BlogHer Writing Lab August: TALES
BlogHerMonday, August 8, 2016
Do you have any family stories that have been passed on for more than two generations?
The Taylor family owned, or homesteaded, land in Alabama since the early 1800’s. The family story that has been passed down states William Henry Taylor, Sr. was born in South Carolina around 1797. He was the first Taylor in our family to come to Alabama.
Census records show that he, and his family, lived and farmed land located in Marshall County. William Henry Taylor, Sr. lasts shows up on the 1900 United States Census as living with his son, William Henry Taylor, Jr. and his family. He is listed as 103 years old. No one remembers the exact date of his death, but we know it was between 1900 and 1910.
William Henry Taylor, Jr. didn’t live as long as his father, but he made it to 90 years of age. He lived, farmed, and raised his family on the same land as his father. His final years were spent living with his second oldest daughter and her family. He passed away in 1934.
His next to the youngest daughter, Della Francis Taylor, was my great-grandmother. Della married James Henry Beam in 1911. The couple had eight children; their oldest, John Preston Beam, was my paternal grandfather.
Sometime between 1920 and 1930, the couple moved into DeKalb County. Della passed away in 1943. They say she was a beauty and carried Choctaw blood in her veins. There is a lot of history on the Choctaw’s and Cherokee’s living in that area.
I remember when my grandfather received his inheritance from the sale of the land. He used most of it to purchase his own land located in DeKalb County.
James Henry, John Preston, and Della Francis Taylor Beam
Following is a published story about Taylor Mountain:
History of Lake Guntersville State Park
Lake Guntersville State Park was owned privately prior to the 1930’s. Some of the landowners were Taylors, Ellenburgs, and Kings. Two of the mountains in the park are named in honor of these families: Taylor Mountain, upon which the Lodge sits, and Ellenburg Mountain. King’s Chapel Cemetery, also in the park, is also a namesake of its previous owner. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) acquired the land from the local landowners to give room for the backwaters of the Tennessee River’s Guntersville Dam.
The land surrounding the Guntersville impoundment that is now Lake Guntersville State Park was donated to the State of Alabama in 1947 for public use and was named Little Mountain State Park. This only comprises a piece of what is now Lake Guntersville State Park, with the rest of the land acquired at later dates. A small campground was established in what was a private fishing camp at Town Creek. When the state created a bond issue in the late 1960’s, a large sum of the funds generated was used to create the current campground, lodge, and golf course. Beginning in 1970 and going until 1973, the Lodge was built on the top of Taylor Mountain, overlooking 69,000 acre impoundment of the Tennessee River: Lake Guntersville. The name of the park was changed to Lake Guntersville State Park in the late 1970’s.
The park now encompasses nearly 7000 acres and boasts the third largest campground in the state park system. A nature center is located within the campground. There is also a newly renovated, 18 hole, championship golf course, as well as 20 bluff side chalets, 15 lakeside cabins, and the largest lodge and convention building in the state park system. There is also another campground and fishing center at Town Creek, which has everything you need for a day of fishing, and one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. Seven boat ramps are located in the park, which facilitates one of the main draws to the park: aquatic recreation.
The hiking trails in Lake Guntersville State Park traverse easy to difficult terrain and vary in length from 0.8 miles to about 3.5 miles, yet connect with one another to form a network of trails that add up to over 35 miles. The trails are varied with some following alongside the banks of the Tennessee River/Lake Guntersville, others lead to seasonal waterfalls, and some that pique your interest just by their names alone, such as the Old Still Path and the Moonshine Trail. The majority of the hiking trails were carved out of the mountainsides primarily by Rex and Ruth Seale, who were avid admirers of Lake Guntersville State Park. Several trails have now been designated as multi-use, and allow mountain bikes on them. In addition, new trails are being added to the park by the work of a local mountain biking club, which includes several local business owners.
Lake Guntersville State Park is blessed with a diversity of habitats, from low wetland areas to rocky bluffs along the mountains, providing a rich variety of flora and fauna. Bald Eagles and Cardinal flower can be seen along the waterways, while Wood Thrushes and American Ginseng can be found deep in the mountain forests. No trip to Alabama would be complete without a stop at this treasure in our state park system.