The Vagabond – Chavez the Giant visits Gadsden

June 26, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover One of the funniest things to happen in Gadsden during the 1890s was the purchase of a “dead man” by four of the leading farmers of Etowah County after having reached a decision to go into the show business. It was no fun for the farmers and even less fun to put
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The Vagabond - Gadsden’s Architect was from Scotland

June 19, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Gadsden’s very first architect was W. H. Willett, who located here around 1887. One of his big jobs was the new Episcopal Church in West Gadsden, which, it was claimed, took on the aspect of an English cathedral. That was quite natural, for Mr. Willett came from England where he attained distinction
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The Vagabond - Local illuminated highway was first of its kind in South

June 12, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover In 1939, a tourist passing through Gadsden on his way home to Kentucky from a brief stay in Florida wanted to know if the locals really appreciated the wonderful white way of the Gadsden-Atalla Boulevard, for he said that it was the longest and most beautiful he had ever seen. The passerby
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The Vagabond - A history of streetlights in Gadsden, Part I

June 5, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover  In the beginning of the 20th century, gas lamps were being used as streetlights. Architects realized that the safer electric light bulb had enormous advertising potential. As early as 1910, streetlights dazzled visitors around the U.S. This type of street soon became known as a White Way, defined as “a brilliantly lighted
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The Vagabond - Etowah Rifles and the July 4th fire of 1883

May 29, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond often is asked about the big fire Gadsden experienced on July 4, 1883. This question always leads to a discussion of the many curious things seen on that memorable day. Gadsden had advertised a great holiday celebration and offered numerous attractions, which drew a very large crowd. Col. W.H. Denson
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The Vagabond - The old Rossiere Garden/Skyline Club in Rainbow City

May 29, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Gadsden attorney Gregory Cusimano recently posted a photo on the “Welcome to Gadsden & Etowah County” Facebook page. The photo included many people from the mid-1930s in front of a building called the Rossiere Garden, or an Italian beer club. It was built on Rainbow Drive near Highway 77 by Cusimano’s uncle
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The Vagabond - from Greece to Gadsden: story of the Likos family

May 15, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Part III Many people in Etowah County do not realize that many of the hard-working citizens of the area were from other countries. Two of those early citizens were Greek emigrants George and Domina Likos. The Vagabond recently spoke to a former classmate, Tina Likos Wilson, the couple’s granddaughter. Tina’s aunt put
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The Vagabond - The Likos family: from Greece to Gadsden

May 15, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Part II Many people in Etowah County do not realize that many of the hard-working citizens of the area were from other countries. Two of those early citizens were Greek emigrants George and Domina Likos. The Vagabond recently spoke to a former classmate, Tina Likos Wilson, the couple’s granddaughter. Tina’s aunt put
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The Vagabond - story of the Likos family

May 1, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Part I Many people in Etowah County do not realize that many of the hard-working citizens of the area were from other countries. Two of those early citizens were George and Domina Likos. The Vagabond recently spoke to a former classmate of his, Tina Likos Wilson, on her grandparents, who came from
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The Vagabond - the lost art of blacksmithing

April 24, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover You don’t find any old-time village blacksmith shops that used to dot the local landscape. Back in the 1870s and 1880s, Gadsden had several such businesses located close to the county courthouse. William Christopher operated a blacksmith shop at the southwest corner of Chestnut and Fourth streets. Christopher raised a large family,
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The Vagabond - local egg tales

April 17, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover During Easter last week, The Vagabond recalled how he went eggs hunting as a youth. Few people in this area realize how much trouble it was years ago just to obtain or sell eggs, much less decorating them. Back in the day, eggs were collected and marketed in a primitive way. There
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The Vagabond - Alabama Power saved steel plant, helped bring Goodyear to Gadsden

April 10, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Last week, The Vagabond discussed the Alabama Steel and Wire Company. This week, we add more to it and discuss how the Alabama Power Company helped bring the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to the area. Gadsden owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Alabama Power. But for the company’s financial and
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The Vagabond - John Coffee’s adventures in Attalla

March 16, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Last week the Vagabond wrote about Davey Crockett passing through the Attalla area. This week, another famous man, John Coffee also came through the same area. On Oct. 4, 1815, Coffee (pictured at right) was appointed by U.S. President James Madison to survey the boundaries created by the Treaty of Fort Jackson,
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The Vagabond - The finals hours of Bob Barton

February 28, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Last week, The Vagabond talked about Robert “Bob” Barton and his famous blind tiger located in downtown Gadsden. Barton was believed to have been born 1843 in Ireland. He operated the first sea food restaurant here in Gadsden and was the first to bring in oysters to this area. Old Bob, as
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The Vagabond - Old Bob Barton Gadsden’s Blind Tiger King

February 21, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover Robert “Bob” Barton was believed to have been born during 1843 in Ireland. He operated the first sea food restaurant in Gadsden and was the first to bring in oysters. Old Bob, as he was sometimes known, was the all-time blind tiger king of Gadsden and Etowah County. Barton struck it lucky
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The Vagabond - Nationally known bike racer from Attalla

February 14, 2020 chris
By Danny Crownover During October of 1893, Etowah County residents enjoyed some fine bicycle racing at the fairgrounds in East Gadsden. The one-day meet was the beginning for Ben Stowers, who became a nationally known bicycle racer professional. Stowers won the half flying start and the five-mile lap race in the event. Gadsden competitors won
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The Vagabond - Masonic goat and meteorite in 1880s Gadsden

February 10, 2020 chris
In April of 1893, a large billy goat, which was closely shaved all over with the letter ‘G’ and a square and a compass painted on each side in a vivid red color, began roaming the streets of Gadsden and soon became a familiar sight in the city. The animal apparently felt at home anywhere
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The Vagabond  - Mystery of Mr. Puck in downtown Gadsden

December 13, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover In the late 1870s and early 1880s, one of the most colorful figures of Gadsden was Mr. Puck. Where he came from, nobody knew. He was a complete mystery. Mr. Puck stood daily on the front doorstep of the John S. Paden store on the north side of Broad street between Court
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The Vagabond: First great fire in downtown Gadsden

December 6, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond recently wrote about the big fire of July 4, 1883, that occurred at the south end of Broad Street from 3rd Street to almost 5th Street. The Kyle Opera House, a three-story brick building, prevented the fire from reaching 5th Street. It was the largest fire Gadsden ever had. What
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The Vagabond: The South’s first J.C. Penny

November 27, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond recently was walking at the northwest corner of Broad and Third streets in downtown Gadsden. He noticed lettering on the store window that said it was the store was Meeks Building, built in 1879. The Vagabond was puzzled, as the style and materials of the building was not of that
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The Vagabond - The old Pulltight community

November 15, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover There has always been gambling in Gadsden and probably always will be, as long as human nature remains what it is. The first prohibition law forced upon Gadsden and Etowah County by a legislative act and without vote of the people was back in 1882. Some of the results that followed included
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The Vagabond: Remembering local parks

October 25, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The purchase of Noccalula Falls and its surrounding 169-acre tract in 1946 by the City of Gadsden for park purposes recalls the fact that the city has smaller parks that contain much historical interest. On the west brow of Lookout Mountain, less than a mile from Noccalula Falls, is Sequoia Park, a
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The Vagabond - The Tunnel Block and the 1907 fires

October 11, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The Tunnel Block was an old deep drainage ditch that crossed Broad Street in downtown Gadsden and has since been built up and covered. Today, there are tunnels hidden underground where the tunnel once went. Many of the downtown buildings have huge basements at the site. The early buildings built in 1868
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The Vagabond - Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley in Gadsden

September 27, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond recently started researching a historic building located at 408 Broad Street for owner Michelle Head. This 1885 building was occupied by Cottle Drugs in 1901. It was found that Cottle Drugs was actually involved in getting the famous William Frederick Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, and Annie Oakley to Gadsden. In
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The Vagabond - History of the 1784 Indian Massacre in Rainbow City , Part III

September 20, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Through the years, many people asked The Vagabond about how the late Jerry Jones, a former Etowah County Tax Assessor, first became interested in genealogy and history. His ancestor Edmond Jones had survived an Indian massacre in what is now Rainbow City, and Jerry was trying to find out which Indians did
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The Vagabond - Oldest church in Etowah County

September 13, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Through the years many people have asked the Vagabond about how the late Jerry Jones, former Etowah County Tax Assessor, first became interested in genealogy and history. We continue the story from last week. Jerry Jones will never forget the story of the Indian massacres, and when he was grown, he began
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The Vagabond: 1784 Indian massacre in Rainbow City

September 6, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Through the years, many people ask The Vagabond about how the late Jerry Jones, a former Etowah County Tax Accessor, first became interested in genealogy and history. Several years ago, Jerry sent The Vagabond an article. When Jerry was eight years old, he went with his family to Old Harmony Cemetery in
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The Vagabond - A brief history of Camp Sibert

September 3, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Sometime back, The Vagabond came across an article written by Joe Robertson and P. Wayne Findley containing a lot of information about Camp Sibert. It reads: “Occasionally, people in Etowah and St. Clair counties stumble across artifacts, not of lost civilizations, not of the dark past clouded in the distance by centuries,
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The Vagabond: Remembering Stam’s Candy Shop

July 26, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Years ago, The Vagabond grew up with a friend in the local school system. We both went to Striplin Elementary School, Disque Junior High School and Gadsden High School. The friend’s name was John Stam. As a young teenager, John had a job as a local newspaper carrier and often was seen
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The Vagabond - The fate of Parson Blackburn’s whiskey

July 12, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond reported in a past column about a Chickasaw Indian village once located south of Big Wills Creek around Rainbow Drive near the entrance to Whorton Bend. The village was called Natchez Village. Around the 1750s, the Principal Chickasaw Chief Chinnaby brought his people to that location. They originally were Natchez
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