Rome

Yesterday we enjoyed some local tourism with a visit to nearby Rome, Georgia. 

For the first time ever we went to see Rome’s characteristic building: The Clock Tower, which crowns Neely Hill, one of Rome’s Seven Hills, and which is reproduced on the city’s flag, the city’s logo, and this storm drain cover:

Actually, I think that custom cast-iron drain covers are an under-appreciated medium, and I’m pleased to discover, after a little Internet searching, that there exist fans of them.  

I’m edified to see that Rome’s Capitoline Wolf still stands outside the courthouse. That it was a gift of Benito Mussolini does not seem to bother people.

“To Robert Battey master surgeon and illustrious pioneer in medicine by the people of Georgia and others who know his worth.”

Also in front of the courthouse, a monument to Robert Battey, M.D. Wikipedia says:

After the Confederate surrender in April 1865, Battey resumed his practice in Rome, Georgia. His field of study was gynecology, and he became well known for a procedure he pioneered to remove a woman’s ovaries. Initially referred to as ovariotomy, and named “Battey’s Operation” in his honor, it is what today is termed a radical oophorectomy. He performed the first successful oophorectomy in May 1869 when he successfully removed a large dermoid cyst from a physician’s wife. On August 27, 1872 he performed his first ‘normal’ oophorectomy. The patient, Julie Omberg, had diseased ovaries and lived to be 80 years old. There was a lynch mob waiting for Dr. Battey if he failed the operation.

I think that a [citation needed] note ought to follow that final sentence…

Nearby, a monument to Admiral John Henry Towers, who was born and raised in Rome. Wikipedia:

Towers was a United States Navy admiral and pioneer naval aviator. He made important contributions to the technical and organizational development of naval aviation from its beginnings, eventually serving as Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics (1939–1942). He commanded carrier task forces during World War II, and retired in December 1947…. He was the first naval aviator to achieve flag rank and was the most senior advocate for naval aviation during a time when the Navy was dominated by battleship admirals. 

Further along on Broad Street: a monument to Von Albade Gammon and his mother Rosalind Burns Gammon. The plaques speak for themselves:

This is an interesting situation, which was echoed a few years later on a national level during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. From a History Channel article on the subject:

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s football gridirons were killing fields. The college game drew tens of thousands of spectators and rivaled professional baseball in fan appeal, but football in the early 1900s was lethally brutal—a grinding, bruising sport in which the forward pass was illegal and brute strength was required to move the ball. Players locked arms in mass formations and used their helmetless heads as battering rams. Gang tackles routinely buried ball carriers underneath a ton and a half of tangled humanity.

With little protective equipment, players sustained gruesome injuries—wrenched spinal cords, crushed skulls and broken ribs that pierced their hearts. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 1904 alone, there were 18 football deaths and 159 serious injuries, mostly among prep school players. Obituaries of young pigskin players ran on a nearly weekly basis during the football season. The carnage appalled America. Newspaper editorials called on colleges and high schools to banish football outright. “The once athletic sport has degenerated into a contest that for brutality is little better than the gladiatorial combats in the arena in ancient Rome,” opined the Beaumont Express. The sport reached such a crisis that one of its biggest boosters—President Theodore Roosevelt—got involved.

Although his nearsightedness kept him off the Harvard varsity squad, Roosevelt was a vocal exponent of football’s contribution to the “strenuous life,” both on and off the field. As New York City police commissioner, he helped revive the annual Harvard-Yale football series after it had been canceled for two years following the violent 1894 clash that was deemed “the bloodbath at Hampden Park.” His belief that the football field was a proving ground for the battlefield was validated by the performance of his fellow Rough Riders who were former football standouts. “In life, as in a football game,” he wrote, “the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!” In 1903, the president told an audience, “I believe in rough games and in rough, manly sports. I do not feel any particular sympathy for the person who gets battered about a good deal so long as it is not fatal.”

Of course, it was fatal, and Roosevelt himself supported rule changes that eliminated mass formations and legalized the forward pass, which was introduced in 1906. But he was absolutely determined that football should not be played “on too ladylike a basis,” given that colleges should turn out “vigorous men” and not “mollycoddles,” because “the weakling and the coward are out of place in a strong and free community” (see Kevin Murphy’s Political Manhood for more). 

I can’t imagine even Trump saying such things…

But the controversy lives on, in its way. Perhaps you have heard of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, that is, brain damage sustained by professional football players over the course of their careers, and which has led to calls for football to be banned, or radically changed. So far no one, to my knowledge, has stood up for “manliness” and “vigor” as positive virtues that football might instill. Instead, people try to question the very existence of CTE (a physician I know claims that it is a “lawyer’s disease”). I spotted Brainwashed in a bookstore later in the day. 

Rome’s Myrtle Hill Cemetery, as you might expect, features a prominent Confederate memorial, erected by the N.B. Forrest Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, in honor of their namesake.

I thought that Forrest had more of a connection with Tennessee but he saw action in north Georgia as well. From the plinth:

On Sunday, May 3rd, 1863, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, by his indomitable will, after a running fight of three days and nights, with 410 men, captured Col. A.D. Streight’s raiders, numbering 1600, thereby saving Rome from destruction.

A nearby historical marker elaborates:

GEORGIA’S PAUL REVERE

Along this road John H. Wisdom rode from Gadsden, Ala. to warn that a Federal force of over 2,00 men was approaching Rome to occupy the town, destroy foundries making ammunition for the Confederates and to cut Confederate communications (May 2, 1863).

On Wisdom’s arrival in Rome the bridge over the Oostanaula river was fortified and made ready for burning as a last resort. Widsom’s warning and the plans for defense played a big part in the surrender of Col. Streight with 1,500 men to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest with only 425 men.

People always claim that Forrest was a “brilliant general,” but will this monument survive his connection to Fort Pillow and the Ku Klux Klan

Either way, it would be good to put up a monument to Bud Rufus somewhere in Myrtle Hill. 

Parallel to the Forrest monument is another monument, this one to the Women of the Confederacy, with the twin sculptures “News from the Front” and “An Angel of Mercy,” along with the usual doggerel.

Around the corner, the graves of some 368 Civil War soldiers. 

William Blake

From Colby Cosh in the National Post:

How two amateurs recovered the long-lost resting place of William Blake

If you look at any recent biography of the poet and engraver William Blake (1757-1827), you will learn that his mortal remains lie in the cemetery at Bunhill Fields, London, but that their exact location is unknown. Bunhill Fields, in the borough of Islington, is a remarkable piece of London history. “Bunhill” was originally “bone hill,” and that is just what it is — a very ancient burial-place, already built up slightly with the volume of human remains by the time of recorded history. A property owner made the site available for nondenominational interments and pauper burials in the 17th century; since most cemeteries observed religious exclusions, this made it a popular place of repose for the “nonconformist” dead of London.

Read the whole thing.

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).

oakland

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:

mitchell

Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind.

jones

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

jackson

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:

csa

Or unknown:

lion

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

monument

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.

flags

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

jewish

jewish2

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.

800px-Thiepval_Memorial_to_the_missing

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.

cemetery1

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

cemetery2

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

Young

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

akin

The great Samuel Porter Jones, Methodist preacher:

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

felton

(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:

finger hands shaw

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

woodmen1 woodmen2

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

Cassville, Georgia. Google Maps.

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.)