Inquisitive Macon County, Alabama residents made their way to The Ridge Interpretive Center on Saturday, October 15, 2022 for a County-Wide Field Trip. Mother Nature gave us a gorgeous autumn day as a backdrop for activities that included an introduction to archaeology, discussing genealogy tips and stories, and thinking about ways to maximize Macon County's numerous cultural and historic treasures. We enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by Cooking With Ms. Tina - Creative Cuisine LLC!
Archaeology Consultant Marsha Holley measures soil excavation by dig participants.
The County-Wide Field Trip was made possible by a generous grant from the Macon County Commission.
The 2022 Old Federal Road Storytelling Festival theme “Homecoming: One Road Tells Many Stories” came to life through the serendipitous contact made by Pascale Adekpui of Ghana, Africa to Dr. Shari Williams, Executive Director of the Ridge Project. The two connected in June this year through a message Ms. Adekpui sent to Dr. Williams about Ms. Adekpui’s ancestral roots in Macon County, Alabama.
Long story short, the two have communicated closely since June. When Dr. Williams learned that Ms. Adekpui is an artist and teacher, she invited her to create the cover art for the 2022 Storytelling Festival commemorative booklet. Ms. Adekpui accepted the invitation and she created cover artwork that captures the essence of the Festival’s theme. (Above far left: cover art photo).
All festival attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the commemorative booklet while supplies last. To learn more about Ms. Adekpui’s ancestral connections to the Federal Road and Macon County, come to the festival to receive your copy of the booklet! For now, here is Ms. Adekpui’s explanation of the cover art:
The cover artwork depicts a combination of two Adinkra symbols that reflect the theme “Homecoming: One Road Tells Many Stories.” The first symbol is Funtunfunefu Denkyemfunefu which means 'Siamese crocodiles'. The symbol shows two conjoined crocodiles who share one stomach. In short, this symbol stands for UNITY IN DIVERSITY. It signifies the unification of people of different cultural settings for achieving common objectives despite their divergent views and opinions about the way of life. The Federal Road shaped the lives and legacies of people who experienced life similarly and differently within the region. This region’s Creek, the African-American, and European-American ancestors all share the same Federal Road history, but from different perspectives. So this symbol reflects my view that within the diversity of these three groups, there's unity in the Federal Road.
The second symbol is Hye-Wonhye which means 'Burn, you do not burn'. The symbol gets its meaning from traditional priests who, during ceremonies, could walk on fire without burning their feet. In short, this symbol stands for ENDURANCE AND IMPERISHABILITY. In my view this is an empowering symbol that reminds us of all that our ancestors have endured. With this symbol I want to show that they were pillars of strength and resilience. And this connects nicely to the Festival's theme because it emphasizes the festival’s goal to “highlight the diaspora of people from all over who descend from ancestors who were enslaved at Creekwood who have lived fulfilled lives as a testament to the resilience of the ancestors.”
In the opposite corners of the piece, I use the eye to show that depending on one’s perspective there are different stories to tell. Down in the right corner you see many eyes following a winding path. That represents the Federal Road and the various cultural groups who meandered this path towards their (new) destinations. Subsequently all the individual descendants of these various groups are following their own path of life now. I expressed that in the top left corner with the eye and the different strings towards the cowrie shells. The cowrie, which has deep roots in African culture, symbolises destiny and prosperity.
Dr. Williams also invited Ms. Adekpui’s students from the Anansi Youth Community Centre to participate in the Festival art contest along with students from the Barbour, Bullock, Macon, Montgomery, Pike, and Russell County school districts in Alabama. Ms. Adekpui and her husband founded a Ghana-based charity called The Roots Foundation Ghana, which operates The Anansi Youth Community Centre. The Festival booklet reveals more about the Centre and the Foundation so come to the festival to receive your copy of the booklet and learn more! The Ridge Project will award prizes to a first, second, third place, and honorable mention winner from each participating group of students. Ms. Adekpui submitted her student’s creative and colorful entries. Their beautiful artwork will make the contest judges’ job extremely challenging! (Above center and far right: photos of Anansi Youth Community Centre students working on their contest entries).
*Festival booklet cover artwork must not be copied or reproduced in any form without written permission from Pascale Adekpui.
The Ridge Project recently received generous grant funding from the Macon County Commission to offer field trips at no charge to Macon County’s fourth grade students and teachers and the general public. This project will facilitate our recovery from an extended closure due to the pandemic and it aligns with The Ridge’s mission to provide classroom resources and educational programs and events about our region's historical and cultural significance for the benefit of students, teachers, the local community, and visitors of all ages. Additionally, it will allow us to continue to provide educational and cultural enrichment programming that aligns with and augments classroom learning to develop student knowledge and critical thinking skills in the areas of social studies, history, and culture. The Macon County School District announced its designation of The Ridge Interpretive Center as a required field trip site for 4th graders during the summer of 2019. Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel plans to begin offering field trips Spring 2020 and have not been able to offer them to date. We will begin offering field trips again beginning fall 2022. Pictured above right: Marsha Holley, The Ridge Project's Archaeology Education Consultant, prepares the dig site at our Interpretive Center, assisted by volunteer Daniel Rhodes.
During the fall of 2021, The Ridge Project nominated the historic Warrior Stand Cemetery located in Macon County, Alabama for inclusion on the Alabama Historical Commission's Historic Cemetery Register. The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) added the cemetery to the Register in November 2021. Our nomination packet did not include a comprehensive survey of the cemetery at the time. Thanks to a collaboration with Tuskegee and Auburn University professors and students, we are nearing completion of a survey project that entailed documenting the cemetery's overall features and each grave's specific location and features, and creating a plot map and map of the cemetery boundaries.
Auburn University students from Dr. Elijah Gaddis's race and landscape history course partnered with The Ridge Project on January 29, 2022 to begin the project. Dr. Keith Hebert's public history fieldwork class from Auburn University, Professor Mark Tatum, PE from The Auburn University McWhorter School of Building Science's College of Architecture, Design & Construction, and a student from Dr. Lisa Bratton's History class at Tuskegee University joined the project in late March. Professor Tatum conducted a drone aerial survey that will enable us to produce a map of the cemetery. The work of these enthusiastic participants makes it possible for The Ridge Project to submit a survey spreadsheet, photos, and maps to the AHC for inclusion in its file for the Warrior Stand Cemetery.
Image above right: students attending an orientation session at The Ridge Interpretive Center.
The Ridge Project received grant funding from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation to purchase a National Register of Historic Places plaque for the Creek Stand A.M.E. Zion Church cemetery, Macon County, Alabama. The Pomeroy Foundation awarded funding through its generous historic marker program. In 2016, the National Park Service added the cemetery to the National Register for its importance to Ethnic Heritage and African-American Social History. For more information, see https://www.wgpfoundation.org/historic-markers/creek-stand-a-m-e-zion-church-cemetery/
The plaque is mounted just above the church cornerstone in close proximity to a post-mounted Alabama Historical Commission approved marker erected in 2011 which commemorates church history and the cemetery's listing on the Commission's Alabama Historic Cemetery Register.
Self-determined freedmen trustees built the original Creek Stand A.M.E. Zion church building around 1895. During the twentieth-century, the congregation financially supported two of the community's first primer schools for African-American children, the Creek Stand School and the Piney Wood School. Nurse Eunice Rivers and officials from the U.S. Public Heath Service used the Creek Stand A.M.E. Zion Church as a "round-up" location during the infamous USPHS Syphilis Study. Several men who unwittingly were subjects of the study are buried in the Creek Stand cemetery.
Shown above with the bronze plaque proudly displayed are (right) Rev. Mozelle Moore, Pastor, and (left) Mr. Lougene Henderson, Trustee, Below: Ridge Project volunteer Larry Williams (right) installed the plaque with assistance from Mr. Albert Daniels, Trustee (left).