Saturday, November 24, 2012


This is a corrected version of the obituary of Eugene Dobson, Sr., originally written by his son, Eugene Dobson, Jr., and me, his granddaughter. An earlier version appeared in several newspapers (Dumas Clarion, McGehee-Dermott Times News, Pine Bluff Commercial, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Tuscaloosa (AL) News). 

Eugene Dobson was born August 24, 1904, at Arkansas Post, Arkansas, the youngest of five children of David Erastus Dobson and Minnie Laura Wood Dobson, originally of Mauckport, Indiana. He grew up in and around Arkansas Post and Watson, AR. As a young man, he ran his father's general merchandise store in Watson. He briefly attended business school in New Orleans with his brother Harry about 1924. On Nov. 20, 1925, he married Lois Elizabeth Peacock in her parent's home in Tillar. During the 1927 flood of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, they lived five weeks in a pitched tent on the rooftop of his father's store.

Gene Dobson worked, among other occupations, as a beekeeper, mechanic, prison warden, and as an ice delivery man until electricity came to Watson in the 1940s. He also played the C melody saxophone. He moved with his wife and their son, Gene, Jr., to Pine Bluff, AR, in 1950 and became a master machinist.

After the death of his wife in 1972, he moved back to Watson, and the house he had built of cypress decades earlier. He served a term as mayor, traveled the American southwest, and wrote articles for the Desha County Arkansas Historical Society. In the mid 1980s, he worked almost single-handedly to get the church bell restored to the Watson Methodist Church. He hunted and fished as often as he could with his good friend Bobby Willis and was well known for his excellent cooking. Gene Dobson lived an active and independent life until his death.

He died Saturday, May 6, 2000, at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is survived by his son, Eugene Dobson, Jr., of Tuscaloosa, and his grandchildren, Rachel Dobson and William Tucker Dobson of Tuscaloosa, and David Eugene Dobson of San Francisco, California. He was buried May 11 in a graveside service at the Tillar Cemetery, Tillar, Arkansas. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to Hospice of West Alabama, 1800 McFarland Boulevard North, Tuscaloosa, AL 35406.

Monday, October 8, 2012


COLUMBUS, GA. -- Daisy Snellgrove Tucker, age 96, resident of Columbus, Ga., died on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at her residence. Memorial services will be 11 a.m. today, May 22, 2009, at First Baptist Church with Reverend (Dr.) Jimmy Elder officiating and Striffler-Hamby Mortuary of Columbus, Ga. directing. Private interment will be held at Parkhill Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall after the funeral service.

Mrs. Tucker was born December 11, 1912, in Pinckard, Alabama, daughter of the late Jessie Frances Bryant Snellgrove and LaFayette Snellgrove. She was the widow of William Clifford Tucker, Sr., editor of the Columbus Enquirer, who died in 1961. Mrs. Tucker graduated with honors from Columbus Industrial High School in 1931. Upon graduation, she entered the Columbus City Hospital School of Nursing, and later served as night supervisor of the Emergency Room. She was also a Red Cross Nurse working in the Blood Bank during World War II.

In 1952, she accepted a position as Chief Librarian and Head of Research for the Ledger-Enquirer newspapers and attended special courses on library systems in newspapers workshops in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Toronto. She became a member of the Special Libraries Association and made presentations in Pittsburgh on techniques of newspaper research. Upon retirement in 1975, she acted as consultant for the Knight-Ridder newspapers in Lexington, Kentucky; Pasadena, California; and Gary, Indiana. During the 1950s, Mrs. Tucker enrolled in the University of Georgia Off-campus System in Columbus and took courses until the 1970s at what eventually became Columbus State University. In 1958 she became a member of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. She, as well as her husband, W.C. Tucker, Sr., for whom the university's Tucker Building was named, strongly supported the establishment of the university.

At this time, Mrs. Tucker also wrote a series of articles on mental health published in The Enquirer titled "Minds in Darkness." The series was distributed in booklet form to the Muscogee County Schools and, as a result, Mrs. Tucker became the recipient of the Cup of Hope Award in 1958, given each year by the Georgia Mental Health Association to one who has worked to improve the condition of the emotionally disturbed and mentally ill. This series along with the editorial support by the newspaper resulted in The Enquirer's winning the Bell Award given by the National Institute of Mental Health, the first time the award had ever been won by a newspaper in the South. As a result of this pioneering research, Mrs. Tucker was appointed by Governor George Vandiver in 1959 to a newly formed committee on mental institutions. The purpose of the committee was to inspect state hospitals and to recommend needed changes. She also served as president of the Muscogee Mental Health Association and Director of the Georgia State Mental Health Association and the Muscogee County Red Cross.

During her years as newspaper librarian, Mrs. Tucker edited a book review section, as well as a Civil War page featuring stories from 1861-1865. Mrs. Tucker also wrote a weekly humor column for The Enquirer and contributed stories to the Ledger-Enquirer Sunday MagazineMrs. Tucker was a member of the George Walton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the First Baptist Church of Columbus where she taught Sunday School for over 40 years. She was also a former member of the Wynnton Study Club. She was listed in Who's Who of American Women in 1965 and in Who's Who in the South and Southwest in 1967.

Survivors include her daughter, Frances Tucker of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; her son, William Clifford Tucker, Jr., of Columbus, Ga.; granddaughter, Rachel Dobson of Tuscaloosa; and grandsons, David Eugene Dobson of San Francisco, Calif. and William Tucker Dobson of Fairhope, Alabama and his wife Terry; a great-granddaughter, Rachel Lee Dobson; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church, Columbus State University, Columbus Hospice, St. Luke Methodist Church Respite Care, and Alzheimer's Association, Georgia Chapter.

(Written by Daisy S. Tucker, Frances Tucker, and W. Cliff Tucker Jr.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Campaign Season with Grandma

It is during presidential campaign seasons, and especially around Democratic Conventions that some of my favorite memories of my maternal grandmother come up. After Richard Nixon so brazenly betrayed his office, she never voted for another Republican. She campaigned in the snow and ice for Jimmy Carter in New Hampshire during the 1979 primary. She was so proud when she discovered that Bill Clinton was her 3rd cousin (once removed). She liked to point out that his white shock of hair and ruddy complexion were just like their mutual ancestors the Snellgroves, as was his intelligence and charismatic personality.

Her political ideas grew more liberal and open-minded as she got older and I feel sure that some of that happened because of accumulating life experiences. The experience of having her ideals of the Presidential Office shattered was just one of many, small and large, private and public. She grew up in poor, rural Dale County, Alabama, in a family that welcomed Pentecostalism as well as Missionary Baptist beliefs. Later they moved to Columbus, GA, where her mother and older relatives worked in the textile mill. A favorite story she told was about visiting the mill town's library from an early age and discovering that she could bring home books every week to read. She was thrilled to widen her horizons from the beginning.

She went to nursing school and witnessed life as an emergency room nurse until she met my grandfather who was a newspaper reporter and then editor of one of the city papers. She experienced city, state, national and international events from the inside, like the murder of John Patterson and the Phenix City corruption clean-up; like several newspaper editors' attempts to get Eisenhower to pay attention to the growing strength of Cuban revolutionaries. When it was a much more taboo subject in the 1950s, she researched and wrote a series of newspaper articles about mental illness for which she won an award that led her to be President Truman's dinner partner. She was also the godmother of Bobbi Campbell, who became one of the earliest people to be diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma, and an early AIDS activist in San Francisco.

After my grandfather died suddenly at age 63, Grandma lived alone for 45 more years, later working as executive secretary to the newspaper's publisher in the 1970s. After she retired, she traveled all over the U.S. and Europe, alone and with friends and family. Sitting around her den and listening to her vivid stories, I have felt as personally connected as she did to presidents and public figures, as well as to her Irish ancestors and the farming country and mill town she grew up in. Her stories made me feel that the wide world was mine to experience, too, and hearing her tell them gave me the confidence to explore it myself. Her sense of self-worth rubbed off on me in ways I continue to discover. And at convention times, I miss sitting next to her in the bookshelf-lined den, watching political speeches on TV from all across the spectrum, from all over the world, commenting on tone, believability, and memories of other people and places. Thank you Grandma.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"At Dye Rock crowds were exceedingly large and many at the altar"

Dye Rock Church is one of the early sites of the Pentecostal movement in south Alabama whose location and history I would like to find. I wrote about it in a post a few years ago here, which quoted a note in a 1915 issue of Word and Witness (a COGIC newspaper at that point). Recently, I realized that several Pentecostal archives have banded together to form the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives, so I redid a search for "Dye Rock" and found another previously unknown newspaper article in a 1919 issue of the Christian Evangel (subsequently known as the Pentecostal Evangel, and that's how it is often referred to). (The link above to their site is to the 'About' page with a list of the participating archives.)

In a short article, "An Evangelistic Tour," S. C. Johnson tells about his travels via a very winding path from Missouri, through Arkansas, down to the Gulf and then over into the Wiregrass region of Alabama: "At Hartford [Ala.] I fell in with Bro. Dan Dubose [sic]. Was with him three weeks witnessing souls saved and baptized (Acts 2:4). At Dye Rock crowds were exceedingly large and many at the altar."

It might be significant from an administrative standpoint that Johnson traveled to Dye Rock in 1919.  In the 1919 article, Johnson mentions going on to Dothan, where he was appointed "State evangelist and assigned to visit all the assemblies." In the minutes for the A/G southeastern district meeting in Dec. 1919, S. C. Johnson was appointed to a committee to settle problems with the way churches were grouped together into districts (The First Fifty Years - A Brief Review of the Assemblies of God in Alabama (1915-1965) by Robert H. Spence, p. 29).  As I noted in the earlier post, "Die Rock" was one of “the original line-up of churches that were part of the old Southeast District,” and put in the "Dothan Group" in 1915 with assemblies in Dothan, Madrid, Haleburg, and Wicksburg (Spence, 21). I'm just speculating, but, Johnson may have been visiting Dye Rock four years later in part to find out what, if any, problems this church might be having by being in the Dothan Group.

In the 1915 Word and Witness note, Dye Rock is "near Midland City, Ala."  Midland City falls in a bee line between Wicksburg to the southwest and Haleburg to the northeast. (However, Grimes, apparently within the geographical grouping of the Dothan Group, and just south of MC, is in the Clio Group, with churches much further north. That's a political mystery I'll save for another day.)  Six years ago, I visited Midland City and asked the librarians there if they had ever heard of any place or church called Dye Rock, but they had not. For now, its location is still a mystery, but I know there is a source waiting to be discovered that tells us its location and possibly some of its place in the history of the early Pentecostal movement in Wiregrass Alabama. 

Click here for a few photos of Assemblies of God churches in south Alabama and early sites.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Approaching Launch Day

Ed's heading to Kennedy Space Center this week in hopes of watching Space Shuttle Atlantis on its last launch. Ed is Ed Reynolds, a writer for Black and White magazine, with whom I share earth space. He's been writing about outer space and NASA for several years now, long before I got to know him, so I had to go back into the B&W archives to see what he's written about shuttle flights and NASA before today (see below).

Spaceflight is a big deal to him -- for reasons that keep threatening, like the changeable weather in Florida, to become clear -- and he has been looking forward to this final big event at least since his last trip down in April ended in a disappointing delayed lift off that he had to miss.

Rain is predicted for launch day, Friday the 8th, and also for Saturday, an alternate day, but there is always a chance the weather will clear just enough for the launch. If it doesn't go off this week, NASA will postpone it until July 16. My main hope, beyond my wish for success - for everyone - for this last shuttle mission, is that Ed'll be able to catch a few winks while he's down there, even if this is a mind-blowing event during which no one in his or her right mind would sleep.

If you want to read about Ed's previous shuttle launch experiences, here are links to his articles in past B&W issues:
And more articles on space here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PRATT CITY JOURNAL | Fraternal Cemetery

This post is a collection of links to information, and also opinion, on the area that is generally known as the Fraternal Cemetery in the Pratt City area of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama. It will be the first, I hope, of several posts about the Fraternal Cemetery and related cemeteries, their condition, history, and the part of my family who is buried there.

DATA on location and contents

Birmingham Historical Society has designated the area part of their Historic Cemeteries, and does not use the name "Fraternal Cemetery." Here is their description and a link to their page:
"Crest of Sheridan Road, Irish Hill, Pratt City 
Includes graves of English, Scottish and German immigrants who worked in the Pratt coal mines and other early 20th century industrial operations in this area"

Maps and USGS survey info found of the Fraternal Cemetery via the US Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (USGS GNIS):
GNIS in Google Maps:
Terra Fly:
and regular Google Maps.

A link on this USGenweb Archives Project page for Jefferson County cemeteries will take you to a very incomplete survey of a few graves, and some photos.

There are 138 entries at's entry for Fraternal Cemetery.
Photos on of the cemetery grounds and some of my family's graves.

Photos of a clean-up day YEAR UNKNOWN by the Knights of Columbus Council 10567 of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Adamsville. The next year they cleaned up some more.

2004 Resolution by the state legislature commending Pratt City residents for cleaning up the Historic Fraternal Cemetery, including "long-term plans for the Fraternal Cemetery include installing an iron gate to limit after-hours access and re-roofing a storage shed."


A recent (Jan 9, 2011) letter to the editor at from Virginia Whitlock of Pelham describes a little bit of the condition of much of the cemetery grounds.
More discussions about the cemeteries' condition here and here beginning Jan. 16, 2011.

More discussion on Ancestry's discussion boards: Jefferson County
And, of course, you can "like" Pratt City Fraternal Cemetery on Facebook.