5 months ago

Camden entrepreneurs look to spark local tourist economy with Liberty Hall’s Antebellum South bed and breakfast ‘experience’

CAMDEN – “There Are No Strangers Here – Just Friends Who Haven’t Met Yet”

That is the mantra of Liberty Hall, a two-story Greek Revival style house built in 1855, and is now a bed and breakfast that offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience some of the aspects of antebellum life without missing the modern amenities like indoor plumbing and WiFi internet.

They’ve come from all over the world to stay at Liberty Hall. Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa, to name a few. The reasons are many.

Sign at Liberty Hall, Camden, Ala. (Jeff Poor/YHN)

“We have had family reunions, class reunions, weddings, funerals,” said Liberty Hall co-proprietor Julia Handly.

Handly and her husband, Dudly Handly, operate Liberty Hall, with Dudly handling the cooking duties of the bed and breakfast’s signature “plantation breakfast.”

Many come for the quiltmakers at Gee’s Bend. Others come for the springtime production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in nearby Monroeville. And some come to get away.

“[They] just want to do something different,” Handly said. “One of the things people have told us they love is we don’t have televisions in the rooms. One guy had been here with his family – his children and all. And that is what he told us when he left. He said, ‘I can’t thank you enough for not having a television. We enjoyed time as a family.”

She added that initially they had a television in some of the rooms, but could not make it work and preserve the character of the house that is equipped with some of its original furnishings and others that date back 100 years or more.

Liberty Hall Guest Room, Camden, Ala. (Jeff Poor/YHN)

How those furnishing survived is a story in itself. At the time of the Civil War, the occupants of Liberty Hall, then known as the McDowell house, were Samuel and Julia McDowell. As the Union troops made their way into Camden, they set out to burn down homes like Liberty Hall.

In anticipation of their arrival, the McDowell family cut out notches in one of the home’s columns (which are still visible today) and hid their valuables. As luck would have it, Samuel went out to greet the Union commander tasked with torching the homes to discover they were both Masons and the Union commander instructed his men to spare Liberty Hall.

Since then, the home has remained in the family, and the furnishings have stayed put through the generations.

“When the house passed down, it passed down,” Handly added.

My room for the evening is furnished with the belongings of Handly ancestor Confederate Maj. Felix Tait of the Alabama 23rd Infantry, who was also a veteran of the Mexican War, a trustee at the University of Alabama in the late 1850s and represented Wilcox County in the Alabama State Senate in the 1870s.

Each of the rooms has some kind of unique offering, one of which includes a library with books and magazines dating back over the past 100-plus years.

Bookshelf at Liberty Hall, Camden, Ala. (Jeff Poor/YHN)

The Handlys actively promote their hometown of Camden, the county seat of Wilcox County, which has struggled economically for decades. They describe a stay at Liberty Hall as an “experience” replete with fellowship and southern hospitality.

Julia Handly was sometimes babysat by Gov. Kay Ivey, also a Camden native, as a child. She explained that they work with other local Camden businesses including the GainesRidge Dinner Club, the downtown Coast to Coast general store and the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center.

“I want you to experience this and get a taste of what good folks we have right here,” Handly said.

There are a few house rules – no alcohol and no pets. However, for the most part, the home lives up to its name Liberty Hall given guests are at liberty to use the home’s furnishing at their leisure.

Front profile of Liberty Hall, Camden, Ala., 1/4/2019 (Jeff Poor/YHN)

Recently, the Handlys made an addition to the home so that some of the individual rooms would have private bathrooms – something obviously not possible at the time of the home’s construction.

Tours of the home are also available for $7. Those wishing to spend the night are encouraged to visit the home’s website LibertyHallBandB.com for more information.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

3 mins ago

Former Miss America Heather Whitestone McCallum rules out Alabama 2020 U.S. Senate bid

Miss America 1995 Heather Whitestone McCallum will not be a candidate in Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

She told Yellowhammer News on Wednesday evening that she has finalized her decision and will not run, saying the timing was not right for her.

A Republican, she had been considering running for several months, even conducting polling in the spring to help make an informed decision.

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“Alabama has given so much to me. It would definitely be an honor to give back to the people of my state,” Whitestone said in a statement to Yellowhammer News earlier this year. “That being said, it is something my husband John and I are praying about.”

Whitestone, a Dothan native, is also a former Miss Alabama. She made history as the first deaf Miss America, having fully lost her hearing when she was 18-months old. Whitestone underwent a cochlear implant surgery to partially restore her hearing in 2002.

She has authored multiple faith-centric books, including “Listening With My Heart,” “Believing The Promise,” “Let God Surprise You” and “Heavenly Crowns.” She is a graduate of Berry High School (now Hoover High School) and Jacksonville State University.

Whitestone, 46, has lived in Georgia for over two decades, having moved there after marrying her husband, John McCallum. She and John met when they were both serving as aides to then-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA). John ran unsuccessfully for Congress himself in 2014. She and her husband have three children.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) are the credible candidates who have formally announced Republican candidacies to unseat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) thus far.

Unsuccessful 2017 Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore will announce Thursday at 2:00 p.m. in Montgomery whether he will join that field.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is expected to make an announcement on his potential Senate bid next week after filing his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

48 mins ago

Mo Brooks: ‘Nice guy’ Doug Jones ‘not able to masquerade as a moderate any longer’ — ‘Clear he is a Chuck Schumer left-winger’

On Wednesday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) gave a wide-ranging interview to C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” hitting on a variety of topics, including immigration, Iran and defense spending.

Host Pedro Echevarria also asked Brooks about the possibility of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate up in 2020 currently occupied by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook).

The Madison County Republican declined to speculate about Moore’s candidacy, but predicted the ultimate GOP nominee would defeat Jones given the different dynamic of the 2020 election cycle with President Donald Trump on the ballot.

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“I do want the people back home in Alabama to know this: No matter who our Republican nominee is, that nominee is going to win in 2020 against Doug Jones. There’s going to be a whole different dynamic with it being a presidential election with Trump on the ballot, with a Democrat nominee on the ballot. And there’ll be a lot more people voting.”

“And Doug Jones – nice guy, but he’s voted for abortion,” Brooks continued. “He’s voted against our Supreme Court justices. He’s voted for open borders. He’s not going to be able to masquerade as a moderate any longer. It’s pretty clear he is a Chuck Schumer left-winger.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 hour ago

Byrne: Percentage of illegal border crossers ‘might be part of a terrorist effort’ — ‘We have to be very vigilant’

In the very early stages of the 2020 U.S. Senate campaign, immigration has become one of the primary focuses, especially given the statements of one of the contest’s apparent front-runners, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

One of the concerns is that among the mass influxes of illegal border crossers could be individuals that look to inflict harm on the country, particularly those from Middle Eastern nations coming in through the porous U.S.-Mexico border.

In an appearance on Huntsville’s WVNN, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) said it is not out of the realm of possibilities such bad actors could be coming into the United States through Mexico.

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“What we know is is that unlike ten years ago, 80% of the people coming across the border are from three countries: They’re from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras,” Byrne explained on Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show.” “They are families and unaccompanied minors, and they’re just overwhelming the system that we’re having so many of them, and they’re incredibly needy. But in addition to that 80% of the people that fall into that category, there are some onesies and twosies of people that might be – we can’t necessarily prove it, might be part of a terrorist effort. So, we have to be very vigilant about that.”

“Now the truth of the matter is in that other 20%, you’ve got people coming from all over the world,” he continued. “They found the body of a young Indian girl, a Hindu Indian girl, the other day out in the desert. So, we know they’re getting them from everywhere. And some of these people are coming across because they want to be part of America. And some of them are coming across for really bad reasons. Some of them are drug traffickers. Some of them are human traffickers. And we are concerned, though we can’t give you hard evidence of this – that some of them may be part of a terrorist effort in this country.”

The Baldwin County Republican U.S. congressman explained the difficulties in identifying those coming into the country seeking asylum as who they claim to be, which is problematic in determining potential threats.

“I mean, just because you’re from a Middle Eastern country doesn’t necessarily mean you’re part of a terrorist network,” Byrne said. “So there is a lot more that goes into it, and I’ve got to be careful what I say because of the classified briefings I’ve had, but there is a lot more that goes into this to try to make a determination who is this person. And part of the problem, Jeff, is the unknown. Because how can we know who these people are? They say, ‘My name is so-and-so, and I’m from this country, and I’m here because I’ve been persecuted in my country.’”

“Well, how do we know that?” he continued. “And how do we – in some of these countries like Syria, we have no way to go back and check that out because their communities are gone? The people we would go to, to try to verify who they are – are in some refugee camp somewhere. It’s just the impossibility to have full information on these people that is such a problem. And so you just can’t let whoever you want to come across the border. You have to have a very rigorous system to determine who are these people and whether they should be here or not.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

15 hours ago

Auburn’s Bruce Pearl slams AOC for ‘concentration camps’ tweets: ‘Attempt to rewrite the Holocaust’

Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl is not tolerating what he views as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) “attempt to rewrite the holocaust” after she compared current immigration facilities in the U.S. to “concentration camps.”

Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday tweeted, “This administration (the Trump administration) has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”

“This is not hyperbole,” she claimed. “It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

In a follow-up tweet the same day, she doubled down and blamed others for taking offense to her original tweet.

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“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps,” Ocasio-Cortez asserted.

“Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial,'” she concluded. “And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

In a direct response to Ocasio-Cortez, Pearl tweeted, “Tell that to the people who died and survived those concentration camps that they don’t know the difference.”

“Never again is reserved for the 9 million people murdered including 6 million Jews,” he added. “The comparison is attempt to rewrite the holocaust! Stop!”

Pearl this spring became the fourth Jewish head coach in NCAA history to take a team to the Final Four. He was the first president of the Jewish Coaches Association.

This came as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski made similar “concentration camps” comparisons on Tuesday, with the two liberal media personalities drawing rebukes from the Auschwitz Memorial’s official Twitter account.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

At Paris Air Show, Deloitte gives major gift to advance Alabama Cyber School

PARIS — Deloitte presented a $100,000 gift to the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering Foundation Tuesday in a ceremony at the 2019 Paris Air Show.

The donation is a combination of a financial contribution as well as in-kind support. This donation is intended to promote and advance the state magnet school, which opens in Huntsville in August 2020.

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Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle accepted the check on behalf of Deloitte from Ray Winn, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP and a cyber leader.

“One of the primary conversations we are having here at the Paris Air Show is the need to secure aviation and missile platforms,” Mayor Battle said. “To do so requires a workforce that understands how cyber systems interact with hardware.

“This school sets the foundation blocks for creating those platforms.”

Carey Miller, a managing director at Deloitte & Touche LLP, said the firm has been committed to the success of the Huntsville community since opening its office there six years ago.

“The Huntsville community recognizes that cyber is everywhere and that by investing in education, it can be the nation’s cyber leader,” Miller said.

The independent residential magnet school will provide academically motivated 7th through 12th grade students from across the state with educational opportunities and experiences in the rapidly growing fields of cyber technology and engineering.

The school will also assist a broad range of teachers, administrators, and superintendents across the State of Alabama in replicating cyber technology and engineering studies in their own schools.

Deloitte is one of the largest professional service organizations in the world.

(Courtesy Made in Alabama)