In late 1816, the Southeastern Army established Fort Scott in Georgia to protect the early settlers from the Creek Indians. But in 1819, Fort Scott became infested with malaria and dysentery from the nearby rivers, so the army established Camp Recovery across the Flint River. Camp Recovery became the first known hospital in this part of Alabama and Georgia.
Cherry Street AME Church was founded in the 1860s as The Colored Methodist Church, and changed its name to Cherry Street AME in 1907. This mural not only depicts building the present church, but it also depicts black people and businesses in the area at the turn of the century. The church was built by children and parishioners bringing bricks to the church each week, and from those bricks, the church was constructed. The mural also depicts the first black business owner in downtown Dothan, Mr. Price, who opened a printing shop on N. St. Andrews Street in 1912.
The Creek Indians, united in a loose confederacy known as the Creek Confederacy, occupied most of what is now Georgia and Alabama, as well as parts of surrounding states. By the mid-1830s, Creek leaders had ceded all but a small portion of their remaining lands in Alabama, and following the Second Creek War, they were forced to relocate to lands in the Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Before their removal, Chief Eufaula addressed the Alabama state legislature, saying, “I do not believe our Great Father means to harm his red children, but that he wishes us well.”
In 1540, Hernando DeSoto and his exploration party traveled from the Gulf Coast, through Georgia, touching on the edge of the Wiregrass region east of the Chattahoochee River. It was here that the Spaniards first encountered the ancestors of the Creek Indians, and for the most part, found them to be friendly. Most Spanish explorers would often camp near an Indian village, or stay in the village, to rest and replenish their food supply.
In 1903, the Opera House stood as an electric generating plant next to the city jail building, but there was no space for a city hall. The city council decided to move the electric plant to a new building (the present-day Wiregrass Museum of Art) and constructed the Dothan Opera House, with a 580-seat auditorium on the first level, and City Hall on the top three levels, as well as housing the Library, Boy Scouts, Chamber of Commerce, utilities department, city treasurer, and other various offices. The mural is painted on the stage’s fire curtain, and features the Dothan Mayor, Buck Baker, who orchestrated the Opera House’s beginnings, the Boy Scouts, Johnny Mack Brown, and the names of famous musicians and actors who appeared on this very stage.
This mural combines four murals of vital industries of early commerce – turpentine, cotton, logging, and railroad. Although the Chattahoochee River was a primary shipping route for the region, those living far from its banks could not use the advantages. Not until the railroad was established through the outlying areas did the turpentine, logging, and cotton industries become economically viable. Because of the railroad, Dothan became the largest inland shipping point for turpentine in the world.
Fort Scott, located on the Flint River near its confluence with the Chattahoochee, was very important to the Wiregrass Area. It was built in 1816 to protect the area from Creek Indians. This mural depicts the construction of the fort along the river, and some major players who resided in and around the area of Fort Scott. The modern-day viewer in the mural is Jack Wingate, a member of the Mural Commission and a historian who collected artifacts from Fort Scott.
Johnny Mack Brown was born and raised in Dothan, where he graduated from Dothan High School in 1922. His family lived just four blocks from the site of this mural, and they owned a clothing store on East Main Street. In 1926, Johnny Mack Brown graduated as an All-American football halfback from the University of Alabama, scoring the winning touchdown at the Rose Bowl. He parlayed his good looks and athletic ability into a Hollywood career that would span more than 40 years, including 168 movie and television roles. He was known as “The Singing Cowboy,” and he is enshrined in the National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Alabama Stage and Screenwriters Hall of Fame. Landmark Park hosts the annual Johnny Mack Brown Festival each spring.
Mules were introduced into this area in the late 1800s, quickly replacing oxen that had been used in the fields and woods to haul heavy wagons. They played an important part in the growth of the logging industry. The first industry in this area was turpentine, and as the trees became over-tapped, they were cut for lumber. Mules would haul these logs, and then pull the plows to clear the land. Holman Mule Stable was located less than a block from the location from this mural, where as many as 500 mules were sold each month.
Fort Rucker is economically the most significant industry in the Wiregrass. In the 1930s, the federal government turned 35,000 acres of land into a recreational area, including a lake, picnic areas, and a game refuge to help the region recover after the Great Depression and the Boll Weevil Depression. The land was chosen in 1941 to be the training site for 30,000 infantrymen, and they called it Camp Rucker. In 1955, the Camp was changed to Fort Rucker as a permanent installation as a training camp for Army Aviation, specifically helicopter pilot training. Featured in the mural is an Apache Longbow.
Because of its significance to the entire Wiregrass region, the peanut was selected as the subject of the first mural commissioned. Featured in this mural is Dr. George Washington Carver, a professor of agriculture at Tuskegee Institute, who developed more than 300 uses for the peanut. The mural moves through the history of planting and harvesting peanuts, to the modern day National Peanut Festival and Parade, which annually recognizes the peanut and the peanut farmer for the important role they have played in the progress and economy of the Wiregrass region.
Around 1817, the Florida Indians were having frequent skirmishes with the troops who were protecting white settlers. A large boat carrying supplies from Mobile to the army at Fort Scott and Fort Hughes was also carrying Elizabeth Stewart, the wife of a sergeant. When the Creeks attacked the boat, they captured Elizabeth Stewart until a party of soldiers and friendly Indians recaptured her some time later.
In October of 1889, just four years after Dothan was incorporated, a riot started over a tax the city levied on every commercial dray that travelled the city streets. The Farmers’ Alliance refused to pay the tax, and the leader was arrested. On the day of his trial, the arresting Deputy encountered the leader’s son and friends, and a riot ensued on East Main Street, near the town’s water well. The riot left two dead, several wounded, and a lot more arrested.
The few roads in the Wiregrass in the 1800s were little more than rutted paths. The main mode of transportation in the region were steamboats along the Chattahoochee River, and smaller boats on the Choctawhatchee River. Steamboats carried supplies for towns and plantations upriver, and carried produce, cotton, cattle, and turpentine downriver. Steamboats became a tourism business as well, making round-trips to Apalachicola.
Tuskegee Institute started a Civilian Pilot Training program in 1939, and one of the first students and early instructors was Dothan resident, Sherman Rose. The Tuskegee Airmen served prestigiously as escort pilots to bombers during World War II, flying P-51 fighter planes with famous red tails. After the war, Sherman Rose because the first black flight instructor at Fort Rucker, where he served until 1974.
This mural is the first of a series of three murals recognizing some Wiregrass musicians who were successful in the music industry. Featured in the mural are Ray Charles, born in Albany, Georgia; Dean Daughtry, from Samson, Alabama; Buddy Buie from Dothan; David and John Rainey Adkins from Dothan; Wilbur Walton, Jr. from Dothan; Mickey Thomas from Cairo, GA; Martha Reeves from Eufaula; and Bobby Goldsboro from Dothan.
This mural is the second in a series of three murals recognizing some Wiregrass musicians successful in the music industry. This mural focuses on country music artists Hank Williams and Hank Williams, Jr. from Montgomery; Audrey Williams from Banks, AL; Paul “Dixie” Hatfield from Eufaula; Don Helms from New Brockton; Curly Chalker from Enterprise; George Jones who owned a home in Enterprise; Lew Childre from Opp; Stonewall Jackson from Colquitt, GA; Jimmy Waterford from Abbeville; Billy Dean from Quincy, FL; Daryle Singletary from Cairo, GA; Charlie Monk from Geneva; Boudleaux Bryant from Shellman, GA; and Ray Kirckland from Dothan.
This mural is the third in a series of three murals recognizing some Wiregrass musicians successful in the music industry. This mural focuses on selective genres of music not as widely known. Featured in this mural is Clarence “Pine Top” Smith from Troy; Jay Scott from Dothan; James Melton from Moultrie, GA; Fletcher Henderson from Cuthbert, GA; Marion Cooper from Dothan; Jo Johnston from Dothan; Dewey Williams from Ozark; Japeth Jackson from Ozark; and Judge Jackson from Ozark.
This mural is a tribute to the women who helped mold this city and area into the unique place that has come to be known as the Wiregrass. The artist has shown that women are involved in, and successful in, every aspect of life. She shows a nurse and doctor representing women as caring professionals, a machine operator typifying women who are hard-working, blue-collar workers, a ballerina representing women in the arts, a merchant symbolizing women as leaders in the business community, a tennis player demonstrating women competing fairly in sports, a soldier as an example of all women in uniform, a mother with her children, and a pageant contestant exemplifying the rewards of striving for personal goals in conjunction with supporting community activities.