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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

LOIS ADAMS

Memories of a Lifetime




Lois Adams loved life as a young woman growing up in Jeffersonville, Georgia. In the years before her marriage, Lois kept her memories in a scrapbook. Now, thanks to the fine folks at Adams Funeral Home and the members of her family, Lois' scrapbook, which was found neatly packed away in the funeral home started by her husband, has been donated to the Laurens County Historical Society, where visitors can catch a glimpse into the life of talented teenage girl long, long ago.

In the five-inch thick black paper scrapbook you will find everything from Leo Mullis' cigarette butts to her very own candy wrappers (she preferred Whitman's over Nunally's), filled dance cards to great football game tickets, and a real cotton boll to a real tarpon scale. Yes, I said a tarpon scale. There are also empty packets of cigarettes, Camel and Home Run, none of which she smoked. Obligatory family pictures and clippings of wedding, anniversary and funeral notices are in the book too. This child of Jack Shine Vaughn and Susie Elizabeth Johnson Vaughn, pasted all of her important memorabilia so that in a moment she could open the book and reach back in time to when life was grand. I like the menu for ice cream, 15 cents a cup, and fruity ice drinks, 10 cents a cup, which she stole and pasted in a special place in her scrapbook.


One of the first things you will see is a piece of chewing gum, Beechnut, I presume. That in of itself is not unusual since there are many gum wrappers and who gave her the gum. Written underneath this piece of gum is the phrase "You bet I wanted to chew it, but I didn't." And she was right, the gum, or what is left of it, hasn't been chewed in the last ninety years. Lois especially enjoyed a dance where she wore a red corsage and commented, "I was thrilled to a peanut." She glued a red ribbon in her scrapbook and posed the question, "Bet I had a good time, wonder who put this around my neck?"




Music and the arts were the fabric of Lois' young life. Not a recital nor a play was held at Twiggs County High School without her name listed in the program. On the 26th of May 1920, Lois performed a rousing version of Muscadine Gulp on the piano, before singing The Governor with her good friend Dorothy Jones. In addition to her talents as a singer and pianist, Lois was a dancer.




She loved going to musical events in Macon and Atlanta. Sometimes when she was lucky, there were musical artists who passed through Jeffersonville. There was this one evening when Lois and her friends Marin, Ethel and Daisy went to hear the Wesleyan Glee Club. The music was great, but the most memorable part of the evening was that the girls didn't return until to the late hour of one o'clock in the morning. When there was nothing else to do, Lois and her friends and family would go to a womanless wedding. She must have an eye for one of the all male participants whom she thought looked real good. Then there were plays and all sorts of things to do. There was no television in those days, nor was there any radio. Movies in Jeffersonville were rare. You had to go to Macon or Dublin to see the silent movies.




Lois Evelyn Vaughn walked across the graduation stage of the Twiggs County High School auditorium on May 21, 1923 with her friends Gladys and Ruth Califf, Dorothy Jones, Estelle Harris, Wilhelmina Faulk and Carrie Norris. But, three days before then, Lois and her fellow musicians had one last chance to showcase their talents in a program under the direction of Miss Elizabeth Pettus, director of the Expression and Piano Department. Lois closed the evening's thrilling show with her performance of Rachmananoff's Prelude in C Sharp Minor.




Of all of Lois's favorite pastimes, dancing and going to dances was the best. One of the best was a big dance at the Dublin Country Club on July 28, 1926. Tom Wilcox asked her to go, but for some reason, Lois didn't remember why she turned down his invitation. But, she had a good time listening to the music of the Georgians, who performed all the great tunes in the club dance hall, which was then located east of the pond in what is now Saint Andrews subdivision.

With all of her artistic talents, Lois Adams had a talent for athletics. Among her most prized possessions is a scorecard for a basketball game against the Dublin High Whirls. I have to explain here why the girls from Dublin were called "the Whirls." The boys were dubbed the "Green Hurricane." Hence the supposedly meeker girls bore a more inferior team name. What was remarkable about the game, in which Lois said she became a famous basketball player, was that she scored 12 of her teams 24 points in a 24-6 rout of the Dublin girls.




Lois liked football as well. It didn't matter if it was Georgia or Georgia Tech. A good football game in the fall was always a thrill. She went to see Georgia Tech play the Auburn Tigers and the North Carolina Tar Heels in 1928. The following year, right before her marriage, Lois was one of the lucky who went to Georgia's game against Yale, a game which inaugurated play in Sanford Stadium and a game in which the Bulldogs gained national immortality for their stunning 15-0 upset victory over the mighty Bulldogs from Yale.

In the fall of 1926, Lois took an extended trip of Lakeland, Florida. She brought back a black watch fob as a reminder of the good times she had. Before coming home with "Big Boy" Hicks and Bob Pitts, Lois took in a boxing match, actually several of them. The big fight on the card that October 13th was the bout featuring W.L. "Young" Stribling, a future contender for the world championship in the heavyweight division. The Macon boxer still holds the world record for the most fights and knockouts by a heavyweight boxer.

Of all of her dancing partners, Lois found the best one of all in Cordy Adams of Dublin.  Cordy, an up and coming undertaker and a graduate of the Cincinnati College of Embalming, won her hand in marriage. Before settling down, the couple left on a short honeymoon trip to Montgomery, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. While they were staying in the Jefferson Davis Hotel in Montgomery, the newly married couple decided to go to yet another football game, another Bulldog victory over the hometown favorites, the Crimson Tide. It was the next morning when an invitation was slipped under their hotel room door inviting Mr. and Mrs. Cordy Adams to a fine breakfast. "It was the first time I felt recognized as a Mrs.," Mrs. Adams recalled.




Then the newlyweds were on to New Orleans, where they enjoyed dining, dancing and theater going in "The Big Easy." Although they had a good time, Lois wrote that the three nights in the De Soto Hotel were restless. Maybe it was the bill, a whopping $5.00 a night!



When the couple returned to Dublin, they made their first home in the Fred Roberts Hotel. There's even a note on an unused bar of soap to prove it. Then reality set in. Lois wrote on a bill from R.F. Deese Furniture store, "here is where all my money went." She kept the bill and converted it into a ledger sheet showing the purchase of a $150.00 bed room suite and a $125.00 dollar set of living room furniture and the record of her payments down to a zero balance.





Memories are priceless. Lois Adams kept some of hers. Maybe you should do so. Cherish them, preserve them and record them. Maybe some day someone will care about what was important to you. So on behalf of the Laurens County Historical Society, here's a big thank you to you, Mrs.Adams for preserving your present and keeping your fond memories alive for generations to come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SARA PERKINS

In God She Trusted


Sara Perkins trusted God. During times of tumult, tempest and trial in her life, Sara could always trust in the Almighty. During her terms as a political prisoner in China, God was the only one she could trust to get her through the quagmire of confinement to believe that one day she would breathe the air of freedom.

Sara Emily Perkins was born in Tennille, Georgia on the 23rd day of January 1892. Orphaned at an early age, Sara lived with her married sister. In her early years, Sara wanted to become a musician. She attended the College of Music in Washington, D.C. and taught piano in Shanghai, China in a school for children of American missionaries. After two years, Sara knew that teaching music was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Everywhere she looked, Sara saw poverty, disease and ignorance. She wanted to help change that, so she embarked on a course in the study of medicine half way around the world, where she began her studies of nursing at Peking Medical College. As a registered nurse, Perkins performed mission work for a year before returning to the U.S. to work as a public health care nurse in Charleston, S.C..

Learning the Chinese language was the first order of business after Sara's return to China as she was assigned to train Chinese nurses. It wasn't very long after she arrived back in China when the Japanese army invaded the country in 1937. During the early months of the fighting, Sara worked in the war relief efforts before she was taken as a prisoner by the Japanese. As an American, she was treated somewhat better than prisoners of other nationalities. In 1940, Perkins was granted a furlough and was sent to the United States. Knowing that her place was back in China, Sara returned to the war ravaged country, just six weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was only after the Japanese government learned that Japanese Americans were being interned in the United States that Sara and her fellow medical workers and missionaries were also confined in camps until an exchange of prisoners was completed in 1943. Sara returned to America on a ten-week trip on a slow boat from China. As she and her colleagues entered New York harbor, they began to sing The Star Spangled Banner. Tears streamed down their faces.

After the end of World War II, once again Sara left South Carolina and returned to her adopted homeland in 1946 on a 47 day trip aboard a Norwegian freighter. Once again, war returned to the Chinese mainland when the Chinese Communists launched a bid to take over the government. Sara had paid little attention to the Communists before, thinking of them not as a mighty force but a maladroit band of malcontents and fanatics. Sara and her colleagues heard reports of the Communists coming into their city and began to hide all their medical equipment. When the Chinese Nationals abandoned the city, the Communists conducted an orderly take over and for the second time in a dozen years, Sara once again found herself as a political prisoner.

Conditions in the prison camp slowly began to deteriorate. There was little contact with the outside world. When the captors were not around, Sara and her fellow prisoners listened to a homemade radio on a radio station in Hong Kong to keep up with the happenings in the war in Korea.

Sara recalled, "March 2, 1951, was a cold night. I had a little wood-burning stove in my room, and in order to conserve the heat, I had encircled it with chairs draped with various garments. Behind the chairs I placed a little tin tub and in it I took my last 'tub bath' for the next four and one half years." That's when things got worse. The guards came into her room and removed nearly all of her possessions. With little clothes to wear, Sara spent most of her days in bed. She was allowed to keep four copies of the Gospel of John, although her Bible was confiscated. She gave away three copies of her gospel tracts and kept the other close to her at all times.

The American prisoners were taken to Ku Kong prison, a dark dank moldy dungeon. To help pass the time and keep their sanity, Sara and the others recited Bible verses and played mind games with each other through their cell walls. Her room was furnished with a saw horse, which she used for a table, and two saw horses, which she planks on and used for a bed.

This was a time when Sara's faith took over and kept her going from day to day. She began to sing verses of This is My Father's World as she combated rats, mosquitos and oppressive heat.

In early 1952, Sara was taken to a larger prison in Canton, China. There, and especially on Sundays, Sara and the others were subjected to loud Chinese music and propaganda. Though she rated the prison food as "good and sufficient," the sight of a spider on the top of big bowl of rice never left the back of her mind.

It was in June 1954, when Sara began to have contact with her family. Her first letter and care package from her sister came on New Year's Eve. The Chinese took the good things and left her with the insignificant contents, though they were highly significant to Sara.

The year 1955 would be the last year she would be confined. As summer came to an end, Sara wrote in her autobiography, Red China Prisoner, "The bolt was slipped back and my cell door swung open to admit the messenger of my release. I was told to prepare to leave quickly. The admonition was unnecessary, my things had been ready for days." Sara's Chinese captors had kept her possessions intact, albeit her clothes were mildewed and currency was rotted. Her last meal was rice and chicken, but after eating rice twice a day for four and one half years, she ate the chicken and left the rice for the birds. As she rode through the Chinese countryside, Sara looked out the window of her train coach to see how much the landscape had changed. The train stopped at bridge. As she walked across the bridge toward the British guards on the other side, Sara saw no water, just the vision of freedom as she felt the hand of God helping her to walk.

On October 9, 1955, Sara boarded the President Cleveland for the long awaited trip back home. She knew she could never return to China and accepted her banishment as God's will as she recalled, "The night was glorious and I went up on deck to see the harbor of Hong Kong for the last time. It was beautiful in the starlight and I felt that I was standing between two worlds. The one I was leaving behind had been filled with an amazing adventure with God. The one toward which I was moving, though very different, would be filled with a continuation of that adventure, but the wonder of it would be measured by my faith."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

EARL DUNHAM

The Captain of Carolina





Earl Dunham started something. Way back in the 1930s and 40s, about every eight or ten years or so, a young Laurens County boy moved with his parents to Macon. While they were in the capital of Central Georgia, three boys thought it would be a good idea to play football for the city's biggest high school. All three happened to be very good at it. Billy Henderson did it in the early 1940s and went on to an outstanding football and baseball career at the University of Georgia before becoming a coaching legend in Georgia High School football. Theron Sapp played at Macon's Lanier High School in the early 1950s before his immortal feats as a Georgia Bulldog running back led to his being named as only the third player in school history to have his jersey number retired. But way back in the late 1930s, Earl Dunham started it all. Here is his story.

Earl Dunham was born in Dublin, Georgia in 1921. One of at least seven children of Harry and Ethel Dent Durham, little Earl lived in a modest house at 214 Sawyer Street in the mid 1920s. Sometime before 1930, the Dunhams picked up everything they owned and headed for a better opportunity in Macon, where they lived on Walnut Street.

Earl attended elementary school and in 1935, enrolled in Lanier High School, where all boys participated in the R.O.T.C. program. It didn't take long for Earl's talents to be recognized by the coaches of the Poets. Yes, that was their mascot. After all, when you have a school named after Sidney Lanier, one of Georgia's most famous poets, what else are you going to call the teams?

In the 1938 basketball season, Dunham helped to guide the Poets to a state championship. Later that fall, Earl, billed as one of the best fullbacks in the state, was named as Alternate Captain of the Poets. Though he suffered a broken leg that limited his playing time as a junior, Earl returned for his senior season when he exhibited his strong blocking and power running skills. After his last game, Earl was named to the G.I.A.A. All Georgia team for the second consecutive year (the only two-year member) by a panel of sportswriters and coaches.

The South Carolina Gamecocks were whom Earl wanted to play for, not Georgia or Georgia Tech. From the beginning, Earl was destined to become a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball. Dunham found only a little joy in first three football seasons, all losing ones, under Coach Rex Enright, who at the time of his retirement was South Carolina's all time winningest and losingest coach. Earl earned a starting berth at left half back in 1942, when his team won its first game against the Citadel, but failed to win another all season. Victories were more plenty when Earl was playing basketball and baseball. In his freshman year, the Gamecock hoopsters went 15 and 9 and played in the semifinals of Southern Conference championship. In his sophomore year, Earl moved from guard to center and posted an average of two field goals per game playing a position, which was usually in the center of the court in those days.


Something big happened. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Earl and many of his friends enlisted and went off to a whole new ball game. This time it was serious, real serious. Earl became a member of the 11th Airborne Division. The 11th was held in reserve until the latter half of 1944, when it first saw action in Leyte and in the invasion of Luzon in January 1945 in a final effort to sweep Japanese resistance from the Philippine Islands. During his spare time in his 42-month stint as a paratrooper of "The Angels," Earl did what he did best. He played ball. In his last game as a member of the 11th Division football team, Earl helped to secure a victory over an all star squad from Honolulu.

Like many other young men of his day who saw their collegiate football careers interrupted by the war, Earl returned to the campus at Columbia for one final season in 1946. He replaced future Dubliner Bryant Meeks as team captain in the first season of the modern era of football. Rex Enright returned from his naval duties to coach one of the finest teams ever to take the field in Columbia. The Gamecocks defeated their instate rival Clemson and never looked back on a 5-3 season.


As soon as he left the Carolina Field gridiron and stepped onto the hardwoods, Earl was honored by his teammates and coach by being named captain of the basketball team. It was then time for one more season on the diamond. Once again, Earl was named captain of the team. It would be the only time in the one hundred and fifteen-year history of South Carolina athletics that one man would named captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams in a single school year. I don't know it for a fact, but it may have been the only time in NCAA history that one athlete captained all three major sports at a major university. Certainly that feat hasn't occurred lately when few, if any, players play all three major sports.

When Earl Dunham's playing days were over, he turned to coaching to further his athletic career, He served as an assistant coach under his former head coach Enright until 1955 when he resigned to enter the business world.

Earl Dunham died on September 10, 2000 in Columbia, South Carolina. He was survived by his children, Earl, Jr. and Nancy Anne.

During his four years at the University of South Carolina, Earl Dunham rose to the heights of excellency both on and off the field. He was named a member of the prestigious academic fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated cum laude in the Class of 1947.

As a football player, Dunham was named as an honorable mention on the 1946 All American team joining center Bryant Meeks (2nd team.) Ahead him were three legends of college football: Charley Trippi of Georgia and Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard of the United States Military Academy. A half century later, Earl Dunham was named to the South Carolina All Century Basketball Team as one of five players representing the pre-1950s era. Fifty years after he left South Carolina, Earl Dunham was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame joining Bill Rogers as the only player in that illustrious group who played three sports in their careers at South Carolina.

As a footnote, although Dublin is located just a hundred or so miles south of Athens, Georgia, only a half dozen Dublin footballers have played for the Bulldogs. Nearly as many have played football for South Carolina. In addition to the aforementioned Bryant Meeks (Captain '45), who moved to Dublin just before his death, other Dubliners who have donned the garnet and black are Gregg Crabb ('69-'71), Chan Beasley ('71-'72), Scott Hagler ('83-'86, Captain '86), Tony Guyton ('83-'85, Captain '85) and Kyle Crabb ('99-'00.) In four of the last 65 football seasons since the end of World War II, the captain of the Gamecock football team has been a Dubliner. That's an unbelievable record!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

MAYOR JIM PETERSON

Exposing the Ku Klux Klan


SOPERTON DEFENDANTS FREED

Three defendants (top) were tried at Soperton, Ga. yesterday on charges of disorderly conduct and loitering as a result of Mayor James Peterson snatching Ku Klux masks from their faces. The defendants, who were freed of the disorderly conduct charges at the end of the hearing, are shown as they were being sworn to testify.  Left to right: John Edge, Malcom Braddy and Joe Green and their attorneys W.R. Lewis and J. Ross Sharpe.  Bottom: Mayor Peterson (right) talks with Sharpe (left) and Prosecuting Attorney N.G. Reeves (center) in agreeing to disqualify himself as judge at the trial.


Photo @ Augusta Chronicle June 14, 1949



Mayor Jim Peterson of Soperton, Georgia may have lost some old friends, but he gained some new ones when he ripped off the hoods of three members of the Ku Klux Klan and exposed them to the world. His actions, which would later turn out to be futile at best, signaled a new movement around the South and the nation to rid the country of the white robed villains.

It was a relatively calm Saturday night in Soperton, Georgia on the evening of May 21, 1949. A frantic phone call came in reporting that there were women who were being frightened by hooded and masked men roaming the streets of the turpentine town. Klan activity in the Treutlen County seat had been relatively quiet, according to the mayor, who said, "A few crosses have been burned in Soperton, the latest one a month ago, but we haven't had any serious trouble from the Klan."

When the mayor arrived on the scene near his own home, he noticed two hooded men skulking around in the uniformed regalia of the Ku Klux Klan. Peterson, a popular mayor in his ninth term and brother of Congressman Hugh Peterson, approached and challenged the duo to identify themselves. When they refused, Peterson snatched off the hoods of Malcom Braddy and Joe Greene, a woolen mill worker. Peterson reported that during the scuffle, Braddy, an automobile mechanic for Henry Motor Co., struck him and knocked off his glasses.

Mayor Peterson enlisted the aid of Chief of Police M.D. Ware to investigate the commotion. The mayor and chief took Braddy and Greene back to the city jail and then drove around the neighborhood looking for more hooded suspects. They saw three more Klansmen and proceeded to arrest them as well. Peterson approached John Edge, a night watchman for the Georgia Highway department, and ripped off his hood. The other two partners fled as Chief Ware sent a fusillade of bullets into their flight into the darkness.

Braddy, Greene and Edge were placed in jail but quickly freed on a hundred-dollar bond each on the charges of disorderly conduct. The men were summoned to appear in City Court on Monday morning to answer the charges against them. According to law, it was the duty of the Mayor of Soperton to act as the judge in the absence of the recently deceased recorder. The hearing was rescheduled for June 13.

In the meanwhile, Peterson and his family traveled to Annapolis, Maryland to attend the graduation of his son, Ensign William C. Peterson, from the United States Naval Academy. While he was there, the mayor received a call from a government official in the area, who once challenged the Klan himself. Peterson couldn't turn down the man's offer to discuss the situation. That man was none other than Harry S. Truman, President of the United States. The men met in the White House for about an hour, but neither of them disclosed the points they discussed. Truman congratulated Peterson on his stand, and encouraged others to fight the Klan wherever and whenever possible.

Another recent and prominent Soperton graduate came to the defense of Mayor Peterson. He was Bill Bates, editor of the University of Georgia newspaper, The Red and Black, and the valedictorian of the Class of 1949. Bates, who would serve a short term as editor of the Soperton News before entering a successful journalistic career, called the mayor's actions "a smashing blow for decency," as he proclaimed his pride for his hometown mayor.

Dr. Samuel Green, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, took offense to the mayor's actions against three of his flock. Rumors circulated throughout newspapers around the country that the Klan was going to sue the mayor for what they believed were illegal actions. Green told a writer of the Augusta Chronicle that he would prefer assault and battery charges against Peterson if they warranted. The Grand Dragon personally went to Soperton to investigate the matter. "If I find that these men were Klansmen and were conducting their business peacefully, I shall prefer charges against the mayor for jerking off their masks," promised Green, who told the reporter that under Soperton's ordinances, "The mayor had no more right to jerk of the masks than any stranger would have jerking off your hat while in your office." Peterson hoped that the Klan would not go to court, but was ready to vigorously take them on. The mayor held no grudge against the men who were charged, by citing, "The fellows involved in this incident and their associates for the most part are my friends and neighbors who have been led astray." He called them "well-meaning citizens, whose indiscretions, have been brought about by the strong and selfish leadership of the KKK."

Peterson decided that it was in his best interest and in fairness to the defendants to recuse himself and appoint James Waller, the city's mayor pro tem, in his place. With Mayor Pro-Tem Waller, a turpentine and cotton warehouse operator, presiding, a trial was held in a hot and packed court room in the back of the Bank of Soperton on the morning of June 13. Waller heard evidence from the police chief and Mrs. I. H. Hall, who testified that she was frightened by the three defendants as they lingered in the dark outside her home. Prosecutor N. G. Reeves introduced evidence to show that the defendants were carrying weapons concealed under their robes, but it was stricken from the record since the court had no jurisdiction to hear such charges. Ironically, Mayor Peterson was not called to testify.

Joe Greene was tried first and called to testify in his own defense. Greene alleged that he and the others were directing traffic to their meeting place when Peterson ran up and screamed, "What in the H are you doing here?"

Defense attorney Ross T. Sharpe shouted, "Everybody knows the only reason in the world we are trying this case is because these men were wearing hoods and robes. Are you going to say that of the 391 Klansmen in this county that everyone else, including Henry Wallace and the Communists, are welcome here, but the Klan is not?"

Sharpe continued his rant by asking the court to equate the Klansmen to Shriners and even Christians, who wore white clothing as a symbol of the purity of Christ. He loudly proclaimed that there was no law on the books which prevented the wearing of a hood or being a Klansman as he added, "You can put on your white night gown and walk down the street if you want to."

After the evidence was closed, Waller dismissed the charge for disturbing the peace against Greene by stating, "These men on both sides are all friends of mine. Joe Greene farmed for me for two or three years." His ruling applied to all of the defendants, but he reserved a ruling on the charges of loitering as he explained to the parties that he needed time to deliberate the fate of the defendants, this being his first trial he had ever handled.

On July 8th, James Waller dismissed the remaining charge of loitering and the case was legally over. In the end, Mayor Peterson's unmasking of three Soperton Klansmen was another small step in the eventual end of Klan activity in East Central Georgia just like back in the great state of Missouri, when ol' "Give 'Em Hell Harry" brought about the end to the local Klan.