Saturday, September 30, 2017

On September 23, 1810, a group of pro-American men living in Spanish West Florida attacked the Spanish Fort San Carlos in Baton Rouge and established the Republic of West Florida.
Although the Lone Star flag of the short-lived Republic of West Florida probably never flew over Dauphin Island during that republic's 74 day existence, this free and independent republic claimed Dauphin Island along with all the area between the Mississippi and Perdido rivers below the 31st parallel. U.S. President Madison's October 27, 1810 proclamation authorized the United States to ignore West Florida sovereignty and to occupy this territory in the name of the United States.
This action further added to the eventual collapse of  Spanish authority on the Gulf. An act of Congress on February 12, 1813, authorized President Madison to use both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy to expel the Spanish on Mobile Bay and to establish U.S. sovereignty. Despite their April 1813 surrender of Dauphin Island and Mobile Bay, the Spanish did not formally relinquish her claim to Dauphin Island until the 1819 signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty in which the U.S. acquired the present-day state of Florida.

The new republic comprised territory south of the 31st parallel, west of the Perdido River to the Mississippi River but north of Lake Pontchartrain. The southern boundary was the Gulf of Mexico.

Americans in the region fervently believed that West Florida rightfully belonged to the United States by the terms of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), a view shared by federal officials in the nation's capital, notably Pres. Thomas Jefferson and his successor, James Madison. Consequently, small groups of locals, some tacitly supported by federal officials, undertook efforts to subvert Spanish sovereignty in the region in the decade after the Purchase. The dispute was especially intense along the colony's western border, in the area known as Feliciana in what is now Louisiana, where as early as 1804 efforts to liberate portions of the province or even annex it to the United States took place.
In 1810, a large organized group of American sympathizers living around Baton Rouge seized the Spanish post there and established the independent "Republic of West Florida." The nascent "republic" sent commissioners to Mobile and Pensacola shortly afterward, hoping to encourage sympathizers in those communities to also rebel and send military forces against local Spanish authorities, or seize control of the entire colony. Little ultimately came of these actions, although malcontents north of Mobile did plan an insurgent expedition of their own. The small force of a few dozen men got as far as camping along the rivers north of the city but made no threat on its military command center of Fort Carlota (originally built by the French in 1723 as Fort Condé). In December of that year, rebels and Spanish authorities clashed north of Mobile on Saw Mill Creek, with reports of the incident indicating that four sympathizers and two Spaniards were killed. Seizing the opportunity presented by the upheaval, Pres. Madison quickly moved to proclaim control of that portion of West Florida in control of the rebels, stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pearl River, adding it to the U.S.-controlled Orleans Territory (the future state of Louisiana). He ordered Orleans territorial governor William C. C. Claiborne to occupy the region with his troops.
In acts passed by Congress in 1811 and 1812, the United States laid unofficial claim to the remainder of West Florida between the Pearl and Perdido Rivers, adding that section of the colony to official jurisdictions related to the Mississippi Territory (the future states of Mississippi and Alabama) and naming Mobile as the administrative center for the region. Territorial governor David Holmes even appointed government officials for the new addition. Spain viewed all of these actions as illegitimate, however, and continued to maintain a garrison in Mobile.

During the War of 1812, U.S. military forces finally moved to occupy the Mobile area by force, ostensibly to prevent the Spanish from using it to supply aid to the British. On April 12, 1813, U.S. general James Wilkinson arrived at the city with a large combined army and navy force and demanded the surrender of Fort Carlota. Severely outnumbered, its commander, Capt. Cayetano Perez, did so without firing a shot the next day. With the departure of Mobile's Spanish garrison, the United States at last formally took possession of the region between the Pearl and Perdido Rivers. The remainder of the original colony of West Florida, lying east of the Apalachicola River, later came under American control through the terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty (1819), which outlined the official cession of the entirety of Florida to the United States.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday, September 09, 2017

O.K., kinfolks, this is one screwed up obit for our Great Grandma Shepherd but here goes my take on the Dothan bunch. Of course, two of MARTHA EMMA PEACOCK SHEPHERD's (1857-1933) daughters lived in Dothan:  my Grandma Pauline (Mrs. W.Y. Register) and Miz Lula ( Mrs. J.A. Peterman~ Miz Lula was Mr. Peterman's second wife. His first wife died in 1917. His big house was right in front of First Baptist on the SE corner of Alice and W. Main. That house was built in 1908. Mr. Peterman had had a store in downtown Dothan since before 1892. Miz Lula turned the house into a boarding house and when the Depression hit, that is where Pauline's family [Will Young, Earl, Paul & Page} moved.)
Great Grandma Shepherd's surviving husband, George Milton Shepherd (1859-1951) is not mentioned in the obit and Great Grandma's name was not "Mrs. G.W. Shepard". Her name was Mrs. G.M. Shepherd. Three of Great Grandma's sisters who lived in Dothan are mentioned in the obit. We remember Aunt Shug and her old house out on the Montgomery Highway. They messed her name up in the obit. Her name was not "Mrs. J.S. Gwaltney". It was Mrs. J. L. Gwaltney (Eyolean Rebecca Peacock Gwaltney [1868-1964] ). Great Grandma Shepherd also had two other sisters living in Dothan: Mrs. A.E. Cumbie (1879-1962) and Mrs. J.C. Hardy. A.E. Cumbie had a general repair business at 206 East Main. He sold out to his brother in 1920 and moved his business over to S. St. Andrews where he specialized in making keys, picking locks and cracking safes. J.C. Hardy(1863-1947) had a farm outside of town (probably on Beulah Creek) and lived at 701 Headland Avenue. He sold cows and lumber through the want-ads in the Eagle and did a wide variety of business in Dothan. His obituary states that he was a life-long Dothan resident so his family was living there before the Civil War. Great Grandma Shepherd also had a brother, J.L. Peacock (Johnson Lee Peacock [1866-1940] ) who lived most of his life in Dothan.

Great Grandma Shepherd ~

Aunt Shug (Eyolean Rebecca Peacock Gwaltney 1868-1964)

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Today's DEVIL MAKE A THIRD afternoon project is speculation upon the name "Bass" which was used as the first name of one the two men who reflect upon the passing scene in Aven over the years in short chapters of the book called INTERLUDE.
Bascom "Bass" Wooten is a railroad brakeman and early loan customer of Buck Bannon.
"Bass" is an interesting nickname and a google search reveals that nobody's ever seemed to consider it to be short for "Bascom" other than DEVIL MAKE A THIRD'S author but I believe naming a child "Bascom" and calling him "Bass" for short would not be unusual for parents in the Civil War-Reconstruction-era Wiregrass.
Only thirty miles south of Dothan, one finds BASCOM, FLORIDA
Bascom, Faye Dunaway's hometown, is named for the Reverend Henry Bascom who engineered the move in 1845 that split the Methodist Church and created the METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH.
Bascom wrote Methodism and Slavery; with Other Matters in Controversy between the North and the South; Being a Review of the Manifesto of the Majority, in Reply to the Protest of the Minority, of the Late General Conference of the Methodist E. Church, in the Case of Bishop Andrew (1845; available free on line at Google Books).

On the Geneva side of my family, I had a Great-Great Uncle named "Henry Bascom Register"
Named after the famous Methodist, Henry Bascom Register was born only five years after the advent of Methodist-Episcopal Church, South. From surveying the local newspapers, it appears Uncle H.B. was pastoring churches in the Marianna District as early as 1896 and for about 25 years, he preached at Methodist churches around Defuniak Springs, Coffee Springs, Dothan, Daleville, Ashford and Wicksburg,,_South

I ain't done much but the DEVIL MAKE A THIRD blog recently has been updated

After Buck Bannon gets married to his teenage bride, Lota Kyle, in DEVIL MAKE A THIRD, she asks for a car and he tells her to get one and charge it to him. This sets up a hilarious episode where Lota shows up in downtown Aven in a huge car driven by a chauffeur and as the townspeople "Ooh" and "Ahh", Buck buys oranges from the Greek's (Saliba) fruit stand and begins pelting the automobile with oranges. Later at their rooms on the east end of THE HARRISON HOUSE, Lota says she understands why Buck got so mad seeing "a country girl going hog-wild with a big new automobile and a driver, playing Mrs. God because she married the richest man in town." Buck tells her they can't afford to look like "big dogs" even though they might very well be the biggest dogs in town. Lota agrees to send the car back and Buck says he'll do something nice for her. She takes him up on it and asks to go off to college. In real life, Eula Stagg went off to Brenau after Buck Baker died but all along I felt that the conservative girl's school described in DEVIL MAKE A THIRD was modeled after Brenau. from the Tuesday, May 4, 1943 DOTHAN EAGLE

Thursday, August 31, 2017

When I posted this July 25, 1922 ad from THE DOTHAN EAGLE for the Hotel Lynn Haven on Wednesday, I had no idea how crucial it would become to our understanding of all the diverse elements that went into the making of the story of DEVIL MAKE A THIRD. At a critical point in the book (Chapter 16), a few years before her death, Jeanie Bannon, Buck's Mama, decides to "tighten the reins" on her "wayward"  son. Buck has no idea what's in store for him when his Mama comes by his mayor's office in the Aven City Hall.  She tells Buck she's getting old and wants to begin breaking up the Bannon estate so Buck's younger brothers and sisters can benefit from the wealth that Buck has created by himself and with the help of the estate left to his mother by his late father. Buck balks at the idea, becomes angry and says,"I helped make 'ever dime Papa had when he died an' since then I've put 'em to work. I've made more cold-out dollars for that estate than Papa ever saw or heard of, an' I never asked for nor took a dime more'n my share. There ain't another'n in the family that could a' done it. You know that, mighty well."  Angered at her son's refusal, Jeanie demands that Buck "give me an accountin' of ever' dollar in the estate" and then threatens to sell her controlling stock in Buck's bank to Buck's former father-in -law Amos Longshore. Such a conclusion is unthinkable to Buck and he immediately begins to "creatively" look for a way out of the predicament his own Mother has promised to place upon him. About a week later, Buck visits his mother at her house on St. Simon Street (North St. Andrews) . He finds Mama sitting in her rocker using a buggy whip to prevent her ten year old grandson, Gene, from stealing bananas from the stalk Jeanie Bannon has hung in a locked closet. After resolving this conflict, Buck tells his Mama that he's already broken up the Bannon estate, made up his sisters' deeds to their property downtown and hired a surveyor to lay out the lots for their new homes. Buck then advises Jeanie to sell her bank stock soon because he'd just completed making up "the fanciest set 'o books in the state" and sold the bank HIMSELF to the dreaded Amos Longshore. Mama is flabbergasted. She claims that the McPherson blood Buck inherited from her side of the family was responsible for his Machiavellian maneuver which checkmated her. Jeanie responds by telling Buck that she wanted him to learn how good sharing the estate with his siblings would make him feel. Buck comes back with, "ME, learn it? Why in the devil don't you unlock your bananas?" So what does the Hotel Lynn Haven have to do with the fictional Bannon family's stalk of bananas locked in a closet. Well, according to my friend, Bay County historian Kenneth Redd, the man who bankrolled the Hotel Lynn Haven, MINOR COOPER KEITH, was also the man who turned the banana from an expensive exotic fruit only available to the wealthy elite into a turn-of-the-century household commodity available to all. The aging Jeanie Bannon still associated the banana with its early reputation of being a expensive luxury.  At the time of his death in 1929, not only was Minor Cooper Keith the founder of United Fruit but he was also president of THE BAY LINE and the ST. ANDREWS BAY LUMBER COMPANY. To this day, Minor Cooper Keith is known as THE BANANA KING.
I'm beginning to believe I'm being haunted by the spirit of Admiral Franklin Buchanan. The first time I went to Annapolis, I found out he started the U.S. Naval Academy and was its first commandant. The first time I went to the Washington Navy Yard, our oldest active military installation, I saw an anchor from the U.S.S. Hartford outside the museum just like the one at Ft. Gaines on D.I. and after going inside I found that the entire front portion of the museum was devoted to Admiral Buchanan's defense of Mobile Bay; then I found out that in 1861, at the time Admiral Buchanan resigned his commission from the U.S. Navy to join the Confederate Navy, he had been commandant of the Washington Naval Yard. Last year, when I visited Talbot County, Maryland, for my first day-trip there ever, I discovered the location of Admiral Buchanan's grave on the grounds of his wife's family's plantation. They only owned acres and slaves. Then yesterday, we visited Druid Hills Park and the Maryland Zoo for the first time and I discovered that this park, which is almost as old as Central Park in NYC, was originally part of Admiral Buchanan's grandfather's estate and the family cemetery is still on the grounds of the park. The Mansion House in the park was built on the location of the Buchanan family home. I don't care how serious a student you may be of the BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY, you probably don't know that if the C.S.S. Tennessee's rudder chain and smokestack had been better protected, that Confederate ship constructed in Selma, commanded by CONFEDERATE ADMIRAL FRANKLIN BUCHANAN, could have sunk every U.S. Navy ship at the Battle of Mobile Bay. It is for good reason that the Confederate version of Farragut's words at the beginning of the Battle of Mobile Bay were, "TORPEDOS?!!!!! DAMN!"

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Much of the action in the second half of DEVIL MAKE A THIRD occurs in Buck Bannon's hotel, THE HARRISON HOUSE, which he was inspired to build after seeing the FLATIRON BUILDING on a trip NYC with his Mama. Just before the opening of the hotel, Buck is confronted about naming the hotel by his new manager. Buck immediately decides to name the hotel after the manager and christens it THE HARRISON HOUSE. A large political banquet is soon held in the new hotel for Governor Thrasher and his wife. It is my belief that the inspiration for Governor Thrasher was Southeast Alabama politician Henry DeLamar Clayton, Jr. from the Saturday, January 4, 1908 DOTHAN EAGLE.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hey you DOTHAN TIGERS, old ROBERTOREG hit PAY DIRT tonight in his quest to unravel the mysteries of DEVIL MAKE A THIRD! As many of you who have followed this quest know, I identified the woman, Eula Stagg Baker Smith, who was the basis for the character of Lota Kyle, the adventurous teenage wife of DEVIL MAKE A THIRD'S protagonist, Buck Bannon. Well, tonight, I found out where Dougie Bailey got the name Lota . IT WAS HIS FIRST COUSIN'S FIRST NAME. LOTA CHEEK was Buck Baker's niece and I believe she was born in Dothan and in 1922 she was named "BOSTON'S MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL" !. Lota lived in Dothan until her mother, Nannie E. Baker Cheek (Buck Baker's sister) died in 1917.