JCHA NEWSLETTER –WINTER 2016

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Lindbergh at formal Tutwiler Hotel dinner

Lindbergh at formal Tutwiler Hotel dinner given in his honor, October 6, 1927. Second from left is Mayor Jimmy Jones;
Lindbergh (center), former U.S. Sen. John Bankhead, Maj. Sumpter Smith, commanding officer of the 106th, Alabama
National Guard and Gov. Bibb Graves. The two women are not identified.


Charles Augustus Lindbergh and Jefferson County

—by: E.W. Stevenson

 

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harles A. Lindbergh, the famous pilot, had a distant family connection with a Jefferson County family. It would be classified as more interesting than important, but nevertheless worth telling.

Charles Lindbergh’s grandfather was a Swedish farmer, banker, and a member of the Swedish Parliament. His name was Ola Mannson, who had a wife and seven children. He also had a mistress in Stockholm, with an infant illegitimate son. He was accused of fraud and embezzlement; so he changed his name to August Lindbergh, and fled Sweden with his mistress and son in 1859. He settled in northern Minnesota, and had a total of six children with her. The first illegitimate son became a citizen and a lawyer in Little Falls, Minnesota, and was the father of the famous pilot, Charles Augustus Lindbergh. He was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served for 10 years prior to World War I.

Meanwhile, two of Mannson’s legitimate sons entered college in Sweden, and changed their names to Lindbergh also. According to uncorroborated tradition, one of them went to sea, and left his ship when it was in port in Pensacola, Fla. Either he or his descendents settled in Jefferson County, Ala.

The name still appears in Birmingham telephone books. This author had a telephone conversation with a member of the Jefferson County Lindbergh family some years ago, and found that they had no interest in making a connection of any sort with the family of the pilot. Charles’s daughter, Reeve, had expressed an interest in meeting some of them.

The antagonism began when Charles visited Birmingham in October 5‑7, 1928, as part of his national flying tour of each of the states. The tour was for the purpose of encouraging development of commercial aviation in the United States. He was the great hero, and everyone wanted to see him. A member of the Jefferson County Lindbergh family, Augustus Lindbergh, went to the Tutwiler Hotel, introduced himself to the guards by name, and asked if he could meet Charles. He was treated like a liar and a "nut case ", and unceremoniously ushered out. Apparently Charles never knew of the incident or the person with whom he shared a grandfather. But the Jefferson County Lindberghs have not forgotten.

References: Larson, Bruce L.: “Lindbergh of Minnesota, a Political Biography.” – New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973; Berg, A. Scott: “Lindbergh”, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998; Reeve Lindbergh, personal communications with author; Wikipedia; AT&T Telephone Directory, Birmingham, AL. 2011-2012.

 
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Birmingham Post Offices Over The Years


Post Office on the NW corner of Third Avenue and 19th Street

This photo dates to around 1890. It shows the Post Office on the NW corner of Third Avenue and 19th Street. That’s the First Methodist Church to the right, which stood on the site on which the Hillman Hotel would later be built.


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irmingham has had a number of post offices over the years, some very ornate structures. The city’s first post office was established on Sept. 5, 1871, before Birmingham was officially incorporated. The first postmaster was William Ketcham.

As the city grew, the post office moved to a building on Second Avenue North opposite the Birmingham Iron Age. In 1884 the post office, headed by postmaster T. U. Green, was located at 2010 First Avenue North.

It moved again to the Wright Building on the northwest corner of 19th Street and Third Avenue North next to the First Methodist Church where it served as the post office from 1884 to 1893. When the church moved to its present location on Sixth Avenue and 19th Street in 1891, the Hillman Hotel was built on the old church site in 1901 but today is a vacant lot.

In 1893, a new U. S. Court House and Post Office was erected on the southwest corner of Second Avenue North and 18th Street. The postmaster then was William B. Copeland. After four decades the building was considered an impediment to progress and demolished.

A classical-style Post Office and Federal Court was then built on the 1800 block of Fifth Avenue North, opening in 1921 under direction of postmaster Rufus B. Smyer. The post office moved to a new $12 million modern sorting facility on 24th Street North in the early 1970s. The 1921 building is now a federal courthouse.

The Birmingham Post Office and federal court building, completed in 1893.

The Birmingham Post Office and federal court building, completed in 1893. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama met here until 1921; the U.S. Circuit Court for the Northern District of Alabama met here also until that court was abolished in 1912.


The Birmingham Post Office today is a regional facility of the postal service which operates 26 individual post office locations in Jefferson County (all with ZIP codes beginning with 352). The enterprise is overseen by the Postmaster Michael A. Allison and currently employs 850 workers and handles 250,000 daily deliveries.

References: Bhamwiki.com; The 1887 Pocket Business Directory and Guide to Birmingham, Alabama; United States Postal Service.


Postcard, Birmingham Post Office, 1930s.

Postcard, Birmingham Post Office, 1930s.

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How Slag, Once a Waste Product,
Became A Valuable Resource

—by: Jim Bennett


Slag Heap

Unidentified location, ca 1908; since the beginning of the iron industry in Alabama large slag heaps like this one have
been accumulating around iron furnace sites. The white mounds are more identifiable with iron making after 1880 (Covell).

 

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lag is a useful by product of making iron in blast furnaces, piles of it can be found at old furnace sites in Jefferson, Bibb and Shelby Counties dating back to the Civil War up through the 1990s.

Great white heeps of the aggregate, left over from molten limestone and the impurities from iron ore in the smelting process, could still be seen until the 1980s along West Oxmoor Road west of Homewood where the Oxmoor Furnace closed in 1927. It is also in Fairfield and Ensley and near the old Thomas Works of the Republic company across from Birmingham-Southern.

Making iron from Birmingham ores produced one ton of slag per one ton of pig iron. Slag comes from the furnace as a liquid at temperatures about 2700 F, resembling a molten lava.

The major components of these slags include the oxides of calcium, magnesium, silicon, iron, and aluminum, with lesser amounts of manganese, phosphorus, and others substances depending on the specifics of the raw materials used.

An early variety, glassy black and green similar in look to obsidian, can be found at the old Tannehill, Shelby and Brierfield Ironworks sites dumped there by slave labor in the 1860s. When Tannehill State Park was being developed in the 1970s, roadbeds left from antebellum times were covered with the black material.

Catalan forges also produced slag of a slightly different variety, black and bubbly from gas releases. Because their heat source could not reach the flowing iron stage, their slags contain a higher content of un-extracted metal. Archaeologists look for the variations in determining whether a furnace or a forge was located at a particular site. While Historian Ethel Armes listed the Brighthope facility in Bibb County as a Civil War iron furnace, it is actually just a large forge. Catalan forges, sometimes called bloomeries, were numerous in the mid-1800s. Alabama had 17 of them in 1857.

The Mt. Pinson Ironworks in northeastern Jefferson County was a forge, so was the Williams & Owens Bloomery, a mile east of the Tannehill Blast Furnaces.

Slag was considered a waste product until the early 1900s when iron companies began to sell it for road aggregate, and gravel. Ground granulated slag is also often used in combination with Portland cement as part of a blended concrete, especially useful in the construction of bridges and durable coastal features. Because of the slowly released phosphate content in phosphorus-containing slag, and because of its liming effect, it also has value as fertilizer, however, its most important application is construction. Slag content can also be found in street paving and railroad ballast.

Birmingham-based Vulcan Materials Company, a Fortune 500 corporation, got its start selling slag. Today it is the nation’s largest producer of construction materials, primarily gravel, crushed stone, and sand. It was founded in 1909 as Birmingham Slag Company.

The National Slag Association says blast furnace slag has been widely used for all types of construction in the US for more than 80 years. During the years following, blast furnace slag became known as "the all-purpose construction aggregate " due to its use in nearly every phase of construction, including: road base, asphaltic concrete and Portland cement concrete aggregate, hydraulic fill, cement manufacture and concrete products, glass manufacture, railroad ballast, mineral wool, sewage treatment, roofing, soil conditioning, ice control and other uses.

Removal of contaminants from waste water is a new and potentially important application for steel slag. Steel slag contains oxides of aluminum and iron combined with a calcium base which reacts to neutralize the pH of the waste water.

Slag has been confused with meteors by some but any geologist can easily confirm.

References: Historic Birmingham & Jefferson County, James R. Bennett, 2008; National Slag Association, West Lawn, Pennsylvania; Birmingham View, Birmingham Historical Society, 1996. Slag types, 1970 blast furnace, 1840 Catalan Forge, 1865 blast furnace.

 
 
 

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