Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016


Laurens County's first chain motel, the
Holiday Inn at U.S. 441/319.  The motel was 
opened in 1967 before the interstate highway
was opened.

Friday, September 23, 2016



There is a time when young men yearn to wander - to tramp around the country or jaunt half way around the world to seek out the glories of fame, to acquire the riches of great fortunes or to simply experience the thrills of adventure.  As old men, they revel in telling the tall tales of their glorious youth to any eager listener.

This is the story of one such man, known to millions around the world as “Trader Horn,” but rarely by his Christian birth name of “Albert Aloysius Smith.”  Just over a century ago, Horn wandered into the Southeastern United States, and, in the particular, Wilcox County in southern Central Georgia.

Born on June 21, 1861 in Lancashire, England, Albert’s parents also named him Aloysius for that very day known as Saint Aloysius Day in the Catholic Church.  Often changing his last name, Albert settled on the surname of Horn.  Some knew him as “Zambezi Jack.”

Known as “Uncle Pat” to his newfound friends in Abbeville and Rochelle and most points in between, Horn was first greeted by Jonathan Walker in Abbeville about the year 1913.  Walker, a wealthy man who did not dress the part, was thought to have been another wandering vagrant by Horn, who kindly offered his assistance to his new friend.   Walker, in return, surprised Horn with the offer of using one of his vacant houses as Horn’s shelter from the elements.   Horn slept on a skimpy mat and did his own cooking with whatever utensils he could muster.

“Uncle Pat” earned his keep by drawing four dollars a week working for J.P. Carter as a brick mason.  To support his meager income as a laborer, Horn began to paint landscapes and other subjects.    Some of his paintings survived for many decades in at least one local home.  He painted another  for sheriff Ben Edwards.  In his comprehensive article on “Trader Horn,” Dan Magill, father of University of Georgia’s legendary journalist and booster of the same name,  wrote in a March 25, 1928 article for the Macon Telegraph that Horn sold kitchen trinkets.

Not too long after Horn came to town, his daughter, Marie Scales and her son Sandy immigrated from France to the United States as World War I began to escalate.  At Horn’s invitation, Marie and Sandy came to live with Horn.  Immediately Mrs. Scales began to spruce up her father’s shack into a decent home in the sawmill community of Kramer for her son and herself.  Her husband, Will, would arrive several months later.

In his landmark work ,”Tramp Royal: The True Story of Trader Horn,” Tim Couzens quotes Sandy Scales, Horn’s grandson, who tells of a woman, “She arrived at the house where Aloysius and the Scales family lived. The boards rattled as she walked across the porch, and the shack seemed to be in a terrible condition. It was probably either one of those houses of the Gress's employees or part of the convicts' accommodation!  But she was astounded when Will Scales came out wearing a tuxedo with tails! He was 'like a prince'. Mrs Hillis talks of the regal way in which the Scales family carried themselves even though they were considered refugees by the townspeople.”

Couzens believed that Horn's paintings were influenced by his adventures in  Africa adventures as well as his brief stay in Wilcox County.  Horn and his family were well known and like.  His daughter Marie performed musical concerts and worked as a house keeper in a local boarding house.   Marie inherited some of her father’s skills as an artist.

But what the townsfolk of Rochelle and Abbeville remembered the most were the interesting and thrilling stories. Horn, could mesmerize any crowd, of all ages and all races with his stories of adventures into the darkest and most dangerous regions of Africa, although according to his former boss, J.P.Carter, he was “never one to socialize” in his two plus year stay in Rochelle.

Horn’s usual  podium was around the cracker barrel of the store of W.S. Blackshear in Rochelle.  Eventually, Horn would tour the great halls of the United States and his native England telling the stories of his greatest adventures.

Just about a decade after he left Wilcox County, Horn sat down and began to write the story of his life and his adventures in Africa.  He called his book, “ Trader Horn; being the life and works of Aloysius Horn, an "Old Visitor.”  A few years later, with the aid of Ethelreda Lewis, the book was published by Simon & Schuster and became a best seller in 1927.

“This is the stuff of legends - the true story of the life of Trader Horn.  Down on his luck in his old age, Horn recounted his wild youth as an ivory trader in Central Africa, journeying into jungles teaming with buffalo, gorillas and man-eating leopards; liberating a princess from captivity; navigating treacherous rivers; freeing slaves, and meeting Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. Trader Horn is a vivid and unforgettable portrait of a vanished period in African history. An amazing book .... It cast a spell over me,” wrote a book reviewer for the New York Times.

The book was made into a movie in 1931.  The movie made Hollywood history as the first  non-documentary movie ever filmed in the continent of Africa.  W.S. Van Dyke directed the film which starred Harry Carey, Sr. and Edwina Booth.  Booth became so ill during the filming that she never made another film.  Co-starring as “Peru” was Duncan Renaldo, who went on to fame in the 1950s as the “Cisco Kid.”

Albert Aloyisious “Trader” Horn died in June 21, 1931, five days after his 70th birthday.   The movie of his life, which was remade in 1973,  was released that same year as a fitting eulogy.   His family never took up the offer of his first Abbeville friend, Jonathan Walker, to have Horn  buried in his family cemetery.

I will not attempt to tell you about the African  adventures of the man they called “Trader Horn.” Sufficed to say that you will need to buy the book and read Horn’s own words.


This article was written in tribute to my great grandfather, Robert E. Stubbs, Sr., a farmer, once successful saw mill operator and a contemporary of Trader Horn in Rochelle. “Pop Stubbs’‘ was a teller of tale tales too.  His greatest adventure may have been when his son, “Uncle Billy,” graduated from West Point and “Pop” invaded the kitchen of the U.S. Military Academy to  promptly instruct the northern cooks on the proper way to cook grits. He too suffered financial hard times when he filed bankruptcy and lost his three saw mills in Abbeville, Hazlehurst and Surrency, not to mention the devastating loss of the cotton crop during the World War I and even more disastrous losses during the Great Depression.  If I could turn back the hands of time, I would go back and listen for weeks  to “Pop Stubbs” and his first wife’s kinsman, Guy Fuller, a legendary story teller of Wilcox County as they told their tallest of tales.  


Wednesday, September 21, 2016



A Man to Whom Friendship Was Paramount    

History was ade in Georgia's capitol building when for the first time ever, the State of Georgia recognized and honored an African-American Confederate Soldier. Governor Sonny Perdue signed his annual proclamation honoring Confederate Memorial Day by recognizing Bill Yopp, a native of Laurens County, for his contributions to the State of Georgia. Bill Yopp is more than just a black Confederate soldier. Bill's life was not just that of a soldier, a porter, or a servant. His life was centered on the essential element of human life. His friendships transcended slavery, racism and politics. To Bill, friendship was paramount to any barriers set in his path of life.

William H. "Bill" Yopp, the fourth of eight siblings, was born in Laurens County, Georgia. Like his parents, he was a slave belonging to the family of Jeremiah Yopp. The Yopp family owned two major plantations. One was located in the western part of Dublin centered around the Brookwood Subdivision. A second was located along the eastern banks of Turkey Creek near the community known as Moore's Station. Other small plantations were scattered over the county. Jeremiah Yopp assigned Bill to his son, Thomas. Bill once said that he followed Thomas like "Mary's little lamb." The two instantly became friends. They fished, hunted and played together. Bill's childhood, while stifled by slavery, was molded by education and religion within the plantation, which included regular church services.

On January 16, 1861, John W. Yopp attended the Convention of Secession at the state capital in Milledgeville. Laurens Countians voted to side with the Cooperationists who favored remaining in the Union. Yopp, the largest plantation owner in western Laurens County, was joined by Dr. Nathan Tucker, a wealthy plantation owner from northeastern Laurens County. Dr. Tucker, a northerner by birth, voted to remain in the Union. Yopp cast his vote with the majority who voted for secession.

The first company of Confederate Soldiers in Laurens County was organized on July 9th, 1861 as the Blackshear Guards. The company eventually became attached to the 14th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Thomas Yopp was elected First Lieutenant. Nine days later Lt. Yopp was promoted to Captain when Rev. W.S. Ramsay was elected Lt. Colonel of the regiment. Bill desperately wanted to join Lieutenant Yopp. So, he enlisted in the Blackshear Guards as the company drummer. Marching in front of company going into battle was not the best place to be, especially if you cared about living. After the company completed its training in Atlanta, they moved to Lynchburg, Virginia just after the Battle of the First Manassas. In August, the company was sent to West Virginia, where they fought under the command of Gen. John B. Floyd, a former Secretary of War in the Buchanan Administration. Gen. Robert E. Lee was in overall command of the West Virginia campaign.

Bill often found himself between the battle lines. He often said "I had no inclination to go to the Union side, as I did not know the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers I did know, and I believed then as now, tried and true friends are better than friends you do not know." On several occasions, Private Yopp was sent out on foraging missions. Bill ceased to forage for food because his Captain and friend found it to be "wrong doing." Bill obtained a brush and box of shoe blackening and began to shine the shoes of the men of the regiment. He soon began performing other services for the men. Bill charged ten cents, no matter what the service was. The nickname of "Ten Cent Bill" was penned on Bill. Bill often had more money than anyone in the company. His fellow company members took delight in teaching him to read and write. When he was sick, they took care of him.

Bill had a case of home sickness. Captain Yopp paid for his trip home. Bill realized that his place was back  ith Captain Yopp in Virginia. During the winter of 1861, the company became part of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The first battle of the peninsular campaign of 1862 took place on May 31st.  The 14th Georgia, under the command of Gen. Wade Hampton, got into a bloody fight with the Federal forces. Four Confederate Generals were wounded or killed.

Captain Yopp was also wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines. Bill comforted Captain Yopp and accompanied him to the field hospital. After a short stay in a Richmond Hospital, Bill went back to Laurens County with the Captain, who recuperated from his injury and went back to join the company by the fall of 1862.

At the bloody siege of Fredericksburg, Captain Yopp fell when a shell burst over him. Again Bill was there, coming to the aid of his friend. Captain Yopp recovered during the winter. The company saw Stonewall Jackson being carried off to a field hospital at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Bill witnessed the pure carnage of Gettysburg from the company's position on Seminary Ridge. The Blackshear Guards missed most of the fighting those three days in July, 1863. On August 31, 1863 Capt. Yopp cashiered, or bought out his commission. He returned to the ranks as a private until April 2, 1864. Captain Yopp transferred to the Confederate Navy on board the cruiser "Patrick Henry." Bill was not allowed to go with Thomas Yopp.

By some accounts, Bill returned home until the close of the war. By another, and more official, record, he was present at Gen. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. In May of 1865, he learned of Captain Yopp's return home. He left just in time to see the wagon train of Confederate President Jefferson Davis during his attempted escape through Laurens County.

Times were hard for people of both races. Bill worked as a share cropper until 1870. He went to Macon, taking a job as a bell boy at the Brown House. There he became acquainted with many of the influential men of Georgia. Bill accompanied the owner of the hotel back home to Connecticut. After his duties were finished, he was given train fare to return home. Bill became fascinated with New York City and worked there for a short time. In 1873, Bill returned home for a short time before taking a position with the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. He fell ill with yellow fever and returned home to recuperate and spend some time with Captain Yopp.

Bill returned to New York where he worked as a porter in an Albany Hotel.  There he again met the influential men of the state. He briefly served a family in California. In his travels, Bill visited the capitals of Europe. He worked for ten years as a porter in the private car of the president of Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Bill then worked for the United States Navy aboard the "Collier Brutus". His travels amounted to a trip around the world.

As the world was at war for the first time, Bill realized that old age had crept upon him. He returned home and found his friend Captain Yopp in poverty. Captain Yopp was about to enter the Confederate Soldier's Home in Atlanta. Bill took a job on the Central of Georgia Railroad. During World War I, Bill was given a place to live at Camp Wheeler near Macon. He made regular visits to the Soldier's Home providing Captain Yopp with some of his money along with fruits and other treats. Bill won the admiration of the officers at Camp Wheeler, who presented him with a gold watch upon his departure. Bill's generosity toward Capt. Yopp soon spread to all of the soldiers in the home. He enlisted the help of the editor of The Macon Telegraph for aid in a fund raising campaign. Bill and his friends were able to raise funds for each veteran at Christmas time. The campaign became more successful every year. The Dublin Courier Herald contributed to the campaign in 1919 when the amount given to each veteran was three dollars. Bill took time each  Christmas to speak to the veterans in the chapel of the home. The veterans were so impressed they presented him a medal in March of 1920. Bill had a book published about his life. The books were sold with the proceeds going to the soldiers in the home.

Bill and Thomas Yopp at Confederate Veteran's Home

Captain Yopp's health failed. The Board of Trustees voted to allow Bill a permanent place at the home. Bill stayed at his friend's side, just as he had done in the muddy trenches of Virginia nearly sixty years before. Captain Yopp died on the morning of January 23rd, 1920. Bill, now in his eighties, gave the funeral address.  He reminisced about the good times and his affection for his friend. Bill was a popular member of the Atlanta Camp No. 159 of the United Confederate Veterans, who held their meetings every third Monday at the capitol. Bill died on June 3, 1936. He was buried with his fellow soldiers at the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. After the body of Amos Rucker was disinterred to be laid next to the body of his wife, Bill became the lone African - American soldier of the Confederate Army to lie in the cemetery. His gravestone provided by the State of Georgia reads: