Mary Biggs: Lottie's reporter, teacher, volunteer
By By Arthur McLean Managing Editor
Mary (Smith) Biggs, a former community news correspondent for The Atmore Advance, will celebrate her 96th birthday, Sunday, January 18, 2004. Mrs. Biggs, a resident of the Lottie community, wrote a weekly column entitled "The Lottie News" for The Atmore Advance for over fifty years.
Shaped by the Great Depression, and possessed with a passion for education, Biggs, taught school in Escambia and Baldwin Counties for nearly 20 years.
Mrs. Biggs is a retired schoolteacher who taught in the public schools in both Baldwin and Escambia Counties. In Escambia County, she taught at Freemanville, Huxford and Poarch Schools. In Baldwin County, she taught at Langham-Lottie, Perdido, Rabun, and Whitehouse Fork Schools.
Following her retirement in 1978, she taught kindergarten one year at the First United Methodist Church of Atmore and for a number of years she volunteered as a member of the Hospital Auxiliary for the Atmore Community Hospital.
From 1980 to 1995, Mrs. Biggs donated more than 1,300 hours of her time in volunteer service to Atmore Community Hospital.
Mrs. Biggs was active in her church, the Lottie United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir and holding various volunteer positions, until health forced her to scale back her activities. The Lottie UMC Choir visited Biggs in her home after church to perform for her as a sign of appreciation for her years of service.
Biggs and her late husband, Henry, have five children: Charles Biggs of Pensacola, Benny Biggs of Lottie, Derwood Biggs of Stapleton, Ann Biggs-Williams of Brewton and the late John Leon Biggs. Mrs. Biggs has seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Mrs. Biggs was born in 1908 in Morriston, Alabama, near Perdido. The family moved closer to Perdido, but she still walked a mile and a half to go to school there. During their early years, her parents, Williams (Doc) Smith and Clara (Evie) Levins Smith moved from Perdido to Lottie. Doc Smith held various jobs in the timber field such as saw filer and Evie Smith was a homemaker.
Henry and Mary moved to Mobile to find work during the depression. Mary lived with her aunt and uncle, Raymond and Laura Denton and worked in Guirl's Grocery in Prichard for $5 a week.
Henry and Mary married on February 27, 1931 in Mobile. They returned to Lottie after the birth of their son, John Biggs in 1832. They began tenant farming with George Prestwood until they purchased their own land. In 1939, they bought land from Henry's Father. That land is still being farmed today by their son, Benny Biggs.