Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2002

Joseph M. Wilcox Historical Marker Dedication 

The dedication of the historical marker honoring Lieutenant Joseph Morgan Wilcox was originally scheduled for January 20, 2002, but due to some text problems with the marker, the dedication was delayed until April 7, 2002. This project is the culmination of a joint effort of the Wilcox Historical Society and the local Lt. Joseph M. Wilcox Chapter of the Alabama Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Extensive research by Slaton Crawford and his committee resulted in the text contained on the marker.

The dedication and marker unveiling ceremony will be held at the Wilcox Female Institute at 2:30 P.M. on Sunday, April 7. All Wilcox Historical Society members and friends are urged to attend.

Wilcox True Blues Flag Project

The “Wilcox True Blues” was the first company formed in this part of Alabama in early 1861, and was comprised of young men from east Wilcox County and the Camden area. The ladies of the families of these volunteers decided to present the company with a suitable flag, and while the company was being organized, the women began to make the flag. Since the stores in Camden had no suitable material, Miss Adele Robbins of Canton Bend presented the ladies with a blue silk dress to be used for the flag. Mr. Samuel Tepper volunteered to paint the inscription on the banner which consisted of the words “Wilcox True Blues” on one side, and on the other side was depicted a steamboat, cotton boll, and a coiled rattlesnake. Mrs. Ella Thompson presented the flag to the company which the Honorable S.C. Cook accepted on its behalf. The company departed Wilcox County in February 1861.

As most of you know, this flag was captured by Union troops and was thought to have been destroyed in a fire until discovered in a military museum in Michigan. Through the efforts of Richard Ervin McWilliams, the flag was returned to Alabama and now is in controlled storage at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. We have received a proposal to repair the flag, and have established a flag fund at Town and Country Bank. To-date, we have approximately $6,000 in this fund, and need to raise nearly $5,000 more to match the funds to be provided by the Archives Department. They are holding funds in reserve for our project until July 1, but it is imperative that we provide the matching funds by this dateWe will have a special fund-raiser party in May as noted below. Meanwhile, if you would care to contribute to this project, please send your tax deductible contribution to our Society*s address – P.O. Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. Please see the form included herein for details.

Dry Fork Plantation Party

There will be a very special party at Dry Fork Plantation on Saturday, May 18. Gail and James Edwin Tait will host the event at their beautiful home located in the Sedan area of south Wilcox County. The “southern picnic” party will start at 5:00 P.M. and food and refreshments will be catered by Gaines Ridge Dinner Club. Sister Curry has agreed to chair this event. Additional details on the party and a history of “Dry Fork” will be forthcoming, and you can contact Sister at 334-682-9440 for more information.

As noted above, this party will be used as the fund-raiser for the “True Blues” project. All money over and above the cost of the event will go to the flag fund. There is a limited number of reservations, so please go ahead and make yours by sending in the attached coupon.

Dunn-Fairley-Bonner Project

As noted in a previous newsletter, we received a planning grant relating to the preservation of the home in the amount of $5,000 on August 2, 2001. We applied for a $25,000 restoration grant on November 1, 2001 and were notified on February15, 2002 that we did not receive the grant this year. We will reapply, but are currently pursuing other funding sources. Meanwhile, stabilization of the home per U.S. Department of Interior Guidelines was completed in mid-December 2001, and the archeological study at the site has been performed by the University of South Alabama. We are proceeding with the completion of the preservation plans and guidelines so that work can start soon after receiving funding. We have also had inquiries about the possible purchase and/or lease of this historic home. Our deed provides for these possibilities as long as the specific preservation guidelines are adhered to. We are also pursuing a preservation easement that would further assure that future restoration is performed per historical guidelines. Please be assured that we are making every effort to complete this restoration and use the facility as a museum or some other compatible use.

The Wilcox Historical Society was founded in the late 1960’s, with the initial goal to save and restore the Wilcox Female Institute. Our goal as a society continues to be to preserve the history of this region and to act in some regard as a clearing house and reference source to people searching for genealogical information. Our local Wilcox County Public Library is the best source of genealogical information and features one of the best genealogical rooms to be found anywhere. The library staff can be reached at 334-682-4355, 100 Broad Street, Camden, AL 36726, e-mail at wcl@pinebeltnet.net. The Historical Society may be contacted at P.O. Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. You can also e-mail us at grsouth@frontiernet.net or call 334-682-9825 for information. Our web site link is www.wilcoxwebworks.com/history. The cost to join the society is $10 per person, or $15 per couple annually. Please join with us! Payment of dues is due by September 1 of each year. Alyce Yarbrough is our membership chairman, and is keeping up with the active membership list. Please use the following coupon to make your payment and update any data that needs changing.

The Wilcox Historical Society officers elected at the January 20, 2002 meeting who will serve thru December, are:

Don Donald, President

Garland Cook Smith, V.P./Program Chairperson

Secretary: Lindsay Johnson

Treasurer: Mary Charles Donald

Membership Chairperson: Alyce Yarbrough

Curator: Ernestine Dunnam

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