Spring Valley Alabama unknown cemetery

For The Tuscumbian

By Mary Carton

The old church sits west of the Spring Valley Depot slowly decaying.  Offers by volunteers to stabilize the structure have been refused by the two sisters living out of state.  Its backbone and floor joists have cracked.

 The cornerstone says Kirks Chapel CME Church,  rebuilt AD 1942, I or L Kennedy Pastor,  R W Woodard and another name buried in the soil.   A look in one of the windows is one of a church ready for Sunday service.  The pews and pulpit and books?  What records are inside the little crumbling church?  The building is much older, but how old?  My Great Grandfather Louis Gusmus taught there.  He died in 1932.

 Behind the church neglected and overgrown is a little cemetery.  If I was a snake, this would be an ideal place for me, especially under one of the broken slabs.    As Tom McKnight and I walk carefully around, a light rain starts falling.  He says the spirits are happy we are here.  I later find out that the last time Tom visited, he was attacked by swarms of yellow jackets. 

 The name of the cemetery is not yet known nor is the name of the church when it was first built.  Hopefully those reading this can provide some insight into our quest.   Photos taken August 2013.

EDITORS NOTE 1-12-2014.  The cemetery is listed as Kirk’s Chapel on the old county maps and as Spring Valley Station Cemetery on Find a Grave.     It is not yet known when the church was built nor the name of the church at that time.


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A Sunday in our little town

    By: Jim Smith

For The Tuscumbian     

               Today I was thinking about times past and thought I would try and write a little about them.

            I am sure that some of you are old enough to remember what Sunday was like in Tuscumbia and small towns all over the south.

            You typically got up a little later on Sunday but it was a very important day. First thing was that Mama fixed Breakfast as usual but seemed to kind of hurry you along.

            You knew that at 9:00, you had better be dressed, hair combed, shoes shined, and if you were past age 6; that you had your bible or new testament close by. You also had your dime or quarter in your possession for the collection plate. No later then 9:10, you had to leave for church. Sunday Scholl started at 9:45 and it was exactly 8 blocks to the church. 4 parking spaces from the end, right next to the same person you had parked next to for 5 years; the same every Sunday Morning.

            You went in the side door, spoke to Mr. Carmicheal, Mr. Schmidt, and the several other men standing in the hall. You went down the hall, looked in the room to see the usual faces. You put your bible down and talked with the other kids until time for class to start. After Sunday School class was over you had about 8 minutes before you had to go into sanctuary for service.

            After service; you went home and had dinner. Now here is a strange thing about the south. On any given day; the noon meal was called dinner; except for working people who got a (lunch break). They had lunch at work but if they went home; they had dinner. Did I lose you on that? Anyway after dinner it seemed like many Sundays were the same. Play a little, read, (yes, read) comics or maybe a real book.

            Some Sunday afternoons we would ride to Iuka to visit my Grandmother and Granddad.  That was always a good time.

            You notice there is no mention of shopping or going to the mall. On Sunday; there were no stores open. I can remember when they built the open air style service station across from Southland. It had no interior and everything was outside. Their oil, and everything else was outside. They were open 24 hours. (un heard of back then. They probably the only thing open except for McDaniel’s curb market in Tuscumbia. They did a big Sunday afternoon business.

            In time everything started staying open on Sunday but at first; there were a lot of people who did not think stores should be open on Sunday.

            One other thing that kids had to occupy their time was the radio. On Sunday afternoon, you could listen to “The Shadow”, and some of the other well-known broadcasts. Gang-Busters, The Fat-Man, Inner-Sanctum, and of course; “THE LONE RANGER”. Over the years, the time slot just after school got busy with the likes of Tom Mix, Sky King, Tennessee Ned, and others that became movies and some even came on TV. The ladies had Stella Dallas and Lorenzo Jones. Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Lum and Abner were also favorites.  Every night you Had Gabriel Heater with his good news tonight program. You also had Walter Winchell; who always started off with Hello America and all the ships at sea. Some of the ads on the radio stayed around for years: you wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent was one. Duz does all was another.

            I am not sure if I am still on the same page but when I get started on old times and old things I lose track of my own thoughts. It is sad for me to think that kids today don’t have the chance we had to grow up and enjoy the simple things like we did.

            How many of your grandkids know who Black Beauty was? Do any of them know who Moby Dick was? Do any of them really know about Lassie come home and not the TV lassie? Most of them probably have never seen or heard the real Winnie-The Pooh stories. OK, I have quit writing and started meddling so I will quit for now.

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George Ricks Cemetery

George Ricks was brought to this country in 1846 from Liberia to Jamestown, Virginia.  He was sold as a slave to Abraham Ricks.  He became the first Black land owner in North Alabama by planting cotton on Saturday evenings and picking it by the moon light.  Of the 53 acres he purchased, he gave three acres as a cemetery near The Oakes east of Tuscumbia to bury former Black slaves of the community.

Unique to the cemetery are the handmade headstones of concrete. Names and date of birth and death were carved into the wet concrete. A few graves still don’t have headstones, and the name tags long gone.  A couple of children’s graves from 2008 are marked with half of  a concrete block.

Several of the older headstones the person buried does not have a date of birth, only date of death.

Photography by Mary Carton

grave of George Ricks

grave of George Ricks

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Photo of the Day — William Reese Julian House

William Reese Julian House — built at Cherokee in 1819 and moved in the 1840’s to Tuscumbia Landing on the Tennessee River, then pulled by oxen to its present location.  Confederate Lt. Col. William Reese Julian commanded Julian’s Battalion under Roddey at the Battle of Day’s Gap. He was the first Sheriff of Colbert County


William Reese Julian House

William Reese Julian House

February 12, 2013 with Star magnolia in bloom

William Reece Julian

William Reece Julian

March 03, 2011 with saucer magnolia


William Reece Julian

William Reece Julian

April 12, 2010 with pink dogwood in bloom.

Photos copyrighted by Mary Carton

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The Walk of Life, the Return to Tuscumbia Landing

This gallery contains 41 photos.

BY:  Annie Cooper Perry and Robert J. Perry For The Tuscumbian The Walk of Life is a memorial to the Southeastern Indians that were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands to Indian Territory in the 1830’s.They were transported by steam … Continue reading

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Tuscumbia History in Peril

By Mary Carton

For The Tuscumbian

While driving around Tuscumbia taking pictures of some of the historical homes in Tuscumbia for the calendars and note card series I’m working on, I couldn’t help but noticed a few of our old homes are in sad shape. Some of these old homes survived Sherman’s burning march to the sea, but may not survive modern neglect.   Being around the area history, whether architecture or musical daily, one tends not to realize how much richness we have. 

It is my hope in 2013 that at least these will be preserved for future generations.

4th ST Tuscumbia IMG_4989

Tuscumbia Railway Co. also called the Hunt house is an 1870’s Greek Revival farmhouse. 

Hunt House IMG_9881

This house is on 4th street just west of Hook Street. Once owned by the Tuscumbia Railway Co., the home’s attributes include “boxcar” siding which is partially removed or covered in insulation wrap, and a columned portico which used to have a second floor landing.   When I was a child we used to deliver milk at this house, and it was a grand home. Some one started remodeling the house years ago and abandoned the project when the owners decided that they didn’t want to live in town.  This home was featured in This Old House segment “Save this old house” in April of 2004.   Seven years later it’s still in grave peril.

Coons Steele Armistead IMG_8700

Coons Steele Armistead IMG_8714


Coons (Steele-Armistead) House — this house is located at 406 Main St.   It is a raised cottage style home, a type normally found along the coastlines of the southeast. During the Civil War Jeffrey Forrest, brother of Nathan Bedford Forrest was brought to the home after being wounded in the battle of Tuscumbia. It is featured  on some of the historic Tuscumbia walking tours each June.  



House on Main Street — this house is next door on the north side of the Coons House.   The home was almost saved as the owners started remodeling and the husband fell off of a ladder while working on it and suffered many injuries. Work ceased after the accident.



House on Fifth St. – I don’t know anything about this house.  It is a half block west of the Tuscumbia Depot.  It was a darling little house at one time. Again it looks like work started on the home and stopped.  Two work horses can be seen on the front porch and a clump of plastic paper on one of the valleys.

There are others, but these are just a few that really stood out through my camera lens.  Check out Remember Tuscumbia on Facebook for more history of our unique  town.

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Plantation Christmas 2012

Photos by Mary Carton for The Tuscumbian

Belle Mont (Isaac Winston House): Built circa 1828 by Dr. Alexander Mitchell, this home exhibits Jeffersonian-Palladian architecture, rare in Alabama. It is thought that Thomas Jefferson or one of his associates influenced its design and its hilltop setting.  The house features a two-story central pavilion with flanking wings embracing a courtyard. Isaac and Catherine Winston acquired the home in 1832 and it remained in this family for many years.

The annual Plantation Christmas at Belle Mont mansion in Tuscumbia, Alabama took place on December 02, 2012.  The event sponsored by the Colbert County Landmarks Foundation is a major fundraise

r for the restoration of this proud home.



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