When my days are too long and the nights are all too short and deadlines approach with the speed of a tornadic cold front, I often have to scavenge through my files to find a story to bring to you week after week. And in this, my 850th week of writing "Pieces Of Our Past," I had to dash to my computer to pluck out a few snippets, you know "real pieces of our past," to fill my space. I hope you enjoy them.
THE NIGHT OF THE TWISTER - Rarely and fortunately does a strong tornado ever strike Laurens County. On April 30, 1953, little Glenn Register, the four year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Register of Dublin, was in Warner Robins. About dusk a powerful twister struck the city nearly leveling eight city blocks. Glenn was rushed to an Atlanta hospital but died on the way. The storm reeked havoc on an area mostly inhabited by Air Force personnel. When it was over, seventeen were dead and nearly four hundred and fifty were injured. Reuben Lindsey, principal of the elementary school, died as a result of a heart attack he suffered just before the storm. Dozens of the injured were brought by state troopers to the newly constructed Laurens County hospital. The city of Dublin sent four trucks to Warner Robins to help in the cleanup. Dublin Courier Herald, May 1, 1953, p. 1.
JACK OF CLUBS - Thomas Randolph Ramsay was born into one of the most prominent families in Laurens County. His father, Rev. W.S. Ramsay, was a colonel in the Confederate Army, a well known Baptist minister, and founder of our present school systems in Dublin and Laurens County. His Randolph family was one of Virginia's oldest and most famous families. His cousins included Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and Chief Justice John Marshall. By trade, he was a businessman involved in automobile sales, crate manufacturing, and a nursery and floral business. Ramsay, like his father, was active in civic affairs, perhaps more so than anyone else in the history of Laurens County. He was associated with nine fraternal and civic organizations. Ramsay was a Mason, Knight of Pythias, Odd Fellow, Elk, Kiwanian, Knight Templar, Shriner, Sportsman, and Rotarian. Laurens County History, Vol. 1, pp. 455-6.
SODA POP WITH A KICK - The weather was warming up. Folks needed to quench their thirsts on the warm spring days. A.H. Cowart, a member of the foreign colony, set up his drink stand on South Jefferson Street near the depot. Deputy Sheriff E.E. Clark noticed the large crowds which started gathering around Cowart's stand. The bottles, which appeared to be lemon soda, seemed to be selling well - too well. Upon further examination Deputy Clark discovered that the bottles did not contain lemon soda, but moonshine. Much to the dismay of the thirsty customers, Clark took Cowart and his stock to jail. Dublin Courier Herald, May 5, 1919, p. 1.
THE FIRST CONSUMER WATCHDOGS - Early in 1919 a new corporation was organized in Dublin. R.I. Stephens, C.P. Ennis, J.C. Moore, H.W. Nalley, and J.P. Tomlinson formed the Producers and Consumers Alliance of America. The goal of the organizers was to confer on all public questions and to inform the public. They also planned to inform the public on the conclusions of their conferences. The organization was a non- profit one and open only to those over sixteen with good morals. Dublin Courier Herald, Feb. 21, 1919, p. 5.
FIGHTING OVER THE AG SCHOOL - The competition was stiff. Dublin and Cochran were vying for the 12th District Agricultural College. Each congressional district in Georgia maintained a school to teach the young men of the district in the fundamentals of agricultural techniques. Cochran was initially awarded the school, but failed to live up to its promises. Gov. Dorsey opened the competition up again by asking for a re-submission of the bids. Dublin, backed by all members of the business community, submitted a strong bid. Dublin had five railroads and was the center of agricultural commerce in the region. The Dublin Committee headed by E.D. White, President of the Chamber, E.E. Street, M.H. Blackshear, and J.M. Finn promised to raise $95,000.00 within 60 days after the contract was awarded. Dublin promised 202.5 acres of land for farming, 13.5 acres of land for the campus, one 8 room brick college - valued at $40,000.00, and one 8 room frame dormitory - valued at $4,000.00. Additionally the city promised $25,000 in cash and free utilities for five years. Cochran promised an equal amount of land and free utilities. All of Dublin was shocked when the state awarded the school to Cochran. Dublin Courier Herald, Feb. 14, 1919, p.1, March 20, 1919, p. 1.
FREE THE TROUT - Fish naturally swim up stream. The men along the lower end of Turkey Creek knew that and knew that they could place traps in the creek preventing them from swimming up the stream. The men of northwestern Laurens County sought the help of the Georgia Legislature. On October 24, 1870 a law was passed directing the sheriffs of Laurens and Wilkinson counties to remove any traps or obstructions. Any officer failing to comply with the directive was subject to a fine up to five hundred dollars. Georgia Laws, 1870, p. 457.
THE GALLIMORE TRAIL - Before the first white men settled in our area, one man blazed a trail across the northwestern corner of Laurens County. The Gallimore Trail appears on the original survey of the land lots of the 22nd Land District. The trail originated east of Montrose at Turkey Creek where the the Old Montrose Road, also known as the Chappell School Road or County Road No. 435 crosses the creek. From the creek the road ran west along the Old Montrose Road crossing the Chappell Mill Road and passing north of Montrose and running into the current day Montrose-Allentown Road (Co. Road No. 388). The trail was likely named for the progenitor of the Gallimore family who established a mill along Turkey Creek in central Twiggs County. In 1811, citizens of Laurens County began the work of improving the trail to Bell Springs Road. Legal Records of Laurens County, 1833-1857, p. 17; Records of the Surveyor General of Georgia, 1807 Land Lottery, 22nd Land District, Lots 239, 243, 296,
BUCKEYE "SKEETERS" - Dr. Charles Hicks spent 25 years of his life observing the cases of malaria in the southeastern United States and especially in Laurens County. At the 52nd Convention of the Georgia Medical Association, Dr. Hicks, President of the Association, spoke to his fellow physicians on the subject of geology, mosquitos, and malaria. A line following a vein of limestone rock forms the dividing line between the occurrence of malaria cases. A line that runs from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to Texas runs through the center of the county striking the Oconee River near Dublin. The line is also characterized as dividing the red clay lands covered with oak and hickory from the light sandy soil lands filled with yellow pines. Dr. Hicks charted the occurrences of malaria which were confined to the area of cretaceous formation where wells were only 30 to 80 feet deep. Most of the cases of malaria were confined to the Buckeye District, while no permanent residents of Dublin ever reported a single case of the hemoglobic form of malaria. Dublin's water comes from 250 to 500 feet deep artesian wells. The mosquitos of the Buckeye District were of particular interest to Dr. Hicks. In the western part of the district plain and hemoglobinuric fever was found. In the eastern part only the plain type occurred. In the northern part both types were found, but in the south only the hemoglobinuric fever was found. Dr. Hicks found that many of the early settlers, especially the men along the river flats, died prematurely from malaria. Those persons living away from the rivers and streams seemed to have a longer life expectancy. Transactions of the Medical Association of Georgia, 1902, MAG, Atlanta, 1902, pp. 171-183.