Sunday, April 28, 2013

Speaking at the Campbellton Lodge

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Campbellton Lodge 76 F &AM, or as many lovingly refer to it the Old Campbellton Lodge, to a crowd of folks including several young people Saturday night.

Just to spend a little time in one of the last surviving buildings of Campbellton was enough, but they let me speak.

Imagine that!

The lodge building dates back to 1848. It is the oldest lodge in the state of Georgia still hosting meetings. Many of Douglas County's earliest citizens were members of this lodge.

A few weeks ago in preparation for my talk Worshipful Master, James (Rocky) Rothrock invited me to the lodge for a little tour.

The building is priceless with many original furnishings and historical artifacts. The blue color of the meeting room upstairs gives the lodge its other name - the blue lodge.

A bullet hole is very visible on one of the walls. Possibly a stray bullet from a skirmish or two when the Yankees crossed the Chattahoochee on their way south.

The downstairs area of the lodge building was used as a general store and post office when Campbellton was a thriving town. The original shelves still adorn the walls.

My topic Saturday night happened to be two of Campbellton's best known citizens - Thomas Coke Glover and his wife Lizzie. I've written about their importance to Confederate history here and here.

Joining me on the program were the Wool Hat Boys. During the Civil War the name was given to a group of men from the Sand Hill area of Carroll County who formed Company H of the 37th Georgia Infantry Regiment. When it came to name their group they thought of the hats made in John Carroll's factory at Sand Hill. They were "hard to wear out", and since the men wanted their group to be strong and "hard to wear out" as well they took on the name Wool Hat Boys.

Today's group are Masons who are also members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Various members discussed how the brotherhood of Masons crossed the lines of battle during the Civil War as terms such as North and South and Union and Confederate did not matter. If a man identified himself as a Mason the brotherhood between the two men took precedence over the uniform they wore.

Several of the members spoke including Charlie Lott.

As did Jerry Vogler, Jr.

and Mr. Gonzalez, who discussed the education programs the group presents to local students. 

It was a most enjoyable evening!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Puzzle Pieces from the News Archives

When I'm asked about what I do I often use the puzzle analogy. I put together puzzles. Not the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles you purchase at Wal-Mart, but puzzle pieces involving history.

The puzzles I put together involve missing pieces, torn pieces, and ragged pieces, but all are important, and all of them have their place in the story. My job is to find the place where they fit.

I want to share some of my stray pieces of history with you. Some of the pieces add on to stories I've already shared, and some of the pieces present a quandary. I'm not sure where they go. I hang onto them hoping that eventually I'll find the right fit for them within the Douglas County story.

The resources I use in my research involve family histories, published scholarly articles, books, deed records, photographs, interviews and newspapers. Sometimes I run searches through the Library of Congress database just to see if any mention of Douglas County or Douglasville rise to the surface in hopes I might find a missing puzzle piece.

The database contains hundreds of newspapers that were published all over the United States going back to the early 1800s. Of course, my target year for a beginning point with Douglas County is 1870 since that's when the county was born. It is always amazing to me to find a mention of an event in Douglas County published in some newspaper from Arkansas, South Carolina or even California.

Sometimes the news I find mentions things I am already familiar with.

From the Marietta Daily Leader published in Ohio comes this story from April,1896:  Eden Park cotton mill was destroyed by fire at midnight at a loss of $125,000 and one hundred hands were thrown out of employment.

The Eden Cotton Mill was in town before the cotton mill we are so familiar with that finally and sadly succumbed to fire last year. The Eden Mill was located on Factory Street -- today's Church Street. You can read more about it here.

Sometimes far-flung news stories have more information than I was able to find out locally. Take my post regarding the poor unfortunate Italian peddler a few months ago. The Austin Weekly Statement published in Texas on May 10, 1883 advised:

In Douglasville, Georgia, about a year ago, the sheriff of the county, an ex-member of the legislature and several other prominent and enlightened citizens attacked a poor Italian image vendor, spat upon him, rolled him on the floor and then sat upon him, singing ribald songs and [telling] rude jokes. A jury recently gave the Italian $1,250 damages.

In my original post about this incident I didn't get a clear picture of what had been done to the peddler nor had I been able to ascertain if he received any monetary compensation.

Some situations where I find more information just leads me to another mystery. The Memphis Daily Appeal dated August 25, 1873 advised the people of Douglasville had succeeded in capturing and lodging in jail two noted desperados, murderers and horse thieves named James and Robert Seals. The article went on to note that Robert Seals was supposed to be an escaped murderer from North Carolina.

The name jumped out at me because back in January I wrote about a man who was murdered in 1875 by the name of James Seals. Had he gotten out of jail at some point, stayed in the area only to be murdered two years later?

Well, that's a story thread I'm holding open for sure.

Sometimes I find news we wouldn't consider real news, but I don't discount any puzzle pieces. They are all important or might be.

From the Hickman Courier in Kentucky dated March 25, 1887 we discover that Judge Massey of Douglasville killed eleven partridges at one shot. I have already written a little about Judge Massey here.

The Constitution in Atlanta advised on May 10, 1882 via the Douglasville Star Ephraim Pray had a cow on his farm that gave birth to twin calves the week before. One was male and the other a female.

April of 1894 must have been a slow news month because someone in Douglasville figured out there were 40 beautiful marriageable young ladies in town. The problem was that the town also was home to 28 ugly old bachelors and two men referred to in the article as "dudes". This bit of news reporting was also in the Constitution via the Douglasville Star.

Sometimes the news I find is just downright frustrating. The Worthington Advance for August 1, 1889 advised, near Douglasville, Georgia a few days ago a man was arrested on a warrant for whipping his wife. When the case was called for trial he filed a plea that since their marriage, ten years previous, he had only whipped her once, and then with his left hand. The justice of the peace trying the case sustained the plea and dismissed the warrant holding that a husband has the right to whip his wife once in ten years if he does it with his left hand. This decision settles very important marital rights.

Marital rights?  I'm hoping the good judge in Douglasville who was not named was just being funny, but attitudes toward women were a bit off the mark back then.

Another story regarding a judge in Douglas County was published in The Morning Call out of San Francisco on June 20, 1891. The case in question involved a lawsuit for damages to a tobacco crop. The paper didn't advise how the crop was damaged, but did explain the judge took some of the weed [let's keep things straight here...weed refers to the tobacco] and chewed it. He decided that [the crop] was damaged to the amount of 13 cents per pound and gave judgment accordingly.

In 1892, the Edgefield Advertiser from South Carolina ran a story involving the fastest courtship in history on September 15, 1882.  A man stopped at a house in Douglasville and asked the lady who answered the door for a glass of water. When he had quenched his thirst he asked her if she was married or single. She replied she was a widow. The man advised he was a widower in search of a wife. The woman then invited him in the house to talk the matter over. One hour later the twain were made one by the nearest minister.

Who was that woman?

On August 14, 1887 the Constitution captioned a story "Ten Rattles and a Button" which stated..., Mr. S.W. Smith who lives here brought to town a live rattlesnake six feet and two inches in length, and having ten rattles and a button. Mr. Smith captured the snake by throwing a noose over his head. The snake is now at Sweetwater Park Hotel on exhibition.

I have to wonder if the snake still had a noose on its neck when Mr. Smith took it to town, and I would hope he kept it on its leash.

Finally, from the Constitution in December, 1883 came the notice that English sparrows had become residents of [Douglasville] and their lively chirp can be heard at anytime.

Think of that - sparrows in December!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Campbell County Maps

Campbell County was created December 20, 1828 by the Georgia General Assembly from portions of Carroll, Coweta, DeKalb and Fayette counties.

It was named for Duncan G. Campbell who was a lawyer, legislator and one of the few men at the time who thought females should be exposed to higher education. Campbell was also involved in the 1825 treaty with the Creek Nation.

The first map I'm posting here is from 1830. I put this image up on the blog's Facebook last week to show how Trout Creek is noted on the present-day Douglas side of the Chattahoochee River. Today we know the creek as the Dog River.

By 1830, the population of Campbell County had reached a little over 3,300, and by 1835, streets and lots were surveyed and staked out. Construction had started on a brick courthouse and jail.

A rather quirky feature of the map below is it indicates Campbellton was on the opposite side of the Chattahoochee. That's wrong.  All of the town was on the southern side of the river.

During the 1830s and 1840s Campbell County officials attempted to improve roads to connect nearby communities. Rivertown (Pumpkintown) and County Line (Redwine) became post office stops. Other communities sprang up such as Rico, Goodes and Friendship.

Look at the map below from 1855. Notice on the north side of the river - today's Douglas County - the community of Dark Corner is noted, and at least this time Campbellton is on the proper side of the river.

By 1860, the population of Campbell County was over 8,500. Georgia passed its Ordinance of Secession January 18, 1861. Almost immediately over 1100 Campbell County men enlisted in various volunteer regiments.

Notice on the 1863 map I've posted below Salt Springs and Holly Springs appear for the first time across the river.

The 1864 map I've posted below includes two factories - the Sweetwater Factory we know as New Manchester - and another "cotton factory". Notice Trout Creek has disappeared and Dog River is in its place. Bear Creek is finally noted through it had always been there.

The final map I've included is from 1883. Douglas County formed in 1870 and took all of the land on the opposite side of the river along with some of what had been Carroll County.

Following the Civil War, Campbell County, like so many other Georgia counties had to deal with loss - loss with so many men who didn't return and loss from the effects of skirmishes that occurred in July, 1864 as Union forces crossed the Chattahoochee River as they headed south.

After the war the focus turned to Fairburn as it became the new county seat mainly due to the placement of the railroad.

It is interesting to note on the 1883 map (below) Douglas County appears. Within Douglas County you can still see the community of Dark Corner, the railroad  through Douglasville and the community of Weddington which would become Winn and later Winston.

What was left of Campbell County would eventually melt into Fulton County by 1932.

I do find it interesting that my hometown of Red Oak was part of Campbell County. I never really thought of that very much.  I really haven't moved that far away from roots!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Rigors and Rewards of Being Raised in Bill Arp

One of the perks of researching and writing about Douglas County history is the fact that I constantly get to meet interesting people. A couple of weeks ago I met up with Neal Beard and his lovely wife Charlotte over lunch.

Neal is known to many in Douglas County as the author of a column that appeared in Chapel Hill News and Views called “Local Lore”. Many more know him as pastor currently leading the flock at Douglasville Baptist Temple.

Neal Beard is also the author of a book titled Buttermilk and Boxer Shorts which detail his experiences as he grew up in the Bill Arp community of Douglas County during the 1940s and 50s.
Neal explains he “writes stories plucked from [his] past…My southern roots drink deeply from a fast fading culture…There are few left who remember the rigors and rewards of being raised in the country – in the south – in Bill Arp.”

These types of first-person biographical accounts are vital to the historical record of a community, and I applaud Neal for his book. Plus, I found it a very entertaining read. More often than not I found myself laughing out loud.
Neal’s book begins with the Beard family’s move to Douglas County in October, 1945. Throughout the book Neal discusses various aspects of living in Bill Arp mentioning he survived “the bloodiest and best seven years” of his life at Bill Arp grammar school. He recalls, “Serious disciplinary problems among us first and second graders were handled in a long skinny room in the back called the cloak room…In this wretched retreat [Miss Floy] lectured longer than it took the Titanic to sink – with no hope of a lifeboat. She then applied the board of education to the seat of learning.”

Neal fondly remembers swimming in Bear Creek and speaks of Kings Highway and Big A Road during a time when asphalt was far into the future.
Describing his home Neal states, “Some homes in Bill Arp had five rooms and a bath. Ours had five rooms and a path.” Neal also introduces us to concepts long forgotten such as the party line and hog killing time which had to be done on a cold day.

Throughout Neal’s story we are introduced to various folks who resided In Bill Arp including Herbert Fouts who had a water powered mill on Bear Creek where Neal worked for a time.
Neal also fondly remembers the hub of Bill Arp’s community – Bart Duke’s Store by introducing us to a cast of true life characters stating, “Over half a century ago Bill Arp was home to some distinguished visionaries, philosophers and profound thinkers. The Supreme Court of the United States with its pomp, pageantry and professionalism wasn’t as impressive to me as were these country sages…Their seats of higher learning were empty upturned Coke and R.C. Cola cases. They smoked cigarettes rolled from Bull Durham, Prince Albert or Country Gentlemen while they deliberated current concerns.”

Among the many stories in his book Neal admits to being “the only male who ever held membership in the WMU at Prays Mill Baptist Church…If you need to know anything about WMU work in the late 40s I’m the authority.”
You’ll have to buy the book for the rest of the story.

I salute Neal on his efforts to memorialize his experiences growing up in Bill Arp. We need this type of historical record to remember times gone by, and to salute folks in our past.  
You can purchase Buttermilk and Boxer Shorts via Amazon including a Kindle version, or you can contact Neal directly at his e-mail address: He advises he might include his autograph inside the front cover! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The War Bond Submarine

Last week The Sentinel began publishing my history column. I'm thrilled!

It appears each Sunday. My first column centered around a picture I found of a submarine going through Villa Rica on the back of a flat bed truck in 1943.

Of course, 1943 was right in the middle of World War II, so I had to know more. The submarine itself was historical in value, and so was the reason why it was being pulled down Bankhead Highway.

I've posted a link to the column at the bottom of this post. You might want to read about the submarine's significance. I've posted the picture that was with the column below along with three others.

Here's another shot of the submarine in Villa Rica passing Boyd's Garage.

Earl Marsh, one of the folks who "like" the Facebook page for this blog gave me access to the next picture. It's the same submarine displayed on the square at LaGrange, Georgia.

Finally, here's an advertisement indicating the submarine was traveling around the county for a war bond drive.

You can access my Sentinel column regarding the submarine and find out its complete story here.
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