The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


May 17, 2013

Students help teacher write history book

HOKES BLUFF, Ala. (AP) — Learning about history includes a lot of memorizing dates, times and places. It's often about events that happened a long time ago and far away. But it's been much more for students in the U.S. history class at Hokes Bluff High School. Students have learned about their city and their ancestors, as well as something of equal importance — that the only way to document the history for future generations is to document the present.

History teacher Jill Boatwright in 1999 wrote a book about the history of Hokes Bluff, and it sold out quickly. She had the help of students and the community. There are no more copies other than the ones that originally were purchased.

Many people urged Boatwright to write another book, so she turned the idea into a class project and again got students and the community involved.

She explained the project to her students at the beginning of the school year and they began to interview family, friends, neighbors, people from church and anyone who knew a little something about Hokes Bluff.

"This gave my students a concept of another time," Boatwright said.

They learned how Hokes Bluff got its name, about its original Native American inhabitants and about the settlers who bought the land from the government after it was taken from those inhabitants.

"There's no other Hokes Bluff in the whole world," Boatwright said.

The city was named after Daniel Hoke, a Jacksonville man who had a trading post on the bluff overlooking the Coosa River. It's where all the locals would go to buy and trade their goods. They called the place Hoke's bluff, Boatwright said, thus the name. There originally was an apostrophe in the first word, but it was dropped about 1900.

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