Freeman's and the Mighty Bankhead Forest

Written by Liz Elrod

Even when I was a child the Bankhead Forest was a mystery to me. The mysteries they hold today are somewhat unexplainable. My Grandparents, the Freeman's, lived on highway 278 not far from the sign that displayed Forest Gap. The area just north of them, the Forest was even closer. I remember many times my dad and grandpa would go fishing at old Houston at a place called the Butler place on Brushy Creek. For years when I was a kid Grandpa Freeman and I would take long walks in that area, I loved walking in the woods and so did he.

My Freeman family came to Alabama from Georgia in the latter 1850s; they settled near Capsey Creek. They lived there rather peacefully until the Civil war started and after the war started the family left and went back to Georgia. Some of them I can account for after the war and some of them I can't. Even today when I travel in the Forest among the spruce pines and Cow Cumbers I feel as if I belong there.

The Forest had a history during that time frame, with the home guards rambling around from farm to farm trying to get the farmers to join the Confederate cause. If they did join the army it would only make life harder for the people left alone to fend for the family.

My family went back to Georgia but after the war some of them returned. My great great grandfather was killed in 1864, and his wife and son walked back to Alabama. They walked at night to avoid conflict with the soldiers and slept in the day time. The civil war was a bad place to be and caused many hardships that took many courageous men.

The hills, rivers, streams, and bluffs make up the forest, as well as Indian lore that leads to the path from the past. It compels us to dig a little deeper for the many treasures that it has to offer. The smell in spring of honeysuckle is a reminder of all of Gods' wonders in every treasure that is there. I have always referred to it as The Mighty Bankhead Forest, for there is so much that one can do there. I would be happy there just to set under a tree and dream.