Charles Ford Apperson, Jr., A Vintage Vignette
Charles Ford Apperson, Jr.
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
May 6, 2008
The picturesque house sitting on almost two acres west of Wall-Triana Highway (Sullivan Street) and south of Brown’s Ferry Road is a unique landmark in Madison. Due to its historic design, it looks older than it is. The more than 4700 square feet of the home comprised the last abode of Charles Apperson Jr., who had it built in 1988 and then passed away August 8, 2007, at age 84.
Charles F. Apperson was Mayor of Madison from 1950 to 1957, and his father (Charles F. Apperson Sr.) served as a Madison Councilman 1936-1940. The senior Charles was born in Kansas in 1889. He married Kathleen Humphrey of Madison in 1919. The father of Charles Sr. was James C. Apperson, who was born in Virginia in 1860. Both of James’ parents were also born in Virginia, but James’ wife Maria was born in West Virginia. Maria’s father was born in Maine, and her mother was born in Ireland. After Kansas and a stay of about a decade in Missouri, the family moved before 1910 to Pulaski “Road” in Huntsville, where James owned a dairy and ice cream company. The Apperson Ice Cream Company in July of 1914 brought suit and won a judgment of $50 against Fred Camper of the New Hope area. Fred was a son of Madison resident Benjamin Franklin Camper. He may have had a great appetite for ice cream in what must have been a hot year.
By 1920 the James Apperson family was living in the town of Madison. However, his son Charles was living on a farm with Kathleen closer to Triana in that year. The census record of 1920 gives the birthplace of Charles Sr. as Kentucky, but the censuses of 1900, 1910 and 1930 all say Kansas. There is no question about the birthplace of Charles Jr. as being Alabama, since he was born in 1923, well after the family of Charles Sr. was established in the town of Madison. Charles Sr. was listed in the 1930 census with an occupation of enameler, working in an electric stove factory. The Apperson family lived on Maple Street in 1930 Madison. Next door to them was the African-American household of Frank Brandon and his wife Marthy. Frank was listed as an undertaker in a funeral home, which may well have been a part of their house. That could represent quite a change for Charles Apperson Jr., living next door to a funeral home at age 7, and maturing to reside in the impressive house along Sullivan Street in later life.
When Charles Jr. died last year, he was survived by siblings James C. Apperson of Madison, Naneen Apperson Williams of Madison, Dora Apperson Tuck of Harvest, and Betty Apperson Alston of Searcy, Arkansas. Charles’ wife Ruth passed away before him. His life story is somewhat preserved by an interview conducted in his home several years ago and now incorporated with that of his sister Naneen (and others) on the Oral History Series CD-ROM offered by the Madison Station Historical Society. The interior of the house at Sullivan Street and Brown’s Ferry Road reflected Charles’ passion for Alabama football and his lifelong dedication to the Madison United Methodist Church. Additionally, he was an active member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, and he loved to collect and refurbish antiques, which filled his home. A great man of Madison departed from the city last year, but his remains rest in the Madison City Cemetery along Mill Road.