LOOK AT MONROE IN 1873
The interest and appreciation I have for my hometown dates back to the
early fifties when I first came in contact with old issues of The Walton Tribune
at the Monroe Library where my Great Aunt Ruby was librarian. On the days when I
would stay with Ruby after school, if there were patrons in the library or if
there was gossip being shared, I was relegated to the back room where old issues
of the Tribune along with other newspapers and magazines resided.
one particular instance when my mother was involved in some serious gossip with
Ruby in the main room, I came through the door from the back dragging a
chocolate-smeared issue of the Tribune behind me, asking where various houses
were located along with inquiring as to some of the old Monroe names I was not
took a “Bette Davis” puff of her cigarette and, adding to the smoke already
in the room, laughed as she said, “Honey, you were just born forty years too
what, when and where” detailing life as it was known 145 years ago.
Back in 1935
Mr. Walker, who by then was a Baptist minister, passed along to his good friend
Ernest Camp, the recollections from his childhood which Mr. Camp shared with the
journal entries turned into six columns which will be presented in their
entirety over the next few months and the declarations and observations will
surprise, amuse and delight the readers today showing how small yet strong our
town was back then and the determination the citizens had in continuing to
create a city which has endured now for almost 200 years.
stated: “Sixty-two years ago when I was 14 years of age, Monroe had six
hundred inhabitants, living mostly in plain homes on Broad Street.
East Alley along Church Street and along the Social Circle road there were only
three or four houses for several miles in each direction.
A big event was the setting up of a sawmill back of the stores.
The whistle at noon called all the weary laborers to their dinner.
early days meat sold for five and six cents, flour for three or four dollars a
barrel for two hundred pounds, cotton for seven cents and land for eight dollars
trusted each other. Every man tried
to be a good neighbor and to win the respect of others. Women spun thread,
weaved their cloth and made their own garments.
shoes, properly greased, were good enough for Sunday.
Much of the cooking was done in the big open fireplaces. There were no
organs in the churches. Mothers made candles of tallow to light up their homes.
People traveled by walking, riding horseback, in wagons, or in open
buggies, sheltered by a big stationary umbrella.
There was a
public well on Broad Street in front of the court house. Thomas Giles, ordinary,
fifty-two years ago, built the court house we now have for $30,000 cash, nobody
knowing he had that much money.
sold largely on credit from January until fall on reasonable security.
processions usually walked through town, the pallbearers bearing the casket in
their hands. Coffins were made here
and graves were dug by groups of friends.
wagons, wheat cradles, chairs, beds, tables, harnesses and many other useful
things were made in town by Sorney Snow, Jack Snow, Captain Pendergrass, Rufus
Hughes, John Wayne, Billie Wayne, Lawrence Mitchell, Jasper Turner and others.
tannery was built and used by my grandfather near the spring west of town. The
brick for our first stores were made near our cotton mills by two brothers, Joe
and Jim Baker.
and Alcovy Streets come together one of our schools was located, a one-room
frame building in a grove of large chestnut trees, where the writer of these
lines, at six years of age, learned his first lessons in the Blueback Speller,
and carried in his arms flint rocks for the play house the girls were making in
the shade of the trees.
happy days. The boy next to me as we stood before our lady teacher, was Frank
Nowell, a desk-mate and golden-hearted friend through life.
The Johnston Institute was a much larger frame building, located in the
grove east of the present Tichenor home for for over twenty years a famous
school was taught by Professor Andrew Burruss, assisted by his brother and
others who drew patronage from Walton, Morgan and Oconee counties.
Methodist church was where the railroad reaches its highest grade before leaving
town towards the north, and the Baptist church stood where it stands now.
Both houses were one-room buildings.
Both the churches were well patronized and nearly everybody attended each
church. Hymns were given out by the
pastor, two lines at a time.
Snow would raise a tune without an organ, followed by a volume of harmony such
as the angels and the redeemed saints made when ‘they played their harps of
gold and sang the song of Moses and the lamb beside the sea of glass’ as
recorded in Revelation.
It will be
fine to hear those voices again and someday some of us will hear them.
Tears of joy often flowed down the face of the preacher and the faces of
those who heard him and penitent sinners would kneel for prayer at the front
chapter from Rev. Walker’s journal will continue next month.
A bit of background history on Rev. Walker: William Stokes Walker was born March 29, 1859, the fourth son of Dickerson H. and Mary Neel Walker. He attended the Monroe schools and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1877. He entered Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he studied for three years. On his 23rd birthday he requested to serve as a Baptist missionary to China and landed there on February 24, 1882. On
A bit of
background history on Rev. Walker: William Stokes Walker was born March 29,
1859, the fourth son of Dickerson H. and Mary Neel Walker.
He attended the Monroe schools and graduated from the University of
Georgia in 1877. He entered Southern
Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he studied for three years.
On his 23rd
birthday he requested to serve as a Baptist missionary to China and landed there
on February 24, 1882. On September
19, 1883, he married Lillian Mateer, a young Presbyterian missionary in China.
After two years he became ill and returned to Monroe where he served as
pastor at the Baptist Church and other country churches in northeast Georgia.
After the death of his wife, Rev. Walker married two more times and his third
wife was Maggie Carswell. In 1923
Rev. & Mrs. Walker moved to Largo, Florida where he continued to serve as
pastor for several years. He
received a Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Georgia in 1927.
He died on May 5, 1949 and is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery.