Saturday, November 18, 2017

'Devil's Soup Bowl' left Singleton with many unanswered questions in 1971

The "Devil's Soup Bowl" in 2013.
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “The Devil’s Bowl” was originally published in the April 15, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

What’s in a name? Could this really be what the name implies? Approximately 80 feet in diameter, this pool has been the topic of conversation by the people of the Goodway and Megargel communities for many, many years.

Located about three miles off Highway 84 [sic], this is truly one of Monroe County’s strangest sights. As one examines the immediate area, one will notice that lilies and water grass grows in abundance for about 10 feet around the water’s edge. The center of the pool then becomes dark as though of great depth.

The water is fresh and one can see many minnows on the surface. The fact that life exists there is no mystery, but where does the fresh water come from? Where does it go? To have fresh water such as this one it must have a source from which it comes. Also there must be a stream or an overflow. Here, none exists.

Although I have not had the opportunity to measure or try and find the bottom, the rumor that has circulated over the years say that there is none. Perhaps the depth is so great that the bottom has never been reached.

One has but to look at the lay of the land to imagine that at some time in the past, when the world was young, a great meteor fell upon this area with such impact that it buried itself to a great depth; or could it be the core of a small volcano which has been sleeping through the centuries. What is the explanation of the mystery behind the Devil’s Soup Bowl? Who gave it its name?

As I stood there near the pool’s edge and looked into the dark, deep water, I could feel that somewhere beneath the cool clear surface the secret has lain for a thousand years, and I felt reasonably sure it would lay for a thousand more.

(This column was also accompanied by a photo of the “Devil’s Soup Bowl” and the caption beneath that photo read as follows: The Devil’s Soup Bowl – one of Monroe County’s strangest sights.)

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born during a late-night thunderstorm on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Today in History for Nov. 18, 2017

Jim Jones of "Jonestown."
Nov. 18, 1307 - Legend has it that on this day, William Tell shot an apple off his son's head. He'd been ordered to do this as punishment for disrespecting an authority figure.

Nov. 18, 1493 – Christopher Columbus first sighted the island now known as Puerto Rico.

Nov. 18, 1727 – French physician and explorer Philibert Commerson was born in Châtillon les Dombes, France.

Nov. 18, 1776 - In honor of Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, who had stormed the post five days earlier, British Commander in Chief General William Howe renamed Fort Washington in New York City “Fort Knyphausen.”

Nov. 18, 1789 – Louis Daguerre, the man who helped invent the art of photography, was born just outside of Paris, France.

Nov. 18, 1810 – American botanist Asa Gray was born in Oneida County, N.Y.

Nov. 18, 1813 – The “Hillabee Massacre” occurred at Hillabee, an important Muscogee (Creek) town in east central Alabama. During the massacre, General James White dispatched a force of allied Cherokee under Gideon Morgan to surround the main Hillabee town. The Hillabee, believing they had made peace, were unprepared for an attack, and were unable to resist Morgan's assault. The town was destroyed, 64 Hillabees were killed, and several hundred were captured.

Nov. 18, 1832 – Finnish-Swedish geologist and explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld was born in Helsinki, Finland.

Nov. 18, 1836 – Sir William Schwenk “W.S.” Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, was born in London.

Nov. 18, 1853 – Iyra H. Malden became postmaster at Burnt Corn, Ala.

Nov. 18, 1859 – At 1 p.m., brothers Irvin and Stephen Ward were hung for the murder of Allen Page during a failed cotton wagon robbery near Brewer Creek in Conecuh County, Ala. A posse caught the brothers, who confessed. The posse marched on to the place of execution where Patrick Page and William Wright (sons of Allen Page and John Wright) adjusted the hanging nooses around the necks of the condemned murderers. The old gallows were not removed following the execution, and it stood for many decades as a reminder of the tragic murder at Fork Sepulga. The location of that murder and hanging, where the old gallows stood, known thereafter as “Gallows Hollow,” was located on the road that turned south from the Federal road near Cokersville (Activity) and led past the Sepulga community through Sparta Station. Both of the Ward brothers were buried in the Ward-Witherington Cemetery in Conecuh County. Stephen Ward was around 34 years old, and Irvin (sometimes spelled Irwin) was around 31 years old.

Nov. 18, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Palmyra, Price‘s Landing and Warrensburg in Missouri.

Nov. 18, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought along Doe River, in East Tennessee.

Nov. 18, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Cofer Creek, N.C.

Nov. 18, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought on the road between Falls Church and Fairfax Court House in Virginia.

Nov. 18, 1861 – During the Civil War, Kentucky, which had had a popular vote rejecting secession but declaring neutrality in any combat, was the scene of a “convention” in Russellville, Ky. This meeting, held by Confederate soldiers, issued a declaration of secession and formation of a Confederate state government. On the other hand, a group of North Carolinians met in Hatteras on this day for a similar cause, but they repudiated secession and declared loyalty to the Union.

Nov. 18, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Doby River, Ga.; at Core Creek, N.C.; at Double Bridge and Rural Hills in Tennessee; and at Franklin, Va.

Nov. 18, 1863 - President Abraham Lincoln boarded a train for Gettysburg, Pa. to deliver a short speech at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed during the battle there on July 1-3, 1863. The address Lincoln gave in Gettysburg became one of the most famous speeches in American history.

Nov. 18, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Trenton, Ga.; at Carrion Crow Bayou, La.; on Shoal and Turkey Creek, in Jasper County, Mo.; and near Germanna Ford and Vienna in Virginia. A five-day Federal expedition from Skipwith’s Landing to Roebuck Lake, Miss. also began.

Nov. 18, 1863 - Confederate operations commenced against United States gunboats USS Carondelet, USS Choctaw and USS Franklin and assorted Federal transport vessels near Hog Point, Miss., along the Mississippi River.

Nov. 18, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Lake Fause Point, La.; at Fayette, Mo.; and at Kabletown, W.Va.

Nov. 18, 1864 – Normally, armies in the Civil War period marched in columns, usually four men wide. The army would be strung out for miles. Include what today we would call supply wagons and the army occupied even more space. The army William T. Sherman led out of Atlanta reversed this procedure. The two wings were stretched out at times to a distance of 60 miles from the far left of the Left Wing to the far right of the Right Wing. Initially, the only Confederate opponent available was Gen. Howell Cobb in Macon, Ga. He received a telegram from Jefferson Davis on this day imploring him to use any means necessary to resist Sherman, including employing slaves to build roadblocks.

Nov. 18, 1865 – Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published in the New York Saturday Press.

Nov. 18, 1871 – W.B. Kemp was commissioned as Monroe County, Alabama’s Sheriff.

Nov. 18, 1883 – American and Canadian railroads instituted five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.

Nov. 18, 1886 - The twenty-first president of the United States, Chester Alan Arthur, died at the age of 57 in New York City.

Nov. 18, 1889 – The trial of State of Alabama vs. I.S. Lambert was held in Monroe County, Ala. Circuit Court. Lambert was charged with assault with the intent to murder T.D. Hestle. Lambert was represented by attorneys D.L. Neville of Monroeville and G.L. Smith of Mobile and he pleaded insanity. The case “attracted wide interest and a large audience of spectators,” and the entire day was “consumed in the examination of the witnesses, of whom there were about 40, after which the court adjourned until the following morning, when the case was argued with much ability on both sides. The plea of the defense was insanity and was most ably and eloquently argued by Col. D.L. Neville of our local bar and G.L. Smith, esq., of Mobile. The jury sustained the plea and the defendant was sent to the insane asylum in compliance with the provisions of an act passed by the last legislature, bearing on cases of that character.”

Nov. 18, 1901 - American statistician George Gallup was born in Jefferson, Iowa. He was a pioneer in scientific polling techniques, and his name became a household word synonymous with the opinion poll.

Nov. 18, 1903 - The Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed by the United States and Panama, giving the United States exclusive rights over the Panama Canal Zone and allowing them to build the Panama Canal.

Nov. 18, 1915 – On this Thursday night, the large, two-story home of Byron Dean, one of the “largest and commodious homes in Evergreen,” Ala., was completely destroyed by fire. The house was located too far from a water plug for the fire department to put out the fire. It was believed that a spark from waste paper burned earlier in the night started the fire.

Nov. 18, 1916 – During World War I, at the First Battle of the Somme in northwestern France, British Expeditionary Force commander Douglas Haig called off the epic battle which started on July 1, 1916.

Nov. 18, 1927 – Italian race car driver, explorer and politician Scipione Borghese, 10th Prince of Sulmona was born in Migliarino, Italy.

Nov. 18, 1928 – The animated short “Steamboat Willie,” the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, was first released and was shown as New York’s Colony Theatre.

Nov. 18, 1939 - Alabama author Nancy Van Laan was born in Baton Rouge, La.

Nov. 18, 1939 – Novelist Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario.

Nov. 18, 1940 – During World War II, German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano met to discuss Benito Mussolini's disastrous Italian invasion of Greece.

Nov. 18, 1940 – A crew of about 40 WPA workers began work on Evergreen, Alabama’s new municipal golf course, four miles north of town on Highway 31, on about 80 acres of land in front of Lemley’s Station.

Nov. 18, 1941 – In Conecuh County (Ala.) Circuit Court, Alvin Wilkinson faced charges of first-degree murder in connection with the killing of his mother-in-law, Josephine Zellers, in July 1939.

Nov. 18, 1943 - Philadelphia Phillies President William Cox was banned from baseball for betting on his team.

Nov. 18, 1949 - Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player.

Nov. 18, 1951 - Chuck Connors of the Los Angeles Angels became the first player to oppose the Major League draft. Connors later became the star of the television show "The Rifleman."

Nov. 18, 1953 – Varnie Neal Peavy, 53, of Belleville, Ala. was killed in a one-vehicle accident around 7 p.m. a short distance from Belleville.

Nov. 18, 1955 - Dr. W.W. Eddins, prominent Monroeville physician and Monroe County Health Officer, announced that he had leased the Monroeville Hospital from Mrs. T.E. Nettles, widow of the late Dr. T.E. Nettles. Mrs. Nettles had been operating the hospital on a temporary basis since the death of Dr. Nettles in an automobile accident in September. Dr. Eddins planned to assume operation of the hospital sometime around Dec. 1, 1955.

Nov. 18, 1955 – In the final game of the season, Monroe County High School beat in-county rival Frisco City High School, 19-12, in Frisco City. Seniors on MCHS’s team that year included Co-Capt. Grayson Simmons, Co-Capt. William Nettles, Danny Morgan, Hank Williams, Ray Sirmon, Boone McNorton, John Fowler, Aubrey Tatum and Gilbert Jernigan. LeVaughn Hanks was MCHS’s head coach.

Nov. 18, 1956 – Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon was born in Los Angeles, Calif. He would go on to play for the Houston Oilers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Nov. 18, 1961 – United States President John F. Kennedy sent 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

Nov. 18, 1964 - In the largest air assault of the war thus far, 116 U.S. and South Vietnamese aircraft flew 1,100 South Vietnamese troops into Binh Duong and Tay Ninh Provinces to attack what was believed to be a major communist stronghold.

Nov. 18, 1965 – The Monroe Journal reported that the first three buildings of the Patrick Henry Junior College in Monroeville, Ala. were under construction and were expected to be completed next spring. The buildings included the administration, the library and the science buildings. Classes were to be held in the First Baptist Church and the Methodist Church until the new buildings are ready for occupancy.

Nov. 18, 1966 - Sandy Koufax, the ace pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, retired from baseball. He was just 30 years old, and he was retiring after a great season - he’d led the Dodgers to a National League pennant and won his third Cy Young Award. But he had chronic arthritis in his pitching arm, and he was afraid that if he kept playing baseball, eventually he wouldn’t be able to use his left hand at all.

Nov. 18, 1967 – English footballer and sportscaster Gavin Peacock was born in Eltham, England.

Nov. 18, 1969 - Sixty South Vietnamese men were killed or wounded when their troops clashed with communist forces in the Mekong Delta.

Nov. 18, 1970 - President Nixon asked Congress for supplemental appropriations for the Cambodian government of Premier Lon Nol.

Nov. 18, 1977 – In the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs, Repton High School saw its season come to an end with a 27-13 loss to Brantley in Brantley, Ala. Repton finished the season 10-1-1.

Nov. 18, 1978 – Millie Steans Cunningham, a 73-year-old native of Evergreen, Ala., died in the infamous massacre and mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, South America. She was buried at First Zion Church Cemetery in Conecuh County on April 20, 1979. Cunningham was among the more than 900 people who died at Jonestown after Jim Jones led his Peoples Temple to a mass murder-suicide that claimed 918 lives in all, including 270 children. Congressman Leo Ryan was murdered by members of the Peoples Temple hours earlier. (Some sources say that Cunningham was born in Houston, Texas on Dec. 25, 1904 and that she lived in San Francisco before moving to Jonestown on July 24, 1977. She lived in Dorm 2 and worked as a cashier and cook. Some sources also list a grave for her in the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Calif.)

Nov. 18, 1984 - The television program “Inside the Closet,” teleplay by Alabama author Robert McDowell, was broadcast as part of the “Tales from the Darkside” series.

Nov. 18, 1985 - Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins broke his leg after being hit by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants. The injury ended Theismann's 12-year NFL career.

Nov. 18, 1996 - Chris Boniol of the Dallas Cowboys tied an NFL record when he kicked seven field goals against the Green Bay Packers.

Nov. 18, 1997 - The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays participated in their initial expansion draft.

Nov. 18, 1998 – Alice McDermott won the National Book Award for her novel, “Charming Billy.”

Nov. 18, 2002 – During the Iraq disarmament crisis, United Nations weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix arrived in Iraq.

Nov. 18, 2005 – Marlon Anderson of Montgomery, Ala. signed a two-year contract with the Washington Nationals.

Nov. 18, 2005 – Former Sparta Academy coach and headmaster Richard Brown was to be inducted into the Florida Community College Athletics Association Hall of Fame. Brown’s 1972 men’s team at North Florida Community College set a national all-time scoring record, averaging 115.3 points per game. During his 38 years in the Florida coaching ranks, he had 35 winning seasons and his players had a 96 percent graduation rate.

Nov. 18, 2007 - The 24th annual Peterman Station Arts & Crafts Festival was scheduled to be held on this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Peterman. The event was sponsored by the Peterman Historical Society.

Nov. 18, 2011 – The “Mystery Booms” first widely reported in Monroe and Conecuh counties in Southwest Alabama.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., Nov. 18, 2017

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  0.70 inches.

Fall to Date Rainfall: 8.20 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 80.80 inches.

Notes: Today is the 322nd day of 2017 and the 58th day of Fall. There are 43 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Friday, November 17, 2017

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 1,552 miles down and 227 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging six more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged three miles on Sunday and three more miles on Wednesday. So far, I’ve logged 1,552 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 227 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 87.2 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo Baggins’ overall journey to destroy the One Ring at Mount Doom in Mordor, I’m on the 13th day of the trip past Rauros Falls, which is March 8 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off my last update at Mile 1546, which was six miles from where Frodo, Samwise Gamgee and Gollum crossed a fast stream, ate and rested briefly. One mile later, at Mile 1547, the group takes another brief rest.


Four miles later, at Mile 1551, they cross a tumbling stream. I’ve gone one mile beyond this point, to Mile 1552, and the next significant milestone, Mile 1555, comes three miles later as they sleep beneath an ancient tree at nightfall. They resume their travels from this point at first light.


For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1, 2015. Using a book called “The Atlas of Middle-Earth” by Karen Wynn Fonstad, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” created this challenge by mapping out Frodo’s fictional trek to Mordor, calculating the total distance at 1,779 miles. They also used the original "Lord of the Rings" text to outline the journey, so you can follow their route by keeping up with your total mileage.


The folks who worked out the nuts and bolts of this virtual journey have divided it into four parts. It’s 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 462 miles from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien, 389 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and 470 miles from Rauros to Mount Doom. (Those locations should sound very familiar to “Lord of the Rings” fans.) The hobbits averaged 18 miles a day, but if you walk (or jog, as I sometimes do) five miles a day, it’s possible to cover 1,779 miles in a year.


If you’re interested in learning more about the “Walk to Mordor Challenge,” I suggest you check out two Web sites, and Both of these sites provide a ton of details about the challenge, including how to get started.


In the end, check back next Friday for another update and to see how much closer I am to Mordor. I hope to knock out at least 10 more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Today in History for Nov. 17, 2017

Historical marker at 'Fort Claiborne'
Nov. 17, 1558 – The Elizabethan era began with the ascension of 25-year-old Queen Elizabeth I to the English throne.

Nov. 17, 1603 – English explorer, writer and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh went on trial for treason.

Nov. 17, 1685 – Canadian commander and explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

Nov. 17, 1777 - Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.

Nov. 17, 1790 - Mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius was born in Schulpforta, Electorate of Saxony. He's remembered today for creating the curious topological surface called the Möbius strip.

Nov. 17, 1800 – The United States Congress met in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. for the first time.

Nov. 17, 1808 – Benjamin Faneuil Porter was born on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, S.C. to Benjamin Richardson Porter and Eliza Seabrook Fickling Porter. He would go on to become a doctor and lawyer, live in Claiborne, Ala. for about six years, before becoming a state legislator, judge and Mayor of Greenville, Ala.

Nov. 17, 1813 – Arriving at the Alabama River, General Ferdinand Claiborne’s army camped for the night upon the western bank and the following day came across the river on rafts. There, according to Pickett’s History of Alabama, “Claiborne constructed a stockade, 200 square feet, defended by three block houses and half moon battery, which commanded the river.”

Nov. 17, 1820 – Captain Nathaniel Palmer became the first American to see Antarctica. (The Palmer Peninsula was later named after him.)

Nov. 17, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Cypress Bridge, near Rumsey, McClean County in Kentucky.

Nov. 17, 1862 - The USS San Jacinto laid in wait off the Caribbean island of Martinique for the Confederate steamer, CSS Alabama, but failed to prevent her from leaving port.

Nov. 17, 1862 – During the Civil War, Federal operations began in the vicinity of Cassville and Keetsville in Missouri; and a 12-day Federal expedition from Sparta, Tenn. into Kentucky began. A skirmish was also fought at Carrsville and Falmouth in Virginia.

Nov. 17, 1862 - At this stage in the Civil War, the Army of the Potomac was not divided up into Corps, but instead had just two parts, the Left and Right Grand Divisions. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who had been in command of the army for barely a week, was still getting used to the reins of command at this level, but he knew one thing for sure: he had to do some fighting. He had therefore directed the men to head in the general direction of Fredericksburg, Va. The Right Grand Division, under command of General Edwin Vose Sumner, arrived on this day on the heights of Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River from the destination. It did not take very much cavalry scouting to follow a force of this size, and the Confederates were well aware of their movements.

Nov. 17, 1863 – During the Civil War, the Siege of Knoxville began as Confederate General James Longstreet placed the city of Knoxville, Tenn. under siege. After two weeks and one failed attack, he abandoned the siege and rejoined General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Longstreet could not cut off Union supplies, and Confederate reinforcements arrived on Nov. 28.

Nov. 17, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought near Willow Creek on the Trinity River in California with Indians; and at Bay St. Louis, Miss. A nine-day Federal operation also began in the vicinity of Houston, Mo.; and the massive Federal bombardment of Fort Sumter, S.C. continued.

Nov. 17, 1863 - The Confederate battery at Arkansas Pass, Texas was captured by Major General Nathaniel P. Bank’s force. There had been several attempts to tackle the Western jewel of the Confederate States of America, Texas, but none had succeeded very well or lasted very long. Another such strike was made on this day, and this time considerably greater force was being employed. The USS Monongahela was the escort gunboat for a fleet of troop transporters. They, in turn, were carrying more than a thousand soldiers as they traveled toward Arkansas Pass, Texas. The immediate target was the Confederate garrison guarding this pass from Mustang Island. After a preliminary softening-up barrage from the ships’ guns, an amphibious landing was made. The defenders, trapped, had no solution but surrender, and the first day went well for the Union.

Nov. 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred near Maysville and New Market in Alabama.

Nov. 17, 1864 – During the Civil War, an expedition from Little Rock to Fagan’s Ford on the Saline River in Arkansas began; and a three-day Federal expedition from Brashear City to Bayou Portage, La., with a skirmish at Lake Fausse Pointe, La., began. Skirmishes were also fought at Towaliga Bridge, Ga. and at Flat Creek, Tenn.

Nov. 17, 1864 - When William Tecumseh Sherman was settling the structure of his army, he had divided it into left and right wings. Each wing was made up of two corps each, under commanders Sherman considered solid and capable of maneuvering units of that size. They were all pulling away from the ruins of Atlanta on this day, but they were going by four different roads. The intent was to confuse any Southern spies as to their true intention and destination. As a deception, it worked perfectly; observers, each seeing only one corps on the move, reported that Sherman was just doing some local maneuvering. Even if the reports had been correlated at a higher level, there was not much the Confederacy could have done about the March to the Sea, as they had no substantial forces close enough to act.

Nov. 17, 1864 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis strongly objected to any notion of several Georgia State Senators wishing to discuss a separate peace treaty with the Federal Government.

Nov. 17, 1871 – The National Rifle Association was granted a charter by the state of New York.

Nov. 17, 1875 - The American Theosophical Society was formed.

Nov. 17, 1895 – On this Sunday, traveling shoe salesman J.H. Douglas of Nashville hired a team and driver from a Mr. Irwin in order to travel to Repton, Ala. Night overtook them about a mile from Repton and in a dark place in the road, two men appeared, stepped “up deliberately to the buggy, thrust a pistol in” Douglas’ face and commanded him to halt. Instead, Douglas “put whip to the horses and left the would-be robbers standing in the road.”

Nov. 17, 1913 - The steamship Louise became the first ship to travel through the Panama Canal.

Nov. 17, 1914 - The German 15th Corps made a final, desperate attempt to advance against Allied positions in the Ypres Salient, the much-contested region in Flanders, Belgium.

Nov. 17, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that L.D. King, the “lumber King,” had set a “remarkable record” when he hauled 91 bushels of corn all in one wagon while harvesting his corn crop a few days before. Several yokes of steers were required to move the “immense load.”

Nov. 17, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that W.M. Newton, J.D. Deming, Eugene Salter, C.P. Deming Jr. and A. Cunningham, all of Evergreen, Ala., attended the Shrine “ceremonial” in Montgomery the week before.

Nov. 17, 1916 – Historian and novelist Shelby Foote was born in Greenville, Miss.

Nov. 17, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Frank Hill, 22, of Roy, Ala. (present-day Frisco City) “died from disease.” Born on April 17, 1896, he was buried in the Pine Flat Cemetery at Saucer in Butler County, Ala.

Nov. 17, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Charles “Charlie” Burner Covin, 22, of Georgiana, Ala. “died from disease.” Born on Dec. 3, 1895 in Monroe County, he was buried in the Bethlehem Cemetery in Monroe County, Ala.

Nov. 17, 1929 – Major League Baseball first baseman Norbert “Norm” Henry Zauchin was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. He started his professional career in 1950 with the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he set a Rickwood Field field record with 35 home runs. He would go on to play for the Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators. He passed away in Birmingham, Ala. at the age of 69 on Jan. 31, 1999.

Nov. 17, 1935 - The Ralph Kennedy residence in Monroeville, Ala. was badly damaged by fire on this Sunday morning. The alarm, sounded about 10 a.m., brought the volunteer fire department and others to assist fighting the blaze, and eventually the flames were put under control, but not until serious damage had been done, including the destruction of the roof and the second story of the house. The fire was thought to have caught from a defective chimney in the main part of the house.

Nov. 17, 1939 – Nine Czech students were executed as a response to anti-Nazi demonstrations prompted by the death of Jan Opletal.

Nov. 17, 1940 - The Green Bay Packers became the first NFL team to travel by plane.

Nov. 17, 1944 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver was born in Fresno, Calif. He would go on to play for the New York Mets, the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Nov. 17, 1955 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the pump on one of the City of Evergreen, Alabama’s two water wells was out of order, and all of the city’s water customers were urged to conserve water while repairs were being made. G.L. Wilkinson was Evergreen’s City Clerk.

Nov. 17, 1961 – The Lyeffion Quarterback Club held what was believed to have been the first ever Lyeffion High School football banquet, held on this Friday night at The Grill. QB Club President Frank Chavers was the banquet’s MC, and guest speakers included Guy S. Kelly, county superintendent of education and former Lyeffion principal; Bob Bozeman, editor of The Courant; and Lyeffion football coach Shirley Frazier. Frazier present all lettermen and cheerleaders with a certificate during the banquet.

Nov. 17, 1965 - During part of what would become known as the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, a battalion from the 1st Cavalry Division is ambushed by the 8th Battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment.

Nov. 17, 1967 – During the Vietnam War, acting on optimistic reports that he had been given on Nov. 13, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson told the nation that, while much remained to be done, "We are inflicting greater losses than we're taking...We are making progress."

Nov. 17, 1968 - NBC cut away from the final minutes of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to begin a TV special, "Heidi," on schedule. The Raiders came from behind to beat the Jets, 43-32, and viewers in the eastern U.S. were denied the opportunity to watch its exciting finish, prompting changes to sports broadcasting in the U.S.

Nov. 17, 1970 – The Evergreen (Ala.) City Council approved a budget of $597,954.45, which was the largest budget up to that point in the city’s history, according to City Clerk Miller Sellers.

Nov. 17, 1970 – Douglas Engelbart received a patent for the first computer mouse.

Nov. 17, 1970 – During the Vietnam War, Lieutenant William Calley went on trial for the My Lai Massacre.

Nov. 17, 1973 – During the Watergate scandal, in Orlando, Florida, U.S. President Richard Nixon told 400 Associated Press managing editors "I am not a crook."

Nov. 17, 1976 – Actress Diane Neal was born in Alexandria, Va.

Nov. 17, 1977 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the bypass (now called Wild Avenue) from State Highway 83 to U.S. Highway 31 in Evergreen, Ala. was nearing completion.

Nov. 17, 1977 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Evergreen Mayor O.B. “Bert” Tuggle had signed a proclamation making Sat., Nov. 19, “Clint Jackson Day” in the City of Evergreen, Ala. Attending the signing ceremony were NAACP members Mr. and Mrs. James A. Powell, Mr. and Mrs. O.F. Frazier, Richard Rabb, Edith Gray, Larry Fluker and Jerome Gray.

Nov. 17, 1979 - Maverick catastrophist Immanuel Velikovsky passed away at the age of 84 in Princeton, New Jersey.

Nov. 17, 1982 - The National Football League reduced its 16-game season to nine as a result of a 57-day players' strike.

Nov. 17, 1982 - The Empire State Building was added to the National Register of Historical Places.

Nov. 17, 1983 – Sparta Academy’s varsity girls basketball team beat Jackson Academy, 33-28, in Jackson, Ala. Jan Coker led Sparta with 12 points. Sparta’s varsity boys lost, 75-66. Al Etheridge led Sparta with 22 points.

Nov. 17, 1983 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Earl Windham reported a low temperature of 29 degrees.

Nov. 17, 1989 - Hillcrest High School’s girls basketball team was scheduled to open its season at 6:30 p.m. on this Friday night against Clarke County High School in Grove Hill. The members of Hillcrest’s team included Laura Delaney, Tracey Dailey, LaRhonda Booker, Tracey Elliott, Nikki Likely, Katrina Bradley, Tammy Taylor, Sabrina Johnson, Kim January, Beronica Toliver, Rena White, Katina Cunningham, Shirley Bryant and Sandra Rogers. Ronnie Williams was head coach.

Nov. 17, 1991 - Mike Utley of the Detroit Lions suffered a spinal injury in a game against Los Angeles that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Nov. 17, 1993 - Alabama author Sara W. Glendinning died in Marietta, Ga.

Nov. 17, 1993 - Annie Proulx won the National Book Award for her novel “The Shipping News,” which also won the Pulitzer Prize.

Nov. 17, 1995 – Hillcrest-Evergreen, the 5A Area 4 champions, suffered a 13-6 loss to Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa in the second round of the state playoffs at Brooks Memorial Stadium in Evergreen. Dennis Anderson was Hillcrest-Evergreen’s head coach and the Jags finished the season with a 6-6 record.

Nov. 17, 2003 - Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants became the first Major League Baseball player to receive six National League MVP awards.

Nov. 17, 2003 - Actor and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as the 38th governor of California at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger, who became a major Hollywood star in the 1980s with such action movies as “Conan the Barbarian” and “The Terminator,” defeated Governor Gray Davis in a special recall election on Oct. 7, 2003. English, and went on to win a dozen more world bodybuilding titles. In 1977, he gained After winning the election and serving out the remainder of former governor Gray Davis’s term, “The Governator,” as he was dubbed, was re-elected in November 2006 to serve a full term in office.

Nov. 17, 2010 – Birmingham, Alabama’s Sloss Furnaces were featured on an episode of “Ghost Hunters.”

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., Nov. 17, 2017

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  0.70 inches.

Fall to Date Rainfall: 8.20 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 80.80 inches.

Notes: Today is the 321st day of 2017 and the 57th day of Fall. There are 44 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834N Lon 87.30131W. Elevation 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Story tells of 12-foot-tall 'Goliath' skeleton unearthed in Etowah County, Alabama in April 1886

Grave of James Keener “Keeney” Henry in Etowah County, Ala.
Many in the reading audience will know longtime Conecuh County resident Lawrence Gladwell, who reads The Courant every week and has gotten a big kick out of all the recent Bigfoot news.

Lawrence dropped by our office one day last week and brought me a recent copy of Shorelines magazine, which is published by Alabama Power Co. for its customers with properties along major Alabama lakes like Lake Jordan, Logan Martin, Smith Lake and others. Between the covers of this magazine, Lawrence found a story that he thinks will interest many of our readers.

This article, titled “Tall tales of the Coosa” by Erin Harney, describes large serpents, “sea monsters” and man-sized fish once believed to inhabit the Coosa River, but the thing that caught Lawrence’s eye – and mine – was the portion of the article that described “Alabama Goliaths.” The article heavily quoted Danny Crownover, who is the president and executive director of the Etowah Historical Society and Heritage Museum in Gadsden.

Biblical 'Goliath' brandishes his giant spear.
According to Crownover, Gadsden, which is the county seat of Etowah County in Northeast Alabama, was hit by heavy rains in the spring of 1886, and these downpours caused the Coosa River to flood. According to the article, Gadsden area residents saw the river rise six feet above the previous highwater flood mark.

As you would imagine, this flood caused widespread damage and stripped many farms of their valuable crop-sustaining topsoil. On April 12, 1886, once the flood had subsided, a farmer named James Henry returned to his farm at Whorton Bend, about five miles from Gadsden, and made an astonishing discovery – an ancient Indian burial ground that had been uncovered by the flood.

The story goes that Henry found all sorts of artifacts, including earthenware pots, knives, pipes and tomahawks. At this point, the story takes a turn for the weird as Henry supposedly went on to find the skeletal remains of “enormous giants,” according to Harney’s article. Henry even was said to have found a skull so large that he could put his entire head inside of it, Crownover said.

The article went on to say that, supposedly, Henry dug up and pieced together an entire giant skeleton, which was over 12 feet tall, prompting Henry to declare that the Biblical warrior Goliath must have come from Alabama. Henry’s discovery caused a big stir among his neighbors and many of them came by to see the giant skeleton and to look at the artifacts Henry found. Unfortunately, no one currently knows what became of Henry’s giant skeleton and the other artifacts unearthed by the flood of 1886.

After reading the article Lawrence brought by the office, I did a little research of my own and have come to believe that the James Henry mentioned in the article is probably James Keener “Keeney” Henry, who was born in Alabama on Jan. 1, 1848, which would have made him 38 years old at the time of the 1886 flood. Henry lived to the ripe old age of 83 before passing away on Feb. 2, 1931 in Etowah County. He is buried in the Red Hill Cemetery in the Etowah County community of Ivalee, which is less than 10 miles from downtown Gadsden.

In the end, I can’t say for sure if giants once roamed the hills and hollows of old Alabama, but I can say that James Henry was a real person and apparently lived his entire life in and around Etowah County’s Coosa River. If anyone out there in the reading audience knows more details about this story (or any other tales of Alabama giants), please let me hear from you.