Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Summer 2022

Dear Historical Society Members,

I hope you are enjoying the summer with family and friends while trying to beat the heat! It was wonderful to see many of you recently at yet another fantastic Harvest Arts Concert at the Female Institute. I truly believe it was the best of the four.

There is so much exciting news to share with you. First, as a direct result of us sponsoring the Harvest Arts Concerts at the Female Institute, the Alabama State Council on the Arts has awarded us a $40,000 grant to help us Raise the Bell! They want to help us restore the Female Institute to allow us to expand our arts offerings to the county and region.

I have to thank our Vice President, Garland Smith, for meeting me in Montgomery to help pitch the concept to the Council. It certainly helped that so many of the council members know her from her work on various boards across the State. The Council on the Arts awarded us their second largest grant this year. We cannot thank them enough for their support. With this generous award, we have received over $70,000 in grant funds during the last 18 months!

A portion of these grants in combination with proceeds from the Tour of Homes and private donations have allowed us to restore the interior and exterior of the Miller Law Office. In addition, we have been able to have plans and renderings prepared for the restoration and expansion of the Female Institute. The award from the Arts Council gets us closer to breaking ground on the project. These monies coupled with part of the proceeds from the 2022 Tour of Homes and the eventual sale of our property in Sunny South will get us even closer.

This month we are also submitting a $75,000 grant application to the Alabama Historic Commission to help us Raise the Bell. They have been very generous with us in the past and we hope now that we have floor plans, renderings, and cost projections, they will continue to help us restore the Institute. I have to thank Katie Summerville, our grant writer, for helping us prepare the application. She is going to be a valuable resource moving forward in this process. These grants, along with private contributions, will help make this dream a reality!

As if that were not enough, we have been informed by Alabama Magazine that our Tour of Homes has won the 2022 “Best of Bama” Heritage Tour Award! This award is voted on by their readers and the general public online each year. We have received this award two years in a row. Look for it to be announced in their July/August Issue.

We are currently working on our meeting schedule and speakers for the fall as well as the 2023 Tour of Homes in Pine Apple, March 25, and its Guest Speaker. I am excited to announce that our first concert of the fall will be Saturday night, September 24. It will be the Harvest Arts Quintet to include three string players, flute, and harp. You will not want to miss this! Tickets will be available on eventbrite.com no later than September 1.

As you can see, we are continuing to bring positive public exposure, grant funds, concerts, and tax revenue through our events to Wilcox County. With your help we will realize our vision for the Female Institute as a center for history, research, culture, and the arts. Find a way to get involved and help us Raise the Bell!

Have a wonderful 4th of July.

Lance Britt, WHS President      

WELCOME to new members: from Alabama –Daly and Debra Baumhauer, Libby Bruce, Brooks and Elaine Donald of Camden, Michelle McDonald of Pine Apple (by way of California), David and Sally Parker of Montgomery, and Harold and Anna Speir of Selma. And welcome to new members Edward and Rebecca McIntosh of Ormond Beach, Florida and Kimberly Purifoy Stout of Little Rock, Arkansas!

Welcome to our new business members – Town-Country United Bank in Camden and Conde’ Charlotte Museum in Mobile, Alabama!

And welcome to new Life Members –Mark and Mary Jane Sherling of Pine Apple, Alabama! Thank you all for joining the WHS! ☼

ARTS COUNCIL HELPS WHS RAISE THE BELL

The Alabama State Council on the Arts recently awarded twenty-one Fellowship grants totaling $105,000 and ten Arts Facilities grants totaling $267,500 for a total of $372,500 in funding. According to the Arts Council’s news release, “Arts facilities grants are an economic investment in an organization as they plan, design, or construct spaces for arts activities. This program continues to support adaptive re-use of spaces, revitalizing neighborhoods. Funded projects involve top-level professionals in urban and community planning, architecture, landscape design, and historic preservation. Grantees are awarded based on evidence of community support, a key element for large and small organizations enhancing spaces for arts activities.”

The WHS was awarded a $40,000 construction grant for the restoration of the Wilcox Female Institute. Through the addition of the auditorium wing to the existing building, the goal of our project is to create a space where the WHS can offer performing arts programming to Wilcox County residents. “Support for arts programming is critical for a vibrant creative community, which results in a thriving arts economy, a workforce ready for innovation, and a high quality of life for all residents.”  ☼  

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – Andy and Kathy Coats

Kathy and I have been married for 30 years. We met at our church in Birmingham. We have three children: Elizabeth, 28, Andrew, 26 and Caitlin, 24. I have two older girls, Mary Catherine who is married to Travis and Caroline who is married to Byron. I have five grandchildren ages 4 to 13.

Kathy graduated from the University of Alabama and has her Master’s in Nutrition from UAB. She’s a Master Gardener, member of the DAR, enjoys classical music, genealogy research and is the cultural leader of our family. Our children follow in her footsteps as lovers of books, the theater and music.

I graduated from Livingston University (now known as the University of West Alabama) and played football there. We celebrated our 50-year anniversary for our 1971 National Championship team recently. I started two businesses in the occupational safety and health industry. I sold my last business, OHD (Occupational Health Dynamics) five years ago and retired. I enjoy reading, golf, hunting and fishing and spending time in Camden.

We purchased land at Miller’s Ferry about twelve years ago. Up until two years ago I rented Garland Cook Smith’s house across from their home on Clifton Street (the Sterrett-McWilliams Home, c. 1851.) We needed a larger home and Garland told us about the Beck-Darwin-Hicks home, c. 1846. We purchased the home from Kathryn and Tim Hicks. Pictured at the beginning of this article is a photograph of our home in Camden when it was one of the historic homes featured on the WHS Tour of Homes in 2020. Below is our photograph taken at Wakefield in Furman during the 2021 Tour of Homes weekend.

We both have fallen in love with Camden and all the new friends we have. Everyone has been so welcoming to us. My ancestral roots are in the Blackbelt of Alabama. My father and his ancestors grew up in Grove Hill, Clarke County, Alabama. In fact, the first courthouse was held in my ancestral great grandfather’s home in Old Clarkesville in the early 1800s. My Uncle Bob Coats married Hattie McLeod from Camden.

During the pandemic, our family friends from church, the Cawleys, started hosting their daughter, Madeline’s flute concerts that developed into Harvest Arts. Sherry Cawley was brainstorming with Kathy about ways to expand the concerts. Kathy said, “Come to Camden, we have a place y’all can stay.” Sherry said that they liked to have at least 30 people attend. Kathy replied that they did not know 30 people in Camden, but Lance Britt does. We connected Lance to the Cawleys and Harvest Arts has expanded its concert series not only in Alabama, but Tennessee and Florida as well.

We always look forward to spending time in Camden and building on our friendships.  ☼ 

Correction to A HISTORY OF FURMAN

We would like to make a correction to the article in our last newsletter regarding the history of Furman and the wording on the Furman National Historic District historical marker that was erected by the Alabama Tourism Department and the Community of Furman in April 2010. The marker states that “The town’s most notable citizens have included persons such as Elkanah Burson, an attaché to General Robert E. Lee and John Purifoy, a member of Company C who later served Alabama as Secretary of State.” However, there were two men named John Purifoy from Furman; they were first cousins and about the same age. John Harrod Purifoy served in Company C, 44th Alabama Infantry (Cedar Creek Guards). He was born 9 September 1837 at Snow Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama to William Madison Purifoy and Mary Harrod. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia in 1859. After enlisting in the Confederate Army, he was commissioned as Assistant Surgeon and assigned to field hospital duty; captured at Gettysburg; imprisoned two months in Fort McHenry; escaped; two-month furlough; transferred to Fort Gaines; prisoner about two months at Fort Gaines and New Orleans; paroled at Selma at end of war and settled in Furman.

John Purifoy, was born 21 March 1842 near Minter, Dallas County, Alabama and was the son of Francis Marion Purifoy and Lucinda Thigpen of Dallas and Wilcox Counties. He was educated in Wilcox County and at the Tennessee University in Knoxville until April 1861 when he entered the Confederate Army. He enlisted in the Jeff Davis Artillery at Selma, Alabama and served through all the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia.

After the War he taught school for several years; engaged in farming; and in 1880 he was elected probate judge of Wilcox County, serving until 1886. In 1890 he was elected a member of the House of Representatives from Wilcox County; and in June, 1892, he was appointed by Gov. Thomas G. Jones to fill the unexpired term of Cyrus D. Hogue as State Auditor, and in November of that year was elected for a full term and re-elected in 1894. For a few months in 1897 he served as State Deputy Tax Commissioner; and examiner of accounts 1897-1900. From 1900-1907 he acted as a special expert accountant, and in the latter year was again named examiner of accounts by Gov. B.B. Comer. In 1910 he was elected State Treasurer; and November 3, 1914, he was elected Secretary of State.

A special THANK YOU to WHS member, Jean Till Styles, for the correction and supporting documentation. Sources: www.archives.alabama.gov/conoff/purifoy.html and Descendants of John Purifoy Who Were Confederate Soldiers by Francis Marion Purifoy as published 1904 by The Alabama Historical Society.

 D O N A T I O N S

Many thanks for your gifts and continuing support!

A memorial, birthday, anniversary or just a nice way to say thank you can be done in a donation to the Wilcox Historical Society. Your donation is tax deductible. Donations can be mailed to: WHS, P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 or contact our Treasurer, Mary Margaret Kyser for more details. She can be reached at 334.324.9353 or m2kyser54@aol.com. ☼

WHS May Meeting – The History of Furman

On Thursday afternoon, May 5th, members and guests of the WHS enjoyed hearing from former WHS President and local historian, Erskine “Don” Donald. Don shared with the group the interesting history of the Furman area. The Furman historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

The meeting was held in Bethsaida Baptist Church (founded in 1831, present building built between 1858-1860.) The church was recently restored and will celebrate its 191st anniversary this month.

The group also had the opportunity to tour the original Alabama Baptist Newspaper building, c 1830s, that was moved to Furman from the campus of Judson College in Marion, Alabama. Also open was the old Furman Post Office and Furman General Store – both of which are currently being restored. Refreshments were served at the Furman School; now used as a community center.  

Pictured are Don and Mary Charles Donald and Anna and Harold Spier on the steps of the Furman School.  Mr. Speir is a native of Furman and attended school in this building.  ☼

SONGS FROM AN OPEN WINDOW CONCERT IN CAMDEN

The Wilcox Female Institute was once again host to the Harvest Arts Duo on June 18th. Hannah Cope Johnson and Madeline Cawley amazed us all with classical music selections featuring sounds of what you would enjoy outside your window in summer – the sounds of chirping birds, a rippling brook, a lazy breeze, children playing – all in this wonderful flute and harp concert.

Harpist, Hannah, has been named the Principal Harpist of the Sarasota Symphony Orchestra, the oldest continuing orchestra in Florida. Congratulations to Hannah!

They plan to return on Saturday, September 24th. The next concert will feature the Harvest Arts Quintet to include three string players, flute and harp. Tickets will be available on Eventbrite.com starting September 1. ☼

Joseph Harold “Hal” Huggins, 69, passed away at his home in Camden on May 10th, 2022 following months of illness. He is survived by his wife, Vickie Hogue Huggins, daughter, Kristi Huggins Hickman (Christopher) of Auburn, and son, Joseph Matthew Huggins (Shanna) of Camden and four grandchildren. Hal enjoyed a successful lifelong career in banking and was a pillar of positive influence in his community and beyond.

Hal attended Wilcox County schools and Auburn University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He began his banking career in 1976 with City National Bank in Selma. He was instrumental in the organization and chartering of Town-County Bank in 1978 and enjoyed his job there for over forty years, as both the Vice President and later the President and CEO. Hall recently worked to merge TCNB with United Bancorporation of Alabama, Inc. He was appointed to the board of directors and served as the president of the new Town-Country United Bank, a position he held until his death.

An advocate for his community, friends, customers and church, Hal shared his Christian faith and joy for life through laughter, service and care of others. Hal enjoyed the outdoors including raising cattle, baling hay, and growing timber. In his community he served various organizations through the years. He was also known to many young people in Camden for his “bank tours.” Hal was a faithful member of the Camden United Methodist Church.  ☼

From Texas to Oak Hill, Alabama

My Trip to Jenkins Cemetery

By WHS member Pam Lewis Ballew

I recently made a trip, along with a friend of mine, to Oak Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama. Arriving from Texas, we visited the Jenkins Cemetery where many of my relatives are buried, my 2nd, 3rd and even 4th great grandfather, 2nd great grandmothers, uncles, aunts, etc.

The Lewis and Jenkins families buried here, about twenty-four, on Mr. John Dale’s land are all kin to me, with the exception of probably one. Being a descendant of Capt. James “Otterskin” Lewis, of South Carolina (1730-1780) made me want to seek out the Lewis’ heritage. Although he is not buried here, his son, Wherrit D. (Wherry) Lewis is. Before visiting the cemetery, my friend and I visited Camden. What a lovely, rural town, beautiful homes, buildings and countryside, everywhere in the area. No wonder my relatives chose to settle here.

My great grandfather, Otis F. Lewis, was born in Wilcox County in 1838. While here he married Lucy Bailey in 1855. They purchased land in nearby Greenville, Butler County in 1858 to farm. But the Civil War temporarily took him away. He joined the Confederacy in Warrington, Florida, Co. D, 3rd Alabama Cavalry, along with a few of the Jenkins family.

The Wilcox News and Pacificator dated 30 March 1869 showed him “having the Township Maps of Wilcox and Monroe Counties, showing all public lands, any person wishing to enter” could see him on Saturdays, in Camden, instead of having to go to Montgomery. Some years after, he moved his family to Louisiana.

Speaking of Mr. John Dale, I cannot thank him enough for taking the time to show us this cemetery. It meant a great deal to me. He told us a story of going into the bank in Camden, the previous Monday, telling Betty Kennedy’s grandson that visitors were coming from Texas at the end of the March. He went back out to his truck and saw a text on his phone from me that I would be there that Thursday – 4 days’ notice! He said he hurried back in the bank and told him “They are coming this Thursday.”

What great hospitality! They must have worked all day on that Tuesday and probably the next day too, trimming trees, cleaning it up for our arrival. The cemetery was immaculate. He even invited Betty Kennedy to fill us in on stories and history of the area.

John told us we could not leave Alabama without eating at Gaines Ridge in Camden. We saw Betty’s many quilts, then ate a delicious supper there, along with their famous Black Bottom Pie.

The only thing missing is pictures of any of these families. Maybe some will surface one day!

Many thanks to Martha Lampkin for getting us in touch with John Dale.  I hope to visit again very soon and promise to give Mr. Dale more than four days’ notice!  

With great gratitude,

Pam Lewis Ballew

Weatherford, Texas

Following is Pam’s Pedigree:

Captain James Lewis (1730-1780) m Elizabeth Wolfe

  Wherrit Dunnam “Wherry” Lewis (1772-1836) m Elizabeth Jenkins (1790-1873)

    James Jenkins Lewis (1805-1880) m Melissa Jenkins (1813-1890)

      Otis F. Lewis (1838-1889) m Lucy Bailey (1838-1924)

        Joseph Wheeler Lewis (1865-1943) m Lottie Gray (1874-1944)

          Ted Wheeler Lewis (1906-1978) m Annie Avis Moses (1922-1995)

Editor’s Note: Mrs. Ballew was very generous in donating $200 to the WHS in honor of John Dale. And we would like to also say THANK YOU to John, Betty Kennedy and grandson, Zach Kennedy for their hospitality and work on the Jenkins Cemetery.  ☼

THE LEGACY OF DR. J. PAUL JONES CONTINUES INTO THE FUTURE

Submitted by WHS member, Mary Christian Hodo

    The name J. Paul Jones is as familiar to most folks in Wilcox County as Kay Ivey is to Alabamians. He was from a grand tradition of physicians that included his grandfather, father and two uncles in a longstanding practice of rural medicine that is seemingly unparalleled in today’s terms.

    His grandfather was Dr. John Paul Jones, who moved to Camden with his family in the 1840’s and would eventually marry Camilla Boykin of Tilden (Dallas County) in the 1860’s; the first wedding to be performed in the now defunct St. Mary’s Episcopal Church here in Camden (now a lovely residence, you can drive past it on Clifton St. in town). John Paul and Camilla had nine children, three of whom would go into practice with their father and continue the tradition after his death in 1903.

    J. Paul Jones, or “Dr. Paul” as he was known in the county, was the son of Dr. Thomas Warburton Jones, the eldest of the nine Jones children. Born in 1884, he would graduate from Wilcox County High in 1911 and attend college and medical school at the University of Alabama and Tulane University, respectively. In 1919, he volunteered for service during World War I, or as it was known, the Great War.

    Dr. Jones first served with the British Medical Command, then joined the American Expeditionary Forces in France as a field physician. In a letter to his father on March 4, 1919, he states that he has recently arrived at Base Hospital 69 at St. Nogaire “in the middle of the coast of France.” The letter is at the end of the article in its entirety, and it is this writer’s firm belief that this experience would undoubtedly have an effect on not only his medical practice when he came home, but also his devotion and dedication to the establishment of the hospital that would bear his name long after his death in 1975.

    Dr. Jones served on local, state and national medical societies and boards, and was on the Medical Advisory Board of the Selective Service Committee, for which he was issued a commendation from President Eisenhower in 1957. He accepted no compensation for this, which was also noted in his letter of commendation.

    At 81, he described himself as “just an average person” yet to the people of Wilcox County he was so much more. He described making house calls during times of high flooding, in which he drove his Model T to the bridge, took a skiff and rowed across and rode the rest of the way by horseback or mule. He saw patients regardless of status. He saw patients regardless of ability to pay, noting that whether or not it was a dozen eggs or a few dollars, or even a thank you, their treatment was all that mattered.

    J. Paul Jones Hospital was the long-awaited culmination of many years of public-private partnerships and committees arising from the passage of the Hill-Burton Free and Reduced Cost Health Care Act of 1946. Co-sponsored by Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, the Act provided funds to communities with a need for adequate hospitals and the means to sustain them. The first Wilcox County Hospital Board was formed in 1956, with J. Paul Jones serving as consultant

    The hospital has had a tremendous impact on the residents of Wilcox County, and was overseen entirely by its Board of Directors until 2017. When rising insurance costs and diminished state hospital funds appropriated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services threatened to close the doors of the only hospital within a 40-mile radius, it seemed as if Wilcox County was on the verge of losing its only hospital.

    Once again, the people of Wilcox County showed their commitment to the community. A string of fundraisers, meetings and eventual partnerships were formed in what could be viewed as a new incarnation of the “Hill-Burton” act when UAB Health Systems entered into managerial partnerships with J. Paul Jones Hospital in Camden, as well as L.V. Stabler in Greenville and Bryan Whitfield in Demopolis in 2018. J. Paul Jones’ Board remains comprised of local residents, and there has even been an expansion in the form of the J. Paul Jones Rural Health Outpatient Clinic.

    “Dr. Paul” was born into a legacy of rural medical care; and served anyone in need for over 50 years. He lived his entire life here except when he was in school or serving in Europe. He would undoubtedly be absolutely delighted and proud of the community spirit that is surely what kept him here for his medical career. A few short years ago, the future of healthcare as Wilcox County looked bleak- and now our hospital has been saved, there is an urgent care clinic, as well as several Rural Health Clinics in the county. The healthcare industry has indeed changed; yet the level of community spirit in Wilcox County proves once again that “where there is a will, there is a way.” ☼

Mary Hodo is a native of Selma but her ancestral roots run deep in Wilcox County. Her grandparents were Camille and Pete Jones. Dr. Paul Jones was her great x3 grandfather, which makes Dr. J. Paul Jones her first cousin three times removed. She has loved history and genealogy for longer than she can remember; something she is proud to have instilled in her 11 year old daughter, Annah Camille. They “officially” moved to Camden in January; though she has long referred to it as her other hometown.

MY GREAT, GREAT, GRANDFATHER – Henry Marshall Purifoy

By WHS Member, Kimberly Purifoy Stout (with additional information added by Editor, Martha Grimes Lampkin)

A few sentences in the 30 September 1882 issue of the Pine Apple Gazette newspaper shared the news of the death of my great, great, grandfather, Henry Marshall Purifoy. He was born on 10 November 1812 in Hancock County, Georgia to John Purifoy (born 1787 in Craven County, North Carolina; died 1839 while visiting Shelby Springs, Alabama and buried at Old Shelby Cemetery) and Nancy Williams (born 1792 and died 1875 at Snow Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama and buried at Old Snow Hill Cemetery.)

 Henry Marshall Purifoy married Frances A. Lytha Griffin in Wilcox County, Alabama on 1 June 1834. Their first two children; Rachel Purifoy (1836-1841) and William D. Purifoy (1839-1840) are buried at the Old Snow Hill Cemetery. Henry and Frances moved to Arkansas between 1841 and 1844 with other members of the Purifoy and Gulley families.

 Mentioned in the above newspaper clipping, brother, John Wesley Purifoy was born in 1823 in Hancock County, Georgia and died in 1897 in Snow Hill, also buried at the Old Snow Hill Cemetery.

Another brother, Francis Marion Purifoy (1818-1858) was the father of Judge John Purifoy Sr. mentioned earlier in this newsletter. Francis Marion Purifoy is also buried at the Old Snow Hill Cemetery.

These three brothers – Henry Marshall, John Wesley and Francis Marion as well as seven siblings; William Madison, Martha Williams, Leroy, Mary Ellen, Patience Caroline, Robert and Emily were grandchildren of John and Nancy (Williams) Purifoy and of John and Susanna (Scott) Thigpen. The Purifoys and Thigpens were early settlers in Virginia and South Carolina later migrating to Georgia, Alabama and other southern states.

 In birth order the children of John and Nancy Purifoy:

William Madison Purifoy (1810-1863) married Mary Herrod in 1821

Henry Marshall Purifoy (1812-1882) married Frances Ann Griffin in 1834

Martha Williams Purifoy (1814-1911) married Edmund Hobdy in 1829

Leroy Purifoy (1816-1874) married Elizabeth Gulley in 1835

Francis Marion Purifoy (1818-1858) married Nancy Lucy Thigpen in 1841

Mary Ellen Purifoy (1823-1857) married James Heywood Gulley in 1836

John Wesley Purifoy (1824-1897) married Nancy Warren Carter in 1862

Patience Caroline Purifoy (1827-1904) married John Allen Lee in 1846

Emily Purifoy born 1830, died in infancy   

Robert A. Purifoy born 1833, died in infancy

 

John Thigpen (1775-1858) and wife, Susanna Scott Thigpen (1781-1850) are buried in the Mt. Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church cemetery located near the Butler and Wilcox County lines. ☼

 YOU CAN HELP US RAISE THE BELL!

 

There are a variety of ways you can help us restore the Female Institute. For more information on naming opportunities for the archives or either phase of the restoration, please contact Lance Britt, WHS President, 256.975.7616.

To contribute to the cause, send a check made payable to: Wilcox Historical Society, P.O. Box 464, Camden, Alabama 36726. Your potential tax deduction is based on the stated value for goods or services provided.

TOGETHER we can Raise the Bell at the Wilcox Female Institute! ☼

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 .  ☼

  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 researching the Lee family. Young Lee and wife Susan were living in the Snow Hill area in the late 1820’s. Any help will be appreciated. Dennis McIntire, Ph.D., State Registrar, Georgia Society
Sons of the American Revolution

Hello, my name is Jerry Siegel, I am a photographer living in Atlanta and Selma. I was born and raised in Selma (4th generation). I am a documentary and fine art photographer. I am looking for contact info for Snow Hill Institute. I stumbled on it recently driving around and shooting photos in the area. I will be back in the Black Belt next week. Do you have any info on who to contact to get access to shoot some photographs? Here is a link to my website https://www.jerrysiegel.com/Black-Belt-Color-2001-present/1/thumbs and I have attached a few images from my last visit. Thanks for your help. Jerry

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the help of Don Donald, we were able to provide Mr. Siegel with contact information for Snow Hill Institute. 

Hello! My name is Heather, and I am reaching out to ask about the Seale Plantation house (Moss Hill.) Ransom Seale was my 5x great grandfather. Recently, an aunt of mine unloaded quite a few old family photos to me, which included a beautiful photo of the home in Pine Apple, Alabama. I would love to share it with you all, and perhaps learn about the Seale family and the home itself.

I would love to come next year for the tour. It seems about 6 hours from me here in Georgia, so that would be a nice trip! I have included the photos that I had mentioned. There were many of this family but none of the extended family, so I just shared those that might be the most relevant. My 3x great grandmother, Maggie, was married to Junious Harris. He went on to be a prominent lawyer in Nacogdoches, Texas and then to Austin, Texas, where he helped to write many of the state bylaws. Maggie, born Margaret Lorena Seale, was the daughter of John Wilson Seale and his wife Gracie Stallings.

My family comes from one of Maggie and Junious’ daughters, Elliece, who died when she was 66 of a lifelong illness. Elliece married Thomas Davison of Nacogdoches, who founded First Federal Savings and Loan bank in 1933 and had two children, Emily June and Thomas Seale Davison. Most of the photos and information on these photos was annotated by my great Aunt (Emily’s daughter), who I think did a lot of guessing. I apologize in advance if any of this ends up being incorrectly attributed to the wrong person, but I am going off of the notes on the back of the photos. I have two large folders of documents pertaining to the history of this family but most of it is based in Texas. I would love to know how Maggie Seale ended up in Texas and about her family. I look forward to hearing from you! Heather N., Georgia

My husband’s grandmother was Rebecca Campbell from Camden. I would like to know more about the Campbells of Wilcox County, and would like to know when your next meeting is, and may I attend?  I met you at the tour of homes last month, and I so enjoyed myself. I was a guest of Miss Kitty Lamkin.

S. Parker, Montgomery, AL

 I found a New Testament in my mother’s things that belonged to a woman named Ellen Hughes it was given to her by James A. Hughes. The inscription reads that he was a “Volunteer in the war”. It says that she lived in the Caledonia community. I would like to locate descendants, or donate to your organization, provided you would like to have it. Z. Abramson

This is a list of Shadrick Walston’s (1775-1853) children that I have. John 1806-1870,
Frances Jane 1808-?, William 1813-1894, Mary -1819-?, Elizabeth E. 1820-?, Eliza E. 1822-1858, Samuel 1826-1908, Charity Ellen 1829-1914. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
M.L. Dailey, Sweet Water

I’m writing regarding the McIntosh Cemetery in Wilcox County. I’m trying to determine if I am a descendant of the Swene McIntosh, Sr. who is buried in this cemetery and am hopeful that someone in the Wilcox Historical Society may know some information about this cemetery, or the McIntosh family in Wilcox County. If so, I would appreciate that information or contacts. I’ve never been to your community but as someone who enjoys local history, it looks very beautiful. Thank you in advance, M. Pence, Atlanta, GA

Info on descendants of Leonidas Ratcliff and his daughter, Alice Ratcliff Godbold.
Is there anyone in this family still living in Wilcox County? I am specifically interested in the second wife of Leonidas. The second wife is
Elizabeth V Wilson born 1848. She married Leonidas in 1869 when she was 21/22 and he was 35. Elizabeth V Wilson is listed in the 1860 census living with William Hunt and his wife in The Western Division, Wilcox Co. Elizabeth is listed as 22 and her sister Ann is 14. William Hunt is an overseer. No relationships are given for the people in the household. My specific interest is in the two sisters. I thought perhaps descendants of Leonidas’s daughter Alice may have some knowledge of his second wife. If there is someone I can reach out to for help, I would appreciate your recommendations. M. Baldwin, Americus, GA

I’m looking for a contact for Old Snow Hill Cemetery. My understanding is that it is on private land, but I would like to visit when I’m in Alabama in a couple of weeks. If you know of anyone I can call, please let me know. I am descended from Gulleys, Lees, and Albrittons, so there should be a lot for me to see there!  My parents and I will be there around June 6. We plan to spend a few hours exploring Furman. 

I live in northwest Arkansas, and my parents live in southeast Arkansas.  We’re making a few stops in Mississippi and Alabama, and our Furman list includes Old Snow Hill Cemetery, Bethsaida Baptist Church, Wakefield plantation, and the Furman historical marker (since it lists some family names).  We’d be interested in any other recommendations you might have. R. Grear, Arkansas

EDITORS NOTE: Ms. Grear and her parents were met at Bethsaida Baptist Church by Don and Mary Charles Donald and enjoyed a tour of Furman.

Hello, I stumbled across your Wilcox Historical Society by accident. I am interested in hearing more about your society. I am curious if there are records that are accessible via internet or at a physical location. I am trying to gather as much info as I can about my family that resided in Pineapple, AL and the surrounding area for the second half of the 19th century. Names in my family include Lynam, Linam, Ptomey, Blankenship, Melton, Kyser, and Compton. Thank you. L. Lynam, Tuscan, AZ

Hello. I am related to the Bloxoms and they lived in Pine Apple in the 1800s.
Violet Bloxom is my 4th great grandmother. I am also related to the Blankenship and Mahan families of Wilcox County and I wanted to ask if anyone had any pictures of them or their relatives. I’m trying to start an ancestor book. T. Riley 

Comments about the Tour of Homes 2022

We made it there and had a GREAT time. Perfect day, beautiful homes, met so many great people.

So, is this something you do every year? If so, need to put on my calendar and get my daughter there. nsanedayne, Monroeville, AL

Dear Lance and all who helped,

You all really out did yourselves! The Tour was absolutely beautiful. Thank you all so much for all the hard work and for such a beautiful weekend not to mention the event of spring 2022. Every house had something unique to offer and inspire us. Bravo! Catherine G. ☼

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

  • Saturday, September 24, 2022, 7PM -Harvest Arts Concert, Wilcox Female Institute
  • Friday–Saturday, March 24–25, 2023, Tour of Homes, Pine Apple

A LOOK BACK…  

10 August 1844

Mobile Daily Advertiser (Mobile, Alabama)

Prairie Bluff, August 5, 1844

Mr. C. C. Langdon:

Dear Sir: I have for the last week been riding through Clarke, Monroe and Wilcox counties and have given particular attention to the prospects of the cotton crop, which up to the middle of last week I thought promised a more abundant crop than I have observed; but for the last three or four days I have met with no planter that did not complain of the ruinous effects of the bore worm on the cotton crop. At first, I paid but little attention to the cry, supposing and hoping that the planters were unnecessarily alarmed; but hearing so much of the cry, I determined to examine for myself, on doing which I have found the destruction even greater than I was persuaded that it was. I am now fully satisfied that the planters in this region will not realize the one-half of their expectation but a week ago. I send you a young boll and one of the destructive worms, that you may see their mode of operation.

This being election day, there are a goodly number of the farmers present from the prairies, who assure me that the worm is equally destructive with them. I have written this only with a view of giving the true prospect of the crop in this section of the State, as we are all interested in the actual state of the crop and its prospects.

Your ob’t sv’t &c.

21 October 1874

The Mobile Daily Tribune (Mobile, Alabama)

Valuable River Plantation

For Sale, 1470 acres of land, lying on the west side of the Alabama river, eight miles above the Lower Peach Tree, in Wilcox County, fronting two miles on the river, all of which is rich and productive. There is 450 acres cleared and under a good fence, and in a high state of cultivation, and will produce from 25 to 50 bushels of corn and from 1000 to 1500 pounds seed cotton to the acre. There is about 60 acres that is in cultivation that is above high-water mark, all second- and third-years land. There is on the place a good frame dwelling with 6 rooms and all other necessary outbuildings, good well of water in the yard, and several fine springs near the premises for general use. This plantation has superior advantages over most others on the river, as it is isolated and disconnected from any other plantation, and can with but little expense be made one of the best stock farms in South Alabama, as there is a fine summer range and an inexhaustible amount of cane for winter. This valuable place will be sold for $6,500 cash, worth $10,000. Titles perfect. Apply to The Graphic in Marengo County.

6 May 1926

Wilcox Progressive Era (Camden, Alabama)

McWilliams School Notes

Friday was “Teachers’ Day” at the McWilliams School, a day celebrated each year by the teachers, who entertain the pupils in their rooms. Miss Sallie Waren took the Primary Grades on a picnic to Schuster Springs on Friday afternoon, where they enjoyed games of different sorts and had ice cream and cake for refreshments. They returned home before sunset. Mrs. Maggie McArthur entertained the Grammar Grades at the school house Friday afternoon. Various games were played and prizes offered in the contests, which included running races, broad jump, musical chair and guessing games. Ice cream and cake were served as refreshments. Miss Olivia McArthur entertained the high school department Friday evening from 7:30 until 11 o’clock. Various games were enjoyed, and an ice course was served. The day was voted a huge success by both teachers and pupils.

A presentation of five-act comedy which would have been a credit to a professional cast, was given by the pupils of McWilliams high school Tuesday evening, May 4, at the school auditorium. This comedy, entitled “All Because of a Maid” was under the direction of Miss Olivia McArthur, the principal, assisted by her faculty, Mrs. Maggie McArthur and Miss Sallie Ethel Waren and by Prof. Edwin Hart, of Camden, several of whose pupils sang selections during the intermission. The play was enjoyed by a large and appreciative audience. There was not a poor performer in the entire cast, and the wonderful acting made each part a stellar role.

The plot deals with Alen Martin, a wealthy business man, who after being written up in The American Magazine, receives two letters and a cablegram. He gives a house party, which is phoned from the stage to The Wilcox Progressive Era. This party he finds a sarenuous affair, as the other girls keep him from being with Alice Lynn, a young lady from South America who was the subject of the cablegram. After various reports and misunderstandings, the guests depart, all save Alice. At last Alen found out that he is in love and the curtain falls on happy scene. The cast of characters are as follows: Alen Martin, Windsor Stillwell, Mrs. Hawkins, Clarice Mize, Alice Lynn, Edith Pettie, Abe Lynn, Jadie Garrett, Denny O’Neal, Young Moore, Tom Rogers, Ollie Stillwell, Sam Rogers, Louis Pierce, John Rogers, Fred Pettie, Harry Rogers, S.E. Waren, Miss Dean, Belma Melton, Arthur (Office Boy), Douglas Pettie, Mr. Green, Newton Smith, Mary Ann, Ruby Moore, Perkins, (butler), Edd Mac Philpot, Mrs. Pondexter Swan, Annie Lou Garrett, Mrs. Waldo Harris Jones, Willie Higdon, Annie Bell Jones, Maggie Wade Parker, Lecretia Jones, Elise Manderson, Mabel Swan, Alva Mims, Helena Swan, Edna Earl Hamilton, Florentia Swan, Alice McCants. Miss Olivia McArthur and her assistants may well be proud of the success of their undertaking, as it showed work and finished technique in the acting.    

26, April 1928

Wilcox Progressive Era

FURMAN NEWS

At the Methodist church Sunday morning Mr. Elison preached to a small congregation – bad weather kept many at home.

Mrs. Turberville of Century, Fla., spent a few days with her mother, Mrs. Streit last week.

The school concert was given Thursday night and the session closed Friday morning. The three teachers offered the school for next year. Miss Hines and Miss McNeill have accepted.

Trains were delayed Sunday night and Monday on account of damage by heavy rains done to the railroad tracks. Mr. John Cunningham and Mrs. Barlow were on the excursion train which had a long delay at Foshee on the return trip. We had no mails Monday.

All creeks in this section are overflowing. The rains and cold weather make a cotton crop a very doubtful proposition. Many cotton lands will have to be planted in corn.

Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Watson, Mr. and Mrs. N.O. Knight spent Sunday in the home of their brother, Dr. Walne Watson of Pine Apple. Dr. and Mrs. Watson had also as their guests, Mrs. Cross and Mrs. Denson of Birmingham, and Mr. Cecil Cross of Luverne. An elaborate turkey dinner was served.

            Clarence Watford came home from Shreveport with his father. He is cured but may have to go back for inspection in a few months.

            Messrs. J.N. Perdue and D. W. Watson are slowly improving.

Mr. Hearst did not go to Birmingham hospital as was reported. His daughter Mrs. Grimes and Mr. Grimes came for him but returned without him. He continues to be sick.

8 August 1942

The Mobile Weekly Advocate (Mobile, Alabama)

The History of the Rev F.C. Carstaphen

The Rev. Carstaphen was born in Monroe County, reared in Wilcox County. He confessed faith in Christ at an early age and was called to the ministry while young. He has been preaching for 49 years, pastored in Wilcox and Monroe counties, moved to Mobile, Alabama in 1923, organized the New Hope Bapt. Church on Pecan and Live Oak Streets, pastored the Morning Star Baptist Church 4 years, Macedonia Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla. After 5 years illness I resigned the pastorage and am doing evangelistic work for God and His Christ, teaching Bible school in my home each Wednesday from 8:30-9:30. I am 69 years old, never had a fight or been in court at anytime. There is, therefore, no discharge in the Christian warfare. “Fight on, my soul till death shall bring you to your God.”

Rev. F. C. Carstaphen

24 May 1945

Wilcox Progressive Era

Men of Wilcox County

Three or four weeks ago Greensboro, Alabama organized a State Guard Company. The maximum strength of any company is 83 men. Greensboro organized full strength having 14 men on their waiting list. On Monday night May 21, this company was visited by Capt. Fred Henderson, Lt. Wirt Moore, Sgt. Frank Cade, Sgt. Roland Cooper and Corp. Jim Richards of the Wilcox County Company. After the Greensboro Company was formed and the roll was called, we found that they had an attendance of 61 for that night. Several of their men were unable to come on account of serving on a jury. This company is made up of merchants, bankers, Judges, ministers, lawyers, farmers, laborers, and people from all walks of life, bound together with one common aim. Their ages ranges from 18 to 64.

The Wilcox Company has an enrollment of 55 men, with an average drill attendance. This is rather a small enrollment. Wilcox County should try to keep up with the best. This is certainly a challenge to our Company and to the men of Wilcox to increase our enrollment and attendance, so we are issuing an appeal to all men of Wilcox County from the age of 17 to 65, regardless of your station in life to fall out, join Wilcox Company, and help us have one of the best companies in the State of Alabama. We only meet one night a week for one- and one-half hours, so I am sure that you can give that much time to your county and to your State. Do not let Wilcox County be at the bottom of this list.

11 January 1951

Wilcox Progressive Era

Strange Animal Killed Near Alberta

Hunters and experts were puzzled over the identity of an animal killed by William Atkins, Alberta, last week during a deer drive on the B. F. Hicks’s place about three miles from Alberta. The animal seemed to be of the deer species, being antlered with a spread of three feet. It was white and pink-eyed, indicating that it was an albino, and weighed 235 pounds. It stood three and a half feet high.

Atkins killed the animal with two loads of buckshot when dogs drove it past his stand.

It was believed that it might have been one of the deer at large from the Henderson Bros. plantation at Millers Ferry, of which, there are said to be several hundred, but those deer attain a weight of only about a hundred pounds, it was said. 

K. E. Boykin, taxidermist and animal expert of Selma, was reported this week to be as perplexed as the hunters as to the animal’s identity. He was quoted as saying that there were many internal differences between the strange beast and any other animal he had ever seen, as well as the differences of external appearance.

The animal is being prepare for mounting, it was said and will probably be placed on exhibition.

24 January 1952

Wilcox Progressive Era

Neita Sellers

Neita Sellers, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Sellers of Upland, Calif., formerly of Camden, has one of the top roles in “The Come-On Man” presentation of the Valley Community Theatre at Claremont, California. The play opens a four-night run February 6 in Claremont.

In a rehearsal story last week, one of the Valley newspapers in commenting on Miss Sellers’ part in the play said:

“One of the top parts is that of Loretta, who changes from decorous maid to tough-talking underworld character when the guests aren’t around, played by Neita Sellers.” In the role, Miss Sellers is playing her second part for VCT. A resident of Ontario, she attended Chaffey College and played the part of St. Agnes in Saroyan’s “The Beautiful People”, and that of Mrs. Levi in “The Merchant of Yonkers”. During the war Miss Sellers was with the USO and did the choreography for the USO show, “About Face”. She traveled on the road one winter as a professional director with Empire Productions of Kansas City. 

Neita is a native of Camden, and is the granddaughter of Mrs. W.H. Fowler, of this city.

17 November 1959

The Selma Times-Journal (Selma, Alabama)

Camden – The “Tiger Rag,” a school paper published by students of Wilcox County High School, is in full swing with Alan Rogers as editor in chief.

Approximately seven issues will constitute the current school year’s publication. Cleverly designed free hand drawings, featuring relevant school and class news, editorials, sports section, quotes and of course “snoops” will feature the publication.

The “Tiger Rag” staff also includes: Eunice Coley, assistant editor; Rena Ray, business manager; Pie Selsor, art editor; Pete Miles, L.C. McMurphy and Bonnie Dean, news editors; Bob Vick, sports editor; Wanda Woo and Eustace McGoon, snoops editors; Eugenia Webb and Amy Smith, typists; Alice Ann Barlow, Billy Watson, Jewel Lampkin, Johnny Hybart, Dickey Curry and Sonny Smith, as circulation managers. ☼

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. ☼

Don’t forget!  Annual dues are $30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 for single. Dues are renewed in January.  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. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks! ☼

We would love to share your wedding anniversary photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages. In the last few weeks, we have enjoyed sharing the 70th anniversary of Harold and Virginia Grimes of Pine Apple, the 65th anniversary of Herb and Marian Furman of Camden and the 56th anniversary of Mitch and Jenny Britt of Huntsville. Just snail mail or email us a copy of the photo and information you would like shared. Anniversaries are days to celebrate the love that makes your marriage great. Let us help you celebrate!

Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2022

Lance Britt, President

Garland Cook Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson

Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary

Mary Margaret Fife Kyser, Treasurer

LaJunta “Pie” Selsor Malone, Curator

Martha Grimes Lampkin, Editor and Social Media Manager

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Winter 2022

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season with family and friends. We have an exciting 2022 ahead of us. We will build on last year’s unprecedented success to continue our positive impact in Wilcox County. Thank you all for being part of the team!

 Please plan on attending our next meeting, Sunday afternoon, February 20th, at 2:00 pm at the Female Institute. The Board will be presenting the renderings and floor plans for the expansion of the Institute. We have received four versions and after discussion and revisions have come up with an exciting product that preserves the original look of the building while making it functional for our current and future needs. We look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Thank everyone that has already contributed to this project. The WHS Classes of 1962 and 1963 gave a generous contribution to the Female Institute in honor of Governor Kay Ivey last month and others targeted year-end donations that were matched by their employers. In addition, we are continuing to explore grant options to help us raise the needed funds to complete this important project.

As if that were not enough, many of you have given generously in memory of WHS Member Palmer Hamilton. Your contributions will go toward the preservation of our historic buildings which he was so passionate about. Thank you all for honoring his legacy.

Our Tour of Homes in Historic Furman with Guest Speaker P. Allen Smith is right around the corner! Ticket sales online have been quite strong thus far with a majority of tickets sold being our Friday/Saturday VIP Ticket. Tickets are now available locally in Camden at The Pecan on Broad, Fox and Hen, and in Oak Hill at The Brittany House Antiques. I strongly suggest you get your tickets early as the Friday Night Reception is on track to sell out.

We need your help working as home guides this year. There will be shifts, so you will have plenty of time to see the homes on Tour. Ms. Mary Glen Grant is our volunteer coordinator this year. She can be reached at maryglengrant@protonmail.com. Please help us make the Tour a great success by volunteering!

I am happy to announce the continuation of our Concert Series in 2022! We are currently planning a concert in April/May and one in July as well. Your support of these special events has allowed us to continue to bring great music to Wilcox County. It is our plan to expand these special events to allow children from our schools to experience the music during the day before the evening concerts. We will release the dates as soon as they are available.

Finally, I would encourage everyone to visit the Pieces of History Exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Pieces of History tell the story of early 19th century Southerners and what they moved with them, purchased, made, and used while they made homes and lives and includes pieces of furniture and stories from Wilcox County. I had the pleasure of seeing the exhibition in New Orleans and it is really fantastic. It is in Montgomery until April 10th.

We made great strides in 2021 and have big plans this year. Make sure to renew your membership to continue to be a part of this special organization. Thank you for your support and I hope to see all of you on February 20th!

Sincerely,

Lance Britt, WHS President      

WELCOME to new members: from Alabama –John and Lou Harmon of Pine Apple, Governor Kay Ivey of Montgomery, and Gill and Robyn Deitheim of Birmingham. And welcome to new member Jeri Jones of Commerce City, Colorado!

And welcome to new Life Members –Linn and Trisha Pritchett of Minter, Alabama! Thank you all for joining the WHS!

TOUR OF HOMES UPDATE 

As you know, our Tour of Homes in Furman is Saturday, March 26th with a Welcome Reception Friday night, March 25th. To date, we have already sold over $10,000 in tickets to this year’s Tour. With your help we will make this year’s Tour another success.

There are two tickets this year. Our VIP Ticket is $100 and gets you in to both the Welcome Reception Friday night at Wakefield and Saturday’s Tour. The standard ticket is $50 and is a Saturday only ticket. WHS Members receive a $10 discount on their tickets when you purchase them locally. The discount is not available through eventbrite.com. All ticket holders will get breakfast at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill Saturday morning from 8:30 – 10:00.

The weekend starts for our VIP Guests with Friday night’s Cocktail Reception at Wakefield in Furman at 6:00 pm with Guest Speaker P. Allen Smith, renown Landscape Designer, speaking at 7:00. The Pecan on Broad will be providing all the hor d’oeuvres, wine, and other refreshments. We are very thankful for their continued support as a Platinum Sponsor of Tour this year as well as the Fox and Hen. Valet parking will be provided at Wakefield Friday night.

This year’s Tour will feature eight homes and two churches as well as other historical buildings in Furman. Homes on tour include the Moore-Burson-Rushing Home, c. 1885; Wakefield Plantation, c. 1840s; Magnolia Glen – the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, c. 1833; Laura Ann – the Watson-Moorer-Tabor Home, c. 1860; Rockwood – the Cox-Robbins-Kennedy-Snyder Home, c. 1855; Deerfield – the Perdue-Williams-Estes-Suggs Home, c. 1895; Fox Hill, c. 1840s; and Patience Plantation, c. 1841. The churches on tour are Bethsaida Baptist Church, c. 1858 and Furman Methodist Church, c. 1857.

All guests, including WHS Members, will register at Furman Methodist Church (across the street from the Post Office) upon arrival either Friday or Saturday to receive their arm band for the weekend.

As previously mentioned, we need your help as house guides this year. You will have time before or after your shift to see the other homes on Tour and you will be given the information about your assigned home in advance so you will know what to share with our guests. Please contact Mary Glen Grant to volunteer. She can be reached at maryglengrant@protonmail.com.  We need your help!

Laura Ann – the Watson-Moorer-Tabor Home, Furman, Alabama

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – Laura and Kent Tabor

We met in January, 1974. I was attending Riverside Military Academy; she was attending public school. I informed Rita, Laura’s mom, that I was going to marry their daughter when we graduated. 

We married right after high school, 1976. We spent the first two years of our married life in Germany, I was in the Army Military Police, and discharged from the Army in 1979 after serving my obligation. While there we were impressed at the history and age of things around us. We visited many old castles and villages.

Kandace was born in Germany, 1978, and was seven weeks premature. Kelli was born in 1981 in Michigan. We have five grandchildren ranging in age from 10 to 15.

Laura and I worked together off and on, in the family business in Michigan until 1982 when we left for sunny Florida. Laura worked in Port Everglades and I learned to install carpet and then run a warehouse. In 1985 we moved back to Michigan. I went back to school during the nights and Laura worked days for a company in the accounting department. I got my Bachelors in Business Management and shortly thereafter re-joined the family business where I stayed for the next twenty-five years. Laura worked in our accounting department for many years. When the girls entered high school, Laura decided she would remain home. When we sold the business in 2017, we had over one hundred employees.

We have always been drawn to older homes that seem comfortable and in need of a little TLC. The majority of homes we owned have been at least 100 years old.

We also enjoy attending auctions that feature antiques and unusual items.

While deer hunting in Eufaula in 2017, I really liked the feeling of Alabama and the South. We talked about finding a small place in Alabama but did not really pursue that idea.

We found Furman by a twist of fate.

In 2018 we booked a hog hunt in Beatrice, Monroe County, Alabama.  While there I had my lap top out and was looking for available land. It turned out that our host was also a real estate agent. Laura and I both wanted something small and manageable. The agent kept taking us to properties that did not fit with what we were imagining. 

Laura has joined me on many hunts and has often been the only woman at camp. She gets along with people and has helped recover harvested animals. (Ask her about Newfoundland someday.)

We were browsing the internet when we came upon the Moorer house being sold through Great Southern Land Company in Camden. Our agent reached out to Don Donald and set up a meeting. We toured Furman first, and Mr. Donald pointed out many of the homes and gave us some history about the area. Our first positive note was Don’s welcoming attitude.

When the Moorer house came into view it was an “Oh wow!” moment. I looked at Laura and said, SOLD. She told me to hold on. As we approached the house, I noticed that Laura was very interested and knew that we had found our winter home. The house was not in great shape but as they say “the bones are good.” The hand planed walls and the circa 1855 build date were an added bonus.

We made an offer on the home and it was accepted. Soon afterwards we met Pastor Don Bell and attended Bethsaida Church. We immediately felt accepted by the congregation and the community.

Out initial intention for the house was a modest clean-up and upgrading of structure. Ha.

Laura and I contacted Don Bell to help us move the stairway out of the dogtrot. That was the beginning of over a year long restoration of the house. We installed all new plumbing, wiring and HVAC and a front and back porch. The original structure has been shored up and repaired where needed; all piers under the house were replaced. The heart pine floors were repaired (there had been some termite damage). Four fireplaces were constructed in their original locations. Mortises and pegs hold the original structure together. The septic system was replaced when we inadvertently let trucks delivering 32,000 bricks for fireplace and pier repairs crush our septic field. The fence in front of the house is of period design and is made of almost 1,000 pickets! It is a work in progress.

We are keeping the original house as close to period as possible. Our living space is attached to the back of the house. With the help of Lance Britt and Brittany House Antiques, we have been slowing furnishing the house. Our home, named Laura Ann, is pictured at the beginning of this article.

We are also in the process of renovating the old Hunt House, acquired in 2019 in Furman with the intention of making it an Airbnb. It was constructed sometime in the late 1800s. The house will be a mixture of old and new. The original part of the house will be put back as close to period as possible and the addition will be updated. The house was in terrible shape when purchased. The back roof had holes in it and the floor was rotted. Every time it rained there was a creek running under the house! All of this has been remediated. With Don Bell’s help we replaced the entire back wall of the house when we found the base had rot and was structurally unsound. The house should be complete sometime late March 2022.

From there we will begin a modest update of the Speir’s home in Furman. We are not sure yet how in depth the renovation will be.

We now live in Furman year-round. We love the feeling of community. Laura and I were baptized in 2020 at Bethsaida Church in the newly discovered baptismal; the first baptisms to take place there in over a hundred years.   

Furman National Historic District

A HISTORY OF FURMAN

As written on the Furman National Historic District historical marker that was erected by the Alabama Tourism Department and the Community of Furman in April 2010.

Representing 10,300 acres with 73 buildings, and 14 structures, the Furman Historic District, encompassing Old Snow Hill Road, Wilcox County Road 59, Burson Road, and AL 21, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 13, 1999. The town’s history began circa 1802 when the first settlers came to the area from South Carolina. Most of the Wilcox County towns, including Furman, were settled by Scottish, Irish, and English, however, some of the early settlers of Furman also came from the South Carolina low country and were of French ancestry. In the early 1800s, the William Snow family settled on a high hill north of present-day Furman, now the site of Old Snow Hill Cemetery. Thus, the early community was known as Snow’s Hill. It was renamed Furman in 1872 after the town of Furman, South Carolina. A new community was founded a few miles to the west and named Snow Hill. Furman Academy was a popular school in the late 1800s with students from across the state.

Most of the earliest settlers came from the Carolinas. Family groups included, among others, the Albrittons, Carters, Lees, Palmers, Purifoys, Gulleys, McCondiches, Bursons, Hearsts, Stablers, Powells, and the Simpsons after the Civil War. The town’s most notable citizens have included persons such as Elkanah Burson, an attaché to General Robert E. Lee and John Purifoy, a member of Company C who later served Alabama as Secretary of State. Mr. Burson, an original member of the Wilcox True Blues Company, delivered the Confederacy surrender papers to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox. He returned home to Furman and later served in the Alabama House of Representatives. Direct descendants of these original settlers have continued to own homes and property in Furman. Landmarks include Trails End, Patience Plantation, Wakefield Plantation, Fox Hill Plantation, Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, McCondiche-Stabler Home, Purifoy-Lipscomb Home, Perdue-Williams-Estes Home, Watson-Moorer Home, Burson-Rushing Home, Robbins-Kennedy Home, Bethsaida Baptist Church, Furman Methodist Church, and Hopewell Church.

D O N A T I O N S

Many thanks for your gifts and continuing support!

In Honor of Governor Kay Ivey for the Wilcox Female Institute Restoration Project from the Wilcox County High School Class of 1962 and the Wilcox County High School Class of 1963

In Honor of Arthur Joe Grant from Bud and Penny Selsor

In Honor of Garland Smith from Peggy Heard Galis and Henry and Carolyn Ray

To Be Used for the Wilcox Female Institute Restoration Project from Pippa Nicholson-Kuenn

In Memory of Palmer Hamilton from Mr. and Mrs. Jason Puckett, Mr. Thomas C. McGehee, Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop Smith, The Pecan on Broad – Mr. Chris Bailey and Mr. Ryan Dunagan, Mr. and Mrs. George Patton Kyser, Mr. and Mrs. Brock Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Peck, and Mr. and Mrs. Schley Rutherford

A memorial, birthday, anniversary or just a nice way to say thank you can be done in a donation to the Wilcox Historical Society. Your donation is tax deductible. Donations can be mailed to: WHS, P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 or contact our Treasurer, Mary Margaret Kyser for more details. She can be reached at 334.324.9353 or m2kyser54@aol.com.

WHS November Meeting

Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour

On Sunday afternoon, November 14th, a large crowd of members and guests of the WHS gathered at the historical Wilcox Female Institute in Camden to hear Jeff Mansell, Lead Historian, of the Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez, Mississippi. A native of Pickens, Mississippi, Mansell spent 21 years directing private, non-profit preservation organizations across the country prior to his being at Natchez. A wonderful program about travel in the antebellum era by Southern travelers and the objects they acquired on their European journeys was given by Mansell. Mrs. Pie Malone had a wonderful array of food for all at the reception following the presentation. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

WHS CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE AT WAKEFIELD

Wakefield was the site of our annual Christmas Open House Saturday, December 4th. Mrs. Pie Malone provided wonderful holiday food that included homemade gingerbread cookies. The home was adorned with four live Christmas trees, live garlands, greenery, and poinsettias throughout in preparation for a photo shoot the following Monday for the 2022 Christmas issue of Victoria Magazine. The beautiful floral arrangements were the creation of Ryan Dunagan. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon and getting to see the house decorated for Christmas.

The Wilcox Historical Society would like to thank Dr. Sylvia Burson-Rushing and Mr. Tom Rushing for once again opening their beautiful home for us. They have spent the last eighteen months working on the restoration of Wakefield’s interior and have brought many original pieces back to their historic home. We look forward to seeing their efforts showcased in Victoria Magazine later this year and at the Welcome Reception in March!

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS IN CAMDEN

The Female Institute was once again host to the Harvest Arts Duo on December 17th and 18th. Hannah and Madeline amazed us all with the premier of their first Christmas album. The chocolate pie at intermission was a big hit as well. Over two hundred people enjoyed one of their five visits to Wilcox County last year! They plan to return in 2022 to not only perform evening concerts, but also do events for our schools as well. We look forward to their return and expanding the Concert Series this year.


PIECES OF HISTORY EXHIBITION

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is the final stop of the Pieces of History Exhibition that includes furniture and stories from right here in Wilcox County! It was organized by the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Project highlighting their best finds from the last ten years of documenting objects in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. They visited Wilcox County during the summer of 2017. Their director, Sarah Duggan, has spoken at two of our meetings in recent years. We encourage you to attend this special exhibition that runs until April 10, 2022 at the MMFA.

THE MMFA’S DESCRIPTION In the early 19th century, the American South was the destination for the earliest settlers who ventured from the Eastern seaboard to what was then considered to be “the west” to find land and opportunity. Some came by choice—seeking new business opportunities, to establish homes and families—others were brought with them, without choice, as property. But each of them left their marks in the land and in the culture of the Gulf South.

Pieces of History tells the story of these people and what they moved with them, purchased, made, and used while they made homes and lives. What we today call “decorative arts” or “material culture” convey their legacies, in many ways speaking more eloquently than the rare written words which survive the centuries. Their domestic furnishings, whether elegant or humble, speak to the routines of daily life and bring places distant in time back into focus. Many objects are familiar and have counterparts in our own lives, while others have lost their usefulness or significance in modern societies.

The exhibition will recreate spaces that were found in homes of the 19th-century Gulf South with furnishings that would have been used there. In the homes of the wealthy, these furnishings were often shipped great distances, from Eastern seaboard cities such as Boston or Philadelphia, through the ports of Mobile or New Orleans, making their way by ship over sea and river to rooms in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana. In other cases, furnishings locally crafted sought to mimic the styles of these imported pieces with more rudimentary craftsmanship.

The exhibition was organized by the staff and fellows of the Decorative Arts of the Gulf South Project housed at the Historic New Orleans Collection, which researches and maintains records of decorative arts found in the early 19th-century Gulf South. In Montgomery, theshow isexpanded to include loans of furnishings and materials from Alabama’s Black Belt and the central Alabama region from the collections of the Landmarks Foundation of Montgomery, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and private lenders.

First Baptist Church, Pine Apple

History of the First Baptist Church, Pine Apple, Alabama

By Patricia Westbrook and James Suggs

The First Baptist Church, Pine Apple, Alabama was established in 1898 as the colored, First Baptist Church. It has been in existence for 123 years and is still in the original location. The original building became delipidated and had to be replaced. However, the doors to the fellowship hall, the banister that divides the choir stand, and some of the lumber is from the original building.

Although the church was founded in 1898 and erected with the permission of the owner of the land, the land was officially donated by J.T. Adams and his wife, Pauline Davidson Adams on September 7, 1949. The Adams originally donated one acre, which encompasses the church building and cemetery. In later years the Adams family donated another acre for room to grow.

The building on site was built in 1969. The church bell that stands in the tower to this day is the original bell from the old building. Furnishings and other items that are still in use from the original church are the ladder back choir chairs and the communion set, with glasses.

The deacons that were instrumental in establishing the church were: Dec. Curtis Hardaway, Dec. Johnny Stanford, and Dec. John Palmore.  In later years, the church service was led by Rev. Holt, Rev. N.P Smith, and Rev. Isaiah Posey. As the church grew, other deacons that served the church included Dec. Howard Mahan, Dec. Moses Suggs, Sr., Dec. Zelvis Hines, Dec. Leeguster Arnold, Dec. Edwards, Dec. Blackmon, and Dec. Tommy Arnold. At the present, deacons are Dec. Prince Arnold, Chairman, Dec. James Suggs, Co-Chairman, Dec. Moses Arnold and Dec. Henry Blackmon.

THE STORY OF YELLOW BLUFF, ALABAMA –

COMMUNITY AND POST OFFICE

By Ila S. Shamburger, postmaster

Yellow Bluff, in Wilcox County, Alabama was a river landing on the Alabama River and was named for the steep red or yellow clay bank just below the landing.

Mr. James (Jim) McCall was the first postmaster.

The Reverend George Fontaine lived in the house on the river bank before Mr. McCall, the first postmaster, occupied it. Rev. Fontaine was my husband’s grandfather. He moved out into the hills.

Mr. McCall had several children. A son, Dan McCall (who was born at Yellow Bluff landing), lived at Thomasville, Ala. One son, John McCall brought his father to visit the cemetery several years ago. People still gather at the cemetery on the second Friday in July each year to cut the bushes and clean off enough so that the graves are visible. Several graves have been marked in recent years. A fence is maintained around the cemetery. Mr. McCall sold his home and moved to Pine Hill.

Mr. Pat Matheson was the second postmaster. He married Miss Lucy Gaines of Lower Peach Tree. He passed several years ago. “Miss Lucy” moved to Birmingham. She was past 90.

J.P. Shamburger was the third postmaster. His sister, Mrs. M.L. Kirven bought the McCall house. After college and nursing training she married Dr. McLean Pitts. Mrs. Pitt’s grandmother was Helen C. Norris Shamburger.

Robert Lee Hawthorne of Camden was the next postmaster.

During the years of the Civil War there were a number of families at the river landing and out in the hills about two miles away. Some of the families were: Dr. Oats, Redden Tyler, several families of Sheffields, Dr. Williams, Alfred and Gus Bright, Mr. Joe Bryan, the Hamp Jordan family, the Griffins or Griffiths (who moved to Texas), J.R. Davis, and his sister, Alice, Rev. George Fontaine, William Kirven (of Jefferson) who married Mary Lee Shamburger, Walter and Bob Kirk, who were nephews of J.R. Davis, a Mrs. Betty Sheffield, a widow, who had a son, Frank and a daughter Alice. Alice went to Coy. Frank went to Clarke County.

When you walk through the cemetery you read: McNeil, Tom Nettles, Jordan, Wright, Tyler, Daniels, George Mayton and his wife Elizabeth and small daughter, Martin Dumas, Mrs. Ella Pitts, the daughter of William and Mary Kirven and sister of Oscar Shamburger Kirven (his grave, like a number of others, is unmarked). Dr. John Godbold’s mother and sister Lily and infant are among the graves in the old cemetery. Lily Godbold was the wife of Gus Bright.

In 1909 there were 20 families in the hills.

The Mt. Andrew Church was first a Methodist church. Mt. Pisgah, at Bethel, about three miles away, was Baptist. As years went by, people moved. There were not enough Methodists left to keep the church going. Many Baptists moved their membership from Pisgah to Pine Hill. The Baptists that were left at Yellow Bluff bought the church building from the Methodists and had prayer services and preaching (once a month). Rev. Tom Paul from Grove Hill was the last pastor.

The hills now show little signs of any people who ever lived there. 

Editor’s Note: The Story of Yellow Bluff, Alabama – Community and Post Office history was first published in the July, 1958 issue of The Bama Postmaster. It was reprinted in the Alabama Genealogical Society’s Volume 20 – Nos 3 & 4, 1988 magazine, pages 109-110.  With permission of the AGS, it is included in this issue of our newsletter.

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.   

Rosemary Plantation

ROSEMARY PLANTATION AND ITS PEOPLE

WILCOX COUNTY, ALABAMA

By Carter Fowlkes

The lovely and serene Rosemary Plantation sits near the Alabama River, about 10 miles northwest of Camden.  The home was built circa 1856 by Peter E. Mathews and his wife Virginia on roughly 2,000 acres of land planted originally in cotton.  Mathews’ father, Col. Charles L. Mathews, moved to Alabama from Goose Pond, Georgia soon after Alabama became a state in 1819 with his four sons, and began acquiring land.  Each son became a successful planter himself.  Oldest son George William Mathews (1807-1880) is buried beneath a large monument in the Camden Cemetery with his wife Lucy Mayhew.  The two other sons were Joel E. and Thomas M. Mathews.

The Peter Mathews Family

Virginia was the oldest child of Martha Hatcher and Fielding Vaughan of Cambridge, Dallas County, Alabama. (now Crumptonia).  She and Peter had three daughters.  Daughter Virginia died at age 7 in 1854 and Anna died three weeks later at age 12.  Peter died in 1856 at age 39.  The last daughter, Martha, known as Mattie, survived childhood and married Nathaniel Rives Chambliss in 1865, only to die two months after her wedding.  All four were buried in the Joel E. Mathews family cemetery near Cahaba.  But Virginia continued to manage family lands, including Rosemary, during her widowhood.  

Anna Gayle Fry in her book “Memories of Old Cahaba” describes the antebellum formal balls held in Cahaba and mentions “Mrs. Virginia Mathews in her point lace and diamonds, with the air and manner of an empress.”

Virginia Vaughan Mathews

Virginia lived on alone until her death in 1891.  In her Will she directed that her daughters and husband all be exhumed and reburied with her in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma.  That was done by her nephew and co-executor, Sam Fowlkes (the author’s great-grandfather) at a cost to her estate of over $1,200 to move the bodies and monuments.  They all rest in Live Oak today.

Rosemary, then known simply as “The Mathews Place” was inherited by nephew Frank Cade in 1897.  He lived there until his death in 1935. His wife Mary lived there almost until her death in 1962. Frank Cade Jr. moved back into Rosemary in 1968 until his own death in 1987.  So, the place was owned and occupied by the same family for 131 years.  In 1989 Watson Jones of Camden purchased the 2,000-acre plantation from the Frank Cade estate.  Today it is owned by his son Brock Jones of Tuscaloosa, who is conscientiously slowly restoring it, being mindful and appreciative of its long history.  Rosemary is presently rented to a hunting club.

In 1970 Frank Cade Jr. wrote a brief history of Rosemary, based on his own experiences and stories of his parents.  Shortly after moving in around 1900, his mother Mary named it Rosemary, not after her roses or her own name, but for the fragrant herb, since “Rosemary means remembrance.”  Mary also undertook to enlarge the one-story house, adding a second story and large staircase around 1900-1905.  The staircase is unusual in that it rises from the middle of the main hallway to the upper level.  Her objective, Frank recalled, was to screen the view out the back of the main hall, consisting of outbuildings and objects she thought detracted from the view.  She did have a large flower garden too, plus roses that lined both sides of the driveway for more than a mile. 

Frank also described a Sunday school class for the African Americans living on the property that his mother ran for over 40 years.  He attended at times himself and recalls the joyous hymns and Bible education that the children received.

Shipping up and down the river would stop at the floating dock near the house known as “Mattie’s Landing.”   The Miller’s Ferry dam nearby has changed the configuration of the river at Rosemary, but the area of the landing still exists.

Mattie Mathews Chambliss

Mattie Mathews Chambliss’ portrait as a young lady, hangs in Sturdivant Hall in Selma today.  She had no connection to Sturdivant, but Cade donated the portrait in 1960 and Sturdivant uses the portrait to represent antebellum life in the Black Belt.

Rosemary Plantation has 165 years of storied history and a bright future as well!

Carter Fowlkes was born in Selma in 1944 and lives in Atlanta.  His great, great grandmother Mary Fielding Vaughan Cobb was a sister of Virginia Vaughan Mathews.  His great grandparents, Pinkie and Samuel Fowlkes, lived in Rehoboth.  Samuel was a member of the Wilcox County Revenue Commission and was elected to the state legislature in the 1880s as a representative from Wilcox County.   Carter has enjoyed, in retirement, exploring his Wilcox County connections. 

Carter thanks Brock Jones, who also contributed to this article. 

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 writing a book on the July 6, 1863 Battle of Hagerstown, Maryland during the Confederate withdrawal from Gettysburg. I have found reference to a 2 LT William W. Williams, a native of Allenton, Alabama, who was killed on July 5 between Smithsburg and Boonsboro, Maryland. He enlisted in the US Army artillery in 1859, and in late 1862 he was discharged to accept a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in Battery E, 4th US Artillery. I am finding precious little on this individual. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. S. Bockmiller, Waynesboro, PA

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shared with Mr. Bockmiller was the following information: Found in the 1830 US Federal Census for Wilcox County was William Williams. Also found was reference to the Last Will & Testament of William Williams. His Estate was to be kept together until the death of his wife or she remarries. If she remarries, she is to receive an equal portion with the children Milly Malinda, William W., Mary E., Iduma, Edward B. & Prudence A. Williams. Executors to be Isaac & Henry Newberry with Witnesses Edward Bowin, E.H.J. Motley & U.C. Banks. Signed 4/8/1847. Proven 6/21/1847

Do you have information about a National Geographic article about the courthouse in Camden, AL? I don’t know a date for the article, possibly 1940s, 50s or 60s. Thank you for any help you can provide. E. Goltry, Beaver Dams, NY

II know it’s been a LONG time since I contacted you about the Bloxom family. Albert Bloxom moved to Louisiana with his family sometime after the war and after his trip to Brazil. I come through the line of his son named Seneca Bloxom. Albert Bloxom was a son of Washington Bloxom. I am hopefully going to visit Wilcox County between Nov 13-18, 2021. I am so excited to visit and see exactly where my relatives lived. I know you wrote that your parents actually own the old Bloxom house (which is so amazing to me). I know with this Covid stuff I probably won’t be able to go inside the house, but I’d like to drive by. Is there a way you could give me the address to the old house? Are there any places I should visit while I’m here? B. Dolan, LA

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Washington Bloxom house, circa 1840s, is located on County Road 7 in Pine Apple. It is owned by WHS Members, Harold and Virginia Grimes. When Wiley Watts and Elizabeth Thigpen married in 1868, James Thigpen, Elizabeth’s father, bought and gave it to her for her wedding dowry. Wiley Watts is the great, great grandfather of Harold Watts Grimes. Ms. Dolan was also directed to the Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery in Pine Apple where several members of the Bloxom family are buried.

Email Comment from WHS Member:

I felt the urge to write and tell you how great the WHS is doing.  I remember the start of this organization around “saving the Female Institute” for which my grandmother Lena Tucker Miller Albritton was so dedicated! She would be amazed today and by bearing her name (and I cherish this) I am proud to be a member. Her biggest disappointment back in the 1970s was the destruction of the Train Depot building.  So glad Pine Hill saved the one there.  

Fast forward to today and I dream of a time we will be closer to Wilcox County so Sam and I can take part in all the various activities.  Thank you for all you do for the wonderful organization! L. Hall, Alexandra, VA

From a WHS Facebook post from RuralSWAlabama.org of the Hawthorne House in Pine Apple

So much history! We would visit Gladys Hawthorne and enjoy her stories. J. Melton

So beautiful! S. Matrango

From a WHS Facebook post from RuralSWAlabama.org of the Tait-Starr Home aka White Columns in Possum Bend

The J.M.W. Turner connection is magical! B. Barrett

From a WHS Facebook post shared from Lee Peacock – “News Highlights from 100-year-old editions of the Wilcox Progressive Era newspaper in Camden, Alabama from January 1922” featuring a current photo of Coast to Coast in Camden (formerly Matthews Hardware)

Always enjoy stopping in the former Matthews Hardware. My grandmother’s brother, Hunter McDuffie, married Bess Matthews in 1933 and sadly died in 1941. Buried in Camden Cemetery. T. McGehee

From a WHS Facebook and Instagram post for Tombstone Tuesday of Elkanah George Burson, MD (1882-1970)

I remember Dr. Burson well. Mother would take me to Furman when I was sick to see Dr. Burson. Sometimes she would use Dr. Burson, sometimes Dr. Thompson in Pine Apple and sometimes Dr. Paul in Camden. bethyoder14

He delivered my mother-in-law when they lived in the cottage. melanie.andress.3

Our family doctor, we loved him. M.F. Nichols

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

  • Sunday, February 20, 2022, 2PM – WHS Meeting, Wilcox Female Institute
  • Friday–Saturday, March 25–26, 2022, Tour of Homes, Furman

A LOOK BACK…  

30 December 1896

Wilcox Progressive Era

Miss Bessie Lee Marshall, a charming young lady who has been attending the Wilcox Female Institute, has returned home at Perdue Hill to the regret of her many friends.

We regret to learn of the serious illness of Mr. W.R. Alford and Dr. W.M. Bryant of Canton. They are both improving under the skillful attention of Drs. Jones.

Hon. W. W. McConnico of Allenton, Ex-Sheriff Herrington of Monroe County, Mr. Enoch Burson of Fatama, and many of our county citizens were in the city last Monday.

17 January 1901

Wilcox Progressive Era

Oak Hill Items

Several of our agriculturalists, who had begun plowing, had to suspend, on account of excessive rains.

Mr. Sam Grace, of Bell’s Landing, has been visiting relatives at Oak Hill.

It is said that our colonial forefathers cured headaches by kissing a pretty girl. How would the girls like such treatment now?

Master Jodie Hall Jones left after the holidays to enter the Marion Military Institute.

Mrs. Nettie Booth, nee McBryde, of Glendon, Ala. visited her mother and relatives, at Oak Hill, and on returning, was accompanied by her mother Mrs. L.A. McBryde.

Wanted: – A passable, (not a good) road, from Oak Hill to Allenton Depot. In wanting this, I trust the reader will not think the writer selfish, in leaving out other roads. Wanting and wishing, for good roads, seems to be all that is, or can be, done; and those interested in the road question, must do their own wanting and wishing. With few exceptions, our roads are a disgrace to the county.

Mr. and Mrs. Claude Jones, of Mount Hope, have been visiting relatives in our midst.

We are pleased to report the convalescence of Mrs. Dr. Perdue, visiting at Nadawah, who has been seriously ill with typhoid fever.

Mr. J.H. McWilliams and family, and Mr. Geo Kyser, attended the Hill-Melton wedding at Pine Apple.

Mr. Clarence B. Jones and bride, formerly Miss Janie Harper, of Rosebud, left on the 5th inst., for their home in the Lone Star State. The bride’s host of friends regret to see her departure.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Martin have moved to McWilliams to take charge of the hotel, recently erected at that place. Mrs. T.M. McWilliams and family, have moved from their plantation into the home vacated by Mr. Martin.

One of our young men, who is on “the carpet” says that in every one hundred letters written by the fair sex, 99 of them have postscripts, are written on the margins and across the lines.

Did you have the bears, monkeys and Turks, with you Mr. Editor? We did, and some of our young Caucasians evidently were so much smitten with the show, that they wanted to be clowns and try the trapeze.

18 December 1902

Wilcox Progressive Era

New Bank

A new and the first incorporated Bank in Wilcox County was determined on in Pine Apple on 13th inst. The amt. of subscribed capital required by law has been secured and cash paid in capital of $15000.00 has been secured mostly by local parties. The bank will open for business in a short while. The personnel of the organization stamps it as a success in the beginning. The officers will be: W.H. Lloyd – President, J.I. Adams – Vice President, H.C. DuBose – Cashier. Directors: W.H. Grimes, Henry Melton, Jno Miller, J.S. Patterson, Claude Hardy, W.R. Mills, J.F. Melton.

Watch out for dividends and surplus and the advance of stock on the market.

11 August 1933

Greenville Advocate

Dr. and Mrs. P.V. Speir were hosts last Thursday to a large crowd of Wilcox and Butler County friends at their plantation near Furman. Mr. and Mrs. Wyeth Speir and Mr. and Mrs. Will Faison had prepared a barbecue dinner, which was served under the moss-covered cedar trees in the large pasture.

After the dinner, which consisted of barbecued meats, Brunswick stew, pickles, sliced tomatoes, salads, cold drinks and cake, all deliciously prepared, and served picnic style, Dr. Speir called on a number of guests for talks. Circuit Judge Gamble, Probate Judge McLeod of Wilcox and Probate Judge Golson of Butler, Tax Assessor Watts of Wilcox and Tax Collector Calhoun of Butler and others made interesting short talks.

Hon. D.M. Powell was the principal speaker, and he made a most enjoyable address, reminiscing of the days of his boyhood spent in the neighborhood where the barbecue took place.

Judge Purifoy, of Furman, introduced Dr. Philip Speir, who has recently returned to Greenville, after completing medical college and hospital training to join with his father in the practice of medicine here. Mr. Purifoy stated that Furman gave Greenville one of her best citizens when Dr. Speir came here, and is giving one of the “finest boys that ever lived” in young Dr. Speir.

The large crowd was served bountifully of the barbecue dinner, and then the plantation “hands” were fed. A third group to be given dinner was the crowd of Negros from nearby plantations who had gathered at the scene of the barbecue, probably drawn there by the smell of meats and stew as it was cooked in the open.  

12 March 1942

Wilcox Progressive Era

Furman P.T.A.

PTA met at the school house Tuesday, at 4 p.m. with Mrs. M.L. Knight presiding. The minutes and financial report were given and old business dispensed with.

Plans were completed for entertainment and supper Friday night, March 13th. Hank Williams and his band will be here. Supper will be sold before entertainment.

Those present were: Mrs. J.S. Williams, Mrs. W.G. Williams, Mrs. P. Newsome, Mrs. J.P. Cunningham, Mrs. Mary Griffin, Mrs. M.L. Knight, Mrs. R.F. Ray, and one visitor Mrs. Paul Shanks.

Everybody is invited to come early Friday night.

18 February 1962

Wilcox Progressive Era

What’s Done in School

Wilcox Female Institute

The information about the Wilcox Female Institute at Camden was taken from Mrs. M.E. Curtis’s scrapbook. According to this scrapbook a copy of the deed for the Institute shows that the indenture was made and entered into June 29, 1850, transferring the property from John P. Fairley and his wife Martha Fairley and James A. Tait to L.W. Mason, Joseph George, and their associate stockholders of the Wilcox Female Institute. This paper was assigned before John H. Jackson, probate judge of Wilcox County. The price of the land for the site of the Institute was $400. When efforts were made to raise $10,000 for the erection of the building, people pledged amounts varying from $25.00 to $200.00

—-

In January 1851, the newspaper, The Southern Republic, carried the notice of the first year of the school. The Board of Visitors of this institution take pleasure in announcing to the patrons and to the public that the institution, having almost completed five months of the first session, is in a most prosperous and flourishing condition. The second term of the session will begin the second Monday in February. The Institute will be continued under the management of its founder and present able principal, Mrs. Upson. Mrs. Maxwell and Mrs. Reynolds will be associated with Mrs. Upson. The boarding house connected with the establishment will be continued under the management of Mrs. L.W. Mason, who has given, so far, entire satisfaction. Tuition rates for a five months’ term are as follows: Primary Classes $10.00, More Advanced Classes $15.00, Higher English $18.00, The Languages, ancient and modern, $15.00, Music with use of instrument $25.00, Painting and embroidery, $15.00, Incidental expenses, $1.00. Board at the seminary and town $8.00 to $9.00 per month.

—-

John C. Andrews from New York was the first music teacher of the Wilcox Female Institute. His family lived in the house now occupied by Mrs. John Miller. Henry Andrews, one of the sons, wrote “Ripples of the Alabama,” a piano solo much loved by a former generation. In 1854-55, according to a handbill of the Institute, instruction in other musical instruments besides piano was offered. Instruction in harp was $80.00 and in all other instruments $12.50. Painting in oil was $20.00. Painting in water was $15.00. Drawing in pencil and crayon, $12.50. Ornamental needlework $12.50. Reverend Plott Stout was the agent of the board to collect money, and Reverend J.S. Bacon was principal.

—-

In 1868 the school opened under the principalship of Reverend John Miller, a graduate of Erskine College, Due West, S.C. This year about one hundred and twenty-five students were enrolled.

—-

Mr. Miller was an educator, and also an Associate Reformed Presbyterian preacher. He served as pastor at Bethel ARP Church in Oak Hill for thirty-one years. He was a man of rather slender build with dark hair and dark whiskers. He was very intelligent and very dignified, always wearing the garb of a preacher of his day, a Prince Albert coat of broadcloth. He owned and operated the Wilcox Female Institute for many years, having associated with him the best teachers that the county afforded.

—-

In 1870 Dr. Miller opened a school in Camden for men and boys entirely separate from the female college. On July 7, 1871 Dr. Miller retired as principal of the Institute. He was succeeded by Mrs. Amanda Blakenny and Mrs. Fannie Holman.

—-

The old Wilcox Female Institute building still stands and is in constant use as part of the Camden public school plant.

 22 August 1963

Wilcox Progressive Era

Old Female Institute to Be Preserved

The historic 115-year-old Wilcox Female Institute building in Camden will not be destroyed. This decision came Wednesday after much discussion at a meeting held in the Wilcox County High School and attended by several hundred persons throughout the county. Also present were Arthur Grant and Tom Kirkland, architects from Montgomery.

Following a lengthy discussion, the decision to leave the front part of the building containing two classrooms downstairs and two classrooms upstairs, was made. The rest of the building will be torn away because of the unsafe conditions and plans for the renovation of the old building are being made.

Recommendations from the architects were that adequate escapes, new rest room facilities new heating system and renovating be done on the building and quoted an approximate cost of $19,000 for the work.

The new vocational agriculture and home economics building will be located at approximately the same location as the present building. Schedule for construction will be announced as soon as architects can prepare plans which they could not do until the exact site was agreed upon. The present agricultural building is located at the rear of the gymnasium.

The old Female Institute building was constructed in 1848 when a board of citizens confronted with the problem of education made up subscriptions for the construction of the building. Part of the heritage of Wilcox County, it stands as a monument to over a hundred years of educational learning. The structure was built by slaves and the bricks used throughout came from the clay in the space now used as the athletic field of the Wilcox County High School.

25 December 1985

The Selma Times-Journal

Miss Rubye is honored by Wilcox Historical Society

Mrs. Sam Woodson prepared and delivered a concise biography of Mrs. Rubye Adele Rikard McWilliams (1885-1975) at the meeting of the Wilcox Historical Society at the Wilcox Female Institute, a few days before “Miss Rubye’s” 100th anniversary.

“Miss Rubye” who was the first woman in Alabama to be elected county tax collector and the only woman in Wilcox County to be elected to public office, so far, was Wilcox County tax collector for 14 years, 1934-1948, following the death of her husband, William Francis McWilliams, Wilcox County tax collector in 1934.

Mrs. McWilliams attended Montevallo College and the University of Alabama and taught in the Rikard School and Arlington School. She also taught music and on display was a photography of her music class in 1914.

“Miss Rubye” held several business positions in Selma and Pine Hill before her marriage and was highly regarded for her business acumen, her insights into human nature, her love, concern, and generosity for all persons, especially children.

Mrs. Woodson was introduced by the program chairman, William C. Griffin.

Mrs. Dan Bragg Cook and Mrs. William C. Griffin, nieces of “Miss Rubye” displayed a variety of “Miss Rubye’s” keepsakes including her baby trunk, her silver baby mug, tributes by her father, William Jacob Rikard, and her mother Lila Adele Nettles Rikard written in 1888, her favorite popular song, Red Wing, her wedding dress which she made herself.

Will Philpot, who is director of music at Camden Baptist Church, gave a timely devotional message on Thanksgiving using as scripture Psalms 100.

Mrs. Frank Cade who is president of the Wilcox Historical Society presided at the business session. Mrs. Oliver Steen, secretary, read minutes of the September meeting. Roy McIntosh gave the treasurer’s report. Appreciation was expressed to Mrs. William Darwin for arranging assembly room.    

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!

Don’t forget! Annual dues are $30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 for single. Dues are renewed in January.  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. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks!

WHS December 2021 Happenings

Our annual Christmas Open House will be held at historic Wakefield in Furman, Saturday, December 4th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Refreshments will be served and the house will be decorated for the season in preparation for a Victoria Magazine photo shoot the following week. Members and guests are welcome! We would like to thank members Tom and Sylvia Rushing for opening their home to us for this special event. 

Christmas Concerts in Camden! Madeline and Hannah are coming back and they have added concert dates in Camden to their schedule! They will be performing their Christmas Concert at the Wilcox Female Institute Friday, December 17th and Saturday, December 18th at 7:00 pm. 
Friday night tickets are available at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/216424109337
Saturday night tickets are available at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/214206125287
These Concerts will be a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas Season.

Christmas in Furman will be Sunday night, December 19th. The historic homes will all be illuminated and a beautiful sight! The driving tour begins at dusk. A Christmas Musical Service will be held at 6:00 pm at the newly restored Bethsaida Baptist Church, circa 1860, in Furman.

We hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday season of celebration with family and friends!

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

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Summer 2021

Dear Friends,

WE DID IT! Our 2021 Tour of Homes was an overwhelming success. The weekend generated more than $45,000 in profit for our Historical Society. As if that were not enough, we received rave reviews from our over one thousand guests. In fact, we already have people requesting tickets for next year.

Thank you to our homeowners that made this event possible. You were absolutely fantastic as our visitors descended upon your homes. Thank you to Chris and Ryan and The Pecan on Broad for providing James Farmer and for hosting the incredible reception at RiverBend.

Thank you also goes out to all the members that assisted at the breakfast Saturday morning and that helped at the homes during the day. Without you, we could not have made it happen. From Friday night’s Reception to the Ball Saturday Night, the weekend was fantastic!

In addition to his role as Planning Committee Chair, Chris Bailey coordinated the Tour of Homes’ Corporate Sponsor Campaign. His efforts generated $24,000 in cash contributions that offset all of our Tour expenses. We were left with nearly $7,000 (after expenses) that will be go toward the restoration of both the Miller Law Office and the Female Institute. Thank you, Chris!

Over fifty people attended our May meeting at the home of Martha and James Lampkin in Pine Apple. We had twelve new members join at the meeting! Thank you to Martha and James for opening both of your beautiful homes and the barns as well.

Your Board of Directors has been busy this year. We voted unanimously to contract Mr. Richard “Dick” Hudgens as the architect for the Female Institute’s restoration. He will now begin designing Phase I of our five-year project. This phase will be the addition of bathrooms on both floors of the building and an elevator. They will be located behind the existing building at the end of the main hall. The addition will be the same width/height and the exterior will look like the original dorm wing that was torn down in the late 1960’s.

As we begin work on the Female Institute, we will launch a Capital Campaign to fund all three phases of the restoration. It is an ambitious plan that when complete will make the Female Institute a center for the preservation of our history and fully-functional center capable of hosting artistic performances, symposiums, and other special exhibitions. We will need your help to complete this project. Look for more information about the three phases of the restoration and its projected costs at our first meeting this fall.

As you may know, the Board approved a full restoration of the Miller Law Office earlier this year. A majority of the work on the interior was completed before the Tour. You will see more restoration work on the exterior this summer. When complete, the building will look as it did in the Historical American Buildings Survey (HABS) photos from the 1930’s. Nearly $25,000 in grant money and private donations have been acquired to help in this restoration effort.

As we look to the upcoming year, we find ourselves in a good position. A series of successful Tours have brought needed financial resources and positive public exposure. Our membership has grown to over 200 members, making us the largest civic organization in Wilcox County. We have a visionary Board who is working to restore the buildings in our care, protect our many historic districts, and who is working to preserve other structures in Downtown Camden.

This year we will see the completion of the Miller Law Office as a museum space in Downtown Camden, we will break ground on much needed bathrooms at the Institute, and you will see us launch other events in addition to our annual Tour of Homes. Get involved as much as you can because it will make a difference. If you have connections to corporations, foundations or individuals that might be willing to help us restore the Institute, reach out to them. Those personal connections are what will help us reach our goal.

We are just getting started on a very exciting journey. With your help we will restore the Female Institute, giving it a positive role to play in our County once again. I look forward to the coming year and all that we can achieve together.

Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Lance Britt, WHS President ☼

Welcome to new members:

from Alabama – Sue Roberson Arnold of Greenville, David and Gail Fuller of Oak Hill, Sonny and Meredith Gray of Furman, Shannon and Fran Hollinger of Camden, William and Cheryl Johnson of Greenville, Jesse Jordan of Thomasville, Kitty Lamkin of Pine Apple, Tom and Ceil McGehee of Mobile, Mike Melton of Pine Apple, Barbara Middleton of Honoraville, Carlton and Judy Niemeyer of Montrose, Kent and Laura Tabor of Furman, Albert and Sherri Ward of Pine Apple and Elizabeth Dalton of Camano Island, Washington. And welcome to new Life Members – Lee Bacon of Sparks, Nevada, William Bradford of Montevallo, Alabama, Dr. and Mrs. Donald Carmichael of Birmingham, Alabama, Jimmy and Fran Cook of Camden, Alabama, Alice Jean Godbold of Sandy Springs, Georgia, Suzanne Graham of New Braunfels, Texas, Michael James and Diane Dunlap of Sumrall, Mississippi, Haden Gaines Marsh from Homewood, Alabama and the Honorable Jeff and Mary Sessions of Mobile, Alabama.  THANK YOU for joining the WHS! ☼

THANK YOU to our 2021 Tour of Homes Sponsors

The Pecan on Broad, Bailey Dunagan, Global Medical Products, UB Community Development, The Brittany House Antiques at Oak Hill, Town-County National Bank, Handiman Building Supply, Wilcox Progressive Era, Coast to Coast Hardware, Donnie McLeod, Community Neighbor Bank, Camden Jewelry & Gifts and McGraw-Webb Chevrolet.  ☼

Member Spotlight – Scottie and Tammy Myers

Pleasant Ridge owners, Scottie and Tammy Myers, are veteran Living Historians and Reenactors of the Antebellum, Civil War and Old West periods.

It has been a life-long dream to care for and preserve an antebellum home, so during the 2020 pandemic when Pleasant Ridge became available, they jumped at the opportunity to make their dream a reality.

A BIG part of that dream meant remembering and teaching accurate Southern history, both the good the the ugly with other persons…others who would want to study and understand the context of the times. That’s what Scottie and Tammy strive to accomplish with each guest that visits Pleasant Ridge.

Even though they both work full time, Scottie and Tammy have opened Pleasant Ridge as a Bed & Breakfast; they are also hosting Tours, 1860s immersion dinners, Sunday afternoon Ladies’ Tea and other special events such as the authentic 1860s camping experience for fathers and sons over Father’s Day weekend.

Pleasant Ridge, which was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, was one of the beautiful homes opened for the 2021 WHS Tour of Homes. The lovely drawing of the home at the beginning of this column was done by Tammy’s 82-year-old mother, Barbara Starling Burks Neal of Montgomery.

The Myers, who are new to Wilcox County, relocated to Canton Bend from Alexander City in Tallapoosa County. They each have grown children: Scottie’s two sons and two beautiful granddaughters live in Oakman, Alabama. Tammy has two daughters; one who lives in Washington DC and the other in Denver. Together, they have a faithful ol’ Labrador mix named Sabo. 

Learn more at www.PleasantRidge1838.com and follow them on Facebook at Pleasant Ridge 1838.  

Miller Law Office Restoration

from Chris Bailey, Chairman of the Planning and Fundraising Committee

The law office interior restoration has been completed.  All walls and ceiling plaster work has been repaired and painted. Photos and documents have all been framed with UV protective glass framing and has really turned out nice. Martha worked with a custom frame shop that does very high-quality work. We are in the process of replacing interior blinds with simple bamboo shades to help with temperature and light conditions.

The exterior repairs have begun as well.  We sourced Aeratis Flooring thru our local building supplier, Handiman.  The product is a considerable investment, but investment is the key word.  This is a high quality, national historic registry approved product for porch flooring.  It has a lifetime warranty against cracking, warping and peeling.  The color chosen is “battleship grey” which is an excellent historic match for our area. The steps will also be built out of this material, which should never need replacement within our lifetime. 

Next week, our paint team from Birmingham will be back in town to begin the exterior painting of the building.  They will scrape, sand and apply two coats of both primer and paint.  Lattice work will be painted the historically correct green and will enclose the crawl space.   

The body of the building will be painted Benjamin Moore Dove White, which is the color we chose at RiverBend.  It’s a nice true white, but not a reflectively bright white. 

Our hope is to have the project near completion by July 4th.☼

WHS May Meeting at Greenleaves in Pine Apple

On Sunday, afternoon, May 23, about 60 members of the WHS gathered in the shaded back yard of Greenleaves, the Grimes family home in Pine Apple. 

Speakers Robin McDonald and Valerie Pope Burnes talked about their book “Visions of the Black Belt – a Cultural Survey of the Heart of Alabama.” Robin is an independent graphic designer and photographer. He is also the author of “Heart of a Small Town: Photographs of Alabama Towns.” Valerie is professor of history at the University of West Alabama and was the 2018-2019 President of the Alabama Historical Association. She did the introductory texts for the book about the Black Belt which was published in 2015 in cooperation with the Black Belt Cultural Arts Center. 

Following the program, Martha Grimes Lampkin and her father, Harold Watts Grimes, invited members to tour Greenleaves (1854), the Pine Apple Bungalow (1925), the Old Barn Museum (1854) and other outbuildings that included a blacksmith shop, two log cabins and a pine log barn. This property and part of the original Grimes Plantation was named a Century and Heritage Farm by the Alabama Department of Agriculture in 1999.  ☼

MEMORIAL

Member, Charles “Chip” Porter Schutt, Jr. of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, passed away on 23 May 2021 at the age of 78. Chip was predeceased by his wife, Katharine “Puss” Draper Schutt. He is survived by their three children: Porter, Jake and Kate and six grandchildren. He never missed one of children’s or grandchildren’s concerts or sporting events. Chip was a generous giver, dedicated to the success of many organizations including The Pilot School, the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware and The Wilmington Club. “The Captain” as many called him, was a member of the Cruising Club of America, the Northeast Harbor Fleet and the Vicmead Yacht Club.  At a young age, he made his first transatlantic crossing. Many of his outdoor adventures, hunting and otherwise, happened at Galio Farms in Wilcox County. His home there meant a great deal to him and his children.  ☼

PROPOSED TOWER IN DOWNTOWN CAMDEN 

On Tuesday, June 8, several members of the Board and a few of our members attended a Community Meeting hosted by Black Belt Technologies (BBT) at the Ferry Terminal. Black Belt Technologies is the company that purchased the Ratcliff’s Hardware Building on Broad Street and the lumber yard behind it. They plan to install broadband internet cables in Camden.

Prior to the meeting we had learned they intended to put what we were told was a 30′ – 35′ Tower/Pole on the Ratcliff site. We informed them that the proposed location was inside the Camden Courthouse National Historic District and we would oppose it. They responded that it might be possible to put it on the existing 911 Tower attached to the Courthouse Annex or on the lumber yard site behind the Ratcliff Building as it is just outside the Historic District. We encouraged them to pursue the tower attached to the Courthouse Annex. 

At the June 8 Meeting, we were informed that the Tower/Pole would he 45′ – 50′ with a white receiver on top. There was a lot of discussion about the company, its plans, its work in Selma, and the tower’s location in Camden. As a result of the discussion, we learned that the proposed tower could be anywhere in a 1.2-mile radius of the Ratcliff Building. All they need is a clear line of sight to the 2 water towers. Melissa Dove was quite helpful in offering access to the existing 911 Tower that exists on the Courthouse Annex. The existing tower is tall enough for their needs. 

Please know that we are fully supportive of any group that can improve our county’s access to the internet. However, it is our responsibility to protect our historic districts and what is built in them/in clear view of them. We are continuing the dialog with Black Belt Technologies to ensure that the beauty of Downtown Camden is protected for generations to come. ☼

AN EVENING OF FLUTE AND HARP IN CAMDEN

On Thursday, July 22, Harvest Arts will present An Evening of Flute and Harp in downtown Camden from 7-8:30PM. Tickets will go on sale June 29. For more information see HarvestArtsLLC.com. Also featured that evening will be an art show with original paintings by Madeline. ☼

A Family Cemetery Passes Away

By Noma Bruton, WHS Life Member

 (Reprinted with permission from https://xiigenerations.com/ )

On a cool February day in 1889, John Wyatt Threadgill sat down to write his Will. Often referred to as “JW”, John Wyatt lived in Wilcox County, Alabama for over fifty years. He and his wife, Mary, raised a large family in the area. Five generations later, there are many descendants of John Wyatt and Mary.

During the almost eighty years of his life, JW accumulated a large estate. When he wrote his Will, he had significant assets to bequeath to members of his family.  JW’s final Will covers ten full pages. “

Preserving the Threadgill family legacy was on JW’s mind as he wrote. Some of the first words of his Will formalize the family cemetery and set aside land and funds for its ongoing maintenance.

John Wyatt wrote:

“I desire to be decently interred in my family graveyard, on my own lands, by the side of my deceased wife, and I hereby reserve [two?] acres of land to include said graveyard, together with a right of way through any of my lands from the nearest public road to the same. Said right of way is to be sufficiently wide for the passage of all vehicles to and from the same. The said graveyard so [illegible] to be a burial place for my children and their posterity, and for no other person or persons, unless it be such as my Executors or Trustees may permit – on application – and I for this reserve and set aside five hundred dollars to be invested in Alabama State interest bearing bonds, or such other instrument as will be perfectly secure, to be determined by my trustees or Executors with the approval of any court of the state of Alabama having jurisdiction of the same under the statues of the said State. The interest on the said investment to be applied to the beautifying and keeping in good order the said grave-yard and the right of way to the same, under the direction of my said executors and trustees or the said court or under the order or direction of the same. The said five hundred dollars to be a permanent fund for the purposes herein stated.”

Later in the Will, JW returns to the subject of the family cemetery and includes instructions for a monument.

“I desire a suitable monument erected over my grave and that of my deceased wife, one monument to cover both graves, with such inscriptions as are consistent and usual, and for the carrying out of this request I hereby direct my executor or executors to expend two hundred and fifty dollars out of my estate, or not over that amount. The said monument to be erected under the management and direction of my said executors or executor in a reasonable time after my demise.”

In late 2020, I began a search to find the location of the Threadgill Family Cemetery. After reading JW’s Will, it was obvious to me that the establishment and maintenance of a family cemetery had been important to him. I wanted to know to what extent his final wishes had been carried out.

A Find A Grave (FAG) volunteer with deep family ties to Wilcox County visited the location in 2015 and, thoughtfully, set up a cemetery profile on the website. At that time, the FAG volunteer recorded only one grave memorial in the cemetery. The grave appeared to be that of a child – “Little Lillie”. The volunteer described the location and state of the cemetery as he found it: 

“Located just to the right of the dead-end dirt road off County Road 32 in the northeast corner of T.13N.-R.5E. Section 33. I am told that, as of about 10 years ago, there was an iron fence around the cemetery and 5 or 6 headstones were visible. As of March 7, 2015, the fence is gone and the headstone pictured is the only one that is still visible.”

I enlisted professional genealogist, Tonya Chandler, to further research and survey the cemetery. Her report, in its entirety, follows. 

THREADGILL FAMILY CEMETERY

ARLINGTON, ALABAMA

DATE OF SURVEY:  21 MARCH 2021

The Threadgill Family Cemetery was documented in March 1952 by William M. Cook II, his wife

Josephine Aldrich Harris Cook, and their two daughters, Garland Wingfield Cook and Jean Lindsay Cook. Their typed account and hand-drawn map were used to locate the Threadgill Cemetery in March 2021, 69 years after the Cook family’s visit.

As in their account, a right turn from Alabama State Highway 5 onto County Road 32 leads towards Arlington, Alabama. A dirt road (Robinson Road) leads off to the right of County Road 32. There is no longer a gate at the entrance to the dirt road. The Threadgill Family Cemetery was said to be located on the right-hand side of the dirt road in a stand of pine trees, an unspecified distance up the road. Pine trees are now prevalent all along the road. The road is unpaved, rough, and rocky. The right side of the road has many changes in elevation, with pits and hills. There were 2-3 occupied private trailers and homes on the right side of the road, with heavy growth in surrounding fields. In a wooded area of relatively level land, approximately .2 miles after turning onto Robinson Road, there was a gray stone just visible from the road within the trees (near utility pole 30Y8533). This proved to be the headstone of “Little Lillie.” There was no path from the road to the cemetery area, which was reached through heavy foliage and brambles. The cemetery is located about 15 yards from the road into the woods.

The iron paling fence around the cemetery described in 1952 is no longer present. Only two of the short iron fence fixtures were visible in the leaves, apparently marking off two corners of a rectangular area.

Only one headstone was visible, the stone that was seen from the road. This was a large simple headstone engraved with “Little Lillie.” There may have been additional words at the top of this stone, but the upper part of the stone is almost entirely flat. No dates were visible on the stone. The stone for “Little Lillie” leaned against a short piling of red brick, which may have once been the lower part of a monument.

There was only one other stone found, which was a small rectangular stone the size of a brick, near but at a 45-degree angle to the headstone of Little Lillie. This was likely a footstone, but it was unclear to which grave it belonged. It may have been the footstone for the brick base, as the stones appear to match and they were at roughly the same angle. There were no visible initials on the footstone.

A survey of the remaining area did not find any other stones. Due to heavy piles of leaves and debris, these were the only two stones found. The graves of John Wyatt Threadgill, Mary Threadgill, and Ardella were not visible.

Based on the 1952 Cook account, graves were present then that are no longer visible. Combining the information provided in 1952 and that seen in this survey, the following graves are known to have been present in the Threadgill Family Cemetery. Existing stones are bolded:

M. J. S. (footstone only)

Ardella, wife of Joe Robinson, born May 13, 1850 died Aug. 18, 1887

J. W. T. (John Wyatt Threadgill)

M. T. (Mary Threadgill)

Little Lillie

Unknown, footstone only —End of Report

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONUMENT?

There is a handwritten note in the Cook family account that states:

“After talking with Ella May Cook Kilpatrick (Mrs. John Y.) I learned that there had been large marble tombstones in the Threadgill Cemetery, but that they had been stolen during WWII by men in trucks who went around gathering marble slabs from old uncared for cemeteries!”

This may explain the absence of the monument JW asked to be placed over his and his wife’s graves.  The note is unsigned.

One hundred and thirty years after he wrote his Will, time, circumstances and nature will soon obliterate the action John Wyatt Threadgill took to preserve the Threadgill Family Cemetery in Arlington. The $500 JW set aside in 1889 is equivalent to about $14,300 in 2021; the $250 he set aside for a monument is worth approximately $7,100 today. It wasn’t enough.

Sources: Alabama. Probate Court (Wilcox County) 1820-1934, “Last Will & Testament, John Wyatt Threadgill,” February 21, 1889, Salt Lake City, UT, FamilySearch.org. Film #2.321.516.

“Threadgill Cemetery, ID 2571895,” Find A Grave, GPS coordinates:  32.055117, -87.574689, accessed April 11, 2021, https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2571895/threadgillcemetery.

Appreciation to: Tonya D. J. Chandler, Southern Roots Genealogical Services, Birmingham, AL, Martin Sheffield, Birmingham, AL and Garland Cook Smith, Birmingham, AL.

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 doing research on a New Year Eve’s group who paraded in costume through the streets of Camden. Called the D.U.D.s (some referred to them as Damn Ugly Devils), they paraded from right after the Civil War up until 1908 (the last reference to them). The City of Livingston, Alabama has a D.U.D. group that can be traced from before the Civil War and still parades around the city square each New Year’s Eve even until recently. Any information whatsoever on the Camden D.U.D.s would be most appreciated. E. Wolfe, Fairhope, AL, hut.builder@gmail.com 

I am interested in finding any pictures of the home and or warehouses at Bridgeport Landing on the Alabama River. My ancestor William Wirt Moore worked for Judge Bridges in the 1850’s and eventually purchased the landing from him. Thank you for any help on locating pictures. Russell Moore, Member, Montgomery, AL,  tcg.rmoore@gmail.com

Will you host a tour in 2022? I heard that this year was FABULOUS…but did not know about it until it was over. I’d like to put it on my calendar for 2022. Thanks so much. R. Frey, Marietta, GA (Editor’s Note – March 26, 2022 is the date for the WHS Historic Homes Tour which will be held in Furman!)

Hi, just saw your post about Ms. Betty’s Museum. We went by there Sat. on the tour. Sweet lady, I had never heard of Rosa Young or the Rosebud School. Since then, I have learned about her through watching YouTube videos. Ms. Betty is doing a service to the community and has quilts and historically significant items in the museum. The Tour was wonderful, my sister and I enjoyed every minute of it. We spent the night with Mrs. Julia at Liberty Hall. We look forward to coming back next year! S. Hendrick, Brantley, AL   

Following are comments for the post Happy Birthday to Frances Donald Dudley Grimes – one of the first presidents of the WHS and heavily involved in preserving the Wilcox Female Institute in the 1960s: 

Thank you for sharing this important part in our county’s history. Happy Birthday Miss Frances! Thebrittanyhouseantiques

Loved reading all of Ms. Frances’s story! Thanks! pathigs

So eloquently put! Love this. Chrissydpatronas

Awesome! Love family history! S. Matranga

So many memories of a wonderful lady. She was very special. L. Tracy

Following are a few comments on the posts for the 2021 Tour of Homes:

Well, we just had a fabulous time! Thank you for everything! Brokenhillholiday

It was a great weekend! Y’all did a fantastic job! Thanks so much. Leighpostle

Such a beautiful weekend…thank you for sharing your beautiful homes…so interesting! Toodlie52

Awesome tour guide! (The House on the Hill) memeofsix

It’s so interesting – be sure to visit! (The Old Shoe Shop Museum) amystjh

Great job guys! Lynnenoah

Such a wonderful weekend. We have come the last few years! We wouldn’t miss it!  Apriljwhite

We had a wonderful time coming from Tuscaloosa! Haleymarie.87

Such a wonderful time! Thank you for the lovely hospitality. Camden is so charming! Whitgtalley

Enjoyed our weekend in Camden! Thank you! Lynnenoah

It was worth the wait! Thank you! Reddickmillie

So proud of Wilcox County efforts…hoping Butler County follows suit…starting with a Butler County Clean up day. Way to go Wilcox County! Faypoole ☼

Donation of Bibles to the WHS

Earlier this year we were contacted by Margaret Price “Peggy” Braun of Tow, Texas asking us if we were interested in two Bibles from her family. Her letter reads “In the summer of 1860 my great-great-grandmother Stella Phelps Hatfield and her husband Henry Hatfield became the principals of the Wilcox Female Institute. The Hatfields followed a Mrs. E. Upson, principal in 1850, and the L.B. Johnsons, principals between 1851 and 1856. I was never able to discover what happened in 1851 when Mrs. Upson left, but evidently so much animosity had developed between the “Upsonites” and the “Johnsonites” that there were still two factions in Camden when the Hatfields arrived. An entry in the middle of their daughter Helen’s Bible noted the end of the controversy: “A complete reconciliation amoung the Institute girls, Feby 7, 1861.”   When the Hatfields closed their school in Eutaw to come to Camden, Helen’s best friend Mary Erwin Clark, daughter of James. B. Clark, an attorney and Eutaw chancellor, came with them as a boarding student. Both girls were 15 years old. In December of 1860 Mary Erwin gave Helen a Bible as a Christmas gift. That Bible is inscribed to Helen and includes pictures of both girls. Sadly, both girls died of typhoid fever – Helen in September 1861, and Mary Erwin in April, 1862. Both of their obituaries are pasted on the front cover of the book. 

My father was an only child and my son is an only child; and unfortunately, I have no one in my family interested in family history or the family documents in my possession. I have both Bibles and wondered if you would be interested in having them for the museum.”

We corresponded with Mrs. Braun and are happy to report that the Bibles are in our possession and will be displayed in the Wilcox Female Institute when the planned restorations are complete. Many, many thanks to Mrs. Braun for her kind donation for these invaluable Bibles and other documents from the early days of our beloved Female Institute. ☼

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. 

A LOOK BACK…

5 September 1866 

The Semi-Weekly Natchitoches Times (Natchitoches, Louisiana)

DIED, at Pleasant Hill DeSoto Parish La., Aug 28th. D.A.W. Patterson, aged about 57 years, formerly of Wilcox County, Alabama.

13 March 1869

Tri-Weekly Clarion (Meridian, Mississippi) 

A destruction fire occurred at Camden, Wilcox County, Alabama, on Wednesday last, destroying a block of seventeen buildings. 

15 May 1878

The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi) DISTRISSING. A Young Lady Missing.

Meridian Mercury.

On the 1st day of April last, Mr. John Gaddy, of Wilcox County, Alabama put his niece, Martha Ann Wiggins, a girl about 15 years old, upon a boat on the Alabama river, to go to Selma, and thence by rail to this city, and to go from here to her home near Energy, Clarke County. Since that she has not been heard of by her friends. She has no father, but a mother, who is now the wife of Alexander Johnson, who lives near Energy. Of course, there is distress and fear on her account, and any person having any information concerning her will do a great act of kindness by imparting it to her mother or step-father. The person who gave us this item does not know what boat she was put on.   

30 July 1880

Wilcox News and Pacificator Pineapple and Snow Hill. 

Grand Rallies of the Democracy.

Two Great Days in the History of the Canvas.

The strength of the East gathered together at the two above named places on Tuesday and Wednesday. Crowds of our colored friends turned out, and many of them openly expressed their intention of carrying their fortunes with the Democracy. The people were addressed by Judge Purifoy, Hon. Rob. Morrisette, S.D. Bloch, Gen. R. C. Jones, W. W. McConnico and James T. Beck. The candidate on the Radical ticket for Representative, Patrick Gaines, asked and obtained permission to speak. He was replied to by James T. Beck.

The glorious old East is fully aroused, and the whole county is going to emulate her example.

When the East takes up her glass on the second day of August, with the sugar from Mimms’ and Fox’ Mill in the bottom, and pour in the Purifying element from Snow Hill add the spirits of Allenton, sprinkle over the nutmeg of Bonham’s, drop in a slice of Pine Apple, and hold it to the rest of the county and says, “Here’s at you.”, about “seventeen more will rise up” and respond.    

The people of Allenton and Oak Hill herewith extend to you a cordial invitation to participate at their picnic on Thursday, July 12th, on the W.W. McConnico place, 1 1/2 miles from Allenton. A first-class band will be on the grounds that day, also a grand Base Ball game will be played by the Allenton and Pine Apple clubs. At night there will be a grand ball at the residence of Frank Jones, near the McConnico place. Refreshments will be furnished gratis by the young men. We assure you a pleasant time and welcome everybody to come.

Respectfully, W.W. McConnico, H.E. Voltz, J.T. Jones, H.T. Lambert – Committee of Arrangements    

6 July 1922

Wilcox Progressive Era

Local News

Mr. Clay Sheffield of Pine Hill visited in Camden Monday.

Capt. J.H. Fuller of Nadawah was in town Saturday.

A number of young people enjoyed a picnic Tuesday at the home of Mrs. Tom Moore.

Miss Louise Matthews left for Montgomery Monday to take a business course.

Fifteen or twenty cars of Camden ball fans went to Selma on the fourth and saw Selma beat Camden 5-0.

Miss Sarah Ervin of Rock West left Monday for San Antonio Texas to visit relatives.

Mr. Henry Hawthorne went to Selma Wednesday to bring his wife home, who has been sick at an infirmary.

The ladies Aid of the A.R.P. church will meet Friday evening at four o’clock this week with Mrs. Will Lawler in the Grampion Hills.

Messrs. Jo Mac and Wirt Moore motored to Selma Friday to meet their cousin, Margaret Moore of Due West, S.C.

Mr. Herbert Holman, son of our townsman, Mr. Brad Holman is now in an Auto School in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. J.H. Jones and Mr. Will Liddell have issued about 200 invitations to their friends to attend a Barbecue Thursday at the Oliver place which is owned by Dr. J.H. Jones. 

13 March 1936

The Birmingham News – Miller, 72, is ‘Feeling Great’

Camden, Ala. – Former Gov. B.M. Miller, in fine health and high good spirits, Friday was receiving congratulations on his seventy-second birthday.

“I am feeling fine,” the former governor declared, “the buttermilk is fine down here and I am feeling better than I ever have.”

Asked if he contemplated re-entering politics, he said. “Pshaw, I’m too busy for politics. I’ve got no time for that. I’m just resting and practicing law.”

He said he had lost between five and 10 pounds since he left the executive office in January, 1935, and now tipped the scales around 205 pounds. He stands five feet and 11 inches in his stocking feet. With his sister, Mrs. Sallie Brice he lives at his home here.

Asked if he had no fear of Friday the thirteenth, he laughed and said, “Why no. Friday thirteenth is good luck for me, because if it hadn’t been for Friday, March 13, 1864, I wouldn’t  be here.”   

5 August 1943 

Wilcox Progressive Era – First Bale of Cotton Ginned for Wilcox

The first bale of cotton to be ginned in Wilcox County for the 1943 season was ginned here by the Peoples Gin Company Saturday. Grown by W.P. Tait of Coy, Ala., this cotton, which was handled by the Camden Cotton warehouse, brought 30 cents per pound when purchased by Matthews Hardware Company, of Camden. Auctioneer was C.M. Watts.

19 July 1956

Wilcox Progressive Era – Pine Apple HDC

The Pine Apple Home Demonstration Club met with Mrs. J. M. Feagin. Mrs. William Norred, in the absence of the president, Mrs. J.A. Thompson, called the roll. Miss Mable Watts told the story of the hymn selected for the month.

Roll call was answered by members telling of their vacation plans with their families. Three visitors were welcomed to the club.

The “Woman of the Year” was voted on by members. The score card for the afternoon was 400 points.

A demonstration on “Repairing Innerspring Cushions” was given by Miss Margaret Whatley. After the demonstration the hostess served Coca Colas, cookies and peanuts.

Mrs. J.B. Norred was selected for the club’s woman of the year.

2 August 1962  

Wilcox Progressive Era – Kay Ellen Ivey at ‘Girls’ Nation’ 

Miss Kay Ellen Ivey of Camden and Miss Diane Waite of Centre, left Montgomery early Saturday morning for a week in Washington, D.C. representing Alabama at “Girls’ Nation” sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Kay Ellen, who will be a senior at Wilcox County High School this fall, represented the local school at Girls’ State at Huntington College in June where she was elected Lt. Governor, and also selected as one of the two girls to represent Alabama at Girls’ Nation.

While attending the session in the nation’s capital the girls will visit many points of interest as well as learn about national government along with girls from every state in the union.

Kay was selected by the faculty of Wilcox County High School to be the representative at Girls’ State and she was sponsored by Irby Savage – Sam McNeill Unit 84 of the American Legion Auxiliary. ☼

MEMBERSHIP

Please encourage others to become a member of the Wilcox Historical Society! Annual dues are $30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 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. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks! ☼

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Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2021Lance Britt, President, Garland Cook Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson, Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary, Mary Margaret Fife Kyser, Treasurer, LaJunta “Pie” Selsor Malone, Curator and Martha Grimes Lampkin, Editor and Social Media Manager. ☼

Concerts at the Wilcox Female Institute!

We are pleased to offer two concerts at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden on Friday, September 10th and Saturday, September 11th at 7PM featuring French Impressions music of Debussy, Saint Saens and more! Musicians Mary Grace Bender, cello; Madeline Cawley, flute; and Hannah Johnson, harp, as presented by Harvest Arts!

Purchase your ticket for Friday night: here or Saturday night: here.

We look forward to seeing you!

General Info for the 2021 Tour of Homes

TOUR OF HOMES GENERAL INFORMATION:
Our Tour includes seven homes, two churches, and several sites downtown.
Everyone must bring their ticket to registration either Friday afternoon or Saturday to the Wilcox
Female Institute, our tour headquarters, 301 Broad Street, Camden, AL.
REGISTRATION HOURS:
Friday, March 26th – 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Saturday, March 27th – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
• When you register you will exchange your ticket for an arm band that will get you into the
Welcome Reception and Tour of Homes. The Benefit Ball requires a separate ticket.
• We will you provide you with our 2021 Tour Brochure and Map at registration.
We will hold all events rain or shine. However, in the event of rain or saturated ground, we will
require you to either remove your shoes or wear shoe covers while in our Tour Homes. Each home will
have shoe covers available for your use.
The Tour of Homes Saturday, March 27th, hours are 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
We will be following a number of safety protocols this year. At registration everyone will have their
temperature taken before receiving their arm band. If someone has a temperature they will receive a
full refund and will not be allowed entry. Masks must be worn properly inside at all times. Sanitation
stations will be set-up at each home with hand sanitizer, extra masks, etc.
Entry into the homes will be limited to small groups. Where possible there will be one entrance and one
exit. The Reception at RiverBend and Breakfast at the Brittany House are outdoor events (under tents),
but proper table spacing and food distribution protocols will be used. By taking these extra measures
we are doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
There is no parking at RiverBend on Friday night. You must park in downtown Camden and ride
one of our courtesy shuttle buses to and from the Reception. They will run from 5:15 pm – 9:00 pm
except during Mr. Farmer’s talk at 7:00 pm.
RiverBend and Wakefield are not open for tours on Saturday. You can only see them by attending the
Welcome Reception or the Ball.
You do not have to register at the Female Institute to attend the Breakfast at The Brittany House
Antiques in Oak Hill. Simply show your ticket or Eventbrite printout for admission.
BREAKFAST, SATURDAY MORNING 3/27
The complimentary breakfast at Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill (5921 AL Highway 21, Oak Hill,
Alabama – 15 miles from Camden) is Saturday morning from 8:30 am – 10:00 am. Please use proper
social distancing throughout the morning. This is a self-serve breakfast. There will be tables and
chairs for your use and you will be provided individual utensils to pick-up your food. The menu
includes: Homemade biscuits, ham, fresh fruit, breakfast pastries, coffee, and orange juice.
Here is the complete Tour of Homes Weekend Schedule:
Friday, March 26
4:30 pm – Registration opens at the Female Institute, 301 Broad Street, Camden, AL
5:15 pm – Shuttle Buses start running. There is no parking at RiverBend.
6:00 pm – Cocktail Party Begins at RiverBend
7:00 pm – James Farmer’s talk begins
9:00 pm – Last shuttle returns to Camden
Saturday, March 27
8:30 am – 10:00 am – Breakfast at The Brittany House – 5931 AL Hwy 21, Oak Hill, AL
9:00 am – Registration opens at the Female Institute – 301 Broad Street, Camden, AL
10:00 am – 5:00 pm – The 2021 Tour of Homes
7:30 pm – The Inaugural Pilgrimage Benefit Ball at Wakefield begins
Lunch locations Saturday, Saturday, 3/27 – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
The Pecan on Broad – 110 Broad Street – Stand alone restaurant and gift shop, large menu
Masonic Lodge – 201 Broad Street -The Masons will be offering a Bar-B-Que lunch on the grounds of
their historic building.
Wilcox Female Institute – 301 Broad Street – Blue Spoon Catering is offering a sit-down lunch inside
the historic building. They will be offering Chicken Salad or Pimento Cheese Sandwiches and sides.
Gaines Ridge Supper Club – 933 AL Hwy 10 – Historic Gaines Ridge will be offering lunch from 11am
– 2pm. Dinner service will start at 4 pm. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED.

GET TICKETS TO THE TOUR!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wilcox-historical-society-pilgrimage-tickets-88612435179

GET TICKETS TO THE BALL!
There are a limited number of tickets remaining to this year’s Benefit Ball at Wakefield, Circa 1847. It
is the only opportunity to see this beautiful home during the weekend. To get tickets to go:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/89193884309

We would like to thank our Platinum Sponsors for their generous support!
The Pecan on Broad
Global Medical Products
UB Community Development, a community development partner with United Bank
Bailey Dunagan Properties & Investments
We look forward to seeing all of you this weekend!