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Joab Lafayette McCollum, Dade County Pioneer
by William W. McCollum

Joab Lafayette McCollum was born in Dade County in the early days of its existence, was a gallant infantry officer in the Civil War and rose to the highest levels of Atlanta society in the early 1900s as Major J.L. McCollum, Superintendent of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. He was one of 14 children of Joab Lafayette McCollum Senior, who was born in the Pendleton District of South Carolina on October 19, 1807 and died in Dade County on December 31, 1893. This McCollum family's story is a tale of exile from 17th century Scotland, struggle and success in Colonial America, Revolutionary War service, and migration south and west as Indian lands opened up to White settlement.

John N. McCollum (1658-April 18, 1760) is believed to be the immigrant ancestor of this line of McCollums. He participated in a failed rebellion in Agryllshire, Scotland in the Spring of 1685 and was sentenced on July 31 of that year to be "...exiled to the King's plantations abroad." If he ever returned to Scotland he would have been put to death. He was transported as a prisoner aboard the Henry and Francis of Newcastle to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where he arrived on December 5, 1685. Very little evidence of his existence remains, but he moved on from Middlesex County to Somerset County, New Jersey about 1700 and is buried in the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church cemetery.

He had a son, Samuel, born before 1700 and Samuel had a son, Samuel Junior, born about 1740. Samuel Junior married Hannah Freeman on October 3, 1759. Their first son, Daniel (1760-1850), migrated with them to Rowan County, North Carolina just before the Revolution. During the Revolution Daniel served in the North Carolina militia in a company commanded by Captain David Caldwell in a regiment under the command of Colonel Francis Locke. About 1785 Daniel moved on to the Pendleton District of South Carolina, where he remained until 1826. In February of that year, according to his Revolutionary War pension application, he moved his family to the Blue Creek district of Habersham County, Georgia.

Census records from 1790 - 1820 confirm that Daniel, probably his father Samuel, and his son David lived near each other in the Pendleton District. Joab Lafayette McCollum Senior was born there to David McCollum (August 6, 1777 - October 20, 1865) and Sarah Graham (about 1788 - 1860). Habersham County records show that David McCollum was one of the trustees of the Mossy Creek Methodist Church Campground when it was incorporated in 1832. Daniel's children started moving further west in Georgia in the 1830s, but he remained in Habersham County in the household of John Stovall and his wife, Elizabeth McCollum (Daniel's granddaughter) until his death in 1850. He is buried in the Old Blue Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in the midst of five generations of his descendants. Since July 4, 2002 his grave has been marked with a tombstone commemorating his Revolutionary War service.

The 1840 census of Dade County shows David and Sarah with one daughter, age 15-20, still in their household. Joab lived nearby with his first wife, Sarah Charity Wood (January 31, 1811 - June 8, 1845) and their five children. Joab may have been in Dade County before 1835, because his 1893 obituary said that he lived four years among the Indians and his home was used by ministers of all denominations for services until churches were built in the county. In 1850 David was shown as a 72 year old wheelwright born in North Carolina and Sarah was 62 years old and was born in Tennessee. Joab, a farmer, lived next door with his second wife, Sarah Prince (1826-?), whom he married about 1846, and ten children.

Joab Lafayette Senior's children with Sarah Charity Wood were:
1. John Nelson McCollum (October 10, 1830 - September 27, 1921). Married Sarah Ann Rodgers April 28, 1853 and moved to Izard County, Arkansas about 1871.
2. David T. McCollum (February 21, 1832 - January 1888). Married Nancy Jane Mason about 1855 and moved to Izard County, Arkansas about 1869.
3. William Harl McCollum (October 4, 1833 - ?). Married Sarah B. Mason about 1855 and moved to Arkansas about 1870.
4. Maryann S "Polly" McCollum (May 27, 1835 - ?). Married Avery B. Rodgers about 1853 and moved to Izard County, Arkansas about 1870.
5. Nancy McCollum (April 9, 1837 - September 25, 1927). May have married Robert Franklin Lee. She died in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
6. Rebecca Jane McCollum (January 11, 1840 - February 6, 1928). Married John Harvey Fryar in 1858 and moved to Arkansas about 1870.
7. Joab Lafayette McCollum (May 10, 1842 - December 9, 1926). Married Elizabeth Ann Holmes April 19, 1866 and moved first to Chattanooga, Tennessee, then to Atlanta, Georgia as a railroad man. (more below)

Joab Lafayette Senior's children with Sarah M. Prince were:
1. Charity Ellen(der) McCollum (about 1846 - July 7, 1908). Married John Milligan Weathers about 1870 and moved to Arkansas about 1872.
2. Mary Elizabeth McCollum (May 15, 1847 - August 14, 1896). Married Berryman A. Rodgers about 1866 and moved to Arkansas about 1871.
3. Marietta "Martha" McCollum (May 17, 1850 - June 16, 1875). Did not marry.
4. James Wesley Brady McCollum (March 8, 1853 - July 30, 1924). Married Ada Thomas Lyon. Died in Birmingham, Alabama.
5. Josephine "Josie" McCollum (October 17, 1856 - 1879). Did not marry.
6. Naomi "Nannie" McCollum (January 10, 1858 - 1877). Did not marry.
7. Goodson McCollum (February 18, 1860 - April 26, 1880. Did not marry.

The motivation for most of Joab Lafayette McCollum Junior's siblings to move on to Arkansas is not known. His ties to Dade County may have been his relationship with John B. Gordon, whose family ran the Castle Rock Coal Company before the Civil War. When the war came, Gordon put together a volunteer company of infantrymen from the Georgia-Tennessee-Alabama tri-state area. He intended to offer the company to Governor Joe Brown of Georgia, but the governor believed he already had enough troops. Gordon offered the services of the company to the 6th Alabama Infantry Regiment, where it was known formally as Company D, but informally as the "Raccoon Roughs." Joab was one of Gordon's closest friends during four years of fighting, which saw only 3 of the company's 154 men survive. Joab rose through the ranks to the grade of Major and commander of the Roughs, while Gordon became a Major General and a trusted corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia. Joab was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines (May/June 1862), at Chancellorsville (May 1863), at Spottylsvania (May 1864) and at Petersburg (June 1864), but he survived and his friendship with Gordon flourished.

On April 19, 1866, Joab married Elizabeth A. Holmes, of Whitesburg, Alabama. Shortly afterward he moved his family to Chattanooga, Tennessee where he went to work for the railroads, first for the Alabama and Chattanooga Road, then for the North Carolina and Saint Louis RR. A short biography published in 1887 in Goodspeed's "History of East Tennessee" noted that he was "a Democrat, a Mason, a member of several fraternal orders and the Methodist Episcopal Church." It also said that he and Elizabeth had two sons and five daughters living. Elizabeth reported in the 1900 census that she had 9 children and 6 were still living.

Census records show the children of Joab and Elizabeth to be:
1. Richard M. (August 1866 - ?). Married Mattie Lou Bussey in 1898. She died October 6, 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia.
2. Carrie (June 1869 - August 4, 1943). Married M.P. Garner. Died August 4, 1943 in Fulton County, Georgia.
3. Ella (1872 - ?). Probably died before 1900.
4. Anna May (born May 7, 1874 - September 26, 1893).
5. Blanche (1876 - November 22, 1931). Married Patrick H. Mell in 1898. Divorced about 1914. Died in Fulton County, Georgia November 22, 1931.
6. Laura (1879 - ?). Married Harry M. Jones about 1910.
7. Thomas Lafayette (December 24, 1881 - May 10, 1882).
8. Frank Bailey (August 1883 - ?). Married Dorothy Eugenia Mooney January 1921. 9. Eloise "Elsie" Holmes (May 1888 - November 17, 1949). Married William Henry Hester of Valdosta, Georgia June 7, 1911. Died November 17, 1949 in Fulton County, Georgia.

Joab and Elizabeth moved to the Atlanta area about 1891 and bought a home in Marietta, Georgia in June 1893. Between 1900 and 1910 they bought a home at 15 Peachtree Place in Atlanta. The April 16, 1916 edition of the Atlanta Constitution carried an article about the upcoming golden wedding anniversary of Major and Mrs. J.L. McCollum, noting that they were married in Dade County, Georgia and moved soon afterward to Chattanooga Tennessee. He worked for the Wills Valley Railroad, which became the Alabama Great Southern. He lived in Chattanooga for 25 years and worked for the railroad. He moved to the Atlanta area in 1891 and was with the Western and Atlantic Railroad as its superintendent. During his years with the railroad in Chattanooga he was active in civic and political affairs and was always a supporter of Confederate veterans. When John Gordon was named first Commander in Chief of the United Confederate Veterans, he named Major McCollum his assistant commissary general with the rank of Brigadier General. At least two of his sons, Richard and Frank, worked for the railroad.

From 1900 until 1926 the Atlanta Constitution carried numerous articles on its front page about Major McCollum's railroad activities and his involvement in the United Confederate Veterans organization and on its Society page about his family's social activities centered at their home at 15 Peachtree Place. In 1921 Major J.L. McCollum was described in the Atlanta Constitution as one of the most prominent officials of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. He died December 9, 1926 in Atlanta and Elizabeth died November 13, 1919.

Researched and written by William W. McCollum (mccollumw@comcast.net) Original Sources: Scottish Privy Council records, Basking Ridge (New Jersey) Presbyterian Church history, National Archives and Records Administration Revolutionary War pension papers, US census, Atlanta Constitution newspaper and Goodspeed's "History of East Tennessee." Secondary Sources: www.ancestry.com (Ancestry World Tree)


Submitted by William W. McCollum