Tuesday, July 30, 2013

At Auction: Douglasville Property

The following ad appeared in "The Atlanta Constitution" during March, April and May, 1874.

Will be sold to the highest bidder, on the premises at 10 o'clock a.m., on Wednesday the 27th day of May, 1874, a part or all, of one hundred and thirty-three lots as numbered and defined in the plat of the town of Douglasville, the county site of Douglas.

The property has been donated to the county by Mr. Young Vansant, and will be sold with a view to the commencement of the public building.

32 of these lots front the courthouse square and the others extend back, making very desirable lots for businesses and private residences.

This property is located on the Georgia Western railroad, 27 miles west of Atlanta.

Douglasville, the county site of Douglas is destined at no distant day to be one of the most flourishing towns in Georgia.

Terms: Five percent, cash, the balance divided into two payments, one-half to be paid November 1, 1874, the remaining half, November 1st, 1875. Purchase money secured by lien on property sold.

John M. James, Ordinary

E. Pray, J.C. Bowden, W.N. Magouirk, J.H. Winn - Commissioners

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fire at Douglasville Grammar School

Think about Church Street for a minute. 
What are the main focal points as you mentally go from one end of the street to the other?

You might mention the large Regions Bank building, City Hall, the new conference center and parking deck or even the former First Baptist Church building.
The Douglasville City Cemetery might be your focal point or the recently vacated jail or even the armory building.

All of these are worthy focal points, but why don’t we zero in on the space between the church and the armory building.
Today we know a fire station sits there, but between 1918 and 1955 the space was home to Douglasville Grammar School, a three-story brick and wooden structure housing 25 classrooms and anywhere between 600 to 800 students.

From the pictures I’ve located it was a lovely building. Even though it wouldn’t meet today’s education needs, it would be a nice structure to connect with our past for offices, meeting rooms or even a boutique hotel of some sort.
Sadly, we lost the building forever on January 27, 1955 when a slow moving fire took it from us.
The fateful day was a Thursday.  Students and staff had already gone home when Jimmy Gable, a high school student at the time, noticed smoke billowing from the building as he traveled down Church Street around 5 p.m.

A newspaper article a few days later advised several surrounding communities helped with fighting the fire including Austell, Marietta, Villa Rica and even Atlanta, but the fire was too far out of control.
Even though the building was a total loss, a few of the high school boys and men on the scene were able to remove some of the desks from the basement classrooms and, most of the school’s lunchroom equipment was saved.

There had been some initial speculation that water-pressure had been an issue in fighting the fire, but it was ruled out. The cause of the fire was thought to have started in the school’s boiler room.
The school’s principal, Mrs. H.N. Kemp and Board of Education Superintendent, J.E. Walton scrambled to provide a place for the students to finish out their school year. Double sessions began at the high school with the older students attending class from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the grammar school students were in class from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

A new grammar school that had already been planned was quickly built, and as you already realize – Douglasville Grammar School did not rise again along Church Street.
The school became a memory for the hundreds of students and teachers who called it their educational home for 37 years.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Giving Respect

Since we celebrate the birthday of our wonderful country this week, I thought it would be appropriate to bring up Richard M. Wilson's name.

I first wrote about him some time ago here where I make reference to the genealogical research of Joe Baggett. Mr. Baggett connected Richard M. Wilson, one of our first clerk's of court (1889) to John Miller, a well known printer in London. There are claims Miller was the anonymous author of the Junius Letter which attacked King George III's government and helped to spark the American Revolution.

You can read more about the Junius letter here at my site, History Is Elementary.

Cool connection, huh?

There are other connections as well to this week.The story I'm presenting today was published in The Manning Times, a South Carolina paper on July 15, 1903...so, basically one hundred and ten years ago, this month.

The third connection is rain, wind and lightning, and as you well know we've had plenty of that over the last few days. The cycle of hot sunny vistas outside my window change rapidly over and over with dark skies and a deluge of water from the skies. At times the lightning is fierce and intimidating...as it is meant to be, I guess. 

The story in The Manning Times is titled "Narrow Escape" and advises Douglasville, Georgia had been visited the past week with a severe thunderstorm. The story continues.....

The lightning struck in several places in town and among the number was the residence of R.M. Wilson, clerk of the Superior Court of that county. Mr. Wilson and five other members of his family were in the house when the bolt came and their escape is very miraculous. Mrs. Wilson was in the kitchen washing dishes and a large hole was torn in the floor within ten inches of where she was standing.

The dishes she held in her hand were broken, but she escaped unhurt. A son, F.M. Wilson was lying on a bed upstairs and pieces of plank were thrown all over him. He was unhurt. Other members of the family had equally as miraculous escapes.

Here we are...practically on the eve of July 4th, and the predictions for rain and more rain are rampant.  We may have to wait until the weekend to truly celebrate appropriately, but in the meantime.....watch the weather and  give the lightning plenty of respect.

Be safe out there!
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