Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2020

WHS 2020 Tour of Homes

Treasures of the Old South!

The Tour weekend which was originally planned for March 27th – 28th has been rescheduled to September 25th – 26th. The entire weekend’s events are the same – beginning on Friday at 6:30 PM with a Welcome Reception at RiverBend, circa 1848, with wine and hor d’oeuvres. Owners Christopher Bailey and Ryan Dunagan have completed a full restoration of this country residence and its grounds. The highlight of this special evening will begin at 8:00 PM with our guest speaker, Mr. James Farmer, Southern author and interior designer.

Everyone attending the reception must take the shuttle from the Wilcox Female Institute – there will be NO parking at RiverBend.

On Saturday morning, September 26th, all ticket holders are invited to The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill with a complimentary Southern breakfast from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM.

The historic homes on tour this year from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday include Yaupon – the Matthews-Tait-Rutherford Home, River Bluff Plantation – the Beck-Bryant-Talbot Home, the Strother-Gibbs Home, the Beck-Darwin-Hicks Home and House on the Hill – the Liddell-Phillippi Home.

This year’s tour also includes a Living History event at Liberty Hall. The grounds of Liberty Hall will be the scene of a reenactment portrayed by Company F of the 31st Alabama Infantry CSA and the 20th Kentucky Volunteers USA. This family unit represents both sides of the War and will reenact the day in April of 1865 when Union troops arrived at Liberty Hall with the intent to destroy it.

At 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM the living historians will reenact the arrival of Union troops to Liberty Hall. At noon, living historian, Scotty Myers, will appear as Jefferson Davis and will speak from the balcony of the house. His presentation is based on actual speeches Davis gave while traveling through Alabama in 1864.

The hall and formal rooms of Liberty Hall will be open for touring.

Churches in downtown Camden on the Tour are the First Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Also on Tour will be the Old Shoe Shop Museum, owned and directed by Ms. Betty Anderson, the Beck-Miller Law Office and the Old Wilcox County Jail in downtown Camden.

Lunch will be served at the following locations from 11 AM to 2 PM: the Dale Lodge – BBQ and sides, Wilcox Female Institute by Blue Spoon Cooking Company, and The Pecan on Broad – sandwiches, salads, sides and desserts.

Tickets to the Tour Package (including the Friday night reception, breakfast and the Tour) are $40. Group ticket price is $35 (available for groups of 10 or more), WHS Members $30, Student Admission $25 and Children 6 and under are free.

In addition, the Furman Historical Society is sponsoring a Pilgrimage Ball at Wakefield in Furman on Saturday night, September 26th from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM featuring period music by the Un-Reconstructed string band. Guests are encouraged to wear period civilian dress from the antebellum era or formal attire.

Tickets to the Pilgrimage Ball at Wakefield are $75 per person or $150 per couple. All proceeds will go to the preservation and restoration of historic structures in the Town of Furman.

Tickets are on sale now and can be bought locally at Black Belt Treasures Cultural Art Center, The Pecan on Broad or at The Brittany House Antiques at Oak Hill or online at Eventbrite.com. Please note that only full price adult tickets are available online.

Tickets may also be purchased on Friday, September 25th at Tour Headquarters, the Wilcox Female Institute, from 2:30 PM to 6:30 PM and on the day of the Tour from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

Everyone must pick up 2020 arm bands and maps at tour headquarters – Wilcox Female Institute – 301 Broad Street in Camden.

For more information call the Tour Coordinator at 256-975-7616 or email wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or see our Facebook page, Instagram page or website wilcoxhistoricalsociety.org.

Let’s all enjoy this special Weekend in Wilcox! ♦


WHS November Meeting

 The WHS met on November 14th at the Wilcox Female Institute to hear Dr. James P. Pate, independent scholar and historian, and Emeritus Professor of History at the University of West Alabama.

Dr. Pate spoke on his book The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama. This book was a special edition published as part of our state’s bicentennial.

The meeting was well attended by over 25 members and guests including some former students of Dr. Pate’s. ♦


Christmas In Furman

THANK YOU to the Britt family for hosting the annual WHS Christmas Open House at their historic home in Furman on December 7th. ♦


WHS February Meeting

 The Wilcox Female Institute was the site of the February 6th WHS meeting. Sarah Duggan of New Orleans was the featured speaker. “Field Work Finds: Historic Furniture in Wilcox County” was the topic of the program.

Ms. Duggan is the Coordinator and Research Curator of the Classical Institute of the South, a project of The Historic New Orleans Collection that documents historic decorative arts made or used in the Gulf South. With help from graduate student fellows, she conducts annual summer field work across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to explore the region’s material culture.

Many will recall that she spoke last March to tour participants at the Friday evening welcome reception before the Tour of Homes.

About 30 members and guests enjoyed the program. ♦


Letter from the President

Dear WHS members and friends,

Our March 27th -28th Tour of Homes has been rescheduled due to the Corona virus outbreak. A huge THANK YOU goes to Lance Britt, our Tour Coordinator, for the countless hours of phone calls, texts and emails he made to work out the details to reschedule. The support of all of our homeowners is phenomenal and we look forward to a successful Pilgrimage six months from now!

According to Lance, as of this week we have sold tickets to over 600 people from nine states – Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New York and Virginia.

In other news, we will soon be forming a few committees to help guide the WHS into the future. Committees will include Planning / Fundraising, Pilgrimage, Membership and Marketing. Let me know how you would like to serve.

To say there is a lot of interest in Wilcox County history is an understatement. We receive many requests for family history information and requests about various Wilcox County sites. If you are interested in being a resource for county history please let me know. Currently there are no researchers available for hire that I am aware of and being able to share some resources would be a wonderful service to those researching their roots!

I have the pleasure of serving as President and Editor of the WHS for the fourth year.  I like to think my grandmother, Frances Donald Dudley Grimes, one of the first Presidents of WHS, is smiling down on us and proud that the organization is strong and active!

Thank you for your continued support of the Wilcox Historical Society!

Best regards,

Martha Grimes Lampkin, President and Editor

(334) 296-1076

wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com


Member Spotlight –

A native of Birmingham, Mary Margaret Fife Kyser and her husband, George resided in Montgomery for thirty-seven years. She taught history at Carver and Baldwin Arts and Academic Magnet and The Montgomery Academy. She later served as the Assistant Director / Senior Services of MACCOA, Montgomery Area Council on Aging.

Mary Margaret and George, a native of Carlowville, built a retirement home on the River and moved to Camden two years ago. She became active in Wilcox Artworks and founding of The Gallery. She has volunteered with Black Belt Treasures and has taught art to youth in the community. She also serves as the Senior Warden of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Carlowville. Mary Margaret was elected as Treasurer for WHS this year.

She and George have one daughter, Mart Patton Kyser Whitten, one grandson and two dogs. ♦


Please encourage others to become a member of the Wilcox Historical Society! Annual dues are $20 for a couple, $15 for single. Lifetime dues are $200 for a couple and $150 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. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks! ♦

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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. We also love receiving comments on our posts on the WHS Facebook page. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

Any information about the Young family from Wilcox County? I’m looking for more info on my 2nd great grandmother Amelia Young b. 1858. My great grandfather was Zach Young b. 1893. F. Young

 I am looking for information related to my mother and father who were both born in Camden. Their names were Estella Pritchett and Herbert Aaron. Estella and Herbert were also the parents of Henry “Hank” Aaron who went on to break Babe Ruth’s baseball home run record. My parents married early and left Camden for Mobile, Alabama. Majority of my family came from Camden and I have put together an extensive family tree but there are some missing pieces that you may direct me in securing. Thanks. A.A. Scott 

I happened upon your website this morning and I would appreciate your sending me a form to join. Also, I am hoping someone there has information on the location of a cemetery. I was always told the name of it was Ray-Sills-McNeill Cemetery. I recently found the graves for this cemetery listed in Findagrave as being in Stevenson Cemetery. Only about 12-15 people are buried here – mid 1800’s to early 1920’s. Interestingly, one person there has a Death and Burial Record showing she was buried in Mount Hope. So, hopefully these are some clues whereby someone can point me in the right direction.

One of the main reasons I ask this, is because my GGG Grandfather, Thomas Godfrey Tate (died 1861) and an infant of his who died in 1860 are buried there in unmarked graves. Thus, I would at least like to find the location of the cemetery. Sadly, someone has placed a marker ‘in memory of’ to him beside his wife, Matilda Ann Ray Tate, in the Society Hill Cemetery, so now everyone thinks he is buried there.

If anyone can help me with this cemetery question, I would be greatly appreciative!

I am a descendant of the early peoples of Wilcox County – and proud to be so. Ancestors include the family of Stewart and McBride of the Oak Hill area as well as the Tait/Tate family and Dailey and Burson of the Fatama area. Of course, there are others – Ray and Wilkinson for examples. We still have land in the Fatama (Old Stewartville) community and get back when we can – at least yearly to Enon Baptist Church for their memorial in which I was humbled to preach at last year.

Thanks for your help and what you do. G. Swanner (Editor’s Note: Rev. Swanner was put in touch with the landowner in which the cemetery is located and was able to visit the cemetery in February.)

I am looking for a photo of Captain George Lynch of Wilcox County, Company C, 6th Alabama Regiment Volunteers. Thank you. R. Long

I am the descendant of the Hunter family originating from Snow Hill, Alabama and residing in Allenton, Alabama per census (continued on page 5)

records. I am trying to locate any records for my Grandmother, Mernervia Arnold, born Nervie or Nerva Hunter in Snow Hill, Alabama on April 21, 1916. A. James

I am looking for a 1966 Alabama license plate from Wilcox County. Please let me know if there is a place or if someone has one for sale. Thanks. D. Dobbs, AL

Greetings. Thank you for keeping history alive in Wilcox County. As a person engrossed in history, I appreciate all you do!

I am seeking information on my grandfather, Ernest Wells Green, who was killed in a logging accident at Packard’s Bend on December 13, 1933. Are there any newspaper obituaries or articles from that time? Any information you may point me to would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. J. Emert

I am researching my early family history. My family names associated with Wilcox County are Blain, Gillespie, McDonald, Gordon and Ratcliff.

One branch was Scottish and Irish who originally settled in Virginia and South Carolina in the 1700s but were living in Wilcox County Alabama in the 1800s. I believe a number were buried in the Camden Cemetery.

I am interested in how were they living while in Alabama.

Some specific names: Duncan McDonald, born in SC about 1813, married Adaline Ratcliff, who was born in Wilcox County about 1837. Duncan died 25 April 1854 in Wilcox County and is buried in the Camden Cemetery. They were married 11 October 1836 in Wilcox County.

Their children were Mary Arabella – born 11 September 1837, Lelia – born about 1838, Mourning – born about 1848 and Duncan born about 1851. S. Knight, MA.

Is there a repository online somewhere where I can find old photographs of Camden/Wilcox County – houses, people, downtown, the river, etc.? Thanks. J. Ferguson, GA

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Response to a WHS Facebook page post about the Tour of Homes guest speaker James Farmer:

I had the privilege of meeting James Farmer in 2013 when he was a featured speaker during our alumni weekend in Athens, GA. He is not to be missed. J.K.B. Williams

Responses to a WHS Facebook page post for Tombstone Tuesday’s tombstone for Bertha Donald Miller (1871-1924):

Thank you for this wonderful post! Aunt Bertha cherished her family and lived with her sister, my great-grandmother, once they were both widowed. They lived together in Pine Apple for a number of years until her passing. She helped raise my grandmother (who lost her father at a very young age). Through letters we have learned more of Aunt Bertha and that her husband passed away on Thanksgiving Day. She did not celebrate Thanksgiving from that day forward in honor of him. Also, she and her husband’s families were deeply rooted in the South Carolina Presbyterian foundations established in Wilcox County via Erskine College. A.S. Williams

This was all very interesting and another history lesson! P. Peterson

Response to a WHS Facebook post about River Bluff:

My grandparents owned this home for many years. I cannot wait to see it again! G. Gault

Responses to a WHS Facebook post and photograph of “Letha with a Turkey 1910 Furman”:

The Mary Lee Simpson collection is a treasure. Thanks for sharing! M.C. Bates

What an amazing and beautiful pic!                    S. Matranga ♦


 Wilcox Artworks Art Exhibit

Wilcox Artworks will hold a juried Art Exhibit March 21-April 18. The opening reception on Saturday, March 21 has been cancelled. Winners will be notified digitally. The Gallery is located at 103 Broad Street, Camden. A People’s Choice Award will take place during the Hog Wild for Art Celebration on April 18. The winner and prize will be announced at that time.

Wilcox Artworks is the local arts council for Wilcox County supporting the arts and culture of our rich county.

Please contact wilcoxartworks@gmail.com for more information or to join! Memberships are now available: $25 Single, $35 Family, $50 + for Corporate. ♦

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Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2020 – Martha Grimes Lampkin, President and Editor, Garland Cook Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson, Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary, Mary Margaret Fife Kyser, Treasurer and LaJunta Selsor Malone, Curator ♦

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A LOOK BACK…

22 July 1920 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

Mrs. Brooks Robbins of Catherine is in a Selma Hospital suffering from the effects of a congestive chill she had after coming to Selma Thursday on a motor trip with Mr. Robbins. Mr. Robbins is stopping at the Albert during his wife’s illness.

Mrs. W. S. Irby of Lower Peach Tree, who was called to Selma by the death of Mr. Geo. Herbert Kyser, left for home Thursday after spending a few days with her daughter, Mrs. R.I. Moore of Summerfield.

Misses Henrietta Irby and Mary Irby, of Lower Peach Tree passed through Selma Thursday en route to Richmond, Kentucky, to visit their sister, Mrs. Carl Park and family.

 School Notes

Forty dollars was the sum netted on the 3rd of July by the Watson Crossing picnic. This amount will be applied to the school needs.

Nearly $15000 has been raised by citizens of Pine Hill headed by Mr. W.J. Miller as chairman of the finance committee for erecting a new school building. The drive will not let up until sufficient funds are in hand to secure a commodious brick building.

Prof. N.J. Walker of Cameron, Texas, former Alabamian, and at present connected with Baylor University has accepted the principalship of the Wilcox County High School. Prof. Walker is highly recommended and has an enviable record as an educator. He will arrive about the middle of August.

Nine whites and seventeen colored applicants took the examination this week.

A contract will be let shortly for the erection of a new school building in McWilliams. It will be a four class room, with manual training department. The cost will be around $5,000. It will be completed in the early fall.

Miss Mildred Rutland of Evergreen has accepted a position in the Camden Grammar School.

Eight years ago, the public funds of Wilcox County were practically the same as the past year around $35,000. To maintain the same standard of schools as in the past would require a budget of at least $100,000 or $42,000 more than the total funds of the county the past year. Yet there are still many people in our county who oppose school levies, matriculation fees and supplemental plans.

The average cost in the United States per pupil for maintaining High schools is $84.94 per year, for maintaining elementary schools it is $31.65.

About 15 positions remain unfilled in the schools of Wilcox County.

The past year 110 children were transported to schools in Wilcox County. The maximum distance children were transported was about 7 miles. The average cost per month per pupil was about $3.00 or $27.00 per annum. This is rather below the average in the cost of transportation. Of the six vehicles used in transportation, one was a Ford truck, 3 cars one school has and one home equipped wagon. The most surprising feature of the transportation system is the fact that as high if not higher percentage of attendance of these children, than the regular average attendance will be shown.

22 January 1920 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

 Local

Mr. and Mrs. W.P. Burford were Selma visitors Tuesday.

Mr. J.A. Mills of Pine Apple, was a business visitor to Camden on Tuesday.

Preaching at the A.R.P. Church next Sabbath at 11 a.m. Sabbath school at 10.

Mrs. Nellie Miller was called to Mobile last week by the death of her nephew, Mr. Tucker.

Mrs. J.O. O’Neal entertained for a number of friends on Monday last.

Mr. & Mrs. John Skinner were made happy on last week by the arrival of a baby girl. She has been christened Ethel Pritchett Skinner.

For Sale – Twelve Red Burbon Turkeys. Mrs. T. A. Capell, Route 3, Camden, Ala.

Mrs. M. McArthur and Mrs. J.D. Bryant had the pleasure of hearing Madame Curci give her song recital in Montgomery the past week.

Lost-Between Station and Liddell’s Store, Love chain with engraved B. on locket. Finder return and get reward. Mrs. T. M. Baggett

Dr. C.C. Daniel, President of Birmingham-Southern College will preach at the Methodist Church on next Sunday, January 25th, morning and evening.

Mesdames S.G. Brice of Chester, S.C. and Mrs. Pogue of Gadsden were visitors to their brother, Judge B.M. Miller and family this week.

Bledsoe-Nettles

A quiet wedding ceremony, which took place at 10:20 o’clock Saturday morning in the Hotel Albert parlors united Miss Evelyn Nettles, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Z.G. Nettles, of Camden, and the Rev. J.C. Bledsoe of Pine Hill in marriage. The officiating minister was Dr. John A. Davison, pastor of the First Baptist Church of this city.

8 April 1937 THE BUTLER COUNTY NEWS

Diamond Doings

Invading Pine Apple on last Friday, the locals turned the fewest hits into the most runs, defeating the Wilcox County lads by the score of 3-1.

Nick Stallworth went the full nine innings on the slab for the local team, and did a superb job. When hits meant runs, the local hurler was cold as ice, stranding many men on the bases for the opposition.

Turner turned in a great game for the home team, but his elbowing could not offset errors of his mates and the timely hitting of the local nine.

Score by innings:                              R  H  E

Pine Apple      000 100 000          1   7  3

Georgiana       001 000 002          3   6  2

Batteries: Turner and West; Stallworth and P. Chambliss

6 April 1939 THE ADVERTISER-JOURNAL (Haleyville, Alabama)


Wilcox Farmers Grow Hay Crops

Under the leadership of E.H. Kelley and F.C. Turner, county agent and assistant agent respectively, Wilcox County farmers are making great strides in growing perennial hay crops.

Wilcox farmers recently made a cooperative purchase of nearly 200,000 Kudzu crowns to set out for the production of legume hay, control of soil erosion and as a temporary grazing crop.

Mr. Leslie Rutherford, who has one of the largest Kudzu fields in southwest Alabama, states that he gets around two tons of good kudzu hay to the acre every year. His hay is not only palatable but is even more nutritious that alfalfa. “This added to the fact that it completely controls soil erosion makes it one of the most valuable plants that we can grow,” says County Agent Kelley. The Wilcox farm agent recommends that it be grown on any of the soils in Wilcox County except the Sumter and Houston soils of the Black Belt.

Many farmers of the section believe that kudzu can and will prove valuable as a supplement of their pastures during the dry spells which come nearly every summer, which is one of the most critical times for cattle raisers throughout middle Alabama. ♦


In Memoriam

Ouida Ann Starr Woodson (1944-2019)

Back in November we lost a very special lady – a mother, homemaker, writer, journalist and respected historian. She published several volumes of local history – Within the Bend, Books 1-6 and Men of Wilcox – They Wore the Gray.

She was a founding member and officer of the WHS and was instrumental in the restoration of the Wilcox Female Institute.

She was owner and publisher of The Wilcox American Newspaper in Camden from 1976-1984.

She was a member of the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. She was an officer of the Camden ARP Women of the Church and was active in many other church and civic affairs.

Mrs. Woodson was born in Gadsden but grew up in the Possum Bend community in Wilcox County. She spent her early years at White Columns, the family home. She graduated from Wilcox County High School and continued her education at Virginia Intermont College and graduated with a degree in journalism. She returned to White Columns in later life and reared her children there.

She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Samuel D. Woodson, Jr., three daughters, Margaret Murphy of Camden, Mary Lois Woodson of Possum Bend, and Ann Prime (Mike) of Jessup, GA, and son, Sam Woodson III of Mobile and four grandchildren, seven nieces and nephews, six great grandchildren and eight great nieces and nephews. ♦


James Farmer to Speak at Pilgrimage

 The WHS Friday night, September 25th Welcome Reception will feature James Farmer, a Southern author, interior designer and speaker. Mr. Farmer is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling books: A Time to Plant; Sip & Savor; Porch Living; Wreaths for All Seasons; A Time to Cook; Dinner on the Grounds; A Time to Celebrate and A Place to Call Home. His newest book; Arriving Home – A Gracious Southern Welcome will be released in August!

In addition, his work has been published in various magazines including Southern Living, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Southern Home, Flower and more. A skilled and entertaining speaker, Farmer is considered a fresh voice for his generation.

Mr. Farmer will also hold a book-signing at The Pecan on Broad, Saturday, September 26th during Pilgrimage. ♦


Blue Alabama by Andrew Moore

“Moore’s photographs of the Black Belt honor its complicated histories but depart from them, avoiding stereotypes and finding the hope, resilience and creativity that animate this place.”

This new book of photographs contains several images of Wilcox County including Pearlie Smith and her home, Broken Arrow in Sunny South. The book cover features a photo of downtown Camden. Blue Alabama – a great book to add to your library! ♦


Welcome New Members!

From Camden – Sara C. Blackwell and Amber and James Wright. From Arley, Alabama – Cheryl and Burk McWilliams. From Mobile – Ms. Lynn Stewart.

From Pine Apple – Life Member Kathy Stone Perryman


Please be sure to renew your membership and encourage others to join!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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