Rogersville, AL – Keeping up with the Procession

An 1894 editorial from a Rogersville, Alabama citizen identified only as “Aleck”. Gives quite a humorous account of two boys in Rogersville who jointly purchase a bicycle and attempt to impress their girlfriends. Read the entire account below:

An 1890s bicycle advertisement found in the Florence Times
An 1890s bicycle advertisement found in the Florence Times

“Our town is trying to keep up with the times. Messrs. Ed Hurn and J.B. Foster have bought them a bicycle, between them. Mr. H. came in from Courtland with it Saturday night. As soon as he got here the boys began to ride it all night, and Sunday morning, bright and early I noticed quite a crowd of children congregated on all the streets, ranging in ages from two to fifty years. I ventured to see the cause, thinking, maybe, the thieves had visited us again, but I found that the boys were still riding. Each of these boys, (like myself, and other boys,) have a “best girl,” and they wanted to visit said girls that morning, on their wheel, so they had to practice all night, to be able to do so. Mr. H’s girl lives near by, so he rode up to see her, and while he made his call, Mr. T. got it and rode about three miles to see his girl, but he was so charmed with his wheel, that he only stayed about ten minutes, and then returned the wheel to Mr. H. This bicycle is a very unruly one, judging from the scars on the boys and the blood on the streets. It has thrown several of the boys, and if it can get them off no other way, it lies down with them.

We have been thinking of making a telephone link to Centre Star, and connect with the line there, but since these two young men have got a bicycle, we have abandoned the idea, we will send all our messages by wheel. After Mr. H. has run a few more nights he thinks he can get there as quick as a telephone message. We will wait for further development before putting up the phone. An old gentleman who lives in town, and whose family had gone out in the country to spend the day, stayed in town all the evening, in order to stop the wheel before they got here. I suppose he was afraid he would loose his wife and baby, should the wheel run up on them. The thing is nearly run down, being out of wind, and all is calm and serene again.”

Florence Water Tower

Florence Water Tower and Pumping Station, circa 1895
Florence Water Tower and Pumping Station, circa 1895

The Florence Water Works was without a doubt the finest plant of its kind in Alabama, if not the whole South during its time. It was built during the Industrial Boom by a stock company at a cost of $200,000. The company consisted of Colonel W.A. Jeter as president, A.E. Boarman as treasurer, and T.A. Howell as superintendent. At the time, there were 17 miles of piping and 103 fire-plugs throughout the city of Florence. Made using the best stone masonry, the water tower was 70 feet tall had a wrought-iron tank with the capacity to hold 300,000 gallons of water. The plant could have easily supplied a city of 50,000 people even though Florence’s current population was only near 7,000 people. A key selling point to this water tower was that the water did not from the Tennessee River, which was so often made muddy by heavy rains. The water was drawn from the clear, pure, beautiful stream, Cypress Creek. Physicians of the time pronounced the water to be “as good as Nature’s laboratory could furnish for thirsty man”. Running through a country, at the time, that was not densely populated, the path of Cypress Creek acted as a natural filtration system that aerated the water from any possible impurities. Many of Florence’s citizens during the late 1890s had abandoned perfectly good cisterns and wells in favor of using the water tower’s hydrant water because it was healthier.

In his administration, Superintendent T.A. Howell was careful to keep the water mains clear and clean and was always very helpful during fires in the city. It didn’t matter what time of the night a fire broke out, he could soon be found at his post of duty ready to supply any amount of water that the fire department needed. The water tower was replaced by the adjoining standpipe in 1935.

Florence Water Tower, circa 2011
Florence Water Tower, circa 2011

Blackburn People Disturbed by Unusual ‘Varmint’

The people of Blackburn (just North of St. Florian) in the northern section of Lauderdale county, were disturbed by an unusual wild animal that was seldom seen, but often heard, roaming in that area during the early Spring of 1912. So unusual, in fact, that it produced several reports in local newspapers of the time. This ‘varmint’ was scaring the people in the Blackburn area to such an extent that they had voluntarily inaugurated, by common consent, a kind of ‘curfew law’ among all the people, keeping close to home as night came on. Esq. Silas L. Bradley described the situation, and was firmly convinced that they were favored with an unusual visitation. The animal was described as being the size of a large shepherd dog, reddish-brown in color, with a streak of white along its throat. It had seldom been seen, but many people heard it, and its voice was said to be a wild yell, “like a woman scared, and then low.” Its scream could be heard for over a mile or more, and it was said to be fearful in the extreme. Esq. Bradley described the effect of this nocturnal visitor to have kept the people of Blackburn in their homes at night.

Several weeks after the initial report of this strange, nocturnal ‘varmint’, it was seen and killed. The person to do the deed was Mr. Plummer Daniels of Blackburn. Mr. Daniels and his pet dog encountered the wild animal in the road one afternoon. Mr. Daniel made his dog attack the wild disturber of the peace of that community, and while the fight was on he stabbed him to death with a knife. It was a brave deed on the part of Mr. Daniels. Once killed, the initial reports and descriptions of the ‘varmint’ held true. The animal was as large as a New Foundland dog, with reddish-brown hair about three inches long. It looked like a dog, but was not exactly like one. It was an aged creature, and because of its age, could not put up a better fight for its life. Mr. Daniels reported that its growl was something startling, and shook the very ground with its roar.

Following the report in the news that the ‘varmint’ had been killed, a citizen from Center Star with the pen-name of ‘Scribe’ began an effort to secure a hero medal for Mr. Daniels. ‘Scribe’ brought forward some new information about this unusual ‘varmint’. He reported that the same animal has been in Colbert county for the past eight or ten years, and due to the infirmities of old age, has been fed by mountain people living south of Tuscumbia. The ‘varmint’ left its old haunts in October of 1911 and was next heard of when it was spotted in the Blackburn area of Lauderdale county.

Google Map of the Blackburn area of Lauderdale County, Alabama
Google Map of the Blackburn area of Lauderdale County, Alabama

Centennial Design Becomes Trademark

A.T. Putteet Hardware logo uses Florence Centennial Design
A.T. Putteet Hardware logo uses Florence Centennial Design

A.T. Putteet Hardware, adopted this design (above) as the trademark for his “Muscle Shoals Brand.” Mr. Putteet started his hardware business at 216 Court Street in January of 1917. The design was drawn by a renowned cartoonist at the time for the August 8, 9, and 10, 1918 Florence centennial celebration.

The artist, Frank M. Spangler (A.K.A “Spang”), was the cartoonist at the Montgomery Advertiser for many years. Designed to show in sharp contrast the Florence of 100 years previous in 1818 and the Florence of 1918.

Centennial Poster Designed by Frank Spangler
Centennial Poster Designed by Frank Spangler

Seminary – O’Neal Historic District

Seminary - O Neal Historic District historical Marker
Marker located on Seminary between Irvine and Hermitage in Florence

Named for the O’Neal family which produced two Alabama governors and for seminary, the street on which the Synodical Female College was located, the Seminary – O’Neal Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Built between 1908 and 1943, the houses in the district reflect the variety of architectural styles of those years. Two Sears – Roebuck houses, called “American Four-Square”, add interest and distinction. The district opens onto the impressive campus of the University of North Alabama.

Seminary - O Neal Historic District photograph circa 2010
Seminary - O'Neal Historic District photograph circa 2010