Monday, August 21, 2017

Douglas County, Georgia was named for Stephen A. Douglas

I’ve been researching Douglas County, Georgia history on a full time basis since December, 2010 when my first column went online with “Douglasville Patch”. By March, 2012 my weekly column began appearing in the Sunday edition of the “Douglas County Sentinel” where it continues today. With less than ten repeats I have written and published over 300 columns and two books on various subjects going all the way back to the 1820s when Douglas County was a part of old Campbell County. 
It has been quite a journey through local history for me, and the only regret that I have regarding my large body of work is that I published as I went. My first attempt at a topic might mean I got the gist of the person’s life or the event details, but later as my research progressed, I might find additional puzzle pieces that would lead me to new conclusions about the bigger picture. So, you might see from time to time a few contradictions as additional information was located.

Recently, I was interviewed more than once by the “Douglas County Sentinel” regarding the relationship between our county’s namesake, Stephen A. Douglas and the esteemed African American Frederick Douglass who lived between 1818 and 1895 and is remembered as a social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman.
My answer to the “Sentinel” was a simple one. 

I have found NO relationship between the naming of Douglas County, Georgia and Frederick Douglass.

My research regarding this matter actually began as far back as the late 1990s and into the early 2000s when I was still a classroom teacher at Villa Rica Elementary. I heard that Douglas County had been formed during the Radical Republican era of Georgia’s history and had been named for Frederick Douglass.
Most of my days were spent teaching American History to fourth and fifth graders, so you can understand how I wanted this to be true! How wonderful it would be to teach my students, many of them African American, about what could be an exciting Reconstruction story. However, at that time I could not find enough evidence to support it. Early on in my research it appeared to be a myth, and I steered clear of myths in my teaching, or I identified them as such to students such as the “George Washington chopped down a cherry tree” myth to help them understand how critical thinking skills is a MUST when examining history and historical sources.

Anyone can say something is historic, but if the facts don’t add up, it’s a myth or an interesting story with no sources, at best. You have to determine if the sources are credible, and you have to determine if a social or political agenda is afoot.  
After researching this topic from EVERY possible angle over the last ten years, I am now resolute in my opinion that there is no relationship other that a repeated effort to bring up a historical myth that has no legal or academic source to back it up.

Please bear with me as I present ALL of my research here for examination under the headings Legal Documents and Sources for the Frederick Douglass myth.


Let’s start with the legal documents behind the formation of Douglas County. First, we have the actual law which came into existence October 17, 1870. It can be located online in the book “Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia Passed at the Session of 1870” (publication date 1870) where the actual act is mentioned….scroll to page 13..."Title IV Counties and County Lines…Douglas County", pages 13-16. Fortunately, for us this book is offered online with "Google Books" and can be accessed here.
I’ve also been to the Georgia Archives where I’ve been allowed to handle this exact book and take images of the pages which I provide below.  You can click on each image to isolate it, and then enlarge it for better viewing.

The title page of the book….

Page 13….

Page 14….

Page 15….

Page 16….
Notice throughout the act the legal spelling of Douglas County has one “S” – one “S” upon creation and printed in the official "Book of Acts passed in 1870". The one “S” occurs throughout the act as this close-up image from page 13 indicates in the book's margin:

Notice also the official act creating Douglas County does not provide the namesake information – the person the county was named for. This is nothing out of the ordinary as I’ve read other acts creating Georgia counties and the language concerning namesakes is not included.  
If you refer back (above) to the online link for the "Book of Acts passed in 1870" you see the next act is the law which created Rockdale County which was named for a Baptist church, of all things, and the church was named for the vein of granite that is found underneath the county’s soil.  
There were two other counties created with Douglas and Rockdale in 1870 – Dodge and McDuffie. You can scroll on through the "Book of Acts" and see the laws that created them as well.  No namesake information is provided, however, Dodge County was named for William E. Dodge, a New York U.S. Representative and businessman. A known abolitionist, Dodge invested large sums of money buying up large tracts of timberland in the South. Georgia has him to thank for the state’s timber industry. In contrast McDuffie County was named for South Carolina governor and senator, George McDuffie, who was a staunch believer in state sovereignty which was one of those foundation stones for the Confederacy.  
Generally, the names of the county were provided within floor and committee discussions in the Georgia House, Georgia Senate, or within a newspaper article announcing the new county. Sometimes it is found within the legal biography of the legislator who sponsored the bill for the new county because more often than not they had the honor of naming the new county.
In the case of Douglas County, the bill to form the county was introduced by Campbell County’s House member, Representative W.S. Zellars, a former doctor from Palmetto, Georgia and Campbell County resident.
Recently, I published a column regarding Representative Zellars in the “Douglas County Sentinel” providing bits and pieces of his life.  It seems he was the perfect man to serve in the Georgia legislature during his first term which spanned from 1868 to 1870 because he was not an ex-Confederate, and he was not a Democrat. This means during Terry's Purge, which occurred later in the legislative term and which I address below, Zellars was allowed to keep his seat in the House for the entire term. There are newspaper lists of legislators who have the term “Radical Republican” by his name in 1868….he certainly wasn’t thought of as a Democrat or a Confederate "good-old-boy" at that time.  This clipping is taken from the "Federal Union", dated May 26, 1868. You can see the entire list of the House and Senate elected to serve the term beginning in 1868 here (middle of the page):

I also have Zeller’s biography that was published during his second term in the Georgia House in the early 1880s. The book was titled “Georgia’s General Assembly of 1880-81…Biographical Sketches of Senators and Representatives, the Government and Heads of State,” pages 381-82.  You can read the two-page biography at this link:
Notice at the end of the section the biography states, “…In 1860, Dr. Zellars was an ardent supporter of Stephen A. Douglas, and in 1870 when he introduced the bill to create the county of Douglas, he at the same time named it in honor of that great statesman.”
Also, the biography tells you he did not consider himself as a Democrat as most of the white population at that time. This explains why he broke from most white men in Georgia who favored Breckinridge in the Election of 1860 and went with Stephen A. Douglas. There were approximately 11,000 Georgians who voted for Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 election, and as you can see from the partial list of House of Representative members for 1868 I posted above, Zellars was not a lone wolf as far as white Radical Republicans were concerned.  There were quite a few.
Douglas County is not the only Georgia location named for Stephen A. Douglas. The town of Douglas in Coffee County is also named for the Illinois Senator who ran for president and debated Abraham Lincoln.
I also accessed the biography in this same book at the Georgia Archives and offer the following images of the pages.  You can click on each image to isolate the page and then enlarge the picture to read, if needed.
The title page of the book…

Page 381…

Page 382…

Next let’s look at the path the law that created Douglas County took through the Georgia Legislature. 
What happened when it was introduced?  
How did the House and Senate react to it?
Fortunately, the Georgia Archives maintains the House and Senate Journals for each year going way back in the state’s history.  I have been able to access both at the Georgia Archives and present the pages here that trace the path regarding how the bill to create Douglas County became an official act or law.
In Georgia, bills are introduced, and at that time the bill is referred to as the first reading. Then there is a second reading where the bill has already been referred to the appropriate committee or will be, and then finally, a third reading is completed. This is where you see discussions on the House and Senate floor, and then action takes place…generally a vote if the appropriate committee has recommended the bill. 
The bill to form Douglas County was introduced on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives on Friday, August 19, 1870 during the morning session, by W.S. Zellars, the representative for Campbell County. The House Journal indicates Zellars introduced “a bill to lay off a new county from Carroll and Campbell Counties...”.  I’ve provided the page image below from the House Journal. You can enlarge the image by clicking it to isolate it on the page and then enlarge.
Front page of the House Journal for 1870….

Page 388 of the House Journal for 1870….refer to the left-side. I’ve provide the right-side page to show the date.

The bill's second reading occurred September 2, 1870 as page 561 indicates.

Page 564 shown below shows the second reading. The House Journal states (middle of the page),”The following bills of the House were read the second time and referred to the Committee on New Counties and County Lines, to-wit: …A Bill to lay off and organize a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Carroll.”

On September 7, 1870 on page 603 it is noted the bill had been “in committee” and said committee recommended its passage.  It was noted in the record, “The Committee on New Counties and County Lines have had under consideration the following bills: …A bill to lay off and organize a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Carroll, which they recommend do pass.”

The third and final reading occurred on September 26, 1870 with floor discussion. House Journal, page 813 states near the bottom, "The House took up the report of the committee on the bill to lay off and organize a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Carroll; to change the line between the counties of Campbell and Fayette; to add a portion of..." [continued next image]

House Journal, page 814, at the top of the page continues, "...the county of Fayette to Campbell; to move the county site of Campbell to some suitable and convenient place on the Atlanta & West Point Railroad, and for other purposes therein mentioned.

Mr. Hall of Meriweather moved the indefinite postponement of the bill.

The motion did not prevail.

The report was agreed to.

The bill was read the third time and the question of its passage the yeas and nays were recorded.

[Those voting in the affirmative and the negative were given]

Yeas 66

Nays 23"

So, the bill creating Douglas County passed, but was that really all that was said on the House Floor?  
Why did Mr. Hall of Meriwether move to postpone the bill?   Why were there 23 nay votes?
In general, this website advises research regarding legislative history is difficult and says, “In general, state legislative history is elusive and Georgia is no exception. The Georgia General Assembly does not publish transcripts of its floor debate or committee reports. The hunt for legislative intent can be time-consuming and may not always produce results…keep in mind, the Georgia courts primarily look at the plain meaning of the statute when determining legislative intent. You may do a great deal of research into the legislative intent of a statute only to have your argument rejected by the court.”
Committee records were not kept, information regarding changes to a bill were not recorded, and as we can see the bill to form Douglas County was changed in committee. What was originally a bill to “lay off and organize a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Carroll” ended up being a law to do the same plus “to change the line between the counties of Campbell and Fayette; to add a portion of the county of Fayette to that of Campbell; to move the county-site of Campbell to some suitable and convenient place on the Atlanta & West Point Railroad, and for other purposes therein mentioned."
So, was the passage of the law which created Douglas County really this simple and done with these few comments as I lay out above?
Fortunately, in the 1870s there were reporters in the House and the Senate who wrote down the proceedings and recorded floor discussions in the Atlanta newspapers, and I have located them. These were done in real time each day and published in newspapers across the state. There is no way anyone could go back later and amend them in any way.
So, here they are:
As noted above the bill to form Douglas County was introduced on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives on Friday, August 19, 1870 during the morning session, by W.S. Zellars, the representative for Campbell County.  The “Daily Atlanta Intelligencer” for August 20, 1870 indicates W.S. Zellars introduced “a bill to lay off a new county from Carroll and Campbell Counties…”

The Third reading of the bill in the House occurred on Monday, September 26 during the morning session. The “Daily Atlanta Intelligencer” for September 27, 1870 provides much more regarding the discussion on the House Floor and indicates, “The special order of the day, to-wit – bills organizing and laying off new counties – was taken up. “The bill to lay off and organize a new county from the counties of Campbell and Carroll, was read a third time.

Mr. Scott [Floyd County] read from the Constitution that portion prescribing the number of Representatives at 175, and that no change can be made in the apportionment, except after the taking of the census by the General Government, and even then the whole number cannot be increased. He argued that the new county cannot have a representative. 
Under this Constitution provision Mr. Armstrong [Cobb County] said that unless he can have certain doubts as to expediency and constitutionality of laying off new counties removed, he would be compelled to oppose all such measures, and that there are a good many counties mentioned in the Comptroller General’s report, which do not pay tax enough to meet the charges of their representatives for per diem and mileage. 
Mr. Anderson [Cobb County] said that in favoring the bill, he spoke at the request of the Representative from Campbell County [Zellars]; that he understood that the people in the proposed new county are in favor of the change.
Mr. Hall [Meriwether County], moved to indefinitely postpone the bill.  Lost.
On the motion to adopt the report of the committee recommending the passage of the bill the yays and nays were called with the following result – yeas 66; nays 28; so the bill was passed.”
You can see the wording from the newspaper in the following images.  Again, click on the images to isolate them and then you can enlarge them.

At least now we know the context regarding Mr. Hall’s, the Representative from Meriwether County, call to postpone the bill.
I don’t see any discussion regarding the naming of the county, do you?  

What I do see are members of the legislature concerned that by adding another county the money pie that paid the legislators for their service would be divided yet again, and they would all lose money. Many didn’t like that. That’s the reason why there was 25 nay votes…..nothing to do with the county’s name, at all.
I would also like to add here I've compared all of the names of the House members who voted no against the bill for Douglas County. They were all white and a mixture of Democrat and Republicans. I found no black representatives who spoke on the floor or who voted against it.
Of course, if you remember your civics and Georgia history class correctly, you know that bills must pass both the House and the Senate to be enacted as law. So, now we have to look at the Senate to see what happened there.
First, I pulled the Senate Journal for 1870 at the Georgia Archives. 
This image shows page 475 of the Senate Journal providing the date, Wednesday, October 12, 1870.

In the Senate Journal, page 476, at the bottom of the page it states,” The Senate took up the special order for the day, the same being action upon all bills to create and organize new counties. [continued on the next page…]

Continued on page 477 of the Senate Journal shown below in the upper-half of the page it says,” …The Senate took up the House bill to lay off and organize a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Carroll, and to add a portion of the county of Fayette to that of Campbell; to move the town site of Campbell to some suitable and convenient place on the Atlanta & West Point Railroad, and for other purposes therein mentioned.
The Committee on New Counties and County Lines, to who this bill is referred, reported the same back with the recommendation that it do pass.
The report of the committee was agreed to.
Mr. Holcomb (39th District) proposed the following amendment, which lost, to-wit:  [the amendment dealt with the Fayette voters and can be read on the page]

Page 478 shows where the discussion continues saying, “Mr. Hinton (24th District) moved to indefinitely postpone the bill. 
Mr. Speer (22nd District) called the previous question, which being sustained the main question was ordered upon the motion of Mr. Hinton, which did not prevail.
Upon the question, shall this bill now pass – a constitutional majority being required to pass the same – the yeas and nays were required to be recorded and are yeas 25 nays 5.”
Names of those voting in the affirmative are given at the bottom of the page and…

...the nays can be seen at the top of page 478 of the Senate Journal, and it stated, “So, the bill was passed by a constitutional majority.”

Once the governor provided a signature Douglas County would exist. This occurred on October 17, 1870.
Regarding the Senate actions in the newspapers, I found the discussion for the morning session, Tuesday, October 12, 1870 in the “Weekly New Era,” an Atlanta newspaper where it was reported in their issue for October 19, 1870. 
What is interesting about this report is that Douglas County IS named.  Notice in the following images the county name is provided with one “S” just two days after it's formation date.
I made the following screenshots:

And here is a transcription of the discussion from those images:
“A bill to create a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Carroll, and for other purposes…was read a third time, said county to be called Douglas.
Mr. Barnes moved to strike from the bill all relating to Fayette County.
He said there were 19 counties that did not pay sufficient taxes to pay the per diem of the members of the lower house. He was opposed to all new counties.
Mr. Holcomb (39th District) moved to refer the matter to the people of the county of Fayette.
Mr. Hungerford (17th District) said that if the people wanted these new counties he saw no just reason why the Senate should not grant their request especially when the money necessary would come out of their own pockets and not from the funds of the state.
Mr. Holcomb opposed making new counties. He argued for his amendment.
Mr. Brock (38th District) supported the bill.
Mr. Bradley (1st District) opposed the bill being unconstitutional
Mr. Hinton (24th District) believed Mr. Bradley’s view was correct, it would take a two-thirds vote of each House and also that it should be submitted to the legal voters of the county before a county can be abolished or created.
After a lengthy discussion taken part in by Messrs. Speer, Campbell (2nd District), Merrill, Smith (36th District), and Nunnally (26th District), the previous question was demanded.
Mr. Holcomb’s amendment was lost.
The bill was carried by 25 to 5.”
Again, there is no uproar regarding the naming of the county. The only objections had to do with the apportionment issue and the fact General Assembly members would lose a bit of their pay having to split with four new counties that were coming on board in 1870.  The lone African American who spoke out as opposed to the bill, Mr. Bradley of the 1st District, did so because of unconstitutionality regarding adding another county. The five Senate members who voted no, against the bill for Campbell County, were all white and a mix of Democrats and Republicans.

There were no issues regarding the naming the new county Douglas or regarding the namesake, Stephen A. Douglas.

So, where does this notion that Douglas County, Georgia was named for Frederick Douglass come from?
I’ve found three possible sources including typographical/spelling errors, a letter written in 1931, and recent media reports.

I've examined each one very carefully.
Typographical/Spelling Errors
The first source happens to be a situation appearing in the early years of Douglas County where the county name was misspelled in the newspapers and on maps as you can see on this map dated 1874 which I obtained from this page.

Ever hear of typographical errors?
I’ve researched many counties across the nation named Douglas, and all have had to deal with misspellings of their name at one time or another. In fact, this would be the proper place to note in this chain of research that when Stephen A. Douglas was born his last name was spelled “Douglass”. 
Yes, there was a double “S” in the name of Stephen A. Douglas originally.  
At some point Stephen A. Douglass changed his last name to one S per biographer Roy Morris, Jr. in “The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln's Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America,” published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2008.
Stephen A. Douglas had to deal with the double S mistake for the rest of his life. Here are just three instances of typographical errors in Atlanta newspapers. I’m sure I could find more from other papers across the country if  I wanted to. Click on each image to isolate it, and then you can enlarge the image as needed.
From the “Weekly New Era” for October 5, 1870…

From the “Weekly New Era” for March 3, 1870….

From the “Weekly New Era” for July 13, 1870…

The Moses McKoy Smith Letter
The second source regarding the Frederick Douglass myth comes from a letter that supposedly was written in 1931 by Moses McKoy Smith from his home in Texas. I’ve mentioned this letter in some of my writing and other local historians have mentioned it as well, however, it was always presented as an aside to the events surrounding the formation of the county because the historical record and legal record as presented above strongly refutes it.

I would also like to add that it appears that I am the first county historian to actually take the time to examine the legal documents in totality along with the newspapers of the day, plus research each and every man who had anything to do with the formation of the county.
Upon closer examination and after researching this matter from various angles, I don’t feel this letter is a verifiable source of county history due to Moses McKoy Smith's  involvement and his grandfather’s involvement in the location of Douglas County’s county site.
My first issue with the 1931 letter is I’ve never seen it, and I know of no other local historian including Fannie Mae Davis who has. I've recently inquired with Virginia Pope who served as Mrs. Davis' assistant and editor with her book, "Douglas County, Georgia: From Indian Trail to Interstate 20", and she tells me the actual letter was not seen.

There are several typed copies that can be located, but no copy has been authenticated as “the” letter. Some of the typed copies I’ve seen have differences in the wording and the events presented in the letter when they are compared. Plus, I’ve seen other letters written by Moses McKoy Smith throughout his lifetime which were all handwritten… typed letters in the collection. 
Another issue with the Moses McKoy Smith letter has to do with the fact that his family didn’t exactly head off to Texas with a love for some of the folks here in Douglas County. The Smith family were among the losers in a lawsuit that held up the naming of the county site for five years. The struggle was bitter, divided families, and feelings of rancor existed for years, even decades.
Douglas County existed as of 1870, but Douglasville was not formed legally until 1875, and the reason had to do with a squabble over where the county seat would be located.
Soon after the county was formed an election was held as the law directed to determine the county site.
Moses Montgomery Smith, one of the men who pushed for Douglas County to be formed and the father of Moses McKoy Smith (the supposed letter writer), originally wanted the Chapel Hill area, which at that time covered all the area down to the Chattahoochee River, as the county site. Later, he amended his choice to what was considered to be the middle of Douglas County, the Pray’s Mill Baptist Church area. Other folks in Douglas County wanted Skint Chestnut as the county site which was along the newly proposed railroad and for some it was the logical choice for the county site.
When the first election was held there were some irregularities regarding the counting of votes. Many said Skint Chestnut won, and the name would be changed to Douglasville, but folks like the Smith family were mad and filed a lawsuit to stop it.
The lawsuit wound through the courts slowly. The Skint Chestnut folks went ahead with their plans anyway. Young Vansant donated 40 acres for Douglasville and a makeshift, wooden courthouse was erected. By the time the second election was held...a do-over, you might say...most already considered Skint Chestnut/Douglasville to be the county site and their votes reflected so.
Moses Montgomery Smith died in 1872, and with his death the fight went out of those who wanted Pray’s Mill. The lawsuit disappeared, but many  of the "center" people as they were referred to still had issues with not getting their way.
I call the story Moses McKoy Smith lays out in his letter a “ruse”….because he says the county was named for Frederick Douglass as this was the only way the legislation could be passed through the Radical Republican state legislature during Reconstruction.  In other words, the county fathers fooled the African American controlled legislature, but really had no intention of keeping the Douglass name once Reconstruction was over.
At face value the story seems plausible, but upon more careful examination the “ruse” story doesn’t hold up.  First of all, there was no African American majority in the Georgia House, and the majority in the Senate was slight.  

Second, we know that Douglas County wasn’t the only county created during this “Radical Republican” legislature, and their namesakes were varied – a church, a Yankee capitalist, and a man who was a proponent of state sovereignty – not exactly the namesakes you would think would come out of a Radical Republican controlled group. If they had wanted to name a county for Frederick Douglass, why stop there?   Why not name all four for African American heroes of the time?

That didn't happen because most people have an incorrect impression on what happened during the Radical Republican era.
Versions of the Moses McKoy Smith letter discuss how the county father’s followed this ruse until Federal control was over during Reconstruction, and then quietly cut the extra “S” from the county seal and went on like the “Douglass” name never existed.  
Why cut an extra S off the official seal when the legal document that created the county…..refer to the Act of 1870 above…. had no extra S?
I firmly think the 1931 letter sent by Moses McKoy Smith was just one more way to throw a knife at a situation where he never admitted defeat. His letter was delivered just a few months before his death in 1932.
Regarding all of the men who pushed for this new county – and there were several – I think their main desire was to get the county formed.  They left the naming to W.S. Zellars, the representative for Campbell County.  They didn't care.
Regarding the men who “pushed” for this county they included the following: Moses M. Smith, Ephraim Pray, John C. Bowden, C.P. Bowen, John A. Wilson, W.N. McGouirk, J.H. Winn, S.N. Dorsett, John M. Huey, F.M. Duncan, W.D. Price, T.H. Selman, A.S. Gorman…..and others.
I’ve researched ALL of these men, and written about most at one time or another. They were white, Democrats, considered to be the planter class in the majority, ex Confederate soldiers, in some cases ex-slave owners, and if I dug hard enough I could…sadly….find Ku Klux ties with some. These were NOT men who would honor Frederick Douglass or push W.S. Zellars to name the county for a black man in the year 1870. 
It was known the railroad was coming through Skint Chestnut…..these men and others on the north side of the Chattahoochee River were not part of the power base for Campbell County. They rarely show up in political discussions, meetings, etc. prior to 1870, but once they got their county….BANG!   Lots of money was made for most of these men due to the power they would hold in the new county.  
If you read the original act for Douglas County you see it does more than just provide for a new county. It provides for Campbell County to move their county seat from Campbellton to Fairburn. 

I believe that was part of the deal. 

The men on the north side of the river got their new base of power to run as they wished being Douglas County with the plans for a new railroad to come through that section at some point, AND the men of Campbell County got to move their county seat from Campbellton which had no railroad to Fairburn where the business opportunities looked much brighter for the future.
Media Claims
The third and final source for the stories surrounding the naming of Douglas County is a news story a few months ago where a relative of Frederic Douglass says the Radical Republican legislature named the county for Frederick Douglass and once Reconstruction was over the extra “S” disappeared, so let’s examine the events going on in Georgia from 1868 to 1870 which is the period of time that is sometimes labeled as the “Radical Republican Legislature”.
First of all we already know there was a law that created the county, and we know how the law read. We also know the ONLY way to change a law is to AMEND it via the legislative process.  
The law that created Douglas County has been amended at least twice. The only reasons for those amendments had to do with boundary lines. 
In 1871, the amendment had to do with the Caroll County boundary. As these clippings shows from the "Atlanta Daily Sun".

The transcription from the “Atlanta Daily Sun” dated December 2, 1871:
Friday’s Session, December 1, 1871
Bills read for the third time:
to change the line between the counties of Douglas and Carroll
Mr. Head presented a petition from a large number of citizens and moved to disagree to the report of the committee which was adverse to the passge of the bill, urging that the citizens who desire this change, were cut off from Carroll County without their consent.
Mr. Goodman (Douglas County had no representative, Mr. Goodman represented Campbell County) favored the report of the committee, and said that part of the persons affected by the bill, were formerly in Campbell County.  He also presented a petition from over 200 citizens of Douglas County asking that the bill may not pass
The motion to disagree with the report of the committee prevailed and the bill was passed.
The 1874 Amendment is seen in this "Atlanta Daily Herald" newspaper account of the legislative history:

The transcription of the "Atlanta Daily Herald", February 26, 1874 states:
Senate bills on their third reading......
A bill to change the lines between Carroll and Douglas Counties so as to include lands of AB Davis, passed.
Now, let's examine the Radical Republican Legislature (1868-1870)....
In 1868, the state of Georgia remained in military control headed by General George C. Meade. In January, 1868 General Meade installed a military governor by the name of General Thomas Ruger. He held office until July, 1868. In March of that year 169 delegates met in Atlanta from all across the state to approve a new state constitution that met the demands of the First Reconstruction Act including provisions for black voting, free public school system, provided for debt relief, gave wives control of property, increased the governor’s term to four years, and moved the state’s seat of government to Atlanta. 
I need to note here that of the 169 delegates who framed this state constitution 37 of them were African American. This new constitution was ratified by the General Assembly in April, 1868, and Rufus Bullock, a Republican became the state’s governor.
The General Assembly make-up was as follows: In the House were 84 Republicans (29 black), but they fell three seats short of a majority of the 172 seats. In the Senate there were 27 Republican seats (3 blacks) to 17 Democrats.
Some of the black Republicans included Henry McNeal Turner – Union chaplain during the war and minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Tunis Campbell – New Jersey native who settled in McIntosh County after the war and organized a group of black landowners along the coast registering black voters. Both men served as delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1867 and then were elected to the Georgia legislature in July, 1868.
Also in July, 1868 the General Assembly Democrats and White Republican allies began a campaign to expel black legislators. This would happen in September, 1868 resulting in prolonging military control in the state. These black legislators would not be allowed back until 1870 during a period known as Terry’s Purge.
Alfred H. Terry, the third and final commanding general of the District of Georgia took control in January, 1870. He removed 24 Democrats from the legislature who had served in an official capacity during the Confederacy or who had not taken the oath to the United States.  Terry replaced these men with their Republican runner-ups and then reinstated the expelled black legislators – this in turn created a heavy Republican majority, but it would only last until November, 1871 when a new election resulted in heavy wins for the Democrats.
It is important to remember that while there were Republican majorities during some of this period, a Republican majority was not an African American majority.  White Republicans outnumbered black Republicans, and often they disagreed.  

Historian Kenneth Coleman in his “A History of Georgia” states, “The role of blacks in the Radical Republican legislature of Georgia was a very limited one, more so than in most of the southern states. This was due mainly to the fact that after two months in office they were removed from and denied their seats for almost a year and a half, from September, 1868 to January, 1870.”
The idea that the Radical Republican legislature was full of African Americans and they passed any legislation they wished is a misnomer. It is a myth....especially when you look at the body of legislation passed during this time.
There was no reason for any supposed delegation from Campbell County to let it be known the new county would be named for Frederick Douglass because there weren’t enough black members to create a block.  

In fact, black members once they retook their seats were more interested in getting the 14th amendment re-ratified and the 15th amendment ratified so their people could be citizens and then be allowed to vote.
Legislation regarding new counties was just a blip on the map regarding the hundreds of things that were deliberated and passed during the 1868 to 1870 term. 
Finally, Frederick Douglass was a rock star in the 1870s and rightly so. Every move of his was recorded daily in the all newspapers across the country. Where he went, what he ate, who he saw, and honors that were bestowed upon him were recorded in the newspapers every day.  Go to which is a national data base and do a search…..thousands of hits…..or the Library of Congress national newspaperdatabase.  I’ve used various keywords to attempt to isolate an article on a county in Georgia being named for him. I've found nothing. 
Had a county in the deep south full of ex-slave owners and ex-Confederates been named for a black man in 1870… would have gone viral, right?   Ten years of research, and I’ve found nothing.  

While I can understand someone arguing the official records could have been cleaned up at a later date, I don't see how the newspaper records could have been hidden when it was published daily in real time.       
My best expert opinion:  Douglas County was named for Stephen A. Douglas as proven above.
The men in Campbell were happy to get their new county seat at Fairburn. The men in Douglas were happy to have their new county, and all were happy to allow W.S. Zellars, a non-Democrat, to give the new county a name for someone he admired:  Stephen A. Douglas.
To keep putting the myth out there that there was a group of people who wanted Douglas County to be named for Frederick Douglass, that it passed the legislature, and then quietly went away without referencing any supporting documentation from official state documents, authenticated letters, journals, newspaper stories, etc. from the time period speaks volumes to me as a dedicated historian. 
It would appear a political agenda is more important than historical truth and in my personal opinion as a Douglas County citizen, a historian, and as an educator with a Master degree in curriculum that is a dangerous thing indeed when local, state, or national governments, as well as some members of the media seek to change written and valid history on unproven myths and folklore.  
The wonderful legacy of Frederick Douglass deserves better treatment than that.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

1836 Creek War…A Campbell County Connection

In 1836, men from Campbell County answered the Governor William Schley’s call for volunteers to head to South Georgia when various Creek Indian bands began attacks to drive white settlers from their lands. Whole families were killed, mail stages were disrupted, and the town of Roanoke, Georgia was burned to the ground.

The governor initially called for 3500 volunteers from militia groups around the state. Men from Morgan, Putnam, Hancock and Monroe Counties volunteered and saw action including the Battle of Shepherd’s Plantation in Stewart County. Other men from counties such as Coweta, Carroll, Fayette, and DeKalb volunteered, organized, and made preparations to leave.

It appears the men serving with the Fayette Dragoons actually made it to Fort Twigg on the Ocmulgee River on June 14, 1836, while men serving with the Carroll Rangers reached Camp Thomas on July 11, 1836.

At some point, however, the Governor gave an order to stand down. Currently, I have no records that tell me the men from Campbell County actually served away from home. In fact, some of their own words tell me they didn’t.  

The fact that they never left home didn’t stop the people of Campbell County from celebrating their brave volunteers, and in October, 1836, the people of Campbell County gave the group a dinner.  I ran across a newspaper article from the “Federal Union”, a paper published in Milledgeville, dated October 4, 1836 which discusses the dinner and records all of the toasts that were made.

The dinner as well as some historical context regarding the Creek Indian War of 1836 is the subject of my Douglas County Sentinel history column presented in the December 18, 2016 issue.

I decided to post a transcribed copy of the article here along with some biographical information regarding the men since I have space limitations with the Sentinel.

So, why are men from Campbell County important to Douglas County history?  Please remember that prior to 1870 Douglas County was actually a part of Campbell County.  Many of the men discussed in this 1836 article are the patriarchs of many Douglas County families.

Also, it is important to note I have no formal roster of men from the Campbell County Blues of 1836.  Some of the men mentioned in the article are noted as volunteers while others are not.

The article text is presented in italics while the biographical information is presented in regular type.

From the “Federal Union” (Milledgeville), October 4, 1836....

On Saturday, the third instant, the Campbell County Volunteers assembled in Campbellton according to previous arrangements and partook of a public dinner tendered them by the citizens of the county. At three o’clock they sat down to a dinner handsomely prepared for them. Thomas M’Kay, esq. (I’m fairly certain this is a misspelling and should be McKoy) presiding as president, Edmund Randle, Henry Paulett, Joseph Jay, E.B. Thompson, and Richard Moore assisted as vice-presidents. After the removal of the cloth, the following sentiments were offered; and about four o’clock the festivities of the day closed, having been conducted with good order throughout the day.

Regular Toasts

1. The President of the United States

2.  George Washington, the father of his country; may all festivals and celebrations be adorned by the memory of his distinguished services

3. Thomas Jefferson, the enlightened statesman – he prayed that his life might be prolonged till the 50th anniversary and his prayer was granted.

4. The Signers of the Declaration of Independence – their names will be as immortal as their services have been invaluable.

5. The American Union – embracing in its bosom 26 independent states united by a written compact the work of the illustrious dead – esto perpetua.

6. Our Army and Navy – the bulwark of our liberties and the terror of our enemies.

7. The Soldiers of the American Revolution – their services will be remembered by the American people with gratitude.

8. The Battle of Bunker Hill – a splendid achievement of American bravery

9. General LaFayette, the friend of national liberty his name will ever be dear to American freemen.

10. James Madison – the devoted patriot, the distinguished republican for sure and unsullied politician

11. The memory of James Monroe – the scientific statesmen and benevolent patriot

12. The Campbell Volunteers – you cheerfully obeyed your call of your country – we bid you a welcome return to your families and friends

13. Females of Georgia – they approve by their smiles the chivalry of her volunteers

Volunteer Toasts

Thomas McKay, Esq. – President Martin Van Buren, May he be our next president.

This could be McKoy, not McKay.

Based on the Thomas McKoy (October 15, 1770 to September 27, 1846) name he came south from Campbell County, Virginia to Campbell County, Georgia by 1830. His first wife was Catherine Strong. His second wife was Martha “Patsey” Harvey. McKoy represented Campbell County in the 1835 state legislature. McKoy’s son was Thomas McKoy, Jr. (1804 to 1865) who is buried in the McKoy Cemetery located on Highway 166 opposite Smith Ferry Road.

I’m not certain at this point if the person making the toast is the Sr. or Jr.

Edmund Randle, First Vice President – Captain Camp and his brave volunteers, ever ready to march to the field of battle to rescue innocent women and children from the merciless savages’ tomahawk and scalping knife, may be supreme power be with them

Edmund Randle was of the first settlers in Campbell County. He born in 1793 in Brunswick, Virginia. During the War of 1812, Edmund Randle was a lieutenant under General Andrew Jackson fighting Indians. He was the postmaster at Rivertown, Campbell County in 1834, and was married to Sarah Hines Colquitt. The Randles moved to Alabama in 1846.

Joseph Jay, Second Vice President – May party spirit throughout the Union never give rise to any other than Republican principles.

Jay also served in the militia that did see action in 1838 with the rank of sergeant. He was also a Justice of the Inferior Court in Campbell County in 1839.

Col. Richard Moore, Third Vice President – Our guest Captain Camp and his gallant comrades – if not favored with an opportunity to gain victory over the savages their wish to do so has secured to them a triumph equally important and gratifying

He was born in 1794…Wife’s name was Olive.  Also, the Col. with his name is not a military ranking, but notes that he was an attorney.  I’ve run across some newspaper articles where he’s mentioned, and I’d like to expand his bio information out a little at a later date.

Henry Paulett, Fourth Vice President – Those of Campbell County Volunteers  who refused to be mastered into the United States service; they are not of the description of Hudibras’ men who fighting fell and falling fought when on the ground fought all about

Henry Paulett was the son of Richard Paulett, a Revolutionary soldier who also ended up in Campbell County by 1830 and died in 1835. Paulett moved from Clark County to Campbell in the late 1820s. In fact, you can find the Paulett name listed in George White’s “Historical Collections of Georgia” as one of the earliest settlers in Campbell County.

A Lewis M. Paulett is listed as part of the Campbell County volunteers in 1838, but I’m not sure how he and Henry are related.

E.B. Thompson – Welcome to the return of our volunteers – the officers have served without censure and the soldiers without disgrace.

E.B. Thompson is another Campbell County citizen I’d like to expand a bit. I see him mentioned in early newspaper articles.  He served the county as an Inferior Court judge in 1834

P.J. Abbott – Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, the mover of the Indian tribes out of the limits of the states, the restorer of the West India trade, the successful French negotiator, the destroyer of the United States Bank and the hero of New Orleans real southern presidents have served with more censure none with more merit.

I believe his full name was Peter J. Abbott (Abbett), son of Simeon W. Abbott.

Thomas J. Bomar – John A. Cuthbert and Dr. Tomlinson Fort – may these men quit quarrelling themselves, reconcile their friends, and quarrel with their enemies
In my limited time I didn’t make a connection with him….

E.P. Bomar – success to all true-hearted Americans hoping they may never let party spirit divide the Union

This might possibly Edward P. Bomar, son of Barbery and William Bomar who married Sophia White in 1838. This might also be Elisha Pinckney Bomar.   I need a Bomar family expert for this one.

William H. England – General Houston  - the brave soldier and skillful commander may be in all future engagements with the enemies of Texas, prove a successful as he did at the capture of San Jacinto

I’m wondering if this could be William English. He purchased land in 1830 and is buried in the old Baptist Church cemetery in Campbellton. He was born in Ireland in 1771 and died in 1850. 

If this is William English his name was not only misprinted in the 1836 article, but the 1838 militia roster as well, as a William England served then, too.  Hmmm….

A.G. Yates – May Jernigan of the Stewart Volunteers, the rescue of Captain Germany’s company at Shepherd’s plantation and his successful continuation of re-counters during that time with the enemy, entitle him to the grateful recollection of his countrymen

Alfred G. Yates (1817-1840), a son of Joel Yates. He married Amanda Sheats in 1836. His son was Alfred G. H. Yates who was a town marshall in Villa Rica in the 1880s

James Ward – The Campbell County Blues – living proof that the blood of ’76 has descended to the present generation, uncontaminated. We greet them with good cheer and a hearty welcome to the bosom of their family and friends

This gentleman could possibly James Word, not Ward. James Word led the milita group during the 1838 Indian War.

Wade White – The railroad system – may it continue to prosper till all kinds of goods and groceries become as cheap in Campbell County as it is selling now in the city of Savannah

Wade White settled in the Salt Springs/Lithia Springs area of Campbell County, now Douglas County. He was born in North Carolina in 1791 and served in the militia in Clarke County in 1815.  In 1816, he married Sarah Traylor. After moving to Campbell County he served as state representative in 1835, 1836, 1838, and Inferior Judge 1841-45, and 1849-51. He also served as the first postmaster of Salt Springs/Lithia Springs in 1849 to 1859, succeeded by John C. Bowden.

William M. Britt – The memory of Major Dade and his men

After looking around a little I’m almost certain this is William M. Butt, not Britt. If so, the M. initial stood for Martin. He was a native of Warren County and arrived in Campbell County in 1830. He was the son of Clary Butt Gibson (widow of John Gibson, Revolutionary Soldier). It’s important to note that Gibson was not Butt’s father. He served as an Interior Court judge from 1831 to 1849, moved to Atlanta in 1850 where he served on the city council and was elected mayor of Atlanta in 1854.

D.D. Smith – The immortal Washington, the father of his country his name will go down with increasing splendor to all republican men

His full name was David D. Smith and married Sarah Ginnings (Jennings) in 1840. He served as a Campbell County Inferior Court judge in 1841.

P. Brooks, a volunteer – Gentlemen, here is union to the US, and prosperity to the republican world.

I haven’t found any information to date.

Job Smith – Governor Lumpkin; prosperity and happiness in his retirement and success to his friend Andrew Jackson

Could this be J.B. Smith?

William Hill, a volunteer – Our members of Congress, firm enlightened and patriotic; may they all be again returned to their seats at our next election

I haven’t found any information regarding William Hill, to date.

James E. Dickens, a volunteer – General Jesup: Judas like he has endeavored to betray his master - like Judas may he meet with reward

Married Flora Berthenia Wharton January, 1838

James Danforth – General Scott: Though his character has been traduced by Jesup, we still have confidence in his abilities as a general

Shows up in the 1840 census (1804-1871) and died living in Palmetto   Born 1804 in North Carolina.  Married Martha (Johnson) Danforth in 1838

John B. Smith, First Lieutenant of the volunteers – May Van Buren be our next president, believing he will pursue the same course marked out by our revolutionary patriot now at the head of the government.

Could this be J.B. Smith?   So many Smiths to sift through…..

W.A. Maxwell, a visitor from Lee County – The ladies, our arms shall be their protection, their arms our reward.

I haven’t found any information to date

E.W. Polk of North Carolina – May the volunteers of the state and all others praise General Houston for his bravery of Texas, and that he may gain as great a victory at the next contemplated battle as Jackson did at New Orleans.

I haven’t found any information to date

Adam R. Bomar – The memory of the volunteers of Georgia will last as long as the name of General Washington.

I haven’t found any information to date

Merrel Humphries, a volunteer – To my officers with whom I have served, I tender them by best respects for their good conduct towards the soldiers during their service.
I haven’t found any information to date

J.F. Nelson, a volunteer, Orderly Sergeant – To the patriotic citizens of Campbell County for their aid to the Campbell Blues, when about to march for service, ad for the present repast in honor of our return; may the smiles of heaven ever be over them, and may the volunteers never forget them.

I haven’t found any information to date.

Wesley Camp – The memory of our worthy friend and deceased fellow soldier – he is dead, but he yet lives in the hearts of his countrymen.

I haven’t found any information to date.

Benjamin Camp, Captain of the volunteers – Here is to the volunteers of Campbell County, both cavalry and infantry, may they ever stand up to the rack, fodder or no fodder, and never be affrighted or bolt at the sight of a United States’ officer, may they always act the part of good soldiers and be esteemed by every warm and true hearted patriot.

Benjamin Camp, per his obituary he was born in Walton County and settled in Campbell County in the 1830s. He was “an officer in the U.S. Army and participated in all the wars with the Indians in this section of the country…..During his long life he was prominent in all walks of life.”   More on him later….

Henry Paulett – The name of Martin Van Buren, together with his votes upon the Missouri question and free negro suffrage that Congress has the right to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, with that of Mr. Benton of Missouri and his vote upon the distribution of the surplus funds among the states: may they be inscribed within a circle as black as the family of Richard M. Johnson, and across them, may it be written in plain and indelible characters expunged by order of the democracy of the United States. General welfare, the good of the whole and not part……The memory of brave Garmony and his brave little band – never be forgotten by the friends of American freedom.

I’m not sure why Henry Paulett has two mentions in the toasts.  Maybe he didn’t like his first one and decided to give another…..Look up above for his bio information.

Check out my column in the Douglas County Sentinel dated December 17, 2016 for more information, and follow this link to my website where I discuss the men who volunteered in 1838 during the round-up of Cherokee natives.

If you what to add something more about these gentlemen feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email at

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