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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The ground beneath us in East Central Georgia doesn't shake very often. When it does, it is a time to start praying for God's grace. That's exactly what happened on the evening of August 31, 1886, one hundred and twenty five years ago tomorrow night. It was on that night when the most powerful earthquake to ever strike the southeastern United States struck South Carolina, between Charleston and Summerville. The quake, which measured an estimated intensity of seven or higher on the Richter scale, nearly destroyed the ancient port city and its suburban resort neighbor to the west. The quake was so powerful that it was felt as far away as Boston, Chicago and Cuba. And, it shook the ground, buildings and people's souls right here in Dublin.

The massive earthquake didn't come without warning. Just before dawn on Saturday, August 28, an earthquake slightly jarred the city of Augusta, Georgia. Though the rattling was barely perceptible, it was reported that sleeping citizens were suddenly awakened and ran into the streets in fear. The shocks were also felt in Charleston. Around the globe along the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient cities of Rome, Naples, Alexandria, and Athens were jolted by earthquakes.

The Dublin Post reported on Tuesday night at nine o'clock,"houses swayed perceptibly, doors opened, trees trembled and even the Earth was so disturbed that pedestrians found it difficult to travel." The shock was sufficient to evoke a clatter which awoke many who were asleep. Church services were in progress when the quake began. Fearing the "wrath of God" was thrust upon them, the worshipers hastily vacated the sanctuaries. The event was the topic on everyone's mind the following day. Rumors and true accounts of some of the more hilarious details of the commotion, although plentiful, were unfortunately not published in the newspaper. Recent scientific studies have determined that the intensity in Dublin was capable of causing slight damage in ordinary structures, considerable damage in poorly built buildings and moderate damage to chimneys. With the epicenter measuring a 10, the strength felt in Dublin was on a scale of 7.3, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Accounts of the earthquake were reported from all over the region. Though the times vary from as early as 8:52 in Macon to 9:00 in Cochran, where reports of the effects of the phenomenon were similar. Most witnesses stated that the sound which preceded the shaking moved from east to west or northeast to southwest. A second shock occurred less than sixty seconds after the first jolt. In Savannah, which was fairly close to the epicenter of the quake, building damage was moderate. Some loss of life and injuries were reported. It was noted that Lucy Foster was "scared to death." Residents of Tybee Island suffered more damage, including moderate damage to the historic lighthouse on the barrier island. People in Augusta remembered four distinct shocks, followed by more after shocks the following morning.

The quake struck Eastman at 8:55 with "heavy shocks." A couple of a dozen miles to the northwest, bottles were said to have been shaken off the shelves in Hawkinsville during the quake, which lasted 20 to 25 seconds. Cochran residents recounted that the shaking lasted 30 seconds, but consisted of two separate shocks, the second being greater than the first one. In McRae, houses trembled and windows rattled, with little if any damage. Folks ran from their homes in Chauncey during the "violent shake."

Up Highway 441 in Wilkinson County, the members of Red Level Methodist Church, were gathering for an evening to listen to the word of the Lord in what once was billed as one of the county's largest churches. Wilkinson County historian Victor Davidson described the scene best, "The Charleston earthquake of 1886, which frightened nearly everybody to death throughout this county, happened while a protracted meeting was being carried on at this place. The preacher whose name was Green, then living in Irwinton, was a powerful exhorter and as the meeting progressed each day waxed more and more eloquent and this being in the days of shouting Methodists when folks got real religion, the revival was on in earnest. On the night of the earthquake the church was packed to its utmost."

"The preacher had just delivered himself of a fearful sermon dealing with the destruction of the world and judgment day, but somehow or other when he invited sinners to come to the altar few came. Then in the fervor of his emotions the preacher called on the congregation to bow their heads in a word of prayer. He prayed to "God that if it was necessary to bring the sinners to repentance to send an earthquake and convince them of the wrath of an offended God. It is affirmed that he had scarcely uttered these words than a shudder ran through the earth as the first shock of the quake came, the house beginning to crack in every corner and the walls swaying from side to side. The prayer ceased in the middle of a sentence and every one raised his bowed head to see if the wind was blowing."

" Just at that moment came the second shock of the quake and pandemonium broke loose. Amidst the cracking of the walls the neighing of the frightened horses, the shrieks of the women and children, with the freshly reminded visions of the destruction of the earth by fire, and the eternal tortures of the lost before their minds, they made a dash for the doors. It is said that the preacher went out the window and only a blind man remained on the inside. Once on the outside and no more shocks coming, one old man, after looking up and seeing that the stars were in their accustomed places, assured them that it was nothing but an earthquake and that there was no danger. It is said that the crowd then with one accord returned into the church and there was one of the biggest revivals that night any church ever did have."

R.L. Hunter, editor of Milledgeville's Union Recorder, was sitting in his home when he heard a dull roar resembling the sound of a coal locomotive in the distance. Hunter wrote, "The idea at once occurred to us that it was an earthquake and we went to the door in a short time to hear a more distinct roaring sound." After going out into the street, Hunter heard a loud screaming in one direction along with shouts and cries coming from various directions.

After comforting a couple of terrified ladies who lived next door, Hunter returned to his home, where he began to chronicle the five ensuing aftershocks, which came about eight to fifteen minutes apart for an hour. A sixth one trembled after midnight, while still more perceptible rumblings continued throughout the next day until the following Sunday night, five days after the initial shock. Hunter also reported minor damages to older Milledgeville structures, including the old statehouse building.

The Great Earthquake of 1886 stands alone as the strongest in the recorded history of the southeastern United States. It can happen again. Earthquakes, of more minute scales, occur almost daily in the United States. And, they do occur in our area. Just four months ago on May 3, 2011, a magnitude 2.6 earthquake struck near Gibson, Georgia, only some fifty crow-fly miles away from Dublin. And, if that doesn't make you wonder, think about the folks of tiny Mineral, Virginia, who were violently shaken by a 5.9 earthquake last Tuesday and the people in our nation's capital, many miles away, as our capitol building shook right before our very eyes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


HEY YOU, UP IN THE CLOUDS, PULL OVER! - Sheriff Carlus Gay had arrested many drunk drivers during his twenty plus year career in law enforcement. But, he never dreamed one might come out of the sky. J.B. Daniel, a 40-year-old resident of Swainsboro, landed his private plane on Georgia Highway 29. Daniel then taxied his plane down for two miles down the highway to the Cile Cook Home at the junction of the highway with the Old Savannah Road. Gay could smell the scent of liquor on the breath of the pilot, whom he promptly arrested for flying under the influence. Augusta Chronicle, April 14, 1958.

THE POWER OF PRAYER - Brammer Cecil, of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, was driving his truck through Laurens County carrying a heavy load of glass. When the glass shifted, Cecil's truck overturned. Cecil was buried under many slabs of heavy glass. Pinned, cut, and bleeding, Cecil had no hope of being extracted from the cab of his truck. The Rev. J.S. Wetzel, of Century Methodist Church, was the first motorist to arrive on the scene. Rev. Wetzel tried and tried to remove the glass. Then he prayed to God for the strength to get the man out. Cecil was praying too. Then, that's when another motorist, a resident of Toccoa, showed up. With the young man's help, Wetzel managed to free Cecil from the crushed truck. You see, the young man was no ordinary man. He had garnered world wide fame for his ability to lift heavy weights. That young man, you may have guessed, was none other than Paul Anderson, the reigning Olympic champion weightlifter - who was forever billed as the "Strongest Man in the World." Augusta Chronicle, March 14, 1960.

Paul Anderson, The World's Strongest Man

SHINE ON - Charlie Williams enjoyed a good shoe shine business in Dublin. Lots of men lined up to get their shoes looking like they were new. Trouble was that Charlie's real shine was not the shoe shine, but moonshine, which he kept in a five-gallon bucket next to his stand. Those customers who knew what was up ordered a "double shine" until law enforcement officers busted the money making operation. Augusta Chronicle, October 24, 1954.

"COURIER HERALD" GOES WORLD WIDE - Bernard Geeslin was walking along the seawall in Manilla in May of 1945 when he saw a Filipino sitting on his heels in the curve of the wall reading a newspaper. He took a closer look, and to his utter amazement, it was a December 14, 1944 issue of "The Courier Herald." The headline read "Nazis Smash American Lines." Geeslin was unable to ascertain the subscriber of the paper or what the reader thought of it. Dublin Courier Herald, May 25, 1945, p. 3.

THE OTHER LIBRARY - Did you know that the first Laurens County Library was established in 1938. The Carnegie Library in Dublin gave free service to only city residents at the time. The ladies of the Parnassus Club sponsored a library for county residents. The library was located in the county office building on East Madison Street, which served formerly as the post office from 1912 until 1936. Virginia Graves served as the first and only librarian. After a few months the Laurens County Library merged with the Carnegie Library. Countywide service began with the help of the W.P.A. which funded a traveling librarian. Dublin Courier Herald, 8/6/1938, Laurens Co. History, 1807-1941, p. 239, 248.

PSYCHIC FUND RAISER - One of the first fund raising events for the new Carnegie Library was held at the high school auditorium. Professor William Irving Fayssoux displayed his talents as a clairvoyant and psychic. The proceeds from the event went to the book fund of the new library. At three o'clock, Fayssoux blindfolded himself. He then drove madly and daringly over the main streets of Dublin. He promised the crowd that he could find a letter which had been hidden by a prominent Dublinite. Dublin Times, October 15, 1904, p. 1.

THE COTTON KING - Roswell King, a Connecticut native, left his home for Darien, Georgia, in 1788. King served in a variety of public offices including surveyor, justice of the peace, justice of the Inferior Court, and state representative. In 1802, King was hired as Major Pierce Butler's overseer on his plantations on Butler Island and at Woodville on the Altamaha River and Hampton plantation on St. Simons Island. During the next 36 years, King developed efficient methods in the cultivation of rice and sea island cotton. In 1816 Roswell King purchased a building on the northwest corner of the courthouse square in Dublin. In 1829, King sold the building which may have burned. In the 1830s, King was sent to Dahlonega to establish a branch of the Bank of Darien. King was much impressed with the beauty of the woodlands. He returned to North Georgia and purchased a large tract of woodlands. He dammed Vickery Creek and operated a large cotton mill. King named the new community after himself, and the community of Roswell was born. King appreciated the value of industry in the South, the lack of which led to the loss of the Civil War. Dictionary of Georgia Biography, Kenneth Coleman, Vol. 2, page 579; Deed Book G, page 192, Deed Book I, page 201, Laurens County Records.

SPICING UP OUR INDUSTRIES - The Dublin-Laurens Chamber of Commerce from its inception has sought out new industries and businesses for the county. In the spring of 1941 the Chamber worked with state officials and private industries in an experimental new crop in the Laurens County agricultural community. The new crop came from central Europe with the plants being donated from spice making firms. The new crop was a mild European pepper which when ground up would become a popular spice known as paprika. Dublin Courier Herald, May 3, May 14, 1941, p. 1.

THE LAST OF THE ONE ROOM SCHOOL HOUSES - A 130-year-old educational practice came to an end on September 9, 1937. The Laurens County Board of Education voted to close Burch's Academy, the last of the one room - one teacher schools. The school was located at the southern end of the county on the south side of Alligator Creek. The students of the grammar school were transferred to Cedar Grove School. Cedar Grove was the second largest county school with 11 grades. Dublin Courier Herald, September 10, 1937, p. 1.

THE THREE-SEATER BABY CARRIAGE - D.S. Brandon was one of Dublin's leading wholesale grocers. His wife was of the northern persuasion, a Yankee. She often ridiculed the women of the South for having so many children. Mrs. Brandon compared the high number of children to litters of puppies. The women of Dublin had the last laugh when Mrs. Brandon gave birth to triplets in 1909. The Brandon triplets were heralded in this area as much as the Dionne Quintuplets of the 1930s. Mr. Brandon was reading a newspaper when he saw an article about Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Robinson of Griffin, Georgia. The new parents of triplets were in need of help to pay the cost of caring for the babies. Brandon made arrangements to ship the custom made three-seater baby carriage to the Robinsons, for which the new parents were eternally grateful. Dublin Courier Herald, June 4, 1914, p. 1.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Two Bright Spots In the Nighttime

There was a time long ago in the days of Jim Crow when evil men pulled robes over their heads and skulked through the darkness with meanness on their minds. Such was the case on a frosty Thursday evening in the Mount Airy Community of Dodge County on March 2, 1950. Out of the brilliance of a near full moon lit night appeared two shining stars of good and right, who liberated an innocent man from the wrongful vengeance of a miscreant mob.

Flogging of both black and white people had been on the rise in the early months of 1950. Johnny Graham, white, and Riley Dykes, black, were beaten by persons unknown. Little or no efforts were made by local law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrators.

Sixteen-year-old Harold Barrentine, (Above left)  who later would become a Dublin accountant and businessman, was on his way to a party near his home. He had heard the rumors about floggings, but paid no mind to them as he had more important thoughts like any sixteen- year-old boy would. While he was attending the party, Harold fortunately noticed a caravan of vehicles carrying some twenty-five or more hooded men who were headed toward the farm house of Jesse Lee Goodman, a farm hand who worked for Otho Wiggins. Harold ran as fast as he could to warn Mr. Wiggins of his fears about Jesse Lee.

Meanwhile, a hooded squad of scoundrels forced open the lock on the front door of the Goodman home and burst into the first bedroom, where they found Clydie Mae Goodman and her two children shivering in fear for their lives. Then the horde descended upon another bedroom where they found Goodman and another child asleep. Allowing Goodman to put on only a few clothes, the fiendish throng drug him into the wintry woods.

Goodman remembered the leader, whom he called "the King." "He had a large red shoulder patch and a big cross or star on his sleeve," Goodman testified. "He was the boss. He gave the orders," Jesse Lee told law enforcement officers. Jesse went on to tell how the leader asked about some oil he had. Goodman told his captors that he had gotten the oil from his boss, Mr. Otho Wiggins. Without any regard for the truthfulness of Goodman's statements, the assaulters began to mercilessly beat and flog ol' Jesse. After a momentary pause, the whipping was about to resume.

That's when Otho Wiggins showed up.

Otho loaded his .22 caliber rifle, dismounted his truck, and focused his spotlight on the source of the commotion. Seeing cars and some people he thought he recognized and with full comprehension of what was unfolding before his eyes, Wiggins opened fire and kept on discharging his rifle until its chamber was empty. He reloaded and began firing again, some sixteen shots in all. Cowering behind Fords and Chevrolets, a few poltroons fired back without hitting their marks.

"When Mr. Otho started shootin' the man next to me shoved me in a car and jumped in on top of me," Goodman recalled. "Then he made me get in the seat and stay down low," Jesse stated before his antagonists dumped him out of the car and fled the scene. Goodman told authorities that his captors promised that they would seek revenge against Wiggins.

Wiggins would later say, "When I began firing, both men and cars took off in every direction."

N.A. Barrentine, Harold's father, accompanied Wiggins to report the incident to Dodge County Sheriff, O.B. Peacock. Apparently afraid of the Klan's retribution against himself, Sheriff Peacock stated the matter was none of his business and that they should report the case to the F.B.I. Peacock later jokingly told the editor of the Eastman Times-Journal, "I don't want the Klan getting after me. Otho didn't ask me to go. He just told me about it."

Editor Edwin T. Methvin, a long time opponent of the Ku Klux Klan, blasted Sheriff Peacock for his apathetic handling of the matter. Methvin, in cooperation with the F.B.I., launched a personal crusade to rid the county of the barbarian organization. Methvin did praise Wiggins in an editorial by stating, "We regret the marksmanship of Otho Wiggins was not better and that he succeeded in only dispersing the mob of hooded and robed men that attacked his Negro farm hand in Dodge County the other night. Mr. Wiggins made a gallant try, though, he deserves congratulations."

Also incensed with the violent acts was Superior Court Judge Eschol Graham, who called the Grand Jury into a special session to deal with the Klan, bootlegging and some problems with the local school board, the former two not being related to the latter. Wiggins, Goodman, and Barrentine all testified about what they saw and heard that night.

Harold Barrentine in identifying a 1939 Chevrolet belonging to Alfred Crumbley testified, "I see those cars almost every day and I would know them anywhere." Jesse Lee identified a 1949 pickup owned by Theo Lewis. Otho Wiggins confirmed the testimony of Barrentine and Goodman that the culprits were Klansmen by saying, "We saw the white robes and they had hoods over their heads." Their testimony led to the arrest of Crumbley, Lewis and a third suspect, one F.M. Smith.

Overnight, Otho Wiggins and Harold Barrentine became heroes to many. Sadly, they became scoundrels to others. Their fear of reprisals was real and warranted.

Otho Wiggins, who never had a single moment of remorse for his actions, wrote a letter to editor Methvin, which he promptly published to bolster his crusade. In thanking the members of the hooded order Wiggins wrote, "Since you have become the ones who have taken the law into your own hands, I don't suppose your wives and children will suffer nervousness or loss of sleep from such an occurrence." Otho sarcastically complimented the bravery of a mob of white men who would go into a person's house, regardless of race or creed, and drag him from his bed and beat him. Wiggins concluded his mocking missive by apologizing, "I extend to you loyal members of the hooded brotherhood my humble apology for being such a poor shot with my rifle. Hope to see you soon. Signed Your neighbor, Otho Wiggins."

It was on that cold, cold night more than sixty years ago when Jim Crow flew away into the starry skies where Otho Wiggins and Harold Barrentine shined as the brightest spots of mercy and kindness in the Dodge County nighttime.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


The Jaycees' Swimming Pool

For about fifteen years, it was one of the best places to be when the weather was hot and you needed cooling down. Sixty years ago this summer, the Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce, known as the Jaycees, opened a pool at the western end of Stubbs Park. Beginning on July 7, 1951 and ending about the year 1966, when social conditions in Dublin and around the South precipitated its closing, the Jaycees' Pool was a place where fond memories were made.

One of the first operators of the pool was Dublin High football coach, Tom Stewart, and his wife Peggy, who ran the concession stands. "In the summer when my daddy ran the pool, he hired life guards, taught swimming lessons, and drained, cleaned, and refilled it once a week," recalled Karen Stewart Haggard. "It took all night to refill it and I loved to go with him to check on it as he would let me get in the half full pool," Haggard remembered. Barbara Smith recalled the times she helped Mrs. Stewart in the concession stand where you could buy a drink and a snack for less than a quarter.

Among the first lifeguards who Coach Stewart hired were Billy Eberhardt and Donnie Hooks in the summers of 1956, 1957 and 1958. Of one of Hooks' most distinct memories was the 60 feet by 120 feet pool itself. (Now covered by a thinning layer of a black asphalted, abandoned tennis court) "It did not have a filtration system," Hooks said in commenting on why the water had to be replaced every week. "We would open the valves on Wednesday night. On Thursday night when it was refilling, we would throw 10 to 20 chlorine tablets in the pool and then had to check the chlorine levels during the week," Hooks mentioned. "It usually took four or five of us to clean and the helpers got to swim for the next week free. I would call the city water department to let them know that we were going to fill the pool. They would have to turn on additional pumps to refill the big water tank that was behind the gym. We would swim sometime when the pool was refilling. The pipe that came into the pool would shoot water almost across the width of the pool," the former lifeguard fondly reminisced.

Dr. Nelson Carswell was one of the lifeguards on the first day of the pool's operation. Glenn Carswell always thought the lifeguards were cute. In fact, she married one, Dr. Carswell's brother "Tunk." Several  years later, Tunk gave Glenn her wedding ring at the pool.

Stephanie Miller remembered the good times at the summer camp held in and around the pool and the Shanty across the creek. "Dublin teens taught us to swim in the old pool and we did crafts and all kinds of fun stuff," Miller recollected. Mary Lewis and Barbara Lewis Barroso looked back to the Frank Lewis method of swimming lessons when their father threw them into the deep end and watched them swim back, reaching out to the protection of the side of the pool. There's even a surviving home movie to prove it.

There were some unpleasant memories too. Barbara Bussell Kawulich, as a younger child, was scared of the big pool. She preferred the "kiddie pool" located a few hundred yards to the east in the heart of Stubbs Park. She was not too happy when she was told that she was too big for the little pool. Barbara also remembered when her infant sister Bonny Bedingfield fell into the deep end. Her mother, Hazel Bussell, couldn't swim. But, when she saw her daughter about to drown, she jumped right in. Coming to the rescue was June Adams and other ladies to help Mrs. Bussell and Bonny out of danger.

Without a doubt, Tricia Fleming had the darkest tan of all the regular pool goers. Lavern Wright remembered lifeguard Gary King, whose father managed the pool, having the darkest tan she ever saw. "He told us he put crisco on his skin," Lavern recalled.

Donna Hall Wilder remembered the large bags of crushed ice for the ice house that her mom, Fonnie Hall, and her dad, Andrew Hall, would pick up before opening the pool during their tenure as managers. "I remember loving the smell of the chlorine they used every night after they closed. At night when the pool was open, bats would be chasing bugs from the lights and diving for water from the pool, A couple of times the bats would get caught in the guys shirts when they were diving," Donna remembered.

Andy Hall went swimming every day. He remembered Tricia Fleming's tan too. So did Lawrence Hall, who spent most of his swimming days in the colder water at Rock Springs near his home. Andy cherished the times that he spent with his fellow teens hanging out at the pool. "There was a concession stand to pay as you entered. You could buy drinks in a cup, candy, cookies and chips. There was a juke box. Some would do the "Peppermint Twist" to the music," Andy said.

Gene Hall Pope, who worked as a life guard during her parents tenure along with Cooter Ballard and Louie Blue, most distinct memories were the cute boys who came to the pool.

As for the best diver, the consensus number one choice was the late George Walker. Andy Hall recalled, "George Walker could do a triple flip off the diving board. The most I could do was a cannon ball, jack knife, or a belly flop." Randy Hester fondly recalled the time that he, George Walker, and a bus load of kids went from the pool to Warner Robins Air Force Base to participate in a swim meet. "I must have been 10 or 11 and didn't even tell my mom I was going. I lived behind Central Elementary School and had walked down to the pool and they asked me to go so I went! She thought I was at the pool all day, but back then you didn't worry about the kids until after dark because everybody looked after everybody."

Roy Hall, no close relation to the Hall family who operated the pool in the 1960s, counts as his most vivid recollection of the pool was going with his grandmother, who frequently took a mess of peas or butterbeans to shell as Roy swam and played in the cool, blue-tinted water. Roy loved the slides and the diving boards, but was terrified of being sucked into any one of the two square drains at the bottom of the deep end. "It was the sound of kids laughing and playing and sight of water splashing all around that made those days we spent in the warm sunshine so wonderful and carefree," Hall recalled.

Then. about 45 years ago, like most good things, it all came to end. Suddenly it was gone, leaving us to find another pool to swim in. Things were never quite the same as they were those fifteen or so summers and they never will be. It was a time of love and hate, a time of war and peace, and a time when we were all true to our pool. It was a time when our music and most people were good. It was a time when both Elvis and the Beatles were still kids, and a time when we walked everywhere or rode our bicycles. Yes, we cruised through the hamburger stands, raced down long, dark roads, and danced until midnight. Even some us went to the library without telling our daddies.

Lately, some of my Facebook friends and I have been thinking that all our fun was all through now. But, we still have our fond memories of the days when the skies were all sunshine, the water was so, so cool and clear, and friends were all around us. It was our party and we had fun, fun, fun, until they took our swimming pool away.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


The Great Escapee

D.C. Black couldn’t stay in one place for very long, especially behind the iron bars of a cramped, dank and dark jail cell. So from the very first moment he was captured by Laurens County authorities, D.C. Black began to plot his escape from the Laurens County jail. Sure enough, just as he had done many times before, this fleeing felon escaped his captors in short order. This time, his freedom was ephemeral when he was recaptured by two state patrolmen and a Georgia National Guard colonel.

D.C. Black, already known as an “elusive escapee,” participated in a mass unauthorized exodus of at least twenty-eight others from the state prison near Reidsville on April 16, 1943. Black joined his compatriot and fellow escape artist, Leland Harvey, on a crime rampage. Within ten days, all but four of the escaped prisoners had been recaptured. Black and Harvey, two of the most illustrious felons anywhere in Georgia, were captured in Arkwright, near Macon, on April 25. Both men were asleep in their car and did not resist their arrest.

Just two days later, Black, who was serving one to twenty years on robbery charges, was on the lamb again. Harvey and Black, dressed in civilian clothes, easily overwhelmed a Bibb County deputy, calmly took the elevator down from the fifth story jail in the courthouse, quietly stole a car, and westwardly raced at speeds of more than 85 mph toward Vineville. Black and Harvey’s easy escape was blamed on woefully ineffective and possibly corrupt Bibb County deputies.

On May 12, the skipping scoundrel was encountered by a pair of Atlanta detectives who sprayed his path with warning rounds toward the back of the barn where he was hiding just outside of Morrow, Georgia. Not chancing another escape from a less than secure county jail, Black was returned to the state penitentiary in Reidsville for a long tenure on the chain gang.

Black was serving a 41 to 45-year sentence in a Ware prison, when he staged yet another in a long string of escapes. Black attempted to rob a hotel in Macon on Thursday, May 10, 1956. Within a few hours, he was spotted by six alert Dublinites, who recognized the tag number while they were returning from work at Warner Robins Air Force Base. One of the men called the State Patrol. Meanwhile the others tailed the suspect until patrolmen arrested him, but not before Black attempted to wreck their cars. A shootout took place behind the Shamrock Court Motel, which was situated across Highway 80 from the Dublin VA Center.

After an intense interrogation, Black finally admitted that his name was not A.J. Allen and that he was wanted on outstanding robbery charges. Almost proud of his crimes, the running rascal admitted that he stole a few items on his flight from Macon.

Just about eight o’clock on Saturday morning, county jailer Art Sapp went into the cell area and opened the door. Suddenly, the strongly built Black grabbed Sapp and wrested his gun away and forced the jailer into the cell. Black ran behind the Speed Oil Company and then across East Jackson Street. After stealing Carl Allen’s 1954 Chevrolet with a quarter of tank of gas in it, Black headed west along Highway 80 before turning southeast through a maze of dirt roads. The car took the skipping scoundrel as far as a wooded area northeast of Rentz, where it was reported found by Highway Patrol Sergeant, B.A. Snipes. Then the departing dastard set out on foot.

Sheriff Carlus Gay issued an order for a countywide man hunt by sheriff’s deputies, Dublin and East Dublin police, State Patrol officers, and GBI agents, which totaled more than one hundred men. Governor Marvin Griffin called in the National Guard for help.

While running through the woods, the vanishing villain got a whiff of Mrs. Millard Coleman’s cooking. After identifying himself as a wanted man, Black demanded that Mrs. Coleman cook him a meal and fix himself some sandwiches in exchange for not hurting her. After Black skedaddled, Mrs. Coleman called family friend and attorney Bill White, who alerted Sheriff Gay.

By the late hours of Monday evening, a pack of bloodhounds and their handlers arrived from Milledgeville to join in the chase. The hunt continued until Tuesday morning when Black was spotted by National Guardsmen Donald Maddox, Pete Wicker, H.T. Lindsey, and Bobby Ennis.

Just before dawn on Tuesday the exhausted escapee, bruised and scraped, fell to the ground. He begged his captors, Corporal W.B. Garr, Trooper J.T. Cauthen, and Col. W.B. Crowley, not to shoot him, indicating that Jailer Sapp’s gun was in his hip pocket of the overalls he had stolen earlier in the day some two and one half miles from the Coleman home. Although his skin was scratched and his clothes torn by briars and brambles, Black was closely shaven, his stolen razor still in his pocket.

Black, always the deserting degenerate, was shackled and brought back to the county jail on the southeast corner of the courthouse square. To make sure Black’s stay was a longer and uneventful one, Sheriff Gay placed the frequent fugitive in the “death cell.”

Black commented on his failed escape by stating that the next time he escaped, he would get a taxi and get a hotel room. He told reporters that the officers were so close to him several times that he could hear transmissions over their walkie-talkies. When asked by a Courier Herald reporter how it felt to be hunted for three days, Black responded, “It is about like a rabbit being hunted.”

To make things worse for the Sheriff’s deputies while the search for Black was intensifying, nine prisoners escaped from the Public Works Camp on Sunday night and set out on a mass string of robberies and thefts. With little sleep after an all night manhunt, deputies answered a call about a cracker salesman who was robbed in Orianna by persons fitting the description of the escaped prisoners.

Warden Coleman said the nine men simply vanished without a trace. The escapees scattered in all directions and stole cars, one belonging to Dr. Nelson Carswell and another to O.L. Colter. Within four days, more than half of the men were recaptured at various points around the state.

Additional charges of attempted robbery, automobile theft, escape, and breaking and entering were issued against Black. It wouldn’t be the last time Black, alias Allen John Billingsley, would escape. He ran his total escapes to seventeen, including possibly his last one in 1975 , when and his old escaping ally, Leland Harvey, both near the age of seventy, walked out of a correctional facility up the road in Hardwick, Georgia, one designed for aged and infirmed criminals. The duo was caught in Mississippi when Black’s stolen Cadillac sideswiped a bridge railing and crashed. But it was here, a mile east of Rentz, Georgia that D.C. Black, the disappearing desperado, saw the end to one of his last great escapes.

P.S. I wasn't able to find a picture of D.C. Black.  Apparently, he never stood still long enough to have one made.