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

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Spring 2020

WHS 2020 Tour of Homes

Treasures of the Old South!

The Tour weekend which was originally planned for March 27th – 28th has been rescheduled to September 25th – 26th. The entire weekend’s events are the same – beginning on Friday at 6:30 PM with a Welcome Reception at RiverBend, circa 1848, with wine and hor d’oeuvres. Owners Christopher Bailey and Ryan Dunagan have completed a full restoration of this country residence and its grounds. The highlight of this special evening will begin at 8:00 PM with our guest speaker, Mr. James Farmer, Southern author and interior designer.

Everyone attending the reception must take the shuttle from the Wilcox Female Institute – there will be NO parking at RiverBend.

On Saturday morning, September 26th, all ticket holders are invited to The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill with a complimentary Southern breakfast from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM.

The historic homes on tour this year from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday include Yaupon – the Matthews-Tait-Rutherford Home, River Bluff Plantation – the Beck-Bryant-Talbot Home, the Strother-Gibbs Home, the Beck-Darwin-Hicks Home and House on the Hill – the Liddell-Phillippi Home.

This year’s tour also includes a Living History event at Liberty Hall. The grounds of Liberty Hall will be the scene of a reenactment portrayed by Company F of the 31st Alabama Infantry CSA and the 20th Kentucky Volunteers USA. This family unit represents both sides of the War and will reenact the day in April of 1865 when Union troops arrived at Liberty Hall with the intent to destroy it.

At 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM the living historians will reenact the arrival of Union troops to Liberty Hall. At noon, living historian, Scotty Myers, will appear as Jefferson Davis and will speak from the balcony of the house. His presentation is based on actual speeches Davis gave while traveling through Alabama in 1864.

The hall and formal rooms of Liberty Hall will be open for touring.

Churches in downtown Camden on the Tour are the First Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Also on Tour will be the Old Shoe Shop Museum, owned and directed by Ms. Betty Anderson, the Beck-Miller Law Office and the Old Wilcox County Jail in downtown Camden.

Lunch will be served at the following locations from 11 AM to 2 PM: the Dale Lodge – BBQ and sides, Wilcox Female Institute by Blue Spoon Cooking Company, and The Pecan on Broad – sandwiches, salads, sides and desserts.

Tickets to the Tour Package (including the Friday night reception, breakfast and the Tour) are $40. Group ticket price is $35 (available for groups of 10 or more), WHS Members $30, Student Admission $25 and Children 6 and under are free.

In addition, the Furman Historical Society is sponsoring a Pilgrimage Ball at Wakefield in Furman on Saturday night, September 26th from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM featuring period music by the Un-Reconstructed string band. Guests are encouraged to wear period civilian dress from the antebellum era or formal attire.

Tickets to the Pilgrimage Ball at Wakefield are $75 per person or $150 per couple. All proceeds will go to the preservation and restoration of historic structures in the Town of Furman.

Tickets are on sale now and can be bought locally at Black Belt Treasures Cultural Art Center, The Pecan on Broad or at The Brittany House Antiques at Oak Hill or online at Eventbrite.com. Please note that only full price adult tickets are available online.

Tickets may also be purchased on Friday, September 25th at Tour Headquarters, the Wilcox Female Institute, from 2:30 PM to 6:30 PM and on the day of the Tour from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

Everyone must pick up 2020 arm bands and maps at tour headquarters – Wilcox Female Institute – 301 Broad Street in Camden.

For more information call the Tour Coordinator at 256-975-7616 or email wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or see our Facebook page, Instagram page or website wilcoxhistoricalsociety.org.

Let’s all enjoy this special Weekend in Wilcox! ♦


WHS November Meeting

 The WHS met on November 14th at the Wilcox Female Institute to hear Dr. James P. Pate, independent scholar and historian, and Emeritus Professor of History at the University of West Alabama.

Dr. Pate spoke on his book The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama. This book was a special edition published as part of our state’s bicentennial.

The meeting was well attended by over 25 members and guests including some former students of Dr. Pate’s. ♦


Christmas In Furman

THANK YOU to the Britt family for hosting the annual WHS Christmas Open House at their historic home in Furman on December 7th. ♦


WHS February Meeting

 The Wilcox Female Institute was the site of the February 6th WHS meeting. Sarah Duggan of New Orleans was the featured speaker. “Field Work Finds: Historic Furniture in Wilcox County” was the topic of the program.

Ms. Duggan is the Coordinator and Research Curator of the Classical Institute of the South, a project of The Historic New Orleans Collection that documents historic decorative arts made or used in the Gulf South. With help from graduate student fellows, she conducts annual summer field work across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to explore the region’s material culture.

Many will recall that she spoke last March to tour participants at the Friday evening welcome reception before the Tour of Homes.

About 30 members and guests enjoyed the program. ♦


Letter from the President

Dear WHS members and friends,

Our March 27th -28th Tour of Homes has been rescheduled due to the Corona virus outbreak. A huge THANK YOU goes to Lance Britt, our Tour Coordinator, for the countless hours of phone calls, texts and emails he made to work out the details to reschedule. The support of all of our homeowners is phenomenal and we look forward to a successful Pilgrimage six months from now!

According to Lance, as of this week we have sold tickets to over 600 people from nine states – Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New York and Virginia.

In other news, we will soon be forming a few committees to help guide the WHS into the future. Committees will include Planning / Fundraising, Pilgrimage, Membership and Marketing. Let me know how you would like to serve.

To say there is a lot of interest in Wilcox County history is an understatement. We receive many requests for family history information and requests about various Wilcox County sites. If you are interested in being a resource for county history please let me know. Currently there are no researchers available for hire that I am aware of and being able to share some resources would be a wonderful service to those researching their roots!

I have the pleasure of serving as President and Editor of the WHS for the fourth year.  I like to think my grandmother, Frances Donald Dudley Grimes, one of the first Presidents of WHS, is smiling down on us and proud that the organization is strong and active!

Thank you for your continued support of the Wilcox Historical Society!

Best regards,

Martha Grimes Lampkin, President and Editor

(334) 296-1076

wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com


Member Spotlight –

A native of Birmingham, Mary Margaret Fife Kyser and her husband, George resided in Montgomery for thirty-seven years. She taught history at Carver and Baldwin Arts and Academic Magnet and The Montgomery Academy. She later served as the Assistant Director / Senior Services of MACCOA, Montgomery Area Council on Aging.

Mary Margaret and George, a native of Carlowville, built a retirement home on the River and moved to Camden two years ago. She became active in Wilcox Artworks and founding of The Gallery. She has volunteered with Black Belt Treasures and has taught art to youth in the community. She also serves as the Senior Warden of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Carlowville. Mary Margaret was elected as Treasurer for WHS this year.

She and George have one daughter, Mart Patton Kyser Whitten, one grandson and two dogs. ♦


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! ♦

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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 since our last newsletter:

Any information about the Young family from Wilcox County? I’m looking for more info on my 2nd great grandmother Amelia Young b. 1858. My great grandfather was Zach Young b. 1893. F. Young

 I am looking for information related to my mother and father who were both born in Camden. Their names were Estella Pritchett and Herbert Aaron. Estella and Herbert were also the parents of Henry “Hank” Aaron who went on to break Babe Ruth’s baseball home run record. My parents married early and left Camden for Mobile, Alabama. Majority of my family came from Camden and I have put together an extensive family tree but there are some missing pieces that you may direct me in securing. Thanks. A.A. Scott 

I happened upon your website this morning and I would appreciate your sending me a form to join. Also, I am hoping someone there has information on the location of a cemetery. I was always told the name of it was Ray-Sills-McNeill Cemetery. I recently found the graves for this cemetery listed in Findagrave as being in Stevenson Cemetery. Only about 12-15 people are buried here – mid 1800’s to early 1920’s. Interestingly, one person there has a Death and Burial Record showing she was buried in Mount Hope. So, hopefully these are some clues whereby someone can point me in the right direction.

One of the main reasons I ask this, is because my GGG Grandfather, Thomas Godfrey Tate (died 1861) and an infant of his who died in 1860 are buried there in unmarked graves. Thus, I would at least like to find the location of the cemetery. Sadly, someone has placed a marker ‘in memory of’ to him beside his wife, Matilda Ann Ray Tate, in the Society Hill Cemetery, so now everyone thinks he is buried there.

If anyone can help me with this cemetery question, I would be greatly appreciative!

I am a descendant of the early peoples of Wilcox County – and proud to be so. Ancestors include the family of Stewart and McBride of the Oak Hill area as well as the Tait/Tate family and Dailey and Burson of the Fatama area. Of course, there are others – Ray and Wilkinson for examples. We still have land in the Fatama (Old Stewartville) community and get back when we can – at least yearly to Enon Baptist Church for their memorial in which I was humbled to preach at last year.

Thanks for your help and what you do. G. Swanner (Editor’s Note: Rev. Swanner was put in touch with the landowner in which the cemetery is located and was able to visit the cemetery in February.)

I am looking for a photo of Captain George Lynch of Wilcox County, Company C, 6th Alabama Regiment Volunteers. Thank you. R. Long

I am the descendant of the Hunter family originating from Snow Hill, Alabama and residing in Allenton, Alabama per census (continued on page 5)

records. I am trying to locate any records for my Grandmother, Mernervia Arnold, born Nervie or Nerva Hunter in Snow Hill, Alabama on April 21, 1916. A. James

I am looking for a 1966 Alabama license plate from Wilcox County. Please let me know if there is a place or if someone has one for sale. Thanks. D. Dobbs, AL

Greetings. Thank you for keeping history alive in Wilcox County. As a person engrossed in history, I appreciate all you do!

I am seeking information on my grandfather, Ernest Wells Green, who was killed in a logging accident at Packard’s Bend on December 13, 1933. Are there any newspaper obituaries or articles from that time? Any information you may point me to would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. J. Emert

I am researching my early family history. My family names associated with Wilcox County are Blain, Gillespie, McDonald, Gordon and Ratcliff.

One branch was Scottish and Irish who originally settled in Virginia and South Carolina in the 1700s but were living in Wilcox County Alabama in the 1800s. I believe a number were buried in the Camden Cemetery.

I am interested in how were they living while in Alabama.

Some specific names: Duncan McDonald, born in SC about 1813, married Adaline Ratcliff, who was born in Wilcox County about 1837. Duncan died 25 April 1854 in Wilcox County and is buried in the Camden Cemetery. They were married 11 October 1836 in Wilcox County.

Their children were Mary Arabella – born 11 September 1837, Lelia – born about 1838, Mourning – born about 1848 and Duncan born about 1851. S. Knight, MA.

Is there a repository online somewhere where I can find old photographs of Camden/Wilcox County – houses, people, downtown, the river, etc.? Thanks. J. Ferguson, GA

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Response to a WHS Facebook page post about the Tour of Homes guest speaker James Farmer:

I had the privilege of meeting James Farmer in 2013 when he was a featured speaker during our alumni weekend in Athens, GA. He is not to be missed. J.K.B. Williams

Responses to a WHS Facebook page post for Tombstone Tuesday’s tombstone for Bertha Donald Miller (1871-1924):

Thank you for this wonderful post! Aunt Bertha cherished her family and lived with her sister, my great-grandmother, once they were both widowed. They lived together in Pine Apple for a number of years until her passing. She helped raise my grandmother (who lost her father at a very young age). Through letters we have learned more of Aunt Bertha and that her husband passed away on Thanksgiving Day. She did not celebrate Thanksgiving from that day forward in honor of him. Also, she and her husband’s families were deeply rooted in the South Carolina Presbyterian foundations established in Wilcox County via Erskine College. A.S. Williams

This was all very interesting and another history lesson! P. Peterson

Response to a WHS Facebook post about River Bluff:

My grandparents owned this home for many years. I cannot wait to see it again! G. Gault

Responses to a WHS Facebook post and photograph of “Letha with a Turkey 1910 Furman”:

The Mary Lee Simpson collection is a treasure. Thanks for sharing! M.C. Bates

What an amazing and beautiful pic!                    S. Matranga ♦


 Wilcox Artworks Art Exhibit

Wilcox Artworks will hold a juried Art Exhibit March 21-April 18. The opening reception on Saturday, March 21 has been cancelled. Winners will be notified digitally. The Gallery is located at 103 Broad Street, Camden. A People’s Choice Award will take place during the Hog Wild for Art Celebration on April 18. The winner and prize will be announced at that time.

Wilcox Artworks is the local arts council for Wilcox County supporting the arts and culture of our rich county.

Please contact wilcoxartworks@gmail.com for more information or to join! Memberships are now available: $25 Single, $35 Family, $50 + for Corporate. ♦

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Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2020 – Martha Grimes Lampkin, President and Editor, Garland Cook Smith, Vice President and Program Chairperson, Jane Shelton Dale, Secretary, Mary Margaret Fife Kyser, Treasurer and LaJunta Selsor Malone, Curator ♦

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A LOOK BACK…

22 July 1920 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

Mrs. Brooks Robbins of Catherine is in a Selma Hospital suffering from the effects of a congestive chill she had after coming to Selma Thursday on a motor trip with Mr. Robbins. Mr. Robbins is stopping at the Albert during his wife’s illness.

Mrs. W. S. Irby of Lower Peach Tree, who was called to Selma by the death of Mr. Geo. Herbert Kyser, left for home Thursday after spending a few days with her daughter, Mrs. R.I. Moore of Summerfield.

Misses Henrietta Irby and Mary Irby, of Lower Peach Tree passed through Selma Thursday en route to Richmond, Kentucky, to visit their sister, Mrs. Carl Park and family.

 School Notes

Forty dollars was the sum netted on the 3rd of July by the Watson Crossing picnic. This amount will be applied to the school needs.

Nearly $15000 has been raised by citizens of Pine Hill headed by Mr. W.J. Miller as chairman of the finance committee for erecting a new school building. The drive will not let up until sufficient funds are in hand to secure a commodious brick building.

Prof. N.J. Walker of Cameron, Texas, former Alabamian, and at present connected with Baylor University has accepted the principalship of the Wilcox County High School. Prof. Walker is highly recommended and has an enviable record as an educator. He will arrive about the middle of August.

Nine whites and seventeen colored applicants took the examination this week.

A contract will be let shortly for the erection of a new school building in McWilliams. It will be a four class room, with manual training department. The cost will be around $5,000. It will be completed in the early fall.

Miss Mildred Rutland of Evergreen has accepted a position in the Camden Grammar School.

Eight years ago, the public funds of Wilcox County were practically the same as the past year around $35,000. To maintain the same standard of schools as in the past would require a budget of at least $100,000 or $42,000 more than the total funds of the county the past year. Yet there are still many people in our county who oppose school levies, matriculation fees and supplemental plans.

The average cost in the United States per pupil for maintaining High schools is $84.94 per year, for maintaining elementary schools it is $31.65.

About 15 positions remain unfilled in the schools of Wilcox County.

The past year 110 children were transported to schools in Wilcox County. The maximum distance children were transported was about 7 miles. The average cost per month per pupil was about $3.00 or $27.00 per annum. This is rather below the average in the cost of transportation. Of the six vehicles used in transportation, one was a Ford truck, 3 cars one school has and one home equipped wagon. The most surprising feature of the transportation system is the fact that as high if not higher percentage of attendance of these children, than the regular average attendance will be shown.

22 January 1920 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

 Local

Mr. and Mrs. W.P. Burford were Selma visitors Tuesday.

Mr. J.A. Mills of Pine Apple, was a business visitor to Camden on Tuesday.

Preaching at the A.R.P. Church next Sabbath at 11 a.m. Sabbath school at 10.

Mrs. Nellie Miller was called to Mobile last week by the death of her nephew, Mr. Tucker.

Mrs. J.O. O’Neal entertained for a number of friends on Monday last.

Mr. & Mrs. John Skinner were made happy on last week by the arrival of a baby girl. She has been christened Ethel Pritchett Skinner.

For Sale – Twelve Red Burbon Turkeys. Mrs. T. A. Capell, Route 3, Camden, Ala.

Mrs. M. McArthur and Mrs. J.D. Bryant had the pleasure of hearing Madame Curci give her song recital in Montgomery the past week.

Lost-Between Station and Liddell’s Store, Love chain with engraved B. on locket. Finder return and get reward. Mrs. T. M. Baggett

Dr. C.C. Daniel, President of Birmingham-Southern College will preach at the Methodist Church on next Sunday, January 25th, morning and evening.

Mesdames S.G. Brice of Chester, S.C. and Mrs. Pogue of Gadsden were visitors to their brother, Judge B.M. Miller and family this week.

Bledsoe-Nettles

A quiet wedding ceremony, which took place at 10:20 o’clock Saturday morning in the Hotel Albert parlors united Miss Evelyn Nettles, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Z.G. Nettles, of Camden, and the Rev. J.C. Bledsoe of Pine Hill in marriage. The officiating minister was Dr. John A. Davison, pastor of the First Baptist Church of this city.

8 April 1937 THE BUTLER COUNTY NEWS

Diamond Doings

Invading Pine Apple on last Friday, the locals turned the fewest hits into the most runs, defeating the Wilcox County lads by the score of 3-1.

Nick Stallworth went the full nine innings on the slab for the local team, and did a superb job. When hits meant runs, the local hurler was cold as ice, stranding many men on the bases for the opposition.

Turner turned in a great game for the home team, but his elbowing could not offset errors of his mates and the timely hitting of the local nine.

Score by innings:                              R  H  E

Pine Apple      000 100 000          1   7  3

Georgiana       001 000 002          3   6  2

Batteries: Turner and West; Stallworth and P. Chambliss

6 April 1939 THE ADVERTISER-JOURNAL (Haleyville, Alabama)


Wilcox Farmers Grow Hay Crops

Under the leadership of E.H. Kelley and F.C. Turner, county agent and assistant agent respectively, Wilcox County farmers are making great strides in growing perennial hay crops.

Wilcox farmers recently made a cooperative purchase of nearly 200,000 Kudzu crowns to set out for the production of legume hay, control of soil erosion and as a temporary grazing crop.

Mr. Leslie Rutherford, who has one of the largest Kudzu fields in southwest Alabama, states that he gets around two tons of good kudzu hay to the acre every year. His hay is not only palatable but is even more nutritious that alfalfa. “This added to the fact that it completely controls soil erosion makes it one of the most valuable plants that we can grow,” says County Agent Kelley. The Wilcox farm agent recommends that it be grown on any of the soils in Wilcox County except the Sumter and Houston soils of the Black Belt.

Many farmers of the section believe that kudzu can and will prove valuable as a supplement of their pastures during the dry spells which come nearly every summer, which is one of the most critical times for cattle raisers throughout middle Alabama. ♦


In Memoriam

Ouida Ann Starr Woodson (1944-2019)

Back in November we lost a very special lady – a mother, homemaker, writer, journalist and respected historian. She published several volumes of local history – Within the Bend, Books 1-6 and Men of Wilcox – They Wore the Gray.

She was a founding member and officer of the WHS and was instrumental in the restoration of the Wilcox Female Institute.

She was owner and publisher of The Wilcox American Newspaper in Camden from 1976-1984.

She was a member of the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. She was an officer of the Camden ARP Women of the Church and was active in many other church and civic affairs.

Mrs. Woodson was born in Gadsden but grew up in the Possum Bend community in Wilcox County. She spent her early years at White Columns, the family home. She graduated from Wilcox County High School and continued her education at Virginia Intermont College and graduated with a degree in journalism. She returned to White Columns in later life and reared her children there.

She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Samuel D. Woodson, Jr., three daughters, Margaret Murphy of Camden, Mary Lois Woodson of Possum Bend, and Ann Prime (Mike) of Jessup, GA, and son, Sam Woodson III of Mobile and four grandchildren, seven nieces and nephews, six great grandchildren and eight great nieces and nephews. ♦


James Farmer to Speak at Pilgrimage

 The WHS Friday night, September 25th Welcome Reception will feature James Farmer, a Southern author, interior designer and speaker. Mr. Farmer is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling books: A Time to Plant; Sip & Savor; Porch Living; Wreaths for All Seasons; A Time to Cook; Dinner on the Grounds; A Time to Celebrate and A Place to Call Home. His newest book; Arriving Home – A Gracious Southern Welcome will be released in August!

In addition, his work has been published in various magazines including Southern Living, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Southern Home, Flower and more. A skilled and entertaining speaker, Farmer is considered a fresh voice for his generation.

Mr. Farmer will also hold a book-signing at The Pecan on Broad, Saturday, September 26th during Pilgrimage. ♦


Blue Alabama by Andrew Moore

“Moore’s photographs of the Black Belt honor its complicated histories but depart from them, avoiding stereotypes and finding the hope, resilience and creativity that animate this place.”

This new book of photographs contains several images of Wilcox County including Pearlie Smith and her home, Broken Arrow in Sunny South. The book cover features a photo of downtown Camden. Blue Alabama – a great book to add to your library! ♦


Welcome New Members!

From Camden – Sara C. Blackwell and Amber and James Wright. From Arley, Alabama – Cheryl and Burk McWilliams. From Mobile – Ms. Lynn Stewart.

From Pine Apple – Life Member Kathy Stone Perryman


Please be sure to renew your membership and encourage others to join!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Fall 2019

Happy Birthday Wilcox County!

Celebrate our 200th birthday!

Wilcox County was created by an act of the Alabama legislature on December 13, 1819. It was formed from portions of Monroe and Dallas counties, which was created from Creek Indian lands acquired by the United States in the 1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson. Most of the earliest settlers to Wilcox County came from Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee.

To celebrate Wilcox County’s 200th birthday, Camden native, Governor Kay Ivey, will visit Camden at the Wilcox Female Institute on Friday, December 13. This special celebration will begin at 10AM. Come join us as we celebrate being one day older than the State of Alabama! ~

Tour of Homes 2020

 The 2020 Wilcox County Tour of Homes will take place Saturday, March 28th.  A very special welcome reception is being planned for Friday evening at Riverbend sponsored by WHS members Chris Bailey and Ryan Dunagan, owners of The Pecan on Broad in Camden.

The list of historic sites to see will include: River Bluff Plantation-the Beck-Bryant-Talbot Home, the Strother-Gibbs Home, Yaupon-the Matthews-Tait-Rutherford Home, House on the Hill-the Liddell-Phillippi Home as well as the Camden Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the First Presbyterian Church.

New this year is a living history presentation on the grounds of Liberty Hall. The home will also have a portion of the first floor open for visitors.

THANK YOU to the homeowners for agreeing to share your homes!

We look forward to another memorable weekend in Wilcox County and one to highlight our rich history.

Watch for more details and additional tour sites for the 2020 Tour! Be sure to save the dates and spread the news!

Tour coordinator this year is WHS member, Lance Britt, owner of The Brittany House of Antiques in Oak Hill. ~

WHS September Meeting

Jay Lamar, the Executive Director of the Bicentennial Commission of Alabama and Susan DuBose, the Education Director of the Bicentennial Commission spoke to the WHS at its September meeting held in Camden at our headquarters, the Wilcox Female Institute. About 30 members and guests attended.

Ms. Lamar and Ms. DuBose gave an overview of what had taken place in the state for the Bicentennial and reminded us of several events to finish out the year. They also shared with us several books and other items created for the bicentennial.

Camden was fortunate to be one of the first sites for the bicentennial traveling exhibit at Gees Bend Ferry Terminal facility.

As said at the September meeting, “…learning our history is not just dates and stories but an investment in our future.”

“On December 14th, there is only one place to be: Alabama’s Capital City for the grand finale of Alabama’s three-year bicentennial commemoration. This is sure to be the state’s biggest birthday party-at least in our first 200 years!” ~

Upcoming WHS Meetings

The next WHS meeting will be 2PM, Thursday, November 14 at the Wilcox Female Institute. Our speaker will be Dr. James P. Pate, independent scholar and historian, and Emeritus Professor of History at the University of West Alabama.

Dr. Pate has recently completed a stunning book, The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama.  This is a special edition and will be enjoyed by generations, remembered as part of our state’s bicentennial.

In addition, another book written by Dr. Pate, with local interest is Reminiscences of George Strother Gaines: Pioneer and Statesman of Early Alabama and Mississippi, 1805-1843.

Both books will be available to purchase at the meeting.

Please feel free to bring guests to this special talk. And note that this is a change in location and speaker from the earlier announced November meeting for the WHS.

Our next meeting will be in January (date and location to be announced) and we will hear from Sarah Duggan. Many of you may remember hearing from Ms. Duggan at the Alabama Historical Association Fall 2018 meeting or at the 2019 WHS Tour of Homes welcome reception.

She is the Coordinator and Research Curator of the Classical Institute of the South, a project at The Historic New Orleans Collection that documents historic decorative arts made or used in the Gulf South.

With help from graduate student fellows, Ms. Duggan conducts annual summer field work across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to explore the region’s material culture. She loves Wilcox County and will present to us her findings from our area. ~

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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 (continued from page 2) on the WHS Facebook page. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

I am searching for the Garrett Cemetery associated with Bone Hill Church on the road between Awin and Old Texas. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. M.P. Stonestreet (Editor’s Note: The location of this old cemetery was shared. The cemetery is on Hwy. 47 in Monroe County)

Is there someone in or near Coy who can take pictures of two grave sites at Tates Chapel AME Church Cemetery, an African-American cemetery? Both grave sites are online at Findagrave.com – Joshua McPherson and Henrietta McPherson. I made photo requests to Findagrave but there was no response. I would truly appreciate someone taking photos where the inscriptions are readable. Speaking of Joshua and Henrietta, does the Society have any information about them that is not found online? Also, I would love to know the slaveholder’s name. J.R. Brown, Stone Mountain, GA (Editor’s Note: Photographs were taken by Elizabeth G. Reaves and were forwarded to Ms. Brown. It was noted that this cemetery is in disrepair.)

I am compiling a 26 plus volume series on Alabama called, Cavers Encyclopedia History of Alabama. Each volume includes one letter and entries are alphabetical. The collection includes historical and genealogical entries on the people, places, and events in the history of our state. I realize that Wilcox County has a lot of old families, churches, schools, etc. that need to be included in my collection. I am using original source materials for this collection. I am traveling the state researching in courthouses, cemeteries, church records, old schools, etc. If there are particular people, places, and events in Wilcox County history that you feel should be included let me know, and the best contacts for information. Thank you all in advance. L. Caver, Prattville, AL

I am looking for my family home place that once belonged to John and Lydia Erma Jackson, then later owned by Sarah Anne Pritchett. I think it is somewhere in the vicinity of Kimbrough or Pine Hill. Our family visited where my grandmother was raised over 20 years ago and can’t remember the directions to get there. T. King

Is there a Vernon Cemetery in the Ackerville area? I am looking for a descendant of Ephraim Vernon who died about 1848. Any help would be appreciated. J. Vernon

 I’m hoping you can help me with a planned visit to Wilcox County. My grandfather, William Enoch Gullett, was born in “Possum Bend”, and as I’ll be taking a road trip from Atlanta back home to Southern California, I’d like to visit the “Family Homeland.” My trouble is, as my grandfather, and all of his children, are long passed. I don’t really know “what” to visit. Perhaps there’s an area important to my family?  I see there’s a “Gullett Bluff Park”.  Can you tell me who that’s named after? Maybe there’s something of cultural significance in the Wilcox County/Possum Bend area?  Perhaps a courthouse, something, that would have been there in the 1850s?  It would be interesting to see something and know, “my grandfather grew up seeing that.Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated! D. Gullett (Editor’s Note: Some points of interest were forwarded to Mr. Gullett.)

 Response to a WHS Facebook page post about the recent Absolutely Alabama special feature on Camden:

Camden is my next destination when I fly out from California to research my family history. I have deep roots in Camden. P. Hawthorne

Likewise. Wilkinson, Gunter and Threadgill to name a few. Enjoy. I also hope to make that trip. N. Bruton

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Hawthorne and Ms. Bruton are WHS members who live in California.)

Alabama Historical Institute 2020

Announced recently was the news that the Alabama Historical Institute will begin their summer 2020 intensive for teachers with the first stop being in Camden, June 9-11. The purpose of the AHI (a continuation of the Bicentennial) is to help engage students all around the state with primary resources to foster their appreciation of history. The group will meet in the newly constructed space at Black Belt Treasures.

Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center is a nonprofit organization serving a nineteen-county area known as Alabama’s Black Belt region. BBTCAC is located at 209 Claiborne Street in Camden. Call (334) 682-9878 for more information. ~

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Don’t forget to follow us on social media! We have over 1,400 followers on Facebook and want you to be one of them! And since opening our account earlier this year – we have over 500 followers on Instagram. ~

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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…

2 November 1887 FROM WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

Married.

By Rev. W.D. Spurlin, at the residence of the bride’s mother, Mrs. L.F. McIntosh, on the evening of the 26th instant, Mr. J.E. Timberlake to Miss Katie McIntosh.

Mr. Timberlake has carried off one of Camden’s brightest and sweetest girls along with the best wishes of many friends.

___________

Dr. S.R. Bonner, a graduate of the University of this State, and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Baltimore, has located in Camden for the purpose of practicing his profession. Dr. Bonner, since he graduated has been assistant resident physician in the City Hospital in Baltimore where he gained large experience. We are glad to welcome to our social and professional circles a young man of such sterling qualities as he possesses.

____________

Snow Hill.

Snow Hill, Oct. 27. – Miss Effie Purifoy has gone to Altoona, Fla., to take charge of an art class. The art class at this place being too small to justify her continuing here.

Snow Hill delegation to greet the President and his “Ruler” on their recent visit to this state consisted of sixteen gentlemen, nine ladies and several children and a strong contingent of blacks.

Your correspondent visited the State Fair recently held in Montgomery. He was proud to see such a creditable display of agricultural products. Especially was it good in the live stock department. The display from Wilcox was conspicuous by its absence. This is not as it should be. Wilcox can show fine live stock and good agricultural products as any county in the State. Our Farmers Club should see to it that Wilcox is property represented in similar future displays.

Mr. Al. Carter, formerly of this county, now of Texas, is visiting his sister Mrs. W.M. Hobdy of this place.

____________

Allenton.

Allenton, Oct 28.-Quite a number of our citizens, white and black, visited Montgomery during the fair, and had the pleasure of seeing the President and “his bonny bride.”

Mr. Julius Dale took in the Piedmont exposition at Atlanta.

Our Nimrods have opened the fall and winter campaign on the birds.

Jerry Evans, living on Dr. L.W. Jenkins’ place, used his hand to brush the motes from under a gin in motion, which resulted in the loss of a finger, and having his hand terribly lacerated by the gin. Moral – Use a board next time, Jerry.

Mr. Frank Wooten, formerly of Snow Hill, but now proprietor of the Wooten Mills near Bremond, Texas, has been visiting J.B. McWilliams.

Rev. Paschal Hill, colored, on J.F. Jones’ place, came near having his leg fractured and did have his ankle severely sprained by a piece of falling timber, which will probably cause partial lameness for life.

Mr. Albert Liddell, of Buena Vista, Ala., has been visiting Mrs. Crook, and Messrs. Sam and Alex Crook.

4 December 1919 FROM WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

Alabama Football Teams

The cornfed youth of Alabama gave Georgia and Mississippi a test of their mettle yesterday, and put their home state high on the honor roll of football.

Georgia Tech was conceded to be the strongest team in the South. But Auburn ran thru it.  Officially Auburn may not be regarded as the champion of the South, but actually conceded we believe.

The University of Alabama, also a powerful aggregation of winners, closed the season by winning against Mississippi A&M. Thus, Alabama produces two great and famous football teams in one season, and all Alabama sport lovers are naturally proud.

It is but another triumph of diversified farming in Alabama. We knew it would happen sooner or later that Alabama youth, fed on Alabama pork and beef, Alabama corn and potatoes would be better than on a diet of Kansas and Illinois corn, paid for by Alabama cotton, selling at ten cents. – Montgomery Advertiser

____________

Local News

Miss Lena Miller is visiting in Mobile this week.

Drs. P.E. Godbold of Pine Hill and Z. Moore of Lamison were visitors to Camden Tuesday.

Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Berry and family spent Thanksgiving with Gastonburg relatives.

Mrs. Clem Jones and Mrs. T.H. Moore were Selma visitors Wednesday.

Dr. W.C. Duke is attending a Masonic Conference in Montgomery this week.

Mr. B.H. Matthews, Rev. H.T. Strout are attending the Annual Conference in at Demopolis this week.

Mr. Will Albritton and Clyde McKinney, and Rob Tait motored to Montevallo, Thanksgiving to witness the Basket Ball game.

Mr. and Mrs. H.D. Lazenby, and Miss Helen Lazenby of Forest Home, were the guests of Mrs. O.C. Weaver and Mrs. J.C. Jones this past week.

Miss Anna Mary Robins, of Catherine, was a visitor to her aunt, Mrs. W.J. Bonner Tuesday.

Mr. J.W. Dean of Caledonia, was a Camden visitor Saturday last.

Miss Margaret Miller, who is teaching in Selma spent the holidays with her parents, Judge and Mrs. B.M. Miller.

18 December 1919 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

NO LOSS OF LIVES IN WILCOX FLOODS.

The loss of property in Wilcox from the floods of the past week will be comparatively small. Prompt action on the part of cattle owners resulted in getting most of cattle and hogs out of the overflow district. No loss of life has been reported of which we should all feel grateful.

RIVER REACHES HIGHEST MARK SINCE 1886

The Alabama River which has been on a rampage during the past week, reached the highest stage since 1886. The gauge reading in Selma gave it as 56.5.

Train service was brought to a practical standstill.

While the waters are higher than in 1916, the loss of Wilcox county will nothing like compare as in the previous flood, when the growing crops were destroyed.

Nearly all cattle were rescued from the low lands the past week.

7 December 1939 WILCOX PROGRESSIVE ERA

CANTON BEND NEWS   

Mr. and Mrs. Ed O’Rear, Peggie, Frankie and Ed Jr., spent the holidays here.

Monroe Thompson spent the weekend here.

Miss Hope Tait spent the holidays here.

Mrs. G.H. Strother, Misses Eugenia Strother and Bettie Compton spent Friday and Saturday in Montgomery.

Mr. and Mrs. Pressly Bryant motored to Montgomery Friday.

George Hicks Strother spent Thanksgiving in Auburn with Monroe Thompson and attended the Auburn-Florida game.

BRIDE ELECT HONORED-

Mrs. Bill Dannelly, Mrs. Sallie Davis entertained at a linen shower for Miss William Clarence Jones, Friday afternoon from 3 to 5 o’clock at the home of Mrs. Bill Dannelly in Grampion Hills. Many beautiful and useful gifts were presented to this charming and beautiful girl, who is the recipient of many pre-nuptial attentions. She will be married to Mr. John Wesley Hoover, at 5 o’clock, December 14th at the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.  ~

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Welcome New Members! From Alabama – Marion – Terry and Karen Nyman; Opelika – Debra Whatley ~

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Upcoming Events in 2019

    • November 30 – Hunter Appreciation Day in Pine Apple
    • December 3 – Christmas in Camden
    • December 7 – Christmas Open House at the Palmer-Britt home in Furman, 2PM-4PM
    • December 8 – Christmas Service at Bear Creek Baptist Church, 2PM
    • December 8 – Christmas Tree Lighting in Pine Apple, 6PM
    • December 14 – Christmas Parade in Pine Hill, 2PM
    • December 22 – Christmas in Furman, Lighted tour at dark, Candlelight service at Bethsaida Baptist Church, 6PM

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!

 

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.

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Summer 2018

Furman, Pine Apple & Oak Hill Spring Pilgrimage Was a Big Success!

The Spring Pilgrimage held March 24, 2018 was a big success which makes two strong years in a row to showcase our county’s rich history and tradition. The azaleas were blooming and the weather was perfect!

Over 200 tickets were sold this year. We had visitors from all across Alabama as well as Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and California.

Here are a few of the comments we heard from visitors:

“We enjoyed the tour immensely.”  Beverly

“That was an outstanding tour! Many thanks go out to everyone…those that planned and supported the event and especially those home owners who allowed us to see their beautiful homes! I hope y’all will do this again.” Mike

“”We had a fabulous day! This year’s tour has definitely been my favorite.” Diane

“We were overjoyed to spend the day celebrating and learning about Wilcox County history with y’all! Beautiful homes cared for by such sweet people. It was a pleasure.” Marlee

“This seemed to be very well planned with amazing history and locations to visit during our trip. We look forward to any other events there.” Jonathan

Many have asked when we were planning our next tour. We are pleased to announce our next tour will be March 23, 2019.

The 2019 tour will feature homes and other historic locations in the Camden area. We would love to have you involved and we welcome your suggestions to make the 2019 tour another big success for Wilcox County!  ֎

Alabama Historical Association Will Hold Their Fall Pilgrimage in Camden

Not since 1980 has the AHA held a meeting in Wilcox County. We are very pleased to welcome them back and share our remarkable history.

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

The meeting will begin Saturday morning, October 27 with a program by Camden native, Daniel Fate Brooks. After lunch, tours of homes in Camden and other sites will begin. Some of the sites to see in Camden include the McIntosh-Hicks Home, the Liddell-Buford Home, The Matthews-Curry Home, the Sterrett-McWilliams Home, Old St. Mary’s-Hamilton Home, the Shoe Shop Museum and the Dale Lodge.

For more information contact Jane Shelton Dale, AHA board member or see: www.alabamahistory.net. ֎

Thank You from the ADAH!

By Meredith McDonough, Digital Assets Coordinator Alabama Department of Archives and History

 Thank you all so very much for the work that you’ve been doing on the Alabama World War I service records transcription! We are amazed at the success of the project, and all the credit goes to you, our dedicated volunteers. It has been less than three months since we launched this effort and only 10% of the cards remain to be done! Thanks again for donating your time and attention to this endeavor. We’re already planning for the next project! ֎

WHS Members Visited the Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit

The WHS met on April 6th for a short meeting at the Auburn Agricultural Experiment Station in Camden and then enjoyed the Alabama Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit being hosted by the Wilcox Area Chamber at the Gees Bend Ferry Terminal. The exhibit truly brought our state’s 200-year history to life!  ֎

Dr. David Matthews – the featured speaker at WHS April Meeting

On April 19 the WHS met at the Wilcox Female Institute to hear our special guest, Dr. David Matthews, former President of the University of Alabama and now President of the Kettering Foundation.

Dr. Matthews spoke to the large crowd in attendance about public education in general and their relationship with the community in which they are located. Being one of the nation’s experts on communities, Dr. Matthews gave a very inspiring talk. ֎

The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church Historical Society to Meet in Camden

The next AWF Historical Society meeting is September 20, 2018 at Camden United Methodist Church. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Wilcox County is rich with Methodist history. Ebenezer Hearn, a circuit rider from the Tennessee Conference, is called the Father of Methodism in Alabama. He preached his first sermon in the Alabama Territory on April 18, 1818 in present day Blount County. He faithfully rode across Alabama sharing the Gospel until his death in 1862.

Reverend Hearn settled in Wilcox County and was one of the original owners of GainesRidge – now a local favorite restaurant. Hearn is buried in the Camden Cemetery.

Reverend Ed Shirley will portray Hearn in a dramatic monologue. This will be your opportunity to learn about Hearn’s call to ministry, his adventures in the Creek Indian War and his work in spreading Methodism throughout the newly formed State of Alabama.

For more information and to register for the meeting please call (334) 682-4478. The cost is $20 which includes lunch at GainesRidge. ֎

WHS Welcomes Tom McGehee in October

Mark your calendars for October 18 at 2PM to hear Tom McGehee, Museum Director at Bellingrath Gardens and Home, speak on The Age of Steamboats in Alabama. For more than 30 years he has researched Alabama history and his column, Ask McGehee, has been a regular feature of Mobile Bay Magazine for the last 15 years. The October meeting will be held at Riverbend – the home of Ryan Dunagan and Chris Bailey. This home known to locals as the Bell-Moore home is located on Bridgeport Road. ֎

Hunter Appreciation Day Arts and Crafts Festival

The Town of Pine Apple will sponsor the 22nd Hunter Appreciation Day Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, November 24, 2018. The event will be a family fun-filled day featuring various craft vendors, a big buck contest, antique car show and parade, children’s activities and live entertainment.

Enter the Les Moorer Memorial Big Buck Contest for a chance to win the top prize of $500. Prizes of $250 will be awarded for the Women’s Division and $150 for the Juvenile Division for ages 17 and younger.

Proceeds from the event will be used to preserve and beautify the Town of Pine Apple.

For more information call (251) 746-2293 or (251) 746-2519 or email joycewall@yahoo.com or grsouthland@gmail.com. ֎

Butler County Historical Society presents program on William Weatherford

On Sunday, July 29th the BCHS program will be given by Judge Trip McGuire on the noted part-Creek leader, William Weatherford alias Red Eagle. Several members are sharing Indian artifact collections at the program.

The meeting will begin at 2PM at the Greenville City Hall. For more information, contact Annie Crenshaw, (334) 382-6959 or anniecrenshaw@centurytel.net. ֎

Calendar of Events

World War I Memorial Dedication
Date:      July 26, 2018
Place:    Greenville Chamber of commerce
Time:       11AM

The Fort Dale Chapter of the DAR will dedicate the Butler County World War I Memorial. Historian and author Nimrod Frazer will be speaking at the dedication.

154th Battle of Mobile Bay Commemorative Day
Date:      August 4, 2018
Place:    Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island
Time:     9AM – 5PM

Experience a living history day for the whole family.  Enjoy blacksmith demonstrations, military drills, firing of the cannons and much more.

Fort Mims Reenactment & Living History
Dates:    August 25 – August 26, 2018
Place:    Fort Mims State Historic Site
Time:     9AM-3PM

Witness living history of the re-enactment of the Battle of Burnt Corn followed by the Battle of Fort Mims. Also enjoy period music, arts, crafts, tomahawk throwing, dancing and 1800s cooking demonstrations.

Alabama Genealogical Society Fall Seminar
Date:      October 13, 2018
Place:    Alabama Department of Archives and History
Time:      8:30AM-3:30PM

Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, will speak on the topic -Genealogy‘s Deeper Well – When the Easy Stuff Runs Dry. He will cover Alabama records and migration, Dower, Dowry and Detinue – Women and their Men’s Property, Selling Spirituous Liquor without a License and Other Wonderful Court Records and finding Uncle John by Talking to Neighbors.

A Look Back…

21 November 1840 from the Alabama Herald
Pleasant Ridge Academy
Near Canton, Wilcox County
Terms/Tuition
Spelling, reading and writing – per session $12
Arithmetic, Geography, English Grammar or History – per session $16
Greek, Latin, French, Mathematics or higher branches of English Literature – per session $25
Boarding and Washing – $10 per month
McDonnel
Cragin

15 January 1908 from the Pine Apple News
Teacher’s Examination
The following applicants for teaching certificates took the examination held by Superintendent Cook, in Camden on Tuesday of last week:
1st grade – John Henry, Oak Hill
2nd grade – Misses Ella Norred, Pine Apple; Corrie Newell, Camden; Bettie Price, Ackerville; Ruth Cook, Capell; Beulah Wilkinson, Shawnee; Annie Rollins, Ackerville; Maggie Nell Patterson, Camden; Mr. Jesse L. Chandler, Neenah.
3rd grade – Misses Julia Melton, and Corinne Melton, Pine Apple; Annie Matt Tate, Neenah; Maude Young, Shawnee; Ella Tate, Shawnee and Helen Dexter, Camden.

18 October 1980 from the AHA Pilgrimage to Camden program
Wilcox County Arrangements Committee Daniel Fate Brooks, Chairman, Judge F.R. Albritton, Mrs. Lena Miller Albritton, George F. Alford, Jr., Mrs. J.W. Axon, Rev. Fred Carr, William M. Cook, Hugh C. Dale, Mrs. W.N. Darwin, Ernest Dyess, Mrs. Al Gibbs, Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Griffin, Mrs. Harold Grimes, Mrs. Taylor J. Harper, Arnold Holt, Mrs. B. N. Ivey, Dr. and  Mrs. Renwick C. Kennedy, Mrs. Ralph Martin, E. Leroy McIntosh, Mrs. Dot D. Moore, Montgomery; Miss Leacy Newell, Mrs. Miriam Hasson Shannon, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Slaughter, Mrs. Ouida S. Woodson, Sam Davis Chapter, Children of the Confederacy.

 

 

Early Wilcox County History

Alabama a social and economic history of the state (2)

From ALABAMA A SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE STATE by Marie Bankhead Owen, 1938: Wilcox County was created by the Alabama Legislature December 13, 1819, and was named for Lieutenant J.M. Wilcox. It is situated in the south central part of the state. Its elevation ranges from 275 feet to 475 feet above sea level, and its topography is from undulating to hilly. It lies wholly within the Gulf Coastal Plain; and its soil may be divided into two groups: the uplands, or hill lands, and the lowlands, or made lands. There is a small area of black prairie or limestone soil in the county. The soils are well suited to agriculture. Cattle and hog raising are also found to be profitable.   

The county is well drained by the Alabama and its tributaries and McCants’, Pussley’s, Rhodes’, Pine Barren, Prairie, Wolf, Little Bear, Straight, Studivant, Breast Works, Hills, Chulatchee, Foster’s, Turkey, Red, Moccasin, Goose, James, Beaver, Tiger and Bear Creeks. The forest trees of the county are long- and shortleaf pine, oak, hickory, ash, elm, poplar, cedar, cypress, cottonwood, sycamore, mulberry, beech and magnolia.

It is presumed by students of the subject that the Indian inhabitants of Wilcox County were Maubila Indians, later known as Mobilians, who were a Choctaw-speaking people. Nanipacna, meaning “hill top”, visited by the DeLuna expedition in 1560, was situated on the east side of the Alabama River in the upper part of Wilcox County. It seems there were no Indian settlements in Wilcox County during the French and Indian times, although there were two, doubtless both Creek settlements, in later American times. Because peach trees were found growing there, these two localities were called Upper and Lower Peach Tree. Lower Peach Tree still retains its name, but Upper Peach Tree has been given the modern name of Clifton. Wilcox County was in the Creek domain and became an American possession by the Treaty of Fort Jackson August 9, 1814. Burial mounds and town sites have been located along the river.  

A number of white pioneers made settlements in the county in 1816. Peter Thornhill made the first road through the woods. The road was constructed to enable him to find his way to and from his hunting expeditions. Following the Creek Indian War of two years previous, the people of the Mississippi Territory were still subject to military duty; and the pioneers coming into Alabama from Mississippi were not exempt from that duty but were required to rendezvous at Fort Claiborne for drill and inspection by the proper officers every three months. As the county was infested with roving bands of Indians who were bitter over their defeat and ready for any act of violence, the trips of the militia down to Fort Claiborne were always attended with danger.   

These militiamen would travel in squads of three or four, always on foot, and were armed with rifles and hunting knives. Since most of them lived on the west side of the river, they usually crossed the Alabama River at Yellow Bluff. To baffle the Indians and to avoid being ambushed, they seldom travelled the same road twice. On several occasions, they were followed by Indians; but they usually succeeded in throwing them off the track. During the absence of the men at the militia muster, their families would concentrate at one place for better protection. These precautions were kept up until the Indian troubles were ended by General Jackson’s Seminole campaign.

Camden, the county seat, is situated near the Alabama River in the central part of the county. The town was settled in the early 1830’s by Thomas Dunn and a Mr. Hall. The settlement was first called Barboursville, and the county seat was removed from Clanton to that point in 1832. In 1841, the name was changed to Camden, for Camden, South Carolina, whence many of the settlers had come. In 1853, a handsome brick building for the use of the Wilcox Female Institute was built.