sumter county Alabama Foster DicksonContinuously published since 2010, Foster’s blog Welcome to Eclectic has included everything from opinion pieces and short essays to news about events and publications. The Alabamiana series offers brief sketches about a variety of lesser-known or nuanced subjects in Alabama history. Some sketches are about people, while others are about events. 

To read a sampling of posts from the Alabamiana series, click on the links below:

Albert Brewer vs. the Drive-Ins, 1969
published May 2023
“Notwithstanding the hasty overreach, it seems reasonable to say that Brewer saw two opportunities in this crackdown. First, he could use his office to impose his conservative social views on other people, and second, he could stir up support for a 1970 gubernatorial campaign among conservative voters.”

Professor Charles L. Floyd
published July 2022 
“Though none of us knew this back then, Floyd was named for Professor Charles Lewis Floyd, Montgomery’s first superintendent of schools.”
(1,119 words)

Revisiting Mr. Rice
published July 2020
“By the 1980s, WC Rice’s House of Crosses – also known as the Victory Cross Garden – was at its peak, chock-full of rusty signage with sprawled messages.”
(1,144 words)

The First Iron Bowl in Auburn, 1989
published December 2019 
“Since the changes that led to a more standard agreement of alternating venues, starting in 1989, the series is nearly tied.”
(303 words)

The House of Judah, 1991
published February 2019 
“I had a habit through the late 1980s and 1990s ofcutting out newspaper and magazines articles that told unusual stories— and this one certainly was unusual: a black minister in Wetumpka, Alabama who wanted to join a Ku Klux Klan march.”
(2,019 words)

The Abolishment of Macon County, 1957
published December 2018 
“The amendment would create a committee to study whether it would be feasible to reduce or do away with Macon County, home to the historic city of Tuskegee and to Booker T. Washington’s infamous Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University).”
(780 words)

Eugene Walter, 1921 – 1998
published November 2018 
“Generally regarded as an artistic genius, Walter transcended his humble roots in Mobile to later become an editor for the Paris Review, have roles in films by Federico Fellini, and write a bestselling cookbook.”
(393 words)

‘The Politics of Embarrassment,” 1998
published June 2018 
“Though Raines’ editorial contained biting criticisms of his home state’s wild politics, he began with this understatement: ‘Alone among the states of its region, Alabama has not fully turned the New South corner.'”
(1,237 words)

Thomas Reed vs. the Confederate Flag, 1988
published May 2018 
“In February 1988, when a black Alabama state representative named Thomas Reed was arrested for trying to climb a fence around the state capitol and remove the Confederate flag that was flying on top, the Civil Rights movement had supposedly been over for twenty years.”
(935 words)

JW Dickson, 1854 – 1921
published October 2017 
“In 1900, JW Dickson was elected sheriff of Lowndes County.”
(1,429 words)

Isaac Ross, 1764 – 1821
published August 2017 
“Isaac Ross, who is buried in the woods along a nature trail outside of Wetumpka, Alabama, was born in Camden, South Carolina more than a decade before the Declaration of Independence.”
(780 words)

Wedowee, 1994
published February 2017 
“Forty years after Brown v. Board, though, some measure of ‘separate’ still existed.”
(1,470 words)

Pardoning Clarence Norris, October 1976
published October 2016 
“Though Norris’s history is difficult – a falsely accused, wrongfully convicted man who broke parole and hid in plain sight – Norris’s pardoner had his own difficult history, too.”
(1,201 words)

30 Years since Baxley-Graddick
published September 2016 
“It is called ‘crossover voting’ when voters from one party cross over and cast ballots in the other party’s primary for the purpose of affecting which candidate will run in.”
(1,437 words)

Fr. Michael Caswell, 1909 – 1971
published May 2016 
“Caswell was ordained in 1937, and after serving as an assistant pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Ensley, a working-class suburb of Birmingham, he came to Montgomery to create what he hoped to be a “New Boys’ Town for Negroes,” according to an August 1950 United Press wire story.”
(904 words)

The Murder of Sloan Rowan, 1912
published April 2016 
“At the time of the murder, in July 1912, Sloan Rowan was a merchant in Benton and a grand jury witness in an arson case against Jones, who was accused of burning several stores there. The accused man’s opposition to Rowan’s participation is evident in its degree of violence.”
(837 words)

Richard Tyler, 1816 – 1877
published December 2015 
“Born in 1816, the son of man who would become president in 1841, one would think that Robert Tyler would have it made.”
(1,410 words)

John Asa Rogers, 1853 – 1908
published May 2015 
“John Rogers had a lot going on, especially back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in an isolated location in Alabama’s Black Belt.”
(421 words)

Jim, d. 1854
published March 2015 
“Each year, when we go – we’ve been doing this for seven or eight years – I’m drawn to one particular grave, near the entrance to the cemetery: an above-ground bricked-in grave with a metal plaque that reads: ‘Here lies JIM, slave of S. Schuessler, died June 14, 1854, aged 30 years. Remembered for his virtue.'”
(612 words)

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