Some Eccentric Characters in Milledgeville


"Billie Splinters" (J. W. Quinn)
1905 Postcard of Milledgeville facing East on Hancock Street.

    "Billie Splinters" was a  familiar sight on the streets of Milledgeville and known by everyone in the county. For more than 35 years he took splinters to Milledgeville, summer or winter,  from his home near Scottsboro. He used a little cart drawn by and donkey and later by an ox. Born in 1838, he died at his home near Scottsboro in 1918.

Jane Simmons Female Butcher
"Jane Simmons, the female butcher, is a little squatty mulatto of about fifty years of age. She was born and reared in Milledgeville, and was probably the first woman in Georgia to adopt the life of a butcher as her chosen profession. She began it, though, twenty years ago, and has made a remarkable success in her business. She has been the first assistant of Mr. Dolly Ellison, of this city, who says she is the best  butcher in the country. She can kill, clean and cut up more hogs in a day than any man in Baldwin county, and she does it with such ease and grace that the entire populace are constrained to marvel at her skill. She enters a cowpen, chooses her beef, slaughters it and has it ready to market in less time that it would take to tell it. Taken in all, she is the quickest and best butcher in the country, and she would not exchange positions with Queen Victoria. A thorough negro, whose home is the slaughter house, she lives in happiness and contentment. " The Constitution Feb. 7, 1890

John Davis, Preacher
   Another character that has been seen by probably every man that ever spent a day in Milledgeville is John Davis, well known as "Cody." He is as black as the ace of spades, wears a battered beaver on his head and a rusty bladed axe over his shoulder. His is the great religious crank of this section, speaking entirely by parables with free use of thee and thou, and other scriptural forms. He prays when he is not singing and sings when he is not warning bystanders to flee from the wrath to come. An irrelevant lad meets him on the street and addresses him as Cody a name he does not like. He squats immediately and offers a prayer for the degenerate youth. After imploring the Lord to help us out of this ditch of sin he rises to his feet and he begins his slow journey singing. Oh there a room enough in paradise to have a home in glory. He never closes his eyes in prayer, for the Lord commanded him to watch as well as pray. He has furnished sport for several generations that have sprung up in Milledgeville and is yet regarded by the small boy as the peer of the average circus." The Constitution Feb. 7, 1890

Asa Wilson, Shoemaker/Inventor
     "A G T W X Y Z (Asa) Wilson Agent as the sign over his door reads is a shoemaker of fine repute. Besides mending and making shoes, he is a competitor though less successful to Thomas Edison in the art of astonishing the world with some great invention. During the last ten years he has invented probably twenty five different machines from a cotton picker that promised to revolutionize the world to a flying machine that would sail through the air with the rapidity of a half rate message. His last and most successful invention is a ventilated hat-a leather covered machine trimmed with a motionless wheel and a few other inexplicable attachments  which he alone understands. This hat is worn by the inventor on all occasions and is recommended by him as being one of the coolest in summer and warmest in winter of any other hat in the world. Though a crank on invention he is a good talker and his arrangements in favor of his genius is coached in language equally classic with a fourth of July oration."
The Constitution Feb. 7, 1890
 
 


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