Tuesday, September 02, 2014

DUDLEY MAYS HUGHES


A Beacon of Agriculture and Education



No other resident of a county surrounding Laurens County has had more of a lasting impact on the history of Laurens County than Congressman Dudley Mays Hughes of Danville, Twiggs County, Georgia.  Though his grandfather was a resident of Laurens, Dudley Hughes lived most of his life on his plantation in Danville, Georgia.  As a railroad baron, agriculturalist and congressman, Hughes led the citizens between Dublin and Macon out of the abyss of Reconstruction through the zenith of the cotton boom, which prematurely ended with the coming of the boll weevil and the resulting bank failures and worker migration to the North.

Dudley Mays Hughes was born on October 10, 1848 in Jeffersonville, Georgia.  His parents, Daniel G. Hughes and Mary Moore Hughes, were prominent residents of the county. His father  represented Twiggs County in the Georgia legislature.  His grandfather Hayden Hughes, of Laurens County,  was one of Central Georgia’s largest slave owners.  Hughes received most of his primary education at private schools, primarily at Oakland Academy.  Though he never formally completed his studies at the University of Georgia, Dudley was made an honorary graduate.  While in college, Dudley developed life time friendships with many of Georgia’s future leaders, including Henry W. Grady, Governor Nat Harris and University of Georgia Chancellor Walter B. Hill.

Dudley Hughes’ station in life was set in 1870 when he left college in the middle of his senior year to try his hand at agriculture.  Though very adept in his academic faculties, Dudley was also masterful the modern methods of agricultural principles.  After a trial run on his grandfather’s farm in Laurens County,  Hayden Hughes rewarded the young man with a bounty of a thousand dollars for his excellent work.  Hughes used his grant to purchase and establish his Danville farm into one of the section’s most profitable operations.

Hughes realized that in order for agricultural operations to prosper, that railroads were an absolute necessity.  The closest railroad to his home was the Central of Georgia Railroad in Wilkinson County.   Hughes  represented Twiggs County in the Georgia Senate from 1882-1883.  With his enhanced political power and support,  Hughes consulted with his father and his  contemporaries John M. Stubbs of Dublin, Ashley Vickers of Montrose  and Joshua Walker of Laurens Hill in the creation of a railroad from Macon to Savannah through Dublin temporarily  under the name of the Macon and Dublin Railroad then officially as  the Savannah, Dublin and Western Shortline Railroad, which eventually became the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad.  In July 1891 near the end of his six-year term as the railroad’s first president, Hughes and a host of dignitaries rode the inaugural train from Macon to Dublin.  Hughes remained active in the railroad’s operation as its vice-president for several more years until northern investors took over its management from its local progenitors.

After subordinating his railroad interests to his passion for farming, Hughes concentrated on the development of his plantation and the promotion of agriculture and horticultural interests across the state.  Along with his close friend John M. Stubbs, Hughes was active in the establishment of orchards around Montrose and Dublin.  He served for four years as president of the Georgia State Agricultural Society and ten years  as a founding member and first president of the Georgia Fruit Grower’s Association.  As president of the Agricultural Society, Hughes pledged to do all in his power to work for the society as a beacon light for the farmers to look to for guidance and encouragement.  In 1977, Dudley Hughes was named to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame along with Eli Whitney as the sixth and seventh members of the most honored agriculturalists in American history, joining George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington Carver,  Cyrus McCormick and Justin Morrill.  Hughes maintained a large naval stores operation and a 90,000 tree orchard in Laurens County.  Hughes was one of the first farmers to use telephones to coordinate his diverse farming operations at various locations in Twiggs and Laurens County.   He took a personal and active interest in farming, riding a thoroughbred horse from farm to farm to make sure everything was going smoothly.

Hughes was a fervent conservationist, historian and Christian.  He was a Mason, Elk and member of the Georgia Historical Society.  Hughes was a leader in experimentation of agricultural theories and promoted the establishment of three hundred experiment stations around the state.  Despite his iconic stature, Hughes remained loyal to his local church, serving as a deacon and Sunday school superintendent.  His expertise and leadership were always in demand.  Gov. Joseph Terrell appointed Hughes as Commissioner General of Georgia for the St.  Louis World’s Fair.

Though he disdained politics in his early life, he answered the call of his colleagues for political office on a higher scale.  After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1906, Hughes was elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia in 1908.  He served two terms before transferring to the 12th Congressional District in 1912, easily winning reelection for two more terms.  He won coveted seats on the House Military, Agriculture and Education committees.  Always a  zealot of education, Hughes served as a trustee of the University of Georgia, the University of Georgia School of Agriculture, South Georgia Normal School and Georgia Normal and Industrial College, now Georgia College an State University.
 

One of Congressman Hughes’ most lasting contributions on a national basis came  in1914, when Democratic president Woodrow Wilson appointed him to a presidential commission to explore the viability of federal funding of vocational and agricultural education in public schools.  As the Democratic Chairman of the House Committee on Education, Hughes worked with fellow Georgian, Senator Hoke Smith, in developing a bill, which became known as the Smith-Hughes Act.  Adopted by Congress in 1917, the Smith-Hughes Act provided matching federal funding for vocational education.

Dudley Hughes married Mary Frances Dennard in 1873.  Their children were Hugh Lawson Dennard Hughes, Henrietta Louise Hughes and Daniel Greenwood Hughes. Dan G. Hughes followed in his father’s footsteps by serving as Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture.   Hugh, a successful Twiggs County businessman, served as a Trustee of the University of Georgia and Middle Georgia College.  Henrietta Louise, known affectionately as “Miss Hennilu” outlived her brothers and lived in her father’s Magnolia Plantation until her death  at the age of 102.  Magnolia Plantation was restored about two decades ago and stands a monument to the Hughes’ legacy of his contributions to the agricultural and education progress of Georgia.  Dudley Hughes died on January 20, 1927 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Perry.


Dudley Hughes was considered a man of high integrity, always sympathetic and interested in those with whom he conversed.  He was always erect in his in his carriage and looked everyone straight in the eye.  He was known to have loved children and animals, always grateful for their presence in the midst of his hurried world.   Though some people may disagree, the founders of the Town of Dudley named their town in his honor.  Many also think that Montrose was his middle name and therefore he was the name sake of that town as well.  “Colonel Hughes,” as he was known to most of his friends, was honored when the citizens of Montrose, Allentown and Danville attempted to form their own county named in his honor.  The city of Macon did name a vocational school for him and his hometown of Danville was named for his father, Daniel G. Hughes

Monday, September 01, 2014

W.B. RICE

CAPTAIN WILLIAM B. RICE
A Distinguished Innovator



William B. Rice was arguably the most important farmer, naval stores operator, businessman and financier that Laurens County has ever known.  Known simply as "Captain Rice," he was one of the most respected men of his day.  Never one to seek political office, he served his community by pursuing his business interests.  In  building his own substantial fortune  in the process, Rice pumped the economic engine which catapulted Dublin and Laurens County to become one of the most preeminent economic markets in Georgia in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

William Brooks Rice, son of Benjamin F. Rice,  was born on Edisto Island, South Carolina on October 2, 1856, one hundred and fifty years ago yesterday.  His mother, Rebecca Sauls Rice,  died when he was  only two years old. The young William was sent to live with his aunt.  His early years were spent in the maelstrom of South Carolina's secession from the Union and the resulting turbulence of the Civil War which nearly consumed Charleston.

Toward the end of the 19th Century, William and his brothers Dan G. Rice and Samuel Percy Rice, migrated from Florida to the western end of Emanuel County, Georgia.  The Rice brothers established a highly successful naval stores operation near Rixville, located  at the far limits of the county below Adrian.  Pine trees in the area were highly suitable for the production of gum turpentine, especially in the forests  between Adrian, Rockledge and Soperton.    It was during this time when William Rice earned the title of "Captain Rice."  Turpentining was a labor intensive operation requiring the employment of many men, usually black men, who worked for humble wages just to survive.   The title of captain was usually bestowed as an honorary title to a man who was the boss of a group of laborers.

Captain Rice began to diversify his interests by engaging in farming.  In 1901, he made the headlines in the Atlanta Constitution by earning nearly two thousand dollars on a 40-acre hay field.  By 1902, as Captain Rice's fortunes began to mount, it became apparent that he needed to move to Dublin to keep up with his station in life.   Though he was no longer a resident of Adrian, Captain Rice offered his services to the movement to establish the new county of James surrounding the town of Adrian.  Rice served as vice president of the organization along with Captain T.J. James, Adrian's most influential and powerful businessman.

Captain Rice and his family moved to Dublin in the summer of 1904.  He moved to a fine home which he called "Brookwood" on the western outskirts of Dublin along the Macon Road.  His  home was located on the site of the Carl Vinson V.A. Medical Center.  Following the resignation of J.E. "Banjo" Smith as vice president of the First National Bank of Dublin, Captain Rice and his business partner, William S. Phillips, were appointed as co-vice presidents of the bank.  The First National was Dublin's largest and most prosperous bank and was known as the largest country bank in Georgia.

One of Captain Rice's greatest contributions to Dublin and Laurens County was his leadership in the establishment of the Twelfth Congressional District Fair in 1911.  Rice chairmaned the 1913 event.  Perhaps the greatest in the fair's brief history, the exposition recorded twelve thousand admissions in a single day.  

Always a strong spiritual and monetary supporter of business interests in Dublin and Laurens County, Captain Rice joined his colleagues J.M. Finn, R.M. Arnau, R.F. Deese, Izzie Bashinski and D.S. Brandon in incorporating the Dublin Chamber of Commerce in 1914.  Rice was involved in other business ventures as a director of the Dublin Buggy Company, the Chamber of Commerce Warehouse Company, the Citizen Loan and Guaranty Company (the region's largest insurance company,) and the Thompson Horse and Mule Powder Company.  Rice partnered with W.S. Phillips and W.T. Phelps in a stable business on the north side of the courthouse square in the first decade of the 20th Century.  Known as a man with great foresight, Rice purchased one of the first automobiles in Dublin, a thirty horsepower Cadillac from the Miller Brothers in 1907.

But without any doubt, W.B. Rice's greatest contribution to Laurens County came in the field of agriculture.  He sought out and studied new methods of farming to improve crop production and profits.    Within five years of cotton farming in the county, Rice boasted that he could harvest 800 bales of cotton on an 800-acre farm.  In 1913, he studied the use of new irrigation techniques.  Rice believed that a network of terra cotta pipes delivering water evenly throughout his fields would greatly increase profits.  During World War I, Captain Rice urged his fellow farmers to plan a more diversified array of foodstuffs to support the war effort.   On his Brookwood plantation, he maintained one of this section's finest herd of cattle, many of them registered Herefords.  He annually maintained a passel of hogs weighing more than fifty thousand pounds.    A kine of a hundred dairy cattle grazed on his farm supplying his dairy, bringing him an annual profit of more than twelve thousand dollars.

In the disastrous years following World War I, Georgia's agricultural economy began to collapse.   The near annihilation of the cotton crop and the beginning of a vast migration of Negro farm workers to the North forced farmers to diversify their crops and livestock operations by banding together to take advantage of farm cooperatives.  One of the first national organizations to form in Georgia after the war was the American Association of Farm Bureaus.    The Farm Bureau was formed to provide opportunities for information on production, conservation, distribution and better living conditions  for farmers.  Captain Rice was selected as the initial 12th Congressional District member of the Georgia Farm Bureau Advisory Board in 1920.

Captain Rice was a fervent leader of the Baptist church.   He moved his membership from the Adrian Baptist Church to the First Baptist Church of Dublin in 1905.   A century ago, Rice was one of the leading contributors to the erection of the present church in Dublin.

Captain William Brooks Rice died on the morning of December 9, 1929.  He was buried with his family in a vault in the Mausoleum in Northview Cemetery in a funeral attended by hundreds of friends, family and admirers.   He was described by a biographer as one of those people you like the first time you meet them.  He always spoke what was on his mind, without shuffling or evasion.  Able to converse with any person on his level, Rice was a bright blue-eyed man, frequently humorous and habitually smiling, except when being photographed.   Perhaps these words in his obituary aptly symbolized his character:  superb strength of character, most generous helpfulness of hand and great kindness of heart.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

MORE THAN JUST A NAME ON THE WALL


War is a horrible thing.  When you are a twenty-year-old bride and your prince and the love of your life is nearly half way around the world, it is a long and lonely time.  Dianne Cooper loved her husband James more than anyone she had ever loved.  To this day, more than forty-six years later, after an exploding grenade ended their fairy tale love, Dianne still remembers the twinkle in his eye and cherishes the love they shared a lifetime ago.

With the coming of the Moving Vietnam Wall to Dublin a few weeks ago, those cherished memories burst forth once again.  Memories of the days of waiting, hungering for his touch, waiting, waiting, for her darling prince to come home to her flashed through her mind as if it was 1968 all over again.

Dianne sat down and remembered the grand times before Vietnam and the lonesome days after James had to go away;


"When the moving wall arrived in Dublin, it inspired me to write my story.  

James and I became engaged during Christmas of 1965.  He was the man of my dreams.  We married on August 12, 1966.  I was 18 and he was 22.  As my father escorted me to him the night of our wedding, I thought "finally we are going to be together forever."

Mr. and Mrs. James Cooper left that night for our honeymoon in a brand new automobile - a gold Plymouth Fury right off the show room floor!  Someone had written on the windows - JUST MARRIED! WATCH GEORGIA GROW!  Tin cans were tied to the back.  We rode down what was called "the strip" in our town of Dublin.  Then we headed to Savannah.  We stayed at the Thunderbird Inn.  They welcomed us with moon pies and RC colas.

In the early spring of 1967, James received the letter informing him that he was being drafted.  He was sent to Ft. Benning for training, then received orders for Vietnam.  When he arrived there, I began to receive letters.  He told me he was at a base camp, weapons platoon, living in a tent and it was so hot.  But he would always tell me that he was okay.

I wrote him daily while counting the days as the song rang over in my head, Unchained Melody, Wait for me I'll be home.

In late December 1967, he received a week of R&R in Hawaii.  I couldn't wait to board the plane to see him!  It would be our last Christmas together.  After a wonderful week together, with bags packed, it was time to say goodbye again. He called a cab to take him to the airport.  He would not let me go.  We both fervently waved as I stood on the balcony looking down and he stood on the street looking up at me.  Afterwards, it was like he was thinking that we would never see each other again.  I cried for days on end.  I tried to think positive and focus my thought that he would be home in July.

In the late afternoon of May 9, 1968, my world shattered.  Two men in uniform knocked on my parent's door.  They came in, took their hats off and asked me to have a seat.  I immediately asked, "what is it?"  All I remember was that he said, "Your husband has been killed."  The song, Unchained Melody ended.  No more waiting.  A widow at 20.

It took two weeks to get his body home.  We had lots of friends and family who came to support us.  He was buried with full military honors.

In his last letter he talked about coming home to me and his family and how he couldn't wait to see us when he got off the plane.  Oh, to read his letter what he was saying and knowing he was gone.  It was the worst time ever in my life.

Although after 46 years, I have moved on with my life.  I still miss James to this day.  I remember the twinkle in his eye and will always cherish the love we shared.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal.

My eight-year old granddaughter looked at our wedding pictures and asked me if that was a crown I was wearing. I said yes, I was his princess and he was my prince.  It was a true fairy tale that ended too soon.


You will find SP4 James E. Cooper on Line 37 of Panel 56E on the wall.

He for me, was more than just a name on the wall."


There are nearly 58,300 names carved on the reflective black, 493- foot Vietnam Wall.  There are ten thousand fold more victims of that war: parents, wives, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Dianne is one of those victims.  She still carries the scars of her fallen hero and prince.  For those of us who didn't lose a friend, a relative or a husband, we can not begin to fathom the unbearable pain, the endless loneliness, and the urge to be bitter.

In a small way, maybe the coming of the wall to Dublin can begin to heal the wounds of those who lost something of themselves back in the dismal days of the war in Vietnam.  For those who did lose loved ones, rest assured that the more than 15,000 people who came to the wall at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center came there to pay their deeply sincere respects of eternal gratitude and abiding love to more than just the names on the wall.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

LAURENS COUNTIANS WHO WENT OVER THERE FOR UNCLE SAM

WORLD WAR I
The War to End All Wars


They once called it the “War to End All Wars.”  It came nearly fifty years after the cataclysmic American Civil War and nearly 100 years after the end of the War of 1812.  Unlike the bombing of Pearl Harbor or Fort Sumpter, this war, which resulted in the direct deaths of 16 million people, including 116,000 Americans and 50 Laurens Countians, began somewhat inauspiciously with a Serbian national’s  assassination of Archduke Ferdinand Franz and his wife Sophie  on June 28, 1914.    A month later on June 28, Austria-Serbia declared war on Serbia.  Three days later on the last day of July, Germany declared war on Russia. Then one by one, the powers of Europe chose sides and declared war against one another.

Within a week, troops from the United Kingdom moved into France. By the 12th of August, the first World War began.  The United States remained somewhat neutral until the beginning of 1917.  Troubles south of the border in Mexico led to the reestablishment of the Local Guards in Dublin in May of 1917.  Judge R. D. Flynt and Captain W.C. Davis, a former commander of the unit, helped to organize local men, who anticipated that they would be going overseas within a few months. A couple of months later,  Lt. J.C. Minnenant, organizer of the Dublin Guards, left for France. Lewis Cleveland Pope was elected Captain of the Home Guards, the senior home guard organization in Georgia at the beginning of the War.   At the end of 1917, the Guards were led by Captain, L.C. Pope; First Lieutenant, Dr. E.R. Jordan; Second Lieutenant, W.M. Breedlove.  Lieutenants Jordan and Breedlove had replaced C.F. Ludwig and R.D. Flynt.  Carl Hilbun was elected First Sergeant.

On June 5, 1918, a large celebration, complete with a parade, speeches and a flag raising ceremony, was held on the first Draft Registration Day.

Within a week, patriotic Laurens Countians had already purchased more than $30,000.00 in war bonds.  Some of Dublin’s more prominent Yankee Doodle Dandies, Dr. C, A, Hodges, Peter S. Twitty, Mayor of Dublin, Dr. Sidney Walker, Dr. Landrum Page, Judge  Roy A. Flynt and Theron Burts, Gratton Corker, and Turner Schaufele signed up to go over there for Uncle Sam.

Even Dublin's mayor, Peter S. Twitty, Jr., enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Both Twitty and his  successor, Ozzie Bashinski, donated their salaries to the Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A..
The first men drafted were:  Early L. Miller, Alva D. Rozar, R.C. Dawkins, Herbert T. Pullen, Charles G. Payne, Horace C. Spivey, Albert A. Rountree, John Johnson, Willie C. Smith, W.H. Horton, Gordon F. Daniel, C.B. Brantley, D.W. Knight, W.H. Flanders, A.G. Murray and Raymond Bennett.  The first alternates were:  J. Aurice Keen, Floyd Murray, C.P. Perry, James H. Pritchett, and George W. Jackson.

Among the first Negroes in Georgia to be drafted in the Army were a contingent of Laurens County men.  Many Negro soldiers were used primarily in support and transportation units.  Few were assigned to actual combat duties.

Civilians, Mrs. T.H. Smith, Dr. U.S. Johnson  and T.R. Ramsay led the local chapters of the American Red Cross.  By May 7, 1918, War Bond sales, under the direction of James M. Finn, exceeded a half million dollars.  Laurens County was ninth among Georgia counties in war bonds sold and third in Georgia counties which had exceed their quotas.

Not all Laurens Countians were excited about the entry of the United States into a world war.   By mid August, the city council was vowing to fight any anti draft meetings which might be held.   Chief among the opponents  was the highly respected and admired jeweler and optometrist, Dr. C.H. Kittrell, who was forced to resign his position on the school board at the request of the city council because of his unpatriotic  stand against the way America got into World War I.

Dublin and Laurens County furnished nearly 1100 men to the armed forces in World War I.   Corporal Walter Warren of Dexter was the first American aviator to be wounded in France in early December 1917.  

Cecil Preston Perry became the first Laurens Countian to die in action in the summer of 1918.  James Mason, who first served in the Mexican War of 1916,  was the first Dubliner to die in action. He died in France on July 29, 1918.  James L. Weddington, Jr., of the 6th Marine Corps Regiment, was awarded the French Croix de Guerre on July 10, 1918 for his heroism in carrying many wounded men off the battle field to field hospitals for several hours, risking his own safety in the process.  Lt. Col. Pat Stevens was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for extraordinary heroism in action south of Spitaal Bosschen, Belgium, on October 31, 1918.  Lt. Ossie F. Keen was awarded the Silver Star.

Sgt. Bill Brown of Dexter was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was one of only 34 Americans to be awarded the French Cross with a Star for his heroism on October 14, 1918 at the battle of Cote de Chattelon.    

Coley B. White survived the sinking of HMS Otranto.   Four hundred thirty-one other American and British soldiers and sailors did not.  Oscar K. Jolley survived a stint as a prisoner in a German P.O.W. camp.  Fortunately, the war was relatively short and only  fifty Laurens County men lost their lives.

Even as the war was ending the work of draft board continued.  It would be another six months before things in Dublin and Laurens County returned to some semblance of normality.

A nationwide influenza epidemic  killed many of the county's older citizens during the months before and after the end of World War I.  The county board of health closed schools and banned public meetings for several weeks. The epidemic finally waned in the spring of 1919.

Two lasting impacts of the war were the reorganization of the Dublin Guards, a state militia unit, as  Co. A. of the 1st Battalion of the Georgia National Guard.  The unit, which was the first National Guard unit in the Southeast,   has evolved to a support company and is still active today.  The company's first captain, Lewis C. Pope of Dublin, served as Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard in the 1920's.   Another, highly negative impact of war was the rapid decline of Dublin and Laurens County’s stature as one of the largest cities and counties in Georgia.

An ephemeral legacy of America’s victory against Germany came during the euphoria following the end of the war.  Enough residents of Academy Avenue convinced the city council to rename the avenue in honor of Woodrow Wilson.  A few weeks later, more prominent and powerful residents persuaded the council to reverse their hasty decision.  To compensate for the hasty faux pas, the city planted a tree on the grounds of the high school, which has long since died or cut down.


Some of the casualties from Laurens County.
















THE ROLL OF HONOR

 John W. Adams, George L. Attaway, Walter Berry, James Bradley, Leon F. Brannon, Fisher Brazeal,  Linton T. (Leonard) Bostwick, Joseph J. Bracewell, James Brown, Tom Watson Bryant, Sammie Burke, David Burton Camp, Freeman Coley, Ashley Collins, William Coney, Alvin T. Coxwell, Samuel Evans, James W. Flanders, Clarence David Fordham, Oscar Fulwood, John W. Green, James C. Hall, Archie Hinson, Syril P. Hodges, Delmar M. Howard, Ben F. Howell, Wallace C. Huffman, Jesse Kelley, Frazier Linder, Dewitt Lindsay, Ed McLendon, Walter E. Martin, James Mason, George McLoud, Jessie Mercer, Rayfield Meacham, George C. Mitchell, Robbie  New, Cecil Preston Perry, Wilbur Pope, John H. Sanders, Roger O. Sellers, John Stevens, Ed Stuckey, Louis M. Thompson, Edgar Towns, Fleming du Bignon Vaughn, Ed Washington, George Windham, James A. Williams, Henry K. Womack, Wayman Woodard, and McKinley Yopp.

Friday, August 22, 2014

SARAH FROST

SARAH FROST: A Tale of an Unlikely Veteran


Sarah Frost, Teacher of Geometry
and Life, Dublin High School, 1974



SARAH:
A TALE OF AN UNLIKELY VETERAN

Sarah was an average girl, one who grew up in the Great Depression and one who knew the value of hard work and a good education. Like many young women of her generation who were lucky enough to obtain a post secondary education, Sarah decided she wanted to teach. One of her first assignments found her in Pine Hall, North Carolina, a small community, not large enough to be called a town, and situated a good half hour or so north of Winston - Salem in those days of slower cars and dirt highways.

Returning from a trip back home to Monroe, Sarah was standing in the bus station on a Sunday afternoon in Winston-Salem. School was about to be out for Christmas holidays. A nervous voice came out of the loud speaker. The passengers paused. "All service personnel report to their bases immediately! The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor," the announcer quivered. Sarah and other stunned civilians were diverted to other buses while the soldiers and sailors boarded the first available buses back to their posts.

Following the dramatic attack on the United States, men across the country began signing up for volunteer service or selective service through the draft. The officials of the Stokes County draft board figured that teachers were good at taking names and putting them on lists, so Sarah and the other teachers were assigned to register the men of the county for the draft.

The young teacher had heard that a new organization was being formed to aid the war effort. The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established in February 1943. These women were given hundreds of tasks to perform, serving as radio operators, cooks, truck drivers, map makers and hundreds more. By D-day, five of six enlisted personnel serving in the Marine Corps Headquarters were women. Two of three Marines manning major posts in the United States and Hawaii were female in the last years of the war.

It was time to serve her country Sarah decided. She traveled down the road to Camp Lejeune, a bustling military installation, which two years earlier had been nothing but a sandy forest of natural pines along the Atlantic Seaboard Railroad. The First Marine Division had come there two years prior to train for the eminent war.

The camp would be Sarah's home for six weeks. Though it looked like a college campus with beautiful buildings, the Marine post was specifically designed to train men and women to go to war, which meant that some would kill and some would be killed. Her fellow Marine reservists were an assortment of women from all walks of life. Sarah and the other women were subjected to a battery of tests. When they weren't testing and being taught in some facet of military science, they marched.

They marched to eat. They marched to classes. They even practiced marching just to learn how to march with no destination. They stopped marching when the drill instructor was too tired to watch the women march any more. Sarah was taught how to walk, talk, run, eat, sleep, drink, dress and think like a Marine. After boot camp, Sarah wanted an assignment somewhere at an air base. To get there, she first had to go to Cherry Point, just across the river. Much to Sarah's astonishment when she arrived at Cherry Point, she was assigned duty in the kitchen. Turkeys for Thanksgiving, turkeys for Christmas, and leftover turkeys for New Year's Day are still ingrained in Sarah's memory of her first real days in the Marine Corps. She did get New Year's Eve off to celebrate the coming of the year 1944, a year in which the war, both in Europe and Pacific, would soon turn in favor of the Allies.

Just a few days later, Sarah rode a troop train to Oxford, Ohio, where she began taking courses in the operation of radios, learning how to type and send messages in Morse code. Sarah trained alongside her counterparts, the WAVES of the United States Navy. She had hoped that her marching days were behind her, but on nearly every Saturday the Marine women joined the WAVES and practically every sailor and marine on an old athletic field for a weekly parade. The marching subsided after that, although Sarah does remember a blistering hot day when she marched in her wool uniform, a disastrous result because the military too frequently goes by the calendar and not the thermometer when assigning uniforms for the day.

On May 27, 1944, Sarah was promoted to corporal and assigned to the Radio Material School in Omaha, Nebraska. She learned how to put radios together, take them apart and fix them when they were broken. Sarah delighted in the fact that she had two friends who accompanied her through both Camp Lejeune and Oxford. One was an English teacher. Sarah taught math before she enlisted.

In October 1944, Sarah traveled across the country to report for duty in Santa Barbara, California. During her 14-month stay in the Golden State, Sarah earned a third stripe on her sleeves. She continued to repair radios at naval and coast guard stations, enjoying the latter the best because of the great food they served. Southern California is, and was then, a great place to visit. Sarah and her friends often hitch hiked, with absolutely no fear of harm, to Los Angeles and San Francisco for a weekend of entertainment.

Just a dozen days before Christmas, with their discharges in their hands, Sarah, her friends Avis and Ann, Avis' nephew and his dog piled into a '39 Plymouth set out for their homes along the route. They drove through glamorous Los Angeles, the frozen deserts of Arizona and the snowy plains of Nebraska. They slept in their cars and $3 a night dingy cabins, though they did spend one warm night at Ann's house in Nebraska.

As Avis and Sarah got closer to North Carolina, they began to notice snow on the ground. But Sarah couldn't make herself believe there was any chance of a snowball at her home in Monroe. There was snow in Asheville. Sarah's hopes of a white Christmas swelled. As Sarah and Ann pulled into the Austin home in Monroe, it was snowing. It snowed so much that Ann had to spend a couple of days with the Austins, a delay she minded very little with all of the southern holiday hospitality which was heaped upon her. Sarah said goodbye to the last of her trio as she began the last leg of her cross country trip back home to Boston. The girls were home. The war was over. All was good in Nebraska, Boston and especially in Monroe, North Carolina where this young school teacher turned Marine was home for Christmas.

Sarah taught school in Winston-Salem for 17 years. She married Bill and moved to Dublin. I was lucky enough to have been her student for two of the twenty-one years she taught math in Dublin. Sarah had a passion for geometry and geometric shapes. At Dublin High she was legendary for her assignments of geometric art. While we struggled to construct our 3-D stellated polyhedron stars, we would have sworn such an arduous task would only have come from a demanding Marine Corps sergeant. Little did we know that our teacher was actually a Marine sergeant in World War II three decades before.

Like most members of "the greatest generation" whose greatest feats came after they left the service, Sarah's greatest contribution to our country came not in radio repair rooms, but in the classrooms of Dublin High School, where this meek, gentle, kind and caring teacher shaped our young minds and taught us the theorems of life. So on this Veteran's Day, please join me in saluting Mrs. Sarah Austin Frost, the most unlikely Marine sergeant I ever knew. And for the rest of you men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces, I thank you on behalf of a grateful nation for a job well done.

(Compiled from an interview of Sarah Frost by Mac Fowler for the Laurens County Historical Society)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

LAURENS COUNTY GEORGIANS ON THE VIETNAM WALL


     Inscribed on the black granite panels of the Vietnam Wall are the names of fifteen Laurens Countians.   The typical man was a 26 year old white male, a  Baptist, married and one hundred and sixty one days into his tour.  The average commissioned and non-commissioned officer was a 37 year old white male, a Baptist, married and more than one year into his tour.  The typical private was a 22 year old white male, a Baptist, single and 154 days into his tour.

The oldest Laurens Countian killed in Vietnam was forty four year old Lt. Col, Harlow Gary Clark, Jr.  The youngest was Cpl. David Lee Copeland, some two months short of his 20th birthday.  The first man killed was Sgt. First Class James A. Starley, who was killed in an explosion on Feb. 22, 1965.  The last man killed was PFC George Wayne Baker on June 9, 1970.  Both Specialist Four Bobby Finney and PFC George Baker were killed in action on the 21st day of their tour.

The highest ranking officers killed were Lt. Col. Harlow Gary Clark, Jr., who was killed when his helicopter crashed on March 7, 1966. Lt. Col. William Clyde Stinson, Jr., who was awarded two Silver Star Medals for heroism, was killed in his helicopter while attempting to rescue some of his wounded soldiers.




GEORGE WAYNE BAKER
Panel 09W - Line 31 

(Photo Missing)

Age: 20
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Apr 30, 1950
Date of Death June 9, 1970
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
PFC - E3 - Army - Regular
USARV

His tour began on May 20, 1970
Casualty was on Jun 9, 1970
In GO CONG, SOUTH VIETNAM
NON-HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
DROWNED, SUFFOCATED
Body was recovered.

Burial:
Robinson Chapel Cemetery
Dublin
Laurens County
Georgia, USA



JIMMY BEDGOOD
Panel 55E - Line 39 



Age: 21
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth May 20, 1946
Date of Death May 6, 1968
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
 SSGT - E6 - Army - Regular

Length of service 3 years
His tour began on Mar 24, 1967
Casualty was on May 6, 1968
In GIA DINH, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
OTHER CAUSES
Body was recovered

Graduate of East Laurens High School

United States Army Staff Sergeant. He died while serving in action in Gia Dinh, South Vietnam.

Burial:
Andersonville National Cemetery
Andersonville (Sumter County)
Sumter County
Georgia, USA
Plot: Section P Site 243



HARLOW GARY CLARK JR
Panel 05E - Line 128 


Age: 44
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Jul 4, 1921
Date of Death, May 7, 1 966
From: SAVANNAH, GA
Religion: METHODIST
Marital Status: Married
LTC - O5 - Army - Regular
1st Cav Div

Length of service 22 years
His tour began on Aug 18, 1965
Casualty was on Mar 7, 1966
In , SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, HELICOPTER - PILOT
AIR LOSS, CRASH ON LAND
Body was recovered


Family:
 Parents:
  Harlow Gary Clark (1893 - 1964)
  Flora V Clark (1896 - 1978)

 Siblings:
  Clemoth Lamar Clark (1915 - 1984)*
  Pansy Eudora Clark Watts (1919 - 1995)*
  Harlow Gary Clark (1921 - 1966)

Married Mary Y. Clark

Burial:
Jeffersonville Cemetery
Jeffersonville
Twiggs County
Georgia, USA




JAMES EDWARD COOK
Panel 06E - Line 129 

Age: 29
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Sep 4, 1936
Date of Death, April 23, 1966
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
SGT - E5 - Army - Regular
101st ABN Div

Length of service 12 years
His tour began on Dec 31, 1965
Casualty was on Apr 23, 1966
In , SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
GUN, SMALL ARMS FIRE
Body was recovered

Burial:
Brewton Cemetery
Laurens County
Georgia, USA



JAMES ENNIS COOPER
Panel 56E - Line 37 

Age: 24
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Feb 10, 1944
From: DUBLIN, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
Graduated East Laurens High School, 1963
SP4 - E4 - Army - Selective Service
1st Infantry Division

Length of service 1 years
His tour began on Aug 10, 1967
Casualty was on May 8, 1968
In BINH DUONG, SOUTH VIETNAM
Hostile, died of wounds, GROUND CASUALTY
MULTIPLE FRAGMENTATION WOUNDS
Body was recovered






DAVID LEE COPELAND
Panel 17W - Line 22 


Age: 19
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Nov 29, 1949
Date of Death, October 1, 1969
From: DUDLEY, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Single
CPL - E4 - Army - Regular

Length of service 1 years
His tour began on Apr 4, 1969
Casualty was on Oct 1, 1969
In BA XUGEN, SOUTH VIETNAM
NON-HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
DROWNED, SUFFOCATED
Body was recovered

United States Army Corporal. He was killed in action after he drowned in Ba Xugen, South Vietnam.

Burial:
New Providence Cemetery
Cadwell
Laurens County
Georgia, USA




BOBBY LEE FINNEY
Panel 22E - Line 40 

Age: 21
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Jul 4, 1945
From: BOSTON, MA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Single
SP4 - E4 - Army - Regular
173rd Airborne Brigade
Length of service 1 years
His tour began on Jun 2, 1967
Casualty was on Jun 22, 1967
In KONTUM, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
GUN, SMALL ARMS FIRE
Body was recovered

Burial:
Laurens Memorial Gardens
East Dublin
Laurens County
Georgia, USA




JAMES LINDER JR
Panel 19W - Line 17  

(Photo Missing)

Age: 21
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Jun 6, 1948
From: MIAMI, FL
Religion: PROTESTANT
Marital Status: Single
PFC - E3 - Army - Regular
1st Cav Division (AMBL)

Length of service 0 years
His tour began on Jun 22, 1969
Casualty was on Aug 12, 1969
In QUANG TIN, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
MULTIPLE FRAGMENTATION WOUNDS
Body was recovered





EDWARD BYRON LINDSEY
Panel 54W - Line 17 

Age: 23
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Mar 8, 1945
From: DUBLIN, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Single
SP4 - E4 - Army - Selective Service
9th Infantry Division

Length of service 0 years
His tour began on Dec 22, 1967
Casualty was on Jun 29, 1968
In GO CONG, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
MISADVENTURE
Body was recovered

Buried in Memorial Gardens, Dublin, Georgia






J.D.  MILLER
Panel 13W - Line 19

(Photo Missing)

 Age: 29
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth May 28, 1940
Date of Death, Feb. 16, 1970
From: MONTROSE, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
SFC - E7 - Army - Regular
101st Airborne Division

Length of service 6 years
His tour began on Jul 17, 1969
In THUA THIEN, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
MULTIPLE FRAGMENTATION WOUNDS
Body was recovered




BILLY (BILLIE)  MIMBS
Panel 23E - Line 82 

Age: 19
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Mar 5, 1948
Date of Death July 18, 1967
From: LOLLIE, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Single
PFC - E3 - Army - Regular
9th Infantry Division

Length of service 1 years
His tour began on Jan 20, 1967
Casualty was on Jul 17, 1967
In LONG AN, SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
GUN, SMALL ARMS FIRE
Body was recovered

Birth: Mar. 5, 1948
Death: Jul. 17, 1967
Ha Nam, Vietnam

United States Army Private First Class served with Company B, 47th Infantry, Ninth Infantry Division. He was killed in action from small arms fire while serving in South Vietnam.

Burial:
Union Baptist Cemetery
East Dublin
Laurens County
Georgia, USA





FELTON LEE MIMS
Panel 29W - Line 21 

Age: 22
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Oct 14, 1946
Date of Death, Mar 12, 1969
From: DALLAS, TX
Religion: PROTESTANT
Marital Status: Single
RD3 - E4 - Navy - Regular

Length of service 3 years
Casualty was on Mar 12, 1969
In GO CONG, SOUTH VIETNAM
NON-HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
DROWNED, SUFFOCATED
Body was recovered

Birth: Oct. 14, 1946
Death: Mar. 12, 1969


Burial:
Restland Memorial Park
Dallas
Dallas County
Texas, USA
Plot: Field of Honor





EDDIE LEE SMITH
Panel 22W - Line 8 

Age: 26
Race: Negro
Sex: Male
Date of Birth May 29, 1943
Date of Death, June 9, 1969
From: RENTZ, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
1LT - O2 - Army - Reserve

Length of service 2 years
His tour began on Dec 4, 1968
Casualty was on Jun 9, 1969
In THUA THIEN, SOUTH VIETNAM
Hostile, died of wounds, GROUND CASUALTY
ARTILLERY, ROCKET, or MORTAR
Body was recovered




JAMES ARTHUR STARLEY
Panel 01E - Line 94 

Age: 39
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Aug 1, 1925
Date of Death, Feb. 22, 1965
From: DUBLIN, GA
Religion: PROTESTANT
Marital Status: Married

FC - E7 - Army - Regular
MACV Advisors

Length of service 14 years
Casualty was on Feb 22, 1965
In , SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
BOMB EXPLOSION
Body was recovered

Birth: Wilkinson County
Georgia, USA

Family:
 Parents:
  James Harrison Starley (1880 - 1962)
  Mary Carolyn Elizabeth Daniel Starley (1883 - 1962)

 Spouse:
  Anne Lola Starley (1930 - 2010)

 Siblings:
  Pansy Bell Starley Wheeler (1904 - 1980)*
  Ralph Walter Starley (1905 - 1977)*
  Mills Jackson ''M.J.'' Starley (1910 - 1959)*
  Roy Grady Starley (1912 - 1977)*
  Lillian Starley Tarpley (1916 - 2013)*
  Otis H. Starley (1918 - 1971)*
  James Arthur Starley (1925 - 1965)


Burial:
Northview Cemetery
Dublin
Laurens County
Georgia, USA




William CLYDE IKE STINSON, JR. 
Panel 30W - Line 32 

Age: 40
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Date of Birth Sep 8, 1928
Date of Death May 3, 1969
From: DUBLIN, GA
Religion: BAPTIST
Marital Status: Married
LTC - O5 - Army - Regular
198th Inf Bde

Length of service 18 years
His tour began on Sep 3, 1968
Casualty was on Mar 3, 1969
In , SOUTH VIETNAM
HOSTILE, HELICOPTER - NONCREW
AIR LOSS, CRASH ON LAND
Body was recovered

Burial:
United States Military Academy Post Cemetery
West Point
Orange County
New York, USA