Mobile: Photographs from the William E. Wilson Collection (AL) (Images of America)
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Beautiful Mobile, Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico, has a colorful history dating back to its founding in 1702. Few photographers have captured the essence of Mobile-its people, places, and events-to the extent of master photographer William Ernest Wilson. Wilson's photography vividly depicts Mobile life at the turn of the twentieth century and is the subject of this engaging visual journey. From nationally elected officials such as Theodore Roosevelt to local Mardi Gras royalty, from entrepreneur Gordon Smith of Smith's Bakery to Africa Town founder Cudjoe Lewis, from a stately cathedral to country churches, from thriving banks and theaters to lumber yards and banana docks, the people and places of Mobile are revealed through Wilson's camera as a kaleidoscope of life in a bustling seaport. Artistic shading and Wilson's innate ability to see beyond the lens give his photographs an air of the contemporary while reflecting a bygone era of simplicity. These images simultaneously reveal the height of Victorian photographic art and daily life in one of the South's first major cities. Covering the period from 1894 to 1905, the collection features personalities, street scenes, and architectural treasures of the past. Preserved on their original dry glass negatives, a significant portion of Wilson's Mobile photographs are collected and printed here in a single edition for the first time.
table, draped with festive ribbons. Mobile’s bicentennial was a big celebration on January 23, 1902, when a sizeable crowd gathered at the former site of Fort Louis de La Mobile at 27-Mile Bluff. Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville and his younger brother, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur d’Bienville, founded the fort settlement. A marker, left, was placed at the site in conjunction with the celebration. Baseball had become the Great American Pastime by 1900 and players and fans in Mobile were not
The city’s first paid fire department, pictured here, was established in 1888. Local military companies emerged in Mobile beginning in the late 1830s in response to threats by Creek Indians to violate a treaty. Later, the Mobile Cadets—essentially a group of boys—organized in anticipation of joining American troops in the Mexican War in 1845. It turned out that only a couple of members of the unit met age requirements to serve. Later, when the Civil War started, these local companies saw actual
seen here on July 4, 1905 in Monroe Park. Alabama First Regiment encampment is seen above c. 1900. This Mobile encampment was an annual summer event from the late 1800s into the early 20th century. Troops assemble at encampment. This photograph shows a review of troops at encampment. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This book has been a labor of love made possible through the assistance and support of several people. Thanks first to my wonderful and talented husband, Art Culpepper, whose technical expertise
Finally, I wish to thank the people who have in some way assisted with the creation of this book and they are as follows: Jean Wentworth, executive assistant, Historic Mobile Preservation Society; Tom McGehee, author and curator, Bellingrath Home, who wrote some of the introductions (noted at the end of each entry); Herbert Marston, City of Mobile Cemeteries Operations Department; the Very Rev. Michael L. Farmer, chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile; Helen Wilson, historian and
editor, Landmark Letter; Marylon Barkan, HMPS archives chairman; Patsy Starkey, director, Mobile Medical Museum, for research assistance; John Sledge, historian, Mobile Historic Development Commission; the Executive Board of Historic Mobile Preservation Society for support of this project; and Katie White, Acquisitions Editor, Arcadia Publishing, for her kindness and assistance. PRIMARY SOURCES A History of Medicine in Alabama, by Howard L. Holley; Alabama: The History of a Deep South State,