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

Monday, November 30, 2015


An American Hero

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks portrays Captain John Miller, a fictional high school teacher from Pennsylvania.  After surviving D-day, Captain Miller is given the assignment to find Private James Ryan. Ryan lost two brothers in the invasion of Normandy and his only other brother was killed in the South Pacific a week before.  Army regulations required that the sole surviving brother be sent back home.  Along the way, Miller and his squad have to keep fighting the war.  In the end, Captain Miller achieved his mission. Private Ryan was saved.

In real life, Laurens County had its share of teachers serving their country.  At home, the female teachers led the Victory Corps programs.  They worked with other women, adults and students alike in making bandages, sponges, and surgical dressings by the tens of thousands.   Teachers supervised the selling of war bonds and worked with their students in a variety of activities to help the effort to win the war. The male teachers, those young enough and fit enough to join the service, enlisted.

Others, like Captain Miller,  didn't make it home.  This is story of a Dexter High teacher and how he gave the last full measure of devotion to save our country.

Henry Will Jones was born about 1917  in what became Lanier County just as our country was entering World War I.  After graduation from Lanier High in 1934, Jones continued his education at Georgia Military College (1935), Abraham Baldwin College, and the University of Georgia, where he graduated in 1940.  With his bachelor of science diploma in his hand, Jones accepted a position as the first vocational-agricultural teacher at Dexter High School on July 1, 1940.  The school, in need of a coach for their six-man football team, asked Jones to be the head football coach.  On Sunday, Jones attended the Dexter Baptist Church, where he taught the Intermediate Boys Sunday School classes.   When he needed to rest and eat a fine meal, he boarded with Mr. and Mrs. W.G. Smith.

The fateful day of December 7, 1941 came.  America was at war.  Jones left his teaching position to enter the United States Marine Corps.  Jones reported to the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, where he graduated as a second lieutenant on August 25, 1942.  From Quantico, Henry Will was sent to New River, North Carolina, where he completed his training as a paratrooper in October 1942.

Before he was transferred to San Diego, California, Jones spent a few days with his family and friends back in Georgia.  In December 1942, Henry Will was shipped from the west coast to the killing area of the South Pacific.  Holding the rank of first lieutenant, Jones was attached to the first Paratroop Division of the First Amphibious Division.  Lt. Jones was stationed at New Caledonia until September 1943.  He landed on Guadalcanal in September and from there went to Bougainville.
While in this zone, he saw service and suffered a slight wound.   Henry Will remained in Bougainville until January 12, 1944, when his paratrooper detachment was sent home to be organized into the 5th Marine Division.  As the war progressed, paratroopers were no longer needed.  Jones and his buddies were retrained to be regular infantry fighting Marines.

Captain Jones landed with his outfit at San Diego on February 7, 1942.  Ten days later, he was back home in Lakeland on a well-earned leave.  The following day, Lt. Jones became Captain Jones.  Before his return to the Marines, Captain Jones drove to Dexter for one last visit.

Captain Henry Will Jones returned to the West Coast and was assigned the Fifth Marine Division, which was stationed at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, California.  The captain was given the chance to remain in the country for an indefinite time to participate in training of recruits. Since he wasn't married and had no children, Henry Will decided to go into combat and let someone with a wife and kids stay in San Diego and train new Marines.

Captain Jones' first new assignment was as commander of Company I,  3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Division.  He led his company in the invasion of Peliliu Island, the main island of the Palau Islands.  His last two letters were dated October 12th and 13th.  On October 18th, 1944, Captain Henry Will Jones was reported killed in action when his tank was struck by enemy aerial bomb buried just beneath the surface of the ground.

In honor of his admirable valor, the Secretary of the Navy posthumously awarded the Silver State Medal to Jones' family.  On March 24, 1997, the State of Georgia honored Captain Henry Will Jones with the naming of a bridge in his home county of Lanier.   The resolution read:

WHEREAS, Captain Henry Will Jones of Lanier County was killed in action on October 18, 1944, while serving as a  commanding officer of a United States Marine Corps company in the South Pacific during World War II; and he was awarded  posthumously the Silver Star Medal by the Secretary of the  Navy in recognition of his exemplary valor; and

WHEREAS, he had graduated from the University of Georgia and was an instructor in the Laurens County school system when he enlisted in the military following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; and he completed officers candidate school, paratrooper training, and advanced military training with  the Marine Corps and was recognized as a distinguished officer with considerable potential; and

WHEREAS, his fearless leadership, great personal valor, and  unrelenting devotion to duty in the face of extreme danger  contributed substantially to the success of his division in  capturing a vital stronghold; and his courage and determination upheld the highest traditions of military service; and

WHEREAS, he enjoyed nature and had a strong attachment to the region in which he had spent his youth exploring the rivers, forests, and wildlife; and he often expressed his dream of returning to the Alapaha River in his letters home to his family; and

WHEREAS, it is most fitting and appropriate to honor this  outstanding young officer who so gallantly gave his life for  his country.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that the bridge on Georgia Highway 37 that crosses  that portion of the Alapaha River in Lanier County be  designated the Captain Henry Will Jones Bridge.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commissioner of  Transportation is authorized and directed to place signs at  appropriate locations along the highway designating the  bridge over the Alapaha River as the Captain Henry Will  Jones Bridge.

        A Henry Will Jones chapter of the Future Teachers of America was established at Dexter High School.

       Jones was inducted into the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

Friday, November 27, 2015


When you travel north from Dublin toward Milledgeville,  don't take the main road.  You miss wonderful things along the main roads.   When you come to the fork of the Toomsboro Road, take it.  Travel northward up and down the rolling red clay hills, through thick pine forests and by wooden 19th century homes and places of worship.  Soon, you will find Toomsboro, a town nearly frozen in time.

The signs there will tell you that many of the old businesses and homes are for sale.  They even say that the whole town is for sale.  Poppycock(!) so say the town's residents. They haven't given up on the once bustling railroad town on the Central of Georgia Railroad in southeastern Wilkinson County.  And, neither should you.  Get out of your car and walk around the town.  It will make you think back and remember  the small towns of your past.  If you are as sentimental as I am, it just might make you cry and yearn for the good ol' days.   

To describe what you will see would take too many articles.  That is a story for another day and another time.  I will leave that to you and your imagination.  To tell you the whole story of this tiny village would fill volumes.  So for now, I will throw you some tiny Toomsboro tidbits - stories of the forgotten, insignificant, yet memorable  times in her past, when life was good and troubles seemed to be few.

Toomsboro was always a railroad town.  So folks there were used to travelers passing through, some spending the day or spending the night.  But, it was on a frosty March morning in 1922  when some 200 passengers of the Central Georgia felt their train come to a complete stop in the middle of the night.  It seems that the Marsh bridge over Commissioners Creek had washed out some three miles west of town.   With no particular place to go, some two hundred stranded, sleepy, angry and hungry passengers descended on the town square in a way which hadn't been rivaled since General Sherman and his evil invading horde rambled through in the autumn of 1864. 

Town people were both astonished and pleased to see the swarm of well-dressed strangers in their friendly little town.   The thought occurred to T.H. Bridwell, a leading merchant in the town, that these folks might be ready for a hearty breakfast.   A frantic call for volunteers went out.  Ladies, still dressed in their night clothes, turned on their ovens, scoured their kitchens and cleaned out the hen houses to prepared a breakfast fitting for company.   In the town's two hotels, there was scarcely a spot to sit, stand or snooze.  

Bridwell, with his thinking cap already on his head,  thought that the first order of business was to get a group of women together to show the town's visitors what real southern hospitality was all about.  As soon as all the breakfast dishes were cleared, a squad of Toomsboro's most gentile ladies leaped into action.  It was too bad that Mr. G.W. Webster's legendary 300 pound pumpkins weren't ripe yet.  The whole town would have had plenty of pie that day. At noon, in Bridwell's Ford dealership store room, was served "the most delicious and appetizing luncheons ever set out in Toomsboro," a town known far and wide for its great cooks. 

Eventually, the bridge was repaired and the passengers returned to the train and made their way to their destination.  They left Toomsboro with their stomachs full, smiles on their faces and ready for a long winter's nap. 

Such wasn't the case some thirteen months earlier when an uninvited guest sent most of the townsfolk scrambling for safety.   A strong, aggravated bull was standing in line to be weighed. Wanting no solitary part of what was about to happen to his hide, the bad bovine bolted from his captors and ran amuck headlong for the plate glass window of Mr. E.M. Boone's general store.  

At the last minute, the crazed cow avoided a greater calamity, but not before nipping the body of farmer S.A. Lord, who breathed a sigh of relief after the no-horned bovine knocked him to the ground. 

In the summer of 1916, W. I. Dixon brought into town a piece of a remarkable animal.  Dixon was showing off the talon of a large owl which his son had killed in the swamp of Commissioner's Creek.  With a wing span of six feet and a head nearly as large as that of a man, each set of the bird's claws measured just shy of half a foot wide.

Dixon was somewhat of an outstanding fox hunter.  Dixon and a few of his friends were out in the woods south of town looking for foxes.  Dixon's dogs got on the scent of a young fox which ran the dogs until the fox was hemmed up between a fence line and Gray Sanders.  With every avenue of escape blocked, the wily fox took his only chance of escaping and ran straight toward Dixon.  

Dixon threw his hat directly at the fleeing fox and by a most miraculous chance, the fox ran right into the inside of the big wool hat and began to roll over and over again.  Dixon dismounted his horse and captured his prey with his bare hands.  Dixon took the fox home to help train his trusty pack of fox hounds.

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place.  Well, we all know that old maximum is not always true.  

The people of Toomsboro never expected how the old rule would be broken in their town. In the early autumn  of 1922, the newly constructed, modern day, brick high school opened in Toomsboro     In the year after the end of World War II, the school was struck by lightning, burned to the ground and rebuilt.  In the summer of 1946, lightning struck twice.  The winds of a strong summer storm knocked down walls and cracked the plastered ceiling in several rooms.

A familiar stranger returned to Toomsboro after a 24-year absence.  W.C. Horn enlisted in the Carswell Guards and served in the Confederate Army until the Battle of Gettysburg. During the retreat, Horn got into an argument with a superior officer and deserted his command to join the Federal army.  At the end of the war, Horn wrote a letter to his wife, but the letter never arrived.  Thinking her husband was dead, Mrs. Horn remarried to J.S. Brady.    As he stood at the doorstep, Horn asked for a  Mrs. Horn.  With a thick beard and bent over with age, Horn was unrecognizable until a further look made the confused widow faint and collapse to the floor. 

At the end of a rainbow is a pot of gold, or so they say.  In the summer of 1889, Ellen Powell, who was picking cotton on the farm of N.B. Baum ( later of Laurens County,)  lost her life's savings; six dollars in silver coins.   Many months later, Powell returned to the same field to knock down some cotton stalks.  After a spring freshet, Powell saw a rainbow at the far end of the field.  For an instant, she thought of her lost fortune.  N. Hughes, the overseer, told Ellen to walk toward the rainbow where she would find her money.  Ellen kept walking, keeping her faith in Hughes' words.  And, sure enough at the point where the rainbow originally appeared to end, Ellen looked down and found her little bag containing her lost coins.

You don't have to wait until you see a rainbow near Toomsboro to find a pot of gold. You probably won't find  any  gold there at all.  What you will find instead  is a treasure which my words cannot sufficiently describe.   

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Thanksgiving night has traditionally been a good night to see a good movie. With the release of the 24th James Bond movie, Spectre, let us take a look back at the advertisements for the first four James Bond movies to be shown at the Martin Theater in Dublin a half century ago.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Check out these 1955 prices in Dublin grocery stores
 for the makings of a fine Thanksgiving Dinner.
From the archives of the Dublin Courier Herald
Presented Courtesy of the 
Laurens County Historical Society and Dublin Laurens Museum . 
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When did Thanksgiving begin?  Many claim it began in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in 1621.  Proud Virginians have a strong claim that it was on the banks of the James River two years prior when American colonists first celebrated their blessings on a day of Thanksgiving.  The Northerners won the Civil War.  So, to the victors go the rights to write our history.  So, the traditional origin of Thanksgiving features the Pilgrims and Indians of New England.   You might be surprised to learn that a Laurens County man was the first to urge the adoption of the holiday in Georgia.

In 1619, a group of English settlers arrived at the Berkeley Plantation on the James River, southeast of present day Richmond, Virginia. Their charter of settlement provided, "We ordain that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for the plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."  That first celebration was held on December 4, 1619.

Nearly two years later in the fall of 1621, the settlers of the Massachusetts colony joined with their Indian friends in celebrating their good fortune during their first year on the North American continent.  The holiday was primarily celebrated on an irregular basis. George Washington proclaimed a Thanksgiving in 1795.  It would be nearly another quarter of a century before northeastern states revived the erratic celebrations.

The authorities of Augusta, Georgia proclaimed one of the first local Thanksgiving  observations in Georgia on Friday, November 7, 1823.  Members of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches joined together for three services to thank God for  His tender mercies over all the works and in whose favors, all are partakers.

The origin of Georgia's first official celebration of Thanksgiving Day came in 1826.  Governor George M. Troup, in his annual message to the Georgia legislature, asked the assembly to proclaim a statewide celebration of Thanksgiving Day.  Troup, a resident of Laurens County, was one of the most powerful and admired chief executives of Georgia in  the first half of the 19th Century.  Troup urged the legislators to set a day aside to render from time to time homage and adoration so justly due to that Being, who is the donor of all good.

Robert Rea, of Greene County, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on November 18, 1826 to set apart a day statewide for prayer and thanksgiving.  Madison County Senator Robert Groves introduced a similar resolution five days later in the upper house in acquiescence to the Governor's request.   Both houses adopted the resolution on December 4th.

Legislators acknowledged the many undeserved favors bestowed by the hand of providence.  In paying honor to the Almighty, the legislature authorized the governor to set forth measures to establish a state wide day of Thanksgiving to be held on the first Thursday of the next year, January 4, 1827.

On the 8th of December, Gov. Troup urged all denominations to assemble in their respective churches and celebrate the day with penitential hearts and uplifted hands to make grateful acknowledgment for the benefactions  received from the Universal Parent.

Thanksgiving celebrations continued to be sporadic in Georgia until the 1840s.  The corporate authorities of Savannah determined that November 25, 1841 be a day of public Thanksgiving.  Daniel Hook, the Mayor of Augusta, proclaimed that the last day of 1841, would be set aside as "A day of Public Thanksgiving to Almighty God for blessing our city with its accustomed good health."

On December 19, 1842, the Georgia legislature officially adopted the first Friday of November in 1843 to be a day of Thanksgiving, to be attended with appropriate religious services in the several churches throughout the state.   The statewide observance once again changed in 1845, when Governor George W.  Crawford proclaimed  the 13th day of February as a day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, in congratulating the people of Georgia on the introduction of this time-honored custom of the Eastern States.   A dozen years later, the legislature determined that the celebration be held on November 26, 1857, the fourth Friday of that month.

Known more for her authorship of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, is more responsible than anyone for the national celebration of Thanksgiving.   Mrs. Hale, is probably one of the most unknown successful women of the 19th Century.  She was the first to urge equal education for women and the first to start day care nurseries for working women.  And, Mrs. Hale was the first woman to serve as an editor of a woman's magazine.   It was Mrs. Hale who wrote to urge President Abraham Lincoln to issue his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863.

It would take another eighty years before the date was made uniform across the nation.  Amazingly, the designation of Thanksgiving Day as being the fourth Thursday of November, was not officially adopted by the Federal government until the day after Christmas 1941, two years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt suggested the national holiday as a way of boosting the country's economy.

On this day of Thanksgiving, let us all acknowledge our gratitude for the blessings we have.  Celebrate the day with those you love. But remember those who are not as blessed, not only on this Thursday, but all the year long.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


A Super Superintendent

When the Dublin City Board of Education began to seek a replacement for W.R. Lanier as Superintendent of the Dublin City School System, they knew they needed to find the best man -women weren't considered in those days- for the job.  As one of the leading cities in the state at the time, the appointment of a highly qualified individual was critical.  The board chose, and wisely so, Kyle Terry Alfriend of Hancock County, Georgia to take charge of the five hundred and twenty five
student system.   Though this would be the only time in his career that Alfriend served as a superintendent of a public school system, he was regarded by his peers as one of the foremost educators in the state.  Morever, many considered him to be one of the finest educators in the Southeast.

Kyle Terry Alfriend, Sr. was born on October 17, 1874 in Hancock County, Georgia.  A son of Benjamin Abram and Mary Alfriend, Kyle was a member of the first graduating class of Sparta High School.  He attended George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he obtained his formal training as a teacher.  For eleven years, Alfriend taught Latin and history at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.

Based on outstanding recommendations, the Dublin Board of Education appointed Kyle Alfriend as school superintendent for the 1906-1907 school year.  During his first year, Superintendent Alfriend was paid the grand sum of $1250.00.  As superintendent, Alfriend occupied an honorary seat on the Board of Trustees of the newly constructed Carnegie Library.  He completed his second term in 1908, before a wealthier system called upon him to take charge of their main high school.

Beginning in the fall of 1908 and for four years, Alfriend took over the principalship of Lanier and Gresham High Schools, Macon main boy's and girl's secondary schools respectively.

He returned to Milledgeville, not at Georgia Military College, but down the street at Georgia Normal and Industrial College.  As chairman of the Department of History and Sociology and active in the civic affairs of the old Capital City, Professor Alfriend became a well-known leader in the college and in Baldwin County as well. The voters elected Alfriend in 1919 to represent them for a two-year term in the Georgia Legislature.  Naturally, he was named to chair the House Committee on
Education.   Representative Alfriend led the fight for a compulsory tax to support local public schools and the Barrett-Rogers Act consolidating smaller schools to increase the amount of funds available directly for education.

Professor Alfriend was always an active member of the Georgia Educational Association.  In 1919, he was elected the secretary of the group of educators dedicated to the promotion of advances in Georgia's schools.    The following year, his fellow members elected him vice-president.

In 1920, Kyle Alfriend took a new job and moved across the downtown area back to Georgia Military College, this time as President of the institution.

Two years later, President Alfriend took office as President of the Georgia Educational Association.  During his term, the organization's membership tripled its number of members.   In addressing the delegates at the convention in Columbus, Alfriend stated his belief that, "Our main purpose is to better the conditions in rural schools.  Not only do we want to better school houses," he said, "But, we want a better environment, better equipped teachers, all of which means that we will need more money," Alfriend concluded.

Alfriend specifically addressed the members of the Parent Teacher Association in attendance pointing out the critical need to co-ordinate the three essential elements of education; home, church and school.

Though he was addressing educators more than eighty-five years ago,
Alfriend's words still ring true today.  "It is extremely difficult for teachers to
properly carry out their work in the schools if they do not have the absolute
sympathy of the parents," he said as he appealed to all of the mothers in the state to
support their schools and their teachers.

Alfriend urged his congregation to eliminate the evils of ignorance and
poverty among the student population believing that poverty perpetuated ignorance
and ignorance perpetuated poverty.

In the years following the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution allowing women to vote, President Alfriend urged the women present to register to vote so as to empower them in making decisions in the operation of schools in the state, thereby insuring the happiness of their children.

To make a point about the necessity of more investment into the public school systems, Alfriend pointed out that usually a community's crown jewels were its courthouse and jail. He urged the community leaders in attendance to shift their efforts to building bigger and better schools and to show them off as a symbol of their town's commitment to quality education.

Later that year, Alfriend conducted an unsuccessful campaign for the office of State School Superintendent.  After losing the election to M.A. Brittain, Alfred returned to the classroom as Professor of History at Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, but continued to serve as Secretary of the Georgia Education Association.  While at Bessie Tift, Alfriend served as Dean. He also taught education and psychology.

In his family life, Professor Alfriend married Katherine (Katie) Elizabeth Cone, daughter of his Georgia Military College supervisor, Professor Oscar Malcolm Cone,  on December 22, 1904 in her native home of Milledgeville.    They had five children: Kyle Terry, Jr., Malcolm Cone, Mary Watts, Rebecca Hunt and Katherine Carr.

An accomplished Mason, Alfriend was elected Master of the Benevolent Lodge # 3 in Milledgeville in 1922.

Kyle Terry Alfriend, Sr. died on March 20, 1946 at the age of seventy-two.  He is buried in  Milledgeville next to his wife. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015




It is indeed quite an accomplishment to go undefeated and untied during a regular football season.  No matter the level of competition, winning all of your games is a difficult.  Injuries, fluke plays, careless mistakes and fate can defeat a team.  So, when the 1985 Dublin team took the field for the first time on August 31, 1985, they had one goal and that was to win their region. The Irish, ranked 8th in the preseason, had no dreams to win all ten of their regular season games. No Irish team, nor any East Central Georgia team had ever accomplished the nearly impossible feat.

Above:  (Steve Oliver, Paul Baker, Eric Beacham)

By middle of the 2nd quarter of the first game of the season, the Irish trailed the always tough Golden Hawks 14-0.  With three scores on a wet visitor's field, the Irish came back to win 18-14. (Harris scores - left)

With four touchdown runs by Dublin's fleet-footed tailback, R.W., James and scoring receptions by Paul Baker (left)  and Scott Long, the Irish easily defeated their cross county rival the East Laurens Falcons, 41-15.

  R.W. James with one of his four touchdowns.

The Dublin boys, ranked 5th in the state,  captured the County Championship with a 31-0, well-balanced shellacking of the West Laurens Raiders at Raider Stadium.

In Week 4, the Irish traveled to meet the Jones County Greyhounds, which had upset the green and gold in previous meetings in Gray.  The Irish defense remained solid shutting out their opponents in 10 of the last 12 quarters, With two touchdowns each from R.W. James and Thomas Walker, Coach Travis Davis' Irish coasted to a 41-0 win in their first region game.

           In the first crucial game of the season, the strong running of R.W. James, the steady passing of Derrick Harris and the consistently stingy Irish defense, kept Dublin in the game against the Panthers of Americus High, a team which the Irish have struggled over the years. With Brett Bailey's 27-yard-field-goal and a missed 2-point conversion by the Panthers being the difference in the scoring, the Irish (50) won at home 17-13. (Willie Spikes - left)

At half time of the 6th game of Dublin's homecoming game with  Tri-County, the Irish's chance at perfect season was in real jeopardy. Dublin QB Derrick Harris, stepped up and threw a TD pass to Paul Baker in the 3rd quarter and ran the ball into the end zone in the final stanza to cap a come from behind win, 14-10.

The Irish made it a lucky 7-0 in Cordele.  With two quarterback sneaks by Harris, Dublin jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.  Crisp County roared back to cut the margin to 14-9.  Coach Davis felt his Irish were "on the ropes" until Mitchell Marion scooped up a Cougar fumbled and sprinted 63 yards to turn the tide back in favor of the Irish.  The Dublin defense, which spent a lot of time on the field, held on and stifled their opponents to lead the Irish to a 21-9 victory.  (Tracy Willis and Flim Thomas make stop - left)

In a case of deja vu all over again, the Irish jumped out to a 17-0 lead against the perennially powerful Peach County Trojans, who came roaring back to cut the score to 20-13.   With the Irish headed toward an 8-0 record, every opponent was playing hard to end Dublin's undefeated record. As they had always done that season, the Irish defense bowed up and stopped a go ahead scoring drive late in the game.  The Irish sealed the game when they tackled the Peach quarterback in the end zone for a safety near the end of the game.   For the third time in the first nine games, the Irish were down at half time.  With unequaled determination, the Irish defense got their needed shutout in the second half.  The Irish offensive drove did what they had to as well and that was to score at least at least a field goal in the second half.  Derrick Harris took the ball end from the one-yard line for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to lead Dublin to a 16-12 win over Perry High in a game which the Irish almost lost.

Eric Beacham recalled, "We were down by a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game. We had a big run that got us up to around mid-field. I remember standing in the huddle and all of us (the offense) looking at each other and thinking how difficult it was going to be to pull out a win. We really thought the road to a perfect season was over. I remember Derrick Harris calling the play and saying we can do this! First a pass  to Tim Powell and he catches it somewhere around the 20 yard line, then a pass to Paul Baker inside the  five yard line. Let me say it was one of the best catches I ever saw in high school. Paul had to stretch out horizontally and catch that ball. After that play we knew the game was ours. The next play (above)  we scored on a short run up the middle. What an emotional moment for me ...for the team!"

It all came down to the last regular season game on November 8.  The Irish jumped out to a 23-0 lead at the end of the first half against one of it's oldest and toughest rivals, the Dodge County Indians.  The teams swapped field goals in the second half leading the Irish to a 10-0 record.   (John Oliver - left)

"It's been a great season, but let's not be satisfied," an elated Davis who felt numb all over,  told his players after the win "You ve got a chance to do something here that no Dublin team has ever done   let s do it!"

(Coach Travis Davis looks happy)

Only two previous Dublin teams, the 1945 (5-0-1) the 1959 State Champions (11-0-1) had gone undefeated during the regular season.  No team had ever won 11 straight games in a season.  Only three teams, the 2002, 2005 and 2006 teams would win that many games to start the season.  No east Central Georgia team had ever accomplished that feat.

In the first game of the playoffs, Dublin met Crisp County for a second time. With the score knotted at 7-7 at the end of the half, the pressure was on the offense to score and on the defense to keep Crisp out of the end zone. Tim Powell snatched a short pass from QB Harris and Tracy Gay blocked a Cougar punt out of the end zone to vault the Irish to eleven straight wins with a hard fought 16-7 win.

Willie Spikes, Derrick Harris, R.W. James 

It was a cool, damp night on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  Andre Payne, remembered that running back Willie Spikes was on the field in the hospital bed at the edge of the end zone. R.W. James was still on the mends from a debilitating injury.  The Americus Panthers returned to the Shamrock Bowl determined not to lose to Dublin twice in a season.  The teams swapped two touchdowns.  But, the back breaker came in near the end of the first half.  After Dublin tied the game at 14, Edward Jackson took the ensuing kickoff back for 94 yards putting an end to the green team's momentum going into the halftime.  Although the Irish won the second half, 7-6, they came up short 26-21.  And, just like that, the season was over.   For the seniors, it was the last time they would put on their green and gold uniforms.  For the rest of the team, there was always next  year.

"That year was an amazing year and Im so proud I was a part of that team, I sometimes wonder where we rank among the great teams since we left, hard to compare I guess. We were on a tidal wave, acting crazy and having fun. Immature kids from different backgrounds who came together and played great football together," recalled receiver Paul Baker.

"There isn't a day I don't miss my good friend (the late)  Steve Oliver," recalled lineman John Wilson, who went on to play for three national championship teams at Georgia Southern. "But nothing comes close to those days in the Shamrock Bowl and growing up with my friends.

Lineman Eric Beacham, in looking back to that magical season, recalled, " We honestly thought we had what it took as a team to go all the way in '85.  Losing the region championship to Americus left a void in me that today still remains."

Jeff Morris recalled, "As the season went along and we just kept winning, the support from the community just grew."  Morris too felt empty after the playoff loss to Americus, who got revenge against Dublin for doing the same thing in the previous year.

"We were a talented team: Hard work, teamwork, dedication, and commitment along with the desire to win made us the team to beat, commented  Andre Payne.

So on this 30th anniversary of the first area football team to have a perfect regular 10-game season, here's a shout out to the 1985 Dublin High Irish, the  team that would not quit.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


“Faith of His Father, Living Still

Have you ever see a man with true faith?  If you knew James E. Dickey, you would have known a man whose faith was implanted his in soul by his father, nurtured by his mother and blossomed on the campus of Emory College in Atlanta. Frederick Faber never knew James Dickey.  But when he wrote the classic hymn Faith of Our Fathers, he would have told you that Dickey’s faith was true and lived still until his final breath.

From the moment of his birth in a modest house in Jeffersonville, Georgia on May 11, 1864, James E. Dickey was prepared and groomed  to preach the Gospel. His father, the Reverend James Madison Dickey, was an itinerant Methodist Minister of the North Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Though he spent most of life in North Georgia, Rev. Dickey did serve churches in Dublin in 1852 and in Jeffersonville in 1864, the last dark year of the Civil War.

James attended schools in Atlanta, Gainesville, Elberton and Calhoun as his father annually moved around serving new churches.  His summers were usually spent on the Richmond County farm of family of his mother, the former Miss Ann Elizabeth Thomas.  When Rev. Dickey’s health failed, the family moved to the solace of the farm.  James left school and worked on the farm.
Dickey’s life changed forever in 1878, when the elder Dickey died.  James took his father’s lifeless hand and asked his grandmother Thomas if his father was dead. When she responded in the affirmative, James knelt down and asked God, whom he considered to be his only father,  to grant him the ability and the resources to achieve his goal of attaining an education and making the most of his life.

For nine years, James Dickey worked as a store clerk and bookkeeper.  He never lost sight of his goal.  He studied at night and when he could took some courses in hopes of qualifying for entrance into a college.     His logical choice was Emory College in Atlanta.  So, on the opening day of classes in the 1887, James Dickey stepped through the doors of  college.  At the age of twenty three and older than those who had just graduated, James Dickey was determined to graduate.  And that he did.  In the spring of 1891, the man who never graduated from high school, walked across the stage as the salutatorian of his class.

So impressed were the president and faculty of Emory College with Dickey’s intellectual ability, they asked him to remain at the college as a professor.  Dickey readily accepted and with a secure position in hand, took the hand of Miss Jessie Munroe in marriage as classes were about to begin.

As Professor of Mental and Moral Science, James Dickey taught Christianity, economics and history until he felt the calling to follow in the footsteps of his father. After being licensed to preach, Rev. James Dickey was assigned to Grace Methodist Church in Atlanta, where he served from 1899 to 1902.

Although Rev. Dickey only served a church for three years, his destiny to serve the  Methodist Church was permanently determined when he was named President of Emory College.    As the head of his alma mater, Dickey faced the daunting task of turning the falter  college , which despite its support by the Methodist Church, had woefully fallen on hard times.    Dickey would not accept the status quo.  He designed and built new and modern facilities.  More and more students enrolled.   More and more money began to flow into the school’s endowment fund.   President Dickey saw the need to improve the law school at Emory, currently ranked as the twenty-second best in the nation.  He did so.  And, he thought that a Methodist supported college should have a School of Theology, so he created one in 1914.  Named in honor of Rev. Warren Akin Candler, Chancellor of the College and Bishop of the Methodist Church, the Candler School of Theology was created in 1914 and is today one of thirteen seminaries of the world wide church.  At the time, the school was the only Methodist seminary east of the Mississippi River.

Dickey was known across the state as an effective fund raiser.  In the spring of 1909  Dickey preached a sermon at the Methodist Church in Dublin.  He left the pulpit with $2500.00 in cash and pledges to further the growth of Emory.

During his tenure at Emory, Rev. Dickey tried to resign twice to further his career.  In 1910, he yearned to leave the college to become the Secretary of the Board of Education of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.  The college’s trustee refused to accept his resignation and convinced him to remain at Emory.    Five years later, Dickey tendered his resignation once again citing the fact that he could never be promoted as long as Bishop Candler was Chancellor of the College.  This time the trustees accepted his offer, but requested that he remain as a trustee of newly chartered Emory University in its new campus in Dekalb County.  Rev. Dickey was further honored by the bestowing upon him of an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.

After leaving Emory, Rev. Dickey returned to preach, first at the First Methodist Church in Atlanta from 1915 to 1920 and at North Georgia College until 1921.

As early as 1906, the Methodist hierarchy saw special qualities in James Dickey.  His name was often mentioned as a possible bishop at the General Conferences which he attended in 1910, 1914 and 1918.  

At the General Conference in 1922 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the delegates elected Dickey to serve as a Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.  He was assigned to a district which encompassed Texas and New Mexico.  After four years in the Southwest, Dickey was transferred to Louisville, Kentucky, where he supervised Methodist churches in Illinois, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Bishop Dickey appropriately preached his last sermon on Easter Sunday in 1928.  He woke up the next morning in great pain.  His appendix had ruptured.  Surgeons attempted to repair the damage, but the failing minister lingered for one painful week before he died just before midnight on April 17, 1928 with his family beside his bed.

And so ended the life of a man, whose faith carried him through a life of service of others before himself.  His abiding faith in himself and more importantly in God, became a driving force in the resurrection of one of Georgia’s most important institution of higher learning.

Friday, November 13, 2015

THE SUPREME COURT Laurens Countians Before the Bench

Laurens Countians Before the Bench

 On September 24, 1789, the Congress of the United States adopted the Judiciary Act. In doing so, Congress created the Supreme Court of the United States, placing upon the court the power to hear cases involving Federal laws and to interpret them. Many will argue that the court has become a Super legislature in of its self.  Its decisions are often controversial and many are decided by a margin of a mere one vote.  Many more seem to be based on personal ideologies of the justices themselves and not upon established common laws and statutes.  A relative few lawyers in our country ever have the opportunity to argue their client's case before the panel of nine justices in the most hallowed, revered and chastised courtroom in America. This is the story of four Laurens Countians, all of whom at one time maintained homes in the Calhoun Street neighborhood.

The first Laurens Countian to appear before the bench of the Supreme Court was the venerable, and somewhat controversial, Thomas B. Felder, Jr.   Felder, a former mayor of Dublin, gained a reputation as an outstanding trial lawyer in Atlanta.  In the early 1920s, Felder was one of the legal advisers to President Warren Harding.  Consequently, Felder became entangled in legal troubles of his own and died under mysterious circumstances, as did many other members of Harding's inner circle.

In 1906, Felder represented Armour Packing Company against the State of North Carolina, which had imposed a tax of $100.00 per county for the maintenance of a meat packing plant.  Felder argued before the justices that the tax constituted an interference with interstate commerce and that it was also violative of the 14th amendment.  Although the stipulated facts defined what a meat packing plant was and that the activities of Armour did not constitute a meat packing plant, but merely a cold storage facility, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision ruled in favor of the State of North Carolina. Felder's client lost another case to the other Carolina state in 1909 when the court sided with South Carolina's right to regulate and prohibit the sale of alcohol within her borders in the case of Murray v. Wilson Distribution.

Despite his success as an attorney, Felder lost in his third and final appearance before the court in the case of Crichton v. Wingfield, which involved a suit between an aunt and niece over ownership of promissory notes.  The case primarily dealt with which court, Mississippi or New York, had jurisdiction over the assets of the dear departed Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Lombard.

Thomas Hardwick, a former congressman, senator and governor of Georgia, lived in Dublin in the mid 1920s.  During that time he practiced law and published the Dublin Courier Herald.  Hardwick's first appearance in the Supreme Court came in 1914, when he represented the widow  and four minor children of one Mr. Dicks of Augusta.  It seemed that Dicks petitioned the Federal court for a declaration that he was bankrupt.   Sadly, Dicks died three weeks later.  His family attempted to have
some of his estate set aside to them for their support, a right unique to Georgia spouses and minor children. The bankruptcy trustee Hull disagreed and argued that Dicks's estate  solely belonged to his creditors.  The Supreme Court unanimously agrees with Hardwick and allowed the grieving family to have enough money and property to at least help them get back on their feet. In 1918, Hardwick's client, the Georgia Public Service Corporation, a forerunner of the Georgia Power Company, was successful in its argument that the company was entitled to raise utility rates with the authority of the Railroad Commission, despite the fact that it had agree to a fixed five-year rate with the Union Dry Goods Company.

Hardwick became the only Laurens Countian to appear before the court as a resident of Dublin in 1926.  Hardwick, representing Fenner, a cotton futures dealer, was unsuccessful in his argument that state laws restricting the sale of commodities were violative of the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution.    Hardwick, a resident of Augusta in 1934, won the case of Gay v. Ruff in which the railroad prevailed over the father who lost his son in an railroad accident.

Eugene Cook, a native of Wrightsville and a short time resident of Dublin while he served as Solicitor, was elected to serve as the Attorney General of Georgia in 1945.  As Attorney General, Cook's first case involving the Supreme Court came in 1946.  The case was one of the primary attempts to set aside Georgia's county unit system of voting in state wide elections.  The process allowed larger counties six votes to the top vote getters, while most of the smaller counties were allotted two votes.  Some Fulton County voters objected, primarily on racial grounds, asserting that their votes were diminished by the allocation of votes.  The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the process, though it would not be long before the process would be overturned by a more civil rights minded court.

In 1955, Cook and the State of Georgia in Reece v. Georgia  were unable to persuade the justices of the court that the state's system of requiring a criminal defendant to challenge the composition of the grand jury before his indictment was valid.

Cook was on the losing side of the case of Georgia vs. the United States in 1958 when the court unanimously affirmed the case in favor of the Federal government without issuing an opinion.  A year later, Cook successfully defended the state in the case of N.A.A.C.P. v Williams which involved a technicality on a fine in a criminal matter.

M.H. "Hardeman" Blackshear, Jr., an Assistant Attorney General under his former neighbor  Eugene Cook, made his first appearance before the Court in 1950 in the case of South v. Peters another suit involving the county unit system and which was also upheld by the court.  Blackshear represented the State of Georgia against the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company in 1952.  The bank claimed it was exempt from taxation under its state granted charter.

Blackshear, who authored many briefs during his tenure with the Attorney General's office, made his final appearance before the Supreme Court in 1953 in the case of Avery v. Georgia.  Avery was convicted of rape and sentenced to death. Avery's attorneys successfully argued that Avery was denied the right to a fair trial under the Constitution.  The court based its decision on the jury selection process where the names of white voters were written on white paper and black voters were
written on yellow paper.  Despite the fact that the State claimed that blacks were included in the jury pool, the presiding judge drew sixty potential white jurors and not a single black juror.

Maybe some day, our county will once again be home to an attorney who will zealously argue the rights of his client before a court which was established two hundred and twenty six years ago. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembering Clem Moye

“Remember me as you pass by.  As you are so once was I.  As I am now, so you must
be.  Prepare yourself to follow me.”  

        That appeal is engraved on the grave of Private First Class Clem Moye.   Part of Clem’s story lives on through his letters to and from his mother in his last year on the Earth.  And, thanks to the Rev. Greg Lowery for providing the letters and information about his great uncle, we now have a  keen insight into war and just how horrible it can be.

Ever since there was a postal service, soldiers have written letters home to their mothers, fathers, family members and their best girls.  Clem Moye and his mother were no exception to this practice.  For the first six months of 1944, Clem and his mother corresponded nearly half way around the world as often as they could.  Those letters have survived, along with a few from and to other members of Clem’s family.

Clem Moye was born on November 13, 1911, one of seven children of Lucian and Alice Gay Moye.  Clem grew up on the family farm east of Rentz near Cedar Grove, the ancestral home of his mother’s family in the Burch District of southern Laurens County.

The Moyes lived on a dirt road in the Pine Barrens - Wiregrass region of the county, a full day’s wagon trip from Dublin.  Clem knew little of the war in Europe as did many of the farming people of the day.  Clem was able to obtain only an eighth grade  education like many of the young boys on Laurens County farms during the 1920s and 30s.  Once Clem left school in the mid 1920s, he worked full time  on his family farm.

When the call came from Uncle Sam to serve his country, Clem answered it.  Clem traveled up southeast of Atlanta  to Fort McPherson,  where he enlisted on June 22, 1942.  At five-feet, five inches tall and weighing in at 131 pounds, Clem was somewhat small and at somewhat old at the age of nearly 31 to be accepted into the service.

Beginning in the latter part of 1943, Clem and his mother Alice began to correspond.  Alice saved many of her letters from Clem.  Only some of Alice’s letters to Clem have survived. The oldest surviving letter was written by Clem some eleven months after he enlisted in the Army.

“I want you to remember not to worry about me for I am getting along fine and I think I will continue to,” Clem wrote.  Alice worried anyway, as all mothers do.   Clem was a mechanic and had little doubt that he wouldn’t return home safe.   Clem’s biggest worry was not if he was coming home, but when.  Although he hadn’t been in the service a full year, he began to bug his major about his getting out of the service.  He was told he would be in the army until 1949 when he turned 38.

By New Year’s Day 1944, Clem was stationed on the West Coast - exactly where he did not  know.  He liked it, especially the better chow he was getting. Some four weeks later,  Clem surprised the family from his new home with the 287th Ordinance Company in  New Guinea, just across the Arafura and Coral seas north of Australia.  Clem liked his new home and was happy that he didn’t get seasickness like many of his buddies did.  It did take a while for Clem to adjust to the boiling hot January of the Southern Hemisphere.

Most of the time Clem and his mother talked about the farm, family and friends.  The 1944 crop was a good one and his cows were doing fine.   Clem’s life overseas appeared to be somewhat lacking in exciting news, although he was probably hiding the harry moments from his mother.

Whenever the paymaster issued Clem a check, he placed it in an envelope and mailed back to his mother to deposit  it in his bank account.   When the checks didn’t come on time, Clem never hesitated to apologize for the delay.  Alice never minded the late checks, she was glad to get a generous check for a Christmas or birthday gift.

“Fix it where you and mama could draw it out in case something was to happen to me.  Of course, I haven’t got the least idea that I won’t be coming back home after the war,” Clem wrote in a letter to his father in February 1944.

“I get all I want for four cents a pack.  I think that’s cheap enough for anybody, don’t you?  Money is no good over here. I only spent 83 cents last month.  There is nothing to buy here,” Clem wrote as he asked his mother to stop sending him packs of cigarettes.

“Ma Ma, I can’t say just how everything is over here. But, I want you to remember that I’m all o.k. and don’t you worry about me,” as Clem tried to console his mother about his safety.

As Clem and Alice talked about his friends in the service, Clem yearned to see a familiar face, “anybody,”  from home.  Alice, too could not wait to see her son again and very soon.

While most of the letters were conversations about what was happening to family friends, Clem did comment on the killing of Cadwell Police Chief John Faircloth and the re-election of his cousin, Sheriff Carlus Gay.  

On April Fool’s Day, Clem wrote, “I guess you see my address has changed, but we are still in New Guinea.  I think the Japs are really catching hell over here now.  Maybe the war will soon be over. I hope so anyway.”

As the spring came, the pace of Clem’s letters began to rise. It is easy to tell that Clem was ready to come home to his Mama and Daddy and the rest of the family and go to the sings at Oak Dale Church.

Clem confessed to Alice that he was beginning to worry about himself, “I get to studying about some things and can’t help it,” as he moved north of the Equator, closer to Japan.  And, Clem was still feeling fine when he wrote on May 25, 1944.

Two days later, the 41st Division of the U.S. Army landed on Biak Island off the northwest coast of New Guinea.  The Japanese instituted a new policy of allowing the Americans to land unimpeded to lure them into a killing zone.  On the following Sunday night after church, Alice sat down and wrote a letter to Clem hoping to see him soon.

At the very moment, the American and Allied armies were landing on Normandy Beach, Clem was driving a truck, laughing and talking with his friends.  An artillery shell struck the truck and  killed him instantly,

They laid his body to rest under a white cross in a makeshift military cemetery overlooking the sea.

Alice, unaware of her son’s death, kept on writing. On June 25, Alice answered Clem’s last letter by hoping that he would come home in 1945.

“I was sitting in the back hall on Friday night and watched the moon go down and thought of you so much until I couldn’t hardly stand it.  I could almost see you,” Alice remembered.  

On July 2nd Alice wrote,  “Clem,  I am thinking of you and to see if I can hear from you. It has been nearly two weeks since I have heard from you.” As she closed her letter, she promised to write more when his next letter came.

Three days later, the Western Union Telegram came addressed to E.L.Moye, Rt. 1 Rentz, Georgia.  “The Secretary of War desires me to his deep regret that your son, Private Clem Moye, was killed in action on Seven June on Biak Island - letter follows.”

In an soul numbing instant, Alice Moye collapsed into disbelieving grief.   Alice’s request to get a picture of Clem’s grave was denied by the Army.  Clem’s parents were able to have his body removed to the Moye-Gay Cemetery not far from his family home.

Alice  never got over losing her precious Clem.  She died a week before Christmas in 1948 and is buried in the Moye-Gay Cemetery beside her sons, Clem, Albert Clay and Menzo and her husband,  Lucian (E.L.) Moye, who died in 1955.

Recently, Laurens County dedicated the bridge over the Land Branch of Limesink Creek in memory of Clem Moye, just down the dirt road from where Clem grew up.

So, if you ever drive along Moye Road and cross the creek, remember Clem Moye for as he once was, soon you will be.