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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


THERE'S COAL IN THEM THE'R HILLS - A bed of coal was found near Marion in Twiggs County in the late spring of 1828. The layer of coal was four to five feet thick and possessed the quality of coal which is common in England. The coal was found by a well digger about four miles south of Marion. It ignited readily. The extent of the bed was unknown but beds were usually found in large quantities. The discovery was hailed as being more valuable than gold or silver. Macon Telegraph, June 9, 1828 The New Hampshire Gazette, July 1, 1828; Connecticut Mirror, July 14, 1828.

WHO TURNED OUT THE SUN? - A total eclipse of the sun occurred on November 30, 1834. The center of the eclipse ran along a line from West Point in Troup County, through Dublin and to the mouth of Ebenezer Creek in Effingham County. Total darkness occurred for two minutes. The Augusta Constitutionalist said "It will be a phenomenon more sublime than all the wonders of nature or art, to see the great concern that will appear in all kinds of animals, birds, beasts and fishes, upon the extinction of the sun; and it is even said that some astronomers cannot behold a total eclipse of the sun, without some sense of horror. Very few astronomers have had the good fortune to witness the sublimity of such an eclipse; as there has been one such in Europe for two centuries and only in the same space of time in any part of this continent. The Baltimore Gazette, November 27, 1834.

DOCTOR, DOCTOR, WHERE ARE YOU? - William Parramore took out an ad offering a reward for the capture of a runaway slave, which he ironically named "Liberty." The slave, missing some of his front teeth, was described as five feet six inches tall with a yellow complexion and very large eyes. Parramore described the man as a "cunning and artful fellow" who may have been passing for a doctor for he had been pretending to be a doctor among the Negroes in his home, located five miles north of Dublin. The Georgia Journal, June 19, 1816.

CAN WE HAVE A PAINTER, PLEASE? - The Laurens County Board of Commissioners knew that the courthouse needed a good coating of paint, inside and out. After all, the nearly twenty five year old government house hadn't had a thorough whitewashing in many years. In the summer of 1918 when the "War to End All Wars" was raging in Europe, painters were busy atop the handsome structure putting paint on every piece of exposed woodwork. All of sudden, a swinging scaffolding snapped, sending two of its terrified occupants plummeting to their deaths on the ground forty feet below. Fearing that the building was jinxed, no one would step forward to finish the job. For more than half a year, the commissioners tried and miserably failed to get someone, anyone to come forward to complete the project. Finally, the work was finished in the winter of 1919. Macon Telegraph, January 20, 1919.

WELL, AT LEAST WE GOT A TROPHY - Several of Dublin's finest policeman were out on patrol near Northview Cemetery one Sunday afternoon. The participants in a card game of skin noticed the boys in blue and skedaddled as fast as a rabbit running from a pack of beagles. It was then that two of the pursuers hurdled a big rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike. A third man missed in his hurried attempts to kill the venomous serpent. Officer Meade turned and fired a point blank and bull's eye shot in the triangular head of the ten-rattle rattler. With no prisoners to be found anywhere, the men brought back their trophy which the hung on the wall of the fire department. Macon Telegraph, August 20, 1919.

HERE A STILL, THERE A STILL, EVERYWHERE A STILL - Folks in Dublin and Laurens County loved their liquor. They followed the Apostle Paul's command in his letter to Timothy, "Still do not drink water, but a little wine each day for thy stomach's sake and they frequent infirmities." In an effort to confound revenue agents and unsympathetic deputies and policeman, liquor lovers put their stills in all sorts of places where they couldn't be found, or so they thought.

D.N. Leonard believed that if he put his still right under the nose of law enforcement officials he would be safe. Leonard kept a big beer barrel in his house and put his liquor still out in the back yard as if no one would notice. But, Deputy Federal Collector E.C. Pierce and City Court Sheriff Tindol did. They found the booze and mash maker within five blocks of the court, confiscated it, and threw the perplexed prisoner in the hoosegow.

When officers Pierce and Tindol were hot on the trail of more suspected hootch, they discovered the trail ended on the edge of a pond surrounded by trees. They jumped aboard a bateau they found on the banks. They found that a a clever crew of moonshiners, headed by Monroe Hall, concocted a more devious plan than ol' Mr. Leonard. The men constructed a platform in the middle of a large pond filled with cypress trees. The shiners cut off tops of several of the water loving trees and placed three large stills. Also sitting on the deck were 200 gallons of beer, ready for some thirsty throats. Macon Telegraph, August 1, 1919, October 7, 1919.

GERONIMO! ! - During the Civil War the use of lighter than air balloons was a new way to observe the movements and positions of infantry, artillery and cavalry. A half century later, once again the hot air balloons were used by the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. James Crowder, of Dublin, was assigned to a company of balloonists. His experiences, to say the least were exciting, dangerous and on one occasion nearly deadly. Often the balloonists could only remain in the air for just a few minutes before they were forced to land because of incoming German fighter planes.

It was during the offensive to take control of the Argonne Forest that Crowder and his company were sitting 1800 feet above the battle field attempting to gaze through the smoke to ascertain the position of the German army. German gunners fired phosphorous coated incendiary bullets at the balloons. Several rounds hit Crowder's balloon setting it on fire. There was no choice but to bail out. With the balloon on fire, the men put on their parachutes and jumped from their basket to safety. Macon Telegraph, May 24, 1919.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The Best Ever?

Billed as the best St. Patrick's ever held in Dublin, at least in the first five years of the now 45-year celebration of St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, the 1970 festival featured many outstanding celebrity visitors. Although it lasted only eight days, the festival achieved several festival firsts and lasts.

It all began bright and early on a Saturday morning at Brown's Restaurant on North Jefferson Street with a kick off breakfast honoring the beauty queens of Laurens County's high schools. Al Hatcher, Jr., a candidate for State Comptroller General, was the guest speaker at the event sponsored by the Dublin Jaycees.

After the opening of the golf tournament at Green Acres golf course and a bowling tournament at Laurens Lanes, all eyes were focused on the beautiful teenage girls competing for the title of Miss Laurens County Teenager in a pageant which evolved into Miss St. Patrick's Festival. Beth Bussell, one of the prettiest girls ever to walk the halls of Dublin High School, won the crown.

Festival goers took most of the day off on Sunday, except for the conclusion of the bowling tournament. The festivities resumed on Monday with the Little Mr. and Mrs. Dublin contest at the City Auditorium. Linc Jones and Teresa Tomlinson were named as the winners as the cutest of the cute. Richie Everly, son of festival founder Anne Everly, and Karen Page were selected as runners up.

The all time favorite Pancake Supper was held at Central Elementary School. For those who didn't get enough to eat, an Irish Stew Supper was held in the hall of the American Legion. For those who were full and wanted a few belly laughs, a woman-less beauty pageant was held at the City Auditorium.

A Wednesday night supper was sponsored by the Catholic Church after a day of kite flying in the parking lot of the Shamrock Bowl. Nestled in between all of the activities was the grand opening of 441 Putt Away Miniature Golf on North Jefferson Street. Although it wasn't the city's first miniature golf course, it was the first in a long time. Believe it or not, it is still there, just next door to Po Boy's Meat Market.

The Dublin High Band Boosters invited everyone to drop by on Thursday night and eat or pick up a barbecue plate. They were good. I know. I sold several of them and ate one myself. My momma's delicious potato salad made it on the plates of several lucky buyers. Another evening of feasting concluded with the Leprechaun Contest at the auditorium. Dick Killebrew, WMLT radio host and festival founder, hosted the crowning of the best leprechauns, an honor which went to Laura Carswell and Joby Redmond. Marty Thomas and Susan Durant came in second, while Kevin Corbin and Judy Maffett came in third.

A festival first occurred on Friday morning when Johnny Boyd addressed the boys and girls of Dublin and East Laurens High Schools on the issue of highway safety. It was a time when fifty thousand people were being killed every year on the nation's roads, more than the total casualties of the entire Vietnam War. Boyd, a twelve-race veteran of the Indy 500 and a member of the Champion 100-mile Club, was brought to the town by Dublin Auto Parts.

When U.S. Congressman William Stuckey, of Eastman, was running late for his scheduled address to the Joint Civic Luncheon at the Dublin Country Club, Festival Chairman John Hambrick began to panic. There was no need to worry. Waiting in the wings was Vince Dooley, who just happened to be in town for the festival. Dooley, no stranger to sticky situations as an Auburn quarterback and on the sidelines of Sanford Stadium between the hedges, stepped to the podium and scored a touchdown with the audience. Dooley praised local football hero Ronnie Rogers as one of the team's best senior leaders. It was the second time that day that Dooley spoke in town. He earlier spoke to the Touchdown Clubs of Dublin and Laurens County.

For his double duty, Coach Dooley was presented one of the first shillelaghs produced by the Georgia Manufacturing plant in Dublin. The event presented for the first time Mayor Lester Porter's idea for the Irish wooden walking stick, one which was made by the local company headed by Don Lamb. Dooley left Dublin that day with an arm load of mementoes including a green jacket, a membership in the Order of the Shillelagh, and a plaque naming him as the Honorary State Leprechaun of the 1970 Festival. Oh, Congressman Stuckey, Area Honorary Leprechaun, did make it, just in time to get his jacket, shillelagh and plaque after most of the crowd had gone home.

The Lions Club sponsored the annual Award's Banquet at the Methodist Church. Another congressman, G. Elliott Hagan, who had served Laurens County in Congress, was on hand to welcome the featured speaker for the evening, the Hon. Irish Embassy Secretary Jeremy Michael Craig, who contrasted life in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland to life in Dublin, Georgia. Craig, wearing his new green jacket, holding his National Honorary Leprechaun plaque, and carrying his shillelagh, commented on the number of churches in town and the fact that they seemed to cooperate with each other more than in his home.

Mary Jean Edwards, a Dexter High senior, was selected as Youth of the Year. Mildred Leavitt, a community volunteer and sweet lady, was chosen as the Woman of the Year. Banker Lamar Hogan, long known as a leader of community promoting events, joined Mrs. Leavitt in receiving the highly humbling award. Mrs. Luther Word knew much happiness during her long life, but she also suffered her own share of despair. Her only son, Luther B. Word, Jr., was awarded the Silver Star in giving his life for his country in World War II. Despite all of the tragedy in her life, Mrs. Word was honored by her community for always looking ahead during times of challenge. Dick Killebrew, who co-founded the festival in 1966, was honored as the first "Honorary Local Leprechaun."

The big and final day came on Saturday. Irish eyes were twinkling as the dreary skies were sprinkling rain drops. Though the crowds were small, the parade went ahead as scheduled. It was the last time when the all black bands of Oconee, Millville and B.D. Perry High Schools would perform on the streets of Dublin. A dozen bands, the most ever, included bands from Hawkinsville, Irwinton, and Lyons, as well as the last performance of Laurens High and the first of West Laurens High.

Lost among the politicians was a little known candidate for governor. Though no one in the crowd, or the nation for that matter, would have ever dreamed of it, the farmer riding in the car was none other than Jimmy Carter, who, within seven years, would become the President of the United States, making this festival the first time that a United States President appeared in the St. Patrick's parade.

The 1970 Festival ended with a second golf tournament at the Dublin Country Club, the conclusion of the Bowling tournament, and a race at 441 Speedway. Courier Herald editor W.H. Champion lauded the committee, organizers and participants. He challenged the following year's organizers to match and improve the 1971 festival. Champion proclaimed that the entire event was an example of what a large number of people can do to show that we all can love our Dublin as much as the Irish people love their own Dublin.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This outcropping of Altamaha grit sandstone lies in southern Laurens County, Georgia along a tributary of Ochwalkee Creek. There are more than fifty boulders. Many of the rocks show striations of water flow. Found amongst the rocks are several varieties of lichens, fat lightered knots, wiregrass an many other rare plants.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


United States Post Office, Allentown, Ga.

National bank note from the First National Bank of Dublin, Georgia.  This note was issued in 1902 by the bank, which was then located at the northeast corner of W. Jackson St. and N. Lawrence St. in Dublin.

Bank of Dudley, circa. 1905.  The oldest bank in continuous operation in Laurens County, Georgia.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Who was the first to do something? The answer to that frequently asked question is often difficult to answer. Some firsts are documented while others are the subject of legend and speculation.

For centuries, women were systematically excluded from history books and newspaper articles.

So, during this month of March, the National Women's History Month Project is seeking to write women back into history.

Women's History Month had its origin in 1979 when a Sonoma County School District began a week of celebrating the contributions of women to the history of America. In 1981, the United States Congress adopted a resolution proclaiming National Women's History Week. The week long celebration was expanded to include the entire month of March in 1987.

Here is my list of fifty female firsts by Laurens County Women. I let you know about these women to honor them and all women who have contributed to their communities. They are in no particular order, except they are roughly chronological.

1. Unity Register was the first woman to get married in Laurens County. She married Matthew Smith on Feburary 19, 1809.

2. Averilla Albritton, Rachel Allen and Mary Barlow were the first three women to have their wills probated in the Inferior Court of Laurens County, all on March 10, 1823.

3. Isabella Hamilton Blackshear was the first woman to enter Wesleyan College in Macon in 1836. Wesleyan was the first college in the world to offer degrees to women.

4. Eugenia Tucker Cochran Fitzgerald was the first president of the Adelphean Society at Wesleyan College. The society became Alpha Delta Pi and is the oldest women's sorority in the world.

5. Elizabeth Cummings Harrington was one of the first black female dentists in Alabama.

6. Dr. Annie Yarborough was one of the first, if not the first, black female dentists in the State of Georgia. She began her practice in 1911.

7. Piccola Prescott was named the first female postal carrier in the county in 1918.

8. Pearl Cummings Davis was the first black female pharmacist in Laurens County and one of the first in Georgia.

9. Maggie New was the first woman to register to vote in 1920.

10. Mrs. W. H. Beall was the first female mayor of a Laurens County town. Mrs. Beall was elected Mayor of Brewton in 1921.

11. Mrs. M.E. Brantley, Mrs. M.F. Beall, Mrs. F.A. Brantley, Mrs. C.G. Moye and Mrs. H.B. Sutton joined Mrs. W. H. Beall in winning elections as the first five women to serve on the council of a Laurens County town.

12. Mrs. Annie Anderson in 1922 was named as Judge of the Juvenile Court of Laurens County, Georgia, making Judge Anderson the first female judge in the state's history.

13. Mary Rachel Jordan, in 1924, was credited as the first woman to vote in a county election.

14. Kathleen Duggan Smith graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1924. Mrs. Duggan was the first Laurens County woman to practice law.

15. Opal Glenn Rife was named as the pastor of the First Church of the Nazerene in Dublin, making Rev. Rife the first female minister in the county.

16. Mrs. Frank Lawson, a political activist, was the first woman to be named vice-chairman of a Democratic Congressional District Committee in Georgia in 1927.

17. Mrs. J.E. Perry, it was said, was the first woman in the United States to have a haircut while flying in an airplane. Mrs. Perry's feat was accomplished in 1927 while flying upside down.

18. Henrietta Stanley Dull published Southern Cooking, long considered the bible of southern cookbooks. The first book written by a Laurens County woman was first published in 1928. The cookbook is still being sold in stores today.

19. In 1933, Aretha Miller Smith, at the age of 19, became the youngest female lawyer in the history of Georgia.

20. That same year, Jessie Baldwin was named as the first female clerk of the Dublin District of the Southern District of the Federal Court.

21. Elizabeth Garrett Page was selected as the first female member of the Dublin City Board of Education in 1933.

22. Charlotte Hightower Harrell became the first female court reporter in the state.

23. Maryan Smith Harris was the first local female to join the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, the W.A.V.E.S., in World War II.

24. Madge Hilbun Methvin was the first Laurens County woman to publish a newspaper, the Vienna News.

25. Cherry Waldrep Clements was the first woman in the history of the University of Georgia to earn a master's degree in Math Education.

26. Ruth Gordon, a health nurse for Laurens County, was the first woman to join Post No. 17 of the American Legion in Dublin. Gordon, who joined the post in 1942, served as a nurse during World War I.

27. Meanwhile Alta Mae Hammock and Brancy Horne were the first Laurens County women to join the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, the W.A.A.C.s, in World War II.

28. Bessye P. Deveraux was named as the first woman in the Charleston Shipyards to earn an Outstanding Workmanship Award, one awarded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

29. In 1940, Mrs. W.O. "Annie" Prescott was appointed as the first female Justice of the Peace in Laurens County. Mrs. Prescott, who succeeded her husband, was charged with hearing cases within the jurisdiction of the Buckeye Militia District.

30. Selina Burch, a graduate of Dublin High School, became a leading advocate for telephone workers and one of the first female Union leaders in the Southeast.

31. The 1951 Cedar Grove girls' basketball team was the first Laurens County women's team to capture a state championship.

32. In 1955, Mrs. Guy V. Cochran and Betty Lovett Yeomans were the first women selected to the jury pool. Later that same year, Mrs. Duncan Weatherall was the first woman to serve on a trial jury.

33. Also in 1955, Mrs. Ruby D. Young, known as a "pistol packing mama," served as the first woman bailiff.

34. Rubye Jackson, a Laurens County native, was the first female assistant attorney general in Georgia.

35. Dr. Annella Brown became the first Laurens County woman to practice medicine and was the first female board certified surgeon in the Northeastern United States.

36. Henrietta Bidgood earned the title of the first Laurens County woman to be elected to a county office when she was elected County Treasurer.

37. Dr. Eleanor Ison-Franklin became the first woman, either black or white, to head the medical department of a major university, Howard University, in the early 1970s.

38. Sarah Hadden, of Rentz, was appointed by Judge R.I. Stephens as the first female Laurens County jury commissioner in the 1950s. Mrs. Hadden was one of the first female commissioners in the state.

39. In December 1968, Lela Warnock replaced her late husband, Dewey Warnock, as the first and only female county commissioner in Laurens County's history.

40. Eugenia Rawls, the first female Laurens Countian to appear on broadway, television and movies, was honored as the first American actress to play the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. Rawls was also the first Laurens County woman to appear on Broadway and television.

41. Anne Lovett was the first woman to obtain a PhD degree in Chemistry from Georgia Tech.

42. Sharon Tucker, a graduate of Dublin's Oconee High School, graduated as the first black female graduate of the University of Georgia Law School in 1974.

43. The Rev. Irene Tos, who served a term as pastor of Pinehill Methodist Church, was the first female minister of the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

44. Tina Price Cochran, a two-sport all state high school and college player at the University of Georgia where she set many records, was one of the first women chosen in the first women's professional basketball league draft in 1978. Mrs. Cochran was recently cited by Bulldog historian Dan McGill as the best female two-sport star in Georgia history.

45. Probate Court Judge Helen W. Harper was the first woman to be elected as a judge in the history of the county in 1980.

46. Barbara Sanders Thomas, a graduate of Oconee High School, rose in the ranks of CBS radio to become the company's first female African-American vice-president.

47. In 1988, Sydney Kyzer Morton was chosen as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, making Mrs. Morton the first woman in the county to attend a major national party convention.

48. The 1997 Dublin High School softball team was the first Dublin female team to win a state championship.

49. Gen. Belinda H. Pinckney attended both Oconee High School and Dublin High School, before graduating from East Laurens High School. This thirty three plus year veteran of the United States Army is currently head of the Army's Diversity Task Force and is one of the highest ranking female African American generals in the history of our country's armed forces.

50. Soffie Thigpen, a Laurens County native, in November 2004 became the highest ranking female officer in the Georgia State Patrol.

And, here's a few more. Kathy Beall Sweat was the first female member of the Dublin-Laurens Development Authority. Mrs. Sweat served with Willie Paulk, the first female Chamber of Commerce Director. Geva Alexander was the first female president of the Chamber of Commerce and the first female director of the Downtown Development Authority. Kathy Hogan Henderson was the first female law enforcement officer in Dublin and Laurens County. Jane Meeks Christian was the first female to wear the uniform of the East Dublin Police Department.  Lajean Kirby was the first female disc jockey in Laurens County.

Ellie Wilson Washington was the first black female telephone operator for Souther Bell Telephone Co. in Dublin, beginning work in 1968.  Mrs. Washington, of Millville Church Community, worked long distance, local, directory assistance, Cama operator, etc. She also worked as a CWA Union Representative for local Southern Bell and was the first black to work there.

Shirley Willis was the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors for the Progressive Rural Telephone Co-op. The Co-op serves the telephone, cable television and Internet access needs of the smaller cities and communities surrounding Dublin. Mrs. Willis, a representative for Dudley, completed the term of her husband, Tommy Willis, after he passed away in 1986.  She has continued to be elected by the members of the Co-op to serve in that position.

Thank you,

If you know of more female firsts, please let me know at To learn more about the history of the women of Laurens County, go to