Sunday, December 31, 2017

Old newspaper excerpts from The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville, Alabama

USS Shamrock Bay in 1945
DEC. 29, 2005

Dewberry joins staff: Josh Dewberry, a Pensacola native and resident of Excel, has joined The Journal’s staff as a staff writer and copy editor.
Dewberry, 24, moved to the Repton area with his family in 1995. He is a 1999 Monroe County High School graduate and earned his B.S. in English with a minor in journalism from the University of West Alabama (UWA) in Livingston in 2003.
Among his college honors, he was named Staff Member of the Term for UWA’s student run newspaper, The Life; he won the Betty Jean Tucker Award for Critical Writing in 2003; and was runner-up the same year for the Tucker Award in Creative Writing.
Dewberry worked for South Alabama News in Evergreen for over two years as composition editor and managing editor.

MC spoils it for Panthers: Monroe County High School’s Terrell Armstrong and Josh Stallworth teamed up for 26 total points in a 59-54 win over in-county rival, Excel, Tuesday of last week in Monroeville.
Armstrong, a 6-0 senior point guard, and Stallworth, a 6-2 senior center, scored 13 points each in the win, handing previously undefeated Excel their first loss of the year.

DEC. 27, 1990

Restoring the dome: Workers erected scaffolding at the Old Monroe County Courthouse last Thursday and Friday to prepare for restoring the exterior of the dome. In coming weeks, workers will structurally upgrade the dome and give it a new coat of paint, replace and repair windows, and add a balustrade like the one built originally in 1903. The dome renovation, along with repair work on the clock and chime, is the first step in a project spearheaded by the Old Courthouse Restoration Committee.

Journal names its all-county team: Excel High School’s Bo Bishop and Monroe Academy’s K.J. Lazenby have been named coaches of the year for The Monroe Journal’s annual All-Monroe County all-star football team.
Excel senior Mack Ross is the Offensive Player of the Year, and Monroe Academy (MA) senior Chris Hare is Defensive Player of the Year.
(Other first team members of the All-County team included John Abernathy, MA; Nick Ackerman, MA; Greg Betts, Monroe County High School (MCHS); Carlos Booker, MCHS; John Bradley, Excel; Doug Brown, Blacksher; Kendall Deas, Excel; Jason Gunn, Blacksher; Michael Hanks, Excel; Trey Harris, Excel; Drexel Lambert, Excel; Tony Maye, Excel; Josh Mixon, MA; Ray Pharr, Excel; Tim Rigby, MCHS; Todd Salter, MA; Justin Sawyer, Excel; Damien Siglar, MCHS; Jamie Thomas, MCHS; Jerrod Thompson, MA; Luke Waller, MA; and Lorenzo Williams, MCHS. Honorable mentions included Coach Keith Cardwell, MCHS; Dallas Gamble, MA; Shane Stafford, MA; Larry McCorvey, MCHS; Chris McCall, Excel; Oliver Wright Shields; Chris Casey, Excel; Bart Lloyd, Excel; Craig Ivey, MA; Anthony McClain, MCHS; Todd Watson, MCHS; Warren Wood Blacksher; Shannon Richardson, Frisco; Jason Holmes, MCHS; A.J. White, Frisco; Ronald Marshall, Shields; Steven Ledkins, Excel; Larry Shirley, Frisco; Chris Harrell, MA; Stephen Graham, Blacksher; Michael Stacey, MA; Craig Peavy, Blacksher; Bart McCrory, Frisco; Bryan Luker, Excel, Curtis Sanders, Shields; and Joey Downs, MCHS.)

DEC. 25, 1975

Harold Harris, engineer and manager of radio station WMFC, has resigned from his position to enter an electronics business in Yazoo City, Miss.
He began his career with WMFC nearly 20 years ago as station engineer. He has served as manager and engineer for the last 15 years.

Several football players from the Monroe County area have been listed on the Birmingham Post-Herald’s 1A state football teams.
Rhett Barnes (a 175-pound senior running back, strong safety and kicker) of Coach Lee Holladay’s Excel High School Panthers was the only player from the area to make the first team, although Daniel Boothe (a 190-pound senior fullback and middle linebacker), also of Excel, was listed on the second team. Receiving honorable mentions were (linebacker) Patrick Brown of Repton and (junior quarterback and defensive back) Ben Rhodes of Blacksher.

Contract for hospital 10-year plan signed: Monroe County Hospital last week signed a contract for development of a 10-year master plan expected to include expanding the number of patient beds by two-thirds.
The plan should be adequate through 1990, said hospital administrator Harold Pittman.
Ellerbe, a firm of hospital architects, engineers and planners based in Bloomington, Minn., is to begin work on the plan early next month, Pittman said.
Pittman said the plan is expected to include construction of two additions of about 25 beds each by 1985. The hospital now has 74 beds.

DEC. 29, 1960

Miss Nelle Lee of New York City is a holiday guest of her father, A.C. Lee, and sister, Miss Alice Lee.

Mickey Ryland, star tackle on the champion Monroe County High School football team, is pictured above signing a four-year grant-in-aid football scholarship to Auburn University. Signing Ryland is B.H. Stallworth Jr., Monroeville businessman and Auburn alumnus, upon instruction from the Auburn Athletic Department. The MCHS athlete made All-Pine Belt Conference and was named to several state teams during the season.

Monroe Sailor Is Aboard Submarine: James D. White, electrician’s mate third class, U.S. Navy, son of Mr. and Mrs. James W. White of Route 1, Monroeville, is serving aboard the submarine tender USS Nereus, operating out of San Diego, Calif. White enlisted Oct. 11 for six more years. Before entering the Navy in June 1958, he graduated from Excel High School, Excel, Ala.

The Beatrice High School Eagles captured second place in the Conecuh County Invitational tournament last weekend.
The Monroe quintet, after winning over Evergreen, 68-51, and Flomaton, 48-35, lost in the finals, 41-40, to Castleberry.
Beatrice placed three men on the all-tournament team. They were Paul Luker, guard; Mickey Tatum, forward; and Kenneth Armstrong, center.

“Songs of the Late Hank Williams” will be presented on radio station WMFC, Monroeville, at 10 a.m. Mon., Jan. 2, in a special program. Guest of honor for the occasion will be E.H. Williams of McWilliams, father of the late country and western singer.

DEC. 27, 1945

Miss Nelle Lee, student at the University, is spending the holidays with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Lee and family.

Nelvin Stacey is on his way home from Pearl Harbor about the U.S.S. Shamrock Bay after serving in the Navy in the South Pacific. His wife, Dorothy Stacey, lives on Monroeville, Route 1.

Landslide Fatal To Three Men: Three men were killed and a fourth was injured last Thursday afternoon when they were buried alive by a landslide in a gravel pit near Uriah.
The men were under a bank of earth in the pit to protect themselves from the cold when the whole side of the pit caved in, covering them with tons of earth. Gordon Williams and Percy Taylor were killed instantly and Roy Moore died a short time after reaching the hospital. Sam Turberville escaped with minor injuries.

Early A. Walden of Vredenburgh has been discharged from the Army after serving 43 months. He is the son of Mrs. J.D. Walden.

Mr. A.B. Blass Jr., student at the University, arrived last weekend to spend Christmas with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Blass Sr.

JESSE R. HARRISON ON THE WAY HOME: Naval Staging Center, Pearl Harbor, T.H. – Jesse R. Harrison, radio technician, first class, Frisco City, is getting ready to rejoin the ranks of civilians, together with thousands of others going through this Naval demobilization center headed for the States.

Today in History for Dec. 31, 2017

Dec. 31, 870 – During the Battle of Englefield, the Vikings clashed with ealdorman Æthelwulf of Berkshire, and the invaders were driven back to Reading (East Anglia), many Danes were killed.

Dec. 31, 1225 – The Lý dynasty of Vietnam ended after 216 years by the enthronement of the boy emperor Trần Thái Tông, husband of the last Lý monarch, Lý Chiêu Hoàng, starting the Trần dynasty.

Dec. 31, 1491 – French navigator and explorer Jacques Cartier was born in St. Malo, Duchy of Brittany.

Dec. 31, 1759 – Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease at 45 pounds per year and started brewing Guinness.

Dec. 31, 1775 – During the American Revolutionary War, at the Battle of Quebec, British forces repulsed an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold under cover of darkness and snowfall.

Dec. 31, 1781 - The British released Henry Laurens from prison in exchange for American-held prisoner General Charles Lord Cornwallis. Laurens had been in the Tower of London for 15 months after being captured off the coast of New Foundland.

Dec. 31, 1835 - A census of the Cherokee in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee was taken. It showed only 16,542 Cherokee living in those four states. They owned 1,592 black slaves and 201 whites had married into the tribe.

Dec. 31, 1835 - A force of 250 Seminoles under Chiefs Alligator and Osceola fought 250 regular army troops in the “Battle of Ouithlacoochie” (also known as the Battle of Withlacoochee) at the Cove on the Withlacoochee River near Tampa Bay. The troops, under the command of Generals Duncan Clinch and Richard Call, were attacked as they tried to cross the Withlacoochee River. Another 460 Florida Volunteers could only watch the pitched battle while on the opposite bank. Being soundly defeated, Clinch was forced to retreat back to Fort Drane and victory was claimed for the Seminole. Osceola is injured during the battle but promised to fight the white invaders "till the last drop of Seminole blood has moistened the dust of my hunting ground."

Dec. 31, 1837 - As the fighting wore on through the summer of 1837 Osceola grew physically weak, suffering from the effects of malaria. By autumn, soldiers had destroyed most of the Seminole towns and their crops. Many of Osceola’s followers had deserted and most of the allied Chiefs had been killed, imprisoned or have surrendered. On Oct. 27, Osceola was arrested under a white flag of truce and imprisoned at Fort Marion, St. Augustine. Osceola and his family were being transferred on this day to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.

Dec. 31, 1841 – The Burnt Corn Male Academy was incorporated by the Alabama legislature.

Dec. 31, 1841 – Alabama became the first state to license dental surgeons by enacting the first dental legislation in the United States.

Dec. 31, 1857 – National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder, catcher and manager King Kelly was born in Troy, N.Y. He went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago White Stockings, the Boston Beaneaters, the Boston Reds, the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers and the New York Giants, and he also managed the Beaneaters, the Boston Reds and the Killers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.

Dec. 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed an act that admitted West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.

Dec. 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Stones River began near Murfreesboro in central Tennessee. The battle ended on Jan. 2, 1863 as a victory for Union General William Rosecrans over Confederate Braxton Bragg.

Dec. 31, 1862 – During the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest narrowly escaped capture during a raid in western Tennessee. Despite the close call, the raid was instrumental in forcing Union General Ulysses S. Grant to abandon his first attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Dec. 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, a two-day Confederate operation into Missouri began. Skirmishes were also fought at Plaquemine, La.; at Muldraugh’s Hill, in the vicinity of New Marker, Ky.; and at Overall’s Creek, Tenn.

Dec. 31, 1863 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought in Searcy County, Ark.; and the shelling of Charleston, S.C. began.

Dec. 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred at Paint Rock Bridge and Russellville, Ala.

Dec. 31, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Sharpsburg, Ky.

Dec. 31, 1869 – Painter Henri Matisse was born in Le Cateau, France.

Dec. 31, 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrated his first incandescent light bulb when he hung strings of lights inside his lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, and switched them on and off repeatedly, to the awe and delight of his 3,000 spectators.

Dec. 31, 1880 - George C. Marshall, who distinguished himself with his service in France during World War I but is better-known as the commander of United States forces during the Second World War and the author of the Marshall Plan, was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Dec. 31, 1885 - A boy, Harry Thomas, secreted himself in M.V. Middleton’s store at Beuna Vista on this Thursday night, and while the clerk was at supper, he took $7.50 from the cash drawer and made his escape through a window. He was arrested the next day, confessed the theft, was tried before Justice Burns, who fined him $17 and costs. He was hired by Mr. Burns and very unceremoniously took his departure that night and at last accounts had not been heard from, according to the Jan. 9, 1886 edition of The Monroe Journal.

Dec. 31, 1891 - New York's new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.

Dec. 31, 1894 - Prof. Marsh reopened the Monroeville Academy after the holiday recess “with an increased attendance.”

Dec. 31, 1897 – Dr. W.A. Locke of Axle in Monroe County, Ala. passed away.

Dec. 31, 1898 – English ethnographer Sir John Thompson was born in London.

Dec. 31, 1905 – British-American songwriter Jule Styne was born.

Dec. 31, 1907 – The first New Year's Eve celebration was held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in New York, New York.

Dec. 31, 1909 – Manhattan Bridge opened.

Dec. 31, 1910 – The Manistee & Repton Railroad was officially incorporated. (Some sources say this happened on Dec. 29.)

Dec. 31, 1917 - A movie version of Alabama author Octavus Roy Cohen's book, “The Strong Way,” was released.

Dec. 31, 1930 – Odetta Holmes Felious, the woman Martin Luther King Jr. called "The Queen of American Folk Music," was born in Birmingham, Ala.

Dec. 31, 1933 - Joseph Hill, who said he lived in Montgomery, was put in the Conecuh County Jail, charged with placing a crosstie on the L&N Railroad track just this side of Murder Creek in front of Train No. 5 on this Sunday morning. According to reports, the tie was placed on the track at the point of a curve and could not be seen by the train crew until the locomotive was right on top of it. Fortunately for passengers and members of the train crew, as well as the company, the tie did not derail the train but skidded along in front of the cow catcher until the train could be brought to a stop. Passengers on the train saw Hill leaving the scene as the train stopped and were able to give officers a good description. Special agents of the railroad and members of the local sheriff’s office immediately began a search for him. He was apprehended at Wilcox about middle of the afternoon Sunday and brought back to Evergreen and placed in jail. It was understood that (Hill) admitted placing the tie on the track and said that he did so to stop a freight train in order that he might board it.

Dec. 31, 1933 - Funeral services for Tom Robbins Harper were held from the Beatrice Baptist Church at 2:30 p.m. on this Sunday afternoon. The Rev. J.T. Eckford conducted the service. Interment was made in the cemetery at Beatrice. Harper was killed while serving in U.S. Navy off the coast near San Diego, Calif. about two weeks before. Death was caused by asphyxiation from fumes from a storage tank.

Dec. 31, 1935 – Charles Darrow, an unemployed engineer in Germantown, Pa., patented the board game, Monopoly.

Dec. 31, 1944 – During World War II, Hungary declared war on Nazi Germany.

Dec. 31, 1946 - U.S. President Harry Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

Dec. 31, 1954 - The last episode of the radio show "Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" aired.

Dec. 31, 1964 – The Monroe Journal reported that the need for a remedy to the parking and traffic situation in downtown Monroeville, Ala. was clearly in evidence during the past week as Christmas shoppers sought parking places or sought access to stores and places of business. During the previous week when a lot of persons were in Monroeville, traffic “jams” persisted throughout the business hours.

Dec. 31, 1964 – The Monroe Journal reported that Alice Lee and Nell Harper Lee visited during the Christmas holidays Eufaula, Ala. where they were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Herschel Conner and family.

Dec. 31, 1964 – The Monroe Journal reported that new officers had been named by the Monroe County (Ala.) Medical Society, and they were to assume office on Jan. 1. Named president was Dr. Jack Whetstone of Monroeville; Dr. R.A. Smith Sr. of Monroeville, vice president; and Dr. R.A. Smith Jr. of Monroeville, secretary and treasurer. Named as delegates to the state convention were Dr. Whetstone and Dr. Smith Jr.

Dec. 31, 1964 – The Monroe Journal reported that Miss Joanna Ivey, senior at Monroe County High School, had been named Miss Good Citizen at MCHS. She was go to Montgomery, Ala. on Feb. 13, 1965 to compete for the statewide Miss Good Citizen. It was sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Dec. 31, 1965 – Novelist Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, Neb.

Dec. 31, 1967 - The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.

Dec. 31, 1968 – Dominican-American fiction writer Junot Diaz was born in Santo Domingo.

Dec. 31, 1968 - The bloodiest year of the Vietnam War came to an end. At year’s end, 536,040 American servicemen were stationed in Vietnam, an increase of over 50,000 from 1967.

Dec. 31, 1971 - The gradual U.S. withdrawal from the conflict in Southeast Asia was reflected in reduced annual casualty figures. The number of Americans killed in action dropped to 1,386 from the previous year total of 4,204. After 10 years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, a total of 45,627 American soldiers had been killed.

Dec. 31, 1972 – National Baseball Hall of Fame right fielder Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates, age 38, was killed in a plane crash near Puerto Rico while flying relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. He played his entire career, 1955-1972, for the Pirates, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Dec. 31, 1972 - With the end of Linebacker II, the most intense U.S. bombing operation of the Vietnam War, U.S. and communist negotiators prepared to return to the secret Paris peace talks scheduled to reconvene on Jan. 2.

Dec. 31, 1973 – No. 3-ranked Notre Dame, coached by Ara Parseghian, beat Bear Bryant’s No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, 24-23, in the Sugar Bowl at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

Dec. 31, 1974 – Fort Sinquefield in Clarke County, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Dec. 31, 1975 – Bear Bryant’s No. 3-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide beat Joe Paterno’s No. 7-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, 13-6, in the Sugar Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Dec. 31, 1977 – Evergreen, Ala. weather reporter Earl Windham reported 55.12 inches of rain in 1977 as compared to 56.29 inches of rain in 1976. Approximately 111 inches fell in 1975.

Dec. 31, 1981 – NFL quarterback Jason Campbell was born in Laurel, Miss. He went on to play for Taylorsville (Miss.) High School, Auburn, the Washington Redskins, the Oakland Raiders, the Chicago Bears, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dec. 31, 1984 - ESPN debuted in Hawaii, making it available in all 50 states.

Dec. 31, 1988 – Mark Childress’ second novel, “V for Victor,” was released by Knopf.

Dec. 31, 1988 – The first winter ascent of Lhotse (8,516m) was achieved by Krzysztof Wielicki (solo).

Dec. 31, 1990 – Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen died at the age of 72 in Palos Verdes Estates, California. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Dec. 31, 1991 – Weather reporter Harry Ellis reported 3.24 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala. during the month of December 1991. Total rainfall for 1991 amounted to 60.38 inches.

Dec. 31, 1992 – Weather reporter Harry Ellis reported 5.08 inches of rain in Evergreen, Ala. during the month of December 1992. Total rainfall for 1992 was 70.08 inches.

Dec. 31, 1999 – The United States Government handed control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties.

Dec. 31, 1999 - The world braced for the “Y2K” chaos as computer systems switched over to the year 2000.

Dec. 31, 2000 – Weather observer Harry Ellis reported a low of 17 degrees in Evergreen, Ala. Total rainfall in December was 5.24 inches, and Ellis recorded 40.91 inches during the year 2000.

Dec. 31, 2006 – Major League Baseball second baseman Marv Breeding passed away at the age of 72 in Decatur, Ala. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Senators and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dec. 31, 2014 – Total rainfall during the month of December in Excel, Ala. amounted to 8.10 inches. Total rainfall during 2014 in Excel amounted to 63.60 inches.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., Dec. 31, 2017

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.10 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.60 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  4.65 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 0.60 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 85.45 inches.

Notes: Today is the last day of 2017 and the 11th day of Winter. There are no 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.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

George Buster Singleton retired from the military 30 years ago this month

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The news story below, which was titled “Guardsmen honor retiring ‘teddy bear’ Singleton” was written by Steve Stewart at the time of Singleton’s retirement from the Alabama Army National Guard and was originally published in the Dec. 10, 1987 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

George Buster Singleton’s stern military bearing masks a “teddy bear” with a big heart, his friends and colleagues said Sunday at the Monroeville National Guard Armory when they honored him on his retirement.

Singleton, who has been administrator of the Guard’s Monroeville unit since June 28, 1964, will retire officially Dec. 14, his 60th birthday. An ex-Marine who was a unit administrator in Linden for three years before coming here, he also is well known as a student of Monroe County’s history and natural resources. He writes a column for The Monroe Journal, “Somewhere in Time.”

Guardsmen and family members attended the unit’s annual Christmas luncheon Sunday in the armory, where Singleton’s promotion to Chief Warrant Officer 4 (from Chief Warrant Officer 3) was announced, and he was given a plaque and birthday present. They reminisced and poked fun at him, and he poked some back.

‘Standing tall’

Staff Sgt. Jim Rowell of Monroeville, the unit’s noncommissioned officer for training, praised Singleton’s service to his unit, community, state and nation and his high moral standards, character and compassion. He said Singleton is always “looking good and standing tall.”

“Mr. Singleton comes on with a big macho image,” Rowell said. “…but if you’ve got a problem, I’ll guarantee you Mr. Singleton will help you solve it.”

Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Booker of Evergreen said, “Mr. Singleton has helped a great deal of us. He has led us through some times of uncertainty… We were scared to death when we first got in, but after we found out that he wasn’t more than a teddy bear, we relaxed a little bit and went on about our mission.”

He told stories about “the troops getting into devilment,” and said that at least once, Singleton “had to join us to keep his sanity.”

Guidance and counseling

“Mr. Singleton always tried to keep us out of trouble,” Booker said. “He always tried to give us that guidance and good counseling to not do certain things.” He said Singleton had “a father image” to Guardsmen and to their own sons.

Specialist 4 Elmer Womack III of Monroeville did a comic imitation of Singleton giving what Booker called a “motivating speech” exhorting certain of the men to get to work. The Womack’s father, Sgt. 1st Class Elmer Womack Jr. of Monroeville (a National Guard recruiter), described Singleton as “full of wisdom – he has the answers.”

“He and I have had some words at times, but we’ve never lost our friendship,” said Womack.

Similarly, Staff Sgt. Willie Williams of Monroeville, who was the third black to join the unit, observed that “it’s a bad friendship when you can’t have a disagreement and then make up… He did not tote a grudge with me.”

Williams said Singleton would help him get out of trouble, telling him whom to see and “tell him I sent you.”

Helped many people

Staff Sgt. Clint Ryland of Monroeville said Singleton had helped many people find jobs.

“Mr. Singleton seems like he’s been here all of his life,” said Ryland. “He hasn’t, but he has helped a number of people. There’s a lot of people sitting right here today who owe a lot to George B. Singleton… He’s got his fingers in a lot of pies around here. He is probably one of the best authorities on the natural resources and history of Monroe County.”

Although Singleton is not a Monroe County native, archeologists who visit here “end up talking to Mr. Singleton” sooner or later, Ryland said. He said Singleton has a metal detector and predicted he’d be digging for buried treasure.

Singleton himself was emotional and relatively speechless when he stood up to respond. He told a story about a formation where something didn’t look just right, and he finally realized that “one of my star pupils” was wearing “two left boots.”

“I want to thank you for what you’ve done, and God bless you all,” he said.

Confessions and excuses

Later, he stood again to say that he was leaving his home telephone number and “priest’s collar” to Rowell because “from now on, he’ll handle all the confessions.” He said Rowell could field the excuses for missing drills – such as broken-down cars, deaths in the distant family and pants that don’t fit.

Staff Sgt. George “Sonny” Cobb presented the plaque to Singleton on behalf of present and past members of the Monroeville unit – Detachment 1, 778th Maintenance Co., Alabama Army National Guard. Cobb has worked closely with Singleton since he first came to Monroeville.

“Thank you for your faithful service and loyalty to the National Guard and your fellow soldiers,” said the plaque. “Your tireless efforts, outstanding leadership, and high moral values have been an inspiration to all. We will always remember your influence on our lives.”

Singleton will be succeeded as unit administrator by Sgt. Marylyn Boutwell of Uriah, whose first day on the job was to be this past Monday.

(This story was also accompanied by a photo, and the caption beneath that photo read as follows: Singleton, right, with wife Jean and George Cobb, who presented plaque.)

Elsewhere in that week’s paper, readers saw the following short news item, under the headline “New unit chief named.”

Uriah resident Marylyn Boutwell has been named to replace retiring National Guard unit administrator George Singleton.

Ms. Boutwell will be the support services specialist for the unit and will provide administrative and supply support for all of its members. Some of her responsibilities will include keeping physicals and records updated, as well as overseeing the safekeeping of uniforms and equipment.

Having served in the Indiana National Guard while attending the University of Indiana, Ms. Boutwell has completed the primary leadership development course, as well as the basic non-commissioned officer’s course.

(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 as a U.S. Marine 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 June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 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 news story 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 Dec. 30, 2017

Dec. 30, 1803 - Francis Lewis, signer of the Declaration of Independence, died in New York City, at the age of 90.

Dec. 30, 1813 – During the War of 1812, British soldiers burned Buffalo, New York.

Dec. 30, 1816 – Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin were married.

Dec. 30, 1821 – James Hayes became the postmaster at Burnt Corn Spring, Ala.

Dec. 30, 1825 - The “1825 Treaty of St. Louis” between the United States and the Shawnee Nation was proclaimed on this day. The treaty was signed on Nov. 7, 1825 between William Clark and delegates from the Shawnee Nation. In this treaty, the Shawnee ceded lands near Cape Geredeau, Mo. In return, the government gave the Shawnee $11,000 and leased to them a blacksmith shop for five years, agreeing to provide all the tools and 300 pounds of iron annually.

Dec. 30, 1837 - Several crude log structures with a log fence surrounding them were hastily built on Christmas day to house and protect a contingent of United States Army soldiers. The soldiers had been dispatched to the area to aid the local settlers during the war with the Seminole. General Jesup with a contingent of soldiers began occupation of the fort on this day.

Dec. 30, 1841 – Camden, Ala. was officially incorporated as a municipality.

Dec. 30, 1853 - The United States bought about 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase to facilitate railroad building in the Southwest.

Dec. 30, 1861 – During the Civil War, Confederate Commissioners James Mason and John Slidell were released to the British Minister, Lord Lyons. Their release effectively ended the Trent International Incident.

Dec. 30, 1861 – During the Civil War, the United States Government, as well as independent banks in several cities, suspended “specie payment.” This refered to the fact that at this time paper money was viewed with suspicion unless it could be readily converted into the equivalent amount of gold or silver. The suspension of specie frequently led to drastic inflation as the value of paper currency declined, sometimes to zero if the bank issuing it failed. The matter of a stable and uniform currency for the entire country was not yet settled and would not be for some time.

Dec. 30, 1862 – During the Civil War, the U.S.S. Monitor sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C., and 16 sailors were unable to be rescued. Just nine months earlier, the ship had been part of a revolution in naval warfare when the ironclad dueled to a standstill with the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, in one of the most famous naval battles in American history – the first time two ironclads faced each other in a naval engagement.

Dec. 30, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at New Haven and Springfield in Kentucky; and at Blountsville, Carter’s Depot and the Watauga Railroad Bridge, Clarksburg, Huntingdon, Jefferson, La Vergne, Nolensville, Rock Springs and Union in Tennessee. A two-day Federal operation between Falmouth and Warrenton in Virginia began, and a two-day Federal operation between Potomac Creek and Ellis’ Ford in Virginia began.

Dec. 30, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Waldron, Ark.; in the vicinity of Greenville, N.C.; and in the vicinity of Saint Augustine, Fla.

Dec. 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish occurred at Leighton in Colbert County, Ala.

Dec. 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought in the vicinity of Cartuthersville, Mo.

Dec. 30, 1865 – Short-story writer, poet, novelist and prominent Freemason Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India. He would go on to publish his best-known book, “The Jungle Book,” in 1894.

Dec. 30, 1868 – Baker County, Ala. (present-day Chilton County) was established and named in honor of Alfred Baker with its county seat at Grantville. Residents of the county petitioned the Alabama legislature for the renaming of their county and on Dec. 17, 1874, the petitioners accepted the suggestion of Chilton County, in honor of William Parish Chilton Sr. (1810–1871). Chilton was a lawyer who became Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and later represented Montgomery County in the Congress of the Confederate States of America.

Dec. 30, 1868 – Chilton County, Ala. was created by act of the state legislature from part of Bibb County. Bounded on the north by Shelby County, on the east by Coosa County and Elmore County, on the south by Autauga County and Dallas County, and on the west by Perry County and Bibb County. First named Baker County for Alfred Baker, a promiment local citizen who owned the land where the county seat was located. Renamed Chilton County on Dec. 17, 1874 for William Parrish Chilton (1810-1871), a member of the Confederate Congress and a chief justice of the state supreme court. Clanton is the county seat.

Dec. 30, 1890 - The Drexel Mission Fight took place on this day, the day after the “Massacre of Wounded Knee,” between Brulé Lakota warriors and the Army. The fight took place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on White Clay Creek, about 15 miles north of Pine Ridge. The Lakota, fleeing from the continued hostile situation surrounding the battle at Wounded Knee, had set up camp there.

Dec. 30, 1895 - A “light fall” of snow was witnessed in Monroeville, Ala. on this Monday.

Dec. 30, 1895 - After a week’s vacation, the Monroeville Academy resumed operations on this Monday with an increased enrollment.

Dec. 30, 1895 - D.W. Powell, the postmaster and a merchant at Excel, visited The Monroe Journal office on this Monday and reported “a quiet but pleasant Christmas in the Fork.”

Dec. 30, 1899 – Norwegian explorer, lawyer and politician Helge Ingstad was born in Meråker.

Dec. 30, 1900 - The residence of J.T. Amos was destroyed by fire on this Sunday night. The fire originated in the kitchen and was discovered at seven o’clock by Amos, who gave the alarm. In a short space of time, a large crowd had gathered to fight the mad flames, but it had gained such headway that it was soon evident that the house could not be saved, and the people set about to save the furniture and adjoining buildings.

Dec. 30, 1900 – Conecuh County Sheriff W.W. Pridgen returned on this Sunday from Hot Springs, where he had been for several weeks past for the benefit of his health.

Dec. 30 1903 – The Iroquois Theatre fire took place in Chicago with a death toll of 500 that made it the worst single-structure fire in American history.

Dec. 30, 1910 – Novelist, composer and poet Paul Bowles was born in New York City. He is best known for his 1949 novel, “The Sheltering Sky.”

Dec. 30, 1915 – The Monroe Journal reported that “Christmas in Monroeville was unusually quiet and uneventful. All business houses were closed throughout the day and a Sabbath stillness pervaded. It (was) gratifying to note that not the slightest indication of intoxication was observable on the streets.”

Dec. 30, 1916 – Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, a 47-year-old self-fashioned holy man, was murdered in Petrograd by Russian nobles eager to end his sway over the royal family. In the early hours of this day, a group of nobles lured Rasputin to Yusupovsky Palace, where they attempted to poison him. Seemingly unaffected by the large doses of poison placed in his wine and food, he was finally shot at close range and collapsed. A minute later he rose, beat one of his assailants, and attempted to escape from the palace grounds, where he was shot again. Rasputin, still alive, was then bound and tossed into a freezing river.

Dec. 30, 1924 - Pioneering astronomer Edwin Hubble announced the existence of other galaxies.

Dec. 30, 1926 - The Chicago Tribune broke a story that the Detroit Tigers threw a four-game series to the Chicago White Sox in 1917.

Dec. 30, 1935 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He would play his entire career (1955-1966) for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

Dec. 30, 1939 - Joseph J. Jernigan, 73, one of the early settlers of the Tunnel Springs community, died at his home on this Saturday about 3 p.m., following a long period of ill health. For many years he was closely identified with the business and industrial development of Monroe County. For about 20 years he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Monroe County Bank, was a member of the Board of Directors of the Excel Bank, from the organization until the institution was liquidated.

Dec. 30, 1940 – California opened its first freeway, “The 110,” connecting Pasadena to Los Angeles.

Dec. 30, 1941 – Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro was born in Houston, Texas. He went on to play for Oregon and the Dallas Cowboys. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Dec. 30, 1949 - Alabama author Dara Wier was born in New Orleans, La.

Dec. 30, 1953 - The first color TV sets went on sale for about $1,175.

Dec. 30, 1954 - Alabama author Truman Capote's only musical, “House of Flowers,” opened at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, where it ran for 165 performances. The musical was based on Capote’s short story, “House of Flowers,” which was first published in his 1958 book, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” where the story was included as one of three extra pieces besides the novella, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Dec. 30, 1954 - Boy Scout Troop 24 and the Explorer Scout Post staged a combination Court of Honor and Family Night at the Monroeville Community House on this Thursday night at which time 28 merit badges and 29 advancements in rank, including an Eagle Award, were presented. Receiving the Eagle Award was Cecil Murphy, 15, with the presentation being made by Morton McMillan, leader of the Explorer Post.  Other advancement awards were made with Bill Owens being presented the Life Scout Award by Ed Michaels.

Dec. 30, 1954 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Conecuh County Sheriff John Brock was recovering from “severe injuries” he sustained Saturday night, Dec. 25, when his car struck a cow on State Highway 83, about seven miles north of Evergreen, Ala. “He was answering an urgent call from the Skinnerton community when the wreck occurred,” The Courant reported. “According to reports of the accident given The Courant, the cow suddenly leaped in the highway directly in front of the Sheriff’s automobile. After hitting the cow, the car turned over several times.” Brock was rushed to the Conecuh County Hospital where examination by doctors revealed he had fractures of the pelvis bones and a vertebra. He was carried to Mobile Infirmary later that night where he was as of Dec. 30. Reports indicated he was rapidly recovering and would be able to return to Evergreen sometime the following week.

Dec. 30, 1958 - A holiday basketball double header was planned to be held at the gymnasium at Frisco City High School in Frisco City, Ala. on this Tuesday afternoon with four leading teams in the area scheduled to compete. Three Monroe County teams were to be included in the group - Frisco City High School as hosts, Excel High School and J.U. Blacksher. Atmore, from neighboring Escambia County, was to be the fourth team. Frisco City was to play Excel at 2 p.m. while Atmore was to take on Uriah at 3:15 p.m. The winning teams and losing teams were to meet each other later that night.

Dec. 30, 1959 – Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, who were the subjects of Truman Capote’s book “In Cold Blood,” were identified as suspects in the November 1959 Clutter family murders, and were arrested in Las Vegas.

Dec. 30, 1964 – Wreckage from a June 17, 1961 Cessna 182 crash that killed John O. Leu, 22, of Nashville, Tenn. and Gene McGill, 18, of Mobile was discovered 12 miles northwest of Uriah, near Jeddo, by Edmond Jerkins of Stapleton.

Dec. 30, 1970 - The South Vietnamese Navy received 125 U.S. vessels in a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. Navy’s four-year role in inland waterway combat.

Dec. 30, 1972 – During the Vietnam War, the United States halted heavy bombing of North Vietnam.

Dec. 30, 1972 - Officials in Washington, D.C., announced that the peace talks in Paris between National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho would resume on Jan. 2.

Dec. 30, 1976 – Major League Baseball catcher A. J. Pierzynski was born in Bridgehampton, New York. He made his MLB debut on Sept. 9, 1998 with the Minnesota Twins and went on to play for the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago White Sox, the Texas Rangers, the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves.

Dec. 30, 1976 – NFL defensive end Patrick Kerney was born in Yardley, Pennsylvania. He went on to play for the University of Viginia and 11 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks.

Dec. 30, 1977 – For the second time, Ted Bundy escaped from his cell in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Dec. 30, 1978 - Ohio State University fired football coach Woody Hayes one day after Hayes punched Clemson University player Charlie Bauman during the Gator Bowl. Bauman had intercepted an Ohio State pass.

Dec. 30, 1981 – The Old LaSalle Hotel and Restaurant in Monroeville was sold to Monroe County Library Board by Dwight Harrington, who bought the building in 1979.

Dec. 30, 1996 - Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers became only the second player to win consecutive NFL MVP Awards.

Dec. 30, 1999 – The Evergreen Courant reported that banks in Conecuh County were prepared for the Y2K computer bug and had been working on the problem for over a year. Pat Bolton, Vice President of Information Systems at the Bank of Evergreen, said she began working on the Y2K problem in September of 1998.

Dec. 30, 1999 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Conecuh County Sheriff’s Deputy Allison Blackmon had recently attended a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course taught at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. Blackmon was certified as a RAD instructor. She had to take a minimum of 30 hours, but her particular class took 35 hours of instruction.

Dec. 30, 2006 – Former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging at Camp Justice, an Iraqi army base in Kadhimiya, a neighborhood of northeast Baghdad, Iraq.

Dec. 30, 2010 – This was the final day Kodachrome film was developed by Dwayne's Photo, the last remaining Kodachrome processor, concluding the iconic film's 74-year run.
Dec. 30, 2015 – A trace of rain was recorded in Excel, Ala.

Dec. 30, 2015 – Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Doug Atkins died at the age of 85 in Knoxville, Tenn. During his career, he played for Tennessee, the Cleveland Browns, the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., Dec. 30, 2017

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.50 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  4.55 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 0.50 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 85.35 inches.

Notes: Today is the 364th day of 2017 and the tenth day of Winter. There is one day 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, December 29, 2017

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 1,613 miles down and 166 miles to go

The Tower of Cirith Ungol
I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past week by logging 12 miles since my last update. I walked/jogged five miles on Saturday, two more on Sunday and five more today (Friday). So far, I’ve logged 1,613 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 166 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about 90.7 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 18th day of the trip past Rauros Falls, which is March 14 on the Middle Earth calendar. I left off my last update on March 12 at Mile 1601, which was where Frodo, Samwise Gamgee and Gollum were inside the giant spider, Shelob’s, lair, feeling around for an opening on the right hand side of the lair. One mile later, at Mile 1602, Sam feels an opening on the right, and one mile later, at Mile 1603, Frodo feels an opening on the left.


One mile later, at Mile 1604, Frodo and Sam’s senses grow numb and they feel things hanging down from the top of the lair. One mile later, at Mile 1605, Sam leaves the righthand-side wall and holds on to Frodo. About 6-1/2 miles later, Frodo finds the opening to the main pit on the left side.


A quarter-mile later, the tunnel forks, but the left tunnel is closed with a door, and Frodo and Sam realize that Gollum is gone. It’s here that Shelob appears, but Frodo uses the Phial of Galadriel to drive off the giant spider. The tunnel rises steeply toward the exit, and they use the short-sword “Sting” to cut through the spider webs.


A quarter-mile later, at Mile 1612, Frodo runs ahead and is stung by Shelob. Sam fights off Gollum, reaches Frodo and drives off the giant spider, but it’s too late. Believing that Frodo is dead, Sam reluctantly takes the Ring and continues on. A half-mile later, Sam reaches the base of a flight of shallow steps to a cleft. A half-mile later, at Mile 1613, from the cleft to the Pass, Sam looks back. Hearing orcs, he puts on the Ring. When the orcs reach Frodo, Sam rushes back.


Sam follows the orcs back to the closed door in the Lair and hears the orcs say that Frodo isn’t dead. Sam climbs over the door and runs down the Under-way only to knocks himself out against the Tower door. It’s here that Sam sleeps through the night. At noon on March 14, Sam wakes up, returns through the Under-way and exits Shelob’s Lair. He reaches the cleft by the Tower of Cirith Ungol, puts on the ring, which lets him hear fighting in the Tower. He runs over the crown of the path and removes the Ring. He then climbs to the top of the Tower and rescues Frodo.


The next significant milestone comes at the start of the next day when Frodo and Sam reach the gate to the Tower around 5 a.m.


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 Dec. 29, 2017

Dec. 29, 1427 – The Ming army began its withdrawal from Hanoi, ending the Chinese domination of Đại Việt.

Dec. 29, 1778 - British Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell and his force of between 2,500 and 3,600 troops, which included the 71st Highland regiment, New York Loyalists, and Hessian mercenaries, launched a surprise attack on American forces defending Savannah, Georgia, causing American Major General Robert Howe and his paltry force of between 650 and 900 men to evacuate the city.

Dec. 29, 1808 – Future U.S. President Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, N.C.

Dec. 29, 1809 – Prominent Freemason Albert Pike was born in Boston, Mass. He would go on to become an attorney, a Confederate officer and a writer. He passed away at the age of 81 on April 2, 1891 in Washington, D.C.

Dec. 29, 1824 - Leon County, named for Ponce De Leon and originally part of both Escambia and Jackson County, and later a part of Gadsden County, was created today by the Territorial Legislature.

Dec. 29, 1830 - Nine missionaries issued a proclamation defending the Cherokee against the actions of Georgia in the state’s attempts to remove the tribe from their lands. Georgia would pass a law sentencing anyone living in Cherokee territory to four years of hard labor, if they had not sworn allegiance to Georgia.

Dec. 29, 1835 – The Rees Plantation at Spring Garden, owned by Colonel Orlando Rees was destroyed by the Seminole at the beginning of the Second Seminole War. (Spring Garden later became the De Leon Springs State Park.)

Dec. 29, 1835 - The Cherokee Indian Treaty Party signed the Treaty of New Echota, ceding their lands east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. government. The Cherokees were to receive five million dollars and land in the western Indian Territory. Alabama created the new counties of Cherokee, DeKalb and Marshall from the ceded land and the Cherokees began their infamous “trail of tears.”

Dec. 29, 1838 – The “Cherokee Indian Citizenship Act” was signed by Gov. George Gilmer of Georgia, granting full citizenship to 22 named families of mixed Cherokee and white ancestry that had been exempted from the force removal earlier in 1838. Many of these families were related and lived in the same community along the southern border of the Cherokee Nation, near present-day Suwanee. Prior to the Cherokee land lottery of 1832, most of the families had plantations, while some operated ferries on the Chattahoochee River. Their land was taken from them and distributed to whites in 1832, but by the time of the Cherokee removal, most of the families had been able to repurchase their land.

Dec. 29, 1841 – Coffee County, Ala. was created by act of the state general assembly, formed from the western part of Dale County. Bounded on the north by Pike County, on the east by Dale County, on the south by Geneva County and on the west by Covington and Crenshaw County. It was named after John R. Coffee (1772-1833), a hero and general in the War of 1812 and the Creek War of 1813-14 and later a surveyor for the state. Its seat of justice was at Wellborn until 1852 when it was moved to Elba.

Dec. 29, 1845 - U.S. President James Polk and signed the “Joint Resolution for the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union,” making Texas the 28th state of the United States.

Dec. 29, 1847 – Choctaw County, Ala. was created by act of the state general assembly from portions of Washington County and Sumter County. Bordered on the north by Sumter County, on the east by Marengo County and Clarke County, on the south by Washington County and on the west by Mississippi. Name is that of the Indian tribe who lived in southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama. It is derived from the Choctaw term chahta, whose meaning is unknown. Buter is the county seat.

Dec. 29, 1861 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought near Hopoeithleyohola in the Indian Territory.

Dec. 29, 1861 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Commerce and an attack was carried out on the steamboat “City of Alton” in Missouri.

Dec. 29, 1861 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Braxton Courthouse, Clay and Webster in West Virginia.

Dec. 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, at the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, Union General William T. Sherman was thwarted in his attempt to capture Vicksburg, Miss., the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, when he ordered a frontal assault on entrenched Rebels. Union loses totaled some 1,770 men while the Confederates lost around 200. The attack was a mistake by Sherman, who should have never tried to go up against fortified Rebels across open ground.

Dec. 29, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Boston, Johnson’s Ferry and Rolling Fork in Kentucky; and at Huntingdon, Lizzard, near Murfreesborough, Wilkinson Crossroads and Moccasin Gap, in Tennessee.

Dec. 29, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Waldron, Ark.; at Coldwater, Miss.; and at Cleveland, La Vergne, Mossy Creek and Talbott’s Station, in Tennessee.

Dec. 29, 1863 – 59TH ALABAMA: The 59th Alabama took part in the Battle at Mossy Creek, Tenn. and Talbot Station, Tenn.

Dec. 29, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes occurred at Hillsborough and Pond Springs in Alabama.

Dec. 29, 1878 - The first game was played between two teams of the first professional baseball league in Cuba, later known as the Cuban League. Representing the city of Havana, the Habana club faced off against their greatest rivals, a club from the neighboring suburb of Almendares. Habana, coached by Esteban Bellán, the first Cuban to play professional baseball in the United States, won that inaugural game 21-20.

Dec. 29, 1890 – The Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation occurred as 300 Lakota were killed by the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment.

Dec. 29, 1908 - The stork visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Dean on this Tuesday and gave into their care a bright little girl, according to The Evergreen Courant.

Dec. 29, 1910 – The Manistee & Repton Railway was officially incorporated.

Dec. 29, 1910 – The Conecuh Record reported that P.M. Skinner’s cotton gin in Castleberry, Ala. burned and was a total loss.

Dec. 29, 1914 – P.D. Jackson “killed a monster catamount” in Conecuh County’s Sandy Creek Swamp. Jackson had to shoot the large cat six times before killing it.

Dec. 29, 1914 - George Hillery Oswald, who was around 46 years old, was seriously injured when he fell from the roof of a two-story building he was working on in Evergreen, Ala. He later died from his injuries. Born on 1869, he passed away on July 7, 1915 and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.

Dec. 29, 1915 – The Rev. C.A. Williams, the new pastor of the Monroeville, Ala. circuit, arrived on this Wednesday evening with his family and settled into the parsonage.

Dec. 29, 1915 - The French National Assembly passed a law formally ceding the land that held the British war cemeteries to Great Britain. The move ensured even as the war was being fought that its saddest and most sacred monuments would be forever protected.

Dec. 29, 1916 – James Joyce published his first novel, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

Dec. 29, 1937 – Babe Ruth returned to baseball as the new manager of the Class D De Land Reds of the Florida State League. Ruth had retired from baseball in 1935.

Dec. 29, 1939 – The first flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator took place.

Dec. 29, 1939 – Pro Football Hall of Fame middle linebacker Ray Nitschke was born in Elmwood Park, Ill. He would go on to play for Illinois and the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.

Dec. 29, 1940 - On this evening during World War II, on the 114th straight night of “The Blitz,” German forces began firebombing the city of London with such intensity that the fires that erupted became known as "The Second Great Fire of London."

Dec. 29, 1947 – The Loretto Saints handed Evergreen High School’s boys basketball team their first loss of the season, beating them 26-24 in Montgomery. Benton Carpenter led Evergreen with 10 points, and Bill Carr led Loretto with 10 points.

Dec. 29, 1949 – The Monroe Journal reported that a $250 reward had been posted by Rep. W.W. Garrett of Uriah for information leading to the conviction of the automobile driver responsible for the hit and run killing of 14-year-old Vivian Murphy in Uriah on the night of Dec. 20. The Murphy girl was struck down about 6:20 p.m. as she walked to a play rehearsal with two girl companions who leaped clear of the speeding automobile. A victim of infantile paralysis, Murphy had only recently undergone an operation which enabled her to remove one of the two braces she had worn since infancy.

Dec. 29, 1949 – The Monroe Journal reported that the five Monroe County high schools, following a two-week Christmas vacation, were scheduled to return to “hardwood warfare in earnest” the next week with all schools except Uriah scheduled to play two games. To date, Monroe County High had the best record of any county school – having racked up three victories against one defeat. The Tigers held wins over Beatrice, Excel and Greenville, and dropped their lone decision to T.R. Miller High in Brewton, 39-33.

Dec. 29, 1949 – The Monroe Journal reported that “improvement of recreational facilities at Little River State Park near Uriah” was on the agenda of the state Department of Conservation in 1950, according to Department Director Bert Thomas. “Pointing out that facilities at the park are used by various clubs and civic organizations for camping and recreational purposes and that facilities there are also used by Forestry students at Auburn, Mr. Thomas said that tables would be added, picnic space increased and various other improvements made during 1950.”

Dec. 29, 1953 - The “Beast of Bladenboro” case began on this night when a woman in Clarkton, N.C. chased away what appeared to be an abnormally large feline from her neighbor’s property. Next, on New Year’s Eve, Roy Fores, the Bladenboro police chief, was called to an area farm where two dogs had recently been killed.

Dec. 29, 1962 - Saigon announced that 4,077 strategic hamlets had been completed out of a projected total of 11,182.

Dec. 29, 1965 - CBS acquired the rights to the NFL regular-season games in 1966 and 1967, with an option for 1968, for $18.8 million per year.

Dec. 29, 1966 - Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Sylvester admited that the North Vietnamese city of Nam Dinh had been hit by U.S. planes 64 times since mid-1965, and that the air strikes were directed only against military targets: railroad yards, a warehouse, petroleum storage depots, and a thermal power plant.

Dec. 29, 1966 - Student-body presidents from 100 U.S. colleges and universities signed an open letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson expressing anxiety and doubt over U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Dec. 29, 1970 - The Old St. Stephen Site at St. Stephens in Washington County, Ala. was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Dec. 29, 1972 – Eastern Airlines Flight 401 (a Lockheed L-1011) “disintegrated” over land within a short distance of the Miami airport with a loss of over 100 passengers and crew.

Dec. 29, 1975 - A fire in the rear of Harper’s Furniture Co. on West Front Street in Evergreen, Ala. did little damage on this Monday night, thanks to its discovery by city police and prompt and efficient work by the Evergreen Fire Department.

Dec. 29, 1976 – American actor, producer, and screenwriter Danny McBride was born in Statesboro, Ga.

Dec. 29, 1978 – The site of the H.L. Hunley submarine sinking was placed on National Register of Historic Places.

Dec. 29, 1980 - Three Texans suffered severe burns when they encountered a fire blasting diamond-shaped UFO. One of the victims in the Cash-Landrum Incident had injuries so severe, a doctor described it as comparable to being "3 to 5 miles from the epicenter of Hiroshima."

Dec. 29-30, 1980 – Monroe Academy’s boys basketball team won Sparta Academy’s Holiday Tournament in Evergreen, and Fort Dale Academy’s girls won the girls division. In the opening round, Sparta’s boys defeated Wilcox Academy’s Wildcats handily, 76-64, as Jeff Johnson scored 30 points and Vince Watts scored 20. Joe McInvale had eight; Ed Carrier and Terry Shipp, seven each; Scotty Grace, three; and Andy Hammonds, one. Monroe’s Vols outshot the Warriors, 75-60, in the championship game in spite of Terry Shipp hitting for 19 points and Jeff Johnson 17. Joe McInvale added eight; Vince Watts, six; Andy Hammonds, four; Wes Brown, three; and Ed Carrier, two. Cathy Cope was the only Warrior girl in double figures as she meshed 10 points in a game won by Fort Dale, 39-29, in the championship tilt. Karen Brown had seven points; Cheri Johnson, six; Julie Saunders, four; and Missy Price, two. Julie Saunders, Karen Brown and Jeff Johnson were named to the All Tournament teams.

Dec. 29, 1982 - Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant ended his football coaching career at Alabama with 323 wins.

Dec. 29, 1982 – The Seaboard Coast Line Railroad merged with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad to form the Seaboard System Railroad.

Dec. 29, 1983 - Glenn Padgett killed a big wildcat “almost in my front yard” on this Thursday at his home on Route C. The wildcat weighed 26 pounds.

Dec. 29, 1983 - An errant vehicle almost demolished Willie Rogers Barbecue on Willie Rogers Road when it left the road on this Thursday night and plowed into the building. The barbecue place was a local landmark and the barbecue served there for nearly 50 years was famous over a wide area. The business was established by the late Willie Rogers in the 1930s and had been operated by his wife, Rachel, since his death.

Dec. 29, 1986 - The televison program “Seasons of Belief,” teleplay by Alabama author Robert McDowell, was broadcast as part of the “Tales from the Darkside” series.

Dec. 29, 2000 – E. Elias Merhige’s “Shadow of the Vampire,” which was released on this day, tantalized audiences with the unsettling suggestion that the monstrous Nosferatu (Willem Dafoe), who assumed the title role in the classic film by F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich), was, in reality, actually portrayed by a real vampire, rather than an actor.

Dec. 29, 2000 - Alabama author Bill Easterling died in Huntsville, Ala.

Dec. 29, 2007 – Sparta Academy’s varsity boys and varsity girls basketball teams captured first place trophies in the South Choctaw Holiday Tournament in Toxey.

Dec. 29, 2007 – Hillcrest High School’s varsity boys basketball team beat Alabama Christian Academy, 67-59, during the Capital City Conference Christmas Basketball Tournament at Trinity Presbyterian School in Montgomery.

Dec. 29, 2007 - The New England Patriots became the first NFL team in 35 years to finish the regular season undefeated (16-0) when they beat the New York Giants 38-35.

Dec. 29, 2009 - Sparta Academy senior D.J. Buckhault led the Warriors in scoring during a pair of games in the Montgomery Basketball Classic. In a second-round game that tipped off on this Monday at 8 a.m., Buckhault led the Warriors with a team-high 20 points, six rebounds and two steals in a 63-48 loss to Morgan Academy. Buckhault scored five points and grabbed three rebounds in a 57-29 opening round loss to Lee-Scott Academy on Sat., Dec. 27.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., Dec. 29, 2017

Rainfall (Past 24 Hours): Trace.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.50 inches.

Month to Date Rainfall:  4.55 inches.

Winter to Date Rainfall: 0.50 inches.

Year to Date Rainfall: 85.35 inches.

Notes: Today is the 363rd day of 2017 and the ninth day of Winter. There are two 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, December 28, 2017

1918 was an eventful year in American and world history

HMS Hermes (95)

This week’s paper marks the final edition of The Courant for the year 2017, and next week’s paper will be the first edition of the year 2018. Much has taken place in Conecuh County and in the rest of the world during the preceding year, and I’m sure that we’ll be able to say the same this time next year.

Next week in this space, as I usually do on the first Thursday of every month, I’ll offer up my monthly review of all the interesting things that were happening in Conecuh County a century ago, way back in January 1918. The year 1918 was an interesting year in history, and you might be surprised by some of the things that occurred during that year a century ago.

On Jan. 9, 1918, U.S troops engaged Yaqui Indian warriors in what’s now known as the Battle of Bear Valley in Arizona. This skirmish was one of the last battles between the United States and Native Americans. Later, on Jan. 15, the keel of the HMS Hermes, the first purpose-designed aircraft carrier, was laid in Britain. Also that month, the first cases of the 1918 “Spanish flu” were first observed in Haskell County, Kansas.

On Feb. 5, 1918, the SS Tuscania was torpedoed off the Irish coast, becoming the first ship carrying American troops to Europe to be torpedoed and sunk during World War I. The following day, the Representation of the People Act was passed in the United Kingdom, giving most women over the age of 30 the right to vote. Later that month, on Feb. 21, the last captive Carolina parakeet, the last breed of parrot native to the eastern U.S., died in the Cincinnati Zoo.

On March 12, 1918, Moscow became the official capital of Soviet Russia. One week later, on March 19, the U.S. Congress established time zones and approved daylight saving time for the first time ever. On March 23, the gigantic German cannon known as the “Paris Gun” began shelling Paris from 71 miles away.

On April 1, 1918, Britain’s Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create the Royal Air Force, which was the first autonomous military Air Force in the world. Later that month, on April 21, Manfred von Richtofen, the famous fighter pilot known as the “Red Baron,” died in combat at Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme River.

On May 2, 1918, General Motors acquired the Chevrolet Motor Co., and on May 15, the U.S. Post Office began regular airmail service between New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. On June 1, World War I’s famous Battle of Belleau Wood began. Also in June, the “Spanish flu” became an official pandemic, killed over 30 million people during the ensuing six months.

On July 15, 1918, World War I’s Second Battle of the Marne began with a German attack near the Marne River. Two days later, the Romanov family was executed in Russia by Bolsheviks, resulting in the deaths of former emperor Nicholas II, his wife, five of their children and their retainers. On Aug. 21, World War I’s Second Battle of the Somme began, and six days later, at what’s now known as the Battle of Ambos Nogales, the U.S. Army skirmished against Mexican and German forces at Nogales, Ariz. in the only World War I battle fought on American soil.

September 1918 was marred by a number of World War I battles, including the Battle of Dobro Pole, the Battle of Megiddo, the Battle of Sharon, the Battle of Nablus, the Battle of Nazareth, the Capture of Damascus and the Allied breakthrough of the Hindenburg Line on Sept. 29. On Oct. 8, U.S. Army Corporal Alvin C. York almost single-handedly killed 25 German soldiers and captured 132 in the Argonne Forest in France.

On Nov. 11, 1918, World War I ended when Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies inside a railroad car in the Compiegne Forest in France. Less than a month later, on Dec. 4, President Woodrow Wilson departed by ship to the Paris Peace Conference, becoming the first U.S. President to travel to Europe while in office.

As you can see, 1918 was an eventful year in American and world history. Who’s to say what 2018 will bring, but I’m sure that it will likely be as eventful as that remarkable year a century ago.