Saturday, July 19, 2003

Please send all suggestions and other unwanted comments to

Gonna work something up here for an old buddy, Bryan Wheeler, drummer for The Locust Fork Band/Decoys/Dixie Flyers/Topper Price and the Upsetters/Shirley and Waynes Supper Club in Gulf Shores. Bryan passed away recently in a hospital in Foley at the age of 54. In March of '78, Bryan's band, Locust Fork, recorded a song written by Bill Marshall, entitled Tuscaloosa. It was sung on Locust Fork's album Playing Possum by another old buddy, Dwight Williams.

Here are the lyrics to the Locust Fork song, Tuscaloosa :

Whispering valley in the Moonlight
Lakes and grazing grass
Like river wine and steadily
Through tornado pass
Faded by the water
Picking flowers as you grow
Young girls by the hour
Living seems so slow


Indian Hills
If ya want a never never land
And I guess they always will
Black Warrior in the pines
Southern lady on my mind
(end chorus)

Well, you've seen so many changes
Yet you never seem to change
Just a home for the nameless
Heaven for the strange


Come sit down beside me
Tell me all you know
Tell of the secrets
In the rivers flow.


Ladies in the springtime
Walking in the rain
Blown by the winter winds
Leaving as they came
Others take your shelter
Thinking never to grow old
It's a secret of the river
Known but never told

Indian hills
If you want a never never land
And I guess they always will
Black Warrior in the pines

Finally found a way to get Bryan Wheeler's pictures on the Web. Nedra Innerarity Creamer invited me to belong to her family website so I downloaded them on to it and then brought them back to my blog. What is so strange is that as soon as I finished putting my Forbes Purchase stuff on the blog, I got an email from an Innerarity!!!! JAMES INNERARITY NEGOTIATED THE FORBES PURCHASE!!! straaaaaange!!?
This photo really needs to be cleaned up so if any of ya'll can do it, take a crack at it. These are the first two images I have ever placed on the Web. They are dedicated to the family of my friend, Bryan Wheeler.

Bryan Taylor Wheeler

Mr. Bryan Taylor Wheeler--Age 54. A native and former resident of Mobile died Wednesday at a hospital in Foley after becoming ill at his home in Orange Beach. Mr. Wheeler was a graduate of Murphy High School and Marion Military Institute. He was a drummer for the Group Locust Fork as well as other local bands. He was also a featured performer for many years at Shirley & Waynes Supper Club in Gulf Shores. He is survived by one son, Taylor Wheeler of Denver; his parents, Hal and Doris Wheeler of Mobile; one brother, Hap Wheeler of Orange Beach; other relatives and friends. Funeral services will be held from the graveside on Saturday, July 5, 2003 at 2 p.m. Interment will be in Pine Crest Cemetery. Arrangements by PINE CREST FUNERAL HOME, 1939 Dauphin Island Pkwy., Mobile, AL 36605. 251/478-5227.
Published in the Mobile Register on 7/5/2003.

Richard Keith Call (1792-1862) served as Florida's third and fifth territorial governor during the 1830s and 1840s. Born in Virginia and educated in Tennessee, Call served in the Creek War and became and aide and protegee of Andrew Jackson. He later served with Jackson in Florida, and returned to the territory in the early 1820s to assist in the establishment of a new American territorial government.

Call would sit in the state legislative council and as Florida's delegate to Congress. He also was a brigadier general in the state militia and in 1836 became territorial governor. While governor, Call commanded troops in the Second Seminole War. He was dismissed as governor as a result of conflicts with the Van Buren administration, but he was re-appointed governor in 1841. Defeated for governor in 1845, he would not again hold public office.

Call frequently changed his political affiliations, being in turn a Democrat, Whig, Know-Nothing, and Constitutional Unionist. As the country lurched toward Civil War in the late 1850s and early 1860s, he remained an ardent Unionist. Though no supporter of the Republican Party, Call opposed secession in the weeks after Lincoln's election and published a pamphlet entitled An Address to the People of Florida from General R.K. Call in which he labeled disunion "'high treason against our constitutional government.'" Call sent a copy of his pamphlet to Edward Everett, a noted northern orator who had unsuccessfully run as vice-president on the Constitutional Union ticket in the election of 1860. In Everett's reply, reproduced here, he thanked Call for the pamphlet and suggested that the U.S. Congress, in an effort to prevent Civil War, might provide Lieutenant General Winfield Scott with dictatorial powers for six months.

Following Florida's withdrawal from the Union in early January 1861, secessionists taunted Call: "'Well, Governor, . . . we have done it!'"

Call replied prophetically, "'And what have you done? . . . You have opened the gates of Hell, from which shall flow the curses of the damned which shall sink you to perdition!'"(1)

The pink area on the map below covers the 1.2 acres of the Forbes Purchase. The green indicates other land deeded to Forbes by the Spanish which was overturned by the Florida courts. Both these grants cover the entire coast from East Point in Destin to St. Marks below Tallahassee.

I'm gonna be working on two important anniversaries in the coming weeks.

August 31, 2003, marks the 200th anniversary of A Treaty of Demarcation and Cession, Between the United States of America and the Choctaw tribe of Indians. This treaty, signed at Hoe-buck-in-too-pa (St. Stephens) ratified the boundary line surveyed in the summer of 1803 by General James Wilkinson, Mingo Poos Coos and Alatala Hooma. This was the first American property survey of any land in present-day Alabama and it represents the advent of the total extinguishment of all Indian title to land within the boundaries of the state.

This line of demarcation between the U.S. and the Choctaw Nation began, on the west, in the middle of the channel of the Wax River at the point that Ellicott's Line (first U.S. Southern Boundary- 31st parallel) crosses the river; thence up the channel to the confluence of the Chickasawhay and the Buckatannee; thence up the channel of the Buckatannee to Red Creek; thence up Red Creek to a pine tree on the left bank blazed on two sides, about 12 links southwest of the old trading path from Mobile to Hewhannee Towns: thence along the old British line of partition( the Choctaw-British Treaty of 1765) to a mulberry post on the right bank of the main branch of Snake Creek;thence down Snake Creek to the Tombigbee and then the Mobile River until it reaches Ellicott's Line at the present day Barry Steam Plant east of Ellicott's Stone.

The other anniversary will occur on May 25, 2004. This will mark the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Forbes Purchase at Chiskatalofa, an Indian village located around Ellicott Mound #381 near the point where Alabama, Florida and Georgia intersect on the west bank of the Chattahoochee. This deed of cession of 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola River to John Forbes & Co. began an entire series of treaties where Indians paid their debts with the only thing they possessed, their land. Since John Forbes moved to his sugar plantation, Canimar, in Matanzas Province, Cuba in 1817, many of the business transactions and lawsuits associated with the Forbes Purchase occurred in Cuba. When Forbes died in 1823, his son-in-law,Francisco Dalcourt(husband to Forbes' daughter, Sophia) was appointed executor of Forbes's estate in Cuba. Money from the sale of the Forbes Purchase became tied up in a series of lawsuits filed in New Orleans and Matanzas by those claiming to be owed money by the Forbes's estate. Litigation over the property granted to John Forbes by the Indians at Chiskatalofa in 1804 remained in the courts until 1923, a century after Forbes had died, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that submerged land granted by the Forbes Purchase was owned by the State of Florida.

After being appointed Receiver of Pubic Monies in the General Land Office in 1825, Richard Keith Call sailed to Havana to examine the original Forbes Purchase documents . From then on, Call argued to overturn the Forbes's Purchase. According Coker and Watson:

At Call's urging, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed hearing the case until 1835. In the interim, the government sent Jeremy Robinson to Havana to obtain documents to support the government's arguments. Fully briefed by Call, Robinson spent two years in Havana locating and identifying documents, but he died in 1834 before any of these papers were sent to Washington. Nicholas Philip Trist succeeded Robinson and uncovered forty-five documents in Havana, which the Supreme Court refused to admit as evidence.

This was Justice Marshall's last case and he upheld as perfectly legal the Forbes Purchase land grant.

For now, this will be my last installment from Commercial Cuba:

page 160-161

....,these official declarations of the law as it stands have hitherto not been worth the paper they are printed on, having been liable at any moment or in any particular case to be set aside by the mere fiat of the Captain-General, besides having been habitually disregarded by judges who were always subservient to the executive administration, were often corrupt on account of personal or pecuniary considerations, and were not seldom densely ignorant of even the rudiments of jurisprudence, These codifications, therefore, never having been boldly and righteously administered, have not taken firm hold of the popular imagination. The great mass of the people still think out and argue their cases in terms of the older and better-understood customary law, so that it is difficult to say whether it would be more equitable to enforce rigidly the codifications from the first, or whether a period of preparation under the present happy-go- lucky system should precede the enforcement of statutory enactments which have only been partiallly operative. Of course, following legal precedents elsewhere, it is to be presumed that existing laws of some kind must be applied until supplanted by the new enactments of the future governing power of Cuba. Meanwhile, military tribunals may be expected to administer temporarily either customary or statutory law, or a mixture of the two, setting aside such of their provisions as would come in direct conflict with the authority of the United States or be greatly at variance with principles of its Constitution, or with sound public policy.

It can,however, be safely asserted that the burdensome conditions of the present Spanish law will prevail in ordinary commercial transactions until supplanted by something better; hence it will be wise for those contemplating immediate commercial investments on the island to seek the counsel of able Cuban attorneys on every matter contemplated. This should be especially the case in regard to all real estate transactions; for, under the present laws. a heavy transfer tax is imposed on somewhat the same theory as the inheritance tax in certain of our States, while there are other complications not so easily understood. These facts naturally making transfers infrequent, will also undoubtedly tend later to bring about a simplification of the making of abstracts of titles back to original Spanish grants, which will unquestionably be held as valid by whatever courts have future jurisdiction in such matters.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Found a couple of gems on surveying and title determination in Commercial Cuba:

page 166-167

The greatest difficulty which will be encountered in the purchase of real estate in Cuba is the uncertainty and unreliability of existing surveys, in spite of the existence of elaborate maps which seem to prove the contrary. This unfortunate situation exists with city lots and mining claims as well as in the less serious question of boundaries between farms and plantations, while, in the wilder portions of the island, timber and similar lands are exceedingly difficult to locate with any degree of certainty.
Real estate records have been kept by notaries public for a fixed term of years, and then turned over to the custody of local registry offices. The contents of these registries are now said to be claimed by the Spanish as part of the archives which they intend to take with them to Spain. If, upon the withdrawal of Spanish govermental authority, permission is given to remove official records of this character, it is apparent that serious complications may hereafter arise as to abstracting and determining titles. No doubt the future permanent government of Cuba will provide legal methods for overcoming the embarrassments which are liable to surround real estate transactions from the causes recited; yet, until such action is taken, no one should proceed in such matters without the best local legal advice, and without giving the most careful attention to the location of boundaries. It should be said, however, that if the records remain available, the abstracting of titles will be a comparatively simple matter, as the whole tendency of the past has been for titles to real property to remain continuously in the same families.

Here is Col. A. S. Rowan's description of the popular divisions of the island in 1898:

Popularly the Island is divided into four regions, known respectrively as the Vuelta Abajo(lower turn), Vuelta Arriba(the upper turn), Las Cinco Villas(the five towns), and the Tierra Adentro(the interior Country).
From the meridian of Havana to Cape San Antonio lies the Vuelta Abajo. This is again popularly subdivided by giving the name of Los Partidos de Fuera(the outlying districts), or simply Los Partidos, to the part between the meridian of Havana and that of San Cristobal in Pinar del Rio.
From the meridian of Havana eastward to that of Santa Clara lies the Vuelta Arriba.
From the meridian of Santa Clara to that of Puerto Principe, or even as far east as Holguin, the term Las Cinco Villas is now applied(formerly called La Cuatro Villas, the four towns, from the four towns of Trinidad, Remedios, Sancti Espiritu and Santa Clara). The new designation is taken from the juridictiions of Sagua, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Remedios, and Cienfuegos; but the original "five towns" have since been elevated to the rank of cities.
The Tierra Adentro(the interior) may be roughly defined as lying between the meridian of Caibarian and the extreme eastern point of the island.
It will be seen that there is frequently an overlap in the limits of these popular divisions, but this is of no definite importance. It is extremely convenient,however, to be familiar with these designations, as they are referred to constatntly in writings and in conversation.

Found a new book, Commercial Cuba- A Book for Business Men, which really has me wired and inspired. Written by William J. Clark and published in 1898 this guide to commerce on the island is filled with guides, maps and city directories. I really like the introduction by E. Sherman Gould so I am including the end of his introduction to the book:

But we are now entering upon the far vaster task of reconstruction, and for this mere feeling and sentiment do not suffice. Nothing but cold facts and level-headedness will enable us to achieve success in this work. An enormous field is about to be thrown open to American enterprise, and it is of great significance that we should know as much as possible of the conditions with which we are to be confronted. American influences and American ideas are destined to prevail all over the island, to arouse it from its dismal lethargy, and to take its long-buried talent from the napkin and give it to the exchanges. This work of redemption will bring us into close contact with a people whose characteristics are the antitheses of our own. While holding fast and unwaveringly to those grand attributes which have made the English-speaking race the hope and promise of civilization and true progress the world over, it is our duty to study and respect the national idiosyncrasies of the less earnest and forceful people among whom we are to come as leaders and guides, in order that our leadership and guidance may allure, rather than repel, those over whom they extend.
I trust that the present volume may be helpful to this end; if so, it will be a source of gratification to me to hope that I mayhave, in some slight degree, added to its usefulness.
E. Sherman Gould
Yonkers, N.Y.
September 14, 1898

Monday, July 14, 2003

Here I stand near Nickajack where Alabama,Georgia and Tennessee intersect. Please send all suggestions and other unwanted comments to

Muchas gracias a mi buen amigo, babbs, para el t-shirt. Git yur skypilotclub t-shirt @

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Stern laws forbid the operation of houses of prostitution. Havana, however, is full of them. One enterprising Spanish madam developed the lushest bordello in town on the policy of offering the facilities of the house gratis to deserving government officials.

In short, the law books would seem to tag Havana as a "closed town." The fact is that anyone can run the gamut, from "French movies" to girlie shows to reefer parties, in this Caribbean playground.

Cynical Cubans declare that the sugar trade keeps them alive but the tourist dollar makes life worth living. Havana is indeed geared to the tourist trade as are few other capital cities in the world. It's a huckstering holiday town with one main pitch: Come on, you thousands of Americans, throw off your inhibitions and play in an old Spanish city which never heard of the bourgeois squeamishness of American play lands! There's something for every taste and every pocketbook!
FOR A LONG TIME, Havana has enjoyed the reputation of being the sexiest city in the Western hemisphere. To nearly everyone–and Americans especially–her main commodities have been rum, cigars and women.

But the Americano expecting to find the ultimate in wickedness in Havana will be disappointed in at least one respect. The famed capital of Latin vice has only one burlesque house. It is the Shanghai Theater, located appropriately enough in Chinatown, among the narrow, winding streets of old Havana.

But if it's small in numbers, Cuban burlesque more than makes up for it in punch. There is probably nothing–including the rawest of Parisian shows–that is quite as raw as the peculiar combination of blackout skits, sexy dances and stag movies that make up the Shanghai bill.

Girls of all nationalities, shapes and sizes work in the Shanghai. In many numbers, girls remove costumes behind props like cardboard bunnies and then step forward.

There have been other burley houses in the city, but over the years they have succumbed to the onslaught of the law. The Shanghai, however, continues to operate and pack ‘em in every night as it has for the past 24 years.