This year begins a three-year celebration of the upcoming Alabama Bicentennial in 2019. For three years, we will celebrate Alabama Places (2017), Alabama People (2018), and Alabama Stories (2019). To help celebrate, we have written several blog posts about several different locations on our North Alabama Geocaching Passport. The passport can be found at Happy reading and hunting for those geocaches!

“Oho! Winston secedes! The Free State of Winston!” rang across the valleys and hills of Winston County as talk of secession heated up. Many southerners envisioned a Solid South leaving the Union after Abraham Lincoln’s victory in late 1860 and the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861. They were wrong. For hundreds of thousands of southerners the decision to support the Confederacy was not an easy one.

Folks in Winston County, like many in eastern Tennessee and western Virginia, struggled with a deeply personal decision. These people had never benefited from living in an area that could support large plantations and slavery. For them, hard, backbreaking work on small dirt farms became their reality. Although Winston County never seceded from the Confederacy, it remained a Unionist stronghold in the middle of Dixie.

As you stand in downtown Double Springs looking at the Courthouse and the Dual Destiny Statue think about how decisions you make influence your life. Now put yourself in 1861 and imagine if you remained loyal to the Union with secessionist family, friends, and neighbors nearby. Would it be safe to plow your field without someone taking a shot at you? Could you shop at the local general store without people mumbling under their breath or casting suspicious looks? For the next four years this would be your fate.

The Dual Destiny statue in Double Springs is a reminder that all southerners did not think alike and that both sides had to endure brutal wartime conditions. Constant fear of violence marked life in nineteenth-century Winston County. As you read the plaque on the monument think about how one decision could be the difference between life and death. What cause do you feel that strongly about?