Nine days after the 1952 Miss Neshoba County pageant ended, one in which Miss Gloria Williams won second alternate honors, the Philadelphia High School Band, including 81 teenagers and nine chaperones, traveled in two Continental Trailway buses to New York City to participate in the American Legion National Convention.

At the time, Legion officials predicted its annual parade would be the largest ever viewed in the United States, one that would take over 14 hours to complete.

The Philadelphia High School Band, under the direction of Ollie Williams, qualified for the trip by winning 12 Superior ratings at the Mississippi Spring Band contests held at Jackson, Mississippi, earlier in the year. Contributions to finance this historic journey came from many sources, such as parent donations, spring band concerts, a stars and stripes revue and many personal gifts.

The Band Finance Committee received a very special $100.00 offering from Corporal James Earl Hutchison, Jr., a Philadelphia soldier serving on the front lines in the Korean Conflict. In his letter, Hutchison wrote: "The enclosed money order is just a small token of happiness that I can bring to a few of the members when they take part in the National Legion parade.

That was always my dream while serving in the Philadelphia High School Band." After many weeks of work by many individuals and organizations, Finance Committee Chairman Evander V. Buckley delivered a sum of $9,400 to Director Ollie Williams and his trip assistants.

Leading the band down Fifth Avenue on August 26, 1952, was Drum Major Gloria Williams, daughter of Amzi J. and Nannie Stribling Williams, dressed in an "abbreviated Uncle Sam" costume. During the eight-mile march, the red, white and blue clad musicians and twirlers won two honors - second place in the American Legion Junior Band contest and first place in the Forty and Eight Junior Band Parade.

Marching behind Miss Williams was 15-year-old majorette, Alice Ebba Hamill, a black-haired beauty, who was in the first phase of a 12-month period in her life that she would long remember.

The daughter of local druggist William E. "Bill" and Marguerite Stribling Hamill, captured the title, "Queen of the Southeast Mississippi Livestock Show," in early March 1953, crowned by the 1952 winner, Hilah Burkes of Harperville, Miss.

Five months later on August, 1953, Miss Hamill topped a field of 20 other Neshoba young ladies to win the Miss Neshoba County pageant, winning the $100.00 cash prize, as well as the crowning tiara and a bouquet of red roses. One year later, Miss Hamill placed a crown on the winner of the 1954 Southeast Mississippi Livestock Queen contest, a young lady she bested in the 1953 pageant, Mary Ann Mobley of Brandon, Miss., who later became Miss Mississippi and Miss America in 1959.

Another majorette in the same band that participated in the American Legion Parade in New York City, 13-year-old Sheila Stubbs followed in the foot-steps of Miss Hamill. After several call-backs, Miss Neshoba County of 1953, Miss Alice Ebba Hamill crowned a 15-year old, light-haired, blue eyed beauty as Miss Neshoba County of 1954.

The large audience, estimated at 5,000 Fairgoers, greeted the beaming Miss Sheila Stubbs, daughter of Bloxum Howard and Leota Taylor Stubbs of Philadelphia, with warm applause, obviously agreeing with the panel of judges.

Later, at cabin #23, owned by the Graham Underwood family, the newly crowned beauty met the Grand Ole Opry's Miss Minnie Pearl, a woman she described as kind and gracious. Later, she recalled that the Nashville star had "one of the loveliest complexions" she had ever seen. An autographed picture of Miss Pearl highlighted a very special night, "the memories of which I will always treasure," the former queen also remembered.

Before her reign as Miss Neshoba County ended, Miss Stubbs had received the titles of Queen of the Meridian Calf Scramble, Queen of the Forest Cattle Show and as Queen of the Southeast Mississippi Livestock Show. Miss Stubbs received her crown at the Livestock Show from Miss Mary Ann Mobley.

Note: Also marching with the Philadelphia Band during this American Legion Parade was this writer, as a thirteen-year-old tenor saxophone player, and a twin brother to Sheila Stubbs.


Civil War Veterans

Rawls, Thomas J.H. - Private; enlisted April 24, 1861, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age eighteen; farmer; re-enlisted at Camp Fisher, near Dumfries, Virginia, and received $50.00 bounty, February 7, 1862; furloughed; hospitalized with pneumonia at Chimborazo Hospital #3 at Richmond, Virginia, May 3, 1862; transferred to Camp Winder General Hospital at Richmond, May 8, 1862; wounded at Seven Pines, May 31, 1862; present at Gaines' Mill, June 27, 1862; hospitalized with acute diarrhea at the General Hospital at Charlottesville, Virginia, November 27 to December 15, 1863; captured at Hatcher's Run, April 2, 1865; imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland; released at Point Lookout, June 17, 1865; described as five feet eleven and seven-eighths inches tall, dark complexion, dark brown hair and grey eyes.

World War II Veterans

Williams, Joseph Coy - Apprentice Seaman to Pharmacist's Mate First Class; enlisted September 23, 1942, at Jackson, Mississippi, in the United States Navy; age thirty-three; nick-named "Joe Boy;" foreman-bottling company; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations attached to the Sixth Garrison Replacement Battalion with the United States Marines Corp, October 1943; trained at the Field X-Ray School and the Field Medical School at Camp Elliot, San Diego, California, December 1943, and at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California; served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations attached to the First Battalion, 26th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division, and Health and Sanitation Company, Fifth Medical Battalion, Fifth Marine Division; participated in the campaign on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, February 1945 to March 1945; wounded in action; awarded the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two bronze service stars), Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Purple Heart; discharged at Terminal Island, San Bruno, California, November 20, 1945, demobilization.

Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum

Steven H. Stubbs, Curator

303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350

(601) 656-1284

10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;

Tuesday thru Friday