Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Roney Wash Hole
I asked Susan Owens of the Wiregrass (Southeast Alabama) to collect some information about Roney Wash Hole, which is just behind her house. I recall going down there a few times for a refreshing dip on hot summer days. The writeup and info are courtesy of Susan.
Memories from my mother Sallie Roney Brannon:
This land was always thought to belong to her father, Webb Roney. Actually, he owned the land you had to cross to get to the river. The river bank land belonged to Enoch Riley. Mr. Riley lived right across the river and his family never swam in the river. My mother said that she and her sister, Martha Roney Shelley, and her brothers, John, Jack and Joe Roney, all were taught to swim in the river by my grandfather. They would work in the fields and go swimming in the middle of the day while it was so hot, then go back to field work afterwards. They always had 4th of July picnics there with a multitude of Roneys and would cook and fry fish down there at other times.
From the book The Coin : A History of Newville and the Newville Baptist Church by Roberta Whiddon "It was reported in the Newville Advertiser November 22, 1923 that Roy Roney's wife, Johnny left to go to a neighbor's house and did not return. Mr Roney began a search. The search party tracked her back and forth in the fields and branches between her house and the Chotowhatchee River, then to the river. Her body was found drifted against a log. She was the daughter of Mrs JA James and the mother of five. All children were dead except one who ws about 4 years old. The youngest child, about 2 weeks old, died two weeks earlier. It is believed grief and trouble caused her actions."
From Sidney Owens:
Sidney and his buddies....Eddie Kirkland, John Price , Hughie Kirkland and others… often went swimming in the afternoons after they became old enough to ride their motorcycles from town to the river. Sidney said he distinctly remembers on Sunday afternoons they would be swimming and then they’d hear cars coming and look up to see a group of "dress up" folks coming to the river to be baptized. He knew that Mt Pisgah Church, between Newville and Echo used the wash hole for baptisms. An ironic note: Hugh Kirkland II (Hughie) is now the pastor of Mt. Pisgah Church.
I loved swimming in the river. I thought it was a big place when I was a little girl !! My mother would not let us go by ourselves, even when we got to be about 13 or 14...but my grandmother, Trudie Roney, would go with us ( me, Jane Shelley Pitchford, my sister Nancy and probably Phil Shelley, Jane's brother). I am not sure why Mama Trudie had to go...she did not know how to swim or drive, and she sat in a folding chair in the shade and napped !!!
The layout of the Roney wash hole completely changed when the timber was cut around it probably 25 years ago...but it is a fun and fond memory for me and most of the surrounding area!!