DID MORE FOR COUNTY THAN MANY KNOW
by Willie Barton
an article by Martha Pennington in the Daily Mountain Eagle
A large stone marking the
final resting place of Lycurgus Breckinridge Musgrove in Oak
Hill Cemetery is not the real testimonial of the input his
life had on Walker County.
He gave the land for three
churches in Jasper; First Methodist, Presbyterian and
Episcopal. The gleaming white marble facade of the Methodist
church is due to this man. He was on a building committee
that had chosen red brick for the church, and Musgrove
insisted that it be lasting marble and gave the extra money
to do so. He also gave the stained-glass dome in memory of
his mother, Elizabeth Cain Musgrove. Spared in the 1974
tornado, the blue angels and cherubs continue to inspire the
congregation. There is a protective sheath around the dome,
and although the daylight appears to come through the glass,
it is due to electric bulbs.
Jasper lore has it that he
also gave the land where Walker High School is located. A
beautiful fountain in the hallway of the old school was also
given as a memorial to his mother.
Although the colonel was
always welcome at the home of his sister, 'Miss Zue' - Mrs.
J. B. Long, he wanted his own home to entertain guests from
throughout the nation. So he built Musgrove Country Club and
used it as a lodge.
An article in the Feb. 16,
1967 edition of the Daily Mountain Eagle describes the
history of the club, republished as it appeared then:
No history of the club
could be complete without a tribute to the one man who made
the club possible in the first place and a bit of insight
shed on his life. The reason for the building of the club in
the first place was that Col. L. B. Musgrove, a bachelor,
needed a place to entertain and duly impress his business
associates and friends.
Mr. Winfred Sandlin of the
Walker College faculty has researched his life and has
presented to the local library a paper entitled: Lycurgus
Breckinridge Musgorve, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist,
Political Prohibitionist, 1859-1931.
Interesting of note is the
fact that his grandfather, Edward Musgrove gave the land for
the establishment of the city of Jasper in exchange for it
being named the county seat. To his father, the Colonel owed
his striking physical appearance and competing spirit. From
his mother, Elizabeth Cain Musgrove, he inherited a
philanthropic spirit and a devotion to the Democratic party.
In 1878, the railroad
companies began to purchase valuable mineral lands in the
vicinity of Jasper. Being convinced that the landowners were
selling out far too low, Col Musgrove purchased the Mountain
Eagle from Judge F. A. Gamble in order to wage a relentless
campaign against the railroads.
Trading around, he finally
organized the Jasper Land Company around 1880, which
comprised some 4,000 acres. In '83 he opened mines in Corona
and Patton, the beginning of the modern coal mining in
Walker County. He was able to buy mines on the 'commissary
plan' payable at $50,000 per year and before long, he was
the affluent citizen of the town.
During those years, he
lived at the Jasper Inn when in town. The late Miss Clara
Norvell (Miss Tennie O'Rear's aunt) was his secretary, and
Ruth Long also lived at the Inn with Judge E. W. His niece,
Gay, was Ruth's brother's first wife - Judge Ernest Lacy.
She well remembers trips to New Orleans with them where on
arrival he would give all of his 'girls' a substantial sum
of money to spend and put them up at the best hotel. He was
off to Baton Rouge in the interest of the Prohibitionist
Party, of which he was an ardent supporter. The Col. had a
suite at the Waldorf Astora. On one occasion he entertained
his cosmopolitan friends with a possum supper at the
Marlborough. The menu? Birmingham toddy, Musgrove candied
yams, Alabama black beans and vintage champagne. 10 possums
left Alabama for New York. He took his cook up to properly
He was a strong supporter
of Richard Person Hopson, hence the political enemy of the
Bankheads. However, he was not antagnostic to them
personally. He ran on the Prohibitionish ticket himself but
was never elected to public office.
Interesting to note is
that the donor of the land and the beautiful dome of the
Methodist church was not a member. He had been turned out
'for attending a dance which was not in accordance with
church doctrine'. He never rejoined but continued to attend
and support the church. When the present edifice was began,
plans called for bricks. However, he gave the difference for
the Georgia marble. The dome was made in Kansas City and
cost $10,000 in that day. It was given in memory of his
mother, who died in 1917. He delighted in filling the church
with lillies every Easter.
He also gave land for the
High school. And anybody around the county who wanted to
build a church could safely do so, knowing the Colonel would
put the roof on.
He was a member of the
Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama for 40 years
although he never graduated from any college. He at one time
gave $50,000 to a building fund.
In 1924, the Deepwater
Coal Company was organized, most of the stockholders coming
from New York. They had five hundred thousand acres in coal
and iron lands in Walker, Winston, Calhoun and Jefferson
Counties. Daulphin Lsland was a proposed port facility.
He spent the last three
years of his life mostly in the ome of his sister, Mrs. J.
B. Long (Miss Zue) the home where her daughter-in-law, Mrs.
Stella Long, now resides. This man, who had been so generous
with his money and who left lasting monuments to his memory
in granite and stained glass and land, died impoverished.
But even in that state, he was a benefactor to Walker County
citizens, for it became possible for a group of citizens to
buy his 'county estate'. And the Musgrove Country club, once
the play-time place of the very rich, is now the
recreational spot for some 275 resident and non-resident
Local attorney Charles
Tweedy Jr. recalls camping at the club with his good friend,
John Whit Long Sr., during it's construction. They slept in
tents and acted as caretakers.
The colonel liked to help
his fellow man. Undoubtedly he would be pleased over the
happiness his 'lodge' has given to so many additional nine
holes of golf and several tennis courts.
How did the financier lose
his money since he seemed to have somewhat weathered the
Depression of 1929? A consortium of Eastern and English
businessmen forced him to the wall in all probability. But
there is a bit of lore that brings a more romantic approach
to the question.
Queen Marie of Romania
came to the United States and was highly entertained. L&N
Railway Co, President J. B. Hill invited her to take a
cross-country tour on his private railway car. Musgrove was
among the invited guests to accompany the queen and her
The talk was that Hill
became jealous of Musgrove, who in truth was a dashing
bachelor. He became his bitter business opponent, setting up
a coalition to ruin Musgrove financially.
Local relatives John Whit
Long Jr, Bud Long and their sister, Kit Long Dunlap, grew up
in the old Long home (recently destroyed by fire). Bud Long
had no comment on the subject but says that it was always
family talk that it was the queen's daughter who was
involved - not the queen.
No longer belonging to the
Holding Co, Musgrove County Club is now a private club