Athens-Limestone Public Library

Athens-Limestone Public Library

Homegrown History

Discover Athens, Alabama and Limestone County from one who has studied it and one who has lived it. Rebekah Davis, Limestone County archivist, and Limestone County native, Richard Martin, recount stories and bring in special guests to talk about the rich history of Limestone County, Alabama.

  For information, questions, or suggestions email rebekah.davis@limestonecounty-al.gov

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Episode 1: Limestone County History Introduction

Meet Rebekah Davis, Limestone County Alabama archivist, and long-time Athens, AL native, Richard Martin, as they talk about the unique history of Limestone County, Alabama. Rebekah and Richard talk about their personal connection to Limestone County and touch on topics they will be featuring on future episodes of Homegrown History.

Episode One Images


Episode 2: Trail of Tears with David Walker and Ronnie Cornelison

Discover the history of the Trail of Tears with Rebekah Davis, Limestone County archivist, and Athens, Alabama native, Richard Martin. Their guests are David Walker and Ronnie Cornelison, local experts who have studied Native Americans and the early roads they walked from Alabama to Oklahoma after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Find out how these roads were uncovered using map layering technology and where you can go to follow the Trail of Tears.

Episode Two Images


Episode 3: Early Limestone County (Part 1) with Dr. Harry Joiner

Rebekah Davis and Richard Martin talk to special guest, Dr. Harry Joiner. A historian and author of early Alabama history, Dr. Joiner tells where dinosaurs roamed in North Alabama, how the valleys were carved from mountains and rivers, and why the mussels of the Muscle Shoals were an important food source for early cave dwellers.. He also talks about early Native Americans and where to see ancient Indian mounds today.

Episode Three Images


Episode 4: Early Limestone County (Part 2) with Dr. Harry Joiner

Dr. Harry Joiner continues his talk with Richard and Rebekah on the early days of Limestone County, Alabama. Find out how Alabama went from unsettled territory to statehood, where its boundaries were carved, and why it almost became part of Mississippi. Dr. Joiner also talks about the the origin and cost of 192 acres that is now Athens, Alabama.

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Episode 5: Limestone County Wild and ‘Wooley’ Days (1818 – 1850’s)

Rebekah and Richard recount the lively early days of the Athens Square with bear fights, horse races and a jail housing pet panthers! They discuss the significance of Cottonport as a transportation hub and Wooley Springs as an early recreation and wellness resort. In telling the story of the first railroad in Limestone County, they talk about its founders and importance for early residents.

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Episode 6: Tornadoes in Dixie Alley with Kelly Kazek

April 27, 2011. 62 tornadoes struck Alabama, 7 hit Limestone County. Richard and Rebekah talk to Kelly Kazek, a local author who witnessed this tornado and has interviewed survivors of some of Alabama’s most devastating tornadoes. From families and homes upended to survivors left for dead, their stories range from heartbreaking to inspirational.

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Episode 7: Telling Tales with Doug Wells

Rebekah and Richard talk with Limestone County native and storyteller, Doug Wells. Laugh out loud as Doug and Richard recount growing up, going to town, and getting in trouble as young boys in 1940’s Limestone County. They talk about standing room only Saturday nights on the Athens Square and paint a lively picture of life in a bygone era.

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Episode 8: Homegrown HAUNTED History

Homegrown HAUNTED History – a special Halloween ghostly episode with Rebekah, Richard, and local author Shane Black. Haunted halls, glowing balls, and noises in the night with special appearances by Charles Sarver, George Houston, and Mary….Listen if you dare……


https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives/
https://www.visitathensal.com/

Episode 8 Images


Episode 9: More…Telling Tales with Doug Wells

Once again, Rebekah and Richard talk with Limestone County native and storyteller, Doug Wells. City boy (Richard) and farm boy (Doug) compare notes and remember their Athens teenage years. Listen to their stories about football rivalries, courting, and fun at the county fair while coming of age in Limestone County, Alabama in the 1950’s.


https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives/

Episode 9 Images


Episode 10: Ardmore (A Tale of Two Cities) with Ronnie Cornelison and David Walker

Straddling two states and four county lines,  Ardmore is a unique town with a storied past.  With origins dating back to the Trail of Tears and a boost from the L&N Railroad, Ardmore grew from a trading post into a thriving town.  In this episode we hear about 1930s bootlegging traffic and an incident involving the Freedom Riders during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.  Also, the murder of an Ardmore man, Kirby Cole – immortalized in song by Athens native, Aaron Sims.
https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives

https://athensdulcimerclub.wordpress.com/dulcimentaries/dulcimentary-articles/kirby-cole-1899-1921/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeJ5qJtTnGs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEjb9wLr8rI

https://athensdulcimerclub.wordpress.com

Episode 10 Images


Episode 11: Athens State University, 200 Years, with Dr. Harry Joiner

Athens State University is the oldest continuously operated institution of higher education in the Alabama state system and will celebrate its bicentennial in 2022. Surviving epidemics, wars, and economic hardship, the college has overcome adversity and grown thanks to the hard work and generosity of the people of Athens and Limestone County.  Dr. Harry Joiner, Professor Emeritus at Athens State University, discusses its history from the early days as a female academy to a modern day highly-respected university .
https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives/

Episode 11 Images


Episode 12: Historic Homes in Limestone County – Part I

Rebekah and Richard welcome Limestone County native and retired Professor of Art History, Lakin Boyd. Lakin shares his extensive research on historic homes of Limestone County. Dating back to the early 1800’s, he talks about the different architectural styles through the years as well as stories of the early residents, some of whom had a front row seat for the Civil War’s Battle of Athens. 


https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives

https://limestonecountyhistoricalsociety.org/

https://www.visitathensal.com/antebellum.html

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/

https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP

Episode 12 Images


Episode 13: Historic Homes in Limestone County – Part II

Every historic home has a story and a host of families that saw them through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Great Depression and beyond. In this episode, Rebekah once again welcomes Limestone County native and retired Professor of Art History, Lakin Boyd, for a continued talk about the houses and their residents who were pivotal players in the early days of Athens and Limestone County,

https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives
https://limestonecountyhistoricalsociety.org/
https://www.visitathensal.com/antebellum.html
https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/
https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP

Episode 13 Images


Episode 14: The Case of the Scottsboro Boys – Part I (1931-1933)

In April, 1931, an all-white, all-male jury quickly convicted the Scottsboro Boys and sentenced eight of them to death. But that was just the beginning. With the whole world watching this racially charged case, in 1933, the retrial of Haywood Patterson began in Decatur, Alabama with Judge James E. Horton of Athens, Alabama presiding. In this episode Rebekah and Richard welcome local author and African American historian, Peggy Towns, from Decatur, and Steven Brown, author and Professor of Political Science from Auburn University. They give a riveting account of the people and events that transpired both inside and outside the courtroom during this landmark case.

https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives
http://www.co.morgan.al.us/archivesindex.html
https://archives.alabama.gov 

Episode 14 Images


Episode 15: The Case of the Scottsboro Boys – Part 2 (1933 – present)

LET JUSTICE BE DONE THOUGH THE HEAVENS MAY FALL – the family motto of Judge James E. Horton was emblazoned at the top of his controversial decision in the 1933 Scottsboro Boys case to throw out the guilty verdict and order a new trial. Rebekah and Richard continue their discussion with local author and African American historian, Peggy Towns, and Steven Brown, author and Professor of Political Science from Auburn University. They recount the aftermath of this case: what happened to the Scottsboro Boys and the local Limestone County judge that courageously spoke out against the machinery of criminal justice.

https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives
http://www.co.morgan.al.us/archivesindex.html   Morgan County Archive
https://archives.alabama.gov  Alabama Department of Archives and History
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uX8dp5bYfA&t=375s  Pen Strokes of Justice Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys


Episode 16: The Civil War: Limestone County in Conflict, Part I

Rebekah and Richard host local historian of African American history, Peggy Towns, and Limestone County educator, Chris Paysinger, for a look into Athens and Limestone County during the early days of the Civil War. Originally sympathetic with the Union, find out what triggered the turning point for the city of Athens. Also learn about the United States Colored Infantry stationed at Fort Henderson as well as speculation that the famous short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” may have been inspired from the Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle right here in Limestone County.


https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives Athens Limestone County Archives
https://archives.alabama.gov  Alabama Department of Archives and History
https://www.visitathensal.com/richard-martin-trail.html Richard Martin Trail

Books referenced in the episode are available at Athens-Limestone County Public Library: 
  “Duty Driven: the plight of North Alabama’s African Americans during the Civil War” / Peggy Allen Towns
  “Let the family circle be unbroken”: the transformation of republican patriarchy, Athens, Alabama, 1818-1870 a thesis / by Christopher   Browning Paysinger
  “The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce” (includes “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”)

Episode 16 Images


Episode 17: The Civil War: Limestone County in Conflict, Part 2

Rebekah and Richard host local historian of African American history, Peggy Towns, and Limestone County educator, Chris Paysinger, for Part 2 of the Civil War and its impact on Athens and Limestone County. Taking notes from personal diaries, genealogy research, and other historical records, they localize the history of the Civil War by sharing individual stories of people (including their own ancestors) withstanding the Union occupation of Athens. One former Limestone County resident of note has ties that link to a modern day princess!

Links
https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives Athens Limestone County Archives
https://archives.alabama.gov  Alabama Department of Archives and History
https://www.visitathensal.com/richard-martin-trail.html Richard Martin Trail

Books referenced in the episode are available at Athens-Limestone County Public Library and the Limestone County Archives:
  “Duty Driven: the plight of North Alabama’s African Americans during the Civil War” / Peggy Allen Towns
  “Let the family circle be unbroken”: the transformation of republican patriarchy, Athens, Alabama, 1818-1870 a thesis / by Christopher   Browning Paysinger
  “Revolutionaries and Rebels” / by Jerry Barksdale

Episode 17 Images


Episode 18: Trinity School – Part 1

For more than a hundred years (1865 – 1970) Trinity School served Limestone County’s African American students, and its history reflects a microcosm of the African American experience. Founded by Mary Fletcher Wells to educate newly freed slaves and their children, the first classes were held only weeks after the South surrendered. The story of Trinity and the determination to keep it open through fires, hardship, and community discord is the story of dedicated educators who taught much more than academics to generations of families in Limestone County. In this episode, Rebekah and Richard talk with David Malone, 1966 Trinity High School graduate, and Charlotte Fulton, author of Holding the Fort: A History of Trinity School. 

https://limestonecounty-al.gov/departments/archives

Holding the Fort: A History of Trinity School in Athens, Alabama 1865-1870 by Charlotte Fulton
This book is available for reference at the Limestone Archives and the Athens-Limestone Public Library

Episode 18 Images