This is an archive of MSNHA's newsletters

Heritage Happenings

         September 2017 

Notes from the director


By Dr. Carolyn Barske
Interim MSNHA director

   After a long, relatively quiet summer in our office, it is wonderful to welcome back all of the public history students. Hearing the beginning of the semester excitement in their voices as they talk about projects makes us all smile.
     Many of them have been very busy over the summer. Class of 2017 graduate and former MSNHA graduate assistant Sam Keiser spent the summer interning at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Stephanie Vickers, a UNA Public History Center graduate assistant, completed an internship at Pond Spring: The General Joe Wheeler Home and traveled to London for the UNA History and English departments’ study abroad trip. UNA public history certificate student John Griffin also studied in London this summer. Lori Reynolds, the MSNHA’s new graduate assistant, worked with the USDA Forest Service at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Sarah Harbin, a new public history student and graduate assistant with the UNA Public History Center, helped the MSNHA with our Native American educators’ resource packet. Brian Corrigan, the new graduate assistant with the UNA Archives and Special Collections, worked on the Tennessee River educators’ resource packet. Brian Murphy, graduate assistant with the MSNHA, spent the summer working on a re-interpretation plan for Pope’s Tavern and research for our forthcoming book and companion exhibit on the Tennessee River and northwest Alabama. We were also joined this summer by Sewanee student Victoria Hinshaw, who worked on an educators’ resource packet for the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and worked at the studio giving tours.
     Even though the summer was quiet without most of our students, much happened! We were able to officially announce our partnership with Sacred Way Sanctuary, Museum and Interpretive Center. The site will serve as our interpretive center for our Native American heritage theme. We will partner with Sacred Way on educational and cultural events. Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin, the director of the site, is also working with the MSNHA as our Native American heritage consultant. As a public historian, I have been trained to think about preservation not just in terms of buildings, books and papers. Preserving other parts of a people’s culture, whether food, language, traditional clothing or animals. The project that Yvette and her husband, Sean, have built will do all of those things, but will especially work to ensure that the horses of many Native American tribes do not disappear. The adoption program Sacred Way operates helps to introduce new people to these amazing animals. The museum and interpretive center will serve as a center for the study of the native people’s connection to the horse. I still remember the first time I visited Sacred Way. We walked all around the property – looking at the different herds of horses. I teared up on numerous occasions, so impressed with the work that Sean and Yvette were doing. As some of you know, I have ridden horses my entire life and have always recognized the important connection between people and these amazing animals. I am proud, as are all MSNHA staff, to call Sacred Way one of our partners.
     Our partnership with Florence-Lauderdale Tourism continues to result in great events at the tourism center. In June, the MSNHA and Florence-Tourism held a Young Singer/Songwriters of Muscle Shoals event, highlighting the next generation of music makers in the Shoals. In July, we partnered with tourism on W.C. Handy Festival events. We are so thankful for the hard work the tourism team puts into these events and look forward to developing many more like them!
     The UNA Continuing Education program, the UNA Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and the MSNHA are partnering on the development of the NatureCORE program. This program is focused on facilitating the development of adventure services businesses in the heritage area and across the state. We will be holding our first certification program, focused on planning for and starting adventure services businesses, on January 23-25, 2017. Future offerings will include Wilderness First Responder courses and specialized certification programs, including ACA Canoe and Kayak certification. For more information, contact Patrick Shremshock in HPER at
     We have also been working with the Bear Creek Development Authority on a project to preserve, protect, reopen and interpret Overton Farm in Franklin County. The Overton Farm dates back to 1817, when Abner Overton moved from North Carolina to the big bend in Bear Creek. The farm remained in the family until TVA acquired it in 1969. TVA turned it into an educational facility. Thousands of children visited Overton Farm until its closure in 2013. Stay tuned for more news as the project develops.
     In June, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with delegations from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the Southeastern Tourism Society to advocate for the heritage area program, which had been zeroed out of the president’s budget. We all worked very hard to articulate why our program is so important. The heritage area program is an excellent example of a public-private partnership. We are able to take a relatively small amount of federal money ($18.8 million for 49 heritage areas in 2016) preserve historic sites, carry out community development projects, restore and preserve land, and gave out over $4.5 million dollars in grants to organizations in our communities. Luckily, after meeting with congressmen, senators and house and senate appropriations staff, the heritage area program was put back into the budget with level funding.
     Our grantees from our April round of grants are working on their projects and we are gearing up for another grant round, which closes on Sept. 15. We have spoken to many groups across the heritage area who have some exciting projects planned. We will update you soon on these new projects.

Grants deadline is Sept. 15

Remember that 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, is the deadline to submit applications for MSNHA's community grants program. Visit the grants page at our website for details.

Student spotlight: Sam Keiser

     Recently, I returned from an Education Internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C.
     I, along with two other interns, researched and acquired various video, audio and photographic assets for an educational tool that will allow visitors to create mini-documentaries. Future visitors will hopefully see this finished project later this year in October. Additionally, we hope that this educational tool will eventually be available worldwide as an app on the NMAAHC website.
     For me, personally, working as an intern for NMAAHC was a dream come true. Being able to be a part of the newly opened museum was an experience I will never forget. The amount of excitement and anticipation of the people waiting in lines every day has to be seen to be believed. The fact that I was able to contribute in some small way to the continued success of the museum is simply incredible. I hope to return in the future to continue to educate the public on African American issues and history.
     I would also like to highlight my fellow interns who worked on this project. Langston Leake, from the University of Georgia, and Veronica La Du, from George Washington University, were an absolute pleasure to work with. All three of us were able to put together a project I believe we can be proud of. Both Veronica and Langston brought their unique skills and unbridled enthusiasm to the project. We shared in the joys of research and the frustration of dealing with copyright law. Both members of my team were fantastic and have bright futures ahead of them.
     Overall, working for NMAAHC was an excellent experience. I encourage anyone and everyone to go visit the museum if you have a chance. The museum is an absolutely must see experience.

 Student spotlight: Lori Reynolds

Name: Lori Reynolds
Hometown: Ravenswood, West Virginia
Undergraduate studies: Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Degree: Environmental Studies; Historic Preservation
Graduate Studies: UNA, Public History

Why I chose history: I was lucky to have had the opportunities while growing up to visit and experience many of our country’s National Monuments/Historic Sites/Parks/Forests, Civil War sites, battlefields, and other places of historical significance. Since I began visiting those places at such a young age, the importance of each site did not always stick with me. However, being pushed by a historic and nature inclined family over the years, subsequently led me down the path that I am on today to further pursue a career that will help bridge the gap between people of all ages to their human histories and natural histories.

What I specialize in: Historical and natural interpretation. This includes a combination of human histories and the historical development of our natural environment. I would like to work on bringing more historians into the park system (state and federal), increasing the interpretation of human histories and their role in parks that are otherwise centralized on natural history.  

After I’m out of school:
Eventually I hope to return to work in northern Arizona with the National Park System. But, if that does not work out right away, I plan on returning to work another season at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest near Big Pine, California -– home to the world’s oldest known living organisms!

Projects for MSNHA: Previously, in my undergraduate studies, I interned for MSNHA in 2013. During that time I volunteered on behalf of MSNHA at Pond Spring (cleaned, stored and recorded artifacts), Florence Lauderdale Public Library archive (transcribing divorce record books) and Colbert County Tourism (developed OnCell tour script). Now, I'm working on compiling and organizing surveys from the Oka Kapassa Festival and developing an educators’ resource packet for MSNHA on music in the Shoals.

Other interests: I enjoy exploring new places, planning trips, riding horses/mules, hiking (I am doing the 52 Hikes Challenge), spending time with my family here and afar, sitting by the campfire and reading books that are not textbooks – time permitting.

Background: After graduating from college in 2014, I briefly moved to Alabama to live at home and began taking summer coursework in geographic information science at UNA – thinking about getting a GIS certificate. But then I got the opportunity to move to Grand Canyon, Arizona, and work as a trail guide/wrangler for the National Park Service concession, Xanterra. After I completed my summer GIS class, I moved west and did not return for another two years. During my time out west, I primarily did guide work from muleback, but I did take the summer of 2015 off and worked as an interpretive ranger for the NPS at Olympic National Park in Washington. After I came to the conclusion that an advanced degree would help further my career placement, I returned to the Shoals last July and began taking graduate classes in public history. I chose to pursue public history because of the relationship that it seeks to form between the public and the past, helping to raise awareness and embrace the significance that acknowledging the past can have on our future. This summer I had the opportunity to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Bishop, California, stationed in the White Mountains, where I provided information to visitors and gave ranger talks on the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine. I also worked on developing an interpretive manual for future rangers and employees at the Shulman Grove Visitor Center. This manual will be a guideline to providing visitors with interpretive information on the history and remarkable adaptations of the Bristlecone Pine.

Dempsey named new UNA public history director

        Brian Dempsey is a new faculty member in the history department at UNA and also has been named director of the UNA Public History Center, which works closely with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area on preservation, archiving and other public-history projects.
        An assistant professor with UNA, he received his Ph.D. in public history at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, writing on the development of blues tourism in Mississippi. Since then, he has worked in academia, the music industry in Nashville and most recently as director of communications and brand on a town revitalization project in the Arkansas Delta. Originally from the Mississippi Delta, he focuses his work on the changing identity of the American South, Southern heritage tourism and cultural landscape analysis. 

And the winners are ...

       MSNHA's first photo contest encouraged several northwest Alabama residents to send in their best creative & evocative images of the Tennessee River, Native American heritage, music and nature.
       And thanks to MSNHA partner Larry Bowser, manager of the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa, in Florence, grand prize winner Mary Carton received a night's stay & dinner at the 360 Grille while category winners Laura Gaile Brown, nature; Courtney Hamner Siegel, the Tennessee River;  Eamonn Walsh, Native American heritage; and Carton, music, received gift cards to the Marriott's Swampers Bar and Grille. All winners also received cash.
        MSNHA will hold another photo contest soon, although dates have not been finalized. Check MSNHA's Facebook page & website for details.
     Here are the winning photos:

Mary Carton, grand prize, sunset over the Tennessee River

Laura Gaile Brown, nature, heron at Joe Wheeler State Park

Eamonn Walsh, Native American heritage, Tom Hendrix's great-grandmother's basket

Courtney Hamner Siegel, Tennessee River, Shoal Creek Nature Preserve

Mary Carton, music, Travis Wammack's guitar

      MSNHA plans to use these winning photos (as well as many of the others submitted to the contest) in advertising, brochures, promotional campaigns, websites, Facebook and any place where we can showcase northwest Alabama's natural beauty & cultural heritage. Your image of the MSNHA could be seen nationwide, so check our Facebook page & website often for news of the next contest.

Heritage Happenings

         August 2017                           


MSNHA partners with Sacred Way
From the MSNHA news desk       
        The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area will partner with Sacred Way Sanctuary Interpretive Center and Museum to help portray an accurate story of Native American culture in northwest Alabama.
        Founded by Yvette and Sean Collin, Sacred Way Sanctuary is an educational and research facility dedicated to preserving the Native American horse and other indigenous animals. The Sanctuary is on land that was part of the 1806 Congressional Reservation—the first federal Indian reservation in the U.S.
        “The Sacred Way Sanctuary Interpretive Center and Museum will be one of MSNHA’s interpretive centers for our Native American heritage theme, which our management plan requires,” said MSNHA Interim Director Carrie Barske. “The museum will open this fall, and we’ll partner on educational events and programs such as sponsoring Native American speakers and other community activities that help preserve native history and culture.”
         Yvette Running Horse Collin, who holds a doctorate in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, will also serve as a Native American consultant for the MSNHA.
         “She’ll focus on outreach to schools and civic organizations throughout our six-county region and development of educational programming for the interpretive center,” Barske said. “She’ll also work on educating the community on Tuscumbia Landing and the Trail of Tears and represent MSNHA’s Native American heritage at local, national and international events.
        Collin said she was honored to be able to enrich the native-heritage educational experience for community residents and visitors.
         “We also look forward to offering opportunities such as drumming, traditional singing and language camps in the summers for families who wish to connect more deeply to their native heritage,” she added.
          The partnership also was announced with a post on the National Heritage Area Programs' Tumblr blog.

Grants deadline is Sept. 15

Thinking about applying for an MSNHA community grant? The next deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15. Everything you need to apply -- including how-to videos that walk you through the process step-by-step -- is on our website's grants page. Email with questions.

Notes from the director

Dr. Carolyn Barske, MSNHA interim director

      It has been four and a half years since I first arrived in the Shoals to launch the University of North Alabama's public history program. One of the first partners I had in the early days of the program was the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area & director Judy Sizemore. Since 2012, the partnership has grown and developed in ways that have strengthened both the MSNHA and UNA's public history program.      
        Public history students have worked as graduate assistants for the heritage area for over three and a half years. These students have developed cell phone tours, designed educational resource packets, developed inventories of historic sites, drafted National Register nominations and created promotional materials. In the classroom, my public history students have worked on projects including walking tours, traveling exhibits, historic district nominations and museum assessments, which have all contributed to the mission of the heritage area.      
        One thing I quickly learned as we developed these projects is that the heritage area is full of a rich, diverse and vibrant history. Having the opportunity to help to share this history has been an exciting journey for both my students and me. Along the way, students have learned to become professionals, to work as team players and to build relationships with their communities. It is certainly exciting to have the opportunity to serve as interim director of an organization that has been so fundamentally important to the success of public history at UNA.
         In the coming months, I am looking forward to developing new projects that benefit all six counties of the heritage area as well as forming new partnerships that will benefit all of our communities. Stay tuned for more news about our grants program, upcoming talks and events and exciting new projects.


Dr. Carolyn Barske appointed
interim director for 2017

 By Dr. Christopher Maynard
Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
University of North Alabama
          Alma Hubbard served as director of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area for the past year; however, her contract ended in December. I want to express my sincere appreciation for her work on behalf of the MSNHA. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Carolyn Barske has agreed to serve as interim director for this calendar year (January 1-December 31, 2017).
          Dr. Barske arrived in the Shoals in 2012 to be the first director of the public history program at the University of North Alabama. She has done a fantastic job with UNA’s Public History program and has been an exemplary faculty member in the department of history. Despite her success in higher education, Dr. Barske recently informed UNA that she wanted to focus all of her efforts on her true passion -- working in the field of public history. Her decision could not have come at a more opportune time for the MSNHA, and I am confident that she will provide outstanding leadership as interim director.
          We will be conducting a search for a director for 2018 and beyond, and you will hear more about this search in the coming months. In the meantime, there is much work to be done, and I want to personally thank all of you for your continued willingness to partner with Dr. Barske and the MSNHA to serve our region. UNA is proud to be a partner with the MSNHA, and we are excited about what can be accomplished in 2017 under Dr. Barske’s leadership.

Welcome, Dr. Barske!

By Cathy Wood, MSNHA media coordinator
           MSNHA is delighted to welcome UNA assistant professor of history Dr. Carolyn (Carrie) Barske as interim director. As coordinator of UNA's growing public history program, she has been a tireless advocate of historic preservation in northwest Alabama and is committed to training students to work as professionals in the field.
          Barske will focus on reorganizing & revitalizing MSNHA administration until UNA hires a new full-time director.
           She graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a bachelor's degree in history in 2002, from Northeastern University with an master's degree in history/public history in 2004 and from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a doctorate in history in 2011.
          Barske sits on the boards of the Tennessee Valley Historical Society, Natchez Trace Parkway Association and National Register Review Board for the State of Alabama. She teaches courses in public history, historic preservation and historical administration. She has worked on a broad range of projects related to historic preservation, including National Register nominations, field-mapping projects and historic cemetery preservation projects. Her publications include the “Sulphur Creek Trestle Preservation Project” (co-authored, The Alabama Review, 2015), “Florence: Alabama’s Renaissance City” (Alabama Heritage, 2015) and Images of America: Florence (2014). She has also authored numerous Encyclopedia of Alabama entries, including “FAME," "The CCC in Alabama” and “Pope’s Tavern.” She is an avid equestrian, hiker and kayaker.

Public-history grad student
sees history everywhere

By Brian Murphy, UNA graduate student

Name: Brian Murphy
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Undergraduate studies: State University of New York at Geneseo
Degree: Bachelor’s in American Studies
Graduate studies: UNA Public History Program
         Why I chose history: I was drawn to history because I liked hearing stories about the past. We can better understand ourselves and our society by studying the past. How the past shapes the present is something I think about quite a bit.
         What I specialize in: I’d like to specialize in architectural      history; I am fascinated by the history of American building  practices & architecture. But I am also interested in local Florence  history, African-American history and social history in general.
         After I’m out of school: I’ve never had as much fun working  as the past months I’ve spent at MSNHA. I'd love to continue to  research and work on local history projects. Working in a museum  would be terrific.
        Projects for MSNHA: St. John’s Episcopal Church National  Register of Historic Places Nomination; documentary outline for St.  John’s Church; St. John’s Historic Preservation Center outline;  educators' resource packet for MSNHA architecture.
        Other interests: Outside of reading and researching, I enjoy  hiking, fishing, some woodworking and spending time with my  family. I’m a huge Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fan; I spend a lot  of time agonizing over them throughout the year.
        Background: I graduated from college in 2007 and worked as  a supervisor in an industrial laundromat before becoming the  manager of a lumberyard in central Pennsylvania. I thought about going back to school, but my wife was in a doctoral program & at the time we could not afford it. My wife, daughter and I moved to Florence in August of 2015 and while looking for jobs, I heard about UNA’s Public History program. I talked to Dr. Matthew Barlow about public history — what it was, what you could do with a degree in it, why it was important  — and I was hooked. My first semester I took historic preservation with Dr. Barske & I really gravitated toward it. I helped work on the McFarland Heights National Register of Historic Places Nomination and enjoyed everything about the process. I really like thinking about creative & engaging ways to present history and am planning to do a directed study project at Pope’s Tavern that focuses on a redesign of that museum. There is such an interest in history in Florence and it feels great to where so many people care about their history.

St. John’s Church in Tuscumbia
working with Partners for Sacred Places
By Ninon Parker, St. John's trustee
           The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area recently received a technical assistance grant from the Partners for Sacred Places, a non-profit foundation based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on behalf of St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Tuscumbia. Selected from a nation-wide pool of applicants, St. John's was awarded.the grant was awarded because of its historical and architectural significance,
          The Rev. Dr. Tom Osborne, deacon of Grace Episcopal Church, Sheffield, and Ninon Parker, trustee of St. John’s Church, first  approached the MSNHA for advice while seeking financial assistance for the church’s preservation. Then-MSNHA director Alma Hubbard researched options & found the Partners for Sacred Places program. Upon notification that the church was selected to participate with the Partners, an advisory board  was established that included various representatives of the  community, as was prescribed by the program. A series of  meetings was held, during which additional participants    were tapped to take part in a community asset mapping.  Although not bringing funds to the church, the mapping  event was designed to discover ways that the community  could utilize the building above its role as a church.
          The building was constructed in 1852 to serve an  Episcopal congregation established in 1839. St. John’s is  Alabama’s oldest Carpenter’s Gothic Church. It is believed to   be the state’s earliest example of a trend among Anglican congregations to build frame churches reflecting the English Gothic style, as led by New York architect Richard Upjohn. The church was closed for regular service in 1955 but opens its doors once a year for the annual All Saints’ Day memorial service. Additionally, it is used for meetings, visits by tour groups, weddings and funerals.
          In late September, Bob Jaeger and Joshua Castagno from Partners for Sacred Places came to the Shoals to lead the community asset mapping event, which was attended by some 75 participants. The historical, architectural, religious and cultural aspects of St. John’s Church were common themes during the session, resulting in vibrant dialogue & ideas for continued enjoyment of the church. St. John’s remains essentially unchanged since its construction and contains all the original furnishings & stained glass windows. Excellent acoustics were noted as an attribute for its use for small concerts and performances.
          In December the team returned its results in a report that compiled ideas generated at the mapping event.
      "It is now up to us at the local level to disseminate the information gathered in the report and to determine the best ways to utilize the findings," said Parker. “I hope that we can follow up by inviting the public to review the report and formulate plans to hold some new events in this wonderful old building and thereby work to continue preservation efforts. Many people love this church and many in the community consider it an important landmark.”
      Working with the MSNHA, graduate student in UNA’s public history program Brian Murphy assembled an extensive nomination application to the National Register of Historic Places. St. John’s Church is in the Tuscumbia National Register Historic District, but Murphy's new research supports an individual designation.
          “This will become an added benefit of participating in the Partners for Sacred Places project,” Parker added. "We thank the MSNHA for its proactive support of historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.”

MSNHA sets April 3 grants deadline, workshop

By Cathy Wood, grants administrator
         The deadline to apply for the next round of Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area community grants is Monday, April 3 – and MSNHA has increased the maximum award to $10,000.
         Grant awards from $1,000 up to $10,000 are available for heritage-focused projects in MSNHA’s six counties: Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan. To be eligible, proposed projects must focus on assessment, preservation activities, interpretation, archiving or workshops and training sessions and be connected to one of the MSNHA’s themes: music, Native American culture or the Tennessee River.
         MSNHA has always wanted to offer sizeable grant awards for larger projects. Now that our grants program is established, we’re confident we can help museums, archives, associations, historic sites and other community non-profits reach some of their goals.
        Guidelines, applications and instructions are at
        MSNHA will host a free grants workshop.
Heritage Happenings

           April 2016 

Notes from the director

By Alma P. Hubbard

     As the new director for the heritage area, I have been impressed by so much of what I've discovered here, but one of the things that has impressed me most is the strong sense of community pride I hear in the voices of our partners throughout the six-county region. Whether speaking with members of historical associations, talking with docents and volunteers at museums or listening to the interests of our community grants applicants, I always hear a strong collective note expressing community stewardship of our regional heritage striking a dominant chord in these conversations. I am also encouraged by the interest to build public-private partnerships to better determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.
         One new collaborative community partnership with the heritage area is in the works. St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Tuscumbia, and the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area have won a grant to work with the national nonprofit Partners for Sacred Places to help activate this historic building as a vital community resource.
          The Technical Assistance grant recently was awarded by the Heritage Development Partnership in collaboration with the National Park Service. The grant will fund an asset-mapping project which will engage local leaders and members of the public. Asset-mapping will connect the dots between key community institutions and resources to respond to unique opportunities that will contribute to the vitality of the National Heritage Area and surrounding communities.
           MSNHA is interested in the preservation of historic places of worship as part of its mission to protect and preserve cultural and historic resources throughout its six-county region. The connection of assets can lead to new programs, connect new resources and initiate the new partnerships that will make the most of St. John’s place in the community.
           St. John’s work with Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places will focus on a bold approach to advance the preservation and active use of the church’s important historic building by thinking creatively about ways to respond to the needs and opportunities posed by the community. Partners is the only national, nonsectarian nonprofit committed to the preservation and active community use of America’s older religious properties.
         “This is an exciting opportunity both for St. John’s and for the entire Shoals community,” said Ninon Parker, St. John’s trustee and project partner.
          “This project will allow the Diocese of Alabama to provide a significant service to the broader area that was so long served by this venerable old parish,” added Rev. Thomas Osborne, deacon of Grace Episcopal Church, Sheffield, and project partner.

MSNHA hosts grant workshop
By Alma P. Hubbard
MSNHA director
           In an effort to both promote MSNHA's grants program and to teach interested applicants how to prepare successful applications, the heritage area hosted its inaugural Community Grants Workshop on March 22 at the Guillot University Center on the University of North Alabama campus.
          The workshop was well-received with 18 participants representing three of our six counties within the heritage area. The potential grants applicants attended in preparation for the upcoming grant application deadline of 5 p.m., Monday, May 2. (Visit the grants section of our website for details and an application form.)
       During the afternoon session, attendees learned about  National Heritage Areas and the National Park Service from  MSNHA director Alma P. Hubbard. Grants administrator Cathy  Wood went over the application process and Anita Holcombe,  director of grants and contract accounting, walked everyone  through the budget and financial details. Kyrel Buchanan, interim  director of sponsored programs, introduced the workshop  speakers.
             Participants were able to have their questions answered, and the MSNHA staff learned more about potential problems applicants might encounter in the application process. In addition, several successful grant applicants from the first two rounds of grant cycles were able to speak from their own experiences.
             In a participants' survey filled out after the workshop, most of the attendees said they had learned much about MSNHA's grant program and felt a degree of confidence in their ability to submit a successful application.
             MSNHA plans to host another grant writing workshop in the fall and to develop online tutorials, as well.         

Heritage Area helps sponsor storytelling festival

By Alma P. Hubbard
MSNHA director
           MSNHA is proud to partner with UNA’s Front Porch Storytelling Festival to feature educational programming with a focus on the rich musical heritage of the area, tours of our partner sites and festival events being held along the banks of the Tennessee River. This is a perfect fit for telling the story of the heritage area and its major themes.
              Our sponsorship of the festival includes
  • the Shoals Music Tour, hosted by songwriter, musician and UNA visiting associate professor Walt Aldridge, 1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19;
  • the free Singing River Songwriters' Round, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19, with Kate Campbell, Donny Lowery, Mark Narmore and Aldridge, in the GUC Performance Center on UNA's campus;
  • workshops by speaker and songwriter Minton Sparks, of Nashville, throughout the day Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, in the GUC Performance Center and Loft, free for single-day or two-day ticket holders.
         The Shoals Music tour will include stops at the W.C. Handy home, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, FAME Studio and Cypress Moon Studio. Throughout the tour, Walt will provide  educational  insight into the music history of the Muscle Shoals Area  as well as  the value the music industry has created for the area.
        Additionally, Walt will host the Singing River Songwriters’ Round    with Kate, Donny and Mark to communicate the power of music to    the audience through songs and stories of their inspiration.    Additionally, they will enlighten the audience on the music industry    and their personal experiences. Donny and Mark are both members    of the Greater Shoals community and their stories will reflect the    special heritage unique to their home. This free community event  will incorporate stories that will educate the audience about the art  of songwriting and the music industry.
         Minton specializes in conducting writing workshops that inspire    and guide individuals on how to share their stories. Additionally,  she will present programs to students in local schools during the festival dates.
            For more information, visit the festival website.
Marketing and visitor services updates
By Alma P. Hubbard
MSNHA director

MSNHA Passport Program

         We have created a logo for our stamp program that's part of the popular Passport to Your National Parks, built a page on our website that lists our 13 stamp locations and sent both to the National Park Service. We are now officially recognized on the NPS' National Heritage Areas website. This marketing approach is significant on a national and global scale, as both national and international travelers frequent the NPS site in order to plan their travels around the country in order to obtain their cancellation stamps and fill up their passports.

 Full-page promotion in Early American Life

     MSNHA has a full-page educational promotion in the April issue of Early American  Life magazine. This highly-esteemed publication has a national reach of over  100,000 with 75,000 individual subscribers and appeals to those interested in  historic homes and who enjoy visiting historic sites. We hope that you will pick up a  copy of this issue, which features Mooresville, the first town that the Alabama  Territorial Legislature incorporated. The entire village now is on the National Register  of Historic Places. Highlights include the state's oldest continually operating post-  office building. One of MSNHA's passport stamps is also in Mooresville,  at JaVa.Mooresville coffee shop.
          Sizemore transitions to special projects
By Judy Sizemore
Special Projects Coordinator
        The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has made great strides in the past few years with help and support of our communities and partners. No words are adequate for the support the MSNHA's fiduciary, University of North Alabama, has given us. None of the successes would have been possible without UNA’s guidance and support. Dr. Pricilla Holland, Dr. John Thornell, Dr. Bill Cale and the staff of the office of Sponsored Programs -- Dr. Tanja Blackstone, Anita Holcombe, LaLana Hawk and Lynda Coates -- are just a few who encouraged, guided and kept us on the path of success. We are fortunate to have Dr. Kyrel Buchanan currently at the helm serving as interim director.
           One of those vital partners is UNA’s master of public history program. We have a strong and valuable relationship with this program. With the help of professors Carrie Barske and Matthew Barlow and several graduate students, the MSNHA has successfully undertaken many community projects, such as creating visitors’ guides and educators’ resource packets.
            Our headline achievement so far is federal approval of our Management Plan. The development of this plan took almost four years, from the issuing of the Request for Proposal to its approval by the U.S. Department of Interior in September of 2014. Having our management plan approved means that the MSNHA is eligible for more federal funding to distribute within our six counties – something we have looked forward to since we started. We have implemented that major portion of the Management Plan with the introduction of our Community Grant program. MSNHA staffer Cathy Wood has done the heavy lifting for this program. Everyone is looking forward to the next grant round -- the deadline is 5 p.m. Monday, May 2. Make your plans to apply!
              Just like a child who is growing up, I feel that it’s time to pass on the leadership to a new and full-time director. I know the MSNHA needs to go in directions that aren’t my strong suit, so a search was done for the next caretaker of the heritage area. We were lucky to find that person in Alma Hubbard, who has the skills needed for the next phase of developing the MSNHA into a collaborative and sustainable heritage area that supports and celebrates all of our stakeholders. 
             I will continue as Special Projects manager, working on projects that have been on the table for a few years. We all will work to help our communities better tell the stories of our little piece of heaven.

World-famous traveler visits MSNHA

        As the door to the MSNHA office creaked open, a smiling bandana-clad  woman wearing cargo pants and hiking boots walked in and got straight to  the point.
         "Are you open?" she inquired politely in a lilting accent that seemed  Australian and international at the same time. "I'm interested in your  Heritage Area."
         Carol Kiwi Donovan, a New Zealand native and world-traveler now  living in California, is a legend in the birding world -- she was the first person  to view and log all 204 worldwide bird families.
          Always up for a challenge, she now has a new goal: to travel to every  single National Park Service unitNational Heritage AreaNational  Trails and Affiliated Areas (a total of some 450-plus locations). And she does  it in style -- driving an 18-foot recreational vehicle. Donovan's also collecting  stamps from the popular Passport to Your National Parks program and was  glad to learn that the MSNHA had 13 stamps available in its six counties.
        "I love national parks and national heritage areas," Donovan said. "They are such a valuable resource and a priceless treasure for families. Part of my goal is to encourage all grandparents to help their grandchildren discover what's out there."
          Online posts are full of "Kiwi" sightings, as hikers, campers, birders and other outdoor enthusiasts and families around the country joyfully share their chance meetings with their lively fellow traveler.
          Driving west to visit Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee, and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, in Corinth, Mississippi, Donovan was headed home to California for a break before her next round of NPS visits.
          While in the MSNHA, she had stopped by Helen Keller Birthplace, Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, one of MSNHA passport stamp locations. And although she didn't have time to explore MSNHA's other passport sites, she promised a return visit.
           "You have some lovely country here," she said about her drive through northwest Alabama. "And you have a strong musical influence, too, I've read? I look forward to coming back and staying longer next time."

Public-history grad student
specializes in black studies

By Sam Keiser
UNA graduate student

Name: Sam Keiser
Hometown: East Limestone, Alabama
Undergraduate studies: Spring Hill College
Degree: Bachelor’s in History
Minors: Theology and English
Graduate studies: UNA Public History Program
         Why I chose history: I chose history because I was drawn to the idea of telling stories about the past. Being an avid reader also fueled my interest in history. However, I think the main reason I chose to study history is because it’s important to remember where we came from and how events of the past have shaped and still shape how we interact with the world today.
         What I specialize in: Right now I would definitely say I am in the process of becoming specialized in African American history, particularly the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. However, I hope to expand my specializations into other topics as well. For example, recently, I’ve become interested in learning more about the history of Native Americans in Florence.
         After I’m out of school: The number one goal I have after leaving school is to work in the Smithsonian's National Museum of  African American History and Culture being built.
        Projects for MSNHA: Educator’s resource packet and PowerPoint for the Tuscumbia-Courtland and Decatur Railroad.
        Other interests: I’m an avid soccer player and I hope to be able to do some type of coaching in addition to working in a museum in the future. I am also an avid reader of pretty much anything that catches my eye.
        Background: I’m Sam Keiser, a graduate assistant working with the MSNHA while pursuing my master’s in public history. I’m from East Limestone, where I attended East Limestone High School until I graduated in 2011. I then attended Spring Hill College, where I was a four-year member of the soccer team. I’ve also played semi-professionally for a local team in Alabama for several seasons, as well.
        While in school, I majored in history with a double minor in theology and English. I was also a member of the Spring Hill history club during my time there. During the summers I would volunteer at the Alabama Veterans Museumand Archives, where I would give tours and do housekeeping. My senior year I worked as an intern at the historic Oakleigh House in Mobile. I first heard the term “public history” while working at Oakleigh and decided I wanted to pursue that as a career. I chose to attend UNA partially because it was close to home and I had received a scholarship offer. I was also drawn to the fact that this would be the first public history master’s program in the state of Alabama. I also felt like being on the ground floor of a new program would give me more of an opportunity to interact with the community of Florence. Overall, I believe UNA will prepare me to pursue my goal of working in the field of public history.

Grants winner Oka Kapassa teaches
students about Native Americans

        One of the first recipients of MSNHA’s community grants program was the Oka Kapassa Festival Inc.,  which used the grant award to help fund the annual  two-day  Oka Kapassa – Sharing the Legends festival in Tuscumbia this past  September.
        Oka Kapassa brings educational resources and presenters,  demonstrators and living-history enactors together to teach area  students and the community about Native American folk traditions  and cultural heritage. Activities include historic tribal dances,  storytelling, hands-on experiences, visual and performing arts and  craft demonstrations. The festival targets fourth- and fifth-graders in  Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties and adjacent areas of  Mississippi and Tennessee, based on the Alabama Social Studies  Course of Study content.
         About 1,000 students attended the festival on Friday and about  9,000 people attended on Saturday. Participants included 25    vendors/crafters, 25 performers and five living-history enactors.
        “Volunteers and community participants were impressed with  the amount of information the exhibitors and crafters conveyed in a short amount of time. Those attending the library performances were complimentary of the quality of the performers and variety of experiences -- Native American music, dance and storytelling,” said project director Rose D. McGee. “And community participants were surprised by the rich Native American heritage and history found in the Shoals.”
         Diamond Go-Sti Brown, a Cherokee (Eastern) living-history enactor, commented that Oka Kapassa was one of the most authentic Native American events he had been a part of over the years, McGee added.

   Thank you for supporting the
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area!

This is the January edition of the MSNHA e-newsletter. Included are articles on sites and attractions in MSNHA's six counties, a calendar of events and national and regional NHA news. Got an idea for a story? Know something we've missed? Email with comments, feedback and suggestions.

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Heritage Happenings

An e-newsletter from the 
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area



July 2014



Calendar of events

   Please note that this is only a partial listing of events in the six MSNHA counties. There's plenty going on almost every day. Visit the MSNHA Facebook page and website for links to activities and news from Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.                                                             
  • Learn about images from Florence's history on Friday, July 18, at 2 p.m., at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library,  309 N. Wood Ave., Florence, with the book launch of "Images of America: Florence." Dr. Carolyn Barske, assistant professor of history at the University of North Alabama, and graduate students Clint Alley, Jesse Brock and Wesley Garmon will discuss photographs and stories in the book. Copies will be available to buy.
  • Muscle Shoals Sound, 3614 Jackson Highway, Sheffield, and FAME Recording Studios, 603 Avalon Avenue, Muscle Shoals, are open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays -- sometimes with special surprise guests on hand! Plus, Muscle Shoals Sound is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Thursday until renovation of this iconic site begins later this summer (donation of $5 requested in lieu of admission).
  • W.C. Handy Music Festival -- William Christopher Handy was born in 1873 in Florence, and since 1982, the Music Preservation Society has been                 honoring and celebrating the "Father of the Blues" with an annual ten-day series of events held in northwest Alabama This year's festival starts this weekend and runs through Sunday, July 27. Go here and here for info on venues and performers or pick up an official brochure at Handy headquarters. 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., next to Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts and across from Wilson Park in downtown Florence.
  • Summer Art Stroll -- Athens, Friday, July 25, 4-8 p.m. More than 20 visual artists including painters, photographers, ceramicists, potters, mixed media artists, clothing designers, and more will be at the Limestone County Courthouse Lawn on The Square. There will be live music and children's activities. For more information, contact Athens Arts League at 
  • Watermelon Festival -- Aug. 15-16, Russellville. Arts, crafts, food, music and a 5K and 1-mile runs. Visit here for details.
  • Concerts by the River -- Every Monday through August, Rhodes Ferry Park, Decatur, 6-8 p.m. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. Free. Click here for schedule.
  • Third Fridays in Decatur -- Downtown Decatur features music, shopping and more, 4:30-9 p.m., every third Friday through October.                
  • Farmers Market -- 211 1st Ave. SE, Decatur, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. as produce is available, Monday-Saturday, through Nov. 8
  • Mostly Blues, through Sept. 8, Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence.To set the mood for the W.C. Handy Music Festival, area artists create paintings, drawings and sculptures with a musical flair. Exhibit open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Free.
  • Artworks, July 27-Sept. 12,Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia, ArtWorks is an annual exhibition that’s a multimedia survey of work by Tennessee Valley Museum of Art artist-members.Exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Admission charged.
  • The Market at Casa Grande Park, 218 2nd Ave. SE, Decatur, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesdays, through Oct. 14, is an open-air market with the mission of bringing the community together by providing a marketplace with fresh produce and quality handcrafted artisan goods.It also is a fundraiser to benefit the Princess Theatre, in Decatur.

MSNHA notes

  • The MSNHA still is working on its management plan, a federal requirement for all National Heritage Areas. We are in the final stages of putting everything together and hope to be officially recognized as a functioning NHA soon. Thanks to everyone who attended our public draft-proposal meetings and offered insightful feedback and thoughtful comments. Parts of the management plan are available for reading and download on the MSNHA website.
  • MSNHA director Judy Sizemore and media coordinator Cathy Wood attended the Alliance of National Heritage Areas' spring meeting, hosted by the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, in Lithonia, Ga.              They met with NHAs staffers from across the country, explored the area's historic, cultural and natural resources, learned how other Heritage Areas meet their own challenges and had tons of fun.

NHA news

      Did you know that the MSNHA website has some valuable information for educators, especially those teaching Alabama and local history and American Indian heritage? Click on the links below to go straight to these lesson plans.
Volunteer opportunities
  • From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America's natural resources. Become a volunteer by filling out an application and contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources. Interested citizens formed the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association, a local independent association, to provide additional services to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wheeler Wildlife Refuge and the ever-growing number of visitors. Members take pride in the refuge and believe all citizens should share in the responsibilities of caring for their public lands. And volunteers are welcome! Want to have fun, meet new people and help wildlife? Become a volunteer with the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers are actively involved in many of the refuge programs. Volunteers put in more than 7,000 volunteer hours each year to directly benefit the wildlife and habitat of the refuge. In addition, the refuge offers and RV Volunteer Program for RV volunteers to staff the visitor center and provide information to visitors. The RV site includes water, electric and sewer service, as well as access to washer/dryer. RV volunteers from all over the country and all walks of life visit and volunteer. Volunteers get to experience some of the most rewarding wildlife work in the country. A wide array of volunteer activities are available for local individuals and groups. If you would like to volunteer for the Wheeler Refuge, email  

MSNHA office moves to the Governor's House


     Come to the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area's new office Tuesday night during the W.C. Handy Music Festival and get a first look at the recently published "Images of America Series: Florence."
         MSNHA is helping sponsor the Music & Food Fest on North Court Median, 6-10 p.m. Tuesday, featuring local performers Dillon Hodges and the Local Saints. It's your chance to discover MSNHA's new office space in the Governor's House, home of Alabama Gov. Edward A. O'Neal (1882-1886) and to buy a copy of the book by University of North Alabama assistant professor of history Dr. Carolyn M. Barske and graduate students Clint Alley, Jesse Brock and Wesley Garmon.
           Copies of the book are $24. Also on Tuesday night MSNHA will sell copies of the just-released Music Shoals Music Sampler Collector's Edition CD with such songs as "You Better Move On," by Arthur Alexander and "When A Man Loves a Woman," by Percy Sledge. CDs are $10 each.
        Last month, MSNHA moved from UNA's campus to the historic building, which is pictured in Barske's book.
         "We still are part of the UNA family and we're so grateful to the university for housing us during the past four years," said Judy Sizemore, MSNHA director. "This move makes us more accessible to visitors looking for tourist information and for our National Park passport stamps, and it puts us in one of the MSNHA's prime historic locations."
        Located at 468 N. Court St., the house was built c. 1840s. O'Neal bought it shortly afterwards and it was his home until he died in 1890. O'Neal and his wife, Olivia, had several children; one son, Emmet, bought the nearby Greek revival Courtview in 1900 and was governor from 1911 to 1915, making Edward and Emmet the only father and son Alabama governors. The O'Neal family had the house until the 1970s; sisters-in-law Nancy O'Neal and Dianne O'Neal bought and restored it two years ago -- the sixth generation of O'Neals to own the house.
         MSNHA is renting the two rooms to the right of the central hall. With immediate access from the front door, the front room is dedicated to telling the MSNHA story. Visitors can find tourist information here highlighting the history, culture and natural resources of MSNHA's six counties. In addition, Sizemore wants to host meetings and workshops here. The second room is work space for her and the MSNHA staff.
      As appreciative as she is to be in such an historically significant building, Sizemore is equally happy to be on Court Street.
      "Downtown Florence, like many of our downtown areas in the MSNHA, is thriving," she said. "We have restaurants, art, music, shopping, theatre, museums and much more, as well as UNA. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and our MSNHA office is right in the middle of it."
       Sizemore is planning an open house for the new office space. Check MSNHA's website and Facebook page soon for details.
      Call MSNHA at 256.765.5028 or email for information on ordering the book and CD.  

 Meet the graduate assistants ...
    Two graduate students, Jesse Brock and Wes Garmon, from the University of North Alabama's public history program have spent the past semesters working with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area as graduate assistants. In this issue, we're highlighting Garmon, who graduated this spring and shortly will leave for a job with the Alabama State Department of Archives and History, in Montgomery, as an educational outreach specialist.
      Look for a profile on Brock in the next newsletter.
     Garmon, 33, grew up in the Bremen/Cold Springs community of southern Cullman County. He graduated from Cold Springs High School and, after deciding to pursue his passion of teaching history, earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Wallace State Community College Hanceville in 2005, a bachelor’s degree in history and his secondary education license and certification from Athens State University in 2008.
       “I decided to add to my education in the fall of 2012,” he said. “I felt that a master’s degree in history with a concentration on public history from UNA would allow me to teach history in ways that transcend the traditional classroom experience.”
       At UNA, he focused on archival and museum management, archival research, oral history and community outreach programs. He also worked with an oral history project that gathered experiences of the Shoals’ African-American community and then presented those findings at local, state and national conferences. In addition, he wrote cell phone walking tour scripts for the MSNHA (including one on the Downtown Florence Historical District), produced tour narratives for MSNHA’s American Indian and architectural themes and wrote and presented a walking tour of UNA’s campus for the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau.
         During his public history internship in UNA’s Collier Library Archives and Special Collections, he analyzed, prepared, arranged, re-housed and described the unprocessed Rosenbaum Family Collection and prepared a preliminary finding aid to help other researchers. For his graduate assistantship, he finalized preparation of the Rosenbaum Family Collection and completed a file-level finding aid. He also developed a strategy to reorganize and re-house Collier Library’s University Collection files and helped in the day-to-day operations of the archives, giving him the chance to research and digitize photographs for Acadia Publishing’s “Images of America: Florence.”
        Garmon's master’s thesis focused on a 20-year strategic plan to revitalize and develop the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Rosenbaum House in Florence. Participating in UNA’s London Study Abroad Program, he studied museum-administration best practices at several of London’s finest museums by interviewing staff members, observing museum operations and researching at the British Library. He employed a similar approach to museums in the U.S., traveling to museums and working with officials and staff members to formulate a comprehensive strategic plan for the Rosenbaum House.
         “My time at UNA and my experiences working with the MSNHA has made me a better professional in the field of public history,” Garmon said. “I’ve worked with members of the Shoals community as well as city and state officials to develop projects illustrating the rich history of our area, and I’ve gained experience and knowledge I couldn’t have anywhere else. My passion in life is to teach history and ensure a continuous improvement in its presentation and content.”
        In his job with the state archives, he’ll create lesson plans based on archival material for history teachers throughout the state and help educators using those resources and others from the archives.
          “I look forward to the future knowing I’ve been enriched by my time in the Shoals and by my experience with UNA and the MSNHA,” he added.

      Map Our History  
       The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has added six cancellation stamps to the Passport to Your National Parks© program, which encourages people to explore the history and natural resources in America’s national spaces.
        New sites are Alabama Chanin, 462 Lane Drive, Florence, factory tours of its clothing manufacturing at 2 p.m., Mondays-Fridays; Alabama Music Hall of Fame, 617 Hwy. 72, Tuscumbia, exhibits celebrating Alabama’s music heritage; Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum, 1219 County Road 187, Danville, preserves and presents artifacts and geological evidence of the settlement of the Creek (Muskogee), Yuchi (Uchean), Shawnee (Algonquin), Chickasaw (Muskogee) and Cherokee (Iroquoian) tribes; Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, 3121 Visitor Center Road, Decatur, a bird habitat also offering hiking and fishing; Belle Chevre, 18849 Upper Fort Hampton Road, Elkmont, creamery tours of hand-crafting French-style goat’s milk cheese; and Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park, 331 Trail Head Road, Hodges, horse-riding trails.
          Also new this year is MSNHA’s Map Our History© program. Families can download a frame-able hand-illustrated treasure map -- designed by Muscle Shoals High School art teacher Jason Behel -- of the 13 stamp sites from, collect all 13 stamps and then receive a commemorative coin with the MSNHA logo.
        “Participating in Map Our History is a perfect summer-time family activity,” said MSNHA executive director Judy Sizemore. “It’s a great way to travel throughout our part of the state, learn about history in our own backyard and discover some new outdoor recreational opportunities.”
       The cancellation stamps are free. Visitors should check operating hours in advance since many sites aren’t open full-time, Sizemore added.
      Last year MSNHA established seven passport sites: W.C. Handy Home, Museum and Library, Florence; Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, Tuscumbia; Red Bay Museum, which offers historical displays and memorabilia from country music star Tammy Wynette; Pond Spring, home of Confederate Gen. Joe Wheeler, Courtland; Mooresville, the first town incorporated by the Alabama Territorial Legislature, on Nov. 16, 1818; Old State Bank, completed in 1833, Decatur; and the MSNHA office.
      Passports cost less than $10 each and are sold at as well as gift shops at Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tenn.; Corinth Interpretive Center, Corinth, Miss.; Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center, Tupelo, Miss.; and other National Park Service locations.
        For more information, visit

Thank you for reading this edition 
of the MSNHA e-newsletter,
Heritage Happenings.

Look for the next issue soon!

Got a story idea?
Want to share something with
other MSNHA supporters?

 Thank you for supporting the
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area!

     This is the January edition of the MSNHA e-newsletter. Included are articles on sites and attractions in MSNHA's six counties, a calendar of events and national and regional NHA news. Got an idea for a story? Know something we've missed? Email with comments, feedback and suggestions.

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Heritage Happenings

an e-newsletter from the

Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area        256.765.5028
January, 2014 

Plans, projects & Grammys
kick off 2014 in the MSNHA


      As a new year begins, things are revving up in the six counties of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area. Here's a quick look at some of the events, openings and other news in northwest Alabama. Check MSNHA's Facebook page every day for updates. 

 Festival of the Cranes On Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Center, in Decatur, sponsors its Festival of the Cranes at the Visitors Center, east of Decatur on Alabama Hwy. 67. Activities include a sunrise breakfast and bird walk, films, presentations, workshops a fund-raising lunch and experts on hand all day to help you spot the birds and answer your questions. Most events are free. Call 256.350.6639 for details.

 Saturday Suppers at Belle Chevre Saturday Suppers at Belle Chevre Cheese Shop and Tasting Room, in downtown Elkmont, return for 2014 with the first dinner on Saturday and another set for Jan. 18. Reservations are required. Seatings are at 5:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Menu includes black-eyed pea cakes with grilled shrimp and sweet potato puree, pork chops stuffed with fig goat cheese and biscuits with honey goat cheese and roasted strawberries. $25 per person. Call 256-732-3577.

AMHOF reopens The Alabama Music Hall of Fame, on U.S. 72 in Tuscumbia, reopened this fall almost a year after it closed due to budget problems. With help from state and local supporters, AMHOF again offers visitors a dazzling and fascinating look at Alabama's music history. From letters and photographs to stage outfits to the band Alabama's tour bus, AMHOF's exhibits tell the continuing story of the state's musical heritage. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Visit the website for more info.

 Alabama Chanin opens cafe, store Florence native Natalie Chanin, owner of Alabama Chanin fashion and lifestyle business, opened a cafe and flagship store/workshop headquarters in Florence this past fall. Called The Factory, the former textile-manufacturing space in the Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park already is a destination for visitors from across the country as well as locals looking for a fun spot to eat. Stop by for sandwiches, salads and delectable sweet treats from organic and locally sourced ingredients as well as Alabama Chanin clothing, books, do-it-yourself kits and other local and handmade products. Check the Alabama Chanin Facebook page for updated hours and menus.

 Athens hosts Main Street meeting The Spirit of Athens revitalization group and the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area host a meeting from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15, in the Athens State University Sandridge Student Center. This workshop is designed to help other Alabama towns work toward Main Street Alabama designation. Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama state coordinator, will lead the sessions. For details on Main Street Alabama, contact Ellen Mertins, with the Alabama Historical Commission, at 334.230.2657 or For more  on the Athens meeting, contact Spirit of Athens at 256.232.9040 or 

Grammy nods for northwest Alabama Three 2013 Grammy nominations and one special award are connected to northwest Alabama: The Alabama Shakes, from Athens, nominated for best rock performance, "Always Alright" from the “Silver Linings Playbook” soundtrack; The Civil Wars -- John Paul White, one half of the duo, is from Florence -- “From This Valley” from “The Civil Wars,” best country duo/group performance; and the documentary “Muscle Shoals,” which tells the story of FAME Studios, nominated for best compilation soundtrack for visual media. In addition, Rick Hall, owner of FAME, will receive the Recording Academy’s Trustees award, which recognizes notable contributions in recording outside of performance. The Grammy Awards ceremony is broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26, on CBS.

AMHOF induction tickets on sale  For the first time, the biennial Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be in northwest Alabama. The black-tie event is Friday, Feb. 28, at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center, in Florence.Table sponsorships in the main ballroom are $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500. Individual tickets for theatre-style seating in adjacent rooms are $50 and include a cash bar and large screens showing the induction ceremony live. Inductees are long-time Muscle Shoals musicians Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, soul/gospel singer Candi Staton, country radio broadcaster Charlie Monk and the late country artist Hank Locklin. The late jazz legend Sun Ra will be honored with the John Herbert Orr Pioneer Award. Florence's John Paul White will emcee. For details or to buy tickets, call Florence-Lauderdale Tourism at 256.740.4141.

MSNHA moving forward  Executive director Judy Sizemore and the MSNHA staff have been finalizing the Heritage Area's management plan. The completed plan goes to the Department of the Interior and National Park Service for approval. Once the plan is approved, MSNHA moves into Tier Two funding and will launch its local grant program. We also are continuing our mission of promoting cultural tourism in the six northwest Alabama counties of the Tennessee River basin and working to protect and preserve cultural and natural resources in the area. To help spread the word, we've added Pinterest to our social-media mix. Join us there to see images from beautiful northwest Alabama and post your own. We're also revamping our website for easier access to accurate and current information, so check back often. And let us know how we're doing! Email, call 256.765.5028, post or message on our Facebook page or tweet @MSHeritageArea.

Thanks for reading!
Look for our next issue soon.

Copyright © 2013
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is
UNA Box 5231
Florence AL 35632
Our office is
UNA Keller Hall 240
Office hours are
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays
and by appointment

 Thank you for supporting the
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area!

     This is the January edition of the MSNHA e-newsletter. Included are articles on sites and attractions in MSNHA's six counties, a calendar of events and national and regional NHA news. Got an idea for a story? Know something we've missed? Email with comments, feedback and suggestions.

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.


Heritage Happenings

An e-newsletter from the 
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area 


August, 2013



Calendar of events

   Please note that this is only a partial listing of events

in the six MSNHA counties. There's plenty going on

almost every day. Visit the MSNHA Facebook page for

links to activities and news from Colbert, Franklin,

Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.

  • Summer Art Stroll -- Athens, Aug 23, 4-8 p.m. More

    than 20 visual artists including painters,

    photographers, ceramicists, potters, jewelers, mixed

    media artists, clothing designers and more will be at

    the Limestone County Courthouse lawn on The

    Square. There will be live music and children's

    activities. Details, contact Athens Arts League

  • Billy Reid Shindig -- Florence, Aug. 23-25.

    Internationally known award-winning fashion

    designer Billy Reid throws a party every year ... and

    invites everybody. There'll be films, food, music,

    shopping, baseball, panel discussions and more.

    Call 877. 757.3934 for details.
  • Ladies' Tea and Fashion Show -- Creekside

    Plantation, Mooresville, Aug. 25, 2-4 p.m. Chapter Z

    P.E.O, a philanthropic education organization that

    raises money for for women's education, is

    sponsoring a fund-raising tea at the shitoric

    Creekside home. Hats encouraged! Tickets, $20.

    Details, 256-479-1429. 
  • Shoals Area Labor Day Festivities -- Spring Park,

    Tuscumbia, Sept. 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sponsored by

    the Shoals Labor Council. Parade at 11 am,

    speeches by Union representatives, state and local

    leaders.  Miss & Little Miss Labor Day contest.and

    food. Free Admission. Details, 256.383.0783
  • Key Underwood Memorial Coon Dog Cemetery Labor

    Day Celebration
     -- 4945 Coondog Cemetery Road,

    Cherokee, Sept. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 300

    graves are freshly decorated for the event. Music by

    the Southern Strangers, buck dancing and liar’s

    contest.  BBQ and drinks available. Free admission. Details, 256.383.0783.
  • Bike race -- Decatur, Sept. 7. A USA Cycling-

    sanctioned bike race will bring spectators and about

    300 cyclists to downtown Decatur Racing action in

    the 12 competitive races plus a kids' race begins at 9

    a.m. and will take place in the Arts and

    Entertainment district all day. Detail at 719-209-8211.
  • ArtWorks 2013 -- Tuscumbia, through Sept. 13, 9

    a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 1-3 p.m.

    Sundays. The Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511

    N. Water St., Tuscumbia, hosts its annual Arworks

    exhibition, a multimedia survey of work by Tennessee

    Valley Museum of Art artist-members. It illustrates the

    vast range of talent and creativity by artists in

    northwest Alabama. Admission $5 adults, $3

    students, museum members free, Sundays free and

    group rates. Call 256.383.0533.
  • Art on the Square -- Sept. 14, Limestone County

    Courthouse Square, Athens. There will be

    approximately 50 visual artists including painters,

    sculptors, metal artists, photographers, ceramicists,

    fiber artists, jewelry artists, mixed media artists and

    more. Go here for more information.
  • Blind Boys of Alabama -- Princess Theatre, 112 2nd

    Ave. NE, Decatur, Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. Tickets

    $40-$30. Box office, 256.340.1778
  • 16th annual Echota Cherokee Festival -- Oakville

    Indian Mounds and Park, Sept. 28-29. Featuring

    American Indan artisans, craftspeople, storytelling,

    dancing flute playing, living history and other

    demonstrations. Details, 901.876.5344
  • Concerts by the River -- Every Monday through

    August, Rhodes Ferry Park, Decatur, music begins at

    6 p.m. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic

    baskets. Free. Click here for schedule.
  • Farmers Market -- 211 1st Ave. SE, Decatur, open

    from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. as produce is available,

    Mondays-Saturdays through Nov. 9
  • Petals for the Princess Market -- Decatur, Tuesdays

    through Nov. 5, 4:;30-7:30 p.m., Casa Grande Park

    on Second Avenue. An open-air market that brings

    the community together by providing a marketplace

    with fresh produce & quality handcrafted artisan

  • First Fridays in Florence -- Downtown Florence is

    full of arts, crafts, food and music, 5-8 p.m., every

    first Friday through December.

MSNHA notes

  • MSNHA has printed and distributed a convenient 8-

    inch-by-14-inch map of historic sites, cultural

    attractions and other locations in its six counties. The

    maps, in adhesive pads of 100 sheets, are in tourism

    bureaus, hotels, museums and businesses

    throughout MSNHA as well as the MSNHA office,

    Keller Hall 240 on the University of North Alabama

    campus. These are perfect for sharing with friends

    and family who come to visit -- and for discovering

    some local hidden treasurers. Call us

    at 256.765.5028 or come by our office if you need

    more copies.
  • To learn more about effective marketing and cultural

    tourism, MSNHA executive director Judy Sizemore

    and media coordinator Cathy Wood

    attended the Alabama Governor's Conference on

     in Huntsville this past weekend plus several

    workshops and classes sponsored by the Alabama

    Mountain Lakes Tourism Association
     this summer. 
  • The MSNHA office -- located on the University of

    North Alabama campus -- has moved from the

    Raburn Wing of Keller Hall to room 240 of Keller.

    We're comfy and cozy in our new space, so come

    visit -- we're here most weekdays with plenty of

    brochures and information about historic sites,

    cultural events and outdoor recreation in MSNHA's

    six counties.

NHA news

  • A new economic impact study indicates National

    Heritage Areas contribute $12.9 billion annually to

    the national economy. The economic benefits of

    NHAs are realized primarily through tourism and

    visitation. Each NHA coordinating entity serves as a

    catalyst for economic development within the regions

    they operate. Read the full report for information on

    the six case study NHAs.


Scott and Nancy Hubble, of Florida, came to the MSNHA
office in search of the National Park Service passport cancellation stamp -- and were thrilled to find out there were six more in northwest Alabama to collect! Avid RVers, the Hubbles were staying in Red Bay while their vehicle was being repaired at Tiffin Motorhomes. They travel around the country in pursuit of the passport stamps and were amazed at the history, music and culture they were discovering in MSNHA's six counties. 

Coming up
in the next issue
of Heritage Happenings:

New projects and updates
from UNA's public-history graduate students

MSNHA sites named to the National Geographic
Gulf Coast States Geotourism mapguide

Fall events in MSNHA's six counties

Tell us what you think    

The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has posted its management plan online at, the National Park Service’s website for planning and public comment, and is asking for feedback.

      Deadline for comments is Oct. 3. Anyone can access the plan

at, read it and submit comments.

“The management plan is a framework for us, a constitution that will govern how

MSNHA operates,” said Judy Sizemore, MSNHA executive director. “It includes an

interpretative plan with comprehensive actions and strategies for telling the area’s

stories as well as a business plan and goals for the future.”

     Sizemore and a planning team spent two years collecting data, putting the

management plan together and holding public meetings to introduce and explain

the plan. Now they are accepting online comments before revising the plan and

submitting the final draft to the National Park Service, which oversees the National

Heritage Area program.

     Congress has designated 49 National Heritage Areas across the country in

recognition of historical and cultural significance and natural resources. Operating

under the University of North Alabama, in Florence, the MSNHA preserves and

promotes the history and culture of a six-county region in northwest Alabama. It is

the only National Heritage Area in Alabama.

For more information, contact the MSNHA at 256.765.5028 or


Meet the interns ...     

The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area hosted two historic-preservation interns

this past summer. The July newsletter included an article on Lori Reynolds and her

work at Pond Spring, home of Gen. Joe Wheeler. This newsletter focuses on Ashley

Armstrong, second-year master's of arts student in public history at Middle

Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and graduate research assistant

at the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation.

By Ashley Armstrong

MSNHA Intern, Summer 2013

     My interest in the TVA villages began when I was a child. My grandfather

worked for TVA, and I spent part of every summer break in Sheffield.  My

grandmother always mentioned they’d lived in “the village” when it was

 on TVA











property. Whenever we drove through Sheffield Heights, she would point out the

house the family lived in after the village was moved.

      I didn’t think about the village again until my second semester studying public

history at Middle Tennessee State University. I was assigned a book on New Deal

housing to review for class, and it included a list of World War I housing projects. It

startled me to see Florence and Sheffield on the list because I had only ever heard

the housing development called “the TVA village.” An Internet search turned up

information on Village No. 1. My father and I drove out to see it on our next visit to

Sheffield, but I could find little about what I now thought of as “my village.”

I am studying to be an historian and have been a genealogist for several years --

research is something I do for fun. So I started with everything I could find on Village

No.1. The Journal of Muscle Shoals History was one key source. Then I discovered

photographs of Village No. 2  in the Florence-Lauderdale County Library’s online

archives. About that time, TVA donated to the University of North Alabama’s Collier

Library a collection of documents related to Nitrate Plant No. 2, which Louise

Huddleston helped me investigate last spring. At that point, I was able to plan a

class project that has now turned into my thesis. So far it has been fascinating work.

      The nitrate villages in Sheffield and Muscle Shoals were unusual from the

beginning. The U.S. government hadn’t built housing before World War I. Lack of

good housing for war workers at Navy shipyards prompted the creation of the

Emergency Fleet Corp. and then the U.S. Housing Corp. for factory workers in

1919. Those two programs account for most of the war building projects. But

Sheffield and Muscle Shoals began as part of an earlier effort. The Ordnance

Department had its own budget and didn’t have to wait for funds to be approved or

allocated for housing. Villages No. 1 and No. 2 are examples of these “ordnance

      The villages also are

historically significant for their

architecture. Both Village No. 1

and No. 2 were designed by well-

known landscape architects of the

time -- innovators in the relatively

new field of city planning. Both

villages were considered so

interesting at the time that

architectural journals published articles about them that included floor plans and

sketches of several types of houses. One such article features a drawing of Village

No. 2 as it was originally envisioned -- many times larger than the few blocks which

were completed.


When TVA auctioned off Village No. 2’s houses in 1949, the design of its layout was

lost, but many of the houses still can be seen in Sheffield Heights. Although oral

history can preserve memories of living in the Village, it’s often the tangible artifacts

that can call up those memories and make them real for future generations. The

more I learn about Village No. 2, the more certain I am the remaining houses

should be acknowledged as an important part of Muscle Shoals’ and Sheffield’s

history. I hope my research can help keep Village No. 2 alive for the grandchildren

of other residents, and their children, as well.

(Photo of Muscle Shoals Industrial Village -- now called Village No. 2 -- from the William Lindsey McDonald Image Collection, Collier Library, University of North Alabama.)

 MSNHA news ... 

      MSNHA's six new cancellation stamps for the Passport to Your National Parks

program, which encourages people to explore the history and natural resources in

America’s national parks -- have been a huge


success. We've had folks from all

over the country stop by to add to

their collections. The stamps are

free and feature an image of each

location as well as the date. Visitors

seeking cancellation stamps should

check days and times of operations

since many sites are staffed by

volunteers and open only part-time.

The MSNHA office, Keller Hall 240

on the University of North Alabama

campus, offers an MSNHA stamp for a total of seven stamps available.

     Passports cost less than $10 each and are sold at as

well as gift shops at Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tenn.; the Corinth

Interpretive Center, Corinth, Miss.; the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center,

Tupelo, Miss.; and others.

     Here's a detailed list of the stamp locations, by MSNHA county:

  • Colbert County --  Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen

    Keller;;  300 N. Commons St.

    Tuscumbia AL 35674; 256.383.4066; Mondays-Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. until 4

    p.m. (last tour begins at 3:45 p.m. daily); adults, $6; seniors and military, $5;

    ages 5-18, $2; and groups of 20 or more, adults $5 and children $1.50.
  •  Franklin County – Red Bay Museum;;

    110th 4th Ave. SE, Red Bay AL 35582; Tuesdays-Thursdays,1:30- 4 p.m. and

    by appointment; adults, $5; students, $1; and free for children under 6.
  • Lauderdale County – W.C. Handy Home, Museum and Library;; 620 West College St., Florence, AL 35630;

    256.760.6434; Tuesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; adults, $2; children 50

  • Lawrence County – Pond Spring, home of Joe

    Wheeler;; 12280 Alabama Hwy. 20,

    Hillsboro, AL 35643;  256.637.8513; Wednesdays-Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4

    p.m., (tours on the hour until 3 p.m.); and Sundays, 1-5 p.m. (tours on the

    hour until 4 p.m.); adults, $8; seniors, military and college students, $5;

    children 6-18, $3; children under 6, free; group rates available.
  • Limestone County – Mooresville;; 1/4 mile

    south of Exit 2 (Mooresville Road) on I-565 between Decatur and Madison;

    256-353-3628 or 256-355-2683; passport stamp is at JaVa.mooresville

    coffee shop, 25062 North St., Mooresville AL 35649; 256.337.1947; open

    from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 11

    a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
  • Morgan County – Old State


    952 Bank St. NE, Decatur AL 35602; 256.341.4818 or 256.350.5060;

    Mondays-Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1-4:30 p.m.

Calendar of events

   Please note that this is only a partial listing of events in the six MSNHA counties. There's plenty going on almost every day. Visit the MSNHA Facebook for links to activities and news from Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.
  • W.C. Handy Music Festival -- William Christopher Handy was born in 1873 in Florence, and since 1982, the Music Preservation Society has been honoring and celebrating the "Father of the Blues" with an annual ten-day series of events held in northwest Alabama This year's festival started this weekend and runs through Sunday, July 28. Go here and here for info on venues and performers or pick up an official brochure at Handy headquarters. 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., next to Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts and across from Wilson Park in downtown Florence.
  • Summer Art Stroll -- Athens, July 26 & Aug. 23, 4-8 p.m. More than 20 visual artists including painters, photographers, ceramicists, potters, jewelers, mixed media artists, clothing designers, and more will be at the Limestone County Courthouse Lawn on The Square. There will be live music and children's activities. For more information, contact Athens Arts League at 
  • Tennessee Valley Historical Society -- summer meeting, Sunday, July 28, 2:30 p.m.,Sheffield Public Library Conference Room, 316 N. Montgomery Ave., Sheffield; guest speaker Charles Enloe Moore explores Hernando de Soto’s southeast and subsequent westward journey to find a route to the Pacific Ocean (including movement through the Shoals), to Christianize American Indians and to find gold.
  • Watermelon Festival -- Aug. 16-17, Russellville. Arts, crafts, food, music and a 5K and 1-mile runs. Visit here for details.
  • Art on the Square -- Sept. 14, Limestone County Courthouse Square, Athens. There will be approximately 50 visual artists including painters, sculptors, metal artists, photographers, ceramicists, fiber artists, jewelry artists, mixed media artists and more. Go here for more information.
  • Concerts by the River -- Every Monday through August, Rhodes Ferry Park, Decatur, music begins at 6 p.m. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. Free. Click here for schedule.
  • Farmers Market -- 211 1st Ave. SE, Decatur, open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. as produce is available, Mondays-Saturdays through Nov. 9.
  • First Fridays in Florence -- Downtown Florence is full of arts, crafts, food and music, 5-8 p.m., every first Friday through December

MSNHA notes

  • Directors and staff members from two National Heritage Area groups visited MSNHA this past spring. Executive director Judy Sizemore hosted meetings of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the Southeast National Heritage Areas and guided participants on a field-study day to such MSNHA sites as Pond Spring, the Wheeler Home, near Courtland; the Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Cherokee; and FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals.
  • The MSNHA still is working on its management plan, a federal requirement for all National Heritage Areas. We are in the final stages of putting everything together and hope to be officially recognized as a functioning NHA soon. Thanks to everyone who attended our public draft-proposal meetings and offered insightful feedback and thoughtful comments. Soon the management plan will be posted on a National Park Service website -- we'll keep you posted on the progress.
  • The MSNHA office -- located on the University of North Alabama campus -- has moved from the Raburn Wing of Keller Hall to room 240 of Keller. We're comfy and cozy in our new space, so come visit -- we're here most weekdays with plenty of brochures and information about historic sites, cultural events and outdoor recreation in MSNHA's six counties.

 NHA news

   The National Trust for Historic Preservation announces Distinctive Destinations – a program designed to encourage visitation of historic sites by the National Trust’s members and supporters. Participation in the program is free to historic sites and exposes participating sites to the National Trust’s network of more than 750,000 members and supporters and more than 2 million annual website visitors looking to explore historic places across the country.
 What the National Trust will provide:
  • Site name, photo and link in the Distinctive Destinations online directory
  •  Online ads promoting the program on
  • Program logo and usage guidelines
  •  Promotional language for use across communications channels
  •  Distinctive Destinations card or print materials (as requested)
  • Periodic features in National Trust communications (as appropriate)
What participating sites agree to:
  •  Provide free or discounted admission to National Trust members. Must be at least 10% off regular admission and/or gift shop purchases
  •  Display Distinctive Destinations card or print materials to visitors
  •  Indicate program affiliation via program logo on website
  • Promote National Trust member discount via promotional language on website
Click here for a list of current places and apply to join the program.

     Students in the University of North Alabama’s public history program have been busy working on digital history projects for a summer-school class. Check out their blogs, which contain some directed assignments about digital history and will soon be documenting their progress as they begin to build their websites:

Volunteers -- including Boy Scouts and community members -- work to build a Southern heirloom garden on the grounds of Old State Bank earlier this summer.

Copyright © 2013 Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
All rights reserved

One Harrison Place, UNA Box 5231
Florence, AL  353632-0001
Phone -- 256.765.5028     FAX -- 256.765.5251 
 Email --

Visit our website at
Learn about
National Heritage Areas

 Thank you for supporting the
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area!

     This is the January edition of the MSNHA e-newsletter. Included are articles on sites and attractions in MSNHA's six counties, a calendar of events and national and regional NHA news. Got an idea for a story? Know something we've missed? Email with comments, feedback and suggestions.

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

April, 2013 Newsletter

Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
University of North Alabama



Calendar of events

  • Farmers Market -- 211 1st Ave. SE, Decatur, open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. as produce is available, Mondays-Saturdays through Nov. 9.
  • Chicken & Egg Festival -- Lions Club Fairgrounds, 455 School St., Moulton,  5-10 p.m. Friday, April 12; from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 13; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 14. Outdoor festival with food, entertainment, educational exhibits, children’s activities, arts and crafts and more. $5 per person, including concerts. Under 5, free. 
  • Lincoln at the Library -- Exhibits, movie screenings, lectures and President Lincoln himself are at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, 350 N. Wood Ave., Florence, through May. All events free.
  • Walking tours -- Athens, Courtland, Decatur, Florence, Sheffield & Tuscumbia host tours of historic districts Saturdays in April. Mooresville tours are Friday-Saturday, May 17-18. Free.
  • Expedition Natchez 1813: Becoming "Old Hickory" -- This commemoration of Gen. Andrew Jackson's Natchez Trace marchincludes the MSNHA, Sat., April 20.
  • Tennessee Valley Historical Society quarterly meeting, 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 28, Sheffield Public Library Conference Room, 316 N. Montgomery Ave., Sheffield. Dr. Carolyn Barske, UNA assistant professor of history,and UNA public-history students discuss a UNA-TVHS oral history project.
  • Exclamations! Works by the Students of Jackie Briscoe -- For almost 50 years, Jackie Briscoe has taught art to local youngsters. An exhibition of works by some of her students is at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center, 207 Church St. NE, Decatur, 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Saturday, May 4. Free.
  • First Fridays in Florence-- Downtown Florence is full of arts, crafts, food and music, 5-8 p.m., every first Friday through December.
  • Third Fridays in Decatur-- Downtown Decatur features music, shopping and more, 4:30-9 p.m., every third Friday through October.

MSNHA news

  • Help find a better name for our newsletter! We want something short, catchy and representative of the history, culture & natural resources of our six-county area. Email or post your idea on our Facebook page by Wednesday, May 1 . In the meantime, we'll come up with a suitable prize for the winner.
  • Two National Heritage Area groups will be in the MSNHA this month. Executive director Judy Sizemore has worked hard to prepare as we host meetings of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the Southeast National Heritage Areas, April 23-25. This is a great chance to learn from other NHAs -- and to show off a little. Participants will attend workshops and business session as well as take field trips to such MSNHA sites as Pond Spring, the Wheeler Home,near Courtland; the Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Cherokee; and FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals.
  • The MSNHA still is working on its management plan, a federal requirement for all National Heritage Areas. We are in the final stages of putting everything together and hope to be officially recognized as a functioning NHA soon. Thanks to everyone who attended our public draft-proposal meetings and offered insightful feedback and thoughtful comments. 

 NHA news

  • Did you know that a new economic impact study indicates National Heritage Areas contribute $12.9 billion annually to the national economy, primarily through tourism and visitation? Learn more here.
  • Do you have a National Parks passport? It's a fun souvenir and a priceless record of your travels through the U.S. And did you know the Passport to Your National Parks program offers free cancellation stamps through many National Heritage Areas, too? Including MSNHA! Call us at 256.765.5028 for details.
  • Speaking of travel, what about exploring nearby NHAs this summer? Check out the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area in northeast Mississippi, which focuses on African-American heritage, art, architecture and the Civil War. Then there's the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, centered around Murfreesboro.

Go & do ...
Family fun at 1818 Farms


      Feed chickens, shear sheep, learn time-honored gardening techniques or simply relax and enjoy rural living at 1818 Farms in Mooresville.
     A tiny town (pop. 54) in Limestone County between Decatur and Huntsville, Mooresville was incorporated in 1818 -- one year before Alabama became a state. Eight years later, Laurence McCrary's ancestors built a home there. Seven generations and almost 200 years later, Laurence and his wife, Natasha, moved to the family home to raise their children in the Alabama countryside.
    In 2011, they began adding sheep, goat, chickens and other animals to the three-acre farm and opened the farm to visitors in 2012. The McCrarys offer classes and workshops, give guided tours, rent space for parties and events and sell farm-fresh eggs as well as bath products made from farm-grown lavender and other herbs. For more information and a schedule of classes, visit  (Photo by Sarah Brewer)   
 History lesson ...
Warships to fishing boats
Driving along the Tennessee River west of Decatur, it's difficult to imagine that the calm and peaceful south bank once was a busy and bustling shipyard. 
But it was.
    From 1938 to 1980, Ingalls Iron Works, the largest steel company in the region, made more than 200 barges, tankers, towboats, dredges and other watercraft at its Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp. where Ingalls Harbor is now.
    The business began when Robert Ingalls established Ingalls Iron Works in 1910 in Titusville. The Decatur shipyard opened in 1937 and soon the company added another ship-building site in Pascagoula, Miss., to handle wartime orders.
    During World War II, the shipyard's primary customers were the U.S. Army and the U.S. Maritime Commission. After the war, Ingalls built fishing, passenger and other commercial vessels. Litton Industries bought Ingalls in 1961 and sold the Decatur yard in 1981 to Trinity Industries, which closed it rather than invest in extensive updates. 
   Today, Ingalls Harbor is a popular recreation and entertainment destination. It attracts several national fishing tournaments and includes a 27,000-square-foot multi-purpose pavilion. A historic marker tells the story of the ships that came from the site so many decades ago.
    (Information from Photos from the Library of Congress' website.) 

   Education ... 
UNA teaches preservation
     Students in the University of North Alabama’s public history program learn to preserve buildings, documents, objects and sites so future generations can enjoy and learn from them, too. Approved in July, 2012, and in its second semester with five students, the graduate concentration is offered through UNA’s master of arts in history.
     “Typically, most Americans learn about history at historic sites or museums rather than in the classroom,” said program head Dr. Carolyn Barske, assistant professor of public history. “As such, many public historians interpret sites, design exhibits and create educational programs for this form of learning while insuring that the stories told are truthful and accurate. Our program gives students hands-on experience, which will aid them as they move from student to professional."
     Projects include Collier Library archaeology exhibit, FAME National Register and Riverview National Historic District nominations, Downtown Florence Historic District walking tour brochure, Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area cell phone tour and architectural driving tour, cemetery assessments and Tennessee Valley Historical Society website design.
     Students also attend state, regional and national meetings, complete internships (one student is at Pond Spring, the Gen. Joe Wheeler home, in Hillsboro) and work on projects such as historic landscape design and helping hometown museums.
     This fall, students will design an exhibit on north Alabama desegregation and, with the historical society, work with residents in Phil Campbell and Hackleburg on an oral history project to preserve memories of the towns before the 2011 tornadoes as well as memories of the tornadoes themselves.
     To learn more, visit (Photo by Carrie Barske)

  MSNHA news ...
Send us your true
almost-true stories

       An often retold story in MSNHA’s six counties is the legend of “Mountain” Tom Clark.
       Some parts of this story are true. Other parts? Well ...
  A renegade Civil War soldier turned thief and brutal murderer, Clark terrorized post-Civil War northwest Alabama – Athens and Florence particularly – with other members of the Clifton           Shebang, a criminal gang from nearby Clifton, Tenn. Clark claimed he’d killed at least 16 people. He attacked countless others, including W.C. Handy’s maternal grandparents.
        In September 1872, the Florence city marshal and other men captured Clark with two others and put them in Florence’s jail overnight. Residents had other ideas, though. Around midnight a mob stormed the jail and lynched the gang members from a downtown tree. The Sept. 10, 1872, Lauderdale Times says the three were buried in a field near Florence because locals didn’t want them in a town cemetery.
       However, legend says that since Clark had boasted “nobody runs over” him, revenge-minded residents buried him under busy Florence Boulevard so he constantly would be “run over.”
       Is the second version of Clark’s burial true? Almost true? It’s entertaining, at least. We all enjoy a good tale. Share your favorite legends, myths and almost-true stories from Colbert, Franklin, Morgan, Lauderdale, Lawrence and Limestone counties. Email submissions to We’ll publish the best in later newsletter editions. 

Copyright © 2013 Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
All rights reserved

One Harrison Place, UNA Box 5231
Florence, AL  353632-0001
Phone -- 256.765.5028     FAX -- 256.765.5251 
 Email --

Visit our website at
Learn about
National Heritage Areas

Partnered with UNA.