PCP = Politics, Communities and People
Bartow has produced a colorful stable of interesting people and events that span prominent and influential individuals ranging from politicians, evangelists, authors and athletes to events and places that are worth historical honorable mentions.
Surprisingly, Bartow County enjoys a rich political history that is relatively obscure to its citizens. Warren Akin, Sr. (1811-1877) argued the state’s very first supreme court cases in Cassville and was Speaker of the Georgia House. His descendants continue to practice law today in Cartersville and is the longest practicing law firm in Georgia now known as Akin and Tate. Most people know that Bartow produced the Honorable Joe Frank Harris as a two- term Democratic governor in the 1980’s. However, it is little known that in 1915 Nathaniel E. Harris (no relation) was governor and also resided for a time in Bartow County. He is credited with education advancements, improvements for teachers and introduced legislation to establish the Georgia Institute of Technology. Additionally, Bartow has the honor for having the first African-American elected to public office and Chief Justice Court of Appeals, the Honorable Robert Benham. Also, Lee Roy Abernathy, born in Cartersville, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1958. However, he enjoyed a highly successful career in the gospel music industry and wrote President Roosevelt’s 1936 campaign song. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with an impressive list of songs he composed.
Rebecca Latimer Felton (June 10, 1835 – January 24, 1930) was a political activist promoting women’s rights and abolishment of the convict work-lease program. She was an author, lecturer, and politician. Perhaps her most notable moment was becoming the nation’s first female US Senator on November 21, 1922, and served one ceremonial day making it the shortest serving Senator in U.S. history. It was not uncommon for her to keep company with Corra Harris, Martha Berry and Margaret Mitchell.
In the early 1940’s Bartow County operated a hard labor chain gang system west of Cartersville on Highway 113. The site became known as “Little Alcatraz” and was featured in a Life Magazine article which drew state wide controversy. Governor Ellis Arnall and Rebecca Felton worked together to abolish the Chain Gang system in Georgia as a result of this attention.
On the spiritual front, Bartow has the legendary Reverend Sam P. Jones and Lottie Moon. Often referred to as the Billy Graham of his day, Jones was a Methodist “hell fire and damnation” evangelist. He is largely associated with the history of the Ryman Auditorium as this facility was originally built by riverboat captain Thomas Green Ryman for Jones to hold revival meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. Years later the building became the home and mother church of the Grand Ole Opry. Jones became a national figure and built an open-air tabernacle on the site of the Cartersville/Bartow County Main Street Library. Thousands came by train every year to hear his sermons and attend old fashion revival camp meetings. His Roselawn home located on West Cherokee Avenue is now a museum operated by the county. He was invited by presidents to speak and has been the only non-government official to lie in state at the Georgia State Capital. He was credit with the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and frequently used the theme, “Quit Your Meanness” as a sermon topic.
Lottie Moon (Charlotte Diggs) a Southern Baptist Missionary moved to Bartow County from Virginia. She led the establishment of the Cartersville Female High School Academy in 1871. Two years later at age 33, she was appointed to China as a missionary where she ministered for nearly 40 years. As a result of poverty, wars, gender discrimination and other repressions, she eventually died of starvation and sickness in dedication to her cause. She is remembered for her Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Missions that still survives today in the Baptist Church.
Corra White Harris, 1869 – 1935, is likely the most prominent literary figure from Bartow County. Making her home near Rydal she wrote over 25 books of which, Circuit Rider’s Wife, was made into a 1950’s movie entitled, I’d Climb the Highest Mountain. She holds the distinction of being the first female battlefield war correspondent during WW I. She wrote prolifically for the Atlanta papers, Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s, Ladies Home Journal, and the Independent, a highly-respected New York-based magazine known for its social and political reviews.
Astronaut John Watts Young (related to the Young Brother Drug Store family) spent formative years in Cartersville between 1933 and 1939. He was the first man to orbit the moon as a solo flight. Later he became the 9th man to walk on the moon.
Nationally famous potter, W. J. Bill Gordy’s work can be found in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. This legendary potter set up shop on the Old Dixie Highway north of Cartersville where travelers would stop to see and purchase his creations. His works are highly respected and collectible. Replicating Native American methods his works are considered to be produced by authentic methods using materials from the color rich ores of Bartow County.
Uriah Stephens is considered to be Bartow’s “Voice of Resistance” during the 1862 Great Locomotive Chase. The Kingston Depot Agent was the only documented individual to vigorously confront James Andrews who led the raid. His actions assisted in delaying the raider’s progress that led to recovering the train and helped make Bartow County the “Heart of the Chase.”
Although born in Ragland, Alabama, Preston Rudolph York (Rudy) spent his formative years in Bartow County and played baseball for the ATCO Mills “Super Twisters.” Among others, he played professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Red Sox. York played in the 1946 World Series and broke one of Babe Ruth’s records for hitting home runs in the month of August. Another baseball talent came from Cartersville High graduate Donavan Tate who played with the San Diego Padres.
Two Kentucky Derby winners, Decidedly – 1962 and Northern Dancer 1964, were trained by, Horatio A. Luro. He later Married Frances Weinman and retired in Cartersville at the Old Mill Farms. His most successful horse, Northern Dancer, won the Derby in 1964 followed by the Preakness and many others. Known as the Grand Senor, he trained over 40 stake winner horses and was inducted in the National Museum of Horse Racing and Hall of Fame.
Bartow is not without entertainers and writers. In addition to Corra Harris, Charles Henry Smith, alias Bill Arp, was a popular southern columnist and moved to Cartersville to write for the Atlanta Constitution in the 1870’s. Following his death and burial at Oak Hill Cemetery, Samuel Clements (Mark Twain) said Arp was one of “America’s few real humorists.” Movie, TV and musical stars from Bartow include Cartersville High graduate Wayne Knight who grew up in Cartersville and is known for his roles in Jurassic Park, Seinfeld, Dirty Dancing and Hot in Cleveland. Chloe Moretz raised in Cartersville starred in Amityville Horrors, Hugo, Big Mamma 2 and Dark Shadows. Ben Davis Walker also from Cartersville starred in Flags of Our Fathers, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and several Broadway plays. A Cass High graduate Barry Poole, alias Cledus T. Judd is a country music artist; and TV movie actress Victoria Staley, a product of Cartersville’s Grand Theater, has stared in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Raising Izzie. Bob Burns is a founding member and original drummer of the Southern Rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Recording artist Butch Walker grew up in Cartersville, was named producer of the year by Rolling Stone Magazine, wrote the Open Happiness song for Coca Cola and preformed with various talents including Taylor Swift.
Bartow has several incorporated communities. Cassville was the original county seat. However, at the close of the Civil War Cassville was burned by Federal troops and the county seat was moved to Cartersville. Today there are 7 incorporated cities and 9 towns with post offices that are recognized by most Bartowians. However, Bartow has been home to dozens of small communities since the 1830′s that have faded from our county maps. Some are less known, others have disappeared and some have had name changes. Below is a partial list of such communities.
Adairsville, Allatoona, ATCO, Bartow, Birmingham, Bolivar, Center, Cartersville, Cassville, Cass Station, Cave, Cement, Corbin, Emerson, Etowah, Euharlee, Ferrobutte, Folsom, Ford, Halls Station, Iron Hill, Kingston, Ladds, Ligon, Linwood, Malbone, Pine Log, Rogers Station, Rydal, Stilesboro, Sugarhill, Taylorsville, and White.
For an expanded list of other little known Bartow communities see “Places” under the Bartow History tab on the home page.
List of assorted PCP Factoids
1. Cartersville resident, Jessica Daves moved to New York and became editor of Vogue Magazine from 1952 until 1963. She is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.
2. Pretty Boy Floyd (Charles Arthur Floyd) was from Adairsville and became a 1930′s midwest American bank robber during the legendary gangster period.
3. The City of Cartersville first installed an electric generator and produced electricity to it residents in 1906.
4. The first hospital built in Bartow County was the Howell/Quillian clinic located on Leake Street in Cartersville. The building was relocated to Cartersville in the early 1940’s from Aubry in north Bartow where it served as a hotel.
5. Lucy Cunyus wrote the 1933 book, Bartow County, Formerly Cass County.
6. Bartow has had many hamlets, villages and small towns to grow up around the mining industry. Some in-particular are: Etowah, Ironville, Aubrey, Sugar Hill, Funkhouser, McCallie, Emerson and Rogers Station.
Bartow History Scholars Tutorial