Home brew in the Irish tradition gave Screamers Ridge its name

Published 12:39 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

By Staff
I hope you find this narrative as interesting as I did. Mr. McCreary didn't stay on the subject of the raid all the time. He mentioned several names of individuals who lived in the area at the time. Another thing to note is that at that time, there was no Escambia County, Ala., and when you see references to Conecuh County, it could have been in the part that later became Escambia.
After leaving Lewis' Station, the Yankees crossed Mendenhall Creek and then came to a small hill known as Screamers Ridge, so named because Mary Lewis McGowin Floyd owned and ran a store there. She sold to travelers, immigrants and local inhabitants their daily needs. She made and sold a homemade whiskey that was made from sour corn mash that was sweetened with sugar cane syrup and then distilled.
After indulging in a few drinks of this corn whiskey the drinker would scream with delight so the hill up from Mendenhall Creek became known as Screamers Ridge. Mrs. Floyd had learned how to ferment and distill whiskey while living in South Carolina from the Irish that brought their knowledge of whiskey making from the Old Country.
Mrs. Floyd, with her second husband, Thomas, two Floyd daughters and two sons by her first husband, James McGowin, moved into the Mason community in the early 1800s. For moving they put most of their belongings in a large barrel on which were placed trunnions or shafts to which an ox was hitched and as the ox pulled it would roll over and over and so it rolled all the way from the banks of the Flint River in Decatur County, Ga., to the banks of the Conecuh River in Conecuh County, Ala. It was water tight to keep the contents dry while crossing streams. It must have been made out of good wood as it was used to ferment the corn mash after the family arrived in Conecuh County. Some of their cooking and farm equipment was packed in a cart drawn by an ox. Members of the family took turns riding in the cart while other members walked. At night the family slept under the stars, preparing meals after making camp.
Screamers Ridge was on Old Three Notch Road, a roadway surveyed by the Federal Government in the early 1800s to give travelers a roadway into West Florida to Baldwin and Mobile Counties, Ala., which was occupied by the British at that time. This road was used by some of General Andrew Jackson's troops on the way to Pensacola in 1814 where he ran the British out of Fort Barrrancas before they proceeded to New Orleans where they fought and whipped the English again. The Three Notch Road was much wider than the roads in Florida and made movement of the cavalry much easier for the Yankees. After getting on this road, Col. Spurling headed northeast toward Montezuma Landing, his planned crossing of the Conecuh River. On his right he passed the M.M. Blackshare place where Mr. Blackshare's son, Abraham Blackshare, was buried. He was born June 15th, 1843, and died in the service of the C.S.A. Army, Nov. 25th, 1862. As the Yankee Cavalry neared Grab Creek they passed on their right the Foshee Cemetery grave of Peter Mason buried. He was born Oct. 24th, and died of typhoid fever Dec. 19, 1863, in a Confederate Army camp near Mobile. His widow, Nancy Floyd McGowin, went to the camp where he died and brought his body back and buried him in the family cemetery which later became known as the Foshee Cemetery. No doubt his grandmother, Mary Lewis McGowin Floyd, is also buried in this cemetery.
All horses and mules that the Yankees found along the way were confiscated and taken with them. The ones not used for riding were used as pack animals to take food stuff for both man and animal and the loot picked up along the way.
The Yankees passed through Dixie on the 22nd and shortly thereafter passed on their left the home of Wiley Dixon and his family cemetery where his son, William H. Dixon, is buried. He was born April 8, 1829, and died Jan. 11, 1864, while in the service of the Confederate Army in the same camp near Mobile that Peter McGowin had died three weeks earlier.
His mother, Elsie May Dixon, went with Nancy McGowin in a wagon to the Army camp where they died and brought their bodies back home for burial. It took them almost two weeks to make the trip. They took their own food with them, camping out at night and sleeping in the wagon going to Mobile and under it on the way back as the coffins were in the wagon.
After passing the Dixon place the raiders took a sharp turn in the road and within a short time arrived at the homestead of Isaac Hart on their left. They took what corn he had in his barn. He had a short notice that the Yankees were coming so he took most of the corn deep in the swamps and hid it. He took his livestock, goats, sheep, work animals and his wagons as far off the road as possible. The raiders emptied his potato banks, took all of his syrup and that is all he lost except the bucket he used to draw water from his well, which they took.
I will continue with this next week. I may be able to finish with this material and get on to something else. I have found some good information that I would like to share with you.

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