Sunday, June 26, 2016



The year 1926 was a year of hope. It was a time when the economy of Dublin and Laurens County was already in and had been in an economic downturn for more than a dozen years.  As the cotton crops began to rebound, way too many African-American tenant farmers were deserting the county in droves, if they had the financial resources to move to the North for better paying jobs and presumably favorable social conditions.

In March of that year, Charles Saunders, of the Macon Telegraph, took a trip to Dublin to write a paid promotional article exalting the agricultural opportunities and industrial advantages for new entrepreneurs.

In those in between years, Laurens County's population was holding steady at nearly 40,000.  It will be noted that the number of residents  would fall in the decades to come and only return to the mid-1920s level during the 1990 Census.  With nearly 510,000 acres and 810 square miles of area, Laurens County was situated near the center of the state and in the center of a 300,000 person trading area.

Dublin's 1926 population, with  an estimated 8,000 persons, was up some ten fold from its 1890 level before the economic boom of the city's first Golden Age began.

Essential to the recovery of the county was the success of the county's four railroads; the Macon, Dublin and Savannah, the Wrightsville & Tennille, the Hawkinsville & Eastman and The Dover Railroads.

More importantly to the local the local economy was the fact that Dublin was located at the intersection of the Dixie Overland Highway (U.S. Highway 80,) the Woodrow Wilson Highway (U.S. Highway 441,) and the Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. Highway 319.)  Although the vast majority of the county's roads were yet to be paved, plans were already in the works to pave the national and state highways in the coming five to seven years.  A positive, but dwindling resource, was the availability of river transportation.

Every community claims it has an ideal climate.  And, Laurens was no exception with an average temperature of 66.8 degrees.  County residents were extremely proud of their recently established health department, which led the way to reduce the number of infant deaths, keep her citizens healthy and provide preventive measures to keep the birth rate at 10 per thousand above the death rate.  The location of the city of Dublin above artesian acquifers made drinking water here a prime, pure and safe commodity.

With its vast abundance of pine and hardwood timber and its close proximity to the rich deposits of bauxite and kaolin in its neighboring counties, Laurens claimed to be a prime location for new businesses.  Dublin boasted rich deposits of clay which were used for the mass manufacturing of bricks.  Land prices were at a recent low following the coming of the boll weevil and the end of World War I in the recent decade.

The county boasted the finest schools and best churches anywhere in rural Georgia.  Chief among the county's promoters were W.H. Proctor, Chamber of Commerce Secretary and J.F. Hart, Jr., the county's farm agent.  Many in town were proud of the recently organized Lions Club under the leadership of Marshall Chapman and Tom Curry.  Many people got the groceries from small grocers who purchased them from wholesale grocers, Cochran Brothers, organized in 1916, and Alsup Grocery, organized in 1919.  The Cochrans expanded into agricultural related products, gloating over the fact that they were the first business to receive a load of chicken feed in the county.

If the country side and its outlying communities were the center of agriculture, Dublin was the center of industrial, commercial and service businesses.

There were lumber mills, a new half million-dollar pulpwood mill, a veneer mill, as well as a bobbin, shuttle and handle factory.   And, there were numerous saw mills and planing mills in addition to a buggy wheel rim factory and barrel stave factory.  

For nearly three decades, Dublin had generated its own electricity, while county residents still dined and read by lantern and candle light.  Georgia Power's 1925 purchase of Dublin's power plant guaranteed the spread of electricity throughout the county.  Another dozen years would pass until  Rural Electrification began to supply county residents with lights.  Another two dozen more years would pass before electricity was available to all county residents.

Dublin boasted two strong banks, the First National Bank and the Georgia State Banking
Company. Both would fail within the next two years.  There were the usual compliment of stores
and business to serve the needs of the city's citizens.

City boosters were right proud of the city's infrastructure, including her schools, the
Carnagie Library, Stubbs Park, the city's two swimming pools and beautiful tree lined streets
which combined to make the city an ideal place to live with unlimited opportunities for success
for every man.

Among the more successful agri industries was the Empire Cotton Oil Company, which encompassed two and one half blocks.  Marshall - Peacock Chevrolet Company became the first modern car dealership in the city.

Labor sources were adequate to meet the needs of employers, primarily in the agriculture related industry.  The county's main crops were: cotton, corn, oats, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, tobacco, melons, sugar cane, wheat, peaches and pecans while farmers raised large numbers of cattle, hogs and poultry.

The diversification measures put in place by farm organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Agriculture's agents kept the county from collapsing when the one major cash crop began to fail after the boll weevil invasion of 1914.

While there was still hope in 1926.  Those faithful wishes came crashing to halt in October 1929 when the Stock Market crashed.    The aftermath of World War II saw a renewed growth in the agricultural and industrial areas of the local community.

Everyone does or should promote their community at all times.  Otherwise, who else would?

So, I leave you with this wise maxim as proclaimed by former Dublin city councilman, Junior Scarboro, who said, "It is a poor frog who won't croak his own pond."

The West Point Class of 1936

In the long history of the United States Military Academy, few classes have had such an impact on the history of the United States as the Class of 1936.  The cadets of the 1820s through the 1850s shaped the future of our country during the horrific War Between the States.  The Class of ‘36, with its forty- eight future generals, made unprecedented contributions to their country and the cause of freedom in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and during the decades of the Cold War which bridged the three conflicts.  One young man, a son of a general but unique to his class, helped to bring the black soldier to the forefront of the United States Military.  This is the story of the West Point Class of 1936, who for a few hours eighty years ago this week were treated to the finest hospitality the men and women of Dublin could muster.

It was the beginning of their senior year at West Point.  After achieving the rank of first class cadets, these 277 young men were bound for ten days  of intense infantry training in the sweltering sun of Fort Benning.  They traveled from New York to Savannah on the U.S.S. Chateau Thierry.   After a hardy breakfast, the cadet corps traveled by truck convoy along U.S. Highway 80 from Savannah. The first item on the days itinerary was midday lunch in Dublin at Stubbs Park on July 31, 1935.

Mess Officer Capt. William R. McKennon arrived a day early to begin preparations to feed more than 500 cadets, officers, escort crew and guests.   Capt. McKennon set up the mess hall in the Hargrove Gym, the high school’s wooden gymnasium which was located on the present site of Stubbs Park Gym.   Mayor Marshall Chapman requested that everyone in the city display their American flags as sign of support for their troops.  Milo Smith, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, made all of the arrangements with a host of volunteers at his direction. Wilbur S. Jones, the local Sinclair dealer, had adequate gas standing by to supply the convoy for the remainder of its trip.   MS William Moon and his twelve assistants provided a delicious meal of baked ham, mashed potatoes, stewed corn, cold sliced tomatoes, ice cream, cake and lemonade placed on tables just outside the gym.

Of the young men in the park that day, three cadets would become listed among the leading Army generals of the 20th Century.   They were Creighton Abrams, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and William C. Westmoreland.  Creighton Abrams commanded armor battalions during World War II.   During the Korean War, Gen. Abrams (left0 served as Chief of Staff of the I, IX and X corps.   Just as the war in Vietnam was escalating, Abrams was promoted to Major General in 1965 as deputy commander and later commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command. Gen. Abrams served as chief of staff of the United States Army from 1972 to 1974 and supervised the withdrawals from Vietnam until his death.  Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the son of the country’s first and only black general, was shunned by his classmates and forced to eat in silence and to speak only when spoken too.  The abuse only aroused his desire to succeed in his academic and military studies.  When Davis graduated 35 out of 276 in his class, he joined his father as the country’s only two black line officers.  Five years later, Davis found himself assigned to a flight training program at Tuskegee, Alabama.    Davis led his “Tuskegee Airmen” to unrivaled success over the skies of Europe, where one of every sixteen military personnel killed in action during the war lost their lives.  During his group’s 200 escort missions, not a single bomber was shot down by the German Luftwaffe.

Davis (left) returned to action in 1953 in Korea. The country’s first black Air Force general, Lt. General Davis retired in 1970 to accept an appointment by President Nixon as Assistant Secretary for Transportation for Environment, Safety and Consumer Affairs.  William C. Westmoreland, a former artillery officer and Superintendent of U.S. Military Academy, was Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1965.    Gen. Westmoreland command the United States Troops in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968  and served as Chief of Staff of the Army from 1968-1972.

 LTG John H. Michaelis was a senior aide to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower during World War II.  After the war, he served as Chief of Staff of the Allied Powers in Europe.  After serving as commander of the Army in Alaska and a stint as Commandant of the U.S. Military Academy, Gen. Michaelis served as commander of the 5th Army from 1966 to 1969.  Michaelis left that position to serve as Commander of U.N. and U.S. forces in Korea.  Gen. Michaelis was aided by his deputy commander and former classmate Gen. John H. Chiles.  Bruce Palmer, Jr., a son of a brigadier general and grandson of a medal of honor winner in the Civil War, retired as a four star general.  Gen. Palmer was passed over for the command of the troops in Vietnam after his classmate Gen. Westmoreland’s promotion in favor of another classmate, Gen. Abrams. Palmer, deputy commander under Gen. Abrams,  made his mark on the Vietnam war by writing a scathing report on the failure of the Army and the White House to design a plan to win the war.

Gen. William Westmoreland 

Ten Cadets never made it through World War II.    William Fickes was killed by lightning just four months after graduation.  Maj. Peter McGoldrick was killed in N. Africa in Nov. 1942.  Maj. Frederick Kellam, a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was killed in action in the first few hours of D-Day.  Maj. Leonard Godfrey, of the 16th Division, was killed in the first few moments of the Normandy invasion at Omaha Beach. LTC Francis Oliver and LTC Duncan Dowling, Jr., of Augusta, Ga., were killed in the summer of 1944 in France.  Majors Carl Boehr, John Goldtrap, Karol Bauer, and Lawrence Prichard endured the Bataan Death March only to be taken prisoner by the Japanese.  These four officers and thousands more soldiers were herded as POWs into unmarked transport ships bound for Japan. Many of these ships were bombed and sunk by American fighter pilots, who were oblivious to the human cargo in the holds of their targets.

General Howell M. Estes was elevated to a four star general by President Lyndon Johnson and placed in command of the Military Air Transport Command in 1965.     Gen. John A. Heintges, the commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment that captured Hitler’s villa at Berchtesgaden in May 1945, was second in command of the Army in Vietnam from 1965 until he was replaced by classmate Creighton Abrams.

Gen. Howard M. Snyder served as a physician to General and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1946 to 1948 and from 1951 to 1960.  It was with Dr. Snyder’s approval that President Eisenhower sought a second term after a near fatal heart attack in 1955.   Gen. James Landrum, then Lt. Col. Landrum, was talking to celebrated war reporter Ernie Pyle when he was killed by a Japanese machine gunner on Okinawa in April 1945.  Lt. Gen. Albert Clark was appointed to head the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1970.  Maj. Gen. Chester Clifton, Jr. served as the senior military aide to President John F. Kennedy.  Gen. Clifton gave President Kennedy daily morning briefings on military intelligence reports.  Clifton was riding in the motorcade with the President when he was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

The general continued to advise President Lyndon Johnson in that capacity until his retirement in 1965. Gen. Charles Billingslea, a former World War II paratrooper, was given command of army units assigned to enforce desegregation at the University of Mississippi in 1962 and to protect a group led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who sought to end racial discrimination in Birmingham in 1963.  Perhaps most notable among the cadets who weren’t presented their diplomas in June 1936 by World War I Supreme Commander, Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing was cadet I. Chang.  Chang, who was sent by the Chinese government to study American military tactics,  transferred to VMI, where he graduated in 1936.  Capt. Chang and his entire company were killed in the defense of Nanking in Dec. 1937.

As these young men paused to enjoy southern cooking at its finest in the cool breezes of the ancient pines of Stubbs Park, it is inconceivable that they had any conception of the impact that they would have on their country in the next four decades and for many decades to come.

To view the Class of 1936 graduation ceremonies, click  above.

Saturday, August 22, 2015



As Dublin entered the last decade of the 19th Century, she had to battle one devastating fire after another.  By the end of the year, the dedicated, heroic people of the Emerald City had won the battles against the many conflagrations which threatened to keep the burgeoning metropolis  imprisoned in oblivion under a thick bed of ashes.

As the new year of 1890 dawned, the embers of the apocalyptic fire in May of 1889, had barely cooled.  The work of rebuilding one of the city’s main four blocks had begun. Nearly every structure on the southern side of the first block of West Jackson Street.   Only Dr. R.H. Hightower’s first brick building in the city survived the raging inferno.    George Maddox built a large, commodious two-story store. Major W. L. Jones rebuilt after the fire and to show his confidence in his hometown, he built a beautiful $4,000.00 home.

Nearly every lot in the core of downtown had a new, brick and hopefully fire proof, lot under construction.  The use of alleys and fire proof walls were being used for the first time.

The river boat business, headed by Captain R. C. Henry was enjoying its prime. Henry and others  carried cargo up and down the river over a sixty-mile range.  The long awaited and much needed wagon and passenger bridge was headed toward a reality.  Dr. R.H. Hightower couldn’t wait, so he erected a wooden one, one which failed to survived a devastating flood.

Rumors of the coming of the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad were spreading rapidly across the county.  The county’s second, and perhaps more important, had floundered for three years as the Macon and Dublin and the Savannah, Dublin and Western Shortline.  The overwhelming excitement of the city’s location on a main railroad permeated the thoughts of all forward thinking during the year of 1890. By the end of the year, construction of the railroad was moving into Twiggs County.  The first load of freight commissioned by Harry S. Edwards and William A. Davis was shipped into Macon in November.  Completion of the railroad into Dublin would become a reality by July 1891.

Dublin’s third railroad, the Empire and Dublin, which would eventually make into the city in 1891, fell into the hands of a court appointed receiver following  severe economic uncertainties in the fall of 1890.

The Baptists of Dublin were elated that Rev. W.S. Ramsay, the iconic and revered minister of that church.  Ramsay was a highly respected boy colonel during the late war and the principal founder of the county’s modern day school system.

During 1890, fires continued to plague the downtown area of Dublin.  In May, just as the graduation assembly was vacating the aufitorium of the Academy, a fire alarm was sounded.  A widespread panic was averted.  The fire originated in J.M. Reinhart’s store, operated by J.S. Brady, and engulfed the entire building as well as the stores of his neighbor, H.E. Kreutz for at total of $4000.00 in damages.

On September 21, a small, but calamitous fire struck the McCrary Building, causing $ 4,200.00 in damage to the Dublin Gazette, the harness shop, the Dublin Bottling Company, and several other stores. In mid-November, Mrs. Mattie Williams saw her dreams of her new steam laundry go up in flames. Her building, owned by future congressman, Dudley M. Hughes, adjoining that of Dr. Charles Hicks, was a complete loss including his valuable instruments and priceless books and  medical records.  The fire of unknown origin caused several thousand dollars in damages.

Equally critical to the meteoric development of Dublin was the completion of the river bridge over the Oconee River at the eastern margin of the town.  Although the funds had finally been appropriated after seven years of trying and failing, an argument arose among the landowners on the eastern banks of the river exactly where the bridge was to cross and how much money would they be paid in compensation for the condemnation of their “highly valuable” property.

Third on the long list of needed infra structural improvements was a pure and reliable water system.  Dublin, located above a main and plentiful aquifer, was far ahead of other cities of her size in the state.  Water filled with lime from shallow wells in the area was considered unhealthy and a major contributor to the large number of cases of malaria. Artesian water is what was needed and it would be artesian water which would help quench the thirst of the multitude of new residents coming into the city and provide the necessary ingredients for the city’s newest industrial and agricultural ventures.  Town’s people began  to chip in their dollars and cents into a well fund.  The first artesian well was dug by Napoleon Bonaparte Baum on the northeastern edge of the Courthouse square across the street from his elegant home.

The year of 1890 saw the loss of Col. Thomas B. Felder, Jr., one of the city’s and the  state’s most promising attorneys.  Felder, a former mayor,  removed to Atlanta, where he won fame and infamy in political and legal circles.  Following the untimely death of David Ware, Jr, Dublin’s popular young mayor and editor, Capt. Lucien Quincy Stubbs, son of Col. John M. Stubbs,  the commander of the Dublin Light Infantry, and a popular five-term mayor, was elected mayor for the first time by a near unanimous acclamation.

The year 1890 saw major changes in Dublin’s three newspapers.  A.H.  McLaws, an Augusta educator and former field grade Confederate officer under the command of his brother, Lafayette McLaws, opened a new paper, the Dublin People.  Messers Peacock and Stantley took over the operation of the Dublin Post.  Hal M. Stanley, the founder of the Dublin Courier Herald, a member of the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame and Georgia’s first Labor Commissioner, took over the editorship of the Dublin Gazette.

Dr. J.T. Chappell, the leader of the local Farm Alliance, dominated his opponent in the Democratic party primary and was easily elected to the House of Representatives when the  Republican had trouble agreeing on a candidate.

The population of Dublin in 1890 was enumerated at 862 persons.  The coming of the railroads, bridges and other internal improvements saw the population rise more than 300% to 2,987 in 1900 and a nearly doubling jump by 1910 to 5,795., the third highest increase in the state during the first decade of the 20th Century.

Laurens County went from 52nd in population in 1890 (13,747)  to 14th (25,908) in 1900 making her the third fastest growing county in the state. It was during that pivotal year, that Laurens County stood at No. 6 among Georgia counties in population, behind Fulton, Chatham, Richmond, Bibb and Muscogee.  The county slipped to 7th in the state in 1910.

So on the 125th anniversary of the pivotal, fate changing year of 1890, let us look back to the time when Dublin and Laurens rose like the ancient phoenix from the ashes of death to become one of the states most important business, farming and political cities.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


I recently came into possession of a docket book from the Mayor's Court of Dublin from 1888 to 1890. The torn and tattered volume documents the four hundred and fifty cases filed against Dublin citizens for low misdemeanor crimes committed at a time when demon rum was being run out of town. For most of the two decades following the Civil War, the abundance of alcohol led to the labeling of the struggling town of Dublin as a wild, rowdy and raucous town. It was only after the temperance crowd marched in and barely managed to ban the legal sale of spiritous liquors and intoxicating ales that crimes in the city began to decline.

Virtually no one was exempt from the dogged enforcement of town ordinances. The very first case in 1888 was made against Lucien Q. Stubbs, who was fined the sum of $5.00 for fighting. Stubbs, who went on to become one of Dublin's most popular mayors by winning four elections, probably paid the fine in lieu of being humiliated by working on the public streets. Judge J.B. Wolfe and W.R. Scarborough were cited for violating an ordinance prohibiting the obstruction of a drainage ditch. Tom Hughes and F.T. Clark paid an equal amount for obstructing the wooden city sidewalk.

John Walker plead guilty to a charge of riding an animal in too fast a manner through the city streets. I assume it was a horse that John Walker was riding, but the joy ride cost old John the sum of $3.00. Richard Nelson's crime was somewhat more vague. Nelson was sentenced to pay only court costs for his conviction of "lurking on the streets at unusual hours," which begs the question, "was it legal to lurk during usual hours?" Mayor David Ware, Jr. sentenced Thomas Reinhardt to pay a fine of $5.00 for "loitering on the streets at unusual hours." Reinhardt's miscue was that he should have been lurking instead of just standing still and loitering.

In the summer of 1888, there was a rash of charges for operating restaurants without a license. In one day, the Mayor fined Paul Hillman and Ben Simmons the minimum sum of $1.00 for skipping the red tape. Rachel Linder, one of the few women cited in the docket, and R. Robinson were inexplicably fined $20.00 for the same act. Maybe their food wasn't as good as Paul and Ben's.

L.Q. Stubbs, who would preside over the court beginning in 1890, was joined by W.J. Hightower, T.M. Hightower, Robert Smith and George Bangs in some type of shooting match inside the city limits. This particular frolic costs the leading businessmen the paltry sum of $1.00. Stephen A. Corker, who son, Frank G. Corker, was soon to be elected Mayor, joined businessmen R.P. Roughton, Dan Green, John Hightower and William Colley in pleading guilty to shooting without permission. Maybe they should have just asked.

Sam Madison's horse broke loose and started running on the streets like breakaway horses generally do. This slip of the knot cost Madison a mere dollar but why was he there in the first place? Shouldn't city court be reserved for those real bad boys, the drunks, the disorderly and the combination thereof? Alex Mitchell went beyond drunk and disorderly, he was pure out drunk and riotous - a charge which landed him a twenty dollar fine.

Christmas and New Year's revelry usually brought out the mandatory arrests for the improper use of fireworks. Richmond Nelson paid two dollars for exploding fireworks without permission. Jessie Bracewell had to pay a $ 5.00 fine for using combustible material without due caution. It remains unclear whether or not Bracewell received permission to combust his material or that he was fined an extra three bucks for doing something stupid.

Jack Stanley was fined by Mayor L.Q. Stubbs for violating the Sabbath. Paul Hillman was found to not have really broken the Sabbath. Remember him? He had gotten of lightly for running a restaurant without a license. Sam Wright, Lewis Tillery and John Hudson each paid $2.00 for riding too fast in town.

Mayor Stubbs' father, the inestimable Col. John M. Stubbs, who led the town's growth out of obscurity into prosperity, had a awful autumn in 1889. In October, he and his brother in law H.V. Johnson, son of former governor, judge and vice-presidential candidate Gov. Herschel V. Johnson, were each fined for fighting. In December, Col. Stubbs returned to face charges of being disorderly.

The moniker of being the "town drunk" easily belonged to one "Pink" Hughes. Pink was twice sentenced in the last half of 1888 for being drunk and disorderly and resisting arrest. But in 1889, Hughes was convicted on seven separate occasions. Hughes contributed nearly $120.00 to the city coffers for his improprieties. He plead guilty once in September and was surprisingly found not guilty later by Mayor Stubbs. Seems like ole' Pink was always tying one on and this time fooled the local constable.

With the elimination of alcohol, crime rates plummeted. In the last half of 1888 alone, there were 294 criminal cases. The following year saw only 177 cases, the majority of which were drunk in the streets or just plain drunk. Many people were disorderly and an equal amount were both drunk and disorderly. Thirty three people were convicted of fighting in 1889, which represented a dramatic decrease from the twenty three persons convicted in the first half of the preceding year.

Obviously there were more crimes committed in the city and throughout the county in those days. High misdemeanors and felonies came under the jurisdiction of the state courts. Of all the more than five hundred cases documented in the book, one case stands out above all the rest. While most of the fines handed down by the mayor were ten dollars or less and few ever exceeded $25.00 per offense, a thirty five dollar fine was levied on James Taylor. What was Taylor's crime? It didn't involve drinking, fighting, or even loud swearing - that cost Brant Gay $2.50 - swearing softly seemed to be legal. No, it was not the twenty five dollars which Taylor paid for fighting which resulted in the court's highest fine. The whopping $35.00 penalty was for insolence towards a lady. If Mayor Phil Best was holding court today, the line of men answering that charge would wind out the door, run down the hall, extend out the door and cover the sidewalk all the way up to the courthouse.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Once upon a war, there was a time, well two times.  In order to save daylight at the end of the workday as World War II unfolded, the United States Government implemented new time zones; Eastern War Time, Central War Time, etc.   The process had been used in World War I by Woodrow Wilson.  The first implementation of War Time came on February 9, 1942, just two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

A time of controversy arose in Dublin and around Georgia about  new time zones and which ones would the people of Laurens County observe.  Those men with time on their hands - those who had the money or the power to go to Atlanta to make new laws and change the way that the common folks lived -  ignited a cyclone where time flew in circles, around and around and back again. 

In 1941, Georgia’s legislature voted to establish Eastern Standard Time across the state, replacing the tw0 time zone systems of eastern and western Georgia. 

On January 28, 1943, Georgia’s governor Ellis Arnall signed a bill changing the state from Eastern War Time to Central War Time, effectively repealing President Roosevelt’s nationwide time zones.  Georgia was nearly alone in the change.  Ohio was considering going back to the old time, but only Michigan immediately joined Georgia in the reversal of the Federal time zones. 

The measure drove  the state into a crisis. Confusion of what time it really was nearly paralyzed the state. All railroads and airplane companies remained on Eastern War Time.  Baffled mayors looked to their councils for advice to roll back or leave the hands on their clocks alone.    Across the state, one city after another wrestled with the question at hand.  Savannah, Augusta and Macon immediately decided to keep the status quo, although the Macon council had a time committee to study the measure before a final decision was made.  That decision would change.  Macon’s government accepted the new time for some activities while other people were going about their lives an hour behind their next door neighbors.      
In Atlanta, the state’s and the region’s transportation hub, the measure was also studied while the government conformed to state standards, government agencies and schools matched the Federal time. 

“Atlanta is the hub of all war activities in the South,” said Councilman John White, and “it cannot afford to operate on two times.”

Despite the legislature’s affirmative vote, Gov. Arnall dodged the criticism by saying, “I’m not going to try to make anybody do anything they don’t want to.  Any city that so desires, can go on Rocky Mountain time or Eastern time.” 

In Dublin, the city council voted to leave all city clocks on Eastern War Time.  By ignoring the legislature’s mandate, the city would be in conformance with all trains and buses in the city as well as the majority of the rest of the country.  

Initially the city schools and the Carnegie Library did their civic duty and followed the new law.  After one week, the school and library boards decided to get back in step with the rest of the city. 

The Laurens County Commissioners did not take action immediately although the county schools moved their clocks back to Central time.  The county’s semi-official time piece, the courthouse clock, was left unchanged by order of Superior Court Judge, R. Earl Camp.

There was some minor confusion among the churches of the city and the county.  The Rev. Earl Stirewalt, of the Dublin Ministerial Association, announced that the majority of the churches decided to go back to Eastern time for their services. 

The Georgia Senate went back to work.  Some factions wanted to go back to the pre-war dual system with Atlanta and Columbus being on Central time and Macon, Augusta and Savannah in the Eastern zone.  The State Republic Committee approved a measure to do just that.  That measure would repeal the Central War Time Zone as proposed by State Senator Herschel Lovett of Dublin, who favored returning the state to Eastern time under pressure from his constituents. 

“I favor the new time, but I am up here to represent the wishes of my people,” said  Senator Lovett, who originally voted in favor of the Central Time bill, which was actually the same time as it was before the 1941 bill placed Georgia in the same time zone. 

A feeble compromise was reached accepting the heart of Lovett’s bill, but delaying its implementation until April 1, 1943.  But when David Atkinson, the governor’s floor leader in the Senate, polled his members, the necessary “ayes” were five short of passage.  The measure was dropped.  

For the remainder of the war, Georgians across the state went about their daily lives never knowing what time it really was.  One thing was for sure, they knew when it was time to eat and when it was  time to go to sleep.

Finally on the day after Labor Day in 1945 and two days after the Japanese government signed the surrender agreement aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, the state’s Attorney General, Eugene Cook, of Dublin, announced that Georgia would return to Eastern Standard Time as soon as the Congress of the United States discontinued War Time.  

As the calendars were turned to October, everything was back to normal.  Ironically the change wasn’t noticed in the western part of the state.  But in Dublin and the rest of East Georgia, the clocks were turned back an hour.

So, in a few weeks when we spring the hands of our clocks forward and when we all say “I can’t get used to this new time,” be glad that we will still know really what time it really is.    

Friday, February 6, 2015


Without a doubt, January is the coldest and the darkest month of the year.  And in most areas around the state it is one of the wettest, closely rivaled only by the tropical storm months of the summer.  We here in Dublin and Laurens County are relatively lucky when it comes to floods.  It was in the bend of the river where the old Indian roads converged at the Oconee River where the county's founders first staked out the town of Dublin, where the flood plain is narrow.  Major floods, before the construction of Lake Sinclair, occurred at a one per decade rate.  After the dam at Sinclair was erected, the number of major floods in the inhabited areas of Dublin and East Dublin has plummeted. 

Speaking of wet months, around the second week of January 1925, ninety years ago it began to rain in Laurens County and all around the South.  The rains poured down, heavily and almost daily. The rivers and creeks began to rise.   It rained some more. And, then some more.  The floods came and came again.  Not since 1887 had so much rain had so much of a profound effect on our area as during that rainy month, ninety winters ago.

As far as rivers went then, there were no dams along the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers to control the water levels down stream.  Torrential winter rains and severe summer freshets left river dwellers to suffer from  the wrath of a frequently unmerciful  mother nature.

Dublin was established as a river port along the Oconee River in 1811.  Although the bulk of the commercial district is situated along a ridge nearly a  hundred feet above the mean level of the river, industries along the lower ends of Gaines, East Jackson and Madison Street frequently fell victim to rising winter waters.  Especially susceptible to flooding was the plywood mill situated on the banks of the river just above the river bridge.  From its earliest days in the early 1900s and even until now, thirty foot levels were always unkind to improvements on the property. 

River levels, as they always do, peaked first at places north and northwest of Dublin.  Locally the first effects of the strong torrents were the washing out of bridges and railroad trestles, the first coming along the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad near Dudley.  In town, there were some places where the river spilled more than 250 feet further out from  its banks than normal.

Wooden bridges, the mainstay of the county's infrastructure, were damaged beyond calculation.  The steel bridge across Hunger and Hardship Creek was six to eight feet under water and totally useless as an entrance or exit along the northern edge of the city. 

The 1920 Oconee River Bridge, somewhat new and modern with improved causeways,  was holding, although the same could not be said of the next bridge downstream at Mt. Vernon, which was beginning to wash completely away.  The railroad bridge at Dublin was still standing, but railroad officials dared not take loaded freight trains over the raging river as it relentlessly pommeled the thirty-five-year-old columns with tons of pressure.   The same could be said all over the central and southern parts of the state, where many substantial bridges were sustaining some degree of damage. 

Days and days of incessant rain brought the Oconee above its flood stage of 22 feet.  "Every branch has turned to a creek and every creek is now a river," wrote a Dublin newspaperman.
With the Oconee still rising, industries along the flood plain began to shut down.  Water backed up into the boilers of the Ice Plant bringing production of the valuable commodity to a halt. 

By the 22nd, county residents had reported that nearly every wooden bridge in the county had been swept away.  Five miles below Dublin on present day Highway 441, the long, wooden bridge over Turkey Creek at Garretta had a twenty-foot-wide fatal, gaping section swept away in the deluge, cutting off the city's main highway to the south. 

People living in northeast Dublin in the Scottsville neighborhoods east of North Decatur had lived with flooding waters for three decades. This time knew they that the flood was for real with the water getting higher and higher every day.

Travel along county roads, made mostly of sand and clay, was nearly impossible.  The trains of The Wrightsville & Tennille and Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroads trains stopped running altogether.   And, when trains stopped, nearly everything else stopped.  Pardon the pun, but there was a flood of mail stacked up in post offices around the county and the state.

On the 21st of January, the river began to crest at 29.6 feet measured at the passenger bridge.  Along the Ocmulgee, the river at Abbeville had risen to 20.1 feet, 11 feet above flood stage, while upriver at Hawkinsville, the water was 36 feet deep, seven feet above flood levels. At Lumber City near the junction of the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers, the waterline stood at 26 feet, nine feet higher than the town's folk wanted to see.

But the water didn't crest in Dublin as predicted on the 21st.  Slight raises were seen during the night bringing the official level on January 22 to 29.84 inches, a measly and insignificant one-sixth of an inch below thirty feet. That crest fell nearly three inches short of the all time record of 32.8 feet established in mid April 1936.

In the Lake Sinclair era, the highest crest of the Oconee River in Dublin came on February 8, 1998.  Depending on the spot where the depth was measured, Don Bryant, the head of Laurens County's Emergency Management Agency, stated that the river crested at 30.54 feet.

As the water levels receded almost as fast as they climbed, all activities began to resume as they normally would.  

In meteorological circles, the year 1925 was quite remarkable.  It was a year when unprecedented and record rainfalls were measured in the winter and the spring.  By the summer, it started getting hot, real hot - a record year to date for temperatures.  By the autumn, the rains stopped and all was dry.  And, mother nature's ever revolving, ever changing cycle began again.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


1914: The End of the Golden Age

As years go in our past, the year 1914 was one of those years you hated to see end.  For all of the great and wonderful things which happened here a century ago, the fourteenth year of the 20th Century was one final flare into the heavens of our community’s first great golden age. As the year came to an end, Dubliners and Laurens County were celebrating the Christmas season with one of the first, if not the first, lighted municipal Christmas trees in the state and one of the first in the United States.  Still, all was not goodness and light, Decades of darkness and despair would soon reach out their tentacles in an attempt to drag us into the abyss of gloom and despondency.

It was a year when sports dominated the headlines during the spring.  Wrestling matches, featuring some of the best professional and amateur wrestlers in the United States of America, came to Bertha Theater in the early spring to determine the who was the champion.    During that same spring, the Bloomer Girls, a premier women’s traveling baseball team, came to town, where they suffered a defeat to the Dublin boys, a rarity during their southern tour of 1914.

Dublin’s largest church, the First Baptist Church, was officially dedicated upon the paying off of the construction loan, seven years after the building was completed.  Mrs. F.H. Rowe was the first person to be baptized in the church. Another new building plan was making headlines.  Frank G. Corker, President of the First National Bank and an officer of the Georgia Mausoleum Company, announced the construction of a municipal mausoleum at Northview Cemetery. By most accounts, the building, not just for members of a single family, would become one of the first of its kind in the South.

As tensions began to build south of the border with Mexico, local patriots, under the command of W.C. Davis, organized a militia company in case a war with Mexico was declared.

On a grand note, the Federal Post Office on East Madison Street was finally completed, three years after the beginning of construction and a year and a half after its official opening.

Business interests began to suffer and with the economic downturn. The Chamber of Commerce, which had been originally organized in 1911, was re-organized with hopes of a permanent organization for centuries to come.  Present at the first meeting of new chamber were:  C.B. Cadwell (Secretary,) W.W. Robinson (President,) J.M. Finn (Vice President,) and D.S. Brandon (Chairman of Auditing Committee.) Members entertained with movies at the Bertha with free cigars and Chero Cola.

In some news notes of mere trivia, William Barlow celebrated his 103 birthday, making him one of the oldest white residents in Laurens County’s history.  The Farmer's Enterprise, an African-American firm, opened in the building at the corner of Lawrence and Madison next to Chinese laundry under the direction of Rev. A. T. Speight.  Hal M. Stanley was elected as Grand Chancellor of Georgia Knights and Pythias.   The Crystal Palace was  reopened under the direction of  J.D. Southall, who led the installation of a new projector. The Rockledge Militia District, the last militia district created in Laurens County, was proposed.

The county’s first orphanage, Bethlehem Orphange,  opened near Minter on land donated by Mrs. B.M. Wilkes.  The orphanage, which came here from Meansville, Pike County, burned after a few months of operation.

The Rentz Banking Company was organized in May under the direction of  President, Dr. J.M. Page, Vice Pres., H.D. Barron and W.E. Bedingfield; Cashier, H.K. Murchison; and directors:  A.W. Davidson, S.T. Hall, J.S. Adams, W.A. Bedingfield, E.S. Baldwin, Alex D. Blackshear, and J.W. Rowe.  Down in Cadwell, the city was making preparations to install the first light and water system in the county outside of Dublin.

Back in Dublin, the Southern Exchange Bank opened its doors across from the Post Office.

In June, children, accompanied by the mothers and grandmothers, descended upon Dublin for the annual meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Children of the Confederacy.

In June 1914, the Oconee Cotton Mills, successor to the Dublin Cotton Mills burned to the ground.  The mill, located on Marion Street in West Dublin, was the crowning jewel of the cotton industry which sparked a revolution in Laurens County in cotton production,.

On August 3, 1914, the future governor of Georgia, Nat Harris, spoke to a large crowd at the Laurens County Courthouse.

On a sad note, Judge Kendrick J. Hawkins, the recently appointed first Judge of the Dublin Judicial Circuit, died.  Judge Kendrick was replaced by William W. Larsen, who would later serve several terms in the Congress of the United States.

Dublin attorney Peyton L. Wade was chosen by the governor to sit on the bench of the Georgia Court of Appeals.  Wade served for six years, three of them as the court’s third Chief Justice, until his death in 1919.

The year marked a milestone for one of the county’s biggest supporters.  Carl Vinson, who would later bring to Dublin the U.S. Naval Hospital, Interstate Highway 16, along with a new courthouse and library in the 1960s, was elected to the U.S. Congress for the first time, replacing future Laurens County resident, Thomas W. Hardwick, who entered the U.S. Senate and served as Governor of Georgia, before moving to Dublin in 1926.

In a way, the year 1914 was a year of beginnings, or beginnings of the end.   As Laurens County relinquished her throne as the queen of cotton production, it was the last great year of cotton production before the boll weevil waged its wrath of destruction upon local crops.  And, it was the year that across the Atlantic Ocean that the first world war began, a struggle which would change the face of the world forever.

As I end my eighteenth year of bringing you “Pieces of Our Past,” I again remind you that our most important history is not in our past, but in our future.  It continues to be my honor, my pleasure and my blessing to bring to my readers stories of our people and their contributions to our community and their triumph of the human spirit.

The year 2015 will prove to be an exciting one for me and the Laurens County Historical Society, For it will during this year, when the society’s new museum opens in its new home at 702 Bellevue.  A renewed dedication on the part of our members and our county will make the new museum a show place of our heritage and culture for our residents as well as many others around the state and the nation.