Lawrence Malone was principal at Semmes School from 1948-1952. His wife Neil Malone was a teacher at the school during those years.
During Lawrence Malone time as principal a move was made by the Mobile County School Board to tear down the old Semmes One-Room Schoolhouse as new more modern buildings were added. Dr. Malone interceded with the School Board and was successful in persuading them to allow the building to remain a part of the Semmes Campus. It remained in service serving as a classroom, counselor office and the Library until 1992.
Saved from destruction the second time!
In January 1994 Robin Wulff was at the school board office and overhear that the one room Semmes school was going to be renovated or torn down. She immediately alerted Elizabeth Dodd.
Mrs. Dodd called Julane Greenlee and Rita Durant and together they went to see Mrs. Katherine Montgomery, the principal of Semmes School to present the idea of preserving the one room school. Mrs. Montgomery was very receptive, and encouraging.
Theodore had recently restored an early school, so Julane and Mrs. Dodd made an appointment with Carolyn Dumas and Kathy Nelson, who had led the restoration at Theodore school. They gave us a tour, copies of their corporation history and grant applications.
Marion Howell and Mrs. Dodd went to the Courthouse to research the original deed and found the deed in Book 102, Page 179 and obtained a copy of the deed. The deed revealed that In 1902 Thomas Jefferson Howell donated to the Mobile Co. Public School Board one-half acre of land to build a new school and one half acre to build a new church to sit beside the school.
Bobby Nelson, who was in charge of new school board construction, Mark McDonald, Director of the Mobile Historic Development Commission were contacted and asked to inspect the school to see if might be restored. " We were assured our little treasurer was well worthy of the efforts of restoration." said Elizabeth Dodd.
Julane Geenlee contacted Jay Grelan, who wrote an article on May 13, 1994 in the Mobile Press on our historic school house announcing a meeting May 22, 1994 to form a committee for the purpose of preserving the little school house.
On May 22, 1994, a group of sixty-seven citizens and former students of Semmes School met together in the Semmes School cafeteria. Donations were collected in the amount of $370.00.
May 25, 1994 an organizational meeting was held in the Semmes School Cafeteria and the name of Alumni & Friends of Semmes School was chosen. Officers elected were President Jospeh E. Shumock, Vice-President Norville H. Couey, Treasurer- Mary Waters Hopkins, Secretary Kathryn K. Shumock, and Corresponding Secretary Linda Hudson Davis. Board of Directors were Joe Shoemock, Mildred Wiggins, Sara Wilson,
On July 18, 1994 Alumni & Friends of Semmes School was incorporated as a 501 © 3 not for profit organization. August 25, 1994 the school was declared an Alabama Historical Landmark, as the oldest continuous in use school in Alabama.
In 1917 the school had been moved from its original site across the road to sit besides the new stucco building. Allentown School, Morris Hill (Crawford) & Powelltown schools were consolidated into Semmes School in 1917.
The schoolhouse was donated by the Mobile County Public School System to Alumni & Friends of Semmes School, Inc. and returned to its original location in 1998. Restoration was completed in 1999 and a dedication ceremony took place May 5, 2001.
Source-Interview with Elizabeth P.( Lib) Dodd before her death on February 1,2018
In case you missed it, please see!
http://vimeo.com/281942738 “The History of Semmes Heritage Park”
http:// vimeo.com/221413870 “The Semmes Heritage Park”
Coming Soon! Semmes Scrapbook of Memories 2020
Advance Purchases available now $20 -Sale Price $25
The book is an updated book of the original Scrapbook of Memories, the history of Semmes by the people of Semmes looking at the past, present, and future!
The Semmes Camellia Festival that was reborn in January 2013 continues to be a celebration to honor Semmes Nursery History and still is an elegant affair as it was when it began in 1949.
The festival program included the following:
“A picture is worth a thousand words. “
The following was from a letter written in 1955 announcing the Sixth Annual Camellia Festival. “Semmes was once the heart of the Camellia and Azalea industry of America.”
The first Semmes Camellia Festival was a community event that began in 1949 at Semmes School. It was an elegant affair with the displays of individual Camellia blooms, Camellia flower arrangements, and landscape displays provided by Semmes Nurserymen.
Students of Semmes school provided Camellia’s in Art and a Camellia Pageant. The Camellia Pageant consisted of a King and Queen from the Senior Class and a court of Camellia Maids and Knights representing each class. A theme was chosen and Entertainment for the court was provided by each grade.
Revived Camellia Festival
In October of 2012 Camellia Maids were selected from applicants to become good will ambassadors for Semmes Heritage Park.
In January 2013 a new Camellia Festival was held at the Semmes Public Library.
Since this was our first show I contacted Semmes resident Walter Creighton, a member of the Mobile Camellia Club Show for advice. Walter chairs the Mobile Camellia club show. With his advice the show was set up and the Semmes New Camellia Festival was born. Walter participated showing a variety of blooms, some from plants that he had developed.
Don Oyler, another member of the Mobile Camellia Club brought many blooms to show. Carolyn Oyler, the wife of Don, created and displayed a photo gallery of Camellias. This first show had 100+ Camellia blooms contributed by hobbyists, home gardeners, individuals and local nurseries. The show included Camellia arrangements (tablescapes), art displays and information displays on the growing of camellias. Nurseryman Vaun Jarvis was available to answer questions.
The Eighteenth Annual Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration was a great success!
Malone Chapel was filled to overflow with parents’ grandparents and community citizens as they gathered to celebrate Christmas the old fashioned way.
The celebration began with a musical program presented by Indian Springs Youth ensemble followed by Semmes First Baptist Children’s Choir and the telling of the Christmas Story.
A surprise gift of a tiny hand painted ornament depicting the Nativity scene and the shepherds in the field was presented to each child.
Open house at the Log Cabin Museum contained a cedar Christmas tree decorated with wooden ornaments, icicles, and a handmade silver star on top. Under the tree were homemade gifts and a few that might have been ordered from the Sears Roebuck Catalog or purchased at Semmes Country Store. To the delight of the Children and parents, each child received an old fashion gift; a brown paper sack tied with a red ribbon containing an Apple and a candy cane.
The Celebration continued with Christmas Caroling in the gazebo, and a time for children to try out the see saws on the play ground on the way to the school house for refreshments.
The school house with oil lamps burning (providing light) was all decked out with, fresh greenery, and a Christmas tree. Cookies and warm apple cider were served. The cider was kept warm in a pot simmering on the school wood stove.
Semmes First Baptist Children's Choir- Ambraly Purvis Director
-Indian Springs Baptist Church Youth Ensemble-Diane Moore Director
Jonathan Smith-Lott Rd Church of God Worship Leader
Photos - JoAnne McKnight
A steady growth of dairy farms took place from 1915 to the 1970’s when there were approximately 45-50 dairies in the Semmes Area. There are no dairy farms today!
The first commercial dairy farming in Semmes area began in 1915 when Bernice Graham started a dairy on Schillinger Road. He milked his small herd of cows by hand. The milk was strained and stored in five and ten gallon milk cans kept cool when the cans of milk were placed in canvas bags surrounded by cool pump water. The milk was then transported to the creamery plant in Springhill, Alabama where it was processed and distributed to homes and businesses.
1919 Dairy Farmer Roland Graham bottled raw milk (unpasteurized milk) into ½ pints,1 pints and 1 quart bottles and making delivered to businesses, homes, cafes, boarding houses.
In the 1920’s electricity began to expand into rural areas making it possible for the construction of an ice plant in the Crawford Community. Dairy farmers began using ice to keep their milk cold.
1930’s Dairy farmers began to grow corn and hay to feed the cows. Commercial Feed stores began feed delivery to dairy farms.
1940 Roland Graham built a Pasteurizing Plant in the Crawford community. The Pasteurizing plant was sold to Barbers Dairy in 1950.
As electricity became available to outreaching rural areas, there was a change from hand milking to electric milking machines.
1940 Lewis Waltman built his own pasteurization plant and bottle milk from his dairy. He purchased a truck and delivered milk to homes, business. In 1960 he sold his pasteurizing plant to Van Antwerp. And his milk route to Barbers Dairy.
When I was around 4 year old we had a cow named Bessie to provide milk for our family. One day my mother heard me screaming at the top of my lungs out in the barn. She ran as fast as she could to the barn. Entering the barn she saw I was safe in Bessie stall and Bessie was on the outside looking at me wondering why I was screaming. Needless to say, I did not play in the barn again, or go near a cow.
My next up close experience with a cow was many years later when we were living at the Byrd family home place. My father in law decided to buy a milk cow to keep on the home place. He was a pastor living in a local church parsonage and asked if I would be willing to milk the cow for half of the milk. Our children were small so I agreed, and amazingly I learned to milk. The milk was rich and delicious with cream on top.
" Scrapbook of Memories," 1996
Early settlers had to be very resourceful, creative, inventive people. Resources were very limited to the tools, items they brought with them. When something broke it had to be repaired or a new one made from bar stock of iron or steel.
An important person in the early settlement was the blacksmith. He was a skilled craftsman, who heated iron to shape it, using a forge, anvil, hammers, tongs, chisels and punches to create, repair, and make needed metal items. With a vise and files, he refined the rough edges.
A forge (furnace) burning coal was used to heat iron placed in the forge to a high temperature. The temperature of the forge was controlled by air being pumped into the forge using large leather bellows, the more air the faster the coal burns, the higher the temperature.
Color changes in the metal indicate when the metal was ready to be worked. It was taken out of the fire and hammered on an anvil until the desired shape or repair was achieved. The reheat process is repeated until the desired shape, repair or weld was made. It was then dipped in a tub of water or oil to cool quickly or slowly to the desired temper of hardness.
Allentown had a blacksmith shop that was located at the corner of Wulff and Howells Ferry Road. (Allentown was a town with a church, school, store, cemetery and blacksmith shop that was named for the Allen families who homesteaded in 1820. The only thing that remains today is the Allentown Cemetery and Allentown Holiness church)
Semmes blacksmith shop was located at the corner of Wulff and Hwy 98, just north of the Tift-Pringle grocery store. The shop was owned and operated by Mr. Wulff. Horses and mules were shod, and all types of agricultural equipment were kept in repair. Knives and other useful items were made.
Russell Wulff would later build a home and operate a grocery store at this location. Today in 2019, Walgreen’s Drug Store occupies this property.
The gazebo is a wonderful addition to the park. We are looking forward to using the Gazebo at the Semmes Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration. Make plans to attend- Mark your calendar! AL200 endorsed event.
Preserving our History