Thursday, October 20, 2011
History of Harmony Grove-Commerce, GA
The town of Harmony Grove, now the City of Commerce, is located on an elevated ridge in the eastern part of Jackson County, Georgia, about three miles from the Banks County line and the same distance from the Madison County line. The center of the town is the dividing water shed between the Oconee, Grove, and Hudson Rivers. The present area is a mile wide and about three miles long. The city is located on the Southern Railway eighteen miles north of Athens and twenty-one miles south of Lula. The general topography in the southern part is level, partly hilly, while the central and northern parts slope off on either side to springs and streams. Still farther to the northwest, the land lies gently rolling. The greatest altitude is a bit over 9oo feet in the southern section. Other parts of the town run generally about 950 to 980 feet altitude.
The city being on the dividing watershed, the soil is varied in its character, running all the way from a sandy gray loam to a very stiff red type, the former prevailing in the southern part of the town and the latter in the central and western part. All this has a firm clay foundation lying in the Piedmont Section just below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The original location of Harmony Grove was of interest because it was on the main road from the mountain counties to the markets of Athens, Washington, and Augusta. This was a camping ground for the covered wagon caravans as they drove their stock and produce to market. There were no streams to cross but springs ample for their use. The noted cold sassafras tree was known to all mountain wagoners which will be referred to in a later chapter.
This tree stood near the railroad one-half mile below the depot at the curve in the railroad track. This tree was more than two feet in diameter. The location of the town was attractive because of its fine and temperate climate with its groves and forest surroundings. The summer temperature averages three to five degrees cooler than Athens, yet it is not so rigidly cold as the mountains in the winter. These environments made it pleasant and beautiful for situation.
In this select spot in Northeast Georgia the author was born and reared and has spent the entire years of his life in what we consider the choice section of the Empire State of the South. Georgia was founded by the English under James Oglethorpe and settled largely by the English and immigrants from Virginia and the Carolinas, with some few coming from the northern states. This state was the youngest of the thirteen colonies that obtained their independence from the mother country in 1783. It has been the home of numerous statesmen of the highest quality for the past 16o years, also of leaders and pioneers in the realms of science, literature and religion. In the religious realm Baptists have had a marvelous growth, numbering, at present in Georgia, some 1,200,000 members. The first settlements of this section were along the rivers and creeks.
This was in the period immediately following the Revolutionary War, from 1784 to 1800, as evidenced by original land grants from the United States Government.
In this particular section of rolling hills, fertile valleys, flowing, winding streams, limitless forests of oak, hickory, chesnut, pine, poplar, maple, gum, elm, and every variety of verdant growth of trees and vegetation, in this, the incomparable Piedmont section of our beloved state, the village of Harmony Grove and our now bustling city of Commerce had its nativity.
The above is a picture of this portion of Georgia, with its unparalled, delightful climate, at the close of the Revolutionary War when the Cherokee Indians were receding from this section and passing into mountain countries, leaving evidence of their habitat and hunting grounds in the form of flint arrow heads and cooking utensils found in their burial mounds of stone, some of which were found in this immediate vicinity.
ORIGINAL ROADS, SPRINGS, TREES AND LANDMARKS
Commerce is interesting because of its unique location just on a ridge of a water shed that flows each way. Generally speaking, this ridge is followed by the railroad two or three miles through the town and some two miles east and west.
The original roads leading into and through the town of Harmony Grove, before it was incorporated, were: First, the Athens and Clarkesville road. This entered the southern limits by the L. G. Hardman's peach shed and followed the present paved road by way of the oil mill and cotton mill to a point in front of the First Baptist Church, then crossing the present railroad track, it led up Cherry Street by the Methodist Church, the Shankle residence and his first store, to the Carnesville Road. Then at a right angle with what is now State Street, it crossed over the railroad track in front of the Northeastern Bank, continuing up North Elm Street in front of C. W. Hood's store and residence, again crossing the track and following the railroad to the J. B. Hardman residence, and the present incorporate limit, leaving on the west side a narrow field of about eight acres known as the Hood's field.
Second, the Jefferson Road, leading from the W.C. Hood place, entered the town at the B.B. Hawks corner, which is now the present Jefferson Street. The Homer Road followed the present Homer Street, except after passing the Sander's home, it bore to the right in front of the Negro Baptist Church, on to Pittman's Mill on Pittman's Creek. This was also the outlet for the upper Carnesville Road.
Third, the Jefferson and Carnesville Road led from the Oconee River Bridge by the Mercer Jackson place, passing through the Dunson and Langston farms, crossing the Clarkesville Road at Wheeler's Gin, on by the Short and Wilbanks farms, entered the upper Carnesville Road at the John Scoggins place about two and one-half miles from town.
Fourth, the lower Carnesville Road, leading by what is now State Street, then across to Hargrove bottoms, the place where the present road now runs.
Fifth, leaving the Athens Road at Water's Store by what is now Madison Street to the southeast, another road led through Madison County. To the mountain wagon travellers, this road was known under the various names of Nowhere, Sandy Cross, Lexington, Washington and Augusta Road. This road passed by the W. B. J. Hardman home and doctor's office.
Springs were numerous in Harmony Grove. Beginning on the Madison County Road near the James E. Haggard place, now Ingram's store, was a very bold spring, being the head of Sandy Creek. On the north side of the road was a spring, the beginning of Beaver Dam Creek, which formed the branch on which is located the Hardman Jones Lake. At the head of this lake was a fine spring known as Whiteoak Spring. On the east side of Spring Street there is a spring first used by Eli Shankle, known as the Shankle and Barber Spring, which has been in use for some one hundred and forty years. This is another head of Beaver Dam Creek known as the Shankle Branch.
On a Saturday afternoon, the boys of the neighborhood, Henry, Lam, and Bob Hardman, the Haggards, the Embreys, and others started to the Richey pond for a swim. As they neared the pond, in the woods and undergrowth ahead they heard a noise and a rustling among the leaves. All were frightened as to the kind of wild animal making the noise. Lam appeared to be bolder than the others. He stepped forward and called out, "Who is that?" Another sharp noise, "chook," came from the rustling leaves and bushes. The boys took to their heels, every man for himself. Some came out near the cotton mill site, some at Haggard's shop, one or two at home. The boys reporting their experience, the older heads returned with them and discovered that the noise proceeded from a wild turkey gobbler, scratching in the leaves and hidden by the under-growth. When disturbed, he made this queer noise and ran the other way.
Along these two branches above referred to and between them, the land was covered largely by original forest woods and partly by old field growth. In this original forest were many forest pine and some large chestnut trees which had died decades before, now naked and without bark. Along the branches poplars, oaks, and hickory abounded. This was a suitable place for wild game, such as foxes, coons, opossums, squirrels and rabbits, also quite a few wild turkeys. In these woods were some birds now extinct, or nearly so, in this section. The wood hen, now extinct, was a large black bird about the size of a crow, but of the shape of a woods' bird of the Sapsucker family. It had a white head with a red crest. Other birds, as the yellow hammer, red-headed pecker wood, sap suckers and blue birds are now rarely seen. Along in the '1860's and '1870's, migratory wild pigeons roosted by the thousands in the forest. At night, the breaking of the limbs from the weight of these birds and the flapping of their wings could be heard all over the woods.
On the west side of the railroad and west of the Harmony Grove cotton mill is a spring long used by the operators. There is also a good one in the L.C. Hardman pasture used by the tenants. Up nearer in town on the west side of the railroad was a small spring in the rear of the Cooper lot where once was a gin and a sawmill, operated by Rush Cromer. On the same little branch was the school house spring, which was later enclosed in the L. C. Hardman pecan orchard. This spring for some ten years was the water supply for the school, which was located on the present site of the grammar school building. Up near Central Avenue was another spring, near which was once one of the early school cabins, near the site of the Commerce Brick and Lumber Company, now the Frozen Food Locker Plant. Very early in the pioneer days, the real head of this small stream, on which the above was located, was a spring where is now located the City Hall. The other prong, or head, known as Hood's Branch, had its source west of C. W. Hood's residence, in what is generally known as Hood's calf pasture. There was, also, a bold spring in Willoughby Park on this side of this small stream.
On the east side of the railroad, between the Dale and Quillian homes, was a spring near which Dicky Minish, one of the pioneer settlers, lived. This was the head of what was later known as the Tanyard Branch on which was located a tannery. On the Carnesville Road, north side, was a spring between the Jesse Wood and Bowden properties which led by the K. N. Sharp swimming pool.
Another spring and branch is located in the northern part of the town. The spring heads near Park Street and runs through the J.B. Hardman's dairy pasture on through the Hood-Quillian Park in which are several springs that make a good size branch in a few hundred yards. This property along the head of this branch was owned by W.J. Goss and in the pasture referred to, Mr. Goss had a well stocked fish pond. In this pond, the writer, together with A.B. Deadwyler and Oscar Harrison and perhaps others, were baptized by Rev. W.B.J. Hardman in August, 1885. Mr. Goss then lived on Homer Street in a house now owned by Mrs. P.C. Strickland. A pathway led from the house to the pond.
There were many noted trees in Harmony Grove. In front of the Harmony Grove Cotton Mill office stood a large spreading post oak under whose shading branches was located a well used by the public and where many weary travellers quenched their thirst. In front of the Y.J. Johnson home on South Elm between the street and the railroad stood a very large sassafras tree known to all the mountain wagoners as the "Cold Sassafras." They spoke of it as the coldest spot between the mountains and Augusta. This tree was more than two feet in diameter with a knot hole some ten feet from the ground, from which the school boys robbed the blue birds' nests. When this tree was taken down, T.C.Hardman for several
months,used some of its roots to make sassafras tea.
Another noted tree was the large hickory in front of C.W. Hood's store, near which was a public well. Another, a large spreading water oak, grew in front of the Hardman Hardware store. This tree attained about thirty-six inches in diameter in about forty-five years. It was planted in 1882. Under its spreading branches and shade in summer boys played marbles and passersby stopped to enjoy the coolness. On one occasion, W.T. Harber, stopping to enjoy the shade, said to the boys, "If that tree was in my yard, I wouldn't begrudge five dollars." Tom Stapler remarked, "As poor as I am, if I had it in my yard, I wouldn't have it cut down for fifty dollars." Harber retorted, "That shows how you appreciate shade and I appreciate money.”
In front of the Dr. W.B.J. Hardman’s office on Madison Street, stands an old knarled oak. This tree served his patients as a hitching place. This, with the doctor’s small office, is one of the land marks of old Harmony Grove. The office stood on the same spot as originally built for ninety-one years. The tree is still standing. On the same road just at the incorporate limits, there were two large sycamore trees in front of a two-storied wagon and blacksmith shop, operated by James E. Haggard and later by his son, J.B. Haggard, just where the home of Miss Rosa Haggard, daughter of J.B. Haggard, now stands.
At the old home place of Eli Shankle, later known as the Virginia Baugh place, and still later as the Mrs. Mary M. Barber place, were four large sycamore trees, two on either side of the house, and one large cedar tree which gave to the place for a time, the name of "Sycamore Dell."
Referring to public wells, there was one located at the corner of North Broad and State Streets at the corner of the Jesse P. Wood building, now occupied by E.B. Crow. This well was a public watering place and most of the merchants in that locality came each morning with their buckets for their drinking water. Some years later after the water system was installed there were some three or more cast iron drinking troughs provided in different parts of town for waterin stock of farmers and others.
A NORTHEAST STORM
A noted occurrence in the northeast section of Georgia was a severe equinoctial gale on the second Sunday in September, 1882. This storm with heavy rains, began early Saturday night and continued through Sunday, reaching its height by noon. The downpour of rain saturated the ground and caused the trees, especially the forest pines, to fall in great numbers. In fact, millions of trees were blown up by the roots in this section. In the woods above referred to, some 200 forest pines were blown down. Peeler and Lovin put a saw mill at the Roller Mill site and sawed this timber into lumber. For some 25 years or more, people hunting in the woods at night could locate the points of the compass by clay roots which pointed from northeast to southwest.
Long remembered was the Nash Cyclone which occurred in the afternoon of February 19, 1884. This cyclone completely demolished and blew away the home of C.T. Nash, killing Miss Mary Nash, his aunt, and injuring several others of the family. Mr. Nash, being some distance away, was not in the path of the cyclone, which was about 300 feet wide. The storm seemed to have originated some few miles south of Jefferson, passing over the Oconee River at the Gathright place, by the Benton farm, then passing near the Z. W.. Hood home it exactly centered the C.T. Nash dwelling on the Athens road, on the rise midway between the homes of Dick Standridge and Ed Holland. It passed over into Madison County and was dissipated near the Harrison Hix farm.
This cyclone was seen by the people of Harmony Grove as it progressed in its path. It appeared as a funnel-shaped cloud and smoke, with the small end toward the earth. It was preceded by heavy hail precipitation which fell also in the town of Harmony Grove. Some of the hail stones, as large as cups and saucers, were picked up and weighed in Dr. L.G. Hardman's drug store. They weighed from fourteen to sixteen ounces each. This probably was the largest hail stone on record in this part of the state.
Dr. Hardman, Commerce native, was a prominent physician and businessman. Lamartine was the son of Dr. W.B.J. Hardman, the first physician in Harmony Grove who began practicing in 1848.? In 1899 Dr. L.G. Hardman built and subsequently operated the Hardman Sanatorium.? The Sanatorium was one of the first small town hospitals
built in Georgia.
In 1892, The Northeastern Banking Company was organized as Harmony Grove's first locally owned bank.? C.J. Hood was the cashier and L.G. Hardman was president.? In 1902, the First National Bank was organized.? Dr. W.B. Hardman served as president and W.L. Williamson was cashier.
THE HARDMAN SANATORIUM
For some years in the 1890'S the question of hospitals in smaller towns was
discussed and considered. Dr. L. G. Hardman was a pioneer in this type of
The Hardman Sanatorium was erected in Harmony Grove in 1899, being among the first in the state in towns of similar size. From the first the Sanatorium has been successfully operated. With its thirty-room capacity it has furnished sufficient facilities for those who came from many localities for treatment of various maladies.
This Sanatorium was first operated under the direction and management of Drs.L.G. Hardman and Nelms, later by Hardman Brothers and Nelms, followed by W. B. Hardman, Nelms and Shankle and later Nelms and Rogers. In 1932 Dr. G. O. Castellaw leased the building and in 1946 purchased and remodeled the structure, adding new equipment and changing the name to the Commerce Hospital.
This institution for the sick and afflicted, the poor and the suffering, has served this generation well and has had a wide reputation for its efficiency and the relief of human suffering. Verily the Sanatorium has been, and is, a worthy asset in the growth and progress of Commerce.
PHYSICIANS OF HARMONY GROVE AND COMMERCE
We have no data of early doctors in the village of Harmony Grove prior to 1848. It is known, however, some practiced with home remedies and gave prescriptions without a medical diploma. At that time the regular doctors usually located at the county sites.
Dr. W.B.J. Hardman was the first regular equipped physician with diplomas from Georgia Medical College, Augusta, and Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, to make this his home. He first came to Harmony Grove in 1848 or 1849, and practiced all over this territory before, during and after the Civil War for a period of about twenty-eight or thirty years.
In 1874, his son, L.G. Hardman, began the study of medicine and received his diploma from the Georgia Medical College the following year. After practicing a year with his father, he took a course at Bellevue, New York, receiving his diploma in April, 1877, some ten days before he was twenty-one years old.
It was customary in those days for a young man who wanted to make a doctor to read medicine under a practicing physician for four to six months, then attend a medical college, taking two years for graduation. Dr. W. B.J. Hardman read medicine under Dr. Ben Willingham who lived near Sandy Cross in Oglethorpe County. Two young men, Rube Nunn and Red Rube Nash, read medicine under Dr. W.B.J. Hardman of Harmony Grove, but did not complete their medical course. His son, L.G. Hardman, began the study of medicine under his father's tutelage at about seventeen years of age and after his graduation in New York succeeded to his father's practice.
Early in Dr. L.G. Hardman's practice a large number of young men read medicine under his direction in preparation for their career. The following are the names of those who studied under him and their future places of practice:
Wm. M. Shankle, Texas; R.L. Harris, Florida; W.A. Neal, Alabama; L.J. Sharp, Commerce; Callie Stevens, Danielsville; P.Y. Duckett, Cornelia; Dock Moss, Banks County; F.M. Hubbard, Commerce; and W.B. Hardman, Commerce.
The following are the names of those who read medicine under Dr. L.G. Hardman and Dr. W.B. Hardman and their future places of practice:
W.E. Wood, Dalton; J.A. Bryan, Gillesville; M.F. Car-son, Griffin; W.D. Sheppard who located at Spokane, Wash., for a very short while, then returned to Harmony Grove and gave up the practice of medicine and entered other lines of business; Robert Neal, Buford; M.F. Nelms, Commerce; George Bush, Bold Springs; George C. Daniel, Danielsville; T. Albert Neal, Florida; and O. E. Shankle, Commerce.
Other physicians who came from other places to Harmony Grove:
Dr. Charles J. Harden, 1879, died 1883; Dr. R.R. Harden from Smyrna, and a cousin of C.J. Harden, 1882, died 1888; Dr. W.P. Harden, brother of R.R. Harden, 1887, died 1918; and Dr.L. Sanders from Penfield, 1900, died 1946.
Physicians who came after the name was changed to Commerce:
Dr. J. C. Verner from Martin, 1907; Dr. D. M. Carter, 1916; Dr. Mark Pentecost from Winder, 1918; Dr. A. A. Rogers from Madison County, 1920; Dr. Andrew Quillian from Atlanta, 1920; Dr. G. O. Castellaw, reared in Locust Grove, came to Maysville as a physician in 1913 and moved his practice to Commerce, 1932; Dr. P. T. Scoggins from Athens, 1929; Dr. O. C. Pittman, born and reared in Commerce, began practice here in 1936; Dr. A. A. Rogers, Jr., was born and reared in Commerce and began practice here in 1948. This makes a total of thirty-four physicians who have either read or practiced medicine in Harmony Grove and Commerce in the last century.
These thirty-four physicians, twenty-four of whom read medicine and most of whom practiced here for a short or longer period, and the ten who have come to Commerce from other places have ministered to the needs of the town and surrounding country in a competent way through the last hundred years. They have combatted the many epidemics of measles, smallpox, typhoid fever, malaria, influenza, diptheria and other ills and have seen many of these diseases remedied and eliminated. Two malignant foes, or enemies, of mankind seem however to have baffled the skill of doctors and scientists to successfully combat, viz: tuberculosis and cancer.
Re-search is continually being made and probably some time in the near future the remedy or means of prevention will be discovered.
Harmony Grove-Commerce has had all the while a splendid group of doctors, well equipped and who have made an en-viable reputation for themselves and the city. Among these it is worthy of note there have been three Hardmans, three Hardens, two Shankles, three Neals, and two Rogers, and two of these have had more than state-wide reputation. We would challenge any other place to show a better equipped and better qualified array of doctors than Commerce either in the past or present.
It should be mentioned that Dr. George Eberhart located here and practiced a short time about 1885.
Dr. Eberhart came to Harmony Grove from Hartwell and returned after a year or two's stay at Harmony Grove. His son, Walter, was also a physician at Hartwell. Dr. Eberhart is the grandfather of Lint Eberhart of Maysville.
THE DENTISTS OF HARMONY GROVE AND COMMERCE
In the early days it was customary for dentists to travel from place to place making stated calls in the homes of the people to do their dental work, filling teeth, but chiefly making plates. Dr. C.R. Gibbs was a good dentist who traveled through this section during the dos. Some twenty years later, Dr. Letson from Suwannee made his headquarters at the Jenny Butler Boarding House. He made plates for quite a large number in the country. Dr. Gibbs was from Social Circle, later located near Cornelia.
About the first regular dentist that located in Harmony Grove was Dr. W.A. Alexander who came around about 1875, or earlier. His home and office was on Homer Street just in front of Mack Wood's residence. Dr. S. B. Adair located here for a short while about 1882, practicing only at intervals and setting up his office at the hotel. Dr. E.F. Adair established himself here in about 1886. For. sometime he was the only dentist in Harmony Grove. He practiced here some twenty years then moved to Gainesville. Later he returned to Commerce for a short period. Dr. W.B. Jackson came to Harmony Grove in the early 1890'S and remained until his death. Dr. C.E. Pittman, who was reared in or near Harmony Grove, opened his dental office here in 1898 and has practiced his profession successfully for the last fifty years. Dr. H.J. Reeves came to Commerce in 1915 and practiced for some six years, then moved to Atlanta where he has continued his profession. Dr. Tom McDonald practiced here for a short while in the early days of Commerce. Dr. G. H. Dunlap was a successful dentist here for several years and moved to Madison, Ga. Dr. S.V. Hunter established a practice at Commerce in 1919 and remained 25 years and retired from the profession. Dr. W.H. Cunningham came here 17 years ago, and has practiced here continuously since.Dr. J.A. Minish, our youngest dentist in Commerce, opened his office as the successor of Dr. S.V. Hunter.
Our dentists have always kept pace with progress and abreast of the advancement of their profession and served well the people of the community.
LAWYERS OF THE HARMONY GROVE PERIOD
The lawyers of the Harmony Grove period are worthy of note for they included a number of prominent citizens of that early day. In order they were as follows: W.H. Simpkins, Joe W. Hill, R.L.J. Smith, Joe U. Merritt and Judge W. W. Stark. Most of these came from other localities and practiced law here for sometime.
R.L.J. Smith was the first of the local men to take up the profession in 1885. Col. Smith had a wide clientele. He carried on an extensive business in collecting agencies as well as the practice of his legal profession.
Judge W.W. Stark was reared in a few miles of Harmony Grove and established his law practice here in 1887. He has served as a member of the House of Representatives and several times as a member of the Georgia Senate. Judge Stark is chiefly known for his record on the bench. He served several terms as Judge of the City Court of Jackson County and later was elected to the Judgeship of the Western Circuit, which he held through an extended period. He retired a few years ago.
LAWYERS OF THE COMMERCE PERIOD
G.P. Martin was born in Banks County January 17, 1874. He attended the schools of Banks County and graduated from Martin Institute, Jefferson, Ga., in 1892. He studied law at the University of Georgia, receiving his diploma in 1894. He was Representative from Banks County in the Georgia Legislature in 1899, and was elected Judge of the City Court of Jackson County Georgia in 1941. He has been elected twice to succeed himself and has just entered upon his third term.
W.D. Martin was born in August, 1888. He received his common school education in the schools of Banks County. He graduated from the Commerce High School in 1909 and attended the Law School at the University of Georgia, graduating in 1912. He represented Jackson County in the Georgia Legislature and also served as Solicitor of Circuit Court for four years. He was in the Armed Service from 1916 to 1918, and later entered service for the United States Government in Macon in 1943, where he served until his death in 1946.
E.C. Stark was born in Harmony Grove, November 10, 1886. He attended the schools of Commerce, graduating from the Commerce High School in 1902. He was in the mercantile business in Commerce for a short time after which he traveled for a Hardware Company of Louisville, Ky., for a few years. In 1911, he took a correspondent course in law from the University of Michigan. He took the State Bar examination under Charles H. Brand in 1912 and began the regular practice of law at Commerce, continuing regularly in practice here since that time.
Thomas J. Syfan was born in Hall County, Ga. He came to Commerce as telegraph
operator under M.P. Elliott in 1910. He was later appointed Depot Agent for the
Southern Railway and served a number of years. He was appointed as Superior Court Reporter under Judge W.W. Stark and still serves in this capacity. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar under Mr. Joe Quillian some years ago and has a good practice in Commerce in connection with his Court reporting work.
S.J. Smith, Jr., was born in Harmony Grove, October 25, 1888. He received his education in the Commerce Grammar and High School and graduated from Martin Institute in 1904. He attended the Law Department of the University of Georgia and studied law at Mercer University. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1911 and has practiced in Commerce from that date. He served as Assistant Attorney-General of Georgia and Director of Fuel Enforcement under Federal Authorities during the administration of Dr. L.G. Hardman, Governor of Georgia.
W. A. Stevenson was born in Franklin County, Ga., October 27, 1876. He received his common school education in the public schools of Banks County, Ga. He attended Commerce High School. He graduated from Young Harris College in 1898. After teaching for several years, he was admitted to the Bar under Judge Richard B. Russell. He practiced law for a number of years then entered the Presbyterian ministry serving in this capacity in Kentucky for ten years. Then he practiced his legal profession for six years after which he re-turned to Commerce in 1939 and served as supply minister and continued his law practice. He served as City Attorney of Commerce from 1910 to 1916.
BANKS OF HARMONY GROVE
In the early history of Harmony Grove the merchants and men of means kept their money and valuables in chests, lock-boxes and iron safes until the progress of business required bank deposits. Banking was first done with the National Bank of Athens operated by James White. Usually business firms sent money for deposit two or three times a week by trusted men going to Athens on the train.
The need for a local bank was first conceived by C.J. Hood who was then in the mercantile business with his father. This resulted in the organization of the Northeastern Banking Company in 1892 with C.J. Hood as Cashier and L.G. Hardman, President. This institution has been in operation through 56 years and has been and still is a great asset to the city and community with its cordial service to patrons and depositors. Samuel Hood, son of C.J. Hood is the President, and R.M. Davison, Cashier.
The First National Bank was organized in 1904 with Dr. W.B. Hardman as President and W.L. Williamson as Cashier. This institution came into existence at the beginning of the enlargement and expansion of the city and has served a worthy need in the business expansion. This bank has always been reliable, conservative and safe in its policy. They have served customers with equal courtesy and business integrity through the years of depression as well as prosperous times. W.W. Stark is the present President and G.L. Hubbard, the present Cashier, having held this position since 1905.
The Commerce Bank and Trust Company was organized by a group of business men who believed the city, during the inflated period, needed additional banking facilities. After a few years of operation the tide of deflation forced their liquidation.
E.B. Anderson, for a long period a business man and cotton factor, opened a private bank and operated it for the accommodation of his customers, for a number of years until his death.
THE HARMONY GROVE TELEPHONE COMPANY
The Harmony Grove Telephone Company was organized in October, 1895, with W.B. Hardman, L.G. Hardman, T.C. Hardman and W.T. Thurmond as stockholders. The first line was built from Harmony Grove to Jefferson. The next line was constructed to Homer for the benefit of customers in Banks County. Some years later the pole line was built from Jefferson to Pendergrass, to Hoschton and from there to Winder; also a line from Commerce to Maysville and Gillesville. Toll prices were set up at each of these places. Still later the line was extended from Pendergrass to Gainesville. The Jefferson Telephone Company was organized in 1895, the same year as the Harmony Grove Company, and built a line from Jefferson to Athens. In about 1902, this company sold to the Harmony Grove Company, taking stock in the same for their line.
This company was owned by H.W. Bell and John C. Turner and others. After the expiration of the charter of the Harmony Grove Telephone Company a new charter was obtained by the Commerce Telephone Company in April, 1917, in order to correspond with the name of the town. The original Central Office was in the rear of the W.B. Hardman Drug Company where is now Dr. J.C. Verner's office. It was later moved upstairs for a short time and then to its present location.
The first operator was W.M. Gober who later moved to Florida and became Judge of the Federal Court. W.B. Hard-man was President from the beginning till his death in 1918; then L.G. Hardman till his death in 1937. L.G. Hardman, Jr., is the present Secretary-Treasurer and L. L. Davis, President. W.A. Echols has been the manager since 1906. M.R. Barron has been assistant manager for the last few years. Mrs. Nettie Benton Pinson has been operator and bookkeeper for equal length of time as the manager.
This company has served the community and Jackson County for more than fifty years and has in operation a large ex-change in Commerce and in Jefferson which are constantly being enlarged. This public utility is essential and indispensable to the welfare of our growing city. The company has about 1,100 subscribers on the Commerce Exchange and some 500 on the Jefferson Exchange. Total 1,600.
The stockholders of the Commerce Telephone Company sold their entire stock to W.L. New of Thomaston, Ga., as of February 1, 1949 and he becomes sole owner of the entire stock. Mr. New will make his home in Commerce.
HOTELS OF HARMONY GROVE-COMMERCE
The Northeastern Hotel, operated by Solomon Seegar and his wife, Aunt Calline, was the first in Harmony Grove. This building, now known as the T.F. Quillian home, is still standing. This old friendly couple took great interest in caring for the transients who came to Harmony Grove either by train or private conveyance. They opened the hotel about 1870 and continued twelve or fifteen years.
The next hotel was erected about 1880 by L.G. Hardman on his home lot. For a period of several years it was under the management of the following in their order:-Mrs. T.E. Key, Mrs. A.E. Bohannon, Mrs. R.F. Matthews and Mrs. W.W. Montgomery.
About 1886 the Central Hotel was built by R.A. Eckles and operated by Mrs. Eckles, later by Mrs. M.M. Barber, then sold to W.Y. Holdbrook who ran it for a few years and sold to L.G. Hardman and D. U. Carson. L.G. Hardman some years later became sole owner and remodeled the hotel. It became the main hostelry for some thirty years, operated most of the time by Mrs. E.A. Bohannon and Miss Ida Bohannon. The building was destroyed by fire in 1942.
In 1891 H.O. Williford erected the Alhambra Hotel on the site of the Texaco Filling Station just opposite the depot. This hotel was operated at different times by Mrs. W.J. Goss, Mrs. E.A. Bohannon, Mrs. Jones Meadows, Mrs. Roberts, Claud Benton, Mrs. McGowan and Mrs. Miller. This building burned in November, 1914.
After the loss by fire of the Central Hotel, Commerce was without hotel accommodations until the erection of the modern Hotel Andrew Jackson which was begun in the summer of 1947 and opened in May 1948. This structure has forty rooms, each with private bath, a coffee room, kitchen, banquet hall, a spacious lobby and offices, all parts being equipped with modem furnishings, also fire escapes. The total cost was about $250,000.00.
During the Harmony Grove period, there were several boarding houses in town. Among these was the Jennie Butler House located on the corner of Central Avenue and Little Street. Another was the Mrs. W.A. Dale boarding house on Broad Street and Mrs. Jesse Smith's on Central Avenue. Later Mrs. E.S. Wood served meals to large numbers. Others at different times have served the boarding customers of the town.
From 1891, for quite a period, Harmony Grove had three fully equipped hotels. Competition was sharp when the porters met the trains to solicit patronage. These were the days of the Knights of the Grip, traveling salesmen, or drummers, as they were variously called. Nearly every train brought from four to eight drummers. The porters vied with each other in calling attention to the advantages of his hotel, describing the splendid meals, comfortable beds and other conveniences. Many of the salesmen brought large trunks of samples and remained two or three days displaying their goods. This required large commodious sample-rooms which were provided by the hotels.
These were the years of the milliners who were employed by the merchants to make and trim hats for the ladies of the town and country. All the dry goods merchants had regularly one to two milliners who were usually from the Baltimore headquarters of the firm of Armstrong & Cator Company, leaders in the latest styles of hats and dresses. There was some rivalry among the heads of the Harmony Grove firms, when they went to market, as to who could select the most attractive lady for their millinery department. It is to their credit that these ladies were good looking and attractive and very few returned to their former homes but remained as the life partners of the Harmony Grove young men. Usually in the fall and spring seasons some four or five cotton buyers were located in the hotels to represent their firms in the cotton market.
These usually made a jolly bunch at the hotels in the evenings with music and games in the parlors and with Bob Eckles in the office playing on his fiddle, "Listen To The Mocking Bird" and "Leather Britches."
Regular board in these hotels ranged from $16.00 to $20.00 per month for room and three meals according to the favorable location of the room. The traveling men paid $2.00 per day which was $0.50 for each meal and $0.50 for room and bed. This meal was equal to any served at the Andrew Jackson or any other present day hotel for $1.50. The cost of fryers then was 10c to 12c apiece and eggs from 8c to 10c a dozen, meal 50c a bushel, flour 75C for fifty pounds, pork and beef 6c to 15c per pound. These times were the peak of the hotel business in Harmony Grove and Commerce.
Referring to the Northeastern Hotel run by the Seegars, this was a very interesting establishment, coming in as it did about the same time as the first newspaper, The Northeast Georgia Progress, and the building of the Northeastern Railroad. There were, doubtless, other lodging, boarding and eating places prior to this time but no record is found of their existence as Harmony Grove was a mere village before the Civil War. With the coming of the railroad and the opening of a few additional business houses from 1874 to 1877, together with the establishing of the Baptist and Methodist churches, the village took on a more town-like appearance as did the North-eastern the appearance of a real hotel. Uncle Solomon would meet all the trains. With his dimmed-with-smoke-soot lantern he would meet all the night trains and guide the weary traveler to his resting place. Here the guest enjoyed good home-cooking, feather beds and cheerful wood fires. This hotel served the public in an acceptable way until the incorporation of the town of Harmony Grove after which the Central Hotel was built by R.A. Eckles.
The Alhambra Hotel, a popular and convenient place for the traveling public, served in this capacity for a period of some twenty-three years. It was destroyed by fire in 1914 or 1915. Some years after its erection the name was changed to The Commerce Hotel to correspond with the new name of the town.
The Central Hotel, after it was acquired by L.G. Hardman, was remodeled and the capacity doubled. In due time steam heat was installed and it served the public through the management of Mrs. E.A. and Miss Ida Bohannon until 1932. It was then taken over by different parties. Mr. Griffeth, the last, was operating under a five year lease when the building was burned in January 1942. Commerce was then without a hotel for six years, which was a great handicap to the town. However, with the opening of the Hotel Andrew Jackson the prospect for the future hotel business is very bright.
Hotel Andrew Jackson
This modern hostelry will have the patronage and support of the people of our city. With its efficient service and well appointed accommodations and cordial reception of guests the hotel is well equipped to draw the most exacting patron-age of the traveling public.
When this hotel institution is fully advertised, it will meet the strongest
competition and will outclass many other hotels in cities of equal or larger size. It has already received the highest acclaim by those who have enjoyed its hospitality. We point with pride to this newest asset of the city's civic achievement, which will meet the needs of our public for several decades.
A further detailed description of this hotel in all its appointments will be of interest.
The building is 60 feet wide and 100 feet long, of fire proof construction, reinforced concrete and steel, contains forty rooms, each with private bath with
tub and shower combination. The hotel is completely steam heated and has outside
fire escapes located at the rear of the building.
Entrance is in the center of the building and the lobby is located on the left, being approximately thirty feet square. The manager's office and registration desk are conveniently located. The banquet room is at the rear of the building. The furniture is of modern design and the draperies of attractive pattern.
The Coffee Shop is to the right of the entrance with a capacity of seventy-five and beautifully equipped in every particular. The kitchen is spacious and is equipped with the most modern equipment made of stainless steel. The banquet room has a seating capacity of 200. Large exhaust fans are located in the halls on the second and third floors.
There is space in the basement to accommodate an ideal beauty shop and barber shop. Fluorescent lighting is used in the Coffee Shop, Lobby and Banquet Room and the latest electrical fixtures are used throughout the building.
Rooms are large and equipped with Simmons All-Metal furniture including double and twin beds with box springs and beauty rest mattresses with all other furnishings to match.
The Andrew Jackson Hotel is ably and efficiently operated by Mr. and Mrs. A. B. McCall under a lease mutually satisfactory to both lessee and lessor.
We are happy to refer to the Hotel Andrew Jackson as "One of the Finer Small Hotels."
THE BARBER BOYS BRASS BAND
One of the prodigies of Harmony Grove in the last decade of the century was the C.T. Barber Brass Band composed of the father, nine boys and three girls. Each one played a part with different instruments. The members of the family were as follows:
Boys: Clint, Fred, Theo, Wiley, Rob, Dave, Calvin, Howard, and Talmadge; Girls: Marian, Estelle, and Belle.
Clint and Wiley performed on the comets; Fred the trombone; Theo and Dave, the tenor horns; Rob, the bass drum; Calvin, Howard, and Talmadge, the alto horns; the father, the bass horn, and the girls beat the snare-drum, cymbal and triangle.
Mr. Barber began his band when some five or six of his boys were old enough to play an instrument and gradually increased it as his family grew until the whole family was included. The band reached its peak beginning - in the early nineties and continuing for a period of ten or twelve years.
They were in great demand at celebrations, tournaments, commencements and political gatherings throughout the northern part of the state and even in other states. Several of the boys followed the musical profession in after life. Mr. Clinton Barber had a wide reputation as a cornetist. He taught and was the leader of a large concert band in Atlanta for several years during the concert seasons. His fame extended beyond the confines of the state. He had a national reputation as a cornetist.
Many of the older citizens of the city recall the performance of this Barber Boys Band which enhanced the reputation of Harmony Grove with its free concerts and street parades in the gay period of the nineties.
CULTURAL AND LITERARY INTEREST
Harmony Grove became interested in cultural and literary progress following the war in the seventies when the schools began to grow and the newspapers to flourish. Of course, the first indication was in the school's development and the interest in debates.
The McGuffey's Readers from one to six made a lasting impression on pupils, especially the Sixth Reader, which was a selection of classic literature from noted authors, both in prose and poetry. As the town grew, there were Friday afternoon speakings in the school, debating societies of various kinds, both white and colored, which gradually grew into literary societies (now called the Book Club).
One of the early literary adventures was called "The Mozart-Bryant Circle." These fostered light operas, plays of different types and discussed different authors with criticism and re-views. This held sway from 1883 to the early '1890's.
In the decade following there were fostered various courses of Lyceum Lectures. The best speakers of the country were secured. Among them were Bob and Alf Taylor of Tennessee, Ralph Bingham of Virginia and several from Texas. This period was followed by the Chatauqua era in which a full week of entertainment was had, sometimes held in the school building, more often in tents. The programs presented musical concerts, lectures on the various phases of art, literature, science, education, politics, religious ethics and other issues of the day.
EARLY HISTORY AND PIONEER SETTLERS
(Some one has said that history is the true record of things in general and inaccurate in some particulars. We accept this definition in recording this
The name, Harmony Grove, was first given to a community near Pittman's Bridge on the east side of the Oconee River and on the John B. Jackson place, where there was a school for girls. According to the record of the Post Office Department in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., the post office of Harmony Grove was established here October 24, 1825. Russell Jones was the first post master. The charter for the Harmony Grove Female Academy was granted by the State Legislature December 20, 1824 (see chapter on schools) which was ten months earlier than the establishment of the post office. It is evident that securing the charter for the school had some bearing on the establishment of this post office, which was in the vicinity of the W. M. Potts place, earlier known as the John B. Jackson place. It is well established that the community, or settlement, that was known as the town of Harmony Grove, now Commerce, was settled about the year 181o, or possibly a few years earlier.
Among the first settlers was Hardy Minish, who lived on the small branch between the present Frozen Food Locker Plant and Willoughby Park. Minish Militia District was named for him. He was the father of Pierce Minish from whom C. W. Hood, Sr., bought a large area of land on the west side of Commerce. The younger brother of Hardy Minish, Uncle Dicky, lived at the head of the branch between J.T. Quillian's and W. A. Dale's residences. About 1878, W. B. Power and J. M. Chandler built a tanyard on this branch just below the old Gibb's foundry and it became known as the tanyard branch. In 1882, W.B. Power and W.T. Thurmond had a public gin just where the Dale house stands.
West of the Minish tract was the Bennett place where Tapley Bennett lived. He was the father of Captain A.T. Bennett and Hosea Bennett. This tract was later the W. C. Hood land. The old home, or house, stood near T. J. Syfan's residence where the old chimney of the original house stood for decades. These boys went to California in the Gold Rush of 1849. Captain A. T. Bennett soon returned and settled near Apple Valley where he reared a large family. Hosea remained in Arkansas. The land of Tapley Bennett joined the land of Hardy Minish and Caleb Wood on the north and Isaiah Borders on the west. The Hardy Minish tract probably ran along about the Blue Bell Overall Plant in line with the depot near the present grammar school ground, lying west of this line and joining the Bennett and Borders line.
The Isaiah Borders tract probably extended to the Oconee River. The old house on the hill left of the Jefferson Road is where Isaiah Borders lived and died and where W.L. Williamson was born. Enoch Borders lived on top of the hill beyond Borders Creek. He was the father of Mrs. C.T. Nash, Mrs. P.G. Thompson and Eugene Borders. The father, Isaiah Borders, lived and died in the old dwelling now standing on the south side of the Commerce-Jefferson highway. He died about 1852 and was buried in the family graveyard as was, also, his son, Enoch, just across the road in front of the late W.L. Williamson's home. Among the children of Isaiah Borders was Mrs. Bowden, who lived in Harmony Grove to a ripe old age. She first married James W. Shankle, son of Eli Shankle, one of the pioneer settlers of Harmony Grove. After his death she married James Bowden. She inherited all the land on the east side known as the Bowden land from James W. Shankle, her first husband. James Bowden's daughter married a Pomeroy. His son was Bill Bowden.
The Bowles place adjoined the Borders tract on the south where H.E. Hardman lived and where the water works' plant is located. The elder Jesse Bowles had a mill on the creek at the shoals. The old family is buried on the premises with a rock inclosure. It is reported that several hundred dollars in silver and gold were secretly buried on the place.
South of the Bowles place lies the Hardy place up the branch, later known as the Virginia Barnett place and later occupied by Henry Shore who married Tempy Barnett. Amelia Hardy married Jackson Dunson, brother of Linton C. Dunson, who left the country in the sixties and has not since been heard from. He left one son, George Dunson. Virginia Barnett was the daughter of Uncle Johnnie Glenn. Her mother was a Hardy, and her Aunt Temperance Hardy lived with her. Virginia married Joe Barnett, who died in the War of the Sixties, leaving her with two children, Johnnie and Tempy. Tempy married Henry Shore.
G.J.N. Wilson for a number of years was County School Commissioner and author of Jackson County History. He was born and lived on a part of the Bowles or Nash place known as the Wilson place and later the George Martin place near the White Hill School house. During the Civil War, Wilson ran a woodwork shophere, repairing vehicles and blacksmithing.
On the east side of the town was the extensive Shankle land and property, owned by Eli Shankle. This land covered largely the eastern part of the town--a line from the front of the Blue Bell Overall Plant by the depot, school house, now grammar school, to the Harmony Grove Cotton Mill, thence running northeast to the branch adjoining the land of Dr. W. B. J. Hardman, thence north down branch to the Hargrove land, thence west including lands owned by Dave King, Levi Matthews, Dilmas Baugh and the Bowden land. Mrs. Bowden's first husband was James W. Shankle, eldest son of Eli Shankle. Dave King, Levi Matthews, and Dilmas Baugh married daughters of Levi Shankle, the second son of Eli Shankle. Eli Shankle, born in 17849 married Rebecca Hargroves who was born in 1786 and whose father lived near the Hargrove Creek on the Carnesville road. Eli married about 1808 or 1809. He settled near a spring at the head of Shankle Branch, known as the Shankle, or Baugh, Spring. He lived here some months under a brush arbor until his house, hewn out of pine logs, was built. This house was among the first, if not the first building in town, and was his residence where all his children were reared. This house became the home of Levi Shankle, Eli's
second son. Levi moved later to the home later known as the Dave King place. The old home passed into the hands of Virginia Baugh who in 1883 sold it to Mrs. M.M. Barber of Washington, Georgia. Mrs. Barber moved there the same year and resided there until her death in 1906.
Eli Shankle was the father of the following sons and daughters: Levi, the second son, who inherited the home place; one daughter, who married Linton Dunson and another, who married Linsey Dunson; Ophelia, who married C. W. Hood, and died in 1857; James W., the oldest son, who married the daughter of Isaiah Borders. After James' death his widow married James Bowden who had two children, one boy, Bill, and one girl, Mrs. Pomeroy. The youngest son was S. M., known as Seaborn, who built the Shankle home near the present post office and was for years in the mercantile business.
Levi Shankle, the second eldest son of Eli, inherited from his father the home place. Levi's sons were Ras, Sam, and William (Dr. W.M. Shankle) who went to Texas. Levi's daughters were Virginia, who married William Baugh; another daughter who married Levi Matthews; another who married Dilmas D. Baugh; and Sarah, the youngest, married Dave King.
The W.C. Farrabee land was just south of Harmony Grove and adjoined the Haggard land on the west and the Butler and Hudson land on the north. His father was old Dr. Jesse B. Farrabee who came from Newton County, Ga., in the year 1835.
Just south of the Farrabee land were the places of Major J. P. Hudson and Pink Butler. Major Hudson was the father of Tom, Andy, and Jule Hudson. His daughters were Mrs. Tom Gober and Mrs. L.J. Dunson. The Pink Butler place lay side of Major Hudson on the east. This place was located at the Butlers Railroad Crossing and along side of Butlers Cut in the railroad. Just south of this place was the Henry B. Gober, father of Asbury and Jay Gober, place. North of the Butler place was the R.K. Minish place, afterwards Elijah Whitehead's and W.C. Glenn's place. John Minish was the father of R.K. and John W. Minish.
Originally southeast of Harmony Grove, bordering the Shankle land, was the French Haggard tract which was a government grant. W.B.J. Hardman bought off this place, or grant, one hundred acres, or more, in 1855. He built a house on it and it became known as the Dr. W.B.J. Hardman home place and his doctor's office. J.E. and W.R. Haggard lived on the land adjoining. They were sons of French Haggard. French Lord who lived on part of this grant was the grand son of French Haggard.
North of the Haggard place was the land of Bijah Wilbanks, who was the father of Mrs. Elijah Wilbanks; after-wards this was known as the Hilliard Ingram place. The old Buck Nunn place, before the War of the Sixties, adjoined on the west the Wilbank's land. This later was a part of the Shankle land. Adjoining the Shankle land was the Hargrove place just across the creek, later bought by C.W. Hood about 1867, then called the Cratic Gober home place.
In the northern part of the city was the Caleb Wood property, beginning at a branch on State Street east of Jessie Wood's home. Caleb Wood's property extended north of State Street and east of North Broad and Homer Streets, including most of the property on these streets. This was divided among the sons of Caleb Wood, namely, M.P. Wood, who lived where is now the George L. Carson home, owned by Mrs. Gussie Barber, daughter of George L. Carson. J.N. Wood owned a large part of lots where is now located K. N. Sharp Store, Belk-Gallant Store, down to the Dale Tin Shop. His residence was where his son, E. S. Wood, now lives. Part of this land was sold to Dr. V.H. Deadwyler in 1875 who built a home where the late J. T. Quillian later bought and rebuilt about the latter part of the 1890's. This property has recently been bought by the Blue Bell Overall Company and the house torn down. Jesse P. Wood owned the eastern portion of the Caleb Wood property which is now occupied by his daughter, Jessie Wood.
This adjoined the land owned by James W. Shankle afterward known as the Bowden tract of land. C.M. Wood owned the upper end of the Caleb Wood land, containing several acres, running back to Johntown, the Negro section.
P.C. Pittman, who was generally known as Dick Pittman, lived on Pittman's Creek, just a few yards on the east side of the creek. He ran a corn mill on the creek. He owned a considerable tract of land which extended up to what is now Johntown. This land joined the W.J. Goss place just east of Johntown and the Levi Shankle tracts owned by Levi Matthews and Dilmas Baugh.
Commerce - Harmony Grove
Commerce was originally known as Harmony Grove. The following article was in the JACKSON HERALD, Jefferson, Jackson Co., GA, issued on Friday, July 15, 1881. It
describes the little village of Harmony Grove in 1881, mentions a few of its citizens and their occupations. Thought some of you might be interested in a little of this town's history.
Mr. Editor: I had the pleasure recently of visiting Harmony Grove and vicinity. This village is on the Northeastern railroad. I should think it contained about 700
inhabitants, and 10 business houses. It has two churches and one high school. Three of the largest tax payers in Jackson county live here, almost in sight of each other: C.W. Hood, S.M. Shankle and Dr. W.B.J. Hardman. The two first named are merchants, while Dr. Hardman has retired from a large, lucrative practice, and is preaching for the Baptists in the Grove and some other churches in the country. Dr. Charles Harden, who once lived in Oconee county, is located here. He is succeeding well; has a large and increasing practice. His mother lives not farm from the Grove on a farm. I called to see R.A. Eckles, who has a large carriage and wagon establishment. He puts up the best home-made buggy known to me. Any one wanting anything in this line will do well to call and see him. Sam Hunter (col.) formerly an employee of the firm of Langford & Co., is painter in this shop. Sam was the only man I knew in the place. No whisky is sold here, and yet it prospers, and the people are quiet and orderly, disproving what we often hear that a place can't prosper and grow unless this stuff is sold in it . . . My home was with Mrs. Fannie Henry, and I could not wish a better one. The people treated me kindly .
I will write again from Jackson county next week. W.M.F. in Watkinsville Advance.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF OLD HOMES AND OTHER BUILDINGS
It is interesting to see typical buildings of a former generation. This chapter presents the buildings and homes that were erected from seventy to one hundred and fifty years ago with a few scenes of a later date. All of these show views within the village and incorporate town of Harmony Grove except an old residence which is located a short distance from town on the highway as indicated in the description under the photographs. These two views show pictures of a house probably a hundred and fifty years old.
Original James W. Shankle home on State Street. Occupied by Dr. W.B.J. Hardman
1851. Later by Mrs. Bowden until her death. Remodeled and now occupied by Herbert Sharp. This building is 120 years old.
Dwelling on North Broad. Street originally located near Blue Bell plant. Birth place of C. J. Hood, 1861. Removed by him about 1900 and exactly duplicated.
Original home of Isaiah Borders on Jefferson Road. Note hewn logs dove-tailed together. After his death there was found in the attic in a cache in the wall more than $2000.00 in gold and silver.
Rear view of the Isaiah Border's home. Note the rocks in the chimney and also the construction which is about 150 years old.
S.M. Shankle residence on Cherry Street. Built in front of his original home about 1878.
Jesse P. Wood home built by Samps Butler. Sold to Caleb Wood. Occupied by Dr. W.B.J. Hardman 1852-1856. Birth place of L. G. Hardman, Governor of Georgia.
Rear of S.M. Shankle home. This kitchen as shown was the original house. Built about 1845. The kitchen of the S.M. Shankle original home. Over 100 years old.
Originally the Northeastern Hotel run by Uncle Solomon Seegar and Aunt Calline Seegar probably during and just after the Civil war. Sold to W.A. Quillian about 1884.
Rear view of the Northeastern Hotel showing the kitchen and back veranda.
D.J. and Eliza Sanders home on Homer Street at the top of the hill. Built in 1872. Occupied by them until their death. An elevated point in the city.
Eli J. Riley house in the rear of Davis and Nix Store. Probably about 80 years old.
Home of L.G. Hardman built about 1878. Used as a hotel and boarding house 15 years. Later rolled from original site to Oak Street.
Office of Dr. W.B.J. Hardman in front of his residence on Madison Street. He practiced here from 1858 to 1878. L.G. Hardman read medicine here in 1875 and began his practice in this office.
Residence of T.C. Hardman originally built in 1893. Remodeled and rebuilt as above in 1912.
Photograph of the same building as above in 1948. 114 South Elm Street.
Hardman Sanatorium, 1899-1948. Original Central Hotel to right,
Central Hotel as remodeled. 1904-1942.
Pine Street, Commerce, Ga. 1905.
State and Broad Streets, Commerce, Ga.
W.T. Harber & Brothers General Supply Store 1886
Hardman Hardware Company T.C. Hardman 1909
Four ox wagon ride. (22 aboard). In front of the Central Hotel and Nix Brothers store May 1907
(Pictures not downloaded yet)
Same group as above at saw mill site 4 miles in the country. 1st row, left to
right: Ernest Jackson, Emma Stapler, Cliff Barber, Marguerite Cooper-Rider, Louise Truitt, Francine Hardman, Lucy Adams, Hallie Stapler, Maud Montgomery, Ossie Power; 2nd row: Joe Holdbrooks, Norine Cooper, Erie Hardman, Alice McCollum, Cliff Daughtry; 3rd row: Carl Williamson, Estelle Harber, Margaret Green, Charlie Truitt, Mrs. T.C. Hardman. Joe Hardman on tongue. T.C. Hardman by the tree
The early settlers constructed their houses of hewn logs for sills, sleepers,
walls and joists, mortised and pinned together. The rafters usually were skinned
pine poles. The buildings were covered with two or three-foot boards rived by
hand with a froe.
IDENTIFICATION OF HOUSES BY STREETS BEFORE THE TOWN WAS INCORPORATED
Beginning with South Elm Street, situated just below the oil mill on the knoll where now is the Harmony Grove Mill Ball Park, was a house and lot known as the Rose residence. In front of Water's Store, on the opposite side of the rail-road, was the Ezekiel Anthony small three room house, still standing, with additions. On the site of the Harmony Grove Mill office was located a small log building where John Embrey lived at the close of the Civil War. Josephine Carter taught school in this building in the late sixties. This school was attended by H.E. and L.G. Hardman, Billy McGinnis and other children of the community. Later, this building was occupied by R.S. Cheney as a residence during the time he was teaching in the first frame wooden school building located on the site of the present Grammar School. W. B. Powers lived here in 1877, moving from Oglethorpe County. Later, the building was bought by Mrs. M.S. Webb who sold it to the Harmony Grove Cotton Mill. The next house on South Elm Street was located on the hill, the present site of the late R. L. Daughtry home, and is now owned by the Harmony Grove Mill. This house was occupied in 1875 and 1876 by C.T. Nash; then by J.H. Campbell who sold it to A.H. Boone, who sold it to L.G. Hardman in 1890. On the Bran-non Rice lot there was a small house built by
Wilson Lord which still stands on the rear of this lot. The next house on South
Elm Street was the J.H. Campbell house which was first occupied by his son,Chan Campbell, who had a small store o nthe corner where Col. W. A. Stevenson now lives. The Campbell house is now occupied by Luther Chandler and is the property of Mrs. T.C. Hardman. Where the Baptist Church now stands was a log school house prior to 1874.
The first two-story school structure was erected in 1874 on the site of -the present grammar school building, the top story belonging to and used by the Masons. On the site where the old log school house stood the Baptist Church building was erected in the same year. Both of these lots were donated by C.W. Hood as was also one acre for a cemetery. Just back of the late Charley Cooper home,. or house, at the head of the small branch, Rush Cromer had a saw mill and a cotton gin. This was the year 1876, being the year that the North-eastern Railroad was built. About '1877 or '1878, a house was erected for R.S. Cheney, the first depot agent, which is now the home of Dr. A.A. Rogers. Dr. L.G. Hardman built his first doctor's office at the corner of the depot platform and erected his home, which was used for a hotel. It still stands on Oak Street just behind the present L.G. Hardman residence. On the corner of South Elm Street where stands the present City Hall was originally a spring, before the railroad was built. Sometime after the railroad was built, W.T. Thurmond had a wool carding machinery shop and some years later a planing mill and furniture factory, which was operated by Albert Dunstan, who later became a Baptist Missionary to Brazil, South America. J.A. Seegar owned and ran a livery stable in a wooden building
where the Roxy Theater now stands. On the corner of South Elm Street and Central
Avenue stood a two-story building known as Strickland Hall. The lower floor was
used for legal matters, holding courts, etc. The second floor was used for local
entertainment-slight of hand and other forms of public amusements. T.J. Allen's photo-graph gallery was in the second story of this building. Just in the rear of this building on Central Avenue was a boarding house known as the Jennie Butler house. After her marriage it was known as the Jennie Haley house. Here many transient travelers found lodging and many country people, when they came to town, ate their dinner at the price of 15 and 25 cents.
Continuing north on Elm Street, the next was the Echols House, just above the old Central Hotel site. C.W. Hood, Sr's store was next which stood just south of the R.L. Sanders' house at the driveway of Mrs. C. W. Hood, Sr. Between this store and the railroad was a blacksmith shop run by W.T. Stapler who moved to town about 1879 or '1880. In the woods at the rear of the present late B.M. Durham house, C.W. Hood operated a gin and threshing machine. Mr. Hood built a house for his sister, Mrs. C. A.M. Mann, mother of W.D. Mann, where Mrs. P.B. Trawick now lives. Just above the Mann house was a house built for, or by, W.L. Williamson, who was clerking for C.W. Hood, and moved into this house in 1879. This afterwards was occupied by A. B. Deadwyler and later by his mother, Mrs. V.H. Deadwyler. Just on the corner of Jefferson Street was the home of Isaac Wilbanks. His wife was a sister of J.C. and H.W. Wheeler. This home later was owned by B.B. Hawks. Isaac Wilbanks was one of the early merchants of Harmony Grove and erected the first brick store, located where Mrs. M.R. Barron's Dress Shop now is. On the opposite side of Jefferson Street on the site of the Standard Oil Station was the home of W.S. Edwards who was once one of the early merchants of the town and trustee of the Harmony Grove Common Schools.
This was also the house which F.H. Aderhold bought and lived in until his death. The other house just above was the home of Addison Chrisler, afterwards the home of Dr. F.M. Hubbard, where he spent his life as a physician.
Beginning on South Broad Street just within the incorporate limit was the W.C. Farrabee two-story building, erected in 1879. Going north the next was the C.T. Nash dwelling, which was known as the Eberhart place and where John I. Raylived for several years. Later this was owned by Mrs. C. T. Nash. Next was the old Eli Shankle home off the road, east. Later this place was owned by Mrs. Virginia Baugh who sold it to Mrs. W. M. Barber in 1883. It is now known as the Colquitt Hardman home. Next was the Jonah Bond two-story home, later owned by Mrs. T.E. Key, where Harvey Bray now lives. On the adjoining lot was the Rush Cromer home, an exact duplicate of his brother-in-law, Jonah Bond's house. It is now the Will D. Martin home. Next was the home occupied by L.H. Gober, afterwards bought and occupied by W.T. Harber. And adjoining this was a house in which a Mrs. Carithers lived which was later bought by Col. R.L.J. Smith.
Adjoining this was the Methodist Church building, which later was remodelled and
replaced by the present brick structure. Just above the Methodist Church on Cherry Street was the J.A. Segar home, later owned and occupied by T.A. Little. Just above on Cherry Street was the Green Sewell home, later bought by W.F. Langston who sold it to P.W. Sheppard. It is now owned by Reagan Sanders. Next was the S.M. Shankle home of which the ell part, the present kitchen, is more than a hundred years old. The main body was built about 1879 or '1880. On the corner of Cherry and Carnesville Streets was the house known as the Bowden house, originally owned by James W. Shankle, who married Martha Borders, daughter of Isaiah Borders, and who died in 1847. His widow later married James Bowden. Just across the Carnesville Street was the Caleb Wood home. The original house is still preserved in the backyard of Miss Jessie Wood. This property became the Jesse P. Wood home. Adjoining was the Jasper N. Wood home. North of Carnesville Street, just to the rear of the First National Bank, was the Solomon Seegar home, where he ran the Northeastern Hotel. It was later bought by W.A. Quillian and is still standing. Just below, on the same street, was the Eli Riley house. In the rear of this, near Claud Little's home, was the home of John C. Yeargin, who was the son-in-law of Solomon Seegar. Farther down on the same
street, toward North Broad, was a building that, for a long while, was occupied by J.T. Allen, photographer. Farther on was a building owned by Kimsey Smith and later owned by L.J. Sharp. Following North Board Street was a store building owned by J.N. Wood, next to W.A. Dale's tin shop and S.G. Dale's shoe shop, originally Dr. Deadwyler's office. Later it was occupied by T.M. Daniel. Next were two or three buildings occupied by Negroes. These buildings were owned by J.T. Quillian and E.B. Anderson. One was Tom Norris' restaurant. His chief business was feeding prisoners and doing white-washing. Next in the hollow, Jeff Freeman lived and in this house was a Negro barber shop, later a Chinese laundry. As I recall there were only three or four Chinese who ever lived here and ran a laundry. Just in the rear of these houses was the Dr. V.H. Deadwyler home, later owned by J.T. Quillian. Following North Broad Street was the John A. Williford home on the site of the Davis Warehouse. On the site of the A.B. Deadwyler home was the home of Dr. Alexander, a dentist. The G.L. Carson, Sr., home was the home of Marion P. Wood. The last home on North Broad was a house on the site of the J.B. Hardman home.
On the corner of North Broad and Homer Streets originally was located a cotton gin, operated by W.B. Powers and W.T. Thurmond, where later was the residence of W.A. Dale and the residence of D.C. Nichols. Just in the rear of the Nichols' house was a small two-room dwelling with a brick basement, which still stands. This building was occupied in 1877 by M.L. Parker, superintendent of the public schools, later by W.T. Stapler. Continuing up Homer Street, there was a house above the railroad sidetrack, on the present Harden lot, which Dr. F.M. Hubbard occupied when he first came to Harmony Grove in 1883. Just above this, was the C.M. Wood home; where he lived all his life. It is now the home of Mrs. John Carson. The First Presbyterian Church was located on the site of the L.L. Davis home. North of this was the Riley lot, the house originally built and occupied by R.L. Hardman, next to the home of Mrs. W.B. Wagnon. The Wagnon lot was part of the Sander's land. On the west side of Homer Street was the home of W.J. Goss, now occupied by Mrs. P.C. Strickland. The last house on Homer Street was the home of D.J. Sanders, still standing on the top of the hill.
DEVELOPMENT OF HARMONY GROVE FROM 1810 TO 1884
Some pioneer families and individuals who laid the foundation and formed the background of the village and town of Harmony Grove from its beginning in 1808 to 1880- together with their children and some of their grandchildren:
Hardy Minish: His two sons: Eli and Pierce.
Dickey Minish: Three sons: B.J., Will and Jesse.
Eli Shankle: Three sons: James W., Levi, S.M. and five daughters: Polly,
Elizabeth, Eritha, Martha Ann, Ophelia.
Levi Shankle: Three sons: Sam, Ras, and Dr. William M. and four daughters:
Virginia, Mrs. Levi Mathews, Mrs. D.D. Baugh and Sara King.
S.M. Shankle: Five sons: A.G., A.M., L.P., Claud and O.E.; four daughters:
Anelia, Ida, Maggie and Pauline.
Tapley Bennett: Two sons: Captain A.T. and Hosea
C.W. Hood: Two sons: C.J. and C.W., Jr.; two daughters: Mary and Ruth.
W.C. Hood: Three sons: John H., Ben and W.T.; two daughters: Estelle and Delia.
W.B.J. Hardman: Six sons: H.E., L.G., R.L., W.B., T.C., and J.B.; five daughters: Anelia, Ethlene, Lanora, Sallie, Mildred. His sons were: two preachers, H.E., and T.C.; two physicians, L.G. and W.B.; two business and public men, R.L. and J.B.
W.C. Farrabee: Three sons: C.O., L.J. and Luther B.; five daughters: R.A., R.D., L.H., P.C. and Loonie B.
Caleb Wood: Four sons: M.P., J.N., J.P. and M.C.
M.P. Wood Four sons: John W., Ed, Pleasant and Ernest; five daughters: Julia,
Laura, Viola, Maggie and Marion.
Samps Butler: Two sons: Jesse and Tom; one daughter, Miss Jenny Butler; two
grandsons, Bob and Joe.
J.N. Wood: Five sons: D.C., Lee, E.S., C.C. and Omar; four daughters: Josie,
Mattie, Nezzie and Maude.
Jesse P. Wood:Two sons: Carey and Calvin; three daughters: Leila, Toonie and
M.C. Wood: One daughter: Lizzie.
Solomon Seegar: Two sons: J. Ansel and Thomas; one daughter: Mrs. J.C. Yeargin.
John C. Yeargin: Two sons: William J. and Charlie.
J. Ansel Seegar: Three sons: S.J.T., P.S.B. and J.W.J.; three daughters:
Lizzie, Francina and Mary.
J.A. Williford: Four sons: Q.L., J.H., W.D. and Robert.
D. J. Sanders: Four sons: D.G., C.B., C.M. and R.L.; three daughters: Ella,
Florence and Mary.
P.C. Pittman: Five sons: P.O., J.I., N.O., T.C. and C.E.; three daughters:
Alice, Sue and Octie.
P.O. Pittman: One son: W.O.; two daughters: Maud and Lillian.
T.C. Pittman: One son: O.C.; one daughter: Reba.
C.E. Pittman: Two sons: Brooks and Clarence.
W.T. Stapler: Three sons: Odell, Carl and Hoyt; three daughters: Emma, Gussie
C.T. Nash: Four daughters: Addie, Rosa, Lovie and Lula.
Dr. V.H. Deadwyler: Eight sons: Henry, Phil, Will, John D., A.B., O.E., Hoyt
and Clyde; two daughters: Savannah and Lula.
A.B. Deadwyler: One son: Joe; one daughter: Rene.
James C. Campbell: Three sons: Chan, J.B. and Gibson.
Wilson Lord:Five sons: Jim, Dave, Bob, John and Emory.
Mrs. C.A.M. Mann One son: W.D.; two daughters: Lizzie and Nelia.
J.S.P. Ritchie Six sons: L.A., R.C., Jim, Gamer, John and Otis; two
daughters: Cornelia and Lilly.
L.H. Gober: Four sons: Willie, Marvin, Olin and Lenos; three daughters: Carrie,
Emma and Mera.
J. Madison Keith: Three sons: Claudius Alphonso, Byron Sebastian and Adrian
J.M. Chandler: Five sons: Walter, Edgar, Arthur, Herbert and Clovus.
Rush Cromer: Five sons: Eddie, Rondo, Theo, Roscoe and Ponto.
Jonah A. Bonds: Two sons: Charlie and Luther; two daughters: Minnie and Bertie.
Littleton Barber:Five sons: C.T., W.L., Dee, Ed and Henry; four daughters:
Jennie, Emma, Frances and Minnie.
C.T. Barber: Nine sons: Clint, Fred, Theo, Wily, Rob, Dave, Calvin, Howard and
Talmadge; three daughters: Marion, Estelle and Bell.
W.L. Barber: Three sons: Earl, Hugh and Alf; four daughters: Kathleen, Gertrude,
Nan and Camille. Dee Barber-One son: Cliff D.; two daughters: Pearl and Ruby.
J.O. Adair: Two sons: Thomas B. and Ferdinand; three daughters: Hattie, Montine
W.B. Barnett: Two sons: Keff and John.
J.D. Barnett:Three sons: Horace, Harold and Paul; three daughters: Kathleen,
Lorena and Merle.
R.S. Cheney: Five sons: Roy, Rob, Hood, Mell and Berkley; five daughters: Kate,
Wertie, Edna, Olive and Agnes.
B.S. Bohannon: One daughter: Ida Buck Nunn Home near the L.P. Shankle residence.
Frank Sewell-Home near Methodist Church; later the T.A. Little home.
W.S. Edwards-Four sons: Joe, Hugh, S.N., and Lamar; two daughters: Fannie and
W.B. Power: Three daughters: Emma, Pearl and Ossie.
W.R. Goss: Two sons: W.J. and I.H.; three daughters: Mrs. D.M. Burns, Dora
W.J. Gross: Two daughters: Lady and Grace.
J.L Ray Two sons: Charlie and Frank.
W.T. Thurmond Two sons: Thad and A.H.; four daughters: Exa, Kyle, Alma and Sue.
Micajab Williamsson: Three sons: John, W.L. and L.W.; one daughter: Mary Appleby.
W.F. Stark: Five sons: C.D., Young, W.W., Albert and A.G.; three daughters:
Mrs. Clara Maddox, Lula and Ellie.
C.D. Stark: Four sons: Homer, W.F., E.C. and Hope
D.W.W. Stark-One son: William; two daughters: Ruth and Zelma.
Eli Crow: Two sons: Frank E. and Lonnie; two daughters: Mattie and Lena.
W.T. Harber: Four sons: H.R., P.T., T.A. and R.B.; five daughters: Lizzie,
Nelle, Estelle, Lucy Bell and Thelma.
Development of Harmony Grove from r 8 r o- r 884 25
G.W.D. Harber: Four sons: W. Y., John, Henry and Leo; five daughters: Ethel,
Ruth, Pat, Marie and Mary Dillard.
W.B. Hardman: Four daughters: Wilda, Elizabeth, Helen and Ida Shankle.
T. C. Hardman: Three sons: Colquitt, Lawrence and Joseph; two daughters: Francine
SOME OF THE MEN WHO CAME TO HARMONY GROVE BETWEEN 1880 AND 1900
N.C. (Lat) Alexander
N. Stiles Alexander
Dr. W.A. Alexander
J. W. Black
G.L. Carson, Sr.
G.L. Carson, Jr.
John M. Carson
Cicero H. Daniel
John W. Dowdy
Ed P. Eberhart
George W. Gordon
John M. Gordon
John H. Gunnels
Dr. Charles Harden
Dr. R.R. Harden
Dr. W.P. Harden
Joe W. Hill
H. Corbin Hood
Dr. F.M. Hubbard
Dr. M.F. Nelms
Reuben C. Nunn
Joe A. Quillian
Eli J. Rylie
John W. Sailers
Dr. L.J. Sharp
Nathaniel (Nat) Sharp
William Thurmond, Sr.
Joe H. Webb
Leon P. Webb
W. Ed Whitehead
James E. Williams
Henry E. Williams
John T. Williams
Family Record of Eli Shankle who was probably the first settler of Harmony Grove.
Eli Shankle: Born Aug. 5, 1784, died April 15, 1852.
Rebecca Hargrove Shankle: Born Dec. 4, 1786, died Dec. 4, 1866.
Polly Shankle: Born March 5, 1811; married Henry B. Gober, father of L. H. Gober.
James W. Shankle: Born Oct. 18, 1812, died Feb. 12, 1847.
Levi H. Shankle: Born Feb. 9, 1815, died 1883.
Elizabeth Shankle: Born May 20, 1819.
Eritha Shankle: Born June 1, 1821; married Linton C. Dunson.
Martha Ann Shankle: Born Jan. 29, 1823; married Linsey Dunson.
Seaborn McKendree Shankle:Born July 8, 1825, died 1885.
Ophelia Amanda Shankle: Born Sept. 11, 1830; married C. W. Hood, Sr.; died 1857.
Eli Shankle married Rebecca Hargrove whose father lived on Hargrove Creek. They married about 1808 or 1809 and settled at the head of a large spring on the east side of Spring Street. Later he built a log house on the hill west of the spring, where he reared his family. The home was owned later by Levi Shankle who sold it to his oldest daughter, Virginia Baugh. Mrs. Baugh sold it in 1883 to Mrs. M.M. Barber of Washington, Ga. After the death of Mrs. Barber in 1906 this home was bought by her daughter, Mrs. T.C. Hardman. In 1915 this house was taken down and a home built on that site, for her eldest son, T. Colquitt Hardman. Some of the original timbers were put into the new building.
HARMONY GROVE-COMMERCE POST OFFICE AND POSTMASTERS
The Harmony Grove Post Office was established October 14, 1825 and evidently
located near Pittman's Bridge on the place known as the John B. Jackson farm, in
the vicinity of the Harmony Grove Female Academy. There is no recorded information that this school ever functioned to any great extent and as the site of the town later known as Harmony Grove began to settle up and to establish business places, the post office was evidently moved to that place, probably in the 1830's, not later than 1840.
The post office when moved from its original site was first located at a point near the present Harmony Grove Mills office. Soon afterward it was moved to the center of business activities which was then on State and Cherry Streets and known as the Athens and Clarksville road. The first location I remember, about 1876, was in a wooden building on the present site of the C.E. Pittman brick building. The office was moved in 1882 to a corner in the L.G. Hardman Drug Store building. Some years later it was moved to North Elm Street in a building now occupied by Dr. A.A. Rogers. Still later about 1910, or 1912, it was located on the corner of Central Avenue and South Elm Street where it remained until 1933. At this date it was moved to the present site into the government owned building.
The Commerce Post Office was raised from the fourth class to the third class on January 1st, 1903. The name was changed to Commerce, November 17, 1903.
Russell Jones was appointed first postmaster in 1825 and served at the original location. Of course there were other postmasters during the fifty year period from 1825 to 18751 but their names are not available.
Those who have served as postmasters with dates as far as can be obtained:
Under the name of Harmony Grove:
W.J. Goss 1875-1880
Taylor Gordon 1880-1888
C.C. Alexander 1888-1892
A.C. Appleby 1892-1896
R.C. Moss 1896-1898
J.L. Dunson 1898-1904
After the name was changed to Commerce:
C.C. Alexander 1904-1908
N.C. Alexander 1908-1912
G.L. Carson, Sr. 1913
W.T. Thurmond 1913-1922
J.L. Dunson 1922-1933
Mrs. C.C. Ward 1933-1949
There are six rural mail routes radiating from Commerce in every direction
and covering all the territory in a radius of eight to ten miles.
INDIVIDUALS WHOSE PERSONALITIES CONTRIBUTED TO THE CHARACTER, TONE AND REPUTATION OF HARMONY GROVE TOGETHER WITH THE EARLY BUSINESS FIRMS WHO FIRST PUT HARMONY GROVE ON THE MAP
Little is recorded or known of the very early settlers as to their particular
personalities, but from the beginning of the growth of the village of Harmony Grove, about 1845 or 1850, a number of men came upon the scene whose characteristics are worth noting.
(1) C.W. Hood, Sr., who was born in 1827, was the son of William C. Hood and Winnifred Hood who were charter members of the Beaver Dam Baptist Church in 1826. Mr. C.W. Hood, Sr., was reared near Apple Valley and while a young man came to Harmony Grove and entered into the mercantile business which he conducted for more than forty years. Mr. Hood was a man of retiring disposition, limited education, but with great business qualifications, noted for his economy and thrift. Having large farm interests, he ac-cumulated a princely fortune for those days. Mr. Hood was very active in church and school affairs and contributed largely to these institutions, donating land and money in a liberal way. He had a large part in building the Northeastern Rail-road, subscribing stock and giving the site for the depot. Verily, it can be said, he was one of the founders of Harmony Grove.
C.J. Hood, son of C.W. Hood, Sr., entered into the affairs of the town and community about 1883. He was the chief promoter of the Northeastern Bank, the first banking institution in the town. Mr. Hood in many ways contributed to the progress of the city, serving as mayor three times and noted as one of the most liberal contributors to the community welfare.
(2) W.C. Hood, who was the younger brother of C.W. Hood, Sr., was identified with the progress of the town after the Civil War. Owning a good portion of the himself engaged in the mercantile business for several years.
(3) S.M. Shankle was the youngest son of Eli Shankle, born in 1825 and was the brother-in-law of C.W. Hood, Sr. Mr. Hood's first wife was his sister. Mr. Shankle inherited a large section of land on the eastern side of the town, most of which has since been developed as a residential section. Mr. Shankle was engaged in the mercantile business some thirty-five years. All his life he was a strong supporter of the Methodist Church in Harmony Grove. He reared a family of five boys and four girls, all of whom were worthwhile contributors to the progress of the town and community.
(4.) Dr. W.B.J. Hardman: Dr. Hardman was born November 23, 1822 and reared in Oglethorpe County and came to Harmony Grove in 1848 or '49 as a practicing physician. He boarded with Mr. S. M. Shankle for about two years and was married to Miss E.S. Colquitt of Oglethorpe County, January 2, 1851. His first residence for one year was the old Bowden house on State Street. Then he resided five years in the J.P. Wood house across the street. In 1856, he built his home on Madison County road. Having purchased a large tract of land, he engaged in farming while he continued the practice of his profession. Dr. Hardman, in cooperation with C.W. Hood, Sr., was active in the promotion of a number of institutions and industries in Harmony Grove. Among these were the establishment of the Harmony Grove Baptist Church and the fostering of the schools of which he was for a long time a trustee, serving as Chairman of the Board. He aided in locating the Northeastern Railroad through Harmony Grove. He, with C.W. Hood, Sr., was the author of the section in the Harmony Grove Charter prohibiting the legal sale of intoxicants within the incorporate limit of the town perpetually. Dr. Hardman had a wide range of territory in his practice before and during the war as he was the only physician in this section. Dr. Crawford Long of Jefferson and Dr. Daniel of Danielsville were his contemporaries and were the nearest located physicians. After practicing his profession for nearly thirty years, he was called to the ministry and be-came the first pastor of the Harmony Grove Baptist Church. His family consisted of six boys and five girls, two of whom died in early girlhood. Two, L.G. Hardman and W.B. Hardman, became physicians.
Dr. L.G. Hardman had a wide sphere of influence and as a practicing physician, he succeeded his father in this community. He served in the State House and Senate and was co-author of the Prohibition Bill that gave Georgia a dry law in 1907. He served two terms as Governor of the State of Georgia.
W.B. Hardman enjoyed the distinction of being one of the finest surgeons in this section and his reputation was state-wide. He was also a popular practitioner who knew how to treat patients in the home and to meet their needs. His friendly approach was greatly appreciated and he found a place in the hearts of the people.
Two, H.E. Hardman and T.C. Hardman, were ministers of the Gospel. These two ministered to the churches in the surrounding section as pastors of various churches. They strengthened the faith and stabilized the spiritual life of the people. These two preached salvation by grace, a new life and a transforming Gospel.
Two, R.L. and J.B. Hardman, were business men. R.L. Hardman spent his life in the hardware business, opened the first hardware store in Harmony Grove in 1884. He was the second mayor of the town. A few years later he moved to Atlanta and continued in the hardware business. J. B. Hardman served the town both as a merchant and in the insurance business. He served four terms as mayor of Harmony Grove and Commerce. He was later a member of the Georgia Senate. The number of his friends was measured only by the extent of his acquaintance.
(5) Caleb Wood was one of the early settlers who lived about two miles northwest of Harmony Grove at what is now known as the W. B. Hardman Peach Orchard. He bought and owned a large acreage near the center of town which his four sons inherited and which was divided into four tracts. From best information, Mr. Caleb Wood never lived in Harmony Grove, but bought part of the land he owned in town from Samps Butler; certainly the house and lot on State Street later owned by his son, Jesse P. Wood and probably some other portions of land owned by Caleb Wood.
Two of his sons, J.N. and Jesse P., engaged in business at various times in Harmony Grove and all four of his sons had a part in the growth of the community. The two above mentioned reared good size families, most of whom continued here and furnished growth and strength to the town.
(6) W.C. Farrabee was a unique character in Harmony Grove. He was high tempered, temperamental and excitable, with a good bit of Irish in him. He was always ready to con-tend for what he considered his rights. Harmony Grove was not complete without this man of eccentricities, yet withal a valuable citizen. Mr. Farrabee's family consisted of three boys and five girls. These for the most part remained as citizens of Harmony Grove-Commerce. The eldest son, Cecil, went to Arkansas in his early manhood and made a success in that state.
(7) Solomon Seegars was a rather old man when he came from Madison County and established the Northeastern Hotel some years after the Civil War and had a small part in the mercantile realm. His son, J. Ansel Seegar, was pioneer in the livery stable business. For quite a while he furnished the transportation and drayage facilities for the town.
(8) W.T. and G.W.D. Harber were brothers who came to Harmony Grove in 1875 or 76 and established a mercantile business together. They were reared in Franklin County. W.T., the older of the two, had had some business experience in Marietta, Ga. This firm of W.T. Harber & Brother was one of the stalwart business institutions' for some thirty years. Both of these men were frugal, industrious and wise business men and each had accumulated a sizable fortune for himself and family. After the death of W.T. in 1902, G W.D. with his son, W.Y. Harber, conducted a thriving business for a long period. Each of these men had a family of four boys and five girls, several of whom have made Commerce their permanent home and contributed to its progress.
(9) W.B. Power. Perhaps no man was more closely associated with the business life of Harmony Grove than W.B. Power. Coming here from Oglethorpe County in 1877, he engaged in several enterprises. In 1882 he formed the partner-ship with J.M. Chandler and R.L. Hardman under the firm name of Power-Chandler & Company. After a year or more in business, this firm enlarged its partnership and changed the firm name to Power-Key & Company. This partnership was not a success and was liquidated. Mr. Power then formed a partnership with John H. Gunnells which continued for some five years and was finally dissolved. Then, Mr. Power formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, H.O. Williford. They built a large supply store in 1891 where the Blue Bell Overall Plant is now located. Here they conducted a large supply business and cotton buying enterprise that gave Harmony Grove a wide reputation as a good market. Mr. Power died in 1904 and the business continued under the firm name of Williford, Burns & Rice.
(10) C.D. Stark. C.D. Stark came to Harmony Grove from his country home in Jackson County in about 1885 and entered the mercantile business. Mr. Stark was full of life, unbounded energy, good business ability and a liberal supply of gab. In the thirty-five years of his business activities, he added much to the reputation of the town as a business center. He often sold goods at a close or cut price which gave much concern to his competitors, the Harbers, Powers, Hoods, and others. He had a family of four boys, all of whom have made a success in life.
(11) W.A. and J.T. Quillian. These brothers came to Harmony Grove in 1880 and entered into the mercantile life of the town. When Harmony Grove was incorporated, W.A. Quillian was elected the first Mayor and served for two years. After some years of partnership, J.T. Quillian withdrew and set up a separate business in the sale of wagons and buggies, also in the brokerage of grain, flour and other lines. W. A. continued the business under the name of Quillian & Sons, T.F. and R.T. being members of the firm.
(12) E.B. Anderson & W.D. Mann. About the time the Northeastern Bank was founded, C.W. Hood & Son sold their mercantile business to Anderson & Mann, who conducted a large supply and general mercantile business which added much to the assets of the town. This firm continued its operation and became one of the large cotton factors of the city. After some twenty years, Mr. Anderson withdrew and established a private bank. Mr. Mann continued the business until after 1920.
(13) T.E. Key and J.D. Barnett. These men under the firm name of Key & Company did a general supply and grocery business from about 1888 for fifteen or twenty years. This firm had a large trade and bought a considerable amount of cotton during their business career. Each of them served as Mayor of Harmony Grove and Mr. Key was the first Mayor of Commerce after the new name was adopted.
(14) J.M. Nix, L.L. Davis, P.W. Sheppard. These fine men came to Harmony Grove in 1895 and opened the firm of Sheppard, Davis & Nix, later changed to Davis & Nix when Mr. Sheppard withdrew. This firm supplied a place in the town of supply merchants after most of the others had discontinued and was probably the last firm who carried on this method of business after the retirement of other firms. Mr. Davis became the chief cotton factor under the name of L.L. & V.L. Davis.
(15) Among others who did a mercantile business in Harmony Grove from 1880 to 1900 were W.J. Goss, W.S. Edwards, Key & Williamson, Burgess & Allen, Isaac Wilbanks, W.W. Jordan, Jeremiah Strickland, Alexander & Teasley, A.H. Boone, B.B. Hawks, Kimsey Smith, J.E. Massey, Hardman & Shankle, Hardman Merchandise Company, Hardman Hardware Company, L.J. Sharp & Bro., L.G. Hardman & Bro., Wagnon & Wood, Marcus Jacob, Bennett & Wilson, A.C. & J.H. Campbell and W.A. Dale, William Thurmond, Sr., John M. Gordon, I. H. Harris & Co., and Herschel Bolton, and Benton and Adair Hardware Co.
HARMONY GROVE CROWD DOES NOT WANT To BE BRACKETED WITH EARLY COMMERCE
By Paul T. Harber, Commerce News, Sept. 13, 1945
Recent comment in the News relative to Harmony Grove and its successor, Commerce, and a comparison of the times years ago with conditions today, has roused the feelings of some of the real old-timers who want to be known as the Harmony Grove crowd. One of them said, "Don't bracket our crowd with the early Commerce contingent. They are a different species. Call them old-timers, if you choose, but let our crowd be known as P.S.A.W., Pre-Spanish American War, which represents a period before 1898." But let him tell it. Here's what he has to say.
"Our Harmony Grove crowd" don't want any disunity or unfriendly feelings, but we want it to be known that it was old Harmony Grove that did big things and furnished the spark for later progress by the new city of Commerce which carried on successfully for many years and then was let down by a generation that seemed to have forgotten the lessons taught them by their grandfathers.
What was this community's first industry? Why it was R.A. (Bob) Eckles exterior finish shop, or buggy and wagon factory, a contribution of Harmony Grove to the world of transportation.
Mr. Eckles first made two-horse wagons and began majoring in buggies. He
finished his buggies with 14 to 16 coats of varnish and they shined until you
could see yourself in the body. Judge B.S. Bohannon was one of the painters and
Mr. Petat an expert trimmer.
No such buggy or wagon, for durability, ever rolled out of any factory. Studebaker, White Hickory and other wagons were manufactured in large numbers, but no wagon was superior to that of Robert A. Eckles. His buggies and carriages were equally as durable and popular. Ask your granddad about this successful industry in Harmony Grove.
Our crowd believed in providing a good education for children. We didn't ask the state and the federal government for money. Two school buildings were built by the pioneers. The first was where the grammar school is now located. It was a two-story frame structure, built in 1874 and it was razed in 1889, and was replaced by a brick structure which burned to the ground in 1895. The second brick building burned in 1903.
The first teachers after the Civil War were G.J.N. Wilson, R.S. Cheney and G.W. Brown, a one-armed veteran of the Civil War. Mr. Cheney taught again in 1875 and 1876, after which he became the first local agent for the Northeastern Railroad.
M.L. Parker succeeded Prof. Cheney in January 1877 and taught for five years. L.M. Landrum taught in 1882 and 1883 and afterwards was Superintendent of Boys High School in Atlanta for over thirty years until his death.
W.H. Key succeeded Prof. Landrum in 1884 and he was followed by Joe A. Quillian in 1885 and 1886; F. M. Blount in 1887; Henry Walker from 1888 to 1891 inclusive; Harry Strozier and his brother, A. J., in 1892 and 1893; W. Herschel Cobb in 1893 to 1895 inclusive; Claud Gray in 1896 to 1898; M. L. Parker in 1899 to 1900 and Peter Zellers from 1902 through 1904.
Prof. Cobb was the father of Tyrus Raymond Cobb, the noted baseball player.
Miss Rosa Taylor, Mrs. Jennie Truitt, Mrs. Nettie Methvin Holder and other highly capable women teachers were among those who served in the local school back in the days of Harmony Grove. We went after the best teachers and got 'em.
In religious circles Harmony Grove was a leader. Such able, consecrated' and
influential preachers as Dr. W.B.J. Hard-man, Dr. Henry F. Hoyt, Rev. W.M. Coile, Henry E. Hardman, Rev. John H. Wood, Dr. B.F. Riley, Rev. Groves Cartledge, Rev. G.W. Duvall, Dr. M.L. Troutman and other leaders in religious thought were among the pastors of the local and nearby churches. Congregations were large. People went to church in those days.
Dr. B.F. Riley was pastor of the First Baptist Church from 1894 to 1896 and the present brick structure which houses the church in Commerce was built in 1896. The wooden structure was moved from the present location of the First Church to Madison Street Baptist Church where it now stands. Rev. Henry Hardman was the first pastor of the Madison Street Church. Rev. W.B.J. Hardman served the First Baptist Church from 1874 to 1890, a period of sixteen years. He was followed by Rev. W.M. Coile and then Dr. B.F. Riley who served for three years. Rev. G.W. Garner served the First Baptist Church from 1897 to 1902.
Somebody ought to write a complete history of the schools and churches of those days. It would be an inspiration to the newer generations.
Big Retail Stores
Our merchants and store-keepers were known for their full stocks of high class merchandise, consisting of dry goods, groceries, notions, and plantation supplies. Among the pioneers were Solomon Seegar, Seabom M. Shankle, C.W. Hood, W.J. Goss, W.T. Harber, G.W.D. Barber, W.B. Power, Jasper Wood, H.O. Williford, C.D. Stark, T.C. Hardman, W.D. Mann and others who sold goods over a period of years.
After the railroad was constructed from Athens to Lula in 1876, Harmony Grove became one of the leading distributing communities of Northeast Georgia. Trade from four counties was built up and in time the freight receipts of Commerce exceeded those of any other town of similar size on the Southern Railway.
Rural soundness was one of the reasons for Harmony Grove's solidarity and progress. Farmers back in those days were real dirt farmers. They lived in large white houses with green blinds and broad porches. Commodious barns, smoke-houses and storage buildings were on the premises. Corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, peas, sorghum and other crops were raised in addition to cotton. On the place were apples, peaches, grapes, scuppernongs, figs, and other kinds of fruits. There were fine farm animals, milk cows, pigs, cattle, and sheep. Yes, the people believed in raising their own food products and did.
Rural sections had good church buildings and school houses. Communities like Arp, Beaverdam, Ashland, Hebron, Nails Creek, Apple Valley, Hudson River, Blacks Creek, Ft. Lamar, Ila and other country communities, were well known for their good farms and excellent citizens. In those days the country sections had medical facilities. Such able physicians as Dr. H.P. Quillian, Dr. W.P. Harden, Dr. Frank Payne, Dr. George Westbrooks, and Dr. Robert Westbrooks were among the practitioners who resided in the country districts.
You said in your paper that the new Commerce women made the old Harmony Grove store keepers remove the chicken coops from the front of their establishments. This was true but don't forget that the P.S.A.W. pioneers went in for a chicken in every pot and a good horse in every stable.
People in those days were friendly, sociable, generous and democratic. Picnics, barbecues, ice cream festivals, school entertainments, family reunions and candy pullings were popular. A young man could have more fun with a nickel than mardom youth with a dollar. There wasn't much to buy for pleasure purposes. And there was no such thing as juvenile delinquency. Children had homemade fun. They were too busy playing wholesome games and working to get into mischief.
Harmony Grove was also noted for its pretty girls and handsome boys. While the girls wore puffed sleeved dresses, buttoned shoes, Flora Dora big hats (done over by milliners each season) and long hair rolled up in a long psyche, their complexion was peachy and positively beautiful. No period has ever seen such beautiful Georgia women as those magnolia and old lace days.
And the boys were really handsome. They wore black high-top shoes, detached white collars and cuffs, bow ties, dark coats and striped trousers and sported a black derby and a mustache. This combination had its appeal. Topped off with a bay horse, a red rubber-tired buggy, a highly colored embroidered lap robe and a $1.50 sporty whip, young men did some fancy courting. Their clothes and technique were of the Gay Ninety days but no more ardent lovers were ever known than your grandfathers.
Used Candles and Some Oil Lamps
Yes sir, Mr. Editor, the man of yesterday wore jeans breeches, brass toed leather shoes, boots with red tops, sprouted mustaches, wore long hair which was cut semi-occasionally by their mothers, using plain scissors, studied by candle light, played town ball in the streets, cat ball at the church buildings, baseball in pastures, went barefooted until they were six-teen years of age, fed the stock, held the calf off at milking time, and helped their mothers with the chores.
And the girls canned fruit, helped cook and wash dishes, sewed, darned, churned the milk, worked in the flowers and learned to make their own dresses. Call them old fashioned if you want to but your grandmothers of Harmony Grove were among the finest and best looking women the world has ever seen.
These are just some of the evidences of a sturdy, dependable, thrifty, God fearing people who paved the way for and set an example for succeeding generations to follow. So in talking about the new and big things to be accomplished by Commerce in 1945, look back to the days of Harmony Grove, the days of your grandparents, for inspiration. Remember the P.S.A.W. people. They were worthy of your best efforts to build a better community and a better civilization.
GROWTH OF THE TOWN HARMONY GROVE, INC., 1884-1904 AND THE CITY OF COMMERCE TOGETHER WITH ALL OFFICIALS AND OFFICERS, 1904-1948
The town of Harmony Grove, Ga., was incorporated in 1884, a charter having been approved by Governor Henry D. McDaniel Dec. 24, 1884. An election was held Jan. 15, 1885 and the following Mayor and Councilmen were elected:
W.A. Quillian Mayor
W.C. Green Councilman 1st Ward
R.B. Burgess Councilman 2nd Ward
G.W.D. Harber Councilman 3rd Ward
W.S. Edward Councilman 4th Ward
The first meeting of the Council was on Jan. 19, 1885. William H. Simpkins was elected Clerk, W.C. Green, Treasurer, and G.B. Whitehead, Marshal. Salaries fixed for officers were:
Mayor $ 50.00 per year
Clerk 50.00 per year
Treasurer 15.00 per year
Marshall 300.00 per year
Councilmen served free.
All officers were exempted from street tax. Street tax was $3.50 a year. The first tax assessment was .20 on $100.00 and penalties were designated for violations of the ordinances. The town was divided into four wards.
TREASURER'S REPORT FOR 1885
Fines & Cost $173.00
Tax on Shows 43.50
Street Tax 286.90
Tax on Personal Property & Real Estate 566.00
TOTAL RECEIPTS $1,069.40
For Work & Material on Streets 245.30
Officers Salaries 415.00
Calaboose & Printing & Misc. Accts. 219.48
Cash on hand 189.62
POPULATION IN 1886
White 395 198 197
Negro 184 79 105
Total 579 277 302
POPULATION IN 1948
Estimated Registered Voters Church Mem'ship.
White 4800 1180 1979
Negro 600 144 435
Total 5400 1334 2414
The charter of Harmony Grove was unique in the history of the towns of the state in that this instrument contained a provision in section 31 that the Mayor and Council of the town of Harmony Grove shall never have power to license the sale of spirituous, malt, vinous, alcoholic or intoxicating liquors or beers of any kind in the town of Harmony Grove. This provision was transferred into the Charter of the City of Commerce. The credit for this wise provision was due chiefly to C.W. Hood and Dr. W.B.J. Hardman. An ordinance was proposed in 1906 in reference to the sale of spirituous liquors to increase the fine for violation from $300 to $ 500, or 60 days, not to exceed 12 months on the street. This ordinance was passed.
In 1906, the first electric lights were contracted for with the Harmony Grove
Mill to install twenty or more street lights, the mill to have the street
franchise to install lines and sell current to the town. This contract was to
continue for eleven years. After the expiration of this contract, the city
installed a light plant at the waterworks site, and paid the Harmony Grove Mill
$6,800.00 for their lines, poles and other equipment. The city continued to
produce electric cur-rent until 1927 when contract to purchase current was made
with the Georgia Power Company.
An ordinance for fire protection was passed in Feb. 1907. A Fire Department
was organized and it was provided that in the fire area that no building or
structure should be erected other than brick, concrete or stone. This area
extended from Homer Street to the railroad crossing near the Methodist Church
and from the railroad on the west. Dwellings were exempted.
An election was held July 16, 1907 to vote bonds for water-works and sewerage; $45,000.00 5% bonds were issued in 1908 and $8,000.00 5% bonds in 1909 for sewerage. The first waterworks commissioners were T.C. Hardman, chairman, C.J. Hood and Claud Montgomery. The first superintendent was D.L. Caston. A preliminary survey was made in 1907. Purchase was made of 2.6 acres of land from H.E. Hardman for the waterworks site. Also the right of way for the pipe lines to the corporate limit was secured and same was incorporated as part of the city. This land was deeded Sept. 11, 1908. The contract for installing waterworks and the sewerage system was given to J. B. McCrary Company of Atlanta.
Eight thousand dollars 5% bonds were issued in 1913 for paving side walks. The contract was let to W. C. Campbell Company, Columbus, G a. T.C. Hardman, chairman of the street committee, was supervisor of the project. More than two and one-half miles of concrete sidewalks were paved in the fall of 1913 and the spring and summer of 1914 the owners of property paying one-half the cost.
Thirty-one thousand dollars 5% bonds were issued in 1927 for the paving of some two and one-half miles of concrete pavement of streets. The paving began at the corner of Washing and North Elm Streets extending to Madison Street. The State Highway Department participated one-third in this part of the highway with the property owners paying one-third on either side of abutting property. This project covered also Broad Street from intersection of Rice Street to intersection of Jefferson Street and also Cherry and State Streets. Wingfield Company of Augusta were the engineers. The Powell Paving Company of Winston-Salem, N. C., were the contractors. T.C. Hardman, chairman of the street committee, with the assistance of W.M. Thurmond, supervised the paving. Later black top street pavement was laid on several streets and concrete sidewalks were laid in which the property owners paid one-half and the city one-half. No bonds were issued for this construction. Some streets were paved by property owners, the city not participating. Among these was Homer Street from intersecting North Broad to the corner of Short Street. The extension of Homer
Street was paved by the State High-way, property owners paying for grading and
sewerage. Washington and Jefferson Streets were paved by the State High-way. Other streets have been paved by property owners paying entire cost.
During the Harmony Grove Period the chief of police was called the Marshal and the others were nightwatchmen or night police. Under the City of Commerce, the chief officer is the chief of police and the other officers are designated by number.
Street Paving Bonds confirmed Oct. 20, 1927, $31,000.00.
High School Bonds dated Feb. 1, 1936, $20,000.00.
TOWN AND CITY OFFICIALS
Mayors Treasurers Clerks Marshals
1885-86 W. A. Quillian W. C. Green W. H. Simpkins G. B. Whitehead
1887-88 R. L. Hardman T. E. Key J. F. Goode J. R. Hix
1889 W. W. Stark W. S. Edwards W. H. Simpkins N. P. Lovin
1890 T. E. Key W. A. Quillian H. H. Duncan B. A. Bray
1892 W. B. Hardman C. J. Hood H. H. Duncan R. H. Hawks
1893 W. B. Hardman D. U. Carson A. H. Thurmond S. T. Hawks
1894 W. B. Hardman D. U. Carson A. H. Thurmond R. H. Hawks
1895 A. B. Deadwyler M. T. Massey G. L. Carson R. H. Hawks
1896 J. D. Barnett T. E. Key W. D. Williford H. S. Jackson
1898 Chas. M. Walker J. T. Quillian W. D. Williford H. S. Jackson
1899-02 J. B. Hardman L. L. Davis J. N. Telford H. S. Jackson
1902-3 C. J. Hood W. B. Burns J. E. Stevens H. S. Jackson
Chief of Police
1904 T. E. Key W. S. Mize L. L. Davis G. L. Carson, Jr.
1906 P. Cooley A. P. Rice T. A. Little J. R. Little
Clerk and Treasurer
1907 C. J. Hood A. P. Rice H. S. Jackson
1908 J. M. Nix A. P. Rice B. R. Vaughn
1910 J. B. Hardman C. A. Goodin
1912 T. A. Little C. A. Goodin
1914 E. B. Anderson C. A. Goodin
1916 C. J. Hood C. A. Goodin B. R. Vaughn
1918 C. J. Hood C. A. Goodin S. A. Mize
1920 W. W. Stark C. A. Goodin H. H. Seagraves
1922 J. B. Hardman N. B. Lord C. M. Almond
1924 J. B. Hardman N. B. Lord C. M. Almond
1926 C. J. Hood N. B. Lord John W. Sailers
1928 C. J. Hood Mrs. N. B. Lord (Supplied) C. H. Nelms
1930 L. L. Davis P. B. Trawick C. H. Nelms
1932 L. L. Davis P. B. Trawick C. H. Nelms
1934 J. B. Hardman P. B. Trawick J. R. Hix
1936 J. C. Verner Carl Williamson J. R. Hix
1938 J. C. Verner Carl Williamson J. R. Hix
1940 L. L. Davis Carl Williamson C. H. Nelms
1942 H. C. Sims Carl Williamson Avery Byrd
1944 H. P. Little Carl Williamson Avery Byrd
1946 H. P. Little Carl Williamson Avery Byrd
1948 H. P. Little Jack Meaders A. D. Fitzpatrick
Acting Mayor G. 0. Castellaw
Mayor P. T. Scoggins Clyde Short A. D. Fitzpatrick
The Hood-Quillian Park was donated to the city for park purposes May 18, 1904
by C.J. Hood and J.T. Quillian. This park was on a branch with a spring at its
head just below J.B. Hardman's dairy on the north side of town. This park was
used for several years, but went out of use after the city received the gift of
the Willoughby Park, nearer town. The Willoughby Park was tendered to the city
Oct. 3, 1910 by heirs of the C.W. Hood Estate. A pavilion was built in 1913.
This park, consisting of about four acres has been improved at various times by
the erection of and by the construction of a swimming pool and electric lighting
of the grounds. This park has served well the needs of the community in public
speakings, barbecues and anniversaries.
The Hood-Quillian Park was secured by the American Legion and the V.F.W. in 1949 partly by purchase and partly by donation. They are building a splendid ground. One of the special features is the restoration of the large spring and water supply.
AGRICULTURAL BACKGROUND AND INFLUENCE OF FOUR-COUNTY FAIR
The vicinity of Harmony Grove, with the territory of Jackson, Banks, Madison, and part of Franklin Counties, was noted for its agricultural production. This surrounding country produced all kinds of farm products that are grown in this part of the State. Chief among which are cotton, corn, wheat, oats, hay, sweet and Irish potatoes, sorghum and other minor crops. In fact, for the last hundred years the agricultural products have been the chief resource of this town and community. Before the Civil War and just following, there were a number of cotton gins run by horse power, later by steam engines.
Beginning around 1880 and for more than thirty years Harmony Grove flourished as a cotton market, receiving cotton from the four counties mentioned above and paying the top prices for this commodity. Among the merchants buying cotton during this period may be mentioned C.W. Hood and Son, succeeded by Anderson & Mann, and later W.D. Mann. Power and Williford for quite a number of years was the largest buyer of cotton in this section. Others were W.T. Harber and Brother, C.D. Stark, Sheppard, Davis, and Nix and later L.L. and V.L. Davis and C.L. Tucker and many other buyers not mentioned.
The volume of cotton increased steadily from 1883 to around 1900. The largest receipts were about 23,000 bales for one season. Later, these receipts varied from time to time, ranging from 12,000 to 18,000 bales. When the boll weevil struck this section in 1921 receipts were reduced to about 7000 bales. After the dry year of 1925, the boll weevil has not been so destructive. The weevil has been more or less controlled and the crop has returned to normal, receipts varying according to the season and production.
The corn, oats, and wheat crop, while they have been usually sufficient to sustain the population, have not been to a large extent placed upon the market. With the invention and introduction of modern machinery there has been in re-cent years considerable marketing of wheat, oats and hay and this bids fair to increase.
The primitive way of sowing, reaping and threshing the wheat and oats was by the old fashioned six-fingered scythe-cradle and what was known as the "ground hog thrash" which was drawn by horses. The grain was broadcast by hand. This was a crude method but served the purpose. This was followed by the steam engine and travelling separator usually drawn by oxen or mules. The customers furnished meals for hands and feed for stock. There were usually 10 or 12 hands and four head of stock. The men slept on straw piles at night. The binders for harvesting and the steam tractor which carried the separators with self feeders and straw stackers came into use about 1895. These have been superseded by the combine
which cuts, threshes and sacks the grain in one operation.
No considerable amount of vegetables have been grown for our market. For two or three years during the boll weevil devastation, experiments were made in growing vegetables for market, such as beans, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, but with very little success. However, the surrounding territory produces sufficient vegetables and fruits for its own use and for local markets as well as a plentiful supply of cantaloupes and watermelons.
This section around Commerce is well adapted for growing apples and peaches.
Formerly, apples and peaches were only grown to a limited extent and not for
commercial market. For the past thirty years, the peach industry has been successfully carried on. C.J. Hood was the pioneer in this line. Later, W.B. Hardman, L.G. Hardman, L.J. Sharp, Clayton Colquitt, Willie Colquitt and
Colquitt Simms, Miss Annie Hawkins, Allen Tucker and B. Wilson, C.W. Hood, Jr.,
Sam Hood, L.G. Hardman, Jr., E.C. Stark and W.P. and W.N. Harden entered the
business. These are the principal ones who operate commercial orchards.
The shipments for the last twenty years have ranged from 100 to 400 cars. In some instances, these have been profitable to the producers. Usually the medium crop, from 200 to 300 cars, have been more profitable to the growers than the larger crops.
Following the period of the Civil War quite a number of Harmony Grove citizens kept flocks of sheep before the stock law went into effect, when the animals ran at large. Every farmer had his mark for the identification of his particular sheep. His mark consisted of various ways of clipping the ears, bobbing the tail or leaving the tail long. The ear marks were known as the crap, the over-bit, the under-bit and the swallow fork. After the stock law was adopted pastures were made and fenced in for the enclosure of the sheep as well as the cattle. Sheep were grown principally for their wool. They were usually sheared twice a year, about April and August.
In, the early days the shearing of the sheep was an interesting event for the boys. The flock was driven into an enclosure. In a stall was placed some plank on which the sheep were shorn. The hind legs were tied together and fastened to the logs and the shearer used the old fashion hand shears while the small boy held down the sheep's head and front feet. The wool was rolled into a hamper basket. If the skin of the sheep was clipped by accident, there was quite a scrambling and jumping. The boy had some job to hold the head and feet of the sheep. At the spring shearing the lambs were brought in and marked in accordance with the owner's mark. There are at present in this community only two or three flocks.
During the early period the wool was carded and prepared for use locally, but in late years it has been sold to buyers in Kentucky.
The first dairy, known as the Bermuda Dairy, was established in 1890 by W.L. Williamson. This dairy furnished milk to the people of Harmony Grove and shipped butter to L.W. Rogers of Atlanta. The herd consisted of 50 to 60 cows and produced butter to the amount of 300 to 500 pounds a week.
After the Williamson dairy was discontinued, J.B. Hard-man went into the dairy business with a select herd of Jersey cattle. The Sunny Crest Dairy had a wide reputation, both local and national, because of the grade and of the type of the herd. Mr. Hardman attended the annual conventions of the National Dairy
organization. This dairy is still in operation under the name of Sunny Crest Farm, and is operated by W.L. Wells.
A notable experiment, the Four County Fair, was inaugurated by the citizens of Commerce in 1911. It had for its purpose the encouragement of agricultural interest in the surrounding section. A large fair ground and a commodious building was constructed on the Hood property just below the end of Pine Street. The four counties of Jackson, Banks, Madison, and Franklin were invited to participate and to furnish agricultural and livestock exhibits and home canning products, each contesting for prizes. Carnivals, side-shows, and other attractions were provided and enjoyed especially by the young people. These occasions attracted large numbers of people, not only from these four counties, but also from other sections of the state. This was carried on from 1911 to 1915. These fairs stimulated in a good way the agricultural interest of the surrounding country but with little profit to the promoters. However all received the amount invested with a small dividend.
Among those who represented out of town cotton factors in the days of Harmony
Grove and early Commerce were the following:
Tom Vickery W. D. Beacham
Red Cohen Louis Cannon
J. B. Boyd Mr. Upshaw
C. A. Goodin Isaac Johnson
Tom Dunn H. C. Poullain
THE DROUTH OF 1925
The drouth of this year, 1925, was the most severe in the history of this section. There was ho rain from the early part of June to November the first. No corn was made except a little from very early planting and only a very small crop of cotton. The result was that the fertilizer under crops was not utilized and the wheat and oats planted in the fall made the largest yield per acre in 1926 ever produced in this section. The average wheat yield was twenty-five to forty bushels per acre on ordinary land. It was just like giving the land a year's rest. This severe drouth extended only from the northern part of South Carolina and throughout middle Georgia into Alabama. The branches and creeks were dried up and the rivers were only the size of small branches. The farmers were in desperate need for feed for the next year. Some few cars of corn were contributed by South Georgia farmers for this relief. The result of this drouth was the practical elimination of the boll weevil and the largest average cotton yield per acre for the next three years for which the farmer received a good price.
The following year, 1926, appeared the flea on the cotton which prevented its fruiting until August, September and October. This was a mild winter and most of
the cotton crop was gathered after Christmas and in the spring as late as April.
Among the first business houses was a store run by S.M. Shankle, just opposite his home on the corner of Sycamore and Cherry Streets, in which he and Dr. W.B.J. Hardman conducted a business about 1848-1850 or later. After the war Mr. Shankle built a two-story wooden building on the site of the present post office, fronting the depot. He was engaged in business at this place until his death in 1885.
C.W. Hood conducted a mercantile business just where the Blue Bell Overall Plant is located. His residence was just above the Montgomery Warehouse now occupied by the overall people.
In this house Mr. C.J. Hood was born, who in later years tore this house down and moved it to the upper end of Broad Street and rebuilt it according to the original pattern. The store, the residence and adjoining lots of land were sold to W.C. Hood after C.W. Hood had bought the Hardy Minish tract of land on the west side of the railroad. Mr. W.C. Hood lived in the home and ran the store formerly owned by C.W. Hood.
Following down State Street was the property owned by C.D. Stark and P.O. Pittman and was occupied by Frank Stansby, a harness maker, and later bought by C.D. Stark who conducted a general store until he built the present brick building. The store owned by the late Mrs. P.O. Pittman, in which Davis & Nix ran a mercantile business for several years, was the property of Mrs. E.J. Riley, as was also the dwelling in the rear.
Next was the first brick building on State Street, erected about 1886 by John H. Gunnells. Gunnells afterward sold it to B.B. Hawks and later to Dr. W.B. Hardman, it is now owned by Mrs. Wilda Poteat.
Power and Williford, in 1891, erected a large brick building on State Street on the site where the Blue Bell Overall Plant is now located and conducted a large mercantile business until the death of W. B. Power in 1904. Afterwards, it became the firm of Williford, Burns & Rice, who conducted a business until the real estate was sold to the overall people.
About 1880, W.A. and J.T. Quillian moved to Harmony Grove, built a wooden store building where the Belk-Gallant Company is now located. This wooden store building was rolled to the present site of the McConnell Ten Cent Store, owned by the late J. T. Quillian, on which site was built the present brick building. On the original site was erected the present brick building, now occupied by Belk-Gallant Co., in which the Quillian Brothers operated a business until the death of W.A. Quillian. Just below this building was a wooden structure occupied by Kimsey Smith for some years and later bought by L.J. Sharp. On Broad Street near the depot was a store house built by W.C. Hood which was occupied for sometime by W.L. Williamson and T.F. Key. Later, it was used as a sample room of the Alhambra Hotel. Next was W.W. Jordan's Furniture Store, adjoining which was a building occupied by Burgess and Allen. Next was the T.E. Key building erected by Marcus Jacobs.
In 1882, W.B.J. Hardman bought from W.C. Hood a lot 100 feet square on which is now the Hardman Hardware Co. and the Hardman Drug Store and the street between. The original Hardware and Drug Store were built in 1882 and was the first brick building in Harmony Grove except Ike Wilbanks' small brick store adjoining, erected in 1879. From that point to Central Avenue were three wooden store buildings owned by J.I. Pittman and C.W. Hood, one of which was for a number of years the Harmony Grove Post Office. The others were occupied by various parties in the mercantile business, among them A.H. Boone Furniture and Alexander and Teasley. The postmaster in 1880 was W.J. Goss who had served in the later seventies. He was succeeded by Taylor Gordon who continued the post office in this same building until the brick drug store was built by L.C. Hardman and the post office was moved to this new building.
Farther down. Broad Street was located the two story wooden building of W.T. Harber & Brother. Adjoining the Harber building was the Jesse P. Wood property, in the triangle of which two or three wooden buildings were located. The town well was located at the angle of Broad and State Streets. This well was used more or less by the public for several years, possibly twenty-five.
The only other store building at this time was the two-story wooden building of C.W. Hood. This building was used by him from the time of the Civil War until about 1884. He built the brick building where the Andrew Jackson Hotel has been erected. Just in front of this, across the road, was a large hickory tree and near the railroad right of way was a well that was used by the public, as the customers came from the country to trade.
There were no other stores, or public buildings, on the west side of the railroad except Eckles' Wagon and Buggy Shop near the Northeastern Bank location.
The town was incorporated in 1884. The side walks along Main Street, now Broad, and Carnesville Street, now State, were laid with plank floors in front of the stores until the brick store buildings began to be erected.
Soon after the incorporation of the town there opened an era of brick store buildings. The first store was Ike Wilbanks' in 1879, then the Hardman Store and the L.C. Hardman Drug Store and the Post Office adjoining in 1882. The C.W. Hood building where the Andrew Jackson Hotel site is, and the Harber building where the Rogers Store is, were erected in 1884. The building known as the Key Building was erected by Marcus Jacob in 1885. The Burgess and Allen buildings adjoining it on the south side were also built in 1885. Marcus Jacob who erected the Key Building was a German Jew who later returned to Germany where he died in the late World War at the age of 87.
Between the years of 1885 and 1890, we find constructed the following buildings on the triangular corner of Jesse P. Wood, on North Broad and State Streets: On the opposite side of State Street was the John Gunnells' building, later known as the B. B. Hawks' building, now owned by the W.B. Hardman Estate and occupied by Belk-Gallant Company.
Beginning with the next decade, 1890 to 1900, there were erected quite a number of brick or rock buildings. Among them was Power and Willif ord's large store, now the Blue Bell Overall Plant. Next, the Hood block of brick buildings on North Elm Street, the main building being two-storied was the first home of the Northeastern Bank Co., which company was established in 1892. Before this, the business men did their banking mostly with Jim White of Athens.
Later, the following buildings were erected on the north side of State Street: C.D. Stark, P.O. Pittman and Dr. E.F. Adair, adjoining the B.B. Hawks' building. Adjoining the Adair building was the Quillian Bros., the L.J. Sharp and J.N. Wood buildings, which fronted on North Broad.
About the same time, there was a block of buildings on North Elm adjoining the Central Hotel, known as the Jack Bennett buildings, extending to where the Truitt Hardware was later built.
After the Northeastern Bank Company operated about three or four years, the new and present building was erected on its new location. This same building is occupied by them at the present time. At the same time, Mr. C.J. Hood built a block of buildings adjoining the bank building on the north, including the one occupied by the Williamson Pressing Club. The Central Hotel was erected by R.A. Eckles about 1886 and was later acquired by L.G. Hardman and was remodeled and enlarged. Dr. L.G. Hardman built the Hardman Sanitorium in 1899-1900.
The vacant lot on the west side of the railroad extending from T.A. Little's livery stable, a rock building erected in 1893 and which is now the Roxy Theater, to. Central Avenue was bought and owned by L.G. Hardman and E.P. Eberhart which they divided, each one taking every alternate lot. The first lot was bought by the Harmony Grove Cotton Mill, on which they erected, in 1894, a cotton warehouse and mill office. On the next adjoining lot, Eberhart built a livery stable operated by the Johnson Brothers, Boyd Burrus and others. This building is now owned by J.O. and Claud Montgomery, brothers, and occupied at present by the Little Furniture Company. Mr. Eberhart was the uncle of the Montgomery boys.
Adjoining this was a building erected by J.R.N. Baugh in which he operated a smith-shop and built wagons; later it was occupied by Carson & Kemp and now owned by Montgomery Brothers. The next adjoining building was erected by J.J. Sheppard, in which he ran a furniture business and later sold to M.T. Sanders, who enlarged the building and now operates an extensive furniture business. Adjoining this is the building of Montgomery Brothers, now occupied by a ten cent store and formerly by G. T. Jones' dry goods business. Adjoining this on the corner of Central Avenue and Elm Street was a building known as the Post Office and Telephone Exchange. This was the Post Office site until moved to its present government building.
In 1895, the two buildings on the corner of North Broad and Central Avenue were known as the C.W. Hood and W.B. Hardman buildings, constructed with two stories. For a number of years this corner Hood building was the location of the L.G. Hardman & Brothers Drug Store. The first Commerce Telephone Central was located in the rear of the building until moved across the street to the present location. The Hardman building was occupied by the Hardman Merchandise Company until sold to J.B. Hardman, who operated a hardware business until he entered the insurance business. This building is now owned by Harry Jay. The C.E. Pittman buildings, between the Jay and Harber building, were erected in 1899 and were formerly wooden store buildings and owned by J.I. Pittman.
The other brick stores and buildings in Commerce were erected at various times after the name Harmony Grove was changed to Commerce.
INDUSTRIES THE HARMONY GROVE MILLS
Harmony Grove Mills, a Commerce manufacturing industry, incorporated under the laws of Jackson County and locally owned and operated, has completed fifty-five years of successful operation.
The local plant, which has contributed much to the advancement of the community and whose payrolls have aided materially in the development of the city and county, was organized in 1893.
The corporation was chartered with a capital stock of $50,-ooo.oo which was subscribed by local capital and a majority of this stock is now held by citizens of Jackson county. The amount of capital stock has been increased from time to time and now amounts to $300,000.00, seventy-five per cent of which is held by families of the original 45 stockholders.
Three of the stockholders who bought some of the original stock are living and have held their stock. They are Mrs. E.C. (Henry) Hardman, and Misses Genie and Alice Sheppard.
W.T. Thurmond was foreman of the construction job when the original plant was built. The building occupied 15,000 square feet of floor space while the present structure contains more than 130,000 square feet.
Only 6o forty-inch looms were placed in the original plant. The capacity of the mill was increased in 1902; again in 1923; again in 1941 and the last time in 1947 and 1948. The present plant now operates 586 looms.
Originally fired with wood, the plant is now operated by electricity and the mill has the very latest machinery.
There were only 28 original employees of the corporation, but today 513 employees are on the payroll who are making their homes in this section. Several of the original employees are still living.
The first officers of the corporation were G.W.D. Harber, President; W.B.J. Hardman, Vice-President; C.J. Hood, Secretary-Treasurer. The other original directors were L.G. Hardman, T.E. Key, C.W. Hood, C.D. Stark, W.T. Harber, W.B. Hardman and W.T. Thurmond.
Mr. G.W.D. Harber served as President from 1893 to 1899 and was succeeded by L.G. Hardman who served as President of the company until his death in 1937.
SOME FACTS AND STATISTICS RELATING TO THE HARMONY GROVE MILLS, INC.
The company was organized April 3, 1893. A charter was granted in June of the
same year. The real estate property was purchased from Mrs. M.S. Webb and Dr.
L.G. Hardman in May, 1893, at $75.00 to $100.00 per acre. Dr. E.F. Adair named
the mill "Harmony Grove." The first bale of cotton was bought at 6 15/16 cents on May 25, 1894 by T.E. Key, buyer. First dividend of 6 per cent was paid June 10, 1895.
G. W. D. Harber Served 5 years
L. G. Hardman Served 39 years
L. G. Hardman, Jr. Served 11 years
W. B. J. Hardman Served 5 years
W. W. Stark Served 35 years
L. G. Hardman, Jr. Served 3 years
J. B. Hardman Served 2 years
T. C. Hardman Served 10 years
Secretaries and Treasurers:
C. J. Hood Served 2 years
L. G. Hardman Served 3 years
W. B. Hardman Served 20 years
C. J. Hood Served 25 years
C. W. Hood, Jr. Served 5 years
G. W. D. Harber T. C. Hardman
L. G. Hardman, Sr. W. D. Sheppard
T. E. Key E. B. Anderson
C. W. Hood, Sr. John D. Barnett
C. D. Stark J. B. Hardman
C. J. Hood W. Y. Harber
W. T. Harber C. W. Hood, Jr.
W. B. Hardman L. G. Hardman, Jr.
W. T. Thurmond F. M. Hubbard
W. B. J. Hardman W. B. Rice
P. O. Pittman C. M. Scoggins
A. P. Rice Hardman Jones
W. W. Stark Johnston McCorkle
W. B. Iler
J. W. Black
M. R. Crystal
C. M. Sears
J. W. Black
J. R. Donaldson
J. A. Asbelle
Some comparison in the cost of material, machinery, cotton and wages between the beginning of the operation of the mills in 1894 and 1948.
Cost of brick per M $5.75 $26.50
Cost of lumber M ft. 8.00 80.00
Cost of nails per keg 1.52 8.75
Cost of brick layers per hour .20 2.25
Operated by steam Cost of wood per cord 1.10
Operated by electricity Cost of current per M. KW $9.00
Cost of wages per Mo. 1200.00 100,000.00
Cost of wages per annum 15000.00 1,250,000.00
Cotton per bale $30.00 165.00
720 bales used at cost of 21000.00
18000 bales used at cost of 3,000,000.00
Annual sales about 8,000,000 lbs. Value $6,000,000.00
7 cards 93 cards
40 looms 586 looms
1500 spindles 18000 spindles
Total Cost of Machinery
New machinery installed in last 12 years $850,000.00
Floor space mill 15,000 sq. ft. 130,000 sq. ft.
Warehouse 10,000 sq. ft. 70,000 sq. ft.
Mill began night operation in 1898. Contracted and furnished street and residential lights to the city for eleven years--1906 to 1917. Bought first auto truck in 1918. Built new office in 1923 and new warehouse in 1947 and 1948. All the houses of the mill village have been brick under-pinned, remodeled andpainted at an expenditure of $100,000.00.
The New Warehouse
One new addition in 1947 and 1948 was the building of the new warehouse on the railroad mill siding with capacity for 6,000 bales of cotton and a floor space of 52,000 square feet at a cost of over $100,000.00. It is equipped in every detail on the most modern plan and accessible to railroad cars, trucks, and wagons. This enables the mills to buy local cotton from the producers which has been a mutual advantage to both the farmer and the company.
This splendid structure adds to the appearance and symmetry of the mills plant and completes a well rounded manufacturing unit.
The Harmony Grove Mills was one of the first industries in Harmony Grove and is now the largest in the city of Commerce and pays approximately 12 per cent of the total city tax.
COMMERCE MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC.
The overall industry for Commerce, Ga., was started in 1917 by Fred E. Durst of Winder. He came to Commerce at that time to start the first factory in the T.C. Hardman building which is now occupied by A.D. Bolton Chevrolet Company. At this time the factory employed 35 people and Mr. Durst had to get labor from as far away as North Carolina due to the labor shortage here at that time.
Soon after its opening, The Commerce Overall Company adopted as its brand for its leading overall "Gander Brand" and soon Commerce became noted all over the South as the home of Gander Brand Overalls.
This plant grew quite steadily and in spite of the depression of 1921 grew and prospered, giving employment to a growing number of people. Around 1925, Mr. Durst was joined in the business by Mr. A.D. Harris and they operated the National Overall Company and in 1927 they combined and the industry became Commerce National Manufacturing Corn-pang. At this time the company grew until it was occupying four buildings in the town.
In 1928 the entire company was sold to the Globe Superior Corporation, a company with headquarters in Abington, Ill. This company soon built a new factory in Commerce, one of the most modern of its time. This firm was headed by three of the leaders in the overall industry, namely Mr. B.D. Adams as President; Mr. Lloyd Dosser as Vice-President; and Mr. C.H. Synder as General Manager. The local plant was man-aged by Mr. H.F. Mosher and Mr. Durst was Southern Sales Manager.
In 1934 the Globe Superior Corporation sold to Blue Bell and the industry became known as the Blue Bell Manufacturing Company. In 1936 Mr. Durst left the firm and at the insistence of the local people began to make plans to start an-other sewing industry for Commerce.
In 1937 a building was started and a new industry was born and was called Commerce Manufacturing Company. At its head was C.W. Hood, Jr., as President; F.E. Durst, as Vice-President and General Manager; W.D. Sheppard, as Vice-President and H.F. Bray as Secretary. C.M. Scoggings was Treasurer and the following, other than the officers, were directors: C.J. Hood, W.B. Rice, J.M. Carlton and J.B. Hardman.
The plant started operations on January 3, 1938 with 117 people on its payroll and started a long hard road to its present size and position. It was very fortunate to get the services of Mr. C. W. Lomax, the dean of overall sales people, to head its sales organization and a large part of its growth is due to his efforts. The company has never been idle a day since its inception due to a lack of business.
On February 9, 1943, Mr. F. any passed to his son, F. Edward Durst, Jr., who is now Vice-President and General Manager. It has grown from the 117 people who started to 400 today. Forty-three of the original 117 are still with the company. It has grown from a sales volume of $135,000.00 per year to over $4,000,000.00.
The garment industry, from its meager beginning in 1917 by Fred E. Durst, has grown until it .is a very vital factor in the economic life of Commerce and the area around it. Today its two plants employ over 800 people and have contributed greatly toward making Commerce the growing, thriving place that it is.
BLUE BELL, INC., COMMERCE PLANT
In 1936 Blue Bell purchased The Globe Superior Corporation. At the time of this merger, these two companies, Blue Bell and Globe Corporation, were of about equal importance in the work clothing business and were two of the largest in size in the United States.
Immediately after Blue Bell made this purchase, the Commerce Plant of Blue Bell was overhauled, putting in a new system of manufacturing and a considerable amount of new equipment was installed.
The chief type of clothing produced in the Commerce Plant has always been blanket-lined coats and cossack jackets. At various times since 19361 both a night and day shift have been operated in this plant, but for the past several years only one shift has been in operation.
An average of 430 people are used regularly to carry on operations in this
plant. The annual output is 6,000,000 garments or 24,000 per day.
A branch sewing factory is located at Comer which employs 220 people, making a total of 650 people operating the plant. All of the cutting and shipping is done from the Commerce Plant. The shipping to and from Commerce to market is one-half by Railroad and one-half by trucks owned by the company.
This large plant has been of mutual financial interest both to the city of Commerce and community and to its own corporation. This enterprise is recognized as a valuable asset to our industrial economy.
FROZEN FOOD LOCKERS, INC.
Frozen Food Lockers, Inc., was organized in February, 1943, by 27 local individuals as a community service. Through the Federal Government they were able to secure a priority, construction starting' in July and operation beginning February , 1944.
This plant has 500 lockers and is serving from 500 to 750 families each year, giving them better food and meat to eat and also helping them in the preserving of the products grown in their own gardens and on the farm.
This plant has been handling on an average of 200,000 pounds of meat, fruits, and vegetables per year. It is incorporated for $25,000.00 and is recognized as one of the outstanding plants in the State.
The present officers are L.G. Hardman, Jr., President; Dr. A.A. Rogers, Vice-President; and W.M. Booth, Secretary-Treasurer.
COMMERCE MILLING COMPANY
In the spring of 1883, H.W. Peeler and W.P. Lovin set a saw-mill just where the Roller Mill is now located. They sawed timber from the W.B.J. Hardman and S.M. Shankle land that was blown down by the northeast storm on the second Sunday in September, 1882. In the fall, Peeler and Lovin erected a cotton gin at the same place and ran it some ten years and later put in a grist mill. After Mr. Peeler's death, there was incorporated the Farmers Mill and Gin Company, which was operated by different ones for a few years. About the years 1902 to 1904, L.G. Hardman bought the property and organized a stock company known as the Hardman Roller Mill. There was installed a roller mill outfit and corn mill. This mill was operated by various ones as Superintendent and lessee for some twelve years, when it was liquidated and the property sold to A.D. Harris, who after operating it for a few years sold it to M.A. and T.T. Benton in 1919. This enterprise was then organized into a stock company known as the Commerce Milling Company. Later grain and feed crushing machinery was added. This plant has been successfully operated and is an asset to the city and community and a help and encouragement to the farmers of the surrounding country. Mr. T.T. Benton is the President of the company and the operator of the plant. This mill has a 60-bbl. daily capacity.
HARDMAN OIL MILL - SOUTHERN COTTON OIL COMPANY
This oil mill and ginnery, situated on South Elm Street in South Commerce, was organized and built by W.W. Stark, W.T. and G.W.D. Harber in 1897. After operating two years the property was sold to the Hardmans and became known as the Hardman Oil Mill. After two years operation this company sold and deeded the property to the Southern Cotton Oil Company, the present owners. During the period of the Hardman Oil Mill Company the managers were W.M. Thurmond and W.S. Mize. The Southern Cotton Oil Company employed W. D. Sheppard as manager until 1910. Mr. T.C. Robinson of Pickens, South Carolina, was manager from 1910 to 1915. He was succeeded by W.R. Gresham, who was manager until 1923. In 1923, W.L. Smith took charge of the plant and has remained in this position since. For some years he has operated under a lease. The oil mill feature was discontinued in the year 1923. Since then the ginnery has been renewed and brought up to modern equipment. The annual output averages about 2,500 to 3,000 bales. During all this period most of the seed and products have been handled by the plant.
When the oil mill feature of this plant, which had a daily capacity of 35 tons, was discontinued in 1923, the Southern Cotton Oil Company centralized their small plants and the seed products of this plant are now sent to Athens for crushing.
This industry has drawn a large patronage from quite a distance and has added trade to the City of Commerce.
THE FARMERS OIL MILL
This industry was founded and organized about the year 1902 and the plant was located just off Homer Street on a large lot now owned by W.N. Harden. The stockholders were made up of farmers and some men in town. The Southern Railway was deeded land for a siding November 2, 1903 and the sidetrack was constructed which was to be perpetual. This plant operated a ginnery in connection with the oil mill. The first manager was W.S. Mize. It was operated for a few years, then leased to H.O. Williford, who operated it for some time under the management of W.D. Sheppard. Mr. Williford was the first President of the company. He later leased, or rented, this property to W.D. Sheppard who continued with the ginnery and seed buying after the oil mill part had been practically destroyed by fire. Mr. Ellis Gober was for sometime the manager of this part of the business. Mr. Gober later went to Macon where he was a successful business man. This Oil Mill property was bought by A. D. Harris and dismantled and passed into the hands of Mrs. I.H. Harris. Finally it was
liquidated. W.N. Harden bought the real estate and the remaining buildings in 1933. On this plant he developed a manufacturing plant and established a whole-sale oil business.
A.C. CARSON PLANING MILL AND GRIST MILL
In 1906, A.C. Carson and Emmet Kemp opened a wood and blacksmith shop on South Elm Street near Sanders Furniture Store in the building formerly occupied by J.R.N. Baugh, a wagon maker, continuing here about six years. Mr. Carson built a planing and grist mill on Atlanta Avenue in 1912, which served the trade until his death in 1937. This combined mill was patronized by customers from a large territory. Since his death the plant has been continued by his son, O.H. Carson, as manager.
Near the northern incorporate limits on the Southern Railway is T.D. Reidling's large and modern ginnery which has been in operation some five years and was first established by Harold Nix. Mr. Reidling has enlarged the plant and does an extensive business in seed and seed products as well as cotton ginning. Near by is also a large feed crushing mill that has a splendid patronage.
In the same vicinity Clyde Langford has a plant for manufacture of tombstones and monuments of every description, both of granite and of marble. Mr. Langford has had more than twenty years experience and has operated his plant in Commerce for some five years. He is constantly enlarging his facilities and puts out an article of splendid quality.
These plants are a good asset and add much to the City's industrial life.
MOSE GORDON LUMBER COMPANY
Mr. Gordon came to Commerce in 1928 and established a lumber business on the Southern Railroad, two miles north of the city. His business has grown to an extensive plant. His mills saw timber over a wide area and he purchases lumber from over a large section of Northeast Georgia. He has some 30 or 40 employees and ships several million feet of lumber annually. This industry contributes much to the growth and development of this community.
COMMERCE FERTILIZER COMPANY
This corporation was organized in 1911 by L.L. Davis, A.P. Rice, George Rice, W.B. Burns, and P.W. Sheppard. Affiliated with The Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corporation of Richmond, Va., on a 50-50 basis, L.L. Davis was elected President; W.B. Burns, Secretary-Treasurer.
The original capital stock was $15,000.00. At the annual stockholders meeting in 1947 it was voted to increase the capital stock to $50,000.00. C.M. Scoggins came into the company in 1917 as bookkeeper and later buying a part of the stock and becoming Secretary-Treasurer, which place he filled until his death in February, 1946.
The plant is located on the Southern Railroad a short distance north of the city limits. This corporation has served the vicinity and surrounding sections in a large way for the last thirty-seven years. They have weathered two or three depressions and have had a steady and continual growth. Their present annual production is more than $150,000.00.
Mr. L.L. Davis, the President, exercises full rights as manager and is owner of a large majority of the local stock. Mrs. T.A. Minish is the present efficient Secretary-Treasurer. Commerce is proud of this member of our valuable industries.
THE SITICIDE COMPANY
In 1890 after several years of careful study and experimenting, Dr. Lemuel J. Sharp, a well known practicing physician, of Commerce, Georgia, perfected a formula for curing Scabies (Parasitic Itch), and put it on the market under the name PARASITICIDE.
The cure was quick acting and found immediate favor with sufferers from the disease so often spoken of as the seven-year-itch. The medicine sold well and the business of making it prospered.
At first Parasiticide was sold only locally, but after growth began, Dr. Sharp put his brother, Mr. B.B. Sharp, on the road as travelling salesman in Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee.
In about 1924 the name was changed to Siticide and a contract was made with Harvey-Massengale Advertising Agency for advertising this product in the Southern States.
In 1927 after the death of Dr. Sharp, Mrs. Sharp sold stock in the business to Drs. O.E. Shankle and W.D. Sheppard thus organizing a stock company.
For a number of years they used the Sharp building where Dr. Sharp had his office, but as business increased they felt the need of a larger place and in 1936 built the brick structure, which they continue to use. The Company now has seven stockholders. Dr. J.C. Verner is President and Mrs. L.J. Sharp, Secretary and Treasurer of the Company.
At present this product is being advertised and sold in the Mid-West and Eastern states.
The gross sales of the company have more than trebled since 1936.
W.N. HARDEN CUSHION FACTORY
On the property of the old Farmers Oil Mill, W.N. Harden constructed a plant to manufacture cushions for baskets, boxes and other containers. He also established oil storage tanks and warehouses for the wholesale trade and is now whole-sale distributor for the Sinclair Oil and Refining Company. The cushion factory was opened May, 1934, and continued until February, 1948. This plant employed an average of 25 operatives, all Negroes. The products were sold generally over the Southeastern states in the fruit and vegetable areas. Since the discontinuance of the cushion manufacture, the buildings are used for his enlarged oil business. This small industry has added to the financial assets of the city and has advertised this town in the areas where the products have been shipped.
W.T. STAPLER - HARMONY GROVE MANUFACTURER OF PLOW-STOCKS AND CULTIVATORS
Mr. W.T. Stapler was a pioneer in the invention of new types of plow stocks and cultivators at the time when old home-made stocks were made in the shops. He began making the iron brace foot stock at Hood's Mill in the 1870's and later at Harmony Grove about the time Haiman built the bent foot stock that bore his name. The Stapler stock was manufactured in a small way in a shop near the railroad in front of C.W. Hood's store, then later in a shop on Broad Street near the Methodist Church.
During this period, Mr. Stapler made connection with Bailey Foundry & Machine Works at Athens, Ga., for whom he was salesman for a short time. Later he became salesman for B.F. Avery & Son, Louisville, Ky., through whom he got several patents on his plow stock and cultivators. He retained his connection with this firm until his death. Mr. Stapler at one time made three-foot cultivators on a rather large scale in a shop run by T. Cole. Often he would ship a thousand or more in a season to his South Carolina customers, in addition to his local sales.
A history of Harmony Grove is not complete without some notice of this man who was not only a genius in inventions and experiments but one who had a store of wit and original stories: He was an adept at telling jokes and entertaining his listeners. Mr. Stapler was a landmark in the town of Harmony Grove. Though himself of limited education, he was interested in the promotion of schools. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for awhile, a pillar in the Presbyterian Church and all phases of civic life. He was indeed a unique character.
THE BARBER INDUSTRY
The barber trade in villages and small towns is of recent date. From seventy-five to a hundred years ago the housewife was the chief dependent to shingle husband's hair and cut the children's hair, sometimes clipping their ears. The man of the house did his own shaving with a Wade and Butcher or a George Wostenholm old time razor.
In Harmony Grove in the 1880's, it was customary on Saturday night to go to L.G. Hardman's old drug store on the corner near the depot and cut each other's hair. J.D. Barnett was the chief artist in hair cutting. As the town grew larger a Negro, or two, set up a white barber shop. In fact in the South all the white barber shops in the 1870'S to 1890 were operated by Negro barbers in cities like Athens, Macon, and Atlanta, as well as the smaller towns.
In Harmony Grove the first white man to open a barber shop was a man named Farrabee, a relative of W.C. Farrabee. Then came Young Davis of Athens and possibly some others before W.D. Pierce who was here for many years. Pierce was the first to open a first class shop with several chairs. His shop was located on North Elm Street. Associated with him were H.C. Sims, A.F. Fillingim, W.C. Dowdy and others who later opened shops for themselves. H.C. Sims and Dowdy opened in the Harber building on North Broad Street which was later operated by Sims and Duckett.
About the same time, or later, Curt Massey opened a shop in the Pittman building on South Broad Street, now operated by Elmer Minish. A.F. Fillingim ran a shop for a while near Sander's Furniture Store as also did Howard Saxon.
In South Commerce, the pioneer barber shop was P.Y. Waters', followed by quite a number of others, among whom were Fonny Gibson, Henry Talbert, Bud Strickland and other good barbers who made a livelihood at this trade.
The barber shop became years ago a place for the discussion of politics, the weather, town-talk, dogs and hunting, as well as the gossip and scandals of the time. In fact, this was the place of news report before the coming of the radio. How-ever, the barber shop has lost its prestige since the advent of mi-ladies-beauty shops where all shades and types of news are freely dispensed.
These trades, or institutions, have become a necessity to our city and are
RAILROADS AND HIGHWAYS
Before the Civil War there were very few railroads in Georgia. Of these, the most important ones were: The Georgia Railroad, from Augusta to Atlanta, with its branch from Union Point to Athens; The Central, from Atlanta through Griffin, Barnesville, Forsyth and Macon to Savannah; The State Road, known as the W&A, from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn. There were other unimportant short lines.
About the year 1870, there was projected an extension of the Richmond and Danville Railroad" from Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta known as the Charlotte Division of the Richmond and Danville Railroad. The R&D Railroad was in operation before and during the war from Danville to Richmond, and to Charlotte during or just immediately following the war.
The first survey of the road from Charlotte to Atlanta was via Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina, Carnesville, Jefferson and Lawrenceville, Georgia, following generally the county sites. This projected road was known as the Airline Railroad. The survey ran just north of Harmony Grove and followed generally the old Carnesville and Jefferson Road, crossing Borders Creek and the Oconee River near S.W. Jack-son's grist mill. This mill for a long time bore the large sign "The Airline Mills." However, before the airline route was finally located, Gainesville and Toccoa came into the picture and offered inducements by way of taking stock and other financial considerations. The railroad was finally located along the line now known as the Southern Railway. Along the line of Richmond and Danville Railroad, towns sprang up between Gainesville and Atlanta. The line between Charlotte and Atlanta, constructed in 1871, was known under the various names, the Charlotte Division of the R&D, the Airline, and the Piedmont Airline.
Soon after this road was in operation, it was agitated that a connecting link between the Georgia Railroad at Athens and the Airline be established at some convenient point. It was first planned to connect at Gainesville by way of Jefferson. However, the location was contingent upon subscription for stock and of the securing of a right of way. Athens people had subscribed $2001000.00 and were asking $50,000.00 subscription from Jefferson or Harmony Grove. Jefferson failed to make the guarantee. C.W. Hood and W.B.J. Hardman guaranteed the $50,000.00 worth of stock for Harmony Grove, they taking the bulk of the stock. Some stock was taken by other citizens. So the Northeastern Railroad was routed by Harmony Grove and connected with the Airline at a point known as Lula. Jefferson, had to wait until the Seaboard was constructed from Gainesville to Athens by Jefferson which was known as the Gainesville Midland.
The town Lula was named for the daughter of R.L. Moss of Athens who, with John W. Nicholson, were prime movers in this enterprise. The two first engines (wood burners) on this road were named "The R.L. Moss" and "The John W. Nicholson."
After the Civil War, in order to stimulate railroad building, the State Legislature authorized the issuing of state bonds to match private subscriptions in the building of railroads in Georgia, the mileage to be not less than forty. The State of Georgia furnished bonds to the amount of $300,000.00 with first mortgage title to build the Northeastern Railroad. It was discovered when the survey was made from Athens to Lula that the distance was only 39 miles. Because of this, the road was extended one mile up, to Belton. Using the Airline track this distance, trains were run to Belton as long as the State held the title. The turntable for reversing the engine was at Lula.
The Northeastern was begun in 1875 and completed in 1876. The construction began at Lula and proceeded south. The road grading was done largely by convict labor. The engineering was done by Joel Hurt of Atlanta, the young engineer who afterwards became a well known promoter of Atlanta. The first train came into Harmony Grove in June, 1876. This was a construction train. The regular schedule from Lula to Athens was not completed until the fall of that year. Among the stock holders were Center and Reeves of Athens. The town of Center was named for the head of this fern. The town of Nicholson was named for the Nicholson family of Athens.
The location of the depot in Harmony Grove raised some questions. Some favored a site near the Harmony Grove Cotton Mill, but it was finally decided by C.W. Hood, donating about an acre of land at the present site, including Spencer Park.
Mr. R.S. Chaney was the first depot agent and "cow-coroner" of this road. This was before the Georgia Stock Law and all cattle and stock ran at large. Quite often a cow, hog or other animal was run over and killed by the train. It was the business of the "cow-coroner" to try to settle the damages with the owner.
The Northeastern Railroad cost around $600,000.00. It never paid any dividends. Finally, after operating for some fifteen years, and being unable to liquidate the bonds, it was taken over by the state about 1891. It was then leased for a year or two to Richardson & Company of Atlanta, who was backed by W.S. Witham, the banker. This company failing to meet the rental, the road was run by the state for several years with Rufus Reeves of Athens as Receiver and Mr. Dooley as Superintendent, after which the road was put on the block at the upset price of $300,000.00, but failed to receive a bid. In the meantime, the Southern Railway Company had been organized and had absorbed the Richmond & Danville Road, known as the Piedmont Airline. At the same time, the Seaboard had been built through Athens to Atlanta and became a strong competitor of the Southern. In 1895, the Northeastern was again put up for sale and bought by the Southern Railway for $300,000.00, the amount of the bonds endorsed by the state.
The railroad was a large factor in the growth and development of the town. Harmony Grove became one of the leading distributing centers of Northeast Georgia. It was the means of building up trade from the surrounding counties and its freight receipts in time exceeded those of any other town of the same size on the Southern Railway.
When the first train came into Harmony Grove, it was a great sight for the young folks and the older ones, too. It pulled in from Lula at about 10:00 A.M. and stopped in front of the school building located on what is now the site of the grammar school building. One little fellow, of about eight years, suddenly jumped from his seat, ran out of the door exclaiming, "Yander she comes, boys, a new engine!" All the other little fellows followed. It was sometime before the teacher could restore order. For a good many years the people coming in from the surrounding country were jittery about the railroad train. Grown-ups had been known to run into the front yards and shut the gate. Those driving teams would wait for hours at a safe distance for the train to pass to keep from frightening their horses and mules.
For a number of years, the cotton to Athens was hauled on flat cars exposed to the sparks from the old wood burner engine. Buckets of water had to be supplied to extinguish the sparks. Anyone could have a free ride to Athens on these flat cars by helping to keep the cotton from catching fire. Many youngsters availed themselves of this opportunity. Stock-holders day was a great time in the fall of the year when all the stockholders' families had a free ride to Athens and back.
The first engineer was Jim Cochran whose daughter, Genie, married W.S. Witham, of Atlanta. The next was Jim Galloway who had for years been engineer on the Athens branch of the Georgia Road. He was followed by his son, Fox Galloway, a rather fast and reckless driver. He was succeeded by Tom Moore who served for the longest time and was much loved for his careful and safe handling of his engine. Bob Lemon was among the early engineers that pulled the freight. Among the conductors were Jeff McClesky, Hope Hale, and E.C. Cox, who served until his death and was followed by his son, Arthur Cox, Dan Martin, and Allen Smith. The latter two are now on the main line. Perhaps the best known of the conductors was the elder Captain Cox who, before the Civil War, as a young man, was conductor on the Central of Georgia from Atlanta to Macon. He told me he then wore a beaver hat and a Prince Albert coat which gave the conductor a very distinguished appearance.
The "Cow-Coroner" for the Northeastern had some unique experiences. On one occasion, Mr. Cheney, the Cow-Coroner, was called to a wreck near Gillsville where a south bound train had been wrecked by running over a little bull yearling. Two or three car loads of flour and other merchandise had been
overturned down a large fill, scattering the flour and other goods broadcast. Mr. Cheney, approaching the owner, inquired how much damage he wanted for the killing of the animal. The man, looking up and down the wreckage for a few minutes, finally replied, "I am willing to strike off even if you are. I think my bull got the best of it."
On another occasion, W.C. Farrabee, who lived a mile south of the depot, had a brood sow with pigs. In crossing the railroad, she was struck by the engine of the north bound train and lifted bodily to the top of the cow-catcher. She had a free ride to the depot without injury. Mr. Farrabee, missing his swine, walked to town and drove her back home to her pigs, none the worse for her free ride.(Believe it or not!).
Some four or five years after the Northeastern Railroad was built, there was a survey made to construct a road from Augusta to Chattanooga. This project was for the purpose of the development of northeast Georgia and for a direct line from Augusta to the West. Promoters of the road came to Harmony Grove and solicited funds for this survey and for stock in this company. The survey was made and stakes set. The citizens of Harmony Grove thought this line would soon be built. In fact some 20 miles were graded from Augusta as far as Appling, Columbia County. The route lay through Washington, Wilkes County, Sandy Cross of Oglethorpe County, entering Madison County at a point where Corner is now located, to Danielsville, on to Harmony Grove, along about the present Danielsville Highway, entering Harmony Grove where the cotton mill is now located. The route from Harmony Grove was in a direct line to Gainesville, thence to Dawsonville, Ellijay, Chatsworth, Ringgold and Chattanooga. After some expenditure and grading on the lower end of the route the project was abandoned.
The stakes of the Augusta to Chattanooga survey passed through the back yard of the W.B.J. Hardman's residence. Being a small boy at that time, I was troubled about being disturbed and awakened by the trains passing through at night. In my dreams, I could hear them running down the Madison County Road.
In later years, there was a plan to build an electric railway from Anderson, S.C., to Atlanta known as the Anderson-Atlanta Electric Railway. Short electric lines had become popular in South Carolina and it was considered a good investment to construct an electric railway from this section direct to Atlanta so that people could go to Atlanta, have time for business and return the same day. This line was routed from Anderson, Lavonia, Carnesville, Commerce, Jefferson, Lawrenceville and Decatur. Quite a sum was raised in Commerce and Jefferson to make the survey through Jackson County. After the development of the automobile, trucks and busses, these electric lines were abandoned.
This project was launched in January, 1916. A meeting of the representatives of the towns along the route met in Anderson, S.C., March 11, 1916. The surveying crew reached Jefferson May 18, 1916. After some effort to deflect the route, the statement was made on November and in the Jackson Herald that the road would be built. A banquet was held at Commerce January, 1917, for further planning. The Atlanta and Railway Company was formally organized April 17, 1917 with J.L. Murphy as President and Mark Ballinger, Secretary.
This enterprise was soon abandoned for the reasons given above together with the entrance of the United States into World War I.
HIGHWAYS TO AND FROM COMMERCE
1. Paved Highway in Southwest course to Jefferson, direct route to Atlanta,
connecting with Gainesville and Athens Highway at Jefferson, the Atlanta and
Athens Highway at Winder, also with the Hoschton and Gainesville Highway at Winder.
2. Paved Highway in Northwest course to Maysville, connecting with the
Gainesville-Toccoa Highway three miles south of Lula.
3. Paved Highway in North course to Homer and connecting with
Gainesville-Toccoa Highway at Cornelia.
4. Paved Highway in Northeast course to Carnesville, leaving the Homer
Highway two miles out of town bearing to the right, connecting with Royston and
Toccoa Highway at Lavonia.
5. Paved Highway in Southeast course to Ila, Danielsville, and Corner,
connecting with Ila and Athens Highway at Ila, with the Athens and Royston
Highway at Danielsville and with Athens and Elberton Highway at Comer.
6. Paved Highway in South course to Athens, connecting with all the Highways
entering that city.
7. In addition to these main arteries we have the lower Carnesville Road
leading east and crossing the Hargrove Creek, which gives access to the city for
the people of the lower part of Banks and Franklin counties.
8. The Water Works or Hood's Mill Road in a slightly Southwest course which
gives an outlet to the people between the Jefferson and Athens Highways.
The main Highways were paved in the following order:
To Jefferson Route 15
To Homer Route 15 441
To Danielsville Route 98
To Carnesville Route 59
To Athens Route 24 441
To Maysville Route 98
Original roads and highways are described in chapter on Roads, Springs and
SCHOOLS AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS
In the growth and development of the town from the beginning, the schools have been an important factor. The first school, which was known as the Harmony Grove Academy for girls, was located near the Oconee River in the vicinity of the W.M. Potts' residence near Pittman's Bridge. According to an old version, this vicinity was first called Harmony Grove. It is not recorded, or certain, what became of this early school.
We know that the town of Harmony Grove began to grow in the late 1830's or early 1840's at which time the Shankle family opened a mercantile business in the community. This was about 1845 or 1846. During this period when Caleb Wood owned a large part of the land on the north side of State Street, there were schools at various parts of the village sup-ported by private tuition from the heads of families and taught by several different teachers. One was located near the Jesse Wood home, one near S. M. Shankle's residence, another in some part of Willoughby Park, and one in a log building where the Harmony Grove Mills office now stands. All of these were very small log cabin affairs and taught by one teacher.
On an acre of land donated by C.W. Hood, the first two-story two-room wooden building was erected in 1874 on the site of the present grammar school. Two teachers were employed to conduct the school. The Masonic Lodge held its meetings in the second story. This wooden structure was used from 1874 through 1888. The first brick school building was erected in 1888. The contractor was McGinity of Athens, Georgia. This building was destroyed by fire in 1895. The second brick building was constructed on the same site in the same year by Thurmond and Barber. This building was destroyed by fire in 1903 and rebuilt by W.T. Thurmond and is the main body of the present grammar school building. During the periods while new buildings were under construction, the school sessions were held in the churches (1895) and in public buildings uptown (1903).
These three buildings were the same size and similar in type, with classrooms and office on the first floor and auditorium, library, and other classrooms on the second. About the year 1914, at the beginning of H.B. Carreker's administration as superintendent, two wings, one on each end, were added to provide facilities for the high school grades. An additional building on the same school lot was erected for an auditorium in 1927 and which was later used as a gymnasium, now used for a lunch room. Additional acreage to the original lot was bought from J.A. Seegar. The present high school building on Shankle Street was erected in 1936.
The public school has had an unusual array of competent superintendents, principals, and teachers, and has made a splendid record in the growth and development of the school system from the simple one-teacher school to a highly systematized educational system with seven grammar grades and five high school grades, making a complete system of twelve grades with a faculty of thirty-one. The school has also made a splendid showing in contests and fine boys and girls who have entered college on their unit credits. In the 9th District Contests this school has been the best, both in athletics and literary contests. Especially have they excelled in the latter, both in district and state meets.
Included in the school system are Departments of Music, Home Economics, Agriculture, and Speech.
The following is a list of the superintendents with dates which are inclusive:
G. J. N. Wilson 1866-1867
R. S. Cheney 1867-1870
G. W. Brown 1871-1873
R. S. Cheney 1874-1876
M. L. Parker 1877-1881
L. M. Landrum 1882-1883
W. H. Key 1884
J. A. Quillian 1885-1886
F. M. Blount 1887
J. H. Walker 1888- 1891
Harry Strozier 1892
W. H. Cobb 1893-1894
Claud Gray & Pitner 1895-1898
M. L. Parker 1899-1900
Peter Zellars 1901-1904
J. M. Stevenson 1905
W. F. Brown 1906-1908
J. T. Walker 1909-1910
Luther Elrod 1911-1912
H. B. Bible 1913-1914
H. B. Carreker 1915-1922
J. F. Muldrow 1923-1924
W. H. Martin 1925-1928
S. F.. Maughon 1929-1940
B. B. Sanders 1941-1944
Omar Bellamy 1945
Charley Brown 1946
In the 1870's the one-teacher school of the previous decade developed into the two or more system designated as the principal and assistant teachers. This system came into existence in Harmony Grove after the erection of the new two-room school building in 1874. The higher classes were taught in one room by the principal and the primary and intermediates by the assistant. The subjects taught were spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, rhetoric and composition. Much emphasis was laid upon the thoroughness and accuracy of these fundamental subjects, especially in spelling and the multiplication tables, as well as adding, subtracting and dividing and parsing sentences. There were no grades. The student body was divided into classes. The method was to call the classes to the front row of seats, or benches, for recitation, question the pupils orally on the lessons previously assigned, after which the teacher assigned the lesson for the next period. The class was dismissed and they returned to their seats for study. The period was usually from ten to thirty
minutes, according to the advancement of the class. Then the next class was called, etc., until all classes had recited during the day. Blackboards were used for working arithmetic, algebra, and geometry problems during the recitation period and for diagraming sentences in grammar. Each pupil had his turn at the blackboard. The teacher would then inspect the work. If it was not correct, he would strike a big cross mark over it, or a big zero.
A few of the textbooks used were: Webster's Blue Back Speller and Primary Dictionary; McGuffey's Readers, from 1-6; Smith's English Grammar; Sanford's Arithmetic, including Primary and Common School and High Analytical; Sanford's
Algebra; Wentworth's Geometry and Trigonometry; Quackenbose' Composition and Rhetoric, Natural Philosophy; Murray's Geography, including Primary and Advanced; Swinton's Word Book and Latin and Greek.
Every pupil was permitted to advance according to his ability to learn and the progress he made. The pupil usually entered school at the age of 6 or 7 years and was first taught the alphabet. Then in a few weeks began spelling and reading in the primer. They were gradually advanced into arithmetic, drilled in the multiplication tables, adding, subtracting and multiplying and dividing. From these one went into the study of the beginner's geography and grammar and into the advanced readers, which were taken up the second or third year.
Arithmetic was worked on slates with slate pencils and exhibited to the teacher. Parsing sentences in grammar, bounding states, countries, continents and oceans, describing mountains and rivers, multiplying, subtracting, adding, dividing and working fractions was the work of the teen-age boys and girls of that day.
The more advanced classes studied composition, rhetoric, philosophy, higher arithmetic, algebra, geometry and some Latin and occasionally a few pupils studied Greek. Parents sometime exercised the privilege of selecting the studies of their children.
In the 1880's this school was referred to as the common or High School of Harmony Grove, but having received instruction from teachers who were University graduates, the students were prepared for entrance into the sophomore class in the colleges.
In 1888, when the first brick building was provided, a partial grading of the school was developed but the complete grading and unit system was established when the town adopted the public system in 1902. Peter Zellars was the first superintendent under the grading system. The school was then designated as the Harmony Grove High School.
Before the adoption of the public school system in 1902, the superintendent, principal, and teachers depended on state aid, supplemented by such tuition from
patrons as the trustees of the school authorized. State aid dated from 1870, and
was increased from time to time. The Commerce High School became independent of the county in 1910 and since that time has drawn its allotment of funds direct from the state. The Federal Government contributes part support for Home Economic and Agricultural teachers and for lunch room expenditure, recently installed.
The first local school tax set up was 25 cents on $100.00, which has been increased from time to time until the present rate is 60 cents on the $100.00. Bonds have been issued by the town for school building as follows:
$8,000-6 per cent bonds issued in 1888.
$3,000-6 per cent bonds issued in 1895.
$6,000-5 per cent bonds issued in 1903.
$2,000-5 per cent bonds issued in 1909.
$8,000-5 per cent bonds issued in 1913.
$20,000-5 per cent bonds issued in 1936 for High School Building.
The Harmony Grove and Commerce Schools have always had the sympathetic and
cooperative support of an able Board of Trustees. The following have acted as
chairmen of the Board of Education of the Public School System:
W. B. Hardman 1902-1918
L. G. Hardman 1918-1932
After 1933 the chairmanship of the Board was rotated annually. The following
served as Chairmen of the Board of Education in the order named:
R. C. Nix
M. T. Sanders
H. F. Bray
Dr. C. E. Pittman
A. D. Bolton
H. F. Mosher
Dr. O. C. Pittman
R. L. Sanders
Dr. O. C. Pittman
V. L. Davis
Dr. P. T. Scoggins
R. M. Davidson
A. S. Hardy, Jr.
Dr. A. A. Rogers, present Chairman
COMMERCE HIGH SCHOOL, 1948
There has been an outstanding advancement in the Harmony Grove-Commerce Schools from the one room log building with one teacher to the modern well-equipped and systematized educational institution with a faculty of thirty teachers and a superintendent. In 1948 the twelve grade system, including eight grades in the grammar school and four in the high school was adopted. College preparatory courses are offered to all students. Two types of diplomas, academic and vocational, are conferred upon graduation. In addition to the regular academic course, vocational courses on the subjects of Home Economics, Agriculture, Manual of Arts, Typing, Book-keeping, Shorthand, Business Mathematics, Business Law, Business English are integral parts of the school program, also an athletic program, featuring football, baseball, boys' and girls' basketball and tract. Connected with the school are the Departments of Music and Speech, the Veterans Farm Training School and On-The-Job Training Program, through the Veterans Administration of the Federal Government, and a School Library, containing 3,065 volumes. The total budget for the school year, 1948-1949 is $86,052.00. Total enrollment, 865, with 667 whites and 158 Negroes.
OLDER ORDER OF SCHOOLS
Under the older order of the schools of the 1880's, during the administration of Cheney, Parker, Landrum, Quillian, Walker and Cobb, it was customary to have Friday afternoon speaking. All the pupils were required to recite. The older boys from fourteen years up were expected to make declamations from the classical speeches of history. The younger boys recited some verses from noted poems. The girls gave recitations sometimes in the form of dialogues from some well known author. Usually the poem was taken from some selection in the fifth or sixth readers, such as Maud Muller, Lord Ullahn's Daughter, Psalms of Life, etc. Older boys chose for their subjects selections from the orations of Cicero, Demosthenes, on through Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Edmond Burke, Earl of Chatham and later from Henry Grady's "New South." Some of the older boys from
eighteen to twenty-five literally "shelled the woods." They would go down to the woods under the spreading oaks, now Williamstown, and practice their speeches in the afternoons during the week, prompting each other as each took his turn in preparation for the event of Friday afternoon.
Among the orators of the 1880's were W.B. Hardman, J.E.J. Lord, W.D. Sheppard, W.E. Wood, E.W. Martin, Albert Miller, and Robert Neal. Much emphasis was placed upon posture, bows, and gestures of the speaker. Oratory was considered one of the chief features of an education and preparation for public life.
The small boy would recite "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck," "The Lark Is Up To Meet the Sun," "Little Boy Blue," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "You Scarce Expect a Boy of My Age to Speak in Public on the Stage ...", etc. Some would forget their speeches and would have to be prompted or called down. One of the girls was called to the stage. She began her speech with "Open the old cigar box ... Open the old cigar box ... Open the old cigar box ..." The teacher, calling her by name, said, "If you can't get it open, Pearl, you may come down.". The girl sat down much embarrassed.
The annual exhibition at the close of school in June was a great occasion. In
preparation a large brush arbor was erected in front of the school building, some fifty or sixty feet square, with rows of posts and frame work of railing across the top, which was covered with brush. Underneath this arbor were seats of puncheons, brought from the saw mill. In front of the schoolhouse door was the stage, from which the exercises were' presented. These took place on Friday and Saturday nights. During the day there were examinations and declamations. Night was taken up with orations and dialogues, closing on Saturday night with a Negro minstrel and a Negro sermon.
The County School Commissioner was often present on these occasions. It was his custom to visit the school at regular intervals. As the pupils saw him approaching, in his long jimswing coat and beaver hat, they were much elated because there would be a little rest period to listen to his talks, interspersed with anecdotes. Then he would be invited by the teacher to take the next text book and hear the pupils recite. Perhaps he would give an original problem to work which they delighted to do. The teacher was always very polite and met him at the door with the courtesy and deference that was due his official position. A portion of the teacher's pay came through the county school fund.
HARMONY GROVE FEMALE ACADEMY
20th December, 1824.
An Act to incorporate the Female Academy at Harmony Grove in Jackson County.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That Russell Jones, Williams Potts, Samuel Barnett, Frederick Stewart, and John A. Rhea be, and they are hereby made and declared to be, a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of "the Trustees of Harmony Grove Academy": and as such body politic and corporate, shall be capable of doing all acts which may be necessary for the complete execution of the trust confided to them; and shall be invested with all property, both real and personal, which shall be acquired by purchase, gift, or otherwise, for the use and benefit of said institution, and shall be capable of suing and being sued; and the said trustees
and their successors in office, or a majority of them, shall have the power of filling vacancies in their own body, and possess (passing) such by-laws as may be necessary to carry the powers hereby vested in them into full effect; Provided, such by-laws are not contrary to the laws and constitution of this State.
JOHN ABERCROMBIE, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
ALLEN B. POWELL, President of the Senate.
Assented to, December 20th, 1824.
G. M. TROUP, Governor.
COMMERCE PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATION
The patrons and teachers of the Commerce schools had for a long time felt the need of a Parent-Teacher Association, but were discouraged by the fact that such an organization had at one time been tried and functioned only two years.
However, in the spring of 1947 a group of interested citizens met in the grammar school auditorium to discuss the advisability of organizing such a group again. It was unanimously decided that a Parent-Teacher Association be begun and the following were asked to serve on the Nominating Committee: Mrs. W. Hardman Jones, Chairman; Mrs. Lauren McDonald, Mrs. Charles Castleberry, Mrs. Paul T. Scoggins and Rev. C.W. Fruit.
One hundred and ninety-six parents and teachers attended the first meeting which was held in April, 1947. Officers of the new association were elected at this meeting and were as follows: Mrs. L.G. Hardman, Jr., President; Mrs. Howell P. Little, Vice-President; Mrs. Alfred Hix, Secretary; Mrs. Charles Gillespie, Corresponding Secretary; and Mrs. W.L. Wells, Treasurer. Mrs. Hix later resigned and was succeeded by Mrs. Jack Meadors. Mrs. Gilespie resigned and Mrs. Tom Conn was elected to take her place.
This organization has meant much to the schools and has helped make the link between parents and teachers a stronger one. Many projects have been undertaken and completed, among which are purchasing of playground equipment for the grammar school; re-decoration of the High School stage and the grammar school stage; dental clinics, immunization clinics and purchasing of library books.
THE ATHLETIC FEATURE OF THE COMMERCE HIGH SCHOOL
While emphasis was placed upon the value of athletics during the period of the Harmony Grove High School it was chiefly after the adoption of the public school system that athletics reached its highest development. During the Harmony Grove period various games were played, among them cat-ball, town-ball, bull-pen, scrub and other games during the 1870'S. Later, baseball came into the picture. Some of the first rules of baseball were that the pitcher was required to pitch underhand. There were nine balls and four strikes. If the batter didn't strike at the third strike, there was a warning given and then he was given another chance at the fourth strike. Usually the catcher caught on the bounce until the third strike, then he came up behind the bat. There were no masks or mitts. Every one caught bare-handed. The curve ball came into use about 1883 or 1884. Pete Wilson, of Madison County, was the first curve-ball artist who taught Quincy Williford the art. From the Landrum administration to the public school era, baseball was the chief sport in the form of athletics, though shinny had its place among the boys and "Antney-over" among the girls. Shinny was played with crooked end sticks similar to golf sticks, made usually of persimmon or dogwood, with which the players drove a solid rubber ball across the goal line, similar to a football field, in which they used an equal number of players on each side.
The real art of baseball developed rapidly in the 1890'S when the national and
professional game developed and became very popular.
The Commerce High School began to develop good baseball teams, which perhaps reached the maximum during the superintendency of H.B. Carreker. Track and Field Day contests reached a high peak during this same period. It was during his administration that football came into prominence when the athletic field, known as the Hardman Field, was constructed, which provided a place for both baseball and football. Commerce had as fine a football team in 1916-1917 as could be found. On their schedule were Gainesville, Toccoa, Athens, Warrenton, Atlanta Boys' High and Tech High, against most of whom they were winners. This team went to Atlanta and played Tech High on their own field, even though they had heavy reserves. The Commerce boys played Tech High to a standstill in the first half. In the second half, Tech High put in Judy Harlan, a freshman, who later became an All-Southern fullback on the Tech team. With him as fullback and with other freshmen, Tech High finally nosed out the Commerce team in the last half.
E.J. Harden, principal and athletic coach, was very popular, both with the faculty and with the students.
Team Roster and Line-Up
Lawrence (Loggins) Hardman (Captain) Q.B.
Lamar (Coop) Cooper R.H.
T. F. (Tot) Harden F.B.
Verne (Fish) Davis L.H.
Bayard (Whiskers) Carson R.H.&G.
John (Caleb) Barnett G.
Felton McConnel Subs.
Richard (Wink) Dowdy Subs.
Cosby (Buck) Smith L.E.
Lammie Sims L.T.
Marshal Pierce L.G.
Frank Little C.
Linton Cooper R.G.
Colquitt (Slugger) Sims R.T.
W. N. Harden R.E.
E. J. (Runt) Harden Coach
Perhaps this team, with its many star players, has not been equaled since, although it is to the credit of the present ad-ministration that they have developed, in the last two or three years, a splendid team from the fact that they have a real good field on the High School grounds.
Basketball was introduced in a small way out in the open athletic field. It became more popular when the gymnasium was built as this gave a splendid indoor court which was used for match games both by the school and the town team. Games were first played in the auditorium of the grammar school on the second floor.
When the town of Harmony Grove was incorporated in 1884, the Negroes numbered a little over 30 per cent of the population, living chiefly in the section known as Johntown with a few families living, about twelve years later, in the section known as Williamstown. The present Negro population is not more than 10 per cent of the total population. The Negroes from the early history of the town have manifested an interest in the education of their children. Their first schools were taught in various small buildings, sometimes in church buildings. When the public school system was established in 1902, the superintendent of the Harmony Grove public schools became also the superintendent of the Johntown School. About this time, there was erected an adequate school building on the north side of Homer Street which met their needs until about 1929, when the School Board secured three-fourth acres some distance back from the street. On this lot there was erected, with money donated by the Rosenwald Fund, a two-room building at a cost of $21500.00 in 1929. Later, 1937, two rooms were added by the city on the west end of the building so that now there is an adequate building, as well as grounds, for the Negro population.
The Johntown School is operated according to the same system as the other schools of the city, having seven elementary grades and three high school grades with plans to incorporate an 11th grade this year. This school is the only High School available for Negroes in Jackson County, and is known as the Johntown Junior High School. Athletic and vocational programs are integral parts of the school program. Athletics include basketball, for both boys and girls. Vocational training includes Home Economics, Agriculture, Business Mathematics and Business English. Music is a separate department though connected with the school program. The Veterans Farm Training School and on-the-job training program is also available. It has an enrollment of 135 in the grammar grades and 23 in the high school. The faculty is composed of five teachers.
Rev. J.H. Allen was the first principal after the establishment of the public school system in 1902 and occupied this position until 1921. He was amost gifted personality and was instrumental in establishing the system and promoting the advancement of the school. He was succeeded by W.T. Swilling who was principal for eleven years, followed by P.B. Harper, the present principal, who has occupied this position for sixteen years to the present date. All of these were good citizens and good school men.
The Negro population of Commerce are very cooperative and have always shown an interest in the education of their children as well as in their church life. There are very few illiterates among them.
JOHNTOWN, HARMONY GROVE
The Negro section of Harmony Grove on Homer road was named Johntown about the time of the incorporation of the town. Several families lived on this road before then. However, about this time John Pittman, John A. Williford and Johnson Sanders sold lots on which houses began to be built in this section and from these names this section began to be called Johntown, which was accepted when the town Harmony Grove was incorporated. The growth and development of the people of this section is to be commended, especially in the realm of their schools and churches.
John A. Williford donated the lot on which the Baptist Church and Pastorium is now located.
About the year of 1894, or 1895, Mr. Harmon Williams, a carpenter, contractor, and builder came to Harmony Grove and bought about two acres of land from L.G. Hardman, or C.W. Hood, Sr., in the rear of the Baptist Church. About this time a street was opened on the south side of the Baptist Church lot, later named Scott Street which extended through the Williams' lot. Mr. Williams built six or eight houses on this lot which at first were rented to white people but some years later were bought by different ones and rented to Negroes for the convenience of their cooks.
One peculiar feature of these houses was that the gables were finished with shingles instead of weather boarding. The houses had other fancy touches that made a distinct feature. This settlement was called Williamstown. Mr. Williams built his own home on South Elm Street and finished all the outside with stained shingles. This house was later owned and occupied by W.B. Power. It is now owned and occupied by Mrs. W.B. Burns.
Williamstown sometime later was occupied by both whites and Negroes until the city bought the half on the south side of the street and added to the city cemetery.
Three Pioneer Characters of Johntown
Immanuel Ragsdale was a noted character in the early days of Johntown. He was a very popular preacher in those days though he could not read a word. His custom was to get some white preacher to read several texts of scripture which he memorized. When he got up to preach he repeated these over and over, emphasizing each word separately. He then exhorted his congregation to heed the warning of the text, some-times designating them personally. When Immanuel dressed to go to his country appointments he donned his long tail coat, his faded white vest and his dingy brown high hat. He was very polite to every one. And when Immanuel passed on to his reward his funeral was attended by all the Negroes of the surrounding section. For months to come, when the Negroes wanted to have a great occasion and a large congregation, they announced that they were going to have Uncle Immanuel's funeral preached again.
Rev. Pleasant Campbell
Another preacher of a little later date was a well known character in town. When he went into the pulpit he took Aunt Easter, his wife, "to close behind him," which she did by exhorting the congregation. Uncle Campbell with his white woolly locks standing out above his temples had a favorite text-"Great is the mystery of Godliness." I Timothy 3:16. He said he preached from this text sixteen times and went a different direction each time. Sometimes he went up into the elements, sometimes down on the earth's surface and sometimes into the ground. Uncle Campbell and his wife were also popular in town as lye hominy makers.
Uncle Dave Bennett
Uncle Dave was an industrious man and earned his living in his later years by chopping wood. His customers lived in all parts of the town. He was so knock-kneed it took him sometime to get to his work but by starting early, with axe on his shoulder, he reached his place in time and put in an honest day's work. Uncle Dave always ate his dinner with his employer where he was working. One custom' he had was to ask the blessing after he had eaten instead of before. He said he was thankful for what he had received. He reared a large family of boys and he certainly set them a good example of industry.
Two Other Later Noted Characters of Harmony Grove and Commerce
A noted character of Harmony Grove was Mitchel Goss, known to all the people as Mitch. He was original and unique in his manners and speech. He was extremely polite and obliging. In his early days he was noted as a debater in the Negro Literary Society on the topics of the day. He worked for the Commerce Drug Company and was really considered a member of the firm. All of his white friends sought counsel from his store of wisdom. He was recognized as the official assistant weather forecaster to Von Herman of Atlanta. His official prognostications proved about 20% true. Mitch also is said to have prepared a revision of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. This likely has not been preserved and his double-jointed, unusual, and super-sophisticated words are lost to posterity. His friends in Commerce are legion. One of his boys was named John Hampton Thomas Jefferson Fox Galloway Pick-a-Ninny-in-the-Floor. They called him Hamp.
Elbert was practically raised by C.W. Hood, Sr., who took him as a boy four or five years old and kept him as a playmate for his son C.J. Hood, who was about one year younger. Elbert had no education, only being able to write his name. He worked in a harness shop for Frank Stansby in 1882 and later had a harness shop in the rear of R.L. Hardman's Hard-ware Store. He continued the harness and shoe repair business in several locations in town and earned a living and made a good citizen. He reared five boys who continued the harness and shoe business and were otherwise useful. Elbert as a young man was the champion grain cradler in these parts.
Other Old-timers of Johntown, Harmony Grove
Garrison Rucker (step-son)
Anna Gus Goss (wife)
Sandy Hix, Sr.
Aunt Levy Bennett
Aunt Easter Campbell
Aunt Lucy Brison
Aunt Alice Hix
Aunt Louisa Gaines
Johntown Debating Society
Along about 1884 the Negroes of Johntown organized a debating contest. They were encouraged by the young business men and boys of the town. Occasionally a debate was held either in old Strickland Hall or in R.L. Hardman's Hardware store.
On one occasion the subject of the debate was: Resolved there wus a flood in South Demerica. (They thought the South was South America.) Sam Strickland and Mitch Goss were the leading debaters. Sam took the "infirmity" and Mitch the "nigitive."
Sam argued, "There must'er been a flood in South America, else how come all de big gullies over here?" He was scored one "pint." Mitch, on the other hand, asserted, "If da had been a flood over here old Columbus would have got drowned when he come over here on his skiff." He, too, scored one "pint."
The debate continued pro and con with equally convincing reasons until the President finally added up the "pints" made and pronounced the debate a tie. Adjourned `sine die' til next Saturday night.
Negroes have always been interested and gifted in music. In the days of Harmony Grove they had a real good band in Johntown. The band became somewhat efficient and would parade the streets in their band wagon, giving exhibitions of their musical attainments. On one occasion as the band began a musical number and the wagon started on the parade, Sam Strickland, an alto hornblower, dropped his piece of music. He scrambled for it, and finally placed in on his rack. The band was about half way through the number. Not knowing how to start in the middle, Sam began at the beginning in double time-too ta toot ta toot-and when the band reached the end of the piece Sam was right there, too.
It is characteristic of Negro music, either vocal or instrumental, that regardless of how far apart the performers are in the middle of a tune they all wind up at the end together and in perfect harmony.
In later years a group of young boys with stringed instruments serenaded the homes of the white people. They would always be encouraged by small gifts from their white friends. Negroes have always been noted for their musical talent and have received the cooperation of their white friends in their churches and in their school entertainments.
GROWTH OF THE CITY OF COMMERCE FROM 1904 TO 1948
After the turn of the century and the change of name, Commerce began to grow, not in a spasmodic or mushroom fashion, but in a steady substantial way.
The adoption and inauguration of the public school system was the first evidence of forward looking development. This was followed by the installation of the electric system both for streets and residences, and a little later, the establishment of the waterworks and sewerage system. These were the things that really put Commerce on the road to progress.
In 1914 the first side walk pavement was laid. Street pavement was begun in 1927 and continued at different intervals until the town now has six or eight miles of paved streets. Other evidence of advancement has been the growth of the mercantile business, as seen in the increased number of dry goods, hardware, drug and furniture stores, followed by the introduction of the chain and department stores, all of which gives Commerce a real business air. The enlargement of the industries has added much to the financial strength of the town.
The invention of the automobile and the introduction of the automobile business has developed rapidly and extensively. The establishment of the sales places for automobiles, gas, oil, and other accessories, together with the operation of garages and repair shops, has become an extensive business. Numerous filling stations, some elaborate and expensive, are located in convenient places to serve the public.
The various civic and patriotic organizations have contributed in a large way to the morale and the public spirit of the town. These organizations are treated in another chapter. The Board of Trade, as an early agency in this progress, is featured in this chapter.
Religious growth is worthy of note. The total membership of the churches in 1900, some 600 members, has increased to total over 2,400. The city has grown from 1,450 in 1900 to a present population of over 5,000. All of the churches have built or enlarged their facilities and have church buildings in keeping with the advancement of the town.
The residential section has been largely extended to meet the growth in population. This development is especially noticeable to the casual observer and gives a very favorable impression of the advancement of the city.
THE MOVING PICTURE
Another feature of the evidence of the growth of the city is the moving pictures. Since its first introduction in Commerce about forty years ago the moving picture business has made great progress and is a popular and lucrative business. From the silent pictures to the talkies and technicolor productions and the introduction of television there has been a steady growth. Commerce has two commodious and well-equipped moving picture theaters. As to the educational value and tendency of the movies, it is an open question.
THE ORIGINAL BOARD OF TRADE IN COMMERCE By Paul T. Harber
Recent efforts exerted by local businessmen to organize a Chamber of Commerce on a modern plan, with a paid executive secretary, and properly financed in order to execute an active and definite program to promote and advance the community's broad interests, have stimulated considerable talk on the part of many old-timers relative to the original Board of Trade which functioned some 35 years ago, with pronounced success.
Road Repairs Important
In those days there were no paved roads. Farmers found it difficult to bring cotton to town following heavy rains. Roads became impassable at times owing to deep mud and swollen streams. One of the major activities of the Board of Trade was to raise funds by volunteer subscriptions to provide top-soil, mules and wagons for hauling materials, and pay for labor to assist the county commissioners in keeping the dirt road passable.
Important roads were carefully watched for repair needs. In the trade territory, roads from Hood's Mill, Apple Valley, Arp, Ashland, Erastus, Poca, Ila, Nicholson, and Maysville were among those given special attention by Commerce business firms. In those days roads were worked twice a year by the county authorities but the result was highly unsatisfactory and the help given by the Board of Trade was a pressing need.
It was the Board of Trade that sponsored an annual clean-up day for a number of years although the first clean-up day was a project of the Woman's Club. Storekeepers swept papers, litter and trash out into the middle of the streets in front of their establishments, leaving it to the wind and passing vehicles to scatter. It is said that the first clean-up campaign saw more than 25 truckloads of trash hauled beyond the city limits and dumped. Stores were given a badge of honor for complying with the clean-up plan.
Chicken Coops Moved
It was the practice of stores that sold chickens to place the coops on the sidewalks in front of the establishments. Commerce's women just couldn't tolerate the unsightliness of the coops, the foul odor emanating therefrom, and the squawking of the fryers. They finally got the dealers to remove the coops, which was no easy accomplishment. In the good old days of Harmony Grove, chicken coops lined the sidewalks. Why change an old custom, some of the storekeepers argued. But the men lost-as usual.
Commerce's first banquet was staged by the Board of Trade in the old frame hotel located across the railway tracks from the present depot, which was destroyed by fire many years ago. Claud Benton, brother of Theo Benton, operated the hotel at the time. Tickets sold for $1.00 each, exclusively to men. More than one hundred citizens were present for the colorful affair. Prominent Atlanta and Athens business and professional men were on the program of speakers. Another banquet was held a year later in the high school auditorium, with the ladies taking a part in the festivities. Harllee Branch, an ace reporter for the Atlanta Journal, covered the banquet for his newspaper. Commerce began to feel its importance. Two other banquets were held in the Central hotel subsequently. They were equally as important and beautiful in every detail, with a two-color printed program given to each attendant as a souvenir.
Commerce's biggest project, sponsored by the Board of Trade was the famed Atlanta Journal-New York Herald motorcade in October, 1909. C.J. Hood furnished a White Steamer car for the tour which started from New York and ended in Atlanta. The Board of Trade raised $750.00 to finance the project. Paul T. Harber and G.L. Carson, Sr., were elected representatives to ride in the Commerce car which was driven by a Mr. Stupke, a mechanic-driver of Atlanta. It required ten days for the trip, mostly over dirt roads.
A booklet telling of the greatness of Commerce, Georgia, was written by Paul Harber and scattered along the route via Perth Amboy, N.J., Gettysburg, Penn., Staunton and Roanoke, Va., Charlotte, Winston Salem, and Greensboro, N.C. On the ninth night the motorcade of 50 cars arrived in Commerce. Visitors were entertained in homes of citizens. In the evening an entertainment program was featured, including buck and wing dancing by little Negro boys, speeches by the mayor and prominent members of the tour, including James R. Gray, publisher of the Atlanta Journal. Ty Cobb was a member of-the tour. Youngsters followed him around wherever he went. A large persimmon tree containing 25 'possums was placed atop fifty pyramided bales of cotton on the main street. Yankees enjoyed the sight more than any others of the entire tour, it was said.
As a result of the publicity Commerce became a well-known community in many states. Henceforth, early travelers and tourists coming south followed the Journal-Herald route. Two years later Athens saw that the highway from that city to Danielsville and Royston was paved, causing Commerce to lose the advantages of motor travel which had been developed.
Not content with resting on its laurels, Commerce entertained the Glidden Tour of 1910, when it was operated from Atlanta to New York. A picnic dinner was served to 150 people on the tour, in front of the home of Mrs. C.W. Hood. This further publicized Commerce which was rapidly be-coming one of the best known towns in Georgia.
Another project which proved beneficial to Commerce was the annual convention of the Georgia Press Association in July, 1914. More than 200 editors and publishers were present from throughout the state. Atlanta's newspapers had photographers here to make suitable pictures, and sent star reporters to cover the business and entertainment features. In arranging for the convention the Board of Trade played an active part.
When some of the community's businessmen decided it would be worthwhile to stage an agricultural fair with displays entered by Jackson, Banks, Franklin and Madison counties, the Board of Trade extended practical cooperation. For four years the event was an annual attraction, the stockholders receiving a dividend when the project was abandoned.
First Overall Factory
It was the Board of Trade that sponsored the movement which resulted in the first overall factory being established in Commerce. Two different committees solicited and procured the funds required to start the small industry which is now one of the largest of its kind in the country.
These accomplishments by the long defunct Board of Trade reflect credit upon the citizenry of Commerce of the years ago. If an organization with no paid executive secretary and no operating funds could achieve big results for the community there is a belief among businessmen today that a live Chamber of Commerce today ought to accomplish much for the benefit of the people of Commerce and vicinity. To use a popular slang expression, "The businessmen of Commerce two and three decades past had something on the ball."
ADDITIONAL ITEMS OF INTEREST ABOUT THE COMMERCE BOARD OF TRADE
When the Board of Trade was organized in 1908, the first banquet was held at the Alhambra Hotel. On the night of the banquet over a hundred tickets were sold. It was such a success that many citizens, who said during the week that they could not attend, came to the door seeking admittance. Dr. W.B. Hardman was toastmaster and J.K. Orr, of Atlanta, principal speaker.
C.J. Hood was elected the first President and P.T. Harber the first Secretary. The following year L.L. Davis or J.M. Nix, was elected President and Paul T. Harber continued as Secretary. The annual banquets were continued, the later meetings being held in the Central Hotel.
In 1914 the Board of Trade sponsored the meeting of the Georgia Press Association in July of that year. The meeting was held in the Ellida Auditorium. In the evening a reception was held at the new and spacious home of T. C. Hardman on South Elm Street. with an attedance of three hundred or more.
When the Georgia Baptist Convention met in Commerce in 1916, the Board of Trade was active in arranging for their entertainment.
Among the last outstanding accomplishments of the Board of Trade was the securing of the Overall Plant under the management of Fred E. Durst, Sr., and Mr. Weatherly. They came from Winder and established this enterprise in 1917. (See special sketch of the Commerce Manufacturing Company). This Board of Trade functioned for about twelve years. After a lapse of six or eight years it was succeeded by the Chamber of Commerce.
P.T. Harber was the last President and G.L. Carson the last Secretary. Some of the members were as follows: A.P. Rice, G.T. Rice, W.B. Rice, Claud Montgomery, Homer Harber, Y.J. Johnson, Dr. L.G. Hardman, Dr. W.B. Hardman, J.B. Hardman, T.C. Hardman, Frank Wright, R.C. Nix, D.M. Nix, J.M. Nix, L.L. Davis, P.W. Sheppard, Robert Black, P.A. Hughes, G.L. Hubbard, C.J. Hood, M.T. Sanders, Claude Little, J.F. Shannon, E.B. Anderson, B.B. Hawks, Dr. Olin Shankle, John J. Harber, Dr. M.F. Nelms, E.B. Crow, W.T. Thurmond, E.S. Wood, Rucker Mason, M.P. Elliott, W.D. Pierce, J.T. Quinlan, C.A. Goodin, H.O. Williford, W.B. Burns, John Montgomery, A.D. Harris, R.L.J. Smith, A.B. Deadwyler, Henry Williamson, T.A. Harber, Parks Holbrook, C.W. Truitt, C.W. Cooper, et al.
Meetings were held in the upstairs of the old Key Building. Some of them were
lively because the ambitious members were striving to make Commerce the leading
center in this section of Georgia. At that time Commerce was a great retail and
cotton center. Trade came from four counties. One year Commerce cotton merchants
bought more than 23,000 bales of cotton from farmers' wagons. Principal payroll
was the Harmony Grove Mills. Two oil mills were in operation, a foundry, two cotton gins and several small enterprises. Commerce merchants carried large stocks of goods. The old fashioned credit system prevailed. Several cotton warehouses did a big business annually. The Board of Trade made the best of all opportunities of that time.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL HEADQUARTERS
On September 13, 1933, the Mayor and Council purchased the E.B. Anderson bank building, including all fixtures and the B. B. Hawks building at a price of $3,825.00 for their permanent headquarters. Prior to this time they met in various rooms and buildings rented or leased for that purpose. Among these places was a room in the block on North Elm Street near the Commerce Drug Company, a room on the same street in Mrs. C.W. Hood's property, just above the Northeastern Bank, the upstairs of the T.E. Key building on South Elm Street and Mrs. W.B. Wagnon's building on North Broad, now occupied by Richey Cafe, then later the old First National Bank Building now occupied by Louise Beauty Shop. The purchase of the present property meets their requirements, being provided with a nice room for a Council Chamber, a fire-proof vault for their books and records, office room for Water and Light Department, together with a large basement for storage of trucks and material, storage place for fire engine and large and ample room for holding elections and space for various civic projects. This purchase was a wise move on the part of the city fathers and will meet their needs for some years to come.
THE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Back in the days of Harmony Grove we had the bucket brigade who did a brilliant service in putting out fires. They had access to several public wells that furnished a good supply of water. After the installation of the city water works system and the purchase of fire trucks and complete equipment, the Fire Department was organized and manned by a voluntary company which has been sponsored by the city council, with certain recognition for service rendered.
This organization has done valiant work. The splendid efficiency of the company, with the latest equipment for fire fighting, have enabled them to hold any fire outbreak in check. The excellent work of this volunteer company of the Fire Department is appreciated by all the citizens.
Personnel of the Fire Department
O. H. Carson, Chief
Lauren McDonald, Asst. Chief
Jack P. Dunson
NEWSPAPERS AND PUBLICITY
The first newspaper published in Harmony Grove, as far as known, was the Northeast Georgia Progress. It was edited by Malcolm Stafford and printed in a small two-room building located on the Jesse P. Wood lot on the north side of State Street. Mr. and Mrs. Stafford had their living quarters in the rear room and the printing in the front room. They had no children but adopted a boy, Willie Jones, who was about twelve years of age. He was used as a lackey boy or printer's devil. This paper began its publication in 1875 and continued through 1881.
W.A. Shackelford, a young man of sixteen years, was the printer from 1876 to 1881. Both Mr. Stafford and Mr. Shackleford came from Oglethorpe County. Mr. Shackleford purchased the Oglethorpe Echo in 1881 and moved to Lexington and published it until his death about three years ago. Since that time the Oglethorpe Echo is being published by his son.
After Mr. Stafford moved from the city, W.J. Goss, the father of the late Mrs. C.J. Hood, published a newspaper in Harmony Grove for two or three years, the name of the paper not being known, but it is believed to have been The Citizen.
About 1885, a Mr. Atkinson and W.B. Wagnon came to Harmony Grove from Madison, Georgia, and installed a printing press and published a paper under the name of The Harmony Grove Signal and continued it for two years. Mr. Atkinson returned to his former home and Mr. Wagnon entered the grocery business in this city, discontinuing the newspaper.
For a short time, Harmony Grove was without the services of a regular newspaper. In the meantime W.J. Goss published a small paper called The Bumble Bee in which he gave some news and social items.
Sometimes later Lonnie and Charlie Mize published a similar small paper known as The Whistler. About 1888 or 1890, Stiles Alexander published a newspaper a year or two under the name of The Harmony Grove Age. He sold it to Dr. W.B. Hardman about the year 1891, who organized a stock company and published the paper under the name of The Harmony Grove Echo. This paper was leased to John Carson who ran the paper for a year.
Dr. W.B. Hardman then took charge as manager, editor and owner of the paper until 1895. He then sold it to John F. Shannon, who had moved here from Franklin County and who continued as owner and editor until his death in 1934.
The name of the newspaper was changed in 1903 to The Commerce News when the name of Harmony Grove was changed to Commerce.
Following Mr. Shannon's death the paper was leased by Luther J. Yarbrough and C.L. Veatch who operated it for about a year.
Harry Wise secured the paper from the Shannon estate and edited it for about a year when C. H. Cook, of Winder, took over, operating it through 19365 when Mrs. Trawick purchased it from the Shannon estate. She was editor and publisher until she sold The Commerce News on December 1, 1943 to Albert S. Hardy, Jr., of Gainesville, who has recently completed his fifth year as editor and publisher.
The Commerce News has won two first places during the past three years in contests of the Georgia Press Association. In 1946 your home town paper was awarded first place in the Sam Wilkes contest for having the best displayed advertising of any newspaper in Georgia and this year The News won first place in the W.G. Sutlive contest for outstanding community service. The silver cup is now on display at The News office.
The Commerce Observer was a splendid newspaper. It was owned and published by
Paul T. Harber from December, 1909 to July, 1922, some twelve and a half years. This paper together with The Commerce News gave Commerce at this period a wide range of publicity. It was during this time that the State Press Association was held and royally entertained at Commerce.
Mr. Harber is a natural publicity man and added much force and vitality to our city's progress. He was quite active in the New York to Atlanta auto tours in 1909 and 1910. He publicized the Four County Fair in a great way.
Since discontinuing his paper, Mr. Harber has been engaged in publicity work in Florida and Georgia. For awhile he was connected with the United States Chamber of Commerce and in various other places, with other agencies, has had opportunity of employing his talent. He is now the efficient secretary of the Chamber of Commerce at Cartersville, Ga. Mr. Harber was born and reared at Harmony Grove and has made contributions to this history.
The newspaper is the recognized advertising agency for a town and community and is an invaluable asset. The weekly press is the barometer of the progress of our towns. Our newspapers of Harmony Grove-Commerce have in a reasonable way measured up to this standard and must have the cooperation of the citizens if they are to reach their highest service.
ATHLETICS, SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES BASEBALL
Baseball Played in Mother-Hubbards
A few years after the depot was built, the town men and boys had a baseball ground at the present site of Spencer Park. There were no streets around the park in those days. Occasion-ally a ball was knocked over the rail fence which enclosed Mr. Hood's cornfield. If this should happen today the ball would go into the yards of the Andersons, the Sanders, or the Funeral Home, or down Pine Street.
The town men bantered the school boys for a match game and proposed that the town men would play in mother-hubbards, the new style house dress of that day. The match was on and the game opened. Such a flapping and a slipping and a ripping and a tripping was never witnessed as the town men ran the bases and attempted to catch fly balls. The game waxed hot. The school boys finally won the game but the town men had the most fun. It is safe to say that the mother-hubbards were not afterwards fit for house use. This game was unique and unusual. It was probably the only mother-hubbard base-ball game in history.
Baseball in the Period, 1875-1883
This was the initial period in which baseball began to supplant cat-ball, town-ball and bull-pen. Baseball clubs were organized in the country communities as well as in the towns, such as Harmony Grove and Jefferson. Match games were played every- Saturday afternoon. Teams took various picturesque names. The "I.X.L.'s" were from Hix in upper Madison County; the "Clippers" from around Nicholson; the "Lone Star" teams from Banks County and the "Pop'n Goes" from Crawford. The crack teams of this section were the Winterville and Crawford teams, who frequently played Harmony Grove. Harmony Grove also played teams from other towns, also country clubs.
No masks, gloves or mitts were used. The catcher caught with naked hands. Pitchers were allowed only under hand delivery, which meant that the ball could not be delivered above the waist line. The batter was allowed to call for high, low or waist balls. He was allowed nine balls and four strikes. If he did not strike at the third strike "warning" was called and he was given another strike. Later on the number of balls was reduced to seven and then to five. The curved ball was developed about 1883 and near that same time overhand pitching was allowed. Some of the scores around 1880 were: Winterville 42; Harmony Grove 14; Harmony Grove 97; Lone Star 3.
Lone Star then disbanded and joined the Harmony Grove team.
The game developed rapidly from 1882 to 1890 and is described in a vivid manner by P.T. Harber in his special article.
One interesting thing about the small area known as Williamstown was that in the early days from 1875 to 1895 this land was covered with rather large old field pines which ex-tended up near the Baptist Church. In this old pine forest was located a group of three, or four, large spreading Spanish oaks about what is now the lower end of Scott Street. Under these majestic oaks was furnished a place for the large school boys to spout their oratory and practice speeches, wrestling contests, "tote over the mark" and occasionally a fisticuff.
In 1891 the first lawn tennis court was located at this spot under the shade of the spreading oaks. T.C. Hardman, recently returned from college, organized a stock company of ten young professional and business men who would take a share of $1.50, making a total of $15.00 with which a net and four rackets were purchased and enough lime to lay out the court.
This corporation, limited, was finally merged into a larger group and the court was moved up to the High School ground and continued at various locations in town. This was the beginning of lawn tennis in Harmony Grove.
THE COMMERCE CITY BASEBALL TEAM
MEMBER OF NORTHEAST GEORGIA BASEBALL LEAGUE 1919 TO 192I
This league was made up of the following teams: Commerce, Cornelia, Buford, Gainesville, Royston and Lavonia. Most of the players were hired by the month. Sometimes professional players were employed and special pitchers were imported at the price of $60.00 to $100.00 a game.
The local team was sponsored by a stock company of underwriters who paid in some $2,500.00 to $3,000.00. The proceeds from the game were profitable for awhile but later failed to pay expenses, especially when the team was in the lower bracket. After two seasons the league was disbanded.
The team that had the most money led the league. As I remember the Buford team, sponsored by John Allen, with plenty of cash, led the league and probably
Gainesville was next.
Commerce had some good players, among them as pitchers were Jack Coombs, of Locust Grove, with his wide sweeping curves, and Izzy Marks with his emery ball. They were able to baffle the batters. Vandergriff of Alabama and Carmady were the catchers. Bill Caldwell was the chief fan cheerleader and Uncle John G.H. Pittman was among the enthusiastic spectators. He was always on hand and was an enthusiastic fan. The usual attendance at these games was from 800 to 1,200.
This was sometimes referred to as the million dollar league.
COMMERCE NEWS, JULY 13, 1945
By Paul T. Harber
Publication of The News story, telling how some of Commerce's old-timers pointed out the many worthwhile achievements of the Board of Trade which functioned effectively thirty years or more, has provoked considerable comment relative to the progress of Harmony Grove and young Commerce, which acquired its new name by an act of the General Assembly of Georgia in 1903.
According to some of the elder citizens, who are exceedingly proud of their
accomplishments in the years ago, Harmony Grove was known far and wide as a leading baseball town with outstanding teams year after year. Pete Grey, the popular one-armed professional, was not in the class with Harmony Grove's one-armed Bob Quillian, whose fast curved balls baffled the leading hitters of Georgia and adjoining states and whose record strike-outs in one nine-inning game was 24.
Back in those days, say the old-timers, Harmony Grove met all corners in baseball and generally walked away with the cake. There were Scott Jackson, Jim Gregory, Lint Rhodes, Allen, George, and Branham Rice, Claud Little, John D. Barnett, George Hubbard and others whose baseball skill was equal to professionals.
In later years came Cliff Barber, Sam Edwards, John Harber, John Cooper, Stoy
Jackson and such outstanding players to maintain the prestige of the new town of
Commerce. John Harber was a 400 hitter at Mercer University, a brilliant short
stop, who later played league baseball. John Cooper was a star second baseman for Georgia in his college days. Old-timers say that all these players were tops.
When an opposing team was considered extra strong, Harmony Grove would get Tas Short, Pete and Sam Wilson, the Porterfield boys, Bob Hogg, Tom David, Guy Boyd, Charley McCurdy, and the Beussee brothers of Athens, Tom Dunn and other noted players from other places, to take places in the line-up. Sometimes 1,500 or more people turned out for the games. Stores and places of business closed for the afternoon when a hot series was being played. Yes, say old-timers, "We inaugurated what is now known as the half-holiday." At Commencement time there were three big days. Everybody in all the territory enjoyed the contests.
The new generation permitted baseball to slip away much to the community's
disadvantage. Many of the new customs of the years ago have been discarded for
new-fangled things that don't amount to much. Even the high school in those days
put out excellent teams. There were no 4-H's and Home Economics in those times.
Boys played baseball, went swimming in creeks, worked on farms, around warehouses, in the home garden, hauled and cut wood, and kept busy at many things. There were no drug store cowboys, pale-faced ice cream eaters and sandaled babies. That's what the old boys say about the glorious past of this community.
Commerce staged a barbecue that attracted 2,000 or more people from all the surrounding country. It was given in honor of those who gave their trade to Commerce. Let the new generation attempt such an event (after the war) and see how they perform. Big things were undertaken, say the boys born back in the days, before the Spanish-American War.
Sam Jones, the great evangelist, Tom Watson, the sage of McDuffie, Governor Bob Taylor of Tennessee, the South's noted orator, and fiddler, and other equally famous lecturers and entertainers were brought here under the auspices of the Commerce Lyceum Course. Commerce cooperated with Jefferson to bring William Jennings Bryan to Jackson County. The great commoner spoke at the court house at the county seat. Big things were the order of the day. "What's the score these days" asked the old-timers?
Commerce's two banks were established way back when Harmony Grove claimed the
Northeastern Banking Company which was organized in 1892. The First National,
organized in 1904, just did miss getting in the Harmony Grove record. Those men
back there had vision and courage and confidence, declare the men of those days, when gold collar buttons were in style and high-top elastic shoes. The beautiful
women wore long-sleeved dresses, long skirts, high button shoes and pompadour
hair, but no women on earth surpassed them for beauty. Such banks, such men,
such women! "Can the young men of today match the record of their grandfathers?
Can the midriff brigade match the grandmothers of yesterday?"-ask the pre-Spanish-American War fold.
What's more, Commerce had a modern hospital with a staff of physicians and nurses. Patients came from all over the country around and from distant cities, including Atlanta, for medical attention and surgical operations.
Harmony Grove Mill was the product of the real days too. It was home-spun and home-owned, the first cloth coming off the looms in 1894. Don't underrate the men of yesterday who had the courage and vision to start a cotton textile mill fifty-one years ago right here in Harmony Grove.
On and on the old-timers go, proudly pointing to yesteryear when men were really he-men. One of the historians said, "Get the date when every church building, bank, mill, store and warehouse was constructed. It will amaze you to learn how many of our present structures were erected prior to 1905."
Thus, fellow citizens, there is the challenge. Old-timers expect and hope that the newer generation will carry on in a manner worthy of their forebears, gathering inspiration from those who labored effectively in the days when there were no paved highways, radios, automobiles, picture shows and miscellaneous contraptions characteristic of recent years. A hustling growing, liveable Commerce-the product of North-east Georgia-would be a fitting monument to the memory of those pioneers who built well back in the days prior to and just after the turn of the century.
SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Trap Shooting and Hunting
Trap shooting had two periods of popular practice as a pastime. It was introduced in Harmony Grove about 1888 and continued for a few years. This sport consisted of shooting clay pigeons thrown from a spring trap. These traps, three in number, were placed some 15 feet in front of the gunman. The pigeon in the trap was released by a string, or wire, and scaled out at about a 30 degree angle to some 50 yards distance. Not knowing which trap would be released, the gunner must be on the alert. Each participant took five or ten shots in turn. After some practice-a good shot could break 18 or more out of 20. This sport was revived again 20 years later when "Polly" Poulain, a sporting cotton buyer, was in his prime. The shooting field was located near a branch in W. A. Quillian's pasture. Occasionally live quails were turned out of a box.
Quail hunting has been popular in this section ever since the breech loading shot gun came into use in 1883. In the older days of Harmony Grove it was not unusual for a party of two or three to bag 40 or 50 birds in a days hunt. That was when birds were plentiful and the hunters could find 8 or 10 coveys a day. There was no license required and no limitation to the number bagged. Hunting of other kinds of game was popular. Sometimes big rabbit hunts were planned during Christmas week. A crowd would gather together ten or twelve dogs and kill 75 to 100 rabbits and have a rabbit barbecue.
Then the squirrel shooting, 'possum, coon and fox hunting have held their devotees. Of late the fox chase and 'possum hunting seem to have returned with renewed interest. Some of the local boys deal in 'possum dogs and delight in the night ramble for the "old slick tail." Ask Elmer.
Fishing, Ponds and Lakes
Fishing is an age-old sport as well as a trade. Our citizens through the decades have excelled in the art of decoying the finny tribe. From the days when Joe Eckles, Steve Hawks, John Dale and Dick Eckles, of the old Harmony Grove period, spent days and nights baiting and hooking "suckers," to the present time, fishing has been a popular pastime. Our fishing population has not been one whit behind other sections in claiming the number and size of fish they have caught in times past or in narrating superlative fish tales. Making due allowance for the proverbial fish stories we really have several expert fishermen who know how to decoy the scaley tribe of every kind, all the way from the sluggish catfish to the game rainbow trout. We have among our many expert fishermen one who enjoys a state wide reputation for his ability to decoy and catch the wily rainbow trout and other smart game fish. T.F.(Tot) Harden is tops.
Fish ponds have been common in this section for half a century. About that time the government began to furnish free fish stock for the ponds. Of late years interest in fish ponds has increased. The average size of fish ponds has been enlarged. They are now dignified by the name of lakes. Originally the fish pond covered about an acre or two. Now the lakes cover an area from five to twenty acres. They are on the increase in number and size.
For quite awhile swimming pools were popular in Commerce, but now they seem to have lost some of their interest. K.N. Sharp built the first public swimming pool near his home about forty years ago and received good patronage. Later the Wilbanks pool three miles from town was used for several years. Some twelve years ago the city built a concrete pool in Willoughby Park which was very popular for several years but of late has been used only by the young folks and the children.
This exercise is an old custom and has been popular with some in all times. In the Harmony Grove era some young men, with their riding boots and whips, escorted the young ladies in their attractive riding habits, using the side-saddles, and enjoyed a late afternoon canter of a few miles in the country. There seemed to be a subsidence of interest after the auto age arrived. However in the very recent years, business men of means seem to have become enamored of this form of outing. A number of business men of Commerce who are able to own and to feed a saddle horse, either a walker or a three gaiter, find pleasure in riding over the fields and through the woods • and along the streams, whenever they can find an old road or path. This is one of the oldest forms of recreation and pleasure.
EQUESTRIAN ROSTER OF COMMERCE
Dwight Barber Mose Gordon
W. N. Harden Charles M. Sanders
R. M. Davidson C. W. Hood, Jr.
J. B. Elrod A. D. Bolton
Golfing is a more recent game which has displaced such games as marbles, croquet, midget golf, and lawn tennis. This modern sport is supposed to be especially for professional and business men, as a means of recreation, exercise and diversion. It seems to provide all of these elements. Commerce has for some twenty years had a golf club. The first golf course was located on the Harden farm some four miles from town, but later the club built a more suitable course and a more splendid one on the farm of F.H. Williamson, one and one-half miles out on the Jefferson Highway. This course is said to be one of the best in this section as to beauty and location.
The Commerce Golf Club has some excellent players and they occasionally entertain tournaments and match games from neighboring clubs.
Commerce Country Club was organized March 1945. J.E. Jarrell, President, L.W. McDonald, Secretary-Treasurer.
Dr. Paul T. Scoggins is present President. Following is a list of members:
A. D. Bolton L. G. Hardman, Jr. Jim McGill
H. F. Bray Joe E. Hardman Richard Nix
Charles Castleberry W. H. Hardman W. J. Porter
R. M. Davidson Albert Hardy R. F. Powers
V. L. Davis James Hope Horace Prickett
F. E. Durst Jake Howington A. A. Rogers
Martha Ella Gordon J. E. Jarrell Paul T. Scoggins
H. R. Harber A. S. Johnson T. J. Syfan
Vincent Henderson Hardman Jones F. H. Williamson, Jr.
Tommy Hanley L. W. McDonald L. 0. Williams
PATRIOTIC, CIVIC AND FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS
COMMERCE CHAPTER AMERICAN RED CROSS
This chapter, the first and largest in Jackson County, was organized in 1916 with the following officers: Mrs. T.C. Hardman, Chairman; Mrs. M.F. Nelms, Vice-Chairman; Mrs. A.B. Deadwyler, Secretary and Home Service Chairman; and Miss Lillian Pittman, Treasurer.
This organization has performed in an efficient way the purpose of its institution to supply relief in cases of disaster and to those who are in need of food and clothing. This chapter distributed flour and clothing from the Government to people without employment. On occasion of fires and storms they gave immediate help.
During the war periods the chapter established sewing rooms and accepted allotments of surgical and garment material and made them up for war needs, and conducted courses in first aid and in nursing.
The Home Service Chairman of this chapter was very active in giving information and aid to those who were in service.
The Commerce Chapter has always exceeded its quota in the annual drives as the citizens of Commerce always responded liberally to the cause.
Mrs. A.B. Deadwyler served faithfully for thirty years as Secretary and Home
Service Chairman for the organization until her death in 1946. Mrs. C.W. O'Rear
has, since her death taken her place. Mrs. T.C. Hardman served one year as chairman until her death in 1917. Mr. T.C. Hardman succeeded to the Chairmanship and served twenty-five years. Miss Lillian Pittman served for a similar period as Treasurer. Succeeding T.C. Hardman as Chairman were H. P. Little, H.F. Bray, and Mack Barber, the present Chairman. Succeeding Miss Lillian Pittman as Treasurer were Miss Mae Sharp and Mrs. G.C. Hood, the present treasurer.
LUTHI-GILLESPIE POST, No. 93, AMERICAN LEGION
Preamble to the Constitution of The American Legion
"For God and Country, we associate ourselves together for the following
purposes: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America;
to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate a one hundred per cent
Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our association in the
Great War; to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state
and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses; to make
right the master of might; to promote peace and good will on earth; to safeguard
and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy; to
consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness."
If you are an honorably discharged veteran of either World War I or II, you
are eligible for membership in The American Legion. It is the world's largest
and most active veterans organization. It was formed by fighting men of the
A.E.F. in France in March, 1919. Now there are Posts in practically every
community throughout the nation.
The charter and organization of this Post was dated March 15, 1927. The
following were the charter members:
Willis N. Harden Robert W. Gardiner Aubrey Suddeth
W. O. Pruitt Talmadge F. Harden Coleman Eckles
A. T. Turner F. Style Carr A. D. Bolton
Lammie Sims Hubbard Harris E. M. Childs
Obe Pruitt Eric L. Hunt Harold C. Barnett
The Luthi-Gillespie Post, No. 93 has been active in and has fostered many
worthy causes. Among them are the Child's Welfare Program, Americanism Program,
the Boy's State Oratorical Contest (sent two boys for several years), the School
Patrols, American Legion Baseball, and relief in disaster. They sent all the
cash in the treasury and two trucks of clothing and food to Gainesville storm
This organization is in opposition to Communism and subversive elements. This
is the largest veterans organization in the history of the world.
Their present membership is 224 with the following officers:
F.H. Burns Commander
Thos. L. Cheatham Sr. Vice-Commander
Thomas McClure 1st Jr. Vice-Commander
W.A. Hix 2nd Jr. Vice-Commander
Leo O. Black 3rd Jr. Vice-Commander
O.S. Watts 4th Jr. Vice-Commander
John O. Richey 5th Jr. Vice-Commander
M. R. Barron Adjutant
Reagan Sanders Assistant Adjutant
Jim Nunn Service Officer
I.M. Tate Assistant Service Officer
E.L. Hunt Chaplain
L. Paul Judge Advocate
Dr. A.A. Rogers, Sr. Finance Officer
Clayton Hood Sergeant-at-Arms
AUXILIARY OF THE LUTHI-GILLESPIE POST No. 93 OF THE AMERICAN LEGION, COMMERCE, GA.
The Unit was organized, November I i, 1941. Names of charter members as listed on charter:
Mary Little Hoytie Langston
Thelma Harris Carr
Rachel B. Chandler
Lucy S. Tate
Bertha Luthi Harris
Willie Lou Page
Reine D. O'Rear
Louise D. Harden
Mattie Lou Carson
Iris Ayers Asbell
Annie Mae Foster
Purpose of the Auxiliary
The Auxiliary was formed for one purpose, to aid the Legion in carrying out
their program in the following activities: Rehabilitation of Disabled Veterans,
Child Welfare Activities, Educational Aid for Orphans of Veterans, Serving the
Local Community, Supporting Adequate National Defense.
We believe in the following ideas and principles: assisting in the care of
veterans of both World Wars, in the education and welfare of the children of all
veterans of all wars, the betterment and beautification of the community in
which we live, the advocation of a return to a greater spiritual influence in
the homes and lives of our people, a true spirit of fellowship and cooperation
with all people for world development.
The local unit has always cooperated with other civic organizations in Red
Cross Work, supported the bloodmobile, help secure scholarships, send yearly
gifts to veterans hospitals, and assisted in a financial way in the Christmas
parties. At the present time we are helping a French orphan.
The following ladies have served as Unit Presidents:
Mrs. H. P. Little 1941 to 1943
Mrs. A. A. Rogers 1943 to 1945
Mrs. W. B. Benton 1945 to 1946
Mrs. T. F. Harden 1946 to 1948
Mrs. J. H. Harris 1948 to
At the present time the Auxiliary has 62 active members, and two junior members.
MCCOY-BORDERS POST, No. 5279 VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES
The McCoy-Borders Post No. 5279 was organized at Commerce, Ga., on January
20, 1946. The Charter was issued with a total of 61 Charter Members.
Qualifications are: Veteran must have HONORABLE DISCHARGE or still be in
service. Must have Overseas Service In Defense of Our Country.
At the first meeting the members voted to name the Post in honor of two of
the first men, who fell in the Defense of Our Country, from Commerce. Regis
Borders and Ledford McCoy were the two chosen. Hence the name McCoy-Borders.
Officers were also elected at the first meeting. They are as follows:
Commander W. D. Bolton
Sr. Vice-Commander J. B. Wilburn
Jr. Vice-Commander William Harrison
Quartermaster William Sutton
Adjutant Elliot Moore
Chaplain George Harber
Officer of the Day Carlos Jackson
Service Officer Reagan Sanders
Sergeant-Major J. P. Sailors
Quartermaster-Sergeant Duard Baxter
Patriotic Instructor Scales Morris
Post Historian Reagan Sanders
Trustees Hugh D. Williams, Gordon Eubanks, Frank Hanley
Commander William Harrison
Sr. Vice-Commander Leo Black
Jr. Vice-Commander Sidney Johnston
Quartermaster William Sutton
Adjutant William Sutton
Chaplain Charles Fruit
Officer of the Day Hollis Catlett
Service Officer William Bolton
Sergeant-Major Alva Clark
Quartermaster-Sergeant James Harris
Patriotic Instructor Scales Morris
Post Historian Reagan Sanders
Trustees Hugh D. Williams, Thomas Cheatham, Frank Hood
Commander Kenneth Tucker
Sr. Vice-Commander John Richey
Jr. Vice-Commander R. Sanders
Quartermaster J. B. Elrod
Adjutant J. B. Elrod
Chaplam Charles Fruit
Officer of the Day Hollis Catlett
Service Officer William Bolton
Sergeant-Major William Harrison
Quartermaster-Sergeant William Sutton
Patriotic Instructor Scales Morris
Post Historian Reagan Sanders
Trustees Clayton Hood, Duard Baxter, George Harber
JAMES PITTMAN CHAPTER DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
The James Pittman Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution was organized
March 16, 1916 by Mrs. C.E. Pittman, organizing regent, appointed by the
National Society D.A.R., Washington, D.C.
The Chapter was named for James Pittman, a soldier from Virginia who settled
in Columbia County, Ga., thence to Madison County where he died. The following
were organizing members: Mrs. C.E. Pittman, Mrs. C.D. Stark, Mrs. C.C. Ward,
Mrs. M.F. Nelms, Mrs. M.T. Sanders, Mrs. J.T. Quillian. Mrs. C.A. Adams,
Mrs. H.A. Nix, Mrs. W.T. Bennett, Misses Allene and Annie Little, Reba
Pittman, Lillian Pittman, Claire and Maurine Anderson, Ida Bohannon, Cecil and
Lou Ona Little.
The following officers were elected: Mrs. C.E. Pittman, Regent; Mrs. M.F.
Nelms, Vice-Regent; Miss Claire Anderson, Recording-Secretary; Miss Lillian
Pittman, Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. C.C. Ward, Registrar; Miss Maurine
Anderson, Treasurer; Mrs. M.T. Sanders, Historian; and Dr. Gilbert Dobbs,
The object of the D.A.R. is to preserve the memory of its Revolutionary
patriots, to study its history, to educate its youth in patriotic ideals and in
the duties of citizenship.
It has been the purpose and effort of the James Pittman Chapter to set forth
and promote the aims of the National Society. The Chapter has been engaged in
patriotic work, such as furnishing scholarships to various schools, preserving
historic spots and other phases of patriotic education. Fifteen dollars was
contributed for a memorial chair to be placed in Constitution Auditorium in
honor of the Chapter.
The James Pittman Chapter has marked the graves of three Revolutionary
soldiers, two soldiers of the War of 1812. It has promoted the observance of
Armistice Day and given a flag to the school and prizes each year to the pupil
in the school who makes the highest mark in United States History. It has also
given a prize to the grade that renders best a selected patriotic song.
The following have served as Regents of the Chapter: Mrs. C.E. Pittman, Mrs.
T.C. Hardman and Mrs. T.F. Harden. Mrs. Pittman is the present Regent. The
present membership is about forty.
J.E.B. STUART CHAPTER UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY
The J.E.B. Stuart Chapter U.D.C. was organized by a committee from Camp
John H. Morgan, U.C.V. No. 1330, on May 5, 1905 with thirty-one memmbers. The
following officers were elected: Mrs. Mary Bennett Sanders, President; Mrs.
R.L. Daughtry, Vice-President; Mrs. Dora Carson Deadwyler, Recording Secretary;
Mrs. Beulah Hightower Cooper, Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. Ophelia Maxwell
Quillian, Treasurer, and Mrs. May Goodwin Brown, Histroian.
G.L. Carson, First Lieutenant of Camp John H. Morgan, was asked to select a
name for the chapter. He bestowed the name J.E.B. Stuart in memory of James
Euell Brown Stuart, his commander in the Confederate Army.
The object of this organization is "to honor the memory of those who served
and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States; to erect monuments
to the heroes of the Confederacy; to fulfill the duties of grateful kindness
toward the survivors and those dependent upon them and to collect, compile and
preserve true and impartial Confederate history." The constitution declares the
object to be historical, educational, memorial, benevolent and social.
The J.E.B. Stuart Chapter has followed and promoted through the years since
its organization the programs and projects as outlined by the general
organization as well as many local activities.
In 1913 the chapter placed markers at eighteen graves of Confederate soldiers
in Grey Hill cemetery. Since that time other markers have been placed there.
Memorial Day has been regularly observed by appropriate programs and decorating
the soldiers' graves. Other activities include the bestowal of crosses of honor
on Confederate veterans and Crosses of Service on lineal descendants of
Confederate veterans who served in the World Wars; basket dinner given each
January 19th to the veterans of Camp Morgan and prizes each year to the pupil in
the Commerce school for the best essay on a subject pertaining to the
Confederacy; the erection of a monument in Memorial Park, owned by the chapter,
honoring the women and the veterans of the Confederate States and the planting
of a magnolia tree in memory of Mrs. Dora Carson Deadwyler.
Those who have served as President are: Mrs. Mary Bennett Sanders, Mrs. C.A.
Mize, Mrs. Minnie Barber Hardman, Mrs. C.E. Pittman, Mrs. C.C. Ward, Mrs. F.H. Williamson, Miss Claire Anderson, Mrs. E.G. Brock, and Mrs. A.B. Deadwyler.
Miss Claire Anderson is the present President and is serving the second time.
IN MEMORY OF GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE
Address by T. C. Hardman to the J. E. B. Stuart Chapter U.D.C., January 19, 1933
Today we celebrate the 126th anniversary- of the birth of General Robert E.
Lee. It is fitting that the memory of those great characters in history who have
represented great principles and stood for great causes should be perpetuated.
In our own nation, the life and work of George Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and all the colonial patriots are dear to every American citizen that loves liberty and civil and religious freedom.
General Robert E. Lee, whose memory we revere, comes of a long line of noble
sires whose family is entwined with the early history of the American colonies
and especially related and connected with Virginia history. We particularly know
and love the memory of these great men because of their intimate connection with
Southern ideals and Southern chivalry.
The memories of great men are perpetuated on account of varied
accomplishments, noble deeds in all lines of endeavor, in science, in
government, in discoveries, in progressive knowledge, but, perhaps, there is no
realm of endeavor so fruitful of honor and love a people bestows upon its heroes
as in patriotism and adherence to national ideals and in the defense and the
honor of one's home and one's country. We honor George Washington, the Father of
our Country, because he was "first in war, first in peace and first in the
hearts of his countrymen."
Men are remembered for the impress they have made upon the world. Caesar is
remembered because of his great intellect, leadership of men and statesmanship;
Hannibal as the great foe of Rome and for his devotion to Carthage; Napoleon
because of his great military genius and personal magnetism; Newton for his
great scientific discoveries; Shakespeare and Byron and Dickens for their
influence on the literature of the world; Washington and Kossuth for their
devotion to the cause of their country. But Robert E. Lee makes a wider appeal
to our admiration and loving memory of him.
He was at once a military leader of great ability, a patriot of the highest
type, a statesman broad in judgment, an educator of recognized ability, a
beloved leader and, above all, a Christian gentleman that typified the true
ideal of Southern man-hood.
General Lee was born in Stratford, Va., Jan. 19, 1807, the son of Henry Lee,
known as Light Horse Harry, who was a young commander of note in Washington's
army. He was a descendant of Thomas Lee who came to Virginia in its early
history. Light Horse Harry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, was first cousin to
Richard Henry and Francis Light-foot Lee, both signers of the Declaration of
Independence. Light Horse Harry was governor of Virginia and influential in its
General Lee had all the opportunities of station. He attended West Point,
graduating in 1829. He was noted in his service in the Mexican War. He married
Mary Curtis, great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, and was living at
Arlington Heights at the outbreak of secession. He was offered the command of
the Union Army by Lincoln, but having a conviction of his obligation to his own
state, he decided to offer his service to his native state.
General Lee was greatly opposed to slavery and secession and was greatly
disturbed by the dissolution of the Union, but expressed his views and
sentiments in the memorable words: "It will be a sad day when the Union is dissolved but if it can only be maintained by sword and bayonets in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, it has no charms for me. If the Union is dissolved and the government dispersed, I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people and, save in defense, draw the sword no more."
The life and influence of this great man, who is more and more attracting the
attention of the world, may be considered, at least, from four angles:
First, as a military leader, second as a patriot, third as a statesman,
fourth as a gentleman typical of the best ideals of the South.
Probably it will be out of the question to discuss the influence of his life
in all the realms mentioned in the brief time allotted. I shall only briefly
rehearse to you his record as a militry chieftain in the three years in which he
was in command of the army of Virginia and then direct your consideration to
what I deem the highest reach of this great man as a military leader.
The world has stood aghast in astounding admiration at the genius of one who
was able to carry on a struggle for a cause he believed in for over a period of
three years against such overwhelming odds. In the early part of the struggle he
acted as adviser to President Davis. His early military operations in West
Virginia were not very brilliant. In the summer of 1862 at the Battle of Seven
Pines, or Fair Oaks, Johnson having been severely wounded, Lee succeeded to the
command. In a few weeks, by skillful maneuvers, after seven days battle around
Richmond, he compelled McClellan to retreat, and finally to withdraw from the
Penninsula. By a masterly handling of his army, aided by the renowned Stonewall
Jackson, he overwhelmed Pope's army at the second Manassas. Invading Maryland,
he again met McClellan at Sharpesburg, or Antietam, where his advance was
checked. Withdrawing into Virginia, he completely blocked and defeated Burnside
at Fredericksburg in Dec. 1862.
After a winter of recuperation of both armies, Hooker having succeeded
Burnside, Lee met him on the bloody field of Chancellorsville and completely
routed his army, but with the irreparable loss of Jackson. He drove Hooker out
of Virginia and continued his advance with the invasion of the North. He met the
Northern army, under command of Meade, at Gettysburg July 1, 2, 3, of 1863, in
which the Federals succeeded in repulsing his attack. Retiring to Virginia, his
army was not engaged during the remaining part of the year.
In the spring of '1864 he successfully withstood the onslaughts of Grant's
army, numbering three to his one. From the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold
Harbor and finally around Richmond and Petersburg he held the army of Grant at
bay and in the march to Richmond Grant's losses were equal to the total of Lee's
His emaciated army, without food or clothing, he finally surrendered at
Appomattox April 9, 1865.
As an index to the honor and respect his foes had for him, General Grant
declined to accept the sword of Lee and permitted Lee's officers to retain their
swords and sidearms. If there was any reflection on his character, or aspersions
cast on his good name it was not by those who, as foes, met him in battle, but
by those unprincipled politicians who sought to disgrace and destroy the South.
In the world's history every crisis in national life has its peculiar
characteristics. In the American Revolution the dominating principle was
liberty, civil and religious freedom. The keynote was sounded by Patrick Henry
in his ardent and immortal peroration: "I know not what course others may take,
but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."
The French Revolution was a result of the extravagance and oppression of the
ruling class. In the uprising of the War of 1812, the chief concern was the
honor and integrity of our nation and the demand for national rights.
The prevailing feeling was expressed when our envoys to France were insulted
with a dishonorable proposition. The answer was, "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute."
The conflict of the sixties came about amid a different atmosphere and
ideals. The predominating spirit in this era was the rights of property, the
sanctity of the home, the respect for the father and mother in the home, a great
respect and high esteem for womanhood, and the strong attachment for local
states rights. Amid these conditions of national crises it is but natural that
many leaders and writers should express the drift of thought and life. This was
indeed an era of idealism in government, in religion and in the home. This
idealism must find its expression in the lives and spirit of its leaders.
General Lee was a marvelous type of his day, gentle, kind, highminded,
brilliant, strong, conscientious. It is no wonder that he said that "duty is the sublimest word in the English language."
In all the strife of war, battle and carnage, he never once lost his high
sense of justice and right and his love and tender care for his followers.
This nation will probably never fully appreciate how much credit is due this
great leader, whose influence went a long way to ameliorate the spirit of hatred
and animosity between the sections of our country. His bearing, following the
surrender of the South, was both dignified and conciliatory. He enjoyed the
respect and love of all of his soldiers. To the humble soldier and to the Negro
servant alike, he was "Marse Robert." To his subordinates in the army he was the considerate, wise leader and commander.
General Lee, was, possibly, not superior in military tactics and generalship
to the Johnsons, and did not have the daring execution of a Jackson, but the
marvel of his career was the combining of every great and noble quality
unequaled in the annals of history.
If we are today to draw a lesson from this great and noble life, it is
because he typified the best thought and life of the day, when homes were sacred
and the family was what God intended it to be.
I believe there is no period in world's history, or place on God's earth,
when and where there was a higher standard of manhood and womanhood maintained,
and when the Christian life was the standard of integrity.
It is worthy that we shall preserve in memory the life and deeds of one who
so fittingly represents this period.
Today, after a lapse of seventy years, the world has moved into a different
atmosphere, to the machine age where individuality is submerged in the whirl of
machinery and the "forgotten man" is in the majority; when chivalry and personal qualities are obliviated in the modern theory of technocracy.
The danger of modern progress is the loss of the finer qualities of character. The "flapper" of the present day displaces the modest and queenly"young lady" of the sixties. The sterling qualities and integrity of the men of the 19th century is lost in the mechanical operations, manipulations, mergers and mad rush for gain in the 20th century.
It is a worthy purpose for your organization to undertake the perpetuation of
the principles of the old South and we are fortunate in having the ideal hero of
such a worthy cause.
THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The local Chamber of Commerce was organized in this city on July 261 1945,
when a large group of business men met in the city hall and formulated plans for
F.E. Durst, Jr., was elected President; Dr. Paul T. Scoggins,
Vice-President; Albert S. Hardy, Jr., Secretary and James E. Jarrell, Treasurer.
In addition to the officers the Board of Directors included Mose Gordon, R.M.
Davison, Howell P. Little, C.W. Hood, Jr., and A.D. Bolton. Forty-seven
merchants of the city became charter members of the organization.
The work of the trade body was carried on by the officers until January 1946
when J. Mac Barber, who had recently returned to Commerce after service in the
Army Air Force, was elected Executive Secretary. Offices were established above
the Piedmont Cafe.
An airport survey was conducted under the auspices of the Chamber and
representatives of the Civil Aeronautics Authority were invited to Commerce to
inspect proposed airports.
A labor survey was fostered by the organization and cards sent to potential
employees throughout the section. The survey showed that there were more than
1,200 skilled and unskilled persons who desired employment in this city. The
information has been of value to the organization in its attempts to secure new
The organization brought the local merchants closer together working for the
common good of all, and stores of the city agreed to close at one o'clock on
Wednesday afternoons throughout the summer months.
As a result of the work of Secretary Barber and directors of the organization
contracts were awarded by the State High-way Department for the paving of the
Commerce-Carnesville Highway in June 1946, the paving of the
Commerce-Maysville-Gillsville Highway in August and the resurfacing of the
Athens-Commerce Highway pavement in August of the same year. The Chamber
assisted in the securing of rights of way on the Commerce-Gillsville Highway and
the Secretary made many trips and had numerous conferences with Highway officials.
Mr. Barber decided to pursue his education at the University of Georgia under
the G.I. Bill and was succeeded by F.X. Credle of Parson, West Virginia, who
took over the duties as Executive Secretary on April 1, 1947.
Working with the directors, a 65-point of activity was worked up by Mr.
Credle and adopted by the local Chamber. Among the objectives were elimination
of reckless driving in Commerce, Clean-Up and Paint-Up campaign, assignment of a
city police within the school zone for safety of the children and extension of
the city sewerage system. All the above program was presented to the city
council and was favorably adopted and put into effect with the prospect and
plans for early extension of the sewerage system.
Also a modern bus station was secured by contact with the parties interested,
whereby the station was moved from the rear of the Commerce Drug Company to the
corner of North Broad and Jefferson Streets. This organization also fostered the
formation of a credit body for local merchants.
The organization moved into new offices in June 1947 and now has a small
auditorium, nicely equipped with steel chairs for their monthly meetings.
Mr. Credle was instrumental in starting a movement to secure a federal
designated route through Commerce. He made many trips to cities along the route
from Smoky Mountain National Park, by the Okefenokee Swamp, into Florida, and
secured their cooperation.
The Suwanee River Highway Assocation was the outgrowth of his initiative and
with the organization of different cities interested have recently succeeded in
getting an extension of Federal Route 441 from Fargo through Homerville,
Pearson, Jacksonville, Ca.; McRae, Dublin, Irwinton, Milledgeville, Eatonton,
Madison, Athens, ;Commerce, Homer, Cornelia, thence through Clayton into
Cincinnati and Detroit. The route has been designated as the Uncle Remus Route
in memory of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus Stories.
New officers were elected in April 1948 and W.M. Veal, prominent Commerce
druggist, now heads the organization. Other officers include W.M. (Bill)
Hendricks, Vice-President, W.D. Bolton, Secretary, H. Odell Williams,
Treasurer. Directors of the local Chamber include H.F. Bray, F.E. Durst, Jr.,
Albert S. Hardy, Jr., R.M. Davison, James H. Hope, W.L. Smith, and Reagan
The organization has recently secured improved mail and express service to
the city and a new bus line.
THE LIONS CLUB
The Lions Club of Commerce was organized in the old Central Hotel on June 21,
1940 with the following as Charter members: H.F. Anthony, C.H. Beard, C.W.
Chandler, M.B. Clinkscales, C.U. Franks, Hubert Franks, David Hendrix, Sam
Hood, James L. Hope, James E. Jarrell, C.H. Montgomery, R.E. Moore, John I.
Renka, Jr., Dr. Paul T. Scoggins, Cellar Stark, T.J. Syfan, Irven M. Tate, J.J. Venable, Dr. J.C. Verner, H. Odell Williams and C.O. Wood.
Dr. Paul T. Scoggins was the first President and T.J. Syfan first and only
Secretary the club has had; James E. Jarrell, First Vice-President and Dr. J.C.
Verner, Second Vice-President; C.H. Beard, Tail Twister.
This club is one of the new civic organizations of Commerce and has been very
active in sponsoring public welfare interests and has contributed probably more
to the schools and athletics than any other organization. They have been wide
awake and have not let any opportunity escape their vigilance. These young men
are loyal to every forward looking enterprise and their generosity is deeply
appreciated by the citizens of Commerce. May their tribe increase.
Among other things the club has sponsored the following:
Trade campaign among merchants
Lighting of the ball field at the grammar school
Grading football field and building concrete seats.
Donated $750.00 to high school for sound equipment in high school.
Donated $275.00 a year for several years to lunch room program at grammar school
Donated playground equipment for grammar school
Contributed to and entered into all worthwhile civic projects.
THE COMMERCE KIWANIS CLUB
The local Kiwanis Club was chartered on August 28, 1925 by District Governor
W.W. Munday. W.H. Wrighton was the first President and F.E. Durst the first
The following were signers of the original charter petition: J.B. Hardman,
W.B. Rice, F.E. Durst, A.B. Deadwyler, G.L. Hubbard, W.H. Wrighton, B.M.
Durham, W.N. Harden, C.W. Hood, Jr., C.W. O'Rear, C.C. Ward, R.C. Nix, C.M. Scoggins, N.B. Lord, C.L. Veatch, Claud Montgomery, George T. Rice, A.D.
Harris, T.H. Davis, P.A. Hughes, L.L. Davis, A.D. Bolton, and Dr. A.A. Rogers.
Rev. W.H. Wrighton was the first President and J.B. Hardman was the second.
The rules of the club require a change of President each year. Roscoe F. Powers
is the President for 1948. Harvey F. Bray has served as Secretary consecutively
since 1934. Mr. Bray has rendered efficient service through the years and is
considered one of the best secretaries in the Georgia District of Kiwanis
The Commerce Kiwanis Club has for more than twenty years ministered to and
encouraged the development of the town and community on a plane in keeping with
the objects set forth in their constitution to promote the application of a
higher social, business and professional standard. These have tended to a more
intelligent, aggressive and serviceable citizenship, which has resulted in the
maintenance of a high idealism and good will.
The Club has maintained its interest from the beginning in community affairs
and has enlarged its membership.
The Boy Scouts were organized in Commerce in 1919 by Rev. J.E. Ellis and R.L. Sanders with Mr. Sanders as Scout Master. He served faithfully for ten or
twelve years. This Troop was local and independent, functioning some twelve
years, and reached a total membership of 35. After the lapse of a few years the
Scouts were reorganized and sponsored by the Commerce Kiwanis. This Troop became
a member of the national organization and was known as Troop 35 of the Piedmont
District of Northeast Georgia Council, Inc.
The Cub Scouts, ages from 10 to 12, were later organized and are sponsored by
the Commerce Lions Club.
The Senior Scout Outfit was organized in 1948 with ten members and Rev. C. W.
Fuitt as Adviser. These older boys, ages 16 to 18, plan their own programs and
largely train themselves. Senior Scouting is designed to bring out the physical,
mental, moral and spiritual well being of the boy as he grows into manhood. This
Troop has 15 members with Rev. Robert Marshman as Adviser.
The regular Scouts, Troop No. 35, has 42 members, ages 12 to 16. DeWitt Hill
is Scout Master and Farris Hubbard is Assistant Scout Master.
The Boy Scout organization is for the purpose of training and their pledge
is: "I pledge myself on my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
THE COMMERCE WOMAN'S IMPROVEMENT CLUB
The Woman's Improvement Club of Commerce was organized on the last Tuesday of
March, 1912. On this date Mrs. H.C. White, President of the Georgia Federation
of Women's Clubs, and Mrs. M.A. Lipscomb of Athens, met with a group of
Commerce women for the purpose of organizing a club. There were nineteen women
present. The following are the names as appear on the minutes of this meeting:
Mrs. C.J. Hood, Mrs. W.W. Stark, Mrs. Claud Montgomery, Mrs. H.R. Harber,
Mrs. J.J. Harber, Mrs. L.G. Hardman, Mrs. E.B. Watson, Mrs. C.W. Hood, Mrs.
J.H. Williford, Mrs. M.F. Nelms, Mrs. C.W. Cooper, Mrs. Leatus Sanders, Mrs.
R.L. Sanders, Mrs. Luke Davis, Mrs. C.E. Pittman, Mrs. T.C. Pittman, Mrs. J.J. Sheppard, Mrs. J. T. Quillian and Mrs. J.L. Dale. These constituted the
membership enrollment. By the end of the club year there was a membership of fifty.
Naming the Club
The initial idea was to organize a Mothers Club to study and discuss
questions relative to the child and the home. In addition, the idea of a civic
club had been presented to the Commerce women by P.T. Harber, enterprising
editor and publisher of the Commerce Observer and member of the Commerce Board
of Trade, in an article "Why Commerce Should Have a Woman's Civic Club." After discussion, it was decided to enlarge the purpose of the organization to embrace the improvement of the town and the cultural improvement of the members as well as the home. Since the main idea of the organization was "improvement" the name
Commerce Woman's Improvement Club was adopted.
Activities of the Club
The first project was the inauguration of a Clean-Up Campaign for the town,
two each year, one in spring and one in the fall. This program was maintained
for several years. Other activities included: trash cans provided for the city;
the maintenance of a rest room at the Four County Fair, also for the city for a
time; beautifying and partial upkeep of school grounds, cemetery and Spencer
Park, and plantings of shrubbery and flowers along the railroad right of way, in
parks and other places in town. Donations were made to the school library and
other departments. Health campaigns were inaugurated in the interest of the
school and the community. Lectures and programs were sponsored on the subjects
of health, education, citizenship, public welfare, child welfare, music, art,
literature, and international relations. A lot on South Broad Street was
purchased and in 1938 a club house building was erected and partly equipped at a
cost of about $ 10,000.00. Funds were raised by operation of a candy kitchen at
the Four County Fair, ice cream festivals, plays put on by home talent,
banquets, benefit parties, sponsoring lectures, lyceum courses and
entertainments of various kinds, oyster suppers and many other ways and means.
Those who have served as President are as follows:
Mrs. J.L. Gale, Mrs. M.F. Nelms, Mrs. J.J. Harber, Mrs. L.G. Hardman,
Mrs. T.C. Hardman (Nelms), Mrs. Claud Montgomery, Mrs. A.A. Rogers, Mrs. W.
Stark, Mrs. T.F. Harden, Mrs. C.E. Pittman, Mrs. W.M. Veal, present
President. Total membership, 1949, is 100.
In 1913 the Commerce Woman's Improvement Club was federated with the General
Federation of Women's Clubs and has been a regular contributor to Tallulah Falls
School, which is owned and supported- by The Georgia Federation of Women's
Clubs. The Commerce Club has contributed to other educational causes fostered by
the State and General Federation.
THE COMMERCE GARDEN CLUB
In September 1928 a group of Commerce women met in the home of Mrs. V.L.
Davis and were directed by Mrs. W.D. Hooper, of Athens, in the organization of
the Garden Club.
Mrs. Hooper was Chairman of Admissions to the Garden Club of Georgia, into
which the Commerce Garden Club was granted admission November 15, 1929.
According to the constitution the object of the organization is "to foster a love for gardening through a more intelligent understanding of the methods and requirements of horticulture, and to express the same in the development of home gardens and the furthering of city beautification." "Any resident of Commerce or its environs actively interested in gardening is eligible for membership."
The following named-and possibly others-are thought to have been present at
the first meeting with Mrs. V.L. Davis: Mrs. R.L. Black, Mrs. E.G. Brock,
Mrs. A.B. Deadwyler, Mrs. B.M. Durham, Mrs. Sam Edwards, Mrs. T.C. Hard-man,
Sr., Mrs. T.C. Hardman, Jr., Mrs. A.F. Hood, Mrs. C.J. Hood, Mrs. Ernest
Jackson, Mrs. R.C. Nix, Mrs. W.W. Prickett, Mrs. M.C. Roberts, Mrs. G.T.
Rice, Mrs. W.B. Rice, Mrs. T. J. Syfan, Mrs. W. W. Stark, Mrs. C.W. Truitt,
Mrs. J.C. Verner, Mrs. H.C. Williamson, Mrs. W.O. Willi-ford, Mrs. W.Y.
Harber, Miss Grace Hood.
The club has contributed to the social and cultural life of the community and
has done much toward its beautification. It has been instrumental in securing
specialists to present excellent programs on practically every phase of
horticulture. Classes in the growing, preservation, and cooking of foods, in
flower arrangement and in interior decoration have been sponsored.
Landscape architects have directed plantings on the grounds of churches,
schools, the cemetery and the Municipal Rose garden.
Flower shows have been featured annually. Mrs. V.L. Davis was most
instrumental in the organization of the club. She was its first president and
has been drafted for that service at least two other terms. Mrs. Fred
Williamson, Sr., is now president. Others who have served in that capacity are
Mrs. C.W. Truitt, Miss Grace Hood, Mrs. A.A. Rogers, Sr., Mrs. T.F. Harden,
Mrs. Florence Kendall Hood, Mrs. John Hood, Mrs. P.T. Scoggins and Mrs. T.A.
THE STUDY CLUB
On September 25th, 1936, a group of ladies who enjoyed reading met at the
home of Mrs. L.G. Hardman, Jr., for the purpose of organizing a Book Club. Much
interest was shown among those present and Mrs. L.G. Hardman was appointed
temporary Chairman and Mrs. A.A. Rogers, temporary Secretary of this group.
Mrs. T.C. Hardman and Mrs. C.W. Hood, Jr., were asked to serve on the
It was decided that the club should meet once each month and that dues should
be paid, to be used for the purchase of new books. At the close of the meeting
the following officers were elected: Mrs. L.G. Hardman, President; Mrs. John
Hood, Vice-President; Mrs. Noel McConnell, Secretary and Treasurer; Mrs. L.G.
Hardman, Jr., and Mrs. A.A. Rogers, Program Committee.
The first meeting of the newly organized club was held at the home of Mrs. L.G. Hardman on Tuesday, October 13, 1936 with thirteen members present. It was
unanimously decided that the club should be called "The Study Club."
From the beginning this small group felt that they had organized not just for
their personal pleasure, but for the purpose of furthering the cultural
interests of the town. In November 1936 they invited Mrs. Emma Garrett Morris of
Atlanta to come to Commerce and review Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind."
The public was invited to this review. At a later date Mr. Elmer Ransom of
Augusta spoke to the Club and Mrs. Robert Church of Atlanta has reviewed books
on several occasions for the Club and invited guests.
The books that the Study Club bought were made available to the public but
the need for a Public Library was felt so keenly by this group, they decided to
start a drive for library funds to which the citizens responded very generously.
Mayor Howell P. Little and members of the City Council offered a room in the
City Hall and so in June 1946 the Study Club very proudly opened the doors of
the town's first public library and invited the citizens to come and visit their
Since that time this group has given time and money to keep the library
functioning and feel that it has been a great help to this community. They are
now working with other interested persons in trying to secure a County Library
in order that rural people may have books to read.
A SKETCH OF THE HUDSON LODGE No. 295 F. & A. MASONS INSTITUTED IN 1875 AT HARMONY GROVE
This Lodge was instituted in 1875 at Harmony Grove. The membership of this
Lodge came from the Phidelta Lodge in Banks County. Part of the members of this
Lodge moved their membership to Homer. Those who were charter members or joined
soon after the Harmony Grove Lodge was organized, are as follows:
D.M. Nix, C.T. Nash, J.C. Wade, J.P. Huson, W.F. Lord, J.P. Wood, J.N.
Wood, and V.H. Deadwyler. There were perhaps others though the records are not
complete. M.S. Porter was the first to affiliate on Sept. 1, 1875. The first to
be raised were T.P. Hudson and J.N. Hudson, August 2, 1876.
The five Emeritus Masons: W.W. Stark, F.L. Lord, J.M. Nix, L.L. Davis,
and H.F. Bray.
This Lodge met for the -first fifteen years in the wooden school building
where it was organized, then over the Hood Building on North Elm Street until
1925, when they moved to the Hardman Building over the drug store on South Broad
Street. This is their present location.
This Lodge has steadily increased in membership and influence. Their present
membership is 118.
The present officers are Charles Castleberry, W.M., Colquitt Sims, Secretary,
Jesse Porter, Treasurer.
SKETCH OF HARMONY GROVE LODGE No. 30 INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS OF COMMERCE, GA. By W. F. Meixsel and Kyle Savage, Committee
Harmony Grove Lodge No. 30 was organized on June 13th, 1900 by T. S. Mell,
Grand Master of Georgia and the following officers were elected: W. D. Pierce,
Noble Grand, Willie B. Spulberger, Vice-Grand, Geo. L. Hubbard, Treasurer, J.M.
Carson, Secretary. The following were charter members: R.J. Smith, who later
became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and Grand Representative to
the Sovereign Grand Lodge, George Rice, Claud Montgomery, J.C. Massey, T.E.
Key, J.W. Roberson, A.G. Stark, C.S. Bates, Jno. B. Hardman, W.W.
Williamson, F.H. Aderholdt, R.L. Sanders, E.B. Watson, J.T. Stovall, C.A.
Mize, W.B. Rice, A.D. Harris, A.L. Bolton, Jno. C. Silman and others. This
Lodge was organized with approximately 30 members.
The Lodge has had a steady growth since its institution. The officers at
present are-Preston Benton, N.G., J.C. King, V.C., P.D. Howington, Finance
Secretary, Kyle Savage, Recording Secretary, Fred Brown, Treasurer.
The principles of Odd Fellowship are Friendship, Truth, Love, Faith, Hope and
Charity. We have a Burial Benefit for the Brother and his wife. We also have an
insurance for a member if he cares to carry same. To become a member of this
Lodge one must be 18 years of age, white and of good moral character and believe
in a Supreme Being, the Creator and Preserver of all things. No saloonkeeper,
bartender or professional gambler can belong to our Order.
Our Lodge is founded upon the Holy Writ and the Holy Bible must be opened at
all meetings and same is opened and closed with prayer. This Lodge enjoys a
membership of over 100 members.
A Sham Battle
The Confederate veterans enjoyed recounting their experiences of the camp and
the battles of the sixties. One feature in the year 1910 was a sham battle
staged by Camp J. H. Morgan. A hundred or more veterans in their old gray
uniforms paraded down Broad Street, several on horses, led by Captain T. A.
Little, G. L. Carson and W. T. Thurmond. The battle took place in and around
Willoughby Park, ending in a charge down Broad Street. Real maneuvers were
executed and the blast of fire-arms suggested a real battle. This sham battle
was intended to represent the second and third days of the battle of Gettysburg,
July 2nd and 3rd, 1863.
Following in the wake of the charge of battle were a considerable number of
men, women and children. Great excitement prevailed, especially among the small
children. It was a real representation of war.
ITEMS OF INTEREST, ANECDOTES AND PERSONALITIES
HARMONY GROVE VS. COMMERCE
Why the Name Was Changed
The question is often asked why change the name of Harmony Grove to Commerce.
During the last decade of the 19th century there was a rapid advance in the
business of the town and there were various suggestions that we should have a
name more in keeping with the commercial air of the town. There were several
reasons advanced. One was the length of the double name took extra time to write
it and a shorter name would save time. Another reason was the desire for a name
that would indicate the spirit and progress of the community. Others thought
Harmony Grove sounded like a country village and they wanted a name more
attractive to the commercial world. The final reason was there is a post office
of the same name in Dawson County, Ga., and our mail often went to this post
It may be said that while the majority decided in favor of the change it was
far from unanimus. Among those who did not favor it was Dr. L. G. Hardman who
retained the name of Harmony Grove in some industries and businesses with which
he was connected. Some even now doubt the wisdom of the change and long for the
beautiful name under which they were born and reared.
It may be added that the name adopted was suggested by a committee appointed
by a mass meeting of citizens. Attica was the first name suggested and adopted
but the postal authorities rejected this name because of its similarity and
proximity to Athens and Atlanta and consequent danger in getting mail mixed.
Some one then suggested Commerce for the reason that there was a progressive
town of similar size in Texas by that name. So Commerce was recommended by the
committee and adopted by the citizens.
Some incidents connected with the name of Harmony Grove may be of interest.
Before the building of the Gainesville Middling Railroad by Jefferson, a daily
star route was in use from Jefferson to Harmony Grove. One of the carriers was
Raymond Roberts who was slightly afflicted in his limbs but was able to drive
his horse to the buck-board in which he carried the mail. The contract for the
route, let out by competitive bids, was very meager, some sixty or seventy cents
a day. So the carrier supplemented this stipend by carrying passengers each way
at twenty-five cents each. Raymond was a very genial, jovial fellow who enjoyed
conversation with his fellow passengers. On one occasion a drummer was his
travelling guest. As they reached the top of the hill on Jefferson road the
drummer remarked, "There is Harmony Grove. Why do they call this Harmony Grove?"
Raymond replied that he supposed that it was because of the many nice trees and
the people were harmonious and congenial. The drummer said, "No, that was not
the reason. They call it Harmony Grove because that is its name." Raymond turned
and looked the drummer square in the face and in a tone of surprise said,
"You've got more sense than you look like you have." The joke was so good that
the drummer told it when he called on his customers in town.
About the time the change of name was under consideration a fine old English
gentleman, who had recently come from England and was travelling salesman for
Rogers Silverware Co., Wallingford, Conn., called on the writer and expressed
his admiration for the beautiful name of the town. He said he had never known
before of a town named Harmony Grove. A short time after the name was changed to
Commerce he returned and expressed great disappointment at the change. He then
related that shortly after he was here last his home city in England offered a
prize for the most suitable name for their park. He sent in the name Harmony
Grove which was accepted and he received the prize of $500.00. The writer felt a
bit chagrined that we had discarded a name that others considered so rare and
most beautiful and appropriate.
The beginning of the cemetery was a gift of one acre of land donated by C. W.
Hood, Sr., in 1874, at the same time he gave the site to the Harmony Grove
Baptist Church and one acre to the school. Among the first burials were a young
son of E. H. Ingram, monument now standing, Mrs. J. T. Edwards, and Will
Deadwyler, son of Dr. V. H. Deadwyler. The area has been enlarged by purchase of
about one-half acre of land on the southeast corner from W. T. Stapler and by
purchase of nearly two acres on the southwest end from L. G. Hardman and N. W.
Perkins. In 1934 two acres were bought at a public sale from Mrs. M. E. Oliver.
This has been added to by purchase from private owners on the southwest end of
this newly purchased lot. The name Grayhill was given the cemetery by City
authorities. The cemetery is kept by a sexton employed and paid by the city. In
the earlier years the town paid for the upkeep of the walks and the owners kept
their own lots or paid for same. This city of the dead is at present kept more
efficiently, with improvements in keeping lots and coping and beautifying the
During an early period of Harmony Grove there was a countryman named Elisha
who usually came to town on Saturday afternoons and sometimes visited the grog
shop and imbibed too much. One afternoon he had gotten tanked up and became very
sick. He retired to the rear of one of the stores seeking relief. After
remaining there an hour or more and having emitted most of the contents of his
stomach one of his solicitous friends came around and said, "How are you by this
time, Elisha?" He replied, "Wal-1-1 I'm well to whut I wuz."
Mr. C.W. Hood, a reliable merchant in Harmony Grove, was a very efficient
business man and courteous to his customers. He had a soft, low, somewhat
whining tone of voice. He was a bit eccentric in his method of conversation with
his customers which gave rise to a number of amusing incidents told on him
during his business experience.
On one occasion in his old wooden store house a customer by the name of. Tom
Butler came in. He had a fine and coarse voice which would change from a very
high tenor to a very deep bass in every sentence he spoke. As Mr. Butler came in
he said, "Want a dollar's worth of coffee, a pound or two of sugar." Mr. Hood
with his back turned waiting on another customer replied, " Just be patient,
I'll wait on both of you directly."
Mr. Hood was very careful about his clerks. His idea of industry was that
every one should keep at work. A certain clerk, named Tyra Duncan, was one day
sitting on the counter swinging his feet, talking and laughing. Mr. Hood came
along and said, "Kyra, haven't you anything to do?" "No, sir," said Tyra. "Well,
you just go around to the warehouse and roll an empty barrel from one side to
the other. I don't want anybody around me without something to do."
Mr. Williamson tells this on Mr. Hood. It was customary for the merchants to
bid on the farmers' cotton. Sometimes the buyers would run the price up on the
other merchant's customers. This occurred on one occasion when one of Mr. Hood's
customers had a load of cotton and reported he had been bid so much. Mr. Hood
replied, "This is above the market and is more than it is worth, but I'll meet
his price and throw you in a pint of goobers. Just go and have the load weighed
Many jokes were told on Uncle Solomon Seegar and Aunt Calline. Most of them
were true. One time after the railroad had been in operation for a short time,
the schedule was such that the evening train that brought passengers from
Atlanta arrived rather late in the night. One of the drummers was stopping
overnight with Aunt Calline. She related to him exultingly that she understood
they had exchanged the "skudule" and would be lighter on the old man. The drummer remarked, "I haven't heard of that. Flow much?" "Yes," she said, "it has been coming at ten o'clock. It's coming now at 9:6o and it will be a heap lighter on the old man now to meet the train."
On other occasions, John Tuggle, a popular tobacco drummer made regular visits
to the hotel and was very sociable in his manner. Aunt Calline's casual remark
about him was, "I like Mr. Tuggle very much. He is so homelike. He sticks his
feet up on the mantel in front of the fire, lights his cigar and behaves just
like one of the family."
A well known citizen, Mr. Jet Bird, a painter by trade and the father of John
Bird, was painting Uncle Solomon Seegar's store building with a deep yellow
color. A little school boy, Tom Adair by name, chanced to pass by and cast his
eyes up the ladder and drawled out, "Hey-O, Mr. Byrd, whut are you geasing that
house with eggs fur?" Mr. Bird, a little insulted, looked down and replied, "Two
dollars a day and my board."
The boy was sat Back in the 1870'S and early 1880's it was the custom for some to pride themselves on their physical prowess. Fights, known as `fist and skull bouts'
were common, especially at the grog and blacksmith shops or stores where people
congregated. Among some of those who were known as `bullies' were Linsey Dunson,
Sebe Dunson, Frank Coleman and Frank Stansby.
Frank Stansby, a unique character, blew into Harmony Grove about the year
1880. No one seems to know from whence he came or whither he went. A man of few
words, uncommunicative as to his background yet withal a friendly fellow, he
operated a tanyard and harness shop here for about three years. Physically he
was a young giant, tall, raw-boned and muscular, about six feet four inches, he
tipped the beam at more than 200 pounds. Generally quiet, he was not averse to
matching his physical prowess to all corners. In those days there lived an
eccentric character, Rube Anthony by name, who considered himself `much of a
man' living in the vicinity of Apple Valley and a neighbor of Morgan Nix. He
came to Harmony Grove on one occasion to look over this man Stansby. On arrival,
being congregated with some of the town boys, he inquired, "Where is that man
Stansby? Let me see him." Some one pointed out Stansby, who was nearby, and
suggested he had better not talk too loud. Rube scanned the giant fellow up and
down and exclaimed, "Golly, boys, ain't he a buster! Come, Morgan, let's go home."
Rube was a tenant farmer and boys were found of playing pranks on him. Judge
W. J. Colquitt, who was the founder of Apple Valley, a man of wide reputation
and a leader in the community and a farmer of original ideas, loved practical
jokes. On one occasion Rube had a large watermelon patch and the melons were
about ready for market. The Judge suggested to the boys that they get some
melons out of his own patch and take them around on a certain night. They cut
these melons, ate some of them, `busted' open others, and scattered them all
around the bushes on the outside of Rube's patch. They made a few tracks in and
out of the patch but with care not to pull a single melon. Next morning Rube
goes to look over his melons, sees the bursted melons and rinds all around and
without inspecting his own melons presumed they were from his patch. His ire
arose. He put on his fighting clothes and went to his friend, Morgan Nix.
"Morgan," he said, "Somebody has busted every melon in my patch and ruined it. I am ready to "whoop the man or any number of men who will acknowledge doing it." Morgan never told him that the Judge instigated the joke.
"The Old Buttin' Sheep"
In the early days our neighbor, Bijah Wilbanks, who lived about a mile away,
owned a large ram sheep which his older boys had taught to butt and fight
anything that came in his way. Once the ram got out and came along by our home.
Willie C. Glenn, a neighbor boy of some twelve years of age, was passing from
school. The boy had just recovered from a long spell of sickness. The ram
attacked him viciously, butting him down several times. He tried to escape by
getting into a wagon nearby, but every time he made an effort the ram would butt
him over. My mother and grandmother, seeing his danger, went to his rescue. My
mother seizing a wide board received the attack of the ram against the board
while my grandmother carried the boy into the house. Then with skill my mother
backed off towards the front gate, warding off the ram all the time with the
board. Reaching the front gate she closed it and threw the plank at the ram,
rushed in and closed the front door. The ram jumped the fence, followed closely
and butted the front door like a battering-ram. I was some two years old and
playing in the back yard. My grandmother rushed out and brought me to safety
while my mother blew the horn for the older boys and the hands in the field.
They came and found the ram still vicious and the only way they could drive him
off was to load the shot-gun with peas and give him a volley or two. He finally
left for his home. This incident of the butting ram as told to me by my mother
and grandmother made a lasting impression on my memory. "The Old Buttin' Sheep!"
Some thirty years ago a Negro lived near the railroad just north of
Nicholson. He built a ladder leading up to a wooden tower some twenty or thirty
feet high. At the top of this tower was a small platform and at the base a good
size pool of water.
This Negro had trained his dog to climb the ladder and at a signal from his
master he would make a headlong dive into the pool.
On one occasion a Methodist preacher passing by was interested and interviewed the Negro. "How did you train that dog?" he asked. "I have tried to train dogs and never could get them to mind." The Negro replied: "Fore you can train a dog youse gotta have more sense than the dog."
The preacher was so amused at the ready wit of the Negro that he related the
incident to a number of his friends.
The Old Man and His Bugle Up a Tree
An old gentleman named Maston Bray lived two miles below Harmony Grove on the
Madison County road. He was the owner of a bugle. He was a man of quiet
disposition but not very industrious. His wife was of a fiery temper and very
energetic. When she developed one of her irate spells and went into a tantrum
the old gentleman, who had provided a seat up in the fork of a tall tree,
gathered his bugle and ascended the tree, took his seat and began to blow with
all his might in tones that could be heard a mile or two, seeking to drown the
rasping of the tongue lashing of his spouse. When the neighbors heard the bugle
blow they would remark, "Old man Bray's wife is fussin' again. Listen at his bugle."
The Farmers Grange was established' in the 1880's. It had many supporters and
supply merchants catered to their trade by giving special prices. W.C. Farrabee
who lived in the lower part of town was an enthusiastic member.
On one occasion a man was coming to town and as he was nearing Mr. Farrabee's
home a thunder shower came up. He asked if he might get refuge under his shelter
until the shower was over. Mr. Farrabee replied, "Ah-h-h, friend, there ain't a bit there. You can get all you want up at the Granger Store."
The Three H's
In the days of old Harmony Grove drummers were plentiful. Among them was a
friendly old man by the name of Fin-ley, the senior member of the Finley-Roberts
Hardware Co., of Baltimore. Mr. Finley came about twice a year on friendly
visits. As I remember him come racking down the plank side walks he would stop
and say, "Friend, Hardman, what can I send you?" "Well, not needing anything today." He would reply, "0 you mean thing, you booger! I've just come to see the three H's, the Hoods, the Harbers, the Hardmans."
Some wag coined in the early days of Harmony Grove the following couplet:
Hood's town, Shankle street,
Seegar's hotel and nothing to eat.
W. T. Stapler's Yarn of "Old Bill"
Mr. Stapler was a master in the art of telling anecdotes. Once on a hot
August day he was stopping at a hotel in Elberton, Ga. After the dinner hour the
Negro porter was playing with a billy goat, the pet around the hotel, and which
had been trained to accept a banter to fight. The Negro finally fell asleep on a
bench in the yard and began to nod his head up and down. Bill took this as a
challenge to fight. He stepped back a few paces and came with force and struck
the Negro's head just as it descended. The impact only caused the Negro to shake
his head and drop back to sleep and resume his nod-ding. Bill, not satisfied,
stepped back about twenty paces and came with double speed and force and struck
the Negro full in the forehead. The concussion was so great that Bill's head was
busted and he dropped over dead. The Negro, little disturbed, dropped asleep
again. After finishing his nap he saw the goat lying in front of him. He gave a
light kick and said, "Git up from thar, Bill." After repeating the kick the second time he looked over and saw the goat's busted head and excitedly exclaimed, "I'll swar if somebody ain't done killed old Bill."
PHOTOGRAPHER T. J. ALLEN
Mr. Allen came to Harmony Grove about 1889 and was the principal photographer
here for thirty years. He had a very interesting family of wife and six
children. At first his photo shop was on the second floor of Strickland Hall.
Later he moved to a two-story house to the rear of Dale's tin shop. He had his
picture gallery in the second story.
There was a croquet and marble yard close by his home. Mr. Allen was fond of
these games. His wife would call him to snap a picture and he would return to
his game while she did the work. In his gallery were hundreds of pictures,
samples of all he had taken. When it was noticed that a few of the pictures were
inverted, some one inquired the reason. Mr. Allen replied, "When any body don't
pay- for their pictures I stand the picture on its head. When they come in and
pay for them I turn the picture right side up." Mr. Allen wore a long beard and
was a great church man, attending prayer meetings regularly and all the services
of the church. He was the clock winder and delighted to repeat Scripture. He had
many favorite texts. He, with his friends, Brethren Jefferson Jennings and J. M.
Rhodes were landmarks in the Baptist Church. They were faithful and well versed
in the Scriptures.
Mr. Allen operated the first improvised home-made telephone from his gallery
in Strickland Hall to his residence in the rear of Dale's Tin Shop.
However, about the year 1878 Charley A. Bond, a pupil of M. L. Parker's
school, used a wax yarn string attached to a wooden match box at each end was
able to talk in a low tone of voice at a distance of zoo yards. This was about
the time Graham Bell was inventing the telephone that bears his name.
Since Mr. Allen left there have been only a few photographers to locate for
any length of time in Commerce. The extended use of the kodak by so many
amateurs has lessened the demand for photographers in small towns. The fully
equipped photographers seek locations in larger cities. However, we now have in
Commerce the Modem Art Studio, well equipped, established by Mr. Grady F.
Michael who has been located here for about three years. He is a splendid artist
and has produced most of the photographs from which the cuts were made for this
IN HONOR AND MEMORY OF DR. L. G. HARDMAN ADDRESS BY T. C. HARDMAN TO THE
COMMERCE HIGH SCHOOL, JUNE, 1937:
THE PRACTICAL LIFE
On this occasion I am to bring you some facts concerning a life lived in your
midst which I trust will be an incentive to worthy effort on your part.
Dr. L. G. Hardman was born in Harmony Grove just a few hundred yards from
this spot, April 14, 1856. His boyhood was spent on the farm just a mile
southeast of the village post office, Harmony Grove, Georgia. The civil war
coming on when he was a young boy, school facilities were meager and, following
this great catastrophe, were years of hardship and struggle. With scant literary
educational opportunities in early manhood, before he reached the age of
eighteen he decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and began the study
of medicine, graduating from the Georgia Medical College, Augusta, Georgia, at
the age of nineteen. While practicing medicine for a year with his father, he
enjoyed the acquaintance and friendship of Dr. Crawford W. Long, of
international reputation. In the period of 1876-1877 he attended Bellevue, New
York, receiving his diploma a few days before reaching twenty-one years. Blessed
with a religious and pious father and mother, he entered into the practice of
medicine with the unfailing purpose to succeed. With the good fortune to fall
into the practice which his father had pursued for over twenty-five years, he
ministered to the physical man while the elder Dr. W. B. J. Hardman, having
entered the gospel ministry, ministered to the spiritual needs of the people.
After serving his generation with unswerving fidelity in the realm of medical
science for more than thirty years, he became interested in other lines of
endeavor, namely social well-being and the political and economical welfare of
the people of his state.
His chief aim in early life was to relieve human suffering and prolong life.
This gradually developed into an absorbing desire to benefit man in every phase
of his need, to bring about those conditions productive of health, happiness and
comfort. His reputation as a surgeon and diagnostician and his leader-ship in
advanced medical thought was more than state wide.
Preservation of records and establishing of memorials was a hobby and became
almost an obsession with him. He was interested in all of God's creation, in
things animate and in-animate, things geological and theological.
I would like today to emphasize some of the characteristics and principles
that made his life successful and useful. First, his seriousness, sincerity and
simplicity. Life was real and worth living and the simple and common place
things the most profound. The serious side of life with him was dominant, the
humorous less developed and less apparent. Sincerity was a cardinal virtue.
Second, the moving principles in his life's career were industry, intelligent
research and investigation. To him indolence was a crime, ignorance inexcusable,
waste a tragedy.
The life of Dr. Hardman may be considered in three distinct phases. First,
early environments and experiences; second, aim and purposes; third,
accomplishments. I have already spoken of his environments and early
experiences. His aims and purposes are evident throughout his long life of
public service. In the realm of medical science, he demonstrated the deadly
effect of nicotine, the narcotic effect of alcohol and its deletorious effect on
the human body. Second, in the realm of business, he was an outstanding leader
in business affairs. He was active in the organizing of various industries,
including manufacturing plants and banks. Third, in the realm of agriculture he
advocated and practiced diversifying of crops, the conservation of land by
forestry and proper drainage. Fourth, in the realm of education, while blessed
with but scant opportunities in early years, he had a growing interest in the
education of the youth, especially practical education. He was a number of years
President of the Board of Education of the Commerce High School, serving in this
capacity during his two terms as Governor of the state. He was President of the
Board of Trustees of the Agriculture College, University of Georgia, was trustee
of Shorter College, President of its Board, and trustee for several years of
Mercer University. He was donor of large gifts to these and other institutions
of similar character. Fifth, in the realm of political economy and social
service, he was successful in leading in many sound and helpful laws enacted in
the state. In introducing in the senate in 1906 the bill prohibiting the sale of
intoxicants, the enactment of which became the first state-wide dry law; he was
responsible for the law giving free treatment for rabies, also, for
establishment of Tubercular Sanitarium at Alto. He was closely connected with
the enactment of our drainage laws, public welfare department of the state and
all the for-ward looking legislation for the past thirty years.
During his administration of two terms as Governor, he worked untiringly for
the betterment of the state and the placing of our financial system on a sounder
We boast today of great progress and advancement, but the test of any
civilization is in its ability to solve the perplexing problems that confront it
and to minister to the permanent welfare of its people. We look in vain today to
leaders and high officials in state and nation for a note of high moral tone and
of sound business standards and business integrity. I challenge the refutation
of this statement. Witness the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment and the
consequential deluge of our country with the whiskey traffic, dissipation and
crime. The midnight signing of a bill that betrayed the people and controverted
their voice in an election is sufficient answer to the first charge. Financial
conditions and enormous state and national debt is an answer to the second.
Drinking and smoking, with their attending vices, are the bane of our social
order. Alcohol is the enemy of human life and all living organisms. Formed in
the midst of death, it becomes useful only as a preserver of fossils and dead
bodies. We find everywhere a temporizing and unsound procedure that lays
increasing burdens of taxation on the people. Our freedom of action is
jeopardized. Individualism and self-reliance are discounted. We find our country
in a state of moral collapse and the inevitable business collapse postponed to
future generations. Balancing the budget is a lost art. 'Waste, graft, greed,
political paternalism hold sway. We must look to the yeoman citizenry of our
nation to restore the well established principles that government is for the
protection of the people and its legitimate expenses must be met by them and not
to expect our government to support its citizens. We must hark back to the
founders and preservers of our, institutions in past generations. Not that we
are not making some progress, but no people can disregard the fundamentals of
government and human freedom and make real progress. The appeal is made to the
future historian and the records to establish the fundamental soundness and
value of Dr. Hardman's administration in state affairs.
Certainly times are changing, but principles remain and we ignore them at our
hazard. Let me in a few sentences give a resume of the life of Dr. Hardman.
Broadly speaking his mature life was divided into two periods. The first
thirty years were devoted to his chosen profession in medicine and business
affairs. The latter period of like duration, was devoted largely to religious
matters, to donations and helpfulness to country churches, to the establishment
and perpetuation of educational, religious and eleemosynary institutions. The
first period was years of bachelor-hood, the second, a period of married life.
His passing on leaves with us a wife, a son and three daughters. To him:
"Life is real, life is earnest
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are to dust returneth
Was not spoken of the soul."
Young people, the future lies before you. The present is the time to prepare
for its exigencies. It is imperative that you make preparation to meet life's
problems as you face them. It is yet to be demonstrated all that God can
accomplish in the life of an individual wholly committed to the will of God and
the service of humanity, and by a nation that recognizes the authority and
over-rulership of the God of the Universe.
This was written by Thomas Colquitt Hardman 1810-1949