Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Fall 2021

Dear Historical Society Members, 

I hope you are all well and enjoying this beautiful fall weather. We have a number of events on the horizon starting with our next meeting Sunday afternoon, November 14 at 2:00pm, at the Wilcox Female Institute. Our guest speaker will be Mr. Jeff Mansell from the Natchez National Historic Park. His talk is entitled “Souvenirs of travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour.” I hope to see you all there!

Congratulations to our members Chris Bailey and Ryan Dunagan, Laura and Schley Rutherford, and the Hamilton family whose Camden area homes were featured in Mobile Bay Magazine this month. It was a fantastic article which included beautiful pictures of each of their homes. Congratulations also goes out to WHS members Mitchell and Jennifer Britt whose Huntsville home is featured in the current Christmas issue of Victoria Magazine. It is wonderful to have so many of our member’s homes featured in these publications.

I am happy to announce that we currently have 346 members in the Wilcox Historical Society! We are by far the largest civic organization in Wilcox County. In addition, we have members from throughout the State of Alabama and many other states as well. Thank you for being a part of this special organization.

With a membership as large as ours, we can achieve any goal. Now that the Miller Law Office is nearing completion, we will set our focus on the restoration and improvements to the Wilcox Female Institute. A project of this magnitude will take more than the Board to make it a reality.

I challenge you to find a way to get involved. Help us locate corporate partners, grant sources, or private donations. With your help we will not only add the much-needed restroom facilities, but we can complete the restoration of the upstairs/bell tower and add the original wing to the building as well. Thank you to Ms. Billie Gibbs for being the first to volunteer to help this cause. She has already reached out to two sources to help us raise the needed funds. We will share more information about this project at the November meeting.

I am pleased to announce that the Harvest Arts Ensemble is coming back at Christmas! Currently their schedule includes a full Christmas concert in Camden on Saturday night, December 18th. We are very excited they are returning to Wilcox County and are pleased to be their concert partner.

It is an exciting time to live in Wilcox County. There is a renaissance happening in Downtown Camden, historic homes are being bought and restored throughout the county, and member’s homes are being featured in regional and national publications every year. The Wilcox Historical Society has been a big part of this positive change. From our annual Tour of Homes which brings thousands of people here to bringing concerts to the county, we are making a difference. Get involved and help us restore the Wilcox Female Institute! We need your help!

Sincerely,

Lance Britt, WHS President      

Welcome to new members: from Alabama – Bruce and Faye Bennett of Pine Apple, Dan Brooks of Camden, Mr. and Mrs. Andy Coats of Birmingham and Camden, Grey Davis and Keller Monet Leathers of Grove Hill, Bobby Dees of Auburn, Bobby and Caroleene Dobson of Birmingham, Al and Sue Gaston of Georgiana, Edgar and Mary Glenn Grant of Camden, Dr. & Mrs. Phil Hardee of Beatrice, Virginia Kelly of Enterprise, Gayle Leathers of Grove Hill, Greg and Susan Luce of Mobile, William and Daphne Malone of Camden, Tennant and Susan McWilliams of Fairhope, Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Moore of Headland, Harvey Nobles of Robertsdale, Adrian and Sheila Percival of Catherine, John and Sarah Potts of Evergreen, Kay and Luisa Reyes of Tuscaloosa, David and Andrea Snyder of Homewood, Shirley Stinson of Greenville. And from Athens, Georgia, Peggy Galis and from Four Oaks, California, Margaret Wisnicky.

And welcome to new Life Members – Scott Mitchell and Mary Martin of Montgomery!

THANK YOU for joining the WHS!

 TOUR OF HOMES UPDATE 

The Tour of Homes is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, March 25-26, 2022. The reception will be on Friday night with a guest speaker we hope to announce soon. Registration on Friday night will be held at the Wilcox Female Institute.

Saturday’s tour will be in Furman and will include eight homes and two churches. Breakfast will once again be provided to ticket holders Saturday morning at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill. Registration on Saturday will be at the Furman Methodist Church.

As Furman is a very small community, we will need volunteers to help guide at the various houses throughout the day. Please plan on volunteering for a two-hour shift that Saturday. Mary Glenn Phillipi Grant is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Tour of Homes. We are very thankful for her help in coordinating our volunteers this year. Please plan to help up on this important day for our organization.

Member Spotlight – J. Paul Hawthorne

The Hawthornes of Wilcox County

The Hawthornes have a long history with Wilcox County. Several families moved from Conecuh County to Wilcox County starting in the 1830s. My direct line hails from Rev. Kedar Hawthorne (1797-1877) who came from Conecuh County in 1828 to minister at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, located on the Wilcox and Butler County border. Rev. Kedar bought land and farmed there while preaching for several years until he moved his young family near Camden in 1833.

Other Hawthorne families moved from Conecuh County in the years to come, including Kedar’s sibling, Col. Joseph Richard Hawthorne in 1852, who built Hawthorne House in Pine Apple. Also, siblings Thomas Jefferson Hawthorne and Martha Hawthorne Langham moved to Wilcox County by 1860. 

Rev. Kedar and his wife Martha (Baggett) Hawthorne continued to prosper in the 1830s and 1840s near Camden raising their children and farming. Kedar was a staunch supporter of the Temperance Movement and was the chaplain of Wilcox Temple of Honor, No. 18 in 1851. One article I found about Kedar’s preaching style was written in 1917 by W.B. Crumpton, “Brother Hawthorn, when he approached the close of the sermon, put on the ‘rousements,’ closing each sentence “and arah.” He had a way, in his excitement, of spitting on the floor and wiping it up with his foot. Many times, his foot went through the motion not hitting the spittle. I was at first alarmed at his antics, afterwards amused.” 

Rev. Kedar helped establish many different denominational churches throughout Wilcox, Monroe, and Conecuh counties. He even travelled to Eastern and Middle Florida as a Missionary for a time. Kedar made sure his children received the best education. His oldest, Alexander (pictured above), went to Yale Law School, while his other son, J. Boardman (pictured at left), received a Doctorate in Divinity from Howard College.

Kedar moved to Mobile in 1856 where he built a house which is still standing and a registered landmark. In Mobile, he opened a book and stationery store and worked with African American churches. It is said in the History of Conecuh County by Rev. B. F. Riley that Kedar had baptized more than 4,500 believers in his useful career that spanned 50 years. I have not found a photo of Kedar yet, but I am still looking!

Children born to Kedar and Martha Hawthorne: Brig. Gen. Alexander Travis Hawthorne (1825-1899), Martha Ann Hawthorne (1829-1913), Mary Ann Hawthorne (1833-1926), Maj. Adoniram Judson Hawthorne (1834-1877) my line, Rev. Dr. James Boardman Hawthorne (1837-1910) and Pvt. Hartwell Kedar Hawthorne (1842-1863).

Note: Kedar named all his sons after Baptist ministers.

A Little About Me

I have been interested in my family history from an early age. I remember asking my grandfather, J.B. Hawthorne (1899-1993), about his family when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember him telling me he was named after his great-uncle, Rev. Dr. James Boardman Hawthorne, the prominent Southern Baptist minister, who was born in Wilcox County in 1837.

For years, I looked aimlessly for information on my Hawthornes in libraries, picking up bits of information here and there, until I got a computer in the late 1990s. That opened a whole lot of possibilities. I discovered family chat websites like GenForum, where I finally met a cousin from Decatur named Judson Hawthorne. He sent me his un-published book that traced our family back to the 1500s in Bray, Berkshire, England!

On the internet I found old church minutes from the Bellville Baptist Church in Conecuh County listing my 3x great-grandparents, Kedar and Martha (Baggett) Hawthorne transcribed by historian Margaret Jane Gaston. Years later, I finally met Ms. Gaston in Greenville where she and Judy Taylor of the Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society helped me locate the Hawthorne plot in Magnolia Cemetery.

I have many cousins still to this day living in Wilcox County and surrounding areas. I forgot to tell you, I’m a California boy! My grandfather was born in Greenville, Alabama, my dad in Houston, and myself in California. So, I have been doing long distance research all these years with a few trips to Alabama when I can. I hope to visit the county courthouse in Camden to look for records soon. I want to thank all the people who have helped me in my endeavor to uncover the past, including Martha Grimes Lampkin, Margaret Jane Gaston, Judy Taylor, Woody Hawthorne, Judson Hawthorne, Stacey Hathorn of the Alabama Historical Commission, and many cousins!

Miller Law Office Restoration Update

The Miller Law Office restoration is almost complete. As stated last month, the interior has been completely restored and painted, the documents and photographs have been framed with acid free papers and the porches/steps/columns have been restored or replaced following the guidelines of the National Register. The exterior has been painted and really looks wonderful. The final stage of this project is the addition of shutters to the windows/front door and replacing the damaged HVAC system. At that point the Law Office will be ready to open!

The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill donated this roll top desk (pictured above, left) to the Miller Law Office. It is very similar to the one pictured in the 1937 HABS photo shown here. It will go in that location in the Law Office.

Chris Bailey has done an outstanding job in overseeing this project. We truly appreciate his hard work and dedication to this important restoration project. It is our plan to open it on Saturday afternoons from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm for self-guided tours. We will need volunteers willing to monitor it those days. If you are interested, please let us know at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.  

WHS September Meeting

with the Honorable Jeff Sessions

On Sunday afternoon, September 19, members of the WHS gathered at the historical Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Our guest speaker was the Honorable Jeff Sessions. Sessions was our US State Senator from Alabama from 1997 – 2017 and the 84th US Attorney General from 2017 – 2018. From 1981 to 1993 he served as the US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

Sessions, who attended 12 years of school in Camden, shared stories from his youth, lessons he learned growing up in Wilcox County, and his family’s history in the region. He also shared his thoughts on the importance of our Constitution, respect for our Founding Fathers and the importance of teaching true history in our society.

MEMORIALS

Member, Camille Armstrong Selsor Jones, age 89, a resident of Camden, Alabama, died at her home on September 1, 2021. She was born February 1, 1932.

She was a graduate of Wilcox County High School. Following marriage and the rearing of three children, she earned a degree in nursing and served as a nurse in Camden and Pensacola, Florida. She served two short terms in Pakistan before going there in 1994 to serve on the mission field in a variety of ministries, including teacher at the Nancy Fulwood Hospital School of Nursing, manager and hostess of the Pakistan guest house and part-time homeschool teacher for the children of missionaries. Until her return to Alabama in 1997, she served in many other ways to help relieve the loads of Sahiwal-based missionaries.

Mrs. Jones was a lifelong member of the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. 

Member, Palmer Clarkson Hamilton, a native of Mobile, Alabama died Friday, October 15, 2021.

He was head of the Washington, D.C. law office of Jones Walker, and as a partner in the firm’s Governmental Relations Practice Group split his time between there and Mobile. Early in his legal career he served as an assistant to the Comptroller of the Currency and as chief of new bank chartering. He returned to Mobile and practiced law at Hamilton, Butler before becoming a founding partner of Miller, Hamilton, and Snider. In 2008, that firm merged with Jones Walker.

Mr. Hamilton served on a variety of federal, state, local and volunteer boards throughout his career and worked tirelessly to support The Episcopal Church, both locally and nationally. He was deeply committed to historic preservation. Individually, with others, and through the Oakleigh Venture Revolving Fund he restored dozens of structures in Mobile. In the last few years, he worked on one of his most enjoyable rehabilitations – the former St. Mary’s Church in Camden, Alabama. He quickly became a proponent for and advocate of all things Camden.

WHS MEETING NOVEMBER 14 AT 2PM

Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour

Our next meeting will be held on Sunday afternoon, November 14 at 2 o’clock at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden. The speaker for the afternoon will be Jeff Mansell of Natchez, Mississippi. A native of Pickens, MS, Jeff currently serves as the lead historian for the Natchez National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park Service. Prior to joining the Park Service in 2011, he spent twenty years directing private, non-profit preservation organizations across the country, including ten years in Alabama as the Assistant Director of the Cahaba Trace Commission and the Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.

Mansell’s program is entitled “Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour.: He will discuss travel in the mid-19th century and examine the objects these intrepid Southern travelers acquired on their European journeys.

TWO EVENINGS OF MUSIC IN CAMDEN

On September 10th and 11th, a three-piece trio of classical musicians charmed sold out crowds at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden. The Harvest Arts ensemble consisted of three, female musicians: cellist Mary Grace Bender, harpist Hannah Cope and flutist Madeline Cawley. The WHS together with The Brittany House Antiques, The Pecan on Broad and The Fox and Hen were sponsors of these very special concerts.

The Harvest Arts musicians will return Saturday night, December 18th to perform a Christmas concert in Camden.

The Most Beloved Building in Wilcox County

By Frances Donald Dudley Grimes, (1901-1989)

(Reprinted with permission from her granddaughter, Martha Grimes Lampkin )

“Wilcox County is steeped in history. The United States came into possession of this region by the Treaty of Ft Jackson on August 9, 1815 with the Creek Indians. It’s one of the larger counties and is named for Lt. Joseph M. Wilcox from Connecticut who was massacred by the Indians in 1814 on a sandbar at the mouth of Pursley Creek. The Maubilla Indians were the earliest inhabitants of Wilcox County and there is good reason to believe that DeSoto marched through Wilcox on his ruthless way to Maubilla in 1540.

Settlers began coming into the County in 1816, most coming from Virginia via of the Carolina’s and Georgia. Many were wealthy slaveholders and planters. Beautiful homes were built and large plantations established, many of which are still owned and maintained by descendants of the original owners.

A town like a person develops a character uniquely its own and mirrors the character of those who founded and developed it through the years and so it was with Camden, the county seat.

In the beginning a cultured society was maintained. Religion and education formed an important part in the community, which brings me up to my subject; the old Wilcox County Female Institute – the most beloved building in Wilcox County. 

In 1848 a board of citizens made up subscriptions for the construction of the building to be known as “The Wilcox County Female Institute.” It was built by slave labor and the bricks used throughout were made from the clay in the space now used as the athletic field of Wilcox County High School.

The Institute opened in 1850 with an enrollment of 250 girls, coming from all parts of the state and until 1866 belonged to the board which fostered its erection. In that year, Dr. John Miller, father of Alabama Governor Benjamin Meek Miller, bought and taught there several years. It was deeded to the State of Alabama in 1908 and became Wilcox County High School.

In 1963 a move began to tear the old building down and make way for a modern vocational building. A battle got under way to save this beloved landmark and through the untiring efforts of several dedicated citizens, members of DAR and UDC and most especially Dr. Peter Brannon, Mr. Milo Howard of Montgomery, Judge Jas. A. Hare of Selma, and Architect, Mr. Arthur Joe Grant of Montgomery, we won the battle with one compromise, that the rear of the structure, which was originally used as a dormitory for girls and an auditorium, be torn away, leaving the main portion.

In 1968 a historical marker was placed in front of this historic and beloved building through the efforts of the Wilcox County Historical Society. Many dignitaries were present for this occasion which included Mr. Milo Howard who ran interference for us all the way.

Now that our public school system has been greatly altered and in grave danger of being destroyed, this old building is again in danger, not only of being torn down but also of being ruthlessly abused. We sincerely hope that it can be placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its preservation.” 

Source: Notecards written by Frances Donald Dudley Grimes; date unknown, occasion unknown.

Editors Note: The Wilcox Female Institute was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April, 1976. It is assumed Mrs. Grimes’ appeal above was written in 1976 in support of this recognition. Mrs. Grimes was a founding member of the WHS and served as its first President.

HISTORY OF THE MATHESON LIBRARY 1921-1971

PINE APPLE, ALABAMA

 By Bertha Matheson Adams, (1892-1972)

On April 29, 1921, a group of women who were interested in forming a literary club met at Moore Academy in Pine Apple. The officers elected for the year 1921-1922 were: Mrs. B.W. Watson, President; Mrs. J.A. Seale, Vice President; Miss AdaSue Hawthorne, Secretary; Miss Bertha Adams, Treasurer and Mrs. E.L. Williams, Federation Secretary.

The Club was named the Century Club. It was to meet each Thursday before the fourth Sunday of the month.

The object of the club was mutual benefit, intellectual culture and community welfare. Through the years the members have taken this objective seriously.

The group met again at Moore Academy May 19, 1921. It was decided to have monthly musical programs through the summer.

In June, the Club met by invitation with Mrs. Finklea. At this meeting Mrs. J.A. Seale read the constitution and by-laws. Each article was discussed and voted on. Mrs. L.P. Cone furnished the music. The name of the club was changed to the Culture Club.

In July 1921 the Club met with the president, Mrs. Watson. At this meeting it was decided that the program for the first year’s study should be Civics.

The regular meetings of the Club began in September 1921. The name was again changed. This time the name New Century Club was selected.

A membership committee composed of AdaSue Hawthorne and Bertha Adams was appointed. Every woman in town was invited to join. The only conditions were that she was interested and willing to do what she was asked to do.

There were twenty-four members that first year. They all worked with enthusiasm.

Mrs. E.L. Williamson, Mrs. H.R. Moseley and Mrs. Finklea had had experience in club work and they were very active. Mrs. Seale, the wife of the Methodist preacher, was also an active leader but she left Pine Apple in January. Mrs. Williamson gave her untiring energy to seeing the young club established and to her more than any other one person the club owes the success of its early years. All of the members worked very hard. The programs always consisted of both papers and music. The study was taken seriously and each club member gained much knowledge. Parliamentary laws were stressed.

Outstanding programs included a year’s study on music, on art, on the Bible and on Shakespeare. The year the Club studied Shakespeare the story of the play was given character sketches of the main characters and songs from the play by the music club.

In 1923 a Junior Club was formed. Mrs. Williamson was the first Director. The New Century Club sponsored the Junior New Century until 1957. A member of the senior Club always acted as Director.  The young women had wonderful training in club work. They were always cooperative and helped with any thing that they were called upon to do. The bond between the two clubs was very close. Always on Reciprocity Day the Club was invited to meet with the Senior Club. Members of the Senior Club took the junior members over the state of Alabama on educational sightseeing trips.

Reciprocity Day was an important occasion. Members from the neighboring towns were invited to attend. For a number of years, the Reciprocity meetings were held on the lovely grounds of Dr. and Mrs. H.O. Tucker’s home.

At the beginning the dues were only $1.00 a year per person. The Club did various things to supplement the dues.

In 1922-23 the new school building of Moore Academy was erected. The Club was proud of it and wanted to be represented. For its’ part they decided to give cement steps leading to the side walk. Mrs. M.F. Jackson, Sr. was appointed chairman of this committee.

In 1925 trees were planted on the side of the highway between the Pine Apple Depot and the town itself. Each member planted one in memory of her mother and the Club planted four in memory of members who had died. In 1937–38 the Club planted more trees on the highway nearer town.

The first spring the Club sponsored Cleanup Day. The town was divided into districts and a prize was given to the members whose districts showed the most improvement. Prizes were also given to the Negroes who had the cleanest homes. This kept up for a number of years, the whole town taking part in it. The Club encouraged the planting of trees and shrubs on private property. The Club helped sponsor the building of sidewalks from town to school.

A County scholarship by the Federated Clubs of Wilcox County was established in 1937. The scholarship committee was composed of a member from each club. In the beginning $100.00 a year for four years was loaned to an outstanding young man or woman who needed assistance. This was later raised to $200.00 a year. Quite a number of worthy young people were helped by this scholarship.

The Club has cooperated with many causes that were not local. It has sold goods made by the blind each year and contributed to other scholarships. During World War II tin cans and old silk were saved for defense work. Cadets from Craig Field in Selma were entertained. Clothing was sent to foreign countries after the War. Free will offerings were taken at various times. One year $14.75 was given to cripple children and $49.00 to a polio drive. Books were sent to the Veteran’s Hospital in Montgomery. Each Christmas a box was sent to Bryce’s Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

During the War refreshments were not served at the Club meetings, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm. Attendance at the meetings was good.

Starting in 1935 the Club sponsored a community Christmas tree each year.

Down through the years the great objective of the Club was the establishment and sponsorship of the community library. Even the first year of the Club a reading circle was formed and as many books bought as there were members of the club. They were passed every two weeks, alphabetically from one member to another. In 1925 it was decided to erect a library building. Mrs. J.A. Matheson was elected treasurer of the building fund. At that time there were 30 members in the Club. She divided them into five committees and asked each committee to raise $100.00. At the end of the year the $500.00 had been raised but the Club found that that was only half enough. The next year the committees were formed again and asked to raise another $500.00. A good deal of money was donated. Various moneymaking schemes were used. There was a baby show, an amateur hour, an advertising sale and oyster dinners.

The library was opened April 17, 1927 at a cost of $1,235.79 with no outstanding debts. The Club has always felt the responsibility for its maintenance. In the beginning the Club members took turns acting as Librarian. During WPA days the government furnished three workers and since that time there has been a paid Librarian under the supervision of a Club member. The State Library Department has been generous in supplying books and each year the Club gave new books.

We have been told that the library would do credit to a town of 10,000 inhabitants. The whole town was proud of the library and helped contribute to its support. In the establishment of the library, we thank all the members but especially Mrs. Matheson for her interest and leadership. After Mrs. Matheson’s death in 1928 the library was named for her in appreciate of their work. Thanks are due Mrs. Georgia Jackson for her work in raising the standards and general oversight of the library.

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 or you can text or call Martha Lampkin at 334.296.1076. We also love receiving comments on our posts on social media. The more comments, likes and shares also help our posts be viewed by more people. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

I am reaching out for assistance. I am in the very beginnings of researching my family history in Pine Hill, Alabama. What I know so far is that my great-great-great-grandfather Horace Carmichael was living in Pine Hill (source 1880 Census); he was originally born in Dillon, South Carolina and I surmised that he was brought to Pine Hill by the Carmichaels of Dillon; William Carmichael (1817-1888) buried in the Pine Hill Cemetery. Horace was a blacksmith and I think he had a son named Horace Carmichael that was employed by the McClure Lumber Company in Wager, Alabama prior to WWI. Any assistance you can provide I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. V. Crawley, Richmond, VA

 I am looking for additional information on the Pritchett family. Ida Pritchett, buried at Bear Creek Church Cemetery in Caledonia, Wilcox County, is my great grandmother (1883-1907). She was married to Jake Till. They had two children, Willie Ethyl Till (married Philip M. Bowdoin). She is buried in New Brockton, AL. The second child, a son, JJ Till, died in 1907 at 3 months old and is buried along with his mother. Family stories tell me Ida may have died from birth complications or fever. From FindaGrave I know that Ida’s parents are TJ Pritchett (1848-1922) and Alice Pritchett (1859-?). Both are buried in Bear Creek Church Cemetery. FAG only shows Ida as their child. Thanks in advance for any help.  R. Bowdoin, Santa Clara, CA.

I am looking for information on the 78 enslaved persons and land sales and other listings for John Giddeon Horn and his son John Andrew Clement Horn. The will was disputed when John Giddeon Horn died in 1858. It was disputed to the Supreme Court and the 78 enslaved persons were split up; the children drew straws. John Andrew Giddeon Horn had property both in Camden and in Marengo County, Alabama. His land appears to be in Coy. He died in Marengo County 31 July 1889 but lived in Camden according to the 1870 Census with his wife Margaret McArthur. I am hoping to find someone locally to look at Probate records in hopes of finding sales and other documents listing the name of the plantation and other information.  A. Ezzell, Buffalo, NY

I was doing some family tree research and I saw a story that one of my ancestor’s named Ned Brown was a free man who fell in love with a slave named Ada Gilmore or Graves and he bought her and her mother Dicey from slavery. I would love to know if this is true or not. Thank you! M. Carstarphen, Toledo, OH

From a WHS Facebook post highlighting the photos taken by Laura Agee at the 2021 Tour of Homes:

Hello. Is RiverBend ever on tour? It is beautiful! V. Girod, Flora, MS

We were there! Loved every one of the homes! Can’t wait for the 2022! It’s a wonderful time for sure! J. and Z. Hunter, Hilton Head Island, SC

Every home was lovely! K. Bradsell

I was there. Hard to say my favorite! S. Beverly

From a WHS Facebook post shared from Lee Peacock – “Wilcox County Alabama News Flashback for October 13, 2021” featuring a photo of Martha and John Lamkin and Mr. Lamkin’s obituary, Albert Bloch’s obituary along with news from Pine Hill, Bellview, Camden and Allenton:

I treasure each of these posts with sneaks into past residents in Wilcox County! L. Hall

From a WHS Facebook post sharing a photo and information about the What’s Cooking in Wilcox County cookbook published in 1947 by the Wilcox County Home Demonstration Club. Included were committee member’s names and various advertisements. 

Would you show some of the recipes? Very interesting! K. Geiger

I have my grandmother’s Butler County Home Demonstration Club cookbook. Very well worn. J. Sanders

Mrs. Glen D. Liddell = my grandmother! J. Shannon

Cecil Shanks of Furman was my cousin. What a treasure. M. Nichols

First Pilgrimage Ball in Furman

The First Pilgrimage Ball was held on March 27th, 2021 at historic Wakefield in Furman as a fundraiser for the Furman Historical Society. It was a wonderful celebration at the end of a very successful WHS Tour of Homes weekend.

As guests arrived and during the ball, photographs were taken by the talented Laura Agee of Agee Images + Film. These photos are now available for purchase with the proceeds going to the Furman Historical Society for the work the group is doing to preserve its historic structures.

For more information, email wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or call 334.296.1076. The photo pricing is as follows: 4×6 – $1, 5×7 – $5, 8×10 – $10 and shipping is $5. PayPal, Venmo, Cash App and check are accepted.

Make plans to attend the 2022 WHS Tour of Homes in Furman on March 26, 2022!

Give the Gift of Membership

Gift memberships are now available! Help us grow our membership and take pride in the history of Wilcox County. If you are interested in gifting a membership to a friend or family member for a birthday or other special occasion let us know. We will mail them a beautiful gift certificate along with our latest newsletter. For more information, please contact us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.   

If you are interested in submitting an article for the newsletter, please let us know! Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or send via snail mail to P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. We will be happy to review it for a future issue!

A LOOK BACK…  

26 October 1907

The Birmingham News

People Went to Polls Early

Camden, Ala., Oct. 26 – The local option election today brought out a big vote in Wilcox county, early hours at the polls showing that the balloting would be heavy. Prohibitionists declared themselves entirely satisfied with the morning showing, and predictions as to the prohibition victory ranged from two to one to five to one.

The whisky men had practically given up the fight by noon, admitting that it was only a question of how great the prohibition majority would be.

13 October 1921

Wilcox Progressive Era

The ladies of the A.R.P. Church are busy getting ready for a Bazaar to be had early in December. They have started a movement to raise money to paint the church.

The Friday Afternoon Club had a pleasant meeting with its former secretary, Mrs. Alice Foster, on Clifton Ave. After an interesting program on “Modern Drama” the guests were invited into her beautifully decorated dining room where a salad course was served.

Schuster Springs Farm

Joe H. Bonner, Proprietor.

Invites your Patronage

No one in Wilcox county need to be told what these wonderful waters can do in stomach and kidney troubles and their kindred ills, and in general run down conditions.

Price of water $1.00 per five (5) gallons plus $2.25 for carboy or for case of quarts which will be refunded when containers are finally returned.

Cash must accompany all orders. Address all correspondence to Joe H. Bonner, Oak Hill, Ala.

Shipping Point: Pine Apple, Ala.

1 November 1961

The Birmingham News

‘Crash’ said meteor fall

A meteor which flashed across South Alabama may have fallen in Wilcox County, the Pensacola, Fla. Weather Bureau said this morning.

The Birmingham News received calls from persons in Dallas and Wilcox Counties, who said that an airplane may have crashed in Wilcox County. They reported seeing a flaming object fall from the sky.

The time of their sighting and that of the Pensacola station – about 11 p.m. – coincided.

18 February 1962

The Birmingham News

Woman born as a slave dies at 114, funeral Sunday

In the hills of Wilcox County where she was born a slave 114 years ago, Mrs. Ida Dumas will be buried at 1 p.m. Sunday after services at Canaan Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Arlington.

Her grave will be beside that of her husband, Doss O. Dumas, who died March, 1936, at 70.

The Rev. Thomas Threadgill will conduct the services. Davenport-Harris Funeral Home of Birmingham will be in charge.

Mrs. Dumas was born at the Kimbrough plantation at Arlington in 1848 the daughter of Wash and Martha Kimbrough. She clearly remembered when Yankee soldiers came to Wilcox County in the War Between the States and when she was freed along with other slaves.

Her first husband was Jack Fisher. They had several children. After her marriage to Dumas, a number of other children were born. She lived to see the fifth generation of her offspring.

Nine children survive and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In 1958, Mrs. Dumas came to Birmingham to live with her daughter, Mrs. Robert L. Wheaten, and Mrs. Wheaten, at 6620 Third Ave., North, where she died Monday.

24 October 1963

Wilcox Progressive Era

Nuff Said-

Students of Wil-Co-Hi have been electing “Who’s Who” this week. There’s really a lot of tension and anxious anticipation in the as to who got this, that and the other. So far, Nuff has learned that:

Taking the reign of “Mr. and Miss Wil-Co-Hi” are Pat Chestnut and Jackie Capell. Being chosen “Wittiest” are Pug Hayes and Charles Tait. Johnny Ross and Sandra Harvell were chosen “Most Popular” and Nell Tait and Jimmie Cook “Most Intellectual”. “Best Dressed” Connie Hayes and Will Bruse.

The Senior Class has also been busy electing “Favorites” for the year. They are Jimmie Cook, Johnny Webb, Johnny Ross, and Andy Johnson.

Being elected from the girls are Nell Tait, Pug Hayes, Martha Sue Philpott, and Jackie Capell.

Congratulations, students, on being elected “Who’s Who” and for being honored in this manner by classmates and fellow students.

We know “You” will make the 1964 Wil-Co-Hi Annual more attractive.  

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

  • Sunday, November 14, 2PM – WHS Meeting, Wilcox Female Institute

            Mr. Jeff Mansell, Natchez National Historical Park Historian, Guest Speaker

  • Saturday, December 4, 2-4PM Christmas Open House, Furman, Wakefield

            Join us for the annual Christmas Open House in Furman at Historic Wakefield which will be photographed December 7–8, for Victoria Magazine’s 2022 Christmas Issue.

  • Saturday, December 17 -18, 7PM Christmas Concert, Camden, Wilcox Female Institute

            Harvest Arts musicians, Madeline and Hannah, return for the debut of their Christmas Album. Tickets go on sale November 26th.

  • Sunday, December 19, 6PM Christmas in Furman, Bethsaida Baptist Church

            Driving Tour starts at dusk, Christmas music/candlelight service begins at the church at 6PM.

  • January 2022 (Date TBA) Piano Concert, Wilcox Female Institute

            We are working to bring Hungarian Concert Pianist, Vince Vajda, to perform on the 9′ Mason & Hamlin concert grand piano at the Institute.

    • Sunday, February 27, 2022, 2PM – WHS Meeting, Wilcox Female Institute

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