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

Sunday, August 28, 2016


A Man of Morehouse     

When you think of Morehouse College, you think of tradition -a tradition of higher learning for African-American college students.  When you go back seventy-five years, you think of a day unlike today when a mere few, the lucky few, had the opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning, much less one with the honorable tradition as Morehouse.  For nearly four decades, one Laurens County native helped the school rise to the prominence it still retains today.

Brailsford Reese Brazeal was born in Dublin, Georgia on March 8, 1903.  The son of the Rev. George Reese Brazeal and Walton Troup Brazeal, young Brailsford attended Georgia State College and Ballard Normal School in Macon.    Late in his life Dr. Brazeal recalled that it was his Baptist preacher father's guidance and teachings that kindled his imagination as to what was beyond his neighborhood.  Brazeal recalled that his mother and his oldest aunt, Flora L. Troup pushed him to leave Dublin because he wouldn't be able to obtain anything but an elementary education in Dublin.  His uncle and namesake Brailsford Troup gave him a job during summers as a carpenter's helper.  Brazeal realized that the life of a laborer is not what he wanted and promised himself that he would do all that he could to break the barriers of race and segregation. 

He completed his studies  at Morehouse Academy, a high school, in 1923.  While at Morehouse College, Brazeal came to know Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, who served as his debate coach in college and would later serve as President of Morehouse.   After graduating from Morehouse in 1927, Brazeal continued his studies and obtained a master's degree in Economics  from the ultimately prestigious Columbia University in 1928.  

Salute to Dr. Brazeal, Morehouse College 2013
Brazeal was immediately hired as a Professor of Economics by Dr. John Hope, his alma mater's first black president.    By 1934, Brazeal was chosen to chair the Department of Economics and Business.  He was also selected to serve as the Dean of Men, a post which he held until 1936.  

In his early years at Morehouse, Brailsford met and married Ernestine Erskine of Jackson, Mississippi.  Mrs. Brazeal was a graduate of Spellman College in Atlanta.  An educator in her own right, Mrs. Brazeal held a Master's Degree in American History from the University of Chicago.  She taught at Spelman and served for many years as the Alumni Secretary.  To those who knew and loved her, Mrs. Brazeal was known to the be the superlative historian of Spelman History, though she never published the culmination of  her vast knowledge.   

The Brazeals were the parents of two daughters.  Aurelia Brazeal is a career diplomat and has recently served as the United States Ambassador to Ethopia, Kenya and Micronesia.  Ernestine Brazeal has long been an advocate for the Headstart Program.

The Brazeal home in Atlanta was often a home away from home for Morehouse students.  Especially present were the freshmen who inhabited the home on weekends and after supper for the fellowship and guidance from the Brazeals.  Among these students were the nation's greatest civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta.   It was Dr. Brazeal, who first recommended the young minister for acceptance at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.  Dr.  Brazeal wrote that King would mix well with the white race.   The Brazeal's bought the four square home near Morehouse in 1940.  Today, the home at 193 Ashby Street (now Joseph Lowery Boulevard) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.  

Through scholarships, Brailsford Brazeal was named a Julius Rosenwald Fellow and in 1942, obtained his Ph. D. from Columbia University in economics.  As a part of his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Brazeal wrote about the formation of the of one of the first labor unions for black workers.  In 1946, Brazeal published his signature work The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.    For decades, labor researchers often cited Brazeal's writings  in his landmark work and other papers and journal articles.

During the 1950s, Brazeal worked in voter registration movements.  He wrote extensively about racial discrimination in voting, especially in his native state. He detailed many of the activities in his home county of Laurens.    In his Studies of Negro Voting in Eight Rural Counties in Georgia and One in South Carolina, Brazeal examined and wrote of the  efforts of H.H. Dudley and C.H. Harris to promote more black participation in voting in Laurens County.  He chronicled the wars between the well entrenched county sheriff Carlus Gay and State Representative Herschel Lovett and their desire and competition for the black vote.   He wrote of fair employment practices, desegregation of higher education, voter disfranchisement of black voters, voter registration, and many other civil rights matters. 

The members of the National Association of College Deans elected Dr. Brazeal as their president in 1947.   Brazeal a member of the Executive Committee of the American Conference of Academic Deans and as a vice-president of the American Baptist Educational Institutions. 

During his career Dr. Brazeal was a member of the American Economic Association, the Academy of Political Science, the Southern Sociological Society, the Advisory Council of Academic Freedom Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, the N.A.A.C.P., the Twenty Seven Club, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phil, Delta Sigma Rho and the Friendship Baptist Church.

In 1967, Dr. Brazeal was inducted into the prestigious national honor society, Phi Beta Kappa as an alumni member of Delta Chapter  of Columbia University.  He organized a chapter at Morehouse, known to many as one of the "Ivy League" schools for African Americans.  

Dr. Brazeal retired in 1972 after a career of more than forty years, many of which he served as Dean of the College.  At the age of seventy eight he died in Atlanta on April 22, 1981. His body lies next to that of his wife, who died in 2002, in Southview Cemetery in Atlanta.  


Friday, August 26, 2016

Baseball in Dublin in 1916


Although there were no big name players on Dublin’s 1916 baseball team as in other years, the boys from Dublin, kept battling back and battling back to capture the title, if only self proclaimed, of Middle Georgia Champions.

Telling the whole story is quite impossible as the skimpy reports generally named only the pitchers and catchers name and when players’ names were mentioned, only their last names were included.

The first part of the 1916 season did not start off well at all.  In the first reported game on May 16, H. Etheridge, of the Adrian team, struck out 23 of 27 Dublin batters in a three-hit, 12 to 4 victory over Dublin.  A week later, Wrightsville smashed Dublin’s pitcher Blackshear for 20 hits in a 14 to 4 victory, Harrison, Georgia’s team defeated Dublin at Dublin for its third straight loss.  Harrison’s team was led most likely by Phil Bedgood, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 1922 and 1923. A fourth straight weekly loss (11-4) came at the hands of Wrightsville, which quickly became the dominant team in the area.  Adrian defeated the winless Dublin for the second time in the season, 17-10.

The Dublin team was reorganized on June 14. B.D. Kent was named the manager while Carl Hilbun was selected as Secretary/Treasurer of the team, which included; Alex Knight, Blue Holliman, Joe Caldwell, Griswold Satterfield, Chris White, Frank Ray, Frank Grier, J.S. Kendrick, B.D. Kent, Paul Wiliamson, Canty Davis, J.A. Peacock, Jr., and Lass O. Moseley, a pretty fair country ball player from Orianna, who enjoyed a somewhat successful semi-pro career and a highly successful political and business career as a hotel owner in Atlanta.

The team played its games at the 12th District Fairgrounds, just south of the site of Robinson Ray Company, now Cordell Lumber Company.   Before the fairground field could be prepared for play, Dublin defeated Adrian 5- 1 in a field behind the rear of G.H. Williams’ home (now the Laurens County Library.)  The first lineup featured: 1B-Frank Grier, 2B-Eugene White, SS-Joe Caldwell, 3B-Blue Holleman, RF-Paul Williamson, CF-Frank Ray, LF-Alex Knight, P - Chris White, Catcher, B.D Kent or Griswold Satterfield.

Dublin and Wrightsville split their first two games of their 3-game series, with Dublin taking the 2nd game behind the pitching of Henry and the catching of Passmore. But, the boys from Wrightsville came storming back to capture the series with a 16-2 drubbing over the Dublin nine.

Wrightsville, which dominated nearly every team on their schedule, claimed the Amateur Championship of Georgia after a forfeit from Swainsboro on July 21.  The Johnson County  team, under the leadership of manager, H.C. Tompkins, boasted a record of 43-9-3 and that they would play any team in the state at home or anywhere in the state.  They strengthened that claim with Jack Hawkins’ 8-0, no-hit, 12-strikeout  drubbing of Dublin on July 25.  Hawkins was a former pitcher for the Macon Peaches, Augusta Tourists and Columbus Foxes of the South Atlantic League.

Just when the Dublin team had fallen into deep despair, things began to turn around on July 26, when pitcher Culpepper defeated Wrightsville in a pitcher’s duel 1-0.  The following day, Owens no hit Statesboro 2-0.  In a third straight tight game, Statesboro, shut out Dublin 1-0.  But Dublin kept fighting back with a 5-4 victory over Statesboro behind the pitching  of Owens to take the three game series.

Dublin started off August by winning its third straight shutout victory with pitcher Watts defeating Statesboro 7-0.   Dublin smashed Metter in the next game 10-2 in a lopsided game from the beginning, putting an exclamation point on a three-game sweep with a 1-0 shutout.

Dublin returned home in defeat from Idylewild near Wrightsville, behind the superb pitching of Wrightsville’s Dick Stevens.  Dublin’s Culpepper suffered a tough loss despite his six strikeouts and four hits allowed.   Dublin could not overcome Wrightsville’s single run despite Wooten’s 3-4 performance.  Dublin came back the next day with a 4-2 win which was followed with Wrightsville winning 6-1 and then again,  5-3, before Dublin won 2-1.

Swainsboro was shut out by Dublin’s Hunt in a 1-0 victory at the 12th District Fairgrounds.  Dublin’s pitcher Owens helped his own cause by homering in a 13-6 win over Swainsboro in the 2nd game.

Dublin left town to play a three game series in Midville, Georgia in Jefferson County, but not before a 6-2 defeat of Statesboro and a 1-1, 12-inning tie.

The entire season came down to a three game series against Midville in Dublin.  Dublin squeaked by the visitors 4-2 with the steady pitching of Hunt and sloppy play of the men from Midville.  In the second game, Midville took advantage of a Dublin error which tallied six unearned runs, to win 8-4 and tie the series.  With the home team advantage, Dublin jumped out to a quick lead and with the reliable Hunt on the mound, held on for an 8-4 victory.

By defeating Midville, Dublin claimed the Middle Georgia Championship.  Although in their reported games, the reorganized Dublin team had a record of 14-7-1, no where near the impressive record of their rivals  from Wrightsville which won more than 80 percent of their games.

But, Dublin had six more games to play and they were not going to rest on their trophy.   On the 21st, Dublin defeated  Statesboro 4-2 in the  fastest game of season.  In the next game,  Dublin again jumped out front early and played tough behind a solid outing by Watkins after the hitters chased Statesboro’s top starter Philpot from the game.    Dublin went on to sweep the three games series by a score of  4-2 after a bam bam play in a game filled with errors.

To put a big exclamation point on their championship, Dublin’s manager scheduled a three games series to end the season on August 24, 25 and 26.   Dublin’s dependable pitcher Hunt shut out the Savannah All Stars at the Fairgrounds 2-0 to take the first game. Dublin, didn’t let up, they could smell victory against the best team that Savannah could field.  In the 8th inning, Savannah changed pitchers with Dublin way ahead, when the score reached 11-2, Savannah’s manager threw in the towel,   Apparently the third game was forfeited as Dublin had already clinched the series by winning 10 of their last 13 games.

And so it was in the Summer of ’16 a century ago  in the year before the world went to war for the first time that  a scrappy bunch of Dublin ballplayers fought and scratched by winning 10 and tying 1 of their last 13 games to conquer the Amateur Championship of Middle Georgia, with all deference to the Wrightsville squad which clearly was the best team anywhere around East Central Georgia.


This photograph represents the only known image
of the home of Dr. Robert H. Hightower, Sr. and 
his family, which was located on the site of the present
Fred Roberts Hotel at the original beginning of
Academy Avenue.  It is often hard to visualize
the number of homes, which came right up into the
main business district of downtown Dublin.  Photo ca. 1900-1905

Monday, August 22, 2016


Frank's Place was located on the present site of the Oaks 
Shopping Center in Dublin during the 1930s and 1940s.
It was here in the spring of 1935, when baseball great
Dizzy Dean skipped the team party after a game against
the University of Georgia at the Fairgrounds.  Dean had too
much to drink and found himself at the train depot, long after
his team, the St. Louis Cardinals left on a west bound train.
Cardinal manager Frisch fined Dean, who was the reigning 
National League MVP, a definite winner of the Cy Young Award
had it been given out in those days, and the leader of the
reigning world champs, fired back and said, "Ok, I'll just quit."


African American Sailors in the Civil War

They weren’t the typical Civil War soldiers. They weren’t white. In fact, they weren’t soldiers at all.  They were sailors, seamen of the United States Navy.  This is the story of seven native born east-central Georgians who served in the almighty Federal Navy while it maintained its stranglehold over shipping lanes along the southeastern coasts during the Civil War.

The United States Army developed a policy of seizing slaves from Southern plantation owners and employing them as laborers.   Up and down the South Atlantic Coast former slaves were freed. They flocked into camps along coastal islands.    It became readily apparent that these people could provide both army and navy commanders with valuable information.  These former slaves provided the Union Navy with invaluable intelligence information, including the location of Confederate fortifications, navigation information along inland waterways, and foraging of supplies and food.

Originally the Negro sailors were considered mere laborers and were paid a minuscule salary.  Eventually the men were treated for pay purposes as equal to the whites and were allowed to be promoted for outstanding performance of their duties. Some sailors rose to the rank of pilot.  These river pilots provided vital services to the Federal navy.

While the true number of black soldiers on both sides of the conflict will never be known, most historians believe that at least fifty thousand or more Southern blacks served in the Confederate Army.    Many were used in support roles, but company commanders needing bodies to fill in the lines were not opposed to filling their ranks with blacks,  in complete  deference to the official policy of the Confederate government.    Among the most famous black Confederate soldiers was Private Bill Yopp of the 14th Georgia Infantry.  A Laurens Countian by birth,  Yopp, who surrendered with his company at Appomattox, is the only African-American Confederate soldier buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. Records of black Confederate casualties are virtually non-existent, though black Union casualties have been estimated to have been nearly forty thousand.

It has been estimated that some eighteen thousand former slaves served in the United States Navy during the Civil War.  Four hundred seventeen of them are known to have been born in Georgia.   A good portion of native Georgians serving in the Union Navy gave the place of their birth as Georgia, with no indication of the county of their birth.  At least three Laurens Countians are known to have served in the Union Army during the war. Unfortunately, further efforts to trace the lives of these three men after the war were futile.  Neither of the three men appear in any Federal censuses after the war.

Myers Blackshear, the oldest of three native Laurens Countians to serve in the Union Navy, was born in 1826.  A five-foot five-inch tall farmer, Blackshear enlisted for a three-year term on December 31, 1863.  Blackshear was assigned as a 3rd Class Boy aboard the U.S.S. Restless. On April 1, 1864, Blackshear was reassigned to the U.S.S. San Jacinto.

The San Jacinto, named for the climatic battle of the War for Texas Independence, was the Navy’s second screw frigate.  The ship participated in the Virginia Peninsula campaign of 1862.  In the last year of the war, the San Jacinto was assigned to blockade duty along the Southeastern and Gulf coasts.  The ship was lost on New Year’s Day in 1865, when she sunk on a reef near Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.

Francis Hughes, a barber by trade, was born in Laurens County in 1827. Hughes enlisted for one year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 7, 1863. He was assigned as a landsman aboard the U.S.S. State of Georgia.  A landsman in 19th Century language was a sailor on his first voyage or one who is inexperienced in sailing.  The USS State of Georgia was a side wheel stern steamship and was often in dry dock for repairs.  The ship saw limited action in the first half of 1864 during Hughes’ tenure on the ship.
George Hozendorf, born in Laurens County in 1836, listed himself as unemployed when he enlisted in the United States Navy at Fernandina Island, Florida on March 31, 1864. This five-foot three-inch tall native of Laurens County was assigned as a landsman aboard the U.S.S. Para.  The Para, a 190-ton mortar schooner, saw action throughout the war, primarily off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In the summer of 1864, the Para participated in a mission up the Stono River in South Carolina.

Joseph Crawford, a forty-six-year-old Emanuel County laborer, enlisted in the navy for the duration of the war at St. George’s Sound on July 27, 1863.  He served as a First Class Boy aboard the USS Somerset until the summer  of 1865.   Crawford served aboard the Somerset with his younger brother Cato Crawford.  The younger Crawford enlisted for the war on July 15, 1863 at St. George’s Sound. The Somerset, a wooden-hulled side-wheel ferry boat was used primarily to block Southern blockade runners.  On March 30, 1865, the ship destroyed the salt works on St. Joseph’s Bayou.  

Andrew Brown, a five-foot eleven inch Twiggs County native, was born in 1825.  He enlisted “for the cruise” at Key West, Florida on March 4, 1863.  He served from April 1, 1863 to September 1863 aboard the San Jacinto.  In that month he transferred to the USS James L. Davis until December. Brown returned to San Jacinto for few days before returning back to the James L. Davis once again. His last assignment was aboard the San Jacinto.

Sampson Freeman, the third man of the group to serve aboard the USS Somerset, was born in Wilkinson County, Georgia in 1832.  He enlisted for the duration of the war on July 1, 1863.  He was a laborer by profession and served aboard the Somerset until June 1865.

Records of the participation of the black soldiers and sailors in both armies are scant.  As a result of the popularity of the movie “Glory,” more attention has been drawn to the former slaves and free blacks who served in the Union Army.  However, much less attention has been paid to those who were slaves and fought in defense of their homeland despite its dogged determination to maintain the abomination of slavery.   Many historians, including the highly respected Ed Bearrs of the National Park Service, believe there was a coverup to obscure the service records of those slaves who served the Confederacy.   

Sunday, August 21, 2016



Poor Man Bound to Die

Bud Hillburn was bound to die.  We all are, but this troubled man had a destiny - to die with a hangman's noose around his neck, a knife in his belly or a volley of vigilante bullets in his chest and brain.  As he sat in his jail cell on New Year's Day a little over a century ago, there was no revelry, no joy, only a glimmer of hope that he wouldn't meet his maker before the winter ended.  The early years of the 20th Century were extremely violent.  In some ways they were more violent than they are today, a century later.  In the east-central Georgia area, and most of Georgia for that matter, not a week went by without a murder, aggravated assault, or a killing in self defense, whether justified or not.

It was a relatively tranquil Sunday evening in Rixville, Georgia on February 7, 1904.  Twenty-year-old Abe Durden, a son of a prominent Adrian, Georgia family, was dispatched to the small community on the Wadley Southern Railroad, south of Adrian at the intersection of the Old Savannah Road and the Adrian-Soperton Road. Durden asked Longus Durden and a young Moore boy to accompany him to serve a warrant for gambling on Bud Hillburn, known to be a notorious gambler.   The trio found their man at the home of John Ricks, about a half-mile from Rixville.

Durden approached Hillburn, first called Hillman in some newspaper accounts, and told the burly man that he had a warrant for his arrest and that he must submit to the law.  Suddenly and without any warning, Hillburn pulled his pistol, one he took from Norman Brown,  and fired it point blank into Durden's body.  Durden was able to draw his own revolver and fired three shots in self defense.  It appeared Durden's shots had little effect, though witnesses initially misstated that Hillburn's arm was broken.  Hillburn managed to get off four shots, two of them mortally striking the young bailiff in the breast and the thigh.

Emanuel County Sheriff George Frederick Flanders was summoned to the scene, but instead sent his deputy John Medlock to organize a posse to capture the fugitive assailant.  A reward of fifty dollars was issued the next day for information leading to the capture of Durden's alleged killer.  Within a day or so, Hillburn was captured in that portion of Montgomery County which is now Treutlen County.  He was found by Rance Phillips, Ebb Durden and Andrew Gillis, all members of the Rixville community. The trackers found the renegade in the loft of an old out building which was being used by some mill hands.   Hillburn discovered the approach of the trio and attempted to flee, firing shots to discourage his pursuers. Realizing that further flight was futile, an exhausted Hillburn forsook his weapon and succumbed to his captors.

On September 5, 1904, Hillburn was tried before a jury with Middle Circuit Superior Court Judge Alexander F. Daley presiding in and for the Superior Court of Emanuel County.  The outcome was never in doubt as solicitor B.T. Rawlings introduced one witness after another to seal the fate of the accused.  Hillburn's defense attorney A.F. Lee did all he could to zealously represent his client in the face of overwhelming evidence. The jury returned a verdict of guilty.  Judge Daley subsequently sentenced Hillburn to die by hanging.  Despite the fact that the defendant had just been convicted of murdering an Emanuel County law enforcement officer, there was no report of the trial in the Swainsboro Forest Blade nor any of the newspapers from the surrounding counties.

On November 21, 1904, Lee and Rawlings traveled to Atlanta to argue his appeal of Hillburn's conviction before the Supreme Court of Georgia.   The defense attorney argued that Judge Daley erred in not granting a continuance to the defense. Lee maintained that it was critical that the court compel a defense witness to testify.  It was contended that the witness would testify that it was Durden and not Hillburn who fired the first shot.   The State of Georgia countered and showed the appellate court that the witness knew nothing of the actual murder and therefore his testimony was not essential to a proper defense.  The defendant further contended that the warrant which Durden was serving on Hillburn was improper and therefore Hillburn had a right to defend himself from what he perceived as an assault against his person. The court dismissed the allegations on the grounds that there was nothing in the record of the case challenging the validity of the warrant and therefore the warrant was presumed to be valid.

Hillburn's most valid ground for a reversal was that his confession, or alleged confession, was obtained under duress.    Bud told a deputy that he had fired under his arm and not straight out, a fact contradicted by one of Hillburn's own witnesses. In writing the opinion of the court, Justice Beverly D. Evans, a former Washington County judge and attorney,  ruled that prisoner's statements were freely and voluntarily made.  Justice Evans found that despite the fact that  the accused was a Negro and at the time was a prisoner in the calaboose and surrounded by a crowd of white men,  those circumstances did not render the confession necessarily inadmissable.   The court further found that the confession should not be thrown out on the grounds that the jailer told Hillburn that he would protect him and make him comfortable if he told the truth.

Hillburn's last hope for his life depended on an appeal to the Georgia Prison Commission. In an unprecedented move, A.F. Lee omitted the normal request for a commutation of the death sentence to life in prison.  Lee asked the commission and the governor for a full pardon reiterating Hillburn's claim of self defense. Lee also asserted that it was impossible for his client to obtain a fair trial in light of the case of two Negroes, Reed and Cato, who were burned to death by a Bulloch County mob
after the two men were accused of murdering and  then burning a white family near Statesboro a month before the trial.

The commission denied Hillburn's request for liberty, and the preparations for the execution the following Friday were set in motion.  On February 3, 1905 and four days short of one year after the death of Abe Durden, A.F. Lee had one final meeting with his client.  Reverends W.H. Franklin, W.H. Miller, J.W. Young, H.H. Maze and Nelson Jones spent the morning attempting to console the condemned killer through prayer and song.
Thirty minutes before high noon, Bud Hillburn was escorted to the gallows. He was asked to sit on the steps and pose for photographers.   Hillburn weakly climbed the steps  and was asked to speak to his executioners.  He said, "I don't care to stand out in the cold wind," apparently oblivious as to his impending fate.    John W. Durden, father of young Abe, asked Hillburn if he had been persuaded to kill his son.    Without any equivocation, Hillburn said, "No sir, not a soul in the world."  He revealed that he was so drunk that he could hardly stand and that he thought it was Perry Scott who was trying to arrest him as he had tried to do so before.   Confessing to his crime in his last few moments of life, Hillburn stated that he shot but didn't know whom he was shooting.

Five ministers implored for Hillburn to pray for his soul. He refused though he did accept the offer of a last meal of beef, bread and hot coffee.   Hillburn gobbled down all he could eat in the last ten minutes of his life.  The crowd counted down the clock which soon struck twelve o'clock noon.   The hangman placed a black cap over the doomed man's head and adjusted a noose around his neck. Hillburn complained, "Don't choke me! Is my time out?  Let me go. Let me go!" Sheriff Fields sprang the trap and in a brief instant Hillburn was dead, his neck broken according to Dr. G.E. Youmans, the attending physician.

Abe Durden's death had been avenged.  Ironically had Hillburn's attorney been able to delay his execution for a few months, Durden's killer would have died not by the noose, but by the final stages of cancer, or consumption as it was called in those days.    The editors of the Forest Blade took note of the sorrowful affair and urged their readers not to let Abe Durden die in vain and stamp out the evil "blind tiger" whiskey establishments which ultimately and directly led to the young man's untimely, unfortunate and undeserved death.



                    “The old church bells will peal with
                    joy, Hurrah! Hurrah! To welcome
                    home our darling boy, Hurrah!
                    Hurrah!  The village lads and lassies
                    say with roses they will strew the
                    way, and we’ll all feel gay, when
                    Johnny comes marching home!”  
                              Patrick S. Gilmore, 1863.
      Battered, bruised and broken, the scattered remnants of a once mighty legion of Southern men and boys crawled back home to try to rebuild their lives and their communities.  On this the 140th (in 2005) anniversary of the end of the Civil War or the War Between the States, as some frivolously termed as the “Late Great Unpleasantness,”  I will focus on some of the mere boys who returned from the war to lead productive lives within their communities.  While underage men were generally assigned to     duties in local and state militia, many young boys, sixteen years of age and under, fought for the homes and communities in a war like all other wars, those which are started by men and fought by boys.
      Green V. Jenkins, a son of James J. and Lucinda Jenkins,  was born in Laurens County on January 27, 1848.  His brothers Isaac, Littleton, and George W. fought in the Civil War.  The oldest brother, Isaac, died in Richmond, Virginia on December 15, 1862.  Corp. Littleton Jenkins was captured at Spotsylvania Court House, Va., on May 12, 1864.  Corp. Jenkins was taken to Elmira Prison in New York. George Jenkins was wounded and disabled at Mechanicsville, Va. on June 26, 1862.  Green, the baby brother, was ready to fight for Georgia.  In 1864, at the age of sixteen, Green Jenkins enlisted in a reserve unit of the Confederate Army. He saw service in Georgia and South Carolina during the last year of the war.  During that time, he was sent to duty at Camp Sumpter in Andersonville, Georgia. Green Jenkins was very proud of the many years which he spent as a Deacon of Bethsaida
Baptist Church.
      In July 1938, Mr. Jenkins, (left) attended the Blue-Gray Reunion in Gettysburg,  Pa., on the 75th anniversary of that monumental battle.  Only two and one half months later, on September 26, 1938, Green Jenkins died at the age of 90.  He was the last surviving veteran of the Confederate Army in Laurens County, "The Last Boy in Gray."  Jenkins was buried in the cemetery at Bethsaida Church, next to his wife who predeceased him by ten years.
  The next to the last Laurens County Confederate veteran was John W. Green, who was seventeen when he enlisted in Co. H, 63rd Ga. Inf. in May 1862.  He was wounded at Rock Face Mountain and spent the remainder of the war at his home near the future site of Dexter, which he helped to develop. A prominent Baptist minister, Rev. Green (left) died on September 25, 1937 at the age of 92.
      While Green V. Jenkins was the last surviving veteran of the Confederate Army in Laurens County, the last surviving Laurens Countian who served in the  Confederate Army was Andrew Coleman Sanders.  Sanders was born in Laurens County on Feb. 20, 1847, the youngest son of Coleman and Emily Hudson Darsey Sanders.  The Sanders family moved to Calhoun County in Southwest Georgia before the Civil War.  The fifteen-year-old Sanders enlisted in Company D, "The Calhoun Rifles" of the 12th Georgia Infantry, on December 9, 1862.  Sanders survived the horrific Battle of Gettysburg, endured the siege of Petersburg, and limped into Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.  At the age of ninety, Sanders realized his dream of returning to Gettysburg for the 75th Reunion.  On December 17, 1939, just five days before his 70th wedding anniversary, Private Sanders joined his comrades in arms.  Sanders, the last veteran in Calhoun County, was buried in Mars Hill Cemetery.
  William F. Geffcken  (left) was born on September 17, 1848.  At the age of 13 years  and six months, Geffcken enlisted in the “Coast Rifles” in Chatham County and served for the remainder of the war. Geffcken Street in the southern section of Dublin is named in his memory.  Fourteen-year-old Samuel Fleetwood enlisted in Co. B of the 57th Ga. Infantry in May 1862.  He died relatively young but lived a productive life in the Mt. Carmel Community near Dexter.
      At least a baker’s dozen 15-year-olds from Laurens County served in the war.  On October 13, 1861, just ten days beyond his fifteenth birthday, William A. Witherington enlisted in Co. C, 2nd Reg., 1st Bgde., Georgia State Troops.  The company became Co. C of the 57th Ga. Infantry.  He survived the near annihilation of his regiment at Champion’s Hill.   As Fifth Sergeant, the 18-year-old Witherington led his company’s charge in the first hours of the Battle of Atlanta in July 1864.  Sgt.     Witherington remained in the service until the surrender of the Army of the Tennessee on  April 26, 1865.    Witherington returned home and lived in the Dexter community, where he became a leading citizen. Robert F. Rozar enlisted in Co. G of the 49th Georgia Infantry in May 1862.  After fighting in most of the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862, he was discharged from the service for being under age.
      The last Laurens County man born who served in the war was Gideon B Towns. Born on Dec. 23, 1848, Towns enlisted in “The Telfair Volunteers,” Co. B., 49th Ga. in March 22, 1864 at the age of 15. William H. Mullis nearly made it through the war unscathed until six days before the end of fighting when he was captured and taken as a prisoner of war for nearly three months.  Dudley Keen suffered a wound at Kennesaw Mountain just a month before his 18th birthday, and after 25 months
of service. James L. Linder served in the Georgia Militia before his 16th birthday and after the war became one of Laurens County’s leading physicians.  William Kea, who four decades later would become a popular Laurens County Commissioner from the east side of the river, served all four years of the war.
      W.A. Jones served the entire war with Co. B, 57th Ga. Infantry, except for a short time when he was taken prisoner after the fall of Vicksburg.  William S. Graham enlisted in the 1st Bgde. of the State Troops in 1861.  Fourth Sergeant Graham served for the duration of the war, including the siege of Vicksburg and Battle of Atlanta.  Among the others in the middle of their second decade of life were:  John W. Raffield, J.I. Mathis, Thomas A. Smith, W.A. Jones, William J. Jones and Thomas D. Currell.
      As a sixteen-year-old, James T. McDaniel was ready to fight and to die for the Confederacy.  As a battle-hardened veteran of the Chancellorsville, Gettysburg,  Spotsylvania, the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, McDaniel grew weary of war, left his command and took the oath of allegiance to the United States in the summer of 1864. A year after his enlistment, 17-year-old Robert Dixon was wounded in his hip during the campaign for Vicksburg.  John Floyd Thomas was wounded at Chancellorsville in May 1862 and again at Spotsylvania C.H. two years later.  He was taken prisoner and spent most of the rest of his teen-age years in a Union prison W.J. Thomas lost his right eye when he was struck by a mini ball at Deep Bottom, Va. during the long siege of Petersburg.  Among the 16-year-olds from Laurens County who served in the Confederate Army were Thomas R. Windham, J.P. Scarborough, Henry T. Jones, S.K. Passmore, Henry E. Moorman, John Brown Jones, Starkey Daniel and H.H. Wynn.
      Soldiers on both sides of the war rapidly developed a fondness for the upbeat and optimistic song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”  While few  of the survivors of the bloodiest war in American history actually  marched home in gaiety (they hobbled and struggled all the way back), all of the young Laurens County boys who left their school books and playgrounds behind to whip the Yankees returned alive. Hurrah! Hurrah!


Dexter Man Makes Uncle Sam Proud

As we celebrate the 240th  anniversary of our country’s Declaration of Independence which proclaims the freedoms which we continue to enjoy, let us take a look back to the early fall of 1918, when the Allied Expeditionary Force was making it’s final push into Eastern France and to victory over the forces of the crumbling German empire.  This is the story of an American hero, Bill Brown of Dexter, Georgia.  For his heroic exploits, Sergeant Brown was awarded medals by the American and French governments while he was a member of the 167th Regiment of the Alabama National Guard.

In the summer of 1917, the Alabama National Guard was assigned to the 42nd Army Division.  Nicknamed the “Rainbow Division,” the 42nd was composed of national guard regiments from twenty six states.   Bill Brown and his fellow Alabamians left home for France  on November 6, 1917,  just in time for the coming of the bitter winter.   After several months of training in defensive positions, the 167th moved to Luneville on  February 24, 1918. By April, the 42nd became the first American division to occupy an entire sector.

As a part of the Twenty-first Corps of the Fourth Army, the 42nd saw action in the  Battle of Chateau-Thierry in July 1918, one of the famous battles of the entire war.  Fighting was brutal and often took place from trench to trench.  One Rainbow division member described fighting in the trenches.  “Our (first) trench was an old one and pretty well shot to pieces. The first night I was in it, it was very quiet, no artillery at all. The only thing that broke the silence was once in awhile a sniper
would shoot at something, and the rats running around sounded like someone chasing after you ... Standing post at night is something --you see there is thirty feet of wire in front of our trench and the posts are put in very irregular. It is almost impossible to find a place where you could see clear through the wire, even in daylight, and at night, every post or broken tree looks like a man and if you look long enough the object seems to move.  The first night I stood post, I imagined the trees were men and at times I saw them stoop down and climb over the wire, but after that I was used to it and learned how to tell a man from a tree. If you give a false alarm it means that the fellows who are sleeping in dugouts are wakened and have to come up and "stand to." At the best, the fellows get very little sleep, and if there are any alarms, they get none at all. So the wise Hun has all kinds of ways to coax an alarm; cats are used, and they have whistles that make moaning noises. You hear a cat on the wire and one of these whistles are blown, and you look out and think there is a man cutting the wire, and let her go ... It rained only once while we were in and it was bad enough in dry weather, but when you have to stand in mud, it must be hell. We were troubled quite a little by snipers, stick your head over and zip---they use a high power air gun, and there is no flash, so they are very hard to locate.”

The 167th regiment opened the attack  on the Croix Rouge Farm. As Brigadier General Henry J. Riley has written, "The capture of the Croix Rouge Farm and clearing belongs in that list of military exploits which cannot fail to excite the admiration of those who hear the tale because of the determination and gallantry displayed." The success at Croix Rouge led the breaking of the German line in the Marne Salient.  The regiment next saw action at  the crossing of the Ouroq and the battles of  Sergy Hill and St. Mihiel.

Sergeant Bill Brown, a son of Mrs. Ada Brown of Ozark, Alabama, was assigned to Company G of the 167th Regiment.   On the 14th of October, 1918, Bill’s company became heavily engaged at Landres-et St. Georges at Chattelon, near Chalon’s, during an operation dubbed the Argonne-Meuse offensive.  German artillerists and machine gunners were enfilading the company with intense fire. Artillery support on behalf of the American advance was scant at best.  Alabamians were falling one right after another.  During the heat of the conflict, Brown was first struck by a artillery shell fragment and temporarily put out of commission.  Sgt. Brown recovered only to be stunned by a dose of phosgene gas.    Not one to lie down, Brown gathered his wits and organized his platoon and led them in overrunning the German positions in their front.  When the smoke cleared, only fourteen of the fifty eight men of Company G had survived.  In downplaying his heroism, Brown said, “It would have never happened, if that shell had not hit me first.  I know how to use a gas mask.  There were only fourteen men left and no noncoms. I couldn’t very well leave them in that shape, so I stayed on.”

General Charles P. Summerall, the 167th’s brigade commander, summarized his admiration of the bravery of the Alabamians. “Of all things mentioned in the history of the American Army, the most exacting it was ever called upon to do was take the "Cote de Chattelon" in the Argonne, the key to the "Kreimmlde Stellung" or strong line of defense of the German Army.  That the Alabamians did, and without that accomplishment the American Army's advance on November  would have been utterly impossible.  Of all things I have pride in, it is the fact that I was in command of troops who brought about that wonderful feat of arms.”

For reorganizing his platoon and showing utter disregard for danger and inspiring his men by remarkable courage and devotion to duty, Sgt. Bill Brown was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with a gold star, one of only thirty-four of the prestigious medals awarded to American soldiers for outstanding bravery on a corps level.  The medal took the form of a cross surmounted by crossed swords, the centrepiece bearing the head of the Republic of France.  In addition to the French award, Sgt. Brown was awarded the Alabama State Medal, which was awarded to the twelve hundred survivors of the Alabama National Guard. The Guard numbered three thousand seven hundred at the beginning of the “War to End All Wars.”

It took a month for Colonel Bailey of the Atlanta Recruiting Station to find Sergeant Brown and award him his medals.    Bailey presented Brown with the Medal Militaire authorized by Field Marshal Petain of the French Army.   Petain, the leader of the French forces in World War I, was later vilified as the leader of the Nazi supported French Vichy army in World War II, a position which led to a death sentence, but one which was later commuted to life in prison for the 90-year-old former French hero.   During his service in France in the Rainbow Division, Sgt. Brown came in contact with one of the most famous soldiers in American history. This 42nd’s assistant division commander was elevated to the command of the division on the day before the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.  He rose to fame in World War II as the commander of American forces in the Pacific. His name was General Douglas MacArthur.

All of this ballyhoo came after Brown’s awarding of the Distinguished Service Cross by President Woodrow Wilson on November 27, 1918.   Brown was one of ten fellow Alabamians given the nation’s second highest award for heroism. The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor; while engaged in an action against an enemy of the Unites States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing/foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing Armed Force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades.

President Wilson's citation read:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Bill Brown (ASN: 97125), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company G, 167th Infantry Regiment, 42d Division, A.E.F., near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, 16 October 1918. During the attack on the Cote-de-Chatillon, after having been severely wounded and gassed, Sergeant Brown refused to go to the hospital, realizing that his presence with his platoon, which had suffered heavy casualties, would greatly assist in the attack. He reorganized his platoon and personally led it in the attack, later consolidating his positions, thereby setting an example of utter disregard for danger and inspiring his men by his remarkable courage and devotion to duty.

After the war, Bill Brown moved to Dexter to engage in the study of agricultural science under the federal board of vocational education.  In an interview with a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution ten months after the war Brown said, “I have forgotten most of that war stuff, but it pleases me that my folks will read about it.”  He was more interested in getting on with his agricultural training than reliving his military training under the most horrific battle conditions seen by American soldiers to that time.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


This photo, taken in 1919, shows a barbecue at the home
of farmer, businessman and banker, Captain William B. Rice.
Rice called his home Brookwood.  He built it in the center of
a large plantation which was centered on the grounds of the Carl Vinson
V.A. Medical Center on Veteran's Boulevard in Dublin

Friday, August 19, 2016



Hot Fun In The Summertime

It was in the long hot summer of 1941, when midgets  raced along the sandy soil ridges surrounding Session’s Lake north of Dublin.  No, I am not talking about little people driving cars or
staging a foot race.  These midget car  races, sponsored by the Dublin Lions Club, were held in August of 1941 before large crowds. Then came the great war and the world changed forever.  After the war, the race course disappeared and the grounds were transformed into the Dublin Country Club.

Sessions Lake, first opened by Dublin mayor Dee Sessions, was operated by Linton Malone and his family. The lake lies along the southern end of today’s Dublin Country Club, which then was
located along the current Hillcrest Parkway between Claxton Dairy and Brookhaven Drive.  Session’s Lake featured top notch swimming facilities, including diving boards, floats and canoes.  A dance hall and skating rink were the favorite spot for those who were young at heart and in forever in love.

It all began with the community’s annual 4th of July celebration.  Observers stated that it was the largest Independence Day crowd ever to assemble in the county.   Twenty young ladies entered the beauty contest. Only 15 competed as a torrential thunderstorm delayed their arrival, not to mention a snarled traffic jam along the then dirt Blackshear’s Ferry Road.  Bobbie Cullens won the contest. Ruth Hattaway, of Sandersville, and Wylene Holmes finished as runners up.

In those days, fast cars were all the rage.  So, Malone, a successful entrepreneur, staged a  car race across a simple open field. Grady Sumner, of Wrightsville,  drove his 1927 model car to
the finish line first to capture the sole car race of the day over a field of five contestants.

Water sports contests were held as well.  Jack Flanders of Dublin won the diving contest and Fred Middlebrooks won the under-17 swimming race.

Just after the 4th of July holiday, Linton Malone staged motorcycle trial races  among 42 riders on a Sunday, July 7, 1941.   Malone, buoyed by the enthusiasm following the trials before a crowd of 1500 people,  began to formulate plans for a permanent track on his amusement area.

J.C. Beasley and Joe Stapleton, both of Macon, won the slow division crown and the three-lap race respectively.

Malone, who was also President of the Dublin Lions Club, convinced his fellow members  to sponsor races as a money making opportunity for the club’s charitable projects.  And, he was right. Thousands of people came and plunked down their silver coins for admission for days of fun in the sun.

As a preview to the midget car races, the Lions Club sponsored motorcycle races between the best Harley and Indian bike racers in Middle Georgia.  More than 100 cyclists entered the races, which were held on July 26 along a one-mile oval track.

As the crowds began to swell with each passing event, Malone built a grandstand and other improvements to make the race more exciting for the swelling throng of fans.

Tragedy struck Malone and his family. When a cataclysmic fire destroyed the Malone’s modest home,  Mrs. Malone and her young son, Mike, suffered slight burns.  The Malones lost everything they owned except  the clothes on their backs. Linton Malone, who  was attending a State Defense Corps meeting  and was still in uniform, returned to see his home lying in smoldering ashes.  A visitor, who was  taking a bath at the time of the fire, chose life over modesty and escaped only a towel.

For the first time ever in Laurens County, midget race car drivers competed against each other. Fifteen racers came from all parts of Georgia and Florida and as far away as St. Louis and Chicago. Art Chandler promoted the six-event race which started at 3:00 in the afternoon on  Sunday, August 17.

Larry Varrier, a veteran midget racer from  Miami, Florida, topped Wayne Winn, of Tampa, Florida. Varrier (left)  and Winn were the only two racers to  finish the feature race.  All of the other drivers were forced out with mechanical  roblems.  Varrier finished the three-mile race in 5 minutes and 17.8 seconds.  A crowd favorite was Bud Porter of Detroit, Michigan, who drove a V8 - 60-horsepower

Winn and Walt Raines finished with the fastest times in the time trials with a 21.6 second time over the 0.3 mile track. Bill Blalock, of Atlanta, and Winn won the two heat races.  In the match
race, Varrier came in first, followed by Winn and Blalock.

Other racers that day included: Raines, Ben Harleman, Cly Schneider, Joe Gluck, Vern McFarren, Herman Bachman and  Clarence LeRue.

The first day of racing caused severe damage to the sandy track.  Malone added more clay and improved the drainage, especially in the dangerous sand-banked curves.  The new track guaranteed faster times and more excitement for the fans.

The second races were held the following Sunday on August 24.  Varrier, (LEFT) once again, was the top man on the track.  He won the three-mile feature race with a time of 6 minutes and 13 seconds, bested Blalock in the first match race, posted the fastest time trial and captured the first heat race.

Bill Blalock finished 2nd in the feature race followed by Wilcoxson.  Bud Porter finished with the fastest heat time with a 2-minute, 12 second mark. Webb Shultz defeated Wilcoxson in the second match race.  In the third heat race, the order of finish was:  Blalock, Wilcoxson, and J. C. Crumley, who also beat Joe Gluck in the Australian pursuit race.

Just when the excitement of the races and the cooling fun of that summer reached a peak on Labor Day weekend, people began to think of school and the war which they knew would come all too soon.  And, the days of midget racing were gone forever.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016



Georgia’s First Land Lottery

Two centuries ago the State of Georgia was about to embark on a unique method of dispersing its lands to its citizens.  Authorized by the Georgia Legislature in 1803, the Land Lottery of 1805 was the first of its kind in the young nation, at least on a massive scale.  For the next quarter century, nearly three quarters of Georgia would be awarded to fortunate drawers or those wealthy enough or those willing to move their homes and families to the wilderness of uninhabited lands.

For seven decades, lands in Georgia were granted by the King of England or through a system known as headrights.    Headrights were usually reserved to heads of families and as bounties for soldiers of the Continental Army.  Grants were subject to bribery and as rewards for political favors. During the 1790s, two scandals, the Yazoo Fraud and the Pine Barrens Scandal, tainted the system, though neither were directly involved in the distribution of lands between the Ogeechee and Oconee

Future site of Dublin, 1805.

On May 11, 1803, the legislature enacted a statute providing for a lottery system to divide the lands of the newly created counties of Wilkinson, Baldwin and Wayne.  Wilkinson County encompassed all the land bounded by the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers  lying south of a line running 45 degrees southwest from Fort Wilkinson, while Baldwin County would contain all of the land lying north of the line. The enabling act provided that  Wilkinson County be divided into five land districts divided into land lots containing 202.5 acres each. Fractional lots were often necessary to allocate lands which lay along land district lines.  All of the 1st Land District and a large portion of the 2nd Land District lie within the bounds of current day Laurens County.

Garland Hardwick, 2nd District Surveyor, began surveying the 2nd Land District of Wilkinson County on May 13, 1804.  Hardwick, with the aid of John Vining, William Clark, Isaac Shores and Jesse Lively completed the survey on November 6, 1804.  Eleven days later, 1st District Surveyor James Lamar began his survey of the 1st Land District at the lower end of the lands distributed by the 1805 Land Lottery.  John Foalk, George Johnson, Robert Fullingame, Thomas Brantley, John Roberts and James Miller carried the chains until the work was finally completed on April 5, 1805.  These men worked under difficult circumstances at best.  Most of the Indians were gone, but there were no places around to get food and supplies. They either killed their own game, gathered fruits and ferries, or were provided supplies by merchants east of the Oconee in Washington and Montgomery counties.

Each surveyor hired two chain carriers, who carried a half-chain with a length of two perches or thirty-three feet and which was composed of fifty links.  The surveyor established the direction of the lot or district line, on which the chain carriers laid the chain down forty-five times for each side of a land lot.   Axe men were necessary to removable obstacles along the line and to mark boundary line trees and corners with chop marks on wooden stakes.  The surveyor was required to post a bond in the amount of ten thousand dollars to insure the faithful discharge of the trusted reposed in and the duties required of them.  The surveyor was compensated by the mile at the rate of two dollars and seventy-five cents per mile. Out of this payment, the surveyor had to pay the chain carriers, axe men and all other expenses in connection with the work.

The first lottery was held on July 22, 1805.  In order to qualify for the lottery, prospective aspiring land owners had to file a written application to the Inferior Court within their county.  Single white males over 21 and minor orphans and families of orphans were entitled to one draw.  Male head of households and widows with minor orphans were given two chances to draw a prized lot.  Soldiers of the Continental Army, who had heretofore been given preference in choosing lands, were given no special privileges.   Jared Irwin, a former and future governor of Georgia and resident of Washington County, was President of the Lottery Commission.

The First Land District was composed of 246 whole lots and 60 fractional lots.  The district included all of the land south of the mouth of the county’s northernmost Rocky Creek between the Oconee River and Turkey Creek.  The first whole lot (17) drawn was awarded to the orphans of John Taylor of Washington County.   On September 11, 1805, Lister Crafford, Charles Whitehead and Avery Dye became the first persons to pay the fee of $4.00 per hundred acres to obtain their grants in the district. William Hill, of Greene Co.,  was granted Land Lot 232 upon which the town of Dublin would be created seven years later.  Thacker Vivion and Cornelious Whittenton were among the few drawers who obtained prizes with both draws, as was James Lucky of Augusta who lived up to his name when he was awarded Lot 92.

Blackshear's Ferry Area, 1805.
Blue line is the Lower Uchee Trail,
which crossed the Oconee River
at Carr's Bluff. 

Ironically the most valuable lands were not the whole lots but the fractional lots  lying along the Oconee River and Turkey Creek.  A public auction was held at the capital in Louisville to auction off the lots to the highest bidders, who obtained their grants on February 1, 1806.  Especially prized were the lots for the location of lucrative ferries.  Elijah Blackshear bought five lots at the site of the first
Blackshear’s Ferry. Just down the river at the site of the present day Blackshear’s Ferry, James and William Beatty purchased two fractional lots for their ferry, the first authorized by Laurens County. General John Scott, a prominent early founder of Baldwin County, bought two lots at the point where the Lower Uchee Trail crossed the Oconee at Carr’s Bluff.  Gen. Scott also bought a lot up the river at the mouth of Rocky Creek.  Nearer the future site of Dublin, George Gaines bought a large fractional lot which became the eastern part of the town. Gaines was granted a license in 1806 by the Montgomery County Inferior Court to establish a ferry at the point where an old Indian trail from Indian Springs to Savannah crossed the river. Even further down the river, William Neel bought lots to establish his ferry, which was located at the current day site of the Riverview Golf Course. Jonathan Sawyer, who founded Dublin in 1811, bought a fractional land lot at Fish Trap Cut where the river was at one of its narrowest points.  Seymour Bonner purchased the last fractional lot (26) on the Telfair Road at Turkey Creek  on February 28, 1856.

The Second Land District encompassed 340 lots in Wilkinson County and Laurens County, which embraced 174 whole lots (156 in 2005)  and 28 fractional lots.   These lots were located between Turkey Creek and the river and north of the mouth of Rocky Creek.  Holland Summer, Joseph Tilley, Malachi Maund and John Kent, all of Burke County, moved quickly and were awarded their grants on
September 4, 1805.  As was the case in the First Land District Turkey Creek lands, those at the point where the Uchee Trail crossed Turkey Creek were especially prized by bidders.  James Thompson, Laurens County’s first sheriff, bought Lot 3.  Edmond Hogan, one of the county’s first justices of the Inferior Court, purchased lots 7 and 8 at the point where the Gallimore Trail would soon cross Turkey Creek.  John Thomas, son of Peter Thomas, whose home was used for the first session of Laurens County Superior Court, secured 171.5 acres of prime land at the trail crossing site.

Because of an early fire in the Wilkinson County courthouse it is difficult to determine how many of the fortunate drawers actually took up their grants within the first year.  As many as half of the grants were probably sold to settlers, land speculators and adjoining land owners.  The unpredicted success of the 1805 lottery led to a second lottery in 1807, which disbursed the remaining lands of Laurens
County west of the Oconee.



Monday, August 15, 2016


 Left to right: Oland Clark, Re; Preston Ward, C; Hugh Burch LE; Adrian Purvis, QB, Wallace Lamb (HB) and Ralston Heath, FB. 

The Return to Bull Run

The Return to Bull Run

The end of the summer of 1862 saw General Robert E. Lee's forces return to the scene of the first Confederate victory at Bull Run or Manassas, as it was called by people in the South.  Lee hoped to continue his successes of the Seven Days Battles. Southern generals Stonewall Jackson and A.P. Hill reached Brandy Station on the south side of the Rappahannock River on August 24.  Three days later,
Jackson marched 54 miles northwest completely around Pope toward Manassas Gap.  On the 28th of August, Hill moved from Centreville to join Ewell at Blackburn's Ford, where they crossed Bull Run and moved south toward Manassas Junction. Hill took his men back across Bull Run and moved them up the northeast side of the creek toward the Warrentown Turnpike, where he turned to the southwest and crossed Bull Run for a third time.  Participating in that battle were the Blackshear Guards and Laurens Volunteers of Laurens County and the Johnson Grays and Battleground Guards of Johnson County, along with a host of other local companies from east-central Georgia.

Gen. Jackson assigned Hill to protect the mill and ford at Sudley Springs.  On the morning of the 29th, E.L. Thomas formed his brigade, including the Blackshear Guards, Laurens Volunteers and Johnson Grays, along the western margin of an unfinished railroad (left)  east of the Grovetown to Sudley Road.  Union general Pope had hoped to use his superior forces to crush Hill before the rest of Lee's army joined the fight.  Thomas discovered that the ground was a little higher to the west and moved back toward the road.  Thomas also found impediments in placing his artillery in the woods.  By noon, Union skirmishers, mainly composed of German regiments, began firing on Gregg's Brigade on Thomas's left.  The Federal forces moved back after a brief skirmish.  Thomas moved his men back to the railroad shifting his line to his right and  leaving  a 125-yard gap along a break in the railroad bed where it passed through a swamp.

Grover moved his Federal Division in front of the gap between Gregg and Thomas, who knew nothing of Grover's approach. Thomas’ men escaped the battle that morning. But  Grover's men closed to within a few yards of the railroad before they spotted the Confederate line.  Thomas's men stood up and fired.  Grover launched a hand to hand combat attack through the gap and overran the 49th Georgia on Thomas's left.  Thomas retreated back toward the Grovetown Road with many casualties. The move was described by onlookers as "like opening swinging doors."   Grover lost one in six of his men during the first attack.  Thomas  moved to his left and rallied the 49th Georgia.  The fighting was fierce with a crossfire of less than ten yards.  Thomas's left was strengthened by the 14th S.C. and Pender's Brigade.  Grover retreated in 30 minutes after losing another sixth of his men.

Federal forces under Gen. Kearney launched another attack at five o'clock running into Gregg and Thomas's skirmishers.  Once again, Thomas was nearly surrounded by Federals.  This time Thomas's Brigade stood firm.  Gregg was nearly out of ammunition.  Gen. Jubal Early came to the rescue, saving Thomas and Gregg, who had moved back to Stoney Ridge.  Early, with his twenty five-hundred fresh men, crushed the Federals, who hastily retired to end the day’s fighting.  The battle shifted to the southwest on the 30th with Thomas on the extreme Confederate left.  Thomas lost 155 men, killed or wounded, during the battle.   Corp. James C. Lee, who was killed in action, was the only casualty of the Blackshear Guards.  Capt. James T. Chappell and privates John M. Burch, Uriah S. Fuller and William H. Wright,  all of the Laurens Volunteers,  were wounded in the first day of the battle.  John D. Wolfe of the Volunteers was killed.  William G. Pearson was wounded on the second day.

Johnson Grays Francis J. Flanders, Williamson T. Flanders, Jonathan B. Smith and John Walker were wounded during the first day's fighting.  Future Laurens Countians Sgt. G.W. Belcher (Co. C. 20th), William Cranford (Co. E, 26th) and Lt. James Mincey (Co. D, 61st) were wounded during the two-day battle.

The 48th Georgia was a part of Gen. Ransom Wright's Brigade of General R.H. Anderson's Division.  The Division was attached to the Right Wing of the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General James Longstreet.  During a grueling march, Quincey L. Black, A.J. Foskey, and Wilson Riner had to fall out of line.  Ransom Wright, a Louisville-born attorney, commanded a Georgia Brigade composed of the 3rd, 22nd, 44th, and 48th Georgia Regiments.

At 4:50 p.m. on the afternoon of August 30, the 48th Georgia moved out from its resting place on the Brawner Farm.  Anderson's Division crossed to the south of the Warrenton Turnpike and set out on a two-mile march toward Henry Hill. During the march, the Confederates were subjected to  artillery fire from Dogan's Ridge.  Three thousand Georgians opened the assault by pressing the Federal lines along the Sudley Road.

At the height of the fighting, the 48th Georgia moved to Jones' right.  Wright brought his brigade to the far right in support of Gen. G.T. Anderson's brigade,  who were being fired on before their lines could be formed.  Mahone's brigade fell in on Wright's right flank and  extended the Confederate right far beyond the Union left flank.  The Federal lines were caught in a bad position.  Many elements of the Confederate forces were crossing the road.  The Confederates failed to press the attack and allowed the Union army to regroup.  The 15th and 17th Georgia regiments fell back. Anderson's Division and the 48th held their position.  James Neal, of the Battleground Guards, was killed in the fighting.   James W. Rowland suffered a wound.   Though Anderson failed to discern that an attack would have cut the Federal lines, his default did not end the assault on the Federal lines.

Wright and Anderson's brigades continued to pressure the Union lines at slow place until an hour after dark.  Wright's fatigued men were replaced by Wilcox's and Drayton's brigade.  Longstreet's Corps continued the attack forcing Pope's Yankees into a retreat. At the end of the battle Lee's forces were in position to launch an attack deep into the North.  Gen. Lee hoped his success at the Second Manassas would lead his army to victories in Maryland and beyond.  Little did General Lee realize the devastating carnage that would follow in the succeeding battles of Antietam/Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

In summarizing the battle, a Federal survivor of the attack on Hill’s line said, "The slope was swept by a hurricane of death, and each minute seemed twenty hours long." An artilleryman in Hill’s division, put it this way, "When the Sun went down, their dead were heaped in front of that incomplete railway, and we sighed with relief, for Longstreet could be seen coming into position on our right.  The crisis was over ..., but the sun went down so slowly."