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

Friday, September 30, 2011

RICHLAND BAPTIST CHURCH

THE RICHLAND TRADITION



Two Hundred Years and Counting






For most of the last two hundred years, folks in the southwestern part of Twiggs County have gathered together at Richland Baptist Church to ask the Lord's blessing. And on the first Sunday in October, the members of the Richland Restoration League will once again return to the church which they have lovingly kept from the neglect of the winds of time and total destruction.

Two hundred years ago on October 5, 1811, Richland Meeting House was constituted by the reverends Edmond Talbot, of Jones County and Eden Taylor of Baldwin County. The Rev. Micajah Fulghum was assigned to the pulpit of the church which was first located on the banks of Richland Creek in a log structure. About a decade later, a new structure was constructed near Duke Hart's springs.

The charter members of Richland Church were John Denson, Jacob Ricks, Edward Nix, William Coates, Sarah Denson, Susannah Ricks, Elizabeth Lipham, Elizabeth Truluck, Sally Parrott, Anna Hammock, Sara Glenn, Nancy Powell, and Chloe Hodges, a Negro woman. Jacob Ricks, a founding father of Twiggs County, was named as a commissioner of public buildings at the town of Marion, the county's original county seat, which was located a few miles to the northwest. Ricks also served as one of the first justices of the Inferior Court of Twiggs County. John Denson lived to the ripe old age of 90 and long enough to see the current church built. Edward Nix died just five years after the church. Few records, if any, could be found about the remaining charter members.

Membership continued to rise and by 1840, Richland Church became the largest church in the Ebenezer Baptist Association. During the first five decades of the existence of the church, both white and black members worshipped in the church together. Although the slaves were considered members, they were required to sit in the galleries of the church during church services. In the year 1860, black membership reached a peak of 165 members, representing nearly seventy percent of the total membership. After the Civil War, black members left white churches and formed their own congregations.

One of the most poignant moments in the history of the church came a century and a half ago at the beginning of the Civil War. The ladies of the Richland and Marion communities would meet at the church to sew articles of clothing and make supplies for their boys in gray. Mrs. Isolene Minter Wimberly gave a heart-stirring address from the front steps of the church to the men and boys who were members of Company I of the 6th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, "The Twiggs County Guards." Mrs. Wimberly presented her husband, Frederick Davis Wimberly, the company lieutenant and later captain, a hand made battle flag, which was turned to the flag bearer, Sergeant Warren. The Guards, like many other Southern units, suffered horrific losses while attached to the Army of Northern Virginia.



The current structure, built in about 1845 on the site of New Hope Baptist Church, was located near an old stage road running from Savannah to North Georgia. The Greek Revival style, rectangular church has four simple columns supporting the roof of the portico. The simple front has four doors with the center two leading to the aisles. Traditionally, the ladies of the church entered the right door and took their seats, while the men came through the left door. Both men and women sat in the center section, but were segregated by a wooden partition running down the center. Along the sides of the pulpit, smaller rows of pews were arranged to face the pulpit at right angles to the main pews. Commonly called "Amen corners," these areas were reserved for the hard of hearing and the elderly.

The roll of ministers of Richland Church reads like a "who's who" among prominent Baptist preachers during the antebellum period. Among the most well known ministers who served Richland were George M. McCall, J.H. Campbell, James Kilpatrick, James Cary Solomon, Henry Bunn, Edward J. Coates, C.D. Mallory, James McConnell, James Williamson, Vincent A. Tharpe, Theophilus Pearce, John Ross, Adam Jones, C.A. Tharpe, and Lott Warren, who would also serve as an attorney, judge, and Congressman. During its first 78 years as a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Association, Richland Baptist Church had its minister serve in the highly honored position of Moderator of the Association.



Membership slowly declined after the war after the county seat was moved from Marion to Jeffersonville. With black members leaving to form their own churches and the white population in the area declining, attendance all but ended. After G.W. Faulk, Jr., a leading member and deacon of the church, died in August 1911, the last days of the then century old church were at hand. The church's last, minister, Francs Bartow Asbell resigned almost a century to the date after the church was founded.

For the next 37 years, the grand and once glorious house of worship stood vacant on most Sundays. Then, after the country had come out of the darkness of the Great Depression and two world wars, the descendants of former members and supporters of one of the true treasures of Twiggs County stepped forward with their time, their money and their devoted hearts to stop the deterioration of the century old structure. The league has also been able to preserve the interior of the building and several original items used in worship services more than a century ago.



In 1948, the Richland Restoration League was formed. Mary Faulk Harrison was elected president of the league. Other officers included Irene Wimberly Gleeson, Clara W. Pope, Sara Faulk, and Mrs. H.D. Faulk. These women worked tirelessly to restore the church to its original grandeur. The efforts have continued until the recent past when a $90,000 renovation program was initiated in 2004 to shore up the church's foundation. Through the generosity of contributors, the loan was paid off in seven years.

On Sunday, Oct. 2, the members of the Richland Restoration League will hold a celebration in honor of the church's bicentennial. The featured speaker for the day's festivities will be the Rev. Francis Wilson. Rev Wilson, a former resident of Cochran and a graduate of Mercer University, will address the gathering. Rev. Wilson is a grandson of Rev. F. Barrow Asbell, the last official minister of Richland Baptist Church when it closed one hundred years ago.


The league's trustees invite the members of all Twiggs County and Middle Georgia churches to be a part of this once in a lifetime celebration of their devotion to Richland Church and its service to the Lord. The festivities will begin at noon and will include an old fashioned dinner on the grounds and a performance by Wesleyannes, a choral group from Wesleyan College in Macon.

To get to the church, take the I-16 exit (No. 24) at Ga. Hwy. 96 and turn west next to the Huddle House and onto Richland Church Road and follow the signs for about two miles. For further information, go to www.historicrichlandchurch.org.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BROTHERS IN CHRIST

The Reverend McGehees



It was a week when there were more Methodist preachers who appeared in Dublin than in a Key and Flanders family reunion. John B. McGehee (Left) and Edward McGehee, two of the longest serving Methodist ministers in the history of the South Georgia conference, were in town for a homecoming at the First Methodist Church.

It was during the last week of September 1911, one hundred years ago, when the members of the First Methodist Church invited all of their living former ministers to return to Dublin to celebrate the renovation of the church's new facility. Amazingly, all but one of the ministers accepted the invitation. Rev. W.N. Ainsworth, was busy with his duties as Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The only other former Dublin Methodist minister missing was the Rev. Peter S. Twitty, who died a decade before.



The featured speaker and the hardest to get to come to the event was the Rev. John Boykin McGehee, who at the age of seventy-nine, was the oldest member of the South Georgia Conference of ministers. Rev. McGehee was also the first official minister of the First Methodist Church way back in 1854. During his sixty-five years in the ministry, Rev. McGehee served dozens of churches as well as many terms as a district superintendent.

John Boykin McGehee was born in the Henderson community, near Perry in Houston County, Georgia, on September 6, 1833. The son of Rev. Edward T. McGehee and Clara Apperson Owens, McGehee grew up in Houston County, where his father practiced medicine and dabbled at farming before entering the ministry.




It was only after his attendance at Emory College and his graduation from Franklin College that John McGehee found his place as a minister of the Gospel. McGehee was attending a revival at Wiley Chapel Methodist Church. He later wrote that he paid no attention to the services and in fact he resented what was happening around him. It was only when McGehee started across the street when he experienced an epiphany. From that moment on, the young man knew that he was called to preach.

It was on the morning of November 7, 1852, when the Rev. McGehee was admitted as a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His first assignment came in the Vienna circuit, although some written records indicate that he may have come to Dublin to preach on an irregular basis. In his second year in the ministry, McGehee was assigned to the Sandersville District and in particular the Methodist Church in Jeffersonville.

In his autobiography, published in 1915, the Rev. John B. McGehee wrote, "My home was in Dublin, at that time a small village. Then it didn't own a church building. Our Baptist brethren kindly gave us the use of their house of worship. Mine was no small circuit. Parts of four counties, Laurens, Washington, Montgomery and Pulaski claimed my oversight. Indeed churches were so numerous, riding so long, territory so large, that it was difficult to suppress the idea that I needed a traveling companion - an idea which was not suppressed."


First Methodist Church, 1894-1910

Rev. McGehee remembered the main families of his congregations, the Guytons, Blackshears, Sanders, Flanders, Hicks, Holmes, and Arlines. While he lived in Dublin, the twenty-one-year-old minister boarded with Tom and Elvira Guyton. Rev. McGehee, still lacking confidence in his abilities, remembered the Dashers, the Rowes and Cochrans in the Dublin church who helped "the young shepherd ofa small Methodist flock."

In his years spent in Dublin, McGehee met many people who had a profound influence on his life in the ministry. He cited George Smith, who attended Snell's Bridge Church, as "one of the best men I ever knew." He remembered several members of the Flanders family, long hailed as leaders of the Methodist movement in our area, including Frank Flanders, Fred Flanders and W.J. Flanders.

In describing the loneliness of his circuit riding days, McGehee told the story of a trip to Lowery Church, "Finding a bridge down, I plunged into a creek deeper than Jordan and reached the bank in safety. For two hours, I pursued the trail without seeing a man, animal or bird, and began to decide how I would imitate the heroism of the fathers. At sunset, I found a driver and an ox cart," McGehee recalled. He told the driver he didn't know where he was going and confessed he was lost. He finally reached a home where the occupants were gone. Their new son-in-law turned the stranger away. McGehee spoke as eloquently as he could to convince the young man to allow him to stay for the night. Finally, he told the man, "I am sent to preach to you and will go no farther." Moved by the moment, the preacher was invited inside where he enjoyed a "sweet sleep."



First Methodist Church, 1911-1966


It was in that "dark country" of southern Laurens County which McGehee described as having "an atmosphere from that section drawn largely from ponds and well charged with malaria, mosquitos and chills" as the place where he began to suffer from malaria for four years.

Just after his tenure in Dublin, John McGehee met the love of his life. The lonely days on the road made him think about what kind of woman he would like to marry. After months of deliberation, McGehee narrowed down his bride's qualifications to a few. More than sixty years after his marriage, the parson wrote that she must be a Methodist, and that she be strong, tall, smart, attractive, well read, and well reared. He found a match in Lucretia Lane. The couple married on the day after Christmas in 1854. He was twenty-one years old and his bride was only three months beyond her fifteenth birthday.

After leaving Dublin, McGehee served in several churches before becoming the president of Andrew College, a Methodist post secondary school in Cuthbert. At the age of forty, McGehee became a highly sought after Presiding Elder, serving in Columbus, Fort Valley, Thomasville, Savannah, Macon, and McRae. After more than 57 years in the ministry, McGehee finally returned to the pulpit in 1909 in Talbotton, where he died on July 22, 1917.

The younger McGehee, Edward Augustus McGehee (1839-1920), entered the Methodist ministry in 1859. Edward served as the minister of Dublin's First Methodist Church from 1904-1905 during the decades when the local church was one of the most important churches in the state.

The McGehee brothers' record of slightly more than one hundred twenty-five years of combined service to the Church has been surpassed by current and former Dublin residents, Jack and Billy Key, to whom I dedicate this column. The Brothers Key, who began their ministerial careers before World War II, have been brothers in Christ for well more than one hundred and thirty years. Their profession of their faith and their devotion to the Gospel of the Lord have been a blessing to all those who have been touched by the comfort of their words of "faith, hope and love."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TOM MIX



King of the Cowboys





In the days when movies were silent and the Twenties roared, Tom Mix was a movie star. Not just any movie star in the days when John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry were little boys, Thomas Edwin Mix was the most popular cowboy movie star in the world. It was on a September Saturday some seventy-five years ago when Tom Mix came to Dublin and the people of Dublin saw their cowboy hero up close and in person.



Tom Mix began his movie career in 1910 at the age of thirty. Over the next quarter of a century, Mix was reported to have appeared in more than 330 movies. All but a handful of those movies were talking pictures. At the height of his silent movie career, Mix was appearing in more than fifteen movies every year. As his career in motion pictures began to wane, Mix launched a transcontinental tour in what was billed as the largest motorized circus in the world.



The four-million-dollar circus began its tour in Compton, California and featured the new and improved 150-foot round top. The equipment and animals were transported by night convoys of no less than sixty new semi trucks with beautifully painted red, white, and blue trailers. The walls, marquee, and curtains were striped in red and white.



After performances in Athens and Macon, the three-ring circus arrived just before daylight in Dublin on the morning of September 26, 1936. The event was held on the old 12th District Fairgrounds at the corner of Telfair Street and Troup Street. Crowds gathered around the fairgrounds in the early morning to witness the erection of the circus city, a show in of itself. A matinee performance took place at 2:00 followed the grand finale during the evening show at 8:00.




The Tom Mix Circus followed right on the heels of its main motorized circus competitor, the Downie Brothers - Sparks Circus, which came to the old fairgrounds the week before. The Downie Brothers hired Jack Hoxie, a silent movie cowboy movie veteran, to compete with the vastly more popular, Tom Mix. The Downie circus was much smaller, but drew good crowds wherever it went, even during the dark days of the Great Depression.



Nearly one hundred and fifty horses and ponies were used in the show. To make it a well-rounded circus, Mix gathered monkeys, baboons, lions, deer, and dogs along with three elephants and a zebra for his circus, which employed more than 500 performers, including sixty aerialists, sixty riders, and two hundred stars on the floor of the arena.



In addition to Mix, the star of the show, the audience was thrilled by acrobatic performers, the Flying Arbaughs and Erma Ward, "The Queen of the Air." The fabulous Riding Hobsons and Max Gruber's Jungle Oddities rounded out the show. The Arbaughs teamed with Ward Codona Troup to form the largest flying acrobatic show ever performed.



Mix personally led the Parade of the Royal Mounted consisting of more than eighty mounted riders. A Courier Herald writer reported, "Mix was very gracious about signing autographs for juvenile fans crowded about shyly extending autograph books." Always by his side was Mix's horse and a crowd favorite, Tony, Jr. - the first Tony having died years before.



Homer Hobson, Helen Ford and Joe Bowers opened the show with an amusing performance of trained dogs and monkeys. Along with a requisite corps of circus clowns, the show featured twenty girls performing on swinging ladders. Next came more female performers, Del Herberto, Mlle Lorenzo, and Ella Davenport and a company of Lady polo riders led by Helen Ford and Company. Charles Arley, who performed a head balancing act on a revolving trapeze, and Les Cotelettis Troupe of comedic acrobats had the crowed laughing out loud.



The main center ring event followed with Tom Mix's company of cowboys and horses. Mix demonstrated his riding and marksmanship skills by riding and firing at moving targets. He climaxed the performance by lying flat on his back and shooting light bulbs in a dome over his head.



Erma Ward

Other billed acts included Rhoda Royal's Liberty Horses, trapeze artists, Karise Turner and her flying ballet, Johnny Jordan, Albert Powell, and George Arely and the Bell-Jordan-Marks Troupe.



Among the more well known sideshow acts was Schlitzie, "The Pinhead." Schlitzie was born with a neurodevelopmental disorder which caused him to have an unusually small brain and a height of four feet. Schliztie Surtees starred in the 1932 cult film Freaks and was a long time circus side show freak with Barnum and Bailey.


                                                       Schliztie, The Pinhead

After the last performer left the ring and the workers began sweeping the pop corn and peanuts from the abandoned grandstands, several local miscreants got themselves into an affray with a circus employee. Three men got into an argument with side show workers over money. Dublin police pulled out their bud nippers and broke up the ruckus, but one of the men went back and retrieved his gun. Enlisting the aid of two conspirators, the unnamed man confronted the circus employees, cutting one of them in the throat while others fired their guns, none of which struck their targets. The three young men were arrested, but when circus employees failed to show for a 9:00 a.m. court appearance, the charges were dropped.



Within four years, Tom Mix's iconic career would come to a tragic end. After visiting with the Pima County, Arizona sheriff, Nix stopped in at the Oracle Junction Inn. Mix went on his way after talking by phone with his agent. Mix, reportedly driving at nearly 80 mph through the desert, swerved to avoid hitting a construction barrier which blocked a washed out gully. A large aluminum suitcase, which contained money, travelers' checks, and jewels, was catapulted forward from the rear of Mix's car and struck him in the back of his head, smashing his skull. In an instant, the man who was shot at by the bad guys and always survived was killed by his own suitcase.



It wasn't exactly Barnum and Bailey and The Greatest Show on Earth. But, it was on that thrilling early autumn day when a troupe of circus performers gave us a show of a lifetime and the King of The Cowboys came to town.

Monday, September 05, 2011

JAMES M. FINN

JAMES M. FINN
Dublin's Number One Citizen


J.M. Finn was rightly named "Dublin's Number One Citizen." Although that honor could be shared by several others during the Golden Age of the Emerald City, Finn's list of contributions to the growth of Dublin from a sleepy railroad village to one of Georgia's most important commercial cities was unparalleled. And, who else would be a booster of Dublin like Finn, who was one of the cities truest Irishmen that our city ever knew.

James Moore Finn was born in Franklin, Kentucky on October 6, 1866. His father, John A. Finn, was a prominent lawyer and a state representative. His brother, Gerald, also practiced law and was honored with a term as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Bluegrass State. Finn's paternal grandfather, John Finn, emigrated from Galway, Ireland in 1816 directly into Franklin, where he became a successful merchant and politician.

After attending local schools, Finn began his business career as a clerk in a store in Franklin. James Finn attended the prestigious Vanderbilt University, where he was an outstanding student and member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. After his graduation in 1889, Finn worked in various positions until he migrated to the awakening town of Dublin, Georgia, where he took a position as the cashier of the Bank of Dublin, the city's first bank. Before coming to Dublin on the 4th of July 1892, Finn married Hyrell McGoodwin, affectionately known as "Birdie."




Mrs. "Birdie" Finn


Before Finn's arrival in Dublin, the city was on the verge of an explosive growth. With the bridging of the Oconee River by the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad, the construction of a passenger bridge over the river, and the coming of the Macon, Dublin, and Savannah Railroad from the west, the once, sleepy, drunken, lawless town of Dublin was about to grow exponentially under an unprecedented boom which would last for a quarter of a century until thwarted by the devilish boll weevil, which all but destroyed the cotton crop. And, it was James M. Finn who climbed aboard the crest of the tidal wave and rode it all the way to the end of the city's first golden age.

Right from the beginning, the people of Dublin and Laurens County endeared "Mr. Jim" Finn, and right from the beginning, "Mr. Jim" endeared the people of Dublin and Laurens County. Once a complete stranger, the voters of Laurens County elected Finn to the Board of County commissioners during his first few years in the county. It was Finn who lent his financial knowledge to build a new courthouse in 1895 without funding by a bond issue and without any debt.

The bank's early success led to Finn's success as well. He built a handsome residence on the southeast corner of Bellevue Avenue and South Calhoun Street. The house, which is now owned by Arnold Adams, still stands today.



Home of J.M. Finn, Bellevue Avenue
(Courtesy of Vicki Adams Blizzard)


First and foremost, James M. Finn was a banker. After the death of the bank's founder, Capt. R.C. Henry, in 1900, Finn remained in the position of cashier until the bank merged with its across the street neighbor to form the Dublin-Laurens Banking Company. Finn became the Active Vice President of the Dublin-Laurens Banking Company. In 1918, Finn was elected as the Second Vice President of the Southern Exchange Bank, when it acquired the Commercial Bank of Dublin.

J.M. Finn was highly regarded by his banking colleagues across the state. In 1910, Finn was elected chairman of the prestigious "Group Five" of the Georgia Banker's Association, which had previously met in Dublin and were wined and dined by Dublin's best cooks and hospitable citizens.

It was, at least in part, Finn's banking skills which helped Dublin and Laurens County to place near the top of the state in the number of banking institutions. In 1917 at the pinnacle of Dublin and Laurens County's growth before the coming of the boll weevil, Dublin had six banks, tying Macon for sixth place in the number of banks among cities in Georgia. Laurens County, with its 14 banks, was third behind only Fulton and Chatham Counties.

The number of local banks began to plummet during World War I. With the collapse of the cotton crop, all of the county's banks, including the powerful First National Bank, closed. Only the Bank of Dudley and Farmers and Merchants Bank, remained open. When the last Dublin bank closed, a new bank, "The Dublin Bank and Trust Company," was organized by the owners of Citizens and Southern Bank on October 31, 1928. J.M. Finn, George T. Morris, and H.R. Moffett were named to the bank's local board of directors.

J.M. Finn was also closely associated with the cotton industry. Finn served as an officer and director of the Georgia Cotton and Compress Company, which once boasted that it could process a farmer's cotton on Monday morning and place it aboard a European bound ocean going vessel on Tuesday afternoon. It was a century ago when Finn's company, along with other cotton gins in the county, processed more than 30 million pounds of cotton, the largest single county cotton crop in the history of the state, until broken in the late 1900s.

Finn, also a cotton farmer, was closely allied with the Dublin Cotton Mills, a somewhat successful cotton mill on the west side of Dublin. Finn realized that transportation of his cotton was essential and involved himself for more than two decades as a director of the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad, the county's most successful railroad.

Although laundry lists of a person's activities are often boring, Finn's short resume of his activities as an officer and director is quite impressive: Dublin Board of Censorship, Dublin Board of Tax Assessors, Dublin Board of Trade, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Dublin Chamber of Commerce Warehouse Company, Dublin City Board of Education, Dublin City Executive Committee, Dublin Cotton Mills, Dublin Fair Association, Dublin Lumber Company, Dublin Peanut Company, Dublin Red Cross, Dublin Stockyard Company, Finn, Garrett & Holcomb Real Estate Company, Georgia Cotton and Compress Company, Georgia Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Georgia State Chamber of Commerce, Laurens County Centennial Commission Chairman, Southern Compress Association, Southern Cotton Association, Southland Veneer and Lumber Company, 12th District Fair Association, War Savings Stamp Board, and Wrightsville & Tennille Railroad. Finn also served as vice-president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Georgia Highway Commission in its early years.

All of Dublin was saddened on July 4, 1936, when J.M. Finn passed away after a long illness. He is buried in Northview Cemetery beside his wife. Sadly they had no children, to pass along the legacy of being a descendant of the number one citizen of Dublin.


LEAVING THEIR MARK






LEAVING THEIR MARK

When They Were Trojans



They came down the street and across the miles. They had been there before and left their marks. On this past Saturday morning, they came to mark "the sacred ground, the holy ground," the place where they attended Oconee High School and learned the life lessons of love, faith, and service to others. They came to remember the time when they were Trojans.


Former students, faculty members, and friends of Oconee High School gathered together for the dedication of a historical marker on the site of the former school which stood at the intersection of Vine and Oconee Streets from 1952 to 1970. When Dublin city councilman Jerry Davis, a graduate of Oconee High School, returned home to Dublin, he set out on a mission to mark the location of the school, the largest part of which had been torn down decades before.

After an application to the state of Georgia was rejected on the grounds that the school was not significant as a historical place on a statewide basis, an undeterred Davis turned to his friends and fellow alumni to erect a marker which would forever signify the location of the place which fellow student, the Rev. Richard Sheffield, declared as "holy."

After a welcome by Barbara Watkins James, '62, the Rev. Sheffield, Chairman of the Dublin City Board of Education, prayed, "Let love touch our hearts with love and charity." The 1966 graduate saw himself and others as they gathered in front of the old school as children trying to understand and learn. He asked that every time a child and its mother passed by, the child would ask, "What is Oconee High School"? - to which the mother would respond that it was a place of the heritage of education. Chairman Sheffield sees Dublin High School as an extension of Oconee High and as a place where even more focus should be made by the community, and especially parents, on education, so that the schools can be a place where every child can learn.

Davis, the alumni association's 2nd vice president, thanked those present and all who contributed to the effort, the alumni, the city, and the Laurens County Historical Society. The councilman fondly remembered the days when the school was the hub of the community and community activities and saluted the school's alumni association for continuing to be a beacon of light when the community has fallen into a state of disrepair and for continuing to represent a spirit of excellence. Davis, Class of '69, spoke of the students and faculty with pride and hopes that the marker will inspire others to emulate the achievements of Oconee alumni and continue to make a difference on the local, state and national stages.

Dublin Mayor Pro Tem, Julie Drigger, saluted those present as trailblazers and encouraged the graduates to remember and pass down their heritage by saying, "No one can take that away from you. Never forget where you come from and you will always know where you are going."

School board member, Laura Travick, challenged the gathering, "If we don't leave a mark, no one who passes this way will know these holy grounds and where many got their start in education." Mrs. Travick concluded, "They will know what this ground meant to the people to the people of Dublin."

Assistant Superintendent Elgin Dixon sees the marker as telling the story about those who have come before them and paved the way.

Charles Manning, principal of Oconee High School from 1959 to 1970, praised the strong alumni association and his former students, "Statewide, we were small, but we always gave our best in everything we did. Mr. Manning urged his students to continue their loyalty to Oconee. He counseled his former students to hold to the truth of being a Trojan. As he looked into the sun beyond the gymnasium, which still stands, Manning can still see the football games, with players like Richard Sheffield. "Oconee has always been the best," principal Manning concluded.

Oconee High School Alumni National Alumni Chairman Darlene Blocker, '70, invited representatives of each class to come forward to cut the cover of the marker in the style of cutting the net after a championship basketball game. One by one they came forward, from those who attended in the early days until those who left Oconee to attend Dublin High, and began to cut away and unveil the marker.

Dr. Jerome V. Pearson, a successful Rome, Georgia physician, Class of '71, finished the operation to unveil the southern side of the marker which features the words of Seaman Lonnie Woodum, Class of 1954. Woodum, the author of the school's alma mater, tragically lost his life in a naval accident just months after his graduation. The northern side of the marker outlines a brief history of the origin and life at Oconee High School and the days when the Trojans represented a spirit of excellence in education, sports and community service, a spirit which still lives today.


Jerry Davis



                                                               Barbara Watkins James



Rev. Richard Sheffield



Principal Charles Manning



Darlene Christian Blocker




Merita Walters Evans



                                                              Dr. Jerome V. Pearson



                                                            Clinton and Bobbie Lowther



MARKER CONTRIBUTORS

Oconee Alumni

Sanford Howard, '54
Loise McLendon Stroman, '55
Julian E. Thomas, '55
Bonese Thomas, '56
Betty Brown Williamson, '60
Ecleamus Ricks, '61
Charles Robinson, Jr. '61
Barbara Watkins James, '62
Merita Walters Evans, '64
Thomas "Ted" Pooler, '64
Donnie Christian Perryman, '65
Russell Bruce Simmons, '65
Johnny Vaughn, '65
Robert L. Mason, Jr. '67
Jerry Davis, '69
Darlene Christian Blocker, '70

Faculty

Lucille Wade

Others

Clinton Lowther
Scott B. Thompson, Sr.

Organizations

Civic Social Ten of Dublin-Laurens County
Southside Community Association, Inc.
Oconee High School National Alumni Association