LOOKING BACK AT MONROE IN 1873

PARTS TWO & THREE

       

        The fascinating history of Monroe as seen in 1873 and recorded by Rev. W. Stokes Walker continues on in segment two of his first-hand account of Monroe fifty five years after our city was founded.

        Rev. Walker relates the following: “1873 saw a dozen licensed distilleries in the county which did a thriving business converting our surplus crops of corn and peaches into strong drink, and our national government was represented by Marble Smith, a negro gauger (a revenue officer who inspects bulk goods subject to duty).

        Many stores in our town and county districts kept a supply on hand to accommodate their customers and to secure votes in political campaigns.  Drunkenness made the roads dangerous at times.  Many fights occurred on the streets and highways and homes were lost to strong drink.

        Conditions today are much better than they were then, and we are hopeful our fair land will never be blighted that way again.

        Six governors have been connected with Monroe and Walton County.  Two of them in recent years, Governors McDaniel and Clifford Walker, have been important factors in our social, religious and business life.

        Governor Colquitt was born on the lot opposite the present Methodist Church.

        Governor Hubbard, of Texas, was born two miles southeast of Alcovy Mountain, on the old road leading to Social Circle.  He was a poor boy who worked his way through Mercer University.

        Governor Boynton married Miss Susie Harris near High Shoals.

        Governor Wilson Lumpkin was the first clerk of the Baptist church in Monroe and while living here entertained General Andrew Jackson, President of the United States.

        Social life in Monroe is remembered with much pleasure, for all who behaved themselves were in good standing.  At Christmas time an eggnog flavored with brandy was the custom for everyone.  A Christmas tree was erected in one of the churches for the town.  Santa Claus usually brought each child a stocking filled with an apple, an orange, raisins, nuts, stripped stick candy along with a pack of firecrackers.

        Every home was open to the young folks who had a “party” somewhere every night during Christmas week except Sunday.  We played “Many, Many Stars”, “Fishing for Love”, “Stealing Partners”, “Whip to the Right”, usually to the music of a fiddle.  We young folks in town did not dance, for it was against the rules of the church.

        In summer we fished, “went washing” in the creek or river, attended protracted meetings, school exhibitions, barbecues, big church dinners and watermelon cuttings.

        In winter we set traps for birds, hunted rabbits, squirrels, ‘possums, foxes and coons, all of which were plentiful.  I never knew a girl or woman in Monroe who was not respectful of others, until I was of age and the town was much larger. Strong drink was our trouble.  Nearly every man had a home and some land and marriage vows were respected.

        Forty-five ordained preachers have claimed this country as their home, having been born here, or educated here or spent most of their useful lives in Walton, and their names are given in alphabetical order:

        Lorenzo Allen, Walter Allen, James M. Adams, L.N. Anthony, Seab Arnold, Claud Atha, Josh Atha, W. A. Brooks, Ed Braswell, Tom Burruss, J. W. Burson, Ed Caldwell, Lu Caldwell, J. L. Clark, Bob Cook, Virgil Colfield, L. E. Crow, Fred Eden, Herschel Ford, James J. Garrett, Billy Gibson, Doc Hurst, Ernest Jennings, William Ivey, June Ivey, Frank Jackson, Jack loggins, Joe McGarity, Toombs McGarity, T. E. McCutchen, David Moncrief, George Malcom, Gus Nunnally, J. O. A. Radford, James McD. Radford, Seab Rogers, George Steed, James Shelnutt, Erastus Shelnutt, Ben Still, Job Still, Marshal Still, Owen Still, James Snow, John Roach Straton, Allen Thomas, Berrien Upshaw, Charlie Upshaw and Stokes Walker.

        Of the above list, four names are of the Christian demonination, six are Methodists, eleven are Primitive Baptists, and twenty-eight are Missionary Baptists. Valuable aid in securing these names was rendered by our county officers.      

        The names of our negro preachers could not be had, but they would make a credible showing and their usefulness is greatly appreciated. This list is remarkable for the number of names it bears and for the amount of good accomplished by these consecrated men. Many of them are filling pulpits of great usefulness today, while others have received their crown of righteousness.

        Modern Monroe appreciates her fine young people who have grown up in recent years; also the many men and women of influence who have come from other sections to make here one of the fairest and most substantial cities in our great state.”

        Continuing on in the third installment of his column, Rev. Walker relates: “Mrs. Edward Ellis has a large photograph of Monroe’s brass band, seated in a wagon bought by Mr. Calvin G. Nowell from a circus that was sold out here.

        It gives excellent pictures of Hamp Hughes, Jasper Turner, Ben Edwards, with beard and beaver, Dave Hughes, Bob Wayne, Jim Snow, John West Snow, Bob Pendergrass, Will Snow; also Aaron Early and Wes Giles as drivers.  Only the first and last mentioned are living.  When General Gordon came to speak in his campaign for governor, this band escorted him to the court house.

        Among the delights of childhood were the figs, apples, peaches, quinces, cherries, plums, pears, blackberries, strawberries, dewberries, scuppernongs which used to be in abundance here.  Berries, fruits, melons and vegetables in north Georgia have a flavor not found in many other sections. Strolls in search of sweetgum, chestnuts, chinquepins, blackberries and muscadines will never be forgotten.

        On May 1, there was an annual community picnic at the foot of Alcovy Mountain near a cool spring where a delicious dinner was served. Two and two, often hand in hand, we boys and girls would follow the trail to the summit where, in the midst of honeysuckle and dogwood blossoms, we would enjoy the view of the river, plains and hills stretching far away towards Stone Mountain and Atlanta.

        To our roster of preachers should be added the name of James Greggs, son of Joe Greggs, of Good Hope, who went to college in Tennessee and has a pastorate there. Joe Milligan, a fine character, was for two years pastor at Mountain Creek.

        John Roach Stanton, whose name is on the list, lived for two years in the Carnes house across from the post office.  He was the son of a local minister and is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City. During his time here he was well known throughout our entire community.

        Gus Nunnally, after serving Monroe and other churches for eleven years became pastor of the First Church of Rome and president of Shorter College.  He was also pastor at Eufaula, Alabama and president of Columbia College in Florida. He was prepared for college in a blacksmith shop in the Blasingame district.

        Ed Caldwell has ably edited The Walton News for half a century and has lived a shameless life while making an enviable record as a preacher.

        No one has ever served his generation better than Rev. J. O. A. Radford, who for many years was pastor of Methodist churches in this section while serving as beloved superintendent of our schools.

        Wesley Baker was my teacher in my second year and I revere his name. George Stone, aged professor at Oxford and uncle of Judge Lon Stone, taught me, in my early life, to love the Maker of the ocean, land and sky; and, like the Savior, he illustrated the Bible truths by frequent references to birds, flowers and other objects in nature, his own character being most beautiful.”

        Ending this segment Rev. Walker said, “I love all types of humanity, for the noblest of all creatures is man, who was made in the image of God and will live in immortal youth when all else on earth has passed away.”