Tag Archives: Georgia Historic Markers

Home of Georgia’s Last Confederate Veteran, Fitzgerald

This was the home of William Joshua Bush (1845-1952), Georgia’s last surviving Confederate veteran. For his service to the Confederacy, he was afforded the honorific “General” in his last years. The historic marker at the site, first erected in 1954, reads: This was the home of General William Jordan Bush, last survivor of the 125,000 heroes from Georgia who fought for the South. Gen. Bush was born near Gordon, Ga. July 10, 1845, and died here Nov. 11, 1952. In the War Between the States he was a private in Co. B, 14th Ga. Infantry, under Capt. Tom Wilcox and Gen. John B. Gordon. His title of General was won through offices held in the United Confederate Veterans. Active until a few weeks before his death at 107, Gen. Bush attended all UCV reunions and danced at public functions.

His stepdaughter Janie Law was a classmate of my grandmother and on several occasions in the late 1980s and 1990s shared her memories of him with me. They were similar to the following article by Wylly Folk St. John, published in the Atlanta Sunday magazine on 24 April 1949:

Georgia’s last Confederate is a spry old soldier of nearly 104, who lives in a little confederate-gray house in Fitzgerald, Georgia. He is “General” (an honorary title) William Bush, of Company B, 14th Georgia Infantry. He was a teen-aged private when he fought the Battle of Atlanta. He is regarded with appropriate awe throughout the state, as the last living Georgian who wore the gray during the War Between the States – the only flesh and blood contact with the Lost Cause that is left to us on this Memorial Day.

The General is Fitzgerald’s most famous and most carefully taken care of citizen. The UDC offers him everything he could possibly want to make him comfortable, the State Patrol drives him home in state when he’s out late, the Ordinary not only brings him his pension check but also the $75 to cash it with, he is always being asked for pictures and autographs, and he gets sheaves of fan mail. He is senior deacon of his Baptist church, and received his “diploma” as a Mason in 1888.

For a man who’ll be 104 next July 10, he is astonishingly vigorous. He can read his Bible without his glasses, he can hear well with no artificial aid, his blood pressure is perfect and his heart is okay. He can still dance a jig if you dare him to, and sings “Dixie” in his quavery brave old voice. Until a few years ago, he walked downtown every morning to talk over old times with his friends. Now he has to call a taxi when his wife’s back is turned. Sometimes, when Mrs. Bush, who teaches the sixth grade, misses him, she finds out he has dressed up by himself and “gone out with the girls” to the UDC meeting. Mrs. Bush has celebrated her 27th wedding anniversary with the General, whom she married when he was 76 and she was 34. He lived with his first wife 48 years before she died, and had six children.

Bush was a bare 16 when he joined the Gray army. “I told a lie to get into it, and I’d have told another to get out,” he says, and then immediately retracts “No, I wouldn’t either. I fought to the end and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He was “near-bout” the whole time with General Gordon, but part of the time with General Johnston. When asked if the young army did much training before it went into battle, he replies “We didn’t waste no ammunition practisin. When we shot, we shot to kill – it was hand to hand fightin” He brought home a big Confederate flat from the last Gettysburg reunion that he carries in all the Memorial Day parades.

Until a few years ago, there was also one Union Veteran left in Fitzgerald, Henry Brunner. On Memorial Day, the two old soldiers would go to the cemetery together and put flowers on the graves of their fallen comrades, General Bush decorating the Northern graves and General Brunner the Southern. When his friendly enemy died, General Bush sent a wreath “from the last of the Gray to the last of the Blue”.

Now General Bush has to place, tremulously, the flowers and laurel wreaths for both of them. There will be tears no doubt, when emotional Southern ladies see his lone indomitable figure in the parade this year, the Last Confederate, wearing his Gettysburg medal and carrying his Confederate flag.

The other men in Gray are all gone. Now at the cemetery, when the bugle softly plays Taps, it is for ALL the Confederates – except Josh Bush. There is no other man left alive in Georgia today who fought in ’61. It is a lonely emenence.

Here is Georgia’s Last Confederate.

Historic Queensland Schools, Ben Hill County

Queensland Negro Industrial Training School, 1918, Educational Survey of Ben Hill County, Georgia. Public domain.

The first known school in Queensland was built at a time when many churches and benevolent societies demanded and funded improvements for African-American students in the South. The first school [pictured above] was originally known as the Queensland Negro Industrial Training School and was later Queensland Elementary and Queensland High. The original structure was replaced by a modern facility in the late 1940s or early 1950s and all structures were razed by the early 2000s.

The historical marker, placed by Ben Hill County, is titled: Queensland Negro Industrial Training School to Queensland Elementary and High School. It reads: In July 1913, applicants furnished 10 acres of land and $800.00 cash to build the Queensland Negro Industrial Training School on this site. The Ben Hill County Board of Education matched the funds, work began, and the school and grounds were dedicated on October 2, 1913. The Rosenwald Fund continued to support the school by financing building projects as needed for growth.

The first principal, J. Clifton Smith, a graduate of Brown College and Tuskegee Institute, promised the patrons that with their cooperation he would teach their children and themselves better use of the land and better modes of living. First term commencement exercises were held May 2-May 5, 1914. School enrollment for the first term totaled nearly 300 students representing seven counties; with 107 boys in the corn club and 76 girls in the canning club. The school was one of the first three in Georgia designated as Training Schools for excellent vocational training in labor professions. The school expanded academic offerings and prepared graduates to pursue professional careers as lawyers, doctors and educators as well as farmers and laborers.

In 1918, the school was supported by the county board of education, the Slater Fund and a Negro Baptist Association, mainly for the purpose of training teachers for the Negro schools. The original school included a two-story building with five large classrooms, a dormitory and teachers’ home. The faculty consisted of the principal and four assistants with an average enrollment of over 200 students. At that time, including Queensland, there were fourteen Negro schools in Ben Hill County. The rest were one- teacher schools located in church buildings with very little equipment.

The world is a better place because of the dedication of patrons, educators, administrators and the thousands of students who were educated on these grounds located “Deep into the heart of Southeast Georgia.” The Christian Fellowship Tabernacle Church, which now owns and occupies this site, continues the legacy of preparing people to make a positive difference in this world.

Norman College Administration Building, 1949, Norman Park

This originally served as the administration building for Norman College. A granite marker commemorates the history of the college, with the First Baptist Church in the background. Jim Howard notes: This building replaced the building destroyed by fire in 1945, completed and occupied in January 1949. The public high school used the premises along with junior college students

Auraria, Georgia

As the Georgia Historical Commission marker notes: Auraria, (Gold), in 1832 the scene of Georgia’s first gold rush, was named by John C. Calhoun, owner of a nearby mine worked by Calhoun slaves. Auraria and Dahlonega were the two real gold towns in the U.S. before 1849. Between 1829 and 1839 about $20,000,000 in gold was mined in Georgia’s Cherokee country. From Auraria in 1858 the “Russel boys”, led by Green Russell, went west and established another Auraria near the mouth of Cherry Creek that later became Denver Colo. Green Russell uncovered a fabulous lode called Russell Gulch near which was built Central City, Colo., “richest square mile on earth.”

As to the Calhoun Mine, it was indeed owned by the John C. Calhoun, seventh Vice President of the United States.

Brunswick-St. Simons Causeway Marker, 1950

This rarely noticed historic marker beside the Visitor’s Club gives some insight as to the history of the busy F. J. Torras Causeway connecting the mainland to St. Simons Island. The route was named in honor of longtime Brunswick engineer Fernando Joseph Torras in 1953. Torras was the engineer of the original modern causeway, built in 1923, built by the Virginia Bridge & Iron Works. The larger plaque lists the city and county commissioners and others involved in the 1950 causeway, built by Tidewater Construction Corporation with the consultation of Sverdrup & Parcel. Torras was also involved, as the executive clerk, in the construction of the second causeway.

 

Wayside Home Memorial, Union Point

Union Point GA Wayside Home Confederate Memorial Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2015

The Wayside Home operated in Union Point from 1862-1864, serving over one million meals to Confederate soldiers, sailors, and marines passing through the city, many enroute to the bloodiest battlefields of the Civil War. General James Longstreet paused here in September 1863 enroute to Chickamauga. The home wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of local women, who prepared meals and took care of sick and wounded soldiers around the clock.

A small park overlooking Sibley Avenue memorializes the local women who made the Wayside Home possible: Mrs. James B. Hart (Treasurer); Mrs. M. L. Watson; Mrs. Martha E. Forester; Mrs. Dr. B. F. Carlton (Secretary); Mrs. Philip Yonge; Mrs. Dr. W. A. Moore; Mrs. J. C. Deal; Mrs. P. W. Printup; Mrs. L. Bynum; Mrs. Ira Brown; Mrs. Richard Dilworth; Mrs. E. A. Wagnon; Miss Julia Wagnon; Mrs. Susan Hutchins.

Union Point Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Montgomery Lake & The World Record Largemouth Bass, Telfair County

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA George Perry Worlds Largest Largemouth Bass Ocmulgee River Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Montgomery Lake is an oxbow of the Ocmulgee River. A mile or so before you reach the Ocmulgee Water Trail sign for Montgomery Lake & Stave’s Landing, driving north on Georgia Highway 117 from Jacksonville to Lumber City,  there’s a Georgia Historic Marker which gives this beautiful but nondescript place mythical status among sportsmen.

world-record-largemouth-bass-fishing-angling-telfair-county-ga-horse-creek-picture-photo-image-cc-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2009

Approximately two miles from this spot, on June 2, 1932, George W. Perry, a 19-year old farm boy, caught what was to become America`s most famous fish. The twenty-two pound four ounce Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoldes) exceeded the existing record by more than two pounds and has retained the world record for more than fifty years. Perry and his friend, J.E. Page, were fishing in Montgomery Lake, a slough off the Ocmulgee River, not for trophies but to bring food to the table during those days of the Great Depression. The fish was caught on a Creek Chub Perch Scale Wigglefish, Perry`s only lure, and was 32 1/2 inches in length and 28 1/2 inches in girth. The weight and measurements were taken, recorded and notarized in Helena, Georgia and Perry’s only reward was seventy-five dollars in merchandise as first prize in Field and Stream Magazine`s fishing contest. The longstanding record is one of the reasons that the largemouth bass was made Georgia`s Official State Fish. Montgomery Lake is today part of the Department of Natural Resources Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area.

A largemouth weighing in at one more ounce (22.5 lbs.) was caught by Manabu Kurita in Japan in 2009, but since it doesn’t weigh at least two more ounces than the existing world record, it’s considered a tie. Perry’s record is in no danger of being forgotten.

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA Ocmulgee River Worlds Largest Largemouth Bass Montgomery Lake Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Today was the first time I’d ever laid eyes upon this place and in appearance it was scarcely different from numerous similar places I’ve photographed all over South Georgia in the past seven years. But the history of George Perry and the world record Largemouth Bass gave me pause. It made this place a tangible landmark.

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA In Ocmulgee RIver WInter High Water World Record Bass Official George Perry Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

For a third consecutive winter there’s high water on the Ocmulgee. The fishing must be good. Stave’s Landing is publicly accessible at the end of a dirt road about three miles in length. The road is generally safe for travel, though a four-wheel drive is the best way to go.

Staves Landing Montgomery Lake Ocmulgee River Official World Record Largemouth Bass Telfair County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

I look forward to returning in the spring.

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA Dirt Road Ocmulgee River Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 20154

There are many references to George Perry online, but this is one of the best.

 

Battle of Culloden Historic Marker

On April 19, 1865, a part of Wilson’s Federal Raiders, moving toward Macon, encountered the “Worrill Grays” near this spot. The “Grays,” numbering less than 200 men, fought a magnificent battle, greatly outnumbered. After a two-hour battle they finally yielded to the superior force, leaving their dead and wounded in Federal hands. So fierce was the fighting that the two men in the 17th Indiana (mounted) Infantry who captured the flag of this fighting unit, were awarded Medals of Honor by the United States Government.

This marker was placed by the Georgia Historical Commission in 1956.

Culloden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

William Eason, Tattnall County

William Eason Tattnall County GA Pioneer Father of Methodism in Area Historic Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

William Eason (22 May 1771 – 1 October 1831) , one of the first settlers of Tattnall County and ancestor of many was born in Perquinman County, N. C., May 22, 1771, a son of George Eason, R. S. The family moved to Barnwell District, S. C., and William grew up there. Around 1802 William’s family with several others sold their holdings in S. C. and moved to Georgia. William settled in Tattnall County and married Sarah Mattox (3 December 1777 – 16 May 1859). In addition to farming he was a local Methodist preacher and was so effective in this work he was instrumental in organizing Mt. Carmel and Shiloh and helped in establishing other Methodist Churches to the extent he became known as the “Father of Methodism” in this area. He served in the War of 1812 as a private at Fort Perry on the Altamaha River in 184. William Eason and his family lived in a two-story log house 0.7 miles south of Mt. Carmel Church. He died Oct. 1, 1831 and was buried in a unmarked grave probably near his house.

 

Shearwood Railroad Depot, Circa 1915, & Commercial Ruins, Nevils

nevils ga shearwood railroad depot photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

Though I pass through Nevils from time to time, I hadn’t photographed there since 2009. Having heard that the store on the right had collapsed, I had to investigate.

nevils ga historic marker photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

The Jack N. & Addie D. Averitt Foundation, a real credit to Bulloch County and the pursuit of history in general, recently placed this historic marker, entitled Nevils Station & Shearwood Railroad. It reads: This is the site of the Nevils railroad station. The paved road from Denmark to Nevils is the original bed of the Shearwood Railroad that existed from 1912 to 1937. John N. Shearhouse of Brooklet and George Brinson of Stillmore owned Shearwood Lumber Company in Brooklet. The began by opening the line from Clyo to Claxton. Farmers in the Nevils area promised to pay a large sum of money to run the line through the Sinkhole District. The railroad acquired right-of-way from Jake Nevils, the first merchant in the area.Farmers depended on the Nevils Station for shipping carloads of watermelons and receiving tons of fertilizer. Here many residents began excursions to Savannah and Tybee, after buying picnic supplies at Mr. Nevils’ nearby store. The SR established a morning passenger-freight train leaving Egypt and serving Leefield, Brooklet, Denmark, Nevils, Claxton, and Hagan. Mr. Shearhouse was killed and his son seriously injured in a railroad accident in 1926. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the railroad declined and dissolved.  The tracks and equipment were removed and sold for scrap. Although the depot served as a country store after 1945, it was eventually deserted.

nevils ga shearwood railroad depot ruins photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

I don’t know of any other surviving architecture of the Shearwood Railroad, but would love to know if any exists. I believe this building deserves depiction from many angles.

nevils ga commercial ruins photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

The yellow brick building with the Coca-Cola ghost mural below was a grocery/general merchandise store, but I don’t have any further background yet.

nevils ga general store ruins photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

nevils ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2014

The town isn’t completely gone, though. There are a couple of stores and churches, as well as some nice old houses.