the community as he joined the Monroeville Presbyterian Church, Monroeville Kiwanis Club, was appointed to the Monroeville Planning Commission in 1975 and served in several other civic organizations.

Excel upends UMS in 3A Area 1 battle: Excel stunned UMS-Wright 2-0 to open its area baseball schedule Friday, then dropped an 8-4 decision to area rival Flomaton Monday.
Excel got the best of UMS-Wright’s Bulldogs at Murphy Park in Excel to open play in the 3A Area 1 race. Josh Deese scored what proved to be the winning run in the fifth inning in Excel’s 2-0 win over UMS-Wright.
(Other top Excel players in that game included Al Black, Jamie Duke, Jacob Ledkins, Keith McKinley, Jason McLelland, Jared McPhaul, Justin Mixon and Nathan Mixon.)

The Second Annual Writers Symposium May 6-8 will continue its celebration of Alabama writers and scholars. The focus for this year’s symposium will be “Alabama – the Place.” Participants will also attend a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the old courthouse Friday night.

MARCH 28, 1974

Newspaperman E.M. Salter dies: Edward Motley (Ed) Salter of Monroeville, former part-owner and business manager of The Monroe Journal, whose family ties to the newspaper stretched back to the early 1880s, died Saturday in a Pensacola hospital. He was 87.
Mr. Salter was a partner in The Journal from 1929 to 1947, but he first worked for the paper in 1907 as a printer for his uncle, Q. Salter.

Twenty-six men have been practicing three weeks for the Frisco City Whippets (during spring football drills), with nine returning starters on the squad.
Returning to the squad will be Larry Watts, a 155-pound strong side guard; Johnny Ridgeway, a 185-pound strong side tackle; Wayne McGinnis, a 165-pound tight end; Pat Banks, a 153-pound running back; Floyd Williams, a 140-pound end; Johnny Alread, a 160-pound running back; Mitchel Evans, a 140-pound fullback converted to quarterback; Ronnie McGinnis, a 150-pound end converted to center; and Willie Earl Lee, a 135-pound fullback.
(Other players going through spring drills included Lester Banks, Scot Brown, Jerry Browning, Barry Childs, Kenneth Dudley, Robert Finklea, Julius Lambert, Raymond Lett, Bobby McGinnis, David Peavy, Craig Sawyer, Albert Sims, Christopher Williams, Jerry Williams and Kevin Williams.)

Ziebach joins local firm: Elmo Douglas Ziebach, a native of Theodore, has joined Prouty Forestry Service in Peterman and Monroeville. He will serve as a buyer for Prouty Forestry Service.

MARCH 31, 1949

Journal Gets New Assistant Editor: John E. Hill, 23-year-old native of Boaz, has joined the staff of The Journal as an assistant editor, assuming his duties Monday.
A former student at Snead Junior College in Boaz, Mr. Hill has been a student for the past two years at the University of Alabama.
He will serve primarily as news editor and reporter for The Journal.

Baseball Training Begins At MCHS: Seventeen players reported to Coach LaVaughn Hanks Monday afternoon to begin workouts for the baseball season. Monroe County High will be fielding its first baseball team in a number of years. The first game will be played with W.S. Neal High on April 8. Games will be played at the new recreation center.
(Players reporting for that first practice included Felix Nicholas, Curtis Tomlinson, Havard Jaye, Bill Jaye, Karl Mims Lazenby, Kenneth Hundley, Bobby Moore, Alvin Ryland, George Klepac, Rusty Smith, John Calvin White, Bill Dailey, John Arthur Sirmon, John Arthur Morgan, Pink Jackson, Douglas Hendrix and William Fowler.)

Monroeville Soldier Assigned To Famous 2nd Armored Division: Camp Hood, Texas, March 31 – Sgt. Clarence W. Rawls, Monroeville, recently arrived at Camp Hood and has been assigned to the famous “Hell on Wheels” 2nd Armored Division.
A veteran of eight years military service, Sgt. Rawls served 52 months in the European Theater of Operations. He participated in the invasion of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and the Central European campaigns. For his services, he was awarded the European Theater ribbon and the Victory medal.

MARCH 27, 1924

The Monroe County High School will close its annual session in about two weeks. The graduating class this year will consist of forty-odd members, the largest in its history.

Mr. J.F. Davis has opened a new barber shop in the old courthouse annex. The place has been neatly fitted up and furnished with modern equipment.

Jacob Rikard, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Rikard, died at the family home on Thursday morning, March 20, after an illness of several weeks, aged 16 years. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. W.C. Tenney. Interment was made in the Baptist cemetery.

Judge I.B. Slaughter has been appointed trustee of creditors of the Moore Hardware company which recently closed its doors.

Mr. A.B. Tucker, traveling representative of the Montgomery Advertiser, spent a few days in Monroeville last week in the interest of that paper.

Hon. I.T. Quinn of Montgomery was a visitor to Monroeville Tuesday. Mr. Quinn has made a good record as State Commissioner of the Department of Game and Fisheries and is a candidate to succeed himself in that position.

BOY SCOUT MEETING: A meeting of local Boy Scouts will be held in the courthouse at three o’clock next Saturday afternoon for the purpose of electing a patrol leader and other officers. All boys throughout the county interesting in the organization of a troop are invited to be present at the meeting.

MARCH 29, 1889

Mr. J.T. Stevens is at work repairing the breaks made by the prisoners who recently escaped from the county jail.

The attractive new belfry to the Baptist Church has been completed, and the bell, which we learn is a gift to the church from Col. B.L. Hibbard of Birmingham, placed in position.

Distemper is prevailing among horses to a limited extent in this vicinity.

Tax Assessor Jones completed his second and last round of sittings for this year. He will start out soon to look up delinquents.

Mr. A.L. Boyd of Buena Vista has accepted a position as clerk in Capt. Wiggins’ store.

Judge Leslie has replaced the ancient rail fence opposite his residence with a nice plank fence.

Honor Roll of Bells Landing Academy for February 1889: Katie Stallworth, Minnie Hunt, Sarah Nettles, Minnie Chunn, Mattie Abernathy, Maria Pattison, Nannie Abernathy, Corinne Dunn, Katie Abernathy, Hellen Davis, Willie Davis, Ollie Grace, Harry Davis, Judson Chunn, Walton Hybart, Urn McCants and Willie Holloman. – M. Dannelly, Teacher.

Hon. Nick Stallworth of Evergreen was in town Monday on professional business.

Mr. Ryland, wife of Thos. Ryland of Burnt Corn, was stricken with paralysis last Thursday, 21st.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Historical Claiborne Cemetery was heavily damaged in July 1972

Old Claiborne Cemetery in Monroe County, Alabama.

(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 “Historical Claiborne Cemetery is damaged” was originally published in the July 20, 1972 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The peace and solitude that abounds around the Old Claiborne Cemetery was shattered last week by the angry snarl of the power saw, as the sharp whirling teeth bit into the trunks of the tall majestic pines that have stood for a hundred years among the final resting places of Monroe County’s earliest citizens. Before the shadows fell that day, most of these silent sentinels would feel the teeth of the logger’s axe. They were to fall across the very graves that they had protected and sheltered for well over a century. Their falling branches were to break and shatter most of the few remaining tombs that marked the plots in the City of Sleep.

The powerful machinery was to dig and gouge through the light turf as the heavy logs were dragged and pulled through the mounds and crypts, destroying or disfiguring everything in their path. Large piles of brush were to be pushed across the grave of a dear old lady, who had not many years before, selected the spot where she would sleep and wait for the final roll call of Eternity. The wheel of a huge skidder crushed into bits the small pot that held the lone artificial flower, placed there in tribute at the head of her grave.

And a short distance away, the same wheel was to break in two the marble slab that marked the burial place of a man whose descendants still live in the county today. The great old ironwood tree that had shaded the grave of Emily Bagby, wife of a governor, was cut down and dragged, to be left to hang crazily on the rim of the deep (gorge) known as the North Gorge.

The tomb of the Broken Hearted Stranger, of which many stories have been told, would lean at an awkward angle, the victim of a blow from the heavy machinery. The huge tire tracks were criss-cross the old cemetery, mashing beneath their paths countless unmarked graves of old Caliborne’s women and children, who were victims of the dread fever.

The few remaining markers were to point upward through the limbs and brush as though they were reaching skyward for the help that wasn’t coming. The sleep of the departed had been disturbed.

Yes, the old cemetery on the hill, overlooking the river, one of the most historical spots of Monroe County, is passing into oblivion. Visited by thousands who come and return again for reasons not known, it will soon be wasted away. The ties with the past will soon be broken, and all that will remain will be a memory to the few who care. And these pitiful few will look into the empty space where the grey granite makers once stood, and they will know that man had passed this way, and the place thereof shall know it no more.

[This column also included two photos, taken by Charles R. Floyd, of the heavily damaged Claiborne cemetery. The caption beneath the first photo read as follows: Portion of damage to tombs at Claiborne. The second photo caption said: Fallen trees shatter headstone at Claiborne Cemetery.]

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Yankee troops invaded Conecuh County 155 years ago in March 1865

Andrew Barclay Spurling

This month marks the 155th anniversary of one of the most dramatic events in the history of Conecuh County, an event that was so important that it resulted in a Congressional Medal of Honor.

The story begins in the closing months of the Civil War. The Confederacy was on the ropes, and the Union was doing all it could to win the war. In March 1865, those Union efforts included a sweep of forces up from Pensacola and Mobile into Southwest Alabama.

On Thurs., March 23, Union forces led by Lt. Col. Andrew Barclay Spurling departed Andalusia, where they’d destroyed Rebel arms, ammunition and government property, and began making their way to Evergreen. Spurling’s men drew close to Evergreen at dark and established a picket line of sentries. Spurling, a native of Cranberry Isles, Maine, is said to have advanced alone in the dark beyond the Union picket line to survey what lay beyond when he came upon three Confederate soldiers.

Spurling opened fire, and the Confederates shot back. Spurling wounded two of the rebels, and he took all three captive. One of the wounded men was a young officer, who also happened to be the son of Alabama’s Confederate governor, Thomas H. Watts.

It was for this incident that Spurling would eventually receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. War Department records say that Spurling’s actions prevented the Confederates from obtaining information about Union troop movements and “was of great value to the Union cause.” His obituary said that the Confederates were riding to get reinforcements, “which probably would have wiped out the Federal command.”

Later on March 23, around midnight, Spurling and his men reached the Alabama & Florida Railroad at Gravella. Located five miles north of Evergreen, today we call it Owassa. Almost immediately, Spurling’s men cut the telegraph lines running through the area and then started to tear up the railroad tracks, which Confederates used to ferry troops between Montgomery and the huge Confederate depot at Pollard, which is located in Escambia County.

Not long after, around 4:30 a.m., a train from Pollard came up the tracks, derailed and caught fire. Three hours later, a train from Montgomery came along carrying 100 soldiers and seven officers headed for Mobile. That train didn’t derail, but Spurling’s men captured it, burned the locomotive, a baggage car, four passenger cars and two freight cars containing clothes, corn and other supplies.

People living in Belleville heard about the Union invasion and all available men went to help. On the way to Gravella, they met a squad of Spurling’s cavalry and turned back toward Belleville. All the Belleville men got away except for one, who was riding a sick horse and was taken prisoner.

According to B.F. Riley’s 1881 book, “History of Conecuh County, Alabama,” the “people of Bellville, having learned of the capture of their sister village, Evergreen, a body of mounted citizens proceeded in that direction, for the purpose of reconnoitering. When they had come within three or four miles of Evergreen, they suddenly encountered a small squad of Spurling’s command, that had been sent forward upon the Belleville road to guard against any sudden demonstration on the part of the citizens, while the chief command was moving along the dirt road toward Sparta.

“This squad had dismounted near the Bradley Plantation, in a sudden curve of the road, to burn a wagon, which had just been captured, when the Belleville deputation rode suddenly upon them. The surprise was equally shared in by both parties, but evidences of precipitate flight having been first given by the reconnoitering Bellvillians, nothing was left the invaders but a hot pursuit. When a clattering, pell-mell, the citizen soldiery, still clinging to their shotguns, fled back toward home.

“All would have reached their homes in safety, but for a diseased horse, which was ridden by Willie McCreary. Unable to keep abreast of the others in the stampede, his animal, continued to slacken in speed until he was finally overtaken at Hunter’s Creek. Here, Willie, then a lad of 16, fell into the hands of the enemy and was sent at once to Ship Island, as a prisoner of war.”

This same day, according to the late A.D. Clark of Castleberry, Spurling’s troopers encountered a Mr. McCreary on the road leading into Evergreen at the top of Murder Creek Hill, present day Fairview. Near the site where the antique store is currently located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and U.S. Highway 84, McCreary was said to have been killed near this spot when he resisted as Union troops confiscated his wagon, goods and animals. Some say that the wagon contained corn, while others say the wagon also contained several piglets.

With all this in mind, you have to wonder if the wagon belonging to the “Mr. McCreary” mentioned by A.D. Clark was the same wagon that the Union troops were burning when the men from Belleville rounded the curve at the Bradley Plantation. Also, you have to wonder if the “Mr. McCreary” who was killed was related to the 16-year-old Willie McCreary who was taken prisoner. There’s also reason to wonder if the two names may have gotten confused over the years (or that if it was just a coincidence that they both had the same last name).

Ship Island is located off the Mississippi coast and was used as a prisoner of war camp and base for the U.S. Second Regiment throughout the Civil War. According to Civil War historian Steve Stacey of Monroeville, Ship Island “was an awful place,” where the guards “took potshots at Confederates going about their daily life.” What became of young Willie McCreary of Belleville remains unknown.

In any event, around 11 a.m. on Fri., March 24, Spurling entered Evergreen, where he destroyed some stores, foraged for rations and burned rolling stock at the train station. Evergreen was defenseless, and Spurling’s troops fired upon civilians and pillaged, stealing silver plate and jewelry. They also stole a number of mules and horses from surrounding plantations.

Around 2 p.m., Spurling headed toward Sparta, which was the county seat until 1866. Along the way, he burned railroad trestles and six box cars at the Sparta train station. His men went on to burn the train station and the Conecuh County Jail.

The next day, Sat., March 25, 1865, Spurling’s men left Sparta and headed for Brooklyn. They passed through Brooklyn around noon before entering present day Escambia County, headed for Pollard, which they reached around 6 p.m. on Sun., March 26. Between Sparta and Pollard, Spurling captured 20 prisoners in skirmishes and reached Pollard without losing a single man.

In the end, if you’re interested in reading more about this event, I encourage you to read “History of Conecuh County, Alabama” by Benjamin Franklin Riley and “Word From Camp Pollard, C.S.A.” by William H. Davidson. Both books go into greater detail about Spurling’s Raid, and history buffs in the reading audience will likely enjoy both books.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Theories abound as to how Monroe County's Old Texas community received its unique name

The old Rufus Owens Store in 'downtown' Old Texas.

The Old Texas community in northeast Monroe County, located 32 miles from Monroeville’s downtown square, is one of the most uniquely named places in all of Monroe County, and theories abound as to how the community got its name.

According to the book “Places Names in Alabama” by Virginia O. Foscue, Old Texas was first known as Simpkinsville for the house and store built there in the early 1800s by J.J. Simpkins. When a post office was established there in 1857 in the store built by Simpkins, the name of the town was changed to Old Texas “probably for the state,” Foscue wrote. Records reflect that the post office at Old Texas closed in 1866, shortly after the Civil War.

Another common theory about how Old Texas got its name involves settlers traveling down the Old Federal Road in the 1850s from the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia to Texas, which became a state in 1845. Many of these travelers abandoned their plans for Texas during the long journey there and settled in places like Simpkinsville. Since they’d told relatives back East that they were headed for Texas, some of them began calling their new home Old Texas.

Others say that pioneers from Monroe County went out to Texas, didn’t like it and returned home. Since they’d already been out to the relatively new state of Texas, they began calling their old Monroe County stomping grounds Old Texas. Others say that northeast Monroe County reminded many of these travelers of Texas, and they started calling it Old Texas for that reason.

A few days ago, I found myself passing through Old Texas and took a few minutes to visit some of the community’s prominent landmarks. Most maps agree that “downtown” Old Texas is located at the intersection of State Highway 47 and County Road 29, between Midway and Awin. This intersection is just north of the Owens Lumber Company property, and it’s also where you’ll find the old Rufus Owens Store, which closed in the 1980s.

As I stood there, thinking about what the community looked like in the 1800s, I couldn’t help but remember tales of how county road workers uncovered a large petrified tree in this area in the early 1970s. As workers moved dirt from the top of a small hill, it’s said that they uncovered an unusual rock formation and fossil bed. Among this was a petrified tree that was at least 18 feet long and 20 inches in diameter.

I’ve also been told that Indians lived throughout this area in the centuries before settlers arrived. One man, who is an avid arrowhead hunter, told me that at one time Indians living in the woods around Old Texas would come into people’s yards and draw water from their wells before disappearing back into the forest. This practice supposedly continued into the early 1900s.

Before heading back to Monroeville, I made a short trip down Highway 47 to Jenkins Chapel, a beautiful, old red-brick Methodist church that was organized in 1821. As best that I could tell, the cemetery next door to the church contains about 150 graves. The oldest marked grave that I saw there belonged to young Emma Collins, who passed away around the age of three in 1866.

I also took a few minutes to visit the nearby Byrd Cemetery, which is located adjacent to the Old Texas Community Church on Highway 47. This old cemetery looks to contain about 50 graves. The oldest marked grave that I saw belonged to J.G. Byrd, who also passed away around age three in 1858.

I eventually climbed back into my truck and pointed it south towards Monroeville. On the way home, I could not help but wonder if there are any old ghost stories or local legends associated with the Old Texas community. Are there any old Indian village sites or mounds in the Old Texas area?

In the end, let me hear from you if you know the answers to these questions or if you have any more information about the history of Old Texas. I’d especially like to hear from anyone with more information about how the community got its name. I think it’s important that we document this information for the generations to come before it fades into the shadows of the forgotten past.

Will local high school sports resume in time for spring football practice?

Coach Tom Jones

It’s been a weird week in local sports as the Coronavirus has shut down all sporting events for at least the next few weeks. I hope that things will eventually settle back down, so that our local high schools can wrap up their baseball and softball seasons. Spring football will follow soon thereafter, that is, unless the Coronavirus messes that up too.

My hope is that it won’t also mess up the local Cal Ripken baseball and softball seasons. This level of baseball and softball provides kids (and parents) with a lot of great memories, and I’d hate to see all of that get cancelled. Certainly, by the time all-stars roll around, the virus will be long gone.

This type of situation is not unprecedented. In the 1950s, football season and school was interrupted for a few weeks due to an influenza outbreak. Off the top of my head, I believe this took place in 1957.

Like all things, the Coronavirus situation will eventually wind down as long as everyone abides by the information being provided about how to stop the disease. Once the virus has run its course, the local sports scene will be able to return to normal.

Major League Baseball is looking at playing a shortened season due to the Coronavirus, but they hope to get in as many games as possible. One possibility is that Opening Day will be pushed back to mid-June, but most sources agree that Opening Day will be held in mid-May. Regardless of what happens, teams will need at least four more weeks of Spring Training to get ready for the season.

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I was looking through my notes the other day and noticed that today – March 26 – marks 56 years since football coach Tom Jones of Lee High School in Montgomery was the guest speaker at Evergreen High School’s 1964 Athletic Booster Club’s annual “All Sports Banquet” in the school’s lunchroom.

Jones was an interesting man. He played high school ball at Tallassee and the University of Chattanooga before serving in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he played football and baseball at Troy.

His first coaching job was at Hayneville High School, but when Lee High School opened in Montgomery in 1955, Jones took a job as the head football coach there. In his first 11 seasons at Lee High School, Jones went 92-13-5 overall and collected a number of state titles as determined by various polls and newspapers. This was in the days before the start of our modern state playoff system.

From there, Jones went on to Auburn, where he was coach of the university’s freshman football team. He later became the head football coach at Troy. From there, he went back to Lee High School in Montgomery, where he coached two more seasons, and he also coached at least one season at Lowndes Academy.

Overall, Jones posted a record of 151-46-14 as a high school coach and was also induced into the AHSAA’s Hall of Fame in 1992. As best that I can tell, Jones is still alive, and one is left to wonder what he thinks about the condition of high school football today. It would also be interesting to know if he remembers his trip to Evergreen way back in 1964.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wilcox County's UDC Chapter is the oldest chapter in all of Alabama

Sallie Cargill Jones

Tomorrow – March 26 – will mark 124 years since a group of Wilcox County women formed Alabama’s first official chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), an organization that still works to preserve the memory of those who fought for the Confederacy through historic preservation and education efforts.

According to the 1989 book “Men of Wilcox: They Wore the Gray” by Ouida Starr Woodson, Alabama’s first UDC chapter – Alabama Charter Chapter No. 36 – was organized in Camden on March 26, 1896 with Miss Sallie Cargill Jones as president. At that time, Alabama Charter Chapter No. 36 was the only UDC chapter in the entire state of Alabama.

“Miss Jones and most of the other charter members of Alabama Charter Chapter No. 36 remembered the days of the war,” Woodson wrote. “They had sent their brothers, fathers, husbands and friends to war with words of encouragement and love. During those perilous years, they worked to keep their homes and families safe, as well as to provide the necessities of life for the men on the battle lines. When death came to a son of Wilcox, they mourned his loss.”

In addition to Sallie Jones, there were 28 other ladies on the Camden UDC chapter’s original charter. Those women included Mrs. E.J. Bailey Sr., Miss Ada Beck, Mrs. Mary T. Beck, Mrs. William J. Bonner, Miss Mamie E. Boykin, Miss. B. McRea Boykin, Mrs. W.W. Boykin, Mrs. S.H. Bragg, Miss Fannie Campbell, Miss Willie Dexter, Miss Bettie Felts, Miss Anita Gaillard, Miss Kate Gaillard, Mrs. William A. George, Mrs. Sallie B. Horn, Mrs. E.N. Jones, Mrs. J. Paul Jones, Mrs. J.Y. Kilpatrick, Mrs. Dan McLeod, Miss Mamie McLeod, Miss Ervie McWilliams, Mrs. Ellen Moore, Miss Emma D. Moore, Mrs. S.D. Moore, Mrs. E.O. Rentz, Miss Jennie Rentz, Mrs. W.F. Spurlin and Mrs. S.J. Walling. No doubt these women probably have many descendants still living in Wilcox County today.

A few years before, many of these same women played a major role in forming the Ladies Memorial and Wilcox Monument associations, which funded the erection of the Confederate monument that can still be seen today in the Camden Cemetery. This monument was erected in April 1880 to honor the Confederate dead from Wilcox County. Despite the financial hardships of Reconstruction, the Ladies Memorial and Wilcox Monument associations raised $1,545.45 to pay for the monument, which is around $34,300 in today’s dollars.

The original members of Camden’s UDC chapter also collected many of the war service records connected with soldiers from Wilcox County. In fact, much of what is known today about these soldiers is due to their efforts. If not for their efforts, much of this information would have likely been lost forever.

Camden’s UDC chapter was also one of the seven original chapters that made up the Alabama Division of the UDC, which was officially formed in April 1897. The other original chapters were located in Auburn, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa. The Alabama Division of the UDC is still a thriving organization today as is Camden’s Alabama Charter Chapter No. 36.

Membership in the UDC is open to any woman, at least 16 years old, who is a lineal or collateral blood descendant of men and women who served honorably in the Army, Navy, or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America, or who gave material aid to the Southern fighting effort. Also eligible are those women who are lineal or collateral blood descendants of members or former members of the UDC. For more information about the organization and its membership requirements, visit its website at alabamadivisionudc.weebly.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for March 24, 2020

MARCH 29, 2012

Local weather reporter Betty Ellis reported .20 of an inch of rain in Evergreen on March 22 and .21 of an inch on March 23.

Unusual tracks found at Loree: When Buddy Raines set off for Evergreen from his home in the Loree community last Thursday morning, the sharp-eyed 62-year-old spotted something unusual in a cornfield near his home.
At first, he thought that someone had driven a motorcycle across the corn that he’d planted the previous Sunday, but upon closer inspection, he could tell that it was no motorcycle.
“Whatever it was wasn’t so heavy that it mashed into the soft dirt or messed up the rows very much,” Raines said. “Whatever it was, the track wasn’t there during the day on Wednesday. This was done sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.”
Raines wondered if the track may have been left behind by a large snake like the exotic anacondas and pythons that have begun to plague Florida in recent years.
The track stretched all the way across the field and was 12 to 13 inches wide. The track was just deep enough to flatten the tops of the furrows in the field. There also appeared to be a line in the tracks that indicated that it may have been caused by an animal with a tail.
Individuals who examined photos of the unusual track offered up a number of theories about what could be responsible. Animals mentioned included various snakes, alligators, snapping turtles, gopher tortoises, beavers, peacocks and otters.

MARCH 27, 1997

Harry Ellis of Evergreen was honored recently by WSFA-TV for his continuing contribution as a Storm Team Weather Watcher. Harry attended an appreciation dinner for the 31 Weather Watchers who call the WSFA Storm Center regularly, reporting weather data from their respective hometowns. WSFA’s Chief Weathercaster Rich Thomas commended him for ‘the part he plays in helping the Storm Team report accurate weather information from all around WSFA’s coverage area… especially during severe weather.’ Beginning in May, WSFA will recognize the Weather Watchers on the air for the work they do.

Crack in County Rd. remains a mystery: As the Conecuh County crack widens, the plot thickens over what is causing this unusual geological condition.
A thick, slippery layer of clay is getting the blame for the condition that has been drawing attention to the Repton area.
Emergency Management Agency coordinator Billy Mims said the apparent fault line appeared sometime between 5 and 6:30 a.m. March 18 and it has been spreading ever since. The crack in the ground is located on County Road 73, 4.8 miles east of Repton in the Springhill community.
As of last week, it was 300 yards long and as much as 60 feet wide in some places with varying depths of five to 23 feet.

MARCH 25, 1982

Earl Windham reports no rain last week and says: “No rain this time. I think ole Bob had better do the rain dance.”

Winners of the Conecuh County Spelling Bee are: first place, Rita Grace, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Feiro Grace; second place, Marsha Kennedy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Kennedy; and third place, Chris Wallace, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Billy Wallace. Rita will compete in the state contest in Birmingham in June.

The Evergreen Courant will begin in the near future a series entitled “Our Future Citizens” which will feature pictures of Conecuh County children. The Courant needs your cooperation to make this coming feature successful.

Twenty-six senior citizens were injured and their church bus destroyed Monday when it flipped and landed in a 12-foot-deep median south of Evergreen, State Troopers said.
The group from the First Baptist Church of Boaz was en route to Bellingrath Gardens south of Mobile about 2 p.m. when the driver lost control of the 1972 Chevrolet bus about 10 miles south of Evergreen on rain-slick Interstate 65, said Trooper Cpl. J.C. Fowler.
All passengers of the bus were injured, including 62-year-old driver Crawford S. Perry, said Fowler, adding that no charges were filed. Six passengers were admitted to D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital in Brewton, and five others were admitted to Evergreen Hospital. One woman was transferred from Evergreen to St. Margaret’s Hospital in Montgomery.

MARCH 30, 1967

Wolfe Ambulance Service will begin offering ambulance service to all of Conecuh County this Sat., April 1. Cope Funeral Home will end this service Friday. Frank Wolfe of Monroeville, owner of the new service, is already operating an ambulance service in Monroe County.

Warrant Officer One R.B. Griffin has started a 12-months tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He is the son of Mrs. Bertha Griffin of Rt. 1, Evergreen.

Service station operators were warned this week by Evergreen Police Chief John Andrews not to sell gasoline or other combustible fluids in glass containers. He pointed out that to do so is a violation of a city ordinance.
Andrews said that each year about this time when lawn-mowing is resumed there are violations of the ordinance reported. He said that it is very dangerous for gasoline to be carried in glass containers and enforcement of the law is necessary for public safety.

Marine Private First Class James C. Salter Jr., grandson of Mrs. Emmie Tatum of Rt. 1, Evergreen, is in Da Nang, Vietnam serving as a member of ‘A’ Battery, First Battalion, 13th Marine Regiment.

Lyeffion Principal Roy M. Davis crowns Ollie Mae Ward as Miss Lyeffion at the annual pageant Saturday night, sponsored by the Lyeffion FHA.

MARCH 27, 1952

Record Rainfall Here During Past Weekend: According to officials at the local Airways Communication and Weather reporting station at Evergreen Airport, the past weekend was the wettest since the opening of the station Nov. 19, 1949. Weather records beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday afternoon until 6 a.m. Monday morning show a total of 3.44 inches of rainfall for those 36 hours.
The station located at Middleton Field, Evergreen, is manned 24 hours daily by one or more of the following personnel: Walter L. Chambers, Chief, William S. Andrews Jr., Wiley H. Sanders Jr., Sparkman Long, Jack L. Broome.

With the Eighth Army in Korea – Cpl. Alton E. Cook, Belleville St., Evergreen, Ala., is now serving on the island of Kojedo, 40 miles off the coast of southern Korea, with the 121st Transportation Truck Co.

After serving for the past 10 months in Japanese and Korean waters, the landing ship tank USS 772 has arrived in San Diego, Calif. Serving aboard her is William E. Henderson, seaman apprentice, USN of Evergreen, Ala.

George W. Estes, age 44, popular and well known teacher of Vocational Agriculture at Lyeffion High School, died at a Greenville hospital March 19, following an illness of many months. He was a devoted member of the Church of Christ and a Mason.

Fort Riley, Kansas – Second Lt. William E. Dantzler, son of Samuel A. Dantzler, McKenzie, Rt. 2, Ala., received his gold bars at commissioning exercises for Army Officer Candidate Class 42 at Fort Riley, March 22. Lt. Dantzler graduated from the Evergreen High School in 1948 and entered the Army in October of that year.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for March 23, 2020

MARCH 25, 2004

Fifteen students of Taylor’s University of Tae Kwo Do in Evergreen traveled to Raymond, Miss. on Sat., May 13, to compete in the Mississippi Open Classic Karate Competition. The students won 24 trophies and seven medals.

MARCH 30, 1989

J.D. Taylor of Evergreen got this big one Monday morning. The Tom weighed 21 pounds and had a nine-inch beard and one-inch spurs.

Stan Pate of Mobile bagged his first wild turkey Friday, and it was a nice one, 18-1/4 pounds and 10-1/2 inch beard. Stan, who is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Pate of Castleberry, said he killed the Tom on “The Ponderosa.”

From “The Colyum” by Bob Bozeman: “March Madness,” the annual NCAA National Basketball Championship Tournament climaxes this weekend.
I am not real big on basketball, pro or college, but usually get involved during the NCAA tournament. My spirits were dampened when Alabama got whistled out of the tournament in the opening round.
I think Duke and Illinois probably have the two best teams in the Final Four, but both Seton Hall and Michigan are on a roll. If Michigan doesn’t wake up, and everything its players throw up continues to fall through the nets, the Wolverines will take it all.
(As it turned out, Bob was right. Michigan eventually went on to win the Big Dance in 1989.)

MARCH 28, 1974

Alvis Griffin killed this fine gobbler on the opening day of the spring turkey season Wednesday of last week. The bird weighed 18-3/4 pounds and had 8-3/4 inch beard. Alvis said he killed Tom “in the woods.”

Olen Brooks, son of Ida Woods, formerly of Evergreen was saluted by the Southern Star paper of Lansing, Michigan. He participates in major sports which include basketball, football, track and wrestling. He wants to go to Southern California to play football.
During the wrestling season, Olsen won three of his matches. He wrestled at 155 pounds. His shortest pin took him 26 seconds, and the longest, four minutes. Olen came in third in the city meet.

All funds raised at the two basketball games Thursday night, March 21, at Evergreen High School went to the purchase price of the piano. Roscellous McCreary for the PTA reports that the men’s and women’s games between the faculty members and the former students was great fun for all.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

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

Kathryn Tucker Windham

MARCH 25, 2004

Bypass gets new name: Community leaders stand under the recently erected sign marking Highway 21 Bypass as Martin Luther King Jr. Bypass in Monroeville. On hand for the event were Public Works Director Robert Sims, Barbara Turner, Mayor Anne Farish, Chris Williams, Ezra Cunningham, William Timmons, Councilman Billy Ghee, Robert Knight, Councilman Walter Williams, Willie James White and T.B. Berry.

Excel crushes foes in tourney: Excel High School scored 47 runs in three games to sweep through Monroe County High School’s baseball tournament undefeated last weekend in Monroeville.
Excel’s Panthers, 11-2, wrapped up the tournament Saturday evening by pounding the host Tigers, 15-5.
(Top players for Excel in that tournament included Brian Barlow, Toby Hilton, Kyle Holder, Josh House, Seth Mack, Josh Morgan, Chase Reeves, Ryan Smith, Justin Whatley and Blake White. Robbie Carpenter was Excel’s head coach.)

City clerks finish course: City of Monroeville municipal court clerks Billy Bowen and Wes Hines recently completed a certification program through the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts.
Bowen and Hines said they are two of only three municipal court clerks employed by the city to ever have completed the certification program.
Hines was hired in October 2000, and Bowen was hired in January 2001. Bowen and Hines said they enjoy their job and feel that the certification program will help them operate the city court more efficiently.

MARCH 22, 1979

Ghost story author talks to club: Mrs. Kathryn Tucker Windham of Selma, author and story teller, was guest speaker at the Monroeville Three Arts meeting Friday.
Mrs. Windham, most noted for her ghost stories, narrated some of the tales she has collected and written in her books.
She also brought with her a black velvet bag containing objects, which, according to Mrs. Windham, will keep evil spirits away. The objects in the bag included a horse shoe wrapped in red, a silver dime strung on a piece of cotton twine, a buckeye and a white cotton rag.
To be effective, the owner of the rag must run around his house at twilight waving the bag several times, Mrs. Windham said.

From Tigers to Patriots: Brent Hollinger and Barry Westbrooks, former Monroe County High School baseball stars, are beginning their college careers at Patrick Henry Junior College. Hollinger is the starting shortstop, and Westbrooks, still recovering from a sore arm, will pitch for the Patriots.

Scout troop to organize in Frisco City: Boy Scout Troop 218 was recently formed in Frisco City. The unit is sponsored by the Frisco City Town Council and will serve boys of the Frisco City area.
The troop’s first meeting will be tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. in Frisco City Town Hall.
Adult leaders of the troop include committee members Arthur Gunn, Charlie Howe, Rondel Ray, Kenny Till and Richard Pointer. Pointer will serve as scout master and Till as the assistant scout master.

MARCH 25, 1954

Names Of 34 Monroe Men Are Listed To Fill April Draft Quotas: Names of 34 Monroe County men who will fill Selective Service quotas during the month of April were released this week by Miss Jewell Coxwell, clerk of the local draft board.
This number included four men who will go for Army induction on Wed., April 28, and 30 men who will leave for pre-induction physical examinations on Mon., April 5.
Names of men leaving for induction on April 28 are William Miles Shiver Jr. of Frisco City, Joseph Morgan Jordan of Monroeville, Barnie Odom Jr. of Natchez and Robert Louis Crook of Rt. 1, Drewry.

Defense Offered By Blacksher Bulldogs In Spring Grid Drills Said Impressive: J.U. Blacksher High’s Bulldog gridders ended three weeks of Spring practice Wednesday.
Coach Robert Riley said the Uriah team for 1954 was more impressive defensively than in any other respect in scrimmages with some members of the 1953 squad.
(Top players for Uriah that spring included center, Isaac Lambert; guards, John Roy House, Ivey D. Brantley and Lavon Smith; tackles, Al Gene Hines, Joe Ed Hayles, Lee Peacock and Murray Tyson; quarterback, Jack Madison; left half, Frank Hadley; right half, Harold Brown; and fullback, Harold Holder.)

Explorer Scouts Plan Conservation Project: Monroeville’s Explorer Scout Post No. 24 has adopted as one of its “Conservation Good Turns” for the year the planting of bi-color lespedeza for quail feed.
Boy Scouts have been called upon by President Eisenhower to carry out a “National Good Turn” this year in the field of conservation of natural resources.

MARCH 28, 1929

HELP THE MASONIC ORPHANS: Monroeville Chapter Order of the Eastern Star invites and urges all Masonic families and any friends who may be invited to contribute toward our Easter box for the Masonic Home. All contributions and gifts to be left at Hixon’s Store in care of Alfred Nettles, Friday and Saturday. – MRS. ALMA HENDRIX, Worthy Matron.

The numerous friends of Prof. G.M. Veazey regret to learn that he is in a hospital in Birmingham suffering a broken leg as the result of an automobile accident while in attendance on the convention of teachers in that city last week.

A statement given out by the Department of Commerce in Washington on March 20 showed that there were 15,260 bales of cotton ginned in Monroe County from the crop of 1928, prior to that date. There were 19,056 bales ginned in 1927.

The people of Monroeville and surrounding communities contributed about 2,000 pounds of clothing and shoes to flood sufferers last week when the call for help was sent out by the American Legion. About 400 pounds of beef and trucks loaded with provisions were sent to Brewton.

Mrs. W.R. Rutledge has opened the Style Shoppe in the Simmons building and will carry the very latest things out in millinery and novelties. Everything is brand new and numerous styles to select from.

Mr. O.M. Crook of Burnt Corn stated the first of the week that he has not found the mule he lost last Fall. If any person finds this mule and will communicate with Mr. Crook, suitable reward will be paid.

MARCH 24, 1904

Mr. W.B. McKinley of River Ridge was in to see us Monday and exhibited drawings of a combination plow and cultivator invented by him and on which he has lately obtained a patent.

Millinery Opening: The Spring Opening of Hats and Millinery goods will take place at Misses Jennie and Callie Faulk’s establishment on Mon., April 4, when a choice selection of seasonable goods will be on exhibition for the admiring inspection of their fashionable patrons. A cordial invitation is extended to the ladies of the city and community to call and make selections.

A Lively Corpse: The Journal is very glad to be able to correct the rumor that has gained currency in various portions of the county within the past few days of the demise of Mr. A.K. McKenzie, candidate for Tax Collector. The report is probably the result of confusing the name of Mr. McKenzie with that of Mr. S.W. McKinney who died a few days ago near McWilliams. At last accounts, which was only a few days since, Mr. McKenzie was enjoying his usual good health and actively engaged in prosecuting his canvass.

Another Deal in Dirt: Mr. McLean Conoly has purchased from Mr. C.J. Holloway the livery stable property on the southeast corner of the square together with the plot of ground annexed thereto, consisting of about six acres. Mr. Conoly will tear down and remove the stables when the lease of the present occupants expires on July 1 and divide the ground into building lots for business and residence purposes. Mr. Conoly contemplates building a dwelling for his own use on one of the lots and those remaining will be put on the market.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Prehistoric shark tooth found on banks of Alabama River at Claiborne

Giant jaws of a prehistoric shark.

(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 “Carcharodon Shark tooth found on Claiborne bank” was originally published in the June 22, 1972 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

There was a time during the last 405 million years when, if man had been around, it would have been possible to see a 40 or 50-foot shark. This could have been done right here in what is now Monroe County. Strange, yes, but true. All evidence points to this fact that the large (Carcharodon) shark were common in this area.

These large prehistoric fish came into being during the Devonian period, which began about 405 million years ago. This period lasted about 60 million years, and during this time the great expansion of fishes took place. Also, came the expansion of land plants and the first land animals, primitive amphibians.

Throughout the ages the shark has survived. Like man in many respects, this killer of the deep has adapted well to his environment. He has survived when a great many of his kindred have disappeared completely from the face of the earth. The shark is one of the few living creatures that can reproduce new teeth. As they lose a tooth, another grows in its place. This is believed to be one of the major factors that has contributed to their survival through the ages. Another is that they are to be found in all the oceans of the world. They can adapt to the different water temperatures, although it is a known fact that they are more commonly seen in the warmer waters of the world.

The shark is one of the greediest eaters and killers of all sea animals. They suffer from continual hunger. Their stomachs won’t let them rest. Almost as soon as they eat, they must begin their search for more food. Eating almost anything, they have been known to follow ships for days at a time to get the waste and food that is thrown overboard. They have been known to wait in the shallow waters along the beaches, where they prey on bathers.

There are many species of sharks. Some of the known today are the whale shark, the basking shark, the hammerhead, the dusky, bullhead, mako, dog, leopard shark and the black tip. Some have their young by laying eggs. But most bear their young live, from three to six or more, at a time. The young are quite large, considering the size of their parents. For example, the female Black Tip shark is usually around five feet long. Her young will measure about 1-1/2 feet long at birth.

The tooth that is pictured was found on the river bank at Claiborne. It is believed to be a jaw tooth of the large (Carcharodon) shark mentioned earlier. Also, it is one of the best preserved that I have ever seen. The edges are still quite sharp, almost to the sharpness of a razor. The tooth is highly polished, and is quite sound throughout.

It is believed that the large (Carcharodon) shark could open its mouth in excess of five feet from top to bottom. This would mean that the killer of the deep could swallow a grown full-sized man. There have been instances when large sharks were caught and killed, and when the contents of their stomachs were examined, it was discovered that a human skull was among the grewsome contents.

There was a time, not long ago when I was involved in the manly sport of scuba diving. One day, when I was diving, a large shark that seemed to be half the length of a football field, scared the living daylights out of me.

Man might adapt well to other environments, but it didn’t take long for me to decide that I was out of mine. I feel sure that I hold the record (official) for removing myself from the shark’s environment, to the high dry ground of mine.

[This column also included a photo, taken by Singleton, of a shark tooth that measured nearly two inches in length. The caption beneath the photo read as follows: The right upper jaw tooth from the prehistoric Carcharodon shark that was abundant during the Devonian period.]

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Conecuh County's Old Town was once a rest stop on ancient Indian trail

Old Town Baptist Church in Conecuh County, Alabama.

As its name indicates, the Old Town community is one of the oldest communities in all of Conecuh County, going all the way back to the days when Indians lived there hundreds, maybe thousands, of years before pioneer settlers arrived in what would become Alabama.

According to B.F. Riley’s “History of Conecuh County,” the area around Old Town was a “favorite” among the “original resident tribes.” Riley wrote that this area was a rest stop on a “great trail” that ran from the Chattahoochee River to Pensacola.

“It is supposed, from its original size and apparent importance, to have been the headquarters of some of the tribes,” Riley said. “Here was an extensive community, with all the evidences of having been for a long period occupied. The huts, the patches of ground, the extensive play-grounds and the order in which they were kept, the marks on the trees, the neighboring streams, and the cool, perennial spring, which bursts from amid the hills near the old camp-ground - all these would indicate that it was a point of unusual importance with the native inhabitants.”

Settlers moved into this area in the early 1820s and some of its early settlers included Capt. Wilson Ashley, Joel Brown, Richard Curry, Adam McCreary, Levi T. Mobley, William Rabb Sr., Matthew Ray and John Scoggin. A post office opened at Old Town in 1821, and the community eventually grew to include a grist mill and saw mill on Old Town Creek, a water gin and at least two stores. A place called Scoggins’ Meeting House is said to have been one of the first places for public worship in this part of Conecuh County.

Last Thursday afternoon, I found myself in the Old Town community and took a few minutes to visit some of the community’s old landmarks. Located about seven miles east of Evergreen on U.S. Highway 84, the two most prominent landmarks at Old Town are the Old Town Cemetery and the Old Town Baptist Church. The church was established in 1835, and the cemetery dates back to the 1850s.

I spent a few minutes admiring the old church and then crossed the road for a brief tour of the cemetery. Off the top of my head, I’d say this cemetery contains around 600 graves and the oldest marked grave that I saw last Thursday belonged to Martha Perryman Stallworth Gallaher, who died at the age of 75 on Oct. 31 (Halloween!) in 1862. She was born in South Carolina in 1787.

From there, I cut north on Old Town Church Road and stopped at the Old Flag Tree marker, which is located on the west side of the road, a short drive from the church. The Old Flag Tree itself is long gone, but according to Riley, the tree’s name was “derived from the banner-like shape of its branches at the top. For six or eight feet the trunk (was) utterly bare of branches, when they assume the shape of a flag by growing in a single direction. There was a tradition among the early white settlers to the effect that this towering tree was a signal to the Indian traders passing from the Chattahoochee to Pensacola, as it was to all the bands prowling through the country.”

From there, I continued down Old Town Church Road to the bridge over Old Town Creek. The last time I was there was with my late father and my young son. My father grew up in this area, and he told us that when he was a boy, he saw a huge frog on this bridge that was so large that in later years he wondered if he’d dreamed about it instead of actually seeing it.

He also told us that there was an old house along this road that had a deep well in the back yard. When he was a boy, the adults told all the children in the community that a ghastly creature called “Bloody Bones” lived in the well and would get you if you got too close to the well. He said that he didn’t know if there was any truth to this tale, but he figured that it was told to keep children from playing too close to the dangerous hole in the ground.

Eventually, I climbed back in my truck and headed back towards Evergreen. On the way back to town, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any other ghost stories or local legends associated with the Old Town community. It would also be interesting to know if there are any old Indian sites or mounds still in this area today. If you know of any, please shoot me an e-mail and let me know, because I think it’s important to document these types of things for future generations.