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Out with a bang

By By Paul Keane
Publisher
A gun originally used in the first days of law enforcement in Atmore has returned home.
The .32-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun used by Alfred "Ab" Lee when he served as Atmore's first City Marshall from 1907-1910 has been donated back to the City. Ruby Kenaston and Hattie Livingston, both granddaughters of Lee, made the presentation Friday to Public Safety Director Glenn Carlee. Sarah Skelton, who still lives in Atmore, is the great-granddaughter of Lee and also attended the presentation.
"It's a very nice gesture on the part of the family to present this to the City," Carlee said. "We plan to build a special display case and put it up in the Police Department, along with a plaque explaining the importance of the gun to the history of Atmore."
"We felt like it was the thing to do," Kenaston said. "A few years ago, we told the Mayor (Howard Shell) that we had located the gun, but we weren't ready to part with it then. But since it has its roots here in Atmore, and we still have roots here, we just felt it was right and that it was time to give it to the City."
When the gun was found, it still had five bullets inside it, but not a "live round." The belief was in those days that a dropped gun with a "live round" (one underneath the hammer) might accidentally shoot and cause injury. The bullets were presented to Carlee in a special purse that was used to carry bullets in at the turn of the century.
Kenaston and Livingston both said the gun holds special memories for the family, despite the fact that Lee did not use it after giving up his post as City Marshall in 1910. About eight years ago, while cleaning out their mother's home, the gun was located.
"Growing up, we really never heard any tales about the gun," Livingston said. "We did hear a lot of tales about when our grandfather was the marshall, though."
One of those tales involved training bloodhounds that Lee owned. While rarely using them in manhunts, he was afraid the dogs would lose their ability to track a human being. With that in mind, he would regularly gather up the dogs and bring them to the family home located at the corner of Church and Presley.
Once there, he would get his children to run through the woods and hide in trees. He would then set the dogs loose, allowing them to track his children so their tracking abilities remained sharp.
"We were also told that he was nearly impeached at one time," Livingston said. "During his tenure as marshall, he owned a barber shop, a grocery store and part interest in a pool hall. Many of the people felt it was inappropriate for a marshall to have ownership in a pool hall, and they raised a fuss about it. He eventually sold his interest in the pool hall."
Both women said Lee was fair and even-handed in meting out justice in Atmore.
"My grandmother had several brothers who were just wild," Livingston said. "They went off to Texas to work in the oil fields out there.
"One time, they came back to visit and there was an ordinance that said you couldn't ride horses through town. That's one of the reasons we had a hitching post at our house.
"Well, the brothers came through and rode their horses through town, just being wild as could be. Grandfather felt that the law applied to everyone, and he arrested them and locked them up.
"Our grandmother wasn't too happy about that when she found out."