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Tour to explore 200 years of history

The Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society wants to invite history lovers to join them for a very special tour the last Saturday in October.

In lieu of their usual quarterly meeting, the group is hosting a day-long tour of Monroe County—“the parent county where many of our Butler County families made their first appearances,” says Annie Crenshaw of the BCHGS. “It’s all part of the ‘Alabama 200’ Bicentennial Celebration and a wonderful first-hand opportunity for people to see and experience some of the most historic places in our region as we travel the always fascinating Old Federal Road. Our historical society members got first dibs at securing places on this tour, and now we are opening it to the public.”

The motor coach will depart from Greenville at 9 a.m. October 28 and return at 5 p.m., following a full day of guided tours and much more, says Crenshaw.

The tour will start out following the route of the Old Federal Road to Monroeville, passing by the home of Dr. John Watkins, the physician who treated victims of Butler County’s infamous Ogly-Stroud Massacre in 1818, then pass through the historic village of Burnt Corn.

“In Monroeville, we’ll see the handsome (and historic) Monroe County Courthouse Museum, their historical/genealogical research room, local artwork, gift shop, and more,” says Crenshaw.

“The museum’s rooms dedicated to famous Southern authors, Harper Lee and Truman Capote, and Lee’s book, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ are outstanding. The book was made into an award-winning movie starring Gregory Peck, and local theatrical presentations of the story are held each year. Monroeville is a place well worth a repeat visit.”

The pioneer towns of Perdue and Clairborne are also on the itinerary. The ghost town of Claiborne, on a high bluff above the Alabama River, was established as a fort during the Creek Indian Wars in 1813-1814.

“It became a thriving river port where Butler County settlers obtained supplies – including the ill-fated William Ogly, who was killed in the Ogly-Stroud Massacre of March 1818, a week after being accosted by hostile Indians while driving his ox-cart to Claiborne for provisions,” explains Crenshaw.

“The town’s early residents included three future Alabama governors: John Gayle, John Murphy, and Arthur P. Bagby; as well as noted lawyer and statesman, James Dellet.”

No less august a presence than the Marquis de Lafayette of Revolutionary War fame visited Claiborne in April 1825 and was entertained in the newly built Masonic Hall.

“The impressive two-story Masonic Lodge, moved to Perdue Hill for preservation, is believed to be the oldest public building in Alabama. We’ll tour it as well as the William B. Travis house, built about 1820 in Claiborne and also moved to Perdue Hill. The house was the residence of Travis before he went to Texas and was killed with other defenders of the Alamo in 1836,” Crenshaw says.

The cost of the tour is $55 per person (transferable but non-refundable) and includes: motor coach transportation (Capital Trailways bus with restroom and professional driver), fully guided tour, historic maps & brochures, refreshments en route, lunch (including meal, beverage, dessert, tax & tip), courthouse museum admission, entry to view historic buildings, & more.

Checks for the tour should be made payable to and sent to: Butler County Historical Society, P.O. Box 561, Greenville, AL 36037.

“So often we just talk about history and how we wish we’d visited a particular structure or place—let’s stop talking and start exploring and experiencing history first-hand,” Crenshaw says.

“I encourage you not miss this unique opportunity to step back into the past as we travel the Old Federal Road and explore 200 years of amazing history,” says Crenshaw. “We only have limited seats available so contact me just as soon as you can if you are interested in joining us.”

Contact Annie Crenshaw at 334-382-6959 or via email at anniecrenshaw@centurytel.net to secure your spot on the tour.