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

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Jonathan Sawyer was immortalized by James Joyce in his nonsensical work, Finnegan's Wake. But to those of us who live in Dublin, Georgia, Jonathan Sawyer is our founding father. Little has been written about the man. And, some of that has been woefully misprinted. Just about two hundred years ago, the tiny post office of Dublin, Georgia was established by its first postmaster and the founder of Dublin, Jonathan Sawyer.

Although for a century Sawyer has been called an Irishman, he was in fact a Massachusetts Yankee. Born around the time of the American Revolution in Westminster, Massachusetts, Jonathan Sawyer came to the capital city of Louisville, Georgia in the early 1800s to seek and find his fortune. Sawyer went into business with his brother-in-law, David McCormick, son of Dr. James McCormick. With no fortune in sight, Sawyer decided instead to try his hand in the genesis of a new town.

He settled at a place called "Sand Bar" on the banks of the Oconee River where an old Indian trail crossed. Sawyer was granted a license by the Inferior Court of Laurens County to sell spiritous liquors during its August 1809 term. At the time, the county seat of Laurens County was at Sumpterville, some five miles inland to the west. But Sawyer knew that sooner or later, the center of the county would need to be moved to the banks of the Oconee River.

Jonathan Sawyer married Elizabeth McCormick. Elizabeth McCormick was not a native of Ireland, but of Baltimore, Maryland. Her granddaughter, Ann Eliza Oakley, reported that her grandmother Sawyer had once taken a trip to Dublin, Ireland to visit the land of her ancestors. Oakley said, "They loved at first sight and were soon married. He built the first house in Dublin." For centuries, those who knew Mr. Sawyer wasn't Irish, believed in their hearts that Mrs. Sawyer was from the land of shamrocks and leprechauns. Mrs. Oakley, during an extended visit to Dublin in 1908, once and for all confirmed that the founder of Dublin was not Peter Sawyer, but indeed Jonathan Sawyer.

The Sawyers had three children, two boys and a girl, none of whose names have survived the sands of time. Sometime about the early part of the year 1810, Elizabeth Sawyer died during the birth of her daughter.

No trace of Elizabeth Sawyer's ground could be found on her granddaugther's visit in 1905. It could be presumed that she was buried near the Sawyer home or perhaps in the city cemetery on the northwestern corner of the town, just inside the front gate.

The Sawyers had a close family relationship with Laurens County's most preeminent citizen, Gov. George Troup. The former United States senator and congressman married Anne St. Claire McCormick, a sister of Mrs. Sawyer. Hessie McCormick, another sister, married James Jackson, who moved to Gainesville and later Alabama, where he served as a college president. Brother David McCormick lived in the Dublin area before removing elsewhere. His son, Pollard McCormick became a millionaire in the iron business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In his correspondence with the editors of the Dublin Times, T.F. Sawyer, of Hutchinson, Kansas, related the stories of his father, the only surviving child of Jonathan and Elizabeth Sawyer. Ironically, the Sawyer's son's name is never mentioned. Sawyer said, "My grandfather would send a Negro after my father on Saturdays or at the end of each month, riding one horse and leading another, and some times during vacations how he would run away from his home, or from his uncles, with the young Negro boys and spend weeks at neighboring plantation." He concluded the story by saying "Then a Negro would come and capture him and take him on the horse behind him and he would pull the servant's wool and scratch his face; thence when he got home, I remember he said Uncle Jackson made him thrash the young colored boys who had been with him telling him to put it on harder, what he did not give, then he (Jackson) would have to give his father and usually gave him more than he gave his companions."

On another occasion, Jonathan Sawyer and his son were out for a pleasure ride on horseback and met the rival merchant from up or down the river who was desirous of settling a little matter with the Dublin founder. The other man told him to get off his horse and would take it out of his hide. Young Sawyer began to cry. The six-foot, two-fisted New Englander dismounted, handed the lines to the young Sawyer, and commenced business. Sawyer took the man's pistols away from him and got full satisfaction as they left him lying by the side of the road. As the Sawyers approached the nearest plantation and requested the neighbors to go and gather him up and revive him, the young boy was still crying.

It has been written by some that Jonathan Sawyer gave the land for the Laurens County courthouse and the town of Dublin. In reality, the 101.5-acre half land lot where the city of Dublin originated was sold to the commissioners of the public buildings Laurens County by Joseph L. Hill on March 11, 1811 for the nominal sum of $100.00. Sawyer bought the other half of the lot from Hill on the same day for $200.00.

Sawyer accumulated nearly a thousand acres on the west side of the river in and around Dublin and nearly an equal amount on the eastern side. At one time, Sawyer owned lands at Fish Trap Cut, which he sold later sold to his brother-in-law George M. Troup.

The financial troubles which plagued Jonathan Sawyer from his founding of Dublin culminated in 1817. Sawyer removed himself and his family to the port city of Darien in southeastern Georgia. Sawyer caused a notice to be published in the Georgia Journal that he was currently engaged in the factoring and commission business in Darien in the late fall of 1817. Sawyer later joined forces with the firm of T. Herring, which was based in New York City.

Sawyer was elected in 1821 as Clerk of the McIntosh County Court of Ordinary and served as many as three terms in a position which involved the issuance of marriage licenses and the administration of estates.

Jonathan Sawyer, the man who named our home, died in February 1847 in Anderson Courthouse, South Carolina. This once active and successful man simply faded away.

The date of the establishment of the post office of Dublin occurred between April 25 and May 6, 1811. No one knows for sure. However, Friday marks the first written record of the post office of Dublin, Georgia, which would not officially become a town until December 1812. So now you know that Dublin, the name sake of the heart of all Irish folk around the world, was not founded by an Irishman but by a New England Yankee, who loved his wife so much that he gave us our most wonderful name of Dublin, which by the way in ancient Gaelic "An Dubh Linn," which means "black pond" or "black pool."

Friday, June 24, 2011



Former Dublin Man Was Respected Journalist

by: Scott B. Thompson, Sr.

John Martin Couric, father of network news journalist and host, Katie Couric, and a former resident of Dublin, died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 from complications due to Parkinson's Disease. Couric began his journalistic career as a general reporter for the Dublin Courier Herald while he was attending Dublin High School. Couric went on to a forty-year career in journalism and business before retiring in 1985.

Born in Brunswick, Georgia on August 28, 1920, Couric was the son of John Martin Couric, Sr. and Wildie Hibbler. The senior Couric was a cotton merchant and exporter. The Courics lived on Bellevue Avenue in a home located adjoining the current location of Bubba's Tire Center. After his graduation from Dublin High School, Couric worked for his university's publications and graduated in 1941 from Mercer University in Macon, where he later worked as a reporter for the Macon Telegraph.

John Couric joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. He served in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific and participated in the invasions of Sicily, Tarawa, Peleliu, the Philippines, and Okinawa. Couric continued to serve his country in the Naval Reserves, retiring in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant commander

As a political reporter, Couric covered the always fascinating Georgia politics and the activities under the golden dome in the state capital for the Atlanta Constitution. He joined the United Press wire service in the late 1940s and continued to cover politics. In 1948, John was named head of the United Press office in Tallahassee, Florida. Among his most heralded reports were his coverage of Georgia governor Herman Talmadge and a 1949 hurricane which ravaged the east coast of Florida.

In 1951, Couric was assigned to the Washington Bureau of the United Press. He began to write more about national events, including Senate Majority Leader and later President, Lyndon B. Johnson's heart attack. Couric eventually became Assistant News Editor.

He was an editor with United Press before leaving his position to enter the field of public relations in 1957. He worked with the National Association of Broadcasters as a Chief Writer and Manager of News and Publications, a role in which he supervised newspaper, magazine and on-the-air programs. In 1963, Couric, a member of President John F. Kennedy's Committee on the Employment of Handicapped and a committee of the National Commission on Community Health Services, was promoted to Vice President of Public Relations for the NAB. Couric also served in a position with the American Health Care Association. After six years of service with the Food and Drug Administration, John Couric retired in 1985.

Couric was a member of the National Safety Council, American Heart Association, American Nursing Home Association, National Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi Professional Journalistic Society, Public Relations Society of America, Broadcasters Promotions Association, Washington Trade Association Executives, and countless other organizations, boards, and committees.

Mr. Couric received a master's degree in communications from American University in 1968 and was an adjunct professor of journalism and public relations in the university's graduate program and the University of Maryland twenty-seven years.

Couric, who reportedly gave up a promising career in print journalism for public relations, encouraged his daughter Katie to go into broadcast journalism because it was more exciting than print journalism.

During her commencement address at Mercer University in 1996, Katie Couric reminisced about her father and his influence on her life and career. "I am in awe of my father's generation. And I am in awe of my father. He is a man of intelligence, compassion, gentility, humor, integrity and honor. Some parents tell their children to do as I say, not as I do. My sisters, my brother and I did as he said, but we also became the people we are by watching him every day," she said. "Recently, when my dad was getting a prescription filled, the pharmacist called out his name and asked, 'Are you Katie Couric's father?' 'No,' he said, 'she's my daughter.' I am indeed and for that I am lucky, grateful and proud. Thirty-six years from now, if my daughters can say the same thing, that will be the true measure of my success."

Mr. Couric is survived by his wife, Elinor H. Couric, and children Clara Batchelor of Brookline, Mass., Katie Couric of New York, NY, and John M. Couric, Jr. of Arlington, Va. His oldest daughter, former Virginia State Senator Emily Couric, preceded him in death in October 2001.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


When Jimmy King arrived aboard a troop train at Camp Wheeler outside of Macon, Georgia, it was hot, real hot! Jimmy had grown up in the snowy lands of Minnesota and had never been in the deep South for that long in his life. Jimmy was in the Army then. Before the sun came up, he was up. After the sun went down, it was time to get some rest for the next arduous day of training. Only the few trips into town or over to nearby Lakeside Park for a refreshing swim broke the monotony and adversity of basic training.

When he was still a growing young boy, Jimmy found it difficult to sit inside a classroom all day. Finding school too confining, Jimmy wanted nothing more than to walk home through the great outdoors after school. It was his father who taught Jimmy how to shoot, hunt, and fish. It was his mother who instilled in Jimmy and his brother Pete the love of reading. Jimmy became fascinated by stories of sailing. His mother often took Jimmy and his brother on long hikes around the lakes near his home, wanting her sons to become more involved in social activities. Jimmy once said, "All I wanted to do was to escape society and stay in the woods." One thing Jimmy loved to do was to sit inside his grandmother's home for hours and listen to opera records by Enrico Caruso and other singers..

Jimmy's father rented a cabin on Ox Island for ten years. Up until the time Jimmy starting working in the summers, he spent weeks every summer on Ox Island, hunting, camping, and fishing. During the winters, Jimmy loved to skate and to ski. He and his father built an ice boat. When the wind was right, Jimmy's boat would top nearly 40 miles per hour on the frozen lakes.

A poor student in school, Jimmy joined the junior high glee club. At least Jimmy loved to sing. He tried his hand at football, but hated the discipline it required. Jimmy just wanted to be free. Jimmy's parents found out that he was often skipping school, so they transferred him to a new high school. Although he continued to miss classes, Jimmy continued to excel at singing. He even joined the prestigious Hennepin Ave. Methodist Church choir.

It was about that time when the allure of the freight train almost seduced Jimmy away from his love of singing. Jimmy and friends often hopped on a freight train to ride to nearby towns and then to far away cities. But, Jimmy always made sure he was back home just in time for two choir performances every Sunday.

In the summer of his junior year in high school, Jimmy worked for the first half of his vacation, and then, upon the promise of his father who matched his wages, Jimmy set off on a journey working on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. When he returned for his senior year, Jimmy continued to struggle but eventually graduated in the summer of 1942. Then it was off to a logging camp in Idaho, where the young man earned $90.00 a week.

The country was at war. Jimmy wanted to be a naval pilot, but he exceeded the height limit. His eyes were bad too. Bowing to pressure from his mother, Jimmy entered Beloit College. But, when Jimmy loved to party more than he needed to study, he left college dreaming of going into the Merchant Marines or even better, the Ski troops, who were being trained for mountain warfare in Europe. When he thought he was going just to do that, the troop train detoured to Macon, Georgia.

Jimmy enjoyed boot camp at Camp Wheeler. The 20-mile hikes were nothing to Jimmy, not even in the hot Georgia sun. "I hardly broke a sweat," he recalled. He met new buddies, coal miners from Pennsylvania, mountain men from the hills and accountants from large cities. Jimmy, for a change, was a part of a group and loved the regimentation and drills of the Army.

Jimmy's ship arrived in Casablanca, North Africa. Jimmy had seen the movie Casablanca back at Camp Wheeler. He kept looking around for Bogart-like characters, but never saw one. In the days after Christmas 1943, Jimmy and his buddies were waiting for an amphibious landing in Italy. Then the day came. "We heard our craft's engines revving up, then we moved out toward our assigned beaches. As we waited for incoming fire, I tried to concentrate on images of home. So much that was unknown and frightening lay ahead, while behind me lay everything I knew and everyone I loved. I kept the pictures in my mind for as long as I could," Jimmy later recalled. Because of his enormous height, Jimmy was the first off the landing craft to test the depth of the water.

After a relatively easy landing, the American forces were outnumbered four to one. One evening Jimmy and his unit were creeping through a vineyard. Jimmy found himself right in front of a German machine gun nest. All of sudden. there was fire whizzing by and then an explosion. Jimmy's lower right leg was shattered. He leaped over the grape vines and laid on the ground for hours, nearly going into shock. After being field treated by a medic, Jimmy was sent to a hospital to recuperate. A while later, Jimmy, with a purple heart pinned to his uniform, was reunited with his brother Pete, who was a crewman on a B-25. Jimmy never quite recovered from his wounds. Later in life he would do all of his long walking early in the morning before his leg became too sore. Jimmy received a disability pension of $56.00 a month. The pension, which rose to $500.00, lasted for more than 55 years.

After the war, Jimmy's mother again began to push him to return to college. Jimmy relented and began to take courses in radio announcing. He tried it for a while and was later convinced to join a movie production company. There he met Marion. Jim and Marion became best friends. Marion hired Jim to work under him on various projects.

Another company began to pester Jimmy about leaving Marion's company for a new job. They promised him a bigger salary and more opportunities. Jimmy had misgivings about leaving his friend, but took the job. When he informed Marion of his decision, his former boss strongly suggested that he take the job. He pointed out that he too had worked on small jobs, which led to bigger and better jobs.

In fact, Marion went before the cameras to tell America about a new tv show. When he first heard of the show, he knew that only Jimmy would be right for the role. Marion went on to say, "He's a young fella. I'll predict that he'll be a big star, so you might as well get used to him as you got used to me." Marion knew a little bit about acting.

By now, you may know Marion Morrison by his stage name, John Wayne. Wayne ended his introduction of his good friend, Jimmy King, by saying, "And now I'm proud to present my friend, Jim Arness, in Gunsmoke."

You know the story of James King Arness, the tall, shy Minnesotan, who hated school, but loved the outdoors, singing, skiing, and sailing, and who nearly gave his life for his country in World War II. You know the stories of the strong silent hero who gave us 20 years of thrills in his role as U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon. And, now you know the rest of the story of a giant gentle man who began his military career right here in Central Georgia, sixty eight years ago this summer.

In memory of James Arness and Paul Harvey, two of my favorite all time heroes. And, to my mother, Jane Scott Thompson, who lived and worked at Lakeside Park that summer renting bathing suits to the Camp Wheeler soldiers and keeping the change they left in their pockets.

The material for this article came from the Autobiogrpahy of James Arness.
All photos @ James Arness

Friday, June 10, 2011


Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in a story book wedding broadcast live instantly all around the world. Such was not the case in a few Laurens County weddings over the years. They were strange. And, some were down right weird. Some were funny. Others were thrilling. And some, were utterly dismaying. In this month of June when brides reign, here are a few stories about some of our less than royal weddings.

A DOG IS MAN'S BEST FRIEND - Collier Walker was desperately in love with Annie Leonard. Invitations to the gala ceremony at the Christian Church were mailed. Every possible arrangement was made. The groom's best friend went to the courthouse and purchased the license. The bride's friend's dresses were tailored perfectly to fit, even after a big Christmas feast. The couple had been sweethearts for a long time. Unknown to Mr. Walker, a resident of Atlanta, Thomas Beall had an eye for his bride. And, so did the bride for Beall. Two days after Christmas and two days before her scheduled marriage to Walker, an engraver with the Southern Engraving Company, the indecisive bride accompanied Beall to Wrightsville, where they married. Meanwhile, the jilted groom was already in town planning for the nuptials. Annie set off on her honeymoon with her beloved Thomas. You know him, he was the guy who bought the marriage license for his best friend, Collier Walker.

THE FAMILY THAT MARRIES TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER - Robert N. Thompson, lost his first wife, Rutha Beasley Thompson on July 10, 1922. Next, Thompson married Maggie Hester. "Long Bob," as he was known to his friends, was quite fond of his new bride. She had been married before. In point of fact, Maggie had been married two times before. Her first husband was Henry Hester. When Henry died, Mattie didn't have to go far to find husband number two. The widow married John Hester, her brother-in-law and brother of her late husband, Henry. When John joined Henry in eternal rest, Maggie Hester set out to find a new mate.

Once again, Maggie wasn't much for establishing a new relationship with a stranger, so when R.N. Thompson, whom she had known earlier in her life, proposed marriage, she readily accepted. And in the early days of November 1922, the couple was married. Obviously, Mr. Thompson wasn't a brother of her first two husbands, but he was the husband of her deceased sister, Rutha, who had just passed away. Both Rutha and Maggie were great children of James Beasley. And, not surprisingly, so was Robert N. Thompson. After their marriage "Long Bob," seventy years old, and Maggie, fifty years old, moved to Scott, Georgia, where they lived happily ever after as husband and wife, second cousins, and as former brother and sister-in-law. Long Bob died in 1936 and Maggie died six years later.

BRIDGE OVER BLISSFUL WATERS - Sophie Smith, of Scott, Georgia, and George Sell, of Washington County, wanted to say their wedding vows in a special place. Smith, the popular assistant principal of the Scott school, and Sell, a promising young farmer, invited H.E. Purvis to witness the nuptials. The bride asked her principal, T.M. Luke, who happened to be a minister, to officiate at her wedding. The quartet set out for Dublin in search of the ideal spot. After riding around for some time and some how missing Stubbs Park, the party drove out toward the limits of the city on North Jefferson Street. When they reached the edge of the city, they stopped their trek on what is now North Franklin Street. The couple stood up in their car, which was then sitting atop the bridge over Hunger and Hardship Creek. Rev. Luke said the requisite words and the couple said their "I dos." on a bridge over blissful waters.

MARRY YOU AT RECESS? John Hinton, an Ashburn machinist, was deeply in love with Miss Marword Prince, daughter of former sheriff, J.D. Prince. Just before a noon recess from Dublin High School, Hinton picked up his beloved and took her to the home of the Rev. A.M. Williams to get married. Rev. Williams convinced the couple to call her mother and tell her of her desire to marry. The couple had been planning an elopement for a year, since Sheriff Prince was adamantly opposed to the marriage of their daughter who was still in school. Hinton left town and as they say, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." The Princes relented and reluctantly gave their permission for the ceremony to proceed. The bride wore her school dress. After the wedding, the Hintons stopped by the Prince home, picked up her clothes, and set out to begin their married life in Ashburn.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD - Dr. Hugh McCall Moore had a plan. He planned to marry his sweetheart, Lily Smith. No obstacle in his path would block his desire to live happily ever after with his bride. First Moore bought a license. Then he laid low for six months. The doctor set aboard a train for LaGrange, where his beloved was attending college. Moore registered at The Andrews House under the cryptic name of "Eroom," or Moore spelled backwards. LaGrange's police chief discovered the young man's designs and inexplicably threatened to arrest the prospective groom if he attempted to marry Miss Smith.

Unintimidated by the officer's warnings, Moore took a photograph of the campus, marked with the words "meet here" to indicate a prearranged rendevous spot. As Moore looked around the terraced hills of the campus, he saw his love running toward him. He also spotted a professor, who had gained knowledge of the forbidden marriage. Lily jumped in the carriage. The couple set out along roads deeply embedded with mud to the east of town to the home of Bob Dix, an aging Confederate solider who had befriended Moore during his brief stay.

As Justice of the Peace J.C. Cotter was about to begin the marriage ceremony, LaGrange police appeared on the scene and arrested the Dublin dentist. Dr. Moore produced a duly issued license and reminded the officers that they had no jurisdiction to arrest him outside of the city limits. The lawmen reluctantly withdrew and the proceedings took place. Proud of her new husband, the eighteen-year-old bride announced to the media, "Tell them (her detractors) I walked down the hill while all the teachers were looking at me." The newlyweds returned to the Andrews House, where they were congratulated by new friends and cherished classmates before returning back to their new home in Dublin.

DERANGED MARRIAGE - John Hester fell hopelessly in love with Miss Alice Cobb. Mrs. Cobb thought not too much of her daughter's suitor for he was known to have been somewhat of a drunkard and prone to violence. The loathsome Lothario courted the "buxom country lassie" with all of the charm any gentleman could. When Hester asked permission to marry Alice, her mother stood firm and ordered Hester to leave their home. The spurned lover swore he would return and get his revenge. He did. A few nights later, Hester returned in a "semi-intoxicated condition" and brandishing a large pistol just as Mrs. Cobb was preparing supper in her kitchen. Hester promised he would take the girl even if he had to whip the whole family. Mrs. Cobb tried to escape. Hester blocked the door. Seeing that her life was in peril, she succumbed and reluctantly consented to the marriage. A minister was summoned. And a half hour later, the couple were married. Oh, by the way, John Hester was fourteen years old and his bride, Miss Alice Cobb, was a mere twelve years old.