Dr. Bronner now acts like he thought up the park for the “six unsung heroes”, but that is not quite the truth. The six-honoree concept came very late in the process and, as you already know, only after a number of other approaches were considered and discarded.
After much struggle with the issue, someone finally suggested that we search out one outstanding individual from each of the first six historic eras and declare them to be an “unsung hero”. The concept was a fit. The seventh era had not yet occurred and thus could not have an honoree. From the tabulation inserted below you can see the various names we considered for each era and the final selection.
We leaned heavily on Mary Ann Neeley to help with the nominations and with the final selection. She brought a practical, down-to-earth application of her vast knowledge of local history. At Bill Pearson’s suggestion, I also involved Ed Bridges, personable Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, but found that he was a transplanted Yankee with a terrible, politically unacceptable bias. Bridges strongly recommended that we honor some half-breed Indian-Negro-Frenchman from Wetumpka for the Exploration-Settlement Era. Then when I mentioned that Neeley and I were considering William Lowndes Yancey for the Civil War Ear, Bridges fairly exploded. “You cannot honor that hot-head Yancey who virtually brought on that terrible Civil War!” he shrieked. “President Lincoln himself said that William Yancey of Montgomery and the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe were the two who stirred up everybody and started the damn thing!” Bridges continued.
I repeated my Bridges conversation to Mary Ann Neeley and we decided to back down on our choice of Yancey, but we just could not swallow the half-breed suggestion. A Bridges endorsement would certainly lend credence to our list, but his choices were too high a price to pay.
-Charles Humphries (“Peril and Intrigue Within Architecture”)