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 email@example.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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . ☼
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 email@example.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
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, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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