Both Evangelist Sam P. Jones And Senator Rebecca Latimer Felton Stirred The Nation With Reform

It Reminds One Of The Era When Horse And Carriage Traveled These Boards

This Barrier Controls The Etowah River In Its Flow Through North Georgia

By Robert Latimer Hurst

Continuing on the journey through Bartow County, Don King, a Georgia Teachers College classmate of some 50 years ago; his wife Jean; and I motored along what was once a part of the original Dixie Highway, considered Georgia's first interstate, touching history all around us as we traveled through Cartersville, Adairsville, Cassville, Emerson, Allatoona, Euharlee and Kingston. Don confessed, at this time, that history was not his favorite subject while at GTC in Statesboro; however, I noticed that his priorities had changed since he seemed as interested as I in what we were seeing. As a teacher, I early found that all students, in school or not, became fascinated with those subjects to which they could relate. Local history offered this incentive for learning.

Red Top Mountain State Park, that Temptation #2, offered us a chance to explore the surroundings, including a portion Lake Allatoona and the trails leading off around this immense waterfront. Of course, I should not mention this, but the food in the restaurant had tempted us into a sort of gluttonous vapidity that was relieved only by a brisk walk on the pioneer-designed Homestead Trail. Sights here featured something akin to a layout in a wildlife magazine as the deer wandered here and there: the doe, with a watchful glance at her fawn, and the buck, head held high showing off his antlers, staring with those huge moist eyes for the least out-of-the-way action.

Don, then, took us off the beaten path to the small Bethany Cemetery deep in the woods to show us the grave of Young Deer, a Cherokee Indian, who had been one of the last here prior to the Trail of Tears in the 1800s. However, an event that happened during the Civil War made this area around Allatoona a location of real tragedy when the blood of 1,603 men spilled in a four-hour battle that began with 5,301 soldiers and ended with 3,698. Historians have written that here was "one of the bloodiest mornings of the war."

Of course, most history buffs realize immediately that it was also near here, in Adairsville, that a segment of "The Great Locomotive Chase" took place. This is the site where the Confederate officer boarded the southbound "Texas" and began the final chase of the "General" --in reverse. And a short way from here is Kingston, where a 45-minute delay doomed this Union plan of hijacking a train to prevent reinforcements reaching Chattanooga in 1862 and where General Sherman received his orders from General Grant to "March to the Sea."

I found as we neared Euharlee what these Bartow Countians call the "iron bridge." With wooden strips across a narrow planked span so that the driver will not veer too close to either side, where a deep drop into the boiling red stream below is noted, this engineering feat boasts the old-fashion iron trestle that encircles the overpass. It is something from the last century that still holds a romantic, if not somewhat scary, appeal for many. While on this aptly named Bridges' Loop section, another sight, considered one of the last in this part of the country, is the calming, serene covered bridge in Euharlee. Walking over these planks for 137 feet, glancing through the slats to see the rushing Euharlee Creek below and hearing the hollow sounds made by footfalls take one back to the clopping of the horse as he pulls the carriage over this crossing. The visitor can easily imagine himself in still another era, when this covered way was new and a safety from the elements. That was 1886, when Master Bridge Builder Washington W. King completed this construction.

Back in downtown Cartersville, we visited the Sam Jones United Methodist Church, completed in 1904, a few days after the nationally famous evangelist Sam Jones died. Although a church had occupied these premises since the 1850s, this church was re-named to memorialize the Cartersville citizen who some claimed represented everything about “Old Time Religion.” It was Jones who had the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, built as a tabernacle; today, it still serves as a “tabernacle” for country music’s “Grand Ole Opry.” His home, Roselawn, stands as a symbol to the Victorian Period in which Sam Jones lived. Opened to the public, this building is most popular as the backdrop for weddings and other occasions.

Sharing a portion of the Roselawn museum are articles that belonged to Rebecca Latimer Felton, another Cartersville native, who became the nation’s first female Senator. She served in the Senate only one day, but that short period of time served its purpose because it broke a precedent and allowed women the opportunity to fill this office. “A Senator of the U.S., a woman, is still a sort of political joke with our masculine leaders in party politics,” she said in 1922 after her one-day tenure. “But the trail has been blazed! The road is apparently rough --maybe rocky --but the trail has been located. It is an established fact. While it is also a romantic adventure, it will ever remain an historical precedent --never to be erased.” And we all know today she spoke the truth.

There is still more to this venture, and these episodes will appear in future stories.


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