Southern Belle's History

History from a southern belle.

Legends, Lore & True Tales of the Chattahoochee releasing this October!

Legends, Lore & True Tales of the Chattahoochee

Introducing my second publication, “Legends, Lore & True Tales of the Chattahoochee”! Dive into the mystery that is the Chattahoochee River, one of Florida, East Alabama and West Georgia’s greatest treasures! Learn about the cryptids, shapeshifters, and large monsters that inhabit the Chattahoochee area, sleep with your nightlight on as you read about the ghosts from Brookside Drive and Huggin’ Molly, delve deep into African American and Native American folklore and historical accounts from the Creek Wars, Indian Removal, and even Sherman’s march to the Sea. Pre-order your copy today!

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July 25, 2013 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harrisons Graveyard Kinston, Alabama

Dance Grancer dance they say; tap, tap, tap and play and before the sun begins to shine lay on your feather-bed so fine.

William “Grancer” Harrison was born in 1789 in Edgefield County, South Carolina moving to Kinston, Alabama in Coffee County. Grancer was a cotton farmer with about 2500 acres that he farmed. He lived in Kinston with his wife Nancy Justice Harrison and his ten children until his death in 1860.

He was loved dearly by his family, friends, and slaves. Grancer is a nickname William got from his slaves because he was a great dancer. Grancer had a dance hall built where they would hold dances and Grancer would clog and play his fiddle. Once Grancer passed, he was laid to rest in his large grancer1988feather-bed, enclosed by Florida bricks, wearing his finest suit and his clogging shoes. After he died the dances dwindled to a stop and the dance hall was eventually torn down. But that is just half of the story.

It was rumoured Grancer was buried with riches a plenty and in 1964 vandals blew up his large vault with dynamite to no avail. No gold was present and they only accomplished sending Grancer’s remains flying. His tomb was broken into several more times because the rumours never squelched. It was said his family reburied his remains underground as late as 1996.

It has also been reported by many that if you go to Harrisons graveyard, you may some times hear fiddling and tap dancing. From my own observance, what I have found at Grancer’s is a broken tomb of bricks with a large gaping hole filled with only dirt and a creepy old abandoned building on the property complete with graffiti and dark-magic or satanic emblems on the walls, although I have been told the building has been torn down since I last visited in 1996. It is unknown if this was the old dance hall once spoken of. 

Absolutely Harrison’s has a strange and eerie feel to it; but mostly the life of a good man has been overshadowed by a good ghost story. Harrison’s was featured in the book 13 Alabama Ghost Stories and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham again focusing on the stories and escaping the accomplishments of the man. Perhaps the story is a way to keep the memory alive of Grancer, at least for his family’s sake.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | History | , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Rawls Hotel: A Historical Beauty

Courtesy of the Rawls Hotel

Courtesy of the Rawls Hotel

Founded in 1903, the McGhee Hotel was a two story stucco building built across from the busy railroad of Enterprise, Alabama. The hotel was built by Captain Japheth Rawls and his wife Margaret, and it was the first hotel of Enterprise.

Japheth Rawls was a prominent businessman of Enterprise, owning a cotton gin as well as a turpentine plant.  Later, Rawls changed the name of the hotel to the Rawls Hotel and remodeled the outside to match his boasting personality.  After his death, Rawls left the hotel to Jesse Rawls and his wife whom also kept up the grandure of its beauty.

Over the years, the hotel has changed hands many times, but its beauty stands firm and is matched to no other in Enterprise.  Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, the Rawls is still going strong as a productive societal landmark.  Its ballroom hosts the grandest of Enterprises weddings and a ball named for the hotel itsself. 

Perhaps the fame of the hotel does not come from its grandure and beauty, but from the ghosts that supposedly walk the halls.  A proud man, believed to be Captain Rawls himself has been known to oversee the events at the hotel as well as a governing lady, one would assume is Margaret.  It has been reported as well that children are heard in the halls close to the kitchen.

Rawls Hotel is engrained with deep history. It has stood the test of war and depression and is just as much a part of Enterprise as it was when it was a small railroad town along an unbeaten path.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covington County Jail

Hank Williams Sr

Hank Williams Sr

Added to the National Historic Register in 1989, the Covington County Jail sits behind the newest court house in Andalusia, Alabama. Mostly used from 1900-1949, this jail housed inmates from one nighters to the most seasoned murderers.                                                                                                                                                          

One of it’s visitors was Hank Williams Sr., the famous country music singer.  According the the Andalusia Historical Society, Williams was playing at a local bar in Andalusia and left his son, Hank Williams Jr. in the car while he did his show.  Apparently, someone called the police and Williams Sr. was taken into custody for Drunken Disorderly and Williams Jr. taken by the child protective services for the night.                                                             

Covington County Jail was also involved in one of the few cases of Marshall Law in the State of Alabama.  December 6, 1901, Sheriff Bradshaw and Governor Jenks contacted the Greenville National Guard and warned them of a pending riot totalling about four hundred men on the jail after twenty five black men were arrested for the murder of a merchant and a US Marshall in Opp, Alabama, Andalusia’s sister city. The mob never made it to the jail, but they left four men dead in their wake, killing three black men in Opp and tying another to a tree and setting him on fire.                                                           

It seems as though this jail housed many killers in the early days and at least three of those instances, a law enforcement officer was killed. One of these men, Reuben Alford confessed to a murder of a Forest Ranger Will Turbeville September 1, 1934. Forest Ranger W.E. Jordan was already serving a twenty five year sentence for the crime along with two other men.  These three were released after this confession and two other men arrested and charged along with Alford.                                                                             

Covington County Jail was riddled with whispers of intolerable cruelty to inmates as well as corruption in the ranks of the County Sheriff’s office over the years.  There have even been claims of murder of inmates trying to tell their stories.   (There were never any formal charges brought on any ranking official in Covington County.)                                                                                         

 The jail now sits quietly hidden away with the courthouse to the left and a cemetery to the right. Its lead based paint is peeling away and the black mold is just beginning.  The floor is riddled with old crime scene photos and boxes of old cases, tucked away from prying eyes of the public.  There is a looming sense of something remaining, a wisp of something walking by you in the hall. Perhaps it is the ghosts of the past, too tied to this place to leave -or too scared. Or perhaps it is just the creepy feel of an empty jail with rusty stairs.  Either way, the Covington County Jail is fading away and, without intervention, will soon be a forgotten piece of the past; taking its misery and murderers with it.

www.ancestry.com

May 7, 2009 Posted by | History | , , , , , , | 1 Comment