Leaving a legacy: County celebrates 100 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Shelby County commemorated the 100-year anniversary of its courthouse Saturday in a celebration laden with county history and Masonic ritual.

Hundreds of visitors surrounded the northeast corner of the courthouse in downtown Columbiana as a glass time capsule was placed inside the building&8217;s cornerstone.

Down the street, at the site of the old courthouse and present-day home of the Shelby County Historical Society, lay on display the original contents of the cornerstone, placed in a copper box by Probate Judge A.P. Longshore and members of the Masonic Lodge in 1906.

Saturday&8217;s ceremony began with speech by Longshore&8217;s present-day counterpart, Patricia Fuhrmeister.

&8220;One hundred years ago, Shelby County was a much different place,&8221; Fuhrmeister said. &8220;We come today to honor Shelby County&8217;s past, to recognize its present accomplishments and to lay the groundwork for its future.&8221;

Fuhrmeister presented a Holy Bible to be laid in the capsule, which was also packed with Masonic documents presented by Grand Treasurer H. Spencer Stewart.

Bobby Joe Seales, president of the Shelby County Historical Society, presented a collection of contemporary coins, a George W. Bush bronze medal and a souvenir postcard commemorating the 100-year celebration and cornerstone ceremony.

Two editions of the Shelby County Reporter were placed in the capsule including a special edition dated June 24 as well as the June 21 regular edition. Both newspapers were presented for deposit by Tim Prince, editor and publisher of the Reporter.

Shelby County Commission chairperson Lindsey Allison presented a copy of the Shelby County Quality of Life Publication along with a commission proclamation.

Fuhrmeister pointed to the roles of Allison and herself as evidence of how far Shelby County has come since the cornerstone was originally laid.

&8220;One hundred years ago, no one would have predicted that today, the chair of the Shelby County Commission would be a woman, and so would the probate judge,&8221; Fuhrmeister said. &8220;What changes must the future hold?&8221;

The contents of the original time capsule – including a Bible, Masonic manual, and copies of the Columbiana Sentinel, Birmingham News and Stone Cutters Journal – remain on display at the Shelby County Historical Society.

&8220;Our predecessors did more than lay a physical cornerstone 100 years ago,&8221; Furhmeister said. &8220;In a more profound sense, they laid the symbolic cornerstone for Shelby County&8217;s future. It falls to us now, to protect and preserve that cornerstone for generations to come.&8221;