Home | What's New | Search | Email me

Lycurgus Breckinridge Musgrove...

Lycurgus Breckinridge Musgrove

MUSGROVE DID MORE FOR COUNTY THAN MANY KNOW

Submitted by Willie Barton    Jan-2005

 from 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 prepare them. 
    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 members. 
    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 retinue.
    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