Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Fall 2022

Dear WHS Members,

I hope you are all well and are enjoying the change of weather. As you know it has been a very exciting fall for the Historical Society. From two great meetings and a fabulous Harvest Arts Concert to receiving another big grant and announcing Lady Carnarvon’s visit, we are making a big impact in Wilcox County. Thank you for being a part of this dynamic team!

We have so many reasons to be thankful. First, we are the largest civic organization in the county with well over 300 members and counting. We had not one, but two families contribute $10,000 each last month to start our first matching fund campaign for the Female Institute’s Restoration. As if that were not enough, the Hunter’s stepped forward as our first Diamond Sponsor of the Tour of Homes making Lady Carnarvon’s visit possible. Thank you all for your support, generosity, and enthusiasm for our Historical Society. Without you all, we would not be where we are today.

Even with all that has already happened this fall, we are just getting started. I am looking forward to guiding our first WHS Trip to Natchez, Mississippi, the first week of November. We will be exploring the architecture of this great Southern City with its majestic homes filled with antiques. While there our group will be dining in some of the finest homes in the South. It is the first of what I hope will be a number of travel opportunities for the WHS. We are already looking at options for next year from Charleston to Newport and beyond.

“Membership has its privileges…” they say. Your membership in the WHS gives you the first opportunity to purchase tickets (at a reduced rate) to the 2023 Tour of Homes in Pine Apple with our Guest Speaker, the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle. Lady Carnarvon has been fantastic to work with and is going to be a dynamic addition to the Tour. I hope you will all return the WHS Member Ticket Order Form on the last page of this Newsletter to guarantee your ticket to this year’s Tour.

The homeowners of Pine Apple have been hard at work since the spring preparing their homes for the Tour. Houses are being painted, floors refinished, drapes are being made, and furniture purchased to ensure that our guests see Pine Apple at its best. Thank you all for your hard work, time, and investment. I understand the commitment it takes and we appreciate all of your efforts.

What a great time to be a part of the Wilcox Historical Society. My friends, together we will Raise the Bell at the Institute, host another successful Tour of Homes, and together we will show a Countess what Southern Hospitality is. We need your continued help and support to make this happen.

Thank you all,

Lance Britt, WHS President     

The British are coming!

We have been overwhelmed by the response to our announcement that the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon, of “Downton Abbey’s” Highclere Castle will be our Keynote Speaker at the Tour of Homes. We worked with Lady Carnarvon to plan a day full of royal experiences on March 24, the day before our Tour in beautiful Pine Apple. It will be the perfect way to start our Tour Weekend!

As you know, Highclere Castle is one of the most notable homes in the world and Lady Carnarvon has been integral in its preservation. We are honored she has agreed to join us to share her experiences in restoring and preserving a 300-room castle. She has been an absolute joy to work with and is looking forward to her first visit to Alabama.

Between her visit and our nine gracious homeowners, we are going to have a fantastic weekend. Not only will we raise money for the WHS, but we will also generate positive public exposure for Pine Apple and Wilcox County. As if that were not enough, our Tour generates thousands of dollars in tax revenue for the county and is a big weekend for our local business owners as well. You will find the WHS Member Tour of Homes Ticket Order Form on the final page of this Newsletter. IT MUST BE RETURNED NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 10 TO BE ELGIBLE FOR THE MEMBER PRESALE. Please return it immediately so we can process these orders before tickets are released to the general public. We will not honor any requests received after November 10. You will know by November 15th if we were able to fulfill your ticket request.

We will fulfill as many of your requests as possible. However, we can only accommodate a limited number of guests at certain events. Please understand we will not be able to accommodate every ticket request. We will do our best to offer other options in the event certain tickets sell out. If we are not able to accommodate your request, the money for that specific event will be refunded.

Remember, with all the interest in our Tour of Homes and Lady Carnarvon’s visit, we are going to need your help to make it run well. As always, we will need volunteers to be guides in the homes on Saturday and we are going to need greeters at our various events Friday as well. Make plans now to be here March 24 – 25, 2023, and to be a volunteer one of the two days as we welcome British Nobility and over 1000 guests to Wilcox County. We are going to need all of your help!

to new members: from Alabama –David and Eleanor Cheatham of Orrville, John Crenshaw, Michael Respess and Betty Cooper Mathews of Montgomery, Lynne Givhan of Safford, Kathy McCoy of Atmore, Shirley McClurklin of Thomasville, John Deupree and Monica B. Rice of Camden. And welcome to new members Jaimie and Kelly Jordan of Rome, Georgia and Larry Lynam of Tucson, Arizona!

And welcome to new Life Members – M. Stephen and Lila McNair of Mobile and Jackie Sharp / Capell House of Camden! Thank you all for joining the WHS!

RAISE THE BELL NEWS

The Raise the Bell Campaign has taken off like a rocket. This is thanks to the generosity of two families who have pledged to match every dollar donated up to $20,000! As a result, we have already raised close to $3000 in additional contributions since our September meeting. Please continue to help us spread the word about this great matching fund program. For more information or to get our Sponsorship Form, please go to our website wilcoxhistoricalsociety.org. Together we can meet our $20,000 goal and Raise the Bell at the Female Institute.

In addition to the matching fund campaign, we received a $37,500 grant last month from the Alabama Historical Commission to help us restore the Institute! This is the third consecutive year we have received a grant from the AHC. We are very thankful for their continued support.

The Board would like to thank Ms. Katie Summerville of Faunsdale for writing this grant which was our largest award by far from the AHC. She is currently working on other grant requests for us as well. With her expertise and experience we hope to continue to raise grant funds for the Female Institute.

This award is our second this year. As previously reported, we received a $40,000 grant from the Alabama Council for the Arts this summer. Together, the $77,500 in grant monies along with those pledged and raised through our Matching Fund Campaign, have generated over $100,000! With your continued support and Katie’s grant writing skills, we will Raise the Bell at the Female Institute.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT –

Martha Grimes Lampkin

I am pleased to be the WHS Newsletter Editor and Social Media Manager – two jobs that were created when I became WHS President in 2017. I served as president for 3 years. With the encouragement of my niece, Elizabeth Grimes, (then Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce Director), plans for an annual WHS Tour of Homes were renewed in 2017. The

“Homes of the River’s Bend Tour” was a big success with Elizabeth as Tour Coordinator and the WHS tours have grown to one of the largest historical homes tours in Alabama under Lance Britt’s leadership.

I grew up in the little town of Marion Junction, Dallas County, Alabama and graduated from Auburn University Montgomery with a degree in Finance. After college I moved to Birmingham and worked in the AmSouth Trust Department for several years later moving to Daphne, Alabama and working for real estate developer, Tonsmeire Development Corporation. I returned to banking in 1989 working as a credit analyst and then a mortgage loan officer at Regions Bank in Mobile. 

Growing up hearing stories of family history and Alabama history with a few ghost stories mixed in as told by my grandmother, Frances Donald Grimes and my parents, Harold and Virginia Grimes, I learned to appreciate my Southern heritage. My grandmother was a wonderful historian and story teller and she was well known for her knowledge of local history. In 1978 she published My Family History and Memoirs for our family after years of genealogy research and the year she died, 1989, she completed a History of Pine Apple Wilcox County, Alabama 1815-1989 with Robert A. Smith, III.

Being greatly influenced by my grandmother’s love of family, history and research I have spent years researching my father’s family lines of the Grimes, Watts, Donald, Yeldell, Roberts, Thigpen and others as well as my mother’s family lines of Lamkin, Hamilton, Williams, Majors and others. As they say, “Genealogy is not a hobby, it is an obsession.” I am an active contributor to FindAGrave memorials and have transcribed and published the Friendship Baptist Church of Pine Apple records for the years 1862-1907.

I enjoy photography and gardening. I also manage social media accounts for the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society as well as the Bear Creek Preservation Association and our guest house, The Pine Apple Bungalow. We are members of the Church of the Highlands in Montgomery.

Since 2015 I have worked as Marketing Coordinator for Lake Martin Voice Realty, a small real estate firm in the Lake Martin, Alabama area. In this job I manage the social media accounts, website updates and blog posts, coordinate the listings of new property for sale, continually update the LMVR app and help create real estate listing videos and photos.   My husband, James and I married in August 1991 in a church my family and I hold dear, the Mt. Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church near Monterey located at the Butler County / Wilcox County lines. This little “church in the wildwood” was established in 1828 with my ancestors joining in the 1830s and each October we gather for an annual homecoming celebration. Our wedding reception was held at Greenleaves in Pine Apple and I know my grandparents are pleased that we continue to enjoy time in the family home to this day. I feel so fortunate to be the owner of

Greenleaves and James and I are happy to be the caretakers of this beautiful old home that has been in my family for over 150 years.

James and I are the proud parents of two children, Harold Brooks Lampkin, MD married to Margo Edwards Lampkin and Virginia Frances “Ginny” Lampkin Morgan, OD married to Jake Morgan. We are also the proud G Daddy and Marmee of little granddaughters, Lucy Clare Lampkin and Julia Frances Lampkin. And I certainly don’t want to forget to mention we have two spoiled cocker spaniels, Kisses and Bentley.

The WHS 2023 Tour of Homes will feature nine historic homes in Pine Apple this year and we are happy to have two homes on the Tour – Greenleaves (pictured above) and the Pine Apple Bungalow. Greenleaves was built in 1854 by Augustus Powell. My great, great grandmother – Letitia Roberts Grimes, bought the home in 1869, two years after the death of her husband, my great, great grandfather, Wiley Grimes. 

W H Grimes Family, c 1912

After the 1893 marriage of my great grandfather, William Henry Grimes to Josephine Watts, the home was remodeled adding the three front gables and two front rooms and porches with gingerbread trim. Pictured at left is the Grimes family about 1912 on the front steps of Greenleaves.

James and I renovated Greenleaves in 2005 and live there part time and in Montgomery part time. 

The Pine Apple Bungalow next door to Greenleaves, was built in the early 1920s for my great aunt Lois Grimes and husband Hayden Lewis. Next my grandfather Harold Watts Grimes lived there bringing his bride, his childhood sweetheart, my grandmother, Frances Donald Dudley Grimes and her son, Hugh Dudley to live there when they married in 1927. In 1930 my father was born and the family lived there until 1931 when they moved next door to Greenleaves. My husband and I together with help from our children, friends and family have recently restored the bungalow and enjoy using it as a guest house and hunting lodge.

My Wilcox County roots go back to 1824 when Wiley Grimes first appeared in public records for his marriage to his first wife, Elizabeth Coleson. A number of my ancestors came to Alabama before the Territory became a state – 1815 with James Powers, to 1816 with Richard Warren and James Steen, to 1818 with Robert Anthony Yeldell. I am proud to support Wilcox County and preserve its history for future generations. I agree with Daniel Webster who said, “He who knoweth not from whence he came, careth little whither he goeth.”

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 September Meeting  

The Search for Mabila and Medieval Spaniards in Alabama

On Sunday afternoon, September 18th, members and guests of the WHS enjoyed hearing from Dr. Ashley A. Dumas, Associate Professor of Anthropology at The University of West Alabama.  She is an archaeologist specializing in the late prehistory and history of the Southeastern United States.

“For more than a century, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists have scoured areas of west Alabama in search of the remains of Mabila – a fortified Indian village where, in October 1540, the forces of notorious Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto clashed with Native American warriors under the direction of their dynamic leader, Chief Tascalusa.” This battle is believed to be the largest battle every found between Europeans and the indigenous people of North America.

Now supported by a growing collection of artifacts, Dr. Dumas and the University of West Alabama team are convinced they are within a few miles of finding the site of the town and the infamous battle. Those in attendance were able to view some of the artifacts the team has found in Marengo County.

The meeting was held at the Wilcox Female Institute with a reception afterwards.

Pictured is Dr. Ashley Dumas with WHS members Andy and Kathy Coats examining a fragment of a 16th century horseshoe which is one of the documented artifacts that is leading to the discover of the battle site. In Marengo County, Dumas and her colleagues have thus far found 52 confirmed pieces of Spanish-made metal, such as horseshoe remnants and iron chisels repurposed from the metal bands that strengthened wooden barrels.

MOZART AND FRIENDS

CONCERT IN CAMDEN

The Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was the venue for the Harvest Arts Harp Quintet on September 26th. A large crowd attended the concert sponsored by the WHS.

The concert featured performers on Violin, Viola and Cello in addition to Wilcox County favorites Madeline Cawley, Flute and Hannah Cope Johnson, Harp. The violinist and violist perform with the Nashville Symphony and the cellist just returned from a nationwide Broadway Tour of Oklahoma!

The WHS hosted a reception at the Wilcox Female Institute following the concert.

WHS October Meeting 

Rosemary Plantation and

the Families Who Called it Home

Our October meeting was held on Sunday afternoon, October 9th at Rosemary Plantation in the Miller’s Ferry area of Wilcox County near Camden. Members and guests enjoyed hearing three speakers share the history of the home and the families who lived there.

The speakers included the present owner, Brock Jones and Mason McGowin, a descendant of the Mathews family and Carter Fowlkes, a descendant of the Mathews-Cade family. Mr. Fowlkes also shared with us portraits of Peter Early Mathews and wife Virginia Vaughan Mathews.

Rosemary sits near the Alabama River and was built on the highest land in the river valley. The home, circa 1856, was built for the Peter Early Mathews family on roughly 2,000 acres of land. Sadly, Mr. Mathews died in 1856 leaving the estate to his wife.  

After the death of Mrs. Mathews in 1891 “The Mathews Place” was inherited by nephew Frank Cade in 1897. The home was named “Rosemary” by Mr. Cade’s wife, Mary, not for roses or her own name, but for the fragrant herb. Mary also added a second story to the home and the large center staircase around 1900.

Those present at the meeting enjoyed touring the house and grounds as well as refreshments and fellowship.

Editor’s Note – the WHS Winter 2022 Newsletter has a more detailed article written about Rosemary by Mr. Carter Fowlkes and it can be found on our website. 

Hugh Joseph Dudley, 97, passed away at his home in Huntsville on October 5, 2022. Mr. Dudley was born in Montgomery, Alabama and grew up in Pine Apple, Alabama. He graduated from Moore Academy in 1943. He served in the Pacific during WWII in the Navy Seabees. Mr. Dudley graduated from Auburn University in 1949 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Mr. Dudley had been a resident of Huntsville since 1953. He worked for the Marshall Space Flight Center and served on the Space Sciences Laboratory staff before accepting a position in Advanced Development where he worked until retirement in 1980. At that time, Mr. Dudley accepted a consulting job to restore the Huntsville Depot. He was a leading authority on Railroad History and was honored for his community service and contributions to the North Alabama Railroad Museum by the naming of the Hugh Dudley Railroad History Center.

Mr. Dudley was the son of the late Hugh Joseph Dudley and Frances Donald Dudley Grimes. His wife of 58 years, Bobbie LaGrone Dudley preceded him in death.

Mr. Dudley is survived by his two daughters, and son-in-law, Terry Dudley Lott, Drs. Robbin (Dudley) Klemm and Mike Klemm, three grandsons and brother, Harold (Hal) Watts Grimes.

Margaret Jane Gaston of Belleville, Conecuh County, Alabama passed away on September 28, 2022. She was a lovely person with a heart of gold and an energetic and unique personality that made her loved and admired by so many. She was the one to ask if you had a question about local history or Hank Williams. She worked tirelessly on organizing the historical research room at the Rose Memorial Library in Georgiana, Butler County, Alabama. She donated many books to the RML and until only a few months ago was checking out and reading several books a week. Miss Gaston was a life-long learner and a loyal supporter of local history.

Miss Gaston was the daughter of the late James Allison Gaston and Willie Dent Rumbley Gaston.  

Dearest Mother and Daddy

A Letter by Hugh C. Dale

Shared by daughter, WHS member Jane Shelton Dale

Sabbath night

Dearest Mother and Daddy,

I saw the President-elect last night. Was just about to come back to Forest Home after the teachers’ meeting yesterday afternoon when suddenly I decided I wanted to go to Montgomery, so I went. It didn’t take me any time to find a mighty nice fellow going that way. He was a Methodist preacher who lives in Montgomery and is now chaplain for the State convict department. Had his son, a boy about my age, along with him and also a man from Evergreen, a Mr. Rushton who manages the Ford agency there. Got there about five-thirty. The president’s train was to get in at seven so I went up to the capitol grounds early and got me a good place to stand where I could see and hear well.  In fact, I think I had about as good a position as anybody; I stood just at the top of that long flight of steps leading up to the capitol and he and Uncle Meek spoke from the front porch, so, you see, I was just in front of them. There was certainly a mob of people there, and so many soldiers, national guards, etc. The Parade came up Dexter and then went around back of the capitol and they came in to the capitol from the back and on to the porch. Uncle Meek made a fine introduction and then Roosevelt’s speech was fine too. You’ll read them and all about it in the papers, of course. I could see them all perfectly and hear every word. I passed by the mansion and saw it all decorated up for the reception but of course I didn’t see any of the folks. Well, I really didn’t have any plans as to what I’d do after that – didn’t know whether I’d spend the night here or not – but decided I’d go to the Exchange and maybe run up on somebody from Camden. You know, if you’ll just stand around there, you’ll see everybody in Montgomery. I saw the J.R. Bells from Selma and talked with them awhile. Mrs. Bell asked about you. Also saw C. F. and Warb Primm, Jack Alford, Pettus Randall, the Banks girls, Miss Ruby Duke and her folks, some people from Greenville, and in fact about the first person I saw was Mr. Watt. He and two other fellows from here had gone up there in his car so they had plenty of room for me to come home with them. The other two fellows had his car off somewhere and were supposed to meet him there at nine, but they were real late getting back and we didn’t get home until about 2:15 this morning.   

Your devoted,

Hugh

Mr. Hugh Dale graduated from Erskine College in 1932 and his first job was principal at the school in Forest Home, Butler County, Alabama. Jane Shelton Dale shares that soon after this letter was written her Daddy went to Columbia University and received a Master’s in Chemistry and taught in Birmingham and Atlanta before WWII. 

Editor’s Note: President-Elect Franklin D. Roosevelt’s visit to Montgomery was on Saturday, January 21, 1933.  The Montgomery Advertiser’s headlines on January 22 read “Roosevelt Won by Tumultuous Welcome Here.” The headline went on to read “Visit Brings Largest Crowd Ever Seen In Streets; Governor Gives Dinner”. And Uncle Meek as mentioned in the letter was Governor Benjamin Meek Miller from Camden – Alabama governor from 1931-1935.

HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN

Written by Frances Donald Dudley Grimes in 1977 – the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II

In the early spring of the year 1926 George V sat upon the throne of England. Only one of his four sons was married, Prince Albert, Duke of York. Yet for 70 years the male succession to the throne had seldom seemed more secure.

Three years had passed since the splendid Duke of York’s wedding in Westminster Abbey to Elizabeth Bowes Lyon in 1924. Tho’ the Duke stood second to the crown, he and the Duchess had no permanent home, for known as the Industrial Prince, he travelled throughout the realm and they lived mostly out of suitcases.

When the happiness of a future baby became assured, the Duchess decided that she wanted her baby to be born in her parent’s London home at 17 Bruton Street.

This was the first public statement to herald the present queen: her Royal Highness, the Duchess of York was safely delivered of a Princess at 2:40 a.m. this morning, Wednesday, April 21st, 1926. King George V and Queen Mary were awakened at 4:00 a.m. to tell them of the good news and Queen Mary said: “Such a relief and joy.”

Two weeks later, on May 29th the baby princess was christened in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace, with ceremonial water brought from the River Jordan. She wore the christening robe of cream Brussels lace that had been used for the children of Queen Victoria. She was named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

The early years of the future Queen Elizabeth chronicled in some detail by her family, by friends and by at least one governess, Miss Marion Crawford, a Scot woman who became known as Crawfie by the two little princesses. Her family was dominated by her grandfather, King George V who was the first British Monarch to exemplify the majesty of the ordinary man. He personified all that his people felt most comfortable with and set the stage for British Monarchy that has been followed ever since, most notably by his granddaughter, Elizabeth II. Patriotism for the king was a personal thing. He believed in God, the invincibility of the Royal Navy, the essential rightness of whatever was British, the unquestioning subordination of thine to duty and a boundless capacity for hard work. These are some of the debts, instinctive and cultivated that Queen Elizabeth II owes to her grandfather and they have helped make her a descendant and successor of whom he could feel thoroughly proud.

Queen Mary, who was more than an ordinary grandmother set out to play the most active role in the upbringing of Princess Elizabeth and her influence on her life, work and personality was to emulate that of her royal Grandfather.

On August 21, 1930, the Duchess gave birth to another daughter, who was named Margaret Rose. Elizabeth might have been overshadowed in the public eye if her mother had given birth to a son but the arrival of Margaret Rose had the opposite effect. Queen Mary saw the danger of all of this –on one occasion, at Herrod’s one of London’s most prestigious stores, Queen Mary saw the little princess wriggling and asked if she wanted to go home. “Oh no Granny,” she said. “Think of all the people who are waiting to see us,” where upon Queen Mary had the little girl taken down the back way and sent home in a taxi. Gratifying the public, Elizabeth must learn was not an end in itself and being a royal was a matter of living out a role, not acting it.

When Elizabeth was 6 years old, Miss Crawford, her governess, organized a 6-day school curriculum for her, which included history, geography, Bible reading, with detailed emphasis on physical geography of the Dominions and India.

By the early 30’s life was taking on a pleasantly settled character for the Duke and Duchess of York and their two little daughters. It was about this time though that Edward, Prince of Wales first met Mrs. Wallis Simpson, which relationship led to his abdication in 1936 and put Elizabeth in direct line of succession to the throne. But even more important, it provided the awful example that overshadowed the Princess’s adolescence and remains a shadow over the royal family to this day, of how not to behave when one is blessed with the sacred trust of monarchy.

The Prince of Wales, David to his family, was Princess Elizabeth’s favorite uncle and he got great pleasure in indulging her. In her early childhood there was little suspicion a betrayal of this sacred trust by her uncle David. In fact, he seemed to be blazing a new trail for 20th century monarchy to follow. He had fought to get close to the trenches in World War I and had won. He had been the first member of the Royal family to speak on radio and other incidents seemed to herald a more democratic approach to monarchy in the future. He was a playboy though and had several affairs with women which King George and Queen Mary tried to ignore, for the prince was the rogue factor in the representative monarchy that thy had so painstakingly molded and which made for constant tension in the family.

Now began the bitterness over Wallis Simpson, a twice married woman, which divided the British royal family well into the reign of Queen Elizabeth II for feelings began to harden as he began parading his relationship with her in the autumn of 1934. He bought fabulous jewels for her form Cartier in Paris, and as if that were not enough, to which hurt King George and Queen Mary especially was that many of the jewels that Mrs. Simpson paraded were royal heirlooms from the priceless collection of the King’s mother Queen Alexandra, who bequeathed them to the Prince of Wales to be worn by his future wife.

It was in 1934-35 that people began to see a dulling of the Prince’s appetite for work and a boredom and irritation on his face as he carried out his public engagements. King George was greatly worried as he spent long hours of the last September of his life discussing the problems of his son with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

King George V died on January 20th, 1936; his death had taken everyone by surprise even tho’ he had been in bad health for sometimes. Before his father’s death, tho’ the Prince of Wales closest friends were talking about the possibility of him renouncing his right of succession in favor of his younger brother, the Duke of York.

Public opinion now began to focus upon the little Princess Elizabeth, who was now 10 years old but she was totally unaware of this.

Flouting the wishes of his elected government and pursuing personal enthusiasm with no regard for the reaction of the nation as a whole, Kind Edward VIII wanted to be himself on his own terms which was impossible. 

On the evening of November 16, 1936, he had dinner with his mother, Queen Mary, and spoke openly to her, for the first time, of his love for Mrs. Simpson. This was the parting of ways. In Edward’s eyes his duty was to the woman he loved rather than duty to the monarchy. Queen Mary wrote a letter to her son in 1938 giving him her interpretation of Duty from which are some excerpts, “You remember how miserable I was when you informed me of you intended marriage and abdication and how I implored you not to do so for our sake and for the sake of the country. You did not seem able to take in any point of view but your own. It seemed inconceivable to those who had made such sacrifices during the war, that you, as their king refused a lesser sacrifice. My feeling for you as your mother remains the same, and our being parted and the cause of it, grieve me by your words, after all, all my life I have put my country before everything else and simply can’t change now.”

On Friday, December 11, 1936, was the day that Princess Elizabeth formally became heir to the throne, for her father became King by the instrument of abdication which Edward had signed the day before. The Ex-King made his farewell broadcast that night which most of us remember, and I remember I cried.  (To be continued in the WHS Winter newsletter.)

EARLY RIVER DAYS

IN WILCOX COUNTY

A paper by Viola Liddell given for the Wilcox Historical Society, March, 1968

A few years ago I recall grieving over the fact that all the big things, all the progressive things, happening in the South were passing us by here in Wilcox county, But when we of this sleepy bend in the Alabama River, without a super highway, without an airway, with but a spur railroad and a handful of people, discovered that one of the largest paper and pulp mills in the world was locating here, we at first were startled, then skeptical, then, when we knew it was true, tremendously gratified that something of a miracle was really happening to us.

Thinking about other great things happening in our state set me to thinking that, by whatever names we may call them, giants are walking in our land. These giants, after slumbering for endless ages are just recently being awaked and, like Aladdin’s genie, being put to work. Our state was still dominated by King Cotton when the giants of coal and iron were aroused from their beds, mined, forged, and cast into the mighty muscles of tens of thousands of lesser giants of mechanized industry. The great green forest giant has come alive and now wherever he spreads his arms, other man-made giants of saw, and plane, and lathe have arisen. Only in the past few years has the great black oil giant risen from his millions of years of sleep under the skin of our earth and is shaking the southern portion of our state into a reservoir of industrial might.

The genial giants with which Nature has ever blessed Alabama – a temperate climate, abundant rainfall, rich soil – are just now being fully appreciated by those of us who have lived here always and even more so by those who have struggled in other areas with the inhospitable giants of snow and ice, heat and drought, rock and dust.

But perhaps the greatest giant of all – the wonder, life-giving giant of water – dozed and lazed leisurely on and on until the need for power and more power, mechanical and electrical, prodded him into flexing his muscles, first in the northern part of the state, then in the east and west, and at last in the south-central portion – particularly in Wilcox County when on April 15, 1963, Miller’s Ferry Lock and Dam and power house were begun. Once this giant is harnessed and put to work, other industries such as McMillan-Bloedel will come and cluster near his great sinews to receive strength of their endeavors. And people will come from miles around to find renewal of spirt in its thousands of acres of placid waters and evergreen play-grounds.

But since I must confine my talk to matters concerning Wilcox County, I have chosen for my subject that part of our beautiful and ever-lasting stream, the Alabama River, which is responsible for this new development in our county – one bound to be profound and far-reaching – how it has affected our lives in the past and how it has helped to mold and make us through our many eras of change. That it will be the maker and molder of life in Wilcox County for many years to come is a fore-gone conclusion.

There is no doubt that Wilcox County was in its pre-pioneer days heavily populated with Indians because of the length of the Alabama River passing through the county and because of the ample systems of creeks flowing into it. These waterways gave stability to Indian life as remains of their villages, mounds, relics, artifacts and history itself indicate.  And because of their stability the Indians here had reached a high degree of civilization before the white man came. There is strong evidence that besides the small villages that the great Indian city of Maubila where DeSoto decisively defeated the Maubilian Indians, was situated near the confluence of the Alabama and Pine Barren Creek in Wilcox County. Besides being a ready source of food, the streams were both highways and communication systems for the Indians.

Although DeSoto came overland into Alabama, most of the early explorers came up-river; traders in furs, French missionaries, English speculators, and finally settlers themselves. These pioneers used skiffs, rafts and keel-boats – the heavier craft for downstream traffic which, being too heavy to fight the upstream current, had to be built anew for each trip to the Gulf. But in the early 1800’s the Alabama River became a red carpet for the River Queens which churned and hooted through Alabama’s cotton kingdom taking out the white gold and bringing in all the kingdom needed to sustain and enhance it – from needles and plows to Italian marble and Parisian gowns.

Because of its tortuous course through its diagonal length, Wilcox County can boast of more miles of river frontage that any other county in the state, which fact is perhaps a reason for it having more river landings than any other during the steam-boat days. Another reason was that, as part of the Black Belt, Wilcox County was also part of this Cotton Kingdom which shared in a sort of Gone-with-the-Wind glory in ante-bellum days. Of eighty-four recorded landings in the county, many bore names of pioneer families, others of incidents buried in folklore. But all will for years to come sprinkle the conversation of our native inhabitants: Yellow Jacket, Prairie, Clifton, Walnut and Hurricane Bluffs; Tait’s, Burford’s, Ellis and Bridgeport landings; Cobb’s and Miller’s Ferries, and many, many more.

Once bustling points of traffic and travel, so much so that a typical one – Prairie Bluff – was at one time considered for the capitol of the state – now largely obliterated by the onslaughts of time and neglect, they are still bleak reminders of a past which, though brightly embroidered by nostalgia, will ever be cherished as places of refined and gracious living. Though the towns have disappeared, a few private homes of this era remain intact – the Starr, Ervin, Tait, and Harris homes, and the Shook and Beck (now the Darwin) homes in Camden, if Camden might be, and I feel that it can, be classified as a river town.

And the steamboats which plied the river, their memorable exploits and frightful disasters, as well as their colorful and intrepid captains, pilots and crews were as familiar topics of conversation to the past generation as moon rockets and space ships are today. Built for speed, beauty, and business, these River Queens, often called and quite often mis-called Floating Palaces, were the hand-maidens of King Cotton; and with the affluence of the ante-bellum era, were pace-setters for the social and economic life of the Black Belt of Alabama during those halcyon days. Some, with swept-back smoke stacks, decked out in fancy ginger-bread trim, were two hundred and more feet long and boasted of as many as six steel boilers. The pilot house perched atop the Texas which housed the officer quarters; below the Texas were the passenger deck and quarters; and near the water level, the freight deck with its cargo and crew of deck hands.

The early river boats were usually side-wheelers with powerful machinery, often pushed to dangerous and explosive pressures by the heart pine fed into their fire-boxes – plus fat-back or pure rosin when a race or delayed schedule demanded maximum speed. The later boats were often stern-wheelers which were considerably more dangerous in the unpredictable river waters. A special and exclusive whistle, a sort of trade-mark for each boat, elicited great pride and envy among captains and pilots, while a calliope – if the boat were prosperous enough to own one – furnished gay tunes for dockings and farewells or any festive occasion.   (To be continued in the WHS Winter newsletter.)                  

  

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:

Hello, I have been working on genealogy. My third great grandfather was John Jared Roach who lived in Camden, Alabama. He was born in 1811 and died in 1891. He was a lawyer and judge and married first to Martha Fluker Hill and second to Sarah Frierson. My Uncle remembers seeing a portrait of him in his robes somewhere in Montgomery he thought in a government building – this would have been around 1955. The state archives do not know anything about it though. I was just wondering if y’all have any information on John Jared Roach or know of this portrait.

Do you know if there are any records of the burials in Camden Cemetery? I have a genealogy book that says John Jared Roach is buried there but I notice his grave is not listed on FindAGrave. Thanks so much for everything. I would like to visit Camden one day.  Shannon Douglas Cotham, West Columbia, SC

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Camden Cemetery Association 2014 Camden Cemetery Survey compiled by WHS members, Will Liddell, Jr. and Ruth H. Liddell did not indicate a tombstone for Mr. Roach; only one for his second wife.

Hello, I need help with family information for the Jordan, Jackson, Reid and Englett families in Wilcox County as follows: Willie Eugene Jordan (1870-1902), Isabella Jackson Jordan Reid (1870-1938), Mary Bell Dunn Jackson (1840-1924), James Robert Jackson (1834-1895), Thomas w. Englett (1892-1957) and Thomas J. Englett (1848-1924). Thank you for any information!  Krista Pilkilton, Florence, AL

I came across a relative’s WWII US draft card that lists employment at W.M. McGowin Lumber Company in Pine Apple. His name was Willie Morris Henderson and he was living in Georgiana. I would love to know if the spelling is correct and a rough time period in which it was in operation. I live in Savannah Georgia and grew up in Panama City Florida. My mother was born in East Chapman, Butler County. Nearly all her relatives including brother, father and grandfather worked for W.T. Smith Lumber Company. Chriss Perkins, Savannah, GA

I am doing research on my great-grandmother, Minnie Lee Jay Forte. At age 7, according to the 1880 US Census, she was living in Fox’s Mills, ED 185, Wilcox, AL. I have tried to find this location with no success. I was wondering if someone at the Wilcox Historical Society could help me with this location.

I have found information on the Fox Mill Plantation and wondered if there was some area connection. My Great-Grandmother was orphaned at a young age and raised by her mother’s family “up in the Foxs Mill area”. Her parents and younger brother were “going west” but only got to Claiborne where there was a yellow fever outbreak. They were returning to their families in Wilcox County, but only got as far as McWilliams where the parents and brother died.

In the 1930s my grandfather met “an old-timer” at a store in McWilliams who remembered the story and said he could show my grandfather where they were buried beside the road outside of McWilliams. He had been told the little girl was taken to her family. Sadly, my grandfather was working and couldn’t go with the man. When he returned to the area, the man had died.

If someone could give me some clue as to the location of Fox’s Mills, ED 185, Wilcox, AL as listed on the 1880 census I would sincerely appreciate the help.

I have also bookmarked your site for information on the 2023 tour. I have taken several tours in Monroe County in the past, but only learned of the Wilcox tours today. Will be looking forward to attending in March 2023.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.
Sheila Forte Gresham Morrissey

I am looking for any information about the Moseley Place near Bellview in Wilcox County as mentioned in The Slave Narratives. Jim Phillips

I am interested in information about the L&N train route in Camden as it headed to the sawmill in Vredenburgh. David Boykin, Forestville, MD

We are looking for a contractor to help with some repairs at Snow Hill Institute. I am a grandson of the founder and would appreciate any referrals. Wendell Edwards, Northport, AL

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

  • Tuesday – Friday, November 1-4 -Trip to Natchez, Mississippi
  • Saturday, November 26 – Hunter Appreciation Day, Pine Apple
  • Saturday, December 3, 3-5pm -WHS Christmas Open House, Magnolia Glen, Furman
  • Sunday, December 18, 6:30pm – Christmas in Furman, Bethsaida Baptist Church
  • Thursday, February 23, 2pm – WHS Meeting, Female Institute, Tom McGehee, Speaker
  • Saturday, March 11, Time -TBD – WHS Trip to Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile
  • Friday–Saturday, March 24–25, 2023, WHS Tour of Homes, Pine Apple

A LOOK BACK…  

12 July 1878

Wilcox News and Pacificator, Camden

FATAMA ACADEMY

IS AT FATAMA, WILCOX CO., ALA.,

NINE MILES SOUTH OF CAMDEN

Open to young ladies and gentlemen, and solicits patronage in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Commercial Arithmetic, Book Keeping, English Grammar, Latin Grammar, Composition and Rhetoric, Phonography and Elocution, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and Plain and Ornamental Penmanship.

Specimen of Penmanship fresh from the pen of S.S. LANDRUM, Principal of Academy, Professor of Mathematics and Penmanship

June 14, 1878

27 July 1887

Wilcox Progressive Era, Camden

Miss Minnie Presley, who has been teaching music in N.C., returned to Oak Hill on the 19th inst.

W.J. Bonner, our efficient circuit clerk, was visiting relatives on Oak Hill last week.

Mr. E.I. McBryde’s store came very near being destroyed by fire on the 19th inst., in the following way: He had some fireworks left over from Christmas, among which was a substance composed of Sulphur and gun powder, which ignited, it is supposed, from the intense heat on that day, and but for the presence of his clerk and others, the store would certainly have been consumed.

In the adjoining beat, Fox’s Mill, DeWitt Sadler, accidently killed a Mr. Harrison, with a shot gun, on the 19th inst.

Sometimes ago one of our colored citizens was paid off by the railroad company and remarked that “he was going to Selma, get drunk, and kick up h—l generally.” I supposed he executed his threat, as the last that was heard of him, he was in the chain gang.

We noticed R. Harriss, of Pineapple, on the streets yesterday.

Several of our farmers report caterpillars.

Quivive 

5 March 1914

Wilcox Progressive Era, Camden

SEDAN

Sedan beat which was established about the time of the battle between the Germans and French, about 1870, is located in the south western part of our county and tradition has that it was given its name by the late Capt. E.R. Cannon, who was a German sympathizer. It is almost a level section of the Pursley and Gravel creek hills. There is however considerable broken and hilly lands. Here and nearby are the residences of Messrs. W.P. Preston, J.B. Sessions, D.J. McCarty, Capt. O.H. and W.F. Spencer, and others. Mr. D.J. McCarty, W. P. Preston, A.J. Bigger, J.B. Sessions and W.J. Griffin have stores in the beat, and D. J. McCarty, J.B. Sessions, S.C. McMurphy and A.J. Bigger have steam ginneries. Considerable cotton and corn is raised in the beat and much attention is given to hog and cattle raising. Bellview is the post office, and is at Mr. J.B. Session’s store. Reeve’s Chapel is a Methodist church of which Rev. Hastings in pastor.

19 March 1914

Wilcox Progressive Era, Camden

The railroad reached Camden in 1902, bringing in new citizens and putting new life into the old so that much of the town is now new with continued improvements, and very much of the credit for bringing this railroad to Camden is due to the efforts of Hon. S.D. Bloch.

6 June 1957

Wilcox Progressive Era, Camden

Graduation Exercises at Moore Academy

Graduation exercise of Moore Academy were held in the school gymnasium Thursday, May 23, at 8:00 p.m.

The invocation was given by the Reverend Robert Glass, pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church. The salutatory was given by Rosa Lee Jones and the valedictory by Winston Stuart.

The address was delivered by Dr. H.B. Woodward, former principal of Moore Academy and now director of the Bureau of Educational Research at the University of Alabama.

Honors and awards were presented by W.J. Jones, county superintendent, Mary Alice Jones received the Good Citizenship Girl award; and Winston Stuart, the Balfour award.

Roy F. Bragg, principal, presented diplomas to the following: Leon Girlie, Rosa Lee Jones, Julia P. Steen, Jr., Mary Alice Jones, Gordon Strickland, Doris Ann Beard, Winston Stuart, Barbara Faye Evans, Mary Effie Griffin and Lewis Jones. 

30 August 1962

Wilcox Progressive Era, Camden

Five Camden Boys Take Boat Trip

Five young men left very early Wednesday morning on a three-day boat trip which will take them to Cahaba and Selma before their return to the Camden landing Friday.

Fleet Lane, Bud Selsor, Ed Wetherbee, Charlies Wetherbee and Harry Ratcliff spent Tuesday night “on the river” so that they might be ready to shove off early Wednesday morning on the trip which should prove to be interesting and scenic.

The trip is being made in the 62-foot paddle wheel river boat designed by the father of one of the boys, Bob Lane of Camden, and also built by Mr. Lane with the help of his boys and some of the employees of Lane Butane Co,

The boat is spacious and well-built and completely powered with LP gas, as Mr. Lane says, “even to the whistle”.

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!

Wilcox Historical Society 2023 Tour of Homes Sponsorship Opportunities

DIAMOND SPONSOR – $7500 and above

• Name placed prominently in the Tour of Homes Brochure

• Recognition of your support at the Welcome Reception

• 4 Royal Package Tickets to the Tour of Homes – $1400 Value

• 2 Tickets to the Luncheon – $500 Value

• Personalized, Signed Copy of Seasons at Highclere – $50 value

• Complimentary 1 year membership in the Wilcox Historical Society

• Name included in all print/social media Tour Advertising

PLATINUM SPONSOR – $5000

• Name included in the Tour of Homes Brochure

• 2 Royal Package Tickets to the Tour of Homes – $700 Value

• 2 Tickets to the Luncheon – $500 Value

• Personalized, Signed Copy of Seasons at Highclere – $50 value

• Complimentary 1 year membership in the Wilcox Historical Society

• Name included in all print Tour Advertising

GOLD SPONSOR – $2500

• Name included in the Tour of Homes Brochure

• 2 Royal Package Tickets to the Tour of Homes – $700 Value

• Personalized, Signed Copy of Seasons at Highclere – $50 value

• Complimentary 1 year membership in the Wilcox Historical Society

SILVER SPONSOR – $1000

• Name included in the Tour of Homes Brochure

• 2 Highclere Package Tickets to the Tour of Homes – $300 Value

BRONZE SPONSOR – $500

• Name included in the Tour of Homes Brochure

• 1 Highclere Package Ticket to the Tour of Homes – $150 Value

TOUR SPONSOR – $250

• Name included in the Tour of Homes Brochure

• 2 Tour Package Tickets for the Tour of Homes – $100 Value

Checks should be made payable to the

Wilcox Historical Society

PO Box 464 Camden, Alabama 36726

Your potential tax deduction is based on the stated value for goods or services provided.

Wilcox Historical Society Tax Exempt #63-0737652

WHS December 2022 Happenings

On Saturday, December 3rd from 3 – 5PM, members of the Wilcox Historical Society and guests are invited to the annual Christmas Open House at Magnolia Glen – the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home in Furman. Come enjoy fellowship and refreshments!

Magnolia Glen, circa 1833, was featured in Victoria Magazine’s 2020 Christmas issue and was the featured home of the 2021 New Orleans Antique Forum. It has been featured on numerous Wilcox Historical Society homes tours and is simply breathtaking decorated for the Christmas season.

WHS October 2022 Happenings

Please plan on attending our next meeting, Sunday, October 9th, 2pm at Rosemary in the Millers Ferry area of Wilcox County near Camden.

Our speakers will be Mason McGowin, a descendant of the Mathews family; Carter Fowlkes, a descendant of the Cade and Mathews families, along with Rosemary owner, Brock Jones. They will share with us the history of the home and residents.

Rosemary Plantation sits near the Alabama River and was built on the highest land in the river valley. The home, circa 1856, was built for the Peter Early Mathews family on roughly 2,000 acres of land planted originally in cotton.

Near the home, a steamboat landing known as “Mattie’s Landing” named for Peter and Virginia’s daughter, Mattie, allowed for the transfer of freight and passengers.

Everyone is welcome to attend! We do hope our guests consider becoming a Wilcox Historical Society member and help us preserve the history of Wilcox County, Alabama.

(Click here for a link to our WHS Winter 2022 newsletter for history of Rosemary Plantation and the Mathews family.)

WHS September 2022 Happenings

Our next meeting will be Sunday afternoon, September 18th at 2pm at the Wilcox Female Institute in Camden.

Dr. Ashley A. Dumas will be speaking on The Search for Mabila and Medieval Spaniards in Alabama.

“For more than a century, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists have scoured areas of west Alabama in search of the remains of Mabila – a fortified Indian village where, in October 1540, the forces of notorious Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto clashed with Native American warriors under the direction of their dynamic leader, Chief Tascalusa.” This battle is believed to be the largest battle every found between Europeans and the indigenous people of North America.

Now supported by a growing collection of artifacts, Dr. Dumas and the University of West Alabama team are convinced they are within a few miles of finding the site of the town and the infamous battle.

Dr. Dumas is the Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of West Alabama in Livingston. She is an archaeologist specializing in the late prehistory and history of the Southeastern United States.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

The Wilcox Historical Society is sponsoring a classical music concert Saturday night, September 24th at 7:00 pm at the Camden ARP Church. Entitled “Mozart and Friends,” this concert marks the return of the Harvest Arts Ensemble to Camden. Following the concert there will be a reception and Art Show at the Female Institute.

The concert will feature a Harp Quintet including performers on Violin, Viola, and Cello in addition to Wilcox County favorites Madeline Cawley, Flute and Hannah Cope Johnson, Harp. The violinist and violist perform with the Nashville Symphony and the cellist just returned from a nationwide Broadway Tour of Oklahoma! Over forty tickets have already been sold for this concert.
“We are thrilled to be hosting another world class concert in Camden” stated WHS President Lance Britt. “We hope everyone will seize this opportunity to experience an evening of fantastic music including Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp.” To purchase tickets: eventbrite.com.

We look forward to seeing you soon in Camden! Questions? Email wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com .

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

Featured

Tour of Homes 2023

The Tour of Homes will be held Saturday, March 25, 2023 from 10 am – 5 pm and will feature nine homes, two churches and other historic sites in Pine Apple!

We are excited to welcome the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon of Downton Abbey’s unforgettable Highclere Castle as the Guest Speaker of our 2023 Tour of Homes in Pine Apple!

Lady Carnarvon

For our Royal, Golden, and Highclere Ticket Holders, the weekend starts Friday, March 24th, with our 2023 Guest Speaker, the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle, site of the hit series “Downton Abbey.” The Wilcox Historical Society and Lady Carnarvon offer a day full of royal experiences March 24. From a lovely luncheon to an exclusive champagne adorned conversation at Wakefield, you’ll spend the day sharing and celebrating with Lady Carnarvon during her first visit to Alabama.

2023 TICKET PACKAGES

THE ROYAL PACKAGE $400 per person Only 10 tickets available

Our most exclusive option. Lady Carnarvon will share a glass of champagne and conversation at historic Wakefield Plantation, with Royal Guests prior to Friday Evening’s Welcome Reception. In addition, you will receive a personalized, signed copy of her book. Cocktail Attire Required. Valet parking will be provided. The Royal Package includes:

Exclusive, Private Cocktail Party Friday 3/24 – 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Welcome Reception, The Highclere Experience Friday 3/24 – 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Ticket to Tour of Homes, Pine Apple, AL Saturday 3/25 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Personalized, Signed Copy of Seasons at Highclere

* The Royal Package does not include Friday Morning’s Luncheon with Lady Carnarvon.

THE GOLDEN PACKAGE $300 per person Only 100 tickets available

Start your day with an exclusive luncheon where you will meet and have a photo opportunity with our guest of honor, The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon. She will open Tour Weekend with welcome remarks followed by a traditional Southern Luncheon at historic Wakefield Plantation. Golden Guests will receive a signed copy of her book Seasons at Highclere as well. The Golden Package includes:

Private luncheon and photo opportunity w/ Lady Carnarvon Friday 3/24 – 11:00 am – 1:00pm

Ticket to Tour of Homes, Pine Apple, AL Saturday 3/25-10:00 am-5:00pm

Signed Copy of Seasons at Highclere

* The Golden Package does not include Friday Evening’s Welcome Reception with Lady Carnarvon.

THE HIGHCLERE PACKAGE $200 per person Only 240 tickets available

Join us for our Tour of Homes Welcome Reception at historic Wakefield Plantation, the Highclere Experience, featuring our guest speaker the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon. She will share her experiences preserving her home Highclere Castle with a visual presentation followed by a question and answer session with Lady Carnarvon. Live music, wine, and heavy hor d’oeuvres as well as a Highclere Gin Station will add to the festivities as we toast the start of our Tour. Cocktail Attire. Valet parking will be provided. The Highclere Package includes:

Welcome Reception, The Highclere Experience Friday 3/24 – 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Ticket to the Tour of Homes, Pine Apple, AL Saturday 3/25 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

THE TOUR PACKAGE $50 per person 500 tickets available

Discover the beauty of Pine Apple, Alabama, Saturday, March 25th, 2023, as you explore nine beautiful homes, two historic churches, and its impressive school building, Moore Academy. During your visit you will experience stunning architecture, rich history, and quintessential Southern hospitality.

* All ticket packages include a Tour of Homes Ticket, Saturday, March 25, and a complimentary Southern Breakfast Served at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill, Alabama from 8:30 am – 10:00 am Saturday Morning, 3/25.

SIGNED BOOK OPTION $50 per book Only 100 available

Lady Carnarvon will personally sign a copy of her latest book Seasons at Highclere. Take home an autographed copy as a keepsake of this special weekend. One signed book comes with the Royal & Golden Packages.

Highclere Castle

We will release ticket information on November 1 to members with tickets going on sale to the general public on December 1 at 12 AM.

Eventbrite Ticket link here!

More information on the homes featured on the Tour coming soon!

LODGING SUGGESTIONS – We strongly suggest you make reservations EARLY as lodging options are limited.

GREENVILLE, ALABAMA – 30 minutes from Pine Apple

1. Hampton Inn, Greenville, AL

219 Interstate Dr, Greenville, AL 36037

334-382-9631

2. Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Greenville, AL

100 Paul Stabler Dr, Greenville, AL 36037

334-382-2444

3. Comfort Inn, Greenville, AL

1029 Fort Dale Rd, Greenville, AL 36037

334-383-9595

CAMDEN, ALABAMA – 25 minutes from Pine Apple

1. Liberty Hall Bed & Breakfast – SOLD OUT

2. Capell House Bed & Breakfast – SOLD OUT

3. Pleasant Ridge Bed & Breakfast – SOLD OUT

4. Roland Cooper State Park

Roland Cooper State Park in Camden, Alabama, offers mini cabins that have been popular with Tour of Homes guests for several years.

Cabins 10, 11, 24, 31, & 40 are est. 400 sq. ft., two bedrooms, with a queen bed in one room and two sets of bunk beds in the other room. There is a full bath, kitchen, living room, and exterior deck. These cabins are located within the camping loop.

Cabins 21-1 and 22 are ADA accessible. Cabin 22 is one bedroom with two queen beds, a full bath, kitchen, and living room. Cabin 21-1 is one bedroom with one queen bed, a full bath, kitchen, and living room.

The 408 square foot cabins, sleep 4-6 people and rent for $125.00 per day and $700.00 weekly.

TWO FLOOR PLANS

There are two floor plans available. Some of the cabins have two bedrooms and can sleep up to six people. There is a master bedroom with a queen bed. The other bedroom has two sets of bunks and sleeps four people.

One of the “tiny house” cabins is ADA compliant. It has one bedroom with two queen beds and has a wheelchair friendly bathroom and shower. All of the doorways are wide enough for wheelchair mobility. This cabin also has a wheelchair ramp to the main entrance.

All of the cabins have a full kitchen with a gas range, microwave oven, coffee maker and fridge with an ice maker. The kitchen is fully stocked with dishes, pots and pans and utensils. Each have a dinette area with TV and all of the units have central heat and AC.

Reservations can be made online or by calling the office at 334-682-4838.

5. Lakeside Cabins

Lakeside RV & Cabin Rentals is located on the Camden Bypass, 25 minutes from Pine Apple. This 7 cabin/9 RV park has just added “The Hank,” a 2 bedroom (queen), 2 bath, with kitchen, WIFI & cable TV.

The “Sadie”, “Kaleb”, “Brett”, & “Avery” are 1-bedroom (2 full), 1 bath cabins.

The “Sophie” is a 2 bedroom (1 queen/1 king) 1 bath with kitchen.

There are also 9 RV sites with full hook-up & WIFI, plus excellent cell service.

For reservation or information call 334-740-2005.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Lady Carnarvon’s visit and the 2023 WHS Tour of Homes in lovely Pine Apple please contact us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.

© Highclere Castle 2015 © Adam Hillier Photography

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