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Historical homestead will educate for generations

The barn at the Corbin Homestead on a fall day.

The Corbin Homestead near Joppa, Ala., is frozen in time, not re-created but preserved. Inside is a museum of a way of life no longer common in the South.

Randy Humphries, great-grandson of Thomas M. and Ella Wiley Corbin, has meticulously maintained the Homestead as it would have been circa 1925, complete with period-correct furnishings.

Flowers grow in the yard. An aura of long-standing human habitation imbues the place with life and peace. The farm maintains a herd of cattle and grows hay to feed them.

Randy heads a successful tractor parts supply business next to the Corbin Homestead.  The second floor of his large office building is filled with museum-quality displays about his ancestors. His wife, Susie Humphries, taught biology and chemistry in the Albertville City School System and retired from teaching at Snead State Community College.

Randy’s grandmother, Cressie, was the fourth of 10 Corbin children. Cressie attended college and taught briefly at Welcome Public School near Joppa. She was teaching in Birmingham when she met and married James Alfred Douglas Ferguson, a New Yorker and Master Mason.  Their daughter, Anne, was born in the Corbin farmhouse on April 20, 1930.

James was older, a man of the world, and not willing to make a life in Joppa.  He lived and worked in Birmingham while Cressie and Anne stayed with the Corbins.

Randy says, “When my mother, Anne, was 18 months old, James came to Joppa intent on taking Cressie and the baby with him to New York. But Cressie refused to go. James took off in a hurry and ran the car into a ditch, so angry that he just left it there. I’ve never been able to find out what happened to that car.”

Cressie worked in the house and fields of the Homestead and raised her beautiful daughter.  She never saw James again and never kept company with another man. She learned that James had previously been married and had a son. Cressie also never taught school again; it would have been unseemly for a woman in her situation to do so.

With 10 children in line to inherit, how did the Corbin Homestead come down to Randy intact? Ella died in 1953 and Tom died in 1958 after years of being lovingly cared for by Cressie. Cressie’s siblings gave her the home place in recognition of that care.

In 1950, Anne married Miles Humphries, a marriage that lasted 61 years. Anne inherited the place when Cressie died in 1973; Randy received the Homestead in the estate settlement upon Anne’s death in 2012.

A land for four generations

He is passionate about his heritage. “It would be impossible to set a price on the property.  Four generations of our family have worked, walked on, and enjoyed our land. It has been like a dear friend, always there to comfort, heal, and provide us a livelihood.”

The Alabama Historical Commission designated the Corbin Homestead a significant landmark in 1999. The farmhouse was built in 1894 on an 80-acre homestead (later expanded to 120 acres) in the northeast corner of Cullman County. Other structures include a barn, buggy shed, corn crib, cotton house, well shed, outhouse, henhouse and a rock fence.

The farming operation included growing cotton, corn, peanuts, peas, and sorghum cane; a large peach and apple orchard; and maintenance of cattle, mules, hogs and yard chickens.

Thomas Corbin, Randy’s great-grandfather, was a self-taught veterinarian and practiced veterinary medicine from 1902 to 1950. Eight of his and Ella’s children attended college, establishing education as an important goal for future generations. They attended Joppa Normal and Collegiate Institute through junior high, then transferred to Cullman High School and boarded with local families. The American Missionary Association arranged for some of the children to attend Wheaton College in Illinois.

Randy and Susie plans to teach youngsters history and the chemical processes used by the Corbins when, for example, they made lye soap, smoked pork in the smokehouse, or canned vegetables that were harvested from the garden.

Plans are to develop educational programs involving nature trails on the property for studying botany, geology and ecology. These programs will target topics appropriate for specific age groups and coordinate with the students’ established study plans.

People who come to the Corbin Homestead will see and hear about the artifacts and buildings, learn details about their lifestyle, watch the cattle in the pasture and walk the nature trails.  Randy says his purpose is to help others “celebrate our cultural and natural heritage and to appreciate and understand our past and how it has shaped our lives.”n

Going solo: Find adventure, friends and fun when traveling alone

A Santiago, Chile, tour guide takes the author’s picture with the city in the background.

By Marilyn Jones

I never thought I would travel alone, but as a single retired woman I soon realized if I was going to travel, I wasn’t always going to have a companion. In the last four years I’ve taken numerous road trips and traveled all over the world alone. This is what I learned along the way.


Whether you are in Alabama, somewhere else in the United States or traveling internationally, one of the best ways to get to know a location is on a tour. You’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. You are also surrounded by a group of other like-minded travelers and, especially in big cities and foreign countries, you are safer.

In a city, of course, your tour lasts a few hours and always a good idea in unfamiliar surroundings. But what I am referring to is a tour over several days or weeks. I have been on several tours all over the world. I always come back home with new friends, great memories and the desire to go again.

After deciding where you want to go, investigate. Check out several tour companies. Do you have friends who used a specific tour company? There are also usually customer reviews. This is a good indicator of many aspects of a tour — good and bad. Compare price points. Does the tour include air? What is the activity level? How many people on the tour? Smaller is better.

You can find all this out on the internet or at a travel agency.

The city of Mobile, Ala., officially returns to the cruising business with the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Fantasy on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (Mike Kittrell)

Take a cruise

Solo travelers will find the same advantages to taking a cruise as they do with an organized tour. Whether you pick a river, sea or adventure cruise, the destinations seem endless as you start checking out options. And a huge advantage is you only have to unpack once.

River cruises have never been more popular. Most of us are familiar with the paddlewheelers plying the Mississippi. Cruise lines not only travel the mighty Mississippi, but other American rivers and New England’s shore makings stops along the way.

The draw for river cruises all over the world – including Europe, Asia and Africa – is passengers get off the ship almost every day and many cruise lines include one shore excursion at each port built into the price. The organized tours offer a good basis for knowing where you want to explore on your own during the free time allotted in many ports-of-call.

The atmosphere is very relaxed and the number of passengers is a fraction of ocean going vessels (around 150). There are plenty of opportunities to meet other travelers during social hour and dinner.

Ocean cruising is different because there are typically several sea days, and tours and excursions are usually not included.

Many ocean cruise lines also offer meetings for single cruisers. On a recent cruise I met a young man from New Zealand this way and the two of us shared meals, on board activities such as movies and evening shows as well as excursions.

An adventure cruise combines the convenience of other types of cruises, fewer passengers and built-in excursions to places like Antarctica, Galapagos Islands and the Arctic, but they usually require a much higher level of fitness.

Guides are always willing to take photos and often volunteer, like on Easter Island.

Getting there

Before you take a road trip, make sure your car is in good working order or rent one. I have been on the road and had car trouble. It’s not only an interruption in your travel and itinerary, but can cause a safety issue.

Safety is always a concern, especially for women, if you choose to hit the road by yourself. Always keep to main roads and never drive at night. You’ll also want to arrive at your accommodations before dark.

Be aware of your surroundings. Eat dinner before the sun sets or get take-out to eat in the room. If at any time you feel unsafe, ask a hotel employee to accompany you to the room.

Flying is safer especially if you are meeting a tour company or cruise line at your destination. If a cruise line doesn’t offer complimentary pickup, pay their airport transportation fee. It is not only more convenient but safer, especially if you are traveling internationally.

Although it is common in other countries for people to speak English, try to learn a few words of greeting and thanks. It shows respect. In France, many will not speak English if you do not attempt to speak French especially in large cities like Paris. Then, miraculously, they will converse in English. There are also a lot of apps offering translations as well as the trusty pocket dictionary.

So if you want to travel, don’t wait for your friend or significant other; just figure out where you want to go and go. There’s so much to see and experience in this world!

Staycation takes on a whole new meaning in Alabama

From the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama residents are fortunate to have so many vacation options in their own backyard. The state offers historic locations, quiet little communities with treasures to be discovered, and outdoor activities as well as all the offerings of a big city.

Here are just a few destinations perfect for a day trip or overnight stay, no matter where you live in Alabama.

Northern Alabama

Russell Cave National Monument

Although Russell Cave is no longer open for tours because of the discovery of several rare species, there’s still plenty to explore. I enjoy meandering along the nature trail and photographing the flowers and dramatic landscape. There is also a back country trail. Both trails provide a view of Montague Mountain.

The park also offers a guided tour of a cave shelter once occupied by the prehistoric groups featuring a diorama depicting life during another time in Alabama history.

Russell Cave National Monument is located at 3729 County Road 98, Bridgeport; (256) 495-2672 x113.

DeSoto State Park

Like Russell Cave National Monument, DeSoto State Park on Lookout Mountain is the perfect setting for a family vacation and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. Famous for the beautiful DeSoto Falls, the park also features a nature center, ADA-accessible playground, and boardwalk trails as well as a restaurant, picnic area, lodge, motel, chalets, cabins and campground. This is another park where I enjoy hiking.

Add kayaking, fishing, hiking, cycling, rappelling, bouldering, picnicking and wildflower expeditions, and you have a vacation made for any outdoor enthusiast.

DeSoto State Park is located at 7104 DeSoto Parkway NE, Fort Payne; (256) 845-5380.


I am often drawn to history as well. Palisades Park near Oneota features several historic buildings including Murphree Cabin, built by Daniel Murphree in 1820; the Blackwood Log Cabin honoring the area’s Irish heritage; and Compton School, built in 1904. The park is also known for its hiking trails and rock climbing.

Oneonta also boasts two golf courses and its famous covered bridges. The Blount County Covered Bridge Festival in downtown Oneonta is held every October.

The city of Oneonta is located 35 miles northeast of Birmingham; (205) 274-2150.

Central Alabama

Moundville Archaeological Park

If you enjoy Native American history, visit Moundville, the second largest prehistoric archaeological site of its kind. Moundville represents the best preserved Mississippian Indian ceremonial mound center in North America.

In addition to seeing the mounds, guests are encouraged to visit the Jones Archaeological Museum. The museum features more than 200 artifacts with life-size figures displaying clothes and jewelry.

The prehistoric complex is located at 634 Mound State Parkway, Moundville; (205) 371-2234.

American Village

Another history lesson and certainly one to help children understand our nation’s beginnings is American Village. Founding fathers and those who defended America are commemorated in this beautiful and meaningful attraction. Here you will discover the journey for independence and self-government.

Highlights include Washington Hall, Colonial Courthouse, Colonial Chapel and a full-sized replica of the Oval Office. Special programs are held on major national holidays and draw thousands of visitors on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

American Village is located at 3727 Alabama 119, Montevallo; (205) 665-3535.

Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation, c. 1819

Just west of Marion is another excellent historic site. One of Alabama’s last active plantations, it has remained in the same family since the early 1800s. Most of the buildings are original to the site, although the house burned in 1927. Remaining buildings include a log seed house, carriage house, smoke house, chicken coop, blacksmith shop, weaving house, a two-story early Federal/Greek Revival style house and plantation store. Most date to the 1800s and many are filled with artifacts.

Historic papers, including a deed signed by Andrew Jackson, are on display in the Country Store.

Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation is located at 27360 Hwy 14, Marion; (334) 683-9955.


LaFayette may be small, with just more than 3,000 residents, but it has a lot to offer visitors. I started with a tour of the 1899 Chambers County Courthouse, continued over to the Chambers County Museum housed in the historical LaFayette train depot, and photographed the statue of boxing great Joe Louis, who was born in LaFayette. You might also like to spend the day fishing in the 180-acre Chambers County Lake stocked with bream, bass, crappie, catfish and carp.

After touring the town or enjoying a day of fishing, head for nearby Lanett, Valley or Opelika for a selection of accommodations.

LaFayette is 80 miles northeast of Montgomery; (334) 864-7181.

Southern Alabama

The Carver Museum

There are two George Washington Carver museums in Alabama — George W. Carver Museum in Tuskegee and G.W. Carver Interpretive Museum in Dothan. I so appreciate the contributions this agricultural genius brought to this nation.

I had been to the Tuskegee museum honoring the scientist for his contributions to the Tuskegee Institute, but I only recently learned about the Carver Museum featuring a Social Progress Heroes Timeline. Highlighted are the contributions African-Americans have made over the centuries that have helped make America great. The timeline is the culmination of two permanent exhibits: “Designing the World We Live In” and “Black Scientists, Inventors, and Explorers,” as well as the Carver Room dedicated to Dr. Carver.

The George Washington Carver Museum is located on the campus of Tuskegee Institute at 1212 West Montgomery Road. For information, visit The G.W. Carver Interpretive Museum is located at 305 North Foster Street, Dothan; (334) 712-0933.

Florala City Wetland Park

If you’re a birder or someone who loves nature, visit Florala City Wetland Park, part of the Alabama Birding Trails. The park provides a variety of ways to explore and enjoy the northern portion of 500-acre Lake Jackson. There are picnic tables and a picnic shelter, a campground, public beaches and paved walking trails as well as an elevated boardwalk through a cypress forest along the edge of the lake.

Visitors will be able to see cardinals, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, and downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Other year-round residents include great blue herons, great egrets and green herons. During warmer months a great variety of other birds call the park home including orchard orioles, yellow-throated warblers, painted buntings, common yellowthroats, white-eyed vireos, indigo buntings  and American redstarts, to name a few.

The park is located at 514 Lake Shore Drive, Florala; (334) 858-6425.

Alabama Shore

Magnolia Springs

Looking for romance? Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, housed in an 1898 mansion, is a great destination for a romantic getaway. According to Innkeeper David Worthington, guests are always impressed with the beauty of the inn.

After a three-course breakfast, Worthington says many guests decide to enjoy the relaxation the inn affords. Others venture out to see the sites including nearby Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. There are several local historic sites, golf courses and shopping opportunities as well.

Magnolia Springs B&B is located at 14469 Oak Street, Magnolia Springs; (251) 965-7321.

Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

The Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is a fantastic destination that hosts several free public events year-round. Twice a month, visitors can interact with lab experts on a wide range of topics including climate change, habitat restoration, salt marshes and sharks.

The Summer Excursion program allows visitors to see firsthand the habitats studied by marine scientists, researchers and students at the facility.

The facility is located at 102 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island; (251) 861-7500.

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

If you love white-sand beaches, golf, nature trails and water sports, deep sea and pier fishing, then Gulf Shores & Orange Beach is the right destination for you.

Add a dolphin cruise or maybe spend the day at the award-winning Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and you have a great weekend (or longer) getaway.

For more information call (800) 745-7263.

Start planning

Your best source to see all that Alabama has to offer is Alabama Tourism. For a free visitor’s guide call (334) 242-4169 or go to

Healthy Living: Telehealth – An answer to rural health care call

Telehealth (sometimes called telemedicine) is using telecommunications equipment to facilitate health care service from a distance.  This rapidly expanding technology holds much promise for access to health care throughout Alabama, especially in our rural areas.

There are three major types of telehealth services: store and forward, bio-monitoring and live interactive encounter with a provider.

An example of store and forward is when an image, such as an x-ray, is completed locally and evaluated by a specialist at a remote location, sometimes as far away as Australia or India.

An example of bio-monitoring is the monitoring of high-risk patients in their homes.  Special equipment is used to obtain selected vital signs on high-risk patients in their homes, including many with serious transportation limitations.  These vital signs are monitored by practitioners remotely to identify those who may need special attention.

Live interactive encounter with a provider involves the use of equipment with the patient and a care attendant, such as a nurse or social worker, at a local clinic and a care provider at a distant location.  The distant care provider can see and talk directly with the patient in real time.  There are numerous medical devices including stethoscopes, otoscopes, ultrasounds, examination cameras, etc. that can be used with telehealth equipment. This enables the distant care provider to conduct a thorough examination or provide specialty care not locally available.

The possibilities for telehealth technology to facilitate access to health care are unlimited and constantly expanding with technology.  Potential cost savings through early detection and lower transportation costs are encouraging.  Applications of telehealth such as telepharmacy, teledentistry, teletherapy, and teleprenatal care are being successfully practiced throughout the country.

The practice of telehealth has been implemented to a much greater extent in Georgia.  Telehealth care has been practiced in more than 40 different specialties and sub-specialties in that state.  In school-based clinics, telehealth allows visits with physicians for children who may not regularly have physician care.  Unnecessary transport of nursing home residents, sometimes by ambulance, is being avoided.

Telehealth technology is being adopted slowly in Alabama for two reasons: lack of universal broadband coverage and lack of reimbursement for the provision of telehealth services.  Medicare, the Alabama Medicaid Agency, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama only reimburse for some telehealth services.  Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi have passed legislation requiring that all private health insurers reimburse for telehealth service.

Despite the lack of comprehensive reimbursement, the use of telehealth is expanding in Alabama.  Alabama has telehealth programs for many services including primary care, psychiatry, AIDS/HIV, neurology, wound care, anesthesiology, dermatology, nephrology, cardiology, and mental health.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is serving as a leader in increasing awareness of the potential of telehealth by having telehealth clinics in 21 county health departments. By the end of this year there will be more than 40 operational telehealth sites at county health departments.

Telehealth offers an exciting and promising new source of access to health care throughout Alabama.  The poor health status of Alabamians should encourage faster acceptance and use of this promising technology to assure access to care for all.

Dale Quinney is executive director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, 1414 Elba Highway, Troy, 36081.

Social Security: Social Security supports National Cancer Survivors Day

In 2017, more than a million people will be diagnosed with cancer around the world. This alarming statistic affects people and families everywhere. Chances are, you know someone who has been affected by this terrible disease.

On June 4, we observe National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States. In support of this day, Social Security encourages getting checkups to provide early detection, raise awareness through education, and recognize the survivors who have gone through this battle or are still living with the disease.

Social Security stands strong in our support of the fight against cancer. We offer services to patients dealing with this disease through our disability insurance program and our Compassionate Allowances program. Compassionate Allowances are cases with medical conditions so severe they obviously meet Social Security’s disability standards, allowing us to process the cases quickly with minimal medical information. Many cancers are part of our Compassionate Allowances list.

There’s no special application or form you need to submit for Compassionate Allowances. Simply apply for disability benefits online, in-person or over the phone. Once we identify you as having a Compassionate Allowances condition, we’ll expedite your disability application.

Social Security establishes Compassionate Allowances conditions using information received at public outreach hearings, from our employees, who review millions of disability cases each year, from medical and scientific experts, and from data based on our research. For more information about Compassionate Allowances, including the list of eligible conditions, visit  Social Security is with you throughout life’s journey, through good times and bad. If you think you qualify for disability benefits based on a Compassionate Allowances condition, please visit to apply for benefits.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at