The Selma Times-Journal from Selma, Alabama on February 28, 1993 · 46
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The Selma Times-Journal from Selma, Alabama · 46

Selma, Alabama
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 28, 1993
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INDEX TO ADVERTISERS Visitors flocking to first capital J. he town of Cahawba was bom in 1819 out of the new states need for a centrally located capital, and by 1820 was the home of two newspapers, a thriving commercial district, residents of means ranging from humble to lavish, the Dallas County seat and the first Alabama Statehouse. But by 1826, devastating floods and petty politics had taken their toll on the beautiful city that once welcomed Lafayette in state. The state capital was removed to Tuscaloosa, but Cahawba lived on and prospered through the 1840s, SOs and 60s, as a social and commercial center with many well-to-do merchants and planters. But when the Confederacy and its slave-based economy died, Cahawba died with it, a long, lingering death. By the 1870s, the town was nearly deserted as residents left in search of greener pastures. By 1900, most of its fine buildings had decayed, burned or been removed. By the 1930s, with almost no structures intact, once-proud Cahawba had become a ghost town. Restoring traces of the wooded sites important past without destroying the often eerie beauty of todays Cahawba is the concern of the Alabama Historical Commissions Cahawba Project and the Cahawba Concern. Since 1979, they have combined their efforts to preserve the states first permanent capital site as a public interpretive history park. Our biggest challenge' is to help people find what they are looking for when they come to Cahawba, but we dont want to clear away so much that we lose the mystery that is there, said project archaeologist Julie Lyons, who has been working with Cahawba Project director and archaeologist Linda Derry at the site for five years. We dont want to lose that ghost town atmosphere, because thats what Cahawba is. That mystery is part of what draws people here. Finally a reality after years of what Mrs. Lyons describes as faith and hard work by a believing few, Cahawba State Park will not open officially until an early May ribbon-cutting, still to be scheduled. But the park is already in business, as proven by documented visits of almost 82,000 people in 1992. Thats not bad for a park thats not even open yet, Mrs. Lyons said. In fact, if s great. With that many people making the trip to Cahawba, were already contributing to the local economy. Up to 8,000 people visit the park each Cahawba Day, an annual arts, crafts and entertainment festival scheduled this year for May 8. What brings so many people to a remote site 12 miles west of Selma? Famous Crocheron columns at Cahawba Inside story Harvest Select. Roland Mrs. Lyons said many arc drawn by Cahawbas romantic past, the story of the prosperous town that, like ancient Troy, now exists only on old maps, in books and in ruins like the Crocheron columns that still stand there. It is a history that Mrs. Lyons and Mrs. Derry learn more about almost every day, thanks to the contributions of Cahawba descendants. Its amazing the number of people in Selma... and everywhere who are descended from old Cahawba families, Mrs. Lyons said. They will contact us about old family letters and diaries or maybe just stories that have been handed down for generations... We can help, them with their genealogy, and they can help us fill in the blanks about people who lived there and where they went when they left Cahawba. Recently, for instance, the archaeologists received a letter from a Texas man who had a fascinating tale about Augustus Hatcher Jackson, an ancestor buried in the cemetery at old Cahawba. Jacksons tombstone shows only that the Confederate soldier died in 1862 with the Army of Tennessee; but his descendant was able to provide a transcript of a 1931 Selma Times- Joumal article that told of Jacksons untimely death when he was buried alive by a family of abolitionists. Reportedly kept a secret to protect his widow and other survivors, Jacksons fate was disclosed by Cahawba historian Anna Gayle Frye near the end of her life. Things like that wed never be able to find in standard research, Mrs. Lyons said. We plan to use that story next Halloween. The New Cemetery at Cahawba is the site each Halloween of moonlight tours, featuring tales of the old capital city told by the ghosts of those buried there. Also at Cahawba are the Old Capital Cemetery, location of several Civil War memorials, and an almost forgotten cemetery with graves currently being cataloged by members of Explorer Post 2011, a group of scouts who help the archaeologists with various Cahawba projects. If Cahawba enthusiasts have their way, visitors to the site may soon be able to visit one building original to Cahawba the old Episcopal church built near the Cahaba River in 1858 and relocated to Martins Station 20 years later. Now used by Azion Baptist Church, the structure See CAPITAL, page 10 Up With Perry County Perry County Courthouse Perry County is a community of energetic and friendly people who are working to gather to build a prosperous future for generations to come. We invite all industries and businesses to let us show you what we have to offer. We have prime industrial and business locations easily accessible by major transportation. By MICHELE SAVAGE Lifestyle Editor A labor force that is comprised of reliable and hard working people. Perry Countians are able to be active in civic groups, churches, youth and sport activities. We also benefit from excellent health care facilities and an outstanding educational system which includes Judson College and Marion Military Institute. Perry County offers agriculture, aquaculture, and tremendous wood resources as well as a national forest. Charle s LeCroy District Z County Commissioners Perry County Courthouse P. O. Box 470 Marion, Al. 36756 205-693-2200 Albert Turner District fl Chairman District 4 J ernes Rhinehart District 9 Sem Early District 09 Johnny Flowers Noodie Carroll Appliances your local W WhiteWestinghouse Helymg You Lhv )our Amcnaui Dream. Dealer A short pleasant drive to the country for great selection, service and big savings (We have front & top loading machines) 600 Pecan Rd. Shop (205) 366-5748 Home (205) 366-2858 0

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