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HISTORY OF THE LDS CHURCH IN TUSCALOOSA COUNTY ALABAMA

Written by Sister Helen Holloway Taylor Dyer in 1997

 

The church had not flourished much in Tuscaloosa county until 1941. It was not that the church had neglected Alabama. In a special conference in April 1843, with Brigham Young President, the following men were appointed to Alabama: Benjamin L. Clapp, John Blair, Wilkinson Hewitt and Lymon O. Littlefield. (History of the Church Vol. 5, pg. 347)

These men must have been very dedicated and found some valiant people. In April 1844 a conference was held at Cypry, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. At the conference seven branches were represented. There were 192 members present including twelve elders, five priests, four teachers and two deacons. At that conference Elder Benjamin L. Clapp was president and John Brown was clerk. Other elders appointed were W.G. Brandon, L.D. Butler and T.J. Brandon (History of the church Vol. 6, pgs. 331-338)

But people were very hostile to the Mormons and the branches seemed to have dwindled away. Of course many faithful saints from that time migrated to the West. The influence of the Church from that time is still found in the area. North of Tuscaloosa we find a road called Mormon Road. Up near Jasper is found a town named Nauvoo.

In about January of 1941 Elder W. Merle Anglesey and Elder Clayton Larson were sent to open up Tuscaloosa ... again.

When Helen Dyer began to write this account, she located Elder McArthur who had baptized her. He wrote to her and said that he went to his journal and found where he had written of her baptism. His journal said, "I baptized Helen in the afternoon in the Black Warrior River, about nine miles on highway eleven." That was on September 7, 1941. And he says, ''This appears to be the start of the church in that area." Other elders had come, but there were no baptisms.

The morning that Elder Anglesey and Elder Larson Knocked on the door at 1212 12th Street in Tuscaloosa, Albert Holloway, a teenager, answered the door. The family had recently moved to Tuscaloosa from Greensboro, Alabama. After Albert had invited them in, they inquired about the rest of the family. After Albert had told them that he and his sister were the only ones at home, they wanted to meet the sister. Albert went to the back and told Helen, "Some Mormon missionaries are up front and they want to meet you." "Like this?" Helen asked, indicating her mop in hand and wet dress. Albert said that he didn't know how long they would wait, and to "Come on."

So she went up and joined tile small group in the living room. The Elders were told that our papa was at work and our mama was visiting her mother in Newbul11, Alabama, and would be home Friday. So the elders arranged to come back at the end of the week when the whole family would be home.

 

No doubt that the Elders were happy that a teenager and his sister were the only ones home when they came because people in general were not friendly to the Mormon Elders and usually sent them on their way.

The house that the Holloways lived in was a six room dwelling on a quiet street that had lots of trees. The trees were the reason for the town's nick-name "Druid-City". Natural gas had not been available all over Tuscaloosa at that time, and people used wood to cook with and coal to heat the homes. Late in the afternoon when people began to start their night work, you were apt to hear neighborhood boys yell up and down the street, "Open the door" with their arms piled high with wood for the wood box behind the stove.

Papa and Mama were William David Holloway and Annie Ward Bayol Holloway. So in the week-end Mama returned and the elders came as planned. Mama was very much impressed with the two young men so far from home and family, so she asked them to eat supper with us. In those days we didn't call the mid-day meal "lunch", we had breakfast, dinner and supper. So they accepted and we all sat around the table friendly and congenial, getting acquainted.

The elders came regularly for several weeks, then Elder Larson told us that he was being transferred, and another Elder would take his place. We did not see much sense in sending them away when we knew and liked them. But the transfer was made anyway. And Elder McArthur moved in to be with Elder Anglesey.

This family was totally ignorant of the gospel that the elders taught, but we listened. Mama and papa had lost twin babies, eight and one half months old and she told them of that. Mama was overjoyed when they told her that she could have them again in heaven. Mama and papa were Methodist and all they had looked forward to in heaven was to be angels flying around and not knowing anybody they had known before.

Soon the elders were both transferred from Tuscaloosa, and they told us that we would have "Traveling missionaries" and that they would be around every five or six weeks. So Mama told them that when they were in town, to plan to stay with us. So they did that, went knocking on doors in the day and took their meals with us, and taught us at night.

But they didn't have much luck with Tuscaloosa. One elder told Helen that Tuscaloosa was the hardest town he had ever seen. And Helen believed Him. When Helen and her mother were baptized, our next door neighbor said he did hate to see us join "that church", she wanted us to join their church, the Baptist church. But she was a nice lady and we all got along fine even if we did join "that church". The elders may have gotten discouraged with some of the treatment they received.

The Holloways were taught several months before Helen was baptized. Once as the elders were leaving, Elder MCal1hur had got to the door and had his hand on the knob and he turned back and said, "The Lord has not ceased to struggle with this family." And he gave Helen a Book of Mormon.

Papa did not join the church but when he died, he was reading the Book of Mormon the third time. It was not that he didn't believe the book was true, but he couldn't accept plural marriage. He did not protest when Helen and her mother were baptized and he was present at both baptisms.

We had some wonderful missionaries here and this report would not be complete without mention being made of some of them. Not all by any means because Helen heard her father say that he had fifty missionaries stay at his home over the years. I am sure he did.

A lot of elders who stayed with us left the family pictures of themselves. And to read the message they put on the backs of the picture, is to read a testimony.

Elder Anglesey left a picture on his visit on May twenty-fifth 1941 and he wrote on the back. "It was a great pleasure and a joy knowing you and discussing the gospel with you. I hope that you will soon feel that you would like to join the ranks of the greatest people on earth, the children of God. I feel that you are already one of us and hope that you will soon be baptized. There is nothing on earth more valuable than the gospel. I hope to see you soon, Elder Anglesey".

At that time Elder Anglesey and Elder McArthur were companions and were visiting the HoIloways. Elder McArthur's message was: "I am surely glad that the opportunity was mine of knowing and visiting with you. I trust that my teachings and humble bit of knowledge may have shown you that "Mormonism" is worth all the rest of life. I hope if ever you are in the west, you will come to visit us. May the Lord bless you all, sincerely, Eldon, May 25 1941.

After Helen was baptized, Elder Anglesey was back in March 1942. He gave them another picture and on it he wrote "I shall always remember the first day we met. We hadn't had much success that morning. The Lord does marvelous things, doesn't he? I don't believe you have a picture like this one. I would like one of you too. How about it? God bless you and yours. Sincerely, Elder

W. Merle Anglesey."

Helen was baptized on September the seventh 1941, on a beautiful afternoon, in the Black Warrior River. The only people present at the baptism were Helen, her mother and father, her brother Albert and the two elders, Elder McArthur who baptized her and Elder Wilford W. Jordan who confirmed her that day.

No extra person being around to make a picture, Elder McArthur had a camera with a remote control contraption on it. He arranged us all including himself like he wanted us. Then he went and placed his camera in the right place, then ran back and took his place and snapped the picture.

Helen was the first person baptized in Tuscaloosa county in recent years. Her mother, Annie Ward Holloway was the second person, being baptized in the same Black Warrior River as Helen. She was baptized by Elder Wallace B. Adams and confirmed by Elder Wilford E. Christenson. The only people present for that baptism were the elders, Helen and her father. The war had come along and Albert had joined the air force. The date of that baptism was October 18, 1942.

There is no record of any other baptisms until Helen's son, Morris Wayne Taylor was baptized on October 6, 1957. He was baptized by Elder Wayne Shoenfeld and confirmed by Elder Corwin Elsworth of Show Low, Arizona. This baptism was in the McCalla Community. There were fifteen members in the branch at that time.

At that time there were no churches in Tuscaloosa, Bessemer or Birmingham, so rivers and creeks and lakes served well in that capacity. During the 1940's about the time Helen was baptized, the Mormons had a conference in Birmingham. No church being available, the conference was held in a room over a store in the south side. There were probably one hundred people attending the conference. Helen didn't hear a count given, but the room was full.

In those days when no member was available for the calling, a missionary could be called to be district president. At that conference elder Eldon McArthur was called to be our District President. That was in 1942.

Normally Alabama doesn't have very severe weather. But one year we were hit by a blizzard. We had snow everywhere and all the water pipes in the house were frozen solid, and the only hydrant that would agree to be thawed out was out in the back yard. Every morning papa and AI would go out and deal with the one hydrant that would agree to humor them. Mama put her number three wash tub on the floor behind the door and they filled it up for hand washing and doing the dishes and all the buckets for us to use for drinking and cooking. During this arctic weather Elder McArthur and Elder Martin Harris came. This Elder Harris was the great-great grandson of the Book of Mormon witness, Maltin Harris. So Mama explained the procedure of the pipes to them and about the tub behind the door.

We had a dining room but it like the rest of the house except for the kitchen and the living room was freezing cold. So although our kitchen was small, we ate in there. So we all gathered around the table, and had the blessing on the food, and the kitchen was wanl1 from Mama's big wood-burning stove. And the smell of hot biscuits and whatever we could get for bacon, meat being rationed on account of the war and it was a pleasant family peace we had.

During the days the elders were with us they were truly part of the family, sharing our hardships and joys. As we ate we planned what we would do, weather permitting. Elder McArthur said, "After breakfast AI an Elder Harris will fill up the tub". Mama liked to tease them so she asked, "What is elder McArthur going to do?" He said that he was going to wash up the dishes. Mall1a thought he was joking so she said that she was sure he would.

After breakfast mama and Helen began to clear off the table and Elder McArthur told mama to go up front and sit by the fire. When she protested, he said, "you are going to have a hard day ahead of you and you need some help." And he told Helen to go also. And he herded the ladies out.

In the living room we could hear Al and Elder Harris carting in the water, and Elder McArthur doing the dishes. They sounded like they were having the time of their lives. But the fire in the grate was not much more than smoldering ashes. The bad weather lasted so long that the coal companies sold out of coal, and all we could get was steam coal and it ran through the grate and landed with the ashes on the hearth.

So about nine o'clock the elders got away, encountering whatever the roads had to offer.

When the elders told us about the sacrament, they explained how it was to be fixed, the table and napkins and so on. And we'd have sacrament next time. It was the first time the Holloways had the sacrament in their new church. So Helen prepared the table.

The day came, and the elder knelt before the table and when he lifted the napkin, the bread was broken up. There was silence for a few seconds, then the elder blessed the bread and we had the sacrament. Later the elder took Helen aside and gently told her that the elders are supposed to break the bread. That is the only time that Helen fixed the sacrament.

As the war worsened the missionaries were called home to answer the draft or to join whatever outfit they could. For several years there were no missionaries around. One day Helen came home from work, she heard someone playing her organ. She had an old time peddle organ, you had to pump it, and she and her family and friends had lots of fun singing around the thing. She found that it was a lady missionary playing the organ. We didn't know there were lady missionaries. They were real nice and friendly and we had a good visit, and they gave us a Mormon "country song" I guess you'd cal1 it. At least it is not in any of our hymn books. It was cal1ed "The Gospel in a Nutshell" and it really does describe the gospel. Iíll put a copy at the end of this piece. I've never heard it anywhere else. We only saw the ladies that one visit.

We never knew how word got around at the University of Alabama that we were Mormons and had meetings at our house if anyone was around to meet with us. But one day a man called and said that he heard that we had meetings, and could he and his wife come on our next meeting. He was assured that they would be welcome so Sunday they came and we had a nice meeting getting acquainted and we learned that they were a middle-age couple whose children were all grown and out. He was with the bureau of mines at the U of A. Helen doesn't remember their name, but they were very good for us since we were so few in the Church. He was an elder. We had the sacrament.

The People who came were mostly students or taught at the U. of A. but we had one couple who was a patient at Northington General Hospital, which was a military hospital. His name was Jud Shields, He was wounded in the war. Helen doesn't remember his wife's name, but they were newly married. He told us that he met her at church on mother's day. She made a talk that was as beautiful as she was. So they were married soon.

Jud's injury was to his nose, and he was very concerned that he couldn't get it fixed back where it was supposed to be, because of his beautiful wife. He spoke of his "beautiful wife" so often that she got embarrassed and said, "Oh, Jud".

During the time people were meeting with us someone left us a hymn book. The name of the book is written by hand: Sylacauga, The Church of Jesus Christ of "Latter Day Saints" 5/1/42

We never had a crowd at our house, usually just a man and wife, and now and then a family with several children. Everybody wanted to meet at our house because they all had apartments and we had more room.

When Helen began writing this piece, she wanted to look up a few people and see what they had been doing since we first started this church in this area. She located Elder McArthur who had baptized her. She knew that Elder McArthur had married his sweetheart before he went on his mission, and that their son was born while he was still on his mission.

When he was released from his mission, he went home to his family in Saint George, Utah. The war was still on, but there was no defense work there and work was scarce. He took a job in his uncle's bakery working six days a week, 16 hours a day for forty dollars a month. But he prepared for better times ahead by attending welding classes two nights a week for four hours a night. After he had two hundred hours of schooling, he began his own business as a welder. Fortunately for hi s business there was no other welder there for competition.

Soon he was drafted and while he waited for his call to leave, he sold real estate in Salt Lake City. During that time he and his wife, Denise lived with her parents there.

Elder McArthur's military service was in Texas at Camp Walters, an infantry replacement command outfit. While he was there, he was Branch President of a church group at Mineral Wells Branch, of the Texas mission.

The military kept him as a Cadre to teach other service men. So he never saw any over seas duty. After his discharge he returned to Saint George and kept his welding shop and also did some plastering work. Plastering was a family tradition and his grand father had plastered on the St. George temple and Tabernacle.

 

His next calling was to be Stake President, and he was the last one to serve without counselors in the St. George Stake.

Elder McArthur has always been active in the church. When he was fifteen years old he taught Sunday school and Priesthood classes. He served as counselor in the bishopric for five years. He and his wife, Denise are now ordinance workers in the St. George temple.

In 1966 he was asked to join the Rotary Club, the oldest and largest service club in the world. He has been club president there and District governor of Utah - when there were only 430 in the world. The Rotary is all over the world now. While he was District Governor, his outfit collected 219 million dollars to help stamp out polio. That figure is now 250 million.

The LDS church was the only church to donate to that fund and he has a copy of a check for a quarter of a million dollars in his files. Elder McArthur's welding shop is now doing well and he has ten employees. He and his wife have eight children, four boys and four girls. All the boys have been on missions and all the girls are married to returned missionaries. His grand children are going in missions as they become old enough.

The first meeting place we had after the war was at Northington chapel. The hospital had been closed and the patients transferred to other military hospitals. The University of Alabama was then in possession of the place. The way the deed was worded, there was to be a chapel on those grounds. University Mall is situated there now, and there is no church there, hut they eventually put an American flag there. Recently they have added some war machinery, a tank, a cannon, and so on. That is to satisfy the deed for a chapel.

 

Helen knew that a young man, 22 years old named Mack Smyly was the one who arranged to get the chapel for us to meet in. He was a student at the University of Alabama and as such could be eligible to get the chapel for a meeting place. So Helen got up with Mack to get the story of the chapel.

 

Mack and his wife, Joyce moved to Tuscaloosa in April 1957. Mack is Harold M. Smyly and his wife is Joyce Bowman Smyly. Joyce worked at Bryce Hospital where she met Jane Kimball. Joyce leaned that Jane and her husband, John, were interested in the church but were not members. The Kimballs had met a member of the church from McCalla and they would come down and have Sunday school at the Kimballís home. Jane and John had three children, Charles, Ross and Jan. The reason the Kimballs had not joined the church is John's mother lived with them and she was violently opposed to the church. John would not go against her wishes. In later years she relented and the family joined the church.

Mack tells that it was on a Tuesday night in May 1957 and he and Joyce were with the Kimballs. Pres. Densmore and his counselor were there, discussing organizing a dependent Sunday school. During the talk Pres. Densmore suggested that Mack be Sunday school superintendent.

Mack was reluctant to take the job because of his young age, also he was a full time student at the U of A, and worked thirty hours a week. But Pres. Densmore said that if Mack didn't accept the call, someone would have to come from McCalla to preside.

So after he accepted the call they began to meet at the Mack and Joyce Smyley home at 1318 sixth Ave. in Tuscaloosa. Mack conducted and took care of the sacrament and Joyce taught the children and led the singing. Sometimes there would only be three of four people at the meetings. At other times a car full of young folks from McCalla would come down usually on a testimony meeting. That was a great help to the people.

President Densmore recognized the need for a more central place to meet. So they began to discuss the possibility that Mack might get the chapel at Northington. When Mack approached the man about it, Mack was surprised that he was welcomed with the idea. And he could get the chapel for $35.00 a month. There two meetings a day, Sacrament and Sunday school.

So the meetings at Northington chapel began in August 1957 with less than half dozen people attending. But very soon the missionaries began to trickle back and they were always a great help to this small branch. But even so they were not able to bring in any members. But Mack had a brother James who had started at the U of A and Juanita West who was a student moved in to help out. She joined the church. Her father who was old objected so to the church that she never told him about her baptism. It only allowed him to die happily by not telling him.

After the dependent Sunday school was established more people did move in to stay, not just visit. Luna Caldwell and her sister Margaret Whitehouse. Also Luna's husband Dewey, and a couple named Louis and Sue Slazals. Helen, who had become Helen Taylor and her son Morris Taylor and her mother.  

 

In 1959 more people did move in. The Humbles, a man and wife who were new converts. He was the Labor Relations executive at the paper mill. Another student at the U of A was Carol Stevens. And Clair Bingham and his family moved in about then. According to Helen, the Binghamís are the ones who got the church off the ground. They were such a great help to us. Clair had been a bishop, and his wife Mary told us about relief society and that we needed to have a president. Our new convet1 Luna Caldwell was our first Relief Society President.

 

Clair and his wife Mary had three daughters, Carol the oldest, Adele the baby and Helen doesn't remember the middle girl. Mack tells about one meeting when we had the unbelievable number of thirty-five people present.

Clair Bingham was a geologist and traveled over the world and Helen couldn't locate him. But they were very important to this branch at that time.

In 1958 Mack and Joyce's family began to arrive. Their first daughter, Sabrina was born March 19, 1958. The next child, Cynthia was born in August 1959. Cynthia and Sabrina both entered BYU in the fall of 1976. The third daughter, Zina was born August 13, 1965.

Mack and Joyce were married by a Methodist minister and the only witness was the preacher's wife. They were married in the Salt Lake temple in August 1958.

During the time of the dependent Sunday school, even though we were few, we had lots of things to happen. At times Mack was called to participate at funerals, to bless the sick and babies. It got a bit rushed during finals at the U of A. But we usually had some missionaries and they helped and were always invaluable.

Once Mack was called to go to Demopolis to bless a new-born baby. The baby was born with fluid on its lungs. The mother was a member but the husband was not and she needed a priesthood holder to give the baby a blessing.

So Mack asked the missionaries to go help him. The doctor gave them permission to take the baby out of the incubator and from the oxygen tent. But the doctor had given the baby only a few hours to live. Since it's hold on life was so slim, they decided to leave the baby where it was and to lay their hands on the incubator to give the blessing.

The next morning Mack called the mother to check on the two. She was cheerful and happy. She said the baby was normal then and she quoted the doctor as saying that he had never seen such a miracle.

During Mack's senior year at school, he stopped working to devote more time to studying. He graduated from the U of A in 1959.

The Smyly family left Tuscaloosa after graduation and moved to Tennessee where he took a job with the TVA. Joyce attended the University of Tennessee where she got a degree in Education. They continued to be active in church, and Mack was Elder's quorum group leader, Sunday school superintendent and quorum secretary all at the same time. In 1962 Mack took a job with Boeing Company of Huntsville, Alabama to work on the Saturn Apollo Program. Joyce began teaching at Hazel Green High School. Next they bought a house in Madison and while there Joyce taught science at Monrovia Jr. High School. But Joyce's hearing got worse so she stopped working. Anyway they wanted another child and that is when Zina was born.

 

The family moved around quite a bit, and they all enjoyed the experience. Once they lived in an unfinished apartment and all the family collected discarded furniture from the apartment complex, and soon had enough to furnish all their rooms.

In 1972 Mack was called to the stake High Council and was given responsibility for genealogy and temple work. Also he continued to work with the Space Shuttle Program, and in 1994 he retired from NASA. In the Church he was Stake High Councilman by virtue of his tenure. He was released from his last calling, and is now waiting for his next calling.

Morris Taylor is living in Portland, Oregon. He is a real estate appraiser and broker with his own office. Morris served his mission in 1967-1969 in the north western states mission. During his mission he was District leader, Zone leader and AP to President Robelt Backman and Pres. Stukey.

Morris's wife is Marcia Cantwell Taylor. They have four children, two boys and two girls. Benjamin was released from his mission in April and is now at BYU. And he is elders quorum Teacher. Benjamin plans to be a dentist. Benjamin served in the Washington D.C. south mission.

Morris is in the bishopric in Portland and this is his fourth bishopric. Marci teaches music in high school and is choir director in their ward at church. Morris was with the young men's program five and a half years.

Morris's younger son, Matthew is on his mission in Osorno, Chili. He will be released in April 1998. Matthew plans to be a doctor. But for now he is financial secretary while on his mission.

Morris and Marci's two daughters are Ashley Taylor and Melissa Taylor. Both are teenagers in high school.

Sometime in early 1968, President Charles Ainsworth sent a letter to the inactive members of the branch asking if anyone wanted to be taught the missionary discussions. Willie Maye Hayes was one of the inactive members. Although she was not interested herself, her sixteen year old daughter was interested. A seventeen year old granddaughter was living with her who was very much against the idea. As it turned out, the day before the missionaries were scheduled to come, this grand daughter attended a church where she received a lot of anti-Mormon literature and presented the missionaries with it. The missionaries, Elders Kennnington and Kranwinkle, were not upset by this but answered the questions calmly. They proceeded to teach both the sixteen and seventeen year old.

 

This seventeen year old, Marlene Mills (now Stevens), was baptized from this effort on April 28, 1968. This same year Marlene Mills, Michael Dyer and Charles Kimball graduated from high school. This is significant because the young adults were such a significant part of the branch at this time. There were only 29 active members and each one had several callings and other duties. For example these young people plus some others, Michael Knight, Caroline (Glo) Folmar, Beverly Finnen (now Dyer) and later Angie Benson (Cole) and John Stevens were part of a group that met on Saturdays to clean the church building. This was the time when the meetings were held in Northington chapel, the area where University Mall is now. It was an old army chapel that was part of the old WWII hospital which had been turned into inexpensive student housing.

 

During the time that Charles Ainsworth was branch president he and wife Winnie started a lending library. Some of these books are still in the library today. At that time he was working on his doctorate at the University of Alabama.

 

Jack Dyer was very important to the group. Every Sunday the college students could go to Jack's house for dinner and stay till time to go back to church for the evening meeting. Brother Dyer will never know what his hospitality meant to the young people. They all remained active. Beverly Finnen married Mike Dyer and Marlene and John Married each other.

 

Charles Kimball was killed in a plane accident in 1977 while running for congress in a western state. He and his wife were married in the temple. He, his wife and child were all killed in the plane accident. Charles had previously been married to Linda Kornegay and they had a daughter Leslie.

 

Angie Benson Cole died in August 1995. She had suffered from complications of diabetes for several years. She converted her family to the church. She had three sisters, all married in the temple.

Dr. Michael Knight attended the U of A and was a member of the church here. He is a dentist and lives in Huntsville where he has his own office. He served his mission in 1968-1970 and labored in Brazil. His wife was also a missionary in Brazil. Her maiden name is Yvette Evens Knight. They have six children. Their son, Hal served a mission in Russia. Hal is married, and all of the knight children are living in Huntsville, Alabama. Mike is now Stake President in Huntsville.

So the church in this area began meeting with the Holloways in 1941 on 1212 Twelfth street and progressed to the Kimballís who were investigators, to the Smylys who wanted to establish a regular meeting place and were encouraged by President Densmore who recognized the need for a central meeting place.

The meetings with the Holloways in 1941 had no official standing at all, then after a few starts as with the Kimballs and Smylys we finally began meeting at Northington Chapel in 1958, with Clair Bingham our first Branch President.

 

Members of the church are now meeting in the new chapel that is located at 2015 Third Ave. North. It was built in 1972. We now have about five hundred and fifty members. Our district became a stake in 1982 with Hartman Rector Jr. organizing it.

 

Our last branch president was LeGrand Hutchison, and he was also our first bishop, serving from 1986-1991. LeGrand served his mission in France and is currently serving as the Stake President of the Bessemer Alabama Stake.

Jack Dyer. Jack's full name is Jack Dyer. He was born in Fayette, Alabama where he attended school. The war was on, so Jack enlisted in the marines when he was seventeen years old. He didn't graduate with his class, but received his diploma with his class.

 

Jack was baptized when he was thirty-eight years old. His wife's maiden name is Frances Helen Holloway. They were married in the Salt Lake temple in 1972. His principal jobs in the church were: Sunday school President, Elders Quorum President, Young Men's President, Branch President, and on the High Council. He is now Stake Patriarch. He is a Master Electrician and Electrical Contractor.

 

The Brackners came to Tuscaloosa in tile early 1970s. He was Branch President the first time from August 1971 to 1974, and again in early 1975 till August 1975 when the family moved away. His full name is James W. Brackner. His wife's maiden name was Gayle Linton. They have seven children and eleven grand children.

The Brackners have lived most of their lives in Utah except for a while in Valinda, California and then in Provo just before they came to Tuscaloosa. Jim joined the church and was baptized when he was eight years old. He served his mission in the Great Lakes Mission from 1956-1958.

His positions in the church since his mission have been in this order: Priest Quorum Advisor, Young Menís President, Sunday school teacher, Bishopric Counselor, Bishop, Branch President, Primary Teacher, Stake Clerk, High Priest Group Leader Councilor, and Stake High Councilman. Jim is presently a university professor teaching accounting and Administrator of Masters of Accounting Program. The Brackners are now living in Logan Utah.

 

Jeff Richetto. His full name is Jeffery Paul Richello. He was born in Warren, Ohio and attended school there. He got his Doctorate at Ohio State University. His wife's maiden name was Patricia Marie Thompson. Jeff was twenty-eight years old when he was baptized. Pat and Jeff were married in the Washington Temple. They have four children, Paul, Nichole, Christopher and Victoria.

 

Jeff was Branch President in Tuscaloosa in 1981-1983. He and his family are now living in Tuscaloosa. He is a professor at the University of Alabama. Jeffís church calling now is High Councilor.

            We split into two wards in 1991. Our wards were known as the Tuscaloosa Ward with Barry Sadler bishop, and the Warrior River Ward with Earl NeSmith bishop. When the Sadlers moved to Piedmont, Alabama, Jimmy Largin became the bishop of the Tuscaloosa ward. On September 26, 1995 the two wards were re-united into the Tuscaloosa Ward and Jimmy Porter was called to serve as bishop. He is serving at the present time.

DISTRICT AND STAKE PRESIDENTS

Birmingham, Alabanla District presidents:

Elder Eldon Mcarthur (missionary) ................ 1942ó≠

Stance Moore ................................................. 1958-1962 Robert Sidwell ............................................ ... 1963-1966 Mell Wallace ........ ......................... ................. 1967-1971

 

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA STAKE PRESIDENTS

Fred Washburn ..................................... 197 1-1977 Sheppardson .......................... ............... 1978-1982

Sam Fletcher ......................................... 1983-1992

Legrand Hutchison ... ............................ 1992-1997(present)

 

TUSCALOOSA BRANCH PRESIDENTS

Clair Bingham .................................... 1958-1962 John Kimball ...................................... 1962-1963 Elder Byron Vance ................ ............. 1963-1964 Elder Ambrose Hunter ....................... 1965-1966

Elder Famham Mcarthur .................... 1967-1968 Pres. Morgan .............. ........................ 1969-1969 Charles Ainsworth ....................... ....... 1969-1971

Jack Dyer ............................................ 1971-1972 Garrett Butler ...... ................................ 1973-1974 Edward Pulsifer .... ............................... 1974-1975 James Brackner ......... ..... ..... ... .......... ... 1975-1976 Charles Love ....................................... 1976-1977 leffRechetto ....................................... 1978-1980 Michael Dyer ................................. .. .

Craig Lenhard .................................. .

LeGrand Hutchison ............... ............... .

RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENTS

Text Box: Lina Caldwell 
Eunice Sullivan 
Verna Sobrino 
Mary Ann Adams 
Joanne Hollingsworth 
Doris Wallace 
Linda Lenhard 
Judy Sadlar 
Mary Ann Izatt 
Marilyn Whatley 
Des Marie Porter 
Arlene Hollingsworth 
EI izabcth Hall 
Sarah Nesmith 
 

We've had lots of people to go on missions from Tuscaloosa while it was both a district and a stake. We've had missionaries in many of the states of our country, and also foreign countries.

Morris Taylor, David Helms, Travis Smith, Michael Knight, Duane Porter, Matt Hutchison, Glo Fulmer, Larry Hall, John Whatley, Beverly Finnen, Stan Morrow, Mike Dyer, Jerry Lonzo, Legrand Hutchison, Randy Haines, Mike Skipper, Chad Adams, Mark Skipper, James Largin, Mark Dyer, Joseph Haines, Mark Hollingsworth, Bryant Haines, Jean Kelley, Barry Sadler, Jr, Sean Smith, Jason Sadle,r Pctcr Brackner Bill Roberts

I've missed some people who should have been in this piece, and I apologize for that. It was not intended, it is that I couldn't locate them, or didn't have enough information that was needed.

We had two Branch Presidents for a short while each which I mention now. Willard Landston and Cobb Largin came to Tuscaloosa for a while, each to be our branch president. I don't remember the years for either of them, but they and their families were a great help to us when we were so small a group.

I may have missed some relief society presidents, I'm sorry if I have.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece, and it was such fun hearing from people I had not seen for so long. It makes me feel young to go over again those happenings of so long ago.

I want to thank Gary Holt and Mark Hollingsworth for their wonderful help with the computer. I had not touched a computer in twenty-five years. Gary did much of the typing, and Mark was always near to clear away the mix-ups that I created.

And appreciation is expressed to Mack Smyly for providing the picture of the Northington Chapel. I'm grateful to everyone who helped me with this undertaking. I feel very humble to be able to help bring together the things that have helped to make up our ward.

Papa died in 1954 and Mama died in 1975.

I'm grateful to my papa and mama who opened their home to the Elders and to anyone who wanted to come to our humble home on that beauti ful tree-lined street. I thank my Heavenly Father for remembering Tuscaloosa, and sending those Elders to bring us the gospel to bless our lives.

Helen Holloway Taylor Dyer

Sister Dyer: On behalf of the Tuscaloosa Ward we really want to thank you for the excellent work you have done in writing this history of the ward. Here is a copy that was printed on the institute computer. Also enclosed is a computer disc with a copy of your history all it. If you want to add anything or change anything. you can bring the disc to the institute and use our typing keyboard which is like a typewriter to make any changes you want. That way you will not have to re-type pages on your typewriter. If any of the other branch presidents or bishops give you information to add to the history, it can easily be added using a computer key board for typing it. Or the computer at the Chapel could be used. The format of the file on the disk is for Wordperfect 6. OJ

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