Alabama: Selma Moves Forward with Plans to Sell Confederate Circle
SELMA, Ala. — The Selma City Council took a step toward solving a 136-year-old question of ownership Tuesday evening.
The council voted 4-1 to begin the process of selling an acre of land in Old Live Oak Cemetery to the United Daughters of the Confederacy for $60,000.
Four of the nine council members were not present at the meeting, including Council President Corey Bowie.
Ward 1 Councilmember Cecil Williamson, who led the meeting as council president pro tem, said the sale would not be official until the council drafts an ordinance, which would take a minimum of one month. Once drafted, the council would read the ordinance twice and make a final vote during the second reading.
The land includes a monument dedicated to Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest, unveiled in 2000 at the city-owned Vaughan-Smitherman Building. It was moved to Old Live Oak Cemetery after the momument was defaced with trash. Selma residents continued to protest the monument until March 2012, when the monument’s bust vanished.
After the March 2012 theft, construction immediately began on upgrades to the Forrest and Confederate monuments, but in August 2012, the council voted to halt construction work after questions were raised about who owned the property. The work stoppage resulted in a $375,000 lawsuit by construction company KTK Mining.
Tuesday’s vote includes a stipulation that KTK Mining drops its $375,000 lawsuit against the city of Selma.
Ward 6 councilmen B.L. Tucker said he made the motion to begin the sale process after a recent cemetery visit.
“We have been dragging this whole process on for so long and I think it is time to put it to rest,” Tucker said. “I visited the cemetery recently and found that the UDC is keeping it clean and the cemetery workers don’t even have to do any work on it. I came up with the $60,000 price because I thought it was fair.”
But the United Daughters of Confederacy isn’t interested. Pat Godwin, with the United Daughters of Confederacy Chapter 53, laughed at the city’s proposition to sell the property.
“I see no reason why the UDC should purchase the property when we already own it,” Godwin said.
Godwin contends the United Daughters of the Confederacy obtained the land in 1877 when the city of Selma ceded the rights to the land to a predecessor organization — the Ladies Memorial Association.
Neither the city, nor the UDC can find where a deed was created and transferred to make the donation of the property legal.
“There could have been a deed at one of the ladies’ homes,” Godwin said. “In fact, there was a fire at one of the homes and the deed could have burned.”
Though Godwin and the UDC object to the sale, Williamson said the monument is benign and the city should solve the situation before trial proceedings begin.
“I’m more concerned with the city losing money than any thing else,” Williamson said. “A lawsuit like that could really put the city in a bind. The monument is a military monument and nothing else. Nathan Bedford Forrest defended the city of Selma.”
Ward 4 councilwoman Angela Benjamin laughed as she made the lone vote against beginning the sale of the land. Benjamin said she preferred to leave all decisions about the monument and surrounding land to the U.S. District Court.
“I just want to totally stay out of this,” Benjamin said. “Of course, I am concerned about the city losing money, but I think it would just be better to leave it to the court.”
KTK Mining and the city of Selma have filed for summary judgments. U.S. Judge Kristi DuBose is presiding over the case and could make a ruling at any time. If DuBose denies both summary judgments, the case would continue to trail.
Williamson said Jan. 2, 2014 has already been chosen as the jury selection date.
The city council’s next meeting is its work session at 6 p.m. on Sept. 19. Its next regular meeting is Set. 24.
-Josh Bergeron, Selma Times-Journal
Georgia: Church that Served as a Civil War Hospital Renovated
AUGUSTA, Ga. — For the better part of a century, a rumor persisted among the faithful at First Presbyterian Church of Augusta.
Hoof prints and blood stains were reputed to exist beneath the carpet and pews of the 1809 sanctuary, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War.
The rumors turned out not to be true. A recent renovation revealed old heart pine floors, but no hoof prints or stains.
“I was extremely disappointed,” the Rev. George W. Robertson, the church’s senior pastor, said with a laugh. “We had our hopes up.”
First Presbyterian spent a year and $3.5 million renovating the sanctuary, where PresidentWoodrow Wilson‘s father was once pastor. The new sanctuary was dedicated in August. On Sunday, Lenora Morrow, an internationally recognized organist from Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, played a recital to dedicate a new organ between services.
The new organ and restored hardwood floors, visible for the first time since the 1920s, are only part of the renovation, which touched several buildings on the church’s campus on Telfair Street.
A ramp was added to make the church more accessible. Pews were refurbished. Technology was updated. The nursery was expanded. Portions of the roof were replaced. In the most labor-intensive project of them all, the 170-year-old sanctuary windows were restored. The shutters covering the windows had been painted shut over the years. For the first time in decades, natural light pours into the sanctuary.
“This renovation was really the renovation of a century,” said Paul Roberts, the director of music and arts ministries. “It was so massive. Everything you can see was changed.”
The church worshipped without an organ in a fellowship hall during the renovation. About 150 members joined in that time, including several who had never worshipped in the old sanctuary, Robertson said.
This summer, they experienced the joy of worshipping in the historic sanctuary, now updated with modern conveniences, better acoustics and lighting.
“Our acoustics were not good before,” Robertson said. “I could see the people sing. They were red in the face, but you couldn’t hear them.”
Where possible, old materials such as the antique glass and former shutters were reused or will be salvaged for other projects. The same is true for the organ, which reused several pipes.
“One rank in the organ goes back to the 1800s. It was specifically retained, like a sourdough starter,” said Roberts, who estimates the rank has been carried over from at least four organs in the church’s history.
As for the floors, Robertson said the contractor offered to fabricate hoof prints but, for the sake of historical integrity, the church decided against it.
–Kelly Jasper, The Augusta Chronicle
Virginia: Civil War Battle to be Commemorated
MADISON COUNTY, Va. — The 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s Battle of Jack’s Shop is being commemorated Saturday, Sept. 21 at two sites — Madison County High School and at the county’s athletic complex behind Madison Primary School (sometimes called “Hoover Ridge” or the “Old Clore Farm”).
MCHS events include a chance to explore the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission’s “Civil War 150 History Mobile.”
The interactive museum-on-wheels is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and will be parked on the MCHS campus.
A single tour bus, Franklin Tour Bus Inc., will also be available to take residents for narrated tours of the Jack’s Shop battlefield at 8:45 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. along the Blue Ridge Turnpike (Route 231) near modern-day Rochelle. The bus will pick up passengers at MCHS.
The Living History Camp of the Seventh Virginia Company “A” Confederate Infantry re-enactment group will set camp at MCHS with various re-enactors portraying both Confederate and Union officers while many Civil War demonstrations go on simultaneously.
At the county’s athletic complex, cavalry and artillery demonstrations from the Seventh, 10th and 12thVirginia Cavalry will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The cavalry camp itself will open at 9 a.m.
All events, at both locations, are free and open to the public. No pets are allowed.