FIFTY-FIVE YEARS IN WEST ALABAMA
By HON. E. A. POWELL
John C. Kirkland was a farmer of strong native sense, and fine physical appearance; and courteous, but quick to show his resentment of anything which he thought to be offensive. He was not a candidate again until within a few years past, when he twice represented the county in the Lower House. Mr. Kirkland still lives in Fayette county, a highly respected citizen.
James Brock was a good citizen,—a farmer of limited information. He served but the one session; had filled the office of Justice of the Peace for many years. As a member of the House he was modest and unassuming and general respected. He died a few years after the war.
People thought he was on the wrong side
Jeptha Seay was retuned in 1859 with A. J. Coleman. He was again elected in 1863 as the colleague of Alexander Cobb. Mr. Seay was an uneducated man,—above the ordinary standing. He possessed a fine share of native wit, and always made himself agreeable. He had several times aspired to a seat in the Legislature, but Fayette county, not being in the habit of electing Whigs to office, he was never successful as above state. His want of success, however, was not owing to his want of personal popularity, but simply from the fact that the people thought he was on the wrong side. In the House, his genial wit made him a universal favorite. Nor was it alone in the public or social walks of life that his wit could be turned to account and made to contribute to his pleasure, but sometimes it was made to serve a more practical purpose.
The Marshal inquired ‘What’s going on here?’
One incident will show how he was always ready to use it in emergencies. Unfortunately when in town he would sometimes take a little too much of,—, well, you know how it is yourself. On one of these occasions, in the city of Columbus, he had engaged in a little “Georgia rotation” with some one within the prohibited limits of said municipality. Soon, however, the alarm was given that the terror to the violators of municipal laws—the City Marshal—was rapidly approaching. The other party to the ‘rotation’ took alarm and was soon beyond the jurisdiction of said official. But Mr. Seay not being so fortunate, was left to his wits to get out of the trouble, and as usual they were equal to the case. The Marshal came up and accosting him with “What’s going on here?”—Mr Seay immediately replied that he believed two men had been fighting there but a few minutes before. The Marshal inquired the way they went, and being put on the wrong track, left in a hurry to find the disturbers of the city’s peace; and before he found out the trick, Mr. Seay had secured his own safety by putting first the corporation and then the State between him and the offended city. The offense being only a misdemeanor, no demand was ever made for the Colonel, and thus the matter ended. A few years ago he was summoned by One whose command is never disregarded, and the grave received the last remains of one who had been faithful in public life, genial as a friend, and kind as a neighbor.
Representatives of Fayette County in the 1860s
Alexander Cobb and Jas. Middleton responded to the call of “the county of Fayette” in 1861. Mr. Cobb again in 1863, and still again in 1865.
Mr. Middleton is, I think, a native of Georgia; came to Tuskaloosa and then to Fayette as a school teacher about the year 1834. He continued in Fayette until the organization of Sanford county.—He has filled the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court in that county, (now Lamar.) As a member of the House his modesty of deportment, and general courtesy and kindness made him universally esteemed,—while his good common sense on all subjects commanded the respect of the entire body. As to character there was never but one expression of opinion concerning him, and that was that in all the elements of true manhood, neighborly kindness and Christian culture he was the equal of any. Mr. Middleton, in old politics, was a decided Whig, and was a zealous supporter of Bell and Everett in the trying contest of 1860.
Williamson R. W. Cobb of Huntsville was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 1845 to 1846, and he served in the United States House of Representatives from 1847 to 1861. He was expelled from the Confederate Congress in 1864.
Alexander Cobb is a native of North Alabama, a nephew of the late invincible W. R. W. Cobb, who beat all the crack men who could be brought against him for Congress in the Huntsville District. Alexander Cobb came to Fayette county about the year 1844, as a merchant: was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, which office, I think, he resigned and moved to Mississippi, and engaged in commercial business. Afterward he returned to Fayette county previous to the time of his first election. In the House he took the position always awarded to extraordinary good sense and close attention to business. He is not what may be termed a polished speaker, but is very forcible and the opponent who tackles him may look out for blows that will be felt whenever they strike, and they are almost sure to hit. Mr. Cobb is now a candidate for the third term as Probate Judge of Lamar county. He refuses to let his claims to before a Convention, and the people have heretofore sustained him in so doing. He is a Democrat of the Free Trade School. In office he is courteous and obliging; discharges his duties to the satisfaction of all parties, by sinking the partizan into the officer. As a citizen he is held in high esteem by all who know him. (Since the foregoing was written the election has taken place, and Mr. Cobb has been elected by a very large majority over several good men.)
Thomas Molley was elected, with Mr. Cobb in 1855. He is a Free-Will Baptist preacher. In the House he was unassuming, —generally respected and closed out his public career with the one term.
I have already noticed the session of 1868 under the name of E. W. Lawrence.
Dr. William H. Kenedy was elected in 1870
In 1870 Dr. Wm. H. Kenedy was elected. I have never met the Doctor in public life. I knew him, however, as a high-toned Christian gentleman, of a high order of intellect and universally respected. He has since given his entire time to his profession and his farm, and also to the unnumbered amenities called for from one in his position. He has never sought public position since 1870.
As I come down nearer to the present in point of time, memory is somewhat at fault as to the representation of Fayette county. I do not remember who was sent to the House in 1872, 1874 and 1876. I only know that Musgrove, Kirkland and Legg filled the places, but cannot give their order.
The Convention dissolved
In 1882 Jn. B. Sanford, a prominent lawyer and Christian gentleman, was returned from Fayette. He was never a candidate for the House after that year. He was a candidate for the Senate from his District the present year, (1886) but was not successful. There was a regular tangle in the District Convention, growing out of what was said to be the manner of election the delegates from Fayette county. The trouble could not be reconciled, so the Convention dissolved and each made nominations. Mr. Sanford’s friends nominating him and Mr. Almond’s nominated him, and carried the election by a decided majority.
Mr. Sanford is a gentleman that you will naturally be drawn to: a good lawyer, and very attentive to any business entrusted to his care. He will no doubt soon overcome his defeat, and resume his former standing in the political affairs of his county.
(The article above has been precisely transcribed with spelling and grammar mistakes from FIFTY-FIVE YEARS IN WEST ALABAMA which was printed in the Tuscaloosa Gazette August 12, 1886)
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