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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BLECKLEY COUNTY

THERE WAS A NEW COUNTY IN MIDDLE GEORGIA



And Her Name Was Bleckley




It was a done deal. The Georgia Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill to place on the October ballot a constitutional amendment to create a new county, carved out of the northern portion of Pulaski County. Residents of the Cochran area didn't care too much whom their new county would be named for (Logan Bleckley - a recently deceased native of North Georgia who had served as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court), they just wanted their own county. And, it was time to party. And, what a party it was!

If one could point to a singular founding father of Bleckley County, that man would be the Honorable J.T. Deese, who tirelessly worked for two years to get the measure passed by the legislature, by a vote of 131-27.

When the vote was announced on the house floor, shrieking rebel yells exploded from enthusiastic Bleckley backers in the gallery.

New county movements were frequently proposed and even more frequently dismissed by more powerful entrenched politicians in the larger, sought to be cut off, counties.

Rep. Deese vehemently argued that some residents had to travel as far as 28 miles to attend court in Hawkinsville. He submitted an equitable dividing line to share the natural resources, taxable properties, and population of both counties.

There was smell of hickory smoked pork in the rather cool, Saturday afternoon air in Green Park in Cochran, Georgia, the natural choice for the new county seat, since it had been a successful economic and rail center of eastern Pulaski County for decades. People by the thousands, said to be two, came by foot from across the street, by wagon throughout the county, and by train from the capital city of Atlanta to celebrate the creation of Bleckley County.

Well almost, although the legislature approved the new county, the voters of Georgia would have to approve the measure on the general election ballot in October. No one seemed to worry at all that day as to the outcome of the vote.

Ladies brought bountiful baskets filled with the requisite fried chicken, pies, cakes and the only proper fixins.


A specially chartered Southern Railroad train, left Atlanta at dawn that morning. Bleckley boosters had hoped to fill the cars with politicians and public servants to show their support for the new county and at the same time, boost their chances for reelection in the upcoming fall elections. The failure of the house leadership to allow its members to be excused from their duties, kept many vote seeking representatives away.

They could have staged a debate on the train. Riding aboard the charter were Gov. John M. Slaton, T.S. Felder, E.H. Beck, all candidates in the upcoming state elections. When the special guests arrived, a brass brand struck up a lively tune. The lively crowd, as if scripted, burst into applause, just like in the old movies.

W.O Peacock, a leading citizen of Cochran, took on the role as master of ceremonies.

At high noon, Peacock announced that the political speeches were to begin and instructed the lovely ladies to begin to make their final preparations for the meal.

Mrs. George Brown was presented a gorgeous silver purse by former Georgia Governor, John M. Slaton, as a testimonial for her ardent efforts in the creation of the new county. Slaton slated the highly beloved Atlanta woman, who was dubbed, "The Mascot of the Georgia Legislature."

And, then the unwelcomed rains came, sending the picnickers scurrying like ants for shelter from the storm.

Mr. Peacock offered a special carriage, elegantly outfitted for current governor, Joseph Brown, to former Governor Slaton, who instead offered it to Mrs. Peacock, who he ceremoniously saluted as the most beautiful woman in Bleckley County.

When the showers ended, Thomas S. Felder rose to speak at the podium. Felder, the state's Attorney General, told the then sparse crowd about the importance of farms, good roads, and how he would make a better governor than Slaton, who would win the election twelve days later.

Then it was time to eat. Those 1500 souls who had dodged the speeches and stayed back in the dry shelters back in town, dashed toward the picnic tables.

"We don't do things down here by halves, proclaimed Thomas Lee Bailey, editor of the Cochran Journal. There was more than a plenty of uneaten food left after hungry citizens finished gorging themselves.

Excitement could be found from every dell, hill and hollow throughout northeastern Pulaski County. Yet, there was still work to do. There would be elections to choose new county officials. A temporary courthouse would need to be constructed until a proper, permanent one could be constructed, some two years later.

The actual vote was scheduled for October 2, 1912. It was the first time in six years that the creation of a new county was placed on a statewide ballot in Georgia. The first county officers were Sheriff J.A. Floyd, Clerk of Superior Court, J.T. Deese, Judge, Ordinary Court, W.M. Wynne, Tax Receiver, Jim Holland, Tax Collector, W.D. Porter, Coroner, Morgan Barrs, Surveyor W.H. Berryhill, and the sold County Commissioner, J.B. Hinson.

The actual date of the creation of Bleckley County varies. Some say July 20, 1912, the date the legislature approved the vote to amend the constitution. Strict legal constructionists will tell you that it was October 2, when Georgia's constitution was amended by the voters. Even stricter interpreters of the law would argue that the county was legally created on the day when the election results were certified by the Secretary of State, Philip Cook, Jr. a few days later

But was on that historic Saturday, August 10, 1912, amidst the rain, the food, and the gala hoopla when the people of Cochran and its environs celebrated for the first time as Bleckley countians. Happy 100th birthday to all the fine folks who have and still do call Bleckley County, "home."



















Monday, July 23, 2012

GENERAL BELINDA HIGDON PINCKNEY



Making a Difference


On this 4th of July, we once again celebrate our independence, our patriotism and the overabundance of blessings which have been bestowed upon us by those who have gone before us. Belinda "Brenda" Higdon Pinckney is not your archetypical general. Missing is the gruff exterior we see on television and the movies. She is not a fifty- plus- year- old white male soldier. There is no "gung ho" in her heart, except for the causes she believes so strongly in. When she dons her dress blue uniform, there is a heart of gold behind the mass of commendations, ribbons and stars. Though her shoulders are not broad, thousands and thousands of the family members of the soldiers of the Army know that when they need to lay their head on them, General Pinckney will be there to comfort them. Belinda Higdon Pinckney, one of only a few African-American female general officers in the United States Army, acknowledges the blessings she has. Her mission is to share those blessings and to make life better for those coming behind.

Belinda "Brenda" Higdon Pinckney was born in Dublin, Georgia in 1954. Her parents, Homer and Lucy Higdon, cared about their children and did their best to provide all they could for their six children, even if it meant working two jobs. Though they had little education themselves, the Higdons were determined that their children would receive the best education they could. Belinda attended kindergarten at Howard Chapel Methodist Church not too far from her home in Katie Dudley Village neighborhood of the Dublin Housing Authority. As she looks back to the days she spent in Katie Dudley, she fondly remembered that if she or any other of her siblings and playmates did something they weren't supposed to be doing, they would first get a whipping by a concerned neighbor and then return home for a second stern, but loving, whipping. She applauds those in her community who helped keep the kids "on the straight and narrow."

General Pinckney credits her success in the military to the foundations of her education she received in Dublin. She attended Washington Street Elementary School. "We were challenged to do our best," Pinckney said. "Mrs. Brinson was one of my favorite teachers. She was like a mother to many of us. We were put into groups, A,B,C and D. You didn't want to be in the D group," she continued. She was in the A group and remained in the same classes with a core group of classmates for nearly ten years. Among the teachers General Pinckney remembered the most were Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Crews, Bonnese Brower, Ernest Wade, Martha Myers and her principal, Charles W. Manning, Sr.

A member of the Finance Corps, the General credits Mrs. Myers for giving her the basic foundations of understanding, and actually loving math. It was that love of math that led her into the Finance Corps. Today, she is the only minority Finance Corps Officer in the history of the United States Army to be commissioned as a general officer. Brenda's life changed dramatically in the summer of 1970. In an effort to promote harmony between the races, Federal courts ordered that Dublin High School and Oconee High School be merged. Brenda and hundreds of her classmates and friends were ripped away from their beloved Oconee High School. It was the only school they had ever known. Bused or transported all the way across town, Brenda and the other students at Oconee had a difficult time in the transition. There were scared and naturally, just angry. As I look back on those days from the other side of the tracks, these students were the trailblazers of their day.

It was these students who entered a new world and made it easier for those who came from behind. It was one of the darkest days in the history of Dublin High School. An early morning pep rally was going on in the front of the school. Suddenly a rock, reported a chunk of concrete left lying by a forgetful contractor, appeared to come from where the black students were standing. It struck a white cheerleader and then as they say, "all Hell broke loose." All students in the school were sent home. The football game went on that night, but without the band. Many of the black students were put on buses and sent back home. As Belinda boarded the bus, a bee crawled under her bright yellow clothes and stung her, prompting her to say "even the insects are against us." When I talked to the General for the first time, I told her that I was there that dark day and that we have overcome most of those differences which so bitterly divided us thirty seven years ago. She smiled.

Brenda transferred to East Laurens High School where she graduated with honors in 1972. Belinda attended Clark College in Atlanta and studied medical technology. She failed to realize that in her senior year she would have to transfer to Emory University to complete her degree. Her tuition costs were going to double. She did transfer to the Medical College of Georgia, but when she was only twelve credit hours shy of a degree, circumstances led to her quitting college. "It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me," reasoned General Pinckney. Frustrated and disappointed at how she was forced out of school, Belinda promised herself that she would never quit anything ever again.

A career in the military was an early apparent option. Her oldest brother was an Army paratrooper and Vietnam veteran and her next brother, a Marine and also a Vietnam veteran. Her older sister joined the Navy. So Brenda, looking for something more out of life, enlisted as a private first class in the Army in 1976. Older than most other members of her rank, Private Higdon was quickly put into leadership positions. "The Army exposed me to reality early in my life and made me feel good," said Pinckney who believed she could make the army a career. It wasn't long before Private Higdon looked around at the non-commissioned officers and how they handled soldiers. She said to herself, " I can do that."

So she enlisted in Officer Candidate School in 1978 and graduated the following year. It was then, more than two decades ago, that she began her goal to look after soldiers, the regular men and women of the Army. The transition from an enlisted soldier to an officer was a daunting task. Pinckney relied on the lessons she learned in school to guide her through the difficult tasks ahead. She sought out role models to learn from, much like she had at Washington Street and Oconee High schools. The army placed her in a position to advance, but like her parents, the young officer wasn't looking for any handouts. Determined and highly independent, Pinckney took advantage of every opportunity to advance up the chain of command.

"Initially, it was hard for me to transition from being an enlisted soldier to an officer because, first of all, I only had two-plus years in the military as a PFC and specialist. Secondly, other than my training in OCS, no one had really sat me down and talked to me about 'officer ship.' The expectations are much greater. I was no longer only responsible for my actions, but for the welfare of my subordinates, too," Pinckney said. General Pinckney has demonstrated her ability to succeed at all levels. Early in her life, Bonnese Thomas McLain, one of her favorite teachers, noticed something special in Brenda. "Brenda and a small group of kids would meet me around 7:00 a.m. nearly every morning wanting to make the extra effort to learn more math," Mrs. McLain said.

After she entered the army, Belinda Pinckney continued to strive toward educational excellence. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at the University of Maryland, a Master of Public Administration degree in Financial Management at Golden State University, and a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

During her long and successful military career, General Pinckney has served as a Congressional Appropriations Officer, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller); Principal Deputy Director/Army Element Commander, Defense Finance and Accounting Service; Brigade Commander, 266th Finance Command and US Army Europe Staff Finance and Accounting Officer, Heidelberg, Germany; Battalion Commander, Training Support Battalion; Soldier Support Institute, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller); Budget Analyst, Technology Management Office, Office of the Chief of Staff; and Company Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 266th Finance Command.

In September 2004, Colonel Belinda Pinckney was nominated by the Army to become a general. She was the first woman in the history of the Army Finance Corps to be promoted to a general officer and the first ever person to be nominated from the comptroller field. Her first major assignment was as the Deputy Director, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which is the largest finance and accounting operation in the world, paying more than 5. 9 million people, processing 12.3 million invoices and disbursing more than four hundred and fifty thousand dollars in congressional appropriations.

General Pinckney's military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit medals, six Meritorious Service Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff Badge and the General Staff Identification Badge. As the general begins her thirty second year in the military, she is as committed as ever to set the bar for all military women to come.

In 2001, Pinckney was the first African-American woman to be inducted in the Officer Candidate School's Hall of Fame. She is one of only two African American generals and one of only a dozen or so female generals in the United States Army. "We need to continue to tell the stories, so that every generation will know and learn from these stories because we as a country are not particularly proud of some of this history,"she noted; "We do not want to repeat the bad history, and we want to tell the stories of the good history."

An advocate of women's rights, General Pinckney acknowledges the outstanding accomplishments of women in the military saying "Many contributions of women have gone unrecognized, the stories of their struggles and triumphs remain untold" General Pinckney recognizes the importance of their accomplishments but also realizes the tendency to take them for granted. She believes it is important to pass along the stories so that succeeding generations will know and grow from them.

As the first woman to head the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, General Pinckney has many sleepless nights. She sees no soon end to the war and worries constantly about the families of the soldiers serving in the Middle East and around the world. She often visits with wounded soldiers and their families in Washington's Walter Reed Hospital. The General seeks to make life easier for the families with the limited resources she has at her disposal.

Just thirty-six hours after she addressed a reunion of her fellow alumni of Oconee High School, General Pinckney boarded a plane bound for Houston, Texas and another funeral, another day of comforting the anguished with dignity and honor, all the time knowing that she is serving her nation proudly and setting an example for women and minority officers in the future. With a legacy of education, leadership and old-fashioned values she learned in the schools, churches and homes of Dublin and Laurens County, General Belinda "Brenda" Higdon Pinckney is bound for greater things to come in her Army career. It is with great honor that I, on behalf of all of the people of Laurens County and the United States of America, salute our very own hometown hero for a job well done as she seeks to better the lives of her soldiers and their families.

THE WAR OF THE WORMS


The worms were coming! The worms were coming!




To some, the sight of a wriggling, writhing, wormy caterpillar is a wondrous event in nature's metamorphosis. To others, like the farmer, who sees his life-sustaining, family- feeding, bill-paying crops devoured in front of his very own eyes by legions of this loathsome larvae, it was an abhorrent abomination.

Farmers in Laurens County and southern Georgia had already heard of the voracious armyworm. They were used to dealing with all ranks of pesky, pernicious pests which threatened their crops. Dire forecasts of a weevil invasion had been heard for years.

But this time, in the summer of 1912, it was war.

That spring, W. D. Hunter, in charge of all field crop investigations in the South, warned of the dire consequences to come. Despite the fact that all evidence to that point indicated that the abnormally harsh temperatures of the previous winter had all but destroyed the moths, Hunter expected another invasion emerging, perhaps from South America.

The initial ground invasion was launched by the dreaded legion of the Spodoptera frugiperda. J.D. Williams, an enterprising, veteran farmer of Bulloch County, was hoping that 1912 was going to be another banner year for his cotton and corn crops. On a Sunday afternoon, in the last week of spring, Williams was out in his cornfield, some three miles from Metter, when he discovered the presence of thousands of creeping caterpillars crawling up and down his immature corn stalks.

"The field looks as if no corn had been planted there save for the young stalks lying on the ground," Williams reported on Tuesday. The worm, which cuts off the corn stalk at the bottom, destroyed nearly 50 acres of corn, which was rivaling cotton as the main cash crop.

Alarms were broadcast to the region's farmers. who immediately instituted frequent inspections of their plants. The invading army moved to the Ohoopee District of Toombs County, where they, with their mandibles mashing everything in sight, devoured the entire 20-acre cotton field of R.B. Cowart in a single, profit-erasing day.

Lawson E. Brown, state president of the Farmers Union, sent out the word far and wide of how to attack the writhing larvae. He told farmers to dig a row between the plants. When the worms crawled into the row, the farmer would drag a log down the row and bury them. Another method was to apply a mixture of Paris Green and flour and sift it onto the plants. More than 100,00o circulars were sent out to farmers around the state detailing how to deal with the invading larvae.

By the end of June, State Entomologist, E. Leo Worsham, began to report that Georgia farmers were winning the battle, although massive damages were inflicted in and around Thomasville, Tifton, Baxley and Hazlehurst. Worsham thought, at best, the cotton crop would be about two-thirds of the normal yield. By the end of June, reports of widespread devastation were coming out of Central Georgia in Bibb and Houston counties.

"Never before in the history of Georgia has a pest of this nature been checked so quickly," contended Worsham, who credited the farmers of the state and the work of his office in eradicating the enemy.

Worsham's back patting didn't bring a complete halt to the armyworm's offensive actions. Terrell County farmers suffered considerable damages. Ravenous armyworms destroyed Sumter County's entire and critically vital melon crop. One innocent lad in Putnam County brought a big jar full of the havoc-reeking creatures to a farmer, not even knowing of their dangerous proclivities.

By mid-July, the worms were infiltrating the growing fields of Baldwin, Greene and Putnam counties. Even the hay fields were not immune to attack. Congress was considering Federal aid to fight the onslaught.

As reports were published of attacks closer to Dublin, cautious Laurens County farmers banded together and did not wait on their national government to take action. More than 6,000 pounds of Paris Green was purchased at a cost of nearly $800.00. A committee was formed to sell the chemical mixture to local drug stores, which couldn't afford to carry that much poison in stock. Reports of wide spread infestation in the county were coming in during July.

On the negative side, Paris Green is a copper-based, highly toxic compound, first used to kill rats in the sewers of Paris, France. When used as a pesticide, Paris Green often killed the grass and trees where it was applied. So much for any organic corn eaters.

Congress appropriated a token amount of $25,000.00 and even sent a Federal expert, Dr. W.F. Webster, to the South to examine the problem.

But, W.W. Kicklighter, a farmer from Groveland, Georgia, wrote a bold letter in red ink to the United States Congress. In a simple-termed letter, Kicklighter respectfully asked that he be given a check for the $25,000.00 appropriated to get rid of the army worms.

He explained it to the politicians like this, "I had ten acres of corn and the armyworms had just started in." I drove my turkeys into the field and they ate the armyworms up in two days," wrote Kicklighter, who went on to proclaim that if he had not turned out his turkeys into his cornfield that he would have lost 500 bushels to the pesky varmints. Kicklighter's reward never came.

J.R. Dixon, of Parrish, Bulloch County, Georgia, too saw first hand the neutralizing force of his turkeys. He turned a flock of them into his field and at once they began to seek out and devour every wiggling worm they saw. Dixon scurried all around the county, borrowing turkeys to aid in his defense of his 20-acre corn field.

The idea of using turkeys to eat the caterpillars was nothing knew. Thomas Affleck had published the same and his very own theory in a widely published letter back in 1846.

At the 66th annual convention of the Georgia Agricultural Society, held on August 14 and 15 in Dublin, E.R. Worsham gave a belated speech on the eradication of the army worm, which was finally coming under the control of Georgia farmers. Worsham then began to supervise the state tax payer paid funding of thousands of pounds of powdered arsenate to finally eradicate the thoroughly dreaded Lepidoptera

The war of the worms was soon won by the farmers of the South. The same could not be said for the war against the boll weevil, which followed on a second front and almost singlehandedly, weather and economic conditions excepted, wiped out most of the cotton crop in Georgia in the mid 1910s, sending agricultural communities around the state into a Great Depression more than a dozen years before the Stock Market Crash in 1929.


















Monday, July 16, 2012

HERE COMES THE PRESS


The Weekly Press Association Converges on Dublin


It was another hot July week when 200 or more members and guests of the Georgia Press Association descended on Dublin, Georgia in 1912. It was during that pinnacle year in the growth of Dublin as a major city in Georgia that the "Emerald City" hosted eight state wide gatherings. Laurens County, one of the top seven counties in the state in population and with its central location, the city of Dublin, with all of its railroads and fine amenities was the ideal place to hold a meeting.

It was during the year 1878 when the Dublin Gazette was first published, giving the county its first weekly paper. Over the next quarter of a century, newspapers would come and go. In the year 1912, a year when Dublin and Laurens County had reached the pinnacle of their growth and economic development, Dublin was home to two weeklies, or semi- weeklies, the Dublin Courier and the Laurens Herald. A year later, the two papers would merge to form the Dublin Courier Herald, one of the first dailies outside of a major metropolitan area in Georgia.

The members of the Fourth Estate, as newspapermen were first dubbed by British philosopher, Edmund Burke, came to salute and honor their own and hear the finest and the best speakers, who spoke on a variety of topics relating to the present state of the newspaper business aswell as its future. Any discussion of news, especially in a presidential election year, revolved around politics. The year 1912, which pitted Republicans, Wm. Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, against Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, was no exception.

The participants rolled into town on a special M.D. & S. train on July 15th. Anyone who had a car, remember it was 1912, was invited to meet the 6:00 o'clock p.m. train at the depot to give rides to the out of town guests to their assigned homes around the city. The people of Dublin had done this all before. As they had done in 1899, every factory whistle wailed upon the train's arrival.

Association President, Claud M. Methvin, called the first meeting of the 26th annual convention to order later that evening in the Dublin City School Auditorium. Methvin, editor of the Eastman Times Journal was married to the former Miss Madge Hilburn, of Dublin. Mrs. Methvin became an exceedingly successful editor on her own, earning a place in the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1994.

Dublin's perpetually popular Mayor, E.R. Orr, and Judge John S. Adams, one of the many smart legal minds in Dublin, welcomed the guests to Dublin. W.T. Anderson, the legendary editor of the Macon Telegraph and one of the initial inductees into Georgia's newspaper hall of fame responded on behalf of the association.

After J.C. Williams reminisced about the 1899 meeting in Dublin, editor Frank Lawson gave an interesting talk, "From Railroading to Journalism." Lawson, then the editor of the Laurens Herald and later the Dublin Courier-Herald, began his business career as a lowly railroad clerk and ended it as one of the state's most respected editors.

Pleasant A. Stovall, (LEFT) the statesmanlike founder of the Savannah Evening Press and a former editor of the Augusta Chronicle, and an initial 1931 inductee in the Georgia Newspaper of Fame, gave the most highly acclaimed speech of the night. Stovall saluted the small town journalists by advising them to follow the exemplary procedures of the New York World. Just a year after appearing in Dublin, Stovall was appointed by his childhood friend, Woodrow Wilson, as the United States Ambassador to Switzerland, a position in which he served in until the end of World War I.

At the end of the speeches, Mrs. T.H. Smith and Mrs. Holt Skelly sang, accompanied by Miss Mary Hicks on the piano. To conclude the musical presentation, Miss Ruth Oppenheim, of Atlanta, performed several operatic arias.

After a morning session of quote, "interesting" papers, the whole congregation of conventioneers boarded a Wrightsville and Tennille train for a picnic at Idylwild, the railroad's resort on the Big Ohoopee River, southwest of Wrightsville. There they enjoyed a fine barbecue, prepared by experienced Dublin barbecue artists, Peter Twitty, William Tindol and F.C. Tindol, a fish fry and a speech by Cedartown Standard Editor, W.S. Coleman. The originally planned and usual visitor Oconee river boat ride down to Well Springs was canceled when a ban on passengers on freight boats was instituted after the sinking of the Titanic some three months earlier.

After another filling feast, the group returned to Dublin for one final meeting. W.W. Robinson, opened his new hardware store (which became the Ritz Theater two decades later) on West Jackson Street in what was described as "the most brilliant of its kind ever held in the state." In justifying that often quoted praise, W.T. Anderson told the assembled multitude that the affair wasn't equaled by a ten-dollar a plate banquet that he recently attended at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Rev. W.A. Talieferro, of the First Baptist Church, served as the toastmaster of the evening's festivities. R.M. Martin, the head of the newly constituted Chamber of Commerce, spoke of "Hot Air and the Press" in the first toast of the evening. Rev. Talieferro kept every toaster on time (a three minute limit) during the festivities.

Dublin attorney and political afficionado, G.H. Williams, spoke of politics and the press. Peter S. Twitty, Jr., who would later become Mayor of Dublin and Georgia's Game and Fish Commissioner, preached to the choir on the subject of the returns of advertising in the newspaper business. Dublin attorney and future Superior Court Judge and U.S. Congressman, W.W. Larsen, spoke of his experiences as the Governor's Secretary.

Returning to Dublin that week was Ernest Camp, former editor of the Dublin Times, and a 1962 inductee in the state's newspaper Hall of Fame. Possibly present was Nora Lawrence Smith, a 26-year-old native of Dodge County and editor of the Wiregrass Farmer and the Hall of Fame's first female inductee. Attending the convention were; William G. Sutive (Savannah Evening Press - 1942 inductee,) Pleasant T. McCutchen (Franklin News) and Theron Shope (Dalton Citizen,) 1966 inductees, William Shackleford (Oglethorpe Echo-1968 inductee,) Albert S. Hardy (Gainesville News-1956 inductee,) James C. Williams (Greensborough Herald Journal-1944 inductee) and Louis Morris (Hartwell Sun-1956 inductee.)

During a short business meeting on Wednesday morning. C.M. Methvin was reelected as the head of the organization. R.Y. Beckham of the Laurens County Herald was elected as the association's 2nd Vice President.

Hal M. Stanley (LEFT) assumed the role as editor of the Dublin Gazette, Laurens County's first weekly newspaper in 1890. Seven years later, Stanley and brother Vivian joined to establish the Dublin Courier. Hal Stanley involved himself in the inner workings of the Georgia Press Association, serving as its President from 1907 to 1909 and as its executive secretary for three decades, all of this in addition to a mirror role as the Executive Secretary of the Weekly Association. For the last five years of his life, Stanley was honored with the title of Secretary Emeritus. Stanley and Telegraph editor, W.T. Anderson, joined Stovall as the three initial members of the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame who were present at the gathering.

After yet another grand meal, the members of the association caught a train for the coast for two days of surf, sun, fun and fishing. But, it was during that showery, somewhat mild July week, a hundred years ago that a baker's dozen of the finest journalists in Georgia history gathered in the Emerald City for three days of fine dining, great speeches and all around fun.







SANTA ISABEL DE UTINAHICA


Mission For A Mission


Many people might give credit to General James Edward Ogelthorpe as the founder of Georgia. In a sense they are right, but three centuries before Ogelthorpe began to plan his mission to establish a colony in North America, Spanish explorers were already venturing along the coast of Georgia in search of fertile and lucrative lands in what we now know as Georgia. Beginning with Lucas Vasquez de Allyon and his visitation of the southeastern coast from St. Catherine's Island to the mouth of the Santee River in North Carolina in 1522, Spanish adventurers and missionaries began to establish coastal missions to bring Christianity to the "New World" and to its native inhabitants.

For the last two years, archaeologists, anthropologists and volunteer novices have been searching through the woods of lower Telfair County, Georgia in search of Santa Isabel de Utinahica, thought to have been one of the earliest missions into east Central Georgia. The quest, under the sponsorship of Fernbank Science Center, is being directed to a bluff near Jacksonville, the ancient capital of Telfair County. Located some twenty-two crow fly miles from "The Forks," where the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers converge to form the mighty Altamaha River, the mission was thought to have been a remote outpost during the second and third decades of the 17th Century.

In the summer of 2006, a team of archaeologists under the direction of Dr. Dennis Blanton, curator of Fernbank's Department of Native American Archaeology, began exploring the high bluffs along the Ocmulgee, long suspected to be the sites of Native Americans who inhabited the area for millennia before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s. At the request of Frankie Snow of Douglas, Georgia, who knows the land of South Georgia more than most of us know our own backyards, Blanton, a native of Alma, Georgia, began his quest to finally establish the location of a permanent mission near "The Forks."

The first known Spaniard to travel to the area was a Franciscan missionary, who traveled north from St. Augustine in 1616. Most experts agree that others may have previously come to the area, or possibly even later. The key goal of the mission is to find the church itself along with other buildings to support its operation.

Of the more exciting finds were a hatchet blade and a glass beads, believed by Dr. Blanton to be made between 1520 and 1560 in Venice, Italy. "If the beads were vintage to the time they were deposited, their presence could suggest that the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, or at least some of his patrolling soldiers, may have come to the area during their exploration of the Georgia interior in 1540. Additionally, Blanton's team found iron tools, Spanish pottery shards and pipe pieces, as well as pieces of marine shells and animal bones. Among the found artifacts are dirt dauber nests, which strongly suggest the presence of some type of structure," he added.

Surprised at what has been found so far, Dr. Blanton commented, "The most exciting result is evidence for much earlier, pre-mission Spanish activity on the lower Ocmulgee. Conventional wisdom has it that the early exploration of our state before 1550 was confined to either the coast or to areas farther west and north. What we are seeing rather serendipitously may be challenging those notions." Most of the Spanish artifacts we are seeing very obviously date to the first half of the sixteenth century. What I'm referring to are glass beads and iron tools. While we have only a small number all told it is fast becoming the largest collection of such things from any archaeological site in Georgia."

Blanton postulates, "The most plausible source for the pre-1550 artifacts would be Hernando de Soto . An earlier generation of scholars was comfortable with proposals that he crossed the Ocmulgee in the general vicinity of our project area. Over the last 25 years, however, there is a new interpretation of the available evidence that puts Soto's crossing of the Ocmulgee at Macon. A second suggestion is that we have material in Telfair County that originated with the failed colony of Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon (1526). Potentially the artifacts we are finding were pilfered and traded to the interior from the abandoned coastal colony, or perhaps they were carried inland by a desperate band of survivors. In any case, we are not yet in a position to be definitive about the source. But, regardless, the results are telling us things we didn't know or they are leading us to ask questions we didn't know to ask before about 18 months ago."

Dr. Blanton excitedly said, "We discovered a buried wetland deposit consisting of peaty soil about 15 feet below the modern flood plain surface. Radiocarbon dates tell us that the wetland was created 38,000 34,000 years ago. What's astounding about the contents of the peaty soil is the state of preservation of plant material like pollen grains, seeds, twigs, leaves, logs, etc. In short, through proper analysis, we'll have an unprecedented window on southeastern Georgia's environment from a time that is very poorly known. Let's call it a geological time capsule!"

"More excavations are planned, but there is no rush. Archaeology is a very tedious and painstaking process. "In general, through archaeology, we are seeking to fill in the many and often vast gaps that traditional historical records leave when it comes to the Spanish colonial story of southeastern Georgia. We set out initially to expand what we know about mission Santa Isabel de Utinahica but, as is often the case, the archaeological path has taken some interesting turns," Blanton said.

"We're in this for the long haul. What that means precisely is anybody's guess. At the very least I want to bring some closure to the early exploration story, and then get back to the mission search. The latter could take years in its own right. But maybe our luck will hold out and we'll close in on it sooner rather than later. We will be back on and off all year but the next formal program will be organized for May-July 2008. The public part of the program is generally limited to June," Dr. Blanton added.

Blanton encourages anyone to enroll in the program, so long as they are of high school age or older. The public program in June consists of four one-week sessions that allow participants a chance to work alongside professional archaeologists. There is a modest fee for participation. A formal announcement will be issued soon, and it should also be on the Fernbank Museum of Natural History web site in a month or so.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

JAKE WEBB


Citizen Soldier


Jake Webb woke up this morning in the comfort of his Bay Springs Road home, a modest brick house tucked in a grove of once bountiful pecan trees. Barney, Webb’s long-eared dog and trusted sentinel, lies on guard duty near the front door. Eager to bark at a stranger, Barney will allow you to scratch his chest once he sees that you are his friend. Songbirds fly in and out of the bird feeders at the back door. Webb’s home is just up the ridge from the old family home, which was built on the lands of his ancestor John Stewart. It is a peaceful place, wonderfully serene, but it stands in striking contrast to the place where Jake Webb was fifty seven years ago today. Jake Webb, a private in C Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division jumped out of a Higgins boat about six-thirty in the morning on Utah Beach on the coast of Normandy, France. It was D-Day, June 6, 1944. Webb was right smack dab in the middle of the greatest invasion in the history of the world.



Jasper “Jake” G. Webb, Jr. was born on November 9, 1920 in the home of his parents, Jasper G. Webb, Sr. and Lizzie Stewart. Jake attended Pine Grove School just down the road near Thomas Chapel Methodist Church. Times were tough. The elder Webb share cropped farms a good piece away from the family home. Jake worked on the farm. His father planted corn and cotton and raised some cattle and turkeys. The junior Webb tried his hand at farming, but he decided to travel to Tybee Island, where he joined the United States Army on June 23, 1939. In the summer and fall of 1939, Webb underwent intensive basic training at Fort Screven in Savannah and Fort Jackson in South Carolina. During 1940, when war with Germany seemed eminent, Webb participated in war game maneuvers in Louisiana. Near the end of 1940, his unit was moved to Fort Benning and re-activated as the 4th Infantry Division, which was composed of the 8th Regiment from Georgia, the 12th Regiment from Michigan, and the 22nd Regiment of Alabama. In April of 1941, Webb was ordered to detached service, driving officers in Louisiana and Texas in such places as Fort Sam Houston and Fort Bliss. The army was conducting training exercises in the hot Texas sun. Webb saw some of the last activities of the horse cavalry. In the summer of 1941, Webb was sent to Camp Blanding, Florida for a while and then to South and North Carolina for even more maneuvers. He returned to Camp Blanding, only to see the 4th Division de-activated. Webb’s unit was sent back to Fort Benning. Webb was between the barracks and the mess hall when the news of the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor was announced.



In 1942, the division was transferred to Camp Gordon near Augusta. The following year they were sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey. In September of 1943, Webb and the men boarded a train bound to Camp Gordon Johnston on the Gulf Coast of Florida, below Tallahassee. Camp Johnston was an amphibious training base. Webb and the men were training for an invasion of the European coast line, they just didn’t know where. Their training was completed in December of 1943, and the division was sent back to Fort Jackson, South Carolina by Christmas. Two of Jake’s brothers served their country. Ashley served in Africa. James was an airplane mechanic with the Marine Corps. Right after New Year’s Day, Webb was sent to Camp Kilmer, a staging area just outside of New York. On January 6, 1944, the division boarded a ship bounded for England. It was no pleasure cruise. German U-Boats were constant threats to the safety of the thousands of men aboard the ship. The division arrived in Liverpool and intensely trained for the coming invasion. The men boarded ships which moved out into the English Channel and turned back using the English coastline to practice for the real thing. “We knew we were going to be in some kind of invasion,” Webb said. “We didn’t even know we were going to invade till probably about June 6th, when we started crossing the Channel,” Webb remembered. Security was tight. Webb related an incident which was kept top secret. “We had been in Slopton Seals training in the English Channel which was kept secret. A German submarine hit one of the LSTs and sunk it. We were lucky it wasn’t the one I was on. We lost those men and a lot of tanks. It was going to support us on D-Day. That happed about April or May, a month or so before the invasion,” Webb said.



In the days before the invasion, Webb recalled, “Before we left, General Eisenhower came and talked to us. He told us what we had to do. He promised the first unit that made it to Paris or Berlin would be treated to champagne. British General Montgomery was much more serious. He had fought the Germans in North Africa. He didn’t want us to take any prisoners - basically he told us that the only good German was a dead German. I liked England. The food was good, especially the fish and chips. There were blackouts at night. We had to go into dark entrances to get inside the pubs to eat. While we were camped one night the Germans bombed us,” Webb said.



The 4th Division boarded ships on the night of June 5th, the original date for the invasion, which had to be postponed because of poor weather. “We didn’t know it at the time, but I found out later that there were thirty six U-Boats in the channel that night, but they didn’t disrupt the invasion and never got near the beaches,” Webb recalled. About five o’clock on the morning of June 6th, the men of Company C had breakfast. The men attended a briefing session where they were given their objectives and shown maps of their destination, Utah Beach. His platoon was called to climb down the rope ladders to board the Higgins boats. The ship had circled around for about an hour, and the seas were pretty rough; but Webb never got sick. When his buddies did, Jake just turned his head.



Webb vividly remembers the landing, “The front gate came down and we hit the beach. I don’t remember having any time to worry about what was about to happen. We had been well trained, and we simply moved out. When we landed, we didn’t know the beach was mined. Someone yelled “mines”! We were lucky. The water was only knee-deep and I waded on to the beach. It wasn’t like Omaha Beach, where so many of our men drowned with the weight of their equipment pulling them down. I followed the tracks of the man who was out in front of me. Just as we were setting foot on solid ground, German artillery rounds began firing on our platoon which was in the first wave to hit the beach. The German 88mm guns were pounding the beach and the water. Our platoon sergeant hollered, ‘Get going - they are zeroing in on us”! I turned around, and he was waving to us to get going and fast. About that time a round hit near the sergeant. A piece of shrapnel struck the sergeant’s throat. He managed to climb into a shell crater to wait on aid from the medics. I didn’t see him for a while, but he did return to our company when we were in Germany. We made it about a half mile inland that day. Our mission was to link up with the paratroopers who had jumped behind the German lines the night before.”



The 8th Regiment was ordered to link up with elements of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions who had jumped into the moonless skies of Normandy in the early morning hours. The paratroopers often missed their drop zones, landing in trees, water, and in plain sight of German soldiers. “We met up with the airborne - that’s who Kelso was with,” Webb said in reference to Lt. Kelso Horne, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and a resident of Laurens County. Lt Horne descended from Francis E. Flanders, whose place was just up the Snell’s Bridge Road from the Stewart place. The other two regiments were assigned to secure the beach head.



It was hazardous duty - making patrols into unchartered enemy territory. On June 10th, Jake was assigned to a patrol with five or six other men. Jake carried a B.A.R., a Browning automatic rifle. The B.A.R. weighed twenty one pounds, so heavy that the army assigned a second man to help carry the ammunition and the rifle itself at times. The patrol ran into a group of Germans. The company captain and Webb’s assistant, Rocco DiCristino of New York, were killed. Webb carried Rocco’s lifeless body back to the lines. To this day, Jake wishes that he could talk to Rocco’s folks.



Five days later on June 15th, Webb was assigned to another patrol. The patrol came up to a road, the ultimate nightmare to any reconnoiter. The first two men crossed the road with no problems. Webb was the next to cross. Just as he moved out into the road, a sniper’s shot rang out. The camouflaged sniper apparently had instructions to fire at critical elements of the enemy, whether it be an officer or a B.A.R. rifleman. The round struck Jake in the right cheek, then in the side of his neck, narrowly missing a vein. Jake pulled himself up and walked back to find a medic, who sent him back to the command post. The medics patched him up with a large bandage and put him on stretcher mounted on a jeep, which took him back to the beach, He was put on an L.S.T., which had been converted into a hospital ship. Jake was taken back to an English hospital, where he remained until he rejoined the company on July 25th.



“I was coming back up to the line on July 25th, when about 1,800 bombers came in and bombed Saint Lo for the breakthrough onto Paris,” Jake remembered. Jake also remembered being two or three or miles away from the bomb zone and feeling his six by six truck vibrating. “After that, we started going pretty good into Paris. We were rolling in. The Germans were retreating a lot then. We got on trucks and went on into Paris. We liberated Paris on August 25, 1944.” said Jake. While he was in Paris, Jake was assigned to a squad to guard a bridge over the Seine River. After a few days, the word came that it was time to move out, on to Germany.



Their eventual destination was the Heurtgen Forest, a hellish, dark, and dense forest where many good men died. His old platoon sergeant, who had been wounded in the first few minutes of the landing at Utah Beach, was back with the platoon then. Jake and his unit moved through an area of pine trees and broom straw on December 1st. Jake and the men knew the Germans were close by. The sergeant ordered Jake “to move around to the right flank”. When he got about half way up, a German with a machine pistol opened up on Jake, striking him in the chin. Whatever hit him came out under his throat. Jake fell to his knees. For the second time, he was out of the war, or least temporarily. Jake returned to the hospital, this time for two and one half months. He missed all of the horror of the Battle of the Bulge, which would begin two weeks later on December 16th.



Jake returned to his company in mid-February of 1945. One night Jake’s platoon was moving into a German town. Right out in the middle of the road, a German tank was burning. The men were crawling along a roadside ditch when the tank exploded. The tank turret flew into the air and landed on the platoon leader, who was ten to fifteen yards in front of Jake. A small piece of the tank hit Jake in his field jacket. Once again, Jake narrowly avoided being killed. The lieutenant wasn’t so lucky. He was killed instantly.



Jake spent the rest of March and April moving rapidly through the German countryside. On May 8th, Jake’s company was 10 or 15 miles outside of Munich, Germany. They were to rest for a few days and then were scheduled to move out toward their next objective. Someone had a radio on in one of the trucks parked beside the road. The news of the German surrender came in over the radio. The men cheered and cried, both at the same time. Jake and some of his buddies slipped off to see that prison camp at Dachau that everyone was talking about. There was a quarantine sign at the gate. No one was allowed to go in. Jake saw the furnaces and the smoke stacks where the Germans cremated the interned Jews. “We saw the boxcars that were loaded with bodies inside. I didn’t see any bodies, but I did see what appeared to be a leg sticking out of one of those boxcars,” Jake said. “It was an awful thing,” Webb continued.



Jake had built up a lot of service points in addition to his two wounds. This allowed him to be discharged. Many infantrymen knew that there was still a war going on over in the Pacific, and that in case of an invasion they would be shipped half way around the world to start fighting all over again. On June 9, 1945, just over a year from the day he landed on Utah Beach, Jake departed LeHarve, France bound for the United States. He was stationed at Camp Shanks, New York. Jake took the first southbound train he could. He was almost home. On July 25, 1945, Webb was discharged from the Army at Fort McPherson near Atlanta. For Jake the war was over. His division, the 4th, suffered more casualties than any other division in the war. Out of the two hundred or so original members of his company, only twenty came back. Most of them had been wounded at least once, some twice, or even three times.



Jake went back to Savannah to get a job. A cousin with the Fire Department there got him a job with the police force. Jake re-enlisted in the army in 1946, back in the 4th Division. He was sent to Fort Benning and then to Fort Knox, Kentucky for armor training. In the first months of 1947, Jake volunteered to go back to Europe, but was instead sent to Korea, the worst country Webb had ever seen. Jake was assigned to work with Air Force officers. He kind of liked that work and transferred to the Air Force. He was sent to Kessler Field near Tampa. It was a good assignment and one which would change Jake’s life forever.



Jake Webb had been wounded in the head twice and survived. He was nearly killed another time. It was a miracle that he was still alive. But there was one more miracle left for Jake. One night a buddy called Jake and asked him to meet him at the local Moose Club. Jake showed up and walked into to the club. He looked everywhere, but his friend wasn’t around. He saw an older man and woman, sitting at a table with a young lady. It looked like his buddy wasn’t going to show, so he turned to walk out the door. As he was leaving, a young woman was coming in. Webb remembered she said, “Leaving so soon?” Jake told her what was happening. The lady asked Jake to come back in. She took Jake to the table where the young lady and the couple were sitting. The young lady was working in a real estate office and staying with her grandparents. She caught Jake’s eye and he caught her’s too. She took Jake to meet her grandparents. Jake Webb and Freddie Moran joined hands in marriage after a month or two and have been together ever since. Jake said that if he had left just a few seconds sooner, he would have never met Freddie, the love of his life.



Jake was assigned to Guam, where he served from 1949 to 1951. It was during that time when the Korean War started. Eventually, Freddie was allowed overseas to join him. The Webbs were transferred to Scott Field, Illinois for three years. In 1954, they returned to Georgia for an assignment at Warner Robins. In December of 1954, Jake was shipped back to Asia for duty in Japan, where he spent three years. The Webbs returned to the states for a tour of duty at Salina, Kansas before they returned to Tampa at McDill Air Force Base. On September 30, 1960,. Master Sergeant Jasper G. Webb retired from the Air Force. The Webbs lived in Tampa for a while before the family moved back to Laurens County, where Jake got a job at the V.A. Hospital. When a civil service job opening became available at the Federal Building, Jake took it. He retired in 1982.



For over forty years, this citizen, this soldier, served his country. Had he been born twenty years earlier, Jake Webb would have served in country in World War I. Had he been born eighty years earlier, Jake Webb would have picked up his rifle to defend his state in the War Between the States. Had he been born sixty years later, Jake Webb would today be standing guard somewhere, protecting our homes and everything that is precious to us.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

THE WOOLEN MILL



A New Beginning




Out of a desolate grove of once bountiful pecan trees on the banks of the Oconee River grew a complex of buildings which changed the face of life in Laurens County forever. On a cool St. Patrick's Day morning in 1947, bulldozers began clearing the site for the location of one of the most modern woolen mills in America. For six decades, the men and women of J.P. Stevens and Company and later Forstmann and Company went to work. With a pride unrivaled anywhere else in the community, these folks, our folks, produced the finest textile materials in the world. This is the story of the beginning of the "Woolen Mill," and its impact not only on the styles of our garments, but the styles of our lives. (

The construction of the Stevens mill in East Dublin was supervised by Colonel John Baum. In the year after the end of World War II, John Baum (LEFT)  was sent to survey cities in the South for the company's first mill outside of New England. Baum, a member of Georgia Tech's Baseball and Engineering Hall of Fame, oversaw every single element of the construction of the mill, which was completed in the fall of 1948. The owners of the company chose the location because of its proximity to the Oconee River and the assurance of abundant labor by local leaders. The local leaders weren't lying. Nearly two thousand two hundred applicants besieged the workers in the temporary employment office. By January 2, 1948 the applications were so voluminous that a notice was printed in the newspaper that no further applications would be taken.

The company knew that in order to succeed the workers, who had little or no industrial experience, would need to be trained to work the textile machinery before and after the plant was up and running. Six looms were shipped in and installed in a dairy barn. Walter Anderson oversaw the training program which began on August 18, 1947. Within a matter of seven weeks, the first twelve pieces of woven cloth were shipped from the training room. Production continued on a small scale until the plant became fully operational.

Baum wrote of his new employees " The attributes they have that outweigh their knowledge of textile manufacturing are their desire to learn, their educational background, their natural ability and their interest in the community and the organization that will mean so much to the economy of this community." Many workers yearned to learn more about their new job and volunteered to pay half the cost of correspondence courses while the company picked up the other half of the bill. Every applicant was carefully screened and given a physical examination before being considered for employment by the department supervisors.



Of the initial one hundred and sixty three employees hired, 58% percent were men and 42 percent were women. The average worker was white, male, and twenty-nine years old. He was a native Georgia Baptist who completed two years of high school. No one under 18 was hired and the oldest worker was a 60 year old woman. All trainees earned a starting salary of sixty cents per hour, with a dime an hour increase after a four-week training period. The production employees worked eight hours a day for six days a week, earning one full day of time and a half for Saturdays.

The highest salary paid to the most productive workers was a whopping $1.05 per hour. Six people, five men and one woman, made more than $70.00 a week.

Safety was a big concern in the mill. Each employee had it drilled into his mind the necessity of safety in the workplace. In the first year of operation no time was lost due to the sixteen minor accidents on the job.

Col. Baum's key personnel were his office manager Herbert C. Ervin; James E. Powell, Walter W. Anderson, Foster Blue, Milton Christie and Edwin Head, Jr. in the Gray Goods Department; Donald C. Johnston, (Of far left in group) C. Flannery Pope, Jr. and Duncan C. Weatherall in the Dyeing and Finishing Department and Plant Engineer Luther O. Swint. By the time the mill went into full operation, George P. McIntyre, John Sims and John A. Smith joined the staff. Though the key employees had technical training, absolutely none of them had any technical experience in the manufacture of woolen cloth. Each of them underwent rigorous training in other mills in the East, where they taught that quality and quantity were of the utmost importance.

At the end of the construction phase late in 1948, Col. Baum reported to the company that there were numerous problems that would need to be addressed in the coming months. The most critical of these was the transportation of materials into the plant and finished goods out. With utmost confidence in his employees and people of Laurens County, Baum concluded that after a careful study, a satisfactory solution would be found.

(Left: Don Johnston, presenting check to prize employee).

In January 1949 an open house was held and thousands came to see where thousands wanted to work and where only one in two were lucky enough to get a job. A second plant, named "The Nathaniel Plant," was opened in 1956. Named after the founder of the company, Captain Nat Stevens, the Nathaniel Plant manufactured yarn-dyed or patterned, woolen fabrics. By 1960, the Dublin Woolen Mills were ranked as the third most productive mills in the textile industry.

One of the unique features of the Dublin plant is the cornerstone. Fashioned from a piece of granite from Capt. Nat Stevens' mill in North Andover, Massachusetts, the corner stone bears the date of 1813-1947. The Dublin-Laurens Museum is now the repository of many items of Stevens and its predecessor, Forstmann and Company.

For decades men, women and children across the country and throughout the world wore coats, sport jackets, blazers, dresses, pants and hats made from cloth made right here in Laurens County. The champions of the Master's Golf Tournament donned green jackets made from Stevens' green cloth. Major league baseball players played in hats made in the mill. But J.P. Stevens and its Forstmann descendants was more than just a mill. It was a family - a family of dedicated and hard working employees who were a part of all of our lives. They were our families, friends and neighbors.



In 2007, after sixty years of operation, the mill is silent. But it is not forgotten. Thanks to the generosity of the plant managers, many of the items of memorabilia of the history of J.P. Stevens/Forstmann are now on display in the Dublin-Laurens Museum. Included in the collection are scrapbooks, photographs along with samples of the first woolen yarn, first bolt of woolen cloth and the last bolt of woolen cloth made at the Woolen Mill. The trowel used by company officials to lay the cornerstone in 1947 lies in a display case, also donated by the company. The public is cordially invited to visit the museum to view these items and many more which reflect the two hundred years of Laurens County's history.

MORE PHOTOS:

1952 FAMILY DAY







1954 FAMILY DAY











1956 FAMILY DAY









RIGHT: Uncle Ned Stripling