Semmes Art Guild
The Mary Ward Art Guild is an all-volunteer group that was founded in May, 2011 to promote art, and to provide an opportunity for local artists to come together with like-minded people. Warren Gatwood was the first President, Jennie Bradley Secretary and Jeanette Byrd Treasurer and Activities Coordinator.
The current President is Lori Riley, Vice President- Cynthia Oszuscik ,Secretary -Philippe Oszuscik, Treasure and Activities Coordinator- Jeanette Byrd.
The guild is named to honor Mary Ellen Ward, a teacher who lived in Wilmer beginning her teaching career at Wilmer School and teaching Science, Math and Art at Semmes High School, MGM and Faith Academy.
Mrs. Ward’s love affair of art began in 1948 when she was teaching at Wilmer School and continued throughout her life until her death in 1998. She is remembered for her love, devotion and encouragement to all her students. Often heard in her class, “Never say I can’t, but I’ll try.”
Guild Membership is open to all adults interested in all forms of art. The Monthly meeting takes place on the first Wednesday of the month, 12 o’clock at Semmes Heritage Park. The meeting is a sharing meeting beginning with a covered dish lunch and featured artist demonstration, and the sharing of works of art and projects of attendees. New members are welcome.
The guild has from its conception sponsored a free open studio class for adults at the Semmes Regional Library in the Community Room. The class is the Third Wednesday of the month at 12 noon. The motto of the group is, “if you have always wanted to paint, or just would enjoy painting with a group we have a place for you.”
Please Note! Semmes has a Public Art Gallery, located in the Semmes Regional Library, The Semmesonian, where local artist may exhibit. The volunteer Founding Curator, Mary Rodding, is a local artist.
McCrary Store- Pearson Store
Semmes First Bank
Banks were limited in pioneer days. Bartering was often the method of exchange for goods or services. Cash money was limited and often hidden or buried on the property of the early settlers.
This is evident in the fact that Federal lands were essentially given away to citizens over age twenty-one and heads of households who were willing to work to develop the land. The Homestead Act of May 20, 1862 stated the each adult head of household could receive up to 160 acres of land worth no more than $200, for a ten dollar fee.
The first bank in Semmes when it was known as Albritton Precinct was at the McCrary Store. Hoyt Pearson bought the McCrary Store and changed the name to C.K. Pearson Store. Hoyt reported that when he purchased the store, Mr. McCrary had a large cast iron safe that had small drawers in it where citizens placed money for safe keeping.
The Population Explosion has brought numerous banks to Semmes.
The Beginning of Mail Delivery
Congress was given the power to establish post offices and post roads. Prior to the establishment of post offices in rural areas a line of posts were set up along a designated Road. AL Hwy 42, known today as U.S. Hwy 98, was a designated post road and dependable deputies were appointed to carry the mail. The McCrary family received mail at the 15 mile post.
The first post office in Semmes was established in 1894 with the appointment of Drury O. McCrary as postmaster. For many years the post office was a two room wooden building near the train station.
With addition of the stucco building to the school in 1917, the old post office building became a part of the school being moved in 1919 to sit by the stucco building.
Next the post office was in a corner of the grocery store near the railroad station. The postmaster was Clausell Blackwell.
Around 1935, Mrs. Marti Roberts was appointed postmaster and the Post Office was moved to the corner of Wulff and Moffett Roads in a building that also served as a gasoline service station.
In the fall of 1945, rural mail delivery service was started in Semmes, Prior to this; mail delivery east of Semmes was through the Crichton Post Office and the northwest of Semmes from the Wilmer Post Office.
William (Bill) R. Dodd, who had just returned from W.W. II military duty in France, Germany and Austria, was appointed by Congressman Frank Boykin to be the first mail carrier.
The route required a half of day to deliver mail to approximately 200 boxes. From the Semmes Post office at the Corner of Moffett and Wulff Roads, the route went south and west the length of Wulff Road to its intersection with Howell’s Ferry Road, then reversed on Wulff Road to Snow Road south on Snow road to Howell’s Ferry, east on Howell’s Ferry to Schillinger Road to Moffett Road and east on Moffett to the Post Office.
In early 1946, Bill Dodd returned to active military Duty. He was replaced by Edward Welch who held that position until 1972.
In 1975, the Post Office was moved east to a new brick building on Moffett Road which was quickly out grown. And In 1988, the Post Office was moved to a much larger building on the southwest corner of Moffett Road and Illinois street.
Semmes Population continues to grow. According to Post Office officials in 2019 there are 11 routes and in addition to the post office boxes, serving approximately 13,000 - 15,000 patrons.
Gas Service Station corner of Wulff & Moffett Road that served as the 1935 Post Office.
Dr. Leonard T. Lane - “the Baby doctor of Country Folks.” was a native of Mobile County and a lifelong resident of Mobile County. He was the attending physician at almost every farmstead in the northwest section of Mobile County.
He began his medical practice in Wilmer Alabama in 1916. He lived on a farm in Tanner-Williams and owned other farms and timber tracts of land in Georgetown and
Mississippi until his death in 1948. He is buried in the Whistler Cemetery.
Prior to his enrollment in Mobile Medical College in 1910, Dr. Lane was a teacher in Mobile County Public Schools System for eight years.
He began his medical career when he enrolled in the Mobile Medical College in 1910. He began to practice medicine in Wilmer in 1916. With the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Army Medical Corps. and for his work in the relief of Cholera he received a metal. He was a member of the American Medical
Society, the Mobile Medical Association, a staff member of Mobile City Hospital and the Bowen Lodge #249 of Masons.
Posted in Public Pages of Ancestry. com by Debra Candy Powell, 26 October 2013.- Dr. Leonard Templeton Lane, Obit
Florence Jackson Rester -County Home Health Service Nurse
Florence Jackson Rester was born in 1882 in the Tanner-Williams Community. She married Harris R. Rester, Sr. who was born in Semmes In 1876 and they lived in Semmes until their death. They were married fifty-seven years. Ten children were born of this union.
Through the Health Board Services, Mrs. Rester received training as a County Home Service Nurse. She assisted Dr. Lane when he came to Semmes.
When no doctor was available, Mrs. Rester made home visits to the sick in the community.
She was the community midwife delivering babies and caring for the new mothers when no Doctor was available. To keep a record of these births a nurse from Mobile was sent once a month to collect information about new births and any information concerning the health of the community citizens and to make home visits when required. These new births were then recorded in the Court House.
Source-Scrapbook of Memories-Thelma R. Sheffield
Doctors and Health Care Currently Available
No longer a rural area, the demographics have changed to a thriving community of homes with a growth in population. Numerous Medical groups have set up Medical Offices to meet the demand of the population growth.
Medical Services are available for all Citizens.
The Semmes Health center-Family Health Alabama provides services for those with limited income.
Family Medical of Mobile-Semmes (Infirmary Health-Urgent Care), Providence Family Physicians,
Northcutt Dental, Dr. Bruce King, DDS, Mobile Bay Dental & Vision
With the population explosion so has the need for animal care. The following provide animal care:
Animal Care of Mobile County, Semmes Animal Hospital
TLC Veterinary Hospital
Schillinger Road Heart of Dixie Veterinary Clinic
Dr. Lynne Leonard
FIRST FIRE DEPARTMENT
Elaine and N. L.(Rat) Dearmon were the driving force behind the establishment of the town of Semmes first fire department in 1975. Rat served as Fire Chief for 35 years. When a fire call came in and Rat was not available, Elaine would rally the volunteers and drive the fire truck herself.
The fire department was composed of all volunteers. The first officers were President N.L. Dearmon, Vice President J. Billy Woodard, Treasurer Jessie Vick, Secretary Elaine Dearmon and Fire Dept. Chaplin Rev. Albert Huckaby.
The first fire station was located on Wulff Rd on land leased from the Mobile County School Board in 1976.The first fire truck was a 1948 Mack truck purchased from the Mobile Fire Department for $10.00.
The second fire station is located at Coleman Dairy and Lott Road.
By 1996 the volunteer fire department had grown to two fire stations, 30 volunteer members and seven fire trucks.
CITY OF SEMMES FIRE & RESCUE
The City of Semmes was founded May 2, 2011 and contributed money to the Semmes Volunteer Department until The City of Semmes Fire & Rescue Department was established November 3, 2016 as a paid fire department.
The City fire department provides Basic Life Support Care, Fire Prevention and Fire Suppression to the citizens of Semmes jurisdiction. Kevin Brooks is the Fire Chief with a total of 24 personnel. (2019)
The city has three Fire Stations, #1 -3751 Wulff Rd., Station # 2 -6836 Lott Rd., Station # 3 -8855 Morris Hill Rd. and a Training Center– 9010 Forest Street.
The Training Center is used for the training of local firefighters throughout Mobile County providing realistic training and instruction on fighting deadly structural fires.
The Mobile County Commission funded the three-and-a-half story fire tower out of Commissioner Connie Hudson’s District 2 education funds in partnership with the City of Semmes.
City Fire Department trucks and equipment include 3 engines, (Two brand new fire trucks were purchased by the city in 2018), (1) Reserve Engine (1)Ladder Truck (1) Tanker Pumper, (2) Brush Trucks, (2) Command Vehicles, (1) Inspector Car (1) High Water Rescue Truck, Specialized equipment include the Jaws of life, air bags, stabilizing struts, Rope Rappelling Gear, Confined Space Tripod.
In the dedication and Reopening Ceremony held on July 19, 2017, by the City of Semmes, at station # 1 the Dearmons were honored for their tireless dedication for the safety of their community, when Station #1 was named the N.L. Dearmon Station. Rat passed away April 24, 2014 and Elaine April 14, 2015.
Many changes have taken place since the beginning of public education in Semmes. The first school was a log cabin school built on the townships sixteenth section of land in 1878. Mt. Pleasant church met in this school. Semmes Elementary, Semmes Middle School, and MGM High School are located on this sixteenth section today close to where the log cabin school began.
The transition from log cabin buildings came about with the development of the timber industry in the early 1900’s. Timber was cut, and saw mills sprang up along with turpentine mills. Saw mills produced lumber making it possible for the construction of lumber buildings instead of log buildings.
Transportation had improved with the coming of the trains. The center of town moved close to the train station. A wealthy timber man, Thomas Jefferson Howell, saw the need to build a new modern School and Church near the new center of town to replace the log cabin school. Mr. Howell donated land to the Mobile County Public School System to build a new school. A new church was built to sit by the new modern schoolhouses. It is interesting to note that Mr. Howell was concerned that a school remains on the property and stipulated in the deed that a school should always remain on the property or the ownership of the property would revert back to the Howell family.
Around 1917 a new stucco building was built across the road opposite the one room school. The old Semmes post office, Allentown school and the 1902 one room school house were moved to sit by the stucco building. As the population continued to grow a red brick building was built in front of the stucco building. In time, additional buildings were moved behind the stucco building. One of these buildings moved in was an old army barracks from Brookley Field. This building became the first Semmes School Cafeteria.
The population continued to grow and area schools were consolidated into Semmes School by the Mobile County Public School System. A new Cafeteria, High School, Home Economic and Agriculture building were added to the campus. Additional buildings were added as the need arose.
With continued Population growth, Allentown Elementary School, Semmes Elementary School and Mary G. Montgomery High School were built. The old Semmes School Campus became Semmes Middle School. Latter a new Semmes Middle School was built close to Semmes Elementary and MGM High School.
When citizens heard the original one room 1902 Semmes School was about to be torn down, they rallied together to preserve the one room school forming Alumni & Friends of Semmes School, Inc. a 501 (C) 3 non- profit all volunteer organization. Instead of being torn down, the school was given to the group and moved back to its original site and restored becoming a Living History Museum. This original site is now known as Semmes Heritage Park. Additional buildings have been added by the group to the park are replicas of the 1900’s church, a log cabin, an outhouse (we have modern restrooms in the chapel) and storage building which also contains hand tools and other artifacts.
The stucco building and the Red brick building have been torn down. The Remaining buildings on the Old Semmes School Campus belong to the Mobile County Public School system and are leased to East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, Semmes Health Center and the old Semmes High School Building to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, Semmes Branch.
Mark your Calendar-Saturday May 4, 2019- 10 am till 2 pm
16th Annual Semmes Heritage Day 3871 Wulff Rd.-Semmes Heritage Park Celebrating the History of Semmes -Sponsor- Alumni & Friends of Semmes School, Inc.
Semmes School -All class Reunion -3810 Wulff Rd.-Old Semmes High School-
Sponsor-Semmes Boys & Girls Club.
CELEBRATING SEMMES HISTORY
Remember Our Past as we Look to the Future.
117th Birthday of Semmes One Room School
25th Anniversary of Semmes Heritage Park
Spinning, Loom Weaving, Quilting, Basket Making, Grist Mill, Horse Drawn Wagon, Old Fashion Children’s Games,
Music, Food, vendors
Historical Displays that include a 147 year old chair from Semmes first school a Log Cabin established in 1872.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
MGM High School
Robotic & Electric Car Teams
May 4, 2019 10 am till 2 pm
Semmes Heritage Park
Bill Dodd-Semmes Heritage Park November 2008
I was born in 1920 and it was a very strict time of life, but a wonderful time. We (my brothers and I) milked the cows, fed the chickens and pigs. We had a barn that had a hay loft. I did not learn how to read until after I had an exam and it was found out that I could not read.
I remember someone came down from Iowa to see if we could grow plants to sell in one year. Plants were shipped bare roots, tied together 20 to 40 plants to a bundle on the train. We had Roses and Privets.
My brothers and I had chores. We were to carry buckets of water for the workers working in the field. We had to work in the field too. Sometimes, one of my brothers would climb a tree to be the look out while we rested. He would sound the alarm when he saw someone coming so we could get back to work.
Roses were a big crop in Semmes. Tyler Texas undercut the prices of roses so the rose business went to Tyler. One of our jobs was the budding (grafting) of roses and multi flora Japonica with budding stock. You took a knife made a “T” shape cut into the plant and the budding stock was inserted and wrapped.
Dan McDuffie was a farmer that hauled pigs to market on the weekend. He cleaned his truck well and it became the school bus during the week.
I remember classmates Dorothy and Melody Pollard, and eating lunch with P.J. Christopher whose grandmother ran the railroad station. We played under the schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse was high up because the land would hold water.
Mr. Kiyono was a nurseryman that moved to Semmes in 1914. He had children in school and he bought an (RCA) Victrola for the school. Classical music was played every Friday as it was rolled from one class to the other.
Mrs. Tift and her daughter Mrs. Pringle had a store, Bread was delivered by train form Smith Bakery in Mobile to Semmes. I would go to the train station pick up the bread and deliver it to the store. I was paid a nickle, and at the end of the year I was rewarded with a Smith bakery Calendar. that had just expired.
There were section houses close to the railroad. The Havard house that sits close to the railroad tracks was made from section houses.
P. J. Christopher would meet the train and if he did not like the way a person looked he would tell them to get back on the train and keep on going.
Daniel Christopher would put on his Confederate Uniform to come to town.
Will Christopher worked for the railroad as an inspector of the railroad tracks.
May, 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Semmes Heritage Park to preserve the Semmes One room School. The park is the center of the Historical Preservation of Semmes.
Semmes was once known as a community in the Albritton Precinct.
The Albritton Precinct came about when the Alabama General assembly divided Mobile County into three revenue and road districts in 1888. The districts were then divided into precincts for voting, mail delivery, the collecting of revenue and building roads. Prior to this time most of the roads that existed were Indian Trails.
Early small settlements of Alabama were often close together as transportation was limited to walking, by horse, by wagon and boat down creeks and rivers. Families often migrated together purchasing and homesteaded land close to one another. These settlements were often named after the founding pioneers.
Land was plentiful, but communication was limited. Sometimes early immigrants just picked out a piece of land, cleared the land and built a log cabin house, not having legal claim to the land they were known as squatters and had to move when the legal owner was known. This happened to one of the first churches in Semmes known as Mt. Pleasant Church which was later renamed Semmes First Baptist Church. Each small settlement had its own school, church, blacksmith shop, cemetery and general store and all were located within a ten mile or less range of one another.
The uniting factors of these small surrounding settlements into Semmes were transportation and education. A railroad station was established in Semmes allowing the shipping of goods to the port of Mobile and included passenger service.
The beginning of the town of Semmes
Word had traveled up north that Alabama was the land of opportunity with rich soil, mild winters, great forests and plenty of wild game for food. The 1900’s saw an increase of migrations of people to Alabama.
In 1900 August Pickus and eight men from Illinois purchased a section of land fifteen miles west of Mobile near the railroad station and began laying out a new town. They gave the town the name Semmes after Admiral Raphael Semmes. The Pickus group stayed at the McCrary’s home while laying out the town. The McCrary’s had homesteaded in Albritton Precinct in the 1800’s. The town of Semmes became the City of Semmes May 2, 2011.
The beginning of Semmes Public schools
The enabling act that was passed in order for the Alabama Territory to become a state required that each township set aside the sixteenth section of land for public educational purposes. State Route 42 (A Post road) running through the sixteenth section of land of township 3 is now known as US 98. The first school in Semmes was a log cabin on the townships sixteenth section. Mt. Pleasant church began in the school house and is known today as Semmes First Baptist Church.
Shifts in the population, and new transportation in the 1900’s brought about the need for a new school building. Thomas Jefferson Howell, a concerned citizen, saw the need to have a new school closer to the new center of town, near the railroad. He gave land to build a school and a church. In his deed to the Mobile County Public School Board, he specified that a school must remain on the land or the land would revert back to the Howell Family.
By this time logging, saw milling, and turpentine stills were the main industries of Semmes. This made it possible to transition from log buildings to buildings made of lumber. The new school and church along with new homes were built of sawed lumber and were unpainted. Mobile County Public School records indicate that the new school was not painted until 1911. I remember seeing older homes as late as 1950 that were not painted.
Early Settlement Community Schools
In 1917 the Semmes School stucco building was built on Wulff Rd across from the 1902 Semmes School. Semmes 1902 School, the Allentown School and the old post office were moved to sit besides the new stucco school building. This began the consolidating of smaller public community schools into Semmes School thereby uniting the communities together.
Preserving our History!