Archive for the ‘Summerville Georgia 1800s’ Category

John Dodson Taylor, Sr., in Politics (I)   Leave a comment

AC June 9, 1898, page 4 I

Above:  A Headline from The Atlanta Constitution, June 9, 1898, page 4

Obtained via


John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936), my great-grandfather, was a delegate from Chattooga County.



AC June 9, 1898, page 4 II

AC June 9, 1898, page 4 III

AC June 9, 1898, page 4 IV

AC June 9, 1898, page 4 V

AC June 9, 1898, page 4 VI

AC June 9, 1898, page 4 VII


Book Notice, 1883   Leave a comment

AC December 12, 1883, page 3 I

Above:  An Excerpt from The Atlanta Constitution, December 12, 1883, page 3

Obtained via


My great-grandfather, John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936), published a volume of poetry (most of the contents of which I have added to this weblog) in 1883.  The “Book Notices” column of the December 12, 1883, issue of The Atlanta Constitution included a mention of that volume.

AC December 12, 1883, page 3 II


The Taylor House in 2004   1 comment

Taylor House 2004 I

Above:  The Taylor House in 2004

This Image and the Other One Courtesy of Randolph Fleming Taylor

I think of an old joke.  Two mature women–neighbors–were speaking across a fence.  One commented that she liked being married to an archaeologist.

The older I become, the more interesting he finds me,

she said.

Older women, in my experience, enjoy that joke more than younger women.

My ancestral family home–which goes back to the 1890s, with stages of construction and one of demolition (there was another wing, removed in the early 1960s)–is like a mature woman and I am like the archaeologist in the joke–I like old buildings.  And I, who have the floor plan committed to memory, want to see the old structure restored to grand dame status.  May house allies in Summerville, Georgia, succeed!  My family–from John D. Taylor, Sr., and his wife, “Hattie,” through my grandparents, John D. Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor, would approve.  And members of the generation preceding mine–my father, my uncle, and my mother–and of my generation also approve.

Taylor House 2004 II


A Painting by Harriett Stoddard Taylor   Leave a comment

Harriett Stoddard Painting

Above:  A Photograph of the Stolen Painting

Image Courtesy of Randolph Fleming Taylor


Our family has been blessed with the presence of very talented people in all of its branches.  Writers have abounded.  And some painters have been among us.    Harriett Stoddard Taylor (1865-1932) painted.  And so did another great-grandmother, Nellie Sequin Fox Barrett (1876-1958), as this link attests.

Unfortunately, vandals have stolen the painting shown above, which used to hang in the Taylor house in Summerville, Georgia.



Harriett “Hattie” Stoddard Taylor (1865-1932)   Leave a comment

Harriett Stoddard Taylor

Photograph Courtesy of Randolph Fleming Taylor

She was my great-grandmother, wife of John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936).



The Public Outdoorsie   Leave a comment

Above:  A 1936-1941 Illinois Public Health Poster

Image Source = Library of Congress


This poster is a piece of Americana which should not invoke nostalgia, for the “good old days” were not as good as some like to think they were.


Town Branch enters Summerville through what used to be Bitting’s pasture, now a thriving residential section.  The Branch approached town near the depot and disappeared from view as it neared the confluence with the Chattooga River just south of town.

On this branch, a short distance from the depot, was located one of the most popular sports ever to grace any town–the public outdoorsie!  We were bursting with pride over ours because it was different.  It was a duplex!  More than that, it was a three-holer on each side.  The male of the species entered from the northwest corner, while the distaff contingent were permitted to seek solace through the southwesterly entrance.  As long as it was in existence, it was suspended across Town Branch on sills, only a a few feet from the railroad (near the old Warren’s Ford place).

They tell me that in a nearby state the designers of such installations had made special arrangements for the small fry, with the inclusion of holes graduated for the various age groups.  This may have been well and good, and I take no issue with that state; for, after all, this is a democracy.  However, in our town, we operated on the assumption that the children should arrange to take care of this important function at home, unless Mother Nature saw fit to create a state of emergency; in which case, necessity had to be the mother of invention.

One year Hallowe’en pranksters removed a large sign from the front of the building where our weekly paper was printed.  Next morning, the astonished passengers on the train were informed by the sign that this noble institution astride Town Branch was the SUMMERVILLE GAZETTE.

There was no doubt that this “institution” was the most popular place in town.  This was especially true during court weeks, and horse-trading days, when the path to this place was broadened by the footprints of pilgrims on their way to and from the temple of relaxation.  There were times, during school celebrations, when I have seen boy and girl walk complacently side by side on their pilgrimage, separating only as they reached the proper door.  As I think of these incidents, the soundtrack of my memory seems to play the haunting refrain of a once-popular song:

‘Two by two they go marching through….

Yes, business was always good at the outdoorsie.  It it had been a private enterprise, the manager would have had it made, even though he might have had the dubious title of Johnny Manager!


Leaves in the Wind, pages 12-13

The Depot   Leave a comment

Above:  A Train (1909-1940)

Image Source = Library of Congress




The depot my grandfather mentioned was the building of which one finds images at these websites:

I hope that having pictures of this structure adds to the meaning of my grandfather’s words.



Though it was always a thrill to visit the courthouse, that building was not the only center of attraction.  Its bitterest opponent for popularity was the depot, a few short blocks away.

It was at the depot that young and old met regularly, four times a day, to welcome the “up” trains and the “down” trains, as they arrived from Rome on the south and from Chattanooga on the north.  At the depot, friend met friend; trades were made; debts were paid; and money was borrowed.  The cotton mill was analyzed regularly, with special emphasis on the number of orders they had on hand.  All the juicy news about the natives cleared at the depot, for the gossips gathered there en masse.  There were so many of these gossip-gluttons that they had to wear safety pins to keep from talking about each other, but their not-so-secret sin was that they did just exactly that!  No modern radio or television station could spread news any more effectively than was done at the depot.


Leaves in the Wind, page 12

The Courthouse   Leave a comment

Above:  John Dodson Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor, My Grandparents, In Front of McGinnis Drugs and the Chattooga County Courthouse, in Winter 1960

Image Source = Gene McGinnis, Summerville, Georgia



I found an image of the 1909 Chattooga County Courthouse at the county’s website here:

I found another image (with more background) here:  I learned there that the model was the Appling County Courthouse.  This interests me because I used to live in Appling County.

And here ( I found some more relevant images, including one of the previous courthouse.

Here is a link to an old postcard image of the 1909 courthouse:

Here is a link to a close-up image of the clock:

“Papa” is John Dodson Taylor, Sr.

“Mama” is Harriet “Hattie” Stoddard Taylor.



History records that for fifty years Summerville was twenty-five miles from a railroad.  Its happy, contented populace never allowed their fondest ambitions or dreams to picture it as anything more pretentious than a village.  The woodlands hung like green drapery around the town, the fringe rolling down within the very corporate limits.

In the center of this village there was a courthouse, necessitated by the fact that not all the inhabitants were as law-abiding as they should have been.  In addition to this judicial institution, there were a few stores where general merchandise was sold:  there were four saloons which were called “groceries,” a blacksmith and wagon-repair shop, and a cobbler shop.  There was one doctor.  Drug stores and dentists were unheard of.

In those days a community had to earn the right to be called a town.  One of the main requirements seemed to have been that a hanging take place.  Summerville could boast of two such sporting events, so a town we were!

Papa told me how Pigg Van shot North White one cold day in the spring of 1888.  It seems that the two had been very close friends, but this time they each had taken one sniffer too many as they sat by the fire in the rear of one of the hardware stores.  Their tongues became oiled, their tempers rose, and one word led to another.  Finally, North White left he store for a drink from the well which occupied the center of the square which is not intersection of Washington and Commerce Streets.  Tradition has it that Pigg Van followed him to the door and drew his bead just as White reached the well.  Justice took its course, and Pigg paid the penalty up in the hollow just west of what is now called Jakeville.  The second event took place were the Georgia Rug Mill is now located.  Details of this event have been lost in the past, however.

The courthouse, where justice was meted out to all and sundry, was a drab two-story affair of brick construction.  I cannot remember many of the details because I was at the tender age of four when it was removed.  At the front of the courthouse, a balcony opened into the courtroom upstairs.  It seems that one time they borrowed Mama’s piano to “live it up” for a beauty contest which was held in the courtroom, but there was some trouble.  It was necessary to hoist the piano by way of the balcony, which was, you will agree, rather rough treatment for such an instrument.  I always thought the piano was a little off; perhaps that move explains it.

The cast-iron stairways to the courtroom were suspended on the outside of the building.  (Stairways on the outside of the building always did puzzle me and make me wonder if the genius who conceived such an idea didn’t need to have his head examined!)  These monstrosities were fine in pretty weather, but ascending and descending them in bad weather posed read problems.

Our present edifice succeeded the older one in 1909, and at that time it was the last word in architectural perfection.  It is of concrete construction with four entrances.  The crowning glory–at the time of its erection–was the big, four-faced clock on top; but things, like people, can fall from grace.  Certainly that blessed clock is no exception!  Its downfall came many years ago, and no time-piece could have been more unreliable.  (I distinctly remember hearing it strike thirteen times for three o’clock in the afternoon.  No doubt it believed in good measure.)  It has been a long time since I have seen its four faces together on the correct time of day.  This discrepancy was caused by any one of a number of reasons, the main one being that pigeons used the clock hands as their ferris wheel.

The courthouse had rooms and more rooms, and I have seen them filled with everything from exhibits on fair days t dead bodies which had been brought in for examination.  The courthouse was actually a community center in those days.  There have been rummage sales, cake walks, crap games, school programs, debates, beauty contests, revival meetings, chautauquas, and singings held within it.  All were part-and-parcel of life in this county.


Leaves in the Wind, pages 11-12


Big Spring   Leave a comment

Above:  Northeast Georgia and Northwest Alabama in 1823


From Leaves in the Wind, pages 10-11


At the left of the highway north of town has been a remarkable, crystal-clear spring at the foot of a majestic tree.  (The tragedy has been that in the name of progress and business, this spring has been covered and the tree cut town.  Over the years this spring supplied many travelers with a refreshing drink, slaking their thirst with its cold, pure water.  Numerous stories have been told about this spring, but there is one that I remember vividly.

My father often told the story told to his father of the early settlers’ seeing Indians driving into this spring at the foot of the tree and of their later being seen at Fort Payne, Ala.  Many believed there was an underground passage through limestone caves to the Alabama side of the mountain.

The limestone cave theory for this northwest area of the state was proved years ago with the white man’s discovery of numerous caves in this section.  A more modern proof came when a large portion of the highway caved in just in front of what is now Jackson Chevrolet place.  As long as this hole remained open, Big Spring, several hundred yards down the highway toward down, was muddy.  When the hole was finally covered and the highway repaired, the Spring cleared.  Limestone, we know, is abundant in this area, as is evidenced by the large number of cedar trees throughout the country.

Certainly, this northwest section of Georgia was Indian territory.  Names bear out this fact:  Chattooga, Chickamauga, Catoosa, Armuchee, Oosstenaula, Etowah, and many others.


Mama   1 comment

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

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


“Mama” was Harriett “Hattie” Stoddard Taylor (died 1932), my great-grandmother and wife of John Dodson Taylor, Sr.

The following text comes from Leaves in the Wind, page 21.



Papa wore the britches in the family, and that exactly suited Mama.  Opposites attract, I have always heard; and that is probably the reason they got along so well.  His swashbuckling and, at times, domineering personality was a balance for her easy-going, quiet, and retiring nature.

She was the most beautiful mother any little boy ever had, and she was a model homemaker.  By her very nature she was not the business type.  Being very religious, she kept the Bible with her constantly.  In her hey-day she was an accomplished pianist.  Calm, even-tempered, and happy, she seldom lost her temper.  When she did, it was generally only a mild flare; but I remember the time she really

blew a gasket.

One year at the fair, there had been a declamation contest for children in the lower grades, and I had won.  She was proud!  Buttons and hooks were pulled from their moorings on her clothes.  (Zippers would have suited her better anyhow.)  Mama rushed home to tell Mary, the cook, all about it.  Mary listened dutifully and gleefully to Mama’s praise of my

exceptional talents.

Then, while Mama was taking on a fresh supply of air, Mary said,

Yes, Mis’ Hat.  I know zactly how you feels.  This time last year we was happy too.  Our little bull had just won the red ribbon.

With all her good intentions, Mary never made a greater mistake.  Instantly, the whole area around Mama became radioactive.  It was the only time I have seen her when she could not talk.  She trotted out to the yard, threw a rock at our astonished dog, threw another at some of the chickens, and then trotted back onto the porch.  Mary, paralyzed at this transformation in her usually quiet Mis’ Hat, was unable to talk.  Mama looked at her very hard for a moment, then smiled and said,

Hi, Mary.

No further mention was ever made of my ability to declaim, or of the little bull that had won the red ribbon.

Mama saw to it that her children had opportunities to have friends in our home, and privileges to go as guest to other homes; but chiefly she made us love our home and family because of her own loving, unselfish nature.



John Dodson Taylor, Jr., on the lap of his mother, Harriet “Hattie” Stoddard, Circa 1908, with his sisters, Sarah Faye and Helen, on the left, and his grandmother, Arcissa Dodson Taylor, wearing black on the right; I do not know who is standing to Arcissa’s right