Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Summer 2019

The 2019 Tour of Homes – A Resounding Success!

The 2019 Tour of Homes was a resounding success with a crowd of over 800 attending. The tour weekend of March 22-23 began with a Welcome Reception held at the Wilcox Female Institute on Friday night. Sponsored by WHS members Chris Bailey and Ryan Dunagan and The Brittany House Antiques, the night was spectacular – from the flowers to the food. Music was provided by harpist, Katherine Newman of the Huntsville Symphony. The guest speaker was Sarah Duggan who entertained everyone with her visual presentation on The Furniture of Wilcox County.  The art of Johnna Bush featuring some of Camden’s historical landmarks was also on display.

For those wanting to get an early start Saturday morning an early breakfast was provided by the Britt family at The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill.

The Tour began at 10AM with six homes open along with the Beck Miller Law Office (Tour Headquarters), the Old Shoe Shop Museum, the old Wilcox County Jail, Coast to Coast Hardware Store, Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center, the Wilcox Female Institute and the Dale Lodge.  he historic homes on the 2019 tour were the Bell-Moore House (RiverBend), St. Mary’s Church – Hamilton House, the Sterrett-McWilliams House, the Capell House at Pebble Hill, the Bethea-Strother-Stewart House (Pleasant Ridge), and the Jones-McIntosh-Hicks House.

THANK YOU to the homeowners for sharing their homes! THANK YOU to Elizabeth Grimes Reaves for serving as the Tour Coordinator (again). THANK YOU to all of those who worked “behind the scenes” to make sure the Tour was a success! THANK YOU to everyone who attended! It was a memorable weekend and one to highlight our Wilcox County history!

We were happy to host a thank you dinner for the homeowners at Gainesridge on July 13.

Mark your calendars for next year’s tour – Saturday, March 28, 2020! Watch for more details in the next newsletter and on Facebook!

WHS January Meeting with Dr. James Lamb

Dr. James Lamb, the Black Belt Museum Director and Curator of Paleontology and professor at The University of West Alabama spoke to the WHS at its first meeting of 2019 on January 24. Dr. Lamb shared with the group several exhibits and explained the Museum’s mission – to collect, preserve and interpret the rich history of the Black Belt and the diversity of the region. If you would like to contact the museum located in Livingston call 205.652.3828 or email blackbeltmuseum@uwa.edu.

Pie and Billy Malone graciously welcomed over 50 members and guests into their home for the meeting and presentation. ~

Upcoming WHS Meetings

The next WHS meeting will be 2PM, Thursday, September 19 at the Wilcox Female Institute. Jay Lamar, Executive Director of the Bicentennial Commission of Alabama will be our speaker.

We were fortunate to be one of the first sites for the bicentennial traveling exhibit which we experienced at the Gee’s Bend Ferry Terminal Facility in Camden. We look forward to having Jay speak to us toward the end and the culmination of Alabama’s bicentennial.

On Thursday, November 14 at 2PM our meeting will be held at the McWilliams Baptist Church on Holly Street in McWilliams. McWilliams is located on Highway 21 about 7 miles south of Oak Hill. Look for signs directing you to the church.

Our speaker will be Philip Winters. He will be sharing with us the history of Winters Excelsior Company, his family’s business started in 1915 in McWilliams. Refreshments will be after the meeting at the home of Beth and Bob Yoder, 210 Cedar Street in McWilliams. ~

INQUIRIES AND COMMENTS

We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page, Instagram page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries please let us know and we will be happy to pass it along or put you in contact with the interested party. Our email address is wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. We also love receiving comments on our posts on the WHS Facebook page. Here are a few inquiries and comments received in 2019:

I am helping a lady in my community research the Nathaniel McCall family for membership in DAR. The last place I see Nathaniel is Wilcox County purchasing land on 10 April 1837. He married Mary Johnson on 2 December 1807 in Bullock County, GA. I think his parents were Charles and Nancy Williams McCall. I need to prove that Nathaniel and Mary had a daughter named Rebecca McCall who married Jesse Williams. V. Golden, Russellville, AR

Does anyone have any clues for me in researching my great-grandmother from Camden, Amandtine McKinnie Pritchett? L. Owen

I recently read an obituary from the Wilcox Progressive Era, January 15, 1931, that mentioned the Methodist Episcopal Church South in Bursonville being “blown away.” Hoping someone can explain what happened. Apparently, it was rebuilt in McWilliams. K. Christison

My great grandparents are here – Will and Delia McIntosh. V. Rose (Editor’s Note: comment on WHS Facebook photos of Jordan Cemetery and Church, Neenah, AL)

I am looking to visit the area as my family is from here. We are the descendants of Percy Smith (white) and Annie Craig Taylor (African American). They had 4 daughters – Pauline, Sarah, Mamie and Bernice. We started researching in 2011 and I just received my DNA results as well. Also, Percy Smith’s last living 1st grandchild & oldest passed away this month prompting me to want honor for his children. I am their great granddaughter. W. Harmon, Romulus, MI

I am planning to visit Camden in June. My parents were good friends of Dr. Emmett Kilpatrick and Rev. Kennedy. They were married  in the ARP Church and my siblings and I were all christened there. I have not been inside the church since 1969! I would love to see if I could get inside the church. Thanks. S. Wilson, Tallassee, AL

My ancestors Robert Dewilda George and Elizabeth David McMillan married in Camden on March 23, 1864. Any information you have about them would be appreciated, but I am particularly looking for a picture. Thank you. S. Graham

I am trying to collect a little history on my family for my husband’s 60th birthday. I have found that one of his ancestors is buried in Camden Cemetery. Since I know that I won’t be able to travel to Alabama, I am wondering if you could help me? The person in question is Ernest C. Lyons. I’d be forever grateful. M. Holbrook, Midlothian, VA (Editor’s Note: a photo was taken and forwarded to Holbrook.)  

Love this post…just hitting the heart icon wasn’t enough. S. Mendenhall, Gettysburg, PA (Editor’s Note: This was a comment on a WHS Facebook post regular feature – Tombstone Tuesday. Bertha Matheson Adams (1892-1972) was the subject of the post in April.)

The following comments about the 2019 Tour of Homes were received on the WHS Facebook page:

A whole lot of hard work and love went into this pilgrimage. L. Norman, Decatur, AL

What a perfect day! We had so much fun! Many thanks to all the owners who graciously opened their homes and to all of the people who made this tour of homes possible! B. Smith, Birmingham, AL

It was such a perfect event! Thank you to everyone that worked so hard on it. Camden at its finest! K. Fountain, Mobile, AL

A beautiful full day of lovely homes! A. McNeely, Mobile, AL ~

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Camden in the News

Have you noticed the positive publicity around the state for Camden recently? In May, AL.com featured The Pecan on Broad in an article titled, “Upscale eatery and market give this small town in Alabama new life.” On the front page of the Mobile Press Register in June was this headline “One Pecan turns town on its head – In Little Camden, two newcomers show what’s possible when you think big.” Also, in June, The Federalist published an article featuring local resident Betty Anderson – “How this Slave Descendant celebrates Juneteenth in Alabama and you can too!” DesignAlabama published an article titled “Revitalizing Camden” in July. And Alabama Magazine featured Camden in the July/August issue. Way to go Camden! ~

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Don’t forget to follow us on social media! We have over 1,300 followers on Facebook and want you to be one of them! And since opening our account earlier this year – we have 460 followers on Instagram. ~

Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2019 – Martha Grimes Lampkin, President and Editor, Garland Cook Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson, Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary, Anne Farrell McKelvey Wright, Treasurer and LaJunta Selsor Malone, Curator ~

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A LOOK BACK…

29 JUNE 1869 FROM THE WILCOX NEWS AND PACIFICATOR

(Camden, Alabama)

Commencement Ball

The Commencement Ball, under the direction of Mr. Willard H. Andrews, on Friday night last, at the Masonic Hall, was a complete success. We acknowledge the receipt of a complimentary ticket. It was largely attended, and many danced until a very late hour, and went away seemingly well satisfied with themselves and the Ball. But few, however, from some cause or other, came out in costume, as was at first intended, but those few certainly deserve credit. Had all appeared in costume, the interest would have been more manifest, and the spectacle more imposing.

A fine Supper was prepared by Col. J. L. Godbold, the clever proprietor of the Camden Hall, to which we were invited. The table was abundantly supplied with many of the delicacies of life, and all did full justice to them. Col. Godbold knows how to get up a good Supper on such occasions.

3 JULY 1903 FROM THE LIVING TRUTH

(Greenville, Alabama)

Branch Road Down L & N

Surveyors in The Field Running a Line out to The Little City of Pine Apple in Wilcox County.

That Town on a Boom

A gentleman who was been down into Wilcox County visiting the little town of Pine Apple, brings back a glowing account of the rapid progress that little city is making at this particular time.

He informed a reporter for The Times that a bank with a paid up capital of $40,000 had been organized, and that was ample to secure the confidence of the business public. Pine Apple is the center of a large cotton growing area and a bank will be a great benefit to the town.

A surveying party is in the field now for the purpose of running a spur for the L. & N. out to the town of Pine Apple, a distance of two miles. The money to build the spur is in hand and Pine Apple is sure to have a road running into its corporate limits at an early date.

A road is already being built toward a big saw mill, some thirteen miles out of Greenville in a straight line for Pine Apple, and the purpose of the citizens is to fill in that gap and have a line connecting Greenville and Pine Apple in the near future. They mean business and may accomplish what they are driving at.

Selma Times 

11 MAY 1906 THE LIVING TRUTH

(Greenville, Alabama)

Judge Beck is Dead; Prominent Wilcox

Selma, Ala., May 7, Judge J. T. Beck, probate judge of Wilcox County, died at a private infirmary here at an early hour this morning. Judge Beck was brought to Selma from his home at Camden about a month ago suffering from an abscess on the liver. Medical aid could do him no good and of late he had been gradually sinking until the end came this morning. His remains were carried to Camden today for interment. Judge Beck was one of the most popular men of Wilcox county and was known throughout the state.

31 JANUARY 1908 THE LIVING TRUTH

(Greenville, Alabama)

Oil Indications.

The well being bored for oil at McWilliams, in Wilcox county, is down 700 feet and the indications are all good for a strike.

1 JULY 1948 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA (Camden, Alabama)

Arlington News

Mr. and Mrs. P.F. Smitherman were joined here Sunday by Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Dickson of Orrville and motored to Selma to attend the DeWitt – Trainham wedding.

The Home Demonstration Club met at the home of Mrs. Murphy Vice Friday afternoon.

Friends of Mr. F.F. Harris regret to learn that it was necessary for him to return to Selma for medical treatment. We hope for him a speedy recovery.

Mrs. Boyd Agee is visiting her son, Mr. F.K. Agee and family of Athens.

A crowd of young people motored to Millers Ferry Sunday afternoon, where they enjoyed swimming.

Kimbrough News

Miss Sarah Rankin of Magnolia former Frisco agent here, spent Friday and Saturday with Mrs. Harris.

Mr. R.A. Burge was a business visitor in Selma Thursday. He accompanied Mr. Alonzo Agee.

Mrs. Newton and three children have returned from Springfield, MO., after a two weeks vacation.

Misses Ollie Ruth and Reba Autrey attended the Lowery-Gaddy wedding in Sunny South Sunday afternoon. Both were attendants in the wedding.

Mr. L.C. Sealey made a business trip to Shreveport, La., last week.

Pine Hill News

Mr. and Mrs. Lacey Huey and son of Hueytown spent last week with her mother, Mrs. O.L. Lyles and family.

Miss Virginia Dare Simpkins is visiting her aunt, Mrs. W.P. Dunn, Mr. Dunn and her grandmother, Mrs. Simpkins.

Mrs. L.H. Mayo has returned from a visit to relatives in Citronelle.

Mrs. J.M. Finley and granddaughter, Jimmie Ann Vaughn have returned from a visit to Mobile and Galveston, Texas. ~

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Welcome New Members! Welcome *Life Members!

From Alabama – Camden – Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Abel, Mr. and Mrs. Reid Abel, *Ms. Laura Agee, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Creswell, *Ms. Susan Cade McKelvey; Mobile – Ms. Jan Weekly; Pine Apple – Mrs. Philip Winters; Oak Hill – *Mr. and Mrs. Ivey Griffin; Franklin – Mr. and Mrs. Tim Griffin and Sweet Water – Mr. Dewayne Allday

From New York, New York – Mr. David L. Brown

From Stone Mountain, Georgia – Ms. Jonnie Ramsey Brown

Thank you!

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Upcoming Events in 2019

  • October 19 – Pine Hill Depot Day
  • November 30 – Hunter Appreciation Day in Pine Apple
  • December 7 – Christmas Open House at the Palmer-Britt home in Furman, 2PM-4PM
  • December 22 – Christmas in Furman

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Please encourage others to become a member of the Wilcox Historical Society! Annual dues are $20 for a couple, $15 for single. Lifetime dues are $200 for a couple and $150 for single. A membership form is available on our website: WilcoxHistoricalSociety.org. Or if you prefer, please mail dues to: P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 and be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks!

 

Alabama Historical Association Fall Pilgrimage in Camden

AHA Tour

We are very pleased to welcome back the Alabama Historical Association to Camden! Not since 1980 has the AHA held a meeting in Wilcox County.

Friday, October 26 will be the pre-meeting in Furman at 1:30 PM.  The tour begins at Bethsaida Baptist Church. The sites to see in Furman will be Wakefield, Bethsaida Baptist Church, Furman Methodist Church, the Moore-Burson-Rushing home and the Palmer-Britt home and the newly restored Deerfield – the Perdue-Estes-Suggs home. Several special presentations are planned for the afternoon.

Also on Friday in Furman, the Britt family is hosting a full reception following the tour of their home for all participants.

The meeting will begin Saturday morning, October 27 in Camden. Registration, coffee and book sales will begin at 9 AM at the Dale Lodge. At 10:30 a program by Camden native, Daniel Fate Brooks will begin at the Camden United Methodist Church. After lunch beginning at 12:30, tours of homes in Camden and other sites will begin. The sites to see in Camden include the Jones-McIntosh-Hicks home, the Bagby-Beck-Horn-Liddell-Burford home, the Thompson-Spurlin-Matthews-Curry home, Old St. Mary’s Church-Hamilton home, the Sterrett-McWilliams home, the Wilcox Female Institute, Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, the First Presbyterian Church, Dale Lodge, the Camden United Methodist Church, the Shoe Shop Museum, and the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center. Tours will end at 5 PM.

The registration fee is $40 per person which includes lunch on Saturday. Registrations must be received by October 17. Registration is available online using PayPal at www.alabamahistory.net.  Or checks payable to Alabama Historical Association can be mailed to: Alabama Historical Association, c/o CMD Center for the Arts & Humanities, Pebble Hill, Auburn University, AL 36849. Questions? Email alabamahistory@gmail.com.

Homes of the River’s Bend Tour

Homes of the River’s Bend Tour – March 25, 20172017-Tour-of-Homes-Brochure-Cover

Enjoy the Spring Tour of some of our area’s most beloved homes.

This year’s theme is “A Tour of the River’s Bend” as we open up homes in Canton Bend, Possum Bend, Sedan, and Camden.

Tickets are available at the Gee’s Bend Ferry Terminal and Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center.

$20 for adults
$10 for youth.

For advanced tickets/group rates or additional information, please call (334) 682-4929.

 

Wilcox County Plantation Tour – September 27, 2003

The Wilcox Historical Society is sponsoring a special event on Saturday, September 27, 2003 in which historical homes, churches, and other sites in the Dry Fork, Possum Bend, Canton Bend “Plantation Bend” area of the Alabama River will be open for tour. The pilgrimage will start at 9:00 AM and conclude at 6:00 PM.  Tour headquarters will be the Wilcox Female Institute located on Broad Street in the town of Camden.  The price will be $15 for adults and $5 for students. Lunch will be available at GainesRidge Dinner Club and the Belleville Restaurant.  Funds raised from the event will be used to maintain the Female Institute, Beck-Miller Law Office, and to aid in the restoration of the Dunn-Fairley-Bonner Home which has been donated to the Wilcox Historical Society.

Homes scheduled to be on tour include “Youpon”(shown herein), Dry Fork Plantation, and many others which will announced in the Spring.  In addition, the Dunn-Fairley-Bonner Home, the Beck Miller Law Office, Canton Bend Methodist Church and Cemetery, and Camden Cemetery will be available for tour

Furman Spring Pilgrimage – April 12, 2003

Wakefield in Furman

The Furman Civic Club is sponsoring a one day event on Saturday, April 12, 2003 in which historical homes, churches, and sites in the Furman area will be open for tour. The tour will start at 9:00 AM and conclude at 6:00 PM. Tour headquarters will be the Furman Community Center (old school) located on Highway 59. The price will be $10 for adults and $5 for students, and lunch will be available at the school. Funds raised from the event will be used to maintain the Community Center and fund National Historic District signs to be placed on Highway 21.

Homes scheduled to be on tour include “Wakefield”, the classic steamboat gothic house featured in Silent in the Land, Patience Plantation, the Purifoy/Lipscomb home featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Thirteen Ghosts and Jeffrey, “Fox Hill”, recently restored by Don and Katrina Bell, the Stabler Home, the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, and several other homes not previously on tour. In addition, Bethsaida Baptist Church, Furman Methodist Church, Palmer Cemetery, Old Snow Hill Cemetery, and Snow Hill Cemetery will be available for tour.

Furman was designated a National Historic District in 1999 and has many antebellum homes and structures still standing. The town has a fascinating history beginning circa 1802 when the first settlers came to the area from South Carolina. Most of the Wilcox County towns were settled by Scotch and English settlers, and Furman also to some degree. However, many of the early settlers of Furman came from the South Carolina low country and were of French ancestry. The Snow family settled on the high hill now the site of Old Snow Hill Cemetery around this date, and thus the present day Furman community was known as Snow Hill. It was renamed Furman at a later date, and a new community was founded a few miles to the west – Snow Hill. Furman Academy was a popular school in the late 1800’s and is the predecessor of present day Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Some fascinating persons came from this small town, including Elkanah Burson, an attache’ to General Robert E. Lee. Mr. Burson, a original member of the Wilcox True Blues company and later to serve in the Alabama House of Representatives, delivered the Confederacy surrender papers to General Ulysses Grant at Appomattox. He then returned home to Furman. (His great granddaughter is now the owner of Wakefield.) Some direct descendants of these original settlers still own homes and property in Furman, and will be hosts at the pilgrimage.