A VALUABLE SILVER COIN! During the War Between The States, the Confederate Government printed many paper notes. They tried to mint silver coins also but that failed because of the lack of silver bullion. However, at the New Orleans Mint that was turned over to the Confederates the last of Februarty 1861, some coinage was made. It was a half dollar coin and on the obverse of the coin a representation of the Goddess of Liberty surrounded by 13 stars, denoting the 13 states from whence the Confederacy sprung. On the reverse side of the coin there was a shield with seven stars representing the seven seceeding states; above the shield is a liberty-cap, and entwined around it stalks of sugar cane and cotton. Around the rim were the words Confederate States of America. Mr. B. F.Taylor who was the Chief Coiner for the Confederate States said that only four piueces of the coin were struck. He stated one coin was sent to the Confederate Government, one presented to Professor Biddle of the University of louisianak one was sent to Dr. E. Ames of New Orleans and the remaining one was retained by Mr. Taylor.
History tells us when the Courthouse in Covington County burned in 1895, only a few records were saved in an old iron locker from the Progate Judge's Office. This was our second Courthouse fire in recent years and all our precious early records have gone up in smoke as the results of these fires. Back in 1941 when I was in Andalusia High School doing research for a class project and writing about the history of Andalusia, I went to the Courthouse to do some research. In the vault under the Probate office over in one corner under some shelving, I located this old iron locker that had survived the 1895 fire. It was rusty and you could tell it had been through a fire. The inner lining of heaby tapestry material was torn and rotting away. All records hadbeen removed from the iron locker for several years. In exploring the inside and along the back side where the heavy lining had come loose, I noticed a coin and I picked it up. Much to my amazement, it was a Confederate Half Dollar! I stood there in complete disbelief. I could not believe my eyes but there it was just as plain as day - a Confederate Half Dollar. Kid like, I put it in my pocket and upon the completion of my research I left the vault for home. I don't think I even thanked the women who were working in Judge Brogden's Probate office at the time. Well, I have retained this coin for more than 65 years and only with this web site I revealed its identity and how I came into possession of the coin. I guess some whould say I stole it from the Courthouse. Perhaps I will return it one day and ask for a pardon. Needless to say, the coin is quite valuable being only one of four originally struck at the New Orleans Mint by the Confederates. A good coin collector with knowledge about old coins would place a very high value on this coin. I keep it locked in a Safe Deposit Box at a local Bank. By the way, If you believe all this, I would like to sell you one of the bridges over Yellow River on the four lane road to Opp - US 84........
MY GRANDFATHER MOVED TO COVINGTON COUNTY IN 1905 - George Orkney Waits purchased half interest in the Henderson Lumber Company over at Sanford Alabama in 1905. It was the beginning of a close relationship over many years with Mr. J. D. Henderson. Burney Henderson always said his dad and my grandfather were like brothers. Anyway, at Sanford there were actually two mills side by side and a contest to cut the most lumber was always underway. The mill that cut the most lumber during the week got to fly the American Flag the next week. The Henderson Lumber Company had extensive logging railroads along the Yellow River and cut much of the timber in that area. When most of the timber was cut the mill closed in 1914. At that time Mr. Henderson moved to Tuscaloosa where he erected a mill at a place called Fox, Alabama. He also built a nice two story home near the old Pug's Restaurant just off University Avenue. My grandfather moved to the Caryville, FL area where the Henderson-Waits Lumber Company operated for several years. When the Henderson-Waits interest acquired a share of the Bagdad operation, they sold the mill at Caryville to the Brown Florida Lumber Company of Tennessee. My grandfather moved to Bagdad where he was General Manager of that mill until he died in 1927. While at Caryville, he built a home away from the flood waters of Caryville in nearby Bonifay. That home still stands today and is currently a very attractive bed and breakfast. There is a website "Waits Mansion" that tells the story and carrys photos.
Mr. Henderson lived about ten years after my grandfather's death. The Covington News published Mr. Henderson's obituary and they mentioned my grandfather' business relationship with Mr. Henderson. I quote from the December 17, 1936 issue - "In 1902 Mr. Henderson organized the Henderson Lumber Company at Sanford and immediately purchased larger and more extensive timber holdings in this section. He was joined in this assocation in 1905 by the late Col. George O. Waits, who came here from Gerogia. In this partnership was formed one of the most beautiful and lasting friendships that could exist between two men. Col. Waits became a fixture and partner in all of Mr. Henderson's future lumber and turpentine interests. When the mill at Sanford was discontinued, these partners purchased timber holdings in Tuscaloosa County and about the same time purchased the vast holdings of the George E. Ward Lumber Company at Caryville, Fla. Mr. Henderson moved to Tuscaloosa to operate those properties and while living there educated all of his children in the University of Alabama. Col. Waits moved to Caryville and assumed complete control of those properties. About the time the Tuscaloosa properties were cut out, Mr. Henderson with Col. Waits and other associates purchased the Bagdad Land & Lumber Company at Bagdad, Fla., from which point they operated both Bagdad and Caryville properties. All this time they were operating large turpentine holdings in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
It is a coincidence that these two, Henderson and Waits, who had formed this Damon and Pythias friendship, died in the same house in Bagdad. Col. Waits having passed on ten years ago and Mr. Henderson passing ten years later.
HOW ANDALUSIA GOT ITS NAME ! Several ideas prevail as to how the name of Andalusia was selected. More than likely, we will never know the real reason for the name selection. Most avid students of local history favor the idea of the Spanish influence from the Pensacola area as the true reason. Prior to the coming of the white settlers in South Alabama, the Indians from the Creek Nation used the natural ridge route of high ground that extends from the Union Springs area through Troy and on to the Devereux Hill. Nearby was the Fall line of the Conecuh River. From this point it was an easy task to construct a simple raft and float down the river to the Pensacola area. Not only did the Indians use the river to make the trip to Pensacola to trade, but the early settlers in Covington did likewise. There was a great deal of trading and traffic between the Montezuma area and Pensacola. No doubt one of our citizens heard a lot of talk from the Spaniards about their homeland and many spoke of the Southern section of Spain called Andalusia. Maybe they compared the climate and the rolling hills with that of the homeland. This influence stuck with our citizen and when the decision was made to name the new County Site atop the Devereux, it was suggested as a suitable name.
Another comical story centers around Andrew Jackson who camped on the site of the community. Several of his men visited a local saloon and eventually got lost in the nearby woodlands.
After failing to locate his men, Jackson in desperation left without them. A couple of days later, the men wandered into the little settlement and the local people noticed how ragged and dirty they looked. They were tired and hungry, having spent several days lost in the woods. The locals asked the men, “What’s the matter did Andy lose you?” From this question, the locals decided to name the town Andalusia. (Remember Andalusia did not exist in Jackson’s time-)
FROM RIVER FALLS - (A letter to the Editor of the Covington Times April 14, 1891) - Here are the highlights of the letter: The terminus of the Mobile & Girard Railroad is at this point. The right of way is cleared out to the end, and there is now a considerable force of graders doing up the work rapidly at this point. As the bridge is now completed across Conecuh River, and also , the track, and as a leading railroad man says, the bridge builders and grade finishers can easily keep ahead of the track gang. We may expect at no distant day to hear the scream of the first locomotive that ever disturbed the solitudes of the pine forest of Covington County.
We expect soon to have two other railroads here. The one from Luverne and from Meridian, Miss. As soon as the M & G is completed to this point our doors will be thrown open to the manufacturing and commercial world.
We now have here a large and well operated timber mill in full blast, owned and run by Messrs. Frierson & O’Neal. It is situated on one of the finest mill sites in the world - pronounced by mill men of world wide fame to be the finest they ever saw.
Let me give a word of commendation to one whom honor is due, and I know whereof I speak. Not many years ago, owing to the fortunes of war, Capt. G. B. Fierson, then quite a youth, was at the bend-brock (?) of a tail cart at 75 cents per day. See the transition. Today, by never faltering pluck and vim he is one of the recognized leading business mill men and capitalist of South Alabama. Boys, learn a lesson from dear old Gid, as warm hearted and unselfish today as when he tailed a cart in a timber camp.
Allow me, Mr. Editor , to say for the benefit of those who don’t but would like to know the name of this place. It is “River Falls”, so declared by the sovereignty of Alabama in Legislature assembled. All other names are given out of would be fun or was put in nomination and defeated.
Editor’s note - The people of River Falls were excited over the prospects of the rails coming to their community. They anticipated a large town because of the rail terminus of the M & G. Many expected the County Site to move to River Falls and a City Map of the town layout featured a downtown block reserved for the “Court House”.
Your editor did not fully understand the reference to the bridge across the Conecuh. Could they have mean the bridge over the Patsalagi? Perhaps they were referring to the trestle on the L & N. Sometimes, these old newspaper items are very difficult to understand, but thank goodness we have this excellent source of early history in the local Library.
THE ANDALUSIA CASKET COMPANY Now COVINGTON CASKET COMPANY, INC.
This story is taken from notes written in 1941 by Jane Holland and Jeanette O’Neal (deceased)
Probate Judge J. M. Robinson purchased a casket manufacturing plant over in Opp in 1924 and moved it to Andalusia where he established the ANDALUSIA CASKET COMPANY. No special building was erected and the old Army Hall on North Cotton Street was used to house the concern. Judge Robinson was the General Manager. The following people were employees at the casket factory: H. H. King, foreman;W.W. Kierce, builds the tops of caskets; Henry Paulk, covers caskets; Mrs. C. Patterson, seamstress; Levi Wisham, bookkeeper; W.W. Smelley, Orbie Farris; J. R. Hallford; Edwin King; L. J. Morrow, Byron Greer; G.G. Hancock. The following are the black employees: Anderson Durham; Norvie Betrey and Olin Skanes. Most of the employees have been employed for ten years. The only employee that was with the casket factory when it started and is still with it is the foreman, H. H. King.
The average number of caskets produced in a week is sixty. Some weeks there are less caskets produced. The caskets are made of wood which is pine, cypress or poplar. They buy the lumber locally and the wood is dry kilned in an area near the boiler. There is a special person who builds the tops. The work has to be accurate. Glue is used to put the cloth on the caskets. Most of the caskets are gray in color but they have almost any other color desired.
The silks and cloth come from New York; the steel handles from Illinois and Ohio. They cannot get handles made from cast metals because of the War.
The Company ships most of the caskets. Very few are sold locally. Funeral homes buy caskets from the casket manufacturers and the people buy caskets from the funeral home.
Some other things used in the trade are not sold by this company. They are metal caskets, embalming fluids and shrouds. The shrouds are of different colors and design.
This Company has operated over a period of many years and has been a very stable enterprise for the personnel and the community.
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY GRANDCHILDREN - Our daughter Mary Evelyn and son in law Maclin F. Smith III have three children. Virginia Bentley is the oldest and she is married to Bradford Sloan. Both have graduated from the University of Alabama and are working in Birmingham. Bentley has several degrees and she is a CPA and associated with a Birmingham firm. Brad is associated with a Birmingham Bank. Bentley was the first grandchild and her arrival was an exciting time for me and Polly. She is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. Bentley and Brad have a son born March 12, 2012. Of course he is our pride and joy. He has visited us at least twice and what a pleasure to have him around. Maclin IV graduated with honors from Auburn and has been employed by a construction company and is working in the Birmingham area at present. Mac is a big fisherman and also loves to hunt. Mac is a member of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity. Their other son is Yeates and there is something special about Yeates. He is the kind that "touches" your heart. He is currently working as a waiter in an upscale restaurant out at the Sumit in Birmingham and doing well.
Son George and his wife Jean have seven children. Each one is different and all are very special to us too. They have all been home schooled and take advantage of Labs and special classes in Montgomery where the homeschool group maintains those facilities. George Sidney IV graduated in 2007 with many honors and a 5.0 GPA from Faulkner University in Montgomery. George married a lovely young lady by the name Charlotte Mae Kent. They live in an apartment near the Medical Center in Birmingham. George is currently a member of the Sophmore class at the UAB School of Medicine and doing exceptionally well. Michael Luke has graduated from Auburn University AFROTC program. He has gone through flight training at Columbus, MS. He is currently in Afganisitan flying the M-12 which is the King Air plane built by Beechcraft I believe. Elizabeth Grace is the one I have always called "sugar". Libby is employed by a software company in Atlanta.She likes her work and the big city of Atlanta. Marianna is so grown-up - She has recently graduated from Auburn with her Masters Degree in Elementary Education. She is working in Trussville and teaching the 3rd grade and very happy in her work there. Abigail is in the sophmore class at Auburn where she is very happy. Sterling is a talented beginning artist and has painted several nice paintings. Several of her paintings have been awarded prizes.She will graduae this Spring and enter Auburn. Shepherd is the youngest and is a real gentleman. He is helpful with the chores about the house. He plays on the local home school football team and does well as a Quarterback. He and Sterling are the only ones at home this year and in home school. They all enjoy Lake Jordan in front of their home. All are talented in sking and boating. Sterling Shaver carries my mother's maiden name so that is meaningful to me.
All in all, we have been blessed with ten wonderful special Grands and a special grandson-in-law and daughter-in-law. And now we have a great grandson Cobb Winchester Sloan. He is about 7 months old as I write this (Oct 31, 2012). He has been a true blessing to all the families.
JUDGE LAWRENCE J. SALTER -- At the time of his death in 1939 Judge Salter was Andalusia's oldest native son. His obituary indicated he was born on March 21, 1853 in a little log house on East Three Notch Street just about where the old Baptist Parsonage stood (Dairy Queen location). His parents were John R. Salter, a native of Conecuh County and once postmaster here and Amanda Jones Salter, daughter of the late Judge Josiah Jones who was the grandfather of the editor of this paper (Joe jones of Covington News). Judge Salter went to school in a little schoolhouse near the present Salter house, the first one in this section. He entered business with his father in a little store where Brooks True Value is today and they hauled their merchandise in an ox cart from Greenville. On March 1st, 1876 he married Anna Gantt, daughter of Alfred Gantt who was one of the early settlers here from South Carolina. There were four children and all were living and present at his bedside at death. The children were Arthur Salter of Birmingham, Flossie and Cyrus Salter and Mrs. Gussie Cooper all of Andalusia. He was survived by one grandson, Morris Cooper.
Judge Salter joined the local Masonic Lodge shortly after it was formed. For many years he was an active Mason and held the office of Secretary. He joined the Baptist Church in his early youth. On January 28, 1893 he was appointed justice of the Peace and later elected time and time again holding this office for approximately thirty-seven years. he was also Postmaster here from September 6, 1870 until January 8,1873.
Judge Salter lived close to home, never having any desire to travel. He lived to see four different Courthouses in Andalusia. (The one that burned in 1875, the second one that burned in 1895, the brick structure in the middle of the square and the present Courthouse.) Judge Salter was buried in Magnolia Cemetery and so far as the editor knows, in an un-marked grave. (From the Covington News June 1, 1939)
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ELDER POP GUNS? can you remember the pop guns we used to make that shot china berries with great velocity? In the spring of the year near the branches and low lying areas elder bushes are plentiful. We would select a nice size stalk of elder, cut it down and saw it into lengths of about a foot long. The center of the stalk is real soft and "pith". We would simply hollow it out using a piece of hay wireor other sharp instrument. In addition, we needed seomthing to make the stock out of so we would try and locate an old broom handle. Cutting the broom handle down to where the stock would fit inside the elder stalk was always the hard part. When the stock was properly shaped we would spit on a piece of concrete and beat the stalk until a mop was formed. China berries were a must and one was inserted in the elder stalk, then pushed inside with the stalk. Another berry wasinserted and when the stock was pushed rapidly,the first china berry would be ejected at a rapid pace - they would sting at close range too! The guns made a nice "pop" noise when fired. And have you noticed, there are not very many China Berry trees to be found today - even less elder pop guns! Did you ever have one?
CARSON’S STORE - Don’t know why but I began thinking about Carson’s Store that at one time was located on East Three Notch Street. It was about where the present Chandler’s Furniture Store is located. It was an un-painted wooden building with board and batten construction. The building sat right along the sidewalk and the front windows were protected with iron bars. Immediately east of the building was a large vacant lot and farmers would park their wagons on this lot while they were in town. The original First Baptist Church Pastorium was adjacent on the east side of the large vacant lot. This Pastorium was built during the Pastorate of Rev. Metcalf. Rev Haygood and his wife lived in the Pastorium also. Judge Robert S. Reid and his family lived in this home in later years.
The Carson family moved to Andalusia from the Carolinas and were in the turpentine business along with the retail store business. The turpentine was collected in wooden barrels and stored on the back side of the lot and ultimately loaded on the railroad for shipment. Mr. Carson was engaged in an extensive turpentine operation and also operated his store. He sold items primarily of interest to farmers.
Mr. John Carson was Mayor of Andalusia in the early thirties when the depression was the big problem. During his administration the City Clerk’s office was upstairs in the Prestwood Building and Mr. Hudson was City Clerk. Alma Carson was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Carson. She married the late Bob Burgess, newspaperman of note. Burgess worked with the old Andalusia Star under Oscar Dugger during the depression, later moving to Opp where he edited the Opp News very successfully until his death. During the depression Bob wrote several early mystery stories. One of these stories centered around the murder on Yellow River in the 1930’s. It was his best article and entitled “The Red Riddle of Yellow River”. Another was entitled “Case of the Cracked footprint” and still another was named: “Two Women and Smash-up Murder”. He included another story told to Burgess by the then Sheriff of Covington County Tom Gantt. It was entitled “I Got My Man” and was equally intriguing. They were all very interesting and well written by a professional editor of the day.
Some of you will recall Carson’s Store and you can more than likely tell me a lot more about it and the Carson family. I would appreciate your comments and information.