Thursday, November 24, 2016

ELIZABETH2 SIMMONS (JOHN R1) was born October 22, 1842 in Mississippi, and died November 07, 1917 in Geneva, Geneva Cty, Al.She married WILLIAM DUNCAN CAMPBELL December 10, 1867 in Pike County, Al, son of ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL and MARY Y?.
The following was told by Elizabeth Simmons Campbell abt 3 wks before her death on Nov 7, 1917.It was verified by John Register, a Baptist Preacher, son of Young Register.
       "The Yankee Raiders took Uncle Young Registerout of his house and was going to hang him in the old mulberry tree that is now standing behind my house, just becuase he was a southern man, and his wife, Aunt Margaret Campbell Register clung to him an dcut the ropes from him and saved his life.They (the yankees) took all the dishes they had and broke them up .I have heard Uncle Young and Aunt Margaret tell this many a time.They took out some more men in Oak Bluff Settlement and were going to hang them.They went to Ben Burses and took his dead wife's silk dresses and tore them up, and took all his corm and everything that he had.Took all the horses and mules away from the people, took all the negroes away.Never did get to our house, as we did not live on main road.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


by Robert Register

1757: Chisca Talofa is the only town in the area of present-day southeast Alabama located on
the 1757 Bonar Map (DeVorsey 1971). Swanton (1922) equated this with Yuchi-speaking
Hogologee indicated on earlier maps.

1761: Swanton(1922) lists a 1761 census figure of 30 for this town's population.

1764: John Stuart, British Indian agent for the Southern District, held a conference at St. Marks on September 13, 1764 which included leaders of Chisca Talofa located on the Chattahoochee above the fork.

1768: Pittman describes a crossing place for the Pensacola-St. Augustine trail on the river at the village of Ichiscatalonfa located on the west bank of the river, forty miles above the fork. (The 31st parallel [Alabama-Florida line] crosses the river 26.2 miles above the fork of the Chattahoochee and the Flint.)

1778: The Purcell map of the Pensacola-St. Augustine trail includes the notation Chisca Old Fields just north of Ekanachatte or Red Ground. This site was located by Boyd (1958) south of Irwin's Mill Creek adjacent to present-day Neal's Landing.

1799: Stephen Minor, Spanish commissioner during Ellicott's survey of the Southern Boundary of the United States,
names the village at the end of the compass line on the west bank of the Chattahoochee
as Chiscotofa or Clisteofa. The conflict which led to the survey being abandoned began
in this camp at the surveyor's observatory. This conflict was the beginning of the
unrelenting hostility of the Seminoles to the U.S.
In his Journal, Andrew Ellicott fails to mention that this international boundary line
between the U.S. & Spain cut Chisca Talofa in two. This was the only village along the
381 mile survey of the 31st latitude between the Mississippi and the Chattahoochee cut
in two by the first Southern Boundary of the U.S.
Here's a description of Chisca Talofa in August of 1799:

"Now from one side to the other of the river along almost the entire extent
of the road to this camp may be found Indian plantations of which may
be seen good fields of corn, rice, peas, beans, potatoes, melons,
watermelons, cucumber, etc., and most of them have chickens, pigs,
and cattle in abundance. Some of them have very good herds [along] with
Negro slaves, indicating to me that they live in reasonable comfort.
The river abounds with various delicious fish. All these details convince
me that white settlements in these areas would prosper greatly. I am sure
that on the eastern bank of the Mississippi there are no better lands on
which to raise cattle."
English translation of a letter from Stephen Minor to
Spanish West Florida Governor Gayoso (Minor to
Gayoso, August 5, 1799, Archivo General de Indias,
Papeles de Cuba, Seville, Legajo 2355)

Between July 25, 1799 and August 19, 1799, Ellicott made 44 observations of
seven stars to determine a mean latitude of 31 degrees 1' 9.4" for his observatory on the
west bank of the Chattahoochee. Ellicott laid off a line 7110.5 feet south and ended his
survey of the 31st parallel which established the present day boundaries shared by
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

1799: In October, William Augustus Bowles,
self-proclaimed Director General of the Nation
of Muskogee, returned to Wekiva, six miles north of the Florida line. He called a general
council of the Lower Creeks and Seminoles to distribute gunpowder and rum which
had been salvaged from the wreck of the British sloop Fox.
Here on the east bank of the
Chattahoochee just northeast of Chisca Talofa, Bowles reestablished his influence after
escaping from seven years of imprisonment by the Spanish.

1804: At Chisca Talofa on May 25, 1804, James Innerarity and William Hambly represented
John Forbes & Co. in negotiations for a land grant. The company sought this payment
from the Indians to counterbalance Bowles' destruction of the company's Wakulla store
and the tribe's accumulated debt. This deed of cession was signed by 24 chiefs and
ultimately deeded to John Forbes & Co. 1,200,000 acres east of the Apalachicola.
Under the terms of this pact, the company agreed to immediately open a store at
Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola near present-day Sumatra, Florida. This store
led to the later establishment of Nichol's British Fort, the Negro Fort and U.S. Fort
Gadsden near Prospect Bluff.
Click here to see a large map of the Forbes Purchase

1810: At Chisca Talofa on April 10, 1810, Edmund Doyle, principal agent of John Forbes & Co.
on the Apalachicola, and William Hambly, interpreter & representative of the
company, secured the cession of three more tracts of land that joined the original 1804
grant. This included St. Vincent Island. These Indians also ceded to John Forbes
personally an island in the Apalachicola River. This 9,811 acre island is known
today as Forbes Island.

1814: On August 9, 1814, the chief of Chisca Talofa was one of the Creek chiefs who signed
the Treaty of Ft. Jackson which ceded over 20 million acres of present-day Alabama
Georgia to the United States.

1816: At Chisca Talofa on April 17, 1816, William Hambly attempted to unite the Upper
Towns friendly to the Americans and the Lower Towns friendly to the British in an
attack upon the Negro Fort on Prospect Bluff. This meeting was a disaster and Hambly
was forced to flee.
The Negro Fort was destroyed by the U.S. Navy on July 27, 1816.
270 of the fort's occupants were killed instantly by a single explosion
of the fort's powder magazine. Captured British arms and supplies were
valued at not less that $200,000


1818: Captain Hugh Young, a soldier with General Jackson's U.S. Army, included
Chisca Talofa on a town list for the First Seminole War. It was listed as one of
four Seminole towns on the lower Chattahoochee. He estimated the population at
580 persons (65 warriors) under the halfbreed chief Yaholamico. He located the
town on the west bank of the Chattahoochee two miles above the Florida line.

CHATTAHOOCHEE did "not extend even to the top of the river bank
in the vicinity of this site[Chisca Talofa], consequently...had little chance
of identifying this site."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

So strange how things come together...
I was searching through a copy of CONFEDERATE VETERAN on the Internet while looking for information on one of my Great-Great Grandfather's Confederate service when I came across a story written by Pattie ( Mrs. Lafayette) Guild entitled JOURNEY TO AND FROM APPOMATTOX. Earlier this month we visited Appomattox for the first time and as I stood in the room where the surrender was signed, I had an overpowering impulse to learn more about Tuscaloosa's Dr. Lafayette Guild because I knew he had been at Appomattox in his capacity as General Lee's personal physician. Well, on October 25, 2016, I got my wish to know more about Dr. Lafayette Guild at Appomattox. I have shared Pattie Guild's story on my blog ZERO, NORTHWEST FLORIDA.


 The dear old army had passed away from me forever, and I had been through the Confederacy. It was the last week of the war. Gen. Lee’s army was camped near Petersburg, and I had been there all     winter, at Mrs. Richard Kidder Meade’s, to be near my husband, who was medical director of the Army of Northern Virginia and on Gen. Lee’s staff. Agnes Lee had been on a visit at Mrs. Meade’s, but left Saturday morning for Richmond. Sunday morning I was dressing for church, when my ambulance drove up to Mrs. Meade’s door, and old Wilson, my faithful old soldier driver who had always driven my ambulance, gave me a note from my husband saying: “The enemy are entering Richmond. I do not wish to leave you within their lines. Wilson will know where to take you.” I immediately put some necessary articles in a small trunk and had it put in the ambulance, got in, and Wilson drove off. All that day and all that night we drove and drove. I do not remember eating, but I do know I slept. Once in the night I awoke and heard sounds of sorrow, and was told that they were from Mrs. A. P. Hill’s ambulance, and that Gen. Hill had been killed just before our army left Peters burg.

Well, we went on and on. Occasionally I saw my husband, and other officers would ride up and say: “Mrs. Guild, we have no command; we will rally around your ambulance." Our poor soldiers would come to me and ask for food, and know I had none to give; but each day my husband, I suppose, would man— age to get me something to eat, for I was never hungry. Often on that march my husband or some other officer would ride up hurriedly and speak to old Wilson, and he would whip up the mules, and we would rush across fields in any direction. It would be because the enemy had cut our lines. Finally Col. Baldwin, of Gen. Lee’s staff, came to me and gave me fifty dollars in greenbacks—the first, I believe, I ever had. He said he did not know what would happen, and I might need it; but I was so young and thoughtless in those days I did not dream of danger or surrender. I was even happy on that dreadful march; everything was so strange. I was the only lady. My husband would often ride up to my ambulance and cheer me in every way he could. At last, one evening at sunset, my ambulance stopped, Wilson saying he had orders to halt. By and by several officers came up, and soon the baggage-wagons. My husband ordered his servant. Nathan, whom he had brought from the old plantation, and who had been with him through the war, to get out his best clothes. He and other officers dressed themselves in their best. I asked Dr. Guild why it was, and he replied that they might be captured, and wanted to make a good appearance. Then my husband went with me to a house near by. where I refreshed myself. Returning to the ambulance, I found all the officers lying around on the ground with their military cloaks thrown over their faces, asleep in the moonlight. It was a strange sight. I got in my ambulance, and was soon asleep myself. When I awoke it was daylight, and we were moving. Soon my husband came to me and said there might be a fight there, but that I was in no danger, and must not be frightened. He took me out of the ambulance and put me in a gully, barricaded it with wagons, and told old Wilson to keep the ambulance ready, so he could put me in it, and where to take me if certain things happened; but just then an officer rode up and said there was a house a mile off, and my husband put me in the ambulance and took me there. It was the home of Gen. Morton, and he made me welcome, and took me to a room on the first floor, where my husband bade me good-by and returned to Gen. Lee. He had hardly left me, when a body of our men and a party of the enemy met in a skirmish right in front of my room. When it was over I laid my hat, watch, and chain off, and went to bathe my face, just as my door was burst open and a Dutch soldier, with pistol in his hand, came in, cursing the Rebels. I said not a word, but quietly left the room. I found the whole house filled with soldiers. I saw an officer, and told him what had happened, and he instantly went with me. I found my watch and chain gone, but was too glad to escape with that to murmur. I heard that Gen. John Gibbon, who used to be a dear old army friend, was near, and I asked if I could send him a note. Immediately a man was sent with my little penciled note to Gen. Gibbon, and quickly a reply came, saying he would come to me; and he came even while I was reading his note, the same kind old friend. He put a safe guard around the house; but, notwithstanding that, the next morning a negro soldier came to my room, but, as they had always been my slaves, I did not feel afraid of him. I ordered him out, and he went. Our little Indian boy, Joe, whom we had since he was seven years old (then twelve), was with me. Then my husband came and told me of the surrender, and he broke completely down when he spoke of Gen Lee.

Well, we left Appomattox Courthouse. My ambulance followed Gen. Lee’s, which was empty, he riding with his staff and those of the army who went with him to Richmond. I shall never forget how, as Gen. Lee rode away from Appomattox the Union soldiers cheered and cheered him. He was grander to me on that sad march back to Richmond than he ever was after one of his great victories. Often on that march he would come to my ambulance early in the morning with a cup of coffee, depriving himself for the only woman who was on that sorrowful. hopeless march. We would all, from the highest officer to the humblest soldier, have given him our last drop of water or food, we loved him so; and on that march, when we would camp near a house, they would prepare their best for Gen. Lee; but he would sleep in his tent or on the ground with his staff, and say that I must go and have what was prepared for him. How provoked they must have felt to see a forlorn little woman, instead of Gen. Lee! When we reached Richmond we all separated. I never saw Gen. Lee again, but my husband went back to Richmond to see him; and now I feel sure they are not very far apart in heaven. And for' me,

Would those hours could come again, with their thorns and flowers!

 I would give the hopes of years for those bygone hours.

~Dr. Lafayette Guild was a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and a nephew of the late Judge Jo C. Guild, of Nashville, Tenn. When the great war broke out he was a surgeon in the U. S. Army and on duty in California. He resigned and went on to Richmond, Va., with Gen. A. S. Johnston, and became a surgeon in the Army of Northern Virginia. When Gen. Lee took command of the army he telegraphed: “Send me Dr. Lafayette Guild." Hie appointed him on his staff, and made him medical director of the Army of Northern Virginia. Gen. Lee was very fond of and confidential with Dr. Guild. His report to Gen. Lee of the battle of Gettysburg is a part of the commander’s official report in the “War Records.” After the war Dr. Guild commenced the practice of medicine in Mobile, Ala, in partnership with a brother of Admiral Raphael Semmes. He died, however, soon after going to Mobile.

The link to the article above

The room in Appomattox where the surrender took place.


Monday, October 10, 2016


Florida & Alabama
   No evidence indicates that anything was done about the boundary dispute between Tallahassee Meridian and the southern boundary of Covington County until Florida became a State on March 3, 1845.  After The first sales between the Alabama & Florida border were held in 1826 and 1827, there was a strip of country between them that had never been surveyed over which neither state exercised jurisdiction, designated neutral ground. It appears this land was held off the market when the other land was put up for auction in 1829 & 1830.
  On January 26, 1846 the Alabama General Assembly passed a resolution to settle the dispute with Florida. The Gov. of Alabama appointed James M. Calhoun as the Alabama Commissioner and the Gov. of Florida appointed James T. Archer, Florida's Secretary of State as their commissioner.
   The boundary was supposed to follow the 31st degree North latitude between the Perido and Chattahoochee rivers.
Calhoun and Archer thought  they knew the boundary between Al. and Fl.  Together they logically concluded and selected
the Ellicott line as the Official Alabama/Florida boundary. The commissioners apparently had no way of knowing that the Elliott line drifted South (east of the Conecuh River) for over one-half mile before returning to the 31st parallel near the Chattahoochee River,  so on that decision gave Alabama over 30,000 acres of Florida land. On Feb. 12, 1848 the Alabama General Assembly passed an act stating the Elliott line "shall be forever deemed and taken by the State of Alabama as the line on the thirty-first parallel of north latitude, and as the fixed and permanent line of boundary between the states last aforesaid."
    A resurveying to establish the exact location of Elliott's line fell upon the office of Surveyor General of Florida because the office of Surveyor General for Alabama was abolished in 1851. Thus, John Wescott, who on Oct. 22, 1853, contracted with Benjamin F. Whitner, Jr. to retrace Elliott's line.  He began on Nov. 7, 1853 and finished his survey at the Chattahoochee River on January 20, 1854. It was concluded that Calhoun & Archer's surveying was definitely incorrect.  It can also be concluded that survey's of Clements and Exum of 1826 were also inaccurate for no apparent reason.  In the end this had given Covington County over 10,000 acres, even though the land actually lies south of the 31st parallel, However at this time the Alabama & Florida boundary and the land dispute between Alabama & Florida was settled. Covington County started selling this land in March, 1858."

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Labor Day Weekend has always been the "END OF SUMMER" around my household so I couldn't allow the SUMMER OF '16 to end without a post concerning a summer that occurred 50 years ago: THE SUMMER OF '66.

For old ROBERTOREG, it was a pretty awe inspiring summer. I was 16, got my driver's license and finished my first summer on the staff of THE BOY SCOUT RESERVATION near New Brockton. Camp gave me an opportunity to stay away from Dothan for about six or seven weeks which was probably the greatest education a young, dumb and full of come teenager could get. I used my time there to get in good with the camp ranger. Daddy donated some tires for Mose Ramage's panel truck which his son, Gene, had donated to the camp and Daddy also got the old truck tuned up for the camp ranger. I'll never forget how that brought my status up with the camp ranger. From then on, I had FULL ACCESS to all the camp facilities and it stayed that way until 1969 when all hell broke loose after the chief Scout executive pocketed all the money the camp gained after it cut the timber for the new reservoir which the U.S. Army at Ft. Rucker had helped construct.(the story I heard was that the camp ranger punched the chief Scout executive out after the ranger found out about the theft so the summer of '69 was the end of ROBERTOREG at camp).

The music on the radio that summer was unbelievably superb and hearing those songs today instantly triggers memories: SUMMER IN THE CITY, GOOD LOVIN', WILD THING, DIRTY WATER, 634-5789, LAND OF A THOUSAND DANCES but one song stands out above all others. That song was DOUBLE SHOT OF MY BABY'S LOVE. The lyrics were a little naughty at the time and it got banned on some radio stations but that was the first song ever played on the radio that ROBERTOREG could totally identify with because a member of one of the bands that released it in the spring of '66 sat in front of me in 6th period study hall during the school year of '65-'66 at Dothan High. This guy was Glenn Griffin. He played keyboards for the K-Otics and he had a helluva time surviving Dothan High during his senior year because Brad Stephens, our principal, had it in for him because of his hair plus Glenn had a tough time staying awake in class on Mondays due to the exhausting schedule that the K-Otics booked each weekend.

 Jeff Lemlich of Limestone Records found where "Double Shot" by the K-Otics reached # 5 on Miami's WFUN chart on 4-22-66 and it reached # 8 on Miami's WQAM on 4-30-66.

Here are some links that tell the amazing story of DOUBLE SHOT.

From the article I wrote about THE OLD DUTCH published in PANAMA CITY LIVING back in 2013:

During the summer of ’65, a beach music classic was born on the dance floor of The Old Dutch. A band from South Alabama called the K-Otics were playing one week and during their breaks they visited the nearby Old Hickory where the Swingin’ Medallions were performing. The K-Otics loved “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” and asked the Medallions if they planned to record it. The Medallions said, ”No,” so the K-Otics laid plans to cut the record. Later in the fall, the Medallions had a change of heart and recorded “Double Shot”. Both the Swingin’ Medallions and the K-Otics released their versions in the spring of ’66. The K-Otics had a regional hit and the Medallions’ record went national and the rest is history. Bruce Springsteen called “Double Shot”, “the greatest fraternity rock song of all time.” Columnist Bob Greene called it “the ultimate get-drunk-and-throw-up song. You heard it in every juke box in every bar in the world.” In 1993, Louis Grizzard wrote, ”Even today, when I hear ‘Double Shot of My Baby’s Love’, it makes me want to stand outside in the hot sun with a milkshake cup full of beer in one hand and a slightly drenched coed in the other.”

A brief history of the founding of the Swingin' Medallions and the Pieces of Eight by Greg Haynes:
" The band was founded by John McElrath and Joe Morris
and the first SIX members were John, Joe, Carroll Bledsoe, Steve
Caldwell, Brent Fortson, and Cubby Culbertson
. Cubby was the first to leave
the Original Six and was replaced by Perrin Gleaton at guitar. The
Medallions then expanded to EIGHT with the addition of two more horn players
bringing the number of horns in the Eight man group to FIVE. Those
added horn players were Fred Pugh (Sax) and Rick Godwin(Trumpet)In 1965,
Gleaton, Pugh, and Godwin
left and were replaced by Charlie Webber, Jimbo
Doares, and Jimmy Perkins.
It was these EIGHT ( McElarth, Morris,
Bledsoe, Fortson, Caldwell, Perkins, Doares,& Webber
)who recorded Double Shot and are considered the original band. In 1967, Fortson and Caldwell
left and joined with a group from Raleigh, N.C. called The Tassles.
These talented performers consisting on Carlie Barbour (Guitar), Jim
Baumgartner (Bass) Mark Wrenn (Sax)Irvin Hicks (Drums) Wally Woods
(Keyboards) and Ken Helser (Trumpet and lead Vocalist)along with Fortson and
Caldwell were the Original Pieces of Eight.
It was very simple math:Two Medallions plus Six Tassles equal the
Pieces of Eight.
Meanwhile; the remaining Six Original Swingin' Medallions
got two more great saxophonists, Hack Bartley and Johnny Cox, and kept
right on SYWITUP
(Screaming, Yelling, and Whooping it Up)."

(back row left to right) *Charlie Webber-trumpet, vocals *Steve Caldwell-saxophone, vocals *Jimmy Perkins-saxophone, bass guitar, vocals *John McElrath-keyboards, vocals *Carroll Bledsoe-trumpet,vocals *Jim Doares-guitar, vocals (front row) *Brent Fortson-saxophone, flute, vocals *Joe Morris-drums, vocals

When Steve Caldwell and Brent Fortson formed the Pieces of Eight in 1967, they were replaced by Hack Bartley and Johnny Cox. Grainger (Brother) Hines was added to the band in late 1967, when Michael Huey became the Drummer

Lewis Grizzard wrote in a 1993 article that, "Even today, when I hear the Swingin' Medallions sing "Double Shot of My Baby's Love", , it makes me want to stand outside in the hot sun with a milkshake cup full of beer in one hand and a slightly-drenched nineteen-year-old coed in the other."

Monday, August 29, 2016

My G-Great Grandfather, J.Y. Register's death in August of 1872 is noted in the 1872 PROCEEDINGS OF THE MOST WORSHIPFUL GRAND LODGE OF ALABAMA. His Masonic Lodge was Geneva.
In the 1859 proceedings of the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church, John Y. Register is listed as a local preacher who was an elected and ordained elder.
1857-'58 MAIL ROUTES OF MY G-GREAT GRANDPA REGISTER ROUTE No. 7231. From Newton to Geneva, 30 miles, and back, once a week. Bidden*' names, Sum per annum. Stephen F. Gafford $594. Benjamin F. Price 425. W. H. Roberts 300. John F. Adams 219, schedule changed ; no guaranty. John Y. Register 170. °°°. Contract made with John Y. Register, April 25, 1857, to commence July 1, 1857, to expire June 30, 1858, at $170.00, per annum. Leave Newton Friday at 7 a, m. ; arrive at Geneva by 5 p. m. Leave Geneva Tuesday at 7 a. m. ; arrive at Newton by 5 p. m. (According to 1858 records, Grandpa Register was fined $9.78 for missing three round-trips- $1.63 per half-trip.)
In 1859, John Y. Register was fined on many of his routes: Route 7157~ Greenville to Andalusia ($375 annual contract) fined $1 on May 21 for WET MAIL Route 7184~ Daleville to Andalusia ($1500 annual contract) fined $22.04 for 12 instances of INFERIOR   SERVICE "ON ROUTE" in June
                   ~ fined $56.29 for 13 instances of  INFERIOR SERVICE "ON ROUTE" in July
Route 7215~ Elba to Greenville ($395 annual contract) fined 50 cents for "FAILED TO SUPPLY" Millville, Alabama on May 27
                      ~Fined $3.80 on March 1 when he failed to arrive at Greenville
                       ~Fined $3.80 on March 3 when he failed to arrive in Elba
Route 7188~ Abbeville to Big Creek ($248 annual contract) fined $2.38 for failing to arrive on October 27 Route 7192~ Troy to Newton ($650 annual contract) fined $7.86 for failing to arrive in Newton on October11, 18 and on November 12.
                  ~ fined $5.24 for failing to arrive in Troy on October 5 and 8
Route 7184

Suspended service that John Y. Register bid on for 1860-'61
ROUTE No. 7221. From Elba to Wardville, Florida, 75 miles, and back, one a week. Bidders' names. Sum per annum. John B. Edwards $1,298. 00. Stephen F. Gafford 980.00. Charles Stone 829. 00. John Y. Register 500. 00. (Suspended. )
ROUTE No. 7228. From Indigo Head to Buzbeeville, 10 miles, and back, once a week. Bidders' names. Sum per annum. John Y. Register $125. N.G.Powell 119. 00. (Not let. Unnecessary.)
ROUTE No. 7161. From Monticello to J. Y. Register not specified. Once a week ; mode not $432

In 1861, John Y. Register is listed as a FLORIDA MAIL CONTRACTOR who had a $238 contract but had been paid only $130 for ROUTE No. 6568

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Johnny Mack Brown: From Gridiron Hero to Hollywood Hero

"Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they'll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams." ~ Aunt May in Spiderman II

"In Hollywood - in Hollywood, you're as good as your last picture." ~ Erich Von Stroheim

 Fight on, fight on, fight on men!
Remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then.
Go, roll to victory, Hit your stride,
You're Dixie's football pride,
Crimson Tide!

 Before every BAMA game and after every BAMA score, we hear the tune of YEA, ALABAMA and most of us sing along. The lyrics, often sung by heart by even toddlers, refer to the day BAMA won its first national championship: January 1, 1926. Almost 90 years have passed since the heroics of Alabama's first championship team in the Rose Bowl established BAMA as a national power so memories of the 1925 squad are slowly fading from popular culture. As the 2013 BAMA team attempts to make college football history once more by winning three national championships in a row, it might be appropriate to remind THE CRIMSON NATION of how "Dixie's Football Pride" was able to first find it's way into the center of the national spotlight.

BAMA's football fortunes turned on a single immortal play that Friday afternoon so long ago when the Tide went ahead of Washington 14-12 on a third quarter Grant Gillis’ touchdown pass that was caught by Johnny Mack Brown. Up to that point in time, Gillis' 59-yard pass was the longest in Rose Bowl history and one of the longest in the entire history of American football- college or pro. In his souvenir book of the 1926 Rose Bowl, THE WILL TO WIN, Champ Pickens called the Gillis pass "the longest ever thrown." After the 20-19 BAMA victory, Johnny Mack, who had caught two touchdown passes and made a game winning tackle on the last play of the game, was declared the game's Most Valuable Player and the wheels of progress began to turn for this gridiron hero, rolling him along a path in life that would see him become a Hollywood hero.

So how does a little barefooted boy who grew up playing in the dusty streets of Dothan get himself out of the Piney Woods of the Wiregrass and up on Hollywood's silver screen? It's an amazing story and without the help of some loyal Crimson Tide fans, it never would have happened.
When Johnny Mack Brown graduated from Dothan High in 1922, Southeast Alabama football had about as much status in the Gulf South as CRIMSON TIDE football had on the national scene. It was completely irrelevant. Southeast Alabama football was just as irrelevant in our region as BAMA football was irrelevant to the entire nation.

Johnny Mack Brown was one of the first Southeast Alabama players to ever be named to the All-State team much less get a football scholarship to BAMA.  In these first thirty years of its existence, the BAMA team had never won a single championship in any league and only one player in its entire history had made All American: Bully Van de Graaff in 1915.  Johnny Mack Brown would have a tremendous impact upon changing not only the regional perception of Southeast Alabama football but also the national perception of BAMA football.

In February of 1926 a reporter for the DOTHAN EAGLE wrote that Johnny Mack Brown "is credited with doing more to advertise Dothan than any other individual." The same could be said about Brown's impact upon the nation's recognition of University of Alabama football. When the 22-man BAMA squad arrived at its hotel in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, the chairman of the selection committee greeted Coach Wade and told him that until Alabama Governor Brandon sent them a telegram urging them to consider Alabama they'd "never heard of your team." Johnny Mack explained the importance of the game years later when he said, "We were the first Southern team ever invited to participate. We were supposed to be kind of lazy down South- full of hookworm and all. Nevertheless, we came out here and beat one of the finest teams in the country, making it a kind of historic event for Southern football. We didn't play for Alabama, but for the whole South."

After Bama's victory, Ed Danforth of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION wrote, "The South will outdo itself in welcoming Mack Brown home. It should. He has written DIXIE all over California."
A Chinese philosopher once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For Johnny Mack Brown, it may be said that his personal journey to California began on Saturday, November 7, 1925, at Rickwood Field in Birmingham when he met actor George Fawcett who had been allowed to sit on the BAMA bench during the Kentucky game along with other Hollywood actors who were in town to make a film called MEN OF STEEL.  Fawcett told Brown, ”You ought to come to Hollywood, son, and have a try at pictures.”
Johnny Mack and the Alabama team got a step closer to California the next Friday night at the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery. It was the evening before Saturday’s game with Florida in Cramton Bowl. Coach Wallace Wade was in his hotel room when Champ Pickens came in for a visit. Champ had no official title but in 1925 this sports agent, promoter and advertising man acted as the Tide’s one-man athletic director, recruiting coordinator and sports information officer. Champ said, “Wallace, let’s go to the Rose Bowl.”
Wade’s reply was two words: “Let’s do.”
Champ described what happened next in his 1956 autobiography, A REBEL IN SPORTS:
“I knew he thought I was joking, but I grabbed ahold of the old phone hanging on the wall, and put in a call to Governor Brandon, an old friend. (ed. Note: Champ had been elected Alabama State Representative from Sumter County in 1922 after promising Budweiser’s August Busch that he would get elected so he could change Alabama’s Prohibition laws so Bud could sell their “near-beer” Bevo. Champ failed to get the law changed.)
‘Bill,’ I said, when I finally reached him, ‘I want to send a wire and sign your name to it.’
Without even asking for an explanation, he said, ‘Go right ahead, Champ.’
‘Don’t you want to know what it’s all about?’ I asked.
The governor only chuckled.
‘Forget the details,’ he said, ‘and lots of luck.’
I phoned Western Union that night and dictated the following message: ‘Speaking unofficially and without knowledge of the University of Alabama authorities, I want to call your attention to the Crimson Tide’s great football record this year. Alabama plays Florida tomorrow for the championship. Please watch for score. If you are interested in a real opponent for your West Coast team, then give Alabama serious consideration.’
It was signed W.W. Brandon, Governor of Alabama, and addressed to the chairman of the Tournament of Roses Committee, Pasadena, California.
Champ could not have had better timing. November of 1925 was the turning point for college football as well as for professional football in America. Suddenly, with Red Grange playing his last college game at Illinois and going pro, the word football was being spelled with the letters M-O-N-E-Y. College presidents and editors across the country were spilling all the ink they could get writing opinion pieces about how the commercialization of the sport threatened “Mom, Apple Pie and The American Way.” The cultural phenomena of “Red Grange” had made an invitation to the Rose Bowl “politically incorrect” but there was a big crowd of Crimson Tide supporters around Tuscaloosa ready to take advantage of this new opportunity brought on by the self- righteous academic attacks on college football coming from the Ivy League campuses.
BAMA had drawn a winning hand and all they had to do was take care of Florida and Georgia. Florida fell 34-0 in Cramton Bowl on November 14 and Thanksgiving Day saw Georgia collapse 27-0 in Rickwood Field. As the train returning the team to Tuscaloosa pulled out of Birmingham Terminal Station that evening, everything was coming up ROSES for the Crimson Tide but when the professional football contracts promising thousands emerged on the ride back to T-town, the celebration by the new Southern League champs with hopes of a Rose Bowl bid was replaced by the somber tones of a serious business discussion inside Coach Wade’s rail car.
Years later, in 1929, an enterprising sports writer intent upon helping Johnny Mack’s movie career wrote a wire service article using the headline, GRIDDER, LOYAL TO ALMA MATER, GETS MOVIE JOB. The article, which also ran with the headline GRID STAR TURNED DOWN $5000 BUT PICKED UP JOB IN MOVIES, went on to describe how Johnny Mack Brown’s loyalty to BAMA caused him to refuse to sign a pro contract on the train coming back from Birmingham that night after BAMA’s 1925 Thankgiving victory over Georgia. In the story, Johnny Mack turned down a contract to play five games for $5000 for a team of barn-stormers selected to play against a Red Grange led professional team. The story has a Hollywood ending with Johnny Mack sacrificing the money in order to play in the Rose Bowl and returns home to spend the summer selling insurance, not knowing that soon his name would be up in lights and he’d have a successful career on the screen. This story is probably apocryphal, however, there’s no doubt that big money was being promised on the train that night from none other than Champagne-Urbana, Illinois, theater owner C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle, owner of Red Grange’s All-Stars.
A far more accurate picture comes from Champ Pickens’ autobiography:
“No matter where I was or what I was doing, I kept an eagle eye on the football fortunes at Tuscaloosa. One season, right in the midst of a successful campaign, a big-time sports promoter, Charlie Pyle, hit the Alabama campus with a bundle of greenbacks and tried to lure Pooley Hubert away to join Red Grange’s All Stars. When I heard of this attempted piracy, I got ahold of Pyle and promised him a compromise. We arranged a meeting in a New York hotel room.
‘Charlie,’ I said, ‘I’ll see that Pooley (ed. Note: quarterback of the ’25 BAMA squad) signs with you for a post-season coast-to-coast tour if you will wait until the college season is over.’
‘All right,’ said Charlie, ‘But when BAMA finishes its season you agree to see that he comes with the All-Stars.’ ”
Champ successfully negotiated a contract that promised Pooley Hubert $5000 for ten games and Hubert went on to play the next year with the All-Stars.
One of the reasons Johnny Mack did not pursue a professional contract was due to the fact that he was getting married and he really did have dreams of making it in Hollywood. There are many unsubstantiated stories that Johnny Mack made a screen test during Bama’s 1926 Rose Bowl trip. There probably was no screen test made in Hollywood but what literally amounted to a screen test was the film of Johnny Mack and the teams’ return to campus in which it was very obvious that the motion picture camera was very kind to a 21 year old Johnny Mack Brown.
Again, we find the evidence for this is in Champ Pickens’ A REBEL IN SPORTS:
“Movies of the Rose Bowl Game were taken, and, as a means of recruiting new students, we showed them in hamlets, towns and cities throughout the state. We always closed by saying, ‘Come to the University of Alabama.’
Johnny Mack Brown, a regular big buster of a guy, with the profile of a matinee idol, stood out in the film. He photographed particularly well. One night, at a showing I thought particularly well. One night, at a showing, I thought to myself,  ‘That big, handsome lug ought to be in Hollywood.’
Johnny was earning outside money for school by selling insurance. I went to him and told him about my plan to get him in the movies. I’d be his agent. He agreed and we got on a train and headed for Southern California. (ed. Note: This was BAMA’s 1927 Rose Bowl trip where the team fought Stanford to a 7-7 tie and Johnny Mack served as backfield coach.)
Johnny’s screen test was a smash hit. They offered us a five-year contract, with options. I told him to sign. They put him in Westerns and he’s been making pictures since. How he could remember his lines I will never know. His memory was terrible. They called him ‘Dumb Dumb’ at Tuscaloosa because he had a hard time remembering football signals. Coach Wallace Wade, in fact, had to install the huddle system for Johnny’s benefit.
Once he got his signals straight, however, it was a case of Mr. Brown doing it up brown.
He needed no script to score touchdowns.”
Now, thanks to Champ Pickens, we all know “the rest of the story.”

SID SEGLER: "Robert, you may have seen this before, but just in case I'll comment on Johnny Mack again. Johnny Mack's Aunt Ada was the wife of Troy Lewis who ran the men's clothing store on N. Foster Street (I worked there part time over Christmas in the 11th and 12th grades.) My aunt, dad's youngest sister Mattie, rented her and my Uncle LeRoy Peacock's apartment in back of Troy and Ada's house. When I was in the 5th and 6th grades, she would call me when she found out that Johnny Mack was coming to Dothan to visit his aunt and uncle, then would come get me out of Highland school to spend some time with Johnny Mack Brown! BTW, she was in Johnny Mack's DHS class! Of course, I felt like a real wheel getting to spend time in person with a Hollywood star! Great memories for me!"

Champ Pickens: The Man Who Sold JMB To Hollywood

JMB in front of Dothan High. Miss Pelham is on the left.

The Brown's shoe store in Dothan.

JMB with is younger brother, David. (picture from THE GARGOYLE)

JMB in silent movies

from JMB comic book

Recently restored house built by JMB in Beverly Hills

Corolla picture

First spotted by Hollywood on the sidelines of the Bama-Kentucky game in B'ham
JMB and his wife. She was a Foster from Tuscaloosa

Corolla picture

Corolla picture
Corolla picture

 l. to r.: Leslie Howard, Will Rogers, Carole Lombard, Spencer Tracy, JMB













 VICTOR HUGO FRIEDMAN: Tuscaloosa businessman and the benefactor of the ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE during their rise to their FIRST NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.