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

Monday, April 24, 2017


These two photographs come from the collection of 
Irene R. Claxton at the Dublin Laurens Museum.
They were taken more than 50 years ago.  The home, property of the Beall family,
is still intact today. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017


“The Other Jackie Robinson”

When Lyle Stone and the New Orleans Creoles came to Dublin in the spring of 1950, they came to play a ball game to raise funds for the new swimming pool at the Colored 4-H Camp.  The game was played on May 17, 1950  in Lovett Park.  The Creoles, one of the top minor league teams of the Negro Leagues, traveled the country playing big league teams like the Kansas City Monarchs, Birmingham Black Barons and the Louisville Cubs, and lower level minor league teams like the Georgia Cubans who were their opponents that evening. Alas, there was no report of the results of the game, which came in second to the ballyhooed Lyle, who was billed as the “new Jackie Robinson.”

Playing for the Creoles that night in Dublin were old veterans Alfred Pinkston, Roy Swanson, Bill Terrell, Joe Spence, Ernie Costello, James Williams, Buddy Lombard, James Ruston, “Lefty” Brooks, and “Lefty” Johnson.  Tickets were 90 cents for men, 50 cents for women, and 40 cents for children.  A special section was set aside for white fans.   The Dublin Irishmen, of the Georgia State League were away from home playing the Tifton Blue Sox.

Lyle was born in 1921 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Lyle loved to play baseball and by the age of 10 was able to play in the Catholic Midget League.  Lyle met Gabby Street, the former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, at a Wheaties baseball school in Minneapolis.  Street thought that Stone had some promise and encouraged the teenager to stick to the game.  By the age of fifteen, Lyle gave up high school baseball to play for the St. Paul Giants, a semi-pro team.  Shortly thereafter, Stone earned a spot on Al Loves’ American Legion’s championship team.

Lyle’s first professional at bat for the San Francisco Sea Lions, resulted in a two-rbi drive. A pay dispute erupted between Lyle and the Sea Lions management, which led to another short stint, this time with the New Orleans Black Pelicans.  Lyle was signed by the New Orleans Creoles late in the 1949 season.

After the 1952 season, Lyle was signed to a $12,000.00 annual contract by Syd Pollack, of the Indianapolis Clowns, who had won the Negro American Baseball League for three straight seasons.   Stone, a natural second baseman, followed   in the foot steps of a pretty fair middle infielder for  the Clowns in 1952. His name was Henry Aaron.

The Clowns, who began playing in the early 1930s, were the last of the Negro League teams. Originally the Ethopian Clowns, the team played in a style similar to their basketball counterparts, the Harlem Globetrottrs.  The Clowns played an exhibition game in Dublin in 1940 down the street at the old 12th District Fairgrounds field.  It has been said the Clowns were the inspiration for the 1976 movie, “Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.”  The Clowns were the first professional baseball team to hire a female player to a long-term contract.

By the middle of the 1953 season, Stone was fourth in the league in hitting with a .368 average,  behind the leader and future Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who was batting an even .400.  Stone’s slick fielding and consistent hitting were a drawing card whenever the Clowns played on the road.  Stone got to see and play against  two future hall of famers Willie Mays and Ernie Banks in their last seasons in the Negro Leagues.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  In late July, Stone succumbed to a series of leg problems and injuries.   The embattled infielder would not quit, but ended the season with a disappointing, yet decent,  average of .243 (.265 by some accounts.)

During the off season following the 1953 season, Stone signed a contract to play with the Kansas City Monarchs, managed by Buck O’Neil, from time to time while still a member of the Clowns, the 1953 American Negro League Champions.  Stone’s two teams often played each other, but the true sportsman was out to win every game.

In the 1954 season in which they won their second consecutive American Negro League crown, , the Clowns added two women to their lineup, Mamie Johnson, a pitcher, and Connie Morgan, an infielder.

Stone’s career ended after the 1954 season.  The Monarchs went on the road after the Kansas City Athletics came to Kansas City in 1955.

Let’s go back to Dublin on the 1950 May evening  to see what all the clamor about Toni Stone was all about.  Erroneously billed as Lizzie Tillman,   Toni Lyle Stone, was actually billed as the “Female Jackie Robinson.”

Yes, the center of attention for the Creoles, the Clowns and the Monarchs was their female second baseman.  In fact, Toni Stone established her place in baseball history as the first female ever to play at the major league level in the Negro Leagues.

Stone remarked to a reporter of the Columbus Dispatch in 1954, “I don’t ask for any favors and I don’t expect any.” She once added, “To tell the truth, I sort of felt like a goldfish,”  when she was asked about how it felt to be the starting second baseman for the reigning Negro league Champions..

Oscar Charleston, manager of the Clowns and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, commented that Stone was a good pitcher as well and  her good curve made some major leaguers look silly.”

Although Toni was not as good a hitter as Jackie Robinson, she was met with similar problems.  She was proud that the male players were out to get her.  She would even show the scars of the many times she was spiked by runners sliding into second base. When she was lucky, she was given the chance to change into and out of her uniform in the umpires’ dressing room.   Her owners wanted her to play in a skirt, but Stone was adamant the was not going to play as a girl, but as a ball player. “It was hell,” she once said.

After the 1954 season, the thirty-three-year old Stone, moved back to Oakland, California to work as a nurse and care for her sick husband. Toni Stone was featured in the 1990s exhibits on Women In Baseball and The Negro Leagues in the National Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Stone was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and later into the Sudafed International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

It was up until her dying day on November 2, 1996 that the 75-year-old pioneer player in baseball remembered the game in which she got the sole hit, a solid line drive to center,  in the game against the opponent’s pitcher, That pitcher was Satchel Paige, the greatest pitcher in Negro League history.

“I was so excited I could barely make it to first base,” Toni recalled.

Toni Stone indeed made it to first base, second,  third, and around to home plate.  Today, she stands alone as the first female in any sport to play in solely male major league sport.  She fought dual discrimination against her because of her race and her sex.  She indeed was the female Jackie Robinson.”


Sunday, April 16, 2017




The Dawn of a Dream
By: Scott B. Thompson, Sr. for Laurens Now Magazine

On a warm, windy, spring day a young, teenage, black boy, escorted by his teacher,  stepped off a bus in Dublin, Georgia.  That young man was there to recite a speech about freedom, it’s privileges and  rights, in an state-wide oratorical contest.  As an adult, he dedicated his life to the proposition that all people were equal regardless of the color of their skin.  Almost two dozen years to the day he left Dublin, that man tragically lay dying on the balcony of a Memphis, Tennessee hotel.   When they placed  him in his grave, the dream, which began to unfold right here in Dublin, Georgia, was not over, not by any means.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a fifteen-year-old and a soon to be  graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. King won the local oratorical contest of the Atlanta “Colored” Elks Club. With that accomplishment, young King was invited to attend the state convention  of the Elks Club held in Dublin, Georgia the week after Easter Sunday.

During the convention, which conducted its business meetings in the Cummings Building in downtown Dublin, a contest between the winners of each club’s oratorical winners was held in the sanctuary of the First African Baptist Church on April 17, 1944.

The topic of King’s speech was “The Negro and the Constitution.”  In his 991-word essay,  King traced the history of the Negro from 1620 to his present day and outlining the injustices his people had suffered and the maltreatments he had personally witnessed.

Photo by Randall Gearhart. 

Those who witnessed King’s speech listened in awe of the inspirational words coming from such a young teenager’ They had no idea of what was dawning before them.  The judges detected that there was something different in the essay.  They saw the passion, the earnest pleas for equality, Christianity and right mixed with the glimpses of hope for the future.

Some years later, Dr. King wrote, “That night, Mrs. Bradley and I were on a bus returning to Atlanta. Along the way, some white passengers boarded the bus, and the white driver ordered us to get up and give the whites our seats. We didn't move quickly enough to suit him, so he began cursing us. I intended to stay right in that seat, but Mrs. Bradley urged me up, saying we had to obey the law. We stood up in the aisle for ninety miles to Atlanta. That night will never leave my memory. It was the angriest I have ever been in my life.”

That autumn, Martin entered Morehouse College as a fifteen-year-old freshman.  It was there that he was introduced to Dr. Brailsford Brazeal.  Brazeal, a native of the Montrose community of Laurens County, developed a bond with this young student, much younger than his other students.  As Dean of Men at Morehouse, Dr. Brazeal became somewhat of a mentor to King and is credited with being one of the persons who influenced the young King to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and become a minister.

In recommending King for acceptance to Crozer Theological Seminary, Dr. Brazeal, who taught King in his first year at Morehouse,  wrote to Crozer Dean Dr. Charles Batten, “ I regret that I can not at the moment let you know just where Messrs. King and ... rank in relationship to the other members of the senior class because we are not able to compile the list until the end of the present semester. We have checked on the record of each one of the men involved. Mr. King has a quality point average of 2.48 which is virtually midway between a "C" and a "B" average.  I might state that these two young men have developed considerably since beginning their studies at Morehouse College. They had to work hard in order to overcome a comparatively weak high school background. I believe that Mr. King has succeeded in doing this to a slightly greater degree than has ....  I believe that these young men will be able to take care of themselves scholastically and otherwise if they are given a chance to study at Crozer Theological Seminary.  I also believe that they will mix well interracially.”

Several years ago, the newly created Visit Dublin, GA,  began a project to commemorate Dr. Kings’ first public speech with an appropriate monument, one deserving of the historical impact of that day, some seven decades ago.  Last April, construction began on the project, but not after months and months of planning by the Tourism Council Director, Rebecca McWilliam.   McWilliam and her staff began by submitting ideas for grant proposals and seeking the cooperation of the City of Dublin, Dublin Downtown Development Authority, the members of First African Baptist Church, and the Laurens County Historical Society, all of which immediately and wholeheartedly signed on to the project.  After hundreds of hours of planning and with the financial and moral aid of Georgia Council for the Arts, the Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division and many, many others who pledged their support from a few dollars to thousands of dollars, the first phase of the project is scheduled to be dedicated on April 17, 2017 on the 73rd anniversary of Dr. King’s speech. (photo by Randall Gearhart)

McWilliam and her staff have worked countless hours to make the project a reality.  A committee of community leaders, city personnel and church members was organized to formulate
plans for the monument and make it a monument that all of the community will be proud of.

The committee has been led by Dublin city councilman Jerry Davis and former councilwoman and civic leader, Julie Driger, who worked closely with Martin Luther King in the 1960s.

Davis, who is proud to be a part of the project, remarked, “I hope that his initiative by all of the partners of the project will serve to unite our entire community as Dr. King dreamed of.”  Citing the unity of this project as the reason why he returned home to Dublin, Davis is glad that “It is finally being recognized as a part of the rich history of Dublin.”

Driger (to the left of Dr. King)  worked as secretary for Dr. King in organizing and promoting meetings and marches.  She walked behind King on his March on Washington and got a close up glance of the Civil Rights movement in its early years.

Some half a century later, Driger fondly remembers Dr. King as a “very, polite, social, business person. He was always business like because he had a task that the good Lord had given him that he had to accomplish and he respected that, and a man narrowly focused on accomplishing his mission in a non-violent manner.

“Former DDDA Excutive Director, Joshua Kight said “ Seeing an opportunity to contribute to the recognition of MLK's civil rights address at the First African Baptist Church, the DDDA purchased the property across from church and worked with other organizations to transform that area into a monument site that our community, and our visitors, can learn from.  This monument, and the audio experience that is connected with it, will provide a lesson on how we can build a better future together. The effort itself has brought together a diverse group of people and organizations in a way that King would have been proud of. As caretakers of our historical downtown, the DDDA is proud to be among the many who have worked to make it a reality.”

Rebecca McWilliam sees the project as a wonderful opportunity for the City of Dublin. She proclaimed, “This project highlights the beauty of Dublin, where a gathering of minds and hearts have come together to build a monument to honor an icon, telling Dr. King's story and his Dublin experience in a dynamic, modern way to inspire future generations.”

Last year Corey Barksdale, an Atlanta artist, completed his mural on the wall of an old grocery store building which stands by the proposed plaza.  Barksdale sees that his mural and the monument itself are something distinctive and of lasting historical importance to our society.

The end of the first phase is not the end of the project.  Additional improvements to the site include a plaza, landscaping, sidewalks, and ADA improvements as well as audio and visual aids to visitors.  The application, compiled by Deborah  Stanley of the City of Dublin,  to designate and add the site to the  National Register of Historic Places is set to be approved later this year.

Recreation of Dr. King's speech photo by Scott B. Thompson, Sr 

And, the dream continues. 

Here is Martin Luther King's speech:

     Negroes were first brought to America in 1620 when England legalized slavery both in England and the colonies and America; the institution grew and thrived for about 150 years upon the backs of these black men. The empire of King Cotton was built and the southland maintained a status of life and hospitality distinctly its own and not anywhere else.

     On January 1, 1863 the proclamation emancipating the slaves which had been decreed by President Lincoln in September took effect--millions of Negroes faced a rising sun of a new day begun. Did they have habits of thrift or principles of honesty and integrity? Only a few! For their teachings and duties had been but two activities--love of Master, right or wrong, good or bad, and loyalty to work. What was to be the place for such men in the reconstruction of the south?

     America gave its full pledge of freedom seventy-five years ago. Slavery has been a strange paradox in a nation founded on the principles that all men are created free and equal. Finally after tumult and war, the nation in 1865 took a new stand--freedom for all people. The new order was backed by amendments to the national constitution making it the fundamental law that thenceforth there should be no discrimination anywhere in the "land of the free" on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

     Black America still wears chains. The finest Negro is at the mercy of the meanest white man. Even winners of our highest honors face the class color bar. Look at a few of the paradoxes that mark daily life in America. Marian Anderson was barred from singing in the Constitution Hall, ironically enough, by the professional daughters of the very men who founded this nation for liberty and equality. But this tale had a different ending. The nation rose in protest, and gave a stunning rebuke to the Daughters of the American Revolution and a tremendous ovation to the artist, Marian Anderson, who sang in Washington on Easter Sunday and fittingly, before the Lincoln Memorial. Ranking cabinet members and a justice of the supreme court were seated about her. Seventy-five thousand people stood patiently for hours to hear a great artist at a historic moment. She sang as never before with tears in her eyes. When the words of "America" and "Nobody Knows De Trouble I Seen" rang out over that great gathering, there was a hush on thee sea of uplifted faces, black and white, and a new baptism of liberty, equality and fraternity. That was a touching tribute, but Miss Anderson may not as yet spend the night in any good hotel in America. Recently she was again signally honored by being given the Bok reward as the most distinguished resident of Philadelphia. Yet she cannot be served in many of the public restaurants of her home city, eveen after it has declared her to be its best citizen.

     So, with their right hand they raise to high places the great who have dark skins, and with their left, they slap us down to keep us in "our places." "Yes, America you have stripped me of my garments, you have robbed me of my precious endowment."

     We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines--obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule. We cannot come to full prosperity with one great group so ill-delayed that it cannot buy goods. So as we gird ourselves to defend democracy from foreign attack, let us see to it that increasingly at home we give fair play and free opportunity for all people.

     Today thirteen million black sons and daughters of our forefathers continue the fight for the translation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments from writing on the printed page to an actuality. We believe with them that "if freedom is good for any it is good for all," that we may conquer southern armies by the sword, but it is another thing to conquer southern hate, that if the franchise is given to Negroes, they will be vigilant and defend even with their arms, the ark of federal liberty from treason and destruction by her enemies.

     The spirit of Lincoln still lives; that spirit born of the teachings of the Nazarene, who promised mercy to the merciful, who lifted the lowly, strengthened the weak, ate with publicans, and made the
captives free. In the light of this divine example, the doctrines of demagogues shiver in their chaff. Already closer understanding links Saxon and Freedman in mutual sympathy.

     America experiences a new birth of freedom in her sons and daughters; she incarnates the spirit of her martyred chief. Their loyalty is repledged; their devotion renewed to the work He left unfinished. My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon--a Negro--and yet a man!

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Captain John Smith

During the summer of 1887, when the folks in Kansas began to read of the valiant and daring exploits of Captain John M. Smith of Dublin, Georgia, they could hardly believe the words their eyes were seeing on the pages of the state’s most popular newspapers.  It seemed like Smith was here, there, and everywhere during the Civil War, not to mention his post war exploits as a soldier and mercenary.

Captain Smith began to tell his tales to just about anyone who would listen.  In those days, stories of the glorious days of the late war were always welcomed and enjoyed.  Somehow, a trusting or headline seeking writer for the Savannah Morning News put them into print.  And, before long, the story spread to newspapers around the country.

Smith was described “a fine, hale, and hearty man, about forty years old” and who had never drank tea, coffee, or milk, or had never taken a chew of tobacco, played a game of any kind, gone fishing or hunting, been to a picnic, and seen a game of baseball played.”

Despite the fact that Smith claimed he had never participated in any of these common place activities, he proclaimed that he had been a commercial traveler for at least seven years and had traveled all over the United States and Central America.

The ubiquitous rebel asserted that he joined the Confederate Army about the year 1862 when he was only fifteen years of age.   Enlisting at such an age was not unusual in that many boys sixteen and under, who could pass for being older, joined both the Southern and Northern armies.

What is extremely unusual in Smith’s claim that shortly after his enlistment he was elected Captain of his company, thus making the tall tale teller the youngest captain in the army of the Confederate States of America.

Captain Smith told the Savannah reporter that during 1864, he was placed in command of a company of  repatriated Union prisoners being held at Andersonville Prison in Southwest Georgia.  When the company first encountered their former comrades in battle, they quickly surrendered to their true allegiance, leaving Captain Smith at the mercy of his Federal captors.

During the first nightfall, Smith executed his escape plan.  He had just made his way  out from his guarded position, when he was struck by a guard’s bullet.  A wounded Smith crawled three miles under  pitch dark skies back to the Confederate lines.

During the opening moments of the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864, Smith was a member of the division of Major General William H.T. Walker, who commanded several Georgia brigades, which included the 57th Georgia and the 63rd Georgia and many Laurens County men, along with two South Carolina Brigades.

As General Sherman’s army was approaching and preparing to cross the Chattahoochee River, west and north of Atlanta, Smith volunteered to go on a reconnaissance mission in effort to determine enemy strengths and movements.

Smith remembered floating down the river on a log unobserved by Union pickets Smith returned a day or so later to report to John B. Hood, a four-star general in command of the entire Army of the Tennessee.  As evidence of his presence behind enemy lines, Smith produced a Union officer’s sword to Gen. Hood as he relayed vital information that Sherman’s army was not retreating but preparing for a flanking action, further downstream.

While General Walker was in the process of reconnoitering Union positions, he was shot and killed by an enemy sharpshooter.  Of course, Smith, who seemed to find himself in the middle of the action, was himself within a few steps of the General when he fell.

On April 12, 1862, Capt.  James Andrews, with twenty volunteers from Silĺs Brigade,  U.S.A., dressed as civilians, captured the "General" locomotive  at Big Shanty while the train crew and passengers were taking breakfast to help destroy the tracks and  bridges on the Western & Atlantic R.R. to cut off the Confederate Army from its base supplies. Conductor W.A. Fuller accompanied, in what became the “Great Locomotive Chase” joined Engineer Jeff Cain and Anthony Murphy, Foreman of the W.& A. Shops, in a foot pursuit. They soon secured a hand car and in spite of obstructions placed on the track by Andrews Raiders, made rapid progress. They found the engine "Yonah" at Etowah, and the pursuit then was at such a rapid pace, that serious damage to the railroad by the Raiders was impossible. The "General" was abandoned by the Raiders on account of lack of fuel and the close pursuit of Conductor Fuller and his party.  An historical marker in Kennesaw also gives credit to . Steve Stokely, Peter Bracken, F.Cox, A.Martin, H.Haney, and ..... Smith, who possibly could have been our John Smith, albeit he was still 16 years of age or under.

During his service to the Army of the Confederacy, Smith reported that he had been engaged in thirty battles and suffered moderate to severe wounds three times.

Two years after the war in 1867, Smith claimed that he was a prominent figure in a revolution in a country in Central America.

John Smith’s last great hurrah possibly came in the autumn of 1873 when he served as a member of the crew of the USS Virginius under the command of Captain Joseph Fry. The ship was carrying arms, ammunition, and supplies to Cuban rebels, who were going to attack Spanish positions in Cuba. The mission failed. Fry, Smith and many others were captured and were sentenced to death by execution.   Fry and nearly 40 crew members were decapitated.  Somehow Smith escaped Cuba with his head still attached to his body.

               Are the stories of the valiant Captain John M. Smith true?  Not a soul alive or dead knows for sure, only the Captain himself knows the whole truth and he is long dead.  As for me, I will heed and paraphrase  the words of the fictional newspaper man, Maxwell Scott, who interviewed the heroic and fictional  Ransom Stoddard, who for decades was falsely given the credit for being the man who shot Liberty Valance. So for now, I will only say, This is the South. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.


Thursday, April 13, 2017


This Mediterannean style house was built by Dublin businessman, W. R. Werden, circa the 1930s. It is said that Werden used brick and materials from the old Dublin Cotton Mill off Marion Street to build this fine home. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Motor Trend Racing Club. — with Bill Tharpe, David Henderson, Lynn Tomlinson, Louie M Curry Jr, Bob Wilcox, Charles Fuller, John Reed Deamer, Alan Palmer, Billy Jones and Richie Chafin.