Theodore, Alabama

Day 805

     Theodore, Alabama, is named for William Theodore Hieronymous, born December 11, 1889 in Mobile, Alabama. I guess they did not want to name a village Hieronymous. This is a suburb of Mobile. We also stayed here on Day 529.

     We strolled through Mobile, Alabama, stopping at the Mardi Gras Museum.

     Mardi Gras is the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States. Started by Frenchman Nicholas Langlois in 1703, when Mobile was the capital of Louisiana (see Day 281). This was fifteen years before New Orleans was founded.

     The Mobile, Alabama, Carnival Museum possess a wealth of dazzling attire worn by Mardi Gras kings and queens. The museum is housed in the Bernstein-Bush Manson, built in 1872 for Henry Bernstein, a boot and shoe dealer. The house was once owned by John Bush, who served as mayor of Mobile from 1897-1900, hence the name.

     The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was erected in 1839.

     It houses the oldest religious community in the State of Alabama, with it’s parish established in 1703 by John-Baptiste de la Croix, Bishop of Québec. 

     For 33 years, beginning in 1780, Mobile was governed by Spain. To honor this, this fountain and plaza was erected.

     I have no idea what this is. It was in front of an unidentified building, but it looks cool. 

     Continuing our stroll through Mobile, we come to The Mobile Mardi Gras Park. Dedicated to, guess what?

     Across the street was the Southern Market and Old City Hall, which now houses the Museum of Mobile.

     Completed in 1856, the building was used as a city hall and public market, a combination popular in Europe at the time. The government was run from the upstairs offices of the building, while the ground floor housed a fish market (we are right on Mobile Bay), grocery store, fruit stands, meat stalls, and two saloons. Horse drawn carriages could access the market along driveways that ran through the building. On September 12, 1979 the building became uninhabitable when Hurricane Frederic devastated Mobile. It took three and a half years to restore the building. In 2001 the building became the home of the Museum of Mobile, but the City Council still meets here once a year to maintain the unique status as the oldest continually used city hall in the United States.

     Inside the foyer was “Marianne” or The Goddess of Liberty, which use to stand on top of the 1889 Mobile County Courthouse. Damaged in the hurricane of 1916, she was disassembled and placed in storage until rescued by the Museum in 1970. She stands 18.5 feet tall on a 5 ft. pedestal.

     At this intersection, which separates Mardi Gras Park and the Southern Market and Old City Hall, the Order of Myths held Mobile’s first Mardi Gras parade on Shrove Tuesday, February 25, 1868.

     Continuing our stroll down the street to Mobile Bay, we come to the site of various forts by the Spanish, French, and Americans over the 160 year span from 1703 to 1865. The replica of the French Fort Condē, which stood here from 1724-1735, was a disappointment.

     They did preserve a vestige of Fort Condē, the only architectural remains of Colonial Mobile. 

     Well, I guess that is enough for one day. Tomorrow, if the weather is nice, we will go to Dauphin Island, which sits in the middle of Mobile Bay. The following day we leave for New Orleans to spend Thanksgiving with Barbara’s brother and family. 

Technical Stuff:

Auburn, Alabama to Theodore, Alabama: 237.0 miles

4 hours 54 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.81


Horseshoe Bend, Alabama

Day 802

     Barbara wanted to hike the battlefield of Horseshoe Bend.

     She took along her mule.

     At the beginning of the War of 1812, the Indians who inhabited the area of what is now Alabama, were fed up with the Americans. Numerous treaties had been made and broken by the white man with forked tongue. Although treaties had given the Creek Indians the land where I am now standing, settlers were pouring in and settling on this land. The Creeks weren’t going to take it anymore and began attacking and killing the trespassers.

     Congress sent Colonel Andrew Jackson to command the local militia and Creek Indians loyal to the U.S. His assignment: to remove these troublesome Indians, referred to as ” Red Sticks”, because they painted their war clubs red to distinguish themselves from the creeks who did not want war with the U.S., and make the land safe for settlers. 

     The Red Sticks had their major village, named Tehopekaon the Tallapoosa River. It was built on the land where the bend of the river resembled the shoe of a horse. 

     On March 27, 1814, Colonel Andrew Jackson led troops consisting of American soldiers, Cherokee, and Creek Indian allies, up a steep hill near Tehopeka.

     From this vantage point, Old Hickory, would begin his attack on the Red Stick 400-yard-long, log-and-dirt fortification (where the white markers are now located).

     Jackson ordered the attack. Major Lemuel P. Montgomery charged the breastworks and engaged the Red Sticks in hand-to-hand combat. He was one of the first to storm the Indian barricade, and one of the first to die. This was the first battle (and the last) of the 28 year old Tennessean. A commemorative marker was placed on this battlefield, and Montgomery, Alabama is named for him.   

     Jackson’s 3,000 man army defeated the 1,000 Creek Indians, ending the 2 year war.

      On August 9, 1814, Andrew Jackson required the Creeks sign a harsh Treaty in which the Creek Nation was forced to cede their land, 23 million acres, to the United States government, and leave the area to Oklahoma. Ironically, this applied to the Creek Indians who were loyal to the U.S. as well.

     Jackson was promoted to Major General and sent to New Orleans to face the invading British.

Auburn, Alabama

Day 801

     Auburn, Alabama, was opened to settlement on March 24, 1832 on land taken from the Creek Indians. The first settlers arrived in the winter of 1836. These settlers, led by Judge John J. Harper, born December 13, 1789, in Wilkes County, Georgia, intended to build a town that would be the religious and educational center for the area.

     According to local lore, a young woman chose the name for the town from the first line in Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village,” published in 1770, which reads “Sweet Auburn, the loveliest village of the plain.” Auburn was incorporated on February 2, 1839. On February 1, 1856, the state legislature chartered a Methodist college, the East Alabama Male College in Auburn. This college, now Auburn University, opened its doors in 1859.

     Not far from here is Moton Airfield: 

      Those who remember from high school the Red Tail Fighters of WWII know where I am. 

     Robert Russa Moton was born August 26, 1867, just west of Richmond, Virginia. He was the second president of Tuskegee Institute, succeeding it’s founder, Booker T. Washington, in 1915, a position he held for 20 years until retirement in 1935. Tuskegee Institute’s primary flight training field was dedicated in April 1943 in memory of Dr. Moton.

     In late 1939, after World War II had begun in Europe, Tuskegee Institute inaugurated a civilian flight-training program that provided the foundation for the subsequent military aviation training of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first negro pilots in U.S. military service, and the only ones in World War II. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen because all of them received their primary, basic, and advanced pilot training here at Tuskegee Institute. The term has come to be applied not only to the almost 1,000 pilots, but also to approximately 13,600 other personnel who supported them as maintenance and supply personnel.

Technical Stuff: Guntersville, Alabama to Auburn, Alabama: 215.6 miles

4 hours 47 minutes

9.6 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Guntersville, Alabama

Day 796

     The first white man to settle in this area of Alabama was John Gunter, born in 1765, a Scotsman who migrated from North Carolina after the Revolutionary War.

     Gunter came to the great bend of the Tennessee River around 1785, where he was fortunate to find a salt deposit. He decided to settle near the river. The town that emerged around his land, originally called Gunter’s Ferry, and then Gunter’s Landing, because his son, Edward, operated a ferry here, is present day Guntersville. He traded his salt with the Indians, the majority of whom were Cherokees.

     A Cherokee by the name of Chief Bushyhead, head of the Paint Clan, brought his beautiful 15 year old daughter, Ghe-go-he-li, to exchange for Gunter’s salt. (That is good use of a daughter.) Gunter accepted the bargain and changed his bride’s name to Katherine. Chief Bushyhead and Gunter signed a treaty stating “as long as the grass grows and the waters flow, the Indians can have salt.”

     On January 15, 1865, Federal Troops burned the town of Guntersville. One of the few buildings that survived was that of Montgomery Gilbreath, a Colonel in the confederate army, who fought at Shiloh. The board-and-batten house was built about 1858, and still stands today.

     As you can tell from reading my blog, I am interested in the town where we actually set up our camp. These towns, like Guntersville, are small and usually not familiar to everyone, like the big name cities, or well known historical places. To get the history of these towns, I go to the local historical society, chamber of commerce, or local museum. Guntersville’s Museum is located in their old National Guard Armory. Made of local rough limestone in the castellated style, this historic rock armory was built in 1936 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The armory was to provide storage and drill space for the local National Guard, Company E of the 167th Infantry, Second Battalion. They are famous for being part of the Rainbow Division of WWII. (Douglas MacArthur, a major then, cherry-picked the best national guard units from coast to coast and put four regiments together from 26 states like a rainbow. Alabama was selected.)

     We walked along the Tennessee River.

     And then Lake Guntersville. The lake was created when the Tennessee Valley Authority damed the Tennessee river.

     Why are we staying in this remote place? FREE CAMPING. When we bought the RV, they gave us a voucher for free camping at one of the properties of Ocean Canyon Properties, a membership only community. The only requirement was we had to listen to their spiel. In addition to 5 nights camping on Guntersville Lake, they gave us $100.00 cash. 

     We drove around the lake, and had dinner on the mountaintop which had a spectacular view of the lake. 

     Look for us down the road:

Technical Stuff:

Bowling Green, Kentucky to Guntersville, Alabama: 221.5 miles.

4 hours 52 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.95

Pelham, Alabama

Day 597

     Pelham, Alabama was named for Confederate American Civil War officer John Pelham. The city was incorporated in 1964. We did not do any exploring as we are here just for the night. This is a stop over on our way to Tennessee to a repair facility for the damage done by the gate closure. 

Walton, Florida to Pelham, Alabama: 244.6 miles

4 hours 58 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Montgomery, Alabama

Day 535

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8238_Fotor

     At the conclusion of the Creek War of 1814, much of the land that would become Alabama came under American control, 21 million acres. In 1817, Congress established the Alabama Territory and designated the town of St. Stephens as the capital. 

     The Towns of New Philadelphia and East Alabama Town merged on December 3, 1819, and were incorporated as the town of Montgomery. Montgomery, Alabama was named for Richard Montgomery, born December 2, 1738, a brigadier general in the Continental Army.

     Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819, and Montgomery became the State Capital on January 28, 1846

     Beginning February 4, 1861, representatives from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina met in Montgomery to host the Southern Convention, which ultimately formed the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was named the first capital of the nation, and Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President on the steps of the State Capitol building on February 18, 1861.

     We were given a private tour of the Capital Building, in which we saw the Senate Chamber, were the Confederate States of America was born

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8211_Fotorand the house chamber, where President Davis met with his cabinet.  Day 535 Montgomery AL 8225_Fotor

     I think that was his spittoon. 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8204_Fotor

     When you feel inside, there’s still some spit in there. 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8210_Fotor

     The walls and ceilings inside the Capital Building are completely flat, but painted to look 3D. My wife says it is called “Trompe-l’œil”. Day 535 Montgomery AL 8231_Fotor

     And they have a very neat spiral staircase that goes up 3 stories. 

     Jefferson Davis and his family resided here 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8172_Fotorin what is now called the First White House of the Confederacy. Actually, when he was living there it was not called that. In fact, the White House in Washington wasn’t named that until President Theodore Roosevelt established the formal name in 1901, well after the Civil War. 

     Davis lived here for a short time, as the Capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond Virginia on May 8, 1861. The house was built in 1835 by William Sayre, and at the time of the War of Northern Aggression was owned by Col. Edmond Harrison, a cotton planter. He leased the house to the Confederacy for use as a residence of the Davis family. 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8190_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Mobile, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama: 181.7 miles

3 hours 33 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.50