Newburg a community full of history, faith
Standing in the shadows of an old "Little House on the Prairie" era church, Johnny Davis sees history coming to life each way he looks.
Across Alabama 724 from the white wood-framed Mount Pleasant Methodist Church, Davis points to an open field that once was the site of a thriving pencil-making factory.
"There are a lot of things that went on in Newburg," said Davis, a 20 year Army veteran who grew up in the quiet community.
Rows and rows of marked graves behind Mount Pleasant Methodist Church tell a story all their own.
One burial site contains 13 graves of a single family killed in a 1920s tornado.
"That grave over there is for a little girl killed by a mad dog," Davis said.
The cemetery, which is still active, contains its own history of the Newburg community.
A group of Confederate soldiers even used the church grounds as a campsite during the Civil War, Davis said.
"Years ago, when they were ready to have a funeral here, they would ring the church bell and people would come in from the fields to help."
The church was founded in 1824 by Rev. James Smith and has been an integral part of that community since. Just down the road a bit stands another site of living history.
Newburg Masonic Lodge #388, which was established in 1872, is still standing on its original site.
"The only thing that's changed is that we have water, electricity and gas now," Davis said.
The building was constructed by using wide boards and hand-planed lumber.
The downstairs of the building has been used as a school, voting place and community center through the years, while the upstairs has attracted Masons from all over the country.
Davis, a member of the lodge for 50 years, has seen his share of visitors pass through, but it's his own family's presence that brings the most memories.
His father, Ernest Davis, and two sons, Tommy and Tim, were all members of the lodge.
"My boys are third generation Masons," Davis said. "All of us have been in the Newburg lodge."
Davis has been working tirelessly for years, with the help of several other community members, to make sure that people are aware of Newburg's rich history.
He was quick to thank Sen. Roger Bedford, Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, late Probate Judge Mike Green, Probate Judge Barry Moore, Franklin County Archives director Chris Ozbirn, county engineer David Palmer, Steve Pounders, Stanley Champion, Charles Smith, Mason Smith, Cecil Batchelor, Cheryl Bradford, Jackie Bradford, Sandra Hollaway and Martha Mashburn for their efforts in helping him.
Due to their efforts, a historic marker will soon be placed near the intersection of Alabama 24 and Franklin 87.
"I just want people to know how much history there is out here at Newburg," Davis said. "This historical marker will help us do that and maybe it will draw more people out here."