JCHA NEWSLETTER –WINTER 2019

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Fossilized Footprints Found in Alabama Mine
1930 Article in Coal Age Magazine, Vol. 35, No. 2


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arly in December, 1929, Arthur Blair, geologist, and I.W. Miller, of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company & Railroad’s land department brought in a small slab of slate from No. 11 mine of the Galloway Coal Company near Carbon Hill, Walker County, Alabama.

The slab contained a beautifully preserved trail of a five toed animal with hind feet larger than the front, measuring 1¾ and 1½ inches in length respectively. The hind feet had an outside toe that projected outward while the other four were closely grouped and slightly curved. The toes of the front feet were rather evenly spaced and comparatively straight (Fig 1). Subsequent investigations by the Geology Department disclosed tracks of several other species.

As we have only the tracks for guidance, it is difficult to determine whether the animals were amphibians or reptiles, or both. The tracks are found in several parts of the mine and are always approximately 30 inches above the coal. The seam being mined here is the Jagger, which is near the base of the Coal Measures in Alabama or in older Pottsville, Illinois, seams and of other places where amphibian fossils have been found in the past.

The size and variety of the tracks indicate a rather rich fauna, and future studies probably will bring out some interesting details. That there were such tracks have been known to the writer for a decade. Never the less, the credit for the discovery should go to I.W. Miller and Arthur Blair, who brought them to light.

In Fig. 1, notice the difference in the front and hind feet. Track marks of Figs. 2 & 3 respectively are actually 8.5 and 5.7 times respectively as long as those shown. In Fig. 2, the animal appears to have three toes on front and hind feet. In Fig. 3, the two toed tracks between and just outside of the large feet show the front feet.

Fig. 1 First Tracks to be discovered.

Fig. 1 First Tracks to be discovered.


Fig. 2 Tracks of Light Footed Animal.

Fig. 2 Tracks of Light Footed Animal.


Fig. 3 Largest Tracks Found in Mine; Hind Feet Fully 10 in. Long.

Fig. 3 Largest Tracks Found in Mine; Hind Feet Fully 10 in. Long.

 
 

Khari Marquette describing the Save The Finley Roundhouse Organization with Alice McSpadden Williams.seperator
Founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence.

Founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence.


Who Was the First President of the United States?

—Submitted by Dr. Ed Stevenson


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efore we can determine who the first president of the United States was, we must decide when did the United States become the United States? It wasn’t the United States prior to 1776 when the thirteen colonies issued the Declaration of Independence. However, about that time the colonies began to refer to themselves as states and those who signed the Declaration of Independence described themselves as "Representatives of the united States of America." Although "the united states" they referred to might be interpreted as simply a description and not as a formal declaration.

As soon as the States became independent, they began devising a formalized structure to operate under. But they were determined not to create a powerful centralized authority that could become as oppressive as the British Monarchy they had opposed. They recognized a need for a Congress, a central governing body, but were adamant that Congress and the States should be "coequal" – "a dual sovereignty." To accomplish this goal, they drafted the "Articles of Confederation." The document they crafted refers to a "Confederacy," a voluntary league of states. Article I names the confederacy, "The United States of America."

The Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781. The document created the office of president to be appointed by a Committee of the States and limited to a term of one year. Presidential duties involved presiding over the United States in Congress Assembled, executing laws, treaties and military orders, including military commissions, receiving foreign dignitaries, assembling and adjourning Congress, and other duties required by the office. A new president, John Hansen of Maryland, was selected on November 5th, 1781. President Hansen served a one-year term that ended November 4th, 1782. From 1782 to 1789, when George Washington took the oath of office, seven more presidents were chosen. And, therefore, George Washington was actually our ninth president.

These first eight presidents were among the best and brightest of the early founders. The first, John Hansen, made the most of his twelve months in office. He established the Great Seal of the US, created the first Treasury Department, Foreign Affairs Department and the Secretary of War. President Hansen removed all foreign troops from America and designated the fourth Thursday of every November a Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

The fourth president was Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, General Robert E. Lee’s grandfather. He was one of the most famous orators in Congress and he was one who introduced the resolution calling for a formal declaration of independence from England. His resolution was adopted and Lee was selected to head the committee to draft the document. However, an illness in his family made it necessary for him to return home indefinitely, so his task was given to his friend, Thomas Jefferson.

Arthur St. Clair, president #7, issued the Northwest Ordinance that annexed the Northwest Territory (all the land to the Ohio River). He also created a Confederation Convention for the purpose of correcting the deficiencies in the Articles of Confederation. The revised Articles became the U.S. Constitution. The new Constitution changed not only the presidential election process but also expanded the scope of the presidency beyond the duties proscribed for the original eight.

Reasonable people could disagree on whether or not the Declaration of Independence was the beginning of the United States. On the other hand, there is nothing ambiguous about the language of the Articles of Confederation. With the ratification of this document the united States officially became the "United States."

The proceedings held to revise the Articles of Confederation produced a lengthy and often emotional debate between those who wanted a strong central government and those who wanted to continue the loose association of states. George Washington presided over these often passionate deliberations and it took a major effort on his part to maintain order among the delegates.

More than a year after its ratification and Washington’s inauguration,did the thirteenth state finally approve the Constitution. Because he was the first president to take the oath to support this new Constitution, General George Washington, by consensus, if not by fact, considered to be the first president of the United States.

Leaders of the Continental Congress.

Leaders of the Continental Congress.




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2019 JCHA MEMBERSHIP / RENEWAL FORMCLICK TO OPEN FORM


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Jefferson County Historical Association Books


historic birmingham & jefferson county

Historic Birmingham
and Jefferson County
By James R. Bennett
$30 (member discount)

The History of Jefferson County Before 1850

The History of Jefferson County Before 1850
By Will F. Franke, edited by
Thomas M. West, Jr.
$33

Pizitz Genesis of a Retail Giant

Pizitz Genesis of a Retail Giant
By James R. Bennett
$30

 


About JCHA Publications

The Jefferson County Historical Association offers several books that offer a fresh insight into the rich history of Birmingham and Jefferson County Alabama. They tell the fascinating story of the people and industries that made Jefferson County and Alabama the industrial center of the South.

From first-hand accounts to thoroughly researched narratives, The JCHA publishes books that bring forth rich episodes of Jefferson Counties history in a readable style that engages both scholarly and general audiences.

Ordering JCHA Books

These JCHA books can be purchased at meetings of the Jefferson County Historical Association or ordered by mail.

Click the link below to print or save a book order form. PDF format.

Book Order Form

You may also order by sending your check or money order to the following address along with $5.00 for shipping and taxes (please add $2.00 for each additional book):

The Jefferson County Historical Association
PO Box 130285
Birmingham, AL 35213-0285

Please indicate book title and quantity when ordering.

 

Other Source Publications Co-Sponsored by the JCHA:

  • Tannehill and the Growth of the Alabama Iron Industry — James R. Bennett, Alabama Historic Ironworks Commission, 1999, available at www.tannehill.org, $45.
  • The Valley and the Hills, an Illustrated History of Birmingham and Jefferson County — Leah Rawls Atkins, Windsor Publications, 1981, available at the Birmingham Public Library Southern History Department, http://www.birminghamarchives.org/ArchivesStore.htm, $30

 
 

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