18 February 2014

Lemuel Penn and the Civil Rights Act (Tombstone Tuesday)

Here's a piece of Georgia history of which I was unaware. (Originally posted at the Southern Graves blog.)

Photo by David Seibert via HMdb.org
"On the night of July 11, 1964 three African-American World War II veterans returning home following training at Ft. Benning, Georgia were noticed in Athens by local members of the Ku Klux Klan. The officers were followed to the nearby Broad River Bridge where their pursuers fired into the vehicle, killing Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn. When a local jury failed to convict the suspects of murder, the federal government successfully prosecuted the men for violations under the new Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed just nine days before Penn’s murder. The case was instrumental in the creation of a Justice Department task force whose work culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1968."

As you likely (and correctly) surmise, the Klan was unprovoked and the jury that failed to convict was all white.

Lemuel Penn rests at Arlington Cemetery.

Educator Buried in Arlington

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Lemuel Augustus Penn, Negro educator who was slain by a sniper's shotgun blast as he drove through Georgia, was buried Tuesday with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery, the nation's resting ground for its heroes...

Photo by John Evans via
Penn, 48, who was in charge of the District of Columbia's five vocational high schools, was shot early Saturday morning near Athens, Ga., while returning to Washington after two weeks of reserve training at Ft. Benning, Ga...

According to the two Reserve officers accompanying Penn, the unexplained and apparently unprovoked shooting was done by a man who drove alongside their car in a rural section of the state, fired twice, then fled. Authorities assume the slaying was racially motivated.

Penn,...is survived by his wife Georgia and three children,...

During the services in the hot, crowded church, the Rev. Stanford J. Harris said Penn was a 'casualty of our battle against bigotry' and his death a reflection of the 'cancerous prejudice eating away at American democracy.'..." [Dallas Morning News (Texas), 15 July 1964, pg. 8 via GenealogyBank.]

02 February 2014

Confederate Monuments of Savannah's Forsyth Park

"The chief pleasure-ground of Savannah is Forsyth Park..."

So sayeth famed Georgia historian Lucian Lamar Knight in his 1914 publication,
Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends.

He also writes of the Confederate monuments located within the park: "On an artificial mound, in the center of the park, stands the Confederate monument, a handsome structure of brown stone, and one of the earliest memorials in Georgia dedicated to the heroes of the Lost Cause..."

"To the north of this handsome pile, is a column, perhaps five feet in height, on which rests a marble bust of Major-General Lafayette McLaws..."

"...while to the south is a similar tribute to Brigadier-General Francis S. Bartow."

01 February 2014

Monument to a Georgia Railway Pioneer, William Washington Gordon

Standing in Savannah's Wright Square (also known as Court House Square) is an impressive monument to a Georgia railway pioneer, William Washington Gordon. Here's what Lucian Lamar Knight has to say about the man and the monument:

"One of the most beautiful monuments in the city of Savannah is the handsome structure of marble, in Court House square, commemorating the useful life of the great pioneer of railway development in Georgia: William Washington Gordon. He died at the early age of forty-six. But he gave the most lasting impetus to the material upbuilding of his native State and accomplished a work of constructive value which was destined to live after him. As the first president of Georgia's earliest railway enterprise, his genius was initiative. He was not only a pathfinder but a builder of splendid highways. Much of the subsequent history of railroads in Georgia has been only the ultimate outgrowth of his pioneer activities; and if Georgia owes much to railroads then her debt of obligation to the man who inaugurated the era of railway enterprise in this State is beyond computation...

The Gordon monument in Savannah is unique. Resting upon a solid pedestal of granite, it consists of four handsome columns of Scotch marble. These enclose at the base an urn of artistic workmanship and support at the top a globe of great weight..."1

© 2010-14 S. Lincecum

William Washington Gordon, according to the monument inscription, was born 17 January 1796. He died 20 March 1842, and was buried in Savannah's Laurel Grove Cemetery.

1. Ancestry.com. Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends [images on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Original data: Knight, Lucian Lamar. Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends. Atlanta, Ga.: Printed for the author by the Byrd Print. Co., state printers, 1913-1914.

07 July 2013

Louisville Market House & the Sale of Slaves, to wit: Winn, Tartar, Cato, Frank, Maria, Chaney, Bryson, Savannah, and Vienna

Market House at Louisville, Georgia
Photo © 2013 S. Lincecum

1772 Bell

Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
12 July 1823, pg. 2

Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
3 December 1845, pg. 4

27 June 2013

Fort Augusta

Overlooking the Savannah River, from the rear of St. Paul's Church, stands a cross of Celtic design which marks the birth-place of the present city of Augusta. It was on this spot, at the head of navigation, that the great founder of the Colony caused a fort to be erected in 1736... (Lucian Lamar Knight, 1914)

"Fort Augusta dischar[g]ed the very highest functions for which military armaments are intended. It kept the peace throughout the whole Colonial time, up to the breaking out of the Revolution and, indeed, until 1781. It fulfilled its first purpose -- a mission of peace..." (Dr. C. C. Williams, quoted by L. L. Knight, 1914)

Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum.
Source of text: Ancestry.com. Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends [images on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Original data: Knight, Lucian Lamar. Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends. Atlanta, Ga.: Printed for the author by the Byrd Print. Co., state printers, 1913-1914.

24 June 2013

Greensboro's Spooky Old "Gaol" (1807-1895)

It sits ominously behind the Greene County courthouse... [Cue Twilight Zone music.]

I'm referring to Greensboro's Old Gaol (that's pronounced "jail"). It was built in 1807, "patterned after the bastilles where prisoners were housed and punished...Built of granite about two feet thick, it is two stories in height and has a trap door in the floor of the upper story where condemned prisoners were hanged. An iron bar supported the trap door. When the signal was given, the hangman pulled the lever that controlled the bar and the culprit was launched into eternity...It was used as a jail until about 1895." [from historical marker]

While I felt no uneasiness around the structure, I still would describe it as one spooky sight. Here's an article from the 4 November 1873 Macon Telegraph (Georgia) describing a (botched?) hanging:

"THE last Greensboro Herald has a long account of the hanging of George Copelan, negro, last Friday, for the murder of Miss S. A. Richards in May, 1871, from which we quote as follows:

[a description of the crime was given by the condemned man]...At precisely 12 o'clock, the sheriff cut the cord that held the trap-door; the rope broke and he fell with a crash down the stairway, caught in a sitting posture, and remained silent and motionless; not a tremor shook his frame; his countenance was placid, and indicated no pain whatever. He seemed in a perfect sleep. At fifteen minutes past twelve, he was again drawn up, making a gutteral sound and struggling considerably. In four minutes he ceased to struggle, at the expiration of the fifth minute a slight tremor struck him and he drew one breath. In fifteen minutes his pulse ceased, but his heart still beat feebly. At thirty minutes it was doubtful whether there was any pulsation, at thirty-five minutes Mr. Walker again detected pulsation at the heart, at ten minutes past one life was pronounced extinct. No blame attaches to the sheriff for the accident to the rope. It was large and deemed strong enough by all who saw it."

I don't want to stir the pot, so to speak, but has anyone ever heard of this place being haunted? I have no evidence to support this, but it just seems like if there ever was such a place to ascribe the adjective...

...this place would be it. Maybe "haunting" is a better way to state it.

(Photos © 2013 S. Lincecum.)

22 June 2013

William C. Dawson: Grand Master of Masons in Georgia

[Originally posted at the Southern Graves blog.]

William Crosby Dawson
via Wikipedia
I headed out before the sun came up one morning several days ago to visit a few cities with roots in early Georgia history. My first stop was Greensboro, the seat of Greene County. It was first chartered in 1786, and later incorporated in 1803. I parked in front of the courthouse with every intention of walking around the back to take a peek at the old jail. Even though it was raining, I was sidetracked by a marker in front of the courthouse detailing the life of William C. Dawson. After reading it, I snapped a picture and moved on. Little did I know, I would visit Mr. Dawson again a bit later...in the cemetery, of course!

William C. Dawson marker in front of
Greene County's 1849 courthouse.
Marker reads: William C. Dawson (1798-1856), Statesman -- Soldier -- Jurist -- Freemason: "A native of Greene County, then on Georgia's Indian frontier, he was educated in the law and admitted to the bar in 1818. The remainder of his exemplary life was spent in the public service as Legislator, Captain of Volunteers in the Indian War of 1836 in Florida, Judge of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, Congressman, and U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1849 to 1855.

A member and officer of historic San Marino Lodge No. 34, F & A. M. Greensboro, GA, first chartered in 1821 and which lodge has had its quarters atop the Greene County courthouse here since 1849, Brother Dawson served as Grand Master of Masons in Georgia from 1843 until his death in Greensboro on 6 May 1856. Two cities and one county in Georgia are named for him. Also named in his honor are two Masonic lodges: Dawson No. 68, F & A. M. Social Circle, GA, and Dawson No. 16, F. A. A. M. at Washington, D.C.

One of the most beloved, respected and distinguished grand masters in Georgia's long Masonic history his honored remains lie in the city cemetery near this spot. His entire life was a testimonial to his devotion to his fellowman, his country and to the sublime precepts of Freemasonry. His name will always be revered by the Freemasons of Georgia."

A short time later I was in Greensboro City cemetery, and even though I wasn't purposefully looking for it, visiting the grave of William Crosby Dawson.

was born on the 4th day of January, 1798,
and died on the 6th day of May, 1856.
Bred to the Bar, he entered upon his profession in
1818, and prosecuted it successfully until his death.

an eloquent Advocate, and an upright Judge.  Cautious, practical
and independent, as a Statesman; he commanded confidence by the
frankness of his manners, the purity of his motives, and the wisdom
of his counsels.

for his fidelity to her numerous trusts.
it because he was kind and liberal to them,
it because as Husband, Parent and Master, he was
affectionate, considerate, gentle and true.

Upon his death, obituaries appeared in newspapers all over the country. I read several from up and down the east coast, including Maryland and New York. The following is an example of the opening paragraph found in many. This one from South Carolina's Charleston Courier (8 May 1856, pg. 2):

"We are called on to announce the decease of one of Georgia's most honored citizens of public station and renown, and one who had worn fitly and faithfully the highest honors of the State. The Hon. William Crosby Dawson expired at an early hour on Tuesday, the 6th inst., at his residence in Greensboro, Ga., of an attack of bilious cholic."

All photos, sans the one credited to Wikipedia, are © 2013 S. Lincecum.