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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


The current home of Orr Insurance Company, this twin-gabled house was originally a school house in the late 1870s and early 1880s. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017


A Hero for All Generations

Of all of the Laurens County veterans, Hardy Beacham Smith is the epitome of a soldier overcoming the ravages of war. Hardy, the grandson of an American Revolutionary soldier by the same name, was born in the Anderson community on October 24, 1841. His father, the second Hardy Smith, married Ann Anderson, daughter of John G. Anderson. Anderson's plantation was located on the Old River Road across Pughes Creek from Gov. George M. Troup's Valdosta Plantation.

Laurens County schools couldn't provide Hardy Smith with a superior education. Hardy Smith enrolled in an academy at Irwinton, Georgia in 1858. Hardy's father reluctantly agreed to allow his son to take a music class. The senior Smith encouraged young Hardy to join the Light Horse military company at Irwinton. In those days service in the local militia was seen as a public duty, especially for young men of higher means. Military service was also seen as a stepping stone to political office.

The state of Georgia voted to secede from the Union in January of 1861. If Hardy Smith had been a typical Laurens Countian, he would have voted to cooperate with the Union on the issue of slavery and avoid secession and war. At the beginning of the inevitable war Hardy was attending classes at the University of Georgia. He joined a volunteer company. Three weeks after the first shots were fired at Fort Sumpter, Hardy Smith received a letter from his father requesting that he come home and enlist in the Blackshear Guards. The Guards were in the early stages of organization. All the best young men were joining the company. Hardy's father was sincere. Fifty dollars was enclosed in the letter to pay his boy's accounts and his way home.

The Blackshear Guards became a part of the Confederate army on July 9, 1861. Hardy Smith was elected 1st Sergeant. W.S. Ramsay was elected Captain. When Captain Ramsay accepted a position as Lieutenant Colonel of the Regiment, Smith was promoted to Junior Second Lieutenant. The Blackshear Guards, designated as Company H of the 14th Georgia Infantry, were assigned to army of John B. Floyd. The Guards spent the remainder of the year in western Virginia engaging in little or no action. The Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862 was their first major engagement. Following the disaster at Seven Pines, Robert E. Lee was appointed to the command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Lee decided to attack McLellan's forces near the tiny village of Mechanicsville, Virginia. Shortly after arriving at the Beaverdam Creek, the order for a late afternoon attack came. Col. E.L. Thomas led the 35th Georgia in the initial attack on the Federal right. The 14th Georgia rushed to his support. Col. R.W. Folsom got up from his sick bed to lead the 14th Georgia. The creek was waist deep and about fifteen to twenty feet wide. When the attack first began, the Confederates had woods and thickets to cover their advance. Those in the open fields were pounded with sweeping artillery fire. Once they came down the steep banks toward the creek, they were in full view of Federal riflemen. Every assault was repulsed by the Federal forces. Under heavy fire the Guards were forced to retire. When it was all over, Lt. Smith was in a field hospital. His elbow was torn into pieces. There was no hope to save his right arm. Lt. Smith was comforted by reading his "Book of Common Prayer." Blood from Smith's wounds dripped on the pages. He turned to Psalm 56 which in part read "Mine enemies are daily at hand and swallow me up ... for they be many that fight against me ... though I am afraid, I will trust in thee." The book remains in the possession of his family. Four weeks after his arm was amputated, Lt. Smith wrote with a letter with his left hand. The despondent officer seemed to apologize to his father for losing his arm, but was glad to be alive.

Lt. Smith returned to duty as soon as he could. The company missed most of the major battles from September of 1862 to the Battle of Gettysburg, where they were only slightly engaged. The Guards were heavily involved in Robert E. Lee's greatest victory at Chancelorsville, Virginia in May of 1863. Hardy B. Smith was elected Captain of the company on September 17, 1863. Capt. Smith resigned his commission on April 30, 1864, just days before the Grant's push toward Richmond at the Wilderness. Capt. Smith continued to serve his state as the 5th District enrolling officer until the end of the war.

After the war times were bad, really bad. There was little food and even less money. In the year after the war, Smith was elected to the position of Clerk of Superior Court. Smith served as Clerk for 27 years until 1893. Hardy Smith married his bride, Ella Few Douglas, on November 21, 1867. That same year Ella Smith her mother Phoebe Douglas, and her sister Eugenia Walker were among the seven women who founded the First Methodist Church.

Hardy Smith built a southern gothic style house near the edge of the struggling town of Dublin in the early 1870s. When Dublin needed a railroad, Smith invested in the M.D. and S. railroad serving as secretary and treasurer. An active member of his church, he donated land next to his house to build a church in 1887. Following the death of Judge John T. Duncan, Smith was elected as Judge of the Court of Ordinary, serving one term which ended in 1897. After leaving public office, Smith's thoughts returned to his fellow veterans. He organized a camp of United Confederate Veterans, which was named in his honor. In the last years of his life, Capt. Smith served as Commander of the Eastern Division of Georgia. Hardy Smith died in his bedroom on Dec. 6, 1912. He is buried in Northview Cemetery. Hardy Smith is a hero, not because of the cause he fought for and not because he lost an arm. His accomplishments off the battlefield and his devotion to his family, his church, and his community make him a hero for all generations. Today, concerned citizens of Dublin are seeking to restore Captain Smith's home as a memorial to veterans of all of our country's wars.


Friday, January 27, 2017



Assignment:  Hades

Leah Bennett Sartin was a navy physician.  Between the two world wars, Sartin served many assignments  around the country and around the world.  After the Second World War was over, Captain Sartin served as the third and last commander of the United States Naval Hospital in Dublin, Georgia.  During World War II for more than 480 days, Sartin’s most difficult commission came not from his commanding officers in the Pentagon, but from his Japanese captors, a task which he performed with oustanding effectiveness while under some of the most atrocious dying conditions American prisoners of war ever had to endure.

Leah Bennett Sartin was bo+rn on January 26, 1890 to his parents Dock and Nora Chandler Sartin in the small city of Brookhaven in the north-central region of Mississippi.  A graduate Mississippi College at nineteen, Sartin then entered medical school of Tulane University before serving his residency in the Presbyterian Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sartin chose for his bride the beautiful Cecile Menville, whose family operated the Houma Courier in Houma, Louisiana, southwest of New Orleans.  During World War I, Sartin served as the physician for the Butterfield Lumber Company, based out of Norfield, Mississippi before joining the navy as a lieutenant  at the age of 28 on October 30, 1918, less than two weeks before the end of World War I.

Lieutenant Sartin first major assignment came aboard the U.S.S. Rapidan in 1921. In 1922,  he was transferred from Hampton Roads, Virginia to a position with the 3rd Field Hospital of  Marine Expeditionary Force in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

The year 1925, saw Lt. Sartin’s transfer to the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois as one of the family physicians on the base.  After being promoted to Lt. Commander in June 1926, Sartin served in the U.S. Navy’s medical school in Washington, D.C. (1928,) the Navy Yard in Philadelphia (1932,) the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (1934,) Pearl Harbor Naval Base (1935,) and Long Beach, California before returning home as a commander in charge of the Naval Recruiting Station in New Orleans from 1939 to 1940.

In October of 1940, Commander Sartin and his family sailed for Manilla in the Philippine Islands under the command of the Asiatic Squadron.   One day after the bombing of the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japanese military forces launched a fierce invasion of the Philippines. Sartin was captured a few weeks later while he was serving as the Commander of the U.S. Naval Hospital at Canacao.

The first report of Commander Sartin’s capture came into the offices of the International Red Cross on the day after Christmas in 1941.  Sartin and some 3200 other prisoners were taken to Prisoner of War Camp # 1 at Cabanatuan near Luzon.

“There was one spigot for 600 men to use to bathe and only for a small number of hours,” Sartin recalled of his first prison camp, where the men ate about an ounce and one half of meat only twice during his eight-week stay.

On May 5-6, 1942, the Japanese army and navy launched an all out assault on the thought to be impenetrable fortress of Corregidor.  More prisoners were taken.  On May 27, these prisoners were transferred to the Bilibid prison.   On May 30, Commander Sartin was placed in command of the Bilibub Prison Hospital by his Japanese captors.  Two weeks later, Sartin was promoted to captain.

“My recollection is to the effect that there were between two and three thousand prisoners there at that time. The buildings were old and extremely dilapidated and in an extreme state of disrepair. Plumbing and lighting fixtures had been stripped from the buildings. Sanitary conditions were extremely bad. Prisoners and patients were sleeping on concrete floors," Captain Sartin recalled.

"Hunger, such as Americans in the homeland have never experienced, was always present in Bilibid, and every camp and working detail throughout the Philippines. No person ever had enough to eat," Captain Sartin wrote of the deteriorating conditions in the Bilibid hospital.

Captain Sartin’s staff hastily established a dispensary in an old hospital after discovering that nearly ten dozen prisoners were suffering from malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition.  Sartin established a hospital in the center of the compound, which was filled with Filipino civilians.  Hospital wards were established in a series of disjointed buildings. Sartin used an old chapel building for an isolation ward,  while he fashioned a two-story building into a medical library.  Prisoners were put to work immediately to improve sanitary conditions around the area.

In July, the Japanese brought in a 165-man medical team with 26 physicians and 11 dentists - a positive change for what Sartin, affectionately known by his men as “Pappy” called “a filthy degrading hell hole.”

Malaria, diarrhea, beri beri, and malnutrition cases were the most common. Sartin pleaded with the Japanese commander for quinine and vitamins as he had no medicines and adequate medical equipment  to treat the vast number of prisoners who were dying before his eyes.

“It sounded like too much to ask, but we did it,” recalled Captain Sartin, whose pleas went unanswered.

Captain Sartin was, in 1946,  awarded the Legion of Merit for his “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the government of the United States as Senior Medical Officer and Japanese recognized Commanding Officer of Bilibid Prison while interned as a prisoner of war from May 30, 1942 to September 26, 1943, when he was replaced by Commander Thomas H. Hayes, who was later killed in Formosa.

On February 4, 1945, Captain Sartin and some 513 other prisoners were liberated by American army rangers.    After 1130 or more days as a prisoner, Captain Sartin was freed after serving one of the longest terms of internment during the war.  After the war, Sartin praised the “magnificent fortitude,” of the American prisoners, who despite their debilitating illnesses, would always turn and take the time to help other prisoners.

“Those rangers who rescued us are really remarkable men and to think that we Americans in the camp didn’t even know of the existence of such an organization,” Sartin proclaimed.

“We never gave up hope of our liberation.  Americans are just optimists and we in Cabanatuan were no different,” said Captain Sartin, who was dead tired but managed to make a long march to freedom at the American lines. “Of course, no boy minded that,” the Captain chuckled.

Naturally tired and thin, Sartin was given a 2-month leave of absence before returning to duty.  After all, there was still a war going on.   Sartin was sent home to visit with his family in  Houma,  where he gained 25 pounds in less than a month.   He returned to duty in  New Orleans where he served as Executive Officer of the Naval Hospital in the Crescent City.

Sartin left home one more time, in 1947, to assume command as the final commander of the Naval Hospital in Dublin.

Captain Sartin served at the hospital in Dublin until it was decommissioned in the summer of 1948.  Promoted to Admiral, Sartin completed his 30-year career as the Assistant Medical Officer at the New Orleans VA Hospital in the charge of the 8th Naval District back near home in New Orleans, Louisiana when he retired in June 1949.

Admiral Sartin died in a Houston, Texas hospital on March 15, 1966.  Cecile Sartin died in 1953.  The Sartins are entombed in the mausoleum in Lake Lawn Cemetery in New Orleans.    

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Photos Courtesy of Waylon Morton

Tilden Morton and Jerrell Brown, a pair of striped bass
caught at the mouth of Wilkes Springs on the Oconee River.

Jack Moore and H.G. Morton killing a hog.

Guyton Veal, Hodges Veal, unknown and Tilden Morton. 
and a log of large logs. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017


January 1942

Today’s article is the first in a series of forty-five monthly articles which commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II  and honor those Laurens Countians who served in World War II on the home front, around the country and across the oceans, in both military and civilian roles.

Dublin and Laurens County had made it through Christmas, a quite different Christmas than ever before.   Everyone has wished for a quick end of the war, but all feared a very long and dreadfully deadly war which could last for many, many years.

On the first day of the year 1942, newspapers across the nation published a long list of lieutenant colonels breveted to colonel.   Included in that list was the name of Col. Calvin Hinton Arnold, who was based out his parent’s home in Dublin, then a city of 8,000 people. Col. Arnold, a native of Swainsboro and a veteran of World War I, would eventually become a brigadier general in the U.S. Army.

On January 4, just 29 days into the war, the ministers of Laurens County led a mass meeting at the courthouse on a Sunday afternoon to discuss civilian defense operations and the new restrictions on automobile tires.   On that same day, 18 Jewish soldiers stationed at Camp Wheeler in Macon, traveled to Dublin to enjoy a special day of entertainment, food and fun in the homes of Dublin’s Jewish families, which included the Kaplans, Leases, Caplans, Dunns and Hankins families.

John Couric, Jr., (left) a former Dublin and Macon, newspaperman and future father of television news anchor, Katie Couric, enlisted in the United States Navy and reported to Norfolk, Virginia for intense Naval training.   He served in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific.  As a member of the Naval Reserve, Couric retired in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

A seven-hour air raid test was held on January 12 under the direction of Air  Warden Director  W.H. Proctor at all of the 14 air raid posts around the county, each manned by 20 men working on shifts.  

One of Dublin’s first airmen, Lt. William H. Keen was commissioned at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School in Victoria, Texas, Class 42-A, Keen had attended North Georgia College.

Twenty-one-year- old Robert Adams, son of Judge Wiley Adams, wanted so desperately to joined the air corps that he overcame his underweight status by “stuffing himself with milk and bananas.   Lt. Adams got his wish to fly, but on September 12, 1944  he would be shot down and killed over Europe.

Two of Dublin’s most active and experienced  fliers, W.H. “Bud” Barron, Jr. and Isadore “Izzy” Lease, joined the Army Air Corps Ferrying Command out of Nashville, Tennessee, where they flew planes from the Vultee Company plant to their points of departure.  Barron would go on to become one of top leaders in the amount of miles flow by U.S. Army Air Corps pilots during the war.

Dublin residents had read of the details of bombing of Pearl Harbor in newspapers and magazines and saw moving pictures of the raid on newsreels at city’s only movie theater,  Rose Theater, but few had heard specific eye witness accounts, which came from Laurens County’s first war refugees.

Mrs. Flora. Perry, speaking to a Macon Telegraph reporter, from the home of her sister in law, Mrs. John Rowe, on Joiner Street, said, “I was at my home near Hickam Field when the raid started, and like most everyone else, thought at first it was our own planes coming overhead.”

“Pretty soon, however, my next-door neighbor and I, who were standing together in front of the house realized it was something else when the bullets started to fly and we saw bombs being dropped on the barracks about a mile away,” Mrs. Perry continued.

I did not panic, but I took my baby inside the house and stayed there until the authorities came to remove us to Honolulu.

“I’m  glad my husband, L.B. Perry, a boatswains mate, wasn’t there because he might have been killed. He was on duty aboard a naval vessel somewhere out at sea,” recalled Perry who didn’t see him at all until she reached a port in California.

Mrs. Perry could not express any exciting details concluding, “ That’s all there was to it.  The shooting stared and after my baby and  I got inside there was nothing to do.  We just stayed there waiting for it all to get over with.”

The attack came closer than she originally thought when she founded a bullet hole in the screen door of her house.  Mrs. Perry and her baby  moved to Honolulu, where she stayed until Christmas before traveling to California and coming home to stay with her husbands family home in Dublin.

Near the end of January, Laurens County began to finalize its civilian defense plans. Under the leadership of Dublin Mayor Dee Sessions, Assistant Civilian Defense Chief, Stanley Reese, Dublin Police Chief J.W. Robertson, Fire Chief C.D. Devereaux, and city aldermen; W.P. Tindol, Martin Willis, E.B. Mackey, D.T. Cowart, and Freeman O’Neal, the local manager of of the Georgia Power Company.  

Members of United Daughters of the Confederacy and American Legion Auxiliary, at the suggestion of the fervent patriot, Miss Adelaine Baum, served sandwiches and hot coffee to those men being inducted into the service as well as any troops passing through just as the ladies did during World War I.  H.H. Dudley agreed to buy sandwiches and coffee for African American selective service inductees while M.A,  Ingram  served the troops around the induction centers and train depots.

A call was sent out for members of the home defense corps.  All who are not classified as  1-A were still need to provide an adequate as possible defense in the event of an enemy attack.  A sufficient number of women and black men have registered.  The most  urgent needs were air raid wardens, auxiliary policemen  and fire fighters.  Missing in the plan was the lost of one of two Dublin hospitals, Claxton Hospital, which burned the weekend after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

While the first quota of $5000.00 quota for the Red Cross had not yet been met, money was still coming in contributions from less than a dollar to the $87.50 donated by George T. Morris.

An early sign of how difficult life was going to be on the home front came at the end of January when it was announced that quotas for automobile tires were going to be cut in Laurens County.    Later that spring food and other essential critical items began to be rationed.


Usually in January we have snow storms and even ice storms, but not thunderstorms.  Here are some photographs of the 700 block of Bellevue Avenue taken by Irene R. Claxton in a once in a lifetime devastating ice storm.

Friday, January 20, 2017


It was first known as North Jackson Street and later East Jackson Street.   Seven decades ago, this well traveled street was lined with older, handsome buildings.  Today, thanks to what some people call progress and because of some people's unwillingness to walk a slightly longer distance to work, the buildings in this photograph, including Coleman's Hospital at the far rend, are now sadly gone.  

The photo dates back to the mid to late 1940s.  All you car lovers help date it by the now classic cars parked along the street.  From Left to Right Laurens Hardware (E.S. Street Bldg.,) Peacock Chevrolet, Dublin City Hall, Georgia Power Company, unknown, Brown Furniture Company, unknown, Coleman Hospital. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


For more than sixty years, this Dublin landmark marks the spot which was the home
of Dublin High School, Dublin Jr. High School and Central Elementary for a half century.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017