John Baker, second from left standing in main foundry door way. Circa early 1930’s.

The Last Family Foundry

The Last Family Foundry

A Look at Bartow’s Early Foundry Era 

By Joe F. Head


Although no longer standing, perhaps the last remnant of the “Bartow Foundry Era” was the Cartersville Casting and Machine Company previously located at 148 and 155 Cassville Road. This property is described in Deed book 86, page 71 in the Bartow County Court House. (Land Lot 380, 4th District, plot 17 and Deed Book CC page 410)

If traveling north, it was located on the east side of Cassville Road across from present day Self Recycling south of ATCO next to the old Southern Air Line Railroad (SAL) spur about one block before reaching Erwin Street and Oak Hill Cemetery. Together, both lots are less than two acres in size and as of this writing are vacant serving only as two idle concrete pad storage areas.

John Baker, second from left standing in main foundry door way. Circa early 1930’s.
John Baker, second from left standing in main foundry door way. Circa early 1930’s.

After an extensive review of the deeds and records associated with this property it appears that John Baker and Milton Hill of Cartersville may have operated a Bartow foundry longer than any other owners.

Records indicate that John Baker leased the property in 1943 from Mrs. A. J. Brown (Granger Hill Subdivision) and then in partnership with Milton Hill and Walter Hill purchased the foundry in 1946 from Mrs. A. J. Brown and Mr. J. R. Shellhorse of Carterville. Baker and the Hill brothers were all brother-in-laws and truly were a family foundry business.

Ore mining became an unexpected industry that pushed into Cherokee lands of northwest Georgia as they initially extracted gold and then discovered iron and other profitable ores. Bartow (Cass) County has a long-standing history of mining and stone furnace ore smelting dating from the 1830’s. These stone furnaces are legendary to the county rising out of the earlier Dahlonega gold rush days that led to Cass/Bartow County.

The golden age of Bartow stone furnaces was circa 1830 to 1900. Stone furnaces are associated with iconic pioneer families that settled the county in the 1830’s. Among others the primary furnace families most often mentioned are Jacob and Moses Stroup, Mark A. Cooper and John W. Lewis. These stone cupola furnaces primarily were used to smelt iron ore, but also performed as a foundry to cast molded products. It was not uncommon to see a furnace serve both roles as needed.

These high profile furnace masters often formed partnerships and created railroads, such as the Etowah Railroad Company, Cherokee Railroad and Iron Belt Railroad to support iron production. Furnaces were first built on Stamp Creek and Etowah River. At its peak, Bartow was dotted with eleven stone furnaces and other similar rock furnaces or kilns that produced lead, lime and cement products.

Less celebrated in Bartow iron history is that of the “foundry age.” Multiple Bartow foundries appear in deed records and newspapers, but enjoyed little notoriety within Bartow’s golden age of mining and furnaces. With the exception of Mark A. Cooper’s Etowah River furnace and foundry the earliest records of a foundry are documented in county deeds and the 1868 Cartersville Express newspapers.

These subsequent foundries did not boast high profile pioneer family names. However, this research has uncovered a prominent name that points to a threaded line of foundries operated by a Mr. Bolivar Scholfield beginning in 1868. His association with multiple operations regarding partnerships, sales and foundry leases stands out among transactions.

Foundries actually became a natural progression of the furnace industry, but without the glamour. As raw iron ore was smelted it needed to be cast and shaped into useable products. Foundries specifically served this more technical role as opposed to pig iron furnaces, albeit some casting did take place at furnace sites. These foundries often produced wood burning stoves, cotton gin machinery, gears, pots, water wheels, hollow ware, axles, coal grates, boilers, plows and other farming implements. Some foundries also diversified advertising to offer sorghum, machinery repairs, brass and copper metals production.

Following the Civil War, industries in Bartow County suffered a severe setback. However, the local iron and mining industry rebounded quickly. The stone furnaces were put back into production and companies reformed. Enterprising men struck new contracts, found markets and cooperated with local miners to make liquid iron flow again.

Likewise, a cluster of approximately 12 casting foundries evolved primarily around the city of Cartersville. Tangled ownerships and missing records confuse if some of these operations were merged or if all stood as singular proprietorships. The following list is drawn from County deed records and local newspaper ads of the day.

1.Etowah Mft, Mining, Furnace & Foundry (Mark Cooper, 1845, Etowah Village)

2. Cartersville Foundry and Machine Shop (B. Scholfield, * 1868, Stonewall St)

3.W. Lee Foundry (Leased from B. Scholfield.* 1870)

4.Bartow Foundry and Machine Works (T. H. Withers, Erwin St. Junta RR, 1873)

5.Cartersville Car Factory and Foundry (Purchased from B. Scholfield,* 1873)

6.Etowah Foundry and Machine Shop (B. J. Lowman, 1877)

7.H. Hackett Foundry (Atlanta and Cartersville, 1878)

8.Georgia Foundry & Machine Co. (Taylorsville, date unknown)

9.Cartga Foundry Company (J. W. Vaughn, South Tennessee,1909)

10.Cartersville Foundry (Murray & Stevenson, 1881)

11.Cartersville Foundry & Machine Works (Summers & Jackson, Cassville Rd. 1925**

12.Cartersville Casting Co & Machine Shop (Baker & Hill, Cassville Rd. 1943 **)

Research reveals that these foundries typically had relatively short lives. They were often bought, leased, merged, renamed or foreclosed, making it difficult to track and sort out duplicate operations. The Cartga Foundry, 1909 to 1915 located south of Cartersville on Tennessee Street fronting the Western and Atlantic Railroad on land lots 552, 553 and 601 in the 4th District, 3rd section is an example of a foundry that experienced a rapid decline and sold to the Rhyme Brothers Lumber Company. Court house records contained in deed books RR, pages 449, 450 and book VV page 157, reflect sell off actions and further settlement by the Sherriff.

cville-express3 cville-express4 cville-express5

(All three foundries are similar in name, but under different owners. Ads found in Cartersville Express at the Bartow History Museum Archives)

The W. H. Hackett Foundry began in Cartersville. However, according to a newspaper article published in the Cartersville Express on June 15, 1877 gives notice that he will expand to Atlanta on 50 Broad Street and operate a Brass Foundry and Machine Shop.

Cartersville foundries flourished between 1870 and 1900 as a result of the mining and railroad industries. However, one surprising boost to the number of foundries was the unexpected rise of railroad car manufactures. Cartersville supported two such factories during this period and each needed foundries to cast wheels, frames, axles and other hardware to build cars. These factories would produce up to twenty five cars per week. The foundry operated by Murray and Stephensen was often associated with the Georgia Car Factory and the Scholfield Foundry was associated with the Cartersville Factory.

Entrepreneurs of the area recognized the vast Bartow mineral deposits and diverse resources concentrated in the county and were willing to invest large sums of money to exploit profits and develop new enterprises. According to a January 1889 article in the Kennesaw Gazette, Emerson also enjoyed the presence of a sizable foundry under the organization of the Emerson Malleable Iron Company. The article describes an operation with a main building of 160 feet by 64 feet housing offices, machine room, finishing room and all buildings covering over 10,000 square feet. Local foundry spirits were competitive. Advertisements often encouraged patrons to do business locally as opposed to northern options.

The Emergence of the Baker/Hill Cartersville Casting Co and Machine Shop

In 1923, two lots in the Howard survey near the furnace tract were purchased from Barbara Moore and family previously purchased from the Cartersville Land Company. Deed records reflect that a partnership was formed between J. Summers and J. W. Jackson who formed the Cartersville Foundry and Machine Works. By 1925 the partnership was expanded to include Mr. S. A. Merrell.

According to deed records the Cartersville Casting Company and Machine Shop and its ancestor company (as located on the same land) endured for about sixty years between 1923 and mid 1980. The Summers and Jackson foundry appear to be the origin of Bartow’s last family foundry owned by Baker and Hill.

A 1939 Tribune News article features Mr. A. J. Brown stating he bought the foundry some seven years earlier (1932) and he claims “it is the successor to the first foundry in Bartow County.” Eventually, Mrs. A. J. Brown and J. R. Shellhorse sold it to John Baker and the Hill brothers on August 31, 1946. Deed book 86, page 72 – 74 in the Bartow County Court House lists the terms of sale and a complete schedule of equipment to be transferred. (Mr. Brown’s reference to the Cartersville Casting Company as being the successor to the first foundry in Bartow County may have been an innocent stretch in light of research presented in this research paper)

Further evidence reveals that the oldest foundry was that of Mark Cooper in 1845 followed by the Cartersville Foundry and Machine Shop operating in 1868 by Mr. Bolivar Scholfield. It was later sold to the Cartersville Car Factory and Building Association in 1873 located on Tennessee and Main Streets. (See partial ads below)

cville-express6 cville-express7

According to an interview with Mr. James Richard Blalock (aka, Buggy) the 1950’s foundry was a small operation of about six to eight employees. Mr. Blalock worked part time at the foundry as a teenager under Mr. John Baker. Baker grew up working in the foundry business beginning at about age fifteen. John was known as a very frugal person and remembered for his Tampa Nugget cigars.

Also, according to John Baker’s daughter, Joellen, following WWII Cartersville Casting received funding for a short time to teach the foundry business. She often worked in the foundry office handling paperwork and payroll.

This photo of the machine shop appeared in the Weekly Tribune in 1958. The main wooden foundry structure can be slightly seen to the right. (Tribune News photo courtesy of Vickie Crow, Bartow Ancestors)

Foundry hours were 8:00am to 4:30pm five days a week with some Saturday hours. The original building was a two story, wooden barn like structure with a black dirt floor. As with most foundries it sat next to a railroad spur. The Cartersville Casting Company was served by the Southern Air Line (SAL spur) which served to deliver supplies and haul castings by rail to the main Western and Atlantic rail line.

The smelting schedule alternated on a bi-weekly operation. Three pours were scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday on one week followed by two pours on the following week. The short week was used to clean the furnace, tools and prepare castings. Typical materials to be smelted were recycled scrap iron including engine blocks, sheet metal, cast plumbing pipe, old cast iron pots/pans, flat irons, washer lugs and various raw iron ores.

foundry1 foundry2 foundry3 foundry4



Examples of cast iron items that were recycled in the foundry. These items were salvaged by John Baker and given to his daughter, Joellen Baker Greene McKay

Mr. Blalock remembers the coke fired furnace and was told it came from Chattanooga, Tennessee. It stood about 20 feet in height and five feet in diameter. The cylindrical exterior was made of riveted cast metal plates with a brick lined

interior. The furnace sat on a base about three feet off the ground with a four-foot spout to allow for pour offs. Large hand ladles were used to catch the molten liquid and then poured into waiting casts.

A larger 500 pound ladle mounted on a portable rack with block and tackle was used for massive pours. Clay plugs were inserted at the spout base to stop the flow of liquid iron as ladles were changed out.

Standing third from left, James (Speedy) Blalock, Nat Cox, Sam Jarrett, far right John Baker standing and Milton Hill kneeling. The furnace and spout can be seen in the distant left behind the portable rack and men.
Standing third from left, James (Speedy) Blalock, Nat Cox, Sam Jarrett, far right John Baker standing and Milton Hill kneeling. The furnace and spout can be seen in the distant left behind the portable rack and men.

Cast shapes were prepared in advance by fashioning wooden molds and then placing them in square wood boxes of various sizes. Sand was packed around the wooden mold to develop the shape and then the wooden mold was removed leaving the shaped impression. A powder substance, known as pentene, was sprinkled on the sand molds. This was used to prevent moisture from damaging the sand cast shape once the pour started. Once the scrap metal had been fired and melted, a stringy liquid called slag would be drained off. These were the impurities that had separated from the liquid iron. Once slag cooled it assumed glass like qualities and when removed would break apart like brittle shards of glass that could injure one very easily.

According to Mr. Blalock, the foundry produced a variety of castings including;

bubblegum machine bases, storm water drain grates for highways, water meter boxes, gears, washers, and a vast number of custom items for the local mining industry. Mr. Mike Crow who also helped demolish the foundry, discovered military hand grenade casings and pipe couplers as well. Once items were poured they would be placed in the “rumbler machine” to smooth rough castings. After that they were placed in a “shot machine” to further refine the finish.

The machine shop was next door to the foundry and managed by Milton Hill. It was in a more modern metal building with tools that could finish semi-rough poured shapes, cut pieces, polish, cut screw threads or drill holes. It had a long shaft and pulley overhead to move heavy items. Among other services the shop made drive shafts, bushings, refit key way patterns and fabricated special orders for the mining companies.

cartersville-castingLeft to right: Speedy Blalock, John Baker, Milton Hill in the 1947, former machine shop in rear of the foundry before the later 1958 metal building was constructed.

rome-safe1 rome-safe2 




Employees and customers recall John Baker’s “Rome” safe that was located in the office. The safe is currently stored in the Stevens’ Southern Machine and Fabrications Shop. The Stephens family was the last to own and operate the foundry in the 1980’s.

Records reflect that the foundry was sold frequently. Also, the Cartersville Land Company was repeatedly involved in a number of earlier transactions as buyer, owner and/or seller of the property. A number of lesser family owners and interest holders included Merrell, Craig, Hood, Clayton and others. In 1952 Baker and Hill completed an effort to buy up all the property real estate deeds in order to bring all the lots under the foundry’s name. (The owners and foundry names were often confused in transactions.)

Suspected sequence of Cartersville Casting Company foundry ownership

  1. Land Lot 380, 4th District, plot 17
  2. 1923 Cartersville Land Company to J. Summers and J. W. Jackson Deed Book 60, p 465, (Cartersville Foundry & Machine Co.)
  3. 1925 S. W. Merrell and Cartersville Foundry and Machine Works partnership with J. Summer and J. W. Jackson (former Barbara Moore property) Book 63, page 60
  4. 1931 J. Jackson and J. Summers to A. J. Brown and R. L. Bigham (Alabama) Deed Book 68, Page 386
  5. 1943 Mrs. A. J. Brown leases property to John Baker
  6. 1946 Mrs. A. J Brown and J. R. Shellhorse to John Baker, Milton Hill and W. C. Hill. (Deed Book 86 Page 75, 8/31/46)
  7. 1946 Mrs. A. J. Brown to Baker and Hill brothers. Book 86 pages 73-75 including an inventory of equipment.(8/31/46, Second transaction for $1.00), recorded in deed book CC, page 410)
  8. 1952 W. C. Hill sells to John Baker and Milton Hill (Deed Book 98, page 417)
  9. 1958 Baker and Hill convey property to Cartersville Casting Co. (Deed Book 115 page 111)
  10. 1966 Baker and Hill structure a sell in 1966, to Charles and Frances Kelley,  Cobb County. Debt to be settle by 12/1/69 (Deed Book 159 page 77)
  11. Michael Stephens (Southern Machine Shop)
  12. Steve and Francis Cowart (Kingston)


Today Bartow County still has an iron industry presence, albeit in the form of international operations such as Gerdau Ameristeel a German company.

The Southern Machine and Manufacturing Company was the last owner of the Cartersville Casting Company and eventually demolished the buildings in the mid 1980’s. The land was sold to Self Recycling and is owned at the time of this writing by Steve and Francis Cowart of Kingston, Georgia.

Now only a memory, the Cartersville Casting Company represents the “last man standing” among the foundries that once stood in Bartow County. Clearly over a half century of operation beginning in the 1923 made it the longest running foundry in the county and final chapter of a family owned foundry.

This obscure piece of county history deserves a brief showcasing as it adds yet another chapter to Bartow’s proud furnace heritage. As a result, John Baker and Milton Hill may be a modern age throw back to early foundry masters and the golden age of the Bartow furnace industry.

As a footnote to the foundry legacy in Bartow County, it should be noted that a proposal was submitted to the 29th Congress on February 10, 1846 by former Georgia Governor, John Lumpkin. His effort was to establish a National Foundry site in Bartow County. (House of Representatives, Bill No. 202, Rep. Archibald Yell) The proposal introduction is offered below. It appears the proposal was never ratified.

“I have the honor to inform you that the proposed location in Georgia, for a national foundry is in Cass County, on the Etowah River, at or near the point where the Western and Atlantic railroad crosses that stream. “

This attempt to recognize the value of foundries further underscores the importance of the furnace and ore industry in the Etowah Valley.



Blalock, James Richard(Buggy), Cartersville, GA, November 22, 2014 (former employee)

Crow, Mike and Vickie, Cartersville, GA November 24, 2014 (former employee)

McKay, Jollen Baker, Greene: Kingsport, TN, October 3, 2014 (daughter of John Baker)

J. B. Tate, KSU Retired, Cartersville, GA November 22, 2014

Acknowledgements :

Bartow History Museum Archives

Crow, Vickie, Bartow Ancestors

Etowah Valley Historical Society Archives

Gentry, Lynne, Bartow County Deeds and Records

Prewett, Jerry and Peggy, Cartersville, GA.

Stephens, Mike, Southern Machine Shop, Cartersville, GA

Tate, J. B. , Cartersville, GA

County Records, Residential Directory and News Publications

Deed Books, Bartow County Court House

Writ Books, Bartow County Gold Dome Court House, EVHS Office

Tribune News, 1939, 1958

Kennesaw Gazette, January 1889, page 3

Courant-American, 1889

1883-84 Cherokee/Cartersville Resident Directory

The Federal Union (Milledgeville) March 10, 1846, National Foundry

The Southern Recorder, April 25, 1845, Macon Telegraph, GA

Standard & Express, August 7, 1873

Cartersville Express, March 20, 1924

Cartersville Express, June 15, 1877

Cartersville Express Newspaper ads circa 1870 – 73

cville-express10 cville-express9 cville-express8



The Generl

Uriah Stephens Kingston’s Voice of Resistance

Uriah Stephens

 Kingston’s Voice of Resistance 

The Great Locomotive Chase

Sesquicentennial Celebration

The Generl


by: Joe F. Head
Copyright 2012


It might be argued that the Great Locomotive Chase” of April 12, 1862 was the first intrusion of the American Civil War onto Georgia soil, the first certainly into Bartow County. It was the earliest event of a prolonged struggle between the north and south that introduced an impressive roster of Georgia heroes on both sides of this tragic conflict. Many individuals played colorful, important and even heroic roles in Georgia Civil War history. On this 150 year anniversary we recognize a local personality, Uriah Stephens, and the role he played in the Great Chase.

The Great Locomotive Chase is considered to be perhaps the most exciting railroad adventure in American history. The event unfolded on the W&A Railroad in northwest Georgia between Atlanta and Chattanooga, beginning in Big Shanty and concluding a few miles south of the Tennessee line near the small town of Graysville in Catoosa County. The event featured engine number 39, (later renumbered 3) a state owned Dixie Flyer, named “The General” and involved several other “southern engines” before the chase ended in favor of the Confederacy.

The event became a platform that introduced the American public to approximately two-dozen ordinary souls (north and south) destined to become heroes as defined by government and literary branding. These common folk became unsuspecting heroes either by national recognition of receiving the first Congressional Medals of Honor or by eventual celebrity status having been showcased in a number of books that followed the Great Chase.

The Great Locomotive Chase was a bold Yankee spy raid to infiltrate Rebel lines deep into north Georgia. Some 20 men led by James Andrews armed with a scheme to hijack a train at Big Shanty and race north with the objective to burn bridges, cut telegraph wires and tear up track along the lifeline of the Confederacy. This deed was in hopes of disrupting communications and transportation, thereby disabling the ability of Rebel reinforcements reaching Chattanooga and giving Union General Ormsby Mitchel and his forces time to take Chattanooga. This coordinated event, if successful, would likely have shortened the war considerably in favor of the Union.

If one reads the thrilling story, it becomes clear that the most colorful events actually took place in Bartow County thus making it the “Heart of the Chase”. While the General was stolen in Big Shanty (Kennesaw, Cobb County, Georgia) by Union spies and run north some 87 miles covering 5 counties it must be acknowledged that the greatest number of events unfolded in Bartow County, formerly Cass County. The records show a number of facts exclusively belonging to Bartow County including, the greatest track distance covered 40% (35 miles), the Powder Train cover story was told twice in Bartow (Rodgers Station and Kingston), all three chase engines (Yonah at Etowah & Cooper, William R. Smith at Kingston and Texas near Adairsville) were acquired in Bartow, an hour delay in Kingston and finally, the “old Station Agent”, Uriah Stephens’ perceptive resistance which was the only documented confrontation that Andrews faced. (Not to be confused with the Uriah Stephens who was founder of the Knights of Labor in Philadelphia in 1869.)

The hijacked General arrived in Kingston only to find the station congested with freight cars side tracked while waiting for southbound traffic from Chattanooga on the main track. A Union attack on the city of Chattanooga forced rail traffic to move out and overload points south. The General had to take to a siding for more than an hour before Andrews boldly took the switch keys from the depot agent’s office wall and returned the engine to the main line.

In any number of books written about the Great Chase all reference, to some degree, Uriah Stephens and his role at the Kingston station. Although brief, his mention is meaningful as it describes a suspicious Station Agent who was skeptical from the get-go about the irregular circumstances in which the locomotive, General, arrived pulling a non-standard set of rail cars. Others were more easily duped as to the fabricated vale of southern patriotism surrounding the story about getting urgently needed gun powder cargo to General Beauregard in Chattanooga. Andrews was a skilled and cool double agent. He performed well under pressure keeping his composure and easily turning a phrase in his favor on more than one exchange.

However, the old station agent was a seasoned W&A Railroad hand employee who well understood the rail schedule, operations and authorized personnel on the Georgia State railroad. He was quickly alerted when the General did not include any crewmember he recognized. Additionally, he was most concerned that no advance notice had preceded a special train running on the track. This alone gave him great pause and reason to verbally protest any commands being barked by the stylish Andrews who sported a top hat and dressed in such an official capacity. As Andrews saw the resistance emerge it was once again necessary for him to use the powder train relief story to reach General Beauregard with munitions.

Uriah Stephens continued his vigil and line of questioning. The stakes were escalated when Andrews insisted that the rail switch needed to be thrown to allow the General back onto the main line. Stephens vowed that he would not take the switch keys down until Andrews provided satisfactory proof explaining by what authority he was ordering everyone around as if he owned the whole road. Accounts report that Stephens attempted to stir bystanders to help him prevent Andrews from taking the keys. Andrews pretended to be amused by this action and personally removed the keys from the station and unlocked the switch himself.

Stephens is described similarly in most works related to the Great Chase as an older or “aged” man who grumbled and ranted about the situation. He is portrayed as one who was perhaps disagreeable, grumpy and a difficult older individual at the ripe age of 45. Authors have continued to portray him as a crusty personality with varying titles depending on how he is referenced. His titles range from Yardman and Switch tender to Station agent or Stationmaster, but overall he has been left with a more demeaning “geezer” image cast by the recollections, interviews, notes and second hand accounts from those younger participants in the actual event. Subsequent authors are confined to the few remarks that are on file from previous texts, but primarily initiated by the first publications written by raider, William Pittenger. (The Daring and Suffering and later republished as, The Great Locomotive Chase)

As a legacy from the raider’s perspectives, Uriah’s presence was cast as a meddling sort. Little more is offered to the reader about Stephens other than one who earned a place in the story, but played an annoying role for the raiders. The reader may be left with the opinion that Stephens was a common laborer with little resource, older than most and lacked influence. Stephens’ role has been cited in numerous articles and books many of which can be referenced in the bibliography of this work.

In contrast a very different image of Stephens emerges when one researches his lifelong career and personal life as can be found in a number of creditable documents.

Our first record of Stephens can be found in the 1850 South Carolina U.S. Census. In 1860 he is found living in Canton, Georgia, (Cherokee County) at age 43 and his occupation is listed as “Mechanic.” It is recorded that he was born in 1818 in Pickens (Old Pendleton District), South Carolina and came to Georgia prior to the Civil War. He married Hannah A. McConnell in Floyd County and they had several children (Sarah, Mary, Joseph, Nannie, Colie and Laura). During the event of the Great Chase, Uriah and family are living in Kingston in the F.R. Goulding house south of town next to the railroad tracks.

Following the Great Chase, Uriah and his family are listed in the 1870 and 1880 US Census living in Cartersville. His occupation is listed as Dry Goods Merchant and Boarding House Keeper. He and his brother Silas were partners in the Dry Goods business. Property records find the family living for a time on the southeast corner of Bartow and Leake Streets and later on the northeast corner of Main and Stonewall Streets in Cartersville.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, GA.
Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, GA.
The Cartersville Express, September 5, 1878
The Cartersville Express, September 5, 1878









According to his obituary and a genealogical document prepared by his great, great granddaughter (Betty Johnson of Sarasota, Florida) he also bought and sold property in Cartersville. A review of property and deed records in the Bartow County Court House reveals that Stephens’ family was very active in land transactions. His brother, Silas seems to be the primary dealer, but Uriah bought and sold considerable land. Dozens of land sales appeared among all the Stephens siblings.

Uriah Stephens

One notable entry indicates that on March 4, 1890 his wife Hannah sold 35 acres to former Governor Joseph E. Brown for $3000.00. (Deed Record Book BB page 469). This deal was for 35 acres (lot 314, district 5) which is in the southeast corner of White, Georgia in Bartow County. The property records point to many large and small transactions including sales to individuals, merchants, Georgia Iron and Coal Company, Cherokee Iron Works and others. Records indicate a close relationship he held with Governor Brown who eventually appointed Stephens as Purchasing Agent for the W&A RR.

Genealogical records held by Great, Great, Granddaughter, Betty Johnson include considerable mention of a claim following the war for loss of goods filed by Uriah against Federal troops. The claim was filed on February 15, 1872 in Fulton County in the amount of $788.75. The claim consists of 40 pages of testimony describing the event of how his goods were stolen by Union soldiers. According to the claim Uriah is listed as living in Covington, Georgia. His testimony alleges that in July 1865, a troop train in route to Augusta stopped briefly in Covington where he operated a small dry goods store some 100 feet from the tracks. The soldiers, under Colonel Eggleston’s command, entered his store, pillaged, destroyed and took what they wanted. He confronted them and they instructed him to “obey up”. His claim listed a range of goods were taken without payment to include 275 pounds of chewing tobacco, 90 pounds of smoking tobacco, 40 dozen eggs, 125 ginger cakes, 10 pairs of socks, 225 yards of shirt material, 30 gallons of beer and a variety of family medicines.

The written claim listed four witnesses including the name of former Governor Joseph E. Brown. An inspection of the statements finds other interesting information about Stephens. It appears the claim and statements were conducted much as a deposition would be today. His career history was fully documented regarding oaths, allegiances, hear say evidence regarding loyalty and his own statements that he tried to maintain war neutrality. The witnesses and Uriah’s own personal statement reveal he was also a former Post Master in Canton, Georgia prior to the war and also a Post Master during the war while in Kingston. His witnesses perhaps hurt him as much as helped him in testimony as some described Uriah sympathetic to both sides of the war. One witness even characterized his shop in Covington as “sort of a confederate store and lacked any products from the north”.

Eventually, his claim was disavowed as Uriah had taken an oath to the Confederacy as documented when he accepted the position of Post Master in Kingston.

According to an article printed in The News and Courant on April 3, 1902, Stephens died on March 30, 1902. His grave marker matches this information. He lived his final six years with his son, J. M. Stephens in Atlanta who was the Superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Company. According to the obituary, he was 86 years old at death. A close friend and former General in the Civil War, Clement A. Evans conducted the funeral services. The article indicates he was a Mason, member of the Methodist church and was the “depot agent” in Kingston at the time the famous General went through.

Following his death his body was returned to Cartersville where he was buried in the old Ebenezer Church section (Sam Jones) of Oak Hill Cemetery.

His grave along with wife Hannah, brother Silas (who never married) and other family members can be found together. The marker has an inscription honoring Uriah on one side and another inscription honoring Hannah.

Uriah Stephens had a diverse career, lived in interesting times and associated with influential people. Among his occupations he was noted as a mechanic, depot agent, post master, dry goods merchant, boarding house keeper, land dealer and W&A RR purchasing agent. Additionally, he was known to be a close friend with Governor Brown. By all measures he can be considered a successful businessman and entrepreneur.

All of the foregoing indicates that Uriah was much more than the cryptic descriptions leave with us. However, he will forever be known as the crusty old man who resisted Andrews in the one-hour delay in Kingston, Georgia.

As a result of his relentless doubting of James Andrews and reluctance to give up the switch keys, we might also give him the symbolic title of, “Gatekeeper” and one who contributed to Bartow County becoming the Heart of the Chase.

Noted by Wilbur Kurtz in his letter to Lucy Cunyus on August 1932, pages 2 and 3:

“The distance covered by the raiders and pursuers in this affair, was eighty-seven miles; thirty-five of them falling within the domain of Bartow, and for colorful and narrow margins of hazard, perhaps exceeds any other portion of the thrilling episode.” (A later measure by the CSX RR indicates the mileage is closer to 43.5 from the Cobb County line to the Gordon County line.)

It would appear that Uriah Stephens is at least a local historic treasure, but his value may have been overlooked until now. However, the reality is that Kingston and Bartow County actually had a very productive citizen in Stephens and we should be proud to call him a “favorite son.”

Thanks to Uriah Stephens, Kingston can boast that it had the only “voice of resistance” during the Great Locomotive Chase and it played a vital part in making Bartow, The Heart of the Chase!
Article Sources


Daring and Suffering, pp 120/121, Pittenger, William (1st Edition in 1863)

History of Bartow County, pp 218, Cunyus, Lucy, 1933

The General, The Great Locomotive Dispute, pp 55/56, Head, Joe, second edition 1997

The Great Locomotive Chase, pp 170, Angle, Craig, 1992

Stealing the General, pp 146/147, Bonds, Russell, 2007

Wild Train, (pp 152/153) O’Neill, Charles, 1956


The News and Courant, Obituary, April 3, 1902, Cartersville, Georgia

Atlanta Constitution, Obituary, March 31, 1902

The Cartersville Express, September 5, 1878

Government Documents

Deed Record Book, BB, page 469, March 4 1890, Bartow County, Georgia

National Archives, Footnote Folder 3, Publication Number: M1407, Publication Title:

Southern Claims Commission, Claim Number: 7808 Claim Date:1871-09-27, Courtesy of Betty Johnson

US Census, 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880


Hand notes, Krutz, Wilbur, various interviews, Box 34, Folder 3, Atlanta History Center, Uriah Stephens


Mrs. Betty (Alma) Johnson, Great, Great, Granddaughter of Uriah Stephens  

Dr. David Parker, History Professor, Kennesaw State University


Asa G.Candler

Asa G. Candler – Joe F. Head

Asa G. Candler

Cartersville’s Surprising Connections to the Coca Cola Empire

By: Joe F. Head

Asa G.Candler
1851 – 1929

Few people from Bartow County know that Asa Griggs Candler, founder of the Coca Cola Empire, once lived in Cartersville where he learned his skill to become a pharmacist. Lucy Cunyus in her 1933 book, The History of Bartow County gives us our first hint of his presence. Her brief mention of Asa working at a drug store under Kilpatrick and Sayre is almost missed by the casual reader. The precise store location is not mentioned.

Asa was born in Carroll County in Villa Rica, Georgia on December 30th, 1851. At the age of nine his education was interrupted by the Civil War and as a result he never completed high school. They were a very devout Methodist family that shaped Asa’s fundamental values and influenced how he conducted business.

In spite of his father’s wishes for him to become a physician, Asa decided to study the pharmaceutical trade and joined his sister, Florence who had moved to Cartersville. Here he apprenticed himself to two physicians, Dr. John W. F. Best and Dr. William L. Kirkpatrick who had a joint apothecary operation next door to their medical clinic. The firm eventually included Mr. Sayre as a partner who was instrumental in the business operations.

Accounts of Asa while in Cartersville describe him as working the soda fountain, stocking inventory, mixing medications, studying at night and sleeping on a cot in the rear of the store. His formal education continued for a while under Reverend S. G. Hillyer, Jr. who also operated a school for boys. Asa enjoyed Latin, Greek, reading medicine and studying chemistry.

We do know that on September 11, 1872 while in Cartersville, Asa wrote a letter to his namesake, Dr. Asa Griggs in West Point, Georgia advising him of his decision to abandon his pursuit of becoming a physician. He states that he sees more money and opportunity in the drug business. His letter specifically mentions he is in Cartersville serving as a “prescriptionist” and requests help in relocating to Atlanta.

Some time later a prominent wholesale druggist from Atlanta, Mr. George J. Howard was visiting his farm in Cartersville and met Asa. He was so impressed with Asa that he offered him a possible job should he ever come to Atlanta.

Following the death of Asa’s father, his mother, Martha, gathered up the family and also moved to Cartersville in February of 1875. Asa’s sister, Florence Candler Harris married Cartersville attorney, James W. Harris who was a district judge. Martha enrolled her youngest child, John in a local female school recommended by Florence. Florence also founded and operated the West End School for females. Some time later Martha moved to Atlanta. Florence and James resided on Bartow Street and are listed in the 1883 Cartersville city resident directory.

The Standard & Express, 1/11/1872, P 2
The Standard & Express, 1/11/1872, P 2
The Standard & Express, 1/10/1872, P 4
The Standard & Express, 1/10/1872, P 4

The 1870 census documents William L. Kirkpatrick as a druggist, John W. F. Best as a druggist and Mr. S. G. Hillyer as a teacher and all living in the Cartersville district at the time. According to the August 26th 1870 Cartersville Semi Weekly newspaper the population in Cartersville was 2240.

Deeds in the Bartow County Court House reflect that both Kirkpatrick and Best separately purchased what appears to be storefront property in the city of Cartersville prior to 1870. It is likely these were medical and drug store fronts.

A deed filed by Dr. Kirkpatrick describes a property he purchased from Mr. Blain Bradshaw on August 18, 1866. The deed in Book R page 133 describes the lot in the 4th District fronting Main Street for 20 feet and 200 feet deep to the south.

A legal transaction filed in Book P, Page 278 and 279 on December 1, 1866 between Dr. Best and Samuel R. Kramer strikes an agreement that Dr. Best will establish a Wholesale and Retail Drug Store with half the profits going to Mr. Kramer. The agreement is structured to only reflect Dr. Best’s name in the Business and no requirement to use Mr. Kramer’s name. The deal is bonded with a $1200.00 payment from Dr. Best to Mr. Kramer. However, no property boundaries are described.

In the late 1860’s, advertisements are found in the local newspapers reflecting that Kirkpatrick and Best operated separate pharmaceutical and medical practices. The primary promotions were about drugs with little about medical services.

In 1868 and 69, Dr. Best advertises that he removed his stock from under the Bartow House and moved to Main Street next to the Gilbert & Company Hardware store. (A cross reference of news ads place the store a few doors east of the current day Legion Theater)

Cartersville Semi Weekly, Circa 1869 / C’ville Express, July 31, 1868 / C’ville Express, Oct. 30,1868

The joint partnership between Dr. Kirkpatrick and Dr. Best was documented by 1869 and is likely the partnership genisus  between Best and Kirkpatrick. However, it appears they moved locations and/or had multiple store fronts between them.

The above newspaper ads offer reasonable evidence of where Dr. Best’s Drug Store was located in 1868, between the former First National Bank and Legion Theater block.

According to deed book Q, page 645 Mr. W. H. Gilbert sells his property on West Main to Mr. J. W. Harris, Sr. in 1868. The boundary description lists it runs 24 feet on Main Street and bounded on the east by drug store of Mr. J. F. Best.

In 1879, according to Book V, Page 278, Dr. Best sells a one level brick store to Mr. T. W. H. Harris. The property is described as 24 feet by 200 feet fronting West Main Street where Mr. Sayre and Mr. Jackson are still doing business.

According to frequent newspaper ads Best and Kirkpatrick often competed, but eventually became partners around 1869. Their partnership ads claimed their business to be the “Oldest House (Pharmacy) in Cartersville.” Ads often featured customer testimonials regarding medicinal products for livestock and patients.

The local newspapers reflect considerable ad competition among drug houses during this period. Other local drug stores were D. W. Curry, Dr. M. G. Williams, Dr. O. Pinkerton, M. F. Word and several out of town ads from Atlanta, LaGrange and out of state solicitations. Interestingly, there was a frequent ad from Pemberton, Taylor & Company as well.

According to an 1875 Standard and Express newspaper article Dr. Kirkpatrick and Sayre may have assumed full operation of the business by 1874. However, it was lost to a fire soon after, but the business was re-established by Dr. Kirkpatrick and restored to its full operation. No location is mentioned.

As a contrast to Asa Candler’s time in Cartersville, Bartow has yet other connections to the Coca Cola story. Many are familiar with the Young Brothers Drug store located on the corner of Main Street at the crossing of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

Here can be seen the famous Coca Cola logo painted on the exterior east wall next to the railroad. This sign was painted in 1894 and has been validated by the Coca Cola Company as the world’s first painted outdoor Coca Cola sign. The sign has been restored many times and including the original misspelled word, “Drink” that was corrected on the fly by squeezing in the letter “i.” This clever graphical remedy eludes most spectators and is only noticeable upon close inspection.


As the legend goes, Young Brothers Pharmacy located next to the railroad worked with a very talented syrup salesman to hand paint an outdoor sign designed to attract attention of arriving train passengers as they stopped at the near by depot. At the time Coca Cola was not bottled and had to be served at the counter. The marketing strategy was to draw customers into the store using the new drink and signage as a ploy. This mural sign has been determined by Coca Cola to be the very first outdoor advertising ever posted by the company and may have led the way to the iconic Coca Cola signage. A letter from Coca Cola acknowledging the wall sign is available in the Young Brother’s Pharmacy.

Additionally, Cartersville had one other connection to the famous soft drink. In the early days of the new beverage, the drink was extra popular because of the soda fizz feature. As everyone knows the formula that composes the syrup is a secret and has been kept confidential since it was created by Dr. Pemberton. Cartersville once again played a role in Coca Cola history by putting the fizz in the drink. A product called dolomite used to create a carbonated fizz was mined here in Cartersville at Ladd’s Mountain in the early days of the beverage production.

Research reveals that between 1868 and 1960 there were as many as four drug stores on west Main Street

In 1873, Asa completed his apprenticeship and struck out for Atlanta in hopes of owning his own pharmacy. There, Asa found employment at one of George Howard’s pharmacies.

Concurrently, Civil War physician and druggist John Pemberton from Columbus, Georgia had a thriving drug business in Atlanta. Pemberton had invented the carbonated drink and continued to perfect it over several years. His first versions were called French Wine Cola and did include wine as an ingredient. Prohibition was enacted by 1886 forcing Pemberton to cease selling the product and returning him to the laboratory to re-invent his drink. His next creation became a temperance beverage that evolved into the Coca Cola we know today.

john Pemberton
John Pemberton

Asa Candler worked hard at Howard’s Pharmacy and formed a partnership with a colleague to purchase half ownership in one of his stores. Candler eventually bought out the remaining half. He became a business acquaintance of Pemberton and soon purchased a large share of the interest in the soft drink venture.

Eventually, Asa Candler would completely purchase the upstart beverage for an astounding low price of $2300.00. He would improve production and develop a world – class business.

The Asa Candler connection to Cartersville has two final surprises relating to this community. First, in 1878, Asa married Lucy E. Howard, daughter to Mr. George J. Howard, the man who gave him his first employment in the drug business.

Lucy was born in Cartersville on September 28, 1859. She and Asa had five children before she died at the age of fifty – nine. Asa married again in 1923 to May Little Ragin.

Secondly, in 1902, according to deed book KK, page 147 and 148, Asa Candler purchases his sister’s (Florence C. Harris) home located on the corner of West Main and Bartow Street. This four acre tract was the property of Mr. J. W. Harris, Sr. Seventy five years later this site became the location of Owens Funeral Home and later the Cartersville Police Department. Asa sells this property a few days later to Mrs. L. R. Knight. Florence died February 16, 1926 in Atlanta at the home of Asa Candler. She was returned to Cartersville for burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Additionally Asa’s brother Samuel C. Candler married a Cartersville girl, Kate Hammond and his younger brother, Warren Akin Candler was named for Bartow’s own Warren Akin. Samuel is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cartersville.

One can better grasp the “Asa in Cartersville” story once you realize the place and influence of the W. J. Harris family. Mr. Harris was a judge who was active in the buying and selling of real estate including the drug store space used by Dr. Best. These relationships likely played a major role in how Asa came to be an apprentice for Dr. Best and Kirkpatrick via his sister, Florence.

The strongest case for where Asa apprenticed may be associated with the brick store building located on West Main Street. The deed states that Sayer and Jackson were still doing business on the property at the time of the 1879 sale. Also a newspaper ad found in the Cartersville Free Press, October 6, 1881 features M. F. Word, druggist stating he is located at the old stand of Sayre and Company on West Main Street. This same property is referenced again in deed book X, page 51 when purchased in 1883, by Mr. D. W. Curry. This would be consistent with three druggists (Best, Curry and Word) practicing in succession in what appears to be the same building. However, the most compelling evidence is the 1868 sale of the W. H. Gilbert Hardware Store to Mr. J. W. Harris listing the Best Drug Store on the east boundary and fronting Main Street.

A May 1, 1879 article in the Free Press, praises Mr. David W. Curry for his enterprising nature having expanded his store and credits him with purchasing the establishment of Sayre and Company. The article mentions that M. F. Word will remain at the former establishment as clerk. A later article in the Cartersville Express, October 3, 1879 also mentions Curry has two stores and that Drs. Kirkpatrick and Jackson continue to practice the drug trade as well. Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Wikle are also mentioned as recent doctors to the new establishment and to be popular druggists.

The quest to precisely locate the physical space on West Main Street once occupied by Best and Kirkpatrick’s apothecary  that once served as the training ground narrows to the row of store fronts on West Main that are between the W&A RR tracks and Erwin Street.  All we approximately know about the store front  location is that both Dr. Kirkpatrick and Dr. Best, according to deed records, each owned multiple store space fronting West Main Street.

Deed records indicated that Dr. Best sold off his store in 1879 and a news article states that the front owned by Dr. Kirkpatrick was destroyed by fire and then rebuilt, but with no date or address.

While there is documented evidence that Best and Kirkpatrick operated in several locations on West Main Street between the former Legion Theater and the railroad more concrete evidence is cited in Asa Candler’s obituary. According to an article published in the Tribune News on March 14, 1929, it is noted the suspected storefront where Asa trained was located in the former Gilreath Drug Store front located at 14 West Main Street. This store front became the Gilreath/Champion Drug Store. The drug store was bought out by Champion and later relocated next door to the First National Bank on the corner of Main and Erwin Street. An additional article appearing in the February 21, 1918 Bartow Tribune also mentions that Asa Candler was employed in the former Gilreath-Champion  Drug Company building about 3 doors west of the W&A Railroad tracks on Main Street.

Becky Champion, recalls hearing her grandfather, “Gran Tom” talk about Asa Candler and the small iron frog paperweight left behind.   Ben Gilreath found it and then passed it to the Champions. Becky displays it proudly at her desk.

Cartersville has known more than a dozen locally owned family drug stores since 1900 and others before then. Recent generations fondly look back to names like; Bert Smith Drugs, Cochran Drugs, Gilreath and Champion Drugs, Young Brothers Pharmacy and Holt Pharmacy.

We may never know precisely where young Asa Candler learned his trade and slept on a cot in the rear of the Cartersville store. However, this research has narrowed the possibilities to a one block span. It further addresses the mythical question that Young Brothers Pharmacy is not the store Asa Candler once trained in as an apprentice, because the building was built in 1881, well after Asa left Cartersville.

Who knew the Asa Candler connection to Cartersville was so varied and deep. This has been a sleeping story waiting to be told and has escaped our citizens for over 100 years.

It is now time to properly place Asa Candler more prominently within our county history and prominent personalities.


Candler, John, Untitled biographical sketch of Asa Candler, Typed manuscript, (1929) Charles Howard Candler Papers, Special Collections, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University


The Standard & Express, Cartersville Newspaper ad, 1/10/1872, P 4

The Standard & Express, Cartersville Newspaper ad, 1/11/1872, P 4

The Standard & Express, Cartersville Newspaper, Sayer and Kirkpatrick article, 5/6/1875

Tribune News, March 25, 1926, Article, Large Gift Memory Late Mrs. Harris

Tribune News, March 14, 1929, Asa Candler Obituary

Cartersville Courant, September 16, 1886, City Business Directory (Word and Curry)

Cartersville Express, October 30, 1868 (Boot ad referencing Gilbert Hardware on Main)

Cartersville Express, October 3, 1879

Free Press, May 1. 1879

Bartow Tribune, February 21, 1918, Asa G. Candler Spent Several Years of His Early Manhood in City of Cartersville


Candler, Asa, Letter to to Dr. Asa Griggs, September 11, 1872, Emory University Archives

Deed Records

Bartow County deed book P, page 728, 1867, Legal Agreement for 50% profits

Bartow County deed book P, page 728, 729, January 14, 1867

Bartow County deed book Q, page 645 and 646, 1868, Gilbert sale listing Best Store, east side

Bartow County deed book V, page 278, 279, Sayer and Jackson still doing business

Bartow County deed book P, page 679, 1866

Bartow County deed book P, page 278, 1879

Bartow County deed book R, page 133, 1866

Bartow County deed book X, 51, 1883

Bartow County deed book W, page 381, 1880

Bartow County deed book II, page 7, 1891

Bartow County deed book EE, page 649, 1894, Harris, Sr sells home to Florence

US Census, 1870, Bartow County, page 15, William Kirkpatrick, Druggist

US Census, 1870, Bartow County, page 20, S. G. Hillyer, Teacher

US Census, 1870, Bartow County, page 357, John W. F. Best, Druggist

Cartersville Residence Directory, 1883, Etowah Valley Historical Society

Sanborn Maps from 1885


Etowah Valley Historical Society, Records, Microfilm Newspapers and Archives

Bartow History Museum, Archives

Bartow County Genealogical Society, Microfilm Newspapers

Lynn Gentry, Bartow County Deeds and Records Office


Secondary Sources

– Abrams, Ann Uhry, Formula for Fortune, iUniverse, 2012

– Bio Sketch from Atlanta Centennial Book, 1837 – 1937

– Cunyus, Lucy, History of Bartow County Formerly Cass: Southern Historical Press, Greenville, South Carolina, 1933.

– Kemp, Katheryn. God’s Capitalist Asa Candler of Coca Cola: Mercer University Press, Macon, GA,    2002

– Pierce, Alfred M., Giant Against the Sky,  The Life of Bishop Warren Akin Candler, 1948

–, The Asa Candler genealogy