The Images of America series has released a new book on a topic that is near and dear to our hearts: Madison. The book, an illustrated history of Madison, is part of a series by Arcadia Publishing, which presents the histories of towns, cities, and communities around America through a collection of photographs in an attempt to preserve their local heritages.
Each book in the Images of America series is written by local authors. The new volume on Madison is no different. Marcia Brooks and Kittie Mayfield, natives of Morgan County and a mother and daughter pair, compiled scores of photographs from the Morgan County Archives and the Morgan County Library, among other sources, and arranged them into themed sections. The commentaries provided for each of the photographs highlight the important aspects of each subject of interest.
Marcia Brooks, one of the contributing authors of Madison, told me about her inspiration for the book. “Writing has always been my dream. I began writing as a child at Morgan County Primary School. I had published some poetry, and wanted to take it a step further and write a book.”
While browsing the internet, Brooks found Acadia Publishing’s website and decided to send them a proposal for a new addition to their Images of America series about Madison. Acadia Publishing solicits such proposals, and they decided to green-light the project.
Publisher Lee Scott asserts that Madison had always been an interest for the series, and, they feel that they, “found the right authors,” in Brooks and Mayfield.
Mayfield said that it took about a year to bring all of the information together, and, although she credits Brooks with most of the work involved, Brooks expresses her thanks to her mother, saying, “Her ability to network around town was instrumental in getting the information needed for the book.”
“We hope that everyone enjoys it. We love Madison,” said Mayfield after our interview.
The sheer amount of Madison history covered in the small volume is breathtaking. Some images evoke a feeling of the utmost importance, even if they are, superficially, mundane glimpses into the lives of some Madisonians.
The book is divided into five chapters, each of which offers an exciting view into several aspects of Madison’s history.
The first chapter is entitled “The People of Madison” and it delivers exactly what it promises, a look at some of the people that populated Madison over the last 150 years. The introduction to the section states that, “Most of the people in that chapter are not famous.” All the same, many of the people pictured here still mean a great deal to those of us who remember them or their legacies.
“Scenes About Town,” the second chapter, shows how downtown Madison has changed along the years. Along with the businesses that have come and gone along Madison’s main streets, we see how effects of two elements, fire and ice, have altered the face of downtown Madison. The fires in 1869, 1916, 1939, and 1966, as well as the icy snowstorm in February 1963 dramatically influenced the way Madison’s first business district developed. For instance, many of the brick buildings that stand along the square in Madison now were constructed after the fire of 1869 destroyed many of the older wooden buildings that stood in their places before.
“Churches, Monuments, and Tributes,” commemorates many of the areas and buildings in Madison, which reflect the older eras of Madison’s history. Events and landmarks, such as the dedication ceremony for Morgan County’s Spirit of the American Doughboy statue, the graves of the unidentified Confederate soldiers in the Madison Cemetery, and the 40th birthday of the Madison chapter of the Kiwanis Club, fill the pages of this chapter.
The history of Madison A&M and its development into the 1930s is the main focus on the penultimate chapter, “A Legacy of Education.” The book also describes how the Madison A&M building was later used for the site of the National Youth Organization and for the Morgan County High School.
The last section, “Madison’s Homes and Gardens,” serves as a reminder for why Madison has been celebrated as the “No.1 Small Town in America.” The stunning buildings and homes, which some of us pass casually on a daily basis, are particularly poignant in their black and white depictions.
Brooks and Mayfield did have some favorite images from the book, and their choices were ultimately decided by their personal ties and interests in Madison.
Brooks said, “The picture of Madison Police Officer Percy McAdams is especially poignant to her because I worked in law enforcement for many years and knew and/or worked with several law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty.”
Mayfield added “One of my very favorite ones was (sic) the old scenes of the bookmobile and the library pictures because I work in the library.”
Any Madisonians interested in the history of their beloved town will find a way to make room on their bookshelves and coffee tables for Images of America’s latest release: Madison. And it will be the perfect souvenir for visitors of Madison, who will find many memorable sights experienced in their visit already solidified and taken down between the covers of the book. Best of all, a copy of Madison in the hands of someone who has never had the pleasure to see one of the greatest small towns in America with their own eyes is sure to be enough to convince them that their next day trip or vacation will take them into the heart of Morgan County to find the glittering treasures they have to that point only seen in black and white.
Brooks would like to add a special thank you for Margaret Tyson, her second grade teacher at Morgan County Primary School, for recognizing and nurturing her writing abilites early on, and for Amy Bell, who taught her the mechanics of art and writing and to love and cherish books. Lastly, the authors would like to thank anyone who contributed pictures for inclusion in the book, thus making it possible.
Printed in the September 6. 2012 edition.