Google+ Georgia On My Mind: July 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ephraim Stiles Hopping

For the last several months it seems one of my major research topics has been various mills along the creeks and rivers of early Georgia along with the men who built them.  I didn’t begin the research due to some sort of passion I have for early mills, but in the process of my newest project researching and writing about Douglas County history at Every Now and Then……it just happened.

What is most amazing to me… in the early 1800s when these men first came to Georgia they seemed to get around north Georgia quite easily moving back and forth from one side of the state to the other, and they are all connected in some way.   Then again it could just be the folks I’m researching, but it is a great motivator to keep me researching what can be a boring little topic if you aren’t interested in the mills themselves.

Take the case of Ephraim Stiles Hopping.   He was born in the 1799 on August 20th or 26th depending on the source you use.  After graduating from Princeton in 1824 he headed south and the next year he was a professor at Franklin College which today is the University of Georgia in Athens.  Hopping was a language professor. He married Pamela Ann (Wray) Stewart….the daughter of Judge Philip Wray….on December 12, 1827 in Oglethorpe, Georgia.  Some sources list her name as Permelia.  No matter her name….she came from a prominent family.  Her father was Judge Philip Wray and he owned Wrayswood Plantation.
Over the years nine children were born to Ephraim and Pamela.

The same year Hopping married some sources state he bought Scull Shoals factory on the Oconee River.   Now when you visit the history of Scull Shoals online Hopping’s name is never used.   But what is interesting is Judge Wray’s daughter....Harriett……Hopping’s sister-in-law…. married Thomas N. Poullan – the man that the history link for Scull Shoals states figured so prominently in the history of the mill there.   So… original source could be mistaken or…..perhaps Hopping had a business interest or investment with Scull Shoals since my source also stated once he made a little money at Scull Shoals he went on to purchase land at High Shoals.   At any rate….he was related by marriage to Poullan.

Here’s one of the twists and makes all of this interesting for me….a name figuring prominently in Douglas County history is Ephraim Pray.   Before arriving in Douglas County he spent two years in Greene County where he used his engineering skills to build two of the mills for Poullan.  

Getting back to Hopping…..we know he was in High Shoals in 1839 because records indicate he was  the postmaster there.  The area was a well known landmark and had been since the 1790s.  High Shoals shows up on a 1794 map of the area and various treaties between the State of Georgia and the Cherokee and Creek Nations use High Shoals as a landmark regarding discussed boundary lines.  Later, during the early 19th century a road from Washington D.C. to New Orleans crossed the Apalachee River at High Shoals.  

On March 8, 1850 along with several listed business partners Hopping placed an ad in the Athens Southern Banner  He and several associates formed High Shoals Manufacturing Company – a business making cotton and woolen goods, but the application for National Register status for the High Shoals area states that the mill was founded in 1846.

Another Douglas County connection to the Hopping story is……William Ely Green.   He happened to be Hopping’s cousin and when he arrived in Georgia during the 1830s his first stop was to visit with Hopping.  The 1840 census shows Green living in Morgan County close to Hopping.   Apparently Green learned the ins and outs of owning a mill because once he moved to Douglas County he built his own mill there on Anneewakee Creek.

Hopping’s complex at the High Shoals mill was located on the south side of the Apalachee River in Morgan County and eventually contained a 3-story brick mill, machine shop, cotton warehouse, carpenter’s shop, lumber storehouse and mill company store.   Later, land would be provided for two churches – a Baptist church in 1869 and a Methodist church in 1879.

One of the most interesting and unique things about the mill was the two dams that were built along the Apalachee River.    The upper dam was masonry and 11-feet tall.   It formed a large storage pond that covered approximately 20 acres.   The pond was used to regulate the water flow during periods of drought.    The lower dam was concrete and 8-feet tall.  It formed a three acre pond and diverted water to a mill race that supplied the upper turbine of the mill. 

The dams are significant because there are very few of their type that survived.   Most were submerged or destroyed through the years.

Soon after establishing the mill Hopping built a large residence on the north side of the Apalchee River – it overlooked the river and mill operations on the opposite bank.   The home was a three-story Georgian with four principal rooms, divided by a central hall.   The property also included a formal garden, fountains and a deer park.   Other sources describe the home as large…having columns and granite fixtures brought by oxcart from Stone Mountain.     Sadly the home collapsed in the mid-1900s and no longer exists.

Today….all that remains of the mill are some foundation stones since it was destroyed by fire in 1928….along with a few mill houses…approximately one dozen that were built around the turn of the century along State Route 186 remain of the original fifty or so.

Ephraim Stiles Hopping died June 22, 1853 during a typhoid epidemic that swept through High Shoals.   One of his daughters also died.   He was buried in the gardens at his home.   The epidemic may have taken at least half of the residents of High Shoals. Sources state Hopping’s widow sold his interest in the mill and the home and moved away.

The mill continued with new ownership.   During the Civil War Union soldiers captured the mill and several people were taken prisoner.  Later a man from Virginia by the name James Frazier purchased the Hopping mansion and around 860 acres for $26,000.  He renamed the house “Hotel Ben Lomand” – after the Frazier ancestral home in Scotland.    
The hotel came to be known as a stage coach stop where passengers were offered meals and lodging.

Finally, here is one last quirk in the story of Scull Shoals and its mill.   Urban Baboon…one of our wonderful Georgia bloggers has an excellent article about the ruins at Scull Shoals with several pictures.   Urban Baboon advises….and on a more modern note, the post-Emancipation Scull Shoals (circa 1880) was home to a young laborer named Adam Williams, who went on to become THE Rev. Adam D. Williams, pastor of the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and grandfather to the legendary Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don’t you just love how one history nugget leads to another?

Friday, July 13, 2012

An Oakland Story: Sarah Dye

I had a lovely dinner Wednesday night with the family at Six Feet Under on Memorial Drive overlooking Oakland Cemetery.   As we dined I keep looking out across the road at the tombstones, but there was no time to go walk among dead….

As we headed home I silently told the headstones I’d be back…..

Oakland  isn’t just a resting place for Atlantans.   It’s a historical time capsule of sorts.  

It’s a lovely park and garden.

It’s a place to reflect

It’s a place with great views of the city

….and Oakland Cemetery has great stories to tell.   I think that’s my favorite part….the stories.

One of my favorite stories involves Lot 428 in the original six acres of the cemetery belonging to the Dye Family.

The rain this week has certainly been welcome even with the consequences many have had to endure due to the fierce lightning and booming thunder.

July started off breaking all sorts of temperature records with several days of one hundred plus thermometer readings, and my yard was one crusty carpet where I couldn’t tell where the dust  left off and the brown dying grass began.

I’m not sure what the temperatures  happened to be during July, 1864 around Atlanta, but for those few citizens who didn’t leave the city before  the Union lay siege it was a hot place to be as the shells flew back and forth between the Union and Confederate positions.

Sarah Dye and her young children tried to escape the shelling by digging a hole in their backyard. 

It had been rumored Sarah’s husband…..John Dye…..was one of the best carpenters in the city.   He had built a home for his family at the corner of Ivy (now Peachtree Center Avenue) and Baker Streets.  

When we think of the Civil War we tend to group everyone above the Mason-Dixon Line as falling in line with the Union while those below the line were all Confederates.

Generally, this was true, but the lines did blur occasionally.   Sarah Dye was a known Union sympathizer.   According to the book The Historic Oakland Cemetery of Atlanta:  Speaking Stones by Cathy Kaemmerlen…..the “Southern Claims Papers”, issued after the war to help reimburse Southerners for their wartime losses, Sarah was a Union woman and against the war from start to finish.   She had made it public that she thought the war would ‘bring no good’.  She was labeled a Union sympathizer, even though her husband served in the Confederate army.  

However, regardless of Sarah’s beliefs and opinions of the war she found herself in the middle of the daily shelling….not only dodging Union shells but attempting to shield her family from Confederate shells as well.

At some point during the bombardment one of the children….a two year old boy named for his father….become ill and died.   

Sarah placed his body in a box and July 10, 1864 found Sarah crawling out of  the crudely fashioned bomb shelter in her yard and she began walking to Oakland Cemetery which in those days was outside of the city of Atlanta. 

Can you picture her walking down Atlanta’s dusty desolate streets strewn with items left behind by war refugees, craters fashioned by shells and other bits of war wreckage while cradling her dead child in her arms?   

Sarah was intent on giving her child a proper burial whether a war was raging around her or not.

She was stopped and warned to get off the road.   Finally, a man in a wagon who happened to be heading her way out of town allowed her to ride so she was able to get to cemetery a little faster.  Sarah placed her baby next his sister Mintory, who had passed away years before.    At some point….so the story goes she fell asleep on the grave and upon waking made the return trip to her home to care for the other children.

Today there are fourteen graves in the Dye family plot including Sarah and her husband John.   Family lore reminds visitors to skip the first step leading into the plot because it is said another baby was buried under the step in 1849.

I’ve written about Oakland Cemetery before at Georgia on my Mind here, and I’ve recently written a review for Six Feet Under over at Cooking With Cooper.

Join the Georgia on my Mind community on Facebook by clicking the “LIKE” button on the left sidebar.  I’m publishing all of my Oakland pictures there in an album!   You can tell me what you think!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Monumental Find....

As you might already be aware historical research interests me.  

No surprise there, right?

I realize it might not be your thing…but it’s mine.  I conduct the research in order to find the quirky things that draw people in…..the hidden information that never makes it to the textbook or your eleventh grade history teacher’s lesson plan.   

I use it to remind folks about things they know, but have filed them away somewhere in the dark recesses of their minds. 

I use the research to write curriculum so other educators can share it with their students.
I use the research to feed my need to write…..and learn.

I do the research to find little pieces of larger history puzzles I’m trying to put together, and that’s where the irony comes in.   Most of the time I find little puzzle pieces here and there when I least expect them…..most certainly when I’m NOT looking for them.  

Sometimes those little puzzle pieces are monumental because they hold the key to solving a historical mystery.     

I’ve never been that fortunate locate something like that, but Hugh Harrington has experienced  the joy of a monumental find while looking for something else.   

Hugh was on the hunt for information regarding a mass escape from a woman’s prison, so he was pouring over microfilmed issues of the Southern Recorder, a Milledgeville paper that was published during the Civil War.    He happened upon a list of soldiers who had died at Brown Hospital during the last months of the Civil War.

The hospital, named for Governor Joseph Brown had been in Atlanta, but then moved under the direction of Dr. R.J. Massey to Milledgeville when General Sherman began marching south.
The list of soldiers had nothing to do with what Herrington was searching for, but he had hunch that the list might be important.

He knew there was a Confederate Memorial at Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville  to unknown dead.   He knew this because he had been involved in indexing the many of the graves at the cemetery.   He knew at least two of the soldiers were named in the Confederate section and…….their names were on the same list he had just found in the newspaper archives.  

It was more than a hunch…..He had stumbled upon the identities of the unknown soldiers….all of them.

He did just what I would have done.    He went to the cemetery….walked to the memorial and announced to the men at rest there……”I know who you are…..”

What a personal moment of joy for Mr. Herrington…..

Then he met with members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and shared his discovery.   They immediately agreed with him that he had found a resource to identify the graves.

He went through the list to determine which men were shipped home….and narrowed the list to 24 names.   He determined they all died in 1864.   The men had died in August or September, 1864 while patients of the hospital.   They all died of disease of one sort or another.   They were all citizens of Georgia and part of the militia.

However, between September 6, 1864 when the newspaper article provided the names of the men who died and 1868 when the monument was erected folks didn’t remember a list existed, and the names had been lost all that time until Hugh Herrington happened to be looking for……..

…..something else.


I have to wonder thought if Mr. Herrington ever found anything on those wild women who broke out of prison.

You can find out more about Herrington’s discovery and the graves here,  here and here.

I’ve written about Dr. R.J. Massey….the head surgeon at Brown Hospital.   He was instrumental in saving the State House in Millledgeville from Sherman’s torch and happened to live in my little town for a bit.   You can read my article here.
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