More of Winding River Road
ASHS Column for June 22
Margaret Collier

    Members of the Society are truly getting excited over the prospect of seeing Old 100 coming back home. We do thank Ann for her great coverage in last week's Ledger.

    Hopefully, her article, along with Jerry's, will inspire all of our readers to join us in the work of bringing this dream to fruition. Our thanks, too, for all of the help from the Town of Century. Meanwhile, let us continue the story of the Winding River Road.
                          * * *
    From the ford on the Cobb Mill Creek the road ran in a northeasterly direction across open piney-woods almost to the McCaskill Mill Creek where it curved to the right running almost due east to a ford on the creek. Near the curve in the road a short distance from the McCaskill Mill Creek was the early home site of two famous early pioneers, J. J. McCaskill and Hon. E. V. McCaskill, both sons of Allen McCaskill who was among the earliest English speaking settlers in this area. Hon. E. V. McCaskill served his county and state in the Legislature for many years, first as a member of the House of Representatives and later as a member of the Senate. He was affectionately known as "Uncle Edward."

    Near the ford on the McCaskill
Mill Creek were the home sites of
the following famous pioneer
citizens: Uncle Mint Carnley,
Uncle Harvey Carnley, Uncle Burl
Morris and the Dean of all the
early pioneer settlers, Grandpa
Gabe Capers. These men all lived
to a ripe old age, serving their
country well. Grandpa Gabe lived
to be well over an hundred years
old. In many respects he was the
most interesting character who
ever lived in the area of the
Winding River Road.

    For a number of years Grandpa
Gabe moved back and forth from
way up the Conecuh River in
Alabama to way down on the
Escambia River in Florida. He
probably knew the people,
history and traditions of the
country watered by the Conecuh
and Escambia Rivers better than
any person who ever lived before
or since his time. It was said
that he knew every man who had
ever lived in the area
permanently, temporarily or who
had even sojourned a few months
while working in a timber camp.

    He knew the good workers
from the poor ones, the good
fishermen from the poor ones
and those who never fished at
all. He knew the hunters and
the make of the guns they shot.
His favorite gun was a long
Kentucky rifle with which he
could crack a cat squirrel's
head in the top of the tallest
cypress trees.

    Grandpa Gabe became an "Old Time Shouting Methodist." He knew the church goers among the Methodists and the Baptists from Supulga and Patsalaggi Creeks south of Troy to the Old Coon Hill Mission Station on the Diamond Mill Creek way down in Florida. He knew the traditions and legendary history of the different communities, saw mills and timber camps for an hundred miles up and down the river. He was famous far and wide as an interpreter of dreams and as one who could explain the mysteries of all the ghost stories ever heard up and down the river.

    He did this through his meager knowledge of the Bible, his religious instincts and things revealed to him as he traveled alone over the "Tricky Trails," "Rough Roads," and when running rafts on the "Rolling Rivers" of his "Long Rolling Rocky Range."

    From the McCaskill Mill Creek the road continued in a northeasterly direction to the Holly Mill Creek almost straight for half a mile to the top of a small hill.
Here it began a series of winding curves up or down gentle slopes as it wound among hills and hollows, sometimes on the fringes of swamps and hammocks adjacent to the river. Sometimes it would wind around between the heads of two hollows, the one on the right leading toward a branch of the Holly Mill Creek, and the one on the left leading toward the river swam.

    Near the Holly Mill Creek the road crossed a rather high hill extending into the low flood plain of the river and rising higher toward its head near the river. This strange hill at an early date was given the name, "Devil's Backbone."

    Near the Holly Mill Creek once lived the following early pioneer citizens: Pink Holly, the owner of the sawmill on the creek; Mr. Riley, his partner in the mill business for awhile, James Forbes, the owner and operator of one of the earliest ferries on the river, Frank Sunday, and Mr. Malone.
    Pink Holly later served his county for a number of years as County Judge. 
                       * * *
    Next time we'll mosey along the road to Frank Sunday's place and learn more about life along the River Road. As a comparatively newcomer to this area, it is interesting to me to read about these pioneer families and then meet some of their descendants at various events such as the consecration service of Elizabeth Chapel and visiting the old Coon Hill Cemetery. "Ain't History Grand?"

These posts in Little Escambia Creek are relics from probably over a hundred years ago. They are difficult to see from the new bridge on U.S. 31 across Little Escambia Creek, but if you go to the west side of the bridges, you can get a good view of them.
They were used by loggers who floated their logs or timbers down to the Escambia/Conecuh River, and from there perhaps all the way to Ferry Pass near Pensacola, similar to what's described in the Winding River Road. They were used to support a log flume, according to some accounts. Others say they were part of a log "boom," which kept the logs in one place until time to move them further downstream. (Photo from back issue of Tri-City Ledger)

This page last modified on Friday, June 30, 2006