Carrollton and Pickensville, AlabamaWednesday, February 25, 2009
On our way to Kosciusko, we went through Carrollton and stopped at the Pickens County Courthouse there. The first county courthouse was burned in 1865 by troops of Union General John T. Croxton. The second was burned on November 16, 1876. This one was built in 1877-78:
See that arrow, pointing to the bottom quadrant of the window at the top of the courthouse?
It points to a window that has a lightning-etched "photograph" of a Henry Wells. This is how my WPA book from the 1930s describes the story:
In a window of the courthouse is the Ghost's Face. Old residents claim that the face is an exact likeness of Henry Wells, Negro, who was accused of helping to burn the old courthouse. Another Negro, Bill Burkhalter, charged with being Wells' accomplice, was arrested and sentenced to the penitentiary, was located on a plantation near Fairfield. He was captured and brought back to Carrollton, where a mob gathered on the main street. The sheriff, realizing that the small jail was too weak to protect his prisoner, hurried him to the new courthouse and confined him to the garret. Meantime, a torrential downpour began lashing the mob and they yelled madly for admittance to the building. As they surged toward the entrance, the terrified Negro in the garret watched from a small window. Suddenly, an unusually bright flash of lightning illuminated the courthouse square and the mob, frustrated by the storm, slowly dispersed. When the sheriff returned to the garret, he found his prisoner slumped beneath the window, dead.
A picture of the face in the window is here (mine didn't turn out so great).
Next, we went to Pickensville to see the Tom Bevill Visitor's Center. On the Tenn-Tom there is the U.S. Snagboat Montgomery, which is steam-powered and is a National Historic Landmark. This is actually as close as I could get to it, because the center is closed on weekends(!!). Why would the state close a visitor's center on the weekend when people traditionally travel for leisure? Anyway.
The visitor's center is actually this really pretty building, which is a replica of a Greek Revival mansion:
Going back to Pickensville, we saw this gorgeous church that didn't have a sign anywhere around it to tell its name:
Av walked up to one of the tall side windows and took these pictures through the glass: