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

Friday, September 30, 2016


      In the years following World War I, travel across America began to rise rapidly. Every community across the country was trying to find a way to attract travelers to their towns.  One such effort took place along U.S. Highway 441 and right here in Dublin.  The project borrowed the idea of naming a major highway in honor of Joel Chandler Harris’s beloved storybook character Uncle Remus.

Joel Chandler Harris was born on December 9, 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia.  Although a successful journalist who promoted a “New South” and  reconciliation between the North and South and the two races, is best known for his Uncle Remus stories. Harris, a former plantation apprentice, rose to the rank of associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution.

Walt Disney produced a partially animated film, “Song of the South,” as a musical version of Harris’ Uncle Remus tales.  The movie was a great success, primarily for its musical score including the classic song, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

It is not known if Joel Chandler Harris ever ventured from his home in Atlanta or in Eatonton  to Dublin.  But, one of his pupils did.  James Turner Manry worked as a printer’s apprentice and by family lore, helped  contribute to Harris’s tales of Uncle Remus.  On occasion, he would visit his son, W.R. Manry, of Dublin.

In the mid 1930s, the original backers of the first Uncle Remus Highway envisioned a major tourist route from Washington, D.C. through Charlottesville, Va., over the Blue Ridge Mountains and Athens, Ga. before reaching it’s terminus in Macon. Too many highway seekers jumped on the band wagon and wound up killing the first project.

In the early summer of 1948, members of the Suwanee River Highway met in Milledgeville to organize the “Uncle Remus Highway”  to run from Dillard in North Georgia to Lake City Florida, where it would join the Orange Blossom Trail.  The plans were made to coincide with the 100th birthday celebration of Joel Chandler Harris.  The organizers also wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the book and  “Song of the South” hoping that every one would be singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah as they rode down the highway.  And, of course, with Eatonton right on the path of the highway, the “Uncle Remus” name was a logical choice.

As the project began to take shape, Dublin’s Sarah Orr Williams and others began to publicize the assets of Dublin.  In a late 1948 issue of Georgia Tourist Guide, the editors wrote, “Still traveling a hard surfaced highway the traveler passes through the attractive Middle Georgia towns of McIntyre and Irwinton to Dublin, named for the city in Ireland.  Near Dublin is Blackshear’s Ferry on the Oconee River, the oldest of its kind in operation in the United States. The use of this ferry dates from the days of the Indians, before Ogelthorpe landed at Savannah.”  That definitive statement was not even substantially correct, except for the fact that the ferry was located near where an ancient Indian trail crossed the Oconee River.  However, it sounded real good in the travel magazine, which proclaimed that the Uncle Remus Highway offers a historic and scenic drive through the Empire State of the South.

B.H. Lord, the head of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, was named as a director of the Uncle Remus Highway Association.   In May of 1950, Lord was named president of the Uncle Remus Highway Association.  E.H. Scott of Milledgeville was selected as the secretary-treasurer.  W.D. Bolton, of Commerce, and O.K. Holmes, of Lake City, Florida, were selected as first and second vice presidents.

In Dublin, businessmen wasted little time in trying to capitalize on the theme of the new highway.  J. Lanier and Edith Allgood built the Brer Rabbit Hotel on North Jefferson Street in 1951.  The hotel featured life size wooden cut out figures of Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus characters.  The hotel featured its own dining room and was one of the first motels in Dublin to have a swimming pool.  Allgood went on to become the first head of the Highway 441 Association.

In the summer of 1952, Roy Harkleroad and his wife, Lucille, opened the Briar Patch Restaurant  just north of the Brer Rabbit Motel.  The “Briar Patch” became a Dublin institution for three decades The Briar Patch, a popular teen hangout in the 1950s and 1960s, became a popular eating spot for  all ages.  One of the more popular features were the photographs of its patrons on the walls.  Next door was a 3-hole golf course for those travelers wishing to keep up with their golf game.

Uncle Remus was so popular in Dublin in the early 1950s that Harold and Iris Ward hosted an “Uncle Remus Party” for their daughter Connie in 1953.  Connie and her friends had a grand time at the party which was complete with story telling, costumes and games.

After about five years, the emphasis on Uncle Remus faded and a more concentrated effort was put into an association of cities and towns all along Highway 441.  

The 939-mile Highway 441 runs from Miami, Florida to Rocky Top, Tennessee.  Originally, the highway began in Ocala, Florida and ran southward to Orlando.  By 1948, the highway was extended northward to Baldwin in Banks County, Georgia.   Four years later, the current highway was completed.  Highway 441 became an artery to Florida bound travelers  with its Federal highway connections through the cities of Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio to the  the mid western cities of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. Along the way were the tourist Meccas of Cherokee, North Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee on the north and Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami, Florida.

The effort to attract visitors to Dublin and Laurens was revived once again in 1963. Bill Lovett led the effort to establish a welcome center, several miles north of Dublin on Highway 441.    Known as the first municipal welcome center in Georgia, the tourist stopover remained popular until the coming of Interstate Highway 75 from Michigan to Miami.  The center finally closed in the spring of 1977.

With interstate highways and jet airplanes, the days of traveling with your family for long distances down narrow, winding highways like 441 are almost gone now.  For those who still  remember the wonderful feelings of riding with your family with plenty of sunshine headed your way, I hope you have a wonderful day.


Monday, September 26, 2016


Laurens County's first chain motel, the
Holiday Inn at U.S. 441/319.  The motel was 
opened in 1967 before the interstate highway
was opened.

Friday, September 23, 2016



There is a time when young men yearn to wander - to tramp around the country or jaunt half way around the world to seek out the glories of fame, to acquire the riches of great fortunes or to simply experience the thrills of adventure.  As old men, they revel in telling the tall tales of their glorious youth to any eager listener.

This is the story of one such man, known to millions around the world as “Trader Horn,” but rarely by his Christian birth name of “Albert Aloysius Smith.”  Just over a century ago, Horn wandered into the Southeastern United States, and, in the particular, Wilcox County in southern Central Georgia.

Born on June 21, 1861 in Lancashire, England, Albert’s parents also named him Aloysius for that very day known as Saint Aloysius Day in the Catholic Church.  Often changing his last name, Albert settled on the surname of Horn.  Some knew him as “Zambezi Jack.”

Known as “Uncle Pat” to his newfound friends in Abbeville and Rochelle and most points in between, Horn was first greeted by Jonathan Walker in Abbeville about the year 1913.  Walker, a wealthy man who did not dress the part, was thought to have been another wandering vagrant by Horn, who kindly offered his assistance to his new friend.   Walker, in return, surprised Horn with the offer of using one of his vacant houses as Horn’s shelter from the elements.   Horn slept on a skimpy mat and did his own cooking with whatever utensils he could muster.

“Uncle Pat” earned his keep by drawing four dollars a week working for J.P. Carter as a brick mason.  To support his meager income as a laborer, Horn began to paint landscapes and other subjects.    Some of his paintings survived for many decades in at least one local home.  He painted another  for sheriff Ben Edwards.  In his comprehensive article on “Trader Horn,” Dan Magill, father of University of Georgia’s legendary journalist and booster of the same name,  wrote in a March 25, 1928 article for the Macon Telegraph that Horn sold kitchen trinkets.

Not too long after Horn came to town, his daughter, Marie Scales and her son Sandy immigrated from France to the United States as World War I began to escalate.  At Horn’s invitation, Marie and Sandy came to live with Horn.  Immediately Mrs. Scales began to spruce up her father’s shack into a decent home in the sawmill community of Kramer for her son and herself.  Her husband, Will, would arrive several months later.

In his landmark work ,”Tramp Royal: The True Story of Trader Horn,” Tim Couzens quotes Sandy Scales, Horn’s grandson, who tells of a woman, “She arrived at the house where Aloysius and the Scales family lived. The boards rattled as she walked across the porch, and the shack seemed to be in a terrible condition. It was probably either one of those houses of the Gress's employees or part of the convicts' accommodation!  But she was astounded when Will Scales came out wearing a tuxedo with tails! He was 'like a prince'. Mrs Hillis talks of the regal way in which the Scales family carried themselves even though they were considered refugees by the townspeople.”

Couzens believed that Horn's paintings were influenced by his adventures in  Africa adventures as well as his brief stay in Wilcox County.  Horn and his family were well known and like.  His daughter Marie performed musical concerts and worked as a house keeper in a local boarding house.   Marie inherited some of her father’s skills as an artist.

But what the townsfolk of Rochelle and Abbeville remembered the most were the interesting and thrilling stories. Horn, could mesmerize any crowd, of all ages and all races with his stories of adventures into the darkest and most dangerous regions of Africa, although according to his former boss, J.P.Carter, he was “never one to socialize” in his two plus year stay in Rochelle.

Horn’s usual  podium was around the cracker barrel of the store of W.S. Blackshear in Rochelle.  Eventually, Horn would tour the great halls of the United States and his native England telling the stories of his greatest adventures.

Just about a decade after he left Wilcox County, Horn sat down and began to write the story of his life and his adventures in Africa.  He called his book, “ Trader Horn; being the life and works of Aloysius Horn, an "Old Visitor.”  A few years later, with the aid of Ethelreda Lewis, the book was published by Simon & Schuster and became a best seller in 1927.

“This is the stuff of legends - the true story of the life of Trader Horn.  Down on his luck in his old age, Horn recounted his wild youth as an ivory trader in Central Africa, journeying into jungles teaming with buffalo, gorillas and man-eating leopards; liberating a princess from captivity; navigating treacherous rivers; freeing slaves, and meeting Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. Trader Horn is a vivid and unforgettable portrait of a vanished period in African history. An amazing book .... It cast a spell over me,” wrote a book reviewer for the New York Times.

The book was made into a movie in 1931.  The movie made Hollywood history as the first  non-documentary movie ever filmed in the continent of Africa.  W.S. Van Dyke directed the film which starred Harry Carey, Sr. and Edwina Booth.  Booth became so ill during the filming that she never made another film.  Co-starring as “Peru” was Duncan Renaldo, who went on to fame in the 1950s as the “Cisco Kid.”

Albert Aloyisious “Trader” Horn died in June 21, 1931, five days after his 70th birthday.   The movie of his life, which was remade in 1973,  was released that same year as a fitting eulogy.   His family never took up the offer of his first Abbeville friend, Jonathan Walker, to have Horn  buried in his family cemetery.

I will not attempt to tell you about the African  adventures of the man they called “Trader Horn.” Sufficed to say that you will need to buy the book and read Horn’s own words.


This article was written in tribute to my great grandfather, Robert E. Stubbs, Sr., a farmer, once successful saw mill operator and a contemporary of Trader Horn in Rochelle. “Pop Stubbs’‘ was a teller of tale tales too.  His greatest adventure may have been when his son, “Uncle Billy,” graduated from West Point and “Pop” invaded the kitchen of the U.S. Military Academy to  promptly instruct the northern cooks on the proper way to cook grits. He too suffered financial hard times when he filed bankruptcy and lost his three saw mills in Abbeville, Hazlehurst and Surrency, not to mention the devastating loss of the cotton crop during the World War I and even more disastrous losses during the Great Depression.  If I could turn back the hands of time, I would go back and listen for weeks  to “Pop Stubbs” and his first wife’s kinsman, Guy Fuller, a legendary story teller of Wilcox County as they told their tallest of tales.  


Wednesday, September 21, 2016



A Man to Whom Friendship Was Paramount    

History was ade in Georgia's capitol building when for the first time ever, the State of Georgia recognized and honored an African-American Confederate Soldier. Governor Sonny Perdue signed his annual proclamation honoring Confederate Memorial Day by recognizing Bill Yopp, a native of Laurens County, for his contributions to the State of Georgia. Bill Yopp is more than just a black Confederate soldier. Bill's life was not just that of a soldier, a porter, or a servant. His life was centered on the essential element of human life. His friendships transcended slavery, racism and politics. To Bill, friendship was paramount to any barriers set in his path of life.

William H. "Bill" Yopp, the fourth of eight siblings, was born in Laurens County, Georgia. Like his parents, he was a slave belonging to the family of Jeremiah Yopp. The Yopp family owned two major plantations. One was located in the western part of Dublin centered around the Brookwood Subdivision. A second was located along the eastern banks of Turkey Creek near the community known as Moore's Station. Other small plantations were scattered over the county. Jeremiah Yopp assigned Bill to his son, Thomas. Bill once said that he followed Thomas like "Mary's little lamb." The two instantly became friends. They fished, hunted and played together. Bill's childhood, while stifled by slavery, was molded by education and religion within the plantation, which included regular church services.

On January 16, 1861, John W. Yopp attended the Convention of Secession at the state capital in Milledgeville. Laurens Countians voted to side with the Cooperationists who favored remaining in the Union. Yopp, the largest plantation owner in western Laurens County, was joined by Dr. Nathan Tucker, a wealthy plantation owner from northeastern Laurens County. Dr. Tucker, a northerner by birth, voted to remain in the Union. Yopp cast his vote with the majority who voted for secession.

The first company of Confederate Soldiers in Laurens County was organized on July 9th, 1861 as the Blackshear Guards. The company eventually became attached to the 14th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Thomas Yopp was elected First Lieutenant. Nine days later Lt. Yopp was promoted to Captain when Rev. W.S. Ramsay was elected Lt. Colonel of the regiment. Bill desperately wanted to join Lieutenant Yopp. So, he enlisted in the Blackshear Guards as the company drummer. Marching in front of company going into battle was not the best place to be, especially if you cared about living. After the company completed its training in Atlanta, they moved to Lynchburg, Virginia just after the Battle of the First Manassas. In August, the company was sent to West Virginia, where they fought under the command of Gen. John B. Floyd, a former Secretary of War in the Buchanan Administration. Gen. Robert E. Lee was in overall command of the West Virginia campaign.

Bill often found himself between the battle lines. He often said "I had no inclination to go to the Union side, as I did not know the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers I did know, and I believed then as now, tried and true friends are better than friends you do not know." On several occasions, Private Yopp was sent out on foraging missions. Bill ceased to forage for food because his Captain and friend found it to be "wrong doing." Bill obtained a brush and box of shoe blackening and began to shine the shoes of the men of the regiment. He soon began performing other services for the men. Bill charged ten cents, no matter what the service was. The nickname of "Ten Cent Bill" was penned on Bill. Bill often had more money than anyone in the company. His fellow company members took delight in teaching him to read and write. When he was sick, they took care of him.

Bill had a case of home sickness. Captain Yopp paid for his trip home. Bill realized that his place was back  ith Captain Yopp in Virginia. During the winter of 1861, the company became part of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The first battle of the peninsular campaign of 1862 took place on May 31st.  The 14th Georgia, under the command of Gen. Wade Hampton, got into a bloody fight with the Federal forces. Four Confederate Generals were wounded or killed.

Captain Yopp was also wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines. Bill comforted Captain Yopp and accompanied him to the field hospital. After a short stay in a Richmond Hospital, Bill went back to Laurens County with the Captain, who recuperated from his injury and went back to join the company by the fall of 1862.

At the bloody siege of Fredericksburg, Captain Yopp fell when a shell burst over him. Again Bill was there, coming to the aid of his friend. Captain Yopp recovered during the winter. The company saw Stonewall Jackson being carried off to a field hospital at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Bill witnessed the pure carnage of Gettysburg from the company's position on Seminary Ridge. The Blackshear Guards missed most of the fighting those three days in July, 1863. On August 31, 1863 Capt. Yopp cashiered, or bought out his commission. He returned to the ranks as a private until April 2, 1864. Captain Yopp transferred to the Confederate Navy on board the cruiser "Patrick Henry." Bill was not allowed to go with Thomas Yopp.

By some accounts, Bill returned home until the close of the war. By another, and more official, record, he was present at Gen. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. In May of 1865, he learned of Captain Yopp's return home. He left just in time to see the wagon train of Confederate President Jefferson Davis during his attempted escape through Laurens County.

Times were hard for people of both races. Bill worked as a share cropper until 1870. He went to Macon, taking a job as a bell boy at the Brown House. There he became acquainted with many of the influential men of Georgia. Bill accompanied the owner of the hotel back home to Connecticut. After his duties were finished, he was given train fare to return home. Bill became fascinated with New York City and worked there for a short time. In 1873, Bill returned home for a short time before taking a position with the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. He fell ill with yellow fever and returned home to recuperate and spend some time with Captain Yopp.

Bill returned to New York where he worked as a porter in an Albany Hotel.  There he again met the influential men of the state. He briefly served a family in California. In his travels, Bill visited the capitals of Europe. He worked for ten years as a porter in the private car of the president of Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Bill then worked for the United States Navy aboard the "Collier Brutus". His travels amounted to a trip around the world.

As the world was at war for the first time, Bill realized that old age had crept upon him. He returned home and found his friend Captain Yopp in poverty. Captain Yopp was about to enter the Confederate Soldier's Home in Atlanta. Bill took a job on the Central of Georgia Railroad. During World War I, Bill was given a place to live at Camp Wheeler near Macon. He made regular visits to the Soldier's Home providing Captain Yopp with some of his money along with fruits and other treats. Bill won the admiration of the officers at Camp Wheeler, who presented him with a gold watch upon his departure. Bill's generosity toward Capt. Yopp soon spread to all of the soldiers in the home. He enlisted the help of the editor of The Macon Telegraph for aid in a fund raising campaign. Bill and his friends were able to raise funds for each veteran at Christmas time. The campaign became more successful every year. The Dublin Courier Herald contributed to the campaign in 1919 when the amount given to each veteran was three dollars. Bill took time each  Christmas to speak to the veterans in the chapel of the home. The veterans were so impressed they presented him a medal in March of 1920. Bill had a book published about his life. The books were sold with the proceeds going to the soldiers in the home.

Bill and Thomas Yopp at Confederate Veteran's Home

Captain Yopp's health failed. The Board of Trustees voted to allow Bill a permanent place at the home. Bill stayed at his friend's side, just as he had done in the muddy trenches of Virginia nearly sixty years before. Captain Yopp died on the morning of January 23rd, 1920. Bill, now in his eighties, gave the funeral address.  He reminisced about the good times and his affection for his friend. Bill was a popular member of the Atlanta Camp No. 159 of the United Confederate Veterans, who held their meetings every third Monday at the capitol. Bill died on June 3, 1936. He was buried with his fellow soldiers at the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. After the body of Amos Rucker was disinterred to be laid next to the body of his wife, Bill became the lone African - American soldier of the Confederate Army to lie in the cemetery. His gravestone provided by the State of Georgia reads:


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016


With his favorite Beatle, George Harrison

Seen with John Lennon.  Lennon wore one of Ron's rings 
for a few days during the tour.  

With Paul McCartney

Press Conference

Ron's Tour Pass

To read more about Ron O"Quinn, click here to read my Laurens Now Magazine on Ron from 2014.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


Dublin went 3-2-1 in 1926.  The team played its
games at the 12th Congressional District 
Fairgrounds at the corner of Troup Street and Telfair Street. 


It was a century ago when the idea of the first public swimming pool came from the minds of the Young Businessmens' League, which was reformed in the spring of 1916.  As an associate organization of the Chamber of Commerce, these young men set as their main goal to spur the development of Dublin and Laurens County.

On June 1, 1916, the group launched a plan to build a civic natatorium as its first public project. If you have to look up "natatorium," like I did, it is simply a building which contains a swimming pool or basically, an indoor pool.   A mass meeting was held a week later to begin the campaign to raise the necessary sum of $1,000.00, a goal easily within the reach of the group.  The initial estimate was revised dramatically upward to $15,000.00.

The original plan was to build and equip a concrete swimming pool 40 feet by 125 feet, one which was to be filled by an artesian well.  A corporation was formed to manage the facility, much in the same style as the 12th Congressional District Fairgrounds, several blocks further down the street on the edge of town. The goal of the project was to make the pool self-sustaining with any profits put in reserve for expected expenses for repairs.

Although construction took place ahead of schedule, a late start forced the opening of the natatorium on Saturday, September 2, two days before the unofficial end of summer on Labor Day.

In the years which followed, the natatorium's managers wasted no time in getting an early start.  Season ticket drives began before Valentine's Day.  In 1918, at least 41 tickets were sold to early birds, who could get a season pass for $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.   Those who did not take part in the 10-day special would have to pay 25 cents per day.  Tickets were limited because of the size and popularity of the pool.

A long coaster slide was added for the 1919 season, which opened during a hot mid-April week.  Every year the operators made repairs and improvements as much as their budget would allow.    Two years later, a cold snap delayed the opening for a few weeks.  Prices were lowered than the original pre-war prices.

Major improvements and repairs in the amount of $1200.00  were made in 1927 to erect new dressing rooms and equipment.

The city's second pool, although private, was constructed on the grounds of the Dublin Country Club in 1924 in the area between Turnberry Court and Muirfield Court in Saint Andrews Subdivision in Dublin.

A third pool, in the city-owned Stubbs' Park, was established for children in 1923 under the direction of J.J. Donaldson, who managed the pool until his death in 1937.  A new  and expanded park was officially opened on the 4th of July in 1932.  Situated in forest of pine trees, the pool could be accessed by entering through a small gate on the lower side where the ticket office and two medium sized dressing rooms.  Entrance could be made on the high side of the park from South Drive by crossing a three-foot-wide wooden plank bridge, located high enough to withstand frequent floods during the rainy season.
The 60-foot by 100-foot pool ranged in depth from 3 feet to 9 feet at the deep end.  Just above the adult pool was a smaller and much more shallow children's pool, three feet deep at its deepest.  The kiddie pool was fenced in to keep young children from wandering out an into the adult pool.

Pool rules banned anyone entering in an embarrassing manner of dress.   One day was set aside as women's day only.  Church and organizations wishing to have picnics and parties had to make reservations in advance.

Although the opening of the pool in Stubbs' Park would have ordinarily damaged attendance at the natatorium, such was not the case here.

J.D. Donaldson opened the Natatorium right on schedule on May 1, 1933 with much fanfare.  Henry C. Tharpe and W.B. Alsup oversaw the complete renovation of facility.  A new feature was the sale of cold drinks and sandwiches.  Season tickets were $3.50, a price lower than the original opening price, but somewhat high during the height of the Great Depression.   Single day tickets were fifteen cents, day or night.

L.L. Howell, of Cedar Grove, and his sister-in-law, Miss Clyde Woodard, took over the management of the Natatorium in the summer of 1937, when J.D. Donaldson retired to take a much needed long vacation to Florida.  The Natatorium closed in the summer of 1937, when the property was sold for taxes.

In the fall of 1938, Dublin's City Attorney, Carl K. Nelson, Sr. filed an application with the Public Works Administration to build a new public swimming pool located next the Hargrove Gymnasium across North Calhoun Street near the front of Calhoun Street School.

Three years later in October 1941, the construction of a swimming pool began on the grounds of the Negro 4-H Center, now Riverview Park.  The 60-foot by 100-foot, artesian spring fed pool was built under the auspices of the Georgia Extension Service and students of the National Youth Administration on land which was donated by the Chamber of Commerce.  The pool was a part of a complex which included an assembly hall, canning and vocational educational buildings as well as a large number of student cabins.

In the summer of 1944, County Superintendent Elbert Mullis and Dan Hoard, of Indian Springs, proposed a plan to build a pool on the corner of North and Woodrow Streets.  That plan never materialized although it was endorsed by Dublin mayor, M.A. Chapman.

A year later, the Dublin City Council approved a plan to build a city swimming pool. Again, that project never materialized.

In the latter third of the 1940s, the Dublin Jaycees operated a pool in the same spot as the pool which was proposed in 1938.  That pool closed about 1966 and was paved over for a tennis court.  

A new children's pool replaced the two-pool complex by the Dublin Civitan Club in 1956.  The outline and dedicatory marker can still be seen in Stubbs Park across from the performance stand.

And, if you travel to the lowest spot of South Church Street south of the Church of the Nazarene, look for a house surrounded by a 3-4 foot tall concrete wall.  It is of course, the Natatorium, Dublin's first city swimming pool.