LAUNIUS FAMILY CARED FOR MONROE

By Nowell Briscoe

   

          In 1892 when Monroe was only 74 years old, a family moved to town who became known as one of the city’s “caretakers”.  Crosby Dawson Launius and his wife, Fannie Nolan Launius, moved from Braswell to this city and began a lifetime of dedicated service to the community which fused long lasting friendships among the old guard of the city to this very day.

           Soon after arriving in Monroe, Mr. Launius began his business as a cotton broker and built a cotton warehouse to store cotton. Launius Bonded Warehouse was a well-known business in Monroe and the association between Mr. Launius and the farming community was warm, caring and generous.  Mr. & Mrs. Launius became actively involved in The First Methodist Church, a link that was passed down to all of their children. In April of 1895, Mr. Launius purchased a house and tract of land on South Broad Street from Thomas Giles.  He soon built another house on the property to help contain the expanding family.  At some point these two houses were joined together with an added upper floor and this became the house still referred to by many as “The Launius Home”.

Each time I am in Monroe and pass this house, it continues to bring to mind this esteemed family and the unselfish manner of service which Mr. & Mrs. Launius began and was passed along to their children who pledged their lives to the betterment of Monroe in civic, social and community endeavors which still echo in the year 2014.

Mr. Launius died on January 19, 1917 at the age of 66 and his wife died in her 86th year on February 12, 1949. The couple is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery not far from the graves of their children.

          The children of Mr. & Mrs. Launius were: Paul Nolan, Harry Bell, Dennie Bazant, Kathleen Launius Williamson and Jake Kelsey Launius.

          An interesting tidbit in researching information for this article was of the five children, Harry & Dennie lived across from each other on Walton Street and Jake lived close by on Walton Circle.

          Paul Nolan Launius was born in Morgan County in 1884 and was eight years old when the family moved to Monroe.  After completing his early education in Monroe, he studied for two years at Emory University at Oxford, Georgia and took his honors graduating from Eastman College in Poughkeepsie, New York.  After working for several years in Birmingham, Alabama, Mr. Launius married Miss Jennie Douglas of Greensboro, Alabama. When the young couple returned to Monroe they lived a life of exemplary service to others the remainder of their lives.  Mrs. Launius received her degree in music from Shorter College and served her new hometown faithfully as both organist and music director of the Monroe First Methodist church and as pianist for the Monroe Kiwanis Club from the time of its formation until her death.

          Upon his return to Monroe, Paul Launius was associated with his father in the cotton warehouse business.  He and brother Harry later bought their father’s interest and operated the business until 1950 when Paul purchased his brother’s portion and operated the business until his death.  Paul Launius’ interests were varied and his energies boundless serving as a real estate operator, vice president and director of the National Bank of Monroe, was instrumental in the organization in 1928 of the Monroe Building and Loan Association, serving as its only president until his death.  He was a charter member and past president of the Monroe Kiwanis Club and chairman of the city’s board of education for many years.  Being raised in the Methodist Church, he served as superintendent of the Sunday School, chairman of the board of trustees and member of the Official Board.  Paul Launius died on July 2, 1960 and his wife, “Miss Jennie” Launius, died on November 4, 1982.

 

Harry Bell Launius was born in Morgan County on August 17, 1886 and was six when the family moved to Monroe.  After completing his education and following in his father’s footsteps, at an early age, his genuine concern for the city and its citizens led to many generous deeds of kindness over the years.  The many gifts he and his wife, the late Sallie Evans Launius, bestowed on Monroe were The Launius Memorial Library at the old Monroe High School on Bold Springs Avenue as a memorial to the Monroe boys who fought and lost their lives during World War II, and The Launius Chapel at the Monroe First Methodist Church, in memory of their son, Harry Bell Launius, Jr., who lost his life during the war. With an ever increasing desire to better the town they loved so dearly they founded the General Charitable Foundation of Monroe.  The couple was also instrumental in the building and furnishing of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church along with giving the beautiful Limestone Cross in front of the church.  Ever concerned about their fellowman, Mr. & Mrs. Launius were responsible for the creation of the convalescent unit at the former Walton County Hospital.  The youth of the community did not escape his vision with the purchase of a wooded lot on Highway 78 in close proximity to the old VFW Building which he furnished with swings and tables to serve as a playground and for families to enjoy picnics.

          Harry Launius died on July 9th, 1965 and his wife died on January 20, 1974. In an editorial tribute in the July 14, 1965 issue of the Walton Tribune, it read, “Mr. Launius was more of a doer than a dreamer and his sound judgment and philanthropic leanings reached out with prophetic vision to fill many a local need almost before the average citizen was aware of its existence.  The fruits and spirit of his generosity for the home he called Monroe for nearly 75 years will be enjoyed and appreciated for a long time to come.”

Dennie Bazant Launius was the first child of Crosby D. & Fannie Launius to be born in Monroe on October 28, 1893.  He received his education in Monroe along with attending Gordon Military College.  Shortly after the end of World War I, Dennie along with brothers Harry and Paul set up Launius Brothers Oil Company in February 1919.  In 1922 the brothers became independent jobbers until they signed a contract with Pure Oil Company in 1935 to buy and sell their products.  In 1950 Paul sold his interest to Harry and in July 1962 with retirement in mind, Harry and Dennie sold their interests to Pure Oil Company.  At that time Pure Oil named Dennie’s son John C. Launius and Donald Williamson, Jr. son of the brother’s sister, Kathleen, to continue distribution of their products to the area.  Dennie was raised in the Methodist Church where he served as a trustee and was chairman of the building committee for the present sanctuary. Being blessed with a beautiful tenor voice, he served as soloist for the First Methodist Church until his death, often times being accompanied at the organ by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Paul Launius. He was a member of the American Legion Post 64 and a member of the Monroe Kiwanis Club.  Dennie Launius died on December 14, 1987.

          The youngest of the boys, Jake Kelsey Launius was born in Monroe on September 19, 1903.  He graduated from the local schools and the Fifth District A & M School at Walker Park.  He later attended and graduated from the University of Georgia.  Following in his older brother’s civic minded endeavors Jake became a keen devotee of Monroe’s civic and business progress opening and operating The Monroe Hardware Company on Broad Street for a number of years and serving his town honorably as mayor. At the time of his death he was a manager for the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation.  Jake Launius married Miss Mildred McClain of Thomaston, Georgia who taught in the Monroe school system for a number of years.  They were the parents of two children; Milly Launius Corn of Cleveland, Tennessee and Thomas K. (Tom) Launius, a student at the University of Georgia at the time of his death on February 12, 1960.

          The only girl among a family of boys, Kathleen Launius was born in Monroe on May 28, 1897.  She was the principal caregiver for her mother and was responsible for looking after the family home place on South Broad Street.  She was married to the late Donald Williamson and their son, the late Donald Williamson, Jr., was associated in various business ventures in Monroe over the years. Like the other members of her family, Kathleen Williamson was a devoted member of the First Methodist Church of Monroe.  She died on November 8, 1995 bringing to a close one of the city’s earliest and most influential and best loved families.  Monroe owes a large debt of gratitude to Crosby D. & Fannie Nolan Launius and their children for the unselfish generosity given to Monroe for over a hundred years.

          (Grateful appreciation is extended to Mrs. Milly Launius Corn for her generous assistance in the preparation of this column)