The Vagabond: Historic tax credits available for area businesses

November 17, 2017 chris
By Danny Crownover The Vagabond recently did some historical research on some downtown Gadsden buildings and noted that many businesses in that area have not taken advantage of available tax credits for our designated historic downtowns of Gadsden, Alabama City and Attalla. Are you taking full tax advantage of your historic location? It is unbelievable
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The Vagabond: An early incident with Alabama City Holy Rollers

November 17, 2017 chris
By Danny Crownover Author’s note: This article is of preserving history as it was written in the 1920s and not meant to offend anyone. “Back in 1910, the Holiness people, or Holy Rollers as they are sometimes termed were operating a most remarkable series of meetings on Kyle Avenue, which was the main road into
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The Vagabond - Remembering The Great War: Alabama and WWI

June 9, 2017 chris
By Danny Crownover The Etowah Historical Society currently is hosting a traveling exhibit commemorating the centennial anniversary of Alabama’s involvement in World War I. “Remembering the Great War: Alabama and World War I” tells the story of the war from the perspectives of Alabamians whose lives were shaped by the conflict. The free exhibit runs
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The Vagabond - Tales of Gadsden First Baptist Church

May 22, 2017 chris
The First Baptist Church of Gadsden was first a wooden structure built at the northwest corner of Broad and Fifth streets. When erected, the church was said by many members to be “out in the woods and inaccessible.” At that time, the little village of Gadsden was centered around the blocks bounded by First, Fourth,
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The Vagabond - Etowah County crime in the 1800s: Part one

February 10, 2017 chris
Think Etowah County crime is bad now? Turn back to the 1800s 1876 Terrible Tragedy – On Saturday evening last one of the saddest took place between John C. Latham and Benjamin F. Hodges, resulting in the shooting of Latham by Hodges in the bowels and from which he died at 3 o’clock Sunday morning. 
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The Vagabond - Downtown Gadsden in the old days

September 23, 2016 chris
In 1884, store displays were quite different from today. While walking down Broad Street the other day, The Vagabond got to thinking of the difference in window displays by the stores of the good old days and the present time. As a matter of fact, there were no window displays in those days. Everything was
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The Vagabond: Etowah County's role in the Civil War - Part 2

August 5, 2016 chris
Perhaps the most fatal decision of the Civil War was made in Gadsden in October of 1864, when the Army of Tennessee, commanded by the dashing Gen. John Bell Hood, encamped here for two days. Recently driven out of Atlanta, Hood zigzagged his army up through northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama in an effort to
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The Vagabond - Etowah County’s role during the Civil War: Part 1

July 8, 2016 chris
This week The Vagabond starts a series about the Civil War written by historian Betty Sue McElroy several years ago as a presentation to the Etowah Historical Society. The Vagabond talked to Betty Sue this week about her article. It was agreed that it would be worth repeating to the readers. Our Backyard, Gadsden, Ala.,
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The Vagabond: Nichols and the Dwight Manufacturing Company

July 1, 2016 chris
Recently at the Jerry B. Jones Library in the Elliott Community Center in Alabama City, a photo of Charlotte Peabody Kimball Nichols, mother of Howard Gardner Nichols, was found. Charlotte was born on April 24, 1839, in Bradford, Mass., and died on Aug. 4, 1908, in Newton, Mass. In 1870 she married John Howard Nichols.
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The Vagabond: History of Gadsden city officials, Part III

June 24, 2016 chris
This week the Vagabond continues with naming all the known mayors and officials of Gadsden through 1968. 1920 Mayor Clyde Stevenson Mayor: Clyde Stevenson President of Council: W.P. Archer Aldermen: Edwin W. Pickard and R.D. Stanfield, First Ward; I.S. Johnson and Berry Malone, Second Ward; I.M. Bensinger and B. Caldwell, Third Ward; R.W. Camp and Carl Whorton,
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The Vagabond - History of Gadsden city officials, Part II

June 17, 2016 chris
This week The Vagabond continues with naming all the known mayors and officials of Gadsden. 1899 Mayor L.L. Herzberg Mayor: L.L. Herzberg. Aldermen: J.R. Hughes, First Ward; J.H. Holcomb; Louis M. Smith; Otto Agricola; W.H. Sutton. 1901 Mayor E. Blackwood Mayor: E. Blackwood. Aldermen: Robert L. Miller, First Ward); C.H. Ritch, Second Ward (resigned Oct., 1901, W.L.
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The Vagabond - History of Gadsden city officials

June 10, 2016 chris
Robert Kyle, First Mayor – 1867. Officials as of June 9, 1876: Mayor: J. H. Disque; Aldermen: J. S. Paden, W. C. Liddell, W. T. Golightly, Jesse Mayne and W. N. Meeks; Town Marshall: M. M. Hughes; and City Clerk: D. B. Hicks. Officials as of 1877 (Fiscal yr. March 1 to Feb. 28): Mayor:
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The Vagabond - Gadsden's Old Commissioner Government

June 3, 2016 chris
The Vagabond recently came across a rare document from the early 1930’s that is now at the Etowah Historical Society. Since the beginnings of the little town of Gadsden, there was different form of city government, what The Vagabond calls the pioneer form of governing, in which the mayor and other municipal officers was paid
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The Vagabond - Sales of Gadsden first lots - Boomtown & Depressions

May 13, 2016 chris

  Gadsden has had a few booms that helped to build the city to its present prosperous stage, although some of them appeared to have caused some damage when they collapsed.

When the town was laid off into city lots, there was a boom in real estate, which was rather interesting, at least.

One year after the first steamboat on

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The Vagabond - Gadsden almost became a ghost town… three times!

May 6, 2016 chris

Back in February of 1868, Gadsden suffered its most disastrous fire up at that time when what was called the Masonic Lodge block was entirely destroyed, along with some of the main stores of the little town. The Masonic Lodge Block was on Broad Street between Third and Fifth streets.

The blaze was discovered at 12

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The Vagabond - Local farmers became owners of “dead man”

April 29, 2016 chris

  One of the funniest things to happen in Gadsden during the so-called “Gay Nineties” (1890’s) was the purchase of a “dead man” by four of the leading farmers of Etowah County.

The local farmers were taken in by one of the slickest swindles of the day, but could not do anything but grin and bear it.

Right in the

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The Vagabond - Smallest building in Gadsden

April 22, 2016 chris

It is very unlikely that few if any Gadsden residents can locate where the smallest brick business house on Broad Street or, for that matter the smallest building in the city was located. 

Yet, it is right in the center of the downtown district.

The building was a one-story structure wedged in by what is today’s Gadsden Museum of Arts,

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The Vagabond - Power project at Noccalula Falls

April 8, 2016 chris

  When there was much discussion of hydroelectric power over the country in the 1900’s, Gadsden was talking about the Coosa River as a potential asset in that direction, but there were other plans before the public. 

In this area there was much talk of harnessing Noccalula Falls for power, first by the old water wheel method and later by

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The Vagabond - 109 Years Ago Unveiling of the Emma Sansom Statue

April 1, 2016 chris

 The Emma Sansom statue on Broad Street in Gadsden was dedicated back in 2007, and many locals celebrated the unveiling. 

This week The Vagabond once again has his nose stuck in the old history book. Sometime way back, Patsy Hanvey of Turkeytown and the late Hazel Oliver bought the dedication to my attention.

On July 4, 1907, a local

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The Vagabond - Ringling Brothers Circus first came to Gadsden in 1899

March 25, 2016 chris

  The Ringling Brothers Circus made its first appearance in Gadsden on Nov. 8, 1899. The show had been in Birmingham and Anniston and left to Chattanooga and Huntsville. Everybody had heard of the great organization that was a rival of the Barnum & Bailey show, and equally as large and imposing.

Ringling Brothers Circus was founded in the United

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The Vagabond - Stories of Blind Tigers in Etowah County

March 18, 2016 chris

Last week The Vagabond met a young lady from Huntsville, Sarah Belanger, who is writing a book about Prohibition in Northeast Alabama. The Vagabond in the past wrote about the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the little fountain that was built at the corner of Broad and First streets in front of Gadsden City Hall. There were

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The Vagabond - The story of Ernest Tubb’s first Texas Troubadours From Gadsden to Nashville, Part II

March 11, 2016 chris

  Charles Reese recently spoke to the Etowah Historical Society about his father, Vernon “Toby” Reese, a famous country star from Gadsden. Charles discussed many things about his father and shared some of the photos of him. Charles wrote a book about his father and donated one to the historical society’s library. Last week we shared some of what he

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The Vagabond - History of streetcars in the Gadsden area Part II

February 26, 2016 chris

Last week the Vagabond discussed the early streetcars in the Gadsden area, the first ones being drawn by horse and later ones by steam locomotion dummies. We continue this week to the electrified streetcars. The story continues...

As stipulated, Captain Elliott had agreed to extend a line to Noccalula Falls on Lookout Mountain. In 1891, the Hollingsworth estate granted

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The Vagabond - History of streetcars in the Gadsden area Part II

February 19, 2016 chris

Although a precise detailed history cannot be written about Gadsden’s street railway and steam dummy systems, the following tentative history has been pieced together.

Sometime during 1886, Col. R.B. Kyle and Herman Herzberg and their associates petitioned the Gadsden City Council to grant the Gadsden Land & Improvement Company a franchise to build a horse car street railroad in the

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Vagabond - Early interesting facts about Attalla and its railroad connection

February 12, 2016 chris

Part II


The story of the naming of Attalla is often incorrect, and The Vagabond would like to tell the factual history on how Attalla was named and how the city was connected with the early railroad that went from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Meridian, Miss.

We continue the story…

An early employee of the railroad remembers that the

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The Vagabond - The Old Mineral Springs Hotel

January 29, 2016 chris

This past week The Vagabond was on Lookout Mountain and recalled the old hotel that once stood overlooking the mountain.

There are a few of the old families who children remember their parent talking about the Mineral Springs Hotel. Many people who settled in this portion of Northeast Alabama in the early 1900’s recall that about the time the

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The Vagabond - History of the drinking water fountain on First & Broad streets in Gadsden

January 22, 2016 chris

Have you ever wonder about the little marble water fountain on Broad Street near the Emma Sansom statue and in front of Gadsden City Hall? 

Recently on the Welcome to Gadsden Facebook page, a photo was shown of the old fountain and folks were asking about it. The Vagabond did research and found that the fountain had a very

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The Vagabond: A. Lloyd Wagnon: Listening is love in action

January 15, 2016 chris

Former Gadsden-Etowah Tourism Board executive director Albert Lloyd Wagnon recently passed away. The Vagabond knew Lloyd for many years and often stopped by to see him at the tourism office. Lloyd was an inspiration to many as he was to The Vagabond. In his recent book Vapor Trails, he mentioned the Etowah Historical Society and what folks need to

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The Vagabond - In Memory of Hazel Louise Pierce Oliver

December 31, 2015 chris

One of Gadsden’s finest Southern ladies passed away last Saturday (Dec. 26) at the age of 100. 

Until a few months ago, no one could keep up with Hazel Oliver because she stayed extremely active and involved in so many things.

Hazel’s mind was sharp as a tack, and she gave you an answer at a moments notice. She

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The Vagabond - History of the Noccalula Falls Christmas lighting

December 24, 2015 chris

Attempts in the past for making the mountain a special place have come and gone. Back around the 1980s, local historian Joe Barnes met with many interested parties at the old Clayton’s Cafe on Noccalula Road to encourage improvements. A lot of dreams were shared. One of these dreams was to have an alpine village at Noccalula Falls and

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