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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

IT HAPPENED IN ELEVEN


Not all news stories make the headlines of long-lasting importance. On the other hand, some seemingly inconsequential stories do have an impact on the way will live, a century later. Others had no long term significance, but at the time, they were interesting, curious, or downright fascinating. These are some of those stories which made the news in the year Nineteen and eleven.

The tabulations of the 1910 Census were in. Dublin grew at an unbelievable rate of 94 percent in the first decade of the 20th Century, leading to the horn-tooting moniker, "Dublin - the only city in Georgia that's doublin' all the time." That rate paled in comparison to the 240 percent population increase in the 1890s. Over those two decades, the county seat grew from 863 people to 5,795, for a 572 percent increase. Dublin ended the decade as the 19th largest city in the state. Laurens County, with its 35,501 enumerated residents, was tabulated as the 7th largest county in the state, just a few hundred inhabitants behind Muscogee County.

The year 1911 was one of the most productive, if not the most productive, in the history of Laurens County agriculture. Local farmers produced more than 60,000 bales of cotton, each weighing 500 pounds, for a total of thirty million pounds - a figure which was more than any other county in Georgia that year and more than the yearly crop of Missouri. That record stood for nearly eight decades when machine harvested mega farms in South Georgia topped the mark.

Laurens County corn farmers were also right proud. Messers D.R. Thomas and J.T. Mercer planted twelve acres of prize winning corn. J.E. Smith, Jr. and the Chamber of Commerce pledged to pay a bounty of $1000 to anyone who could match the yield of the men, who produced 1,050 bushels on 9.5 acres in 1910. The reward was never claimed, leading to a local booster's claim that this Laurens County patch was the best in the United States. One indicator of the superlative agricultural productively of the county came when a local hardware company ordered twelve car loads of a popular plow. Eight years before the same firm only purchased on twelve plows. G.W. Kent came to Laurens County in 1896 without a single cent. A decade and a half later, the successful farmer operated a diverse 158-acre, three-mule farm and made a profit of $3,000 without incurring any debt.

Laurens County had the largest corn club in the state with 241 boys and 292 girls enrolled. R.P. Vaughn was right proud of his pig. He even charged folks ten cents a head to come by his house at 302 Jefferson Street to see his highly prized and overly heralded, one-headed pig, which possessed two bodies and eight feet.

The Mingledorffs of Dublin were known locally and across the countryside for their marathon bicycle trips. Frank, George, Claude, and Lambuth Mingledorf took their first ride over to Guyton, Georgia and back. They liked cycling so much that Frank and Claude rode their bicycles to Wilmore, Kentucky where they attended school. In the late spring of 1911, George, Claude and Lambuth set out in a northerly direction and pedaled all the way to Canada and back.

The year was also a prime year in banking circles. The Commercial Bank of Dublin, with a capital stock of $25,000 was chartered by J.M. Page, E.D. White, R.R. Johnson, C.O. Sikes, J.O. Barnes and A.P. Hilton. The Farmers State Bank of Dexter was headed by F.M. Daniel, Jerome Kennedy, John D. Walker, Dr. L.W. Wiggins, H.L. King, W.P. McClelland, Ernest Clarke, C.T. Beacham, Sr., P.A. Ashley, B.F. Wood, and F.L. Hobbs. The Montrose Banking Company, with $25,000 in assets, was founded by C.R. Williams, W.S. Burns, J.H. Rowland, E.J. Garbutt, W.M. Allen, H.E. Butler, Joel A. Smith, Sam Bashinski, W.G. Thompson, H.C. Black, Mrs. O.J. Pierce, E.L. Wade, C.C. Wade and W.R. Cook. A fourth bank, the Bank of Lovett, was incorporated by B.T. Kight, L.J. Manning, Dr. C.H. Manning, C.H. Moorman, A.J. Carter, J.D. Matthews, D.A. Moorman, W.T. Bridges, Mrs. P.M. Johnson, Della Manning, E.J. Smith, R.T. bray, C.W. Mills, J.J. Wyhnn, I.T. Jackson, M.F. Hightower, G.L. Garnto, J.D. Garnto, J.W. Stewart, E.K. Sumner, John B. Haines, A.W. Newson, B.W. Morgan, W.D. Sumner, Wright Sumner, Mrs. E.A. Hall, and C.R. Williams. The fifth and final bank organized in 1911 was the Bank of Rentz, which was founded by T.J. Taylor, H.D. Barron, John D. Walker, J.T. Mercer, J.F. Graham, P.C. Coleman, W.E. Bedingfield, W.A. Bedingfield, and B.O. Rogers.

The first leg of what would become Highway 80 was graded from Turkey Creek to the Wilkinson County line. The eight-mile stretch was part of a 54 mile road said to be one of the finest roads in the state.

Dudley folks had a lot of excitement in the first year of the second decade of the 20th Century. A firebug torched the home of Rev. S.W. Gray and the Dudley Supply Company within two weeks. Dudley lost the dormitory of the Dudley School and the Baptist Church two years before. Excitement of a different kind came on August 10, when gubernatorial candidate Pope Brown spoke to an assembled multitude of three thousand persons who came for car races, music, and barbeque.

Ice cream lovers loved the news the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Work's announced that it was making forty gallons per hour. Aldine Hawkins promised delivery of the company's "Hokey Pokey" ice cream in sanitary churns all over the county in ample time for dinner. Hawkins promised his ice cream would last for days before melting.

Only the second and third brick homes ever built in Dublin were constructed in 1911. J.S. Almond built a two-story brick house between his and J.A. Peacock's on Monroe Street. The house still stands and is a part of the Townsend Brothers Funeral home complex. A.B. Eubanks built Bellevue Avenue's first brick home (1305). The two-story, ten-room house was erected at a cost of $6,000.00 and is the last house on the northern side of Bellevue Avenue as you leave the downtown area.
In what appears to be the first game of basketball ever played, or at least reported to be played, by a Laurens County team, Dublin High's boys traveled to Macon to face the second team of Mercer University. Frank Grier, Currell Daniel, Leon Bush, Edgar Hodges, Sam Daniel and Lee Smith lost 34-3 and returned the following week to see their first win on the outdoor court in Stubbs Park. When players and spectators needed a refreshing drink, all they had to do was to go over to the new artesian well, dug by Thad Bostick. Bostick's pride and joy provided cool, clear water at the rate of 50 gallons per minute. That output didn't count the half-million gallons per day used by city water customers.

For the first decade and a half of electrical service, the City of Dublin acted as the only provider of electrical wiring. That practiced stopped in 1911 when private electricians took over the job of lighting our homes and businesses.

Of the year's most lasting impact was the formation of the Laurens County Baptist Association in November, which is more active in serving the needs of its members and the needy than it ever has been before.

As I complete my fifteenth year of writing "Pieces of Our Past," I want to thank each and every one of you who have enjoyed my writing. My zeal for writing comes from the stories of the outstanding people who call Laurens County and East Central Georgia their home and the hope they will inspire others. And, always remember that our most important history is in our future.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THEN AN ANGEL APPEARED ......


by: Lorene Flanders


Note: Today's Pieces of Our Past is written by Lorene Flanders, formerly of Laurens County. Lorene, a daughter of Fred and Martha Flanders, is Professor and Dean of Libraries at the University of West Georgia. Also a historian and a former librarian at GCSU, Lorene has served as Bibliographer for the Georgia Historical Society since 1999, co authoring the bibliography of Georgia history published annually in the Georgia Historical Quarterly.  (Photo at left by Scott B. Thompson, Sr.)




***************

In the cemetery at Carters' Chapel in eastern Laurens County, a marble angel standing before a flower-wreathed cross marks the small grave of Edith Flanders, born June 6, 1910. Edith died December 20, 1911, from burns suffered when her clothing caught fire as she knelt to pick up her doll. Edith was the first child of Mamie Carter Flanders, 1880-1946, whose father and uncles built Carters' Chapel, and John Flanders, 1875-1944, a native of Wrightsville.

Mamie Marie Carter and John Wesley Flanders were married June 22, 1904, a few years after Mamie graduated from LaGrange Female College. John trained for two years under his father, Dr. James Washington Flanders, in preparation for attending medical school, before taking up farming and construction for a livelihood. John built a house next door to his parents when he and Mamie married, but the couple sold it and purchased a farm in Dooly County, Georgia, about four miles southwest of Vienna on the Drayton Road. In addition to farming, John built houses, including a new home and tenant houses on the Dooly County farm. He also helped build a gin and cottonseed oil mill for Howell and Eggleston, a project that reflected southwest Georgia's strong pre-boll weevil economy.

By 1910, when they welcomed their first child, the couple was well established, growing cotton, and raising hogs, cows, and chickens. Dapp (Mary) and Charlie Gilbert and their son Gideon lived on the farm, as did a number of tenant families. Dapp did house work for Mamie, while Charlie worked for John on the farm. Mamie's garden, just outside the kitchen, was enclosed in a neat picket fence.





Mamie and John named their daughter Edith for Mamie's paternal grandmother, Edith Calhoun Carter, 1812-1897, who died when Mamie was seventeen. The name appears in Mamie's family as far back as the thirteenth century. A photograph taken when baby Edith was a few months old shows the family in front of their new house with Edith's nurse. A driver holds the reins to a horse hitched to a fine buggy.



John Wesley Flanders

Edith's brother Fred, who was born in 1914 nearly three years after her death, wrote of his parents' recollections of their daughter. "She turned out to be a rather small blonde little girl who was never sick and walked and talked very soon. She soon learned to feed my dad grains of rice on her finger. She would follow dad to the oak tree where he milked his Jersey cow twice a day. She had a blue and white enameled cup she wanted filled fresh from cow to cup. She would drink as much as she wanted and put her cup behind her back on her finger and go humming back to the house. She thrived and must have been my parents' little darling from what they spoke about her." Edith sometimes called her mother "Coot," a nickname Mamie acquired when she fell off a log into a cooter (duck) hole on Pennahatchee Creek, which ran close to the farm.

On a cold Tuesday morning in December, 1911, John was at work on the farm and Mamie was preparing to cook dinner over a big fire in the fireplace. She put on a coat, got a pan, and ran out in the cold wind to the sweet potato banks. As she started back to the house, she heard Edith scream and the child ran to Mamie with her clothes on fire. Mamie grabbed her daughter, rolled in the dirt to extinguish the fire, and took Edith inside. Desperate to summon help, Mamie ran back outside and began ringing the farm bell, becoming aware that her hands were badly burned as she frantically pulled the rope.

John and the farm hands came running. Alerted by the bell, nearby tenant families also came to the house. The women did what they could for Mamie and Edith, while others summoned more neighbors. John harnessed up his mule Stogen, and the white buggy horse, and raced to Vienna to get a doctor. According to an account by Fred Flanders written in 1988, Dr. Fred Williams and his registered nurse sped to the farm in the doctor's car, followed by Dr. Fred Mobley. Eventually, the doctors took John aside and told him how seriously both Edith and Mamie were burned. During the afternoon and evening, the doctors came and went, while their nurses ministered to Mamie and Edith. Despite heroic medical efforts, Edith passed away about 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

John returned to Vienna to make funeral arrangements. He placed calls to his and Mamie's parents and sent telegrams to family members who did not have phones. That afternoon, John and Mamie, accompanied by a nurse, took Edith's remains by train from Vienna to Macon, where they transferred to the Macon, Dublin, & Savannah Railroad for the journey to Dublin. Fred Flanders wrote that Mamie "was very grieved, and in much pain." The Vienna News reported that the couple's grief at the loss of their only child was "beyond human expression."



Mamie Carter Flanders


Mamie's father George Carter and her sister Joanna met the train in Dublin. John's cousin, Laurens County sheriff J.J. Flanders, took charge of the entourage as it made its way to the Carter farm some twelve miles east of Dublin. Joanna Carter, who had served as the family's chauffeur since 1908, when her father purchased his first car, was too upset to drive. Sheriff Flanders stayed to assist with funeral preparations. Edith was buried at Carters' Chapel on Thursday, December 21, with relatives, and many of John and Mamie's friends, including the Davis and Morgan families from Dooly County, in attendance.

Due to the severe burns to her hands, Mamie was unable to feed or dress herself for some time. Her mother Ocala Odom Carter, Joanna, and John's mother Sarah Hightower Flanders took turns staying with the couple when Mamie returned home some months later.


Jordan and Hart Campbell,
Children of Lorene Flanders
at the grave of
Edith Flanders
Carter's Chapel Church
Laurens County, Georgia.


In October, 1914, Mamie gave birth to her second and last child. She and John named the baby George Frederick for his grandfather George Carter, and Dr. Fred Mobley, who delivered him, and who had cared for Mamie and Edith after the tragic fire. Fred Flanders wrote of his mother's lifelong grief, "She never really got over losing her little daughter, as I could 'read' the signs so well."

          Lorene Flanders, niece of Edith Flanders

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DON'T KILL ME, I'M JUST THE MUSIC TEACHER

DON'T KILL ME!



I'M JUST THE MUSIC TEACHER!

Charles Vet didn't know at the time why he was being thrashed and pommeled. When he found out, the music maestro hired two of the best out of town lawyers he could find and afford. He took his attackers to Federal court and won.

In the winter of 1906, Dublin's Board of Education hired Charles Vet as the school system's music teacher. The French-speaking teacher taught piano and music lessons on the side to supplement his woefully meager salary.

On the night of May 29, 1906, Professor Vet went to bed in his modest apartment contemplating the next day's musical lessons. Vet maintained that B.A. Hooks entered his room and through a clever ruse induced him to come outside because he was wanted by the Board of Education. All of a sudden, a quintette of malefactors flogged, beat and battered him with wooden clubs and brass knuckles as retribution for his alleged wholly inappropriate and highly offensive remarks directed at a young unmarried female teacher in the school. Hooks maintained that Vet drew a gun on him and his friends as they were leaving the scene. He claimed that they acted solely in self defense. Vet, on the other hand, claimed that he did try to draw his gun, but that his attackers ripped it out of his coat and stabbed him in the throat.

Vet was so drubbed that he could not get out of his bed for a week. Being an helpless outsider, the pummeled professor had no luck in having his attackers arrested on felony criminal charges. With no other place to go, Professor Vet moved to Florida. His only practical remedy was to file a civil suit in a court of jurisdiction outside the limits of Laurens County.

Professor Vet, seeking at least $10,000.00 in damages, hired Du Pont Guerry and Peter W. Meldrim to file a case of trespass and assault in Federal court in Macon. He named as defendants, B. A. Hooks, T. W. Hooks, Blount Freeman, Daniel Driggars, and Andrew A. Cowart. Guerry, a frequent gubernatorial candidate and a long time U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, left his previous position as President of Wesleyan College in 1909 to return to private practice. Meldrim, known to have been both a literal and figurative fighter in the courtroom, would later become Judge of Chatham County Superior Court.

A trial was held on May 20, 1911 in the Federal Court Building in Macon. The illustrious Emory Speer served as the presiding judge. The defendants hired Alexander and Charles Ackerman, both of Dublin to defend them. Alexander Akerman was the Assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District. A year later, Akerman would become the U.S. Attorney. After moving to Florida, Alexander Akerman was named to the Federal bench by President Calvin Coolidge. His brother Charles was a practicing attorney in Dublin.

After a series of procedural maneuvers, the first day's testimony shocked those spectators who were hoping for a sensational scandal. Defendant B.A. Hooks took the stand first and professed that it was Vet, who drew a gun on him and the other defendants.

Professor Vet, speaking in broken English, took the stand and reiterated essentially the same story of the unprovoked attack on him. Courtroom curiosity seekers, the lawyers and even Judge Speer had to lean in toward Vet to understand his barely discernible testimony.

Vet testified that he had some difficulty with Miss Dew, the school's elocution teacher. According to the music teacher, Miss Dew wanted to use the piano in an upcoming school exhibition. He testified that he told the young teacher that she was "unladylike" as he took the piano into his own classroom. The Akermans introduced police reports tending to indicate that Vet had committed prior instances of insulting comments toward women.

To prove their claim that Vet's body had been seriously injured, Guerry and Meldrim introduced his broken, crushed hat along with his tattered, bloody coat, spattered with Vet's own blood. His lawyers pointed to a scar on his throat and claimed that the brutal attack was the proximate cause of their client's deafness.

Professor W.R. Lanier, a most credible and well-respected witness, testified that he heard Hooks say, "If I could get two or three helpers, I will give Vet a thrashing."

Miss Dew, described by a Macon Telegraph reporter as "young and attractive," took the stand next. A hush fell over the room as all present intensely listened. Judge Speer ruled that her testimony was irrelevant and excused the teacher from the courtroom.

One by one the other defendants took the stand. Blount Freeman, T.W. Hooks and Daniel Driggars denied that they had any part in the alleged attack. A.A. Cowart did not make an appearance, a move claimed by some to be calculated to avoid a judgment as he was insolvent. The trio placed the blame on Hooks and Cowart, who had previously plead guilty in the Dublin City Court. J.L. Robinson was sworn in and testified that Freeman, T.W. Hooks, and Driggars had no part in the fracas. Dr. J.M. Page, testifying on behalf of the defendants, stated that Vet's wounds were not as serious as he had declared.

In their closing arguments, Vet's attorneys reviewed the evidence and asserted that they had established a prima facie case against the defendants. Dublin Judge John S. Adams, one of the city's most well respected attorneys, argued that Vet had been lying about his $100.00 a month income as he had earned more than $60.00 a week. Alex Akerman pointed out the fact that Vet's straw hat was not bent on its right side, the side in which Vet stated he could not hear out of. Akerman proceeded with a grand theory that the actions of the defendants were nothing more than Southern chivalry in protecting the virtues of the young and innocent female teacher.

Meldrim, a consummate courtroom performer, rose to his feet, threw down his notes, and yelled, "Southern chivalry, bah!" He questioned whether or not chivalry was luring a simple stranger from a foreign land into the dark and beating him dangerously. Judge Speer agreed and charged the jury that all evidence of chivalry was irrelevant. Speer accented his point by stating generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the epitome of Southern chivalry, would not have shown that kind of behavior.

The jury deliberated for an hour before returning a verdict against B.A. Hooks and A.A. Cowart in the amount of $1,000.00 each and $300.00 from T.W. Hooks, Blount Freeman, and Daniel Driggars, collectively. B.A. Hooks appealed to Judge Speer for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict of the jury. Judge Speer denied the motion and Hooks filed an appeal to the District Court of Appeals. The following November, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.

It was one of those cases when no one went home happy. Vet, partially deaf and only slightly compensated after paying his two high-priced attorneys, and Hooks and his accomplices, greatly lighter in their wallets, couldn't understand what they did was wrong. Vet, at least could take some consolation in the fact that he was still playing the piano with two good hands and listening with one good ear.




Tuesday, December 06, 2011

EYEWTINESS TO INFAMY




Pancakes were all that Marjorie Wilson could think about as she drifted in and out of her Sunday morning dreams. It was just another normal sunny day, or so Marjorie thought. When she could practically smell pancakes, Marjorie rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, got out bed, put on her robe and headed downstairs to the kitchen. Pleasant thoughts turned into nightmares. Did it not seem real? Was it a all a bad dream?

The date was December 7, 1941. The place was Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The clock in the Wilson house was about to strike eight. Marjorie Hobbs Wilson, daughter of Walter A. Hobbs and Mary Arnold Hobbs, awoke from dreaming about pancakes to witness a nightmare, the momentous bombing of Pearl Harbor, which turned the world on its head. It was a cataclysmic day. It was a day which still lives in infamy seven decades later.

Marjorie's husband, Sergeant Major Bob Wilson, was stationed in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. Relations between the United States and Japan had begun to deteriorate. Many expected a war, but not that soon, and not in this way.

Bob Wilson was the first to awake that morning. The Wilsons heard no alarms, no air raid warnings. Bob, running up the steps of the couple's two story house, said, "Honey, you are missing a good mock war." Sgt. Major Wilson looked out the window again and realized that it was no drill. The roar of planes near the naval base wasn't unusual. In fact, the Wilsons and other servicemen and their families had grown accustomed to planes engaging in maneuvers.

Marjorie looked out the window. "The Jap planes were flying so low over our house that the wheels were almost rolling on the roofs. I knew it was the real thing when I saw a bomb make a direct hit," she recalled.

Bob Wilson, a veteran of the first World War, ran to his closet and began to put on his Marine uniform. Marjorie turned on the radio. Frantic broadcasters were constantly announcing that Japanese planes were attacking the Island of Oahu and for all men to report for duty at once. Bob got to his unit as soon as he could.

Marjorie Wilson first ran to the home of her girlfriend, Margaret De Sadler. Then Marjorie and Margaret went over to Harriett Hemmingway's house. As they ran down the streets, Mrs. Wilson recalled running along a quiet street, but seeing real bombs exploding nearby.

"Several girls had gathered there and we were there when the worst part was going on," Marjorie wrote in a letter to her parents later in the day. Mrs. Wilson recalled, "There were about seven kids there and all scared stiff. Harriett was almost out of her head. She has two little boys, one three and one five." I haven't been scared so far. I don't guess I've got enough sense to be."

More of the wives and their children gathered in the house. While the attack was on, the ladies kept their children calm by lying on the floor with them and drawing pictures. "I never knew anything about drawing before, but after that session, I think I am a pretty fair artist," Wilson chuckled. When one piece of shrapnel came inside the house, the children were herded into an interior room. Marjorie reached down and picked up the metallic souvenir.

Margaret accompanied Marjorie back to the Wilson house, where they put some clothes in a suitcase just in case they needed to evacuate to the hills. Bob Wilson returned to his house to make sure Marjorie had a radio to hear special announcements as all regular radio programming was suspended.

During the carefully premeditated surprise attack, Mrs. Wilson observed, "Some of the youngsters in the service ran out on the field shaking their fists at the Japanese planes even when they saw a bomb falling their way." She observed one Marine cook firing away with his anti-aircraft gun. The man suddenly remembered that he had a chocolate cake in the oven and ran to make sure it wasn't burning. "It was a silly thing to think of at a time like that - but those boys did enjoy the cake when the fireworks were over," she fondly recalled.

On that Sunday night, practically every light in Pearl Harbor was turned off. Marjorie and Margaret pulled down a mattress from the upstairs and tried to get some sleep on the downstairs floor. Marjorie took out a pen and wrote a letter back to her parents promising to let them know how she was doing as often as she could. " As soon as I can, I'll send you a wire, but I don't know now when that will be possible," she also wrote.

"We spent a pretty quiet night. Of course, Margaret and I both slept with one eye and one ear open," Marjorie recalled. The ladies had some comfort in the fact that a sentry was stationed right in front of her house.

At one o'clock in the morning, Alfred Sturgis rang the door bell and invited the ladies to come stay with him. Sturgis, who had worked all day at the Navy yard, couldn't drive his car during the blackout periods. Sturgis took Marjorie's letter and made sure it made it back to Dublin, just in time for Christmas.

After the initial shock, things at Pearl Harbor seemed to return to normal, or at least as normal as it could be under the circumstances. Marjorie remembered the blackouts every night. She recalled seeing Japanese merchants being rounded up and hauled in front of late night tribunals. She regretted that she and the other wives rarely saw their husbands. The ladies had gas, lights and water for the next day, but military officials cut off the water after reports that insurgents had poisoned the water supply.

Marjorie Hobbs returned to Atlanta three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She didn't want to come home and leave her husband behind. "I got my orders so here I am - and I am going to try to find some kind of war work to do as soon as I can," she told Celestine Sibley of the Atlanta Constitution.

Marjorie eventually returned to Dublin. She was a member of the John Laurens DAR, the Shamrock Garden Club and was the first president of the Dublin Service League. Bob Wilson made it home safely too. After retiring as a Warrant Officer from the Marine Corps, Bob owned and operated the Western Auto Store in town. He died in 1980. Marjorie Hobbs Wilson died on July 20, 2002 and is buried in Northview Cemetery in Dublin.

It was seventy years ago tomorrow when Marjorie Wilson woke up from a dream and witnessed that infamous day, the day the world changed forever.