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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 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

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

Faith, Family and Farming: Growing up in Samantha

By: Brooke Hughes Snipes

Naomi Judd once said, “In life you have to have roots and wings.” Growing up in Samantha, Alabama, I was given both of those things. I was shown how to use my wings to fly and make my own way in the world. I also had roots that taught me that sometimes going home is the only cure for your problems. My name is Brooke Hughes Snipes, and I was born and raised in the Samantha community. My family has been living here for three generations and has made a living farming cotton, corn, and soybeans. My granddad is Floyd Hughes Jr., who has made a huge impact on the community and in my life. He has always instilled in me the three f’s in life: faith, family and farming. These three things have had a huge impact on my life and shaped me into the person I am today.

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. And I at my wedding November 2013

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. And I at my wedding November 2013

I grew up in a way that would be foreign to today’s generation of young people. My summers were spent playing outside in the clubhouse built for my sister, cousins and me. We would spend hours building onto our club, where many tears, fights, and laughs took place. In the afternoons, we would gather underneath Granddaddy and Grandmother Faye (Momma’s) tree to shell peas or shuck corn. At the time, I thought it was boring and a waste of time, but now I understand that we were learning much more than how to prepare food. That’s the thing about grandparents; every task always comes with a free life lesson. On hot summer days we would go to my Mama Charlotte and Papa Norman’s pool for a swim. They too are longtime residents of Samantha. My Mama Charlotte was born and raised in Berry, Alabama but she will be the first to tell you that she is a Ram fan.

In the fall my grandmother Faye would load us up in their Dodge Ram (that they still drive to this day) and take us to the cotton field to watch my granddad Floyd, my dad Barry and Uncle Bryan pick the cotton fields.

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. In his cotton field in Samantha, Alabama

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. In his cotton field in Samantha, Alabama

We would spend hours picking cotton by hand, riding in the cotton pickers, running the packing machine, and jumping into big piles of freshly-picked cotton. It felt as though we were jumping on clouds. As a child, I thought nothing was more beautiful than a cotton field, and at twenty eight I still feel the same way. Weekends were always filled with cheering for Toybowl football, showing sheep for 4-H, playing softball, or spending time playing on the farm. The I-phone and social media generation of today will never understand the fulfillment that comes from fishing in a pond, playing in a creek, or spending time around animals.

Sundays were all about church. My whole entire family (which was 15 people at the time) would sit on the same group of church pews Sunday after Sunday. We would sing songs together from the Baptist Hymnal. Even today with the Contemporary music that is popular in most churches, I prefer the classic gospel. After church we would all go to my grandparents and eat lunch, and on special occasions we would enjoy homemade ice-cream. Easter was something that we looked forward to for months because my grandmother would take my sister and me to town and buy us matching dresses. Today in our twenties, my sister and I still coordinate our Easter outfits.

Throughout high school, cheerleading filled up most of my time. Now as an adult when I watch my younger brother, Mason, play for the Rams, I still remember the feeling I had on Friday nights when I stepped on that field. Football at Northside is about much more than playing a game. At Northside football is what brings people together. I remember looking up in the stands on Friday nights and thinking how blessed I was to be a part of this community, one that was really more like a huge family. Some of my friends growing up hated that small town feeling of everyone knowing everyone else. I, however, loved that feeling. I loved the fact that complete strangers would run into me and tell me that I looked just like my mother, or that people I met could still remember my dad’s first truck: a 1981 red and white Chevrolet that he still owns to this day.

I did most of the normal things that girls do growing up like sports, beauty pageants, and school clubs, but the hobby that affected my life the most was hunting. My granddad Floyd put a gun in my hand for the first time and taught me how hunting is about time, patience, and respect just like life. My granddad is the only person I have ever seen who can read the newspaper, crunch on an apple, and unwrap candy in the shooting house and still kill a deer. I, however, sit completely quiet and see nothing but squirrels; that’s just how it goes. I wouldn’t trade the days I have spent hunting with my granddad for anything in the world though. My grandparent’s generation is a walking book of knowledge that I love to explore. There is something amazing about hearing about how my grandparents first met, that my granddad broke down on the way to a date and stood my grandmother up, or that they share the same love for Johnny Cash’s music as I do. Looking back on my almost thirty years of life, I feel very blessed not only to have my family, but the family that is made up within my community.

If I am ever blessed with children these are the main things I would teach them: 1. to get outside and enjoy nature; it’s hard to beat a snow white cotton field or autumn in the South, 2. to always count your blessings, because there is always something to be thankful for, and 3. To spend as much time as you can with your family, especially your grandparents. They are the best teachers, motivators, and friends. As far as my roots and wings go, they have both made an impact on my life. I’m glad that I learned to fly. I left my hometown, graduated from the University of Alabama, got married and on my honeymoon even swam in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. But as the saying goes, “There is no place like home.” It turns out that my roots were stronger than my wings, and my husband and I are getting ready to build a house on a hill overlooking quiet, simple Samantha. And if I ever do have kids and grandkids of my own, I will I pass along what my granddad told me that it takes to build a successful life in the country: a little faith, a little family and a little farming.

Brooke Hughes Snipes –Samantha Living, Guest Contributor
tbhughes1@crimson.ua.edu

If you enjoyed this article please let Brooke know by leaving comments below.

Do you have memories you would like to share in a similar article?  Send them to editor@samanthaliving.com

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.

image

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.

image

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

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.

 

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