Dr. Eugene Allen Smith used the wagon, patterned after the pre-Civil War horse-drawn ambulance, to facilitate his summers surveying the state of Alabama’s geology. Renting a team of mules, he traveled some 20 miles a day along dirt roads, with his cook/driver, Jeff Jackson, and accompanied by one or more of his sons, and Robert Hodges, the Geological Survey’s chemist. Though “Geological Survey” was painted on the ambulance side, Smith was often mistaken for a medicine man, a peddler and even a “Punch and Judy” show, by rural inhabitants.
The History Collection, begun in 1985, is comprised of about 14,000 items, many from the Alan Blake Collection. Particular strengths of the Blake collection include bottles, stoneware jugs, hand tools and telegraph insulators. The History Collection also includes items associated with the history of Alabama’s natural resources, such as agriculture, turpentining, lumbering, mining, pottery and iron making. Also included in the collection are a number of artifacts that belonged to Smith, which are of great significance to the history of the museum. Smith was the second state geologist of Alabama, and the first director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History. The collection is housed in the Mary Harmon Bryant Collections Facility.
Mary Beth Prondzinski, collections manager for the Alabama Museum of Natural History, provided the above information.
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