The greatest joy and responsibility a man can have

There is no doubt that God has been good to me. I have received so many blessings in my life, but none have been better or more rewarding than being a father.

With all the responsibilities a person can have today, being a parent is by far the most important in significance, and it is a responsibility that I take more

Read More

Hazel Louise Pierce Oliver

For the last few weeks, The Vagabond has been talking about Etowah Historical Society founder Mary Harrison Lister and the interesting story about her life. This week is another story that must be reported once again.

Another Gadsden’s finest and original member of the Etowah Historical Society is Hazel Oliver. Because she stays extremely active and involved in many things, no

Read More

It’s not about Obama, it’s about Alabama

There were a lot of surprises that came out of last week’s primary elections. One thing that was not a surprise was all the ads and mail pieces about Barack Obama.

It only makes sense. Republican legislators don’t want to talk about their own record. They want to make every election a referendum on Obama’s presidency.

I don’t blame them. What record

Read More

Mary Harrison Lister, Etowah Historical Society founder, Part 5 (final)

The Vagabond recently visited the state archives in Montgomery, where he discovered several photos of Etowah Historical Society founder Mary Harrison Lister. The following is a continuation of a book written by Elbert L. Watson about Mary Harrison Lister:

“Let me backtrack for a moment to September, 1961, when I spoke to the society on the life of David W. Baine,

Read More

State leaders singing a different tune

My, how the tables have turned.

Four years ago, Republican politicians in Montgomery were applauding Republican prosecutors for investigating public corruption in the bingo trials - an investigation that led to exactly zero convictions.

Now, these same Republican politicians are claiming that politics is behind the investigation into their own corruption, and that the investigation is nothing more than an attempt to

Read More

Mary Harrison Lister, founder of the Etowah Historical Society, Part 4

The Vagabond recently visited the State Archives in Montgomery, where he discovered several photos of Etowah Historical Society founder Mary Harrison Lister. The following is a continuation of a book written by Elbert L. Watson about Mary Harrison Lister:

“Another high moment for Mrs. Lister and the Historical Society occurred in the following spring, when Mr. M.M. Johnson, one of Emma

Read More

Mary Harrison Lister, founder of the Etowah Historical Society. Part III

The Vagabond recently visited the State Archives in Montgomery, where he found several photos of Etowah Historical Society founder Mary Harrison Lister. The following is a continuation of a book written by Elbert L. Watson about Mary Harrison Lister:

“We all know that the Etowah County Historical Society is here because Mary Harrison Lister was determined that such an organization should exist.

Read More

A Day of Remembrance

John 15:13 reads, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Thousands of men and women in the United States Armed Forces have not only given their life for their friends, but for all of us. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those men and women who lost their lives for

Read More

A call for action

What if Etowah County and the 4th Congressional District had the same leadership in our congressional representative as they do in South Alabama?

Last week, Congressman Bradley Byrne of Mobile made a strong public stand for construction of a bridge on Interstate 10 over the Mobile River. The congressman called the project “a national priority” and warned that inaction would endanger

Read More

Mary Harrison Lister, Etowah Historical Society Founder, Part Two

The Vagabond recently traveled to Montgomery to the state archives, where he discovered several photos Mary Harrison Lister, the founder of the Etowah Historical Society.

The following piece is a continuation of a book written by Elbert L. Watson about Mary Harrison Lister:

“My next direct contact with the society was at its Christmas gathering held at Mrs. Lister's beloved Aloha Lodge

Read More

Congratulations graduates!

I have always believed in the power and value of education. That is why I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who are graduating this month.

Whether you are finishing high school, a vocational program or a college degree, you should be proud of how hard you have worked and what you have accomplished!

Getting an education is a

Read More

Mary Harrison Lister Founder of the Etowah Historical Society, Part One

“I have thought about you folk a great deal the past week, and particularly so yesterday since that marked the day when we laid your mother to rest.

“I can understand that your Christmas season had overtones of somberness since it was during this season that she was taken away.

“Ramona and I have felt this lost as well, since Mrs. Lister

Read More

Gadsden was advanced with 1938 astronomical society

The Vagabond recently received an e-mail from David Vincent. He writes:

“My grandfather was W.H. Vincent and he lived over off of Robinson Avenue in East Gadsden. He was in a club called the Alabama Astronomical Society back in 1938. I have this old article and several old photos, some with names. I have attached photos. I have always been curious

Read More

We can’t get help if our leaders don’t ask for it

The storms that hit Etowah County and Alabama last week left a devastating impact on our community. While the EMA is still working on a damage assessment, it is already clear that in Etowah County we have suffered far more damage than the required threshold to be declared a federal disaster area.

In my opinion, if even one house or business

Read More

Powdered alcohol should be outlawed in Alabama

Earlier this month, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau briefly granted approval to a new powdered form of alcohol. A couple of weeks later, the agency withdrew its approval, saying it was given in error.

The incident brought powdered alcohol to the national media’s attention, as well as the attention of many parents and addiction experts. I believe Alabama

Read More

Jack Daniels Distillery once located in Gadsden

Known for its square bottles and black label, Jack Daniel’s is a brand of Tennessee whiskey that is among the world’s best-selling liquors.

Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was born in September 1850, although seemingly no one knows the exact date because the birth records were destroyed in a courthouse fire.

If the 1850 date is correct, he might have become a licensed

Read More

Queens of the Coosa

The Vagabond spent time in Montgomery this week pulling information out of the State of Alabama Archives with City of Altoona councilman and historian Ryan Cole.

If you have never been to the state archives, you must go!

This past February, the archives opened up a new museum called “Voices of Alabama.”

The museum was a 12-year undertaking with many

Read More

Jobs should be more than just a campaign slogan

“Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.”

It’s an election year, and you have probably seen that campaign slogan on billboards and yard signs all across the state. But are we really creating jobs here in Alabama? Or is job creation just more election year rhetoric, like the teacher pay raise?

The news seems to be mixed at best. On the one hand, economists at the

Read More

Deception, broken promises the status quo in Montgomery

Despite months of promising a pay raise for educators, it turns out that all the governor’s talk was just that - more election year rhetoric.

After four years of constant assaults on our public schools, this budget and the governor’s empty promises for a pay raise are just one more attack on education from the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery.

Gov. Robert Bentley

Read More

Watch out... there may be monsters in the Coosa!

Horror stories began to surface during the late 1950s and early ‘60s when the many dams were constructed along the Coosa and other rivers in Alabama. Stories of catfish as large as a Volkswagen have been told over and over again for more than 50 years.

While these stories have been told as true, there were stories of river monsters of

Read More

Gov. Bentley has one last chance to make things right

 Another legislative session has ended in Montgomery. And like most years, this session had its share of disappointments.

While there were some positive things that came out of this legislative session, the $400 bonus and conditional 4 percent pay raise for state employees next year, as examples, the bad outweighed the good.

Once again, legislative leaders refused to pass bills

Read More

Close, but no cigar

 We should be thankful that God does not operate like the folks in the fairs and carnivals that take your good money to play a game that is almost impossible to win.

The phrase they shout at their clientele when 99 percent of them can’t win the game is, “Close, but no cigar!”  This phrase goes back 100 years when

Read More

Etowah County has a long history

 The history of Etowah County goes back much further than most hear about.

What is now Etowah County was first a part of the State of Georgia. After the war with the Creek Indians, the portion of the county lying south and west of Big Wills Creek became a part of the Mississippi Territory and was located in Monroe County,

Read More

We need more women in state government

There is no doubt that I would not be the man I am today had it not been for the women in my life. From my mother to my wife and daughter, they have all shaped who I am. But more importantly, they have also helped shape the community we live in. I have seen in all of them a

Read More

The Owens families

Last week The Vagabond received a call from Wes Gwin, who was seeking information on where the old Owens Family Cemetery was located. It became a cemetery back in 1874.

A quick call to family member Nathan Owens revealed where the cemetery was located - off Main Street in South Gadsden near the top of a hill. The cemetery entrance is

Read More

Bentley’s idle threats have cost him and educators

One of the worst things a politician can do is make idle threats – and that is exactly what has happened with the education budget. Earlier this month, Gov. Robert Bentley announced that he would veto any budget that did not include a 2 percent pay increase for educators and increase funding for their health
Read More

Doubting God

A lifelong friend recently asked me, “What did Jesus mean when he said ‘Father, Why have you forsaken me.’ If Jesus could doubt God, surely sometimes we can too and still love him. I tell my wife of 45 years sometimes I have doubts about her. She doesn’t like it and says after 45 years
Read More

More early area settlers / The McBrayer Family

For the last few weeks, The Vagabond has been discussing some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokee Indians were removed. This area was located from around Highways 77 and 431 and all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City. The
Read More

Shame on them!

Budgets are about priorities. Whether it’s your personal budget or the state’s budgets, we find a way to pay for the things that are most important. What we have learned this year is that a pay raise for our educators and retirees is not important to the leadership in the Alabama legislature.

Just compare the budget proposed by Gov. Robert Bentley

Read More

Early Etowah Co. settlers: The Gilliland Family

For the last few weeks, The Vagabond has been discussing some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokees were removed. This area was from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.

Last week The Vagabond discussed the Engle (Ingle) family that

Read More

Let the people vote!

We are now more than two-thirds of the way through this year’s legislative session in Montgomery and, once again, our state leaders have denied the voters of Alabama the chance to vote on a statewide lottery.

This goes beyond just arguing over the merits of a state lottery. This is about democracy!

How can we trust the voters to elect us but

Read More

More early settlers - Engles (Ingles)

For the last few weeks, The Vagabond has been discussing some of the folks who settled in the area located west and north of Attalla before the Cherokee Indians were removed. This area was from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.  

Last week The Vagabond

Read More

State employees should be priority in General Fund budget

State employees play a vital role in our state’s economy and in providing critical services that we rely on. We ask a lot of our state employees and trust them with tremendous responsibility. They run the state’s Board of Nursing and the Medical Licensure Commission. They maintain our roads as well as operate our courts and the Department of Forensic

Read More

More early settlers:The Rink family

For the last few weeks, The Vagabond has been discussing some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokees were removed. This area was located from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.

Last week The Vagabond discussed the Keener family that

Read More

The dangers of a Supermajority operating in Montgomery

We’ve all heard the old saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” There’s a lot of wisdom in those words. Our founding fathers understood this concept and the necessity for and value of compromise. So when they created our government, they created it to operate within a system of checks and balances in order to avoid extremism. They also created it

Read More

Early settlers in Etowah County: The Keener Family

For the next few weeks, The Vagabond will discuss some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokee Indians were removed. This area was located from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City. 

The area once occupied the site of an Indian

Read More

The good and bad of the Dual Enrollment Bill

Expanding dual enrollment has been a goal for both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature this year. Last week, we came one step closer to achieving that goal when the members of the State House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass a bill that will increase funding for dual enrollment by $10 million.

This is a big step in the

Read More

Early area settlers Peter Avery and son Allen

For the next few weeks, The Vagabond will discuss some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokee Indians were removed. This area was located from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.

The area once occupied the site of an Indian

Read More

How and why we need to expand dual enrollment

When it comes to education, it’s not often that Alabama Democrats and Republicans agree. But one issue where we have found common ground is supporting dual enrollment for Alabama’s high school students.

Dual enrollment allows kids to get a head start on their college degrees or vocational training programs by enrolling in college courses while still in high school. The program

Read More

Richard Ratliff, Sr.

A British Tory living in the Cherokee Nation in what is now Etowah County For the next few weeks, The Vagabond will discuss some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokees were removed. This area was from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up
Read More

Actions during “Icemageddon” show why educators and state employees deserve a raise

Alabama has seen its share of weather disasters in recent years. From snow and ice storms to horrific tornados, we all have been impacted in one way or another. But these situations have also shown how we come together as a community and help one another in times of need.

Last week was no different. From the good Samaritans who opened

Read More

Richard Ratliff, Sr.- A British Tory living in the Cherokee Nation and what is now Etowah County

For the next few weeks The Vagabond will be discussing about some of the folks that settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokees were removed.

This area was from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.

This area once occupied the site of an Indian village

Read More

Medicaid problems - a symptom of Alabama’s sick economy

There is a disturbing trend happening in Alabama - the growing number of people enrolling in Medicaid and what this says about our economy and job creation.

Every year for the past five years, Medicaid’s enrollment has dramatically increased. In 2010, the state spent $307 million on Medicaid, with a significant portion of that coming from the federal stimulus money. Last

Read More

Silas Choate, early area settler

For the next few weeks, The Vagabond will discuss some of the folks that settled in the area west of Attalla before the Cherokees were removed. This area was from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road.

The town occupies the site of an Indian village that was of considerable importance during the Creek War

Read More

Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell

Hot Cheese Dip, Cheese Wafers

These are two Super Bowl favorites to add to your wonderful table of party foods. I am always "digging" through recipes and I could not believe that I found my Hot Cheese Dip! Every time I prepare this wonderful dip, I have a sweet visit with the past.

Hot Cheese Dip

8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

8

Read More

The state of our state

If you watched Gov. Robert Bentley’s State of the State Address last week or read about the budgets he has proposed, then, like me, you are probably both encouraged and disappointed.

I was very encouraged to see the governor so strongly support our state’s pre-k program and vocational and workforce development training. These are things that Democrats have supported for years,

Read More

Mack Commins, part two of two

The Vagabond recently received a call from State of Alabama Historic Commission archeologist Stacye Hathorn, who was going to be at the old Sixth Street Cemetery in Gadsden and asked if I would accompany her. Stacye was checking on the status of the cemetery where a cleanup had been done.

Also called the Southern Hills Cemetery, the area was a black

Read More

House Minority Leader Craig Ford’s response to the State of the State Address

I am proud to represent the people of Etowah County in the Alabama House of Representatives. On Jan. 14, I had the honor of giving the Democratic response to Gov. Bentley’s State of the State address.

We heard the governor talk about the condition of our state.

And to his credit, the governor and his administration have had to deal with some

Read More

Mack Commins - Part 1 of 2

The Vagabond recently received a call from State of Alabama Historic Commission archeologist Stacye Hathorn.

She was going to visit the old Sixth Street Cemetery in Gadsden and asked if I would come along. Stacye was checking on the status of the cemetery where a cleanup had been done.

Also called the Southern Hills Cemetery, Sixth Street Cemetery was a black cemetery

Read More

Abandoning public education is not the answer

Most of us would agree that every child in Alabama deserves a quality education. That is why we have a public education system. Most families cannot afford a private school, so without public schools their children would not have a chance to get an education.

It is also true that some of our public schools are struggling to keep up with

Read More

Very early settlers of Etowah County, Part 2

One of the largest families represented in early Etowah County is the Whitt family. The first of this name to come to the area was William Whitt, born in circa 1775, and his wife Feroba Middleton, born in 1786.

William’s father was Shadrack Whitt, born in 1741 and married to Mary Rogers. The couple lived in Virginia. Shadrack served with Gen.

Read More

Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup, Mexican Cornbread

On cold winter nights, this vegetable soup is a family favorite. January is the perfect month for soup and chili.

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup

3 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (save the broth)

12 ounces frozen butter peas

12 ounces frozen crow-der peas

6 red Idaho potatoes, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

Read More

Let the people vote

The two most important issues that the state of Alabama will be facing in 2014 are education and job creation. These two issues are usually tied together because education is so critical to getting a good job, as well as recruiting and growing business.

But education and job creation are also connected to two other important issues: gaming and a statewide

Read More

Very early settlers of Etowah County, part one of two

One of the largest families represented in early Etowah County was the Whitt family. The first of this name to come to the area was William Whitt, born in circa 1775, and his wife Feroba Middleton, born in 1786.

William’s father was Shadrack Whitt, born in 1741 and married to Mary Rogers. The couple lived in Virginia. Shadrack served with Washington’s

Read More

Old Stone Fort, Tenn. and its connection with Gadsden

This week the Vagabond is in Manchester, Tenn., for Christmas to see family and decided to go by the Stone Fort Archaelogical Park.

Believe or not there is a connection between Stone Fort Archaelogical Park and a shelter hole on the side of the Noccalula Falls gorge wall.

This deep hole afforded protection from anyone. All a person had to do was

Read More

The Reason for the Season

Christmas is a special time of year for so many reasons.

Most importantly, it is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is truly the reason for the season, and every day I am grateful for the miracle of His birth and the salvation that He has given us.

Christmas is also

Read More

The Accountability Act continues to fail

What would you do if you had $40 million to spend on education? Would you spend it on classroom supplies like textbooks and computers? Would you improve school security by hiring resource officers? Would you invest in academic programs like the Alabama Math, Science Technology Initiative (AMSTI), the Alabama Reading Initiative or the state’s pre-k program?

This year, every public school

Read More

Keeping Gov. Bentley’s promise for a vote on a statewide lottery

with State Rep. Craig Ford I have always believed in letting the people of Alabama decide the fate of gambling and whether we should have a state lottery to help fund education. You can never go wrong when you trust the voters and let the people settle these kinds of issues. And though we sometimes
Read More

Gadsden: the original City of Champions - with copyright

Gadsden has been known as the City of Champions for many years. But do you know that other cities also share the name? The only different is that Gadsden was the first to have it trademarked. Some of the others are: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: so named for the city’s response to the tornado of July
Read More

Trusting one another

Recently, an organization named General Social Survey (GSS) released information pertaining to a national poll revealing a change in our societal interaction in America. The GSS mission is defined in the following statement: “The General Social Survey (GSS) conducts basic scientific research on the structure and development of American society with a data-collection program designed
Read More

Getting Alabama’s economy off life support

Next year is an election year, and one of the topics you will hear the most about is jobs.

You don’t have to be a politician or a pollster to know that jobs are the number one issue on most voters’ minds - and with good reason!

For the past five years, our economy has been limping along, struggling to create jobs.

Read More

History of Noccalula’s Christmas Lighting

In 2007, the City of Gadsden took over the Noccalula Falls Christmas lighting. The work for the last few years has been very impressive and city employees under Parks and Recreation Director Kerry Payne have done outstanding work.

Attempts in the past for making the mountain a special place have come and gone. Back in the 1980s, local historian Joe Barnes

Read More

Historical items in downtown Gadsden

  The Vagabond is back with two little-known historical items of national interest in downtown Gadsden.

The old Post Office building, now known as the Federal Building, is located at the southwest corner of Broad and Sixth streets. The building was designed by a famous national architect and contains a very rare work of art by a national painter.

During

Read More

Pondering life with Pious Bob

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, but shouldn’t we continue to be thankful for the blessings of this life?  We say there are lots of things in life that we’re not thankful for, but should that stop us from being thankful?  I once worked for a man who had a saying something like this: ‘Work is being in a

Read More

A time to be thankful

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. I love it for many reasons.

It’s a time of year to be with family, and of course, there is always so much good food. But I also love Thanksgiving because I think it is important that we take some time out of the year to think about all the blessings that

Read More

The 2014 legislative session should not be wasted

In two months, the state legislature will reconvene for the final time before the next election cycle. State leaders have announced that this session will move faster than normal. 

That is to be expected in an election year. Legislators want to finish business before the primary elections get underway.

A faster legislative session is also good for the taxpayers. The fewer trips

Read More

The Green Valley Cave and old Charlie Cline

Last week, an article was written in this space about a cave and silver mine located in the Country Club Hills area in Gadsden. The Vagabond recently got to thinking about the nearby Green Valley Cave. Also known as Indian Springs Cave, the cave is part of several caves found along the mountains running pa-rallel to the Etowah/Calhoun County line

Read More

Recognizing the costs of freedom

We are very good in this country of remembering our veterans and celebrating our freedom.

Every year, we devote three holidays to our country and those who have served in the military: Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

As a veteran, I am proud and grateful that our country honors it’s veterans. But sometimes I wonder if our country truly understands

Read More

Silver mine in the Country Club Hills area

When many people think of the natural beauty of Alabama, their minds’ eye imagines beautiful verdant forests, rivers and lakes teeming with wildlife, or perhaps a favorite white-sanded beach. However, Alabama has another tremendous natural resource - the world underground with its caves and karst systems. Karst refers to a landscape pockmarked with sinkholes, caves and underground streams.

Alabama has one

Read More

Creating jobs starts with supporting our schools

Over the past five years, Medicaid enrollment in our state has increased more than 20 percent, while at the same time the number of Alabamians on food stamps has increased over 61 percent. This means that the jobs we are creating do not come with health benefits or pay enough to feed a family.

Over the course of that same five

Read More

Fond memories of Granny

Many of us share precious memories of our grandparents and the many things we’ve done with them.

The Vagabond has been blessed in so many ways growing up with his Granny.

Granny was a part of the old ways. She lived a very simple life in middle Tennessee.

She was a tough old lady and lived to be nearly 100 years old. She

Read More

How we can create jobs again

Without a doubt, the biggest issue our state is facing is creating jobs and getting our economy back on track.

Recent reports show that our statewide unemployment rate is at 6.3 percent, which represents more than 134,000 Alabamians who can’t find a job.

We have seen thousands of jobs leave the state, while the jobs that we have been creating do not

Read More

Street Cars in the City of Gadsden

On Aug. 8, 1889, Obal Christopher, J. S. Stewart and T. W. Gilmore of Attalla filed incorporation papers for the Alabama Street Car Company with an authorized capitalization of $25,000.

On the same date, the Attalla Board of Aldermen granted the company the right to lay its tracks through the streets.

The plan was to connect with the steam dummy’s line that

Read More

Accountability Act hurting Republicans in state legislature

Ever since it was passed, the Accountability Act has been controversial and politically damaging for those who supported it. The most recent and obvious example of this was the recent special election in Montgomery.

Two weeks ago, a special election was held in Montgomery to fill a state House of Representatives seat left vacant after former Rep. Jay Love resigned to

Read More

A Haunted Organ in Gadsden: Psychic phenomenon…real or not?

The supernatural is defined as things that defy scientific explanation, such as ghosts, ghouls, goblins, wizards, druids and Stonehenge.

What we can touch, and feel is much more real to us, as humans, but what of the physical apparitions? Are they any less a reality?

So many of us, as physically unimpaired humans, rely so stringently upon the basic senses. Yet, what

Read More

Another unnecessary waste of taxpayer money

One of the most sacred things a person can trust you with is his/her money. For elected officials, this is the most important responsibility we hold. We have a duty to make sure that we are careful stewards of the taxpayers money, and that we spend your tax dollars as wisely and efficiently as possible.

But for too many politicians, this

Read More

Happenings: Things that move and make noise

Halloween is coming up and the Vagabond thought he would share some happenings posted on the Facebook group “Welcome to Haunted Etowah County.”    It is located on the Internet at:   https://www.facebook.com/

Submitted by Shelia Freeman:

I will share with you some things that have happened in our family/homes. I live in a home that was built in 1939. I moved here about

Read More

How you can help make a difference in the fight against breast cancer

 Normally, I write my editorials about political issues facing our state is facing. But sometimes it is better to use my position as an elected official to help raise awareness for worthy causes that aren’t political but need our support.
    As you may be aware, October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a time when we help raise

Read More

The Kyle Opera House

 Robert Benjamin Kyle, businessman, was born May 24, 1826, at Leakesville, Rockingham County, N.C.
    In 1845, Kyle was engaged as clerk in the dry goods store of J&J Kyle, and in 1846 was taken into co-partnership.
    He sold his interest in that business in 1850 and entered the wholesale grocery business under the firm name of Grimes, Kyle and Thornton.
  

Read More

Elected officials should pay for special elections when they resign

It’s not often that Sen. Del Marsh and I agree on political issues (take the Accountability Act, for example). But there is one issue that he and I strongly agree on, and that is the need to stop the revolving door that has become elected office.
    Since the 2010 elections, there have been 10 elected officials who have resigned. Some

Read More

Which Indian tribes resided in Etowah County?

 For several years, the Vagabond has been asked where was the Cherokee tribe and the Creek tribe in Etowah County.
    On top of that, it is heard all the times that the Creek tribe held the area south of Wills and Line Creeks. This area would include the area south of Gadsden and Attalla.
    It is amazing that there has

Read More

Raising rates the same as raising taxes

Mismanagement.

That is the only word to describe the state’s decision this week to raise insurance premiums on state employees instead of choosing to tap into the board’s reserves for next year.

It would be one thing if this were a small increase or if there were no other options. But this is not a small increase we are talking about.

Read More

Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100th Anniversary - Final

For the last few weeks the Messenger and the Vagabond have been doing a partnership with Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden steam plant. The Vagabond contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information. Leah wrote a very thick book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago  called Developed for the Service

Read More

Holding the Republican Supermajority accountable on the Accountability Act

When the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery rammed the Accountability Act through the legislature, it did so without any idea as to how much it would cost.

So when the supermajority wrote the education budget, it took a guess and set aside $40 million of your tax dollars (just for this year) to pay for tax credits to send kids in certain

Read More

Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100th anniverary - Part 3

For the next few weeks the Messenger and the Vagabond will be doing a partnership with Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden steam plant.

The Vagabond has contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information.

Leah wrote a very thick book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago  called Developed for the Service of

Read More

Not supporting Medicaid a disservice to taxpayers

One of the signs that our economy is still struggling to recover is the fact that over the past five years, Medicaid enrollment in Alabama has increased more than 20 percent. It means that more and more Alabamians are struggling to meet their basic needs.

Last year, 52 percent of the babies born in Alabama were born under care paid for

Read More

Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100th anniversary, Part 2

For the next few weeks, the Messenger and The Vagabond are partnering with Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden steam plant. The Vagabond has contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information. Leah wrote a comprehensive book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago called Developed for the Service of Alabama - the

Read More

How we can climb out of the recession

 This week we celebrated Labor Day, a time to recognize and honor the contributions made by working and middle class families to our nation’s economy.
    But for many families, Labor Day is just a reminder that they are unemployed or cannot find a job that comes with quality pay and benefits.
    Job creation and economic growth are among the most

Read More

Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100-year anniverary, Part 1

For the next few weeks the Messenger and The Vagabond will partner with the Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the company’s Gadsden steam plant.
    The Vagabond contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information.
    Leah wrote a very thick book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago called Developed for the Service of

Read More

Is the Accountability Act helping our children?

As the new school year has begun, the Accountability Act has once again made its way into the headlines of newspapers across Alabama.

The Accountability Act was sold to the public as giving families with children “trapped in a failing school” the opportunity to claim a $3,500 tax credit to send their children to a better-performing private school.

Federal law already allowed

Read More

Ferries on the Coosa River

The Vagabond remembers driving over the old Hokes Bluff Ferry years ago and got to thinking about the different ferries that used to operate in Etowah County.

The first ferryboat operated across the Coosa River in Gadsden was known as Walker Ferry, later known as the Ewing Ferry.

The landing was on the west bank of the river at the

Read More

Doing what’s best for our children’s education

Education should not be a partisan issue. We should always do what is in our children’s best interests.

I believe strongly in working with the business community to develop curriculums that prepare our children not just for a college education, but also for entering the workforce.

Last week’s announcement of the new Business Education Alliance (BEA) brings this idea to the center

Read More

Early baseball in Gadsden

The Vagabond is a member and administrator of the Facebook group, “Welcome to Gadsden.” The group has over 4,000 members and anyone is able to join.

The page includes several historical postings each day. 

If you are a Facebook member, you can find it at www.facebook.com/groups/Gadsden/

Recently, group member Robert Elton submitted the following post:

“[This is] From my old school buddy,

Read More

Time to invest in public education and stop punishing educators

I have always been a believer in the value of education. And that is why I have always fought to protect our public schools and to fund them to the level that our children deserve.

But over the past three years, state leaders in Montgomery have done a very poor job of supporting our schools. And - for no other reason

Read More

Etowah County’s first courthouse

This week the Vagabond will venture around some history books and talk about the first courthouse in Etowah County. Many people have told me that they remember the courthouse that existed through 1950. Some folks even have argued that it was the first courthouse built for the county, but little do they know!

Back when the Vagabond was attending high school,

Read More

Alabama needs leaders who will be your representative to government, not the government’s representative to you

When I was growing up, one of the most important lessons my parents taught me was to always remember who got me to where I am. Like that old saying goes, “you dance with the one that brung ya.”

As a state representative, I have tried my best to be true to that principle. So when I vote in the state

Read More

Gadsden’s Tunnel Block

This week the Vagabond visits the greatest eyesore Gadsden ever had.

Called the “Tunnel Block,” the area consisted of a group of about six or eight frame storehouses built over a creek on the north side of Broad Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. This was way back in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

A young friend of the Vagabond recently told

Read More

Along the lower Black Creek Trail

This week the Vagabond goes down the Black Creek for an adventure. The sites he passes by include the old Clayton’s gristmill, coal mines and nearby Sulphur Springs. These locations can be reached by the new Black Creek Trail that extends from the back of the Noccalula Falls campground to the Tuscaloosa Avenue/Black Creek Bridge near the Etowah County Rescue

Read More

Bi-partisan support for education reform begins with AMSTI

I was very glad to see Gov. Bentley come out this week in support of the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, more commonly known as the AMSTI program.

This program is something that Democrats have long been in support of, and I am glad to see Gov. Bentley and other Republicans joining with us Democrats in supporting AMSTI.

It is obvious

Read More

Company 167 Infantry, Gadsden Part Four

This week the Vagabond continues a little-known history of the local Gadsden Alabama 167th Infantry known as the Rainbow Division, a unit that Rainbow Drive and Rainbow City were named after.

Robert Elton, Carey Forrest “Bill” Elton’s son, donated a yearbook and the crest of the 1938 Alabama 167th Infantry to the Etowah Historical Society.

Next week a new Vagabond

Read More