Community Cornerstones: The Baptist Landscape in Bartow County, Georgia

By Amy Young

Presented to the Etowah Valley Historical Society in Completion of an Internship Program under the Direction of Joe F. Head as EVHS Intern Field Supervisor and Dr. Jennifer Dickey and Dr. David Parker at Kennesaw State University

December 3, 2018

For anyone who has traveled in the southernmost parts of the Appalachian Mountains, there is one fact that is entirely clear: it is impossible to go more than five miles without passing a church building off the side of the road, to see the standard “old country church on a hill.” These religious centers are everywhere, existing in a variety of denominations: Baptists, Methodists, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal. There are dozens of church buildings dotting the countryside, cities, and towns in this region of the United States. Each has their own history, their own unique congregations made up from people of all walks of life. To the passerby, there is nothing significant in these buildings, sprawling campuses, hills covered in grave markers, or words on the sign that tell the rest of the world what type of congregation meets in the building. However, a deeper examination shows there is much to be learned from these blurs on the landscape.

The most prominent Protestant denomination in America is Baptist, the faith that makes up the largest percentage of these meeting houses in the southern Appalachians.[1] According to a study completed by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2017, they found “one-third of Protestants, or 32 percent, identify with some Baptist denomination…”[2] However, as many researchers have pointed out, signs on the outside reading “Baptist Church” does not mean they are all the same on the inside. This idea has been around for quite some time. In 1886, John H. Spencer published A History of Kentucky Baptists: From 1769 to 1885. In it, he approaches the idea of there being more than one “sect” of Baptists.[3] Deborah Vansau McCauley used this in her own argument against blurring all types of Baptists into one in the introduction to her work Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History. For her argument, Baptists are lenses through which to examine mountain religion in the Appalachia region; however, it is too narrow of a vision to use it to generalize about churches that exist in the region.[4]

In the most basic of terms, there are a few common threads that are true of all Baptist churches. Three of them, in particular, are critical to understanding the Baptists and what sets them apart from other Protestant denominations. One, the Baptist denomination believes in the Bible “as the sole written authority for faith and practice.”[5] Second, people will choose to believe in salvation of their own accord at any given age. It is then, when they have made this choice in free will through faith believing they will be fully immersed in baptism. The last is the belief that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are both symbolic practices that are not necessary for salvation.[6] Beyond these minimal fundamental truths, there is significant variation between the beliefs and practices between Baptist congregations.

Apart from the theological differences, it is also important to understand the organizational structure of a Baptist Church is not only quite different from other denominations but can vary tremendously. For example, compare Baptists to Methodists. For Methodist churches, particularly those a part of the United Methodist Church, governance falls in the hands of a select few. According to the United Methodist Church website, the responsibility is divided among three ruling bodies: The General Conference, the Council of Bishops, and the Judicial Council.[7] Baptists are entirely different. There is no top-down governance of the Baptist churches. In the same way each congregation of Baptists is different, each is governed differently, typically in a more “democratic” fashion.[8] It is the members of the church that have a voice and a vote for when it comes to governing the church, which typically happens in conference meetings, held at appointed times. While women in one Baptist church may not be allowed to speak in a conference meeting, at another they might have the ability to elect a female minister.[9] Even with such organizations as the Southern Baptist Convention and the American Baptist Association in existence, they are not meant to govern the churches; instead, they are “fellowships of Baptist churches who have elected to associate with each other for the furtherance of the cause of Christ on Earth.”[10] It is for this reason there is such a variation among the denomination.

Despite the many variations and differences, the Baptist faith is a critical cornerstone of communities in areas of Appalachian culture. Baptist churches and their physical presence on the landscape have evolved over time to meet the needs of their communities as they have progressed, to be places of refugee for religious thought, and to continue to exert their influence on the population. Bartow County, Georgia is the perfect place to examine how community influences the characteristics and developments in a Baptist church. Of the 100 or more Baptist churches in Bartow County, no two are exactly alike. The individuality of each congregation has created a variety of Baptist cultures in less than 500 square miles, each important in their own way to understanding the role it plays as a cornerstone in its respective community.

Churches are unique in their capability of serving as ways to capture change in society over time. This stems from their foundational roles in their communities, making it easy for them to reflect their changing nature. Among Baptist churches, it is even possible to see change between different communities because of the minimal similarity between the churches. Each congregation is able to maintain its individuality. However, in 1966, Samuel Hill, Jr. pitched the idea that there was a similarity across even denominations in southern religion connected to a distinct culture in the South. In Chapter Two of his book, Southern Churches in Crisis, he addresses his belief in there being a “regional church,” meaning all churches across denominational lines are very similar to each other, as if they were part of one large body.[11] Though this theory works to support his argument for the social crises affecting religious life in the South. Thirty years later, his argument found further support in Mark R. Bell, who wrote an article entitled, “Continued Captivity: Religion in Bartow County, Georgia” to examine the changes in southern religion since the publishing of Hill’s book. Bell uses such common threads as salvation and bible-centeredness between Protestant denominations in Bartow County to further the idea of hegemony.[12]

In the same year Bell released his article, the Southern Anthropological Society published Religion in the Contemporary South: Diversity, Community, and Identity, edited by O. Hendall White, Jr. and Daryl White. This work refutes the claims of Hill and Bell about an overarching similarity between all southern churches of all denominations. In the introduction alone, they acknowledge the religious identity of different churches has split up and further individualized over time. They also make the statement, “… Religion in [the] South is more diverse… than when the analysis of… Hill first appeared.”[13] Upon further study of the Baptist denomination in Bartow County, it is sensible to conclude White and White were correct. There is a clear pattern of individuality amongst the churches over time than Hill or Bell acknowledged in their works. Such diversity would not exist without the unique position of each church in its community.

Historical Background

Oakland Heights Baptist Church, taken by Amy Young

Prior to 1832, what is now Bartow County had been Native American territory for thousands of years. Hernando de Soto had been the first European to encounter the Indians in the area, noting the mound-builder culture in modern day northwest Georgia.[14] These were the Etowah Valley Indians, Mississippian culture natives that were residing in what is now Bartow County. Though these natives would abandon the area, others would come to replace them, the Creek and Cherokee Indians.[15] It was these native groups that were living in this part of Georgia when the Europeans came and established a royal colony on the coast. Up from the coast of Savannah and down from the Carolinas, settlers spread all over the interior of the state, looking for farmable land and natural resources to exploit. Missions were also being spread, particularly into areas where Native Americans lived. One of the first American establishments near Bartow County in modern day Gordon County was the Moravian mission, located near the community of Adairsville.[16] Overtime, more settlers flooded in to the area as a result of the Georgia Land Lottery. Gold had also been discovered in north Georgia in 1828, flooding the mountains for those in search of wealth. Despite coming with varying purposes, the people in the area came together on December 3, 1832 and established Cass County, Georgia.[17]

Cass County grew and developed for less than thirty years before the breakout of the Civil War. Initially, it had little impact on the county or the rest of the region, only seeing minor instances like the famed Great Locomotive Chase.[18] Later in the conflict, the war hit Georgia head on. Sherman marched through Cass County, camping in the area, tearing buildings down for shelter and heat, and burning large parts of it to the ground. During the course of the war, the county was renamed Bartow County, after Francis Bartow, the first Confederate Civil War officer killed at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run).[19] Since the conclusion of the war, the communities of Bartow have been ever on the rise. Industries have come and population has risen; however, parts of the county have remained rural, despite massive growth around the bigger centers, like the county seat of Cartersville. Today, Bartow County has a population of 105,054, the 24th largest in the state out of 159 counties.[20] It’s also the 38th largest county in the state at 470.6 square miles.[21] The county seat, Cartersville, is located an hour from both Atlanta, Georgia to the south and Chattanooga, Tennessee to the north.

The history of the Baptist Church in Bartow County flows with the history of the rest of the county. Two of the oldest recorded Baptist churches, Adairsville Baptist Church and Oothcalooga Baptist Church, were both born out of the Moravian mission located north of the modern Bartow County border.[22] More were established throughout out the 19th century as the population grew and small communities began to develop. Some of these communities would grow into the main six cities that still exist today: Cartersville, Adairsville, White, Emerson, Kingston, and Euharlee.[23] Additionally, there are dozens of other, smaller communities: ATCO, Cassville, Stilesboro, Taylorsville, Grassdale, Rydal, Mechanicsville, Allatoona, and Crossroads, to name a few.

The churches have not been immune to the afflictions that have affected the county since its start. Several faced destruction during the Civil War. Most notable was the destruction at Cartersville First Baptist Church. The church building served as a temporary base for General Sherman and his troops as they passed through the county. They tore down much of the building for firewood, to build quarters for themselves, and to add chimneys to their tents.[24] They also used the building as a temporary barn for their horses. War is not the only disasters these churches have had to face. Natural disasters, such as tornadoes, have frequently impacted the county, causing massive amounts of damage. One of the most famous instances of tornado damage happened at Euharlee Baptist Church. The building was ripped right down the middle by a tornado. It remained that way for many years, with only “a wide piece of metal anchored on each side” that made the wood floor uneven.[25] Another disaster that has impacted these churches is hate crime. Two Baptist churches in the county have been victims of vandalization in the past three decades. Despite the struggles, the Baptist faith is stronger in Bartow County today than ever before. According to the most recent findings, there are an estimated 112 individual Baptist churches that have existed in the county since it was founded. An estimated 85-90% of these churches are still in operation today, doors open to the population of Bartow. The denomination has been present for nearly 200 years and continues to grow; 5-10% of the current Baptist churches in the county have been established in the last 25 years. With such a long history in the area, it is important to understand how the physical presence of these churches and their individuality based off their unique congregations come together to meet community needs, encourage religious thought, and spread their influence in the many communities of Bartow County.

Churches and Cemeteries on the Landscape

Heritage Baptist Church, taken by Amy Young

For the Baptist churches in Bartow County, their primary foothold is planted with the acquisition of land. As individual farms become neighborhoods and small communities, there comes a point where people need a place to come and congregate together. For many of the small, rural communities in Bartow County, the best place for this was the community church. People in the early 1800s tended to be deeply religious compared to modern society and desired a place to come together and worship. They could build community with their neighbors instead of continuing to worship in their homes alone, a practice many had been exercising for generations. However, the meeting houses dotting the county landscape would not exist without the property they sit on. Most of the early Baptist churches were built on land that was donated to founding members to be used for religious purposes. This donation of land is evidence of how the establishment of churches was a way of creating community centers as people moved into the area.

Oothcalooga, one of the oldest Baptist congregations in Bartow County, was also one of the first to receive their land donated to them for the purpose of establishing a church. The land for this church came from the Whiteside family, one of the first families to move near modern-day Adairsville. Jonathan and Susannah King Whiteside came to the area from North Carolina in 1830.[26] They were known to be “earnest and content members of the Baptist Church” and contributed to establishing a place of worship in their new-found home.[27] Though the date is unknown, the Whitesides donated six acres to the trustees for a church and a cemetery. The original deed recording this transaction was destroyed in the Civil War, so a replacement deed was recorded in October 1868.[28] In this record, it is stated the Whitesides donated the land “for and in consideration of heretofore conveying the said for the use of the said church as aforesaid, and being still desirous of promoting the interest of said church and for the advancement of the cause of Christianity…”[29] The Whitesides may have been the first, but they were not the only family to donate land for churches to promote the Christian cause in Bartow County. This is a practice that carried on well into the 20th century.

It is unique for the land to have been 100% donated to the trustees of the church, as in the case of Oothcalooga Baptist. Many churches transfer the land for the meager cost of $1.00. It was, however, a consistent pattern for the deeds to include the stipulation if the land were to stop being used for church purposes, the land would revert back to the grantor and they would have the right to reclaim ownership. It is also notable that such a majority of deeds made in this way were from women. The deed to the land for Clear Creek Baptist Church hits each of these three markers: the land was donated by Mrs. Elsie Lou Farmer in 1953 for $1.00 with the stipulation the land would go back to the grantor if no longer used for church purposes.[30] Etowah Valley Baptist Church was also donated its land in October 1941 by Mrs. E. W. Earwood.[31] Another example is Fairview Baptist Church near ATCO, land donated for $1.00 by Mrs. Annie Laurie Jones Cunyus in December 1937.[32] All these churches were established on donated land. The Baptist faith in Bartow County would not have had such a long history of being a root in the development of these communities without having land to build places to congregate. The presence of these churches on the landscape of Bartow today is a testament to the sacrifice and donations these individuals and their families made to make Baptist churches the center of community life.

Despite freely giving the land to be used for religious purposes, not all donors gave the land without a cost. They were spawning community development, but with their own provisions written into the deed records. The first deed for the establishment of Oakland Heights Baptist Church is an extreme case of what a stipulation could look like. The land for the church, donated in February of 1954, was donated by C.C. Carroll, one of the trustees of the future church. He donated the land as a testament to his love of the gospel, concern for his fellow man, and “to support and aid in the moral and religious advancement in his community.”[33] Carroll did donate the land for the betterment of his community; however, he had his requirements or the land would revert back to him. The following are his terms and conditions as recorded in the deed:

That said property shall be used only for a place of worship and religious education by the Methodist church, the Baptist church, and any other Protestant religious organization which may be approved by the unanimous vote and agreement of said trustees. That said church shall always maintain an Holy Altar for prayer and repentance. That no disparing, vicious, malicious or unkind statement of allegation shall be made by any preacher, speaker, or teacher about the faith and belief of any other Protestant religion. That this church shall never be affiliated with any organization and shall always remain free, independent and unconnected with an organization. That in the event said church shall cease to operate and fail to hold religious service for a period of one year then said property shall revert to said Grantor his heirs and assigns, and be his property in fee simple, and all interests of the Oakland Heights Community Church in said property shall cease and be at an end forever.[34]

The land for the establishment of Oakland Heights was donated very differently than the land for Oothcalooga. This land was donated with more emphasis put on advancing the cause of Christianity and less on creating a place of worship in a community without one. According to an interview with Ann Nix Dussault and Betty Nix Cowart, contemporary church members that have been there since the foundation of the church, the people that became members of Oakland Heights had previously been attending church elsewhere.[35] The establishment of Oakland helped the community on distance traveled to church, and it created the first Baptist church in the community; however, there was not an overwhelming need for the creation of a new church. The lengthy list of stipulations in the above deed also confirm this fact. A community in need of a church to take root would not be quite as picky about its alter placement or affiliation with an organization.

Over time, the acquisition of land evolved from needing land to build churches to instead needing land for cemeteries. As communities around the churches grew, the practice of private, family cemeteries faded and the dead were buried in church cemeteries, right beside their neighbors. This need for land for cemeteries was also driven by the population growth of the county. As more people moved into the area, there was a greater need for places to bury the deceased. Today, less than two-thirds of the Baptist churches in Bartow County have cemeteries associated with them. However, these cemeteries are critical to understanding the people who lived in these communities and their relations to one another.

The cemetery for Bethany Baptist Church is one of the most diverse in the county. The exact establishment date is believed to have been in the 1870s, but there are graves in the cemetery dating back as early as the 1820s. There are three different sections of this cemetery: the white and members of the church section, the African-American slave section, and the Native American section. The two latter sections of the cemetery are separated on the west side together. Church tradition is they took care of and cleaned the white section of the cemetery, while blacks who had ancestors in the African-American cemetery came to clean the other. No one comes to care for the Native American section; in fact, most of this section was grave-robbed prior to 1945 and it is uncertain there is anything left in the section. To stand in this cemetery, however, you can feel the racial tensions that once existed in the area.[36]

After World War II, more land is needed for the building of new and larger church buildings than needed to increase sizes of cemeteries. Population and community involvement are booming, forcing new churches to be established and old churches to build bigger facilities. A similar wave of development happened again in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In these phases of church land growth, there is a noticeable reversal of the relationship between the church and the community. In land gains prior to World War II, it was the community making efforts, such as donating land or helping raise the funds, to support the church. After this transition back, however, records make it clear it was the church working within itself to attempt to increase its influence in the community.

The best example of this reversal of the relationship between the church and the community in the 1990s is at Heritage Baptist Church, one of the youngest Baptist churches in Bartow County. The unique story behind this church is key to understanding how the relationship has changed. Over time, churches have strayed from their traditions so they may meet a wider audience of patrons. In 1987, a group of about one hundred people in the First Baptist Church of Cartersville congregation formed a new church to accommodate Bartow County’s growing population, as the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Cartersville had outgrown their current building.[37] The new congregation began to meet on the second floor of the C&S Bank of Cartersville in 1987.  They remained in this location for two years while building a church at its current location. Work on this facility was completed by September of 1993. This church was born with a drive to be a progressive, inclusive church.[38] One of the first things they did to ensure their foundation in this ideology was to draft their own, personalized Church Covenant. This living document preserved the vision the founders had of creating an inclusive church. The first draft was introduced in 1989; however, in keeping in tone with the church ideology, it is occasionally reviewed and updated. The changes in the covenant are as constant as the changes in the congregation, so it continuously reflects the calling of the church.[39] Another way in which the church has been progressive is through supporting equality for men and women in the church. From the beginning, “women and men have shared equally in leadership at Heritage, including the role of ministers and deacons”.[40] One of the first examples of this is when Ms. Rachel Lackey was called to be full time Minister of Music and Youth in 1988. She was later ordained by the congregation in 1991.[41]

To a modern church-goer, what happened at Heritage Baptist Church does not sound radical. The church it is today is no different from other non-denominational megachurches in the area. The things Heritage did, however, where a first for the Baptist faith in Bartow County. It radically changed the game. This church was established for the sole purpose of appealing to a wider congregation; to lower their barriers and be more inclusive of those with all sorts of ideas about religious doctrine. At Heritage, the doctrine can change with the congregation as it changes over time. Since this instance with Heritage, other churches have followed in its footsteps. The most recent example is Vision Baptist Church, which was founded in 2012. The minister who founded this church was driven by his desire to create a more biblical, New Testament church.[42] This is a perfect example of how Baptist churches use their freedom and individuality in their congregation to accomplish their purpose. To a passerby, each building blurs together, the churches inseparable from the rest. However, the property and the physical building of these churches can tell the world a lot about how the people came to live in the area and why their Baptist faith was important to them.

Different Types of Structures and Their Purposes

Cartersville First Baptist Church, taken by Amy Young

Apart from the actual changes of land ownership of the Baptist churches of Bartow County throughout the years that led to these churches being at the center of community life, what these churches developed on these tracts of land remain as a testament to the ebb and flow of religious dedication that sprouted out of the foundational roots in the area. They also give contemporaries a sense of the importance of these church sites as education centers, organizational centers, and overall periods of increase in church attendance. Some see such an increase they become career centers, hiring full-time employees and even providing housing for “career pastors” and their families. However, each Baptist church has had the freedom to choose their own pace of expansion, leading some to have progressed more than others.

After the turn of the century, there was an increased desire in these small rural communities to provide children with an education, not only a religious education but a secular one as well. From the 1900s through the 1920s, many churches are established with this purpose in mind. The buildings provide religious education on Sunday, then reading, writing, and arithmetic on the weekdays. In some cases, the school was established before a congregation laid claim to the building. A similar increase in educational interest is seen again in the 1950s. Previously established congregations expand and build larger educational facilities. However, these tended to only meet the needs of religious education. Standard schooling was now managed at the county level. Deed records show despite this church-and-state separation, they were still very much interconnected with each other, as the Bartow County Board of Education often sold land to churches yet maintained the right to reclaim it if it was needed once more for educational purposes.[43] In the past twenty-five years, the churches have reemerged on the scene of combined religious and state education by opening private schools. Several of the larger Baptist congregations in the county operate private schools at the church site. In the educational marks on the land alone, it is easy to see how dedication to religious education has waned to only a select few in the course of a little over 100 years.

It is a widely accepted fact for centuries, churches have not only been places of worship, but served a dual purpose of also being places to receive an education. For many of the small, rural churches spread across the county, their roots are in both secular education and religious purposes. One of the earliest examples of this is at Euharlee Baptist Church, known in the 1800s as Mount Paran Baptist Church. The exact date Mount Paran was established is unknown; however, Coosa Association records indicate church activity in the 1840s[44]. By 1853, the church had established Mount Paran School in the community by an act of legislature. It was two private schools, one for girls and one for boys, operated for roughly forty years before the buildings burned.[45] Though providing education to the community, it is unusual that the school was private. It was much more common for churches to be expanding their roots in the community through offering the first public schools in the area.

Mount Pisgah Baptist Church is an example of one such church. The church itself was formerly established in 1913.[46] Prior to this, people in the small area of Cave, Georgia, were having revival meetings and regular worship services in a brush harbor, since the nearest Baptist churches were several miles away in Kingston and Cassville.[47] It was in 1913 when they got together to build a meeting house. Due to the issue of distance, Mount Pisgah also became home to the local school in the area. However, this was only very brief before all the schools in Bartow County were consolidated in the 1920s.[48] A similar situation was happening north of Mount Pisgah decades earlier at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. In the 1830s, couple John and Winnie Reagan moved into the rural area and saw a need for a church and a schoolhouse in the community. They built a log cabin on the family land that was used for both purposes for many years.[49] Another example is Pine Log Baptist Church of Christ, located on the east side of the county. The deed that donated the original land to the church specifically states that is was donated with the purpose of being a place to hold public worship and fulfill school purposes.[50] These examples just show the roots of Baptist churches and schools were very much intertwined in the early days of Bartow County.

On some occasions, the school actually came before the establishment of the church. These were communities that turned to educational priorities prior to religiously dedicating themselves. The schools that came after churches were collectively established later than the schools that came before churches. The earliest example is outside the Rydal community at Oak Hill Baptist Church. This church was formerly established in 1875. However, prior to this formal establishment, the congregation had been meeting at the local school, and continued to meet there until in 1898, when a local physician named Dr. Baker donated land for a cemetery and a new church to be built, which was finished in 1902.[51] A similar case happened at Snow Springs Baptist Church in the rural area west of Adairsville. Founding members meet in the local Davis School House on August 15, 1886 when they officially organized the church.[52] ATCO Baptist Church was organized in the exact same way, meeting in the auditorium of ATCO School on November 27, 1909, to organize a Baptist church.[53] Floyd Creek Baptist Church is another in the county that came out of a schoolhouse. It was meeting at the Snatch Pone one room schoolhouse prior to receiving its own land to build a church in the 1880s.[54]

The best example of the relationship between the school and church developing their roots together at the start of a community was in the Crossroads community, which was in the far-out rural areas of the southwest corner of the county. Bethel Crossroads Baptist Church was established in 1900 by residents of the Crossroads School community.[55] They met for services in a brush arbor until they secured property near the Crossroads School House in 1902 and constructed a building there. Confusion about the proper name of the church also comes from its proximity to the school. The official name of the church has always been Bethel Baptist Church. For many years, however, it was referred to as Crossroads Baptist Church because of its location at the intersection of two roads and its location near the school.[56]

The consolidation of Bartow County schools separated the roots of the churches and schools in small communities as they had been for decades. However, they still remain intertwined. Deed records in Bartow County show the Bartow County School system, when consolidating the schools, gained the land these schoolhouses and church buildings sat upon. There are several churches that received their land from the Bartow County school system once the county schools that served a larger area were established. Dewey Baptist Church was one of these churches. It is unknown whether the church existed prior to this land arrangement, but in July of 1923, the Bartow County Board of Education released one acre of land to Dewey Baptist Church.[57] Stoner Chapel Baptist Church was another that received their land from the board of education. On October 26, 1944, Stoner Chapel received roughly one acre of land for and in consideration of $1 to build their church.[58] However, there is a stipulation in the deed: “when the property herein conveyed ceases to be used for church purposes, it reverts back to the grantor herein.”[59] It is interesting the county school system kept their claim to the land, showing for the first-time secular education priorities instead of an intertwined relationship between the church and the state. 

For some, the public-school system cannot provide the desired type of education they want their children to have. Because of this, there has been an increase in private schools run by churches cropping up among the biggest churches in the area. This is not a new idea in Bartow County: there have been three separate religious colleges operated in the region at one time or another, the Cherokee Baptist College, the Sam Jones Female College, and the Antioch Bible Baptist College. The Cherokee Baptist College, in fact, was established by Adairsville Baptist Church and later became a part of the Bartow County School System, transformed into Adairsville Elementary, Middle, and High Schools.[60] Recent trends, however, have been to religious education for younger children. Most of the churches operating schools today are running private preschool programs. This exemplifies a rededication to the Baptist faith in the last few decades happening across Bartow County at the bigger churches who can afford to operate a school.

Tabernacle Baptist Church, located in downtown Cartersville, operates the oldest known church-run schools by a Baptist church in the county. They operate a weekday preschool program and kindergarten program at the church established in 1964. According to the church’s website, “the purpose of the preschool is to offer families in our community a program that combines the highest standards in early childhood education within a Christian environment where children can grow spiritually, physically intellectually, emotionally, and socially.”[61] This purpose behind the creation of the school would not have come about without people looking to provide a more religious foundation for their children in their education. This is reinforced further in the descriptions of the four classes the church offers. In each class description, the religious element of the class content is emphasized and detailed. The Bible is taught through various methods in each of the classes, the main thread in each of the classes.[62]

There are two other prominent Baptist churches in Bartow County that offer private schools for the youth. Grace Baptist Church, a church that branched out of Tabernacle Baptist Church, operates a pre-K through 12th grade at their location on Old Cassville White Road. The second was developed more recently at Oakland Heights Baptist Church. Since its establishment in 2012, it has grown slowly, with only 35 students enrolled in the past year. The creation of the facilities was part of a 2.3 million expansion of the church completed in 2010. Its set up is fairly similar to that of Tabernacle Baptist Church. Despite the school currently being on the small side, it is easy to see that the church would not feel it necessary to operate such a school if there was not a demand for it in the community. Hence, religious dedication through education lives on in Bartow County.[63]

Though few have turned to operating their own preschools as a method of furthering the Christian message in the county, a simpler alternative has been for many to expand their youth ministries. They are using these institutions instead to support growing religious education. One prime example is Cartersville First Baptist Church. Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, they operate their preschool ministry entitled “The Nest.” Through it, they reach their birth through pre-school audience, helping them to develop a foundation in religious education. However, to accommodate for being only a twice-weekly service, The Nest ministry at Cartersville First Baptist issues a monthly newsletter entitled “Parent Cue.”[64] It is a supplemental at-home guide to furthering religious education beyond the twice-weekly in person lessons at the church. The October 2018 issue includes the scripture covered in each week’s classes, major themes for the month, and strategies to engage with the lessons at home.[65] These items encourage a continuous conversation about Christian lessons, demonstrating the push for dedicated, religious lives in these church communities today.

There is a lengthy and close relationship between schools and churches. From being established in the same building to be conceived by the same people, it was not until the consolidation of schools their pillars in the community were separated. Despite the emphasis put on secular education, many of the Baptist churches put more emphasis on religious education for their congregations. This dedication to religiously educate the masses has been recorded in the dozens of church renovations and expansions include additions of educational spaces, such as Sunday school classrooms and annexes. Sunday school has been one of the biggest pushes from within the church to deepen their roots and community holdings.

The biggest wave in expansion for educational purposes came after the 1940s, in response to the secular schools pulling out of association with the churches. These facilities may not have been needed for reading, writing, and arithmetic students, but they certainly needed to be bigger to accommodate more Sunday school students. This spawned the need for churches to build bigger and better educational facilities. Taylorsville Baptist Church has made three such changes to its church site in less than 60 years. First, in 1951-1954, a nursery and annex building were added to the church. More education space was included in the expansions of 1978. Lastly, in 2012, a building project was started to add even more classrooms and educational resource spaces. This example proves how much of a common practice it was for churches centered in the larger communities to make such expansions for educational purposes.[66] Most Baptist churches did not go to such extreme efforts. They did small renovations, yet they still contributed to the cause of expanding educational facilities. At Oak Grove Baptist Church, the first Sunday rooms were added in 1959, only three short years after the new church building was finished.[67] Many churches have grown to include educational facilities throughout the years to further the cause of religious education. None of this would be possible without the dedication of the community members to providing their children with ample opportunity to both secular and religious education. Other expansions have been made within these Baptist church sites for purposes other than education that follow similar patterns.

Educational spaces have not been the only way in which Baptist church sites have expanded. As the sizes of congregations grew in the 1970s, it becomes necessary for the Baptist churches of Bartow County to build bigger sanctuaries to accommodate the growing populations. There are three peaks in this trend: one, with the first wave of people migrating into the area in the 1830s, 40s, and 50s; second, in the 1910s-1920s right before the Great Depression; and third, in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. These peaks are consistent with the population growth of the county. When more people arrived, there was a greater need for space in the church houses around the county. It is a testament to the religious dedication that exists in this area of the country to how church attendance- among the Baptist faith alone- has continued to increase with population.

The biggest congregations of Baptist churches have reached new levels of religious dedication by converting from volunteer leadership to career institutions. Smaller, rural churches are led by volunteers, people who dedicate time and effort into leadership positions of the church without being paid. They work regular jobs, live regular lives Monday-Saturday, fulfilling their roles in the church on Sunday. Growing congregations, however, have led bigger churches to make a change in how they fulfill their leadership positions. Today, there are individuals who dedicate their entire lives to the church, fulfilling roles such as pastor for a career instead of a voluntary job. This was not only the decision of individuals; churches encouraged this movement. One reflection of this is in the building of pastoriums. Large Baptist churches in Bartow County have been doing this for decades- they acquire houses for their pastors and their families to live in while they are at a particular church. This is the ultimate example of continuous dedication to religion within the community. Not only are congregation members paying for the pastor’s salary, they are also providing him a free place to live in exchange for his seven-days-a-week service to the congregation.

The practice of providing pastoriums for pastors and their families started much earlier than one would imagine in Bartow County. At the 1846 meeting of the Coosa Association, one of the topics discussed was “urging of the churches to support the pastor so he would not have to work,” an early example of the thinking that led to pastoriums.[68] Cartersville First Baptist Church was mostly likely the earliest to have a pastorium, acquiring their first one in 1890. It cost $1000 to build and was located across from the church’s location at the time.[69] Since the building of this initial pastorium, many more of the Baptist churches have adapted this practice as part of their property possessions. Friendship Baptist Church also had a pastorium.[70] Snow Springs Baptist Church had to build their own; however, the land was donated by Carl Smith for this purpose in 1969.[71] In 1972, Cassville Baptist Church purchased what was known as the Headden home to be used as a pastorium.[72] The acquisition of a pastorium is a way to support the congregation’s decision to go in the direction towards a career staff instead of volunteers, an indication of community’s devotion to their church and faith.

Spread of Influence in the Community

First Baptist Church of Emerson, taken by Amy Young

Baptist churches have repeatedly been a rudimentary factor in the development of communities all across the Appalachians, like current trends that are present in Bartow County, Georgia. Their properties reflect how they are continuously supported by community members as the area grows and develops. The land and the people around these churches are tightly wound together, and the buildings that go on to these properties are physical representations of the community’s dedication to have a church as a worship center, an educational facility, and a home for organizational activity. Decades of support from the communities surrounding these churches have led them to become one of the leading influential institutions in their respective communities. Over time, this has led churches to assert their positions and take a more active role in spreading their influence. Churches have moved locations and even changed their names to emphasize their position in society. Many Baptist congregations have also become heavily involved in the local missionary field to spread their influence. In these ways, the Baptists of Bartow County have embraced their leadership in community development and have planted new roots on the landscape.

A Baptist church moving locations does not exactly seem like it would be about spreading their influence in Bartow County. However, the struggle between Adairsville Baptist Church and Oothcalooga Baptist Church to become the “it” church of the Adairsville community in the 1880s proves otherwise. The location of a church within a community says a lot about the influence it strives to have on the population. Adairsville Baptist Church and Oothcalooga Baptist Church initially started as one church that grew out of the Moravian mission located near the current settlement of Adairsville.[73] The original church, Oothcalooga Church, was started on land donated by the Whitesides family in 1837; however, it is speculated that this was the date that the church at the mission site moved from the village further into Adairsville.[74] This first change of location coincides with Natives being forced from the area. Once the Natives were removed, the church was no longer needed at the Moravian mission but instead needed by the community of white settlers that had driven the Natives out of the area.

In 1864, Oothcalooga Church was burned to the ground by Sherman’s army passing through the area.[75] As a result of this, the church moved again to an old school house in the heart of town. The congregation met here until 1871. Interestingly, in this year, the Oothcalooga Baptist Church entered into a deed with three other churches in the area: the Presbyterian church, Cumberland Presbyterian church, and the Southern Methodist church. From 1871-1882, four denominations met in the same meeting house, each on a different Sunday of the month. For example, Oothcalooga met on the second Sunday of each month. By 1880, not all of the church members were happy with this arrangement. Historians do not know exactly why fifteen members were dismissed by letter that year, but there is speculation that these members were not satisfied that the Oothcalooga meeting house had not yet been rebuilt. However, it was felt that the old location was now too inconvenient and too muddy to consider rebuilding there. A second theory is that “a town as prosperous as Adairsville needed its own church.”[76] Whatever the cause, Adairsville Missionary Baptist Church was formed on February 29, 1880 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Combs. They met in a building on Gilmer Street in downtown Adairsville owned by Mr. Combs.

The churches met separately for five years, until 1885. There is no record of what the relationship was like between these two churches during those five years, but it is recorded that the churches had the same pastor between 1882-1884. There were enough people that the two congregations could afford to meet separately, but not enough ministers. Things escalated in the fall of 1884 when the Adairsville Baptist Church started plans to build on the other side of the railroad tracks. The planning even went so far that Mrs. Cordelia Frances Gaines deeded a lot to the church that was never used. For some unknown reason, this donation of land caused a “flurry of action.”[77] Not even a month had passed before both Adairsville Missionary and Oothcalooga drafted a proposition and approached each other about reuniting the congregations. An agreement was reached and both churches set up committees to find a location to build a new, unified church. Adairsville Baptist Church was already looking for a new site to build a church and even had land deeded to them for that purpose. Oothcalooga, however, had recently finished building a brand-new church at the old Oothcalooga church site, where it had been prior to the Civil War. Researchers have wrestled with why Oothcalooga would agree to be looking to build another church in town. According to One Vine, Two Branches, “oral tradition has it that as the talk of building a Baptist church in Adairsville increased, the more the leaders at Oothcalooga wanted their church to be “The Church” in Adairsville.”[78]

Though the churches still completed the merge, many Oothcalooga members where alienated by the building of a second new church. It is believed that the new site building committees at both churches would not have been set up if there had not been dissatisfaction with the Gaines lot. It was thought to be inconvenient and even on the wrong side of the tracks. Mrs. G. B. Elrod was vocal about her unhappiness with the Gaines lot and donated a lot next to her house on the other side of town as an alternative.[79] Mrs. Elrod’s lot was quickly chosen, and the church was completed on the land by September. The churches were nearly $1,000.00 in debt after building this church. On September 19, 1885, the two churches reunited at the new location as Oothcalooga Baptist Church of Christ at Adairsville. A few months later, it was decided that the new abandoned Oothcalooga church would be sold. A resolution about this in January 1886 reads as follows:

Whereas: in the covenant or contract between Oothcalooga Baptist Church and the Adairsville Baptist Church and they did unite and form one church in Adairsville, Ga, retaining the name of Oothcalooga; the property of both churches becoming the property of the newly constituted church. And whereas in the building of the new house of worship the disaffected members refusing to bear any part in the expense thereof. This church has become involved and is now due on said building about $450 for the payment of which said church is being pressed.[80]

By March, these disaffected members that had not contributed to the payments towards the building and were the same ones who had been alienated by the merge withdrew their membership from Oothcalooga Baptist Church of Christ at Adairsville. In April 1886, they were granted permission to have meetings in the old Oothcalooga building, while remaining members at the Baptist Church of Christ had the church debt individually appointed to them.[81] The feud finally came to an end in 1892 when the churches split once more. Then as it is today and has been for over 100 years, the original Oothcalooga church site became the home of Oothcalooga Baptist Church and the church in the town of Adairsville became Adairsville Baptist Church.

A map of the town today shows that there is irony in the fight between these churches for location within the town of Adairsville. When the churches split in 1880, Oothcalooga remained at the Presbyterian church, which is today Grey’s Chapel AME Church, and the Adairsville Missionary Baptist Church ended up in a building on Gilmer Street, just 0.3 miles away. After the second split of the churches, Adairsville Baptist Church came to rest today on the old school house site from after the Civil War, the same land that was donated by Mrs. Gaines. From here to the once unified church that met at Gray’s Chapel AME, there are three houses and one-tenth of a mile that separate the two buildings. From this present site of Adairsville Baptist Church to the current location of Oothcalooga Baptist Church, there are two left turns and 1.6 miles of highway. It is comical that a congregation split up for less than two miles of distance from each other. This situation, however, shows how important the sphere of influence a congregation can have in a community within the Baptist faith. These churches thrive in conditions where they are the heart of the community and can spread their roots among as many people as possible.

The churches that cannot afford to physically move their church, or possibly to reflect their movement into another community, change their name to tie themselves closer to their place in the area. There are several churches that moved from rural areas into towns and changed their name to reflect their move. One such example is Cartersville First Baptist Church. When the church started in 1839, it was called Pettit’s Creek Baptist Church. In 1856, it “moved to new building on Market Street, now Cherokee Avenue, and changed name to Cartersville Baptist Church.”[82] The church moved several times around the town before becoming Cartersville First Baptist Church in 1906. Another example is Taylorsville Baptist Church. Originally called Salem, the church became Taylorsville Baptist Church twenty-three years after it had relocated into town.[83] Cassville Baptist Church is similar, starting out as Beulah Baptist Church and changing its name after it moved into the Cassville community in 1848.[84] Though the name on the sign outside the church may seem like it does not mean much, it is indeed quite the contrary. The name of the church says a lot about who the congregation thinks they are and their role in the community. Churches named after the towns they preside in seem to foster more respect and position. It is important to the community and its members because it bears the same name. There is a sense of connection that cannot be separated, roots intertwined with one another.

Missionary work is one of the biggest ways in which the Baptist churches of Bartow County spread their influence and faith around the area. Charlotte Diggs “Lottie” Moon, one of the most iconic Baptist international missionaries, was inspired to go overseas. She was living in Cartersville and it was there, at Cartersville First Baptist Church, where she heard the sermon that thrust her into the missionary field.[85] With leaders such as Lottie Moon active in missionary work, others in the county followed suit. Over the years, many of the Baptist churches have established organizations within their churches that are the leaders in missionary work. Standard organizations of this type were often run by the women of the church. At Cassville Baptist Church, the first missionary society was organized, on June 17, 1903, by the women of the church. At their monthly meetings, they took up an offering for foreign missions. In September and October of their first year they collected $1.68, which is nearly $50.00 by today’s standards.[86] Small organizations like this one have kept the missionary spirit spreading throughout the county.

Apart from the churches themselves, there is another organization in the county that has been active in spreading the missionary cause of the Baptists: the Bartow Baptist Association. Associations are quite common in the Baptist world. They are churches who unite under this one umbrella “for the purposes of: fellowship, strengthening the local churches, and cooperative in the joint mission…”[87] The Bartow Baptist Association started in 1846 as the Salaquoy United Baptist Association, changed to Middle Cherokee Baptist Association in 1848, and finally to Bartow Baptist Association in 1999.[88] Like Oothcalooga Baptist Church and Adairsville Baptist Church, this association traces its roots back to the Moravian mission. That is also where they claim their philosophy of “prayer, unity, and missions” comes from.[89] This alliance helps the Baptist churches of the county to come together and work alongside each other to spread their mission and influence locally, domestically, and internationally. The head of the association, David Franklin, speaks of one occasion where the churches truly came together to help each and every community in Bartow after a crisis. There have been two devastating tornadoes that hurt large parts of the northwest section of the county in the past decade, one in 2011 and another in 2013.[90] Volunteers from the churches in this association came together to lead the relief efforts. They had all the debris cleaned up in just four short weeks. The way in which these churches came together and provided quick relief changed and improved the county’s emergency relief plan. Today, other areas in the state are starting to mimic this design to incorporate churches. The Bartow Baptist Association proved that churches have the people and ability to mobilize very quickly. This is just one way in which the sphere of influence in missionary work in the Baptist churches of Bartow County is now reaching other areas. The association is active in Bartow in other ways, particularly in their youth programs. According to David Franklin, this faith-based recovery model has been recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is recommended for other similar faith-based organizations to follow. Each summer, the alliance puts on SPLASH Bartow, which reaches over 400 teens and kids. Additionally, BBA recently kickstarted their Read to Grow program, which is putting over 100 volunteers in the local schools to help improve 3rd grade reading proficiency.[91] This is another example of how the churches come together to spread their missions and goals through the tradition of missionary work in the county.

Baptist churches are all unique and individual from each other. They function independently and as a reflection of their congregations and the communities they are a part of. Two churches next door to each other could be as different as night and day. Despite the many variations amongst Baptist churches, it is a part of their legacy that they have been fundamental to the establishment of communities. The Baptist churches of Bartow County capture the way in which these churches are cornerstones in their societies. They have evolved over time to reflect change. These churches have established their roots by gaining property, building structures, and establishing cemeteries all across the county. They have become intertwined in the history of Bartow through their role in community development via education. Additionally, the Baptist have perpetuated their influence by situating themselves front and center in these communities and by continuing to make a difference with missionary work. The landscape of Baptist churches in Bartow County encapsulates their role in the religious dedication, role in society, and spread of influence in the makeup of community life in regions of the southern Appalachian.


List of Baptist Churches in Bartow County, Georgia: Sorted Alphabetically

  1. Adairsville Baptist Church- 107 Summer Street, Adairsville, GA 30103
  2. Antioch Baptist Bible Church- 5871 Glade Road SE, Acworth, GA 30102
  3. ATCO Baptist Church- 20 Parmenter Street, Cartersville, GA 30120
  4. Bethany Baptist Church- 42 Old Alabama Road SE, Emerson, GA 30137  
  5. Bethel Baptist Church- 121 College Street, Adairsville, GA 30103
  6. Bethel Crossroads Baptist Church- 450 Iron Hill Road, Taylorsville, GA 30178
  7. Bible Way Baptist Church- 29 Marr Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  8. Brandon’s Chapel Baptist Church- 136 Old Stilesboro Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  9. Calvary Heights Baptist Church- 4002 Joe Frank Harris Pkwy NW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  10. Cartersville First Baptist Church- 241 Douthit Ferry Road, Cartersville, GA 30120
  11. Cassville Baptist Church- 1663 Cassville Road NW, Cartersville, GA 30121
  12. Cedar Creek Baptist Church- 54 Folsom Road NW, Adairsville, GA 30103
  13. Center Baptist Church- 80 McKaskey Creek Road SE, Cartersville, GA 30121
  14. Central Baptist Church- 324 Cassville Road, Cartersville, GA 30120
  15. Clear Creek Baptist Church- 142 Clear Creek Road, Cartersville, GA 30121
  16. Cloverleaf Missionary Baptist Church- 1117 Grassdale Rd. NW, Cartersville, GA 30121
  17. Connesena Baptist Church- 71 Connesena Road, Kingston, GA 30145
  18. Corinth Baptist Church- 16 Corinth Road, Cartersville, GA 30121
  19. Cornerstone Baptist Church- 2238 Hills Creek Road, Taylorsville, GA 30178
  20. Crowe Springs Baptist Church- 290 Crowe Springs Road NW, Cartersville, GA 30121
  21. Damascus Baptist Church- 174 Gaston Westbrook Ave, Emerson, GA 30137
  22. Dewey Baptist Church- 895 Spring Place Road NE, White, GA 30184
  23. Dry Creek Baptist Church- 150 Dry Creek Road NW, Kingston, GA 30145
  24. Etowah Valley Baptist Church- 1052 Old Alabama Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  25. Euharlee Baptist Church- 1103 Euharlee Road SW, Euharlee, GA 30145
  26. Euharlee Primitive Baptist Church at Buncombe- Location unknown
  27. Fairview Baptist Church- 26 Fairview Drive SE, Cartersville, GA 30120
  28. Faith Baptist Church- 1024 Mission Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  29. Faith Baptist Church of Kingston- 15 Carroll Slough Road, Kingston, GA 30145
  30. Fellowship Baptist Church of Cartersville- Location unknown
  31. Fellowship Baptist Church of White- 79 East Rocky Street NE, White, GA 30184
  32. First Baptist Church of Emerson- 11 Franklin Loop SE, Cartersville, GA 30120
  33. Five Forks Baptist Church- 266 Cass Pine Log Road NE, White, GA 30184
  34. Floyd Creek Baptist Church- 2171 Hills Creek Road, Taylorsville, GA 30178
  35. Friendship Baptist Church- 606 Cassville Road, Cartersville, GA 30120
  36. Friendship Missionary Baptist Church- 128 Martin Luther King Dr., Adairsville, GA 30103
  37. Glade Baptist Church- 401 Folsom Glade Road, Rydal, GA 30171
  38. Glade Baptist Church- Location unknown
  39. Glade Missionary Baptist Church- Location unknown
  40. Glade Road Baptist Church- 6570 Glade Road SE, Acworth, GA 30102
  41. Grace Baptist Church- 477 Old Cassville White Road NW, Cartersville, GA 30121
  42. Greater Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church- 65 Mount Olive St., Cartersville, GA 30120
  43. Greater New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church- 69 Cassville Rd., Cartersville, GA 30120
  44. Heritage Baptist Church- 1070 Douthit Ferry Road, Cartersville, GA 30120
  45. Iron Hill Baptist Church- 5172 Groovers Landing Road SE, Acworth, GA 30101
  46. Kingston Baptist Church- 40 Main Street, Kingston, GA 30145
  47. Kingston Colored Baptist Church- Location unknown
  48. Lakeside Baptist Church- Location unknown
  49. Liberty Hill Baptist Church- 1120 Sugar Valley Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  50. Macedonia Baptist Church- 1810 Euharlee Road, Kingston, GA 30145
  51. Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church- 521 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., Cartersville, GA 30120
  52. Macedonia Primitive Baptist Church- 180 Mansfield Road NE, White, GA 30184
  53. Manassas Baptist Church- Location unknown
  54. Millers Chapel Baptist Church- 285 Stamp Creek Road NE, White, GA 30184
  55. Mount Cary Baptist Church- Location unknown
  56. Mount Paron Baptist Church- Location unknown
  57. Mount Pisgah Baptist Church- 465 GA-293, Cartersville, GA 30121
  58. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church- 550 Mount Pleasant Road, Rydal, GA 30171
  59. Mount Tabor Baptist Church- 3071 Old Alabama Road, Aragon, GA 30104
  60. Mount Zion Baptist Church- 147 Jones Street, Cartersville, GA 30120
  61. Mount Zion Grassdale Missionary Baptist Church- 207 N. Bartow St., Cartersville, GA 30120
  62. Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church- 147 Jones Street, Cartersville, GA 30120
  63. New Beginning Baptist Church- 205 Colonel Way, White, GA 30184
  64. New Canaan Baptist Church- 1883 Joe Frank Harris Pkwy SE, Cartersville, GA 30120
  65. New Corinth Missionary Baptist Church- 210 Cliff Nelson Road, Euharlee, GA 30145
  66. New Hope Baptist Church- 106 Fire Tower Road NW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  67. New Hope Baptist Church- 3800 New Hope Church Road SE, Acworth, GA 30102
  68. New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church- 85 Shaw Street, Kingston, GA 30145
  69. New Stamp Creek Baptist Church- Location unknown
  70. New Zion Baptist Church- 5670 Tasha Trail, Cartersville, GA 30120
  71. Oak Grove Baptist Church- 312 Burnt Hickory Road, Cartersville, GA 30120
  72. Oak Hill Baptist Church- GA- 140, Rydal, GA 30171
  73. Oakland Heights Baptist Church- 16 Highland Way NE, Cartersville, GA 30121
  74. Olive Vine Baptist Church- 132 Olive Vine Church Road, Rydal, GA 30171
  75. Oothcalooga Baptist Church- 10 Woody Road, Adairsville, GA 30103
  76. Peeples Valley Baptist Church- 68 Ledford Lane NW, Cartersville, GA 30121
  77. Pine Grove Baptist Church- 93 Pine Grove Road, Cartersville, GA 30120
  78. Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church- 668 Burnt Hickory Rd., Cartersville, GA 30120
  79. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church- 1370 Kingston Highway, Kingston, GA 30145
  80. Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church- 1020 Mission Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120
  81. Pleasant Olive Baptist Church- 240 Falling Springs Road, Rydal, GA 30171
  82. Pleasant Valley Baptist Church- 174 Mostellers Mill Road, Adairsville, GA 30103
  83. Raccoon Creek Baptist Church- 1808 GA-113, Cartersville, GA 30120
  84. Reynolds Chapel Baptist Church- 2401 Euharlee Road SE, Taylorsville, GA 30178
  85. Rowland Springs Baptist Church- 79 Rowland Springs Road SE, Cartersville, GA 30121
  86. Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church- 26 Shiloh Church Road, Taylorsville, GA 30178
  87. Snow Springs Baptist Church- 221 Old Highway 140, Adairsville, GA 30103
  88. St. Paul Baptist Church- Location unknown
  89. Stamp Creek Baptist Church- 451 Stamp Creek Road NE, White, GA 30184
  90. Stoner Chapel Baptist Church- 26 Stoners Chapel Road NW, Adairsville, GA 30103
  91. Tabernacle Baptist Church of Cartersville- 112 East Church St., Cartersville, GA 30120
  92. Taylorsville Baptist Church- 19 Church Street, Taylorsville, GA 30178
  93. Trinity Baptist Church- 1511 Joe Frank Harris Parkway SE, Cartersville, GA 30121
  94. Vision Baptist Church- 10 Legacy Way, Adairsville, GA 30103
  95. White First Baptist Church- 3347 US-411, White, GA 30184
  96. Woffords Crossroads Baptist Church- 222 Old Tennessee Highway, White, GA 30184
  97. Young Street Baptist Church- 6 Rogers Street, Cartersville, GA 30120
  98. Zion Hill Baptist Church- 1105 Mission Road SW, Cartersville, GA 30120


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The Euharlee History Committee. The History of Euharlee. Cullman, AL: Gregath Publishing Company, 1994.

“The Nest.” Cartersville First Baptist Church. Accessed October 30, 2018,

 “Three States More Baptist Than Alabama.” AL. Last modified on September 19, 2017. Accessed on November 25, 2018.

“Who We Are… (Our Story).” Vision Baptist Church. Accessed September 13, 2018.

White, Jr., O. Hendall and Daryl White. Religion in the Contemporary South: Diversity, Community, and Identity. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995.

Worth, John E. “Spanish Exploration.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Last modified on September 17, 2018. Accessed on November 25, 2018,

[1] “Three States More Baptist Than Alabama,” AL, last modified on September 19, 2017, accessed on November 25, 2018,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Deborah Vansau McCauley, Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 23.

[4] McCauley, Appalachian Mountain Religion, 19.

[5] “Baptists: What Makes a Baptist a Baptist,” Baptist Distinctives, accessed on November 25, 2018,

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Constitutional Structure,” The People of the United Methodist Church, accessed on November 25, 2018,

[8] “Congregational Church Governance,” Baptist Distinctives, accessed on November 25, 2018,

[9] Joe Head, personal interview, November 2018.

[10] “Churches Preaching the Word and Reaching the World,” American Baptist Association, accessed on November 25, 2018,

[11] Samuel S. Hill, Jr., Southern Churches in Crisis (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1966), 21.

[12] Mark Bell, “Continued Captivity: Religion in Bartow County, Georgia,” The Journal of Southern Religion (December 1999): accessed August 2018,

[13] O. Hendall White, Jr., and Daryl White, Religion in the Contemporary South: Diversity, Community, and Identity (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995), 3.

[14] John E. Worth, “Spanish Exploration,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified on September 17, 2018, accessed on November 25, 2018,  

[15] Chantal Parker, “Bartow County,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified on July 9, 2018, accessed on November 25, 2018,   

[16] Rowena McClinton, “Indian Missions,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified on August 29, 2018, accessed on November 25, 2018,   

[17] Parker, “Bartow County,” accessed on November 25, 2018.   

[18] Joe F. Head, The General: The Great Locomotive Dispute (Cartersville, GA: Etowah Historical Foundation, 1990).

[19] Parker, “Bartow County,” accessed on November 25, 2018.  

[20] “Georgia Counties by Population,” Georgia Demographics by Cubit, July 2017, accessed October 2018,  

[21] “Georgia Counties Ranked by Area,” County Maps of Georgia, accessed October 2018, 

[22] Wilma Jo Gazaway Moore, One Vine, Two Branches, (Adairsville, GA: Adairsville Baptist Church, 1979).

[23] “Cities,” Bartow County Georgia, accessed November 25, 2018,

[24] Cartersville First Baptist Church History of Growth, PDF (Cartersville: Cartersville First Baptist Church, 2014).

[25] The Euharlee History Committee, The History of Euharlee (Cullman, AL: Gregath Publishing Company, 1994).

[26] Bartow County Genealogical Society, Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Volume I (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 32.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Deed of Sale from Jonathan H. Whitesides to W. M. Clore et al, 19 October 1868 (filed 9 May 1904), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book LL, page 163. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Deed of Sale from Mrs. Elsie Lou Farmer to Clear Creek Baptist Church, 17 July 1953 (filed 3 August 1953), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 100, page 320. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[31] Deed of Sale from Mrs. E. W. Earwood to Etowah Valley Baptist Church, 20 October 1941 (filed 25 October 1941), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 79, page 172. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[32] Deed of Sale from Mrs. Annie Laurie Jones Cunyus to the Trustees of Fair View Baptist Church, 8 December 1937, Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 74, page 179. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[33] Deed of Sale from C. C. Carroll to Oakland Heights Community Church, 16 January 1954 (filed 20 December 1955), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 102, page 51. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ann Nix Dussault and Betty Nix Cowart, personal interview, June 2018.

[36] C. S. Butler, United States, US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Cultural Resources Survey of Historic Cemeteries, Allatoona Lake, Georgia (Atlanta: Brockington and Associates, 1996), 85-99.

[37] Joe Head, personal interview, November 2018.

[38] Ibid.

[39] “Our Covenant,” Heritage Baptist Church, accessed July 16, 2018,

[40] “History,” Heritage Baptist Church, accessed July 16, 2018,

[41] Joe Head, personal interview, November 2018.

[42] “Who We Are… (Our Story),” Vision Baptist Church, accessed September 13, 2018,

[43] Deed of Sale from Board of Education of Bartow County to Board of Deacons of Pleasant Olive Baptist Church, 12 April 1940 (filed 27 April 1940), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 76, page 422. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[44] The Euharlee History Committee, The History of Euharlee (Cullman, AL: Gregath Publishing Company, 1994).

[45] Ibid.

[46] David J. Baker, “Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book, Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 41.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Messer, Brenda Edwards. “Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book, Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 44-45.

[50] Deed of Sale from Andrew P. Moor to Andrew H. Rice, Pastor, 28 December 1889 (filed 10 February 1890), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book BB, page 396. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[51] Bartow County Genealogical Society, “Oak Hill Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book. Vol. 2 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1998), 48.

[52] “Snow Springs Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 48.

[53] Article entitled “A Brief History of ATCO Baptist Church,” located at the Bartow History Museum Archives.

[54] “Floyd Creek Baptist Church,” The Heritage of Euharlee, Stilesboro, and Taylorsville, Georgia, Acworth: Euharlee Historical Committee, 2010. 70-71.

[55] Bartow County Genealogical Society, “Bethel Crossroads Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book. Vol. 2 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1998), 38-39.

[56] “Bethel Crossroads Baptist Church,” 38-39.

[57] Deed of Sale from Board of Education of Bartow County to Dewey Baptist Church, 3 July 1923 (filed 2 March 1954), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 102, page 165. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[58] Deed of Sale from Board of Education of Bartow County to Board of Deacons of Stoner Baptist Church, 26 October 1944 (filed 27 November 1944), Bartow County, Georgia, Deed Book 82, page 527. County Recorder’s Office, Cartersville, Georgia.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Moore, One Vine, Two Branches, 45.

[61] “Preschool Ministry,” Tabernacle Baptist Church, accessed October 30, 2018,

[62] Ibid.

[63] Joe McKaig, letter, ‘Oakland Heights Interview,’ email, July 2018.

[64] “The Nest,” Cartersville First Baptist Church, accessed October 30, 2018,

[65] Parent Cue, October 2018: Preschool, PDF, the Rethink Group, 2018, accessed October 30, 2018,     

[66] Janice Morgan, “Taylorsville Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1, (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 48-49.

[67] Martha J. Hale, “Oak Grove Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1, (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 43.

[68] The Euharlee History Committee, The History of Euharlee (Cullman, AL: Gregath Publishing Company, 1994).

[69] Cartersville First Baptist Church History of Growth, PDF, (Cartersville: Cartersville First Baptist Church, 2014).

[70] “Friendship Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 37.

[71] “Snow Springs Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 48.

[72] Hermon Bearden, “Cassville Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 34-35.

[73] Wilma Jo Gazaway Moore, One Vine, Two Branches, (Adairsville, GA: Adairsville Baptist Church, 1979).

[74] Moore, One Vine, Two Branches.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Moore, One Vine, Two Branches.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Moore, One Vine, Two Branches.

[81] Ibid.

[82] Cartersville First Baptist, PDF, (Cartersville: Cartersville First Baptist Church).

[83] Janice Morgan, “Taylorsville Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1, (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 48-49.

[84] Hermon Bearden, “Cassville Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 34-35.

[85] David Schrock, Lottie Moon: A Brief History, PDF, accessed October 30, 2018.   

[86] Hermon Bearden, “Cassville Baptist Church,” Bartow County Georgia Heritage Book Vol. 1 (Acworth, Georgia: Star Printing, 1995), 34-35.

[87] “Our Story,” Bartow Baptist, accessed June 2018,   

[88] Ibid.

[89] Interview with David Franklin, personal interview, November 2018.

[90] Interview with David Franklin, personal interview, November 2018.

[91] Ibid.

The Ghosts of Glen Holly

In the Lost and Drowned Town of Etowah, Georgia
By: Lisa Russell

Rising from the red clay-stained waters of Lake Allatoona, Glen Holly teases a few times a year. When the water retreats, a home place appears. War, fire, nature and water have finished their work to dismantle the mansion. Gone are the vineyards, orchards, and gardens, but the Cooper family has kept the legacy alive. Out of miry shadows lost history materializes.

Mark Anthony Pope, III wrote the comprehensive book, Mark Anthony Cooper: Iron Man of Georgia. Pope’s book paints the landscape of the Cooper story. His cousin Barry Wright, III focused on the details and his great-grandfather in, John Paul Cooper: Georgia Giant in the Revival of Cotton during the Early 1900s. Wright’s work and his generous gift of sharing his family papers add living color to the sepia past.

Wright remembers his childhood visits to Glen Holly. His grandfather, Frederick, told tales of the family patriarch, “The Old Major,” and his eccentric Uncle Eugene and Aunt Rosa. He then introduced his grandson to Glen Holly.[1]

Mark Anthony Cooper built Glen Holly on a hill upriver from The Etowah Manufacturing and Mining Company. Eugene Cooper, Mark Anthony’s only surviving son described Glen Holly in an 1885 Atlanta Journal article: “Glen Holly was beautiful place, nestled on the ragged crags overlooking the sparkling, laughing waters of the Etowah.”[2]

Decades later, the US Army Corp of Engineers built a dam to impound those laughing waters, covering the remains of Etowah and Glen Holly. Sherman did his best to erase the manufacturing town. Two fires obliterated the family home. Fire, war, and water may have suppressed this Bartow treasure, but the Coopers continue to conjure the ghosts of Glen Holly. 

Wright walked Glen Holly with his grandfather and took a canoe to the “island” as a teen. But it was not until he grew up and received a box of family papers and photographs that he began to understand, “I got a sense of the house, orchards, gardens, outbuildings as actual history. For the first time, my family history was real.” Wright continued, “The descriptions and conversations I’d read in the letters and accounts now made absolute sense.” Trips to Glen Holly woke his mind: “I could see The Old Major cultivating his apple orchard, including two varieties named for Cooper. I imagined Uncle Eugene planting the dozens of peach trees his nephew, John Paul Cooper, had bought him.” Wright stirred up the past and shadowy stories of Etowah and Glen Holly have found new life.[3]

In 2012, Wright paddled toward Glen Holly with his daughter in a small canoe and kayak. In the winter, the Lake Allatoona is low and he was able to see what remained of his family’s home place. He found chimney brick scattered on the red clay knoll and much of the stone wall that surrounded the property remained albeit submerged in most places.

Wright picked up pieces of the past—glass, china and something dated and special. Wright reported, ” One fragment, the spout of a glass pitcher, had the date 1838 still intact and showing.” The Cooper family kept their past intact by recording their history. Besides the mounds of correspondence, documents, and images – they had their stories. Wright’s visits to Glen Holly and hours of research prove the family stories are true. In the process of rediscovery, the ghosts of Glen Holly were summoned.[4]

When Mark Anthony Cooper left his political career to build an iron business and establish the town of Etowah, he picked a prime piece of real estate in town to build the Cooper home place, Glen Holly. He built up the river away from the noise of the Iron Works. The Etowah River was in view and watered his orchards, vineyard, and gardens. It was surrounded by outbuildings that served as smaller homes for family members. The center piece, the home was surrounded by a stone wall, that survives under the waters of Lake Allatoona.

Remnants of the rock wall surrounding the Glen Holly home place during low water

[1] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[2] Eugene Cooper, “The Cartersville American has this about the burning of Major Cooper’s residence,” The Atlanta Constitution, July 10, 1884, 

[3] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019.

[4] Ibid.

Since there are few pictures of Etowah, we rely on records of past residents. The town is described by J.W. Joseph as having a boardinghouse and twelve dwelling houses. There were two hundred acres of farmland and four acres of vineyards. There were private log homes.

The private residence for the owners, Stroup and Cooper, were located up the river at a distance from the mills, to get away from the noise of machinery.[1]

Cooper’s furnace worked forty-five weeks a year and produced up to thirty tons of pig iron each week. The price of iron at the time was brought up to twenty-five dollars per ton. In modern terms, Etowah Mining Company would have grossed about $21,000 per week. Once one of the busiest places in the entire South, Etowah grew into an industrial town with hundreds of workers and included slave labor.

Originally constructed in the late 1830s by Moses Stroup and his father, the iron furnaces were the early industrial parks of Bartow (then Cass) County. In1847 Georgia congressman Mark Anthony Cooper and a financial partner, Andrew M. Wiley, purchased the furnace and many related businesses from Moses and worked together to build Etowah.

The manufacturing town grew to two thousand people at its peak and contained a rolling mill, flour mill, carpenter shop, foundry, spike and nail mills, a hotel and workers’ homes. Etowah had a spur track connecting to Western Atlantic Railroad (W&A) that Cooper financed himself.[2]

The railroad had an engine called Yonah. It not only shipped freight to Etowah Crossing—Yonah played a role in the Great Locomotive Chase during the Civil War.

The products made and shipped from Etowah were pots or hollow ware, tools, cannons, spikes, nails, pig iron and other molded or rolled iron. The rails for Cooper’s beloved railroad were first manufactured in Etowah. Cooper was selling products world-wide. Georgia did not have a market for iron, but he diversified and sold other products.

Etowah always struggled financially. Cooper said the flour mill was profitable. The Cooper mills produced flour in a five story flouring mill. By 1849 was producing fine flour. Cooper’s flour was touted as the finest flour – “fit for a queen.” In fact, Major Cooper sent several barrels to Queen Victoria. Later, he received a letter from the Queen’s secretary saying, “The flour had arrived in good condition and Her Majesty had enjoyed the bread made of it and thanked Major Cooper for his kindness.”[3] The Old Major priced his flour for profit as he undercut local markets selling at cost.[4]

According to 1988 article in North Georgia Journal, Etowah had it all. David wrote, “The thriving little town had a combination school and church; a boarding house; a bordello; a bank; a post office; a brewery; a company store; and log houses for the workers and their families.” [5] In 1852, Etowah had a population of 1,832. This may not seem very large, but the county seat, Cassville, was the largest settlement, with a population in this same year of 1,794. Francis Adair was interviewed Mrs. Roe Knight in 1930 and left this picture of Etowah:

The land was then laid off into streets, lots, and localities. A few of the more important structures which immediately went up were: The Church, school house, President’s office, bank, boarding house, and several large stores. The chief boasts of the town, however, were the railroad turn table and the post office.

 Mrs. Knight mentioned a barrel factory with a usual daily output of 250 to 300 barrels. She spoke of a brewery and mentioned an iron warehouse connected to the railroad line, constructed to store all the pig iron produced when it was not profitable to sell it.[6]

Taking Care of His Own

Cooper was a benevolent man; he cared for the workers and the families in Etowah. The lost town had log cabins for the workers, a company store, and a school/church. His iron did not sell well in Georgia, but he had a product that sold well in New York markets. He started making hollow ware for cooking and built a five story flour mill. He had to diversify to keep his workers paid. He was concerned for them, but not in a judgmental way. Proof remains that he tried to help them leave at least one vice behind.

The Coopers found an old wine label in the papers. In addition to iron, flour, cornmeal, and produce, the Old Major made wine. Mark Anthony Cooper imported German grapes and a German winemaker. Mark Cooper, remembers his grandfather’s wine press in a 1958 family document. He says the wine press stood across “a little hollow from the springhouse.” He details someone made the old wine press of wood and had two stories. Cooper remembers, “There was also an enormous screw, or helix, used in the press to squeeze the wine out of the grapes. As I recall it, this was made in the Works, and it was approximately four or five inches in diameter, and quite long. I don’t recall the length-some seven or eight feet, I would say”.[7]  Mark A. Cooper explains:

The wine press was on the side of the side of the hill, the grapes were brought in on the uphill side into the second story, which was of wood, where the actual press was. Down below were barrels, enormous ones. My grandmother has said some of them were six feet across. I seem to remember seeing the hoops of some which would be a little smaller than, possible 4 or 5 feet, though that’s been a long time ago. [8]

Cooper continues to describe the spring house that housed the wine press:

The spring house consisted of an open court, with a curing stone staircase going down into the spring, which was encased in as tone curb, or whatever you call it, and which flowed through a hole in that burb, across a channel cut in flagstones, into the spring house proper

In this, there were two long stone troughs with spring water in them, possibly eight inches deep. These troughs were probably two or three feet across, the sides being made of one piece of stone, and they were probably six or eight feet long. This took the place of a refrigerator.[9]

He wanted to keep his men away from using corn liquor or white lightning. Mark A. Cooper says, “This never was very successful.”[10] Catawba wine was just not the same as the hard core moonshine for the hard-working men of the Etowah Iron Works.

In some ways Cooper was a mystery, The New Georgia Encyclopedia tried to explain the man,  “A believer in temperance, he opposed the prohibition laws that dominated political discussion in the last years of his life.” [11] Maybe he felt wine was better than white lightning. Perhaps Cooper was not a legalist and knew people were won by respect and love – not laws.

Mark Anthony Cooper had an unwavering faith. A faith he passed down to his children and grandchildren. He did not touch alcohol or tobacco and was faithfully married to his wife Sophronia for 56 years. So, when he built his company town (Etowah) why did he make wine and have a bordello in Etowah? His great grandson explained, Mark Anthony Cooper was about peace and letting others live their lives.[12]

 He wanted to create community among his workers, so he was not judgmental. Cooper, however, provided opportunities for others to find faith.  He built a church and introduced revivals and special meetings to his community. Mark Anthony Cooper was a leader in local Baptist associations and even help start the Southern Baptist Convention at the time of the War Between the States. Cooper’s deep faith caused him to love his family and his employees and not judge them.

Cooper fostered loyalty among his workers, but also among other business men. On the brink of bankruptcy in early 1850s, thirty-eight friends helped him and by the end of decade he had repaid his debt. In 1859-1860 he created a one of a kind memorial to those thirty-eight friends who helped him save the Cooper Iron Works. This Friendship Monument moved around, but is currently in downtown Cartersville next to the former depot.

Cooper was an industrial giant in North Georgia in the early 1800s bringing the railroad to the region and advocating industrial growth.  Although he left “King Cotton” behind to mine the minerals in Bartow County, he was the founder and presiding officer of the organization that became the Georgia State Agricultural Society in 1846. Cooper invested heavily in Confederate bonds and did not want to appear to doubt the legitimacy of the Confederacy. That decision would cost him and leave him destitute when his iron works was destroyed as a byproduct of the Civil War. [13]


Civil War played an important role in the life of Etowah and Glen Holly. When war came to North Georgia, the Cooper family lost more than the manufacturing village of Etowah. They lost all their wealth and two sons; Frederick and Thomas died from wounds suffered in battle.

Cooper bet on the Confederates. He sold the Iron Works and then invested in the Cause. He took the proceeds of the sale and sunk it into Confederate bonds. At the end of the war, he was destitute.

Union soldiers did not invade Glen Holly or destroy the Cooper mansion. The family cemetery was preserved. His two Confederate officer sons were buried there under the huge magnolia trees. Mark Anthony and Sophronia continued to live in their home until Sophronia died from pneumonia in 1881. Uncle Eugene and Aunt Rosa remained unmarried and served as their parent’s caretakers.[14]

The Union soldiers could not find the Iron Works as it was not a usual location for a large manufacturing town, nestled in the hill. A local story (that cannot be verified) is that locals, who happened to be German, showed Sherman’s soldiers where Etowah was located. Years later, during World War I, those same residents of German descent were turned in to the authorities.

According to Cooper’s great-grandson, “Mark A. Cooper was crossing the river when the troops destroyed the rolling mill, the flour mills, and the other facilities and buildings.” The Federal Army not destroyed his Iron Foundry, but they flung the friendship monument into a well. Glen Holly, Cooper’s home on a little knoll near the Etowah River and away from the Works, remained unscathed.[15]


Glen Holly had a fire in the1850s, but the blaze that finally brought Glen Holly down was on July 4, 1884. A chimney fire devoured the Major’s “curious and valuable relics” from his vast life. His son, Eugene, had a flair for the dramatic as evidenced by the story he wrote for the Atlanta Journal. He wrote, “The fire caught from the burning soot in one of the chimneys, and made such rapid program before it was discovered that nothing of any value was saved.”  He explains that Major Mark Anthony Cooper lost many books and important documents, but the fire erased even more. The article continues, “It has been for 30 years the home of the most generous hospitality, and there are thousands of Georgians who will remember pleasant hours spent there.”[16]

After the fire, without his wife, the widower was without a home. Cooper moved into a building on the property that belonged to one of his workers. Less than a year later, Mark Anthony Cooper died in Glen Holly in Hezekiah’s house with his unmarried children Eugene and Rosa (and other family members) at his side.[17]


After the fire and Mark Anthony’s death, Glen Holly was abandoned and feel into disrepair. John Paul Cooper wanted to preserve something of the past.

The Etowah Iron Works property left the Cooper’s hands during the Civil War, but they were still interested in preserving the old furnace stack. John Paul Cooper writes to a Mr. George H. Aubrey in 1916, “I have not given up the hope of buying the old furnace stack near my property on the Etowah River. ” Georgia Power, even at that early date, wanted to dam the Etowah River and flooding Etowah Village and Glen Holly.[18]

Aubrey, an attorney, responds to Cooper that he felt there was little chance that he could purchase the stake. He says, “The Munfords and some of their friends have created a little summer colony in the gap, close to the old furnace stack, building cottages, etc, and I doubt their willingness to part with anything at that point.”[19]

Cooper continues his correspondence with another letter stating: “I hope the Mumfords won’t be obdurate. I will accommodate my plans to those of the summer colony. I feel sure there would be no cottages built within the space I would wish to enclose.” He wanted to enclose the furnace for historical preservation and make improvements like growing grass. He offered the Mumford the use of his spring on his land and will clean it up for them to use.

The next letter from Aubrey conveys Mr. Mumford’s response to Cooper’s request to preserve or buy the old furnace. Mumford said, “No.” Aubrey let Cooper know that he was in bad health and things could change.[20]

Family correspondence shows a variety of care takers, log poachers, vandalism and the things they tried to do to protect their home place.

In a series of letters between Walter, Frederick, and Mark describe what was happening to the property. In August of 1929, Walter G. Cooper, an Atlanta historian writes to Frederic and asks, “Can you tell me whether the road to Glen Holly from the railroad bridge, or from Cartersville is passable? Is there a tenant on the place?”[21] Walter had not been to the property since his mother’s funeral in 1915. One month later Walter writes again, “I went to Glen Holly yesterday.” He continues, “We had not serious trouble until we got to the little spring where you turn off the main road about a quarter of a mile from Glen Holly. There it was so marshy that we had to park the car and walk the rest of the distance to the home place.”

Walter describes his run in with a poacher who had set up a portable saw mill on the property: “There was no one in sight when we passed but as we were eating our lunch at the home place a large man with a long beard, apparently 65 years old, rather rough looking, came by and went around the house. I asked him if he would have lunch with us, but he said no and went on.”[22]

The home place upset Walter as he told Frederick,

“I was made very sad and somewhat shocked to find the home place overgrown with young trees, 10 or 12 feet high and covered so densely that we could not even see the foundations of the old house until we had threaded out way through he trees from the front stone steps. The whole place was more or less covered with undergrowth so that even the road that approached the house was obscured.”[23]

Walter continues to describe the condition of the cemetery. He said it was difficult to get there, but once there the large magnolia had blocked the excessive growth of weeds. He goes on to pass along that bootleggers had been on the property, but he revenue agents had cleared them out. He thought this location would make a great resort once Georgia Power built the dam across Mount Moses and Mount Leroy.

Frederick finally responds to his Uncle in October. He was grateful for the tip about the saw mill and lawyer cousin Aubrey was on it. He explained that getting a caretaker at Glen Holly was difficult, “The is no attraction there for a responsible man, because the land in its present condition does not warrant farm; and it would be quite expensive to put responsible man there on full-time pay.”

Ten years later, Uncle Walter wrote to his nephew Frederick once again about the dam. Walter writes, “In the Engineers Report they suggested build a dam 80 feet high in the Etowah River between Mount Moses and Mount Leroy, about ¾ mile from Glen Holly. ” [24] He suggests a cement wall be built around the cemetery. Walter reminds Frederick that the condition of Glen Holly has deteriorated making entrance to the home and gravesites impossible. Frederick replies to his uncle, “We have intentionally let he road into the place become practically impassable because we were subject to a very undesirable sort of trespass there, as long as access was easy.”[25] One decade later, it would no longer be an issue.


The next phase in Glen Holly’s life was the dam construction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started work on the Allatoona Dam project in 1941, but World War II halted all work. Once the project resumed in 1946, a number of sites were identified to be at risk of being covered by the rising waters. The old village site of Etowah was ground zero for submersion. Glen Holly’s and the Village of Etowah were mostly located on the northeast side of Allatoona Dam and not entirely around the Cooper furnace which stands today.  Several other sites also fell victim to rising waters. Among those were the Allatoona Pass rail community, Abernathyville or Old Macedonia, two iron furnace sites, mining sites, several cemeteries including the Cooper family cemetery and Glen Holly, home of Major Mark Cooper. 

 By 1949, the dam was complete, and the waters poured into Etowah. While pieces of the town survived the Civil War and fire did it’s work, water finished the job. Water covered the remnants, including Glen Holly and the family cemetery.

The Cooper family had to go to court and fight for proper re-internment of the graves. They required certain things be done including placing a copper plate at the new graves in Oak Hill Cemetery. The U.S. Corp moved Sophronia and Mark A Cooper along with family members. Three children who died young were encased in high quality iron caskets made in the Iron Works. These caskets were once attributed to the patriarch and matriarch, but the iron caskets belonged to three of their children who died young. The large iron casket may contain two children .

The government took its time to place the copper Cooper memorial at Oak Hill. In true government fashion, the delay was blamed on a “copper shortage.” Simple words on the memorial explain what happened at Glen Holly:

In Memoriam

This family cemetery containing eleven graves was removed from Glen Holly in 1949 to permit construction of Allatoona Dam and Reservoir. Erected by Corps of Engineers.

In true Cooper fashion, loyalty to friends was important. Jim Knight’s property was in the impoundment area. The Cooper tried to help Jim keep his property. They wrote several letters to government officials pleading Jim’s case. They made it clear that they were not concerned with Cooper property, but were concerned for Jim Knight . After a failed letter writing campaign,  the Army Corps took Knight’s property for the reservoir.


These words appear on a board on a hiking trail at the Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area:

“Since the ironworks at Etowah were too valuable to the Confederacy to be left intact. Federal troops set them ablaze along with much of the surrounding town. It was a fatal blow. Industrialist Mark Cooper lived on at his home ‘Glen Holly’ until 1885, but Etowah would soon be shrouded in the mists of time and forgotten by most.”  

This plaque was near the old iron furnace stack John Paul Cooper wanted to buy and preserve for history. John Paul was not able to purchase the furnace, but in the end it was preserved.

In family lore, the Coopers passed down many stories about the eccentric Uncle Eugene. When Glen Holly was in ruins, and Eugene still lived in one of the buildings on the property, he would go out every evening and blow a long “spirit horn.” A spirit horn was an old Southern tradition that was supposed to chase away the ghosts. The Coopers may have felt haunted with all the lost surrounding Glen Holly.

While this fit Uncle Eugene’s personality, most believed it was fiction. In the 1970s in the barn attic of Woodhaven, John Paul Cooper’s home, a long spirit horn was found. Eugene followed in an ancient southern tradition of blowing the long trumpet to chase away the ghosts of Glen Holly.[26]

Ghosts of Glen Holly Present remain on the land as the water recedes once a year to reveal the old home place and its antebellum past. But it does not end there. While fires burned many family documents and valuable books, the past haunts and requires something more.

Ghosts of Glen Holly Past guide us how to live a life worthy to be remembered. The Coopers moved about North Georgia and left their legacy in education and industry. John Paul and Alice Allgood Cooper helped establish Darlington Schools. Shorter College was created and nurtured by Hattie Cooper. Many Shorter buildings are named for the Coopers. The Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta was started by a Cooper. Several industries were born and sustained by John Paul Cooper. The family is full of historians, both amateur and professional.

The story continues in all the lives touched by the educational and industrial contributions made by the Coopers. The story is not over. The next chapter has just opened, “The Ghosts of Glen Holly Future.


A Monument to His Friends Erected By Mark A. Cooper. Cooper Family Papers, n.d.

Bob, Andrew. “The Lost City of Etowah.” Backroads Georgia, Summer 2005, 29-32.

Cooper, Eugene. “The Cartersville American has this about the burning of Major Cooper’s residence.” The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta), July 10, 1884, 528.

Cooper, Frederick S. “Letter to Walter G. Cooper.” Atlanta. Last modified May 2, 1938.

Cooper, Frederic S. “Letter to Walter G. Cooper.” Atlanta. Last modified October 8, 1929.

Cooper, John Paul. Letter to Mr. George H. Aubrey. Cartersville, GA: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1916.

Cooper, Mark A. “Letter to Walter G. Cooper.” John Paul Cooper Family Papers. Last modified September 17, 1929.

Cooper, Mark A. “Mark Anthony Cooper’s Remembrance of The Old Major.” John Paul Cooper Family Papers. Last modified 1958.

Cooper, Walter G. “The Old Etowah Iron Works.” Dixie (n.d.), 41-44.

Cooper, Walter G. Letter to F.S. Cooper on September 16. Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1929.

Cooper, Walter G. “Letter to Frederick S. Cooper.” Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1938. Last modified January 6, 1938.

Cooper, Walter G. “Letter to Frederick S. Cooper.” Rome. Last modified April 28, 1938.

Cooper, Walter G. “Letter to Mr. F.S. Cooper August 16, 1929.” John Paul Cooper Family Papers. Last modified August 16, 1929.

Davis, Jr., Robert S. “Trace Elements of A Vanished Empire: The Story of the Community of Etowah.” North Georgia Journal, Spring 1988, 31-34.

Parker, David B. “Mark Anthony Cooper (1800-1885).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Last modified August 21, 2013.

Russell, Lisa M. Lost Towns of North Georgia. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2016.

Russell, Lisa M. Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2018.

Wright, Barry. John Paul Cooper: Georgia Giant in the Revival of Cotton During the Early 1900’s. Washington: Gorham Printing of Centralia, 2017.

Wright, III, Barry. Email Interview. January 2019.

[1] Lisa M. Russell, Lost Towns of North Georgia (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2016)

[2] Russell, Lost Towns

[3] A Monument to His Friends Erected by Mark A. Cooper, (Cooper Family Papers, n.d).

[4] Robert S. Davis, Jr., “Trace Elements of A Vanished Empire: The Story of the Community of Etowah,” North Georgia Journal, Spring 1988, 33.

[5] Davis, Jr., “Trace Elements of a Vanished Empire,” 33

[6] Russell, Lost Towns, xx.

[7] Mark A. Cooper, “Mark Anthony Cooper’s Remembrance of The Old Major,” John Paul Cooper Family Papers, last modified 1958.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Mark A. Cooper, “Mark Anthony Cooper’s Remembrance of The Old Major,” John Paul Cooper Family Papers, last modified 1958.

[11]  David B. Parker, “Mark Anthony Cooper (1800-1885),” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified August 21, 2013,

[12] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[13] Parker, “Mark Anthony Cooper.”

[14] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[15] Russell, Lost Towns, 84.

[16] Eugene Cooper, “The Cartersville American has this about the burning of Major Cooper’s residence,” The Atlanta Constitution, July 10, 1884,

[17] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[18] John Paul Cooper, Letter to Mr. George H. Aubrey, (Cartersville, GA: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1916).

[19] Cooper,” Letter to Mr. George H. Aubrey.”

[20] Ibid.

[21] Walter G. Cooper, Letter to F.S. Cooper on September 16, (Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1929).

[22] Ibid.

[23] Walter G. Cooper, Letter to F.S. Cooper on September 16, (Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1929).

[24] Walter G. Cooper, “Letter to Frederick S. Cooper,” Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1938, last modified January 6, 1938.

[25] Ibid.

[26]  Barry Wright, John Paul Cooper: Georgia Giant in the Revival of Cotton During the Early 1900’s (Washington: Gorham Printing of Centralia, 2017).

The Beach: A brief history of the George Washington Carver State Park

Alexis Carter-Callahan, M.A.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Parks Department

George Washington Carver State Park

“this is about more than color. it is about how we learn to see ourselves. it is about geography and memory.” –the river between us in Mercy by Lucille Clifton (2004)


The creation of the historic George Washington Carver Park is Georgia’s stake in a nuanced and complex understanding of the African American relationship with recreation and the environment. Jim Crow era politics would leave African Americans largely excluded from access to state parks. John Loyd Atkinson Sr.’s vision for the future of black recreation in the South, however, contributed largely to the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the environmental movement. His role as the visionary and environmental architect of the park contributed to a larger conversation surrounding access to the natural environment for marginalized cultural groups.  Through his efforts, black families from Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and other areas in the Mobile Basin were allowed to freely indulge in the spoils of the natural environment without restriction in an era of “separate but equal.”

Park Establishment

The early twentieth century brought flooding to areas throughout the United States, requiring Congress to address issues of safety and protection. In 1928, Congress responded with the Flood Control Acts. These regulations would allow the U.S. Corp of Engineers and the Federal Power Commission to conduct a series of annual feasibility studies on areas prone to flooding. These studies would aid in future construction to alleviate potential flood problems. Areas that received assistance from this program were able to experience relief from flooding through flood prevention mechanisms, as well as in ways such as access to water, jobs, and recreation. President Roosevelt’s New Deal funding would eventually reach Acworth, Georgia with the Allatoona Reservoir on the Etowah River in the Coosa River Basin project, also known as the Allatoona Dam. Three million dollars was allotted by Congress in 1941 to the “initiation and partial accomplishment of the project.” World War II would create a decrease and redirection of funding from construction projects, including the Allatoona project, to war relief and defense. However, post WWII legislation would again see a rise in funding for flood relief. On June 15, 1946, Governor Ellis Arnall, Georgia 7th District Congressman Malcolm C. Tarver, and Lt. General Raymond A. Wheeler, Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, hosted a ground-breaking ceremony resulting in the launching of the four year project of building the Allatoona Dam. The Dam and surrounding acreage would span 1457 acres and see completion in 1950.

Congressional Flood Control Act, 1941

John Loyd Atkinson Sr.

In 1941, John Loyd Atkinson Sr. purchased land to build a home in the J.A. Coursey subdivision in Fulton County. In early September, as he began to bring in lumber to begin construction, a neighbor approached with a question:

I talked to Atkinson at that time. . . I happened to see some lumber on this lot, a small pile of lumber, and about three people down there at work. . . I . . asked him what he was doing. He said he was fixing to build a house, and I says, `The heck you are,’ and he says, `Yes,’ and I turned around and walked off, and he says, `Well, what is wrong about it?’ And I said there was plenty. . .

This encounter would be one of many that Atkinson would face as he worked to become a homeowner in the J.A. Coursey subdivision, but also as he later navigated the southern landscape of marginality politics. Atkinson would eventually become an involved party to the Georgia Supreme Court Case, Atkinson v. England (1942). This case would debate the legitimacy of land being sold to a black man in a “Caucasian only” subdivision. During the time of the case, Atkinson was stalled for two years from developing a house on the property in the subdivision. The two years of waiting for a decision, which later would be ruled unanimously in his favor, led to Atkinson joining the United States Air Force, serving as a Tuskegee Airman. Atkinson was not a stranger to the policies and politics of segregation.

John L. Atkinson, Sr. Georgia WWII Draft Registration Card, 1940-1945, Credit: Family Search

Upon returning home in 1943, Atkinson was inspired to build a private, black resort modeled after Florida’s first black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis’ American Beach. Also known as the “Negro Ocean Playground” and located just north of Amelia Island, Florida, American Beach was created for black families to compensate for the effects of Jim Crow laws. The 216 acre recreational beach was on the musical chitlin’ circuit for many famous artists of the 1940-1950s, including Duke Ellington.  Its motto was simple: “A place for recreation and relaxation without humiliation.”

Atkinson attempted to create a similar, private resort in Northwest Georgia for 5 years without substantial progress. As African American demands for access to public parks increased nationally, state politicians were increasingly subject to pressure to create black outdoor recreation facilities. Under the New Deal Administration, the National Parks Service worked to alleviate this pressure by creating Negro Parks through the Recreational Demonstration Area program. Few of these parks were built before the start of WWII, but, post-war efforts at providing “separate but equal” facilities opened a door for Atkinson to advocate for the lease of 345 acres of land through the U.S. Army Corps. Governor Eugene Talmadge assisted with securing the permit from Bartow County to create the beach. John Loyd Atkinson Sr. would be appointed the first black superintendent of the only black Georgia state park to be named after an influential African American, the George Washington Carver State Park.

Park Operation

State parks with facilities accessible to African Americans in 1955. Credit: State Parks and Jim Crow in the Decade before Brown v. Board of Education, William O’Brien, 2012

John Loyd Atkinson, Sr. served as the first superintendent of George Washington Carver State Park, serving from 1950-1958. Atkinson relied heavily on his family to assist with the physical creation of the beach. Sand was carried to the area in his family pickup truck. The family spent time pouring into the sand covered shorelines of the beach. In addition, Atkinson oversaw the building of a concession stand, boat ramps, playground, beach house, clubhouse, and the home where the Atkinsons resided during the summer season while the park was open.

Atkinson also encouraged participation in skill attainment and leadership through outdoor activities. Boy and girl scout troups were regularly welcomed to the property. A segregated Girl Scout camp was established that allowed scouts access to hiking, camping, and archery. In 1963, Atlanta’s first African American Girl Scout troup, District V, produced a brochure called Camping for Me that documented George Washington Carver Park as the location of its first official campsite.

The honorable Justice Robert Benham spent his adolescent years, ages 11-15, adding to the historical memory of the park. Benham’s father, Clarence Benham, served as the second superintendent from the years 1959-1962. Justice Benham and brothers grew up swimming at the beach, and also serving as lifeguards. Herbert Kitchens would follow as superintendent, with Samuel Nathan serving as the last superintendent of the park.

The beach was a stop on the Southern chitlin’ circuit, hosting musical greats such as Ray Charles and Little Richard. Local rumors suggest that a young Otis Redding, who played in Little Richard’s background band called the Upsetters, also visited the beach on the circuit. Many of the black elite families of Georgia, particularly from Atlanta, often frequented the beach. Civil Rights Leaders, Andrew Young, and the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King acknowledged that their families spent time enjoying the access to the beach. Serving as one of the South’s “black meccas,” George Washington Carver Park was not just a getaway for the black elite, but it also served as a recreational safe haven for the entire black community. Timothy Houston, Sr. described his personal experience with the beach in the History of the Cobb County Branch of the NAACP and Civil Rights Activities in Cobb County, Georgia interview (2009):

“We had our own beach called George Washington Carver, it was at Red Top and it was nice. It was a real nice facility and I remember we used to sit around the porch at my moms’. We lived right up from Cherokee Street and that was the only way through, I-75 wasn’t here then and that was the only way people come from Atlanta and Marietta, to get to Red Top Mountain. We would sit there on Sundays and you could count the vehicles, it would be ten or fifteen chartered buses. That is when we seen actual black people in real nice cars. They would come in their nice cars like a convoy going to the beach, going to George Washington Carver. That was every Sunday; people coming from all over. That was the only black beach in the area. You go out there and they had a huge hall, they had a kitchen and a big dance floor and then you had the beach where you would swim. It was really nice.”  

The NAACP worked to push post-Brown legislation for equal access to state parks, with successes in cases in Virginia (Prince Edwards Recreation Park, 1947) and Maryland (Lonesome v. Maxwell, 1954). The 1960’s introduction of integration contributed greatly to less attendance at segregated facilities, as black patrons were no longer required to travel considerable distances for access to the natural environment. In 1975, due to budget cuts with the state of Georgia, George Washington Carver Park was released from state management to management by the Bartow County Government. The park’s name was changed to Bartow Carver Park. The Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau would begin overseeing management of the park in 2017, restoring the park to its original name. Currently, the park is open for daily use and reserved for private events. Memories Day, an annual community celebration, is held to commemorate the park’s place in the larger context of the fight for equality, as well as to honor the memories of those that enjoyed the vision set by Atkinson over seven decades prior.

John Loyd Atkinson Sr. and wife, Bessie Atkinson

George Washington Carver Park Advertisement


Amold, Joseph L. The Evolution of the 1936 Flood Control Act. Office of History United States Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 1988. Accessed:

Bartow Carver Park takes center stage at BHM, Daily Tribune News, February 2017.

Burkett, Edmund B. Allatoona Dam and Lake: A Perspective on Story and Water Supply Usage, 1993.

District V Exhibit: First African American Girl Scouts in Atlanta. Acccessed:

Ffrench, Jennifer. Crossroads News: George Washington Carver Park, March 2018


George Washington Carver Park,  Accessed:

History Of Allatoona Lake Accessed:

History of the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites Division. Accessed:

History of American Beach. Accessed:

Manganiello, Christopher J. Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water, 2015.

Many Rivers to Cross: Charles Atkinson. Accessed: Many Rivers to Cross,

O’Brien, William E. State Parks and Jim Crow in the Decade Before Brown v. Board of Education, Geographical Review, Vol. 102, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 166-179.

Supreme Court of Georgia, England v. Atkinson, 26 S.E.2d 431 (Ga. 1943). Accessed:

United States Army Corps of Engineers, Report of the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army, Part 1, Volume 1, p. 909.

Zibanajadrad, Claudia and Walker, William. KSU Oral History Project: History of the Cobb County Branch of the NAACP and Civil Rights Activities in Cobb County, GA. Interview with Timothy Houston, Sr., October 2009, p.11.

Nitrate Mining in Bartow County – Joel M. Sneed

Mining in Bartow County has been an important facet of the county’s economy for much of its history. The iron industry was made possible by the early discovery of vast iron ore (limonite) veins in the southeastern part of the county, and the mining industry grew to include manganese, barite, umber and ocher. Smaller deposits of graphite, copper and gold have also been exploited in this region known as the Cartersville Mining District. Another part of Bartow County’s mining history, and one which has been largely neglected yet was at one time of great importance, was the mining of nitrates.

When mixed in proper proportions with sulfur and charcoal, saltpeter – potassium nitrate – forms gunpowder. The ability of early colonists to procure their own supplies of this essential substance enabled them to successfully fight the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 despite blockades by England. During the American Civil War, the Confederate Army relied on obtaining saltpeter from domestic sources after the Union blockaded Southern ports.

In all of these conflicts it was largely the earth from caves that was mined and processed for the nitrates. In Bartow County three caves were mined for nitrates, these known today as Jolly Cave, Yarbrough Cave, and Kingston Saltpeter Cave. Of the three, only the latter was on any large scale, owing to the size of the cave as well as its large quantity of high-quality nitrous earth.

The cave mining process was fairly simple and easy to replicate, and the operations were similar from cave to cave. Earth was dug from the passages and rooms of the cave, loaded into burlap bags or wheelbarrows, and taken to a central location either inside of the cave or outside, for “leaching”. The dirt was placed into wooden hoppers or “vats”, after which water was poured and allowed to stand for several days, being occasionally stirred with wooden paddles. The water would take the nitrates into solution, and would then be collected at the base of the vat. This aqueous solution was then transported to cast iron kettles nearby to be boiled, a process known as “lixiviation”. Since the nitrate that had been obtained from the cave earth was actually calcium nitrate, wood ash was added during the lixiviation process to convert it to potassium nitrate. Once the water was boiled off, the precipitate was collected and bagged, and transported to gunpowder factories, in this case likely the Confederate Powder Works in Augusta.

Mining at Kingston Saltpeter Cave began as early as 1804, by a William Nicholson who rented the cave from the Native Americans for a price of two hundred pounds of powder annually. By 1809 the mining operation had come under the ownership of a William Reed, who lived close to the cave at that time, but due to an altercation that resulted in a murder his operation ceased about a year later. Although there are no extant records of mining during the War of 1812, there is evidence that suggests that some use of the cave was made for that purpose then, as well as intermittently during the mid-1800s. It was in support of the Confederate cause, though, that the cave gained its greatest fame.

There were many saltpeter caves located throughout the South during the Civil War, principally in the Virginias, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. While some of the operations were larger than that at Kingston, the fact that this cave was situated so far south contributed to its importance, as it was still in operation long after others had been destroyed by the Union forces. A report dated July 31, 1862 stated that in the spring of that year all important saltpeter caves in the country, except for the one in Bartow County, were in Federal hands.

Referenced at the time as “Bartow Cave”, “Bartow Saltpeter Works”, or simply “Saltpeter Cave”, the cave was producing saltpeter at the time hostilities began, but at a quantity deemed too low. Consequently, on June 14, 1862 the Confederate government seized the property, and production at the cave increased. Army conscripts and slaves were utilized for labor, as many as 233 shown for one month.

On May 17, 1864 General William T. Sherman noted in his personal narrative that “… [General] McPherson…was about five miles to my right rear, near the ‘nitre caves’…”. Then, early on the morning of May 19th, the saltpeter operation having been deserted by the workers, Federal troops converged on the cave. Brigadier General Kenner Garrard wrote that “the works at Saltpeter Cave are extensive and in good running condition.” The works were destroyed by his troops the following day. Three days later a soldier in the 4th Army Corps would write in his diary, “We pass[ed] the smoking ruins of an old powder mill, which has been used for the manufacture of that article.”

Today the cave stands in mute testimony to its part in the war. With the production facilities having been located on the surface outside of the cave rather than within the cave as they were at many other sites, all vestiges of that industry are now gone; what wasn’t either destroyed in place or carted off by the Union troops has since rotted away. Piles of leached tailings are yet visible a short distance from the cave’s mouth. Inside, nearly every area of the cave was worked for the nitrous earth and evidence is even now apparent. The cave’s original floor level, which had been lowered in many places by digging, can still be seen. Passages and rooms that have been dug out; pick marks in the cave earth; tally marks on the walls, recording quantities of earth removed; large piles of “sift stones” that remained after mining; drill marks in rocks from the use of explosives; and several torch fragments all attest to the former mining activity in the cave. One remaining cast iron kettle from the cave, whose provenance has been established, is on display in nearby Euharlee.

Nitrate Mixing Kettle

Local tradition holds that before they left the cave workers hid tools, weapons and ammunition in a passage in the cave and blasted the passage shut. Extensive searching for such a place within the cave by this writer and others has been unsuccessful.

For details of the saltpeter mining at Kingston Saltpeter Cave, consult Sneed, Joel M. (2005), Bartow County Caves: History Underground in North Georgia.

Bartow’s Tunnel Mining Unearthed

Bartow’s Tunnel Mining Era Unearthed

By Joe F. Head


A sincere word of gratitude is extended to Mr. Stan Bearden for his civic mindedness to help bring these finds to the attention of the Etowah Valley Historical Society in the spirit of historic preservation.

Following the discovery of gold in north Georgia and the 1838 removal of the Cherokee Nation to Indian Territory in Tahlequah, Oklahoma the rush to extract precious ores was on in Bartow County.

Early mining began by panning for gold on creek banks and by digging vertical test well shafts in areas where surface signs indicated ores waited for harvest. Once a location revealed sufficient evidence a horizontal shaft was dug into a hillside to reach the test well and ore deposit.  As the ore tunnel was excavated, in some cases, timbers were installed to support the sides and ceiling. These mining tunnels were labor intensive being hand dug using picks and shovels with dirt and ore being removed by wrangling wheel barrows, buckets and rail carts.

According to Mr. Stan Bearden, New Riverside Ochre’s VP for Operations and Geologist a series of forgotten tunnel mines have been unearthed as a result of modern open pit mining practices. Improved mining machinery and detection technology has led the industry to return to former fields that were abandoned a century ago. An unexpected result is the discovery of forgotten tunnels and artifacts.

The photograph on the left is an example of a test well dug prior to 1920. The photograph to the right is an entrance to a mining tunnel that was dug as a result of the test well. The tunnel entrance led to the test well and was once large enough to accommodate a standing man, but has been back filled to prevent access.

In the 1990’s tunnel remains were unearthed by open pit surface mining on East Main Street on the Kroger shopping complex of today. These timbers were approximately 30 feet below the surface.

Depending upon the size and quality of the ore deposit the tunnel was often large enough to accommodate a man walking upright because the earth is considered “competent” to support shaft mining. If the quantity of the ore was in great supply a rail system was installed with carts to transport the raw ore from the source. These carts were often heavy – duty wooden or metal boxes with iron frames and wheels that rolled on narrow gauge mining rails. Carts were pushed out by hand or pulled by mules.

The cart on the left is a enhanced photo of a NRO mining cart at a mining site. The cart to the right was rebuilt by NRO and donated to LakePoint Station in Emerson from salvaged parts found at a mining site in Emerson.

The nation’s first gold rush occurred in Lumpkin County Georgia and ignited a frenzy to remove the Indians, own land and prospect for gold. The miners followed the vein southwest leading into Bartow County and tracked mostly down Stamp Creek and Allatoona Creek. As gold miners exhausted the thinning gold they quickly discovered that Cass County held a rich supply of diverse minerals and ores, particularly iron ore, manganese, barite, ochre, graphite and bauxite.

Tunnel mining was first conducted by private individuals and families. However the early corporate companies that established tunnel mining included; American Ochre Company, Blue Ridge Ochre Company, New Riverside Ochre Company, Georgia Peruvian Ochre Company and Standard Ochre Company. Companies sold stock in their ventures to raise capital in order to fund operations, purchase land, buy equipment and pay employees.

Cherokee Ochre Company was acquired by New Riverside Ochre Company. The primary officers were John Akin, Paul Akin, T. R. Jones, Tom Baxter, William Bird.

Following a century of Bartow mining the “last man standing” is New Riverside Ocher (NRO). New Riverside Ochre was originally founded in the late 1800’s as Riverside Ochre under the Satterfield family and following a devastating fire  continues operations as of this date as NRO. Since 1877, Bartow has been mined by more than 10 ochre companies and has produced more than 1.6 million tons of pigment as of 2018.

As the demand for ores flexed and waned, NRO has found the need to return to former ore fields to locate remote deposits missed by early operations due to inadequate exploration and extraction technology. When deposits were discovered modern equipment was moved to the site to extract ore using open pit mining methods.

This practice has yielded fresh supplies of ore and has begun to reveal multiple evidence of traditional tunnel mining sites that have long been forgotten.

NRO has uncovered several sites among others in land lots 387 and 390. Today these land lots are now occupied by the new Kroger shopping complex, Star Bucks and Avalon Apartments along East Main Street to the McDonalds at I-75 and follows I-75 south to where Old River Road runs below the interstate west toward the Old Dixie Highway 293 at the NRO headquarters. These sites were discovered as modern day open pit mining opened up large expanses of ground.

The image above reveals one of the many early tunnel mines that once existed in Bartow County prior to pit mining. NRO’s exploration proved the presence of deeper ochre missed by earlier mining and was reopened in early 1990. As the earth was removed from the surface a cross section of vertical timbers were uncovered and can be seen still embedded in the bank on the standing side of the open pit wall. This mine was previously owned by the Cherokee Ochre Company and was in operation prior to 1920. The tunnel was used to extract ochre and later the property was acquired by NRO. Once NRO returned to the site to begin open pit mining it was re-named the Bobbie Mine and in the process unearthed the old tunnel shaft remains. Here several artifacts were found including timber construction, carbide lamp filaments, narrow gauge cart rails and beverage bottles. The site is now covered by the Kroger store in land lot 406.

Carbide filament jar was found at the Blue Ridge Mine off of East Main Street. The narrow gauge rail was uncovered northeast of NRO offices in land lot 533 and the mining timber was an overhead support and found at the Yellow Jacket Mine LL 475.     

As technology improved tunnel mining was replaced with surface mining by using the open pit method excavated by large earth moving equipment to involve excavators, super dump trucks, massive draglines and pans. Matt Holton is seen below working the Big White Center open pit mine. It is not uncommon to find abandoned equipment in the field once it served its purpose.

The photograph above is of a 1900 era tunnel that was uncovered by NRO while opening a pit mine in land lot 533 northeast of the NRO main office. It was previously known as the Wormelsdorf mine. The tunnel was about 10 feet below the current day surface. Open pit mining continued below this level to reach deeper deposits of ochre. However, NRO preserved this finding for study and documentation. The find also indicated a rail system had been in place to service this tunnel.

A system of tunnels is also known off of Paga Mine Road west of Highway 293 south of the Etowah River in Land Lot 676. Here the Peruvian Ochre Mining Company of New York operated a series of ochre tunnels. Soon the Satterfield Mining Company (predecessor of NRO) established a competitive operation across the river. Today NRO owns the former Peruvian Ochre Mining Company and associated acreage.

In northeast Bartow County was perhaps the greatest concentration of tunnels located in one operation. Positioned northwest of Pine Log Mountain, south of Fairmount and east of highway 411 north of Falling Springs Road was a mining community known as Flexatile. Here an enormous deposit of slate was mined producing slabs of slate and granular material for roofing shingles. According to Mr. David Vaughan, property owner, the operation was conducted by digging deep wide pits and then digging horizontal tunnels into the banks of the pit. Mr. Vaughan states there were over nine miles of tunnels in this operation. The mining company that developed the site was Richardson Company followed by Funkhouser Incorporated.

About a mile northwest of Kingston was a very successful lime works next to the Western and Atlantic Railroad that became known as Cement, Georgia. Cement was established by Reverend Charles Howard in the 1850’s along with his Spring Bank School for women. Here he mined lime stone to manufacture cement and operated lime kilns to process the ore.

Bartow mining history is not without catastrophes. The newspapers often reported mining accidents and deaths associated with railroad mishaps, cave-ins and collapses related to tunnels and bank cut ‘slick-head” slides.

One such accident occurred October of 1904 when a great mass of dirt, timbers and ore gave way and tumbled on a force of men working in the Morgan Mine cut. The iron ore mine was located slightly south east of Cartersville, (now east of I-75 south of Pine Mountain Trail Head) north of Old River Road.

The October 6, 1904 issue of Cartersville News and Courant reported that the mine had several side tunnels resulting in high mounds of dirt. The owner was moving among tunnel crews when the dirt gave way. Five men were buried in the accident including the owner of the mine, Mr. R. P. Morgan. Rescue crews arrived by train from Cartersville and Emerson. According to the paper Mr. Morgan and one other man were crushed to death. Morgan was also pierced by large splinters from a shattered tram car.  Two others were recovered, but badly injured. The fifth man, a part time day laborer was never found.

A century later, upon the arrival of Komatsu Corporation a heavy equipment training course was in operation that was built upon former mining acreage on the east side of I-75 near the Pine Mountain Trail Head. During the excavator training an opening was discovered that held the remains of a victim.

On June 25, 2007, Brockington and Associates and the Bartow Coroner’s Office investigated the find and found scattered human bones with some other related clothing materials. An analysis of the remains and site suggested three scenarios of how the victim may have come to be in the shaft. The first was it may have been the grave of an early Bartow pioneer, the second was that someone had unfortunately fallen in the abandoned mine vent and perished there or the likely case that the remains appear to be the missing body of the 1904 Morgan Mine tragedy that was never found. The remains are now with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

A side benefit of the Brockington investigation uncovered a network of 21 vent ducts and 19 prospect shafts (tunnels) in the area associated with the human remains investigation. These mines were determined to be iron ore operations conducted by the Mansfield Mining Company.

A notorious network of mining camps and chain gangs once operated in the Sugar Hill Village near Pine Log in northeast Bartow County.  The Courant American reported on October 20, 1889 that two Negroes were badly injured when a railroad trestle collapsed while riding ore cars.  The Iron Belt Railroad and Mining Company was working the Guyton Ore Bank when the ore train crossed the creek. The engine crossed safely, but the trestle gave way as the ore cars passed over the span. Several men escaped serious injury, but several were hurt from being pummeled by the spilling ore and tumbling ore cars.

The legendary Lime Works at Ladd’s Mountain also was known to have tunnel shafts and natural caves. This mining site manufactured nitroglycerine for blasting the side of the mountain. In June of 1889, 700 pounds of nitro blew up destroying the building and near by machinery. The force of the blast shattered windows for a radius of three miles. Fortunately no personnel were injured in the explosion.

Perhaps one of the most horrific Bartow mining tragedies was the Chumley or Chumler Hill manganese mine located northeast of Cartersville off the Canton Road. The March 28, 1899 Courant American reported in two different articles that the men met a horrible underground death when a tunnel suddenly filled with water shutting off escape. The men were trapped over 220 feet below the surface. Once the men were reached they were all determined to have drowned. The follow up article describes in detail of the heroic efforts to recover the three men. It took a week to reach the trapped workers. The article relates that the shafts were about 4 feet wide and 6 feet high and how difficult the work was to remove the mud, water, debris and exhaustion of the rescue teams.

One year later, the Courant American reported on September 13, 1900 that  20 year Gus Reed fell forty feet down a shaft at the “Chumler Hill” mining site. He suffered crushed ankles, severe bruises and cuts, but survived. Dr. Calhoun reported that the foot and leg will have to be amputated. According to the paper this is the same “Chumley Hill” mine that flooded and killed several men the previous year.

According to an article in the July 24 1930, Tribune News a NRO workman was operating a steam shovel near the river when a cave-in occurred burying him. Quick work to recover him revealed he had suffered two broken legs and arm.

In 1884 the Cartersville American Newspaper reported a fatal accident at the Dobbins Mine east of Cartersville, when a cave – in occurred instantly killing a worker and a second worker sustained wounds that he was not expected to overcome.  A third worker was lost in the cave – in and was considered to be unrecoverable. The owner, Miles Dobbs was in the mine at the time and barely escaped. Recent heavy rains were blamed for the collapse of the banks.


 Since the late 1930’s, tunnel mining quickly faded and lost to our heritage because it is less effective, unprofitable and not competitive. At least five generations have emerged since the end of the tunnel era. From the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers to the Millennial Y’s and Z’s have little knowledge of the day when Bartow ore was pulled out of shafts.

Tunnel mining of yester-year has given way to massive excavators capable of reaching great depths and moving enormous amounts of earth. As new technology is introduced and used to rescan former fields to locate undiscovered or deeper ore deposits, former tunnel networks are being uncovered and stand as a reminder of Bartow’s tunnel mining ancestors.

Approximate locations of tunnel mining featured in this article





Special Acknowledgment

A special recognition is extended to Mr. Stan Bearden as the primary consultant to this article for his professional expertise regarding his time and specialized knowledge to interpret this topic. Without his keen observation and alertness to showcase this wrinkle in Bartow mining history, it may have perished without proper documentation.

Interviews and Field Visits

Mr. Stan Bearden, NRO Geologist and Vice President Operations, 6/25/ – 7/30/18

Mr. David Archer, Attorney, 6/26/10

Mr. Tom Deems, NRO President, 6/26/18

Mrs. Jodeen Brown, 7/11/18

Mr. Joel Guyton, Bartow County Coroner, 7/11/18

Mr. David Vaughan, 3/14/19


Tribune News, July 24, 1930, Negro Workman Painfully Hurt

Courant American News, October 6th, 1904, Mining Catastrophe

Courant American News, September 13, 1900, Accident at Chumler Hill Mine

Courant American News, March 28, 1899, Shut Up In a Mine

Courant American News, March 30, 1899, Bodies Recovered

Courant American News, October 20, 1898, A Trestle Falls In

Courant American News, June 27, 1889, A Terrible Explosion

Cartersville American, February 19, 1884, Fatal Accident


Brockington and Associates, historical archeologist cultural resources consultants

3850 Holcomb Bridge Road, Suite 105 Peachtree Corners, Georgia 30092

A Typology Analysis of Lithic Artifacts Recovered from a Middle Woodland Site in North Georgia (Lower Dig) – William Heflin

A Typology Analysis of Lithic Artifacts Recovered from a Middle Woodland Site in North Georgia

William Heflin (Kennesaw State University)

The prehistory of the Southeastern United States is divided into four broad periods: the Paleoindian period, the Archaic period, the Woodland period, and the Mississippian period. The Woodland period dates from ca. 1000 BC to AD 1000. Within this time period is the Middle Woodland period, which dates from 300 BC- AD 600. There are many factors that distinguish the Woodland period from the other periods. In north Georgia specifically, ceramic styles such as Cartersville Simple and Check Stamped emerge (Wood and Bowen 1995, 12). Housing structures of this time were round or oval shaped and villages were often concentrated near rivers (Hudson 1979, 62). In terms of lithic artifacts, triangular points became common during this time (Keith 2010, 10). The dietary structure of the Woodland people consisted of a mixture of plants and animals. The agriculture at this time seems to conform to the Eastern Agricultural Complex (Hudson 1979, 60). The EAC included crops such as starchy and oily seeds, squash, sunflower seeds, and nuts (Espenshade and Patch 2005, 40).

The Lower Dabbs site is a small village located on the first terrace of the Etowah River in Bartow County, Georgia.  This site corresponds with the cultural phase known as the Cartersville phase (Wood and Bowen 1995, 11-13). Lower Dabbs sits directly on the opposite side of the river from the Leake site, the pre-eminent Woodland site in the region, near the Etowah Indian Mounds (Figure 1). This site has been the location of an archaeology field school taught by Dr. Terry G. Powis of Kennesaw State University (KSU) since 2015.


Figure 1: A local map detailing the Lower Dabbs site (yellow star), Leake site (red star), and Etowah Indian Mounds (blue star). Map provided by Terry G. Powis.

Over the past three years of excavations, the Lower Dabbs site has yielded a wide variety of artifacts. Such artifacts include ceramics (including Cartersville Simple Stamped, Check Stamped, and Linear Check Stamped), lithics, shell, and bone materials. These artifacts have all been recovered on a site that is 25 by 25 meters in areal extent (Figure 2). While to date there has not been a confirmed housing structure excavated at the site, features such as postholes containing daub (mud/clay used for building housing structures) suggest that there were one or many structures present at one time. Other features found at the site include a potential hearth, refuse pits and storage pits. One of these features (feature 120) produced not only charcoal, but also dateable ceramic and lithic artifacts (Figure 3).

Figure 2: An aerial map of the Lower Dabbs site. Map produced by Jeff Turner.


Figure 3: A map of features excavated at the Lower Dabbs site. Map produced by Jeff Turner.

To date, the only research performed on artifacts from the site has been on decorated ceramics found in features. Therefore, this project will be the first research on the lithic artifacts that have been recovered at Lower Dabbs. I believe that while a wide range of knowledge can indeed be gained from ceramic research, just as much can also be gleaned from the analysis of the lithic materials. Performing the first analysis of lithic artifacts found at Lower Dabbs will allow for a new perspective when understanding those prehistoric inhabitants who occupied it.

Lithic artifacts, as defined by William Andrefsky Jr, are any culturally modified stone tools or debitage (debris created as a result of the lithic reduction process) material found on prehistoric sites (Andrefsky Jr 2005, 11) (Figure 4). These tools are created in a process known as lithic reduction. In the lithic reduction process, the tool starts as a large core, then flakes and other debitage are knapped off to form what is called a preform. Finally, the preform is further worked until all that is left is the stone tool. In certain cases, flakes themselves can be re-touched and even used as tools. While numerous stones can be worked to create these tools, the highest frequency represented in my analysis was chert (though I also had a wide variety of chert colors and quality), followed by quartz, and in one case quartzite. Lithic analysis refers to the sorting, typing, and further analyzing in order to properly identify what the tool is and what purpose it

Figure 4: A collection of Lithic Artifacts (made from chert) excavated from the Lower Dabbs site. Such artifacts include flakes, shatter, and incomplete tools.

may have served.

The purpose of this project was to perform the analysis on the lithic artifacts recovered from the Lower Dabbs site. Once this analysis was performed, certain cultural questions were raised and answered by the research. Such questions include: whether or not any trends were present in the tools or the materials used to make them; which materials were most common (and why), do any of the artifacts (or materials) suggest trade; understand and justify the presence of earlier type points; explaining how lithic analysis can be combined with other forms of dating; and analysis to give more accurate dates to prehistoric sites such as Lower Dabbs.

Research Process

The first step of my work was collecting and sorting through all relevant materials to my research. This meant going through each artifact bag from the site individually and separating lithic artifacts from anything non-lithic, including ceramics, bone, and natural materials. For the most part, all of the artifacts were recovered from the site in the past three years of field school excavations. Once the lithic material had been separated, relevant materials were selected and isolated from the assemblage. These materials included complete and incomplete projectile points and PP/K’s, incomplete tools (bifacial or unifacial), flake tools (flake debitage that had been reworked and possibly utilized), preforms and shale/slate tools. The most common artifacts and the most useful for analysis were projectile points and PP/K’s. The term “PP/K” (Projectile Point/ Knife) refers to points that are asymmetrical, whereas most projectile points are symmetrical (Figure 5). Though PP/K’s are typically flat on one side, they are similar to the points in that they adhere to the same classifications and can be typed the same way as projectile points. In some cases, the resources used for typing the points even acknowledged that certain versions may be asymmetrical and used as a PP/K. Every artifact removed was given its own individual artifact bag and tag. For every artifact removed, an empty bag with a duplicate tag was placed in the original bag to allow for the artifacts to be reintegrated properly when the research is completed.

Figure 5: A Yadkin Projectile Point (left) compared to a Bakers Creek PP/K (right). Photographs taken with the assistance of Patrick Severts and Terry G. Powis.

Once all of the material relevant to my study had been removed from the overall assemblage of artifacts, a catalog had to be created using Microsoft Excel in order to keep track of all that had been removed. The first spreadsheet was very basic, and accounted for all of the materials recovered in the order they had been found by date, provenience information, material, and type of tool. Once this was done, more specific spreadsheets were created to account for all of the information that could be gained from the materials. One of the more important spreadsheets accounted for all of the metric information available for the complete projectile points and knives. Another sheet explained the metrics available from incomplete/ broken materials, and dates and time periods for complete points and PP/K’s. Appropriate sheets were also made for all other artifacts analyzed.

For the majority of the artifacts, measurements were taken in millimeters using a pair of digital calipers. In certain cases where the artifacts were too large (such as the shale/slate tools) measurements were manually taken using a basic ruler. Weights were only taken for the complete artifacts, and were taken in grams using a digital scale.

All of the complete projectile points and PP/K’s were successfully typed using a wide variety of resources, both printed and online. One of the most crucial printed works used was that of John S. Whatley, whose 2002 special issue article in the Society for Georgia Archaeology detailed all of the projectile points and other such tools that had been found in the State at the time. Other printed works included digital copies of archaeological reports on other sites local to the Lower Dabbs site, shared with me by my advising professor (Terry Powis). Such sites included the Leake site (Keith 2010) and the Hardin Bridge site (Espenshade and Patch 2005). Online resources were also used in some cases. Such resources include the Georgia section of the online projectile point database (, and the projectile point section of the Peach State Archaeological Society website.

In addition to this paper, earlier versions of my research were presented in the spring of 2018 at both the Georgia Academy of Science and KSU’s Symposium of Student Scholars. This research in its most recent form was also recently presented for the mandatory practicum presentations for anthropology majors in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at KSU. For all of these presentations, high quality photographs of the artifacts used in the research had to be taken to give the best visual depiction of this work. While the Anthropology Department does have their own photo set-up, the lighting proved to be unsatisfactory for displaying all attributes of the analyzed materials. To allow for higher quality photographs to be taken, I drove down to LaGrange, Georgia to use the photo set-up of Patrick Severts, which combines both LED bulbs and natural light. For these photos, all of the complete points and tools were photographed, while representative samples of all other categories were also photographed. The main issue we noticed was that darker colored cherts were more difficult to photograph.

Aside from the difficulty in photographing certain artifacts, other difficulties and complications were also presented during the course of this research. First, not all of the sources were consistent in their data, and in some cases data from one report conflicted with data from another. In some of the local site reports, the photographs of the points recovered did not resemble those in other sources. One issue was the photographs given of points from various sites. Some of the points photographed and typed from one site would look unlike points of the same name photographed and typed from other site reports or online databases. Additionally, in regards to photography, some of the photos of lithic artifacts found at other sites were less than ideal. In certain cases, the only photos of lithic artifacts taken were in black-and-white and were less useful in identifying certain defining characteristics of the points.

Another issue was the lack of attention given to lithic artifacts overall recovered from some of the local sites. For instance, I found in many reports that the metric information available in some of these reports were lacking, and in some cases not all of the metrics were even available. For some of these reports, only the mean and average values of a certain typed point was included as well as the number of such points that were recovered, rather than including the metrics for each point of a specific type. For the most part, I found that most of the attention was given to ceramic artifacts recovered from most sites, and lithics were scarcely analyzed. There were also some cases in which lithic analysis was limited to just photographs of the artifacts and acknowledgements that certain points and tools were present at the sites.

A final issue presented in this research was the lack of recent articles and works to perform analysis. Some of the articles used as references in my research were much older than the current research. For example, the Whatley article used to type most of the points analyzed for this research was published in 2002. When using this article, some of the measurements may have been confirmed, but photographs and other information was double-checked using online sources and other site reports. Additionally, when attempting to understand different types of stones used to make tools and where such material can be found, the most credible information came from an article published by Sharon Goad in 1979. Due to the age of this article, some of the findings contrasted that which was found at the Lower Dabbs site. In one instance, Goad claims that people living in this region of Georgia at the Middle Woodland time period would have been using quartz and quartzite to create their tools (Goad 1979, 65-66). While this will be discussed later in more detail, the majority of tools recovered were made from chert, whereas very few were made from quartz and only one was made from quartzite.

In one instance, we were presented with an online application that claimed to be able to type points using an AI database. Though initially skeptical, I decided to at least see how accurate it was. Every time I uploaded a picture I received an error message. Through further investigation I found that the application had been started but never completed, and the database was only utilized on a small number of points. 

Results/ Findings

The grand total of artifacts recovered and used for this research is 158 artifacts. This total is divided into the following broad categories:

Complete Artifacts

Sixteen complete artifacts were recovered and analyzed in this research. Complete points are those where all material is present from tip-to-base. This total is broken down into 15 complete projectile points (11 points, four PP/K’s), and one complete unifacial blade. The complete unifacial blade is often disregarded, as no reliable sources were found on typing unifacial lithic tools.

Incomplete Projectile Points

Incomplete projectile points represent points or possible PP/K’s that are broken, but enough material was still present to designate the artifact as a point or knife rather than some other form of tool. A total of 44 artifacts, were included in this category. Of these 44 artifacts, 21 had enough material present to be typed as projectile points or PP/K’s.


Incomplete Tools

The incomplete tool category represents artifacts that show signs of being worked on one or both sides, but are missing the necessary portions to be designated as a projectile point or PP/K. For the most part this section consisted of chert and quartz midsections or tools that had no bases, as bases were crucial for typing the points. A total of 47 incomplete stone tools were recovered.


Preforms, as defined in the Andrefsky book, represent the stage in lithic reduction right before the finished product (Andrefsky Jr 2005, 260). These often look like stones with the shapes of a tool, but have not yet been worked on the sides. Thirty preforms were present in the assemblage.

Flake Tools

Flake tools, as defined by Andrefsky, are tools where a flake (a form of debitage created when making a lithic tool) had signs of being reworked and possibly used (Andrefsky 2005, 255). Fourteen such tools were present.


Shale/Slate Tools

The final category was shale/slate tools. These are pieces of shale or slate rock which have been worked (often their edges were rounded) into a potential tool, however little research was done on these as all of them were broken. Seven such artifacts were recovered. Originally, this name “shale/slate” was a catch-all title to account for the small amount of these tools, but with the help of Patrick Severts this total was divided into four shale and three slate tools. These tools were not given too much attention, as they were all incomplete and unable to be analyzed.


Lithic Trends

            To create the typology for the site, the 15 complete points (Appendix A) were combined with the 21 incomplete points that had enough material to be typed (Appendix D), giving a total of 36 artifacts that could be typed. The following is a list of the types that to date have been identified through these 36 artifacts, as well as how many of each were observed: five Yadkin, four Camp Creek, two Bakers Creek, two Woodland Spike, three Coosa (one stemmed and two notched), one Otarre, one New Market, one Appalachian, one Swan Lake, one Kirk Serrated, one Mississipian Triangular, two Hernando, two Paris Island, three Swannanoa, two Ebenezer, two Little Bear Creek, and two Savannah River (Appendices A and D). Of these types, the two most popular are Yadkin (five) and Camp Creek (four). A unique feature of both types is that they adhere to the triangular style that is observed in many Woodland period lithics.

Dating Using Lithics

            Previously, dates for the Lower Dabbs site came exclusively from a combination of ceramic analysis and radiocarbon dating from features at the site. While these are two valid methods of dating a prehistoric site, my research allows for a lithic perspective to be introduced to the site for the first time. However, this is best performed by using artifacts recovered from features, as any artifact excavated from a feature still has its cultural context. Feature 120 gives a perfect example as to how all three methods of dating may be used together to confirm the dates of a site. In this feature, Cartersville Simple Stamped and Dunlap Fabric Marked ceramic sherds were recovered, which are associated with dates from 300 BC- AD 600. Additionally, radiocarbon dates taken from charcoal samples near the pottery dated from 360 BC- 170 cal BC. In terms of lithics, three complete Yadkin points (known to date 500 BC- AD 600) and one complete Coosa Notch point (500 BC-AD 500) were recovered (Appendix B). The combination of these three dating methods, combined with the known time period of the Middle Woodland highly suggest a long Middle Woodland habitation at the Lower Dabbs site (Figure 6). As quoted by Scot Keith’s report of the nearby Leake site, “Coosa and Coosa notched PP/Ks appear in northwest Georgia, commonly occurring in association with fabric marked and simple stamped wares; these related types continue into the following Middle Woodland period.” (Keith 2010, 10). Additionally, while the majority of other points were found during the surface collection or excavation units (thereby not being in the cultural context associated with features), most of these points were also typed with dates in the Woodland period (Appendix B).

Figure 6: A collection of Cartersville Check and Simple Stamped pottery sherds (left) alongside Yadkin and Coosa projectile points (right), all of which are known to be associated with the Middle Woodland period.

Interestingly, some of the typed points date to an earlier time period (Appendix B). Examples of such points include the Appalachian point (2500-1500 BC), the Paris Island point (2700-2200 BC), and the Savannah River point (2150-1800 BC). The dates of all of these points are somewhere within the time period known as the Archaic period. While these artifacts may be less useful in dating the site, their presence can still be explained. One explanation is that there may have been people in the area before the time that the Lower Dabbs site was actually settled. The proximity to the river would have likely drawn people to collect water, so perhaps one of these large Archaic type points could have fallen from their pockets. Additionally, the water would have likely attracted animals as well, so this area could have been a hunting ground at that time. To this date, the attraction to game animals can still be observed, as during my time at the field school I often observed many herds of deer approaching my car, at some points even sprinting directly in front of it.

Another possible explanation is the aesthetic or collectors’ value. Similar to how modern people appreciate antiques and other old/vintage items, the Middle Woodland people at the Lower Dabbs site may have also had an eye towards older artifacts. There is potential that to them, these had historical significance and may also have been valued as antiques.

In addition to the typed points from the Archaic and Woodland periods, one point also was typed and dated to the more recent Mississippian period. This incomplete point is called the Mississippian Triangular point, and resembles a much smaller version of a Yadkin style point. This allowed me to look at the assemblage and understand how lithic technology as time progressed. What I observed was that most of the Archaic period artifacts were much larger and bulkier, and in my research specifically all of these points and knives had stems. The Woodland period points were known to be slightly smaller and triangular, though some examples such as the Coosa did have stems. Finally, the Mississippian period point recovered from this site was triangular and incredibly small. This suggests that as time went on, people were finding ways to make their tools smaller yet still effective. The bow and arrow is not believed to have introduced into this region until sometime in the Mississippian period, though it is plausible that these smaller points were made to be used as what most people refer to as “arrow-heads”.

Source Materials

Understanding the differences in material used to create the tools in this assemblage was also of interest in this research. The overwhelming majority of projectile points and PP/K’s were made from chert, while some others were made from quartz. In total, 131 artifacts used in this analysis were made from chert while an additional 19 were made from quartz, one from quartzite, and the rest from shale or slate. This is also well noted in the 15 complete points, where 12 of the artifacts were made from chert, two were made from quartz, and one appears to be made of quartzite (Figure 7) (Appendix C). This directly contrasts the opinion of UGA’s Sharon Goad, who claimed that quartz and quartzite were the preferred lithic material of the time for those living in North Georgia (Goad 1979, 65-66).

Figure 7: A collection of lithic artifacts made from chert (top), quartz (bottom left) and quartzite (bottom right).

Though the lithic artifacts of the Lower Dabbs site directly contrast what had been observed by Goad (1979), their preference for chert may be explainable. One possible explanation is that the people of the Middle Woodland period recognized the difficulty in working quartz as opposed to chert, and therefore spent little time trying to create tools from quartz. Due to their location on the river, these people likely had access to both chert and quartz, but it would appear that chert was the preferred material. As is noted in the lithics book by William Andrefsky Jr, chert is one of a select types of stone that can be manipulated to crack or break in a certain way, while the breaking of a quartz stone may be much harder to predict (Andrefsky Jr 2005, 24). This would also be apparent in the large quantity of incomplete and broken quartz points recovered. However, there were certain cases in which well-made quartz artifacts were recovered from the site and analyzed.

Finally, I wanted to analyze the different types of chert used to make the majority of the points found at the site. When analysis began, a wide variety of colors were present in the chert used to make the points. In addition to the colors, the quality of chert analyzed also differed. There were some artifacts that appeared to be made of high quality chert, and others were of what appeared to be a lower quality. When my research began, I was under the belief that the different colors of chert meant that these were all different types of chert, leading me to believe that this definitively proved that trade was occurring at the site. Further, more detailed analysis showed that this may not be the case. For this portion to be done, I analyzed and researched all of the chert materials as a whole from the assemblage that had been recovered from features, and then grouped similar artifacts together to compare and contrast.

It is here that the work by Sharon Goad proved to be most useful, as her investigation into materials used by prehistoric Native Americans is one of the most detailed chert study in the region and is regarded in multiple reports as such. The Lower Dabbs site is located in a geological region of Georgia known as the Ridge and Valley region, and more specifically the Great Valley region. As mentioned by Goad, chert was less common in this area as it was in the Northwest corridor of the state, and that most groups in this region would have been using quartz and quartzite (Goad 1979, 16).

This led me to question why so many artifacts were made of chert, and if this overwhelming presence of chert-made artifacts could indeed suggest that the inhabitants of this site were trading with other groups. As mentioned in a report by Jerald Ledbetter, Lisa D. O’Steen and Scott Jones (2009), while local chert sources in this region were typically used by people of the Archaic people, higher quality chert was used by groups from later time periods (such as the Woodland and Mississippian) and was often imported from more distant sources (Ledbetter, O’Steen and Jones 2009, 37). This further fueled belief that the differences in chert used to make the points would have implied trade.

While trading is known to have occurred during the Middle Woodland time period and thereby cannot be disproven, consultation with a geological map of the region as well as cross checking with the Goad book revealed interesting findings. First, the geological map showed that the Lower Dabbs site is located on a hotspot of chert known as Knox Group chert. In addition to this map, a report of the local Hardin Bridge site also included a photograph of a large outcrop of chert that was also determined to be Knox Group (Epenshade and Patch 2008, 9). In her work, Goad explains how Knox Group chert is divided into three other types: Copper Ridge, Chepultepec, and Longview. The most common of these for toolmaking is Copper Ridge, and is also known to be found in a wide variety of colors (Goad 1979, 15). Goad further noted forms such as chepultepec were less desirable for making tools, as they are of a poorer quality and are sometimes described as appearing to be “worm-eaten” (Goad 1979, 15). This characteristic resembles the pores commonly found on sponges, and was in many instances observed on the materials recovered from the Lower Dabbs site.

Certain artifacts were made of a chert that was jet black in color. This dark color is known to be associated with a different group of chert called Fort Payne chert. While again present in the Ridge and Valley region, this type of chert was commonly to be found closer to the Northwest area of the region. As mentioned in the report by Goad, Knox and Fort Payne chert were the two most common types used for toolmaking in the Ridge and Valley region (Goad 1979, 18). The Fort Payne material was originally believed to be non-local. However, after again reviewing the geological map, I found that this material is locally found in Polk County (which is the county directly south of Bartow County where the Lower Dabbs site is located).

One of the completed Yadkin points was determined to be made from quartzite, which was thought only be available near the coasts and would again suggest trading. Final consultation with the geology map proved that quartzite is also locally available and can be found near Lake Allatoona. While there is no proof or evidence to say that trade did or did not occur at this site, the argument can now be proposed that there is enough local material to prove that these points could have all been made locally.


While this research addressed numerous aspects of lithic analysis, there are other aspects that could be further investigated if this research were to continue. Most of this research was conducted with an emphasis on the complete and incomplete artifacts that could be typed. While these artifacts were successfully used to date the site, some of the artifacts that were pulled for this research were left untouched. Such artifacts include the flake tools, incomplete tools, preforms, and shale/slate tools. In most cases, flake tools were flakes that had small portions of one side worked into what could maybe be used as a small blade or scraper. Interestingly, however, one of the flakes was actually worked into what appeared to be a point.

Though most of the incomplete tools were left unanalyzed because they lacked a base in order to be typed, later review found that some of these may have been intentionally made without bases and were not meant to be points in the first place.

Shale/slate tools received little attention due to the lack of material and fact that all of them incomplete. Further research could potentially investigate how shale and slate overall may have been used to create specific artifacts at prehistoric sites.

Finally, in terms of source materials and rocks used to make the points, later research may warrant spending some time in the field looking to see just how locally available some of these materials are. It is believed that there is a nearby chert outcrop on the far side of the site near the river, but in general exploring up and down river could potentially reveal a wide variety of materials.

This research was the first of its kind to be performed at the Lower Dabbs site, as to date no other lithic analysis has been conducted. By performing my research, I was able to answer multiple questions, while also raising new ones. By typing and dating the points that came from Feature 120 and combining this new information with what is known of the ceramics and charcoal samples in the same feature, a Middle Woodland occupation of the site was confirmed. Additionally, learning and understanding the known trends in lithic technology of the Middle Woodland period, as well as the periods before and after, helped to show that the majority of typed artifacts were also from the Middle Woodland. Through understanding the Archaic style points recovered, I was able to speculate that there may also have been activity in the area before the main occupation at the site. Understanding the different materials used to create the tools that were excavated allowed for new questions to be raised about whether or not there was trade occurring. By discovering that there are local sources in which these materials could have come from, lithic analysis alone may not be enough to confirm nor deny trade. Going further, this research may even help researchers not only to understand trends in lithic artifacts from this site, but also trends in lithics from the region as a whole. Lithic analysis is just one of many skills required to give a complete understanding of the prehistory of Georgia.


I would first like to thank my advising professor and mentor, Dr. Terry Powis, for overseeing this project and for providing me with all of the resources, educational assistance, research tools, and other advising necessary throughout this research. None of this could have been done without his assistance contributions. I would next like to thank Andy Dabbs, owner of the land and namesake for the site, for allowing myself and other students to excavate the site on his land and do research on the artifacts recovered. I would also like to thank Patrick Severts for allowing me to use his photography setup in order to take high quality images of the artifacts. I would like to thank my Family for their support in all of my endeavors in anthropology and archaeology, and for them taking interest in my field knowing my passion towards this work. Finally, many steps of the recovery phase and cataloging were time consuming, but made shorter with the help of friends and fellow students in the anthropology department. It is here that I would like to mention and thank these individuals for taking the time to help me with some of this labor: Gary Owenby, Ellie Stanley, Anne Marie Butz, Danielle McClarty, and other students who contributed throughout the semester.


Appendix A: Measurements and data for all complete artifacts recovered from the site.


Appendix B: Dates of typed points (complete and incomplete) recovered from the site.


Appendix C: Materials used to make the complete points analyzed from the site.


Appendix D: Measurements and data for all typed incomplete points.


References Cited

Andrefsky Jr., William. 2005. Lithics: Macroscopic Approaches to Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Espenshade, Christopher T. and Shawn M. Patch. 2008. A Middle Woodland Household on the Etowah River: Archaeological Investigations of the Hardin Bridge Site, 9BR34. New South Associates.

Goad, Sharon I. 1979. Chert Resources in Georgia: Archaeological and Geological Perspectives. Athens: University of Georgia.

Hudson, Charles. 1979. The Southeastern Indians. The University of Tennessee Press: Knoxville.

Ledbetter, Jerald, Lisa D. O’Steen and Scott Jones. 2009. The Late Archaic to Early Woodland Transition in Northwest Georgia: Evidence for the Terminal Archaic (ca. 1100- 600 B.C.) Period Occupation in the Region. Southeastern Archaeological Services, Inc.

Keith, Scot J. 2010. Archaeological Data Recovery at the Leake Site, Bartow County, Georgia. New South Associates.

Peach State Archaeological Society. 2018. “Projectile Points”.

Projectile Point Identification Guide. n.d. “Projectile Points of Georgia”.

Whatley, John S. 2002. “An Overview of Georgia Projectile Points and Selected Cutting Tools” Early Georgia 30 (1): 1-133.

Wood, Dean W. and William R. Bowen. 1995. “Woodland Period Archaeology of Northern Georgia” University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology Series 33 (9): 1-23.






Historic Railroads of Bartow County

Etowah Station, W&A RR Etowah River Bridge

The History and Development of the Railroads of Bartow County

By Giovanni Martino

Bartow County, formerly Cass County, owes much of its success to the early construction of a state-owned railroad built between Atlanta and Chattanooga known as the Western and Atlantic (W&ARR). Being situated at the midpoint of these two termini, Bartow County’s citizens wasted no time in improving their

Wilson Lumpkin, 35th governor of Georgia and the man most responsible for the prominence of its rail system.

fortunes through the railroad. The county is located in a fortuitous geographic position; iron is abundant in its eastern mountains, while much of the north and west of the county is well-suited to use as farmland. Iron goods and agricultural products produced in Bartow were within a few days’ shipping to any market in the nation.  As well, the area had an early boost in population from settlers seeking gold, minerals, and land on which they might establish a new life for themselves. Such success would lead to the construction of multiple other railroads, leading from Bartow to various other cities and towns throughout northern Georgia and Alabama.

As a result of the initial state owned W&ARR, local Bartow entrepreneurs eventually built five railroads and supporting spurs that connected to the state road. Additionally, interstate railroad companies would also come to share the tracks creating a thriving network of rail traffic.  These various railroads contributed greatly to Bartow’s status as an economic power in Georgia.

Map Courtesy of Josh Shapiro and Tim Poe via ArcGIS

The Western and Atlantic Railroad

In 1826, Wilson Lumpkin accompanied surveyor Hamilton Fulton in an expedition to choose the route for a proposed canal meant to link the Chattahoochee and Tennessee rivers. Due to the great distance and significant number of mountains in-between the two locations, Fulton dismissed all possibilities for a canal as entirely infeasible. However, he did lay a suggested path for a railroad in the area. Railways were, at this time, a new technology, unfamiliar to most of America.

Lumpkin was elected governor of Georgia in 1831. A few years earlier, in 1829, gold had been discovered near Dahlonega. The area surrounding Dahlonega was, at the time, owned by the Cherokee Nation. Acutely aware of the potential economic benefits of this land, Lumpkin authorized a survey of Cherokee lands, disbursing the lands despite the continued presence of Cherokees. To remedy this, Lumpkin became an advocate of President Jackson’s Indian Removal act, forcing the Cherokees to walk the “Trail of Tears” out of Georgia.

In September 1831, several prominent citizens of Georgia met in Eatonton to discuss the funding and location of potential railroads. This meeting stimulated demand for railroads in Georgia; three railroads were chartered by the Georgia State Assembly in the legislative session of 1833 (The Macon and Western Railroad, the Central of Georgia Railroad, and the Georgia Railroad), all in the east or south of the state.

Colonel Steven Harriman Long, the man who surveyed the original route of the Western and Atlantic RR

These new lines would have to be connected with the greater network of railways shared by other states. On December 21, 1836, the State Assembly of Georgia voted to fund the construction of a railway line linking these southern roads to Chattanooga. Col. Stephen Harriman Long, was contracted for the Survey on May 12, 1837. He located an optimal spot for the joining of the Macon-Savannah Railway with the newly proposed State Road. This terminus would be located about seven miles to the east of the Chattahoochee River. Not long after Col. Long completed his survey, construction on the line began northward.  Over the course of the railway’s construction, the terminus slowly became a township, named Terminus, which eventually became Atlanta.

Cass County, being situated halfway between the new terminus point and the city of Chattanooga, became the midpoint of this new rail line. Construction of the newly-christened Western and Atlantic Railroad rail line began in March, 1838. By 1841, only 20 miles of track had been lain, and the W&A did not yet reach Marietta from its terminus in Atlanta. On December 4, 1841, the state legislature voted to suspend all work on the road north of the Etowah River.

This state of affairs would not last for long. Less than a month later, in January 1842, Wilson Lumpkin, now freshly retired from the U.S. Senate, was given the duty of directing construction of the railway.  By January 1843, the train line was past Marietta and well on its way to Cassville. On December 22, 1843, the Georgia Legislature approved plans to resume construction north of the Etowah River.

This newspaper clipping reveals the date that railroad service first opened to Cartersville. Note the early, John Bull-esque style of locomotive depicted in the illustration.

The work continued, but stalled at Chetoogeta Mountain (Catoosa County) until a tunnel could be dug. While waiting for the tunnel, the Georgia work crews moved north to Chattanooga and began constructing the rest of the line southward. The tunnel was completed on May 7, 1850[1] and the two lines were joined. The Western and Atlantic Railroad (W&A) was finally completed.

Over the course of the Civil War, the W&A suffered greatly at the hands of both sides. Most of the road’s bridges were destroyed by sabotage multiple times throughout the war. As well, much of the line’s rails were deformed into “Sherman’s Neckties” by heating them and twisting them around trees. This practice was exercised upon the W&A by both the Union, during Sherman’s siege of Atlanta, and the Confederacy, during the course of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.

After the war, repairing the railroad damage was a primary concern for the Georgia state government, as the W&A was the major artery by which Georgian goods reached the markets of the North. Under new governor James Johnson, the railroad was fully repaired and operational by the end of 1866.

In 1870, by act of the General Assembly, Governor Rufus Bullock leased the W&A to a company owned by former Governor Brown for a period of twenty years, at a rate of $25,000 per month. Brown’s company further helped to restore the railroad to the condition it was in prior to the Civil War, fostering economic development along the road and relieving the state of the financial burden of its management. His lease ran out in 1890; it was not renewed. Instead, the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway (NC&St.L), a subsidiary of the Louisville and Nashville Railway (L&N), picked up the lease at an increased rate of $35,000 per month for a term lasting thirty years.

Despite the name, the NC&St.L did not actually reach St. Louis, only controlling a line from Chattanooga to Nashville, and from there to Hickman, Kentucky, on the Mississippi River. Still, by extending its line to Atlanta via the W&A, it gained a great influx of wealth. Much of this wealth came from Bartow County, sharing in the spoils which the expansive track of the NC&St.L and L&N afforded its cargo.

It was typical in the south that railroads were built as a broad gauge  system meaning five feet between parallel rails.  Northern rail systems were four feet, five and half inches. This narrow gauge proved to be more favored and touted as an economic advantage for the rail industry.  As a result, in 1886 Georgia adjusted the 138 miles of W&A track in just 24 hours using 400 men who pried up one rail and moved it three inches closer to the opposite rail. Existing rolling stock wheel bases were re-gauged to comply with this change.

In the wake of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the US Army Corps of Engineers, empowered by the Flood Control Act of 1941, set about plans to construct a dam in southeastern Bartow County. As a matter of course, this dam would flood much of that portion of the county. Unfortunately for the NC&St.L, several miles of the W&A were now in an area that was slated to be flooded within a few years. The entry of the United States into WWII set back the timetable quite a bit, but it was still an issue that had to be addressed. So it was that, on March 8, 1945, the Georgia State Assembly passed a resolution providing funding for the relocation of 5.25 miles of track, from where the rail line met the Bartow/Cobb County line to slightly south of Emerson. This track was both to be relocated slightly westwards (to higher ground), and straightened out, as its path was rather meandering. It is not clear precisely when this movement was completed, but it is known that it was finished by the time Allatoona Dam opened on January 31, 1950.

This was not the only track relocation going on in Bartow in the 40’s. Until this time, trains traveling on the W&A would, about two miles north of Emerson, have to go around a broad, sharp turn (almost a right angle) known as “McGuire’s Curve,” after a family living nearby. It is likely that this inelegant bend was the result of the cessation of all work on the original W&A line north of the Etowah River in 1841. When the work picked back up, they chose a slightly different path, and instead of tearing up a mile of track to straighten the whole thing up, they simply continued from where they were, despite the extension in track length.

Regardless of its origin, McGuire’s Curve had to be corrected – which, in 1944, it did. Track connecting the two extreme ends of the curve, essentially the hypotenuse of the triangle, was laid, and the old track of McGuire’s curve was eliminated. Though this task was, presumably, rather notable in scale, it is unclear precisely who authorized and paid for the track movement. No record exists in the State legislative archives providing for the removal of McGuire’s Curve.

The W&A would continue to be leased by the NC&St.L until 1957, when the NC&St.L was absorbed by the L&N. The L&N continued to operate the W&A for another ten years, until its parent company, the Atlantic Coast line (ACL) merged with the Seaboard Air Line (SAL) to form the Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) in 1967. This line itself would merge with Chessie Systems in 1986, forming it current lessee, Chessie-Seaboard Consolidated, better known today as CSX.

Published in a 1949 edition of The Weekly Tribune News, this Wilbur Kurtz illustration depicts the W&A with and without McGuire’s Curve. *

The Etowah Railroad

The work on the W&A brought economic life to Cass County. In 1830, its population was below 2,000 (non-Indian). By 1840, it had skyrocketed to 9,400, reaching 13,300 by 1850.

In 1837, Jacob Stroup and his sons constructed several iron furnaces along the banks of the Etowah River and its local tributaries. Mark Anthony Cooper, a banker from Columbus and organizer of the conference at Eatonton, purchased interest in their ironworking operations in 1842.  Shortly afterwards, in 1845, the township of Etowah was founded, based around the ironworks. Seeking a more efficient way to transport locally produced iron, Cooper used his connections in Milledgeville to get a charter for a new spur of the W&A in late 1847. This line, called the Etowah Railroad, was intended to begin at the Etowah Station of the W&A, head through Cooper’s iron works, stretching all the way to Canton and then Dahlonega. The line never made it much farther than Etowah, and construction ceased entirely on the line by 1857. The small portion of the railway which was constructed ran about four miles along the north bank of the Etowah River, between what is now US Route 41 and Allatoona Dam. The junction was just to the southeast of Cartersville, and the terminus was located in Etowah. The locomotive Yonah was acquired to make the rounds, and a turntable was built at the end of the line to service it.

With such investment, the town was an economic boom for several years. Cooper was an effective executive of the town; under him, it became the single most fruitful iron producer in the state of Georgia.  Ore processed at its furnaces would go on to constitute the rails of at least three of the major railroads in Georgia (among them the Western and Atlantic).   Despite a smallpox scare in 1849 and the destruction of Cooper’s mansion by fire in 1857, the town would remain prosperous for some time. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Etowah was shipping over sixty tons of raw iron and two tons of iron castings monthly. When the war began, the Confederacy wasted no time in pressing the ironworks into service as a munitions foundry. Cooper, though enthusiastic about helping the Confederacy, refused to cease production of his more profitable civilian contracts in favor of the military ones. Seeking a quick resolution, the Confederacy purchased the iron works from Cooper for $400,000 on August 26, 1862.

These pillars, which formerly held a bridge over the Etowah river, are most of what remains of the Etowah Railroad

Due to its status as a Confederate munitions plant and store, the town of Etowah suffered tremendously at the hands of Union troops. Forces under Brigadier General Jeff C. Davis (no relation to the President of the Confederacy) torched much of the town, including all of its various mills. They destroyed the railroad bridge across the Etowah River, as well. With the loss of so much infrastructure,

Etowah was essentially abandoned after the Civil War. Attempts to revive its once-prosperous iron works and mines proved unprofitable. The US Army Corps of Engineers chose Etowah as the location of Allatoona Dam, which, once the dam opened in 1950, flooded most of the ruins as well as the nearby town of Allatoona.

The Rome Railroad

The Memphis Branch Railroad & Steamboat Company was incorporated in 1839, with the goal of constructing a branch from a point on the W&A (later chosen as Kingston) to the city of Rome, where the Etowah River joins the Oostanaula and forms the Coosa River, and beyond, to the Alabama line. The intent of this rail was twofold; first, it would bolster the economy of Rome and Floyd County in general by giving them a link to the rest of the country. Second, it was hoped that constructing a railroad to Rome would foster steamboat traffic to the city by giving them a place to exchange their goods with the Western and Atlantic. The Legislation that created the railroad provided dispensation for the creation of “canals, dams, locks, jets, and all other works that may be required for steam navigation.” Due to the small size of the river, only one steamboat, the diminutive USM Coosa, would operate on the river during antebellum years. No more than six would ever operate the river simultaneously.

This map shows the entire length of the Rome Railroad, from Rome to Kingston, as well as much of the W&A in Bartow County.

Construction of the 18-mile route began in 1848 and was finished in 1849, with its western terminus in Rome and its connection with the W&A at a newly created wye in Kingston. Spurring this rapid progress on the road was its corporate takeover by two individuals: William R. Smith and Alfred Shorter (later of Shorter University fame). These two men revitalized the company, and worked closely to ensure that it was a successful venture. Despite (or perhaps because of) their business acumen, the intended extension of the road from Rome to the Alabama line was never completed. The two businessmen bought only two locomotives to service the Kingston line. Both engines were named for the proprietors of the railroad.

Money brought in by the newly christened Rome Railroad caused a rapid industrialization in the town of Rome. As had happened at so many places across Cass, an ironworks popped up along the banks of the Coosa River. For several years, the Rome-Kingston railroad was the only major artery for shipping out of Rome, though it was eventually joined by the Atlanta North District line, which runs from Cohutta to Atlanta. The influx of goods and money from Floyd County and Rome proved to be a great economic boon to Cass. In 1850, the name of the line was officially changed to the Rome Railroad, though locals of Bartow would come to refer to it as the Rome-Kingston line.

The NC&St.L purchased the Rome-Kingston Line in 1896, shortly after they acquired the lease of the W&A. It proved to be consistently unprofitable for its owners. Despite a campaign launched by the city of Rome to save the railroad, The NC&St.L abandoned it in 1942.

The Civil War     

On April 12, 1862, Union spies led by James Andrews hijacked the locomotive General at a breakfast stop in Big Shanty (now Kennesaw). The raiders ran north in hopes of burning bridges, cutting telegraph wires and disrupting rail traffic on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. This plan’s goal was to buy Union General Ormsby Mitchel time to attack Chattanooga and prevent its confederate garrison from receiving reinforcement. The raiders were quickly discovered, and the original engine crew of the General (consisting of conductor William Fuller, engineer Jeff Cain and foreman Anthony Murphy) gave chase by foot and handcar. As the county with the greatest track distance of the W&A, it is only natural that many of the notable events of the chase

It was at Adairsville station that Fuller commandeered the Texas

occurred in Bartow. The General was side tracked for an hour in Kingston by station agent Uriah Stephens, which gave Fuller ample time to catch up. At Etowah station, Fuller commandeered the Yonah; he would abandon it at Kingston in favor of the William R. Smith, but that, too, had to be abandoned due to sabotaged track. Walking to Adairsville, the conductor commandeered the Texas, which served for the rest of the chase. Fuller, joined by locals at multiple points along his journey, had a party of over 30 men on the Texas by the time the General ran out of steam north of Ringgold. There, the raiders dispersed into the night, though all were soon captured by local confederate forces.

After their capture, eight of Andrews’ twenty-two raiders (including Andrews himself) were executed on espionage charges, while the others escaped or were used in prisoner exchange. Most of Andrews’ raiders would later be awarded the nation’s first Medals of Honor for their actions. The events of the Andrews Raid would later be made into two films: The General, starring Buster Keaton, in 1926, and Disney’s The Great Locomotive Chase, starring Fess Parker, in 1956.

After the Civil War, there was much reconstruction to be done in the rechristened Bartow County. The county was directly in the path of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, and the effects were evident. Two rail depots, one in Cartersville and one in Etowah, were utterly destroyed by the war. The depots at Adairsville, Kingston, and Cassville Station required extensive repairs, which were not finished until 1867. The Union Army had seized control of the W&A and all its spurs from September 1864 to September 1865, causing the loss of an entire year’s worth of revenue. Perhaps the most devastating blow the county suffered was at Cassville, which was burned nearly to the ground. It was not rebuilt, and the county seat, as well as many of the town’s skilled laborers, moved to Cartersville.

The Cartersville and Van Wert Railroad

In the wake of so much destruction, many businessmen saw opportunity. In 1866, the Georgia legislature, under the Radical Republican (“Carpetbagger”) governor Rufus Bullock, chartered the construction of a new line, entitled the Cartersville & Van Wert Railroad. This line was planned to run westward from Cartersville, through a township called Van Wert in Polk County, ultimately terminating at Prior’s Station, GA, on the Alabama state line. The railroad was intended to connect the Western and Atlantic (at Cartersville) with the Selma, Rome, and Dalton Railroad, which ran through Prior’s Station. The route was graded, and construction reached as far as Taylorsville, 14 miles in length. It was at this time, in 1871, that a political scandal in Bullock’s administration forced his resignation. Most of the railroads created under his governorship were reorganized and sold off, among them the C&VW, which was renamed the “Cherokee Railroad”. Former superintendent of the W&A, Edward Hulbert, was appointed as director.

Hulbert was a proponent of the “Narrow gauge”; a 3-foot railway width, as opposed to the 5-foot “Russian gauge” which was prevalent in the South at the time. Like other narrow-gauge advocates, Hulbert opined that that, as the rail would be thinner, so too would the rolling stock using the rails, allowing for drastically reduced costs in construction and maintenance of the rails and railcars. At his urging, the Cherokee Railroad’s construction continued from Taylorsville using the narrow gauge. The first 14 miles of track remained in the broad Gauge. This break in gauge contributed to a bankruptcy of the road in 1873. The railroad went through a succession of owners through the 1870’s, before ending up in the hands of the Cherokee Iron Company (CIC) in 1879. The CIC decided to continue building the

Found in a 1966 issue of Southern Railfan, this illustration depicts how railroad gauges were changed: Crews of men would unbolt one rail, and move it a few inches, as required by the new gauge

railroad, which had stalled at Rockmart for the past decade. Instead of using the original plans and building to Prior’s Station, it was decided to extend the road to Cedartown, where the CIC was headquartered. As well, the CIC converted the Cartersville-Rockmart portion of the

line to narrow gauge in October 1880, and used the station at Cartersville to transfer loads in-between the W&A’s broad gauge and the Cherokee’s narrow gauge. In 1881, the Cherokee Railroad was leased to the East &West Railroad of Alabama (E&WoA) for a period of ninety-nine years. In 1883, the Cherokee was extended to Esom Hill, on th e Georgia/Alabama border, where it was connected to the E&WoA’s existing line. The Cherokee Railroad was then absorbed into the E&WoA. It connected with the Atlanta & Birmingham railway at Pell City, which shortened the journey from Cartersville to Birmingham (and, by extension, the gulf coast at Mobile) by several hundred miles.

Despite the connection, the E&WoA failed to see commercial success. It was sold to a private investor, Charles Ball, on March 16, 1888. Ball converted the line from narrow gauge to the 4’9” inch gauge in 1890. This did not improve the Railroad’s fortunes, and the line was bought under foreclosure by Eugene Kelly on May 29, 1893. He reorganized it as simply the East & West Railroad (E&W), and sold it to the Seabord Air Line (SAL) in 1902. The SAL constructed a new rail line, the Chattahoochee Terminal Railway, from Rockmart directly to Atlanta. As mentioned previously, SAL merged with the ACL in 1967, and the resultant company, SCL, merged with Chessie systems in 1986 to become CSX, which owns the C&VW track to this day.

The Iron Belt Railroad

Chief among the mineral wealth in Bartow’s eastern mountains is a massive deposit of limonite ore, one of the largest in Georgia. As a natural consequence of this fact, several mines have been built in the area. Ore transportation using traditional hauling methods, such as the horse-drawn wagon, was not keeping up with the output of the mines in the late 1800’s. Joseph Brown, now President of the W&A, owned or invested in many of these mines. Using his position, Brown had a rail spur of the W&A extended out from Rogers’ station to the Guyton’s mine, three miles to the east. The presence of this spur greatly increased the rate by which ore was transported from these mountains. Over time, more spurs would be built, and the Rogers-Guyton trunk line was extended as far as Sugar Hill.

The Iron Belt would operate through the turn of the century. Its most common cargo was, naturally, iron ore and mining equipment. As to its passengers, the most frequent were leased convicts from the state prisons, sent to work long hours in the dangerous mining conditions at little to no pay.


The Etowah-Cartersville “New Line”

In 1902, the parent company of the NC&St.L, the L&N, acquired the Atlanta, Knoxville, and Northern (AK&N), which ran from Marietta, GA, to Etowah, TN (Not to be confused with the Etowah village in Bartow County). The AK&N had to navigate several mountains, and was viewed as inefficient by L&N. Intending to bypass the “Old Line”, L&N built a line from Cartersville to its depot at Etowah. This “New Line” (ECNL) would not have to cross over nearly as many mountains as the Marietta route, greatly speeding the route from Atlanta to Cincinnati. The maiden voyage of this track would be undertaken on March 1, 1906, as reported in The Cartersville News and Courant.

The Cartersville end of the line was placed slightly north of the W&A station in downtown Cartersville. This terminus’s location, and the community which would surround it, quickly came be known as “Junta”[2] by Bartow residents, appearing as early as the 1915 Hudgins’ map.

As with most of the railroads throughout Bartow, the ECNL would go through a succession of owners through its years. Built as a line of the L&N, it would, after the merger which created the SCL (outlined in the W&A section), come into the ownership of CSX, who still maintains it today.

Railroad Spurs

A railroad cannot function as a monolith; the main line of the road, in all cases, must be supported by smaller side tracks, which may have a variety of purposes.

Spurs such as this one, captured in the 1910’s, were the primary method by which Bartow county mining companies brought their ores to market

The most common reason to create one of these side tracks – a “spur” – is maintenance. If a locomotive is failing, and is carrying several dozen cars being it, it needs to have a place where it can “pull over” and get out of the way of traffic on the line. Aside from upkeep, spurs are also constructed for economic purposes. They might, for example, be constructed to provide easy access to a factory, a foundry, or a mine. The last of these examples is of particular note to this subject – Bartow County was, for much of its history, rife with mining spurs, branching off of the county’s various rail lines to reach the many mines in the south and east of the county.

As an example, one might examine the spurs which once existed in Emerson. Most prominent among these were those owned by the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company (TCI), a major American steel manufacturer working across the Southeast. TCI’s spur snaked through many of the company’s small operations in the area[3], before linking with the W&A near Emerson station. It is unclear precisely when the TCI removed its tracks, but the better part of them likely left along with most of the iron industry of the county, around the end of the 1920’s.

As mentioned, mining spurs were not the only side tracks in Bartow County. Aside from the aforementioned maintenance tracks, which are lo0cated across the county, two specific spurs come to mind. First is the CSX Bypass, built between Cartersville and Stilesboro by CSX to help supply Georgia Power plant Bowen with coal. Second is the old Rowland spur, built north from Etowah station to support both the Dobbins mine, and to help ferry guests to the old, now-defunct Rowland Springs resort.

Proposed Railroads of Bartow County

Since its founding, no less than six railroads were completed in Bartow County. For every one of these, at least two more were successfully approved by the state assembly, yet failed to get off the ground. The reasons for these failures are numerous, but they largely boil down to either a lack of investors or the proposed route of the rail line being overly lengthy or through impassible terrain. It has also been pointed out that several of these railroads might never have been intended to get off the ground in the first place, and served simply as means for their founders to relieve overenthusiastic investors of their income. The lion’s share of these failed extensions date from the 1880‘s.

The first of these failed projects, and the only antebellum one, was the Alabama and Georgia Railroad Company (A&G). In 1850 the Assembly authorized the A&G to extend their line from a proposed terminus on the Georgia-Alabama border through to Cartersville.  The A&G, which had been incorporated in Alabama in 1849, had yet to begin building from its intended terminus in Jacksonville by the time it was approved in Georgia. According to the bill, the A&G had ten years to finish this proposed extension. This time was exhausted without success.

Three railroads were proposed during the 1870’s. The first of these was the Atlanta and Blue Ridge Railroad Company (A&BR), incorporated in 1870. Notably, both Governor Brown and Mark Cooper had stakes in this railroad, which was to run from Cartersville to the North Carolina state line in Rabun County. Presumably due to the prevalence of mountains in the land prescribed for this route, the line never saw the light of day.

The Lookout Mountain Railroad Company was formed in 1870 as well. Despite its name, the line was not intended to run north toward Tennessee, but westwards, to the mines of Chattooga County, from the junction at Kingston. It is unknown precisely why this railroad failed, though it may have something to do with the fact that Kingston already had a functioning west-bound route in the Rome Railroad.

Incorporated in 1872 by 38 investors, 23 of whom were from Bartow County, the North Georgia and Ducktown Railroad was intended to run from Cartersville in a northeasterly direction, to the Tennessee border. As its name suggests, the route was meant to reach Ducktown, Tennessee, which – at the time – was the site of a bustling copper industry. The name of the railroad was changed to the “Iron Valley Railroad” in 1875, though no work had yet been done. For that matter, no work would ever be done on this railroad, as it entirely disappears from the record following that name change. What, precisely, caused the failure is unknown, but it is likely that (once again) the presence of mountains in the path of the road prevented any progress.

On September 30, 1881, the Georgia Legislature incorporated the Etowah and Blue Ridge Railroad (E&BR), intended to run from Cartersville to Gainesville. Gainesville was, at the time, home to a station on the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad (ETV&G) a line running through much of the east coast. This made a link to Gainesville highly desirable to the people of Bartow. That being said, there was one severe impediment to any attempt at building a railway between the two cities, an impediment referenced in the E&BR’s name: mountains. Building a railroad through a mountain range is a tricky task; tunnels are expensive and time-consuming to build, and constructing switchbacks and spirals to go around mountains increases track length and danger dramatically.  Predictably, the E&BR never materialized.

It was merely the first of seven “Gainesville Routes” to be proposed over the course of the 1880’s. Shortly after the E&BR’s incorporation, a second route, the Kingston, Walesca, and Gainesville Railroad (KW&G), was approved by the Georgia Legislature. As its name suggests, it was to run from Kingston, to Walesca*, to Gainesville, with a stop in Canton along the way.  In 1885, another road, the Gainesville and Western (G&W), was chartered to run westwards from Gainesville, “crossing the Western and Atlantic,” the most likely point for the crossing being in Bartow. On December 20, 1886, The Rome and Northeast Railroad (R&N) was incorporated with a charter to run from Rome to Gainesville through Bartow County. Four days later, on December 24, 1886, two separate railroads were chartered to lay track from Bartow County to Gainesville. First, the Rome and Decatur’s (R&D, Inc. 1883) charter was amended to extend its line – whose track was only just being laid – from Rome to Gainesville via Bartow. Second, the Cartersville and Gainesville Airline (C&G) was incorporated to lay track from Cartersville to Gainesville. The last of the Gainesville routes, the Fort Payne and Eastern, was incorporated 1889, to run from Gainesville to the Alabama line, passing through Bartow. Not a single one of these railroads ever materialized.

There was a third railroad incorporated for Bartow County on Christmas Eve, 1886: The Salt Springs North and South Railroad (SSN&S). It was intended to run from either Cartersville or Marietta down to Salt Springs in Douglas County (now known as Lithia Springs). There, it was to connect with the Georgia Pacific Railway (GPR). Upon the railway’s completion, it was to be given the option of extending its line several hundred miles northeastward, all the way to the Tennessee border in Fannin, Union, or Towns Counties. As Cartersville and Marietta both had functioning southwest routes at the time, it should come as little surprise that the SSN&S was never built.

Two decades before the Etowah New Line was constructed, Bartow county investors incorporated a rail line that was to run along a very similar route. This line, the Cartersville, Marysville, and Knoxville Airline (CM&K) was approved by the State Assembly in 1887. Similar to the ECNL, it was intended to run from Cartersville, through Gordon, Murray, and Fannin Counties, up to the Tennessee border, where it would – presumably – have continued on to Marysville and Knoxville. Unlike the ECNL, this railroad was never constructed. Two years later, the Legislature chartered Fairmount Valley Railroad (FMV) with an identical route. It suffered an identical fate.

By act of the State Assembly, the Union Railroad and Transfer Company (UR&T) was incorporated September 2, 1889, with the power to create a small line connecting the R&D and the R-K within the city limits of Rome. As well, contingent upon the line’s completion, the Assembly authorized the UR&T to extend its line to the North Carolina border, passing through Bartow County. For whatever reason, the investors of this rail line failed to fund the miniscule length of the initial proposed track, and it was never constructed.

Finally – and most uniquely – on November 11, 1889, the Georgia State Assembly passed the charter of the Cartersville Street Railroad (CSRR). Streetcars were, at the time, in vogue throughout America and Europe. Atlanta’s first streetcar (horse-drawn, which was common at the time) was installed in 1871. Other, steam-powered ones would pop up not too long afterwards. The proposed CSRR had a dealers’ choice in its method of locomotion – with its charter stating that it may “operate, by horse power, steam power, electricity, or such other power as may be suitable for its purpose, a street railroad in the city of Cartersville.” The route, too, was not set in stone, with the act merely stating that the railroad should run “upon such streets, ways or routes as the Mayor and Council of [Cartersville] may consent to.”  There is no official statement of why the CSRR failed. That being said, it is likely that the small size of Cartersville rendered such a venture economically untenable.

Railroad Car Manufacturing

Bartow County was slowly recovering from the Civil War in the 1870’s. Helping to remedy this issue, many new businesses were founded during the time period, though not many lasted much longer than a few decades. One such business was the Cartersville Car Factory (CCF). Hoping to take advantage of the city’s location on the W&A – and abundant local resources of iron and lumber – one E. N. Gower founded the factory, a railroad car manufactory, in 1871. From the deed records, the business occupied four blocks of downtown Cartersville. It was bounded on the north and south by Church and Main streets, and on the east and west by Tennessee Street and the W&A. The newspapers also feature testimonials from various local figures, including Governor (and, as discussed above, railroad magnate) Joseph Brown.

The services provided by the Cartersville Car Company were many and varied. Advertisements found in archived newspapers of Cartersville detail the various types of rolling stock the company produced: passenger cars, boxcars, and flatcars were all available; woodwork was done in pine, walnut, oak, ash, and poplar; and various decorations, such as sashes, blinds, doors, moldings, brackets, etc. were available on a to-order basis. These services were made possible through a variety of skilled laborers working at the plant – up to 400 people may have been employed at the factory at one time. The equipment used by the company was first-rate for its time: a 30 horse power boiler, a gigantic 40-foot Daniel wood planer, and various other tools such as machine saws and molding machines. As well, the CCF purchased the Bolivar Schofield foundry, which, being located nearby to the plant, was an excellent source of the iron castings necessary for car manufacturing. With such resources, the CCF was capable of producing up to 25 cars per week.

The business proved successful enough to attract competition. In 1880, the Georgia Car Company (GCC) was founded. Its location was just a bit south of the CCF,  along the east side of the W&A, between Leake Street and West Avenue (near the current Daily Tribune News). The GCC, like the CCF, would build several workshops to support its endeavors: an erecting building, a paint building, a working building, a machine shop, a blacksmith shop, and several office buildings would all be part of the property, along with a massive dry kiln, built for the cost of $3,000. The GCC was a bit smaller than the CCF, and only employed about 200 people at its peak.

This golden age of railroad car manufacturing in Bartow did not last very long. By 1881, the CCF was advertising in the paper for potential buyers. It is unknown precisely who bought it, but the CCF was closed by 1883. William Noble, president of the GCC, was also looking to get out of the business, and sold the property in November 1883.


Since the Western and Atlantic first came to Bartow in 1843, the fortunes of the county have been reliant upon the railroad. Thanks to its early adoption of the technology, Bartow had a head start in adapting to the changing times of the Industrial Revolution. The ability to directly reach the markets of Atlanta, Chattanooga, and beyond proved an invaluable asset to the economy of the county, chiefly in giving the people an easily-accessible outlet for their iron, lumber, and agricultural products. Such an outlet provided further benefits to the county, especially by attracting yet more railroads to the area, further increasing Bartow County’s prosperity. Over time, though some of these railroads would fail and stop service, those that remain continue to serve as the lynchpin of the Bartow county economy.

From the same report, this table shows the earnings at each station in Bartow for the same year. This is a concrete indicator of just how much the citizens of Bartow County relied on the Railroad to support their way of life. Of particular note is the precipitous drop-off in revenue between April and May 1861. The Civil War began in April 1861; it is likely that the recruitment of the men of Bartow County into the Confederate Military is the cause of the loss in revenue. This serves as a clear indicator of the immediate effects of the Civil War on Bartow County and its economy.
It is believed that the numbers include both shipping and passenger fees, but the Superintendent’s report did not specify.



Historic Railroads of Bartow County

  • Western and Atlantic Railroad

    Cass Station. The city of Cassville relied heavily upon this stop about two miles to its southwest

    • W&A
    • Incorporated 1836*
    • Owned by the State of Georgia
    • Leased by:
      • Joseph Brown from 1870-1890
      • Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railroad (NC&St.L) from 1890-1957
      • Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) from 1957-1967
      • Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) from 1967-1980
      • CSX from 1980-Present
    • AKA:
      • The State Road
      • NC&St.L
      • L&N
    • Runs 138 miles from Atlanta to Chattanooga
      • Allatoona station, with its famed pass in the background

        Approximately 47 miles of track in Bartow County

    • Stops in Bartow, South-North:
        • Hugo
        • Allatoona
        • Bartow
        • Emerson
        • Mile Post 43
        • Etowah
        • Cartersville


      • Junta
      • ATCO
      • Rogers
      • Cass Station

    W&A RR ticket (scrip)

    • Bests
    • Cave
    • Kingston
    • Halls
    • Linwood
    • Clifford
    • Adairsville
  • Etowah Railroad
    • ERR
    • Incorporated 1847
    • Owned by:
      • Mark A. Cooper 1847-1862
      • Confederate States of America, 1862-64

        The McGuire family residence, for which the infamous McGuire’s curve was named.

      • United States Army 1864-66
    • Ran 4 miles from Etowah Station, south of Cartersville, to the town of Etowah
      • Entirely in Bartow County
    • Stops, West-East:
      • Etowah Station
      • Etowah Township
    • Rome Railroad
      • R-K
      • Incorporated 1839
      • Owned by:
        • Memphis Branch Railroad & Steamboat Co. 1839-1850
        • Rome Railroad Co. (Successor of above) 1850-1894
        • NC&St.L – 1894-1943
      • AKA:
        • Rome-Kingston Railroad
        • Memphis Branch Railroad
      • Ran 18 miles from Kingston to Rome

        The Kingston Station on the W&A. Its destruction by fire in 1911 was one of the final nails in the coffin of the Rome Railroad.
        Courtesy: Victor mulinix

      • Stops in Bartow, East-West:
        • Kingston
        • Woolley’s
        • Eve’s
      • Cartersville and Van Wert Railroad
        • C&VW
        • Incorporated 1866
        • Owned by:
          • Cherokee Railroad Co. 1871-1873
          • Cherokee Iron Company 1879-1888
          • Charles Ball 1888-1893
          • Eugene Kelly 1893-1902
          • Seaboard Air Line 1902-1967
          • Seaboard Coast Line 1967-1986
          • CSX (Successor to above) 1986-Present
        • Leased by:
          • East and West Railroad of Alabama 1881-1888
        • AKA:
          • Cherokee Railroad
          • East-West Railroad
          • East and West Railroad of Alabama
          • Seaboard Air Line
        • Ran from Cartersville Station to:
          • Taylorsville 1870-1871
          • Rockmart 1871-1879
          • Cedartown 1879-1883
          • Pell City, Alabama 1883-Present
        • Stops in Bartow County, East-West:
          • Cartersville
          • Stilesboro
          • Taylorsville
        • Iron Belt Railroad[4]
          • IB
          • Incorporated 1897
          • Owned by
            • Joseph E. Brown
            • John W. Akin
          • Ran from Rogers’ station, northeast of Cartersville, to Sugar Hill at its farthest extent
            • Entirely in Bartow County
          • Stops, South-North:
            • Rogers’ Station
            • Note: this railroad was dedicated to servicing the mines of the county. As such, its track and its stops would change substantially year by year to reach new ore deposits and to abandon depleted ones. Many of these changes are undocumented.
          • Etowah-Cartersville “New Line” Railroad
            • ECNL
            • Incorporated 1904
            • Owned by:
              • L&N 1906-1980
              • CSX 1980-Present
            • Runs from Junta, in the north of Cartersville, to Etowah, Tennessee
            • Stops in Bartow County, South-North:
              • Junta
              • Rydal

Proposed Railroads of Bartow County

These railroad initiatives were, for one reason or another, never brought to fruition. Records of them are still extant in the state legislative archives.

  • Alabama and Georgia Railroad
    • A&G
    • Incorporated February 2, 1850
    • Intended to run from an indeterminate point on the Alabama border to Cartersville
  • Atlanta and Blue Ridge Railroad
    • A&BR
    • Incorporated October 17, 1870
    • Intended to run “from Cartersville to such point as they may select on the Carolina line, and within the county of Rabun.”
  • Lookout Mountain Railroad
    • LMRR
    • Incorporated October 24, 1870
    • Intended to run westwards from Kingston to Dirt Town, Georgia, in Chattooga County
    • Despite the name, it would not go anywhere near Lookout Mountain
  • North Georgia and Ducktown Railroad
    • NG&D
    • Incorporated March 4, 1872
    • AKA: Iron Valley Railroad
    • Intended to run Northeast from Cartersville, to the Tennessee state line, near to the city of Ducktown, Tennessee
  • Etowah and Blue Ridge Railroad
    • E&BR
    • Incorporated September 30, 1880
    • Intended to run from Cartersville to Gainesville
  • Kingston, Walesca, and Gainesville Railroad[5]
    • KW&G
    • Incorporated September 30, 1881
    • Intended to run eastwards from Kingston, through Walesca and Canton, finally terminating at Gainesville, later given extension to unspecified point on the Savannah River.
    • Rome and Decatur Railroad 
      • R&D
      • Incorporated July 30, 1883
      • Intended to run from Rome to the Alabama line
      • In 1886, given extension to Gainesville, passing through Bartow county
    • Gainesville and Western Railroad
      • G&W
      • Incorporated October 13, 1885
      • Intended to run from Gainesville to Cartersville
    • Rome and Northeast Railroad
      • R&NE
      • Incorporated December 20, 1886
      • Intended to run from Rome to Gainesville, passing through Bartow
    • Cartersville and Gainesville Airline
      • C&G
      • Incorporated December 24, 1886
      • Intended to run from Cartersville to Gainesville
        • Later given extension to Augusta
      • Salt Springs North and South Railroad
        • SSN&S
        • Incorporated December 24, 1886
        • Intended to run from Cartersville to Salt Springs (now Austell)
      • Cartersville, Marysville, and Knoxville Airline
        • CM&K
        • Incorporated September 29, 1887
        • Intended to run northeast from Cartersville, through Gordon, Murray, and Fannin counties, to the Tennessee border
      • Fort Payne and Eastern Railroad
        • FP&E
        • Incorporated August 8, 1889
        • Intended to run from Gainesville to the Alabama line, passing through Bartow
      • Union Railroad and Transfer Company
        • UR&T
        • Incorporated September 2, 1889
        • Known Bartow County Investors:
        • Intended to run from Rome to the North Carolina line, passing through Bartow County
      • Fairmount Valley Railroad
        • FMV
        • Incorporated November 3, 1889
        • Intended to run northeast from Cartersville, through Gordon, Murray, and Fannin counties, to the Tennessee border
      • Cartersville Street Railroad
        • CSR
        • Incorporated November 11, 1889
        • Intended to run “upon such streets, ways or routes as the Mayor and Council of [Cartersville] may consent to.”



Cunyus, Lucy. 1932. History of Bartow County, Georgia Formerly Cass. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press

Denney, Kevin S. “Etowah: Boomtown, Ghostown, and Sunken Treasure,” Etowah Valley Historical Society collection (1993)

Hilton, George W. 1991. American Narrow Gauge Railroads. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press.

Johnston, James Houstoun. 1932. Western and Atlantic Railroad of the state of Georgia. Atlanta: Stein Print. Co., State Printers

Online Print

Kesler, Thomas L. Geology and Mineral Deposits of the Cartersville District Georgia. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1950

“The Days They Changed the Gauge” Ties, August, 1966. (Accessed December 10, 2017)

Thomas, Henry W. Digest of the Railroad Laws of Georgia. Atlanta: Franklin Printing and Publishing Company, 1895. Accessed December 15, 2017. Google Books.

Vipperman, Carl J. “The ‘Particular Mission’ of Wilson Lumpkin.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 66, no. 3 (1982): 295-316. (Accessed November 19, 2017)


Georgia, Bartow County. Deed books. XXX Year – XXX Year. Bartow County Deeds office, City of Cartersville.

Government Documents

Georgia, Bartow County. Charter Book of Businesses. 1898-1906. Etowah Valley Historical Society, City of Cartersville.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. AMENDING CHARTER OF ROME AND DECATUR RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 86. 1886-1887 Reg. Sess. (December 24, 1886). GALILEO. Web. 12 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. AN ACT to authorize the Alabama and Georgia Railroad Company of the State of Alabama to extend their contemplated Railroad…. No. 290. 1849- 1840 Reg. Sess. (February 23, 1850). GALILEO. Web. 12 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. An Act to incorporate the Atlanta & Blue Ridge Railroad Company, granting State aid to the same, and for other purposes therein named. No. 193. 1870-1871 Reg. Sess. (October 17, 1870). GALILEO. Web. 13 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. An Act to incorporate the Lookout Mountain Railroad Company, and to extend the aid of the State to the same, and for other purposes. No. 217. 1870-1871 Reg. Sess. (October 24, 1870). GALILEO. Web. 13 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. An act to incorporate the North Georgia & Ducktown Railroad Company, and for other purposes. No. 238. 1872 Reg. Sess. (August 27, 1872). GALILEO. Web. 11 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. ETOWAH AND BLUE RIDGE RAILROAD INCORPORATED. No. 475. 1881 Reg. Sess. (September 30, 1881). GALILEO. Web. 13 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE CARTERSVILLE AND GAINESVILLE AIRLINE RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 99. 1886-1887 Reg. Sess. (December 24, 1886). GALILEO. Web. 12 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly.  INCORPORATING THE CARTERSVILLE, MARYSVILLE AND KNOXVILLE AIR-LINE RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 238. 1887 Reg. Sess. (September 29, 1887). GALILEO. Web. 11 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE CARTERSVILLE STREET RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 829. 1889-1890 Reg. Sess. (November 13, 1889). GALILEO. Web. 15 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE FAIRMOUNT VALLEY RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 534. 1889-1890 Reg. Sess. (November 4, 1889). GALILEO. Web. 13 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE FORT PAYNE AND EASTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 191. 1889 Reg. Sess. (August 8, 1889). GALILEO. Web. 13 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE GAINESVILLE AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 362. 1885 Reg. Sess. (October 13, 1885). GALILEO. Web. 12 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE ROME AND NORTHEAST RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 31. 1887-1888 Reg. Sess. (December 20, 1886). GALILEO. Web. 15 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE SALT SPRINGS, NORTH AND SOUTH RAILROAD COMPANY. No. 68. 1886-1867 Reg. Sess. (December 24, 1886). GALILEO. Web. 12 December 2017. 

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. INCORPORATING THE UNION RAILROAD AND TRANSFER COMPANY. No. 240. 1889 Reg. Sess. (September 2, 1889). GALILEO. Web. 12 December 2017.

Georgia (State). Legislature. Assembly. KINGSTON, WALESCA AND GAINESVILLE RAILROAD INCORPORATED. No. 460. 1881 Reg. Sess. (September 30, 1881). GALILEO. Web. 11 December 2017.


Brooke, John. 2017. Interview by Giovanni Martino. Etowah Valley Historical Society

Garland, Michael. 2017. Interview by Giovanni Martino. Etowah Valley Historical Society

France, Todd.2018. Manager of Signal CSX Atlanta Division Cartersville

Mulinix, Victor. 2017. Interview by Giovanni Martino. Etowah Valley Historical Society

Posey, Larry. 2017. Interview by Giovanni Martino. Etowah Valley Historical Society


Cooper, J. F, Western and Atlantic Railroad Company, and F. C Arms. Map of the country embracing the various routes surveyed for the Western & Atlantic Rail Road of Georgia, under the direction of Lieut. Col. S. H. Long, Chief Engineer, U.S. Topographical Bureau M. H. Stansbury, Del. [map]. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed November 20, 2017.)

Tennessee Iron and Coal Railroad Company. [Mining Operations, Bartow Georgia]1916.

U.S. Geological Survey. Acworth Quadrangle, Georgia [map]. 1:24,000. 7.5 Minute Series. Washington, D.C.: USGS, 1971.

U.S. Geological Survey. Allatoona Dam Quadrangle, Georgia [map]. 1:24,000. 7.5 Minute Series. Washington, D.C.: USGS, 1971.

U.S. Geological Survey. Cartersville Quadrangle, Georgia [map]. 1:24,000. 7.5 Minute Series. Washington, D.C.: USGS, 1971.

U.S. Geological Survey. Kingston Quadrangle, Georgia [map]. 1:24,000. 7.5 Minute Series. Washington, D.C.: USGS, 1971.

U.S. Geological Survey. Cartersville Sheet, Georgia [map]. 1:125,000. Series unknown. Washington, D.C.: USGS, 1939.

Newspaper Articles

“A Great Peach Crop.” The Cartersville News and Courant, August 11, 1904.

“Copy of Rail Removal Plea Reaches Rome.” The Tribune News, November 26, 1942.

“Dirt Broken on A., K. &N. Extension.” The Cartersville News and Courant, October 27 1904.

“Examiner Recommends Abandonment of Railroad.” The Tribune News, March 4, 1943.

“Fifteen Carloads Scrap Metal from Etowah Bridge.” The Tribune News, February 15, 1945.

“Million-Dollar Railroad Bridge Over Etowah River Opened to Traffic Late Tuesday Afternoon.” The Tribune News., November 7, 1944.

“Road is Paralleled.” The Cartersville News and Courant, November 24, 1902.

“Some Facts about Starting a Railroad.” The Cartersville News and Courant, November 3, 1904.

“The State Road and Gen. Gordon.” The Cartersville American, June 1, 1886

‘The W.&A. Railroad: Some Inside Facts Relating to its Financial Management.” The Chattanooga Times, July 6, 1890.

“Who Owns Land Formerly Used by Rome Railroad.” The Tribune News, November 11, 1943.


Bright, David L. “Western & Atlantic”. (Accessed February 1, 2018)

Head, Joe F. “Cartersville’s Railroad Car Manufacturing Age.” (Accessed January 12, 2018)

Lusk, Staci. “Bartow’s Mining Legacy,” (Accessed Januard 23, 2018)

Sorey, Steve. “Georgia’s Railroad History and Heritage,” (Accessed January 20, 2018)

US Army Corps of Engineers. “Allatoona Lake.” USACE Mobile District, US Army Corps of Engineers, (Accessed February 9, 2018).

[1] This was the first railroad tunnel in the Southern United States

[2] While the origin of the name “Junta” is not certain, it is worth noting that, in Spanish, the word “Junta” carries a similar meaning to the words “meeting” and “joining” in English.

[3] Much of the area formerly occupied by TCI is now covered by Lakepoint Sports Park.

[4] The name of the railroad as shown here – “Iron Belt” – is how one may find it in the Bartow County Charter Book of Businesses. “Ironbelt” is also a common usage.

[5]  The name of the modern town of Waleska is indeed spelled with a “k” at the end of the word. However, at the time of this railroad’s proposition, it was spelled with a “c”. “Walesca” is the name the town was incorporated under in 1889.

Preston Rudolph “Rudy” York – Terry W. Sloope

Early in his career on the baseball diamond he was a man without a position.  Luckily for him, the power emanating from his bat allowed him to hang around the major leagues long enough to settle into the only position he could play reasonably well.  He came from Native American – or, in the common language of the day, “Indian” – ancestry, although that heritage was always more important to the press than it was to him.  In August 1937 he broke a home run record set by the immortal Babe Ruth.  He had a habit of falling asleep with burning cigarettes in his hand, setting many a hotel room on fire (or so they say).  Finally, he had a fondness for alcohol that ultimately contributed to an early departure from the major league scene.  Thus summarizes what most fans and historians of the game know about Rudy York.

The fact is, however, Rudy York had a solid major league career.  From 1937 through 1947, no one in the major leagues had more home runs, runs-batted-in or total bases than Rudy York, albeit because Rudy was one of the few stars who managed to avoid military service during the war.   He had little formal education and grew up in the small mill towns of rural northwest Georgia where so many young people were naturally drawn into the same blue-collar existence as their parents, working in the mills for meager wages.  Rudy’s baseball skills allowed him to rise above the mill and enjoy, at least for a few years, widespread public recognition and financial comfort.  The recognition and, certainly, the financial comfort diminished considerably after Rudy’s baseball career was over.  A close observer of his career can’t help but come to conclusion that, while he had a fine stay in “the show,” he could have accomplished more.

Early Childhood

Preston Rudolph York[i] was born in Ragland, Alabama on August 17, 1913.  He was the third of five surviving children of Arthur and Beulah (Locklear) York.  Family history states that Beulah’s grandmother on her mother’s side, Elizabeth (Meddows) Barrett, was a full-blooded Cherokee.  Although he was born in Alabama, his parents and their respective families had deep roots in the rural communities of northwest Georgia.  The family moved to Ragland just prior to Rudy’s birth and returned to Georgia while Rudy was still quite young.  Unfortunately, Arthur, who at various times was described as a farm laborer and/or carpenter, was an unreliable husband and father who often wandered in and out of the family structure.

The address on Arthur’s World War I draft registration card indicates he was back in the Aragon, Georgia area by 1917.  He entered the Army in the fall of 1917 and was discharged five months later.  Beulah and the four children were living at a different address in Aragon by the time of the 1920 census (the fifth child, Lavis, would not be born until later); Arthur is not listed with the family in the census and a notation identifies Beulah as the head of the household[ii].  Beulah was supporting her family with a job as a spinner in the Aragon mill.  According to the census records, Beulah’s mother, Nannie, lived next door.   The birth of Rudy’s youngest sibling, Lavis[iii], in 1921 is one of the few pieces of evidence that Arthur was maintaining any contact with the family at all.  Years later, Rudy told Furman Bisher that his father had deserted the family completely by the time he was a teenager.  Court records indicate there was a divorce that was apparently finalized in 1927.

Anecdotal evidence suggests Rudy developed a liking for baseball at a young age.  According to Rudy’s son, Joe, “…when daddy was growing up, he had an aunt who could sew a cover on a ball, so they took socks and unwove them – wool socks – wrapped them around a little hard ball, and she was able to sew that.  How well it was, I don’t know.  That was his first experience with a baseball…. They didn’t have bats.   They used broomsticks.  They just didn’t have the equipment.”


In 1903, the American Textile Company built a factory on the western outskirts of Cartersville, Georgia.   In order to attract a stable base of employees, the company also established a village around the factory.  The village, known as Atco, was owned and operated by the company and eventually included several hundred modest houses which were rented to the employees, as well as a grocery store, a church, a schoolhouse, a laundry, a community center and swimming pool, and its own power plant.   The factory processed cotton into thread and other products for a number of different textile applications.

Beulah York moved her family to the Atco community in the late 1920s.  Census records from 1930 indicate the family was living in the village by that time; Rudy’ older brother Buddy and Buddy’s wife, Ruby, worked in the factory while Beulah helped to make ends meet by taking in several boarders.  Atco, like most other mill villages of the time, had its own baseball club that played against mill teams in other nearby towns including Cedartown, Rockmart and Rome, Georgia.  As in most mill towns, baseball was a popular source of entertainment.  “We’re talking about a time before TV….Not too many people had automobiles out there….So, most everything – most everybody’s life – was right there in Atco….a baseball game was a big deal.”[v]

Rudy’s road to professional baseball began in Atco.  Rudy worked in the factory as a “doffer,” but Joe York later commented “I was told they pretty much hired Daddy not just as a mill worker but as a ball player.”[vi]  The earliest documented evidence of Rudy playing for Atco is found in the Rome News-Tribune on April 23, 1929, when his name appeared in the box score for a game in Atco the previous day against a team from Shannon, Georgia.  Rudy played shortstop and batted ninth, going 0 for 3.  Earlier newspaper accounts from both Rome and Cartersville, going back to 1925, make no mention of Rudy.  The Goodyear Rubber Company purchased the Atco[vii] plant in June of 1929, and the baseball team played a schedule of “league” games against other Goodyear plants in the nearby towns of Rockmart and Cedartown, and Gadsden, Alabama, in addition to its non-league schedule against other traditional rivals Rome area. By 1930 he was a blossoming star amongst the other players.    In April 1930, the Bartow Tribune-News noted “…York is a sensational shortstop and a clever hitter…”[viii] and, in October of that year, “…Rudy has proved to the public that he loves the game called baseball.  He is a good hitter and fielder and has more home runs to his credit than any other player in the Goodyear loop.”[ix]

In 1931, Atco, along with many of its traditional rivals including the Goodyear teams from Cedartown and Rockmart, entered into a more formal league structure when they created the Northwest Georgia Textile League.  Rudy continued to prove his superior skills against older players, as noted in the Tribune-News:  “York’s batting average is well up with the best of the heavy hitters in the league.  He manages to hit nice long ones in practically every game…”[x] and, at midseason, York’s record is outstanding.  Out of forty-eight times at bat, he hit six singles, eleven doubles, two triples and six home runs.  His average is .520.”[xi]  He finished the season as the league’s home run champion and as a married man.  He and Violet Dupree, an Atco girl, married on June 30, 1931[xii].

Rudy continued to showcase his talents in 1932, although by that time he had been shifted to centerfield.  Rudy was inexplicably absent from the Atco lineup for a several games in late June and early July of that year.  A number of stories published in later years claimed Rudy had a tryout with a club[xiii] in Organized Ball sometime before 1933, but it is not clear that this is why he was absent from Atco’s lineup during this time.  Rudy ultimately led the Supertwisters to an outstanding second-half record, however, and they defeated the Goodyear team from Cedartown in the playoffs for that season’s championship.  By season’s end, Rudy and Violet also had welcomed their first child, Mary Jane, into the world.

ATCO Supertwisters, York standing second from right with glove on shoulder of teammate.

1933: Have Bat, Will Travel
1933 was a watershed year for Rudy.  He moved to third base for the Atco nine, and the Tribune-News continued to comment on his emerging skills.  While noting Rudy was erratic at times and “…easily excitable at the crucial moments…”[xiv]  Tribune-News Sports Editor Horace Crowe wrote of Rudy:

“… (he) seems to be headed for another great year….(he) is still quite a young man and should he continue to improve as he has in the past performances, he should go up in the game.  At present though he has room for improvement, not having the proper hold of himself that the veteran ballplayer must have.”[xv]

After two weekends of league play, Rudy’s name disappeared from the Atco box scores and the Tribune-News announced he had received a tryout with the Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association.  As Rudy left to join the Smokies, Crowe wrote “…York has been clouting the apple well over .500…and has been playing a great game at third base.  He is noted all over the Textile league for his wonderful throwing arm.”[xvi]

Professional Debut

The Knoxville club got off to a horrendous start in 1933.  Having suffered through a 1-7 home stand at the end of April and with an overall record of 4-13, Smokies owner Bob Allen had already begun making wholesale roster changes in an effort to put a respectable club on the field.  The Knoxville Journal sports writer Bob Murphy noted on May 1 that Rudy – a “young kid” – was slated to replace Frank Waddey in left field until more help could be found.  Murphy apparently held out little hope that Rudy would make good, commenting that he “…won’t get far.”[xvii]

Rudy made his debut in Organized Baseball that day in Memphis, playing left field and going 1 for 4 with a single in an 11-1 loss to the Chicks.  His hometown was proud; the Tribune-News on May 4 spread the word of Rudy’s debut

“Many hearts in ATCO were made glad last Monday morning when it was announced that Rudolph York, erstwhile and deserving ATCO boy, was placed in left field on the Knoxville Southern League team to play that position until further notice.  York was called in by Knoxville some three weeks ago and evidently he is making the grade, as his ‘tryout’ contract has expired and he is still with them.”[xviii]

Unfortunately, what the paper’s editors didn’t know as they went to press that morning was that Rudy’s tenure with Knoxville was already over.  He played his last game for the Smokies the previous night; Knoxville dropped all three games of the series to the league leading Chicks while Rudy went just 1 for 10 in the three games.  Rudy was released and he returned to Atco’s lineup in mid-May, settling in at first base upon his return.  By late May he disappeared again, having joined the LaGrange Troopers of the Georgia State League, an independent league unaffiliated with Organized Baseball.  Just a few short days after he joined the team, the franchise was shifted to Albany, Georgia and re-dubbed the “Indians”.  Rudy was installed as the regular third baseman after an injury to another player.  In 1991, Marshall Johnson, who played and roomed with Rudy in Albany, remembered Rudy’s ability to hit the long ball:

“…  (On)  June 17, we played in Barnesville.  As we entered the ballpark we were all amazed at the distance of the 10 foot high centerfield fence from home plate.  We laughed and joked about it and agreed that nobody could hit a baseball over that fence 500 feet away.   Needless to say, Rudy York did hit a home run over that fence.  It was the farthest hit ball I have ever seen.”[xix]

Mr. Johnson also noted that Rudy made an appearance as a relief pitcher in that same game against Barnesville.  He went on to describe Rudy as

“…loud and boisterous, and (he) spoke poor English, due no doubt to his poor education…. But Rudy York had a heart of gold.  He was kind and considerate and he had an outgoing, warm personality.  On the ball diamond he was talking all the time, giving encouragement to his fellow players, and keeping moral (sic) high.”[xx]

Rudy, who was erroneously described by the Albany paper as an “ex-college star” on the eve of the Indians’ debut in Albany, provided the desired firepower at the plate but his fielding at third base was less than stellar.  He played with Albany for a little over three weeks; Rudy and two other teammates abruptly left the team on June 24 while in Macon.  It is not clear why Rudy and the others abandoned the Indians.  It is possible there were financial issues; the Indians were taken over by the league in July when the Albany owners could no longer shoulder the financial burden of operating the team.  There was some conjecture that Rudy and his teammates intended to sign with another team in the league, but the league president quickly forbid that possibility.  Evidently, Rudy gave no prior hint of his intentions to leave the Indians, and he soon returned to familiar grounds.

Rudy was back in the Atco lineup on Sunday, June 25 but once again he would not stay long.  Detroit scout Eddie Goosetree had been on Rudy’s trail since early that spring; he had shown up in Atco in May with the intention of signing Rudy for the Detroit Tigers only to discover Rudy was already in Knoxville.  Goosetree had a chance to observe teams in the Georgia State League during Rudy’s time with Albany; maybe Rudy left the Indians knowing that Goosetree was likely to offer him an opportunity to sign with the Tigers.  Whatever the chain of events, the Tiger scout finally got his man the first week of July.  Rudy was signed and sent to the Shreveport Sports of the Class C Dixie League.  Oddly enough, when announcing the signing, The Sporting News described Rudy as a “pitcher-fielder.”[xxi]  Only two instances could be found of Rudy ever taking the mound prior to his signing by the Tigers.  He made one relief appearance with Atco in 1931, and the other was the relief appearance in June 1933 while with Albany.  In both cases, he was inserted in a “mop-up” role and was not effective.

Rudy played twelve games at second base for the Shreveport Sports before being removed from the roster on July 27, apparently because of defensive weaknesses.  Official records credit him with a batting average of .354 and his first professional home run.  Oddly, an examination of multiple box scores and game accounts for each of his twelve games does not reveal any mention of that home run.

Upon leaving Shreveport, Rudy reported to the Beaumont Exporters of the Class A Texas League.  On July 31, his first day with the club,  Rudy[xxii] was inserted at catcher with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when Beaumont’s regular catcher, George Susce, suffered a broken collarbone in a collision at home plate.  This appearance is the earliest documented occurrence of Rudy playing behind the plate.  Overall, Rudy received little playing time at Beaumont; he made a few appearances at third base and in the outfield and batted just .189 in thirty-seven official at-bats.  His most memorable appearance with Beaumont that year may have been the game of August 21. Already losing by a score of 12 – 2 with two outs in the bottom of the third inning in a game in Oklahoma City, Rudy was called off the bench to relieve starting pitcher Jake Wade.  Rudy pitched the rest of the game, giving up five runs, all earned, on two hits, ten bases on balls and one hit batsman.

Rudy’s one-out experience as a catcher in 1933 would turn into a six year, on-again, off-again experiment in human torture for Rudy and the Tiger organization.  Rudy rejoined the Exporters for the 1934 season and from the beginning of spring training was described as a promising catching prospect who was expected to add some much needed power to the Beaumont lineup.  Describing one workout a couple of days into spring training, the Beaumont Journal noted:

“Then came the big ‘game’ of the day, a ‘one-eyed cat’ move-up scuffle….as usual, Rudy York, the Georgia Bludgeoner, sparkled with his stick work.  Rudy rammed out hit after hit and twice sent balls over the pailings just a few inches foul.  The Georgia boy is far ahead of the others in camp, having worked out several weeks at his home in Atco before reporting here.”[xxiii]

As the season was getting ready to begin, the Journal noted:

“To casual observers, it looks like York is No. 1 man on the Exporters’ receiving staff… (he) has a powerful arm; by far, the best arm in the Exporter camp. He can hit a dime at 100 feet….not only can Rudy throw, but he is the hardest hitter in camp as well…He’s a real find and a real catcher, and Jack Zeller, Detroit scout, said he wouldn’t take $50,000 for him right now.”[xxiv]

Rudy was slated to share a significant part of the catching duties with Mike Tresh, but things quickly unraveled.   Rudy got off to a slow start at the plate and exhibited none of the power that had been expected of him.  In early May Beaumont sent Rudy to the Fort Worth Panthers – another Texas League team – “on loan” with the understanding that Beaumont would not recall him before the end of the season unless Fort Worth was willing to return Rudy to Beaumont earlier.  Rudy started out as the Cats’ primary catcher, but by the end of May it was apparent his catching skills were suspect.  Instead of relegating him to the bench, Cats manager Del Pratt moved him to right field and Rudy’s bat began to come alive as his average rose steadily and his power numbers began to soar. Describing a 11-run rally in the top of the 7th inning in a game at Oklahoma City on May 31, the Journal noted “Chief York started the seventh inning rally with one of the longest home runs ever hit in the Indian Park.”[xxv]  Rudy hit a total of eighteen home runs during the months of June and July and moved to the front of the league’s home run race.  Unfortunately the Cats were a bad ball club and Rudy’s production with the stick did little to improve Fort Worth’s chances of making the league playoffs.  On August 10, with Fort Worth out of contention and Beaumont fighting to qualify for the playoffs, the Cats agreed to return Rudy to the Exporters for the remainder of the season.  That decision created a firestorm in the Texas League and paved the way for Rudy’s major league debut.

When Rudy’s recall by Beaumont was announced, other teams objected to the transfer on the grounds that the league had a rule prohibiting the sale or trading of players between teams in the league after August 1 in order to prevent teams from acting in concert to affect the outcome of the pennant race.  Beaumont argued the rule did not apply to Rudy’s situation since he had only been “loaned out” to the Cats and was simply being returned to the Beaumont roster.  League president J. Alvin Gardner ruled that while Beaumont had every right to recall Rudy, he would not be eligible to play in any of the Exporters’ remaining games.[xxvi]  Rudy’s season appeared to be over a month earlier than expected after hitting .332 with 26 home runs and 75 RBI for Beaumont and Fort Worth. (Beaumont eventually missed out on the playoffs.)  Then, to his great surprise and delight, on August 16 – the day before his twenty-first birthday – Rudy received word to report to the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers, fighting for a pennant of their own, decided to bring Rudy up to the major leagues with the hope that he might provide some power off the bench.  Writing to Ed Sharpe, former Atco manager, Rudy said “This is the happiest moment of my life!”[xxvii] Rudy spent his twenty-first birthday riding the train to Detroit where he briefly met with the press at Tiger Stadium before traveling on to join the team in Boston.  He told the Detroit press “It sure is surprising to be greeted like this….Three days ago I had no idea I would see this place until next spring, and it was quite a surprise when the Tigers sent for me.”[xxviii]   The press wasted no time playing up Rudy’s Native American heritage, introducing him as the “Cherokee home run king”:   “York has been widely heralded as an Indian.  In the south they called him ‘Chief’ and took his picture wearing head feathers and swinging a tomahawk…when he played in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, the braves from miles around came to see him perform.”[xxix]  Rudy’s own reaction to the interest in his background is proof that the press paid more attention to it than Rudy ever did.  Noting the extent of his Native American ancestry was “greatly exaggerated” Rudy went on to say “There is some Cherokee blood in our family, but it goes a long way back.  I really never tried to trace it and don’t know much about it.  I suppose I’ve got about as much Indian blood as Jack Dempsey.”[xxx]

The Detroit papers informed their readers that scouts and others familiar with Rudy’s performance in the Texas League were very high on him.  “York hits the ball as hard as Rogers Hornsby ever did.  His home runs are not of the Ruthian variety, long driven flies, but sizzle off the walls or clear the fences on a line.”[xxxi] Fort Worth manager Del Pratt noted that “York is as good right now as Heinie Manush was when he broke into the majors.”[xxxii]  Sam Greene of the Detroit News wrote “Scouts covering the Texas territory say that York’s record reflects the work of a natural hitter, of a man who looked better than Joe Medwick of the Cardinals, Henry Greenberg of (the) Tigers and Zeke Bonura of the White Sox did when they were breaking down the fences of the Lone Star circuit.”[xxxiii]

Rudy made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter on August 22, striking out against Earl Whitehill of the Senators.  Rudy did not play again until the final week of the season after the Tigers had wrapped up the American League pennant.  Some reports suggest that Rudy, already a big man, put on weight during his period of inactivity with Detroit and that manager Mickey Cochrane was not impressed with his catching skills.  At the end of the season, Rudy was reassigned to the Beaumont roster.

Rudy went to spring training with the Beaumont club in 1935.  The Exporters were still determined to drive a square peg into a round hole.  According to the Beaumont Journal, as the team headed into spring training,  “…Exporter scouts believe that York’s place is behind the platter, and he is going to be given every opportunity to show his stuff in mask and protector…”[xxxiv]  and, on the eve of the opening game of the season,

“Rudy is considered one of the greatest catching prospects in baseball.…(he) throws a ball like a 30-30….is rapidly rounding into a heads-up catcher, though his work behind the platter has been comparatively short….As Rudy goes this year, so will the Exporters, and lots is expected of the big fellow.”[xxxv]

Rudy began the season as the Exporter’s main catcher, with manager Dutch Lorbeer providing occasional relief.  The Exporters got off to a hot start, winning their first five games, but by the end of May were struggling to stay in the upper division of the league’s standings.   Rudy, who batted well over .300 during the first three weeks of the season, saw his average drop to .279 by the end of May and he was struggling behind the plate as well, although little was said in the local paper about his defensive miscues.  On May 30, Lorbeer moved Rudy to first base to replace George Archie, who also was struggling, and installed himself as the Exporters’ primary catcher.  Rudy received a number of compliments on his play at first base in his first few games there, and by June 5th the Journal was reporting that the Exporters planned to leave Rudy at first. The team even asked the Tigers’ Hank Greenberg to send one of his used first baseman mitts to Rudy.

Rudy was able to relax after his move to first base and he began a hitting barrage that quickly moved him to the front of the home run race, while his average slowly began moving back towards the .300 mark.  The team’s overall performance was slower to come around, but by the beginning of August the Exporters had worked their way back to the top of the Texas League’s standings.  They could not fight off the Oklahoma City Indians, however, and finished second by four games.  In the league playoffs Beaumont beat third place Galveston, three games to two, in the first round after dropping the first two games of the series.  In the championship series, Oklahoma City reinforced its standing as the best team in the league that year by defeating Beaumont four games to one.  For the season, Rudy hit .301 and led the league in home runs (32), runs-batted-in (117) and total bases (198) and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts.

Although Rudy was destined to ply his trade for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1936, his assignment to the Brewers did not come without some spring training intrigue. Rudy’s MVP season in Beaumont once again caught the attention of the Detroit brass and he was invited to train with the Tigers in Lakeland, Florida that spring.  Cochrane, who remembered Rudy as a somewhat slow-footed, not-too-promising catcher, was surprised and pleased to find Rudy in excellent physical condition;  Charles Ward noted that Rudy “…is built on the lines of a battleship….”[xxxvi]  The fact that he had been converted to a first baseman served the Tigers’ immediate needs as well.  The start of spring training found first baseman Hank Greenberg in a contract squabble with the Tigers front office.  Greenberg had led the Tigers to the 1935 AL pennant and was voted the league’s MVP.   He was fully recovered from the broken wrist he suffered in Game 2 of the 1935 World Series and expected to be rewarded appropriately for his fine 1935 season.  While Hank wiled away his time in New York waiting for the Tigers to improve their offer, Rudy put on powerful performances early in camp while playing first base in Greenberg’s stead, and the Tigers made sure the press knew how happy they were with Rudy’s performance throughout the spring schedule. After just the first intra-squad game, Charles Ward noted:

“This York person has proved  himself quite a powerhouse, even when compared to the hard-hitting Hank Greenberg.  He seems able to hit a ball no matter where it is placed just so long as it comes near the plate.  And he has the power to give the ball wings once he gets hold of it….Despite Greenberg’s great record…York may prove to be a distinct threat to him before the next season is over….(he) has gotten over the stage fright that afflicted him when he was a member of the team two years ago….it must be said that he looks like a better ballplayer than Greenberg did the year he came up.  However, Hank developed fast.”[xxxvii]

Two weeks into spring training, Associated Press writer Paul Mickelson proclaimed “…Cochrane is so impressed with another rookie, Rudolph York from Beaumont, that scribes with the team expect him to let him play the opening game if for no other reason than to show big Hank that York is a qualified replacement.”[xxxviii]    A few days later, the Tigers received some help in their public efforts to put the squeeze on Greenberg.  AL President William Harridge singled out Rudy and Joe DiMaggio as the most promising rookies in the league that year and, when asked to choose between them “…his nod – very slight – goes to the Detroit youngster.”  Harridge continued:  “In the Tiger camp, they weren’t saying a thing about holdout Hank Greenberg…York looks like he’ll deliver in great style.  He’s a powerful hitter and fields in major league manner.”[xxxix]

The public relations campaign was effective, if unnecessary.  The next day it was announced Greenberg had decided to travel to Florida to work out his contract with the Tigers. The Detroit press never took Hank’s holdout or the Tigers’ promotion of York too seriously; as W.W. Edgar wrote on March 10 “…not by the wildest stretch of the imagination can one picture him (Greenberg) sitting on the sidelines.  Neither can one picture Rudy York taking over his job.  Greenberg will be back at first base when the season opens.  Make no mistake about that.”[xl]  While Mickey Cochrane would have loved to have Rudy’s bat in the lineup every day, the fact was there was no room for him on the roster.  A place in the outfield was the only possible alternative to first base, but Detroit was already loaded with outfielders for 1936, including Goose Goslin, Pete Fox, Gerald Walker, Jo Jo White and the newly signed Al Simmons.  Rudy himself knew he had little chance of displacing Hank at first base.  When asked how he expected to win a place on the roster, Rudy remarked that he didn’t “expect” anything; Mickey Cochrane got paid to make those decisions.  But if he had to make the decision, Rudy would move Greenberg to left field, not because he felt he was better than Hank at first, but rather because Hank would make a better outfielder than Rudy.  “I don’t think much of my chances in the outfield.”[xli] Rudy was optioned to Milwaukee the first week of April.

The Brewers, managed by former major league hurler Al Sothoron, had disappointed Milwaukee fans in 1935 but were expected to be a strong contender for the American Association title in 1936.  The Brewers had a solid lineup with Rudy, second baseman Eddie Hope, shortstop “Wimpy” Wilburn and third baseman Lin Storti manning the infield; local favorites Chet Laabs and Ted Gullic patrolled the outer gardens along with Chet Morgan.  Centerfielder Frenchy Uhalt, purchased from Oakland in mid-May after Gullic went down with a broken ankle, solidified the outfield and provided a good bat and much needed speed at the top of the lineup.  George Detore and Bill Brenzel shared the catching chores for most of the year.  The pitching staff was led by Joe Heving, Clyde Hatter, Luke Hamlin and Tot Pressnell, a young knuckleball specialist who would surprise everyone by winning nineteen games over the course of the year.

Sothoron was quite pleased to have York on his squad.  Anticipating Rudy’s assignment to Milwaukee before the Greenberg drama began to play out in full, Sothoron noted “Rudy…will be one of the most popular players we’ll have in Milwaukee this year.  York, who is part Indian, showed me he is the kind of slugger our town will rave about.”[xlii]  Rudy also was singled out for his enthusiasm and leadership on the field as well.  On the eve of opening day, Sam Levy of the Milwaukee Journal wrote “…York…is the spark plug of the entire club.  Aggressiveness and fight are his motto and his steady patter around first base already has had a noticeable effect on the rest of the players.”[xliii]  Two weeks into the season, Brewer owner Heinie Bendinger even noted “…you can hear that fellow York all the time.”[xliv]

Rudy and the Brewers got off to slow starts on their bone-chilling, season-opening road trip through the league’s eastern loop, which included stops in Louisville, Indianapolis, Columbus and Toledo.  They finally arrived in Milwaukee at the end of April playing just well enough to stay in the upper division of the standings and hoping the cozy confines of Borchert Field would awaken their bats from an early season slumber.

Before the home schedule could get underway, however, the Brewers were temporarily jolted by the possibility they would lose Rudy to the Tigers after all.  On April 29, Hank Greenberg broke his right wrist, the same arm that had been injured during the World Series the previous fall.  Given the Tigers’ public reaction to Rudy’s play in spring training it was natural to assume the Tigers would recall him from Milwaukee to fill in for their injured star.  This option apparently received scant consideration, however, as reflected in a good-natured commentary by “Iffy the Dopester” on Cochrane’s leadership skills during a crisis:

“…Mickey is a first class fighting man.  He showed this the moment Homer Hank the big Greenberg boy cracked that wrist of his again….Gone was all this foolishness about that first baseman York, or Nork or Fork who would play so much better than Hank that the Bronx Bomber would never be missed.  Mickey’s press agent kissed him into a world of trouble with that baloney.  When disaster smote him Mickey reverted to type, the cool, quick thinking leader….”[xlv]

Cochrane very quickly decided to go with an experienced first sacker, trading pitcher Elon Hogsett to the Browns for Jack Burns.[xlvi]  Milwaukee fans and manager Sothoron certainly weren’t complaining.  As Sothoron told the Journal:  “…Everybody on the club realizes Rudy’s value to the team.  If we had lost the Chief on the eve of our opening game with Louisville…it might have affected the entire club.”[xlvii]  Rudy stayed in Milwaukee, and the initial home stand provided the spark that Sothoron, the players and the fans had hoped for.  By the end of May, the Brewers had moved into the league lead by one-half games over Kansas City.  Rudy led the Brewer regulars with a .341 average and was tied with Chet Laabs for the team lead with forty-two runs driven home.  There was a spirited race for the team home run lead as well; Laabs led with fourteen round-trippers, while Rudy and Lin Storti were tied with ten apiece.

The Brewers still held the league lead at the halfway point in the season which entitled them to be the host team for the American Association All-Star game.  Rudy was named to the All-Star team, although he actually played for the Brewers against the All-Stars from the other teams.  The All-Stars defeated the Brewers, 9-5, in a game that started at 2:30 in the afternoon in a suffocating heat and thankfully lasted just one hour and fifty-two minutes.  Rudy went 2-4 with a double.

After the All-Star game, Milwaukee and St. Paul would battle for the league lead until the Brewers, thanks to a 22-7 home stand in August, built an 11 ½ game lead.  Rudy went over the 100 RBI mark on August 1, and other teams were starting to show interest in him.  Sam Levy of the Journal noted that the Cubs were particularly interested in acquiring York, but the Tigers had no plans to trade him and would keep Rudy in Detroit in 1937 as insurance against further injury to Greenberg.  Again, speaking to Rudy’s aggressiveness and leadership, Levy wrote “…none of the players who are farmed out by the Detroit club possesses the vim, vigor and aggressiveness of Chief York.  The big first sacker, the spark plug of the Brewer machine, fights just as hard when his club shows a large deficit in the scoring column as he does when it is in position to coast along….”[xlviii]  Levy’s high opinion of Rudy was shared by others around the league.  Minneapolis manager Donie Bush told Levy “…I’ve had a high opinion of his ability ever since I saw him the first time we played your club in Florida.  Any big fellow who moves around as fast as York does and has that long distance hitting power is my ideal.”[xlix]

Rudy and the Brewers went into a mild slump after their impressive August home stand and their lead in the standings shrunk to 6 ½ games by September 2nd.  The season was drawing quickly to a close, however, and the Brewers clinched the pennant – their first since 1914 – with a doubleheader sweep over Minneapolis on September 3rd.  They closed out the regular season on the seventh by dropping a Labor Day doubleheader in Kansas City, but received a huge welcome home the next morning in Milwaukee.  Commenting on the excitement surrounding the homecoming, the Journal noted that “Rudy York, the big chief, rode with the driver on one of the red fire trucks and appeared to get an immense kick out of the welcome.” [l]

The Brewers’ end-of-season slump was quickly forgotten once the playoffs began.  Led by the big bats of Rudy and Chet Laabs, along with solid pitching from each of the four starters, the Brewers swept the KC Blues, four games to none, in the first round.  Rudy went 6 for 16 with four runs driven in, and he and Laabs both hit two home runs in the series.  Solid hitting performances up and down the lineup allowed the Brewers to breeze to the American Association championship over the Indianapolis Indians, 4 games to 1, in the final playoff series.  Milwaukee hit .305 as a team in the series; Rudy and Laabs each drove in five runs.  Luke Hamlin got credit for the wins in Game 1 as well as the clincher.

Their win over Indianapolis entitled Milwaukee to face Ray Schalk’s Buffalo Bisons, champions of the International League, in the Little World Series.  The first three games were played in Milwaukee, a huge advantage that the Brewers capitalized on by sweeping all three games.  Tot Pressnell won each of the first two games, pitching in relief of Joe Heving in the first game and Clyde Hatter in game two.  The second game was a cliffhanger. Lin Storti and Ted Gullic both hit a pair of homers in the game, with Storti’s second circuit clout winning the game for Pressnell and the Brewers in the bottom of the eleventh inning.

Back in their home park, Buffalo won the fourth game of the series but Pressnell, this time in a starting role, picked up his third victory in game five and closed out the series on October 1 with an 8-3 win.  Rudy’s bat was relatively quiet against Buffalo, as he knocked in just three runs in the series.

Thanks to the Brewers success that year, Milwaukee drew 250,000 fans in 1936, more than doubling the attendance from the previous year.  Rudy finished the regular season with a team-leading .334 average (including 207 hits), and he was second on the team in homers (37) and runs-batted-in (148), finishing just behind Laabs in both categories.  He was fifth in the league in slugging percentage (.620).  Among his many accolades, Rudy won his second straight MVP award, edging out St. Paul pitcher Lou Fette, who won 25 games for the Saints that year.  He was also a fan favorite, winning their vote as team MVP in a poll sponsored by the Milwaukee Junior Chamber of Commerce.  According to the Journal, Rudy was even offered a one-week engagement at a local vaudeville theater, along with Laabs and Frenchy Uhalt, although there is no evidence Rudy cashed in on that offer.

The local press also expressed tremendous pride in the accomplishments of Rudy and his teammates.  Sports editor R. G. Lynch commented:

“…it may be years before Milwaukee has a baseball team like the 1936 outfit…. How often do you find on one team the niftiest double play combination…the fanciest fielding first baseman…and a couple of young sluggers headed for the major leagues?… It’s a pleasure to watch Rudy York operate around first base.  He’s a moose but amazingly agile for a big man, and the way he waves that leather claw of his through the air and picks off the ball never fails to cause comment among the crowd….”[li]

Sam Levy, the Brewers’ beat writer from the Journal, noted at the end of the season:

“Laabs and York!  How we’ll miss them dynamite twins in 1937.  Two men of iron!  Think of it – neither missed an inning throughout the trying 154-game schedule.  There were times when Chief suffered hurts, minor hurts to him, but he never gave them a thought.  Most players under similar circumstances would have ‘jaked’ – sought a rest.”[lii]

Perhaps Rudy’s most significant bonus arrived near the end of October when Violet gave birth to their second child (and only son), Joe Wilburn York.  Joe’s middle name was selected as a tribute to Rudy’s Milwaukee teammate, Chet “Wimpy” Wilburn.

Rudy’s 1936 performance in Milwaukee virtually assured him of a place on Detroit’s roster in 1937.   Offensively, Rudy had nothing left to prove as a minor leaguer.  He was ready for the big leagues, and Mickey Cochrane was anxious to add Rudy’s bat to the Tiger lineup in 1937.  The only problem was where Rudy would play in the field.  Hank Greenberg already was well established at first base and although Mickey Cochrane suggested that Greenberg might be moved to the outfield to make way for Rudy at first, Hank was having no part of it.  “The only way I’ll play the outfield is if Rudy York is a better first baseman than I am.  I’m a first baseman by inclination…. I’ll play first base unless Rudy can beat me out.  Everything I hear is that he is quite a first baseman, the best the American Association ever turned out.”[liii]

For his part, Rudy much preferred to play first base, but he knew he had no better chance of displacing Greenberg in 1937 than he’d had in 1936.  “If I don’t play first base for the Tigers I’ll play for somebody else.  They can send me out just so often and then they’ll have to do something about it.  I’ll play first base for some big league team and I don’t care much which one it is so long as I get my pay regularly”[liv] he told Charles Ward, and he later admitted to W.W. Edgar: “I’ll give him a battle, but nobody is taking Greenberg’s job away from him yet.  That job is his if he’s able to play.”[lv]

Rudy refused to sign the first contract he received in 1937, suggesting that as a two-time minor league MVP he deserved a little better consideration from the parent club.  Ward suggested Rudy’s brief holdout might have been designed to put pressure on the Detroit club to “play me or trade me”: “… it is also possible that Rudy’s ‘holdout’ is motivated by Hank Greenberg, and that his demands for money are merely a means to an end.  That end would be, of course, a railroad ticket to some major league city other than Detroit.”[lvi]  Rudy and the Tiger management settled their differences before spring training started, however.

By the time spring training came around, Mickey Cochrane had abandoned the idea of shifting Greenberg to the outfield, but he was still anxious to find a place for Rudy in the Tigers’ everyday lineup:

“We are going to shift him around until we find a place for him.  I’d like to make use of Rudy’s power with the stick…I might send him over to third base and see what he does.  If he can play first, Rudy should also be able to play third….and if he doesn’t fit in there, we’ll try him in the outfield.  I’d hate to see all that batting power go to waste.”[lvii]

Rudy did, in fact, spend virtually all of his time during spring training at third base.  Coach Del Baker spent hours hitting balls to Rudy at third to help him learn the position.  Cochrane acknowledged that it would be a tough decision to replace incumbent third baseman Marv Owen with someone as untested as Rudy, but that decision would be hinge to a large extent on the status of the Tigers’ starting pitching.  “…(I)f we are going to be weak on the mound, we’ll have to sacrifice our defensive strength for power at the plate.  We’ll need all the heavy hitters we can get because it’s a cinch the other fellows are going to get some runs and we’ll just have to try and outscore them.”[lviii]  Midway through spring training, H.G. Salsinger noted “Cochrane is much impressed with York’s work at third base. ‘If he makes up his mind that he can play third, he should be a top-notch third-sacker.  There’s no question, of course, about his hitting ability. ‘“[lix]  Despite Cochrane’s optimism, press accounts of the Tigers’ spring games made frequent mention of Rudy’s problems in the field.  As spring training came to a close, Cochrane seemed to change his mind almost every day. At the end of training, Mickey had decided to move Owen back to third base, noting “It is almost a crime to keep those fellows out of regular jobs, but I don’t see how they can get them on our club.  On any other club in the majors, both York and Croucher would be stars, and yet here they are the victims of fate that keeps them off a club.”[lx] By the time the Tigers got back to Detroit for the season opener on April 20, Cochrane had changed his mind again.  Black Mike conceded:

“Don’t see how I can afford to keep York on the bench.  He has shown me so much batting power, which we certainly can use, that it looks like the proper thing to do is to have him in our lineup….his defensive play has not been so bad either.  He’s made a couple of wrong moves because of inexperience at that base, but I think he’ll get over that shortly.  All he seemingly has to do is tap the ball to hit it out of the park…”[lxi]

Rudy was in the opening day lineup at third base as Eldon Auker out-dueled the Indians’ Mel Harder for a 4-3 victory.  Detroit centerfielder Gee Walker hit for the cycle while Rudy singled in two official at-bats.  Noting the enthusiasm of the crowd that day, Doc Holst wrote that Rudy and Hank Greenberg were in a tight race for the crowd’s adulation: “York won that contest with Hank by a falsetto shriek of a young girl. It was that close,” and “For the first time since Chief Hogsett left Navin Field the fans had a chance to exercise their knowledge of Indian war cries.  They started it when Rudy York came to bat.”[lxii]  During the game, however, pitcher Eldon Auker felt it necessary to try and cover for Rudy on two bunt plays, failing to get the runner in both cases. “How well York can play bunted balls remains to be seen.  Auker showed no confidence in York’s ability.”[lxiii]

 Rudy hit his first major league home run on April 29th against the White Sox’ Earl Whitehill, but by early May his defensive liabilities were too obvious to overlook.  In addition to mishandling a grounder in one game in early May, “York also let a pop fly get away from him while the crowd groaned.  Rudy misjudged another pop foul, but escaped being charged with an error simply because he misjudged it so badly he couldn’t get his hands on it.”[lxiv]  In addition to his difficulty with bunts and pop-ups, Rudy had no range.  He couldn’t go to his right or left.  The Detroit crowd increasingly expressed its impatience with Rudy’s fielding and those catcalls also affected Rudy at the plate.  Owen replaced him soon thereafter and Rudy spent most of the month of May on the Detroit bench.

The Tigers were dealt a severe blow on May 25 when Cochrane was hit in the head by a pitch from the Yankees’ Bump Hadley, effectively ending the future Hall of Famer’s playing career.  From a baseball perspective, Cochrane’s loss was one for which the Tigers were ill prepared.  Many people think Rudy replaced Cochrane as catcher immediately after the beaning.  This, in fact, was not the case; Birdie Tebbetts took over the catching duties after Cochrane was injured.  Rudy remained on the bench and was actually sent to AA Toledo in early June, although he was recalled a day later after Owen suffered a broken hand.  Even then, however, Rudy could not get back in the lineup right away.   Interim manager Cy Perkins[lxv] waited until mid-June, when Detroit left town for an extended road trip, to put Rudy back at third base, thinking that he would have less pressure on him playing away from the glare of the hometown fans.

Rudy’s offensive output improved considerably with his return to the lineup, although his fielding continued to be a problem.  He hit 11 HR with 34 RBI between June 16 and July 23, but he also was charged with 6 official errors during that stretch in addition to the balls he couldn’t make a play on that went for base hits.  During the game of July 1, “…the White Sox had a hunch that maybe the big Indian at third base (Mr. Rudy York) wasn’t so hot in fielding bunts and so they began bunting toward third.  That kind of strategy is not good for a big Indian….”[lxvi]  Birdie Tebbetts had to come out from behind the plate to field the bunts put down in Rudy’s direction.  Two days later “York missed on four balls today that went for hits.  Three of these York-made hits made two runs possible.  Driving in four runs in the second inning and scoring another after doubling in the seventh, York finished the day three runs up.”[lxvii]  On July 5th he failed to make the play on two routine grounders, both of which led to 2 runs.  But Rudy hit a home run to win the game and “…all was forgotten when York hit for the circuit.  He left the field, grinning, the hero rather that the villain of the Tiger cast.”[lxviii]  A few days later “Averill hit a perfect double play ball to York’s left but York never moved his feet an inch, simply waving his glove hand at the ball as it passed him.”[lxix]  His poor fielding once again became too much to bear.   Marv Owen was ready to return to the lineup in late July and Del Baker decided to make the switch.  Mickey Cochrane returned to his manager’s post a few days later and agreed Rudy was unsuitable at third base.  Detroit was still in desperate need of offensive punch in their attempt to gain ground on the league-leading Yankees; after a week on the bench and with Birdie Tebbetts barely batting .200, Cochrane decided to put York behind the plate for the game of August 4 against the Athletics in Philadelphia.  York was not anxious to assume the club’s catching duties. He was on record as far back as 1935 that he didn’t like catching because it required “…too much thinking to get any fun out of baseball.”[lxx]  But he agreed to do it if Cochrane would leave him there.  Cochrane assured York that he would give him every chance in the world to settle in and do well.  Rudy responded by breaking a home run record held by the great Babe Ruth.

Rudy hit home runs in four of the first six games in which he appeared behind the plate. By August 19 he had produced 8 homers and 27 RBI for the month, numbers that would have reflected an excellent full-month’s showing for most other players.  But Rudy wasn’t through.  The first game of a doubleheader on August 22 began a streak of 5 consecutive games in which he hit at least one home run (he hit two in the first game of an August 24 doubleheader), producing 12 more RBI along the way.  Heading into the game of August 31 against Washington’s Pete Appleton, Rudy had 16 home runs for the month, just one shy of Ruth’s record of 17 in a calendar month set in September 1927.  Rudy came through in a big way that day, hitting two home runs to set a new record and knocking in seven runs, which gave him 50 RBI for the month of August.[lxxi]  Doc Holst noted that the 7,000 fans in Navin Field that day didn’t seem to be concerned with the fact that Roxie Lawson had won his 17th game for the Tigers, nor did they get excited about Gehringer’s 3 for 3 day.  Instead, “All they saw was that it was York’s day to establish himself as a greater home run hitter than Ruth and the Indian delivered.”[lxxii]

But what about Rudy’s catching?  Cochrane was true to his word and left Rudy behind the plate for most of the rest of the 1937 season.  Cochrane presented Rudy’s case to the press quite positively during that time, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Rudy was hardly an All-Star catcher.  He was charged with nine errors during his time behind the plate in addition to 12 passed balls, while throwing out just 28% of runners attempting to steal against him (the league average for runners caught stealing in 1937 was 38%).   Still, Cochrane tried to convince the press he had solved the conundrum of where to play Rudy.   After Rudy’s first game behind the plate, Cochrane told the press “That fellow looks all right behind the plate.  He seems to know what the business is all about, and he can hit and throw.  I think he will make good.”[lxxiii]  Just a few days later, with trade rumors swirling around Rudy, Cochrane noted We could use some pitching strength, I’ll admit, but we’re not letting York go…I haven’t seen any wild pitches get past him.  He seems to have found his spot as catcher.”[lxxiv]  Members of the Detroit press seemed to buy into story as well.  Salsinger wrote:

“Rudy York caught his third consecutive game for Detroit yesterday, and if he continues hitting as he has been in the last three games, he has won himself a job.  He may not know as much about catching as Bolton, Hayworth or Tebbetts, but he produces long hits and teams need long hits to win ball games.”[lxxv]

Of a game on August 10 in which Tiger pitcher George Gill suffered from bouts of wildness, Charles Ward commented:  “When George went to the mound he proved to the complete satisfaction of the 11,500 witnesses that York can stop wild pitches if he can do no other task that is required of a catcher.  Rudy stopped them to the right of him and to the left of him, high and low.”  Ward also used the events of the day to point out a problem many new catchers have when first learning to handle a pitching staff and, as an extra bonus, provided a prime example of the lack of sensitivity towards ethnic stereotyping so prevalent during that era.  Noting that Gill and Rudy seemed to be having a hard time getting together on signals, Ward said “….Rudy probably was calling the pitches in the Cherokee sign language while George, for all anybody could tell, knew only the Choctaw….Twice while Bonura was being walked, York called time and asked for a pow-wow.”[lxxvi]    In mid-August, Cochrane told Sam Greene “He has improved fast in the few games he has been back there.  He is not yet fully familiar with the weaknesses of the batters but he is learning.  It won’t take him long to iron out the few mechanical flaws he has.  I’m sure that he is our best catching prospect for next year.  If he fills the bill he will solve our biggest problem, outside of pitching.”[lxxvii]

Offensively, Rudy cooled off a bit during the month of September.  He actually spent several days in the hospital with an infected arm, a malady that originated when he accidently trimmed his nails too closely and opened a cut on one of his fingers.  He finished the year with a .307 average, 35 HR and 103 RBI, all in just 375 official at-bats.  Although the Tigers finished in second place some 13 games behind the Yankees, Rudy’s late home run surge and his race with Hank Greenberg for the club home run title, along with Charley Gehringer’s run at a batting crown and eventual MVP title, kept the turnstiles humming at Navin Field in 1937; the Tigers finished first in the league in attendance, drawing just over 1 million fans.  Towards the end of the season, Charles Ward, using Rudy’s rise to prominence after moving behind the plate as an example, noted how perceptions can change so quickly.  While Mickey Owens had been the talk of the talented young catchers earlier in the year, “… (York) is now rated as the finest young catching prospect in baseball.  Not only that, but he is being acclaimed by critics as the prize rookie of the year”[lxxviii] and, after the season was over, “…you can’t…help but wonder what the Chieftan will do next season when he can play a full string of games.”[lxxix]   The Sporting News named Rudy to its All-Rookie Team for 1937.

Rudy York injured from ball to the head in 1938

Detroit 1938-1939

The Tigers’ catching situation would be a constant source of concern for Mickey Cochrane heading into the 1938 season.  Tigers owner Walter Briggs denied Cochrane permission to be reinstated as an active player, presumably out of concern for Mickey’s health, eliminating that option behind the plate.  Sam Greene noted before spring training ever started that Rudy “…is not a polished receiver… is not yet a dependable thrower.  He is not an inspiring partner for a sagging pitcher…. Cochrane will have to do a great deal of work with the Cherokee clouter before he is the kind of maskman required on a pennant winner.”[lxxx]  Cochrane indeed worked with York in spring training to try to improve his mechanics; progress was characterized as sufficient if somewhat minimal. Cochrane knew that Birdie Tebbetts was an outstanding catcher and instilled more confidence in the pitching staff than York ever could, but York’s slugging kept him in the number one catching position.  His hitting also bought him his first taste of widespread national exposure among the general public when he made the cover of Newsweek magazine with the caption “Rudy York: Greatest slugger since Babe Ruth?”[lxxxi]  Cochrane couldn’t justify relegating Rudy’s bat to the bench.  Rudy started out the season as the starting catcher, but things went downhill fast.  Besides Rudy’s limitations behind the plate, he got off to his typical slow start at the plate.  Two weeks into the season, Cochrane installed Tebbetts as catcher and moved Rudy to left field, suggesting this would be his new position.  Rudy made an error in his very first game in left field and generally seemed uncomfortable in the outfield.  He didn’t stay there long, however; in his second game in the outfield on May 5, Tebbetts got into a fight with the Red Sox’s Ben Chapman, was ejected from the game and suspended several games by the league.  Rudy returned to catching duties temporarily during Tebbetts’ forced vacation.  Luckily, Rudy’s batting stroke returned at about the same time; he hit nine home runs during the month of May, including three grand slams.  He went back to left field upon Tebbetts’ reinstatement and played there the last half of the month, but his poor fielding forced Cochrane to throw up his hands and put him back behind the plate.  York spent most of the rest of the season as the Tigers’ primary catcher and his offensive contributions kept the Tigers’ slim pennant hopes alive.  At the end of June, Sam Greene noted:

“It is no more than fair to say that York has been the main factor in keeping Detroit within hailing distance of the leaders.  Despite flaws in his defense, the Cherokee has been more valuable than any other individual.  His long distance clouting has been both a mechanical and a moral force, pounding runs across the plate for the Tigers, giving them hope when behind and often providing the basis of exultation when ahead.”[lxxxii]

The Tigers floundered around the .500 mark for most of the summer, mostly due to poor starting pitching.  Rudy missed a week after a severe beaning on July 21 at the hands of Washington’s Monte Weaver. Shortly after Rudy’s return to the lineup, Mickey Cochrane was fired on August 6 with the Tigers mired in fifth place with a record of 47-51.  Arch Ward of the Chicago Daily Tribune went as far as to say Rudy and Hank Greenberg were partly responsible for Cochrane’s firing because they often ignored Cochrane’s signals while focusing too much on home runs.[lxxxiii] Del Baker took over the managerial reigns of the club and led the club to a 37-19 record over the remainder of the season to finish in fourth place.  The main excitement for the Detroit club during the final stretches revolved around Greenberg’s chase of Ruth’s single season home run record.  Ultimately, he fell two short of tying the record with 58 home runs.   For the season, Rudy hit .298 with 33 home runs, including a record-tying 4 grand slams[lxxxiv], and 127 RBI.

Press reports in the off-season indicated Del Baker was giving serious consideration to moving Rudy back to the outfield for 1939.  The Tigers’ starting pitching had struggled in 1938 and Baker believed Birdie Tebbetts would do a much better job of helping the pitching staff find their rhythm.  The Tigers also were high on newcomer Dixie Parsons as a back-up to Tebbetts, making Rudy expendable behind the plate.  Baker believed that Rudy had never been given a real chance in the outfield; he had been thrown into the outfield in 1938 during the season without any chance to acclimate himself to the position and expected to perform at the same level as an experienced outfielder.  Baker felt that if Rudy could have an entire spring training to learn and practice the position that he would become at least an average outfielder, which would have been perfectly acceptable to the Tigers.  The offseason also gave birth to new trade rumors. The most significant rumor had Rudy going to the Athletics for outfielder Bob Johnson and third baseman Bill Werber.  Such a trade would fill two holes for the Tigers, but the deal was never consummated.  Rudy’s name also was mentioned in a possible multi-player trade with Washington for shortstop Cecil Travis but that rumor also died on the vine.

Baker’s tentative plans to return Rudy to the outfield were derailed prior to spring training by Rudy himself.  Rudy notified the Tiger brass that he did not want to move to the outfield.  He preferred, instead, to remain a catcher and Del Baker eventually decided to drop the idea of moving Rudy to left field.  Heading into the season, however, a consensus finally seems to have emerged that “…York is not a good catcher and … he will not likely ever be a member of the top class of receivers…. (Tebbetts) is a much better catcher than York; better than York probably ever will be.”[lxxxv]   York’s refusal to move to the outfield created problems for the team’s outer garden as well.  The outfield candidates lacked punch, with the exception of Chet Laabs who couldn’t seem to find the consistency at the plate needed to win a starting job in the outfield.  The Tigers were all set with Pete Fox in right field, but Baker was having difficulty finding suitable players for the other two outfield spots from the likes of Laabs, Dixie Walker, Roy Cullenbine, Barney McCoskey, Frank Secory and Les Fleming (himself a converted first baseman forced into the outfield because of Greenberg).  Rudy began the season as the starting catcher but soon missed several games due to a relatively minor health problem; he ended up sharing the catching duties with Tebbetts for most of the summer.  He missed time in July with a split finger, and then moved to first base in mid-August when a slumping Greenberg was briefly benched and then suffered a pulled muscle in his side shortly after his return to the lineup.  Rudy spelled Greenberg at the first sack for much of the last half of August, returning to a platoon situation behind the plate in early September.  The Tigers were never in pennant contention in 1939; they finished in fifth place with an 81-73 record.  Rudy, his playing time significantly reduced (he had just 329 official at-bats) hit .307 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI.  By the end of the year, it was clear that Birdie Tebbetts was slated to become the Tigers’ first string catcher.  Detroit was going to have to make a difficult personnel decision of some type if Rudy was going to remain with the club.

There was much speculation early in the offseason as to what that move would be.  It was widely reported that the Tigers were open to trading either Greenberg or York, and that Washington was still interested in acquiring either one.  The pundits also concluded that Detroit might well part with Greenberg instead of York, in part to rid itself of Hank’s high salary and to avoid the usual haggling with Greenberg on his salary for the following year.  The assumption was that the Tigers would ask Hank to take a cut in salary for 1940, a request Greenberg was likely to resist.  Now, the Tigers had some ammunition in their salary battle with Greenberg.  According to Sam Greene,

“…York has established himself as a long-distance hitter, regardless of the pitching, and this year he proved adequate at first base when called upon to substitute for Greenberg.   As a matter of fact, York’s work was a revelation, given the slip-shod performances he had previously given at third base and in the outfield.”[lxxxvi]

Greenberg could be replaced without sacrificing too much either at the plate or in the field; the Tigers might actually be better off if they could fill a hole in their starting rotation or the outfield by trading Greenberg.   By the time of the winter meeting in Cincinnati, however, Clark Griffith of the Senators was more interested in York, offering Cecil Travis in return.  A trade never materialized.  Reports of possible interest in Rudy from the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees also passed without any action being taken. The winter meetings came and went with both Greenberg and York still on the Tigers’ roster.  Other rumors coming out of the winter meetings loomed more ominously for the Tigers, however.

During much of 1939, Commissioner Landis, never a fan of the extended network of farm systems that teams had developed over the previous two decades, had been investigating the Tigers’ manipulation of player contracts in their minor league system in years past.  By the time of the winter meetings, rumors were rampant that the Commissioner would be announcing his decision soon, and that the Tigers were going to be severely penalized for improper activities.[lxxxvii]  Among the rumors was one that said Rudy, among others, was going to be declared a free agent.  If that should occur, he would be able to sell his services to any club he liked for whatever amount could be agreed upon.  Many speculated that Rudy might be able to get almost $100,000 on the open market; Washington Post baseball columnist Shirley Povich likened Landis to Rudy’s personal Santa Claus, and made a strong argument outlining the reasons why Rudy was likely to wind up in the Yankee fold.[lxxxviii]

The answer to Detroit’s first base dilemma came in late January 1940.  The solution no doubt emanated partly from Commissioner Landis’s much-anticipated decision in early January to penalize the Tigers for improper farm team player manipulations.  The Commissioner granted free agency to 91 players in the Tigers’ system.[lxxxix]  Rudy was not one of those affected by the ruling; evidently the Commissioner did not go back to 1934 when the Tigers shuttled Rudy back and forth between Beaumont and Fort Worth.  One of those granted free agency was Benny McCoy, who the Tigers had traded to the Athletics for outfielder Wally Moses during the winter meetings the previous month.  Landis’ decision had the effect of negating the trade, and the Tigers needed to find another solution to their long simmering problem of a lack of outfield punch.  With spring training staring them in the face, the Tigers announced that Greenberg had acquiesced to the Tigers’ request to try to learn to play the outfield; if he could make the transition successfully, the Tigers could move Rudy to first base and have both of their big guns in their lineup on a regular basis.  Greenberg promised to give it his best effort, and it was later revealed that the Tigers gave him a significant increase in salary in return for his willingness to change positions.[xc]

Detroit 1940 – 1945

Having finally shifted Greenberg to left field and installed Rudy at first, the Tigers fielded a very competitive team in 1940.  Led by Greenberg, York, Charlie Gehringer and Barney McCoskey at the plate, Bobo Newsom and a rejuvenated Schoolboy Rowe on the mound, the Tigers moved into first place on July 2 and clinched the AL pennant on September 27 with a 2-0 road win over Cleveland.  Rudy provided the winning blow in that game, a 4th inning 2-run homer off of Bob Feller, who for years afterwards complained it was a “cheap” wind-blown pop fly that just barely cleared the right field fence.  The Indians finished second in the pennant chase by just 1 game. For the season, Rudy hit .316 with 33 HR and 134 RBI and did not miss a single game.  The Tigers dropped the World Series to Cincinnati in 7 games, however.  Rudy finished eighth in the MVP voting. (Hank Greenberg won the MVP award in 1940.)

One wonders what the Tigers might have accomplished from 1937 – 1939 if the they had come to the realization earlier that first base was the only viable option for Rudy.  Besides helping lead Detroit to pennants in 1940 and 1945, after taking over at first base he was in the lineup almost every day during his last for 6 years with the Tigers.  In fact, from May 24, 1942 through July 30, 1942, Rudy held the active “iron man” title in the major leagues, playing in 422 consecutive games before the streak ended on July 31.[xci] Rudy played in at least 150 games each year from 1940 through 1947. He was never drafted into military service (he was rejected in April 1944 because of a “loose knee”) and was one of only 13 players in all of the majors to start each opening day game between 1941 and 1946.[xcii]  While his talent as a defensive first baseman is open to debate, on outward appearances his performance was certainly more than adequate.  Fans marveled at his one-handed grabs of throws from the other infielders, and he routinely was among the league leaders in putouts, assists and double plays as a first baseman.  In his years with the Tigers, his fielding percentage as a first baseman typically hovered around the .990 mark.[xciii]

Back home in Cartersville, Rudy and Violet’s last child, Blanche, was born in September 1940.  More than 60 years later she could still recall the times when some of her father’s teammates, most notably Hank Greenberg and Dizzy Trout, would stop by the house on the way to spring training.  Recalling one time when Greenberg spent the night with them, Blanche said “He slept in Joe’s bed.  The next morning I knocked on the bedroom door and opened the door to tell him breakfast was ready.  There were these two long legs dangling off my brother’s bed.  I closed the door as fast as I could.  It was the funniest thing I had ever seen.”[xciv]  She also remembered her mother

“…wouldn’t let Daddy whip the children.  She was afraid he would hurt us because his hands were so big.  One time, when I was 8 or 9, I left the yard when I wasn’t supposed to and went down to a girlfriend’s house a couple of houses away.  I didn’t go home when mother first called; I started home after she called a second time, and saw Daddy heading towards me.  He met me halfway with a switch he had taken from the bushes behind the house.  He swatted me all the way home. I kept trying to pull the bottom of my dress down to cover my legs.  I hated those bushes for years.  I swore I was going to burn them down.”[xcv]

Rudy had become a local legend in the Atco community, particularly among the children.  Atco native Grady Bryson Jr. remembered:

“Everybody called him ‘Big Rudy’ but I didn’t.  I called him Mr. York… (he) was my hero.  He was back home during the off season, and I think he had a Cadillac automobile.  When he came through Atco, it was like the President, you know.  Us kids would follow that car as he drove through  the village.  It was something else.”[xcvi]

Another Atco resident, Richard Jackson, fondly recalled “Baseball was everything.  We had Rudy York.  We used to watch him when he practiced.  He loved children and he’d say ‘Okay, boys, what porch do you want me to put it on?’  And he’d hit that ball and get it on that porch.”[xcvii]

The looming crisis associated with the war in Europe, and the United States’ eventual entry into the war, would have a tremendous effect on major league baseball.   Every team would be decimated by the loss of most of their top stars to military service.  The Tigers lost Hank Greenberg to military service early in the 1941 season before the United States even got into the war;  Charlie Gehringer slumped badly at the plate while Bobo Newsom and Schoolboy Rowe both regressed on the mound as the Tigers stumbled to a fifth place finish.  Rudy suffered a broken bone in his left wrist in mid-summer that went undiagnosed until August; he continued to play but the injury sapped the power from his bat for an extended period.  His batting average dropped to .259 in 1941, but he still managed to hit 27 home runs and drive in 111 runs.  His willingness to play with the injured wrist – he played in all 155 games in 1941 – took some of the sting out of what many observers considered to be a sub-par year.  The Tigers finished tied for fourth that year, 26 games behind the Yankees.

Heading into the 1942 season, Rudy had his first major contract squabble with the Tigers.  The Tigers, citing concerns over the war, wanted Rudy (and most of the other Tigers) to take a significant cut in salary, a demand that Rudy did not take kindly to given his willingness to play with a cracked wrist in 1941.[xcviii]  The salary dispute carried over to the beginning of spring training; reporting to camp without a contract, Rudy refused to accept their last “take it or leave it” offer, and the Tigers told him to stay away from the camp until he signed.  Rudy and his family ostensibly prepared to return to Cartersville; the parties finally came to an agreement before they embarked on their trip back home.   Rudy signed for $9,000, but a bonus clause would give Rudy the chance to earn an additional $5,000 if he drove in 100 runs that season.[xcix] Charlie Gehringer, whose was reaching the end of his career, served primarily as a pinch hitter at the beginning of 1942 but soon left to join the Navy.  With an anemic offense and weak starting pitching, the Tigers struggled all summer and finished in fifth place, costing manager Del Baker his job.  Rudy also fell short of his bonus goal; he finished with a .260 batting average, 21 home runs and 90 RBI.  When the season was over, Del Baker all but placed the blame on the Tigers’ poor record on Rudy and Barney McCoskey:

“I don’t mean to be putting the blame on two good guys, but it must have been plain to everybody last spring that if Barney and Rudy didn’t hit, we couldn’t go anywhere…. Barney was off about 30 points and Rudy about 50.  A club like ours couldn’t stand such slumps by its best two hitters and still win.”[c]

The Tigers replaced Del Baker with Steve O’Neill for the 1943 season.  By now, virtually every team in the major leagues felt the full effects of the war on their rosters.  Changes in the composition of the baseball put a stranglehold on offensive production early in the year.  Wartime restrictions forced the manufacturers of baseball to substitute a softer balata material for the cork in the center of the ball.  The softer balata and other changes in the glue used inside the ball caused the balls used early in the season to turn much harder than usual and had the effect of deadening the ball.  Rudy did not hit his first home run until May 9 in the Tigers’ fifteenth game of the season.  It was, in fact, the first home run hit by any Tiger that year.[ci]  By the end of May, Rudy was hitting just .235 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. His production steadily increased as the season progressed, although he still had just 13 homers by the end of July.  Then Rudy went on another of his August rampages, hitting 17 home runs that month (just one shy of the single-month record he had set in August 1937) on his way to his league leading 34 homers for the season.  “Daddy used to say ‘I could hit an aspirin out of the park in August’”[cii] recalled Joe York.  He also led the league with 118 RBI while hitting .271.  O’Neill got the team back over the .500 mark (78-76), but the Tigers again finished fifth in the standings.  Rudy finished third in the MVP voting.  His 34 homers represented 48.5% of the 70 home runs hit by the Tigers that year.

Ironically, while Rudy performed at reasonably high levels compared to overall league averages during the war years, he became the object of much scorn from the Tigers’ faithful.  Their displeasure began to show itself during the 1941 season, but the revelation that Rudy was playing with a broken hand allayed much of the fans’ criticism that year.  Recounting Rudy’s problem with the Detroit fans, H.G. Salinger noted in September 1943:

“York got away to a bad start (in 1943) and soon found himself in a severe slump.  He went from bad to worse….His fielding became as bad as his batting and he appeared to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown….The crowds at Briggs Stadium were ‘riding’ Rudy.  Few players in history have ever been ‘ridden’ harder.  The booed him from the time his name was announced in the starting lineup until the last man was out.  They booed him every time he came to bat, every time he went after a batted ball, every time he took a throw.  The razzing didn’t start this year.  The fans were ‘aboard’ York last season.  He took an unmerciful booing all through 1942, and the booing increased with the start of the present season.”[ciii]

Exactly what caused the fans’ discontent isn’t clear.  With Greenberg gone, perhaps they expected too much of Rudy now that he was the only true power threat in the lineup, and blamed him when he and the Tigers didn’t meet their expectations.  Perhaps they resented York’s holdout prior to the 1942 season, particularly given the perceived decline in his offensive production.  That, coupled with a slow start by Rudy and the general lack of firepower on the part of the Tigers in 1943, may have been the source of their wrath.  Perhaps they weren’t aware of the effect the new baseball had on offensive production in 1943, or of the general decline in offensive numbers throughout baseball during the war.  Salsinger, who covered the team for the Detroit News, came to Rudy’s defense in the summer of 1943, taking the Tiger fans to task for their behavior towards him.  Rudy, as Salsinger pointed out, had been a good citizen during his tenure with Detroit, despite his holdout in 1942.  He was a nice, generally quiet fellow.  He gave his best on the diamond, even if he hadn’t always been successful.  He had persevered patiently when he was being bounced around between third base, the outfield and catcher early in his career.  There was no doubt the fans’ treatment towards him was affecting his play.  How could they expect him to perform well when all he heard were catcalls and constant jeering?  Almost immediately, most fans’ reaction to Rudy changed, at least for a while, and that coincided with Rudy’s improvement at the plate in the last half of the season.

Things began to look up for the Tigers in 1944.  Starting pitchers Dizzy Trout and Hal Newhouser won 56 games between them. Rudy, third baseman Pinky Higgins, shortstop Doc Cramer and outfielder Dick Wakefield led an improved offense.  The Tigers went into the last game of the season tied for the league lead with the surprising St. Louis Browns.  The Tigers and Dizzy Trout lost their final game at Washington, while the Browns, powered by Chet Laabs’[civ] 2 home runs, defeated the Yankees to clinch their first and only AL pennant.   Rudy hit .276 with 18 homers and 98 RBI.  While his 18 homers represented a significant decline in that category from 1943, it was still good for a tie for third place in the American League.  Nick Etten led the league that year with just 22 home runs.

Rudy got off to another slow start in 1945 and the boo-birds came back. He didn’t hit his first home run of the season until the first game of a doubleheader on May 27. Arch Ward of the Chicago Daily Tribune noted:  “One of baseball’s unsolved mysteries is the booing Rudy York still receives from the Detroit fans….The Tigers certainly wouldn’t have been a pennant threat last season without Rudy’s big bat.”[cv]  Despite his slow start, the Tigers, behind outstanding pitching from Hal Newhouser, battled the Senators, Browns and Yankees for the league lead throughout the summer.  Buoyed by Hank Greenberg’s return to action on July 1, the Tigers built a 4 ½ game lead by mid-July and finally clinched the pennant on the last day of the season when Greenberg hit a grand slam in the top of the 9th inning of the first game of a scheduled doubleheader to beat St. Louis 6-3. For the season, Rudy hit .264 with 18 HR and 87 RBI; his18 home runs were good for a tie for 2nd place (with teammate Roy Cullenbine and the Yankees’ Nick Etten) in the American League, behind Vern Stephens’ 24 homers.   Hal Newhouser won his second straight MVP award, and the Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs 4 games to 3 in the World Series.

Looking ahead, the Tigers were faced with a problem for the 1946 season.  Hank Greenberg was back, but it was obvious his legs would no longer allow him to play in the outfield.  The Tigers also had a glut of outfielders returning to the team after their service in the war.  A move back to first base was inevitable for Greenberg, but that left the club with a decision on what to do about York.  York, it appeared to many, seemed to be slowing down. Justified or not, he had worn out his welcome with many of the Tiger fans.  The Tigers went to the winter meeting in December 1945 with the hope of trading him, but came away empty handed.   Manager O’Neill later lamented “Imagine that.  We didn’t get a decent offer for York.”[cvi]  The Tigers finally traded Rudy to the Red Sox for SS Eddie Lake in January 1946.

Boston 1946-‘47

Rudy performed poorly at the Red Sox spring training camp in 1946 and there was much consternation among the press that the trade with the Tigers was a bust. “The first base problem continues to go along without any signs of being solved” wrote Jack Malaney in early April.  “York has not appeared to advantage at all this spring.  He has been a total loss at the plate and he hasn’t even done well afield.  But Rudy never has done much in the spring…”[cvii]  When the regular season started, however, Rudy proved them all wrong and helped Boston get off to a 41-9 start, an all-time record for the best start to the season after 50 games.[cviii]  More importantly, the Red Sox had a 10-game lead on the Yankees by that point in the season and were never really threatened the rest of the way. Malaney noted in mid-July “Of inestimable value to the team play has been Rudy York.  The big Indian has been a team sparkplug.  His first base play has been unusually firm and his scooping up of low throws has saved many an error.  Rudy is the most enthusiastic of all the players….”[cix]  Rudy enjoyed the best single day of his career on July 27 in St. Louis when he hit two grand slams and drove in 10 runs against the Browns.  Boston would reach the one million mark in attendance for the first time in its history on August 16, while clinching the AL pennant on September 13 in Cleveland.  Earlier that week, Rudy learned that his father had passed away on September 7.[cx] After clinching the pennant, manager Joe Cronin sent many of his regulars back to Boston to get some rest for the postseason.  Rudy declined the opportunity to rest.  “I’m a 154-game man” he said.  Rudy finished the season with a .276 average, 17 HR and 119 RBI.   The Red Sox lost an exciting World Series to the Cardinals in seven games.  Ted Williams later said of Rudy:

“…He did an awful lot for our club that year.  He had more information about more pitchers in the league than anybody.  He was all the time stealing signs…(he) was a big, good-natured, easy-going Indian, but a powerful guy.  I wouldn’t have wanted him to get mad at me.”[cxi]

Rudy did get mad at Williams at least once in 1946.  Williams had shown a lack of hustle in the outfield one day and Rudy confronted him in the dugout.  “You’re going to stop that” he said to the temperamental left fielder; “This means something to the rest of us. You’re not going to do that anymore.”[cxii]  Former teammate Don Gutteridge said years later:

“Rudy was a good person to have in the clubhouse.  He was older, more experienced, a stabilizer.  He would talk to Williams, try to help Ted focus and get the most out of his talents, not just at the plate.  Rudy wasn’t part of the Boston clique.  He wasn’t with the team when Doerr, Pesky, DiMaggio and Williams were coming up together.  He was an outsider and that made it easier for him to scold Ted….Rudy didn’t get the credit he deserved for helping the Red Sox get the pennant.  The others got all of the attention.  But Rudy loved to hit at Fenway.”[cxiii]

In 1947, Rudy got off to the terribly slow start that everyone had feared in 1946.  Furthermore, there’s evidence that his fondness for alcohol may have begun to get the better of him.  He was pulled out of his burning room at the Miles Standish Hotel late on the evening of April 25; Rudy had “fallen asleep” with a lit cigarette in his hand and witnesses indicated the room was strewn with liquor bottles.  Some of his teammates took him away before too many people had a chance to witness his condition.[cxiv]  Rudy’s penchant for burning up hotel rooms this way a source of frequent comment from teammates and the press over the years.  Although the Boston incident is the only one that can be documented, Arch Ward noted a year earlier, “Rudy York’s Detroit roommates always wait to retire until he has fallen asleep.  He has a habit of dozing off with a lighted cigarette in his hand.”[cxv] Charlie Gehringer later noted “…He used to lead the league in burned-up mattresses…. I roomed with him for a year or two until I finally decided my chances were better in some other part of the hotel.”[cxvi]  Don Gutteridge claimed there were other incidents, possibly in Washington and/or Chicago, but he couldn’t remember any details.

For his part, Rudy claimed these stories were exaggerated.   Rudy played his last game for the Red Sox on June 13 against Chicago; batting just .212 at the time, he was traded to the White Sox for first baseman Jake Jones after the game. After a day off because of rain, Rudy faced his old teammates in a doubleheader loss at Fenway Park on June 15.  The trade looked even better to Red Sox fans when Jones hit home runs in both games, including a game-winning grand slam in the second contest.

When asked about Rudy’s drinking, Don Gutteridge acknowledged that Rudy enjoyed bending his elbow, but “…he never caused trouble intentionally.  Rudy would drink alone a lot of times in his room.  We had a lot of spare time, particularly on the road.  Rudy would drink and smoke and fall asleep, drop a cigarette and next thing you knew, you had a fire.”  Gutteridge indicated Rudy’s skills seemed to be deteriorating in 1947, possibly from the drinking, and, in his opinion, that probably led to the trade.  Still, “Rudy had a good personality; he was easy to get along with….He was a nice, quiet man.”[cxvii]

Playing Out the String

Rudy hit a little better after joining the White Sox and finished the season with an average of .243, 21 HR and 91 RBI.  He hit what turned out to be his last major league home run on September 18 against Spec Shea in a 3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium.  The White Sox finished sixth that year with a record of 70-84.  He was released by the White Sox in January 1947.

Connie Mack signed Rudy for the 1948 season as an insurance policy for Ferris Fain, the Athletics’ incumbent first baseman who was suffering from knee problems.  Mack had coveted Rudy at various times over the course of his career but had never been able to make a trade for the big first baseman.  “Daddy said Connie Mack was one of the most genuine gentlemen he had ever met,” recalled Joe York.  Fain, however, was able to play through the pain most of the year and Rudy managed just 8 hits – all singles – in 51 official at-bats.  He made just two plate appearances after July 31, both as a pinch-hitter.  Again, there were hushed rumors that Rudy was not taking care of himself; Mack later expressed great disappointment at York’s inability to help the club that year.  Rudy was released at the end of the season.  His major league career came to an end at the age of 35.  What extent alcohol played a role in his early exit from the major leagues is unclear; Joe York indicated he wasn’t sure the alcohol was the reason; instead, it may have just been the result of diminished skills that come with getting older.[cxviii]  Several years later, however, Rudy conceded that his drinking probably cost him two or three years in the majors, and he warned Joe “Leave that liquor alone.”[cxix]  He reminded Joe that because of their Native American heritage, people would be quick to stereotype him.  “All an Indian has to do is be seen drinking a beer and he’s drunk.”[cxx]  He also warned Joe to save his money.  Rudy estimated that he had earned over a quarter of a million dollars playing baseball, and he had spent every dime he made.  He grew up poor, and when he had money he wanted to give himself and his family everything they wanted.  In the end, all he had to show for his career was the house they were living in.

So often we summarize a player’s career by looking at “the numbers.”  The numbers for Rudy show he finished with a .275 career batting average, 277 home runs, 1152 RBI and a .845 OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) in 1,603 games played across 13 seasons, although he only had 11 seasons in which he played at least 100 games.  He finished in the top ten in the American League in home runs each season from 1937 through 1947, and finished in the top ten in RBI in each of those seasons with the exceptions of 1937 and 1939. 

World Series Play

Rudy was fortunate to play[cxxi] in three World Series: 1940 and 1945 with Detroit, and in 1946 with Boston.  He hit a 2-run home run to help the Tigers win Game 3 of the 1940 Series (his only RBI of the Series), but hit just .231 overall as the Tigers dropped the Series to Cincinnati in seven games.  Detroit won the 1945 Series in seven games over the Cubs behind the hitting of Hank Greenberg and Doc Cramer, and the pitching of Hal Newhouser.  Rudy had just 5 hits in the Series; his single in the third inning of Game 3 was the only hit surrendered by Claude Passeau that day.  Rudy acquitted himself much better at the plate in the 1946 Series; his tenth-inning home run won Game 1 for the Sox while his 3-run home run in the first inning of Game 3 gave the Red Sox an early lead that they would never surrender.  The Red Sox lost Game 7, and the Series, on Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” scoring play from first in the eighth inning.  Rudy finished the Series with a .261 average, 2 HR and 5 RBI.   Back home in Cartersville after the Series, a banquet was held in Rudy’s honor.  Among the attendees were teammates Jim Bagby and Leon Culbertson, and the White Sox’s Luke Appling.

All-Star Competition

Rudy was named to the All-Star team 7 times (’38, ’41-’44, ’46 – ’47), although he only played in five of those games.  He was the starting first baseman in 1941 and 1942.  His All-Star highlight came in 1942 when he hit a 2-run home run in the first inning off of Mort Cooper in the Polo Grounds.  His homer would prove to be the winning blow in a 3-1 AL victory.  For his All-Star career, Rudy had 4 hits in 13 at-bats.  The 1942 homer and 2 RBI were the only ones he had in All-Star play.

Post-Major League Career 

In 1949, Rudy made a few appearances in the Northwest Georgia Textile League before he was hired in June to take over as player-manager for the Griffin (GA) Tigers of the Georgia-Alabama League.  Griffin, mired in a 1-14 slump before Rudy arrived, went on to lose Rudy’s first seven games before turning things around and starting a seven-game winning streak on June 24.  Overall, Griffin went 17-21 under Rudy and was still mired in last place when he was fired on July 28.

Rudy quickly caught on as player-manager with the Union City Greyhounds of the Kitty League.  Union City was in fifth place with at 44-45 record when Rudy took the helm on August 5; Rudy led them to a 21-15 mark to end the season but they still missed the playoffs by 3 games.

Rudy was out of baseball completely in 1950.  Little is known about what he was doing that year, except that he spent it in Cartersville.  Rudy liked to hunt and fish, and he had a farm on the outskirts of town that he surely tended to.  Joe York remembered “We hunted sometimes.  I never did go fishing with him very much because I always had to row the boat.”[cxxii]

Hank Greenberg, who was the general manager of the Cleveland Indians at the time, later recalled that he received a call from Violet York at some point after Rudy’s retirement.  Violet reportedly told Hank that Rudy had nothing to do and was drinking too much, and she asked Hank to help Rudy find a job.[cxxiii]  Greenberg invited Rudy to the Indians’ spring training facility in 1951 where he helped the younger minor leaguers with batting tips.  Rudy joined the Youngstown Athletics of the Mid-Atlantic League as a player-coach in early May; he replaced Mike Garbark as Youngstown’s manager on May 21.  Five days later, team owner Bill Koval announced the team was relocating to Oil City, Pennsylvania.  Oil City lost its first 12 games with Rudy as manager and by early August Koval was in dire financial difficulties. Under the threat that the team would fold unless local support improved dramatically, Koval sponsored a free-admission night on August 3 and simply asked the attendees to donate whatever amount they could to show their support for the team.  Fewer than 200 people – a smaller crowd than usual – showed up for the game.[cxxiv]  The team ceased operations after its August 6 doubleheader.  Closing out with a 13 game losing streak, Rudy’s overall managerial record with Youngstown/Oil City was 19-64.  Rudy, however, had been having a tremendous year at the plate.  By the time Oil City folded, Rudy was approaching the league’s single-season record for home runs. He was signed by the New Castle club on August 13 but fell short of setting a new record, although he did lead the league in homers. Official statistics indicate Rudy batted .291 with 34 home runs and 107 RBI for the season.  There was some speculation that the Cleveland club would activate Rudy for the month of September, but that never happened.

In 1952, Rudy signed to play with the Benson-DeGraff Irish Chiefs, a semi-pro team in the West Central League, which was part of an extensive network of amateur and semi-pro teams in Minnesota.   He did nothing to distinguish himself and was released after just a couple of weeks amid whispers that his comportment left something to be desired.  He hooked up with the St. James Saints of the Western Minnesota League where he finished the season without incident.[cxxv]

Rudy was out of baseball again in 1953, when he took a job in the Cartersville office of the Georgia Forestry Commission.  By that time his son, Joe, was playing for the Cartersville High School baseball team.   Joe York recalled that his father  “…watched our games and sometimes he even umpired our high school baseball games.  I remember one time Daddy called a strike on me and it was outside and I said ‘Daddy, I couldn’t have hit that if I had swung at it’ and he said ‘You didn’t swing at it, so you don’t know.’”[cxxvi]   Joe also recalled:

“When I was in school, I thought I was good enough to play….Daddy told people, and he later told me, ‘Joe is good, but I don’t think he’s good enough.  He could bum around the minor leagues for six or eight years and then quit.  I don’t really believe he’s good enough to play up there.’  And I know it must have hurt Daddy to say that, to have to admit it, to say it out loud….I cried when I realized the scouts weren’t coming to me to talk about playing.  Daddy told me…I could have gotten a scholarship to play at Georgia Tech or Georgia.  But I couldn’t have passed the grades at any one of those places.  I barely made it out of high school.”[cxxvii]

Joe worked as a sheet metal worker immediately after high school.  He later felt a calling to serve the Lord and attended Erskine College in South Carolina and seminary in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. He pastored at several churches and served as a missionary all over the world.  “I’ve been chased by bandits in Bulgaria; I was in an earthquake in Greece.  So it’s been kind of exciting.”

By 1956, Rudy was working for the New York Yankees as an advance scout. During his time in the majors, Rudy acquired a much-deserved reputation as a student of opposing pitchers.  Del Baker, his coach and manager in Detroit, was one of the best the game had ever seen at reading pitchers and stealing signs, and reportedly tipped off upcoming pitches to Rudy and Hank Greenberg on a frequent basis.  Rudy was equally adept at such skills.  Rudy continued as a Yankee advance scout until June 1957[cxxviii], when he was hired to manage the North Platte club in the short-season rookie-level Nebraska State League.  North Platte finished with the worst record in the league at 11-45.  Despite the poor record, North Platte fans hosted a night in Rudy’s honor on August 25.[cxxix]

Rudy rejoined the Red Sox organization in 1958 as a hitting instructor for the Memphis Chicks.  The following year, he was hired by Boston to serve as first-base coach under manager Pinky Higgins.  When Higgins was fired by the Sox in 1959 after a July 2 loss to the Senators, Rudy served as manager for the July 3rd game in Baltimore, won by the Orioles by a 6-1 score.  The folks back home in Cartersville were excited for Rudy; when asked about Rudy’s “promotion,” Violet York said “Naturally, I am thrilled to death – I know Rudy can do the managing job – and let’s hope it will be on a permanent basis, for he certainly deserves this fine turn of good luck.”[cxxx] Of course, the promotion was extremely short-lived.  Billy Jurges took over as permanent manager the next day.  During his time with the Red Sox, Rudy would kid a young Carl Yastrzemski by telling him that his (Rudy’s) daughter Blanche was a better ballplayer than Carl was.  When Rudy finally got the chance to introduce Blanche to Yastrzemski, the first thing Yastrzemski said was “Are you the one who is a better ballplayer than me?!”[cxxxi]  Rudy stayed with the Red Sox through the 1962 season, after which he was fired when Johnny Pesky was hired to manage the team in ’63.  Rudy served as a coach for the Eastern League’s Reading Red Sox in 1964 under manager Eddie Popowski.  In 1965 Rudy was a coach for the Statesville, NC Colts in the Western Carolina League and took over as manager in June when Dave Philley was sent to the Florida Instructional League to work with the Colt .45s’ minor league rookies.[cxxxii]  Statesville finished the season in seventh place, 18 games out.  It was Rudy’s last job in professional baseball. 

Rudy lived the rest of his life in Cartersville, working as a self-employed house painter. Lung cancer led to the removal of part of a lung in November 1969.  After an initial recovery, Rudy developed pneumonia and died in the hospital in Rome, Georgia on February 5, 1970.  He is buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens in Cartersville, just across from the entrance to the Etowah Indian Mounds.  He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1972, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.  The baseball field in the Atco community of Cartersville is named in his honor; a monument with a commemorative plaque stands next to the ball field.

Also see article on Kingston’s Rap Dixon, Negro League



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Jack Malaney, “’Stop Williams’ Tactics Rudely Jolted by Rudy,” The Sporting News, August 8, 1946, p7.

Paul Mickelson, “Detroit Looks Stronger Than Ever This Season,” Milwaukee Journal, March 19, 1936, p8.

Bob Murphy, “Heard on the Sportrola,” The Knoxville Journal, May 1, 1933, p5.

Shirley Povich, “This Morning,” The Washington Post, December 25, 1939, p14.

H.G. Salsinger, “Bengal Infield, as It Stands, Lacks Strength, Despite Efforts of Bartell in Sparkplug Role,” The Sporting News, April 4, 1940, p1.

H.G. Salsinger, “Boots is ‘Done Dirt’ by Friends and Foes,” Detroit News, July 2, 1937, p21.

H.G. Salsinger, “Boy Pitchers Silence Bats,” Detroit News, July 12, 1937, p17.

H.G. Salsinger, “Coffman Checks Cleveland Batters and Tigers Win,” Detroit News, July 4, 1937, “Sports” p1.

H.G. Salsinger, “Detroit’s Infield Gains in Hit Crop That Garden Lacks,” The Sporting News, 1939,

H.G. Salsinger, “It’s Sink or Swim for York, Wilburn – Each to Get Full Chance,” Detroit News, March 17, 1937, p25.

H.G. Salsinger, “One for Psychologists: Why Do Fans Ride York?” The Sporting News, September 2, 1943 p5.

H.G. Salsinger, “The Umpire,” Detroit News, April 21, 1937, p25.

H.G. Salsinger, “Tigers Stronger Than Last Year, If Greenberg Stays, But Cannot Count On Three Rivals Collapsing Again,” The Sporting News, April 3, 1941, p3.

H.G. Salsinger, “York May Not Know All Answers, But He CAN Catch,” Detroit News, August 7, 1937, p12.

Bill Scurlock, “York Verdict Will Not Be Appealed,” Beaumont Journal, “Tiny Talks”, August 15, 1934, p11.

Watson Spoelstra, “Stellar Outfield in Tiger Plans,” The Sporting News, December 20, 1945, p11.

Jack Troy, “Rudy York Balks at Detroit Terms,” Atlanta Constitution, January 17, 1937, “Sports” p1.

Arch Ward, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Daily-Tribune, August 12, 1938, p21.

Arch Ward, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 1, 1945, p17.

Arch Ward, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1945, p29.

Charles P. Ward, “A Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, October 10, 1933, “Sports” p1.

Charles P. Ward, “A Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, December 21, 1936, p16.

Charles P. Ward, “A Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, February 1, 1937, p14.

Charles P. Ward, “A Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, August 6, 1937 p17.

Charles P. Ward, “A Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, August 8, 1937, “Sports” p1.

Charles P. Ward, “Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, September 16, 1937, p21.

Charles P. Ward, “Cochrane, His Catching Career Measured, Prepares for Fateful Day,” Detroit Free Press, October 11, 1935, p21.

Charles P. Ward, “Lawson’s First Defeat Drops Tigers to Fourth,” Detroit Free Press, May 12, 1937, p17.

Charles P. Ward, “Rookie Class of 1936 Looks Good To Tigers,” Detroit Free Press, February 27, 1936, p17.

Charles P. Ward, “Rudy York Is Not Worried Over Choice At First Base,” Detroit Free Press, March 9, 1936, p15.

Charles P. Ward, “White Sox Rally Shoves Tigers Back Into Fourth Place,” Detroit  Free Press, August 11, 1937, p15.

Charles P. Ward, “York Shows Slugging Skill in Initial Practice Game,” Detroit Free Press, March 3, 1936, p15.

Rudy York, “A Letter to My Son,” Sport, September, 1954.

“4 Clubs Fined for Concealing Contracts,” The Washington Post, November 30, 1939, p23.

“Adios, Boys,” Bartow Tribune-News, April 20, 1933, “Sports” p1.

“All Eyes on Rudy York: He May Not Be Another Ruth, but He’s Got the Makings,” Newsweek, April 18, 1938, p26.

“Atco Completed Season Saturday, Defeated Gadsden,” Bartow Tribune-News, October 2, 1930.

“Atco Gets Even Break In Games With Anchor Duck,” Bartow Tribune-News, July 23, 1931.

“Babe Ruth Sees York, DiMaggio as Successors; Atco Slugger Socks Homers at Dizzy Rate,” Atlanta Constitution, August 29, 1937, p28.

“Baseball Season to Open Here Thursday Afternoon,” Albany Herald, June 6, 1933, p6.

“Boots and Bingles,” Milwaukee Journal, September 8, 1936, p7.

“Cedartown Nosed Out Atco 8 to 7; Game Saturday,” Bartow Tribune-News, June 11, 1931.

“Exporter Batterymen Are Due Monday,” Beaumont Journal, March 2, 1935, p15.

“Exporters Have Four Catchers: Rudolph York and Mike Tresh to Do Most of Catching,” Beaumont Journal, April 16, 1934, p16.

“Exporter Hurlers and Catchers Get Lots of Exercise,” Beaumont Journal, March 14, 1934, p11.

“Fort Worth Panthers Turn Loose 11-Run Attack in Seventh to Beat Indians: Record Homer by York Starts Prattmen Rally,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 1, 1934, p10.

“Goodyear Opens Season Saturday; Plays Trion Team,” Bartow Tribune-News, April 17, 1930.

“Iffy…the Dopester rises to remark…,” Detroit Free Press, May 3 1936, “Sports” p2.

“Landis Lays Down Law for Farms, Working Agreements; Detroit Loses Title to 91 Players, Must Pay 15 Others,” The Sporting News, January 18, 1940, p1.

“League Leaders to Play Two Games Here; Holt to Hurl for Redskins, Koneman to Rebuild Club,” Albany Herald, June 26, 1933, p6.

“Minor League Highlights: Class D,” Sporting News, September 4, 1957, p42.

“O.C. Ball Club Folds After Disastrous Year,” Oil City Derrick, August 4, 1951, p1.

“Pitcher-Fielder Rudolph York Added to Shreveport’s Roster,” Sporting News, July 6, 1933, p3.

“Red Sox Set Early Record by Winning 41 of First 50,” The Sporting News, June 26, 1946, p4.

“Rudolph York Called To Detroit,” Bartow Tribune-News, August 23, 1934, “Sports” p1.

“Rudy York: Greatest Slugger Since Babe Ruth?” Newsweek, April 18, 1938.

“Rudy York Mainstay of Catching Staff,” Beaumont Journal, April 9, 1935, p12.

“Rudy York Managing Boston’s Red Sox,” Daily Tribune News, July 3, 1959, p1.

“Rudy York Plays for Two Weeks with Broken Wrist,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 25, 1941, p22.

“Rudy York Signs for $9,000 and a $5,000 Bonus,” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 12, 1942, p19.

“Texas Home Run Ace Surprised at Reception,” Detroit Free Press, August 19, 1934, “Sports” p2.

“Textile League Season Opens Saturday,” Bartow Tribune-News, March 30, 1933, “Sports” p1.

“This Man York,” Bartow Tribune-News, April 6, 1933, “Sports” p1.

“Tresh Joins Shippers in Houston,” Beaumont Journal, August 1, 1933, p10.

“Where Have You Gone…..Rudy York?” Sport, November 1969.

“York and White to Start, Mike’s Plan,” Detroit News, April 19, 1937, p18.

“York, DiMaggio Called Best of Spring Recruits,” Milwaukee Journal, March 24, 1936, p6.

“York Making Good On Knoxville Club: ATCO Idol Made Lineup Monday; Gets Good Start,” Bartow Tribune-News, May 4, 1933, “Sports” p1.

“York Rescued in Blaze, Laid to ‘Smoking in Bed’,” The Sporting News, May 7, 1947, p9.

Albany Herald (June 1933)

Atlanta Constitution (1934 – 1970)

Bartow Tribune-News (1929 – 1971)

Beaumont Enterprise (1933-1935)

Beaumont Journal (1933 – 1935)

Detroit Free Press (August 1933 – December 1945)

Detroit News (August 1933 – December 1945)

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (May – July 1934)

Griffin Daily News (June – August 1949)

Jackson Clarion-Ledger (July 1933)

Knoxville Journal (April – May 1933)

Memphis Commercial Appeal (May 1933)

Milwaukee Journal (February – October 1936)

New Castle News (July – August 1951)

New York Times (1933 – 1970)

Oil City Derrick (June – August 1951)

Rome News-Tribune (1929 – 1933)

Shreveport Times (July 1933)

Statesville Record and Landmark (June – August 1964)

St.James Courier (July – August 1952)

Swift County News (May – June 1952)

The Sporting News (July 1933 – March 1970)

Youngstown Vindicator (May 1951)



Roy Bethune,  interviewed by Trey Gaines on March 23, 2004 for the Bartow History Center Oral History Project.  Transcript on file at Bartow History Center, Cartersville, Ga.

Grady W. Bryson, interviewed by Sandy Moore on July 22, 2004 for the Bartow History Center Oral History Project.  Transcript on file at Bartow History Center, Cartersville, Ga.

Richard Jackson,  interviewed by Trey Gaines on November 4, 2004 for the Bartow History Center Oral History Project.  Transcript on file at Bartow History Center, Cartersville, Ga.

Marshall Johnson, “Rudy York”. Two-page note with recollections of Rudy by former teammate in Albany, Georgia.  On file at Bartow History Center, Cartersville, GA.

National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, Cooperstown, NY, Rudy York file

US Census Bureau, 1900, 1910 & 1930 US Census.

 Personal Correspondence

Don Gutteridge, telephone interview with author,  July 2007.

Blanche York Caswell, personal interview with author, November 18, 2004.

Annette Spinks, personal conversations and e-mail correspondence, 2006 – 2010.

Joe York, personal interview with author, October 14, 2004.

[i] When using his full name, most stories about Rudy erroneously refer to him as “Rudolph Preston York.”  “Preston” was, in fact, his first name.  His death certificate lists him as Preston Rudolph York; the 1920 Census, the first one taken after Rudy’s birth, refers to him as “Preston,” and Rudy’s son, Joe York, confirmed that his father’s first name was Preston.

[ii] Annette Spinks, Rudy’s niece, told the author that the family history says Arthur returned to Georgia from Ragland without Beulah and the children, leaving Beulah to get back to Georgia as best she could.  According to Mrs. Spinks, Beulah was pregnant with her mother, Bonnie, at the time.  Bonnie was born in 1916.

[iii] Lavis York had a brief minor league career after World War II.  He was alternatively referred to as “Louis” “Lewis” or “Lew” in the press, although his family and friends knew him as “Snooks.”  Lavis’s son, Gary, was signed by the Phillie organization in 1965 and played several years in their minor league system.   According to Joe York, Gary later worked as a scout for the Chicago Cubs. On, Gary is listed under “Lavis G. York,” while his father is listed under “Lewis York.”

[iv] Author interview with Joe York, October 4, 2004.

[v] Interview with Roy Bethune, March 23, 2004.  Interviewed by Trey Gaines for the Bartow History Center Oral History Project.  Transcript on file at the Bartow History Center.

[vi] Author interview with Joe York.

[vii] After the purchase, the village continued to be called “Atco.”  Future references to the baseball team in the local press often referred to the team as “Atco”; however, sometimes it was referred to as “Goodyear”.

[viii] “Goodyear Opens Season Saturday; Plays Trion Team,” Bartow Tribune-News, April 17, 1930.

[ix] “Atco Completed Season Saturday, Defeated Gadsden,” Bartow Tribune-News, October 2, 1930.

[x] “Cedartown Nosed Out Atco 8 to 7; Game Saturday,” Bartow Tribune-News, June 11, 1931.

[xi] “Atco Gets Even Break In Games With Anchor Duck,” Bartow Tribune-News, July 23, 1931.

[xii] Marriage license on file with Bartow County, Georgia.  Various articles and other sources over the years have mistakenly identified the year of marriage as 1930 or 1932.

[xiii] Teams in Gadsden and Huntsville, Alabama, have been mentioned as possibilities.  The author has not been able to verify these claims.  Certainly, he never played in any official league games at that time.

[xiv] “Textile League Season Opens Saturday,” Bartow Tribune-News, March 30 1933, “Sports” p1.

[xv] “This Man York,” Bartow Tribune-News, April 6 1933, “Sports” p1.

[xvi] “Adios, Boys,” Bartow Tribune-News, April 20 1933, “Sports” p1.

[xvii] Bob Murphy, “Heard on the Sportrola,”  The Knoxville Journal, May 1 1933, p5.

[xviii] “York Making Good On Knoxville Club: ATCO Idol Made Lineup Monday; Gets Good Start,” Bartow Tribune-News, May 4 1933, p1 of Sports Section.

[xix] Recollections of Rudy York by Marshall Johnson, a two-page essay on file at the Bartow History Center, Cartersville, Georgia.  A line score in the Atlanta Constitution verifies Mr. Johnson’s recollections.  Rudy did hit a home run in Barnesville that day; the line score also indicates he pitched in relief (but not well.)  The line score makes no mention of the distance of the home run, however.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] “Pitcher-Fielder Rudolph York Added to Shreveport’s Roster,” The Sporting News, July 6 1933, p3.

[xxii] He was mistakenly identified as “Bobby York” in the Beaumont paper the next day; see “Tresh Joins Shippers in Houston,” Beaumont Journal, August 1, 1933, p10.

[xxiii] “Exporter Hurlers and Catchers Get Lots of Exercise,” Beaumont Journal, March 14 1934, p11.

[xxiv] “Exporters Have Four Catchers: Rudolph York and Mike Tresh to Do Most of Catching,” Beaumont Journal, April 16 1934, p16.

[xxv] “Fort Worth Panthers Turn Loose 11-Run Attack in Seventh to Beat Indians: Record Homer by York Starts Prattmen Rally,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 1 1934, p10.

[xxvi] Bill Scurlock, “York Verdict Will Not Be Appealed,” in “Tiny Talks,” Beaumont Journal, August 15 1934, p11.  The Journal provided daily updates on York’s status between August 11 and August 15.

[xxvii] “Rudolph York Called To Detroit,” Bartow Tribune-News, August 23 1934, “Sports” p1.

[xxviii] “Texas Home Run Ace Surprised at Reception,” Detroit Free Press, August 19 1934, “Sports” p2.

[xxix] Sam Greene, “York Will Join Detroit Today,” Detroit News, August 19 1934, p3.

[xxx] Ibid.

[xxxi] See footnote 28.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Greene, p3.

[xxxiv] “Exporter Batterymen Are Due Monday,” Beaumont Journal, March 2, 1935, p15.

[xxxv] “Rudy York Mainstay of Catching Staff,” Beaumont Journal, April 9, 1935, p12.

[xxxvi] Charles P. Ward, “Rookie Class of 1936 Looks Good To Tigers,” Detroit Free Press, February 27 1936, p17.

[xxxvii] Charles P. Ward, “York Shows Slugging Skill in Initial Practice Game,” Detroit Free Press, March 3 1936, p15.

[xxxviii] Paul Mickelson, “Detroit Looks Stronger Than Ever This Season,” Milwaukee Journal, March 19 1936, p8.

[xxxix] “York, DiMaggio Called Best of Spring Recruits,” Milwaukee Journal, March 24 1936, p6.

[xl] W. W. Edgar, “Hank, Bengals Differ $10,000,” Detroit Free Press, March 10, 1936, p15.

[xli] Charles P. Ward, “Rudy York Is Not Worried Over Choice At First Base,” Detroit Free Press, March 9 1936, p15.

[xlii] Sam Levy, “Pressnell Cuts Weight; Luke Hamlin Gains,” Milwaukee Journal, March 6 1936, p8.

[xliii] Sam Levy, “Brewers Loom As Certain Contenders in American Association,” Milwaukee Journal, April 12 1936, p2 of Sports Section.

[xliv] R. G. Lynch, “Heinie Hasn’t Given Up As No. 1 Fan,” Milwaukee Journal, “Maybe I’m Wrong,” April 28 1938, p6.

[xlv] “Iffy…the Dopester rises to remark…,” Detroit Free Press, May 3 1936, p2 of Sports Section.

[xlvi] Later stories suggest that Rudy was not recalled from Milwaukee after Greenberg was injured because the Tiger owners had promised Bendinger that they would leave Rudy and power-hitting outfielder Chester Laabs in Milwaukee for the entire year.  Milwaukee was without a major league affiliation heading into the 1935 season, and Detroit agreed to have Milwaukee as their top farm team that season if Milwaukee would turn over the rights to Laabs to the Detroit system.  In exchange for the rights to Laabs, the Tigers supposedly agreed to leave York and Laabs in Milwaukee.  See Charles P. Ward, “A Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, December 21 1936, p16.

[xlvii] Sam Levy, “Tigers-Browns Deal Lays Fears for York’s Recall,” Milwaukee Journal, April 30 1936, p2.

[xlviii] Sam Levy, “York To Be Growling Tiger Next Season,” Milwaukee Journal, August 5 1936, p3.

[xlix] Sam Levy, “Millers Watch Laabs, York in Practise,” Milwaukee Journal, “Sports Chatter”, August 25, 1936, p5.  Spelling error in headline is original.

[l] “Boots and Bingles,” Milwaukee Journal, September 8 1936, p7.

[li] R.G. Lynch, “Not Only a Winner, but a Colorful Ballclub,” Milwaukee Journal, “Maybe I’m Wrong,” August 30 1936, p3.

[lii] Sam Levy, “Laabs and York – Two Iron Men of the League,” Milwaukee Journal, “Sports Chatter”, September 9 1936, p7.

[liii] Doc Holst, “Greenberg Declares Wrist Fully Healed and That He’ll Play First,” Detroit Free Press, November 18 1936, p25.

[liv] Charles P. Ward, “Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, February 1 1937, p14.

[lv] W.W. Edgar, “Rudy York Takes Field Today to Fight for Greenberg’s Job,” Detroit Free Press, March 12 1937, p21.

[lvi] See endnote 54.

[lvii] W.W. Edgar, “Mickey Ready to Shift Team to Add Power,” Detroit Free Press, March 5 1937, p25.

[lviii] W.W. Edgar, “Tigers Praying for a Rookie to Uncover Stuff,” Detroit Free Press, March 31 1937, p17.

[lix] H.G. Salsinger, “It’s Sink or Swim for York, Wilburn – Each to Get Full Chance,” Detroit News, March 17 1937, p25.

[lx] W.W. Edgar, “Croucher May Go to Toledo to Try Luck at Shortstop,” Detroit Free Press, March 31, 1937, p18.

[lxi] “York and White to Start, Mike’s Plan,” Detroit News, April 19, 1937, p18.

[lxii] Doc Holst, “38,200 See Tigers Beat Indians, 4-3, in Season Opener,” Detroit Free Press, April 21 1937, p1.

[lxiii] H.G. Salsinger, “The Umpire,” Detroit News, April 21, 1937, p25.

[lxiv] Charles P. Ward, “Lawson’s First Defeat Drops Tigers to Fourth,” Detroit Free Press, May 12, 1937, p17.

[lxv] Coach Del Baker took over as interim manager after Cochrane was hurt; Baker had to leave the team for several days in mid-June, however, when his sister became critically ill.

[lxvi] H.G. Salsinger, “Boots is ‘Done Dirt’ by Friends and Foes,” Detroit News, July 2 1937, p21.

[lxvii] H.G. Salsinger, “Coffman Checks Cleveland Batters and Tigers Win,” Detroit News, July 4 1937, “Sports” p1.

[lxviii] Sam Greene, “Lawson’s Pitching Overshadows York’s Homer On Baker’s Scale of Values,” Detroit News, “Close Ups,” July 6 1937, p23.

[lxix] H.G. Salsinger, “Boy Pitchers Silence Bats,” Detroit News, July 12 1937, p17.

[lxx] Charles P. Ward, “Cochrane, His Catching Career Measured, Prepares for Fateful Day,” Detroit Free Press, October 11, 1935, p21.

[lxxi] For a more complete summary of Rudy’s home run barrage, see Tom Hufford’s “The Big Gun of August,” The Baseball Research Journal, 1975.

[lxxii] Doc Holst, “York’s Two Homers Break Ruth’s Mark for Month,” Detroit Free Press, September 1 1937, p19.

[lxxiii] Charles P. Ward, “Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, August 6, 1937 p17.

[lxxiv] Charles P. Ward, “Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, August 8 1937, p1 Sports.

[lxxv] H.G. Salsinger, “York May Not Know All Answers, But He CAN Catch,” Detroit News, August 7 1937, p12.

[lxxvi] Charles P. Ward, “White Sox Rally Shoves Tigers Back Into Fourth Place,” Detroit  Free Press, August 11 1937, p15.

[lxxvii] Sam Greene, “York’s Bat Supplies ‘Fireworks’ For His Birthday Celebration,” Detroit News, August 18, 1937, p23.

[lxxviii] Charles P. Ward, “Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, September 16, 1937, p21.

[lxxix] Charles P. Ward, “Ward to the Wise,” Detroit Free Press, October 10, 1933, Sports p1.

[lxxx] Sam Greene, “Cochrane Faces His Hardest Tiger Test,” The Sporting News, January 1, 1938, p5.

[lxxxi] Newsweek, April 18, 1938.

[lxxxii] Sam Greene, “York Gives Power Twist to Tiger Tale,” The Sporting News, June 30 1938, p14.

[lxxxiii] Arch Ward, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Daily-Tribune, August 12, 1938, p21.  According to Sam Greene, Cochrane told his players two weeks before he was fired that fines were going to be handed out for missing signs at the plate, but Hank and Rudy’s names were never mentioned as targets of his wrath. See Greene’s “Cochrane Flashes Dollar Sign on Signals Fumbled by Tigers,” The Sporting News, July 21, 1938, p1.

[lxxxiv] Prior to Rudy, only Frank Schulte, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig had hit 4 grand slams in a single season.  Their record was broken by Ernie Banks who hit 5 in 1955.  The current record of 6 is shared by Don Mattingly (1987) and Travis Hafner (2006).  See The SABR Baseball List and Record Book (New York, Scribner, 2007, p158).

[lxxxv] H. G. Salsinger, “Detroit’s Infield Gains in Hit Crop That Garden Lacks,” The Sporting News,    1939,

[lxxxvi] Sam Greene, “Greenberg Trading Up to Greenbacks,” The Sporting News, October 26 1939, p1.

[lxxxvii] Two years earlier, Landis had severely punished the St. Louis Cardinals for minor league transgressions, and other teams had been given smaller penalties in recent years for not following the rules regarding player contracts.

[lxxxviii] Shirley Povich, “This Morning,” The Washington Post, December 25, 1939, p14.

[lxxxix] “Landis Lays Down Law For Farms, Working Agreements; Detroit Loses Title to 91 Players, Must Pay 15 Others,” The Sporting News, January 18, 1940, p1.

[xc] Most sources indicate Greenberg received a $10,000 salary boost for moving to the outfield, but a figure of $15,000 also has been cited by some.

[xci] L. Robert Davids, “Fox, Ashburn Skeins Brief in Comparison With Stan’s,” The Sporting News, June 19, 1957, p6.

[xcii] Clifford Kachline, “Prewar Flavor in Opening Lineups,” The Sporting News, April 18, 1946, p4.

[xciii] Of course, sabermetricians will argue that traditional fielding statistics are extremely limited in their ability to identify truly good fielders, and to a large extent they are correct.  Newer, more sophisticated measures of fielding ability tend to characterize Rudy as an average first baseman at best.

[xciv] Author interview with Blanche York Caswell.

[xcv] Ibid.

[xcvi] Grady W. Bryson Jr.  Interviewed by Sandy Moore on July 7, 2004 for the Bartow History Center Oral History Project.   Transcript on file at the Bartow History Museum, Cartersville, Georgia.

[xcvii] Richard Jackson. Interviewed by Trey Gaines for the Bartow History Center Oral History Project, November 4, 2004. Transcript on file at the Bartow History Museum, Cartersville, Georgia.

[xcviii] According to, Rudy made $20,000 in 1941.

[xcix] “Rudy York Signs for $9,000 and a $5,000 Bonus,” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 12, 1942, p19.

[c] Sam Greene, “Baker in the Oven on His ’43 Contract,” The Sporting News, October 1, 1942, p2.

[ci] After the season began, new changes were ordered to the composition of the baseball in order to make it more lively.  The new ball was introduced three weeks into the season; offensive production slowly began to increase as the year went on.  See Peter Morris, A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Changed Baseball, Chicago, IL, Ivan R. Dee, 2006, p408.

[cii] Interview with Joe York.

[ciii] H.G. Salsinger, “One for Psychologists: Why Do Fans Ride York?” The Sporting News, September 2 1943 p5.

[civ] The Tigers traded Laabs to the Browns in a package deal for pitcher Bobo Newsome early in the 1939 season.

[cv] Arch Ward, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 1 1945, p17.

[cvi] Watson Spoelstra, “Stellar Outfield in Tiger Plans,” The Sporting News, December 20 1945, p11.

[cvii] Jack Malaney, “Cronin Goes to Garden to Pluck Third Sacker,” The Sporting News, April 4 1946, p11.

[cviii] “Red Sox Set Early Record by Winning 41 of First 50,” The Sporting News, June 26, 1946, p4.

[cix] Jack Malaney, “Red Sox Stub Toes in Dark Day After Day,” The Sporting News, July 17, 1946, p8.

[cx] Apparently, Rudy did not attend his father’s service.  He did not miss any games that week, although the Red Sox had an off day on August 9 as they travelled between Philadelphia and Detroit.  Joe York thought his father came home for the funeral, but he wasn’t really sure.  Joe’s sister, Blanche, was more convincing in her recollections; she said her father called home and told Violet to take the children to the service to represent the family.  Joe York did mention that the first he ever knew anything about his grandfather was the funeral itself.

[cxi] Ted Williams, My Turn At Bat, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1970, p98.

[cxii] Interview with Joe York.  See also, Rudy York, “A Letter to My Son,” Sport, September 1954.

[cxiii] Author telephone interview with Don Gutteridge.

[cxiv] “York Rescued in Blaze, Laid to ‘Smoking in Bed’,” The Sporting News, May 7, 1947, p9.  Peter Golenbock (1992) claims Rudy set fire to his room at the hotel three times while with Boston, but offers no documentation for any of these other than the April 1947 incident.

[cxv] Arch Ward, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Tribune, May 10 1945, p29.

[cxvi] Donald Honig, Baseball When the Grass Was Real, “Charlie Gehringer,” Lincoln, Neb., Bison Books, 1993.

[cxvii] Author telephone interview with Don Gutteridge.

[cxviii] Joe York was not necessarily being naïve in this assessment.  He freely stated early in our conversation that “Daddy was an alcoholic,” so he is fully aware of his father’s problem.  When Rudy began drinking, or when his drinking became a problem, is not known.  The Detroit papers in 1937 indicated that Rudy liked to enjoy a cold beer after a game, but that hardly constitutes a “problem.”

[cxix] Rudy York, “A Letter to My Son,” Sport, September 1954.

[cxx] Ibid.

[cxxi] He was on the Detroit roster for the 1934 World Series but did not appear in any games.

[cxxii] Author interview with Joe York.

[cxxiii] Hank Greenberg and Ira Berkow, Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life, New York, Times Books, 1989, pp204-205.

[cxxiv] “O.C. Ball Club Folds After Disastrous Year,” Oil City Derrick, August 4, 1951, p1.

[cxxv] Armand Peterson and Tom Tomashek, “Town Ball: The Glory Days of Minnesota Amateur Baseball, Minneapolis MN, University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

[cxxvi] Author interview with Joe York.

[cxxvii] Ibid.

[cxxviii] Details on Rudy’s time with the Yankees are sketchy.  Jules Tygiel recounts Rudy’s unfortunate use of a racial slur while giving a scouting report on Orioles pitcher Connie Johnson in 1956 during a Yankee clubhouse meeting.  Tygiel earlier recalled, however, how Rudy was one of the few southern-born players to wish Jackie Robinson well when Robinson first signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Rudy was commended by the NAACP for his comments. Sportswriter Bob Addie (1957) indicated Rudy was still working for the Yankees in early June 1957.

[cxxix] “Minor League Highlights: Class D,” Sporting News, September 4 1957, p42.

[cxxx] “Rudy York Managing Boston’s Red Sox,” Daily Tribune News, July 3 1959, p1.

[cxxxi] Author interview with Blanche York Caswell.  Blanche was a very good softball player in high school.

[cxxxii] Statesville was working under a dual agreement with the Houston and Boston organizations.

The Sam Jones Female College

The Sam Jones Female College – Joe F. Head
The college that never came to be, could be said for the Sam Jones Female Academy!

Sam Jones Female College and First Cartersville High School, Circa 1950
AKA, Sam Jones College, Sam Jones Female Academy and Sam Jones Female Seminary.

Upon the founding of Reverend Sam Jones’ Union Tabernacle in 1886, an additional vision was also afoot to establish a college dedicated to the higher education of young women. Little information has been located that offers full insight to this endeavor, but a few newspaper articles and deeds reference the project and mission it would serve.

In 1886, the Reverend Sam Jones proposed that if the City of Cartersville would provide him with a section of land he would build an open-air tabernacle in which to preach the gospel and hold annual revivals. His reputation as a powerful speaker and revivalist carried a great deal of weight among city fathers to comply with his request for a tabernacle . As a  separate agenda a second corporation was chartered and new Board of Directors elected to begin work to establish a college facility on the opposite end of the property.

According to deed records the Tabernacle Trustees assembled a tract of land in two separate transactions. The first was from Mr. Thomas W. Milner on September 16, 1886 in the amount of $500.00. A second purchase adjoining the first was made from Mr. William M. Graham on July 23, 1888 for $155.00. The total acreage for the tabernacle grounds amounted to some ten acres.

Interestingly, the trustees quickly conveyed a portion equal to four city lots of Tabernacle land to the newly formed Sam Jones Female College on November 4th, 1886.

The tabernacle was built on the corner of West Main and Lee Street, property now occupied by the Cartersville Civic Center and Bartow County Library near the former Cherokee Elementary School. The college site would be north of the Tabernacle and fronting Market Street. (Cherokee Street today)

The Academy was a separate project intended to provide seminary training and college options for young ladies. Contrary to innocent beliefs, the Tabernacle nor the Sam Jones Female Academy were ever under the authority of the local Methodist (Sam Jones) Church. (Formerly, Cartersville Methodist Episcopal Church South)

Few people realize that the Tabernacle was laid out on a 10 acre site and was established under a private board of trustees. On that same tract of land a small parcel was quickly transferred over to a separate board to establish the Sam Jones Female College. Sam Jones paid for the construction of the Tabernacle out of his own pocket, but not so with the Female College relying on separate fund raising. The college faced what was then Market Street (now Cherokee) next to the former Cherokee Elementary School (now County Extension Office) and Lee Street.

According to a January 27, 1887 article in the Courant American Newspaper, architectural plans were drawn by Bruce and Morgan of Atlanta. The structure was to be aptly designed as a seminary for young ladies. The building was to be 48 feet high from base to the tower top including two stories and a basement. The foundation was to be stone, brick façade, slate roof, trimmings of terra cotta and galvanized iron. The first floor was to be classrooms and second floor would have an auditorium of 59×32 feet. It was designed to have a small apartment, eight feet wide halls, two stairways and be a structure of architectural beauty for the city.

The Courant Newspaper reported that construction bids were opened in March of 1887, with the low bid going to Messrs. N. S. Eaves and W. B. Wallace, both residents of Bartow County. Work was authorized to begin immediately. The corner stone ceremony was scheduled in May with Eminent speakers to be present including humorist Bill Arp.

Subsequent articles appeared in the newspapers lending reports on construction progress and the great amounts of materials and money piled up to complete the mammoth brick project. Soon one could began to see the venture was facing difficult financial troubles. Related articles focusing on other topics hinted that the College project may not have weighed the reality of enrollment development vs revenue and tuition returns. It appeared zeal for the project began to wane and funds slowed, bills mounted and leans were brought against the corporation.

By November 1889 the stockholders were facing receivership action to settle debts. A meeting was held and agreement reached to sell the property to the City of Cartersville for a public high school facility. It was estimated that the city secured the property for about one third the cost of the actual value.

According to deed records an indenture was filed in the Bartow County Superior Court and the property was sold to the City of Cartersville for $2500.00. The city graduated its first senior class in 1891 and used the adjacent Sam Jones Tabernacle as the graduation venue for the first two graduations until the gym was built.

Property of the Etowah Valley Historical Society on display at Roselawn Museum

According to 1983 Etowah Valley Historical Society Minutes, an entry was made that the former Sam Jones College, city high school and junior high school served the community for three quarters of a century… “exists no more,” implying it was razed by order of the city. The minutes further reflect that Mayor Dent arranged for the Society to take possession of the cornerstone. The stone also served as a time capsule containing newspapers, letters, Sam Jones Song Book, bills from contractors and one small clay marble. EVHS has placed the stone “on loan” at the Roselawn Museum.

Sam Jones Female College Rear View (three story in background), Circa 1970

The Sam Jones Female College did not enjoy the same success as did the longer enduring Tabernacle, but did become the City of Cartersville’s first public high school in 1890 and then became the junior high school after 1953.

The story of Rev. Sam Jones has been well told since 1886. However, his Female College was rarely cited and has not been covered nor understood regarding origin, operations, management and what became of the facility. Both the Tabernacle and College are fading tributes to a once mighty southern gospel voice.


Deed Book 2, Pages 80 – 82, Tract of Tabernacle land deeded to SJ College
Deed Book CC, Page 248, Receivership sold to City of Cartersville

Cartersville Courant American, November 14, 1889, Receiver to be Appointed
Cartersville Courant American, October, 11, 1888, Progress of Improvement
Cartersville Courant American, January 27, 1887, The Sam Jones Female College
Cartersville Courant American, March 17, 1887, The Sam Jones Female College
Cartersville Courant American, March 8, 1887, The College Contract
Cartersville Courant American, February 24, 1887, Notice to Stockholders

Cartersville City Council Minutes, June 23, 1983, Cherokee School Demolition Bid
Etowah Valley Historical Society, Fall 1983, Female College Corner Stone mention

Catrina Shepard Roselawn Museum
Jane Drew Roselawn Museum

The Ancient Rock Walls of Bartow County – William Phillips

The Ancient Rock Walls of Bartow County By William Phillips

Bartow County has remarkable ancient stone structures that have a history every bit as exciting as the far more recognized mound sites (Etowah and Leake), and numerous ancient village sites scattered across the county.  However, stone features are almost always sidelined for investigation due to many archaeologists having been indoctrinated that in North America, “Native tribes never built with stone” – and therefore investigation of stone features is useless.  This has caused the destruction of great numbers of rock features because they were misidentified as being built by early settlers, therefore not important to preserve.  This article will consider the complexity of design and precise construction behind these features.

We are fortunate to have walls that are still in good condition, and must strive to insure their conservation.  This year, as information on the walls has been compiled, additional walls were discovered, and many adjacent features documented (often, archaeological investigations would make no mention of these “associated” stone features within the surrounding area).

Types of Stone Features 

There are so many stone features to study, we will focus on walls in this article – and focus upon other features in future articles.  Because different types of features are encountered together, listing the types of stone constructions will help with understanding what is present at a site.

Wall – perhaps straight, circular, or other shapes – Indian walls are: 1- dry stacked (no mortar used), 2- often incorporate astronomical alignments, 3- usually have a prominent cultural context, 4- are built at a place of importance (such as mountain summits), 5a- align with other Indian sites, and 5b- align with local geological and topographic details.

Cairn – a “stonepile”; either carefully stacked or a loose assembly.  Often mistaken for “graves”, the vast majority are, instead, important components of the site .

Pavements – a rock “veneer” layer over an area; flat or very low profile.

Marker – placed to indicate a significant spot; stones of all sizes are used; prone or standing; often quartz or imported stone is often utilized.

For purposes of property owner anonymity precise wall locations are generically plotted.



Example of dry stack construction wall running about 500 feet in length

Western Bartow County

The best preserved, largest, and most beautiful wall in Bartow county is 500 feet long, averages almost 6 feet in height, 2.5 feet thick, and runs exactly East-West (marking the Equinox solar path).  It is made of round flint nodules, about the size of a basketball, that are so carefully stacked that the sides and top appear flat and smooth.

Other construction traditions of Indian sites include: 1- Premium materials: this wall utilizes quartz blocks and iron nodules; and 2- Relevance to local topography: here, the wall is (directly) connected to a prominent hill, (directly) linked to a huge flint rich area, and (indirectly) associated with several water features located further away.

Adjacent features are numerous, including: many cairns (of various sizes), a small (20′ long) snake effigy, a medium sized ceremonial area with a pavement and several cairns, a cursus (a ceremonial walkway with stone curbs), several smaller walls, and a nearby hill whose summit is covered with cairns and an acre-sized pavement.

Combining recent field discoveries and recorded archaeological data, this area is found to have: a vast flint outcrop area with many workshops (to make arrowheads, knives, spear points), stone constructions located far from the wall (1 mi South, .5 mi West and East, 2 mi NE… and we are still finding more), and there are several village sites within 5 miles.  Rather than being one isolated wall, the remarkable conclusion is that this is a large complex that covers several square miles.


Southern Bartow County

There are two Snake Effigy walls, located in valleys. One wall is 420′ long, the height varies from 1.7 to 4 feet, and the width is 2 feet; the downstream end is 6′ above the creek bed, then the wall ascends a side of the valley, and stops 15 feet short of the ridge dividing the next valley.

The other is 275′ long, of equal height and width as the longer wall, and also ascends a hillside, the last 25 feet at the eastern end turns uphill, and connects to a very dramatic head assembled of several standing stones 5 to 7 feet high.

These walls undulate sideways in a serpentine fashion – and have a widened “head” end, and a narrow “tail” end.  Both are made of local, flat fieldstone – the flat shape gives an appearance of snakeskin scales that, at a distance, looks remarkably like a snake slithering up the valley.

The premium material in this wall is quartz blocks; and the direct relevance to local topography includes: ties with watercourses, valleys, and the Cartersville fault; and indirect relevance to dramatic stone outcrops nearby.

There was a wall at the summit of Ladd’s mountain – although it was destroyed for a source of gravel.  Archaeological descriptions describe it as “enclosing 40 acres” – however, this does not match the terrain, as a circle this size would be 1,050 feet in diameter – the most likely situation is that the wall was closer to 500′ diameter with many acres of “associated areas” (as is typical of other sites) arrayed with many cairns and other artifacts.  EHVS is interested in clarification of these details, as misinterpretation of reports confuse the historical record – and confuse the public.

Northern Bartow County

There are a couple of snake effigy walls North of Cartersville, on restricted access land – that are evidently larger than the effigies in the South of the county.  They are situated in moderately hilly terrain adjacent to streams, just like the other snake effigies.  Existing documentation (photographic, measurement, and cultural interpretation) is available relating to these constructions.


Bartow County holds yet another unexplored treasure related to our Native American heritage. This study has tentatively identified up to 34 rock structures scattered throughout the county most of which are located in the lower portion of the Etowah River valley.

I would like to acknowledge J. B. Tate and Bill Hudson for their assistance in field research and interpretive contributions.