Highlights of the Year
We began 2018 with a meeting in January at the McWilliams home in Oak Hill. Despite the icy roads and snowy weather, a large crowd was in attendance to hear Gary Burton speak on Settlers of the Old Federal Road. Thanks to hosts Cheryl and Burk McWilliams and Susan and Tennant McWilliams and to our speaker Gary Burton.
The Spring Pilgrimage of Furman, Pine Apple and Oak Hill was held in March. Visitors to the pilgrimage came from near and far!
In early April members enjoyed the Alabama Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit hosted by the Wilcox Area Chamber at the Gees Bend Ferry Terminal. Later in the month a meeting of the WHS was held at the Wilcox Female Institute. The special guest speaker was Dr. David Matthews. As one of the nation’s experts on communities, Dr. Matthews spoke about public education in general and the relationship with the community in which they are located.
October Meeting at RiverBend
The WHS met on October 18 at the home of Christopher Bailey and Ryan Dunagan. The subject of the program by Tom McGehee was The Era of Steamboats on the Alabama River. After the program the large crowd in attendance enjoyed touring the home and beautiful gardens. The home is currently undergoing extensive renovations. Thanks to hosts Chris and Ryan! New residents to Camden, Chris and Ryan are serious and committed preservationists and we are very pleased with their interest in Camden. We all enjoyed our visit to RiverBend!
AHA Fall Pilgrimage was a Big Success!
Valerie Pope Burnes, President of the Alabama Historical Association, was instrumental in bringing the AHA Fall Pilgrimage to Wilcox County in October. “Camden has always been one of my favorite towns in Alabama, so when I was asked to choose the location for our Fall 2018 pilgrimage, I knew exactly where we would be going.
Wilcox County is an architectural gem, with wonderful houses around every corner. The Wilcox County link to Charles Tait provided a strong bicentennial connection for the fall meeting before the 200th anniversary of Alabama’s statehood in 2019.
We would like to thank all of the great people and organizations that came together to roll out the red carpet for us. We can never thank Jane Shelton Dale enough for bringing everything together and convincing so many to open their homes. Lance Britt and the folks in Furman did an outstanding job and having two days of excellent sites available for tour really drew people in. The 2018 pilgrimage had the largest attendance of a pilgrimage in over a decade!”
Welcome New Members!
Joe Beery, Gary & Noma Bruton, Peggy Day, Leathea Eaton, Margaret Gaston, George & Mary Margaret Kyser, Vicki Lovinggood, Tom & Jane Phipps, Sven & Jackie Sharp, Neoda Strickland, Paul & Donna Wingard and Beth Yoder.
A Special Thanks!
A special thanks to Billy and Pie Malone for re-creating the park next to the Miller law office in downtown Camden, The park is beautiful and such a wonderful addition!
The WHS tour of six historic homes and other historic places will be held in Camden from 10 AM-5 PM on Saturday, March 23. Added this year will be a reception on Friday night, March 22 at the Wilcox Female Institute.
Included with the ticket price, the reception will feature music, refreshments and a speaker.
Homes included in the 2019 tour will be the Bell-Moore-Welch Home (RiverBend), the Bethea-Strother-Stewart Home (Pleasant Ridge), the Capell-Huff Home at Pebble Hill, the Sterrett-McWilliams-Cook Home, Old Saint Mary’s Church Home, and the Jones-McIntosh-Hicks Home. Other historical sites included will be the Old Shoe Shoppe Museum, the Miller Law Office (tour headquarters), the Dale Masonic Lodge and the Wilcox Female Institute.
Tour coordinators are Elizabeth Grimes Reaves and Fran Cook. Tickets will be $35 for adults, $10 for students, children 6 and under free, $25 for WHS members.
We contacted Ted Urquhart, President of the Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance, Inc. (ACPA) to see if they were interested in helping us preserve this historic cemetery. Mr. Urquhart visited the cemetery in September and had this to say,
“There’s a lot of work to be done here and I really think it would be best for me and you and yours to meet at the cemetery and establish a priority list of things to be done before an actual work day – and I would say the first is to clear out a path to the cemetery. A quick list includes clearing underbrush of course, some stone and fence repair and some simple stone cleaning.”
Please let us know if you are interested in meeting at the Allenton Cemetery in the early Spring and help make plans to preserve it.
INQUIRIES AND COMMENTS
We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries please let us know and we will put you in contact with the interested party. Here are a few received this year:
Seeking information about the Wilcox Male Institute. According to the Journal of the Alabama House of Representatives in 1851-1852 a move was made by Mr. Beck to amend “…authorizing the quarter master general to deliver to the trustees of the Wilcox Male Institute one hundred muskets, ten swords and belts, and two bronzed field pieces, adapted to the use of the pupils of said institute, which was adopted.” Becky L., Birmingham, Alabama
Seeking information about the Crook family. James A. Crook owned property in Allenton and is buried in Oak Hill. Rem M., Ohio
Seeking information about the African American Carter family in Pine Apple. Michael C., Texas
Seeking information about the Wilcox Training School in Miller’s Ferry. Pamela S., Illinois
Seeking information about Caribbean natives migrating to Alabama. Stephanie H., Bessemer, Alabama
Seeking information about the Allday, Flowers, Bass and Grantham families from the early 1800’s in Wilcox County. Richard Allday owned a ferry business in Canton’s Bend. The Flowers, Bass and Grantham families migrated to Wilcox and Marengo counties from North Carolina and South Carolina with some of them appearing on the 1850 Wilcox County Census. Dewayne A., Selma, Alabama
Sometimes an inquiry is for help to locate a town on a map of Wilcox County. We were able to help locate Clifton on a map for Noma B. in California.
LeaLynn J. from Pennsylvania is a kindergarten student and her mother requested that we send LeaLynn a postcard for a social studies project. We mailed her a card and were happy to learn that she received post cards from all 50 states and collected a total of 86 post cards – winning for the most turned it! How did they find out about the Wilcox Historical Society? She googled Alabama Historical Societies!
Calendar of Events
Christmas Open House at the Palmer-Britt home in Furman. Traditional favorites will be served and the house will be decorated with greenery from the property as was done in the 19th century. WHS members and guests are welcomed!
Christmas Community Service at Bear Creek Baptist Church in Caledonia at 2 PM. Hear the Christmas story, sing carols and enjoy the Christmas party to follow.
Christmas Open House at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill from 1 PM-6 PM. The shop will be decorated and refreshments will be served. Shop local!
And don’t forget for all your Christmas gifts – be sure to shop local first! Camden Jewelry & Gifts, Black Belt Treasures, Coast to Coast…just to name a few – have great ideas for gifts!
Christmas Driving Tour and Candlelight Service in Furman. Drive by tour of the “lighted” historic homes and churches will begin at dusk. The candlelight service is at 6:30 PM at the Bethsaida Baptist Church. Homes will remain lit until 9 PM.
January 17, 2019
WHS Meeting in Camden at the Burford-Malone home at 2PM. James Lamb from the University of West Alabama will be our guest speaker. The subject of the program will be Paleontology and Archaeology of Wilcox County. The address for the meeting is 425 Clifton Street.
March 22-23, 2019
Spring Pilgrimage in Camden
A Look Back…
Christmas was a particularly joyous occasion and Papa and Mama made much of it. Christmas Eve, our stockings, long, black cotton ones, were hung from the mantel in Mama’s and Papa’s room. Christmas morning found them filled to overflowing with nuts, candy, bunch raisins, oranges, apples, Roman candles and fire crackers, and by each stocking a much wished for toy.
I shall always remember my first doll with real hair, open and shut eyes, bisque head and kid body, that Santa brought me. My first dolls had been rag dolls, until one day Papa, on one of his trips to Greenville, brought me a doll with china head, feet, hands and cloth body, stuffed with sawdust. How I loved it but the one Santa brought satisfied my fondest dreams. My Aunt Annie Belle dressed it in a lovely white dotted Swiss dress with red dots and a bonnet to match. That evening as I was rocking her in my little rocking chair, she fell out of my arms and her head broke into many pieces. My little heart broke too and that was my first tragedy.
Story told by Frances Donald Dudley Grimes (1901-1989)
December 31, 1886
The Pine Apple Gazette
Dr. E.D. Harris is now occupying the house he lately bought from Mr. W. W. Jackson.
Christmas at Pine Apple was very quiet and orderly, there being little or no intoxication and no arrests for disorderly conduct.
Mr. and Mrs. J.I. Bizzelle, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Grimes, Miss Eva Adams and Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Matheson visited Selma last Wednesday to see Louise Balfe in Dagmar.
After the presents were distributed at the Academy Christmas Eve the assemblage was invited to repair to the garden of Mr. Bizzelle where a number of fireworks were exploded to the delight of all. The fireworks were purchased by the young men of Pine Apple.
Miss Bessie Kyser after spending several days with her cousin Miss Prudie Watts left for her home in Belleville, Conecuh County. Her stay was short but sufficiently long enough to capture and carry off the hearts of several of our young men.
December 7, 1905
“In our Social Realm”
From a recent special to the Age-Herald from Auburn we learn that two Wilcox boys, students at API have been made Cadet Sergeants; R.H. Liddell of Camden and Herman Grimes of Pine Apple.
January 7, 1913
Company plans winter resort in Wilcox County
A summer and winter resort will be made of the mineral springs at Schuster, Wilcox County, by the Alabama Mineral Springs Company which filed articles of incorporation in the office of Cyrus Brown, Secretary of State, Monday.
The authorized capital stock of the new company is $25,000, of which $8,075 is paid in. The incorporators are J.J. Bonner and others. The company will develop lands near Camden and will place the waters of the Schuster Springs on the market.
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WILCOX HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP
Whether you are a long-time member, new member or returning member, now is the time to join the Wilcox Historical Society for 2019! Your support of and interest in historical preservation in Wilcox County will be greatly appreciated!
Membership in the WHS would make a great Christmas gift too!
Annual dues are $20 for a couple, $15 for single. Lifetime dues are $200 for a couple and $150 for single.
Please mail dues to: P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. Be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Thanks!