Friday, January 30, 2015

DUBLIN IN THE 1870S


THE CALM AFTER THE STORM

Life in Dublin in the 1870s was stridently harsh and partially austere, at best. The four years of the American Civil War had taken its devastating toll on the city and the surrounding countryside. It was called "Reconstruction" by the politicos of the northern states, an attempt to shape the devastated South into a mirror image of themselves. The brave young rebel lads, broken, battered and bruised, had returned home to Dublin and Laurens County only to find their homes, though still standing, surrounded by protracted gloom, abject poverty, incessant hunger and unequivocal chaos. Dublin's prewar charter had expired or lapsed out of existence.

There were no options. Dublin, Georgia and the South had to rebuild. No Northern bureaucrat had the slightest of solutions to the problem. To bring the South up from the bowels of the economic, as well as social, abyss, drastic, but steady advances were necessary.  Labor was crucial. Despite the end of physical and legal slavery, economic slavery remained. Former slaves were almost virtually dependent on meager wages doled out to them by their former masters who had seen their fortunes dwindle during the war and its aftermath.

While extant evidence of racial relations are extremely scant, those records which do exist suggest a picture of racial harmony. Rev. George Linder, a former slave and Methodist minister, had served the county with great honor in the latter years of the 1860s. It was said that he was respected by the people of both races. A.C. Duggan agreed to continue to feed, clothe and house his slaves from the end of the war until the following Christmas. Others were turned out to fact the world alone. Education of black children could only be found within the confines of the churches. No money was appropriated for public schools for black children. Many of the adults and school age children were illiterate and gainful employment was an impossibility. Low wages and harsh living conditions on tenant farms were the norm. Throughout the state, but not in Laurens County, racial violence erupted. In the mid 1870s, one attempted insurrection directed toward Laurens and surrounding counties emanated out of Sandersville, but was interrupted before it began.

Optimistic thinkers knew that there was one key solution to the problem, and that problem was transportation, or the lack thereof. With virtually no monetary assets on hand, farmers were forced to sell their goods in local markets to citizens who were barely managing to stay alive. Dublin and Laurens County had never had a railroad. Efforts to establish the Central of Georgia Railroad through the heart of the county had failed previously some three decades before the end of the war. Jonathan Weaver, foreman of the 1872 Laurens County Grand Jury, summarized the beliefs of his fellow grand jurymen in calling for a conference between the county's legislators and officials of the Central of Georgia in exploring the desire for the location of a railroad into the city. Fourteen years elapsed and untold fortunes and life sustaining pittances were lost before the completion of the railroad to the banks of the Oconee River in 1886.

The same grand jury recommended an appropriation of five hundred dollars be made to clear the Oconee River of obstacles northward from Dublin to a railroad bridge above Ball's Ferry at Rauol's Station near the hamlet of Oconee. Two individuals, Col. John M. Stubbs and Captain R. C. Henry moved to Dublin, just in the nick of time. Stubbs, a former Confederate officer, a highly skilled lawyer and a scientific farmer supplied the capital investment in the project. R.C. Henry, a seasoned and savvy North Carolina river boat captain, supplied the expertise in hauling freight upriver to Rauol Station and down river to the railroad depot at Doctortown and the seaport docks of Dairen, Georgia. The new fleet of river boats replaced the former armada of pole boats and timber rafts which were the only means of transportation available to merchants and farmers. By the end of the decade, crops were exported and cash was imported into the city.

The town of Dublin was decrepit, dingy and neglected. Theretofore the vital economic areas had been scattered throughout the northern regions of the county in the major plantations. Dublin was merely a place for court business, supported by a few stores and several barrooms for sustenance of its scant populous. The town's first comprehensive charter in 1873 led to the last times when county officials governed the town.

At the beginning of the decade, there were only a few stores in operation. Dr. Harris Fisher established the town's first drug store in 1872. Peter Sarchett, the popular tavern keeper, established his saloon just southeast of the courthouse square on South Jefferson (Law office of Charles Butler, 2007). A cooling shade of a mammoth oak tree attracted drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Little boys and big boys as well were entranced by Sarchett's pet parrot, who swore like a drunk sailor and could speak the name of his celebrated owner. Dr. Robert Hightower constructed his new office on West Jackson Street (Peppercorn Restaurant 2007) making it the second brick building in the city, which saved it from the cataclysmic fire of 1889. On the site of the new Laurens County courthouse annex was the post office, which sat below a photography studio.
George Currell occupied one of the town's two prime commercial locations with his store at 101 West Jackson Street. Judge John B. Wolfe occupied the other top spot across the street. Judge Freeman H. Rowe's old stand on the southwest corner of the courthouse square was taken over in the latter years of the decade by Peacock's drug store. Only one other business, Newman's harness shop, occupied the southern half of the square. The rear area of these buildings all the way down to Marion Street, upon which the railroad would be built in 1891, were fields of cotton and corn. William B. Jones, a veteran of the war, operated his store on the corner, where the Brantley-Lovett & Tharpe building now stands on the northwest corner of West Jackson and Lawrence Streets. Louis Perry and J. M. Reinhardt were two of the town's more successful entrepreneurs. John Keen's house, later known as the Troup House (124 S. Jefferson St.), provided a night's lodging for the traveler and those attending quarterly sessions of court.

A shabby well worn two-story courthouse, which had served the county for nearly three decades, occupied the nucleus of the town. The courthouse was enclosed by a square of scraggly, and often unsightly, china berry trees. The town's first brick building, the Laurens County jail, was located where Lawrence Street now begins between the old Lovett and Tharpe Building and the old location of the Farmers and Merchants Bank.
At the western end of the downtown area were the Baptist Church, which is still located on the same site, and the academy, which occupied the apex of the triangle where the current city hall now stands. Captain Rollin A. Stanley initiated and carried out his plan to beautify the city's most well known thoroughfare, Bellevue Avenue, which in those days was named "The Hawkinsville Wagon Road." Stanley planted hardy oak trees from the Baptist  Church along both margins of the avenue to his home, which was located near Coney Street.

Dubliners survived the 1870s and began a four decade long growth spurt before the economic depressions of the 1920s and 1930s brought the new found posterity to a screeching halt.  But, it was in the 1870s when the city came  out of its cocoon and became the wonderful place it is today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

POPLAR SPRINGS NORTH BAPTIST CHURCH


The Early Years of One of Georgia's Oldest Churches
                   
On  August 1, 2007, the members  of Poplar Springs North Baptist Church will celebrate their 200th anniversary as a church.  The church appears to be the oldest active Georgia church congregation west of the Oconee River.  Poplar Springs Church was actually consecrated four months before the land upon which it stood changed from Wilkinson County to Laurens County.  The members of the community chose a site centered among the most well populated regions of the southern tip of Wilkinson County. A small meeting house was constructed half way between the Oconee River and Turkey Creek near the Lower Uchee Indian Path. Today the church sits near the original site on Highway 338,  a  little over a mile from U.S. 441 North.

     The founding presbytery consisted of the Rev. Charles Culpepper, Rev. Isiah Shirey, and Charnick Allen Tharp.  Rev. John Albritton is thought to have opened the services.  Amos Love was chosen as the first church clerk - he also served as the first clerk of Laurens County Superior Court. 

The charter members of the Poplar Springs Church were Ann, John, Margaret and Richard Albritton; George Blair; Mr. and Mrs. John Bowen; Mary Culpepper; John,  Edith, Sarah and Elizabeth Gilbert; Elizabeth and John Kent and their daughter Elizabeth; Amos Love; John and Mary Manning; Eleanor O'Neal; Richard Painter; Jessey Pollock; Jessey Stevens; Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Thompson; Josiah and Nancy Warren; Nancy, David and Sarah Watson; and Elizabeth and Joseph Yarborough.  

     Mary, probably a slave belonging to the Albrittons, was the first African-American church member in Laurens County history.  Among the first slaves to worship in the church were Jeff, Dublin, Clarissa, Phebe, Silvy, Ephram, Fanny and Tabitha.  After the end of the Civil War, black members formed their own churches, primarily at Spring Hill and Mt. Tilla.

     Several early members were prominent in the first century of Georgia's history.  Amos Love, was the first clerk of the church and the county's first clerk.  His son, Peter Early Love, became a leading statesman of Georgia, serving as a solicitor general, superior court judge and U.S. Congressman.  Love was one of the delegation of Georgia congressman who walked out of the Congress when Georgia seceded from the Union.  The first man to pastor an organized church in Laurens County was the Rev. William Hawthorn.  Rev. Hawthorn, a soldier of the American Revolution and a native of North Carolina, moved to the Allentown (Wilkinson County) area about the year 1806.  In August of 1808,  Rev. Hawthorn was called to Poplar Springs Baptist Church.  Rev. Hawthorn served the church for 10 months.  His home became a part of Twiggs County in 1810.  Rev. Hawthorn also served his community in state government.  In 1814, the Reverend was elected by Twiggs Countians to the State Senate.  From 1819 to 1821, Rev. Hawthorn represented Pulaski County in the Senate.  Rev. Hawthorn  moved to Decatur County, where he represented that county in the Senate in 1827 and again in 1829.  Rev. Hawthorn may have been the only person in the history of Georgia to represent three different counties in the Georgia Senate. During his lifetime,  Rev. Hawthorn also served in the local governments of four counties.  Rev. Hawthorn died on May 15, 1846.  His lasting legacy is the Hawthorn Trail, which follows the modern highway from Albany to Tallahassee to the Gulf of Mexico. 

     Lott Warren was born in Burke County, Georgia on Oct. 30, 1797.  The Warrens moved in 1804 to what later became Laurens County.  Lott, an orphan at the age of 12, went to live with his uncle, the Rev. Charles Culpepper.   While working as a clerk in a Dublin store, Warren was drafted into the Georgia Militia.  The young man was elected Second Lieutenant of the Laurens County company.  Lt. Warren was then appointed Adjutant of the detachment. Lt. Warren returned home and studied law under Daniel McNeel before being admitted to the bar in 1821.  In 1824 Col. Warren represented Laurens County in the Legislature.  In 1826 Warren served as the Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit from 1826 to 1828.  Warren  moved to Twiggs County,  representing that county in the Senate in 1830.  In 1831 Col. Warren began a three year term as Judge of the Southern Circuit.  Judge Warren moved to Americus. In 1838 he was elected to the United States Congress.  After serving two terms in Congress, Lott Warren returned to private practice.  Judge Warren returned to the bench serving as Judge of the Southwestern Circuit from 1844 until his resignation in August of 1852.  Lott Warren was a faithful member of the Baptist Church and followed the teachings of Christ in his legal and political career.  Judge Warren fell dead while making a speech at the courthouse in Albany on June 17, 1861.

     Eli Warren, son of revolutionary war soldier Josiah Warren and Nancy Doty, was a native of Laurens.  Eli Warren represented Laurens County in both houses of the Georgia Legislature.  He was a member of two constitutional conventions and a brigadier general in the Georgia militia.  At the height of his legal career, Gen. Warren was said to have had one of the largest practices in the state.  Gen. Warren had many notable descendants.  His grandson, Kittrell J. Warren founded "The Macon News".  One of his daughters married James W. Lathrop, founder and first president of the Savannah Cotton Exchange.  Warren Grice, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, was also a descendant.  Eli Warren's  brother-in-law was Peter Early Love.  Love was a Solicitor General and Judge of the Southern Circuit.  Love was also one of the members of the Georgia Congressional delegation when the Civil War broke out in 1861.

     Rev. Charles Culpepper, a leading pioneer Georgia Baptist minister, served as pastor at Poplar Springs from 1809 to 1830.  Whiteford S. Ramsay, founder of the Dublin and Laurens County School systems, served as pastor for 30 years from 1870 until his death in 1900.  Rev. Ramsay served as a minister longer than anyone else at Poplar Springs.  Ramsay, at 21 years of age, was one of the youngest Colonels in the Confederate Army.

     Deacons Joseph Yarborough and Matthew Albritton were appointed to lay out a lot of land to build the first church on in 1809.  The first church, a small log building, served the members of the church until 1830.  The second building was constructed on the site in 1830 and lasted until 1889.  A third and more substantial church building was erected in 1889 and lasted until a Sunday morning in December 1943, when it caught on fire shortly after morning church services had begun.  The present building, built in 1945, has been modified and enlarged several times to meet the needs of the growing church membership.  

Congratulations to the members of Poplar Springs North Church on their  bicentennial celebration, which also coincides with our county's 200th anniversary.  We are all fortunate the minutes of the church have survived for 200 years.  The church has such a rich history that a full account can not be given in this column.  I refer you to The History of Poplar Springs North Baptist Church by R.M. Johnson.  It is an outstanding history of Laurens County's and one of Georgia's oldest churches.

Monday, January 26, 2015

HUBERT MIZELL

HUBERT MIZELL
A Legend That Never Ends


In a world where cliches are never cliche, Hubert Mizell has seen it all.  For the last fifty years, he has written about courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice.  Hubert has told stories of leadership, teamwork and the triumph of the human spirit.  He loves sports and loves to write about the events which keep on taking us out to the old ball game.  For this Dublin native, his dream to become a sportswriter has come true, more than he could ever imagine.

Hubert Coleman Mizell was born in Dublin, Georgia in 1939.  His parents, Leon Mozart Mizell and Annie Mae Williams Mizell, named him for Dr. Alfred Coleman, the doctor who delivered him.  Hubert grew up in the days of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Joe Louis.  As a child of a poor family, Hubert lived in eleven towns and in twenty-seven buildings.  His father left school after the end of the 5th grade.  A saw mill accident left the elder Mizell with a severely mangled arm, relegating him work at strenuous jobs, often enduring eighty-four-hour work weeks.  Hubert's mother worked whenever and wherever she could to help make ends meet to support the family, which included Hubert's baby sister Linda.  

When Hubert was seven, the Mizells moved to Jacksonville, Florida.  A trip to the Georgia-Florida game, long before it became the wild spectacle  it is today, sparked young country boy's love of sports.  At the age of fourteen, Hubert took a job as an usher and later as a scorekeeper at Wolfson Park, home of the Jacksonville Tars.  Playing for the Tars that year was a young kid by the name of Henry Louis.  You know him better has Henry "Hank" Aaron.  

Before he completed high school, Mizell developed a relationship with the Times-Union, Jacksonville's leading newspaper.    At first he worked as a sport's copy editor.  During his spare time, Hubert studied and carefully analyzed the writings of the nation's greatest sportswriters.  After his college days at the University of Florida were over, Hubert returned to the Times-Union as the High School Sports Editor.  In 1964, he took a job in the public relations department of the Gator Bowl.

In 1967, Hubert came of retirement as a sportswriter for the first time.  He returned to the Times-Union as its Florida Sports Editor.  In addition to his duties in the sports department, Mizell covered hurricanes and even the 1972 Republican National Convention.  Later in the 1970s, Hubert became the state sports editor of the Times-Union. 

Hubert Mizell's first major sports assignment came in the late summer of 1972.  Hubert witnessed swimmer Mark Spitz's world record seven gold medal performance and the emergence of one of the world's greatest gymnasts, Olga Korbut.  He was there when the zebras gave the Russian team three unwarranted chances to defeat the US basketball team in one of the most controversial games in Olympic history.  Hubert was an eye witness to one of the darkest moments, not only in Olympic history, but in the history of sports.   Working closely with a young Peter Jenkins of ABC News, Hubert saw the hooded gunmen who killed eleven Israeli athletes.   He was stationed at the airport when their corpses were sent back home.  "It was like a punch in the stomach," Mizell remembered. Hubert still lists the '72 Olympics as the highlight of his career. 

Being based in the subtropical climate of Florida, Hubert normally didn't cover hockey games.  But in the winter of 1980, Hubert was in Lake Placid, New York, covering the first of his four Winter Olympic games.  Mizell and the corps of sportswriters, normally trained to be neutral in their coverage of sports, shivered in emotion as they witnessed, in Mizell's words, "the most colossal upset in the history of sports."  Mizell still rates the game in which the upstart US team defeated the heavily favored Russians  as the No. 1 game he has ever covered.  In 1986, he moved to Atlanta and took a job as a feature writer and television critic for the Atlanta Constitution.  It wasn't long before Hubert decided to return to Florida and the love of his life.

Mizell was present at one of baseball's most memorable games, not because of the score or the events which transpired on the field.  It was late in the afternoon on October 17, 1989.  The Giants and Athletics were preparing to play their 3rd World Series game when the stadium began to shake violently.   Hubert hit the floor and then the lights went out.  He managed to make it out of the stadium safely, writing his column on the hood of an ABC -TV truck.  The calamitous earthquake was the most frightening thing Hubert ever witnessed in sports.

During his fifty years in journalism and sports, Hubert has attended nearly fifty college football bowl games, forty Masters golf tournaments and  more than thirty college basketball final fours and Super Bowls.  He has been in attendance at more than a dozen U.S. Golf Opens and Kentucky Derbies.  Hubert has crossed the Atlantic to witness a half dozen or more British Open golf tournaments and even more Wimbledon tennis tournaments.  Mizell has covered six summer Olympic games and four of the winter games.  The number of the other sports events he has seen is virtually incalculable.

College football and golf are Hubert's favorite sports.  He loves going to Notre Dame to watch a football game the best, though he does rank Grant Field as number nine and between the hedges at Sanford Stadium as his sixth most favorite college football venue.  He lists Arnold Palmer, Steve Young, Pete Maravich, Jack Nicklaus, Magic Johnson and Richard Petty as his favorite athletes.  Interestingly, he list former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lee Roy Selmon as the most honorable athlete he has known.  Nancy Lopez is a close second in his mind.  Among the most mesmerizing interviewees, Mizell lists Muhammad Ali, Bobby Jones, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Red Grange, Charles Atlas and Jesse Owens.  His favorite sportscasters include Pat Summerall, Jim McKay, Bob Costas, Jack Whitaker and Howard Cossell.

Frequently honored by his colleagues, Hubert  has served on the ESPY committee of ESPN Sports, which annually honors the best of the best in sports. Mizell was a charter inductee into the United States Basketball Writers Hall of Fame.  In 1980, his fellow sportswriters elected him as president of the Associated Press Sports Writers Association.  Chris Berman of ESPN remembered Hubert for being kind in helping him out when he first got into broadcasting.  Veteran St.  Louis announcer Jack Buck said, "Everybody loves Hubert, especially the athletes - they trusted him."  Jack Nicklaus said "Hubert tried to do the right thing and be in the right place at the right time."  Fellow golfer Gary Player echoed Nicklaus, "He's been a tremendous contributor to golf, but he's been a great gentleman.  Really a nice man and you can't say much more about a person than that."

Hubert retired from sports writing, at least partially, in 2001. He and his wife moved to Virginia and the promise of peace and quiet. Hubert did continue to write a weekly column for the St. Petersburg Times until the end of 2004.  He planned to retire, but Hubert couldn't leave sports.  He returned to the sports room last year and writes today for the Gainesville Sun.    This past April Hubert Mizell was honored by the Augusta National Golf Club, which awarded him and thirteen other writers and broadcasters with the first "Masters Major Achievement Award." According to the editors of Sports Cliches dot com., a sportswriter must be around for at least thirty years to qualify as a legend.  Hubert Mizell is twenty years beyond that level and still going strong, watching and writing about the greatest legends in the games we play.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

GREAT FLOOD OF '25


Without a doubt, January is the coldest and the darkest month of the year.  And in most areas around the state it is one of the wettest, closely rivaled only by the tropical storm months of the summer.  We here in Dublin and Laurens County are relatively lucky when it comes to floods.  It was in the bend of the river where the old Indian roads converged at the Oconee River where the county's founders first staked out the town of Dublin, where the flood plain is narrow.  Major floods, before the construction of Lake Sinclair, occurred at a one per decade rate.  After the dam at Sinclair was erected, the number of major floods in the inhabited areas of Dublin and East Dublin has plummeted. 

Speaking of wet months, around the second week of January 1925, ninety years ago it began to rain in Laurens County and all around the South.  The rains poured down, heavily and almost daily. The rivers and creeks began to rise.   It rained some more. And, then some more.  The floods came and came again.  Not since 1887 had so much rain had so much of a profound effect on our area as during that rainy month, ninety winters ago.

As far as rivers went then, there were no dams along the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers to control the water levels down stream.  Torrential winter rains and severe summer freshets left river dwellers to suffer from  the wrath of a frequently unmerciful  mother nature.

Dublin was established as a river port along the Oconee River in 1811.  Although the bulk of the commercial district is situated along a ridge nearly a  hundred feet above the mean level of the river, industries along the lower ends of Gaines, East Jackson and Madison Street frequently fell victim to rising winter waters.  Especially susceptible to flooding was the plywood mill situated on the banks of the river just above the river bridge.  From its earliest days in the early 1900s and even until now, thirty foot levels were always unkind to improvements on the property. 

River levels, as they always do, peaked first at places north and northwest of Dublin.  Locally the first effects of the strong torrents were the washing out of bridges and railroad trestles, the first coming along the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad near Dudley.  In town, there were some places where the river spilled more than 250 feet further out from  its banks than normal.

Wooden bridges, the mainstay of the county's infrastructure, were damaged beyond calculation.  The steel bridge across Hunger and Hardship Creek was six to eight feet under water and totally useless as an entrance or exit along the northern edge of the city. 

The 1920 Oconee River Bridge, somewhat new and modern with improved causeways,  was holding, although the same could not be said of the next bridge downstream at Mt. Vernon, which was beginning to wash completely away.  The railroad bridge at Dublin was still standing, but railroad officials dared not take loaded freight trains over the raging river as it relentlessly pommeled the thirty-five-year-old columns with tons of pressure.   The same could be said all over the central and southern parts of the state, where many substantial bridges were sustaining some degree of damage. 

Days and days of incessant rain brought the Oconee above its flood stage of 22 feet.  "Every branch has turned to a creek and every creek is now a river," wrote a Dublin newspaperman.
With the Oconee still rising, industries along the flood plain began to shut down.  Water backed up into the boilers of the Ice Plant bringing production of the valuable commodity to a halt. 

By the 22nd, county residents had reported that nearly every wooden bridge in the county had been swept away.  Five miles below Dublin on present day Highway 441, the long, wooden bridge over Turkey Creek at Garretta had a twenty-foot-wide fatal, gaping section swept away in the deluge, cutting off the city's main highway to the south. 

People living in northeast Dublin in the Scottsville neighborhoods east of North Decatur had lived with flooding waters for three decades. This time knew they that the flood was for real with the water getting higher and higher every day.

Travel along county roads, made mostly of sand and clay, was nearly impossible.  The trains of The Wrightsville & Tennille and Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroads trains stopped running altogether.   And, when trains stopped, nearly everything else stopped.  Pardon the pun, but there was a flood of mail stacked up in post offices around the county and the state.

On the 21st of January, the river began to crest at 29.6 feet measured at the passenger bridge.  Along the Ocmulgee, the river at Abbeville had risen to 20.1 feet, 11 feet above flood stage, while upriver at Hawkinsville, the water was 36 feet deep, seven feet above flood levels. At Lumber City near the junction of the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers, the waterline stood at 26 feet, nine feet higher than the town's folk wanted to see.

But the water didn't crest in Dublin as predicted on the 21st.  Slight raises were seen during the night bringing the official level on January 22 to 29.84 inches, a measly and insignificant one-sixth of an inch below thirty feet. That crest fell nearly three inches short of the all time record of 32.8 feet established in mid April 1936.

In the Lake Sinclair era, the highest crest of the Oconee River in Dublin came on February 8, 1998.  Depending on the spot where the depth was measured, Don Bryant, the head of Laurens County's Emergency Management Agency, stated that the river crested at 30.54 feet.

As the water levels receded almost as fast as they climbed, all activities began to resume as they normally would.  

In meteorological circles, the year 1925 was quite remarkable.  It was a year when unprecedented and record rainfalls were measured in the winter and the spring.  By the summer, it started getting hot, real hot - a record year to date for temperatures.  By the autumn, the rains stopped and all was dry.  And, mother nature's ever revolving, ever changing cycle began again.

LAURENS COUNTY MAN'S PICTURE ON U.S. CURRENCY

For most of the last century, our paper dollars have featured the images of Presidents and important national figures.  During the decades before the Civil War, state chartered banks issued their own currency, currently called obsolete currency.  These notes were traded and used like money is today.  After the war, these beautifully engraved bank notes were considered worthless until collectors began to seek them out and find the best conditioned examples.

Here are the five known Georgia obsolete bank notes which show the image of Gov. George M. Troup of Laurens County, who died in 1856.












Wednesday, January 14, 2015

B. FRANK BROWN, JR.

A Child of Flowers


Dr. Bartley Frank Brown, a man of many talents, died on the 1st day of November 2014, in his 98th year on this earth.  A native of Dublin, Georgia, Dr. Brown’s 97-plus year life was filled with just that, life.  Brown was a wizard at teaching, gardening and studying nearly every subject  he wanted. He loved to burst into a song.  “We’re Off To See the Wizard,” was one of his favorites. 

Frank Brown was a flower child of sorts.  As an educator in the 1960s, he refused to conform to the norm, preferring instead to let some students do their own thing,  within limits of course.  As an amateur botanist, he turned on to the beauty of tropical plants (not the smoking kind but the flowering kind.)   According to some sources, it was not unusual to see this sprightly septuagenarian walking merrily barefoot through his gardens. 

Born in 1917 in Dublin, Georgia  to B. Frank Brown, Sr. and Martha Virginia Lowther Stanley, Dr. Brown descends from several of Laurens County’s oldest families, the Stanleys, Lowthers, Moores and McCalls. His maternal grandfather, Vivian Lee Stanley, served a long term as a Prison Commissioner of the State of Georgia and was directly involved with the extradition of Paul Burns to Georgia, which was immortalized in the 1932 movie, “I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang.”  

His great-uncle, Harris McCall Stanley, who co-founded what became the Dublin Courier Herald, was Georgia’s first Labor Commissioner and is a member of the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame.  

Thomas McCall, the progenitor of the McCall family, was Surveyor General of Georgia as a 21-year-old and is recognized as the father of modern wine making in America.  

Following a stint in the Navy in World War II, Dr. Brown moved to Florida to continue his education.  His career in education began in 1953 when he was named Principal of Melbourne High School and later served as Superintendent of Brevard County Schools. At Melbourne High,  Brown led the way to alternative methods of learning.   

Brown’s innovative procedures included nongraded programs and establishing a library which was larger than the school’s gym.  His programs gave alternatives to the typical student.  One former student said that he would have never graduated if Brown had not given him the go ahead to graduate after memorizing the names of all of the plants on the school’s campus.  One of Brown’s forward looking innovations was the addition of Chinese to the curriculum.   

On his 90th birthday in 2007, Dr. Brown was honored with the naming of the Science and Research Center of Melbourne High School in his honor. 

Brown, a fervent learner, shared the fruits of teaching with the publishing of six books on education: The Non Graded High School, The Appropriate Placement School, Education by Appointment, Crisis in Secondary Education, The Transition of Youth to Adulthood and The Complete Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Athletic Injuries.   His successes in education drew the attention of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite and an editor of Time Magazine, which published a feature on his educational methods. 

Education was Frank Brown’s mission in life.  

His passion and love was the tropical flowering  plant.

Following his retirement, Dr. Brown traveled to tropical regions in Asia and around the world cataloging exotic plants, including the Aglaonema, twenty of which he hybridized and patented.  A popular speaker on the botanical circuit, Brown wrote and compiled three books on tropical plants, including the first ever on the popular croton. 

More than anything else, Frank Brown wanted to share the beauty of these tropical plants with the world.  Living in an environment conducive to these tropical beauties, Brown enlisted the aid of  Cleo Millare, his dearest friend.  With Cleo’s aid as the nursery manager, Brown opened his Valkaria gardens to the public.

Brown lived on a five-acre, pine tree studded home site south of Palm Bay off Interstate Highway 95.    The aging anthophile constructed a nearly two-acre garden to display his prized flowers as well give him an ideal location to continue his experiments in hybridization. 

Known as a carefree and happy man by those who met him, including myself, Dr. Brown lived where he loved and loved where he lived.  He would live nowhere else in the world.  

During his retirement years, Brown was frequently summoned by Florida governors and education officials seeking his advice on old problems and new trends in education.  And, once in a while, the President of the United States would call for guidance, presidents Kennedy, Carter and Johnson to name a few. 

But now, back to the flowers.  Brown, who held a couple of patents shy of thirty and the title of a Fullbright Scholar,  was self taught in botany. He never had a class in botany. Brown learned what he knew by reading books, visiting gardens and observing the plants in their natural habitats.   His interest in tropical plants was sparked when he took a trip to the Philippines on an assignment for the Department of Defense.



Dr. B. Frank Brown’s legacy to Melbourne and Palm Bay cannot be understated.  He put his school on the map for his successful, non-traditional educational methods> His most lasting legacy, the Valkaria Gardens, will be where lovers of beautiful lush tropical flowers gather for as long as there is someone there to tend the gardens to keep the beauty of Brown’s dream alive.

To visit Valkaria Gardens online go to www.valkariagardens.com 

Monday, January 12, 2015

RON O'QUINN

An Oldie But a Goodie Who Still Rocks


If it’s a Saturday night and you are listening to the your favorite oldies music, chances are good that you will hear the voice of Dublin’s own,  Ron O’Quinn.  Ron has been spinning records, pushing buttons and wise cracking jokes on the radio for all or parts of the last seven decades.  He has met  many of the most successful singers and rock and roll groups of the 1960s. And, many will tell you that his lively style, witty humor and musical knowledge make him one of the greatest disc jockeys  in Rock and Roll music history.  

Ron O’Quinn was born on March 4, 1943 in McRae, Georgia.  There was a time when Ron joined the Air Explorer Scouts and dreamed of being a pilot like his  father, Joe O’Quinn, who was a fighter pilot in World War II and an instructor at Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia.  Ron can’t think of a more caring mother than his own mother, Nita Adams.

As activities at the base in Moultrie began to slow down,  jobs were getting scarce.  One day, Ron’s life changed forever.  At the age of 16, Ron took a job at a $1.50 an hour hosting a teen radio show at WMGA in Moultrie.  Ron loved listening at night to the sounds of the early days of rock and roll and country music coming from radio stations in distant parts of the Southeast. The voice of one disc jockey, the legendary “John R.” Richbourg, still endures in his head. 




“I don’t listen to the radio much these days.  I don’t have to, because all of the songs are always up there in my head,” Ron proclaims.

During his life in the music, Ron has met many celebrities.  Some of the first, were during his tenure at WMGA.  They were Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Hall of Fame songwriters who wrote many of the hits of the Everly Brothers, “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” Bye-Bye Love,” and “Wake Up Little Susie.”  Boudleaux Bryant, who hailed from nearby Shellman, Georgia, teamed with his wife to write the Tennessee State Anthem, “Rocky Top.” 

Ron left Moultrie in 1961 after graduation and entered the Army.  During his two-year hitch in the Army, Ron, a marksman and machine gunnner, earned the esteemed title of an Army Ranger.

Ron returned to radio in 1963 when he took a job at WVLD in Valdosta.   O’Quinn kept climbing the ladder by  moving south in search of better paying jobs, first at WROD in Daytona and WLCY in Tampa/St, Petersburg, where he was known to his listeners as “Jack E. Rabbitt.” 

O’Quinn’s first big break in radio came in August 1965.  With his recording setting 60% share of the radio audience in Tampa, he was hired to work at WFUN, one of Miami’s best Top 40 Radio Stations.  

While at WFUN, Ron was again at the top of this game with high ratings and emceing concerts. Once he met the Rolling Stones while introducing them at a concert.  When the Stones failed to kept their promise to go on his radio show, Ron gave out their hotel room numbers to his listeners.  When the police enjoined him from giving out the number, Ron exacted revenge by borrowing a waiter’s clothes, taking the rock and rollers’ drink order and leaving them stranded, but not before getting his picture made with the iconic rockers.

Listen to Ron's final show on WFUN at  www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz_P38SAXuk

Once again, his success at a highly rate Top 40 radio station, led to yet another career making opportunity.  
“I continued my lucky rating streak and was hired to set up the 'most powerful pirate radio stations in the world', Swinging Radio England,” Ron recalled. 



These “pirate” stations broadcasted from a ship in international waters, 4 1/2 miles off   the shore of  Great Britain.  In those days, the British Broadcasting Corporation severely limited air play of rock and roll music.  With the stations beyond the limits of control of  the British government, the stations blasted powerful signals throughout most of the United Kingdom to eager listeners seeking to hear their favorite tunes. 

As the station’s first program director, O'Quinn altered the theretofore automated format into live radio in May 1966.  Borrowing every snappy jingle, funny gimmick and every successful radio format he had ever seen and heard, Ron and his fellow DJ’s became an instant success.


Watch video of Swinging Radio England.









“Because of the notoriety our radio stations received in Europe, I was invited to meet The Beatles at the London offices of Nems Enterprise. The meeting went well and a few days later I was asked if I wanted to attend a recording session at Abbey Road. I did, of course, and while there cleared my throat, coughed actually, on the Tax Man song,” Ron recalled.

“In August of 1966, I was asked to become a member of the Official Beatles Touring Party and accompany the Beatles from England on their American tour. This tour would be their last ever,”  Ron remembered.  

The tour got off to in inauspicious start when the plane took off in a terrific thunderstorm.  Ron was there, along with Kenny Everett and Jerry Leighton of the other pirate stations, to give their prospective of the tour to their listeners back in England. . 



Ron spent a lot of time with all of the Beatles.  He developed a close relationship with all of the Fab For, but especially with John Lennon, with whom he traded rings for a while.  

“John was deeply disturbed about the remark attributed to him that the Beatles were more popular than God or Jesus,” Ron remembered about Lennon, who desperately sought out to learn more about Jesus and the wonders of His love to rid himself of his demons. 



“He was asked by a reporter that if the Beatles and Billy Graham were appearing at the same time, who would draw more fans, to which John instinctively  replied,  ‘The Beatles,’” recalled  Ron, who was once used as a double for Paul McCartney to avoid an army of adoring fans.

When the tour was over, Ron had problems getting permission to return to England.  The station, banned by the British government from broadcasting ads of British businesses on the pirate stations, failed and was no more in November 1966. 


Ron & The Buckinghams

Ron returned to America, right back to his old job in WFUN.  In the fall of 1969, he moved across the country to KYA in San Francisco, for a brief while.  During his career,  Ron had stints on WUBE Cincinnati and WYLD in New Orleans, O’Quinn was hired being National Program Director of Urban Stations for Rounsaville Organization, an Atlanta-based company. 

In early 1971, O'Quinn became the manager of WSIZ in Ocilla, Georgia where he stayed until 1976. In 1987, after being out of  the radio business for nearly a decade, Ron moved to Dublin, where he produced a weekly oldies show, “Rock and Roll Reunion,”  syndicated to nearly ninety markets and heard locally over WKKZ and WQZY.  His show, “Memories Unlimited ened in 2001. 

In 2012, Ron, a member of the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame,  was named as a Legacy Inductee into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

In summing up his career in radio, this humble man merely says,   “I can't believe I've been paid all these years for doing what I love.”

Ron lives just outside of Laurens County in his ancestral home of Wheeler County. From a spare bedroom, which he transformed into a studio, Ron produces another weekly show, “Rock and Roll Rewind,” which is  heard  all over Europe by a million or more listeners each week as well as listeners to  several dozen stations in the U.S.  

Ron will tell you quickly, “I have no set playlist, I just play whatever strikes me at the time,. 

So on this Saturday night, get in your car, turn your radio on, ride around and listen to the music, the music of our lives.


To listen to Ron's podcast go to: http://rewindron.podomatic.com/
















With Nancy Sinatra



With Fats Domino



With James Brown 



Saturday, January 10, 2015

PAUL SLY

THE LAST TRUE MEASURE OF DEVOTION


On a small sandy hill, behind an old country church, there lies the body of a fallen, nearly forgotten hero. His tombstone simply reads "Paul E. Sly, November 3, 1921 to January 8, 1945."  You don't know Paul Sly, but seventy years ago today, this 23-year-old, Evansville, Indiana-born, Florida-raised journeyman welder and 82nd Airborne paratrooper  gave the last full measure of devotion to protect the freedoms of his family and his country.  This is his story.

Paul's parents, Anzy and Thomas Benjamin Sly, in their senior years worked in a citrus cannery in the small Central Florida town of Davenport, Florida, where Paul  graduated high school.

Paul Sly was drafted into the army although military service ran in Sly's blood.  His grandfather, Samuel Sly, was most likely a member of the  58th Indiana Infantry, which fought in the Tennessee,  Chickamauga and the March to the Sea campaigns. 

Paul married Kate Johnson, daughter of Kelley and Bell Fort Johnson, in a simple ceremony held in the Baptist church in Orianna in mid June of 1940.  The couple lived for a while in the Johnson community around Pleasant Springs Baptist Church on the old Savannah Road in eastern Laurens County.  

With a wife to support, Paul Sly took a job in the Carolinas as a welder.    In June of 1943, he was ordered to report for a physical at Carolina Beach, North Carolina.  By mid-October, Sly returned to Winter Park, Florida for his induction into the U.S. Army.  "If you want to make more money, join the paratroopers," the sergeant said.  It was extremely dangerous duty, but Paul had a family to support according to his son, Paul, Jr., who was born in July 1944, just as his father was arriving in Europe. 

Paul Sly (lower left corner) endured rigorous training assignments, achieving parachutist status on May 13, 1944. As a member of the famed 505th Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, Sly's status as a parachutist came too late to allow him to participate in the pre-dawn jump into Normandy on D-Day.

The 505th Infantry regiment, activated in 1942, participated in the campaigns of Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, during which the regiment received two Presidential Unit Citations, three foreign distinguished unit citations, the French fourragère, the Netherlands Military Order of William, and the Belgium fourragère. 

Sly joined the 82nd in July 1944 in France.  In September 1944, the unit participated in Operation Market Garden.  In December, the 505th jumped into an area which would host one of the war's most notorious and deadliest battles of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. 

Just after New Years Day of 1945, Sly's battalion was assigned to occupy and move south out from the village of Reharmont in Southeast Belgium in the center of the regiment's attack.  Under intense 88 mm artillery, mortar and small arms fire, Sly's Company C  incurred heavy casualties as it moved out from the woods  north of Reharmont. 

"They had fields of fire - it became obvious to us early on that nobody was going to cross that open ground in daylight without tank or artillery support, so we fell back into the woods and started screaming for artillery fire and tank support, and neither were forthcoming," Sgt. Elmo Bell of C Company recalled.   

Finally, C Company was ordered to move forward to the edge of the woods for the assault on the town, which eventually succeeded, but with great loss of life reducing the company down to half of its normal strength.  

"Your husband was wounded in Belgium by the explosion of an enemy shell while he was engaged in delivering a mesage from the commander of his organization.  That was on January 4, 1945," later wrote Major General James Gavin in a letter to Kate Sly.  

The first telegraphic notice came on January 25,: "Regret to inform you your husband Paul E. Sly was seriously wounded in action, 4 January 1945 in Belgium, J.A.  Ulio."

The final and devastating notice soon followed that Pvt. Paul E. Sly died from his wounds on January 8, 1945. 

Following Private Sly's death, letters poured in from military and political officials. "The significance of his heroic service to his country will be preserved and commemorated by a grateful nation.  It is hoped that this thought may give you strength and courage in your sorrows," wrote Major General J.A. Julio, Adjutant General, United States Army, January 28, 1945

Secretary of War Henry L. Stemson added,  "The loss of a loved one is beyond man's repairing, and the medal is of slight value; not so. However, the message it carries is we are all comrades in arms in this battle for our country and those who have gone are not, and  never will be forgotten by those of us who remain." 

Major General James M. Gavin, the youngest major general division commander in the Army in World War II and who jumped with his own men,  said, "Private Sly was a loyal and well disciplined soldier who had developed a high sense of loyalty.  His humor was a great morale builder and consequently he was liked by his comrades."  
"Putting aside family ties, the admiration, respect and affection of comrades are a soldier's most priceless possessions.  These possessions I believe your son had earned in full measure.  Death of such a man leaves each member of the division a lasting sense of loss, from which there comes to you a deep sense of personal sympathy,"  continued General Gavin in his letter of February 23, 1945. 

Chaplain Philip M.  Hannan in comforting Sly's widow wrote, "From the account of those who were near him when he met his death, your son was hit by a shell fragment and died very shortly thereafter.  His death occurred in Belgium.  The greatest courage and devotion of men like your son has made possible the truly epic history and accomplishments of this regiment, you can be justly proud of him as a loyal soldier and Catholic.  

"Although your son has been with this regiment for quite some time, he was well respected and had won the friendship and goodwill of all of his comrades.  During the campaign in which he met his death and in previous engagements, Paul Sly was noted for his aggressiveness.  His officers testified that he was a very good soldier and always ready to take the worst with a smile," Chaplain Hannan said. 

The Chaplain assured Mrs. Sly that her husband did have the comfort and aid of his religion at the time of his death and all during the bitterest winter weather that the Catholic men continued to attend Mass and to receive general absolution, even in the deep snow drifts.  

Atlanta Constitution owner, Clark Howell, wrote, "There are no words which serve to alleviate your sorrow, but I did want to send you my sincere sympathy." Standard letters from future governor of Georgia and then  Adjutant General S. Marvin Griffin and Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall came to Mrs. Sly's mail box in March. 

 "Your son was buried in Belgium and I can assure you that this was accomplished in a most befitting manner by his comrades with an Army Chaplain officiating," wrote General Gavin in a most personal letter.  For more than two and one half years his body laid in the United States Military Cemetery Henri Chapelle, Belgium, Grave No. 167, Row 9, Plot No. VV.

In November 1947, one by one, 6250 coffins, containing the remains of Private Sly and other servicemen who died in Europe, were unloaded from the hold of the USS Joseph Connolly in New York Harbor.  New York Mayor William O'Dwyer,  who presided over the ceremonies, wrote Kate Sly, "As mayor of New York and on behalf of the citizens of this city, I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the family of Pvt. Paul E. Sly, who so honorably gave his life that others might enjoy peace and freedom. I trust and pray his sacrifice will not have been in vain."

Included aboard the shipment of fallen heroes were the bodies of T Sgt. Emmett Asbell, S. Sgt. Palmer N. Braddy, 2nd Lt. Blakely Parrott, and T-4 Johnny Rowland of Dublin.  Six thousand marchers escorted the bodies up Fifth Avenue and the Hero's Canyon.  This time, there was no ticker tapes thrown out of windows nor were there any  cheers yelled from the skyscrapers. Only the mourning sound of  mothers' tears of  anguish and the muffled respectful drumbeats could be heard as they reverberated through what is still called "The Canyon of Heroes."  

It was late in the cool, cloudy afternoon of  the third Thursday of November 1947, when the body of Private Paul Edward Sly was finally laid to rest in the cemetery of Pleasant Springs Baptist Church in southeastern Laurens County.  Gill C. Dudley had accompanied Sly's body on  the last final leg of his journey home.  Memories of that mournful day are still vivid in Paul Sly Jr.'s mind.  Members of the local unit of the VFW served as pallbearers in a ceremony presided over by V.A. Chaplain, W.J. Willingham. 

Kate Sly lovingly kept the memories of her husband's service and his death. If you close your eyes and turn on your other senses you can still feel the love and smell her perfume in the brittle, yellowing  pages of her chocolate brown scrapbook.  

And now, on this 70th anniversary of Paul Sly's last true measure of devotion, it is only proper and fitting for our community to recognize his acts of heroism.  On December 6, 1947, Kate J. Sly signed OQMG Form # 623 in applying for a military headstone for her husband, Serial No. 34795788 .  
A small marker was placed on his grave, but that marker is now missing.   Through the aid of Paul Sly, Jr. and  the  Laurens County Historical Society, there will be an appropriate marker which tells the true identity of this never to be forgotten hero, "Private Paul E. Sly, Co. C, 505th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, United States Army, World War II."  

Friday, January 09, 2015

CADWELL, GEORGIA


THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS


August 21, 2007 marks the end of the first one hundred years of the town of Cadwell, Georgia. Tomorrow, a new century will begin on the anniversary of the incorporation of the town on August 22, 1907.   Over the last century, Cadwell has risen from a tiny village to a bustling farm town and railroad depot, settling in as a quiet place to raise a family and spend the waning years of  retirement.

The origin of Cadwell actually goes back more than a mere 100 years. The area was formerly known as Reedy Springs.   The name comes from a nearby spring, which undoubtedly had a lot of reed plants around it.   The Reedy Springs Militia District was created on October 5, 1883.    After the Civil and Indian Wars, the necessity of each militia district was no longer necessary.   The militia districts then began to function as voting districts and Justice of the Peace Court districts.

The Reedy Springs community was also known by the name of Bluewater.  That name was derived from a nearby creek to the north and west.  In 1883, the Reedy Springs District had four churches (all Baptist), a common school, a steam gin, a grist and saw mill.  Farmers produced 800 bales of cotton, 800,000 board feet of lumber, and 8,000 pounds of wool.  The farmers of the area, which extended down to the current day Cadwell area and over to Dexter were: E.F. Alligood, H. Alligood, I. Alligood, A.J. Barron, H.D. Barron, J.H. Barron, W. Barron, W.T. Barron, J.D. Bates, A. Bedingfield, J. Bedingfield, R.A. Bedingfield, W. Bedingfield, W.A. Bedingfield, G.W. Belcher, Eliza Clarke,  H.C. Coleman, W. Coney, J.E. Crumpton,R.H. Crumpton,  C.C. Gay, Hardy Gay, Mrs. M. Gay, Stephen Green,  D.Y. Grinstead, E. Grinstead,  P.E. Grinstead, Robert Grinstead,  J. Hobbs, A.B. Holliday, W.F. Holliday, L.H.  Hudson, S.B. Johnson, W.D. Joiner, A. Jones, W.J. Kinchen, W.F. Kinchen,  G.B. Knight,  J.T. Knight, R.G.B. Knight, B.  Lewis, S. Lewis, T.J. Lewis, J.R. Locke, J. Lowery,  W.A.N. Lowery, G.W. McDaniel, H.R. McDaniel, J.R.  McDaniel,  R.F. Mathis, C. Mullis, J. Mullis, W.H. Mullis, R.F. Register,  and A. Rountree.

The local businessmen were A.J. Adams, machinist; H. Alligood, sawmiller; J.M. Bass, miller; W.B.F. Daniels,  general store; J.T. Rogers, general store; R.L. Faircloth, machinist; James Lovett, wheelright; J.R. Sheperd, general store; and Wynn Brothers, general store.  Local ministers in 1883 were N.F. Gay, D.E. Green, J.W. Green, T.J. Hobbs, J.T. Kinchen, J.T. Kinchen, Jr., J.I.D. Miller, J.T. Rogers, C.B. Smith, and C.R. Winham.  L.A. Bracwewell was Justice of the Peace and A.B. Clark was the Notary Public and ex-officio Justice of the Peace.  

Situated along the rail line of the Dublin & Southwestern Railroad was the defunct town of Mullis, or "Mullis Town."  Mullis, which was incorporated as a town in 1906, was located just north of the northern city limits of Cadwell.  An intense rivalry began between the citizens of Mullis and Rebecca Lowery Cadwell Burch, who had plans of her own to develop a town of her own.  Shortly after Cadwell began to flourish, Mullis Town, at least in its official status, faded away. 

Rebecca Burch had intended to name her new town "Burch" in memory of her late husband.  Mrs. Burch knew that the town would have to have a post office, so after making an application for one, she discovered that the name of "Burch, Georgia" had already been taken.  As an alternative choice, Cadwell's founding mother submitted the last name of her first husband, Matthew Cadwell.  When Matthew Cadwell was buried in Lowery Cemetery, he was buried with his horse, the same horse that he was riding when he was struck by lightning.

The owner of a fine tract of land, Mrs. Burch hired Zollicoffer Whitehurst to survey and lay out a design for a new town to be named in honor of her late husband, Charlton O. Burch.  Whitehurst's original design, completed in 1905 - two years before the incorporation of Cadwell, contained 52 commercial lots and four larger lots on the northeastern side of the just completed rail line.  Initially, Whitehurst placed five streets in his design.  Snow Hill, Burch and Coleman streets paralleled each other running in a northwest to southeast direction.  Dexter (Georgia Highway 117) and Dublin (Railroad) streets intersected these streets at right angles.  

The original limits of the town included all of Land Lots 11 and 20 of the 17th Land District of Laurens County and encompassed an area of 405 acres.   Two years after Cadwell was incorporated, the town actually shrunk in size, down to 1000 square yards in a square shape centered around the intersection of  Dexter and Burch streets.  It would be another forty-six years before the  the size of the town was doubled in 1955 to encompass 2000 square yards. 

The town of Cadwell's first mayor was J.W. Warren.  Warren was appointed to lead the first town government by the Georgia legislature with the wise counsel and guidance of the initial slate of councilmen, James Burch, Joe Ethridge, C.C. Cadwell and Ed Walden for a period of two years until a new election could be held.

According to the first census of Cadwell, one hundred and fifty four persons lived in Cadwell in 1910.  Among the heads of families that year were: Uriah Woodard (telegraph operator,) Arthur Mullis (salesman,) Daniel Harrell (house carpenter,) John Weaver (barber,) William Mullis (farmer,) Hershall Jones, James Fason, Henry Smith, Willie Powell, Robert Pullen, Robert Pannell, William Curry, Leon Joiner (turpentine laborers,) Thomas Wood, Allan Carter, Thomas Bird, James Gallimore, Josiah Griffin (railroad laborers,) Murl Coleman, Isaac Coleman (telephone operators,) James Mullis (farmer,) Simeon Bland (physician,) Henry Bedingfield (farmer,) James Burch (bank cashier,) Robert Burch (drug salesman,) Henry Coleman (farmer,) H.C. Stonecypher (merchant,) Hiram Mullis (merchant,) Horace Mullis (telegraph operator,) Robert Ridley (hotel keeper,) John Ridley (laborer,) Bennett Bedingfield (farmer,)  William Colter (salesman,) C.C. Cadwell, and Victoria Cadwell.

Cadwell's  charter was repealed and a new one put in place on August 19, 1912.  H.C. Burch was named Mayor by the new act.  A.T. Coleman, A. McCook, H.R. Bedingfield and J.A. Burch were appointed councilmen.  The new law gave the town government the right to establish it's own public school system, a novel power not given to other Laurens County towns.   In 1925, the Cadwell Public School system was abolished and the town's school became part of the county public school system.

Yet another charter was issued in 1914.  H.C. Burch remained in the position of mayor, but A.M. Johnson, L.T. Harrell, H.R. Bedingfield and E.E. Hicks were named as new members of the council.  

The first post office in Cadwell was established on August 17, 1908 after being moved from Mullis.  Arthur Mullis served until September 21, 1910, when Bennett J. Bedingfield assumed the duties as postmaster.  Other Cadwell postmasters were Joseph A. Warren (1912-1914), Homer Mullis (1914-1918), Hiram Mullis (1918-1935), John B. Bedingfield (1935-1936), Belie B. Hicks (1936-1943), and Katherine F. Underwood (1943-).

Laurens County's third bank, the Cadwell Banking Company, was granted a charter on January 5, 1910 with an initial capital of $25,000.00.  The original incorporators were L.B. Holt and G.C. Wood of Sandersville, H.C. Coleman, Jr., W.H. Mullis, Sr., J.A. Burch, H.C. Burch, H.R. Bedingfield, A. McCook, H.C. Stonecypher, and W.B. Coleman of Cadwell.  A brick building was constructed on the southwest corner of Dexter and Burch Streets.  L.B. Holt served as the first president.  The bank acquired the assets of the Citizens Bank of Cadwell in 1916.  The new board of directors chose H.R. Bedingfield as president, H.C. Burch as vice president, J.A. Burch as cashier, and H.H. Burch as assistant cashier.  The bank failed to open on fall day in 1928 and Cadwell was without a bank.  
C.R. Williams led a group of local citizens in forming the Citizens Bank of Cadwell which was granted a charter on November 5, 1913. Many of the incorporators were listed among the shareholders of the Cadwell Banking Company.  They included A. McCook, Mrs. R.E. Burch, B.K. Smith, S.F. Scarborough, C.J. Barrs, L.P. Lavender, C.C. Cadwell, T.R. Taylor, Victoria Cadwell, J.M. Gay, J.B. Bedingfield, H.R. Bedingfield, J.L. Watson, D.W. Alligood, L.W. Lavender, O.S. Duggan, A.H. Duggan, A.J. McCook, W.W. Warren, B.J. Bedingfield, J.H. Barron, W.J. Mullis, J.F. Graham, A.F. McCook, J.A. Warren, H.B. Warnock, J.B. Colter, Mutual Telephone Exchange, H.C. Stonecypher, A.M. Johnson, J.W. Bass, Sr., J.W. Bass, J.E. Rogers, J.F. Etheridge, C.C. Hutto, and A.B. Daniel.  


The citizens of Cadwell regathered and formed a new bank in the early months of 1929.  The bank was a private bank owned by J.B. Bedingfield, J.F. Graham, W.D. Parkerson, and L.K. Smith, who served as cashier.  The bank underwent a series of name changes from the Graham, Sikes, and Company Bank to the Graham, Smith, and Bedingfield Bank, and finally to the Farmers Clearing Bank.  W.A. Bedingfield joined the firm after J.B. Bedingfield was elected Clerk of the Superior Court.  W.D. Parkerson left the firm and the bank reorganized with L.K. Smith as president and W.A. Bedingfield as cashier.  

In 1966 the directors received a state charter and became the Farmers State Bank.  Early officers of the bank included L.K. Smith, W.A. Bedingfield, W.B. Coleman, and Kennon Smith.  The bank moved to the former post office location on Burch Street, the site which it still occupies today.  In 1980 the bank was purchased by Farmers Bancshares of Douglas.  Edward E. Morris took over as president of the bank, a position which he still holds today. Dan Rowe was elected cashier.  The bank opened its branch office in Dublin on Veterans Boulevard in October of 1984.  

The single most important factor in the establishment and growth of Cadwell into an economic center of southwestern Laurens County was the establishment of the Dublin & Southwestern Railroad.     E.P. Rentz, a Dublin banker, owned a saw mill in Rentz and took a keen interest in the project, becoming the main owner of the railroad.


Grading began on March 2, 1904 in western Dublin along Marion Street near the Dublin Cotton Mills in Dublin under the supervision of E.P. Rentz and superintendent, Frank S. Battle.  The organizational meeting of the railroad was held in the Citizens Bank on April 6, 1904.  E. P. Rentz was elected president.  J.J. Simpson and  W.D. Harper were elected as vice president and traffic manager/treasurer respectively.  William Pritchett,  J.M. Stubbs, and David S. Blackshear of Dublin were elected to the board of directors.  The first spikes were driven and the workers raced to complete the road to Rentz by mid May. 

From its intersection with the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad, the D & S RR ran southwesterly and crossed the present day Industrial Boulevard on the site of Flex Steel.  The line ran in a southerly direction as straight as possible crossing Turkey Creek at Tingle, later known as Garretta.  From that point the road turned in back to the southwest through a small station known as Mayberry (at the site of Southwest Laurens Elementary School) and thence to the lumber mill in Rentz.   From that point on, the old tram road bed allowed the owners to cheaply, and fairly rapidly, complete the railroad into Eastman.

Engineer J.P. Pughesly immediately began laying out the road along the old tram road. Col. Stubbs traveled to Eastman on June 27th to solicit monetary and moral support from the businessmen and farmers of Eastman and Dodge County.  In return for their subscription of shares for the twenty to twenty-five thousand dollar project, the investors would be given a share of the company.    Eastman investors were reluctant to get involved.  However, when the city of McRae invited the directors of the D&S RR to turn the course of the railroad in a southerly direction, the men of Dodge County put their names on the dotted lines.  S. Herman, W.H. Cotter and W.H. Lee of Dodge County were added to the railroad's board of directors.  

The first scheduled train from Rentz to Dublin ran on June 29, 1904 with two daily trips to follow in July.   Battle's crews began laying rails in mid-August.    The old tram road bed was in fairly decent shape, two years growth of weeds and saplings excepted.     Next along the line was the town of Mullis.   

From Cadwell, the railroad turned again toward Eastman, running first through the community of Plainfield.  Construction was delayed by legal actions by some Eastman citizens along the route of the railroad and the City of Eastman as well.  General Manager W.J. Kessler, a highly successful former manager of the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad,  moved the headquarters of the railroad to Eastman in May of 1905, with the ultimate  intention of extending the road on the Ocmulgee River. 

Any town needs a church, or two or three churches.    John Burch was the first to put that belief into motion.  He organized a Sunday School for children in one of the Frierson Company houses.  The adults became interested and Mrs. Rebecca Burch came through with an ideal spot on the corner of Snow Hill and Walnut streets.    On September 10, 1909, the first organizational meeting was held and the Cadwell Baptist Church was born.  John Burch and A. S. Jones were elected as deacons.  Jim Burch took on the duties of church clerk.  The founding members of the church included John Burch, H.C. Burch, J.A. burch, C.C. Hutto, A.B. Daniel, A.S. Jones, A.F. McDaniel, Mrs. M.A. Burch, Mrs. A.B. Daniel, Mrs. Leo Lewis, Mrs. Neily Cadwell, Miss Lola Burch, Miss Ellis Lewis, Mrs. Flora Graham and Mrs. J.F. Ridley.    Those present at the initial organizational stages elected the Rev. E.W.  Evans as the church's first pastor. 

The original church, a fairly large wooden structure, was completed in 1910, though the building was not painted on the outside until 1913.  In 1919, the members of the church finished their new and current building on the corner of Dexter and Snow Hill Streets.  An annex building was erected in 1957.

Despite the large contingent of Baptists in Cadwell, there were a few of the Methodist persuasion.  Again Rebecca Burch stepped up and deeded a tract on Walnut Street  to J.E. Perry, Beulah Burch and Mack John as trustees of the of Methodist Church.  The first pastor of the Methodist Church at Cadwell was the Rev. Silas Johnson, who in 1943 became the president of Wesleyan College in Macon.    The church's first stewards were Mrs. R.E. Burch, Mack Johnson and W.J. Ballard.  The Methodists built their  first and current building, a modest wooden structure, in 1913 on a lot which adjoins the old Cadwell school site.

A second and more important essential element of a new town is the establishment of a school. In yet another public spirited donation from Rebecca Burch, H.C. Burch, B.J. Bedingfield, J.E. Faulk, A.W. Mullis and D.W. Alligood, appointed by the Laurens County school board, took title to a two-acre tract at the corner of Snow Hill and Dexter Streets in 1911.  The first school was a large wooden building with a tall belfry on the southern end.  It suffered the usual fate of all too many wooden buildings when the school burned in 1928.
Jim Smith was the community's first school teacher and principal.    He was followed by Mr. Marsh and H.L. Lawson.   An additional school was built in 1916 on the present school site.  It was two-room brick building with an adjoining auditorium.   After giving up it's charter as a separate system in 1925,   a newly created school district was formed under the leadership of H.C Burch, J.B.  Bedingfield, J.F. Rivers, J.T. Jones and D.W. Alligood.  Cadwell students excelled in a wide variety of subjects, particularly in the fields of agriculture, home economics and as the Cadwell Bulldogs in the sport of basketball.  Children attended school in Cadwell until the 1960s when the students were transferred to Laurens High, which later became a part of West Laurens High School.

  The following is a tribute written to Cadwell, which at one time was being promoted as the county seat of Northern County, to be named in honor of Gov. William J. Northern (1893-1894.)  The movement, like several others of its kind,  to crop off an extremity of Laurens County never materialized.   

A TRIBUTE TO CADWELL

Cadwell is a beautiful city,
     Capital of Northen County,
Contains one thousand people,
     and pretty girls in bounties.

When a good place to board is wanted,
     Stop with Mrs. Ridley on the hill,
Three young ladies to entertain you,
     You will never regret the bill.

Miss Fannie B. plays the piano,
     Miss Della B is in love, I am aware.
Miss Arbelle is so good and quiet,
     You would hardly know she's there.

But they are all fine, I tell you,
     I love them all you bet.
But Buren and Swanson have got me beat,
     To my sorrow and great regret.

But I must soon leave you all,
     And bid you all good bye.
It make me feel so lonesome,
     and I feel like I could cry.

I have enjoyed my stay immensely.
     You have been so nice and kind.
I thank you all ever so much
     and this is all my little rhyme.

         For a more detailed history of Cadwell see 70 Years, A History of Cadwell, Georgia by Fannie Jo Bedingfield Holt.  It is with great honor and respect I dedicate my capsuled history of Cadwell to Mrs. Holt and to all the fine people who have ever called Cadwell their home.