PIECES OF OUR PAST
Sketches of the History of Dublin and Laurens County, Georgia
and The East Central Georgia Area
Scott B. Thompson, Sr.
The Emerald City History Company, Inc. and Courier Herald Publishing Company, Inc.
Pieces of Our Past is a compilation of articles chronicling the history of Dublin andLaurens County, Georgia, as well as some of the history of Johnson, Treutlen, Wilkinson, Twiggs, Emanuel, Montgomery, and Washington Counties. Your reception of these articles has been most gratifying. The greatest compliment that I receive is that someone has thought enough of my article to cut it out of the paper and saved it. That is why I have compiled these articles so that they may be referred to by students and history buffs. I believe that you are never too young or too old to study your history and heritage. No one’s is more important than another’s. You can find history every where you look. It is in your family, your neighborhood, your church, your school, your favorite sport, your business, your community, your state, and your nation. Write it down so that generations to come may remember those who proceeded them.
My thanks to Dubose Porter and Griffin Lovett of the Courier Herald Publishing Company, who have allowed me to tell my passion for our local history to the readers of the Courier Herald. My thanks also to my editor and proofreader, Heather Evans McCutcheon, who found all of those late night mistakes in my columns and who has touched them up as if they never existed.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. HANG HIM, The Story of Laurens County’s Last Public Hanging.
2. LAURENS COUNTY WELL REPRESENTED IN STATE GOVERNMENT
3. SOLDIER OF MISFORTUNE, The Story of Col. James Walker Fannin
4. CAPTAIN HARDY SMITH, A Hero for All Generations
5. DUBLIN’S FIRST COLLEGE, The Harriet Holsey Industrial School
6. QUINCY TROUPPE, Dublin’s All Star Player
7. SUGAR RAY ROBINSON, Dublin’s World Champion
8. LAUGHTER IF THE BEST MEDICINE, The Story of Laughing Ben Ellington
9. WILLIAMS’ WINNING WONDERS, The ‘64-65 Dublin High Basketball Team
10. THE GRAND LADY LIVES, A Brief History of the Courts and Courthouse of Johnson County
11. THE IRISH IN US
12. ASHES TO ASHES, The Dignified Passage of an Old Country Church
13. PLAY BALL! Dublin Hosts Major League Baseball
14. GOLD BRAID AND BLOOD, The Story of Felix Powell, P.O.W.
15. EBENEZER HIGH SCHOOL
16. ACROSS THE DANUBE, The Story of Sgt. Lester Porter
17. THE FIRST AUTOMOBILES
18. THE DAY THE PRESIDENT CAME TO TOWN, The Passage of Confederate President Jefferson Davis through Laurens County
19. SCHOOL DAYS, The Early History of Saxon Heights and Johnson Street Schools
20. THE DUBLIN GUARDS, The History of the First National Guard Unit in the Southeast
21. ANDREW CARNEGIE’S GIFT TO LAURENS COUNTY
22. CEMETERIES, Our Most Important Link to the Past
23. WHEELER COUNTY, Home to America’s First Cowboys
24. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
25. BEYOND THE HIGH WATER MARK, The 48th Georgia at Gettysburg
26. EARL WEAVER AND THE 1958 DUBLIN ORIOLES
27. UNCLE JACK PERRY’S GOLD
28. GOVERNOR GEORGE TROUP, Laurens County’s Premier Statesman
29. POPLAR SPRINGS NORTH, The Early Years of One of Georgia’s Oldest Churches
30. THE TRANS OCONEE REPUBLIC
31. GENEALOGY RESOURCES IN OUR AREA
32. WE LIVED! WE MADE IT! WE’RE GOING HOME - The Story of Lt. James Adams, P.O.W.
33. KING COTTON
34. THE RACHEL’S CHICKEN FARM
35. THE MAGIC OF THE SHAMROCK BOWL
36. SOPERTON WAS BOOMING IN 1919
37. ERNEST CAMP, The Wiregrass Poet
38. GEORGE WASHINGTON NEVER SLEPT HERE, But Ole Diz Did
39. THE STORY OF MORRIS DAWSON, MERCHANT
40. THE NIKE MISSILE BASE IN TWIGGS COUNTY
41. THE MASSACRE AT CARR’S BLUFF
42. OLD TIMES WERE NOT FORGOTTEN AT FROG LEVEL PLANTATION
43. A SALUTE TO OUR VETERANS
44. THE EARLY YEARS OF HENRY MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
45. THE BATTLE OF BALL’S FERRY, GEORGIA
46. A DAY WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
47. THOMAS W. KENT, One of the Immortal Six Hundred
48. THE EARLY HISTORY OF DUDLEY, GEORGIA
49. CHRISTMAS IN LAURENS
50. AN ICY AULD LANG SYNE
The Story of Laurens County's Last Public Hanging
Ninety five years ago John Robinson was the most hated man in Laurens County. His was a most depraved and horrific crime. No man or woman, regardless of the color of their skin, could ever forgive John Robinson. On May 24, 1901 Robinson was working on the farm of J.M. Reinhardt. Bertha Simmons came to the field to bring lunch to her husband, Dock Simmons. With a fishing pole in hand, Bertha announced her intentions to fish in a nearby creek that afternoon. Robinson pointed her toward the creek. A short time later Robinson quit working and left in the same direction. He appeared flustered when he returned an hour later. Robinson then went home with his wife to change clothes and head for Dublin.
Bertha Simmons didn't return home Friday night. A search was initiated. S.L. Padgett found her in a swamp on his adjoining plantation with a flour sack tied around her neck. She had been strangled and had apparently been molested either before or after her death. Robinson's knife, the most damning piece of evidence, was found by her side.
Justice of the Peace John C. Register held an inquest. The jury decided that Mrs. Simmons had been murdered by John Robinson. Padgett's son remembered someone screaming for help that Friday afternoon. A warrant was issued. Gov. Candler offered a $200 reward for Robinson's arrest. Robinson spent the night in Dublin, possibly at the home of Robert Andrews. His wife was arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact. While Robinson never confessed to his wife, she instinctively believed that something was wrong and that her husband was indeed the murderer.
The largest number of cries calling for Robinson's capture came from members of the Black community. A crowd took Robert Andrews down to the pavilion near the water works where he was whipped in order to get a confession. The beaten man continued to deny any knowledge of Robinson's whereabouts. The mob was still not satisfied. Fearing for his safety, Andrews agreed to show the men where Robinson was hiding. When it became apparent that they were being lead on a false trail, they took Andrews to the jail. With no reason to hold him, the Sheriff allowed Andrews to go free. Dan Williams, chairman of the local Republican party, called for a public meeting. He urged "all colored and white citizens of our county to meet at the courthouse on June 7th to devise some means to capture Robinson."
For two weeks the elusive Robinson remained at large. On the 17th of June, word got out that Robinson was down in the branch at Reidsville. Reidsville was a neighborhood in the area around Academy Avenue and Dudley Street. Shot after shot rang out in the midnight air. John Robinson was gone, if he was ever there. Alleged sightings of Robinson came in daily from all parts of the city. Many thought that Robinson had fled immediately after the murder.
Robinson, traveling as Zach Morgan, was arrested in Savannah in late June. Robinson went there to seek the aid of a former railroad co-worker, Lewis James. James went to the authorities when he discovered that his friend was a wanted man. Sheriff J.D. Prince and Policeman J.J. Flanders traveled to the coastal city to bring the prisoner back for trial. Robinson was quite talkative until the train reached Brewton. Robinson was rendered speechless when he was strongly jeered by his own people at the depot.
A slow rain began to fall as a large crowd gathered at the train depot in Dublin on the first day of July. They all came to catch a glimpse of the villainous John Robinson. The best seats were on top of box cars on the side tracks. The crowd stretched from South Jefferson to Franklin Street and back up Franklin to the jail on the courthouse square. When the train crossed the river, Robinson and the lawmen were met by Chief J.A. Peacock. Chief Peacock personally took Robinson in a carriage directly to the jail. The crowd rushed in. Cries of "Thank God he's caught” and “you've got the right man" rang out. Mrs. Robinson, with tears streaming down her face, ran to within two feet of her husband. Robinson was stoic, refusing to look in her direction.
Robinson was tried and convicted on July 25th. The verdict was never in doubt. Judge Hart sentenced him to hang on Aug. 23, 1901. W.S. Holly was paid a few dollars to construct a crude gallows on the M.D. and S. Railroad property near the power house. Judge John C. Hart denied a new trial, a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Georgia. At Judge Hart's request, Judge B.D. Evans came to Dublin and ordered Robinson be hung on January 3, 1902 between 10 and 4 o'clock. On November 19th, jailers caught Robinson, who had broken parts of his shackles. Rev. Norman G. McCall came to comfort Robinson on the day before his death. Robinson continued to deny his guilt. His attorney E.L. Stephens applied to the pardoning board. The final appeal was denied.
It was January 3rd, John Robinson's last day on the Earth. The gallows had stood empty for nearly a half year since Robinson's trial. Executions were supposed to be private, but though no fence was constructed around the gallows until just days before the hanging at 10:30. Robinson was taken from the jail to the gallows near the pavilion on lower East Madison Street. Around noon Robinson was led up the steps by Sheriff E.E. Hicks. Within a few minutes it was all over. John Robinson was dead - hanging by his neck. Robinson's sister-in-law climbed the gallows, not out of sympathy, but for want of notoriety. It was the last public hanging in Laurens County.
Robinson's body was taken to the pauper's cemetery at the county poor farm where it was buried in an unmarked grave. The next day the body was reportedly dug up and taken to Moore's Station and put on a train. From that point Robinson’s body may have been taken to the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons for scientific study. Poor Farm superintendent A.W. Davidson doubted the truthfulness of the reports, citing that the coffin had not been removed and there was no evidence of any disturbed soil. No one alive today knows what ultimately happened to John Robinson.
SOLDIER OF MISFORTUNE
The Story of Col. James Walker Fannin
James Walker was born in Georgia circa 1801 to 1804. Walker was reportedly the illegitimate son of Dr. Isham Fannin. The young boy probably lived with his mother's father, George Walker. George Walker moved to what was then Wilkinson County about the year 1806. On December 10, 1807 his lands became a portion of western Laurens County. In December of 1808 the lands were once again shifted to another county. Now in Pulaski County, George Walker was appointed by the Georgia Legislature as a commissioner of the public buildings of that county. George Walker's sons built a three and one half mile stretch of the Federal Stage and Post Road which became known as Longstreet. James Walker grew up in the area along the Twiggs-Bleckley county line, living on a plantation south of Marion, in Twiggs County.
In 1819, George Walker secured an appointment for his grandson to the military academy at West Point. The young man entered West Point under the name of James Walker Fannin. Fannin was described as a " gallant, handsome, and sensitive lad, not especially devoted to his books." After a fight with a fellow cadet, Fannin resigned from the academy in November of 1821. Fannin returned to Georgia and married Minerva Fort. In 1834, Fannin removed to Velasco, Texas on the Brazos River. He organized a military company which he called "The Brazos Volunteers." Fannin participated in the first skirmish of the war in October of 1835 and distinguished himself at the Battle of Concepcion four weeks later. Fannin was made an Inspector General in the Army of the Republic of Texas and was later promoted to Commander in Chief. After the fall of the Alamo, Col. Fannin was given orders to destroy the Mexican fort at Goliad and fall back to Victoria. Fannin and his men delayed their mission to help a group of women and children escape from the Mexican army. Fannin and his 350 men moved toward Goliad where they met 1200 Mexican troops under the command of Gen. Urrea. In two days of fighting, Fannin was wounded and lost seventy men. Fannin surrendered his forces to Gen. Urrea on the condition that they be paroled and allowed to return home. On March 27, 1836 Fannin and his men, except four surgeons and four assistants, were executed by the Mexican army. The deaths of the men at the Alamo and at Goliad so enraged the Texans that they completely destroyed the Mexican army under Gen. Santa Anna, who personally ordered the massacre at Goliad. When a new county was formed in Georgia in 1854 from Union and Gilmer Counties, it was named Fannin, in honor of Col. James Walker Fannin. Several counties can claim James Walker Fannin as a citizen, and certainly Laurens County can at least claim him for one year from December of 1807 to December of 1808. The decision of whether Col. Fannin was a hero or a coward is left to the doubters of his courage in a situation that many men never face.
CAPTAIN HARDY SMITH
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.
DUBLIN'S FIRST COLLEGE
The Harriet Holsey
Statewide vocational education in Georgia began during World War I after the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act. The act was authored by Cong. Dudley M. Hughes of Danville. Prior to that time, a few counties and communities provided some courses in vocational education. Most courses in these schools focused on agricultural and domestic subjects. Funds for public schools were scarce, but industrial/vocational schools were very rare in rural Georgia.
The first mention of an vocational education school for the Colored students of Laurens County appeared in an advertisement in an 1886 issue of The Dublin Post. A.S. Dickson, President of the Dickson Institute, invited all of Dublin to join with him and Vice President Pinkney Hughes in a meeting to solicit funds for the school. In December of 1905, the Congregational Methodist Episcopal Church purchased an acre of land. Bishop L. H. Holsey appointed Rev. W.A. Dinkins as President of the Dublin Normal and Industrial School. Rev. Dinkins was a graduate of Paine Institute in Augusta. The school was located in a small wooden building at 292 East Jackson Street at its intersection with Decatur Street. School officials planned to model the school after Booker T. Washington's school in Tuskeegee, Alabama. Poplar Springs Industrial School was established later in that same year of 1906. The Poplar Springs school was sponsored for the most part by the members of Poplar Springs North Baptist Church.
A fair was given for the purpose of promoting the Industrial School in the fall of 1908. Bishop Henry M. Turner of the Congregational Methodist Episcopal Church gave the address to a crowd of thousands. Fair exhibits included agricultural products, equipment, and techniques, as well as cooking, laundering, furniture making, sewing, and art work. The fair committee was composed of Rev. W.A. Dinkins, President, and committee members C.H. Williams, R.H. Ketchum, F.C. Kiler, P.B. Baker, A. Walker, Wm. Blackshear, and A.B. Jackson.
In 1908, the school staff was composed of Rev. W.A. Dinkins, President; Professor Noah Clark, Principal; Mamie Dinkins, Music Teacher; Daisy White and Mary Snelson, Teachers; and Mrs. M.J. Dinkins, Matron. The yearly matriculation fee was only two dollars per student.
In 1909, R.A. Carter, A.J. Cobb, and Lee O'Neal, all from the Atlanta area, purchased thirty acres of land which included the former Dublin Furniture Factory on Ohio Street. They sold one block of the land to L.H. Holsey, G.L. Ward, J.H. White, P.W. Wesley, R.A. Carter, A.J. Cobb, Lee O'Neal, W.T. Moore, E. Horne, and C.L. Bonner as Trustees for the Harriett Holsey Industrial School. The school provided education in agriculture, domestic science, and other technical skills and was open to all of the Negroes of Laurens County.
The college was housed in building of the old Dublin Furniture Manufacturing Company, which was established in 1898. The area came to be known as Scottsville, named for the Rev. Scott, who was an early resident of the area. The owners of the surrounding lands subdivided the furniture factory field into building lots for the workers. Several cottages and a boarding house were constructed along with a factory building. The company, headed by J.M. Simmons and several of Dublin's leading businessmen, specialized in medium-priced bedroom suites. The location was chosen because of its proximity to the Oconee River. Lumber was transported by river which lies within a half-mile of the factory. The choice of the location turned out to be a poor one. The waters of the Oconee came flooded the area when the river was high.
The school became known as the Harriet Holsey Industrial School. The subdivision around the homes was renamed Holsey Park. Streets in the subdivision were named after some of the United States. The college, located in Block 11, was bounded on the north by Georgia Street, west by Ohio Street, south by an unopened portion of Columbia Street, and east by an unopened portion of California Street. Bishop Holsey was given a lot in anticipation of the construction of his home near the college.
By the beginning of 1916 the school ended its operations. While the school was somewhat successful on a local scale, it never progressed as its trustees had planned. The trustees sold their interest to Katie M. Dickson who planned to keep it open as a convention school. The dormitory was converted into a workshop and a new building was planned. Mrs. Dickson still continued the dream to model the school similar in design to that of the Booker T. Washington School in Tuskeegee, Alabama.
Today, all signs of the Harriet Holsey Industrial School have vanished. In the early 1950s Charles McMillan and M.C. Mallette, operating under the name of M & M Packing Company, purchased much of the property, and constructed a meat packing plant and slaughterhouse on the site. In the latter half of the 1980s Roche Manufacturing Company purchased the property and built a large cotton gin on the college site. Bishop Holsey's lot is now the site of a small park belonging to the City of Dublin.
So ends the story of the Harriet Holsey Industrial School. It is deserving of more attention and research. Perhaps there is more information hidden away somewhere that will bring to light more information on Dublin's first college.
Dublin's All Star Player
Quincy Trouppe was born in Dublin on Christmas Day of 1912. He was the youngest of ten children. His family's last name, originally spelled Troupe, was taken after the Civil War. His ancestors were probably slaves of Gov. George M. Troup of Dublin. The Troupes moved to St. Louis around the time of World War I.
Trouppe broke into professional baseball as a catcher in 1931. The St. Louis Stars of the Negro Leagues signed Trouppe to a contract which paid him $80.00 per month. The Stars won the league championship that year. In 1932 he played with the Detroit Wolves, the Homestead Grays and the Kansas City Monarchs. The following year he played for the Bismark Cubs and Chicago American Giants, the champions of 1933. Trouppe played with the Bismark Cubs from 1934 through 1936. After retiring in 1937, he came back to play with the Indianapolis ABC's for 2 years. In 1938, the fans voted Trouppe to the Western Division All Star team as an outfielder.
Trouppe spent eight seasons in the Mexican Leagues with the Monterey and Mexico City teams from 1939 to 1944 and from 1950 to 1951. While playing and managing in Mexico, Trouppe hit .307, .337, and .306 with Monterey and .364 and .301 with Mexico City. Trouppe sought the help of the Mexican League President in 1944 to allow him to continue playing in Mexico. Trouppe returned from Mexico late in 1944 to become a player/manager of the Cleveland Buckeyes. Trouppe led the Buckeyes to the championship of the Negro American League. While hitting only .245 during the regular season, Trouppe hit .400 leading the Buckeyes to a sweep of Josh Gibson and the Homestead Grays in the World Series. Quincy Trouppe finished his last two seasons with Buckeyes hitting .313 and .352. His team won one more American League pennant, but lost the World Series to the New York Cubans. Trouppe then played for the Chicago American Giants in 1948, hitting .342 with 10 home runs. He then left the country again to play for Drummondville, Canada of the Provincial League in 1949 where he hit for a .282 average. In 1950 and 1951 Trouppe returned to the Mexican League playing for Guadalajara and hitting .283 and .252. During the off seasons he played in the winter leagues in Cuba (1950-1), Columbia (1953-4), Venezuela (1945-7, 1951-3), Puerto Rico (1941-2, 1944-5, 1947-50), and Venezuela. It was during one of his eight seasons in Mexico that he added the extra "p" to his last name. Trouppe managed the Caguas team to the Championship of the 1947-8 Winter League in Puerto Rico.
During the latter half of his career, Trouppe was considered one of the best catchers in the league. He was known for his superior handling of pitchers. He earned the nickname of "Big Train" and "Baby Quincy." Trouppe, a somewhat powerful switch hitter, used a heavy bat and was a good curve ball hitter. Most of his power came from the right side. A typical catcher, Quincy was not too swift on the base paths. Among his teammates were the legendary Stachel Page, "Cool Papa" Bell, Buck Leonard, Ray Dandrige, and Josh Gibson. Until 1947 Negro leaguers were systematically excluded from the major leagues. After fellow Georgian Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Negro leaguers slowly began to get positions on major league teams. The Cleveland Indians, who had signed the first Negro Leaguer in the American League, decided to give Quincy Trouppe a tryout. Quincy reported to spring training in 1952. At the age of thirty nine he had a hard time competing with the young defensive star catcher Jim Hegan. Hall of Fame Cleveland pitcher, Bob Feller, described Trouppe as "having a likeable personality and very hard-working." Feller knew nothing of Quincy's hitting skills, but he stated that "Quincy was a very good receiver. He had an excellent arm, kind of like a Roy Campanella or Gabby Hartnett. He was very good calling pitches and blocked the bad pitches well." Feller had seen Quincy when he played for the Buckeyes and remembered that "he was a very good manager and a true gentlemen."
Quincy played in six games and managed only one hit in ten at bats. Trouppe didn't think he had gotten the chance he deserved and declined the Indians offer to play on their Triple A farm team in Indianapolis. The St. Louis Cardinals hired Trouppe as a scout from 1953 through 1956. Quincy lost a chance to sign future Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks. He tried to sign Roberto Clemente with the Cardinals, but lost out to the Pirates.
Quincy Trouppe was an all star in 17 of his 23 seasons in the Negro League. He spent seven years as a catcher- manager. He played in five East/West All Star Games, with his team winning each time. He ended his career with a .311 lifetime batting average, 25th highest in the history of the Negro Leagues. Quincy was selected an all-star in half of his twelve seasons in winter ball with a lifetime batting average of .304 in the Mexican League and .254 in Cuba.
In his latter years Quincy Trouppe became somewhat of an archivist of the Negro Leagues. In 1977 he wrote an unpublished autobiography "20 Years Too Soon." His collection of memorabilia and information led to the establishment of a Negro League Hall of Fame in St. Louis and was used by Ken Burns in his PBS documentary, "Baseball." Quincey Trouppe died in Creve Coeur, Missouri on Aug. 10, 1993.
SUGAR RAY ROBINSON
Dublin's World Champion
"Sugar Ray" Robinson, a world champion boxer whose real name was Walker Smith, Jr., called many places home. Montgomery County, Wheeler County and Laurens County along with New York and California were all home to Ray at different times during his lifetime. Many people don't realize that he was a native of Georgia. As a result, Robinson is not a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Ray's parents, Walker Smith and Lula Hurst, lived in Laurens County and were married here on February 20, 1916. His father was born near Rentz and grew up on the Peterson place south of Ailey. His mother's family roots were on the Hurst plantation in Washington County.
Ray Robinson recounted in his biography that his father, Walker Smith, farmed a small plot of ground, earning about forty dollars a month raising cotton, corn, and peas. In 1920 his brother in law, Herman Hayes, invited the elder Smith to come to Detroit, Michigan to seek a better living. Walker Smith received his first weekly paycheck in the amount of sixty dollars. It did not take long for Mr. Smith to figure out where he needed to work. The family stayed behind until Mr. Smith could establish a home. "Sugar Ray" recounts the trip that his mother, his sisters, and he took from Dublin to Detroit. Sugar Ray didn't seem to remember that he was born in Ailey, Montgomery County, Georgia. When he was seeking his birth certificate for medicare coverage, he found it in the Probate Court of Montgomery County. The house where he was born still stands across the railroad from the Thompson Lumber Company sawmill.
Sugar Ray's parents had their share of marital problems. At the age of six Ray was sent back south after living all but the first of his pre-school years in Detroit. He lived with his maternal grandparents near Glenwood in Wheeler County, just below the Laurens County line. He attended school there. He stayed in Dublin at times with his mother and grandmother before going north in the early 1930s.
Robinson's maternal grandmother, Anna Hurst, lived in a house at 518 South Jefferson Street in Dublin. Laurens County sold the house for taxes in 1935. Robinson's aunt, Maud Ree Hurst, purchased the house in 1938. Robinson fondly remembered the times he spent with his uncle Herschel "J.B." Hurst at the cotton market in Dublin. Uncle J.B. spent a lot of time with Junior buying him a boxes of Cracker Jacks on their trips in to town on Saturdays. The family operated a store next to their home on South Jefferson Street. J.B. and his brother Gus were mechanics in Dublin. Willie Lee Wells, another aunt, was slain by her husband Felix Wells in 1941.
As a boy, Ray was always looking for a fight. His aunt Maud Ree Hurst Foster remembered him saying "I want to find me some body to beat up!" Ray idolized his Aunt Maud Ree and tried his best to be like her. The Hursts have a strong sense of family. Many members of the Hurst family and related families still live in Laurens County. Maud Ree Hurst Foster, a delightful lady, has returned home to Dublin. Anna Hurst loved to watch Ray dance. She often asked Ray "come on 'Sugar', dance for me." The pet name stuck with the young man for the rest of his life. One day Sugar Ray brought one of his friends with him when he stopped in Dublin to see his grandmamma. That friend was a pretty fair boxer himself. Imagine the sight. There was Anna Hurst standing on her front porch asking Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis, two of the greatest boxers ever, to dance for her. Early in his boxing career Robinson, was known as "Harlem's Dancing Dynamite and the Pride of Harlem."
Walker Smith, Jr. took the name "Sugar Ray" Robinson as an amateur boxer. As an amateur Ray won New York City titles in 1939 and 1940 with a career record of 69 knockouts, 40 of which were in the first round, in a total of 85 matches. Robinson's first professional fight was a 2nd round knockout of Joe Echeverria on October 4, 1940. He won his first 40 fights before losing to the legendary Jake LaMotta in February 1943. From then on Robinson was undefeated for over eight years. On December 20, 1946, Robinson won the World Welterweight Championship over Tommy Bell. Sugar Ray successfully defended his title five times. Sugar Ray defeated Jake LaMotta for the World Middleweight championship. That summer he lost the title to Randy Turpin in only his second professional loss in the ring. Ray took the title back in a rematch. Ray defeated Carl Olson and knocked out the great Rocky Graziano in his title defenses. He was knocked out for the first time in his career by Joey Maxim on June 25, 1952.
Sugar Ray retired after the Maxim fight, but returned to the ring on November 29, 1954. On December 9, 1955 he defeated Bobo Olson to regain the Middleweight title. After defeating Olson in a rematch in 1956, Robinson lost the title once again, this time to Gene Fullmer on January 2, 1957. Five months later, Robinson won the Middleweight title for the fourth time in a rematch with Fullmer. He lost the world title again in September of 1957, this time to Carmen Basillio, Ray regained the title in a rematch with Basillio on March 25, 1958. Sugar Ray surrendered his title for the last time against Paul Pender on January 22, 1960. The last five years of his career were spent fighting younger fighters with only moderate success. Sugar Ray Robinson, then 45 years old, lost his last fight on November 10, 1965 to Joey Archer in a 10 round fight.
Over his 202 fight - 30 year career, Robinson only lost 18 fights, most of those being the twilight of his career. After his career in the ring, Sugar Ray appeared in several television dramas. Sugar Ray Robinson, who once showed his athletic prowess on the streets of Dublin, was regarded by many as the greatest boxer of all time. He was a five time Middleweight Champion, a one time Welterweight Champion, and was revered by Muhammad Ali as "the King, the Master and my idol."
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE
The Story of Laughing Ben Ellington
One of the most popular members of the Dublin community in the early years of this century was a Black man known as "Laughing Ben" Ellington. Ben Ellington got his name from his loud laugh and humorous story telling. Ellington toured the country performing at festivals, fairs, and expositions. For a time he was managed by Captain Hardy Smith. G.P. Houser and Jule Green visited the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901. They reported that Ben was one of the more interesting attractions at the exposition. He allegedly celebrated his 100th birthday, while performing at the Centennial Exposition of the Louisiana Purchase. Ben claimed to have been born in 1804 and lived as a slave for sixty years or so.
Ben's favorite story involved his former master. The master promised Ben that he would give him a quarter for every chicken that Ben could fetch. Ben went to the plantation coop and picked up a fat fryer. The master told him to put the chicken in the coop and gave Ben the quarter. Ben had the last laugh. "I stole that chicken seven times that night. Then I went back and stole him again and ate him myself."
Ben took a job with a traveling carnival after returning from the Pan American Exposition. When the carnival went bankrupt at Brunswick, Ben was stranded with no money. Ben telegraphed his friend W.W. Robinson to send ten dollars from his checking account. Mr. Robinson instructed the Brunswick bank cashier that Ben would laugh for his identification. This was probably the only time in history that a cashier required a laugh before cashing a check.
After he returned to Dublin, Ben went to the state fair in Valdosta. He disappeared for several months. His wife finally received a letter from Ben who was performing in San Francisco. After returning home by stage coach, Ben left for Coney Island, New York, where he was a big hit and made a lot of money.
During his visits to Dublin, Ben was a mail carrier on the Dublin to Stephensville Route. He was loved by everyone he met. While visiting in Dublin, Gov. Bob Taylor of Tennessee invited Ben to come and live on his farm. Ben died at his home in northern Laurens County in 1905. Everyone smiled when they remembered "Old Ben." When Ben's laughter or funny story brought a smile to the face to of someone who was sad, his mission as a comedian was accomplished. It is true what they say - "laughter is the best medicine."
Ernest Camp, editor of "The Dublin Times", penned his thoughts about Ben Ellington is this poetic obituary:
LAUGHIN' BEN ELLINGTON
He laughed down here in Laurens an' he laughed
throughout the state,
An' jes' everywhere he traveled he would
laugh an' imitate;
He laughed from sunny Dixie to the deep
But never in this country will be ha-ha any
He laughed sometimes for money an' he
sometimes laughed for fun,
He would laugh in bleakest weather and
then laugh beneath the sun,
He would laugh in such a manner as you
you never saw before,
But never in this country will be ha-ha any
He would laugh for any person an' he'd
laugh at any place,
There was allers laughter runnin' down each
wrinkle on his face,
He would oftimes laugh at nothing till his
very sides were sore,
But never in this country will be ha-ha any
He laughed because he liked it - ne'er a
shadow out for him,
An' he often carried sunshine where the hope
was growin' slim,
But he laughed his way to glory, far beyond
this mortal shore,
But never in this country will be ha-ha any
WILLIAMS' WINNING WONDERS
The '64-'65 Dublin High Boys Basketball Team
Minton Williams announced that this would be his last season at Dublin High School. As a young man in the early fifties, Williams was a top-notch basketball and football player at the University of Georgia. Coach Williams, one of the most widely loved and respected coaches in Dublin High School history, had accepted an offer to become the athletic director and coach at Mark Smith High School in Macon. In his eleven years in Dublin, he elevated the Irish football and basketball programs to the top of the state. Williams coached the Dublin Irish football team to back to back State 1-A championships in 1959 and 1960. Williams's success with the football team led to the construction of the Shamrock Bowl in 1962, still one of the finest stadiums in this part of Georgia. The Irish players responded to their community-wide support with another state championship in 1963, the third in five years. His last football team won ten straight before losing 7 to 0 to Cairo High School. During his tenure as coach, Williams' teams won fifty seven games while losing only nine and recording three ties.
Minton Williams came to Dublin in 1954. His first assignment was the girl's basketball team. Williams inherited a team that was winless in 1953. From 1960 on, the Irish were at the top of their region. Tom Perry, one of Dublin's greatest basketball players, a high school All-American and a collegiate star at Auburn, led the 1964 team.
Coach Williams’ last season at Dublin High was not expected to be his best. Only two players, Charlie Harpe and Brant New, returned from the 1964 squad. Both players saw limited action playing on the second team. The main players in 1965 were Charlie Harpe, Lawrence Hall, Brant New, Vic Belote, Larry Harrison, and John Strickland. Other players that year were Johnny Smyth, Jep Craig, Marcy Chambless, Earl Snipes, Mike Norman, Robbie Hahn, and Buddy Jones. Sammy McLeod was the hustling manager of the team. The boys lost their first three games in February. Everything seemed to be falling apart. The Irish slipped from the high ranking of earlier in the season.
Coach Williams announced his resignation on February 11 at the Touchdown Club Jamboree, which featured guest speaker and the new coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Vince Dooley. Coach Williams's last home game was set for Saturday night, the day before Valentine's day. The players rose to the task - "win this one for Coach Williams!” And win they did. Center Charlie Harpe led the Irish with 47 points in defeating Wilkinson County by a score of 104 to 51. The Irish fell one point short of the all time team scoring record. On Feb. 4, 1964, Tom Perry led with the Irish with 51 points in a 105 to 67 victory over the Cochran Royals. That scoring record stood until one of Coach Ron Riley's teams scored 113 points nearly a decade and a half later. The Irish ended the regular season with a 16 and 8 record.
The Dublin boys defeated Waycross, Jesup, and Ware County to capture the sub region championship. Dublin defeated Thomasville to advance to the region finals. In the 1-AA championship game the Irish had the difficult task of playing region rival Cairo. By a score of 43 to 25, the Irish lost to Cairo in a poorly played game. Despite the loss, the Irish got a break in the playoff bracketing avoiding the # 1 team from Newton County.
The scene shifted to Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta. In the first round of the playoffs, the Irish used a shuffle offense and a tough man-to-man defense to defeat Troup County by a score of 40 to 33. Tucker High School was next. Dublin’s defeat of Tucker by one point to capture the 1963 state football championship, created a strong intra-state rivalry. The score was close during the entire game. Center Charlie Harpe led the way with 26 points in a three point victory, with the final score of 59 to 56. It was the first time that a Williams coached Irish team had won the second round of the state finals. Charlie Harpe ran his season point total, including the playoffs, to 619, tying Tom Perry for the school season record.
Cass High School, on a high after defeating the powerful Newton High, was the opponent in the third and semi-final game. The Irish played their vaunted slow-down offense in the first half. In the second half, Harpe, New, and Hall led the team as they pulled away from Cass. The final score was 62 to 52.
The Irish made it, all the way to the state finals. The team, with only two returning players, had defeated several of the Georgia's highest ranked teams. Only their old nemeses, the Cairo Syrupmakers, stood in the way of a state championship. The game was big, real big. To this eight year old boy sitting in the upper levels, it was the biggest game I had ever seen. It was Coach Williams's last game. One more chance to defeat Cairo. It was not the best game the team ever played. The Syrupmakers were just too tough for the Irishmen. The game ended with the final score: Cairo 52, Dublin 31.
Charlie Harpe and Brant New were named to the Class AA All Star team. Charlie Harpe, at six foot seven inches tall, was a big man for his era. Cairo's big man in the middle was named the most valuable player of the state tournament. He was better known as a football player with the great Georgia Bulldog teams of the late sixties and the legendary Miami Dolphin teams of the seventies. That young man was the celebrated Bill Stanfill.
The young Irish players came home that night with their heads high. The team with the big heart had gone as far as any Dublin High School basketball team had ever gone and would ever go in the playoffs. They played their hearts out for Coach Williams. All of Dublin was proud of them, the last of Williams's Wonders. They just couldn't beat Cairo. Lest you Dublin High fans get to bragging too much, the Irish lost two games that year to another team. That team, a member of the supposed lowly Class C, played a little closer to home. They were the Dudley Cardinals, who defeated Dublin by two points at the Dublin gym and by twenty points at the Cardinal's gym in Dudley.
THE GRAND LADY LIVES!
A Brief History of the Courts and Courthouse
of Johnson County
Courthouses, especially those in rural county seats, are the centers of the community. The tall building on the courthouse square serves as a symbol of the very heart and soul of our community. Too often, much too often, these courthouses are demolished in the name of progress. I salute all those Johnson Countians who supported the renovation of the old courthouse. Many Laurens Countians wish our governmental fathers would have saved our old brick courthouse thirty five years ago.
Johnson County was created by an act of the legislature on December 11, 1858. The new county, which encompassed lands taken from Emanuel, Washington, and Laurens Counties, was named for Gov. Herschel Vespian Johnson. Gov. Johnson, a native of Burke County, served as a United States Senator in from 1848 to 1849. Before entering the Senate, Johnson practiced law in our local courts. He served as Governor of Georgia from 1853 to 1857. Gov. Johnson ran for vice president of the United States on the democratic ticket with Stephen Douglas, who lost to Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
The first courthouse, probably a primitive structure, was constructed shortly after the county was formed. An old photograph seems to indicate that it was a simple two story wooden building, typical for its time in rural Georgia. The first court was held during the June term of 1859. The first trial and grand juries were composed of the heads of Johnson Counties first families. Among those were the Hicks, Outlaws, Wrights, Snells, Smiths, Meeks, Rowlands, Foskeys, Sumners, Johnsons, Flanders, Kights, Riners, Raines, Prices, Andersons, Tysons, Powells, Williamses, Fortners, and Woodses. Johnson County was placed in the Middle Circuit. Judge William W. Holt was the first Judge of the Superior Court.
Following the War Between the States, several illustrious judges sat on the bench of the Middle Circuit. Judge William Gibson served from February of 1867 to October of 1870. Gibson enlisted as a private in the Georgia Light Guards in the War and rose to the rank of Colonel of the 48th Georgia Infantry. Col. Gibson was wounded in action at Malvern Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862 in the last battle of the Seven Days. On July 2nd, he led his regiment over Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg in the most successful Confederate attack on Union lines during that epic three day battle.
Gov. Herschel Johnson served as judge of the Middle Circuit from 1873 until his death on August 16, 1880. He was the only judge in Georgia history to sit on the bench in the Superior Court of a county which that was earlier named for the judge.
Reuben W. Carswell served as judge from September of 1880 through December of 1887. Carswell, a native of Louisville, served with gallantry as a lieutenant colonel of the 48th Ga. Infantry at the battles of the Seven Days and Chancellorsville. Col. Carswell returned to Georgia upon his election to the legislature in 1863. Carswell returned to the war as a brigadier general in 1864, leading the state militia in the futile defenses of Atlanta and Savannah during Gen. Sherman's "March to the Sea."
By the mid 1890s, the old wooden courthouse became too small. The population of Wrightsville was growing rapidly. The current courthouse, built in 1895, was designed by Golucke and Stewart and was built by Wagner and Gorenfelo. The original "y" floor plan provided no main entrance, although the southern door is generally considered the front door. One unique feature of the old courthouse was the list of Johnson County war veterans painted on plaques in the entrance hall. The names were damaged by fire over a decade ago and were never replaced. The cornerstone on lists the names of those persons responsible for the new building: J.M. Hightower, Ordinary; R.L. Gamble, Judge; Beverly D. Evans, Solicitor; Dr. J.W. Brinson, Capt. J.H. Hicks, L.L. Deal, Grandjury Courthouse Committee; Col. J.A. Douglass, Grand jury Chairman; and the remaining members of the grand jury.
Judge Alexander F. Daley served as judge from March 19, 1904 to December 31, 1905. Judge Daley was the first Johnson countian to serve on the bench of the Superior Court. Judge Daley served as President of the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad from 1899 until his death in 1915.
Johnson County was moved into the Dublin Circuit in 1912. K.J. Hawkins was the first judge in the newly created circuit. Judge Hawkins was succeeded by Judge William Washington Larsen. Judge Larsen served in the United States Congress from 1916 to 1934. John Luther Kent of Wrightsville was elected to the bench in 1914. Judge Kent served for three four-year terms. Judge Kent returned to the bench in 1933 and served two more terms. Judge James Roy Rowland, Sr., became the third Johnson countian to be Judge of the Superior Court. Judge Rowland served one term before his untimely death in 1956. Judge Rowland was succeeded by another native Johnson countian, Rufus Stephens, who served until 1960.
Eugene Cook, a Wrightsville native, served as the Solicitor of City Court, a state court, from 1933 to 1937 and Judge of City Court from 1937 to 1941. In 1941, Judge Cook was elected Solicitor General of the Dublin Circuit. Cook moved to Dublin for a brief time. On August 18, 1945 Eugene Cook was sworn in as Georgia's Attorney General. Cook served until June 14, 1965 making him the longest serving Attorney General in Georgia History.
Emory Rowland, a long term legislator, practiced law in Johnson County (1923-1970) longer than anyone else in Johnson County History. Other Johnson County attorneys with lengthy practices in Johnson County were W.C. Brinson, C.S. Claxton, J.W. Claxton, A.L. Hatcher, E. Hodges Rowland, and Joe W. Rowland.
THE IRISH IN US
Once a year many Dubliners and Laurens Countians claim to be Irishmen. Most of us don't have any close Irish roots. Today there a few families with recognizable Irish names, which are the O'Neals, O'Quinns, O'Byrnes, 0'Briens, and O'Brys. Those with Irish ancestors are most likely descended from the Scotch-Irish who settled in Georgia just before the American Revolution. George Galphin, a native of Northern Ireland, sponsored a colony for his fellow Irishmen in the Parish of St. George, which later became Jefferson County. Queensborough township, named in honor of Queen Anne, became the center of several hundred Irish colonists. Most of the colonists were actually Scotch-Irish, who came from Ireland by way of Scotland. As Georgia began to grow, the residents of Queensborough gradually settled in other areas of the state.
The post office of Dublin, Georgia was established in June of 1811. The first postmaster, Jonathan Sawyer, was not an Irishman at all. Sawyer, a Connecticut Yankee, chose the name to honor his late wife, Elizabeth McCormick, by naming the new town in honor of her home town of Dublin, Ireland. Many people who don't know the story think our city may have been the center of another Irish colony. Dublin is actually a derivation of the Gaelic phrase meaning "black pool" or "black pond". Dublin lies on the banks of the Oconee River. At first glance "O'Conee" might be mistaken as an Irish name. Of course it is not an Irish, but an Indian word. For many years it was thought to have been an Indian phrase meaning "water eyes of the hills." Actually Oconee is a contraction of "of" and "conee", a Choctaw Indian word. It is translated as "place of the skunk". If someone asks where you're from, you can tell them that you are from the "the black pool at the place of the skunk." In 1895 the "Atlanta Journal" penned the name of "The Emerald City" on our city. That name was adapted by Mrs. R.H. Hightower when she named her drug store the Emerald City Pharmacy in the late 1800s.
With a name like Dublin, many people thought we ought to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. There were no Irishmen in town so we had to fake it. The Shamrock Club was formed as a social organization in February of 1917. The initial officers of the club were Pat Roach, president; C.T. Watkins, vice president; J.M. Page, Jr. secretary; and Alex Blackshear, treasurer. Other members of the board of directors were E.S. Street, J.E. Burch, C.F. Ludwig, Izzie Bashinski, E.G. Simmons, and G.M. Williams. The club's first event was a dance on the eve of St. Patrick's Day. In order to write a story, one newspaper writer had to hunt for connections to our sister city. All he could find was that the first high school annual,"The Shamrock", was published in 1917. The school teams were the Irishmen who later became the Green Hurricanes. The girl's basketball team was known as the Green Whirl. L.Q. Stubbs, Peter Twitty, J.S. Simons, Jr., and Frank Lawson, although not Irish, were the most Irish-like.
James Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1882. He is known as one of the greatest literary innovators of the 20th century. Joyce experimented with language and style in his works which included "The Dubliners" and "Ulysses". In 1939, two years before his death, Joyce published his last work, "Finnegan's Wake." His critics claimed he had reached the ultimate in obscurity and that he was inventing language. Decide for your self if Joyce invented a new language. The following is the second paragraph of "Finnegan's Wake":
" Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer's rock by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick; not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttened a bland old Isaac*: not yet, though all's fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface." The reference to Old Isaac may refer to Isaac Jackson, a elderly slave of Gov. George Troup of Laurens County. Isaac was the last surviving slave of Pres. George Washington.
St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated for several centuries. St. Patrick was actually a Scotsman who was taken to Ireland as a slave. Patrick escaped slavery and returned home to Scotland. An angel came to Patrick and directed him to return to Ireland to teach Christianity to the people there. He used the three-leaf shamrock as an illustration of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Ghost. St. Patrick died in early March when the shamrocks covered the land. A debate arose over whether he died on the 8th or 9th of March. So it was agreed to add the two dates together to have the seventeenth of March as the day to celebrate the life and teachings of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
The origin of our St. Patrick's celebration goes back to the early 1960s when Dick Killebrew of radio station W.M.L.T. played Irish songs and told Irish jokes during the days around St. Patrick's day. Killebrew and station manager, Ed Hilliard, approached W.H. Champion of The Courier Herald. Having a St. Patrick’s celebration sounded like a good idea to everyone, a way to promote Dublin. The first festival was held in 1966 with Bulldog coach Vince Dooley, weightlifter Paul Anderson, and Indy-racer Johnny Boyd as special guests.
Over the last thirty-one years, the festival has grown into the longest celebration of Irish heritage in the world. There's so much history in our festival it can not be written in my allotted space. It is sufficient to say that everyone has a grand time, celebrating not their Irish heritage, but things they love about their city - their families and their friends and all that St. Patrick taught to Irishmen and their descendants all over the world. Every year visitors ask "Where are the Irish?" To them we say " In March we all are Irish!"
ASHES TO ASHES
The Dignified Passage of an Old Country Church
The death of a church is hard to take. The loss is even more traumatic when the church is lost to storm or fire. Michael Dent, one of Dublin finest young men, has grown up in the Methodist Church. He is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Joel Dent, the District Superintendent of the Dublin District, United Methodist Church. When it came time for Michael to choose an Eagle Scout project he decided to do something unusual. Many Eagle Scout projects involve repairing or cleaning a structure or building a new type of structure or facility.
Down in Lowery, Georgia, a small community on the Glenwood Road in the southern part of Laurens County, Lowery Methodist Church had stood for fifty years. Lowery began to grow in 1883 when it became the political center of the Lowery Militia District. Church services were held in the area with a visiting pastor from the McRae District. The Methodists in the area sought to establish their own church and in 1922 received a charter from the Southern District of the Methodist Episcopal Church to form a new church. Leland Springs Methodist Church was founded on September 9, 1922 and was named for its founding pastor, the Rev. Leland Moore. Rev. Moore, a native of Laurens County, was the son of Rev. Charles A. Moore. On September 22nd of 1922 J.C. Branch, P.H. Towns, D.M. Courson, J.T. Boyd, and E.E. Warren, trustees of Leland Springs Methodist Church purchased a tract of land from T.E. Fowler for seventy five dollars. A church was contstructed at the forks of the New River Road (Glenwood Road) and the Alamo Road. The founders of the church included the families of G.B. Towns, J.Y. Cooper, C.E. Turberville, Prentice Turberville, Frank Branch, W.N. Price, Cecil Price, H.J. Fowler, E.E. Warren, I.J. Branch, J.C. Branch, J.T Boyd, S.F. Lowery, and M.W. Wood. Early pastors of the Church also included the Reverends G.N. Rainey, H.E. Taylor, H.L. Maddox, W.C. McTier, A.C. Prickett, J.W.M. Stipes, J.M. Outler, and Ralph Brown. At times the church was also known as Leland's Chapel. The old wooden church soon fell into disrepair and had to be taken down. Several men were seriously injured during the demolition.
The Lowery Methodist Church was organized by the former members of Leland Springs Church on May 28, 1947. The foundation and the cornerstone for the new building was laid in January 1947 and the building completed in April. Members of the building committee for the new church were L.A. Wood, Chairman, Rev. George Clary, Jr., Secretary and Treasurer, R.A. Crabb, D.H. Cooper, J. Horace Fordham, and G.C. Barnhill. Rev. D.G. Mann, Superintendent of the Dublin District of the Methodist Church, had charge of the advance planning. I.E. Brooks was in charge of the carpentry work. Opening day services were held on May 4, 1947 with the pastor, Rev. George Clary, Jr., preaching with C.M. Proctor, Lay Leader of the Dublin District, as the visiting speaker. Beginning on May 25th, the first regular preaching day after the new church was opened, a series of special services with the goal of organizing the new Church was held with Rev. S.P. Clary of Macon as the visiting preacher. At the first of those services on May 28th, 1947, the church was officially organized with fifty four charter members. Some of the charter members included the Crabbs, Clarks, Woods, Turbervilles, Lowerys, Coopers, Fordhams, Hardens, Browns, Smiths, Prices, Bracewells, Selfs, Sawyers, Towns, Littles, and Whites. Lowery Methodist Church was closed in 1987 after forty years of service.
The actual Eagle Scout project involved many phases. Michael searched for old records, membership books, and deeds. Dent located the deeds at the courthouse, researched the history of the church, and contacted three former members: R.L. Crabb, Blance Wood, and L.C. Cooper. An active phase involved inspecting the abandoned church building. Centrally located on a hill in the Lowery community, the church was the center of Methodist activity for years prior to its closing. The community was saddened to see the building overgrown with vines and trees. Since termites and deterioration had caused severe damage, the building was beyond restoration and had become a hazard.
Michael worked with Don Bryant, Coordinator of the Laurens County Volunteer Fire Department, to arrange a death with dignity through a controlled burning exercise where Lowery Church was commended "ashes to ashes" back to God. Prior to the exercise, Dent was required by the Environmental Protection Agency to engage someone to remove the asbestos siding according to EPA guidelines. A Dublin resident, George Washington, and other helpers accomplished this task and deposited the asbestos in heavy plastic sheeting sealed by duck tape in the landfill.
"I've learned a lot in this project," shared Michael. "It involved historical research, working with community leaders, protecting the environment, and learning about fire control." Prior to building being burned, Crabb, Wood, and Cooper helped Michael by distributing church pews and furnishings to former members. Messers Crabb and Cooper supervised the removal of light fixtures, furnishings, storm windows, and heater units. The altar railing and pulpit were also preserved. The land will be returned to the family who originally donated a part of the land.
Michael compiled a scrapbook of the project which he presented to the Laurens County Historical Society. Original membership books of both Leland Springs and Lowery Churches were also given to the Society by Dent. Copies were sent to the Methodist archives at Epworth. Michael also graciously chose to donate the cornerstone of the church to the Dublin Laurens Museum, where it will serve as a reminder of his hard work and forty years of memories for Methodists of Lowery District.
Today when buildings of historical or sentimental significance are demolished in matter of minutes, Michael Dent chose to let the old church at Lowery die a death of grace and dignity. In doing this and saving pieces of the church's past, his unique project idea is certainly deserving of an Eagle Scout Badge and a commendation by all Laurens Countians.
Dublin Hosts Major League Baseball
In the early years of 20th century, professional baseball teams made extra money by playing on their off days while traveling through the country by train. Dublin was a booming city in 1917. Our best ball field was located at the 12th District Fairgrounds on the Telfair Road between Troup Street and the National Guard Headquarters. Major League baseball was not followed by most Laurens Countians. The idea to have an exhibition game was proposed to two teams returning home for the start of the season. An arrangement was made to have the New York Yankees and the Boston Braves to stop in Dublin on April 1, 1917 for an exhibition game. From 1914 to 1915, the Braves held their spring training in Macon and Jones County, the home of their manager, George Stallings, and were the local favorites in those days, just like today. The Yankees trained in Macon from 1916 through 1918.
The long awaited day was here. Something went terribly wrong. It rained, and rained, and rained some more. The teams arrived around noon and sat in the train. After a few hours, the game was called. The players could not stay, they had to get on the train for a game the next day. What a cruel April Fools joke! The people of Dublin would not be denied. They again contracted with the Braves and Yankees to play an April Fool's Day game in Dublin in 1918. On the morning of the game, the teams arrived in Dublin for the first game of an eleven game exhibition series in ten southern cities, with the final game in Newark, New Jersey on the eve of opening day.
The field was ready - declared by the Yankee groundskeeper as one of the best in the South. The Braves were managed by George "The Miracle Man" Stallings, who guided them through their miracle season of 1914. That year they vaulted from last place to sweep the powerful Athletics in the World Series. For some undisclosed reason, Stallings was detained at his home and could not make the game in Dublin. 1918 was the first season that Miller "The Mighty Mite" Huggins managed the New York Yankees. Huggins managed the Yankees to three World Championships in 1923, 1927, and 1928. Huggins's Yanks also won the American League in 1921, 1922, and 1926. His 1927 Yankee team has been called the greatest ever, sporting a record of 110 wins and 44 losses. Before managing the Yankees, Huggins was a second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals and managed the team from 1913 to 1917. His determination and drive led to the penning of his other nickname, "Little Mr. Everywhere". He was one of the top stolen base leaders of the first decade of the century and was one of the all time walks leaders. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964 for his managerial success.
On the day of the exhibition game in Dublin, the Yankees were led by the power hitters Wally Pipp and Frank Baker, supported by the slick fielding Roger Peckinpaugh. Pipp, the American League Home Run champ in 1916 and 1917, is best known as the man Lou Gehrig replaced to begin his streak of consecutive games played. He was one of the last of the power hitters in what was known as "The Dead Ball Era." Another Yankee power hitter was Frank "Home Run" Baker. Baker hit more home runs during the second decade of this century than any other American Leaguer. His nickname came from two famous home runs during the World Series of 1911. Baker, a slick fielding third baseman, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. Peckinpaugh, the hustling and slick fielding shortstop, was the Most Valuable Player in the American League in 1925. Peckingpaugh is the answer to a most often asked trivia question. At the age of 23, he was the youngest manager in the history of baseball.
The Braves did not have many well known players. Maranville and Evers did not play in 1918. The best players on the team were the pitchers from the World Championship team of 1914. Tom Hughes led the National League in winning percentage in 1916. He pitched a no hitter against the Pirates in 1916, striking out the legendary Honus Wagner for the final out. Arthur Neft had a fabulous rookie season for the Braves in 1917. His record for that year was 17 and 8 with a 2.16 E.R.A., ending the season with 40 consecutive scoreless innings.
The game was set for 2:00 o'clock. A crowd of nearly two thousand came out to see the first major league game in Dublin. Veteran umpires Tom Corcoran and Jack McBride traveled with the teams and took their positions on the field. The Braves took the field first with rookie pitcher Hugh Canavan on the mound. Canavan shut out the Yanks with no base hits, but he did hit Gilhooley twice and Wally Pipp, once. Allen Russell was the starting pitcher for the Yankees giving up only three hits in his five inning stint.
The only runs of the game were scored in the top of the fifth inning. Ping Bodie singled and Roger Peckingpaugh reached first base on an error. With two on and two out, catcher Muddy Ruel, stepped to the plate. He launched a deep drive to right field, Bodie and Peckingpaugh scored. Ruel wound up on third with a triple. Ruel dashed home with the final run when Red Smith fumbled a slow roller off the bat of Allen Russell.
George Mogridge took over in the sixth and finished the game for the Yankees allowing no hits by the Braves. Tom Hughes, the veteran Brave hurler, relieved Canavan in the sixth for the Braves, shutting out the Yankees by allowing only 2 hits. Some fans were disappointed with the lack of offensive action, but they were thrilled by long running catches by Elmer Miller of the Yankees and Joe Kelley of the Braves. Wally Pipp excited the crowd with a one handed stab of a hard hit ball. The ball game ended in just over two hours with the score Yankees 3, Braves 0.
The teams left for Macon where they spent the night in the Dempsey Hotel. The next day the Yankees defeated the Braves again, this time 2 to 1. The Yankees finished the war shortened season with a just under .500 record. The Braves finished next to last, while the cross-town Boston Red Sox with Babe Ruth pitching defeated the Cubs in the World Series. Fifteen of the game's players left baseball to serve in the our armed forces in World War I.
NEW YORK AB R H PO A E
Frank Gilhooley, rf 2 0 0 0 0 0
Elmer Miller, cf 3 0 0 2 0 0
Aaron Ward, 2b 4 0 1 2 1 0
Wally Pipp, 1b 3 0 0 12 0 0
Frank Baker, 3b 4 0 1 2 1 0
Roger Peckinpaugh, ss 4 1 0 2 3 0
Muddy Ruel, c 2 1 1 2 0 0
Truck Hannah, c 1 0 0 3 0 0
Allan Russell, p 2 0 0 0 4 0
George Mogridge, p 1 0 0 0 3 0
Totals 30 3 4 27 15 0
BOSTON AB R H PO A E
Roy Massey, lf 3 0 0 4 0 0
Ray Powell, cf 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fred Bailey, cf 1 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Kelley, cf 2 0 0 1 0 0
Al Wickland, rf 3 0 1 3 0 0
Sam Covington, 1b 3 0 1 5 0 2
* Art Wilson, ph 1 0 0 0 0 0
Red Smith, 3b 4 0 0 3 0 2
Johnny Rawlings, ss 2 0 0 6 2 2
Rip Conway, 2b 3 0 1 1 1 0
John Henry, c 3 0 0 4 3 0
Hugh Canavan, p 2 0 0 0 5 0
Tom Hughes, p 1 0 0 0 1 0
Totals 28 0 3 27 12 4
* Batted for Covington in ninth inning.
Score by innings:
New York ............... 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 - 3
Boston ................. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0
Summary - Three base hits, Ruel; Stolen bases, Gilhooley, Pipp; Sacrifice Hits, Miller; Double Plays, Peckinpaugh, Ward, and Pipp; Bases on Balls, of Russell, 3; Left on Bases, New York 4, Boston 5; Hit by Pitched Balls, by Mogridge (Rawlings), by Canavan, 3 (Gilhooley 2, Pipp); hits off of Russell 3 in 5 innings, off Mogridge 0 in 4; of Canavan 2 in 5; of Hughes 2 in 4; Struck out, by Russel 1, by Mogridge 2, by Canavan, 1; by Hughes 1. Time of game, 2:04. Umpires, Corcoran and McBride.
GOLD BRAID AND BLOOD
The Story of Felix Powell, P.O.W.
Heroes by the thousands have passed through the wards of the Carl Vinson Medical Center in Dublin. This is a story of one of those ordinary men who, when his time came, exhibited the courage and fortitude which so typifies the American spirit of freedom. Felix Powell was born to be a sailor - or so his mother told him. His granddaddy encouraged him by calling him Admiral. Felix was a typical country boy of the thirties. His father's folks were from Treutlen County. Most of his free time was spent playing marbles and fishing and swimming in the biggest body of water he knew, the Ohoopee River, near his boyhood town of Norristown. Felix was a star basketball player for the perennially powerful Adrian Red Devils. As he grew older he dreamed of becoming a sailor and perhaps wearing the gold braid on his dress whites. But never in his dreams did he ever fathom the bloodshed was destined to witness.
Felix, fresh out of high school, enlisted in the Navy in the late 30s. Seaman Powell volunteered to serve in the Asiatic Fleet, also known as the "Suicide Fleet". His first assignment was aboard the "U.S.S. New Mexico" in 1940 at Pearl Harbor. As 1941 progressed, rumors of war ran rampant throughout the fleet. Most people remember December 7, 1941. In the days that followed, Felix's Powell's "Hell on Earth" was just about to begin. Felix was assigned as a Fireman 1st Class at the Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippine Islands. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese launched a vicious attack on the islands. From their shipboard perch, the seaman witnessed the horrible death and daily destruction of Manilla.
Soon the Philippines fell into the hands of the Japanese. That time Powell was stationed in a fortification known as Fort Hughes. Nearly every American on the islands was taken prisoner. The captors allowed the men to bring only the clothes on their backs. Their possessions were plundered. The prisoners were immediately put to work burying the dead and assembling military supplies. Many times his fellow Americans had to be placed in mass graves in bomb craters with little or no cover. The men worked all day with little rest and even less food and water. Felix couldn't sleep for thinking of food and water. Oh, what he would give to get some of his mamma's cooking. When word of his capture got back to Adrian, his mother, his sister Delia, and Claudie Thompson were busy preparing jars of pickled cucumbers. For the emaciated prisoners, food half eaten by the guards and even catsup mixed with water were real treats. In the early days, the prisoners had to use iodine to help purify their drinking water, which was often mixed with bath water.
The prisoners were then herded into ships like cattle. Some of the men died due to the extreme heat. Others, like Peter Fred Larsen of Dublin, were struck by friendly fire in unmarked prison ships. Some of the transport pens were covered with manure, which reminded Felix of his mule lot back in Norristown. Powell and his mates were taken to Corregidor where the food situation was a little better, but not much. There, the lucky ones found blankets to steal. Felix and his buddies patched up an old garbage can with tin can lids for a water container, which became the envy of the entire camp. Rain was sometimes a blessing, providing drinking water and bath water, and sometimes a curse, when it was cold and no one had any dry clothes.
The American prisoners were forced to participate in the "March of Humiliation" through the streets of Manilla. Grateful Filipinos showered the Americans with candy, bananas, and cooked eggs. The guards mashed as many as the could, punishing those who tried to bend down and pick up the gifts. The march began to take its toll on the "long legged" boy from Adrian who never had any trouble running up and down the basketball courts. Powell was taken to Cabanatuan Camp # 3. Next was Pasay Concentration Camp, the home of "the White Angel." "The White Angel" was no angel. He his fellow goons "Cherry Blossom", " The Wolf", and "Pistol Pete" were among the most brutal war criminals. They were eventually prosecuted for the crimes of reprehensible brutality. At Pasay, Powell was sentenced to be executed by firing squad with 28 other men. The man who had caused the disturbance was executed instead and Felix's life was spared. But what life? By now Felix, a six foot tall man, weighed only 98 pounds and for many months had no shoes. Food scraps were prized among the prisoners. Little things like the man he met from Lyons, Georgia, kept Felix going, living - just surviving.
Felix was returned to Cabanatuan Camp # 1, where he remained until the end of 1944. In 1945, the Japanese government moved thousands of prisoners to the Japanese Islands to work in the coal mines. Felix was stationed on the Island of Kyushu. Felix and the prisoners were forced to work day and night in the mines. For several days after the second atomic bomb was dropped, the men remained in the mines. Finally they came out and began the arduous task of finding their way back to friendly forces. American planes dropped relief supplies, but they weren't quite enough. Felix witnessed the total destruction of Nagasaki, a sight he never forgot. Finally, he and many others made it back aboard ship. Felix knew he was getting close to home when he recognized a man from Metter whom he played against in the region tournament in 1938. From Japan, he was taken to the Islands of Okinawa and Guam. Doctors determined that Felix had developed tuberculosis in his left lung, probably a result of his long stay in the mines. Once again he was confined, this time to the hospital isolation ward. Finally in October of 1945 Felix spotted the Golden Gate Bridge. There was one more bridge he wanted to see. That was the Route 80 bridge near Thompson's store on the Ohoopee. But fifteen more months of hospitalization were in order. Powell spent time in Oakland and New York hospitals, with a too short stay at the Naval Hospital in Dublin. Fifty years later, Felix Powell is back in the Vinson V.A. Medical Center in Dublin.
Felix Powell wrote of his days in the war in his unpublished 560 page manuscript, "Brush Harbor" or "Gold Braid and Blood." The next time you pass by the V.A. Hospital and see the American flags, thank Felix Powell and the thousands of Americans who have been inside those brick walls and who fought, died, and survived to protect our most precious freedoms.
EBENEZER HIGH SCHOOL
The Ebenezer Baptist Association was founded in March of 1814. At the annual meeting of the Ebenezer Baptist Association, I.J. Duggan, on behalf of the people of Dudley, offered the land and building for the association's first and only sponsored school. The wooden school and the dormitory were built with private donations. I.J. Duggan gave an entire block of land bounded by Pecan Street on the north, Second Street on the east, Field Street on the south, and Third Street on the west - the same grounds as later schools in Dudley. O.A. Thaxton, a graduate of Mercer University, was selected as the first principal of the school. Professor Thaxton served two years and resigned to take courses at Columbia University in New York. After graduation he took a position as an instructor at the State Normal School of Pennsylvania. He later served as President of Norman College and as a professor at Georgia State College for Women in Milledgeville.
W.F. Brown succeeded Prof. Thaxton in 1903. His staff was composed of Rev. Frank Loyd, the grammar school teacher; Miss Bessie Ivey, primary school teacher; and Miss Fannie Solomon, the music teacher. Professor Brown resigned at the end of the 1903-4 school year. Professor I.B. Marsh served as principal during the 1904-5 school year. The board voted to rehire Prof. Thaxton if he would take the position.
Graduation exercises for the 1905 class were held in the school chapel on May 23rd. There were several tableaux, pantomimes, and recitations with musical interludes. Among the recitations were: "If I Were Ten Years Old," by Ruby Holland; "Jimmie's Pocketbook" by Manning Stanley; "Mamma's Helper" by Bertha Stubbs; "A Tiny Boy" by Pew Whipple; "Learning to Sew" by Mattie Fordham; "Turning of the Tables" by Linnie Guest; "My Dearest Friend" by Glover Melton; " An Old Fashioned Grandma" by Betsy O'Neal; "When I'm a Man" by Eugene Stubbs; "Mattie's Wants and Wishes" by Lizzie Fordham; "When Papa Was a Little Boy" by Bennett Whipple; "Don't" by Vera Melton; "Mrs. Bobbitt's School" by Clarence Bobbitt; "How Grandma Danced" by Meta Guest; "My Neighbor's Baby" by Georgia Cook; "Why He Didn't Die" by J.J. Holland; "The Blue and Gray" by Willie Melton; "The Old Woman That Lived in a Shoe" by Florence Holland; "Oh I Wish I Were a Grown-Up Man" by Warthen Chappell; "When Papa's Sick" by Maroy Chappell; "I'm Going Back to Grandma" by Willie Southerland; Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" by Berna Guest; and "Papa's Letter" by Eva May Holland. Gussie Gilbert and Jerry Duggan were the class of '05. Miss Gilbert recited her essay and Master Duggan gave the valedictory address.
The 1905-6 term opened with fifty students and two teachers. The opening was delayed because no principal could be secured. By the end of the year, a third teacher was added to the staff along with fifteen additional students in the class.
The school year of 1907 opened with great promise. Rev. J.R. Mincey was elected Principal. Miss Clara Davis and Miss Nelle G. Averet were chosen as assistant teachers. Professor Thomas Mincey was hired as the new music director. On Monday night September 30th, only a few days after the school session had opened, a fire broke out in the school. The fire was discovered about ten thirty that night. The wooden building burned out of the control of the stunned citizens. The cause of the fire was unknown, although some thought it to be result of some sort of incendiary. The loss amounted to three thousand dollars.
Talk of rebuilding the school spread throughout the onlookers. Dudley's residents wasted no time. Classes were moved to Dudley Baptist Church. Three thousand dollars was pledged in a few days by subscriptions among local residents. The Ebenezer Association met with the Citizens of Dublin on October 4th. After much deliberation, the executive committee voted to approve the rebuilding and contributed slightly over half of the necessary funds. The Trustees took advantage of their loss. A modern brick school would be built at a cost of six thousand dollars.
By the end of the school year the school grounds contained only a pile of bricks. Within three months the new school was completed and ready for the 1908-9 term. The main floor contained four large classrooms separated by one long hall running from front to back. The second floor consisted of one large room which served as an auditorium. With no ceiling in the auditorium and other necessary interior improvements needed, school officials went back to the community for help. Materials and an additional $1,500.00 were raised, and the building was completed, free of any debt. Earlier in the year, school officials applied to have the school become part of the Mercer University system. Mercer's Trustees declined the offer mainly because the school was only a pile of bricks at the time.
Rev. Garrett Allen was appointed as Principal in 1909. Rev. Allen immediately began a campaign to increase the enrollment at Ebenezer High School. Baptists were urged to not to send their children to private schools, but support their association's school by their children's attendance. M.M. Hobbs, T. Bright, and Otto Daniel petitioned the Superior Court of Laurens County to have the school incorporated in the fall of 1909. The directors of the school that year were Wm. J. Gilbert, Felix Bobbitt, John W. Guest, Wm. T. Haskins, A.J. Weaver, and I.J. Duggan.
Graduation exercises for the 1909-10 year were held in the school auditorium on May 26, 1910. The graduating class was composed of Misses Mettie Guest, Myrtle Paul, Maroy Chappell, Genie Denson, Agnes Stanley, and Rev. Wade Grant. Myrtle Paul gave the valedictory address. Mettie Guest was the class prophet and Maroy Chappell was the salutatorian. Agnes Stanley and Genie Denson read essays. Rev. Grant delivered an oration to the attendees. U.C. Barrett, of Dublin, gave the commencement address.
The year of 1910 signaled the end of the school. That year, W.T. Haskins, a trustee and avid supporter of the school, died. W.J. Gilbert of Dudley resigned as a trustee. In 1912 the Baptist Churches of Laurens County resigned from the association to form their own association. The majority of the support for the school was now in the hands of the Laurens County Baptist Association. The Association voted not to assume the operation of Ebenezer. The Ebenzer Association turned to the state to take over the operation of the school. This final desperate attempt failed. I.J. Duggan, who had been so instrumental in the founding of the school and who had donated the land, was given title to the land and the building. The conveyance was conditioned upon Duggan's sale of the property to reimburse those who had contributed to the rebuilding. So ended the brief life of the Ebenezer Association's only sponsored school.
ACROSS THE DANUBE
The Story of Sgt. Lester Porter
Wars are not supposed to be fought during the winter. This time the war couldn't wait until the end of winter. Until the invasion of Normandy in June of 1944, Laurens County's men had been spared from most of the brutal fighting of an infantry war. As the summer of 1944 progressed, more and more reports of injuries and death came back to grieving families. The "Hellcats" of 12th Armored Division were pushing inch by inch, mile by mile across Europe. Berlin, Germany was their ultimate destination. Utweiler, Germany was the first German town to fall just before Christmas of 1944.
A young Dublin sergeant was a member Combat Command A, 66th AIB. On the 16th of January, Command A was viciously shelled by German artillery near Offendorf. The young sergeant was seriously wounded in the left hip. Three years before, he had been a Boy Scout in Troop 65 and a Junior Wildlife Ranger, led by Wildlife Ranger, John N. Ross. The twenty year old boy, now a man, quickly recovered and rejoined his unit on February 15th. His mother feared he was dead. By mid-April the "Hellcats" were approaching the Danube River. Ironically, he was wounded within a few hundred yards of where, ten days earlier, his fellow Dubliner, S. Sgt. Frank Zetterower, was killed while trying to save the lives of his fellow men.
No invading army, not even the armies of Julius Caesar, nor Genghis Khan, nor the immortal Napoleon had ever managed to cross the river. Reports came in that the German army had left one bridge, at Dillingen, intact. The American armored units sped toward the bridge. There was no time to waste. The German 6th Panzer Division was a stubborn and formidable foe. The American’s dash was so rapid that the German forces had little time to organize their defenses.
The date was April 22, 1945. "Berlin Sally" was broadcasting that the bridge was scheduled to be destroyed. The Americans pulled out of camp at 0700 hours, and 4 hours and 32 miles later they arrived in Dillingen. Sally warned the Americans that the German Army was dug in - ready for a fight. When the Americans got to the bridge, it was still up. Captain Riddell and Platoon Sergeant Houston were the first on the bridge. They shot a couple of men who were trying to blow the bridge. Sgt. Houston called for a squad to cross the bridge. Near the end of the bridge were six five-hundred pound bombs, hundreds of pounds of wet Italian dynamite, sandbags, and wires running off in many directions toward the edges of the bridge. Sergeants Houston and Welch pulled back across the bridge. The young Dubliner led the remaining men as they ran across the bridge. The first task was to clear the area and establish a defensive position at the eastern end of the bridge. Other members of the squad were Frank Zendell, Robert Crumpton, Edward McGarr, William Moore, and John Horne.
The German army tried to explode the bridge. Six planes were shot down. Elements of the 199th Armored Engineers were sent to remove demolitions from the bridge. With the aid of only the moonlight, the sergeant and his buddies spotted mines floating down river and captured them in a net strung over the Danube. Hundreds of German soldiers were killed. The Americans repelled all attacks and took over a thousand prisoners. Edward McGarr captured two prisoners with an empty rifle. Artillery fire poured into the American position. The second most important bridge in the European War Theater was now open. The Bridge at Remagen may have been bigger, but the bridge at Dilligen remained intact. The 12th Armored Division poured across the bridge. The next four days were spent fighting off large scale air and artillery attacks. On April 28th, the Hellcats crossed the railroad bridge at Landsburg and feinted on Munich. The actions of these young American heroes paved the way for the final push into Berlin ten days later when the war ended in Europe on May 8, 1945. One survivor of Dachau Concentration camp credited the rapid capture of Dilligen Bridge with saving his life and the lives of the rest of the people in the camp.
The citizens of Dublin were proud of their young hero. Dublin Theatre manager Bob Hightower planned a special 7th War Loan premiere of the new Tracy and Hepburn movie, "Without Love." The purchase of a war bond was the ticket for admission to the movie in honor of the first American soldier to cross the Danube. That day, June 27, 1945, was "Buck" Porter Day in honor of Dublin's young war hero, Lester “Buck” Porter.
Lester Porter, son of Attorney Lester Lee and Ruth Guyton Porter, was born in Dublin in December of 1924. Lester graduated from Dublin High in the first year of World War II. After one year at North Georgia College, Porter began serving in the 12th Armored Division of the Seventh U.S. Army. For his actions in World War II, "Buck" Porter was awarded the Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citations, Croix de Guerre and Foix de Guerre, the Rhineland Battle Star, and many other service ribbons. After the war Porter graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Zoology. He then graduated from Northern Illinois College of Optometry.
Dr. Porter and his new wife Katherine Davis Porter returned to Dublin in 1951. Dr. Porter began his practice of optometry here and forty six years later, he is still practicing, now with his son, Dr. Edwin Porter. Dr. Porter has been active in civic and governmental affairs for all of that time. He has served in statewide Optometric positions for several years and has served as President of the Moore Street P.T.A., Lion's Club, Dublin Association of Fine Arts, and the Dublin-Laurens Chamber of Commerce. Porter served two terms as Mayor of Dublin from 1970 to 1974.
Laurens County has a rich heritage of his sons who served their country during World War II. The stories are moving and fascinating. They are stories of ordinary men, who when there time came, stepped forward and exhibited outstanding feats of courage.
THE FIRST AUTOMOBILES
On Tuesday, April 29, 1902, an automobile suddenly appeared on the streets of Dublin. It was the first of the horseless carriages that was ever seen in Dublin, it attracted a great deal of attention. Many Dubliners knew of the automobile but had never seen one. The automobile was in the charge of two young men who are traveling about the country advertising a chill and fever cure. The car came from the direction of Macon and darted down Jackson Street at a rapid rate of speed. Nearly every small boy in town and many others who seemed to come from a distance were soon behind the machine. People who were on the street stopped suddenly and gazed at the noiselessly moving vehicle, not quite certain that their eyes were not deceiving them. The doors of the business houses were soon filled with proprietors and employees and all business ceased.
The dray horses, which seldom had anything but the usual to break the monotony of their lives, were taken too much by surprise and performed several tricks unrequested by their drivers. The interest in the automobile was no greater in Dublin than it was in New York when the first one appeared there. Eldrid Simpkins continued his tour of Georgia. On May 1st the engine of the car caught on fire in Millen. The car was a total loss as were six buildings and eleven horses which perished in the fire.
Several years went by before the automobile became a common sight on the streets of Dublin. Obviously, the wealthiest men were the first car owners. In 1906, before there were many cars in Dublin, H.H. Smith led a movement to build a 5 mile speedway starting at the Railroad on Academy Avenue, thence to the Cotton Mill where it turned down Kellam and Roberson Streets. Running across northern Dublin the 60 foot wide track was planned to run into Washington Street, where it made its final turn back to Jackson Street. The $1000.00 track was never completed.
Rause Wright Miller, who came to Dublin in 1895 to open a bicycle shop, opened the first car dealership in Laurens County. He sold his first car, a Cadillac, on February 23, 1907 for $800.00. Frank Corker, President of the First National Bank, is thought to have been the first person in Laurens County to own an automobile. In 1908 Lewis W. Miller, brother of Rause Wright Miller, raced the train of the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad from Tennille to Dublin. Miller had to go slow in some places over bad roads. Miller in his Cadillac beat the train back to Dublin by ten minutes. Of course, cars needed gasoline to fuel their engines, so the Miller brothers installed the first gasoline tank and thereby established the first service station in Dublin.
The Dublin Auto and Machine Co. was incorporated by T.B. Darley in 1908. Frank F. Scarborough was the manager. A large sale room and repair shop was erected in the building now occupied by Charter Communications on South Jefferson Street near the railroad. By 1910, there were two hundred automobiles in Laurens County, seventy five percent of which were in Dublin.
Charles W. Brantley established the Laurens Automobile and Repair Company in 1910. Brantley built a two story - 50 x 100 foot - garage on Lawrence Street. The building is now the home of Allgood Services. The lower floor was an agency for Maxwell, Oakland, and Hupmobiles. Brantley was also an agent for Michelin Tires. Frank F. Scarborough was the manager. The upper floor was the garage, which remained open day and night for repairs. The garage was filled with windows which gave the mechanics better lighting. The garage had a capacity of fifty cars which were lowered and raised by elevator.
The automobile rapidly became a status symbol among Dublin's elite. In the early days purchases of new cars often made the newspaper such as W.B. Rice’s 1909 purchase of a 30 horse power Cadillac, the most powerful car in Dublin. Frank G. Corker and A.W. Garrett made the newspaper when they received their White gasoline cars in 1910. As early as 1909, Dubliners, who had been caught up in the fever of car racing in Savannah, staged races to Atlanta and back.
The emergence of automobile traffic accelerated the need for paved streets in Dublin. The horseless carriage couldn't handle the mud like the tried and true horses and mules. The automobile also forced the location of the Confederate Statue from the intersection of Jefferson Street and Jackson Street to its current location off the street. The first traffic signals were primitive and were placed in the streets. It wasn't until decades later when modern day traffic signals were installed.
In April of 1910, a automobile hill climbing contest was held at the Turkey Creek Hill near Dudley. The cars sped from west side of the creek to top of the hill. The top winners were 1. White Star Car - Charles Eberlein - 35 seconds; 2. White Gasolene - Marshall - 37 seconds; 3. Buick - L.W. Miller - 37 seconds. 4. The Ohio - Izzie Bashinski - 40 seconds.
Car races were usually held around the holidays. The greatest races were held on Bellevue Avenue. The race began on Bellevue Road at its intersection with Roberson Street at the current location of the Dublin Center. From there the racers would speed down the 1.6 dirt road course back to the finish line at the Carnegie Library, now the Dublin- Laurens Museum. Spectators by the thousands lined the course. The cars were timed, one at a time, by electric timers and telephones and averaged about 65 miles an hour with top speeds at 75 m.p.h. In 1910, the winners were A.M. Kea and F. Dunnel of Dublin, and Herbert Wilson of Hagan. The grand prize was $100.00. Motorcycles were also included with one Indian Motorcycle winning its division by averaging over 85 miles per hour. The enthusiasm lasted long after the race forcing the police chief to assign police officers with stop watches at different intervals to catch speeders. The rest of the story is history. For the last ninety five years, the automobile has been an integral part of our daily lives.
THE DAY THE PRESIDENT CAME TO TOWN
The Passage of Confederate President Jefferson David through Laurens County
April of 1865 saw the end of the bloodiest and most divisive four years in American History. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet fled Richmond one week before General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Davis's plan called for an escape to Texas where the remaining Confederate forces would combine to fight a guerilla type war against the North.
Jefferson Davis arrived on May 4th in Washington, Ga. where the Confederate Cabinet held its last session. Davis and his family headed in two different directions. The main party paused at Warthen and went south to Sandersville around noon on the 6th of May. Acting Confederate Treasury Secretary John Reagan transacted the last business of the Confederacy in Sandersville. Davis moved on toward the Oconee River in the area east of Ball's Ferry, with the intentions of camping there for the night. Shortly after their arrival at Ball's Ferry on the Irwinton to Wrightsville Road, President Davis and his escorts learned of a plan to attack the wagon train of Mrs. Davis which was pressing southward on a converging path.
Fearing for his family's safety, Davis pressed south along the river road. Whenever possible they had to travel off the edge of the road in order to hide their trail and prevent visual observation. After several hours of difficult travel through thick pine woods Davis and his party arrived just before dawn in the Mt. Pleasant and Frog Level communities, near the Laurens County home of E.J. Blackshear. To their sheer delight Mrs. Davis, the children, and the rest of the party arrived at the Blackshear home earlier that evening. After a short reunion, the Davis family had breakfast and then made their plans to resume their journey. By then, they knew that Union forces would not be far behind.
The Union Army had already begun to search for Jefferson Davis. The best cavalry regiment was selected to proceed east toward Dublin where they would cross the Oconee River and hopefully pick up the trail of Davis's wagon train. Davis's train of light wagons and ambulances crossed at the Dublin ferry early on the morning of the seventh of May. From there they proceeded into the center of town. As was the case of his previous traveling habits, Jefferson Davis traveled separately from the train. He crossed below the Dublin Ferry mounted on a fine bay horse. Davis then proceeded to the southeastern edge of town. Davis never came into town but remained in the area now bounded on the north by Madison Street, east by Decatur Street, south by the railroad, and west by South Franklin Street.
The wagon train pulled into Dublin late Sunday morning. In those days, Dublin was a small village which had practically died out during the war. A Confederate officer dismounted and approached the store of Freeman H. Rowe. Freeman Rowe, a native of Connecticut, operated his mercantile store on the southwest corner of the courthouse square in the spot where the Hicks Building now stands. Rowe, who had been in Dublin nearly twenty years, advised the officer of the terrain and roads in the county. He advised the party to proceed south down the Jacksonville Road, which is today known as the Glenwood Road. While the party was stopped, the Davis's carriage driver, John Davis, noticed a young black girl, Della Conway, approaching him. After the eventual capture of Jefferson Davis, John Davis would return to Laurens County where he would find and marry Della Conway. They would live in Laurens County for forty years before moving to Dodge County where they lived the rest of their lives. Mr. Rowe extended an invitation to Davis to dine at his house at the southwest corner of Rowe Street and Academy Avenue. Owing to the necessity of pressing on, the officer graciously declined the invitation, but he did accept freshly cooked food from the Rowe kitchen.
A detail was sent down to the President to advise him of the direction of travel. They joined Davis a few miles south of town and proceeded down toward Turkey Creek. The wagon train first started down the Jacksonville Road (Georgia Highway 19) but shortly moved over to the Telfair Road (U.S. Highway 441). According to the maps of the Union Army Corps of Engineers, the Confederates continued on the Telfair Road to a point about where Cedar Grove Crossing is located (U.S. Highway 441 and Georgia Highway 46). From that point, they turned in a more southwesterly direction toward Abbeville on the Ocmulgee River. Shortly after crossing Alligator Creek, Davis and his wagon trains camped for the night in lower Laurens County.
As Jefferson Davis was leaving the campsite at the Blackshear Plantation, Col. Harnden and the Wisconsin Cavalry were preparing to leave their campsite in Twiggs County. The cavalry pushed down the Old Macon Road until they came to it’s intersection with the Hawkinsville Road. The crossroads was then and is now known as Thomas Cross Roads. The Hawkinsville Road, also known as the Blackshear Trail or Blackshear's Ferry Road, followed an old Uchee Indian trail from Augusta to southern Alabama. As the Federals were approaching the crossroads, they learned that a contingent of several hundred paroled Confederate cavalry soldiers from General Johnston's army had just passed through there on their way home. This information seemed to be a little alarming to Col. Harnden because the men were mounted and as a precautionary measure he sent Lieutenant Orson P. Clinton and twenty men southwest to Laurens Hill on the Hawkinsville Road to reconnoiter that area. During the war, Laurens Hill had been the location of a Confederate commissary of arms and supplies.
Lt. Harnden turned left on the Hawkinsville Road and proceeded to the ferry where he arrived at 5:00 o'clock in the evening of May 7th. It was just north of the ferry where Davis had camped the night before. Lt. Clinton and his patrol arrived at the ferry about eleven o'clock. About midnight a Negro man walked into camp. He told Col. Harnden that Davis and his family passed through the town that day and went south down the River Road. The number of wagons counted was only six. He confirmed their identity by stating that he heard the lady addressed as Mrs. Davis and the man addressed as President Davis. He also confirmed that another party went down the opposite side of the river. This party could have been a patrol or could have been Confederate General and former Vice Pres. of the U.S., Joseph C. Breckinridge, who was following Jefferson Davis. Gen. Breckinridge barely escaped capture in Laurens Co. and hid out in Telfair Co. for a few days. He later escaped to England. The man also confirmed that the President did not cross at the ferry, but took a flat boat across the ferry three miles or so down the river. This would put his crossing in the area of the Dublin Ferry. The man finally told the cavalry that Jefferson Davis did not come into the town but remained on the outskirts.
As Monday morning, May 8th, dawned, the Union Army quickly moved down the road to Dublin, knowing they were right behind Pres. Davis. The army questioned the citizens of Dublin as to the route of the wagon train. Lieutenant T.W. Lane and forty five men remained in Dublin to picket the roads and guard the ferry. Despite the misdirection from F.H. Rowe, they proceeded down the Jacksonville Road. At Turkey Creek, a woman confirmed that a wagon train had passed the afternoon before. From this point the cavalry entered the unpopulated pine regions of southern Laurens County. They saw few people and quickly lost track of the wagons due to the rain. While the calvary were attempting to find the trail, a man approached on horseback. Denying that he knew anything, the man confessed upon threats by the cavalry. He disclosed that the wagon train stopped for the night about eleven miles away. He guided the cavalry to that spot in the forks of Alligator Creek. Col. Harden picked up the trail, followed it for a short time and eventually lost it again. Shortly thereafter the cavalry came upon another guide who, upon payment for his knowledge, guided the cavalry to the southern side of the forks of Alligator Creek, where the trail was again revealed. After they crossed Gum Swamp Creek, the cavalry stopped for the night as nightfall approached.
Davis left the rest of the party moving southwesterly toward Abbeville on the morning of the 8th. The torrential rains continued to cripple his escape, but allowed Davis to delay his capture by a day because even the faster cavalry units could not follow washed out trails. Davis reached the banks of the Ocmulgee in the late evening. After he crossed the river, Davis made his camp in a deserted house on the outskirts of Abbeville. Most of the townspeople knew nothing of his presence due to the heavy rainfall. The rest of the wagon train crossed the ferry just after midnight. About 3:00 o'clock on the morning of the ninth a courier was sent by President Davis warning the wagon train of the presence of Union Cavalry in Hawkinsville - only a few miles to the northwest.
On the last full day of freedom and with only a few moments of sleep the members of the Confederate wagon train pulled out of camp from Abbeville early in the morning of the 9th. They stopped to rest and a cook a sunrise breakfast about eight to ten miles below Abbeville. The relentless rains continued to plague the flight of the Confederates. Davis caught up with the rest of the party in the late afternoon. With the men and horses completely exhausted, the party crossed a small creek north of Irwinville to camp for the night.
It became increasingly apparent that in order to escape to the Trans Mississippi area that President Davis and his party should go ahead before camping for the night. Davis promised that he would move ahead after a quick meal. With the last reports of the Union Army in Hawkinsville and no sign of any pursuit, Davis decided to stay with the party for one more night.
Just before light on the morning of the ninth, Col. Harnden broke camp and moved toward the Ocmulgee. He then quickly moved down the river road to Abbeville. There they were overtaken by the advance scouts of the 4th Mich. Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Ben Pritchard. Col. Harnden sent Lt. Clinton to the point while he returned to Abbeville. They continued on the Irwinville Road until nine o'clock that evening. After traveling forty five miles and not wanting to warn Davis of his presence with a noisy river crossing, the Wisconsin Cavalry halted for the night in a field on the north side a small creek a little over a mile from the Confederates. The Mich. Cavalry moved north from Irwinville. Three hours before dawn the Wisconsin and Michigan cavalry soldiers were poised to surround the camp. Neither regiment knew of the other's presence. Shots rang out! The Union Soldiers were firing at each other. Two men were killed.
While the two Union regiments were violently bringing the search for Davis to an end, the actual capture of Jefferson Davis was peaceful. At the instant the firing on the north side of the creek began, the Michigan Cavalry charged through the Davis's campsite. Davis gave himself up when he felt his wife was being threatened. The Confederates were arrested and taken to Macon. From Macon, Jefferson Davis was sent to Fortress Monroe Prison in Virginia.
While the southern half of Middle Georgia escaped the ravages of battle, it was the site of the last major event of Civil War. The most critical event in the capture occurred in Dublin, where the Wisconsin Cavalry first learned of Davis's route. If Col. Harnden had been here a day earlier, then the capture would have been made in Laurens County. If he been delayed by a couple of days, the capture may have never occurred.
The Early History of Saxon Heights
and Johnson Street Schools
For most of the 19th century, the schools of Dublin and Laurens County were relatively small and usually only one story tall. The first substantial school in Dublin was located near the front of the current day City Hall. It was a simplistic two-story structure which also doubled as the lodge hall for the Laurens Lodge No. 75 F. and A.M.. The first true school house was constructed in the late 1880s on Academy Avenue. "The Academy" was located to the rear of and between the current office and home of Dr. Fred Moorman. When the janitor allegedly burned the school in January of 1901, Dublin was without a school house. City fathers quickly got together and constructed a modern day two-story brick school which today is home to the city government of Dublin. The new school handled all grades from first to eleventh - they only had eleven in those days.
During the middle of the first decade of the 20th century the northeastern section of Dublin was the most rapidly growing section of city. School board members realized that the High School could not serve all of the new children. John M. Williams, Frank G. Corker, and W.A. Wood were appointed to supervise the building of the new grammar school. The committee, having had no bids submitted on the project, turned to local architect, Rev. George C. Thompson. Rev. Thompson, who designed over a twenty buildings and homes in the city, served as Supernumerary of the Dublin District of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
The city chose a site comprising a half-block lying between North Franklin, Johnson, and North Washington Streets. The building was erected in a short period of time at a cost of $10,000.00. The two-story wooden building faced Johnson Street but had arched entrances on all four sides. The building, which was opened in January of 1906, contained eight large classrooms equipped with the most modern equipment. At the apex of the roof was a widow's walk. One interesting feature of the school was the black paint on the exterior of the second floor. This building was used for almost forty five years before being replaced by a modern brick structure. The brick building still stands but is no longer used as an elementary school.
One interesting feature of the original school was the fire escape. At the front corner of the building the contractors placed a slide leading from the second floor to the ground below. Oh what fun fire drills must have been in those days. After school, kids tirelessly climbed the slide from the bottom to the top and slid back down again.
W.M. McLauren, J.W. Mosley, Ruth Kinard, Mrs. W.W. Ward along with others served as principals during the early years. Among the early teachers were Ruth Smith, Hope Chavous, Sara Howard, Nellie Foster, May Robinson, Alma Carrere, Roberta Smith, Ann Braddy, Ethel Shelor, Mala Stanley, Elma Maxwell and Mildred Bishop.
Near the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, Dublin's growth shifted to the southwest along Smith Street in an area known as "Quality Hill". The citizens in the area demanded a school on their side of town. In 1908, the school board voted to build a school on a hill at the western end of Smith Street just west of Saxon Street. The land was purchased from Thomas H. Rowe, whose second wife was named Emma Saxon Guyton Rowe. Saxon Heights School had eight large classrooms and a small auditorium upstairs. The Saxon Heights School building, which opened in 1909, was striking similar to Johnson Street with only minor facial changes. The building, like its sister Johnson Street School, was occupied about forty five years, before giving way to a modern brick school building, which is still in use today.
Mrs. E.C. Campbell was one of the first principals and served a number of years. Among the early teachers were Ida Belle Williams, Minnie May Green, Zoe Hightower, Carrie Shropshire, Hope Chavous, Ethel Hall, Gertrude Pierce, Dora Belle Shewmake, Mrs. R.Y. Beckham, and Josephine Harrison.
Today, school fund raisers realize thousands of dollars with parents selling stuff to their friends and relatives. Eight decades ago the students of Saxon Heights School were trying to raise money for a Victrola. They sold lunches and candy, realizing a nice profit. For fun they put on a "tacky party", minstrel show, and races. The students staged a show featuring impersonations of the faculty. The admission charge was ten cents.
Both schools had a parallel history for over 80 years. They were nearly identical in design. They were the last of the wooden school houses in Dublin. Both schools were replaced with the help of the State of Georgia in the years following World War II. Neither school truly faced the streets for which they were named. Johnson Street School always seemed to face North Franklin Street and Saxon Heights Elementary, which was also known as Saxon Street School, faces Smith Street and originally faced Grady Street and overlooked Telfair Street. Johnson Street School is no more, while Saxon Heights Elementary is completing its 88th year of educating our children. While Dublin High School is well over a century old and has been located on four sites, Saxon Heights Elementary, is the oldest school in Laurens County still on its original site.
THE DUBLIN GUARDS
The History of the First National Guard Unit
in the Southeast
The first local military company founded after the Civil War was the Dublin Guards. The Dublin Guards were organized as a part of the 4th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteers in 1890. The earliest available information on the company from February of 1894 is the cadre of officers: Captain Lucien Quincy Stubbs, First Lt. T.K. Tharpe, Second Lt. M.A. Kendrick, and Junior Second Lt. Hugh McCall Moore. J. Ware Brown was the chaplain and Dr. J.H. Walton was the company surgeon. W.J. Hightower, the Clerk of the Superior Court, served as quartermaster. Lem Kreutz was the company drummer.
The Dublin Guards, designated as Company A, Second Infantry Regiment, Georgia State Troops, continued to be active during the Spanish American War. They drilled once a week in the auditorium located on the upper floor of the Leitch Stubbs building, which was then located at the southwestern corner of West Jackson Street and South Jefferson Street.
Willis Canty Davis, who attended West Point and served as a Captain in the Spanish American War, came to Dublin in the late 1890's. He replaced another lawyer, C.A. Weddington, as Captain of the Guards in 1901. Capt. Weddington stepped down to First Lieutenant while Hugh M. Moore stepped down to Second Lieutenant replacing L.L. Linder who had recently died. Second Lieutenant Moore was soon replaced by T.O. Dupree. By the end of the year all of the officers resigned and the Guards disbanded due to lack of interest.
In the fall of 1904, a new company was organized under the name of "The Laurens Volunteers". Judge John S. Adams was the civilian chairman of the organization while Ernest Camp acted as secretary. Capt. W.C. Davis was unanimously elected Captain with Hugh M. Moore and Arthur M. Wolfe were chosen as the lieutenants. Arthur Wolfe had attended West Point in 1902 but didn't have an officer's uniform, so he resigned in favor of T.O. Dupree who was the former Second Lieutenant of the Dublin Guards. The company was composed of sixty one men including the bugler, L.H. Thomas. The company met and drilled at the City Hall but soon moved back to the Leitch Stubbs building. By the beginning of 1906, the name had been changed to "The Dublin Rifles" which was a part of a loosely organized Georgia National Guard.
The Dublin Rifles were soon designated as Company K of the 2nd Georgia Infantry. In 1906 Cleveland L. Pope was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was quickly promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Lt. Pope was replaced by Douglas Smith. By the end of 1907, this company and other Georgia companies were decommissioned due to the peace and prosperity of the times.
With Woodrow Wilson's declaration of war with Germany in the spring of 1917, the call went out once again to organize the home guards. Judge R. D. Flynt served as chairman of the organizing committee. Capt. W.C. Davis, now too old to serve, also aided in the organization of the Dublin Guards. The mission of the local guards was to replace the National Guard units who would be going to Europe. Lt. J.C. Minnenant was called in to organize the local men into what would become the senior home guard organization in Georgia. Lt. Minnenant left for France in August. He was replaced by Capt. Lewis Cleveland Pope. The other officers were 1st Lt. C.F. Ludwig and 2nd Lt. R. D. Flynt. In the fall election, Dr. E. Ross Jordan, a local pharmacist, was elected 1st Lieutenant. W.M. Breedlove was elected 2nd Lt. and Carl Hilbun was elected 1st Sgt. In the late spring of 1919, the Company moved into its new quarters on the third floor of the Burch Building on the northwest corner of South Jefferson Street and West Madison Street. The company was decommissioned during the summer in favor of a National Guard Unit.
The "Dublin Guards" officially were reorganized into the first federally recognized National Guard company in the southeastern United States. The company was designated as Company A of the First Batallion, Georgia National Guard. Capt. Lewis Cleveland Pope took command of the company on August 28, 1919. First Lt. William M. Breedlove, 2nd Lt. Carl Hilburn, and 1st Sgt. Henry C. O'Neal were appointed as the remaining officers. In 1921, the Georgia National Guard was reorganized and the unit then became known as Company "K" of the 122nd Inf. At the same time HQ Co. of the Regiment was formed with its command located in Dublin. Three years later the designation was modified to Co."K" of the 121st Inf. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the regiment were established in Dublin in 1921. John E. Matthews served as 3rd Battalion commander from 1926 throughout the 1930s.
Lewis Cleveland Pope joined Company A of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, Georgia State Troops in 1899, one year before he graduated from Dublin High School. He served in every rank from private to Captain in the local unit. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1906. Capt. Pope served as 1st Lieutenant of the 30th Army Division during the Mexican Border Conflict in 1916. Col. James A. Thomas, son of General James A. Thomas of Dublin, was in command of the regiment. He contracted a fatal illness while on board a European bound ship during World War I. During the World War I years Capt. Pope returned to Dublin to serve as captain of the Dublin Guards. When the first National Guard unit was created in Dublin, Capt. Pope was the logical choice to command the company. In January of 1922, Capt. Pope was promoted to Major commanding the 3rd Batallion of the 1st Inf. Reg., Georgia National Guard. Within six months, he was again promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Within three more months, Pope was again promoted on a temporary basis to Brigadier General as Adjutant General of Georgia. Col. Pope was promoted to Colonel in the winter of 1923. Col. Pope commanded the 121st Infantry at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and during the war commanded the Regiment that became part of the famous 8th Division, which played an important role in the European theater. Col. Pope died on December 10, 1942 and was given a full military funeral at Northview Cemetery.
ANDREW CARNEGIE'S GIFT TO LAURENS COUNTY
The educated people of Dublin began calling for the establishment of a library as early as 1885. No one stepped forward until Dr. J. B. Duggan, a former Confederate Surgeon, offered the first one hundred dollars for a public library on January 1, 1903. The City Board of Education appointed a committee to contact philanthropist Andrew Carnegie seeking his help in building the library. Carnegie agreed to give ten thousand dollars for the construction of the building. His gift was predicated on the condition that the city fund the library in the minimum amount of one thousand dollars per year. Hal M. Stanley, a member of the board of education, led the effort to convince the city to accept Carnegie's offer. Over the years Carnegie donated funds to build more than 2800 libraries throughout the world.
The city selected the firm of Bruce, Morgan, and Dillon to design the library. This same firm designed the courthouse built nine years earlier. The first order of business was to remove the old school and Masonic lodge from the triangular lot at the intersection of Bellevue and Academy avenues. The building was moved to the lot when the new school was constructed in 1902. Robinson's Well, the artesian well that satisfied many thirsts, was capped with layers of cement. The city hired John A. Kelley to construct the building. Kelley was a leading contractor of the period. Among his other projects were the Catholic Church, the Chautaugua Auditorium and the major renovations of the First Methodist Church. Kelley's bid, whether by accident or design, matched Carnegie's gift of $10,000.
Construction on the building began in the latter part of 1903. By May, the thirty two-hundred pound columns were hoisted into place. Annie Wallace, a professional librarian from Atlanta, advised the architect on the interior design of the building. The building was accepted in mid September of 1904. The opening was delayed several times until November 7, 1904. School and library board president Frank G. Corker, Annie Wallace, and three visiting Presbyterian ministers spoke to a capacity crowd. Mrs. E.J. Blackshear played the violin accompanied by Mrs. J.A. Peacock on the piano.
Strict regulations were placed on patrons of the new library. Anyone wishing to check out books had to make a written application attested to by two prominent citizens of Dublin. There were no fees to city residents but non residents were charged three dollars per year. The library began by opening six days per week from nine a.m. to nine p.m. with hour breaks for lunch and supper.
The initial collection of 300 books came from private donations. Judge Peyton Wade donated several hundred of his three thousand books. The contractor John Kelley joined Dr. Duggan in contributing two hundred dollars for new books. The city appointed Frank G. Corker (President), James S. Simons, Jr. (Vice President), J.E. Smith, Jr., H.M. Stanley (Secretary), A.R. Arnau (Treasurer), G.H. Williams, Peyton L. Wade, H.G. Stevens, and A.T. Summerlin to the Library Board of Directors. Emma Manning, the first librarian, resigned shortly after she was hired. Miss Lily Hightower was then elected and served for seventeen years.
One of the first fund raising events for the new Carnegie Library was held at the high school auditorium. Professor William Irving Fayssoux displayed his talents as a clairvoyant and physcic. The proceeds from the event went to the book fund of the new library. At three o'clock, Fayssoux blindfolded himself. He then drove madly and daringly over the main streets of Dublin. He promised the crowd that he could find a letter which had been hidden by a prominent Dublinite. Whether he actually found the letter remains a mystery, mainly due to the fact that half of the newspapers of the period are missing.
In March of 1905, the library set aside a section for the establishment of a war museum. The museum featured artifacts of the Civil and Revolutionary Wars along with some Indian relics. In 1912, a monument to the soldiers of the Confederacy was unveiled on the grounds. In the mid 1920's a holly tree was planted on the grounds. Today the tree, which has split into two trunks, serves as the community Christmas Tree which is lit annually to raise funds for the Pilot's Club Life Line project.
Everyone in Dublin was proud of their new library. One morning in June of 1912, Miss Lily Hightower was working in her office in the Carnegie Library when she decided to leave her chair for a few moments. All of a sudden a hundred-pound chunk of ceiling plaster fell directly on the chair recently vacated by Miss Hightower. The result was the pressed metal ceiling you see today in the library, now home of the Dublin- Laurens Museum.
The library continued to grow despite very few funding increases. In twenty years, the circulation had grown from three thousand books per quarter to eight thousand books per quarter. The first Laurens County Library was established in 1938. The ladies of the Parnassus Club sponsored a library for county residents. The library was located in the county office building on East Madison Street, which served formerly as the post office from 1912 until 1936. Virginia Graves served as the first and only librarian. After a few months of operation, the Laurens County Library merged with the Carnegie Library. County-wide service began with the help of the W.P.A. which funded a traveling librarian. The new service was made also made possible by funds from the Laurens County Commissioners and the County School Board.
Our Most Important Link to Our Past
Someone once said that a society is judged by how it cares for its dead. There is a lot of truth in that statement. There are cemeteries in our communities which are well kept and there are many others that are neglected. Even worse are those cemeteries which are intentionally damaged by plowing them under or paving over them. Sometimes you see elaborate ornamental monuments in neatly kept plots. Sometimes you see pitiful sights like a headstone made out of a lawnmower handle and a newborn baby's plastic coffin protruding from the ground.
Before the 1880s, there were few graves in our area which were marked by stone markers. Stone markers were expensive. They had to be hauled in from the coast or North Georgia. Wooden markers, often with no inscription, were commonly used. Most of the first people who died were buried on their own land. Around the turn of this century, human remains were found while workers were digging the foundations of several buildings on the north side of the 100 block of West Jackson Street. One body was found near the front of the Methodist Church when it was being renovated in 1910.
The oldest cemetery in Dublin was located along the eastern margin of South Franklin Street at or near its intersection with Martin Luther King Drive. The cemetery was a part of the someplace of Revolutionary war veteran, Frederick Roberts. Legend has it that Roberts and others are buried in the cemetery which has been obliterated by the winds of time. Another cemetery was found along North Franklin Street in the vicinity of Johnson Street School. Still another cemetery was found along the eastern end of East Madison Street.
The first city cemetery was laid out during the first decade of Dublin's existence. At the time, the cemetery was located at the northwest corner of the town. Legend has it that the first burial dates back to 1819 when a young man by the name of Laurens Vivian died while visiting the Thomas McCall family in Dublin. It is said that he is buried beneath the sandstone grave marker just to left of the lane which runs from the front gate to the rear of the cemetery.
The cemetery, a little over an acre in size, followed the usual design of a 19th century cemetery. The ancient cedars and oaks give the place the appearance of a park. Among the social customs of 19th century Dublin was the socializing with others while visiting the graves of loved ones. Several types of graves are found in the cemetery. They range from marble to brick to sandstone. The predominant slabs and headstones are made of cement and concrete. Even a hundred years ago the cemetery fell into a serious state of disrepair. Calls came for the city to clean out the weeds. As of this moment graves are still slowly deteriorating through the ravages of weather. Over the last two decades, the decline has been slowed mainly due to volunteer efforts led by Pat Bazemore and increased maintenance by the City of Dublin.
The oldest existing marked gravestone is that of Elizabeth McCall who died in 1831. Mrs. McCall's grave marker is reminiscent of markers that one might see in Charleston, Savannah, and Williamsburg. Her husband, Thomas McCall, is the only soldier of the American Revolution buried in the cemetery. McCall served as Surveyor General of Georgia from 1786 through 1795.
Thirty one soldiers of the Confederate Army lie in the cemetery. Thomas N. Guyton served in the army during the Indian Wars of the 1830's. The cemetery contains the remains of one true Daughter of the American Revolution, Nancy Lancaster Duncan. Her son John T. Duncan, also buried there, served as a state representative, Judge of Inferior Court, Judge of Ordinary Court, and at the age of 23, was Laurens County's youngest sheriff.
Out in the county, nearly all of the early cemeteries were private family plots. Most of the graves in the older church cemeteries, date after the Civil War. There are well over a hundred known private cemeteries. Undoubtedly there are hundreds more which are not known. Slave cemeteries have nearly been obliterated. One is the Londonfield Cemetery in the Buckeye District on the old Guyton Place. This cemetery sits in a grove of oaks and sweet gums and despite its fairly large size contains only one marked grave and many sinkholes.
Rambling through grave yards give one a sense of the community in which people live. The large number of small children who died before the 1920s shows how inadequate medical care was in those days. Symbols are abundant in our cemeteries. There are the usual symbols like the Masonic or Eastern Star emblems or the Southern Cross of Honor for those who served in the military. Lambs and doves are placed on many stones as a sign of peace. Tree stumps symbolize that the person, usually a young child, was cut down in the prime of life and never had a chance to grow. Some children honor their parents with expressions of love. Others picked their own epitaphs like "Remember me. As you are, once was I. As I am, soon you will be. Remember God and follow me!"
Another symbol is not so obvious. Many of you may have seen one to two feet high brick walls surrounding family plots. Immediately, one thinks it was designed that way to protect the graves from animals. But that is not the case. For those who have visited the ruins of ancient towns and cities the similarity stands out. The small brick walls symbolize the fact that this is the foundation of the final family home.
The Laurens County Historical Society is the process of taking and inventory of all the cemeteries of Laurens County. This important genealogical project began last fall. Since that time nearly forty cemeteries have been inventoried in eastern Laurens County, in addition to the thirty something cemeteries previously inventoried by the D.A.R. and private citizens.
Home to America's First Cowboys
Long before the cries of "Head 'em up, Move 'em out" echoed across the plains of the southwest, cattle were raised along the coastal plain of the southeastern United States. While cattle had been in America for centuries, the first true cattlemen came to our country following the American Revolution. They were Scotsmen and Scotch-Irishmen who first settled in the Carolinas. The first generation of these cattlemen moved southward to the lower Oconee River Valley during the War of 1812. They were "America's First Cowboys" in a time when south Central Georgia was the southwestern United States. Today Wheeler County encompasses the extreme western portion of old Montgomery County, which lies west of the Oconee River. Originally the lands were a part of Telfair and Laurens Counties until the formation of Emanuel County in 1812.
With first names like Angus, Archibald, Alexander, Duncan, and Malcom and last names like McMillan, McLeod, McRae, McQuaig, McLemore, McArthur, Gillis, Peterson, Currie, and Clark, they came by the hundreds into Montgomery County, Georgia. The Scots came looking for good grazing lands, which they found in the regions of the Upper Wiregrass. Although the grass was not the best, the Scots would persevere for many decades to come.
The Highland Scots continued to move into the area well into the 1830s. Many of the families made brief stays in Ireland before coming to this country. Gaelic became a second language and was often used in church services. The Scots were known to be as honest and hard-working as they were obstinate and prejudiced. They were members of the Presbyterian faith. The central church was founded in 1851 just across the Oconee at Mt. Vernon. Some of the Scots converted to Methodism. They began meeting at Morrison's Hill, near Glenwood, in 1828.
Among the big farmers in mid-19th Century Wheeler County were: Archibald McMillan, Malcom Currie, Anqus McMillan, Duncan McCallum, Duncan Bohanon, William Haralson, George Browning, Gabriel McClement, Henry Wooten, James Chaney, and William Brantley. The 1850 Census recorded that the largest improved acreage farm was 200 acres. Larger tracts were used for grazing lands, including those used by sheep. The '50 census indicates that 75% of the current day Wheeler County's slaves worked in the southern part of the county where the larger farms were located. No Scots were considered planters, because none had more than twenty slaves. Roderick Gillis and Isabel McRae owned the most slaves, with seven each. When Georgia voted on secession from the Union in 1861, Montgomery County's citizens and representatives voted to remain in the Union, even after it was certain that Georgia would vote in favor of secession.
John McRae was among the more successful Scots who became public servants of early Wheeler County. Judge McRae, son of a native Scotsman, served as a justice of the Inferior Court, State Senator - including the first three years of the Civil War -, State Representative, U.S. Marshall, a forty year term as chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, and as Postmaster of Alamo, which was created in 1889. The McRae family donated the land for the new town. Christine McRae Brightto named the town for the immortal Catholic mission in Texas. She also named the streets for her seven daughters. Glenwood, which means small valley in the woods, was established the same year on land given by Peter Galbraith.
Many Wheeler County communities carry Scottish names. John McCrae established a village of McVille along the western banks of the Little Ocmulgee River which separates Wheeler County from Telfair County. When the railroad company requested that the town change its name to avoid confusion with McRae, Scotland became the name of the community at the far southwestern edge of Wheeler County. Other 19th century communities were McArthur, Bruce, and Little York.
Little York was established as Post Office on August 11, 1853. Duncan McRae was the first postmaster. He was followed by Alexander McMillan, Harlow Clark, Henry S. Clark, and John McRae. The post office was discontinued shortly after the end of the Civil War. The first two postmasters, McRae and McMillan, operated a general store in Little York. Through the generous donation by Mary Alice Brownson, the ledger books of the store are now available for inspection by historians and genealogists at the Dublin-Laurens Museum. These well preserved and invaluable books detail every purchase and payment during the mid 1850s. Other business records in the museum include the McRae store at McVille. The books give the names of hundreds of individuals who lived in present day Wheeler County, northeastern Telfair County, and southern Laurens County.
The heritage of the Scots in Wheeler and Montgomery County still lives on in their names of the county’s communities. Many descendants of the original families still live in the lower Oconee River valley.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
June 25, 1997 marks the 86th anniversary of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Dublin. But the history of the Catholic Church in Dublin actually goes back to the latter years of the last century, when Catholic services were held in the homes of Dublin's Catholic families. Sideboards and buffet tables served as altars. Those families included the Schaufeles, Mahoneys, Ludwigs, Kreutzes, and Thomases. Fathers Kennedy, Shadewell, and Winkelreid conducted services on a random basis. With such a small number of members hopes, for a permanent building seemed slim.
Father Richard Hamilton, of the Sacred Heart Church of Milledgeville, decided in 1905 that a church should be built in Dublin. About the year 1908, a Dublin woman came forth to support the building of a Catholic Church. A lot had been purchased on the northeast corner of Elm and Stonewall Streets, but that plan was abandoned when a generous offer came from Mrs. Victoire Lowe Stubbs. Mrs. Stubbs, widow of railroad baron and local attorney, Col. John M. Stubbs, offered land along the eastern end of her husband's estate. Mrs. Stubbs gave the land and generously contributed to the building fund. Mrs. Stubbs was a daughter of Gov. Louis Lowe of Maryland. Mrs. Stubbs's influence led to Mosignor George Duval's funding of the church. The Monsignor requested that the church be named: The Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The lot given by Mrs. Stubbs was located on a small ridge at the corner of North Church Street and Tucker Street. Mrs. Stubbs and her step children's generosity also extended to the area north of the church which they gave to the city of Dublin in honor of Col. Stubbs. The old Stubbs mill pond was drained and landscaped into Stubbs Park beginning in 1910.
The church hired Frank Seeburg, a noted architect from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Seeburg, who donated the plans, designed the church in the shape of a cross. The forty foot by eighty foot church was built of red brick with a tile roof. The sanctuary was designed to accommodate up to two hundred parishioners. In the rear of the church were the quarters of the priest with a living room, bed room, and kitchen. John A. Kelley, who had built the Carnegie Library, the Baptist Church, and who was then working on the expansion of the Methodist Church, was hired as the contractor. T.C. Fountain, the foreman, began construction in November of 1910. The estimated cost was $5,000.00 with a good deal of the funds coming from outside the parish. The first brick was laid on February 2, 1911, and the work was finished in six months.
The first mass celebrated in the church was held on June 25, 1911 under the direction of Bishop Benjamin Keiley of Savannah. Catholic clergy and laymen from all over Georgia were in attendance. The dedication of the new building must have been a spectacular and moving event. All the hard work of railroad agent M.V. Mahoney and his fellow Catholics had paid off.
Soon many new members joined the church. They were members of what was known as the Lebanese Colony. The Jepeways, Shehans, and Nashes, who engaged in the mercantile business, brought many new families into to the church. Even with the new members, the church remained as a mission church with services being held only twice a month. It wasn't until Mosignor McNamara began weekly masses that the church became an independent church.
The first priest to serve the church was Father Richard Hamiliton. He was followed by Father Dan McCarthy and Father T.J. Morrow, who continued to serve on a part time basis. Father L.L. Toups was the first permanent priest. He was followed by Father Nicholas Frizelle, and Father Walter Donovan. After many years, the church rose above its status as a mission church.
During the World War II years the Church experienced a new growth. Sailors and soldiers stationed at the Naval Hospital and the German/Italian P.0.W. camp attended services. The prisoners were seen nearly every Sunday marching down Academy then up Church Street to morning mass. Some of the more creative ones built a Christmas creche which has been displayed on many Christmases since then. As Dublin and Laurens County shifted to a balance mix of agricultural and industrial economies, more Catholic families joined the Church. During the Cuban crises of the early 60s, the Church became a haven for refugees.
Among the early lay leaders of the church were William F. Schaufele, Victoire Stubbs, M.V. Mahoney, H.E. Kreutz, C.F. Ludwig, Louis Thomas, Mose Jepeway, Gus Jepeway, George Jepeway, Louis Shehan, George Shehan, John Shehan, F.M. Nash, Louis Benchina, Mark Pournelle, W.E. Page, John Duff, B.D. Lafferty, W.P. Roche, W.P. Roche, and Charles Maloney.
The white Italian marble statues which stand in niches on the front of the church today were originally located in the interior until the 1961 renovation. The statue of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph holding the baby Jesus were given by Martin Marquis Malone of Philadelphia and the artist, respectively.
BEYOND THE HIGH WATER MARK
The 48th Georgia at Gettysburg
Of all the places I have been, one place stands out above all the others. Last summer I had the privilege to go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was a hot summer afternoon, just like those three days in July of 1863. Monuments, mostly dedicated to Union forces, are everywhere. Each corner of the battlefield has its own name. Little Round Top, The Devil's Den, The Peach Orchard, The Wheatfield, and Cemetery Ridge are names that live in infamy. It was a deeply moving experience to walk the one mile from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Ridge. One hundred and thirty four years ago, thousands of men walked that path, over half of them never made it back. For me and many others, Gettysburg holds a special significance in our lives.
I had no ancestors at the battle. There was one man there that day by the name of David Douglas. David was shot in the leg while moving toward the town on the 1st day of the battle. He died in a prison camp several months later. Nearly a year later, an 18 year boy, Arch Woods, joined the same Emanuel County company, virtually taking the place of Pvt. Douglas. After the war, Woods returned home and married Douglas' widow. As a result of that marriage and several others, I came into this world. As with my other people, my existence in this world was a result of those horrific days in July of 1863. It is truly mind boggling to think your being on earth may have depended on one shot out of millions.
On the second day of the battles, Robert E. Lee launched an all out attack on the Federal positions from Little Round Top to Cemetery Ridge. Each division attacked in order from south to north. Late in the afternoon, the order came for A.R. Wright's brigade to attack the Federal positions on Cemetery Ridge. The brigade commander was a Louisville born attorney, whose brigade consisted of four Georgia Regiments, including the 48th Georgia.
The 48th Georgia included companies from Jefferson Co., "The Jefferson Volunteers"; Johnson Co., "The Battleground Guards; Twiggs Co., "The Slappey Guards"; and Emanuel Co., "The McLeod Volunteers." Several Laurens County residents were members of the Battleground Guards. The 48th Georgia were a part of R.H. Anderson's Division of A.P. Hill's Corps.
At 6:30, Anderson sent his three remaining brigades to attack the center of Cemetery Ridge. Wright's men were deployed from left to right: 48th Georgia, 3rd Georgia, and 22nd Georgia. The 2nd Georgia was deployed in front as skirmishers. A few hundred yards away on the Bliss farm, four New Jersey companies were in position. Wright with his sixteen hundred Georgians began the attack in a quick step march across a mile-wide open field toward a small dip in the terrain. The advance went smoothly until the men came within musket range of the Emmitsburg Road. There they encountered a strong body of infantry behind a fence. The skirmishers from the 2nd Ga. were preparing the way. The battle line moved rapidly toward the ridge. Wright later recalled "We were in a hot place, and looking to my left through the smoke, I perceived that neither Posey nor Mahone had advanced and that my left was totally unprotected." Wright sent a courier to Gen. Anderson, who replied "both Posey and Mahone had been ordered in and that he would reiterate the order." As Wright passed the Bliss' yard, only a portion of Posey's men were in support of his attack. After a brief and furious fight at the Emmitsburg Road, Wright's right wing passed the Cordori House with little resistance. With half of their advance forces down and both of his flanks turned, the Federals pulled back.
The attack was directed toward a battery between a small clump of trees and Ziegler's Grove on the ridge to north. Wright's brigade, stretching four hundred yards wide, would just fit in between the trees and the grove. The six Napoleon cannons of Brown's Rhode Island Battery pounded Wright with case shot and then canisters. Wright's men routed the Federals from their second line of defense, a stone wall which would later come to be known as the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy. The Rhode Island Battery moved further up the hill under pressure from Posey's 19th Mississippi. The 48th attacked Gibbon's lines in hand to hand fighting. With well directed fire, Wright's men drove the cannoneers from their guns. As Wright's men captured the Napoleons of the Rhode Island Battery, they were suddenly pelted with canister and small arms fire from a ridge, one hundred yards away.
The Georgians jumped the stone wall and rushed to stand at the crest of the ridge. With an irresistible charge, they swept the Federal infantry from the ridge into a gorge beyond. The men were jubilant. The point where they stood would be the objective of Lee's attack the following day. Wright again requested support. The help they prayed for never came. Posey was stuck in the field to the north. For some unknown reason Mahone would not budge his brigade from Seminary Ridge - despite the repeated urging of Gen. Anderson.
The 69th Pennsylvania counterattacked on Wrights’ front. Wright's men suffered three effective volleys upon their unprotected flanks. Wright reported that the enemy was closing in. With no sign of support, the 48th retreated from the ridge. The Federals launched a bayonet charge and severe artillery attack.
The retreat continued under artillery fire from Cemetery Ridge. The 106th Pennsylvania, under Gen. Abner Doubleday, the fictional inventor of baseball, caught up with the 48th Georgia just before they reached the Emmitsburg Road. Col. William Gibson and several other officers including Capt. Thomas Kent of Johnson County were captured. After an hour or so it was all over. Nearly one half of the brigade lay dead, were wounded, or were captured.
The 48th Georgia's advance was the closest Lee's men came to cutting the Federal center at Gettysburg. Wright's men are often ignored in the history books for their accomplishments. They went further than any Confederate brigade at Gettysburg. A lone marker in front of the stone wall marks their historic feats of courage in their valiant charge at the point where the “High Tide Of The Confederacy” occurred the following day, July 3th, the immortal day of “Pickett’s Charge.”
EARL WEAVER AND THE 1958 DUBLIN ORIOLES
Throughout the post World War II years, minor league baseball covered most of the United States. There were well over a dozen teams in Georgia alone. The Georgia State League was founded in 1948. The next year Herschel Lovett entered a team in the league which played in the newly constructed Lovett Park. The GreenSox were one of the more successful teams in the league, which folded in 1956.
Baseball was big in Dublin in 1958. Mike Belote led the Pirates to the championship of the Little League. The Babe Ruth League, sponsored by local businesses, played some of their games at Lovett Park. They boys of eastern Laurens County were forming a new league. Cadwell High School was vying for the 5-C championship. Dublin had a team in the semi-pro Southern Pines League.
After one year without baseball, Dublin returned to the minor leagues, this time in the Georgia-Florida League. The team was supported by a group of local men headed by J. Elmer Mackey and A.O. Hadden. Local boys worked in the concession stands and around the park. The new team was associated with the Baltimore Orioles and were known as the Dublin Orioles.
The Georgia-Florida League had six teams in its Georgia division: the Dublin Orioles, the Valdosta Tigers, the Albany Cardinals, the Brunswick Phillies, the Thomasville Dodgers, and the Waycross Braves.
The Dublin team, which heretofore had veteran baseball men at the helm, took a chance on a 27 year old player who had bounced around the minor leagues for ten years. Before he began his major league managing career, Earl Sidney Weaver began his minor league career as a 17 year old in West Frankfort in 1948. He enjoyed his best seasons in the minor league at St. Joseph in 1949, Omaha in 1951, and Denver in 1954. In 1957, he played his last season as a regular player with Fitzgerald in the Georgia-Florida League.
During the 1958 season, Earl played in thirty seven games with twenty five hits, four home runs, and twenty one runs batted in. In eighty five at bats, Weaver hit for a .294 average with six doubles and twenty seven runs scored. Earl mainly played at second base, but moved to left field when needed.
Weaver was hired as a coach for the Orioles in 1968. He finished out that season as the manager with a winning record. In his first season, he led the Orioles to the American League Championship, before losing the World Series to the "Miracle" Mets. Weaver led the Orioles to the World Championship in 1970. The Orioles won a third consecutive league title in 1971, losing to the Pirates in the World Series. The Orioles came back in 1973 and 1974 to win Eastern Division titles. Weaver's last pennant was in 1979 when the Orioles lost to the Pirates in the World Series.
Earl Weaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on August 4, 1996, becoming only the 12th manager to be enshrined. His .583 winning percentage ranks him fifth on the modern all time list. Weaver, known as a fireball when it came to arguing with umpires, was most proud of the fact that he was never fired. Weaver had more 100-win seasons than any other manager except Joe McCarthy of the Yankees. He only had one losing season, his last, in 1986.
The Orioles played well that year, especially for a new team. They were consistent winners, especially in front of the home crowd. They finished in third in both halves of the season. Albany won the first half and Valdosta the second half. The Valdosta Tigers won the post season playoff.
During the '58 season, Weaver managed two future major league stars. Dave Nicholson, a hard swinging power hitter, once signed the largest rookie contract in the history of baseball. Nicholson played seven seasons in the "big show", including a season with the Braves. His 61 home runs were overshadowed by his 573 strikeouts. Steve Barber, a fire-balling southpaw, was a member of the pitching staff of the Baltimore Orioles, which rose to prominence in the 1966 World Series. Steve led the American League in shutouts in 1961, finishing with an 18 and 12 record. Barber pitched in the majors for 15 years with many teams including three seasons with Atlanta. Despite their future major league performances Barber and Nicholson failed to receive any post season honors in the Georgia-Florida League. First baseman Dave Bednar, outfielder Dick Ewin, and pitcher Ron Pearson were named to the Ga./Fla. All-Star team. The Orioles led the league in the number of players on the team. Bob Bird was voted the most valuable player and Pearson was chosen as the most valuable pitcher for the Orioles.
The 1958 Ga./Fla. League was one of the better Class D minor leagues. Several of the players went on to play in the major leagues. Valdosta Tiger Dick McAuliffe, a three time All-Star, was regarded by many as one the best American League shortstops of the 60s. He played 16 seasons for the Tigers and the Red Sox. McAuliffe, who led the AL in runs scored in 1968, was a leader of the 1968 World Champion Tigers. Don Wert, also playing for Valdosta, led the AL in fielding percentage in '65. Wert enjoyed his best season in 1968 playing on the all-star team and third base for the World Champion Tigers. Mike Shannon, an outfielder for the Albany Cardinals, played third base for the World Champion Cardinals in 1967.
1958 was the first and only season of the Dublin Orioles. Baseball returned to Dublin in 1962 for one final season. Lovett Park was torn down nearly three decades ago. Those days are part of our past. If you like baseball, especially good baseball where the players are eager and hungry for success, there is still good old fashioned minor league ball being played nearly every summer night in Macon, Savannah, Augusta, and Columbus. The action is close and fierce, the ticket prices are low, and the food is delicious and inexpensive.
THE LEGEND OF
UNCLE JACK PERRY'S GOLD
Perhaps no other mystery has captured the attention of Laurens Countians than the question of what happened to the gold of Jack Perry. Jack Perry lived on a large farm three miles north of Dublin. Most of the Perry farm comprised the land which lies on the Old Toomsboro Road, just north of Blackshear’s Ferry Road.
The legend began on July 22, 1878. Mr. John "Uncle Jack" Perry's widow was arrested on a warrant sworn out by Perry's son, Edward Perry. A few months before his death in May, Jack Perry told his son, Edward Perry, that he had buried four thousand dollars in gold. Jack had intended to leave this money to the children of his first wife. He had already provided for his second wife and her son Rawls Perry. Edward Perry told the authorities that his father had told only his wife of the location and she would divulge it after his death.
After Jack's death, Edward made several discreet inquiries about the gold. Mrs. Ann Perry denied any knowledge of the gold. She finally admitted her knowledge of the gold but that she had looked for it after his death but failed to find it. Mrs. Perry maintained that the gold was somewhere in the vicinity of where she dug. A subsequent investigation revealed only one hole with the impression of a metal box in the bottom of the hole. Two farm workers testified that they saw Mrs. Perry and her daughter-in-law Susan, Mrs. Rawls Perry, digging for the box. They stated that they saw the women dig up the box and dump its contents into a dish pan before returning to their house. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Mrs. Ann Perry and Mrs. Susan Perry.
A trial was held in the Court of Ordinary on a writ of Habeas Corpus on July 26. J.C. Scarborough, Deputy Sheriff of Laurens County, answered the writ stating that he was holding the couple on a writ of Trover and Bail seeking the recovery of gold and silver coin and United States Currency by Edward Perry, Executor of the estate of John Perry, Sr.. Judge John T. Duncan ruled that the money was personal property under the law and that the action was proper. He dismissed the writ of habeas corpus against both parties. Susan Perry's writ was dismissed due to her failure to swear to the petition. Both women were returned to jail. Their attorneys filed a new writ of habeas corpus with Judge Pate. The trial was scheduled for August 5 in Hawkinsville. The women's attorneys succeeded in having Edward Perry arrested on the grounds that he had the gold and silver which they alleged belonged to Ann Perry. Perry was released on bond and was never brought to trial.
James J. Connor, then mayor of Dublin, argued the case before Judge Pate in Hawkinsville. Three days later he attempted to convince Judge Duncan to release the women from jail. Judge Duncan denied their writ, stating the matter had already been heard in his court. The Judge of the Superior Court had already ruled on the case, and his court had no jurisdiction in the matter.
The talk of the affair was spreading into Johnson County as the women began their second month in jail. James Conner attempted to convince Judge Johnson of an adjoining circuit to rule on the writ. Judge Johnson refused to hear the matter on account of a busy court calendar and his own ill health. While the women remained in jail throughout the fall and winter their attorneys were seeking relief from the Supreme Court of Georgia. Attorneys Willam Wylly and James J. Conner argued for the women and R.A. Stanley and J.E. Hightower for the state and Edward Perry. The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of Judges Pate and Duncan.
Shortly after the court's decision, a man by the name of Louis Lightfoot appeared in Dublin. Lightfoot told some that he had purchased Nathan Perry's timber. He told others that he was a United States detective. Lightfoot told the jailer that he was a minister and wanted to visit the women. He tried to con the women into divulging the location of the gold. He soon skipped town when the foolishness of his stories were discovered. A warrant for his arrest was issued, but the authorities decided it was best just to let him go.
The Perry women finally got their trial, or what was called a trial, on April 16, 1879. The sole question for the jury was whether or not the women had the money. The courthouse was packed for the four day trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the estate in the amount of $4000.00 in the civil case. The Perry's attorneys sought to have them released from jail on the grounds that they were being held in prison for a debt, which was prohibited by Georgia's constitution. Judge Pate denied the motion and ordered the women be returned to the jail.
A moment of excitement interrupted the closing argument of Solicitor Shewmake. A fire alarm was sounded. The fire began in the kitchen of defense attorney Wylly. The house was saved but was severely damaged. The kitchen and smoke house were destroyed despite the best efforts of local citizens.
The case took a bizarre turn in the early morning hours of June 4th. About 2 o'clock a.m. jailor E.J. Tarpley was awakened by a large group of men. He was held prisoner while the men plundered through the house looking for the keys to the jail. They found the keys in a bureau drawer and proceeded to free the women from the jail. Mr. Tarpley went back to sleep and slept until after dawn. Tarpley counted twenty three men in and around his house and a large crowd milling around R.M. Arnau's blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of the courthouse square. Unconfirmed reports came in stating that eight men were seen escorting the women across Blackshear's Ferry the following dawn.
The liberators, left three notes on the jail door. The first and longest note was directed to Edward Perry. The liberators wrote " All humanity has long ago become indignant at your inhuman persecution of your mother and sister-in-law; by having them put in this prison for charges you know are false, and which you have not only perjured yourself, but perjured others to do likewise to maintain." They warned that any attempt to return the ladies to the jail would result in a peril to his life. Joseph Perry was warned that if the burned house of Mrs. Perry was not rebuilt within three months that "he will be visited and terribly dealt with." The final note was directed to Judge John T. Duncan. Duncan was warned that if he continued to seek votes by cooperating with Edward Perry that he too would be in danger. The notes were signed by "Five Hundred Avengers."
Edward Perry immediately offered a one hundred dollar reward for the capture and return of the women. Within a week, the reward was raised to five hundred dollars. It was thought they were being hidden in eastern Laurens County possibly in Johnson County. Gov. Alfred Colquitt issued a proclamation requiring all officers of the state to seek out and find the women. Gov. Colquitt added two hundred and fifty dollars to the award.
The written accounts of this case appear in the "The Dublin Post." Both sides of the story never made it into the newspaper. There was never any direct evidence that the women took the gold or who else might have taken it or whether the gold ever existed. The scapegoats in this case appear to be the Perry ladies, especially Susan Perry, who despite being ready to give birth to a child, was thrown in jail and kept there with only the testimony of a farm worker who could have taken the gold himself. Mrs. Perry obviously returned here because she raised a fine family, many of whom still live in Laurens County. All charges against the ladies were dropped and the matter was concluded until it was reprinted in "The Courier Herald" several years ago and again in my column. The entire case goes to prove that the whole truth of what you read in an old newspaper, a history book, or a family genealogy depends on who was giving the information to the writer. There is always someone who is given too much blame or not enough or too much credit.
Source Material: Dublin Post: July 25, August 1, 14, 21, September 4, October 30, 1878. February 26, March 5, March 12, April 23, June 11, June 18, August 6, 20, 1879.
GOVERNOR GEORGE M. TROUP
Laurens County’s Premier Statesman
George Michael Troup was born on September 7, 1780 at McIntosh's Bluff on the Tombigby River, which later became part of the state of Alabama. His family may have been Tories since his mother's McIntosh family was closely associated with the Scottish settlers of Darien, Georgia and his father was a British officer. The Troup family moved to Savannah in 1782. George graduated from Princeton University in 1797 and began his practice of law in Savannah.
Troup's legislative career began in 1801 at the age of twenty one when he was elected to the Georgia Legislature to represent Chatham County. He moved to Bryan County and he represented that county until 1806, when he was elected to the Congress of the United States. During the War of 1812, Cong. Troup served as Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. After retiring from Congress in 1815, Troup went back to Washington to serve in the Senate from 1816 to 1818.
Shortly after he ended his term in the Senate, Troup moved to Laurens County. Why he chose Laurens as his new home is somewhat of a mystery. The center of the state government was at Milledgeville. Savannah and Augusta were still the strongest political arenas in Georgia. George Troup's political affiliations were dynamically opposed to those of John Clarke. Clarke, the son of Elijah Clarke, Georgia's hero of the American Revolution, had served two terms as Governor from 1819 to 1823.
A political party was born out of those who supported Troup and who had previously supported William Crawford. Troup lost the Governor's election to Clarke in 1820 by 13 votes and again in 1821 by only two votes. In 1823, the last regular election by the legislature was held to choose the next Governor. Troup with the help of his new neighbor, the venerable Gen. David Blackshear of Laurens County, defeated Clarke by four votes. The Troup party soon developed into the a state's rights party.
The question of state's rights came to the forefront in 1823 when the legislature directed the Governor to obtain the remaining Indian lands in Georgia - something which the Federal government had previously agreed to do. Troup enlisted the aid of his first cousin, William McIntosh, to purchase the lands of the Creeks in western Georgia. Legend has it that McIntosh stayed at Well Springs in southern Laurens County while visiting with his cousin, the Governor. McIntosh, the half Scottish, half Creek Chief of the Lower Creeks convinced his tribes to sell their lands to Georgia. For this supposed act of treason, Chief McIntosh was killed by his own people in his home near Carrollton.
President John Quincy Adams took offense to Georgia's actions and threatened Federal military action to prevent further acquisition of Indian lands. Gov. Troup didn't budge. Heated communications were exchanged. With no blood being spilled, Troup prevailed and the Indians removed to the Carolinas and Oklahoma.
Governor Troup retired from politics once again in 1827. Two of the highlights of his term were the meeting with the Marquis de La Fayette in Savannah in 1825 and the naming of Troup County in his honor that same year. Gov. Troup returned to his home in Laurens County. Troup's main plantation home was Valdosta, an Italian phrase, meaning "beautiful valley". The home, which by some accounts was a series of jointed and unjointed buildings, was located on a high hill on the Old River Road about a mile north of I - 16. Troup maintained six plantations in the area. He purchased Valambrosa Plantation, near Dudley. The old oaks along Troup Lane are all that is left after the home burned in the 1880s. Troup purchased the old Thomas family plantation at Thomas Crossroads near the Laurens County Landfill. Another plantation, Rosemont, was located in western Treutlen County near Lothair. The Mitchell Place and the Horseshoe Bend Place were located in present day Wheeler County. More accounts of these places will be found in future articles.
Governor Troup returned to the United States Senate in 1828. He declined another term due his failing health. Gov. Troup, as he is forever known, returned to manage his plantations. He was a common site on the streets of Dublin as he traveled from Valdosta to Valambrosa. On several occasions he was nominated for President of the United States by several State's Rights parties, but regularly turned the nominations down due to his failing health. Troup remained somewhat active in politics. He entertained huge numbers of visitors on their travels along the Milledgeville and Darien Road which ran in front of his home.
George Troup lived a somewhat tragic life. His first wife, Ann McCormick died during their first year of marriage. Her sister, Elizabeth, was the first wife of Jonathan Sawyer, the founder of Dublin. Troup's second wife, Ann Carter, was a close cousin of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Ann Carter Troup appeared to have died at a relatively young age after giving birth to six children. Three of Troup's children died before reaching maturity. George Troup, Jr. died a few years before his father. The last twenty five years of his life were spent in ill health. Gov. Troup was a man of ordinary height with a light complexion, blue eyes, and sandy hair. He walked erect but his steps were slow and measured. He was solemn and reserved but among his friends was extremely affable. He was firm and determined, never giving in to compromise. Despite his ill health, his mind remained as sharp as ever, and his determination to do good for the public never waned.
Governor Troup died on April 26, 1856 from lung disease while on a visit to the Mitchell Place. His body was interred at Rosemont beside his brother, Robert. A granite monument, surrounded by a handsome sandstone wall, marks his grave which is located west of Lothair in Treutlen County.
POPLAR SPRINGS NORTH BAPTIST CHURCH
The Early Years of One of
Georgia’s Oldest Churches
On this past Friday, August 1, 1997, the members of Poplar Springs North Baptist Church celebrated their 190th anniversary as a church. The church appears to be the oldest active Georgia church congregation west of the Oconee River. Poplar Springs Church was actually consecrated four months before the land upon which it stood changed from Wilkinson County to Laurens County. The members of the community chose a site centered among the most well populated regions of the southern tip of Wilkinson County. A small meeting house was constructed half way between the Oconee River and Turkey Creek near the Lower Uchee Indian Path. Today the church sits near the original site on Highway 338, a little over a mile from U.S. 441 North.
The founding presbytery consisted of the Rev. Charles Culpepper, Rev. Isiah Shirey, and Charnick Allen Tharp. Rev. John Albritton is thought to have opened the services. Amos Love was chosen as the first church clerk - he also served as the first clerk of Laurens County Superior Court. The founding families of the church were the Albrittons, Bowens, Culpeppers, Gilberts, Kents, Loves, Mannings, O'Neals, Pollocks, Stephenses, Thompsons, Warrens, Watsons, and Yarboroughs. Mary, probably a slave belonging to the Albrittons, was the first African-American church member in Laurens County History. Several early members were prominent in the first century of Georgia's history.
The first man to pastor an organized church in Laurens County was the Rev. William Hawthorn. Rev. Hawthorn, a soldier of the American Revolution and a native of North Carolina, moved to the Allentown (Wilkinson County) area about the year 1806. In August of 1808, Rev. Hawthorn was called to Poplar Springs Baptist Church. Rev. Hawthorn served the church for 10 months. His home became a part of Twiggs County in 1810. Rev. Hawthorn also served his community in state government. In 1814, the Reverend was elected by Twiggs Countians to the State Senate. From 1819 to 1821, Rev. Hawthorn represented Pulaski County in the Senate. Rev. Hawthorn moved to Decatur County, where he represented that county in the Senate in 1827 and again in 1829. Rev. Hawthorn may have been the only person in the history of Georgia to represent three different counties in the Georgia Senate. During his lifetime, Rev. Hawthorn also served in the local governments of four counties. Rev. Hawthorn died on May 15, 1846. His lasting legacy is the Hawthorn Trail, which follows the modern highway from Albany to Tallahassee to the Gulf of Mexico.
Lott Warren was born in Burke County, Georgia on Oct. 30, 1797. The Warrens moved in 1804 to what later became Laurens County. Lott, an orphan at the age of 12, went to live with his uncle, the Rev. Charles Culpepper. While working as a clerk in a Dublin store, Warren was drafted into the Georgia Militia. The young man was elected Second Lieutenant of the Laurens County company. Lt. Warren was then appointed Adjutant of the detachment. Lt. Warren returned home and studied law under Daniel McNeel before being admitted to the bar in 1821. In 1824 Col. Warren represented Laurens County in the Legislature. In 1826 Warren served as the Solicitor General of the Southern Circuit from 1826 to 1828. Warren moved to Twiggs County, representing that county in the Senate in 1830. In 1831 Col. Warren began a three year term as Judge of the Southern Circuit. Judge Warren moved to Americus. In 1838 he was elected to the United States Congress. After serving two terms in Congress, Lott Warren returned to private practice. Judge Warren returned to the bench serving as Judge of the Southwestern Circuit from 1844 until his resignation in August of 1852. Lott Warren was a faithful member of the Baptist Church and followed the teachings of Christ in his legal and political career. Judge Warren fell dead while making a speech in the courthouse at Albany on June 17, 1861.
Eli Warren, son of revolutionary war soldier Josiah Warren and Nancy Doty, was a native of Laurens. Eli Warren represented Laurens County in both houses of the Georgia Legislature. He was a member of two constitutional conventions and a brigadier general in the Georgia militia. At the height of his legal career, Gen. Warren was said to have had one of the largest practices in the state. Gen. Warren had many notable descendants. His grandson, Kittrell J. Warren founded "The Macon News". One of his daughters married James W. Lathrop, founder and first president of the Savannah Cotton Exchange. Warren Grice, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, was also a descendant. Eli Warren's brother-in-law was Peter Early Love. Love was a Solicitor General and Judge of the Southern Circuit. Love was also one of the members of the Georgia Congressional delegation when the Civil War broke out in 1861.
Rev. Charles Culpepper, a leading pioneer Georgia Baptist minister, served as pastor at Poplar Springs from 1809 to 1830. Whiteford S. Ramsay, founder of the Dublin and Laurens County School systems, served as pastor for 30 years from 1870 until his death in 1900. Rev. Ramsay served as a minister longer than anyone else at Poplar Springs. Ramsay, at 21 years of age, was one of the youngest Colonels in the Confederate Army.
Poplar Springs North Church is rapidly approaching its bicentennial year, which also coincides with our county's 200th anniversary. We are all fortunate the minutes of the church have survived for 190 years. The church has such a rich history that a full account can not be given in this column. I refer you to The History of Poplar Springs North Baptist Church by R.M. Johnson. It is an outstanding history of Laurens County's and one of Georgia's oldest churches.
THE TRANS OCONEE REPUBLIC
Elijah Clarke was Georgia's hero of the American Revolution. Georgia showed its appreciation by granting tens of thousands of acres to Clarke all over Georgia. Clarke was granted nearly two thousand acres of land in present day Laurens County. His lands lay along Big Creek, formerly Clarke's Creek, from northern East Dublin toward Ben Hall Lake. To Clarke this was not enough. The lands west of the Oconee River were virtually uninhabited in the 1790's. Georgian's up and down the eastern side of the river lived in constant terror from the threat of attack by the Indians of western Georgia.
In 1794, the French emissary, Genet, came to the United States to seek support for an attack on the Spanish in America. Elijah Clarke's deep rooted hatred of the Spanish goes back to the early days of Georgia when the Spanish were mortal enemies of the British Colony. Clarke accepted a commission from France in its campaign to seize Florida and retake Louisiana. Clarke began to attract men from South Carolina and Georgia. The small army crossed over the Oconee and camped opposite Greensboro in April and early May. Despite the Governor's orders, no one attempted to stop Clarke. Clarke's men marched down an old Indian Trail along the west side of the Oconee. The men rested along the banks opposite Carr's Bluff and the future site of Blackshear's Ferry. Colonel Carr and Major Williamson of Washington County joined Clarke. The French sent two hundred men to St. Mary's. By May 14th, Clarke had crossed into Florida. His objective was the ancient city of St. Augustine. Secretary of War Henry Knox vehemently tried to stop the expedition, which threatened the United States' position of neutrality with Spain. The pressure worked. The French withdrew their support when a new minister was appointed. The Spanish gave in to Washington's demand and withdrew from lands claimed by Georgia. Clarke, now within a few miles of the walls of St. Augustine, was forced to withdraw. To Clarke, the mission was a failure, even though the Spanish began to retreat from southern Georgia and within two decades would completely leave Florida.
Clarke returned to the lands west of the Oconee after his withdrawal from Florida. Gen. Clarke established the Trans Oconee Republic. The center of the Republic was located along the Milledgeville - Toombsboro Road. Clarke established forts from northern Laurens County near Turkey Creek to the site of present day Milledgeville. The Turkey Creek site may have been along the Old Macon Road in the northern part of the county. Houses were built and an unknown number of settlers moved in. Clarke had at least accomplished one goal. Indian massacres had become virtually nonexistent. On July 28, 1794, Gov. Matthews reversed his mild opposition to Clarke and ordered his arrest. Matthews was under extreme pressure to remove Clarke by the Federal Government. Clarke was a hero of Georgia and South Carolina and was feared by the Indians. He gave himself up and returned to face a Wilkes County jury. The verdict was unanimous and Clarke was found innocent of all charges. Feeling vindicated, hereturned across the Oconee. Clarke's men stood alone. From President George Washington to Georgia Gov. Matthews, government officials condemned Clarke. A petition was circulated in the legislature to open up the land to all settlers. Clarke's fellow Georgians were now ready to take up arms against their hero. Clark never had any intention to harm his fellow Georgians. State and Federal troops concentrated opposite Fort Fidius. Brig. General and future governor, Jared Irwin of Washington County, led the Georgia militia. Clarke retreated and marched his forces away. The Trans Oconee Republic crumbled on September 28, 1794. Clarke's dreams went up the smoke of Fort Fidius, Fort Advance, and Fort Defiance as they burned to the ground.
GENEALOGY RESOURCES IN OUR AREA
For the last twenty years, the number of Americans searching for their roots has risen dramatically. The renewal of patriotism during the bicentennial and the movie "Roots" are given some credit for the rapidly growing hobby. For some it starts out as a passing interest and becomes a passion. Others get frustrated and give up. Patience is a virtue that any genealogist must have and luck is a gift that all genealogists pray for.
With the opening of the new Local Heritage and Genealogy Center at the Laurens County Library, those persons doing research in our county have a new resource. These resources also extend to other counties in Georgia. Among the library's collection of microfilm records include most of the records of Laurens County, Johnson County, and Wilkinson County. The library is in the process of acquiring microfilm county records of Washington and Emanuel Counties. Eventually, many of the records of our surrounding counties will be available in the heritage center. A donation to your local heritage center is a good way to honor the passing of a loved one or friend. While the library's collection is small by some standards, it is an excellent collection for a community of our size. New acquisitions are coming in every month. Other helpful resources at the library include the Internet system, the Mormon family search cd-roms, the Social-Security Death Index, the "Courier Herald" obituary index, all Georgia census records until 1920 (the last available) and the Georgia death certificate index. The surviving newspapers of Dublin can be found on microfilm. Eventually the library will acquire all of the Johnson County papers. Hopefully, many other county papers will be added to the collection. The library houses a good collection of local historical works, including cemetery records, DAR compilations, and Allen Thomas's compilation of legal records from 1807 to 1857.
The oldest collection of genealogical works is maintained by the Laurens County Historical Society and is housed in the Dublin - Laurens Museum. Libraries in surrounding counties also have materials on their respective county's history. Over the last thirty years, the Historical Society has been given several genealogical books, pictures, artifacts, files, and resources which are not yet available at the Laurens County Library. The society is in the process of listing and compiling all of Laurens County's graves and the corresponding information, which are invaluable for research. Unfortunately, only a handful of persons who died before the 1880s have marked graves. At press time the society has compiled the names from over one hundred cemeteries. The museum is open Tue. to Fri. 1 to 4:30 p.m. or by appointment. Nearly every community has their own historical society.
Of course, your county courthouse is also a treasure trove of genealogical information. One often finds the older records in a hap hazard state of storage. Deeds and wills are often kept in easily retrievable positions. Other records, because of space limitations, have to be stacked on top of each other. Those persons searching Laurens County Records are extremely fortunate in that Allen Thomas, Clerk of the Superior Court, has indexed all of the county's records during its first 50 years. Other unindexed records are in good state of preservation. Allen has recovered and preserved a large collection of "loose records" which give the genealogist important information about the estates of their ancestors. One can often find an original document signed by their ancestor.
A researcher can occasionally find information from heritage organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the Confederacy, or the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The Laurens County Library has "the Official Reports of the War of the Rebellion" which give the Civil War buff detailed records of their ancestors activities. Both the museum and the library have my compilation of information on over one thousand Laurens County Confederate veterans.
Other local resources include some church and school records. Birth and death certificates can be obtained from the local health department or Probate Court, depending in which county you live.
Your most accessible and best genealogical resource is your own family. No matter what your age or your interest, you need to sit down and talk with the oldest members of your family. This gives you a point from which to begin your research. Many families have family Bibles, in which the names of family members and their dates of death and birth are included. These talks often result in contact with other, more distant, relatives who are already working on the family's history.
If you get bit by the bug, like many of us do, you will have to go outside of your local area to find out more about your family. Most of us usually get stuck between 1800 and 1820. For African-Americans, research before 1870 is extremely difficult. It is said that most people who lived before the 1800s lived and died without any record of their existence. The Washington Memorial Library in Macon is regarded as one of the finest genealogical libraries in the eastern U.S.. It houses collections from all of the original 13 states and most states east of the Mississippi. The Ladson Library in Vidalia houses a fine collection of genealogy material, especially for those persons who have ancestors in Georgia. The Ellen Odom Library in Moultrie is rapidly becoming one of the best in the country. The Georgia State Archives houses a large collection of genealogical material and hundreds of thousands of other items for the advanced researcher. The Georgia State Historical Society in Savannah maintains a large collection of material and is working with historical societies and heritage organizations of our state to coordinate their efforts to preserve our state's history. The University of Georgia's collection features copies of most of all existing newspapers of Georgia. We all studied history in school. Some liked it and some were down right bored to death. Now is the time to study your most important history, the history of your family.
WE MADE IT OUT!
WE'RE GOING HOME!
The Story of Lt. James Adams, P.O.W.
James Adams, known to his buddies as "Speedie", was one of nearly a hundred graduates of the Dublin High School Class of 1937. The winds of war were howling in Europe. Four of his classmates went off to war - never to return home again. Hiram Scarborough was the first Laurens Countian to lose his life in the war. Wex Jordan, an all conference football player at Georgia Tech, lost his life in a plane accident at San Diego. James and his buddy Jack Flanders, decided to enlist in the Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on September 17, 1940. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, HQ Detachment of the 121st Infantry, 30th Division. Many of their friends were members of Company K of the 121st, the local National Guard unit station in Dublin. James enrolled in flight training as an Air Corps Cadet at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama. He earned his wings and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on November 21, 1942.
Lt. Adams was awakened early on the morning of January 13, 1944. He had just completed his 27th combat mission, flying eight in the last ten days. That day was supposed to be a day of rest. Another navigator/bombardier was sick that morning. Lt. Adams was the only man to take his place. After a quick breakfast Lt. Adams climbed into the plexi-glass nose of his B-25. The mission was to bomb the airdromes around Rome, Italy. The mission was going well. Adams was, like always, choking on the strong acrid smell of gunpowder from the anti-aircraft flak hurled at the American planes. The bombs hit the target. The plane was pulling away. All of sudden something went wrong. The bomber suffered a direct hit in the tail. Sgt. Joseph Grady, the turret gunner, was mortally wounded. The first pilot, Lt. Henry Luther, managed to continue flying despite the loss of power and maneuverability. The crew bailed out except for Lt. Luther who escaped just before the plane crashed.
Lt. Adams landed safely with his parachute on top of him - his fall cushioned by a few inches of snow. As his crawled out, he was shocked to find a large contingent of German soldiers surrounding him. One soldier tried to pistol whip him, but the frightened young man was rescued by a superior officer. Adams was taken to the unit commander. As a former prisoner of war in World War I, the English speaking German officer showed compassion toward Adams, allowing him to keep his cigarettes and a New Testament Bible, which Adams had received from his sister Lois just two days before. An inscription in the Bible read "May this protect you from harm." Adams returned the favor by sharing a smoke with the officer. Lt. Adams found Sergeants Frank Maraia and Robert Wooten, the radio operator and the tail gunner. They were much more seriously injured than Lt. Adams. The airmen were given a hot bowl of stew, their first meal in many long hours. Luckily the group was put in the care of another compassionate German. The English speaking doctor gave them the best medical care available and saw to improving the food and sanitary conditions in the camp.
The prisoners were run through a series of filthy cramped cells and prisons. For a brief period, they were taken to Ciampino Airdrome, the target of their last mission. Nearly a week later, Adams ran into Morton Mason, Jr., who happened to be from Dublin. The pair almost didn't recognize each other in their emaciated conditions. Adams kept searching for his crew. Adams finally wound up at his permanent prison camp, Stalag Luft 1 near Barth, Germany on February 6, 1944. Pilot Luther managed to elude the German army for two months before being captured and taken to Stalag Luft III. He managed to escape just before the end of the war. Adams wouldn't learn of his fate for another 44 years. Lt. Joe Berger, the co-pilot, also managed to avoid capture for a short while, but was eventually taken to Stalag Luft I, in the same cell block with Lt. Adams. Sgts. Maraia and Wooten landed in Stalag IV in Poland.
Lt. Adams made many lifelong friends. He kept a diary and his fifty year friend, Ed Dunlap, sketched revealing pictures of prison life. The ingenious prisoners took dozens of photographs with a hidden camera. Every attempt at escape was turned away by the guards, who even used earthquake detectors to detect the digging of tunnels. While the conditions were bad, the prisoners were treated tolerably by their captors. The prisoners kept up with the progress of the war with a make-shift radio tuned to the BBC. They knew the end of the war was coming. They could hear it in the rolling thunder from the countryside. One day they awoke and the guards were gone - running in fear of the oncoming Russian army. The prisoners remained in the camp for two weeks. The long journey back to France was the shortest trip they ever made.
Fifty years after coming home, 61 ex-POW's went back Europe. They met some of their Russian saviors. The highlight of the trip was the trip to Stalag I at Barth. The prison was gone. Visions of their 15 month home must have appeared in the now abandoned field. Half of the crew is still living: Lt. James Adams in Concord, North Carolina, Sgt. Frank Maraia in Staten Island, New York, and Lt. Henry Luther, the pilot, in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The story which Lt. Adams would like to be told "is not the horrible part of it - it was horrible - but how many of us lived!"
Taken from the memoirs of Lt. James C. Adams, United States Army Air Corps, donated by Lt. Adams to the Laurens County Historical Society.
The autumn fields of Laurens County once covered with "Georgia Snow" breathed life into a community decimated by the ravages of the late war. For most of the first two hundred years of Georgia's history, cotton was the number one cash crop. Laurens County was totally dependent on cotton. Cotton gave Dublin prosperity but in the end Dublin almost died when the boll weevil, and nearly wiped out the entire crop.
Most of the land in present day Dublin was once farm land. As late as 1891 the land between East Madison Street and the railroad was planted in cotton. Dublin was the center of the agricultural community of Laurens County. During the three decades prior to the Great Depression, Laurens County was a leading producer of agricultural products in Georgia.
Laurens County's claim as one of the largest cotton producers in Georgia was manily due to its tremendous size. The majority of the cotton lands were originally located on the large plantations of northern Laurens County. In the years before railroads came into the county, production was limited due to high cost of transportation. The southwestern third of Laurens County was filled mostly with virgin pines. With no railroads and slightly more than primitive river transportation, Laurens farmers operated at a disadvantage. The post Civil War era brought railroads and better river boats. Nationwide, cotton production increased five hundred percent in the forty years following the Civil War. New markets were opening out west and in Europe. The railroads brought the farmer more fertilizers and products which led to increased production of cotton. In the 1880s, production in Laurens was limited to seven to eight thousand bales per year. The first of the railroads arrived in 1886. Although the impact was not immediately felt, the face of Dublin and Laurens County was about to change forever.
Cotton and the railroads were inseparable. Take away one and the other would follow. Nearly every old building you see, either in Dublin or in the towns of our county, owes it existence, either directly or indirectly, to cotton. As cotton production increased, various related businesses sprang up. The Georgia Warehouse and Compress Company, which still stands at the southeast intersection of South Franklin and East Madison Streets, was established in 1895. The company boasted of its ability to compress seventy bales of cotton per hour and to have a farmer's Monday morning cotton on a ship bound for Europe on Tuesday afternoon. By-products of cotton were also used. Cotton seed were ground into oil. The seed was also used for fertilizer. One Dublin man, Henry C. Fuqua, Sr., claimed to be the first man to use cottonseed as a fertilizer - nearly a century before cotton became "king" in Laurens.
William Pritchett, Thomas Pritchett, H.E. Pritchett, C.W. Brantley and J.M. Finn led the establishment of the Dublin Cotton Mill in 1901. The eight thousand spindle mill turned out cotton thread for use in making cotton fabrics. The mill, operating under the name of the Georgia Cotton Mill and the Oconee Cotton Mill, had a brief and not so successful life which ended when the building was destroyed by fire in 1913. Three cotton oil companies, Empire Cotton Oil, Southern Cotton Oil, and Laurens Cotton Oil Company dominated the skyline of southeastern Dublin. The latter was located on the site of Southern Peanut and Storage Company. The warehouses of W.T. Smith and L.C. Beacham were among the largest in the city. These warehouses also served as some of the first public auditoriums and the first basketball and boxing arenas. With the coming of the telephone and the well established telegraph, cotton brokerage firms, like the Dublin Cotton Exchange were established. These firms also provided up to the minute election returns and play by play accounts of the World Series.
Cotton related business began to thrive. Fertlizer plants, like the Consolidated Phosphate Company, were established. Cotton's most important by-product was money. The beautiful old houses on Bellevue were all built with money which was obtained through the influence of cotton. With more money came more people. Those people had to buy clothes and food. They bought mules and cars. Dublin was growing so fast that it was penned as "The only city in Georgia, that's doublin' all the time." Out in the county, the number of farms was approaching four thousand - the most in the state. When prices were up and the weather good, the economy thrived.
Cotton production varied during the first decade of this century. The average yearly crop amounted to thirty four thousand bales. Experts began warning farmers of the coming of the boll weevil in 1907. W.B. Rice, who owned the current site of the VA hospital, was a master planter. C.S. Pope produced ten bales on a three acre tract. Edward Talley, a five year old cotton picker, was praised for picking seventy two pounds in seven hours, more than many adults could gather. Beginning in the second decade, cotton production began to soar. Over one hundred thousand acres of land were covered with cotton. That is twenty percent of Laurens County. Laurens County produced well over sixty one thousand bales, or 30.6 million pounds, in 1911, which was the largest crop ever produced by a single county in Georgia's history. Laid end to end the bales would extend over sixty miles. Laurens County continued to lead the state for two more years.
During World War II the boll weevil made it to Georgia. The first ones were found on the Montrose farm of A.C. Ross in October of 1916. Cotton production was cut in half. Most of the banks and many stores closed. Tenant farmers left for better paying jobs. Ten years before the "Great Depression", Laurens County and its neighbors began suffering through the their own depression. Cotton production slowly declined reaching a low point of 635 bales during the sweltering summer of 1980. Slowly more farmers started planting. Then, suddenly, in 1994 production rose four hundred percent. The yield was nearly two bales per acre. At that rate, 1911 farmers would have produced three times as much cotton. Last year the county reached its 1919 crop level. This year acreage has increased to over fourteen thousand acres. With the right weather conditions, cotton is expected to continue its slow return to its throne.
THE RACHEL'S CHICKEN FARM
Laurens County farmers had to find something to replace the cotton crop which was rapidly being destroyed by the boll weevil. The county was too dependent on "Georgia Snow". Corn was still a large cash crop but couldn't take up the slack when cotton production plummeted. Farmers stepped up livestock production. More field crops were produced. These included sweet potatoes, watermelons and grains. Some farmers even tried strawberries, dewberries, and yes, paprika. One farmer had a good idea. He knew what he could do with the proper equipment, land, and luck.
Julian A. Rachels enlisted the aid of his brother-in-law, Doyle C. Knight in beginning a new commercial farm business. Between the two of the men, they had ten years experience in raising chickens. Knight, a commercial photographer, was the business half of the team. Rachels was the working half of the team. Rachels and Knight named their farm the "Riverside Poultry Farm." Interestingly, the farm was three miles from the river. It was originally one and a half miles from Dublin. Today their farm is located in the southwestern section of the city. It encompassed most of lands between Vernon and Belmont Streets and Erin Office Park and Bellevue Road.
Rachels began his operation on his sixty acre farm in 1920 with five hundred white leghorns in his back yard. Eventually the chickens were allowed to roam and forage over a ten acre range. Rachels was confident that his methods of raising chickens would be successful. Farmers from all over were thrilled with the profits from Rachel's chicks. J.C. Yopp bought fifty two-month old chicks and within five months turned a profit of six hundred percent. Mr. Rachels cautioned the inexperienced and back yard chicken farmers to start out small with a few day old chicks. An incubator was an absolute necessity. In those days nearly every rural and many city homes had their own chicken coops. The keys to a successful chicken operation were using of only pure bred chickens and growing one's own feed.
Within two and a half years, the operation began to take off. Successful operations like this one were few and far between. The trade area encompassed nearly a hundred thousand persons. Two hundred Rhode Island Reds were added to the flock. Rachels and Knight installed a series of incubators which allowed fresh chicks to be hatched on a weekly basis. The total capacity of the incubators was fifty-six hundred. These day old chicks, the best buy for the money, sold by the thousands - especially in the Spring. So many chicks were sold that Rachels found his own stock depleted at times. Rachels always picked the choice eggs and chicks to use for his own stock. Experience and detailed record keeping was essential in maintaining the right stock. Many of the best eggs were picked out and set aside for restaurants, hotels, and picky buyers. The high quality of the eggs brought premium prices over the average yard egg. The best cockerels were selected and fattened up to produce number one fryers.
Rachels used many innovative methods for breeding his chickens. Rachels had observed that breeding old roosters with old hens produced weak chicks. The same result occurred when young roosters and young hens were bred. The combination of young roosters and old hens or old roosters and young hens produced chicks with just the right vitality. Before a young hen, or pullet, could become part of the regular stock of layers, she was put to rigorous tests to determine her ability to lay eggs.
Out in the fields Rachels constructed a long line of breeding houses. These houses were designed to accommodate the chickens during the hot summer months. One side of the houses was completely open and the other closed to protect against the cold winds of winter. In the center of the building was a two- story storage building for feed. The chickens were fed a diet of oats and buttermilk mash. The oats were grown on the farm and were fed fresh to the chickens most of the year round. Local dairy farmers were unable to supply the farm with enough buttermilk, which had to be purchased in bulk and stored in barrels.
In 1922, the Riverside Farm produced over thirty three thousand chicks, which had been raised after leaving the breeder houses. That many and more were sold as day old chicks to amateur and back yard farmers in this area. Rachel's success was so impressive that N.G. Bartlett, former Dublin Chamber of Commerce director, wrote an article in the "East Carolinian", a newspaper of agriculture and commerce. Rachels was proud of the fact that he kept his operation big enough to pay its way and support his family. At the same time, he was also proud that he kept it small enough for him and a few hands to manage.
Knight and Rachels had a simple four-step plan for a successful poultry farm. First, one had to have the best pure bred poultry. Second, the operator needed enough land for the chickens to roam, preferably in an peach orchard. The peaches could also supplement the income and the chickens would fertilize the trees. Third, there must be farm land to grow the oats and grains for chicken feed. The last step was the establishment of a small dairy operation to supply the buttermilk.
Julian Rachels operated his chicken farm for nearly five decades. Rachels and his wife moved to the farm and built a home in the early 1950s. The operation was scaled back and the farm was subdivided into building lots which were near the County and VA hospitals. Julian Rachels, Sr. died on Independence Day in 1986. Several years ago the remaining farm buildings were razed and nearly all evidence of the farm is gone. If you want to see where the farm was, go out Bellevue Road and turn left on Vernon Street. Turn right on Kings Drive and go to the spot on the left where you see a small grove of bamboo. The buildings were just beyond the grove behind the house of Clay Lord.
THE MAGIC OF THE SHAMROCK BOWL
Do you remember the magic of 1962? Today it almost seems like a dream. Teenagers had a carefree life, except when they were thinking about a date on Saturday night, getting enough gas money to "Scratch the Patch", or how they were going to pass Mrs. Powell's English test. The conflict half way around the world was just beginning to erupt. The "Lads from Liverpool" were planning their British invasion. Uncle Jed and the Clampett family were moving to Beverly Hills. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a month away.
Outsiders said it couldn't be done. “There's too much factionalism in Dublin." There had been a bitter dispute over whether or not to build a county hospital. Laurens Countians had just gone through two heated election campaigns for Sheriff and Judge. Any successful building project needs a leader and many more loyal supporters. Don Lamb, a Dublin businessman, shook off all the doubts. The origin of the project went back to 1959 and 1960 when the Irish of Dublin High School won two consecutive state football championships. Battle Field, which had been around about twenty years, was totally inadequate for the needs of the team - and especially the fans. The bleachers had no aisles and once you got to your seat - if you could find one - you had to stay. People stood along the rails near the gym and on top of the cars parked on Moore Street to watch the Irish play. On some nights as many as six thousand fans would line the edges of the field.
On October 16, 1961, Don Lamb was named permanent chairman of the board of directors of the Dublin Playground Association. The founders of the association also included Dr. John Bell, Dr. Fred Coleman, Newton Morris, C.U. Smith, Ed Hall, W.E. Lovett, Gene Scarborough, Bush Perry, Fred Middlebrooks, Leonard Swida, Carl Mikall, Judge Harold E. Ward, L.D. Woods, Tom Bruce, McGrath Keen, Herschel Salter, Tommy Patterson, W.C. Brown, T.A. Curry, Jr., Carlus Gay, James F. Nelson, C.B. Chafin, Henry Tharpe, Spec Hall, J. Felton Pierce, Darrell Robinson, and Supt. S.R. Lawrence. Their mission was to locate a site and to construct a football stadium. Co-captains Tal Fuqua and Jimmy Hilburn, Coaches Minton Williams and Travis Davis, along with Touchdown Club president Alfred Eubanks were there with the other players, cheerleaders, and dozens of fans as the first grading began on Halloween of 1961.
The fund raising drive began three days later. The original goal was $50,000. The final cost would be a little over $87,000. Lamb and his board of directors came up with an ingenious plan to raise the money. Each donor would be not be asked to give cash, but to sign a promissory note, payable in thirty six installments. Real estate developer Thomas Curry remarked "It was the only time in my life that I borrowed money to give it away." Within a week, nearly sixteen thousand dollars had been pledged. The notes were discounted by the local banks to provide the construction funds.
The new stadium, which was still unnamed, was designed by Spitler and Yates to seat 8,200 people - with room for future expansion. There would be a modern field house, better restroom facilities, improved lighting, and better refreshment stands. The architects took advantage of the terrain and designed the stadium in a natural bowl shape which was opened on the north end of the field. The city and county lent some of their equipment to grade the site and to build an access road to the stadium and one from the stadium which later became Brookwood Drive. Sgt. Ben Snipes planted the grass. Grady Wright donated his services as the landscaper. Willie Wilkes helped with grading. Spec Hall groomed the field and planted the slopes. Troy Manning lent his irrigation equipment to pump water out of the creek. Ben Hall of Dublin Construction, R.T. Grier of Durden Electric, A. E. Kimball of Harpe Plumbing, and Ed Taylor of Builders Concrete gave up their profits on the job. Their were dozens of others who lent a hand.
An open house was held on held on August 24. Twenty six hundred people showed up to tour the field, meet the players, and listen to a concert by the Dixie Irish Band. There was still $24,000 which still needed to be raised. Lamb invited all comers to sign notes which could be paid back at five, ten, or fifteen dollars a month.
Opening night was set for September 21st. The Irish were 3 and 0. By opening night, a little less than sixteen thousand dollars was needed the goal. That Friday was officially designated as "Fill the Stadium Night." The opponents were the Crisp County Rebels. The chain grocery stores agreed to close a half hour early. In the pre-game ceremonies, Sharon Lamb, a cheerleader and daughter of Don and Mildred Lamb, christened the stadium as she led the unveiling of the shamrock at the southern end of the field. The Irish good luck symbol was originally fashioned out of neatly arranged Liriope plants. The name for the new stadium was obvious - The Shamrock Bowl. At least five thousand loyal fans passed through the gates. Crisp County, playing in a higher class, fought back to tie the game which ended with the score of 13 to 13. The Irish finished the season 7-2-1. Charles Faulk was an All-State tackle.
The Shamrock Bowl is now filled with thirty five years of memories. There was another state championship in 1963 and several great seasons after then. The halftime fans of the 60s were the treated to the music of one of the finest high school bands ever under the direction of John Hambrick and Jim Willoughby. Sylvester, our family beagle, still holds the record for a 120 yard touchdown run as he avoided capture by several winded chasers. In 1974, Jeffrey Sims set a state record for return yardage on two consecutive plays when he returned a kickoff 90 plus yards which followed a 90 yard plus interception return on the last play of the last game. In 1976, an obscure freshman was playing in his first game away from home. Not many knew the name of the back who lost four yards on two carries. The young man never looked back and probably never had another negative yard game. He of course was Heisman trophy winner and the all time great, Herschel Walker.
One Friday night this Fall, when the air is cool and the moon is full, grab your seat cushion and head on out to the Shamrock Bowl. Close your eyes, smell the popcorn and the grass slowly turning brown, and remember the magic of '62 when thousands of Dubliners came together and realized their dream of building one of the finest high school athletic fields in our state. Sources: History of the Shamrock Bowl, by Don Lamb (Dublin-Laurens Museum).
SOPERTON WAS BOOMING IN 1919
Soperton, Georgia in Treutlen County was incorporated on December 17, 1902. The new railroad town was named for A.D. Soper, who was a prominent stockholder of the Illinois company which owned the Macon, Dublin, and Savannah Railroad. That named sounded better than the original name of Smut. The post office at Smut, Georgia was established on December 10, 1894 with Flora Gillis as postmistress. Soperton was originally a part of Montgomery County. Several attempts were made to bring it into the new county of James, which was to be centered around Adrian. On August 21, 1917, Soperton was named as the county seat of the new county of Treutlen. During its infancy, six Treutlen County men lost their lives in 1918 during the first World War. They were Angus Coleman, Coley M. Davis, Frank Fowler, Marvin Marion Gillis, George Harrison, and Charles Ware. Folks were still bragging on Joseph Willis, who was cited for gallantry in action at the Battle of Argone. Jim Gay, an Adrian boy, with ties to Soperton, made the news when as a member of the 11th Infantry, he captured 192 German soldiers all by himself. The first county officers were commissioned on December 9, 1918. They were M.B. Ware, Sheriff; Neil L. Gillis, Ordinary; J.F. Mullis, Clerk of Court; J.E. Thorpe, Tax Receiver; W.M. Courson, Tax Collector; J.B. Dukes, Surveyor; A. Gillis, Treasurer; and B.X. Watkins, Coroner. Soperton was on the verge of a boom.
The people of Soperton had their own Top 10 list of what they wanted for their town. The list included a hotel, brass band, chamber of commerce, improvement club, water and sewerage, clean streets, fire engines, more houses for rent, less loafing, and lots of religion. Prof. F.J. Cutter tried all year to establish a brass band. By the end of the year he succeeded. Members of the band were E.M. Sweat, Matthew Meeks, J.D. Durden, Albert Rowe, Alton Rowe, Bernice Chivers, Alton Johnson, Julian Wade, Homer Mishoe, Ernie Meeks, Vel Meeks, Herbert Sumner, Otis Wade, H.M. Flanders, D.R. Jackson, H.L. Wilcox, C.E. Gillis, W.W. Sammons, James Davis, W.C. Barwick, Depew Williams, John D. Durden, Horace Flanders, Jr., James Kennedy, and Omas Evans.
More and more businesses were building and opening in Soperton. James Fowler moved his naval stores business to town. A two-story brick jail was built. The Methodist church was remodeled. The Holmes brick store building was erected. The People's Bank of Soperton built a two story building at the corner of 2nd and Main Streets. W. F. Manning built a large house.
The leading merchants were H.V. Daley Dry Goods, A. Estroff, Gen. Mdse., Fisher and Collins Ford, Fisher and Lowery Buggies, Gills and Hall Loan Company, Hall Insurance Company, J.F. Mullis Grocery, Peoples Drug Store (E.E. Cox, Pharmacist), Red Front Variety Store, Soperton Barber Shop (B.F. and J.E. Stokes), Soperton Brick Company, Soperton Guano Company, Soperton Hardware Company, Soperton Mattress Factory, Soperton Pharmacy, Soperton Variety Store (C.C. Simmons and D.H. Howard), A.N. Smith Contractor, C.A. Sumner Farm Equipment Company, J.D. Thigpen, Gen. Mdse., W.L. Thigpen Gen. Mdse. and Treutlen Steam Press Company. The town was so busy that the City passed an ordinance banning goods being sold on the sidewalks and sweeping trash out into the streets.
The professionals of Soperton in 1919 were John D. Durden, Attorney; Charles W. McNally, Dentist; C.C. Robinson, Optometrist and Jeweler; J.H. Sumner and W.W. Sammons, Funeral Directors; J.C. Williams, Physician; and W.J. Wallace, Attorney. At Soperton High School the faculty consisted of Principal L.R. Towson, Edith Johnson, Macie Charmichael, Ethel Pritchett, Mel G. Claxton, and Minnie McWhorter. Sara Hinton was the music teacher. R.E. Ward was the superintendent.
Most of the business in town revolved around the Bank of Soperton. The officers of the bank were N.L. Gillis, Sr., President; J.E. Hall, Vice President and Cashier; J.B. O'Connor, Vice President; and I.H. Hall, Jr., Assistant Cashier.
The coming of the railroad to Soperton allowed Treutlen County farmers to send their crops and livestock to market. The primary agricultural products of Treutlen County were naval stores and hogs. Many a Treutlen Countian was proud of his hogs. J.E. Hall's Hampshire Farm was one of the best around. The farm won twelve blue ribbons at the 12th District Fair held in Dublin. Judge I.H. Hall showed off his 450 pound hog to the people of Soperton.
Many big events took place in that rookie year. Future Gov. Clifford Walker spoke to a large crowd at the graduation exercises of Soperton High School. Sumner and Sammons bought their first auto hearse. Dr. J.C. Williams built the first public swimming pool. The fifty foot by eighty foot pool was fed by a spring at the home of Dr. Williams. Rev. and Mrs. M.M. Flanders celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The Kadell-Kritchfield Show with its twenty-two piece orchestra put on a week of shows at the show grounds just beyond the Ford Place. Prof. J.F. Cutter opened the Dixie Playhouse, the first movie theater, on Christmas Eve afternoon. The premiere film was "Adventures of the Wrong Santa Claus." Admission was ten and thirteen cents for afternoon shows and twenty and twenty three cents for night shows, war tax not included. The Soperton boys put together a baseball team. With Gillis on the mound and Evans behind the plate, the Soperton boys defeated the Adrian team led by Griffith and Kea in a squeaker, seven to six.
The crowning event of 1919 began on December 15th with the construction on the new courthouse. I.P. Crutchfield Construction Company completed the courthouse in 1920 at a cost of $75,000. The two story traditional building was designed by architect J.J. Baldwin. Baldwin copied the exterior design for the Evans County Courthouse which was built in 1923. Baldwin used a similar design for the Candler County Courthouse in 1921. Baldwin designed seven courthouses in all, the others being in Atkinson, Bacon, Barrow, and Liberty counties. All of his designs featured fronts with four columns. The original courthouse still stands today, retaining all the charm of an old country Georgia courthouse.
The Wiregrass Poet
Ernest Camp was born in Swainsboro, Georgia in the early years of the 1880s. As a 12 year old, Ernest entered a Swainsboro printing office. At 16 years of age he began publishing "The Swainsboro News". Soon he began to work for the rival paper, "The Forest Blade." Camp began writing poetry at an early age. His works were published in Swainsboro and Adrian newspapers. Camp moved to Dublin in 1903 where he assumed the duties as editor of "The Dublin Times". Ernest Camp was a prolific poet, composing at least one poem every day, the compilation of which he called "Learned in Laurens". Ernest was soon given the name of "The Wiregrass Poet." He left Dublin for a short stint with "The Brunswick Journal." On January 1, 1906 Camp settled down in Monroe, Georgia taking the position of editor of "The Walton Tribune." He was only twenty five years old and made only $50.00 a month.
After one year Ernest Camp, bought all of the "Tribune's" stock and became the sole owner of the paper. Camp served two terms as president of the Georgia Press Association from 1925 to 1927. He was always interested in politics, especially those of the Democratic party of Georgia. He never held a political office. In 1912 he attended the Democratic national convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson. He returned to the convention twenty years later as one of the delegates who nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1928 and again in 1936, he served as an elector to the Electoral College. Camp was actively involved in Georgian Oscar Underwood's candidacy for President in 1924.
Ernest Camp and Irene Natalie Sanders were married in Dublin in 1905. Mrs. Camp's father, James Barnes Sanders, was a well respected attorney, mayor, and school teacher in Dublin. Her mother, Alice Ramsay, was a daughter of Col. Whiteford S. Ramsay, the most beloved man in Dublin during the latter half of the 19th century. Col. Ramsay served as minister of the First Baptist Church for over two decades and in 1876 founded the current day Laurens County and Dublin City school systems. Irene Camp died in 1932.
Ernest Camp was also known as the "October Poet." He was born and died in that month. His three published works from the presses in Monroe were: "Autumn Odes" (1923), "Autumn Anthems" (1938), and "Sojourns in Song." (1940). Camp died on October 22, 1957. Walter S. Robison eulogized Camp by saying "Ernest could hear voices. He read sermons in stones, books in the running brooks. I only wish I could read his description of the beauties of Heaven! In the glowing words of Sidney Lanier, 'His song was but a living aloud, his work a singing with his hand.' "
One of Camp's favorites subjects was love or the loss of love. He entitled this poem:
A BUCKHORN FAREWELL
Goodbye Miss Mary Johnson,
My love for you has fled.
You pinched me in the stummick
and you cracked me on the head.
You throwed me down the stair steps.
You kicked me out the door.
And now I think I've reason
For feeling mighty sore!
Goodbye, Miss Mary Johnson,
I loved you very strong,
And though my heart is breaking
I'll have to move along.
You called me Simple Simon
And you called me ugly Dan,
With a shotgun at your elbow
And a broomstick in your hand!
Camp seemed to have an attraction to goings on in the Buckhorn Community. This is one his more humorous looks at farm life in the Buckhorn community.
A BUCKHORN NOTE
'Taters in the 'tater patch (Rilly, go
Breeches holy all around (Mary, go to
Fences down an' cattle out (Johnny, go
Young'uns cryin' "grub is out" (Sally,
go a frailin)
Cotton waitin' in the fiel' (Sammy go
Syrup drippin' from the keg (Roger go
Prices off an' money short (Henry, cuss,
Clouds aire dark - a storm is on (Jenny,
go a to prayin')
GEORGE WASHINGTON NEVER SLEPT HERE,
BUT OLD DIZ DID
Many big city folks would consider Dublin a small town. Over the history of our town many well known people have passed through our community. Until the completion of I-16, nearly every auto traveler going to Savannah from Macon, Columbus, or Atlanta passed through Dublin. There's no telling who stopped here on their travels through our state. The following is a documented list of one hundred visitors to Dublin who have slept, eaten, played, spoken, or performed in our town. Let me know if you know of others.
Country Music personalities:
T. Graham Brown
Pee Wee King
Popular Music personalities:
The Ink Spots
Pres. Jimmy Carter
Pres. Jefferson Davis, C.S.A.
Vice Pres. J.C. Breckenridge
Vice Pres. Alexander Stephens, C.S.A.
Sec. William Jennings Bryan
Sen. Strom Thurmond
Sen. Robert Byrd
Speaker Champe Clarke
Secretary Dean Rusk
Sen. Herman Talmadge
Sen. George M. Troup
Sen. Richard B. Russell
Sen. Sam Nunn
Sen. Thomas E. Watson
Cong. Carl Vinson
Amb. Andrew Young
Baseball Stars: (Hall of Fame*)
Home Run Baker*
Sugar Ray Robinson
Kathy Witworth, golfer
Carol Mann, golfer
Gen. Robert L. Scott
Gen. John B. Gordon, C.S.A.
Sgt. Alvin York
TV and Movie Stars:
George "Goober" Lindsey
Dawn "Mary Ann" Wells
Amanda "Miss Kitty" Blake
Harold Russell, Oscar winner
Eileen "Lisa" Fulton
Dr. Martin Luther King
Rev. Jesse Jackson
Dr. Joyce Brothers
Col. Harlan Sanders
Robert Wardlaw, the world's tallest
Frederick Cook, artic explorer
THE STORY OF MORRIS DAWSON, MERCHANT
During the latter half of the 19th and the first quarter of the 20th century, merchants from Europe came to Central Georgia. With the coming of the railroads, new markets for dry goods and general merchandise were opening up. Most of the these merchants were of the Jewish faith. One of these merchants who came to this area was Morris Dawson.
Morris Dawson was born in Posen, Prussia on April 15, 1840. As a young man, he came to America and eventually made his way to Cedar Hill. Cedar Hill was a small community which grew up around Boiling Springs Methodist Church in eastern Laurens County. When he first came to this country, his language skills made sales difficult, especially when he was peddling his wares out in the country, where many of the people couldn't read or write. Most of the farmers had little possessions and little or no money to buy new ones.
One fine fall morning, this teenage peddler came into a home and dumped his possessions out on a table for a young boy to see. The boy's eyes immediately focused on a harmonica. Dawson gave the boy the only musical instrument that any of the family had ever seen. Several months passed. The boy would walk down the road playing his harmonica, hoping to get a glance of the stranger. On a winter Sunday morning, two men on horseback with two other men walking in front of them were spotted coming down the road. The boy's uncle, the local constable, had arrested the two men for peddling without a license. Just as the peddlers were about to be taken off to jail the boy came up leading his friends and playing on the old harmonica. He ran to Dawson and threw his arms around him. The constable refused his brother's pleas to let Dawson go. In a few moments the boy's father produced a shotgun saying " Liberty for the Jew, or death to you!" The peddlers were released. Bystanders rejoiced.
Morris Dawson, working under the firm name of John A. Phillips and Company opened a store at the Cedar Hill Post Office. His partners were Wessalosky and Bashinski. War broke out in April of 1861. Dawson enlisted in Company E of the 5th Georgia State Troops on October 10, 1861. Two days later, he was elected 2nd Lieutenant of the Company. After six months of service, Lt. Dawson mustered out of the army. He re-enlisted in the Confederate Army and joined Co. A of the 32nd Georgia Infantry. The company was captained by his boss, Capt. John A. Phillips. The company was composed of men who lived along the old Savannah Road south of the future communities of Scott and Adrian. Dawson, a favorite of the local men, was elected Jr. 2nd Lieutenant. When a vacancy occurred in the office of 1st Lieutenant, Dawson was not appointed to fill it, much to the dismay of his fellow soldiers. Half the company took a leave of absence and went home in protest. Dawson went back home and induced the men to return with him.
The company was assigned to the Georgia-South Carolina theater of the war. In July of 1863, Federal forces launched an attack on Battery Wagner, Morris Island, South Carolina. Lt. Dawson was temporarily breveted to Captain. Capt. Dawson was the only officer who could be persuaded to go outside of the fort with a single company. The company remained outside of the protection of the fort after darkness came. The password for re-entry was "here is your mule." When Dawson's company returned to the lines, Dawson appeared to have forgotten the password. Several volleys of grape and canister shot were thrown upon Dawson's men. Dawson jumped upon the parapet and shouted "By damn, here is yer mule!" It was at Battery Wagner where Col. Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts U.S. Colored Troops was killed in a bayonet fight, possibly by one of Dawson's troops.
President Abraham Lincoln ordered the Federal occupation of Florida in time to allow the state to be represented at the Republican Convention of 1864. On February 20, 1864, Federal forces attacked at Ocean Pond. The battle raged back and forth. When it was over Federal casualties outnumbered the Confederates by two to one. One of those was Capt. Dawson who was struck by a mini ball. The ball passed through Dawson's body. Undaunted by the blood running down in his shoes, Lt. Dawson led the company in a hot and fierce fight. Dawson and his company, under the command of Gen. Joseph Johnston, surrendered on April 26, 1865 at Greensboro, North Carolina.
Dawson, nearly penniless, returned home and went back into business. His first goods were placed in a bedroom of Judge McLemore's house. After a short time, Dawson purchased an old store building, which he quickly renovated. Dawson, in partnership with John L. McLemore, one of the privates in his company, opened what was said to have been the only country store between Macon and Savannah. Times were bad. Most folks had no money. Dawson quickly built a reputation as a benevolent and generous man, giving food and clothes to those in true need. Dawson, at the age of 34, married Lotta Marcus, who was also born in Prussia.
Dawson's acts of kindness were repaid in 1882 when the people of Emanuel County elected him to represent them in the state legislature. Dawson was described as "wise, sagacious, and never harboring a prejudice against anyone.” He was always as gentle as a child and forgiving, never forgetting the little "tow headed" boy who saved him from jail. In his old home on the old Dublin road south of Adrian, there hung over the fireplace what appeared to be a painting of a Prussian ruler. Even when tenants were occupying the home, the picture was never disturbed. Morris Dawson died in Atlanta on August 24, 1896 at a relatively young age. He never lived to see the achievements of his grandchildren. One of those grandchildren was Dawson Kea, who practiced law in Dublin for nearly sixty years - longer than anyone else in the history of our county. Morris Dawson was representative of a long gone era of Jewish merchants who provided their communities with a vast variety of goods as well as numerous deeds of public service.
THE NIKE MISSILE BASE IN TWIGGS COUNTY
We were scared. The threat of Russian attack on our country was real - underline real. The Cold War was never more cold than it was in 1960. Sitting right near the center of Middle Georgia was the Air Force base at Warner Robins, which would have been a prime objective of an attack on the southeastern United States. Local governments established Civil Defense departments in case of a land war or nuclear attack. It was the days when a Nike was a missile, and not an athletic shoe.
The Air Force set up a defense system around Warner Robins. One early warning base was established near Byron and the other five miles from Jeffersonville. The eastern base was built in 1960 in Twiggs County just off Highway 96 about a quarter mile northeast of its intersection with I - 16 at Exit 8. The mission of the bases was to detect an incoming enemy missile or plane and to shoot it down with their batteries of Nike missiles.
Col. T.C. Grice was the 4th Missile Batallion Commander in charge of the Byron and Jeffersonville bases. Capt. Nelson G. Gagnon was in command of Battery A at Jeffersonville. Lt. Ludwig Wegemann was assigned as the executive officer. SFC Lucian Muniz was in charge of the mess hall. The base was staffed with five commissioned officers, four warrant officers, and thirty one enlisted men, all of whom were specially trained for their duties. Capt. Gagnon estimated that it cost $100,000 per man to train the men at the base. The unit was attached to the 61st U.S. Artillery which had its beginning in 1808 and fought in every war since then.
Army engineers transformed an abandoned Twiggs County cotton field into a state of the art missile battery. Heavy wire fences were placed around the installation. Vicious guard dogs and sentry were placed at strategic locations around the perimeter. Three radar towers were built. The first two determined the range and direction of the incoming target, while the third synchronized the flight of the missile toward the target. Base officials estimated that it would take about fifteen minutes to fire the missile after learning of the target's approach.
The Nike missile had an effective range of seventy five miles with a maximum altitude of twenty five miles. Six large launching pads, with eighteen inches of concrete, were constructed to house the missiles. They were stored in the horizontal position, two to a pad. Before firing, the missiles were hydraulically lifted into the vertical position. Final electrical checks would be made and the crew would retire to the concrete and earthen bunkers. The bunkers were designed to protect the crews from the tremendous heat generated as the missiles rose into the air. The Nike was chosen for the base because of its low cost. The missile was guided by remote control and did not carry expensive instruments on board. The missiles were not stored in underground silos because they were constructed to protect the interior parts from the extreme temperatures of Georgia summers.
Each missile pad was controlled from trailers located nearby. In the event of an attack, new missiles could be readied for launch with no adjustments to the controls. The base was not responsible for detection of an incoming enemy plane or missile. The Air Force would make the detection and alert the base. A single invading plane was never to be targeted as the Air Force could stop one plane with air to air missiles.
The base remained on yellow alert at all times. Remember, the threat was real. Once instructed by the regional command in South Carolina of an invasion, the base would go on red alert. Then the three radar towers would be activated and the incoming plane would be targeted. The order to fire would come from the President or the higher-ups in the Pentagon. The final determination would come from the base commander after an evaluation of the totality of the circumstances.
The main street of the base was known as Battalion Street. In this area, known as Area 1, were the administrative buildings, officers barracks, non-commissioned officers barracks, the mess hall, headquarters facilities, craft shop, and the supply rooms. The only thing to remind the soldiers that this was an military facility was the K.P. duty. The rooms were furnished with pictures and the tables were decorated with tablecloths, napkin holders, and flower arrangements. The chairs were painted red and carried the colors of the artillery. Despite the "homey" atmosphere, military discipline and decorum were followed at all times. Shoes had to be highly shined and placed under the beds. Some of the women in Twiggs County volunteered their time to sew on buttons for the men, make curtains and do other little jobs to make the facility a nice place to live in.
The facility was totally self contained. Housed in a building on base , three generators were on standby in case of a commercial power failure. The Oconee Electric Membership Corporation helped in coordinating the power supply to the base. There were storage rooms filled with food and supplies.
The people of Twiggs County welcomed the soldiers with open arms. The children were sent to the county schools and the families quickly became a part of the community. At the dedication ceremonies on December 6, 1961, County Attorney James Maddox presented a plaque on behalf of the people of Twiggs County to the Nike Base showing their gratitude and appreciation to the men at the base.
As anti-missile defense systems became more sophisticated, the Nike missile became somewhat obsolete. After a few years the base was abandoned by the Army. The property was eventually owned by the Twiggs County Board of Education. Today, the Nikes are gone. The gates are padlocked. Hopefully, we will never see the site of missiles in our back yard, but for several years all of us took comfort in the fact that the Army was there, protecting us from a foreign attack.
THE MASSACRE AT CARR'S BLUFF
October 28, 1997 marks the 202nd anniversary of one of the darkest moments in Laurens County. The settlers of the frontier along the Oconee had been terrorized by Indian raiding parties for nearly a decade. The events leading up to that fateful day began in 1783, when the government of Georgia began granting new lands between the Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers. Relations grew worse during the 1880's as more and more settlers moved into the area, especially the prized fertile lowlands along the river.
Many of the conflicts along the lower Oconee River centered around Carr's Bluff on the eastern banks of the Oconee River in north central Laurens County. Carr's Bluff is relatively small in comparison with higher bluffs up river. It's importance was derived from its location. The bluff is located at the point where the Lower Uchee Trail crossed the Oconee River. The trail was used by Indians in their travels between the Augusta area and lower portions of Georgia and Alabama. The trail seems to have been used throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and may have been in use long before then. According to some authorities, it was the path taken by the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, while on his expedition in May of 1540.
In 1792, the clouds of war once again came into this area. While negotiations were pending at Rock Landing, attacks continued along the eastern banks of the Oconee. Indian agent Seagrove went from village to village asking for the return of stolen animals. In July, Captain Benjamin Harrison had six horses stolen from him by Uchee Indians. Harrison lived at Carr's Bluff, across from the present day Country Club. Settlers in what would become eastern Laurens County stepped up their defenses. An old Indian trail leading along the eastern edge of the river was used for border patrols. This may have been the Milledgeville-Darien Road. The settlers petitioned the Georgia governor for ammunition and forts. The State built an outpost called Fort Telfair at Carr's Bluff on the Oconee River in 1793. The people built their own forts arming their families and even their slaves. On April 18, 1793, the Indians raided the home of William Pugh near Carr's Bluff. Pugh was the son of Col. Francis Pugh for whom Pugh's Creek in eastern Laurens County is named. Pugh was killed and scalped in the attack. Four horses were taken and one slave was captured. The situation eased when the Oconee's waters rose, creating a natural barrier to an attack.
In the summer of 1793, armies were being raised all over Georgia to protect against further raids. Benjamin Harrison, a resident of the Carr's Bluff area, bore the brunt of these constant attacks of horse taking and killing of livestock. Captain Benjamin Harrison simply hated Indians. Harrison once said "that there should never be a peace with the Indians whilst his name was Ben Harrison for he was able to raise men enough to kill half the Indians that might come to any treaty." Benjamin Harrison is said to have been as a frontier character with a patch over an eye and piece of his nose missing. Harrison, a captain of the local militia, called his men together for a mission to retrieve some of his stolen horses. The company moved along the Lower Uchee Trail until they reached the home of the Uchee King who promised him that the horses would be returned. At another time, Harrison's men overtook a group of Indians taking three of their guns. Timothy Barnard, the husband of a Uchee woman, convinced Harrison to return the guns and the matter was temporarily resolved.
By October of 1793, Harrison's ire had once again been raised by the Indians. Captain Harrison's company and other companies under the command of Major Brenton set out from Carr's Bluff in defiance of General Jared Irwin. Their destination was a Chehaw village on the Flint River. Their objective was to capture any runaway slaves and stolen property. They found the village defended by sixteen males and four slaves. The rest of the men were in Florida hunting for game. A battle ensued with two Georgians and three Indians being killed.
In early May of 1794, Indian agent Seagrove invited the Lower Creeks and Uchees to return to their hunting grounds along the Oconee River while treaty negotiations continued. That same month Georgia's war hero, General Elijah Clarke, was about to embark upon an attack on the Spanish at St. Augustine. Clarke and his men were supported by the French government. The expedition left from the upper Oconee area down an old Indian trail along the western side of the Oconee River. The men camped at Carr's Bluff on their route to Florida. Before he could invade, Clarke was convinced by the federal government to call off the attack.
On October 28, 1795, an event occurred in Laurens County which nearly plunged Georgia and the United States into a war with the Creek Nation. A small group of Indians had crossed the Oconee River and were visiting friends in a home near Carr's Bluff. Benjamin Harrison, along with Mr. Vessels and their men, attacked the Indians, killing seventeen of them. The dead, which included five Creek and twelve Uchee, were thrown into the river. The next morning the Uchee rode along the Uchee Trail leading to the bluff. They planned a retaliatory strike at dawn. The Uchee's surrounded Harrison's home. To their dismay Capt. Harrison was gone. They moved to east attacking Bush's Fort. Bush was a stepbrother of future General David Blackshear and lived in the area south of Ben Hall Lake along the newly created Washington/ Montgomery County line. They captured the fort and killed one man. The horses were taken and the cattle were killed.
The Chiefs protested the killings to the Georgia government. The legislature passed a resolution regretting the incident. Harrison and his men were arrested for murder, but were never tried.
OLD TIMES WERE NOT FORGOTTEN
AT FROG LEVEL PLANTATION
Rita Dickens loved to listen to her daddy talk about the old times on the Blackshear place in eastern Laurens County known as the Frog Level Plantation. She remembered those stories and put them down in a book which she titled "Marse Ned."
In the latter years of the 18th century, the choice lands in the Buckeye District were along the Oconee River and Big Creek. The Blackshear family acquired large holdings along both. Edward Jefferson Blackshear, son of the venerable Gen. David Blackshear, established his eleven hundred acre plantation home just above the intersection of Big and Buckeye Creeks. Blackshear named the plantation "Frog Level", undoubtedly due to an abundance of frogs along the creek banks.
E.J. Blackshear brought his wife Mary Jane from Florida back to Frog Level. It was there where their three children were born and grew up. Mary Jane died when Ned was born. Ned was nursed by a Marthy, a slave woman, who had lost her child in still birth a few days before. Their grandmother Pittman made annual visits to Frog Level to help their father. She had to take a boat to Columbus and then a train to Oconee, Georgia. From there, the Blackshear coachmen took her down to Frog Level.
Ned was raised by his grandmother during her visits, but mostly by Hannah and Reuben, two slaves to whom Ned had a special attachment. Yes, the slaves were treated differently. But Ned loved them like they were his own family. Ned idolized "Uncle" Reuben and wanted to be just like him. Ned loved to sit out on the veranda and listen to the old Negro spirituals. He tried to play them on his father's old violin. One day, Grandma bargained with a German peddler-musician to teach Ned how to play the violin in exchange for six month’s room and board. The professor asked Ned if he knew what a note was. Ned proudly answered " Yes sir, Pa sent a note by me yesterday. "Humph" the professor grunted, "Do you know what a key is?" "Yes sir, I know the old smoke house key." The professor continued, determined to stay in his new home, "Do you know what a chord is?" "Yes sir, I helped stack all those chords of wood in the back yard." The music lesson ended and the dazed professor packed in bags and left in defeat. Eventually, Ned became a pretty fair violin player.
Grandma gave frequent week-end parties for young Mary. Friends and kin folks came from all over for two days of food, music, and dancing. Mary was becoming a beautiful young lady. It was around this time that Grandma began receiving letters from her son John Pittman, who was a student at the University of Virginia. It was October of 1860. Little did John know what was in store for him in the coming months.
The Blackshears attended church once at month at Boiling Springs Methodist Church, a few miles to the east. The Church was the religious, social, and eventually the military center of the community. For days before "Church Sunday," the plantation kitchens were busy with preparations for a dinner on the grounds. The carriage drivers and attendants worshiped in the Church from the gallery. After the preaching, a lavish dinner was held. The boys swung in the trees and joggled on the joggling board. Ned noticed Mary slipping off to the spring with Cince Guyton. Grandma saved some boiled custard which she brought home and gave to a sick and aging slave, "Aunt Dicey." Grandma stayed with "Aunt Dicey" up to the time of her death, taking care of her every need.
The terrible war began. Cince went off to fight the Yankees and became a Lt. Colonel. "Uncle Reuben" was scared. He wanted his freedom but feared life on his own. John's letters kept coming. Mary was worried about Cince. In the fall of 1862 she entered Wesleyan Female College in Macon. John left college and joined the army. Within three months, the teenager was lying dead on the battlefield at Manassas, Virginia.
Ned and his Pa went to Macon and brought Mary home. Grandma arranged a party. Col. Guyton took leave from his regiment in Atlanta to come home and marry his sweetheart in the parlor at Frog Level. The Colonel went back to the war. Thankfully, he survived and came back to live with Mary at Frog Level to help on the place since Pa was going blind. Ned went to Florida to live with Grandma. He returned to Dublin, but stayed a short while until he got a chance to open a livery back in Florida. Ned married Belle Milton, granddaughter of Florida's Civil War governor, John Milton. Her sister, Susie, married William Atkinson, a two term governor of Georgia. Their son, William, Jr., was Chief Justice of Georgia's Supreme Court. On the night of their marriage, the entire business district of Marianna burned. Ned was quoted as saying "I'm probably the only man ever to spend his wedding night fighting fires."
Ned and Belle moved back to Dublin. Ned sang in the Methodist Church. Belle was one of the first members of Christ Episcopal Church, which Ned later joined. Ned went into the insurance business. Belle led the effort to erect the Confederate monument in Dublin. Belle passed away and after being married to Ned for more than 50 years. As Ned realized his time was coming, he regretted not ever answering the call to preach. His daughter Rita comforted him, telling him that his whole life had been his sermon. One night Ned went to bed - thinking of his dear Belle. As his life slipped away he saw Belle coming to see him, amidst the sounds of the old Negro spirituals and visions of Grandma and Uncle Reuben sitting on the porch at old Frog Level.
You can reach Frog Level by traveling east along Highway 319 from East Dublin. Turn left on Willie Wood Road and go north until you come to Frog Level Circle. Turn left on Frog Level Circle and go west until you reach the point where Pierce Road comes in from the left. Frog Level lies on both sides of Big Creek running south past its intersection with Brewton Creek down to the Graham farm.
A SALUTE TO OUR VETERANS
Today is a day to remember all of the veterans of our country. It was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when World War I ended. In this week's column I honor those Laurens Countians beginning with World War I, who gave the ultimate sacrifice - their lives. If you know of any others please let me know. In future columns, I will honor other veterans in our area. It is most sincere desire that no new names will ever have to be placed on this list.
There are thousands more men and women who served their country when their time came. On behalf of all of Laurens Countians, I salute all of them. If you wish to honor a veteran, you can make a tax deductible contribution to the Hardy Smith House Restoration Committee, P.O. Box 4962, Dublin, GA 31040, which is in the process of establishing a memorial to all veterans in the old Hardy Smith House on West Gaines Street in Dublin. You can purchase a brick to honor the veteran of your choice, living or deceased. In addition, you will have the opportunity to add to the memorial information, which will be used for historical and genealogical purposes for persons researching for information about that veteran. The bricks will be placed in a memorial garden once the house restoration is complete.
THE ROLL OF HONOR
WORLD WAR I ERA - John W. Adams, George L. Attaway, Walter Berry, James Bradley, Leon F. Brannon, Fisher Brazeal, Linton T. (Leonard) Bostwick, Joseph J. Bracewell, James Brown, Tom Watson Bryant, Sammie Burke, David Burton Camp, Freeman Coley, Ashley Collins, William Coney, Alvin T. Coxwell, Samuel Evans, James W. Flanders, Clarence David Fordham, Oscar Fulwood, John W. Green, James C. Hall, Archie Hinson, Syril P. Hodges, Delmar M. Howard, Ben F. Howell, Wallace C. Huffman, Jesse Kelley, Frazier Linder, Dewitt Lindsay, Ed McLendon, Walter E. Martin, James Mason, George McLoud, Jessie Mercer, Rayfield Meacham, George C. Mitchell, Robbie New, Cecil Preston Perry, Wilbur Pope, John H. Sanders, Roger O. Sellers, John Stevens, Ed Stuckey, Louis M. Thompson, Edgar Towns, Fleming du Bignon Vaughn, Ed Washington, George Windham, James A. Williams, Henry K. Womack, Wayman Woodard, and McKinley Yopp.
WORLD WAR II ERA - Robert T. Adams, Hardy B. Alligood, Connie Ashley, Jack Baggett, Charles E. Barron, Clinton H. Barron, Robert B. Bidgood, Cary H. Braddy, Palmer Lee Braddy, Eldridge D. Branch, Howard W. Brantley, Walter C. Browning, Gurvice A. Clark, James Coleman, Jerome W. Collins, Robert A. Colter, Hilton F. Culpepper, John C. Culpepper, John M. Dalton, Blanton T. Daniel, David G. Daniels, Jr., John R. Deamer, Walter B. Dixon, Daniel C. Fordham, Thurman Foskey, James E. Fountain, Robert C. Graves, Horace J. Green, Joe R. Grier, Talman B. Hanley, Robert C. Harden, Freeman L. Harrison, Carice L. Harvey, E. Clay Hawkins, Hansford D. Heath, Edmond S. Hobbs, John C. Huffman, Willie T. Holmes, John W. Holt, Nathaniel Hooks, Billy Y. Horton, Robert L. Horton, James B. Hutchinson, Quien W. Johnson, Wexell Jordan, Jr., Joel L. Keen, Albert H. Knight, Peter Fred Larsen, Robert M. Leach, Robert E. Lee, Otis C. Leverette, Embree W. Loague, Christopher C. Lowery, W. Carson McMullen, Chester C. Miller, Thomas L. Miller, Hugh M. Moore, Clem Moye, Carlton L. Mullis, Albert F. Nobles, Harris O'Dell, Blakley A. Parrott, Jr., Martin H. Patisaul, J. Felton Perry, L. Cleveland Pope, Vernice Ricks, Randall Robertson, Henry V. Rogers, Jonnie F. Rowland, Roy C. Rozier, Thomas J. Russell, Jr., James Scarboro, Emory F. Scarborough, Hyram F. Scarborough, John Roy Scarborough, Roy W. Shepard, Jonnie W. Shinholster, John A. Shirley, Fred L. Smith, George B. Snellgrove, J. Frank Snellgrove, John H. Spivey, Hudson L. Stanley, G. Bert Stinson, Grady N. Strickland, Charles L. Taylor, Emil E. Tindol, Zollie L. Tindol, Willie J. Tingle, Jace M. Waites, Cleveland A. Warren, James R. Warren, John H. Warren, Columbus Watkins, Walter P. Watson, Rodger Watts, William R. Werden, Jr., Oliver W. Wester, Olson W. Wilkes, Robert E. Williams, J. Miller Windham, Luther B. Word, Jr., and Frank R. Zetterower, Jr..
KOREAN WAR ERA - James E. Daniel, Robert H. Grinstead, Roy T. Hughes, Albert A. Lewis, Joseph E. McCullough, T.J. McTier, Walter E. Nesmith, James C. Rix, Bobby Robinson, Ralph B. Walker, Bobby R. Wood, and Lonnie G. Woodum.
VIETNAM WAR ERA - George W. Baker, Jimmy Bedgood, Tommy N. Bracewell, Billy E. Brantley, Harlow G. Clark, Jr., James E. Cook, James E. Cooper, David L. Copeland, Robert E. Davis, Jimmy Harlan Evans, Bobby L. Finney, Gerald C. Fordham, William Z. Hartley, Walter C. Hurst, Jr., James Linder, Jr., Edward B. Lindsey, J.D. Miller, Billy Mimbs, Felton Lee Mimbs, Eddie L. Smith, Bobby Stanley, Donald E. Stepp, Ralph W. Soles, James A. Starley, and William C. Stinson, Jr..
IRANIAN CONFLICT - Dewey Johnson.
THE EARLY YEARS OF
HENRY MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
This week marks the 100th anniversary of Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church. Laurens County was without a Presbyterian Church for many years. However, the denomination flourished in Montgomery County, which was settled by hundreds of second-generation Scottish-Americans. The First Presbyterian Church of Dublin was founded in 1897 by the Rev. J.B. Mack. The founding members of the church were Captain R.C. and Louisa Henry, Alex and Sarah Moffett, L.G. and Nancy Moffett, Carrie Moffett Mason, Capt. J.D. Roberson, Dr. and Mrs. Charles Hicks, and Col. and Mrs. Alex Akerman. Capt. R.C. Henry organized the members who met in a conference in the fall of 1897. The members chose Alex Moffett and Alex Akerman as Elders and R.C. Henry and J.D. Roberson as Deacons.
The Presbyterians met for two years in the Masonic Hall in the Lanier Building at the corner of S. Jefferson Street and E. Madison Street. Today that building is occupied by Dublin Appliance Company. Then with the generous efforts of Capt. Henry, a river boat captain and timber dealer, the members constructed a church on the corner of N. Jefferson and E. Columbia Streets. Capt. Henry died in 1900, and in 1902 the members voted to rename the church in his honor. Mrs. Louisa G. Henry carried on her husband's generosity and was a faithful and sustaining member of the church until her death, even after she went back home to North Carolina.
The women of the church organized as the Ladies Aid Society, which later became known as the Woman's Missionary Society. The leading women in the church during this period were, Mrs. Alex Akerman, Mrs. Louisa G. Henry, Mrs. R.W. Alexander, Mrs. B.H. Russell, Mrs. A.J. Toole, Mrs. B.A. Hooks, Mrs. E. Ross Jordan, Mrs. Nancy Moffett, Mrs. Harry Eagan, Miss Susie Carrere, Mrs. L.C. Pope, Mrs. Morton Mason, Mrs. Thomas Gibson, Mrs. Elbert Brunson, Mrs. J.H. Balsey, Mrs. Paschal Phillips, Vera Pierce, Mrs. J.M. Couric, and Mrs. C.C. Crockett. The men leaders of the church included C.C. Crockett, L.A. Moffett, Elbert Brunson, John Couric, Col. Lewis Cleveland Pope, W.C. Thompson, Jr., and J.F. Hart.
In 1904, the Synod of the Presbyterian Church was held at Henry Memorial Church. During the Synod, Doctors. T. Rice of Atlanta, J.L. Plunkett of Augusta, and J.G. Fair of Savannah, were invited to make short talks during the dedication of the Carnegie Library. They were three of the most respected Presbyterians in the state and noted for their ability and eloquence.
During Dublin's explosive growth around the turn the century, the city fathers were constantly seeking ways to improve our city. Dublin, one of the fastest growing towns in Georgia, was looking for a college to provide post secondary education in our community. During the centennial year of Laurens County, 1907, a plan was made to attract a college supported by the Presbyterian Church to Dublin. The county commissioners voted to appropriate ten thousand dollars for the project, provided it could be done legally and without violence to the budget and taxpayers of the county. The county further required that the city match its appropriation. The dreamers estimated that the total cost would be about fifty thousand and hoped that the good Presbyterians of Georgia would supply the rest of the funds. A group of two dozen men from Dublin and Laurens County traveled by train to Macon to meet with church leaders who were in town for the Synod, or annual conference of the Church. Each man wore a blue ribbon on coat with the words "Dublin, The Gem of the Oconee." The delegation was led by Mayor W.S. Phillips and former mayor L.Q. Stubbs and also included G.H. Williams, W.B. Outler, O.L. Anderson, C.H. Kittrell, J.E. Smith, Jr., E. Ross Jordan, W.C. Davis, W.F. Schaufele, K.J. Hawkins, Clark Grier, H.M. Kirke, D.S. Brandon, and T.W. Hooks. Their mission was to see what inducements the Church would need to build the college in Dublin. Hal M. Stanley served as secretary of the public hearing, which was well attended by enthusiastic and unanimous supporters. As you might guess, the dream of a college never came true.
In 1919, the Presbyterian Church sold its church with the intentions of building a new church on the old John M. Stubbs place on Bellevue Avenue. Their old church became Jefferson Street Baptist Church on the corner of North Jefferson Street and Columbia Street. Before the church could be completed, the Presbyterians accepted the invitation of Father W.W. Webster of Christ Episcopal Church to worship in his church on alternate Sundays. The first service was held on the vacant lot on April 18, 1920. The first service in the new building was held on June 19, 1921.
Alfred G. Moffett was the first member of the church to be called into the ministry. Alex Akerman, a local attorney and member of the church, left Dublin to become Attorney General of the Middle District of Georgia. Col. Akerman prosecuted the legendary Georgia Senator Thomas E. Watson in his federal pornography trial. Alexander Moffett, a veteran of the Confederate Army, served in the same company with Georgia's poet laureate, Sidney Lanier.
In 1953, Rev. Glenn Dorris and the members of the church helped to establish Washington Street Presbyterian Church. The first services of that church were held at the Dublin 4-H center, south of Dublin.
The church has been served by the following ministers through 1998: Rev. Walter F. Strickland, Rev. R.W. Alexander, Rev. W.O. Stephens, Rev. John William Stokes, Rev. Charles Melvin Chumbley, Dr. James Godfrey Patton, Rev. William Clark Pease, Dr. D. McIntyre, Rev. Walter M. Crofton, Dr. John Doddridge McPhail, Rev. James Hazelwood, Dr. Ralph Gilliam, Rev. Robert Peter Walker, Rev. A.A. Talbot, Rev. William Salter Porter, II, Rev. William Glenn Dorris, Rev. John David Campbell, Jr., Rev. Charles Franklin Beall, Dr. Edgar A. Woods, Rev. Samuel Roscoe Nettles, Jr., Rev. Joseph Edward Rossman, Rev. Thomas Donnell Warters, Rev. John Hopkins White, Dr. Roger Charles Mackey, and Proctor Chambless, the current pastor.
THE BATTLE OF BALL’S FERRY, GEORGIA
They were coming! Sixty thousand Yankees in columns as far as you could see were marching to the sea. Nothing in their reach was safe from the foraging parties. Rails were twisted, livestock slaughtered, factories and mills were burned, and homes were ransacked for anything of military value.
On the afternoon of November 21, 1864, General Henry C. Wayne, C.S.A. realized that the defense of Gordon was futile and ordered his men to withdraw to the eastern banks of the Oconee River. Their mission was to defend the Central of Georgia Railroad bridge near the small village of Oconee. The Confederates built a fort with a commanding view of the bridge and the opposite bank of the river. The area approaching the bridge on the west side of the river was nearly impassable. Jackson's Ferry had been abandoned and the trestles along the western bank of the river were demolished by Wayne's men.
The right wing of General William T. Sherman's Army, composed of the 15th and 17th Corps, were moving into Gordon on the 22nd - days after a difficult skirmish at Griswoldville with Confederate Cavalry. Gen. Oliver Howard, U.S.A. was in command of the Right Wing. The 15th Corps, with Gen. Peter J. Osterhaus commanding, arrived in Gordon on the 22nd hoping for a few days rest. Generals John E. Smith, John M. Corse, William B. Hazen and Charles R. Woods were in command of the 15th's four divisions. Gen. Francis P. Blair, U.S.A. commanding the 17th Division moved his men forward from Gordon through McIntyre and eventually to Toombsboro - destroying tracks and depots along the way. Generals Gustavas A. Smith and Mortimer D. Leggett were in command of the 17th's two divisions. The 17th Corps were instructed to move to Jackson's Ferry to secure the Oconee Bridge. The 15th Corps moved to the right to secure the county seat of Irwinton and to follow the 17th Corps to the River.
Gen. Gustavas Smith arrived at the Oconee Bridge on the 23rd. He found that there was no Jackson's Ferry and certainly no approaches to the supposed site. He found Gen. Wayne's forces fully entrenched on the morning of the 23rd at Station 14 Central Railroad (Oconee) with six guns in place. The guns were strategically placed with a commanding view of the opposite bank. When the advance elements of the 17th Corps reached the western bank, they found all roads impassable with no bridge in place. They reported back that a crossing would be costly. Little did they know that the opposing forces included a mixture of Georgia Military Institute Cadets, state prisoners, and local guards. Gen. Wayne repeatedly begged Gen. McLaws for more men, ammunition, and rations. Gen. McLaws sent eighty-five enlisted men, one hundred forty five cadets, and two hundred militia. The cavalry and artillery horses arrived on the 22nd.
General Smith found that the only way out of the swamp was to return to Toombsboro. He decided to move further south to join the 15th Corps at Ball's Ferry - sixteen miles through Toombsboro but only a couple down the river. Before moving, the Union artillery shelled the Confederate Fort across the river inflicting as much damage as possible. Gen. Smith dispatched Col. Spencer and the 1st Alabama Union Cavalry to Ball's Ferry early on the 24th of November. Their mission was to secure the ferry for passage by the Right Wing. The cavalrymen found the ferry boat on the opposite side of the river. A patrol was sent up the river crossing on makeshift rafts. The patrol moved down to the east bank of the ferry and dislodged the Confederate pickets.
Gen. Wayne dispatched Major A.L. Hartridge with two cavalry companies, eighty infantry soldiers, and two cannons to Ball's Ferry. Major Hartridge arrived at 3 p.m., just in time to prevent the Alabama Cavalry from securing the ferry. The Union cavalry suffered nearly a dozen casualties. Major Hartridge set up positions along the east bank of the ferry. That evening he returned to Oconee with part of his command.
Lt. Colonel Andrew Young commanding the 30th Georgia Battalion arrived in Oconee on the 24th. Gen. Joseph Wheeler led his four thousand cavalrymen along the right flank of the right wing. They left Macon and swam across the Oconee River at Blackshear's Ferry. Lt. Col. Gaines and his Alabama Cavalry were sent to Ball's Ferry. They strengthened the fortifications, preparing for the larger force which would soon come. The remainder of Wheeler's force moved to Tennille. On the night of the 25th the head of the 15th corps was camped in Irwinton with its rear in Gordon. The head of the 17th corps was still camped near the Oconee River Bridge with its rear along the railroad back through Toombsboro.
On the morning of the 25th, the two corps began their march toward Ball's Ferry. The 17th corps returned to Toombsboro on their way. General Hazen's Division, 15th Corps led the way. General Woods' Division was to move next detouring south toward the Lightwood Knot Bridges. General Woods' mission was to protect the flank against an attack by Wheeler's Cavalry. He sent the 29th Missouri (mounted) to destroy the bridges. The cavalrymen reported resistance at the bridges. They never knew the extent of the resistance. The force that turned them away was a Confederate surgeon and an elderly slave woman. The Confederate force set the bridges on fire and began screaming and firing weapons. The cavalry, satisfied that the bridges were destroyed, returned to the division, that is according to the local view of the incident.
General Hazen arrived first around 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon. He found the Confederates entrenched on the opposite bank with skirmishers up and down the stream. As soon as the 12th Wisconsin Battery was set in place, the Confederate forces on east bank were besieged by artillery fire. The 19th Illinois and the 97th Indiana were placed on picket duty along the river. The 17th Corps arrived about dusk. The 17th sent infantrymen to cross the river upstream and work their way down to the right flank of the Confederates. Smith’s and Corse’s Divisions of the 15th Corps and the pontoon trains of the 1st Michigan Engineers arrived during the night.
Col. Gaines realized the magnitude of the opposing force around midnight. General Wayne's main force at Oconee had been outflanked. With no hopes of reinforcements, Wayne ordered a retreat to Tennille. Commanding Gen. William J. Hardee ordered the army to move to a defensive position on the Ogeechee River.
On the morning of the 26th, two pontoon bridges were laid across the river. Generals Corse and Woods crossed first, moving to Irwin's Crossroads to camp for the night. General Hazen moved ahead of General Smith, who remained behind to remove the pontoon bridges. After the crossing was completed, Hazen and Smith moved to Irwin's Cross Roads. After crossing the river, Blair's 17th Corps moved north toward Oconee to continue the destruction of the railroad. The 17th Corps Headquarters was established at the intersection of the Oconee and Irwin's roads. As the two corps rendezvoused near Irwin's, elements of both continued the destruction of the railroad. The right and left wings of Sherman's army came together at Sandersville and Tennille. On the 28th Sherman's army entered the last four weeks of its March to the Sea. By Christmas, Savannah was controlled by General Sherman's forces.
A DAY WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
It was going to be a merry Christmas. On the afternoon of December 1, 1941, twenty- one hundred soldiers of the U.S. Army set up camp on the Lassiter Airfield along the northern edge of Dublin. The troops were on their way to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The field was located between North Jefferson Street and Country Club Road. Another one thousand soldiers on their way to Louisiana came through the next morning. In all, about six hundred trucks passed through Dublin. The merchants were beside themselves. The soldiers were paid the day they arrived. The men spent their money on soft drinks, beer, eats, and cigarettes. The quartermasters picked up some necessary supplies for the remainder of the trip.
Electricians were set to start wiring the courthouse Christmas Tree on Monday morning. Santa Claus was making toys for the little ones. The Dublin Hurricanes had just celebrated a successful football season. The Cadwell Bulldogs also celebrated their victory over the Cedar Grove team in the Laurens County Six Man Football Championship. The Chamber of Commerce was set to select officers for the coming year. The John Laurens Chapter of the D.A.R. was preparing to entertain state officers.
The news came in over the radio on that fateful Sunday afternoon. The country was at war. Immediately, Laurens Countians turned their thoughts to those serving in the Pacific. Among those serving in Hawaii were Major Robert Wilson, Bascom Ashley, Walter Camp, Joel Wood, Harold Wright, Charles Durden, Hardy Blankenship, Rowland Ellis, George Dewey Senn, William Drew, Jr., Wade Jackson, Nathan Graham, Obie Cauley, and Claxton Mullis. Lts. William C. Thompson, Jr. and Everett Hicks were serving in the Philippines and Woody Dominy was stationed on Wake Island.
December 7, 1941, "A day which will live in infamy," changed all of our lives. For those of who were alive at the time, it will be a day that they will always remember. For those of us who came along later, it may still be the most important day of our lives. So much of our world's political situations and our scientific and technological advances were direct results of the events which began on that fateful day.
The following is a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hobbs of Dublin from their daughter Margie Hobbs Wilson, wife of Major Robert Wilson, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in December, 1941.
December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Dear Mamma and Daddy;
I know that you are frantic with all the news you are getting over the radio today. Although I have no idea when this letter will get out of here now, I'll write all along and just hope for the best.
We were taken so by surprise this morning that some ships were bombed and reservations were upset. Bob got up first today but I was awake when it all started. He didn't hear the air raid alarm, but he came running upstairs and said I was missing a good mock war. Then he went over and looked out of the window and saw it was the real thing. The Jap planes were flying so low over our house the wheels were almost rolling on the roofs. I knew it was the real thing when I saw a bomb make a direct hit. Bob started putting on his uniform to report for duty and turned on the radio. They were announcing that Japanese planes were attacking the Island of Oahu (that's this one) and for all men to report for duty at once.
The whole Island was organized in nothing flat and they won't let us out of the house. However, when it first started I went over and got Margaret De Sadler and we went on to Harriett Hemmingway's place. Several girls had gathered there and we were there when the worst part was going on. There were about seven kids there and all scared stiff. Harriett was almost out of her head. She has two little boys, one three and one five. I haven't been scared so far. I don't guess I've got enough sense to be.
We had to lie on the floor when most of the raid was going on, because the shrapnel was flying outside and we were afraid it would come through the window. I have a piece for a souvenir. While we were on the floor, I had all the children drawing pictures. Gee, we drew so many that I almost learned to draw myself!
Later Margaret and I came over to the house and put some clothes in a suitcase just in case we were to evacuate to the hills, and a sentry caught us and wouldn't let us go back to Harriett's, so we are together at my house. Bob has been in once to get one of the radios for the yard. All the station programs are off the air and we are advised to keep all radios on for special announcements. The army has taken everything over. If anybody had ever told me I'd be right in the middle of an air raid, I would have though he or she was crazy.
Unless we are evacuated before dark, Margaret and I are going to bring a mattress downstairs tonight and sleep on the floor. There's no use to tell you not to worry about us because, I know how I'd feel if I were in your place. But try not to worry too much, and I'll let you know how we are just as often as I can. As soon as I can, I'll send you a wire, but I don't know now when that will be possible.
We spent a pretty quiet night. Of course Margaret and I both slept with one eye and one ear open. There was a sentry right in front of our house all night so that made us feel better about the situation. Bob came in for a minute at sundown yesterday to see if we were OK, but I haven't seen him since.
Alfred Sturgis rang the door bell at one o'clock this morning and said he wanted to stay with us if it was all right. He had worked all day at the Navy yard and couldn't drive his car after sundown last night. We are certainly glad he came. He is going to see that our letters are mailed for us. Try not to worry too much.
Margie Wilson and her husband made it safely through the attack. None of the Laurens Countians present at Pearl Harbor that day were killed in the attack.
ONE OF THE IMMORTAL SIX HUNDRED
Following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, each county in Georgia held an election to elect delegates to a convention at the state capital in Milledgeville. The popular election determined the vote of each county's delegates on the first ballot. Johnson Countians, like many other residents in East Central Georgia, voted against secession from the Union. The people of Johnson County wanted to remain in the Union and work out their differences with the Northern states. The convention voted to secede from the Union in January of 1861.
After Confederate forces in Charleston, South Carolina, fired on Fort Sumter, it was too late to turn back. The war of "brother against brother" was on.
Thomas W. Kent was born in Warren County, Georgia on July 28, 1828. He was a son of Thomas Kent and Martha Kent. Kent moved to Johnson County in the latter part of the 1850s. Thomas Kent joined the Confederate Army on July 11, 1861. He was elected 1st Lieutenant of Company F of the 14th Georgia Infantry, "The Johnson Greys." The Greys were assigned to the West Virginia area under the command of Robert E. Lee. Many soldiers of the 14th Georgia became ill with fever and disease in the first fall of the war. Lt. Kent also fell ill, resigned his commission, and returned home to Johnson County. When a new Johnson County company was formed in March of 1862, Kent rejoined the army. Kent was elected Captain of the Battleground Guards of Johnson County, who were designated as Co. H. of the 48th Georgia Infantry. The Guards saw action in the Battles of the Seven Days. Captain Kent was severely wounded in the neck and mistakenly reported dead at Sharpsburg (Antietam), Maryland on Sept. 17, 1862. His company was heavily involved in the battles near "The Cornfield" and "Bloody Lane." He rejoined the company by December of 1862.
Captain Kent was wounded a second time at Gettysburg, Pa. on July 2, 1863. His regiment breached Union positions on Cemetery Ridge - going further than any other of Lee's forces. Kent was wounded and left on the field to die. Again, he survived but was captured at Gettysburg on July 7, 1863. Kent, along with thousands of others, was taken to various prisons in the North. Capt. Kent soon became a part of a group of Confederate officers known as the "Immortal Six Hundred." These officers were moved from place to place and positioned directly in the line of fire of their own men - a practice which was clearly unacceptable by men of honor. Captain Kent was taken to Fort Delaware Prison. Despite repeated offers by the Confederate Government, President Lincoln ended the exchanges of prisoners of war.
Kent and his comrades were transported by ship from Fort Delaware to Charleston, South Carolina in late August of 1864. While the ship was lying in Port Royal Harbor, Capt. Kent and seven others procured life jackets and jumped ship. Kent and two others made it to Hilton Head Island and thence to Pinckney Island, where they were captured by Union forces - only four hundred yards from freedom. Kent was returned to Morris Island, South Carolina. In November, 1864, the officers were transferred to Fort Pulaski near Savannah, Georgia.
Kent and six other officers devised a plan to escape. On Christmas night of 1864, the men began tunneling. The seven men worked in pairs. Their only two tools were an old case knife and a stove poker. They stood in waist deep freezing water. They were starving. The men had to save their rations of one to two ounces of corn meal a day to support them after their escape. In nine weeks, the seven men had tunneled through 336 feet of brick and mortar.
On the last day of February, the tunnel was completed. Captain Kent was the third man to come out. There was a drizzling rain that midnight. When the men got to the door, they found it wouldn't budge. Some sort of weight had been placed on it. They decided to force it open at any cost. Amazingly, the Union guards were not awakened by the noise of barrels falling.
The men made it out, crossed the moat and made it down to the wharf. At the wharf they were discovered by Union sentinels when they were betrayed by one of their own men - again within a few yards of freedom. Shots were fired. No one was hurt. Kent and the others were taken back to the fort and forced to remain in their wet clothing for five days in a cold, dark cell.
As the war was coming to a close, the Union Army decided that the men should be transferred out of the South. In March, 1865, the prisoners were shipped by boat to Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and then back to Fort Delaware.
Nearly two years after his capture and two and one-half months after the war, Kent was released from Fort Delaware Prison in Delaware on June 12, 1865. Captain Kent returned home to a community devastated by war. There was little money and even less food.
Captain Kent lived a long and productive life after he war. He died on June 20, 1918 and buried in the Kent Cemetery, Johnson County. Beside him is his wife, Martha McWhorter Battle, who died on March 16, 1926. The story of the "Immortal 600" was ignored by historians for over a hundred years. The story of the "Immortal 600" has recently been chronicled by Muriel P. Jocelyn.
I encourage you to visit Fort Pulaski near Savannah. It is fascinating part of our state and country's past. You can see the places where the prisoners lived in the case mates along the south wall of the fort. Imagine the courage and determination of these men just to survive.
THE EARLY HISTORY OF DUDLEY, GEORGIA
Dudley, Georgia, is located in the northwest portion of Laurens County. Tomorrow, December 17, 1997, it celebrates its 95th birthday as a city. The history of the community goes back beyond its founding as a depot station on the Macon, Dublin, and Savannah Railroad in 1891. It was located on the Vallambrosa plantation of Gov. George M. Troup. Troup's granddaughter, Georgia Bryan Conrad, sold a portion of the plantation to Joshua Walker in 1888. Walker worked with Col. John M. Stubbs and Dudley Hughes in the acquisition of the railroad through the area. He had hoped to run the railroad closer to his home at Laurens Hill. Some area residents wanted to establish a depot at Whipple's Crossing about a mile east of present day Dudley. Walker donated lots to the railroad to entice it to locate the depot on the lands acquired from Mrs. Conrad.
The station was named Elsie in honor of Mrs. Joshua Walker. An application was made to establish a post office at the depot. The application was denied since there was another Georgia post office by that name. The Walkers decided to change the name to Dudley in honor of their friend Dudley M. Hughes, who was Vice President of the Railroad. The post office was established on October 9, 1891. Mrs. Elsie Walker was appointed as the first postmaster by President Benjamin Harrison. She was succeeded by T.H. Hooks. The town's name was originally spelled "Dudly." The name was officially corrected on February 12, 1907.
The early families of Dudley included the Bobbitts, Cooks, Chappells, Duggans, Fordhams, Gilberts, Guests, Haskins, Hogans, Hooks, Johnsons, Lords, Methvins, Millers, O'Neals, Walkers, Weavers, and Whipples.
The town of Dudley was incorporated by the Georgia Legislature on December 17, 1902. The incorporating act named T.H. Hooks as Mayor, with I.J. Duggan, W.J. Gilbert, W.R. Cook, Felix Bobbitt, and R.J. Chappell as the initial town officials until an election on the first Wednesday in July, 1903. In that election, E.C. O'Neal was elected Mayor. W.J. Gilbert, Felix Bobbitt, W.R. Cook, I.J. Duggan, and R.J. Chappell were chosen as councilmen. The corporate limits extended a distance of one mile in each direction from the intersection of Field and Second Streets.
The mayor was charged with being the chief executive officer of the town. He supervised the police force and acted as an ex-officio Justice of the Peace. The Mayor was authorized to hold court to determine the guilt or innocence of anyone charged with violating any state law within the town limits. The council was authorized to specifically tax all shows, auctioneers, sleight of hand performances, wheels of fortune, and billiard tables as they deemed to be in the best interest of the town. Property taxes were limited to one half of one percent of the value of all property.
The first school was established in the early 1890s on the site of the R.J. Chappell home. Grand Jury reports show that Paul F. Duggan taught thirty one students in 1894; Leila Smith, thirty students in 1898; and Cora Gilbert, twenty five students in 1899. At the annual meeting of the Ebenezer Baptist Association in 1900, I.J. Duggan, on behalf of the people of Dudley, offered land and a building for the association's first and only sponsored school. The wooden school and the dormitory were built with private donations. I.J. Duggan gave an entire block of land bounded by Pecan Street on the north, Second Street on the east, Field Street on the south, and Third Street on the west - the same grounds where later schools in Dudley were located. O.A. Thaxton was selected as the first principal of the school. He was succeeded by W.F. Brown, R.J. Mincy, and Garrett L. Allen. The wooden school burned in 1907 and within a one hundred days, a two-story brick school was built in its place. When the Laurens County Baptist Association was formed in 1912, member churches chose not to continue the operation of the school. The old building was then used as a county school until it was destroyed by fire in 1936.
The oldest bank in Laurens County in continuous operation is the Bank of Dudley. A charter was granted to T.J. Walker, I.J. Duggan, W.J. Gilbert, R.J. Chappell, and B.S. Russell on October 2, 1905. J. A. Hogan was elected president. T.A. Suttle was hired as cashier. The initial board of directors was composed of J. Alva Hogan, R.J. Chappell, W.J. Gilbert, W.T. Haskins, I.J. Duggan, J.A. Wolfe, and T.A. Walker. The bank moved into its new building on November 1, 1905. The bank building was a modest structure with a stone facade. The original building still stands, but has been remodeled several times.
Businesses were booming in Dudley at the turn of the 20th Century. Within five years of its incorporation, Dudley's population had swelled from several dozen to five hundred people. E.W. Smith and Charley Johnson had the first stores. T.H. Hooks, W.J. Gilbert, T.J. Gilbert, Allen P. Whipple, I.J. Duggan, and C.J. Johnson operated General Merchandise stores in Dudley. Messers Howard and Graham were busy turning out shingles in their mill. W.Y. Keen was the blacksmith. F.C. Bobbitt sold the best in fancy and family groceries. Dr. R.J. Chappell and Dr. Colgan Carroll were the town doctors. T.C. Bobbitt sold groceries in Dudley for seventy four years. After thirteen years of working with T.J. Gilbert, Bobbitt opened his own store in 1927. Bobbitt closed Laurens County's oldest proprietorship in 1986.
The Dudley Baptist Church, the town's first church, was organized in 1893. It was orginally located on Third Street. In 1952, the Church moved to its present location on Second Street. The first pastor was the Rev. J.Z. Bush. The Methodist Church was organized in 1898 with Rev. Charles A. Moore as pastor. The church was originally located on the H.D. Joiner place on the Cochran Road before moving to its present location on Second Street.
Dudley continued to thrive as a town. The establishment of Oconee E.M.C. in 1938 and the location of U.S. Highway 80 through the town kept the town going when so many others didn't survive.
CHRISTMAS IN LAURENS
This week we celebrate the most historic event in the history of the Christian world. For Christians it is a special time of year. It is a time of giving and sharing. It is a celebration of love with hopes for peace. For those of us who still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus it will always be a magical time. As I come to the end of the my first year of writing columns, I thank all of you for your interest in the history our region. May God bless you with a happy and healthy new year for you and your family. I leave you with several poems by Dublin's Ernest Camp, "The Wiregrass Poet," with a light-hearted look at Christmas and Winter during the early years of the 20th Century.
Now hangs the holly all around in charming
And happy is the sweet child heart in bright
The old earth brightened by sweet smiles of
happiness and laughter,
Gives gladsome aspect to the Now and
promise to hereafter!
There's not a sign of sadness new, and
sorrow's gone a-straying
Where Christmas chimes are never heard,
where gloomy things are staying.
Each youthful face betrays a smile, each
youthful heart is thrilling.
And youthful fancy has full sway, a
thousand hopes distilling!
The mistletoe now hangs about, the charming
While lags the lover near at hand - is she
his love requiting?
There's hope and peace and love and joy each
way your steps are straying,
There's lots of good in everything the populace
The day before, oh blessed Christ, with
love that unabated,
Each passing year throughout the world
their birth is celebrated-
Each passing year, so much of love, of peace
and promise showing,
But proves anew the well known truth that
all to Thee we're owing!
CHRISTMAS IN BUCKHORN
Christmas times in Buckhorn, holly hanging high,
Licker in the closet - not a single throat is dry -
Finest of all frolic - nothing going slow,
With merry maidens waiting by the mystic mistletoe.
COMING EVENTS CAST THEIR SHADOWS BEFORE
Coming events cast their shadows before
Has been thus since old Adam was born,
So 'tis now that we know of old Christmas approach,
By the toot of the little tin horn!
Coming events cast their shadow before,
And they either attract or adorn,
So it is now that we know there is something ahead,
By the toot of the little tin horn!
THE GOOD OLD WINTER TIME
Talk erbout yer summer, but I'll take
the winter time,
When the fros' is on the 'tater an' the
sleepin' is sublime,
When the air is full uv bizness an' you
hear the dollars ring,
Oh, winter is much better than the
summer time or spring.
Talk erbout yer summer an' the music
uv the hills,
An' the flowers - but b'jabbers, there's
the fever an' the chills,
An' there's jes' a thousan' trubbles
that you'll ever' mornin' see,
So I say with kindred feelin' gin the
winter time to me.
Talk erbout yer summer an' the beauties
of the sky,
Of the fishin' trips an' frolics an' the
serenades - but my!
There's the redbugs an' mosquitoes
an' the chiggers an' the flies,
Who cut off all connection with the
frolics an' the skies.
Talk erbout yer summer, but I like it
not - a bit,
For on meller winter evenin's 'roun'
the fireside I can sit,
An' dream away contented if I haven't
but a dime -
Oh there's not a season showin' with
the good old winter time.
AN ICY AULD LANG SYNE
Laurens Countians were getting ready to celebrate the New Year of 1964. Parties were planned all over the county. The events of the past year had reached in and grabbed the soul of the nation. The New Year's Eve weather forecast called for the high temperature in the mid forties. The low on New Year's morning was predicted to be between thirty two and thirty six degrees.
The afternoon edition of "The Courier Herald" reported that freezing rain was beginning to fall. Rentz was the first community to be hit early that morning. Three small Christmas trees on the courthouse lawn were the first to go. By mid-day, growing trees were bending and breaking beneath the weight of the frozen raindrops. Slushy ice began to accumulate along the roadways. Law enforcement officials sent out warnings to all motorists and homeowners to stay at home.
Georgia Power Company, the E.M.C.s, and Southern Bell's crews went into action as soon as the first calls of downed lines started coming in. Calls came pouring in. Lines were falling down faster than they could be replaced. Main feeder lines were going out, one after another. The feeder line from Bellevue Shopping Center to the First Baptist Church would fall seven times before the storm was over. The only line in Dublin to stay up was along Bellevue Road and part of the Highland area.
By midnight, we were in trouble. Bellevue Avenue, Stonewall Street, and their side streets were blanketed with trees. Power lines were down everywhere. There were no long distance phone lines. Local phone lines were in shambles. To some it appeared that the area looked like a tornado had passed through. Nearly ninety eight percent of Dublin was without power. Those who had electric heating systems were without heat. Ninety five percent of the phones were not working. Gas customers were lucky, their heaters and furnaces were working. The main line from Eastman to Cadwell was down. Cadwell, Rentz, and part of Dudley was without power.
Before nightfall, every store shelf was cleared of batteries, flashlights, and candles. Unused Christmas candles were unpacked. One lady bought all of the candles in one shop to use with her chafing dish. Our house had an electric water heater. Obviously it didn't work. My father heated water in his fish cooker and poured it into the kitchen sink where we took our baths. Kerosene was sold out at every service station. Old oil lamps which had not been used in years were dusted off and put into service.
The main line to the Dublin water pumping station went out twice. A special tap kept the water flowing. The smaller towns could not pump without electricity. The stored supplies of water soon ran out. Claxton Hospital operated on battery power for nearly fourteen hours. Laurens Memorial Hospital had its own generators and experienced very little problems. The V.A. Hospital had its own transmission line and experienced no power outages. Remarkably most of the industries lost very little power. Dublin City Hall operated on batteries for two hours until they went out. The National Guard came to rescue and restored auxiliary power. Every available policemen and firemen were on duty. The employees of the water, sanitary, and gas departments worked to clear the streets. Citizens were invited to take as much firewood as they could cut. For many city school kids like myself, what made the storm worst was that we only missed one day of school.
The Progressive Rural Telephone Cooperative suffered a complete breakdown in service. After the first few hours of the storm, the system became inoperative. Damages estimates ran as high as two hundred thousand dollars. The wires were so heavy that poles snapped in half.
All of the customers of Oconee E.M.C., with the exception of those living within a mile of Dudley, were out of power. Six feeder lines were down. Manager Robert Williams was grateful that he had nearly sixty men working to restore power. They came from all over Georgia as well as Virginia and Florida. Local construction and farm workers also lent a hand. The Alamo and Little Ocmulgee E.M.C.s were in a similar situation. By the end of the week most of lines were restored. Fortunately only about twenty of their fifteen thousand poles had snapped.
The storm provided the first true test for the Laurens County Civil Defense Unit. Director Marguerite Faulk and her staff provided water and lights in homes where deaths had occurred and to farmers who had milk cows and chickens.
The local Ham Radio Club headed by Billy Dixon, Dwyane Windham, Jim Martin, Marguerite Martin, Arthur Hadden, Tom Anderson, Robert Anderson, and Howard Cordell, Jr. handled radio communications inside and outside of county. The Martins alone handled sixty five messages. They covered the Southeast and ranged from Beaumont, Texas, to New Jersey.
Utility crews worked tirelessly for more than three days to restore power, heat, and water to the damaged areas. The streets were cleared of trees and lines first. The next order was to restore the main lines and the service lines. By the morning of the 2nd, one fourth of Dublin was still without power. Nearly two hundred houses were damaged when they had their service lines ripped away from them.
For the better part of three days we experienced a nightmare. Nearly the entire state was paralyzed by the freak storm. The dedication of the municipal workers and the many volunteers got us through the most trying ordeal in our county's recent history. It wasn't a such a happy New Year's in 1964, but it was one that will never be forgotten. Remember, it can happen again.
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