Archive for the ‘Chattooga County Georgia 1950s’ Category

God and Country   Leave a comment

JDT3 God and Country

This image from the 1950s shows my grandmother, Nell Barrett Taylor, presenting the Boy Scouts God and Country award to my father, John Dodson Taylor, III.  To her immediate left is my grandfather, John Dodson Taylor, Jr.




Photograph Courtesy of Randolph Fleming Taylor


Nell Taylor’s Fifth-Grade Class, Trion, Georgia, 1954   Leave a comment

Trion Elementary School 1954

Thanks to Brad E. Hayes for sharing this image via Facebook.



Old Photographs and Related Memories   4 comments

Taylor House 1930sAbove:  The Taylor House, Probably in the 1930s

Two months ago I wrote the following post:  At the time the fate of the old house seemed doomed.  The house where my great-grandfather (John Dodson Taylor, Sr.) and great-grandmother (“Hattie” Stoddard), my grandfather (John Dodson Taylor, Jr.) was born and lived my grandmother (Nell Taylor) lived, where my uncle (Randy Taylor) and father (John Dodson Taylor, III) grew up, and where my sister (Barbara Jackson) and I spent part of our childhoods with Mom (Sally Taylor), Dad, and Grandma seemed to be near destruction.  And it might still be so, but there is a local grassroots effort ( to save and restore the old place.  May it succeed!  And may the house cease to sit idle.  No, may it have a use which is positive for the community.  I think that an educational component would be most appropriate, given the value our family has placed on books and learning.

The above picture shows the house as it was when my great-grandfather was still alive.  The white paint job did look better.

Taylor House Circa 1950

Above:  The House Circa 1950

I, being born when I was, never saw the old north wing, shown here on the right.  But it does look lovely, does it not?  I recall Dad saying that it lasted until the early 1960s.

Grandparents 1967

Above:  My Grandparents in 1967

I never knew my grandfather, for he died three years after I was born.  Yet I am confident that I would like to have known him.

I recall aspects of the house for which I have no pictures.  In the bedroom next to where the north wing had been, for example, there was a small kitchen attached.  My grandparents used to rent out that bedroom, kitchen, and north wing as an apartment.  And I remember the old garage in the back of the house.  Getting a car back there now would be quite an accomplishment!

A renovation and restoration of the house would be a great task.  To reopen blocked doorways would give old house a good, more period-specific look.  I, as a history buff, like old things.  So old houses fascinate me.

My life is elsewhere.  The congregation closest to my spiritual type is in Athens, Georgia, for example.  But I am keenly aware of my family’s roots in Summerville, Georgia.  And I want the old house to become a vital part of the community again.





Requiem for a House   2 comments

Family Home Circa 1908

Above:  The John Dodson Taylor, Sr., Home Circa 1908, When It Was New

Photograph Courtesy of Sharon Foster Jones, on June 14, 2012


Today my mother, Sally Taylor, called me and told me that the family house, pictured above, will cease to exist soon.  This is structure in which my great-grandfather, John Dodson Taylor, Sr., lived; my grandfather, John Dodson Taylor, Jr., was born then lived; my grandmother, Nell Barrett Taylor, lived; my father, John Dodson Taylor, III, and my uncle, Randolph Fleming Taylor, grew up; and my sister, Barbara, and I lived for a few years.  Nobody has lived there since 2001, when my grandmother died.  The house was hardly in its best condition then, but now the roof is caving in and the local government requires the demolition of the house.  There is nothing to salvage from inside the house, for vandals have stripped it without so much as a police report to document when this happened.

This is sad news.  Yet I know that one should not become overly attached emotionally to inanimate objects, which come and go, even if they do last for a relatively long period of time.  I do harbor serious questions, though, about the degree to which neighbors were observant and the police were vigilant.






Obituary of Nell Taylor   Leave a comment

Above:  John Dodson Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor at Summerville, Georgia, Winter 1960

Image Source = Gene McGinnis, Summerville, Georgia



Retired Teacher

Died May 20, 2001

Mrs. Nell Fox Taylor, 86, Northwest Congress Street, Summerville, died Sunday in a Rome hospital.

She was born in Augusta, on Feb. 2, 1915, a daughter of the late George W. and Nellie Fox Barrett.  She was a member of Summerville Presbyterian Church, where she served as organist and choir director for several years.  Mrs. Taylor retired from the Chattooga County School System after 45 years of teaching.  Her husband, John D. Taylor, died earlier.

Surviving are two sons, the Rev. Jack Taylor, Warwick, and Randy Taylor, Atlanta; two sisters, Lucy Vanlandingham, and Margaret Bartlett, Atlanta; Barbara Nell Jackson, Reidsville, and Kenneth Randolph Taylor, Warwick; and great-grandchildren, Laura Elizabeth Jackson and Franklin Heath Jackson, Baxley; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held at 2 P.M. Tuesday from Summerville Presbyterian Church with the Revs. Jack Taylor and Chuck Vorderberg officiating.  Interment was in Summererville Cemetery.

Active pallbearers were Earl McConnell, Bud Jackson, John Turner, Billy Price, Arnold Kilgore, Euel Price, Alan Green, and Billy Petitt.

J. D. Hill Funeral Home had charge of arrangements.


The above text is nearly identical to the obituary which appeared in The Summerville News.


I Remember Mother   1 comment

Above:  John Dodson Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor, Summerville, Georgia, Winter 1960

Image Source = Gene McGinnis, Summerville, Georgia


FEBRUARY 2, 1915-MAY 20, 2001


A Eulogy in Remembrance of

Nell Fox Barrett Taylor

Delivered by One of Her Sons

Reverend John Dodson (Jack) Taylor, III


Summerville Presbyterian Church

May 22, 2001

2:oo P.M.


I speak now of loving, laughing, and weeping.  I speak now of mourning and dancing.  I speak of working, creating, and giving.  I speak, finally, of rest.  Thus I speak of life, and of making the difference in life that Almighty God has put us here to make.  This is about the seasons of our lives and specifically about the life of Nell Fox Barrett Taylor, Randy’s and my mother.

Yet I speak not only of Mother, for I am compelled to speak of the man she loved as husband and father for over thirty-nine years.  He was the man who shared the seasons of that life with her.  Nell Taylor would tell you in a heartbeat that John Dodson Taylor, Jr., was her man, the only man she had ever loved.  He was her husband and the father of her two sons, Randolph Fleming Taylor and me.

Like all of us, Dad was thoroughly human.  Sometimes Mother and Dad did not understand each other.  Sometimes they did not even like each other.  But do any of us always understand and even like each other?  No.  But, oh! how they loved each other!  As the years passed their love deepened.

Since Dad’s passing on September 27, 1976, I have often thought about their relationship.  I have been enabled to understand their relationship.  I have been enabled to understand their relationship within the context of the biblical stories of God’s love for all of us; their love was unconditional.  For, as surely as God loves us just as we are, so Mother and Dad loved each other.  Neither one had to measure up to someone’s standard in order to have the love of the other.  St. Paul said it so well:

Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I speak for myself.  I remember Mother as well, Mother.  She loved Randy and me with a mother’s heart, for there is no heart like a mother’s heart.  Randy and I are, in some ways, very different.  And that is alright.  Mother realized that this just meant that we were unique.  Not once did I suspect that Mother judged either of us by the other; I never suspected any comparison.

With his knowledge of electronics, computers, and computer programming, Randy has made contributions I can only imagine to the business sector.  Mother and I were, and I am proud of Randy’s successes and contributions.  Moreover, we were, and I am proud of Randy.  Randy moves in and is comfortable with the world of technology.  I move in and am comfortable with the world of the abstract:  philosophy, theology, and ministry to the human spirit and all of its mystery.  I deal, then, with that which we can only feel but which, to me me, is no less real.  Mother was proud of the directions our lives took professionally.

Mother watched as Randy and me struggled to grow and to find direction.  I saw Randy as mischievous and somewhat daring.  I was not as adventurous as he, although I had my moments.  I always admired Randy and his daring, adventurous ways.  And in all of that Mother loved us with a passion.

Mother felt for us.  She cried for us, often at a distance as Randy and I began to move out on our own.  She yearned for us.    Her telephone calls to me–and, as I recall her last call to me, often included the words,

I just wanted to hear your voice.

Mother loved her grandchildren, Barbara Nell and Kenneth Randolph.  She loved her great-grandchildren, Laura Elizabeth and Franklin Heath.

I remember Mother as a church musician.  She looked forward to Sunday morning and to meeting the choir.  She loved choosing and preparing the service music.  Gladly did she leave the selection of the hymns to the pastor, Bob Pooley and Bill Hotchkiss, although she consulted about the choices.

Mother had a strong sense of right and wrong.  She also had strong feelings about what is appropriate inside the church building, especially during the worship hour.  I remember her holy anger and flashing eyes one Sunday morning when she interrupted the prelude, turned to the congregation, and gave them a good old-fashioned and well-deserved tongue-lashing about the noise and chatter which violated and cheapened the sanctity of the prelude, that part of the order of worship which is intended to help set the tone and spirit for worship.  Mother knew well that long ago this sanctuary was dedicated to the worship of God and nothing else.  We forget that all too easily.

I recall a Saturday evening when Mother and I came here so she could finish preparations for music the next morning.  I also remember her sputter then her explosion when we walked in and found a young lady playing “The Rock and Roll Waltz” on her–Mother’s–Hammond organ! Mother understood that everyone’s opinions and tastes are to be honored as their own.  She also knew that each has its own place.  In this case the church sanctuary was most inappropriate!

I remember Mother as teacher in the finest, truest sense of the profession.  Precisely because she put time and effort into preparing her classes she rightly expected her students to put fort he effort to participate and learn.  She burned the proverbial midnight oil regularly, grading papers and writing notes of encouragement on the papers of those who needed  that encouragement.

A little over a year ago Mother and I sat at the kitchen table, talking about her forty-five years as a teacher.  She was staring out of the big kitchen window when, drumming her fingers on the table, she cut her eyes toward me and said,

You know, son, as a teacher I was supposed to make it possible for my students to love to learn, and I failed.

Well, of course, Mother did not fail.

I reminded her quickly of some of the differences she had made:  of the students who not only learned to love learning but who went on to college.  I also reminded her of the students who had graduated thirty-five to forty years earlier, who still called or came by.  I wish I could tell Mother something Randy said said as we sat in the hospital dining room last week.  He pronounced her legacy when he said,

Yes, Mom made a difference in the county, didn’t she?


I remember Mother as Glee Club director.  Music lover that I am, I enjoyed going to Glee Club every day.  We enjoyed going to Glee Club!  She made it fun, and we laughed–a lot!  We also got down to business.  Mother introduced a variety of music, such as standards and show tunes.  There was “In the Still of the Night.”  Show tunes included “Wunderbar,” “The Road to Mandalay,” and “There Ain’t Nothing Like a Dame” from South Pacific.  We had fun with that one!

There is so much more I would like to say.  So I will begin to close on a personal note.  Randy and I are the men we are today primarily because of the shared commitment and influence of Mother and Dad to us.  As the years have passed (thirty-nine have passed since high school graduation), I have come to realize the enormity of the impact of Mother’s life on Randy and me.  We are veterans of military service.  We are college graduates.  And through all of this and more, Mother was there.

In the sphere of the temporal, Mother encouraged us to enjoy all that God has given to us.  Where I am concerned, I have a deep love for music, especially the classics, the music of the masters.  It is music composed by men and women of history who simply had to compose lest the melodies haunting their minds be lost forever.  Thanks to Mother’s influence and encouragement I can lose myself in the solemnity of Bach’s Great Mass in B Minor.  At other times I allow myself to feel the praise and exhilaration of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah.

Mother was a Christian, although not in the sense of just living by a moral code of goodness.  Rather, she knew that she was a child of God.  She, as do all Christians, struggled with her faith, prayer life, and commitment.  She struggled with the difficult questions for which she could never find a satisfactory answer, finally being satisfied to leave the answers to God.

Mother knew the cleansing power of God’s forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ.  And whether or not she realized it, she taught me the value of the text from Ecclesiastes: that there is a time and place for everything, that all that has been will be again, and that I should not allow myself to be smitten with my own self-importance!

Mother lived the seasons of her life with dignity and grace.  In the finest sense of the word, Mother was a lady.  She wore the mantle of her faith and lived out her roles she played with thanksgiving and the humility that says she recognized her strengths and weaknesses and kept them in perspective.

Writing 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul declared the tree greatest of the Christian virtues:  faith, hope, and love.  Faith and hope escorted Mother through the portals of God’s glory and into joys which are unspeakable and full of glory.  She has laid aside this veil of flesh and the mantles of faith and hope.  Now she knows the fullness of God’s love!

To everything there is a season.


Where John Dodson Taylor, Sr., Lived in Summerville, Georgia   4 comments

Above:  The John Dodson Taylor, Sr., Home Circa 1908, When It Was New

Photograph Courtesy of Sharon Foster Jones, on June 14, 2012


This is an old photograph of my family ancestral home, a house which was, in its prime, a showplace with high ceilings and a wide corridor at the front door.  I grew up there in the 1970s (with my parents and sister) and visited it in the 1980s.  The last time I was there was in late 2000, when the house was showing its increasingly declining state.  I like old things, so the fact of the house’s recent condition is something I consider unfortunate.

I can still walk through the house in my imagination, which will last longer than the physical structure of the house, unfortunately.  But, via the wonders of blogging, my great-grandfather’s poems can continue as a monument to him.  May they do so.



Modified on June 15, 2012 Common Era


I cropped the photograph to focus on the women and children:

From left to right:  Sarah Faye and Helen (or Helen and Sarah Faye), Harriet (“Hattie”) with John D., Jr., Arcissa, and a woman whose name I have not determined

John Dodson Taylor, Jr., my grandfather, did not arrive until 1905, when, as he put it,

The twentieth century had just graduated from training pants….

Leaves in the Wind, undated, page 7

(He died on September 27, 1976, having spent years in a nursing home.  And his picture in the front is dated 1940.  So those facts help restrict the timeframe of possible publication.)

I am probably looking at images of relatives, not all of whom were part of my direct lineage.  I wonder who some of them were.  Various sources have supplied the following information:

One  of the women is probably Arcissa Wilshire Dodson Taylor (1824-1915), wife of  John Taylor (1834-1901) and mother of John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936).  Arcissa did live in the house at the time of the 1910 U.S. Census, as did John Dodson Taylor, Sr., and John Dodson Taylor, Jr.

Another woman is probably Harriet “Hattie” Stoddard (died 1932 and aged 45 years in 1910), wife of John Dodson Taylor, Sr.  She also lived in the house in 1910, according to that year’s U.S. Census.

Eugene Dodson Taylor (born 1890) , the elder brother of John Dodson Taylor, Jr., my grandfather, did not reside in the house in 1910.  Of Gene in 1905, at the point of John D. Jr’s birth,  my grandfather wrote,

Gene was of sufficient age to travel alone, and I understand that he went to visit other relatives.  (It’s nice to have relatives, especially when another young one is bidding entrance into the world.)

The two young women were Sarah Faye and Helen, aged 17 and 13 years respectively, in 1910.  The 1988 history of the Summerville Presbyterian Church mentions the 1924 wedding of one Helen Dodson Taylor to Wilford Caulkins.  The same history lists Helen Dodson Taylor as having joined the church on November 6, 1910.  Helen and Sarah Faye were my grandfather’s older sisters, who were “at tender ages” (Leaves in the Wind, page 8) when he was born.  Helen Taylor Caulkins died on February 13, 1977, having left for Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1924.  The 1988 history of the Summerville Presbyterian Church lists one Sarah Faye Taylor, who joined the church on December 30, 1906, and eventually married John Black Whisnant.  She died in November 1980.

Who, then, was the woman on the right?  I must continue to pursue this question.