Douglass and Anthony

It is just and fitting to celebrate the American Revolution, but one must also remember that, at the start, not everyone partook of its bounty equally. The tacit recognition of slavery is the original sin of the American republic; that women could not vote is now outrageous to us. Where was the “liberty” for these people? As the nineteenth century wore on, the movement to abolish slavery completely grew ever stronger, culminating in the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Women’s suffrage took longer – it was guaranteed on a national basis for all types of election with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, although many states had earlier granted the women the right to vote in other elections.

It’s safe to say that the two biggest figures in these movements were Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. They both happen to be buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York. We made sure to visit their graves.

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818 and escaped to New York at age 20. He became an anti-slavery activist and was known for his powerful oratory on the subject; his Narrative Life (1845) was a best seller which fueled the abolitionist cause and whose proceeds allowed Douglass to purchase his legal freedom. He was also the only African-American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention (1848), which launched the American Women’s Rights movement. The town, located about fifty miles to the east of Rochester, seems quite proud of this heritage.

Unfortunately, the Visitor Center was closed when we got there, but I certainly appreciated the display of the Nineteenth Amendment Victory Flags.

The (heavily restored) original venue. The Convention’s “Declaration of Sentiments” (a feminist twist on the Declaration of Independence)  is inscribed on a wall on the other side of the greenspace in the foreground.

As an aside, Seneca Falls represents a stop on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, a which connects the Erie Canal to Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake (two of New York’s Finger Lakes). I thought this was a nice nineteenth-century scene. (The town is also the fictional “Bedford Falls, N.Y.” from the film It’s a Wonderful Life.)

Susan B. Anthony was not actually at the Seneca Falls Convention, but with its main organizer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whom she met in 1851, founded the Women’s Loyal National League (an abolitionist society) and in 1866 the American Equal Rights Association, which was dedicated to equal rights for men and women. Anthony, famously, was arrested for voting in Rochester in 1872, and refused to pay the fine; the authorities decided not to pursue the matter. In 1878, Anthony penned what was to become the Nineteenth Amendment, and up until her death she gave countless speeches in favor of the cause. Her grave in Mount Hope is a pilgrimage site of sorts for those who value a woman’s right to vote.

Oakland Cemetery

Our trip to Atlanta also included a visit to Oakland Cemetery (logo from their pamphlet).

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It dates from 1850 and occupies a 48-acre site between the Sweet Auburn and Grant Park neighborhoods, not far from the King Center and the Georgia State Capitol. Numerous famous Atlantans are interred here, among them:

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Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind.

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Bobby Jones, the most successful amateur golfer ever, and a founder of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters’ Tournament held there.

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Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor.

Of course, a large section is devoted to the Confederacy and the soldiers who died for it, whether known:

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Or unknown:

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At one point this obelisk was the tallest structure in Atlanta:

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Note, though, how they’ve tried to defang its message: all three of the federal, state, and city flags take precedence over the flag of the CSA, which of course is the original Stars and Bars, not the Battle Flag.

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There is also a segregation-era African-American section, and a Jewish section, along with the usual collection of interesting headstones and monuments.

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bricks chair kontz stump

A Grim Centenary

July 1 marks the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Anglo-French attempt at breaking through the German front during the Great War, near the River Somme in France. The offensive lasted until November of 1916, and made no appreciable gains in territory – at a cost of well over one million casualties.

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Wikipedia.

Depicted is Edward Luytens’s Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, dedicated by the Prince of Wales in 1932.

MORE: From the Telegraph: “Somme ‘Iron Harvest’ will take 500 years to clear, say bomb disposal experts on centenary of bloody battle”

Oak Hill Cemetery

Some local tourism: today we wandered around Oak Hill Cemetery in Cartersville. It features trees and terraced hillsides, i.e. it is definitely a cemetery in tradition of Mount Auburn in Massachusetts.

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It dates from 1838, when it was the cemetery for Ebeneezer Methodist Church, but was acquired by the city of Cartersville in 1850.

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Famous occupants include P.M.B. Young, Confederate General, four-term U.S. Congressman, and diplomat:

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John W. Akin, founder of the Cartersville Masonic Lodge (hence the Corinthian column), Georgia state representative and senator:

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The great Samuel Porter Jones, Methodist preacher:

jonesRebecca Latimer Felton, the first woman member of the United States Senate. 

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(It seems appropriate, given this woman’s unfortunate racial views, to draw attention to a website about the last two lynchings of African-American men in Cartersville: Jesse McCorkle in 1916, and John Willie Clark in 1930.)

Then there are all the interesting headstones:

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Apparently the Woodmen of the World used to provide distinctive wood-themed headstones for their members:

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Virginia Cemeteries

My friend Lynn Rainville (whose institution has been saved for at least one more year!) was recently featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, for her work on Virginia cemeteries. Excerpts:

Uncovering hidden histories in Virginia cemeteries

MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS

When Lynn Rainville left Chicago in 2001 to teach at Sweet Briar College, slavery — and her ongoing fascination with what the dead can teach the living — took on an immediacy.

“I started teaching at a college that was a former plantation. And I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness. They didn’t teach me about this in any book,’ ” she recalled Thursday. “And I just started studying slavery. I’d been already studying cemeteries for a decade, American cemeteries, and I wanted to have a project I could bring my students to.”

Rainville, a research professor in the humanities at Sweet Briar, is the author of a new book, “Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia,” on her research at more than 150 forgotten burial sites in Amherst, Albemarle and Nelson counties.

In town for a lecture at the Virginia Historical Society, she estimated that there are tens of thousands of African-American cemeteries, churchyard burial grounds and family plots in Virginia, with “easily thousands” undiscovered. “Each community probably has dozens of black cemeteries that have not been located,” she said.

In Richmond, cemeteries such as East End, Evergreen and Woodland are overgrown and endangered. The African Burial Ground, after years of protest, was reclaimed from a surface parking lot. Other burial grounds no doubt remain undetected.

More at the link. I would be interested to know if such research has been done in Cherokee County. This area was not a hotbed of slavery but the institution did exist here; ergo, slave cemeteries must have.

Cassville

Yesterday’s post, and a meeting this morning with my neighbor Mark Leary, inspired me to visit Cassville today. What remains of Bartow’s former county seat? Well, the Cass Grocery, for one:

The Cassville Museum (a former post office) (now sadly closed):

And something called the Heritage Room, where the Cassville Historical Society meets:

Plenty of markers remind passersby of what once was:

The plaque reads:

Site of Cassville. Named for Lewis Cass. County seat, Cass County 1832-1861. First decision, Supreme Court of Georgia, 1846. Name changed to Manassas 1861. Town burned by Sherman 1864 and never rebuilt.

TOWN OF CASSVILLE

In this valley was once situated the proud town of Cassville, begun in July, 1833, as the seat of justice for Cass County and soon the center of trade and travel in the region recently comprising the Cherokee Nation. Both the county and the town were named in honor of Gen. Lewis Cass, Michigan statesman and Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Andrew Jackson.

A decade after its founding Cassville lost its preeminence as a trading center due to the location of the state-owned Western and Atlantic railroad two miles west of its limits. It continued to flourish, however, and in 1860 was a community of some 1300 persons. Two four-year colleges located here and its newspaper, the Cassville Standard, gave weight to its claims of being the education and cultural center for all northern Georgia.

In 1861 the name of the county was changed by action of the Georgia Legislature to Bartow in memory of Gen. Francis S. Bartow, a native Georgian killed at the First Battle of Manassas, and the name of the town became Manassas.

The entire town was destroyed by fire on Nov. 5, 1864 at the hands of the Fifth Ohio Cavalry. Only three houses and three churches were left standing. So complete was the destruction that no rebuilding of the town was attempted.

SITE: CASSVILLE FEMALE COLLEGE

A large brick structure erected 1853. May 19, 1864: Skirmishers of Polk’s A.C. [Confederate flag] withdrew from this ridge E. to Cassville when pressed back by Butterfield’s (3d) Div., 20th A.C. [Union flag], from the Hawkins Price house. Battery C 1st Ohio Lt. Art., supported by 73d Ohio, 19th Mich. & 20th Conn. Reg’ts. [Union flag] occupied ridge & shelled the town as Johnston’s army [Confederate flag] withdrew to the ridge E. of it.

At night, Cassville was seized by 19th Mich. & 20th. Conn. Female College & town were burned by Federal forces, Nov. 1864.

Best of all is the Cassville Cemetery, for which the historical marker reads:

In the cemetery are buried about 300 unknown Confederate soldiers who died of wounds or disease in the several Confederate hospitals located in Cassville. These hospitals operated from late 1861 until May 18, 1864, then moved south out of the path of the invading Federal forces. In May 1899, the Cassville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to honor these unknown soldiers, placed headstones at each of their graves.

Or as another monument put it, more poetically:

These headstones were placed here May 1899 by Cassville Chapter Georgia Division United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of those who fell while defending the rights of the South. Long may their memory live.

So long as breathes a Southern woman, so long as time shall last, so long will Southern women cherish and honor the memory of the Confederate soldier and meet annually to strew their resting place with choicest garlands.

The plinth of the obelisk reads:

Dedicated to the memory of our Southern heroes by the Ladies Memorial Association of Cassville, A.D. 1878.

Each of the other three sides bears a noble sentiment:

It is better to have fought and lost, than not to have fought at all

Is it death to fall for freedom’s cause?

Rest in peace our Southern braves, you loved liberty more than life.

As chance would have it Dale Black, the cemetery’s caretaker and head of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was there. He told me that they were hoping to use the SCV tag fees to spruce up the obelisk, since the plaster is chipping off. He also directed me to the graves of CSA Congressman Warren Akin and CSA Gen. William T. Wofford, which Mark had told me about:

Mark is a metalworker, and had made this CSA/SCV bench for placement beside Wofford’s grave. Note the repeated outline of the cruciform Confederate grave marker:

Mark had also told me about the grave of Wofford’s grandfather Benjamin Wofford – which happens to be in a woods quite close to where I live. It took me a bit of searching, but I eventually found it. Benjamin Wofford had served in his father William’s regiment in the Revolutionary War.

These Woffords fought in South Carolina. After the war, Benjamin emigrated to Georgia, where he owned enough land that his name is now part of the local toponymy: Wofford’s Crossroads, just southwest of White, is apparently named after him. Here is a photo of the Baptist church that stands there today:

A topic for further investigation: what was the extent of the Woffords’ involvement in the local iron smelting industry? (They had certainly been involved in iron smelting in South Carolina, thus the Battle of Wofford’s Iron Works.)