It is a special place. A place where you can go to get away from the bustle and hustle of everyday life and simply relax. You can also dive headfirst into history, as Janney Furnace is a historical location.
In 1863, A man by the man of Alfred A. Janney purchased a parcel of land from William Griffin. The land was rich with iron. Mr. Janney speculated on building a furnace, which would be within a few miles of the Coosa River. The vision was intact, but Mr. Janney was in need of skilled workers. An act of fate would provide him with masons.
Dr. Smith, along with two hundred of his skilled slaves, fled the Federal forces in Tennessee.. They left the fighting in an attempt to find a place of refuge. When they arrived in the area around Ohatchee, he contacted Mr. Janney regarding the use of the slaves in building a furnace.
Mr. Janney welcomed the laborer’s expertise and they began building the furnace. The following is a quote regarding the building of the furnace.
“First a portion of the hill was cut away and a retaining wall built. Behind that and even with the top of the stack another plot was leveled off to serve as a stocking yard. Hugh stones, many of which weighed more than a ton, were slowly shaped by hand and put into place. The stack stood 50’ high and measured 11’ across the bosh. On the east side of the furnace a reservoir was built into which water was pumped from a creek. Between the furnace and the reservoir was a bank, 25’ by 30’high, on which was the foundation for the blowing engines and probably the boilers. All such machinery was made by Janney and his foundry and shipped up the Coosa River to a landing close by.”
Progress went well but soon the war came to Calhoun County. On July 14, 1864, Major General Lovell Rousseau, with twenty-three hundred cavalry had a victory over Confederate Brigadier James Clanton at Ten Islands Ford.
Rousseau’s next objective was the Cane Creek Iron Work and Janney Furnace. A detail under the command of Federal Officer Captain Ed Ruger was dispatched to destroy the furnaces. Cane Creek Iron Works was obliterated, but somehow only the chimney of Janney Furnace was damaged. The furnace was not restored, but rather was used as a storage area for Confederate items.
Such was the setting of the memorial service held on May 24-27, 2019.
The weekend’s events included Officer’s call, morning raid (Kickoff skirmish), Memorial service at the world’s largest black granite Confederate Memorial, and tribute to the work by the slaves in building the furnace. Representation from Native Americans, Knights Templars, Revolutionary War, Union and Confederate soldiers, World War II and ladies in period attire honored the memory of ALL who served in the making American history. Thomas Norton, Director of the Janney Furnace Museum, welcomed those in attendance. David Chaltas, in the persona of General Lee, offered the invocation. Mr. Norton introduced his daughter who performed a moving and inspirational rendition of our national anthem. A twenty-one-gun salute was offered and all went away with a renewed pride in the American legacy.
Prior to the battle, the Knight Templar’s tent discussed their roll in history. Native Americans presented their wares and talked to the audience. Peter, The Patriot (Peter Leavitt) offered a rousing speech regarding the freedoms we have and the sacrifices of so many to establish and preserve them. General Lee offered an oratory of his decision to follow Virginia and resign from the Federal army after serving for thirty-six years.
The battle began with a skirmish followed by artillery engaging. The fighting was intense in the afternoon heat. A salute to America was offered and once again those present were privy to Miss Norton’s singing. Sunday’s events included much of the above along with church service in the large barn.
For more information about forthcoming events, go to the following link or call (256-892-5198). Janney Furnace, grounds, Museum of Confederate and Native American artifacts and Confederate Memorial is located at 145 Janney Road, Ohatchee, AL, 36271. Join them on Facebook.