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!
Vanishing of Orion Williamson - Monday December 7th
Orion Williamson was rocking on his farmhouse porch with his family, in Selma, Alabama 1854. It was getting to be so hot outside that Orion worried for his horses, so he stood up to usher them into the shade. His neighbor and son were walking back to their home while Orion was walking through the field. He turned, waved a friendly hello to the two, and vanished into thin air. The neighbors and family watching from the porch immediately panicked, searching the entire area, only to find a dead ring of grass where Orion last stood. Search parties organized over the next few weeks, and newspapers accounted his story, hoping anyone, or any thing, would come forward with information. His family members swore they could hear him calling out from the field, but that sound began to fade as well, and the last trace of him was the ring of dead grass, reappearing one year later in the exact same spot. Scientists have theorized why Orion Williamson disappeared this way, but the facts get even crazier than the folklore.
Jellyfish in The Lake - Tuesday December 8th
Stallworth Lake in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was created in 1918 by damming marsh area near the business district, condensing an ecosystem with a small streamlet to deposit into the river. On September 14, 1928, a rare discovery took place. The freshwater Medusa jellyfish were observed in the lake and were present in great numbers until October 9th of the same year, and were never spotted again. The oddest part is that all of the jellyfish observed and examined by Dr. White, zoologist and biologist that made the discovery, we're all male. Dr. White could never come up with a scientifically sound reason as to how the freshwater jellyfish got into the lake, nor could he figure out why they disappeared.
Belly Full of Maggots - Wednesday December 9th
Two little girls were running around their neighborhood in Jasper, Alabama, when they noticed Mrs. Booth's front door sitting open. Curious and worried, the girls slowly entered the house. "Help me!" They heard a whimper from the bedroom. They saw her body in the bed, covered completely in a blanket with just a frail old hand reaching out from underneath. One of the girls grabbed the blanket and pulled it back, revealing Mrs. Booth and her two gaping open wounds, maggots squirming out from her inside. The girls shrieked in terror and ran, not stopping until they were safe at home. The two girls were so frightened, they vowed to never tell anyone. Later that year, that same house went up for sale at a steal of a price, so the girls' father bought it and moved his family in. The girls were now forced to grow up in the room that Mrs. Booth died in. Every night, their parents would come in o kiss them, say goodnight, and turn out their light. As the door shut, the rocking chair in the corner would begin to move, unceasingly rocking until dawn.
Mr. Frank, Court Jester - Thursday December 10th
Mr. Frank S. Stone, Jr. was an attorney in Baldwin County beginning in 1985 and moving his practice from Daphne to Bay Minette in 1901. His new office was next to another lawyer's practice named Sam Jenkins. Frank would leave a sign in the window when he left each night that read, "Gone Fishin'. If you need a lawyer you can go next door and see Sam Jenkins. Or you can go to hell. It's the same thing." One of Mr. Frank's cases was to defend a man caught moonshining in the area. When cross examining the FBI agent in court, he asked the agent what he saw in the jar. The agent answered, using the slang term for moonshine, "stump hole water." Frank asked the man what the moonshine tasted like, to which he answered again, "stump hole water." Mr. Frank concluded in his closing argument that if the liquid looked like stump hole water and tasted like stump hole water, then the only logical explanation was that the substance had to be stump hole water and not moonshine. The moonshiner was acquitted.
All Art Has Roots - Friday December 11th
In 1993, a destructive storm came through Montevallo, just South of Birmingham, Alabama, killing or severely damaging large oaks in Orr Park. Local artist Tim Tingle pleaded with the city to put down their chainsaws, that the oaks were too beautiful to lose. His wish was granted, leaving Tim with a grand canvas, and he set off to stir appreciation for these oaks' beauty in the community. His creations took form, one by one, and today over thirty art pieces can be found in, rightfully named, Tinglewood, along the walking trail of Orr Park.
Fear Doesn’t Seem to Age Much - Saturday December 12th
During WWII Mobile, Alabama became an even larger major port than it’s previous utilization. The ADDSCO (Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company) built a 16,000 ton dry dock, launching insane amounts of wartime vessels. The number of employees at ADDSCO grew from under 2,000 to well over 30,000, and the Gulf Shipbuilding company expanded from 240 to 11,600. Brookley Field was built to modify and assemble aircrafts, employing another 17,000 people, half of them being women. With all of these wartime jobs being created, the growth of the city nearly doubled in four years time. These people migrating to the mecca of jobs and salaries were mostly folks from the surrounding counties that were drowning from the Depression, looking to provide a living wage for their families. The sentiments of Mobile natives were that these people were going to destroy their way of life, never mind the city being incapable of planning for the influx and therefore not being able to provide adequate housing and basic goods, these people willfully blind to the fact that it wasn't just the port city that was changing, but the entire world and there was no going back. “We are quite exercised about the problems these newcomers raise for the city… Juvenile delinquency, illegitimate babies, venereal disease… riffraff.” A teacher is quoted, saying these neighbors are “the lowest type of poor… flocking in from the backwoods… Give them a good home and they wouldn’t know what to do with it… I hope we can get rid of them after the war.”
Glowing Walls of Dismal Canyon - Sunday December 13th
Dismals Canyon in Northwest Alabama is a National Natural Landmark located at the foot of the Appalachians. In the oppressing heat of Alabama summers (or winters), this heavenly canyon sits around fifteen degrees below the average temperatures, free of mosquitoes, poison oak, and flies. This privately owned conservatory is complete with rainbow waterfalls, natural swimming holes, hiking trails observing untouched nature, and blue-green glowing canyon walls. Bioluminescent larvae, named dismalites, nestled into the humid moss, glow to attract flying insects to feed on, creating a magical light show, and guided tours are provided to appreciate this phenomenon every night. This rare Alabama habitat, is one of only three areas in the world that these creatures call home, others being Australia and New Zealand. Dismals Canyon website states that it is hard to distinguish where the dismalites' habitat ends and the blanket of stars begins.
Check out DismalsCanyon.com for a photo gallery and information to visit this amazing place. If you have already been and have stories or photos to share, feel free to send them my way!