Founding Girard Alabama part 1


Founding Girard Alabama part 1

By Sandra Waldrop Doolittle

History, Families , Memories and e-Mails from the Muscogee and Harris County, Ga.with emails from Russell and Lee Counties in Alabama

Residents and former residents of Girard and Phenix City sharing what they remembered about Girard and Phenix City. The emails go from Ma Beeches to where they were when Mr. Patterson was shot, Idle Hour Park. Fort Benning, Central High.

They wrote about memories that most thought they had forgotten. There are emails from neighbors who have moved out of town and are sharing memories of what they remember and where they were while History was in the making.

All our emails started about when Ed Meadows (His dad was the Vet. Dr. Meadows in Phenix City) wanted to know about something about Phenix City. Then one email was answered by another one and a conversation came alive among the people on several lists. The emails ended up being memories and mixing in genealogy with friends chatting about their ancestors in Phenix City. Ann Brown (Jefferies) and I ended up going back to the early 1800s with one of her uncles marring one of my aunts.

Kemis Massey (Sobby) is active mailing in info and keeping us up to date and sharing her memories of Girard and Phenix City.

Ann Brown , in FL. , of the Jefferie’s family shares when her relatives were active in the Phenix City and Columbus area. Her family were involved in Idle Hour Park and other eating places in Columbus.

Betty J. Rackley shares her memories the next ,morning with the Milk man when Mr. Patterson was shot in Phenix City.

Delilah is as always helpful with giving us info. She is always around to be of help.

Melanie Oates Malone shares with us with her emails of what she remembers.

We talked about Bush Hospital, Dr. David TW Chi, The Hitching Post, The Dairy Queen, The Last Battle of the Civil War in Girard by the Dillingham Bridge. Seymour’s Dress Shop This went on for almost two weeks. I wasn’t able to get all the emails, but the ones I do have are priceless when it comes to memories.

There are many others who emailed and shared. I will post them all. Maybe they will bring back memories to our readers. (if any readers have memories of Girard and Phenix City, please email me there is sill enough time to enter yours with the others, Thanks.)

Phenix Girard Bank

I’ve been told that one route that the wagon trains followed was an Indian trail called the Alabama Road that came into Harris County at one point near Ellersllie Georgia. Ron Rollins has tried to teach me for over two years how the Alabama Road is connected and how it breaks up and joins in other places. I finally have it narrowed down to one road I can follow, Warm Springs road. Warm Springs road used to be an Indian Trail and the Old Alabama Road would twist and turn down from Ellerslie into Columbus , just about where Warm Springs Road is today I would like to think that the Old Alabama Road bought some of my ancestors down from North and South Carolina. Some of them went through Georgia on to Mississippi and some stayed and settled in Alabama, some in Salem, Alabama and some in Girard, Alabama.

While my ancestors were traveling from East to West I often wondered what they had facing them as they traveled by wagons what was their routes and what was allowed to be taken for each wagon. How did they find the right shoals to cross.

How would they know when the weather would change. What happen when their equipment broke or some of the wagons ran out of food or medical supplies.

I found this list not to long ago.

This list is what each person was allowed to take with them in the early wagon train migrations (c1845). While our ancestors were traveling from east to west this is what they had to live on for months.

Per Person:

150 lbs flour or hard bread, 25 lbs bacon, lbs rice, 15-lbs coffee, 2lbs Tea, 25-lbs sugar, 1/2 bushel dried peas, 1/2 bushel dried fruit, 2 lbs saleratus (baking soda), 10-lbs salt, 1/2 bushel corn meal, small keg of vinegar, pepper miscellaneous per family: rifle, ball, powder, 8-10 keg for water, 2 axe, 1 hatchet, 1 spade, 2 or 3 augers, 1 hand saw, 1 whip or cross cut saw, 1 plow mold, at least 2 ropes, mallet for driving picket pins, matches carried in bottles, corked.

Clothing per person:

Men: 2 wool shirts, 2 wool undershirts
Women: 2 wool dresses
Both: 2 pair drawers, 4 pair wool socks, 2 pair cotton socks, 4 colored handkerchiefs, 1 pair boots and shoes, poncho, brimmed hat

Sewing supplies placed in buckskin or stout cloth bags: stout linen thread, large needles, thimble, bit of bee’s wax, few buttons, buckskins for patching , paper of pins.

Personal Items:
1 comb and brush, 2 toothbrushes, 1 lb castile soap, 1 belt knife , 1 flint stone per man

Baking pan used for baking and for roasting coffee; mess pan- wrought iron or tin; 2 churns one for sweet , one for sour milk; 1 coffee pot—tin cup with handle 1 tin plate knives; 1 coffee mill ( forks, spoon per person;) 1 camp kettle , fry pan and wooden bucket for water.

Bedding person: 1 canvas, 2 blankets, 1 pillow, one tent per family.

Medical supplies: iron rust, rum, and cognac (both for dysentery), calomel, quine for ague, epsom salts for fever, caster oil capsules.

Sounds like a lot when you are reading what they had to take with them for months. This had to last our ancestors threw hot and cold weather. Every item had to last them, even the food, clothing and medical supplies.

By 1845 many of our ancestors were traveling from east to west. Many set out for one place further away but they settled in smaller places like Girard, Alabama, for one reason or another. Some where there must be thousands of Books, Journals and letters that shared their hardships , their good days and their memories.

Many times our ancestors just couldn’t go any further after months in a moving wagon and with limited supplies. This is how many small towns were started. Some last some don’t.

Girard , Alabama was one of these small towns.
My ancestors were already settled in the Girard area or arrived in the mid 1840s.

Girard Methodist Church


Most of my life I’ve heard about Girard, Alabama. I never thought to much about the tiny little town that was just there, nothing special about it, or so I thought. It never crossed my mind that Girard was full of History and memories of days gone by.

The only reason Girard stuck out in my mind was that my grandmother Katherine McKenzie Richardson was born there in 1887. My mother was born in Girard also in 1906. By the time my mother and grandmother was grown and married ,very few people talked about Girard. The most I remember going through Girard was when there was a funeral and we would drive through the small little town on our way to the Girard Cemetery. My McKenzies and McBride are buried in Girard Cemetery.

My grandmother was raised in Girard, she attended School, Church there. They lived on the corner of Dillingham Street and the street that runs beside of the Phenix Girard Bank. The side of the Girard Bank sat directly across the street from the McKenzie’s home. The house was a large white house and had a wrapped around front porch. I only remember the house because every time we visited Girard Cemetery to visit mama’s family, she would say” There is the McKenzie’s home, my grandparents home where mama and I was born.? At the time , it never crossed my mind to ask questions about the McKenzie’s old family home.

I suppose the McKenzie’s house didn’t impress me, because the little town to me didn’t belong to anyone. There was very little left of it , yet mama talked as those there were Churches, schools, family stores and family business scattered around. I saw the Girard Cemetery and to me that was all that was left to prove there were people living in the area.

Mamaw, my grandmother talked more about the town when it was active with horses and buggies and the teenagers running the streets visiting one another and bouncing from one house to another dating one another, having Christmas parties and planning for the summer events. These are the things my mamaw would talk about when Girard was brought up. What we see in our eyes of Girard . today, is nothing like my grandmother remembered in the late 1890s and the early 1900s..

My grandmother , Kate, was what most people would say a beautiful young girl. Mamaw was five foot two, big black eyes and long black hair. She was popular and full of fun she was an average fourteen / fifteen year old of her day. Her life was full of dreams, dating and flirting with the teenage boys and hoping to land one of then and live out her dreams.Then Mr. Richardson came to visit in Girard.

Mr. Richardson was Nathan Cullen Richardson who lived in Griffin, Georgia and he played the Cornett in the orchestra at the Springer Opera House once a week. On a visit to Columbus, he met a family from Girard and he was invited for Dinner. As fate would have it Kate was friends of the family and she too was invited . They say Kate was a site to behold. She was out going and fun to be with , when she was around other teenagers. She could also be poised. Kate’s parents sent her to finishing school. She was taught to be comfortable around adults as well as teenagers.

Here she was fifteen years old and he was thirty. Mr. Richardson was smitten and from that day on he never looked at another woman. ( that we know of).

Mr. Richardson, made several more trips to Girard from Griffin to meet with the lovely Kate, and her McKenzie family. Kate was taken back with the attention of an older gentleman wearing a suit and fancy shoes and he also had a buggy he would drive her all over Girard from Columbus when he was in town. Papaw had graduated from the Baltimore School of Textile Design in Maryland, he also was educated as a Bookkeeper. By the time he had met Kate he owned his own home, drove a buggie with the little fringe on top and money in the Bank, not to mention from the pictures we have of him he was quite handsome. Needless to say Kate’s head was turned.

No one ever mention if her parents approved or disapproved of the couple dating. I suppose not within the year they were married in 1904 and they moved to Griffin. No one ever said what Sarah McBride and William Hugh McKenzie, Kate’s parents thought about Mr. Richardson being fifteen years older than Kate.

I don’t know what Papaw’s reason for marring a younger girl, but I do know in the 1800s it wasn’t uncommon for the men to marry younger women. Some of the men lost their wives to childbirth or illness. It was easier for them to train a younger wife than marry a woman of their own age. Most of the older women their ages were settled and set in their ways and many already had children. It was also the parents who were willing to let the young girls marry , because of the hardships they were having feeding and taking care of the rest of the family.For an older man to marry the oldest daughter was taking a burden off of them. In some cases some of the men help with the wife family’s needs.

All the grandchildren thought it was odd that our grandmother call our grandpapa “Mr. Richardson”. We assumed it was because differences in their ages, but there is another story that may cancel that thought . Mamaw and Papaw’s oldest son Bill wanted to join the Navy and Mamaw said “No” and she meat it.

Papaw thought it was all right and he signed for Uncle Bill, their son, to joined. Needless to say this brought on a terrible fight between the two parents. When Papaw said that was the way it would be, Mamaw put her hands on her hips and said, “Is that your last words, Mr. Richardson ” and he replied ” Yes, it is Kate.”

Mamaw didn’t speak to Papaw for months and when she did , she open the conversation with, “Mr. Richardson, would you like your cup of tea now?” and as far as we know she called him Mr. Richardson for the rest of their lives while here on this earth.

My mama, said her parents had seven children and most of the time she said, her mama referred to their papa as papa. Then after the disagreement with Uncle Bill joining the Navy , mama noticed her mama calling her papa , “Mr. Richardson.”

Uncle Bill, joined the Navy in the early 1920s and not only was that enough trouble for Papaw, but Uncle Bill met and married a girl from Zine, Ill, they had several children and he never returned home to stay. Papaw, when it came to mamaw, was in hot water from the early 1920s until the day he died in 1947. Papaw died on Easter Sunday 1947, and friends and neighbors said to mamaw, “I know you are going to miss, Mr. Richardson” With her little finger sticking out from the handle of her tea cup hovering over the saucer, she replied, ” I am going to try to.”

My mama Myra Richardson Waldrop, never mention Girard as far as her growing up there. Mamaw came home to Girard for mama to be born then she went back to Griffin, Georgia with Mr. Richardson, Uncle Bill and the new baby girl in 1906. After living in Mobile, Alabama, in 1928 Mamaw and Papaw moved to Georgia. They wanted to be near Girard and they settled i across the river in Columbus, Georgia.

Mama talked about growing up in Mobile, Alabama where she met my Dad. So, I didn’t hear to much from mama about Girard. But, mamaw did talk about her home town. She never mention Phenix City, it was always about the people and her “Kin Folks” in Girard. Looking back, I don’t think my McBrides and McKenzies moved out of Girard. They as far as I can remember didn’t move to Phenix City.

Mamaw told me about her Uncle one was a Judge, another one owned a butcher shop and most of the others worked in the mills. Some of the McBrides and McKenzies lived on 5th street on the river and they would walk to and from the mills to work. I believe the street now is called Bickerstaff’ Road. The road I’m talking about backs up to the river. In the late 1870, 1880 and 1890s City Directories most of my family (ancestors) worked with in walking distance of the mill .(Their homes on 5th Street were across the river from the Historical District in Columbus.)

A few years ago I was researching the McBrides and McKenzies it was then how I found my ancestors involved in Girard, also Salem, Alabama.( Lee and Chambers were in the early 1800s before Girard.)This is when I had the desire to know more about Girard, Alabama. What she was like, how she was created and what she had to do with the rest of Russell County.

Girard was established sometimes prior to 1820 as a trading post in the Creek Indian Territory of Alabama. There was a white settlement across the Chattahoochee River which was later named Columbus, Georgia. South of Girard the capital of the Creek Nation was situated about eight miles South in Alabama and was called Cowetta.

First this land was sold by Ben Marshall , a half breed, to Columbus Real Estate for $35.000.00, It was later sold for a total $100.000.00. This area was established as a white community. The town was laid out by a member of a New York Engineering Firm.

Girard was named after a man from Philadelphia and a slave owner, Stephen Girard. When Russell County was formed in 1832 Girard became the County seat , the first session of Court convening 1833. 1890 Mr. West served as it’s first Mayor.

The Central of Georgia in 1846 , corporation headed by Samuel G. Ingersoll and associates was granted a charter to build a railroad. It ran from Ingersoll Hill into the town of Girard in the direction of Crawford.

Crockettsville, now known as Crawford, was made the Russell County seat, it was moved from Girard in 1842. It was moved to Seal, Alabama in 1868 from Crockettsville.

About Sandra W. Doolittle 14 Articles

Sandra shares her Glory Days. Her early years are a look into the history of our part of the world. Her High school days, the sock hops, the soda fountains, her friends and love of family. Join Sandra for an interesting read.

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