Treasure Sought Near Winding River Road
ASHS column for 06 08 2006
Margaret Collier

    Ah! 'Tis magnolia and hummingbird time down South - heat and dust, too - but, all in all, a good time remembering. The weekend before Memorial Day, Bob and Barbara Calloway, Don Sales and Margaret Collier went over to the Atmore Public Library for Kevin McKinley's book signing. Kevin was dutifully guarded by a Confederate soldier in case some d. Yankee took exception over his accounts of the local skirmishes didn't please. If you haven't read "Shadows and Dust, The Journal of the Confederate Experience in Northwest Florida and Southwest Alabama," you should avail yourself of a copy as soon as possible. 
    Actually, in the untimely heat we are
experiencing now, you would do well to
settle into your air-conditioned home with
this book for an informative and relaxing,
safe way to while away some hours.
    After leaving Kevin, the four of us drove
down to Bay Minette to enjoy lunch and
then a visit to the Civil War Expo that was
held in the Civic Center. That was an eye-
opening experience! I had never seen so
many authentic and reproduction weapons
outside of museums.
    There was bona fide music being played
and sung by appropriately garbed musicians
to make exhibit viewing and shopping quite
pleasant. At two different times, we went i
nto a court room for lectures about Confed-
erate generals. Hopefully, we made enough
contacts to have some of the speakers and
exhibitors come to visit the Society. Stay
tuned for further information. The Society has these mini-excursions from time to time,
so join us if you would like to have such a trip or if you have one to suggest.
    An excursion of sorts occurred a couple of weeks back when Bob Callaway and Don Sales traveled to Indiana with J. R. Phillips, of Eight-Mile, AL. You may remember J.R. from a couple years ago when our quest to Bring Back Old 100 began. Phillips is THE expert on Old 100, having worked with steam locomotives for the better part of his 87 years. He was part of the team that rescued Old 100 from the scrapper’s torch back in 1974.
    The purpose of this trip was to make contact with the Whitewater Valley Railroad once more to make more certain determination of what will be needed to restore it in Century. The focus was to take another physical inventory to make sure all the parts were still there and to put a plan together to get them packed up when we have the money in hand. More on this as it develops!
    Now it is time to return to The Winding River Road account. In the last column we learned how John Diamond acquired all of this information over a period of time by accompanying his various family members.
* * *

    After all the links connecting the log and timber landings on the river, the several sawmills on the creeks and many of the pioneer home sites the Winding River Road was as follows: Beginning at the Johnson Mill on Moore's Creek near the edge of the Escambia River Swamp, the road ran almost due north approximately one mile, passing near the Waters Lake log and timber landing. It continued in a northerly direction along the edge of the river swamp and hammocks to the McDavid Mill Creek. Just before crossing this creek the road passed near the famous spring of "Healing Waters."
    Near this spring the road ran close by the home sites of two famous pioneer settlers, R. T. McDavid and Duncan McArthur. Both of these men reared large families. Joel A. McDavid, a son of Mr. McDavid, served his county many years as chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. W. F. McArthur, a son of Mr. McArthur, served his county many years as Chairman of the County School Board.
    From the bridge on the McDavid Mill Creek the road ran northeastward across a low flat area often referred to as "River Flats," to a ford on the Diamond Mill Creek just below the Diamond mill. At this point the road passed near the homes of two pioneer citizens, Hon. Joel McDavid and John T. Diamond. Other noted pioneer families residing in this immediate neighborhood were McMillans, McKinnons, Halls and Wilkinsons.
    At this point the road passed near the Old Coon Hill Mission Station of early pioneer days, up on the Piney-woods Branch-just above the head of the Diamond Mill pond. This Mission Station later became the Damascus Baptist church. From the ford on the Diamond Mill Creek, the road continued in a northeasterly direction to a ford on the Cobb Mill Creek.
    Near this place the road ran hard by the homes of two noted pioneer citizens, Hon. Wily J. Williams and Mr. Washington Cobb. Mr. Williams served his county a number of years as Tax Collector. A short distance before reaching the ford on the Cobb Mill Creek the road passed near the once
famous Coon Hill Race track.
    Horse racing flourished here prior to the Civil War when fleet footed Spanish ponies mixed with Arabian strains were raced against each other and farm horses from nearby South Alabama. After the Civil War and carpet bag days were over, mustang ponies brought from Texas and Mexico were raced on the track against each other and against the Spanish ponies. When timber prices were high and money plentiful, betting was fast and wagers high. Interest in this track faded away with the downfall of timber prices in 1871. By the late seventies the track closed never to be reopened. Tradition is such that gold and silver money was buried near this track many years ago by gamblers. Many holes were dug here 30 or 40 years ago by treasure hunters.
* * *

    Okay. Now before you drag out your metal detectors and go hunting buried treasure, let me tell you that a better pursuit is to join the Society at our next meeting, June 20,6 P.M., in The Leach House. One of our speakers will be Terry Bates who will tell us of his experience, at twelve years of age, helping his father take down Mr. Hauss' house, moving it to Santa Rosa County and rebuilding it there. He will be bringing pictures and other artifacts of great interest, so mark your calendar NOW!

This page last modified on Sunday, June 04, 2006