Mrs. Helen Caldwell, age 90, a former student of the one room school, demonstrates the making of a pine straw basket. Mrs. Caldwell's grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Howell gave the land to build the 1902 Semmes School and a church.
It is interesting to note that when the children are told it is time to time travel back to the current school year there are cries of no, I want to stay!
Field Trips are by appointment! New Volunteers are welcome! We are an all volunteer organization!
Semmes Heritage Day is an Alabama 200 Bicentennial celebration- 2017 Exploring our Places! Old FASHION Family Fun Day!
Timber was moved out of the woods on Oxen drawn wagons to the Dummy Railroad. My husband's grandfather, Frank Byrd, had a pair of oxen he named Kit & Kate that were used to haul timber out of the woods.
Howells Ferry Road was named for the Howell Family who bought and homesteaded land, and the ferry that crossed Big Creek, This is believed to be a photo from of the ferry crossing of Big Creek, Photo Copy furnished by Rita Durant & Adele Waltman.
Big Creek later became Big Creek Lake which supplies water to Mobile.
According to the Bureau of Land Management Records, Benjamin Howell and his son Thomas Jefferson Howell purchased and homesteaded land in Albritton Precinct, (Semmes).
Benjamin Howell paid cash for land in (1843) and (1845). Benjamin Homesteaded Land in (1877)and (1898).
Thomas J. Howell, purchased land for cash in (1860 )and (1888).Thomas homesteaded land in (1884) and (1889). ********* Please note you may go to the Bureau of Land Management for Homestead Records!
Rosetta Howell in her graduation dress from Barton Academy.
Rosetta was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Howell, and granddaughter of Benjamin Howell who were pioneers in Semmes. After completing her education in Semmes, she attended Barton Academy, boarding in Mobile during the week and coming home on the weekends.
Rosetta was a teacher at the original Allentown School. She married Robert Forney Waltman, who was born June 14, 1890 and died August 7, 1980. Their marriage had to to a kept a secret till she finished teaching the school year because a woman could not be married and teach. Photo furnished by granddaughter, Lois Prine.
Even before there were towns it was necessary to establish a way of communication. Congress was given the power to establish post offices and post roads. Until post offices were established in rural areas, a line of posts was set up along a designated road. Moffett Rd known today as US 98 was a designated road Dependable deputies were appointed to be accountable for carrying the mail. James McCrary, a pioneer of Semmes, received mail at the 15 mile post.
Trains brought changes!
By the 1900's Semmes had two trains a day, One train in the morning and one in the afternoon. The Mail came by train. The center of the town moved close to the train station. There was a grocery market( McCrary’s store ), Post Office , the Funk Hotel and the 1902 Semmes School.
Trains brought train stations and the development of towns. Timber and timber production became big business. Men harvested the timber using ox carts. "Dummy" railroads, were set up to move the timber out of the woods to sawmills. Turpentine mills for the manufacturing of turpentine and other naval products were established. . These products were shipped by rail to Mobile where they were loaded on wooden shipped and sent all over the world.
Most dummy lines used a Shay Engine which was a steam engine with three vertical cylinders on the left side of the engine. It did well by burning waste wood.
Ran slow, but had good pulling torque. Had
a horizontal shaft which drove all the wheels at once. Steam "Jennys," steam engine driven winch cable reels were used to pull logs to the trains from local yards.
A yard arm was used to lift logs onto the flatcars. A dummy line ran from Mobile County to Waynesboro, MS. Rails were oak
lumber with only 1/4 inch steel plate on top.
Preserving our History