Montevallo Chamber hears Bicentennial ambassador Seales

Published 9:05 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

By NANCY WILSTACH / Special to the Reporter

MONTEVALLO – Bobby Joe Seales brought a look into the past to the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Seales, an ambassador for the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, is the go-to authority on Shelby County history, as well as the author of a number of books that use photographs and narrative to bring alive the past of areas such as Pelham and Siluria/Alabaster.

The retired director of the Shelby County Museum, Seales also can boast a kinship with one of the area’s first citizens.  Revolutionary War veteran David Lindsay, buried in Helena, “was my fourth great-grandfather,” Seales told the luncheon crowd in Parnell Memorial Library.

Then Seales indicated State Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield, who was seated at a table nearby and said that Lindsay also was one of Weaver’s ancestors. Because of a relationship to someone who lived here before Alabama became the 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819, Seales (and Weaver) are part of the Order of the First Families of the Alabama Territory.

Seales spoke to the chamber crowd about the state’s plans to celebrate its 200th birthday—a celebration that is well under way—starting in 2017 with the theme “Exploring Our Places.”  Now, in 2018, he said the celebration is focusing on “Honoring Our People.”  The third and final year of the celebration, 2019, will be “Telling Our Stories.”

He praised Montevallo’s work on its own bicentennial, a celebration that coincided with the completion of the city’s Main Street project. The state bicentennial commission is holding one of its four annual meetings in Montevallo at Parnell Library at 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, Seales said.

Seales touted a book available on the Bicentennial website ( called “PastPort” that highlights historical journeys around the state that give residents an opportunity to experience aspects of the state’s past in each of the 67 counties.

Before Seales’s remarks, State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, spoke briefly about legislative affairs, emphasizing that lack of adequate mental health care “is the number one issue driving people into the prison system.”

Ward, the legislative leader for prison reform, noted that some legislative reform would help with that issue. “There are so many barriers” to released prisoners’ fitting back into society, he said.  “There are 783 places in the state code” forbidding ex-convicts from holding certain jobs or working in certain places, he said.

At the close of the meeting, Seales distributed bicentennial flags to Mayor Hollie Cost, Fire Chief Bill Reid and The American Village.