Delving into local history’s mysteries

Published 10:19 am Friday, February 5, 2021



The older I get, the more interested I grow in the past, how it affects us today and what it can teach us.

From childhood, I was always fascinated in other’s “good old days” and routinely purchased a magazine by that very title from the local drugstore. I don’t know how many nine-year-old kids avidly perused a publication clearly targeted at people old enough to be their grandparents, but I was always a bit of a nerd.

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I loved reading about people’s experiences: the games they played with their schoolmates, the ways they celebrated holidays together, prepared meals, worshiped, worked, studied, rejoiced and mourned together. It brought the past to life for me and helped me better understand how we live today.

As a journalist for a group of small town newspapers, I am helping chronicle the history of our communities—a thought which delights me. Just as I look back to old issues of our paper to research stories, one day others will look at articles and Lifestyle features written today to learn about aspects of local life “way back when.”

And I look to you, our readers, for help in researching subjects for stories as well as great story ideas.

Barbara Middleton of the Butler County Genealogical and Historical Society is looking for information on what was known as the Indian Path. It appears that path ran very close to the country road where I live now, which is also the road on which I and my father grew up.

According to Barbara, the Tukabatchee Indian Path is believed to have run from Mobile to Fort Decatur, and to have run very close to Joe Killough Road in eastern Butler County near the Crenshaw County line.

The path entered from the south between Persimmon and Pigeon Creeks, crossing Pigeon Creek somewhere close to Nine Mile Branch following a path into Crenshaw County, close to New Ebenezer Road, and continuing on to Fort Decatur in Macon County.

At one time, the body of water we now know as Persimmon Creek was called Sepulgia Creek.

Barbara is also looking for information about the old Whiddon School; specifically, exactly where this former community school was located. According to Butler County School reports in 1903 and 1918, it was located north of Honoraville Road (Highway 50) east and west of Pigeon Creek and Three Runs Creek.

And speaking of local history, I am looking forward to sharing some stories of one of the Camellia City’s most iconic structures—Commerce Street’s antebellum beauty, the Beeland-Stanley-Fort House. As current owner Margo Fort works to restore the historic home’s interior, exterior and grounds to their former glory, this antique connoisseur and lover of old homes says she continues to unearth surprises and delights along the way. Right now, she is finding out what a treasure trove of camellia varieties she has in her yard and garden.

Do you have your own stories about this historic house? If so, Margo and I would love to hear from you.

And if you recall hearing stories from family members, teachers or others about the Indian Path, or having any knowledge of the Whiddon School and its history, please contact me. Together, we can “help solve a mystery.”