Sunday, May 5, 2013

Alabama's Capitols

Alabama's Capitols
A state must have a capitol city where
the laws are made and the governor
resides. Alabama has had five capitols.
St. Stephens on the Tombigbee River
was the capitol of Alabama territory and
the first state capitol.

At one time, St. Stephen's was a busy
place. The town grew and in 1811, an
academy was opened. People moved in
and built comfortable homes. When
Alabama became a territory in 1817, St. 
Stephens was the capitol of Alabama 
Territory, and served as the first state capital
for a few short months.

Once the capitol was moved from St.
Stephen, the people began to move away
until it was entirely deserted, with nothing
to tell of its past life except an old
cemetery and some stone foundations of
the old buildings.

The second capitol of Alabama was
located in Huntsville. Soon after
Alabama became a state, Huntsville was
chosen as the place to meet to draw up a
plan of government. Huntsville is named
as Alabama's second capitol.

There is a wonderful spring in the heart of
the city of Huntsville that gushes into a
large stream. The story is told that a man
named John Hunt, having heard of the
spring, made up his mind to find the
spring and live near it. He asked the
Indians for directions to the spring and
built his cabin nearby. Other people
begin to hear of this lovely place and built
there also. By 1819, Huntsville was a
village with comfortable homes and many

Huntsville would have been a good town 
for the capitol except for its location. Because 
it was located in the northeastern part of 
the state and far away from the middle and 
southern part, where most of the people 
lived at the time; it was decided to build a 
capitol where the Cahaba River flows into 
the Alabama River and name the town Cahaba.

Cahaba was near the middle of the state
and easy to get to by river and by road. It
had an excellent overflowing well which
would give a plentiful supply of healthy
water. Many people moved to Cahaba, but
during the long rainy seasons, the Alabama
and Cahaba Rivers would rise and flood the
town. The streets would become streams;
the yards and even the first floors of the
houses would be covered with water. The
governor had to go to the capitol building in
a canoe. Of course, this would not work, so
it was decided to move the capitol to

Tuscaloosa was well laid out, with three
rows of great oak trees, one row on each
side of the street and one row down the
middle of the wide streets. The streets
were lined with comfortable homes; lovely
flower gardens transformed Tuscaloosa into
the picture of a perfect park. The state
university was established there. The
people of Tuscaloosa were very proud of
their town.

In 1836, while Tuscaloosa was the capitol 
of Alabama, theNative American Indians of 
Alabama were moved west to what was then 
called Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma. 

A few words taken from a speech said to have been made by an
Indian chief to the legislature of Alabama, illustrates how the
Natives felt about giving up their homeland. This is a
translation of what the chief said:
"I come, brothers, to see the great house of Alabama and the
men that make the laws, and to say farewell in brotherly
kindness before I go to the far west…In these lands of
Alabama, which have belonged to my forefathers, and where
their bones lie buried, I see that the Indian fires are going out.
New fires are lighting in the west and we are going there. I
leave the graves of my fathers but the Indian fires are going
out, almost clean gone and new fires are lighting there for us"
After several years of discussion and debate it was decided to
move the capitol of Alabama to Montgomery. There were many
people disappointed because of the change in the location of
the capitol, but it was the logical choice because Montgomery
was more centrally located in the state, making it easier for
everyone to access the capitol city.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Civil War - Colonel - Judge & Preacher

The Civil War Tales
of the
Tennessee Valley
Dr. William L. McDonald

          William Basil Wood organized the 16th Alabama Infantry Regiment in Courtland, Alabama, August 8, 1861.  A member of a prominent Florence family, his father served as the city's first mayor.  A younger brother, Sterling Alexander Martin Wood, was later
promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate Army.  
     An alumnus of La Grange College, William Basil Wood was elected County Judge in 1844. In 1862, while on active military duty, he was elected Judge of the Circuit Court, an office he held until 1880.
     Judge Wood was also an ordained local preacher in the Methodist Church.  He is credited with organizing the first Sunday school class in Florence in 1843.  One historian wrote that Colonel Wood “often preached in the camps, and at War Trace (Tennessee), he, Colonel Lowry, and Colonel Reid, assisted the chaplain of the regiment in a revival in which several hundred were converted.”  
     Wood was described as “over the medium size, broad shouldered and portly, and with frank social manners.”  In his book, Early Settlers of Alabama, Colonel James Saunders noted that in the Battles of Triune and Murfreesboro, Colonel Wood “led his regiment
 gallantly as he had done at Fishing Creek.”  Another writer observed that Colonel Wood “was very cool in the battlefield, and was kind to the sick and wounded.”  On the retreat from the Battle of Fishing Creek, Wood insisted that his horse be used for the sick and wounded, while “he walked until he wore his feet into solid blisters.”  Lieutenant John M. McGee, in remembering the activities of the 16th Alabama, made this statement about its commanding officer: “I know that there was not a colonel in the army, who was more
beloved by his men, and that he could lead them anywhere.”
     In November, 1862, following a long and almost fatal sickness from typhoid fever, Colonel Wood was assigned to General Longstreet’s Corps where he was appointed Presiding Judge of the Military Court. In May, 1863, he was transferred to the Army of Northern Virginia as the Presiding Judge of the First Army Corps.
     Following the war, Judge Wood devoted much of his time and energy to the promotion and expansion of the economy of Florence.  He, more than any other person, is credited with the industrial revolution that came to East Florence during the late 1880’s. 
     Prior to the Civil War, Judge Wood played a major role in the relocation of La Grange College to Florence.  In 1872, he led a victorious campaign to persuade the state to accept the abandoned Florence Wesleyan University facilities so as to establish what eventually became the modern University of North Alabama.  
     Judge Wood, who was often referred to “Mr. Florence,” died April 3, 1891.  A grateful city renamed Market Street, a major thoroughfare, as Wood Avenue in his honor.
     His gravestone in the Florence Cemetery has this inscription: “Citizen, Soldier, Christian.  A leader in family, state, and church.  After the storm and toil of life, he, beloved, rests in peace.” These simple words are as a commentary of the eventful life of William Basil Wood, Confederate Colonel, Lauderdale County Judge, and Methodist Preacher.

The Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley
Copyright 2003 by
Bluewater Publications

The Civil War stories found in Dr. McDonald’s Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley, can be found at or

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brigadier General Sterling Alexander Martin Wood, C.S.A.



     Harrison Wood was in the bloody battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stone River.  As one of the local African-Americans to wear the Confederate gray, he served as camp man for Brigadier General Sterling Alexander Martin Wood, commander of the 7th Infantry      Brigade.  His primary duties could be compared, in some ways, to that of “general’s orderly” in the modern army.
     Harrison, born in Virginia, was only twelve years old when he was acquired by Florence’s first mayor, Alexander Hamilton Wood.  Harrison was trained as an apprentice in Mayor Wood’s furniture shop and soon became one of the town's most respected house painters.  Mayor Wood established a partnership with Harrison, allowing the young painter to negotiate his own contracts, with provisions that they jointly      share in the profits.
     Harrison grew up with the Wood boys, William Basil, Sterling A. M., and Henry Clay.   All three brothers became officers in the Confederate Army, and at times all three served under the same brigade banner.  Sterling was the first of the three to enter the     army;  he was soon elevated to the rank of Brigadier General, 7th Infantry Brigade.
     Harrison Wood was one of ten African-Americans in the estate of Alexander H. Wood, following the former mayor's death in November, 1860.  In less than six months, Harrison was selected by Captain Sterling A. M. Wood as his camp man which took him to distant places where he participated in a number of fiercely-fought battles.
     It was after the night of January 3, 1863, as General Braxton Bragg began his withdrawal from Tullahoma, that Harrison Wood suddenly found himself within federal lines.  This was following the Battle of Stone River, or Murfreesboro, where General Wood's brigade had formed a part of General Patrick Cleburne's Division in General William Joseph Hardee’s Corps.
     For all practical purposes, the war was over for Harrison Wood. Nine months later, following the Battle of Chickamauga, Brigadier General Sterling Alexander Martin Wood resigned his commission and joined his family in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
     When Harrison Wood, returned to Florence, he was given a piece of land by Judge William Basil Wood.  The Judge, it was said, did the same for all of his and his father's former servants.  According to a paper entitled “Servants of the Confederacy: Lauderdale County’s Black Confederates,” by Lee Freeman of the Florence/Lauderdale Public Library, this land may have been located near the present Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital, or perhaps in North Florence.   
     Harrison Wood's obituary appeared in the January 9, 1895, edition of the FLORENCE TIMES, under the caption: “An Old Landmark Gone.” The 81-year-old African-American's death notice was beautifully editorialized and ended with these words:  “Such a man is worthy of a kind remembrance in the hearts of our people.  One of the oldest, and in his humble way, the best landmarks of the city has gone.  May he rest in peace.”

The Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley
Copyright 2003 by
Bluewater Publications

The Civil War stories found in Dr. McDonald’s Civil War Tales of the Tennessee Valley, can be found at or

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Home Education - Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island Family Retreat

People often ask me after 15 years of homeschooling what I think is most
important to giving children a quality education. Although every family is
different, just as each child is an individual with specific needs and
learning preferences...


Give your children as many..."see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, breathe
it, live it"  opportunities as possible!

They will always come away learning more than you could possibly pack into
a lesson plan or syllabus.

My older son asked me the other day how we have been able to travel to so
many places and take part in so many learning opportunities when we have
always been on a "tight" (read: shoestring) budget. Haha! I told him, "Son,
necessity is the mother of invention."

 --We've had to be VERY inventive at times, but somehow we have managed to
travel to Williamsburg, Washington, DC, Charleston, St. Augustine, Utah,
Colorado and lots of places in between.

Of all the places we've travelled, however, the one that gets mentioned
over and over and over has been our trips every year for the last 5 years
to a little island off the Gulf Coast near Mobile, AL--called Dauphin

It's where some of our best and most memorable experiences have taken place.

Sure, I could fill a notebook with all the science experiences we have
participated dissecting squid and finding a baby octopus inside a
horseshoe crab shell...or cruising on The Duke and pulling up all kinds of
interesting catch in our net, slogging through the marsh in mud up to
our...Ah hem. :-)

(Or realizing, one night, our kids had gone hunting for baby alligators at
the Audubon Bird Sanctuary---ok, whew, that's a story for another day! Haha)

Personally, I love it every year when the younger kids (on their own)
decide to build a Swiss family Robinson raft and accompanying shelter. Wow!
Talk about some elaborate creations!

---Anyway, it's honestly hard to quantify all the things we've experienced
over the years. You would just have to take my word for it....OR


I'm so excited that my friend, Angela Broyles (home educator
extraordinaire) has put together an incredible opportunity to experience
some our FAVORITE things to do at one of our FAVORITE PLACES ON EARTH!

The BEST part is that she has already taken care of all the planning and
details!! Trust me, it's taken us years to do the trial and error and make
the necessary contacts to make this happen!



Did I mention that Dauphin Island is one of the most economical trips we
have taken over the years?
---I LOVE the fact that the attraction on Dauphin Island is ---The Island!!
There are no go-cart tracks, roller coasters or arcades...and that's what
we LOVE about it!

We practically have the island to ourselves in November and the weather is
usually GORGEOUS! (gotta love season rates, no

It's amazing how children will begin to relax and enjoy the beauty of
creation, and the fellowship of family and friends (old and new), when all
the "noise" and distractions are removed.

 (If you MUST have a connection with the outside world, you can always take
an inexpensive ferry ride over to Gulf Shores.) ;-)

I would be so thrilled to see lots of other families have the opportunity
we have had over the years. It has been a big part - if not MOST) of our
Christmas gift to each other in recent years and worth far more than the
soon to be broken and forgotten toys and video games.

I highly recommend it!

Check out the AWESOME
book <> your spot!

We'll see you at the beach!


(I have attached the schedule if you want but I have also created a page
just for the schedule on the website and linked to it above)

*Dauphin Island Family Retreat - November 14 thru 16, 2012*

*Day 1 - Nov. 14*

9:00 A.M.

Duke Cruise around Sand Island Lighthouse

"The Duke" is a 44 foot boat known as a Bonner. On it we will travel around
the Sand Island Lighthouse and hear of the landmark's history. On the
return trip we will drop a shrimp net and study the catch. In the past we
have caught everything from shrimp, to flounder and even squid. Pelicans
always follow the boat waiting on a treat. This is always a wonderful
experience for the children and the adults.

Lunch will be on board "The Duke". You will have a choice of turkey or ham
Subway sandwiches, chips and drinks for lunch on the boat.

1:00 P.M.

Arrive back at the marina

1:30 P.M.

History presentation of Dauphin Island followed by a walking history tour
of the island. History of Dauphin Island's early settlement to included
Native American History of the area.

5:00 P.M.

Dinner at dorms

6:30 P.M.

Free Time

•Enjoy a walk on the beach, to the bird sanctuary, or to town or play
volleyball or basketball on the courts outside.

***** Parents must supervise their children at all times. *****

9:45 P.M.

Lights out

*Day 2 - Nov. 15*

Fort tours

Civil War historian Tim Kent will be the tour guide for both Fort Gaines
and Fort Morgan. He will discuss:

   - the construction of both forts and why they were constructed the way
   they were
   - the history of the forts and why they were important to guarding Mobile
   - the Battle of Mobile Bay
   - the position of the USS Tecumseh and its demise
   - the different ships built in Mobile

8:45 A.M.

Arrive at Fort Gaines

9:00 A.M.

Fort Gaines class begins with a Fort Tour. Fort Gaines is one of the most
beautifully preserved forts in the south with incredible architectural
design work.

The Fort tour will include:

   - History of the Civil War from Fort Gaines
   - How the soldiers lived
   - The artillery used at the fort
   - Blacksmith class
   - Were there women at Fort Gaines? If so what was life like for them?
   - Who were some of the interesting soldiers at Fort Gaines?
   - Famous prisoners held at the fort

12:00 P.M.

The group will walk up to the ferry and have lunch on the water as we
travel across the bay to Fort Morgan. There will be a choice of turkey or
ham Subway sandwiches, chips and drinks for lunch.

****Parents must supervise students on the ferry. Bring extra bread to feed
the sea gulls, but please be extremely careful to make sure the birds do
not get the plastic bags or wrappers and that they don't fall into the
water. Plastic kills thousands or birds and sea turtles yearly.

1:45 P.M.

Tour of Fort Morgan and museum

The fort tour will include:

   - History of the Civil War from Fort Morgan
   - Heroes of Fort Morgan

**The lens from the Sand Island Lighthouse is in the Fort Morgan Museum

5:00 P.M.

Ferry Ride back to Dauphin Island

6:00 P.M.

Dinner at the dorms

7:00 P.M.

Free time

******Parents must supervise their children at all times.*****

9:45 P.M.

Lights out

*Day 3 Nov. 16*

8:00 A.M

Students 6th -- 12th grade arrive at Discovery Hall

Discovery Hall Program Productive Plankton

Students will play games and collect plankton to be viewed under a
microscope to learn of this extremely important part of the world's

*****This can be a wet or dry class so come prepared. Bring bathing suit or
other clothes that can get wet, old tennis shoes that can get wet -- no
sandals, and a towel.

Have your student be familiar with the following words so that they are
more prepared for the class:

• Plankton

• Zooplankton

• Phytoplankton

• Autotroph

• Heterotroph

• Photosynthesis

8:30 A.M.

Students K-5 arrive at the Bird sanctuary.

Audubon Bird Sanctuary

You and your students will tour the Bird Sanctuary and learn the details of
the birds, turtles, alligators and trees and plants of the island.

**You will want to bring binoculars everyday. But today is a must!

After the Bird Sanctuary tour you will go down to the beach and seine (a
method of fishing).

**We will need help from parents. Dress and prepare for the probability of
getting wet. Bring old shoes and a towel. This is always educational and
exciting. You never know what you may catch!

For more information on seine fishing go to:

12:00 P.M.

Lunch at the cafeteria

1:00 P.M.

Students k-5

Touch and explore class at the estuarium

The program will begin with a lecture to teach the students about marine
animals and conclude with students examining and touching many different
preserved specimens.

Words you will want your students to know in advance:

• Invertebrate

• Vertebrate

• Phylum

• Adaptation

1:00 P.M.

6-12th Grade

Marsh Trip

This program begins with a discussion of estuaries and their importance in
the food chain. Then the students will be introduced to the salt marsh, a
wetland habitat with both animal and plant life. The Discovery Hall bus
will transport the group to a salt marsh where the students will learn
about the life held within by dragging a siene net, sieve mudding and
scooping up animals.

****** Your student will get wet. Wear old clothes and old tennis shoes
that can be laced up as they will be walking in mud. Also be prepared with
sun protection and a water bottle.

Words you will want your student to know in advance:

• Estuary

• Food web

• Detritus


This is a wonderful time of the year to be at the beach and Dauphin Island
isn't just any beach. Dauphin Island is the best kept secret in the
Southeast! The cost for all three days filled with activities with meals
and lodging included is only:

$345.00 per person for the first 2 family members

$325.00 per person for the third or forth family members

$295.00 for additional family members

If you have children under school age, please contact us at ** for more information.

The price covers the dorm room for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights
as well as meals from Wednesday morning breakfast to lunch on Friday.

We will issue no refunds.

** A note to mom's: I have been on many trips like this and have found the
fact that meals are provided to be such a blessing. No preparing and
packing, no cooking. Just show up.

Parents should attend class with their student. If you have a student in
each age group please go with your younger student. We know your older
students should know how to behave and if there is any kind of a problem we
will bring them to you.

If you want to stay Friday night in order to go to the Fort Gaines Civil
War event on Saturday, the lodging cost would be an additional $35.00 per
night per person. This does not include dinner on Friday night or breakfast
on Saturday morning. ***Please see the *tab for Friday night
* in order to pay for Friday night. *

*Be prepared to wear layered clothing. Bring gear in case it is needed. *

*Classes will be held regardless of weather, however, the itinerary is
subject to change if weather conditions prevent classes as stated. *

*I agree to indemnify and hold harmless Historical Preservation LLC, its
associates and affiliates for any costs or liabilities which may incur as a
result of my family's participation in a Historical Truth 101 organized
history trip. Your payment for the tour constitutes your acknowledgement
and agreement to the above indemnity clause.*

*Please provide the following information to *

*Name of all family members attending *

*Mailing address *

*Email *

*Phone number *

*Each child's age and grade level *

*Allergies, if any, for each person *

*Please specify any special needs your family has. We will do our best to
accommodate them. *