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]

11 May 2015

Park for Nancy Hart, a Revolutionary Heroine

Lucian Lamar Knight described her as an "undaunted queen of the forest..."

On Wahatche (War Woman) Creek, in Revolutionary times, lived Nancy
Morgan Hart, her husband, Benjamin, and their children.  Six feet tall,
masculine in strength and courage, Nancy Hart was a staunch patriot, a
deadly shot, a skilled doctor, and a good neighbor.  A spy for the colonists,
she is credited with capturing several Tories.  Later, with her son, John, and
his family, she joined a wagon train to Henderson County, Kentucky,
where she is buried...A replica of her log home, with chimney stones from the
original, is in the Nancy Hart Park, [in Elbert County.]

"The most famous story of Hart's escapades as a frontier patriot began when a group of six (some accounts say five) Tories came to her cabin and demanded information concerning the location of a certain Whig leader. Only minutes earlier, the Whig, hotly pursued by the Tories, had stopped by the Hart cabin and enlisted Hart's aid as he made his escape. Hart insisted that no one had passed through her neck of the woods for days. Convinced that she was lying, one of the Tories shot and killed Hart's prized gobbler. After ordering her to cook the turkey, the Tories entered the cabin, stacked their weapons in the corner, and demanded something to drink. Hart obliged them by opening her jugs of wine. Once the Tories began to feel the intoxicating effects of the wine, Hart sent her daughter Sukey to the spring for a bucket of water. Hart secretly instructed her to blow a conch shell, which was kept on a nearby stump, to alert the neighbors that Tories were in the cabin.

As Hart served her unwanted guests, she frequently passed between them and their stacked weapons. Inconspicuously, she began to pass the loaded muskets, one by one, through a chink in the cabin wall to Sukey, who had by this time slipped around to the rear of the building. When the Tories noticed what she was doing and sprang to their feet, Hart threatened to shoot the first man who moved a foot. Ignoring her warning, one Tory lunged forward, and Hart pulled the trigger, killing the man. Seizing another weapon, she urged her daughter to run for help. Hart shot a second Tory who made a move toward the stacked weapons and held off the remaining loyalists until her husband and several others arrived. Benjamin Hart wanted to shoot the Tories, but Hart wanted them to hang. Consequently the remaining Tories were hanged from a nearby tree. In 1912 workmen grading a railroad near the site of the old Hart cabin unearthed a neat row of six skeletons that lay under nearly three feet of earth and were estimated to have been buried for at least a century. This discovery seemed to validate the most oft-told story of the Hart legend." [snippet from New Georgia Encyclopedia article, "Nancy Hart (ca. 1735-1830)"]

Click here for Nancy's FindAGrave memorial.

Update! Here's another tidbit I learned from Lucian Lamar Knight:
Hartford One of Georgia's Lost Towns.
Hartford, the first county-seat of Pulaski, formerly stood on a high bluff of the Ocmulgee River, just opposite the site of the present [1913] town of Hawkinsville. It is today numbered among the dead towns of Georgia, but in the early days of the State it was an Indian trading post of very great importance, on what was then the frontier...The town was named for Nancy Hart, the celebrated heroine of the Revolution. In 1837, the court-house was removed from Hartford to Hawkinsville, dating from which event the fortunes of the little border stronghold began to decline, until it became at last only a dim memory of the remote past; and there survives today but a few fragmentary remains to mark the spot.

02 May 2015

Heardmont: the Home of Gov. Stephen Heard

Gov. Heard's Home
Off this road lies the site of Heardmont, home of Governor Stephen Heard,
1740 - 1815, and "God's Acre," the family cemetery where he lies buried.  A
ten acre park surrounding the site is owned and maintained by the Stephen
Heard Chapter, D.A.R.  A Virginian of Irish descent, Heard came to Georgia,
establishing Heard's Fort, now Washington, Ga., in 1773, and fighting with
Gen. Elijah Clarke at the Battle of Kettle Creek where he was captured.
As President of the Council, he was de facto Governor for a period in 1781.
After moving to Heardmont he was one of three who selected the site of

"Near the outskirts of the little town of Heardmont, in the eastern part of [Elbert] county, stood the old home of Stephen Heard, the founder of Washington and one of the most noted of Georgia's early patriots and pioneers. It was called Heardmont, from the name of the owner. The residence is said to have been the first lathed and plastered house in this part of the State, and when the contractors were building it people came miles to see the handsome structure. In appearance it was not unlike the old Heard house at Washington, with a double veranda enclosed by tall columns. The furniture was of solid mahogany purchased in London. The home was destroyed years ago. But the little cemetery is still to be seen and the monuments are well preserved." [Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends by Lucian Lamar Knight (1914), pg. 537]

Gov. Heard's Grave
Stephen Heard, Governor of Georgia in 1781, lawyer, planter, surveyor
and soldier of the Revolution, lies buried in this family cemetery...Heard's
home "Heardmont" once stood nearby...

In the family burial ground at Heardmont lie the mortal remains of the old patriot. The inscription on his tomb is as follows:
Sacred to the memory of Colonel Stephen Heard. He was a soldier of the American Revolution, and fought with the great Washington for the liberties of his country. He died on the 15th of November, 1815, in the 75th year of his age, beloved and lamented by all who knew him. "An honest man is the noblest work of God."

All photos © 2011-15 S. Lincecum.