The Alford-Little House

 

 

[This article was originally published in AAFA ACTION: Issue #22, Fall 1993.]

 

 

McCOMB ENTERPRISE-JOURNAL

McComb, MS—Sunday, 3 April 1983

 

The Alford-Little House in its setting facing the Pearl River. Old Copiah County home has connections with McComb people.

 

 

The Alford-Little House near Hazlehurst recently was selected a member of the National Register of Historic Places. Sometimes called Rockport, the house is situated on a winding road off Highway 27 and leading to the village of Rockport.

 

Nora and Tam Etheridge of Jackson are its owners. He is a one-star admiral in the naval reserves and earlier bought an old home in Carthage which also is on the National Register.

 

But Rockport is Mrs. Etheridge's special project. It is considered historically significant because several of its qualifications are typical of other Register members.

 

The house is the former residence of Dr. James T. Alford and his family from 1874 until the early 1900s. Alford was representative of country doctors. It was said he added a large bedroom on one side of the dogtrot-styled house with a room on either side so he would have direct access to the porch: "I don't want to stumble over a lot of furniture getting to my patients."

 

Dr. James Thomas Alford, son of Julius Caesar Alford, grandson of James L. Alford, great-grandson of Jacob and great-great-grandson of Lodowick, was from the Alford family of Virginia and, later, of Alfordsville, N.C., whose members settled in Mississippi, principally in Copiah County, Florida and Texas.

 

Dr. Alford's first wife was Martha Traweek; his second, Julia Steele. The family was related to the Cammacks, Catchings and Quins, among others.

 

Dr. Alford was the father of Jacob E. "Jake" Alford and James Blair Alford, both of whom moved to McComb in 1901. Jake bought the McComb City Drug Store and later established the Jacobs Theatre and the State Theatre, two of McComb's earliest movie theatres. James Blair taught school in Whitestown and married Miss Allie White, a sister of Gov. Hugh White. Their home in the Whitestown area, the White-Alford Home, also is on the National Register.

 

Three of Dr. Alford's grandchildren live in McComb—Louis and Julius "Pooley" Alford and Mrs. Ella Quin Alford Mixon.

 

The Alford-Little House became the home of the Alford family in 1874; the doctor died in 1894; and his family continued to live there until 1896.

 

During the next few years, various families moved in and out; in 1917 the Littles moved in. After her husband's death, Mary Little continued to live in the home until her death in 1976. There were no children, and the house had been willed to Galilee Baptist Church which, in turn, sold it to the Rev. Sullivan, a retired minister. From him, the Etheridges enthusiastically purchased the place.

 

ARCHITECTURAL INTEGRITY

 

The degree of architectural integrity of the Alford-Little House is impressive. Nora Etheridge had long been looking for such a house but always before had found modern touches that destroyed the appeal of the houses she inspected. The dogtrot had been enclosed and now is a 10 x 25 hall; no one knows when the change was made, but a picture of 1889 shows the dog trot still there.

 

Original features have been maintained. The beautiful old hardware is the same; the original millwork is intact; the heart pine floors, never finished, are the originals; and even the mellowed colors of most of the rooms are those first applied. One of the most delightful features of the house is its lovely mantels for the three fireplaces; in their simple lines can be found the essence of good taste. Another feature worthy of much praise is an arch from a cross hall giving entrance into the dining room. Nora Etheridge exults in it and calls it "real American folk art.”

 

The walls of the perfectly proportioned rooms, sweeping up to 12-foot ceilings, are of particular interest. The boards are horizontal and, upon close inspection, appear to have been hand-planed after being put in place.

 

The 18 cypress windows, in most cases, have their original handblown glass with its interesting and lovely bubbles. In comparison, the solid doors look very firm and protecting.

 

The back porch is picture-pretty with its lattice work, and the view from it of a very old smoke house with double walls adds to the charm. On the old smoke house, plainly seen, are the outlines of windows which will be restored.

 

Sitting on the same tract of land bought by Dr. James Thomas Alford, the house has a very attractive exterior. Now shining in a new coat of white paint, it faces the world with a long porch that sweeps all the way across the front and invites one to sit and rest. An attractive ornamental railing of wood frosts the porch and goes down the eight front steps

 

Camellias and azaleas grow in the front yard, but dominating all is an ancient tree of some type of cypress. Like a sentinel, it stands guard protectively close to the house

 

Across the road that borders the front yard, a long row of crepe myrtle keeps back the Pearl River Swamp that lies just beyond. These very old trees, dripping with Spanish moss, present a flaming spectacle when in bloom.

 

On the 10.2 acres of the original tract there are very old pecan trees, now becoming neighbors of the new fruit trees which Mrs. Etheridge is planting. An oddity of the deed to the land is that three-fourths of an acre is separate and at a distance from the house plot as it was the site of a store operated in the past by the Alford family.

 

Nora Etheridge is happy with her house. Since acquiring it in 1980 she has guarded it carefully from alteration and has endeavored to preserve every facet of its uniqueness. “Washing and painting are the only things we do to it," she says.

 

Seated in the swing on her long porch and thinking of the future of her second home, Mrs. Etheridge says reflectively: "The house has to sort of talk with you."