We were now officially off the beaten path, passing signs for establishments like the Paradise Mission Full Gospel Church in Goodwater and the Hopeful Church of Christ, founded in 1878. Zoning does not exist out here, so a red brick McMansion with huge white columns and a concrete nymph fountain might sit right next to a rickety cabin fronted by a rotting porch full of recliners or a fading blue mobile home with a broken down, rusted out Chevy in the gravel driveway.
I’ve always been a sucker for historical markers—a habit shared by my late husband Barney, so the first one I spotted, I whizzed past, then slowed down, made a U-turn and went back to see what was being historically marked. In the middle of the pull-off area was a flat, rather new, polished granite grave marker atop a raised bed of white pebbles. The Clay County historical society had erected the monument a few years ago, over the grave of a baby girl buried there while her family was traveling west in 1860. That was all the information given, but even after more than a century and a half, I felt sorry for that poor family having to bury a newborn by the side of the road. Were they originally Alabamians or just folks passing through from somewhere farther east when their daughter died? And why were they passing through in 1860?