"Tee-Tot" Payne

Rufus Payne was born in Lowndes County, Alabama in 1884.  By 1890 his father, a mule-driver, had moved the family to New Orleans.  Rufus was drawn to music, and eventually learned to play jazz and the blues.  He also learned to drink, and was given his nickname "Tee-Tot" as a sarcastic shortening of the term "teetotaler".  By 1915 he was back home in Alabama, and Tee-Tot was developing a musical following.  He would play wherever he could find a job, from Montgomery down to Greenville, and sometimes even further south.  In 1932 Tee-Tot was playing down in Georgiana when he met a 9-year-old boy named Hiram.  Hiram would sell peanuts and shine shoes for all of the workers as they passed through the railroad station.  He already had a guitar, but he couldn't play like Tee-Tot, so he convinced Tee-Tot to teach him.  

Like many Americans during the middle of the Great Depression, Hiram and his mom were always moving, but they stayed in the region so Hiram could play with Tee-Tot.  They left Georgiana for Greenville, then spent a year in Garland before moving back to Georgiana.  In 1937 Hiram and his mom moved to Montgomery, and he started singing in front of the WSFA studios downtown.  That fall he won a talent show at the Empire Theater, and a producer at WSFA invited Hiram to starting singing on the radio.  Hiram decided that Hank was a better name for a country music singer, so Hank Williams was born.  Tee-Tot moved to Montgomery and continued to play with his pupil.  Hank started a backup band, the Drifting Cowboys, and dropped out of school in 1938 to start touring full time.  Tee-Tot died the next year and was buried in an unmarked grave in Lincoln Cemetery.  There are no surviving photographs of Tee-Tot Payne, and he was never recorded playing music, but he left a lasting mark on county music through his star pupil, Hank Williams.

The next few photos show the Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne historical marker, the reverse side with general information on Lincoln Cemetery, the large stone memorial to Tee-Tot erected by Hank Williams Jr., and the front gate of the cemetery.

Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne historical maker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Rufus Payne, 1884-1939
’Tee-Tot’, mentor of Hank Williams

Born in Lowndes County, Alabama, Rufus Payne grew up in New Orleans in the midst of jazz musicians. Young Payne learned every instrument possible. At death of his parents, he came back to Greenville where he soon had a following of both races, playing jazz and blues for all segments of society. In nearby Georgiana he met young Hank Williams, an eager student of the rhythm and beat of Tee-Tot’s music. In 1937, Williams moved to Montgomery and soon thereafter Tee-Tot came to the city where he lived until his death in 1939, a friend of Williams’ family and mentor to the singer-composer. Hank Williams stated that Payne was his only teacher. Tee-Tot died a pauper and lies here in an unmarked grave.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2001

Lincoln Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lincoln Cemetery
1907

In 1907 the American Securities Company opened Lincoln Cemetery for African Americans and Greenwood Cemetery for whites, the first commercial cemeteries in the city. Landscape design indicates Olmstead influences with curving drives and two circular sections. Space allotted for 700 graves with first interment in 1908. Most graves are simple concrete slabs with evidences of African-American funerary art and late-Victorian motifs. Marble markers denote members of Mosaic Templars of America, black benevolent society, or graves of veterans. American Securities owned site until tax-exemption ended in 1957. Vandalism and neglect have seriously damaged graves and landscape.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2001

"Tee Tot" Rufus Payne memorial, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Tee-Tot

Hank met Tee-Tot around 1933 on the street in Georgiana, Alabama. Tee-Tot helped Hank with guitar chords, rhythm, and was very instrumental in Hank’s learning sing and play the “blues”.

Hank’s mother fed Tee-Tot in exchange for Hank’s guitar lessons. They moved to Greenville, Tee-Tot’s hometown, in the summer of 1934. They continued to work together until the Williams’ moved to Montgomery in July 1937.

Tee-Tot died at a charity hospital in Montgomery March 17, 1939 at about age 55. His death certificate showed a Montgomery address.

Front of Lincoln Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Some of the people behind the musical Hank Williams: Lost Highway developed a playlist of the kinds of music young Hiram would have likely learned from Tee-Tot, which you can listen to here.  Hank Williams Jr. wrote a song called Tee-Tot, and you can watch him perform that song live here.  

 

The Winter Building

We're back to downtown Montgomery for this post.  John Gindrat wasn't one of the original inhabitants of the city of Montgomery, but he was one of the early power players.  He built the first brick house in the city, and served as mayor on two separate occasions.  He also donated part of the land for the original First Baptist Church.  In 1841 he built what would become the Winter Building on Court Square to serve as the Montgomery branch of the Bank of St. Mary's.  John Gano Winter operated the Bank out of Columbus, Georgia, and soon John Gano Winter's son Joseph married John Gindrat's daughter Mary Elizabeth.  In 1848, Joseph Winter and his father-in-law opened a new bank, J.S. Winter & Co., in the Winter Building.  John Gindrat died in 1854, and the building passed to his daughter Mary Elizabeth.

On February 4, 1861, the Montgomery Convention convened at the Alabama State Capitol.  The purpose of the Convention was to organize the preliminary government of the Confederate States of America.  The Convention's most famous attendee was former President John Tyler, who served as one of the delegates for Virginia until his death less than a year later.  The Confederate States Army was established in March, and P.G.T. Beauregard was commissioned as the first Confederate general officer.  He was immediately sent to  Charleston, South Carolina to take control of the siege of Fort Sumter.  That same week, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, and was immediately saddled with the Fort Sumter crisis.

On April 6th, Lincoln notified the government of South Carolina that the U.S. was sending supplies to their troops at Fort Sumter, but he did not communicate to the C.S.A. government in Montgomery.  South Carolina governor Francis W. Pickens notified General Beauregard of the pending re-supply mission, and Beauregard sent word back to Montgomery.  C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis met with his cabinet on April 9th, and the decision was made to have Beauregard make one final demand to surrender the fort.  If the U.S. forces refused, Beauregard was ordered to destroy the fort before the supplies could arrive.  The Montgomery office of the Southern Telegraph Company was on the second floor of the Winter Building, and on April 11th the final pre-war communication from President Davis to General Beauregard was sent by C.S.A Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker.  In local lore, this has gone down as the Telegram Which Began The War Between The States.  This telegram is the Winter Building's biggest claim to fame.

The next three photos show the Winter Building from Court Square in 1890, 1938, and today.

The Winter Building in 1890, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

The Winter Building in 1938, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

The Winter Building from Court Square, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Our next photo shows the front of the Winter Building, followed by the Winter Building historical marker and its text, the reverse side showing the Telegram Which Began The War Between The States and its text, and finally we have a map showing the location of the marker and the building.

Front of the Winter Building from Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Winter Building historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Winter Building

Built in 1841 by John Gindrat to house the Montgomery branch of the Bank of St. Mary’s. In 1854 was willed to his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Winter. On April 11, 1861, Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker sent telegram from second floor offices of Southern Telegraph Company to Charleston authorizing Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard to fire on Fort Sumter. Subsequent bombardment was first military action of War Between the States. Building placed on National Register of Historic Places, 1972, and restored in 1978.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1981

Reverse of the Winter Building historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Telegram Which Began War Between The States

Montgomery, April 11, 1861

General Beauregard, Charleston:

Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that in the meantime he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are thus authorized to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgement decides to be most practicable.

L.P. Walker
Sec. of War, C.S.A.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1981
 

The Winter Building has been empty for several years now, but it is currently planned as one of the centerpieces of the new Montgomery Market District.

Pike Road School

In 1997, Pike Road became the first incorporated town in Montgomery County other than the city of Montgomery.  However, the community of Pike Road is much older.  In fact, Pike Road was home to the very first consolidated school in Montgomery County all the way back in 1918.

In the fall of 1918, the Montgomery County Board of Education opened the Pike Road School.  It originally sat on thirty acres and cost $40,000.  The school's concept was novel enough to have it included as part of Alabama's exhibit eight years later at the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition, a 1926 world's fair in Philadelphia.  The school had 27 graduating classes, and from 1945 to 1970 it continued to operate as a junior high school.  

In 2010, the town of Pike Road created the Pike Road Schools system, and on August 13, 2015 the new Pike Road School opened off Marler Road.  The first campus is currently housing kindergarten through eighth graders, and the first school year will conclude in a little over a month.  In October 2015, Pike Road announced they had purchased the old Pike Road School building, as well as the surrounding 26 acres.  Current plans have the building being renovated and re-opened in January 2017.  I've included an artist's rendering of the old Pike Road School property, followed by a rendering of the new school building.

Historic Pike Road School rendering (image courtesy of the Town of Pike Road)

New Pike Road School site rendering (image courtesy of the Town of Pike Road)

The next two photos show the historical marker and a recent shot of the old school building, pre-renovation.  The text of the marker is in the middle.

Pike Road School historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Pike Road School

Montgomery County’s first school to consolidate rural, one-room school houses into grades one through twelve opened November 11, 1918. The school was built by the Montgomery County Board of Education on 30 acres of land at a cost of $40,000 with monies loaned and donated by families from surrounding settlements. Hailed by the U.S. Commissioner of Education when it was featured in the Alabama Exhibit at the 1926 Sesquicentennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, the school subsequently attracted foreign educators from Europe and South America interested in observing the system. The last graduating class was in 1945; the school remained a junior high school until its closing in May 1970.
— Sponsored by the Pike Road School Alumni Association - Alabama Historical Association - 1997

Old Pike Road School building, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

I definitely plan on revisiting this topic when the building re-opens.  The town of Pike Road encompasses several fascinating old historical communities, and I'll be watching with great interest as they strive to be a fully functioning 21st century town.

 

Wetumpka Impact Crater

This post is going back.  Way, way back.  83 million years back, by some estimates.  You may have already guessed from the title of the post, but if not I'm going to go ahead and spill the beans.  There's a huge crater just east of downtown Wetumpka.  It's really, really big.  The crater is almost five miles across, it was created in the late Cretaceous period, and best estimates put the object that crashed at about 1000 feet wide.  Don't believe me?  Check out these maps.

First, we have a normal topographical map of the area.  Can you make out the crater?

Image courtesy of Auburn University

If your imagination needs a little nudge, here's another view, with the ridges around the crater highlighted.

Image courtesy of the Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce

People have noticed that something weird was happening in Wetumpka, geologically speaking, for nearly 150 years.  In 1891, University of Alabama professor Eugene Allen Smith was the first to note the abnormalities.

Now when one considers that the Mooreville Chalk sets in ... this range of hills ... these outlying tracts become difficult to explain except upon the supposition of a depression of several hundred feet, the whole thickness of the Eutaw strata
— Eugene Allen Smith - Report of the State Geologist, p. 552

It would be almost a century before anyone even considered the possibility that the abnormalities near Wetumpka could be explained by an impact event.  H.J. Melosh wrote the first major work on impact cratering in 1989, and the following excerpt from the preface helps explain why that was the case.

As recently as 1950 most astronomers believed that the lunar craters were giant volcanos, and all but a few geologists derided the idea that the Earth’s surface has been scarred by impact structures kilometers in diameter. A similar lack of appreciation led the eminent geologist G.K. Gilbert in 1896 to reject impact as the process that created Meteor Crater, Arizona. Impact cratering has risen from complete obscurity to become one off the most fundamental geologic processes. One meteoriticist has even suggested that future historians will accord the recognition of impact cratering as equal importance with the development of plate tectonics.
— H.J. Melosh, Impact Cratering: A Geologic Process

A team of geologists, led by Thornton L. Neatherly, visited the site in 1969, and they were the first to hypothesize that the structure was the result of a meteorite impact.  They published a paper in 1976 where they dubbed it the "Wetumpka Astrobleme", astrobleme being Greek for "star wound".  Another team led by Neatherly finally had the opportunity to prove the hypothesis in 1998, when they drilled 630 feet into the center of the crater.  Their findings were published in 1999, and the report showed that the samples of iridium and shocked quartz proved the impact theory.  The historical marker was erected three years later.

Wetumpka Impact Crater historical marker, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

Wetumpka Impact Crater

The ridges located here are the remnants of a six-mile diameter circular feature created some 85 million years ago by an estimated 1,000-foot diameter asteroid. The area at the time of impact was a shallow sea. The ridges consist of a variety of metamorphic rocks and surround a central area comprised of large jumbled blocks of younger geologic strata. Drilling in the central area of the crater recovered fragments of rocks showing characteristic mineral alteration only associated with impact structures. The structure, although known for more than a century, was first identified as an impact crater in the 1970s.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2002

Reverse of the Wetumpka Impact Crater historical marker, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

Site of the Wetumpka Impact Crater historical Marker, U.S. 231, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

Unfortunately, I spent several hours on two separate occasions looking for a spot to take a photo that really conveyed the size and existence of the crater, but I came away empty handed.  The crater is huge, and the entire structure is covered by trees on all sides, so it really just looks like hills.  I suspect that there are a few backyards up on those ridges that might have excellent vistas where you can get a real sense of the circular feature, but I wasn't willing to trespass to find out.  If you know anyone who owns property with that kind of view, let me know and we'll re-visit the topic.

 

The Bus Stop

Rosa Parks.  "The First Lady of Civil Rights".  "The Mother of the Freedom Movement".  Anyone who has ever sat through a U.S. History class knows Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, and that arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  The Boycott was one of the first effective attacks against the Jim Crow Era in the South, and as a result Mrs. Parks became one of the faces of the Civil Rights Movement.  There are several sites and historical markers dedicated to Rosa Parks, and we'll cover all of them eventually, but today we're going to go to the spot where she took her first step into the spotlight.

Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1913.  Her father was a carpenter, and her mother was a teacher.  When she was still young, her parents separated, and her mother moved Rosa and her younger brother to Pine Level, Alabama in the extreme southeastern corner of Montgomery County.  When she was 19, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery.  He was already a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and with his encouragement Rosa finished her high school diploma and went through the extreme hardships and discrimination that came with registering to vote.

Rosa joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, and was chosen as the chapter's secretary.  Around the same time, she worked at Maxwell Air Force Base.  Later she worked for the Durr family as a seamstress and housekeeper.  Rosa and the Durrs became close friends, and with their encouragement and backing she spent the summer of 1955 at the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, Tennessee.  Highlander was dedicated to providing training for anyone who wanted to take an active leadership role in social justice movements.

Now we need to pause to take a quick look at the rules and laws regarding buses in Montgomery in 1955.  An ordinance from 1900 made it legal to racially segregate bus seating, and gave the driver the power to set aside sections for one race, but the ordinance clearly protected anyone from having to give up their seat once they had obtained it.  Over time, that policy was overruled by practice.  By 1955, the standard setup had a sign that marked the first four rows of a bus as "White Only", but the sign could be moved.  Since 75% of all Montgomery bus riders at that time were black, the sign didn't have to be moved often, but if the "White" section filled up, the bus driver could move the sign back a few rows and force anyone sitting there to get up.  This was the system Rosa had experienced her entire adult life.

After her summer at Highlander, Rosa came back to Montgomery and got a job as a seamstress at The Fair Store, located at 28 Monroe Street.  On December 1, 1955 she left work around 6 p.m. and walked out to the closest bus stop to get a ride home.  You can see the spot of the bus stop in the center of the next photo, with the location of the store back and to the right of the small park.

The Bus Ride historical marker, site of the bus stop Rosa Parks used the night she was arrested, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Rosa boarded #2857 and took a seat in the middle section, behind the "Whites Only" sign.  The original bus is now an exhibit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, and you can see a photo of it below.

Montgomery City Lines bus #2857, ridden by Rosa Parks the night she was arrested, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan (Photo courtesy of Alvintrusty - 2015)

Rosa rode the bus for two stops before it pulled up in front of the Empire Theater at 214 Montgomery Street (current location of the Rosa Parks Library & Museum).  The "Whites Only" section of the bus filled up, so the driver came back, moved the sign back a row and told the four African-Americans seated there to get up.  Three of them complied, but Rosa refused, and the driver called the police. The next image shows the arrest report, with J.F. Blake (the bus driver) as the Complainant, and F.B. Day and D.W. Mixon as the responding officers.  I've also included a transcription of the Complaint.

Arrest report for Rosa Parks, 1 December 1955, Montgomery, Alabama (image courtesy of The National Archives)

We received a call upon arrival the bus operator said he had a colored female sitting in the white section of the bus, and would not move back.
We (Day & Mixon) also saw her.
The bus operator signed a warrant for her. Rosa Parks, (cf) 634 Cleveland Court.
Rosa Parks (cf) was charged with chapter 6 section 11 of the Montgomery City Code.
— F.B. Day & D.W. Mixon

Rosa was booked and spent a day in jail.  E.D. Nixon (president of the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP) and Clifford Durr (Rosa's former employer and friend, and a prominent social justice lawyer) were able to bail her out the following evening.  We'll end the story here, for now, with Rosa's mug shot.  I know we're just getting to the good stuff, but I need to save something for the other historical markers dedicated to the Movement that finally got off the ground when a seamstress from Alabama decided she was tired of being treated like she didn't belong.

Mug shot of Rosa Parks, 1 December 1955, following her arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama (photo courtesy of the National Archives)

The following historical marker sits on the former site of the bus stop where Rosa boarded.  The first side discusses the Boycott, while the second gives a brief biography of Rosa.  Photos and transcriptions of both sides are included below, along with another marker placed in the ground by the group who sponsored this historical marker.

The Bus Stop historical marker, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

The Bus Stop
The Montgomery Bus Boycott

At the stop on this site on December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks board the bus which would transport her name into history. Returning home after a long day working as a seamstress for Montgomery Fair department store, she refused the bus driver’s order to give up her seat to boarding whites. Her arrest, conviction, and fine launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Boycott began December 5, the day of Parks’s trial, as a protest by African-Americans for unequal treatment they received on the bus line. Refusing to ride the buses, they maintained the Boycott until the U.S. Supreme Court ordered integration of public transportation on year later. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Boycott, the beginning of the modern Civil Rights Movement.
— Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated during its Centennial Salute, Alabama Historical Association - 2008

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks historical marker, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
A Lady of Courage

Born in Tuskegee, AL on February 4, 1913, to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona Edwards, a teacher. Moved with mother and brother to Pine Level, AL after parents’ separation. Enrolled in Mrs. White’s School for Girls at age 11 and received her high school diploma from Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory high School. Married Montgomery barber Raymond Parks in 1932, both became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which Mrs. Parks served as local chapter secretary. Family relocated to Detriot, MI in 1957 as result of hostility received after her courageous refusal to give up her bus seat. in 1988, the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” was inducted as an honorary member into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest African American sorority in the nation. Rosa Parks was the sole class of 2008 inductee into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
— Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated during its Centennial Salute; Alabama Historical Association - 2008

Alpha Kappa Alpha plaque commemorating the placement of The Bus Stop historical marker, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Commemorating the Centennial
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Here stood Mrs. Rosa Parks
Mother of the Civil Rights Movement and Honorary Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Where she boarded the Montgomery Public Bus
December 1, 1955
— Dr. Barbara A. McKinzie, Centennial International President; Dr. Juanita Sims Doty, Centennial Southeastern Regional Director; Marker dedicated March 2008

As always, I've included a map of the marker at the bottom of the post.  You can also click on the Map link to see the Goat Hill History Master Map, which includes every location we've covered to date.  I'm not going to spoil our next post, but I will say that it involves geology.

 

Lucas Tavern

This is going to be another post that is largely about the photos, as most of the information I have is recounted in the three different historical markers dedicated to this site.  That being said, let's get into the story.

Lucas Tavern was another waypoint for people travelling through Montgomery County in the early days of the Federal Road.  Travelers were expected to make about 15 miles each day, so if you were heading to New Orleans in 1819 you would almost certainly sleep at Lucas Tavern one night and at Manac's Tavern the following night.  Lucas Tavern was located in present-day Waugh, Alabama, a few hundred yards east of Exit 16 on Interstate 85.  There's a plaque there to mark the original location of the Tavern, but that plaque was placed in 2002.  Another plaque was placed on the same spot by the D.A.R. in 1932, but it was moved to downtown Montgomery in 1980 (along with the building itself).  Today, Lucas Tavern is still standing as the starting point of tours in Old Alabama Town.  The third plaque is in front of the Tavern, and matches all of the other information plaques in front of each of the buildings that make up Old Alabama Town.

The Tavern has two big claims to fame.  It's the oldest remaining building in Montgomery County, and it paid host to a visit from the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825.  Lucas Tavern can be seen from the street, but if you want to go inside you'll have to pay the Old Alabama Town admission fee.  I highly recommend it if you're never taken the tour, and we'll be covering the other buildings in future posts.

These first couple of photos show the marker at the original site of the Tavern, along with the transcription and a shot of its surroundings.  Then you'll see a map showing the location of this first marker.

Lucas Tavern historical marker, Waugh, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lucas Tavern
Circa 1818

Stood 2800 feet north of this point, just west of Line Creek on the Federal Road. Moved to Montgomery in 1978 to serve as the Visitor and Information Center for the Old North Hull Historic District, it is the oldest remaining building in Montgomery County. Original proprietor, James Abercrombie, ran it from about 1818. Walter B. Lucas announced his take over of the tavern in the January 6, 1821 issue of the Montgomery Republican. A four-room frame building with a long central hall, the tavern’s most famous guest was Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette who stayed here on April 2, 1825 during his triumphant tour of the United States.
— Sponsored by the East Montgomery County Historical Society, Inc. and Alabama Historical Association, 2002

Setting of Lucas Tavern historical marker, Waugh, Montgomery County, Alabama

 

Next, we have the nearly century-old marker and its transcription, followed by the Old Alabama Town plaque and its transcription, both near the Tavern's current setting.

Original Lucas Tavern D.A.R. historical marker, now standing next to the building in Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Lucas Tavern

Stood four hundred yards North of this point

Lafayette spent the night here April 2, 1825
— Erected by Peter Forney Chapter (D.A.R.) - 1932, replaced - 1980

Lucas Tavern information placard, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Lucas Tavern
Early 19th century

Located on the Federal Road near Line Creek (present Waugh) in eastern Montgomery County, this wayside hotel was built prior to 1818 and was owned by at least two other families before coming in the possession of Walter and Eliza Lucas around January 1821. Originally a two room dogtrot, the building was brought to its present form by the Lucas family in the early 1820s. On April 2, 1825, Eliza entertained the Marquis de Lafayette and his entourage in the Tavern during their trip through the state. The family left for new business ventures in Mississippi in 1842, after with the Tavern became a residence and, eventually, a storage building.
The structure was moved to Old Alabama Town and restored in 1980. It is the oldest standing building in Montgomery County.
— Landmark Foundation of Montgomery, sponsored by Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole & Black, P.C.

Finally, we have two exterior shots of the Tavern and three photos of the interior, followed by a second map showing the Tavern's current location.

Front view of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Side view of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Central hallway of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Front bedroom in Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Rear room with serving kiosk in Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

 

We'll come back to early Alabama history in the future, but our next post is going to move closer to the present.  Thursday we'll look at one of the many historical markers dedicated to an individual who is more synonymous with Montgomery than anyone else, Rosa Parks.

Manac's Tavern

Today we're going to go back to the same spot we covered in the last post, and talk about the other side of that historical marker.  I mentioned Manac's Tavern, and the fact that two groups of Army trailblazers had met in the middle near the marker to finish the Old Federal Road.  Manac's Tavern was that meeting point, and today we're going to look at the owner and operator, Samuel Manac (or, more often, Moniac).

One of the most interesting ideas I've come across so far in my reading for this blog has been the fact that there were actually quite a few European men who had made their way to Creek and Cherokee territory long before the American Revolution, let alone the creation of the Old Federal Road.  I may do enough digging to eventually do a bigger story about that subject as a whole, but today we're going to start with the Moniacs.  It's hard to tell if it was Sam's father or grandfather, but sometime in the second half of the 1700s a Dutch man named William or Dixon (or William Dixon) Moniac moved into the Creek Nation, probably as a trapper.  He married a Creek woman, and his son (or grandson) was Samuel Moniac.  Sam grew up and also married a Creek woman.  Before we get into his story, we need to meet four more men: William Weatherford (aka Red Eagle, Sam's brother-in-law), Alexander McGillivray (aka Hoboi-Hili-Miko, a Creek chief descended from a Scottish soldier on one side and a French soldier on the other) William Augustus Bowles (aka Estajoca, a man from Maryland who had fought with the British in the American Revolution), and Benjamin Hawkins (U.S. Indian Agent, effectively the American Ambassador to the Creek Nation).  All four men are fascinating in their own rights, and we may come back to them in future posts.

William Weatherford, aka Red Eagle, 1814 (image courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives & History)

Alexander McGillivray, aka Hoboi-Hili-Miko (public domain image)

William Augustus Bowles, aka Estajoca, 1791 (image courtesy of The British Museum)

The first interesting Samuel Moniac story I was able to find has Sam and his brother-in-law William Weatherford going with Alexander McGillivray to New York City.  President George Washington invited a group of 30 chiefs, led by McGillivray and including Moniac and Weatherford, to a conference to establish a treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation. The Treaty of New York was signed in 1790 by all 30 chiefs as well as the U.S. representative, Secretary of War Henry Knox.  All 30 chiefs received silver medals from the President, and are sometimes called Medal Chiefs in later stories.

The next story has Moniac and Weatherford being recruited by Benjamin Hawkins to help him deal with the arrival of William Augustus Bowles in Creek territory.  Bowles was wanted by Spain for trouble he had caused in Spanish Florida, and had come to the Creek capital, Hickory Ground, to try to add the Creeks to his forces.  Moniac, Weatherford and Hawkins went to a Great Council at Hickory Ground in May 1803.  Bowles had convinced the majority of the Creeks to side with him, so when Hawkins announced he was there to arrest Bowles, hundreds of guns were drawn.  Moniac and Weatherford walked straight up to Bowles, tied him up, threw him in a canoe and took off down the Alabama River to turn him into the Spanish authorities.  Their audacity, combined with their reputation and high standing in the Nation, allowed them to escape with the prisoner before anyone could shoot.

The final major story in Samuel Moniac's life starts at another Creek Council, this time in 1811.  Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief from present-day Ohio, was there to convince the Creeks to join his war against the encroachment of American settlers.  Moniac was one of the few Creeks willing to speak out and denounce Tecumseh's plans.  The rise of the Red Stick movement eventually led to the Creek War, and in the summer of 1813 Moniac returned home from a trading expedition to find a group of Red Stick leaders waiting for him.  They wanted him to pledge his support for their side, and he refused.  He escaped on horseback under gun fire, and his plantation and tavern on the Federal Road were burned in retaliation.  There are U.S. military documents that show that Moniac led Creek units that fought on the side of the Americans on at least two occasions, he was said to have led General Ferdinand Claibourne's troops to the Battle of Holy Ground, and it's very likely that he was also part of the Creeks who fought on the side of General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  

Samuel Moniac died near Pass Christian, Mississippi in 1836.  He was part of the last major Creek group to leave Alabama on the Trail of Tears.  Nearly a quarter of that group died on the Trail.  Even though Sam had sided with the the United States at every turn, eventually anti-Creek sentiment forced him to leave his home just like almost every other member of the Creek Nation.

As a final side note on the life of Samuel Moniac, his son David also led an interesting life.  David Moniac was invited to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1817, and in 1822 he became both the first Alabamian and first Native American to graduate from West Point.  In 1836, he was the only Native American officer fighting on the side of the United States in the Second Seminole War.  He was killed at the Battle of Wahoo Swamp on November 21, 1836.

Samuel operated a large farm near the Alabama River near Burkville, Alabama in Lowndes County, and he opened his tavern on the Federal Road at the request of Benjamin Hawkins some time after 1800.  The tavern's most famous visitor was Aaron Burr, who spent the night as a prisoner in 1807 on his journey back to Virginia to stand trial for treason.  The first tavern, along with his farm, was burned to the ground by the Red Sticks in 1813, but after the Creek War he rebuilt the tavern.  The first traveler's description of the area to not mention "Manac's Tavern" was written in 1820, so it's likely that by that point Sam and his family had shuttered the business.  The building doesn't survive, but contemporary accounts describe it as a large dogtrot style log cabin, much like this one still standing in north Alabama and built in 1820.

John Looney Pioneer House Museum, Asheville, St. Clair County, Alabama (courtesy of Bjornquist Films)

The historical marker stands about half a mile northeast of the actual site of the tavern, which has been partially excavated by a team from the University of South Alabama in the last decade.  You can read the text in the photo below (sorry for the odd angle, the ground was pretty swampy) or in the following quote.

Manac's Tavern historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Manac’s Tavern

Manac’s Tavern, located near here and nearby Pinchona Creek, was the oldest stand on the Federal Road. Samuel Manac, the proprietor, in 1791 went with Alexander McGillivray to the U.S. capitol in NYC and met George Washington to conclude a peace treaty for the Creek Nation, the U.S.’s first treaty with a foreign power. He married Red Eagle’s sister, Elizabeth. Aaron Burr stayed here in 1807. In 1822 Sam’s son, David Moniac, became the first Indian and first Alabamian to graduate from West Point. In 1836, in the Second Seminole War, Maj. Moniac was killed at Wahoo Swamp leading a unit of Creek militia against the braves of Osceola, who was his wife’s cousin.
— Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, Alabama Historical Association, 1997

Intersection of Cloverfield Road and Federal Road, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

By all accounts, Samuel Moniac lived a fascinating life, and his influence was integral to the early days of Alabama as a Territory and State.  As many stories, or legends, exist around him, he's still somewhat shrouded in mystery.  I found one account of a new book about him being written a few years ago, but I wasn't able to find any updates.  If that book is ever published, maybe we will revisit Mr. Moniac on the blog.  If he really did everything he was purported to have done, he deserves a much higher status in the early annals of Alabama.

Our next post will move north up the Federal Road to another famous tavern.

 

The Old Federal Road

As the 1700s drew to a close, there was no real land route connecting "Washington City" and the rest of the east coast with New Orleans.  Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road could get you to Nashville, but that was the end of the line.  In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sent units of the U.S. Army to develop the Natchez Trace into a road he wanted to call the "Columbian Highway".  The Trace allowed mail delivery and an established route for extremely adventurous souls, but it was long and treacherous.  Jefferson obtained permission from the Creek Nation to build a "horse path" through their territory in 1805, and he saw that as an opportunity to build another road.

Map of the Old Federal Road (courtesy of the University of Alabama)

Several attempts were made to blaze and survey the horse path, and on November 30, 1811 two groups from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Regiment met in what is now southern Montgomery County, completing the Old Federal Road.  The next six months saw nearly 4,000 "immigrants" travel the Road looking for new land and opportunities.  The Red Stick religious movement was already underway in the Creek Nation, and when that movement turned to violence the Road became a war path.  General Andrew Jackson ended the Creek War at the Battle of Horsheshoe Bend, and the subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814 restarted the big land rush.  The next five years of rapid influx and population rise would come to be known as "Alabama Fever".

The next photo shows the marker that was placed near the location of the spot where the trailblazers met and the Road was completed in 1811.  The reverse side is dedicated to nearby Manac's Tavern, but that will be the subject of our next post.  You can read the text of the marker below in the photo or in the subsequent quote.

The Federal Road historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Federal Road

The 1803 Louisiana Purchase acquired 828,000 sq. mi. for the U.S., doubling its size. The Federal Road was built to provide a shorter route from Washington to New Orleans and the new territory. The Treaty of 1805 with the Creeks authorized traversing their lands. Entering Alabama at Ft. Mitchell near Columbus, GA, it came through Mt. Meigs, to Pintlala, Ft. Deposit, Burnt Corn, Ft. Stoddert, then Mobile. The 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson made much fertile Creek land available to grow cotton; this lure, “Alabama Fever”, drew many thousands of settlers to central Alabama. In 1860, spans were still in use, but the Road was gone.
— Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, Alabama Historical Association

Intersection of Cloverfield Road and Federal Road, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

There's a much older marker about two miles west, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1932.  I've included photos of that marker and its surroundings next.

D.A.R. Federal Road historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Intersection of Federal Road and U.S. 31 in Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

My goal in this post was to cover the basic concept of the Old Federal Road.  If you're interested in further reading, there's some great stuff at this website maintained by Auburn University-Montgomery, or if you're really adventurous you can dig into the original report that led to creation of that website.  My next post (or two) will focus on some of the specific locations in the Montgomery area that played a big part in the existence of the Road.

 

William Rufus King

Today's post takes us beyond the borders of Montgomery County for the first time.  45 miles due west of Montgomery, down the Alabama River, you'll find the town of Selma.  In the 21st century, Selma is synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement, and in the future we'll definitely cover that section of the story.  For the purposes of this post, we're visiting Selma to learn about the highest political office holder who ever called Alabama home, Vice President William R. King.

William Rufus King (portrait courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

If we're judging strictly by resume, it's possible that no Vice President has ever been sworn in with more preparation to do the job, but tragically King never performed a single act in his new role.  Before we get to that, let's go back to the beginning.

King was born in North Carolina in 1786.  He came from a wealthy family, and they sent him to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1806, and began practicing law soon after in the town of Clinton.  A year later he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons.  A few years after that he was named city solicitor for Wilmington, and a year after that he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  For two years he served as part of the U.S. diplomatic team in Russia and then in Naples.  When that appointment ended, King came back to the U.S. and decided to "head West".

In 1818, the Alabama Territory was the West, and King purchased a large tract of land on the Alabama River in Dallas County.  He named his plantation Chestnut Hill, and he eventually owned nearly 500 slaves, making him one of the largest slave-owners in the territory.  This freed King up to serve as a delegate to the Alabama State Convention, and the newly elected state legislature chose him as one of the original U.S. Senators for the state of Alabama.  King served as a Senator from 1819 to 1844, when President John Tyler named him Minister to France, where he worked for two years.  He was re-elected to the Senate in 1848.

The 1848 Whig presidential ticket of Zachary Taylor and Millard Filmore defeated the Democratic ticket of Lewis Cass and William Orlando Butler by around five percent of the vote, but then President Taylor died after a little more than a year in office.  President Fillmore waited until just a few months before the 1852 Whig Convention to commit to running for a second term, and his hesitation likely cost him the nomination.  He had a plurality of the votes, but not the required majority (sound familiar?), and after 51 ballots one of his largest voting blocs switched to back General Winfield Scott.  Scott and his running mate, William Alexander Graham, faced off against the Democratic ticket of Franklin Pierce and William Rufus King in the general election.  This is where it gets strange on a historic level.

King contracted tuberculosis, and at his doctor's advice traveled to Cuba to combat his symptoms.  He was elected Vice President, which led him to resign his Senate seat, in late 1852.  When the inauguration was set for March 4, 1853, King was still too sick to travel to Washington, D.C., so he missed it.  Congress had to pass a Special Act, which allowed him to take the oath of office outside of the country.  On March 24, 1853, William Rufus King was sworn in as Vice President of the United States in Matanzas, Cuba.  Eager to get to work, he made plans to journey to Washington after a stop off back in Dallas County.  He died a few days after returning to Chestnut Hill, Vice President in title but not in action.

King was initially buried near his home, but eventually he was moved to a crypt in nearby Selma's Live Oak Cemetery.  You can read the text of the historical marker honoring him in this quote or in the following photo.

William Rufus de Vane King

-1786-1853-

Native Sampson County, North Carolina. Admitted to bar, 1806. North Carolina House of Commons 1807-1809. U.S. Congressman 1811-1816. Secretary U.S. Legation Naples and St. Petersburg 1816-1818.

Moved to Dallas County, Alabama, 1818. A founder of Selma; named city. Delegate Alabama Constitutional Convention 1819. U.S. Senator 1819-1844, 1848-1853. U.S. Minister to France 1844-1846. President pro tempore U.S. Senate 1836-1840, 1850-1852. Vice President of United State, 1852.
— Alabama Historical Association, 1972

Historical marker for William Rufus King, Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

The next two photos show his crypt, as well as view of the surrounding cemetery.

Crypt of William Rufus King, Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AlabamaT

In addition to the historical marker in the Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, another marker was erected twenty years earlier in Matanzas, Cuba.  I wasn't able to find a photo of the marker, but I did find the text, quoted here.

William Rufus King

Vice Presidente De Los Estados Unidos De America

(1786-1853)

By authority of a special act of Congress, he took the oath of office as Vice-President of the United States at Matanzas, Cuba on March 24, 1853.

He came to this beautiful and hospitable land seeking health.

He died at his home in Dallas County, Alabama, April 18, 1853.

The people of Alabama are honored to join with the people of Cuba in commemorating this historical event which so closely ties our two republics together.
— Alabama Historical Association, Marzo 24 de 1953

Finally, I was able to find an old photo of the Prince Charley Oak, which was given to King by the Marquis de Lafayette during his 1825 visit to Alabama.  This was twenty years before King served as Minister to France, so I'm not sure if the gift was simply a result of King's status as a U.S. Senator, or whether their paths had crossed in some other way.  This is the first mention of Lafayette's visit on the site, but I assure you it won't be the last.

"Prince Charley Oak", gifted to King by Lafayette during his 1825 visit to Alabama (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History, 1935)

Alabama has never had a President, and it has only technically had this one Vice President, but that means William Rufus King is still a pretty big deal.  

For our next post, we'll go back to the origins of Alabama Fever.

 

Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church

We're leaving the big city behind for this post.  Everyone in central Alabama knows US Highway 231.  It takes you from Montgomery down to Troy and then on to Dothan.  Eventually it will take you all the way to Panama City, Florida.  But before all of that, US-231 takes you to the southeastern corner of Montgomery County.  

Just before you hit the county line, take AL-94 north.  A few more turns will bring you to the Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church.  I assure you, if there is a single historical marker in Montgomery County that no one has ever accidentally passed by, this would be that marker.  But that's a shame, because the church and its grounds are beautiful.  I don't have a lot of information to share about the church, so this post will mostly be about the photos, but if you ever find yourself wanting to go for a drive in southern Montgomery County, this is definitely a spot worth visiting.

Wide view, Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

As you can see, the church is exceedingly well cared for, with exceptional landscaping and a picturesque stone wall surrounding the cemetery on both sides of the church's rear.  You can read the historical marker text in the quote or in the next photo.

Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church

Constituted on August 27, 1842 on this site with six charter members including Moses and Sarah Rushton, Susannah Rushton, William and Emily Miley, and James Gardner. First structure built of logs by master carpenter Jesse Yon on land given by Moses Rushton, who moved to Montgomery County from Orangeburg District S.C.

Present Colonial Revivial building completed in 1931. Architect was Frank W. Lockwood and landscape architect was Graham M. Rushton.
— Alabama Historical Association, 1989

Historical Marker, Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

The current building just entered its 85th year.  

The next four photos show a closeup of the church's front, as well as closer views of the cemetery and the Dinner On The Grounds pavilion on the north side of the property.

Front view, Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

South side cemetery, Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

Building, grounds, and pavilion, Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

North side cemetery and pavilion, Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

I also stumbled across this U.S. Geological Survey marker in the ground just a few feet from the cemetery wall on the south side of the church.

U.S. Geological Survey marker, Pisgah Primtive Baptist Church, Montgomery County, Alabama

As you can probably tell from the shadows in the earlier pictures, I was really racing the light by the time I got to the church, so I decided to stick around for a few minutes to get a shot of the sunset.  This was taken from the church's front steps.

Sunset, Grady, Alabama

As I mentioned earlier, there isn't a lot of history in this post.  The church is technically in Grady, but it's really in the middle of nowhere.  The original congregation came together four years before the state capital moved to Montgomery, and they were celebrating their tenth anniversary when the final touches were put on the current capitol building.  To make up for the lack of historical facts, our next post will take us to Selma to learn which Alabamian is the highest office holder in the history of the United States.

 

The Lions of Court Square

We're looking at out first historical marker today, but it's not the traditional roadside metal plaque on a post you might be thinking about.  This is a stone stele in downtown Montgomery with 4 lion heads around the top.

Decorative Lions Heads on their stele on the north side of Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

If you've ever been to Court Square in Montgomery, you've certainly seen the fountain that dominates the roundabout.  We'll cover the fountain in a later post, but just northeast of the fountain is a small triangular park, and you'll find the lion heads on the western tip.  Drivers probably pass them all the time and think "why did someone put four lion heads on a post?"  If only they all read Goat Hill History.

In 1888, Montgomery's largest business was the Moses Brothers Banking & Realty Company, and they built the city's first "skyscraper", a six-story building on Court Square.  That building was demolished in 1907 to make way for the new twelve-story home of the First National Bank of Montgomery.  The top of the building was lined with a few dozen lion heads, as you can see in the next photo.

First National Bank of Montgomery in 1960 (photo courtesy of the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History)

The name of the bank changed a few times, and in 1978 the the building received the most significant renovation in its lifetime.  The lions were left homeless, and the next photo shows the end result for the "skyscraper".

The Rensant Bank today

Someone at the bank decided that at least a few of the lion heads were worth saving, and the existing monument is the result of that effort.  You can read the plaque's inscription here, or see the next photo.

Decorative Lions Heads
1907 - 1978

Presented to Montgomery by the First Alabama Bank of Montgomery, N.A.

These decorative terra cotta lions heads, typical of the ornamentation used in commercial style architecture in the early par of the 20th Century, were utilized by the First National Bank of Montgomery on the cornice of their 12 story building from 1907 to 1978. Organized on April 18, 1871, the first location of the bank was on Dexter Avenue which was then called Market Street. In 1975, the name of the bank was changed to First Alabama Bank of Montgomery, N.A. Extensive renovations to the 12 story building in 1978, including the removal of the lions heads, created a new look for First Alabama and the downtown Montgomery area.

Decorative Lions Heads plaque, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Closeup of the Decorative Lions Heads, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

The lion heads didn't alter the course of the nation, or even the course of the city, but they're a fun little oddity.  Be sure to check back next week, where we'll venture way out of town for the most remote historical marker in Montgomery County.

 

Why "Goat Hill"?

Because it's a cool name, next question ... ok, it is a cool name, but I didn't pull it out of thin air.  It's time for a history lesson.

The Alabama Territory was split off from the larger Mississippi Territory in 1817.  The territorial capital was placed in St. Stephens, a town that doesn't even exist anymore.  Two years later, Montgomery was officially incorporated, and about two weeks after that Alabama became the 22nd state.  Huntsville was the first state capital during the constitutional convention, but one of Montgomery's founders had a vision of his centrally located town as the ideal capital location, so he set aside a piece of prime real estate.  A year later the new legislature chose Cahawba as the "permanent" state capital, but the founder was hopeful, so he kept the prominent hill empty, and left it to his goats.  Following catastrophic floods in 1825, Cahawba was devastated and the capital was moved ... to Tuscaloosa.  

Many, many goats lived and died on that hill, but Montgomery was patient.  Finally, in 1846 the good people of Alabama saw reason, Montgomery was announced as the new state capital, and preparations were made to turn Goat Hill into Capitol Hill.  Luckily for us, that's a boring name, and so through the years locals have held on to the original.  There's even a store inside the capitol building that retains the Goat Hill moniker.

Goat Hill Museum Store, inside the Alabama State Capitol building

Goat Hill is a great, evocative name, and I couldn't think of anything better to use for this website.  I went downtown to get some photos of the site that really show off the hill, and hopefully give you an idea of what it might have looked like back in 1845 when the goats were served their eviction papers.

Alabama State Capitol, looking uphill and east from the Court Square Fountain

Alabama State Capitol, looking up from the base of the steps

Grounds of the Alabama State Capitol, from the north

So, now you know where the name Goat Hill comes from, and you've seen that it really is a pretty decently sized hill.  A lot has happened around that hill, both before the big white building was put there, and since.  Montgomery really was the most logical choice for a state capital.  It's almost smack dab in the middle of the state.  It's on the banks of one of the major rivers.  The old Federal Road went right through town ... but now I'm getting ahead of myself, those are all stories for later.  Once again, welcome to Goat Hill History, hope to see you again in the future.

 

How to Follow Goat Hill History

I promise, I have the first real post with history in it coming tomorrow, but leading up to that I realized it wouldn't hurt to spell out how people can follow along and make sure they're notified when new content goes up.  You don't necessarily need to do all of these things, it mostly goes to which way you already consume other content.  However, it does help increase Goat Hill History's profile the more you Like or Follow or Link or Comment, so go crazy if you want.

GoatHillHistory.com is its own website, so if you want you can just type that into your preferred internet browser whenever you get the notion and browse around.  This is the old school way, and it still works, but obviously it suffers from you needing to think "huh, I haven't been to that site in days, I should probably go see what awesome things are happening".  That takes a lot of work on your part.

Alternatively, if you're a Facebook person, we have a Facebook page.  It's Facebook.com/GoatHillHistory.  If you go to that link, and then Like that page (the page itself, up at the top of the page to the right of the Goat Hill logo), then whenever there's a new post on the website, there's automatically a new post on the Facebook page, and it will show up on your Feed.  You'll get to see GHH updates right there with pictures of your grandkids and people telling you who to vote for.

If you're a Twitter person, we have a Twitter account, @GoatHillHistory.  Follow that, and it works pretty much the same as Liking the Facebook page.

There's also a Tumblr, but I'm going to be honest and say even I am not exactly sure the point of having a Tumblr page.  But it's there.  If that's how you roll, follow along at GoatHillHistory.tumblr.com.

Finally, the trusty old RSS feed.  This has fallen out of style, and if you don't already know what this is you can probably just skip this paragraphy, but I love my RSS reader.  There's an RSS icon on the Blog page of the website, over in the sidebar on the right.  If you're a cool kid like me who still rocks TheOldReader or something like that, this is vital.

Thanks for checking us out, and like I said up top, I promise real content tomorrow morning.

An Introduction

This site exists because I decided to "borrow" the idea from a friend, but we'll come back to that in a bit.

My family moved to Montgomery just before I turned seven.  I left the state for college, and then went to a third state for grad school, and never really intended to come back other than on the occasional visit.  Ah, good intentions.  I ended up back in Montgomery, and in the not too distant future I'll mark a full decade here as an "adult".  

Growing up here, I was aware of some of the history.  We learned about Dr. King and the bus boycott, and we went on field trips to Fort Toulouse, or Old Alabama Town, but this was home.  The really exciting parts of history happened across oceans near castles, or far away from here at battlegrounds, or in old parts of big cities with cobbled streets.  I knew some of the basics about this area, but I didn't appreciate its layers or complexities.

Let's go back to my friend.  He's a history guy too, and several weeks ago he told me he was going to start a blog.  He grew up in southern Tennessee, but he's established himself as an "adult" working in Nashville, but living in Murfreesboro.  His idea was to start a blog exploring the history of Murfreesboro.  I'm putting words in his mouth here, but I think he was hoping that it would let him exercise that history part of his brain, it would "force" him to get out and learn more about the history lurking all around him, and maybe it would even lead him to interact with like minded individuals in the area.  I can relate to all three ideas.

So, here we are.  I'm going to dig into the history of Montgomery.  I'm going to start with the historical markers around town.  You know those big brass plaques on posts you might see in front of an old building, or driving down an old road on a family vacation?  Do you have any idea how many of those we have in Montgomery County?  Neither did I.  But I know now.  If you stick around, you'll find out, too.

I'd like to use the markers as a springboard.  I'd love to eventually get suggestions from readers.  Hit the "Contact" page up top to send me a message that way, or hit me up through one of the social media sites or my email address.  I promise, if you send me an idea, I'll get back to you.

In closing, check out my friend's site.  It's called Hidden Murfreesboro, and you can click here to get there.  Not only did he inspire this site, but he created the logo for me.  The original concept was mine, but he made it real, and then he added the cross from the state flag.  I think it really ties things together.

My plan is to have two posts a week to start, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday.  So, if you're reading this when it's new, come back in a few days.  Follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to the RSS feed so you'll get a reminder when a new post hits.  Thanks for checking this out.