Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Black History Month: Remembering Jimmie Lee Jackson and Jonathan Daniels

In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to remember two young Civil Rights workers – one Black and the other White – who were slain during the heady days of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama during the 1960s.

Jimmie Lee Jackson (1938 – 1965) was born and raised here in Marion. As a Civil Rights protester, Jackson participated in a demonstration in Marion on the evening of February 18, 1965, which erupted in violence. During the melee Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot. He died at the hospital in Selma eight days later on February 26th. His death, coupled with other Civil Rights incidences, provoked the Selma to Montgomery marches, a watershed event in the Civil Rights Movement.

A photograph of Jimmie Lee Jackson.

A memorial plaque for Jackson in Marion, Alabama.

Jimmie Lee Jackson is buried in a small cemetery near Marion on Highway 14 East.

A distinguished graduate of the Virginia Military Institute where he was valedictorian in the Class of 1961, Jonathan Myrick Daniels (1939-1965) won both Woodrow Wilson and Danforth Fellowships. A native of Keene, New Hampshire, Daniels pursued graduate study in English at Harvard University before switching to the Episcopal Theological School (now Episcopal Divinity School) also in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When Dr. Martin Luther King called for seminarians and clergy to come to Alabama to work for the civil rights of African Americans, Jon Daniels, still a seminarian, answered that call. On August 20, 1965, in Hayneville, Alabama, off US 80, he was killed in an altercation. Another white Catholic priest was badly wounded.

Jonathan Daniels was buried in his hometown of Keene, New Hampshire. In 1994, Daniels was designated a martyr of the Episcopal Church. His alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, created the Jonathan Daniels Humanitarian Award (President Jimmy Carter is a recipient) and has named the arch in their new barracks for Jonathan Daniels. VMI also placed a memorial to Daniels on the courthouse square (Lowndes County) in Hayneville, Alabama.

Jonathan Daniels, Class of 1961, Virginia Military Institute (credit: VMI Archives).

VMI’s memorial to Daniels in Hayneville, Alabama (credit: VMI Archives).

Below are two more images related to Black History Month which have recently come my way:

An old snapshot of the Crossroads School (Cross Road School) cira 1950s or 1960s where Coretta Scott King went to school through the six grade. Photograph courtesy of Rosa Martin and Family of the Mt. Nebo A.M.E. Zion Church in North Perry County.

A photocopy from the book King Remembered (Norton, 1986) by Flip Schulke and Penelope Ortner McPhee. It shows the Marion City Hall (now the Alabama Military Hall of Honor) in the 1960s with Blacks and Whites waiting in line to either vote or register to vote.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eton of the South

Hopson Owen Murfee, who succeeded his father, James Thomas Murfee, as the second superintendent of Marion Military Institute, began developing a broader scope and purpose for the Institute during the early 1900s. His plan would establish Marion Institute (dropping Military from the name) as the “Eton of the South,” an American version of Eton College, one of the great public schools in England along with Harrow, Rugby, Winchester, etc. Murfee wanted to establish in the American Lower South a unique school of high culture, learning, service, and refinement.

The Instiute received prominent national attention under H. O. Murfee’s leadership. U. S. President William Howard Taft was persuaded to join the new Board of Directors (a Board filled with talent and influence), and Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, gave the Government Day Oration at MI in 1905. Following Wilson’s appearance, MI’s school colors were changed to orange and black and the athletic teams became the “Tigers”` in tribute to Wilson and Princeton University.

H. O. Murfee’s plan for an “Eton of the South” came to a halt with the outbreak of World War I. The military aspect of the Institute was again emphasized and a ROTC program was established in 1916, paving the way for the Early Commissioning and Service Academy Prep programs.

Under H. O. Murfee’s leadership, Institute graduates were highly sought by some of the best colleges and universities in the country. Here is a 1903 letter from J. M. Page of the University of Virginia citing Marion Military Institute’s beneficial military training!

Here is a long letter (1909) from H. O. Murfee to President William Howard Taft in the White House requesting that Taft join the new Board of Directors of Marion Institute. (Murfee wanted to change the name to Marion College - like Eton College, the famous English public school - and Marion College would also be a school rather than a college).

A copy of President Taft’s acceptence letter to Murfee.

Finally, here is a copy of a letter (1909) from H. O. Murfee to Woodrow Wilson as president of Princeton University. Murfee is looking for another Princeton man to teach the sciences at Marion. Salary, by the way, was $1,000 plus room and board!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

Called the “First Lady of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” Coretta Scott King was the wife of The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., an author, singer, former president of the King Center in Atlanta, and a champion of human and civil rights causes worldwide. She received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Gandhi Peace Prize. Coretta also had roots deep in Marion and Perry County where she was born and grew up.

The daughter of Obediah and Bernice Scott (she was one of three children), Coretta grew up in this Perry County home on Highway 29 some nine miles from Marion. She was also married here on June 18, 1953, to The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., of Atlanta. The wedding took place on the lawn (garden) with King’s father, Daddy King, officiating.

A farmer and business man, Obie Scott and his wife, Bernice, also ran Scott’s Grocery next to the family home.

For the first six grades of her education, Coretta attended the Crossroads School (Cross Road School, 1896 – 1969) near the Mt. Nebo A.M.E. Zion Church in North Perry County. A one-room frame building with a wood-burning stove, two teachers taught all six grades. Coretta joined her siblings and others in walking to and from the school, a distance of four to five miles each way! One of Coretta’s early memories regarding injustice was seeing that the white kids rode on the bus to Marion for their schooling, while the Black children had to walk for miles to their little school.

All that remains of the Crossroads School (Cross Road School) is some steps, the well, and the old Outhouse!

The Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Zion Church, located next to the Scott home, was also the church home for Coretta and her family. The wonderful memorial to Coretta, “The First Lady of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” was dedicated in 2007.

The graves of Obie and Bernice Scott, Coretta’s parents.

After six years at the little Crossroads School, Coretta (and her siblings) attended the Lincoln School in Marion where she graduated valedictorian in the Class of 1945. Coretta later graduated from Antioch College in Ohio and from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she met Dr. King. Since the Lincoln School is much more familiar to the MMI community, I decided to concentrate on the lesser known sites such as Coretta’s girlhood home, her church, and her very first school – all in Perry County.

Note: Coretta’s biography and other sources refer to the Crossroads School rather than the Cross Road School. I decided to use both titles in this blog. I also experimented with black and white film for better definition, but the film processing was less than adequate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

History Dudes Loose in the Woods

On Sunday afternoon, 6 January, Travis Vaughn, MMI faculty member, and I ventured into the wilds of Hale County (travelling down logging roads during deer hunting season!) to locate the site of the famed Green Springs School, Dr. Henry Tutwiler’s private boarding academy from 1847 until his death in 1884. Called the “Rugby of the South,” the school was so popular in Alabama and throughout the South that students had to apply for the few openings a year in advance. Located in the middle of nowhere then as now, the school was three miles (as the crow flies) from Havana and six miles from the nearest railroad depot (Tutwiler didn’t want any distractions for his pupils)! Enrollment was usually around 75 and included some day female students including Tutwiler’s own daughters. Julia Tutwiler also taught at Green Springs.

Travis Vaughn at the marker site of the Green Springs School. His mapping skills, truck, and intuition got us there! Directions from some partying deer hunters led us eventually to the marker site.

The massive granite stone marking the site of the school which was placed by the Hale County Historical Society in 1947. A state historical marker was also placed out on Highway 60 (two miles away) but it has been missing for years.

A handmade brick from the school site.

The large marker denoting that Henry and Julia Tutwiler are buried in the cemetery of the Havana United Methodist Church.

The church today. The cemetery is adjacent.

The stone marking Julia Tutwiler’s grave. Her parents are buried behind her.

The graves of Henry and Julia Ashe Tutwiler, owners of the Green Springs School. Following their deaths, their daughter, Julia, inherited the school property. A tornado and later a devastating fire swept Green Springs away.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Of Woodys and Tutwilers

An original U. S. District Court (Middle District of Alabama) Bankruptcy document dated May 25, 1843, naming Edwin W. King, Lauren Upson and James R. Upson.

Edwin Woody King is not to be confused with General Edwin D. King, a founder and early supporter of Judson College, Howard College, and the Siloam Baptist Church in Marion. Edwin Woody King, who inherited his father’s cotton plantations, was one of the wealthiest men in Alabama, a principal in the Marion and Cahawba Railroad, and the owner of a successful hotel in Marion. The bankruptcy document, found in Ms. Woody’s papers, is a question mark.

Ms. Woody Sturdivant Moore talking with Governor Albert P. Brewer of Alabama.

The Cape Cod-style house where Ms. Woody Sturdivant Moore was born in 1917 and where she died in 2007. Both events took place in the same bedroom.

"Alabama," our state song written by Julia Strudwick Tutwiler, a member of the Alabama Hall of Honor and the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame at Judson College.

On Wednesday, 20 December, Archivist Terry Barkley visited the Hoole Special Collections Library at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He went there to do research on Henry and Julia Tutwiler and their relationship to Marion and possibly Howard College (MMI). Terry also researched the famed Greene Springs School near Havana, AL, Henry Tutwiler’s private school for nearly forty years from the 1840s until his death in the 1880s. Greene Springs was the most famous school in Alabama both before, during, and after the Civil War, closing with Henry Tutwiler’s death.

A graduate of the University of Virginia where he received the very first M.A. degree, Henry Tutwiler was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and a frequent visitor to Monticello. His classmates at UVA included Robert Toombs of Georgia and Edgar Allan Poe. Tutwiler was hired as one of the very first professors at the University of Alabama. Later, he taught in the late 1830s at the Alabama Institute of Literature and Industry in Marion (one source cites “near” Marion; it was also called Marion College), “a forerunner to Howard College.” Other sources state that the Institute was closer to or actually in Greensboro! Professor Tutwiler then served on the faculty of LaGrange College in North Alabama (it was a military college and, like the University of Alabama, was burned by the Federals during the Civil War). Finally, in the 1840s, Henry Tutwiler founded his Greene Springs School, an institution which produced some of Alabama’s ablest leaders. Some 60 alumni of Greene Springs died serving the Confederacy.

Julia Strudwick Tutwiler was Henry’s daughter, one of eleven children. A great women’s educator and reformer, she was called the “Mother of Coeducation in Alabama.” She forced the entrance of women into the University of Alabama and received the first honorary doctorate ever awarded a woman by UA. After stepping down as president of Livingston (now the University of West Alabama), Julia Tutwiler lived with her brother here in Marion for a couple of years. It is yet to be determined if her brother was connected with Judson or Howard (MMI) and if Julia became associated in any way with either.