CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She maintains a blog at www.chrisricecooper.blogspot.com. She has a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.
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
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
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
From there he came to Montgomery where he opened
a shoe store on South Court Street between the Square and Washington
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Portrait of Patience Escalier
on Canvas 69 X 56 cm
to Vincent Van Gogh
Cotton Scene in Court Square of Montgomery Alabama
Square and Commerce Street West in Montgomery, Al
Hotel, left, on Court Street in Downtown Montgomery, Alabama
taken in 1870-1879
on Canvas in 1879
to Edouard Manet
done in 1905 when he was 25 years of age
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
of the Alabama State Capitol In Montgomery, Alabama in 1849.
of the state Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama
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.
world map of 1905
of Napoleon in 1815
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.
Jackson in 1815, age 48. Painting taken from a miniature in ivory by Jean
Francious Vallee just after the battle
Guntrum-Brau 1905 Beer Ad Vintage Drink Poster
(Alcohol bar wine mixed beer)
The Red Lilly
Oil-on-canvas painted in 1915
Attributed to Alabama artist Clara Weaver Parrish.
York City in 1835
Street in Montgomery, Alabama in 1872
“Tinsie Moore” docked in Montgomery, Alabama
Depiction of the Alabama River in Montgomery, Al
Wagon stuck in the mud.
Street, Dawson City, Yukon, 1898
Edward Larss (died 1941) and Joseph Duclos (1863-1917).
AL courthouse in 1858
Domain in the United States
Alabama in February 1861
AL in 1900
Montgomery True Blues parade up Market Street from Court Street
Plantation in Mount Miegs, Alabama in 1890 to 1910
Century mirror with gilded gold
of the Alabama State Capitol In Montgomery, Alabama in 1849.
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)
date between 1880-1881
to Lakota Artist and Leader Black Hawk (1832- 1890)
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.
*Samuel Porter Jones was
the most famous and celebrated evangelist of his time, attracting a national
congregation with style, wit and delivery.
At the union railway station the other night,
could have been seen a wiry man of middle age, well groomed, smoking a fragrant
He paced up and down the platform with
the wind blowing icy blasts from the river.
Casual observers passed him and did not look at
him twice.If they had paid particular
attention to him he might have been sized up as an Eastern drummer, ready to
offer three months time on clothing or hardware.
But this man who paced the platform of
the Montgomery depot unnoticed has and is leading thousands to the Christian
religion.He has addressed millions of
people and has spoken in every state of the Union.
Had some citizen discovered his identity
and secured his consent to deliver a two-minute talk between trains, the depot
would have been crowded within five-minutes.
But Sam P Jones of Cartersville, Georgia,
whose name is known in practically every home in America and whose name is
blessed in thousands of these homes, paced the platform of the union depot and
smoked a big black cigar.
“Good evening Mr. Jones,” said the
interviewer.The interviewer was not
sure of this man.He had seen him years
before and had recently conned his photograph, but the interviewer was misled
by the cigar and the badge of the Mystic Shrine on the lapel of his coat.
“Good evening.How are you sir?” said the magnetic voice
that has changed the course of a thousand lives rang out merrily in the night
“Just admiring your depot.” Rev.Jones began.“It’s been some time since I’ve been in Montgomery and I’m looking at
the immense improvement.I always liked
this town.It’s not as busy as
Birmingham, but it retains some characteristics of the old South, which are
dear to us, characteristics that the busier city has lost.Not that Montgomery’s not a busy city, but I
just wanted to refer to its changing to those customs and characteristics.Mobile clings to them, but Mobile is a mighty
wicked town, terribly wicked.”
And with this sentence delivered in
tones of severity, the interviewer remembered for the first time that he was
conversing with an evangelist as famous perhaps as Henry Ward Beecher, and not
a Manchester salesman.
The conversation drifted to the cold weather,
and then to freezing water pipes.Mr. Jones
spoke of the average plumber with much of the vinegary sarcasm with which he
refers to the average drunkards.
Plumber’s prices brought on a reference
to Thomas W. Lawson’s “Frenzied Finances.”
“There’s a man, “ said Mr. Jones, “ who
is doing a great work for this country.He is causing people to think of what the land is coming to
financially.Why, I believe firmly his
statement that ten men will finally own the country.”
“Well Mr. Jones, don’t you think he’s insincere?You know he’s one of the gang.”
“That’s the reason I believe in him.If he was a beggar boy you think he’d ben an
authority financer?No, sir.When I want to learn something about ‘possum
hunting I go and listen to a ‘possum hunter talk.I don’t ask a professor of mathematics to
tell me about the art.”
And Sam Jones had relapsed into the original
style, which after his reformation brought him from position of the
Cartersville drayman to the South’s greatest evangelist.
Mr. Jones had changed but little in his appearance
since last seen in Montgomery.His hair
is turning gray but his eye sparkles and his step is elastic.
He is the kind of person one may talk to without
unembarassment. And still recognize the greatness.These are truly great.
my train.”With remarkable agility he
jumped to the platform.“Good
night.See you again, I hope.”
And San Jones flew southward contentedly
puffing his cigar.
Porter Jones Biography
Samuel Porter Jones was born in October 16, 1847
in Oak Bowery, Alabama. When he was nine
years old he and his widowed father moved to Cartersville, Georgia.The intellectual Jones entered the legal
profession at his father’s insistence.His career in law was disastrous and he worked menial jobs to support
himself and his wife Laura McElwain and their young children.During these unsuccessful years he suffered
mental depression and alcoholism.
In August 1872, at his father’s deathbed he
experienced a miraculous conversion and entered the Methodist ministry that
same year.He conquered, with God’s help,
his depression and his alcoholism, and preached around the Northwest Georgia
area until 1881, when he was appointed agent of the failing North Georgia
Orphans Home, which he saved from financial ruin.
During his time as agent of the North Georgia
Orphans Home, he traveled throughout the entire state of Georgia, raising money
for the orphanage and in the process changing lives and, in 1884, preached a
revival inMemphis, Tennessee, which
resulted in him becoming an international evangelist sensation.
One year later in 1885, while preaching in
Nashville, infamous riverboat captain Tom Ryman heard his message and converted
Ryman built a tabernacle for Jones and other
preaches and named it the Union Gospel Tabernacle.Jones, after the death of Captain Ryman,
suggested the name change to Ryman Auditorium, which would later become the
future home of the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1886, Jones financed and built a large
open-air structure called “The Tabernacle” in his hometown of Cartersville,
Georgia.For the next twenty years,
until his death, thousands came to hear the flamboyant Sam Jones preach.
His sermons were not focused on theological
doctrine, but instead, the simplicity of living a good life with the Trinity
God’s help.This caused conflict with
other Methodist leaders, and, as a result, in 1893, Jones split from the
Methodist Church and became an independent evangelist.
On October 15, 1906, while traveling from
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to his home in Cartersville, Georgia Jones died of a heart attack on the train near Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife by his side.