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 – Winter 2022

Happy New Year Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Lance Britt, WHS President      

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

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

TOUR OF HOMES UPDATE 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – Laura and Kent Tabor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We found Furman by a twist of fate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Furman National Historic District

A HISTORY OF FURMAN

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

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

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

D O N A T I O N S

Many thanks for your gifts and continuing support!

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

In Honor of Arthur Joe Grant from Bud and Penny Selsor

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

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

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

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

WHS November Meeting

Souvenirs of Travel: Southerners on the Grand Tour

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

WHS CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE AT WAKEFIELD

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

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

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS IN CAMDEN

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


PIECES OF HISTORY EXHIBITION

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

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

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

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

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

First Baptist Church, Pine Apple

History of the First Baptist Church, Pine Apple, Alabama

By Patricia Westbrook and James Suggs

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

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

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

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

THE STORY OF YELLOW BLUFF, ALABAMA –

COMMUNITY AND POST OFFICE

By Ila S. Shamburger, postmaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Lee Hawthorne of Camden was the next postmaster.

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

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

In 1909 there were 20 families in the hills.

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

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

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

Give the Gift of Membership

Gift memberships are now available! Help us grow our membership and take pride in the history of Wilcox County. If you are interested in gifting a membership to a friend or family member for a birthday or other special occasion let us know. We will mail them a beautiful gift certificate along with our latest newsletter. For more information, please contact us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.   

Rosemary Plantation

ROSEMARY PLANTATION AND ITS PEOPLE

WILCOX COUNTY, ALABAMA

By Carter Fowlkes

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

The Peter Mathews Family

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

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

Virginia Vaughan Mathews

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

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

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

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

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

Mattie Mathews Chambliss

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

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

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

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

Inquiries and Comments 

We often receive genealogical and local history inquiries on the WHS Facebook page, Instagram page and website. If you have any information to help with these inquiries, please let us know and we will be happy to pass it along or put you in contact with the interested party. Our email address is wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or you can text or call Martha Lampkin at 334.296.1076. We also love receiving comments on our posts on social media. The more comments, likes and shares also help our posts be viewed by more people. Here are a few inquiries and comments received since our last newsletter:

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

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

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

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

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

Email Comment from WHS Member:

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

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

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

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

So beautiful! S. Matrango

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHS DATES TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR

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

A LOOK BACK…  

30 December 1896

Wilcox Progressive Era

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

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

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

17 January 1901

Wilcox Progressive Era

Oak Hill Items

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 December 1902

Wilcox Progressive Era

New Bank

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

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

11 August 1933

Greenville Advocate

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

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

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

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

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

12 March 1942

Wilcox Progressive Era

Furman P.T.A.

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

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

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

Everybody is invited to come early Friday night.

18 February 1962

Wilcox Progressive Era

What’s Done in School

Wilcox Female Institute

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

—-

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

—-

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

—-

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

—-

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

—-

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

—-

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

 22 August 1963

Wilcox Progressive Era

Old Female Institute to Be Preserved

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

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

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

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

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

25 December 1985

The Selma Times-Journal

Miss Rubye is honored by Wilcox Historical Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are interested in submitting an article for the newsletter, please let us know! Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or send via snail mail to P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726. We will be happy to review it for a future issue!

Don’t forget! Annual dues are $30 for a couple, $25 for single. Lifetime dues are $300 for a couple and $250 for single. Dues are renewed in January.  A membership form is available on our website: WilcoxHistoricalSociety.org. Or if you prefer, please mail dues to: P O Box 464, Camden, AL 36726 and be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number. Payment may also be made with PayPal. Questions? Email us at wilcoxhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Thanks!

Wilcox Historical Society Newsletter – Fall 2020

Tour of Homes Rescheduled (Again)    

As you all know by now, we have had to reschedule our Tour of Homes yet again. Our new dates are March 26 – 27, 2021, the last weekend in March. To begin, I want to thank all of our homeowners for their flexibility and understanding as we moved not once, but TWICE!  If it weren’t for their kindness, this entire process would have been a nightmare. From the middle of March, we have worked together to make the Tour of Homes a success in these very unusual times.

Another thank you goes out to Chris Bailey and Ryan Dunagan for their help throughout this process as well. Not only are they hosting the Reception, but they have been our sole point of contact with James Farmer and his representatives. Their hard work has ensured he will be with us in March!

The entire weekend will operate as originally scheduled with two exciting additions. As mentioned, James Farmer will still be the Guest Speaker at RiverBend Plantation on Friday night, March 26. However, the expanded tour now includes seven homes and three churches on Saturday, March 27. The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill will provide all ticket holders breakfast that morning as planned. Finally, the Pilgrimage Ball, sponsored by the Furman Historical Society, will be held at Wakefield in Furman on Saturday night, March 27.

As a thank you for your patience and support, two historic sites have been added to our Tour of Homes! The first addition is Pleasant Ridge, circa 1844. This tall-columned “big house” is not only the last extant brick antebellum house in Wilcox County, but also one of less than a dozen brick homes of the period to survive in the Black Belt. Thank you to its new owners, Mr. & Mrs. Scotty Myers for volunteering their beautiful home.

We are also adding the historic Antioch Baptist Church. Opened in 1885, it is one of the oldest African-American churches in Wilcox County and was a crossroads of the civil rights movement. In fact, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the church twice in 1965. Thank you, Ms. Betty Anderson, for making this possible!

Please know the decision to move the Tour of Homes again was not made lightly. Many of our guests planned travel months in advance and have adjusted those plans to join us for the Tour. Ultimately, the public health and safety of our guests, homeowners, and our community must be our number one priority.

Finally, you can help us immensely by continuing to spread the word about our date change and that tickets are still available. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.com and wilcoxhistoricalsociety.org. We will start selling tickets locally again in January. By working together and spreading the word we will make this our most successful Pilgrimage ever!

For more information, please contact me at 256.975.7616.

Lance Britt, Tour Director 

WHS October Meeting at Gaines Ridge

It is with great delight that we are announcing our next meeting, October 8, 2020! Betty Gaines Kennedy and Haden Gaines Marsh will regale us with stories of their iconic home and restaurant Gaines Ridge. Box lunches will be provided for $15 each, and we will be socially distanced on the back porch and patio at Gaines Ridge.

Please make a reservation by replying to Garland Smith via email garlands@charter.net or by phone 205.967.6841. Lunch will begin at 11:30 followed by their talk, “Gaines Ridge – 170 Years in the Making.” You may pay Garland for lunch at the door or send your check to: 4060 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213.   

Gaines Ridge is located at 933 Hwy 10 in Camden. ♦

 WHS November Meeting in McWilliams

We are excited to announce our meeting on Sunday, November 8 at 2 pm. Our program on the Winters Excelsior Mill will be given by Philip Winters. He will be sharing the history of his family’s business – established in 1915 to the present-day operation. Philip is the grandson of James Albert Winters, the founder of Winters Excelsior.

The meeting will be held at the McWilliams Methodist Church which is located at 706 Holly Street. McWilliams is located on Highway 21 about 7 miles south of Oak Hill. Signs will be on the road to direct you to the church.

After the program, you are invited to the home of Beth and Bob Yoder at 212 Cedar Street in McWilliams. Refreshments will be served outside, weather permitting. ♦

Congratulations WHS!

We are excited to announce that the Wilcox Historical Society’s Tour of Homes won Alabama Magazine’s 2020 Award for Best of Bama for Best Heritage Tour in the State. These awards are voted on by their readers each year. They choose the best of the best of Alabama’s entertainment, restaurants, people, and places from our northern border to our shores of the Gulf. It is a great honor for our Historical Society! ♦

Member Spotlight – Beth Jones Yoder

Growing up in Wilcox County, the daughter of John Ervin Jones and beloved 4th grade teacher “Miss” Nell Gwin Jones, Beth Jones Yoder lived in Camden where she graduated from WCHS in 1962.  Then she was off to Birmingham to attend University Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1965.  While there she met and married Bob Yoder. After his residence they moved to The Azores for military service in 1970.

After returning to the States, another year was spent in the military in Ft Worth, Texas – finally to settle down in Florence, Alabama in 1973 where they lived for 33 years.  Bob practiced general surgery and when he retired in 2005, they moved to Birmingham. This was a perfect location as it put them close to their three children and six grandchildren.  

In 2011 they purchased the Youngblood home in McWilliams and love spending time there where Bob is in a hunting club and Beth is close to her sister, Dale Winters, and of course she gets to come to Camden often. They also enjoy the peace and quiet the country offers.

Beth loves to travel, walk, work in her yard and spend time with family, friends and her church.

Beth says she often gives thanks for having grown up in Camden.  She loves Camden, the people and all the happy memories it brings to her.  

“It has been such a joy to belong to the Wilcox Historical Society, connect with old friends and make new ones.  I am blessed.” ♦

Wilcox Historical Society awarded Alabama Humanities Relief Grant

The Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) awarded WHS a CARES Act relief grant through funding made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

AHF awarded 79 nonprofits in the state that have humanities as a significant part of their mission $507,500 in relief grants to help meet operational needs – including salaries, rent, property maintenance, utilities, supplies and equipment during the COVID-19 crisis.

After receiving funding from NEH, AHF began identifying operational needs in early May and conducted a two-week application process that saw 103 nonprofits around the state apply for $1.3 million in funding.

“This has been a difficult time for nonprofits throughout our state, and we were proud to play a role in supporting these organizations during this crisis,” said AHF Executive Director Lynn Clark.

The Wilcox Historical Society was the only organization in Wilcox County to receive funds from the relief grant. ♦

MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS

As of September 1, 2020, we have 46 Life Memberships (25 singles, 21 couple) and 162 annual memberships (89 singles, 73 couples) for a total of 235 members!

We currently have members from 12 states other than Alabama – Georgia -7, Colorado -3, California -2, Tennessee – 2, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia each have 1 member. ♦

Social Media Counts!

Facebook Numbers 

Our Facebook page has 1,638 fans with 72% women and 27% men. The percentages of fans in age categories are as follows: 22% are 65+, 18% are 55-64, 14% are 45-54, 11% are 35-44, 5% are 25-34 and 2% are 18-24. Most fans are from Camden, Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham and Monroeville. Rounding out the top ten are Thomasville, Tuscaloosa, Selma, Auburn and Greenville.

Instagram Numbers

Our Instagram page has 753 followers with our top reaching post featuring photos of Yaupon, the Matthews-Tait-Rutherford Home, announcing our 2020 Tour of Homes. This post in December 2019 reached 1,200 accounts. ♦

Wilcox Female Institute and Miller Law Office Repairs

from Chris Bailey, Chairman of the Planning and Fundraising Committee

We have temporarily secured the Female Institute from water intrusion. The two main sources of leaks are at the bell tower and the front top window. The window sill needs to be rebuilt. Flashing needs to be added to the base of the tower. Luckily there does not seem to be any roofing failure and these are fairly easy repairs. We already have the heart pine material for the window repairs. We will have to purchase flashing upon starting. The contractors are scheduled to make the necessary repairs tentatively in September. They are extremely busy with several projects, but I feel like the wait is worth it. I am confident that utilizing them will be most cost effective. I also have confidence that the repairs will be completed correctly with attention to details.

The second floor of the Institute is a major project. We will begin developing the design plan to include replacing the flooring that has been removed and finishing out an area to house the WHS office and Genealogy Research Room. We will also make plans to add additional bathroom facilities. 

We have done a walk though of the law office to assess where it stands in order to get a complete plan together for all our properties. The Law Office is in real need of both interior and exterior painting. The ramp and porches also need some maintenance work done. There is some repair work that needs to be done on it as well. Nothing major, but things that need to be addressed now or we are going to have to spend much more later. We will obtain estimates for the repairs and painting work. ♦

Welcome to new member James Ron Williams of Arlington, Tennessee and to new Life Member – Rebecca Welch Atwell from High Point, North Carolina! Thanks for joining the WHS. ♦

 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:

We are searching for a portrait of Mrs. Catherine Margaret ParrishEllis. She was born in Tuscaloosa in 1832 and died in Camden in 1890. She married Hewey W. Ellis in 1832. She was the niece of William Rufus King and as she was orphaned at an early age she was raised by King. Thank you. R. Kemper, PA

I hope you can give me some information about my great, great, grandfather Col. James T. Johnson and wife Corcyra E. Mathews. I know he had a law office in Camden in 1851. He was a member of the state House in 1847-1848 and the Senate in 1851-1852 representing Wilcox County. I have no record about his parents, his birth date, and place of birth. I did see one reference in a newspaper that he was born in New York and came to Georgia and Alabama as an adult. The newspaper stated he died in November, 1856. I have no record where he was buried. Any information or references about him will be greatly appreciated. I am enclosing an envelope in the hope you can send me some information and a personal check of $20 as a donation. Once the history of our families and country is lost, it’s gone forever. I commend your efforts to preserve our history. Thank you. B. Johnson, TX

Do you know where I can buy some copies of Story of Pine Apple by William L. Stanford? Thank you. B. Melton, AL

I have been researching my family genealogy. Some of my ancestors are from Camden, Alabama. Of particular interest to me is the John P. Fairley and Thomas Dunn families. My second great grandparents are a Peter Fairley (1835-192?) and Mariah Hicks (1837-1929). They were both enslaved individuals. I do not know the source of the surname Fairley. None of my available relatives know this information. My best guess is that Peter Fairley would have been owned by Thomas Dunn and then John P. Fairley, as part of an estate when he married Martha Hobbs Dunn. I did find an 1854 Alabama Supreme Court case associated with Martha Fairley. The slave in question in that case was named Jim. Hopefully, it is obvious that I am hoping to find Peter somewhere in the Dunn or Fairley records. My assumption is that Peter took the surname of his owner at the time of emancipation. Does the Historical Society have any household records that list the slaves of Thomas Dunn, John P. Fairley or Martha Fairley (after her husband’s death)? Thanks for any information, guidance or direction you might have concerning my query about the Fairley household records. I should also comment about my surname. My great grandfather was Gus Watts, born in Camden, December 1869. I believe his biological father was Gustavas Watts, the youngest son of John Watts. DNA confirms the relationship through to John Watts. Any descendant of John Watts shows as a biological cousin in the databases of Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage. The Fairley connection is because Gus Watts married Annie Fairley. As a result, I would welcome any information associated with John Watts. Some decades ago, one cousin did interviews with older relatives. A claim was made that after the Civil War, Gov. Thomas Watts would periodically visit his cousins in Camden. Corroborating stories would be welcomed. Fred Watts, III, NC

Hello. In researching my family history, I discovered a great article about my great great grandfather, David McNeill. It was published in the July 14, 1932 issue of the Wilcox Progressive Era as part of an ongoing, periodic column entitled. “Childhood Memories of Prominent Citizens of Half a Century and More Ago”. The writer of the column is shown as “Sixty”. In 1932, Stanley Godbold was the President of the Wilcox Progressive Era, Inc., and I originally thought he might be the author but his date of birth was too recent. Most of the columns were written from a child’s perspective and most note the person the column is about died in the 1870s or 1880s. This predates S.G.’s birth. Maybe “Sixty” is Leonard William Godbold, the father of Stanley, but I have nothing to confirm that. And that’s why I’m writing you today, to ask assistance in discovering the identity of “Sixty”. Please advise if you or anyone in the Society knows. If not, I would appreciate any suggestions you may have for locating this information. Regards, L. McNeill, TX

I follow you guys on Instagram (I’m not on Facebook) but wondering if you send out a periodic email to which I can subscribe. Please let me know. And assuming this would include fund raising / gift opportunities too. Question I’m hoping you can answer: do you know how I can get my hand on any of Ms. Ouida Starr’s books? I’ve found (and read) so many books about Wilcox but Ms. Starr’s I cannot find. Thank you much, J. Ferguson, GA

My ancestors who settled there were the families of Nathan Williams and MontfordStokes, who married sisters Sarah and Cecilia McMurphy in 1822 in Clarke County, GA. They went together to Alabama very quickly, as Nathan got a patent for land in southern Perry County in 1825 and in 1834 got a patent in Wilcox County. Family lore has Sarah teaching at the Wilcox Female Institute, which is almost certain not true. But there were 6 Stokes girls and I would not be surprised if one or more did not attend. My 2nd great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Williams, was born in Wilcox County in 1858 to Josephine Stokes, who I think was his first cousin. Not sure about that, though. The minister who performed the ceremony was a Reverend McCarty, a Methodist minister and interestingly enough, Benjamin’s son became a Methodist circuit rider in Northern Mississippi in the late 1800s.Could you please provide me information on how to join? I hope to come to Wilcox County soon. Regards, R. Williams, TN

I am most interested in knowing if you have 1860’s verified dated photographs of any of your still-standing buildings. I am particularly interested in verified 1860’s photographs of your Wilcox Female Institute and Ackerville Baptist Church. I am a retired teacher thinking of doing a children’s activity game book where the children would have to match 1860s photographs with their contemporary views. I believe it would be fun and educational as well. Please feel free to pass on this email to anyone who may assist and suggest a website where I might find 1860’s photographs. Respectfully, Peter Vetrano peter.vetrano@yahoo.com

Does Wilcox County have an official location for your historical society? I am in North Carolina and would like to visit the area this week. A. James, NC (Editor’s note – Ms. James was directed to the Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce.)I’m researching the name Grimes. My GGG grandmother’s name was Frances “Fannie” Grimes. The census has her listed in Wilcox Co. and married in Wilcox Co. in 1829. She m. William “Willie” Lewis Crain b. 1790 in GA. They had children in Wilcox, William Lewis JR., b 1830, Harvey 1835, Ellen Elizabeth 1839, Geo. Washington 1841, Sarah Frances 1842, Emanuel 1846. They moved to Milton, Santa Rosa Co. FL and lived there until death. Harvey was my GG grandfather. He married Florida Chance 1866 in Milton. They had my grandfather Thomas Jefferson Crain who married Josephine “Josie” Chestnut and they had my mother Ellen Marie Crain. I have checked Find a grave and

ancestry.com but to no avail. There was a Thomas Grimes listed in Pine Apple who was b. 1800. I’m thinking maybe they were brother and sister? The census says Thomas was b. 1800 in Fairfield SC. I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t know where else to turn. Tom had a daughter named Frances b 1845. Thomas was married to Martha Flowers. They also lived in Milton at one time. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. L. Bacon, NV 

Please put me on your mailing list for the Wilcox Tour of Homes. L. McConnell, KY

Hi there. I’m doing some family research and I’ve come across a possible ancestor (DickColeman) in Snow Hill, Wilcox County, Alabama in the 1870 U.S. Census. There’s a neighbor CharlesCrawford (land owner) that I was hoping you might be able to retrieve some records on. Do you have any Freedman’s Bureau Records or know where I might find some for your county? I’m looking for possible Ration Applications or share cropper’s agreements between Charles Crawford and Dick Coleman. Thanks. K. Jacobson, NV   

I am looking for information on a Hayes/ Hays family who was in the area of Wilcox and Clarke County, Alabama in the early-mid 1800s. I have a lot of conflicting information in my tree and other online trees which has me a little confused. One particular individual is a William Hays who seems to have several different birthdates across 30 years. It could be 3 different Williams that are all related. One of the descendants of this Hays family from Wilcox County – George Washington Hayes (1863-1927) served as the Governor of Arkansas. He was the son of Thomas Hays and Parthenia Jane Ross Hays. Are there any local resources that can be used to help me figure some of this out? Any help would be appreciated. O. Lundy, GA

I have some items I would like to send you. The Wilcox County items are from Gastonburg 1954-1959. During those years, my grandfather, Rev. Virgil C. Herndon was the Methodist minister there and served several surrounding communities as well. I am sending a cookbook “What’s Cooking in Wilcox County”, a picture of the parsonage at Gastonburg, a card listing the congregations “Pap” served and to toot my own horn just a little bit, a copy of a school paper I wrote when I was 17, reminiscing about good times in Gastonburg when I was 8 to 11 years old. Hope these are welcomed items for your collection. J. Rousso, AL

Editors note: The items listed have been received and will be held to place in our future Wilcox Historical Society museum. The school paper about Gastonburg is published in this newsletter on page 11.

It was nice speaking with you today about the Historical Society and my genealogy research. The 1880 census identifies Richard Williams, his Mother, Mary, sister, Sarah and brother, William in one household and brother Claiborne, living at another address. His wife Dollie died between 1902 and 1910 and they disappeared from the census rolls. Whatever additional information you can provide me on Richard, his mother and father and the rest of the family would be greatly appreciated. Note that Mary was widowed in 1880. Thank you for your help. M. Williams, GA

I have ancestors named Martin and Geck and others that lived in Wilcox County starting in the 1830’s and I am looking for documents that would show more information about them and the history of Camden, Wilcox County and towns around there like Buena Vista, Alabama. Can you tell me any kinds of histories and records that are available from about 1830-1910? I really appreciate it. R. Wright, OR  

Comments to a WHS Facebook page post on September 2 for #WaybackWednesday that featured an old photo of the Alco Theater in Camden:

My daddy worked at the Alco. He has a lot of stories about it. C.M. Reynolds ~ I remember it well! Admission was 15 cents, I believe! L.L. Tait ~ I remember that theater from my childhood trips to Camden. A. Rohmer ~ Love seeing this! L. Hall 

Comments to a WHS Facebook post on August 15 that was shared from the This is Alabama page featuring photos of homes in Pine Apple:

Never tire of seeing pictures of Wilcox County! R. Jones ~ It’s one of my favorite places in Alabama! It’s close to my historic home. It has the nicest people there! M. Fort~ Pine Apple is a treasure and so are its residents and their ancestry. So much history! I just love her and her people so much. S.R. Arnold 

Comments to a WHS Facebook post on July 23 that was shared from the Old Alabama Family photos page courtesy of Bob Lowry featuring two photos from dinner on the grounds at Sunny South Baptist Church in the 1960s:

Nothing like a good ole dinner on the grounds. Been to many of them. S.C. Presnall ~ Remember these at Bear Creek and Shilo! B. Yoder

Comments to a WHS Facebook post on July 19 that was shared from the Furman Historical Society with photos and news of the Robbins House, circa 1845, undergoing a complete restoration by Don Bell:

My ancestor’s home. My great grandmother was born in this house. So happy it’s being restored. Don Bell is a miracle worker on old homes. M.C. Bates ~ Looks great! I have history in Furman! D. Boone ♦

Alabama Black Belt Adventures Feed your Adventure

                                                Flavors of the Black Belt

Flavors of the Black Belt is the perfect back roads adventure for this fall!

“Enjoy a back roads weekend jaunt through Alabama’s historic Black Belt region to feed upon the bounty of drinks and eats created by the locals! You’ll be amazed at the unending baked, brewed, butchered, canned, distilled, gathered, ground, pickled, roasted and smoked goods!

The color-coded map outlines nine different themed trails. Each one is featured on the linked, PDF pages available for download. The Shopping Checklist on each page highlights each trail’s delectable creations you’ll want to sample and take home with you as well as various cultural and historical must-sees!”

Restaurants featured in Wilcox County are Miss Kitty’s, The Pecan on Broad, Gaines Ridge and Jackson’s Fried Chicken. Places to stay include Capell House at Pebble Hill, Liberty Hall Bed & Breakfast and Roland Cooper State Park. And included in what to see and where to go are Black Belt Treasures and The Old Shoe Shop Museum in Camden and The Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill and Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective Building in Boykin.

For more information see https://alabamablackbeltadventures.org/ or call 334.343.6173. ♦

Pine Apple’s Connection to the Steiner-Lobman Dry Goods Company in Montgomery

by Martha Grimes Lampkin

In 1871, two young men formed a partnership to enter into the general merchandise business in Pine Apple. At the time Pine Apple was a prosperous town in Wilcox County. Shortly before 1870 the Selma and Gulf railroad was built bringing commercial changes to the town. It was the earliest arrival of a rail line in the county and made Pine Apple a regional commercial center. It was described as “a flourishing town of very nice and comfortable homes and located on a ridge.”  According to the census the population of Pine Apple in 1870 was 1,960. In 1872 the town of Pine Apple was incorporated.

The two young men were Louis Steiner and Nathan Lobman – Jewish merchants who made Pine Apple their home in the early 1870s.

The historical marker erected in Pine Apple in 2010 cites Steiner and Lobman, along with others, as “pioneers, founding families, and entrepreneurs active in the civic and commercial life of Pine Apple.”

Louis’ Background

Louis Steiner was born in 1849 in Tachau, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) to Michael Steiner and Babette Löwy. He was educated in Germany and came to the United States as a young man in 1867. Louis settled in Montgomery and worked for Meyer Uhlfelder and Company, a mercantile business. Meyer’s wife was Elizabeth Steiner – Louis’ aunt.

Meyer Uhlfelder and Elizabeth Steiner married in Butler County on 13 November 1854. They had four children – Samuel, Esther, Morris and August. Morris died as in infant in 1859 and his mother Elizabeth died in 1860. Meyer married Mary Fraleigh in 1862 and they had four known children: Katherine “Katie”, Hellen, Bernard and Henry and probably two infants, Jacob and Sarah, who both died in 1865.

Louis Steiner married Susan “Susie” Lobman on 12 February 1873 in Montgomery. Louis and Susie had eight daughters and one son: Emma, Theresa, Michael, Maud, Beulah, Rosa, Hattie, Kate and Gertrude.

Nathan’s Background

Nathan was born in 1851 in New York City to parents Henry Lobman and Theresa Steiner – immigrants from Bavaria and Austria, respectively.  According to the 1860 census, the Lobman family resided in Greenville, Alabama, but moved to Montgomery by 1870. While in Greenville, Nathan received a limited education and attended a school taught by Col. Thomas Herbert until sixteen. He then clerked for Lewis Bear, a peddler at L. Bear & Company in Greenville. Nathan then moved to Montgomery where he opened a general store. Two years later, Nathan removed his $800 stock of goods to Pine Apple and opened a general store with Louis Steiner.

After Nathan’s mother’s death in 1875 his father, Henry Lobman, moved to Pine Apple and worked in the Steiner and Lobman store. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Pine Apple he is found living with Louis and his family with his occupation listed as “clerk in store.” 

Nathan Lobman married Carrie Pollak in 1884 in New York. They had four children – three daughters and one son: Theresa, Walter, Myron and Bernard.

Louis Steiner and Nathan Lobman were first cousins and brothers in law. Louis’ father Michael was the brother of Nathan’s mother. Louis’ wife Susan was the sister of Nathan.

Time in Pine Apple

As young men living in Pine Apple, Nathan and Louis got into a bit of trouble.  On 2 October 1873 the Town of Pine Apple charged Nathan (age 22) with assault and battery against the person of Wiley Jones. He was found guilty and fined.

Between March 1874 (age 25) and January 1888 (age 39) Louis Steiner was charged with assault and battery or fighting seven times by the Town of Pine Apple. Each time he pled guilty and was fined.

According to the Montgomery City Directory, Steiner and Lobman were also involved with Greil Brothers & Company in Pine Apple in 1880 and 1881. Greil Brothers was a wholesale grocer, cigar, tobacco, liquors and agent for Schlitz Milwaukee beer.

The population of Beat 11 – the Wilcox County district in which Pine Apple was located, was 2,426 according to the 1880 census. The Town of Pine Apple had a population of 358 as compared to 590 in the Town of Camden, the Wilcox county seat. 

By the 1890s Pine Apple had eight to ten business establishments, several saloons, a post office, and a depot, which was located 1.5 miles west of town. Young men were known to ride their horses at full gallop through the town firing their pistols. Nathan and Louis were certainly not alone in being charged with fighting in Pine Apple’s heyday.

Louis and Nathan built homes in Pine Apple not far from their downtown store. Later on, Dr. William Whitman Stuart purchased the Steiner house but tore it down, leaving a vacant lot. In 1903 Paul Davidson built a Queen Anne style two-story home on the lot, which remains today. The Lobman house still stands in Pine Apple and is currently used as a hunting lodge. It is a one and a half story gabled coastal cottage type house with decorative jigsaw work brackets on the porch and gable. The Steiner-Lobman store burned in the tragic fire that destroyed most of the business part of Pine Apple in December 1903.

Move from Pine Apple

The Montgomery Advertiser newspaper published in March 1928 stated:

                “As the two young men prospered, they began to look around for broader fields in a more thickly  settled territory. Montgomery being the Capital City, appealed to them and in 1891 they purchased the   property on the corner of Commerce and Tallapoosa streets, having in view at that time the close  proximity to the Alabama River and the railroads. All the county bordering the river was served by the Nettie Quill and Tinsie Moore, two paddle wheel steamboats which maintained a regular schedule between Montgomery and Mobile. The business and political life of the entire state centered around   Montgomery and these two farsighted young business men were quick to grasp the opportunity to  further their dream of a great mercantile business.”

The Steiner-Lobman Dry Goods Company became one of the largest dry goods establishments in Alabama. It was also the oldest establishment of its kind in the state.

In the late 1890s the company established the Steiner-Lobman Pants Factory at 212 Commerce Street in Montgomery. The plant employed about 75 workers and made “Polly” brand overalls and other lines of work clothing. The apparel manufacturing plant moved to 152 Coosa Street and grew to over 150 employees in a factory space of 80,000 square feet producing eighteen thousand pairs of slacks and jeans per week. 

In 1979 the Steiner-Lobman and Teague buildings on Commerce Street were added to the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings were completed in 1891. The structures are of the Victorian-Italianate style with pressed metal covering the upper floors. Architectural historian Jeff Benton writes, “some describe the buildings as resembling masonry palaces of the Italian Renaissance.” Further described by Benton:

                “Except for roof ornaments and minor decorative details, the two buildings are identical. The three-story   masonry buildings share a common firewall. They have separate hipped roofs. The Commerce Street elevation of each building has six bays separated by cast-iron pilasters that support the masonry of the upper floors, and allow for wide show windows or doors on the ground floor. Originally, each bay had a double door with lower paneled sections, large single upper light, and ten smaller colored lights. There was   a large, rectangular single-light transom above each pair of doors. A full entablature of sheet metal separates the ground floor from the second floor. The upper two floors are sheathed in pressed metal embossed with rosettes, rope molding, raised panels, and with egg-and-dart and leaf-and-tongue motifs. Pressed zinc, tin, or galvanized iron provided an inexpensive imitation, very freely adapted, of the stone decorative features of Italian Renaissance buildings.”

The most well-known and unusual feature of the Steiner-Lobman building is the roof top ornamental coffin like structure. Many stories have been told about the coffin and rumors circulated about who was buried there. But it is hollow and made from sheet metal hammered out in the shape and completely empty. It may have been used to hide a water tower at one time. 

Also, atop this building is an eight-foot goddess, perhaps Athena. The Teague Hardware Company building’s symbol is an anvil. Many theories have been created to explain the three features but it seems that no one knows the true meaning of each. Their symbolism has been lost.

With the store operating out one of the buildings, Teague Hardware purchased the other portion in 1895. William Martin Teague had prospered in the mercantile business in Greenville, Alabama before coming to Montgomery and founding a hardware business. Both firms were located in the buildings until the mid-1970s. Both buildings are now owned and occupied by the law firm Rushton Stakely.

Later Life

Nathan Lobman died in April 1915 at the age of 66 at his residence on South Lawrence Street in Montgomery after an illness of several months. Mr. Lobman was a member of the Montgomery city council for six years, an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Masons, Elks, Knights of Pythias and B’Nal B’Rith and was a devout member of Kahl Montgomery. He left $10,000 to charity to be distributed by his wife. In today’s currency, that amount would equal about $254,000. His son, Walter Lobman, his brother, Emanuel Lobman and his long-time business partner Louis Steiner were named executors of Nathan’s estate.

Steiner-Lobman Dry Goods Company became a corporation in 1915, after the death of Mr. Lobman, with Louis Steiner as President. He was active in the business until his death, a period of 55 years and was “the dean of the wholesale dry goods business of Alabama.” He was also president of the Steiner-Lobman Realty Company and was formerly a director of the Fourth National Bank of Montgomery. Louis was a member of the Masons, Knights of Pythias and the Standard Club. He was also a trustee of the congregation of Kahl Montgomery, and an active member of Temple Beth-Or. In his will he named Temple Beth-Or, the Montgomery Tuberculosis League, the Jewish Widows’ and Orphans’ home of New Orleans and the National Jewish Hospital in Denver as beneficiaries. In today’s currency, the amount left these charities would equal over $35,000. His seven surviving daughters were given stock in the Steiner-Lobman Dry Goods Company and the Steiner-Lobman Realty Company along with cash or houses in Montgomery.

At the age of 77, in April 1926, Louis Steiner passed away while visiting his daughter Hattie Saxe (Mrs. Louis Saxe) in Mt. Vernon, New York. The news came as a shock to his family and friends as he left Montgomery in good health.

His obituary published in The Montgomery Advertiser on 17 May 1926 reads:

                “The recent passing of Louis Steiner, a familiar figure in the life of Montgomery for many, many years,        brought sorrow to his hundreds of friends.  It was always a pleasure to visit him in his store or to stop and                 chat with him for a few minutes on the street.  He had the ‘larger heart, the kindlier hand,’ which always              does so much good for humanity. One of the secrets of Mr. Steiner’s success in the business world was his           unerring judgment of men. He helped many a merchant to make a start in life, and generally the man to               whom he sold his first bill of goods became a customer for life. Montgomery will miss Louis Steiner.”

 The Steiner-Lobman partnership was strong for many, many years. Both men lived “to see the realization of their dreams and left their business in the hands of their children to carry on to further success.”

The Louis Steiner family and the Nathan Lobman family have adjoining lots in the Old Jewish Cemetery in the city cemetery of Oakwood in Montgomery known as the Land of Peace – partners in eternity no doubt. ♦

Sources:

History of Pine Apple Wilcox County, Alabama 1815-1989 by Robert A. Smith, III and Frances Donald Dudley Grimes, published 1990.

A Sense of Place Montgomery’s Architectural Heritage 1821-1951 by Jeffrey S. Benton, published 2001

The Historical Ownership Map of Pine Apple, Alabama by Joy Maxwell Dees, Harold W. Grimes Jr. and Joyce H. Wall and originator William D. Melton

Die Geschichte Der Juden in Tachau (The History of the Jews in Tachau) by Josef Schon, published 1927

The Town of Pine Apple Justice Court Records, 1872 – 1893

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service – The National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Pine Apple Historic District, January 1999

HMdb.org – The Historical Marker database, Downtown Pine Apple Marker erected 2010 by the Alabama Tourism Department and the Town of Pine Apple

Newspapers.com – The Montgomery Advertiser, 28 April 1915, 11 May 1915, 26 February 1919, 22 April 1926, 1 May 1926, 17 May 1926, 15 March 1928, 1 March 1970, 6 July 1976, 5 April 1979, 7 May 1994; The Weekly Advertiser 3 October 1860

https://www.census.gov/library/publications U.S. Census Bureau 1870 Census: A Compendium of the Ninth Census

https://www.census.gov/library/publications U.S. Census Bureau 1880 Census: A Compendium of the Tenth Census

Ancestry.com – United States Federal census records 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900; United States Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885; Alabama Compiled Marriages from Selected Counties 1809-1920; U.S. Passport Applications 1795-1925 Immigration and Travel; Montgomery, Alabama Directories 1880-1895 Directories and Membership; Notable Men of Alabama: personal and genealogical with portraits; Cook County, Illinois Deaths Index 1878-1922, 

The Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 48, No. 2 and Volume 56, No. 3

Dollartimes.com/inflation

Findagrave.com

Gastonburg Alabama

By Jo Anne Howington Rousso, written in 1966 at age 17 

Small towns are often more intriguing and picturesque than the most exciting city. They are not carbon copies like larger municipalities, but each has its own distinctive characteristics. Gastonburg, Alabama, a very small village boasting a post office, one store, and two churches, has more appeal than many larger places.

The system of paved streets forms a small semicircle leaving the highway at the store, passing the lovely colonial home on the right which is the home of the Wilkersons. The next sight is the Presbyterian Church dressed in white, brightening the right side of the street. The street turns left here and makes a circle back to the highway and post office which is next to the store. At the post office, there is a fork in the street, one goes to the highway and the other to the post office. In the middle of the fork is a lovely flower garden. It always seemed to give the whole area a breath of beauty and springtime.

Another street goes straight from the Presbyterian Church past the Methodist Church where services are held once a month. There is no Presbyterian minister, so the people of Gastonburg alternate the Sunday school between the two churches.

Next on the tour is the Methodist parsonage. This is the most familiar sight in Gastonburg to me. My grandfather and grandmother lived here for six years. I can remember many happy visits to this home, and many good times in the yard with the fence around it. One of the pleasantest memories I have of my visits is the walks from the parsonage to the store. I nearly always took a short-cut, (which really was no short-cut for the distance by the road could surely not have been any longer), through what seemed to me to be like a park. There was a little trail and a cement park bench. I always stopped there on my way back home to eat my ice cream.

The rest of the shady street is the setting for about five homes. The street then is swallowed by the main highway. To passersby Gastonburg is only a “wide place in the road,” but to me it holds many memories of a quaint, beautiful community, and many happy visits to the Methodist Church parsonage. ♦

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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Wilcox Historical Society Officers for 2020Martha 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. ♦