For over a century, the Alabama Department of Archives and History has collected artifacts that tell the story of the people of Alabama. Sometimes, single items tell multiple and multifaceted stories. Ada Chitwood Jones’s sock-top quilt, made in 1934 in the Fort Payne area, is a wonderful example of how a common object can help us explore a combination of Alabamians’ collective history, creativity, and sense of community.
It's just a pine plantation now, on the two-lane to Unions Springs. No ruined hangars, no dirt runway, not even a rusting marker noting the history that took place here more than sixty years ago. Back then it was called Kennedy Field, or to those who knew it, just "the airfield." It was where many of the original Tuskegee Airmen first learned to fly, before there was a Moton Field. It was also the place where a few African-American women trained along with them. The men went on to a certain level of fame, the subject of books, a recent documentary, even a TV movie. But the women, possibly the first African-American women licensed to fly in the Deep South, have remained in relative obscurity.
It began as a military tactic, but its name has been used to christen everything from pop records to a brand of bourbon. In the words, some hear a noble independent streak. Others recognize malicious insurrection. Still others find the echoes of a significant cultural heritage. But for most of us, these are just associations, assigned after the fact. In truth, few people understand the origins of the rebel yell, and even fewer have ever heard a bona fide version of it. In fact, to most of us, the true rebel yell remains, like the nation it represented, ghostlike, an enigmatic presence that we evoke for various purposes, but that we could not reproduce with any accuracy.
Honeybees may be among the first “makers” in Alabama. They use what nature provides to build an intricate network of honeycomb cells and produce a tasty product that has many uses and is a popular sweet treat for many. And Alabama beekeepers work hard to bring this favorite sweetener to tables across the South every day.
"Another chapter has been added to Conecuh’s already unenviable criminal record, and another good citizen’s life has gone out at the hands of a heartless assassin,” mourned a front-page article in the Evergreen Courier on July 13, 1910.
The story detailed the search for the murderers of seventy-two-year-old farmer and Civil War veteran "Captain" Jesse Baldwin. On the morning of July 8, the dying planter's beaten and bloody body had been discovered lying under the branches of a peach tree located just steps from his back porch. Employee and former slave Handy McKenzie discovered Baldwin and immediately ran to Wilcox, the nearest community, for assistance. But by the time help arrived at the plantation, it was too late. The captain was dead. His skull was crushed, and his face was pocked with deep cuts.
From the Vault
Read complete classic articles and departments featured in Alabama Heritage magazine in the past 30 years of publishing. You'll find in-depth features along with quirky and fun departments that cover the people, places, and events that make our state great!