On December 19th, 2015, the Friends of Joe Wheeler, at least three area garden clubs, Site Director Kara Long, and other avid students of Wheeler family history, pulled out all the stops for a festive and well-attended celebration in the home and on the grounds of Pond Spring in Hillsboro, AL. You may remember that I have written about Pond Spring here, here, and here, so Steve and I couldn’t wait to go back to see this place decked out for the holidays. The more we go, the more we learn and continue our fascination with Fightin’ Joe Wheeler and his illustrious family.
This time I was given permission to make pictures inside Pond Spring, so I wanted to share some of them with you. Remember that one of the things that makes Pond Spring extra-special is the fact that 99.9% of the furnishings, clothing, decor items, books, portraits, and artifacts are original to the Wheeler family. Because of the dedicated efforts of General Joe’s daughter Annie, EVERYTHING POSSIBLE was kept.
The weather was perfect for this celebration. Only one thing put a slight damper on the festivities. The event began at 10:00 a.m. and was to end at 3:00 p.m. At 11:15, just as things were getting cranked up and eager visitors approached the property, a train came through and STOPPED on the tracks, blocking the road leading to Pond Spring. Ms. Long and many others started making phone calls, but it was still an entire HOUR before that train moved out of the way. Arghhhhh! I found myself chuckling over the thought that Miss Annie Wheeler — tiny but audacious woman that she was — would have gone straight to the front of that train, yelling and shaking her fist at the conductor until she got results. When the train tracks were originally laid on her property, a thick line of trees were going to be cut down. Miss Annie got on the phone to the Governor, and those trees remain today. Feisty. Very feisty. And influential for sure.
I asked one of the docents about the current owners of all those thousands of acres. He told me that Miss Annie had been uneasy about the nephews who stood to inherit the property, so she designated a bank nearby to hold the land in a trust and only a year ago did those nephews (or their heirs) finally get to divide the property. Bear in mind that she died in 1955, so those folks had been waiting for 60 years!!
Make your plans to visit Pond Spring in 2016 and start your own discovery of this excellent source of pride for every Alabamian.