Black Bartow County

Earlier this summer I visited the Bartow History Museum, located in Bartow County’s first postbellum courthouse on East Church Street in Cartersville, right beside the Western & Atlantic train tracks and now overshadowed by a bridge built to span the tracks. Its exhibits are well done. Currently, on the main floor, is a photo gallery of different musical groups from the county, and a feature exhibition about the county’s notable women, in honor of the ratification of the nineteenth amendment one hundred years ago this month. Upstairs, in the Dellinger Family Exhibition Gallery, is a permanent display taking the visitor through the history of the area, starting with the Mississippian Indians who built the Etowah Mounds, through Cherokee removal, white settlement, the Civil War, local industry, commerce, and agriculture, the county’s participation in the World Wars, and the current scene. As I say, it is very well done – except that I couldn’t help but notice that the whole thing gives short shrift to Bartow’s African-American community. 

Slavery is briefly mentioned on a single panel in the antebellum section…

…and on the way in, in a photo montage entitled “A Sense of Place,” one finds a group photograph of some members of the “Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, Mission Road, 1954,” clearly an African-American congregation. And that’s pretty much it.*

I think that Bartow’s Black history deserves more attention than this. Although plantation slavery was not as common in north Georgia as it was in the Black Belt, as the panel above states, by 1840 there were some 2000 slaves in the county, out of a total population of 9340. I have discovered that slaves were occasionally sold on the courthouse steps in Cassville, the original county seat.** What was it like for these people? What happened to them when Sherman came though on the Atlanta Campaign, armed with the Emancipation Proclamation? How did they deal with this newfound freedom – and with the imposition of Jim Crow once Reconstruction was called off? How did Bartow County experience the Civil Rights movement, and what is the situation of Bartow’s Black population today? These are all stories that ought to be told.

Fortunately, they are getting some attention in other ways. The Etowah Valley Historical Society sponsors an African-American History Initiative, which was responsible for the sculpture Pathways to Freedom, on display in front of Cartersville City Hall. And the Cartersville-Bartow Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (in alliance with the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority) has helped create an African American Heritage Trail in the county. An abridged description of the trail may be found on the Bureau’s website, and the full version may be found in a pamphlet available at the Bartow History Museum and elsewhere (and downloadable as a pdf). A shout-out to Reinhardt’s Pam Wilson for her contributions to this. 

The pamphlet is quite well done (by my friend Lara Jeanneret of Lara J Designs, as it happens, whose work I highly recommend). It features an introduction and historical timeline, and details some nineteen historically significant sites throughout Bartow County, eleven of which are in Cartersville. Some of these I have already seen and blogged about this summer, such as the Pathways to Freedom sculpture, the covered bridge in Euharlee (built by Washington King, son of freedman Horace King), the Black Pioneers’ Cemetery in Euharlee (rediscovered and saved from development in 2002), and the gravesite of Michelle Obama’s three-greats grandmother Melvinia Shields in Kingston. Some of the pamphlet’s other sites are somewhat amorphous, like “2. The Clothing Trades” (active on East Church Street in Cartersville) or “7. African American Real Estate Developers” (active on West Main Street). But others are more concrete, and in my last act of local exploration this summer I determined to see some of them. One was quite by accident: I was eating lunch in Ross’s Diner when I read, in the “3. Segregation” section of the Heritage Trail pamphlet:

Both of Cartersville’s historic courthouses had segregated balconies where African Americans were required to sit. The Grand Theatre had a separate entrance for black movie patrons, which led to a segregated seating section. At both Ross’s Diner and 4-Way Lunch, one can still see the separate entrances designated for African American diners, who also were required to sit at segregated counters at the rear of the buildings adjacent to the kitchen areas.

I asked the manager if this was true, and she admitted it was, and directed me outside and to the rear of the building, as if I was going to use the toilet.

Ross’s Diner, front entrance on Wall Street.

Ross’s Diner, rear entrance off the side alley.

The room that one enters from this door is easy to imagine as a secondary dining area; it is now storage, with the main kitchen to the right. The toilet is in a closet off this room. (I assume that Ross’s Diner didn’t always offer toilet facilities, or else the “white” toilets, wherever they may have been, were decommissioned at some point. The races couldn’t possibly have shared toilets.)

After Ross’s, I walked north on Erwin Street to see “9. Vinnie’s Cabin,” which is located behind a fine nineteenth century house, currently occupied by Strands Hair Salon. 

The main house, believed to have been the first one built in Cartersville, was the “townhome” property of Elijah Murphy Field and Cornelia Maxey Harrison Field,*** whose main residence was on a large plantation on Pumpkinvine Creek, worked by slaves. Obviously their townhome would have needed some staff as well, and cabins out back, one of which still stands, would have been where these people lived. The abolition of slavery did not mean that such social relations entirely disappeared, however, and the cabin takes its name from Vinnie Salter Johnson, a Black woman who was born into slavery in 1855 but who was subsequently employed as a cook by the Field family. She lived with her son in what used to be the slave cabin until she made enough money to be able to rent her own home on nearby Bartow St. I do not know at what point the cabin ceased to be occupied by any Field family employees, or why it survived to the present, but I am glad that it did. It is good to retain such mementoes of the past, as uncomfortable as they might make us now. 

An even more important reminder of the old days (and, perhaps, a more positive one) is “12. The Summer Hill Heritage Foundation” on Aubrey Street. Summer Hill is a historically Black neighborhood, and Summer Hill School was the Black school for Cartersville. The school dates from 1889 and taught students from first through sixth grade; a new wooden structure was built for it in 1922, which was replaced by an even larger brick structure in 1956, by which time Summer Hill School offered high school instruction and fielded sports teams. With the fall of segregation in 1968, the school was closed, but the building (as a community center) and sports facilities (a gym, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a swimming pool) remain in use. Apparently there is a small museum in the complex, but unfortunately the whole place was closed on account of the plague. 

The disused concrete bleachers of Blue Devil Stadium, hand-built by parents in the community. 

“He who thinks can conquer” statue on the grounds. 

A little further up the street, one encounters “13. Masonic Lodge,” a disused building that at one point functioned as the meeting place for a so-called Prince Hall Lodge. In 1775, Prince Hall and fourteen other free Black men, having been rejected for membership in a colonial Masonic lodge, were initiated by British soldiers into the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and later received recognition as African Lodge No. 1. (Such consideration, it seems, did not convince Hall to support the British during the Revolutionary War.) Out of this act eventually grew an independent branch of Freemasonry for African-American men that spread throughout the North, and then into the South following the Civil War. Like other fraternal organizations, Prince Hall lodges offered fellowship for members and allowed the pooling of resources for charitable work, and were thus an important pillar of the African-American community. Cartersville’s Prince Hall Lodge, designated Mount Zion Lodge #6, was founded in 1896. The pamphlet claims that it is “one of the oldest continually active African American lodges in the state,” although I can find no evidence on the Internet that it still exists, and it clearly does not use this building anymore. In its day it ran the Benevolent Brotherhood Society, into which community members made contributions and could draw on in times of emergency. 

Freemasonry is not as popular as it once was although the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia does seem to be a going concern – with or without the Cartersville chapter. 

But perhaps the most significant African-American site in all of Bartow County is “17. Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center” in Cassville. Noble Hill School (also called Cassville Colored School) was constructed in 1923 with help from the Rosenwald Fund. I had never heard of this before, but it was quite important in its day. Like the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who built all those libraries, Julius Rosenwald, president of the Sears, Roebuck and Co., in partnership with Booker T. Washington, used his wealth for the greater good by helping to fund the construction of schools, many of them for Black children in the segregated South. Rosenwald grants were always matching grants, and it should be noted that only 33% of the cost of the Noble Hill school building came from the Fund; 47% was raised by the local community, with the remainder coming from the Bartow Board of Education. The building featured two rooms, one for first through third grade, the other for fourth through seventh grade – and large windows to take advantage of the natural light, as it was not wired for electricity. The school closed in 1955 when many of Bartow County’s Black schools were amalgamated to form Bartow Elementary School (I do not know where this building was located, or what has become of it since the end of segregation). 

From a display at Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center.

After standing empty for a number of years, the Rosenwald building was resurrected in the 1980s as the site of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, a museum dedicated to the former school and to African-American history in Bartow County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Webster Wheeler. noblehillwheeler.org

The “Wheeler” in the institution’s title is the surname of the family most closely associated with Noble Hill: Webster Wheeler (1871-1943) was the school’s main builder; Bethel Wheeler was Webster’s son and assistant; Bertha Wheeler was Bethel’s wife who owned the building and donated it for use as a museum; and Susie Weems Wheeler (1917-2007) was the wife of Webster’s son Daniel, who was an early graduate of the school and who served as the driving force behind the establishment of the museum. 

Dr. Susie Wheeler. “Women of Bartow County” exhibit, Bartow History Museum, 2020.

Susie Wheeler had an accomplished career. She received a bachelor’s degree from Fort Valley State College and eventually an Ed.D. from Atlanta (now Clark Atlanta) University. She taught in Bartow County and later acted as a Jeanes supervisor, that is, a superintendent of Black schools, for Bartow, Gordon, and Polk Counties. She finished her career as curriculum director for the (now integrated) Bartow County Board of Education, and received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2007. She was also a world traveler and 62-year member of Delta Sigma Theta

Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center is also closed on account of the virus, but I was fortunate to be given a private tour by museum curator Valerie Coleman. Some items on display:

This quilt, which received an honorable mention at the Atlanta Quilt Festival, records people who were important to Noble Hill, including Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington on the bottom left, and Webster, Bertha, Bethel, and Susie Wheeler above them. The color picture at the top (underneath the “g” and the “H”) is of another notable local figure: Robert Benham (b. 1946) a native of Cartersville and the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia (1989-2020, with a term as Chief Justice 1995-2001). Justice Benham did not attend Noble Hill, but did graduate from Summer Hill in 1963, and was recruited by Susie Wheeler as a trustee of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center. In this capacity he arranged for a session of the Supreme Court of Georgia at the Center in 1992!

Justice Robert Benham and other members of the Supreme Court of Georgia at Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, 1992.

Dr. W.R. Moore.

The Center also possesses the medical books, photos, and certificates of Dr. William Riley Moore (1881-1954), the first African-American doctor in Cartersville. Dr. Moore came to town from Florida (from the city of Bartow, as it happens) in 1910 and established a practice for himself above Gassett’s Grocery (site 5 on the Heritage Trail) in the African-American business district on West Main Street. He later moved his office to Summer Hill and practiced there until his death in 1954. He delivered almost all the Black babies born in Cartersville (and a few white ones too, although this is not something that he could publicly acknowledge). He was also an important community leader and was instrumental in establishing the Faith Cabin Library in Cartersville for the use of African-Americans. Both he and his landlord John Gassett are buried in the Black section of Oak Hill Cemetery (which, surprisingly, is not a site on the Heritage Trail).

Photo: C.P. McAbee.

My final stop on the Heritage Trail was “16. St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church,” also in Cassville. Like the Prince Hall Masons, the AME Church has its origins in the social prejudices of northern whites against Black people. Tired of the restrictions placed on him, the Black Methodist minister Richard Allen founded the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia in 1794, catering to the free Black population of that city. Other ministers followed his example, and in 1816 he organized the AME Church as an independent denomination, with himself as first bishop. The AME Church spread throughout the South following the Civil War, ministering to freedmen. An AME congregation was organized in Cassville in the late 1860s; the local Presbyterians bequeathed to it their church building, as they were all relocating to Cartersville, the new county seat.† 

Unfortunately this historic congregation has essentially died out, and the church building is disused and not in the best repair (the photo of the interior was provided by my friend Christopher McAbee, who has done research on St. James). There are other active AME congregations in Bartow County, however, and other Black churches (mostly Baptist). It would be nice if some appropriate use could be found for this building – and for the Summer Hill Masonic Hall, for that matter.

But, some will wonder, why do we need to focus on “African-American History” at all? Why all the fuss about people who possess some arbitrary physical attribute that ought to be as trivial as having freckles or being left-handed? This is a natural attitude for people who grew up in mostly-white communities but who have been programmed against racism by everything in their culture. If “we’re all the same underneath,” as they’ve been taught from birth, then why do we pay so much attention to what’s on the surface? Why do we celebrate Black achievements so vociferously, in a way that we don’t for other discrete categories of human?

The answer, of course, is that for the longest time white people believed that we weren’t all the same underneath. My theory is that Early Modern Europeans always had a slightly guilty conscience about slavery – so they invented racism in order to justify it, and thereby made it worse. Slavery is bad, they thought, but it’s not as bad to enslave morally inferior people, clearly marked by their dark skin – in fact, it might even be good for them! Thus, predictably, just because one gets rid of the slavery, doesn’t mean that one gets rid of the racism. Even white Americans in places that had abolished Black slavery in the eighteenth century, and who invaded the Confederacy in order to end the practice, saw no reason to accept free Blacks as social equals. The “races” generally did not mix, and if there was ever a question of the distribution of resources, it was white people who got the lion’s share, if not the whole thing. (If Black people did not like this dispensation, they could always go “back” to Africa. Whites were never enjoined to go “back” to Europe.)

And if this is how Northerners thought, how much more so did Southerners, who in an act of aggression displacement blamed their former slaves for the devastation wrought upon the South by the North, and once they regained control of their states instituted a panoply of laws known by the collective name of “Jim Crow.” Such laws were largely animated by the principle of segregation, the notion that Black people and white people should occupy completely different social spaces, with this division enforced in various formal and informal ways. As this blog post has indicated, during the Jim Crow era in Georgia, Black people and white people had separate: 

• neighborhoods and commercial areas
• schools
• colleges and universities
• churches
• fraternal organizations
• (areas in) cemeteries
• seating areas in restaurants, theaters, and courtrooms
• professional service providers 

One can think of any number of other areas where segregation was applied:

sports leagues
• recreational facilities like swimming pools and even state parks (e.g. “10. George Washington Carver State Park for Negroes” on Lake Allatoona)
• hotels
• prisons
• public toilets and drinking fountains

And so on. In fairness, sometimes such things were found far beyond the states of the former Confederacy. (But I’ve always distrusted the cliché that “in the North, it doesn’t matter how big you get as long as you don’t get too close, but in the South, it doesn’t matter how close you get as long as you don’t get too big.” What was segregation if not an attempt at keeping people from getting too close?)

The fundamental justification for segregation is that the “races” really are different from each other, really are like oil and water, and for everyone’s sake ought to be kept apart from each other. And the longer segregation went on, the more self-justifying it became. For not only did people look different, with social separation they had evolved different cultures, with different ways of speaking, different ways of interacting, different bodies of background knowledge, and so on. In this way are the races really more than “skin deep” in the United States – phenotype is generally a marker of culture as well. 

So what is wrong with segregation then? What’s wrong with you hanging out with your people, and I hanging out with mine? We self-segregate along such lines all the time, as any observation of the school cafeteria will indicate. What’s the big deal? Well, the answer is that there is a big difference between doing something because you want to, and doing something because you have to. Much more important, however, is the whole issue of power. White people were in command of all levels of government, and whether by law or social custom, segregation was their project, implemented for their (supposed) benefit. During Jim Crow the races were kept apart – with Black people firmly “beneath” white people in any number of ways. As is apparent by now, the separate facilities for Black people were always crappier than those for whites. It’s not white people who had to use the side entrance to Ross’s Diner and eat in the windowless back room, out of public view. It’s not the white schools that received cast-off textbooks from Black schools. Perhaps most important, it is not white people who had to fear vigilante justice from Black mobs, acting in the knowledge that no jury would convict them. On some abstract level “separate but equal” is a tenable proposition, but in reality it never worked that way. (If nothing else, Black people did not get to vote for Black representatives to a Black legislature, passing legislation binding only on Black people.) Thus did the United States Supreme Court rightly reject it in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954). 

And yet… for all its faults, segregation did allow Black people to be in control of their own institutions. Shelby Steele has written about this, personally recalling the camaraderie that existed among African-Americans in the face of institutionalized white racism. Was something important lost when Summer Hill closed its doors and its students sent to Cartersville High? Perhaps, and it is interesting to note how some segregation-era organizations live on. The Negro leagues might no longer be with us, but Black churches, fraternities, and HBCUs certainly are – and are clearly valued as such by their members. For if “African-American” is a culture, then African-Americans should be able to have their own spaces where their own culture prevails, even as segregation is legally and morally forbidden otherwise. And forbidden for a good reason – people might generally want to hang out with people “like them,” but it’s nice to have the option not to, and it is this compulsory aspect of segregation that is so depressing, a blanket statement that cross-racial amity is simply impossible. It’s also just inefficient: imagine having to spend all that effort policing this boundary, and having to provide two of everything. 

I applaud the Cartersville-Bartow Convention and Visitors’ Bureau for creating the Heritage Trail – and I’m pleased to note that the Georgia Downtown Association agrees with me. I have discovered that the Georgia Historical Society has actually replaced the Georgia Historical Commission as the body responsible for the erection of new historical markers, with the specific mandate of correcting some of the biases of the past. I certainly believe that many of the items in the Heritage Trail pamphlet deserve to be memorialized publicly in metal (not just with QR codes). Summer Hill School is surely as important as the precise locations of the troops of Johnston, Hardee, and Polk at 5 P.M. on May 19, 1864. 

* Although in fairness I should note that several African-American women, including Susie Wheeler and Louise Young Harris (pastor of Queen Chapel in Kingston), are included in the temporary Women of Bartow exhibit on the first floor.

** See the section on Cassville in Lisa Russell’s Lost Towns of North Georgia (2016).

*** According to the pamphlet, 118 N. Erwin St. was commandeered in 1864 for use as a post office by Mrs. Field’s cousin, Union Army Colonel Benjamin Harrison of Indiana. Such an action infuriated Mrs. Field and she refused to welcome Harrison into her home ever again… even after he became the 23rd president of the United States!

† The Presbyterian/AME church building was one of only a few to survive the burning of Cassville on November 5, 1864. 

Allatoona Pass

The creation of Lake Allatoona in 1950 necessitated a shift in the Western & Atlantic Railroad slightly to the west in places. The abandoned pilings on the Etowah River are one indication of this; the abandoned Allatoona Pass, further to the south, is another. 

Google Maps.

You can see the location of the current track, rendered as a faint horizontal line just below Old Allatoona Road SE. The darker dotted line to the north mostly follows the track as it was in the nineteenth century.

I’m not sure why the railroad ever took this route in the first place, because it necessitated the creation of a deep cutting. But these days it provides a nice setting for a walk. Andrews’ Raiders would have driven the stolen General through here. 

I love the use of little flags as “emojis.”

But the place is far more significant historically for the Battle of Allatoona, fought on October 5, 1864. This took place after Sherman occupied Kingston (in May), after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (June-July), and after the Battle of Atlanta (which fell September 2) – all engagements in the Atlanta Campaign. (Sherman, who had worked as a young army lieutenant in the region, knew about Allatoona Pass and that it would be “very strong, and hard to force, and resolved not even to attempt it.” So he simply went around it on his way to Atlanta. The Confederates retreated, and the Union troops took Allatoona unopposed on June 1.)

Nineteenth century photograph of Allatoona Pass, from an interpretive sign at Allatoona Pass Battlefield.

The real fighting took place as part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, an attempt by the Confederacy to disrupt Union supply lines. Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood abandoned Atlanta to Sherman and retreated to Lovejoy’s Station south of the city. Near the end of September, he moved his troops to Palmetto, Ga. where he met with CSA President Jefferson Davis to devise strategy. They decided that they would retrace the steps of the the Atlanta Campaign, but in reverse – Hood would move his troops north along the Western & Atlantic Railroad, wrecking property now held by the Union and hoping to entice Sherman to follow him, and to force an open battle on ground favorable to the Confederates. As the historical marker makes clear, on Oct. 3, Lt. Gen. Alexander Stewart seized Big Shanty (i.e. Kennesaw) and Acworth, and on Oct. 4 Samuel French moved towards the Union garrison at Allatoona. Unlike Sherman, French was not prepared to outflank it. 

From an interpretive sign at Allatoona Pass Battlefield. Underlining added. 

Union troops occupied positions on the tops of the hills on either side of the cutting. These are “Rowett’s Redoubt” and “Eastern Redoubt” on the map. To the east of Rowett’s Redoubt is the so-called “Star Fort” that Union troops retreated to. To the west of the Eastern Reboubt is “Headquarters – Fourth Minnesota,” a wood-frame “dog-trot” cabin where Lt. Col. John Eaton Tourtellotte stationed himself. The two sides of the railway cutting were connected by a footbridge. 

Contrary to Confederate hopes, Sherman did not give chase to Hood, but did order Gen. John M. Corse to move his troops from Rome, Ga. and to assume command of the defense of Allatoona. Corse and his men arrived by rail just hours before the Confederate bombardment began in the early morning of Oct. 5. After two hours of this, French declared a truce and sent a message to Corse: 

I have the forces under my command and in such positions that you are surrounded and, in order to avoid a needless effusion of blood, I call upon you to surrender your forces at once, and unconditionally. Five minutes will be allotted you to decide. Should you accede to this , you will be treated in the most honorable manner as prisoners of war.

According to Sherman’s memoirs, Corse replied:

Your communication demanding surrender of my command I acknowledge receipt of, and respectfully reply that we are prepared for the “needless effusion of blood” whenever it is agreeable to you.

Such a response is rhetorically edifying, no doubt, which might cause one to suspect whether it actually happened. Certainly, the interpretive sign claims that Corse gave no response, and after fifteen minutes French called off the truce and began a ground assault. 

From an interpretive sign at Allatoona Pass Battlefield.

This map gives a general sense of what happened next. French ordered Francis Cockrell and William Young, commanding troops from Missouri and Texas, to attack from the west, and Claudius Sears, commanding troops from Mississippi, to attack from the north. Troops under Richard Rowett defended the hill on the western side of the cutting, while Tourtellotte’s troops defended the hill on the eastern side.

On the western side the fighting was intense. Union troops made effective use of their Henry Repeating rifles and Napoleon gun, but the Confederates would not quit, and despite taking enormous casualties, they eventually reached Rowett’s Redoubt. Soon “fierce hand-to-hand fighting with clubbed muskets, fists, swords, and even rocks” forced the Union troops to retreat to the Star Fort dragging their Napoleon with them. The fighting continued, even injuring Gen. Corse, who lost a cheek bone and one ear. Despite receiving some supplies and men over the footbridge, by the early afternoon Union troops in the Star Fort were pinned down, out of water, and almost out of ammunition.

(Events unfolded a bit better for the Union on the eastern side of the cutting. From their trenches, Union troops managed to repulse two Confederate regiments and deliver enfilading fire against a third. Some Confederate troops took refuge in a gulley where they could neither attack nor be attacked; they surrendered and were taken prisoner after the battle.)

What brought the battle to a close was not a decisive military maneuver on either side, but the receipt of a piece of intelligence by French, which stated that Union troops were on the march from Big Shanty. Fearing that he would either be overwhelmed by this force or cut off from the rest of the Confederate army encamped at Dallas, Ga., and in need of more troops and supplies for a final assault on the Star Fort, French reluctantly ordered a withdrawal around 2:00 PM. Thus is the Battle of Allatoona considered a Union victory – they held the position, and prevented over one million rations stored there from being taken or destroyed by the Confederates. 

But this victory came at an immense cost. Of Corse’s 2000 men, some 700 (an astonishing 35%) were casualties of the battle. Numbers on the Confederate side were not much better: of 3300 men, 900 were casualties, for a rate of 27%. The Battle of Allatoona was “one of the most deadly and stubbornly contested of the war.” Private Harvey M. Trimble of the 93rd Illinois wrote that:

The scene in that ravine after the battle was ended, was beyond all powers of description. All the languages of the earth combined are inadequate to tell half its horrors. Mangled and torn in every conceivable manner, the dead and wounded were everywhere, in heaps and windrows. Enemies though they were, their conquerors, only a few minutes removed from the heat and passion of battle, sickened and turned away, or remaining, looked only with great compassion, and through tears, upon that field of blood and carnage and death, upon that wreck of high hopes and splendid courage, that hecatomb of human life.

French did get his surviving troops back to Dallas, but the rest of the Franklin-Nashville campaign went about as well as the Battle of Allatoona did for the Confederates. Hood ended up resigning his commission in early 1865, having been chased to Tupelo, Mississippi after a major defeat at the Battle of Nashville (Dec. 15-16, 1864). Sherman, for his part, did not really bother with Hood – he began his March to the Sea on November 15 and took Savannah on December 20. By this point in the war, there was little doubt which side would eventually win it. 

One final detail about this battle deserves mentioning. Communication was possible between Sherman and Allatoona on account of the Crow’s Nest, a signal tower atop a Georgia pine, which could send and receive messages from Kennesaw Mountain (with, presumably, further relays to stations southwards). 

From an interpretive sign at Allatoona Pass Battlefield.

Popular legend has it that either prior to or during the battle General Sherman signaled “Hold the fort, I am coming,” which stiffened Corse’s resolve and dissuaded him from surrendering. Again, this information did not make it onto the interpretive sign, perhaps because no contemporary record or such communication can be found (note the “citation needed” comments at Wikiquote). Apparently, though, this quotation inspired Chicago evangelist Philip Bliss to compose a hymn. I had never heard “Hold the Fort” before, perhaps because such explicitly militaristic hymns are no longer in fashion:

Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.

Refrain:
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”

See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on;
Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!

See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow!
In our Leader’s Name we triumph over every foe.

Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander, cheer, my comrades, cheer!

Remains of the Star Fort.

Remains of the Eastern Redoubt.

Allatoona is much more tranquil today, of course. It is reforested, and the trenches are faint – and unfortunately iPhone photos do them even less justice. But it is good to be able to see what remains, and remember why they were constructed in the first place. 

The information above has been gleaned from Wikipedia and from the numerous interpretive signs throughout the battlefield. We commend Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites for its historically accurate flag graphic on these signs.

The U.S. flag has 35 stars, for the number of states claimed at the time, the most recent being West Virginia (1863; flag updated July 4 of that year). The CSA flag is its second national flag, which debuted in 1863. They’ve even got the proportions right!

Alas, the canton of the “Stainless Banner” features the ever-controversial battle flag, prompting its effacement on some of the signs. But objecting to its presence in such a neutral and didactic context is just dumb. 

Fortunately, vandalism has not yet been visited upon the Memorial Ground, which features monuments for all the states of the soldiers at the Battle of Allatoona – five Union and six Confederate. Interestingly, Georgia is not represented among them. 

I reproduce photos of some of the monuments below. If I had better software I would edit out my reflection as it appears. (As an aside: isn’t it interesting how Americans love the shapes of their states?) 

Another monument, the Grave of the Unknown Hero, may be found at a location marked by the blue star on the map.

Google maps.

An interpretive sign at the red star on the map gives further information:

Local families once recalled that a few days after the battle, a wooden box addressed “Allatoona, Georgia” arrived at the station with no information as to its origin. Six local women found a deceased Confederate soldier in the box and buried him alongside the railroad in a location lost to history. Local historians believe that the burial on this spot is not the soldier the ladies buried, but Private Andrew Jackson Houston of Mississippi, who died here in the battle and was buried where he fell.

Forgotten to time for several yers, in 1880 this site was marked with an iron fence and a marble headstone inscribed “AN UNKNOWN HERO, He died for the Cause He thought was right.” Railroad employees maintained the grave for many years and later moved the grave to its present site when the rail line was relocated.

It is interesting that nothing Confederate currently decorates the grave of the Unknown Hero – despite that he was originally designated as Confederate by the people who buried him. By the early twentieth century the idea was that he could have been on either side, as expressed in this poem by Georgia Governor Joseph M. Brown – a seeming attempt at “reconciliation.”

From an interpretive sign at Allatoona Pass Battlefield.

But I guess he was ultimately “Unionized.” I assume there’s a lesson of some sort here. 

Most of the other victims of the battle were buried where they died in unmarked graves, although some Union soldiers were eventually reinterred in the Marietta National Cemetery.

The railroad, as my students are fond of saying about various historical things, is “still in use today.”

The Atlanta Campaign

From May through September 1864 northwestern Georgia witnessed a major event in the American Civil War: the Atlanta Campaign, whereby General William Tecumseh Sherman, recently appointed Union commander of the Western Theater, marched his troops towards Atlanta in order to strike at the Confederates in their heartland and destroy their capacity to wage war. In this project he was opposed first by CSA General Joseph E. Johnston, and then by Gen. John Bell Hood. Both occasionally impeded the advance but they never succeeded in stopping it, and certainly not reversing it. 

Wikipedia.

One can follow the Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail from Chattanooga to Atlanta, but this post will be restricted to examining some engagements around the middle of the map – i.e. the ones closest to Reinhardt – which took place in late May and early June of 1864. I have noticed that there is a certain fractal quality to military history, whereby one can “zoom in” on a particular episode and examine it in terms of the units and personalities involved and on an almost hour-to-hour basis. I have nothing but respect for people who can do this, but I confess that I have never had the patience to master it. Instead, this post will be more about how these places are signified today.

Adairsville, in northeastern Bartow County, saw some action on May 17, 1864. According to Wikipedia (and every other website that copies it), the battle consisted of skirmishing between entrenched units of CSA Gen. William J. Hardee’s corps and Union Gen. Oliver Otis Howard’s IV Corps, and included an unsuccessful assault by regiments under Union Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur against a division commanded by CSA Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham. Unfortunately for Johnston, Adairsville did not provide the terrain for the staging of a more forceful defense, and so on May 18 the Confederates continued their retreat southwards. Johnston then devised a plan: he hoped to entice Sherman into dividing his troops into two groups, one of which would take the road to Cassville, the other the road to Kingston. Johnston would then concentrate his attack on one of the weakened columns. This is more or less what happened: on May 19, Sherman ordered James B. McPherson and George Henry Thomas to Kingston, and John Schofield to Cassville. CSA Gen. Leonidas Polk was to meet Schofield’s troops head-on on the Cassville-Adairsville Road, while Hood was to attack them from the east. It might have worked, except that Union Gen. Daniel Butterfield somehow discovered Hood’s troops, blowing their cover, forcing them to retreat, and ruining their plan to attack Schofield. Shortly thereafter, Johnston took his army across the Etowah River, in the hopes of finding a better place to make a stand against Sherman. Apparently such cautiousness was not very good for morale and was one reason why Johnston was eventually relieved of his command. 

Adairsville Cemetery may be found on Poplar Springs Road, just off US-41, and just south of GA-140. I assume some of the Confederate graves therein are for the victims of the Battle of Adairsville, although there is no separate Confederate plot as one finds at Kingston or Cassville. At the corner of the cemetery, three Georgia state historical markers give information about Adairsville’s role in the Atlanta Campaign.

Wikipedia claims that the cemetery is a “site of the part of the battlefield” but the map on the page indicates that the battle took place further to the north. Perhaps this explains why no sign in the cemetery addresses the events of May 17 (although if they’re going to be talking about Mosteller’s Mills, five miles out of town, then why not talk about the actual Battle of Adairsville too?). Instead, the markers just talk about troop movements on May 18 – the Confederate retreat, and the Union chase – in as bloodless a manner as possible! I realize that these markers have a limited amount of space, but it’s a shame that this fact, plus an apparent desire to record the precise units involved, leads to such stilted prose. (The Georgia Historical Commission could have at least taken a cue from the Bartow County Cultural Arts Alliance and utilized both sides of the sign.)

UPDATE: The Georgia Historical Society’s online catalogue of historical markers reveals that there is a marker to the north of town, on US 41 in front of the Adairsville Church of God, entitled “Original Site Adairsville 1830s,” but continuing:

May 17, 1864, Johnston’s forces [CSA] retreated S. From Reseca and paused here on an E. – W. line, the intention being to make a stand against the Federals in close pursuit.

Finding the position untenable due to width of Oothcaloga Valley, Johnston withdrew at midnight. Hardee’s Corps [CSA] was astride the road at this point.

In rear-guard action, detachments from Hardee’s Corps held the stone residence of Robert C. Saxon, 0.2 mi. N. of the County Line, until midnight.

So I guess that describes the Battle of Adairsville, such as it was. I would have given it a different title though.

• A few days later, in order to avoid attacking Allatoona, and in the hopes of outflanking Johnston, Sherman sent his troops in a wide arc to the west. But Johnston anticipated this move, and sent some of his own troops to check them. 

On May 25, near Dallas, Georgia, Sherman’s troops met the Confederates well entrenched at New Hope Church (and unentrenched across the road in the New Hope Cemetery – the troops were not willing to dig among the graves, instead using the headstones for cover). The GHC historic marker tells what happened next.

An Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail marker gives more detail. The subtitle “A Costly Failure” just about sums it up. Sherman did not believe that the Confederates had gotten so many troops to New Hope in time, and ordered his subordinates to attack. The Confederates successfully repulsed them, causing some 1650 casualties while suffering only 450 of their own. 

New Hope Church still exists, and may be found at the intersection of the Dallas-Acworth Highway and Bobo Road in Dallas, Georgia. If its website is any indication, the church is far more interested in knowing Christ and making Him known than in maintaining the legacy of its eponymous battle. Yet immediately to the south of the parking lot is a little park quite full of monuments. 

It seems that everyone wants a piece of this battle. Not only are there markers from the Georgia Historical Commission and the Atlanta Civil War Heritage Trail, but also from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the National Parks Service, and even the Works Progress Administration. 

In other words, Confederate sympathizers want to claim the victory, while others want to make sure that “both sides” are remembered – or at least prove their magnanimity as the ultimate winners of the Civil War. 

Across Bobo Rd. one finds the original New Hope church building, now in use as a church hall.

To the south of this parking lot stands another monument to the battle (a “Confederate Victory”), erected by the SCV at the sesquicentennial in 2014…

…and a well-defined and prominently-labeled Confederate trench. 

Across Dallas-Acworth Highway to the north is New Hope Cemetery, also the site of fighting on May 25 (and on May 26, as the GHC marker indicates). 

Just to make sure that everyone knows who won this one, someone has hoisted a Bonnie Blue flag over the sign. 

There is also a Confederate plot elsewhere in the cemetery, with standard-issue tombstones and a large Battle Flag (apparently flying upside-down, although nineteenth-century Confederates were not particularly fastidious about the orientation of the stars). 

By early June, Union troops abandoned their positions and retreated eastwards, with the Confederates moving parallel to them. 

• On May 27 another battle took place at Pickett’s Mill, to the east of New Hope Church. Union General Oliver O. Howard faced off against Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, with similar results: Howard’s men were repulsed suffering 1600 casualties, as opposed to Cleburne’s 500. Interestingly, there are no monuments here that I noticed, although an account of the battle by author Ambrose Bierce can tell you more about it. The whole battleground is a state park maintained by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The hiking trails are wonderful but as a historic site it leaves something to be desired. You encounter little signs with numbers on the trails, but they are not marked or explained on the map that you get. Otherwise, there is a dearth interpretive signage. This was one of only three that I found. 

And its map is badly oriented. North is actually behind the reader! Why not align the map with reality?

Presumably the visitor center can tell you more, but it is only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and I was there on a Tuesday. Sad!

• The Battle of Marietta comprised a series of military operations from June 9 through July 3. One of the more significant of these occurred on June 14, when Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk was killed atop Pine Mountain (which is not to be confused with Bartow County’s Pine Mountain). 

Living Hope Church, at the corner of Stilesboro Rd. and Mack Dobbs Rd. in Kennesaw, has an undeveloped back yard in which one may see the remains of the Union trenches that shelled Pine Mountain.

A mile and a quarter away, atop Pine Mountain, one sees a historic marker detailing the fateful day. It’s true, Leonidas Polk was killed by a shell – not by a shell fragment, but by a direct hit from an actual shell, which essentially cut him in two. It was an extremely lucky shot.

Just off the road, on private property, one sees a monument to Gen. Polk. It was put up in 1902 by the property owners, who consulted with veteran witnesses to ensure that it was placed on the precise spot where Polk was killed. It is one of the most interesting Confederate monuments I think I’ve ever seen. The south-facing side reads:

It continues, in the usual elevated style:

Folding his arms across his breast, he stood gazing on the scenes below, turning himself around as if to take a farewell view.

Thus standing a cannon shot from the enemy’s guns crashed through his breast and opened a wide door through which his spirit took its flight to join his comrades on the other shore.

Surely the earth never opened her arms to allow the head of a braver man to rest upon her bosom.

Surely the light never pushed the darkness back to make brighter the road that leads to the lamb.

And surely the gates of heaven never opened wider to allow a more manly spirit to enter therein.

This is rather a different view of Polk than one that his contemporaries might have held. Polk was noted for his willfulness, his violent disagreements with fellow officers, and for his general lack of success in battle, including “one of the great blunders of the Civil War,” when he marched his troops to Columbus, Kentucky in September 1861, thereby prompting the state to abandon its declared neutrality by requesting Federal aid and thus becoming a de facto member of the Union for the remainder of the war. Yet he was popular with his troops, and his death was a great blow for morale. (Military historian Steven E. Woodworth claimed that it was bad for the Union too, as Polk’s incompetence meant that he was much more valuable alive than dead!)

As the Episcopal bishop of Louisiana and the main force behind the establishment of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., Polk also has a built-in audience from other quarters. Perhaps this explains the items left at the base of the monument: magazines in plastic bags, laminated sheets in praise of Polk, and numerous examples of “Polk’s flag” (i.e. that of First Corps, Army of Tennessee). 

The north-facing side of the monument simply reads:

North

Veni, vidi, vici

With 5 to 1

This is remarkable. I’ve never seen a Confederate monument run down the opposing side like this – or offer a reason why it won (apparently the North cheated by having a numerical advantage, although it was not quite 5 to 1). 

My thanks to Don Bergwall and Melvin Dishong for showing me around this one. 

Marietta Cemeteries

I never realized that there are two Civil-War-era cemeteries in Marietta – one Confederate, and one Union (I thought there was just one, for both). What turns out to have been the Confederate one I had seen before, but I could not get in this time, because it was closed. The cemetery’s website claims that this is for the sake of maintenance, but the police officer stationed near the main entrance told me that there had been some recent vandalism in the cemetery, which suggests that the closure as much for prevention of damage as for repair of it. So these photos are the best I can do.

I’ll take the liberty of reposting Wikipedia’s photo of the historical marker.

Wikipedia

Note how the cannon was returned in 1910. Apparently the Arch of Tribute in the second photo above was put up in 1911. Two data points in the first blip.  

Google maps.

Marietta National Cemetery, by contrast, is open – and better maintained by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. You can find it about a half mile to the northeast of the Confederate Cemetery. 

A marker tells where it came from. 

More on Henry Green Cole, “the most dangerous man in Georgia,” can be read at Marietta Patch. Cole is lucky not to have shared the fate of James J. Andrews of the eponymous raid. 

One interesting feature of this cemetery is the appearance of an older design for the headstones featuring a shield, which is different from today’s. (The slightly bluer-colored headstones to the left in the photo are examples of the newer format.)

Marietta National Cemetery is full and has no more space for interments. Since 2006, military burials have taken place in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, of which there have already been several thousand. I stopped by for the first time earlier this summer. The current format of the headstones allows for the discreet expression of some individual identity at the top. Most have a Christian cross. I guess there is no longer any need for the Confederate emblem, but if you’re not Christian, or a particular type of Christian, or not religious at all, plenty of other options are available from the VA. Spotting them as they appear in the cemetery is fun. Some examples:

Native American Church of North America.

Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).

Sufism Reoriented (founded by Meher Baba).

Pine Log and White

More local exploration:

Google Maps.

The Rydal post office is located at the intersection of GA-140 and US-411 in northeastern Bartow County, thus is everyone in the surrounding area denoted as living in “Rydal.” But the community to the northwest of the intersection is generally known to the locals as Pine Log, and the red star on the map indicates the location of Pine Log Methodist Church

Here is how the church appears as you cross under the railroad tracks. It gets its own historical marker, which states:

Historic Pine Log Methodist church, cemetery, tabernacle, and camp grounds, established in 1834. The oldest church in continuous use in Cass/Bartow County. This Church area is on the national register for historic district.

Another marker elaborates:

The church, built 1842; campground and tabernacle, 1888; and cemetery, begun in 1850, were listed in the National Register of Historic Places September 9, 1988. The Methodist organization was founded on this site by Stephen Elliot about 1834 in a community of recent settlers from Eastern Georgia and Pendleton District, S.C. The original meeting house was a log structure which doubled as a school. Many descendants of the first members still attend services here. Camp meetings are held for one week each August.

The size of the cemetery indicates that Pine Log Methodist has indeed been around for some time. And yes, there is a large “tabernacle” (i.e. a roofed but otherwise open building for preaching) behind the church, surrounded by a number of cabins.

I have never seen such a thing on a church grounds. Dr. Wheeler explains:

In the nineteenth century people pitched tents, but over time, families built the cabins, which they stay in during revival week. Holcomb Campground in eastern Cherokee County is this way, too. Basically a holdover from a time before people went on vacations.

Interesting stuff!

If you travel south of Pine Log on Olive Vine Road, you come to Olive Vine Baptist Church, marked with a blue star on the map. It too merits a historic marker. 

This historic church was founded for the glory of God and the furthering of the gospel on Oct 31, 1880 on land donated by Rev. Henry Green Berry Turner. In the original deed, Rev. Turner, who pastored the church for many years, stipulated that “two or more of the said members shall keep up the ordinance and the example of feet washing that belong to the house of God as described in the articles of faith and covenants entered into which the said church was organized.”

Over the years, the white wooden building has remained unchanged externally. The rafters are the original hewn logs.

According to church records, Rev. H.G.B. Turner preached in this building as late as May 7, 1921 when he was in his mid-80s. He died at his home on Feb. 15, 1923. His funeral was conducted in this church on Feb 19, 1923. At his request, he was given a Masonic burial on these grounds.

This Mr. Turner seems quite the fellow. I’m glad that Primitive Baptists were allowed to join the Freemasons. His own grave merits another historic marker, which reads in part:

Rev. Henry Green Berry Turner was born Jan. 5, 1836 near Spartanburg, South Carolina and moved to Cherokee County, Georgia with his father when he was 10 years old.

At age 35, he was ordained a minister of the gospel, and for more than 50 years served as pastor of from two to four churches. He was commissioned as tax receiver in neighboring Pickens County, Georgia on Jan. 18, 1873. He moved to Bartow County and settled in Pine Log in 1876.

He was a founder of Olive Vine Baptist Church in 1880 and was an influential minister here for many years. He was known as a strict disciplinarian….

Rev. Turner died on Feb. 15, 1923 at age 87. According to his obituary printed in both the Bartow Tribune and the Cherokee Tribune, “too much could not be said about the great work that he accomplished while working among the people of Bartow County.” In his eulogy, Rev. H.H. Popham said that “the life of Mr. Turner has been one well spent and worthy of emulation by everyone; a life that was full of good works, and about which there were no regrets.”

He certainly left a large brood (twelve children, according to the sign), whose descendants regularly gather at Olive Vine Church for family reunions. 

A little further to the south, on Old Tennessee Road, is Vaughan Cemetery, which is marked with an orange star on the map.

The cemetery does not seem to have been associated with a church, but was simply the Vaughan family plot – if the names on many of the headstones are any indication.

As you can see, some of the Vaughans fought for the Confederacy, hence the government-issued grave marker of the sort noticed at Silverdale

Then, further to the south, one encounters the embarrassingly-named City of White. It too has a post office, so many people in the area, beyond the city itself, are designated as living in White. As one of those people, I have had to endure innumerable jibes over the years suggesting that my town is racist. 

But it’s really just named after its first postmaster, James Alexander White, who was exercising this function by 1890 and whose portrait used to hang in the White post office. (I took this photo a few years ago with my first digital camera, which wasn’t very good and which I didn’t quite know how to use, thus the poor quality of the image.)

According to the Etowah Valley Historical Society, mining operations to the south at Aubrey (manganese and iron ore) plus the completion of the Etowah Cartersville New Line Railroad in 1906 allowed the place to thrive. It was incorporated in 1919, with one Dr. W.B. Vaughan appointed mayor by the Georgia General Assembly (surprisingly, he does not seem to be buried in the Vaughan Cemetery, unless he is William J. “Guinea Will” Vaughan, 1863-1928). Not long afterwards, in 1925, a fire broke out in Harry Woodall’s store, which quickly spread and destroyed most of the business district. But White rebuilt, and this is reflected in the city emblem.

Note the town on fire on one side, the resurrected town on the other (complete with power lines and part of an automobile!), all under a symbolic phoenix rising from the ashes. Plus two rolls of toilet paper. 

At the corner of Old Tennessee St. and Richards Road. I believe this building is the only memento of the original business district.

But equally destructive was the Great Depression and the closing of the mines at Aubrey. The construction of US-411 in the 1930s caused the business district to shift from the west side of the tracks (where it used to line Old Tennessee Rd.) to the east side, but the construction of I-75 in 1977 means that the major north-south traffic artery now bypasses White entirely. 

Yet the city abides. It is currently the home of White Elementary School, Cass High School, J’s Simply Soul, Wes-Man’s (both of which I recommend), several churches, the Toyo Tire factory, the North Georgia Mercantile, and Old Car City. Of course, as with many small towns, the police can be somewhat corrupt on occasion, but that problem seems to have been put behind us for now.

Kingston

Kingston, Georgia, is a city of some 600 souls found between Cartersville and Rome. Its name does not reflect any residual American loyalism on the part of its founders, but is a memorial to John Pendleton King, U.S. Senator from Georgia (1833-37). Its incorporation in 1850 suggests that its existence and location are on account of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which had recently opened for business and which still runs through the center of town. 

One cannot mention the Western & Atlantic without mentioning the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, a famous and exciting episode in the Civil War (although one of little strategic or tactical consequence). According to a historical marker, Andrews’ Raiders:

were forced to side-track here & wait for S. bound freights. After long delay, the “GENERAL” continued N..

Pursuing from Big Shanty, Capt. W. A. Fuller (Conductor), Jeff Cain (Engineer), & Anthony Murphy, — using a push-car — reached the Etowah, where the engine “YONAH” brought them to Kingston; pursuit was resumed on the Rome R. R. locomotive “Wm. R. SMITH.”

The next stop on the Chase was Adairsville, which also revels in this history

Kingston is significant to the Civil War in other ways. Like Cassville, it was the site of a Confederate hospital. The Kingston Wayside Home, according to a marker, was established in August 1861 by the Soldiers’ Aid Society, and treated over 10,000 sick and wounded soldiers over the next three years. Some 250 of these men “known but to God” who succumbed to wounds sustained at “Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and in the Dalton-Kingston Campaign” are buried in a plot in the Kingston Cemetery. The obelisk was put up by the Ladies’ Memorial Association in 1874 and restored by “SCS Camp GA-13” in 1937 (note that it appears on the town seal under the label “Heritage”). 

Plenty of other historical markers throughout Kingston record other events in the Civil War, including the operation of the Kingston saltpeter mine (whose product was used to make gunpowder), the arrival of Federal troops under William T. Sherman and James B. McPherson on May 18, 1864, the fact that Hargris House on Main St. served as Sherman’s headquarters May 19-23, 1864, and that Sherman received orders at Kingston to begin his March to the Sea on November 7, 1864. Then on May 12, 1865 at Kingston (i.e. over a month after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox), Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford, CSA, headquartered at the McCravey-Johnson residence on Church St., negotiated the surrender of some 3000 Confederate troops to Brig. Gen. Henry M. Judah, USA. But not before the establishment of the first Confederate Memorial Day, which Kingston is proud to claim:

(I would not be averse to revising that last clause….)

Finally, there is Queen Chapel, located on the south side of Kingston. It is billed as an Independent Methodist church, but it seems that at one point it was an African Methodist Episcopal church. Note the deleted letters in these two plaques:

I would be curious to know what the story is here.

The church cemetery boasts the grave of Melvinia Shields, who was born into slavery in Clayton County, Ga. in 1844 and whose three-greats granddaughter is former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Out and About in Bartow County

Sometimes you can find interesting things in your own backyard.

• Not far from where I live is Rowland Springs Baptist Church. Nearby is the Rowland Springs Estates subdivision. Both of these take their names from a nineteenth-century resort located between them, a historical marker for which I discovered this week on Simpson Circle just before it gets to Harvey Knight Road (marked with a red star on the map). A chapter devoted to the resort and the personal connections made there appears in Ken Wheeler’s forthcoming book, which also deals with the fact that Rowland Springs was largely constructed by slaves, something ignored by the sign.

Google Maps.

Curious about whether anything remained of Rowland Springs resort, I went exploring around the pond, which is indeed approximately one third of a mile east of the historical marker. But I’m afraid that I didn’t find much.

“Rowland Spring,” marked on the southeast of the pond on the map, has had something built around it.  

It appears that the pond is man-made; on the south end of it is a wall, with a spillway over it.

The only evidence of actual buildings may be found on the northwest side of the pond. But I have no idea if these are remains of the resort, or if so, what buildings they might have been. 

Seems an ignominious end to the “most exclusive resort in Georgia”!

• The town of Euharlee may be found about nine miles to the west of Cartersville, in the shadow of Plant Bowen. Euharlee is famous for its wooden bridge, built in 1886 by Washington King, son of freedman Horace King. 

A view of the interior reveals the wooden “town lattice” design. Of course, no vehicular traffic traverses the bridge anymore – the newer car-bearing concrete bridge crosses Euharlee Creek a little further downstream, allowing this bridge to remain as a memento of yesteryear.

More information on the bridge can be read on these two signs. Actually, much of Euharlee is quaint and historic, with plenty of signs like the one above explaining such things as the Lowry Grist Mill, the Lowry Family Homestead, the Granary and Commissary, the Mercantile and Blacksmith shop, and the Black Pioneers’ Cemetery. It’s worth a stop if you’re every passing through. 

• Bartow County’s Confederate memorial still stands on the front lawn of the county courthouse. It has not yet been toppled or even defaced by vandals, although Cartersville has had some pro-BLM protests. It is fairly typical of the sort of Confederate monument one finds in small towns across the South, and includes the usual helping of gaseous nineteenth-century “elevated” diction:

I am no fan of the Confederacy and I do not agree with any Lost Cause idealization of it, but I am still not in favor of taking down this monument. It’s fairly unobtrusive – you don’t even realize it’s a Confederate monument until you get up close to it – and it’s just sitting there; it is not in continuous use to represent Bartow County (unlike, say, Mississippi’s flag or the star of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, both of which have become politically unpalatable). Like other monuments, it does not accurately represent the Confederacy, but it does reflect the era when people wanted to uplift Confederates. In that way, it certainly is “historic.”

Wikipedia.

As you can see, a great surge of monument building took place in the first decade of the twentieth century, I suppose as a result of Confederate veterans dying off. (Jim Crow had been well established by then and I don’t think it was under threat by the federal government – unlike in the the 1950s and -60s, which produced the second blip.) 

However, I would not be against the installation of a plaque explaining this historical context, and suggesting that such lines as “there were men whom power could not corrupt” or “the state has preserved the priceless treasure of her memories” are not to be taken seriously. 

I have stated before that I am in favor of leaving monuments alone, and constructing more monuments to things that we currently approve of. I have not changed this opinion, and I am pleased to note that Cartersville agrees with me in its way. Not far away from the county courthouse is the city hall, and since 2018 its front lawn has featured this sculpture, entitled Pathways to Freedom: A Story in Every Stitch, by artist Przemyslaw Kordys. The nine squares represent different quilt patterns which held coded meanings for slaves traveling to freedom along the Underground Railroad. A nearby plaque explains them. For instance, the square at the top is designated the North Star (“prepare to journey north to freedom”), the square on the far left is called Crossroads (“referring specifically to Cleveland, Ohio, code named Station Hope”), and the square on the bottom is Wagon Wheel (“pack provisions for traveling by wagon”). More information on the African American Quilt Documentation Project of Bartow County, which sponsored this monument, may be read on the website of the Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

I am glad that the Underground Railway existed, and we all ought to know more about it, but this monument proves, in its way, that we are no less prone to mythologizing than ex-Confederates were c. 1910. The idea that quilts were ever used to give coded instructions to runaway slaves, while inspirational, seems to date from the 1990s at the earliest. I am not in favor of taking down this monument either, but we should probably not condescend to the past if we too are going to indulge in expressing things that we want to be true but whose existence is not supported by primary source evidence. I’m pleased to note that even the plaque for this sculpture states that “The patterns in the quilt motif are believed to have been used by enslaved Africans in their escape to freedom. Legend holds the quilt patterns were given code meanings to aid slaves” (emphasis added).

• This ruin, located just north of Kingston, serves as a silent witness to the existence of the Howard Hydraulic Cement Company, which employed fifty men around the turn of the twentieth century. It even provided the name of the local town: Cement, whose charter was repealed in 1995.

• Actually, I wonder, given the spirit of the times, if “Bartow” won’t soon revert to “Cass” – or be named after some other person (or better, thing), given that it was named after Lewis Cass in the first place because, as Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War, he was in charge of implementing Cherokee removal. (He also turned out to be staunch a Unionist, thus the name change in 1861.)

The Mighty Etowah

Google Maps.

I did something today that I have been wanting to do for a long time: canoe the Etowah River. I was hoping to make it all the way from Cartersville to Rome, but we didn’t get started early enough and so we only made it to Neel’s Landing, where the Etowah meets 411. But it was a highly enjoyable experience, and it provides a completely different perspective on the local topography, one that would have been familiar to Native Americans (or to Reinhardt’s co-founder John Sharp, who attempted to establish a ferry service between Canton and Rome). 

This is the dam that creates Lake Allatoona in Cartersville, and which would nowadays impede a direct fluvial service from Canton to Rome. The dam was built in 1950 by the Army Corps of Engineers. I took this photo four years ago. It served as our starting point. 

These pilings carried the Western and Atlantic railway over the Etowah. A student of mine claimed that the bridge itself was destroyed seven times during the Civil War, as it changed hands. The W&A now runs slightly to the west, on the other side of GA-41 (the bridge in the background). 

This dam, designated the Thompson Weinman dam, was a surprise for us as there were no signs warning about it on the river. Fortunately we realized what the sound was in time, and found the portage. 

The Etowah Indian Mounds from the river, which is how Mississippians would have arrived at the site.

Other things to see on the Etowah include turtles (my companion counted 291 of them), blue herons, plenty of swallow mud nests underneath bridges, fish, lush vegetation, Indian fishing weirs (made of rocks, and somewhat tricky to navigate), and lots of luxurious riverfront property with signs sternly warning you against trespassing. It would be nice to develop more of it for public use. 

Producing far more power than Allatoona Dam is Plant Bowen, allegedly the second-largest coal fired electrical generating plant in the western hemisphere. The river provides an interesting view of it. 

It was nice to see a rainbow on our drive home!

This route, by the way, has been signified as the Etowah River Water Trail, and the organizers have posted helpful mile and half-mile marker signs along the way. We started at 46 and ended at 23. 

Cooper’s Furnace

A followup to a recent post. I went for a walk yesterday at the Pine Mountain Recreation Area and ended up at the Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area, which is on the Etowah River and just beneath the dam that creates Lake Allatoona. It is the former site of the town of Etowah – the main memento of which is Cooper’s Furnace. 

As I mentioned, it is the best preserved of the local iron furnaces – and also the largest. I wonder just how much restoration work was required to get it into its current shape. (I doubt that Sherman would have left it in such good condition.)

One is not supposed to, but I crossed the fence and took this photo through the iron grate closing off access to the interior of the structure. The chimney seems remarkably well preserved (and/or reconstructed: it appears that a hole has been filled in). 

Here is a sign explaining how it all works. Note the need for limestone flux to draw out impurities from the iron ore. 

And here is a Georgia Historical Commission sign in honor of the man behind it all

One cannot talk about Cooper’s Furnace without acknowledging the role it played in the Great Locomotive Chase. A spur connected it with the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and the Yonah, a train engine which worked this spur, was commandeered to chase Andrews’ Raiders, who had stolen the General

But don’t look for it now, for it is gone with the wind. Damned Yankees!