Friday, July 31, 2015

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 281 miles down and 1,518 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging nine more miles since my last update. I walked/jogged three miles on Saturday, three more on Tuesday and three more miles today (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 281 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,518 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 15.6 percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m on the seventeenth day of his trip, which is Oct. 9 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off on my last update at Mile 272, which was seven miles from the end of Day 16, where the group camps before setting out on Day 17. I reached the end of Day 16 earlier today, and logged two more miles as part of the Day 17 leg of the trip.


Frodo’s group covers 19 miles in all on Day 17, and the next significant milestone comes at the end of Day 17, when the group camps before following a wide, shallow curving valley.


For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1. 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 1,799 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 1,799 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 July 31, 2015

Paul Du Chaillu
July 31, 1498 – On his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.

July 31, 1715 – Seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of 12 ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, 11 of them sink in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, treasure is salvaged from these wrecks.

July 31, 1775 - In Boston Harbor, at Nantasket Point (Little Brewster Island) Patriots stopped completion of repairs on a lighthouse and killed or captured 32 Redcoats. Minutemen had raided the island 10 days before and burned the lighthouse.

July 31, 1777 – French aristocrat Marie-Joseph Paul Roch Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, then age 19, was commissioned a major general in the Continental Army by the U.S. Second Continental Congress – without pay. The resolution passed by Congress asked that the services of Gilbert du Motier "be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States." He would visit Claiborne in Monroe County on April 6, 1825.

July 31, 1792 - The cornerstone of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Pa. was laid. It was the first building to be used only as a U.S. government building.

July 31, 1806 – The Rev. Pitts Milner, founder of Georgiana, Ala., was born in Wilkes County, Ga.

July 31, 1816 - Union General George H. Thomas, who deserves a share of the credit for the Union success in the west, was born in Southhampton County, Va.

July 31, 1831 – Monroe County Commissioners purchased the 80-acre plot that surrounds the three-acre public square in present-day Monroeville, Ala., the site of the old 1903 courthouse, now the Monroe County Heritage Museum, and the present courthouse built in 1963.

July 31, 1835 – French-American anthropologist and explorer Paul Du Chaillu in either Paris or New Orleans, La. He became famous in the 1860s as the first modern European outsider to confirm the existence of gorillas, and later the Pygmy people of central Africa. He later researched the prehistory of Scandinavia.

July 31, 1837 – Mary Harris Jones or “Mother Jones” was born in Cork, Ireland.

July 31, 1861 - Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers.

July 31, 1861 - The Missouri State Convention voted 56 to 25 to elect a new pro-Union governor. Hamilton R. Gamble, pro-Union was elected to replace Claiborne Jackson, pro-Confederate.

July 31, 1861 - The Army of the State of Tennessee was transferred to the Confederate States of America.

July 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred near Watkins’ Plantation in Northern Alabama.

July 31, 1875 - Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, died of a stroke at the age of 66 while visiting his daughter in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

July 31, 1879 – Around 10 p.m., after the “Emma” delivered a load of freight on the wharf at the Lower Warehouse at Claiborne, Ala., J.B. Crow and a “couple of young men” caught a “gang of thieves” in the act of stealing flour and coffee, something they’d apparently been doing for several years. The thieves included Allen Howard, Ran Taswell, Dick James, Adam Taswell, Lang Agee, Singleton James and Jesse McGrew. In the ensuing confrontation, Ran Taswell was shot in the leg and died from his wounds about four hours later. Agee was also shot, but managed to escape as did Dick James, Adam Taswell and Singleton James. McGrew and Howard were arrested and placed in jail. “Thus has one of the boldest and most shameless band of thieves been bursted up that has been organized in this section in many years.”

July 31, 1908 – Fletcher Stallworth and Sam Booker were killed and two others were critically injured in a boiler explosion at W.D. Johnson’s saw mill near Skinnerton, Ala.

July 31, 1912 – W.B. Coker of the China community exhibited the first open boll of cotton of the season in Conecuh County.

July 31, 1914 – W.A. Baggett of Belleville, Ala. produced the first bale of cotton for 1914 and marketed it at Repton.

July 31, 1916 – Baseball and football great William “Billy” Clyde Hitchcock was born in Inverness in Bullock County, Ala. He was an infielder, coach, manager and scout in Major League Baseball. In minor league baseball, he served as president of the Double-A Southern League from 1971–80. During his career, he played for the Detroit Tigers, the Washington Senators, the St. Louis Browns, the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Athletics, and he managed the Tigers, the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves.

July 31, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. William F. Atchinson of Thomasville, Ala. was killed in action.

July 31, 1919 – Writer and poet Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy.

July 31, 1930 - The radio mystery program “The Shadow” aired for the first time.

July 31, 1932 - The NSDAP (Nazi Party) won more than 38 percent of the vote in German elections.

July 31, 1938 – Archaeologists discovered engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius the Great in Persepolis.

July 31, 1938 – The Dothan Browns baseball team beat the Evergreen Greenies, 10-0, in Dothan, Ala. Also that day, Evergreen’s amateur baseball team beat the Atmore prison team, 7-6, behind the pitching of Bill Seales and Wendell Hart.

July 31, 1952 – Jerry Donovan, a graduate of Evergreen High School and 1950 graduate of the University of Alabama, left Mobile, Ala. by air for her new assignment as an elementary teacher at an Air Force base in the Philippine Islands.

July 31, 1953 - A television version of Alabama author Ambrose Bierce's story "Horseman in the Sky" was broadcast as part of the “Your Favorite Story” series.

July 31, 1954 – The first bale of cotton from the 1954 crop in Conecuh County, Ala. was officially ginned.

July 31, 1954 - An official announcement was made by researchers that Los Angeles smog was caused by the chemical reaction of sunlight on auto and industrial emissions.

July 31, 1954 – The first ascent of K2 was achieved by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.

July 31, 1955 – In the Conecuh County, Ala. Amateur Baseball League, McKenzie was scheduled to play at Lyeffion; Paul was scheduled to play at Old Texas; and Chapman was scheduled to play at Garland.

July 31, 1961 – At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the first All-Star Game tie in Major League Baseball history occurred when the game was stopped in the ninth inning because of rain.

July 31, 1963 - A movie version of Alabama author Lillian Hellman's play “Toys in the Attic, was released.

July 31, 1964 - The first close-up photographs of the moon were sent back to Earth by Ranger 7.

July 31, 1965 – “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling was born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.

July 31, 1967 – At 9:05 p.m., Alabama Gov. Lurleen B. Wallace signed Act No. 106 into law, which extended the city limits of Evergreen, increasing the city’s size from 6.25 square miles to 16 square miles. The Act began as House Bill 227 and was introduced by State Representative William D. “Billy” Melton. The bill passed the House on June 20 and passed the Senate on July 11. Secretary of State Mabel Amos received the bill and enrolled it at 11:27 a.m. on Aug. 1.

July 31, 1975 – The Drish House on 17th Street in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. (13 Alabama Ghosts)

July 31, 1981 - The seven-week baseball players’ strike came to an end when the players and owners agreed on the issue of free agent compensation.

July 31, 1990 - Nolan Ryan won the 300th game of his career, throwing 7-2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts to lead his Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

July 31, 1998 – Local weather reporter Harry Ellis reported a high temperature of 100 degrees in Evergreen, Ala.

July 31, 2001 - Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings collapsed during practice. The 27-year-old died the next day of multiple organ failure due to heatstroke.

July 31, 2014 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Betty Ellis reported that total rainfall for the month of July 2014 was 1.39 inches.

July 31, 2014 – During a special called meeting, the Castleberry, Ala. Town Council voted to revive the town’s dormant municipal court, which hadn’t heard a case in over a decade. Town officials began mailing out certified letters about the change to county and state officials the following days.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., July 31, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.35 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.40 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 8.00 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 32.05 inches

Notes: Today is the 212th day of 2015 and the 41st day of Summer. There are 153 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is the 'Mocca-conda' the Alabama River's answer to the Loch Nest Monster?

The prehistoric Titanoboa snake.
More than a few people during the past week have asked me about the “Mocca-conda” (pronounced like “Mock-A-Con-Da”) story, so in this space this week, I’m going to put the story down on paper for those of you who haven’t heard it.

Several weeks ago, one of our readers from Monroe County asked me why I hadn’t written about the “Mocca-conda” sightings on the Alabama River. I had no idea what he was talking about, and he seemed to be somewhat surprised that I hadn’t heard about it.

Supposedly, according to him (he asked me not to reveal his name because he’s afraid people will make fun of him), two fishermen, sometime within the past year, were fishing from a boat at night on the Alabama River somewhere between the sandbar at Bailey’s Creek and the Claiborne Lock & Dam. They were anchored 30 or 40 yards off the east bank when they heard an unusual noise.

At first, they thought it was maybe a large alligator entering the water or a tree trunk or branch that had splashed into the water. One of the fishermen took out a spotlight and shined it toward the source of the noise. Needless to say, they didn’t expect to see what they saw next.

According to the story, the beam of the spotlight fell on an enormous snake that was stretched out along the bank. According to them, it “looked like a water moccasin but was big like an anaconda,” hence the name “Mocca-conda.”

Supposedly, the fisherman holding the spotlight was so shocked and horrified by what he saw that he accidentally dropped his spotlight into the river. As the light spiraled down into the murky waters below, the two fishermen were plunged into darkness with this giant snake about 100 feet away. The story goes that these two fishermen wasted no time in getting out of the area, and one can only wonder if they even bothered to pull up the anchor before they left.

During the past several weeks, I’ve discussed the “Mocca-conda” with folks from all walks of life, and they’ve offered up a number of theories. Some don’t believe the tale at all while others say it was probably a misidentified catfish or a piece of driftwood.

One man said that it’s possible that it’s a non-indigenous snake like a Burmese Python that has gotten this far north. He said there are thousands of them in South Florida, they grow to 16 feet or longer and can eat a deer or alligator whole. Others think the two fishermen may have been hitting the moonshine too hard.

Whatever the case, large snakes in Alabama are not unheard of. In fact, reports of a 10 to 15-foot long python living near the Chattahoochee River in East Alabama surfaced in April. That snake was reported by Randy Sanders of Abbeville, who said that the snake had a “head as large as a five-gallon bucket.”

Of course, there’s always the outside chance that the “Mocca-conda” is a Loch Ness Monster-like prehistoric throwback like the Titanoboa snake. This snake could grow up to 43 feet long and was possibly the largest non-marine creature living on earth at one time. Thankfully, this snake has supposedly been extinct for 58 to 60 million years.

'The Pine Tar Game' details one of the most sticky situations in baseball history

Those of you in the reading audience who enjoy a good, sports-related book will likely enjoy a new book by Filip Bondy called “The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy.”

Released on Tuesday of last week by Scribner, this book details the events leading up to and the fallout resulting from one of the most famous incidents in baseball history, 1983’s George Brett-Pine Tar Incident.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this incident, here’s the 10-cent version. During the 1983 season, Kansas City third baseman George Brett was arguably the most feared batter of his generation, and the Royals and Yankees were heated American League rivals. The two teams met at Yankee Stadium on July 24, 1984 and in the top of the ninth inning, with his team behind, 4-3, and with U.L. Washington on first, Brett hit a towering home run off of future Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage.

When Washington and Brett crossed home plate, the Royals won, 5-4, right? Normally, that would be the case, but not in this instance. As soon as Brett crossed home, Yankees manager Billy Martin (a controversial and unusual character in his own right) came onto the playing field and asked home plate umpire Tim McClelland to examine Brett’s bat. While this is going on, Brett’s already taken a seat in the dugout.

After a brief discussion with Martin and then a conference amongst the umpires, baseball history was made. McClelland raised a clinched fist and called Brett out, giving the Yankees what appeared to be a 4-3 win. What followed was nothing short of epic when Brett charged out of the dugout like a giant runaway bull and had to be restrained by his teammates and umpire Joe Brinkman, who put Brett in a headlock.

(If you want to get the full effect of all this, I suggest you search for “Pine Tar Incident” on YouTube and watch the whole thing. It’s pretty wild.)

As it turns out, Martin had told McClelland that Brett’s bat was in violation of an obscure rule that said that pine tar could not be applied more than 18 inches from the handle end of the bat. Big League players use pine tar to improve their grip on the bat, and Brett was notorious for putting a lot of it on his bat, including well above the 18-inch line.

In “The Pine Tar Game,” Bondy goes into great detail about this game, the heated Royals-Yankees rivalry, how the “Pine Tar Rule” was interpreted and applied, how McClelland’s ruling was appealed and the resulting lawsuits. In the end, American League officials ruled that McClelland had misapplied the “Pine Tar Rule.” He should have had the bat removed from the game and shouldn’t have called Brett out.

League officials ordered the Yankees and Royals to finish the game on Aug. 18 and the game resumed from the point of Brett’s home run. When the teams took the field nearly a month after the Pine Tar Incident, they looked a lot different, in fact, due to trades and injuries, some of the original players weren’t even on the teams any more. Others who were ejected due to the melee following the “Pine Tar Incident” also weren’t on the field. Long story short, the Royals ended up winning, 5-4, but believe me when I say that there’s a lot more to the story, and you can read all about it in Bondy’s great new book.

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for July 30, 2015

Clint Jackson
JULY 29, 1976

From “The Colyum” by Bob Bozeman: I am not all that much of an avid ‘TV-watcher,’ but I have almost gotten bug-eyed looking at the tube since the Olympics began. I have watched faithfully, days, when time permitted, and nights. I watched because I wanted a chance to see our own Clint Jackson on international TV. I never did.
“I learned Sunday morning that Clint’s fight was broadcast about 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Had I known it was going to be telecast, I could have been home watching it. Not knowing, I worked at the office until about 1:30 and missed it.
“Sunday afternoon, as usual, I played golf. Got home and Maurice informed me that Clint had knocked out his opponent with one blow. Yes, missed that too. There has been no announced schedule of the boxing matches, so, how do you know when you are supposed to be in front of the tube? Lots of other folks have had the same problem, I’m sure, because quite a few have called me to ask if I knew when Clint would be on TV.
“Now, let me admit to start with that I’m no fan of Howard Cosell. I wish he and his big, long, ugly nose would never appear on TV again. That said, I do want to place the blame on old Cosell for not putting our Clint on prime TV time, Howard has been so wrapped up with his favorite ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, he just hasn’t found time for the USA’s best boxer, Clinton Jackson.
“Clint was supposed to have boxed yesterday afternoon and I hope that I got to see him. Regardless, I’m sure we are all proud of Clint, his boxing prowess and his behavior, and his insisting that the news people say that he is from Evergreen, Alabama, rather than from Tennessee.
“Knock ‘em all out, Clint.”

“Sparta football team meeting Sunday 5 p.m.: Head Coach Mike Bledsoe announces today that there will be a meeting of the Sparta Academy football team this Sunday afternoon at five o’clock in the school gymnatorium. All boys who plan to participate should be present at this meeting.”

JULY 27, 1961

“The pennant race in the Evergreen Senior League has become a three-way affair. The first-place Indians lead both the Braves and defending champion Tigers, tied for second place, by only 1/2 game. The second place time will be broken Thursday night when the Braves tangle with the Tigers.”

“Indians vs. Tigers: The Indians seized a firm, 1-1/2 game lead on the first place in the Evergreen Senior League Saturday night by downing the Tigers, 6-2, in extra innings. The loss dropped the Tigers into a second place tie with the Braves.
“Jimmy Weaver went all the way for the decision. Willie Mack Pate had a no-hitter going until the fifth inning, but suffered the loss. Weaver recorded 12 strikeouts and Pate 6.
“The Tigers scored two runs in the third on an error, a walk and singles by Donnie Bolton and Grady Ralls.
“The Indians tied it in the fifth and then cut loose for four runs in the top of the sixth, a single from Stan Coker being the key blow of the inning.
“The game lasted so long that the second game of the night, scheduled between the Braves and the Pirates had to be postponed.”

“Tigers v. Pirates: The Tigers moved within 1/2 game of first place Monday night by clouting the Pirates, 9-2.
“Sid Lambert threw a three-hit, seven strike out game at the Buccos for the winners. Scott Cook and Steve Baggett were the Pirate pitchers.
“The Tigers scoffed in every inning with three-run outbursts in the first and the fourth. The Pirates scored both of their runs in the initial frame and got only two men on base thereafter.”

“Tigers vs. Braves: The Braves downed the Tigers, 5-4, Friday night and moved within 1/2 game of second place in doing so.
“Ronnie Jackson was the mound victor for the Braves. Mike Fields took the loss although he was relieved with nobody out, two men on base, in the second by Sid Lambert.
“Grady Ralls’ triple to deep left center field was the highlight of the three-run Tiger first. This lead held up only until the second when the Braves with only one hit managed to score four runs. The losers scored a run in the fifth and threatened to score more but couldn’t manage it.”

“Braves vs. Indians: The Braves moved to within 1/2 game of the top spot in the Evergreen Senior League Monday night by subduing the league-leading Indians, 3-2.
“Ronnie Jackson held the Tribe in check while his opponent, Jimmy Weaver, had troubles with the Braves.
“The victors tallied twice in the first inning and once, thanks to walks, in the third. This proved to be too much for the Indians to overcome.”

JULY 25, 1946

“Aggies Win First Game In Amateur Baseball League: Evergreen’s entry in the Amateur Baseball League won its first game Thursday when they nosed out Flomaton, 4 to 3. A game scheduled with Uriah Sunday was rained out.
“Edsel Johnson received credit for the win against Flomaton after relieving Hart in the sixth inning with the Greenies trailing, 3 to 1. Ottis Johnson had two hits to pace the batters. An inside-the-park home run was hit by Edsel Johnson in the seventh with nobody on.
“The Greenies play their first home game Thursday when they meet Uriah at the high school stadium at three o’clock.
“Batteries: W. Hart, E. Johnson (6), and White, G. Hart (6), W. Hart (6). Adams, Hadden (8), Vickory (9) and Bell. W.P. – E. Johnson. L.P. Hadden.”

“Plans Are Complete For Evergreen Horse Show: Entries are arriving at a fast pace these days for Evergreen’s First Horse Show, which will be staged at the High School Athletic Stadium Thurs., Aug. 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. A hundred or more fine horses from all sections of Alabama and some from other states are expected to be entered in this event. Prizes aggregating some $551 will be awarded to the winners.
“Shows like the one to be held here are being held at various points all over the country these days. Locally, the event is sponsored by the Evergreen Rotary Club.
“All persons who desire to enter a horse in this show should see or write D.T. Stuart at once. Entries close July 31.”

JULY 30, 1931

“Baptist-Methodist Game Thurs., Aug. 6: What promised to be one of the most closely contested baseball games of the season between the Methodists and Baptists was abruptly ended Thursday afternoon at the close of the first inning by a downpour of rain, the score 0 to 0. Players and fans were much disappointed that the game could not be played to a finish. So keen was the disappointment, it has been determined that another game will be played on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 6, between the same teams.
“The game was sponsored by the Lions Club for the benefit of the Boy Scouts. The club has decided that those who bought tickets to the game last Thursday may see the next game without purchasing another ticket if they desire, by making their claim at the gate. Those who bought tickets to the game and who did not present same, may use them next Thursday if they desire.
“Virtually the same line-ups will be used in the game next Thursday as in last Thursday’s game.”

“Evergreen Juniors To Play Brewton Today: The Evergreen Junior baseball team will play a team from Brewton today at Gantt’s Field, the game to begin promptly at two o’clock. The junior team has some promising material to put against the Brewton juniors and the game will be a close one it is believed. Fans are asked to come early as the game will start at two o’clock sharp in order that it may be finished by 3:30, at which time the Evergreen colored team is scheduled to play the colored team from Selma.”

Today in History for July 30, 2015

USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
July 30, 762 AD – Baghdad was founded by caliph Al-Mansur.

July 30, 1502 – Christopher Columbus landed at Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras during his fourth voyage.

July 30, 1619 – In Jamestown, Virginia, the first representative assembly in the Americas, the House of Burgesses, convened for the first time.

July 30, 1729 - The city of Baltimore was founded in Maryland.

July 30, 1733 – The first Masonic Grand Lodge in the future United States was constituted in Massachusetts.

July 30, 1780 - Colonel Isaac Shelby and 600 Patriots took Fort Anderson, also known as Fort Thicketty, located 10 miles southeast of Cowpens, South Carolina, and held by a Loyalist garrison, without firing a shot. Shelby’s action followed the more famous Waxhaws massacre by two months and preceded the Battle of King’s Mountain by just over two months, causing it to receive comparatively little historical attention.

July 30, 1813 – Gen. Ferdinand L. Claiborne and his Mississippi militia reached Mount Vernon and learned that settlers had constructed Fort White, a small defensive fort a short distance northeast of Grove Hill in Clarke County, for defense against Red Stick raids.

July 30, 1818 – Novelist and poet Emily Bronte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England. She is best remembered for her 1847 novel, “Wuthering Heights.”

July 30, 1825 – Malden Island was discovered by captain George Byron, 7th Baron Byron.

July 30, 1838 - A rain of frogs fell in London, England.

July 30, 1859 – The first ascent of Grand Combin, one of the highest summits in the Alps, was achieved.

July 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, at the Battle of the Crater, the Union’s ingenious attempt to break the Confederate lines at Petersburg, Va., by blowing up a huge cache of gunpowder at the end of a 500-foot tunnel they had dug under the Rebel trenches, failed. Although the explosion created a gap in the Confederate defenses, a poorly planned Yankee attack wasted the effort and the result was an eight-month continuation of the siege. The crater that was created was 170 feet long, 60 to 80 feet wide and 30 feet deep.

July 30, 1890 – National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder and manager Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City, Mo. During his career, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers/Superbas/Robins, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Giants and the Boston Braves and he managed the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Boston Braves, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

July 30, 1898 - "Scientific America" carried the first magazine automobile ad. The ad was for the Winton Motor Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio and beckoned magazine readers to "dispense with a horse.”

July 30-31, 1914 – Monroeville’s baseball team played a three-game series against Pensacola. Monroeville won the first game, 8-1, but dropped the second game, 3-0. Monroeville won the third game, 8-7.

July 30, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Lessee L. Veasey of Andalusia, Ala. was killed in action.

July 30, 1928 - Alabama author Pauline Boyd was born in Chicago, Ill.

July 30, 1931 – The Evergreen Junior baseball team was scheduled to play Brewton on this day at Gantt Field at 2 p.m. in Evergreen, Ala. Later that day, at 3:30 p.m. at Gantt Field, the Evergreen “colored team” was scheduled to play a team from Selma.

July 30, 1932 – Walt Disney's “Flowers and Trees,” the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first Academy Award winning cartoon short, premiered.

July 30, 1935 – Congressman Frank Boykin was first elected to Congress to fill the unexpired term of Monroe Countian John McDuffie who had resigned from office. Boykin went on to represent the district in Washington for the next 53 years.

July 30, 1936 – The Southwestern Division of the Medical Association met at First Baptist Church on the Square in Monroeville, Ala.

July 30, 1936 – American blues guitarist Buddy Guy was born George Guy in Lettsworth, La.

July 30, 1938 – The Bermuda baseball team beat Lenox, 22-5.

July 30, 1939 – Will Riley, a native of Chestnut Corner, passed away at his home in Beatrice, Ala. at around 7 a.m. He was the L&N Railroad Co. station agent at McWilliams for 13 years and later the Sherrill Oil Co. distributor in Camden, serving Wilcox and surrounding counties.

July 30, 1943 - Adolf Hitler learned that Axis ally Italy was buying time before negotiating surrender terms with the Allies in light of Mussolini’s fall from power.

July 30, 1945 – During World War II, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-58 and sank within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped a week later at Hiroshima to Tinian Island in the South Pacific.

July 30, 1947 – At the L.D. King Mill in Conecuh County, Ala., a fire broke out near a boiler shortly after noon and did considerable damage to machinery and equipment before being brought under control by the fire department.

July 30, 1956 – A joint resolution of the U.S. Congress was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing “In God we trust” as the U.S. national motto.

July 30, 1959 – Mobile, Ala. native Willie McCovey made his Major League debut for the San Francisco Giants. In his Major League debut, McCovey went four-for-four against Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts, hitting two triples and two singles, en route to a .354 batting average that year, in which he won National League Rookie of the Year honors while playing in just 52 games.

July 30, 1965 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid. It went into effect the following year and was the country's first national health insurance program.

July 30, 1968 - Ron Hansen of the Washington Senators made the first unassisted triple play in the major leagues in 41 years.

July 30, 1971 - U.S. President Nixon gave the keynote speech at a banquet honoring seven new inductees into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

July 30, 1974 – During the “Watergate Scandal,” U.S. President Richard Nixon released subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the Supreme Court of the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee also voted to impeach President Nixon for blocking the Watergate investigation and for abuse of power.

July 30, 1975 – Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, at about 2:30 p.m. He was never seen or heard from again, and was declared legally dead on July 30, 1982. There have been rumors, since disproved, that he was murdered and his body was buried in the end zone at Giants Stadium.

July 30, 1990 – George Steinbrenner was forced by Commissioner Fay Vincent to resign as principal partner of New York Yankees for hiring Howie Spira to "get dirt" on Dave Winfield.

July 30, 1996 - A federal law enforcement source said that security guard Richard Jewell had become the focus of the investigation into the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park. Jewell was later cleared as a suspect.

July 30, 1999 – “The Blair Witch Project”, a low-budget, independent horror film that will become a massive hit, is released in U.S. theaters.

July 30, 2010 – The Harrison Cemetery near Kinston, Ala. along with Grancer Harrison's Grave was vandalized. Approximately 50 headstones were overturned.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., July 30, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.35 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.40 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 8.00 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 32.05 inches

Notes: Today is the 211th day of 2015 and the 40th day of Summer. There are 154 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wilcox County historical marker describes early Alabama postal roads

'Postal Routes of 1820' historical marker.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “POSTAL ROUTES OF 1820” marker in Wilcox County, Ala. This marker is located near Catherine at the intersection of State Highway 28 and State Highway 162.

This marker was erected on March 4, 1961 by Edward Waters and the Selma Chapter of the Daughters of American Colonists. There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are the same. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

----- 0 -----

“POSTAL ROUTES OF 1820 – Two miles north of this point was the intersection of two important postal routes of early Alabama, the Saint Stephens-Cahawba Road and the Tuskaloosa-Prairie Bluff Road.”

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I encountered this historical marker a number of months ago while on the way home from a field trip to Old Cahawba. As you’re traveling south on State Route 28, the marker is on the left hand side of the road. If you’re looking at a map of the intersection of State Highways 28 and 162, you’ll notice that this marker isn’t far from the west bank of the Alabama River.

As many of you will know, the cities and towns listed on this historical marker were important settlements during Alabama’s early history, which is why they were linked by postal roads. St. Stephens, which is located on the Tombigbee River in present day Washington County, Ala., served as Alabama’s territorial capital from 1817 to 1819. In 1819, the year that Alabama became a state, the capital was moved to Cahaba.

Cahaba was Alabama’s first real capital, that is, the first capital after Alabama officially became a state. Located near where the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers run together in present day Dallas County, Cahaba served as Alabama’s capital until January 1826. Today it’s a state historic site, and if you ever get the chance to visit, I encourage you to do so.

In 1826, due to flooding at Cahaba, Alabama officials moved the state capital to Tuscaloosa, another city that’s mentioned on the historical marker described above. Tuscaloosa, which sits on the banks of the Black Warrior River in present day Tuscaloosa County, is a thriving city of nearly 100,000 residents today. It served as the state capital from 1826 to 1846, when the capital was moved to its present site in Montgomery.

The other early settlement mentioned on the historical marker described above is Prairie Bluff, which is now nothing more than a ghost town. Located on the Alabama River, roughly halfway between Saint Stephens and Cahaba in present day Wilcox County, Prairie Bluff thrived as an early river town between 1819 and the start of the Civil War. However, with the rise of the railroads and the decline of commercial river traffic, Prairie Bluff slowly dwindled into decline.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below. 

Today in History for July 29, 2015

Marie Isabella 'Belle' Boyd.
July 29, 1776 - Silvestre de Escalante and Francisco Dominguez, two Spanish Franciscan priests, left Santa Fe for an epic journey through the Southwest. Escalante and Dominguez hoped to blaze a trail from New Mexico to Monterey, California, but their main goal was to visit with the native inhabitants and convert as many as possible to the Catholic faith.

July 29, 1778 - French Vice-Admiral Count d’Estaing established contact with the Continental Army, which was waiting for his help to retake Rhode Island.

July 29, 1786 - "The Pittsburgh Gazette" became the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies to be published. The paper's name was later changed to "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette."

July 29, 1793 – John Graves Simcoe decided to build a fort and settlement at Toronto, having sailed into the bay there.

July 29, 1805 – Writer Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Paris. He is best known for his 1835 book, “Democracy in America.”

July 29, 1833 - The Alabama State Bank opened a branch in Decatur. The building was constructed in fewer than nine months at a cost of around $10,000. It is noted for its Jeffersonian-style architecture featuring a rare five-column design and two sets of double front doors. The stone for the columns was mined nearby and each column weighs one hundred tons. Most of the construction was done by enslaved workers from the plantation of James Fennell, one of Decatur's founders. The Old State Bank Building was added the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is believed to be the oldest surviving bank building in the state. Today the building houses a museum with exhibits that include three teller cages built in 1833, currency issued from the bank, numerous maps and photographs, and other artifacts that tell the history of the Bank. The second floor of the building is the preserved residence of the bank's first manager.

July 29, 1861 – During the Civil War, skirmishes was fought at Edward’s Ferry, Md. and at Marlborough Point, Va.

July 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, Confederate spy Marie Isabella “Belle” Boyd ws arrested by Union troops and detained at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. It was the first of three arrests for this skilled spy who provided crucial information to the Confederates during the war.

July 29, 1862 - The Confederate cruiser, “Alabama,” (known in Britain as “Enrica”) left Liverpool, unarmed, ostensibly on a trial run. On July 31, she proceeded from the Irish Sea into the Atlantic for a rendezvous to receive her arms and ammunition before commencing her attacks on Federal commerce shipping.

July 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Law’s Landing and Old Deposit Ferry, Ala.

July 29, 1864 – Robert W. McCants, who served with the Monroe County Militia in Beats 8 and 9 and with Co. C of the 5th Alabama Regiment, enlisted in the Confederate army. He is buried in the Bells Landing Presbyterian Cemetery in Tinela.

July 29, 1865 – John DeLoach was commissioned for his third term as Monroe County, Alabama’s Circuit Court Clerk, and Samuel H. Dailey was commissioned as Monroe County’s Sheriff.

July 29, 1878 – Newspaper columnist Don Marquis was born in Walnut, Ill.

July 29, 1905 – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Mass.

July 29, 1907 – Sir Robert Baden-Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour on the south coast of England. The camp ran from Aug. 1 to Aug. 9, 1907, and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.

July 29, 1911 – Capt. T.M. Riley held the annual reunion of Co. C, 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment, CSA, at his home at Riley, Ala. Men attending the reunion included Capt. T.M. Riley, 71, of Riley; C.C. Nettles, 73, of Mobile; H.E. Courtney, 69, of Beatrice; Fern Metts, 78, of Monroeville; W.E. Wiggins, 68, of River Ridge; Jos. A. McCants, 68, of Tinela; Joe F. Watson, 71, of Brewton; W.G. Riley, 69, of Evergreen; R.W. McCants, 65, of Tinela; and George C. Nettles, 72, of Natchez. Others visitors included T.A. Nettles of Tunnel Springs; F.M. McKenzie of Riley; W.W. Riley of Beatrice; C.R. Riley of Drewry; J.E. Robinson of Repton; Hugh Courtney Jr. of Beatrice; Miller Stallworth of Pineville; and Robert L. Lyon of Riley.

July 29, 1914 – The three-day Conecuh County Masonic Conference began at Sepulga Lodge and was conducted by District Lecturer B.H. Whittington.

July 29, 1915 – The three-day Conecuh County Masonic Conference began at Dean Lodge, No. 112, at Brooklyn, Ala. J.F. Hattmer was in charge of the work, and G.W. Mixon was worshipful master of the county conference.

July 29, 1915 – The Monroe Journal reported that the McCorvey Bridge over Limestone Creek collapsed under its own weight sometime “within the past week.”

July 29, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. James F. Smith of Brewton, Ala. “died from wounds.”

July 29, 1921 – Adolf Hitler became leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Under Hitler, the Nazi Party grew into a mass movement and ruled Germany as a totalitarian state from 1933 to 1945.

July 29, 1938 – Troy beat the Evergreen Greenies, 6-1, in Troy, Ala.

July 29, 1939 – On this Saturday night, Frank Sheffield, the manager of the Alabama Water Service Co. in Monroeville, Ala., was severely cut in an altercation at “Lambert’s place,” north of Monroeville. On the way to seek medical treatment in Frisco City, Sheffield crashed into a car driven by a Jackson man, south of Monroeville. Sheffield was able to return to work two days later.

July 29, 1946 – James Conrad Marshall was born on this day in Monroeville, Ala. On Jan. 31, 1968, he would be killed while defending the American Embassy in Vietnam as a United States Marine Corps Corporal.

July 29, 1946 – Italian mountaineer and adventurer Alessandro Gogna was born in Genoa, Italy. He is a key figure of Italian mountaineering, both as an active climber and as one of the foremost writers about the mountain world.

July 29, 1947 - A gas leak explosion in a beauty parlor caused the death of 10 women in Harrisonburg, Va.

July 29, 1953 - American director and producer Ken Burns was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

July 29, 1958 – In response to the Soviet’s 1957 launch of Sputnik, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the civilian agency that coordinates America's space exploration. In 1960, NASA arrived in Alabama and established NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. Since then, the Center has been the heart of the U.S. space program providing the rockets that took the first man to the Moon, developing the first space station (Skylab), and playing integral roles in the programs that oversee the Hubble Space Telescope, the Shuttle, and the International Space Station.

July 29, 1972 – Army Col. Philip Doyle Sellers of Greenville, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.

July 29, 1976 – The Evergreen Courant reported that C.A. Walden of Owassa, Ala. had grown a “giant” rutabaga that weighed over 10 pounds and was 27 inches in diameter.

July 29, 1976 – The Evergreen Courant reported that an appeal of a five-year sentence given to the Rev. H.K. Matthews, who was a minister in Evergreen, Ala., on an extortion charge stemming from civil rights demonstrations in February 1975 at the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola, Fla. was denied by the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee.

July 29, 1976 – In New York City, David Berkowitz (a.k.a. the "Son of Sam") killed one person and seriously wounded another when he pulled a gun from a paper bag and fired five shots at Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti of the Bronx while they are sitting in a car, talking. Lauria died and Valenti was seriously wounded in the first in a series of shootings by the serial killer, who terrorized New York City over the course of the next year. Once dubbed the “.44 Caliber Killer,” the Son of Sam eventually got his name from letters he sent to both the police and famed newspaper writer Jimmy Breslin that said, “…I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt, prowling the streets looking for fair game.”

July 29, 1983 - Steve Garvey of the Los Angeles Dodgers set the National League consecutive game record at 1,207.

July 29, 1987 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand signed the agreement to build a tunnel under the English Channel (Eurotunnel).

July 29, 1989 - Against the Baltimore Orioles, Bo Jackson, batting against Jeff Ballard, turned to the home plate umpire and attempted to call time out as Ballard was delivering the ball. The time-out wasn't granted, but Jackson recovered to swing and hit the pitch over the left-field wall for a home run despite only really seeing the ball as it was on its way to the plate.

July 29, 1998 – Weather reporter Harry Ellis reported 1.35 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala.

July 29, 2003 - Bill Mueller of the Boston Red Sox became the first player in major league baseball history to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate in a game. He had a total of three home runs in the game and collected nine RBI. It was only the 12th time that a player hit two grand slams in a single game.

July 29, 2003 - Marcus Giles of the Atlanta Braves tied a major league record when he went 5-for-5 to give him hits in nine straight at-bats. The record was shared by 10 players at the time.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Wed., July 29, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.35 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.40 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 8.00 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 32.05 inches

Notes: Today is the 210th day of 2015 and the 39th day of Summer. There are 155 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for July 28, 2015

JULY 29, 1976

Local weather reporter Earl Windham reported .35 inches of rain in Evergreen on July 23. He reported highs of 100 degrees on July 21, July 22 and July 23. He reported a low of 62 on July 19.

“Owassa P.O. is closed: On July 16, the Owassa Post Office was closed. The office had been temporarily closed since June 30, when Postmaster Mrs. Lola M. Brown retired.”

“C.A. Walden, who recently moved to Owassa from Jacksonville, Fla., tried his hand at gardening for the first time this year. As you can see, he was quite successful. The giant rutabaga he is holding weighed over 10 pounds and was 27 inches in diameter.”

“Rev. Matthews’ plea is denied, to serve time: An appeal of a five-year sentence given to the Rev. H.K. Matthews on an extortion charge stemming from civil rights demonstrations in February 1975 at the county jail (in Pensacola, Fla.) was denied today by the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee.
“Matthews was charged with extortion, according to court records, committed ‘by verbal threats of bodily injury… while leading nighttime demonstrations in February 1975 at the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola.’
“The information filed by the State Attorney’s office charged that ‘Matthews and (co-demonstrator B.J. Brooks Sr.) did verbally and maliciously threaten injury’ to Sheriff Royal Untreiner, Deputy Doug Raines and numerous other deputies.
“In the trial itself, the prosecution attempted to show Matthews and Brooks threatened not only injury to the officers but death for Gov. Reubin Askew.”

JULY 27, 1961

“Lodge Will Lay Cornerstone At New Hall Aug. 9: Greening Lodge, No. 53, F.&A.M. will lay the cornerstone of the new lodge building on Aug. 9, it is announced today by lodge officials.
“An appropriate ceremony is planned at two o’clock the afternoon of the ninth at the Lodge Building in front of Conecuh County Hospital just off Main Street.
“The ceremony will be conducted by officers of the Grand Lodge and will be public. A cordial invitation is extended by the Masons.
“Right now, the lodge is gathering various items to put in the cornerstone. Included will be a copy of this newspaper and various items that might be of interest to some future generations.”

“The Conecuh County schools will open Sept. 14 after three days of in-service training for the teachers, it is announced today by Mrs. Marie M. Pate, Supervisor of Instruction.”

“County gets land to expand schools: Necessary land has been acquired at Repton and the Conecuh County Training School for the proposed new construction at each and the architect’s plans are now before the State Building Commission for final approval, Guy S. Kelly, Superintendent of Education, said today.
“The land, approximately seven acres at each site, was condemned by the Board of Education after satisfactory negotiations had failed.”

JULY 25, 1946

“Gold Star Air Medal Awarded Missing Aviator: Lt. Ralph E. Boggs, husband of Frances E. Boggs, Route E, Repton, Ala., recently has been awarded the Air Medal with a Gold Star in lieu of his second Air Medal by the Secretary of Navy James Forrestal for the President.
“Lt. Boggs earned the award for meritorious service in aerial flight as leader of a fighter bomber division in action against enemy forces in the Pacific. He has been missing in action since July 24, 1945.
“Text of the citation is as follows: ‘For meritorious achievement in aerial flight as a pilot in Bombing Squadron 94, attached to the U.S. Lexington, in operations against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Wake Island, Tokyo and Hokkaido from June 20 to July 15, 1945. Consistently pressing home his vigorous attacks in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire from Japanese guns, Lt. Boggs successfully carried out five bombing, rocket and strafing missions against enemy airfields, anti-aircraft positions, industrial installations and transportation systems, to inflict extensive damage on the enemy. His expert airmanship, heroic fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Lt. Boggs and the United States Naval Service.”

“The U.S. Employment Service in Evergreen has been notified by the State Highway Department that a work order has been released to the Scott Construction Co., for work on the highway from Evergreen to Excel.”

JULY 30, 1931

“City School Will Open Sept. 7: Prof. W.P. McMillan spent the weekend here conferring with the members of the City School Board and it was determined by that body that the next session of the City School will open Monday morning, Sept. 7.”

“Army Outfit To Camp Here Aug. 6-7: The Second Battalion First Tank Regiment (Light) of Ft. Benning, Ga. will stop in Evergreen on Aug. 6-7 enroute to Ft. Barrancas at Pensacola, Fla. Capt. Spalding with the advance reconnaissance party here on Monday of this week conferring with Mayor Kelly and completing arrangements for the coming of the battalion.
“Arrangements have been made to quarter the battalion on the grounds at the City School building. Something like 275 enlisted men and 17 officers will be in the outfit. They will be traveling by truck and expect to arrive here probably about noon Thurs., Aug. 6, spent the remainder of the day and night, leaving the next morning for Pensacola.”

“Annual Terrapin Derby To Be Held Sept. 5th: The date for Evergreen’s next Terrapin Derby has been set for Sat., Sept. 5, this year.
“It will be recalled that the derby was held here last year on Oct. 25. More than 50 terrapins were entered and the race was witnessed by one of the largest crowds seen in Evergreen in many a moon. Being the unique and unusual event that it was, it not only attracted the interest of local persons but much publicity was given to it by the various newspapers over Alabama and other states.”

JULY 24, 1901

“The famous Battle of Manassas was fought just 40 years ago on Mon., 22nd. There are three survivors of that battle now living in Evergreen. They are John G. Guice, M.B. Salter and W.S. Crosby.”

“Agent Sawyer of the Express Co. has been advised that one of the homing pigeons which he liberated on July 2, reached its destination, Bridgeport, Conn., a distance of 1,016 miles on an air line, on the 17th. Another of the birds reached there the next day. Eleven were liberated, one remaining here and was given to Mr. Sawyer as a present. The other eight have not been heard from.”

“Prof. J.A. Duncan Elected Principal: The board of control of the Agricultural School met here on Friday to elect a principal and to fill vacancies in the faculty of the school. Prof. J.A. Duncan, who at the former meeting of the board was elected to Prof. Payne’s place as first assistant, was elected principal, and Prof. L.A. Smith of Ozark was chosen to the position of assistant. Mrs. L.A. Smith was elected teacher of music.
“Mr. Duncan, the newly elected principal, is a young man and has been teaching at Lowndesboro. Both Mr. Duncan and Mr. Smith come with very flattering recommendations as teachers.”

“Sheriff Pridgen now has the man, Jim Williams, who shot at R.C. Brawner at Castleberry some time ago, safely behind the bars. He was captured at Brewton by Sheriff Raley.”

Today in History for July 28, 2015

American sculptress Vinnie Ream
July 28, 1527 – Spanish explorer Rodrigo de Bastidas, who founded the Columbian city of Santa Marta, died in Cuba at the age of 67 (or 66) after being stabbed five times by his own men, who were angry over his refusal to share gold he had acquired. Bastidas is best remembered for mapping the northern coast of South America and discovering Panama. He is buried at the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

July 28, 1776 - Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent with the 16th Continental Regiment and Colonel Israel Hutchinson with his 27th Continental Regiment, both from Massachusetts, as well as several British ships, arrived at Horn’s Hook, New York. After gathering at Horn’s Hook, the Massachusetts regiments went on to Long Island, where they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of brothers Admiral Richard and General William Howe. The campaign culminated in their retreat from Brooklyn Heights on Long Island back to Horn’s Hook in Manhattan on August 27, one month after their initial arrival.

July 28, 1814 - Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley eloped with 17-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on this day, despite the fact that he was already married. Shelley and Godwin fled to Europe, marrying after Shelley’s wife committed suicide in 1816. While living in Geneva, the Shelleys and their dear friend Lord Byron challenged each other to write a compelling ghost story, and only Mary Shelley finished hers, later publishing the story as “Frankenstein.”

July 28, 1844 – Poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in Stratford, near London.

July 28, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes occurred at Guntersville and Stevenson, Ala.

July 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Ezra Church began in Georgia as Confederates under General John Bell Hood made a third attempt to break General William T. Sherman's hold on Atlanta. The attack failed and destroyed the Confederate Army of Tennessee's offensive capabilities. The Confederates lost 3,000 men to the Union’s 630.

July 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, a two-day Federal operation began in the vicinity of Cedar Bluff, Ala.

July 28, 1866 – At the age of 18, Vinnie Ream became the first and youngest female artist to receive a commission from the United States government for a statue (of Abraham Lincoln).

July 28, 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified, establishing African American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.

July 28, 1910 – The remains of prominent Conecuh County citizen and former Confederate officer Pinckney D. Bowles were scheduled to arrive in Evergreen, Ala. on the No. 1 passenger train from Tampa, Fla. Bowles passed away on July 25 at the age of 75 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Cobb, in Tampa, where he’d been several weeks prior to his death. His funeral was scheduled to be held on July 28 at 5 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and was to be conducted by the Rev. H.T. Walden, the local Masonic lodge and Confederate veterans.

July 28, 1914 - World War I officially began when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

July 28, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the new brick store belonging to J.F. Williams at Brooklyn, Ala. was nearing completion and would soon be opened. The new store was to be under the management of J.F. Mitchell.

July 28, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the first open boll of cotton was brought into the newspaper office by Ben Quates, who lived near Old Town.

July 28, 1918 – U.S. Army Cpl. Sidney Earnest Manning of Butler County, Ala. would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on this day near Breuvannes, France. Army Cpl. Walter Wallace of Garland and Army Pvt. Robert G. McArthur of Brewton killed in action on this day during World War I.

July 28, 1923 – Forest Home (Butler County) native Douglas Woolley “Dixie” Parker, age 28, made his major league debut as a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. The Cardinals won, 7-2.

July 28, 1927 – Poet John Ashbery was born in Rochester, N.Y.

July 28, 1938 – The Evergreen Greenies, behind a strong pitching performance by lefty Joe Cudillo, beat the Andalusia Rams, 4-3, in Andalusia, Ala.

July 28, 1938 – Before a record crowd of 2,300 in Troy, the Alabama-Florida Southern All-Stars baseball team beat the Northern All-Stars, 9-3.

July 28, 1939 – Prominent merchant, cattle breeder and planter Harry Stillings passed away at his home at Hybart, Ala. after a heart attack.

July 28, 1941 – Aug. 2, 1941 - One of the largest troop movements ever to pass through Evergreen, Ala. was seen when the 31st (Dixie) Division, composed of National Guard units from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana passed through the area en route to the maneuvers at Dry Prong, La. The group consisted of about 6,000 trucks and 18,000 men. The total length of each echelon was 66 miles, so that as the last truck was passing through Evergreen each day, the first one was entering Grove Hill.

July 28, 1955 – Evergreen City Clerk G.L. Wilkinson announced that the Evergreen City Council had approved the lease to acquire the parking lot property behind Dr. R.W. Stallworth’s office at the south end of West Front Street in Evergreen, Ala. Evergreen city officials hoped the parking lot would relieve the congested parking downtown on Fridays and Saturdays and create more parking in No Man’s Land.

July 28, 1956 – English explorer Robert Swan was born in Durham, England. He is best known as an an advocate for the protection of Antarctica and renewable energy. Swan is also the founder of 2041, a company which is dedicated to the preservation of the Antarctic and the author with Gil Reavill of “Antarctica 2041: My Quest to Save the Earth's Last Wilderness.”

July 28, 1958 – Mobile, Alabama’s Milt Bolling made his final appearance in the Major League’s, taking the field for the final time with the Detroit Tigers.

July 28, 1962 - A movie version of “The Miracle Worker,” a play about the early life of Alabama author Helen Keller, was released.

July 28, 1976 – The Tangshan earthquake, measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 moment magnitude, flattened Tangshan in the People's Republic of China, killing 242,769 and injuring 164,851, making it the deadliest earthquake in modern history. Some in China suspect that the true number of fatalities could be double or triple the number reported by Chinese officials.

July 28, 1978 – The Steiner House in Greenville, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

July 28, 1991 - Dennis Martinez, 36, of the Montreal Expos pitched a perfect game to lead his team to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the 15th perfect game in Major League history.

July 28, 1993 - Author Harry Middleton died in Hoover, Ala.

July 28, 1994 - Kenny Rogers of the Texas Rangers pitched the 16th perfect game in major league baseball history.

July 28, 1996 – The remains of a prehistoric man were discovered near Kennewick, Washington. Such remains would be known as the Kennewick Man.

July 28, 1997 – This day’s edition of the Miami Herald reported an incident in which six British tourists and their guide, Dan Rowland, saw a Skunk Ape on Turner River Road, just north of Ochopee, Fla. According to Rowland, the unknown ape-like creature was between six and seven feet tall, “flat-faced, broad-shouldered, covered with long brown hair or fur and reeking of a skunk.”

July 28, 1999 – Six historic locations in Clarke County, Ala. were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Those locations included the Bush House at 168 North Church Street in Grove Hill (built in 1912); the Stephen Beech Cleveland House, also known as The Lodge, in Suggsville (built in 1860); the John A. Coate House, located on Dubose Street in Grove Hill (built in 1855); the Cobb House in Grove Hill (built in 1865); the Gainestown Methodist Church and Cemetery in Gainestown; and the Jesse Pickens Pugh Farmstead, a 289-acre homestead near Grove Hill.

July 28, 2014 – “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” premiered on NBC. In this adventure TV series, Grylls took celebrities on a two-day trip in the wilderness. This celebrities who took part in the 6-episode series are Zac Efron, Ben Stiller, Tamron Hall, Deion Sanders, Channing Tatum, and Tom Arnold.
Street in Grove Hill (built in 1855); the Cobb House in Grove Hill (built in 1865); the Gainestown Methodist Church and Cemetery in Gainestown; and the Jesse Pickens Pugh Farmstead, a 289-acre homestead near Grove Hill.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Tues., July 28, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.35 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.35 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.40 inches

Summer to Date Rainfall: 8.00 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 32.05 inches

Notes: Today is the 209th day of 2015 and the 38th day of Summer. There are 156 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 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Monday, July 27, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 227: Visit the grave of Sidney Manning in Flomaton

Sidney Manning's grave in Flomaton, Ala.
One of the greatest soldiers to ever come out of Southwest Alabama was Sidney Manning, who lived most of his life in Flomaton, Ala. Manning received the Medal of Honor for his daring actions during World War I, and he was one of General Pershing’s Immortal Ten.

Manning died long before I was born, but I’ve always wanted to pay him my respects by making a personal visit to his grave. I put this trip on my bucket list several years ago and finally scratched it off the list on Saturday afternoon when my son and I visited Manning’s grave while on the way home from Brewton.

As many of you may know, Manning received the Medal of Honor for his actions near Breuvannes, France on July 28, 1918 when he was an Army corporal in Co. G of the 167th Infantry, which was part of the Army’s 42nd Division. What follows is the complete text from his Medal of Honor citation:

“When his platoon commander and platoon sergeant had both become casualties soon after the beginning of an assault on strongly fortified heights overlooking the Ourcq River, Cpl. Manning took command of his platoon, which was near the center of the attacking line. Though himself severely wounded, he led forward the 35 men remaining in the platoon and finally succeeded in gaining a foothold on the enemy's position, during which time he had received more wounds, and all but seven of his men had fallen. Directing the consolidation of the position, he held off a large body of the enemy only 50 yards away by fire from his automatic rifle. He declined to take cover until his line had been entirely consolidated with the line of the platoon on the front when he dragged himself to shelter, suffering from nine wounds in all parts of the body.”

John J. Pershing was the Army general who led American Expeditionary Forces to victory over Germany in World War I, and, as mentioned, Manning was such an all around bad dude that he was among listed among General Pershing’s “Immortal Ten,” that is the 10 men Pershing considered to be the war’s greatest heroes. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to obtain a list, in a reasonable amount of time, of the other nine men on this famous list.

If you’d like to visit Manning’s grave yourself, it’s not hard to find. Travel to Flomaton and take U.S. Highway 31 to the State Highway 113 intersection. Then turn north onto Highway 113 and travel about half a mile to Little Escambia Baptist Church, which is on the west side of the road at 445 State Highway 113. The cemetery is next door to the church.

Manning’s grave is very close to the southernmost entrance to the cemetery. The grave is on the front row and stands out because it’s marked with a large American flag. His headstone reads, “SIDNEY E. MANNING, MEDAL OF HONOR, CPL U.S. ARMY, WORLD WAR I, JULY 17, 1892 – DEC. 15, 1960.” The marble slab over his grade reads, “ALABAMA’S OWN – ONE OF GENERAL PERSHING’S IMMORTAL TEN – DEDICATORY MONUMENT IN FLOMATON LIONS PARK.”

In the end, how many of you have ever visited the grave of Sidney Manning? What did you think about it? Do you know of any other historic graves worth visiting? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for July 27, 2015

Florence and James Maybrick
July 27, 1663 – The English Parliament passed the second Navigation Act requiring that all goods bound for the American colonies had to be sent in English ships from English ports.

July 27, 1740 – French explorer Jeanne Baré was born in the village of La Comelle in the Burgundy region of France. Bare was a member of Louis Antoine de Bougainville's expedition on the ships La Boudeuse and Étoile in 1766–1769. Baret, who joined the expedition disguised as a man, is recognized as the first woman to have completed a voyage of circumnavigation.

July 27, 1775 - Benjamin Rush began his service as the first Surgeon General of the Continental Army.

July 27, 1776 - Silas Deane, the secret Congressional emissary to France, wrote a letter to Congress, informing them that he had been successful beyond his expectations in France. The Committee of Congress for Secret Correspondence, consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, John Dickinson, John Hay and Robert Morris, had instructed Deane to meet with French Foreign Minister Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, to stress America’s need for military stores and to assure the French that the colonies were moving toward “total separation. Deane managed to negotiate for unofficial assistance from France, in the form of ships containing military supplies, and recruited the Marquis de Lafayette to share his military expertise with the Continental Armys officer corps.

July 27, 1777 - The Marquis of Lafayette arrived in New England to help the rebellious American colonists fight the British.

July 22, 1778 – During the American Revolution, at the First Battle of Ushant, British and French fleets fought to a standoff.

July 27, 1784 - "Courier De L’Amerique" became the first French newspaper to be published in the United States. It was printed in Philadelphia, Pa.

July 27, 1789 – The United States Department of Foreign Affairs was created. The Department of Foreign Affairs was renamed the Department of State in September of 1789.

July 27, 1804 - The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. With the amendment, Electors were directed to vote for a President and for a Vice-President rather than for two choices for President.

July 27, 1806 - Attempting to stop a band of young Blackfoot Indians from stealing his horses, Meriwether Lewis shot an Indian in the stomach. The Indians retreated, and the men quickly gathered their horses. Lewis then learned that one of his men had also fatally stabbed another of the Blackfoot.

July 27, 1813 – The Battle of Burnt Corn Creek occurred 13 miles south of Belleville, Ala. (in present day Escambia County, Ala.) when a group of about 80 Red Stick Creek Indians under the command of Peter McQueen and High Head Jim were ambushed by American forces under the command of Col. James Caller and Capt. Dixon Bailey. McQueen and his men were returning from Pensacola, where they had secured supplies and arms from the Spanish and British. The Battle of Burnt Corn Creek is considered the first engagement of the Creek Indian War of 1813-1814 and is generally considered to have been a Red Stick victory.

July 27, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette departed from West Chester, Pa. for Lancaster, Pa.

July 27, 1837 – Joseph R. Bass was born at Marion Court House, S.C. He would eventually move to Evergreen, Ala. and served in the Confederate Army. After the war, he would move to Texas, and he is buried in Caddo Mills, Texas.

July 27, 1862 – During the Civil War, a four-day Federal operation between Woodville and Guntersville, Ala. began.

July 27, 1863 – During the Civil War, Confederates attacked the steamer, “Paint Rock,” near Bridgeport, Ala.

July 27, 1863 - Confederate and ardent secessionist William Lowndes Yancey died suddenly of kidney disease at the age of 48 at his home near Montgomery, Ala. The main author of Alabama's ordinance of secession, which removed Alabama from the Union, Yancey was one of the leading "fire-eaters" who influenced southern states to secede.

July 27, 1864 – On this day during the Civil War, the Federal Navy carried out reconnaissance of lower Mobile Bay.

July 27, 1870 – Hilaire Belloc was born in Paris, France. In his lifetime, he was known for his journalism and serious essays, but today he's best known for his books of humorous verse.

July 27, 1880 – National Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Tinker was born in Muscotah, Kansas. He went on to play for the Chicago Orphans/Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Chi-Feds/Whales. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.

July 27, 1881 – Mobile, Ala. native Florence Elizabeth Chandler married cotton broker James Maybrick at St. James’s Church in Piccadilly in London. In 1889, Florence Maybrick would be convicted of poisoning James Maybrick, who was a suspect in the Jack the Ripper killings.

July 27, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that jury verdicts had been reached in a number of cases before the Monroe County Circuit Court. Sonny Coker had been sentenced to hang on Sept. 8 for rape. Frank Coker was sentenced to penitentiary for life for murder. John Sanders recieved 10 years in penitentiary for rape. Wes. Rains was sentenced to five years in penitentiary for murder, and Sam Mixon was sentenced to 10 years in penitentiary for arson.

July 27, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that Col. Nick Stallworth of Evergreen visited The Monroe Journal office while visiting Monroeville during the previous week. Stallworth had spent the previous winter and spring in New Mexico and was “greatly improved in health.”

July 27, 1905 – National Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop and manager Leo Durocher was born in West Springfield, Mass. He went on to play for the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he managed the Dodgers, the New York Giants, the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.

July 27, 1908 – Writer Joseph Mitchell was born in Fairmont, N.C.

July 27, 1910 – The Evergreen Courant reported that prominent Conecuh County citizen and former Confederate officer Pinckney D. Bowles had passed away at the age of 75 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Cobb, in Tampa, Fla., where he’d been several weeks prior to his death.

July 27, 1910 – The Evergreen Courant reported that members of Greening Masonic Lodge, No. 53, were requested to meet at the lodge on July 28 at 3 p.m. to attend the funeral of Pinckney D. Bowles. H.A. Shields was the lodge’s Worshipful Master.

July 27, 1915 – A new water well at the Monroeville, Ala. pumping plant was completed and the water was turned into the city’s water mains on this Tuesday afternoon, after 10 days of no water for city water customers. The “wells of the community were being rapidly exhausted” while the city water service was down.

July 27, 1916 – Writer Elizabeth Hardwick was born in Lexington, Ky.

July 27, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Everett H. Brown of Brewton was killed in action, and Army Cpl. Alexander A. Loyd (sometimes spelled “Lloyd”) of Eliska “died from wounds.” Loyd was buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France. (Some sources also say Loyd was killed in action on July 25, 1918.) Brown was buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois, France.

July 27, 1918 - Brooklyn rookie Henry Heitman made his major league debut and his last major league appearance in the same day. He pitched four straight hits to the St. Louis Cardinals, left the game and never played again in the majors.

July 27, 1921 - Baseball fan Reuben Berman sued the New York Giants, claiming he suffered mental and bodily distress after refusing to return a foul ball May 16 at the Polo Grounds. Berman was eventually rewarded $100.

July 27, 1931 - A grasshopper invasion descended over Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota devouring thousands of crop acres.

July 27, 1932 – During the Great Depression, following a run of withdrawals, the Peoples Bank of Evergreen, Ala. closed its doors at 10 a.m. and upon unanimous vote of its board of directors, its affairs were turned over to the state for liquidation. The bank was founded in 1901 and merged with the First National Bank of Evergreen on June 10, 1930.

July 27, 1937 - An unknown animal "with red eyes" seen by residents of Downingtown, Pennsylvania was compared to the Jersey Devil by a reporter for the Pennsylvania Bulletin of July 28, 1937.

July 27, 1940 – The animated Warner Bros. short “A Wild Hare” was released, introducing the character of Bugs Bunny.

July 27, 1940 – Novelist Bharati Mukherjee was born in Calcutta, India.

July 27, 1946 - Rudy York of the Boston Red Sox hit two grand slams and drove in 10 runs to lead the Red Sox over the St. Louis Browns, 13-6.

July 27, 1947 – The Evergreen Greenies beat Atmore, 5-4, in Atmore, Ala.

July 27, 1953 – Fighting in the Korean War ended when the United States, China and North Korea signed an armistice agreement at Panmunjon, Korea. Syngman Rhee, President of South Korea, refused to sign but pledged to observe the armistice.

July 27, 1956 - The Fairview Drive-In Theatre, owned by Olin Evans, opened near Evergreen, Ala. The first movie shown at the theater was “White Feather,” staring Robert Wagner and Debrah Padget.

July 27, 1974 – During the “Watergate Scandal,” the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.

July 27, 1984 - Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb’s record for most singles in a career when he got his 3,503rd base hit.

July 27, 1987 – National Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson passed away at the age of 83 in Waldo, Ark. He played his entire professional career for the New York Giants. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

July 27, 1995 – National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Rick Ferrell passed away at the age of 89 in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. During his career, he played for the St. Louis Browns, the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

July 27, 1996 – In Atlanta, Ga., a pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics. One woman (Alice Hawthorne) was killed, and a cameraman suffered a heart attack fleeing the scene. One hundred eleven people were injured.

July 27, 2001 - Deion Sanders announced his retirement from the National Football League.

July 27, 2003 - It was reported by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) that there was no monster in Loch Ness. The investigation used 600 separate sonar beams and satellite navigation technology to trawl the loch. Reports of sightings of the "Loch Ness Monster" began in the 6th century.

July 27-30, 2005 - A small pond near the Aruba Racquet Club close to the Marriott Hotel beach was partly drained after a gardener came forward with information about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, 18, of Mountain Brook, Ala. The gardener claimed to have seen Joran van der Sloot attempting to hide his face, driving into the Racquet Club with the two Kalpoes on the morning of May 30 between 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. The search of the pond proved fruitless.