Crenshaw County Historical Society Museum open to visitors

Published 11:55 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

Photos by Haley Mitchell-Godwin

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

On April 15, the Crenshaw County Historical Society welcomed visitors to the society’s museum open house, inviting guests to learn about local history and participate in conversations about the unique history and culture of the county. 

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Around 15 people toured the museum, taking a journey back in time via exhibits and artifacts that tell the county’s story. 

Rebecca West McGough and her mother Paulette West toured the museum during the event. 

“The museum was really neat,” McGough said. “My oldest has been to the museum on a school field trip and it’s a great learning place for children. While we were touring the museum, my mom explained a few things that I didn’t know about. I love that they have this museum and have preserved everything so well.”

One guest, Robert Bailey of Greenville, enjoyed a conversation about local history while seated in one of the front porch rocking chairs. Bailey was born near Rutledge where he lived with his parents until he finished grammar school. 

Bailey, who visited the museum for the first time, said he enjoyed it thoroughly, because it  made him feel nostalgic about his fond childhood memories. 

The museum is located in a dogtrot home originally built in Rutledge in 1865 by James Hurt Howard and his wife Amanda Mahone Howard. It was later donated to the CCHS by Dr. Donald H. Morgan, great-great grandson of James and Amanda Howard. 

Brian Winfiele, who grew up in Texas, enjoyed reminiscing about his childhood trips to Alabama to visit his mother’s family in Crenshaw County. In fact, it was these fond memories that led Winfiele and his twin brother David, to move to Crenshaw County four years ago.

“This was my second trip to the museum, and I’ve really enjoyed it – the conversations too,” Winfiele said. “It was nice to see children visiting and learning about how life used to be and what it took to get where we are now. Most people only get to know and experience maybe five generations of their families, 6 if they are lucky. However after that sixth generation slides off and is gone, people know less and less about their ancestors and it is often hard to learn about them.  So, if we can maintain a museum like this, write a book, preserve pictures and documents, oral histories and just everyday items, the older ways and things and such can be remembered instead of dropping off and being forgotten to time.”

Winfiele’s mother, whose maiden name was Bailey, moved back to the area with them. She is 91 years young, still active, and thrilled to be living in the Rutledge area again. Although she did not feel good the day of the open house, she plans to be at the next one. 

The museum preserves the history of Crenshaw County, which dates back to before 1814, when the territory was part of the Creek Indian Confederacy. The county was officially recognized by the government in 1866, formed from parts of Covington, Pike, Lowndes, Butler, and Coffee counties shortly after the Civil War. 

The majority of the area’s early settlers came from Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, while others came from further north, and some from Maryland. The county was named after Judge Anderson Crenshaw of Butler County, a well-respected member of the community.

The next open house is scheduled for May 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  and the Crenshaw County Historical Society encourages everyone to come and explore the museum located on Airport Road in Luverne and enjoy the museum’s diverse offerings and information shared by knowledgeable guides.