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WHS Tour of Homes 2022

WELCOME TO THE TOUR OF HOMES!

Please read all of the following information. If you still have questions, please email us wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. We would also love for you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Set on the Eastern Side of Wilcox County, Historic Furman, Alabama, is the site of the Wilcox Historical Society’s Tour of Homes, Saturday, March 26, 2022. This year’s tour includes nine homes and two historic churches. Registration will be at Furman Methodist Church both Friday and Saturday. All ticket holders will need to register at the church to receive an arm band, brochure and map. Your arm band is needed for all events!

The Tour this year will include the Purifoy-Lipscomb Home, c 1840; Moore-Burson-Rushing Home, c 1885; Wakefield Plantation, c 1840s; Magnolia Glen – the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, c 1833; Laura Ann – the Watson-Moorer-Tabor Home, c 1860; Rockwood – the Cox-Robbins-Kennedy-Snyder Home, c 1855; Deerfield – the Perdue-Williams-Estes-Suggs Home, c 1895, Fox Hill, c 1840s and Patience Plantation, c 1841. The two churches on the Tour will be Bethsaida Baptist Church, c 1858 and Furman Methodist Church, c 1882. Also on tour is the original Alabama Baptist Newspaper building – first published in 1843.

All tickets holders will be provided breakfast Saturday Morning at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill. Breakfast will be offered from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. Brittany House is located at 5931 Highway 21 in Oak Hill – about 15 minutes from Furman.

For our VIP Guests, the weekend starts with a Welcome Reception Friday Night, March 25, 2022, at 6:00 pm, on the grounds of Historic Wakefield Plantation in Furman. This special event will feature wine and hor d’oeuvres provided by one of our Platinum Sponsors, The Pecan on Broad in Camden, Alabama. Valet parking will be provided. Cocktail attire.

Our special guest speaker at the reception will be P. Allen Smith. Mr. Smith is often described as one of America’s most talented garden designers. Read more about him below.

Also at the reception enjoy music from Tommy Ward. Mr. Ward has been compared to Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble. He is a singer and musician with a classic sound and silky voice. See below to listen to one of his recent YouTube videos.

Tickets are available online (see link below) and will be available for purchase the day of the Tour and Friday beginning at 5:00 pm. Members – please note: the $10 discount can only be given on tickets purchased locally.

https://www.eventbrite.com/…/wilcox-historical-society…

GENERAL INFORMATION

Schedule for Friday, March 25th (for VIP ticket holders only): Registration at Furman Methodist Church opens at 5:00 pm. Welcome Reception at Wakefield begins at 6:00 pm. Reception Guest Speaker, P. Allen Smith begins at 7:00 pm.

Schedule for Saturday, March 26th: Breakfast at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill from 8:30 -10:00 am. Registration at Furman Methodist Church opens at 9:30 am. The Tour of Homes from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Lunch at the Furman School and KayBri from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.

-The Tour of Homes on Saturday, March 26th is from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm central time.

Lunch locations Saturday, March 26th – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm will be in Furman at KayBri located at 8654 Freedom Farm Road aka County Road 59 in Furman (across from Bethsaida Baptist Church) and at the Furman Community Center located at 8191 County Road 59 in Furman. Lunch at the Community Center will be catered by The Pecan on Broad. Please see below for lunch menus.

Pop-Up Shops featuring The Pecan on Broad, Fox and Hen, Black Belt Treasures and Coast to Coast Hardware -all from Camden, will be located at the Furman School.

Restroom locations on Saturday will be at Bethsaida Baptist Church, Furman Methodist Church, KayBri, Little House – Moore-Rushing Home (stop #9 – behind the house in the boot room) and the Furman School.

Furman is located about 35 miles from Greenville off I-65, about 40 miles from Selma, and 21 miles from Camden. From Mobile via I-65 Furman is 155 miles, from Birmingham – 153 miles, and from Montgomery – 74 miles.

-Hotel availability in nearby Greenville – Best Western, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

Portrait photography of P. Allen Smith on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, at Moss Mountain Farm in Roland, Arkansas.

P. Allen Smith, often described as one of America’s most talented garden designers, is the product of five generations of southern nurserymen. His foundational childhood experiences in planting naturally led to an appreciation for horticulture, genetic diversity, plant pairing and for an orderly and holistic approach to work. Later, as a garden and landscape graduate student in England, his design processes were refined to embrace each site’s unique characteristics and the needs of each unique commissioning family. Eschewing fashion, Mr. Smith identifies and sensitively accentuates the natural gifts of the landscape, imparting balance, harmony and beauty in the classic tradition of Palladio, Brown, and Repton. His designs are an expression of his client’s lifestyle and their legacy­­ melding site with living material and improvements to create environments that mature and improve with the seasons. And Mr. Smith’s many esoteric interests and insights allow for a myriad of inclusions such as ornamented aviaries, sheep pastures, walled gardens, fruit orchards, kitchen herb gardens, container gardens, stumperies, rare rose collections, wildflower and pollinator fields, apiaries, ponds, and architecturally appropriate built structures and follies. The result for his clients are timeless gardens and landscapes.

Part of Mr. Smith’s life mission is to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for design and beauty. His generosity of spirit has produced a significant body of accessible work for the public. To date, he is the author of six best­selling books, host and producer of one of PBS’s most successful and award-­winning television shows, he runs a media enterprise focused on garden design and health, he is a speaker at many of the country’s important architectural and historic homes (and opens his own home to the public each Spring and Fall). He is regularly quoted in national publications and was a regular garden contributor on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Mr. Smith’s work has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Architectural Digest, People Magazine, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Southern Living, Southern Accents, Flower Magazine and over 100 additional publication titles. Mr. Smith is deeply passionate and involved with preservation and conservation efforts. In addition to green building and material use in his designs, he is a trustee of Winterthur House, a former board member of the Royal Oak Society (of the British National Trust), is a certified fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, an honorary member of the Garden Club of America, the Honorary President of the Herb Society of America, and a life member of the Livestock Conservancy, Rare Breeds Trust (UK) and the Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities. He is a TEDx speaker and the founder of the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. Mr. Smith makes his permanent home with his partner, two Scottish Terriers, and hundreds of heritage birds in Arkansas, where his voracious appetite for new projects, design challenges and sharing his love of the garden with new friends takes shape at his design studio and farm. His visit is sponsored by The Pecan on Broad, The Fox and Hen in Camden, and Bailey Dunagan Properties & Investments.

Tommy Ward, jazz crooner from Las Vegas, will be our musical guest at the VIP Welcome Reception on Friday night!

Menus for Saturday’s Lunch

A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR 2022 TOUR OF HOME SPONSORS

Platinum Sponsors – The Pecan on Broad, The Brittany House Antiques, Fox and Hen Camden, Bailey Dunagan Properties & Investments, Laura and Schley Rutherford and John and Zoe Hunter

Gold Sponsor – Town-Country United Bank

Silver Sponsors – Coast to Coast Hardware Camden, Handiman Building Supply, Garland and Lathrop Smith and Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center

Bronze Sponsors – Wilcox Progressive Era, Commissioner’s Pit Stop, Whitaker Drugs, Camden Jewelry & Gifts, McGraw-Webb Chevrolet, Urban Cookhouse, Holman Insurance, Community Neighbor Bank, Big Daddy Lawler, Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce and Albritton’s Florist

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Winter 2022

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season with family and friends. We have an exciting 2022 ahead of us. We will build on last year’s unprecedented success to continue our positive impact in Wilcox County. Thank you all for being part of the team!

 Please plan on attending our next meeting, Sunday afternoon, February 20th, at 2:00 pm at the Female Institute. The Board will be presenting the renderings and floor plans for the expansion of the Institute. We have received four versions and after discussion and revisions have come up with an exciting product that preserves the original look of the building while making it functional for our current and future needs. We look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Thank everyone that has already contributed to this project. The WHS Classes of 1962 and 1963 gave a generous contribution to the Female Institute in honor of Governor Kay Ivey last month and others targeted year-end donations that were matched by their employers. In addition, we are continuing to explore grant options to help us raise the needed funds to complete this important project.

As if that were not enough, many of you have given generously in memory of WHS Member Palmer Hamilton. Your contributions will go toward the preservation of our historic buildings which he was so passionate about. Thank you all for honoring his legacy.

Our Tour of Homes in Historic Furman with Guest Speaker P. Allen Smith is right around the corner! Ticket sales online have been quite strong thus far with a majority of tickets sold being our Friday/Saturday VIP Ticket. Tickets are now available locally in Camden at The Pecan on Broad, Fox and Hen, and in Oak Hill at The Brittany House Antiques. I strongly suggest you get your tickets early as the Friday Night Reception is on track to sell out.

We need your help working as home guides this year. There will be shifts, so you will have plenty of time to see the homes on Tour. Ms. Mary Glen Grant is our volunteer coordinator this year. She can be reached at maryglengrant@protonmail.com. Please help us make the Tour a great success by volunteering!

I am happy to announce the continuation of our Concert Series in 2022! We are currently planning a concert in April/May and one in July as well. Your support of these special events has allowed us to continue to bring great music to Wilcox County. It is our plan to expand these special events to allow children from our schools to experience the music during the day before the evening concerts. We will release the dates as soon as they are available.

Finally, I would encourage everyone to visit the Pieces of History Exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Pieces of History tell the story of early 19th century Southerners and what they moved with them, purchased, made, and used while they made homes and lives and includes pieces of furniture and stories from Wilcox County. I had the pleasure of seeing the exhibition in New Orleans and it is really fantastic. It is in Montgomery until April 10th.

We made great strides in 2021 and have big plans this year. Make sure to renew your membership to continue to be a part of this special organization. Thank you for your support and I hope to see all of you on February 20th!

Sincerely,

Lance Britt, WHS President      

WELCOME to new members: from Alabama –John and Lou Harmon of Pine Apple, Governor Kay Ivey of Montgomery, and Gill and Robyn Deitheim of Birmingham. And welcome to new member Jeri Jones of Commerce City, Colorado!

And welcome to new Life Members –Linn and Trisha Pritchett of Minter, Alabama! Thank you all for joining the WHS!

TOUR OF HOMES UPDATE 

As you know, our Tour of Homes in Furman is Saturday, March 26th with a Welcome Reception Friday night, March 25th. To date, we have already sold over $10,000 in tickets to this year’s Tour. With your help we will make this year’s Tour another success.

There are two tickets this year. Our VIP Ticket is $100 and gets you in to both the Welcome Reception Friday night at Wakefield and Saturday’s Tour. The standard ticket is $50 and is a Saturday only ticket. WHS Members receive a $10 discount on their tickets when you purchase them locally. The discount is not available through eventbrite.com. All ticket holders will get breakfast at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill Saturday morning from 8:30 – 10:00.

The weekend starts for our VIP Guests with Friday night’s Cocktail Reception at Wakefield in Furman at 6:00 pm with Guest Speaker P. Allen Smith, renown Landscape Designer, speaking at 7:00. The Pecan on Broad will be providing all the hor d’oeuvres, wine, and other refreshments. We are very thankful for their continued support as a Platinum Sponsor of Tour this year as well as the Fox and Hen. Valet parking will be provided at Wakefield Friday night.

This year’s Tour will feature eight homes and two churches as well as other historical buildings in Furman. Homes on tour include the Moore-Burson-Rushing Home, c. 1885; Wakefield Plantation, c. 1840s; Magnolia Glen – the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, c. 1833; Laura Ann – the Watson-Moorer-Tabor Home, c. 1860; Rockwood – the Cox-Robbins-Kennedy-Snyder Home, c. 1855; Deerfield – the Perdue-Williams-Estes-Suggs Home, c. 1895; Fox Hill, c. 1840s; and Patience Plantation, c. 1841. The churches on tour are Bethsaida Baptist Church, c. 1858 and Furman Methodist Church, c. 1857.

All guests, including WHS Members, will register at Furman Methodist Church (across the street from the Post Office) upon arrival either Friday or Saturday to receive their arm band for the weekend.

As previously mentioned, we need your help as house guides this year. You will have time before or after your shift to see the other homes on Tour and you will be given the information about your assigned home in advance so you will know what to share with our guests. Please contact Mary Glen Grant to volunteer. She can be reached at maryglengrant@protonmail.com.  We need your help!

Laura Ann – the Watson-Moorer-Tabor Home, Furman, Alabama

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – Laura and Kent Tabor

We met in January, 1974. I was attending Riverside Military Academy; she was attending public school. I informed Rita, Laura’s mom, that I was going to marry their daughter when we graduated. 

We married right after high school, 1976. We spent the first two years of our married life in Germany, I was in the Army Military Police, and discharged from the Army in 1979 after serving my obligation. While there we were impressed at the history and age of things around us. We visited many old castles and villages.

Kandace was born in Germany, 1978, and was seven weeks premature. Kelli was born in 1981 in Michigan. We have five grandchildren ranging in age from 10 to 15.

Laura and I worked together off and on, in the family business in Michigan until 1982 when we left for sunny Florida. Laura worked in Port Everglades and I learned to install carpet and then run a warehouse. In 1985 we moved back to Michigan. I went back to school during the nights and Laura worked days for a company in the accounting department. I got my Bachelors in Business Management and shortly thereafter re-joined the family business where I stayed for the next twenty-five years. Laura worked in our accounting department for many years. When the girls entered high school, Laura decided she would remain home. When we sold the business in 2017, we had over one hundred employees.

We have always been drawn to older homes that seem comfortable and in need of a little TLC. The majority of homes we owned have been at least 100 years old.

We also enjoy attending auctions that feature antiques and unusual items.

While deer hunting in Eufaula in 2017, I really liked the feeling of Alabama and the South. We talked about finding a small place in Alabama but did not really pursue that idea.

We found Furman by a twist of fate.

In 2018 we booked a hog hunt in Beatrice, Monroe County, Alabama.  While there I had my lap top out and was looking for available land. It turned out that our host was also a real estate agent. Laura and I both wanted something small and manageable. The agent kept taking us to properties that did not fit with what we were imagining. 

Laura has joined me on many hunts and has often been the only woman at camp. She gets along with people and has helped recover harvested animals. (Ask her about Newfoundland someday.)

We were browsing the internet when we came upon the Moorer house being sold through Great Southern Land Company in Camden. Our agent reached out to Don Donald and set up a meeting. We toured Furman first, and Mr. Donald pointed out many of the homes and gave us some history about the area. Our first positive note was Don’s welcoming attitude.

When the Moorer house came into view it was an “Oh wow!” moment. I looked at Laura and said, SOLD. She told me to hold on. As we approached the house, I noticed that Laura was very interested and knew that we had found our winter home. The house was not in great shape but as they say “the bones are good.” The hand planed walls and the circa 1855 build date were an added bonus.

We made an offer on the home and it was accepted. Soon afterwards we met Pastor Don Bell and attended Bethsaida Church. We immediately felt accepted by the congregation and the community.

Out initial intention for the house was a modest clean-up and upgrading of structure. Ha.

Laura and I contacted Don Bell to help us move the stairway out of the dogtrot. That was the beginning of over a year long restoration of the house. We installed all new plumbing, wiring and HVAC and a front and back porch. The original structure has been shored up and repaired where needed; all piers under the house were replaced. The heart pine floors were repaired (there had been some termite damage). Four fireplaces were constructed in their original locations. Mortises and pegs hold the original structure together. The septic system was replaced when we inadvertently let trucks delivering 32,000 bricks for fireplace and pier repairs crush our septic field. The fence in front of the house is of period design and is made of almost 1,000 pickets! It is a work in progress.

We are keeping the original house as close to period as possible. Our living space is attached to the back of the house. With the help of Lance Britt and Brittany House Antiques, we have been slowing furnishing the house. Our home, named Laura Ann, is pictured at the beginning of this article.

We are also in the process of renovating the old Hunt House, acquired in 2019 in Furman with the intention of making it an Airbnb. It was constructed sometime in the late 1800s. The house will be a mixture of old and new. The original part of the house will be put back as close to period as possible and the addition will be updated. The house was in terrible shape when purchased. The back roof had holes in it and the floor was rotted. Every time it rained there was a creek running under the house! All of this has been remediated. With Don Bell’s help we replaced the entire back wall of the house when we found the base had rot and was structurally unsound. The house should be complete sometime late March 2022.

From there we will begin a modest update of the Speir’s home in Furman. We are not sure yet how in depth the renovation will be.

We now live in Furman year-round. We love the feeling of community. Laura and I were baptized in 2020 at Bethsaida Church in the newly discovered baptismal; the first baptisms to take place there in over a hundred years.   

Furman National Historic District

A HISTORY OF FURMAN

As written on the Furman National Historic District historical marker that was erected by the Alabama Tourism Department and the Community of Furman in April 2010.

Representing 10,300 acres with 73 buildings, and 14 structures, the Furman Historic District, encompassing Old Snow Hill Road, Wilcox County Road 59, Burson Road, and AL 21, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 13, 1999. The town’s history began circa 1802 when the first settlers came to the area from South Carolina. Most of the Wilcox County towns, including Furman, were settled by Scottish, Irish, and English, however, some of the early settlers of Furman also came from the South Carolina low country and were of French ancestry. In the early 1800s, the William Snow family settled on a high hill north of present-day Furman, now the site of Old Snow Hill Cemetery. Thus, the early community was known as Snow’s Hill. It was renamed Furman in 1872 after the town of Furman, South Carolina. A new community was founded a few miles to the west and named Snow Hill. Furman Academy was a popular school in the late 1800s with students from across the state.

Most of the earliest settlers came from the Carolinas. Family groups included, among others, the Albrittons, Carters, Lees, Palmers, Purifoys, Gulleys, McCondiches, Bursons, Hearsts, Stablers, Powells, and the Simpsons after the Civil War. The town’s most notable citizens have included persons such as Elkanah Burson, an attaché to General Robert E. Lee and John Purifoy, a member of Company C who later served Alabama as Secretary of State. Mr. Burson, an original member of the Wilcox True Blues Company, delivered the Confederacy surrender papers to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox. He returned home to Furman and later served in the Alabama House of Representatives. Direct descendants of these original settlers have continued to own homes and property in Furman. Landmarks include Trails End, Patience Plantation, Wakefield Plantation, Fox Hill Plantation, Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, McCondiche-Stabler Home, Purifoy-Lipscomb Home, Perdue-Williams-Estes Home, Watson-Moorer Home, Burson-Rushing Home, Robbins-Kennedy Home, Bethsaida Baptist Church, Furman Methodist Church, and Hopewell Church.

D O N A T I O N S

Many thanks for your gifts and continuing support!

In Honor of Governor Kay Ivey for the Wilcox Female Institute Restoration Project from the Wilcox County High School Class of 1962 and the Wilcox County High School Class of 1963

In Honor of Arthur Joe Grant from Bud and Penny Selsor

In Honor of Garland Smith from Peggy Heard Galis and Henry and Carolyn Ray

To Be Used for the Wilcox Female Institute Restoration Project from Pippa Nicholson-Kuenn

In Memory of Palmer Hamilton from Mr. and Mrs. Jason Puckett, Mr. Thomas C. McGehee, Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop Smith, The Pecan on Broad – Mr. Chris Bailey and Mr. Ryan Dunagan, Mr. and Mrs. George Patton Kyser, Mr. and Mrs. Brock Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Peck, and Mr. and Mrs. Schley Rutherford

A memorial, birthday, anniversary or just a nice way to say thank you can be done in a donation to the Wilcox Historical Society. Your donation is tax deductible. Donations can be mailed to: WHS, P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 or contact our Treasurer, Mary Margaret Kyser for more details. She can be reached at 334.324.9353 or m2kyser54@aol.com.

WHS November Meeting

Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour

On Sunday afternoon, November 14th, a large crowd of members and guests of the WHS gathered at the historical Wilcox Female Institute in Camden to hear Jeff Mansell, Lead Historian, of the Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez, Mississippi. A native of Pickens, Mississippi, Mansell spent 21 years directing private, non-profit preservation organizations across the country prior to his being at Natchez. A wonderful program about travel in the antebellum era by Southern travelers and the objects they acquired on their European journeys was given by Mansell. Mrs. Pie Malone had a wonderful array of food for all at the reception following the presentation. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

WHS CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE AT WAKEFIELD

Wakefield was the site of our annual Christmas Open House Saturday, December 4th. Mrs. Pie Malone provided wonderful holiday food that included homemade gingerbread cookies. The home was adorned with four live Christmas trees, live garlands, greenery, and poinsettias throughout in preparation for a photo shoot the following Monday for the 2022 Christmas issue of Victoria Magazine. The beautiful floral arrangements were the creation of Ryan Dunagan. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon and getting to see the house decorated for Christmas.

The Wilcox Historical Society would like to thank Dr. Sylvia Burson-Rushing and Mr. Tom Rushing for once again opening their beautiful home for us. They have spent the last eighteen months working on the restoration of Wakefield’s interior and have brought many original pieces back to their historic home. We look forward to seeing their efforts showcased in Victoria Magazine later this year and at the Welcome Reception in March!

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS IN CAMDEN

The Female Institute was once again host to the Harvest Arts Duo on December 17th and 18th. Hannah and Madeline amazed us all with the premier of their first Christmas album. The chocolate pie at intermission was a big hit as well. Over two hundred people enjoyed one of their five visits to Wilcox County last year! They plan to return in 2022 to not only perform evening concerts, but also do events for our schools as well. We look forward to their return and expanding the Concert Series this year.


PIECES OF HISTORY EXHIBITION

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is the final stop of the Pieces of History Exhibition that includes furniture and stories from right here in Wilcox County! It was organized by the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Project highlighting their best finds from the last ten years of documenting objects in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. They visited Wilcox County during the summer of 2017. Their director, Sarah Duggan, has spoken at two of our meetings in recent years. We encourage you to attend this special exhibition that runs until April 10, 2022 at the MMFA.

THE MMFA’S DESCRIPTION In the early 19th century, the American South was the destination for the earliest settlers who ventured from the Eastern seaboard to what was then considered to be “the west” to find land and opportunity. Some came by choice—seeking new business opportunities, to establish homes and families—others were brought with them, without choice, as property. But each of them left their marks in the land and in the culture of the Gulf South.

Pieces of History tells the story of these people and what they moved with them, purchased, made, and used while they made homes and lives. What we today call “decorative arts” or “material culture” convey their legacies, in many ways speaking more eloquently than the rare written words which survive the centuries. Their domestic furnishings, whether elegant or humble, speak to the routines of daily life and bring places distant in time back into focus. Many objects are familiar and have counterparts in our own lives, while others have lost their usefulness or significance in modern societies.

The exhibition will recreate spaces that were found in homes of the 19th-century Gulf South with furnishings that would have been used there. In the homes of the wealthy, these furnishings were often shipped great distances, from Eastern seaboard cities such as Boston or Philadelphia, through the ports of Mobile or New Orleans, making their way by ship over sea and river to rooms in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana. In other cases, furnishings locally crafted sought to mimic the styles of these imported pieces with more rudimentary craftsmanship.

The exhibition was organized by the staff and fellows of the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Project housed at the Historic New Orleans Collection, which researches and maintains records of decorative arts found in the early 19th-century Gulf South. In Montgomery, theshow isexpanded to include loans of furnishings and materials from Alabama’s Black Belt and the central Alabama region from the collections of the Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and private lenders.

First Baptist Church, Pine Apple

History of the First Baptist Church, Pine Apple, Alabama

By Patricia Westbrook and James Suggs

The First Baptist Church, Pine Apple, Alabama was established in 1898 as the colored, First Baptist Church. It has been in existence for 123 years and is still in the original location. The original building became delipidated and had to be replaced. However, the doors to the fellowship hall, the banister that divides the choir stand, and some of the lumber is from the original building.

Although the church was founded in 1898 and erected with the permission of the owner of the land, the land was officially donated by J.T. Adams and his wife, Pauline Davidson Adams on September 7, 1949. The Adams originally donated one acre, which encompasses the church building and cemetery. In later years the Adams family donated another acre for room to grow.

The building on site was built in 1969. The church bell that stands in the tower to this day is the original bell from the old building. Furnishings and other items that are still in use from the original church are the ladder back choir chairs and the communion set, with glasses.

The deacons that were instrumental in establishing the church were: Dec. Curtis Hardaway, Dec. Johnny Stanford, and Dec. John Palmore.  In later years, the church service was led by Rev. Holt, Rev. N.P Smith, and Rev. Isaiah Posey. As the church grew, other deacons that served the church included Dec. Howard Mahan, Dec. Moses Suggs, Sr., Dec. Zelvis Hines, Dec. Leeguster Arnold, Dec. Edwards, Dec. Blackmon, and Dec. Tommy Arnold. At the present, deacons are Dec. Prince Arnold, Chairman, Dec. James Suggs, Co-Chairman, Dec. Moses Arnold and Dec. Henry Blackmon.

THE STORY OF YELLOW BLUFF, ALABAMA –

COMMUNITY AND POST OFFICE

By Ila S. Shamburger, postmaster

Yellow Bluff, in Wilcox County, Alabama was a river landing on the Alabama River and was named for the steep red or yellow clay bank just below the landing.

Mr. James (Jim) McCall was the first postmaster.

The Reverend George Fontaine lived in the house on the river bank before Mr. McCall, the first postmaster, occupied it. Rev. Fontaine was my husband’s grandfather. He moved out into the hills.

Mr. McCall had several children. A son, Dan McCall (who was born at Yellow Bluff landing), lived at Thomasville, Ala. One son, John McCall brought his father to visit the cemetery several years ago. People still gather at the cemetery on the second Friday in July each year to cut the bushes and clean off enough so that the graves are visible. Several graves have been marked in recent years. A fence is maintained around the cemetery. Mr. McCall sold his home and moved to Pine Hill.

Mr. Pat Matheson was the second postmaster. He married Miss Lucy Gaines of Lower Peach Tree. He passed several years ago. “Miss Lucy” moved to Birmingham. She was past 90.

J.P. Shamburger was the third postmaster. His sister, Mrs. M.L. Kirven bought the McCall house. After college and nursing training she married Dr. McLean Pitts. Mrs. Pitt’s grandmother was Helen C. Norris Shamburger.

Robert Lee Hawthorne of Camden was the next postmaster.

During the years of the Civil War there were a number of families at the river landing and out in the hills about two miles away. Some of the families were: Dr. Oats, Redden Tyler, several families of Sheffields, Dr. Williams, Alfred and Gus Bright, Mr. Joe Bryan, the Hamp Jordan family, the Griffins or Griffiths (who moved to Texas), J.R. Davis, and his sister, Alice, Rev. George Fontaine, William Kirven (of Jefferson) who married Mary Lee Shamburger, Walter and Bob Kirk, who were nephews of J.R. Davis, a Mrs. Betty Sheffield, a widow, who had a son, Frank and a daughter Alice. Alice went to Coy. Frank went to Clarke County.

When you walk through the cemetery you read: McNeil, Tom Nettles, Jordan, Wright, Tyler, Daniels, George Mayton and his wife Elizabeth and small daughter, Martin Dumas, Mrs. Ella Pitts, the daughter of William and Mary Kirven and sister of Oscar Shamburger Kirven (his grave, like a number of others, is unmarked). Dr. John Godbold’s mother and sister Lily and infant are among the graves in the old cemetery. Lily Godbold was the wife of Gus Bright.

In 1909 there were 20 families in the hills.

The Mt. Andrew Church was first a Methodist church. Mt. Pisgah, at Bethel, about three miles away, was Baptist. As years went by, people moved. There were not enough Methodists left to keep the church going. Many Baptists moved their membership from Pisgah to Pine Hill. The Baptists that were left at Yellow Bluff bought the church building from the Methodists and had prayer services and preaching (once a month). Rev. Tom Paul from Grove Hill was the last pastor.

The hills now show little signs of any people who ever lived there. 

Editor’s Note: The Story of Yellow Bluff, Alabama – Community and Post Office history was first published in the July, 1958 issue of The Bama Postmaster. It was reprinted in the Alabama Genealogical Society’s Volume 20 – Nos 3 & 4, 1988 magazine, pages 109-110.  With permission of the AGS, it is included in this issue of our newsletter.

Give the Gift of Membership

Gift memberships are now available! Help us grow our membership and take pride in the history of Wilcox County. If you are interested in gifting a membership to a friend or family member for a birthday or other special occasion let us know. We will mail them a beautiful gift certificate along with our latest newsletter. For more information, please contact us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.   

Rosemary Plantation

ROSEMARY PLANTATION AND ITS PEOPLE

WILCOX COUNTY, ALABAMA

By Carter Fowlkes

The lovely and serene Rosemary Plantation sits near the Alabama River, about 10 miles northwest of Camden.  The home was built circa 1856 by Peter E. Mathews and his wife Virginia on roughly 2,000 acres of land planted originally in cotton.  Mathews’ father, Col. Charles L. Mathews, moved to Alabama from Goose Pond, Georgia soon after Alabama became a state in 1819 with his four sons, and began acquiring land.  Each son became a successful planter himself.  Oldest son George William Mathews (1807-1880) is buried beneath a large monument in the Camden Cemetery with his wife Lucy Mayhew.  The two other sons were Joel E. and Thomas M. Mathews.

The Peter Mathews Family

Virginia was the oldest child of Martha Hatcher and Fielding Vaughan of Cambridge, Dallas County, Alabama. (now Crumptonia).  She and Peter had three daughters.  Daughter Virginia died at age 7 in 1854 and Anna died three weeks later at age 12.  Peter died in 1856 at age 39.  The last daughter, Martha, known as Mattie, survived childhood and married Nathaniel Rives Chambliss in 1865, only to die two months after her wedding.  All four were buried in the Joel E. Mathews family cemetery near Cahaba.  But Virginia continued to manage family lands, including Rosemary, during her widowhood.  

Anna Gayle Fry in her book “Memories of Old Cahaba” describes the antebellum formal balls held in Cahaba and mentions “Mrs. Virginia Mathews in her point lace and diamonds, with the air and manner of an empress.”

Virginia Vaughan Mathews

Virginia lived on alone until her death in 1891.  In her Will she directed that her daughters and husband all be exhumed and reburied with her in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma.  That was done by her nephew and co-executor, Sam Fowlkes (the author’s great-grandfather) at a cost to her estate of over $1,200 to move the bodies and monuments.  They all rest in Live Oak today.

Rosemary, then known simply as “The Mathews Place” was inherited by nephew Frank Cade in 1897.  He lived there until his death in 1935. His wife Mary lived there almost until her death in 1962. Frank Cade Jr. moved back into Rosemary in 1968 until his own death in 1987.  So, the place was owned and occupied by the same family for 131 years.  In 1989 Watson Jones of Camden purchased the 2,000-acre plantation from the Frank Cade estate.  Today it is owned by his son Brock Jones of Tuscaloosa, who is conscientiously slowly restoring it, being mindful and appreciative of its long history.  Rosemary is presently rented to a hunting club.

In 1970 Frank Cade Jr. wrote a brief history of Rosemary, based on his own experiences and stories of his parents.  Shortly after moving in around 1900, his mother Mary named it Rosemary, not after her roses or her own name, but for the fragrant herb, since “Rosemary means remembrance.”  Mary also undertook to enlarge the one-story house, adding a second story and large staircase around 1900-1905.  The staircase is unusual in that it rises from the middle of the main hallway to the upper level.  Her objective, Frank recalled, was to screen the view out the back of the main hall, consisting of outbuildings and objects she thought detracted from the view.  She did have a large flower garden too, plus roses that lined both sides of the driveway for more than a mile. 

Frank also described a Sunday school class for the African Americans living on the property that his mother ran for over 40 years.  He attended at times himself and recalls the joyous hymns and Bible education that the children received.

Shipping up and down the river would stop at the floating dock near the house known as “Mattie’s Landing.”   The Miller’s Ferry dam nearby has changed the configuration of the river at Rosemary, but the area of the landing still exists.

Mattie Mathews Chambliss

Mattie Mathews Chambliss’ portrait as a young lady, hangs in Sturdivant Hall in Selma today.  She had no connection to Sturdivant, but Cade donated the portrait in 1960 and Sturdivant uses the portrait to represent antebellum life in the Black Belt.

Rosemary Plantation has 165 years of storied history and a bright future as well!

Carter Fowlkes was born in Selma in 1944 and lives in Atlanta.  His great, great grandmother Mary Fielding Vaughan Cobb was a sister of Virginia Vaughan Mathews.  His great grandparents, Pinkie and Samuel Fowlkes, lived in Rehoboth.  Samuel was a member of the Wilcox County Revenue Commission and was elected to the state legislature in the 1880s as a representative from Wilcox County.   Carter has enjoyed, in retirement, exploring his Wilcox County connections. 

Carter thanks Brock Jones, who also contributed to this article. 

Inquiries and Comments 

We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page, Instagram page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries, please let us know and we will be happy to pass it along or put you in contact with the interested party. Our email address is wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or you can text or call Martha Lampkin at 334.296.1076. We also love receiving comments on our posts on social media. The more comments, likes and shares also help our posts be viewed by more people. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

I am writing a book on the July 6, 1863 Battle of Hagerstown, Maryland during the Confederate withdrawal from Gettysburg. I have found reference to a 2 LT William W. Williams, a native of Allenton, Alabama, who was killed on July 5 between Smithsburg and Boonsboro, Maryland. He enlisted in the US Army artillery in 1859, and in late 1862 he was discharged to accept a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in Battery E, 4th US Artillery. I am finding precious little on this individual. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. S. Bockmiller, Waynesboro, PA

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shared with Mr. Bockmiller was the following information: Found in the 1830 US Federal Census for Wilcox County was William Williams. Also found was reference to the Last Will & Testament of William Williams. His Estate was to be kept together until the death of his wife or she remarries. If she remarries, she is to receive an equal portion with the children Milly Malinda, William W., Mary E., Iduma, Edward B. & Prudence A. Williams. Executors to be Isaac & Henry Newberry with Witnesses Edward Bowin, E.H.J. Motley & U.C. Banks. Signed 4/8/1847. Proven 6/21/1847

Do you have information about a National Geographic article about the courthouse in Camden, AL? I don’t know a date for the article, possibly 1940s, 50s or 60s. Thank you for any help you can provide. E. Goltry, Beaver Dams, NY

II know it’s been a LONG time since I contacted you about the Bloxom family. Albert Bloxom moved to Louisiana with his family sometime after the war and after his trip to Brazil. I come through the line of his son named Seneca Bloxom. Albert Bloxom was a son of Washington Bloxom. I am hopefully going to visit Wilcox County between Nov 13-18, 2021. I am so excited to visit and see exactly where my relatives lived. I know you wrote that your parents actually own the old Bloxom house (which is so amazing to me). I know with this Covid stuff I probably won’t be able to go inside the house, but I’d like to drive by. Is there a way you could give me the address to the old house? Are there any places I should visit while I’m here? B. Dolan, LA

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Washington Bloxom house, circa 1840s, is located on County Road 7 in Pine Apple. It is owned by WHS Members, Harold and Virginia Grimes. When Wiley Watts and Elizabeth Thigpen married in 1868, James Thigpen, Elizabeth’s father, bought and gave it to her for her wedding dowry. Wiley Watts is the great, great grandfather of Harold Watts Grimes. Ms. Dolan was also directed to the Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery in Pine Apple where several members of the Bloxom family are buried.

Email Comment from WHS Member:

I felt the urge to write and tell you how great the WHS is doing.  I remember the start of this organization around “saving the Female Institute” for which my grandmother Lena Tucker Miller Albritton was so dedicated! She would be amazed today and by bearing her name (and I cherish this) I am proud to be a member. Her biggest disappointment back in the 1970s was the destruction of the Train Depot building.  So glad Pine Hill saved the one there.  

Fast forward to today and I dream of a time we will be closer to Wilcox County so Sam and I can take part in all the various activities.  Thank you for all you do for the wonderful organization! L. Hall, Alexandra, VA

From a WHS Facebook post from RuralSWAlabama.org of the Hawthorne House in Pine Apple

So much history! We would visit Gladys Hawthorne and enjoy her stories. J. Melton

So beautiful! S. Matrango

From a WHS Facebook post from RuralSWAlabama.org of the Tait-Starr Home aka White Columns in Possum Bend

The J.M.W. Turner connection is magical! B. Barrett

From a WHS Facebook post shared from Lee Peacock – “News Highlights from 100-year-old editions of the Wilcox Progressive Era newspaper in Camden, Alabama from January 1922” featuring a current photo of Coast to Coast in Camden (formerly Matthews Hardware)

Always enjoy stopping in the former Matthews Hardware. My grandmother’s brother, Hunter McDuffie, married Bess Matthews in 1933 and sadly died in 1941. Buried in Camden Cemetery. T. McGehee

From a WHS Facebook and Instagram post for Tombstone Tuesday of Elkanah George Burson, MD (1882-1970)

I remember Dr. Burson well. Mother would take me to Furman when I was sick to see Dr. Burson. Sometimes she would use Dr. Burson, sometimes Dr. Thompson in Pine Apple and sometimes Dr. Paul in Camden. bethyoder14

He delivered my mother-in-law when they lived in the cottage. melanie.andress.3

Our family doctor, we loved him. M.F. Nichols

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

  • Sunday, February 20, 2022, 2PM – WHS Meeting, Wilcox Female Institute
  • Friday–Saturday, March 25–26, 2022, Tour of Homes, Furman

A LOOK BACK…  

30 December 1896

Wilcox Progressive Era

Miss Bessie Lee Marshall, a charming young lady who has been attending the Wilcox Female Institute, has returned home at Perdue Hill to the regret of her many friends.

We regret to learn of the serious illness of Mr. W.R. Alford and Dr. W.M. Bryant of Canton. They are both improving under the skillful attention of Drs. Jones.

Hon. W. W. McConnico of Allenton, Ex-Sheriff Herrington of Monroe County, Mr. Enoch Burson of Fatama, and many of our county citizens were in the city last Monday.

17 January 1901

Wilcox Progressive Era

Oak Hill Items

Several of our agriculturalists, who had begun plowing, had to suspend, on account of excessive rains.

Mr. Sam Grace, of Bell’s Landing, has been visiting relatives at Oak Hill.

It is said that our colonial forefathers cured headaches by kissing a pretty girl. How would the girls like such treatment now?

Master Jodie Hall Jones left after the holidays to enter the Marion Military Institute.

Mrs. Nettie Booth, nee McBryde, of Glendon, Ala. visited her mother and relatives, at Oak Hill, and on returning, was accompanied by her mother Mrs. L.A. McBryde.

Wanted: – A passable, (not a good) road, from Oak Hill to Allenton Depot. In wanting this, I trust the reader will not think the writer selfish, in leaving out other roads. Wanting and wishing, for good roads, seems to be all that is, or can be, done; and those interested in the road question, must do their own wanting and wishing. With few exceptions, our roads are a disgrace to the county.

Mr. and Mrs. Claude Jones, of Mount Hope, have been visiting relatives in our midst.

We are pleased to report the convalescence of Mrs. Dr. Perdue, visiting at Nadawah, who has been seriously ill with typhoid fever.

Mr. J.H. McWilliams and family, and Mr. Geo Kyser, attended the Hill-Melton wedding at Pine Apple.

Mr. Clarence B. Jones and bride, formerly Miss Janie Harper, of Rosebud, left on the 5th inst., for their home in the Lone Star State. The bride’s host of friends regret to see her departure.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Martin have moved to McWilliams to take charge of the hotel, recently erected at that place. Mrs. T.M. McWilliams and family, have moved from their plantation into the home vacated by Mr. Martin.

One of our young men, who is on “the carpet” says that in every one hundred letters written by the fair sex, 99 of them have postscripts, are written on the margins and across the lines.

Did you have the bears, monkeys and Turks, with you Mr. Editor? We did, and some of our young Caucasians evidently were so much smitten with the show, that they wanted to be clowns and try the trapeze.

18 December 1902

Wilcox Progressive Era

New Bank

A new and the first incorporated Bank in Wilcox County was determined on in Pine Apple on 13th inst. The amt. of subscribed capital required by law has been secured and cash paid in capital of $15000.00 has been secured mostly by local parties. The bank will open for business in a short while. The personnel of the organization stamps it as a success in the beginning. The officers will be: W.H. Lloyd – President, J.I. Adams – Vice President, H.C. DuBose – Cashier. Directors: W.H. Grimes, Henry Melton, Jno Miller, J.S. Patterson, Claude Hardy, W.R. Mills, J.F. Melton.

Watch out for dividends and surplus and the advance of stock on the market.

11 August 1933

Greenville Advocate

Dr. and Mrs. P.V. Speir were hosts last Thursday to a large crowd of Wilcox and Butler County friends at their plantation near Furman. Mr. and Mrs. Wyeth Speir and Mr. and Mrs. Will Faison had prepared a barbecue dinner, which was served under the moss-covered cedar trees in the large pasture.

After the dinner, which consisted of barbecued meats, Brunswick stew, pickles, sliced tomatoes, salads, cold drinks and cake, all deliciously prepared, and served picnic style, Dr. Speir called on a number of guests for talks. Circuit Judge Gamble, Probate Judge McLeod of Wilcox and Probate Judge Golson of Butler, Tax Assessor Watts of Wilcox and Tax Collector Calhoun of Butler and others made interesting short talks.

Hon. D.M. Powell was the principal speaker, and he made a most enjoyable address, reminiscing of the days of his boyhood spent in the neighborhood where the barbecue took place.

Judge Purifoy, of Furman, introduced Dr. Philip Speir, who has recently returned to Greenville, after completing medical college and hospital training to join with his father in the practice of medicine here. Mr. Purifoy stated that Furman gave Greenville one of her best citizens when Dr. Speir came here, and is giving one of the “finest boys that ever lived” in young Dr. Speir.

The large crowd was served bountifully of the barbecue dinner, and then the plantation “hands” were fed. A third group to be given dinner was the crowd of Negros from nearby plantations who had gathered at the scene of the barbecue, probably drawn there by the smell of meats and stew as it was cooked in the open.  

12 March 1942

Wilcox Progressive Era

Furman P.T.A.

PTA met at the school house Tuesday, at 4 p.m. with Mrs. M.L. Knight presiding. The minutes and financial report were given and old business dispensed with.

Plans were completed for entertainment and supper Friday night, March 13th. Hank Williams and his band will be here. Supper will be sold before entertainment.

Those present were: Mrs. J.S. Williams, Mrs. W.G. Williams, Mrs. P. Newsome, Mrs. J.P. Cunningham, Mrs. Mary Griffin, Mrs. M.L. Knight, Mrs. R.F. Ray, and one visitor Mrs. Paul Shanks.

Everybody is invited to come early Friday night.

18 February 1962

Wilcox Progressive Era

What’s Done in School

Wilcox Female Institute

The information about the Wilcox Female Institute at Camden was taken from Mrs. M.E. Curtis’s scrapbook. According to this scrapbook a copy of the deed for the Institute shows that the indenture was made and entered into June 29, 1850, transferring the property from John P. Fairley and his wife Martha Fairley and James A. Tait to L.W. Mason, Joseph George, and their associate stockholders of the Wilcox Female Institute. This paper was assigned before John H. Jackson, probate judge of Wilcox County. The price of the land for the site of the Institute was $400. When efforts were made to raise $10,000 for the erection of the building, people pledged amounts varying from $25.00 to $200.00

—-

In January 1851, the newspaper, The Southern Republic, carried the notice of the first year of the school. The Board of Visitors of this institution take pleasure in announcing to the patrons and to the public that the institution, having almost completed five months of the first session, is in a most prosperous and flourishing condition. The second term of the session will begin the second Monday in February. The Institute will be continued under the management of its founder and present able principal, Mrs. Upson. Mrs. Maxwell and Mrs. Reynolds will be associated with Mrs. Upson. The boarding house connected with the establishment will be continued under the management of Mrs. L.W. Mason, who has given, so far, entire satisfaction. Tuition rates for a five months’ term are as follows: Primary Classes $10.00, More Advanced Classes $15.00, Higher English $18.00, The Languages, ancient and modern, $15.00, Music with use of instrument $25.00, Painting and embroidery, $15.00, Incidental expenses, $1.00. Board at the seminary and town $8.00 to $9.00 per month.

—-

John C. Andrews from New York was the first music teacher of the Wilcox Female Institute. His family lived in the house now occupied by Mrs. John Miller. Henry Andrews, one of the sons, wrote “Ripples of the Alabama,” a piano solo much loved by a former generation. In 1854-55, according to a handbill of the Institute, instruction in other musical instruments besides piano was offered. Instruction in harp was $80.00 and in all other instruments $12.50. Painting in oil was $20.00. Painting in water was $15.00. Drawing in pencil and crayon, $12.50. Ornamental needlework $12.50. Reverend Plott Stout was the agent of the board to collect money, and Reverend J.S. Bacon was principal.

—-

In 1868 the school opened under the principalship of Reverend John Miller, a graduate of Erskine College, Due West, S.C. This year about one hundred and twenty-five students were enrolled.

—-

Mr. Miller was an educator, and also an Associate Reformed Presbyterian preacher. He served as pastor at Bethel ARP Church in Oak Hill for thirty-one years. He was a man of rather slender build with dark hair and dark whiskers. He was very intelligent and very dignified, always wearing the garb of a preacher of his day, a Prince Albert coat of broadcloth. He owned and operated the Wilcox Female Institute for many years, having associated with him the best teachers that the county afforded.

—-

In 1870 Dr. Miller opened a school in Camden for men and boys entirely separate from the female college. On July 7, 1871 Dr. Miller retired as principal of the Institute. He was succeeded by Mrs. Amanda Blakenny and Mrs. Fannie Holman.

—-

The old Wilcox Female Institute building still stands and is in constant use as part of the Camden public school plant.

 22 August 1963

Wilcox Progressive Era

Old Female Institute to Be Preserved

The historic 115-year-old Wilcox Female Institute building in Camden will not be destroyed. This decision came Wednesday after much discussion at a meeting held in the Wilcox County High School and attended by several hundred persons throughout the county. Also present were Arthur Grant and Tom Kirkland, architects from Montgomery.

Following a lengthy discussion, the decision to leave the front part of the building containing two classrooms downstairs and two classrooms upstairs, was made. The rest of the building will be torn away because of the unsafe conditions and plans for the renovation of the old building are being made.

Recommendations from the architects were that adequate escapes, new rest room facilities new heating system and renovating be done on the building and quoted an approximate cost of $19,000 for the work.

The new vocational agriculture and home economics building will be located at approximately the same location as the present building. Schedule for construction will be announced as soon as architects can prepare plans which they could not do until the exact site was agreed upon. The present agricultural building is located at the rear of the gymnasium.

The old Female Institute building was constructed in 1848 when a board of citizens confronted with the problem of education made up subscriptions for the construction of the building. Part of the heritage of Wilcox County, it stands as a monument to over a hundred years of educational learning. The structure was built by slaves and the bricks used throughout came from the clay in the space now used as the athletic field of the Wilcox County High School.

25 December 1985

The Selma Times-Journal

Miss Rubye is honored by Wilcox Historical Society

Mrs. Sam Woodson prepared and delivered a concise biography of Mrs. Rubye Adele Rikard McWilliams (1885-1975) at the meeting of the Wilcox Historical Society at the Wilcox Female Institute, a few days before “Miss Rubye’s” 100th anniversary.

“Miss Rubye” who was the first woman in Alabama to be elected county tax collector and the only woman in Wilcox County to be elected to public office, so far, was Wilcox County tax collector for 14 years, 1934-1948, following the death of her husband, William Francis McWilliams, Wilcox County tax collector in 1934.

Mrs. McWilliams attended Montevallo College and the University of Alabama and taught in the Rikard School and Arlington School. She also taught music and on display was a photography of her music class in 1914.

“Miss Rubye” held several business positions in Selma and Pine Hill before her marriage and was highly regarded for her business acumen, her insights into human nature, her love, concern, and generosity for all persons, especially children.

Mrs. Woodson was introduced by the program chairman, William C. Griffin.

Mrs. Dan Bragg Cook and Mrs. William C. Griffin, nieces of “Miss Rubye” displayed a variety of “Miss Rubye’s” keepsakes including her baby trunk, her silver baby mug, tributes by her father, William Jacob Rikard, and her mother Lila Adele Nettles Rikard written in 1888, her favorite popular song, Red Wing, her wedding dress which she made herself.

Will Philpot, who is director of music at Camden Baptist Church, gave a timely devotional message on Thanksgiving using as scripture Psalms 100.

Mrs. Frank Cade who is president of the Wilcox Historical Society presided at the business session. Mrs. Oliver Steen, secretary, read minutes of the September meeting. Roy McIntosh gave the treasurer’s report. Appreciation was expressed to Mrs. William Darwin for arranging assembly room.    

If you are interested in submitting an article for the newsletter, please let us know! Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or send via snail mail to P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. We will be happy to review it for a future issue!

Don’t forget! Annual dues are $30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 for single. Dues are renewed in January.  A membership form is available on our website: WilcoxHistoricalSociety.org. Or if you prefer, please mail dues to: P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 and be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks!

WHS December 2021 Happenings

Our annual Christmas Open House will be held at historic Wakefield in Furman, Saturday, December 4th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Refreshments will be served and the house will be decorated for the season in preparation for a Victoria Magazine photo shoot the following week. Members and guests are welcome! We would like to thank members Tom and Sylvia Rushing for opening their home to us for this special event. 

Christmas Concerts in Camden! Madeline and Hannah are coming back and they have added concert dates in Camden to their schedule! They will be performing their Christmas Concert at the Wilcox Female Institute Friday, December 17th and Saturday, December 18th at 7:00 pm. 
Friday night tickets are available at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/216424109337
Saturday night tickets are available at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/214206125287
These Concerts will be a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas Season.

Christmas in Furman will be Sunday night, December 19th. The historic homes will all be illuminated and a beautiful sight! The driving tour begins at dusk. A Christmas Musical Service will be held at 6:00 pm at the newly restored Bethsaida Baptist Church, circa 1860, in Furman.

We hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday season of celebration with family and friends!

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Fall 2021

Dear Historical Society Members, 

I hope you are all well and enjoying this beautiful fall weather. We have a number of events on the horizon starting with our next meeting Sunday afternoon, November 14 at 2:00pm, at the Wilcox Female Institute. Our guest speaker will be Mr. Jeff Mansell from the Natchez National Historic Park. His talk is entitled “Souvenirs of travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour.” I hope to see you all there!

Congratulations to our members Chris Bailey and Ryan Dunagan, Laura and Schley Rutherford, and the Hamilton family whose Camden area homes were featured in Mobile Bay Magazine this month. It was a fantastic article which included beautiful pictures of each of their homes. Congratulations also goes out to WHS members Mitchell and Jennifer Britt whose Huntsville home is featured in the current Christmas issue of Victoria Magazine. It is wonderful to have so many of our member’s homes featured in these publications.

I am happy to announce that we currently have 346 members in the Wilcox Historical Society! We are by far the largest civic organization in Wilcox County. In addition, we have members from throughout the State of Alabama and many other states as well. Thank you for being a part of this special organization.

With a membership as large as ours, we can achieve any goal. Now that the Miller Law Office is nearing completion, we will set our focus on the restoration and improvements to the Wilcox Female Institute. A project of this magnitude will take more than the Board to make it a reality.

I challenge you to find a way to get involved. Help us locate corporate partners, grant sources, or private donations. With your help we will not only add the much-needed restroom facilities, but we can complete the restoration of the upstairs/bell tower and add the original wing to the building as well. Thank you to Ms. Billie Gibbs for being the first to volunteer to help this cause. She has already reached out to two sources to help us raise the needed funds. We will share more information about this project at the November meeting.

I am pleased to announce that the Harvest Arts Ensemble is coming back at Christmas! Currently their schedule includes a full Christmas concert in Camden on Saturday night, December 18th. We are very excited they are returning to Wilcox County and are pleased to be their concert partner.

It is an exciting time to live in Wilcox County. There is a renaissance happening in Downtown Camden, historic homes are being bought and restored throughout the county, and member’s homes are being featured in regional and national publications every year. The Wilcox Historical Society has been a big part of this positive change. From our annual Tour of Homes which brings thousands of people here to bringing concerts to the county, we are making a difference. Get involved and help us restore the Wilcox Female Institute! We need your help!

Sincerely,

Lance Britt, WHS President      

Welcome to new members: from Alabama – Bruce and Faye Bennett of Pine Apple, Dan Brooks of Camden, Mr. and Mrs. Andy Coats of Birmingham and Camden, Grey Davis and Keller Monet Leathers of Grove Hill, Bobby Dees of Auburn, Bobby and Caroleene Dobson of Birmingham, Al and Sue Gaston of Georgiana, Edgar and Mary Glenn Grant of Camden, Dr. & Mrs. Phil Hardee of Beatrice, Virginia Kelly of Enterprise, Gayle Leathers of Grove Hill, Greg and Susan Luce of Mobile, William and Daphne Malone of Camden, Tennant and Susan McWilliams of Fairhope, Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Moore of Headland, Harvey Nobles of Robertsdale, Adrian and Sheila Percival of Catherine, John and Sarah Potts of Evergreen, Kay and Luisa Reyes of Tuscaloosa, David and Andrea Snyder of Homewood, Shirley Stinson of Greenville. And from Athens, Georgia, Peggy Galis and from Four Oaks, California, Margaret Wisnicky.

And welcome to new Life Members – Scott Mitchell and Mary Martin of Montgomery!

THANK YOU for joining the WHS!

 TOUR OF HOMES UPDATE 

The Tour of Homes is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, March 25-26, 2022. The reception will be on Friday night with a guest speaker we hope to announce soon. Registration on Friday night will be held at the Wilcox Female Institute.

Saturday’s tour will be in Furman and will include eight homes and two churches. Breakfast will once again be provided to ticket holders Saturday morning at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill. Registration on Saturday will be at the Furman Methodist Church.

As Furman is a very small community, we will need volunteers to help guide at the various houses throughout the day. Please plan on volunteering for a two-hour shift that Saturday. Mary Glenn Phillipi Grant is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Tour of Homes. We are very thankful for her help in coordinating our volunteers this year. Please plan to help up on this important day for our organization.

Member Spotlight – J. Paul Hawthorne

The Hawthornes of Wilcox County

The Hawthornes have a long history with Wilcox County. Several families moved from Conecuh County to Wilcox County starting in the 1830s. My direct line hails from Rev. Kedar Hawthorne (1797-1877) who came from Conecuh County in 1828 to minister at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, located on the Wilcox and Butler County border. Rev. Kedar bought land and farmed there while preaching for several years until he moved his young family near Camden in 1833.

Other Hawthorne families moved from Conecuh County in the years to come, including Kedar’s sibling, Col. Joseph Richard Hawthorne in 1852, who built Hawthorne House in Pine Apple. Also, siblings Thomas Jefferson Hawthorne and Martha Hawthorne Langham moved to Wilcox County by 1860. 

Rev. Kedar and his wife Martha (Baggett) Hawthorne continued to prosper in the 1830s and 1840s near Camden raising their children and farming. Kedar was a staunch supporter of the Temperance Movement and was the chaplain of Wilcox Temple of Honor, No. 18 in 1851. One article I found about Kedar’s preaching style was written in 1917 by W.B. Crumpton, “Brother Hawthorn, when he approached the close of the sermon, put on the ‘rousements,’ closing each sentence “and arah.” He had a way, in his excitement, of spitting on the floor and wiping it up with his foot. Many times, his foot went through the motion not hitting the spittle. I was at first alarmed at his antics, afterwards amused.” 

Rev. Kedar helped establish many different denominational churches throughout Wilcox, Monroe, and Conecuh counties. He even travelled to Eastern and Middle Florida as a Missionary for a time. Kedar made sure his children received the best education. His oldest, Alexander (pictured above), went to Yale Law School, while his other son, J. Boardman (pictured at left), received a Doctorate in Divinity from Howard College.

Kedar moved to Mobile in 1856 where he built a house which is still standing and a registered landmark. In Mobile, he opened a book and stationery store and worked with African American churches. It is said in the History of Conecuh County by Rev. B. F. Riley that Kedar had baptized more than 4,500 believers in his useful career that spanned 50 years. I have not found a photo of Kedar yet, but I am still looking!

Children born to Kedar and Martha Hawthorne: Brig. Gen. Alexander Travis Hawthorne (1825-1899), Martha Ann Hawthorne (1829-1913), Mary Ann Hawthorne (1833-1926), Maj. Adoniram Judson Hawthorne (1834-1877) my line, Rev. Dr. James Boardman Hawthorne (1837-1910) and Pvt. Hartwell Kedar Hawthorne (1842-1863).

Note: Kedar named all his sons after Baptist ministers.

A Little About Me

I have been interested in my family history from an early age. I remember asking my grandfather, J.B. Hawthorne (1899-1993), about his family when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember him telling me he was named after his great-uncle, Rev. Dr. James Boardman Hawthorne, the prominent Southern Baptist minister, who was born in Wilcox County in 1837.

For years, I looked aimlessly for information on my Hawthornes in libraries, picking up bits of information here and there, until I got a computer in the late 1990s. That opened a whole lot of possibilities. I discovered family chat websites like GenForum, where I finally met a cousin from Decatur named Judson Hawthorne. He sent me his un-published book that traced our family back to the 1500s in Bray, Berkshire, England!

On the internet I found old church minutes from the Bellville Baptist Church in Conecuh County listing my 3x great-grandparents, Kedar and Martha (Baggett) Hawthorne transcribed by historian Margaret Jane Gaston. Years later, I finally met Ms. Gaston in Greenville where she and Judy Taylor of the Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society helped me locate the Hawthorne plot in Magnolia Cemetery.

I have many cousins still to this day living in Wilcox County and surrounding areas. I forgot to tell you, I’m a California boy! My grandfather was born in Greenville, Alabama, my dad in Houston, and myself in California. So, I have been doing long distance research all these years with a few trips to Alabama when I can. I hope to visit the county courthouse in Camden to look for records soon. I want to thank all the people who have helped me in my endeavor to uncover the past, including Martha Grimes Lampkin, Margaret Jane Gaston, Judy Taylor, Woody Hawthorne, Judson Hawthorne, Stacey Hathorn of the Alabama Historical Commission, and many cousins!

Miller Law Office Restoration Update

The Miller Law Office restoration is almost complete. As stated last month, the interior has been completely restored and painted, the documents and photographs have been framed with acid free papers and the porches/steps/columns have been restored or replaced following the guidelines of the National Register. The exterior has been painted and really looks wonderful. The final stage of this project is the addition of shutters to the windows/front door and replacing the damaged HVAC system. At that point the Law Office will be ready to open!

The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill donated this roll top desk (pictured above, left) to the Miller Law Office. It is very similar to the one pictured in the 1937 HABS photo shown here. It will go in that location in the Law Office.

Chris Bailey has done an outstanding job in overseeing this project. We truly appreciate his hard work and dedication to this important restoration project. It is our plan to open it on Saturday afternoons from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm for self-guided tours. We will need volunteers willing to monitor it those days. If you are interested, please let us know at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.  

WHS September Meeting

with the Honorable Jeff Sessions

On Sunday afternoon, September 19, members of the WHS gathered at the historical Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Our guest speaker was the Honorable Jeff Sessions. Sessions was our US State Senator from Alabama from 1997 – 2017 and the 84th US Attorney General from 2017 – 2018. From 1981 to 1993 he served as the US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

Sessions, who attended 12 years of school in Camden, shared stories from his youth, lessons he learned growing up in Wilcox County, and his family’s history in the region. He also shared his thoughts on the importance of our Constitution, respect for our Founding Fathers and the importance of teaching true history in our society.

MEMORIALS

Member, Camille Armstrong Selsor Jones, age 89, a resident of Camden, Alabama, died at her home on September 1, 2021. She was born February 1, 1932.

She was a graduate of Wilcox County High School. Following marriage and the rearing of three children, she earned a degree in nursing and served as a nurse in Camden and Pensacola, Florida. She served two short terms in Pakistan before going there in 1994 to serve on the mission field in a variety of ministries, including teacher at the Nancy Fulwood Hospital School of Nursing, manager and hostess of the Pakistan guest house and part-time homeschool teacher for the children of missionaries. Until her return to Alabama in 1997, she served in many other ways to help relieve the loads of Sahiwal-based missionaries.

Mrs. Jones was a lifelong member of the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. 

Member, Palmer Clarkson Hamilton, a native of Mobile, Alabama died Friday, October 15, 2021.

He was head of the Washington, D.C. law office of Jones Walker, and as a partner in the firm’s Governmental Relations Practice Group split his time between there and Mobile. Early in his legal career he served as an assistant to the Comptroller of the Currency and as chief of new bank chartering. He returned to Mobile and practiced law at Hamilton, Butler before becoming a founding partner of Miller, Hamilton, and Snider. In 2008, that firm merged with Jones Walker.

Mr. Hamilton served on a variety of federal, state, local and volunteer boards throughout his career and worked tirelessly to support The Episcopal Church, both locally and nationally. He was deeply committed to historic preservation. Individually, with others, and through the Oakleigh Venture Revolving Fund he restored dozens of structures in Mobile. In the last few years, he worked on one of his most enjoyable rehabilitations – the former St. Mary’s Church in Camden, Alabama. He quickly became a proponent for and advocate of all things Camden.

WHS MEETING NOVEMBER 14 AT 2PM

Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour

Our next meeting will be held on Sunday afternoon, November 14 at 2 o’clock at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden. The speaker for the afternoon will be Jeff Mansell of Natchez, Mississippi. A native of Pickens, MS, Jeff currently serves as the lead historian for the Natchez National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park Service. Prior to joining the Park Service in 2011, he spent twenty years directing private, non-profit preservation organizations across the country, including ten years in Alabama as the Assistant Director of the Cahaba Trace Commission and the Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.

Mansell’s program is entitled “Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour.: He will discuss travel in the mid-19th century and examine the objects these intrepid Southern travelers acquired on their European journeys.

TWO EVENINGS OF MUSIC IN CAMDEN

On September 10th and 11th, a three-piece trio of classical musicians charmed sold out crowds at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden. The Harvest Arts ensemble consisted of three, female musicians: cellist Mary Grace Bender, harpist Hannah Cope and flutist Madeline Cawley. The WHS together with The Brittany House Antiques, The Pecan on Broad and The Fox and Hen were sponsors of these very special concerts.

The Harvest Arts musicians will return Saturday night, December 18th to perform a Christmas concert in Camden.

The Most Beloved Building in Wilcox County

By Frances Donald Dudley Grimes, (1901-1989)

(Reprinted with permission from her granddaughter, Martha Grimes Lampkin )

“Wilcox County is steeped in history. The United States came into possession of this region by the Treaty of Ft Jackson on August 9, 1815 with the Creek Indians. It’s one of the larger counties and is named for Lt. Joseph M. Wilcox from Connecticut who was massacred by the Indians in 1814 on a sandbar at the mouth of Pursley Creek. The Maubilla Indians were the earliest inhabitants of Wilcox County and there is good reason to believe that DeSoto marched through Wilcox on his ruthless way to Maubilla in 1540.

Settlers began coming into the County in 1816, most coming from Virginia via of the Carolina’s and Georgia. Many were wealthy slaveholders and planters. Beautiful homes were built and large plantations established, many of which are still owned and maintained by descendants of the original owners.

A town like a person develops a character uniquely its own and mirrors the character of those who founded and developed it through the years and so it was with Camden, the county seat.

In the beginning a cultured society was maintained. Religion and education formed an important part in the community, which brings me up to my subject; the old Wilcox County Female Institute – the most beloved building in Wilcox County. 

In 1848 a board of citizens made up subscriptions for the construction of the building to be known as “The Wilcox County Female Institute.” It was built by slave labor and the bricks used throughout were made from the clay in the space now used as the athletic field of Wilcox County High School.

The Institute opened in 1850 with an enrollment of 250 girls, coming from all parts of the state and until 1866 belonged to the board which fostered its erection. In that year, Dr. John Miller, father of Alabama Governor Benjamin Meek Miller, bought and taught there several years. It was deeded to the State of Alabama in 1908 and became Wilcox County High School.

In 1963 a move began to tear the old building down and make way for a modern vocational building. A battle got under way to save this beloved landmark and through the untiring efforts of several dedicated citizens, members of DAR and UDC and most especially Dr. Peter Brannon, Mr. Milo Howard of Montgomery, Judge Jas. A. Hare of Selma, and Architect, Mr. Arthur Joe Grant of Montgomery, we won the battle with one compromise, that the rear of the structure, which was originally used as a dormitory for girls and an auditorium, be torn away, leaving the main portion.

In 1968 a historical marker was placed in front of this historic and beloved building through the efforts of the Wilcox County Historical Society. Many dignitaries were present for this occasion which included Mr. Milo Howard who ran interference for us all the way.

Now that our public school system has been greatly altered and in grave danger of being destroyed, this old building is again in danger, not only of being torn down but also of being ruthlessly abused. We sincerely hope that it can be placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its preservation.” 

Source: Notecards written by Frances Donald Dudley Grimes; date unknown, occasion unknown.

Editors Note: The Wilcox Female Institute was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April, 1976. It is assumed Mrs. Grimes’ appeal above was written in 1976 in support of this recognition. Mrs. Grimes was a founding member of the WHS and served as its first President.

HISTORY OF THE MATHESON LIBRARY 1921-1971

PINE APPLE, ALABAMA

 By Bertha Matheson Adams, (1892-1972)

On April 29, 1921, a group of women who were interested in forming a literary club met at Moore Academy in Pine Apple. The officers elected for the year 1921-1922 were: Mrs. B.W. Watson, President; Mrs. J.A. Seale, Vice President; Miss AdaSue Hawthorne, Secretary; Miss Bertha Adams, Treasurer and Mrs. E.L. Williams, Federation Secretary.

The Club was named the Century Club. It was to meet each Thursday before the fourth Sunday of the month.

The object of the club was mutual benefit, intellectual culture and community welfare. Through the years the members have taken this objective seriously.

The group met again at Moore Academy May 19, 1921. It was decided to have monthly musical programs through the summer.

In June, the Club met by invitation with Mrs. Finklea. At this meeting Mrs. J.A. Seale read the constitution and by-laws. Each article was discussed and voted on. Mrs. L.P. Cone furnished the music. The name of the club was changed to the Culture Club.

In July 1921 the Club met with the president, Mrs. Watson. At this meeting it was decided that the program for the first year’s study should be Civics.

The regular meetings of the Club began in September 1921. The name was again changed. This time the name New Century Club was selected.

A membership committee composed of AdaSue Hawthorne and Bertha Adams was appointed. Every woman in town was invited to join. The only conditions were that she was interested and willing to do what she was asked to do.

There were twenty-four members that first year. They all worked with enthusiasm.

Mrs. E.L. Williamson, Mrs. H.R. Moseley and Mrs. Finklea had had experience in club work and they were very active. Mrs. Seale, the wife of the Methodist preacher, was also an active leader but she left Pine Apple in January. Mrs. Williamson gave her untiring energy to seeing the young club established and to her more than any other one person the club owes the success of its early years. All of the members worked very hard. The programs always consisted of both papers and music. The study was taken seriously and each club member gained much knowledge. Parliamentary laws were stressed.

Outstanding programs included a year’s study on music, on art, on the Bible and on Shakespeare. The year the Club studied Shakespeare the story of the play was given character sketches of the main characters and songs from the play by the music club.

In 1923 a Junior Club was formed. Mrs. Williamson was the first Director. The New Century Club sponsored the Junior New Century until 1957. A member of the senior Club always acted as Director.  The young women had wonderful training in club work. They were always cooperative and helped with any thing that they were called upon to do. The bond between the two clubs was very close. Always on Reciprocity Day the Club was invited to meet with the Senior Club. Members of the Senior Club took the junior members over the state of Alabama on educational sightseeing trips.

Reciprocity Day was an important occasion. Members from the neighboring towns were invited to attend. For a number of years, the Reciprocity meetings were held on the lovely grounds of Dr. and Mrs. H.O. Tucker’s home.

At the beginning the dues were only $1.00 a year per person. The Club did various things to supplement the dues.

In 1922-23 the new school building of Moore Academy was erected. The Club was proud of it and wanted to be represented. For its’ part they decided to give cement steps leading to the side walk. Mrs. M.F. Jackson, Sr. was appointed chairman of this committee.

In 1925 trees were planted on the side of the highway between the Pine Apple Depot and the town itself. Each member planted one in memory of her mother and the Club planted four in memory of members who had died. In 1937–38 the Club planted more trees on the highway nearer town.

The first spring the Club sponsored Cleanup Day. The town was divided into districts and a prize was given to the members whose districts showed the most improvement. Prizes were also given to the Negroes who had the cleanest homes. This kept up for a number of years, the whole town taking part in it. The Club encouraged the planting of trees and shrubs on private property. The Club helped sponsor the building of sidewalks from town to school.

A County scholarship by the Federated Clubs of Wilcox County was established in 1937. The scholarship committee was composed of a member from each club. In the beginning $100.00 a year for four years was loaned to an outstanding young man or woman who needed assistance. This was later raised to $200.00 a year. Quite a number of worthy young people were helped by this scholarship.

The Club has cooperated with many causes that were not local. It has sold goods made by the blind each year and contributed to other scholarships. During World War II tin cans and old silk were saved for defense work. Cadets from Craig Field in Selma were entertained. Clothing was sent to foreign countries after the War. Free will offerings were taken at various times. One year $14.75 was given to cripple children and $49.00 to a polio drive. Books were sent to the Veteran’s Hospital in Montgomery. Each Christmas a box was sent to Bryce’s Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

During the War refreshments were not served at the Club meetings, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm. Attendance at the meetings was good.

Starting in 1935 the Club sponsored a community Christmas tree each year.

Down through the years the great objective of the Club was the establishment and sponsorship of the community library. Even the first year of the Club a reading circle was formed and as many books bought as there were members of the club. They were passed every two weeks, alphabetically from one member to another. In 1925 it was decided to erect a library building. Mrs. J.A. Matheson was elected treasurer of the building fund. At that time there were 30 members in the Club. She divided them into five committees and asked each committee to raise $100.00. At the end of the year the $500.00 had been raised but the Club found that that was only half enough. The next year the committees were formed again and asked to raise another $500.00. A good deal of money was donated. Various moneymaking schemes were used. There was a baby show, an amateur hour, an advertising sale and oyster dinners.

The library was opened April 17, 1927 at a cost of $1,235.79 with no outstanding debts. The Club has always felt the responsibility for its maintenance. In the beginning the Club members took turns acting as Librarian. During WPA days the government furnished three workers and since that time there has been a paid Librarian under the supervision of a Club member. The State Library Department has been generous in supplying books and each year the Club gave new books.

We have been told that the library would do credit to a town of 10,000 inhabitants. The whole town was proud of the library and helped contribute to its support. In the establishment of the library, we thank all the members but especially Mrs. Matheson for her interest and leadership. After Mrs. Matheson’s death in 1928 the library was named for her in appreciate of their work. Thanks are due Mrs. Georgia Jackson for her work in raising the standards and general oversight of the library.

Inquiries and Comments 

We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page, Instagram page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries, please let us know and we will be happy to pass it along or put you in contact with the interested party. Our email address is wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or you can text or call Martha Lampkin at 334.296.1076. We also love receiving comments on our posts on social media. The more comments, likes and shares also help our posts be viewed by more people. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

I am reaching out for assistance. I am in the very beginnings of researching my family history in Pine Hill, Alabama. What I know so far is that my great-great-great-grandfather Horace Carmichael was living in Pine Hill (source 1880 Census); he was originally born in Dillon, South Carolina and I surmised that he was brought to Pine Hill by the Carmichaels of Dillon; William Carmichael (1817-1888) buried in the Pine Hill Cemetery. Horace was a blacksmith and I think he had a son named Horace Carmichael that was employed by the McClure Lumber Company in Wager, Alabama prior to WWI. Any assistance you can provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. V. Crawley, Richmond, VA

 I am looking for additional information on the Pritchett family. Ida Pritchett, buried at Bear Creek Church Cemetery in Caledonia, Wilcox County, is my great grandmother (1883-1907). She was married to Jake Till. They had two children, Willie Ethyl Till (married Philip M. Bowdoin). She is buried in New Brockton, AL. The second child, a son, JJ Till, died in 1907 at 3 months old and is buried along with his mother. Family stories tell me Ida may have died from birth complications or fever. From FindaGrave I know that Ida’s parents are TJ Pritchett (1848-1922) and Alice Pritchett (1859-?). Both are buried in Bear Creek Church Cemetery. FAG only shows Ida as their child. Thanks in advance for any help.  R. Bowdoin, Santa Clara, CA.

I am looking for information on the 78 enslaved persons and land sales and other listings for John Giddeon Horn and his son John Andrew Clement Horn. The will was disputed when John Giddeon Horn died in 1858. It was disputed to the Supreme Court and the 78 enslaved persons were split up; the children drew straws. John Andrew Giddeon Horn had property both in Camden and in Marengo County, Alabama. His land appears to be in Coy. He died in Marengo County 31 July 1889 but lived in Camden according to the 1870 Census with his wife Margaret McArthur. I am hoping to find someone locally to look at Probate records in hopes of finding sales and other documents listing the name of the plantation and other information.  A. Ezzell, Buffalo, NY

I was doing some family tree research and I saw a story that one of my ancestor’s named Ned Brown was a free man who fell in love with a slave named Ada Gilmore or Graves and he bought her and her mother Dicey from slavery. I would love to know if this is true or not. Thank you! M. Carstarphen, Toledo, OH

From a WHS Facebook post highlighting the photos taken by Laura Agee at the 2021 Tour of Homes:

Hello. Is RiverBend ever on tour? It is beautiful! V. Girod, Flora, MS

We were there! Loved every one of the homes! Can’t wait for the 2022! It’s a wonderful time for sure! J. and Z. Hunter, Hilton Head Island, SC

Every home was lovely! K. Bradsell

I was there. Hard to say my favorite! S. Beverly

From a WHS Facebook post shared from Lee Peacock – “Wilcox County Alabama News Flashback for October 13, 2021” featuring a photo of Martha and John Lamkin and Mr. Lamkin’s obituary, Albert Bloch’s obituary along with news from Pine Hill, Bellview, Camden and Allenton:

I treasure each of these posts with sneaks into past residents in Wilcox County! L. Hall

From a WHS Facebook post sharing a photo and information about the What’s Cooking in Wilcox County cookbook published in 1947 by the Wilcox County Home Demonstration Club. Included were committee member’s names and various advertisements. 

Would you show some of the recipes? Very interesting! K. Geiger

I have my grandmother’s Butler County Home Demonstration Club cookbook. Very well worn. J. Sanders

Mrs. Glen D. Liddell = my grandmother! J. Shannon

Cecil Shanks of Furman was my cousin. What a treasure. M. Nichols

First Pilgrimage Ball in Furman

The First Pilgrimage Ball was held on March 27th, 2021 at historic Wakefield in Furman as a fundraiser for the Furman Historical Society. It was a wonderful celebration at the end of a very successful WHS Tour of Homes weekend.

As guests arrived and during the ball, photographs were taken by the talented Laura Agee of Agee Images + Film. These photos are now available for purchase with the proceeds going to the Furman Historical Society for the work the group is doing to preserve its historic structures.

For more information, email wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or call 334.296.1076. The photo pricing is as follows: 4×6 – $1, 5×7 – $5, 8×10 – $10 and shipping is $5. PayPal, Venmo, Cash App and check are accepted.

Make plans to attend the 2022 WHS Tour of Homes in Furman on March 26, 2022!

Give the Gift of Membership

Gift memberships are now available! Help us grow our membership and take pride in the history of Wilcox County. If you are interested in gifting a membership to a friend or family member for a birthday or other special occasion let us know. We will mail them a beautiful gift certificate along with our latest newsletter. For more information, please contact us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.   

If you are interested in submitting an article for the newsletter, please let us know! Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or send via snail mail to P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. We will be happy to review it for a future issue!

A LOOK BACK…  

26 October 1907

The Birmingham News

People Went to Polls Early

Camden, Ala., Oct. 26 – The local option election today brought out a big vote in Wilcox county, early hours at the polls showing that the balloting would be heavy. Prohibitionists declared themselves entirely satisfied with the morning showing, and predictions as to the prohibition victory ranged from two to one to five to one.

The whisky men had practically given up the fight by noon, admitting that it was only a question of how great the prohibition majority would be.

13 October 1921

Wilcox Progressive Era

The ladies of the A.R.P. Church are busy getting ready for a Bazaar to be had early in December. They have started a movement to raise money to paint the church.

The Friday Afternoon Club had a pleasant meeting with its former secretary, Mrs. Alice Foster, on Clifton Ave. After an interesting program on “Modern Drama” the guests were invited into her beautifully decorated dining room where a salad course was served.

Schuster Springs Farm

Joe H. Bonner, Proprietor.

Invites your Patronage

No one in Wilcox county need to be told what these wonderful waters can do in stomach and kidney troubles and their kindred ills, and in general run down conditions.

Price of water $1.00 per five (5) gallons plus $2.25 for carboy or for case of quarts which will be refunded when containers are finally returned.

Cash must accompany all orders. Address all correspondence to Joe H. Bonner, Oak Hill, Ala.

Shipping Point: Pine Apple, Ala.

1 November 1961

The Birmingham News

‘Crash’ said meteor fall

A meteor which flashed across South Alabama may have fallen in Wilcox County, the Pensacola, Fla. Weather Bureau said this morning.

The Birmingham News received calls from persons in Dallas and Wilcox Counties, who said that an airplane may have crashed in Wilcox County. They reported seeing a flaming object fall from the sky.

The time of their sighting and that of the Pensacola station – about 11 p.m. – coincided.

18 February 1962

The Birmingham News

Woman born as a slave dies at 114, funeral Sunday

In the hills of Wilcox County where she was born a slave 114 years ago, Mrs. Ida Dumas will be buried at 1 p.m. Sunday after services at Canaan Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Arlington.

Her grave will be beside that of her husband, Doss O. Dumas, who died March, 1936, at 70.

The Rev. Thomas Threadgill will conduct the services. Davenport-Harris Funeral Home of Birmingham will be in charge.

Mrs. Dumas was born at the Kimbrough plantation at Arlington in 1848 the daughter of Wash and Martha Kimbrough. She clearly remembered when Yankee soldiers came to Wilcox County in the War Between the States and when she was freed along with other slaves.

Her first husband was Jack Fisher. They had several children. After her marriage to Dumas, a number of other children were born. She lived to see the fifth generation of her offspring.

Nine children survive and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In 1958, Mrs. Dumas came to Birmingham to live with her daughter, Mrs. Robert L. Wheaten, and Mrs. Wheaten, at 6620 Third Ave., North, where she died Monday.

24 October 1963

Wilcox Progressive Era

Nuff Said-

Students of Wil-Co-Hi have been electing “Who’s Who” this week. There’s really a lot of tension and anxious anticipation in the as to who got this, that and the other. So far, Nuff has learned that:

Taking the reign of “Mr. and Miss Wil-Co-Hi” are Pat Chestnut and Jackie Capell. Being chosen “Wittiest” are Pug Hayes and Charles Tait. Johnny Ross and Sandra Harvell were chosen “Most Popular” and Nell Tait and Jimmie Cook “Most Intellectual”. “Best Dressed” Connie Hayes and Will Bruse.

The Senior Class has also been busy electing “Favorites” for the year. They are Jimmie Cook, Johnny Webb, Johnny Ross, and Andy Johnson.

Being elected from the girls are Nell Tait, Pug Hayes, Martha Sue Philpott, and Jackie Capell.

Congratulations, students, on being elected “Who’s Who” and for being honored in this manner by classmates and fellow students.

We know “You” will make the 1964 Wil-Co-Hi Annual more attractive.  

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

  • Sunday, November 14, 2PM – WHS Meeting, Wilcox Female Institute

            Mr. Jeff Mansell, Natchez National Historical Park Historian, Guest Speaker

  • Saturday, December 4, 2-4PM Christmas Open House, Furman, Wakefield

            Join us for the annual Christmas Open House in Furman at Historic Wakefield which will be photographed December 7–8, for Victoria Magazine’s 2022 Christmas Issue.

  • Saturday, December 17 -18, 7PM Christmas Concert, Camden, Wilcox Female Institute

            Harvest Arts musicians, Madeline and Hannah, return for the debut of their Christmas Album. Tickets go on sale November 26th.

  • Sunday, December 19, 6PM Christmas in Furman, Bethsaida Baptist Church

            Driving Tour starts at dusk, Christmas music/candlelight service begins at the church at 6PM.

  • January 2022 (Date TBA) Piano Concert, Wilcox Female Institute

            We are working to bring Hungarian Concert Pianist, Vince Vajda, to perform on the 9′ Mason & Hamlin concert grand piano at the Institute.

    • Sunday, February 27, 2022, 2PM – WHS Meeting, Wilcox Female Institute

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Summer 2021

Dear Friends,

WE DID IT! Our 2021 Tour of Homes was an overwhelming success. The weekend generated more than $45,000 in profit for our Historical Society. As if that were not enough, we received rave reviews from our over one thousand guests. In fact, we already have people requesting tickets for next year.

Thank you to our homeowners that made this event possible. You were absolutely fantastic as our visitors descended upon your homes. Thank you to Chris and Ryan and The Pecan on Broad for providing James Farmer and for hosting the incredible reception at RiverBend.

Thank you also goes out to all the members that assisted at the breakfast Saturday morning and that helped at the homes during the day. Without you, we could not have made it happen. From Friday night’s Reception to the Ball Saturday Night, the weekend was fantastic!

In addition to his role as Planning Committee Chair, Chris Bailey coordinated the Tour of Homes’ Corporate Sponsor Campaign. His efforts generated $24,000 in cash contributions that offset all of our Tour expenses. We were left with nearly $7,000 (after expenses) that will be go toward the restoration of both the Miller Law Office and the Female Institute. Thank you, Chris!

Over fifty people attended our May meeting at the home of Martha and James Lampkin in Pine Apple. We had twelve new members join at the meeting! Thank you to Martha and James for opening both of your beautiful homes and the barns as well.

Your Board of Directors has been busy this year. We voted unanimously to contract Mr. Richard “Dick” Hudgens as the architect for the Female Institute’s restoration. He will now begin designing Phase I of our five-year project. This phase will be the addition of bathrooms on both floors of the building and an elevator. They will be located behind the existing building at the end of the main hall. The addition will be the same width/height and the exterior will look like the original dorm wing that was torn down in the late 1960’s.

As we begin work on the Female Institute, we will launch a Capital Campaign to fund all three phases of the restoration. It is an ambitious plan that when complete will make the Female Institute a center for the preservation of our history and fully-functional center capable of hosting artistic performances, symposiums, and other special exhibitions. We will need your help to complete this project. Look for more information about the three phases of the restoration and its projected costs at our first meeting this fall.

As you may know, the Board approved a full restoration of the Miller Law Office earlier this year. A majority of the work on the interior was completed before the Tour. You will see more restoration work on the exterior this summer. When complete, the building will look as it did in the Historical American Buildings Survey (HABS) photos from the 1930’s. Nearly $25,000 in grant money and private donations have been acquired to help in this restoration effort.

As we look to the upcoming year, we find ourselves in a good position. A series of successful Tours have brought needed financial resources and positive public exposure. Our membership has grown to over 200 members, making us the largest civic organization in Wilcox County. We have a visionary Board who is working to restore the buildings in our care, protect our many historic districts, and who is working to preserve other structures in Downtown Camden.

This year we will see the completion of the Miller Law Office as a museum space in Downtown Camden, we will break ground on much needed bathrooms at the Institute, and you will see us launch other events in addition to our annual Tour of Homes. Get involved as much as you can because it will make a difference. If you have connections to corporations, foundations or individuals that might be willing to help us restore the Institute, reach out to them. Those personal connections are what will help us reach our goal.

We are just getting started on a very exciting journey. With your help we will restore the Female Institute, giving it a positive role to play in our County once again. I look forward to the coming year and all that we can achieve together.

Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Lance Britt, WHS President ☼

Welcome to new members:

from Alabama – Sue Roberson Arnold of Greenville, David and Gail Fuller of Oak Hill, Sonny and Meredith Gray of Furman, Shannon and Fran Hollinger of Camden, William and Cheryl Johnson of Greenville, Jesse Jordan of Thomasville, Kitty Lamkin of Pine Apple, Tom and Ceil McGehee of Mobile, Mike Melton of Pine Apple, Barbara Middleton of Honoraville, Carlton and Judy Niemeyer of Montrose, Kent and Laura Tabor of Furman, Albert and Sherri Ward of Pine Apple and Elizabeth Dalton of Camano Island, Washington. And welcome to new Life Members – Lee Bacon of Sparks, Nevada, William Bradford of Montevallo, Alabama, Dr. and Mrs. Donald Carmichael of Birmingham, Alabama, Jimmy and Fran Cook of Camden, Alabama, Alice Jean Godbold of Sandy Springs, Georgia, Suzanne Graham of New Braunfels, Texas, Michael James and Diane Dunlap of Sumrall, Mississippi, Haden Gaines Marsh from Homewood, Alabama and the Honorable Jeff and Mary Sessions of Mobile, Alabama.  THANK YOU for joining the WHS! ☼

THANK YOU to our 2021 Tour of Homes Sponsors

The Pecan on Broad, Bailey Dunagan, Global Medical Products, UB Community Development, The Brittany House Antiques at Oak Hill, Town-County National Bank, Handiman Building Supply, Wilcox Progressive Era, Coast to Coast Hardware, Donnie McLeod, Community Neighbor Bank, Camden Jewelry & Gifts and McGraw-Webb Chevrolet.  ☼

Member Spotlight – Scottie and Tammy Myers

Pleasant Ridge owners, Scottie and Tammy Myers, are veteran Living Historians and Reenactors of the Antebellum, Civil War and Old West periods.

It has been a life-long dream to care for and preserve an antebellum home, so during the 2020 pandemic when Pleasant Ridge became available, they jumped at the opportunity to make their dream a reality.

A BIG part of that dream meant remembering and teaching accurate Southern history, both the good the the ugly with other persons…others who would want to study and understand the context of the times. That’s what Scottie and Tammy strive to accomplish with each guest that visits Pleasant Ridge.

Even though they both work full time, Scottie and Tammy have opened Pleasant Ridge as a Bed & Breakfast; they are also hosting Tours, 1860s immersion dinners, Sunday afternoon Ladies’ Tea and other special events such as the authentic 1860s camping experience for fathers and sons over Father’s Day weekend.

Pleasant Ridge, which was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, was one of the beautiful homes opened for the 2021 WHS Tour of Homes. The lovely drawing of the home at the beginning of this column was done by Tammy’s 82-year-old mother, Barbara Starling Burks Neal of Montgomery.

The Myers, who are new to Wilcox County, relocated to Canton Bend from Alexander City in Tallapoosa County. They each have grown children: Scottie’s two sons and two beautiful granddaughters live in Oakman, Alabama. Tammy has two daughters; one who lives in Washington DC and the other in Denver. Together, they have a faithful ol’ Labrador mix named Sabo. 

Learn more at www.PleasantRidge1838.com and follow them on Facebook at Pleasant Ridge 1838.  

Miller Law Office Restoration

from Chris Bailey, Chairman of the Planning and Fundraising Committee

The law office interior restoration has been completed.  All walls and ceiling plaster work has been repaired and painted. Photos and documents have all been framed with UV protective glass framing and has really turned out nice. Martha worked with a custom frame shop that does very high-quality work. We are in the process of replacing interior blinds with simple bamboo shades to help with temperature and light conditions.

The exterior repairs have begun as well.  We sourced Aeratis Flooring thru our local building supplier, Handiman.  The product is a considerable investment, but investment is the key word.  This is a high quality, national historic registry approved product for porch flooring.  It has a lifetime warranty against cracking, warping and peeling.  The color chosen is “battleship grey” which is an excellent historic match for our area. The steps will also be built out of this material, which should never need replacement within our lifetime. 

Next week, our paint team from Birmingham will be back in town to begin the exterior painting of the building.  They will scrape, sand and apply two coats of both primer and paint.  Lattice work will be painted the historically correct green and will enclose the crawl space.   

The body of the building will be painted Benjamin Moore Dove White, which is the color we chose at RiverBend.  It’s a nice true white, but not a reflectively bright white. 

Our hope is to have the project near completion by July 4th.☼

WHS May Meeting at Greenleaves in Pine Apple

On Sunday, afternoon, May 23, about 60 members of the WHS gathered in the shaded back yard of Greenleaves, the Grimes family home in Pine Apple. 

Speakers Robin McDonald and Valerie Pope Burnes talked about their book “Visions of the Black Belt – a Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama.” Robin is an independent graphic designer and photographer. He is also the author of “Heart of a Small Town: Photographs of Alabama Towns.” Valerie is professor of history at the University of West Alabama and was the 2018-2019 President of the Alabama Historical Association. She did the introductory texts for the book about the Black Belt which was published in 2015 in cooperation with the Black Belt Cultural Arts Center. 

Following the program, Martha Grimes Lampkin and her father, Harold Watts Grimes, invited members to tour Greenleaves (1854), the Pine Apple Bungalow (1925), the Old Barn Museum (1854) and other outbuildings that included a blacksmith shop, two log cabins and a pine log barn. This property and part of the original Grimes Plantation was named a Century and Heritage Farm by the Alabama Department of Agriculture in 1999.  ☼

MEMORIAL

Member, Charles “Chip” Porter Schutt, Jr. of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, passed away on 23 May 2021 at the age of 78. Chip was predeceased by his wife, Katharine “Puss” Draper Schutt. He is survived by their three children: Porter, Jake and Kate and six grandchildren. He never missed one of children’s or grandchildren’s concerts or sporting events. Chip was a generous giver, dedicated to the success of many organizations including The Pilot School, the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware and The Wilmington Club. “The Captain” as many called him, was a member of the Cruising Club of America, the Northeast Harbor Fleet and the Vicmead Yacht Club.  At a young age, he made his first transatlantic crossing. Many of his outdoor adventures, hunting and otherwise, happened at Galio Farms in Wilcox County. His home there meant a great deal to him and his children.  ☼

PROPOSED TOWER IN DOWNTOWN CAMDEN 

On Tuesday, June 8, several members of the Board and a few of our members attended a Community Meeting hosted by Black Belt Technologies (BBT) at the Ferry Terminal. Black Belt Technologies is the company that purchased the Ratcliff’s Hardware Building on Broad Street and the lumber yard behind it. They plan to install broadband internet cables in Camden.

Prior to the meeting we had learned they intended to put what we were told was a 30′ – 35′ Tower/Pole on the Ratcliff site. We informed them that the proposed location was inside the Camden Courthouse National Historic District and we would oppose it. They responded that it might be possible to put it on the existing 911 Tower attached to the Courthouse Annex or on the lumber yard site behind the Ratcliff Building as it is just outside the Historic District. We encouraged them to pursue the tower attached to the Courthouse Annex. 

At the June 8 Meeting, we were informed that the Tower/Pole would he 45′ – 50′ with a white receiver on top. There was a lot of discussion about the company, its plans, its work in Selma, and the tower’s location in Camden. As a result of the discussion, we learned that the proposed tower could be anywhere in a 1.2-mile radius of the Ratcliff Building. All they need is a clear line of sight to the 2 water towers. Melissa Dove was quite helpful in offering access to the existing 911 Tower that exists on the Courthouse Annex. The existing tower is tall enough for their needs. 

Please know that we are fully supportive of any group that can improve our county’s access to the internet. However, it is our responsibility to protect our historic districts and what is built in them/in clear view of them. We are continuing the dialog with Black Belt Technologies to ensure that the beauty of Downtown Camden is protected for generations to come. ☼

AN EVENING OF FLUTE AND HARP IN CAMDEN

On Thursday, July 22, Harvest Arts will present An Evening of Flute and Harp in downtown Camden from 7-8:30PM. Tickets will go on sale June 29. For more information see HarvestArtsLLC.com. Also featured that evening will be an art show with original paintings by Madeline. ☼

A Family Cemetery Passes Away

By Noma Bruton, WHS Life Member

 (Reprinted with permission from https://xiigenerations.com/ )

On a cool February day in 1889, John Wyatt Threadgill sat down to write his Will. Often referred to as “JW”, John Wyatt lived in Wilcox County, Alabama for over fifty years. He and his wife, Mary, raised a large family in the area. Five generations later, there are many descendants of John Wyatt and Mary.

During the almost eighty years of his life, JW accumulated a large estate. When he wrote his Will, he had significant assets to bequeath to members of his family.  JW’s final Will covers ten full pages. “

Preserving the Threadgill family legacy was on JW’s mind as he wrote. Some of the first words of his Will formalize the family cemetery and set aside land and funds for its ongoing maintenance.

John Wyatt wrote:

“I desire to be decently interred in my family graveyard, on my own lands, by the side of my deceased wife, and I hereby reserve [two?] acres of land to include said graveyard, together with a right of way through any of my lands from the nearest public road to the same. Said right of way is to be sufficiently wide for the passage of all vehicles to and from the same. The said graveyard so [illegible] to be a burial place for my children and their posterity, and for no other person or persons, unless it be such as my Executors or Trustees may permit – on application – and I for this reserve and set aside five hundred dollars to be invested in Alabama State interest bearing bonds, or such other instrument as will be perfectly secure, to be determined by my trustees or Executors with the approval of any court of the state of Alabama having jurisdiction of the same under the statues of the said State. The interest on the said investment to be applied to the beautifying and keeping in good order the said grave-yard and the right of way to the same, under the direction of my said executors and trustees or the said court or under the order or direction of the same. The said five hundred dollars to be a permanent fund for the purposes herein stated.”

Later in the Will, JW returns to the subject of the family cemetery and includes instructions for a monument.

“I desire a suitable monument erected over my grave and that of my deceased wife, one monument to cover both graves, with such inscriptions as are consistent and usual, and for the carrying out of this request I hereby direct my executor or executors to expend two hundred and fifty dollars out of my estate, or not over that amount. The said monument to be erected under the management and direction of my said executors or executor in a reasonable time after my demise.”

In late 2020, I began a search to find the location of the Threadgill Family Cemetery. After reading JW’s Will, it was obvious to me that the establishment and maintenance of a family cemetery had been important to him. I wanted to know to what extent his final wishes had been carried out.

A Find A Grave (FAG) volunteer with deep family ties to Wilcox County visited the location in 2015 and, thoughtfully, set up a cemetery profile on the website. At that time, the FAG volunteer recorded only one grave memorial in the cemetery. The grave appeared to be that of a child – “Little Lillie”. The volunteer described the location and state of the cemetery as he found it: 

“Located just to the right of the dead-end dirt road off County Road 32 in the northeast corner of T.13N.-R.5E. Section 33. I am told that, as of about 10 years ago, there was an iron fence around the cemetery and 5 or 6 headstones were visible. As of March 7, 2015, the fence is gone and the headstone pictured is the only one that is still visible.”

I enlisted professional genealogist, Tonya Chandler, to further research and survey the cemetery. Her report, in its entirety, follows. 

THREADGILL FAMILY CEMETERY

ARLINGTON, ALABAMA

DATE OF SURVEY:  21 MARCH 2021

The Threadgill Family Cemetery was documented in March 1952 by William M. Cook II, his wife

Josephine Aldrich Harris Cook, and their two daughters, Garland Wingfield Cook and Jean Lindsay Cook. Their typed account and hand-drawn map were used to locate the Threadgill Cemetery in March 2021, 69 years after the Cook family’s visit.

As in their account, a right turn from Alabama State Highway 5 onto County Road 32 leads towards Arlington, Alabama. A dirt road (Robinson Road) leads off to the right of County Road 32. There is no longer a gate at the entrance to the dirt road. The Threadgill Family Cemetery was said to be located on the right-hand side of the dirt road in a stand of pine trees, an unspecified distance up the road. Pine trees are now prevalent all along the road. The road is unpaved, rough, and rocky. The right side of the road has many changes in elevation, with pits and hills. There were 2-3 occupied private trailers and homes on the right side of the road, with heavy growth in surrounding fields. In a wooded area of relatively level land, approximately .2 miles after turning onto Robinson Road, there was a gray stone just visible from the road within the trees (near utility pole 30Y8533). This proved to be the headstone of “Little Lillie.” There was no path from the road to the cemetery area, which was reached through heavy foliage and brambles. The cemetery is located about 15 yards from the road into the woods.

The iron paling fence around the cemetery described in 1952 is no longer present. Only two of the short iron fence fixtures were visible in the leaves, apparently marking off two corners of a rectangular area.

Only one headstone was visible, the stone that was seen from the road. This was a large simple headstone engraved with “Little Lillie.” There may have been additional words at the top of this stone, but the upper part of the stone is almost entirely flat. No dates were visible on the stone. The stone for “Little Lillie” leaned against a short piling of red brick, which may have once been the lower part of a monument.

There was only one other stone found, which was a small rectangular stone the size of a brick, near but at a 45-degree angle to the headstone of Little Lillie. This was likely a footstone, but it was unclear to which grave it belonged. It may have been the footstone for the brick base, as the stones appear to match and they were at roughly the same angle. There were no visible initials on the footstone.

A survey of the remaining area did not find any other stones. Due to heavy piles of leaves and debris, these were the only two stones found. The graves of John Wyatt Threadgill, Mary Threadgill, and Ardella were not visible.

Based on the 1952 Cook account, graves were present then that are no longer visible. Combining the information provided in 1952 and that seen in this survey, the following graves are known to have been present in the Threadgill Family Cemetery. Existing stones are bolded:

M. J. S. (footstone only)

Ardella, wife of Joe Robinson, born May 13, 1850 died Aug. 18, 1887

J. W. T. (John Wyatt Threadgill)

M. T. (Mary Threadgill)

Little Lillie

Unknown, footstone only —End of Report

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONUMENT?

There is a handwritten note in the Cook family account that states:

“After talking with Ella May Cook Kilpatrick (Mrs. John Y.) I learned that there had been large marble tombstones in the Threadgill Cemetery, but that they had been stolen during WWII by men in trucks who went around gathering marble slabs from old uncared for cemeteries!”

This may explain the absence of the monument JW asked to be placed over his and his wife’s graves.  The note is unsigned.

One hundred and thirty years after he wrote his Will, time, circumstances and nature will soon obliterate the action John Wyatt Threadgill took to preserve the Threadgill Family Cemetery in Arlington. The $500 JW set aside in 1889 is equivalent to about $14,300 in 2021; the $250 he set aside for a monument is worth approximately $7,100 today. It wasn’t enough.

Sources: Alabama. Probate Court (Wilcox County) 1820-1934, “Last Will & Testament, John Wyatt Threadgill,” February 21, 1889, Salt Lake City, UT, FamilySearch.org. Film #2.321.516.

“Threadgill Cemetery, ID 2571895,” Find A Grave, GPS coordinates:  32.055117, -87.574689, accessed April 11, 2021, https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2571895/threadgillcemetery.

Appreciation to: Tonya D. J. Chandler, Southern Roots Genealogical Services, Birmingham, AL, Martin Sheffield, Birmingham, AL and Garland Cook Smith, Birmingham, AL.

Inquiries and Comments 

We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page, Instagram page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries, please let us know and we will be happy to pass it along or put you in contact with the interested party. Our email address is wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or you can text or call Martha Lampkin at 334.296.1076. We also love receiving comments on our posts on social media. The more comments, likes and shares also help our posts be viewed by more people. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

I am doing research on a New Year Eve’s group who paraded in costume through the streets of Camden. Called the D.U.D.s (some referred to them as Damn Ugly Devils), they paraded from right after the Civil War up until 1908 (the last reference to them). The City of Livingston, Alabama has a D.U.D. group that can be traced from before the Civil War and still parades around the city square each New Year’s Eve even until recently. Any information whatsoever on the Camden D.U.D.s would be most appreciated. E. Wolfe, Fairhope, AL, hut.builder@gmail.com 

I am interested in finding any pictures of the home and or warehouses at Bridgeport Landing on the Alabama River. My ancestor William Wirt Moore worked for Judge Bridges in the 1850’s and eventually purchased the landing from him. Thank you for any help on locating pictures. Russell Moore, Member, Montgomery, AL,  tcg.rmoore@gmail.com

Will you host a tour in 2022? I heard that this year was FABULOUS…but did not know about it until it was over. I’d like to put it on my calendar for 2022. Thanks so much. R. Frey, Marietta, GA (Editor’s Note – March 26, 2022 is the date for the WHS Historic Homes Tour which will be held in Furman!)

Hi, just saw your post about Ms. Betty’s Museum. We went by there Sat. on the tour. Sweet lady, I had never heard of Rosa Young or the Rosebud School. Since then, I have learned about her through watching YouTube videos. Ms. Betty is doing a service to the community and has quilts and historically significant items in the museum. The Tour was wonderful, my sister and I enjoyed every minute of it. We spent the night with Mrs. Julia at Liberty Hall. We look forward to coming back next year! S. Hendrick, Brantley, AL   

Following are comments for the post Happy Birthday to Frances Donald Dudley Grimes – one of the first presidents of the WHS and heavily involved in preserving the Wilcox Female Institute in the 1960s: 

Thank you for sharing this important part in our county’s history. Happy Birthday Miss Frances! Thebrittanyhouseantiques

Loved reading all of Ms. Frances’s story! Thanks! pathigs

So eloquently put! Love this. Chrissydpatronas

Awesome! Love family history! S. Matranga

So many memories of a wonderful lady. She was very special. L. Tracy

Following are a few comments on the posts for the 2021 Tour of Homes:

Well, we just had a fabulous time! Thank you for everything! Brokenhillholiday

It was a great weekend! Y’all did a fantastic job! Thanks so much. Leighpostle

Such a beautiful weekend…thank you for sharing your beautiful homes…so interesting! Toodlie52

Awesome tour guide! (The House on the Hill) memeofsix

It’s so interesting – be sure to visit! (The Old Shoe Shop Museum) amystjh

Great job guys! Lynnenoah

Such a wonderful weekend. We have come the last few years! We wouldn’t miss it!  Apriljwhite

We had a wonderful time coming from Tuscaloosa! Haleymarie.87

Such a wonderful time! Thank you for the lovely hospitality. Camden is so charming! Whitgtalley

Enjoyed our weekend in Camden! Thank you! Lynnenoah

It was worth the wait! Thank you! Reddickmillie

So proud of Wilcox County efforts…hoping Butler County follows suit…starting with a Butler County Clean up day. Way to go Wilcox County! Faypoole ☼

Donation of Bibles to the WHS

Earlier this year we were contacted by Margaret Price “Peggy” Braun of Tow, Texas asking us if we were interested in two Bibles from her family. Her letter reads “In the summer of 1860 my great-great-grandmother Stella Phelps Hatfield and her husband Henry Hatfield became the principals of the Wilcox Female Institute. The Hatfields followed a Mrs. E. Upson, principal in 1850, and the L.B. Johnsons, principals between 1851 and 1856. I was never able to discover what happened in 1851 when Mrs. Upson left, but evidently so much animosity had developed between the “Upsonites” and the “Johnsonites” that there were still two factions in Camden when the Hatfields arrived. An entry in the middle of their daughter Helen’s Bible noted the end of the controversy: “A complete reconciliation amoung the Institute girls, Feby 7, 1861.”   When the Hatfields closed their school in Eutaw to come to Camden, Helen’s best friend Mary Erwin Clark, daughter of James. B. Clark, an attorney and Eutaw chancellor, came with them as a boarding student. Both girls were 15 years old. In December of 1860 Mary Erwin gave Helen a Bible as a Christmas gift. That Bible is inscribed to Helen and includes pictures of both girls. Sadly, both girls died of typhoid fever – Helen in September 1861, and Mary Erwin in April, 1862. Both of their obituaries are pasted on the front cover of the book. 

My father was an only child and my son is an only child; and unfortunately, I have no one in my family interested in family history or the family documents in my possession. I have both Bibles and wondered if you would be interested in having them for the museum.”

We corresponded with Mrs. Braun and are happy to report that the Bibles are in our possession and will be displayed in the Wilcox Female Institute when the planned restorations are complete. Many, many thanks to Mrs. Braun for her kind donation for these invaluable Bibles and other documents from the early days of our beloved Female Institute. ☼

Give the Gift of Membership

Gift memberships are now available! Help us grow our membership and take pride in the history of Wilcox County. If you are interested in gifting a membership to a friend or family member for a birthday or other special occasion let us know. We will mail them a beautiful gift certificate along with our latest newsletter. For more information, please contact us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. 

A LOOK BACK…

5 September 1866 

The Semi-Weekly Natchitoches Times (Natchitoches, Louisiana)

DIED, at Pleasant Hill DeSoto Parish La., Aug 28th. D.A.W. Patterson, aged about 57 years, formerly of Wilcox County, Alabama.

13 March 1869

Tri-Weekly Clarion (Meridian, Mississippi) 

A destruction fire occurred at Camden, Wilcox County, Alabama, on Wednesday last, destroying a block of seventeen buildings. 

15 May 1878

The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi) DISTRISSING. A Young Lady Missing.

Meridian Mercury.

On the 1st day of April last, Mr. John Gaddy, of Wilcox County, Alabama put his niece, Martha Ann Wiggins, a girl about 15 years old, upon a boat on the Alabama river, to go to Selma, and thence by rail to this city, and to go from here to her home near Energy, Clarke County. Since that she has not been heard of by her friends. She has no father, but a mother, who is now the wife of Alexander Johnson, who lives near Energy. Of course, there is distress and fear on her account, and any person having any information concerning her will do a great act of kindness by imparting it to her mother or step-father. The person who gave us this item does not know what boat she was put on.   

30 July 1880

Wilcox News and Pacificator Pineapple and Snow Hill. 

Grand Rallies of the Democracy.

Two Great Days in the History of the Canvas.

The strength of the East gathered together at the two above named places on Tuesday and Wednesday. Crowds of our colored friends turned out, and many of them openly expressed their intention of carrying their fortunes with the Democracy. The people were addressed by Judge Purifoy, Hon. Rob. Morrisette, S.D. Bloch, Gen. R. C. Jones, W. W. McConnico and James T. Beck. The candidate on the Radical ticket for Representative, Patrick Gaines, asked and obtained permission to speak. He was replied to by James T. Beck.

The glorious old East is fully aroused, and the whole county is going to emulate her example.

When the East takes up her glass on the second day of August, with the sugar from Mimms’ and Fox’ Mill in the bottom, and pour in the Purifying element from Snow Hill add the spirits of Allenton, sprinkle over the nutmeg of Bonham’s, drop in a slice of Pine Apple, and hold it to the rest of the county and says, “Here’s at you.”, about “seventeen more will rise up” and respond.    

The people of Allenton and Oak Hill herewith extend to you a cordial invitation to participate at their picnic on Thursday, July 12th, on the W.W. McConnico place, 1 1/2 miles from Allenton. A first-class band will be on the grounds that day, also a grand Base Ball game will be played by the Allenton and Pine Apple clubs. At night there will be a grand ball at the residence of Frank Jones, near the McConnico place. Refreshments will be furnished gratis by the young men. We assure you a pleasant time and welcome everybody to come.

Respectfully, W.W. McConnico, H.E. Voltz, J.T. Jones, H.T. Lambert – Committee of Arrangements    

6 July 1922

Wilcox Progressive Era

Local News

Mr. Clay Sheffield of Pine Hill visited in Camden Monday.

Capt. J.H. Fuller of Nadawah was in town Saturday.

A number of young people enjoyed a picnic Tuesday at the home of Mrs. Tom Moore.

Miss Louise Matthews left for Montgomery Monday to take a business course.

Fifteen or twenty cars of Camden ball fans went to Selma on the fourth and saw Selma beat Camden 5-0.

Miss Sarah Ervin of Rock West left Monday for San Antonio Texas to visit relatives.

Mr. Henry Hawthorne went to Selma Wednesday to bring his wife home, who has been sick at an infirmary.

The ladies Aid of the A.R.P. church will meet Friday evening at four o’clock this week with Mrs. Will Lawler in the Grampion Hills.

Messrs. Jo Mac and Wirt Moore motored to Selma Friday to meet their cousin, Margaret Moore of Due West, S.C.

Mr. Herbert Holman, son of our townsman, Mr. Brad Holman is now in an Auto School in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. J.H. Jones and Mr. Will Liddell have issued about 200 invitations to their friends to attend a Barbecue Thursday at the Oliver place which is owned by Dr. J.H. Jones. 

13 March 1936

The Birmingham News – Miller, 72, is ‘Feeling Great’

Camden, Ala. – Former Gov. B.M. Miller, in fine health and high good spirits, Friday was receiving congratulations on his seventy-second birthday.

“I am feeling fine,” the former governor declared, “the buttermilk is fine down here and I am feeling better than I ever have.”

Asked if he contemplated re-entering politics, he said. “Pshaw, I’m too busy for politics. I’ve got no time for that. I’m just resting and practicing law.”

He said he had lost between five and 10 pounds since he left the executive office in January, 1935, and now tipped the scales around 205 pounds. He stands five feet and 11 inches in his stocking feet. With his sister, Mrs. Sallie Brice he lives at his home here.

Asked if he had no fear of Friday the thirteenth, he laughed and said, “Why no. Friday thirteenth is good luck for me, because if it hadn’t been for Friday, March 13, 1864, I wouldn’t  be here.”   

5 August 1943 

Wilcox Progressive Era – First Bale of Cotton Ginned for Wilcox

The first bale of cotton to be ginned in Wilcox County for the 1943 season was ginned here by the Peoples Gin Company Saturday. Grown by W.P. Tait of Coy, Ala., this cotton, which was handled by the Camden Cotton warehouse, brought 30 cents per pound when purchased by Matthews Hardware Company, of Camden. Auctioneer was C.M. Watts.

19 July 1956

Wilcox Progressive Era – Pine Apple HDC

The Pine Apple Home Demonstration Club met with Mrs. J. M. Feagin. Mrs. William Norred, in the absence of the president, Mrs. J.A. Thompson, called the roll. Miss Mable Watts told the story of the hymn selected for the month.

Roll call was answered by members telling of their vacation plans with their families. Three visitors were welcomed to the club.

The “Woman of the Year” was voted on by members. The score card for the afternoon was 400 points.

A demonstration on “Repairing Innerspring Cushions” was given by Miss Margaret Whatley. After the demonstration the hostess served Coca Colas, cookies and peanuts.

Mrs. J.B. Norred was selected for the club’s woman of the year.

2 August 1962  

Wilcox Progressive Era – Kay Ellen Ivey at ‘Girls’ Nation’ 

Miss Kay Ellen Ivey of Camden and Miss Diane Waite of Centre, left Montgomery early Saturday morning for a week in Washington, D.C. representing Alabama at “Girls’ Nation” sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Kay Ellen, who will be a senior at Wilcox County High School this fall, represented the local school at Girls’ State at Huntington College in June where she was elected Lt. Governor, and also selected as one of the two girls to represent Alabama at Girls’ Nation.

While attending the session in the nation’s capital the girls will visit many points of interest as well as learn about national government along with girls from every state in the union.

Kay was selected by the faculty of Wilcox County High School to be the representative at Girls’ State and she was sponsored by Irby Savage – Sam McNeill Unit 84 of the American Legion Auxiliary. ☼

MEMBERSHIP

Please encourage others to become a member of the Wilcox Historical Society! Annual dues are $30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 for single. A membership form is available on our website: WilcoxHistoricalSociety.org. Or if you prefer, please mail dues to: P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 and be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks! ☼

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2021Lance Britt, President, Garland Cook Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson, Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary, Mary Margaret Fife Kyser, Treasurer, LaJunta “Pie” Selsor Malone, Curator and Martha Grimes Lampkin, Editor and Social Media Manager. ☼

Concerts at the Wilcox Female Institute!

We are pleased to offer two concerts at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden on Friday, September 10th and Saturday, September 11th at 7PM featuring French Impressions music of Debussy, Saint Saens and more! Musicians Mary Grace Bender, cello; Madeline Cawley, flute; and Hannah Johnson, harp, as presented by Harvest Arts!

Purchase your ticket for Friday night: here or Saturday night: here.

We look forward to seeing you!

General Info for the 2021 Tour of Homes

TOUR OF HOMES GENERAL INFORMATION:
Our Tour includes seven homes, two churches, and several sites downtown.
Everyone must bring their ticket to registration either Friday afternoon or Saturday to the Wilcox
Female Institute, our tour headquarters, 301 Broad Street, Camden, AL.
REGISTRATION HOURS:
Friday, March 26th – 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Saturday, March 27th – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
• When you register you will exchange your ticket for an arm band that will get you into the
Welcome Reception and Tour of Homes. The Benefit Ball requires a separate ticket.
• We will you provide you with our 2021 Tour Brochure and Map at registration.
We will hold all events rain or shine. However, in the event of rain or saturated ground, we will
require you to either remove your shoes or wear shoe covers while in our Tour Homes. Each home will
have shoe covers available for your use.
The Tour of Homes Saturday, March 27th, hours are 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
We will be following a number of safety protocols this year. At registration everyone will have their
temperature taken before receiving their arm band. If someone has a temperature they will receive a
full refund and will not be allowed entry. Masks must be worn properly inside at all times. Sanitation
stations will be set-up at each home with hand sanitizer, extra masks, etc.
Entry into the homes will be limited to small groups. Where possible there will be one entrance and one
exit. The Reception at RiverBend and Breakfast at the Brittany House are outdoor events (under tents),
but proper table spacing and food distribution protocols will be used. By taking these extra measures
we are doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
There is no parking at RiverBend on Friday night. You must park in downtown Camden and ride
one of our courtesy shuttle buses to and from the Reception. They will run from 5:15 pm – 9:00 pm
except during Mr. Farmer’s talk at 7:00 pm.
RiverBend and Wakefield are not open for tours on Saturday. You can only see them by attending the
Welcome Reception or the Ball.
You do not have to register at the Female Institute to attend the Breakfast at The Brittany House
Antiques in Oak Hill. Simply show your ticket or Eventbrite printout for admission.
BREAKFAST, SATURDAY MORNING 3/27
The complimentary breakfast at Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill (5921 AL Highway 21, Oak Hill,
Alabama – 15 miles from Camden) is Saturday morning from 8:30 am – 10:00 am. Please use proper
social distancing throughout the morning. This is a self-serve breakfast. There will be tables and
chairs for your use and you will be provided individual utensils to pick-up your food. The menu
includes: Homemade biscuits, ham, fresh fruit, breakfast pastries, coffee, and orange juice.
Here is the complete Tour of Homes Weekend Schedule:
Friday, March 26
4:30 pm – Registration opens at the Female Institute, 301 Broad Street, Camden, AL
5:15 pm – Shuttle Buses start running. There is no parking at RiverBend.
6:00 pm – Cocktail Party Begins at RiverBend
7:00 pm – James Farmer’s talk begins
9:00 pm – Last shuttle returns to Camden
Saturday, March 27
8:30 am – 10:00 am – Breakfast at The Brittany House – 5931 AL Hwy 21, Oak Hill, AL
9:00 am – Registration opens at the Female Institute – 301 Broad Street, Camden, AL
10:00 am – 5:00 pm – The 2021 Tour of Homes
7:30 pm – The Inaugural Pilgrimage Benefit Ball at Wakefield begins
Lunch locations Saturday, Saturday, 3/27 – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
The Pecan on Broad – 110 Broad Street – Stand alone restaurant and gift shop, large menu
Masonic Lodge – 201 Broad Street -The Masons will be offering a Bar-B-Que lunch on the grounds of
their historic building.
Wilcox Female Institute – 301 Broad Street – Blue Spoon Catering is offering a sit-down lunch inside
the historic building. They will be offering Chicken Salad or Pimento Cheese Sandwiches and sides.
Gaines Ridge Supper Club – 933 AL Hwy 10 – Historic Gaines Ridge will be offering lunch from 11am
– 2pm. Dinner service will start at 4 pm. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED.

GET TICKETS TO THE TOUR!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wilcox-historical-society-pilgrimage-tickets-88612435179

GET TICKETS TO THE BALL!
There are a limited number of tickets remaining to this year’s Benefit Ball at Wakefield, Circa 1847. It
is the only opportunity to see this beautiful home during the weekend. To get tickets to go:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/89193884309

We would like to thank our Platinum Sponsors for their generous support!
The Pecan on Broad
Global Medical Products
UB Community Development, a community development partner with United Bank
Bailey Dunagan Properties & Investments
We look forward to seeing all of you this weekend!

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2021

See you at Tour!

The Tour of Homes is on! After discussion with our homeowners, medical professionals, and the Board of the WHS, we have decided to move ahead with the Tour March 26-27. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to hosting a beautiful and safe event.

First, I cannot thank our homeowners enough for their flexibility, patience, and understanding as we were forced to postpone twice. Opening your home to the public is a challenge and you work very hard to ensure everything is just right for your guests.

Having to gear up not once, not twice, but three times is going above and beyond to say the
least. If it weren’t for our generous homeowners, we would not be able to host this special
event.

Everyone should know this year’s event will be different in that we will be following a number
of safety protocols. Every person will have their temperature checked at the Tour Headquarters
– the Wilcox Female Institute, upon arrival before receiving their arm band. If someone has a
fever, they will receive a full refund and will not be allowed entry. Masks will be required to be
worn properly inside at all times and sanitation stations will be set-up at every venue with hand
sanitizer, extra masks, etc. Entry into our homes will be limited to small groups and where
possible there will be one entrance and one exit. Even though our reception at RiverBend and
breakfast at The Brittany House are outdoor events, proper table spacing and food distribution
protocols will be used. By taking these extra measures we are doing all we can to ensure the
health and safety of everyone.

We need your help! Due to our additional safety protocols, we need volunteers to work shifts
at our homes throughout the day to man our sanitation stations and help our homeowners
with crowd control as there will be wait times to get into each home. We will have two, three
hour shifts at each location: 10AM – 1PM and 1PM to 4PM. If you are willing to volunteer,
please email me at thebrittanyhouse@yahoo.com or call 256.975.7616 and let me know which
shift you can work. As hard as our homeowners work to get their homes ready, the least we can
do is provide them some additional help that day.

In other news, the new WHS Board had its first meeting, Saturday evening, February 20, at
Garland’s house. We had a fantastic meeting that included Tour preparation, an update on the
ongoing restoration of the Miller Law Office, and a discussion about our five-year plan for
complete restoration of the Wilcox Female Institute. The Board is excited about our potential
and look forward to using the income from our Tours to preserve and improve the Female
Institute as well as our other historic properties.

One of the ideas that came out of our board meeting is the need for a Camden Clean-Up Day,
Saturday, March 20. We will meet at The Pecan on Broad at 8AM and will spend the morning
picking up trash in town. Mary Margaret Kyser and Betty Anderson have agreed to co-chair this
important event. Please volunteer to work by contacting Mary Margaret at
m2kyser54@aol.com. I will see you there!

Finally, it is an honor to be working this year as President of the Wilcox Historical Society. I am
looking forward to working with the Board to not only host a safe and successful Tour, but on a
number of new projects as well. This organization has a rich history due to the hard work and
dedication of those that came before us. They provided a foundation on which we can build a
bright future for both our organization and our entire County. By working together, we can and
will make a difference in this community and will continue to share its history with the
hundreds of visitors that come to our events each year. See you at Tour!

Lance Britt, Tour Director and WHS President ☼


Welcome to new members Melanie Dees Andress of Monroeville, Alabama, Prince
Arnold of Oak Hill, Alabama, Gloria and William Bethea of Charlotte, North Carolina and to new
Life Member – Noma Bruton of Ranch Mirage, California! Thank you for joining the WHS. ☼


Tour of Homes – March 26-27, 2021!


Join us Saturday, March 27th, as we open six historic homes, two local churches and other historic buildings in and around Camden. If you had already purchased a ticket last year to the Tour it will be honored in 2021. Your ticket includes the Welcome Reception on Friday, March 26th at RiverBend Plantation.
James Farmer will be the Guest Speaker at RiverBend Plantation on Friday night, March 26. Guests will park at the Wilcox Female Institute and ride buses to RiverBend with the reception starting at 6PM. Refreshments will be served. Music will be provided by The Ruby Reds jazz band.

The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill will provide all ticket holders breakfast Saturday
morning starting at 8:30AM.

The Inaugural Pilgrimage Ball, sponsored by the Furman Historical Society, will be held at
Wakefield in Furman on Saturday night, March 27 from 7:30PM to 10PM. Guests are welcome
to wear period civilian dress or formal attire. It will be a magical evening of great music and
dancing in one of Alabama’s finest homes. The full house will be open to tour during the
evening. All proceeds from the Ball will go to save two historic structures in Furman. Tickets are
$75 to the ball and are separate from the Tour and can be purchased online at Eventbrite.com.
The link to Ball tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/89193884309 .


The Tour of Homes begins Saturday morning, March 27th at 10AM and ends at 5PM. Historic
homes on the Tour are: Yaupon – the Mathews-Tait-Rutherford House, circa 1840, River Bluff –
the Beck-Bryant-Talbot House, circa 1840s, the Beck-Darwin-Coats House, circa 1846, the
Strother-Gibbs House, circa 1900, Pleasant Ridge – the Bethea-Strother-Myers House, circa
1844 and Liberty Hall, circa 1850 – the McDowell-Harris home (hall and formal rooms only).
The Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Antioch Baptist Church in
Camden will also be open for the Tour.

Other historic sites on tour are the Old Shoe Shop Museum, the Beck-Miller Law Office, circa
1840s and the Old Wilcox County Jail, constructed 1889, as well as the Tour and WHS
headquarters, the Wilcox Female Institute, constructed in 1849, and Dale Lodge No. 25,
constructed in 1848.


Tickets for the Tour of Homes may be purchased online at Eventbrite.com (the link is
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/88612435179 ) or locally at The Pecan on Broad and Black Belt
Treasures in Camden or The Brittany House of Antiques in Oak Hill. WHS members receive $10
off the regular ticket price of $40. Tickets will be sold the weekend of the Tour at tour
headquarters – the Wilcox Female Institute, located at 301 Broad Street in Camden. Tour
brochure and map will be available upon check-in. Everyone must bring their ticket or
Eventbrite.com receipt to the WFI upon arrival to receive their 2021 wristband that allows
entry into all Tour events. ☼


Member Spotlight – Greg Swanner
I want to say first and foremost, that I am extremely proud of my Wilcox County heritage.
I am the Senior Failure Analysis Technician in Division Quality at Rheem Manufacturing
Company, in Montgomery. I have been at Rheem almost 31 years. I am also a United Methodist
pastor serving Pleasant Valley UMC in Jones, Ala., and First UMC in Plantersville, Ala. I became a
supply pastor in 2013 and licensed as a local pastor in 2014. I am married to my wife Felicia,
and have three kids: Sarah, Tate and Leah, and a step-daughter, Rachel. We currently live in the
Billingsley area of Autauga County, but hope to move to our property in Wilcox County sooner
rather than later. Even though I grew up in Clanton, Chilton County, I spent many days in Wilcox
County as a youngster with my parents and grandparents. Those are some great memories.

My 5th great grandfather is Owen Dailey, a Revolutionary War soldier who settled in the
Chestnut community of Monroe County in the early 1800’s. My lineage from him is David
Dailey, Hugh, Dailey, John William Dailey, James Franklin Dailey, Ervin Delmo Dailey, and then
my mom, Sarah Faye Dailey, who married Thomas Swanner. All of the Daileys after Owen lived
in the Fatama community of Wilcox and were all part of Enon Baptist Church. My granddad,
Ervin Delmo Dailey, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps after he graduated from Moore
Academy in Pine Apple, in 1936, and was sent to Clanton. There he met his future wife, Dorothy
Faye Carter. They were married and moved to Camden. After Ervin’s stint in the Navy during
WWII, they moved to Clanton where they remained, but Camden was always ‘home’ to him.
The old home place in which he was born is still there, as well as the old John William Dailey
dogtrot home built about 1910, near Dailey’s Well.

My Wilcox lineage also contains the Griffis family, as Hugh Dailey (my GGG Grandfather)
married Sarah Griffis. Their son, John William Dailey, brings the Bursons into the mix as he
married Francis Arilla Burson, a daughter of Bartlett Burson and Ellender Watson. Bartlett died
in 1864 in Dalton, GA., while serving with the Confederate troops as a Pvt., in Co. A, 23rd Ala.
Inf. Bartlett was a son of Solomon Burson, who was a son of Joseph Burson.

James Franklin Dailey, my great grandfather, married Annie Matt Tait. She was a daughter of
Thomas James Buchanan ‘Buck’ Tait. Buck was a son of Thomas Godfrey Tate (D: 1861) and
Matilda Ann Ray (daughter of Hall Ray and Salina Wilkinson – Salina being the daughter of John
Wilkinson, a revolutionary war soldier in Wilcox County). Yes, the Tate spellings changed. Even
after Buck went with Tait, two of his twelve children used Tate. Buck Tait’s wife was Kate Ellen
Stewart, daughter of William Norris Stewart, a native of Abbeville Dist., S.C. William was the son
of Isaac and Jane Norris Stewart. Isaac is buried in the old Hamburg Cemetery outside of Oak
Hill. His wife, Jane, moved on to Cotton Plant, Miss., with some members of the family. William
was a Pvt., in Co. F, 53rd Ala. Cav. Regt. William married Martha Jane McBride, daughter of
Thomas McBride. The McBrides were another early Wilcox family from Abbeville Dist., S.C.
William Norris Stewart and Buck Tait lived in the Stewartville community (named after William
Norris Stewart and the family who lived in the area) near the crossroads of what is now
Clarence Dailey Road and County Road 16, in between the Dailey community and Neenah. I
currently own the property at the crossroads, which has been passed down from James Franklin
Dailey to Ervin Delmo Dailey to Sarah Faye Dailey, to me, and whenever we come down to the
property, it’s special and it means something.

I look back on the many times I would be with my granddad, Ervin Delmo Dailey, driving around
the Fatama and Stewartville area, and he would show me where cousin so and so lived, or
where they used to keep the cattle or plant a certain crop, or point to the places where a mill
used to be, etc. I am glad I remember a lot of the things he showed me and told me, but I often regret not learning more when I had the chance. Once our elders are gone, the information that
could have been shared with another generation is gone as well. Due to the realization of that
fact, I have started compiling information, biographies, military info, pictures, etc., of all of the
families mentioned – direct lineage as well as collateral. If anyone has anything on those
families, please let me know!!!! My email is tgswanner1@aol.com. ☼


WHS November Meeting in McWilliams
Philip Winters, along with sons Mal and Parker, gave the program for the
November 8th meeting of the WHS. Philip told the interesting history of the
Winters Excelsior Mill, founded 105 years ago by his grandfather, John Albert
Winters. He also had a collection of photographs from the Mill and a large display of products
the Mill produces. A capacity crowd of members and guests filled the McWilliams Methodist
Church for the Sunday afternoon program. Beth Jones Yoder entertained the group in the yard
of her McWilliams home following the meeting. Those in attendance were also invited to tour
the nearby mill. ☼


Wilcox Female Institute and Miller Law Office Repairs
from Chris Bailey, Chairman of the Planning and Fundraising Committee
Wilcox Female Institute
We have met with architect Richard “Dick” Hudgens from Selma. His firm has specialized in
historic renovation and restoration projects throughout Alabama and Mississippi and has
worked with the Alabama Historical Commission for over thirty years. Using the original
restoration plans from the 1970s from architect Joe Grant, we have suggested work to be done
in three phases: Phase 1 – Add a portion of the original back “dorm” wing on the Institute to
house restrooms on both floors and an elevator. Phase 2 – Restore upstairs. Complete the large
open area (to the right of the stairs) to be used as a gallery and venue area. Use the area to the
left of the stairs as a Genealogy Library and WHS office space. Phase 3 – Add the remainder of
the “dorm” wing at the rear of the building to be used as a caterer’s kitchen, reception and
concert hall and storage. The new addition will look period on the exterior but have modern
conveniences on the interior. These three phases would comprise our five-year plan.
Miller Law Office
The plaster walls of the interior of the office have been repaired and painted and the windows
are being glazed. One window will be replaced. The porch decks, stairs and ramp need to be
replaced. We would like to recommend a period-authentic PVC tongue and groove product
named Aeratis. This product is approved for historic renovations and can be purchased in a
traditional battleship gray color which will not require painting. The cost will be $2.57 per linear
foot.
The porch railing baluster and hand rails need to be repaired or replaced. We will also obtain an estimate of having a dehumidifier installed underneath the building to help with climate control inside.
All of the photographs, portraits and other memorabilia previously displayed in the law office
will be scanned for a digital copy and custom framed using archival quality mat boards and UV
blocking glass. The large portrait of Governor Miller is currently being restored. ☼


Memorials
Member, Alonzo Heath Purser, passed away on 25 November 2020. He is survived by his wife
of almost fifty-seven years, Robbie Frye Cook Purser of Sunny South, Alabama and daughter,
Dorothy Cook Purser Kramer (Jonathan MacDonald) and grandson, Heath MacDonald Kramer of
Crestview, Florida.
Alonzo was born 28 February 1933 in Linden, Alabama to John Bochee Purser and Annie Judson
Westbook Purser.
He retired from the State of Alabama Department of Youth Services where he was Plant
Maintenance Supervisor. As a youngster he enjoyed Boy Scouts and later served as Assistant
Scout Master in his home town. He was a member of the Oak Hill Saturday Night Supper Club,
the Lions Club, Alabama Treasurer Forest, Wilcox County Landowners, and Sunny South United.
He was active with the Alabama Treasurer Forest “Classroom in the Forest” program for many
years.
Grover Alva “Al” Gibbs Jr., husband of member Billie Strother Gibbs of Canton Bend, Alabama,
passed away 21 January 2021. He is survived by his wife, Billie, and their children, Sara Kate
Shorter (Peasley) of Americus, Georgia, Strother Gibbs (Patty) of Camden, Al Gibbs III (Hallie) of
Mountain Brook, Alabama and Ashley Herbert (Chris).
Al was born 7 October 1943 to Grover Alva Gibbs Sr. and Billie S. Gibbs of Troy, Alabama.
He served as a volunteer coach for many years at Wilcox Academy coaching both men’s and
women’s sports. ☼


Inquiries and Comments
We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page, Instagram
page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries, please let us know
and we will be happy to pass it along or put you in contact with the interested party. Our email
address is wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or you can text or call Martha Lampkin at
334.296.1076. We also love receiving comments on our posts on social media. The more
comments, likes and shares also help our posts be viewed by more people. Here are a few
inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

Does the historical society have any information, especially photographs of a community store owned by a member of the Waid/Wade family in Awin? I’ve been told that the store building is still standing and possibly has been preserved. The store that I’m researching (or at least I think this is it) appears in the 1930 census as “Fancy Grocery” owned by Anderson P Wade with an address of Branton No. 10. The dates are a little odd so I’m not completely confident, but I’d appreciate hearing from anyone who might have more information. S Beasley, Milton, FL


I’m researching a family that has roots in Wilcox County and was wondering if you might provide some insight into how I could go about getting some records or searching for some records (mainly wills) since I’m located in Texas. I’m looking for information on the Hanks family –Sophia Ellen Hanks, Ray family – James M. Ray, from around 1840-1860. They married in Wilcox County in 1843 and then made their way to Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. I can be contacted at Lil.katiedan@gmail.com. K. Ellis, TX


I am searching for historic information on everyday life in Lower Peach Tree and Bells Landing, Alabama 1820-1940. I am seeking copies of historic photos, maps, directories, biographies, local history and/or obituaries. In addition to this general information, I am researching Lower Peach Tree family names of Culpepper, Dortch, Purnell, McDuffie, Davis, McCaskill and Clark/Clarke. I am also seeking general historic information on Bells Landing and local families of Clark/Clarke, Jones, Odom and Dukes during the same time period. I would be interested in talking with anyone with knowledge of this place and time of families listed. I am happy to share my research with family members. Many thanks. SeattleBrigman@gmail.com B. Brigman, Seattle, WA


I have just begun working on my Starr family history and found a website showing several transcript contributions from Ouida Starr Woodson. I was very sorry to learn she passed away in November of 2019. I saw she was a founding member of your organization and thought it was possible she donated her family history papers to the Wilcox Historical Society. Does your organization have those papers or know who currently has the papers? Thank you for your help. A. Moyer, GA
Editor’s note: WHS Member, Mary Lois Woodson, was put into contact with Moyer.

I am looking for information on Richard Fowler born 1792 in SC and married to Elizabeth. I do not know her last name, and that information would be helpful. His daughter is my direct line, Samantha Fowler who married Noah L. Scarborough and they later moved to Union Parish, LA. in the 1850s or 1860s. Richard’s siblings lived in Pike, Wilcox and Montgomery Counties, AL in the years 1830-1860. I have land records from Richard Fowler that indicated he lived in Wilcox and Dallas Counties, AL in the years 1820 to 1855. He and wife deeded 38 acres for use of the male academy in Wilcox County. Do you have any history on this school? M Gerloff, Mansfield, TX


I’m researching some ancestors from Wilcox County, with the surname Voltz from the 1830s to the 1860s. Is there anyone there that might be able to help? If so, the ancestors are: Charles Voltz 1802-1853 and Robert Voltz 1838- I have the records that are commonly found online, like census records and such, including the will for Charles from 1853, which lists 9 children. I can’t find Charles’ wife, the mother of the children, but this is where it gets complicated. I suspect there were two wives. The one listed on the 1830 census was 30-39 years old in 1830, but the one listed on the 1840 census was 20-29 in 1840! Unless we can find some mention of a death or marriage, we will never know which wife the children born in the 1830s belong to. So far, I haven’t been able to find any records of a birth or marriage in Germany nor an immigration record. Can you help me? I would really appreciate it. OurPeople@mail.com M. White, Pensacola, FL


I am interested in obtaining information regarding Childers Plantation – owned by Roy Childers, Jr. in Catherine (Prairie Bluff), AL. My family is African-American. My 3rd great-grandmother/grandfather – James and Ida Mendenhall, sharecropped/lived on this land. I have them listed at this location on the 1910 and 1930 census. I am told there was a church across the road from the main house, St. Michael. My 2nd great-grandmother is buried there, yet I cannot find any information. Any suggestions on where to begin my search would be greatly appreciated. My mother remembers taking the train from Mobile to Catherine. They would be taken to the house by the mailman. My mom was baptized in a creek near this church. She thinks if there is a record somewhere her name would appear. Regarding my maternal side, surnames include: Bennett, Bailey, Mendenhall, George. K, Nall, Meridianville, AL


My great-great grandfather was Samuel James Cumming. He was a judge in Wilcox County during the 1800s. I have no idea where he lived. I am assuming he had a residence in Wilcox County. If so, I was wondering if the home might still be standing or possibly the home(s) of some of his children? I would love any information you might have on him and his family. I am a descendant of his daughter, Susan Cumming, who married John Polk Watkins of Burnt Corn, Alabama. M. Lang, Tuscaloosa, AL


I have been researching my ancestry for almost 5 years. I have hit a roadblock and am looking for more information if you can assist. The following information is what I have to date: My maternal great grandfather is Autie Hines (1906-1976). He was born in Pine Apple, AL. My maternal great grandmother is Minnie Bell Palmore-Hines (1908- 1987). She was born in Pine Apple, AL. The parents of Autie Hines appear to be Harrison Hines (1886-1970?) and Jane Durant (1875-1950?). The information I am seeking are any records for the Hines and Palmore families to include birth records, death records, property records, family pictures and/or slave owner information to include wills, slave records, etc. I would like to visit Pine Apple within the next 60 days and need the information for my visit and research. If it is possible to find any slave owner information on the Hines’ and Palmore’s that would be great. My interest is knowing where I came from and to visit the property my ancestors once lived on. T. Glenn, Concorde, NC


I am looking for any information about John Bateman who appears in the 1860 Federal census in East Division, Wilcox County, Alabama (Post office: Rehoboth). He is living in the home of John Celery (Jno. Celery in the census) and he is listed as a teacher, age 35, born in Ireland. If he was a teacher, would there be any employment records in the state archives related to his employment? John Bateman joined Capt. Jenkins’ company, Mounted rifles, Alabama Volunteers (later Co. D, 3rd Regiment, Alabama Cavalry) on about April 1861 and died in 1873 in Montgomery, AL, where he was again working as a teacher. T. Edwards, Kelowna, BC Canada


Hello, I am looking for information on my ancestors who lived in the area around the turn of the century. The family name is Evitt. Can you please direct me to sources that may be helpful in my search? J. Hewitt, GA
I’m seeking more information on my third great-grandparents, John Davis and Maryann Jones Davis. They came from Georgia in the early 1800s and settled in Portland, where they farmed along the Alabama River. Their son, Moses Davis, my second great-grandfather, was born in Georgia on 9 May 1808. Moses married Margaret Dear on 12 August 1832, in Wilcox County. She was born 29 January 1815, to Bradley Dear and Catherine Patrick, and died 7 September 1844, her burial place unknown. Moses died 23 May 1866, and is buried in Coldspring, Texas. John and Maryann both died in Portland, his death before October 1840. Most likely they were buried on their land. Their property, however, was flooded over when the state dammed the river and changed its course. I’ve been to Portland (today a ghost town) and saw where their farm would have been. Any information about John and Maryann (as well as Portland) would be most appreciated. Thank you. B. Dillard, Fort Worth, TX


Hi, I’m looking for information on Elijah Thompson born about 1836 in Wilcox County. Family history says his
father was a Thompson kin to the Tait family and his mother was Rachel Hill. I am seeking to find more information. He was my 3rd great grandfather. M. Young Jackson, Pensacola, FL

I would like to get in touch with any members of the following families: McDaniel, Cross, Spiva; from Wilcox
County. I have some very old pictures of these families. P. Greer peggysgreer@comcast.net


The recent newsletter was excellent! The inclusion of queries from genealogists is helpful for any researcher in search of their roots. I have for many years (since 1976) been interested in the Hawthorns/Hawthornes who first came to Conecuh County in Alabama in 1817. Joshua and Sarah (Regan) Hawthorn were charter members of the Murder Creek (later Bellville) Baptist Church constituted by Rev. Alexander Travis and David Wood on the 28th day of October 1818. Joshua Jr. Hawthorn m. Nancy King (d/o John & Elizabeth (Coleman) King). Joshua & Nancy had 10 children. Nancy died in 1846 – her tombstone reads: Nancy King, born in SC, died 1846, age 37 years 10 days. She is buried in the cemetery at Bellville Baptist Church. Nancy joined the church December 1828 and Joshua Jr. joined the church April 1829. Joshua Jr. married (unknown date) Esther Giddens, b. in 1815. They moved to Wilcox County and my research shows he is buried in Wilcox County. Findagrave and other attempts to locate the burial site for he and Esther have been futile. M. Gaston, Georgiana, AL hiramonrose@gmail.com


School added to the Alabama Register
of Landmarks and
Heritage
The WHS is pleased to contribute to the funding of an Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage marker for the Pine Apple Colored School. The school was listed on the Register in December 2019. The Pine Apple Colored School was founded by George William Watts in 1939. The school started in a classroom located in Watts Lodge No. 724 A.F. & A.M. of Alabama, Pine Apple, Alabama in the early 1930s. The lodge was located in a two-story building near where the current Pine Apple Health Center is currently located on County Road 59. We look forward to the installation of the marker in 2021. ☼


A LOOK BACK…
6 July 1883
Wilcox News and Pacificator
To the Citizens of Camden, Snow Hill and Pine apple.
The people of Allenton and Oak Hill herewith extend to you a cordial invitation to participate at
their picnic on Thursday, July 12th, on the W.W. McConnico place, 1 1/2 miles from Allenton. A
first-class band will be on the grounds that day, also a grand Base Ball game will be played by
the Allenton and Pine apple clubs. At night there will be a grand ball at the residence of Frank
Jones, near the McConnico place. Refreshments will be furnished gratis by the young men. We
assure you a pleasant time and welcome everybody to come.
Respectfully, W.W. McConnico, H.E. Voltz, J.T. Jones, H.T. Lambert – Committee of
Arrangements

5 June 1889
Wilcox Progressive Era
John K Robbins Dead – the Progress learns with regret, that this excellent citizen died at his
home near Furman last Thursday. He was about 35 years of age. Some eight or ten years ago he
married Miss Sallie McKee, of Allenton, and the disconsolate widow and several children
survive to mourn his loss. Mr. Robbins was buried by Furman Lodge K. of H. and Dowdell Lodge
LK. of P., of Pine Apple.

2 April 1890
Wilcox Progressive Era – The New Telephone Line
The work of distributing and erecting the poles for the new telephone line from Camden to
Catherine, commenced yesterday morning, and in the course of a few weeks, the new
telephone line will be completed. The chestnut poles, three hundred in number, have been
donated to the new line by Hon’l Sol. D. Bloch, of Camden, who also was mainly instrumental in
having the present telephone line from Camden to Snow Hill, constructed in 1884.
The line will pass along the Camden and Prairie Bluff road, and an office will be opened at
Canton, another at Prairie Bluff, and a third at Catherine. At this point, connection will be made
with the Western Union Telegraph system. The citizens of Alberta and Gaston contemplate the
construction of a connecting line to Catherine. At Prairie Bluff, connection will be had with
Rehoboth, Safford, Martin’s Station, and other points along the present line from Selma to
Prairie Bluff. Conversations can then be had from Camden with any station on the connection,
as well as with Selma. The work is under the experienced direction of Mr. Bloch, and the
contract for erecting the telephone poles has been given to Mr. Ed. Welch of Camden. At Prairie
Bluff the Alabama River will be crossed either by cable, or by slicing a long pole to a tall tree,
near the river bank.
After the line is erected, we will erect a signal service station here, the Department at Auburn
having consented to furnish us with the instruments. We will then keep up with the weather.


4 September 1895
Wilcox Progressive Era
We are gratified to learn from Mr. Wm. A. George, the principal of the Wilcox Female Institute,
that the prospect of a good first-class school for young ladies is encouraging. We feel special
interest in Mr. George’s efforts to re-establish the ancient prestige of Camden as an educational
point. Camden can draw to her schools patronage from a broad and flourishing territory if
Camden will be true to her own best interests. By united effort, harmonious co operation of the
people, and by a judicious employment of her means, Camden can maintain thriving
institutions not merely for preparing the youth and young ladies of South Alabama for
matriculation in colleges for the completion of their education, but those institutions should
render the same services that are now obtained abroad at almost prohibiting expense.

19 March 1908
Wilcox Progressive Era – A Successful Camdenite Returns Home
We quote the following from the Birmingham Ledger of the 6th: “Mr. J.B. Miller, who has been
in the practice of law in Birmingham for several years, has decided to remove to Camden, his
former home, and become partner with his father, Hon. J.N. Miller. He is partly influenced by
his health in this move, as he had been unusually successful here. He is a graduate of Erskine
College, S.C., and took a course of law at the University of Virginia, and in a modest,
unassuming way has built up a lucrative clientage in Birmingham, and a host of friends who are
loath to see him leave. Wilcox County has sent out no better man than J.B. Miller. He is a close
and accurate student and devoted to his profession, and will do well wherever fortune may cast
his lot.
“Mr. Miller is a nephew of Judge J.H. Miller, another product of Wilcox soil, who has taken deep
root in the esteem and high estimation of the Birmingham bar and people.”
Camden will be glad, as well as proud, to welcome home again another of her sons who has
made a name for himself in the outer world.


19 May 1932
The Montgomery Advertiser
Camden, Ala., May 18 – (Special) – Annual commencement exercise of the Wilcox County High
School will begin Friday and continue through the following Tuesday. Friday night is Senior
Night. Sunday morning the Rev. R.C. Kennedy, of Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian
Church, will deliver the baccalaureate sermon. Sunday night the Hi-Y program. Tuesday night is
graduation night, and Judge John Miller, of Camden, will be the speaker.
The class is composed of nine members: Bess Jones, valedictorian; Mary Sue Powell,
salutatorian; Inez Wilkerson, Edna Stewart, Mabel Felts, J.W. Curry, Heustis Cook, Margaret
Strother and Elizabeth Duke.


31 July 1947
Wilcox Progressive Era – Vacation Bible School Antioch Baptist Church (colored)
The first Vacation Bible School to be held in the local Baptist Church (colored) will open
promptly at 8 A.M. Monday, August 4th. School will be held daily through Friday from 8 until
10:30 A.M. Classes will be provided for Beginners – 3 through 5 years; Primaries – 6, 7, 8, years;
Juniors – 9, 12 years; Intermediates 13 on up. The Women’s Missionary Society of the Camden
Baptist Church (white) is sponsoring this school and will assist with refreshments each day.
Principal – Elizabeth Shelton; Beginners – Katie Jackson; Primaries – Dannie Mae
Weatherspoon; Juniors – Leola Petway; Intermediates – Elizabeth Creighton; Secretary – Addie
Bell Peavy. Every colored child in the community is invited to attend. ☼

Please encourage others to become a member of the Wilcox Historical Society! Annual dues are
$30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 for single. A
membership form is available on our website: WilcoxHistoricalSociety.org. Or if you prefer,
please mail dues to: P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 and be sure to include your name, mailing
address, email address and phone number. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions?
Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks!


Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2021 –Lance Britt, President, Garland Cook
Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson, Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary, Mary Margaret
Fife Kyser, Treasurer, LaJunta “Pie” Selsor Malone, Curator and Martha Grimes Lampkin,
Editor and Social Media Manager. ☼