Category: History

The Inspiration Behind the Samantha Living Cookbook

Samantha Living First Edition Cookbook

Order Information at the end of post 

My life’s journey has taken many detours but it brought me home and I have the honor and privilege of living in the home where I grew up. A few years ago, I would have never entertained the thought of living in Samantha again. But it’s strange how you can develop a longing to reach back and pick up those lessons learned from your growing years and you realize how rich your heritage really is. Not monetary wealth, but the love of family, friends, neighbors and community. That is getting more rare with each passing day. I was inspired to create a community cookbook primarily for four reasons.

  1.  To preserve our rich heritage and create a connection between past generations and future generations. It is my hope that someday our grandchildren will pick up this book and not only read and use these tried and true recipes, but it will prompt conversations about the names attributed to them. While I do believe we must live in the present and embrace our future, knowing our past gives us a sense of well-being and ownership. This project has given me opportunities to have precious conversations with some “senior” members of our community. Their laughter when remembering nuggets from the past is priceless to me and it encourages me to deepen my roots and strive to be able to offer the same one day when I receive such a call. Knowing stories about what others have faced, what they have drawn upon and risked. Great wisdom comes from their experiences. I believe knowing where we came from helps us understand the purpose of where we are going. Our heritage and legacy is a critical part of who we are as individuals. Embracing the heritage we were given enables us to leave a strong legacy. One worthy to be passed on.
  2. To preserve family meals together. Ronald Reagan said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” When I was growing up we always had supper every evening at the kitchen table. TV off and enjoying a home cooked meal and having conversation. When I visited with my friends, it was the same. Families, friends and neighbors sat around the kitchen table and told stories. It was a time to learn about each other’s lives. Having a meal at the kitchen table is not just a time to eat, but a time to tell stories. I loved to hear Momma and Daddy, my grandparents and aunts and uncles tell stories of the past. Families are so busy now that having supper together at the kitchen table is a lost art. I believe breaking bread together is important and I hope this cookbook will encourage us to cook more and eat more together. When I read stories in the Bible where Jesus sat and broke bread with others, it makes me know that is important.
  3. To promote community. When folks come together to work toward a common goal, it serves to buildup and strengthen relationships. I believe communities grow stronger when folks regularly do a variety of simple things together. It gives us a chance to connect with others.
  4. To raise funds for ministries and projects within our community.

Thank you for submitting recipes to make this cookbook possible and thank you for purchasing a copy. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.
Becky Williamson-Martin
Editor

For more information, send an email to editor@samanthaliving.com Or call (205) 233-3794

old recipes found at an estate sale in Samantha to be included in Samantha Living Cookbook

Riggs Farm, Samantha, Alabama

Southern cooks don’t measure, we just sprinkle and shake til the spirits of our ancestors say, “stop my child.”


Samantha Living Cookbook




 by Delbert Reed.  (Originally published in The Northport Gazette, March 24, 2004).

I could tell the man was on a serious mission by the way he marched directly into my office and looked me in the eye.

“Are you Delbert Reed?” he asked in a tone that made me stammer a bit before confessing that I was. “I’ve been looking for you for over 35 years,” he said, finally offering a smile that told me that he probably wasn’t heavily armed.

He told me his name was J. T. Taylor and that he had been reading stories I’ve written since the sixties and wanted to meet me face to face. Then his story and our friendship began.

“I grew up at the foot of Reed Mountain and knew a lot of your family,” he said before quickly naming several of the 11 children of my great grandfather Wes and Leona Davis Reed who grew up on Reed Mountain just north of Haygood Methodist Church in northern Tuscaloosa County.

“I knew Etta, Elliott, Ed, Evaline, Ester and your grandfather Ellis,” Taylor continued. It would have been a real trick if he had been able to continue with the names of Ethel, Elbert, Elmer, Effie, Essie and Ella. “I knew Wes Reed, too; I knew all the Reeds,” he said.

I proudly told Taylor that I actually have Wes Reed’s dinner bell and that it was given to me by the late Carl Harris nearly 30 years ago. “I remember that bell,” Taylor said. “It was on a pole in their yard and I remember hearing it ring many times.”

Taylor quickly called off dozens of other names I’d heard all my life, and mentioned places I’d known about but had all but forgotten through the years. Before our first visit ended, Taylor promised to show me the site of the old Reed home place on Reed Mountain one day, and he did so last weekend as we talked about our roots and our lives.

The Taylor family grew up about a mile and a half down the “mountain” from the Reeds, and there were ten Taylor children who helped Jim and Stella Gilliam Taylor work their 120-acre farm. Six of the ten survive today, including Wiley, nearing 94; J. T., 79; Martha Donour; Brazzie Rogers; Maxie Bryant and Gladys Franks. Martha has even returned to the old Taylor farm where she lives today in the same house in which she was born and raised.

“I joined the Navy in 1943 and got out in 1946,” Taylor said, proudly noting that he even returned to Gorgas High School after his Navy tour and earned his diploma.

Taylor was in Japan from November 1945 until March 1946 and visited Hiroshima (the site of the world’s first wartime atomic bomb blast on August 6, 1945) “eight or ten times” and Nagasaki (the site of the second atomic bomb blast on August 9, 1945) once.

“I still think they (the military) used us as guinea pigs,” Taylor said of his visits to the cities devastated by the bombs. “My feet and hands broke out in blisters—bad blisters—for years afterward. It started in the spring of 1946 and finally cleared up in the mid-seventies. My feet were sore for 30 years and I had nightmares that my feet were rotting off.”

Taylor, though only a youngster at the time, recalled the difficult years of the Great Depression, especially 1930-31. “I guess we were well off,” he said. “We had plenty of peas, cornbread and sweet milk. And we played baseball in John Tierce‘s pasture down by the creek.”

Taylor spent several years working at Gulf States Paper Corporation in Tuscaloosa before landing a job with the Postal Service in 1955. He stuck with the job for more than 30 years before retiring in 1985.

“What have you been doing since then,” I asked. “Oh, I’ve been busy,” he laughed.

Taylor did admit to having run into a few bumps in the road of life, including having trouble with alcohol for many years and having his first wife leave him after more than 30 years of marriage.

“I used to drink regular,” he said with a serious look in his eye. “I drank every day; I was an alcoholic and I still am, but I’ve been sober 26 years. But for 20 or 25 years before that I drank every day. Alcohol was the best medicine I could find for my arthritis,” Taylor added. “It was hard, but I quit. It took me three or four years to get back to a normal life, but the last 16 years have been wonderful,” Taylor added.

(Originally published in The Northport Gazette, March 24, 2004)

James (JT) Taylor 8/28/1938-3/4/2015

James (JT) Taylor died March 4, 2015 at the age of 76, at home in Bonnie’s arms. Click here to read obituary.

Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story. We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community. We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.

Please comment below

by Norman W. Naugher

A while ago, we had the opportunity to visit with Norman and Nell Wright in their home.  They shared a wonderful written story of the life of Norman growing up in Samantha.  The writing is attached at the bottom of this page.

Playing dominoes with friends

Cowden home, old Byler Road (Old Highway 43)

The photos were captured on our visit.

 


“…This writing is dedicated to my wife, Nell, who almost had to get a knife and cut me open to extract these stories. To my son, Marty, whom she said would enjoy reading it, to my daughter, Jan, who keeps us all together, and my parents who had a hard time raising me…”  Click here to read Norman’s Story

If you enjoyed reading Norman’s story, please leave comments below and let him know.

 

Becky Williamson-Martin

Visit to Reed Mountain Awakens the Imagination

by Delbert Reed
 Reprint -- Published in The Northport Gazette, April 7, 2004

I had to go back to Reed Mountain in northern Tuscaloosa County last week. Something drew me there to stand at the old home place of my ancestors and look out on the wide, breath-taking vistas to the East and wonder about the history of the Reed family.

There is little left to prove that anyone ever lived at the site now except a few rocks, likely from the foundation or chimney, and a thriving wisteria vine, which was covered with bumblebees on the late afternoon that I visited.

I listened for sounds from the past, like the tolling of the old dinner bell or the chopping of wood, and I watched for wispy images of people I might know as the sun began to cast shadows on the hill, but there was none of either.

I could see, though, why someone would want to live on Reed Mountain. That spectacular view toward the faraway bottomland beside the small, clear stream below had me dreaming for a moment, too, although the place is generally poorly suited for farming in many ways. Those red-land hills and hollows are far more suited for hunting.

But my great grandparents Wes and Leona Reed raised 12 children to adulthood on the place and farmed a large area first owned, by all accounts, by Wes’s father Thomas Reed, the first Reed known to have settled in the country near Haygood Methodist Church. Thomas likely walked or rode a mule or wagon from Georgia if he was typical of the Southern Scots-Irish settlers. All I know of his wife is that her name was Parthenia Moore and that she was from the Moore’s Bridge area.

I imagined the large Wes Reed family meal time and wondered just how much food they had to grow and can to manage through the winters. I wondered just how many biscuits Omie, as Leona was called, had to cook each morning before sending her family into the fields.

Wesley Washington Reed was just 16 years old and Leona Elizabeth Davis only 15 when they married on December 16, 1886, according to family records. My grandfather Ellis, born on December 20, 1887, was the oldest of the children, and he was 25 years old when his grandfather Thomas Reed, born in 1847, died in 1913. The youngest child of Wes and Omie Reed was Elliott, born in 1907. Three children were born dead, including two after Elliott’s birth, and another died at age three.

A photograph of Wes and Omie standing together shows tanned and hard-working people, and a similar photograph of Ellis and my grandmother Viola is quite similar. They seem to be typical of the proud, poor, rural Southerners of the early 1900s.

My dad had an old scrapbook that included several old receipts showing purchases by Wes Reed from the late 1800s until his death in 1938. One was for a yoke of oxen for $30 on May 13, 1897; many were for fertilizer and taxes; one was for a one-ton Ford truck purchased from Tucker Motor Company in 1923 at a cost of $451.40; another was for $9 as “full pay for his child’s tombstone.” Wes had signed some of the notes and mortgages with an “X” for his mark, indicating that he could not write his name.

Unfortunately, there are few photographs of the Reed family from the early days, but there are enough to trace a family resemblance, and there are markers at Haygood Cemetery that help trace the family back in time.

Fortunately, though, the dinner bell from the old Wes Reed place survives today, thanks to the late Carl Harris. That same bell that called the Reed family from the fields or marked a death in the community rests safely in my storage shed, and I promise soon to display it proudly for the memories it holds, for the hands that rang it, and for those who heard it ring so many times.

“I heard that dinner bell ring at 11 o’clock every day for years,” Brazzie Taylor Rodgers said in recalling her years as a neighbor of the Reeds. “Omie always had dinner ready at 11 o’clock. Wes Reed was a good man,” she added. “He walked by our house early nearly every morning on his way to the store to get a box of snuff, and I was at his house the day he died.”

The old Reed place on Reed Mountain was sold many years ago to some large corporation, probably a timber company, and the old house destroyed. When I visited, the timber around the old house place had recently been cut, leaving the area scarred and ugly except for the view across the valley eastward.

But the Reed place was surely a glorious place once, with hunting dogs and teams of mules and oxen and cows and a large family to care for it all. I’d like to think Reed’s Mountain in the old days was much like the mythical Walton’s Mountain depicted on television and that the Reed family was just as happy and loving as the Waltons.

I’d like to think those 12 children grew up with good memories of life on Reed’s Mountain. And I wish I had thought to ask them to share them with me years ago. Now I can only imagine how it must have been.

(Originally Published in The Northport Gazette, April 7, 2004)

Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story. We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community. We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.

Please comment below

It’s the 4th of July – What Does that Mean?

Independence Day.  Barbeque, hot dogs, beach parties, baseball games, and fireworks.  But what does “Independence Day” mean?

The Fourth of July is our country’s birthday.  The day our country’s founders declared independence from Great Britain. This meant they would no longer follow the orders of Britain’s king. To do this was extremely dangerous. At the time, Britain had one of the world’s strongest armies, and to go against the king was a crime punishable by death. But the king’s laws were unfair, so our founders decided it was worth the risk of war to win the freedom to govern themselves. In 1783, the new United States won that war, which we now call the Revolutionary War.

Why does the flag have those stars?   At this time of year, American flags are easy to spot. Point one out to your grandchildren. Explain that each part of the flag stands for something. The 50 stars stand for the 50 states. The 13 stripes stand for the 13 British colonies, which declared their independence on July 4, 1776. It’s a symbol — a way to show the world what we stand for. It also shows that we are connected to one another — that we’re on the same team. And because the flag is special, we treat it with respect.

What makes our country special?  That one thing that makes our country special is that it guarantees us certain rights, or freedoms.   We use these rights every day when we pray (or decide not to), read a newspaper, or meet and talk with friends. We can do these things because our country guarantees us the freedom to practice religion the way we want, say or write what we want, and go where we want.   These rights are spelled out in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Which rights are most important to you?

What does the government do for us?  We pay taxes to our local, state, and national government so that, among other things, the government can build and maintain facilities that reflect our values. Education is important to us, for example, so we build schools. Safety is a priority for us, so we put up traffic lights. And we want open places where we can gather, so we set aside space for parks. It provides the people who help the community, including police officers, firefighters, crossing guards, librarians, postal workers, and sanitation crews.

What can we do for our country?  Our country is like a family: Everyone has to pitch in or it doesn’t work. As members of the U.S. “family” — in other words, as citizens — we all have certain responsibilities, like going to school, voting, and obeying the law.  Being a good citizen also means taking care of the country, by keeping it clean, looking out for people in trouble, and staying informed about the problems that we face. Of course, actions always have more impact than words, so set an example by dedicating some of your time to volunteering in the community.

What does it mean to be American?  In countries like China or Ireland, most residents share a common culture or ethnicity. But the United States is different. Here, what people share is a common idea — that people should have the freedom to live the way they want, and to work and earn money the best way they can. These freedoms have inspired people from all over the world to come to this country and become “Americans.” This is a profound idea many may never have considered and it should make us feel especially proud of our country, as well as more connected to other Americans of different backgrounds. It can also lead to a discussion about our own family’s journey to the United States. Why did your relatives come? Why did they stay? Every family’s story is part of the country’s story. Make sure you AND your grandchildren know yours.  Comments below.

God Bless America
God Bless Samantha

Happy 4th of July

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.
Becky Williamson-Martin

Article Source

By Delbert Reed
(Reprint -- Published in Northport Gazette, June 4, 2003)

I saw the stranger walking through the mall and guessed correctly that he had a story to go with his black hat and clothes and guitar and that hungry look in his eye. I had seen plenty others like him plodding along Music Row and Broadway back in my Nashville days. And to tell the truth, I’d seen the same look in the mirror a time or two.

“I’m looking for some work playing and singing,” he answered when I asked if I could help him. “I need a job and I’m not able to do much of anything else.”

Jack McCaffrey is his name, and although he shows the wear and tear of hard times beyond his years, he hasn’t given up hope quite yet. But if it’s true that artists do their best work when they suffer, McCaffrey just might be about to write that hit song he has always dreamed about.

“I don’t like to play in bars, but I’ll play anywhere right now,” McCaffrey said. “I’ve got to survive. I’d play at the North Pole if the Eskimos would listen to me.”

A self-proclaimed poet, songwriter and musician, McCaffrey is 59 years old, with more hair on his chin than his head and a nasty cigarette habit. “I spent my last three dollars on cigarettes,” he admitted with a bowed head. “I know I shouldn’t be smoking; my brother died of lung cancer.” But on a hot summer afternoon a few days ago, cigarettes and music was about all that kept McCaffrey’s modest Tuscaloosa apartment from being a lonely place as we continued an interview started the day we met at McFarland Mall.

“I’ve written about 200 songs,” he said, offering to sing one for me he had written in 1982 while visualizing himself as a successful musician out on the road. “I wrote the song for my wife. It’s been ten years since I played it; I hope I can get through it,” he said before singing a not-so-bad little ballad with a few memorable lines about big dreams and a broken heart.

“I’m working on a contemporary gospel song with a blues beat now,” McCaffrey said as he sang a few lines of a song he called “Rock Me, Jesus.” None of McCaffrey’s music is recorded or written down. “It’s all in my head,” he said.

By my standards McCaffrey really can play and sing a little, and sometimes a little is all it takes if the breaks fall your way. Whether he can make it in Nashville or even Tuscaloosa could be simply a matter of luck, although McCaffrey has almost given up on giving Nashville a try.

McCaffrey carries a list of 150 songs in his guitar case and claims he can play and sing all of them on cue, although he had only one formal music lesson in his life. His songs cover 50 years of music and include rock, country, gospel or whatever else one would care to hear. He can also play several instruments, he says, “but I don’t really play the piano; I bang on it.”

“My grandfather, John Williams of the Samantha area just outside Northport, was my inspiration,” McCaffrey said. “He played the bass fiddle and sang bluegrass music. He claimed to have some Indian blood, so I claim to be half-Irish and half-Indian. I’m Irish enough to like a drink of whisky and Indian enough to go on the warpath,” he continued with a wry smile. “That’s why I don’t drink anymore.”

McCaffrey’s mother helped start him on his musical career by teaching him to play a ukulele at age seven. “I worried her to death with that thing singing songs I learned off the radio,” he said. “My older brother had a guitar, but I couldn’t get my hands on it until he joined the Navy in 1956. I taught myself to play and played a lot with a buddy named Ronnie Wheatley.”

McCaffrey and Wheatley played together for several years, working in Birmingham night clubs after working at EBSCO Industries together in the daytime. “We played every club in Birmingham in the sixties,” McCaffrey said proudly. Wheatley still works at EBSCO while McCaffrey is disabled, but they both still enjoy their music.

A Catholic, McCaffrey attends Holy Spirit Church and sometimes plays music at a local Church of God. “I don’t earn any money, but the Lord blesses me for it,” he said.

McCaffrey has children and grandchildren in Birmingham, where he spent several years in construction work, and carries their pictures in his guitar case. He is divorced from his first wife and separated from his second, something he finds painful to talk about. He has been in Tuscaloosa for three months.

“Here’s one of my favorites,” McCaffrey said, breaking a somber mood and patting a bare big toe as he played a current patriotic song made popular by country music star Toby Keith.

McCaffrey’s father worked in construction and moved a great deal, allowing Jack to experience life in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and even California, where he said he even attended school with some of the Mouseketeers of Walt Disney television fame for a while.

McCaffrey’s brother, John McCaffrey Jr., lived in the Samantha area on their grandfather’s old place until his death. His widow, Betty, still resides there, according to Jack.

Today, Jack doesn’t often dream of that elusive big break. He’s just hoping to find a paying gig so he can sing his songs and see better days. “If I don’t I’ll starve, he said without a smile as he gently strummed the guitar he was holding onto like it was his only friend.
(Northport Gazette, June 4, 2003)

POSTSCRIPT: I couldn’t help liking Jack McCaffrey, and his music, too, for that matter, and I visited him several times over a month or so. I even bought him cigarettes and a can of soup a couple of times when he ran out of money between disability checks. In an effort to try to help him, I bought a small cassette recorder and had him record some of his songs for me to take to a friend in Nashville who had connections in the music industry there. “If you see Martina McBride, tell her I love her,” he said as he handed me the tape a week or so later. I passed the tape along but never heard anything about it from my friend. I saw in the newspaper a year or so later where McCaffrey died, taking his songs with him except for a line or two I still remember from the one he wrote for his wife and the one I’m writing about his Martina McBride line. (Delbert Reed)



Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story. We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community. We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.com

Historical Barbee School

From Delbert Reed.

Barbee School Reunion Offers a Lesson in History

(Written by Delbert Reed – Published in Northport Gazette, June 18, 2003)

Historical Barbee School

You’ve probably heard stories told by your parents and grandparents about how they walked three miles in the snow and rain to school as youngsters. If you haven’t, you should arrange to attend the next Barbee School reunion, where you can hear the stories of the good old days from those who lived them.

A small group of former Barbee School students gathered recently at the home of Nell Howell Sheffield in Northport to recall their times together as schoolmates at the former small elementary school near Northside High School. Those attending the May gathering included Sheffield, Mary Freeman Hagler, Clytee Rogers Holloway, Lowell Skelton, Faye Maddox Boone and John Aris Harris.

 
“I’ll bet no six people ever had a better time that we did,” Mrs. Hagler said of the reunion. We waited until most of us were gone before we started getting together, but if we can we’re going to get together again next year and reminisce some more,” she said. The Barbee reunions have been going on for six or so years and were started mainly by Loy and Woodrow Wilson.
 
Barbee School, according to history relayed by John Aris Harris’s son John, was named after James and Sarah M. Barbee, who settled in the area in 1818. The school was located about a mile west of Barbee Creek and about two miles west of Northside High School. It was formed in 1909 by the consolidation of Friendship School and the Deal School and closed in 1942.
Mrs. Hagler lived east of Barbee School on the Bart Brown Road for much of the time she attended the school 1932-38 and walked through fields, pastures and woods and even across a foot-log bridge across Barbee Creek to schools with siblings Otis, Clay, Martha and Ouida.
 
“We had some good times there,” Mrs. Hagler said. “We had a few fights, too, but not often.” Mrs. Hagler’s memories of her days at Barbee include the school closing twice because there was no money to buy coal for heat during the winter.

“They brought our teachers out from town on Sunday evening or early Monday morning and they boarded with my Aunt Ida Cabaniss across the road from the school during the week and went back to town on Friday afternoons,” Mrs. Hagler said.

The Barbee School remembered by most of the former students had three or four rooms with two grades in each room. Earlier, a one-room school had stood on the site, according to some former students. “I saw a picture of the old school and I’m pretty sure it was only one room,” Mrs. Hagler said. “It looked like an old crib.”

Mrs. Boone attended Barbee School for six years starting in 1933 and later graduated from Talladega High School before earning master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama. She worked as a nurse and teacher until her retirement in 1990. Mrs. Boone has attended several Barbee School reunions and recalls elementary school friendships with Nell Howell Sheffield and Loy Wilson.
 
Skelton started school at Barbee in the mid-1930s and went there through the sixth grade before attending Etteca and Gorgas schools. Skelton’s brothers Adrian, Shorty and Gordon and sister Louise also attended Barbee, as did Skelton’s father Clarence. Skelton, retired from B. F. Goodrich after more than 42 years, is nearing age 75 and still has many friends from his days at Barbee.
  
Mrs. Sheffield lived less than a mile from Barbee School in what was known as the old Deal home during her childhood. The house, which burned in 1980, was located near one of the two stores her father (Paul Howell) operated for many years. “That old house was made from wide, hand-hewed planks; we wouldn’t have taken anything for it,” Mrs. Sheffield said.
            
“I remember my first-grade teacher was Miss Ruth Rice,” Mrs. Sheffield said. “She later married Horace Brown and we went to church with them at Chapel Hill Baptist Church. “Another teacher recalled by Mrs. Sheffield was Marian Scrivner, who boarded with the Howells.
            
“I remember Miss Rice giving us a picture to color in the first grade and I colored a woman’s hair green. Miss Rice said she had never seen a woman with green hair. Forty years later we saw a woman at church with green hair and she (then Mrs. Brown) remembered that fist-grade incident and remarked to me that we had finally seen someone with green hair.”
 
Mrs. Sheffield’s brother Paul B. Howell also attended Barbee for a few years. Both of them laster graduated from Tuscaloosa County High School.

Harris, a retired telephone company employee who lives in Moundville, attended Barbee for three years starting in 1938 when it had 30-40 students in six grades. He also attended Samantha and Gorgas schools “I still have my first-grade report card,” Harris said proudly. “I carried it to the reunion and my first teacher’s name (Margaret Tatum) is on it.”

Mrs. Holloway lived about two miles north of Barbee School at the head of Wolf Creek near Haygood Methodist Church and walked along a path through the woods and fields to school with friends from the Rice and Nuchols families.

“I can remember being freezing cold when we got to school and gathering around the pot-bellied stove to get warm,” she said. “It was hard living, but there were good days. Everybody loved everybody and everybody helped everybody else during crop time or sickness. We lost our farm and were sharecroppers some, but I’m proud of my raising,” Mrs. Holloway added.

Mrs. Holloway began work at Jitney Jungle Grocery in Tuscaloosa in 1956 and retired from Food World in 1991.

Most of the Barbee School students grew up on farms in the community and many of them came from sharecropper families left poor by the Great Depression of the 1930s, as Mrs. Hagler pointed out with pride.  
“I’ve lived a full life for a poor girl,” she said. “But I’ve had friends and people I cared about and who cared for me. What else do you need?

Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story.   We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community.  We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.com

Submitted by Anita Bailey – Estel Williamson (Freeman) Barbee School 1936 (Anita’s Grandmother

The Barbee School which taught from first to seventh grade was located near Samantha in northern Tuscaloosa County from about 1907 to the early 1940s. After students completed the seventh grade, they were awarded diplomas and encouraged to continue their education. However, students who lived in the rural communities had farm and home responsibilities and transportation was mule or horse and buggy. Photo shows the graduation class for the 1913-1914 school year. The teacher, Annis Estelle Griffin, is on the back row in the white shirt. To her right is Carl Harris. To Harris’ right may be Paul Howell.Submitted by John N. Harris.

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Rt. 1, Box 152

by Becky Williamson-Martin

Apparently I have always had a love for or maybe taken ownership of the Samantha Community.  Recently, we did some remodeling on the home I grew up in. I came home one day during during the remodel and the carpenters asked me if I drew on the walls when I was a kid. Then they showed me the “art work” they found on the ceiling of a closet they were tearing out. 

Rt 1, Box 152, Samantha, Alabama 35482

While I do not remember creating this masterpiece, I do remember hiding in the top of that closet many times to try and scare my brother Ricky (pay back you know?). I also recall having a thing about drawing mailboxes as a little girl. Maybe that was a result of daddy always teaching us the importance of putting down roots.  

 

I often hear folks from the Samantha Community say they live in Northside. This is always a bit comical to me. Having grown up in Samantha and going to Northside School, I always think to myself, “do they live in the school”?   I guess younger folks don’t remember or those who moved here over the passed few years didn’t know this but before the postal service restructured everything our address was actually Rt. 1, Samantha, Alabama 35482. I still remember our address was Rt. 1, Box 152. It just sounds funny to me having grown up here when I hear people refer to Northside as the community.

Mailbox topper – “Johnny Williamson, Rt. 1 Samantha”

A few years before daddy passed away, I came to visit him and found him in the barn working on “something”.  During our conversation I noticed an old mailbox topper hanging on the barn wall.  It was covered with dust and spider webs.  He granted my request to take it home.  At that time, I lived near Lake Tuscaloosa.  I took it home and restored it and I proudly displayed it on my back porch, Johnny Williamson, Rt. 1, Samantha, even though I didn’t live in the Samantha community at that time.  My heart and all my childhood memories are still connected to Samantha.  I can’t help but think that mailbox topper had some historical value for daddy, too.  After all, he had kept it all those years.

I believe we should be proud of our roots. Even if some of the memories might not be good, where we came from helped make us who we are today and hopefully we learned from it all, even if we moved away.   So, for me, I am proud to say I’m from Samantha, Alabama and I live in Samantha, Alabama.  I am also proud to say I attended Northside School in Samantha, Alabama – home of the Rams.  After all, we do still have a zip code and a Post Office located on Northside Road.  What are your thoughts?  Comment below

Samantha Post Office, Samantha, Alabama

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes!
Becky Williamson-Martin

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Days Gone By Seemed Much More Simple

Memories of Growing Up in Samantha

OUCH!!!!!!

I was reading the article by Joshua Becker: Those Things By Which We Get Embarrassed and he made this statement: “What if, instead of being embarrassed because our house is too small, we became embarrassed over the amount of unused space within it?”

As I read this article I thought about my visit with a dear neighbor, Jesse Ann, this past weekend. She lived next to us when we were small and has continued to maintain her parents’ house next to daddy’s (my house), even though they have been gone many years. She spends Wednesdays and Saturdays each week at the old homeplace. What a wonderful visit we had – talking about days gone by and some more recent memories of daddy, which brought us both to tears.  The Weavers were such good neighbors. Oh the magic of ordinary days!

Old 1930s church. A gift from Jessie Ann Weaver Langston

The inside of the little farm house still looked much like I remembered it as a child growing up.  The beautiful pine wainscot paneling in the “front room”.  Jessie Ann gifted me with some absolute treasures that belonged to her parents that I will cherish and I hope my children will too after I’m gone, knowing “the history” behind them and the memories attached.  A couple of old (1930) churns and other collections that she wanted me to have.

Among them were two old books about the history of Fayette.

150 Years of History of Fayette

150 Years of History of Fayette

Sitting there in the small farmhouse having conversation with Jessie Ann, I thought about how life seemed so much more simple in days gone by. Memories came to me of running barefoot along the path from our house to theirs.  She must have thought I was such a country bumpkin.  “Probably still does”.  It seems that people were much more relational then.  And even though life was hard, the hurried pressures of day-to-day life that we live under now were non-existent.

Outdoor Fun in Fayette County in the Olden Days Followed The Simplest Form

Outdoor Fun in Fayette County in the Olden Days Followed The Simplest Form

We have enjoyed reading the stories about the history of Fayette – some from the 1900 – such comical entries in the local paper about events such as “fisticuffs”  and items like “demijohns” which I had to seek the definition.  As I was reading those stories it was even more magnified how much more connected folks were then and my soul longs for that.   They worked hard “together” and they celebrated accomplishments together.  It seems to me that folks were less interested in themselves and their personal interests.  It was more about “community”.

You know, I guess we can just “wish” for a simpler life with days of enjoying lemonade with our neighbors after a hard days work OR we can purpose to create those times in our own life today.

Somehow, I think we believe it’s either one or the other – work OR play.  But one huge important thing our daddy taught us – work and play go together!  “Many hands make the work load light!” And even fun.   Make a party out of everything!!

To quote Johnny Williamson, “It’s very simple.  Now I didn’t say it was easy, but it’s simple.  You just have to make up your mind to do it.”

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.

Becky Williamson-Martin

A little interesting history

18 Year Old ‘Doctor’ Began Brilliant Career in Fayette, by Marguerite Tarwater Callahan

18 Year Old ‘Doctor’ Began Brilliant Career in Fayette, by Marguerite Tarwater Callahan

A reprint of Memories of Growing Up in Samantha from Stuff That Works Blog posted on  9/11/15 by Becky Williamson-Martin

A Look at the Past – The Wilson Farm

The following is a reprint of an article that appeared in The Tuscaloosa News on December 8, 1952, submitted by Kerry & Mary Shirley.

Good Farming Pays Off for Wilsons

Fourth Generation on the Farm by Lucia Owen (staff writer)

“Back in 1924, when I laid out those terraces, the land was full of gullies waist deep”, B.R. Houston, county agent said, as he and Lenon Wilson of Rt. 1, Brownville, gazed out over the acres of cotton land that were now sowed down the row middles with vetch, and at the 20 acres of oats and crimson clover, showing as green as a thick carpet over the otherwise brown landscape.

Today the 320 acre farm is one of the best in the county and this year, a bad crop year for most farmers, has brought a brand new barn and rat proof crib for the Wilsons and 750 bushels of corn from 10 acres, and 12 bales of cotton from 17 acres and 750 bales of hay.

“I didn’t make any money,” Mr. Wilson said, “but I paid for this barn and have my corn and hay.”  He also has three fat pigs ready to kill and 25 head of beef and dairy cattle, and Mrs. Wilson has a flock of chickens.

Mr. Wilson, the son of the late Mr. And Mrs. L.O. Wilson, is the fourth generation to farm the land, and he thinks Tommy, who is now five and one half years old will be a farmer too.  Of the 320 acres on the farm, 150 are cultivatable, the rest being in timber.  Mr. Holstein laid out the first terraces of his career as a county agent for Tuscaloosa County on this farm for the present owner’s father, and both know the improvements that have been made.

Mr. Wilson believes in a mechanized farm, and there isn’t a mule on his place.  He practices the latest methods recommended by the Extension Service and thinks this may be the reason for his mysteriously high yield during the dry season just past.

On May 5 he planted 10 acres of Dixie 11 Hybrid corn, following a turning under of winter legumes.  He fertilized with 250 pounds of 4-10-7 per acre and and side dressed with 100 pounds of soda after the second plowing.  The corn was planted in three and one half feet rows in 15 inch drills and was plowed only twice.  No rain fell on the corn until July 28, he said, but he gatherer end 75 bushels of corn per acre, and he opened his fine, rat proof crib to show it.  His cotton did not do so well, nor did other patches of corn on the place.

In the cement block barn, measuring 50×54 feet, are stored the 750 bales of hay gathered from his farm.  Ten acres of Kobe produced 300 bales and the remaining hay is services, Dallas and other grasses.  The barn has cement fee troughs, and is built for a life time.  The base is of cement blocks and the upper part is wood with an outside covering of tin.

The Wilsons have big hopes for next year.  They plan to increase cotton acreage and other crops.  “We’ll remodel the house then,” they said, looking at the quaint old home, surrounded by trees and box woods.

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A GOOD FARMER, AND A LUCKY ONE – Lenon Wilson, of Rt. 1, Brownville, is pictured above with Mrs. Wilson, their son Tommy, and the family dog Chuck, as they lean on the gate that leads to their new concrete block barn and crib.  That barn and crib, in the background is fairly bulging, too, with 750 bales of hay and 750 bushels of hybrid corn. A part of the beef and dairy cattle on the 320 acre farm can also be seen behind them.  While most farmers were hit by the drought, the Wilsons succeeded in having an above-normal corn and hay crop and 12 bales of cotton from 17 acres, thou no rain fell until July 28.  (Tuscaloosa Engraving Co. Photo)

The Wilson Farm is now owned by The Hughes Family as pictured below.  Please leave your comments below.

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Information about Reed Family Requested

Dear Samantha Living Readers,

imageI am new to Samantha and I just discovered Samantha Living.  I don’t yet have a story to tell but I am working on one. I live on land owned by the Reed family and have been doing research on them.  Etta Reed by all accounts was a kind and wonderful woman. One of 15 children.  She passed away in 1976 and was still living pretty much as a pioneer woman. My home was built on her homestead site by her great nephew. If you or any of your readers know of this family I would love to have information. I have been able to trace them back for many years and they came to this area in the mid 1800s. Thanks for reading. My home is on Reed Mountain Road and based on stories from my son in law it is named Magnolia Hill – Etta’s Place. Thanks for your site. I retired here six years ago after living all over the country.  I love this area and want to learn all of its history.

Regards, Jo Anne Gentine

Please send information to gentinej@aol.com, put in comments below or email to editor@samanthaliving.com

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What Happened to Sundays?

design-2Several weeks ago we traveled to North Alabama on a Sunday morning to visit Benny’s Mother who was very sick.   This time of year I enjoy seeing how other folks have landscaped and manicured their yards, taking note of the beautiful flowers, trees and gardens. Normally, we would have been at church on a Sunday morning and  periodically I would  look at the clock and think about what my church family was doing at that particular time (in Sunday School or getting ready for worship).  As we traveled along I started thinking about Sundays and how different they are from my childhood.  Sundays are the only day I EVER remember my daddy lying on the couch.  He would fall asleep reading the paper after we got home from church.  Sometimes we would visit family, make homemade ice cream and have a washtub full of iced down Coke, Grapico and Orange Crush for the whole gang.

So many folks along our way that day were mowing their grass, working on their car, plowing their gardens or doing what I call “Saturday chores”.   Some church parking lots were full, some had few cars and one was completely closed and the grass was grown up around it.1605e7c15864e8f54febc9b46dc61a0d What happened to Sundays?  Can’t we check out of our daily routine just one day to give honor and thanks to our creator?  To worship Him and rest our bodies and minds as He has instructed us to do?  After all, since He created us He knows what our bodies, minds and emotions need. What I observed that day made me sad.  Partially because I am guilty of abusing sacred Sundays, but mostly because I felt grief in my heart for the utter disregard we give to The Lord and what He has asked of us.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not legalistic about performing needed tasks on Sunday, but His Word instructs us to remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy and to rest.  That’s only 52 days out of 365.

This past week, I was searching for 7th Heaven on Dish so I could set the DVR to record.  When my granddaughter, Dakotah, comes to visit she likes to watch it and somehow all of the shows had been deleted.  Ironically, the episode I “stumbled” on was an episode about Sundays.  This is worth a watch.  Lucy says, “We work 7 days a week or at least on the go 7 days a week and yet we wonder why people need drugs to relax.  Could it be that we have lost 52 days a year to relax and enjoy our families?…Stressed, tired, irritable and no time to do the things I need to do and no time to do the things I want to do. We have lost our Sundays forever unless we make an effort to reclaim them.”

suppose every generation longs for the “good ole days”.  I’m no exception.  How do we reclaim Sundays?  It’s really very simple – we make a conscious decision to do so.  Now simple doesn’t mean easy.  Change is NOT easy.  It’s like telling a drug addict to stop using.  Yes simple – not easy.  Sunday-Dinners

It would be very interesting to hear how our neighbors and friends spend their Sundays today compared to Sundays from years past and how they line up with God’s word.  Do you catch up from the past week?  Do you prepare for next week?  Do you attend church?  Do you break bread with family?  Do you visit the sick?  Do you pray?  Do you reflect?  Do you work?  Do you mow your lawn?  No judgements please, just your personal activities of today and yesterday and your thoughts on Sunday.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!!

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes!

Becky Williamson-Martin

Oregonia Baptist Welcomes New Pastor

Jimmy Holliman

Jimmy Holliman, Pastor, Oregonia Baptist Church – Samantha, AL

54 year old Jimmy Holliman accepted the call to preach at 52.   With such a strong passion for evangelism, he thought that was God’s plan for him.  He didn’t think he was being lead to pastor a church,  until Oregonia called and he felt the Lord was leading him to accept. Jimmy says he grew up in church, but as is the case many times, life takes over and he was out of church for 18 years.   He started working at Phifer Wire on the Sunday crew and before he knew it church and God were gradually pushed to the back.   But God had plans for Jimmy and He sometimes uses different interests to draw us back to Him.  Jimmy says his church started picking guitars on Sunday nights and he had an interest in learning to play so he started going, then back on Sundays.  When asked did he learn the guitar, he responded, “I laid the guitar down and picked up my Bible”.  He says he still wants to learn to play the guitar but for now his focus is on winning souls to Christ.

Jimmy enjoys being involved with  Dax Lancaster’s  Yet there is room tent ministry.  (Missionaries to the USA, preaching the gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ to the lost in the highways and hedges and pointing them to a local church.)

Jimmy is a Bi-vocational Pastor.  He works for Main Street Development.    He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Dianna Holliman for 33 years.  Dianna works at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in the Tax Assessor’s office.   He attributes the staying power for their marriage to “knowing the Lord and divorce is just not an option.   When two people get married they become one – you won’t have a whole person if you split them in two.”  They have one daughter,  Misty Herring.

Jimmy would like to invite everyone to attend Oregonia’s  revival July 31-August 5.  Ben Watson will be bringing the message Sunday morning and Sunday night.  Brandon Vaughn will be bringing the message Monday-Friday.  Services start at 7:00 p.m. with special music each night.   Oregonia Baptist Church is located at 20369 Oregonia Rd.

Jimmy can be reached at (205) 242-0604.

Oregonia Baptist Church

Oregonia Baptist Church

Jesus in a Box? – A Samantha Landmark

imageStanding in line at the Dollar General in Samantha can be entertaining at times, and this particular day was no exception. I overheard a couple of fellas who had not seen each other since high school catching up. “Hey man, where are you living now?”  “Oh, I live about one mile down that road in front of the Jesus statue.” I thought about that conversation on my way home and as I turned into my drive I stopped at the statue in my yard and thought about the story behind this local landmark. After the death of my grandmother, Pealie Mae Williamson, in February 1998, my daddy, Johnny Williamson, was inspired to create a representation of the 23rd Psalm. It was her favorite scripture. A Cypress log was chosen for The Good Shepherd Statue because of the longstanding belief that the Cypress is the “gopher wood” (or kopher, which is the Hebrew word for waterproof) that Noah used to build the ark. Daddy worked alongside his longtime friend and local artist/sculptor, Willie Logan, to carve the 6-1/2 foot statue of The Good Shepherd.

It’s sort of amusing how you can become so accustomed to something that you no longer see it, or think about it. This statue has just been part of the normal landscape in my daddy’s yard for years. But, a few years ago I started noticing it when I would visit him. I developed a desire to know and understand what he saw, what his intentions were, and how he viewed The Good Shepherd Statue. I began to ask questions, and we spent hours sitting in the rockers on daddy’s front porch, shelling peas or peeling apples, as he tried to teach me.

Shelling peas with daddy on his porch

Shelling peas with daddy on his porch

Finally, after a ton of my questions, he said, just read, Joshua 4. You see, my father was a great teacher, but he didn’t just simply give you all the answers. He was a deep thinker and that is what he wanted me to do: think about it, ponder on it, dig for it, and come to know it on my own. Local newspapers had done some articles in the past on the statue, and I dug them up. He had told those reporters, “The Statue is a testimony of my faith. It isn’t meant to be an idol. You don’t worship it, but it gets people to think and do good deeds.” Hmm, Good deeds. Well, I had certainly seen him do many good deeds over the course of my life. Time and time again, I saw my daddy give to others. He was selfless. I don’t recall ever hearing him say he wanted anything for himself. Giving to others was always on his mind. And somehow, he managed to know what their needs were.  A friend told me once, “your daddy was like a magnet, you just wanted to be around him.

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Daddy had a heart attack in March (2013) and died four months later. I had the privilege of living in his house with him during those four months. During many long nights, when he couldn’t sleep, he talked intently about life, pouring story after story into my heart and life that I will never forget. A few weeks after his death, I was looking through his books and found A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. I could feel my daddy’s big hands on the book as I opened it. Reading this book helped me connect the dots of what daddy had tried to tell me and it gave me a new understanding of The Good Shepherd. I went back and read Joshua 4. This time I really read it with my heart’s ears. Joshua 4 teaches us to set up memorials as a testimony of what God has done and so that our children and others will ask us “what does this mean”? If provides an opportunity to tell others about Jesus – to tell our story. Since 1999 when it was erected, The Good Shepherd Statue has caused much conversation. Some understand it, some don’t. It has certainly fulfilled it’s purpose of setting down stones as memorials according to Joshua 4. Folks from all over the United States stop by to see it and take pictures. The sheep was stolen once, but thanks to some good Samaritans it was returned to it’s place next to The Good Shepherd Statue.  Some call it Jesus in a Box. Daddy never really liked that term. He would say, “everyone knows it’s not Jesus, and you cannot put Jesus in a box”. If you are ever traveling along Highway 43 in Samantha, you are welcome to stop and pay a visit. Check in on Facebook. Take pictures and ponder the meaning of The Good Shepherd.

His sheep know His voice.

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Ricky Williamson talks to Sheriff’s Deputies after they returned lost sheep to it’s place beside The Good Shepherd Statue

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.

Written by Becky Williamson-Martin beckybamagal@gmail.com

Original printed March 2014 in Druid City Living

Links:

The Good Shepherd Statue at Pawpaw Johns

The Good Shepherd Foundation

The Little Closet Community Food Pantry – Samantha, Alabama

Shepherd Hill Opry

Articles connected to The Good Shepherd Statue

A Note of Thanks

I generally don’t like “blanket” thank yous but I’m breaking my own rule. Thanks to everyone for all the phone calls, visits, gifts, songs, texts, cards, food and well wishes for my birthday. It was truly a great day of celebration. I am truly blessed with amazing friends and family. I feel so loved. I used to fib about my age and unlike most women who say they are younger than they are, I would tell folks I was 10 years older so they would think “dang she looks good for that age” LOL. (Yep vanity). But as the years have mounted up it’s hard for me to say I’m 66 so the time has come for me to be honest and honestly I have trouble remembering my real age now. Isn’t that ironic? Fortunately, vanity has faded AND I appreciate more of the real things of life now. SO, as I start day 2 of year 56 I vow to stay in the moment more and capture more of these days that are zooming away at such a fast speed.

I saw a sign in a gas station recently that said “free gas tomorrow”. It might take you a minute to let that sink in. There will never be any free gas at that station because tomorrow will always be today. So the moral of the story – BUY YOUR GAS TODAY!!! The future is simply history of all the todays. Whatever each day brings, whether circumstances are good or not so good, I will give that to My Savior, Jesus Christ – who holds it all in His Hands. All my gifts come from Him – even you, my friend. Happy 4th of July.

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.  Becky Williamson-Martin image

Why is it Important to Remember and Preserve Our History?

Preserving history is commitment to remembering the past and a stepping stone for our future generations.  How can we know where we are going if we don’t know where we came from?

One important piece of history is it’s old homes and buildings.  By preserving historic structures, we are able to share the very spaces and environments in which the generations before us lived or conducted business.  A snapshot of their daily lives.

These buildings change with us, thus recording a piece of each generation’s story. We have an obligation to respect this community resource and preserve it for future generations.

In addition to solidifying a community’s past, documenting stories and memories, preserving buildings and memorializing a way of life can help strengthen a community’s future.

The more the community is involved, the more attractive and effective an area will become for locals and visitors.

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Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.

 

Welcome to Samantha Living – A Shared Community Adventure

Welcome to Samantha Living.  We hope you enjoy our adventures in this wonderful community we share.  We will post stories about neighbors, family and friends.  Some things that are going on now and some things that are from the past.  History teaches us – about life – about our heritage.  An old proverb says, Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.   Let’s be historians for the lions. We invite you to join in the conversation.  Give us ideas of subject topics to discuss or stories to pursue.  We also invite guest contributors.  We would love to have you write your own memories or share what you are doing in our wonderful little community in Samantha, Alabama.  None of us are getting any younger, you know.  And we all have those special community leaders who have impacted our life or we know have contributed to the betterment of our community.  We want to hear about them too.  Let’s highlight them while they are still with us – while they can enlighten us on life.  Email your story to editor@samanthaliving.com Let’s provide something good.  With so much negative stuff in our world, a little uplifting story can go a long way.  Even stories of struggle that brought healing or goodness to your life can be encouraging to others. Let’s be encouragers!  Let’s start now.  Check back with us often.  We hope to spotlight a family soon and learn about their piece of history in Samantha, Alabama.

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.

 

 

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