06 October 2016

Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah

100_7968Originally the parish burial-ground of Christ Church, some of the earliest inhabitants of the Colony of Georgia here sleep…On the moldering tombstones of the little cemetery there are scores of historic names, not a few of which are still bright on the muster rolls of the Revolution; but Whigs and Tories alike lie here entombed.  For more than fifty years after Georgia became a State, men of distinction in every sphere of life were here laid to rest in the very core of Savannah's heart.  Just when the first burial was made in Old Colonial is uncertain; but three distinct eras have contributed to the treasury of sacred dust which this little plot of ground contains – Colonial, Revolutionary, and Commonwealth.  No interments have been made here since the early [eighteen] fifties; but it was not until 1895 that by decree of the Superior Court of Chatham County it became the property of the city of Savannah.  With this transfer of title, an old issue between the parish and the town was happily adjusted, the walls on three sides were taken down, a competent force of workmen employed to repair the tombs, to open new walks, and to beautify the grounds; and thus out of the remnants of Colonial Cemetery emerged what is today known as Colonial Park.


100_7967…Here, at almost any hour of the day, when the weather is pleasant, may be seen groups of little children, playing hide and seek among the tombs; energetic business men moving briskly along the walks which afford them convenient passage-ways to points beyond; or sightseers strolling leisurely over the green-carpeted area to read the inscriptions upon the ancient monuments.  Some of the oldest of the tombstones have disappeared forever.  Others rescued in broken fragments have been placed against the brick wall which still remains.  It is only fair to historic truth to state that the agencies of time, in producing this harvest of ruin, were re-enforced by the vandalism of Sherman's men, during the last year of the Civil War.  Not content with rifling the vaults for silver, they even made them abodes of habitation, emulating in this respect the example of a certain demoniac who lived at Gadara; and to judge from the mutilation of epitaphs the latter were no less possessed of unclean spirits than were the former.  ~ Lucian Lamar Knight, Georgia Historian, 1914





30 September 2016

Moravians in Appalachian Georgia

Scarcely a vestige today survives in the way of a memorial to tell of the brief sojourn in this State of the pious Moravians.  But the early annals of Georgia are too fragrant with the memories of this sweet-spirited sect to justify any omission of them in this historical retrospect…The missionary activities of the Moravians among the Georgia Indians were successful in a marked degree; and, with little opposition from the red men of the forest, who learned to trust them with implicit confidence, they penetrated far into the Blue Ridge Mountains and established at Spring Place, in what is now Murray County, a mission which exerted a powerful influence among the native tribes, converting not a few chiefs and warriors, and continuing to flourish down to the final deportation of the Cherokees, in 1838…[Georgia historian, Lucian Lamar Knight, abt 1914]

A couple of informational markers were placed near the Moravian Missionary Cemetery at Springplace to further commemorate the mission site.  In 1931, a rough hewn stone block was set, with a plaque declaring, "the Moravian Mission to the Cherokee Indians was Erected Near this Spot…" Twenty-two years later the Georgia Historical Society again marked the area:


As the marker states, the mission was founded in 1801 "by Moravian Brethren from Salem, N.C." It's worth noting, this was not the first time the Moravians entered the state of Georgia.  A group first came in 1735, part of a "worldwide missionary campaign during the mid-eighteenth century to unite Christians and convert non-Christians." [New Georgia Encyclopedia] The settlement was at Savannah, but only lasted ten years.  Many say the Moravians left after being pressured to take up arms against Spain, but others suggest the disintegration resulted from internal strife.

Though there are records of members of the Cherokee Nation converting to the Moravian religion, the numbers were not great.  There seems to have been more of an interest in education on the part of the Natives.

The Springplace Moravian Cemetery, also known as "God's Acre," contains virtually no tombstones.  Nonetheless, it's quite moving to stand at its center and read these powerful words:

Surrounding you underneath are the graves of these nine people as well as those of several unknown individuals.

100_0366· Cherokee Principal Chief Charles R. Hicks (d. 20 January 1827) served as Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1817-1827.  In 1827, when Principal Chief Pathkiller died, Hicks rose to the position of Principal Chief.  Less than two weeks later, Hicks was also dead.  He had attended the council at New Echota, even though he was ill.  On his way home, Principal Chief Hicks camped in the woods and took on a more serious cold due to dampness.

· Margaret "Peggy" Vann Crutchfield (d. 18 October 1820) was the niece of Principal Chief Charles R. Hicks.  She was married to James Vann at the time of his murder in 1809.  Peggy became the first convert in the Cherokee Nation on 13 August 1810.  She later married Vann's former overseer, Joseph Crutchfield.  From a Moravian Mission diary:  "Toward the evening there was a marked change for the worse in Peggy Vann's condition.  While singing about salvation her soul passed from us.  Not only was she enthusiastic for the Savior, but also a real example for good within her Nation.  Over one hundred came to attend the funeral service."

· Minerva Vann (d. 3 May 1833) was a child of Joseph Vann (son of James) and Jennie Springston. From a Moravian Mission diary:  "Toward noon I arrived at the Vann's.  They were in tears over the death of their five-month-old daughter, who died of whooping cough."

God's Acre

· Robert Howell (d. 31 January 1834), a brick mason from Virginia, was hired by James Vann to oversee the construction of the Chief Vann house in 1803-1804.  Two of Howell's brothers may also rest in God's Acre.

The other five known burials are Dawnee Watie, a Cherokee student, d. 27 September 1812; Missionary Anna Rosina Gambold, b. 1 May 1762, d. 19 February 1821; the infant child of Rose, a servant, d. 15 October 1816; Mrs. Nicholson, wife of Joseph Vann's overseer, d. 7 December 1829; and Christian Jacob, born in Africa, d. 8 December 1829.

A couple of miles away from the Springplace Moravian Mission Cemetery is the Chief Vann house and plantation grounds.



Dr. George R. Lamplugh wrote the following in his review of Tiya Miles' The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story:

Cherokee entrepreneur James Vann built the first house on Diamond Hill in 1801, a much cruder structure than the current one, and he invited missionaries from the Moravian Church in Salem, North Carolina, to found a Christian mission and school at the site, which they named Spring Place…

Vann lived in the house on Diamond Hill with his mother, Wali; several Cherokee wives, the most important of whom was Peggy Scott Vann; and his children.  James’ favorite son, Joseph (later known as “Rich Joe”) Vann, inherited the home, and his slaves built the famous brick manor house that still survives.

Fascinating history, to say the least.

Springplace Moravian Mission Cemetery

17 September 2016

Fannin County, Georgia: Named for Col. J. W. Fannin

James W. Fannin.  Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.James Walker Fannin was born 1 January 1804, the son of a Morgan County, Georgia plantation owner named Dr. Isham Fannin.  At the age of 15, James Walker entered the military academy at West Point in New York.  He resigned six years later.  He then returned to Georgia, became a merchant, and got married.

In 1834, J. W. Fannin moved his family to Texas.  Less than a year later, likely because of his ties to the state, "Fannin was appointed by the Committee of Public Safety and Correspondence, an assembly of prominent Texans seeking independence from Mexico, to solicit funds and supplies from sympathizers in Georgia…" [New Georgia Encyclopedia] Fannin became a captain in the Texas volunteer army, and by the end of 1835, was commissioned a colonel in the Texas regular army.  Soon after, he was given command of a regiment containing many volunteers from Georgia.

"By February 12, 1836, Fannin had marched his regiment to Goliad, an old Spanish fort on the southwest bank of the San Antonio River…" [New Georgia Encyclopedia]

Fannin at Goliad: Story of the Brutal Massacre of 1836

As told by Lucian Lamar Knight in Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (vol. 2):

ONE of the most brutal massacres of history was the inhuman sacrifice of life at Goliad during the war for Texas independence, in 1836.  Colonel James W. Fannin, who lost his life in the massacre, was a native Georgian, who, removing to Texas in 1834, raised a company, which he called the Brazos Volunteers, and joined the army of General Houston.  On the fall of the Alamo, Fannin received orders from his commander to destroy the Spanish fort at Goliad and to fall back to Victoria.  He delayed his retreat for some time, in order to collect the women and children of the neighborhood, whose lives were exposed to imminent peril.  But he finally set out for Goliad with 350 men.

En route to this point he was overtaken by General Urrea, at the head of 1,200 Mexican troops.  There followed a battle which lasted for two days, during which time the Mexicans lost between 300 and 400 in killed and wounded, and the Texans only about 70; but Fannin, having been wounded in the engagement, was forced by the exigencies of the situation to surrender.  He agreed to capitulate only on condition that his troops should be paroled.  But, instead of being set at liberty, they were marched to Goliad as prisoners of war, and, on March 27, 1836, in pursuance of orders said to have been received from Santa Anna, were, in the absence of General Urrea, massacred in cold blood.

Per the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

[O]n Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, more than 330 Georgians, Texans, and others imprisoned at Goliad were marched out into the woods and shot. While some prisoners escaped the massacre, Fannin was kept inside the fort. He was taken to the courtyard, where he was blindfolded, seated, and shot through the head. His body was burned. During the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, Fannin's watch was discovered in the possession of a Mexican officer. The officials who found it assumed the Mexican was responsible for Fannin's murder; he thus met death in a like manner as Fannin.

Per History in the Headlines:

The injured Fannin was the last to be slaughtered. His three dying wishes were to be shot in the chest, given a Christian burial and have his watch sent to his family. Instead, the Mexican commanding officer shot Fannin in the face, burned his body with the others and kept the timepiece as a war prize.

Several places were named in Fannin's honor.  One such place is Fannin County, Georgia, created in 1854.  In 1895, Blue Ridge became the county seat.


Courthouse in the image above dates to 1937.  It now houses the arts association.  Below is the new courthouse.


Downtown Blue Ridge today:

Blue Ridge Georgia

01 September 2016

A Duel Between Colored Men

duelbetweencoloredmenSome say the custom of dueling had as its home, the antebellum South.  I think most of us would admit, when we think of a duel, we picture two white men.  But that wasn't the case 100% of the time.  Here is a newspaper article telling the details of the summer of 1868 duel between Jackson Brand and Eugene Morehead, both of Savannah, Georgia.  (Image is of a shorter article printed in Michigan's Jackson Citizen.) There is one commonality amongst all the duels I've covered, including this one:  politics.

Daily Constitutionalist (Augusta, Georgia)
5 June 1868 [via GenealogyBank]

From the Savannah News & Herald, 4th.

Duel Between two Colored Men – One Killed.

A duel was fought yesterday at Screven's Ferry, on the Carolina shore, between two colored men of this city, respectively named Jackson Brand and Eugene Morehead, which resulted in the death of the former.

The facts, as far as could be ascertained, are as follows:  Jackson Brand was President of the Colored Conservative Club No. 1 and Eugene Morehead Vice-President.  Brand was not long ago a violent Radical and a member of the Union League, but changed his politics and became an ardent supporter of the Conservative principles.  Among the members in the Conservative club of which he was president, were  a few who believed he was playing a double game, among them was Morehead, who kept a close watch upon him.  On Monday last Morehead observed Brand leaving the house of a noted Radical, and at once accused him of double dealing, and said, among other things, that he (Brand) had made a speech in the Loyal League, in which he had stated that it was his intention to wash his hands in the blood of every Southern man.  Brand denied the charge and a hot quarrel ensued, which, but for the interposition of friends, would have terminated in a fight on the spot.  They separated, and the next day (Tuesday) Brand sent a challenge to mortal combat to Morehead, Alex. Hardee, Secretary of the Conservative club, bearing the missive.  On handing the note to Morehead, Hardee was asked by him what it was all about.  Hardee replied that it was a challenge to fight, and that Brand had sent it, whereupon Morehead, who is unable to read or write, asked Hardee to read it, which was done.  Morehead then asked Hardee to write an acceptance of the challenge, and state that he would choose double barrelled [sic] shot guns, loaded with sixteen buckshot, the distance sixteen paces, and the duel at Screven's Ferry the next morning at 7 o'clock.  The challenge was written, carried, agreed to, and every preparation made for the meeting on the "field of honor" the next morning.

Early yesterday morning found the parties on their way to the ground.  Brand was accompanied by his second, Alex. Hardee, and Morehead by his, [Haine Spearlug?].  There were about a dozen friends along but no surgeon.  About a quarter past nine the preliminaries were arranged and the opponents placed opposite each other, fifteen paces distant, with double barrelled guns, one barrel of each being loaded with sixteen buckshot.  Brand seemed somewhat nervous, while Morehead was perfectly cool and collected.  At the command both simultaneously fired, and Brand fell, exclaiming "I'm not whipped yet," while at the same time was heard the exultant shout of Morehead, "By God, I've got him," and afterwards he remarked that Brand seemed so "scared like" that he thought he would not kill him but shoot him in the legs and give him time to repent of his treachery.  Brand's second went to him as soon as he fell, and found that the charge from Morehead's gun had entered both thighs.  Brand was quite weak from the loss of blood, and he could not stand up, but said if his second would hold him up he would exchange shots again.  His second very properly refused to allow any further hostilities.  Morehead then walked over to where Brand was lying, and shook hands with him.  With the assistance of Morehead and the others, Brand was carried to the boat, and brought to the city, and then placed in a vehicle and carried to his house near the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Depot.  Drs. Bulloch and Morrison were sent for, but the sufferer had been so long without medical aid, that their skill was unavailing, excepting to alleviate the pain, and he died at a quarter to twelve, two hours and a half after receiving the wound, which severed one, and probably both of the femoral arteries.

Dr. Myers, coroner, held an inquest at half past three o'clock.  The seconds of the parties testified substantially as above stated, and Drs. Bulloch and Morrison that they had been called in, and found the wounded man very weak from loss of blood, and that so much blood had been lost, that it was impossible to save him.  The jury rendered a verdict as follows:  "We find that the deceased came to his death from a gun-shot wound inflicted from the hands of Eugene Morehead, in a duel on the South Carolina shore."

The deceased, who is about 35 years old, will be buried to-day.

From parties who were present at the duel, we learn that each of the duelists seemed determined to shoot the other, but the nervousness of Brand made him miss.  Both parties were advised not to go, but would not heed the advice.  Their neglect in not providing a surgeon was most criminal, and caused the death of Brand who otherwise would now, most probably, be alive and out of danger.  We understand that Morehead, upon being asked why surgeons had not been obtained, replied that he went to one, and he charged fifty dollars, and "I couldn't afford it; anyway, I didn't intend to be killed, and I thought the other fellow would have sense enough to bring one."

Jackson Brand was laid to rest at Laurel Grove Cemetery South in Savannah.  According to the inscription on his tombstone, broken and lying on the ground in 2012, Jackson was 39 years old at death.  His stone was Erected By his affectionate Wife, Sarah Brand.


31 August 2016

"He was Game to the Core." The Stabbing of Alexander Stephens.

Alexander Stephens (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons.A couple of years ago, I wrote a bit about Judge Francis H. Cone (here and here) and his tombstone at the Southern Graves blog.  The physical attack he made on Alexander H. Stephens (pictured at right) is a well-known incident in Georgia history, yet I did not delve into it there.  While working my way through Lucian Lamar Knight's volumes of Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, I came across a recounting of the fight.  I'll share it here.

Judge Cone's Assault Upon Mr. Stephens.  Alexander H. Stephens was not an athlete.  It is doubtful if the former Confederate Vice-President ever tipped the scales at more than ninety-six pounds, his exact weight in 1843, when he made his maiden speech in the national House of Representatives.  Throughout his long career in public life, he presented the typical look of an invalid, wan and emaciated.  But Mr. Stephens was an utter stranger to the sense of fear, either moral or physical.  He was game to the core; and every ounce of flesh which gripped his spare bones contained as much real pluck as Caesar ever displayed in Gaul.

Let me interject a moment here with some words from a newspaper article titled "Sketches of Georgia Lawyers: Number Five: Francis H. Cone." This article appeared in the 14 June 1867 edition of Georgia's Macon Weekly Telegraph (viewed online at GenealogyBank), and provides a physical description of Cone.  It's interesting to imagine the two combatants side-by-side.

...His person was rather remarkable -- of medium height, full habited and heavy. His face was round and rubicund. No one would mistake him for a starveling -- nor yet for a bon vicant...He relished a glass of wine or other like creature comforts, but was by no means a devotee of Bacchus. His large fleshy face was lit up by eyes black and sparkling, the visible testimonials of geniality and genius. He wore, too, a fine head of hair, which he was accustomed to neglect. He had not the presence of majesty. He did not assume the port of Jove, nor emulate the beauty and grace of Apollo. His gait was shuffling and his manners rough -- something uncouth...

Back to Mr. L. L. Knight:

On the steps of the old Thompson Hotel, in Atlanta, during the fall of 1848, there occurred an incident which well illustrates the courage of Mr. Stephens.  It will also serve to show that he bore a charmed life.  At this time he encountered somewhat unexpectedly Judge Francis H. Cone, of Greensboro, with whom he was then on strained terms.  Judge Cone had severely criticized Mr. Stephens for something which the latter had either said or done in Congress, and among other choice epithets which the Judge is said to have used was the term "traitor".

Difficulties almost immediately ensued…Judge Cone, delving underneath his broadcloth, whipped out a knife with which he made a leap toward Mr. Stephens.  The later was doubly at a disadvantage, not only because in avoirdupois he was a pigmy beside Judge Cone, but also because he was unarmed, except for an umbrella which shot out from his left elbow…Mr. Stephens sought to parry the blow of Judge Cone; but he was soon overpowered by his antagonist and fell bleeding upon the floor.

"Retract!" demanded the irate jurist, who now bent over his prostrate foe.

"Never!" replied Mr. Stephens, the blood gurgling from his wounds, but the proud spirit of the man still unquenched.  Again the knife descended, severing an intercostal artery, but Mr. Stephens still refused to retract.  He continued to grapple with his adversary…until at last rescue came from some hotel guests who, hastening to the scene of the encounter, separated the belligerents.

Mr. Stephens hovered on the brink of death for weeks, but eventually "arose from his sick bed" and returned to politics.  Mr. Knight goes on to say Judge Cone was "a man much beloved in his social and domestic relations, [and] it may be said that he was completely upset by his violent anger." Not sure what good that did for Mr. Stephens, who never fully regained the use of his right hand and bore scars from the battle for life.

Francis H. Cone died 11 years after the brutal encounter.  He was laid to rest in Greensboro City Cemetery at Greene County, Georgia.


To The Memory of the
Hon. Francis H. Cone
1797 - 1859

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

24 August 2016

Peter Crawford was Disparaged, and His Son Took Exception

I don't know what was said, but apparently George W. Crawford thought his father was being maligned in an anonymous "letter to the editor" published in an Augusta, Georgia newspaper some time in 1827.  The editor refused to reveal the author of the political rant – some say it was a woman – which angered Crawford even more.

Eventually, a young lawyer named Thomas E. Burnside stepped forward and took responsibility.  Almost immediately, George Crawford, in defense of the his father's honor, challenged Burnside to a duel.

[Burnside] seems to have been reluctant to fight, but at a time when the Code Duello was in vogue, he well knew the consequences to himself and to his political fortunes, should he refuse to meet his antagonist on the field.  He, therefore, accepted the challenge and repaired at once to the scene of combat.  But, on the night before the fatal meeting…he dispatched the following note to Mrs. Burnside:

…Dear Wife and Mother:
Tomorrow I fight.  I do it on principle.  Whatever may be my fate, I believe I am right.  On this ground I have acted and will act.  I believe I shall succeed, but if I do not I am prepared for consequences.  Kiss the children and tell them that if I fall my last thought was of them.  Yours most affectionately, THOMAS E. BURNSIDE.

Lucian Lamar Knight, historian for the state of Georgia, after writing the quote above about 1914, described Burnside's note as a "pathetic fragment."

burnside-crawfordduelThe story of the duel was covered in seemingly every newspaper, and they all recounted it just as was published in the 19 January 1828 South Carolina State Gazette [via GenealogyBank]:

Duel – On Tuesday last, Messrs. Thomas E. Burnside and George Crawford both of Columbia county, met west of the Chattahoochee, and exchanged two shots without effect.  On the third fire, Mr. Burnside received in the right side his antagonist's ball.  He fell and instantly expired.  The dispute, it is understood, originated about some publications which appeared last year, concerning Mr. Burnside and Mr. Crawford's Father, Old Peter Crawford. – Statesman & Patriot…

Mr. Knight goes on to describe the aftermath in his book, Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (Vol. II):

[Burnside's] body was interred, with every show of respect, in the private burial ground of Col. Crowell, whose residence was not far from the spot on which the unfortunate man fell.  More than two weeks elapsed before Burnside's family received the sad news, which, when it finally came, after so long a period of suspense, almost cost Mrs. Burnside her life; but she rallied her strength for the sake of her children and afterwards removed to Dahlonega, Ga., where she resided until her death.

Photo by Michael Dover via FindAGrave. Used with permission.A grave marker exists for Thomas E. Burnside at the Crowell Family Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Russell County, Alabama, but I think the date should be January 15, 1828. An obituary for Thomas was "communicated" to the Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) and published in that paper 29 January 1828 [full article at GenealogyBank].

Near the Creek Agency, in this State, on the 15th instant, THOMAS E. BURNSIDE, Esq. in the 34th year of his age.

It is ever a melancholy and affecting duty to record the death of those we respect and esteem…But when they fall into an untimely grave in the prime of manhood, with the rich glow of health upon their cheeks, and in the full promise of future usefulness and fame, the withering shades of grief pass o'er our bosoms like the dark Simoom of the Desert, and the tongue refuses utterance to the overwhelming fullness of the heart.  Such was the fall of our beloved and lamented friend, and long will his loss be mourned with feelings of the deepest sorrow and affection.

Mr. Burnside was a native of Laurens District, South Carolina, and came to Georgia in 1817. – He was occupied as a Schoolmaster till 1820, in which year he was married to Miss Catherine Wood, of Columbia County, and six months afterwards commenced the practice of the Law.  His extensive abilities as a lawyer and fine talents as a speaker, together with his unwearied attention to the duties of his profession, soon acquired for him a large and lucrative practice; and the unostentatious liberality with which he dispensed the fruits of his industry upon all who needed this assistance, gained him the unbounded love and gratitude of the poor, & the respect and esteem of all around him. – In 1822 he was elected to the Legislature, where he continued as a Representative from Columbia County to the time of his death, and was considered one of its most efficient and distinguished members…But his life was cut short in the midst of its usefulness, & he has left an aged & infirm mother, an affectionate wife, and three small children, together with a numerous circle of relations and friends, to mourn an event which has bereaved them of one who performed all the duties of a son, a husband, a father, and a friend, with a degree of tenderness, affection, and anxious solicitude for the welfare of others, which made him respected, beloved, and admired by all who knew him.

12 August 2016

Ambrose Baber had the Misfortune to Kill Thomas Mitchell in a Duel

Grave of Dr. Ambrose Baber"It is hardly an exaggeration to say that not less than a thousand duels were fought in Georgia in consequence of this feudal enmity between Clark and Crawford; and there were few households in the State which were not bereaved, either directly or indirectly, by the countless sacrifices which were made during this period to appease the demands of this bloody Moloch." [Lucian Lamar Knight, Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, Vol. II]

Ambrose Baber was a medical doctor who could not resist the political life.  He represented the United States as Minister to Sardinia, and he sat repeatedly in the Georgia State Senate.  "He was a power in politics," wrote L. L. Knight, "but among the other distinguishing marks of this accomplished gentleman was his deadly aim with a pistol and his expert use of the sword." In short, Dr. Baber was many things – including a duelist.

Dr. Baber was the attending surgeon for Major Robert A. Beall for his 1825 duel with the honorable Thomas D. Mitchell.  Two shots were exchanged without consequence, and Beall and Mitchell shook hands before leaving the field of honor.

Dr. Baber apparently couldn't leave things well enough alone and had a snide comment for Mitchell.  Mitchell retaliated by publishing a "card which gave offence to Dr. Baber, who, after a brief controversy on the subject, demanded of Col. Mitchell the satisfaction due a gentleman under the Code." The challenge was accepted, and the weapon of rifles was chosen.  The particulars follow:

baber-mitchellduelConnecticut Herald (New Haven, Conn.)
28 March 1826, via GenealogyBank

Another Fatal Duel. — We have a letter from a friend at Hamburg, S.C. dated the 9th inst. detailing the particulars and fatal result of an honorable meeting which took place early that morning at Campbell Town, S.C. three miles above Hamburg.  The parties were Doctor Baber and Thomas Mitchell, Esq. of Milledgeville, Geo.  The misunderstanding had its origins in a difference in political opinion, (the former being for "Troup and the treaty," and the latter a Crawfordite and Clarke man,) which proceeded to such lengths that Mitchell posted the Doctor, and made use of the epithets of coward, villain, &c.  The Doctor accordingly challenged him, which Mr. M. accepted, and being, by the rules of duelling [sic], entitled to the choice of weapons, &c. selected short rifles, and to fight at fifteen paces.  The first fire was without effect, when the seconds endeavoured [sic] to comprise the matter, to which the Doctor agreed, provided that Mr. M. would retract the aspersions cast on his character, but the latter refused, at the same time stating that what he had asserted he conscientiously believed, and therefore neither could or would retract.

The rifles were again loaded, and on their both firing at the word, Mr. M. fell mortally wounded, the ball of his antagonist having entered the left breast near the shoulder, and passed out at the right side near the shoulder blade.  He expired in fifteen minutes.

Mr. Mitchell was a native of South Carolina, but had resided for the last few years in Georgia, of which state he was Attorney General. – N.Y. Gaz.

Thomas Mitchell was in his early thirties and unmarried.  His brother, Dr. Isaac Mitchell, was at the duel as the attending surgeon for Thomas.  Dr. Baber lived another twenty years.  He died 8 March 1846 in his home town of Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, and was laid to rest at Rose Hill Cemetery.

04 August 2016

Crawford and Van Allen Exchange Two Fires

But the Golden Age of the Code Duello in Georgia was the period extending from 1800 to 1830, when the public life of this State was dominated by two powerful personalities:  Gen. John Clark and Hon. William H. Crawford. – Lucian Lamar Knight in volume two of Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends (pub. 1914).

The duel between William H. Crawford and Peter L. Van Allen requires a bit of backstory regarding politics in Georgia. (Go here for a short overview of dueling, with specifics to Georgia.)

John Clark, son of famed Revolutionary soldier Elijah Clark/e, was all about the common man.  He was born in North Carolina, but was settled early on with his family in northeast Georgia.  John Clark's rise in politics stemmed from his early and consistent rise in the military.  By the age of sixteen, he was a captain in the Georgia militia and fought in many engagements alongside his father on the Georgia frontier.

Trained in the exercise of arms, it is not strange that he should have carried his characteristics as a fighter into the arena of politics; nor is it strange that the veterans who followed his distinguished father and who knew John Clark himself in the perilous days of battle should have remained his loyal supporters to the very last.

Though not an educated man, at least in the academic sense, he was a man of strong intellect, rugged in character, somewhat blunt of expression, full of bold initiative, and with a rare capacity for leadership.

Most of John Clark's followers were immigrants from North Carolina and settlers of frontier Georgia.

William H. Crawford, via Wikimedia CommonsWilliam Harris Crawford, on the other hand, led the more "aristocratic" faction.  He was born 1772 in Virginia, was settled at Richmond (later Columbia) County, Georgia by age eleven, and was practicing law by age twenty-seven.  David Tucker, in his article for the New Georgia Encyclopedia, says the following:

William Crawford aspired to live the life of a country gentleman, but he would not get the chance to do so until the end of his career. In the meantime he gradually added to his landholdings at Woodlawn [his estate] and became the overseer of a good-sized plantation. By 1834 he owned 1,300 acres and forty-five slaves.

Leading the plantation owners and residents of the more affluent, established Georgia, Crawford was against "gross land speculation" and the Yazoo Land Act.  This was in direct opposition of John Clark.

The elimination of Crawford became naturally the first strategic move of the Clark faction; and to accomplish this end a duel offered the most convenient instrument and promised the most effective results.

Mr. Crawford, unlike Gen. Clark, possessed little knowledge of the use of arms…For this reason, his opponents argued that he would, in all likelihood, decline a challenge to the field of combat.  In fact, such a refusal to fight was exactly what his enemies wanted, since they could then post him as a coward and easily accomplish his political undoing. [L. L. Knight]

Enter Peter Van Allen.  Though a New Yorker by birth, Van Allen came to Georgia to practice law.  He was a staunch "Clarkite" and supporter of the Yazoo Act.  In the very early 1800s, Van Allen began "hostile tactics" to discredit Crawford.  He did this by going after a long-time friend, law partner, and ally of Crawford, Judge Charles Tait.  The short of the story is Van Allen baited Tait hard with criticism and "merciless satire" – needling him to the point to which Tait challenged Van Allen to a fight.  Van Allen then attempted a shot in the dark to get to Crawford.  He claimed Tait was not a gentleman, nor worthy of the Code of Honor by which all duels are "ruled," and refused to meet him.  With this, Van Allen expected Crawford (who would surely have been Tait's "second" for the duel) to "carry on hostilities." Crawford did not take the bait, though he did receive some jeers from members of his own faction.

Some time later, Crawford and Van Allen happened upon each other "at the Willis Hotel, in Washington, Ga." Van Allen took the direct approach and publicly berated Crawford in the lobby and challenged him to a fight.

According to the imperious standard of the times, there was no alternative for Mr. Crawford; and, rather than jeopardize his political fortunes by exposing himself to the charge of cowardice, he agreed to meet his antagonist. [L. L. Knight]

Sunset Clarks Hill Lake - License CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia CommonsCrawford and Van Allen were to meet at "Fort Charlotte, the famous old duelling [sic] ground, twelve miles below Petersburg, on the Carolina side." (Now under the waters of Clarks Hill Lake.) It has been said that Crawford was ill prepared, and had to borrow an old set of pistols for the fight.  The rest is told in a Spooner's Vermont Journal article dated 5 October 1802 (viewed online at GenealogyBank):

On Saturday the 31ft July, about 11-o'clock, a duel was fought on the eaft bank of Savannah river, between Peter L. Van Allen, Efq. Solicitor general, and W. H. Crawford, Attorney at law. – They exchanged two fires; the firft was without effect, but the fecond was fatal to the Solicitor.  He received a ball about two inches above his right hip, it paffed thro' the Abdomen and lodged againft his left hip bone, from whence it was extracted on the ground.  He lived about 38 hours.

Crawford was thrust into the limelight and rose even higher in the political ranks, probably much to the disappointment of John Clark.  The two were to be bitter rivals for more than two decades.

03 August 2016

Under the Code Duello

By G. Durand - Harper's Weekly, New York: Harper Brothers, Vol. 19, No. 941 (9 January 1875), p. 41; Wikimedia Commons"The general practice of dueling to settle affairs of honor between gentlemen," wrote Lucian Lamar Knight about 1914 for volume two of Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends, "may be said to have commenced in 1527, when Francis I, of France, issued a challenge to Charles V, of Germany, directing him to name his own time and place and to make his own choice of weapons with which to fight."

No duel ever happened between the two high-ranking men, but the mere notion of it attracted so much attention throughout Europe.  Other gauntlets were thrown, and the challenges were accepted.  L. L. Knight went on to write, "During a period of eighteen years, under the reign of Henry IV, it is said that 4,000 lives were sacrificed on the Field of Honor.  [T]he mania for dueling swept the civilized world like a besom of fire, involving, on both sides of the water, men of the highest political and social distinction…[T]he duel became one of the established institutions of society, among men of Caucasian blood.

So it's apropos for Wikipedia to note, "Between 1798 and the Civil War, the US Navy lost two-thirds as many officers to dueling as it did in combat at sea…"

With all the talk of chivalry and honor, dueling became quite a regular practice in the South.  Speaking specifically about the Peach State, let's return to Lucian Lamar Knight:

Georgia was one of the first States of the Union to find the duel an effective instrument for the adjustment of differences between gentlemen; and likewise one of the last States to abandon the custom…At a time when party strife was most intense and bitter, it was an almost daily occurrence for men to cross swords or to exchange shots in personal encounters, but everything was done according to prescribed form and with punctilious regard for the Code of Honor.  There was scarcely a public man in Georgia who was not credited with at least one duel, fought usually in the earlier stages of his career…Political honors were not awarded to cowards nor to those who…were found wanting in courage; and…the public life of this State was ruled with a rod of iron by that grim arbiter of destinies:  the Code Duello.

Jack K. Williams, author of Dueling in the Old South, echoes this by writing, "[A] number of public figures gained prominence and were pushed ahead in their careers because of prowess in dueling." He goes on to highlight a writer from Mississippi and noted, "[I]t was understood as late as 1850 that one rarely reached the pinnacle of political success unless he had displayed his macho…in a duel or some other acceptable mode of personal warfare."

So let us look at some historic Georgia duels…

18 July 2016

Warwoman Dell in Rabun County

Warwoman Dell is a small wooded valley amid the Appalachian Mountains near Clayton in Rabun County, Georgia.  It's also part of the Chattahoochee National Forest.


A stream here is a tributary of Warwoman Creek.  Lucian Lamar Knight in Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (1913) writes:  "War Woman's Creek is the name given to a small mountain stream entering the Chattooga [River]." He further quotes James Mooney, author and studier of the Cherokee:  "The name seems to be of Indian origin, but the Cherokee word is lost.  A writer quoted by White attempts to show its origin from the exploit of a certain Revolutionary amazon in capturing a party of Tories [Nancy Hart], but the name occurs in Adair, as early as 1775.  There is some reason to believe that it refers to a former female dignitary among the Cherokees described by Heywood as having authority to decide the fate of prisoners of war.  Several instances of women acting in part of warriors are on record among the Cherokees."



An informational marker at the dell echoes this with the following:  "The Warwoman was a beloved Cherokee dignitary who voiced the decision of the Council on war and peace.  These 'pretty women' had the power to decide the fate of captives.  Legend states that each spring this woman visited the Dell to preside over rituals."

The marker explains further:  "America's first natural-born botanist, William Bartram, explored the area in the 1770s.  He documented the plants, climate, geology, and culture of the people of this period and paved the way for future development." Of course, the Bartrum Trail runs through the area.



12 July 2016

Georgia and the Titanic

By F.G.O. Stuart (1843-1923) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsA few Georgia connections to the sinking of the Titanic.

Jacques Futrelle, the famous novelist, who lost his life on board the ill-fated Titanic, on the night of April 16, 1912, was a native of Pike [County, Georgia], in which county his early life was spent.  Mr. Futrelle accompanied by his wife was on his return voyage to America, after a season spent in European travel.  The Titanic was the greatest vessel afloat.  She was making her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York, and some of the foremost men of the world were on board, including multi-millionaires, philanthropists, and men of letters.  Something like 1,600 lives were lost.  In many respects, it was the most colossal disaster in the annals of the sea, but one in which the chivalry of brave men shone resplendent.  With the most engaging gallantry, they complied with the unwritten law of the great deep – "women and children first"; and while the heroic musicians, with death staring them in the face, played "Nearer My God to Thee," the vessel sank to rise no more.  Isidor Straus, the New York millionaire and philanthropist, a former Georgian, was among the number; and his wife, refusing to be torn from his side, went down to her watery grave, locked in his arms.  It was one of the ironies of fate that while the body of Mr. Straus was afterwards found by the rescue boats among the wreckage, to be splendidly entombed in New York, that of his wife lay entangled in a shroud of sea-weeds in the mid-Atlantic.  Nothing in the life of John Jacob Astor became him like the manner in which he met death.  The maid-servant who accompanied Mrs. Astor was gallantly assisted by him to one of the life-boats, while the man of uncounted millions became a bedfellow of the humblest steerage passenger on a sandy couch, far beneath the waves of the ocean.  It is said that one of his last acts was to smuggle a little boy into a place of safety, by putting a girl's bonnet on his head of golden hair.  Archibald Butt, the chief of President Taft's military staff, en route home from an official visit to the Pope of Rome, was among the number who perished at sea, though the peculiar nature of his errand, if pleaded, might have saved him.  The tribute which his tragic death drew from Mr. Taft was well deserved:  "He died, I am sure, like a soldier and a gentleman." He too was a Georgian.  But no one on board met death more gallantly than did brave Jack Futrelle.  Coaxing his wife to enter a life-boat, with the lover's plea that he was not in any danger and that he expected to rejoin her in a few moments, he went to his grave waving her a fond adieu – "it will be only for a little while dearest, au revoir." No purer pearl of chivalry ever sank to rest amid the pearls of the sea.  In the hearts of Georgians his memory will always be green.  [Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends by Lucian Lamar Knight.  Pub. 1913, pgs 855-856.]

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
17 April 1912 – pg. 2 [Online at GenealogyBank.]


Major Archibald Butt and Jacques Futrelle Both Known Here, Where They Had Relatives and Friends – Mr. and Mrs. Luther Williams Did Not Sail on Ship.

Macon, like all the rest of the world, is appalled by the horror of the sinking of the big ship Titanic Monday, and, added to her sympathy for the thousands who had loved ones aboard the ill-fated vessel, is a sense of personal loss in the deaths of two men whom she had known intimately in the days before they won notional [sic] renown – Maj. Archibald Butt and Jacques Futrelle, who are supposed to have perished when the levithian [sic] went to the bottom.

Major Butt, whose home was in Augusta, was a reporter for The Telegraph a score of years ago and is well and affectionately remembered by many citizens here today.  During his residence in Washington as aide to the president, he and Maj. Blanton Winship, himself a Macon man and a brother of Emory Winship of this city, occupied the same house.  Maj. Butt's rise in the world was watched with the keenest interest by his friends and acquaintances here, and his untimely taking off is genuinely regretted by them.

Jacques, of "Jack", Futrelle, as he was known to his friends, was also well liked by many Macon people who knew him personally and by many others who knew him through his charming short stories in the magazines.  Futrelle began his career as an author in Atlanta, where he served for years as a newspaper writer.  He was a native of Barnesville.  His mother resided here for a time, and left Macon to make her home in Atlanta only a few months ago.  John A. Futrelle, a cousin, resides at 1711 Fourth street.  The gifted writer spent several days in Macon last summer.

The name of Mrs. Futrelle, who was with her husband on board the Titanic when the big ship struck the iceburg, appears among the list of the rescued.  She, who is an author herself, and her husband had gone abroad to collect material for new stories.  Mrs. Futrelle is a daughter of Mrs. D. G. Peel, of Atlanta.

Mr. and Mrs. Luther Williams, of this city, read of the disaster with an interest all their own, as they had planned to go abroad on the Titanic at her next sailing.  It was reported yesterday that they were aboard the liner when she sank, but Mr. Williams very cheerfully denied the rumor when asked for particulars by a representative of The Telegraph.

Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
30 July 1912 – pg. 6 [Online at GenealogyBank.]


Had Never Recovered from Shock of "Jack" Frutrelle's [sic] Death.

Special to The Chronicle.
Dublin, Ga., July 29. – Word was received here this afternoon of the death at Adrian Sunday morning of Mrs. W. H. Futrelle, mother of Jacques Futrelle, the Georgia author, who lost his life in the Titanic disaster.

Mrs. Futrelle had been in bad health for several months and was sick before the wreck of the Titanic and the drowning of her son.  She had gradually grown weaker since then, and friends have seen for some days that the end was near.

She was 65 years of age and had been a resident of Emanuel County, near Adrian, for about two years, moving there with her husband from Butts County.  Only one of her children, Mr. W. M. Futrelle, was with her when she died.

The remains of Mrs. Futrelle were buried at Poplar Springs Baptist Church, in Johnson County, Sunday afternoon.  She was a member of the Baptist denomination and leaves many friends in the neighborhood, where she resided, besides her husband and two children, a son and a daughter.  The death of Mrs. Futrelle will be a blow to her husband, who is, himself, old and feeble in health.

Jack and his mother are both memorialized at Poplar Springs Church Cemetery.

Columbus Ledger (Georgia)
29 April 1912 – pg. 4 [Online at GenealogyBank.]


Announcement of the recovery of the body of Isidor Straus at the scene of the Titanic disaster, was read with pleasure  by the hundreds of friends of the millionaire-merchant in this section, where Straus formerly resided, all being gratified to know that the body is to be laid to rest on native soil.

Commenting on the tragic death of Mr. Straus and his wife, the New Orleans States says in part

"The death of Isidor Straus and his devoted wife who refused to leave him when the Titanic was known to be sinking, has a special interest to the south.

"Isidor Straus was a Georgian.  His parents, born in Bavaria, emigrated to the United States, and settled in Talbotton, Georgia.  Isidor Straus grew up in Georgia and after the civil war went to New York, followed later by his two brothers, Oscar and Nathan, now among the leading business men of the nation.

"Before he was of age Isidor Straus was sent to France as a Confederate agent and accomplished his mission with credit.

"Among many other activities he had served in Congress with distinction.  He is best known as a business man and philanthropist, along with his two brothers.

"In his home life Mr. Straus was a most devoted husband, and the refusal of his wife to leave him when the fatal hour arrived, is the greatest possible proof of their mutual devotion."

The recovered body of Isidor Straus finally rests at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.

11 July 2016

Battle of New Hope Church

100_0739The Battle of New Hope Church:
Four miles north-east of Dallas lies the famous battle-field of New Hope Church.  Here one of the most stubborn fights of the bloody Atlanta campaign occurred in the late spring of 1864.  Says Prof. Derry [Story of the Confederate States, 1898]:  "It was ascertained that Sherman's forces had crossed the Etowah to the Confederate left.  Johnston marched promptly to meet them and took a position extending from Dallas to the railroad.  There now occurred a series of engagements between portions of the two armies, which Johnston and Sherman agree in calling the Battle of New Hope Church.  The first of these occurred on the 25th of May when the head of Hooker's column came upon Stewart's division near a little meeting house known as New Hope Church.  Hooker formed his division in parallel lines and promptly attacked but his vigorous assaults resulted in a succession of bloody repulses.  Two days later Sherman sent Howard with two divisions to turn Johnston's right.  At Pickett's Mill, thinking he had reached the extreme end of the Confederate line, Howard ordered an assault.

100_0684The charges of the Federals were repulsed, as Howard himself says, with much loss.  The Confederates gathered up as trophies 1,200 small arms.  The acknowledged loss to Howard's corps at Pickett's Mill was 1,500 men.  Cleburne's loss was 400.  The next day McPherson tried to withdraw from Dallas.  But Bates' division of Hardie's corps, quickly assailed him meeting a repulse in which they lost about 700 men." Sherman in his official report called the engagement at New Hope Church a "drawn battle." Nevertheless he was thwarted in his purpose, which was to cut off Johnston's supplies.  [Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends by Lucian Lamar Knight.  Pub. 1913, pgs 849-850.]

I visited the New Hope Church Battlefield just over five years ago.  Here are some additional photos from the trip:



Marker in front of church and across from cemetery.

Red Top Mt, Marietta, Cartersville, Pickett's Mill, New Hope

Federal Attack on Hood's Corps marker is behind me.
View of road with cemetery on right and church across the street.

Red Top Mt, Marietta, Cartersville, Pickett's Mill, New Hope-001

New Hope Baptist Church Rebuilt 1959


Red Top Mt, Marietta, Cartersville, Pickett's Mill, New Hope-002


New Hope Cemetery

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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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

(Continued on other side)

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.