Eddie Lee Wilkins Interview

The Eddie Lee Wilkins Story

By Krys King

Based on King’s interview with Eddie Lee Wilkins on November 15, 2018.

Eddie Lee Wilkins, a six feet ten inch soft spoken man, brings to mind, “gentle giant” both physically and in character.  His focus in life is to inspire youth to be their best.  He credits his family and mentors for the formation of his character, but perhaps it is innate, himself being one of humanity’s unique individuals with an extraordinary God given talent and a dedicated ambition for helping youth.  To all who know his story, he is a living legend.

          On May 7, 1962 Viola and Eddie James Wilkins gave birth to their eighth and last child, Eddie Lee Wilkins. With a full house, the Wilkins home was filled with love.  There was also a deep-rooted foundation of faith in God, which a young Eddie depended on when he lost his father at the age of eight years old.

In spite of his father’s passing and losing that father figure in the home, Eddie had several male role models who helped him through his life’s journey beginning with his older and only brother, to whom he continuously looked for guidance.

Eddie Lee began his academic and sports career at White Elementary in 1966, the second year after the integration of schools, which at the time housed grades kindergarten through eighth grades.  He indicated that racial discrimination was not a defining part of his school years.  It was there that he found his love for basketball, and he attributes this esteem for the sport to his elementary school coach, Sammy Hood.  Hood became a mentor and constant source of wisdom for Eddie, teaching him discipline, dedication, and team work.  Apparently, the good natured young Eddie was a receptive student whose Christian character was strengthened by his coach’s training.   

Going into Cass High as a freshman, Wilkins admits that he wasn’t “all that good” at the game of basketball, but playing was something he wanted and believed he could do and he thought he could be one of the best performers by giving it his all. With that motivation he worked day in and day out on his craft, perfecting the sport.  By his senior year and thanks to a six-inch growth spurt over the previous summer, Wilkins was not only playing for the varsity team, he had become a teenage superstar.

Wilkin’s height of 6” 10” and skills on the court caught the eye of Gardner-Webb University that offered him a full scholarship.  Wilkins was thrilled to continue his basketball career on a college level and was also enthusiastic to be playing for Gardner-Webb which is a Christian-based campus.  This meant a lot to him, as the institution not only supported his sport but his morals.  Wilkins does not drink alcohol or smoke and takes care of his physical health.  Perhaps this is a way of honoring his creation.  At the time of the interview, he was replacing some meals with nutritional juices in preparation for the upcoming Thanksgiving family food festivities at his home.

Eddie was able to showcase his talents on a larger platform while attending Gardner, with the help of his college coach, Coach Jim Wildes, and mentor Richard Buccalou.  Wilkins went on to become a three time “First Team All American”.  However, college wasn’t all about sports; course studies meant just as much to him.  Wilkins prides himself for putting the same focus and dedication into his school work as he did into basketball, believing that an academic education was as important as excellence on the court.  He believed a solid foundation in education would take him more places than sports alone.

            Eddie Lee Wilkins caught the eye of several NBA scouts, and by 1984, the New York Nicks in particular eagerly sought his recruitment.  He signed with them later that year.  Although, Wilkins went on to play with the Philadelphia 76ers, it was during his years playing for New York that Wilkins found his passion for giving back when he began working with terminally ill children.  He embraced this endeavor with dedication as it satisfied a longing desire and brought him back to where he came from; a small town in Georgia- Cartersville.  In 1989 he began what is now called The Eddie Lee Wilkins Youth Association.  It is a non-profit in which young children can be a part, and not only learn the fundamentals of the great sport of basketball but receive tutoring in academics like math and science as well.  His youth organizations provide camps, meals, mentoring, and so much more for the children of the community in which he grew up.  Wilkins is quoted as saying, “It was important to me to come back and give back to the younger generations the chance and opportunities to be successful. If I can do anything to change one person’s life, it’s all worth it.”

That he has done.  With tens of thousands of children coming through his association over the past thirty years, Wilkins has helped many young men succeed in basketball; currently including Ashton Haggins, who plays for the University of Kentucky and Trey Dumes, who is at West Virginia.  To many more, he has contributed not only to their love of and success in basketball, but also to being the best version of themselves that they can possibly be.  He states that one of his greatest joys is to give new uniforms to youth groups.  He observes that when team members look professional, they are inspired to do their best.

With his NBA career behind him, Eddie, along with his wife Dawn and their four children, work for the association continuing to motivate and inspire the next generation.  Reported in the Cartersville Tribune News:  On June 21st, 2017, at the invitation of Wilkins, the famous former NBA All-Star, Dale Ellis, visited and spoke to the youth at the Eddie Lee Wilkins Youth Camp in Cartersville, Georgia, located at the J.H. Morgan Gym on Summer Hill.  The youth listened with rapt attention.  Wilkins is quoted in this edition of the Tribune as saying, “I’ve had numerous NBA players come here.  The thing we have in common is we’re a brotherhood.  It’s a very special, very unique group and it’s a fraternity that play in the NBA.  I was very fortunate to bring this type of people to Cartersville to meet these kids and inspire them to be great at whatever they do.” 

Visit You Tube at Eddie Lee Wilkins Youth Association to see players in action and see Wilkins express his aspirations for the youth.  Although Wilkins’ youth association has grown to reach communities across Georgia, he credits that growth and success to the backing of his hometown of Cartersville. With humility, determination and know how; for the past thirty years, Wilkins has consistently been on task to reach, inspire, teach and direct youth to be all they can be.

This living legend hopes to be remembered as someone who was honest, humble, and always there.

Perceptions of the Great Locomotive Chase


The Memory of the Great Locomotive Chase from Atlanta to Chattanooga

Nikolas Kekel


The Great Locomotive Chase is a prominent feature of the interpretive landscape in North Georgia. This paper examines the cause of the Chase’s popularity as well as how public historians have used the Chase for educational purposes. In addition, this piece explores museum exhibits as academic works and acknowledging the biases of curators as their authors. Sites, museums, and organizations examined are the Atlanta History Center, Marietta Museum of History, Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, Etowah Valley Historical Society, Adairsville Visitor Center and Museum, Tunnel Hill Museum, the Chattanooga National Cemetery, several historic markers, and other public displays related to the Great Locomotive Chase. 

The Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, abbreviated to GLC or simply the Chase, is a prominent fixture of the historic landscape in North Georgia. The path that Andrews’ Raiders took is now dotted with historic markers and museums that tell the story of the Chase. The story of the Chase itself is well documented and those interested in it will find sources such as firsthand accounts from the likes of William Pittenger, as well as narrative histories like Russell Bonds’ book Stealing the General. What is lacking is an examination of the way the Chase has been interpreted at places like museums. If one were to travel along the path that the General took toward Chattanooga one would find 9 roadside markers, 5 museum exhibits, 3 public displays, and a festival, all dedicated to the GLC. This begs the question, why is the Chase such a popular story? The answer of course is complex, but the most fundamental reason for the GLC’s continued popularity is its ability to adapt to the needs of the storyteller.[2]

Historians and museum curators are alike in that they are both storytellers. Every article written or exhibit constructed has a purpose other than relaying basic information such as statistics or dates. There is a message being conveyed beyond the subject at hand and this message is influenced not only by the creator’s conscious choices, but also their inherent biases. Museums and other public historical sites are often rated by the public as trustworthy sources of information and are often seen as being unbiased.[3] This is a common misconception about museums and their exhibits, for in actuality museum exhibits are created with clear goals in mind. Much like a written essay, text in an exhibit is trying to convince the reader of a certain point and is not simply a statements of fact. What does separate a museum exhibit from an essay, is the use of artifacts and interactive elements. Exhibits are also created for a broader audience than most essays are. Exhibits have to appeal to, and be digestible by, children of various ages and the adults who accompany them. As such, most exhibit text uses simple language and keeps the overall length of text short. A popular saying among public historians is that museum text is the Twitter of the academic world, keep it 280 characters or less. If text is too long or complicated visitors simply won’t read it. This environment incentivizes short and direct passages which in turn give the reader the perception of being unbiased. A curator’s intent is less obvious in any one specific passage, but becomes clear when the exhibit is taken as a whole and the way an event is framed is taken into account. Historical markers and other small public displays take this approach to the extreme, boiling down an entire event into a single paragraph of text. Word choice in such a monument is extremely important, and what is left unsaid can help reveal the author’s intent.[4]

It is important to examine museums and public displays because the majority of people would rather visit a museum than read an academic paper. Museums in America have become an arm of the education system by partnering with schools for tours. They are also one of the main ways adults learn about history once they graduate high school.[5] As such, evaluating the exhibits at a museum should be approached in a similar manner to an academic essay. The exhibit’s thesis analyzed, supporting evidence weighed, and its bias recognized.

Before looking into the markers, museums, and displays along the Raider’s path it is important to have a cursory knowledge of the GLC. The Chase took place on April 12, 1962, and involved twenty-two U.S. soldiers and two civilians infiltrating Confederate lines and stealing a train named the General. The leader of this group was named James Andrews, and after the GLC this group would be known as Andrews’ Raiders. The Raid was planned by Andrews and Brigadier General Ormsby Mitchel, commander of the Department of Ohio. The two men planned for the Raid to coincide with Mitchel’s attack on Chattanooga so that the destruction caused by the Raiders would make sending reinforcements north difficult. Two of Andrews’ men were detained and forced to join the Confederate Army, two more overslept and missed the departure of the General from Marietta. The remaining eighteen men boarded the train at Marietta, then when the General was stopped for breakfast in Big Shanty the Raiders detached the passenger cars and stole the train. Their plan was to take the stolen train north toward Chattanooga, Tennessee destroying bridges, parts of the railroad, and telegraph lines along the way. Both the attack on Chattanooga and the Raid would ultimately fail to have a significant impact on the outcome of the War.[6]

The Raiders were unable to cause sufficient destruction to the railroad to make pursuit impossible. William Fuller, the conductor of the stolen General, gave chase after the Raiders, first on foot then by commandeering the trains Yonah, William R. Smith, and Texas respectively. Fuller eventually caught up with the Raiders just north of Ringgold Georgia. After they ran out of fuel they abandoned the General and attempted to escape on foot. All 22, including the four who missed the Raid, of the fleeing raiders were eventually caught and tried in Chattanooga. Eight of the Raiders, including Andrews himself, were hanged in Atlanta, Georgia. Of the other 14 Raiders, eight escaped and the other six were later returned to the U.S. as part of a prisoner exchange. The surviving Raiders would be the first to receive the newly created Medal of Honor for their part in the GLC. All but three of the soldiers involved in the Raid would eventually receive the Medal, with those that had died receiving it posthumously.[7]

For those seeking to follow the path that the Raiders took, the most common starting place is the marker in Atlanta dedicated to those men who were executed as a result of their participation in the Raid. The marker is located at the intersection of Juniper St and Third St in downtown Atlanta, and was erected in 1952 by the Georgia Historical Commission as part of Georgia’s preparation for the centennial anniversary of the Civil War. The goal was to boost tourism by creating a historic driving trail that marked important events and troop movements during the Civil War. The marker is a logical place to start an investigation into the interpretive landscape as it is the southernmost monument dedicated to the GLC. The marker is named “James J. Andrews” and it primarily discusses him, where he was from, and his involvement in the Chase. Towards the end of the text on the marker it also mentions the other 7 men who were executed and how they received the medal of Honor.[8]

This marker is significant because it was erected as Georgia was getting ready for the Civil War Centennial and as such, it gives a small insight into that time period. The placement of the marker is also significant; it is a monument to a Northern spy placed in the heart of the former Confederacy. In his book, William Pittenger quotes Andrews as saying he would “either make it to Chattanooga or die in Dixie,” and this marker is proof that Andrews’ prediction was correct.[9] The time of construction along with its placement is indicative of a reunification mentality which in turn is a common aspect of the New South philosophy. In this context one sees Andrews not as a Union or Yankee hero but instead as an American hero, someone that everyone should be proud of. This shows that through the marker project the GHC was trying to make Georgia more attractive to Northern visitors and to boost the spirt of unification.

Though the heyday of the New South ideology was in the early 20th century with Henry Grady, markers like this one show that the spirit of the New South was still alive by 1952. After World War Two and the rapid industrialization to support the war effort, there was renewed interest in industrializing the South.[10] In the 1950s there would have been an effort to make the South more appealing to investors, just as there was during the rise of the New South in the early 20th century. With this in mind the James Andrews marker in Atlanta is part of the revival of the ideas behind the New South movement, such as a push for unification and patriotism. 

The next stop along the interpretive trail is the Atlanta History Center. Located just over five miles north of the Andrews Marker at 130 West Paces Ferry Road. The Atlanta History Center started out as the Atlanta Historical Society in 1926 and became the History Center in 1990. The AHC is a large museum in downtown Atlanta with a wide range of exhibits, but the one that pertains to the GLC is their exhibit on the Texas. The Texas is a steam engine built in 1856 and was one of the trains Fuller used to pursue the Raiders in 1862. The Texas was moved to the AHC in 2017 with an exhibit featuring the locomotive opening on December 17, 2018.[11]

The exhibit at the AHC which includes the Texas does not actually focus on the GLC very much at all. Of the thirteen panels that are part of the exhibit, only three discuss the GLC with the rest focusing on the railroad industry in Georgia. The room in which the Texas is housed is dominated by the engine from the moment one steps foot into it. The first panels that a visitor encounters discuss how Atlanta was originally named Terminus and how the railways were what made Atlanta into a large city. The panels that follow continue to develop the narrative of Atlanta as a rail town and discuss the advancement of rail technology into the modern day. After this, one encounters panels discussing race and the issue of segregation in rail travel. Other panels discus how the railroad was built by different minorities such as Irish and African Americans, both free and enslaved men worked on the rail road. The exhibit continues detailing facts about the rail industry and it is not until the last set of panels before you board the Texas that the GLC and the Texas are even mentioned. One panel discusses what happened to the Texas from 1907-2015, the Chase itself is given one panel, and a third panel details the Chase’s impact on culture through movies. There is a final set of panels in front of the Texas which discuss the various parts of the train along with the modifications and restorations it has endured through its existence.[12]

The choice to focus not on the GLC but instead on Atlanta as an early railroad hub is not a bad one, but is important to note that it was a decision made on the part of the curator at AHC. The Texas is most famous for its part in the Chase but had a long service career unrelated to the Chase. The exhibit examines the locomotive in its entirety and uses it more as an example of a train from the mid-19th century, than as the famous train that Fuller used to chase down Andrews. This exhibit is very recent and shows the trend towards telling more inclusive stories and not focusing on what is often called “Great Man History”. By including more relatable stories like those of the average railroad worker or traveler, the content is more accessible and has a greater impact on visitors. The GLC is an amazing story which is certainly part of the reason it has become such an iconic event, but at the AHC one sees how even these grand events can be used to tell the story of the average person and relate to visitors on a more personal level.

In Spring of 2020 Dr. Gordon Jones, a curator at the AHC, gave a talk to a group of KSU students regarding the exhibits featuring the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama and the Texas, which are closely linked due to both pieces being housed together since 1927. Dr. Jones spoke about how their audience at the AHC has changed and they can no longer simply tell a story like the GLC or the Battle of Atlanta. When they were designing these exhibits they wanted to address the entire life of the artifact not just a piece of it. The Texas had a long service life and the Cyclorama had an interesting history that had very little to do with the Battle of Atlanta. Visitors to the museum have come to expect interpretation that includes stories about minorities and the working class, not just rich white men. Dr. Jones discussed how in this day and age one must be cognizant of the Lost Cause and how it has influenced the public’s perception of certain events.  He impressed upon the students the importance of recognizing what their audience’s needs are and responding to those needs.[13]

This exhibit also shows how a museum’s audience shapes its design. Atlanta is a progressive and liberal city by Southern standards and an exhibit steeped in Lost Cause rhetoric which glorified the Confederacy would not be well received there. This points to the fact that unlike an article which could receive national or even international circulation, the primary audience for a museum exhibit is the community surrounding it. A curator must be attuned to the needs of their community in order to create a successful exhibit. The exhibit housing the Texas is a great example of this as it recognizes the GLC but frames it within the larger story of the railroad in Atlanta and how its development impacted the life of everyday Atlantans. This creates an exhibit which resonates much stronger within its community than one which focused on the GLC.

The next museum north of Atlanta which features an exhibit on the GLC, is the Marietta Museum of History. The MMH is housed in the historic Kennesaw House located at 1 Depot St on Marietta Square. The building was constructed in 1845 as a cotton warehouse before being turned into a Hotel by Dix Fletcher in 1855. The building also served as a hospital and morgue for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The MMH’s connection to the GLC is that 20 of the Raiders stayed in the Fletcher Hotel the night before they boarded the General in Marietta.[14]

The exhibit at the MMH is called the Andrews’ Room and is designed to appear as a hotel room contemporary to the GLC. The focus of the exhibit is three fold, it details the Chase giving a description of the story, it honors those who died in the raid and discusses how the Raiders were the first men to receive the Medal of Honor, and it informs the reader about the history of the building itself. Unlike the AHC the connection to the Raid is not minimized but instead it is a prominent portion of the exhibit. The MMH also chooses to use this exhibit to highlight the history of the building, with panels discussing its construction, its time as a hotel, and its use as a hospital during the war. The majority of artifacts in the room also pertain to the building’s use as a hotel, with a rope bed and hotel log books being a few examples.[15]

While this exhibit differs greatly at first glance from the one at the AHC, the MMH has also chosen to use the GLC as a shuttle for another message. The message in question being how the everyday life of historical figures differed from our own. This message may seem a bit odd, but the reason for it becomes clear when one familiarizes themselves with the Georgia Standards of Excellence. One of the first social studies standards in Georgia is describing how the everyday lives of historical figures are similar to and different from everyday life in the present.[16] With this in mind, the MMH does a wonderful job of incorporating things like a chamber pot, washing bowl, and a rope bed that help young students grasp the idea that life in the past was very different to how we live our lives today. This speaks to the partnership between museums and schools, where teachers will often rely on museums to provide educational experiences that satisfy certain educational standards. The third aspect of the exhibit, informing visitors of the buildings history, also ties nicely into the themes seen thus far. As this was the place where the Raiders stayed, the building becomes an integral part of the story and just like the Texas at the AHC, the building has another story all on its own. By tying this into the GLC, visitors learn about a Marietta landmark as well as what the average person would have experienced when staying in a hotel in the 1860s. 

Big shanty, now known as Kennesaw, is where the Raiders stole the General and it also features a museum dedicated to the GLC. The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History is located at 2829 Cherokee St in Kennesaw. The museum started out as the Big Shanty Museum in 1972 and as it grew and collected more materials and artifacts the name was changed several times before settling on the Southern Museum. The history of the museum is tied into the GLC as it was initially constructed to house the General after Georgia received custody of it from Chattanooga.[17] The exhibit that exists at the museum today stands in contrast with the previous examples in that it is almost wholly dedicated to the GLC from beginning to end. While the rest of the museum explores the history of the railroad in Georgia, once the exhibit on the General begins almost all panels are dedicated to some aspect of the Chase. There are even large models of the Lacey Hotel and Tunnel Hill that visitors walk through. The entire exhibit takes up several rooms with one dedicated to the men who participated in the event, one about the details of the chase with maps and photos of various parts along the path, and another dedicated to the General. It is in the final room that a second narrative is introduced. There is an interactive panel which details how after the General was decommissioned from regular service, it was restored to tour around the country as a show piece in exhibitions. There is also a short film about the General which plays every thirty minutes in a theater just before one enters the exhibit.[18]

Wall of Images Downtown Kennesaw (Big Shanty)

The SMCWLH’s approach is similar to the AHC but on a museum scale rather than an exhibit scale. The General is the most famous piece of the museum’s collection but to see it visitors have to go through several exhibits on the history of the railroad and the Glover Machine Works. However, on an exhibit level it is heavily focused on the GLC to the point where one has to look for more information on the General after the Chase. From this it is clear that the SMCWLH is engaging with a different audience than the AHC. The exhibit at the Southern Museum portrays Fuller as the hero of the story. This is particularly noticeable in the short film about the Chase which ends with a toast to Fullers as a Confederate hero.

Across from the museum is the Kennesaw Depot park which showcases murals by Wilbur Kurtz, depicting highlights from the GLC. Accompanying the murals are text panels which describe the events of the Chase. The park along with the museum are examples of how the chase is part of the character of Kennesaw. Many cities base choose an identity with which to market themselves, one can see that one of the ways Kennesaw has chosen to market itself is as the start of the Great Locomotive Chase. This event has become engrained in the local narrative and is now used to generate tourism for the area. This helps to explain why the museum focuses so much on the chase, as it is a spot of pride for Kennesaw. The General is a prominent piece of local history and the Chase put Kennesaw on the map, making the name Big Shanty famous.

All along the journey to retrace the Raider’s path, one will find numerous historical markers that detail the Chase. There is of course the Andrews marker in Atlanta but there are also markers in Marietta, Kennesaw, Kingston, Tunnel Hill and Ringgold. Several of these live in what are called marker farms where several historical markers are placed in close proximity. The museum at Tunnel Hill has just such a farm outside of it, but the most noteworthy marker outside of Atlanta is the one in downtown Kennesaw. This marker gives a very brief description of the Raiders and primarily focuses on Fuller and the other Confederates that pursued the Raiders. This is noteworthy given the marker’s proximity to the Southern Museum as well as their mutual focus on Fuller.[19]

The Etowah Valley Historical Society is based out of Cartersville and recently erected a plaque along the railroad tracks in downtown Cartersville commemorating the GLC. Joe Head, a member of the EVHS, spoke about his experiences with the GLC. Head first became interested in the Chase when, as a child, he missed the General when it was visiting Georgia as part of an exhibition. This missed opportunity piqued his interest in the Chase and when he was in college he researched the then-ongoing legal battle between Georgia and Chattanooga. The Southern Museum briefly discusses this issue but Head’s research into the subject is more extensive than what is portrayed there. Head pursued his research on the General into graduate school and beyond, publishing several pieces on it. Head has given over 200 talks discussing the legal battle for the General, and has turned his childhood interest into serious academic work.[20]

Joe Head is an example of another reason for the continued importance of the GLC. The personal connection to the story inspires individuals who become champions of the story. A notorious example of this type of character is Wilbur Kurtz who, throughout the early and mid-20th century, ensured the GLC’s place in history. He created many works of art related to the Chase, he consulted on the GLC Disney film, and he advised many others on their own works. Head is a modern day example of Kurtz, as Head spread his own story about how Chattanooga attempted to steal the General for a second time and how it was returned to Georgia by the Supreme Court. This story is a product of his own research and more modern events, but it is linked to the GLC and the General and so long as he continues to proliferate it, he will keep the GLC in the public eye.[21]

After Mr. Head and Cartersville, is the Adairsville Depot Museum and Visitors Center. Located at 101 Public Square, the Depot houses a small collection of artifacts relating to Adairsville. The interpretation at the Depot was a partnership between the KSU and the City of Adairsville. Students from one of Dr. Jennifer Dickey’s Public History courses conducted research on the Depot and wrote the series of interpretive panels that now reside there. The exhibit at the Depot focuses on Adairsville history showing it from its beginnings as a Native American town, to a small railroad town which grew into a major producer of cotton and peaches. The GLC takes a prominent role in the center of the Depots exhibit with a set of model trains rigged to repeat the Chase as one reads about the event below them.[22]

The exhibit at the Depot frames the GLC as one of many significant events that happened in Adairsville while also including information about the Western & Atlantic Railroad and everyday life in Adairsville. The approach taken at the Depot appears to be a mixture of that taken at the Southern Museum and the AHC. The event is featured prominently but it is also used as a shuttle for other information about life in Adairsville and connects the viewer with more relatable experiences. Unlike previous exhibits on the matter, the depot discusses the fates of both the Texas and the General after the GLC and touches on the legal battle that surrounded the General’s return to Georgia.[23]

Adairsville is also the home of the GLC Festival, a three-day long event which commemorates the events of the Chase. The Festival started in 1969 and combines a carnival and a fall festival along with a celebration of Adairsville’s part in the GLC. As mentioned in the promotional material for the Festival, Adairsville was the location where Fuller met with train engineer Peter Bracken and renewed his pursuit of the Raiders aboard the Texas driving in reverse.[24] Much like in Kennesaw, the GLC has become part of the Adairsville story and is now intertwined with residents’ yearly traditions. The festival is as much a recognition of the GLC as a celebration of town’s history as a whole and way for the community to bond over a shared past, carnival rides, and fried food.[25]

Promotional poster for the Great Locomotive Chase Festival

Tunnel Hill as previously mentioned features several markers as well as a museum and, as the name implies, a tunnel that goes through a hill. Both the Raiders and Fuller went through the railroad tunnel which still exists as a foot path at Tunnel Hill. The museum at Tunnel Hill dedicates one display case to the GLC with the rest of the museum being about related subjects such as the Western & Atlantic Railroad and the Civil War. The interpretation at Tunnel Hill stands out for being so light. The tunnel itself lacks any kind of text panels explaining the Chase with those that are present focusing on how the tunnel was built and operated. Tunnel Hill continues the trend of using the GLC as a means to educate on a related topic, in this case the railroads and the Civil War.[26]

The final stop along the Raiders trail is a monument in the Chattanooga National Cemetery to those Raiders that were executed in Atlanta after the Chase. The monument consists of the Raiders’ graves and a large bronze casting of the General atop a stone base. The civilians James Andrews and William Campbell are buried alongside their fellow Raiders despite them not being soldiers. Upon visiting the monument, one would immediately notice the coins which decorate the tops of the Raiders’ grave stones. This is part of a military custom when visiting the grave of a fallen soldier to place a coin on top of the grave to let the family of the soldier know that you visited.[27] The large piles of coins atop the raiders graves shows how actively visited this monument still is. The monument at the National Cemetery is important because it shows that despite being over 158 years old, the events of the Chase are still impactful enough to compel numerous people to visit the graves of the Raiders and leave offerings. Clearly the stories being told and the histories written about the GLC still have a wide audience in Tennessee and North Georgia.

GLC Monument National Cemetery in Chattanooga
GLC Graves of Executed Raiders

There have also been two movies and several books made about the GLC, the most famous of which is the 1956 Disney film by the same name. While these films and popular books, like Stealing the General, have had a large impact on the perception of the GLC, they are more national interpretations and are therefore less relevant to the interpretive landscape of North Georgia.[28]

The common denominator among all of the exhibits, markers, and monuments examined is the flexibility inherent in the GLC. It makes a compelling story which can be told in numerous ways based on the needs of the story teller. It can take the form of a pro-U.S. narrative which pushes the Raiders as the heroes of the story, as a means to boost unification sentiment and patriotism in a time when there was a push for industrialization and investment in the South. The GLC can also be used as a pro-Confederate narrative which portrays Fuller as a proud Southern hero who caught the invading Northern aggressors. Or, as is most often the case, the GLC can be used as an educational tool by public historians to educate visitors on important topics such as the history of the railroads or a commentary on race relations in a segregated South.

In closing, the interpretive landscape of North Georgia is littered with exhibits, monuments, and markers dedicated to the GLC and while all have similarities, they all approach the topic in a unique way. This is a result of them being produced by people with their own biases, who wanted to tell a certain kind of story and they used the GLC to do it. They were able to because the Chase is such a versatile narrative with numerous potential heroes and villains and it is surrounded by an important and rapidly advancing technology, the railroad. The GLC also has dedicated orators like Joe Head who have a personal connection to the Chase and continue to expose more and more people to it through the telling of their own stories. As long as historians continue to need interesting and flexible narratives to help them educate their audience, the Great Locomotive Chase will continue to stay relevant.


Primary Sources

Exhibit text and audio tour. The Great Locomotive Chase. Tunnel Hill Museum, Tunnel Hill, Georgia.

Exhibit text panels. General History Gallery. Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum, Adairsville, Georgia.

Exhibit text panels. Andrews’ Room. Marietta Museum of History, Marietta, Georgia.

Exhibit text panels. Locomotion. Railroads and the Making of Atlanta. Atlanta History Center, Atlanta.

Exhibit text panels. The Great Locomotive Chase. The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, Kennesaw, Georgia.

The General in Acworth, Georgia, April 1963, Save Acworth History Foundation collection, SC/A/003, Kennesaw State University Archives.

Georgia Historical Commission. Andrews Raid, 1954. Marker. Big Shanty and the Stealing of the General, Kennesaw, Georgia. November 4, 2020.

Georgia Historical Commission. James J. Andrews, 1954. Marker. Site of James Andrews’ Execution, Atlanta. October 19, 2020.

Georgia Historical Commission. Kennesaw House, 1952. Marker. The hotel the Raiders stayed in the night before the Raid, Marietta, Georgia. September 1, 2020.

Georgia Historical Commission. The Andrews Raid at Kingston, 1953. Marker. Raiders delayed in Kinston, Kingston, Georgia. November 4, 2020.

Georgia Historical Commission. Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel, 1992. Marker. Construction of the first southern railroad tunnels by W&A, Tunnel Hill, Georgia. November 4, 2020.

Great Locomotive Chase Festival Collection. 1979-2017. SC-G-008. Kennesaw State University Archives, Kennesaw, Georgia.

Hamilton, William J. Jr. Script for a play titled “An Epic of the Confederacy: The Great Locomotive Chase.” 1938. PS 3515 .A4165 E64x, Box 5. Pamphlet Collection, Kennesaw State University Archives, Kennesaw, Georgia.

Monument to the first Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, 1890. Monument and inscription. Andrews’ Raiders Monument, Chattanooga, Tennessee. November 4, 2020.


Secondary Sources

Alexander, Mary. Museums in Motion – an Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

Bonds, Russell S. Stealing the General. Yardley, Penn: Westholme, 2009.

Hackney, Sheldon. “Origins of the New South in Retrospect.” The Journal of Southern History 38, no. 2 (1972): 191-216. Accessed December 9, 2020. doi:10.2307/2206441.

Head, Joe F. “The Heart of the Chase the Great Locomotive Chase in Bartow County.” Bartow Authors Corner Civil War and Military Activity (December 16, 2015). https://evhsonline.org/archives/42894

Head, Joe F. The General: the Great Locomotive Dispute. Cartersville, GA: Bartow History Center, 1997.

Horwitz, Tony. A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World. London: J. Murray, 2008.

Horwitz, Tony. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.

“Grade 1 – Social Studies Georgia Standards of Excellence.” Georgia Standards. Georgia Department of Education, June 9, 2016. https://www.georgiastandards.org/Georgia-Standards/Pages/Social-Studies-Grade-1.aspx.

Kekel, Nikolas D, and Gordon Jones. Dr. Gordon Jones on the Texas and Cyclorama. Personal, March 2020.

Kekel, Nikolas D, and Joe Head. Joe Head on the Great Locomotive Chase. Personal, October 30, 2020.

Lewis, Robert. “World War II Manufacturing and the Postwar Southern Economy.” The Journal of Southern History 73, no. 4 (2007): 837-66. Accessed December 10, 2020. doi:10.2307/27649570.

“Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta: Exhibitions.” Locomotion. Railroads and the Making of Atlanta. Atlanta History Center, November 21, 2020. https://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/exhibitions/locomotion-railroads-and-the-making-of-atlanta/.

“Museum History.” Southern Museum. The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, 2020. https://www.southernmuseum.org/about-copy.

O’Connell, David. The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz Inspired by Southern History. Charleston: The History Press, 2013.

Parker, Randy. “Head Helps Preserve Bartow’s Past for Future Generations.” The Daily Tribune News. April 21, 2018, E- edition, sec. Bartow Bio. https://daily-tribune.com/stories/head-helps-preserve-bartows-past-for-future-generations,18598

Reid, Peter. “The Meaning behind the Tradition of Leaving Coins on Veterans’ Gravestones.” American Military News, March 14, 2017. https://americanmilitarynews.com/2017/03/meaning-behind-tradition-leaving-coins-veterans-gravestones/.

Pittenger, William. Daring and Suffering: A History of the Great Railroad Adventure. Philadelphia: J.W. Daughaday, 1863.

Pittenger, William. The Great Locomotive Chase: A History of the Andrews Railroad Raid into Georgia in 1862. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Publishing Company, 1921.

Wood, Catherine. “Visitor Trust When Museums Are Not Neutral,” 2018.

[1] The General in Acworth, Georgia, April 1963, Save Acworth History Foundation collection, SC/A/003, Kennesaw State University Archives.

[2] Many Histories have been written about the GLC however few have addressed how the Chase has been remembered. Other pieces have covered different events such as Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation which focuses on sites which interpret famous assassinations. And some like Tony Horwitz Confederates in the Attic have even covered the Civil War as a whole. But none of these investigative histories have covered the GLC and its impact on historic sites in North Georgia.

[3] Wood, Catherine. “Visitor Trust When Museums Are Not Neutral,” 2018.

[4] Mary Alexander, Museums in Motion – an Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

[5] Catherine Wood, “Visitor Trust When Museums Are Not Neutral,” 2018.

[6] Russell S. Bonds, Stealing the General (Yardley, Penn: Westholme, 2009).

[7] Ibid

[8] Georgia Historical Commission, James J. Andrews, 1954, Marker, Cite of James Andrews’ Execution, Atlanta. October 19, 2020.

[9] William Pittenger, The Great Locomotive Chase: A History of the Andrews Railroad Raid into Georgia in 1862, 8th ed. (Philadelphia: Penn Pub. Co., 1921) 101.

[10] Robert Lewis, “World War II Manufacturing and the Postwar Southern Economy.” The Journal of Southern History 73, no. 4 (2007): 837-66. Accessed December 10, 2020. doi:10.2307/27649570.

[11] “Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta: Exhibitions,” Locomotion. Railroads and the Making of Atlanta. (Atlanta History Center, November 21, 2020), https://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/exhibitions/locomotion-railroads-and-the-making-of-atlanta/.

[12] Exhibit text panels, Locomotion. Railroads and the Making of Atlanta, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta.

[13] Nikolas D. Kekel, and Gordon Jones, Dr. Gordon Jones on the Texas and Cyclorama, Personal, March 2020.

[14] Exhibit text panels, Andrews’ Room, Marietta Museum of History, Marietta, Georgia.

[15] Ibid

[16] “Grade 1 – Social Studies Georgia Standards of Excellence,” Georgia Standards (Georgia Department of Education, June 9, 2016), https://www.georgiastandards.org/Georgia-Standards/Pages/Social-Studies-Grade-1.aspx.

[17] “Museum History,” Southern Museum (The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, 2020), https://www.southernmuseum.org/about-copy.

[18] Exhibit text panels, the Great Locomotive Chase, the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, Kennesaw, Georgia.

[19] Georgia Historical Commission, Andrews Raid, 1954, Marker, Big Shanty and the Stealing of the General, Kennesaw, Georgia. November 4, 2020.

[20] Nikolas D Kekel, and Joe Head., Joe Head on the Great Locomotive Chase, Personal, October 30, 2020.

[21] David O’Connell, The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz Inspired by Southern History (Charleston: The History Press, 2013).

[22] Exhibit text panels, General History Gallery, Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum, Adairsville, Georgia.

[23] Ibid

[24] Great Locomotive Chase Festival Collection, 1979-2017. SC-G-008, Kennesaw State University Archives, Kennesaw, Georgia.

[25] Ibid

[26] Exhibit text and audio tour, The Great Locomotive Chase, Tunnel Hill Museum, Tunnel Hill, Georgia.

[27] Peter Reid, “The Meaning behind the Tradition of Leaving Coins on Veterans’ Gravestones,” American Military News, March 14, 2017, https://americanmilitarynews.com/2017/03/meaning-behind-tradition-leaving-coins-veterans-gravestones/

[28] While these films have also been influential in the way the GLC has been remembered, there are key differences between them and the sites examined in this piece. The films are designed first and foremost for entertainment and were not created to be accurate representations of the event. The other key difference is that these films are aimed at a national audience and are not reflective of the attitudes in North Georgia. Written accounts of the Chase such as Stealing the General, while more so then the films, are also not as relevant to the memory of the GLC. While these books are aimed at an audience in north Georgia, they lack a wide readership and would not be used to teach children about the Chase. Works accessible to children are important because it is these types of pieces which have the type of lasting impact that is required to sustain the high levels of interest in the GLC.

Bartow’s Early Christmas Heritage

Amidst the Holly and Pine: Memories and the Meaning of Christmas in Bartow County


Matthew Gramling

            When one thinks of the Christmas season a host of memories tend to flood the mind. Usually we are drawn to a nostalgic remembrance of those traditions which have a particularly special place in our hearts. Whether it be memories of sipping eggnog by a warm hearth, decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments, or gathering around the table with friends and family for a sumptuous Christmas dinner—all of these make up the tapestry of how we remember and understand the meaning of Christmas in our respective homes and communities across the ages. Each community often has its own history and traditions when it comes to celebrating Christmas and Cartersville is no exception.

Cartersville Christmas Parade on Main Street

The celebration of Christmas has a long and intriguing history in Bartow County. Among the earliest recorded celebrations of Christmas in the county occurred among the Cherokee at the Moravian Oothcaloga mission station in what is now Gordon County. Since the Moravians were a German Protestant group with roots in Saxony, many of the early Christmas celebrations in Bartow County mirrored the Yuletide traditions of Southern Germany.  The making of Christmas wreaths was a particularly popular tradition of Germanic origin. In 1821, the new mission leader of Springplace—Rev. J.R. Schmidt—wrote to the brothers and sisters of the congregation town of Salem in North Carolina requesting 150 Christmas wreaths be sent to the Springplace and Oothcaloga for the Yuletide season.[1]

He writes, “I almost forgot an important request. It is customary here [illegible]…Christmas Eve for the people [illegible]…are distributed. Now dear Anna Rosel, who made the [wreaths] is not here any more. Perhaps our dear Brother Van Vleck would be so good as to make a request for us in the boarding school. Perhaps the pupils will feel moved and make us about 150 wreaths for here and Oochgelogee. The Savior will bless them for this, and it brings great joy to our dear ones here.”[2]

Christmas was also a deeply religious holiday for the Moravians and their Cherokee converts. It was often marked by a number of sacred devotional activities and worship services.  One such occasion occurred at Oothcaloga in 1825 at the recently completed mission house of John Gambold.[3] Over 100 people, mostly Cherokee, were in attendance to celebrate a complete Moravian Christmas Lovefeast. The lovefeast was a religious social gathering rooted in the ancient Christian Agape celebration and was first celebrated by the Moravians at the Herrnhut estate of Count Zinzendorf in 1727.[4] Hymns were sung to commemorate the birth of Christ, lighted wax tapers were passed out amidst the dimly lit room to ‘represent Christ as the light of the world,’ and at the height of the service sweet buns were distributed by the dieners (or servers) among the congregation.[5] Therefore, a convivial spirit of brotherly love and spiritual devotion permeated the Moravian-Cherokee Christmas’s of Bartow County.

After the Cherokee removal and arduous journey to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma known as the Trail of Tears, the celebration of Christmas in Cartersville took on a different cast. With the dramatic growth of the cotton economy in the Georgia Upcountry during the 1850s, Bartow County saw a considerable increase in the plantation system. A typical plantation Christmas in the backcountry of North Georgia could be an occasion of intense social excitement and activity.[6] With the southern gentry’s admiration for English custom, a plantation Christmas often reflected the great Christmas social gatherings of  the Victorian English elite yet with Longleaf pine and a southern drawl.[7]

Scenes of lavish partying, feasting, playing, and even a morning (fox) hunt could be among the bustle of a plantation Christmas.[8] It was often customary that Christmas would be celebrated at the home of the family patriarch.[9] All members of the family would return to the estate of their fathers and grandfathers and spend up to a week in Christmas revelry. Homes could be filled to as many 20-40 members of the extended family.[10] Those who could not make it were often dearly pined for as is evident from a letter written by “Ma” Thompson to her daughter Caroline Elizabeth Jones of Walnut Grove.

She writes, “[Illegible] Caroline My Dear Child,

Here(?) am I today [illegible] that you and the [illegible] was here to spend Christmas with us as were are all well and in fine spirits as we have had a gayful time [at] the arrival of Thomas and Louisa.[11]

With the Victorian plantation Christmas, we begin to see the establishment of many of the traditions we associate with modern Christmas celebrations in Bartow County. Victorian celebrants sentimentalized the holiday and began to shift its emphasis away from an overtly religious holiday to more of a domestic social festival with religious elements.[12] One begins to see the widespread practice of putting up a Christmas tree, singing carols, going to Christmas balls and dances, and most notably the exchange of gifts.[13]

The growth of the plantation system in Bartow County also meant the increased presence of African slaves as well as slave Christmas traditions.  A typical Christmas celebration among African-American slaves often reflected and intermingled with the activities of their masters while retaining a number of distinctive customs. While slave experience of the holidays could vary widely, most often the Christmas season represented a unique time in the daily lives of slaves. On most plantations in the South, the month of December represented a time in which work slowed to a near standstill.[14]This break in the work routine would often become a social season for slaves.[15] Christmas often meant a reprieve from the grinding toil of plantation labor since most masters did not require their slave to work during the holidays. The length of this respite often coincided with the amount of time it took for the Christmas Yule log to burn, which in some cases took up to a week.[16] Slaves would often take this opportunity to visit friends and kin on other plantations.[17]

Slave celebrations of the winter holidays were frequently filled with various entertainments such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, [feasting] and drinking whiskey.”[18] Slaveholders would often throw elaborate open-air Christmas banquets for the whole plantation.[19] Master and slave would partake of a gastronomical scene “loaded with roasted chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and maybe a wild ox, varieties of vegetables, biscuits, preserves, tarts, and pies.”[20] Drams of whiskey, bowls of eggs, and similar liquorous libations flowed freely throughout the merrymaking.[21]

The richness and relaxed discipline of the holiday often allowed slaves the opportunity to interact in a manner which would be normally prohibitive during the rest of the year.[22] Masters customarily gave their slaves presents in the form of various material goods such as winter clothes, pocket knives, tobacco, coffee, and edible delicacies like Christmas sweets.[23] And for this reason among others, Christmas was often a day when slave weddings took place.[24] These Christmas weddings could frequently be a full formal marriage celebration complete with a ceremony conducted by a minister in the mistress’ parlor and an elaborate wedding banquet.[25]

Christmas could also provide slaves with a certain degree of empowerment and inversion of master-slave roles[26] On Christmas day, the exchange of gifts from master to slave could be accompanied by a peculiar ritual—the catching of Christmas gifts.[27] Children and slaves would often hide in wait for those with the means to provide gifts then spring upon them.[28] Upon ‘capturing’ their intended target they would exclaim ‘Christmas gift’ and refuse to relinquish their captives until they received a present in return.[29] Sometimes these gifts were monetary which over time could transform this ironic annual inversion of power into real power.[30] Some slaves saved enough of their Christmas gifts in money to purchase their freedom.[31]

The holidays did not always mean an interlude of freedom from the toil and control of plantation life. For some slaves, Christmas provided the perfect opportunity for them to escape their bondage permanently.[32] With slow work schedules, the relaxed discipline of the holiday, and slaveholders off visiting kin, slaves would avail themselves of the chance to obtain their liberty.[33] As I stated earlier, it was customary for slaveholders to allow slaves to travel to visit family and friends on other plantations. Slaveholders would frequently provide slaves permission to travel via a written travel pass.[34] This practice provided slaves with an indubitable pretext upon which they could travel without being suspected of attempting escape. If questioned, an escaping slave merely had to present their travel pass and explain they were on their way to visit family.[35] Such an explanation would usually satisfy most inquirers who would then allow the slave to continue on their clandestine journey to freedom.

If physical freedom could not be obtained during the holidays, Christmas often provided slaves with an expectant hope, enduring perseverance, and sense of spiritual freedom through reflecting upon the gospel stories of the nativity and life of Christ.[36] African-American Christianity provided slaves with a reservoir of symbols and meaning from which they could draw to provide them with the strength to survive their captivity. And the Christmas holiday often bolstered this reservoir by providing a rejuvenating wellspring of sacred images and memories. At Christmas, slaves could often find solidarity and solace in the nativity narratives of Jesus lowly birth in a manager, his life as the suffering Messiah, and triumph as the resurrected Savior of the world.[37]

The events of the Civil War had considerable effects upon how the people of Bartow County would celebrate Christmas. The forms of Christmas traditions remained unchanged, but the onset of the war brought about a somber seriousness to usually jubilant merrymaking of the holiday. The privations of wartime and the constant flux of morale sapped the joy out of many a families’ Christmas in Bartow County and throughout the South. With the destruction wrought by Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea, many Georgians found little to celebrate at Christmas. By the end of the war, many had lost homes, businesses, crops, livestock, and scores of kin. They also suffered hardships from a dearth of food, supplies, and communication.

With the end of the war and the beginnings of Reconstruction, Christmas would gradually reclaim its former glow. And by 1868, Bartow families had returned to celebrating the holiday in its former grandeur. Writing for the Christmas edition of the Cartersville Express, Editor Samuel H. Smith addressed his subscribers with felicitations filled with a Dickensian Christmas charm.

He writes, “Christmas Eve has rolled around with it songs of mirth and its holiday stories and amusements. See at the number of tiny stockings that hang upon the bedposts and doorknob, and around the hearthstone ready to receive the deposit of good things the sage old visitor Santa Claus, is expected to make in his annual round to the young folks at home. Ah! Listen early in the morning as the gleeful shouts that arise from a thousand little tongues, when the contents of these stockings are revealed. But hark! What noise is that heard in an adjoining room? Why that merry laugh, beating and stirring and jingling of glass-ware and spoons? The question is reiterated, why? Let those who can answer! Methinks some one said, “Them’s the old folks drinking egg nogg!” Ah? Yes![38]

By the 1880s and 90s we begin to see Christmas taking on the form of a major commercial holiday in Bartow. Newspapers begin to be filled with advertisements from local businesses announcing their Christmas wares and bidding their patrons Christmas greetings. In the December 20, 1883 issue of the Cartersville Free Press, Harris Best store placed an ad declaring their great deals on Christmas treats and cooking ingredients. Fruits, nuts, cheese, chocolate and other delicacies were available and on sale for the holidays.[39]

Roughly contemporary with the commercialization of Christmas in Bartow, we see a marked growth in Christmas as an occasion for formal religious philanthropy. Churches and religious figures throughout the county would undertake various charitable activities on the holiday.  One popular form of charity was to throw a public Christmas dinner for various members of the community. One charitable Christmas dinner of particular note can be found in the December 23, 1897 issue of the Courant-American wherein an announcement that the Rev. Sam Jones would be throwing a splendid Christmas dinner for the young men of Cartersville.[40] As many 125 young men were said to have accepted the invitation.[41]

With the turn of the century Santa Claus begins to appear as a staple in newspaper Christmas ads in the county. The Calhoun Brothers store posted an aid in the 1907 Christmas issue of the Cartersville News with an illustration of Santa carrying a sack of delicious Christmas goods like hams, turkeys, and cakes.[42]

With the onset of the First World War, Bartow County Christmas celebrations underwent another period of solemnity and relative privation. America’s involvement in WWI first as a provider of war supplies to the Allies and then as an Allied combatant ushered in an era of strict rationing across the nation. It also became common to bolster morale and raise donations for the war effort through patriotic holiday pageants. During the Christmas of 1917, the Bartow Red Cross chapter put on a Christmas pageant in support of local doughboys and to raise funds to provide aid to Allied refugee and wounded soldiers.[43]

During the first decade after the war, Bartow County shared in much of the prosperity that typified the roaring 20s. Yet, this would have an abrupt decline with the stock market crash of 1929. County residents were not deterred by the financial slump and were determined to support economic renewal and traditional Christmas cheer by still going out and doing their local Christmas shopping. For the Christmas season of 1929 The Tribune News reports that holiday buying in Cartersville was in full swing.[44]

With the implementation of the New Deal in 1930s, Bartow County residents’ confidence in the economy would continue to grow and they would continue to exercise that confidence in their Christmas shopping. For the holiday season of 1933, the Stewart Brothers store in Atco posted an ad in the Bartow Herald announcing an assortment of ‘holiday food values.’[45] The ad featured a portly Santa Claus carrying a sack full of Christmas foodstuff and surrounded by prices for everything from turkeys to cranberries.[46] Prices were advertised as low as 10 cents per lb. for a whole Christmas ham. Try getting that kind of deal at Publix today.

With the start of American involvement in WWII in 1941, residents of Bartow once again experienced the restraints of rationing. Despites this, Christmas in the county had been firmly established as a fully commercialized holiday and Christmas shopping continued with fervor. Even though the US entered the war on December 8, Bartow County shoppers would not allow that to put a dent into their holiday buying. For its Christmas Eve issue the Bartow Herald reports that the Yuletide season was in full swing.[47] The issue is full of Christmas ads from local businesses. There is even an ad for old Knights Mercantile wishing their patrons Christmas greetings and encouraging local shoppers to come by and do their Christmas shopping.[48]

Miss Marilu’s Kindergarten Christmas Play

Amidst all this holiday shopping and commerce, Christmas did not totally lose its religious significance in the county. Churches would host Christmas pageants, worship services, and parties throughout the holiday. Sam Jones Methodist Church and First Presbyterian would rehearse dutifully during the weeks leading up to Christmas.[49] Most pageants were held on the Sunday before Christmas or Christmas Eve night.[50] Christmas dances and caroling were often part of local church celebrations of the holiday.[51]

And from the 1940s to about the early 1980s it was customary for the local paper to include a Christmas reflection or lesson by a prominent local pastor in their holiday issues. Among the most regular contributors were pastors of Gilmer Street Baptist Church such as Rev. Smith and Rev. Jesse Wright.[52]

Also, during this time we begin to see the town decorated in ornate Christmas lights. Most notably, every December Main Street becomes illumined with lighted Christmas symbols and the Bethlehem Star is lit on smokestack of Chemical Products Corporation.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Christmas holiday would continue to grow as a commercial and social holiday in Cartersville. The society pages of the local paper would often be filled with reports and gossip about former residents returning home to Cartersville for Christmas.[53] The Christmas dinners and dances of prominent Cartersville families would also be announced to the potential curiosity or envy of the local reader.

Good Year Mill Atco Clubhouse (Men in center: A .C. Parker, F. A. Head, Earl Dyer and Joe Rowland)

The celebrations of civic clubs and organizations were also of local interest during this time.  One particularly amusing revel was the 1966 Kiwanis Club Ladies’ Night Christmas party in which the husbands of members donned hula skirts and other Hawaiian attire in a scene reminiscent of Gilligan’s Island in drag.[54]

Atco Club House

Santa Claus was also a staple of the Christmas holiday in Cartersville throughout the twentieth century. Letters to Santa from children all over the county filled columns of the holiday newspapers. They are replete with children’s addresses to Santa describing their good behavior over the last year and petitions for various Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.[55]Editors would also write addresses to local children about Santa Claus. One particularly quaint piece from the December 23, 1933 issue of the Bartow Herald is entitled “Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus” wherein the author addresses a child assuring her of the existence of Santa and the foolishness of her classmates nay-saying.[56]

Santa Claus would also visit disadvantaged and sick children in various places throughout the county. On Christmas of 1975, Santa Claus visited and passed out presents to a number of sick children and the local hospital.[57]

More recent holiday traditions which have become staples of a modern Bartow Christmas include: the Budweiser Clydesdales at the annual Cartersville Christmas parade, holiday decoration of storefronts around downtown Cartersville such as the Santa display at Young Brothers Pharmacy, and Christmas concerts at the Grand Theatre such the Atlanta Pops holiday concert.

The history of Christmas in Bartow County shimmers like tinsel with the radiant light of Yuletide traditions past and present, representing the folk and folkways of those who have called the county home and celebrated Christmas in it for the last two centuries. These traditions represent the richness and vitality of the holiday season in Bartow County and embody invaluable threads in the tapestry of its unique Christmas heritage. Accordingly, the author would like to wish the readers from across the county a….

Ulihelisdi Unadetiyisgv’i! (Cherokee)

Frohe Weihnachten! (German)

Merry Christmas! (English)

[1] Nancy Smith Thomas, Moravian Christmas in the South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 26.

[2] Thomas, Moravian Christmas in the South, 23.

[3] Edmund Schwarze, History of the Moravian Missions Among Southern Indian Tribes of the United States (Bethlehem: Times  Publishing Company, 1923), 162 .

[4] Thomas, Moravian Christmas in the South, 126 .

[5] Thomas, Moravian Christmas in the South, 126-127 .

[6] Allen Cabaniss, “Christmas,” in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, ed. Charles Reagan Wilson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 4:210.

[7] Penne L. Restad, Christmas in America: A History(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 76.

[8]  Cabaniss, “Christmas,” 210

[9] Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClerq,An Antebellum Plantation Household:Including the South Carolina Low Country Receipts and Remedies of Emily Wharton Sinkler (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996), 35.

[10] LeClerq, An Antebellum Plantation Household, 34.

[11] Ma & Mary Thompson, “2005.36.133: Ma & Mary Thompson to Caroline Elizabeth Jones, (Unknown Year) December 23 ,” Omeka at Auburn, accessed November  14, 2019, https://omeka.lib.auburn.edu/items/show/2081

[12] Cabaniss, “Christmas,” 210.

[13] Cabaniss, “Christmas,” 210.

[14] Cabannis, “Christmas,” 210-11.

[15] Cabannis, “Christmas,” 211.

[16] Cabannis, “Christmas,” 211.

[17] Cabaniss, “Christmas,” 210.

[18] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays,” Documenting the South , accessed November 14, 2019, https://docsouth.unc.edu/highlights/holidays.html.

[19] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[20] Restad, Christmas in America, 82.

[21] Restad, Christmas in America, 82.

[22] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[23] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.” Restad, Christmas in America, 82.

[24] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[25] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[26] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[27] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[28] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[29] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.” Restad, Christmas in America, 80.

[30] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[31] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[32] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[33] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[34] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[35] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[36] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[37] “The Slave Experience of the Holidays.”

[38] Cartersville Express, December 25, 1868.

[39]  Cartersville Free Press, December 20, 1883.

[40]  Cartersville The Courant-American, December 23, 1897.

[41] Cartersville The Courant-American, December 23, 1897.

[42] Cartersville New, December 26, 1907.

[43] Bartow Tribune, December 20, 1917.

[44] The Tribune News, December 19, 1929.

[45] The Bartow Herald, December 21, 1933.

[46] The Bartow Herald, December 21, 1933.

[47] The Bartow Herald-December 24, 1941.

[48] The Bartow Herald, December 24, 1941

[49] The Bartow Herald, December 14, 1933.

[50] The Bartow Herald, December 20, 1945.

[51]  The Bartow Herald, December 20, 1945.

[52] The Bartow Herald, December 22, 1955.

[53] The Bartow Herald, December 20, 1945.

[54] Weekly Tribune News, December 22, 1966.

[55]  The Tribune News, December 19, 1929.

[56]  The Bartow Herald, December 21, 1933.

[57] Herald Tribune, December 25, 1975.

Pox and Pig Iron

A Public Health Crisis in Antebellum Bartow County

By Matthew Gramling

            For three months in the spring of 1849, pestilence and panic gripped antebellum Bartow County. Smallpox had broken out at the Etowah Iron Works and threatened to infect the entire county unless swift action was taken to contain its spread.

News of the outbreak spread rapidly throughout the state triggering a wave of public fear which caused trade and travel  throughout upper Georgia to come to a grinding halt. To meet this growing threat, municipal officials took decisive action by holding public meetings throughout the county in order to enact  effective measures to prevent the disease from spreading to their communities. The sick were quarantined, temporary hospitals were established, weekly infections reports were published, and a vaccination campaign was vigorously promoted among the populace. The 1849 Smallpox Panic represents one of the first public health crises in the history of Bartow County. As such, it provides profound insight into the science and practice of southern medicine in antebellum Bartow and nineteenth-century Georgia generally. Moreover, the Panic provides an invaluable demonstration of the ways in which Bartow County residents have confronted and coped with the outbreak of infectious disease in their communities.

The spring of 1849 marked a dramatic episode in the lives of Cass County denizens[1]. In early March, a  mysterious disease had made its appearance at the Etowah Iron Works and was generating intense public excitement among the citizens of the county. Rumors that the disease was smallpox began to circulate widely among the populace.  One report from an Augusta newspaper stated that 9 cases had already occurred at there.[2] As such, Mark Anthony Cooper–co-proprietor of the Etowah Manufacturing and Mining Company– was faced with a dilemma.

Mark Anthony Cooper

To allow such reports to go unchecked would not only jeopardize the welfare of his workers, but also threaten the health of his business. Cooper responded by writing an open letter to J.W. Burke, editor of the Cassville Standard, disconfirming the rumors that the disease was smallpox.[3] He states that while several of his children had been ill with chickenpox just six weeks prior, he can gladly say that smallpox does not exist at the Iron Works. To corroborate his report, Cooper included the medical opinion of Dr. W.H. Maltbie of Cartersville. Maltbie states that he examined three of the reported cases and of these cases he diagnosed the first as a simple case of Varicella, or chickenpox, and the latter two as being “varioloid in appearance” but lacking the hallmark characteristics of smallpox.[4] He also states he examined several similar cases in Cartersville, which turned out only to be Varicella. Thus, according to Cooper and Maltbie, the Iron Works were smallpox free. Yet, such good news proved too good to be true.  For, later in the same news brief  Burke included a postscript stating that just before going to press the Standard received a communication from a reputable gentleman stating that smallpox was indeed at the Iron Works and that he had heard Dr. Slaughter of Marietta convince Maltbie of his misdiagnosis. Burke closes his postscript by stating that from the sources made available to him the Standard feels compelled to inform the public that they believe it is “genuine small pox.”[5]

Cooper Iron Furnace

While public opinion quickly accepted the news that the disease at the Iron Works was smallpox, Cooper remained incredulous. In a series of letters to Burke published throughout the first two weeks of April, Cooper attempted to cast doubt on the validity of the new diagnosis even going as far to question the medical experience of the examining physicians.[6] He finally relented, albeit begrudgingly,  due to the weight of public sentiment and the fact that cases began to terminate fatally. Even then he only considered it a modified or mild form of smallpox. Persuaded by Cooper’s skepticism, several prominent newspaper editors concurred with his characterization of the disease. Though as the number of cases increased and more patients succumbed to the illness, they ceased to describe it in mild terms. One fatal case deserves particular attention: Mrs. Donahoo, a young pregnant mother who was stricken with smallpox and had to deliver her child with no medical aid. Mrs. Donahoo’s husband was an Iron Works employee and when she went into labor he was suffering heavily under the effects of the disease. No medical assistance could be obtained because of the fear generated by the smallpox panic had made any nurses and physicians reluctant to attend upon patients.[7] Mrs. Donahoo successfully gave birth and appeared to be nursing well and in good health. Yet, within a week she had fallen victim to her illness.

Smallpox was a dreaded and loathsome disease to antebellum Americans. A member of the orthopoxvirus family, smallpox (or Variola) was a highly infectious disease spread through direct physical contact with the sick or through inhaling the airborne saliva droplets of an infected person.[8] An individual infected with smallpox would experience high fever and a “distinctive, progressive skin rash,” which formed pea-sized pitted pustules in the epidermis.[9] These pustules would crust over forming scabs, which would eventually fall off often leaving deep pockmarks in the skin.[10] This could result in permanent disfigurement especially to the face which commonly bore the greatest number of lesions.[11] There was also a significant chance that the infected individual could be left blind from the disease.[12] And in both cases that was if the patient survived. The mortality rate for smallpox was about thirty percent.[13] Thus, it was a source of great public alarm wherever it made an appearance. There are numerous anecdotes of physicians and compassionate gentlemen undertaking the care of smallpox victims being driven forth from communities by terrified and enraged townfolk. One account relates the tragic case of a smallpox-stricken Georgia wagoner, who was obstructed in his way by local residents and forced to take shelter in a barn where he lay neglected and dying without a soul to care for him.[14] He was buried with the same concern as he was shown him in illness: the barn in which he lay dead was torched and burned down upon him by the same local denizens who had driven him thence.[15]

Simultaneous with the Iron Works outbreak, smallpox also made its appearance in Atlanta. A.M. Herring, a Florida merchant on a return trip from New York, had been exhibiting symptoms similar to smallpox when he had checked into the Atlanta Hotel.[16] He was then examined by several physicians who concluded that he had indeed contracted smallpox. News of an occurrence of smallpox in Atlanta compounded the existing alarm in northwest Georgia over the Cass County outbreak and initiated a statewide wave of rumor and panic. Erroneous reports began to circulate that smallpox was simultaneously prevailing in Macon, Augusta, Griffin, Kingston, Auraria,  Marietta, Athens, and Rome, keeping local newspaper editors busy disconfirming such false reports. Some editors had to falsify rumors circulating in newspapers as far away as Montgomery and Boston.[17] In Athens, alleged smallpox reports had generated considerable anxiety and apprehension among Franklin College students and their parents.[18] As a result of this panic, travel and trade throughout the upper portion of the state came to a grinding halt especially along the route of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in northwest Georgia.[19] Smallpox rumors also had profoundly detrimental effects upon a city’s merchants whose businesses suffered greatly because travelers and patrons were apprehensive about visiting the city.[20]

In order to meet the threat of contagion and assuage public excitement, city officials had to act quickly. Preventative measures had to be established and preparations made for the care of the afflicted. With no method of treatment, most medical approaches to combating smallpox focused on preventing its introduction, inhibiting its spread, and providing for the care and comfort of the sick. Typical methods of antebellum smallpox prevention consisted of quarantining patients a safe distance outside of a community, prohibiting contact with infected locales, destruction of infected clothing, and the immediate and careful internment of the dead.[21] State law empowered city councils and county inferior court justices with the authority to establish temporary hospitals for the treatment of the sick, supply patients with the  necessary subsistence and medical care (ie., nurses, etc.), and post a guard to prevent contact with the infected and their attendants.[22]  At the Iron Works, Cooper and his staff attempted to implement such a policy to the best of their abilities. In order to contain the disease and expedite its departure, infected cases and those who had come in contact with them were quarantined.[23] Communion with the sick was also restricted, yet due to the lack of medical staff Cooper had to provide for their care.[24]  In the case of Herring in Atlanta, he was quarantined a mile without the city at a temporary hospital.[25] The city council also passed a series of resolutions to prevent the further spread of the disease as well as took proactive measures in case it should make an appearance.They also commissioned physicians to undertake a vaccination campaign of the populace. Other municipalities throughout the state took similar preventative steps. In Cassville,  local officials held a public meeting in order to enact effective policies for keeping the disease out of the town, preventing contact with infected districts, establishing temporary hospital accommodations, and ardently promoting the vaccination of its citizens.[26]

1856 Cooper’s Etowah Map

Smallpox vaccination had existed since 1796 when the English physician Edward Jenner had discovered that administering the much milder cowpox virus greatly reduced the potency and lethality of smallpox cases if not granting complete immunity to the recipient of the vaccine.[27] Vaccine matter was procured through the collection and processing of scabs, or ‘vaccine crusts,’ from the cowpox pustules of naturally or deliberately infected cows and calves.[28] Such bovine hosts provided the purest and best source for vaccine material.[29] The vaccination procedure consisted of a relatively simple operation whereby particles of vaccine matter were inserted under the skin of the arm through a prick or scratch from a small needle.[30] While usually effective, quality control of vaccine matter could sometimes be problematic.[31] In an age before modern medical storage techniques, vaccine material had a short shelf life. This caused considerable difficulties in the transportation of vaccines especially over long distances. On some occasions vaccine matter would prove entirely ineffective and thus necessitate obtaining fresh material and a readministration of vaccines. Two such occurrences took place in Cass during the panic. During the first few weeks of outbreak at the Iron Works, Mark Anthony Cooper procured a supply of vaccines for the vaccination of Etowah and its environs.[32] Unfortunately, the vaccine matter was apparently of poor quality or had degraded during shipment and thus proved ineffectual.[33] Cooper responded by making a public request to any physician with a fresh supply to send the vaccines to the Iron Works.[34] Similarly, Chief Engineer for the Western & Atlantic Railroad William L. Mitchell vaccinated his employees at the first news of smallpox in Cass County.[35] As the vaccine matter proved useless, a new supply was obtained and readminstered with positive results.[36]

Such occasions sometimes compounded any suspicion or uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of vaccination for smallpox that remained in the public mind.[37] The use of folk remedies and medicines persisted among significant portions of the population of the American South, especially Southern Appalachia.[38] Two particularly popular folk medicines used during the smallpox panic were asafetida and pine tar.[39] Asafetida was a gum or resin made from the roots of several Near Eastern plants and sold in small bags to be worn around the neck or fill the pockets of one’s garments.[40] These Asafetida bags were used as noxious, aromatic charms which were believed to ward off disease especially during the winter months.[41] The logic being that the fetid smell would keep away illness.[42] Pine tar was believed to work similarly but was smeared directly on the nose.[43] It also possessed mild antiseptic qualities.[44]  Both of these folk remedies had their basis in a widely held medical belief of the time known as the miasma theory, which attributed the spread of disease due to the presence of poisonous vapors, or miasmas, caused by decomposing matter and which infected the air around a community.[45] Contemporaneous with miasma theory was the rival contagion theory, which posited that instead of illness-inducing “noxious, contaminated air” disease was caused by an infectious agent usually transmitted by direct personal contact.[46] While miasma theory was predominant throughout much of the antebellum era, by the mid-nineteenth century it was gradually being eclipsed by contagion theory. This competition and transition between two theories of disease is evident in the smallpox panic, especially at the Iron Works. In his open letters on the state of the outbreak at the Etowah Furnace, Cooper had to address speculation regarding the introduction of smallpox into the community. Rumors circulated throughout the first two weeks of the outbreak that the disease had been brought to the Iron Works by a northern or western man.[47] Cooper dismissed these reports stating, “The disease here must be of atmospheric origin, and could not have come by contagion.”[48] His dismissal of contagion and positing of “atmospheric origin” of the disease demonstrates that Cooper interpreted the opening events of the outbreak through the lens of miasma theory.Yet within a week as evidence mounted that smallpox was indeed at the Works, Cooper abandoned his miasma hypothesis and began a diligent search for the source of the contagion.[49] While the search proved fruitless it demonstrates that the events of the outbreak convinced Cooper of the credibility of contagion theory.[50]

While some elements of the population were reticent regarding the effectiveness of vaccination in smallpox prevention, many found the evidence to be conclusively in its favor. Physicians, politicians, and editors weighed heavily on the side of vaccination and encouraged the public to be vaccinated.[51] Vaccination of infected districts was even a part of official state policy in Georgia. State law mandated that the Governor was to store vaccine matter at various convenient locations throughout Georgia as well as furnish it “to the people gratis.[52] Thus,  towns and cities across the state undertook initiatives to vaccinate their residents (both black and white) free of charge.[53] During the smallpox panic, demand for vaccine matter was so high that it actually exceeded the state’s ability to effectively supply it.[54] Dr. Tomlinson Fort, one of the leading medical lights of antebellum Georgia, issued a notice in the newspapers stating that the high volume of applications for vaccine material had outstripped the state’s supply and recommended that anyone one who desired to obtain vaccine supplies should procure them from Jennerian Vaccine Institution of Maryland, “from which genuine vaccine crusts may be obtained by mail at $1 each.”[55]

In addition to promoting vaccination, boards of health were appointed by county inferior courts throughout the state to confront the smallpox threat. These, in turn, published weekly reports providing statistics regarding rates of infection, recovery, and death. In Cass County, the inferior court established a board of health chaired by Cooper himself. Weekly reports demonstrated a considerable infection rate throughout the month of April with 10-20 new cases occurring at the Iron Works every week. By the time the spread of the disease had been arrested in early May there had been 110 total cases with the five deaths at the Iron Works and three cases in Cartersville. On May 18th, the Board published its final report with the physicians of the Board giving the county a clean bill of health.[56] The concerted quarantine and vaccination efforts of the citizens of Cass and their leaders had yielded full fruition, smallpox had disappeared from the county. Shortly after, news surfaced that Atlanta was smallpox free and by the beginning of June it could be stated that the disease was present nowhere in the state. The scourge had finally run its course and for the time being the people of Cass County and upper Georgia needed not fear the ‘speckled monster.’ By the end of the summer, life had returned to a state of normalcy and merchants looked hopefully upon the prospects of good business in fall.[57] Yet, the effects of the panic were still deeply felt by some in Cass. In his annual address before a biennial session of the Georgia General Assembly in November, Governor George W. Towns brought to the attention of the legislature the great expenditure, public anxiety, and destruction to business which a portion of the citizens of Cass County had suffered during the attack of smallpox on their communities.[58] He also reminds them of the precedence set by previous legislatures in providing for the relief of such afflicted counties from the state treasury. [59] From the record it appears that due to political considerations no relief was provided.

The Cass County Smallpox Panic of 1849 represents one of the most dramatic and affecting episodes in the history of public health in Bartow County. It provides a superb window into the history of medicine in antebellum Georgia and a profound demonstration of the way Cass county citizens responded to the threat of deadly contagion in their midst. During Reconstruction, county officials would establish a central quarantine and treatment facility at the Bartow County Poor Farm at what is today known as Hickory Log Personal Care Home. Smallpox cases would often be transferred to the Poor Farm where a smallpox hospital would be established for the duration of the patients’ illnesses.[60] This hospital would often be set up in one of the poor farm buildings or a special triage and quarantine tent. Nurses and physicians would be hired to care for the smallpox patients and be paid from the county treasury.[61]   During the current COVID19 health crisis, pondering the history of past health crises can provide Bartow residents with a moment of pause and inspiration in reflecting upon the ways in which our forebearers suffered, coped, and persevered in the face of lethal contagion.

Pauper Farm

[1] Before 1861, Bartow went by the name of Cass County for former Secretary of War Lewis Cass. To learn more about this name change checkout the article Patriotism and Place at the Bartow Authors Corner page on the EVHS website: https://evhsonline.org/bartow-authors-corner

[2] Augusta Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, March 26,1849.

[3] Augusta Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, March 31, 1849. J.W. Burke was the proprietor and founding editor of Cassville Standard, which commenced publication on March 15, 1849.

[4] Augusta Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, March 31, 1849.

[5] Augusta Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, March 31, 1849.

[6] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 6, 1849.

[7] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 6, 1849.

[8] “Transmission,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 5, 2016), https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/clinicians/transmission.html.

[9] “What Is Smallpox?,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 7, 2016), https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/about/index.html.

[10] Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Assessment of Future Scientific Needs for Live Variola Virus, “Clinical Features of Smallpox,” Assessment of Future Scientific Needs for Live Variola Virus. (U.S. National Library of Medicine, January 1, 1999), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230904/.

[11] Institute of Medicine (US), “Clinical Features of Smallpox.”

[12] Institute of Medicine (US), “Clinical Features of Smallpox.”

[13] Bindu Tharian, “Smallpox,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed October 2, 2020, https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/science-medicine/smallpox.

[14] Tomlinson Fort, A Dissertation on the Practice of Medicine: Containing an Account of the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Diseases, and Adapted to the Use of Physicians and Families (Milledgeville, GA: Printed at the Federal Union Office, 1849), 164.

[15]Fort, A Dissertation on the Practice of Medicine, 164.

[16] Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, April 05, 1849.

[17] .Richards’ Weekly Gazette, May 5, 1849. Augusta Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, May 11, 1849

[18] Southern Banner, May 17, 1849.

[19] Chief Engineer’s Report, Western and Atlantic Railroad, 1849. Officers’ Annual Reports, Western and Atlantic Railroad, RG 18-2-72, Georgia Archives.

[20] Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, May 7, 1849. Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, May 20, 1849.

[21] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  April 25, 1849.

[22] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  April 25, 1849.

[23]Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 15, 1849.

[24]Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 15, 1849.

[25]Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, May 5, 1849. Herring would later expire from his illness, but not before infecting his attendants: two whites and 3 blacks.

[26] Southern Literary Gazette, April 21, 1849.

[27] John E. Murray, The Charleston Orphan House: Children’s Lives in the First Public Orphanage in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 116. Mary Hilpertshauer, Personal communication to the author, 0ctober 2,2020. The discovery of the smallpox vaccine by Edward Jenner represents the development of the world’s first vaccine. As such, Jenner is appropriately considered the ‘father of immunology.’ I would like to thank Mary Hilpertshauer- Historical Collections Manager at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum- for her vital expertise and assistance throughout the research process of this article. 

[28] Terry Reimer, “Smallpox and Vaccination in the Civil War,” September 19, 2017, https://www.civilwarmed.org/surgeons-call/small_pox/. Mary Hilpertshauer, Personal communication to the author, 0ctober 2,2020.

[29] Reimer, “Smallpox and Vaccination in the Civil War.”

[30]Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, April 03, 1849.   Mary Hilpertshauer, Personal communication to the author, 0ctober 2,2020.

[31] Mary Hilpertshauer, Personal communication to the author, September 8, 2020.

[32] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  April 15, 1849

[33] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  April 15, 1849

[34]  Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  April 15, 1849

[35] Chief Engineer’s Report, Western and Atlantic Railroad, 1849, 2.

[36] Chief Engineer’s Report, Western and Atlantic Railroad, 1849, 2.

[37] Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, April 03, 1849.

[38] Anthony P. Cavender, Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 71.

[39]  Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, May 7, 1849.

[40] “Asafetida Bags,” Asafetida Bags | North Carolina Ghosts, accessed October 18, 2020, https://northcarolinaghosts.com/folk-magic/asafetida-bags/.  “Asafetida,” Ozark Healing Traditions, accessed October 19, 2020, https://www.ozarkhealing.com/asafetida.html. Cavender, Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia, 71.

[41] “Asafetida Bags.”

[42] “Asafetida.”

[43]  Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, April 03, 1849.

[44] Wayne Bethard, Lotions, Potions, and Deadly Elixirs: Frontier Medicine in the American West (Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2013), 9.

[45] Lois N. Magner, A History of Medicine (New York: M. Dekker, 1992), 259.

[46] Magner, A History of Medicine, 305. Contagion theory would provide the basis from which modern germ theory would eventually develop.

[47] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 6, 1849.

[48] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 6, 1849.

[49] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 6, 1849.

[50] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 6, 1849.

[51] Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, April 03, 1849.

[52] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  April 25, 1849.

[53] The Southern Whig, May 03, 1849.

[54]  Georgia Journal and Messenger, May 02, 1849. Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, April 3, 1849.Southern Recorder, April 10, 1849. The Savannah Georgian, April 07, 1849.

[55] Georgia Journal and Messenger, May 02, 1849.

[56] Augusta Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, May 18, 1849.

[57] Augusta Daily Constitutionalist,  May 23, 1849

[58]Journal of the Senate of the State of Georgia at a Biennial Session of the General Assembly, 1849/1850 (Milledgeville: Richard M. Orme, State Printer, 1849), 32.

[59] Journal of the Senate of the State of Georgia, 32.

[60] Head, Joe, and Michelle Haney. “Hickory Log School (Former County Poor Farm Property Legacy).” Etowah Valley Historical Society. Accessed October 7, 2020. https://evhsonline.org/hickory-log-school-former-county-poor-farm-property. “Pauper Farm Records.” Accessed October 7, 2020. https://gabartow.org/Pauper/pauper.Records.shtml.

[61] “Pauper Farm Records.” Accessed October 7, 2020. https://gabartow.org/Pauper/pauper.Records.shtml.

Native American Cave Burials

By Joel Sneed

Bringing to Light Early Burials in Bartow County

Salt Peter Cave Entrance – Photo by Linda Pye

Evidence of Native American usage has been found in twelve Bartow County caves or in the area immediately adjacent to the cave entrance.  Artifacts dating from the Archaic to the late Mississippian demonstrate that Native Americans have consistently made use of the caves in this area throughout their history.

Perhaps the most common use made by the Native Americans here was for shelter, whether semi-permanent or only temporary, as during hunting trips.  None of the caves were conducive to long-term habitation, but the entrance areas of a few, most notably Kingston Saltpeter Cave, Raines’ Cave, Yarbrough Cave, and Jolley Cave, would have provided shelter. In all of these caves projectile points or flakes have been found.

The most intriguing use of caves by the Native Americans and potentially the most significant was their use as mortuaries. According to Walthall and DeJarnette (1974), “…a complex of burial caves exists, or existed, in northwestern Georgia in and around Bartow County.” However, destruction of caves, looting, and improperly documented work by researchers has caused much of the scientific value of the caves to be diminished.

Of the thirty-eight known caves in Bartow County six contain or contained Native American burials. Following is a discussion of these burial caves.

Bradford Cave

Ten years ago Mr. Henson was rabbit hunting on a creek that runs through Mr. Tom McHugh’s land. The rabbit disappeared through a small hole, which evidently opened into a cave. The hole was large enough for a small hound to pass through, but barely. Mr. Henson realized that the hound was in a cave by the sound of his barking. The incident was entirely forgotten until three years ago. Then Mr. Monk Henson and Mr. John Quintin were passing that way, remembering the hole, examined the place. They found that an opening to the cave had been sealed up with rocks, very cunningly and carefully laid. It was only by pulling at them that they found that this was the work of men. And they were able to pull all the rock out and leave a round hole about four feet in diameter. The chamber within was about ten by eight feet, but was practically filled with topsoil. And Mr. Henson pulled a bone out of it, which proved to be the thighbone of a man.

This was the beginning of a mad rush to the cave, a search with picks and shovels for gold. Numerous skeletons were found, beads, copper earrings, and copper breast plates, a four legged clay pot, and many other things were found (Harris, 1950).

So read a description, written in 1934, of the discovery and looting of the cave now listed in the files of the Georgia Speleological Society as Bradford Cave, GSS 177. Known variously as Pine Indian Cave (Harris, 1950) and Pine Log Cave (Walthall and DeJarnette, 1974; Walthall, 1980), the cave is officially listed with the State Archaeologist as Corra Harris Cave and designated as archaeological site number 9BR199 (formerly BR154). The Pine Log name is due to its location near the present community of Pine Log, and the former Cherokee settlement known as Pine Log Town, both of which took their names from Pine Log Creek and its tributary, Little Pine Log Creek, which flows through the area.

Bradford Cave is formed in a small isolated knob of Cambrian age dolomite of the Rome Formation, at the easternmost extremity of carbonate rocks in Bartow County. The cave consists of one small room, 24’ by 15’, and a narrow 14-foot long crawlway. After stooping to enter the cave through the 3’ high by 5’ wide entrance, one can almost stand upright, but due only to much clay fill having been removed by the vandals. Secondary deposition is lacking, and the cave is of no significance except for the archaeological record it once contained. Cressler (1997) has written that he found a tooth from there that was identified as tapir, and the tooth was subsequently turned over to this writer, but a careful search of the cave and excavated earth has revealed nothing in the way of any further Pleistocene-age remains. Several animal bones and teeth recovered represent opossum, snake, turtle, various rodents, and rabbit, all probably Holocene.

When Mrs. Corra Harris, a novelist living in the Pine Log community, heard of the cave and of the finds there, she realized that the site was of important cultural significance, and she sought to protect it. Simultaneous with her learning of the discovery, Dr. Warren K. Moorhead, an archaeologist from Massachusetts who was conducting exploratory work at the Etowah Indian Mounds only a few miles away in Cartersville, also heard of it. He could have possibly given much-needed professional advice, except that Harris eyed him with suspicion; in her words Dr. Moorehead was “ravaging the Indian Mounds of Georgia”. Since he was reportedly on his way to investigate the cave site, she persuaded Mr. McHugh, the cave’s owner, to reseal the entrance with cement and rock. This was accomplished the day before Dr. Moorehead arrived, and he was thus denied entry (Harris, 1950). It is not known whether he was allowed to examine any of the human remains discarded in the ravine outside the cave, or if any of the artifacts that had been removed were ever made available to him for study. Likely, he was too engrossed with the work at the Mounds to be very concerned with this site.

It became the ardent desire of Ms. Harris and two or three others in the area both to recover and preserve the artifacts that had been looted from the cave, and to have the site investigated professionally. Initially, Emory University, in the person of one Dr. Con, took a six-month option to do so, but never raised the necessary funds. Harris noted that it was the wish of her and others that all items from the cave be assembled in one collection to be known as the Pine Log Indian Relics, or something similar; that the collection be curated at the State Capitol or somewhere in Bartow County; and that the cave be protected until it could be properly studied. Her death early the following year, however, seemingly brought an end to the efforts to preserve what remained of this important cave burial site. It is not certain exactly when, but at some time after her writing the cave was reopened and excavation was undertaken in the smaller passage. This area, which also contained Native American remains and artifacts, had been left untouched during the initial looting due to bad air, and a large stone had blocked access to that passage (Harris, 1950).

Harris acquired some of the artifacts that had been looted from the main chamber, by gift and purchase. One such purchase was a ceramic pot, sold to her by Everett Henson (Paul Nally, personal communication, 2001). In 1950 her heirs presented the collection to the University of Georgia’s Department of Archaeology, and they were put on exhibit that year in the Georgia Museum of Art at the University. The artifacts, referred to as the Corra Harris Collection, were later described as follows: two copper reels; two bi-cymbal copper ear spools; a dozen or more rolled copper beads, short cylindrical and ball types; a half dozen or more large garnets; scattered pieces of sheet mica; a galena cube; fragments of graphite and ocher; several two-holed quartzitic or steatite bar gorgets; and a small pottery vessel, a plain, grit-tempered bowl with tetrapod supports (Kelly, 1950). Other artifacts taken from the cave by locals in the 1930s, and which can no longer be accounted for, include “several buckets of arrowheads” collected by Weldon Roberts, and a large piece of skull removed by Willis and Hugh Bradford (Paul Nally, personal communication, 2001). It has been reported that Pine Log residents at the time of the collecting frenzy in the 1930s took buckets of dirt from the cave and sifted it in their quest for artifacts (Jodie Hill, personal communication, March 21, 2001).

In 1951, perhaps enticed by the assemblage of artifacts from the cave and by the 1934 article written by Harris, which he published the previous year as editor of Early Georgia, Dr. A.R. Kelly, head of the Department of Archaeology at UGA, conducted a summer field school in archaeology in Bartow County. Marilyn Pennington, at the time employed by the State of Georgia, interviewed Dr. Kelly in 1973 concerning his long career in archaeology in Georgia; from the early ‘30s through the mid-‘70s, Kelly had been involved in most archaeological work in the state. In the interview, Kelly spoke a little about that summer in Bartow County:

The summer was spent in exploring caves with their special sealed entrances, and Margaret [Margaret Clayton Russell] was with me on that deal. And these pothunters had…were going into these sealed caves and finding pottery and one hole and two hole bar gorgets and things like that, nothing very lavish, but from the information I got it must be something tied up with, oh, the sort of things that Webb [William Webb] was getting with his Copena culture. So they were going in these caves and trying to find some that hadn’t been opened….

(The caves were) very artfully sealed with special stones, which were arranged in there in a very natural manner, so if you walked along you would never suspect anything. The first one was discovered about the time I came to Georgia, ’47, ’45 along there [actually, in 1931]… so, we went to Pine Log and we were doing this Pine Log work, that’s the reason we went there. We went back into this cave and all the cave was dome shaped and about 20 by 30. We found a few more burials back in the narrow shelving part of the cave where it pinched out. No one could get there. I had one little girl named Mary Kellogg who was a graduate at Michigan, who was my technician. She was about 95 pounds and about 5 feet. She could get back there and just reach in and pull these bones out. She found some more copper beads. Well, this whole setup was evidently some sort of special sealed in burial, cave burial with burials and associations, which are very much like the sort of thing that Webb got up in Kentucky on the TVA and his Copena sand mounds. Only he had little clay sealed burials with similar copper and lead objects, that’s where Copena comes in, galena ore. Here in north Georgia, it seems instead of having sand mounds, you got sealed in burial caves. Then I had this whole season, we had explored every cave that was recorded, and I was trying to get a clue as to every one had been entered ahead of us.”   

Even though Dr. Kelly told the owner of this cave that his party had made no additional finds (Tramell Bradford, personal communication, 1984), an unpublished report written by Dr. Kelly at the time proves otherwise, as he describes two burials that they found on a narrow shelf along one side of the room:

These comprised one adult and one child, secondary interments, small bundles laid on the shelf and covered with not more than six inches of red cave earth. The burial associations were meager; perforated bear tooth and a few more copper rolled beads, similar to those found by the gold hunters and by Mrs. Corra  Harris.

He further stated that, among the excavated earth from the earlier looting, he recovered a half-dozen pottery sherds; one unstemmed, concave point of “copena” type; and bone fragments to include one long bone. Kelly states that the summer field camp added but little to the previous finds from Bradford Cave.

Despite the heroic attempts of Corra Harris and the others to preserve a collection of artifacts from the site, very little remains. With the assistance of Dr. David J. Hally at UGA in 1985, only a few items from the cave could be located there. These included seven copper beads, two shell beads, three projectile points, and one bear tooth pendant with drilled holes. Two index cards recorded finds from the cave. One, dated 07/07/51 and showing the aforementioned Mary Kellogg as the collector, listed two teeth and a bone of Middle Woodland age. The other, which also is from July 1951, shows Kelly as the collector and lists five bones, two teeth, one bear tooth pendant, eight copper beads, and nine pottery sherds.

A total of 582 artifacts from the cave are noted in Kellogg’s field notes, yet so little remains at UGA.  Nowhere to be found were any of the important copper or stone relics or other burial furniture assembled by Harris, or the remains from the two burials that Kelly uncovered in 1951. Likewise, a pottery tetrapod collected in the cave by Joseph R. Caldwell (Kelly, 1952), who was a Smithsonian archaeologist working on the Allatoona Basin survey in 1946, has not been accounted for.

From what Kelly learned with interviews with local residents having direct knowledge of the looting of the cave, some forty individuals, representing all ages, were buried in the cave, laid in levels or tiers, over a period of time to a depth of three feet. These had been communal burials but not a mass inhumation (Kelly, 1952). Projectile points recovered by Kelly and others range in date from the Middle Archaic to the Mississippian, while ceramics seem to range from the Middle Woodland to Late Mississippian.

When Carole Sneed and this writer visited Bradford Cave in 1984 we salvaged some two dozen bone fragments – one arm bone of a child which exhibited signs of the child having had a disease – and three pieces of skull, the largest measuring 3” x 4-1/2”. Also recovered at that time was an antler section, probably used as a tool; a couple of small, cut mica sheets; a marine shell bead; and a few shell fragments. Later visits by Larry Blair and me and more recently by Alan Cressler produced a few more scattered remains. In the spoil pile immediately outside of the entrance, excavations in 2004 by this writer, Sharon Sneed, and Paul Nally, relative of the property owner, have unearthed teeth, bone and fragments of bone, some of the last remaining testifiers of the former necropolis wiped out by a combination of the 1930s looters and the work of Dr. Kelly in 1951.

All human remains removed by this writer have been re-interred in the cave. A date of 2150 +/- 30 ybp (years before the present) has been obtained by radiocarbon (AMS) dating on bone collagen recovered.

Little Beaver Cave

Little Beaver Cave is the most important of the Bartow County caves from an archaeological standpoint because it is in this cave that an undisturbed Native American burial was discovered. While burials had also been found in several other caves around the county, persons that found them were intent on robbing them of any burial goods, and the archaeological record was thus destroyed. This cave, though, was located by the author, and professional archaeologists were immediately brought in to conduct a proper investigation. The story of how the find was made and how the excavation proceeded was related in an article I wrote for a caving publication in 1986:

This past spring, while returning from north Georgia, I decided to leave the expressway and follow US 41 through Bartow County. Passing through one area of the Knox Dolomite that I had not previously checked for caves, I inquired at a house about the possibility of any caves in the area, and was directed to one a couple of miles to the east. I was told that many years ago people would canoe up into the entrance, and that the cave went all the way to the cave under the funeral home in Adairsville [Barton Cave]. Proceeding in the direction of the cave, I checked out several exposures of the dolomite, turning up nothing, but again inquired at another house and was shown the location of the entrance by the owner of the cave. He told me that in the late 1800s the entrance was larger than it is now, having been collapsed since then, and that no one ever enters the cave anymore. In the late 1960s his son dug open a crack about a hundred feet above the entrance, gaining access to the cave, and apparently made only one trip into the cave, being stopped by the water. This entrance appeared to be somewhat climbable, but, not having any equipment with me at the time, I chose to wait until another day to check it out.

On April 19th Carole [Carole Sneed] and I returned to the cave. We rigged a rope and rappelled in the 19’ drop, which put us in a small room decorated with formations long-since dead. We proceeded down a steep slope through a squeeze into a sloping room, which ended at the water’s edge. Many small logs were along the edge of the water as well as submerged in the two to three foot deep water. We found evidence of beavers and then spotted a baby beaver along the edge. Trying not to disturb him, I crawled into the water, checking for a lead, but found a total sump.

While crawling in the water on hands and knees, I spotted a tooth in the water near the bank. It was apparently human, and upon checking further I came up with another. About this time Carole had been closely examining the room, and had begun to find pieces of pottery, some of which had a stamped design. One find lead to another, and suddenly Carole came upon a larger object. As we proceeded to remove the sticky mud from around it, we began to uncover human remains, first a skull, and then leg bones and vertebrae. Realizing that we had discovered a burial, possibly another Copena site, we chose to take with us the finds that we had uncovered, after mapping their locations, and to leave the burial as-is until we could get a professional archaeologist involved.

We mapped the cave, and, upon exiting, we talked with the owner about our find, requesting that he not let others in the cave or talk about the discovery. He was interested in learning more about the burial, but stated his requirement that any excavation be performed by professionals, be limited in scope, and that following study all items removed would be reinterred in the cave.

A few days later I had the opportunity to talk with a lady that had lived on the property many years before. Her father had grown watercress in the flooded area in front of the cave, in the water that emerges from the cave, and sold it to large hotels in the North. Her father used to canoe into the entrance area of the cave, [around 1895, she postulated] which at that time had a very large arch type entrance. She said that an earthquake early in this century brought the rock arch down, nearly closing off the cave.

We next contacted Dr. Pat Watson at Washington University about our find, and she suggested we get Dr. P. Willey from the University of Tennessee involved in the excavation. We had known “P” from our work at Signal Light Pit [Tennessee], and he was very interested in the find. On June 28th he and Master’s candidate George Crothers met us in Adairsville, and we proceeded to the cave. We spent the entire day at the dig, removing and mapping the remains, and determined that we had at least three individuals, two adults and one child. No burial goods were found except for one item that appeared to be an atlatl (spear thrower) weight. At this time I also completed my map of the dry portion of the cave. P determined that it would be best to leave the completion of the dig for another weekend, so we covered over the site and departed.

Karl Sneed and I returned to the cave the following Wednesday, July 2nd, to complete the mapping. We surveyed overland from the upper entrance down to the water entrance, and then proceeded into the wet portion of the cave. We ran the survey as far as we could before the cave sumped, finding, upon plotting the map, that the sump is only about fifteen feet long. With the passage being so cluttered with logs, a free dive through there could be hazardous.

Now that we had a confirmed archaeological site, I completed a site registration form and sent it to the Archaeology Department at the University of Georgia. The site has now been officially registered as Archaeological Site Number 9 BR 238.

Our next trip to the site was on August 14th. P and George again came down, we were joined by Jim Greenway from the University of Georgia, and we continued our dig, uncovering many more bones, and our third skull. No burial goods were found, but we did unearth several more pottery sherds along the sloping room. These sherds include steatite and clay pottery, and have designs that are simple, corded, and complex. Also, one human hand bone was found in an alcove on the opposite side of the room from the dig. We spent ten hours in the cave, but were unable to complete the excavation, so it was decided to return the next day and either complete the dig or complete an excavation of one meter square, whichever came first.

After Carole had gone to Kingston Saltpeter Cave with Mick Harvey, a Tennessee bat expert, she joined P and George at the dig, where they had been continuing the work of the day before. A fourth skull was found, but, due to the jumble of bones encountered, it became obvious late in the evening that an end to the excavation would not be attained that day. The dig has now been closed for a few weeks until P can return.

The “few weeks” turned into months, and it was June 27, 1987 when we finally returned to the site to continue – and complete – our work there. On this trip Sherri Turner joined P, George, Carole and me in the work. P and I conducted a site survey for three hours while the others continued the excavation in the cave. On the surface – on the hill above the cave and along the creek for about a quarter mile – we found many flint flakes, a couple of point midsections, one complete Copena point, and several historical items. In the cave on this trip we completed our one-meter-square test pit and finally, in the early evening, closed down the excavation. We had found more articulated bones, bear teeth, an unidentified animal canine, and several human teeth, some exhibiting wear grooves.  

Dr. Willey and George Crothers excavating human remains in Little Beaver Cave

The human material that was excavated was taken to the Human Osteology Laboratory at the University of Tennessee, where it was washed, reconstructed and inventoried. A synopsis of the study of the archeological material from Little Beaver Cave was presented at the annual Convention of the National Speleological Society in 1989. Following a description by this author of the site and an introduction to the study, George Crothers discussed the human context of the cave; Dr. P Willey described the excavated human remains that had been recovered and their significance; and Carole A. Sneed gave a report on the pottery found in the cave.

Since the small, vertical entrance was dug open in the 1960s, it is evident that the Native Americans had entered the cave through the stream entrance. At that time the entrance was rather large and they would have waded in a shallow stream into the room where the burials were placed. Represented in the remains of at least seven humans recovered from the one-meter square are both male and female, with ages ranging from infant, two children (3-4 years and 6-8 years), and adult; no adolescents were found. Some of the remains had been cremated, most certainly before interment in the cave, yet articulation of many of the bones indicates a primary burial, not dismembered or decomposed aboveground before burial in the cave. One of the two adult skulls unearthed showed a pronounced cradleboard flattening, a childrearing practice. With the burial having been made in the sloping floor of the room, erosion began to expose some of the bones and wash smaller items out of the deposit, eventually into the stream where the first of the teeth was found, and exposing bones to weathering and to rodent chewing.

Among the non-bone elements recovered from the cave were the atlatl weight previously mentioned, a few flaked chert pieces, and several pottery sherds, including pieces from rims, shoulder, and neck of ceramic containers. In her report presented at the 1989 Convention, Carole Sneed described and showed detail attesting to the ceramics being from the Early Mississippian Period, approximately A.D. 900 – 1200, specifically Woodstock complicated stamp and plain ware. Only one piece of pottery was cord marked, the predominate pattern of decoration being rectilinear in the form of vertical diamonds filled with horizontal lines. Among preceramics, the soapstone vessel fragments do not show any pronounced decoration nor indicate any specific time period.

Ammons’ Cave

Ammons’ Cave is typical of the small caves of Bartow County that hold a great value from a scientific standpoint, in this case one of the suites of burial caves. During the mapping of Ammons Cave, also incorrectly listed as Almond Cave, several small bones and bone fragments were recovered from the cave. Bones of a bird, rabbit, opossum, and a possible peccary toe were among the finds, but some of the material appeared to be human. On a later trip while searching for more human remains a few additional items were located, as well as the place where apparently one or more bodies had been interred. These remains were taken to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, where they were studied by Elayne Pope. In her report, wherein she describes the material and measurements of the various elements, she has noted that represented are both adults and sub-adults. Upon return of the bones to me, I reinterred them back in the cave.

The bones we found were evidently a very small part of a sizeable burial that at one time had been in the cave, for in 1916 remains of some eighteen individuals had been unearthed by the cave’s owner, Mr. Ammons, as the following Bartow County newspaper account describes:

The cave has been known for years and for a long time has been visited by people; in fact, it was the hiding place for valuables of the country people who had valuables to secret during the civil war (sic).

There is one large room with solid rock ceiling. In the rear was a small opening just large enough for a man to crawl through.

Mr. Frank Ammons decided for the accommodation of the public he would enlarge this opening so one could walk through it instead of crawl. He was engaged in this task when he found the skull. He gave the alarm and soon enough bones were gotten together to make 18 skeletons, all apparently adults.

These bones…are now at Mr. Ammons barn. There did not seem to be any special system observed in their burial, but seemed to have been thrown in promiscuously. Two round objects were found that are about the size of large buttons with one hole in the center, also an arrow head made of flint rock, a lower jaw bone of some animal supposed to be that of a bear with one tooth that was also recovered. The bone has the appearance of having been cut with some kind of instrument.

In a telephone interview I conducted in 2001 with Mr. Dan Bowdoin, the grandson of the writer of the 1916 article, I learned that the bones had at some point been taken to Dr. Dick Bradley, in the town of Folsom. Dr. Bradley averred that the bones were, indeed, human, but he was unable to identify their race or from what period of time they lived. Dan Bowdoin, who coincidently had been delivered by Dr. Bradley, stated that his grandfather told him that the bones had been re-buried, not in the cave but in the nearby Hayes Cemetery. After talking with cemetery trustees and doing a bit of detective work, I feel that I have located the grave where the bones found their final resting place, marked with a nondescript stone.

Gin Raines Cave

Little Pine Log Creek flows northward through pastoral lands only a short distance west of the former Cherokee village of Pine Log Town. Several caves are found in the small hills along the route of the creek, but only one has yielded any evidence of the native residents of the area. Gin Raines Cave, not much more than a rock shelter, trends N52W for 80 feet.  At the northern terminus, a small cave some fifteen feet in length is accessible. Continuing along the ridge beyond this feature is another small cave, Raines No. 2, six feet wide at the mouth, 25 feet in length, and trending N6E into the hillside. These caves are about six feet above the normal creek bed and flood intermittently. A few gastropods and scattered bones of a cow-sized animal were recovered from the caves.

Gin Raines Cave was one of the sites where Dr. A.R. Kelly spent time with his students in the summer of 1951, and the site has been designated Archaeological Site 9 BR 201 (formerly BR 156). While collections at the University of Georgia contain only one human specimen, a right mandible with three molars, notes there document a plethora of finds in the area around the cave that attest to a Native American presence. Listed are 88 pottery sherds, 94 flint artifacts and 3 ground stone pieces, including a stone bowl. A bead and seven projectile points were unearthed in the cave – some in an area referred to by Kelly as the “left alcove” – and one point in Raines No. 2. Dates on projectile points and ceramics show a range in usage from the Archaic through a part of the Mississippian. None of the material was to be found at UGA by this writer in the 1980s, but a more recent check records 324 artifacts located there and attributed to this site (Adams, 2007).

This cave is included with this discussion of burial caves due to the one human mandible that is extant at the University of Georgia, as well as notations about other human teeth and bone fragments that had been found. None of this material is to be found today at the university.

Ladds’ Cave

Dominating the landscape to the southwest of Cartersville is Quarry Mountain. Situated about two miles from the city center at the community of Ladds, the mountain rises some 340 feet above the surrounding countryside. Presenting itself as a scar visible for miles, this was the scene of quarrying activity for almost a century following the Civil War.

 At one time there was within the mountain a magnificently decorated cavern. Twelve entrances in the quarry face and one in the floor of the quarry presently access eight remnant passages with a total of nearly 2,000 feet of passage. Although the Georgia Speleological Survey (GSS) has designated each of the separate caves with a different number, under the name Ladd’s Lime Cave, they at one time apparently comprised a single cave with one natural entrance. The existing passages along with those that were quarried away would have made Ladds’ Cave the longest in Bartow County; the range in elevation of the passages from an estimated 700 feet to 850 feet above sea level also made this the cave with the greatest vertical extent in the county. In 1972, at the request of the late Dr. Lewis Lipps of Shorter College, members of the GSS mapped the remnant cave passages along the quarry face. The eighth entrance, in the quarry floor, was discovered and mapped in 1988 by Joel, Carole, and Brian Sneed.

A Native American presence in this area over a long period of time is well documented. The Etowah Indian Mounds, built during the Mississippian period (A.D. 900-1450), are only two and a half miles from Ladds, and that is the primary site where evidence of Native Americans in the area can be seen today. But documentation has been made of a Native American presence at Ladds at an even earlier date.

Encircling the summit of the mountain at one time was an “Indian fort”, built of loose unhewn stones. Located on a terrace some 50 vertical feet below the summit, the walls were about 10 feet wide, at least three feet high, and nearly 2000 lineal feet, forming an oval and being elongated in a northeast-southwest direction. There were six entrances to the interior, measuring 10 to 60 feet in width (Whittlesay, 1883). Whittlesey, who provided a drawing of the structure, felt that it was never intended to be defensive, but rather it was the scene of public meetings, processions, or displays, the wall being merely the result of clearing the mountaintop of loose stones. The structure was located on the middle peak, at 1,057 ft. elevation the highest of the three peaks on the mountain, at about the 1,000 ft. contour. By 1936 walls existed only on the east, north, and part of the west side, approximately 1,180 feet in length, and including only two entrance openings. The stones comprising the wall had been sold to the city of Cartersville to be used in road building and by the fall of that year they were all gone.

While there is no indication of the time period in which the “fort” was constructed, there is ample evidence confirming that Native Americans were at the mountain nearly three thousand years ago. At the base of the mountain on the east side, near the confluence of Nancy and Pettit Creeks, a village site, designated archaeological site number Br-27, was occupied from the Lower Early Woodland (1,000-500 B.C.) through the Mississippian (Wauchope, 1966). Additionally, an apparent burial mound, named the Shaw Mound and designated Br-24, once existed on the southern spur of the mountain. Artifacts associated with the burials include fragments of sheet copper; several large sheets of mica that covered the face and chest of the body; a copper breastplate; two double-beveled greenstone celts; and a copper celt (Waring, 1945). A stone effigy, made from the local limestone and measuring 14 inches in height, had been plowed up in 1881 near the base of the mound (Whittlesay, 1883). The mound, which Whittlesey had described as being conical-shaped, 18 feet in height, and 160 feet in circumference, was demolished in 1940 when the property owner, Frank Shaw, became “overcome by curiosity as to the contents of the mound”, and sold the stones to the city of Cartersville for road material (Waring, 1945). Waring states that in the process of crushing rock, the copper celt was found, damaged somewhat by the crusher.

The determined age of the archaeological sites at Ladds correlates with the time frame that several caves in the area were utilized by the native population, mainly for burials. It is likely, then, that they would have made use of this cave in a similar manner. The question has arisen, though, as to whether there was, in fact, a natural, accessible entrance to the cave at that time, or whether the cave became known only through the later quarrying activity.

At one time the cave was designated as an archaeological site, Br-98, according to a card in the Archaeology Department at the University of Georgia which reads: “cave at Ladds lime works near Cartersville with entrance walled up”. Nothing was recorded about the cave; the reason for its designation as an archaeological site; or even the types of materials comprising the wall, which could give an indication of its age and purpose. The card was also undated. It could be surmised that the cave had been walled up by the Native Americans, as other burial caves had been, but a possible contradiction to this is a letter written in 1900 stating that “some years ago in developing the quarry, a cave was opened…” (Couper, 1900). However, as Couper’s letter was written in reference to some vertebrate fossils from the cave that were discovered in 1885, his wording does not rule out the possibility that it was a manmade wall that was breached at that time rather than the cave being discovered by the quarrying activity. Also, a note dated July 8, 1885 and attached to an accession card at the U.S.N.M. accompanying the fossil faunal material collected from the cave states that human bones had been removed from the same deposit. Nothing else is known about that find, but it certainly provides further affirmation of the assertion that the Native Americans were aware of, and utilized to some extent, the cave at Ladds.

One other reference that must be mentioned is an 1894 article about a suite of cave burials in the Kentucky-Tennessee-Georgia area (Thomas, 1894). The statement is made that “In Bartow county [sic], Georgia, a human skeleton was found in a cave in a limestone bluff walled in….” While not stating what cave this was nor in what part of the county it was located, Ladds among the known caves in the county is the only one that would be considered as being in a bluff. Of interest here is the statement about the entrance having been “walled in”, similar to the aforementioned card at the University of Georgia, and that, apparently from the wording, only one skeleton was found.

Kingston Saltpeter Cave

Although pottery and stone artifacts are found in abundance in this part of Bartow County, very little has been found within Kingston Saltpeter Cave. That so little has been found is not surprising in light of the intensive mining of the cave sediments for nitrates during the 1800s. This cave would have been a likely mortuary site, but tons of dirt has been removed from every area of the cave.

Stone artifacts comprise the bulk of what cultural material has been found within the cave, ceramics being totally nonexistent. In an article in the Georgia Spelunker, the newsletter of the Atlanta Georgia Grotto, reference is made to a point having been found in the cave in 1964 and another point was reportedly discovered in the cave in the summer of 1970, when local resident and artifact hunter Ronald Casey found a broken projectile point near the juncture of the small entrance passage with the Big Room. He states that he can no longer locate the point in his collection, but that he remembers it being a Woodland point (Ronald Casey, personal communication, 1988).

During the study of the cave two points and two preforms were found on the entrance slope, perhaps indicating a workshop in the cave at one time, or just that a careless early explorer dropped some of his supplies. Two limestone grinding stones have also been found, suggesting that there was a more prolonged usage of the cave than just for exploration or as a workshop. Additionally, a rounded quartz “river stone” was found, of a type of rock not found within some one hundred miles of the cave.

An archaeological survey of northern Georgia during 1938-40, conducted by the Works Progress Administration, included test pits in the cave, but produced no artifacts or other evidence of Native American usage of the cave (Wauchope, 1966), although an archaeological site designation, BR-35, was given to the site. The Kingston Saltpeter Cave Study Project in the 1980s excavated two test pits. One, in the center of the Ballroom, yielded several historical artifacts, and the other, in the passage just beyond the Ballroom a bit deeper into the cave, produced small unidentified animal bones and larger pieces of deer bone.  

Dry screening at Salt Peter Cave

In addition to the cultural artifacts found in the cave, some human remains have been found. These are both meager and are either totally unidentifiable or they provide no conclusive evidence of ages of use of the cave. In the paleontological test unit described in another section, a tooth was found that appeared at first blush to be human, yet has sparked quite some controversy and debate. The tooth has been examined by many scientists across the country, with no consensus as to whether it is actually human or some unidentified animal. Physical anthropologists are almost unanimous in their belief that the tooth is not human, while biologists and paleontologists who have studied the tooth state that it matches no animal, living or extinct. It is possible that the tooth is merely a worn molar of the extinct peccary, Mylohyus nasutus, bones and teeth of which have been recovered from the same deposit. If it is, in fact, human, having been discovered in association with Pleistocene material dated to 12,700 ybp, it could be the oldest human found in this part of the country.

Another tooth found in the cave, in a drip pool in the Test Pit Room, was in an isolated area not in association with any other human or faunal material or artifacts. An interesting feature of this tooth is a groove that had been worn deeply into it.

Other than these teeth the only other human remains to be found in the cave was a left humerus from an adult female in her early twenties. This bone, exhibiting gnawing by animals and complete except for the distal end, was removed by a cave explorer in 1981.  At the location in the cave where the bone was discovered – the Water Hole Room – nothing further was to be found. A radiocarbon (AMS) date of 2850 +/- 30 ybp was determined from bone collagen.

Also worthy of mention in the discussion of physical evidence of the use of this cave by Native Americans are petroglyphs drawn on the cave walls. The drawings are located near the Ballroom, which was known to have been used by the Native Americans for ceremonies, but in an area that would not be visible to the casual visitor to the cave. Due to the obscure location of the drawings they have probably eluded observation until Carole Sneed discovered them on October 26, 1982 while she was recording signatures from the cave walls. With the amount of vandalism that has occurred throughout the cave, it is fortunate that the glyphs are so well hidden, leaving a record of early visitation, though the exact time frame of the drawings is uncertain.


For the most part, cave burials in Bartow County seem to be an extension of the Copena tradition seen across Alabama. However, with the meager data we have in regards to dates it appears that caves here, which are found in a near-perfect East-West line across the county, may have been used as mortuaries during times other than just the Middle Woodland. Indeed, of the three dates we have from burials in the county, one is Copena (Middle Woodland), while another is from the Late Archaic/Early Woodland time-frame and the other is Early Mississippian.

The record is incomplete for a variety of reasons, including removal by persons uneducated in the importance of archaeological sites, and dishonest and unethical behavior of researchers at some universities. At Ammons Cave, removal of bones long ago by local residents has rendered the site nearly useless other than documenting that burials did exist; no artifacts are known to be from there. Bradford’s Cave saw a similar excavation of remains by local residents, but we do have documentation of a wealth of artifacts removed. However, those burial goods, many of which made their way to the archaeology department at the University of Georgia, have become lost over time, by theft or otherwise.

One human mandible from Gin Raines Cave, while providing no date, is evidence of a possible burial at that site. Extensive excavation by Dr. A.R. Kelly uncovered many artifacts showing usage of the site over a period of thousands of years.

At Ladds’, it was fortuitous that a search of some of the cave passages was made prior to nearly total destruction by quarrying. Notes made of bones removed and sent to the USMN verify the existence of at least one inhumation there, but nothing more is known.

With nearly every inch of cave in Kingston Saltpeter Cave having been excavated for nitrates, whatever was once there is lost. In the dimly-lit, smoke-filled rooms and passages, any burials would have just been swept up with the earth and processed. Burial objects, had they been discovered during the mining, would likely not have been reported. The one human bone that has been found, along with a couple of teeth, may be the only remaining evidence of a former necropolis in the cave.

It is at Little Beaver Cave that the most egregious situation has occurred, where an untouched burial was found weathering out of a slope. A proper test pit was excavated by professionals and the remains found were taken to the University of Tennessee (UT) for cleaning, identification, and study. However, rather than returning the remains to the cave as the owner demanded and with which the UT staff member gave his word, the bones are being given by UT to the Cherokee Nation for interment elsewhere; the Cherokee representative handling the matter has told this writer that the bones would be placed in a hole dug in a secret location on Federal property. She and the University have refused requests to re-inter them in the cave, where the vast majority of the burials yet lie in repose. This they are doing, according to UT, as required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). That law pertains only to finds made on tribal and Federal land, not ones made on private property as is the case here.

Funding for radiocarbon dating has been provided by the Dogwood City Grotto, Richmond Area Speleological Society, and the National Speleological Foundation.


Adams, Andrea E. 2007. Revisiting Arthur Kelly’s 1951 Field School and the Corra Harris Cave from Bartow County, Georgia. Early Georgia, 35(1): 71-98.

Couper, R.H. 1900. Letter to Dr. F.A. Lucas, USNM. October 16.

Harris, Corra. 1950. A Sketch of the Pine Indian Cave. Early Georgia, 1(1): 41-42.

Kelly, Arthur R. 1950. Corra Harris Collection. Early Georgia, 1(1): 44.

Sneed, Joel M. 2007. Bartow County Caves: History Underground in North Georgia.

Thomas, Cyrus. 1894. Twelfth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.: 583-584.

Waring, A.J. Jr. 1945. Hopewellian Elements in Northern Georgia. American Antiquity, 11(2): 119-120.

Wauchope, R. 1966. Archaeological Survey of Northern Georgia: With a Test for Some Cultural Hypothesis. Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology, 21: 239-240.

Whittlesey, Charles. 1883. Miscellaneous Papers Relating to Archaeology. Smithsonian Annual Report, 1881: 624-630.

Looting of archaeological sites is a problem of major proportions, as vandals excavate and remove artifacts. When this is done and a site is disturbed in this manner, the archeological significance of the site is destroyed, lost forever. Realizing the scope of the problem, laws have been passed that provide for punishment of individuals desecrating our heritage in this manner.

In Georgia, the Cave Protection Act of 1977 makes it a crime to disturb, destroy, or remove any archaeological material found in a cave without written permission of the property owner. Federal laws, including the Archeological Resource Protection Act of 1979 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, make it a federal crime to disturb human burials on tribal and Federal lands.

The Vinnie Cabin Excavation

The Material Wealth of Slaves in the South

An Excavation of a Former Slave Cabin Uncovers a Piece of Bartow County’s History

India Daniel 

Kennesaw State University

In today’s world, we are curiously reaching back into the past more than ever, in search of not only our country’s history, but also our local history. Through an archaeological field study of a Civil War era home in Cartersville, Georgia, tangible artifacts are now able to help shed a light on past events, particularly as it relates to slavery and the relationship between an enslaved laborer and their enslaver. The Field-Conner home, located in the city limits of Cartersville, still stands today as an important historical site that details the events that occurred during the Civil War, and the personal lives of the enslaved laborers and the family who enslaved them. 


The enslavement of Africans throughout the world has a rich history. The earliest evidence of them being traded for labor in other countries began nearly four hundred years ago, in the 15th century, during what was known as the transatlantic slave trade. The Portuguese initiated this in 1441, when they captured twelve Africans from modern-day Mauritania and brought them to Portugal (Karbo and Murithi, 2017, 38). Since then, the “need” for Africans to provide labor in other continents, Europe, and eventually the New World, continued to rise. 

The transportation of Africans to the Americas began as early as 1503. During this time, enslaved Africans were brought to Europe first, and then to the Americas. By 1518, the captives were taken directly to America from Africa (Adi, 2012). However, before the Americas were actually colonized by Europeans, there was a strong presence of Africans, both enslaved and freed, in the New World. It is speculated that Christopher Columbus brought the first group of Africans to the Americas on his voyage to Hispaniola in the 1490s. Regarding North America, there were a significant amount of enslaved Africans that were brought in 1526, many of whom were a part of the Spanish mission, whose goal was to establish an outpost in present-day South Carolina. This particular group of enslaved people rebelled, preventing them from doing so. However, the Spanish continued to capture Africans, bringing them to St. Augustine in Florida, where there was a great population of enslaved people. Another documented instance of enslaved African being brought to the New World before colonization, or in colonization efforts, include Sir Francis Drake’s voyage in 1586 to Roanoke Island where he and John Hawkins brought as many as 1,400 captured Africans with them, and ultimately failed to establish a colony there (Ponti, 2019).

After many unsuccessful attempts, since the late 15th century, to make a permanent colony in North America by the French, the Spanish, and the English, it finally happened in the 17th century. In 1607, the English founded the first colony in Jamestown, Virginia. As aforementioned, there were Africans, both enslaved and freed, in America before colonization. With that said, it is likely that they were still there, in some form or fashion, even though the “official” year that slavery was incepted in North America was August of 1619. Taken from Angola, the original intent of the Portuguese was to bring the African captives to Veracruz, Mexico. However, the slave ship, San Juan Bautista, was attacked by the Treasurer and the White Lion ships, taking about sixty of their captives. They did this in an effort to encourage the English colonists to transport servants for their labor. From this point, the White Lion arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, bringing about “twenty and odd Negroes” with them, as John Rolfe, secretary of Virginia, noted, who were then sold to the English colonists in exchange for food. A few days later, the Treasurer ship arrived, selling about three more Africans in Virginia and the rest elsewhere (McCartney, 2011). It is important to note that these African captives were not intended to be “slaves” necessarily. They were sold to the colonists, as were white immigrants from Europe, as indentured servants. Indentured servitude was a contract agreed upon by both the server and the served. The contract was not meant to last forever, meaning that many servants would have the opportunity to become free once they paid their debt, or once their contract was up. Unfortunately, this was the narrative of the European servants, and not of the African servants, who were made to continue working even after their contract was up (History.com Editors, 2019). With the constant influx of enslaved people being brought in primarily from Angola and other African countries, the enslaved African population grew from thirty-two people as of 1620, to well over one hundred people towards the end of the decade (McCartney, 2011); and in 1636, North America’s first direct participation in the transatlantic slave trade began, with the construction of their ship Desire. With the increase in the number of black bodies made to carry out labor against their will in a foreign land, also came the increasingly harsh punishments and treatment towards them, in the name of the law. The first action taken in a lawful manner that showed the racial discrepancy of humans of the same status (indentured servants) took place in 1640, when three men (one black, two white) decided to run away. In the court ruling, the two white men had their years of servitude extended, while the black man, John Punch, was sentenced to be enslaved for the rest of his life. Since then, the literature of laws grew; fugitive slave laws were established, slavery was made legal, enslaved people and indentured servants had to be converted to Christians, hereditary slavery was established, blacks (freed and enslaved) were prohibited from congregating in large numbers and bearing arms, anti-miscegenation laws were established, and slave codes were established, amongst many other laws and rules aimed at restricting and controlling African people as a whole, all before the closing of the 17th century (Lewis, 2019). 

Eventually, the original thirteen colonies were formed, with Georgia being the last to do so in 1732. Founded by James Oglethorpe, with the original intent to be a refuge center for prisoners who were in debt in London, Georgia instead came about as a buffer to protect Southern Colonies from Spanish invaders in Florida (History.com, 2018).

Georgia was unique among the other colonies in that its Trustees governed the colony remotely in London and they prohibited slavery. While it was practically becoming illegal in all of the colonies that had been established thus far, in 1693, enslaved people who were able to escape were allowed to live freely in Florida, provided that they converted to Catholicism. This order was from King Charles II of Spain, who allowed this for the purpose of strengthening the number of people in Florida, with the ultimate goal of being able to counter English forces. In 1752, St. Augustine, Florida became the only legal town that a black person could live freely in (Greenspan, 2018). Because of this, in addition to Oglethorpe and the Trustees having a different economic vision for Georgia, slavery was not allowed. Having slavery in Georgia, the buffer of protection from the Spanish, would mean that the very reason Georgia was founded would be compromised. Enslaved people would be enticed to escape to Florida, where they would join the Spanish army and fight against the English colonists in exchange for their freedom. So, unlike the other twelve colonies that yielded a great amount of wealth largely due to their exploitation of black labor, settlers in Georgia were to expect less wealth, with the promise of comfortable living and self-directed labor by manufacturing silk and other commodities. 

However, not having other people perform the settlers’ own laborious tasks did not sit well with many of them. Legislation officially prohibiting slavery was passed in 1735. During the latter of the 1730s, settlers grew more and more weary of having to abide by the law. Soon, a campaign was underway to get the Trustees to lift the ban on slavery. They sent letters and petitions, and one of the leaders even went to London to lobby members of Parliament. He tried to persuade them on a financial basis, essentially stating that Georgia could be generating a lot more wealth with the aid of enslaved African labor, because they could withstand the harsh conditions of the south, as their South Carolinian counterparts informed them. However, because of the persistent threat that the Spanish caused for the Southern colonists, Parliament was not interested in their claims. It was not until Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish in 1742, that the Trustees no longer had a plausible reason for keeping Georgia an enslavement-free colony. 

As of 1751, slavery was made legal in Georgia, under the provision that there was a smaller ratio of blacks to whites. With this new legislation, the colonists in South Carolina, as they had planned before the ban was lifted, quickly and eagerly expanded their plantations, bringing themselves and the enslaved to the Georgia Lowcountry. South Carolinians soon took over Georgia’s government, implementing some of their own governing laws and socioeconomic practices, including a set of slave codes. Subsequently, they ended up taking over a significant amount of the Georgia colony, where their wealth outweighed the wealth of the original colonists. Eventually, the enslaved population grew from about 500 to about 18,000 by 1775. This drastic increase is largely due to the presence of the colonists of South Carolina, and due to the fact that Georgia began to import enslaved people directly from Africa in the 1760s (Wood, 2019).

These events set the stage for a scene that delves into the specific lives of Africans brought to the New World. Because the history of slavery has many different aspects, and because it can be so extensive, a detailed description of life for any one enslaved person (who is not a historical figure) is often overlooked and forgotten. This is especially the case for the enslaved people of the Field-Conner home in Cartersville, Georgia. While there is not much literature on the house and its inhabitants, the archaeological field work on the former plantation indicates that there is a need to tell the story of those who lived there, in particular, the enslaved people at this site, who seemingly had access to items that were not typical for an enslaved person to possess. That raises the question of why they did have access to these things. Perhaps the enslaved people here had a special relationship with their enslavers, possibly indicating that slavery in the south was not “as harsh” in all areas. Another possibility is that the family of the Field home were wealthier than a typical slave owning family, meaning that the enslaved people, presumably, in turn, would have better things as well. Through an extensive analysis of the artifacts that were found at this location, the distinction of the enslaved population living here will be explored. 


Slavery in the South vs Slavery in the North

It is a well-known fact that slavery in America greatly differed in the southern part of the country compared to the northern part of the country. Even in its beginning stages, the thirteen colonies had different economies, policies, and social order based on their respective regions. It is important to note that the reason that these thirteen colonies came into fruition in the first place was due to a demand in England. In the midst of European powers wanting to expand their territories, and with England’s increasingly overcrowded population, and their own economy suffering, they sent people (those looking for work, a fresh start, and religious freedom, alike) to North America with the primary means of them creating a new economy to bring in more revenue and build the country’s wealth. The colonies did that in different ways, while all relying on the labor of enslaved Africans. 

In what is referred to as the New England Colonies, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, were the northernmost colonies. Because their geography did not allow for large plantations, they did not have as large of a demand for enslaved labor as their southern counterparts. Southern Colonies needed more enslaved Africans because their economy was agriculturally based, rather than having an economy based on manufacturing goods, as New Colonies did. The average enslaved population belonging to one house/farm was about one to two people. Because of the lack in numbers and a different variety of economic needs, enslaved people here had the opportunity to become more specialized in certain crafts. 

Enslaved people living in the New England Colonies were arguably treated better than those in the Middle and Southern Colonies. For one, they did not have to experience tremendous heat conditions, while also having to be outside for an extended amount of time – sunrise to sunset. Most of their duties, outside of farming, involved in-house duties, among other things such as aiding ministers, doctors, and merchants. Enslaved people here were initially treated and regarded as indentured servants, per English custom. 

Indentured servitude for African labor ceased in 1641, with the Massachusetts Bay Company imposing slave laws that differentiated the treatment of a servant and an enslaved person. Doing this took away any of their former rights, such as eventually obtaining freedom. Even with the employment of a stricter form of slavery, the New England Colonies still kept a “calmer” climate compared to the other colonies. As early as the 17th century, Rhode Island, with the highest population of enslaved people, tried to implement laws that would give enslaved people and indentured servants some of the same rights. The laws also aimed to free them after ten years of forced service. Even though these laws eventually failed, it still shows that the New England Colonies differed greatly in the northeast compared to the southeast; thus, setting the stage for the “free north” that would come in the years to follow. 

The American Revolution played a role in enslaved people obtaining their freedom. Though an enslaved person would be said to have freedom for joining the war, whether they were from the north or the south, there was a stronger presence of enslaved people obtaining freedom in the north. Connecticut and Rhode Island, for example, made moves to cut the active slave trade prior to the war. Even later during the American Revolution, New England Colonies began to fully outlaw slavery as early as 1777, and by 1800 there was no slavery in those colonies (National Geographic Society, 2020).

In the Middle Colonies, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware, there was this sort of duality, where enslaved people in these colonies could experience as much hardship in terms of treatment and labor as those in the Southern Colonies, and where they could experience more privileges and freedom as those living in the New England Colonies. 

The Middle Colonies also had “the best of both worlds” regarding their economy, which included agricultural and industrial labor. One important difference to note between the Southern and New England Colonies compared to the Middle Colonies, is that their economy was not solely reliant on one particular industry. It is also important to note that the colonists in the Middle Colonies were not only English people. There was also a strong German and Dutch presence, meaning that the colonists living here had different reasons for coming to the New World, and that they had different means of making a living, rather than strictly relying on indentured servitude, and ultimately slavery, as the other colonies did. 

Immigrants moving to the Middle Colonies often paid their own way and were not indentured servants looking to pay off debt. In most cases, they were relatively wealthy and skilled in farming and other trades, allowing them to generate their own wealth. However, because there was a halt in the flow of immigrants coming to these colonies, there was a need to bring in more enslaved Africans. Even with its inception, the difference in these colonies compared to the others, is that the white settlers worked alongside the enslaved for particular labor tasks. 

Because of their geography, land with plenty of fertile soil and space, colonists’ desire to own land grew, lessening the number of white workers, and increasing the number of African captives. The Middle colonists imported most of their enslaved people from the West Indies, rather than directly from Africa, because they were more “broken in” and accustomed to life in the New World. The enslaved people living in the Middle Colonies worked on plantations just as those in the south, but their cash crops included wheat, barley and corn, among other things – making them the “breadbasket colonies.” This type of agriculture called for short growing seasons and harvesting seasons. Because of this, in addition to there being a relatively small population of enslaved people per household/farm, as in the New England Colonies, enslaved people had more idle time. However, they were not limited to working on plantations. They would also engage in artisan work, such as carpeting, blacksmithing, and shoe making, to name a few.

 In terms of life for enslaved people, the Middle Colonies soon adopted a set of slave codes in the early 1700s, giving their enslavers the right to essentially do whatever they wanted with them. Because there was a small slaveholding, enslaved people in the Middle Colonies had less of an opportunity, and more of a hard time, trying to organize a revolt or rebel against their enslavers. There were some successful attempts, but generally it was difficult for Middle Colony Africans to effectively communicate and organize with each other. 

Eventually, the enslaved population continued to grow in the Middle Colonies. With ports in cities in states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, the Middle Colonies played an active role in the transatlantic slave trade. Though slavery was thriving in these colonies, there were still colonists who opposed it and worked against it, such as Quakers, who would be known to help runaway slaves. There were also others, such as New Jersey’s governor, William Livingston, who opposed slavery, stating in 1786, that it was “utterly inconsistent both with the principles of Christianity and Humanity; and in Americans who have almost idolized liberty, peculiarly odious and disgraceful.” (Gigantino, 2020). The first move made to amend the institution of slavery was in Pennsylvania in 1780, where freedom would be granted to a child born into slavery once they reached the age of twenty-eight. By 1840, slavery was completely abolished in Pennsylvania. They were mainly successful in doing this because their economy was not mainly reliant on slavery. For colonies like Delaware, however, totally abolishing slavery was not the answer. Slavery in the Middle Colonies officially ended with the 13th amendment in 1865, when New Jersey finally had to fully abolish it. However, the presence of slavery greatly declined in these colonies before 1865 (Gigantino, 2020).

Slavery in the Southern Colonies differed greatly in different aspects when compared to the New England Colonies and the Middle Colonies. It is often regarded as the harshest, due to many factors such as the climate, with its intense heat, laws permitting inhumane treatment towards enslaved people, the laborious work they had to carry out, and the longevity of it since its beginnings. 

The Southern Colonies, including Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, faced different hardships compared to the other regions. For example, many northern immigrants from Europe came to North America for religious freedoms, meaning that they often came with their families. This was not the case for Southern colonists, who would generally be without their families, working as indentured servants and/or seeking economic opportunity. In addition to this, they also had to adapt to the new climate in the south, which caused many of them to contract diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, shortening their life expectancy. Because of all of this, life for Southern colonists had a rough start, and was not as promising as life was in the other colonies (Ushistory.org, 2020). However, things would quickly change in the colonists’ favor once slavery began to increase. 

In Virginia, the first colony founded, their economy was agriculturally tobacco based. Enslaved people would work on tobacco plantations, expanding the economy. Due to its high success, the time, labor, and amount of land that was needed increased, in order to continue producing this cash crop, which was sold in England. Their soil eventually lost its nutrients because of their extensive use of the land, causing the colonists to have to barter most of their goods. This established a new way of obtaining goods, where people would trade tobacco for service and other commodities such as food. 

Regarding their political structure, Virginia had what was known as the General Assembly. Established on July 30, 1619, it was the first elected legislative body in the New World. The General Assembly also created laws for the relationship between an enslaved black person and their enslaver, stating “All servants imported and brought into the Country…who were not Christians in their native Country…shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion…shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resist his master…correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction…the master shall be free of all punishment…as if such accident never happened. (Pbs.org).” The life of an enslaved person in Virginia, outside of planting tobacco, consisted of working as blacksmiths, carpenters, among other similar jobs. Those who did not work on the plantations tending to the crops, worked inside as maids, cooks, and nannies. During their own personal time, they would tend to their personal duties and garden. In the beginning, they were also sometimes allowed to raise their own food and tobacco, with the option of selling some of their goods to make a profit. They would also engage in dancing and singing, continuing some of their African traditions (Historyisfun.org).

This is what the beginnings of slavery looked like in the south. However, well after 1619, there were major changes that took place in this new economic system. The South allowed for year-round growing and harvesting seasons of cash crops like rice, indigo, tobacco, sugarcane and cotton. This, in addition to large plantations, required the labor of a lot more enslaved people than the other colonies did. This is why the enslaved population was so great in this region. Setting them further apart from their fellow colonies, Southern Colonies were largely self-sufficient. This meant that any family, especially the wealthier families, could rely on the efforts of their own labor and their slaves’ labor, producing whatever they needed. This type of self-sufficiency did not require them to have a lot of cities as seen in the Northern Colonies. 

As slavery grew, so did enslaved people’s resistance. Consistent with enslaved people living in other regions, they would move slowly, delaying their work, and pretend to not understand tasks that they were given. With a larger population and about twenty to thirty enslaved people working on one plantation, it was easier for them to communicate and organize, something that was less plausible in the other colonies. With these organized attacks and rebellions, came the enforcement of stricter laws and harsher punishments, not only for runaway or rebellious enslaved people, but for all of them. The enslaved people living in the south faced stricter laws than those in the northern colonies, prohibiting them from marrying, from gathering without the presence of a white person, and there were seldom any chances for them to earn their freedom. In South Carolina, for example, they could not even plant corn, peas, or rice, have hogs or cattle, and they could not wear clothing that was “finer than negroe cloth” (Lumen). Southern enslaved people lacked such privileges compared to northern enslaved people because of their population size. It would be easier for one to two enslaved people to build a personal relationship with his/her enslaver and establish a patriotic bond, thus increasing his/her chance of receiving certain benefits, compared to twenty or more enslaved people living in the south trying to receive “mercy” from their masters. 

Even with the decline in tobacco in Virginia and Maryland, the Southern Colonies remained relevant and functioning, as they continued to cultivate their other cash crops. A staple cash crop, cotton, took over the south’s economy, making enslaved Africans more of a commodity. With this increasing reliance on enslaved labor to continue to be the foundation of the south’s economy, the Southern Colonies were more reluctant than ever to abolish slavery or appeal some of their inhumane policies towards the enslaved people, as the northern colonies pushed them to do. It wouldn’t be until 1865, with the ratification of the 13th Amendment, that slavery came to an end in all southern states, lasting much longer than the other original colonies.


Slavery in South Georgia and North Georgia

By 1810, Georgia had a population of 105,218 enslaved people, increasing to 280,944 by 1840. At the beginning of the Civil War Era, there were more enslaved Africans in Georgia than any of the southern states, excluding Virginia. Georgia, becoming the face for slavery in the south, also had the highest number of large plantations in the south (Young, 2017). 

Lowcountry Georgia, an area along the southeastern coast, included Savannah – where the cotton gin was created – and territories in South Carolina. In the Lowcountry, there were about 30,000 Georgian enslaved people. Most of their work included cultivating rice, which was a dangerous and strenuous task. For example, between the years 1833 and 1861, there was a ten percent mortality rate each year on one rice plantation. There would also be cholera outbreaks, causing death for about half of the enslaved population. Infant mortality rates were also significantly higher in the Lowcountry, compared to infants, both black and white, elsewhere. In general, enslaved people here were faced with a lot more health challenges and complications than those living in other areas (Young, 2017).

One benefit of enslaved people living in Lowcountry Georgia, is that they had a greater degree of autonomy in terms of their social life. This was because whites did not want to be in the disease ridden, humid environment that the Lowcountry was known for, particularly on the rice plantations. In turn, enslaved people were allowed to leave the fields once their work was completed. With a lack of supervision and white culture influence, a different type of lifestyle transpired for them. For one, they were able to retain more of their African heritage, practicing the language, dances, religion, and other cultural traditions, hence the Geechee culture still present along the coast today. The enslaved people here were also able to create opportunities for themselves, becoming businessmen, creating markets for both white and black consumers. Outside of working on the rice plantations and selling their goods/services, slaves would sometimes be hired out to do work that they were skilled in. 

Enslaved people living elsewhere in Georgia had somewhat of a different reality. The Black Belt, referring to the rich, fertile soil in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia, is where most of the state’s population lived. Three-fourths of Georgia’s enslaved people lived in the middle counties on cotton plantations, and two-thirds of the entire population also lived here. The enslaved, in turn, were watched and supervised more intensely than those living in Lowcountry Georgia, while also having less control over their own lives and free time.

Outside of the enslaved people in Lowcountry Georgia, compared to the rest of the enslaved population, there was relatively little difference between those living in the northern and southern regions of Georgia. There were not a lot of slave-owning people in Georgia, even though the impact of slavery does not suggest that. As of 1860, less than one-third of white males enslaved blacks, making enslavers the minority in Georgia. Only about fifteen percent of enslavers had twenty or more enslaved people and about forty-eight percent of enslavers had less than six slaves. Georgia’s plantation economy was divided in a way that put the fifteen percent of enslavers of twenty or more enslaved people at the top – they were the elites, who also made up the majority of the government, and had control and access to the best land options (Young, 2017). While there was a smaller presence of enslaved people in North Georgia, the treatment and/or benefit, or lack thereof, of any enslaved person was largely based on the personality or morals of their enslavers. This means that enslaved people living in the same area could be treated completely opposite of each other, even though they are in the same geographic area, and vice versa. 


Slavery in Cartersville, Georgia

The history of slavery in Bartow County, as in many small towns, is a history that has many untold parts. In what was formerly known as Cass county, slavery was practiced in this north Georgia county before it was established in 1832. Enslaved African labor in North Georgia was not as concerned with cotton as the Black Beltline region was. With a smaller and more stable population of enslaved people, they typically labored in mining and industrial work. As their population grew with the introduction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, running from Chattanooga to Atlanta, the county was positively impacted economically, politically, and socially. Farmers living here were now able to increase their access and participation in the cotton industry in the 1850s. Soon, the population became increasingly educated, wealthy, and more viable in exploiting black labor (Claremont, 2005, 8-9). 

As a testament to the influx of enslaved people in Cartersville and to the wealth that could be generated, there were several well to do slave owners. Two of the most notable slave owners there included Colonel Francis S. Bartow and Colonel Farish Carter. Bartow, whom Bartow County is named after, was a prominent member of the Georgia bar. He had a total of eighty-nine slaves by 1860 (Groce, 2008). Farish Carter, whom Cartersville is named after, was one of the wealthiest men in Georgia during this time period. As of 1845, Carter owned 426 slaves (University Libraries). However, he did not solely rely on his wealth from what his enslaved laborers could do for him; instead, he would loan them to others, including family and friends, having them carry out work for different construction projects (Daniels, 1999).

The Field-Conner house, located at 118 North Erwin Street, is regarded as the first house built in Cartersville, where they also employed the use of black labor (Figures 1 and 2). Understanding the history of this house and its inhabitants is important, because this research is based off of the artifacts that were found at this site in one of the slave cabins and the surrounding areas. Per documents from Bartow’s county local historian, Alexis Carter-Callahan, the house was speculated to have been built around 1855. Elijah Murphy Field of Canton, Georgia, and Cornelia Maxey Harrison of Pickens, South Carolina, married in 1849 in Cass County, and proceeded to move into the home in 1858. In 1864, as the Union Troops approached Cartersville, Field uprooted his family and moved to Bethany, now Wadley, Georgia. Field died later that same year, and Mrs. Field moved back to the house with her children in 1865. During the house’s time of in-occupancy, Union soldiers moved in the house, including Mrs. Field’s own cousin, former United States President General Benjamin Harrison, whom she resented because of his “Yankee loyalty.” Ultimately, during the end of the Civil War Era, the house served as quarters for Mrs. Field and her children, Union soldiers, and a post office.

City Map  of Conner Home/Vinnie Cabin

Figure 1. Map of the location of the house (Google Maps).

Figure 2. The Field-Conner home (Stompin’ Grounds Magazine, pg. 18). 


The Fields also had other properties around Cartersville, including a place between Pumpkinvine Creek and Etowah River, where the majority of their “one hundred or so” enslaved people were. However, there is no record of the number of enslaved people that were actually living on the property in Cartersville. The Field family did have in-house, as well as out-house, enslavement. There are enslaved people’s names recorded here, including “John, who was in charge of the stables, and Anne, who was the cook and the maid.” Henry is also mentioned as the “head of slaves”, but the plantation that he belonged to was not specified, though it is likely that he was at the other site near Pumpkinvine Creek. A source from the Stompin’ Grounds Magazine states that Mr. Field “never actually purchased slaves, rather he inherited them, and they multiplied in number once doing so.” He opposed slavery and did not think that it was right to own humans. However, he never got rid of his, claiming that he did not want to “separate the families.” Once the war was over and they were freed, however, some of the enslaved people would still come by to see the family and check on them. The Stompin’ Grounds Magazine also states that the Fields and the people that they enslaved treated one another like family, and that they took care of each other. This was evidenced in the fact that Henry gathered the rest of the enslaved people and went to Bethany once they heard that Mr. Field passed away, in an effort to console and protect Mrs. Field. 

Of particular interest, is the slave cabin, sitting about sixty feet from the main house, that still remains today on the Field’s former property in Cartersville. After the war, as mentioned earlier, some of the newly freed enslaved people still stayed around the area, stopping by the house every now and then. It is likely that some of the enslaved people continued to work there, or at the other property. Mrs. Vinnie Johnson, the head cook and last known occupant of the slave cabin that is still standing, worked for the Field family (Figure 3). She lived in the cabin with her son between 1900 and 1910, eventually earning enough money to move off of the property and rent her own home. Descendants of the Field family continued to occupy the house until it was sold to John Lewis, in 2017.

Figure 3. Mrs. Vinnie’s cabin. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


Artifact Analysis

An archaeological survey of the property was conducted through metal detecting, yielding several artifacts. So far, there are over one hundred artifacts that have been catalogued from the Field-Conner home. The majority of those artifacts include fragments of kitchenware (glass, whiteware, etc.), buttons, and square-head nails, among other items. It is speculated that there were at least ten slave cabins on the Field’s property at their town house in Cartersville. This speculation is evidenced through the remaining structures that have also been discovered through metal detecting. Those structures would include brick fragments, square head nails, and window glass. The property would have to undergo further analysis in order to make a solid claim that there are in fact, at least nine other slave cabins in addition to the one that is still intact. 

The artifacts that were found have been separated into ten different categories that include architecture, furniture, clothing, kitchenware, activities, personal, arms, modern, tobacco and miscellaneous. Under the architecture category, there were artifacts such as a trunk lock, drawer pulls, bed frame pieces, door hinges, animal bone fragments, bricks, alkaline glazed stone pieces, a window hinge with glass, and possible flowerpot fragments. Of this list, the window hinge, the door hinges, and the flowerpot fragments are the most typical findings at an enslavement site. Depending on the time frame, other findings such as the animal bone fragments and bricks would also be common. The animal bones could be indicative of tools or remains from their meat food source, which would most likely be a pig or a cow (Figure 4). In the beginning stages of slavery, slave cabins would not have wooden floors. Instead, the floor would simply be the earthen ground. Moving out of the 1700s, the structure of slave cabins began to change. Where there was once only an opening as a window with no covering, glass-paned windows began to emerge, as well as brick or stone fireplaces. Evidence of burned brick and coal (Figure 5), and the windowpane with glass (Figure 6), represent these antebellum changes (Samford, 1996, 95-97)


Animal Bone Fragments

 Figure 4. Animal bone fragments. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Brick fragments

 Figure 5. Brick fragments. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Window Pane

 Figure 6. Window pane with glass fragment. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


The alkaline glazed stone pieces would not necessarily be uncommon, as some enslaved people did actually engage in pottery making. In Edgefield, South Carolina, for example, they played a key role in the stoneware industry. The enslaved people there, the most renowned being Dave the Potter, even implemented their own stylization of pottery that suggested influence from their Kongo ancestors, which made up seventy percent of the population of enslaved people during the 18th century (Joseph 2011, 138). While it is uncertain whether the enslaved people living at the Field-Conner home engaged in pottery making, it would not be unlikely. Because all of the stoneware is fragmented, it is difficult to determine whether or not the pottery had African-style features (Figure 7). Regardless, enslaved people did have access to pottery, whether it was passed down from their enslavers, or whether they created it themselves (Sciway.net).  

Glazed Stone

 Figure 7. Alkaline glazed stone piece. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


The bed frame pieces, the drawer pulls, and the trunk lock help to paint a vision of what the inside of the cabin may have looked like. The trunk lock raises less significance, as it could simply be a storage place for the enslaved people’s tools, which was not uncommon for them to have (Figure 8). It could have also been used by their enslavers. Because nothing else was found in possible association with the trunk lock, it is difficult to draw upon any conclusions as to what could have possibly been inside of the trunk. The bed frame pieces (Figure 9) and the drawer pulls (Figure 10), however, are of great significance, and have more specific implications. There are several accounts where enslaved people would recall their sleeping arrangements and conditions: “Boards fixed upon stakes driven into the ground, without mat or covering, were our only beds.”; “Old and young, male and female, married and single, were glad to drop down like so many brute beasts upon the common clay floor, each covered with his or her own blanket, their only protection from cold and exposure.”; “…old and young, male and female, married and single, drop down side by side, on one common bed – the cold, damp floor – each covering himself or herself with their miserable blankets…”; “We had neither bedsteads, nor furniture of any description. Our beds were collections of straw and old rags, thrown down in the corners and boxed in with boards; a single blanket the only covering. Our favourite way of sleeping, however, was on a plank, our heads raised on an old jacket…” (Simkin, 2020). 

Trunk Lock

Figure 8. Trunk lock. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Slotted bed frame latches

Figure 9. Bed frame pieces. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Drawer Pull

Figure 10. Drawer pull. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

All of these personal accounts by former slaves indicate that throughout time, slave cabins were devoid of any furniture, including beds. What is conflicting in the case of this slave cabin, is that it was occupied both during slavery and after slavery. Thus, it is uncertain if the enslaved people’s benign relationship with the Field family granted them the luxury of having beds, or if Mrs. Vinnie, the last known occupant of the cabin post-Civil War, had a bed. However, with further analysis of the site, if more bed-related fixtures are found, particularly in/around the other speculated slave cabins, then it would be safe to conclude that the enslaved people did, in fact, have beds. Also attesting to the presence of furniture in the slave cabin, is a wooden chair leg, catalogued under the furniture group (Figure 11).

Chair Leg

Figure 11. Wooden chair leg. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


In the activities category, items include a horse saddle buckle (Figure 12), a horse branding iron (Figure 13), and a flat iron (Figure 14), and a tobacco canister (Figure 15) listed under the tobacco category; all of which are common. In the clothing category, the artifacts include a buckle (Figure 16), several buttons, pendants, and beads (Figure 17), a child’s shoe made of horsehair (Figure 18), and scissors (Figure 19). All of these items are also common. However, the type of buttons that were found are remarkable. They range in material, from copper, iron, bone, shell, vulcanized rubber, plastic, and porcelain. The copper and iron buttons are mostly Civil War Era pendants from the suits of the soldiers. This, of course, is largely consistent with the presence of the Union Soldiers occupying the house. Under the arms category, items include a trigger guard (Figure 20), and lead shots. These likely belonged to the Union Soldiers as well. However, other enslavement sites yielded similar findings such as lead shots, gunflints, and other gun parts. Despite popular belief, enslaved people did have access to firearms, which they mainly used as a means for hunting (Samford, 1996, 96). Another weapon that was found was a pocketknife, under the personal group (Figure 21). Again, all of these items were more than likely from the Union soldiers, but enslaved people in general could have had possession of them as well. 

Saddle buckle

Figure 12. Horse saddle buckle. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


Branding iron

Figure 13. Horse branding iron. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Flat iron base

Figure 14. Flat iron. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Figure 15. Tobacco canister. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Clothing buckle

Figure 16. A clothing buckle. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Buttons and Beads

Figure 17. A pendant, beads, and several buttons. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Child’s shoe sole

Figure 18. Children’s horsehair shoe. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Figure 19. A pair of scissors. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Gun trigger guard

Figure 20. A trigger guard. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Pocket knife blade

Figure 21. A pocket knife. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


The kitchen category had the most artifacts, mainly because of the many small fragments that were found. The artifacts were mainly whiteware pieces and glass pieces. Because of the nature of the slave cabin, it is difficult to determine what exactly these artifacts indicated for the enslaved people that lived here. In general terms, enslaved people did not have dishware, outside of the pottery that they could make themselves, as mentioned earlier. The dishware that was found here was relatively prestigious, being English tableware and of fine material (e.g. porcelain). Fragments of some of the dishware included makers marks, which were all of English origin, dating as early as the 1840s through the ending of the Civil War (Figures 22, 23, 24, and 25). A typical enslaved person certainly would not have had access to such fine ware. However, because Mrs. Vinnie was the head cook, it makes sense that there would be such kitchen-related items found. Additionally, there was an outside kitchen that was torn down, which could have been the area in which most of the kitchen artifacts were found.

Figure 22. Englishware. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.

Figure 23. Englishware. Photo courtesy of India Daniel.


It can be concluded that the enslaved people living here, did in fact have benefits that were unusual for a typical enslaved people living in the south. Slavery in the South, particularly Georgia, is characterized by its brutal heat, extensive and intensive labor regime, and relentless enslavers. While this can still attest to the general nature of slavery, it is important to note that this was not the reality on every single plantation. To be clear, the act of slavery in America is not excusable or tolerable on any level. However, because of the nature of thinking during its time, people, such as the Field family, who sought to create a different, “more favorable” environment for the people the enslaved, were regarded as good people, who meant no harm. The family treated them like family, meaning that they were granted with certain privileges that were unknown to other enslaved people elsewhere. Such conclusions can be made thanks to documents that explicitly state the relationship that the Field family had with those who were enslaved. 

In terms of making conclusions based on the artifacts, things are a bit more difficult. The Field-Conner home has a unique history, involving unique situations. As stated previously, the home has been occupied for over the span of a century, during and after slavery. Because of this, it is difficult to determine what would have belonged to who. 

The house was abandoned for the period of time that the Field family moved to Bethany, Georgia. Upon Mrs. Field’s return to the home, it was occupied by Union soldiers. It is not out of line to think that others could have occupied the home for a brief time before the soldiers. Even if that is not the case, it is still important to consider the nature of the enslaved people and what they were doing while their enslavers were not present. It is said that Mrs. Field ordered the “head slave”, Henry, to continue to plant the crops as if she was there to oversee their work, but Henry gathered as many enslaved people as he could, and actually went to Bethany where the family was. Because of their autonomy and free will to be able to do this, it raises many questions. Did some enslaved people use this as an opportunity to run away? Did they use this as an opportunity to take certain items from the house that they would otherwise not have been able to? And, did this journey to Bethany include the enslaved people at the Field-Conner home, since it is likely that Henry was an enslaved person at their other plantation? The only basis that there is to answer these questions relies on what is known about the relationship between the enslaved people and their enslavers. If it was as family-oriented as documents suggest, then perhaps they remained loyal to their enslavers, and did not use their absence as an opportunity for freedom or personal gain. Perhaps in return for their loyalty and concern for their enslavers, the Field family rewarded them with certain belongings, or perhaps these belongings were already granted to them, consistent with the story of Mr. Field caring for them and treating them like family. 

Furthering the point of the house having different inhabitants, it is unclear what items would have belonged to Mrs. Vinnie, or what items were in use before her. In the case of the bed frame pieces, for example, many possibilities exist. Perhaps the enslaved people here did have beds, and it was still there by the time she inhabited the cabin with her son. Perhaps Mrs. Vinnie and her son were given furniture or allowed to have it since slavery was no longer legal. Also, they did not move to the property until 1900. This raises the question of whether or not the cabin was empty from 1865 until then. Because the freed enslaved people still stopped by to check on the family, it is possible that some of them still lived on the property or stayed there during that time frame. It is also possible that the slave cabin could have been inhabited by other workers once Mrs. Vinnie and her son left. All of these possibilities add to the uncertainty of the artifacts found. 

Additionally, the relationship of the Union soldiers and the enslaved people is unclear. Surely, they served the soldiers, and a superior relationship was established, with the soldiers being the superior, but to what extent? If the enslaved people were, in fact, used to being treated like family, how did that relationship carry over to this added military relationship? Did the soldiers also find a special or familial relationship with the enslaved people, granting them certain belongings? It is interesting that military paraphernalia was found near the slave cabins. Documents state that the troops occupied the lower level of the house, but they could have very well spent time in and around the slave cabins. 

Another speculation adding to the material wealth of the enslaved people here, is that the Field family were wealthier than the typical enslaving family. As discussed earlier, Mr. Field inherited enslaved people. While the exact number of enslaved people that he inherited is not documented, it is known that the family had one hundred of them or more. In Georgia, only about 6,000 of the 41,000 enslavers had twenty or more enslaved people. These enslavers, Mr. Field included, were considered the elites of Georgia’s society and economy. Mr. Field came from a wealthy family and generated his own wealth through his company and success as a planter. Mrs. Field also came from a family associated with wealth, as her uncle was the ninth United States President, and her cousin, also the general who occupied the house, was the twenty third United States President. All of these are contributing factors to the family’s wealth, and perhaps to the testament that these enslaved people saw certain benefits from that wealth. 

All in all, there can be a number of reasons why the enslaved people living here had belongings that were not typical for them to have. There is not one solid answer to the question of such wealth, but instead a seemingly infinite number of possibilities that could have contributed to it. Regardless, the narrative of the enslaved people living at the Field-Conner home is unique in itself. The rich history of the house and its inhabitants is like no other known in North Georgia. Through studying the deep and intricate history of slavery in America, and elsewhere, it is important to look beyond the generalizations that are made about it, based on geographic location, an area’s economy, and so on. The life of an enslaved person on each plantation could greatly differ across the board, and had features that made it unique, even if compared to a neighboring plantation. The treatment of an enslaved person, the things that they had access to, their punishments, and their rewards were largely dependent on the nature of their enslaver.   



I would like to take this time to thank John Lewis, the current property owner of the Field-Conner home, for allowing an excavation of the property to take place, and for also allowing me to analyze the artifacts. I would also like to thank Alexis Carter-Callahan, the local historian, for her profound knowledge of the Field-Conner home, and the resources that she extended to me for use in this research. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my professor, Dr. Terry Powis, for his guidance and expertise throughout this research, and for also allowing me to work under his tutelage. Without these individuals, none of this would have been possible.  



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Walnut Grove and the Young Family

An Archival Study of Walnut Grove and the Young Family
A directed study under the supervision of Dr. Terry Powis at Kennesaw State University
By: Jennifer Billingsley


The Walnut Grove Plantation is situated near the confluence of the Etowah River and Pettit Creek in Cartersville, an area rich with history. The history of Walnut Grove is far-reaching into the past, beginning in the 1800s with the arrival of the family of Robert Maxwell Young from Spartanburg, South Carolina. As a location for the Kennesaw State University Archaeology Field School taught by Dr. Terry Powis, some basic knowledge about the property and family has previously been compiled with a focus on the Civil War, the possible role of the Walnut Grove property during the war, and Pierce Manning Butler Young, a son of Robert M. Young, who was a Major General in the Confederate Army. Although we have some details pertaining to the Young family and Walnut Grove, there are still many gaps in the information, such as when the property was purchased, why the Young’s chose to move to Cartersville, the location of buildings that previously stood on the property, and how the property was passed down through the generations. This research seeks to find those missing pieces of information through letters, deeds, property maps, and factual documentation about the lives of the entire family and their home of Walnut Grove. This research seeks to use that information to bring to life the history of Robert M. and Caroline Young and their descendants through nearly 200 years, as well as their home of Walnut Grove that has been passed down through generations to their great- great-grandchildren today.





My research consisted of online resources such as Ancestry.com, accessing public records at the Bartow County tax assessor’s office, research shared by the Etowah Valley Historical Society and the Bartow History Museum, historical books, and research at Walnut Grove Plantation.  The majority of the family lineage was researched through the use of Ancestry.com, an online heritage resource, with confirmation from the census records.  Beginning with what was known, the names of Robert Maxwell Young, Elizabeth Caroline Jones and the Walnut Grove house, as well as the origin point of Spartanburg, South Carolina, it was possible to trace the family history to the descendants currently living in Cartersville (Figure 1).

            Reading through the large collection of personal correspondence provided by the Etowah Valley Historical Society and the Bartow History Museum was beneficial in narrowing down specific events and occurrences in the daily lives of the Young family.  Many of the letters detailed Robert Young’s search for property through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, while others focused more on the details of daily life for the Young family, such as his role as a doctor, and schooling for the children.  Every piece of new information was vetted for authenticity, by validating where the information came from, and cross-checking the facts through online resources and historically accurate books such as History of Bartow County, Georgia, and The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War.  Detailed accountings of Civil War generals and maps showing troop movements were compared to determine the validity of troops occupying land at the Walnut Grove Plantation.

            The lineage from Robert Maxwell and Elizabeth Caroline Young to John L. Cummings III was successfully documented with accompanying dates (Figure 1).  Maps and first-hand accounts place the path of the Union army within an area of two miles or less of the Walnut Grove property during the Civil War (Figure 2).  Recorded deeds, legal documentation, and the will of Robert Young have established the passage of the Walnut Grove property through the hands of family members to present day.  Census records, personal correspondence, and legal documentation established Robert Young as one of few practicing doctors in the area, and a household that included approximately 11 enslaved Africans in 1860.  Correspondence from the Youngs document their desire to seek a home in a more lucrative area close to a river.  Photographs of the home in the 1800s and 1900s provide a comparison for the house as it stands today (Figure 3).


A Brief Synopsis

Robert Maxwell Young and Elizabeth Caroline Jones married in 1826 in Spartanburg, SC.  Following an exhaustive search by Robert, his father-in-law, and friends, the Youngs found property in what was Cherokee and then Cass County, Georgia.  They moved their four children Robert, George, Louisa, and Pierce, in the 1830s to Cartersville, Georgia.  The Young family built their home from lumber and bricks, materials both purchased and found on the property, and they named their home Walnut Grove due to the abundance of black walnut trees.  Robert was one of very few doctors in the area, and Elizabeth taught their children, took care of the peacocks, and ran the household.  Two of their sons and their daughter married, and all three of the sons fought for the Confederate Army.  When times became difficult after the devastation of the war, the Youngs turned to farming to survive.  Pierce went on to become the first Democratic congressman of Georgia after the war.  Additionally, P.M.B. Young represented Georgia in multiple Democratic Conventions, as a commissioner to the Paris Exposition, and was appointed consul general to Russia, as well as minister to Guatemala and Honduras.  The daughter, Louisa, married Thomas Jones, Jr., and they had 5 children.  Their daughter, Louise married J. C. Milner, and had 3 children.  Their daughter Ella married a man named John Cummings, and they had a son named John “Skip” Cummings Jr.  The home is currently held in trust for the son of John “Skip” Cummings Jr., John L Cummings III.


Here is where their story begins

Robert Maxwell Young was born June 5, 1798, one of 13 children born to William Young and Mary Solomons in Greenville, SC.  His future bride, Elizabeth Caroline Jones, was born November 28, 1808, one of 11 children born to George Washington Jones, Jr. and Elizabeth Caroline Mills in Laurens County, SC.  Robert pursued a medical degree and graduated medical school in 1821.  Robert and Caroline, as she often went by her middle name, married in 1826 and lived in Spartanburg, SC.  Though newly married, the couple were already planning for their future home, and contacted a builder for a quote to build a brick house (Figure 4).  Unfortunately, life as a doctor in Spartanburg, SC was not very lucrative, and the couple decided to look for new land further south. During the 1830s in the south, land was being auctioned or sold in the land lottery.  Robert began an exhaustive search, with friends, and also with his father-in-law, focusing their search in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  There are numerous letters written in Robert’s hand to his wife, Caroline, telling of his travels.  Several letters, spanning three years, mention various accountings in the Southeast:  February 13, 1833 from Marion, Alabama he speaks of the weather and difficulty in searching for property; April 9, 1834, he describes visiting his family in Decatur, GA; and October 24, 1835 visiting his family in Lawrenceville, GA.  Correspondence by Robert to Caroline in November 20, 1835 from Columbus, Mississippi, he writes of a business arrangement to purchase land:

“Mr. Henry, Mr. Bobo, and myself, have entered into a large company to purchase land.  There are about one hundred men belonging to the concern.  Each of us have put in $500, and agree to sell the land which we purchase for cash in a few days.  We do not expect to realize a great profit from this operation, but have no doubt but it was the best step that we could have taken” (R. M. Young, personal correspondence, November 20, 1835).   

 A follow-up letter to his wife nine days later, Robert confirms that he, Mr. Bobo, and Mr. Henry purchased land totaling 10,000 acres in Columbus, Mississippi, and planned to hold onto the property for one to three years, then sell it for profit.  With his business concluded for the time being, he states that he will begin the 15-17 day travel home to Spartanburg, SC (R.M. Young, personal correspondence, November 29, 1835).    Robert mentions in a letter to Caroline November 10, 1835, that he is looking specifically for large property near a river, and he focused his search with that in mind.  Traveling by horse was time consuming and difficult, and he often found that by the time he arrived in an area, the best lands had previously been claimed.  He wrote often to his wife E. Caroline during his travels, but as she was not an avid writer, many of his letters told of his despair in not receiving a response:

“Our fare is intolerably bad, and proving worse every day.  The number of persons here is so great, and increasing daily, that I have some doubts whether the tavern keepers will be able to hold out in furnishing a plentiful provisions for them.  I hope and trust that we shall be able to leave this in a few days.  I never was more completely tired of a place in my life.  I have been strangely neglected or have been peculiarly unfortunate in receiving letters since I arrived here.  Mr. Henry, & Bobo get letters almost every mail.  I am almost ashamed to go to the post office.  I have enquired so often & been disappointed in receiving letters that I have almost lost the fond belief that I am remembered at Spartanburg.  But this is a painful reflection give my love to George, Robert, Louisa & believe me your affectionate husband.” (R.M. Young, personal correspondence, November 20, 1835).


  When Caroline did write to Robert and to various members of her family in White Oak, Rutherford, NC, she spoke of their children Robert, George, Louisa, and Pierce.  Included in her correspondence were details of daily life.  In one letter she tells her husband of a mishap of Louisa’s, when a chair fell and hit her in the eye. In another letter, dated February 22, 1838 from her family’s home at White Oak, she speaks of their youngest, Pierce, taking his first steps, “Little Pierce has just commenced to walking and is in better health than I have ever seen him” (Figure 6).  She continues on to tell of her concern for Robert’s safety, “… while you are in that country”, and states, “….I have no doubt but the practice of the rail road will be very profitable to you, if you should get the appointment alone.” (E.C. Young, personal communication, February 22, 1838).     

Though the exact details of the land purchase are unclear, Robert and Caroline became the owners of 50 acres of land in what was Cherokee County, Georgia.  The accounting of how that 50 acres of land became a grand estate amongst boxwoods, hickory nut and stately walnut trees was later written following an interview with three of the Young’s granddaughters, by Francis Elizabeth Adair, whose family lived nearby and founded Adairsville, once an Indian settlement called Oothcalooga village.  Adair describes the area as, “….a sloping knoll on the banks of the Petits Creek three miles southwest of C’ville near the Etowah River….” (F.E. Adair, personal notes, date unknown).  She goes on to describe Robert’s initial arrival, “….in a caravan of covered wagons arrived here and took up his abode in the story and a ½ log hut of an Indian Chief….on the banks of Pettit’s Creek.”  She writes of his being the only physician between Cartersville and Rome, which made his medical practice very lucrative while he also oversaw the work by the enslaved Africans to clear 50 acres of growth near the river, where they then planted cotton.  After clearing land and planting, Young turned his attention to the building of his home, the completion of which would allow his wife and four young children, Robert, George, Louisa, and Pierce, to join him in Georgia.  He is said to have hired twenty-five Irishmen for the approximately two-year undertaking of building the colonial red brick house with a balcony over the front porch of which he had dreamed.  Robert insisted all of the building materials be made from resources located on the property.  The lumber for the home was made mostly from the walnut trees, and clay for the bricks was gathered from the banks of the creek.  Wooden pegs and square nails made of iron crafted in the blacksmith shop were used in assembling the structure.  The bricks were dried in a kiln on the grounds, and lime was burnt and used as mortar between the homemade bricks.  Much of the furniture was made from their walnut trees, by a man named Vital, who unfortunately drowned in the Etowah River during his employment.  After two years of work, the stately home of “Walnut Grove” was complete and named for the abundance of walnut trees used in the building and surrounding the home.

Other structures erected on the property alongside the home were a stable, barn, carriage house, and smoke house, all of which remain standing today (Figure 5).  Once built, but no longer present were log cabins to house the approximately 13-28 enslaved Africans that were with the Young’s at Walnut Grove prior to the Civil War.  The cabins were built in rows, with one family per cabin, numbering eight or more cabins.  There was a woman who “weaved” and made cloth for clothing.  One of the African women, “Aunt Satirah” was a nanny, and lived to be 100 years old, before she was laid to rest nearby. 

Dated in 1838, a letter from Thomas Hamilton to Robert speaks of tending to a patient of Young’s while he is away, treating the boy “Billy” for cataracts, and of the return of a runaway.  Mr. Hamilton speaks of the state of the crops at Walnut Grove, stating, “The crops of wheat and oats had languished much, are reviving and now promise a pretty fair crop except in such wheat as has been injured by late frosts” (Thomas Hamilton, personal correspondence, April 29, 1838).  A relative of Caroline’s, Georgianna Jones, writes from Greenville to Caroline that she is happy to hear Caroline is “….pleased with your new home” (Georgianna Jones, personal correspondence, February 8, 1839), and in 1843 in a letter from Caroline to her brother, Caroline mentions living in a log cabin, and in a seemingly homesick letter from Louisa in Greenville, to her brother Robert, she says, “I am very anxious to see you all and would give all to be this night in Georgia in our old log house with you all” (Louisa J. Young, personal correspondence, February 14, 1846).  Robert wrote to Caroline’s brother, Thomas, in 1846 that:

“….my family have, part of them, been very ill, Caroline and Pierce both have had severe spells of fever, and both relapsed, they are better now I am happy to inform you, both up and recouping quite fast.  I have done a very heavy practice this season, & I hope it is about closed, this is the first day for the last 60 that I have not had frequent calls, this day not one.  I have been uncommonly successful, I have not lost one patient that I have treated.  I have treated over 100 cases of fever….” (R. Young, personal correspondence, September 27, 1846).

            Robert continues in his letter that their sons Robert and George are off at a good school, 15 miles away, and they will be sending Louisa to school soon, possibly to Mont Peleiar, one of the earliest in the state to admit girls.  Robert writes,

“I am doing every thing in my power to get Robert in at West Point, he is very desirous to go.  He will make a good scholar if he has the opportunity.  George is somewhat disposed to study medicine, he might make a good doctor, but he has a hard dislike to hard study.  He is, however studying pretty well, but he loves farming far better.  I don’t know how we are to get Pierce educated, his Mother can’t spare him nor can he spare his Mother, I expect that I shall have to board them both out for it seems that we never can have a school in the neighborhood.”

Within various correspondence was also discovered an unsigned note addressed to Dr. Young, dating to August 24, 1846, confirming that school fees for George and Robert will be paid by bacon, ham, lard, flour, and cornmeal.  By 1850, George was 22 years of age, and had completed his medical degree becoming a physician despite his love of farming.  Walnut Grove grew to encompass 800 acres of land, with 500 acres considered “improved land”, and the crops were wheat, rye, corn, and oats.  Between the ages of 13 and 14, the youngest child, Pierce, left home to attend Georgia Military Institute in Marietta, GA. He graduated in 1856, briefly studying law, before being appointed to the United States Military Academy and attending West Point in New York in 1857. During that time, his older brother, Robert Butler, married Josephine Florida Hill in Walton, Georgia, January, 12, 1853. 

            While at West Point, Pierce writes home to his family about his growing difficulties being a southern student in a northern school when tensions are rising, and his concerns about a coming war between the north and south.  In one letter, he writes that he will stay as long as possible at the school, though he fears he will be forced to leave soon before difficulties become more severe.  While national tensions were rising, Louisa married Thomas Foster Jones, Jr. September 11, 1860 (Figure 7), and her brother George married Virginia Lamar and moved to nearby Resaca in 1860.  In January 1861, Georgia’s secession from the Union brought Pierce home just two months before graduating, believing it to be the safest course, and desiring to join the Confederate Army (Figure 8).  In a letter from George to his father in March of 1861, George advised Robert that it would possibly be in the family’s best interest to find somewhere safe away from Walnut Grove due to concerns of war and movements of the armies, and to leave the overseer, Jim Honnon in charge. Robert Butler, George, and Pierce joined different regiments in the Confederate Army in 1861.  George became a surgeon in the 14th regiment, and Pierce was appointed Second Lieutenant in the artillery, then promoted to First Lieutenant.  In July, Pierce was appointed as adjunct to “Cobb’s Legion” and in September was promoted to Major, then to Lieutenant Colonel in November in command of the cavalry of the legion.  George made his way to West Virginia with his regiment, but was killed in battle September 20, 1861, leaving behind his wife, Virginia, and four children: Sarah “Carrie” Caroline, George William, Jr., “Bud”, and Lafayette Lamar.  Robert Butler was a part of Nelson’s 10th Texas Infantry Regiment.  The regiment was captured at Arkansas Post in 1863, their first major battle, then exchanged three months later before they were joined with two additional regiments to Patrick Cleburne.  The regiment fought at Chickamauga and Ringgold Gap before once again becoming independent and fighting in the Atlanta Campaign, then at Franklin in 1864.  On November 30, 1864, Colonel Robert Butler died of wounds received in battle at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee.  Robert left behind his wife Josephine, and two daughters Maddie and Ida. 

Pierce continued on with the Confederate Army, recognized for “remarkable gallantry” and promoted to Colonel, before participating in the Gettysburg campaign as cavalry operations.  In August of 1863, Pierce was wounded when he took a ball to the chest, but the ball did not penetrate the chest.  He spent his recovery in Richmond, then was promoted to Brigadier General in October. In December of the same year, he was promoted to Major General while he was actively engaged in the 1865 campaign in the Carolinas.  In a letter Louisa wrote from Walnut Grove to her husband Tom, she told him, “….there is a prospect of our soon being rid of all the refugees” referring to several families that were boarding with them, she also mentions her brother Robert is “….suffering intensely from the heart” and fears he will die soon (Louisa Y. Jones, personal correspondence, May 28, 1863).  Following Pierce’s wounding, there was another letter from “Lula” (Louisa) to her husband Tom in which she tells him the nature of Pierce’s injury and his convalescence in Richmond.  

During the years of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops relied heavily on the utilization of the railroads to move troops, munitions, and supplies.  Therefore, the few rail lines in existence at that time were of great importance to both sides.  Troop movements could often be tracked by proximity to active lines, one of the most prominent being the Western and Atlantic Railroad, founded in December of 1836, running from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Marietta, Georgia for a total of 119 miles, with line and name changes at both the north and south ends.  During the war, an extension was added from the Cooper’s Furnace Ironworks, across the Etowah River to the Etowah station (Figure 9).  This railroad was made famous during the Great Locomotive Chase in April of 1862, during which it crossed the Etowah River several miles to the east of the Young property (Figure 10). The extension of the railroad was destroyed during the war and was not rebuilt.  Due to the proximity of the rail line and nearby waters of the Etowah River and Pettit Creek, it has been suggested that troop movements likely crossed the Young property  or possibly remained there for a time.  In a hand drawn map of pencil, blue ink, and red ink, of the Etowah River spanning from Rome to Cartersville, showing possible river crossings and difficult terrain, Pettit Creek is clearly marked near to Rowland’s Ferry (Figure 11).  Also marked is what appears to be troop movements, showing passage close to, or through, the Young property.  Maps of the movements of the Union Army, the Army of the Ohio, reflect paths crossing the Etowah River to the east of the Young property, but within approximately two miles.  An accounting of Lieutenant-General Joseph Wheeler of Georgia from the pages of “The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War”, from May 24, 1864, 7AM,  “Not knowing the force guarding the train (at Cass Station)….I attacked with Kelly’s division, using one regiment to guard its right flank on the Kingston Road.”  He continues, recounting the details of burning the enemy’s wagons, and the enemy becoming frightened enough to, “….burn a considerable train below Cass Station, and also similarly, destroyed a quantity of commissary stores recently brought to that point for transportation.” (La Bree, et al., p. 264).  Wheeler details how he ordered the Eighth Texas and Second Tennessee to meet a rapidly advancing opposing force, and they drove them back, capturing more than 100 prisoners in the process.  “I had previously detached a regiment to cut the railroad, and having, from the prisoners, citizens and personal observation, learned all regarding the enemy, I withdrew quietly toward the river, crossing with my prisoners, wagons, mules, horses, etc.” (La Bree, et al., p. 265).

After the war, Pierce returned home to Walnut Grove, intending to become a farmer.  In 1868, he was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served four terms as a Democrat, 1868-1875.  After a defeat for a fifth term, he was appointed in 1878 as a United States commissioner to the Paris Exposition.  After Paris, Pierce was appointed consul-general to St. Petersburg, Russia from 1885-1887, and then as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Guatemala and Honduras from 1893-1896. 

On January 9, 1872, Robert M. Young had his last will and testament drawn up, stating that he was, “….being of sound mind, but advanced in age and infirm in body….” Naming his only remaining son, Pierce as the executor of his will, and specifying him to hold in trust for Caroline, “…..my plantation lying in the forks of Pettits Creek and Etowah River containing 560 acres more or less….” (Last Will and Testament of Robert Maxwell Young, January 9, 1872).  Robert Maxwell Young passed away on January 13, 1880, at the age of 82 in Bartow County, the official cause listed as “paralysis”.  He was survived by his wife Caroline, son Pierce, daughter Louisa, and 12 grandchildren.  Robert’s wife, Caroline, followed him in death, four short years later, at the age of 78. 

In the years following his parents’ death, while Pierce was away for his appointed positions, he contracted to lease out portions of the property and buildings at Walnut Grove.  In October of 1885, one such contract between P.M.B. Young and James C. Waldrip outlined details for Young to rent a portion of the farm west of the watering place on the creek, south to the river, containing 200 acres, more or less.  The land was leased specifying it was for cultivating for one to three years.  Also included in the contract was a tenant house and outbuildings, west of the dwelling house with two acres and the portion of land from the old stables to the old cabins including the cabins amounting to three acres.  Pierce also included three rooms in the dwelling house for sleeping apartments and the large cellar under the east end of the dwelling.  The agreed upon payment would be $900.00 (Figure 12).   

In their lifetime, Louisa and Thomas raised six children before they passed at 70 and 67 years old, respectively: Caroline “Carrie”, Emily “Emmie”, Thomas Jr., Mary “Mamie”, Louisa “Loulie”, and Virginia “Ginnie”.  Loulie grew up and married James Christian Milner in 1902 at 29 years of age.  Loulie and James had five children: an infant son, Louise, James Jr., Ella, and Lula.  Sadly, only three of their children lived to adulthood, the infant son not surviving childbirth, and Lula who passed away before she was a year old.  Louisa passed at the age of 44, the same year as Lula, and James lived to 1940, passing at age 60.  Their daughter Ella married John L. Cummings, and from that marriage came John L. “Skip” Cummings, Jr., and Martha Jean.  Skip married, and the couple had two children, who will one day inherit the stately home of Walnut Grove. 

The elegance and history at Walnut Grove are apparent, at a single glimpse of the stately plantation home amongst the black walnut trees.  One can almost see the colorful plumage of the peacocks and hear their raucous greeting calls, alerting family that visitors have arrived, much as they did in the 1800s.  The Young family was one that knew adversity, happiness, challenges, and uncertainty. Yet, through it all the family persevered, survived, and thrived, just as their descendants continue to do today, inside the same walls built under the direction of Robert Maxwell Young over 183 years ago, and amongst the same black walnut trees that gave the stately manor house its moniker.  Although reliable information regarding Walnut Grove during and immediately following the Civil War is scarce, the simple fact is that the sturdiness of the Young family and the home they built have withstood the test of time, and the walls still have many stories to tell, for those who are willing to listen.   

Figure 1

Young Family Genealogy 

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

         Figure 6

Figure 7

Parents of P M B Young

 Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 12

Land lease contract


This research would have not been possible without the advisement, resources and educational expertise of Dr. Terry Powis. Additionally, I would like to thank the Cummings family for providing knowledge pertaining to the family and property, and for letting KSU students dig on their private property for the past few years. I would also like to thank Joe Head of the Etowah Valley Historical Society and Trey Gaines of the Bartow History Museum for allowing me to use their collected research and for providing their expertise pertaining to the history of the area.

***All historical documentation, artifacts, and historical belongings reside at Kennesaw State University.  Walnut Grove remains a privately-owned home.
















Adairsville City Page




Year: 1880; Census Place: Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas; Roll: 54; Page: 287A; Enumeration   District: 142

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Cartersville, Bartow, Georgia; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0023; FHL microfilm: 2340072

Year: 1940; Census Place: Cartersville, Bartow, Georgia; Roll: m-t0627-00638; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 8-8B


Census Records, Cass/Bartow County. 



Cunyus, Lucy Josephine.  2001.  History of Bartow County, Georgia Formerly Cass.  Greenville: Southern Historical Press.


Kurtz, Wilbur G. and Dave Joswick

 http://andrewsraid.com/routelrg.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18004436



La Bree, Ben, et al. 1895.  Confederate Soldier in the Civil War 1861-1865.  Louisville: Courier-Journal Printing Company.


Library of Congress.  https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3924r.cws00081/?r=0.617,0.326,0.513,0.338,0


United States Federal Census Bureau in accordance with the National Archives


Patriotism and Place: Community, Commemoration, and Confederate Identity in Civil War Bartow County

By Matthew Gramling

The namesake  of a community can provide profound insights into the communal identity of its early residents and their relationship to the landscape in which they lived. Place names often describe a topographical feature, signify a kinship relationship to a particular locale, or commemorate a person, place, or event which is seen as being particularly representative of a community’s character.[1] This has been especially true in the history of Bartow County and its former county seat of Cassville. Amidst the dramatic opening events of the Civil War, both county and town underwent a dynamic process of renaming.

When the county and county seat were established in 1832, it was decided that both should be named in honor of President Jackson’s Secretary of War Gen. Lewis Cass.[2] Cass was an esteemed Democratic politician from Michigan and a major proponent of Indian removal. As such, he was exceptionally popular among Georgians who were eager to seize Cherokee lands. The people of Cassville and Cass County would continue to hold Cass in high regard throughout the antebellum era. The editors of the Cassville Standard would routinely include letters, addresses, news, and approving editorials about Gen. Cass in their weekly issues. They even strongly endorsed a nomination of Cass as the Democratic candidate for the 1856 presidential election.[3]

Lewis Cass

With the outbreak of the secession crisis in the winter of 1860, Cass’ popularity would begin to wane. During his long political career, Cass had earned a reputation as a political moderate and advocate of sectional compromise.[4] But, he was also an ardent Unionist who dismissed secession as unconstitutional and believed that decisive action must be taken in order that the Union be preserved. Cass’s desire for decisive action would eventually lead him into conflict with President Buchanan in whose Cabinet he had been serving as Secretary of State. For weeks, Cass had tried to convince Buchanan to reinforce federal fortification in Charleston harbor. Cass believed that without reinforcements federal garrisons would not be able to withstand secessionist attempts to seize the forts. Buchanan refused Cass’ appeals and on December 18 Cass resigned in protest.[5]

As the secession crisis turned into open civil war, Cass would demonstrate his strong support for the Union cause. In a speech delivered before a Union meeting in Detroit just after the Confederate siege of Ft. Sumter, Cass expressed his desire “to do all I can to manifest the deep interest I feel in the restoration to peace and good order and submission to the law of every portion of this glorious Republic.”[6]

Such pro-Union statements did not engender Cass praise from Confederate supporters in Cass County. Therefore, in the fall of 1861, county leaders drafted legislation to provide the county and Cassville with new names which reflected their new identity as part of the fledgling Confederate nation. With the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861, patriotic sentiment in Georgia was at high tide. Yet, this victory came at a price for Georgians who suffered their first high-ranking casualty of the Civil War–Col. Francis Stebbins Bartow.[7] Bartow had distinguished himself as a congressman in the Georgia General Assembly and was among the Georgia delegates sent to the Montgomery Convention of the Provisional Congress of Confederate States in February 1861.[8] He was also captain of Savannah’s elite Oglethorpe Light Infantry and when the Civil War began he volunteered their services to the Confederate war effort.[9] Bartow rushed his “Oglethorpes” to the front in Virginia where he was elected Colonel of the Eight Georgia Infantry Regiment.[10]

Francis Stebbins Bartow

By July 1861, he was commanding the Second Brigade of the Confederate Army of the Shenandoah which he would lead into battle at First Manassas.[11] On July 21, 1861, the Battle of First Manassas commenced.[12] After taking a meandering course to reinforce the Confederate line’s extreme left, Bartow’s Brigade engaged the Union enemy. As the battle raged, Bartow would have his horse shot out from under him and on several occasions he would have to take up the regimental banner to rally his troops after the color-bearer had been killed.[13]At a critical juncture in the battle, Bartow would fall after being shot through the heart while leading an assault on Capt. James B. Rickett’s Union battery.[14] As he lay dying, Bartow is reputed to have exhorted his troops stating, “They have killed me boys, but never give up the field.”[15] Bartow’s troops would heed this final order of their fallen commander and capture Rickett’s battery, thereby helping to secure a decisive Confederate victory over the Federal forces.

Never Give Up the Field by Don Troiani

After the battle, his body was recovered and prepared for transportation south for burial. Bartow’s death was mourned throughout the entire Confederacy. Upon receiving news of his passing, the Confederate Congress broke from their regular session to eulogize their fallen colleague.[16] Bartow’s casket also lay in the Confederate capitol at Richmond before being shipped to Savannah for burial in Laurel Grove Cemetery with the full military honors.[17] Additionally, he would be posthumuously breveted to the rank of brigadier general.  His naitive Georgia would feel his loss keenly and would go to considerable lengths to memorialize his sacrifice. Newspapers throughout the state would praise Bartow for his gallantry and leadership.[18] Several Georgia military companies would name themselves in his honor.[19] But, the greatest tribute he would receive was from the people of Cassville and Cass County who would commemorate Bartow’s memory by renaming their county and county seat in his honor.[20]

Francis S. Bartow Memorial at Forsyth Park in Savannah

The process of renaming would prove a unique episode in the history of Cass County. Two of the leading figures behind the drive for renaming the community were the Hon. Warren Akin and Hon. Samuel Sheats, who were serving as Cass County’s state representatives at the 1861 session of the Georgia General Assembly at the state capital of Milledgeville. On November 9, Sheats introduced a bill to the Georgia House of Representatives which would begin the transition. The bill proposed to change the name of Cass County to Bartow, and the name of Cassville to Francis.[21] This proposal was received with great applause by members of the House.[22] On November 13, the bill was taken up and amended at the suggestion of representatives Lester, Whittle, and Black.[23] Hon. Black amended the bill so as to substitute Bartowville for Francis as Cassville’s new name.[24] The amendment was approved and the bill was passed ‘with a rising vote’ and sent to the Georgia Senate.[25]

Hon. Warren Akin, Sr.

Meanwhile in Cassville, a number of the town’s major institutions were closely following the House debate over the town’s new name and took  measures to reflect the proposed change. In particular, the Cassville Female College would temporarily rename itself  the Bartowville Female College to reflect the town’s new civic identity.[26]These changes would only last a few weeks. For when the bill was received by the Senate an alternative name would be proposed

On November 30th, the Senate took up the bill where it became apparent that not everyone in Cassville was happy with the name change. Just before Hon. D.R. Mitchell took up the bill for amendment, a communication by Hon. Akin and Sheats was read which stated they had addressed their constituents regarding the renaming process and found a significant portion of them were opposed to the change.[27] Whether this opposition was rooted in a residual Unionism among a portion of the Cass County populace is difficult to ascertain. However, Akin and Sheats made their case to their constituents “why no foot of soil in Georgia should, in their judgment, bear the name of Lewis Cass.”[28] They also stated that they would press the bill to its passage in opposition to the fairly expressed will of their people.”[29] Despite this communication, the bill was taken up for amendment with Mitchell proposing to substitute Manassa[s] for Bartowville.[30] The bill was passed and sent for final approval to the House, which passed it with no further amendment and a resolution was drafted requesting the Postmaster General of the Confederate States to change the name of the Cassville post office to Manassas.[31] The bill would finally be signed into law as an act on December 6th, 1861.[32] As part of its final form, the Act contained a preamble which provided a brief summary justifying the name changes of Cass County and Cassville. The preamble condemned Lewis Cass as an inveterate Unionist bent on subjugating the South by whatever means necessary, thereby becoming “unworthy of the honor conferred by the naming of said county.”[33] The preamble also commended Bartow who gallantly died for his country while bravely leading his men in battle on the “Manassas Plains.”[34] By renaming the community after Bartow, its leaders would hand down his name and cause his “memory to live ever green in the hearts of succeeding generations.”[35]

Cassville Courthouse Historic Marker

            Cassville would retain its new name of Manassas throughout the Civil War.[36] But with Union victory in April 1865, the Federal Postmaster General would have the name changed back to Cassville. Only Cass County’s new name commemorating Col. Bartow would survive the flames of war and the restoration of the Union.


End Notes/Footnotes 

[1]Some excellent local examples of these kinds of place names are Red Top Mountain, Pettit Creek, and Cartersville.

[2]Joseph B. Mahan, A History of Old Cassville (Cartersville: Etowah Valley Historical Society, 2006), 1.

[3]Thomas A. Burke and William T. Wofford, ed. “General Cass Nominated for President.” Cassville Standard, March 22,1855.

[4]Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation (Kent: Kent State University Press, 1996), 307.

[5]Klunder, Lewis Cass, 305

[6]Proceedings in Congress Upon the Acceptance of the Statue of Lewis Cass Presented by the State of Michigan (Washington: Government Printing House, 1889), 91.

[7] Bartow was also the first Confederate brigade commander to be killed in the Civil War.

[8]W. T. Groce. “Francis S. Bartow (1816-1861).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 09 September 2014. Web. 13 May 2020.

[9]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[10]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[11]Clement A. Evans, ed. Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History Written by Distinguished Men of the South, Volume 6. (Honolulu: University of the Pacific, 2004), 64. The Second Brigade was composed of the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Georgia Regiments of Infantry.

[12]The Battle of First Manassas is also sometimes known as the Battle of First Bull Run.

[13]Warren Wilkinson and Steven E, Woodworth. A Scythe of Fire: A Civil War Story of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment (New York: William Morrow, 2002), 84.

[14]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[15]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[16] Proceedings of the Congress on the Announcement of the Death of Col. Francis S. Bartow, of the Army of the Confederate States, and Late a Delegate in the Congress, from the State of Georgia (Richmond: Enquirer Book and Job Press, 1861), 4-5.

[17] Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[18] “A Georgian at Bull Run/First Manassas,” The DLG B, accessed May 13, 2020.https://blog.dlg.galileo.usg.edu/?p=2416.

[19] Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[20]Groce. “Francis S. Bartow.”

[21]R.M. Orme and Son, ed., “County Name Changed.” Southern Recorder, November 12, 1861.

[22] Orme and Son, ed., “County Name Changed.” Southern Recorder, November 12, 1861.

[23] Lester, of Cobb; Whittle, of Bibb; Black, of Floyd.

[24] Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Georgia at the Annual Session of the General Assembly Commenced at Milledgeville, November 6th, 1861. (Milledgeville: Boughton, Nisbet, & Barnes, State Printers, 1861), 54.

[25] Journal of the House of Representatives, 83.

[26]Minutes of the Georgia Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South Held at Atlanta, November 27-December 3 (Macon: Burke, Boykin & Co., 1861), 5.

[27]James W. Jones and William S. Jones, “Georgia Legislature.” Augusta Weekly Chronicle and  Sentinel, December 10, 1861.

[28] Jones, “Georgia Legislature.”

[29] Jones, “Georgia Legislature.”

[30] Journal of the Senate of the State of Georgia at the Annual Session of the General Assembly, Begun and Held at Milledgeville, the Seat of Government in 1861. (Milledgeville: Boughton, Nisbet, & Barnes, State Printers, 1861), 187.

[31] Journal of the House of Representatives,250.

[32] Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, passed in Milledgeville, at an annual session November and December 1861. Published by authority. (Milledgeville: Boughton, Nisbet, & Barnes, State Printers, 1861), 101.

[33] Acts of the General Assembly, 101

[34] Acts of the General Assembly, 101.

[35] Acts of the General Assembly, 101

[36] Some confusion would however persist about the town’s name among newspaper editors as evinced by the February 12, 1865 issue of the Columbus Times.

Cartersville’s COVID Chronicles

April 2020                         by  Debbie and Joe Head

The Show Will Go On

In 2020, Bartow County, along with the rest of the nation, added a chapter to our local heritage as the community navigated its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. This article is intended to provide a snapshot of the health data for the county and activities that seemed to demonstrate a variety of ways of coping with the pandemic and not to draw conclusions or outcomes. The period observed was from March 7 through April 30, 2020.

As the photograph of the Grand Theatre marquis states, “This is only an intermission, the show will go on,” says it best. This article is written as testimony of how Cartersville and Bartow County co-existed with COVID 19.

At the close of 2019, the world was first alerted of an obscure viral threat emerging from Wuhan, China. Early reports suppressed the potential of this virus becoming a pandemic, but by the end of January 2020 the reality of a global plague became real and dangerously present in Bartow County. The world was in an official pandemic. The first countries hardest hit were China, Italy, Spain and eventually the USA. No hemisphere was exempt from some degree of infection and death.


 The following is an informal graphic and snapshot of the daily impact the epidemic had on Cartersville and Bartow County. It is important to remember how this novel virus specifically unfolded and affected our community regarding daily life. Perhaps even more vital were the pace, number of cases, confirmed infections and deaths in relation to state and national morbidity comparisons. 

Cumulative and New cases over time.

It is imperative that local pandemic data be tracked and recorded even if only as an anecdotal reference for archival purposes. This work is intended as an informal attempt to document Bartow’s COVID 19 experience including data and narrative that describes the times as they unfolded.

The first diagnosed case of Bartow COVID-19 appeared at the Cartersville Medical Center around March 11 and was traced to a choir celebration held at the Church at Liberty Square on March 1 and March 8. Soon other cases surfaced from the same event. Even local state legislators were infected with the virus and were quarantined, one in a hospital; the other at home. Bartow jumped out early in the state’s statistics ranking in the top three counties regarding cases for the first month as reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Locals quickly realized that we were truly “in this together” if we were to avoid wide spread fatal consequences.  As a result, citizens willingly sheltered in, practiced social distancing, disinfected and took other precautions to overcome the spread.

The occurrence of new cases reported daily was a continual warning and metric with which local leaders made their decisions.  New cases reported in Bartow County are reflected in the chart below. Data reflected on a Saturday to Saturday basis over a 6-week period shows the number positive cases that were reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health.


As the county and state saw an increase in confirmed cases, medical officials began to recommend preventative measures to slow the spread of the virus. At first schools, churches and theaters were asked to voluntarily close. As the virus took a deeper hold, local officials and the governor announced further measures mandating the closure of non-essential businesses and insisting the public limit social contact, trips to stores and begin to self-quarantine. 

Watching for new positive cases in Bartow

Eventually, Governor Brian Kemp, Bartow county commissioner Steve Taylor and Cartersville city mayor Matt Santini announced a shut down for 30 days and extensions were possible as information from state and federal data were provided. The county issued a shelter-at-home recommendation around March 12. (The state’s shelter at home regulation began on April 3, was scheduled to last through April 30, with an extension to May 13 for seniors and those with comprised health issues.)

Social distancing (physical separation) of at least six feet became the standard between individuals. As the federal government and state officials debated best practices to suppress the virus, much confusion existed within the community on how to cope. The question about the efficacy of the public wearing facial coverings became a heated issue among health professionals and the laymen. Approved personal protective equipment (PPE) such as medical gowns, gloves and masks were in acute short supply. Officials did not want citizens rushing to buy up vital supplies that were critical to health care personnel.


 Soon local citizens began to feel the weight of the shutdown. Sheltering in became restrictive, boredom set in for many and cabin fever soon surfaced among all communities. Restaurants were closed to in-store dining; barbers and salons were closed; gyms, schools, churches and theaters closings were extended; and local businesses such as bakeries, banks, garages and grocery stores reduced hours. Stores often provided antibacterial hand sanitizers or wipes at the counters.  The price of gasoline plunged to historic lows as a result of a reduced need to drive and an unexpected crude oil dispute between Russia and the Middle East.

Bartow citizens soon began to respond and adjust lifestyles to accommodate the mandates and avoid possible infections. Senior citizens took the threat more seriously as they were at greater risk and lived in a self defined “protective bubble.”  Downtown traffic became noticeably thin throughout the day. People were discouraged from attending group events, funerals, weddings, parties or workout classes. Such events found alternative means to deliver programs via internet streaming content, drive by birthday celebrations or simply postponing the program.  The local museums offered virtual tours via YouTube and online art classes through Facebook Live.

Creative drive-bys for various occasions were often seen in neighborhood yards.
Drive by parades for all types of celebrations

Locals stepped up to the challenge and found alternatives to a former normal and began a new normal of living. Many people tackled delayed tasks at home and started cleaning out garages, closets, attics, storage buildings and doing yard work chores. Goodwill announced that they would be closing until further notice as they had accepted all the donations possible for their capacity.

Fast food drive-through models were adopted by unexpected businesses. Some full service restaurants made the decision to close, but others chose to offer call-in and delivery or carry out service to keep employees in place. Eateries without drive through facilities such as Bobby’s Burgers resorted to 1950’s Happy Days curb service hiring cooks, curb hops and taking orders at the car. Firehouse Subs cleared dining tables and posted signs to respect social distancing. Longhorn and Applebee’s restaurants set up curbside pickup stations.

Longhorn curbside pickup with safety measures   
All Star Barber Shop complies with regulations.




Empty shelves, curbside pick ups and take out are the new normal

Delivery services as Doordash and Instacart saw a spike in business by shopping at grocery stores such as Ingles and Publix and food delivery from restaurants. Grocery stores offered on-line ordering service with delivery, parking lot pick up and senior shopping hours. The Cartersville Country Club kept the golf course open and offered a daily menu for pick up to its membership.

Proud parents celebrated curbside “in-abstentia”  graduation tributes for the senior class of 2020.  While other parents reached back to pioneer days and learned to “home school” their children first hand around the kitchen table, but enjoying the convenience of modern technology.  Military fly overs saluted our health care professionals at the Cartersville Medical Center by Blue Angels and C 130’s.

Graduation yard signs and 2020 tribute portraits at CHS campus







C 130 flyover at Cartersville Medical Center

County Commissioner Steve Taylor and Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini paused to honor doctors, nurses and staff at the Cartersville Medical Center on May 12 for their courageous service during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Officials honor hospital medical staff







Covid test nasal swabs

Using a drive through model, Bartow County Health Department conducted COVID 19 tests at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.  

4 Way Lunch, Ross’s Diner and other family owned business shifted to serve pick up meals to go. 


Scott’s Walk-up BBQ served take out service throughout the quarantine.










School lunches were delivered during the shelter-in-place order

Public schools continued to provide the lunch program and bussed meals to the established bus stops for student pick up. Most churches such as Sam Jones Methodist, Crosspoint City and others began to deliver weekly sermons via on-line video on social media sites and their own websites. The practice of home – schooling rose in families as local schools were forced to offer on-line alternatives to the students.  Stories of teachers doing motivational drive-bys to student homes were posted on social media sites.

People began to sport homemade facial masks if they visited stores, banks, post offices, etc. Churches such as Ascension Episcopal and First Presbyterian offered daily drive by pick up meals for those in need. 

EVHS Member Judy Kilgore and daughter made 200 + masks.

Being homebound, people began to binge watch Netflix, Hulu and other streaming options. Many streaming services provided free programs to children and families including educational, physical activities, cooking and gardening advice to help keep viewers entertained.  As a substitute to personal face-to-face visiting, locals including senior citizens began to use Zoom, Skype and Facetime to connect with friends, families and conduct work meetings. Online tutorials offered locals tips on sanitizing goods, instructions on proper handwashing procedures and hygiene practices. Stores most often ran short of a few staple products that frequently included: toilet paper, ground beef, sanitizing wipes and bread. Many residents stepped up to sewing homemade masks and others volunteered to work in church soup kitchens or run errands for the elderly.

Locals tuned in faithfully (at least for the first couple of weeks) each afternoon to watch the president’s daily Coronavirus briefing. These briefings would last from one to two hours and covered details about the nation’s infections and deaths. Much of the coverage was focused on New York which became the COVID 19 national epicenter. The President and his advisors discussed the state’s needs for respirators, protective gear, beds, COVID testing, capacity and testing kits. Slowly his medical advisors, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx rose to the level of “folk heroes” as they fielded questions and brought some sanity to the crises. Their trusted voices clearly guided the nation and added confidence to how America should respond to the crisis.

Local radio and Atlanta TV stations aired special briefings. Sirius/XM satellite radio launched a 24/7 dedicated Coronavirus channel that show cased various experts, doctors, scientists and personalities that offered assessments, advice and commentary. 

Like other states and communities, locals began to lose jobs, unemployment claims spiked, small business owners closed down entirely or scraped by with reduced hours and services. Large chain stores such as Home Depot, grocery store chains, carpet mills, Anheiser Busch continued to operate, but smaller businesses such as downtown Cartersville clothing and home decorator boutiques, salons, diners and museums either entirely closed or attempted to migrate business to online options, phone calls, curb pickup and porch delivery.

Signs of the Covid-19 Quarantine

Many locals tried tirelessly to understand the data, charts and briefings in order to compare what was happening in Bartow and what may be coming. The media was centered around the pandemic and devoted the bulk of coverage to breaking news that dealt with how people were coping to flattening the metrics curve. Much attention was given to how individual states and governors were lobbying for medical resources to serve respective state populations. Governors pleaded for respirators, test kits, protective medical gear and field hospital bed space on a daily basis.  Many newscasters declared the virus as an invisible enemy and coined the President as a “War Time President” against an invisible enemy.

But ironically, the Cartersville Medical Center was not over run and the cases were managed most efficiently. A triage tent was set up in front of the hospital to deal with an anticipated on-slot of infections, but it really never happened. Due to a lack of need the tent was dismantled before the Governor announced a soft reopening of business on Friday, April 24.


 Not only did social media help keep us connected, but it revealed how quarantined time was used and enjoyed. Locals posted projects, hobbies, games, cooking and other pastimes that filled the day.

Examples of how people shared what their quarantine activities included are reflected below with screen shots from one Bartow County resident’s Facebook page with the names redacted.

Social Media helped people stay in touch

Summary Statistics

 The first death in Bartow County was reported on March 28.  That number has grown to 30 at the time of writing this report and represents 10 % of the number of positive cases while the average in the state of Georgia was at 4% of the cases reported. It seems Bartow in the early stages of COVID-19 was a super-spreader hot spot.  With mitigation measures, however, the county was able to slow down the spread.

Total deaths of Bartow County residents related to COVID-19

As of Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Bartow lost 30 individuals to this invisible enemy.  According to WSB-TV Atlanta television station at the 4/24/20 4:00 pm news report, 19 (63%) of the 30 deaths were nursing home or assisted living center residents.  To combat the continuation of the high incidents of death, the National Guard was called up to help Georgia and Bartow County with cleaning facilities and education of workers as needed.  (WSB-TV) (The Daily Tribune, April 30, 2020)


Data as of April 30, 2020 at 7 pm



COVID-19 Confirmed Cases:

Total No. Cases (%)

No. Total Cases (%)


26,264 (100%)

313 (100%)


5,190 (20%)

119 (38%)



30 (10%)


It is critical that we document and remember our local history for the benefit of future generations. This chronicle has been prepared as a real time reference for a quick look back when Bartow experienced its second pandemic and as a convenient measure for what may follow in coming months or years. Will we have a second COVID wave as with the Spanish flu, and if so, what have we learned?

NOTE: For a comparison to Bartow’s first pandemic see the article on Bartow’s 1918 Spanish Flu COVID-19 Not Bartow’s First Social Distancing Epidemic


Georgia Department of Public Health. Daily Status Reports:  https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

Sasso, Michael & Newkirk, Margaret  April 24, 2020 Reopening a small corner of the U.S. in shadow of virus death   https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-24/georgia-county-steels-itself-to-reopen-despite-10-death-rate

Staff Report (2020, April 22) Feelings mixed on reopening of businesses. The Daily Tribune News

 Staff Report (2020, April 30) End nears for shelter-in-pace order, extension undecided. The Daily Tribune News.

Swift, J. (2020, April 19) Agencies present conflicting data on senior care COVID-19 deaths. The Daily Tribune News

 Swift, J. (2020, April 25) CMC CEO says hospital hit COVID-19 peak 2-3 weeks ago. The Daily Tribune News

 Swift, J. (2020, April 26)  Bartow’s COVID-19 death rate almost doubles national averages, but questions arise over figures.  The Daily Tribune News.

 Swift, J. (2020, April 26) The First Line, infectious disease specialist recounts confronting COVID-19.  The Daily Tribune News.

Swift, J. (2020, April 30) Department of Public Health official says COVID-19 spikes, waves remain possibilities. The Daily Tribune News.

 (2020, April 25) 4:00 p.m. WSB-TV Newscast

(2020, April 2) Governor Kemp issues shelter in place order. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-04-02/governor-kemp-issues-shelter-place-order






COVID-19 Not Bartow’s First Social Distancing Epidemic

By Joe Head

April 12, 2020

Homemade masks during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918

Never in a hundred years! How often have you heard or uttered that phrase meaning you will not see such an event in your lifetime? Well, it is now the 100 years!  

Twenty years into the 21st century an international pandemic has produced an historic crises for the nation and world with a novel virus known as COVID-19. As a result Bartow finds itself once again in the grip of a national and international epidemic that relies on physical distancing, clean hands, covered noses and mouths to mitigate a virus 100 years later.

Take a look back, just 102 years ago. In 1918, Bartow County suffered, along with the nation, its worst pandemic on record, the Spanish Influenza or La Grippe! World War I was raging and the world was sick.

According to the October 18, 1918 Annual Report of the Georgia State Board of Health, a sobering report was presented on the status of the epidemic in Georgia, specifically citing Cartersville. It included a mention of new cases within the previous 24 hours. Statewide there had been 2,749 new cases, with 48 deaths in one day. Hardest hit was Cartersville, with almost 1,000 new cases the previous day occurring on October 17, 1918, according to the data published. Cartersville’s population at that time was approximately 4,200.

Camp Gordon, 12 miles from Atlanta

  It is not precisely known how the pandemic originated, but in Georgia it appears to have begun at Camp Gordon (12 miles outside of Atlanta) among the WWI recruits, as it did in many other states. As soldiers were transferred from base to base readying for the Great War, infections broke out on most military bases. Eventually the base was quarantined, but not before the plague crept into the Georgia population. (Several Bartow boys died from the flu at Camp Gordon.) The global origin of the Spanish flu is uncertain, but was likely coined as a result of the massive devastation it caused in Spain during 1918. It appears the novel COVID 19 virus first surfaced in Wuhan China in late 2019 and spread across the continents. 

Atlanta Mayor Asa Candler (former Cartersville resident) took steps to close schools, churches, theaters and other venues that attracted large crowds. He banned soldiers from the city, but stopped short of closing businesses. La Grippe, an outdated term for a highly contagious flu, introduced the need for physical distancing between individuals as a mitigation step to manage the spread of the virus. The University of Georgia suspended classes.

On the home front, Dr. Howard Felton, (Cartersville’s version of doctors Fauci and Birx) head of the Cartersville Board of Health advised of precautionary measures that should be taken by the city. He asks for the schools, theaters and churches to be closed. Among the first to respond were Sam Jones Methodist, First Presbyterian, Felton’s Chapel and First Baptist churches. He followed up with a letter to the Mayor indicating that the virus affects the weak, rundown and all ages. Speculation is that it leads to pneumonia and death.

Following the report that Cartersville experienced 1,000 cases in one day, Dr. Felton refuted the information in an October 20 article posted in the Atlanta Constitution. According to Felton, the city has 150 cases and the county has about 800 cases. He adds the situation is serious in Cartersville and four of the five doctors are ill with the disease. (The original report may have combined the city and county numbers -950- to estimate the 1,000 cases.)

By late October 1918 more than 250 cases of the flu had been reported in Cartersville.

1918 Bartow family during Spanish flu

On October 24, Dr. Felton, took more dramatic action to slow the virus. He recommended to the mayor an extension of the ban indefinitely. He insisted on a ban to stop the promiscuous spitting of tobacco products and phlegm on the sidewalks to be enforced with fines ranging from $10.00 to $200. He ordered signage to be posted warning of fines and good conduct to prevent infections.

Local physicians were working night and day to treat the ill. The first cases were reported in the county among large families. Dr. Felton mentions that large rural families were more likely to spread the virus quickly. As the situation worsens, Dr. Felton begins a series of newspaper articles to instruct on how to avoid the virus and home care for the sick.

His advice includes: avoid large groups, keep hands out of mouth, cover mouth/nose when coughing or sneezing, keep feet dry, stay out of drafts, wash hands frequently, de-clutter the sick room, use no rugs, stay in a well – ventilated room, cool compresses or even sleep in a screened-in room for fresh air and use individual wash basins and towels. He further advises a soft, but nutritious diet that may include: milk, soft boiled eggs, toast, stewed fruits, oatmeal and hominy.

Also, he recommends feeding the sick from separate dishes if possible. If a fever or pinkish phlegm or sputum should appear, call a doctor. He clearly advises caretakers to wear a mask made from gauze as the virus is airborne. He even provides sewing instructions and follows with instructions to boil masks for reuse. He instructs how to use a thermometer and encourages the use of wearing an apron or gown when caring for the sick. Another article advises how to avoid catching the flu followed by tips of what to do if you do contract the flu. 

The situation in Cartersville continues to decline in the fall of 1918. As a result Dr. R. E. Wilson attends a Chicago Conference to learn more about the flu and how to combat it. He learns that from September 18 to December 1, some 350,000 US civilian deaths are expected. Among other precautions, the conference encourages the use of gauze masks.

An article from the Los Angeles Evening Herald is printed citing experts disagree about the use of masks and ask for such practices to be deferred. Their argument centers around the efficiency of face coverings.

Atlanta newspapers feature Dr. William Brady’s “Health Talk” column and a call to centralize case reporting for tracking purposes. The flu was characterized as tricky and also known as la grippe. Another Health Talk by Dr. Brady featured information that any person resembling having a cold should keep a minimum of five feet away as coughing, sneezing or laughing sprays the surrounding area with droplets. The Atlanta Journal printed a call for women to sew 100,000 masks to meet the need.

Ad in Bartow Tribune newspaper

 Some preachers published articles that the epidemic is a curse of God. The tabloids carried ads for elixirs, tonics and certain whiskeys that were touted to remedy the illness. Likewise, recipes for poultices to be applied to the throat, chest and feet were lauded as treatments. Concoctions of boiled onions, apple vinegar thickened with rye meal and other brews often were tried to overcome the suffering.  

Dr. A. B. Greene is quoted in the paper urging people to place oily preparations in their nasal passages. It is his opinion that germs have a difficult time living in such substances.  

In late November, the Cartersville council asks several doctors to inspect the local schools to determine if they can be reopened. Local doctors agreed to conduct rotations among the schools. Students were asked to report and inspections were made over a week. The East Side School attendance was 50% and the West Side School was 90%. The doctors concurred it would be permissible to allow schools to resume, but any student showing symptoms would be sent home immediately. However, by January 16, 1919 the schools had to be closed again. Soon the virus began to break out in the convict labor camps first appearing at the Hall Station camp. Medical professionals were advocating for the public to be “inoculated”. A popular event was the county fair and many advocated for it to not be canceled.

The resurgence saw a presence of the Red Cross to begin teaching home health care and trying to mitigate sickness in large families. They, too, were advocating for entire families to get inoculated. Even as late as February of 1920, local schools were advised to not allow students to gather in groups or around the warming stoves, no dry sweeping of the floors, or spray floors before sweeping, try to keep room temperatures cool and to immediately report children with sniffles and colds.

A conference was held in Macon on February 2, 1919 to discuss the influenza. The presentation included data of estimated cases to date and that the epidemic will cost the state over 45 million dollars.

In a local book entitled, The Country Doctor’s Wife written by Ora Lewis Bradley a chapter is dedicated to the many Dreaded Diseases suffered in Bartow County. She mentions diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis (consumption), la grippe and pneumonia all of which took a human toll on early Bartow county. Additionally, the newspapers of 1870 to 1920 carried stories of small pox, sick farms and rumors of other illness that often were not true and were retracted.

By late 1919 the Spanish Flu had run its course. On January 15, 1919, The Atlanta Constitution reported that 30,768 Georgians died of influenza to that date. The nation suffered 675,000 deaths and the world lost 50 million souls. It appears early record keeping regarding cases and mortality in Bartow County were not available in sources found for this research.

Even today some native Bartow residents recall their grandparents speaking of the Spanish flu. Shirley Perry of Cartersville recalls her dad, Thomas Bradley Hendricks, who grew up in the Dewey community of northeast Bartow County sharing a story. He was five during the flu and often shared the stories of his parents about how the family suffered during the epidemic. His parents often related how hard the families around them were hit in the Gum Springs and Folsom area. He shared that entire family units were wiped out with the flu and many were buried in the Hayes and Hendricks cemeteries. 

EVHS member Sam Graham also recalls stories from his grandfather who contracted the flu. He was one of eight children reared on a farm. While in the army he was confined to a leaky tent with rain water constantly dripping on his bed. He did survive the flu. 

Janet Neel, near White shares a letter that her grandmother  (Oviedo, Florida) wrote to her grandfather who was stationed in Ireland during WWI. She updates him on the Spanish flu indicating the family is still safe, but the schools and churches have been closed by order of the government. She mentions that the doctor has inoculated many, but the government stopped inoculations as they needed the serum for the army. Her other grandfather (Clonts) living in Bethel near Hiram also spoke of seeing friends one Sunday at church and they were dead the next Sunday.

Upon this quick reflection, it is clear Bartow is not new to the scourge of a viral epidemic. Research clearly shows Bartow history has grappled with isolation and social distancing well before it became again fashionable in 2020. Perhaps century old advice and stories still have lessons of value in today’s modern world.



A summary of suggested mitigation actions 100 years ago vs today’s COVID -19

Mitigation Suggestions19182020
Cover nose and mouth when coughing/sneezing/laughingYesYes
Keep physical distance of 5 – 6 feetYesYes
Wash Hands oftenYesYes (20 seconds)
Wear MasksYesYes 
Sleep/Rest in well ventilated roomYesNo
Post hygiene signs of directions to followYesYes (digitally mostly)/ Television/Newspapers
Close venues with crowds: theaters, churches, schools, etc.YesYes
Keep feet dryYesNo
Recommended home-made masks with directions providedYes (news articles)Yes (digitally)
Refrain from promiscuous spitting of tobacco products and phlegmYesNo
De-clutter sick roomYesNo
Face covering controversyYesYes

1918 Spanish Flu Tips About Social Distancing

Tips drawn from a variety of national newspapers

Christmas 1918: How Americans celebrated holidays during last pandemic

1. Stop Kissing and keep five feet of distance between persons

2. Avoid using public pay phones

3. Funeral gatherings banned

4. Schools, Salons, Theaters, Saloons and Churches closed

5. City Wide Mask Ordinances to be implemented

6. Quarantine Regulations printed in local papers and posted in public spaces

7. All Influenza cases must be reported

8. Stop spitting on public sidewalks

9. Gatherings only permitted in open air spaces

10. Breathing remedies and rubs advised (Liniments, Gargles, Vapor Rubs, Nostriola, Atomizers)

11. Keep warm, dry, out of drafty areas and eat a healthy diet with plenty of water

12. Avoid stress, worry and anxious situations

13. Walk or bike to work, avoid trains and buses

14. Avoid common drinking cups and hand towels

15. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

16. Wash hands frequently

17. Clean door knobs and typewriter keys often

18. Post notices on your front door if influenza has infected a family member

19. Keep clothes clean, declutter your home, remove trash often and wash food well

20. Get Inoculated, it causes no harm

To read a companion article about Cartersville’s COVID 19 Chronicles visit:  https://evhsonline.org/archives/48827


Note: Some article titles have been paraphrased or abbreviated

Health Talks, Atlanta Constitution, February 2, 1918

Flu Treatments, Atlanta Constitution, February 23, 1918

Half of Gordon Banned to City of Atlanta, Atlanta Constitution, September 21, 1918

University of Georgia Closes, Atlanta Constitution, October 19, 1918

Defer Action to Wear Masks, Los Angeles Evening Herald, November 7, 1918

100 Thousand Masks Needed, Atlanta Constitution, October 4, 1918

Precautionary Measures, Tribune News, October 10, 1918

Flu Ban Extended Indefinitely, Tribune News, October 17, 1918

Cartersville Flu Report Exaggerated, Atlanta Constitution, October 20, 1918

Dr. Felton Extends Ban, Tribune News, October 24, 1918

Church Ban Relaxed, Bartow Tribune News, October 31, 1918

Home Care is Needed in all Influenza , Tribune News, October 31, 1918

Home Care is Needed in all Influenza, Bartow Tribune, November 7, 1918.

Dr. Wilson Attends Chicago Conference, Tribune News, November 12, 1918

Schools Resume, Tribune News, November 21, 1918

30,768 Georgians Die, Atlanta Constitution, January 15, 1919

Schools Close Again, Tribune News, January 16, 1919

Health Talks, Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Constitution, January 1, 1919

Epidemic of Flu to Cost State 45 Million, Atlanta Constitution, February 1, 1919

School Instructions, Tribune News, February 10, 1919

Flu Conference Held, Atlanta Constitution, February 2, 1919

6018 Flu Cases in State, Atlanta Journal, March 27, 1919

Ban Lifted, Tribune News, February 26, 1920

Books, Reports, Internet, Societies

Annual Report of the Georgia State Board of Health, 1918

The Country Doctor’s Wife, Ora Lewis Bradley, 2014

Influenza Encyclopedia, University of Michigan



Bartow Genealogical Society 


Debbie Head for her editorial contributions

Sam Graham for his research assistance

Margaret Mathison, RN for her advice

Anna Maria Floyd, Bartow County Health Department