Forrest Cemetery “Walk Through Time” is Sunday

 On Oct. 14, from 2 - 5 p.m., the Vagabond invites you to take a step back in time to meet some of Etowah County’s most memorable residents.  You will hear their personal stories told by Gadsden’s modern day citizens clad in period dress.  Many have put this project together. Thousands of people are expected to attend this event. Admission

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How you can help fight breast cancer

 Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

  Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s an illness that can affect any woman, regardless of age, race, where they live, or their socio-economic background.

  The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012 alone, 226,870 more women will be diagnosed with new cases of

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A short history of the Hokes Bluff community

  The Vagabond has been hearing about a teacher and 90 of her 11th grade students at Hokes Bluff High School asking for folks to share old Hokes Bluff photos or stories of the past.

In 1999, Hokes Bluff High School students helped to publish a book, “The History of Hokes Bluff, Alabama and Surrounding Areas.” Since then, additional copies

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Who looks out for working families?

 In 1992, the economy was the top issue on every voter’s mind. Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign captured that sentiment when they coined the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.”   Twenty years later, it’s still the economy.   Last week, it was reported that Alabama’s unemployment rate has risen for the fourth consecutive month. From April
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The origin of Gadsden’s first public cemetery

 Most folks to day do not realize there is an original, or first, cemetery in Gadsden. The Vagabond recalls talking to the late Jerry Jones on this first graveyard.

Jerry stated that it was brought up years ago when Will I. Martin first told him about it. When questioned he took Jerry behind the old City Hall on Fifth Street (across

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How Gadsden’s first free school came to be

 In the home of Gadsden’s first pioneer, Gabriel Hughes, the first school of which we have any knowledge was started. Here his children and their young friends learned the three R’s under the instruction of one J. D. McMichael, a man of unknown background who always remained a mystery. He also served as a Sunday School teacher and became Gadsden’s

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What state should do to fix finances

 Last Tuesday (Sept. 18), the people of Alabama will have decided the fate of the constitutional amendment that would allow our state government to borrow $437 million from the state’s Trust Fund. I recently wrote about why I believe voters should vote no on the constitutional amendment. Today, I would like to offer three proposals that legislators and the governor

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John Pratt, early typewriter inventor from this area

 The Vagabond recently wrote about LaFayette Marion Stiff, who was buried standing up. Nearby is another famous person that should be known worldwide. 

Long before the ease of computers, there were typewriters.

Before that was the use of pen and ink written by hand.

However, the man who invented one of the early typewriters lies buried just north of Etowah

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Finding formula for jobs

 This week, our nation celebrates Labor Day – a day meant to honor and show appreciation to hard-working Americans throughout the country. But this year, the celebrations seem bittersweet.

For four years, our nation has struggled to climb out of this recession. Some states have been more successful than others in recruiting or keeping jobs, and until recently, Alabama appeared

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Fort Turkeytown location remains an Etowah mystery

 The site of Fort Turkeytown is clouded with the fact that research indicates that there was a council house and village established by Chief Little Turkey on Turkey Town Creek around 1789. This site was located about five miles northeast of Gadsden in Etowah County. 

The site of a later Turkey Town was again located near Pathkiller’s Ferry, but

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Coming up with a plan to support Alabama schools

 In previous columns, I have written about the mistakes I believe Republicans are making in regards to our public education system. I have also written about the need to provide competitive compensation to keep and attract the best and brightest to the education profession.

When the legislature returns to Montgomery next year, Democrats will offer a full agenda to support

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The intriguing tale of Capt. Lafayette Marion Stiff

 “Bury me standing up, facing the Coosa River, so I can see the damned steam boats go by”

  The Vagabond has known of a character from the past that once lived in Etowah County.

Capt. Lafayette Marion Stiff led a colorful life. Born in Baltimore in 1826, he was educated in the city’s public schools, then joined his father, Col. Edward

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 Along with several other adventurers from the Etowah Historical Society, the Vagabond recently traveled to Ashville to view all of the town’s historical landmarks. Here are some of the sites we visited:

Inzer House

The place known as the John W. Inzer home was built in 1852 by an early settler, Moses Dean. Dean and his wife, Eliza Hoke Dean, entered

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Legislature’s Republicans failed people of Alabama

  As Republicans like to point out, for 136 years, Alabama voters continued to re-elect Democrats to represent them in Montgomery. During those 136, Alabama’s taxes were among the lowest in the nation, yet we still balanced the budget every year without gutting our schools, or the state’s Medicaid program. Even in the Great Depression and the economic stagnation of

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To support children, give support to all personnel

 There are several factors that can influence a child’s ability to learn - economic situation, parental involvement, access to resources like modern technology and current textbooks, and classroom sizes.

But a key ingredient to child’s academic success is having good teachers and support personnel in our schools. We have all known teachers who impacted our lives or inspired us to

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Before it was a city, Attalla played role in region’s history

Incorporated as a town on February 5, 1872, by the 44th General Assembly of the Alabama Legislature. However, the city’s history actually predates its incorporation as a town.

The City of Attalla occupies the site of an Indian village that had considerable importance during the Creek War of 1813-14. The village was located along the banks of Big Wills Creek

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Printup Hotel was a model for today’s world-class hotels

  This week the Vagabond writes about the Printup Hotel building, located at Locust and Fourth streets in Gadsden.

In the early 1880’s, the block bounded by Broad, Locust, Third and Fourth streets was partly a residential section in the middle of the original survey of the town.

There were several stores, and in front of them was a brick

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“Rightsizing” is a cop-out

The new leadership in Montgomery has been quick to pat itself on the back for its performance since it took total control of our state government in 2010. 

But what has the Republican Supermajority really accomplished?

Since the Republicans took over, our state has lost thousands of jobs, many of them critical public sector jobs in education and mental

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Local mountain named after Major Alford Hardwick Colvin

The Vagabond has heard of Colvin’s Mountain in the past. Joyce Stocks, a direct descendant of the Colvin family, recently came to the Vagabond. She mentioned her family and said that there will be a Colvin family reunion on Saturday July 28, from 12 – 3 p.m. at the Carnes Recreation Center in Attalla There
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Longer summer vacation poses challenges and opportunities

Mid-July is the very heart of summer, when the temperatures are high and the cool breezes of fall seem a distant dream. 

Fall once was associated with school starting back up, though few think like that now. Over the past decade, the school start-date has crept earlier and earlier, with most schools beginning the first week of August. Most

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How The Vagabond got his name

“I had rather be a vagabond, wandering about in God’s beautiful mountains, or beside his gurgling streams and sweeping oceans, dreaming my dreams, than to be chasing the will-o-the-wisp of fame, power, achievement and money in the great marts of commerce.”  - Milford W. Howard

Some folks throughout time have asked how The Vagabond got his name. There was never

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Jobs should be our priority

For four years, our country and our state have struggled to recover from what economists are calling “The Great Recession.” It is no surprise that all the public opinion polls show the number one issue on voters’ minds is - by far - jobs and the economy.

Republican leaders in Montgomery have been claiming that Alabama is recovering and

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Ita Stocks - A famous woman of Etowah County

Ita Stocks has left her mark on the history of her time. Not just on local history, not just on state history, but on national history.

The look of the world has changed within Ita’s life span, and she has helped change it. Ita’s weapons have been a trained intellect, a crusading spirit and a compassionate heart.

Every woman

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Sequoyah invented his Cherokee alphabet in Etowah County

Just a few steps south of the Bristow Cemetery, just barely inside Etowah County from DeKalb County, is the actual site where Sequoyah first invented his syllabary or Cherokee alphabets. The old oak tree that he studied under has been gone for several years but many alive today remembers it. Many in our area do not realize that Sequoyah

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Remember what it means to be an American this Fourth of July

This week, our nation celebrates its 236th birthday. Most of us will spend the day celebrating with family and friends, barbequing and watching fireworks. But between the fireworks and cheeseburgers, it is important that we take a moment to think about what it means to be an American and pause to remember those who have fought for this country.

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Strong leadership needed for state’s economic turnaround

Ask most people and they will tell you Alabama is still in a recession. People are worried, and despite what we may hear on the national news, it certainly doesn’t feel like we’re making progress here. 

A recent report confirms what we have all been feeling.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Alabama economy was one

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Revolutionary War soldier is buried in Gadsden

The old Garner Cemetery is located in a wooded area at the northeast end of Washington Street on a rocky hillside overlooking the Coosa River in North Gadsden.

The Garner Cemetery contains the only known Revolutionary War soldier’s grave in Gadsden. His name is Joseph Garner. The cemetery was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, a

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Democrats put their values on display

The most important responsibility given to the Alabama Legislature is to write the state’s budgets each year. What a legislator fights for and how they vote on the budgets is the strongest indicator of that legislator’s values.

This year’s budgets became a war over what was more important - protecting corporate tax loopholes or protecting funding for Medicaid, schools and

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Vagabond originated Black Creek Trail idea back in 1980

The official opening of the Black Creek Trail took place last Thursday with a dedication opening at the overlook located north of Black Creek Road and near the Etowah County Rescue Squad building.

The Vagabond, who was the originator of the idea, first proposed a trail from Noccalula Falls to the Gadsden Mall back in 1980 with his Black

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Amelia Earhart visited Gadsden ... twice!

One day Joan (pronounced Jo Ann) Mims showed the Vagabond a photo of her as a baby being held under an airplane among several persons. Joan also said that one of them was Amelia Earhart. She proceeded to show me an article about the incident by Benjamin S. Bradford:

Myrtice Stanfield Brooks (the mother of Joan) bought her first

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Our veterans deserve better

On June 1, seventeen Veterans’ Affairs offices across Alabama were closed, including an essential office located in Centre.

Our legislature in Montgomery has one job above all others, and that is to write a budget every year. The Republican Supermajority that controls our legislature has the power to pass any budget it wants to without even talking to Democrats.

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Trail of Tears bicycle tour to come through Etowah County

This coming Tuesday and Wednesday, the general public is invited to join the Trail of Tears bike tour that is now winding through Alabama. It started June 2 at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon Georgia, and will end in Okmulgee, Okla. The bike tour was developed to commemorate, educate, and communicate about the Muscogee (Creek)
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Now we see the real Artur Davis

Was anybody really surprised when Artur Davis announced that he is now a Republican and considering running for office in Virginia?

For the past two years, everyone in Virginia and Alabama has watched this man’s public breakdown. But in defeat, we have seen the real Artur Davis - a man with no principles and no understanding of what it

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House Democrats still fighting (and winning) for people of Alabama

By State Rep. Craig Ford

After the 2010 elections, there were many who said the Democratic Party was dead in Alabama. But this year, Democrats in the Alabama legislature have proven that we are alive and fighting harder than ever to protect the people of Alabama.

Democrats have stepped up and provided leadership and solutions on a number of

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Mysterious snakes appeared in area on Christmas Day, 1947

By Danny "The Vagabond" Crownover

Snakes, literally a thousand of them were found on Christmas Day, 1947, ‘hung’ on two thorn trees on Clayton Road.

Large crowds gathered around the two trees to see the dead snakes, most of which were about a foot long and the same dull grey color as the branches. All the reptiles were impaled

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Our children’s education should be a priority

What if you learned that the state had a program that could improve your child’s math and science skills so much, they could be a year ahead academically by the time they graduated? The program would make it more likely they would get into college - and get scholarships. Even if your child weren’t going to college, by participating…

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Place names in Etowah County

Most of us that travel about in Etowah County see names of places and wonder how the name was chosen and for whom or what it was named. This article can only cover a few of these sites, since everywhere we go there are names, communities, towns, mountains, streams, roads, streets, avenues, voting precincts, and numerous other places to…

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Alabama families paying too much in taxes

  For the 136 years that Alabama Democrats led our state, we had the lowest taxes in the nation. Even today, Alabama collects fewer dollars in state and local taxes per person than any other place in the nation.

Yet, Alabama does not have the lowest taxes for everyone. If, for example, you work for $10 to $15 an hour,…

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First Ladies of Gadsden- Part 2

  Recently, the Vagabond went through materials in the Etowah Historical Society archive and found some important history papers never before published. As we mentioned last week, Mary Harrison Lister who founded of the 1954 historical society, wrote before her death about some of the first ladies of Gadsden, noting that all the “firsts” were
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It’s time to invest in our children’s education

  Last Saturday, thousands of educators rallied on the steps of the state capitol to send a powerful message: It is time to invest in our schools! Educators from all over Alabama came to Montgomery hoping to stop another round of drastic cuts to their classrooms. The rally came just as the state legislature is
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First Ladies of Gadsden, Part 1

The Vagabond recently went through materials in the Etowah Historical Society archive and found some important history papers never before published. Mary Harrison Lister, who founded the historical society in 1954, wrote before her death about some of the first ladies of Gadsden, noting that all the “firsts” were men. Mary herself was a “first” in many ways and

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Covenant Marriage bill an abuse of governmental authority

  A local newspaper recently conducted an online poll to see what readers think about Senator Phil Williams covenant marriage bill that makes it more difficult to get a divorce. More than 75 percent of those who voted in the poll were opposed to covenant marriages. I was not surprised to see how the citizens
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Early settlers along the bends of the Coosa River - Part Two

The Vagabond has been asked several times about writing about the bends of the Coosa River and whom they were named for. This is what has been found so far:

The Coosa River comes into Etowah County from the west and forms part of the boundary line between Etowah and Cherokee counties.  The Coosa forms a total of eleven…

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Charter schools not the answer

As a state representative, and especially as a Democrat, I am a strong believer in the value of education and the need to support our children’s schools. But I am deeply concerned about the charter school bill that has been introduced by Rep. Phil Williams and the Republican Supermajority.

While legislators should always be considering ways we can improve…

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Early settlers along the bends of the Coosa River, Part I

  The Vagabond has been asked several times about writing about the bends of the Coosa River and who they were named for. This information may be helpful for a lot of genealogists who what information of the early settlers in this area. This is what has been found so far:

The Coosa River comes into Etowah County on the…

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Democrats offer solution to fully fund PACT program

This year, we will see significant cuts to both the state General Fund budget and the Education Trust Fund budget. Education spending will especially suffer this year.

Education spending has been cut by 20 percent from what we spent just four years ago. We have not purchased new textbooks in years, and we have lost thousands of teachers and…

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The Vagabond once worked at old ice plant

In the early 1930s, six ice plants were operating in Gadsden. But with progress in refrigeration, all have gone by the wayside. When he was young, The Vagabond worked several summers at one of America’s early industries.

Ice is one of the oldest methods of refrigeration. The Chinese cut and stored it as long ago as 1000 BC. In…

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Political witchhunt backfires on Republican Supermajority

  After two years and $50 million taxpayer dollars wasted, the Alabama bingo trial has finally come to an end. This investigation was an unprecedented abuse of federal authority.

The purpose of this investigation was always about influencing the outcome of the 2010 elections. That is why no arrests or indictments were made until one month before the election.


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Mystery Civil War signs appearing all over Etowah County

This week the Vagabond wants to share a mystery to the readers. There are Civil War signs appearing all over Etowah County by a group that calls themselves the “Gadsden Civil War Roundtable. Rumors are that it is someone living in Southside that is pushing it. Of course, this has to have been done due to the 150th Anniversary…

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Back to Cherokee Rock Village

The Vagabond was recently up Cherokee Rock Village checking out all the improvements being done. There have been many campouts at this site by the Vagabond with the stars and meteors producing a big show each time.

Cherokee Rock Village is a 200-acre public park located in northeastern Alabama in Cherokee County near the town of Leesburg. Also known…

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Early history of the Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls and its 40 acres of surrounding property was first owned by Thomas McClung in 1845. It was called Black Creek Falls then and for many years after. About 1870 G.O. Baker of Dallas County came into possession of the falls and added acreage to the holdings.

In 1867 a writer for a local newspaper wrote: “Reaching underneath…

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House Democrats use common sense to help students

  Much to the chagrin of students everywhere, homework is an essential part of a good education. When students do math problems or go over a history lesson at home, homework solidifies what they learned in class.

Yet, one in five Alabama students don’t have a textbook to bring home. Many Alabama textbooks are in terrible shape because they are…

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Old book talks about early Gadsden - final part

  This article was taken out of an old book called Northern Alabama, 1888. In it is much information about Gadsden and Etowah County. Let’s finish up our story for the week. “The society of Gadsden is refined and cultivated. “The healthfulness of the place, and the beauty of its surroundings, have conspired to draw
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Old book about early Gadsden, Part 2

 By Danny Crownover This article was taken out of an old book called Northern Alabama, 1888. In it is much about Gadsden and Etowah County. Let’s continue our story for the week. “Gadsden is situated on a large plateau, 700 feet above the level of the sea, about fifty feet above the highest water, with
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Alabama Democrats ready to work with Republicans

By State Rep. Craig Ford

Since 1993, Alabama has focused its job recruiting efforts on bringing in large companies and growing the automotive industry. These efforts started with Governor Folsom and continued under Governor Siegelman. Over a period of just a few years, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai took Alabama from dead last in the number of autos built to…

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Promises are good things and must be kept

By Craig Ford We are taught from a very early age that a promise is a promise. Alabama made a promise to teachers, nurses, prison guards, sheriff deputies, child-protection workers, and others serving in the public interest that they could have a decent retirement. Seventy years ago, the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) was created
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A Brief History of Etowah County

By Danny Crownover This was taken out of an old book called Northern Alabama, 1888. In it is much about Gadsden and Etowah County. Let’s begin our story for the week. The county of Etowah is situated in the northeastern part of the State, just above the thirty-fourth parallel of north latitude, and is nearly
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