On Saturday July 21, 2018 in the City Auditorium of Vernon about 50 persons gathered to hear “Personal Stories” and view historic artifacts along with memorabilia displays in celebration of 200 Alabama Bicentennial.
Enjoyed were Family history displays on the following families: Box, Young, Oakes, Elliott, Merchant, Pennington, Tackett, Corder, Wheeler, Tomlin, Priddy, Hill, Butler and related families. Responsible for these displays were: Mary Lou Young Fabian, Dianne Oakes Woods, Paul Woods, Kathy Heatherly Tomlin, Betty Priddy Frankl, and Stephanie Butler.
Local folks attended as well as from Trussville, AL; Pelham, AL; Guin, AL; Winfield, AL; Millport, AL; Columbia, MO; Van Buren, MO; Sulligent, AL; Fayette, AL; and Northport, AL.
Special guest, Carla Waldrep, Historian, Herbalist, Story Teller & Librarian at Haleyville Public Library presented stories of the life and legend of Aunt Jenny Brooks. Willis Brooks Sr. was a saddle and boot maker and Jane or “Jenny” Brooks was a beautiful, blue-eyed, half Cherokee woman, twenty years his junior. Willis and Jenny raised their large family in the rugged mountains of southwest Lawrence County and operated a road house for travelers of the historic Byler Road. During the war of Northern Aggression, this area of North Alabama was a hotbed of Confederate discontent. The hill country of Northwest Alabama was full of “Tories,” or those opposed to the Secession Convention in Montgomery and who wanted to remain loyal to the Union, or at least to remain neutral. It was suspected that Willis Brooks had been giving aid to a number of Tories in the area. For this perceived act of treason, sometime in late 1863 or early 1864, a renegade band of Confederate Home Guards tortured and killed Willis and his oldest son, John. This sparked the beginning of a blood feud that would span thirty years and lead all the way to Texas and Oklahoma. The Brooks boys were just little shavers when their pa and teenage brother were killed. Jenny Brooks was left a widow with a newborn baby and large family to feed. Jenny Brooks gathered her young blood around her and all swore to avenge the deaths of their father and brother. “Aunt Jenny,” as she came to be known, would proudly say in later years that she “wasted many a keg of powder teachin’ my boys to shoot!” Eight men were implicated in the deaths of Willis and John Brooks and at least seven of the killers paid for their cruel deed with their lives. Aunt Jenny was said to have accounted for two of the men herself”.
Thanks to Amanda Glasgow, Mary Wallace Cobb Memorial Library Director, Ali Glasgow, Annia Carruth and Clay Carruth for set-up and clean-up. Thanks to Sue Hollis, Burma Jordan and Betty Harrison for all their help preparing for this event. A special thank you to Mr. Eugene Hayes our Videographer. Thanks to Carla Waldrep and her mom for using their Saturday time to visit.
Thank you to our sponsors: Lamar County Genealogical & Historical Society, Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Lamar County Commission and the City of Vernon, connecting our past to our future!