My name is Philip Campbell and I am going to tell you my story. Before I begin, I need to describe the little community where I grew up. In many ways, it was quite unique, and remains so to this day.
Campbell Crossing was a very small community on Sand Mountain in the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range. In fact, Sand Mountain has the honor of being the coolest place in the entire state although that doesn’t mean much in August. Who would notice a degree or two in such heat?
Our little town is located in the corner of northeastern Alabama in the area where Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama come together. Its beautiful country and it will always have a place in my heart.
Campbell Crossing’s history goes way back to the time when that whole part of southern Appalachia was in dispute by the Cherokee and Creek Indian tribes. Pretty soon, they were all driven out by white settlers from nearby states who settled in that fertile land with abundant rivers and streams.
Farming was the major source of income but slavery was never an issue even before the Civil War. Everyone was poor and worked the land with their own hands and the hands of their family members. No one could afford a slave even if they wanted one.
By the time World War II broke out, Campbell Crossing was an incorporated town that covered just about one square mile and had a generously estimated population of a little more than five hundred people, but, that total included quite a bit of the unincorporated surrounding area and probably a few cows and chickens.
Everyone knew each other and each other’s’ business. There were no blacks, no Jews, no Catholics, no Mexicans, no Chinese and only one ill-tempered redhead in the town. There was one Methodist church and one Baptist church. Nothing else.
We Methodists thought that we were a slight step above the Baptists as the first Methodist church had been established before the Civil War even started. The newcomer Baptists started their church somewhat later but soon grew in membership until there were as many of them as there were of us. That was somewhat of an embarrassment, but we retained our Christian attitude and lived without malice.
Every once in a while the Baptist preacher or the Methodist minister would get fired up and preach a sermon about how everyone else was condemned to everlasting hell. It probably had to do with who got more from the offering plate the week before. Afterwards, mothers always admonished their sons and daughters about the ruinous decision to “marry outside the faith.” I always wondered how God could like one denomination better than another. Just didn’t make sense to me. But then, it was a long time ago.
Outwardly, our town seemed simple and uncomplicated, peaceful and calm. However, underneath were hidden sins and secrets. People hid things from each other and from themselves. During that hot summer of 1944, the course of my life changed. I would be set on pathways that I never could have imagined.
Until that summer, I believed that life would be easy. I was very, very wrong.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish