Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Winter 2005

Winter Meeting to Feature Program by Ed Patillo

The next meeting of the Wilcox Historical Society will be held Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 2:00 P.M. at “Dry Fork”, the home of Gail and James Edwin Tait.  Should  you need directions, please call 334-682-9825.

A program on the “Spencer Family Letters” will be presented by Montgomery resident Ed Patillo.  Mr. Patillo is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Columbia University , and is a noted historian.  He has authored articles on the Spencer family and will speak on this topic.  In addition, Bob Gamble, Alabama Historical Commission historian, and Dana Sadler, current owner of the property, will add some interesting notes.  After the meeting, we will caravan to the Spencer home.

Dry Fork has been featured in recent Pilgrimages and  and the Taits have hosted many other community, club, and historical events.  In case you are not familiar with the history of this beautiful home, a short synopsis is presented as follows:

Dry Fork was approved for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 and was placed on the registry in 1999.  It is one of the oldest documented homes still standing in Wilcox County and is a fine example of late Federal style double–pile house form containing examples of folk versions of Federal style woodwork.  It was constructed for James Asbury Tait during the years of 1832-1834 by carpenter/joiners Hezekiah and Elijah.  Restoration of the home began in 1998. James Asbury Tait was born in 1791, the only child of Charles and Ann Lucas Tait to survive infancy. He grew up on his grandfather’s plantation in the Broad River country near Savannah , Georgia .

The floor plan specified that the house should have eight rooms with four on each floor.  There are two porches on the front, although one appears to be a later addition since James Asbury Tait’s Memoranda does not mention it..  All rooms are 18 feet square and with 11-foot ceilings downstairs and 8 ½ foot ceilings upstairs. The original house required more than 25,000 board feet of cut lumber, and the roof was covered with 6,000 wooden shingles.  The chimneys required 12,000 bricks, made from clay on the plantation.  Gail and James Edwin (Jim) Tait, great-great grandson of the builder,  have beautifully restored the original home just described, and have constructed majestic additions to the original structure.  Appurtenances and gardens result in a one-of-a-kind property that one has to see to fully appreciate.

Please plan to attend this meeting and invite anyone you know who might be interested in this unique presentation in one of the most historic homes in Alabama .

 Wilcox True Blues Flag Project

The restoration of the Wilcox True Blues Flag is nearing completion in Maryland and the flag should be delivered to the Alabama Department of Archives and History this Spring.  We will plan to have celebration of this magnificent restoration project later this year .

Wilcox Historical Society Facts

The Wilcox Historical Society was founded in the late 1960’s with the initial goal to save and restore the Wilcox Female Institute.  The primary goal of the Society continues to be to preserve the history of this region and to act in some degree 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, or reached by e-mail at wilcoxgen@frontiernet.net, or by mail 100 Broad Street , Camden , AL 36726 .  If research is needed, they can refer you to  a local historian who can perform the research for a nominal fee. The Historical Society may be contacted at  P.O. Box 464 , Camden , AL 36726 . Our web site link may be accessed through www.wilcoxwebworks.com.

The cost to join the society is $10 per person, or $15 per couple annually.  Payment of dues is due by September 1 of each year Please plan to renew at this time so that we can keep our computer list of members current.

Officers for 2006 were elected at the October 6, 2005 meeting held in Oak Hill.  They are:

Jeannie Hollinger, President

Garland Cook Smith, V.P./Program Chairperson

Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary

Mary Charles Donald, Treasurer

Gail Tait, Curator

Don Donald, Publicity

William Malone, Web Master

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