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18 June 2016

More About Distinguished Georgian, William C. Dawson

It's been three years, almost to the day, since I posted "William C. Dawson: Grand Master of Masons in Georgia." The article details a portion of a visit to Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia.  While there, I photographed a historical marker about Senator Dawson, and paid a visit to his grave in the city cemetery.

I've been working my way through Lucian Lamar Knight's Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (1913), and just yesterday come across some information regarding the family of William Crosby Dawson:

In the town cemetery at Greensboro rest two distinguished Georgians, both of whom wore the toga of the United States Senate, besides illustrating Georgia on the Superior Court Bench:  Thomas W. Cobb and William C. Dawson.

The Dawson Family Record

Judge Dawson was twice married, first, in 1820, to Henrietta, daughter of Dr. Thomas Wingfield; and, second, in 1850, to Eliza M. Williams, a widow, of Memphis, Tenn.

His eldest son, William Reid Dawson, died while a student at the University of Georgia, in the junior class.  The second child was Henry M. Dawson, who died at the age of three years.  Next came George Oscar Dawson, who became a lawyer of Greensboro and frequently represented the County of Greene in the State Legislature.  The fourth child was Henrietta Wingfield, who became the wife of Joseph B. Hill, of Columbus.

Edgar Gilmer Dawson, the fifth child, married the only daughter of Dr. William Terrell, of Sparta, an eminent physician and member of Congress.  Soon after being admitted to the bar, Mr. Dawson moved to Columbus.

Emma Caledonia, the sixth child married Edward W. Seabrook of South Carolina, the nephew of Gov. Seabrook.

Lucien Wingfield Dawson, the seventh and last child, became a lawyer of Greensboro and married Eliza, daughter of George Dent, of Athens.

19 May 2016

Macon's First Presbyterian Church

Bryan-Aldean Concert 2008 021Established in 1826, the First Presbyterian Church at Macon, Georgia today sits across from the Bibb County courthouse.  The church arose just three years after the city was chartered.  The building seen here on Mulberry Street was erected in 1858.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places, and had the distinction of being the tallest structure in Macon from 1858 until 1903, when the building of St. Joseph's Catholic Church was completed.

From historical marker:
Organized as the Presbyterian Church of Macon on June 18, 1826, by the Rev. Benjamin Gildersleeve and the Rev. Joseph C. Stiles, the church dedicated this house of worship, its third, on September 19, 1858, at the close of the ministry of the Rev. Robert L. Breck.  Mr. Stiles was the first pastor; Matthew Robertson and Samuel B. Hunter, ordained October 14, 1827, the first elders.

This church was host for formation of the Synod of Georgia in 1844 with Dr. Thomas Goulding, founder and first president of Columbia Seminary, as moderator.  His son, the Rev. Francis R. Goulding, author of The Young Marooners, served here in the 60's by preaching to the Negro members, who withdrew to form Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1866.  This is the Mother Church also of Tattnall Square (1887), Vineville (1904), and East Macon (1906).

It was the younger Goulding who took over the city-wide Thanksgiving service commanded here by Union General Wilson at the close of the War Between the States because the pastor, the Rev. David Willis, was overcome by the mockery of the occasion.  Goulding's service consisted of reading Psalm 137 "…For they that carried us away captive required of us a song…".

In the church vestibule is a plaque honoring Sidney Lanier, who was a member here.
As you can see from the map below, the First Presbyterian Church of Macon is not far from Rose Hill Cemetery.  In this cemetery, I would expect, is where many members of the congregation were laid to rest.

Two such members were Frederick F. and Julia Ann Lewis.  They were named as among the first members in an 1875 newspaper article.


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27 April 2016

Memorable Funeral for W. R. Clemons

Another one for my crime article / obituary / funeral notice obsession:

28 July 1887 Columbus Daily Enquirer (Georgia, pg. 1)
A Panic at the Funeral.
ATLANTA, July 27. -- The funeral of the murdered negro preacher, W. R. Clemons, this afternoon was the largest in Atlanta in a long time. Scores of whites and thousands of negroes followed the hearse to the grave, the body being preceded by military and colored organizations. A serious panic occurred in the church during the funeral. The church was jammed from wall to wall and the yard outside was filled. It is estimated that the crowd reached over 5000. During the services a portion of the floor cracked, and some one cried out that the building was giving way. In a moment the wildest confusion ensued. The doors were soon glutted and women and children were picked up and thrown over the heads of those in front, while a number jumped from the windows. But for the activity of the policemen who were present to preserve order, many would have been seriously hurt and doubtless many killed. As it was, they managed to check the rush at the doors and secure a more quiet emptying of the church. Many sustained unimportant injuries, but miraculously no serious casualties occurred. Various rumors are afloat as to the murderers of the preacher, but as yet nothing tangible has been discovered.

24 March 2016

Sheriff Wyatt's Jail in Greensboro

Almost three years ago, I wrote in this space about Greensboro, Georgia's Spooky Old Gaol.  This structure was used to house (and hang) criminals until about 1895.  At that time, a new jail was established.  After the death of legendary Sheriff L. L. Wyatt, that "new" jail (though more than eighty years old at the time of Wyatt's death) was given his name.

100_3774Outside the jail is a historical marker that tells the tale of the professional life of Sheriff Wyatt:


This 1895 jail is named for the legendary Sheriff, Loy Lee Wyatt, who enforced the laws in Greene County for fifty-two years until his death in 1977.  Sheriff L. L. Wyatt was born on January 2, 1904, in Paulding County.  He was recruited to serve the citizens of Greene County due to his fast legs and honest reputation.  In 1925, L. L. Wyatt began his law enforcement career as a Greene County policeman who waged a "one-man war" against the making of illegal corn whiskey.  Prior to his arrival, moonshine production was considered the leading industry in Greene County and its product was enjoyed in all of the finest hotels of Atlanta.  After having rid the County of its moonshiners, Wyatt ran for the Office of Sheriff in 1940 defeating the incumbent.  He served as Sheriff until he died in 1977.  At the time of his death he was the longest standing Sheriff in the State, with thirty-seven years of service.

During his 37 years as Sheriff, Wyatt became a legend in his own time.  Few men become legends and even fewer achieve the status of a "living legend" as did Sheriff Wyatt.  He was a religious man who believed that God blessed him with protection during all of his fights, gun battles, and dangerous encounters.  His law enforcement exploits exposed him to at least five gunshot wounds in the line of duty, in part due to the fact that he seldom carried a gun on his person, requiring him to retrieve it from his car at the sight of danger.  In the early days of his career, when

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100_3775moonshiners resisted arrest, Wyatt regularly shot it out with them.  He killed over a half dozen men, all of whom shot at him first.

The most famous gunfight of Sheriff Wyatt's career occurred in 1974.  He was 70 years old at the time.  Bank robbers eluded a 100-car police chase that started in Wrens, Georgia, and ended in Greene County.  The bank robbers had killed a teller at the bank in Wrens and had taken two women hostage.  Sheriff Wyatt set up a road block midway between Union Point and Greensboro.  Wyatt stood in the middle of the road as the speeding car approached.  The robbers attempted to shoot him, but the gun misfired.  One bank robber was killed in the ensuing battle, but both women were unharmed.  Sheriff Wyatt subsequently received the award of Peace Officer of the Year for his bravery in this incident.

Sheriff Wyatt was a family man, devoted to his wife, son, and grandchildren.  He was a businessman, lending his experience to the operation and affairs of the Citizens Union Bank as a director.  He was a community leader who had concern for all citizens – rich and poor, black and white.  Out of a concern for these people, legend has it that Sheriff Wyatt confronted a notorious member of the Dixie Maffia and proclaimed, "These are my people and I want you to leave them alone!"

Sheriff Wyatt, also known as Mr. Sheriff, was the epitome of a community oriented police officer long before such an idea was born and served as an example for every officer to follow."

According to his burial notice in the Augusta Chronicle (Georgia, 11 April 1977, sec. A, pg. 11, as viewed online at GenealogyBank), Loy Lee Wyatt died 8 April 1977 "after he was stricken with an apparent heart attack." The notice goes on to say, "During his tenure [as Sheriff], Wyatt gave Greene county a reputation as one [of] Georgia's most crime-free areas.  Along the way, he was shot five times and narrowly escaped death twice in car crashes during chases."

Sheriff Wyatt was laid to rest at Greensboro Cemetery.


22 March 2016

The Blue Ridge Mineral Springs

Mineral springs are naturally occurring springs that produce water containing minerals that some claim give it a therapeutic value.  Salts and sulfur compounds are among the substances that can be dissolved in the spring water while it travels underground.

Resorts sprang up around these springs in the 19th and early 20th centuries when it was popular for (usually wealthy) people to travel to such places and "take the waters." An 1886 newspaper article spoke of such a treasure in Whitfield County, Georgia, saying it contained "this pure medicinal beverage gushing from the Blue Ridge Mountains." Two counties over, due east of Whitfield, is Fannin.  In 1905, it was discovered the town of Blue Ridge in Fannin County had at least three mineral springs.  Rev. Joel Butts, pastor of the Blue Ridge Baptist Church found the springs, cleaned them out, and had the water analyzed.  It was determined that drinking the water from these springs would benefit one's general health because it contained magnesium, iron, and sulfur.

Walking trail along Mineral Springs Creek.According to, "today there are no longer any mineral springs available for visitors to submerge in, even though un-maintained springs still do exist on private property in the area if you know where to look." In April 2015, a walking trail was opened in a place where one of the springs could once be found.  According to an old picture on an informational marker along the trail, the spring was outfitted with what looks to be a gazebo, a common practice of the time.

The creek that runs through the area is simply called Mineral Springs Creek, and you can see where the mineral spring itself once was, as denoted on this map.

The walking trail is part of a very pretty and well kept 13 acres.  I've visited it a couple of times.  Walking along and listening to the quiet waters of the creek flow by is very peaceful.  It's also cool to think people have been coming to this same area for the same rejuvenating purposes for more than 100 years.  As local resident Eva Baugh said when describing the springs, "Even if you didn't drink the water, it was a good place to visit and gossip."

In the following image, the creek bank to the left is approximately where the spring once was.

Mineral Springs approximate location.

I've only known about the walking trail less than a month.  I read an article that stated the site was once a dump.  I don't know if that was to be taken figuratively or literally.  Whatever the case of the recent past may be, I'm glad the area was cleaned up to a space that can be enjoyed by many.  And I'm especially thankful the historical significance is not lost.

01 September 2015

The Monument to Col. Samuel Hammond

More than 100 years ago, a monument was placed in Augusta, Georgia in memory of Colonel Samuel Hammond. He was a patriot, a soldier, and a statesman who "gave 60 years of public service to the cause of America." It was the hope of Col. Hammond's grandson, Hugh Vernon Washington, that the momument be sculpted and located in Augusta. Unfortunately, he did not live to see it come to fruition. When the monument was presented to the city, it was by Ellen Washington Bellamy, Hugh's sister, on his behalf.


Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
29 March 1913, pg. 7

Monument to Patriot of Country's Early History Presented to Augusta by His Descendants


Accepted on Behalf of City by Mayor L. C. Hayne -- Exercises Presided Over by Judge William F. Eve -- Mrs. Bellamy, of Macon, One of Donors

The presentation to the city of Augusta of the monument to Col. Samuel Hammond of revolutionary fame was a most impressive event of yesterday afternoon. The granite boulder, upon which the heroic bronze bust of Colonel Hammond is to be placed, is erected on the 600 block of Greene Street. At the hour of 5 o'clock, a crowd of interested spectators gathered and the presentation ceremonies began upon the arrival of Mrs. Ellen Washington Bellamy, of Macon, who is one of the donors of the monument, the other donor being her brother, the late Hugh Vernon Washington, of Macon, a grandson of Colonel Hammond...

Mayor Hayne's Acceptance
..."For over a century his [Colonel Hammond's] remains have rested unmarked on the banks of our own Savannah, where the holiest requiems have continuously been sounded from the winds that blew over the grave of this intrepid hero, who dared to die, that his country might live...

Mrs. Bellamy Speaks
Mrs. Bellamy then spoke a few words of appreciation, explaining that it was the wish of her brother, the late Hugh Vernon Washington, of Macon, that this monument be erected in Augusta, whose history their illustrious ancestor helped to make, and that the monument was his gift as well as hers...[Entire article may be viewed online at GenealogyBank.]
According to, Samuel Hammond was born September 1757 in Richmond County, Virginia. He died at Varello, near Augusta, September 1842 (on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River).

Regarding Col. Hammond's Revolutionary War career, the monument provides:
The news article above implies Hammond's grave was unmarked in 1913. It is definitely marked now, with a military marker and a 5 foot pyramid. According to his FindAGrave memorial, "In 1991, the grave of Colonel Samuel Hammond was relocated to the Hammond Family Cemetery on the property of the Charles Hammond house in North Augusta, SC from it's original location 1.6 miles away in New Richmond, SC because of the development of the Riverview Park Complex."

12 May 2015

The Naming of Atlanta (Tombstone Tuesday)

Plainly put, Atlanta was built on the railroad. Lucian Lamar Knight, in Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends, says it this way:
...[T]he chief factors in Atlanta's phenomenal growth are the railway lines which converge at her civic center, there forming a web of steel, from the bi-focal points of which they radiate in every direction.
In an effort to connect railroad lines within the state, a point seven miles east of the Chattahoochee River was picked as a spot "best suited for running branch lines to various towns within the State." This point was called Terminus, defined as "an end point on a transportation line or the town in which it is located."

A man named Hardy Ivy was the first person to purchase a tract of land and build a shanty, before the town was surveyed, in 1836. It wasn't until 1842, when a new track was tested -- and considered a success, that the town began to really come to life with the building of new stores and churches.

Wilson Lumpkin, an ex-Governor of the state, was at this time one of the commissioners appointed to supervise the building of the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Lumpkin helped re-survey the land, fixed a site for the depot, and negotiated enough property for terminal facilities. Many wanted to rename the town after Lumpkin in appreciation for the prominent part he played in laying off several land lots. He refused, so people circumvented his protest a bit by renaming the town after his youngest daughter, Martha.

In This Spot Set Apart By The City Is Buried
Martha Lumpkin Compton
August 25, 1827 - February 13, 1917
Wife Of Thomas M. Compton
Daughter Of Governor Wilson Lumpkin
And His Wife Annis Hopson Lumpkin
In Honor Of This Lady, Atlanta Was
Once Named Marthasville

Oakland Cemetery at Atlanta, Georgia

(Associated Press)
DECATUR, GA, Feb 13 -- Mrs. Martha Lumpkin Compton, after whom the city of Atlanta was twice named died at her home here tonight at the age of 90 years. In 1844 the village now called Atlanta, was named Marthasville in her honor. Four years later it was named Atlanta after the nickname of "Atalanta," which Mrs. Compton's father, Governor Wilson Lumpkin had given her. [Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama), 14 February 1917]