Sunday, August 26, 2012

From Military Road to Bankhead Highway

The year is 1917 and you are heading up Bankhead Highway heading west.    Try to follow these directions:

Once you reach Lithia Springs go straight through by taking the right fork and crossing the rail road.   Cross the rail road again.   Take a left and go straight ahead.

Yes, that’s right….you crossed the railroad track twice.

Once you reach Douglasville follow the road by crossing the rail road track not once but twice.  At the fork take the right side not once, not twice, but three different times.

Yes!  There were three forks in the road.

Then as you approach Winston turn left around the post office.   Do NOT go down the hill to the station, but DO go down a rough steep grade and take a right under the rail road.   Cross the rail road tracks and take the right fork.

Yes, there used to be a post office stop in Winston.

At Villa Rica go two blocks from the station and take a left…..then the right fork……….and here’s where the trip takes a fun turn………….ford the creek.   It’s a good size and has a smooth sand bottom….deep to the left.  Cross the wood bridge.   Then cross the rail road and take the left fork (the right side takes you to Cartersville).

Head down the long steep grade and manage the very rough dangerous curve.  Cross a wood bridge at the bottom.  Go under the rail road track and take the left fork.  Make sure it’s the left because if you take the right you head out towards Cedartown and you might not realize it until you have traveled the entire 26 mile route.

I find the numerous forks in the road to be interesting, and the fact that you could go “under” the railroad in so many places very fascinating.   

This route would not have been titled Bankhead Highway, however…..not in 1917, but it would have been referred to as the Military Road, and the road would have been dirt as it was not paved until the 1930s.

You can read more about the Military Road here.

During the summer of 1917 the Studebaker Corporation gave the folks at the Atlanta Constitution a car which became known as the “Dixie Rover”.  The car along with her driver Ned M’Intosh completed a series of eleven road tours in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in the interest of better roads and better motoring conditions.   M’Intosh was staff correspondent for the Constitution and was secretary for the Georgia State Automobile Association.  He traveled over some of the best roads and some of the worst roads in the south.  Some of the roads had never even had a car on them. 

 M’Intosh also road the proposed routes for the proposed Bankhead Highway, and the above directions were published in an article he wrote concerning the route.




In June, 1917 M'Intosh advises the importance of Bankhead Highway by writing.....Certainly it is a prize worth fighting for, because it is to be a great trunk highway, not only between Atlanta and Birmingham, but between the west coast and the Atlantic with the rapidly increasing use of motor vehicles, the development of such a highway is inevitable.   It is not difficult to forsee the day when passenger traffic between Atlanta and Birmingham will be carried on almost solely by automobile.  

The advantages of a town being located on the main highway now will therefore grow most appreciably in the immediate future, and there is apparently no limit to the possible development of automobile traffic.  

When word was handed down that Congress was going to appropriate money to building a national highway from coast to coast routes were proposed and group were set up to boost or support the road.   In November, 1916 the Atlanta Constitution reported a group of highway boosters would hold a meeting in Douglasville.  At that time five counties - Douglas, Fulton, Cobb, Haralson, and Cobb - were planning on having the new Bankhead Highway pass through their borders, but the legislation wasn't a done deal.  

Douglasville's own Dr. T.R. Whitley was a delegate to the Bankhead Highway Association and along with other delegates was responsible for the final route the road would take.  In fact, it can probably be argued rather successfully Dr. Whitley's position as a delegate helped Douglas County greatly.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss methods for delegates and supporters for building even more support for the road to be routed through their particular area.  

By February, 1917 more meetings were being held.  The picture I've posted below is from the Atlanta Constitution.  From left to right you see Dr. T.R. Whitley, who was a member of the board of directors for the Bankhead Highway Association; Mrs. T.R. Whitley; ex-Mayor J.H. Van Hoose of Birmingham, and J.A. Rountree, the secretary for the Bankhead Highway Association.



Dr. Whitley was interviewed for the Constitution article dated May 11, 1917 which discussed how the labor was to be performed on the road.  

At this time World War I was still underway and many German prisoners of war housed at Fort McPherson, per this article.  Dr. Whitley referred to these prisoners in his remarks and discussed how he thought it would be a good idea for the prisoners to work on the new road.

By May, 1917 Dr. Whitley advises the road had already been surveyed and the section from Fort McPherson to the Chattahoochee River was in good shape, and some of the road on the other side of the river was complete "with the exception of some eight miles that would have to be built."  The eight miles was later identified in the article as the stretch between the river and LIthia Springs.  The work was needed in order to correct several bad grades.
   
Regarding the German prisoners working on the eight mile stretch Dr. Whitley advised, "The Germans must be worked somewhere, and there will be no additional expense in working them on the roads and the government has mules enough now doing nothing to work the roads."

So, far I've found no absolute proof that German POWs worked on Bankhead Highway through Douglas County, but it certainly is possible.

In June, 1917 M'Intosh drove the propsed routes and reported their condition to Atlanta Constitution readers.   There was the route we are familiar with today west to Birmingham, but there was also a route where the road would have been routed through Cave Springs and Rome, and per M'Intosh it was the most preferable even though it was longer.


M'Intosh gave reports concerning all sections of the proposed roadway saying, "The present condition of this road, in the stretches which have been allowed thus to wear out and run down, is but one degree removed from unimproved dirt road.   ...Such a road condition is hardly a criterion of the people who have made such citiies as Birmingham and Gadsden."

He also wasn't very impressed with the proposed route through Cobb County saying, "As has been said before a very considerable amount of work is needed.  The strange part about this Cobb County road is that perhaps the worst part of the road lies between Marietta and the Chattahoochee River bridge, a stretch of road which is more traveled perhaps than any other stretch of the same length in Georgia."

"Regarding the road from western Cobb County line to Douglasville, M'Intosh reported the road was in pretty good  condition, but from Douglasvillle to Villa Rica  the drag is again badly needed.   

What's a drag?



Basically it's a device that can be pulled behind a team of mules, and it  helps to even out the road. The drag I pictured above shows one being used in Minnesota.


Of course, once he crossed the Alabama line the road conditions worsened per M'Intosh...."After one crosses the state line into Alabama, the road is an unspeakable route, it winds back and forth all over the face of the earth and goes up and down small knolls without the back and forth all over the face of the earth and goes up and down small knolls without the remotest semblance of grading with such frequency that it all but makes one sea sick."

Well, it was Alabama, right?

Not only did M'Intosh call for the drag to be used more often he also called for installing sign posts at every cross road and every fork of main roads and street corners in towns.

Think about that for a minute....he was calling for road signs....something we take for granted today, but back then it wasn't immediately done because there wasn't a real need until roads had automobile traffic.

You might be thinking....dirt road and no road signs, yet......no traffic lights, and this was true......there were no stop signs or traffic lights at this time, but even without traffic lights to delay drivers it would have taken you right at ten hours to travel by car from Atlanta to Birmingham.

Yes!   Ten hours.  M'Intosh reports he left Atlanta at six in the morning and didn't reach Birmingham until close to four in the afternoon.

I don't think I would have wanted to reach Birmingham that much to endure a ten hour trip.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Social Network Along Sweetwater Creek


Think back to the street you grew up on.  If you grew up before the 1980s I'm thinking you would be able to tell me the name of each every family that lived along your street and possibly tell me some intricate details regarding what the inside of each house looked like down to the design of the kitchen counters.

Young people who have grown up from the mid 80s to the present have a harder time doing this because most people...even those who live in traditional subdivisions....no longer know their neighbors to the extent people did in the past.

Close-knit neighbors are a rarity...They do occur, but it's not the norm any more.  

It would seem that during the 1800s it would have been difficult for folks to know their neighbors.  

In a world where transportation consisted of your feet or a horse...in a world where receiving a letter was an "event"...in a world with no telephone....in a world where neighbors were several hundred  acres apart or even miles down the road....it just seems impossible a close-knit community could be formed.

Yet my research indicates folks had no problem interacting with their neighbors, getting around, forming business partnerships, or finding folks to marry.....

Take for example an Atlanta Constitution article from May 4, 1882 titled "Sweetwater Scenes"...an article that was supplied to the Constitution more than likely by Charles O. Peavey, the editor of the Weekly Star, Douglasville's paper at the time.  

This particular article is interesting in that it paints a picture for us regarding property owners along Sweetwater Creek during the early 1880s.   It's almost as if we are on a tour floating down the creek and a tour guide is giving us information regarding the various property owners along the route.

The text of the actual article is in italics.  I've added additional information in regular type.  

After watching several years the cars have made their appearance in our county.   They moved across the Sweetwater Creek last Wednesday and moved into Douglas County last Friday, on the Georgia Pacific railroad, two and half miles west of the Sweetwater Creek.  New life seems to take hold of our people at once.

As I explained in an earlier post titled How the Railroad Built Our Town work to build a rail line out of Atlanta heading west had begun in the 1850s before the Civil War, but problems and a bit of apathy plagued the project.  Numerous attempts were made in the 1870s to revive the interest in the railroad but the cleared right-of-way just sat idle for many years.

Once the process had begun to set the tracks citizens understood the huge significance to the surrounding area and the papers reported new details of the railroad's process every day.  

Sweetwater Creek is one of the best streams in any section of this state for mills and factories.




It's very obvious the tone of the article reads not only as a road map regarding the property owners along Sweetwater Creek, but as an advertisement for others to come to the area to make their home and to build their businesses.

Coming from your city to Douglasville by the Tallapoosa Road you will enter Douglas County at Love's Bridge, and you will pass through the farm of Colonel D.K. Love, which has been in cultivation many years.  Indeed no small part of it was cultivated by the Indians.

Of course the Tallapoosa Road was the forerunner of Bankhead Highway today.

Colonel D.K. Love was David Kolb Love (1844-1892) who was born in Campbell County.  He married Margaret Catherine Baker in December, 1861.  She was the daughter of Absolum Baker (1811-1876) who ran the ferry....Baker's Ferry.....that crossed the Chattahoochee River close to where Six Flags happens to be today.

You rarely see a tree or stump on the plantation and the land is still good and produces well.  

Love operated a gin and grist mill along Sweetwater Creek at Salt Springs in the 1870s.   During the 1880s when this newspaper article was written....he also had a mill and fertilizer store at Salt Springs with his brother, Charles B. Love (1847-1911).

Back of the residence of Colonel Love in a pine orchard old Sweetwater, the chief of the Cherokee Indians, is buried.  Sweetwater Creek takes it's name from him. 

Near the grave of this Indian during the war a [Confederate soldier] stood and shot down a Yankee by the side of General Kilpatrick on the opposite side of the creek.   The headquarters of Kilpatrick, on the farm of Colonel Love, were also the headquarters of Sweetwater.

This page gives a good idea regarding the situation with Union troop movements around Salt Springs during October, 1864.

The next farm you pass is that of Judge J.C. Bowden, which is a splendid place, containing several hundred acres.

I've written about Judge Bowden before here.  Originally, I used information obtained from one of his great granddaughters stating he owned 5,500 acres, but as this article states it was more than likely several hundred acres.

On this place you will find the Salt Springs.  You can take the water and boil it down to salt.  The mine has never been worked to any extent.   Denmead and Johnstone leased it and worked it a short time during the war, but were driven off by the enemy before they had worked it to any extent.  

It is thought there is a good salt mine here.

This article was written prior to any of the water from the springs being bottled or sold and prior to the fabulous hotel and Chautauqua grounds being built.  The book On the Threshold of Freedom:  Masters and Slaves in Civil War Georgia by Clarence L. Mohr confirms Denmead and Johnstone leased the property during the war (1862) with a labor supply comprised of slaves.




The next place is the farm of H.P. Howell....or Humphrey Posey Howell (1819-1891) who partnered with D.K. Love with the gin and mill.   The article states...On this place Mr. Howell and Colonel Love have a cane mill and cotton gin and a supply of water power enough to run four times the machinery they have.  

Howell's Find-A-Grave entry tells of the tragic death of Lula Howell, his fifteen year old daughter in 1883.  

The next place, going south is the farm of J.A. Watson....James Anthony Watson....He has just purchased this place containing one thousand acres on both sides of Sweetwater Creek and from the way he moves things around, it appears he will make as good a farmer as he does a merchant.   He has 500 acres sown in oats, which are looking fine.

Records indicate Watson operated a dry goods store in Atlanta from 1870-1896 at 20 Mitchell Street.  During the 1880s he also had a store in Salt Springs, and in 1894 he served as the major and later a councilman at the springs.  

Watson is best known for partnering with E.W. Marsh, S.M. Inman, Henry W. Grady and several others in the development of the Piedmont Chatauqua, and he's responsible for the Sweetwater Park Hotel.

Going on down Sweetwater you pass the splendid farms of Cooper, White and Columbus Blair, who has one of the best places in our country and is one of our most successful farmers.  

I'm still researching the names Cooper and White, but Columbus Blair (1836-1901) was a state representative for Douglas County in 1895.   His children include Judge Daniel Webster Blair of Marietta an Ruth Blair, director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History and Georgia historian for many years.

After leaving  Blair's, the next place is the farm of Angus Ferguson.  On this place the shoals properly begin.




Mr. Ferguson owns a fine mill on this place and water power to run a large factory.  

Ferguson moved here from North Carolina and set up a mill at Factory Shoals that was operational during the Civil War.   While the New Manchester mill was destroyed there are conflicting stories in the research that Ferguson's mill was not touched.   Ferguson is an interesting man, and I continue to collect information regarding his life and property.  I hope to be able to devote a full column to him soon.  His grave lies within the boundaries of Sweetwater  Creek State Park.

One mile below this mill is the site of the New Manchester factory.  This factory was owned principally by ex-governor Charles J. McDonald and was in successful operation up to and during the war, until a few weeks before Atlanta was taken and burnt by order of General Sherman, which was a great loss to this section of the country.  The old brick walls are still standing.

The property has been sold and is now owned by A.C. McIntosh of Powder Springs and S.N. Dorsett of Douglasville and is for sale.




Dorsett was very involved with business and politics in Douglasville.  He served as the first Clerk of the Superior Court and....I will be writing about his interesting relationship with A.C. McIntosh very soon.

From this place to Aderhold's Ferry there is 190 feet of falls and water plenty to run six or seven factories as the old New Manchester factory.  This is a field for persons wishing to run cotton mills by water power.  

This is good country for capitalism.  It is undeveloped.  About two-thirds of our land is original forests.   With railroad facilities we are bound to prosper.  Land is cheap and plenty for sale.

Aderhold's Ferry was located where Riverside Parkway cross Sweetwater Creek.   

Getting back to my original thoughts....we like to think about how advanced we are today with various communication devices, various forms of media outlets streaming news twenty-four hours a day...yet, the people who lived along Sweetwater Creek in 1882 seemed to have a great social network themselves.

The folks along the Sweetwater corridor supported one another, went into business together, married into each other's families, and formed a thriving community yet they did it in a very simple way.

I have to wonder....we may be advanced technologically, but are we any further along socially?

The pictures with this post were taken along Sweetwater Creek by Mike Shirley, a longtime Douglas County resident.  You can find MIke's blog, "Dinner Table Stories"  here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Primer on Douglasville's City Seal




Look closely at this picture.  Notice the flags on top of the Downtown Conference Center.  Look at the flag on your left.  

What is that?

Yes, that's the flag for the City of Douglasville complete with the official seal. 

This seal:



 I love it's simplicity....yet there is a story behind it.  

I had someone ask me the other day why the City of Douglasville had a....this is their words now....a big old dead tree in the middle of the official seal.

Seriously.

Obviously, they have not been reading my posts at Patch or here at Every Now and Then for very long....if at all.

So....I figured a mid-week primer regarding the City of Douglasville's seal was in order.

Notice how the tree divides two distinct scenes drawn on the seal.

The scene to the left of the tree shows a farm scene while on the right a town scene is depicted.  

These scenes represent how Douglasville was born out of an agrarian setting, and how important those farms were to the town during the early days.

The year 1875 is displayed on the town side of seal because the City of Douglasville was established by the Georgia General Assembly on February 24, 1875 with the following boundaries - The center shall be a point directly opposite the court house in said town, on the Georgia Western Railroad, thence running along the center of said road each way three-fourths of a mile, and extending one half mile each way from the center of said road, the form of said territory to be an oblong square.

And that big old supposedly dead tree?

From the City's own website.....Located at a natural rise in the topography, Douglasville was originally known as Skint Chestnut.  The name derived from a large tree used by the Indians as a landmark, which was stripped of its bark so as to be more conspicuous.

Natives used the tree as a landmark along the trail.  Later settlers used the tree as a landmark as well calling the place Skint Chestnut.  

The official seal of Douglasville uses the tree as a reminder of the past......a remembrance of her history.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Revisiting Ephraim Pray

Back in January I wrote this post regarding Ephraim Pray...one of our earliest settlers.  

After having a few e-mail conversations with Pray's descendant...Joe Phillips...I feel it's time....actually it's a little past time for me to revisit my post and make a few clarifications.  

At the heart of this is something that I wrote about last week....family history....history that might contain embellishments.

Sometimes stories handed down from family member to family member contain details that can't be verified through legal documents such as birth certificates, land deeds or court cases, and newspapers or even old family photographs are nonexistent.

Sometimes the stories become muddled over time.   Details get taken away...other things are added.  The stories are interesting, but we don't know where the facts end and where the fiction begins. 

Some family stories can be eliminated as embellishments because they just don't add up to the puzzle pieces we have, and then other stories...most of them in my opinion...fall into the range of..."We just don't know".

We might hunt for verification, but can't find it.

As  I stated in my post from last week I think family history is a valid resource, but when I use it to write about Douglas County history I should make very clear what is family history and if it has  been validated or not.  

The website for Prays Mill Baptist Church gives a rather detailed history of Ephraim Pray.  Fannie Mae Davis provides similar details in her book Douglas County, Georgia: From Indian Trial to I-20 and Heritage of Douglas County:  1870-2002 published by the Douglas County Genealogy Society is filled with information regarding Ephraim Pray.

The main source of information for these publications were Pray family members, of course...Joe Phillips' father and uncle who heard the stories from their father, but a few years ago Joe began to search to verify the story...to see what could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt regarding Ephraim Pray's story.

In some instances verification was found...in some instances he came up short, and that's why I want to revisit Ephraim Pray...to set the story straight as we know it this very minute.  

Of course, a missing puzzle piece could be found tomorrow and then we would need to readjust all over again.

History is a little funny like that, but it's one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.

As I stated in the original post while many of our earliest settlers came from the Carolinas it is said Pray came from up North.  Family history tells us he migrated south from Augusta, Maine, however, there is no verification of this to date and to further muddle the mix there happens to be an Ephraim Pray who owned a plantation in Liberty County, Georgia.

Of course...the Douglas County Pray and the Liberty County Pray are NOT one and the same.

No matter where Pray came from at some point he did arrive in Georgia.

In my original post I mention how he might have traveled to Georgia....by steamship to Savannah and then overland, however again...this is pure conjecture since we don't have ticket stubs, a journal entry or even a newspaper clipping.

Our first real proof of Ephraim Pray living in Georgia involves Greene County.   Joe Phillips is in possession of an account book Pray used to record where he worked and how much his pay happened to be.

We know that Pray built a mill and possibly a bridge for Dr. Thomas Poullian at Scull Shoals.

The account book  also verifies Pray worked for Mr. Shivers at Rock Mill Plantation.

Mr. Phillips advises me the account books also indicate while at Scull Shoals and Rock Mill Pray built churns, bedsteads and a house to make extra money.   Relevant pages of the day books have been sent to the Friends of Scull Shoals and the current owner of the Rock Mill  Plantation for their records.

In my prior post I advised that in 1828, Ephraim Pray arrived via stagecoach in the Campbellton-Fairburn area, and before setting out for his property he bought a slave woman to serve as his cook.

The year is an educated guess more or less it seems, and Mr. Phillips has not been able to verify the purchase of a slave woman, but it is more feasible that Pray would have been in Campbellton as it was a far more established town than Fairburn around that particular time period.

I advised in the next part of the story that Pray met up with the Owl brothers at Bear Creek.  Supposedly Elijah and Ezekiel Owl were two Cherokee brothers who had a grist mill and ran the post office at Fout's Mill, but to date I have found no factual evidence to back up the Owl Brother's existence.  

I'd love to...it's a great story, but so far we have no real proof.  

Joe Phillips advises he has not found anything to document the existence of the Owl Brothers owning Empire Mill.  He also advises Fout's Mill was at one time Crumbie's Mill providing the name of "Crumbie's District."

The next part of the story is where I introduced the mythical Abraham Owl.....

Supposedly Abraham Owl is Elijah and Ezekiel's brother, and he lived on the land Ephraim Pray had purchased.

In her book, Fannie Mae Davis advises Pray "had compassion for the old Indian and told Abraham he would have a home with him until the day he died."  This is what prior members of the Pray family had told her.

Phillips has been unable to find any verification that Abraham Owl and a wife ever lived on the land with Pray and freely admits that the stories consistently told to him by family members was most likely embellished by his grandfather.

We just don't know, and at this point I would have to say that the Owl Brothers....all three of them could be a myth.

Part of my original post dealt with a Baptist minister by the name of Humphrey Posey and the founding of Prays Mill Baptist Church.

Mr. Phillips advises years ago a page from one of Pray's "day books" which was more or less like a journal....was copied by Mr. Winn when he was the Ordinary of Douglas County.

Today the book cannot be found, bu the page Mr. Winn copied referred to the founding of Prays Mill Church, which was shown in early maps as "Pray's Chapel".

The narrative tells of Pastor Posey arriving with his horse ill, and of the weather that day.  He also stated that there was the Jared Smith family, which was buried near the spring, not having the benefit of a Christian burial. 

Mr. Phillips remains on the hunt for the missing daybook. 

During the Civil War, I had advised that Pray worked as a superintendent of a salt peter mine in Montgomery, Alabama, but there is no record of this to date.  The only salt peter mine found so far in Alabama was near Huntsville, and the archives do not have a listing of Pray int he Confederate civil servant index.

I also discussed that towards the end of the Civil War someone burned down Pray's mill hoping to gain favor with the Union soldiers who were advancing on the community.  The sources I had available at the time advised the man was lynched in Montgomery, but Philips has found other information.

Phillips advises the man who burned Pray's Mill was a local "Clinton" man, and he was hanged beside the Dog River in a place where he could see the remains of the mill.  His grave is unmarked, but I'm told the current owners of the property know the location.

We do know that Ephraim Pray served as postmaster of Campbell County during the war.  Phillips has located a copy of the petition for pardon to President Johnson in which Pray states he served as postmaster  and pledges to support the Constitution of the United States on September 21, 1865.  The oath was taken before Rueben Crawford Beavers, Ordinary of Campbell County.  

Images of the pardon are posted below.  You can click on the images to isolate/enlarge them.

I still propose Ephraim Pray was an amazing man, and as I stated in the original post he has the distinction of being a man who lived in three different counties - Carroll, Campbell and Douglas - without having to move even one stick  of furniture due to county boundaries shifting during his lifetime.







Sunday, August 5, 2012

Family History - Real Facts or Wild Exaggerations


I’m sure your family has stories that have been handed down over the years concerning those who came before you - stories regarding how your family came to this country….stories involving how your great grandfather made a living…..maybe a story regarding how your mom and dad met or how your dad proposed to your mom.

Many of my uncles had stories regarding World War I and II while some families were only left jackets with patches, pictures and medals to decipher.   

Most families around here have stories involving how folks hid valuables when Sherman’s men came through during the Civil War,  or other families have tales concerning the realization they were finally free from slavery and what they did with their freedom.    Did they stay?   Did they go North? 

Families have stories, and those stories are all part of the collective tale involving Douglas County history, Georgia history and of course, American History.

Family stories are valuable.  

Family stories make history interesting, and negate that tired old excuse that history is just a bunch of dates and a litany of treaties written by a bunch of old dead white guys. 

Family stories motivate folks to find out more….to take that trip to the courthouse or the State Archives…..to pay that fee to Ancestory.com or dig just a little deeper through the cardboard box of old papers and pictures in the attic.

Family stories make history worth learning about. They help people…young and old….connect to the bigger picture.

You realize you ARE an American and an important piece of the puzzle when you find out a relative picked up a musket and stood up to the British along with Washington, Jefferson and Adams.   

It’s much easier to learn about the battles of Vietnam when you know someone in your family was there. 

When you find out your great-grandmother was a Suffragette fighting for the right for  women to vote or an uncle marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. you are spurred on to learn more.

There are problems with family history, however…..and recently I have been admonished concerning my use of family stories in connection to Douglas County history because more often than not there is no proof for family stories, and over the course of many years stories can become embellished or exaggerated to make them more interesting.

There are historians and those who deal with genealogy on a daily basis who are of the notion that family stories without proper documentation should be dismissed and never used. 

While I do believe family history should be identified as such, I don’t agree that family history has NO place when discussing a historical topic. 

It’s too important, and there might be a grain of truth to it.

The picture with this post is from my father’s place in Canton, Georgia.   It used to belong to his father and his father before him.   The picture shows the space where my great grandparents had their home.

There used to be a large tree in front of the house that all of my cousins and I had great affection for.   The tree was right along the country lane where the house sat and on one side there a large rectangular rock that was flat on the exposed side making a seat that was just right back then for my young fanny to perch on. 

I assure you I couldn’t sit there today even if the rock was still there, but back during  the “olden days” I had to walk across the road and run my hands over that rock and sit there for just a minute….every time I was at my grandfather’s place.

My older cousins called it the “Love Seat” and to this day I have no idea if my great uncles and aunts used the rock for courting or if my cousins were just “romancing the stone”, but it was a landmark on my Grandfather’s place that I loved.

The tree isn’t there anymore…..the rock was misplaced, destroyed………..who knows……..but the story remains.  

There is no mention of the “Love Seat” in a law suit at the courthouse.

There is no mention of the “Love Seat” as a boundary marker in any deed.

There are no pictures of the “Love Seat” as far I know.

Since there is no tangible proof…..does it mean that the rectangular rock jutting out from the old tree didn’t exist?

Look at my picture again.  No house…..no tree……no evidence.

Well, of course I’m here to testify that it was there.   I did sit on the rock.  I did play around that tree when I was young…..and I’ve typed it here for all to see. 

You know what they say…the Internet is forever, right?

But a hundred years from now I won’t be here.   My children won’t be here….my cousins won’t be here.

Does this mean that the “Love Seat” can’t be included if a history of the family property is written since we aren’t physically here to testify and there is no tangible proof?

Will I be accused in some far off future of embellishing the story of a tree that might have been on the property but no proof was left behind?

I can hear it now, “That Granny Cooper….she was a real nut case!”

A hundred years from now someone may take my mention of the “Love Seat” and dismiss it totally, and I can’t do anything about it, but it does make me give pause to other types of family history when we can’t document it fully.

Did it happen?

Is the story some wild embellishment?

Sometimes….we just don’t know for sure, and for that very reason I like to give SOME information the benefit of the doubt.

I certainly don’t mind meeting my critics in the middle of the road by trying to advise as much as possible when there isn’t any proof regarding things I post here, but will I totally dismiss family history from the Douglas County story?

No, I won’t.

It will never happen. 

All history has value.
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