Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: More Historical Indifference

In this month’s article, I will continue the rant started in July (hey, I’ve got to get it out of my system somehow…).

Last month, I focused on the lack of interest that far too many people have in their town’s or area’s history. This month, I want to drill down further into two additional categories; first, people who don’t seem care about the history or genealogy of their own family, and second, those people who like to think they know something, but haven’t bothered to do the work needed to ascertain the facts.

A case in point… Recently, I happened to overhear a person discussing, in great detail, a recent conversation during which some facts regarding their family’s role in the history of a local town had come into question. It apparently involved a disagreement between this person and a local historian who had written something in opposition to the first person’s beliefs about their family history.

Now, who was right? (Maybe, the better question is who was correct?) I don’t know and I don’t really need (or want) to know… Taking sides is not the point. But, for the sake of clarity, let’s look at what we think we “know” in this case…

First, let’s talk about the person whose family history is at issue. In this case, the person had heard various anecdotes and stories over the years from older family members that led to the beliefs that they have. It’s likely that most people take such conversations pretty much at face value and simply file them away as memories.

In the first case, someone is not interested in learning more about their family history… they are not interested in pursuing or questioning the stories. They do not take steps to dig into their family history and learn more about it. Maybe they find boxes of old photos or bundles of letters belonging to their grandmother… “OK, nothing valuable here, so just throw them out”. (These are often the same people who are prone to tear old buildings down for no other reason than they are old buildings – they do not see value in things that happened in the past). If others in the family want to play around in the branches of the family tree, they aren’t interested in taking part; and usually they are bored to the point of being comatose.

In the second case, the person takes significant pride in their family’s history. However, as in the first case, they do not delve further into the accounts they have heard from their forebears. In other words, “Granddad said it, I believe it, that settles it” or “I believe what I believe, don’t confuse me with the facts”.  Aside from what I view as a lack of curiosity, such a perspective results in an inability to look at the past, our community’s past, our family’s past square in the eye. When we fail in this, we discard any chance of seeing our history, and what we can learn from it, in all of its dimensions.

Now, on to the local historian… If they’ve done the appropriate due diligence, they should have some degree of objective documentation (newspaper articles, journal entries, etc.) that substantiates the historical position they are taking. Any good local historian will typically try to corroborate this information with other sources, in order to learn as much as possible about the event or person. Again, any good historian worth their salt will document the anecdotes, stories, tall tales, or urban legends that may accompany the particular occurrence. This allows the history to be a genuinely multi-faceted experience rather than simply a dry, single-sided litany of facts.

So, on a scale of 1 to 10 measuring interest in their about family history, the first case would seem to indicate a rating of 1-2, while the second would maybe rate a 9-10.

In both cases, however, what is missing, at the very least, is a willingness to think critically or objectively about their family’s history. Granted, such a willingness brings with it somewhat of an obligation to accept whatever they may learn (“if you’re not willing to accept the answer, don’t ask the question”). However, what is even more dangerous is there is an unwillingness to look at the past, warts and all, in an effort to learn from the experiences we collectively had, both the good and the bad. As anyone whose has read these blogs previously knows, I am a proponent of never editing our history – it is what it is… such a practice may be discomforting, but it allows us to learn so much more about our past and “forces” us to view our history as it really was, not what we wish it would be.

Over the past several months, I have had the privilege of working closely with a local Italian-American Heritage Society on an exhibit at Vulcan highlighting the contributions of Italian-Americans in early Birmingham. This group of immigrants came to America with little more than dreams and hopes of making a better life. Most Italian immigrants did not know the language or culture of their new country and were often treated with disdain and racial prejudices akin to those imposed on African-Americans by the white-dominated society of the time. There were numerous questions (and perceived concerns) as to whether Italians could be considered “white”. They were subjected to racial slurs and often forced to live in what amounted to “buffer zones” between whites and blacks. They were typically relegated to menial jobs and were often not given their due in terms of civil rights. Coupled with a prevalent anti-Catholic wave sweeping the country at the end of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th century, Italians were often denigrated and were the target of jokes and conspiracy theories alike. As a result, they often “circled the wagons” and became somewhat of an insular community with a strong sense of church and family.

I have come to both admire and appreciate the members of the Italian-American community. Not only are they enthusiastic about their history and culture, they fully embrace the realities of their past, both good and bad. And while the injustices of the past are not good memories, they recognize that those experiences helped make them the people they are, with a great love for family, church, community, and a passion for life.

For those interested, the Italian-American exhibit at Vulcan, entitled “La Storia” will open beginning Friday, September 19 at Vulcan Park and Museum and will be in place until September 2015..

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the views of the individual author(s) and do not reflect the views or policies of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve or it’s partners. We do not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented on the website, nor does it make any representation concerning the same.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Historical Indifference

July’s article, coming half-way through the year (as most things in July tend to do), is a rant of sorts… Hopefully not a rant of tantrum-throwing, foot-stomping proportions, but certainly one expressing a prevailing sense of frustration, hopelessness bordering on despair, and a [metaphorical] desire to grab some people by the nape of the neck and shake the living @#$& out of them…

Why, you may ask, are you so up in arms? This is a valid question, the answer to which is the subject of this month’s discussion.

For the eighteen months or so that I have written this monthly history blog, a common thread has (hopefully) run throughout… that those of us living in the Pinson Valley and its environs are truly fortunate to have the rich and varied history that we do. Our history has not always been pretty, and frequently, not for the faint of heart. But, you don’t get to choose your history any more than you get to choose your parents… So, it is what it is.

Moreover, each of is historically-situated, basically meaning that we are products of the times in which we live. As such, while we can (and should) debate, interpret, and learn from our particular histories. It is my opinion, however, that we should never try to rewrite it. Such whitewashing of documentable facts does a dis-service to the history itself. It is unfair to our forebears who lived (and often suffered) through the times that are being discussed. As such, we should never try to whitewash, obscure, or otherwise, attempt to obliterate particular times or occurrences in that history.

As each article took shape and, even afterwards, the words would stick inside – both in my head and in my heart…

Historians, however, are supposed to be able to take a scholarly step back; being dispassionate in their research and objective in the analysis and discussion of past events and the repercussions of said events. In other words, one should never take the events of history personally.

And therein lays the rub… Now, I get the objectivity part [I really do]. When I do research, I can step back and view the facts with the necessary degree of professional detachment.

What haunts me so is that there are so many people in our communities that, very simply, couldn’t care less about their history. They say such things as: “What’s past is past…”, “You have to keep moving forward to grow”, “Why should I care? I didn’t know those people”. Now, to be fair, some people don’t have the “gene”. They simply don’t get it. There are still others who don’t care. They don’t see the important lessons that history gives us about how to live our lives. They don’t understand why it is important to recognize the contributions of our ancestors and to appreciate their struggles. They don’t understand the continual connection that the past has with the present and the present with the future.

I think this indifference results in the almost universal fact that historical and genealogical societies, museums, cemetery preservation groups, and historical restoration and conservation projects are chronically saddled with little or no financial support. Active physical support is in almost as sad a shape and is typically limited to more [ahem] senior citizens of the community. Politicians often give lip service, but little substantive support (dead folks usually don’t vote or pay taxes). It is important to get as many of us as possible (especially the young) actively involved. We learn much from our history, we learn important lessons when we have deep conversations and experiences about our shared histories, and we almost always emerge as better people as a result.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the views of the individual author(s) and do not reflect the views or policies of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve or it’s partners. We do not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented on the website, nor does it make any representation concerning the same.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Greene Cemetery

In this month’s article, we will dig deeper (no pun intended) into a local cemetery with a list of residents that reads like a Who’s Who of the early pioneers of Jefferson County. The Green[e]’s Station cemetery (also called ” Green[e] family cemetery, Green[e]-Massey cemetery, or the Smith’s Chapel cemetery) is located on Kent Road near to the main campus of Jefferson State Community College on AL highway 79 between Tarrant and Pinson. The cemetery is adjacent to the site of, but was not affiliated with the Smith’s Chapel Methodist Church on the old Huntsville Road. The cemetery is of singular historical import to those of us living today in Pinson Valley. The area began to be settled between 1817-1818 and many of the area’s early pioneers (and a minimum of seven slaves) are buried in the cemetery.

Settlers began coming into the area by wagon train, ox-cart, Indian-drags, on foot or horseback and staked out homesteads for themselves and their families. The plantations and farms of early pioneers stretched from one end of Pinson Valley to the other, bordered by Tarrant on one end and Pinson on the other. The area also stretched from Trussville and Roebuck to New Castle and Springdale.

The city of Tarrant as we know it today was not incorporated until 1918. Named for Rev. Benjamin Tarrant, the town grew up around the National Cast Iron Pipe Company and related companies. However, the settlement was much older. Travelers on the Huntsville Road in about 1817 often stopped at an area known as the Big Spring to rest and recharge on their way further into Alabama. While many moved on, others stayed and built a community, originally called Green[e]’s, or Green[e]’s Station. Brothers George Livingston Green[e]and Robert Hardy Green[e] both built large plantations in the area. The Tarrant area was also sometimes known as Nabor’s Spring.

The cemetery is the final resting place of Zachariah Hagood, one of the earliest physicians in Jefferson County, who practiced from 1840 to 1856. Dr. Zachariah, as he was known, almost single-handedly populated the settlement in northeastern part of Jefferson County that would eventually bear his name. He came here with his wife and baby… However, the valley was soon teeming with life from the many sons and daughters, Zachariah had 21 children from three wives. Robert, son of Dr. Zachariah, built a store on a crossroads next to the Huntsville Road which, beginning in 1836, also functioned as the community’s first post office. The area quickly became known as Hagood’s Crossroads. However, horse traders settling in the area from Pinson, Tennessee came in around 1852, eventually outvoted the Hagood’s and renamed the town Mount Pinson which, in turn, was later shortened to Pinson..A more poignant burial is that of Thomas Haughey, a physician who owned land in the area. Serving as a Republican US Congressman in the years following the Civil War, Haughey was assassinated in Courtland, AL while making a speech in 1869.

The cemetery started as a family burial place for the Green[e] family, who had significant land holdings in the area. The oldest known burial is reflected on a stone carved in 1829. Two of the oldest known burials are that of Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt (a veteran of the American Revolution), who died in 1846 and George Nash who died in 1852, the father of Zachariah Hagood’s first wife, Nancy Nash. Also buried there are John and Margaret Erwin, parents of Zachariah’s second and third wives, Nancy and Mary Ann Erwin. Families represented in cemetery include Greene, Hagood, Erwin, Massey, Reed, Reid, Marshall, Nash, and Hewitt.

Registered as an Alabama Historic Cemetery on January 20, 2004, the cemetery is likely older than Alabama statehood. However, the years have not been kind to this venerable old resting place… In its current state, it is horribly overgrown, with numerous sunken graves and vandalized gravestones.

008 015

This hallowed place of rest for our ancestors deserves better than it has received. It falls to the generations living today to give the cemetery its due, if for no other reason than a show of respect for this burial ground, and especially in gratitude for the stalwart pioneers who risked everything to settle what is now known as Pinson Valley.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Neighbors Part 2

The second church that we will discuss from the early days of Tarrant was the Bethel Methodist Church, established between 1818 and 1820 by Methodist “Circuit Rider”, Rev. Ebenezer Hearn. Between 1817 and 1818, Rev. James Tarrant (a veteran of the American Revolution) traveled from South Carolina to Alabama with his family, including son Benjamin (a veteran of the War of 1812), and Benjamin’s wife, Morning, and their two children. Travelers into the Tarrant area often stopped at a large campground near to what was called the Big Spring on Five Mile Creek. It was popular because there was fresh water to drink and clothes could be washed. Rev. Tarrant had been sent by the Methodist Bishop in Nashville to establish a Methodist church in the area. James eventually moved on and built the Bethlehem Methodist Church, near Hueytown, with his slave, Adam, in 1818. Benjamin and his family, however, purchased property in the Tarrant area and maintained his home there until he died in 1874. Benjamin made his living both through farming and as a local politician. Benjamin also had a well-deserved reputation for hard living and was known to be a heavy drinker and gambler. However, in 1842, Benjamin changed his ways and was ordained as a Methodist minister. He later became active at Bethel Church where he was an evangelist for the next 30 years. Contrary to popular opinion, Tarrant was named for Benjamin Tarrant and NOT for his ancestor, Felix. Virtually all of the Tarrant family trace their lineage from Judge Leonard Tarrant who fought with Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend. (There is a well-known 1814 hand-drawn map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, drawn for Captain Leonard Tarrant).

bethlehem_1

Bethlehem United Methodist from Hueytown Historical Society

Northeastern Jefferson County paid a significant role in the Civil War. Bethel Church was used as a gathering spot for rebel soldiers from Tarrant who were members of Company C, 19th Alabama infantry, the Jefferson County unit originating “from Hagood’s Crossroads [Pinson]… and included the sons of all the planters for miles around”. The “Reminiscences of Julius C. Greene” note that the militia mustered once a year at Massey Springs on the Huntsville Trail [Pinson Valley Parkway and Valleycrest Road]. People from all over the county came and stayed a week. The young men would drill; the old men talked crops and politics; the young women cooked and played games; the old women would knit and gossip. There would be a dance every night, an old-fashioned square dance. Some old negro slaves, with wing collar, long-tailed coat, and pants as tight as their skin would call the dance while the negro fiddlers played “Cotton Eye Joe,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “The Devil’s Dream,” and other old time pieces”.

The officers of the militia were: General John Massey, Major Robert H. Green, Captain A. J. Tarrant, Lieutenant John Ayers, Second Lieutenant George Barton, and Top Sergeant Robert N. Martin. Because of its close association with the rebel cause, Bethel Church was burned in 1865 by Wilson’s Raiders during the same sweep in which Hanby’s Forge was destroyed and the University of Alabama was burned.

386px-James_Wilson_(soldier)

Union General James H. Wilson

Tarrant had its share of racial strife during the Civil War and Reconstruction. There is a reference to carpetbaggers wanting the blacks to kill all the whites between “Massey’s Springs and Hagood’s Crossroads” and yet another about arresting “every man from Hagood’s Crossroads to Five Mile Creek”. John Massey was one of the largest slave owners in Jefferson County. In the 1860 census he owned over 60 slaves. Greene mentions that “George L. Greene settled at what is now Tarrant and Major Robert H. Greene at what is now the Munger farm, six miles above Tarrant”.(Yankees camped on the farm when they came through the area). It is from this turmoil that the third Tarrant church emerged. Beginning as a prayer group of run-away slaves from Bibb County who joined with and others who worked on the plantation. First meeting in different houses each week, the group organized a brush arbor church [a rough-hewn, open-sided shelter constructed of vertical poles driven into the ground with additional long poles laid across the top as support for a roof of brush, cut branches or hay. Brush arbors were sometimes used by churches to protect worshipers from the weather during revival meetings] in 1891 known as Goins Chapel, for the former slave who eventually became a successful farmer and donated the land where the church would be located. Because “Chapel” was more often used by the Methodist church, the name was changed to Rushing Springs Baptist Church, a reference to a free-flowing spring near the church. Of special note is that the church had an early rule that required its Pastors to be able to read and write.

church

Rushing Springs Baptist Church, Tarrant, Alabama

 

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Neighbors Part 1

In this month’s blog, we will talk about my old stomping grounds – our neighbors on highway 79 – from Tarrant (in the interest of full disclosure, I was an Inglenook kid, growing up just over the city limits into Birmingham) north on Pinson Valley Parkway including Robinwood, Ketona, Pawnee, the Jefferson State area and on out to Pinson. From a historical perspective, these areas have much more in common than they do differences.

Tarrant was incorporated as a city in 1918, a mill town owing its existence in large part to the starting of the National Cast Iron Pipe Company. One of the original share owners in NCIPC was Felix Tarrant, a dentist by training. Felix also founded the Tarrant Land Company which sold property in and around the Tarrant area.

Tarrent City Hall marker

However, Tarrant, as a settlement, was there much earlier. Originally called Green[e]’s, or Nabors Springs, the Tarrant area was settled in much the same way as Pinson, by soldiers passing through the area to or from the Creek War or War of 1812. These soldiers later brought or sent for their families to join them in their new home.        After local Native American tribes were forced to cede their land after signing the treaty in 1814 with General Andrew Jackson, the US government opted to offset the costs of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812/Creek War by giving or selling the newly acquired lands to their veterans. Some land was given to those owed pensions due to military service, while some lands were sold for as little as $1.50 per acre.

Churches were almost always at the center, both literally and figuratively, at the center of most early settlements and, as such, were major influences. In Tarrant’s case, however, most denominations did not come onto the scene until after the town was incorporated. That being said, there were three early churches in Tarrant that deserve mentioning. The older of the two was the Smith’s Chapel Methodist Church, founded in the days before Alabama became a state in 1819. Originally next to James Cunningham’s house at the headwaters of the creek named for him, the building was later moved to the Huntsville Road (now Highway 79) close to where Kent Corporation now stands. The Greene family cemetery, where many of the area’s early pioneers (and a minimum of seven slaves) are buried, was next to the church. Families that are residents of the cemetery include Greene, Hagood, Erwin, Massey, Reed, Reid, Marshall, and Hewitt (including Goldsmith Whitehouse Hewitt, a veteran of the American Revolution). Extant church records for Smith Chapel include a copy of the General Rules of the United Methodist Societies (published for the Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church), which admonishes its members to lead an exemplary life: “…by doing no harm; by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which most generally practiced”. These “rules for life” were part of a booklet where the church listed their members, attendance records (including notes on members who had been “expelled”), from 1842 until 1855. Copies of the original church records list members who owned slaves. In addition, it lists the slaves who were members of the church, and who their owners were. While not unexpected for the time, it is ironic that the Rules expressly forbid members of the Methodist church from “buying and selling of men, women, and children, with an intention to enslave them”.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Post Creek War Settlement

This month’s blog will continue our exploration of the early history of northeastern Jefferson on the “triangle” in and around the Pinson area made up of the respective parts of Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair Counties. Anyone with a weather radio can attest to the aggravation that occurs when you adjust your settings to include all three counties… During a good round of thunderstorms, it is hard to get any peace and quiet. In the same way that weather is no respecter of county lines, neither were our forebears to Pinson and surrounding areas.

Alabama_counties_1818

1818 Map of Alabama depicting county arrangements

            The Treaty of Fort Jackson effectively ended the Creek War in 1814 and opened what is now the state of Alabama to settlement by the soldiers and settlers who had come from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia to fight in the Creek War of 1813-14. When the war ended, they returned to take advantage of lands ceded to the United States by Native-Americans. As the population grew, the need for governmental infrastructure led to more counties being created in a relatively short period.

Blount County was created by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on February 6, 1818, formed from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814 and was named for GovernorWillie Blount of Tennessee, who provided significant assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War. Blount County lies in what is known as the mineral region of Alabama. Last month’s blog introduced Caleb Friley and John Jones, who established Jonesborough, near current day Bessemer. As with other settlers coming into the area, Jones and Friley first came down the Huntsville Road from Tennessee into what is now Blount and Jefferson County. They established Bear Meat Cabin in 1816. In April of 1816, Rev. Ebenezer Hearn preached his first sermon here, signaling the beginning of Methodism in central Alabama. A post office was opened in 1821, and the settlement was incorporated as Blountsville in December of 1827.

325px-bear-meat-cabinjpg-8bc6f51a21881783

Ole Bear Meat Cabin.  (Junior Blount County Historical Society/BhamWiki)

            Originally part of Blount County, Jefferson County was established on December 13, 1819, named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The following day, December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state in the Union. The county is located on the southernmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains and lies in the center of what was the iron, coal, and limestonemining belt of the Southern US. Long before Birmingham was founded in 1871, the county seat of Jefferson County was located in Carrollsville (near Princeton Hospital on Birmingham’s west end) from 1819 to 1821. Elyton was the county seat from 1821 to 1873, when it was usurped by the new city of Birmingham.

Village Springs, the first settlement in the Pinson area, more or less straddles the Jefferson and Blount county lines. Along with Palmerdale, Remlap is also named for the area’s Palmer family. Remlap is “Palmer” spelled backwards (some stories tell of some alleged disagreement that forced the communities to separate). Clay and Argo meet near where Jefferson and St. Clair counties meet.

St. Clair County was established on November 20, 1818 by splitting off from Shelby County. The county is named in honor of General Arthur St. Clair, who came to America from Scotland as an officer in the British Army in the French and Indian War and later served as a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

ArthurStClairOfficialPortrait-restored

General Arthur St. Clair

            Originally called St. Clairsville, Ashville, the county seat, was named for John Ash, a senator in the state’s first General Assembly. In 1836, a portion of St. Clair County was separated to establish Cherokee County and DeKalb County. In 1866, after the Civil War, a northeast section of the county was used to create Etowah County. St. Clair currently has county seats in both Ashville and Pell City, making it one of two counties in Alabama, and one of 33 in the US, with more than one county seat.

 

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Early Settlements

The history of what we now know as Pinson extends beyond the borders of our town… Geographically, it encompasses the entirety of the northeastern part of Jefferson County. When we examine the footprint over time, we see that it existed before there was a Jefferson County (Jefferson County was originally part of Blount County) actually; even before there was a state of Alabama.

These neighboring communities and Pinson developed from the same pages of US history – soldiers and settlers moving through the area as they moved southward from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Predominantly, they came first with military or volunteer forces joining the Creek War effort or later, taking advantage of lands forcibly ceded to the United States by Native-Americans.

Indian Cessions 1830-1834

In what was termed the “Great Migration”, veterans and others surged into Alabama. They were awed by the plentiful natural resources, rich soil, clear water, and moderate weather that bode well for future farming and settlement. In addition, what is now northeastern Jefferson County enjoyed an abundance of raw materials needed for the forging of iron and steel. The state’s population swelled from approximately 9,000 in 1810 to over 145,000 in 1820.

alabama settlers

Among the first settlers to our area were John Jones and Caleb Friley. Relatives by marriage, these ironsmiths from Tennessee traveled down the Huntsville Road in about 1815 with the throngs of others looking for opportunities in this new land. Jones and Friley had both been with Jackson’s West Tennessee Militia that marched through the territory in 1813. Jones and his family eventually settled in what is now Bessemer, near to where Splash Adventure Water Park now stands. After planting crops, several members of the Jones family built cabins and a stockade to protect them from Indian raids. Called Fort Jonesborough, the settlement that developed came to be known as Jonesboro. Jones Valley is also named for John Jones and his family.

map-old-jonesborough-alabama-18881888 Map showing Jonesboro

Shortly after its founding, Williamson Hawkins another veteran of the War of 1812 and reputed to be a relative of David Crockett (he hated to be called “Davy”), made it to the Jonesboro settlement in May 1815 after being detained in Tennessee “on personal business”. Hawkins drove some cattle with him, bringing “all the supplies he could pack on a horse”, including using a “drag” behind the horse to carry some of the goods. Hawkins eventually built a 2,000 acre plantation near Elyton, then the county seat of Jefferson County. Possibly at Hawkins’ urging, a colony of settlers from Rutherford County Tennessee moved into the area now known as Woodlawn. Other settlers came from South Carolina. In these groups of settlers came many of the names associated with northeast Jefferson County, including, but not limited to: Wood, Barton, Reid (Reed), Tarrant, Green (Greene), Brown, Cowden, Montgomery, and Cunningham.

Woodlawn takes its name from the Wood family, headed by Obadiah Wood and his son Edmund. The town of Rockville was established on Edmund’s twelve hundred acre plantation in 1832. A group of houses sprang up along what was known as the Georgia Road. When the Alabama and Chattanooga railroad was built in 1870, the town became known as Wood Station, and later Woodlawn.

wood_obadiah_washington_1815-1893,_rpr_collx

Obadiah Washington Wood, 1815-1893

Another resident of the area was George Roebuck, who built a home on Georgia Road near where the Boys’ Industrial School is located. Roebuck was named for George. His brother, Alfred Roebuck had a “stand” (an early combination rest area, truck stop, bed & breakfast, curb market, and used animal lot) at the intersection of the Huntsville Road and Stout’s Road in Norwood.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Alabama Fever

When last we visited the history of the area near and around Pinson, we had made our way through the war years during which our ancestors fought the War of 1812 and the Creek War of 1813-1814. Some settlers had arrived in the area prior to the wars while others found their way as they traveled to join Jackson and others in the war effort. These new arrivals came into Alabama from Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Of particular note are the volunteers coming into the state from eastern and middle Tennessee to help fight the war (that’s how Tennessee became known as the Volunteer state).

            These settlers traveled by way of the Huntsville Road, a trail originally cleared and used by Native-Americans. The road began in Fayetteville, Tennessee. It was lengthened as soldiers moved southward from Fayetteville to Huntsville (at Ditto’s Landing), then to Mudtown (a Native-American village located on the Cahaba River; Blountsville, down to Elyton (later the city of Birmingham), and then finally to Tuscaloosa. In very general terms, the road moved down what is now US Highway 231, merging with what is now AL Highway 79, passing Pinson on its way south and then moving down what is now Pinson Valley Parkway, into Tarrant and then turning right (approximately where the Cedar House restaurant is today) toward the neighborhoods of North Birmingham and Norwood in Birmingham.

Alabama Trail Map

The Huntsville Road, also known as “Bear Meat Cabin Road” (pictured above), took many early Alabama settlers through modern day Pinson, AL.

            Aside from the natural beauty found in the lush hills (some of the highest points in Jefferson County are found here) and valleys of what are now Blount and Jefferson counties, there were added incentives. As Native American tribes ceded territory after their defeat in the wars, a land rush occurred when settlers and land speculators moved in to establish land claims in Alabama. This influx of settlers driven by the availability of cheap and plentiful land became known as “Alabama Fever”. New arrivals were impressed with the availability of good land with plentiful natural resources where they could hunt and farm. There was plenty of available timber and other materials that they could build their homes from. They liked what they saw and determined to build a new life in the area. Both before the wars (some family histories claim kin living in the area before 1808) and afterward, they traveled to the area that they had fallen in love with and established settlements here.

            Daniel Murphree, from South Carolina, established a settlement that became known as Murphree’s Valley and, later, as Village Springs. The area between Pinson and Oneonta is still known by that name). Dr. Zachariah Hagood and his family settled here after the Creek War about 1816. The Hagood and Anderson families helped to found Oldsides Baptist Church (now Pinson First Baptist) in 1818 and included a slave member, Alfred Hagood. Dr. Zachariah, as he was known, allowed mail service to be operated from his home beginning in 1836. However, it was not Dr. Zachariah that lent his name to the town. The doc’s son, Robert opened a store at the crossroads in town. The settlement became known as Hagood’s Crossroads, and the name stuck until about 1852, when a vote by the townspeople renamed it Mount Pinson. The story goes that the name change resulted from a group of men from Pinson, Tennessee stopping in town for a few days while herding their horses and mules. They camped on a piece of land between Oldsides Baptist and Old Bradford Road that was often used by people passing through and needing to stop for the night. Later settling here, they said the area reminded them of home, so they starting calling the area Mount Pinson, later shortened to Pinson…

murphree_cabin

Daniel Murphree’s cabin was orginally constructed in Murphree’s Valley and later relocated to Palisades Park in Oneonta, AL. Photo Courtesy of http://www.blountcountypark.com

            One of Jackson’s blacksmiths, David Hanby, and his family purchased land here by as early as 1822. The Hanby’s not only farmed, but operated a blacksmith shop (producing horseshoes and household goods) and was also successful in the mining and selling of coal. James Cunningham and Hanby both operated mills on Cunningham Creek and Turkey Creek, respectively. Most of these early mills were designed to grind corn, but could not grind wheat. Other mill owners of the day were Jonathan Moreland, John Click, and a Mr. Revis, among others.

            Our history extends beyond the borders of what we now know as the Pinson area. It extends and includes most of the communities that surround us. We will discuss these communities, the pioneers that settled them, and the ways that we are all connected in the months ahead.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Holiday Traditions

330px-Johansen_Viggo_-_Radosne_Boże_Narodzenie

As we go through the late-year holidays, almost everyone spends at least a little time reflecting on the traditions that have come down to us through the years; decades certainly, but often centuries. Maybe we perceive them as memories of something that “our” family did, a holiday parade or festival, a church or town tradition, and maybe (or likely) a special meal. However they manifest themselves, our beliefs and traditions; religious or secular, ones specific to a given family or to our community in general, are the culmination of celebration and ritual from years past. While no tradition that I am aware of makes any claim to be uniquely Pinsonian, it is good to consider the customs and traditions from the past.

christmas parade

Many Pinsonians celebrate the holidays at the Annual Christmas Parade in Pinson Alabama

            Many of our holiday customs were born of a western-European Judeo/Christian tradition… including the Yule tree, a myriad of holiday foods, the giving and receiving of gifts, and (hopefully), a sense of peace and goodwill and the desire to set differences aside. In this spirit, it is useful to examine some of the traditions of the Native-Americans who lived in our area before the arrival of Europeans and others. While such traditions did not stem from the same origins, many of their core values were similar and are worth comparing to our more familiar ones…

For Native-American peoples in the southeastern US (including Cherokee and Muscogee peoples), corn (or maize) was their single most important food and played an important role in their rituals and celebrations. Accordingly, the most important ceremony of the year was the Green Corn festival; Posketv or Puskita (pronounced Bus-get-uh) in their native language and the Busk in English). Traditionally held for four to eight days in late summer, the festival was tied to the harvest of the corn crop and signified the start of the new year. Held when the first crop became edible, the festival celebrated both the success of the crop and the sense of family and community that came from everyone working together to achieve a common goal. First, there was a ritual Fasting, which began the first afternoon of the festival and lasted until the second sunrise, which signified cleansing the body of all impurities. The remainder of the festival was marked by singing, dancing, and feasting.

GreenCornDance

Native Americans celebrating their annual harvest during the Green Corn Festival

            Taking place in a central ceremonial circle surrounded by arbors [trees or scrubs] with the leaders of the tribe [wise men?] facing one of the four cardinal directions. At the center of the circle was the ceremonial fire, which served as the focal area of prayers and songs of the people and was considered a living and sacred entity that relayed prayers to the god Hsaketumese (the Maker of Breath), the purifying power that balanced the universe.

Two attributes of the holiday are especially worth noting. First, the festival was used to celebrate renewal and the sacredness of life. Old fires were extinguished and cleared away, the village was thoroughly cleaned and worn or broken pottery was discarded (unless it could be used for other duties). Secondly, it was a time of forgiveness. All debts, disagreements, and crimes (except for rape and murder) were forgiven. The sense of renewal for the new year was symbolized by the kindling of new fires and display of sacred objects, such as brass or copper plates or pots and new medicine bundles.

So, it seems that many of the values and traditions that we hold dear were the same in many ways to those of the Native-Americans that lived here before us. As we each celebrate the coming holidays with our friends and family, let’s take a moment to reflect on the traditions of those peoples that came before and to cherish the truly important things that make our time together special. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Pinson’s Legacy: Historical Perspectives

This month’s article is a bit of a change in that I will be voicing an editorial opinion. I am taking the opportunity to respond to a recent inquiry regarding why some of my monthly articles review broader events in Alabama history that do not seem to be related to either the TCNP or to the Pinson area.

Specifically, in this particular case, what do the events surrounding the Creek War and War of 1812 have to do with the Pinson area? Such inquiries are good ones, and extend beyond the parameters of any given question. Answers to such questions strike at the core of why we study history in the first place. It provides a venue by which we can examine the machinery of life and events, both ordinary and extraordinary, that prompted the actions (or inactions) of our forebears. It also prompts us to reflect on what was going in our immediate vicinity, as well as on a broader stage. It provides a lens through which we can examine the circumstances of historical events and the roles they play; not only in their time, but ours.

First, I will set the stage by acknowledging certain personal biases regarding the history of Alabama, in general, and the history of Pinson and Jefferson County, in particular. Accordingly, the views stated here are totally my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of TCNP (or anyone else for that matter).

First, I admit to being an unapologetic history geek, so I tend to add more detail than many would find useful. I believe that far too many Alabamians (and Pinsonians) do not know, do not appreciate, or do not care about our rich and varied history, both good and bad. There are many who do not have an adequate understanding of our history; why it was important then, why it is important now, and how events in other parts of the state, the country, or the world, affect us.

Now that that is off my chest, I will attempt to answer the original query… If we question what role or impact the War of 1812 or Creek War directly played on the Pinson area, then the answer is probably not much… Based on what we know today, there were no permanent Native-American settlements either on Turkey Creek or near what is now Pinson. In general, battles or skirmishes during the Creek War occurred to the south and to the east of us. Moreover, as noted in earlier articles, the closest events of the War of 1812 to Pinson took place along the Gulf Coast. So, from these facts alone, there would seem to be no definitive impact of the wars on our area. However, if we look at how Pinson was affected indirectly, then the answer is a little more interesting…

Native Americans had lived in the area for millennia. The Pinson area was known to have been a common hunting and meeting area for Native American tribes and related artifacts have been routinely found. Pinson Cave was formally excavated in 1970 as a burial site and ossuary for Native Americans dating from the Late Woodlands period of approximately 1,000 years ago. There was an Upper Creek Village north of what is now Trussville. Other key Native American sites can be found within reasonable travel distance (for their time) in any direction.

By 1815, more and more settlers were moving into what is now Alabama, drawn by the vast amounts of cheap ($2 per acre), available land and rich natural resources, much of which was being forcibly ceded to the United States by Native American tribes. Land speculation and profiteering (Andrew Jackson was a sizeable investor in these endeavors) was at an all-time high. On our end of the state, settlers arrived from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia. While some settlers were already in the area prior to formal hostilities, many travelled down to join Jackson and others in the war effort. As they viewed the lush hills and valleys of what is now Blount and Jefferson counties, they liked what they saw and determined to return and live when the fighting was done. A historical figure, no less than the legendary Davy Crockett, viewed a tract of land near Oneonta and stated that it was “the one spot in the world” he wanted to settle (Bennett, 2008, 27). Crockett and Sam Houston both fought for Jackson during the Creek War in Alabama and went on to make history in the Texas Republic.

Most hostilities ceased by 1815 and soldiers began the long trek home. They returned to this area that they had fallen in love with and established a settlement there. The Huntsville Road, which ran from Fayetteville, Tennessee through Huntsville to Blountsville to Elyton to Tuscaloosa, passed Pinson on its way south. The current name of Pinson comes from the area in Tennessee where a number of these early settlers originated. Prior to that, we were known by a number of names: Murphree’s Valley, Village Springs, and Hagood’s Crossroads. Eventually known as Mount Pinson, the name was later shortened to Pinson.

History does not occur in a vacuum… As such, we need to have a clear understanding of not only what is happening in our own back yard, but also what is happening around us. Pinson does not have a direct connection to either the Creek War or the War of 1812. However, it can be argued that the indirect effects are significant. While it is relatively certain that the area would have been settled eventually, we owe our origins to those returning from the wars and chose to settle here. Moreover, we can be equally proud of the link to our Native American ancestors. Learning and exploration should be continued in these and other aspects of our history, and our younger residents need to share in the adventure.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: The War of 1812 Part 3

Alabama played a role in the War of 1812 primarily because of a civil war between the Creek Indians. The Federal Road divided the traditional Upper Creeks from more assimilated Lower Creeks. Towns were further categorized as either “Red” or “White”. Red towns were governed by warriors only. The term “red” refers to the warlike disposition of these towns, but does not correspond to the English adjective “bloody”. It depicts the wrath or anger the warriors felt when out on the warpath. The posts of the town cabin in the public square were painted red on one side. White towns, also called “peace” or “conservative” towns, were governed by civil officers and were considered places of refuge and safety to individuals who had left their tribes in fear of punishment or revenge at the hand of their pursuers. Creek ownership of traditional lands was endangered as land-hungry whites moved across it or settled illegally on it. (Andrew Jackson was a determined and non-apologetic land speculator in his own right).

The British sent Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, from the Great Lakes to unite all Indians against white Americans and form an alliance with England and Spain.

220px-Tecumseh02

England and Spain incited the Creeks against American settlers and supplied Creeks with guns and ammunition. Battles raged on the frontier between Creek “Red Sticks” and American militia led by General Andrew Jackson. The last and most famous battle, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (now a National Military Park) destroyed the strength of the Creek Nation. General Jackson forced the Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, ceding some forty thousand square miles of land to the United States.Foreign influence among Indians was destroyed.

The Fort Jackson Treaty, acquiring Creek lands, began a series of forced land-cession treaties by the United States with other southern tribes until all were removed west. General Andrew Jackson became a national hero for defeating the Creeks, a victory that helped pave his way to become President of the United States.

265x359xcreek_war_map.jpg.pagespeed.ic.S2nlfaS2Mv

The Creek War of 1813-14 began as a civil war, largely centered among the Upper Creeks, whose towns were located on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, and upper reaches of the Alabama rivers. The struggle pitted a faction of the Creeks who became known as Red Sticks against those Creeks who supported the National Council, a relatively new body that had developed from the traditional regional meetings of headmen from the Creek towns. Under the auspices of federal Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins, the National Council’s authority and powers had been expanded. The war broke out against the backdrop of the American-British War of 1812. Americans, fearful that southeastern Indians would ally with the British, quickly joined the war against the Red Sticks, turning the civil war into a military campaign designed to destroy Creek power. It was essentially this potential alliance with the British that brings the Creek War under the umbrella of the War of 1812.

Benjamin_Hawkins_and_the_Creek_Indians

Benjamin Hawkins, Painted in 1805

To prove their loyalty to the United States, contingents of Choctaw and Cherokee warriors joined the American war against the Creeks. Thus, the Creek civil war was quickly transformed into a multidimensional war that resulted in the total defeat of the Creek people at the hands of American armies and their Native American allies.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: The War of 1812 Part 2

Britain’s ongoing wars with France had drained and divided English resources. After Napoleon abdicated in 1814, the British were able to focus their military attention on the Americans.  From a foreign policy viewpoint, the British never recognized Napoleon as a legitimate ruler. As such, his sale of the vast Louisiana territory to the US was considered to be invalid. If the sale was not valid, then Louisiana must be returned to the its rightful owner before Napoleon took possession, Spain (who just happened to be an ally of Britain). If it turned out that Spain did not have the resources or will to administer this territory, the British would take it over. The British planned to take New Orleans and then head up river to meet up with other British troops coming down from Canada. This would effectively surround and close off the entire US supply chain. This pincer move would likely force the young country back into the hands of the British Empire and would effectively quash the outlandish idea of a democratically elected government, the only one of its kind in the world.

The British were fatally overconfident over what they considered to be the foregone conclusion of the war (but seemingly with good reason). Britain was so certain that they would triumph that they took the liberty of sending a group of administrators with the fleet in order to put the new government into action once the war was over. Following the money, British speculators sent commercial ships to carry away the booty of New Orleans, estimated to be worth 14 million dollars.

It is a common misconception that the final battle of the War of 1812 was the one at New Orleans. Popular legends abound (historical accuracy aside, I especially enjoy the 1959 hit song “The Battle of New Orleans” by  Johnny Horton). It was there on January 8, 1815 that, against all odds, General Andrew Jackson and his ragtag army of Tennessee militia, slaves, Native-Americans, and Jean Lafitte’s pirates (along with two warships and five gunboats), outnumbered and outgunned, defeated crack British naval and ground forces under the command of Major General Edward Pakenham, an experienced and capable officer. What should have been a British rout of US forces turned out to be, conversely, a lopsided victory for the Americans. When the smoke cleared, Pakenham was dead, the British had lost over 2,000 killed and wounded while the Americans incurred around 350 casualties.

An interesting fact about the battle was that it occurred after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed in December of 1814. However, it took two months for news of the agreement to reach the troops. During the time, fighting continued unabated.

treaty of ghent

Signing the Treaty of Ghent

             The last battle of the War of 1812 actually took place at Fort Bowyer on Mobile Bay. Fort Bowyer stood on the site where the later Fort Morgan would stand.

In 1803, the US claimed Mobile and the bay as part of Louisiana Purchase. In 1813, on orders from President James Madison, the fort was seized by Regular US soldiers under the command of Major General James Wilkinson and militia under Colonel John Bowyer, extending the Mississippi Territory to include Mobile Bay.

In September 1814, the British had attacked Fort Bowyer, but were rebuffed. They changed their strategy and attacked New Orleans. After their embarrassing defeat in January, 1815, the British fled New Orleans and tried to take Fort Bowyer once again as a conciliation prize. With thirty-eight warships and 1,400 troops, British forces under General John Lambert attacked the fort and built siege works. To prevent needless bloodshed, Major William Lawrence surrendered with 360 men after withstanding the siege for five days. The British victory was short-lived. By the time word of the peace accord reached Mobile, the British had held the fort only for a short while. The fort was turned back over to the Americans, resulting in Mobile being the only additional land acquired in War of 1812.

1021-attack_on_fort_bowyer

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: The War of 1812

           Although not typically thought of as a key player in the second war against Britain, Alabama can boast a number of sites and events of historical interest. Granted, only a few were directly involved with the conflict with the British, and much more revolving around the Creek War of 1813-1814.

            Between 1812 and 1815, Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory (Mississippi became a state in 1817, Alabama in 1819), and played a very minor role in the War of 1812, in terms of the conflict with the British. Aside from some relatively minor skirmishes at Mobile, then part of West Florida, Alabama essentially served as a conduit for troops moving south from Tennessee and other states to the Gulf Coast. While not a major player in the war against the British, it was on Alabama soil that much of the Creek War took place. It is important to look at the overall picture to put things in context. Articles for the next couple of months will attempt to put the “Anglo” part of the War of 1812 in perspective.

mississippi territoryThe Mississippi Territory

            There were two driving causes of the war with Britain. First, a British blockade of American ports on the Atlantic coast kept needed goods from reaching our shores and prevented American goods from being shipped to other countries. The embargo was an economic disaster for the US. Merchants were unable to see their merchandise… goods were literally rotting on the docks. When there were no sales, there were no sales taxes. As such, The young US government had defaulted on its debt. Such economic pressures caused internal discontent within individual states, who saw themselves as sovereign entities that were somewhat loosely joined in a United States “cooperative” (the fight over “state’s rights” vs. strong federal government would continue to raise its ugly head until leading to the Civil War). Some New England states were openly considering secession  with the intent of forging their own treaty with Britain. New England tended to be against the war and hoped for a compromise that would end the conflict. The forced impressment of American merchant sailors into the British navy was the second cause. It is estimated that around 10,000 Americans were forced to serve under the Union Jack.

            Much of the first two years of the war were waged in Canada, on the Great Lakes, and on the open seas of the Atlantic. US forces had attempted numerous times to invade parts of Canada, but to no avail. In fact, the failed northern invasions resulted in large parts of what is now Maine (then part of Massachusetts) falling into British hands.

1814-burningBurning of the White House by British Troops

            The parts of the War of 1812 that most people tend to remember are that the capital at Washington City was taken and burned by the British in retaliation for the US burning of York (Toronto), Canada. However, Dolley Madison was able to save the famous portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart from the burning White House. A month later, the Battle of Fort McHenry took place in Baltimore harbor and the country gained the Star Spangled Banner.        

Ft McHenrythe Battle of Ft McHenry

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Alabama Fever

By the early 19th century, there was increasing American pressure for Indian tribes to relinquish their ancestral lands so that it could be opened for settlement, sparking a land frenzy known as “Alabama Fever”. Looking to profit from cheap and plentiful tracts of fertile land, some speculators pushed for ways to force native relocation while others went so far as to advocate eradicating the Native-American population in order to force the ceding of land to the US. However, attempts to make the tribes comfortable with US presence by way of assimilation was the most prevalent. Tribes were assured that they were the “red children” of the “Great Father” in Washington and, as his “children”, he wanted them to be happy and satisfied. Appointed “Indian Agents”, notably Benjamin Hawkins, acted as go-betweens between the tribes and the US Government that actively worked to facilitate this approach. Native-Americans were encouraged to “buy in” to western European ways through use of iron tools, agricultural practices which minimized the “footprint” of land acreage required for agriculture, and acceptance of western culture, laws, and practices. In some cases, self-serving Native-American leaders were given “sweetheart” deals (or bribes) to make concessions of native lands (without approval of other tribal leaders) to the US in exchange for incentives such as land, slaves, military rank, and government pensions.

benjaminhawkinsBenjamin Hawkins

            While some Indians genuinely sided with the Americans and were receptive to innovative approaches for making life better and more comfortable, others were outraged at the US attempt at prying ancestral lands away from the tribes. Bolstered by the fortuitous 1811 comet (visible with the naked eye for upwards of 260 days) and a series of four earthquakes centered in New Madrid, MO (two in December, 1811 and one each in January and February, 1812), each with a magnitude of 7.0 or more, ringing church bells in Charleston, SC, and toppling chimneys as far as Cincinnati, OH, the Shawnee leader Tecumseh used prophesy to spread his message promoting violent resistance to American encroachment.

220px-Tecumseh02Shawnee leader Tecumseh

            The Creek nation occupied the majority of lands in Alabama. Cherokees lived in the northeastern part of the state, Chickasaws in the northwest and Choctaws in the southwest. Aside from being individual tribes within a confederacy, Creeks were further categorized as living in either Upper or Lower towns, determined by where they were located relative to “upper” and “lower” trade paths connecting the Creeks to South Carolina. In Alabama, this dividing line ran very roughly from east central Alabama (south of Sylacauga) diagonally below Montgomery, running parallel to I-65 South and then westward along US Highway 84 at Evergreen on to Mobile. Towns effectively served as capitals or county seats and were important centers of tribal culture and politics. They also reflected differing views regarding the flow of settlers into Creek tribal lands. Many of the Upper Towns of the Muskogee, took up the banner for resisting the increasing American presence, while many of the Lower Towns believed the influx of settlers brought opportunities for increased trade and profit. These differing points of view between Upper and Lower Towns resulted initially in a civil war between opposing factions of the Muskogee Nation, which exacerbated each side’s position and escalated into what has become known as the Red Stick War or Creek War with the US, usually considered as part of the War of 1812.

creek nationWilliam Bonar’s map of the Creek Nation

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: The Muskogee

With the arrival of the Spanish and other Europeans came new infectious diseases which ravaged the indigenous peoples and contributed to the depopulation and collapse of the Mississippian culture. As survivors and descendants regrouped, the Muskogee (or Creek) Confederacy arose. The Muskogee were the first group of Native Americans to be “civilized” or “assimilated” under George Washington’s civilization plan. The Muskogee were known as one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) because they embraced a number of cultural and technological practices of the Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period. What we know as Creeks were not a single tribe, but a loose alliance of Muskogee-speaking peoples, that likely aligned in order to guard against other tribes that posed a threat of conquest. The “Creek” name seems to have resulted from the common practice of English colonists to designate tribes based upon their geographical location, in this case, from a shortening of the name given to tribes living along the Ocmulgee River, (or Ocheese Creek) in Georgia. What became known as the Creek Nation (or Creek Confederation) was not always a unified body. The union was in constant flux, with its numbers and land possessions ever-changing as small bands joined and withdrew from the alliance.

civil tribes

            The Muskogee lived in autonomous villages in river valleys throughout present-day Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, speaking several related Muskogean languages. Muskogee was spoken from the Chattahoochee to the Alabama. Koasati (Coushatta) and Alibamu were spoken in the upper Alabama basin and parts of the Tennessee River.

The most important social unit was the clan. Clan membership and hierarchical power in the tribe was matrilineal. Clan leaders were typically older women, respectfully termed “mother” or “grandmother”. Clans organized hunts, distributed lands, arranged marriages, and punished lawbreakers. In the Muskogee culture, the Wind Clan was considered the highest-ranking of the clans and the majority of village chiefs (micos) belonged to this Clan. It was commonplace for romantic relationships to occur between Creeks and settlers (either white or black), resulting in children of mixed heritage. These children, (or métis) were accepted freely into Creek society. Since many of the children had a Creek mother, their right of inheritance or succession was unabated.

The basic social unit was the town (talwa). The Upper Towns, located on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Alabama rivers, were Tuckabatchee, Abhika, Coosa, Itawa, Hilibi, Eufaula, Wakokai, Atasi, Alibamu, Coushatta (Koasati; they had absorbed the Kaski/Casqui and the Tali), and Tuskegee (“Napochi”).

The most important leader in Muskogee society was the mico or village chief. Micos led warriors in battle and represented their villages, but held authority only insofar as they could persuade others to agree with their decisions. The authority of the micos was greatly limited by clan leaders. Micos ruled with the assistance of micalgi or lesser chiefs, and various advisors, including a second in charge called the heniha, respected village elders, medicine men, and a tustunnuggee or ranking warrior, the principal military advisor. The yahola or medicine man officiated at various rituals, especially administering the “black drink” (a ritual beverage consisting of roasted leaves of the Yaupon Holly, which contained caffeine), and engaged in purification ceremonies.

pict36

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Muskogee Settlements

Pinson has an ancient and abiding link with its past – especially its Native American past. As part of the Upper Creek territory settled by Creek (or Muskogee) peoples, much of this heritage is because of water. If anyone spends any appreciable time in or around Pinson, they quickly realize that there is water…lots and lots of water. Creeks, streams, ponds, lakes, you name it, we have this liquid gold in abundance. The earliest white pioneers realized it – that’s one of the reasons they settled here (David Hanby and his mills are a good example.)  Much earlier, Native American tribes roaming through the area depended on the presence of water and the bounty that it yielded – game, wild fruits and vegetables, rich land to grow crops, and trees for shelter. There were also abundant rocks and minerals to be shaped into tools and weapons (Red Mountain in Birmingham was named for the iron ore deposits that local Indians used to color their faces and bodies.) The importance of these water features to Native peoples is well-documented given the number of artifacts (mostly projectiles) commonly found around the creeks. What may be less known is that, while nominally Muskogee, the area in and around Pinson is believed to have been used by a number of tribes as a gathering and hunting ground.

The Muskogee descended from Mississippian culture, which developed in the Mississippi(for which it is named) and Tennessee River Valleys and flourished in what is now the US before the arrival of Europeans. The Woodland Period (illustrated by the Pinson Cave) predates the Mississippian Period. Almost all dated Mississippian sites predate Spanish exploration of the area in ca. CE 1540. Mississippians were structured as a collection of moderately-sized chiefdom’s, with completely autonomous villages and tribal groups. While probably best-known as mound-builders, the Mississippians were also characterized by the development of small triangular projectile points, shell tempered pottery, increased agriculture, the establishment of urban centers and regional chiefdom’s, and a stratified society with a hereditary religious and political upper class. Unfortunately, by the time of Spanish exploration, many of the Mississippian political centers were already in decline or abandoned.

The best known Mississippian site in Alabama is located at Moundville, although there are important sites near Mobile (Bottle Creek) and Florence (believed to be the largest mound in the Tennessee River Valley.) A lesser known, but nevertheless important, mound site was located near Bessemer (near Alabama Adventure water park). Also less well-known are three sites excavated in 1973 prior to the construction of the Miller Steam Plant by the Alabama Power Company near West Jefferson. Shortly thereafter, two small sites were excavated in the Cahaba River drainage. All of these sites date to the Late Woodland and early Mississippian period, resulting in a new sub-classification, the West Jefferson phase. Archaeologists continue intensive investigation of West Jefferson trying to answer a number of important research questions, including the role that West Jefferson might have had in the development of Moundville, Bessemer, or other Mississippian societies, and if other influences might have led to the specific way these cultures and their peoples evolved. These and other questions have prompted ongoing research since the sites were discovered.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Native-American Settlements

Long before the arrival of European settlers, Native-American tribes, most notably Creek (or Muskogee),  roamed through the Pinson area and depended on the abundant supply of water and the bounty that came from it – plentiful game, wild fruits and vegetables, fertile land to grow crops, and trees for shelter. Rocks and minerals could be used for tools and weapons.

Even before Muskogee tribes came into the area, Pinson was home to native peoples categorized as living during the Late-Woodland period. The Woodland period dates between 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. In Alabama, the Woodland period was characterized by increasing cultural complexity and population growth,  the adoption of agriculture, emergence of pottery-making, use of the bow and arrow, and complex ceremonies surrounding death and burial, including construction of burial mounds and burials in caves. Population growth prompted development  of wide-spread settlements, often settling on small streams. Use of the bow and arrow spread from cultures in the west, making hunting less of a group activity than it had previously been. Families became more self-sufficient and raising crops began to replace hunting as the most important food-producing activity. Pottery developed for a variety of uses, for example, storage of crops, such as maize and squash. Over time, mortuary practices simplified, possibly a decline in ceremonialism signaling a religious evolution focusing on reverence for ancestors of certain lineages. (Later Muskogee lineages were matriarchical in nature.) Evidence indicates that many small groups occasionally gathered together to build mounds and maintain long-range ties. Pottery from different villages was likely bartered and, and over time, developed similarities in form and decoration. Major villages where mounds were located expanded their functions from burial places to centralized places for civic and ceremonial functions. The combined developments of surplus food, special lineages, and, mound centers marked changes in society much different from how people had lived up to that point; changes that set the stage for developments that would take place in subsequent Mississippian periods (highlighted in Alabama by sites such as Moundville and Bottle Creek.)  Cultures in the Tennessee River Valley may have also begun to develop Mississippian characteristics about this time. (It is an interesting coincidence that the Pinson Mounds archaeological site in western Tennessee is also a Late-Woodland site that was used for ceremonies and burials.)

Pinson has one of the few known Woodland-period caves in Alabama. Located off of Dewey Heights Road, the cave was first excavated extensively by Dr. Paul H. Nesbitt and Carey B. Oakley from the University of Alabama in 1969 and 1970. The Pinson Cave was used as an ossuary (a place or receptacle for the bones of the dead) dating to circa 900 CE.

Pinson Cave

References to the cave dating to the Hamilton period likely refer to the type of projective points found, called Hamilton points, named from the first examples found in Hamilton County, Tennessee, near Chattanooga. Hamilton points are small early triangular arrow points that have straight, slightly concave sides, often serrated,  and a straight to slightly concave basal edge. Hamilton points are often very thin and exhibit high quality craftsmanship and flaking skills and technique.

Hamilton Projectile Point

There were two paths into the cave: a vertical shaft as well as a more accessible walkway, which was flanked by stones to make a primitive entry. Oakley’s excavation of about half of the cave yielding the remains of more than fifty individuals. Most interments appear to have been made in the flesh, although one cremated burial bundle was documented. Most burials were dropped into the cave via the vertical shaft. Other artifacts include marine-shell ornaments, bone pins, sandstone saws, various projectile points and a small number of pottery sherds.

Please NOTE that the Pinson cave site is located on private property and is OFF- LIMITS to the public.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: A Rich And Varied History

As a kid growing up in Tarrant and Inglenook during the 60’s and 70’s, I had, of course, heard about Pinson and the surrounding area. In the summer, we would drive the 11 or so miles up old Highway 79 so that we could go swimming at Tapawingo. When I was in the Boy Scouts, we spent days and weeks camping at Indian Valley. Most of us had heard about the old Green cemetery next to Kent Corporation, even if we didn’t necessarily know about who was buried there or what their significance was. In the winter, Pinson always seemed to be about 5 degrees colder than Inglenook. We would go to Camp Cosby out on Old Springville Road, or we would sometimes make our way to Turkey Creek to swim in the Blue Hole or body-surf down the falls. In other words, we were living out our daily lives; thinking about all of the things that kids normally think about, but sure didn’t usually include thinking a lot about Pinson’s history.

And, unfortunately, it is often the same today…In our busy world of smart phones, Facebook, and the 24-hour news cycle, it’s all we can do to deal with our normal daily responsibilities with its litany of IM’s, soccer practices, and dentist appointments. With all of the demands on our time and energy, it’s easy to take Pinson’s history for granted.

In an attempt to raise awareness of a history that we should both know and protect, I will be writing a series of articles exploring some common questions about the rich and varied history of Pinson and the surrounding area.

For example, you may ask “was Pinson always Pinson?” If so, then you will want to be on the lookout for future articles in this series, when we talk about the area’s past, including some of its earliest pioneers and what names the settlement came to be known by. You may not know that the town of Pinson is almost 200 years old and is one of the oldest settled areas in Alabama (in fact, the settlement was here before Alabama became a state); that the Pinson area was once home to ancient Native-Americans, including one of the oldest- known (ca. 900 CE) Native American cave dwellings and burial sites in the United States or that Pinson was the home of a former slave that became an important African-American inventor. You may be surprised that there is an assassinated United States Congressman buried in Green Cemetery. There are also at least two Revolutionary War soldiers buried in the area. You may not realize that Pinson has important connections to the War of 1812 and the Civil War. In addition, Pinson’s roots link us to our neighbors in surrounding cities and counties and read like a who’s who of early pioneers and well-known families, including Davy Crockett, no less.

Since these articles are about our history as a community, suggestions on particular questions or historical areas that you would want to know more about are encouraged…

Pinson 1911Downtown Pinson,AL 1911

E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.