New trail to blaze the life of Hank Williams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

The state of Alabama is about to capitalize on the mystique of one of its most famous sons.

Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel Director Lee Sentell says his office has been having &uot;a great time&uot; developing a trail devoted to Butler County’s own Hiram &uot;Hank&uot; Williams.

Sentell, speaking to members and guests of the Greenville Kiwanis Club Tuesday, shared his vision for the new Hank Williams Trail and his hopes it will bring more tourist dollars into the state.

&uot;I want to help slow down all those people coming down the interstate and give them a reason to stop and spend those dollars before they get to the coast.&uot;

A 24-page brochure is being printed in September to guide visitors to sites in Georgiana, Greenville, Montgomery, Andalusia, Alexander City, Birmingham and Tuscumbia.

&uot;This brochure, along with the markers we are putting up, will tell people they can stop and visit these places tied to Williams’ life,&uot; Sentell explained.

The first in the series of historical markers in Butler County was erected in June at the Boyhood Home. Other markers will be at the Ga-Ana Theater where Hank first performed with the Drifting Cowboys, and another at the church in the Mt. Olive community west of I-65. Hank’s mother once played the church’s organ with little Hank at her side.

A marker is currently being researched for Greenville, where the family lived from September 1934 to July 1937. One side will chronicle the history of the Ritz Theatre.

A marker will be unveiled in December in front of the building in downtown Andalusia where Hank married Audrey in 1944.

Other markers will be placed in locations in Montgomery, where Hank lived, performed, and was buried.

Four museums featuring artifacts from Hank’s life – the Hank Williams Museum and Boyhood Home in Georgiana, the Hank Williams Museum in downtown Montgomery, the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia – will be part of the Trail.

&uot;It was a 32-page booklet on Hank’s life written by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Odom for the Butler County Historical Society and printed by The Greenville Advocate in 1974 that provided a lot of the information for the markers,&uot; Sentell said.

The ABTT director also handed out colorful posters, hat pins and rack cards created by his agency to promote the Trail.

&uot;There are a lot of people who are fans of Hank Williams all over the world, people you might not think would be fans…his songs were like a diary of his life. He was an incredible storyteller,&uot; Sentell said.

Both Hank Williams Jr. and Jett Williams have given their seal of approval to the project, Sentell said.

For more information on the Hank Williams Trail, contact Alabama Tourism, P.O. Box 4927, Montgomery, AL 36103, phone 1-800-ALABAMA or visit