Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
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Friday, January 30, 2015

In January1905 Mr Charles P. Bohlae, Age 90, Is Featured In "The Montgomery Advertiser"

Christal Cooper  1,484 Words

In January 1905
The Montgomery Advertiser Features
Nonagenarian Charles P Bohlae

An old gentleman with a sturdy round figure in spite of his weight of years lifts his hat courteously to each of his passing acquaintance.  It matters not whether the first salutation comes from a lady or from a gentleman the old man keeps live the stately and polite customs of over a half century ago.  A half a hundred times, the old gentleman raises his hat in a stately way to men and ladies on the streets of Montgomery last Sunday afternoon.


       It was bitterly cold.  The mercury was four degrees below freezing point.  The most of Montgomery’s people were glad to hover close in doors over a coal fire.  A few of the most hardy were out in the too bracing air. 


And prominent among them was this old gentleman, over 90 years old, taking an afternoon constitutional, as though the afternoon had been the fag end of a balmy day in spring.


       The streets of Montgomery were familiar to him as they were to no other person.  He had known these streets and they had known him for 65 years.  The paved streets he passed over he had known when they were mere muddy roads. 


He crossed Court Square and doubtless recalled the same place, as he knew it in 1839 a few wooden country stores about it and the little old-fashioned courthouse standing where the fountain is now. 


And the Commerce street he saw was not the Commerce street of sixty-five years ago for when he knew it then there were no businesses houses between the Exchange Hotel and the river.


       Mr. Bohlae is a remarkable link, a wonderful link which connects Twentieth Century Montgomery with Montgomery of pioneer days. 


So far as he is able to remember there is now only one other person living in Montgomery when he came to the city in 1839, Mrs. Laura Fountain.  And yet when he came to the city sixty-five years ago he was a young man, 25 years of age. 


As a man who had almost reached middle age he stood and lamented with other Montgomerians, when they saw the first Capitol Building in this city burn to the ground on a December 14, 1849.


He has seen the city move forward from a village of 500 people to a city of 40,000.  He was a citizen and a busy man of Montgomery when the town was only a rival of Mount Meigs, and he has lived to see it grow to beauty and assume proportions and attain character that to would make any State proud to own it as a capital.


       Mr. Bohlae was born on the Rhine.  His birthplace was in what is now known as Bavaria, but when he was born that political division did not exist. 


The map of the world has changed again and again since Charles P Bohlae first saw the light.


       When he was born the star of Napoleon Bonaparte had not gone down at Waterloo and the Corsican was still a world power at whose touch crowns crumbled and scepters vanished like the unsubstantial fabric of a dream. 




Andrew Jackson was still to line his hardy volunteers behind the mud breast works outside New Orleans and slaughter the trained veterans of Packenham.


       Staunch believers in total abstinence from whisky and tobacco will not find much comfort in Mr. Bohlae as an example.  He has used both stimulants throughout his long life and he has used them as he felt inclined.  The old gentleman can hardly tell himself just how may years he has been accustomed to them.  He believes that they have had a beneficial effect upon his health.  His longevity he attributes to his active life and his regular habits more than anything else, however.  He has always been a busy active man and he has always spent much of his time in the open.


       He is spending the declining days of his life at his home at 415 South McDonough Street where he has lived since 1847.  His oldest child, William, who lives in Texas, is 66 years old.  His daughter, Mrs. Mary Murphy, lives with him.  Another daughter, Mrs. Katie Smith, lives on Decatur Street. 


       On leaving his native country Mr. Bohlae lived for  several months in New York. 


From there he came to Montgomery where he opened a shoe store on South Court Street between the Square and Washington Street. 


He speaks dryly and humorously of his first appearance in Montgomery:  I came on a steamboat and landed at the wharf at the foot of Commerce Street.  And the mud of Commerce-Street.  It was so deep.  It was more than a foot deep.  My feet got caught in the mud and one of my shoes was pulled off.  That’s the way I went up town, one shoe on and one shoe off. 


       The mud was frightful on Commerce Street in those days.  If a merchant wanted to haul a barrel of sugar from the river he would have to hitch four mules to the wagon and then the wagon would get stuck in the mud.  All the business was done by steamboat then, you know.  Five and six steamboats a day would sometimes come to the wharf.




       The first courthouse was standing on Court Square where the fountain is now.  I could tell you exactly how it looked.   


     The Planter's Exchange stood right where the old Exchange stood and where the new hotel is being built. 



The McGee Hotel had just burned down before I got to Montgomery.  It was on the opposite side of the street from the Exchange and stretched from Court Square along Montgomery Street to Lee Street. 


The Crommell Brothers bought this ground and built it up in stores.  There were a few stores around Court Square most of them wooden buildings and a few more up Dexter Avenue near the Square.


       Mr. Sayre was the principal business man.  I don’t remember his first name, but he was very popular and did the business of the town.  Bell and Brother, Phillips and Farrior were all big merchants and all did a grocery business.


       The main residence portion of the town was just west of the Square on Lee Church and Montgomery Streets.  There were two or three shanties and a couple of blacksmith shops on Dexter Avenue between the post office and the Capitol. 


Along South Perry Street there were a few small houses.  In this neighborhood there is only one house now standing that was built when I came to Montgomery, the Woodruff house on Alabama and South Lawrence Streets.  All about here was nothing but woods.  A little shanty stood on the corner of Dexter Avenue and South McDonough Street where the home of Judge J.B. Gaston now stands.  Mr. Cox, who ran the first doctor’s shop in Montgomery, bought the land and built himself a nice home.



       The country around Montgomery was very thinly settled.  Most of the big planters lived around Mount Meigs.  The big plantations started about eight miles form Montgomery, but the planters had a way of living in and around Mount Meigs.  Mount Meigs then was about as big and about as important as Montgomery.


         One of the planters Mr. Cowles built himself a big house hear the river and paid $100,000 for its construction. He put in a mirror in one of the rooms that cost $500 in New York.


       When I came to Montgomery it was not a rough disorderly town as you might think.  It was very quiet peaceful and sociable.  There were seventy-five gamblers in town who practically ran it.  But they were peaceful gamblers.  They were not violent people and they would not rob a man.  They were as honest, I should say, as their profession would let them be.  But they controlled the government of the city.  You see the town was small and there were not many voters.  All their seventy-five men would vote for the same man and that would mean his election.


       I can remember when the first Capitol was built and I remember well the day it was burned.  The fire started about the middle of the day. 


I remember well the times they brought the Indians from up the country between Talladega and Tallapoosa County.  There were about 400 of them and they were moving them out West. 


The Indians were put in Gilmer’s warehouses on Commerce Street, about where the Western Union office is now.  On the other side of the street where the Wolff building is now, Murphy’s warehouse stood. 


The Government had about twenty men who were taking the Indians out West .  I was offered one of the places and it paid $100 a month.  I wanted to go and I would have gone if it had not been for my wife.
      

Photo 1
Charles P. Bohlae
Public Domain

Photo 2
Coal Fire
Public Domain

Photo 3
1888 Portrait of Patience Escalier
Oil on Canvas 69 X 56 cm
Attributed to Vincent Van Gogh
Public Domain

Photo 4
Cotton Scene in Court Square of Montgomery Alabama
1905
Public Domain

Photo 5
Court Square and Commerce Street West in Montgomery, Al

Photo 6
Exchange Hotel, left, on Court Street in Downtown Montgomery, Alabama
Photograph taken in 1870-1879
Public Domain

Photo 7
At the Café
Oil on Canvas in 1879
Attributed to Edouard Manet
Public Domain

Photo 8
Umberto Boccione
Self Portrait
Self-Portrait done in 1905 when he was 25 years of age
Oil-on-canvas
Located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Public Domain      

Photo 9
Burning of the Alabama State Capitol In Montgomery, Alabama in 1849.
Public Domain

Photo 10
Image of the state Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama
1906
Public Domain

Photo 11
This hand colored map is a steel plate engraving, dating to 1814 by the important English mapmaker John Thomson. It depicts the Bavaria and Southern Germany in stupendous detail. Thomson maps are known for their stunning color, awe inspiring size, and magnificent detail. Thomson’s work, including this map, represents some of the finest cartographic art of the 19th century.
Public Domain

Photo 12
Projection world map of 1905
Public Domain

Photo 13
Drawing of Napoleon in 1815
Public Domain

Photo 14
In Thomas Rowlandson’s caricature, we see Napoleon back in Paris, looking out over the city from a parapet labeled ‘more horrors’ and ‘death and destruction.’ At his sides are Death and the Devil. The sand in an hourglass is running out and the sun is setting. The bloody hounds mentioned in the title are his four marshals: François Joseph Lefebvre, Dominique Joseph Vandamme, Louis Nicolas Davout, and Michel Ney.
Public Domain

Photo 15
Andrew Jackson in 1815, age 48. Painting taken from a miniature in ivory by Jean Francious Vallee just after the battle
Public Domain 

Photo 16
Guntrum-Brau 1905 Beer Ad Vintage Drink Poster (Alcohol bar wine mixed beer)
Public Domain

Photo 17
The Red Lilly
Oil-on-canvas painted in 1915
Attributed to Alabama artist Clara Weaver Parrish.
Public Domain

Photo 18
New York City in 1835
Public Domain

Photo 19
Court Street in Montgomery, Alabama in 1872
Public Domain

Photo 20a
Steamboat “Tinsie Moore” docked in Montgomery, Alabama
Public Domain

PHoto 20b
Depiction of the Alabama River in Montgomery, Al
Public Domain

Photo 21
Wagon stuck in the mud.
Front Street, Dawson City, Yukon, 1898
Per Edward Larss (died 1941) and Joseph Duclos (1863-1917).
Library Archives Canada
Public Domain

Photo 22
Montgomery, AL courthouse in 1858
Public Domain

Photo 23
Montgomery, Al
Guttenberg Project
Public Domain in the United States

Photo 24
Montgomery, Alabama in February 1861
Public Domain

Photo 25
Montgomery, AL in 1900
Public Domain

Photo 26
The Montgomery True Blues parade up Market Street from Court Street
1849-1850

Photo 27
Montgomery, AL capitol
Public Domain

Photo 28
Judge J.B Gaston
Public Domain

Photo 29
Chantilly Plantation in Mount Miegs, Alabama in 1890 to 1910
Public Domain

Photo 30
19th Century mirror with gilded gold
CCASA

Photo 31
19th Century gambling

Photo 32
Burning of the Alabama State Capitol In Montgomery, Alabama in 1849.
Public Domain

Photo 33
This is an untitled ledger drawing in pencil and colored pencil. This work also appears in Janet Catherine Berlo's Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World (New York, NY: George Braziller in association with the New York State Historical Association, 2000)
Painting date between 1880-1881
Attributed to Lakota Artist and Leader Black Hawk (1832- 1890)
Public Domain

Photo 34
B. Wolff Furniture Store, a.k.a. the LeGrand Building and the Imperial Hotel, in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. Built in 1871. It was among the first buildings in Alabama built in the Second Empire style.
Photograph taken between 1890 and 1909

Public Domain

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