Mary (Elise) Mason’s Scrapbook

Woman working a manual printing press.Mary (Elise) Mason’s Scrapbook ~ compiled by Limestone County Historical Society, April 2010

Review by Lynda Peach
Published March 2012
About the book
~ from Preface

“Miss Mary E. Mason developed a comprehensive scrapbook that resulted in a significant historical data base for Athens and Limestone County. This scrapbook was developed in seven volumes roughly organized by subject. … Most of the material in these volumes are newspaper clippings … [they were] turning dark and [were] very fragile. The binders that contain these were literally falling apart. This fragile condition did not lend them to access to the public. … The original material had no index; only a limited topic list for each volume was included at the beginning of each volume. A detailed index was developed for four of the volumes … [then this 2010 publication includes] an index for those volumes not previously indexed …″

~ from Subject Table

Subjects listed are:
» Business
» Railroads
» Schools
» Legal
» Newspapers
» Postal Service
» Civil War
» Gov. Officials
» Health Care
» Athens College
» Activities/Events
» Churches
» Municipal
» Residents
» Early History
» General History
» Homes
» Deaths & Obituaries
» And a list of contents included that are Outside Limestone County

Table of Contents:

Volume 1
Early History, Homes, General History, Families, Social and Community Activities, Municipal Activities.

Volume 2
Churches, doctors, Legal Profession, Newspapers

Volume 3
Historic Homes, Residents, Civil War Memories, Belle Mina, Mooresville, Decatur, Country Club, Railroad, County Fair, Local Society

Volume 4
Community Leaders, Deaths and Obituaries, Local DAR, Early History

Volume 5
Athens Progress, Athens College, Local Schools

Volume 6
Civil War Memories, Residents and Personalities, Events, Bibb Home, Decatur and Lawrence County

Volume 7
Drinking Fountain, The Springs, Rest Room, Bass Tablet, Masonic Corner Stone, Post Office, City Hall, Bakery, Fire Company, Bus Station, Hospital, L & N


NEAGS Reviewer Comments

Miss Mary Mason was a historic leader not just in Limestone County but in all of Alabama. The amount of material she compiled is amazing.

A hand-written note from her states regret that she did not start the scrapbook earlier because those who had affected the county & area had already passed.

Many pictures from newspapers are included as well as copies of other images that Miss Mason obtained or had in her personal collection.

Note: Which newspapers the clippings came from is not always rarely shown. Dates are not always available either. But that does not lessen the value of these seven volumes.

Some Excerpts …

p. (Vol) 1-86 from a Hi Neighbor column, only the last two paragraphs were found.
“… [is]sue of The Courier of 1893 we ran across the following item, written while the late R. M. Rawls was editor. We quote: ‘Willie Underwood and Miss Wilkes were married at Florence. The boy was forced and refuses to live with his wife. …’ ”

p. (Vol) 1-85 From a Letter To Editor of Limestone Democrat published Tuesday, November 28, 1950. Written from Saint Marys, Mo. Nov. 24, 1950 by W. B. (Willie) Turner
“… I spent in Athens as a bare-foot, orphan boy on the brick sidewalks, and gravel streets there, which was in the year [stet] 1902-3.

“My father Frank P. Turner, Sr., died in Feb. 1902 on the Grayson farm near Ripley in the west part of the county, leaving myself, two brothers, Frank and Binford, and sister Pattie, orphaned, as our mother had already passed away. I being the youngest of the four.

“It was then our uncle Mr. Berry Binford who was a tobacco salesman or ‘Drummer’ as called in those days, moved us to Athens and put us in school. He sent my sister Pattie and I to board with a Mr. and Mrs. Coffman who lived in a brick house near the R.R. tracks just south of the water tank.

“And my play mates were Wilson Walsh who also boarded at Mrs. Coffmans and Cerl Hatchett who lived just across the R. R. tracks from where we boarded. …”

Research Treasure Trove:The Turner’s: If these Turner’s were your ancestor and you found an intact family in the 1900 census and no listing for the parents in the 1910 census, you now know why. You also can surmise that brother Binford was named their mother’s maiden name since he mentions his uncle, Berry Binford. What if you did not have a maiden name? You now know where the father died, although the question of why he passed at the Grayson farm still remains. Who were the Grayson’s to the Turner’s?

The Binford’s: You have found his occupation in Feb. 1902. Was it the same occupation as listed on the 1900 census? the 1910? Who paid for the room & board? Did Berry Binford also board at the Coffman’s? If he did not, was he married? If he was, why did he not take the children to live with him?

The Coffman’s: While the article did not list their first names, that information might be found in the 1900 census or if not there, in an Athens city directory or atlas or a voter list. Rarely do you get a description of a house, the location, etc. as shown in the short paragraph above.

p. (Vol) 1-36 Article from Limestone Democrat, Athens, Alabama dated Tuesday, January 15, 1957
John Coffman’s Clerkship Tenure Is Ended The man with the twinkly blue eyes is leaving the courthouse this week. After 10 years in office, the most-titled man in these parts, John R. Coffman bows out as the clerk of the county court, clerk of the circuit court, register in equity. …

… the mild-mannered Coffman — (who looks like everybody wishes their Grandpa looked)

Born in the neighboring Giles county, Tennessee, Coffman has lived in Limestone county most of the time since 1913, clerking, running stores, doing the business of various departments of government.

Of the Coffmans’, three children, one son lives in Gadsden, a married daughter lives in Perry, Fla., and a second daughter, Evelyn, lives in Athens.” [Article includes two pictures of John R. Coffman as well as the facts of the thousands of cases he docketed.]

Possibly Linked to the Turner Letter Listed Above:The pictures in the newspaper showed a man who was possibly in his 70s which means he might have been born in the late 1880s. Ergo, he *could* be the Coffman mentioned in the Turner article. A quick check in the 1920 census for a John R. Coffman found many Coffman entries. But one also listed a 16-year-old sister-in-law living with a John R. Coffman and his wife Nellie M. whose surname was TURNER. Her first name is difficult to read but might be Jonnie or Johnie. John R., Nellie, and the sister-in-law were all born in Tennessee. John R. was 35 years old in the 1920 census so it could not have been the Mr. Coffman who ran the boarding house in 1902-03.

BUT the surname of the sister-in-law being TURNER makes this a definite research if the Limestone County Coffman’s or the Turner’s are in your genealogy.

The edition at the Nichols Memorial Library was published April 2010 published by The Limestone County Historical Society, Athens, Alabama..

Book Shelf.

This book and many others like it are available for you to research onsite at the Nichols Memorial Library.

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