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!
Ellicott's Stone - Monday November 23rd Rock
George Washington commissioned a man named Andrew Ellicott to survey the land that then was the defining line between Spanish Territory and the United States in 1799. Ellicott was to place a marker on this dividing line, with the latitude and longitude carved into this sandstone. He meant to place it directly on the thirty first parallel of the earth’s north latitude. He missed by less than 500 feet. Really, that’s remarkable, seeing as he used only the stars and his own calculations. The stone still lies where it was originally placed, just North of Mobile off Highway 43.
Weeks Stained Red - Tuesday November 24th
Gramere Weeks was said to be of French royalty, fleeing during the revolution and settling in South Baldwin County, starting a family and bearing seven beautiful children. She was a religious woman, carrying her ruby red rosary in her pocket, cradling the beads and repeating her prayers in every idle moment she was given. Before she passed at age 85, she asked her husband to bury the rosary with her. The day before her funeral, he tore the cabin apart looking for it, to no avail. Mrs. Weeks was buried by the bay in the Creole cemetery with no rosary to take with her. The next morning, her husband awoke to the sight of the red rosary placed carefully atop his late wife’s pillow. He hurried down to the cemetery to push the rosary deep into the fresh dirt before the cement slab was to be placed over her grave. He visited her every week, and soon he noticed red circles beginning to stain the cement. As hard as he scrubbed, they always returned. He is now buried next to his wife, along Weeks Bay, with the stain from the Mrs. Weeks’ rosary beads still seeping through the cement.
The Great Alabama Flood - Wednesday November 25th
The Alabama Natives tell a legend of a great flood as predicted by a frog: when a man was ready to throw the creature into a fire, another man stopped him, telling him that it wasn't right to harm the animal. The kind man took the frog home and cared for it, and one day the frog divulged his knowledge. “The land will almost disappear in the waters. Make a raft and put a thick layer of grass underneath so that the beavers cannot cut holes through the wood.” So the man built a boat and rounded up animals to join him in protection from the flood. People laughed at him, but the rains still came and those on the boat survived. The Creek Natives share this story, with the addition of doves leaving the boat and bringing back pieces of earth, to form the dry land that we live on today.
The American Banner - Friday November 27th
Stephen J. Boykin wrote, edited and published his own widely circulated newspaper in Bay Minette, Alabama from 1899 to 1902, The American Banner, dedicated to local, national and international current events. His paper was written with with the intent of bringing together the black community, highlighting and rejoicing in each other's achievements. As a self-educated man, Stephen was dedicated to improving and furthering the educational opportunities formerly unavailable to his generation, so he founded the first Normal School in Baldwin County in 1899 and took on the Principal responsibility for his community. It seems that Stephen also inspired his eight children to be proactive and supportive to their community, our community, and their accomplishments and contributions can be easily found in all corners of Baldwin County.
"So, let us not all just sit by and watch others, but let us all get busy and do something positive so that our living will not be in vain." - Ethel Higgins, GulfCoastNewsToday.com
Alabama Baby - Saturday November 28th
Ella Gauntt Smith was a gifted seamstress in Roanoke, Alabama. A client brought her a broken doll and she spent two years attempting to repair it. When she was happy with the design she came up with, the doll was indestructible, so much so that legend has been passed down of a child dropping the toy in the street only to have it ran over by a truck, never to receive a blemish. Ella set off from there to gain a patent for her Alabama Baby, using her husband's name since it was illegal for a female to hold a patent in 1901. Her booming business pumped out 10,000 dolls at its peak, winning blue ribbons at the World's Fair, famed as being the first dollmaker in the South to offer representations of differing ethnicities. When the 1922 Toy Fair in New York came around, Ella hired two businessmen to represent her. They gathered hundreds of orders for the Alabama Baby, but the train home was derailed and the two men were killed in the crash. Their wives blamed Ella, and sued her for everything she had. The Alabama Baby was done, and this loss is said to have added to the intensity of Ella's diminishing health, and she passed soon after.
Woke Up Dead - Sunday November 29th
Joe Coleman tells a story in a collection called "Night With the Hants" about a man with a hunch from his hometown in Pickens County. Once the beloved neighbor passed away, he was fitted for a casket. To get the man to lie flat, his feet and head had to be strapped inside the casket. These straps were not as secure as onlookers would have hoped, and in the middle of his own funeral, the man sat straight up in his casket. He wasn't exactly a haint, but the sight would have been nonetheless traumatizing, I reckon.