Yankees make it to Ridge

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By By Lydia Grimes
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 grave of Peter Mason buried in Foshee Cemetery. 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.
I will finish up with this next week and get on to something else. I hope you see what I meant when I said there was more to this account than just the Yankees coming.