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

Friday, October 31, 2014


Doctor, Lawyer and Judicial Chief

  Peter Early Love was a man of many accomplishments.  His life, albeit too short, was one of public service to his community and state.  This is the story of a Laurens County man and how he became  a leading citizen of antebellum Georgia.  During his two decades of public service, Love was a lawyer, solicitor, doctor, senator, representative, editor, mayor, judge and Congressman.

Peter Early Love was born on July 7, 1818 in Laurens County, Georgia.  His merchant father Amos Love, Clerk of the Superior Court of Laurens County, named him  for Governor Peter Early of Georgia, who was the first judge of Laurens County Superior Court.   His mother was the former Margaret James.   Peter had two sisters, Jane, who married General Eli Warren, and Mary Ann, who married Moses Guyton.   Educational opportunities in the area were virtually nonexistent.  So, Peter was home schooled by his parents and possibly by a live-in teacher.  At the age of eight, Peter had to face the first crisis of his life, the death of his father.  Margaret Love married Samuel Caldwell and the family moved from Laurens County.  Peter lived with his guardian and older brother-in-law General Eli Warren in Houston County.  Under the guidance of General Warren, Peter began to plan a career as a lawyer.  

Love matriculated at  Franklin College at the University of Georgia in 1834.  He left Athens in 1837 to pursue a career as a  doctor. After attending the Philadelphia College of Medicine, Dr. Love entered the medical field.      He first married Martha Stroud, who died shortly after their marriage.  He then married Mary Bracewell of Hawkinsville.  Dr. Love decided that the practice of medicine was not in his future.  

After a short stay in Houston County, Love moved to Thomasville in Thomas County.  Thomas County became the nucleus of legal and political activities of South Georgia.  In 1840, he served as a delegate to the Electoral College, voting in favor of William Henry Harrison.   Dr. Love was admitted to the practice of law by the Superior Court of Thomas County, Georgia. Among Love's fellow attorneys were James L. Seward, Archibald T. McIntyre and Augustin H. Hansell, all of whom moved from Middle Georgia to Thomasville.

Peter Love made his first venture into elective office in 1843 when he was elected Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit, which stretched from Laurens County to Charlton County in the southeastern corner of the state to Decatur County in the southwestern corner.  As Solicitor General, Love was charged with the responsibility of prosecuting criminal cases.  The large dimensions of the circuit required Love to be constantly on the road, appearing at least twice a year in each of the counties within the circuit.  He took office on November 11, 1843, replacing Augstin Hansell and served for four years.

After a year out of office, Love won the election as the Senator from the 12th District of Georgia  in 1849.  It was a time of immense political upheaval across the state and the nation.  Each southern state was faced with the question of secession or reaching a compromise by allowing new states to enter the Union free of slavery.  Love took the position of leaving the Union, a position not shared by the populace of Thomas County.  Though he was pro slavery, Love owned a small family of slaves in 1840.  By 1860, he had disposed of all of the 19 slaves which he had owned a decade before.  

During the decade of the 1850s, Love rose to the pinnacle of his life.  In 1852, he replaced Judge Hansell as Judge of the Southern Circuit which meant another return to the road.  He was elected in 1853 and again two and four years later.  Despite the rigors of his trial schedules, Judge Love was a leading citizen of Thomas County.  In 1856, he helped to organize a college for women, which eventually became known as Young's Female College.  Along with William H. Hail, he owned and edited the Wiregrass Reporter.    When it became apparent that the South was headed toward a military crisis with the North over the issue of state rights and slavery, many communities organized their own military companies.  As Captain Love, Peter was given the command of the Thomas Guards.  As if they were kindred spirits and going through parallel lives, Augstin Hansell was right there with Judge Love, serving as his first lieutenant. 

Judge Love, a popular judge throughout the state, sought higher inspirations.  In 1858, he resigned from the bench to conduct a successful campaign for a seat as a Congressman for the 1st Congressional District of Georgia replacing Congressman James L. Seward, a native of Dublin and his former law partner.  Judge Love returned to the bench for a brief time and remained there until he was scheduled to take office in the winter of 1859.  Near the end of his first term, Congressman Love addressed the Congress on the issue of slavery.  Love challenged his fellow congressmen to find a single sentence in the Bible which condemned slavery. In fact, he cited several passages which distinguished master and slave and proclaimed that the Bible provided guidelines for the regulation of slavery and therefore justified its existence.  

Differences between the North and South continued to diverge.  Congressman Love traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to attend a convention on the issue of secession from the Union.   He won reelection to Congress that fall.  But more importantly to Love and the nation as a whole, Republican Abraham Lincoln defeated a split ticket of three Democratic candidates. The Southern states held true to their promise and voted to secede from the United States to form the Confederate States of America.  On January 23, 1861, Congressman Love and his fellow Georgia congressional delegates resigned their seats and left Washington, D.C.  As one southern state after another adopted resolutions to leave the Union, war seemed imminent. 

Congressman Love still had a burning desire to serve the people of Thomas County.  In the summer of 1861, his fellow citizens elected him to represent them in the state legislature.  He served for two years during the early years of the War Between the States and was honored by his fellow colleagues, who named him Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives.  In 1863, he returned to Thomasville, where he was elected mayor.  

On November 8, 1866, at the relatively young age of forty-eight, Peter Early Love died.  He was buried in a family plot in the Old City Cemetery.     Peter had four  children. His sons Amos J. Love, a Confederate cavalry captain, and Peter Early Love, Jr., both died never having married.  He had two daughters, Mattie, who married Rev. Robert Harris and Margaret "Maggy," who married O.C. Hall.  The city of Thomasville permanently honored the memory of Congressman, Judge, Solicitor, Senator, Representative and Mayor Peter Early Love by naming one of the city's busiest thoroughfares "Love Street."  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


                      A Pomological Polymath

    Thomas McCall, one of Laurens County's most successful early settlers, was known as having many of many talents, or a "polymath," if you know the obscure synonym for the term.  McCall, a talented mathematician and surveyor, was known far and wide across theyoung nation of the United States of America as a celebrated vineyardist.

     Thomas McCall, son of James McCall and Janet Harris McCall, was born on March
30, 1765 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  At the age of six, Thomas and his family moved to South Carolina.   McCall served as a private  in the Colonial army as a member of Capt. Greene's Troup of Horses in Gen. Marion's Brigade.   His service to the new nation entitled him to a grant of land, which he took in Washington County in 1784.  

     Thomas, who possessed a great talent for mathematics and surveying, was appointed by the governor of Georgia as Assistant Surveyor General before his 20th birthday.  His first known survey was recorded in 1784.  For his services to the state, McCall received grants of lands along the eastern side of the Oconee River totaling more than 130,000 acres and eleven town lots in Brunswick.   The largest of his grants totaled 11,875 acres in Franklin County, which originally stretched from present day Oconee County to the South Carolina line.   McCall served as Surveyor General of Georgia from 1786-1795.  As Surveyor General, he found himself nearly embroiled in a controversy known as "The Pine Barren's Fraud," where unsuspecting northerners were granted, for a fee, thousands of acres of land in Montgomery County, which didn't even exist. 

     Included in his land holdings was a 500 acre tract opposite Dublin in the area known as Sandbar.  For years the strip of bottom land was known as the "Corral."  McCall acquired the land in 1794 and the property was subsequently purchased by his son-in-law Jeremiah H. Yopp.   George Gaines, the husband of his daughter Louisa, established the first ferry at Sandbar.  Once the town of Dublin was established, Gaines moved to the west side of the river and built a home in Dublin.  He lived on the street named in his honor.  

   Thomas McCall took the hand of Miss Henrietta Fall in marriage on April 17, 1787. He continued to receive large grants of land in Augusta and Franklin counties, which he turned into cash.  The McCalls lived in Savannah during the latter decade of the 18th Century.  Henrietta McCall died at the age of thirty in 1797. One year and one week later, Thomas married Elizabeth Mary Anne Smith, daughter of James Lawrence Smith and great-great-granddaughter of James Moore, one of South Carolina's early governors. 

     The McCall's moved to Camden County in the southeastern corner of the state.  They lived for a short time in McIntosh County, where McCall designed the layout of the town of Darien in 1806.    Apparently McCall stayed out of politics and left very few records of his existence in the coastal counties.  

     It appears that McCall suffered some sort of devastating business loss about the year 1815.  It was about the year 1816 when Thomas and Elizabeth McCall left the secure and glamorous life of the low country and moved to Dublin.  Curtis Bolton and Company recovered a multi thousand dollar judgment against McCall in the Superior Court of Laurens County in 1816.  Practically all of his personal possessions were subjected to a levy by the sheriff.  His brother, Capt. Hugh McCall, who wrote the first comprehensive history of Georgia, purchased the lien and saved his brothers precious library of two hundred volumes, as well as his slaves  

     No one for sure can tell where Thomas and Elizabeth McCall lived.  Their home "Retreat," was located somewhere between Fish Trap Cut and the Glenwood Road (Capt. Bobbie Brown Highway.)  Though there is no deed on record, McCall appears as an adjoining land owner in the area and did buy an island in the Oconee River, possibly the island just above Fish Trap Cut.

     McCall aptly named his plantation, for during the last quarter century of his life, he seemed to retreat from the public eye.  He was a regular member of the Laurens County grand jury from 1819 to 1830 as well as sitting on a few trial juries, but that was the extent of his recorded public service.  But, McCall wasn't a total loner.  He often opened his home to distinguished visitors, including U.S. Senator and Attorney General John M. Berrien and Rev. Patrick Calhoun, father of Vice President John C. Calhoun, who baptized his oldest three girls.  

     It has been said that McCall's closest friend in Laurens County was Governor George Troup.  Both men moved to the county at approximately the same time.  Both were highly educated. Both loved to fish.  It was well known that each man kept a skiff tied up on the their respective sides of the river, so they could quickly cross to visit one another.  George Troup liked to drink fine wine and in Thomas McCall, Troup had the ideal neighbor.  

     Perhaps McCall's greatest fame, not only locally, but on a regional scale, came from his remarkable ability to cultivate the natural grapes of the area, as well as imported ones,  and to create new varieties which could withstand the sweltering summer temperatures of 101 and frigid ones at ten degrees .   By some accounts, Thomas McCall was regarded as the best vineyardist in the South. 

     Among McCall's most successful varieties was the Warren/Warrenton.  The grape was first grown in Warren County and ably adapted by McCall, much to the delight of Prof. J. Jackson of Athens, who spent a day with the celebrated wine maker in 1820 sampling his Madeira made from the same grape Jackson had tasted fifteen years earlier.  McCall had success with a similar grape, known as the vilis sylvestris.   Of the native grapes, the Wild Muscadine, or Bullus, made a tart with a fine claret wine with a slight yellowish tint. 

     After reaching Laurens County, McCall began to keep detailed records of his vineyard and his wine making processes.  In 1825, McCall summarized his nine-year study  in a highly respected essay published in magazines and newspapers throughout the country.  One Pennsylvania news editor wrote, " No effort in the United States to raise or improve the grape, has been more successful than that of Thomas McCall, Esq. of Laurens County. His wine from the native grape is superior to any wine the writer of this article ever drank, excepting the first quality of foreign wine."   Wine from his grapes  was served at the Jubilee celebration in the summer of 1826 in Miledgeville. 

     McCall maintained hundreds of vines in his vineyard.  In 1828, he made nearly 500 gallons, which he sold at a premium price of two dollars per gallon.  McCall was cited by experts as the first person in Georgia to successfully cultivate grapes and make them into wine.   His success came from adding sugar to the wine before it fermented.

     According to some experts, McCall is considered the founding father of modern wine making in America. 

     Elizabeth McCall died on June 20, 1831.  Her body lies in a grave near the center of the old City Cemetery.  Her grave marker is reminiscent of the those found in ancient American cities like Savannah, Charleston and Williamsburg.  

          Thomas McCall died on April 4, 1840 and lies beside his wife.  His marker was placed there many years after his death by his descendants.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


From Lovett Park to Wimbledon

He has been called "The Wizard of Gauze."  Others call him "Billy the Banger" or "Bangers and Mash."   He has spent most of his life in and around many of the most exclusive and glamorous tennis courts of the world.  In his career, Bill Norris had mended scrapes, soothed strained muscles and counseled many  of the world's greatest tennis players  Of all of the places in the world, his career began right here in Dublin, Georgia at Lovett Park.  From such a humble beginning, Bill Norris moved on to a career in professional basketball and found his life's calling as the world's most highly regarded tennis trainer.

William L. Myers was born on August 5, 1942 in Fort Myers, Florida.  He grew up a baseball fan. As a perennial ritual of spring, major league baseball players invaded his homeland to prepare for the rigors of the upcoming seasons.  At the age of 12, Billy Myers knew he wanted to be an athletic trainer.  As a spring training bat boy for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Myers began to learn the scientific method of treating sports injuries.  During his high school years, he worked as an assistant trainer for the Pirates while they were in town.  Though he wasn't much of an athlete, Bill loved sports and wanted to be a part of them. 

Bill began his studies in earnest in 1960 when he enrolled at Manatee Junior College.  After  two years of school, he was invited to join the Class D team of the Milwaukee Braves in the Georgia-Florida League.  And so, for Bill, it was off to Dublin, Georgia  and his first real job as a trainer.  The Dublin Braves were a pretty fair minor league team that year.  Four players, including Bill Robinson, made it to "the show" before their playing days were over.  Bill learned the game under the guidance of veteran minor league manager Bill Steinecke.  

After attending a training school, Bill was hired to work with the New York Mets, the worst team in baseball history.  The Mets assigned Bill to train their minor league teams first in Columbus, Georgia and then in Auburn, New York.  Bill's natural skills as a trainer didn't go unnoticed.  Coach Eddie Donovan of the cross town New York Knicks saw something special in the young Floridian.  When the last out was made, Bill began his conversion to basketball with a promise of returning to baseball when the grass began to turn green again.  During his six seasons with the Knicks, Norris saw to the needs of some of the game's greatest players, including Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere and Walt Frazier.  While he worked with the Knicks, Bill also worked as a trainer for all performers in Madison Square Garden, including boxers, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. 

In 1969, Bill again took another cross town job, this time with the New York Nets of the ABA.  In the early years of the franchise, Norris worked with future NBA legend Rick Barry, leaving the team just before it signed the all time great Julius Erving.   Bill continued to work for the Mets during baseball season during the off season.   But after twelve seasons of professional basketball and several more in baseball, it was time for a career change. 

In 1973, Bill was approached by the Association of Tennis Professionals.  They needed a trainer for their members and Bill was a prime choice.  The association wanted one trainer for all of their male tennis players.  They needed a familiar face run out on the court  to tend to an injury, one person who could know the players and their particular bodies and one who could get into their minds and relieve their aches and pains.  Rarely does Bill see an injury.  He has to rely upon spectator's accounts and those made by anguished players. 

The highlights of Bill Norris's thirty three years in professional tennis come from his association with the United States Davis Cup teams.  He has worked with four winners of the cup, led by a quartet of the greatest legends of the game, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.   He has also worked with Pete Sampras, Stan Smith and  Ken Rosewall among hundreds of others.Norris also worked with international icons Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase and Guillermo Vilas.   At all times, Bill's job is to remain neutral and treat each competitor the same.   Bill did become a close friend and drinking buddy of Bob Lutz.  Of all of the players  he trained, Norris most admires the tenacity and determination of Jimmy Connors, despite his obnoxious behavior on the court.  Some have compared bill to the incomparable fictional teacher Mr. Chips, who now after forty-five years of training looks back with fondness for the thousands of young men he has worked with and gotten to know and to admire.      

Bill's job calls for up close and deeply personal contact with his athletes.  Many of the game's greatest players would and could confide in him their deepest  thoughts,  triumphs and fears.  Bill had to become a part time psychologist.  As a trainer, Bill knew what to do to physically prepare his players for their next match, but he learned to observe their mental attitudes as an indicator of how they were going to perform after they left the locker room.  From his position, Norris knows the players better than anyone, maybe even the players themselves.  The players grew to admire and respect Norris, who once with his long hair and strong round glasses, bore an uncanny resemblance to the late singer John Denver.  Their similarities were so indistinct that Bill used to sign Denver's name for autograph seekers and adoring fans who couldn't tell the difference.   His likeness helped him to get free drinks and quite a few laughs.  Jimmy Connors once got in on the joke when he traveled to meet Denver to ask for his advice, pretending that Denver was Bill Norris.  All of that ended after Denver's untimely death in an airplane crash. 

Bill's expertise on tennis injuries drew the attention of amateurs as well.  President Ronald Reagan called on Bill to work on is bad back.  Princess Grace Kelly sought out Bill's comforting hands to cure her sore elbow.  

Today, Bill's schedule has trimmed down dramatically.  He now spends more time with his wife and family, a task which was once difficult to manage. Bill Norris loves the game of tennis and loves helping its players make it up off the court.  Over his forty-five years in sports medicine, Bill looks forward to every new day.  "No two days are the same," said Bill, who thrives on his relationships with every new generation that comes along.  His favorite tournament is at Wimbledon.   "It is like a big reunion," Bill said.    

Bill Norris believes the soul of tennis lies within the amateur players across the country and the world, who have not been exposed to fame and adulation.  He never plans to retire, telling a reporter for the BBC, "I want to die running out to the court trying to help somebody." 


Legendary ATP trainer Bill Norris was honored by the International Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the sport. Norris is in his 41st year in professional tennis and is the founding father of the ATP Sports Medicine Committee.
Norris received the 2013   Samuel Hardy  and Tennis Educational Merit Award from Hall of Fame President Stan Smith  during a recent awards luncheon in Carlsbad, California.
“As an industry, we are only able to grow tennis with the vision and hard work of dedicated leaders and volunteers,” said Smith. “Bill Norris’ work in sports medicine and rehabilitation has proved vital to improving and extending careers for so many athletes.”
A pioneer in athletic training and sports medicine, Norris developed many principles and protocols of conditioning, preventative care, rehabilitation, and recovery that are standards in sports medicine today.
He began his career in professional baseball and basketball prior to joining the men’s tennis tour in 1973. Norris worked for the New York Mets upon his graduation, and was named the head athletic trainer/therapist for the New York Knicks in 1963 at the age of 21 - the youngest ever hired for any major league franchise.
 @ ATP

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Reminiscences of Red Cowart

Red Cowart loved Dublin.  Red did what we all should do and that is to write down  what meant the most to us during our lives.  You don't need any special skills, just write what you remember.  If you do so, the remotest of your descendants and the most avid of  future historians will forever be indebted to you.

D. T. "Red" Cowart  grew up in Dublin on the edge of the city's first industrial complex.  His parents, Andrew A. Cowart and Ida Williams Cowart, lived in a home on the northeast corner of East Madison and South Washington Streets on the corner occupied for many years by Rawls Welding Shop.  Red's father operated a lumber mill further down South Washington Street.  Andrew Cowart dug the first artesian well in Laurens County.  Cowart dug his well in the rear of his home and later constructed an indoor swimming pool, also the first in the county,  to capitalize on the abundant supply of fresh and virtually pure water.   Mr. Cowart came up with a brilliant idea.  The spring water was cold and not ideal for swimming.  Across the street at the ice plant, the plant needed cold water to condense steam into pure water for ice making.   So they struck a deal.  Cowart pumped cold artesian water to the plant and in turn the plant piped steam across the street to his pool and presto, a heated indoor swimming pool.  The Cowarts enjoyed the pool all during the year.  Their friends, both old and new and invited and uninvited, enjoyed visiting the Cowart home.

Red prefaced his memories by saying, "The good old days were just that.  They were good to everyone. Everyone was friendly and neighborly. Living conditions, while a bit uncomfortable at times, were never excessively cruel.  All had just about everything they needed and lived well without being forced, against their wills, to live, act and struggle as they are being forced to today?"

The railroads were the most important aspect of our history around the turn of the 20th Century.  The first trains had to stop on the eastern bank of the river.  Passengers and freight were then hauled to town by buggy, wagon or hack.  Judson Jackson and his family were among the first spectators to witness the arrival of the first passenger train into Dublin.  Jackson's son took the wagon and tied the mules under a tree.   The alarming bells and whistle blows so startled the youngster that he began to flee with the wagon shafts in his hands.  His flight ended in disaster when the he lost control of the wagon, which was a total loss.

Red remembered how much fun everyone had on the excursions to Tybee Island on the Central of Georgia railroad.  As many as eight to nine railcars full of passengers boarded the trains early in the morning to enjoy an afternoon frolic in the surf and sun, which ended as nightfall came.  There were Saturdays when passengers disembarked from the train to shop in the many stores of downtown Dublin.  One of his most fond memories was the day the legendary passenger train, "The Nancy Hanks," detoured from its normal route.  Hundreds of persons gathered along the tracks to see "the last passenger train to pass through Dublin."

Despite the large numbers of shoppers and visitors in the downtown area, there were no parking problems.  There was a large parking lot in the first block of North Jefferson street on the site of the old Piggly Wiggly grocery store.  Situated throughout the town were  stables where a farmer could park his wagon.  While he and his family shopped and tended to their business, the horses were fed and watered.  Some persons brought their purchases back to the wagon for safekeeping, while others picked them up on their way out of town.  In the "good old days," there were never any parking meters and no parking tickets," Red remembered.

One of Red's most favorite stories actually had to deal with Laurens County and World War II.   Cowart was a close friend of Judge Jim Hicks.  One day Jim Hicks took Red out to his farm in the Buckeye District.  The judge showed Red a grove of huge pine trees growing along the banks of the Oconee River.  Red asked Judge Hicks why he didn't cut them down and not take a chance on losing them to fire or disease.  The judge said, "Red, I am saving these trees to help the United States whip Japan."  About eight or so years later, Red noticed a small convoy of trucks passing through town.  Each truck carried a single humongous log, there being not enough room to throw another on the truck bed.  Red asked around and found out that the trees were some of the same trees that the judge had shown him in 1935.  The year was then 1943 and the United States and Japan were in the midst of a horrific war in the Pacific Ocean.  The trees, well they were on their way to the planing mill and then bound for transport to the shipyards where they were fashioned into landing craft for invasion of the islands of the South Pacific.

Red wrote of fond memories of river boats, which were the sole means of transportation of freight before the coming of the railroads and automobiles. He vividly recalled the names of the boats, the Rover, the Katy C, the City of Dublin and the Clyde S.  Many a kid would spend hours watching the boats as they pulled up to the docks and unloaded their freight into elevators which took bales of cotton, lumber and other valuable goods up to the level of the river bank.  Especially exciting were the times when new boats were launched into the mighty Oconee.    All of this came to an end when the Clyde S. was beached on the end of a sandbar about eight hundred to nine hundred yards above the river bridge on the East Dublin side of the river, left there to be washed piece by piece back into the river she served so well. 

Dubliners were most proud of the only brick yards in this section.  Located between the old Georgia Plywood Company (Riverwalk Park and Roche Farm and Garden Center) and the mouth of Hunger and Hardship was L.A. Chapman's brick yard, which supplied Dublin and cities around the southeast with fine bricks.  Once the yard's supply of clay was exhausted, the city of Dublin took over the property and filled the pits with trash and garbage, much to the delight of bottle hunters for many decades.  A second brickyard was located about a mile and a half down river.  Those who remember the hexagonal stones which once lined the sidewalks of Dublin and other cities of the state, might not remember that they were fashioned from sand pits of the Georgia Hydraulic Stone Company in East Dublin along Nathaniel Drive.

Finally, Red remembered the time that a group of sailors were gathered in a pub in a Mediterranean port.  One man got up and dared anyone to name a city he hadn't visited.  Wooten Cowart stood and said, "ever hear of Dublin, Georgia?"  The man laughed loudly and said he formerly lived in Dublin and worked at the Carter Iron Foundry.  "I was once arrested for drunkenness," he boasted.  The man who arrested him was Police Chief Cowart, father of Wooten Cowart.    As they say, it is indeed a "small world."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


        She's not much to look at.  Nothing about her sparks any endearment toward her homely face or cracker box figure.  The old girl (now she was a looker) was held in admiration for her enduring beauty, divine grace and elegant charm as she sat on her throne as the queen of the county.

It is hard to find anyone who can become emotionally enthused when you speak of the current Laurens County Courthouse.  But, since she turns fifty this year, I figured I might as well try to find something kind to say about the ol' gal whose lack of makeup and adornment has drawn nothing but unavoidable apathetic glances during her half century's reign in the center of downtown Dublin. This pathetic relic of the modern architecture of the Sixties  doesn't get a second notice from the hopeless romantics who admire the grand dames of our distant past.

It was in the early 1960s, when everything was supposed to be modern and new, that the decision was made to build a new courthouse.  The choice was not made out of desire to sweep away the grand courthouse of 1895, but arose from a compromise between those traditionalists who wanted the new courthouse to remain in the center of the city, those who wanted it located on a larger site with ample parking and those who plainly wanted to keep the old beautiful brick courthouse right where it had been for nearly seventy years.

After those who were against the construction of a new courthouse on Telfair Street or just in general defeated a bond issue to raise the funds, county leaders sought out and obtained a Federal grant through the aid of Congressman Carl Vinson of Milledgeville, who had served in Congress for more than a half century and for three decades had provided Dublin with a naval hospital, a POW camp to aid farmers in World War II, Interstate Highway 16 and nearly succeeded in the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy, a B-52 bomber base and a jet fighter base in Laurens County.

It would be the first time in the history of the United States that the funding of the construction of a county courthouse was made by the Federal government, which chipped in approximately fifty percent of the cost.

Construction, under the supervision of contractors Isadore and Harry Torch, began in the winter of 1963-64, but was delayed at first when heavy rains filled in the excavation with several feet of water, further adding to the mockery of the new building.

Architects John Cunningham and Roy Forehand, ran into a dilemma from the very beginning. How could they design a three story (with room to add a fourth in the future) building with a jail underneath on a traffic island.  The City of Dublin, which handsomely profited from the sale of natural gas, pushed the use of gas for heating and cooling.  The architects, however, went with the conventional electric design.  Their concept was to circulate the warm air from the upper floors to the basement in the colder months and the cooler air from the lower floors upward to the top of the building during the warmer months.   Needless to say the plan failed miserably.  Ask anyone who worked in the courthouse from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Designed in a time when racial segregation was still predominant in the country, one can still see the remnants of that bygone era when separate was considered equal.  The spacious, air-conditioned for the first time, courtroom was designed with a gallery section in the balcony to seat "colored" citizens upstairs in a manner similar to the way pre-Civil War churches segregated its slave members.

On the second floor there are two sets of bathrooms.  The first and largest set is located on both sides of the elevator was designated as "white only," while the other set, located at the far end of the hall adjoining the stairwell is much smaller and was designated "colored."

By the 1980s, the offices in the courthouse were becoming overwhelmingly crowded and bursting at the gerters.  The Laurens County Board of Education and the Department of Family and Children Services had to move out to separate facilities to meet the ever expanding needs of the courts.  The County Commissioners left soon after that to offices across the street.   By the early 2000s, the offices of the Tax Commissioner, the Registrar and a part of the Clerk's office moved into a new annex north of the courthouse.

Almost every courthouse you ever have seen had a front door.  Our courthouse has one, but entrants had to use the two side doors and the back door unless they wanted to walk through the courtroom to get to their destination.  The only adornments are the state seal on the north side  and a simple federal seal on the south side.  On a positive note, the efforts of the various garden clubs and veterans' organizations have given the square elements of beauty and heritage.

The county commissioners officially designated the new building as the county courthouse on July 21, 1964, which meant that the courthouse was no longer located in the Federal Building and the old Post Office.

On July 23, 1964, the first order of business was an invocation by the Rev. C.E. Vines.  The first case on the motion day calendar was the validation of the City of Dudley's water and sewerage revenue bonds.  After the conclusion of calendar call, a picture of the Dublin bar, judges, court officials, county officers and other employees was taken in the new, brighter, roomier and I might say cooler courtroom.  Gone were the electric fans and creaky wooden benches and chairs.  In were the stylish, now highly collectible,  multi-colored plastic chairs throughout the courtroom.  

The official dedication of the courthouse was held on October 15, 1964 (50 years ago tomorrow) under the direction of county commissioners S.A. Lewis, J.W. Robertson and R.A. Register, who invited Congressmen Carl Vinson and Elliot Hagan along with Georgia governor Carl Sanders and the United States Secretary of Commerce and former Governor of North Carolina, Luther Hodges to speak at the occasion.  All of the speakers pointed to Dublin's growth with its new courthouse, library and post office - all completed within a few months of each other.  I point out here that the praised progress began a process of the systematic destruction of much of the eastern end of Bellevue Avenue.

With a half century of service and the move toward annexes, regretfully it appears that our courthouse will easily break the 67-year record of her predecessor and will be sitting on her nest in the center of town as the ugly duckling of East Central Georgia courthouses for a long, long time.

Well, I guess I couldn't find anything good to say about our courthouse, except that it is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than back in a time when we used hand fans and wood burning heaters.  And, like the architects promised, there is more room than there used to be.



Friend and Foe of An American Literary Legend

Emily Whitehurst married the love of her life.  Her husband's best friend was a man she deeply admired.  When her idol slighted her husband's influence on his celebrated writings, her admiration turned to scorn.  But in her own right, she was a woman ahead of her time, a time in the South when her stands on social rights were scorned by many and admired by the very few.  

Emily Whitehurst was born in 1909 in Dublin, Georgia.  Her father, Zollicoffer, or just plain "Z." Whitehurst was a pharmacist, who later became the Superintendent of Laurens County schools.  Her mother was the former Miss Minnie Edge.  Emily graduated from Dublin High School in 1926.   After her graduation, Emily studied at Georgia State Teacher's College and Tulane University, where she obtained a degree in education. 

Emily loved literature, especially classical Greek literature.  She began to read "The Sound and the Fury," by Mississippi novelist William Faulkner.   She took a friend and set out for Oxford, Mississippi to meet her new favorite author.  She said, "here is a real live writer.  I had never seen one.  He was short, but had a great presence."  Emily stayed in Oxford, where she taught school.  She began to write her own novel.  The new single, blond, blue-eyed school teacher was the object of the town's matchmakers.  Emily's friends were all talking about a young man, a Yale-educated handsome lawyer  named Phil Stone.  "He was the most romantic person, all the girls in town were in love with him," Emily remembered.   After all, Phil Stone was the best friend of William Faulkner, the man who's writing "set her on fire."

A mutual friend took Emily's unfinished manuscript to Phil for his review.  There was something in her words that peeked the young lawyer's attention, or maybe there was something in her smile.  Phil sent a letter to Emily inviting her to come by his office.  Emily  was flattered.  "I just primped myself to pieces," said Emily, who married Phil Stone in a New Orleans church, despite the fact that she had disavowed her staunch Methodist upbringing and was generally regarded as somewhat of an atheist.  

It was about this time when Emily's admiration for Faulkner evolved into disdain. Faulkner would come by the Stone home and sit in their parlor while he read his new stories to the Stones, who acted as critics and counselors as well.  Mrs. Stone was intimidated by Faulkner.  Particularly disturbing was his opinion about women.  Emily believed Faulkner saw women as good for housework only and as parasites, who live off the men they marry.  Many times Emily bit her tongue when it came to Faulkner's faults.  She realized the importance of her husband's friendship with Faulkner and learned to respect it.

Faulkner's reputation among his critics and multitude of readers began to soar.  Many people in Oxford thought the highly respected author's work were in reality, written or at least inspired by Phil Stone.  It was generally known and accepted by almost everyone, except Emily, that Gavin Stevens, the southern lawyer protagonist of Faulkner's widely acclaimed mystery novels, was based on Faulkner's best friend Phil.  Emily hated the comparison.  "I got mad.  Phil was not," Emily remembered.  "Gavin was so garrulous and Phil was not," she said as she remembered her fury when everyone thought the lawyer in Faulkner's novels was actually her real life husband.  Emily did admit the similarity between Gavin Stevens and her husband's propensity for telling stories.  

Phil never took any credit, except for giving Faulkner a sense of humor and keeping him in Mississippi and away from New York.  When William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, he took all of the credit and gave his best friend Phil absolutely no praise for his friendship and inspiration.  This was the last straw.  Emily believed with all of her heart that it was Phil Stone who transformed William Faulkner into a writer, or at least into the writer he became.  Phil and William, a high school dropout, were inseparable.  The highly educated Stone exposed William to a diverse group of classic literary works.  Stone purchased a thousand copies of Faulkner's first book, a volume of poetry, to boost his friend's ego and fatten his wallet.  After tolerating his faults for too many years, Emily Stone no longer had any use for the once beloved icon and forever demigod Faulkner. 

Emily simply adored and idolized Phil. She and "Mr. God," as she referred to him had two children, Phillip, Jr. and Araminta.  Early in their marriage, the Stones suffered an irreparable loss.  Their elegant home was destroyed by fire.  Most devastating was Phil's vast library, which included a fifty- foot long, more than a head tall, line of literary works.  Among the treasures lost or severely damaged were some of Faulkner's earliest works, many of which were personally inscribed by the author.  The loss of her and her husband's priceless possessions was compounded by the loss of her most prized possession, her husband.  First he lost his mind and then he died, leaving her to face a new world alone. Emily turned back to her childhood faith and found solace in her new life.  She moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi and then to Montgomery, Alabama and then to Charlotte, North Carolina. 

During the violent racial upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s, Emily Stone saw the absurdity of the cataclysms erupting in Mississippi and throughout the office.   When James Meredith became the first black student to integrate Ole Miss, Emily refused to join in the effort to deny him his rights, but instead took the offensive.  With the courage of a literary hero, Mrs. Stone chastised and condemned their barbaric behavior.  Her pleas went ignored.
Ralph Wood, a professor of religion at Wake Forest, said of Emily, "she was a woman ahead of her time.  She could have been content being a perfect Southern lady - keeping her china sparkling, her silver polished and belonging to book clubs where people didn't read books.  But she wasn't."  Emily did write, but none of her short stories and essays ever garnered any fame, except among her inner circle of friends and colleagues.  As Professor Stone, Emily was a highly respected teacher of English literature at Huntingdon College.

Emily Whitehurst Stone died on June 24, 1992 at Wesley Nursing Center in Charlotte.  In his eulogy of Emily Stone, Professor Wood described her an oxymoron,  "she was a saint without a halo.  She may have thought herself an unbeliever but to paraphrase Tennyson, there lived more faith in her honest doubt than in half our creeds."  

Sunday, October 19, 2014


King of the K's

Most of you who are baseball fans know that Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood hold the record for the most strikeouts in a regulation 9-inning major league game with 2o. You would have to be a baseball purist to know that Tom Cheney set the game record with 21 strikeouts in a 16-inning game.  Cristen Vitek of Baylor and Eileen Canney of Northwestern hold the NCAA record for 28 strikeouts in a game in sixteen and eighteen innings respectively.  But how many of you know that a former Dexter kid struck out 28 batters in a 9-inning high school game  for a world record.  Millard Whittle of Dexter remembers.  Mr. Whittle remembers a lot about a lot of things. After all, he has been around these parts for more than ninety years.  Mr. Whittle called me and related the story of Hugh Frank Radcliffe.  I was hooked and logged onto the Internet as fast as I could to see what I could find.

Hugh Frank Radcliffe was born on November 27, 1928 in Fort Valley, Georgia.  He spent his early years in the Dexter community.  Sometime during the end of the Great Depression, the Radcliffes moved to Thomaston, Georgia.  Hugh attended Robert E. Lee Institute in Thomaston.  Hugh, or Frank, or "Redbone," as his friends called him, was a four-sport star at R.E. Lee.   Radcliffe was an all state and all South  end and the best kicker in Georgia.  He was an all state guard in basketball and a state champion in the pole vault.  But his main sport was baseball.  Now you will see why.

Hugh was considered big for his day standing  six feet one and one half inches tall without his cleats on  and tipping the scale at 185 pounds.  He was as clean cut as any teenager could be.  His coach described him as unimpressed with accolades and one who disdained alcohol, tobacco and even ice cream sodas.

It was the year 1948.  Hugh was just about half way through his senior year in high school.  As a sophomore, Hugh led his team to the Georgia and Regional American Legion titles.  The game was to be played in Macon, Georgia.  The Rebels' opponents that day were the Poets from Lanier High School in Macon.  The Poets, including future big leager Coot Veal,  were no slouches.  The team had a winning tradition for many years.    The Poets no longer had Billy Henderson, a former Dublinite and a high school All-American baseball player.  Sporting a five-game winning streak, Lanier was always a strong team.  The date was April 19th. The place was Silvertown Ballpark.

Hugh struck out three batters to end the first inning.  The fans and coaches all must have said, "well, Frank's on today."  Then he struck out three batters in the second.  Somewhere during the game he struck out four batters in one inning.  Some of you might say, "how can that be?" Well, the reason is simple.  Under baseball rules, when a catcher drops a third strike and first base is not occupied and there is less than two outs, the runner can advance to first base.  The catcher, or another fielder, must retrieve the ball and throw it to first base.  If the runner beats the throw, he is awarded first base, but the pitcher is given credit for a strikeout.  Usually an error is given to the catcher or the pitcher for allowing the runner to advance. But, enough of the rules, back to the game.

Radcliffe struck out at least three batters in every inning for the rest of game.  High school boys played the old-fashioned game with nine innings.  They play only seven today  to give the boys more time to study, as if they were going home after a long ball game and crack open a chemistry text book.

But before you think that every Poet batter struck out, you would be wrong.   In all, only ten balls were touched by a Poet bat.  Seven were fouled off. One Lanier batter managed to get a hit.  Rebel Coach J.E. Richards commented on the single safety by charging it to an inattentive fielder "who was too accustomed to watching Radcliffe playing the game by himself."  Two other balls were mishandled by Hugh's teammates.  The Rebels plated ten runners and won the game 10-0.  The Macon Telegraph's very brief account of the  game credited the Poets with two hits and two dropped third strikes by Rebel catcher Whitten.

Word of "the one in a million feat" got out and scouts from colleges and professional ball clubs descended upon Thomaston like flies at a church picnic.  When these old baseball veterans saw Hugh pitch, they drooled.  They had plenty of opportunities to drool.  Not since School Boy Rowe and Bob Feller came into the limelight in the early 1930s had such a young pitcher drawn so much attention.  Scouts from the Tigers, Indians, Reds, Senators, Yankees, Pirates, Athletics and Crackers came to watch the sizzling sensation.

At the end of R.E. Lee's eighth game of the season, Radcliffe posted a record of six wins and no losses.  On May 19th, Radcliffe took the mound to face nearby Griffin High School.  Two thousand people showed up for the game, a high school game!  The right-handed hurler didn't disappoint the crowd.  Twenty-five Griffin batters were sent back to the dugout with a "K" by their name in the scorekeeper's book.  Radcliffe had an off day, giving up three, but his offensive gave him eighteen runs, so the outcome of the game was never in doubt.  Radcliffe boosted his season totals to 210 strikeouts in 81.67 innings, or 2.57 strikeouts per inning an astonishing 23.13 per game.  During his senior season, he threw three no-hitters, allowing only 18 hits and giving up three unearned runs for a mind-boggling ERA of 0.37.    During that magical season, Radcliffe struck out 50 consecutive batters and 97 in four nine-inning games. By the way, Hugh hit .450 that season.

With all of the praise and accolades piled on him, Radcliffe's high school career game to a disappointing end.  He lost in front of 4,000 fans in the first game of the playoffs, 8-6.  Many of them came to the game on the twenty-six buses parked out in the parking lots and down the streets.  The scouts blamed it on the team and their nine errors, not due to their highly sought after prize, who struck out twenty-four.

The Philadelphia Phillies won the bidding war between 14 teams,  satisfying Hugh and especially his mother.  The young fireballer was assigned to the Phillies' Wilmington, Delaware club with a forty thousand-dollar check in the bank.  Radcliffe pitched well and was moved up to Toronto.    Soon Frank became the property of the New York Yankees and enjoyed a brief stint with the big club before returning to the minor league with the Syracuse Chiefs, Kansas City Blues  and the Birmingham Barons in addition to assignments in Binghamton and Beaumont.

Hugh Radcliffe didn't make it to the current National High School record book.  I guess they don't go back that far, or they just don't have folks like Millard Whittle to remind them of that spring day nearly sixty years ago when a Dexter boy became the "King of Ks," the "Wizard of Whiffs" and the "Sultan of Strikeouts."

Friday, October 17, 2014


The Best Boxer You Never Heard Of

Time and even his own daughter almost erased the memory of Jimmy Bivins from the minds of boxing fans.  Though you have probably never heard of him, Bivins, a native of Twiggs County, is regarded as one of the best boxers of his era.  While he never won a championship, Jimmy Bivins, is regarded by experts as one of the best Light Heavyweight Fighters of the 20th Century.

James Louis  “Jimmy” Bivins was born in Dry Branch, Georgia on December 6, 1919.  His parents, Allen and Fleta, lived on their farm on the Old Griswoldville Road in the Smith District of northwestern Twiggs County.  The Bivins joined many other African American families who migrated to work in the industrial complexes of the Northeast and Midwest, leaving their boll weevil infested red clay farm behind.

The Bivins moved to East 53rd Street in Cleveland, Ohio.  Allen worked as a fireman  for the Ohio Cleaning Company.  James and his sisters Viola, Maria and Fanny May attended the neighborhood school.    It was in when he was in his  teens when Jimmy learned how to box.  In his first celebrated match, Jimmy lost to Storace Cozy in the third round of the 147-pound class in the AAU Championship in San Francisco.  

Bivins entered the world of professional boxing as middleweight.  His first professional fight came in Cleveland on January 15, 1940 with a one round TKO over Emory Morgan.  His sixth straight professional victory came in April in Chicago in an eight-round decision over Nate Bolden.  Bivin’s remarkable streak of 19 consecutive wins, highlighted by ten-round victory over Charley Burley,  ended in his last match of the year, when he lost a rematch with Anton Christoforidis.  

Jimmy picked up right where he left off in 1941.  As a light heavyweight, he won six of eight bouts.  In his fourth and probably the most important match of his early career, Bivins beat Joey Maxim in a ten-round decision in a match fought at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.  Maxim won the world light heavyweight championship in 1950.  In defense of his title in 1952, Maxim, a native of Cleveland,  beat challenger Sugar Ray Robinson in the only one of his 201 matches where he failed to answer the bell.  Bivins ended 1942 with a record of seven wins and one loss.  Ring magazine named him the number one contender in the heavyweight and light heavyweight classifications. 

In his opening bout of 1943, Bivins defeated Ezzard Charles, a fellow Georgian and regarded as the third greatest light heavyweight of the 20th Century, in ten rounds.  Bivins continued his meteoric career completing the year with eight victories and no defeats.  His win over Ami Mauriello earned Jimmy the Duration Heavyweight Title.  Bivins won his only match in 1944, a year which saw few matches while he served in the United States Army.  During that last full year of the war, Jimmy Bivins was known as the interim or unofficial  Heavyweight Champion of the World. 

Jimmy’s greatest victory came on August 22, 1945 in his adopted hometown of Cleveland.  In a six round technical knockout, he defeated Archie Moore, selected by the Associated Press as the best light heavyweight of the 20th Century.  He ended the war years with an astonishing record of 48 victories,  two defeats and a draw.

Bivins ran his win total to fifty-two before a devastating loss to Jersey Joe Walcott in the winter of 1946.  Until that point, Bivins had not lost a boxing match since June 22, 1942.   Jimmy lost again in June and didn’t fight until two weeks before Thanksgiving when he was defeated by Ezzard Charles  in the tenth round for his third consecutive loss.   

In 1947, Jimmy Bivins regained his winning style and won ten matches and only losing one.  He carried a five match winning streak into a rematch with Archie Moore, which he lost in the 10th round.  Just sixteen days later, he lost another ten round bout with Ezzard Charles.  After a six round exhibition match with the great Joe Louis on November 17, 1948, Jimmy lost his third match of the year, a defeat by fellow Clevelander Joey Maxim.  

Jimmy Bivins continued to win, garnering six wins in eight matches in 1949.  By 1949, his competition was becoming less noteworthy.  After winning one of only two bouts in 1950, once again Bivins put together seven match winning streak, which came to a screeching halt on August 15, 1951, when he lost a heavyweight match to Joe Louis.   His only consolation was his winnings.  Though he lost the match to one of the greatest fights ever, Bivins was paid $40,000.00 his largest cash prize ever.  His last great fight came in Chicago on November 26, 1952 when he lost to Ezzard Charles.  For the rest of his career, Jimmy could only manage to fight small time fighters.  He won his last four bouts, his final victory coming at home in Cleveland on October 28, 1955.    

After his retirement, Jimmy drove a bread truck for his day job.  But boxing was in his blood.  He trained amateur boxers in the Cleveland area for many years.  

One of the darkest moments in Jimmy Bivins’ life came not on the mat of a boxing room, but in the home of his own daughter.  Forced to live with his daughter after the death of his wife, Bivins was horribly mistreated by his daughter and her husband.  When Bivins failed to show up at the local gym, concerned friends went out to look for him.  Bivins was found in the attic of his daughter’s home, bundled in a urine-stained blanket, missing a portion of his finger, blind in one eye and emaciated down to 110 pounds.     It was the athlete in him that guided him through one of the toughest battles of his life.  Just like he did in the 1940s, Jimmy battled and won, regaining his old fighting weight.  His former pupil Gary Hovrath helped to bring his mentor back to the gym.  

In his 112 fight career, the 175-pound 5-foot 9 inch tall Bivins posted an illustrious record of 86 victories (thirty one by knockouts,) twenty-five losses, and one draw.  He fought seven members of the Boxing Hall of Fame, defeating four of them.  He squared off against eleven world champions, defeated eight of them, including Joey Maxim, Archie Moore and Ezzard Charles. 

Though he never won a boxing title,  the voters of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999  recognized the remarkable achievements of Jimmy Bivins during the 1940s.   A five-man panel appointed by the Associated Press named Jimmy as the fifth greatest light heavyweight boxer of the 20th Century.  In commenting on his induction, the quiet Bivins remarked, “I knew one of these days they would recognize me.  I did the best I could.  I’m glad it was appreciated.” 

Monday, October 13, 2014


Dublins Around the Country

What do a soft drink, a hamburger and an almanac have in common?  They all come from the city of Dublin, not Dublin, Georgia, but from other Dublins around the country.  During this St.  Patrick’s Festival, the nation’s longest celebration of Irish heritage,  let’s take a look at three Dublins and what they are famous for.

All Dublins in the world derive their name from the ancient capital city of Ireland.  Dublin, Georgia holds the distinction of being the second Dublin in the United States.  It was named by Jonathan Sawyer, the town’s first postmaster.  Sawyer named the post office in the summer of 1811 in honor of the ancestral home of his wife, the former Miss Elizabeth McCormick.

Dublin, Texas, with it’s population of 3,250, lies near the geographic center of the Lone Star State.  Of all of the Dublins in this country, its history is most like that of Dublin, Georgia.  James Tucker opened a store there one year before the southern states declared their independence from the North.  J.M. Miller laid out his cotton field and began selling lots in 1881.  By the end of the 1880s, Dublin was home to two railroads, a bank and a newspaper.  Like Dublin, Georgia, Dublin, Texas owed its life to cotton and the railroads, which kept the money flowing and people coming.

For all of the 1940s and 1950s, Dublin, Texas was the home to the World Championship Rodeo, made famous by Gene Autry.  The nearby “Lightning C” ranch covered a dozen thousand acres, making it the largest rodeo ranch in the world.  Dublin is the home of Ben Hogan, one the greatest legends of golf.

But by far, Dublin, Texas is known as the home of Dr. Pepper, which was first bottled in Dublin in 1891 by Sam Houston Prim.  Every June the citizens of Dublin and surrounding areas turn out by the thousands to honor the soft drink and its plant, which is the only plant which still uses the original pure cane sugar recipe.  There is a circus with shows at “10, 2 and 4" in keeping with the slogan of Dr. Pepper.

Dublin, Texas also holds a St. Patrick’s festival.  The three-day affair features a carnival, food festival, softball tournament, art & quilt show, parade, Little Miss Dublin contest and tours of the town museum and bottling plant.  Dublin, which is located 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth, is known for its dairy farming, peanuts and cattle farms.

Dublin, Ohio,  the second largest of all Dublins in America, lies among the northwestern suburbs of Columbus.  During the 1970s, Dublin was engulfed by the urban sprawl of Columbians, the completion of I-270 and the development of Muirfield Village Golf Club,  a course designed by Jack Nichalaus.  This Dublin’s origin dates back to a 400 acre village on the banks of the Scioto River in the second decade of the 19th Century. On every Memorial Day weekend, Dublin hosts a golf tournament which draws the best players on the PGA tour.  Dublin, Ohio is also the home of Wendy’s Hamburgers, founded by Dave Thomas.

Dubliners from Ohio love festivals.  There is the requisite St. Patrick’s Festival, where the Lion’s Club hosts a pancake breakfast followed by a 5K Leprechaun run and a parade.  Sound familiar?  Dubliner’s let it all hang out at the Rockin’ Barney Blash.  But the celebration of Irish heritage doesn’t end there.  In early August, there is the Dublin Irish festival, an event which began in 1988.  There are Irish goods of all kinds, as well as exhibits which feature the cultural heritage of Ireland.  Of course, there is a feast of Irish food and drink. What kind of festival would it be without stew, breads and beer?  On the first weekend of each December, known as Holly Days, everything that glitters is green.  The lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree opens the festival before the city’s merchants throw open their doors where nearly everything is on sale.

The first Dublin in the United States was founded as one of the highest villages  in New Hampshire in 1771.   In 1792, another Thomas, Robert Thomas, began publishing the Old Farmer’s Almanac.  The annual almanac is the country’s oldest continuously published periodical.    Despite also being the home of The Yankee Magazine, which publishes a variety of travel magazines, Dublin, New Hampshire’s population is around 1500 people.

Dublin, North Carolina, located in Bladen County, is located between Fayetteville and Wilmington in the southeastern part of the Tar Heel State.  About a quarter of a thousand people live in Dublin.  The big festival in the community comes during the third week of September, when everyone celebrates the harvesting of the peanut crop.

       A few hundred miles to the northwest is Dublin, Virginia.  Founded by the Henry Trollinger family in 1776, the community was first known as Newburn Depot and later Dublin Depot.   On May 9, 1864, southwestern Virginia’s most vicious battle of the Civil War took place in and around the depot.  Confederate troops under the command of Gen. J.C. Breckenridge foiled Union attempts to capture the vital railroad depot.

               The area around Dublin, California was first settled in 1822 by Jose Maria Amador.  In 1877, a church, two hotels, a blacksmith shop and a shoe maker’s shop was built.  The community, first known as Doughtery’s Station, is located in the Armador Livermore Valley.  Dublin, California was incorporated in February, 1982 and is located 35 miles east of San Francisco. It’s population, now the largest of any Dublin, is buoyed by the fact that Dublin lies at the intersection of two major interstate highways.  The country’s westernmost Dublin is driven by rapidly growing technological and medical businesses.

Dublin, Indiana, a small town of less than a thousand people, is located along the Ohio line in the middle of the state.  It was the site of the first women’s rights convention in Indiana in 1851.   The annual highlight of the year is the volunteer fire department’s fish fry on Memorial Day weekend.

Once there were or still are Dublins,  post offices or just places along the road named Dublin in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Pennsylvania. What you may not know is that there have been two other Dublins  in Georgia.  There was once a Dublin community in Butts County, which changed its name to Cork. The third Dublin, Georgia is now known as Resaca. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014


No, this is not a move review.  Despite the headline, I am not going to write about Patrick Swayze, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.  I am going to tell you a few stories about our forgotten past.  I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed putting them together.

It was one hundred and five years ago when the editors of a newspaper saluted "one of the most pleasant social events the young people of the city have enjoyed in some time."  Fifteen couples danced in the dance hall of the Henry Building until their self-imposed curfew sent them home after their Friday evening fete.  But, times change.

It was in the months following the end of World War I, called by victorious politicians and generals as "the war to end all wars."  Young men were jubilant and wanted to celebrate, especially in the company of the city's most attractive young women.  These men formed a club and called themselves "The Stags."  No, it wasn't the first instance of a gang in the Emerald City, but it was an association of young men seeking to have a good time by ignoring their inhibitions and dancing until, well until their dates had to go home.

The Stags did not just want to have a dance once a month.  They wanted to dance with the young ladies on every Friday evening.  They even had the audacity to stage a street dance as the finale of "Dollar Days," a downtown wide mercantile event.  The leader of the Stags secured permission to stage a dance in front of the courthouse on a Wednesday night.  It didn't take long for word to reach the pastors of the local churches.

Dr. R.L. Baker, pastor of First Baptist Church, warned his congregation that any member caught dancing in public would be subject to banishment from the church.   Rev. L.A. Hill of First Methodist Church was more blunt on the subject.  Rev. Hill called the event a "public hugging game, which would be a blot on the fair name of the city."  He asked the men if they would allow their wives or daughters to dance with hoodlums, ragtags, and bobtails from all over the county.  He denounced the houses of ill fame located just across the river in East Dublin.  Rev. Hill believed that the women of Dublin would enter into a public dance with all innocence.  However, according to statistics in his possession, nine out of ten fallen women began their fall by dancing in public.  Rev. Hill was not directly opposed to dancing in public, as long as the men danced with men and women danced with women.  It's funny how things change. 

John A. Harvill and his wife had just sat down by the fire on a cold December evening in 1882.  The newly wed couple were distracted when they heard a noise which sounded like a squeaking old wagon.  They ignored the discord as a mere passerby.  After a moment, Harvill thinking the continuing commotion to be strange, sprang to his feet and opened his front door.  

To his utter dismay Harvill observed what appeared to be a very large dog with a torch or lamp attached  to the top of its head.  He called out thinking that he must have been the brunt of some of a candid camera joke, of course, television cameras wouldn't be around for more than five decades.  When no reply was received, Harvill did what most terrified men of his day would do, he picked up his gun and shot at it.  He shot. He shot again. The dog didn't move.  In the words of a writer of the Dublin Gazette, "there stood the specter as steadfast as the rock of Gibraltar."    Harvill couldn't believe his eyes.  Was he seeing things?

It didn't take long for the neighbors to come rushing to the scene of the skirmish.  Harvill pointed out the apparition to friends, hoping that they would see it as well. Reportedly, they did.  The brave generals in the crowd consulted each other and devised a plan of attack.  Everyone who could, grabbed a torch and began their advance.  As the first wave of the assault reached the ghostly canine, the pooch resumed his squeaking stride into the oblivion of the night.  While the reporter for the Gazette was covering the calamity, a neighbor came up to him and confirmed that he had also seen the dog, without the squeak.  

Minnie Howell and Charles Jones were deeply in love.  They couldn't wait to get married.  They rode into Dublin on a Sunday morning in February 1914.  As they drove their buggy through the streets of Dublin, they desperately looked around for a "man in black," either a minister or judge, both of whom traditionally were donned in a black suit or wearing a black robe.  They wanted someone to marry them and quickly.  It was then when they spotted the newly elected Judge K.H. Hawkins, judge of the superior court of the Dublin circuit, walking to the First Methodist Church for its morning service.  The startled judge honored the anxious couple's request and legally joined their hands in marriage as they sat on the seat of their buggy.  Had Minnie and Charles been able to wait until January of the following year, they may have spotted one W.H. Brunson on his way to church. Brunson, who had only been practicing law for three months, easily outpaced a field of older and more well known candidates to win an election to fill the vacancy in the office of Justice of the Peace of the Dublin militia district following the death of Judge Chapman.  Brunson, a twenty-two-year-old attorney, was the youngest Justice of the Peace in the State of Georgia.

It was a quiet day at the Park-N-Shop in the Shamrock Shopping Center on the last day of January 1974.  City Alderman Glen Harden was manning the cash register at his store as he usually did.  A trio of customers came through the door.  Harden didn't pay too much attention.  He thought he recognized them, or at least one of them.  But that wasn't unusual  because Harden knew a lot of folks.  

But there was something strangely familiar about the man.  Glen knew he recognized him.  He asked the man if he was who he thought he was.    He had seen the tall dark stranger on television before. He had listened to his voice on records.  The man acknowledged his identity and introduced his wife and mother-in-law to Harden.  The trio were on their way to Savannah for a concert that night.  In today's day of interstate highways, we tend to forget that most people traveling to Savannah from anywhere west of the port city had to come through Dublin to get there.

The customers purchased some groceries and had a good time talking with Harden, so much so that they promised to stop back by on their return to their home in Nashville.  Oh, they also bought a pair of scissors, a pack of needles and a few spools of thread, possibly black thread.  For you see the trio who stopped in one of the city's first modern convenience stores was June and her mother Maybelle.  The man, of course, was the world's most famous "man in black," the iconic legend, Johnny Cash.