Column/Solving the historical mysteries of Selma

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

I recently read a book about unsolved mysteries of history. You know, things like who really killed JFK? Was Amelia Earhart a spy?

Who really kidnapped Lindbergh’s baby?

Those were among the mysteries. No definitive answers were given to these questions, but it still made for an interesting read.

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It also got me thinking about some mysteries of history in Selma.

For example, the question comes up as to how many marchers were killed on “Bloody Sunday?”

It’s a trick question, really, because the answer is:


When 525 people attempted to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965, they were met by state troopers, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

The demonstrators were tear-gassed, clubbed, spat on, whipped, trampled by horses and jeered by others for demanding the right to register to vote. Television and newspapers carried pictures of the event that became known as “Bloody Sunday,” according to the Library of Congress’ web site.

But no one was killed.

There were three protesters killed in the area during the time of the protests – both before and after the march.

Jimmie Lee Jackson died Feb. 26, 1965,

after being shot in Marion Feb. 18 while attending a protest demonstration.

The Rev. James Reeb and volunteer Viola Liuzzo were also killed for their participation in protests; Reeb in Selma and Liuzzo in Lowndes County.

Another question I’ve wondered about: Did Geronimo really make the quiver that’s at the Old Depot Museum?

According to Jean Martin, curator of the museum, the quiver has been authenticated.

It’s entirely possible, since Apache leader Geronimo was held as a prisoner of war in barracks in Mount Vernon, in north Mobile County. The site was used as a prison for Apaches between 1887 and 1894, according to the wikipedia web site.

The site was the former Mount Vernon Arsenal, a U.S. Army munitions depot, located on the Mobile River.

Another connection to Dallas County was that in 1862, after the Battle of New Orleans, the Confederacy moved ammunition manufacturing from the Mount Vernon Arsenal to Selma. Selma offered a more secure location farther away from Union forces, according to wikipedia.

These are just a couple of mysteries I’ve wondered about.

I have other questions, as well. Things such as: Who is the Indiana Jones buried in Old Live Oak Cemetery?

What is Nathan Bedford Forrest’s connection to Selma?

Are there really houses that are haunted?

But, these matters will have to wait for another time when I can do some more research.

In the meantime, if you have the answers, feel free to let me know.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.