The Official E-Newsletter of the Alabama Historical Commission
Volume 4 Number 2

468 S Perry St, Montgomery, AL 36104   ( 334) 242-3184
In This Issue
Calendar of Events

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Download the 2019 event calendar here!
Guided tours are offered by appointment only, Monday - Friday at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00. Self-guided tours anytime Monday-Friday, no appointment needed. Guided Saturday Tours are offered at 9:00, 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00 (group reservation requested but not required).  Call Lisa Franklin,  Site Director, at  334-242-3188 for more information.
January & February 
Civil War Presentation Series Every Wednesday. For more information c all 251-540-5257 .
January 1-31
State Treasurer's College Counts Smart Art exhibit. For more information please call Lisa Franklin,  Site Director, at 
January 21
Celebrating Coretta: Alabama's First Lady of the Movement. 

Join The Freedom Rides Museum on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as we celebrate the life and legacy of Coretta Scott King. From her childhood in Marion, Alabama to the halls of Washington, DC, she never stopped marching in support of Civil Rights, dignity, and justice for all.

We will have family-friendly activities going on throughout the day, where you can explore Coretta's Alabama roots, kick back and read some Coretta Scott King Award-winning books, and learn more about the roles of women in the Civil Rights Movement.

For more information call 334-414-8647.
January 26-27
Winter Quarters 1862 For more information call 205-755-1990.
Recent Press Releases

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In the News

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A Very Merry Christmas at AHC House Museums

Magnolia Grove (Greensboro, Alabama) was beautifully decorated by the  Greensboro Garden Club for Porches & Parlors.
Belle Mont Mansion (Tuscumbia, Alabama) hosted their annual Plantation Christmas. This holiday event, reminiscent of parties in the Old South, included traditional Christmas decorations of fresh greenery and fruit, period music, and vintage ballroom dancing. Image courtesy of Mary Carton. 
Fendall Hall (Eufaula, Alabama) is beautifully decorated for the holiday season.
Pond Spring, the General Joe Wheeler Home's (Hillsboro, Alabama) held its annual Christmas Celebration .  
During Gaineswood's (Demopolis, Alabama) Open House, M.B. Ulmer, great-great-great grandson of Gen. Whitfield and wife Lewana visit with Kathy Patterson. This annual event takes place during Christmas on the River. 

Civil War Blockade Runner Uncovered

Wreck of the Ivanhoe, a Civil War blockade runner. Photo courtesy of Capt. Dreas Andreasen

The wreck of the Ivanhoe, a Confederate blockade runner, was uncovered in the surf along Fort Morgan.

The Ivanhoe dates to the Civil War. It was an iron hulled paddlewheel steamer built in Scotland in May of 1864. The ship was sunk on its maiden voyage just seven weeks later as it attempted to steam into Mobile Bay, past the Union naval blockade set up between Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island. At the time, the Confederates still controlled both forts. The Union ships patrolled the mouth of the bay just outside of the reach of the cannons in the forts.

According to historical accounts, the Ivanhoe came under heavy fire from Union ships and was forced to run aground on Fort Morgan before it sank. The crew survived the incident, and most of the cargo was removed by Confederate forces stationed in Fort Morgan. The Union ships were kept at a distance by the big cannons of Fort Morgan as the cargo and engine were pulled from the Ivanhoe. Union troops managed to slip in under the cannons in a small boat and set the Ivanhoe on fire about a week later.

If you plan to visit the site, a word of caution about historic shipwrecks: It is illegal to remove anything from the site, dig for relics, or disturb the wreck in any way.

"The Ivanhoe is protected by the Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act," said Stacye Hathorn, Alabama State Archaeologist. "It is important for people to understand they are welcome to view the wreck, but it is illegal to remove anything from the site as well as damage, destroy, salvage, excavate or alter the wreck in any way. The Ivanhoe is a nonrenewable cultural resource, meaning that if it is damaged or destroyed, it is gone forever, and that piece of history is lost."

But what a fun piece of history to have revealed to us for even just a moment.

"The Alabama Historical Commission encourages the citizens of our state to enjoy our cultural resources, but they should do so responsibly," said Lisa D. Jones, Executive Director of the Alabama Historical Commission. "It is important to protect and preserve the Ivanhoe, a significant piece of our state's Civil War history, so that future Alabamians can experience it. Anyone wishing to explore or scientifically survey the Ivanhoe or any other wreck in Alabama waters can apply for a permit through the Alabama Historical Commission."

Read more here

Cemetery Preservation Workshop

The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC), in coordination with the Friends of the General Joe Wheeler Foundation and in commemoration of Black History Month, will host a cemetery preservation workshop on Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 1:00 - 4:00pm at Pond Spring, the General Joe Wheeler Home in Hillsboro, Alabama.

The workshop will provide basic information and skills for people who are interested in preserving historic gravestones and cemetery monuments. Gravestone cleaning will also be discussed and demonstrated on site at Pond Spring's cemeteries. The workshop will also share history of the African-Americans, both enslaved and free, who worked on the property during the nineteenth and twentieth century.

The course is free but participants must pre-register at or by calling Hannah Garmon at 334-230-2644. You can also find information on our Facebook page. Space is limited to only 30 participants. 

Pond Spring, a historic property of the Alabama Historical Commission, is located  in Lawrence County in Hillsboro, three miles east of Courtland, on Alabama Highway Highway 20 (US Alt. 72).

Workshop Agenda:
1:00 - 1:20 PM - Welcome & History
1:20 - 2:00 PM - Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Demonstration
2:00 - 2:10 PM - Break
2:10 - 2:40 PM - Cleaning Demonstration
2:40 - 4:00 PM - Headstone Cleaning

Cemetery Register Update

The following cemeteries were recently added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. The Alabama Historical Commission's cemetery program provides assistance in identifying, documenting, registering, and protecting Alabama's historic cemeteries. Through the cemetery program, the Alabama Historical Commission makes information on Alabama's  cemeteries laws available; informs the public about general cemetery preservation guidelines; issues permits for substantial work - including, but not limited to the relocation of human remains in cemeteries at least 75 years old. For more information visit our website .
Sharman-Stevens-Randle Cemetery - Randolph County

The first burial occurred in 1854 and the Rock Mills School is located next to it. There are two Civil War Veterans buried there. The Stevens, some of the first settlers in this area, are also buried there.

Essie J. Handy Memorial Cemetery - Chambers County

Elisha and Essie Handy came to LaFayette in 1925. They were educators and active in civic and religious activities. In 1940 their oldest son, Ralph, died from tuberculosis and was buried in the only African-American cemetery in LaFayette. Mrs. Handy asked the community for contributions to purchase land from Judge Grady for a new African-American cemetery. In 1949 she had her son's body exhumed and transferred to the new community cemetery bearing her name. Mrs. Handy led a prolific life. In 1945 she became the first African-American to vote in Chambers County and was recognized as a Civil Rights leader in the area. Mrs. Handy met with President Lyndon B. Johnson and was invited to his Inauguration in 1965. She operated the cemetery until her death in 1977. Subsequently, the cemetery was deeded to the City of LaFayette, which recognized Mrs. Handy for her achievements and impact on the community.

Overton Family Cemetery - Baldwin County

The first burial occurred here in 1854 with 20 known burials. This cemetery was established by the Overton Family who helped found the area. They are decedents of John Overton who served in the War of 1812 and came to the area in 1828 when he was commissioned as a Justice of the Peace. The first known burial was the infant son of William J. and Orwell Matilda Overton Davis.

Cedar Hill Cemetery - Jefferson County

The first known burial was Thomas McAdory in 1813 and was founded as the McAdory family cemetery. The City of Bessemer acquired the cemetery in 1910 from the family. It has since become a municipal cemetery and is home to some of the county's earliest settlers.

Center Port Cemetery - Tallapoosa County

The first known burial was in 1886. Three known Confederate veterans are buried here: Private Jones E. Clayton, Private Edmond Downing, and Private John Riley Umphress. The cemetery, located next to Lake Martin, was founded by the Center Port Church, which was established in 1873.

The Davis Family Cemetery - Montgomery County

The land for this cemetery was purchased by Isaiah and Pearlie Davis in the late 1800's from members of their families. The cemetery was surrounded by acres of farm land for many years. Mr. Davis was a community leader and a 33rd and ½ degree mason, a farmer, and founder of the Farmers Union Society. Pearlie Davis was a seamstress and member of the Eastern Star and also managed a store in the community. The earliest marked gave is from 1936, but the earliest known burial is from 1884.

Alabama Register Update

The following properties were recently added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage. The Alabama Historical Commission created the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage as a listing of historic resources (buildings, sites, structures, objects, districts, and cultural landscapes) in Alabama that are worthy of preservation. These properties may be of national, state, and local significance. The designation is honorary and carries no restrictions or financial incentives.  It also does not carry automatic listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  For more information visit our website .
Alpine Plantation - Talladega County

Listed for its association with agriculture and architecture. 

Completed in 1858, the two-story Greek Revival-style house was built for Nathaniel Welch by master builder, Almarion Devalco Bell. 

The wood-frame house has several unusual features that make it one of the more architecturally interesting antebellum houses in the state. 

Nathaniel Welch, born in Madison County, Virginia on November 24, 1814, was the son of Reverend Oliver Welch, a Baptist minister and a founder of the Alpine Baptist Church. He built the simple two-story hewn-log house at Kingston, his nearby homestead, upon his arrival from Virginia in 1832. The Welch family was intermarried with the Reynolds family of the now-destroyed Mount Ida.
The Barksdale-Looney House - Limestone County

Listed for its association with social history and architecture.
In October 1839 Daniel Barksdale moved his large family from Lincoln County, Tennessee to a dogtrot log house and became a sharecropper.

In December 1843 Barksdale saved a little money and offered to buy the place from the Mitchell family. They sold it for $75 and Barksdale took possession of the property. The family added a log room to the rear of the house. Daniel Barksdale made bedsteads, chairs, tables, mattresses, and constructed a wooden sign that read "Drover's Stand - Room and Board." A drover's stand was a place where "drovers" could water and feed their turkeys, cattle, and hogs while also finding a bed for the night. The Barksdales later added a stagecoach stop to the Fayetteville Pike.

Aubrey and Annie Mae Looney purchased the property in March 1929. They sold seasonal produce to travelers. The Looney's son Milton was born in the house in December 1932 and lived there with his parents for the next 22 years. Milton constructed a home next to the property in 1978.

Bethlehem United Methodist Church - Jefferson County

Listed for its association with religion, funerary art, and architecture.
The church was established in 1816 when James Rutledge settled in this area and donated land for the building and cemetery. Using enslaved people, the original church was built under the direction of Reverend James Tarrant, who was a Captain during the Revolutionary War.
The church was designed by William Rose Saddler, Sr., who also designed the county courthouse in Elyton, the county seat until 1873. In the early 1890s the church was taken down to the floor but kept the sanctuary on top of the original floor, sills, and foundation. At that time, the bell tower, new roof, and stained-glass windows were added. In 1954 the extension of the highway required that the church be raised eight feet. As a result, the old historic log sills from 1818 beneath the church became visible as the ceiling beams in the basement fellowship hall.  
Bertha P. Williams Library - Montgomery County

Listed for its association with African American heritage and architecture.
The need for a public library for the African-American community in Montgomery was expressed via the Montgomery Negro Ministerial Association. It was decided that the group would begin the Friends of the Library Association for the expressed purpose of pursuing a library for the community.
The first library was at the Montgomery City Federation of Colored Women's Club and it opened in 1948. Ms. Bertha Pleasant Williams was the first African-American employee of the Montgomery library system. She managed the library for the next 12 years. In May 1960, the library board, through special funding from the City of Montgomery, opened the first freestanding public building for a library for African-American's on the west side of the city.
Mr. James Miller Davis, a graduate of Alabama Polytechnic Institute, designed a 5,228 square foot building to hold 15,750 volumes of material, including a meeting room to accommodate a meeting space for the community.
The Bertha P. Williams Library at the Rose L. Parks Avenue building is the second location of this "separate but equal facility" but is recognized as the first library for African-American citizens in Montgomery. On August 7, 1962 Judge Frank Johnson issued a decision settling the issue of access to "separate but equal" library service in Montgomery County and African-Americans were permitted to legally enter the downtown library.  
Cain's Chapel United Methodist Church & Cemetery - Elmore County

Listed for its association with religion.

Cain's Chapel is the oldest continuous church congregation in the River Region. It was founded by Elisha Milton Cain who moved from Orange County, South Carolina to the Pine Flat area in 1817. During this time, he constructed a log chapel for his family and friends. In 1820 he moved to the Deatsville area and built a brown, wood-frame building and named it Cain's Chapel.

In 1885 Cain's Chapel was put on the Deatsville Circuit of the Methodist Church. By 1890 a white-frame church was constructed with lumber donated by the founder's granddaughter. During 1950-1951 the men of the church took the white frame church apart, and salvaged materials for the new red brick sanctuary that was to be built. In 1953, through the efforts of the men and women, it was finished on a pay-as-you-go basis.  
Lock 31 - Elmore County

Listed for its association with transportation and architecture.

Lock 31 sits in the Coosa River adjacent to downtown Wetumpka, as well as a state-owned boat ramp. The lock was completed in June 1896 as one of a system of 31 locks and dams to help make the water navigable by steamboat from Wetumpka to Mobile.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project began in 1880, with the first survey conducted in 1889 by the Montgomery field office and could possibly be the first project by the Corps in Alabama. The estimated cost of the project was $6.07 million. However, Lock 31 was never completed because of the advent of trains. Lock 31 not only illustrates the steamboat history of the area, it also highlights a shift from steamboat transportation to the train and railroad industry. The only addition to Lock 31 was made by Alabama Power in the latter 20th century when they installed a water level gauge.   
Madison County Rosenwald School - Madison County

Listed for its association with education, African-American heritage, and architecture.

Constructed around 1923 as a one teacher type Rosenwald School. Rosenwald schools refer to a group of educational institutions established in the South for African-Americans in the first half of twentieth century. The schools were named for Julius Rosenwald, president and later chairman of Sears Roebuck & Co. and creator of the philanthropic Rosenwald Fund, which provided matching funds for the schools. Nearly 400 schools and houses were constructed in Alabama and nearly 5,000 new schools were built in 15 southern states between 1917 and 1932 as part of this civic effort to increase educational opportunities in the largely rural and segregated South. This school, like many of the Rosenwald Schools, was turned into a house at some point in its history.
The Rice House - Calhoun County

Listed for its association with African-American heritage, A.W. Rice, and architecture.

Reverend A.W. Rice was born in June 1888 to Mable Rice and Vernie Dillard. He married Marie Phelps on September 11, 1912 and attended Lincoln University and the University of Chicago. Rice became an ordained minister under the Presbyterian Church, USA in April 1912. Upon completion of his studies, he moved to Anniston, Alabama where he founded South Highland High, the first African-American High School, which was open from 1914-1933. 

Rev. Rice was also the Assistant Principal of the Margaret Barber Seminary from 1933 until it closed in 1940. The Rice's never had any children, but they provided room and board for teachers and students attending both the South Highland School and Barber Seminary. This home is the only standing structure with a connection to either of the two schools. Rev. Rice was also the Pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church throughout his teaching career. Marie, his wife, was also a missionary and an educator. She worked with Barber-Scotia College after the merger. 
The Stinson House - Coffee County

Listed for its association with African-American heritage and architecture.

In 1903 this house was constructed for Martin and Pauline Stinson for the cost of $1000. During 1929 a flood destroyed its wrap around porch.

After Pauline's death in 1929 the property was left to Fint Stinson, her son. All eight of his children were delivered by Doctor Braswell in this house. Fint died on March 11, 1972. His son Perry and his wife Ruby lived in the home from 1961 until the 1990 flood. The home was then deeded to Juliette Carolyn Stinson Brown by her brothers. The house was cleaned and restored.

The City of Elba purchased the home and land in 2002. The home was moved to city-owned land a few yards east of where it was located. It originally sat in the path of the new levee being built around the city.

Black Heritage Council Update

Elvin Lang, Vice Chair of the Black Heritage Council, attended a planning meeting for the Africatown Connection Blueway.

A number of improvements are being made to revitalize Africatown and the surrounding area. Among the latest is the  Africatown Connection Blueway Kayak Trail Plan, which includes a kayak launch, fishing pier and public parks to be built under the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge as part of the Africatown Connection Blueway.

A partnership between the National Park Service and local community groups in Africatown, the Blueway project will connect Africatown with Africatown State Park in Prichard. The trail includes parts of Chickasaw Creek, the Mobile River and Three Mile Creek, and is designed to increase public access to the water.

Elvin Lang,  BHC Vice Chair, attended  "Meeting the Ancestors through African American Cemetery Preservation," an event sponsored by the Preservation of African American Cemeteries, Inc. (PAAC) and Auburn University's Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities at Pebble Hill. 

Where in the State are AHC Staff?

Ned Jenkins, AHC Archaeologist at Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson Park, presented a professional paper at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Augusta, Georgia. The paper, "Swine of the Hernando DeSoto Entrada, 1539-1540" was given as a part of the symposium "Papers in Honor of Dr. Richard Krause," past chairman of the Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama. 

Working with Ned Jenkins, Dr. Krause previously brought three summer Archaeological field schools to Fort Toulouse/Jackson Park for research purposes. 
In this paper Jenkins examined DeSoto's swine herd in order to understand its contexts within similar expeditions of exploration and conquest in Central and South America. Hernando DeSoto, Hernan Cortez  (conquest of the Aztecs), and Francisco Pizarro (conquest of the Inca), were all from the Spanish province of Extremadura where swine had been an important element of foodways for hundreds of years. These conquistadors adapted swine culture to the perils and demands of exploration and conquest in the New World. Hernando DeSoto had served as commander of  calvary under Pizarro, providing the gold and finance for the exploration into the present interior southeastern United States. Additionally, Jenkins examined the physical characteristics of these semi-feral swine in order to understand how and why they were herded across the southeast by DeSoto.

Happenings at #AHCsites

Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson Park's (Wetumpka, Alabama) 23rd annual Alabama Frontier Days was a success despite the rainy weather. Visitors experienced  one of the largest and most authentic living history events in Alabama! Check out a special video highlighting the event. 
Passengers from the American Duchess Riverboat visited Belle Mont Mansion.
The State Capitol Christmas Tree was installed. The annual tree lighting was December 7 ( image below). Photo courtesy of Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser. 
The  Alabama Arts Alliance "Faces of Alabama: A Bicentennial Youth Art Exhibition" was on display at  the Alabama State Capitol.  The portraits and writing in this exhibition were all created by Alabama students in connection with Alabama's Bicentennial Celebration.
Dylan Tucker, Site Historian at Fort Morgan (Gulf Shores, Alabama), gave a presentation on the fort's military role during WWI. 
WWI photo exhibit at Fort Morgan
Fort Morgan hosted an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battles of Tarawa and Makin Island.
The AHC is happy to welcome Catherine Statam to the staff at the Goat Hill Museum Store.
Old Cahawba (Orrville, Alabama) hosted an event to celebrate Alabama's 199th birthday. Visitors enjoyed a cake that honored Gov. William Wyatt Bibb. 
The Freedom Rides Museum (Montgomery, Alabama) hosted Freedom Rider Catherine Burks-Brooks and Author/Photojournalist Eric Etheridge for "Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders (Expanded Edition)." The event garnered great Montgomery-area coverage and was supported by the Friends of the Freedom Rides Museum and the Black Heritage Council. Image above (left to right): Mary Williford, FRM staff, Catherine Burks-Brooks, and Dorothy Walker, FRM Site Director. Image below: Author/Photojournalist Eric Etheridge. 


Freedom Rider Rip Patton at the Freedom Rides Museum shared the story of the Nashville Student Movement and the Freedom Rides with weekday afternoon visitors to the museum. 

Ruby Fredericka "Ricky" Shuttlesworth Bester, daughter of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, visited the Freedom Rides Museum. Ms. Bester had been in town doing research in the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and happened to visit the museum during a high school group tour. She shared stories of her life growing up as the child of front line Civil Rights workers during the Movement, and memories of housing some of the injur ed Freedom Riders in her family's home in 1961. 

Happenings Around the State

Interested in hosting Making Alabama, A Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit from the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF)?  As part of the Alabama Bicentennial celebration, Alabama counties and communities are invited to host the exhibition. To host the exhibit please apply here.  

For more information, contact AHF Director of Operations Laura Anderson at or call (205) 558-3992.

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