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

Monday, January 30, 2012


The War Years

On this day in 1764 in the British colony of North Carolina was born a general. Although he was widely heralded as an Indian fighter and brigade commander of the War of 1812, General David Blackshear of Laurens County rarely led his men into battle. Blackshear had seen war all too closely, watching his oldest brother James being killed by Tories during the American Revolution. This is the story of General David Blackshear, the soldier, planter, surveyor, and public servant during the years of the War of 1812.

Known to many as "The Second American Revolution," the War of 1812 began with a declaration of war by President James Madison on June 18, 1812 following a ten-year series of skirmishes at frontier outposts, impressment of sailors on the seas, and blockades of shipping. It was on the 4th of July in 1812, some three dozen years after America first declared its independence from the King of England that soldiers of the Georgia militia rendezvoused in Dublin to launch an attack on British fortifications in Florida, which would not become part of the United States until six years later.

During its regular session, the Georgia legislature on December 9, 1812, appointed David Blackshear to command the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Division of the state's militia. Dr. William Lee commanded the first division.

Blackshear's first known call to duty came in early August 1813, when Georgia governor David Mitchell wrote the general to move his brigade to the frontier and adopt measures to afford some security for the fearing inhabitants. Gen. Blackshear ordered Lt. Col. Ezekiel Wimberly to immediately man three forts: Twiggs, Telfair, and Jackson along the line of the frontier, then the Ocmulgee River. Blackshear ordered Col. Allen Tooke of Pulaski County and Major Cawthorn of Telfair to immediately do the same.

The General set out on a patrol to inspect the forts and reported back to the Governor, "I found the inhabitants in a high state of alarm - an immense number of whom had left and fled to the interior." Blackshear immediately began preparations to lay out an additional ten forts along the frontier, each manned by one subaltern, a sergeant, a corporal and fifteen privates and each approximately ten miles equidistant.

My mid-September, Gen. Blackshear reported that all threats of an eminent invasion had subsided, at least for the present. By mid-November, tensions along the Ocmulgee once again began to rise. Major General David Adams ordered Blackshear to send some of his best men to join a force of 157 men and to go out to the frontier to make improvements to existing fortifications and erect new ones and to report his activities to Major James Patton at Fort Hawkins.

On January 4, 1814, the newly elected Georgia governor Peter Early, a former judge of Laurens County Superior Court, replaced the ailing General John Floyd with his old friend, David Blackshear to command the army from Georgia in the lower Flint River region. Blackshear reported that a great number of his men were sick and that he needed substantial reinforcements to aid his 700-man force in guarding his forts and supplies, not to mention the effort to drive away the hostile Indians, all the Negroes, and the British forces at the mouth of Flint River.

Two years after the war began, Gov. Early reappointed Gen. Blackshear to command a brigade of first class militia along with Gen. Floyd. (LEFT)  Blackshear responded, "Sir, I am at all times ready promptly to accept that or any other appointment you may think proper to confer on me in which it is in my power to serve my country."

Just as was the case in previous Septembers, tensions along the Georgia frontier began to explode. Blackshear ordered several units to move out from Hartford, opposite present day Hawkinsville. Adjutant General Daniel Newnan informed Blackshear that 2500 men would be needed to support General Andrew Jackson, then in the vicinity of Mobile. Several units from Blackshear's command were detached for that purpose.

Ten days before Christmas, Blackshear and his brigade received orders to move from their encampment at Camp Hope, two miles north of Fort Hawkins on the Milledgeville Road in present day Macon, to Hartford and then to open a road to the Flint River, where he was ordered to erect fortifications. No one in Georgia even realized that the war with Great Britain officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve while Blackshear and his men were camping on the banks of the Ocmulgee.

Blackshear's men spent Christmas at Camp Blakely, two miles from present day Hawkinsville before moving west toward his objective on the Flint River. Blackshear reported that he arrived on January 6 "without forage and not many rations on hand." Blackshear continued his march, oblivious to the fact that two days later, General Andrew Jackson's command defeated the British at the war ending Battle of New Orleans.

With no instant communications informing him that hostilities had officially ended, Blackshear marched his men, many of whom were sick, south and west from their Flint River base. On January 14, Blackshear received orders to return to Fort Hawkins. Within a week, Blackshear was back at Fort Hawkins, where he begged Farrish Carter, of Baldwin County, to furnish him with 30,000 badly needed rations. Blackshear implored, "Our country is invaded; and I hope in God you will use every exertion in your power to facilitate the movement of the troops to check the insurrection and depredation that will ensue should we delay for want of provisions."

Once resupplied, at least in part, Blackshear began cutting a road down the northeastern line of the Ocmulgee and Altamaha. His destination was Fort Barrington on the Altamaha in McIntosh County. Along his line of march, Blackshear's men cut the legendary "Blackshear Road."

Reports of British activity around St. Mary's were coming in from many sources. One of those sources was J. Sawyer, possibly Jonathan Sawyer the founding father of Dublin, who reported that the British were landing on Cumberland Island. Sawyer wrote Blackshear concerning British atrocities and their movement toward Darien.

By February 4, 1815, Blackshear reported that he was some 132 miles from Hartford or just a few miles from Fort Barrington. Upon his arrival in Darien, David Blackshear reported, "We have been in a constant state of alarm, and the principal inhabitants, remonstrating against my leaving this station."

Just as he was making plans to move toward the enemy, General Floyd wrote to Blackshear, "The official accounts of a peace having been concluded between our country and Great Britain appear to have filled the hearts of the populace here (Savannah) with joy." And, just like that it was over. After formally winding up their affairs, Blackshear's men were discharged and went back their homes in East Central Georgia.

Thus ended the middle and most widely heralded chapter in the epic life of General David Blackshear - soldier, statesman and citizen. Blackshear returned to his Springfield home in Laurens County, where he spent the last twenty two years of his life serving the people of Laurens County and Georgia.

Monday, January 23, 2012


A Champion of Journalism, A Leader of Men

Hal Stanley was born with newsprint on his hands, serving people in his heart, and printer's ink flowing through his veins. From a little boy to a fully grown man, Stanley lived and breathed the business of publishing newspapers. After reaching the pinnacle of his success as the leader of the Georgia Press Association, Stanley channeled his efforts into helping his fellow man on a larger scale. It was a mission he pursued all of his adult life. And, he did it with incorruptible dignity, unparalleled compassion, and unselfish conviction.

Harris McCall Stanley was born on June 6, 1866. His father, Captain Rollin A. Stanley, served as a Captain of the local militia company during the Civil War. Stanley descended from Thomas McCall, Georgia's first surveyor general and a highly acclaimed master winemaker of his day. As a young boy, Stanley received the best possible education in a time when even the wealthiest of families in the area could scarcely afford for their children to attend higher educational institutions.

As a young man, Hal Stanley showed a keen interest in the newspaper business. As a printer's devil with the Dublin Gazette, Stanley started out as the lowest of the low, mixing inks and handing type to the printer. As a menial grunt, Hal Stanley was in good company with some of the most famous writers of his day, printer's devils like Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Joel Chandler Harris. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were printer's devils too.

In fact, being in the newspaper business ran in the Stanley family. The elder Stanley brother, Ira L. Stanley began his newspaper career with the Dublin Gazette. He was one of the founders of the Dallas Evening Herald and other newspapers in Texas. Vivian Stanley started out in the newspaper business before becoming the postmaster of Dublin and finally serving several terms on the Georgia Prison Commission. Frank R. Stanley, the fourth of the Stanley brothers to work in the newspaper business, was the printer of the Gainesville News.

In the winter of 1890, Hal Stanley assumed the role as editor of the Dublin Gazette, Laurens County's first weekly newspaper. Hal Stanley was then about to marry Ethel Stubbs, daughter of Col. John M. Stubbs, who originally founded the Gazette in 1876. Hal was only twenty-three years old. Seven years later, Hal Stanley and brother Vivian joined to establish the Dublin Courier. In 1899, the Courier merged with the Dublin Dispatch to form the Courier Dispatch. In 1913, the Dublin Courier Dispatch merged with the Laurens County Herald to become the Dublin Courier-Herald, the first daily newspaper in Laurens County.

Stanley involved himself in the workings of the Georgia Press Association. He served as President of the organization from 1907 to 1909, after which he began a thirty-year reign as the association's executive secretary. For the last five years of his life, Stanley was honored with the title of Secretary Emeritus.

But Hal Stanley wasn't just a newspaper man. He was a public servant, philanthropist and military leader. Upon the organization of the Dublin Light Infantry in the early 1890s, Stanley was elected to a leadership role as lieutenant along the side of his brother-in-law, the popular five-term mayor of Dublin, Captain Lucien Q. Stubbs. In 1894, Gov. W.Y. Atkinson appointed Stanley to his personal staff. When Stanley moved from Dublin to Eastman, he joined the Eastman Guards, serving as the unit's captain. Before returning to Dublin, Stanley moved once again, that time to Savannah, where he served in the military departments of the port city.

Stanley, ingrained with the core belief that education was of upmost importance served on the Dublin City School Board for seven years, three of which were as its President. He was an initial member of the Carnegie Library Board and was influential in the effort to secure complete funding from industrial magnate and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

As was the usual course of the day for erudite gentlemen, Stanley was active in many fraternal organizations. His fraternity of choice was the Knights of Phythias, in which he served in nearly every capacity including Grand Prelate and Grand Chancellor of Georgia (1914-1915). Stanley also proudly proclaimed membership in the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Improved Order of Red Men.

Perhaps Harris McCall Stanley's most important contribution of a lasting legacy to the State of Georgia was his election as Georgia's first Commissioner of Commerce and Labor. Stanley was elected in a special election on January 10, 1912 by a wide margin. It was the first time that a native of Laurens County was elected to serve in a state wide office. That honor has gone to two other men, Agricultural Commissioner Thomas Linder and Vivian L. Stanley, Hal Stanley's younger brother, who was appointed to fill out an unexpired term on the Prison Commission in 1928 and was reelected by a popular vote in 1934. From 1934 to 1937, when Hal Stanley completed his twenty four-year term in office, the Stanley brothers were the only brothers in the history of Georgia to serve in statewide elected offices at the same time. Mr. Stanley served in several positions in state and federal government, including the positions of fertilizer and oil inspector. In World War I, Stanley aided the war effort by serving as the head of the Georgia Division, United States Employment Service for the ceremonial salary of one dollar per year.

Hal Stanley took his role as the state's first Commissioner of Commerce and Labor seriously, very seriously. Stanley sought to rid the state of unconscionable child labor practices, except on the farms. Commissioner Stanley rationalized, "Labor on the farm, even by children of tender years, cannot be of harm. Work on the farm in general is not objectionable and is conducive to health and strength."

One of the biggest "hot button" issues of the year 1914 was the issue of censorship of movies. Stanley joined the movement to remove sex from the silent movies of his day. "Motion pictures have gone from bad to worse. They are becoming more coarse and more vulgar every year," Stanley proclaimed as he commented on the growing nausea among many movie goers.

Hal Stanley used his position as a platform to promote compulsory education laws and the establishment of vocational schools on the state level after Congressman Dudley Hughes, of Twiggs County, and Georgia's U.S. Senator Hoke Smith pushed a national bill through Congress in 1917.

After his retirement from public office, Hal Stanley served as Chairman as the Industrial Board of Georgia. In his lifetime, Harris McCall Stanley received many honors. In 1931, he joined Henry Grady, Clark Howell, and W.T. Anderson as inaugural members of the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame, preceding Ernest Camp, Ernest Rogers, and Madge Hilbun Methvin as Laurens County's members of the elite group of newspaper journalists.

Harris McCall Stanley died on April 25, 1944 in his last hometown of Decatur, Georgia. Stanley's contributions to his native Laurens County and to his native Georgia were beyond outstanding. Stanley seemed to keep politics out of his focus, and focused instead on what was best for the citizens of our state.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


MAN'S BEST FRIEND? On the night of June 5, 1900, one of the legendary and more amusing events in the history of Dublin City Government occurred. Just as Alderman J.D. Smith took his seat in the old wooden city council building during the reading of the minutes, the agenda suddenly shifted. A dog, bothered by fleas, entered the room and begin to scratch his itch. Each scratch was accompanied by a pat of the dog's tail on the wooden floor. As the intensity of the pats grew so did the irritation of the council and those present. Suddenly, Alderman Henry M. Kirke noticed that the dog was mad. Mr. Kirke and reporter C.C. Smith made it out the door near where they were standing. The usually erudite Col. James B. Sanders made a dash for the door but was cut off by the dog. Col. Sanders retreated and then climbed on a table and jumped up clinging to the railing. He pulled himself up and then proceeded to jump from a second story window. The power house superintendent then decided his services were needed at the power house and slipped by the dog. Mayor James B. Hicks and Clerk, A.R. Arnau found secure positions which they tentatively held. In an act of near-perfect unison the remaining councilmen climbed on top of tables and chairs. Finally someone yelled "Shoot him!" Before anyone could get a shot off, the fleas decided to rest. The dog's pain ceased and he was easily led from the hall. Undoubtedly a short recess followed.

THE COUNTY FISH POND - Two months had passed since the destruction of the old Laurens County Courthouse. The winter rains had filled a large hole which was left when the old courthouse was torn down. The small pond became somewhat of a joke around town. J.H. Perry Company was hired by the contractor to pump out the rain water. As the last of the water was being sucked up, the workmen found a number of catfish of various sizes flapping in the mud. Judging from the size of the fish, they had to have been put in the hole by a practical joker. The mystery of the identity of the pranksters went unsolved for thirty-four years until I read about the stunt in a 1963 newspaper. I immediately had my suspicions. It seems that Mrs. R.A. Register, wife of Commissioner R.A. Register, and Mrs. A.O. Hadden, wife of Clerk A.O. Hadden, loved to fish for catfish. While the two couples were out of town, two county officials slipped a dozen or so live catfish in the pond. The two jokers were Clerk Brantley New and County Attorney Dale Thompson. 5/2/, 5/3/1963

WHO DOESN'T WANT TO BE TAX COMMISSIONER - In the fall of 1962 following the resignation of Laurens County's tax commissioner, one of the most unusual and interesting county elections in Georgia history happened in Laurens County. The qualifying fee wasn't that much so people began to qualify for the vacancy in the tax office, first one, then another. At the end of qualifying twenty-eight men and one woman put their hats into the ring in the special election. They came from all parts of the county and all walks of life. Those running for office included: Marvin Ashley, Dewey Bedingfield, Ralph Bedingfield, Ralph Bostick, Rev. S.M. Dominy, Jack Fausett, Skeet Fordham, Bob Garrard, Hank Geeslin, John Gilbert, Eugene Harrelson, Bobby G. Hester, Calhoun Hogan, Trammel Keen, Sr., A.B. Lee, Russell T. Lord, Linton Malone, Hubert Martin, R.A. Morgan, Bush Perry, Joe Radney, Grable Ricks, Jr., C. Manly Smith, O.T. Tarpley, L.L. Thigpen, Earl Wilkes, Mary Martin Willis, and Bill Young. The flood of candidates so amused the local politicos that county attorney Dale Thompson and Superior Court Clerk Brantley New, (the same pranksters who put the catfish in the courthouse pond) had paper tags printed with the following message: "Sorry, I'm a candidate for tax commissioner. I qualified too. Work on somebody else." Bob Garrard won the election with O.T. Tarpley coming in second. The last laugh went to the owners of the Courier Herald and the printing companies who printed more ads and cards in the one special election than in many general elections. Dublin Courier Herald, Oct. 4, 1962.

STARVING ACTOR - In the early Fifties, a young actor in his mid twenties toured the United States with his wife. He was a son of one of Ziegfield's Beauties. The couple performed dramatic scenes from Mark Twain, Hamlet, McBeth, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. When the actor's wife became pregnant she was replaced by actress Lee Firestone. The new team was engaged by the Laurens County Concert Association to perform their dramatic scenes at the Central Elementary Auditorium (now City Hall) on January 17, 1952. The new acting team was known as Holbrook and Firestone. The young actor went on to fame in television and the movies. His portrayal of Mark Twain was universally recognized as one of the best in television history. The young actor was, of course, Hal Holbrook. "Dublin Courier Herald, January 14, 1952"

VIETNAM ADVISOR WINS MEDAL - Claud P. Ragan, a former school student in Dublin, left this area when his father, Claud P. Ragan, went to Washington, D.C., as Chief Clerk of the Commission on Insular and Territorial Affairs. The young Ragan attended Georgetown University and obtained his degree from George Washington University. Lt. Ragan served in Vietnam from April 12, 1963 to April 9, 1964 as an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy's 22nd River Assault Group. President Lyndon Johnson awarded the Bronze Star to Ragan for outstanding courage, leadership, and professional skill in the face of hostile fire during 13 combat operations against the Viet Cong. Despite Ragan's absence, he and his mother still maintained their family farm between Dublin and Rentz. Dublin Courier Herald, January 22, 1965.

THESE IRISH LINKSTERS WERE CHAMPIONS, TOO - The Dublin Irish football and basketball teams under Minton Williams dominated their regions and classes for most of the early 60s. Lost in the excitement was the Dublin High golfers during the period from 1962 to 1965. In their first year of competition in 1961, Coach Williams's foursome finished third in its region. During the second year Ritchie Cummings, state AA medalist, led the Irish to the state crown. Playing with Cummings were Spec Hall, Robert Swinson, and Tom Perry. In 1963, with Swinson out of commission, the team finished seventh in the state. Playing on that team was Robbie Hahn, Tom Perry, Spec Hall, and Boyd Anderson. In 1964, the Irish came from behind, making up 11 strokes in the last nine holes to tie Lovett High School. On the first hole of the playoff, the Dublin boys blew the Lovett boys off the course, capturing their second championship. The Irish foursome, under the leadership of Coach Marvin Tarpley and led by Swinson and Hall, saved their best for their last match. In the 1965 final round, Swinson won the medalist honors with a five-under-par 67. Spec Hall, Robert Brown, and Robert Dunn shot good rounds, leading the Irish to a total score of 294, a school record at the time. Swinson and Hall finished their careers with three state championships. Swinson, known to his friends as "Rabbitt," was named the Middle Georgia Prep Golfer of the Year by The Macon News. Swinson set a course record with a 69 and led the first two rounds of the All American Junior Tournament in Fort Myers, Florida in 1965, before losing in the final round. Dublin Courier Herald, May 11, 1965, June 22, 1965, June 28, 1965.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The Beginning of a Tradition

People began going to college in East Central Georgia one hundred and twenty years ago today. And, they are still going to colleges in places like Dublin, Swainsboro, Eastman, Sandersville, Mt. Vernon/Ailey, and Cochran, where the first college in the area opened its doors on January 10, 1887.

The leading men of the Ebenezer Baptist Association saw the need for a junior college to serve the needs of the growing areas of Laurens, Telfair, Dodge and Pulaski counties. Each county was asked to submit a proposal. Both Eastman and Cochran shared the same railroad, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad. Laurens County did not have a railroad in place in the beginning of 1886. Railroads were critical to the development of a community. And, at the time, it appeared that Dublin and Laurens County, which did not submit a bid, appeared to be not as progressive. As it turned, things would change. Laurens County became a regional center of economic, business and cultural activity. Dodge prospered during the era of mass production of timber and cotton. Pulaski lost a substantial part of its northeastern territory to a new county, Bleckley in 1912. And, it was in the future county seat of Cochran, where the association decided to establish a college, which would be called New Ebenezer College.

John T. Rogers, of Reedy Springs Baptist Church in Laurens County, joined Jonathan Knowles, Charles Parker and J.G. Wright in forming an exploratory committee to begin preparations for the funding of the project and the acquisition of sufficient lands. Doctors P.A. Jessup and T.D. Walker, Sr. got on board and convinced P.L. Peacock and J.E. O’Berry of Cochran to donate the land for the thirteen-acre, ten thousand-dollar facility.

The association appointed P.L. Peacock, T.D. Walker, Sam Mayer, W.J. Mullis, and J.G. Wright to head the building committee. The committee chose Michael O’Brien, of Hawkinsville, who based the school’s design on one of his favorite colleges in Ireland. E.B. Parker, J.G. Wright, John T. Rogers, M.L. Burch, T.D. Walker, and Jonathan Noles were selected to serve as the school’s first Board of Trustees.

The cornerstone laying ceremony was held on July 22, 1886 under the auspices of the local Masonic Lodge. J. Emmett Blackshear, the lodge’s Worshipful Master, presided over the grand observance.

One hundred and twenty five years ago today on January 10, 1887, the doors of New Ebenezer College opened its doors to approximately one hundred students in a hall across the street from the First Baptist Church of Cochran. Palemon J. King presided over the new school. Professor King, a large and powerfully built man, was already a well-respected school leader from Shelby, North Carolina and would gain wide recognition in Rome, Georgia. King, a graduate of Mercer and a former soldier in the Confederate army, came highly recommend by school officials in Cave Springs and Shorter College.

Within a few months, the students moved into the first permanent building on campus, a two-story structure.

Initial tuition rates that first semester were $2.00 per month for primary courses, $3.00 per month intermediate classes, $4.00 per month for music classes and $5.00 per month for college classes per month. By the way, it would cost you the mere pittance of $12.00 per month to board in the house with the principal.

The college’s curriculum included mathematics, history, Latin, Greek, elocution and English as well as courses in vocal and instrumental music. Eventually courses in art, business and military science were offered. Captain Isaac E. Neff took charge of the military school and established what was called the “Broom Brigade,” who dressed in bright and colorful Zouave uniforms.

College officials guaranteed that each boy and girl who attended would be thoroughly prepared for the best colleges and universities.

Perhaps the college’s most well known professor was Lucy Mae Stanton, who taught art during the 1893-1894 term. Stanton was one of Georgia’s most widely heralded female artists of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

J.M. King succeeded Palemon J. King in 1888. Other principals of the college during its eleven-year history were: W.B. Seals (90-93,) E.M. Turner (93-96,) A.M. Duggan (96-97,) and finally W.E. Jenkins (97-98).

Former graduate and long time Cochran attorney, Lucian A. Whipple, Sr. once hailed New Ebenezer College as a “beacon light” for that section of thee state. Whipple maintained that the college contributed greatly to the economic development of the region between Macon to Brunswick, where there were few if any high schools.

By the mid 1890s, the association’s support for Ebenezer College began to wane. In an election to provide local funding, Cochran residents voted down the measure to support, “The Pride of Cochran.”

When the New Ebenezer College closed, the facilities were taken over by the Cochran school system, with Dr. Jessup and Dr. Walker, two of the school’s most ardent boosters, joining others in taking over the college’s outstanding debt. After nearly twenty years, Cochran High School moved to a new location and once again, the school buildings were abandoned.

During the years of World War I, both Cochran and Dublin competed for the location of the newly created 12th Congressional District Agricultural and Mechanical School. Despite the greater resources in Dublin, Cochran was awarded the location of school, which opened on the first Monday in October 1919.

After only eight years of operation, the Georgia Legislature adopted a law which changed the name of the school to Middle Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Two years later, the name was shortened to Middle Georgia College.

So, now you know a little history of the tradition of the one time Baptist school which evolved into one of our areas most important resources. And, it all began, one hundred and twenty five years ago today.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


The Pilot's Pilot

Bud Barron loved to fly in the skies. He flew toward the heavens for more than fifty years. When he saw his first plane at a Macon fair when he was a child, Bud knew that someday he wanted to fly. The Dublin pilot flew his plane for nearly forty thousand hours over the fields of Central Georgia, across the rivers, plains and mountains of America, and over the oceans of the Earth. It was seventy years ago when Winton Hill Barron, "Bud" to his friends, began his journey toward becoming a military pilot. And, it was thirty four years ago, when the citizens of Laurens County, Georgia named their airport after the man they called, "The Pilot's Pilot."

Bud Barron was born in Johnson County, Georgia on December 21, 1906 to his parents William H. Barron and Eliza Moye Barron. The family moved to Sandersville and after World War I, back to Lovett in northwestern Laurens County. Barron's father operated a grocery store in Lovett and Dublin. In 1930, Bud Barron was listed in the census as a café owner.

Bud Barron began to fly airplanes in 1928, soon after he took his first plane ride. "It cost me $40.00 for me and my date to go up. It was worth every bit of it," he recalled. It was during the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s when many young men and boys in Laurens County were captivated by the thrill and allure of flying airplanes.

Interestingly, living next door to the Barrons in their Washington Street home was Clay F. Bell. Clay Bell began flying at the age of 16. During World War II, he served as a bombardier in the 483rd bombardment group.

Bud bought his first plane, a Curtis Junior, in South Georgia. Of that plane, Barron once said, "My first plane a three-cylinder engine mounted on top of the wing with the propeller above the body behind the wing." Barron described his aircraft as "a piece of junk" which he restored with chicken wire, orange crates, and bed sheets. He flew along the highways back to Dublin to keep from getting lost.

"It finally wound up in the top of a big tree with my partner in it," Barron said. "It cut off both of his heels," he added during an interview as he reflected on his life in the air.  Barron considered himself and other like him as daredevils. "You just fix up a piece of junk and fly it," Bud fondly remembered.

In fact, Barron taught himself how to fly, according to Reed Salley, a lifelong friend. To pay his bills, Barron barnstormed all over southern Georgia giving plane rides for a nominal and paltry fee. After eight years of flying, Barron obtained a pilot's license when it became mandatory in 1936.

It was on the last day of 1941, some three weeks after the beginning of World War II, when Bud Barron received a telegram acknowledging his acceptance into the Army Air Force Ferry Command at Nashville, Tennessee.

Barron quickly moved up the line as an officer. After completing a seven-week course in St. Joseph, Missouri, he rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. By the end of 1943, Barron was promoted to Captain. The Captain was lauded by a St. Joseph's newspaper when he brought down a cargo plane on a runway without lights and with only minor damage to the aircraft.

Bud Barron was what they used to call a "ferry pilot." It was his mission to transport bombers, cargo planes and fighter planes from the United States to points around the world. Within his first year, Barron flew across the South Atlantic Ocean 8 times, the North Atlantic Ocean 7 times and across the Pacific Ocean twice. When he wasn't flying new or repaired planes, Barron flew troops to their new assignments and back home.
Businessman Ed Herrin said of Barron, "He flew just about every kind of airplane used by the United States during World War II."

Barron continued to serve his country as a commander of the Air Force Reserve squadron at Robins Air Force base, retiring in 1959 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
When Barron returned home after the war, he obtained a lease for a portion of the old Naval airport. Barron, in 1948, established the Georgia Aviation School, the first crop-dusting aviation school in the State of Georgia. Barron saw his business as an integral part of the agricultural community. "I've dusted thousands and thousands of acres. We are as much a part of farming nowadays as tractors," he maintained.

Barron added hangars and other buildings and transformed the remnants of the old naval airport into a first-class facility, so much so that Ed Herrin said, "Dublin became a favorite stopping place for pilots flying from the east coast to Florida."
Any pilot has many stories. He spoke of the time when he crashed his plane while piloting revenue agents, who were looking for liquor stills in the North Georgia mountains or the days when he flew Georgia governor Lester Maddox across the state during campaign events.

Barron died on August 17, 1981. In his fifty years as a pilot, Barron flew in the skies for at least four full years. Of his love of flying, Barron was often quoted as saying, "Once it bites you, it's worse than any disease." Despite his retirement and his long battle with cancer, Barron vowed to keep flying. "You get up there, flying around those big cumulus clouds, going in one side and coming out the other and you're all alone, there's nothing else like it." Barron said in one of his last interviews.

Winton Hill "Bud" Barron was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame on April 29, 2000. His contributions to aviation in Dublin and to the war effort of the United States during World War II will last into the next century. The people of Laurens County honored Bud Barron upon his retirement with the naming of the Laurens County Airport, which officially opened as the "W.H. 'Bud' Barron Airport" on January 3, 1978, thirty-four years ago today.