The snow would blow through the cracks of the house – Wilcox County, Alabama


Wilcox County, Alabama



Marvin Malley Champion

(submitted by his Jean Champion Butterworth)

Many years have gone by since my childhood days. I have relived them many times. I grew up in a neighborhood called Independent. So it was large hills and deep valleys covered with beech trees, pine and most all other trees known to us, such as oak, gum, and, of the most important, the chestnut and hickory nut. (continued below)wilcox county land

They were nine houses in their community located about one half to two miles apart over this vast wooded county. We knew each other and often visited, and our parents always stood ready to help in case someone became sick and needed help such as breaking land in the spring, preparing for farming, planting crops, the only occupation known to this community was farming. We obtained our livelihood solely from God’s green earth. We raised vegetables for food in the spring, but the most important crops were cotton and corn. We also had milk cows, and at least three or four hogs to kill in the winter.cotton field

As I see it now, life was really hard, and I often wonder how we survived during the severe winter, because the house we lived in was a boxed framed house, without ceiling and a big open fireplace. No windows, just a shutter that opened out, leaving an opening in the wall. The walls were built from lx8x8 light pine planks up and down leaving cracks in the wall and floor. In the winter, it was hard to keep warm especially during the cold night.Farmhouse old Dothan - Carol Highsmith 2010

I can remember the huge snows that came most every winter and would blow through the cracks of the house and pile up on my bed and floor. I can’t remember a woodpile at home, we always had to get wood every evening for the following night and morning. My oldest brother and I had to bring in all that we used. We had an ax to chop with, but usually gathered fallen trees and limbs. This was the custom of the other families, because every family had from five to ten children.

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There were eight children in our family and I am the second child. Each of us had a special job to do besides other things like working in the fields; mine was milking. My dad started me at the age of 7 years, and by the time I was 8, I was doing the whole thing night and morning. I can recall how I hated to crawl out of bed on frozen up mornings to build a fire (Dad always called me every morning) and go to the lot and milk soon as it was light enough to see.

Most of the time bare footed and the ground would be spewed up with ice.

I did this chore until I was eighteen years old.

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth – see review



  1. This picture clearly shows that Wilcox County is violating State law by not flying the Alabama state flag.

  2. I do not ever remember snows every winter in central Alabama. And Wilcox county is located in south Alabama.

    1. I think the author may have lived in the Tennessee mountains of the time. LOL

  3. Sounds much like when I was growing up in Clay County, except we did not have snow every winter, nor did we have shutters, and no window panes. The photo looks more like our barn.

  4. Really? Huge snows every winter?

  5. I grew up on the Alabama – Florida State Line so we rarely had snow. When folks there referred to “cracks” they were referring to cracks in the floor….. “so big you could see the chickens under the house.”

  6. Big snows every year in Wilcox County? Did I read that correctly?

  7. We had snow every winter when I was a kid to , it was really cold then to

  8. we lived in Dothan at one time 1969-had about an inch of snow.

  9. Remember Pioneers were not in OUR DAYS. Pioneers were Alabama’s first settlers. Good topic for research paper!

  10. My grandfather, James Boardman Hawthorne, told a story about his birth in Greenville. When he was born 12 Jan 1899, his mother told him that there was snow blowing in through the cracks of their home. I did some research and found some old news articles and an old weather map that proved his story true.

  11. Snow in Alabama?? I like the photo.

  12. I didn’t think Alabama got snow ! I do like the photo

  13. kin to Champion an Hare in wilcox county/Clarke County AL…

    1. As am I.

  14. I remember when we got snow just about every winter and I lived in Tuscaloosa. We lived in a wood house that had a few cracks in the walls and one particular cold winter it snowed and the snow piled up on the beds we were in. My older brother, the only boy in the family had the job of getting up and starting a fire in the old pot belly stove and to get wood in the cook stove so Mama could get breakfast started. A nearby water spring provided our water and my older sisters and my brother had to carry the water back to the house for Mama to use. Daddy and my uncle would watch the weather and the first cold snap was a day of hog killing. The adults worked all day processing the hog while the children played. Nothing better than freshly processed pork chops for supper. The other pork meat was hung in a smoke house. The times were hard but I loved my childhood and would gladly live those days over again.

    1. My family and I lived not too far from you.

  15. You have to remember our climate has changed a lot since the days of the pioneers. I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama and when I was a child I remember having at least one, sometimes 2 big snows in the winter. Now, (I am fixing to be 62) if we get a snowflake in the winter we get all excited. Snow is no longer the norm. In this part of Alabama. So I am not surprised that they had big snowfalls farther south in Alabama.

  16. Reading the comments is as interesting as reading the story.

  17. I can remember winter snowfalls in Kimberly, AL (north of Birmingham) very well. Never big snow-falls like in the mountains, but snow nevertheless. After collecting clean snow on a tin sheet, my Mom had a big heavy-duty bowl in which she would make what we called “Snow Ice Cream”…ummmm.

  18. According to the elders you crammed newspaper in the cracks.
    And the outhouse was to far in the winter and to close in summer.

  19. Lovely photograph but it is infrared photo and not a snow scene. Infrared photographs make vegetation look white, thus the grass and trees in background.
    Snow would be on fence, roof,wheels etc if this was snow scene. FYI