Every community has it share of odd and mysterious happenings.  And, during the last quarter of the 19th Century, Sandersville, Georgia had its share and more of unbelievable stories which some people doubt until today.

BUTTON, BUTTON, GUESS WHO’S GOT THE BUTTON ?- Hyman Herman, who loved to fish in the waters of Keg Greek, returned to town with one of the most unbelievable fish stories ever heard.  No, Herman didn’t catch a two-headed fish or a fish with a snake inside of it. His catch was much more fascinating.   Herman loved fishing and was so good at it that he often shared large portions of his catch with neighbors and friends. Herman gave one such string of his fish to Mack Duggan.    While Duggan’s cook was preparing a large catfish for supper, she was astonished to find two brass buttons, which were not unbelievably unusual since the catfish are scavengers of the bottom.    What was fascinating is that one button read “General Wheeler, 1864,” while the other had inscribed by a sharp instrument upon it “Sherman bound for the sea.”   It was remembered by those who lived during Sherman’s March to the Sea in November 1864, that a portion of the Union Army camped on the banks of Keg Creek a night after the site was occupied by Gen. Joseph Wheeler and his Confederate cavalry. Duggan turned down a generous offer of $12.00 for the unique buttons.  Instead, he sent them to officials of the World’s Fair for display.  Atlanta Constitution, June 21, 1892. 

MARCH-DECEMBER WEDDINGS - While couples of divergent ages are not that unusual today, they often made the news in newspapers around the country around the turn of the 20th Century. One of the more unusual pairings of the era came when Judge Green Brantley married just beyond his 80th birthday.  His bride, Bessie King, had not yet turned sixteen.  Nearly a quarter of a century later in 1909,  Sarah Hartley decided to tie the knot in marriage with E.G. Joiner in a ceremony conducted by Justice of the Peace R.M. Brown. After the vows were said the 74-year-old spinster Hartley and the 25 year-old Joiner returned to the home they had shared before their marriage - the Poor House of Washington County.  The Eaton Ohio Democrat, April 23, 1885, The Roxboro, North Carolina, Courier, August 25, 1909. 

A DOUBLE SUNSET - On an early September evening in Sandersville in 1887, those who were outside witnessed a rare sunset.  A witness reported, “The sun, slowly sinking behind a western flank of a cloud, threw a lateral reflection of perfect symmetry across the entire heavens, resting upon the eastern horizon, and widening at the zenith.  Owing to the irregularity of the cloud’s summit, other smaller path-like illuminations were defined, all seeming to radiate from both horizons and to meet overhead.  The sun appeared to have set in the east also.  Arkansas City Daily Traveler, September 8, 1887.

IF YOU WERE A BLIND CARPENTER -   They say that those who have disabilities also have extraordinary talents.  Could you be a carpenter and not be able to see? Well, way back in the 1870s, there was blind African-American man who was somewhat of any oddity.  A professional well-digger, this talented man could dig and clean out wells as well as split boards and shingles with uncanny accuracy.  Even more amazing was the fact that the old man could take the boards and shingles and nail them to a house with missing once.  Bolivar Tennessee Bulletin, October 9, 1879.

ONE SHOT IS BETTER THAN TWO - Ross Garrett had a severe case of Trypanophobia.  In other words, he hated needles.  Garrett and the other prisoners of the Washington County jail were scheduled to receive compulsory vaccinations as a method of protecting fellow prisoners from communicable diseases.  The sticking was set to begin on Christmas Eve 1904 and Garrett wanted no part of it. Garrett somehow secured a gun and shot and killed Special Officer Matthews rather than getting a shot of his own. Garrett fled. A posse of local citizens caught up with fleeing felon.  When the killer decided to evade again, Deputy Marshal Wilson fired a fatal shot into Garrett.  The Ottowa Kansas Daily Republic, December 24, 1904. 

BEARING A BALL - In the early autumn of 1889, M.H. Bird was replacing a spoke in one of his wagon wheels.  With only one slight tap of the hammer the wood could not bear the stroke.  Bird noticed that a small object fell on to the floor.  His curiosity peaked, Bird remembered that the spokes had been purchased in North Carolina.  He concluded that the object, a Civil War mini-ball, had been embedded in the wood spoke for a quarter of century.  Rushville, Indiana Republican, October 3, 1889. 

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? - A.J. Jernigan and his bride, Miss Sarah Frances "Fannie" Thompson, were in the center of social activities in Sandersville.  Mrs. Jernigan, known as the most beautiful belle of Georgia society, found herself completely paralyzed after the birth of her first child.  She could not move any limbs nor speak at all. She was so badly stricken that she could only swallow a diet of liquid food.  

For fifteen years, Mrs. Jernigan languished in pain and misery.   The poor lady took a turn for the worse and her death was imminent.     Her friends rushed to her side and began to pray for her recovery.  Friends took turns waiting for her final breath to relieve her anguish.  After a while, Mrs. Jernigan fell into a deep, death-like sleep.  Her friends left the room thinking the time was about to come.  What her friends did not know was that while lying on her death bed, Fannie Jernigan began to pray in absolute silence.  Mrs. Jernigan asked that she be allowed to live for the sake of her young daughter.  Four hours later, Fannie heard a voice say, “Arise, thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Once again, Fannie prayed.  Suddenly, Fannie had use of her arms and rejoiced in the fact the Lord had answered her prayer.  Fannie arose from her death bed and threw on an appropriate outfit. 

She opened the door into the adjoining room where her friends were awaiting her death.  As they stood in complete shock, thinking they were seeing a ghost, Mr. Jernigan and his samaritans heard Mrs. Jernigan say, “Fear not, God hat restored me to life.”  Everyone in the room dropped to their knees and gave thanks to God.    

But, Mrs. Jernigan didn’t stop praying, not at all.  That afternoon, she walked a half-mile to her church to pray in person.  It was a miracle!  It was if she had never been sick and was as healthy as the day she was married.   Visitors came by the hundreds to pay their respects and take a look for themselves at a living miracle.  Mrs. Jernigan, an ardent prohibitionist, lived for another 39 years dying in January 1923.  Her brother, the Rev. George C. Thompson, was a prominent minister and architect based in Dublin, Georgia. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle,  October 30, 1884, Galveston, Texas Daily News, November 17, 1884. 


O'Hoopee Woman said…
I thoroughly enjoyed all those stories, as well as everything you write.