Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama


In the summer of 2011 I convinced one of my best friends to travel to Alabama with me to look at cemeteries, libraries, and court houses.  I had to sweeten the pot by promising to see some non-genealogical attractions, so we 1) ate dinner to live music and shopped the courthouse square in Oxford, Mississippi, 2) made a pilgrimage to William Faulkner’s house, 3) visited Helen Keller’s home in Tuscumbia, 4) saw a restored Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence, 5) had a couple of quintessential Southern lunches, and 6) shopped for shoes.

Rosenbaum Home in Florence
William Faulkner's house in Oxford, MS









Helen Keller's house in Tuscumbia
Schoolhouse at Old Alabama Town











We met two of my Mansell cousins in Florence, and they took us to the cemetery at Waterloo where Elizabeth Simmons might be buried in an unmarked grave.  We visited Pope’s Tavern, an inn where Andrew Jackson stayed on his way to the Battle of New Orleans, and the Rosenbaum Home, a beautiful restored home-turned-museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Jean and Laura were the epitome of Southern hospitality. On our way out of town the next morning we finally found—after thoroughly searching the wrong cemetery—the grave of Ella Smith Beckham, the only one of Stephen’s children to stay in Alabama.

Laura, me, and Jean at
Pope's Tavern
In Montgomery we spent the morning at Old Alabama Town, an authentic 19th century village, and ate the best Southern lunch at a nearby restaurant—baked chicken, fried green tomatoes, and yummy coconut cream pie.

On that trip I also had one of the most perfect days I’ve ever had, genealogical or otherwise. 

After eating breakfast at our hotel in Montgomery, we drove to Troy in Pike County and Elba in Coffee County, two of the towns in which my Smith relatives lived.  Outside of Troy I found the graves of my great-great-grandmother Mary E. Smith and my great-grandfather’s sister Cynthia. 
Mt. Moriah Baptist Church Cemetery outside
Troy, AL
At the wonderful Troy Public Library, the librarian in charge of the genealogy section was so helpful, and in two hours I found a purchase of land by John A. Smith in 1849; Mary E. Smith and Cynthia Smith on the 1855 Alabama state census; and three marriage licenses:  of Amanda Lindsey to Melvin King, of Cynthia Lindsey to James King (Melvin’s father), and of Amanda Lindsey King to W.J. Register.  (I had begun to think that the marriages of all the Smith girls were figments of their imaginations!) 

After a morning in the library we ate wonderful chicken salad at the Byrd Drug Store on the courthouse square.  From there we drove to Elba and then on the highway on our way back to Montgomery we found a shoe mall!  A steak dinner and a swim in the hotel pool put an end to my perfect day in Alabama.

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