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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The Music Man Cometh

Our band didn't exactly have seventy-six trombones. Four was all we had. There weren't one hundred ten cornets right behind either. But, we did have six. The Dublin Band wasn't the biggest band around, but from 1911-1915, the twenty or so piece marching band was regarded as one of the state's best - so much so that during that half-decade period, Dublin's brass band represented the State of Georgia at the national United Confederate Reunions around the South.

The band's rise to preeminence began in the summer of 1908 when the Dublin City School Board hired Paul Verpoest, a thirty-three-year-old, Belgian-born music professor from Ottumwa, Iowa. As you will see, Paul Verpoest was no Harold Hill, the fictional con artist/music professor made famous by another Iowan, Meredith Wilson, in his immortal play, The Music Man. Shortly after the school term began, Professor Verpoest began to reorganize the pride of the city, the Dublin Military Band. With the aid of his wife Loretta, the French-speaking professor expanded the music program the following year by organizing an orchestra at the school.

The citizens of Macon, Georgia had set their eyes and hung their hopes on securing the 1912 national reunion of the aging Confederate veterans. To boost their cause, Macon enlisted the aid of its largest nearby neighbor. Music, especially the toe-tapping, ear-ringing, flag-waving music of a marching band was just the right instrument to lure the comrades of the United Confederate Veterans to bring the next year's gathering to Macon along with the tens of thousands of dollars in trade such a Southern pride event would bring.

Macon Chamber of Commerce president E.H. Hyman had heard Dublin's band before while he was aiding the Emerald City in the establishment of its own chamber. Hyman recommended the Dublin musicians to accompany the Macon delegation to the national reunion in Little Rock, Arkansas in May of 1911. With the envious invitation in hand, two-hundred Dublin boosters decided that they would tag along and boost their rapidly growing city as well.

Before the band, known as "The Baby Band of Dublin" for its inordinate number of young members, left town, it treated the hometown folks to a concert at the Opera House. The band entertained the crowd with John Phillip Sousa's Semper Fidelis March, Maryland, My Maryland, My Old Kentucky Home, America and the obligatory Dixie, ironically one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite songs and written by Daniel Emmett, of Ohio in 1859. This ensemble of musicians wasn't your typical small-town band with a repertoire of a dozen songs. The boys were well rehearsed and highly proficient in some sixty classic selections.

Dublin Band at Little Rock

The band who went to Little Rock was composed of Cornets: George W. Fuller, Henry Blinn, J.D. Tharpe, Robert Powell, Landrum Page, and Melville Tarpley; Alto Saxophone: Mirabeau Arnau; Clarinets: Weyman Tarpley and Arthur Crafts; French Horns: Robert Smith and Jeff Lifsey; Baritone Saxophone: Ramsay Fuller; Trombones: William Brunson, Palmer Currell, Murphy Smith, and R.C. Keen; Tuba: J.T. Hinson; Drums: Louis Thomas and Ullie Peacock; and Cymbals: Lytton Stanley.

To show their pride in their hometown, the members of the band donned armbands with the word Dublin over a shamrock. Brassards were passed out to all those who accompanied the band on the 36-hour ride to Little Rock to show everyone there where Dublin, Georgia was located. Will Underwood led the band in a white flannel uniform with the words across his chest, "Macon for 1912." As the band traveled to Little Rock on a thirteen-coach special train, it played concerts at all stops to promote Macon for the next reunion.

The choice of the Dublin band helped Macon secure the 1912 reunion. To show it's gratitude, the host city gave the Dublin band a handsome loving cup. When Professor Verpoest attempted to express his appreciation, his band burst into a rousing rendition of the crowd pleasing anthem Dixie. The band was just as appreciative for the invitation to tag along on such a memorable trip. Verpoest left the band in 1912 and eventually taught music at Meridian College in Mississippi. He was replaced by E.L. Barton, of Douglas, in the spring of 1912.

The Dublin boys were the first to open the musical festivities for the 1912 reunion. Under the direction of Director Barton, the band played in the band stand at Central City Park to welcome the early arrivals. Herschel Whitehurst and Ben Rogers joined the trumpet section. Owen Bennett replaced Weyman Tarpley on clarinet. Aurice Keen and Marvin Page succeeded R.C. Keen and Murphy Smith on trombone. Felder Kreutz, Clyde Mattox, and Lee Smith were the new alto sax players. Albert Diffenworth played tenor sax. Samiel Daniel was the band's new E Flat bass player. M.C. Moffett took over for Louis Thomas on trap drums.

Dublin was joined by bands from the host city of Macon and the capital city of Atlanta, as well as many from across the South. In addition to several hundred Dubliners in attendance, the newly formed boy scout troop decided to make the trip on foot. Yes, they hiked the entire 54-mile trek to Macon, where they camped in Central City Park.

In 1913 and for the third straight year, the Dublin band represented Georgia. This time it was held at Chattanooga. Two dozen cars of Dublin people joined the band and the two local boy scout troops on a special train. Once again the band was reorganized, this time under the direction of George Chase, of Atlanta.

J.H. Taylor, also of Atlanta, became the band's fourth director in four years in 1914. After a one-year absence, the Dublin band returned to represent Georgia at the 1915 Reunion in Richmond, Virginia after being nominated by Georgia governor John M. Slaton. They were joined by bands from Macon and Moultrie.

Prof. Verpoest returned to Dublin in 1916. Many members of his original band were still playing. The 1916 band was composed of S.D. Daniell, J.D. Tharpe, R.A. Jacobs, Willard Barton, Palmer H. Currell, Talmadge Cowart, W.H. Blinn, H.U. Peacock, Maurice Baggett, George Currell, Pasco Phelps, Roy Callaway, D.G. Daniel, F.G. Kreutz, Guy McNeely, Marion Peacock, Grady Daniel, Ray Lewis, Hal Thomas, Dupree Bishop, J.T. Hinton, Frank Ray, O.B. Overstreet, A. Ausbacher, Smith Dixon, Waddell Jordan, and Fred Jones.

On this Confederate Memorial Day, look away and imagine if you will, you can still hear the sounds of cymbals clanging, drums drumming, and brass blaring the heart-pumping marches and snappy strains of one of the best bands in Dixie land as they proudly marched through the streets of the largest cities of the Old South nearly a century ago.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


When Irish Bats Were Burning.

The final score was Dublin 34, Sandersville 17. No, it wasn't a football score from the early 1960s. Nor was it the final tally of a basketball game back in the 1940s. What happened on the 6th day of June in 1954 was nothing less than unbelievable. For the 51 points on the scoreboard that day came not on the gridiron nor on the hardwood courts, but on the diamond of Lovett Park. In the near century and one half of the history of professional baseball, only a couple of games have ever seen more than fifty runs scored in a single nine-inning game. This is the story of one of those games.

The year was 1954. Dublin's entry in the Georgia State League, which had formerly played under the title of the Green Sox, was enjoying a fine early season as the Dublin Irish. The Irish, managed by George Kinnamon, were just a few games out of first place behind the Vidalia Indians, the eventual league champs. Dwelling in the cellar were the hapless Sandersville Wacos in the year 1 B.Mc. (Before McCovey). In the following season, the Washington County team would sign future Hall of Fame slugger Willie McCovey, who would help to elevate the team to a 2nd place finish in 1955.

The two teams met in a two-game weekend series in early June. In the first game on Saturday night, the Irish scored four runs in the top of the 10th inning to win, 6-2.

"It was a hot Sunday afternoon, one of the hottest I ever remembered," recalled Irish bat boy Thurston Branch. Ray Stefanik took the mound for the Irish. Manager George Kinnamon, wearing the tools of ignorance, gave regular catcher, Denton Lakatosh, a well deserved day off. The Wacos jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on the Irish starter with three runs coming on Rudy Warren's four bagger over the right field fence in the top of the first and another three runs in the top of the second stanza with three hits, three Irish errors, and two bases on balls.

Sandersville hurler Alfredo Diaz held the Dublin nine scoreless in the first; but ran into a bit of trouble in the home half of the second inning. The Irish came roaring back, sending an even dozen men to the plate. Diaz was relieved by Richard Schurrer, who could only retire one Dublin hitter. Willard Moore came on as the third Waco pitcher of the inning. Moore finally retired the Irish, but not before the men in green scored eight runs on five hits and four walks.

Stefanik shut out the opposition for the next four innings. But, it was hot, real hot. Bat boy Branch remembered it being so hot that the manager put some green liquid in the water bucket to keep his team from having a heat stroke. Branch remembered the pitchers putting cold towels over their faces while they rested on a coolest spot on the bench between innings.

In the bottom of the third, it was obvious that the havoc reeking Irish were not about to cool down. Another dozen men stepped into the batter's box in the third frame of the game. Seven crossed the plate behind two home runs, a double, two singles, two sacrifices, three bases on balls, a hit batter, and one Sandersville miscue. Moore, who was winless during the season and later picked up by the Irish, was yanked in favor of another Waco reliever, Dick Lazicky (Lazenby), who appeared in his first and last game of the season.

Leading 15-6 in the bottom of the fourth, the Irish poured it on with four singles, a walk, and yet two more Waco errors. Out of pitchers, Ray Garman, who started in the outfield, was sacrificed to finish the game for the boys from Sandersville. The Irish scored four in the fourth. Not to be outdone, the Dublin nonet scored ten coffin-nailing runs in the fifth with one homer, four doubles, five singles, two errors, one walk, and one wild pitch to take a 29-6 lead.

One would think with the blazing June sun bearing down on them, the Irish would go to the plate swinging at anything, just to get a cool, early shower. They did swing at anything. The trouble was they kept whacking and cracking and hitting the ball. Five more Irish runners stepped on the plate in the bottom of the sixth behind a double, two errors, one walk, and one final Waco wild pitch to run the score up to 34-6.

Thurston Branch remembered that plate umpire Forder, in succumbing to the horrendous heat, requested that Branch simply roll new balls out to him instead of running fresh clean white ones out to him. The bat boy had a rough day. The Irish started the game with four bats. Before borrowing bats from the Wacos, the Irish shared an old bat salvaged from the locker room. One of the borrowed bats was good for an even dozen hits. No one knew that the team had a dozen brand new ones in an unopened box in the front office.

Pure pride took over. Garmon, who played for Dublin in 1955, held the Irish scoreless in their last two at bats in the seventh and eighth innings. Suddenly, Sandersville's hitters came alive. Exhausted Dublin starter Stefanik faltered and left the game in the seventh. Bob Vanassee came into the game for the Irish and held on. The Irish southpaw reliever gave up four runs in the seventh, six in the eighth, and a single run in the ninth, when the game ended in a 34-17, three-hour-five-minute slugfest. Ironically, Sandersville's Schurrer was saddled with the loss although he only gave up four of the thirty-four Irish tallies, while Garmon, who was left to the wolves, surrendered sixteen, not so sweet, Irish runs.

Left handed hitting Bill Shires led the Irish for the second game in row with a round tripper, a two-base hit, and three single safeties and scored six runs (one short of a modern day record) in his seven trips to the plate. Third baseman Gil Meekins, left fielder Bill Causion, and shortstop Milt Morris had four hits apiece. The Irish, in fifty-two at bats, had twenty-nine hits. Both teams combined for 11 errors on the sweltering diamond. In the words of Courier Herald sports reporter Dwight Smith, "The Irish tied the Wacos and then poured on the tar and the feathers."

League president Bill Estroff, who was in attendance and not at all happy with the result, remarked, "That was too much baseball in one day."Manager Kinnamon, the team's leading hitter, wrote in his Courier Herald column, The Pepper Box, "Someone asked me why I just didn't tell my boys to go to the plate and strike out. If I did so, I would be telling them not to do something I want them to do. So I just let the frolic ride as such. It was a big enough farce without helping it out." The veteran Kinnamon concluded, "When the ball bounces your way there's nothing one can do to stop it."

An extensive search of the Internet revealed that the most runs ever scored in a minor league game came way back on June 15, 1902 when Corsicana defeated Texarkana by the score of 51-3. The 54-run game can easily be discredited by the fact that Sunday Blue Laws forced the teams to play on a non regulation field. It was also reported that the cracker box field had no fences, while others said that the right field fence was a mere 210 feet from home plate. On April 30, 1983, El Paso defeated Beaumont, 35 to 21. Both teams were aided by nearly tropical force winds gusting out to right field. The Irish-Waco total of 51 runs in a minor league game was eventually matched on June 29, 2009 when the Lake Elsinore Storm defeated the High Desert Mavericks in a California League game, 33-18. In the big leagues, the most runs scored by both teams in a major league game came on August 25, 1922 when the Chicago Cubs outlasted the Philadelphia Phillies, 26-23 for a total of forty-nine runs.

In a sport where arguments always abound, I make the argument that the most runs ever scored in a professional game on a regulation field, not aided by 35 mph winds, came on a scorching Sunday in June at Lovett Park, right here in Dublin, nearly 57 years ago. Now when the skies are bright blue and the grass is fresh and green once again, it's time to play baseball.

I dedicate this column to my son Scotty, who taught me to love the game all over again, the memory of my good friend, the late Millard Whittle of Dexter, who loved and enjoyed an entire century of baseball and now sits in the grandstands watching his heroes play on the fields of his dreams and to my barber, Thurston Branch, who was there on that sweltering Sunday when the Irish bats were burning.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


"Hoorah! Hoorah!"

Charlestonians were licking their fire-eating lips as they salivated at the thought of devouring the Union Army. A 128-man Federal garrison was hunkering in the heart of Charleston Harbor like a school of fish trapped inside a barrel of stones and brick. Named Fort Sumter in honor of one the Palmetto State's greatest heroes in the country's first civil war in 1776, the island fortress became the main entree for the fire-eating secessionists of South Carolina. For four months, the Carolinians had been tightening their grip on the Federal forts at the mouth of the Ashley, Cooper and Wando rivers. The time bomb was ticking, ticking ever so close to exploding into the most devastating war our country has ever suffered.

The election of Abraham Lincoln ignited the fuse, but not before more than two decades of bickering between the northern and southern states had primed it to the point of spontaneous combustion. It was going to be a war started by men and fought by boys. Some experts have calculated that half of the 2.5 million-man Union army was composed of soldiers 18 years of age and under, with nearly a quarter of those sixteen and under. The percentages of Southern soldiers were likely about the same.

Two days after Christmas in 1860 and one day after Maj. Robert Anderson, USA, (Left)  abandoned Fort Moultrie and retreated to the safety of Fort Sumter, Col. James J. Pettigrew sent a company of 150 men to take Castle Pinckney, a small fort located a mile from the Charleston's Battery Park on Shute's Folly Island. In the first overt act of the then undeclared war, the invaders expected a considerable fight. Instead they found only Lt. Meade, Sgt. Skillen and his family occupying the fortress. Meade refused to accept Pettigrew's authority to seize the fort. No one remembered to bring a flag, so to show their trivial triumph, Pettigrew commandeered a red flag with a single white star from his ship, the Nina.

With its artillery batteries encircling Fort Sumter, South Carolina's military forces began fortifying for war. On the 9th day of January, Maj. P.F. Stevens, commanding some forty cadets from The Citadel military school, began preparations for an attack. As the USS Star of The West headed into the harbor on it's formerly secret resupply cargo mission, Stevens gave the order to his artillerists to commence firing. Cadet E.G. Haynesworth pulled the lanyard. The first true shot of the war was fired. Other batteries fired, doing little damage to the Federal ship. The beleaguered ship turned and steamed out of range. Anderson's batteries on Sumter were readied, but remained oddly silent.

The seizing of Federal military installations was not within the sole purview of the secessionist Carolinians. Alabamians seized Ft. Morgan and Ft. Gaines in Mobile on January 5. The U.S. Arsenal in Augusta was seized on the 24th of January, eight days after the Georgia legislature voted to secede from the Union. Ft. Jackson and the Oglethorpe Barracks in Savannah were abandoned two days later.

Five weeks after the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln, the inevitability of the war was no longer in doubt. When, where, and how the war would begin was not definite, but all eyes were on the Cerberi as they guarded the Gates of Hades in Charleston Harbor. Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee were clinging to hopes that they could remain in the Union.

Roger A. Pryor, (LEFT) a journalist-politician from Virginia, was an early advocate of his state leaving the Union. Pryor traveled to Charleston to stir the flames of secession, which had been smoldering for three months. From his balcony pulpit, Pryor preached an imploring sermon of secession and liberty from the villainous northern states and the Federal government which he maintained were strangling the economic well being of South Carolina and threatening to destroy their very existence as they knew it.

On the evening of April 11, Gen. P.T.G. Beauregard, commanding the Confederate forces in Charleston sent a trio of his most trusted aides to deliver an ultimatum from Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Capt. Stephen D. Lee, Col. James Chestnut, and Col. A.R. Chisolm piloted a small boat under a flag of a truce toward Sumter. There they met face to face with Sumter's commander, Major Robert Anderson, a Kentuckian and former war hero, who was well known and admired by his opposing officers.

The message read, "If you will state the time which you will evacuate Fort Sumter, and agree in the meantime that you will not use your guns against us unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you." Anderson conferred with his staff officers. The Major responded that he would evacuate Sumter by April 15 at high noon, unless he received orders to the contrary. Only Anderson knew that his men had only two days of rations on hand. Col. Chesnut deemed the response as unacceptable. He replied with a note which he handed to Anderson and which read, "Sir: by authority of Brigadier General Beauregard, (LEFT) commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time." Anderson politely escorted the officers to their boat, exchanged hand shakes and said "If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next."

At approximately 4:30 a.m. on the morning of April 12, 1861, Capt. George S. James offered the distinguished honor of firing the first official shot of the war to Congressman Pryor. Pryor deferred to James by saying, "I could not fire the first gun of the war. Lt. Henry Farley, or a member of his crew, pulled the lanyard that launched the first shot, a signal shell which exploded into a brilliant flare over Sumter to begin the aerial assault. Edmund Ruffin, the most voracious fire-eater of them all, made a point of being present to see the attack on Fort Sumter. Although he did not fire the actual first shot, Ruffin (LEFT) did fire a subsequent round directed at Sumter. Again, Anderson withheld his fire. Just before dawn, Capt. Abner Doubleday, the purported inventor of the game of baseball, fired a shot at the rebel battery at Cumming's Point.

The firing continued constantly until dusk. A gentle rain extinguished the fires inside the fort. All during the night, Confederate artillerists continued firing four rounds per hour, just to keep the inhabitants of the fort from a peaceful sleep, as if a peaceful sleep was actually possible.

On the morning of the 13th, the Confederate batteries once again opened up with "hot shot" designed to burn the wooden structures inside the fort. Anderson ordered his troops to throw their remaining supply of gunpowder into the sea to prevent an explosion within the fort. After absorbing nearly 3000 rounds without a single loss of life, Major Robert Anderson agreed to a truce at two o'clock in the afternoon.

Twenty four hours later and less than a day before he promised to evacuate Fort Sumter, Anderson's men abandoned their post to the booming thunder of their own 100-gun salute - a condition of Anderson's surrender terms. One Union soldier was killed during the ceremony and another was mortally wounded when a canon backfired.

The conflict between the North and the South had reached their inevitable point of no return. It was war. It was the feast the fire-eaters craved. Men cheered. Women sobbed. And, the country was set on an irreversible course toward a lamentable conflagration of death and suffering. One quarter of the South's men of military age would die, six hundred thousand or so on both sides in all. Millions of others, maimed and broken, would live in misery for the remainder of their lives. That was the final tab for the voracious appetite of the fire-eaters. And, it all began 150 years ago today.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


The Easter Torrent

If you were alive in the spring of 1936 and didn't believe in Armageddon, you might have had second thoughts. Over in Europe, Adolph Hitler was threatening to take over the continent and the rest of the hemisphere as well. In the Northeast, monumental floods ravaged New England towns. Nearer to home it had rained cats, dogs, birds, and several domestic animals since New Year's Eve, filling local rain gauges with more than 25 inches, an all time record for the first third of a year.

The year 1936 was one of extremes. Eleven states had all time record highs in the hottest year since 1869. The previous winter was one of the coldest in the nation's history. With the extreme temperatures, massive and deadly storms were bound to occur. The apocalypse began on April 6 when multiple tornados slammed into Gainesville, Georgia. The storm has already reeked devastation on Tupelo, Mississippi, killing 213 people just two days before. When the cyclone was over, 203 people were dead and more than 1600 were hurting. The thirteen-million dollar cost included more than 750 damaged or destroyed homes. The cyclone was the fifth deadliest single-day killer in our country's history, just behind the Tupelo tempest.

Dubliners and Laurens Countians immediately mobilized to send relief. Blanche Metts, W.H. Lovett, and Harry Johnson traveled to Gainesville to survey the damage and lend a much welcomed hand.

Everyone down river on the Oconee, the Ocmulgee, and the Altamaha knew what was about to happen. As the torrential rains made their way into the rivers of North Georgia, people in Dublin prepared for a flood. Dr. Ovid Cheek tied up his pleasure boat, the Wieuca, hoping that she would not wash away.

By Maundy Thursday, April 9, the Oconee River had risen to a dangerous and unprecedented level of 29.97 feet and rising. A bridge on Blackshear's Ferry Road was washed away. Flood waters were already swiftly seeping into the nearly clear waters of Session's Lake near the present day Dublin Country Club. During the night, the situation worsened when 1.49 inches of unwanted rain cascaded down to the saturated earth.

Flood watchers saw the river rise another two feet by Good Friday. Water levels in the Scottsville neighborhood of northeast Dublin kept on rising into yards and streets. Observers reported a "three-block long wide stretch of water backing up in the area."

Some Scottsville residents took the floods in stride. M. M. Harp saw one house where the water was rising under the back porch. An amused Harp reported that its owner was hanging out fishing poles hoping for a mess of fish for a Friday night supper. Some residents were catching carp, who loved the shallow waters, with gigs and pitch forks. Other less patient fishermen were pulling out their shotguns and firing at the floundering massive fish. Disoriented ducks were seeking refuge in the flooded woodlands of the neighborhood.

Just to the north of Scottsville on Parker Dairy Road, the creek waters splashed the bannisters of the bridge across Hunger and Hardship Creek. City officials kept a close watch on the river bridges. The passenger bridge, which was erected in 1920, was said to have been one of the safest anywhere in this part of the state. One young woman recalled decades later that she remembered water touching the bottom of the railroad bridge, which is still in existence today.

My midday on Saturday, the flood waters had risen nearly another two feet to 31.28 feet. The under side of the Georgia Plywood mill on the edge of the river just above the bridge was flooded. The water, still on the rise in Scottsville, began to form islands around higher elevated homes. Out in the county, bridges, roads, and farm terraces were washed away.

Just as the Easter Sunday church goers were praying for the river to crest, it did. Just after noon, the river, at Dublin, crested at an all-time documented record of 33.08 feet. Fifty persons were homeless, but thankfully, there were no injuries or deaths. The bridge over Hunger and Hardship Creek on Parker Dairy Road, finally gave way allowing foolish daredevils the ability to cross the swollen creek where the bridge once stood. Upriver at Blackshear's Ferry, ferryman Rawls Watson's gauge measured the river at 33.4 feet deep, just under the all-time high-water mark of 34 feet set in 1888.

Hundreds and hundreds of spectators left their churches and went to the river to see the rising tide as it submerged the lower end of East Gaines Street. Turkey Creek covered the Glenwood Road at Robinson's Bridges.

The river gauge at the plywood mill was completely washed away in the torrent, but the official gauge remained in place.

To put this all perspective, in the last 117 years, the level of the Oconee River at the bridge has exceeded the 30-foot level only one other time. That was on March 11, 1998 when it peaked at 32.0 feet. And, to put that flood into a greater perspective, the river waters were controlled by dams at Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee. In the decade and a half before the great flood, the river gauge read 29.8 feet on January 25, 1925; 29.3 feet and 27.6 feet on the 7th of March and the 5th of October in 1929; and more than 23 feet twice in 1919.

At the crest of the flood, national weather service equipment at the river bridge measured a discharge of 96,700 cubic feet of water per second. That's enough water to cover a football field 25 inches high, each second, or 125 feet high, every minute!

Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad president B.H. Lord reported that some of his hands told him that they saw two washtubs floating down the river, one with a clock in it and the other with a big black cat holding on for one of its nine lives. D.R. Thomas related that he saw a log floating down the river with a wildcat one end and a rabbit on the other, neither one knowing whether or not to eat or swim.

Coincidentally, H.H. Dudley, Prof. W.L. Hughes, Prof. Marcus Ingram, Ruth Hunter, and M.H. Dudley had already arranged a performance of the African-American operated Silas Green Show on the Burch lot on the first block of West Madison Street. H.H. Dudley, seeing the opportunity to support the victims of the Gainesville tornado, set aside twenty-five percent of the proceeds to relieve the tornado victims. Although 789 people came to see one of the longest running tent shows in American history, only a mere $30.01 was raised.

By the end of the week, all 125 hands and employees of the plywood mill were back at work and things slowly began to return to normal.

Although the Corps of Engineers and state officials have helped to bring floods along the Oconee River under control, the chances of a great flood coming back one day are good. Remember the great flood of 1994 on the Ocmulgee? That monumental flood could have easily hit us. Will you be ready the next time?

Friday, April 01, 2011


The Story of the Freeman Rowe House, Dublin’s Oldest House

Dublin’s oldest house, the home of Judge Freeman Hugh Rowe, was built a little over one hundred and fifty years ago. One hundred and fifty years ago today, the house became the subject of a short, but bitter, law suit between the owner and the contractor, Francis Rebearer. Over the next century, the home, despite its rather modest state, would become one of Dublin’s more well known dwellings.

Freeman Hugh Rowe, a son of John Rowe of Fairhaven, Connecticut, traveled to Cuba at the age of eighteen in 1834. On his return trip, Rowe made his way through Florida and landed in the dormant town of Dublin. He took up the merchant trade and later was named branch manager of the Bank of Savannah in Dublin. In the 1850s, operating under the firm name of Rowe, Wright, and Robinson, Rowe reactivated the river boat trade along the Oconee River, with his freighter, “The Governor Troup.” In 1852, Rowe was elected Judge of the Court of Ordinary, which was the successor to the old Inferior Court. The court handled probate and estate matters in addition to managing the business affairs of the county.

On May 28, 1849, Rowe hired one Francis Rebearer, an itinerant contractor, for completion of the house, which apparently had been partially constructed on the site at the current southwestern corner of Academy Avenue and Rowe Street. Differences began to arise between Rowe and Rebearer. Rebearer claimed that Rowe refused to furnish materials for the job, a default which Rebearer claimed caused him undue loss of time. In a loquacious and redundant complaint, Rebearer’s attorney ,A. Russell Kellam, complained that Rowe had been negligent in his refusal to provide the contracted materials, leading. Kellam claimed this lead to a great loss of time, as well as profit which Rebearer hoped to derive from the job of enlarging and improving the Rowe home.

In his complaint, Kellam outlined the work done by Rebearer which included a $300.00 price tag for the construction of the house, $50.00 for building a circular staircase - a true sign of wealth in mid 19th century Dublin since few people could actually afford one, $10.00 for a closet under those stairs, $1.50 for a seat on the portico, $75.00 for two extra rooms upstairs, and $4.00 for framing a well under the stairs - it being a common practice to build a house over the well as a convenience for Mrs. Rowe and the servants. Rebearer also built two closets on the first story, a luxury for the time and for many years to follow, and installed sixteen pairs of windows in the house. Rebearer’s attorney claimed that he made a demand and that Rowe refused to pay for the work done. He also refused to pay $45.00 for lost time which his client suffered on account of Rowe’s refusal to have the materials at the site. Rebearer’s bill included two dollars for the building of a coffin, the occupant of which was not disclosed.

As always, there are two sides to every case. Rowe’s attorney, William H. Connelly filed an answer, just as loquacious as the complaint, and a counterclaim against Rebearer, asserting that an important part of the work had not been performed in “a workmanlike manner.” Rowe’s answer stated that the contractor and his assistant, Joseph Hernadez, were hired to build a roof on the piazza, or front porch for those of us in the South. Rowe averred that it was supposed to be one which did not leak, a defect which Rowe claimed caused damages in the amount of $50.00.

Rowe’s counter claim included bills going back to March 18, 1848 for goods and merchandise from his store, as well as room and board for Rebearer, his wife, and family along with a room for Hernandez. Rowe contended that the plaintiff owed him for the services of his buggy and servants during the construction of the house. Many of the purchases came for clothing materials and accessories for Mrs. Rebearer, who was the recipient of a fine hat for a price of $4.50, goat shoes at $1.50 a pair, and a cotton umbrella. The carpenter purchased tools from Rowe, including a seventy five cent pocket knife. Two hundred and twenty seven dollars of the four hundred and twenty six dollars and thirteen and one half cent debt claimed by Rowe was from unpaid loans to Rebearer, including the fifty cents Rowe lent to him at a party on February 3, 1849. Among other purchases by Rebearer were twenty five cents for a plug of tobacco he bought for Boy Joe, twelve cents for a fish line and hooks, and twenty five cents for a bottle of magnesia.

The suit was scheduled to be heard by Judge James Scarborough on the first Monday in September in 1849. The lawyers on both sides worked out a settlement between the parties which was entered in the court’s minutes on March 5, 1850 by Francis Thomas, Clerk. Rebearer agreed to pay Rowe $14.325 cents and all court costs.

On the morning of May 7, 1865, a wagon train approached the store of Freeman Rowe on the southwest corner of the courthouse square in Dublin. It was the main body of the train of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis, who remained on the southeastern edge of town near the present site of Dublin Construction Company, never came to Judge Rowe’s store. Rowe, a Connecticut Yankee, but a true southerner by then, graciously offered the hospitality of his home to the President and his wife. Owing to the urgency of the moment, the officer in charge declined the invitation, but accepted Rowe’s kind offer of a freshly cooked Sunday dinner instead. The next morning when a detachment of the Wisconsin Cavalry came into town in pursuit of Davis, Rowe protected Davis by directing the Union soldiers down what is today known as the Glenwood Road, knowing all along that he told Davis’ men to take the Telfair Road to the west of the former route.

Freeman Rowe married Margaret Moore, daughter of Dr. Thomas Moore and granddaughter of Captain Thomas McCall, progenitors of two of Dublin’s oldest and finest families. The couple had only two children, Thomas Hugh Rowe and a daughter, Augusta Rowe, of whom little is known. Their son Thomas was a Captain in the War Between the States, a legislator, and a merchant. His wife, Emma Saxon Guyton was a daughter of Moses Guyton, II and Mary Ann Love, members of two more of Dublin’s finest families. Thomas operated a large farm below his home in the southern part of Dublin. His land encompassed Saxon Street, which was named for Mrs. Rowe and her family. Their children were Maggie, Josie, Freeman Hugh, Mary Guyton, Charlie, Emma, and George. Judge Rowe died in 1890. His wife Margaret followed him in death in 1904, the same year that Emma Rowe died.

Freeman Rowe, the eldest son, was given the home in 1911. A portion of the property was sold to the Masonic Lodge in 1936, but the house remained on the site until about forty years ago. It was then moved to 609 Rowe Street and became the home of the Henry Mason family. Today it remains a relic of Dublin’s glorious past, hidden away and long forgotten by many.


Benjamin Smith Jordan was a wealthy landowner in Baldwin County.  He died in 1856.  R.E. Launitz, a New York sculptor, created this massive statue.  Launitz was the sculptor of the Pulaski Monument in Savannah.  Jordan is buried beneath this monument in Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, Georgia.