- Cullman, Alabama


August 28, 2007

Crooked Creek Civil War Museum

Having a dream is easy. Making it come true is not always easy — or possible. But Fred Wise, 65, not only had a dream, he realized he could make it come true with lots of hard work, persistence and time.

For the past 25 years, Wise has steadily worked on turning 40 acres of “land good for nothing but holding the earth together,” into a Civil War historic legacy.

Crooked Creek Civil War Museum & Park is located on a battle site where Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union Colonel Abel Streight fought for several hours at crooked creek, then went on to engage in the Battles of Hog Mountain and Day's Gap in April, 1863. Historic markers along the Forrest-Streight route mark rural highways through Cullman County, and now at one such marker near West Point leads the county road to Crooked Creek.

“I didn’t know this was an actual battle site when my wife, Brenda, and I bought the land in ‘81 but learned about it after four years here,” said Wise.

“The hillsides were all growed up, thick with weeds under the trees, and we didn’t know that beneath the brush was proof a battle had happened here,” said Wise. “But once we started clearing off the hills, we found concave holes where soldiers had entrenched themselves for protection during battle and bullet holes in big rocks.”

He said the worst thing he did though was destroying a pile of rotted logs across the creek. “At the time, when we first bought this place, I just thought the debris was jamming the creek. Little did I know those logs were probably a part of history,” Wise said, shaking his head. “I’ve regretted doing that ever since I found out what I destroyed.”

Wise had been a Civil War buff and collector before he bought the land, but once he realized the historic significance of his property, he laid plans to preserve the area. “I knew I wanted a museum for my collection, and hoped to clear the land along the creekbank and the hillsides. Maybe even have hiking trails.”

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