Category: Landmarks

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

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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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

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