Life in Old South Central Alabama

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South of Birmingham, Alabama, United States
I am an antique trader in central Alabama....I love old houses... My log home was built in 1817 by my ancestors Benjamin and Hannah Harless Wilson .............. Outside the house are herb gardens and lots of pass-along plants................ No one in Alabama is in a hurry about anything......... Visitors think that the garden needs weeding and the furniture needs polishing....I am a direct descendant of Joseph Towne, whose two sisters Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Easty were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 as witches. I am also a direct descendant of Pocahontas and husband John Rolfe.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Anna Melick, age 12, Albany Rural Cemetery

I've had this painting for a while and never noticed on the back the pencil writing in the upper left hand corner. Tonight , after about an hour of trial and error, I was able to positively identify her. 

She was only 12 when she died. I thought she looked older. 

Her name is Anna Melick.  She and her parents lived in Albany, New York. Her father is James H. Melick and her mother is Ruth Ann Melick.  Anna was born 1 January 1858 and died 25 February 1870.  She is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery in Albany, New York.  Her (typed much later) death card says she died of "rheumatism," which I thought was odd for a 12 year old. I suspect the original hand written 1870 document read "rheu" and the 1920's typist misinterpreted the abbreviation.  It was probably rheumatic fever.

The back of the painting says  " Anna Melick Daughter of  James H.and Ruth A. Melick Died Feb 25th 1870 Aged 12 Buried in Albany Rural Cemetery "   This was fading and not easy to read, especially the last name. 

It's her eyes that are so enchanting. 

The 1860 census of Albany, New York lists James H. Melick age 28, wife Ruth Ann age 25, Maria Kelly age 17, Anna Melick age 3, and William Melick age 9/12.    The 1870 lists J. H. Melick age 40, Ruth age 39, Willie age 10, Ella age 9, and Lillie age 5.  (Anna has died earlier that year. ) Her cemetery death card says that although she died 25 Feb 1870 , she was not buried until 21 May 1870.  Was this because the ground in New York was frozen and people had to wait till spring to bury the dead? I've heard that story but being Southern in Alabama didn't know if it were true. She is in Lot 3 Section 34.  Her age on the card is 12 years, 1 month, 25 days which supports her birthday as 1 January 1858.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Alabama peach cobbler

So one of my friends cooked up this homemade peach cobbler.  I didn't get any but he did send me a pic of it just before he ate it!  He is over 2 hours away so he is forgiven for not sharing.  I know I  would have wanted seconds and thirds. 

Lady With a Bonnet and Man with stringy hair

These are my two latest portrait purchases.  The lady with the bonnet seems content enough, but not so happy as perhaps bored with sitting, yet elegant. 

The flowers in the bonnet seem to tag her as an English woman.  She is surely well dressed and has fine jewelry, especially the cameo. 

I liked the gentleman because of his grain painted frame and his stringy hair.  He goes well in my primitive log house.  He is the standard 25 x 30 but she is larger. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Football changes my father's life

 This is a picture of my father on the 1939-40 football team.  He is on the 2nd row sitting next to his friend Mr. Dennis.  He is the guy in the leather helmet.  He had just started 9th grade.

This pic was taken a few days before he broke his left leg in practice.    Then, my grandfather sold his mules and bought two tractors and put my father on one, as he could drive a tractor with his leg in a cast.  

They plowed up the back fields and planted winter crops. Then in the spring they planted corn and cotton, four times as much as they ever had with the mules. 
My father made all A's and was a good student, but after breaking his leg and the tractor investments, my grandfather saw no reason to send him back to school.   

Later, my father was drafted for WWII and was in the 36th infantry division.  He experienced combat in France and Germany.  After the war, he used the GI bill and went to class to study dairy farming.  

He and my mother ran the dairy farm until he retired. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Alabama 1830 house in the country

I went with some friends to study a very old ( for Alabama) house.  The original room sits on hand hewn beams and appears to be pre-1830. The second room was added and sits on 2x12 floor joists.  The next two rooms were added to the front of the house probably in the 1920's when the front porch was removed. One of the two rooms is old enough to be antebellum.  The fifth room is a kitchen added to the house when the original detached kitchen was probably torn down.

Centreville, Bibb County, Alabama Bank building for sale

Historical Bibb County Banking and Trust Building. 
Constructed in 1899. 

About 19,000 square feet. 

This building will be auctioned on November 16th.
Information can be found at www.

I have no personal benefit or connection to this. 

 I toured the building with a potential buyer yesterday and was amazed at the size and beauty of the building.  The pictures I shot are in the order of my walking up the three stories and then coming back down. 

The round room on the third floor is spectacular. I can envision a twenty foot Christmas tree in the middle. The last view is the street scene.  The old photos are of the bank from years ago. 

I also immediately saw that the stairs and railings and doors were never painted white, so there are no 15+ layers of paint to be stripped off.  

Right across the street is the historic Bibb County Court House.  The entire area is on top of a large hill with the Cahawba River running below.