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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UNFATHOMED

THE ROZAR BROTHERS


Pioneers On A Submarine

When Leonard and Albert Rozar spent the days of their youth working on their father's farm in the Burgamy District of northwestern Laurens County, they never dreamed that they would spend decades serving as stewards and mess attendants aboard submarines and in other positions in the United States Navy.

The Rozars grew up in a time when the number of black sailors serving aboard sailing ships was systematically restricted and when the number of black submariners was even more limited. All of that began to change in the years leading up to the beginning of World War II.

It was in those days before modern, nuclear powered submarines patrolled the waters of the oceans of the world when these two Laurens County brothers, "Big Rozar" and "Little Rozar" became pioneers of sorts. The Rozars set the standard for longevity of a duo of brothers with each serving for three decades in the United States Navy.

In his definitive work, Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940-1975, Glynn A. Knoblock interviewed scores of African-American sailors who served aboard submarines. Two of those sailors whom Knoblock interviewed were Leonard and Albert Rozar, of Laurens County, Georgia.

Leonard Cicero Rozar, (LEFT) the second son of Monroe Griffin Rozar and Mattie Rozar, was born on the second day of July 1917. After the fall crop of 1939 was harvested and the winds of war began to howl out of Europe, Leonard Rozar traveled to Macon in the week after Thanksgiving to enlist in the Navy of the United States. Rozar was quoted as saying "No army for me. I'd heard devious things about them."

Rozar reported for duty at Norfolk. After undergoing the usual military training exercises, Leonard was assigned to duty as Mess Attendant, Third Class. Black sailors had historically been relegated to menial duty as cooks, stewards, and laundrymen for the crew and officers aboard submarines. Nearly all of the other submarine crewmen were white. Ironically by serving in close quarters with other stewards and white crewmen, these cooks and servants developed closer bonds with their crew mates.

Rozar left for duty in Pearl Harbor on the day after Easter in 1940. His first assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Plunger and later the U.S.S. Pollack, on which he served for the remainder of the year. Rozar joined, as a Mess Attendant 1st Class, the crew of the newly commissioned, U.S.S. Tuna, on the second day of 1941. A year later, the Tuna set out for Pearl Harbor, a month after the Japanese attack on the island base. Rozar's boat set out to patrol the waters of the East China Sea until it was assigned to the waters around New Guinea later in the year, 1942.

"I was a qualified sound man aboard (the Tuna), and my battle station was in the forward battery. I was on the standby sound gear, and also in the control room, ready to pull the demolition plug if needed," Rozar recalled.

Just days before Christmas, Leonard transferred to the U.S.S. Saury, on which he would serve until the last day of 1944. During his two years aboard the Saury, the sub saw little action except bad weather and broken equipment. Rozar recalled that he enjoyed being aboard the Saury. It was years later when he discovered that fellow Steward's Mate 1st Class, William Henry Cosby, was the father of actor Bill Cosby.

Rozar was promoted to Steward First Class and transferred to the U.S.S. Sailfish, which basically sat out the rest of the war in the Pacific, working instead as a training boat off the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Over the remainder of his 30-year career, Leonard Rozar served aboard the Sailfish, the Flying Fish, and the Chopper, before moving to New London, Connecticut in 1962. Rozar ended his career by serving as a Chief in Athens, Georgia, not far from home, and finally with a 20-month tour aboard the Cruiser Little Rock, an assignment which he did not care to have. In 1969, after three decades in the United States Navy, Leonard Rozar retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer, the second highest enlisted grade in the Navy.

Leonard Cicero Rozar died on March 31, 2008 in San Diego, California.

Albert Rozar, (LEFT) the third son of Monroe Griffin and Mattie Rozar, was born in 1919. A highly gifted athlete in high school, Albert followed in his brother's footsteps when he joined the Navy on August 14, 1941. After attending boot camp at Norfolk and machine gun school at Mare Island, Albert Rozar reported for duty at Pearl Harbor. On December 11, 1941, as a late addition to the crew of the U.S.S. Gudgeon, Albert Rozar rode aboard the boat in the first war patrol of a U.S. submarine in World War II.

A transfer to the Pargo gave Albert Rozar more opportunities to come out of the galley for duty as telephone operator in the forward battery and when on the deck, the opportunity to man the 40mm guns. On his first patrol aboard the Pargo in the late fall of 1943, Rozar's boat was a part of only the second wolfpack operation by U.S. submarines. He remained aboard the Pargo, which sunk six ships, until the fall of 1944.

After leaving the Pargo, Albert Rozar was assigned to the staff of Commodore Charles "Weary" Wilkins on Midway. When the war was over, Albert was transferred to New London, Connecticut. In 1946, Albert reported for duty aboard the U.S.S. Segundo. Another year meant another assignment. In 1947, Rozar served aboard the U.S.S. Greenfish, which was one of the first submarines to receive personnel via helicopter from an aircraft carrier.

During the 1950s, Albert served aboard the Cobbler, the Shark, and the Orion. He equaled his brother's tenure in 1971, retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer.

The careers of Leonard and Albert Rozar spanned five different decades, three wars, and totaled sixty years of service in the United States Navy. They saw the roles of African-American sailors aboard submarines go from mess attendants and stewards aboard untested, relatively primitive submarines to respected positions as Senior Chief Petty officers and commissioned officers in the modern nuclear navy.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

QUINCY TROUPPE

MISSED CHANCES AND BROKEN DREAMS




When he was 12, Quincy Trouppe used to hang out on Compton and Market Streets in St. Louis. He dreamed about the lucky days when he would race down the street and snatch up a ball flying out of Stars Park, where the St. Louis Stars of the old Negro leagues played. He redeemed those balls for tickets into the stadium to see his heroes play. It was his dream that one day he would be on that very diamond and other diamonds like it around the country. More than twenty years would elapse before black men would be allowed to play Major League Baseball. And, Quincy Trouppe was one of the first.



It was in the fading twilight of his illustrious baseball career that this Dublin man rose to the top of the game as the first African American catcher in the American League. But, all too soon, his life long dream turned into a disheartening nightmare when he was rejected by the game he loved so much.



Quincy Trouppe was born on December 25, 1912 in Dublin, Georgia. His family moved to St. Louis, Missouri before he reached the age of ten. At the age of 18, Quincy Trouppe realized his dream and began his professional baseball career with the St. Louis Stars in 1931. Over the next twenty seasons, Trouppe starred with the Homestead Grays, Kansas City Monarchs, and the Cleveland Buckeyes as well as a host of other teams in his eight seasons in the Mexican League.



Trouppe starred for the West team in five all-star games, four as a catcher from 1945 through 48. He managed the Buckeyes to Negro American League titles in 1945 and 1947 and one World Championship in 1945. After the 1936 season, Trouppe took off a year from baseball to box, having won a major heavyweight tournament title in 1936.



It was in October 1951 after returning from Mexico when Quincey got a call, one which would change his life forever, or so he thought. A bellboy in a hotel lobby in Caracas, Venezuela called Trouppe to the phone. On the other end of the line was Hank Greenberg, a former Detroit Tiger home run champion and a future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Greenberg, a member of the front office of the Cleveland Indians, invited Quincy, who had another outstanding season in the Winter Leagues, to attend training camp with the Indians in the spring of 1952, sixty years ago this month.



"I was out of words," Quincy recalled in his autobiography, Twenty Years Too Soon. Greenberg offered Trouppe a minor league contract in Indianapolis But with the surprise proposal came an opportunity to make the big league team. It was the chance that Quincy Trouppe had been waiting for twenty years.



Excited to be in the big leagues, Quincy considered that he was in his best shape in many years. "No one who has ever broken into organized ball could have felt better than I did when I inked my name to that new Cleveland Indians contract," Trouppe wrote a quarter of a century later.



During spring training, Trouppe caught every third game and outhit the other two catchers, two to one. "I caught Early Wynn," a Hall of Fame pitcher, "for seventeen straight scoreless innings," he recalled. Trouppe also caught Hall of Famers, Bob Lemon and Bob Feller. Feller was considered as one of the greatest right-handed pitchers in baseball history.



In 1952, during the sunset of his career, Feller was beginning to struggle. Trouppe suggested to Indian fast baller that he develop a good change up and mix up his pitches. "I suggested this to Bob, and he pitched a shut out," said Trouppe, who never forgot the next day when Feller came up to him before the next game and said, "Quincy, you called a very good game yesterday. You used excellent judgment on the hitters, and you also knew how to use my most effective pitch. Keep up the good work."



It was on the last day of April 1952 at Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics, when Quincy, wearing number 16 on the back of his gray flannel road uniform, played in his first game. At the age of 39 years, four months and five days, Quincey Trouppe became one of the oldest rookies in the history of baseball, a mark surpassed only by a scant few other older former Negro League stars.



Three days later at Griffith Stadium on a cool mid-spring Saturday in Washington, D.C., Quincy was catching when Indian manager Al Lopez, also a member of the Hall of Fame, called to the bullpen and signaled for Sam "Toothpick" Jones, Quincy's old Cleveland Buckeye teammate to come in to pitch in relief. Jones came into the game with one out trying to hold the Senators to a 5-4 lead.  (Left-Trouppe-Jones)



Whether anyone among the 10,257 paid fans in the crowd noticed it or not, with Jones' first pitch to Senator's outfielder, Sam Mele, Quincy Trouppe and Sam Jones became the first black battery in American League history. The historic event seemingly went unnoticed in the sports pages across the country. Several years earlier, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League, became the first black battery in Major League history.



The American League record book was amended when the Indians tied an American League record when they used twenty-three players in a nine-inning game. After the game, Mele, who would pilot the Minnesota Twins to the 1965 American League Championship, was traded to the Chicago White Sox.



Trouppe was used sparingly, catching behind veteran Birdie Tebbetts, some six weeks older than Quincy and the decade younger catcher, Jim Hegan.



May 10, 1952 was a bittersweet day for Quincy Trouppe. For the first time in his major league career, Quincy Trouppe was a starting catcher in the major leagues. To make the game sweeter, Trouppe was playing against the Browns from his home in St. Louis. Early Wynn was pitching for the Indians, Tommy Byrne, a former Yankee star pitcher, for the visiting Browns.



Quincy came up to bat in the bottom of the third inning. He stroked his first Major League hit, a solid single to left, and scored his first major league run on Bobby Avila's single. It would be his last major league hit and his last major league run. It would be his last game in the major leagues.



In his ten-game stint with the Indians, Quincy, who got few opportunities to hit, posted a dismal .100 batting average, well below his .280 plus career average. Behind the plate, Quincy was as effective as ever, handling 25 chances without a single error and leaving the game of with a perfect major league fielding percentage.



While Quincy was working out the next day, he got a message to report to Greenberg in Manager Lopez's office. The news wasn't good. He was being demoted down to the farm team in Indianapolis. "This hit with such a force that I was speechless for a few minutes," Trouppe remembered. The veteran catcher spoke up in his defense that he felt he was being mistreated. Greenberg merely responded that the Indians felt that with him, they had no record to go on.



Quincy Trouppe became even more upset. During his 21 seasons in professional baseball, Trouppe had proven that he was one of the best catchers in Negro League history. He possessed a proven record of working with younger players and the game's greatest players as well.



Trouppe had caught some of the greatest pitchers in the game, including the legendary Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean. He was once a roommate of Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin. Quincy played with and against many of the greatest players in the Negro League and baseball, period. His National League counterpart, Roy Campanella, had recommended him to the Indians.



Quincy Trouppe finished his career in Indianapolis before returning to St. Louis for a new life with his new wife, Myralin. Before the beginning of the 1953 season, the St. Louis Cardinals hired Quincy as a scout. Trouppe scoured the country for the best and most promising players.



Very quickly, he identified two outstanding young hitters and fielders. He began talking to the youngsters about signing with his team. Both were amenable and agreed to sign. But, when Trouppe presented his recommendations to the Cards' management, he was told not to offer the young men any contracts. The two men signed with other teams, one with Pittsburgh and the other with the Cubs. They were Roberto Clemente and Ernie Banks, two of the game's all time greatest players.



So you see this former Dublin man, who many regard as one of the best catchers in the history of the Negro Leagues, was denied the chance he so richly deserved. Nor was he ever praised by his team for his best two scouting recommendations, ones which were systematically rejected by his supervisors.



Despite the broken dreams and the missed opportunities, it was in the old days, his days, during the Golden Age of Baseball, when Quincey Trouppe, of Dublin, Georgia, was a shining star in a heaven of baseball greats.

Monday, February 13, 2012

THE WEDDINGS OF THE CENTURY



They weren't exactly the weddings of the century, no one or two weddings are except to the couples themselves. But, when Dena Baum married Emanuel Dreyer and her sister, Blanche Alexandria Baum, took the hand of Junius Schiff in marriage, they were the largest weddings ever held in Laurens County. On this Valentine's Day, let's turn back the clock more than a century of ago and took a look at what truly glamorous weddings used to be about.

Dena Baum was the first of the daughters of Napoleon Bonaparte Baum and Louise Kohn Baum to get married in Dublin. Being of the Jewish faith, there were no synagogues in Dublin for the Baum girls to get married in. Misses Baum chose the secular venue of the Laurens County Courthouse. The brides' father was one of the city's leading merchants and public-spirited citizens at the turn of the 20th Century. Their mother was a Washington, D.C. socialite of sorts. Her father, Phillip Kohn, was once the architect of the Capitol. Mrs. Baum was in attendance at Ford's Theater on the night when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

It was a warm night on the 7th of January in 1903. Nearly 800 guests from around the city and around the state were filing into the courthouse hoping to get a good seat in the crowded courtroom. For the first time in the history of the county a couple would be married according to the rites of the Jewish religion. Newspaper writers billed it as "the largest ever witnessed in this section of Georgia."

The courtroom was elegantly decorated with evergreen and flowers as to disguise the normal use of the auditorium. A canopy, draped with sheer white cloth and bamboo vines, was erected in front of the judge's bench.

To get the guests into the mood, Professor Carl Leake led his orchestra featuring musical selections from the opera, "Martha." Mrs. T.H. Smith, Mrs. Carl Leake, S.M. Gibson and C.H. Kittrell sang the wedding march as the bridal party approached Rabbi Isaac C. Marcuson and the groom, Emanuel Dreyer, the junior partner of the successful retail grocery firm of Brandon and Dreyer, and his best man, Morriel Elkins.

Dena's younger sisters, Jeanette and Helen, served as ribbon girls. Adeline Baum, the maid of honor, preceded the bride and their father down the aisle to join the ushers dressed in tuxedos and the attendants, beautifully attired in satin dresses.

The beautiful and impressive, yet longer than usual ceremony, lasted well into the late hours of the evening. After the nuptials, the couple, the wedding party and their guests walked across the courthouse lawn to the Baum house on the northeast corner of the square.

After a wonderful honeymoon in Florida, the Dreyers returned to Dublin, all the more wealthy than when they left. With hundreds of gifts in hand along with a reported thousand dollars in gold, the Dreyers were ready to begin their dream life.

A more traditional June wedding took place at the courthouse on June 12, 1907. It was a perfect late spring day with fair skies and an ideal room temperature at 9:00 in the evening. Once again, there was an overflow crowd of friends and family pressed into the Laurens County courtroom. This time, the groom, Junius Schiff, was not as well known, but was fortuitously brought to Dublin to take a position as the floor manager of the Sam Weischelbaum Company, in which the Baum family held an interest.

Blanche Baum Schiff  (above left).

Following the plans of her sister's wedding, an orchestra of family friends were on hand to play as the bridal party came down the aisle. For all of you wedding planners, a reporter described the auditorium, "From the door to the altar was laid with white crash cloth. A profusion of cut flowers, palms, ferns and pot plants was used in the decoration. The stand in back of the altar was draped with white ribbon and ferns, and on each were suspended the letter 'B' and 'S." Between the letters was a large heart made of ferns and cut flowers. Two large arches spanned the entrance. These were draped with white ribbon and ferns. From the altar was suspended a canopy studded with lights and draped with white ribbon and cut flowers. From this canopy over the bride and groom was suspended a large bell made of red and white roses.

Just as she had before, sister Adeline Baum, gowned in a lace robe and who would never marry herself, served as the maid of honor. Leo Weiss was the groom's best man. The groomsmen wore continental evening suits, while the bride's maids wore white lingerie chiffon dresses and carried white flowers.

After Rabbi David Marx of Atlanta presented the newlyweds, they walked out of the auditorium to the traditional Mendelssohn's Wedding March. Following the ceremony, another lavish reception was held in the Baum home across the square.

And just like it was before, wedding gifts filled the Baum residence. There was enough cut glass, dishes, silverware and serving pieces to entertain party guests for a lifetime. The Schiff's left her home at 2:00 in the morning to catch an afternoon train from Tennille to Savannah. The couple traveled to Norfolk, Virginia where they saw the sights around Old Point Comfort, Hampton, and Portsmouth. They left the Old Dominion and traveled to New York City, where after a short visit, traveled up the Hudson River to Niagra Falls, a common honeymoon destination of the day and in Dena's words, "the prettiest sight we saw." On their return home, the Schiffs toured Philadelphia, Washington and visited with the groom's parents in Atlanta before returning home after their twenty-five-day honeymoon tour. They would enjoy a marriage of fifty-five years.

Junius Schiff  (above left) died on February 17, 1963. Blanche died on May 12, 1972. Tragically, Emanuel Dreyer took his own life on May 29, 1923. Dena died on March 15, 1947. They are buried in the family plot in Section W of Northview Cemetery in Dublin.

Over the last century, weddings have changed dramatically. In some cases, they haven't changed at all. So, on this Valentine's Day, let me wish a happy life to all of those who love and who are loved by someone. Treasure all the days you have after you say your vows. In the case of the Baum sisters, one marriage lasted a lifetime while the other was tragically cut short.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

ALEXANDER STEPHENS, THE LITTLELEST GIANT

For forty years in the middle of the 19th Century in Georgia, Alexander Hamilton Stephens towered over most of his political colleagues in the Empire State of the South. Weighing between ninety and a hundred pounds, the frequently frail, regularly sickly, five-foot, seven-inch-tall leviathan served more terms than any other Georgian in the Congress during the 1800s. Although a proponent of slavery, Stephens fought hard to keep his native state in the Union. When all of his efforts failed, Alexander Stephens, Laurens County's first Congressman, accepted the nomination as Vice-President of the Confederate States of America.

Alexander Stephens was born on February 11, 1812 near the town of Crawfordville in Taliaferro County, Georgia to his parents Andrew Stephens and Margaret Grier Stephens. After losing his mother as an infant, Alex suffered the loss of both his father and stepmother in 1826. With no family to raise him, Alex was blessed to be taken in by the Rev. Alexander Hamilton Webster. Stephens changed his middle name to honor his counselor and mentor. Alex Stephens graduated with highest honors from the University of Georgia, where he was a roommate of Dr. Crawford W. Long, the discoverer of anesthesia. He taught school for a year and a half before his admission to the bar in 1834. Two years later, Stephens was elected to represent Taliaferro County in the Georgia Legislature, serving through 1841, when he was elected to represent his county in the Georgia Senate. In his relatively brief legal career, Stephens earned a reputation as a highly effective criminal defense lawyer.

A member of the southern branch of the Whig Party, Stephens was elected to fill the unexpired term of Congressman Mark Cooper in 1843. The following year, Georgia adopted a new system of Congressional Districts which replaced the at-large system. Stephens was elected to the 7th Congressional District of Georgia, which covered an area composed of Baldwin, Greene, Hancock, Laurens, Morgan, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Taliaferro, and Washington counties. Stephens served on the Committee of Twenty- One to ensure the election of Whig candidates along with Winfield Wright of Laurens County.

Congressman Stephens, whose Unionists' views made him popular with local voters, continued to represent Laurens County until congressional districts were redistricted in 1852. After rifts developed between northern and southern members of the Whig Party, Toombs, Stephens and Douglas left the party in the early 1850s to form a new party, the Constitutional Union Party. Stephens, then a full-fledged Democrat, was a strong supporter of President James Buchanan and served as a presidential elector for Stephen Douglas, seen as a traitor by many in the South, in the 1860 election.

Stephens, who served in Congress until 1859, was not the strongest advocate of slavery in his early years, although his best friend, Robert Toombs, was. As the winds of war began to howl in 1860, Stephens was elected to attend the Secession Convention held in Milledgeville in January 1861. He desperately implored the delegates to cast their ballots in favor of Georgia's remaining in the Union in an attempt to save her from what he foresaw as her inevitable destruction. Although opposed to Abraham Lincoln's policies, Stephens knew that the Republicans, who had just come onto the national scene, did not possess the requisite number of votes to adopt Lincoln's policies into law.

Despite his desperate struggles to keep Georgia as a part of the United States, Alexander Stephens accepted his nomination to serve in the Confederate Congress. On his forty-ninth birthday, Congressman Stephens was sworn in as the first and only Vice-President of the Confederate States of America.

Alexander Stephens took a more cautious approach to prosecuting a war against the North. Stephens favored delaying offensive actions in order to build up and train Southern forces. During the second year of the war, Stephens first began to reveal his differences with those of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Stephen's criticism of Davis's military strategies increased. So did his disdain for the Confederate president's policy of conscription and suspension of the constitutionally guaranteed right of habeas corpus, policies which were also adopted by Abraham Lincoln in the North. All the while, Stephens sought out ways to end the hostilities after the pivotal battle of Gettysburg.

Thirty-two days after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Union forces arrested Stephens at his home, Liberty Hall, in Crawfordville. After serving five months in the prison at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, Stephens returned to Georgia. Elected to the United States Senate from Georgia in 1866, Stephens was denied his seat as Georgia had not formally returned to the Union.

After the virtual end of Reconstruction, Stephens filled the unexpired term of Ambrose R. Wright in the United States Congress. Stephens won reelection for four more terms bringing his total service in the Congress to twenty-six years, a record only matched in the 20th Century by Carl Vinson, Paul Brown, John Lewis and Edward Cox.

At the age of seventy, Stephens resigned his seat in Congress following his election as the 50th Governor of Georgia. On March 4, 1883, some four months after his election, the ailing scion of Georgia politics passed away in his home.

Alexander Hamilton Stephens made few reported appearances in Dublin and Laurens County. The little man, with a shrill voice and a highly intelligent mind, made at least one stop in the county during his travels across the state. Stephens accepted the invitation of Ira Stanley, who invited the traveler into his home. According to Stanley family tradition, when the men were discussing Stanley's desire to build a new home in the northern tip of Laurens County, Stephens called for a pen and paper and sketched out a design of his own home. Stanley reproduced his elegant home, near Chappell's Mill, in close conformance with Stephen's drawing.

It has been said that Alexander Stephens had a desire to help those less fortunate than himself. His home was frequently open to all travelers, rich or poor. More than one hundred students, of both races and both sexes, were said to have benefitted from his generous private scholarships.

Like Thomas Jefferson, another great American of the same ilk, Alexander Hamilton Stephens died with little or no assets, other than the infinite number of friends and a long legacy of service to our state and our nation. And, it was in this week, two hundred years ago, that the "littlest giant" in our state's political history was born.