Remember When: Pioneer cabins dotted the County

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2019

Cowboy and pioneer days are fascinating to me. My husband and I often watch the GRIT TV Channel.  Jimmy reminisces about going to the Martin Theatre on Saturdays growing up. It was an all-day event from about ten o’clock until dark. He and his friends would watch the serials that were continued from week to week, would be entertained with cartoons like “Popeye, the Sailor Man,” would be absorbed by the cowboy movies with Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey, Rex Allen, and Hop-a-long Cassidy, and would eat all the popcorn, candy, and soft drinks that they could pack in for about 50 cents. Admission back then was about a dime that later went up to a quarter. Today’s cell phone games enjoyed by the younger set were yesterday’s Saturdays at the picture show enjoyed by that generation!

Yes, I was one of those movie-goers, too. I will never forget the 3-D movie, “The House of Wax,” or “The Incredible Shrinking Man” or “The Blob.” Candy corn, Malted Milk Balls, Red Hots, and Sugar Babies were among the favorite snacks at the movie house concession stand. The man with the flashlight would walk up and down the aisles shining the light at anyone with their feet propped up on the chairs or quieten down anyone rowdy who were mostly the boys! There weren’t many mothers or fathers present on Saturday matinees. I never saw any! It is amazing that the children were as good as they were. We were mesmerized by the Disney movies, the horror movies, the news reels, the cartoons, the cowboy adventures, and, of course, the previews for the next week which always brought us back the following Saturday.

Thinking back to those cowboy movies and pioneer days, I would like to tell about one of the showplaces of the outside exhibits at the Three Notch Museum on Historic Central Street in downtown Andalusia – the Clark Family Log Cabin.

In 1992 Mrs. Ella Mae Williams Clark and her children, Mrs. Audrey Franklin, Mrs. Jane Walters, and George Austin Clark donated the one-room pioneer log cabin to the Three Notch Museum. The cabin was located on the Clark property in the Waycross Community in north Covington County. It was Mrs. Clark’s desire to see the cabin preserved. Mr. Sidney Waits made sure that her wish became a reality!

The cabin is a typical one-room square log cabin much like many that dotted the counties of Alabama in its earliest days. There is an inside fireplace and a rock chimney at one end with a porch extending across the front that was restored when moved to the museum district. It originally had cedar shake roofing shingles but thanks to one of the hurricanes, it now has a metal roof.

The Clarks all live away from the Andalusia area now, but they frequently visit the restored log cabin in its new location that is now a tourist attraction for visitors to the local history museum.

The Clark family told the following story about the log cabin when they sent a copy of the land grant signed by President Benjamin Harrison dated 29 August 1890. The one hundred fifty-nine acres was deeded to Rhoda Daniel whose family is believed to have built the log cabin above Gantt before the turn of the century. 

Mr. Jacob Williams later acquired the property in the early nineteen hundreds after which it was passed down through their heirs to Ella Mae Williams Clark. Several additions were built around the cabin including a kitchen wing and a couple of bedrooms with closets. The additions in poor condition at the time were torn down when the cabin was moved to the museum.

The Clark family stated that “Electricity was just beginning to be serviced before World War II, however the project stopped just one farm south of the cabin in that area of Waycross. It didn’t restart until after the war was over. There was a well down the hill from the cabin where water would be hauled for their use and for the use of the livestock until a pump was installed in the late 1940s. The family relied on the Rolling Store for staples like flour, sugar, and other needed items.”

If one visits the restored log cabin today, it is furnished much like it would have been in the Clark’s time. There is a farm table and some chairs, a grandfather clock, a trunk, a corn shuck mop, an iron bed, a chamber pot, a vintage quilt, a spinning wheel, a braid rug, a churn, some iron skillets and cooking pots, and a wagon seat warmer – all items from the past when log cabin living was part of pioneer days.

These artifacts represent days gone by and serve to encourage us and make us appreciate our present way of life. Please make a point to take your child or grandchild, the neighborhood kids, or your summer visitors to tour the Three Notch Museum this summer. Enjoy a picnic on the porch of the log cabin and take pictures! It is a popular spot for photographers! The hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 2:00. Special appointments can be made for class reunions and family reunions. Call 334-222-0674 to set up special tours. The Covington Historical Society who established the museum beginning in the mid 1980s is thankful for the interest and on-going support of the public, the Friends of the Museum, the City of Andalusia, and its membership.

*The upcoming meeting of the Covington Historical Society will be presented by Dr. Frazier Douglass on “Pioneer Fireplace Cooking & Cast Iron Cookware.” Douglass who lived in Andalusia for 10 years and worked with S. Central Mental Health is now a retired professor of psychology at Athens State University. He presents programs to groups as a volunteer with the Burritt Historical Museum in Huntsville on tent camping history, hearth and campfire cooking, vintage cast iron cookware, and wood splitting techniques. The public is invited to attend the program in the Dixon Room of the Andalusia Public Library at 6:30 p. m., Thursday, June 27, 2019.

     Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at