Google+ Georgia On My Mind: 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Confederate Rosie the Riveter

One of the iconic images of World War II happens to be Rosie the Riveter representing thousands of women who entered the work force at a time when the majority of Americans felt a woman's place was at home. Conditions were often harsh, pay was not equal, and most had to deal with unfavorable treatment by men working beside them.

It took a strong woman to become "Rosie the Riveter".

It took a fighter.

One Georgia native - Helen Dortch Longstreet - was a fighter. In fact, over and over during her life she had earned the nickname "fighting lady".

In 1894, she was appointed assistant state librarian - the very first woman in Georgia to hold that position. In 1896, the Dortch Bill passed the state legislature. It was named for Helen Dortch Longstreet and paved the way for any woman to be able to hold state office.

In 1897, Helen met General James Longstreet through her college roommate. He was 76. She was 34. The same year the General was busy with Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, Helen was born!

Though they were only together for six years before General Longstreet died, it must have been a very special relationship. Found among Helen's papers stored at the Atlanta History Center you can find an unpublished essay written by Helen that details their courtship titled Wooed to the Warrior's Tent.

Wooed?  Why General Longstreet!  I do declare!

I really need to get to the Atlanta History Center and look through Helen's papers.

After the marriage, Helen took on the job as postmistress in Gainesville, a post she held though 1913. She also championed her husband's reputation as the controversial general who failed to follow orders at Gettysburg. She fought until the end of the General's life and then her own to portray his life correctly in history. In 1905, Helen published Lee and Longstreet at High Tide to that end.

In 1911, Helen fought unsuccessfully with Georgia Power over their wish to build hydroelectric dams along the Tallulah River citing that no one knew for sure what the impact the dams would have on the river or to Tallulah Gorge. Her fight is considered to be one of the first efforts at conservation in Georgia.

During World War II at the age of 80, Helen Dortch Longstreet packed a lunch, picked up her tools, and stood alongside other Georgia women at Bell Bomber (Lockheed) building B-29s. Life magazine featured Helen in their issue dated December 27, 1943 as the "Confederate General's Widow".  The picture below appeared in Life.

During the 1950s, Helen Dortch Longstreet led an unsuccessful write-in campaign against Herman Talmadge for governor.

Think of that!  A woman running for governor in the 1950s, even if it was a write-in campaign.  Helen was most certainly a woman before her time.

Another first for Helen involved her portrait hanging at the state capitol building in Atlanta. Yes, hers was the first portrait to hang alongside important men throughout Georgia's history.

Several resources state Helen Dortch Longstreet was, at the time of her death, the last surviving widow of a Confederate General. It's hard to know for sure since records weren't kept very well on the Confederate side. One thing can't be disputed - Georgia did have a Confederate Rosie the Riveter, and she knew how to fight for issues she believed in.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Palmetto's Railroad Depot Museum

By the time I was aware of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad depot buildings they were all but abandoned since the railroad no longer used them by the mid-1960s.

Red Oak's depot was moved to another location. I'm sure the depot in College Park was used for something, but I can't remember. I do remember a law firm making their home in Fairburn's depot (it's still there), and the city of Palmetto used their depot for city offices including the police department.

The other day as I was heading through Palmetto I noticed they had opened a museum in their depot.

I decided to take a few minutes and stop. I'm glad I did. The docent and I had a lovely time sharing history.

Palmetto's depot was built somewhere between 1914 and 1917 with plenty of room for freight on one side of the building and passengers on the other. At the time the depot was built, the rails through Palmetto didn't set up as high as they do now. In fact, they dipped down to the point that sometimes the train would get stuck and an engine would be dispatched to come behind the train to "push" it along. The passengers would disembark and then have to come through a small tunnel underneath the depot and climb the steps to reach the passenger waiting room.

Once the depot was no longer needed for rail travel the city managed to rent it from CSX Railroad for $100 a year. The sweet deal came to fruition because a former mayor was a CSX employee.

When the city moved out the building sat, and like so many older beauties, it began to decay. Many thought it just needed to be torn down. After all...the roof had holes in it, and there was an asbestos issue.

Thankfully, in the year 2000 the railroad sold the depot to the city for $14,000. Once the deed was in the city's name, a group of historically minded citizens applied for a couple of grants. One in particular was a Georgia Transportation grant for $1.2 million dollars with an 80/20 split. The city would have to contribute 20 percent of the money used to restore the depot, but the majority of funds would be given. A second grant was obtained for $200,000.
Eighteen months later and just one year ago, a ribbon cutting celebration was given, and there was quite a bit to show off.
The restored depot houses a conference room at one end and space for special events on the other end. The special events section of the depot has the original depot flooring including the original freight scale embedded in the floor.
You can see the depot agent's office, the original ticket window and all the doors and windows are original to the property. There is also a train-side deck/patio.

Of course, for some folks the word "train" in the official name of the museum is confusing since the focus is Palmetto's history and NOT trains. There are no trains featured in the historical exhibits, but they DO cover Palmetto's history with new things being added all the time.

The museum is in the middle section of the depot with the brick walls lined with vintage furniture, objects, clothing and other memorabilia.


The museum also owns a vast collection of historic photographs.

A couple of penny-farthing bikes donated by former Palmetto mayor, Robert Steed are on display. A penny-farthing bike gets its name from the high wheel/small wheel that resembles a British penny next to a farthing.

Take some time and learn some local history. The Palmetto Train Depot Museum located at 549 Main Street (Highway 29/Roosevelt Highway) is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. with free admission.

Visit Georgia on my Mind's Facebook page here to see more of my pictures from my visit to the museum.

You can see pictures from Palmetto's official grand opening here....

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Georgia's Bedspread Alley

Are you on Pinterest? I have an account, but my four or five little boards there are awfully lonely.

I’ve ignored Pinterest on purpose.

I’m afraid once I dive in there will be no saving me, and I’ll spend too much of my time scrolling through the pretty images and forget more pressing matters.
Every now and then I get a notification that someone new is following my boards. I feel so bad and want to send them an apology letter letting them know that one day…someday… my Pinterest boards will be more interesting.

I most certainly see the value of Pinterest just from the pins that roll across my newsfeed on Facebook. 
I see things I could forward to others...I saw this and thought it might interest you

Ideas that I could use thinking to myself...Oh, that would be perfect for the bedroom.
All sorts of craft ideas that make me dream...Yes! I can make that, too.  I’ll try that…, and then I laugh myself right out of the thought minutes later since I’m not very crafty as in glue and thread kind of “crafty”.

In 1892, when she was 15, Catherine Evans didn’t have Pinterest, of course, but she did see something she wanted to try. She saw a tufted bedspread someone had made prior to the Civil War. Catherine decided she wanted to try the technique.

She took a bodkin needle, a blunt needle used for pulling something large through a piece of material, and tried her hand at tufting. The tufts were made by pulling eight threads at a time through the material. Over and over the threads would be pulled until the design was complete. Once the fabric was washed and dried the tufts would be there to stay.
What began as a personal challenge to see if she could recreate something turned into something she did over and over for family and friends finally selling one for $2.50.

That’s where the story really takes off economically not only for Catherine, but for nearly 10,000 women and their families across North Georgia.
You see, after that first sale the orders just kept coming. More and more folks were recruited to complete the tufting.
A cottage industry was born!

Gradually over time men were hired to work in stamping facilities where the designs were made on plain white sheeting.  There were various methods used to stamp the fabric,  but one way was to lay a plain piece of sheeting over a completed tufted spread.
Blocks of melted paraffin with bluing would be rubbed across it. The tufting underneath would leave marks and form a pattern to follow.

Sheeting stamped with designs would be delivered to homes where the women would complete the tufting. Once the design was complete the sheeting would be washing in hot water shrinking the fabric which in turn would hold the threads in place. The sheeting would be tossed over the clothes lines for drying which helped the tufting to “fluff”. 
Hanging the sheeting over the clotheslines with the bright colors and interesting designs was also a great way to advertise the bedspreads, and fairly soon the route down Highway 41 between Cartersville and Dalton became known as “Bedspread Alley”. 

Over and over again delivery men would pick up the completed pieces and drop off more printed sheeting for the women to complete.

Eventually, real manufacturing centers were set up while the orders came in from all over the place.  There are stories though the ladies didn’t always wait for the orders to arrive. Sometimes they would simply pack up 15 bedspreads along with an invoice and mail them off to a northern department store.  When the first invoice was paid without question the ladies also received an additional order for more bedspreads. The process was repeated over and over with department stores all over the place.
The demand for tufted items grew – house robes, rugs, wall hangings, and house shoes.

The Singer Sewing Machine Company took note and created a needle that could be used along with their machine to push the threads through he cloth, and a hook or “looper” would catch the thread and keep it from being pulled out as the needle moved to the next stitch.

If you’ve ever wondered how the Dalton area became home to the carpet industry you only have to look back as far as the ladies who made tufted or chenille bedspreads. The tufting process eventually led to wool fibers being used with jute resulting in Dalton’s carpet industry.
Hmm, I wonder what I might find on Pinterest that could be the next cottage industry in Georgia?
You just never know….

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

College Park's Cox College

I wish I had a five dollar bill for every time I ventured up Highway 29/Roosevelt Highway from Red Oak to downtown College Park. I’d have a tidy sum to invest.

From the age of four until I was around 20 years of age I made that trip often…sometimes daily….sometimes two or three times a day whether I was running errands with my mother or simply going back and forth to school. 
During all those years I didn’t give the history of College Park any real notice. It’s where I hung out and lived. I was too busy going about the business of growing up to be concerned with what might have happed on any given block.

Of course, once I entered the tenth grade and began to have more rigorous history courses, and once I began attending Woodward Academy – the former Georgia Military Academy – where history and tradition just seem to ooze from every monument and brick, I couldn’t help but be interested.
For years the block along Main Street where College Park’s city hall, library and what once was College Park High School seemed to hold a secret – a secret of a past occupant due to the positioning of the  lovely old trees. I could hear the secret whispering to me as Mother and I would drive past. I’d look out of the window and wonder what had once been there, but never had the time to really look into the matter... though I heard rumors.

Who knew that back as early as the 1890s a very large and well thought of female college was on that very property – a college known as Cox College and Conservatory? The picture below shows the main building on campus. This building faced Main Street, and this picture shows what they called the Marble Entrance.
To get the whole story regarding Cox College we need to go back a little bit to 1842 when Pastor John E. Dawson organized LaGrange Female Seminary.  By 1854, the name changed to Southern Female College. The campus was located close to the intersection of Dawson and Seminary Streets. During the Civil War the school was used as a hospital and unfortunately, was lost in a fire. A second building was erected near Smith and Church Streets, but that building is also gone and is now the location of a post office.

Ichabod F. Cox took over as president of the school in 1857. When he was ready to retire his son, Charles C. Cox took over, and in 1895 he moved the school to Manchester, Georgia. The Cox family had been in charge of the school for so long that the name Cox was so strongly associated with the school that eventually folks just referred to it as Cox College.
The folks in Manchester were happy about the arrival of Cox College and welcomed the young ladies who attended. The people in Manchester were, according to Robert Ballentine author of The Woodward Story, “very school-minded and envisioned Manchester as an educational hinge in the southern area. By 1900, the college had an enrollment of more than 300 young ladies and was internationally known as an outstanding female school.”

Yes, the folks in Manchester were very school-minded, so much so they changed the name of the town to reflect it. Beginning in 1896, Manchester was known as College Park, Georgia.
Mr.Ballentine, who I remember fondly as my principal at Woodward Academy, writes in his book about the day Colonel John Charles Woodward headed up to College Park from his home in Newnan one spring morning in 1900 for a meeting about another school the citizens of College Park wanted to form.

Woodward would have noticed the large and very impressive structure of Cox College as he disembarked from the train and began walking up Main Street to the White home (today’s College Park Women’s Club) where the meeting would be held.  Colonel Woodward would have walked right by the college grounds and noticed how the campus filled a “block and forty acres”. 
Rachel Mays Dempsey advises in College Park Heritage (1958), "The campus was covered with native hickory and oak trees...There were many varieties of shrubs, hundreds of roses that bordered the walks and rows of violets and beds of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias…The campus outlined with a low white wooden fence, was bordered on three sides by attractive homes of the faculty.”

You can get an idea of what the campus was like in these two pictures.

The inside of the school was just as luxurious for the period.  Here is a picture of the grand staircase,
As you can see from these few pictures the young ladies at Cox College enjoyed a beautiful campus. They had all of the modern conveniences at the turn-of-the century including electric lights, steam heat, hot and cold water, baths, a passenger elevator, tower clock, electric bells and speaking tubes per an ad in Alkhest Magazine I found online.

There was gymnasium space for tennis, and in infirmary with an experienced nurse.
The library which I picture below contained 5,000 volumes.  The school also boasted a museum of natural history and industrial chemistry with over 7,000 specimens and physical and chemical laboratories. 

So much for thinking a young ladies finishing school was simply about elocution lessons, right?
The fine arts department had 46 pianos, a large pipe organ, 2 Italian harps , an orchestral outfit, and art studios with flat models and statuary.

Charles C.Cox was known to boast, “A merely cheap school is not the aim of the management of this institution; we are working for the best in education, and are building with reference to the future.”
Getting back to the meeting Colonel Woodward attended in College Park that day in 1900…He was meeting with a group of folks to discuss the abandoned property where the Southern Military Academy had been located.  Charles Cox was a member of the group along with Colonel P.H. Brewster, I.C. McCrory and others.  At that meeting College Park’s second academic center was formed as Colonel Woodward was persuaded to take over the abandoned property, and the group became the original committee who established Georgia Military Academy/Woodward Academy.

Cox College went on for several more years educating hundreds of young ladies from across the South, however the school did close several times between 1923 and 1933 due hard times.  
Cox College closed their doors for the last time in 1938, and eventually the property became home to College Park's government complex.

You can find more pictures of this amazing place at my Facebook page under “albums” here.
…and in case you aren’t aware Colonel Woodward did take on the abandoned 16 acres. The abandoned building was renamed Founder’s Hall and Georgia Military Academy embarked on their own rich history.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Confederate Courthouse

When we look at the Civil War era the war overshadows everything else. As a teacher I taught the causes, the battles and the aftermath, but generally due to time constraints I left something important out. I failed to teach about the life that went on during the war. I failed to teach about the folks back home. They still worked, planted their crops, shopped and went to school and church.

Life went on for county governments, too. In fact, two Georgia counties managed to build courthouses during the war.
Brooks County is one of those counties. It was created in 1858 and named for Preston Brooks who is best known for beating Senator Charles Sumner unconscious in 1856 due to his anti-slavery stance.

The folks in Brooks County decided to build a courthouse, and apparently they had the money early on to build a very ornate building. Brooks County historian Folks Huxford states, “The undertaking to build such a pretentious and costly edifice in that day and time excited much surprise with some of the citizens…especially in the adjoining counties most courthouses were small affairs of rough timber and unpainted.”
County leaders hired John Wind, and English architect who had been brought to nearby Thomasville by a wealthy planter to design their courthouse and several large plantation homes including Susana. For his troubles John Wind was paid one hundred dollars.

There were challenges to build something so important during a time of war. There were shortages regarding skilled labor and materials, but later on county leaders were probably glad they proceeded with building a more expensive edifice.

You see, the original building was built entirely with Confederate dollars - $14,958 to be exact.
Confederate dollars were bills of credit which means they were backed not by tangible assets such as gold or silver but by a promise to pay the bearer after the war. Of course, the promise was based on the Confederate States of America winning the war, and we know how that turned out, right?  I’m fairly certain that Architect Wind who was paid one hundred dollars for his design, didn’t hold onto his Confederate pay. He probably spent it the next week as did most of the others who received pay for the construction of the courthouse, but it is a little unique fact I find interesting.

Due to shortages certain elements of Wind’s plan were dropped. Historian Folks Huxford advises, “The parapet, cupola, balustrade on the roof and certain ornate columns in the courtroom and porticos on the ends of the building were dispensed with on account of the war.”
Unfortunately, we can’t get a true representation of what Wind’s finished design looked like because the Brooks County Courthouse underwent a major renovation in 1892. The picture I post here is the renovated building, however sources state the original building bore a resemblance to Wind’s other courthouse design in Thomas County which I’ve posted an image of below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Clubhouse for Bobby

Way back in 1896 a group of men formed a club to honor their favorite poet, and by 1907 they wanted to build a clubhouse.

What else is new, right? It begins in childhood – groups of boys want a hut or a fort excluding the girls so they can go about their “guy” business without any bossing from the females.  Just because the boys grow up doesn’t mean they are over the fact that they want “boy” time.
The Burns Club of Atlanta was no different. It was men’s only club, and they needed a permanent place to meet all their own.

Club member Joseph Jacobs of Jacob’s drugstore fame told the members if they found a suitable plot of land he would make the purchase, and over time the club could pay him back.  Mr. Jacobs had a little income due to a successful drugstore, and it was Jacobs who had made the suggestion to add a little carbonation to some newfangled drink called Coca-Cola.

The club had been meeting around Atlanta in various hotels. They wanted to find a place that was outside the city, but still close enough in that they could catch the last train after dinner to head home.
They finally found ten acres off Confederate Avenue in the Ormewood Park area, a suburb of Atlanta that was originally developed in 1892.  It’s a little hard to wrap my head around the idea that Ormewood Park was not in the city of Atlanta, but during the early 20th century it wasn’t.

The club members set about building a replica of a cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland which happened to be the home of Robert Burns, the 19th century poet the club members honored.
Come on, you remember Robert Burns from your high school and college literature courses, right?  Burns is famous for poetic lines such as, “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June…” and every New Year’s Eve we all remember Burns when we sing the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne

Club member Thomas H. Morgan, an architect set to work on building a clubhouse that was an exact replica of the Burns’ home in Scotland.
This website states…..

The interior of the house is also a close replica of the Scottish cottage, and was divided into the traditional four areas: but, ben, barn, and byre. At the far end is the but, which would have been the kitchen, dining room, and parents' bedroom. Next to the but is the ben, which would have served as the living room and childrens' bedroom. These two rooms are decorated with memorabilia from the life of Robert Burns. The assembly room, which replaces the barn and byre, is used for club meetings. The three fireplaces in the cottage are constructed of random stones with mortar joints raised and rounded. The fireplace in the center of the cottage has an inset stone plaque in memory of the poet. The only remaining outbuilding is a one-story stone caretaker's house, originally a log cabin. It was redesigned in 1969 to bear a closer resemblance to the cottage. The grounds once covered 10 acres and included a dance pavilion, barbeque pit and shed, a tennis court and putting green for club use and for rental to other groups. Changes to Burns Cottage include the rear addition of small, functional kitchen, porch and restrooms. The assembly room's original stone-flagged floor was replaced with a concrete one, a fireplace was added at the far end, and some of the small windows were closed.
Early on the cabin had a thatched roof, but eventually the Fire Marshall determined the roof should be replaced.

Since the clubhouse was finished in 1911 the Burns Club of Atlanta has used the building for their meetings. Once a year on January 25th they hold a special super to celebrate Robert Burns’ birth.
The Burns Club of Atlanta is said to be the city’s oldest continuing social, literacy and cultural organization. The club is private. There are no tours. The only way I could attend a dinner or meeting is if I’m invited by a member.

So, are there any members out there?
 The photograph with this post is used via the Tracy O'Neal Photography Collection at Georgia State University Library. It dates to 1944

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Facing North

If we are really honest with ourselves we all have a few enemies.

Some are real, and some are imagined.

Some enemies are bad habits while others are thoughts and feelings, too.

Sometimes we have a collective enemy like William Ezra Curtis of Carroll County, Georgia.

His enemy happened to be the United States of America because Curtis was a solder in the Confederate Army.

The Curtis family goes way back to the earliest thoughts of Carrollton. William Ezra Curtis' father, Henry, provided the land where Carrollton's town square is located today. Henry Curtis was also the trustee of Carrollton's first school, the Carrollton Academy, and served with the Interior Court as the reviewer of roads. Today the Curtis home is the location of the Carroll County Historical Society.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, William Ezra Curtis joined the Carroll Guards, one of the first volunteer units to be organized in Carroll County. Curtis was placed in Company F of the 19th Georgia and was sent to Virginia early in the war.

By March, 1862 Curtis was appointed Lt. Colonel, and he was given the 41st Georgia Regiment to command. The group was sent to the Army of the Mississippi. Curtis was captured at Vicksburg and paroled there July, 1863.

Rather than just giving up and returning home Curtis decided to face his enemy once more and head back into the thick of battle. By this time the 41st was in Georgia and William Ezra Curtis faced his enemy on home territory and watched folks on the home front scatter before Sherman's onslaught towards Atlanta.

Curtis was wounded somewhere at Mill Creek Gap on February 25, 1864. He was taken to his in-laws home near Newnan, Georgia where he died March 24, 1864.

William Ezra Curtis had one last request. He wanted to be buried facing the enemy, so that is why his is the only grave in the Carrollton City Cemetery that faces north to south rather than east to west.

The human journey through life is an interesting one full of happy moments, sad moments, moments of great success and devastating failure, but one of the most important aspects of our character, I think, has to do with facing our enemies.

Have you identified your enemies?

Devise a plan, and face them!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Chattahoochee Isn't Just a River

The subject of the Confederate Navy is not generally touched on during history courses in our high schools, middle schools, or even the history curriculum I used to teach fourth and fifth graders a few years ago. The only scant mention involves the match-up between the CSS Virginia (Merrimac) and Monitor, but even then it's given drive-by treatment since the Confederate Navy isn't tested, and quite frankly there is other content to introduce.

I would hope Georgia history teachers at the 8th grade level discuss Georgia's part in building the Confederate Navy, but then again, I'm not so sure it's done for many different reasons.

The Confederate States of America established their Navy on February 21, 1861. From the outset the goal was not to match the size of the United States Navy. Instead, the Confederates planned on using innovative technological advances to gain tactical superiority utilizing new ideas such as submarines, torpedo boats, mines, and ironclads.

The Confederate goals were simple. They wanted to hinder the Union efforts by attacking U.S. merchant ships world-wide, and break the Union blockade along southern coasts that had put a strangle-hold on the southern economy.

While I could write volumes regarding the Confederate Navy, I want to touch on a little known part Georgia had to play regarding naval development.

First, we look to Columbus, Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. The Iron Works in Columbus had been in operation for a long time making farm equipment, stoves, and decorative iron pieces, but by June, 1862, the Confederate Navy leased the Columbus Iron Works, and led by John H. Warner, a former U.S. Navy engineer, the Iron Works grew into the largest manufacturer of naval machinery within the Confederacy.

One of the gunboats commissioned was the CSS Chattahoochee.

The CSS Chattahoochee?

Yes, it's not just the name of a river that winds it's way through points north of Atlanta and far south. It was also the name of a Confederate gunboat built on the river of the same name.

The story surrounding the Chattahoochee took place in Saffold, Georgia. Today, Saffold, located in Early County is about as far south as you can travel in Georgia without being in Florida. It's as remote today as it was back in 1862 when the ship was built even though there are some houses on the property today. Saffold is 175 miles south of Columbus and 140 miles upriver from Apalachicola.

In the Fall of 1861 Confederate Navy officers and the chief engineer for the Columbus Naval Works selected Saffold as the spot to build the Chattahoochee because it was so remote, plus the area had an abundance of timber. In fact, several of the sources I have reviewed state as many as five thousand board feet of lumber a day could be had from the local sawmill. 

Another reason for choosing the Saffold location had to do with David S. Johnston, a planter living in Saffold. I like to think of him as Georgia's answer to Noah. Johnston had a strong desire to help the Confederacy, but other than the location of his plantation, the fact he had access to the lumber, and had a ready-made labor force of 90 slaves, Johnston had absolutely NO experience building a boat of any kind.

Johnston's contract with the Confederate Navy called for the ship to be delivered in 120 days at a cost of $47,500.

This website has a few pictures of the Saffold site and describes the Chattahoochee as a three-masted steam vessel armed with four smoothbore 32-pounders in broadside, a 9-inch Dahlgren on a front pivot and a 32-pounder rifle on the rear pivot.

Some sources have described the Chattahoochee as a riverboat and ocean sailing craft all rolled into one equipped with steam engines and sails. The mission plan for the CSS Chattahoochee was simple - steam downriver, break the blockade and open the port of Apalachicola in order to return supply ships and trade to the region.

But there were problems, of course.

First, the deadline for Johnston to deliver the ship came and went which is not really a surprising detail since Johnston and his slaves had no ship building experience.

Realizing skilled workers were needed for certain aspects of the ship's design Johnston placed an ad in the Columbus Daily Sun touting "steady employment and good wages for ship carpenters, joiners, caulkers", etc.

To further entice folks a line at the bottom of the ad said, "All hands employed at the Confederate States Naval Yard are exempt from military duty and anyone in the army can be furloughed to work there."

Navy officers also began suspecting Johnston was using the yard at Saffold for personal business rather than completing the contract, so a strict timetable was put into place.

Finally, ten months past the original deadline the CSS Chattahoochee was delivered on December 8, 1862.

It's clear that originally the Confederate Navy had great plans for the Chattahoochee based on the fact that Lt. Catesby ap Roger Jones was chosen to command the gunboat. Jones had become a famous southern hero when he commanded the CSS Virginia (Merrimac) against the USS Monitor. In case you are wondering.....the "ap" in Jones' name is Welsh meaning "son of".

The Chattahoochee was finally launched in February, 1863. Unfortunately, it ran aground and seriously damaged its hull its first day out.

By the time it was ready to go again the Confederates had sunk obstructions in the Apalachicola River to keep Union ships from venturing up the river. Those same obstructions dashed the hopes of the Chattahoochee's crew from engaging the enemy. During most of 1863, the ship remained  above the obstructions basically serving as a glorified gun battery occasionally holding drills, but that's about it.

It was safe duty, but also boring duty.

Jones moved on to another post and Lt. J.J. Guthrie took command. In late May, 1863 the Chattahoochee steamed down the Apalachicola to aid the schooner Fashion that had taken on cotton and was planning to run the blockade. It had been captured by the Union below the obstructions, but many historians believe Lt. Guthrie intended on ramming the obstructions, but many historians believe Lt. Guthrie intended on ramming the obstructions to give the Fashion assistance.

This site advises further:

Tragically, neither the captain nor his crew knew that a severe early season hurricane was about to move in from the Gulf. The wind and rain increased through the night and by the morning of May 27, 1863 when Guthrie returned, the vessel was already feeling the brunt of the approaching storm. These conditions probably contributed greatly to what happened next. As the crew prepared to raise steam for the trip upriver, an argument broke out over how much water was in the boiler. Reportedly, a gauge was not working and before the ship's chief engineer could intervene, a massive steam explosion rocked the vessel.

It is widely believed this malfunctioning gauge caused the crew to unknowingly allow the boiler to grow red hot before filling it with water. When water poured in hitting the red hot metal casing, it instantly vaporized and burst through various sections of piping attached to the boiler. Sixteen members of the crew were killed within minutes, through being scalded by the steam. Another was mortally injured from a large lump of flying metal ripping upwards through the deck. Two more men were severely wounded and another four received minor injuries. Panicked into believing the ship's gunpowder store adjacent to the magazines might explode, the remaining crew opened plugs in the ship's hull and let her sink to the bottom of the muddy river. Descriptions of what conditions on the deck of the Chattahoochee were like vary; but most confirm a total loss of order by her officers, with men running about frantic with fear and in pain from their wounds. Many jumped overboard and at least three bodies were recovered downstream some days later. The dead and wounded were eventually taken ashore despite an increasing and raging storm.....The ship was quickly recovered and towed upriver to Columbus where she was again refitted.

Refitted again?

Yes, but again the ship didn't see any service. As the Union gained ground in April, 1864 and got closer to Columbus the crew of the Chattahoochee sank their ship in the Chattahoochee River to prevent its capture by the Union.

It would be one hundred years before the ship saw the sunlight again when it was located and raised. 

Part of the hull and the original steam engines are on display at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia.

Yes! Columbus, Georgia has a naval museum....

Instead of blowing through the town on my way to Florida next time, I think we need to spend the night and investigate Columbus a little.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Atlanta Pioneer: Er Lawshe

Some months ago my husband and I took a little field trip over to the Atlanta Zoo. While there we visited the Cyclorama, too. Walking through the exhibits I noticed a picture of this house.

The Lawshe House.

I came home, downloaded the pictures and meant to refresh my memory regarding the Lawshe family and their home, but forgot....until now.

The home, built in 1859, sat on the west side of Peachtree one lot north of Cain Street. It's a classic for the time period with porches on both levels.

Er Lawshe (yes, that's his real name) came South from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with two of his brothers in 1848. Lawshe had apprenticed as a cabinetmaker in Philadelphia. When arrived in Atlanta he had $7.25 in his pocket.

The picture below shows Mr. Lawshe with his bride, Sarah.

Originally, Lawshe partnered with Riley Baker in a jewelry business selling watches and other items. Later he struck out on his own and was very successful to the point he was able to build the fine two-story home at 224 Peachtree Street which adjoined property owned by his in-laws.

During the Civil War Er Lawshe fought for Confederacy meaning that he was actually fighting against many of his family members. The Lawshe family left Atlanta in February, 1865 and headed to Augusta leaving their home basically abandoned as so many others. This made many of Atlanta's fine Peachtree Street mansions readily available for Union officers once they entered the city, and the Lawshe home was no different.

Brigadier General Felix Salm-Salm and his wife Agnes arrived in Atlanta on July 7, 1865 and chose the Lawshe home to live while he was in command of the Atlanta post. Salm-Salm was a  rather colorful fellow. He was from Westphalia, Prussia and was actually a prince of royal blood. He had served in the Prussian cavalry and once the Civil War broke out he joined the Union where he was commissioned in the 8th New York regiment. His wife was an American - the former Agnes Clerq of Baltimore. She was so in love with her husband she never wanted to be apart from him. Agnes would actually join him on the battlefield. She shocked Atlantans by riding through town astride her horse rather than sidesaddle as ladies of good breeding did at the time, but it is said she showed sympathy and compassion for the folks of Atlanta while she was here. They entertained at the Lawshe home by giving simple dinners and teas before leaving the city in October, 1865. 

When the Lawshe family returned following the end of the war Atlanta was of course in ruins, but their home was one of just a few still standing. Lawshe would not replace the boards that clearly showed shell damage.

Er Lawshe set about rebuilding his business at 47 Whitehall, but since there were no materials he resorted to using some of items Union soldiers had used to construct huts with while the city was occupied. In some cases the materials were just debris. Later when he was able he built a three-story brick building on the site of the store.

Er Lawshe also wrote various stories for The Atlanta Constitution later in his life. He was very well thought of in Atlanta and many claimed this was due to his integrity so much so he earned the nickname "Old Reliable".

After Lawshe passed away his home was sold for $18,000 to the Gate City Guards where they would eventually build their armory.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Surprising History in Washington County

If you check basic records spanning across the 237 year history of the United States you discover time after time counties, cities, buildings, bodies of water, people, and even a state have been named for our first president, George Washington including our own Washington County located in the eastern central part of the state.

Taking a closer look, however, you discover that Washington County, Georgia was named for General George Washington in 1784 - five years before he became president.

Georgia's Washington County is the only county in the United States that solely honors Washington's service as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

It does make sense when it is realized that the county, per the Washington County Historical Society, was formed for the express purpose of issuing bounty land grants to Revolutionary War soldiers such as Jared Irwin who not only reached the rank of colonel  during the American Revolution but was also elected governor of Georgia in 1796 and 1806.

Bounty land grants were given to soldiers for services rendered - basically free land for military service.

In 1784, Washington County covered a much larger area than it does today. It was created from Creek Indian Land cessions of November 1, 1783 and was the 10th county formed in the state. The counties of Greene, Hancock, Johnson, Treutlen, Montgomery, Toombs, Tattnall, Evans and portions of Long, Liberty, Candler, Emmanuel, Jefferson, Baldwin, Taliaferro, Oconee and Oglethorpe counties.

The first county seat was at Warthen where today you can find the restored jail seen in an older picture below. It is considered to be the oldest log jail in the state today.

Per Georgia's DNR website for Georgia's State Parks, the jail's most famous occupant was Aaron Burr, third Vice-President of the United States. In 1807, he had been arrested in Mississippi for treason against the United States and was being carried to Richmond, Virginia to stand trial. They reached Warthen at dusk, so Burr spent the night in the little jail while the officers in charge were entertained in the home of Richard Warthen, one of the original recipients of the bounty land grants mentioned above.

By 1796, the county seat had been moved to Sandersville. A courthouse was built, but it was lost in a fire that took most of the town in 1855. A new brick courthouse was constructed a year later.

It is said during the Civil War that Washington County sent more soldiers to serve the Confederate cause than any other. Fifteen different companies were organized there.

Towards the end of the Civil War the 1856 courthouse was burned by the Union. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the Confederates had fired upon advancing  Union troops from the upper floors of the building.

Yet another courthouse was built in 1869 and still stands today. Additions to this courthouse seen below were added in 1899 and 1939. Renovations and rehabilitations were done in the early 1970s and in 1987.

Photo of the old jail via Virtual Vault of Georgia
Photo of the 1896 courthouse via Georgia Info

Monday, July 1, 2013

Banishment in the Twenty-First Century - Georgia Style

In 1974, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld a criminal sentence for a woman who was banished from seven different counties for a year.

Immediately two questions pop into my head.

Seven counties!?!


While I do have a list of folks....a very short list...running through my mind that would make great candidates for banishment from my county, I have to wonder what do you have to do in order to be banished.

After some checking it seems that habitual bad check or drug charges are at the top of list, but seriously...

How can banishment happen in the 21st century?

For the answer we have to go back to the 19th century when Georgia' s Reconstruction-era constitution was written (1877).

It clearly states Georgia citizens can be whipped or banished "beyond the limits of the state" meaning we can't banish someone to the wilds of Alabama...though some deserve it.

Georgia prosecutors and judges interpret the language to mean as long as the banishment is within Georgia's 159 counties it's allowable.

DeKalb County seems to use banishment more than most counties often telling drug offenders they are banished from 158 of Georgia's 159 counties leaving tiny Echols County as the number one travel destination for folks who are banished.

Now before your vision becomes clouded with thousands of U-Haul trucks heading south for Echols County I need to advise those who are banished are rarely checked on due to manpower and funds. However, it does seem like it might be a good use for some of those forfeited assets that some DA's like to spend willy nilly.

Echols County, as far as I know isn't the hotbed of crime it could be due to all the banishments. It IS known for two small towns and one traffic light. The county seat, Statenville is so small it's not even incorporated. Echols is one of three counties in the state that has a county seat that isn't incorporated.

In the beginning Statenville was actually known as Troublesome. I don't know the reason, but it seems to me that if they changed the name back to Troublesome it WOULD be the perfect place to banish troublesome folks.

Thinking a little bit more about the provision in the Georgia Constitution that mentions also provides for whipping.

I have some names for that list, too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless: Atlanta Airport

It's been many weeks since I participated in Wordless Wednesday.  This picture of the Atlanta airport as I remember it when I was a little girl prompted me to participate.

You can like Georgia on my Mind's Facebook page here.

Find other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Changing Pictures

In 1900, W.E.B. Du Bois - then a professor of sociology at Atlanta University - now known as Clark Atlanta University - compiled a series of 363 photographs in two albums titled Types of American Negroes and Negro Life in Georgia, USA which he put on display at the Paris Exhibition.

The exhibit also contained items including charts, maps, and graphs recording the growth of population, economic power and literacy among African Americans in Georgia - the Black middle class that existed some thirty-five years after slavery was outlawed via the 13th Amendment.

Today the Library of Congress site that houses the collection advises:

[Du Bois was] committed to combating racism with empirical evidence of the economic, social and cultural conditions of African Americans. He believed that a clear revelation of the facts of African American life and culture would challenge the claims of biological race scientists influential at the time, which proposed that African American men and women challenged the scientific "evidence" and popular racist caricatures of the day that ridiculed and sought to diminish African American social and economic success. Further, the wide range of hair styles and skin tones represented in the photographs demonstrated that the so-called  "Negro type" was in fact a diverse group of distinct individuals. The one public statement Du Bois made concerning these photographs was that visitors to the American Negro exhibit would find "several volumes of photographs of typical Negro faces, which hardly square with conventional American ideas."

The sad thing is over one hundred years later very few students of history in our schools see these images. Instead they are bombarded with the same images of sharecroppers picking cotton in fields or sitting in the doorways of former slave cabins. While these people and their dismal situations did exist it wasn't the only "picture" of life for Blacks in the American South at the turn-of-the-century.

I'll be posting an album including several of the images at my Facebook page, but here are a few of the Georgia images.

This first image is David Tobias Howard who had his own carriage and driver. He's seated in the back with his wife and mother. Howard was a funeral director, and a high school in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward is named for him.

The picture below is the home of Bishop Gaines of the AME Church in Atlanta.

The man behind the desk in the picture below is IRS Collector Henry A. Rucker....and an African American.

....and here are a couple of more:

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Tuttle

Think about this for a minute...

What would happen if a rock formation in the shape of an eagle was discovered on a construction site?

Construction would stop, all sorts of experts would be called, groups would protest, the rock  formation would receive its own Facebook page and most certainly mention of it would be found in the newspaper, right?

Apparently, finding a rock formation resembling an eagle during construction of a Federal courthouse and post office in 1907 wasn't a big enough deal to make the papers because I can't find one mention of it...anywhere.

Insert a heavy sigh here.

Atlanta has "The TED" referencing Turner Stadium, but we also have "The Tuttle".

Yes, "The Tuttle"...found at 56 Forsyth Street.

I'm referring to the building above that houses the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals renamed in 1981 to honor Elbert Parr Tuttle, an Atlanta  judge known for the large amount of pro bono civil rights work he handled during his legal career. Tuttle was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 for his Civil Rights work.
The building itself has been the location of several important cases through recent years including the Elian Gonzales case and at least two of the decisions regarding Bush v. Gore were decided within the walls of the Tuttle building.
Also known as the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse from years past, the five-story building is huge. It occupies the block bordered by Forsyth, Fairlie, Poplar, and Walton Streets.
In 1907, Atlanta had grown to such proportions a new federal courthouse and post office was needed. Congress appropriated the money and on July 23, 1907 folks in Atlanta viewed this drawing of their million dollar plus courthouse on the front page of The Atlanta Constitution.

Architecturally, the building follows the Second Renaissance Revival style. Some windows contain carved serpent-and-staff designs associated with Mercury, the Roman messenger god - an early symbol used by the postal service.

A mural decorates the lobby portraying an allegorical Justice flanked by Industry and Agriculture.

The carved oak panels throughout the building are decorated with garlands, scrolled brackets and molding.

....and of course the courtrooms are magnificent with detail. Unfortunately,I don't think someone will be writing about many of the courtrooms of today one hundred years from now. They just don't capture the attention as buildings such as "The Tuttle".

James Knox Taylor, the supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury designed the building with ground being broken in 1906. As I read about the building the most amazing thing I found was a natural rock formation resembling an American Bald Eagle was discovered as the building's foundation was dug. Apparently, folks involved decided since it was a symbol of our country, it was a sign that the proper site had been chosen for a Federal building.

I've scoured the papers during the years of construction - 1906 to 1910 - and can't find a mention of the discovery.

Was this just some natural fluke in the topography of the site?

Was this evidence of Native Americans in the area?

Should it have been preserved?

Seriously....Why can't I find any further mention of the formation?

Sometimes, I can't find the answers I'm searching for, and it's very frustrating.

Pictures courtesy of the Library of Congress.
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