Tour of Furman

A Downhome Perspective on All Things Southern

Home About Us Blog Genealogy Recipes Gardening Manners and Etiquette Real Estate Destinations History
Hunting and Fishing Photojournalism Southern Furniture Maker Inspiration Write Life Opinion Contact-


APRIL 17, 2010
Tour of Furman
Wilcox County Information
Wilcox County Historical Society
Palmer Cemetery
Wakefield History
Mount Moriah

Wilcox County True Blues
Flag Returns Home
Consuela Lee and the Snow Hill Academy--interesting story
William James Edwards biography-- founder of Snow Hill Academy  (Spike Lee's grandfather) who was reared on the R.O. Simpson place in Furman, Alabama

The genealogies of these Wilcox County Lines are included on this website because they are those of this webmaster.

Dr. Elkanah George Burson and Elizabeth Jane Knight Burson

Great Grandparents:


Elkanah Burson and Ellafare Christian Barge Burson

and  Napoleon Oscar Knight and Margaret Lucy Watson Knight


Great Great Grandparents:


Joseph Jackson Burson and Elizabeth Dunn Burson

and George Abel Barge and Mary Ann Slaughter Barge


Lewis Jackson Knight and Catherine Palmer Knight

William Watson and Elizabeth Jane McWhorter


Great Great Great Grandparents


Joseph Jefferson Burson and Leah Burson

And Benjamin Dunn and Susannah Dunn


Stephen Palmer and Juliet Hartwell Palmer

And Edwin Knight and Martha Comer Watts Knight


Abel Barge and Martha Faust Barge
and Reuben Slaughter and Semantha Fluornoy


James Watson and unknown

David McWhorter and Mary “Polly” Wardlaw


Joel Wardlaw Ramsey and Sharman Burson Ramsey

David Wardlaw Ramsey and Emma Virginia Hawthorne Ramsey


History Celebration 
& Driving Tour 
The Furman Civic Club is sponsoring this celebration of Small 
towns in Alabama on April 17, 2010, and the subsequent driving 
tour of homes, churches, schools, and other historic sites in 
this east Wilcox County town. Furman was designated a National 
Historic District in 1999 along with the nearby towns of Pine 
Apple and Oak Hill. 
Featured homes include “Wakefield”, the classic steamboat 
gothic house featured in the book Silent in the Land, the 
Moore-Burson-Rushing Home, the Watson-Pryor-Moorer Home, 
“Patience Plantation”, the Purifoy-Lipscomb home featured in 
Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Thirteen Ghosts of Alabama and 
Jeffrey, “Fox Hill”, restored by Don and Katrina Bell, the 
McCondichie-Stabler Home, the Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home, and 
the Perdue-Estes Home. In addition, Bethsaida Baptist Church, 
Furman Methodist Church, Hopewell Church, Snow Hill 
Institute, Palmer Cemetery, Old Snow Hill Cemetery, Snow Hill 
Cemetery, and Purifoy Cemetery are included on this tour. 
As noted above, Furman was designated a National Historic 
District in 1999 and has many antebellum homes and structures 
still standing. The town has a fascinating history beginning circa 
1802 when the first settlers came to the area from South 
Carolina. Most of the Wilcox County towns were settled by 
Scotch, Irish, and English settlers, and Furman also to some 
degree. However, many of the early settlers of Furman came 
from the South Carolina low country and were of French 
ancestry. The William Snow family settled on a high hill north 
of present day Furman, now the site of Old Snow Hill Cemetery 
around this date. Thus, the early community was known as 
Snow’s Hill. It was renamed Furman in 1872 after the town of 
Furman, South Carolina, and a new community was founded a 
few miles to the west - and named Snow Hill. Furman Academy 
was a popular school in the late 1800's with students from 
throughout the State of Alabama. Some fascinating persons 
came from this small town, including Elkanah Burson, an 
attache’ to General Robert E. Lee and John Purifoy, a member of 
Company C. Mr. Purifoy later served Alabama in many 
important offices including Secretary of State. Mr. Burson, an 
original member of the Wilcox True Blues company, delivered 
the Confederacy surrender papers to General Ulysses Grant at 
Appomattox. He then returned home to Furman and later served 
in the Alabama House of Representatives. One of his great 
granddaughters is now the owner of Wakefield. Another is 
married to the great grandson of D.W. Ramsey, the second 
commandant of theWilcox True Blues! Some direct descendants 
of these original settlers still own homes and property in Furman. 

This Driving Tour is dedicated to the memory of Les Moorer,
who was instrumental in the organization and success of the
1997 Fall Tour of Homes. Les, a native of Furman, passed away
on Thanksgiving Day 1997, and is interred at Old Snow Hill
Cemetery. He and his family are responsible for restoring this
site, and his was the first burial in the cemetery since 1923.



1. Furman Schoolhouse - This school was built in the 1920's and served 
the Furman and Snow Hill areas as an elementary and junior high school 
into the 1950's. It was deeded to the Furman Civic Club in 1961 and has 
served as a community center ever since. 

2. “Wakefield” Plantation - This beautiful antebellum home is built 
in a one-of-a-kind Steamboat Gothic style. The nearly 6,000 sq. ft. of 
living area consists of 12 rooms and 12 fireplaces, and unique porches 
on all sides. It was named “Wakefield” by the Gulley family which 
owned the home from its construction in the 1840's until it was sold to 
Dr. E.G. Burson in 1943. John Gulley started construction around 
1840 and depleted his financial resources by the time it was completed 
7 years later. The construction cost was $12,000. John Gulley then 
sold the home to his brother Henry Gulley, who bequeathed it to his 
daughter Laura Gulley. She left it to her half sisters who sold to Dr. 
Elkanah G. Burson. The home is now owned by Sylvia Burson 
Rushing, granddaughter of Dr. Elkanah G. Burson, and her husband 
Tom Rushing. They are only the fourth family to own this home, 
which is featured in the historic book “Silent in the Land”. 

3. Moore-Burson-Rushing Home -This 1 ½ story gabled central 
passage house is of the coastal cottage type, and is located across the 
street from “Wakefield”. It served as the home place of Dr. and Mrs. 
Elkanah G. Burson until they purchased “Wakefield” in 1943. It has 
remained in the Burson family and Tom and Sylvia Rushing (current 
owners) are presently restoring it. The builder of this home was Leonard Moore.

4. Palmer-Barlow-Britt Home - This “coastal cottage” is thought to 
have been built in the 1830's by Stephen and Juliet Palmer and possibly 
modified by Dabney Palmer around 1860. It is a classic 1 ½ story 
“Carolina” cottage featuring a central passage with rooms to each side, 
including a unique prayer room with gothic arched windows. The front 
porch is an integral recessed porch constructed on brick bases connected 
directly to the earth (Carolina Porch Style). The home also features a 
wrap-around rear shed porch flanked by the kitchen. There are two large 
bedrooms upstairs. It was owned by the Barlow family for many years 
until purchased by Mitchell and Jennifer Britt of Huntsville several years 
ago. They are continuing to restore the home at this time. 
5. Palmer Cemetery - This cemetery was started in 1831 when Oscar 
Palmer, the 10-year old son of Stephen and Juliet Palmer, passed away. 
He was buried in the family garden just south of the Palmer home 
which still stands and is now owned by Jennifer and Mitchell Britt of 
Huntsville. You may view the names of all those persons buried in this 
cemetery and other cemeteries on tour by logging onto and checking out the cemetery links. 
6. Watson-Pryor-Moorer Home -This 1 ½ story frame home features 
end gables, two piles deep, double front doors with “Italianate” panels 
with rounded tops, front door sidelights and transom nine-over-nine 
sash windows throughout except in the end gables, which have four-
over-four sash windows. The original construction date was circa 1860 
and several renovations and upgrades have been made over the years. 

7. McCondichie-Stabler Home -This home was built by Herbert and 
Emma Farrior McCondichie, members of one of the pioneer families of 
Furman. The home was built in the 1870's and features heart pine lumber, 
and is typical of those area homes built after the War Between the 
States. The home was purchased by Lamar and Miriam Stabler in 1928, 
and has remained in the family since that time. It originally consisted of 
four duplicate rooms in front, separated by a large hallway extending 
through the house. A dining room and kitchen were attached to the rear. 
Extensive remodeling was done in the early 1920's to “modernize” the 
home, including enlarging the parlor, placement of French doors between 
the living and dining room, and the addition of the carport. 
8. Purifoy-Lipscomb Home -This home was built around 1840 by the 
Purifoy family, one of the earliest to settle Wilcox County. Its style is 
similar to several in the Furman area, and is almost identical to that of 
“Fox Hill”. It was probably built by Edmond Hobdy, and remained in the 
Purifoy family until the Hollemans purchased it in 1987. John and Kathy 
Estes purchased the home in 1998 and sold it to the Robert Lipscomb 
family in 2000. The home is famous for the “man-in the-well” story featured 
in the book by Kathryn Tucker Windham, “Thirteen Ghosts of Alabama 
and Jeffrey”. The old well site is still visible in the back. 
9. Furman Methodist Church -The original church building was 
constructed in 1857 on the present site of land donated by Mrs. Sarah 
Patton McCondichie. The current building was finished in 1882, and 
has served the Furman area ever since. It ceased to be an active church 
in 1998, but it still has an annual service each April with many of the 
descendants of the original founders coming back for this event. 

10. Perdue-Williams-Estes Home -This home was built around 1895 
by a lumber entrepreneur named Perdue. Its conservative building style 
belies the construction date, as it would appear that it should have been 
constructed much earlier. The home is a two-story frame end gabled 
central passage house two piles in depth, featuring a two-tiered wraparound 
porch on all four sides. It also features four brick exterior 
chimneys, flush board siding, balustered railing and jigsaw work 
brackets on the upper porch tier, decorative latticework arches on the 
first floor elevation, double front and rear doors with sidelights and 
transoms on both stories, with a one room kitchen wing which abuts the 
rear porch. The home was owned by the Williams family for many 
years, and is now owned by Jim and Dora Estes. 
11. Bethsaida Baptist Church - Bethsaida Baptist Church was founded in 
1831 at a site very close to the present building. Elder Hawthorne was the 
first pastor, and some of the founding families were the Albrittons, Lees, 
Purefoys (Purifoys), McCondichies, and Fowlers. Mr. A. Scarbrough sold 
the property to Edward Hobdy and Dr. William Gulley, who then donated 
the property to the Baptist Church. It was on this site that the present 
building was erected between 1858 and 1860. There were many 
“bondsmen” who worshiped in the upstairs galleries. During the late 1800's 
and early 1900's, the membership approached 150 members. In 1920, 
Furman was a bustling community featuring several doctors and numerous 
businesses. The 2010 church roster consists of 21 members! 
12. “Fox Hill” - Carter-Cunningham-Wilson-Bell Home - This 
home was constructed in the late 1830's or early 1840's by either 
Addison Scarbrough or Edmond Hobdy. Mr. Hobdy built several 
homes in the area during this period. The style is “Plantation Plain” 
with shed rooms across the rear and a “prophets chamber” room in the 
right front. Much of the original glass remains in the house. All 
rooms feature original wainscoting and most rooms have faux graining 
on the doors. This home was stabilized and partial restoration 
accomplished by the Wilson family. Don and Katrina Bell purchased 
the home in 2001 and have restored it to its present condition, in 
addition to constructing the dependencies located on the grounds. 

13. Trails End -This beautiful home was built in 1876 by Elkanah and 
Elafore Barge Burson on land inherited from his grandfather Joseph 
Burson who obtained the land through a land grant signed by Andrew 
Jackson. Elkanah served as an officer in the Confedarate Army and was 
with General Lee at Appomattox (see previous account). After the 
deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Burson, the home was deeded to their 
granddaughter Elliece Burson Williams Tucker who lived here with her 
family for her entire life. The home was sold to John and Kathy Estes 
in 1999 who have modernized the interior but left the exterior in its 
original form. The home is a 1 1/2 story frame and gabled central 
passage house of the costal cottage style, featuring a recessed porch on 
piers resting on a wood plank porch floor. The front door features 
sidelights and transom, and there are nine –over-nine windows 

14. Purifoy-Lee-McCoy Home -This splendid antebellum home, known 
as “Patience Plantation”, built in simple Federal style, with Greek 
Revival elements, encompasses around 4,000 square feet of living space. 
The usual Doric boxed columns are seen across the front, with the 
original double portico having been removed in the late 1960's during the 
restoration work done by George and Ruth Carlin who had purchased the 
home in 1966. Ruth Cunningham Carlin was a native of Furman, and 
grew up in “Fox Hill” described previously. The Carlins did extensive 
work on the home between 1966-1978. .Frank Purifoy, the fifth son of 
John Purifoy, chose this homesite and began construction around 1841. 
He wed Nancy Thigpen in the Spring of 1841, and the newly married 
couple moved in just before the birth of their son John in 1842. Nancy 
gave birth to three more sons before her death in July 1846, with the 
youngest son being only a few months old. Frank married Penelope 
Moore a few months later, and they had four sons together. Frank died in 
1858 at the age of 40 years. Penelope sold the home and 822 acres of 
land to Frank’s youngest sister Patience Caroline and her husband John 
Allen Lee in 1859. .Reverend Lee died in 1863, and Patience and the 
11children continued to live in the house until she sold it and 160 acres to 
Lizzie Cox in 1887. Several families owned the home until the Carlins 
purchased it. The home is now owned by bill and Cindy McCoy. 
15. Cox-Robbins-Kennedy Home – This one-story frame end gabled 
Greek Revival house features double front doors with sidelights and 
transom, nine-over-nine sash windows, front pedimented portioco type 
porch over central bay piers r4esting on wooden plank porch floor, and 
stuccoed brick chimneys. This house is one of five double pile central 
passage end gabled houses in Furman, and is believed to be the oldest, 
having been constructed circa 1855. This home is currently owned by 
Elton and Anne Kennedy. 

16. Old Snow Hill Cemetery -Many of the founders of Furman - the 
Gulleys, McCondichies, Purifoys, etc. -are buried in this cemetery 
located on the original Furman town site - a high hill located north of 
present-day Furman. The builders and original owners of many of the 
buildings on tour today rest on this picturesque hill, with the earliest 
recorded burial being 1825. As noted on the map, turn right on the 
county gravel road across the highway from “Patience Plantation” and 
follow the signs to get to this site. 

17. Purifoy Cemetery -This was the family cemetery of the Purifoy 
family. Their home was located directly across the road, and was moved 
to Pine Apple in 1935. As noted earlier, John Purifoy served in the 
Confederate Army with distinction. Subsequently, he was Judge of 
Probate for Wilcox County , State Auditor, State Treasurer, and 
Secretary of State.