Monday, August 23, 2010

MMI in the early 1890s

Here are five images of Marion Military Institute in the early 1890s. All images are from the MMI Archives, the two of the campus taken from the 1892 MMI catalogue.

The MMI campus c. 1892: (L-R) South Barracks, The Chapel, North Barracks (burned in the 1940s), and the Dining Hall.

The MMI Cadet Battalion (looking rather Confederate) drawn up in front of The Chapel c. 1892. Note the flag atop The Chapel.

Members of the Franklin Literary Society at MMI c. 1891. Their counterpart on campus was the Jefferson Literary Society. Each society had a special room in the wings of The Chapel.

This unidentified MMI Cadet had his image taken in Selma, Alabama, in 1891.

The MMI Football Team of 1894-1895.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Morgan's Raiders: A Heritage Reclaimed

Living as we do in this age of political correctness, the alumni of the Morgan’s Raiders - one of the oldest and most celebrated organizations at MMI - maintain a low profile but are very active behind the scenes in supporting both the Institute and the community.

Founded in 1947-1948 by cadets who had served in World War II and who were attending MMI on the GI Bill, this service organization was named for famed Confederate cavalry commander, General John Hunt Morgan (1825-1864), who was born in Huntsville, Alabama. Captain John Miklos is credited with founding the Morgan’s Raiders which held its first initiation on January 9, 1948.

General John Hunt Morgan, CSA (1825-1864). (Credit: MMI Archives)

The birthplace and boyhood home of General Morgan in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credit:

The first group of Morgan’s Raiders at MMI, 1947-1948. (Credit: 1948 Orange and Black, MMI Archives)

The Morgan’s Raiders goals were to advance high standards of truth, honor, and service; to work for the betterment of MMI; to strive for and maintain a high level of esprit de corps; and to provide a social group for outstanding cadets of like interests and standards.

A 1966 announcement for Morgan’s Raiders’ Day at MMI. (Credit: MMI Archives)

From the start, the Morgan’s Raiders included some of the top cadet leadership on campus, members who were also leaders in other MMI organizations. For example, over a 39 year period, 33 cadet commanders – the highest ranking cadet in the Corps of Cadets – were members of the Morgan’s Raiders. Membership was by invitation only, and included top cadets from both the high school and junior college.

The Morgan’s Raiders sponsored two of the highlight events of the annual MMI social calendar – the Christmas Military Ball in December, and the spring Old South Ball, a colorful event straight out of Gone With The Wind! The Raiders also provided the cadet sword arch for the annual Selma (AL) Pilgrimage Court lead out. On campus, among other activities, they were responsible for cleaning the US Air Force F-84F aircraft, and for painting the base for the 75mm cannon in front of the flagpole. The Morgan’s Raiders also assisted with the Alabama Military Hall of Honor, and with various service events in the wider community.

Here are four images of the annual Old South Ball at MMI – Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara would be proud! (Credit: All images, MMI Archives)

Finally, the alumni of the Morgan’s Raiders have established the John Hunt Morgan Leadership Award and Endowed Scholarship at MMI. The award recognizes and encourages cadet leadership, and the scholarship promotes the education of deserving college cadets.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Hale County Murfees

Last spring, I had the opportunity to accompany Murfee Gewin (of the Murfee Family) and John Anderson, MMI Class of 1969, to the old Murfee Family cemetery over in Hale County, Alabama. Murfee and John do an annual trek over there to spray chemicals in the cemetery and cut weeds, etc. I was just along for the ride and toting my camera.

Note: All images are courtesy of the MMI Archives.

The Murfee Family cemetery is located to the right of the road just below the tall, single tree (you can barely make out the fence). John had to cut us a path to the cemetery! The remains of the Murfee home, by the way, are totally engulfed in the woods, kudzu, and other over and under growth to the right and in front of the cemetery!

John Anderson and Murfee Gewin (background with sprayer) working in the cemetery. I’m the photographer!

Believe it or not, the remains of the Murfee house are in there!

The father of James Thomas Murfee, MMI’s founder and first president, is buried in this Hale County cemetery just off Alabama/County Route 21 not far from Havana and the site of the Green Springs School, Henry and Julia Tutwiler’s famed institution. Coming from Virginia, James Wilson Murfee (1808-1889), a long-time school teacher in Hale County, is buried next to his fourth wife, Elizabeth S. Edwards Murfee, who died in 1906. Our James T. Murfee was born to his second wife, Ann Parker Murfee.

Two images of the graves of James Wilson and Elizabeth S. Edwards Murfee in the Murfee Family cemetery in Hale County.

Finally, I have included several new images of the graves of James Thomas and Laura Owen Murfee in the Marion City Cemetery. Someone (I assume a Murfee Family member) has recently cleaned the tombstone and it is much more readable than it was.