Morrison discusses Walker County history
by James Phillips
Dec 05, 2012 | 2329 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pat Morrison, a local historican, served as the guest speaker Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Jasper’s weekly meeting. – Photo by: James Phillips.
Pat Morrison, a local historican, served as the guest speaker Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Jasper’s weekly meeting. – Photo by: James Phillips.
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Walker County’s history is a passion for one local man.

Pat Morrison, a longtime coach at Walker High School, is a walking well of Walker County history. Morrison shared some of his knowledge of the county Tuesday with members of the Rotary Club of Jasper.

“I love Walker County,” Morrison said. “I love everything about it. I collect just about everything I can that has to do with the county. I love to learn more about the county’s history.”

Morrison said he currently has more than 500 postcards from Walker County.

“Most people can’t believe there have been that many postcards made about Walker County,” he said. “Collecting those postcards is just one way that I’m trying to preserve the history of Walker County.”

One of Morrison’s rarest postcards shows the Corona community near Oakman as a thriving town.

“They had everything you would need in a town,” he said. “They had a post office, a hotel, a hospital, a church, banks and even a college. Not many people know about that these days.”

Morrison said his oldest postcard is a photograph of Cranford’s Hardware in Jasper.

“First National Bank (now First Bank of Jasper) got its start in that store,” he said.

Along with showing some of his favorite postcards, Morrison also shared some history of Walker County natives who have made a national impact. Morrison said Jack Cranford owned Cranford’s Hardware and was also a longtime mayor. Cranford also built the Cranford Inn and was the original owner of John Hollis Bankhead’s home, Sunset.

Morrison said a rarely known individual in Walker County was Lorenzo Dow, an eccentric, nomadic preacher.

“He is believed to have been the first white man to ever step foot into Walker County,” Morrison said. “He tried to connect with the Indians and convert them to Christ. He had a trading post on Town Creek, located near where the Engle Building is in downtown Jasper.”

Morrison also mentioned former outstanding athletes from the area, including New York Yankees’ great “Ivy” Paul Andrews and Dan Bankhead, the first black pitcher in Major League Baseball.

Herbert Burton, the author of “The Adventures of Dixie North,” was a former football standout at Walker High School and a four-sport letterman at Auburn.

“Herbert was an orphan who came to Jasper on a train,” Morrison said. “They were taking a trainload of orphans to the Midwest and he slipped off at a stop in Jasper to get water. He hid and no one could find him. The train had to go on, and a family ended up taking him in. I’m still looking in to a lot of his story.”

Morrison said he spends most of his time collecting items that help to tell Walker County’s history. He said anyone with items they would like to donate to the Walker Area Community Foundation, or to his personal collection, should contact him at 205-384-6734.

“It’s amazing how many items people will just throw away,” he said. “I’d love to have anything collectible from our county, especially old photographs, letterheads or advertising memorabilia.”