Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill 

Alabama’s newly released bicentennial book, benefitting fourth-grade students, features a strong Houston County presence.

With over 400 profiles, trivia questions, and did-you-know sections, “Alabama: The Bicentennial” tells the story of Alabama through the people, places, events, inventions, and accomplishments that have defined its rich history.

The book can be ordered online at Alabama200Book.com, and will soon be available in bookstores across the state.

The authors, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and newspaper editor Tom Ward, spent over two years creating this unique book in Alabama’s literary history.

Readers will enjoy the role of Houston County, including the prominent attorney and former national championship quarterback Steadman Shealy. After leading the University of Alabama to the 1979 national title, Shealy became an attorney and coveted public speaker.

After playing high school basketball in Dothan Artis Gilmore averaged a whopping 22 rebounds per game at Jacksonville University. Almost 50 years later, that record still stands. Gilmore later became one of the best players in the American Basketball Association and then in the National Basketball Association.

Before becoming Hollywood movie star, Johnny Mack Brown grew up in a shopkeeper’s home in Dothan. While starring for the University of Alabama football team, Brown led the Crimson Tide to the 1926 Rose Bowl and personally brought credibility to football in the Deep South.

Dothan’s Sam Byrd became a PGA professional golfer after playing baseball for the New York Yankees. In 1944, the Yankees’ outfield sported three Alabamians: Byrd, Dixie Walker, and Ben Chapman. Another Dothan native, Gardner Dickson, won nine PGA tournaments after already winning over three dozen amateur events. Richmond Flowers became one of the great modern track athletes, as well as speedy football wide receiver for the University of Tennessee and later for the Dallas Cowboys. Flowers was a four-time All-American in track and field, and a two-time All-American in football at Tennessee.

An exploding plane killed passengers and burned most of Charles Woods’ body, but the war hero from Houston and Henry counties became a self-made multimillionaire, and innovative broadcasting executive, and even a presidential candidate.

“Alabama: The Bicentennial” sheds light onto many surprisingly important people and inventions from the state, such as Greene County native Mary Anderson, who invented the windshield wiper. The countless people who use wikipedia.com might not know that it was founded by Huntsville’s own Jimmy Wales.

Seventy-five percent of book proceeds will be directed to the Friends of the Alabama Archives, a non-profit auxiliary to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The Friends organization will use the funds to sponsor fourth-grade field trips to the Archives by schools that otherwise lack financial resources for the trip. Secretary Merrill has not and will not receive compensation in any form.

Every school in Alabama that has a fourth-grade classroom will receive a complimentary copy.

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