Heritage Families honored during opening of exhibit


ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — More than 400 descendants were honored as “Heritage Families” during opening ceremonies for the Making Alabama Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit on Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Baldwin County Coliseum.

“You win,” said Armand Dekeyser, executive director of the Alabama Humanities Foundation. “We have done 33 of these ceremonies throughout the state and this is the biggest turnout we have had so far.”

Thursday night’s opening ceremonies were hosted by the Baldwin County Commission, Department of Archives and History and the Baldwin County Bicentennial Steering Committee.

Following a welcome by Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy and invocation by Mayor Pro-Tem Joe Kitchens, colors were presented by the Robertsdale High School Naval Junior ROTC with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Bert Blackmon and National Anthem by Christine Eleogo.

Along with Dekeyser, opening remarks were also made by Baldwin County commissioners, District 3 representative Billy Joe Underwood and Commission Chairman Charles F. “Skip” Gruber, representing District 4; and County Administrator Ronald Cink, who oversees the county’s Archives department.

Baldwin County Archives Director Felisha Anderson and Historic Blakeley State Park Director Mike Bunn recognized nearly 200 descendants of Heritage Families (those who lived in Baldwin County prior to 1920) who were present for Thursday’s opening ceremonies, including 103-year-old Mary Williams Calhoun.

Descendants were greeted by Underwood, Gruber, Dekeyser and Alabama District 95 Rep. Steve McMillan and received an Alabama 200 pin, along with a Heritage Family pin from Cink. Heritage Family members also received certificates after the ceremony.

“First and foremost, it is the people who built Baldwin County,” Anderson said, “and we are proud to recognize these citizens whose ancestors were responsible for building Baldwin County.”

Light refreshments were also served following the ceremony.

Presented by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, with support from Alabama Department of Archives and History, Alabama Bicentennial Commission, corporate citizens, individuals and organizations across the state, the Making Alabama bicentennial traveling exhibit, billed as the signature contribution to Alabama’s three-year Bicentennial initiative, will travel to all 67 counties from March of 2018 through November 2019, leading up to the official 200 years of statehood date, Dec. 14, 2019.

The exhibit will be on display at the Coliseum, 19477 Fairground Road, Robertsdale, through Dec. 21. The exhibit will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with free admission and free parking.

For more information, contact the Department of Archives and History at 251-580-1897 or by email at archivalrecords@baldwincountyal.gov.