Looking back: More tales of George Washington, $2 bills in Brewton

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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This week’s column is a little bit different that it usually is. I have two Looking Back articles that I will tell about, one in 2017 and another in 2009. I hope you enjoy them.

In 2017 I wrote a column, “Looking Back” that told of an article I found in the 1977 bound volume and I finally have an answer to the question that I had at the time.

When the old school on Belleville Avenue was torn down in 1976, a heavy plaster bust of George Washington was found in the attic of the school. On the back of the bust were these words, “1816-Wilson MacDonald’s bust of George Washington molded from an original  Houdon cast in 1785 and the Stuart painting of 1795.”

The bust was given to the old Brewton Collegiate Institute in the early 1900s by an Italian family who came to Brewton, but didn’t stay.

Now this article said that the bust would be cleaned up and put in a place of honor near the front part of the school. I have never seen it, or if I did, I didn’t know what it was. I will follow up on this. I have found that the original sculptor was Jean-Antonio Houdun of France. He came to America at the request of President Thomas Jefferson. Among other things, he carved the statue that stands in the rotunda of the Virginia capitol.

Now I get to the latest chapter in this book. The other day I went out to the Thomas E. McMillan Museum at Coastal Alabama Community College to take some photographs of students as the toured the campus.

While I was waiting, I looked around at all the materials there and all of a sudden, my eyes fell on a statue in the corner. I couldn’t believe it. I slowly walked over to the corner and sure enough, it was a bust of George Washington. I was so excited, but I had to wait until the tour was over to ask the curator, Don Sales, about it.

He said the bust had been found in a storeroom and placed in the corner of the museum. He did not know any more except it had some writing on the back. The piece was too heavy to turn it around so I planned on going back out to look at it, but I didn’t get to.

I did, however, look up Stuart and found that he was Gilbert Stuart and he did many paintings of American presidents and other famous people of his day.

I also found that Wilson MacDonald was a Canadian poet, but how he came to be the owner of this bust I do not know.

All of this goes to prove that if you persist, little pieces can be put together to form a full, linking puzzle.

The other article is one that ran in 2009 just 10 years ago. The economy was on the minds of many people and one of those people was Danny Cottrell. He decided to do something about it so he and his partner, Tom Henderson, gave each of their employees an envelope containing a number of two-dollar bills. He gave with the stipulation that it be spent locally and that 15 percents would be given to charity.

This news spread all the way to the television networks and Cottrell appeared on at least one national network. Anyone who knows Danny Cottrell, knows what a good person he is and now the world knows, tool.