The Beginning of the
Etowah Historical Society
(TAKEN FROM THE GADSDEN TIMES JANUARY 23,
SOCIETY MAKES PROGRESSIVE PLANS
The Etowah Historical Society was organized
in April, 1954, and held its first meeting at the home of
Mrs. Mary Harrison Lister, Bellevue Highlands. R.H.
Copeland was elected president, and upon his removal to
Birmingham Jan. 1, of this year, was succeeded by WO. Briscoe.
Mrs. Hazel Oliver is secretary-treasurer; Marvin Small,
archivist; Miss Sara E. Mason, program chairman.
William C. Tolbert heads the research committee.
The Society is the outgrowth of the very
efficient committee who in September of 1953 made possible the
markers on Black Creek placed to the memory of Emma Sansom and
Robert Turner, and who dedicated these memorials on Nov. 1, at a
ceremony at Emma Sansom High School which was attended by more
than two thousand people.
Russell Hooks is credited by the
Historical Society for the start of the Memorials on Black
Creek. He enlisted the assistance of M.B. McCartney,
Tom Cross, Lloyd McMahan and C.L. Manderson
who gave the Sansom marker, the planting, the long cement walk,
and all improvements as the area now stands.
Other members of the committee who
contributed in time and thought to the success of the
undertaking were Mrs. Hazel Oliver; Rodney Copeland
and Mrs. Copeland, Mrs. Mary Harrison Lister,
Mrs. W A. Leach, Marvin Small, W.O. Briscoe
and George Floyd.
At the same time that plans for the Emma Sansom marker were
underway the student council of Emma Sansom High School decided
to place a memorial for Robert Turner, one of Forrest's cavalry,
killed at the crossing that brought fame to Emma Sansom. The
student's marker was dedicated and unveiled at the same time as
the Sansom marker and was paid for out of the student's own
It was at this time that those interested
realized fully the need of an organization for research, and
especially for maintaining memorials. So with the marker
committee as a nucleus Etowah Historical Society came into
being, and is carrying on a very worthwhile work. Each month an
original paper is read before the group, a copy reserved in
their own archives, and a copy placed in the Gadsden public
library. When it is possible to procure them, pictures accompany
these papers and already valuable information is preserved, that
otherwise might have been lost. Gathering about them a loyal and
unselfish group, the founders of the society have splendid plans
for it's future growth, and service to Gadsden and Etowah
Members of the Etowah
County Historical Society gather at Mrs. Lister's
for the festive Christmas Party in 1954. Seated,
front row: Mrs. Lister; Miss Lena Martin, R.H.
Copeland, president: Mrs. Copeland, Mrs. W. O.
Briscoe; Mrs. Hazel Oliver, secretary and treasurer;
Mrs. W. A. Leach; Mrs. Frances Underwood. Standing:
Mrs. Pete Butler; Mrs. Tom Sansom; Mrs. Russell
Hooks, Mrs. Elbert Watson, George Floyd, the Rev.
Elbert Watson, W. O. Briscoe, vice president; Mrs.
William C. Tolbert (Glencoe),Mrs. C. L. Mander son,
and 'Mr s. Glenn Sedam. Back row: Marvin Small, Tom
Sansom, Russell Hooks, Glenn Sedam, Pete Butler, C.
L. Manderson, and William C. Tolbert. Notice Mr.
Floyd's hand on my arm.
From the 50th Anniversary book
Etowah Historical Society -
1954 - 2004
How Does A Historical Society Begin?
An interview with Hazel Oliver By Patsy
The Etowah Historical Society
began with the success of the Black Creek Committee. From the
work this committee did, Mrs. Mary Harrison Lister realized,
what the county needed was a historical society and the marker
committee was again called on. This time to discuss the creation
of a historical society and from the nucleus of this committee
the Etowah Historical Society came into being.
The marker committee, along with
others interested in history, met at the Oliver home on Walnut
Street. The decision was made and plans were laid for a
constitution and bylaws be drawn up with the intention of a
group that would last, and last they have!
In April of 1954, the Etowah
Historical Society was officially organized and came into being
in the home of Mrs. Mary Harrison Lister, Aloha Lodge, Harts
Avenue, Gadsden, Alabama.
When it was formed our members
met in each other's homes and we took turns with refreshment and
programs just as we do today but times change and the historical
society had growing pains. The last home our society met in was
the home of Bob and Bette Sue McElroy in 1988.
We met at the Howard Gardner
Nichols Memorial Library in Alabama City for five years
(1988-1993). The Lena Martin Room in our Gadsden public library
was our home a number of years afterward. And now have our own
home that we moved into this, our 50th birthday. This is where
we present our papers, have our refreshments, see old friends
and talk about the history of our county. The Society meets on
the second Friday of every month and has done so since it's
beginning in 1954.
To our knowledge, we are the
oldest continual meeting historical society in the State of
Alabama, most historical societies don't make it past 25 years.
Our State Historical Association is only seven years older. We
are a society that is very proud of our organization and
important place it holds in our community.
Our Constitution and our by-laws
were put together in such a way that even when disagree, we move
forward. They are like we are as historians. We can change our
minds, we don't unless we are given a very good reason for doing
so, Then we vote.
When we are asked, as
historians, what kind of history we are searching for. We answer
anything and everything that pertains to this county first, then
to our state. Both our county our state have played a large roll
in shaping the history of our nation but we try to document
county first. A lot of history was made here, in every direction
and every time period. And do we know this, because someone took
the time to write it down and date it. All history is important.
The members of a historical
society make a difference. We record the past for the future
When people need to know certain things, they go to the library,
because in research book someone took the time to write things
down. And if the information they are looking for is local they
go the local historical society because no one knows our
backyard, better than we do, that is true of every historical
society where it is county, state, or national, ask the
In our society members present
original papers each month pertaining to our local history.
Many interesting and informative
papers have been given over the years. We specialize in the
history of Etowah County. One copy of each is placed in our own
archives and another copy in the Gadsden Public Library. But we
do more than just present papers each month.
One of the first things our
society did was to repair the Emma Sansom monument at the end of
Broad Street. Someone had broken Emma's finger off that had
pointed way across Black Creek for General Nathan Bedford
Forrest and his men. Mr. Marvin Small was in charge of this
undertaking and the cost to the historical society was around
one hundred and seventy-five dollars.
Ten Years ago on our 40th
birthday, Woodrow Dawson, Ed Lewis, Patsy Hanvey., Hazel Oliver
and Eloise Robison, working as the anniversary committee, and
dubbed The "Strawberry Gang," put together a 54 page book
called, "The Etowah Historical Society, Fortieth Birthday
1954-1994." With information on the Etowah Historical Society
and it's members, who we are and what we do.
It is hard to believe that 50
years have passed since our founding, In recording it, one
thinks of so may things that have happened over the years,
important things that have happened, our members, past and
present, and the uniqueness of each one.
CHARTER MEMBERS ETOWAH HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MARY HARRISON LISTER
LENA MARTIN MR. AND MRS. R. H..
MRS. W. A. LEACH
MR. AND MRS. PETE BUTLER
MR. AND MRS. TOM SANSOM
MR. AND MRS. RUSSELL HOOKS
MR. AND MRS. GLEN SEDAM
MR. AND MRS. C. L. MANDERSON
MR. AND MRS. W. C. TOLBERT
ELBERT AND ROMONA WATSON
SARA ELIZABETH MASON
MR AND MRS. LLOYD MCMAHAN
MR. AND MRS. RAY COX
MR. AND MRS. THOMAS CROSS
MR. AND MRS. W. O. BRISCOE
MRS. B. LINEBARGER
PRESIDENTS OF THE ETOWAH
* 1954 Rodney H. Copeland - W.O. Briscoe
* 1955 C.L. Manderson
* 1956 Russell Hooks
* 1957 Glenn Sedam - George W. Floyd
1958 Elbert Watson
* 1959 Leslie King
* 1960 Dewitt Robison
* 1961 Jerry Jones
* 1962 Talmadge Robison
* 1963 Dr. E.M. Linsey
* 1964 Jeffa P. Hill
* 1965 James F. Robertson
* 1966 Joe Barnes
* 1967 J.W. Hawkins
* 1968 Dewitt Robison
* 1969 Gordon Miller
* 1970 Joe Barnes
* 1971 J. R. Davis
* 1972 Talmadge Robison
* 1973 Eugene Camp
* 1974 Eugene Camp
* 1975 Jeffa Hill
* 1976 Jeffa Hill
* 1977 Gene Camp
* 1978 Gordon Miller
* 1979 Gordon Miller
* 1980 Tom Parker
* 1981 Gary Mills
* 1982 Gary Mills - Woodrow Dawson
* 1983 Woodrow Dawson
* 1984 Bill Studdard - Woodrow Dawson
* 1985 James W. Hanvey "Pete"
* 1986 James W. Hanvey "Pete"
* 1987 James W. Hanvey "Pete" - Woodrow Dawson
* 1988 James B. Waid
* 1989 James B. Waid
* 1990 Ralph Mackey
* 1991 Ralph Mackey
1992 Ben Reed
1993 Bette Sue McElroy
1994 Ben Reed
1995 Marvin Kelly
1996 W.A. Lewis
* 1997 Fred Nicholson
* 1998 Ralph Mackey
* 1999 Ralph Mackey
2000 W.A. Lewis
2001 Helen Ennis
2002 Helen Ennis
2003 Betty McCoy
2004 Betty McCoy
2005 Betty McCoy
2006 Richmond Hammond
2007 Danny K. Crownover
2008 Danny K. Crownover
2009 Danny K. Crownover
2010 Danny K. Crownover
2011 Danny K. Crownover
2012 Danny K. Crownover
2013 Danny K. Crownover
2014 Danny K. Crownover
2015 Danny K. Crownover
2016 Danny K. Crownover
2017 Danny K. Crownover
2018 Danny K. Crownover
2018 Sharyon Ramsey
- Served Out Unfinished Term
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historical interest. Current programs of
history in the making.
Markers - Markings of historical homes,
cemeteries, schools, rivers, trails, public buildings
ignificant Preservations -
Preservation of historical
buildings, homes & landmarks