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Birding on Dauphin Island

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Dauphin Island, AL
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SOURCE: Dauphin Island Community News
   Vol 2, No. 2, Summer 1997

Editor's note: Following is a copy of a typed memo from Leon G. Raley to Lindsey Boykin, dated April 12, 1963. The document was found in archive material at USA..
Sometime ago, Lindsey Boykin confided to me that he planned to publish a Dauphin Island newspaper. It was his idea to limit its features content to items of fishing, boating, sailing, and history of the Island. At that time, I asked him if he knew how Raley's Pond received its name. He remarked that he didn't know. I inquired about the possibility of his publishing an account of this interesting facet of Dauphin Island history and lore. He replied: "Leon, if the article is acceptable, now only will I publish it - but, I'll pay you as well."

So I went home to set down the word picture of how Raley's Pond received its name. For those of you readers - who are not familiar with the Pond - may I point out that this small body of water (about three acres in size) is situated about four miles east of the Western end of the Island and empties into the Sound by means of a small outlet. It is the habitat of marine life. As a child in the early Thirties, I accompanied my father and cousin, Earl Raley, to the Pond on a fishing party. It was there we caught many mullet on a trammel net - an experience I've never forgotten.

Can you picture Dauphin Island in 1867? Two years and six months had passed since the end of the War. Confederate veterans of the Island had returned to their homes to take up life where it was left. Among these was young Jimpsey David Raley. This youth of twenty years had been one of the youngest volunteers to the Southern cause. This year - 1867 - the week before Christmas, young Jimpsey married the fair maiden - Cecile Terry of Dauphin Island.

The following year, as family responsibilities grew, the young bridegroom sought additional ways to supplement his livelihood. It was this item (1868), that young Raley was found using his ingenuity and special skills to advantage.

At Fort Morgan, the skilled Raley was removing pilings and obstacles in the Bay most uniquely. He dove to the bottom with a hand saw and proceeded to saw the piling and obstacles. As he would need air, he would surface - get his breath and then return to the bottom to continue the sawing. Anyone familiar with the extent of these fortifications will tell you the feat was amazing.

Too this young man was enterprising enough to also collect whatever metallic material he found on the bottom in the way of shell casings and unfired shells. This material was taken to Dauphin Island and stored with other ammunition left from Fort Gaines' unwanted arsenal at the western end of the Island.

Upon Raley's inquiry, a Mobile metals salvage dealer refused to buy the materiel as it was "LIVE". But this young man was not to be stopped.

He proceeded to eliminate the safety hazard. He started a fire in the huge stacked stores of ammunition and quickly dug in at a safe distance to watch the FIREWORKS! One can imagine the huge hole which resulted from this explosion. After the smoke cleared and the debris settled, Raley collected the brass and other metals - took it to Mobile by vessel, and sold it to the junk dealer.

As the years passed, the tides from the sound caused a small inlet to be formed which accounts for the Pond's salt water and access. And from that day to this , the body of water was know to the natives of Dauphin Island as RALEY'S POND. -Leon G. Raley.
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