Forkland observes 200 Bicentennial with Old Town Festival Celebration

Sites in Forkland, AL

In observance of the Alabama 200 Bicentennial celebration, Forkland held an Old Town Forkland Festival featuring stories of Forkland long ago, narratives by John Vester, festival coordinator. Stories included Burwick Legare, Wimp Glover, St. John Episcopal Church, First United Baptist Church, Mary Barton’s Store. (Ms. Mary Barton was married to Rev. George Barton. They owned a store on Main Street in Forkland. This was often the meeting place for folk on Saturday and on Sunday after Church. Ms. Barton was a pillar of the community and many people confided in her for direction and advice. Her reign in Forkland covered the 1930s thru 1960s).
George Barton collected the Forkland mail to be delivered to the U.S. mail system by transporting the mail to the railroad depot. He hauled the mail using his dedicated mule, “ Alabama”.
Stories were told about Rosemount, Tent City, and Bunker Boy. Bunker Boy spent many of his days in Forkland during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. He could take a small amplifier guitar and a box and make it sound like a whole band was in the room. It was something to see him break the head off of a bottle to make a slide for his guitar.He would gently rub the slide on a concrete block until it no longer had a sharpe edge.  He would jam his finger in the slide and begin to play the sweetest blues you ever heard.  His blues floated through the night from Mr. Bake Croxton’s shot house to all the folk in the Miconnico Creek and Tombigbee River area. He played every shot house and juke joint in the Forkland area for years.
Other stories included Tate Farms and Asphalt Co, The Legend of Rube Burrows, Bear, David Vester “Captain Dave”, Ned Gayles Blacksmith Shop, Shark Teeth, Shelton’s Café, Prairie Shrimp Farms, Curtis Taylor Farms, Hundred Dollar Evans and Hay Art.
Photos of local legacies were also displayed. The crowd marveled at photos of days long ago, featuring Rev. D. Thomas Gilmore, first Black Sheriff of Greene County also known as the Sheriff without a Gun; Rev. William Mckinley Branch, first Black Probate Judge in the United State, known as A Tough Piece of Leather Well Put Together.
There were photos of Jim Isaac, Jr., the first mayor of the incorporated town of Forkland, around 1975 /1976. Since then, the town of Forkland has had five Mayors: William M. Branch, Eddie Woods, Derrick Biggs, Ollie Vester and current Mayor Charlie McAlpine.
Other photos on display included Ned Gayles, David Vester, Sr., Bertha Shelton- Vester, the late Thomas James Vester, Rev. Robert Davis and many more.
The Old Town Forkland Festival also featured DJ Ice Man and Little Jerry Jenkins. Food venders provided good hot catfish and hotdogs. United Farmers Market was also present with fresh home ground fruits and vegetables. John Vester stated: “ We had a good turn out this year, next year reunions will be bigger and better.”

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