We here at Serpents of Bienville have a lot of different projects currently running. One project that we are particularly excited about is the Alabama Oddities pieces that Amanda is writing for our social media sites. She is doing daily updates, bringing you a new story every morning, of something strange and odd from our Southern home. Not everyone has social media, so we will be doing weekly rundown's of her stories, which we will be publishing every Sunday. We hope you guys enjoy, and remember to follow us on our social media sites to get daily Alabama Oddities stories. Enjoy!
Hartselle Held Hostage - (Thursday September 24th)
Today's story is a true tale from the humble little town of Hartselle AL, found further west than the original site because the rail company found it’s request for the sloped area as a stop and station downright impractical. But in March of 1926, it seems their kindness was taken horrid advantage of, with bank robbers making off with over $15,000 in gold and tender, never to be brought to justice. The two hostages at the bank were the teller, who had just escorted his date safely home for the evening, and the night guard who was just offering the strangers directions to the nearest fill station. The two hostages at the rail station were only in town to purchase a coffin for a loved one. Thankfully none were harmed and the only strange report was that a woman was driving a car that day. The bank was insured and was reimbursed for the loss, but still. That’s Alabama.
Noccalula The Fallen Princess - (Friday September 25th)
Today I'm sharing the tale behind the beautiful and bizarre bronze statue of the Indian maiden choosing her fate. Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden, Alabama is named for a Cherokee princess, who was known for her inner and outer beauty. She was madly in love with a brave man from her tribe, but her father had plans of selling her hand to wed a neighboring chief in exchange for goods and services. She refused to take part in a cold and loveless marriage, so while the people gathered for the ceremony, Noccalula quietly climbed to the top of Black Creek Falls and stepped off the summit, ending her heart's war.
Stars Fell On Ann - (Saturday September 26th)
On November 30, 1954, the sky in Sylacauga was lit up red as a roman candle. The meteorite shot in through her ceiling, ricocheting off her radio, and blasting Ann Hodges on the thigh while she was napping on the couch, leaving massive bruise in the shape of a pineapple. Ann is the only person in history confirmed to have been hit by a meteorite. There you go. That's Alabama.
Smut. Eye. Alabama. - (Sunday September 27th)
Today we are sending you to SMUT EYE. That's right. Smut Eye, Alabama is said to have gained it's name from the dirty guys hanging out at the blacksmith. These men would return after the day of socializing covered in black soot, or smut. Get your minds out of the gutter, guys! This small town is also home to Smut Eye Pond and Smut Eye Lake. That's Alabama.
Dead Children's Playground - (Monday September 28th)
We are sending you all the creeps this morning. Drost Park in Huntsville is known to the locals as the Dead Children's Playground. Legend has it that a serial child killer in the 40's hid his innocent victim's bodies in the woods behind the park. Along with other children's graves surrounding the play area, circumstances make for a hotbed of ghostly activity. Visitors report playful footsteps, laughter, and orbs that move across the equipment seemingly playing on the jungle gyms and slides. I'd say this park has a number of pleased patrons.
Hell's Gate Bridge - (Wednesday September 30th)
If you could cross Hell's Gate Bridge in Oxford, Alabama, I have two pieces of advice: don't look back and definitely don't stop the car! You could, but lore says that looking back will leave you staring into the roaring fires at the gates of hell. Tale also tells that a young couple met death when they drove off this bridge one night. If you stop your car, one of the lovers will join you on your drive across, leaving a puddle on the seat from their watery grave.
Mount Nebo Death Masks - (Thursday October 1st)
Welcome to October! In the spirit of the season, until Halloween I'm going to try my best to creep you out! Let's start with Nettles' Death Masks. Nebo Cemetery in Clarke County, Alabama is in the National Register of Historic Places due to the headstones that tend to stare right back at you. An inventor named Isaac Nettles praised them as his Death Masks. He cast the faces of people before they died and stored them to create a unique grave marking upon the person’s passing. While most have fallen victim to vandals, the greatest of his works, the triple headed memorial, still stands, molded from the faces his wife and daughters.
Nancy and Buster - (Friday October 2nd)
Nancy Dollar died in January 1931 at the age of 108. She had a loving dog named Buster, but her "friends" actually killed the poor boy and buried him with her. If this wasn't enough to make a soul weary, thieves broke into her cabin and stole the money she had saved for her own headstone. Locals saw the ghosts of Nancy and Buster wandering the woods together thereafter, and so often that the town of Mentone raised funds in 1973 to have a gravestone made just for Nancy, which seems to have brought her some peace. Buster, on the other hand, is still spotted in the woods every now and again. Dogs deserve a little recognition, too, Mentone!
Reuben On Display - (Saturday October 3rd)
You guys wanna go see a dead body? Reuben Houston Burrow was born in 1854 in Lamar County, Alabama and died under the heat of a gunfight in 1890 in Linden, Alabama. Rube was ruthless, a widely infamous train robber. This photo is of his dead body, preserved and hauled to numerous cities in Alabama and displayed prominently as a warning to other thieves and robbers who may gamble for the same fate.
Sketoe's Hole - (Sunday October 4th)
Here's one of my favorite phenomenon from Alabama. In Newton, there is a hole that cannot be filled. This hole was dug so that the tall man known as Bill Sketoe could be hung. Sketoe was fighting for the Confederacy when he caught wind that his wife, who was back home raising his eight children, had fallen ill. Sketoe left battle and nursed his wife back to health, but never returned to his men. Now known as a deserter, he was hunt down by six men. They found him, beat him senseless, and hung him from a tree near the Choctawhatchee River. Given his height, though, his feet drug the ground. So the men dug a hole, and Sketoe passed. His ghost has never actually been seen, but though this hole was dug in soft bank sand, it has never filled. Locals camp out, filling this hole with sand, dirt, solids, even CEMENT, yet morning comes, and the hole remains. The men that killed him have all met strange fates as well, but that's a story for another day.