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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The Vagabond: Local happenings in 1904

June 21, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover One of the funniest and strangest things ever to hap-pen in Gadsden occurred in 1904 just after Broad Street had been paved with high-grade white chert, which yielded great clouds of gritty dust when any sort of wind blew up. The dust had a very cutting edge like that of broken glass.
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The Vagabond - Salt pork, sow belly and Cincinnati chicken

June 7, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover It was probably a dull day in May of 1882 when a reporter for a local newspaper wrote this item: “M.D. Lowe’s two-horse team pulled 5,446 pounds of salt-pork from the depot to S.W. Riddle’s store.” At first glance, that seems to be a trivial item and not worth printing. As a
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The Vagabond - Two beaux, one belle, and a very angry father

June 3, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond recently wrote about Will I. Martin’s story of Bud Easterwood. We now we get to read the colorful story of his sister Ella. The following article was clipped from the Jan. 1, 1893 issue of The Columbus Daily Enquirer of Columbus, Georgia: “Gadsden has had a holiday week of a
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The Vagabond - Mysterious men visited Gadsden in the late 1800s

May 24, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Two mysterious men appeared in Gadsden in the mid-1890s, and for several months afterward, there was much speculation as to their origin and their purpose. During the first week of their stay, the men daily walked all over town. Many women and children began to call them the Wild Men, largely because
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The Vagabond - Willie Elbert “Bud” Easterwood

May 17, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover William Kuner recently posted an article about local historian Will I. Martin meeting his grandmother and great-grandfather. Kuner writes: “In his office of the local newspaper, Will I. Martin was introduced to Mrs. Nancy Ellen Malone of Attalla and learned that she is the daughter of the late Bud Easterwood, a noted
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The Vagabond - Legendary games took place at Ballplay

May 3, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover There was news recently about some Native American writings found in Manitou Cave in Fort Payne. The inscriptions inside the cave are evidence of the Cherokee tribe’s syllabary, which Sequoyah, also known as George Guess, developed using symbols for each sound. Sequoyah’s alphabet was formally adopted as the tribe’s official written language in
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The Vagabond - Largest circus in U.S. visited Gadsden in 1899

April 19, 2019 chris
The Ringling Brothers Circus made its first appearance in Gadsden on Nov. 8, 1899. Ringling Brothers was a rival of the Barnum & Bailey show and equally as large and imposing. The two big outfits were later combined later and still bears the name of Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. The show grounds were
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The Vagabond: A canal was planned between the Coosa and Tennessee rivers

April 12, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Back in 1869, there was an article from The Selma Times advocating a canal across Sand Mountain to connect the Tennessee and Coosa rivers. The paper’s editor said that the project would be a great boon to this part of the south and that he wished to stand on the banks of
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The Vagabond - Steamboat wars on the Coosa River

April 5, 2019 chris
By Danny “The Vagabond” Crownover The first steamboat to ply the waters of the Coosa River was appropriately named The Coosa. On July 4, 1845, that gallant little steamer, came around the bend below what is now Gadsden. Captain James Lafferty commanded the boat. Large proportions and un-heard-of-profits were said to have been derived from
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The Vagabond - Dr. Ralls and the first hospital in Etowah County

March 22, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Gadsden’s historian Will I. Martin wrote extensively about early Gadsden. The following is a sample of his work: “When the Ralls Sanatorium was opened on Sept. 1, 1906, it had only 16 beds. More important, ‘at the opening of the hospital, a chartered school of nursing was started with six entrants.’ These
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The Vagabond: What happened to the Etowah Rifles?

March 15, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover Many boys and older men who did not participate in the Civil War stayed behind and formed Home Guards. Those units did their best to defend their homes and towns. After the war ended, there was no official militia in this area but veterans of the war met periodically in associations. Individual
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The Vagabond: John W. Potter, Gadsden’s cooperationist

March 1, 2019 chris
By Danny Crownover The American Civil War remains the most significant event in Alabama’s history. Tensions that had been building for decades within the United States over the issues of slavery and states’ rights came to a head in 1860. The topic of secession was in the forefront in the State of Alabama. Gadsden was a city
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