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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

THE LAURENS COUNTY CONFEDERATE MONUMENT

MONUMENT TO THE VALIANT SOLDIERS

OF THE LOST CAUSE



For one hundred years it has stood tall facing the morning sun. It faces east for an optimum view from the center of town and not because of any symbolism. About ninety-six years ago the Daughters of the Confederacy started a fund-raising campaign for the erection of a monument to Laurens County's Confederate veterans. After four years of bitter and divisive debates, the memorial statue was dedicated in the presence of a crowd of thousands a century ago on April 26, 1912.

The owner of the Idle Hour restaurant was one of the first to sponsor a benefit for the monument. After nearly four years of planning, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Confederate Veterans signed a contract for the monument in the spring of 1908. The monument committee was led by J.A. Thomas. Thomas was a native of Dublin who was a teenage veteran of the war and later rose to the rank of Brigadier General as commander of the United Confederate Veterans in the 1920s. Other members of the committee were B.H. Rawls and W.W. Robinson. The contract with Cordele Marble Company called for the unveiling of the monument on Confederate Memorial Day in 1909. The committee decided to go with a smaller monument to cut the cost down to thirty-five hundred dollars.


The thirty-five-foot tall monument is constructed of marble. The base is made of white Georgia marble, while the soldier is carved from Italian marble. The statue, which sits in the center of a twenty by twenty-foot square, weighs 91,440 pounds. The first three bases are eight-feet square and the fourth is five- feet square. The bases are four and one half-feet high and the die and the plinth total five-feet in height. The middle spire is fourteen-feet tall. The seven-foot tall soldier stands in the position of at rest. He is clad with a fatigue uniform, complete with a cartridge box and canteen. Around the base are the accouterments of the four branches of the Confederate military. The infantry is represented by the crossed rifles, the cavalry by the crossed sabers, the artillery by the crossed cannon, and the navy by the crossed deck cannon and ramrod. The monogram of the Confederate States of America appears one-third of the way up on each side of the monument.



On the southern base of the monument the following inscription is engraved: "Fidelity when extended to him to whom it is justly due resembles the stars of Freidland that shine best in the blackest night." The reference to Freidland, also spelled Friedland, apparently relates to the escorts of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was captured by Union Cavalry, less than three days after he and his prominent escorts stopped in Dublin in their attempt to escape to the Southwest or to England. On the western face of the monument are carved the words, "It has no speech nor language with its fold the dead who died under it lie fitly shrouded." The north side simply carries the salute, "In Memoriam our Heroes, 1861-1865."



The monument committee, already hurting from the failure of the fund drive to materialize to unveil the monument on Confederate Memorial Day in 1909, began the construction of a concrete foundation in the center of the intersection of Jefferson Street and West Jackson Street. The county commissioners believed the more proper, and safer, site would be on the southwest corner of the courthouse square. Though the age of the automobile was just beginning, the commissioners knew that auto traffic would increase over the years. Some may have contemplated that the intersection would later become the intersection of two major Federal highways. The board appropriated one thousand dollars for the project if the monument was actually placed on the courthouse grounds and not out in the street.



At first, local veterans relented and agreed to the move if the county was going to pay - an offer which would have pleased their wives and daughters and would have allowed the dedication in April. But, when it became apparent that the county could not donate, the veterans of the Camp Hardy Smith took issue. The former soldiers hired attorney W.C. Davis to prepare papers to enjoin the relocation of what was their monument, believing it was they who fought and they who should have the right to determine its location. The veterans were waiting for anyone to move their monument before springing into action.



The pressure was on. City street crews were paving the streets around the center of the city with vitrified brick. The city council warned that if the foundation was moved before the paving force finished the work so that the plot of ground could be paved, that the city would not allow the monument to be moved. The monument arrived, though the contracted payments had not yet been paid for. The ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were getting anxious. They didn't want another Confederate Memorial Day to pass without a monument.



Meanwhile contractor I. C. Huffman was at work attempting to move the foundation from the intersection to the courthouse square. When it became apparent that the move could be made and somewhat easily, the veterans dispatched a courier to meet Judge Martin who was on the bench at Hawkinsville. Once the judge signed the interlocutory papers, another courier was standing by waiting to deliver it as rapidly as possible back to the courthouse. Once back in Dublin, the veterans were confident that Sheriff Flanders would personally serve them on Mr. Huffman and put a halt, albeit temporary, to the removal work.



Much to the consternation of the old Confederates, Judge Martin sent the technically defective papers back. Once the errors were corrected, they were resubmitted back to the judge in Hawkinsville. Huffman kept working and got the substructure out of the ground and began the processing of moving it the short distance to the square.



Judge John Martin, who was in town to grant charters to new corporations in the city, sided with the veterans and issued a restraining order prohibiting the county from moving the monument from its original site. Judge Martin reasoned that the commissioners could not legally donate to its establishment. Therefore, the commissioners would have no say so in the matter. The veterans, who preferred no monument at all to one on the courthouse square, cheered after winning the first round of the battle.



While the veterans were reveling in victory, the ladies of the UDC were making their own battle plans. A major offensive was set into action. Within a few weeks the fighting was over. How they did it and how many arms they had to twist or how many threats they had to make will never be known.



J.R. Broadhurst, chairman of the Street Committee of the City of Dublin, announced the compromised location. The committee voted not to place the monument in front of the courthouse. In fact, they moved it entirely out of the bounds of the street and decided to place the monument at the eastern apex of the triangle in front of the Carnegie Library, which was erected five years previously.



The veiled monument was placed just in time for its dedication on Memorial Day, 1909. A major obstacle blocked the unveiling of the monument. There was not enough money to pay the contractor. For three years the monument to the glorious feats of the Sons of the South stood beneath a veil and became an embarrassment to the entire county. Donations were slow because they were limited to one dollar per person.



The unveiling was delayed until June 3 in celebration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis' birthday. The committee hoped to place it between a pyramid of stacked cannon balls and a fountain. But the monument was still not ready to be dedicated.



Mrs. Adeline Baum, Mrs. E.J. Blackshear, Mrs. J.S. Almand, Mrs. J.D. Prince, and Mrs. J.A. Thomas led a year-long campaign to pay off the debt. The ladies of the community were able to raise $2,000 in the last year to reach their goal. After reaching a settlement with the contractor the dedication was set for April 26, 1912.



Col. C.A. Weddington presided over the Confederate Memorial Day services which were held in the Methodist Church. Dr. A.M. Williams gave the opening prayer, followed by a patriotic song. Col. Thomas, who was there during the last dark days of the war, spoke just before a solo song by Mrs. E. Fred Brown. Capt. L.Q. Stubbs eloquently spoke of the causes leading up to the war and brought the capacity crowd to tears when he spoke of the Confederate generals who fought on the southern side and held them up as worthy examples of the youth of the day.




Dedication - April 26, 2012


The Dublin Band, the Dublin Guards, the Veterans, the Daughters, Sons, and Children of the Confederacy, and the Boy Scouts paraded down Monroe Street to the monument.

"To the heroes of the sixties, I do unveil this monument," said Miss Adeline Baum. Miss Baum was assisted by nine children: Marie New, Rose Arnau, James Moore, Baum Dreyer, Jeanette Stubbs, Evelyn Prince, Evelyn Camp, Nina Peyton Smith, and Sarah Beall in unveiling the monument to G.B. Fout's choir's heart stirring rendition of "Dixie." Miss Baum, who would lead the founding of a chapter of the United Children of the Confederacy the following year, was given the honor of unveiling the monument for "her hard work and great love for the cause that have characterized their efforts all along."





C.A. Weddington, on behalf of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, presented the monument to Mayor E.R. Orr, who accepted it on behalf of the city. A dinner for the veterans at the pavilion at Stubbs Park concluded the ceremonies for the day.

The Confederate Monument stands as a lasting tribute not to the abominable institution of slavery, but to men of nobility. It represents the bravery of young boys who never owned a slave but took up arms in defense of their homeland, against what, in their time they saw as an eminent danger to their way of lives. Perhaps what we should endeavor to do is inscribed on the monument's eastern face: "Your sons and daughters will forever guard the memory of your brave deeds," not just the brave deeds of the children who bore the brunt of the Civil War, but to all the young men and women who fight wars started by men.
 
 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR

The Most Worthy Women (and Men) of



THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR


For more than eleven decades, the female and male members of the Dublin Chapter 1975, Georgia chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star have served their community faithfully, reverently, and without hesitation or hope of recognition or reward. They serve because of their abiding belief in charity, truth and loving kindness toward others. They raise money, volunteer and support the young and the old with projects ranging from juvenile diabetes to Alzheimer's.

The Order of the Eastern Star was first envisioned and organized by Rob Morris in 1850. From its beginning until the present the world's largest fraternal organization has been tied to the Free and Accepted Masons. Membership, although primarily female, is open to certain males, who are qualifying Mason. Female members are required to be related to male Masonic members. Membership peaked in Georgia in 1979 with more than 41,000 members.

The first chapter of the Order in the State of Georgia was the Tithonia Chapter, which was organized in 1891. Locally, the Lorraine Chapter in Tensile, was the 10th chapter organized (1899) in the state. It was organized by Rev. W.S. Ramsay of Dublin.

The ladies of the Tennille Chapter hosted the very first annual session of the Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in May 1902. Nearly ten years later, and one century ago, representatives of 77 chapters representing more than 4400 members of Georgia's grand chapter converged on the popular convention center in Dublin, Georgia on April 16-17, 1912.

The meeting was held in the Masonic Lodge, located on the third floor of the C.W. Brantley/Lovett & Tharpe building. One hundred and fifty delegates from around the state were housed in private homes. A banquet was held in the grand dining room of the New Dublin Hotel with 200 seated guests in attendance.

The Dublin Chapter, for three years known as Chapter 75, was instituted on April 13. 1910 and chartered on May 18, 1910 at the state session in Cordele. The initial 42 members elected as their first officers: Worthy Matron - Mrs. W.B. Rogers, Worthy Patron - W.B. Rogers, Secretary - J.C. Spencer, Treasurer Linnie Reihardt, Conductress - Omie Beacham, Associate Conductress - Mrs. W.L. Williams, Adah - Essie Rogers, Esther - Jennie Dial, Ruth - Mrs. Dewitt Freeman, Martha - Hattie Gilbert, Electa - Mrs. J.Y Keen, Warden - Mrs. Emma Manning, and Calvin Tyre - Sentinel.

The Dublin Chapter was aided in organization by Senie M. Hubbard, a resident of Macon and a native of Laurens County, served as a Worthy Grand Matron of Georgia from 1906-1910, the only woman in the state chapter's history to serve five years in the top position.

Although the Dublin Chapter was 88th chartered chapter in Georgia, the still active chapter is now tied with Thomasville as the states 10th oldest chapter. The first ten Worthy Matrons were; Mrs. W.B. Rogers, Mrs. Lota Orr, Mrs. Linnie Bright, Mrs. Viola Daniel, Mrs. Annie Ward, Mrs. Mamie Jordan, Mrs. J.S. Almond, Miss Alma Carrere and Mrs. J. Williams and Mrs Anna Shea. The first ten Worthy Patrons were; W.B. Rogers, J.J. Flanders, W.B. Adkins, C.C. Jordan, Andrew Grier, W.W. Ward, S.P. New, T.M. Hicks, C.C. Crockett and T.C. Keen.

Over the last century many Dublin women and one man have served as officers in Grand Chapter of Georgia. Mrs. Lota Orr, wife of Dublin mayor E.R. Orr and the Chapter's 2nd Worthy Matron, was elected in the Dublin session as Grand Esther in Ap;ril 1912 and in the Macon session as Associate Grand Conductress in 1913. Mrs. Annie Graham Ward served in seven capacities as Grand Chaplain, Grand Warden, Associate Grand Conductress, Grand Conductress, Associate Grand Matron, Grand Lecturer and in 1932, Mrs. Ward was selected by her fellow members as the Worthy Grand Matron of the State Chapter.

M.Z. Claxton, the only male Dublin officer, was elected as Grand Sentinel in 1940. Mrs. Ollie Mackey served as Poet Laureate in 1946. In 1957, Virginia Harville was chosen as Grand Warden. The position of Grand Electra was held by Vera Shiver in 1973 and again in 1998 by Sara West. Most recently, through 2001, Brenda Holloway served as Grand Organist.


Mamie S. Lander (3rd from left) at her
portrait dedication.


By far, the most well known Laurens County member of the Order of the Eastern Star was Mamie Stubbs Lander. Although not a native of the county, Ms. Stubbs taught school in Dexter in 1910. Living as one of two school teachers boarding with the family of Evie Currell in her home on Elm Street, Mrs. Stubbs married Thomas Lander in 1911 and moved first to Louisiana and then to Florida, where she became active in that state's chapters on both local and state levels.

Mamie Lander was elected by the delegates to the Triennial Assembly as the Most Worthy Grand Matron of the General Grand Chapter. As the leader of all of the members of the World Order of the Eastern Star, Mrs. Lander presided over the 1946 Triennal Assembly in Tampa, Florida. At the expiration of her term, Mrs. Lander's service to the Order of the Eastern Star was not over, not by any means. From 1946 to her retirement in 1973, Mamie Stubbs Lander, the Washington County native, former Adrian school student, and Dexter school teacher, served as Right Worthy Grand Secretary of the General Chapter. From 1973 to her death, Mrs. Lander continued to be somewhat active as the organization's Right Worthy Grand Secretary Emeritus.

The second chapter organized in Laurens County was the Magnolia Chapter in Dexter. Instituted on March 29, 1912, the chapter was officially chartered at the 1912 Dublin session. The chapter surrendered its charter in 1917. The Magnolia Chapter's initial officers were; Viola Daniel, Worthy Matron, Dr. L.W. Wiggins, Worthy Patron, Mary Ussery, Associate Matron, Dr. Floyd Rackley, Secretary, Jennie W. Wiggins, Treasurer, Myrtle Tutt, Associate Conductress.

A third Laurens County chapter, Harmony Grove Chapter No. 3, was first organized six weeks after the Dublin session and chartered on May 31, 1913. The Minter/Lollie chapter survived only ten years until 1923.

A second Dexter Chapter (No. 280) was instituted in April 1937 and chartered two months later. It survived until May 1972. The last Laurens County chapter to be chartered was the Rock Springs Chapter (No. 467), chartered in May 1956. Its members served our community for forty-three years until the charter was surrendered in June 1999.

Although far from a secret society, the most worthy ladies and gentlemen of the Order of the Eastern Star are still around, quietly serving without fanfare as they have for the last 102 years with Kind Hearts, Kind Thoughts, Kind Words and Kind Deeds praying to seek God's door and maintaining their constant faith to open that door.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER - THE TITANIC AND THE GEORGIANS ABOARD





There is scarcely anyone around who hasn't heard the story of the RMS Titanic, which struck a North Atlantic iceberg a century ago today. Although many don't know the exact number of those who died that fateful April Sunday evening, the story has been told and retold in countless movies, books and television shows. What you might not know is that four of her passengers had ties to Central Georgia.

Linnie Futrelle never got over the news she received in her home in Adrian, Georgia, that her son Jacques was one of the 1517 souls who perished early in the morning of April 15, 1912. Futrelle and his wife May were cruising across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the unsinkable queen of the White Star Line. His mortal remains lie on the ocean floor among the layers of rock, silt, and the deteriorating hull of the world's most famous luxury liner, the H.M.S. Titanic.

His grieving mother, seeking closure to the death of her son, caused a marker to be erected to commemorate his tragic and noble death. You may have driven by the marker many times and never noticed it. This is the story of a man whose cenotaph stands in the cemetery of Poplar Springs Methodist Church, just east of Scott, Georgia. The marker reads, "Jacques, son of W.H.H. & Linnie Futrelle, Apr. 9, 1875, Lost on Titanic, Apr. 15. 1912, Who in the supreme test, proved himself. Nearly fifteen weeks later on July 28, 1912, Linnie Futrelle passed away into Heaven to rejoin her son.

Jacques Heath Futrelle, a native of Pike County, Georgia, grew up to appreciate literature. Jacques worked first as a printer's devil and then as Business Manager of the Atlanta Journal. He oversaw the establishment of the first sports department of the Journal. After his return to Atlanta, Jacques took the hand of the love of his life, the beautiful Lillie May Peel, in marriage on July 17, 1895. The Futrelles moved to New York, where Jacques became the telegraph editor of the New York Herald.

Futrelle left journalism to manage a theater in Richmond, Virginia. He began to write, direct, and act in plays for a couple of years before returning to Boston to work for the icon of newspaper publishers, William Randolph Hearst. What Jacques enjoyed most was writing - in particular, mysteries. His most famous work, "The Thinking Machine," was first published as a serial in "The Boston American." Futrelle is most remembered for his character of Professor S.F.X. Van Dusen, who was "The Thinking Machine." Professor Van Dusen's most well read case was "The Problem of Cell 13." Jacques wrote more than a dozen novels and even more magazine articles for leading magazines of the day, including The Saturday Evening Post.

In January 1912, the Futrelles traveled to Europe to promote Jacques' novels and to give him a change of scenery to write even more magazine articles. After, their vacation was cut short, the Futrelles gathered with friends to celebrate Jacques' 37th birthday before setting sail for the return trip to America the next day. Futrelle (LEFT)  never made it to bed that night, but was on time to board the world's greatest luxury liner on her maiden voyage. The H.M.S. Titanic was the pride of the White Star Line. She was considered to be unsinkable, the best passenger ship in the history of the World. He had just finished his last work, "My Lady's Garter."

As the ship steamed toward home, all was well. After a lavish dinner, the wealthy men aboard milled around talking about the issues of the day, the upcoming presidential election, the troubles in Europe, and so forth. Suddenly and without a solitary hint of a warning, the unthinkable happened. The ship struck an iceberg, which tore into her hull. Passengers felt a jolt, but were oblivious to their impending fate. Jacques and May were in their state room when they felt a slight concussion. Jacques had been complaining of a headache. May was reading a book. Presuming it to be a "baby iceberg," Jacques reassured May, "Oh, I guess it's nothing." May wasn't as positive. She ordered Jacques to go out to ascertain the true extent of what was happening. Within a few minutes, Jacques returned to inform her of the situation, which he believed to be of little consequence. A few minutes later, stewards knocked on the door with the grave news, the unsinkable ship was sinking. The couple got fully dressed and put on their ship supplied life jackets.

Jacques escorted May (LEFT)  to the lifeboat section, pleading for her to get aboard. She refused. Jacques coaxed her into the boat with the assurance that he would come along later in another boat, ignorant of the fact that there would not be enough lifeboats aboard to handle all of the passengers and crew. At the moment her lifeboat was about to be lowered into the water, May jumped out to find Jacques. May found Jacques down below the deck. He was standing with a group of gentlemen, who appeared unconcerned with their destiny. May and Jacques embraced for the final time. Jacques escorted May back to the life boats. He told her to think of the children. He convinced May that once the ship went underwater, that he could survive by clinging to the side of a life boat. May hesitated. The boat was about to leave the deck. Jacques screamed out, "For God's sake, go! It's your last chance, go!" May still lingered in anguish on the edge of the boat. An officer pushed her into the boat and to safety.

At that instant, May knew that she would never see Jacques alive again. May wrote, "The last I saw of my husband, he was standing beside Colonel John Jacob Astor. He had a cigarette in his mouth. As I watched him, he lit a match and held it in his cupped hands before his face. By its light I could see his eyes roam anxiously over the water. Then he dropped his head toward his hand and lit his cigarette. I know those hands never trembled." May wondered why there were fifty-one open places in the sixty-five man lifeboat. May survived the horror of that night, but her thoughts of Jacques standing on the deck never faded from her mind.

Major Archibald W. Butt (LEFT) was one of the most popular military officers of his day. He volunteered for military service during the Spanish American War. A native of Augusta, Archie Butt began his journalistic career with the Louisville Journal in Kentucky. In the early 1890s, Butt went to work with the Macon Telegraph as a reporter and later as its editor. After working with newspapers in Atlanta and Washington, Butt took his first government job as a secretary in the American Embassy in Mexico City.

On the first business day of the year 1900, Butt was commissioned a captain in the United States Volunteers, then serving in the Philippines. After his return from the war zone, Butt met President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1908 made the Captain his chief military aide. Captain Butt remained on the job when Roosevelt was succeeded by William Howard Taft. When it became apparent that Taft and Roosevelt would run against each other, Butt received permission from Taft to go on a vacation to Europe in an attempt to get some rest.

Butt was enjoying a game of cards in the smoking room of the first class section of the Titanic when the ship hit an iceberg. When informed of the dire consequences of the ship's condition, Butt immediately went into his military mode, made his way to the deck, and assumed command of helping women and children into lifeboats.

"Archie Butt was a Major to the last. God never made a firmer nobleman than he. The sight of that man, calm, gentle and yet as firm as a rock will never leave me," said Mrs. Henry B. Harris who was one of the last women to leave the Titanic in a lifeboat. Mrs. Harris observed a moment when a panic-stricken male passenger attempted to board a lifeboat filled with women and children.

"Major Butt shot one arm off, caught him by the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow," Mrs. Harris recalled. Butt firmly scolded the man saying, "Women will be attended to first or I'll break every d d bone in your body."

Mrs. Harris recalled, "I stayed until the last and I saw how inspiring he was." Major Butt calmly and respectfully helped the poor frightened women and children from the steerage section into the lifeboats. "He was one of God's greatest noblemen," Mrs. Harris concluded.

"The last person to whom I spoke on the board of the Titanic was Archie Butt (seen in the background aboard the Titanic - left)  and his good brave, face, smiling at me from the deck of the steamers, was the last I could distinguish as the boat pulled away from the steamer's side," said Ruth Young, the last woman to leave the Titanic.

Miss Young echoed other stories of Butt's heroism, "Archie himself put me into the boat, wrapped blankets around me and tucked me in as carefully as if we were starting a motor ride." The Washington. D.C. resident, recalled Butt's performing little courtesies as calmly with a smiling face as if death was far away, instead of being but a few moments removed from him.

"Goodbye Miss Young. Luck is with you. Will you kindly remember me to the folks back home?," were his last words to the grateful survivor. Then, Major Butt climbed back to the rail of the ship. "Archie was looking down, his hat raised and the same old genial, brave smile was on his face," Young related as her most lingering memory of the tragedy.

Although it was claimed that the remains of Archibald Butt were later found among other bodies floating in the sea, it is likely that the dauntless Major Butt survived the sinking for at least a few days. For on July 31, some 97 days after the sinking of the Titanic a message was found in a bottle floating off the shore of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The message read, "April 16, Midocean - Help-on a raft-Titanic sinking-no water or food. Major Butt." His remains were never found

Major Butt's death greatly grieved his boss, President Taft, who was just beginning his campaign for reelection. The Georgia native was honored in his hometown of Augusta with the naming of a bridge as well as three national monuments in Washington, D.C.. in Arlington Cemetery, the National Cathedral and the grounds of the White House.

The final Georgian to lose his life aboard the Titanic was Isidor Strauss. Strauss, who lived in the West Central Georgia town of Talbotton, was a co-owner of Macy's Department Store in New York. Straus moved to Talbotton, where his father opened a general store in 1854. When the Civil War broke out, Straus attempted to join the Confederate Army. His enlistment was disallowed when it was discovered that he was only sixteen years old. After the war, Straus joined his brother Nathan in opening a department in Macy's Department Store.

Straus and his wife Ida (LEFT)  were returning from a visit to Germany aboard the Titanic. The often told story is that Mrs. Straus refused to leave her husband behind aboard the sinking ship. Because of his social status, a crew member invited Straus to join his wife aboard the lifeboat. Straus refused and let his wife's maid have his place instead. The Strauses were last seen sitting in deck chairs, holding hands as a large wave washed them into the dark, frigid ocean waters in a scene depicted in all three Titanic films, although it was deleted from the 1997 blockbuster movie.

Of lasting importance to the people of Laurens County, the loss of the Titanic led to the prohibition of passengers traveling aboard freight steamboats along the Oconee. That pastime was very popular among local residents and the usual treat for convention visitors to Dublin, which hosted eight state wide gatherings in 1912.




One hundred years after the sinking of the unsinkable HMS Titanic, the tragedy is still ingrained in our minds. The heroism, the senseless, negligent actions of the ship's officers and builders, and horrible tragedy of it all remains a night to remember.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

IT WAS WAR IN GEORGIA!





The cheers of Fort Sumter had all but died. The tears of Fort Pulaski flowed as the ladies of Savannah cried. It was war! Fort Pulaski, which had guarded the port city of Savannah and was once planned under the supervision of General Robert E. Lee himself, was under siege, a century and a half today. With strong feelings of invincibility still flowing through their veins, few Savannahians then alive would have believed that before the end of 1864, the entire city of Savannah would be under Union control.



The attack on Fort Pulaski came as absolutely no surprise to anyone. More than a week before the artillery barrage began, newspapers across the Northeast carried a headline that a shelling of Fort Pulaski, an integral part of the attack upon Fort Jackson closer upriver to Savannah, was about to begin.



In his first tour of duty in the United States Army, Robert E. Lee, a former West Point cadet and a lieutenant in the Engineering Corps, began his first assignment - to survey and make plans for forts at the mouth of the Savannah River on Cockspur Island.



When the threat of war between the North and South became all too real, Georgia officials sent a detachment of untested militia to seize Fort Pulaski on January 3, 1861. When the state officially seceded the following month, the bastion became a critical Confederate military installation.



By November 1861, Federal attacks on Confederate forts in South Carolina and Georgia caused Lee to make a hurried trip back to Cockspur Island to formulate plans to protect Fort Pulaski from both naval and ground attacks, as well as the vital ports of Charleston and Savannah.



The mighty fortress, completed in 1847, was situated at an elbow of the meandering Savannah River channel. Planners theorized that any warship entering the area had to set a course dead ahead toward the fort. Col. Charles H. Olmstead, the fort's commander, believed that no ship could get beyond the fort. But that wasn't the plan of Pulaski's attackers.






A confident member of the garrison wrote on March 28, 1862, "We can see them all around us, but the cowards keep at a good distance from us. They prefer to hide behind some brush or hammock rather than to come square to the front."



United States Army General Thomas Sherman, commanding more than twelve thousand men, worked in cooperation with Navy Captain Samuel Dupont, who set up a small armada of gunboats to block any rear attacks. The initial plan was to directly attack the city of Savannah, by bypassing Fort Pulaski altogether.

By Valentine's Day, Federal forces began to tighten the noose around the Confederate stronghold. Five companies of men, totaling some 385 effectives, were left to defend the 7 « foot thick, brick walled fort with 48 guns at their disposal. Union artillery commanders erected nearly a dozen batteries along the northwestern shore of Tybee Island with as many as three dozen guns aimed squarely at the beleaguered bastion.

Union Lieutenant James Wilson brought over a request to the Confederate commander to surrender the fort early on the morning of April 10, 1862. Olmstead politely refused. Just after 8:00 o'clock, the artillery cannonade began. Five batteries opened fire, relentlessly pounding Pulaski and its defenders with as many to four to five rounds per minute.

At first, the rounds missed their targets. But, as forward observers called in adjustments, the rounds became decidedly devastating to the thick brick walls. One observer reported that the conical shells pierced the fort's thick brick walls with ease. One of the first casualties was the fort's flagstaff, which was broken early during the attack.

The hailstorm of iron enfiladed the fort without pause until sunset. Olmstead's gunners, mostly manning mortars outside the fort, returned fire slowly and deliberately aiming at Union batteries on Tybee Island. Throughout the day, the Confederate forces held out hope as some of their rounds struck and disabled a couple of Union ships and a few others were thought to have silenced some of the Union batteries. All through the evening, Union artillerists reminded Pulaski's defenders that the bombardment was just beginning by sending two to three rounds every half hour. No one in the fort slept that night.




The following morning, the onslaught resumed and with devastating results. The eight Parrot guns positioned at King's Landing ripped open seven, very large breaches in the fort's southern wall. All of Pulaski's barbette guns were disabled. Three Federal cannon balls pierced the fort's magazine with its 40,000 pounds of gunpowder inside.

Despite thirty hours of the horrific shelling of thousands of rounds, only four men were at first reported to be seriously wounded. Three men lost an arm and one lost a leg. Other reports counted the Confederates mortally wounded to be as many as twenty. Union dead were initially reported at seventeen. That number was later reduced to the death of a single Union artillerist.

Throughout the day, panic among the residents of Savannah crescendoed as the vibrations shook windows throughout the city. Many in the city began preparations to flee westward to inland sanctuaries.

When the devastating effect of the heavy barrage made further resistance futile, the fort's youthful commander, Col. Olmstead, reluctantly decided to surrender his command in the middle of the afternoon of the 11th of April. Olmstead was quoted as saying, "I yield my sword, but I trust I have not disgraced it."

After the unconditional surrender was signed and sealed, the Union flag was raised above the ravaged ramparts of Fort Pulaski. The defenders were taken prisoner and shipped to forts in New York. A total blockade of the port of Savannah was put in place.

In expectation of an attack on Fort Pulaski by rebel forces, six hundred Confederate prisoners, mostly officers and known as the Immortal 600, were imprisoned in Fort Pulaski to prevent a siege by Confederates.

And, it was on this day, one hundred and fifty years ago when the Civil War came to the soil of Georgia for the very first time. The relatively light conflict at Fort Pulaski would be overshadowed by the horrific battle of Chickamauga in September 1863 and the war changing Atlanta Campaign in the spring and summer of 1864. Savannah herself fell into the hands of the Union army when Gen. William T. Sherman's crippling March to the Sea in the autumn of 1864 ended on Christmas Day in 1864.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

Seaborn Tipton should have known better. After all, he was a duly deputized constable of the Bailey Militia District of Laurens County. But, on a warm winter night a century and a quarter ago, Seaborn Tipton did a bad, bad thing. He conspired with a young friend Joe Weaver to rob old man Joseph Perry.


Joe Weaver, a seemingly chronic scoundrel, had been in trouble before. Earlier that winter, Weaver, Charley Jackson, and Fed Hightower robbed the business house of J.T. Smith. The teenager Weaver made his way over to Meriwether County, where he ironically served as a night guard of a convict gang. When a letter to Fed Hightower revealed Weaver’s location, W.C. Thompson was dispatched to return the fleeing felon back to Laurens County and justice.

Weaver was convicted of the burglary and sentenced to fifteen years in the state penitentiary. But, before serving very little of his sentence, young Joe surreptitiously secured a two-inch auger, bored through an exterior jail wall, and fled into the darkness. The convict didn’t stray too far from his home, hiding in the woods near the home of his good friend, Seaborn Tipton. Tipton’s wife, the former Miss Amanda Wynn of Wilkinson County, would later admit that her husband “was feeding someone in the woods for some time.”

Weaver, a tall, handsome, curly haired, blue eyed, light complected teenager with pretty, white teeth was desperate to get enough money to allow him to flee from Laurens County and take up a new life far, far away. Weaver and his father, Seaborn L. Weaver, joined Tipton to discuss a plot to murder Joe Perry, who had married a sister of S.L. Weaver’s wife. The men knew Perry kept money around his house. Perry, a well-respected man in his community, was a seventy-three old veteran of the Civil War. Perry, too old to actually serve in the infantry, joined the local militia at the age of fifty.

On the night of March 11, 1887, Joe Weaver and Seaborn Tipton set out in the dark to rob their neighbor Perry, who lived some four to five miles north of Dublin. Tipton draped a red calico dress over his head. Mrs. Tipton, his willing accomplice, cut out spaces for his eyes, nose and mouth. The daring duo crept up to Weaver’s modest abode, illuminated by a bright waning gibbous, midnight moon.

The perfidious pair picked up a fence rail and used it as a battering ram to break down in the bedroom door of the slumbering victim. As the intruders entered Perry’s bedroom, Perry sprang up from his bed as fast as a septuagenarian possibly could. Weaver and Tipton grabbed and wrestled with Perry, who was finally able to pull of his arms free.

One attacker grabbed Perry’s free arm and yelled, “Shoot him! Shoot him!” A single shot rang out. The attackers fled into the moonlight. Perry reached for his gun and fired in the direction of his assailant’s flight. Two ineffective shots were returned in Perry’s direction. One attacker, shot through the heart by the other attacker, staggered into Perry’s yard and fell dead on the ground. Thinking that his attackers had fled in frustration, Perry, overwhelmed with the excitement, laid back down and went to sleep.

The following morning, a young Negro boy went out to Perry’s well to draw a bucket of fresh well water. The boy found a dead man, which he assumed to another Negro. While the coroner was sent for, the corpse was left lying where it fell until the constable arrived. When the coroner did arrive, he discovered that the dead body was indeed the body of Constable Tipton.

A general alarm of excitement and disbelief spread throughout the Bailey District. Marshal Martin and his blood hounds were summoned. An immediate reward of one hundred dollars was issued for the arrest of Weaver. Governor John B. Gordon, Georgia’s hero of the Confederacy, offered another $150.00 to brought the total bounty for the killer to $250.00. The possibility of lynching Weaver was quite real if he had been captured immediately. Law officials suspected that Weaver had already fled the county with less than $20.00 on his person.

Laurens County Sheriff J.C. Scarborough set out on Weaver’s elusive trail which led him to the home of Andrew Hobbs. At first, Hobbs denied the sheriff permission to search his premises. Scarborough pressed the issue. After Hobbs, a well-respected county official, consented to a search, the Sheriff found Weaver’s hiding place in Hobbs’ gin house, complete with Weaver’s clothes, bedding, and personal papers. After the initial investigation, Justice K.H. Walker issued a warrant for A.J. Hobbs, Seaborn Weaver, and Ben Raffield for harboring the suspected murderer.

The intense manhunt continued. From time to time, rumors of Weaver’s presence in the community spread like wild fires throughout the county. One somewhat credible report led law enforcement officials out to Lick Pond, a thicket so dense that naked eye visibility of any thing but trees was impossible beyond a few feet.

Sheriff Scarborough’s attempts to capture Weaver were exacerbated when in late June published reports in the Dublin Gazette said that Tipton, Weaver’s victim, was seen with his family, who followed him around the countryside, causing much calamity over Tipton’s return from the dead.

On April 1, The Sandersville Progress reported that Weaver was captured in Brewton. This report, like all the others of his sighting or capture, turned out to be false. An exhaustive search of surviving newspapers revealed no reports that Weaver was ever captured. Joseph Perry died on February 23, 1898.

His one deed of depravity done, his one irresistible impulse of avarice satisfied, his dreams of unwarranted wealth having slipped through his greedy hands, Seaborn Tipton, shot dead by a bullet shot from the gun of Joe Weaver, once again proved the ancient idiom, what goes around comes around.









Sunday, April 01, 2012

WHEN GIANTS PLAYED ON ITS FIELD

EASTMAN’S BIG DAY


On a warm, early spring Friday afternoon, a baseball game was played. Not just an ordinary semi-pro game for the folks in Eastman, Georgia, it was nine-inning game between the Detroit Tigers of the American League and the Boston Braves of the National League. Four thousand avid baseball fans filled every seat and lined the perimeter of the newly constructed ball field to see several of the grand ol’ game’s finest play America’s greatest pastime.  (LEFT-DICK RUDOLH, BOSTON)

In the days before routine airline travel and obligatory spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, many teams spent their pre-seasons in places like Macon, Augusta and Columbus, Georgia. Two of those teams, the Tigers and the Braves, planned a 17-game series beginning in Columbus, extending through the Carolinas, and ending in Maryland before the start of the 1920 season.

The Boston Nationals took the first three games of the series by good margins of the 3, 5, and 3 runs in Columbus, Moultrie and Valdosta. Eastman was the fourth stop along the way. Dublin, a much larger city, would have normally been on the list. The Braves scheduled games there in 1917, 1918 and 1919. The 1917 game with the Yankees was rained out. The 1918 rematch was unforgettable. The Braves’ 1919 game with the Tigers was canceled when Dublin promoters insisted that Ty Cobb  (LEFT) play in the game.

Nimbocumulus clouds rolling in from the west didn’t look so good for the game that day. But, that didn’t stop the fans from plunking down their hard earned, nearly pure silver coins for a fine bench seat or staking out a good spot along the fence.

Promoters of the game in Dodge County set out to improve their fairgrounds by laying out a permanent athletic field inside of the existing horse racing track. The planners, in anticipation of the newest sensation of the day, designed the field to accommodate the landing of the highly popular biplanes, which entertained old and young alike.

To maximize the fan’s view of the game, home plate was situated directly in front of the grandstand, which was divided into sections to optimize ticket prices. In the days and weeks leading up to the game, ticket sales, mainly held in three local drug stores as well as locations in other cities, were exceptionally brisk. Advertisements boldly proclaimed, “There is going to be a real, jam up, honest to goodness ball game with real, sure enough major league players.”

The teams, with a squad of sportswriters and photographers tagging along, were scheduled to arrive in five Pullman rail cars at 1:45 p.m. on the afternoon of March 26, 1920. The game’s first pitch was set for 3:00 p.m. sharp. Onto the field they came, real major league ball players. Eight thousand hands clapped. Four thousand mouths cheered. It was time to play ball!

The Detroit Tigers were led by the legendary Ty Cobb. Surviving newspaper accounts of the day never revealed whether or not Cobb was in uniform that day, but he was with the team and ready to play. Bengal manager Hughie Jennings (LEFT)  - himself a future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame - was tired of being drubbed by the Beaneaters from Boston. So, instead of trying to make do with a make shift lineup, Jennings sent his line up card out to umpire Finneran with his best players pencilled in. The Tiger lineup featured Harry Heilmann playing at first base. Heilmann, a four-time American League Batting Champion, was consistently among the league leaders in offense and defense. Named to the Hall of Fame in 1952, “Slug” Heilmann is still regarded as one of the top players of the 20th Century.

Six years earlier in 1914, they called Braves’ manager George Stallings’ team, “The Miracle Braves,” for their miraculous climb from the National League cellar on July 18 to a World Championship with their four-game sweep of the seemingly invincible Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. Stallings  (LEFT) , a resident of Jones County, was the first to make Georgia the home of the Braves, when he brought them to Macon, Columbus, and sometimes even to his own home in Jones County for spring training.




Playing at shortstop for the Braves was Walter “Rabbitt” Maranville, (LEFT) a consistent fielder who retired as the all time positional leader at shortstop in put outs. Also present, but playing little for the Braves that year, was Hank Gowdy. Gowdy, who went on to play 21 seasons, played for the “Miracle Braves” and was forever known as the first major leaguer to enlist in the Army in World War I. Known more for his glove than his bat, Gowdy lost many bids for election to the Hall of Fame.





Manager Jennings sent George “Hooks” Dauss  (LEFT) to the mound in an effort to prevent a fourth straight loss to their traveling mates. Dauss, whose 221 wins for the Tigers in 15 seasons is a franchise record, garnered 21 of his victories in the previous season. Stallings countered with his old reliable, Dick Rudolph. Rudolph, the sole remaining pitcher from the 1914 squad, started the first game of the 1914 World Series and baffled Connie Mack’s hapless Athletics with his elusive, and then legal, spitball pitches.

The Braves quickly appeared that they were going to run away with yet another game, jumping out to a two-unearned run lead in the bottom of the first inning. Dauss settled down. Going back to his 1919 form, the curveball ace held the Braves scoreless going into the top of the 4th stanza.

Ralph “Pep” Young, exceedingly efficient at getting on base, led off the top of the 4th for the Tigers with a base on balls. Sammy Hale, who hailed from Glen Rose, Texas, flied out. Bobby Veach, (LEFT) the all time Major League leader in putouts for a left fielder and the first Tiger player to ever hit for the cycle, doubled. Veach never stopped running. When a “dead duck” throw went wild, Veach followed Young home to tie the game at 2-2.

Dauss pitched one final inning until he was relieved by Ernie Alten in the 5th. Alten, who shut out the Braves for the rest of game, had little luck in the regular season when posting a pathetic 9.00 ERA in his only year in the Majors.

In the top of the 6th inning, Young once again led off, this time with a solid single. Sammy Hale, who led the AL in sacrifice hits that season, sacrificed himself, driving Young to second base. Not wanting a repeat of another Veach (2-3) hit, Boston pitcher, “Handsome Hugh” McQuillan, intentionally walked the Tiger outfielder, who stands alone in baseball trivia as the only player ever to pinch hit for Babe Ruth.

Harry Heilmann, (LEFT)  who sported a lifetime batting average of .342 and who along with Ted Williams were the last two AL batters to post a .400 plus batting average, disappointingly flied out. With two runners on and two outs in the inning, Babe Ellison, whose best playing days were ahead of him as a great player in the Pacific Coast League, doubled, driving in both Hale and Veach and sending the Tigers to a 4-2 lead, a margin which they would hold until the end of the contest.

Alas, the game came to an end. The exhilarated crowd scattered into the countryside. The Braves’ streak was over. The teams met in Macon on Saturday and again in Atlanta on Sunday. Both teams finished next to dead last in their respective leagues, each more than 30 games out first place. Ty Cobb, in the twilight of iconic career, suffered a leg injury and missed 40 games that year. It would the last of George “The Miracle Man” Stallings’ 14 seasons at the helm of a major league team.

All of that was lost on those four thousand fortunate baseball fans, who for the most part, saw their first and only major league game on that March day when giants played on their field.