Thursday, October 31, 2019

Alabama History & Culture News: October 31 edition

Here's the latest batch of links to just-published Alabama history and culture articles. Most of these articles are from newspapers, with others from magazines and TV and radio station websites. Enjoy!

Handley students complete annual artifact dig
Sears explains they want students to not just study history but uncover ... state bicentennial, her students wrote five mini essays on Alabama history.

Haunted event at Old Cahawba offers 'authentic' experience
Over the last two weekends, Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, a historic site under the supervision of the Alabama Historical Commission (AHC), ...

Haunted history of Massacre Island, Alabama
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) — One of the Gulf Coast's most haunted spots is down on Massacre Island which is known today as Dauphin Island.

On this day in Alabama history: Willie McCovey died
Mobile native Willie Lee McCovey (1938-2018) was a leader of the San Francisco Giants throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The first baseman ...

Taking a close look at Alabama's constitution history
(WSFA) - The state of Alabama has had six constitutions during its history. The Alabama Department of Archives and History partnered with Faulkner ...

Mary Anderson, born in 1866 in Greene County, Ala., had an idea to clean windshields of the new “horseless carriages” that were gaining popularity.

OUR VIEW: Local woman publishes book about Chambers County
Besides Chambers and its cities and towns, the book features the Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the library, East Alabama Water, ...

5 things you didn't know about Birmingham's historic hotels, including 3 presidential guests (old ...
Birmingham has sooo many beautiful historic hotels. ... During his trip from Montgomery, Alabama to Charleston, West Virginia, country music legend ...

Fire severely damages historic home in Twickenham district of downtown Huntsville
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A historic home in the Twickenham district of downtown Huntsville was severely damaged in a fire on Sunday. An architect who ...

New Hope Church celebrates Rosenwald School centennial
It was an afternoon of celebration with old-fashioned gospel music, ... “They include the Alabama Historic Commission, the Coosa RC&D, the ...

Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, but she grew up in Eatonville, Florida. ... a letter to W.E.B. Du Bois encouraging him to honor the ancestors by establishing a cemetery for influential African Americans.

Deep in the heart of Mobile, Alabama, just on the edge of Bayou Street and outside a cemetery wall stands a tree called the Boyington Oak.

Melvin's serves transcendent barbecue and is housed in a funky unmarked former garage across from Huntsville's Glenwood Cemetery.

Enchanted shop remains a hidden treasure in Magic City
Alabama is opening up to the idea of magic. ... to a place like it before, especially not in Alabama,” Ivy Borden, a freshman majoring in art history, said.

Limited-edition Knob Creek Bourbon celebrating Alabama's bicentennial now available
“Aged a minimum of nine years, Knob Creek Single Barrel Select has always been a celebration of time, effort and the experience of a storied history.

Taylor Hicks will bring musician's perspective to AMHOF board
... join the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board, and look forward to the work we will do together to recognize and honor our state's rich musical history.".

Taylor Hicks joins board of Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Taylor Hicks joins board of Alabama Music Hall of Fame ... music history and also encourage other Alabama-based musicians to follow their dreams.

Officials: Warehouse Fire Most Costly in Attalla History
Officials: Warehouse Fire Most Costly in Attalla History ... (AP) — Officials say a fire at an Alabama warehouse is the most disastrous in the city of ...

On this day in Alabama history: Diary writer born
Sallie Independence Foster was born in Nashville but from the age of 7 lived at the extravagant mansion Courtview, which she would own upon her ...

Group dives deep into Tuscaloosa's haunted history
John Pace, a sophomore majoring in history and economics, is the vice president of the University of Alabama Undergraduate Historical Society.

Library to host award-winning photographer
Developed in partnership with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and NewSouth Books, “My Alabama” showcases the state's beauty and diversity ...

Works of Alabama Writers Hall of Fame honorees span wide range
The work produced by the 2020 inductees into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame covers a wide range, from children's books to innovative novels.

Author: Weird tourism can mean big bucks
Wil Elrick, who writes books about the urban legends and history, was the guest ... Spector, Alabama, is a ghost town that never existed except in the ...

On this day in Alabama history: Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum relocated to Mobile ...
Henry “Hank” Aaron was born in 1934. His dad, Herbert, built a three-room home for the family in 1942 in Mobile's Toulminville neighborhood.

On this day in Alabama history: President Warren Harding visits Birmingham for semicentennial ...
... him with the “greatest, warmest and most enthusiastic reception” of his term in office. Read more at Bhamwiki. (Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter).

In Alan Jackson's classic tune "Midnight in Montgomery" he is riding his Silver Eagle tour bus through Alabama heading for an upcoming concert in ...

6 independent bookstores to check off your list in Birmingham, AL
Alabama Booksmith is one of the oldest bookstores in Birmingham. ... Burdock Book Collective is an intersectional feminist bookstore and community

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Zina: The Slave Girl by Dr. Augustin Thompson

Sometimes in this business--pursuing Alabama-related stuff--you can tumble pretty far down a rabbit hole. This post is an example.

Recently Project Gutenberg loaded a copy of a play called "Zina: The Slave Girl, or, Which the Traitor?" by Dr. Augustin Thompson and published in 1882. Glancing at the first scene, I noticed an Alabama connection. Let's investigate. First, who was Augustin Thompson, anyway?

He was born in Union, Maine, in 1835. When the Civil War started, he enlisted in the Union Army and received a commission as Captain of Company G, 28th Maine Volunteer Infantry. His unit saw action at the Siege of Port Hudson in Louisiana and also at Fort Pickens in Pensacola. Thompson suffered a wound and developed tuberculosis; he was discharged in August 1863. He rejoined in October 1864 and served the remainder of the war as commander of a unit protecting the shipbuilding port of Bath, Maine. After the war Congress awarded him the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel for his service.

Thompson attended medical school at Hahnemann Homeopathia College in Philadelphia and set up his office in Lowell, Massachusetts, after graduation. By 1885 he had developed a very successful practice. But during those years he did not just see patients. Around 1876 he developed a "nerve food" patent medicine and began distribution as a syrup in 1884. The following year he invested $15,000 in the marketing and sale of a carbonated beverage he trademarked as "Moxie". 

The product was successful, and four years later Thompson and one of his sales agents created the Moxie Nerve Food Company. Thompson received a nice salary as general manager and was able to spend his time promoting Moxie and pursuing his other interests, such as writing. 

Moxie was one of the rare patent medicines to make the transition to another type of consumer product, the soft drink. The change became necessary after passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, a law that forced patent medicine makers to put active ingredients on their labels. Once the public became aware of just how many such products included alcohol, cocaine, and opium, companies had to change their formulas or go out of business.  

Ironically, the Moxie company is owned today by Coca Cola, another patent medicine turned soft drink, and remains popular especially in New England. I've never tried one, but it supposedly has a sweet flavor and a bitter aftertaste due to the gentian root extract in its formula. 

Thompson's play "Zina" was published in 1882 before he began serious work on marketing his patent medicine. As note above, I stumbled across this item on Project Gutenberg. Their copy came from the digital version at the Library of Congress; the print copy there is in the African American Pamphlet Collection. 

Printed copies seem to be quite rare. The WorldCat database of library holdings from around the world only lists three copies, the Library of Congress one and others in Kansas and New York libraries. The work did not show up on Google Books, the Internet Archive or Hathi Trust. Zina may have been self-published by Thompson; the "Courier Press" is probably his hometown newspaper, the Lowell Courier

Zina seems to be an anti-slavery play written 25 or more years too late. The first scene is a dialog between Zina, "Property of Keele Brightly" who is a "Slavetrader, gambler, and guerilla chief" and Martelle d’Arneaux. "A true type of the old Southern chivalry." The two, who know each other, meet in a street; D'Arneaux sees she has been weeping. She tells him she is waiting for her master to finish gambling, and then she'll go back with him. As they converse, D'Arneaux learns she is mistreated by Brightly, and she begs him to purchase her. 

D'Arneaux observes, "Zina, you were not born to be a slave. God has not put the stamp of that race in your angel face. Your brain is sharper than your master’s. Think! at fourteen you read as well as the best at the plantation. In music you are a prodigy." By the end of the scene Zina, afraid she will be sold to a slave trader the next day, is on her knees begging. D'Arneaux promises, "I will try."

The next scene is set in the club at a hotel. Brightly and Merald Myers, "A gambler, duellist, and slave trader," are playing the card game faro, which was extremely popular in the U.S. in the 19th century. Before this scene ends, future Confederate general John Bell Hood has joined the others, word of the bombardment of Fort Sumter has arrived, and D'Arneaux and Myers have had a lethal altercation.

The remainder of the play takes place near various battlefields; General William T. Sherman and other Northern and Southern characters appear. Read the play for yourself if you want to learn Zina's fate. 

Now for the payoff. Those first two scenes that make up Act I contain five references to the city of Mobile. The first scene is set in a street in the city. The second scene takes place in the cafe of the "Hotel Leon." During that scene this dialog takes place:

Myers. Come, Brightly, as you and I have not quarreled, let us have a whack at the national game. (Deals cards—they play.)
Brightly. Myers, you are the sauciest devil in Mobile.
Myers. Why?
Brightly. Because you are the best shot, I suppose.
Myers. Then Mobile tolerates me, does it?
Hood. It does.
Myers. Then suppose it should choose to do otherwise?

Hood. Some citizen would wring your nose and kick you out.

So why did Thompson set the first act in Mobile? Who knows? He had no apparently connection with the city that I could find. Perhaps when his unit was active in the Pensacola area he heard stories about the slave trade in Mobile. 

Thompson published at least two other works before his death. A Waif in the Conflict of Two Civilizations: Tale of the Great Civil War and the Last Days of Slavery in America was published in 1892. The Origin and Continuance of Life, Together with the Development of a System for Medical Administration on the Law of Similars, From a Discovery of its Principles in the Law of Natural Affinities appeared in 1902.

You can read more about Thompson here and about Moxie here 

Frontispiece from Thompson's 1902 book The Origin and Continuance of Life

Source: Internet Archive

Augustin Thompson [1835-1903]

Source: Find-A-Grave


By Dr. A. THOMPSON, of Lowell, Mass.
[Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1882, by Augustin Thompson, of Lowell, Mass., in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.]

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Alabama History & Culture News: October 26 edition

Here's the latest batch of links to just-published Alabama history and culture articles. Most of these articles are from newspapers, with others from magazines and TV and radio station websites. Enjoy!

History of man who worked on "Death Railroad" in Japan presented in Centre
The documented history of Benjamin Earl Weaver and the USS Houston has been presented to the Cherokee County Library in Centre, Alabama.

Alabama mansion in ghost show has intriguing history
Alabama Highway 59 through Monroe County is flanked by fields dotted with haybales and modest farmhouses until, past a row of trees and a long dirt ...

On this day in Alabama history: President Warren Harding visits Birmingham for semicentennial ...
President Warren G. Harding's visit to Birmingham on Oct. 26, 1921, was the highlight of a weeklong 50th anniversary celebration at Capitol Park (Now ...

The Alabama City That Doesn't Run From Its Cruel Past
But this Alabama town (an hour from the perennial queer hotspot of Pensacola, Fla.) has LGBTQ visitors coming for the food, music, history, and ...

State College-Delta students take civil rights trip in Alabama
Middle school and high school students from the Delta program in State College, went to different historical spots and museums across Alabama.

SHS students learn Alabama history through art
Students in the Straughn High School Art Guild honored Alabama's Bicentennial by creating a massive foam map. Art Guild sponsor Bettina Shiver ...

On this day in Alabama history: First class of Alabama Academy of Honor announced
The first 14 members of the Alabama Academy of Honor were announced on Oct. 25, 1968, and inducted on Aug. 25, 1969. Each year, 10 members ...

On this day in Alabama history: Abraham Mordecai was born
Abraham Mordecai was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 24, 1755. It is believed he took part in the American Revolution before settling in ...

Alabama Read 200 author to speak at UWA
The University of West Alabama's Julia Tutwiler Library will host a book talk by author Dr. G. Ward Hubbs on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 2 until 4 p.m. The ...

'Alabama Story' coming to The Studio Theater in Carmel, Indiana
The play, by Kenneth Jones, is based on the story of Hoosier librarian Emily Wheelock Reed, who kept the book available for request even as a ...

Segregationists wanted to ban a book about bunnies. A Hoosier librarian refused.
The story itself is about Alabama, but at its center is a woman who grew up in Indiana. It began in 1959 with a children's book about a black rabbit who ...

ALABAMA Inducted into Musicians Hall of Fame; Receives First-Ever Lifetime Achievement Award
ALABAMA, the most successful band in the history of country music, has been formally inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame. Last night, October ...

“Selma: A Bicentennial History” By: Alston Fitts III
“Selma: A Bicentennial History”. Author: Alston Fitts III. Publisher: University of Alabama Press. Pages: 360. $39.95 (Cloth). Alston Fitts, originally from ...

A funeral was held at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo for veteran Edward Prokes, Jr., an Air Force veteran who passed away Oct. 9.

Slow Progress on Effort to Honor Selma's First Black Mayor
“I think it's very befitting that the park be renamed after former mayor James Perkins because he was the first African-american mayor of the historical ...

University students help town of Shorter identify deceased in old cemetery
“We will also work with the community to submit an application to the Alabama Historical Commission for the cemetery to be listed on the Alabama ...

Taylor receives prestigious archivist award
Taylor, who chairs the Black Heritage Council and is the first African-American president of the Alabama Historical Association, is recognized as an ...

On this day in Alabama history: Vulcan's torch turns green for the first time
Vulcan's torch was lit at a dedication ceremony on Oct. 23, 1946, and remained green for nine days. It then turned red, for the first time alerting citizens ...

On this day in Alabama history: Boxer Deontay Wilder was born
Deontay Wilder was born in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 22, 1985. After graduating from Central High School, Wilder went to Shelton State Community College ...

Historical marker unveiled at local church cemetery
This marker means the cemetery is listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. The marker was erected this year by the Tallapoosa County ...

WWII Veteran Visits USS Alabama to remember
When a WWII veteran visits, the battleship park staff records an oral history of their memories. “It allows us to interpret the ship and the sub in a very ...

This marker means the cemetery is listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. The marker was erected this year by the Tallapoosa County ...

MONTEVALLO – A World War II veteran who perished in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was laid to rest at the Alabama National Cemetery on ...

On this day in Alabama history: Former Southern Company President Alvin Vogtle was born
Alvin Vogtle, born in Birmingham on Oct. 21, 1918, graduated with a bachelor's degree from Auburn University in 1939 and went on to study law at the ...

On this day in Alabama History: The Alabama Crimson Tide made their television debut
The Alabama Crimson Tide made their television debut facing off against rival Tennessee. The 1951 season was an interesting one for the Tide.

A walk through the cemetery doesn't normally sound like something to smile about, but there are no tears in one of Huntsville's most historic grave ...

People walk through Forrest Cemetery on Sunday, Oct. 20 during its annual Walk Through Time event. ... Steve Hildebrant portrays William Patrick Lay, who was the founder of the Alabama Power Company, on Sunday, Oct. 20 ...