News from The Courant American

The Courant American
Cartersville, Georgia
January 14, 1892, page 1
Transcribed by:  

Early Days in Cherokee Georgia.
By Mrs. Dr. Felton.

According to request I proceed to recall my early recollections of this county for the benefit of the readers of your valuable paper.

Of course, it will be understood, that I write from memory, and there may be some mistakes as to names or dates, but it shall be my endeavor to set down all I write in kindness to all concerned and with malice toward none in this brief recital of recollections.

I first became acquainted with Bartow, then Cass county, in 1853. I was married in October of that year and cast my lot with the people of this county. Then a very young woman—easily impressed with joy or sorrow—I thought then, and still think, it was one of the fairest spots on the earth’s surface at that time.

The land was rich, the county prosperous, and settled by a citizenship of a high grade of intelligence. Cass county at that time ranked high among the counties of the state, and enjoyed a most enviable reputation for energy, progress and refinement.

I made my debut in Cartersville on the morning train. We had but one train a day, one going up and another going down, at that early period.

The first citAugust 29, 2006te for congress at that time, Col. Chastain, of Gilmer, his opponent. As we alighted he boarded the train on an electioneering tour. Col. Chastain’s friends had just published a most unique campaign document. It was decorated with most enormous headlines. It was said to be Col. Tumlin’s address to the people of the district, yet it was as blank as virgin paper. Not a word of speech; and this blank sheet was circulated by the thousand. This might have been felt to be a cruel joke by some people, but it passed over the colonel’s head without effect. I remember his breezy smile and cordial welcome as emphasized by this fearful campaign document that attracted more attention at the time than a dozen of such messages as President Harrison publishes for sixty millions of people.

Col. Tumlin at this time was also at the zenith of his financial prosperity, and he proposed to cap it off with political fame, but Col. Chastain knew as much about successful political management as the best politician in the state—and Col. Tumlin knew perhaps as little; so Col. Chastain went to congress and Col. Tumlin stayed at home to get richer every day by successful trading. Everything he touched made him money. He had a splendid home, a beautiful young wife (he had lately married Miss Goldsmith) who adorned his house with exceeding grace and generous hospitality, and the world pointed him out as a successful man. I remember having a tract of land pointed out to me on our way to my new home as being lately purchased by Col. Tumlin at twenty-five dollars an acre, an extraordinary risk, as pronounced by careful, prudent people. Yet that land has sold since for ten times as much per acre, and when Cartersville gets to be full grown, it will bring its thousands in lien for every one of its early dollars. Col. Tumlin was pre-eminently a successful financier for himself; and while he had his critics and his detractors, he was a cordial, hospitable and generous neighbor—particularly kind to the poor and destitute. The next person I was introduced to was Rev. B. B. Quillian who had a store somewhere in the vicinity of Mr. Mattews’ on the north side of the public square. He gave me an old fashioned Methodistic welcome, and for nearly forty years he has proved to be staunch and true to his principles and friends. My first callers were Mr. John Erwin and his dear wife who was a daughter of Judge Hooper, well known to Georgia’s judicial history. Mr. Erwin had just left Cassville to unite his fortunes with the young town of Cartersville—and his mercantile trade became a mammoth one for that early time. The wealth of the section was in the country. Splendid farms, good dwellings and trained servants were peculiar to the country people. I have seen as fine carriages, and as tastefully dressed people at church in Cartersville, as you will see in city streets or in churches of the present day. Plantations were rich, products enormous, labor reliable, and the Cass county farmer made money and enjoyed himself. On a pleasant afternoon the main streets in Cartersville were lined with chairs, and these planters met and talked farming, religion or politics, as the case might be. The tallest stalk of corn or cotton was well advertised in this way, and memory takes me back to the time when Maj. Rowland, Dr. Young, Mr. Arnold Milner, Mr. Bennett Conyers, Col. Watt Harris and others from one side of the railroad, met Col. Joel Foster, Maj. Benham, Col. Mark Johnston, Mr. John Shepherd, Mr. Munford and others from another side, to fairly overwhelm each other with reports from their localities as to mammoth crops, methods and results. I recollect the hearty laugh that was raised when a staunch old planter carried a prolific hog weed about ten feet high, and placed it beside some of those extra specimens of corn and cotton as a mild rebuke to Gulliver stories that had diverted this wonderful coterie of successful Cass county farmers, so much as to be generally reported all over the county. The Sproull, Cothran, Wolley and Stiles’ plantations were known far and near. Raccoon creek bottom lands had no apparent limit to productive capacity. All along the river the soil was splendid, and upland farms made a world of grain as well as cotton. I remember riding through our own farm where the cotton plants were taller than I could reach sitting on my faithful saddle mare, and corn stood eight feet above my head without a speck of guano or any other sort of manure to make it grow. Where has all this productive power gone? Have we killed the native strength of the soil with commercial manures?

Cassville was a great town in those days. Oh! what a generous, church going, hospitable, upright people were those Cassville citizens nearly forty years ago. What revivals they had in those days. What splendid colleges. The commencement seasons were gala days. I remember an address at the Baptist college made by Hon. Wm. H. Stiles, a fearless orator, who would have graced any position in this union, and I recall my interest in watching the play of pride and affection in the face of his noble looking wife as she listened to her husband’s eloquence that day. I also remember a sermon from Dr. Lovick Pierce at the Methodist college that lives in memory even to this hour. So grand, noble and soul-inspiring were his words. What a preacher he was. How his greatness shone in his splendid face and physique. What a grand man. What faithful church members we had in those days. The name of Leake was a tower of strength to the early Cartersville Methodist church, and Col. J. J. Howard was a strong pillar of support to the Baptist church in those early days—even all along down to the close of his long life. Rev. A. W. Buford went in and out before his neighbors during a long, faithful and useful life and died in the faith and full of good works for all people as well as for his own church. Rev. Mr. Crawford was a faithful preacher also; and Uncle George Gilreath opened heart and doors to every Methodist circuit rider that was sent to us. It was a time when the preacher came into your house as one of your family. He was “at home” when he came, could read, or study or talk as it suited his wishes and his presence was a blessing. “Uncle Billy” Henderson was a faithful local preacher, and the service of the Lord was his supreme delight. He always sung at family worship, and when age and feebleness had so impaired his mind that his prayers were repetitious and disconnected sentences, his memory for hymns was still accurate, and his songs of praise were pleasant to hear.

Pine Log had a strong church and immense camp meeting. Old brother Ellis was of the “salt of the earth.” The farmers were well to do, prosperous and thrifty, and there were none in the county more energetic than Col. Lindsay Johnson, the Crowells, the Weems’ and other planters who belonged to the Pine Log settlement.

The Words, Judge Land, Col. Akin, Col. Abda Johnson, Col. Hawkins Price, Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Wm. Latimer, R. A. and Jas. Milner, Mr. Arthur Haire, Judge Hooper and many other good people illustrated Cassville, and made for it a name for intelligence and prosperity that extended all over Georgia. Mr. Jas. Erwin and his good wife raised a well respected Christian family, a daughter married Mr. Rice Ramsaur, near Fairmount, which was a new, rich farming section, that was closely connected with Bartow people by ties of blood and interest. Coming down the Tennessee road to Cartersville, there were splendid farms and splendid farmers in those days. The Bradfords, Maxwells, Dysarts, Woffords, Bakers, and many others were in full tide of success, with beautiful and productive farms. The Bradley, Cotton, Waldrup and Wofford farms around Cross Roads Church were productive and lay beautifully. Indeed, there was no more inspiring ride than to come from Fairmount to Cartersville in the days of long ago during the spring and summer. It was country alive with thrift, progress and success. Oothcaloga Valley was then as it is now, a garden spot for well-to-do farmers. Thrifty and intelligent people held the standard high and have kept it there. The Kings, Venables, Lewis’, Gaines’. Mr. Trimble, Mr. Veach, Mr. Gray, and many that I have not space to mention, laid the foundations for one of the very best sections in Cass county, and their good work still speaks in substantial praise for them.

“Spring Bank” at Kingston, the home of Rev. C. W. Howard, was often pictured at that time. Rev. Mr. Goulding, the author of “Young Marooners,” lived there. I remember the funeral sermon he preached when Rev. R. A. Milner was buried, (the father of Judge Milner.) It was a grand discourse. I was barely out of my teens, yet, that sermon is as bright in my memory as if I had heard it last year. I heard Rev. Joseph Stiles preach another never-to-be-forgotten sermon in the Presbyterian church at Cartersville. What a master mind he had. What a clarion voice. Going down the Etowah river towards Rome, what splendid farms, houses, everything that could delight the eye could be seen. It was a panorama of wealth and prosperity. In fact, as I believe, there was no county in Georgia that could surpass old Cass. Without a city in its limits, its taxes showed it to be the equal to many of Georgia’s best counties, with their large cities added. I have often thought that with a Chinese wall around her borders, she could produce everything to make life comfortable and happy. A retrospect of thirty eight years brings much that must necessarily sadden, as I count up the living and see how few are left of those who were to the fore front when I came here in the long ago. I expect there are many who will now say, “Bless me, Mrs. Felton is one of our old timers; she is a venerable land mark to show how the tide has ebbed and flowed in forty years of our history.”


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