Furman Spring Pilgrimage – April 12, 2003

Wakefield in Furman

The Furman Civic Club is sponsoring a one day event on Saturday, April 12, 2003 in which historical homes, churches, and sites in the Furman area will be open for tour. The tour will start at 9:00 AM and conclude at 6:00 PM. Tour headquarters will be the Furman Community Center (old school) located on Highway 59. The price will be $10 for adults and $5 for students, and lunch will be available at the school. Funds raised from the event will be used to maintain the Community Center and fund National Historic District signs to be placed on Highway 21.

Homes scheduled to be on tour include “Wakefield”, the classic steamboat gothic house featured in Silent in the Land, Patience Plantation, the Purifoy/Lipscomb home featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Thirteen Ghosts and Jeffrey, “Fox Hill”, recently restored by Don and Katrina Bell, the Stabler Home, the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, and several other homes not previously on tour. In addition, Bethsaida Baptist Church, Furman Methodist Church, Palmer Cemetery, Old Snow Hill Cemetery, and Snow Hill Cemetery will be available for tour.

Furman was designated a National Historic District in 1999 and has many antebellum homes and structures still standing. The town has a fascinating history beginning circa 1802 when the first settlers came to the area from South Carolina. Most of the Wilcox County towns were settled by Scotch and English settlers, and Furman also to some degree. However, many of the early settlers of Furman came from the South Carolina low country and were of French ancestry. The Snow family settled on the high hill now the site of Old Snow Hill Cemetery around this date, and thus the present day Furman community was known as Snow Hill. It was renamed Furman at a later date, and a new community was founded a few miles to the west – Snow Hill. Furman Academy was a popular school in the late 1800’s and is the predecessor of present day Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Some fascinating persons came from this small town, including Elkanah Burson, an attache’ to General Robert E. Lee. Mr. Burson, a original member of the Wilcox True Blues company and later to serve in the Alabama House of Representatives, delivered the Confederacy surrender papers to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox. He then returned home to Furman. (His great granddaughter is now the owner of Wakefield.) Some direct descendants of these original settlers still own homes and property in Furman, and will be hosts at the pilgrimage.

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