County, Georgia History
History of Early
By Judge L. P. Goodrich
History of Early Griffin is Re-Produced
so that all May Preserve the Record
history of early Griffin written by Judge L P. Goodrich is reprinted
because of the numerous requests from readers of THE NEWS that it be
published in one issue, making it easier to preserve it.
The history was originally
published in six installments and there were so many request for extra
copies that the supply ran out.
Many people who have read this
history have stated that they believe Judge Goodrich has contributed more
to Griffin in this authentic, interesting history, than any other man has
done during the year.
The lands embraced in Spalding county were
acquired by the state of Georgia from the Creek Indians on January 8th
, 1821, and formed a part of the original counties of Henry and Monroe.
The next year a part of Henry was added to Fayette and a new county,
called Pike, was carved out of the original Monroe.
Spalding county was created on December 20th,
1851, and included parts of Fayette, Henry and Pike. Griffin was laid out
and the first lots sold on June 8th, 1840.
Prior to 1840 this section was exceedingly
primitive and undeveloped. There was nothing resembling a town or village
in the present limits of Spalding county. The only post office was located
at Double Cabin, which was merely a country store. A few of the wealthier
planters had frame houses, but most of the people lived in log cabins. As
a rule the farms were large, and the settlements were far apart. Macon was
the nearest market, and wagons the only means of transportation. In 1836,
David C. Wallis conveyed to Bartholomew Still about 1200 acres of land,
for $3.50 per acre. This land included very nearly all of the present city
The founding of the city of Griffin, and
the subsequent growth and prosperity of the county, were due to the genius
and labors of an individual, whose memory should not be allowed to perish.
Gen. L. L.
General Lewis Lawrence Griffin was the first president of the Monroe
Railroad and Banking Company and the founder of the city of Griffin. The
information on him, which I have been able to collect is hardly
sufficient for a biography, but it reveals the outlines of an interesting
and inspiring character.
I have never
been able to learn the date or place of his birth, except that he was a
native Georgian. When a young man he located in Twiggs County, and began
his life very poor. This was about 1810. Twiggs county was then on the
frontier of the state. Just across the Ocmulgee river was the Indian
Territory. Mr. Griffin volunteered in the state Militia , and saw active
service under General David Newman in the Indian war known as the Florida
Campaign; and afterwards under General John Floyd and General Thomas
Glascock in the wars against the Creeks. He subsequently became a General
in the Georgia Militia, which was then a position of considerable
responsibility. He also served in the Legislature in 1829 and 1830. About
1831 he moved to Monroe County, and later to the city of Macon. In the
meantime, General Griffin had acquired a considerable fortune, and in
addition to his political and military honors, was regarded as one of the
wealthiest men in Middle Georgia.
problem that confronted the statesmen and business men of the day was the
question of transportation. Unless means of transportation could be
devised , the interior parts of the state must have remained undeveloped.
Augusta, Macon and Columbus were at the head of navigation on the
principal streams, and were the only markets for the Northern and Central
parts of the State. The first solition that suggested itself was to dig
canals. And the acts of the legislature from 1820 to 1830 are full of
impracticable schemes to construct canals from the Savannah and Ocmulgee
rivers to the Chattahoochee and Tennessee rivers. But the matter of rail
transportation was receiving consideration, as is shown by an act of the
legislature passed in 1825, which created a Board of Public Works, and
directed this board “to call to their aid all men of science which they
may deem necessary to enable them to report fully on the comparative
advantages of canals or railways.” George M. Troup was governor at this
time and Mr. J.H. Couper was a member of the Board of Public Works. The
prejudices and opposition which the pioneers of railroads encountered, are
illustrated by Mr. Couper in the following interview, which he relates,
with Governor Troup; “After a very earnest conversation with Governor
Troup, he at length said to me; ‘Well, Mr. Couper, I will go with you in
favor of railroads, But what power do you contemplate?’ My reply was
Locomotives, of course.’ ‘Good God,’ he said , ‘I cannot stand that, I
will go to the extent of horsepower.” This was in 1826. And there were
only twenty-two miles of railroad in the world.
One of the
earliest advocates of railroads and the most far-sighted, was General L.L.
Griffin. The first railroad chartered by the state of Georgia was the
Ocmulgee and Flint Railroad or Canal Co. This charter was granted in 1827
to Thomas Spalding, the man for whom Spalding county was afterwards named.
The company was authorized “to cut a canal or construct a railroad of
wood.” But in fact it did neither. The next charters were granted in
December 1833 in the following order: December 20th , The
Central Railroad and Canal Co., to build a railroad or canal from
Savannah to Macon. December 21st The Georgia Railroad Company,
to build a railroad or turnpike from Augusta to Madison and Athens. And
December 23rd , The Monroe Railroad Co. to build a railroad
from Macon to Forsyth. It will thus be seen that the Monroe Railroad Co.,
with General Griffin at its head, was the first company incorporated for
the avowed purpose of building a railroad in the state of Georgia. It was
also the first to lay an iron rail and to operate a locomotive.
Monroe Railroad & Banking Co.
The Monroe Railroad company
afterwards the Monroe Railroad and Banking was organized to construct a
track from Macon to Forsyth. But General Griffin had a greater vision than
this. His purpose was to complete a great trunk line from Savannah through
the center of the State, north, to the Tennessee River, and another line
from Augusta across the center of the State, west to the Chattahoochee or
Besides the Monroe Railroad,
there were in 1836 three other railroad projects, either under
construction or in immediate contemplation.. The Georgia Railroad was
building a line of road from Augusta to Madison, with authority to extend
this line westward. The Central Railroad was constructing a track from
Savannah to Macon. And the Western and Atlantic was projected from the
present site of Atlanta to Chattanooga. And General Griffin seized upon
the idea of extending the Monroe Railroad to Atlanta, so as to complete
the line from Savannah to the Tennessee River; and at the same time he
proposed to construct a western branch, which with Georgia railroad, would
complete the line from Augusta to the Chattahoochee. The charter of the
Monroe Railroad was, therefore, amended so as to permit the building of
the road to Atlanta (then called Terminus), and authorized the West Point
or Alabama Extension. “This was the most daring and ambitious scheme that
had been advanced in railroad construction.
City of Griffin
Griffin foresaw that the point where these two great lines of railroad
crossed, would be the Gate City of Georgia, and of the South. The point
selected by the engineers for the West Point Extention to intersect the
main line was located on the farm of Bartholomew Still in the northern
part of Pike county, near the Henry county line. This point was almost in
a direct line from Augusta and Madison to West Point and was the most
practicable place for the Georgia Railroad to connect. And thereupon,
General Griffin purchased eight hundred acres of land from Bartholomew
Still and laid out, not a village nor a town , but a city.
regular and generous streets and alleys, General Griffin laid out and
dedicated twenty-two acres of land for the following public uses:
Court House Square
Two ornamental squares or
Parade ground or athletic
of the plan of the city, General Griffin said: “in founding the city, my
objective was, in the donations made, to provide, previous to the sale of
any lots, for every interest, and to lay the foundation of the city upon a
sound basis.” It is interesting to examine the original plan of the city,
to catch the vision which its founder had of its future greatness, and to
inquire why all of his hopes were not realized.
The fact that
Atlanta secured the Georgia Railroad and the West Point Route, and thereby
became the railroad center and metropolis of the state justifies the hopes
which General Griffin once entertained for the city which he founded. And
the fact that the people of Griffin afterwards allowed the ornamental
parks and public squares to be appropriated and sold for private purposes
shows how far ahead of his times General Griffin was in city planning.
it became apparent that the purchase of this land and the sale of the city
lots was an immensely profitable speculation, General Griffin, who had
purchased the land and laid out the city on his own account, voluntarily
gave the investment to the Monroe Railroad and permitted it to reap the
profits. General Griffin himself gave the following account of this
transaction: “I purchased the lands on private accounts from Mr. Still ,
at about six dollars per acre, for the purpose of locating the city of
Griffin. I drew a map of the place after the survey; reviewed, selected,
and marked the lots for the churches, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian,
Episcopal, two lots for male and female academies, and squares for public
uses, Daniel Griffin drew for me a correct map, marking the donated
property. That gentleman was our chief engineer. He named the Broad
street , and I named the others.
“For the many
offices of honor conferred on me from time to time by the people of
Georgia and the company, I felt that I could give the investment to the
company without injury to my feelings. I was then wealthy for that
country, and had no children to provide for.
I proposed to the
directors to give the company the investment by their giving the company’s
obligation for the purchase money in the place of mine, and, in the name
of the company, to carry out the above donations made by me, and marked on
printed map. They agreed to do so, and did it. The chief engineer and
directors met, and I was informed that, on the suggestion of the engineer,
the Board called the place the city of Griffin. The only consideration
that I received from this immensely profitable investment was their
carrying out, in their name, my donations.”
simple and straightforward statement made in 1854, General Griffin added
the following beautiful sentiment: “I feel thankful to the Giver of all
good that I have been permitted to see my labors blessed and the people
for whom it was intended enjoying its benefits.”
realize that the sentiment was expressed by a man who had been unjustly
criticized and abused, and was said to the people who had joined in the
criticism and abuse, we can appreciate the moral greatness of General
The lots in
the city of Griffin were sold on June 8th , 1840. Shortly
thereafter a financial depression affected the entire country and the
Monroe Railroad and Banking Co., failed. To sustain the failing fortunes
of the company, General Griffin pledged his entire estate, and became
bankrupt with the enterprise of which he was the head.
It seems that
the only serious mistake that General Griffin made, was in attempting to
execute his plans, with insufficient capital. But it should be remembered
that railroads were then something entirely new, and the cost of
construction and operation had to be learned by experience. It should
also be noted that the Monroe Railroad and Banking Co. was capitalized at
$600,000.00 of which amount the State of Georgia subscribed $200,000 .00
and after the company had failed, a part of its assets, sold by the
receiver, consisted of “subscriptions for stock unpaid, including the
subscription of the State of Georgia for $200,000.00.” A contemporary
observer said: “If the stockholders and others directly interested in the
success of this enterprise had given their aid and countenance at this
critical junction, General Griffin and the Monroe Railroad and Banking
Company might have ridden out the storm, and carried the project
successfully through. But such was not the case, and defeat and disaster
were the consequence.”
Monroe Railroad Company suspended operation in 1844, it had graded the
line through to Atlanta, and completed the road from Jonesboro to Macon.
The Macon and Western Railroad Company, which was organized in 1845 for
the purpose of taking over the assets and franchise of the Monroe
Railroad, completed the track to Atlanta in less than a year, and it
immediately became a very successful enterprise.
There is a
homely phrase of the prize ring, that when a man is down he can never come
back. General Griffin was completely down. More than fifty years of age,
his wife and children dead, his pet enterprise a failure, his fortune
gone, the esteem and confidence of his friends destroyed, it took a man of
rare courage to start life over again. But instead of giving up and
quitting General Griffin removed to Aberdeen, Miss., remarried,
accumulated another fortune, raised a family of children, and died highly
honored and respected.
The City of Griffin
from Bartholomew Still to the Monroe Railroad and Banking Co., were made
in1839. The first lots in the city of Griffin were sold at auction on
June 8th 1840. There was a bold spring near the present
junction of the Central and Southern Railways. This spring was afterwards
covered by the embankment of the Chattanooga Branch of the Central, but
for a number of years it was the town spring, when New Orleans Street was
the main business thoroughfare. On June 8th, 1840, General
Griffin stood on a stump near the spring and sold the lots to the highest
bidders. The first lot was sold to William Leake for $1000.00. So far as
the records show, the following are the names of the original purchasers
from the Monroe Railroad and Banking Co.
Hunter & Beeks
Griffin Hotel Co.
John R. Clark
L. H. Beck
Thos. H.B. Rivers
Eli. H. Walker
Jas. A. Beeks
Beck, Dobbins & Co.
Henry L. Quitt
James M. Ward
Jones, Peck & Johnson
Jas. W. Corbin
Jos. B. Askew
John G. Hill
Martin & Reese
Thos. L. Jacckson
Cader H. Smith
John W. Jones
The list is
very incomplete, due to the failure of the purchasers to record their
deeds, which was a very common failure in those days.
To the list
should be added the names of the original settlers who did not purchase
from the Railroad. The following parties located on lots Nos. 129 and 160
in the third district of Henry County, which were included in the
corporate limits established by charter in 1843, but were not part of the
Wm. H. Pegg
Jas. L. Long
John T. Theawt
Miles G. Dobbins
Henry S. NcAllister
Collier owned the land south of Poplar street, and Martha Baker owned the
land west of tenth street. It was some years later before these sections
were subdivided and sold.
Railroad and Banking Co., began construction at the Macon end of their
line in 1836, and completed the track to Forsyth in 1838. In 1841, iron
rails had been laid to Barnesville, and wooden rails had been laid to
Griffin. The first cars that came to Griffin were pulled by horses from
Barnesville. The iron rails were laid to Griffin, and the first
locomotive ran to this place in 1842. Before the Monroe Railroad failed,
it had completed the track to Jonesboro. The Macon and Western Railroad
Co., which succeeded the old Monroe Railroad in 1845, completed the line
to Atlanta in 1846.
Railroad was completed from Augusta to Madison in 1837. The financial
difficulties of the Monroe Railroad delayed its completion especially
between Griffin and Atlanta. So the Georgia Railroad extended its line
from Madison to Atlanta, connecting with the Western and Atlantic
Railroad. This was in 1845. But Griffin still had an opportunity to
secure the West Point Route, which would, at least, have put it on an
equality with Atlanta. The story of how Griffin let Atlanta have this
railroad also, is rather hard to understand today. But conditions were
different in 1847.
the completion of the Monroe Railroad to this place, Griffin became an
important cotton market, Cherry & Brothers had a warehouse where the
Newton Coal and Lumber Co., now is; Gaulding and Ferrell ran another on
the corner of Hill and Taylor streets, where the Griffin Mercantile Co.,
now stands; A.B. Dulin another on Solomon street on the lot occupied by
the Griffin Knitting Mills, and B.W. Doe and Co., another on Broad street,
immediately east of the Episcopal church lot. 49,000 bales of cotton were
brought to Griffin annually. All of this cotton was brought in wagons, and
most of it came from the territory lying west of Griffin and extending
into Alabama. The main artery of this immense wagon trade was the
Meriwether or Greenville Public Road. This was also the stage route from
Griffin to Opelika, Alabama, which was a link in the New York and New
Orleans Mail Line. Between Griffin and Opelika there were 18 coaches, 240
horses, 15 drivers and 8 agents. The distance was ninety-three miles, and
running time eighteen hours. A contemporary account says: “The route
passes thru Greenville, LaGrange and West Point. Extra coaches are always
ready to carry forward in fast time any number of through passengers,
without detention. Indeed, this is one of the most superior mail routes in
the United States.”
was a diversity of opinion as to the relative advantages of a railroad or
turnpike over this route. A company for each purpose was projected and
Griffin had her choice. She chose the turnpike, and the railroad was
built to Atlanta.
and West Point Plank Road Co., was incorporated in 1849, and the plank
road was actually constructed from Griffin to Flat Shoals, but the
enterprise was a failure. The Greenville road is still called the Plank
The City of
Griffin grew very rapidly. During its birth from June 8th,
1840, in less than a year the city had three churches – Baptist, Methodist
and Presbyterian – an academy, and a newspaper. The Legislature
incorporated “The City of Griffin” on December 28th, 1843.
Just five days prior to this, the Legislature incorporated “The town of
Marthasville.” It was two years later before the town of Marthasville
aspired to be called the City of Atlanta. The census of 1850 gives the
population of these two places as follows; Atlanta, 2,572; Griffin 2,320.
But with the completion of the railroad to West Point, Atlanta became the
railroad center, and her growth was much more rapid.
history of Griffin has never been written. The materials for such a
history are contained largely in tradition, and partly in the public
records at the courthouses. Some of these records are in McDonough, and
others at Zebulon. Because the lands embraced within the present city
limits formerly lay in both Pike and Henry counties. The old Pike and
Henry county line ran East and West about two hundred feet north of
Tinsley street. In 1845, lots 129 and 160 were transferred to Pike county,
which moved the county line over a mile north of Tinsley street.
city, as laid out by General Griffin in 1840, was in the shape of a
rectangle, and lay entirely in Pike county. The northern boundary was the
old Henry county line, just north of Tinsley street. Poplar street was on
the south; Brawner street on the east, and Tenth street on the west.
Poplar, Tenth and Brawner streets were not laid out or named on the
original plan, but they correspond with the original south, west and east
streets, running east and west were Tinsley, Chappell, Broad, Solomon, and
Taylor. Each of these streets were 100 feet wide , except Broad which was
280 feet wide. The streets running north and south were First, Second,
Third, Fourth, Brooks, Sixth, Hill, Eight and Ninth. Each of these streets
were 60 feet, except Brooks and Hill which were 120 feet wide. Chappell
street was named for Hon. A.H. Chappell a distinguished lawyer of Forsyth,
and later of Columbus. Brooks and Solomon streets were named for Mr.
Alfred Brooks and Mr. Henry Solomon, both of Macon, Ga. Tinsley street
was named for Jas. W. Tinsley; Taylor street was named by Job Taylor. And
Hill street was named for Mr. John G. Hill one of the original settlers of
Griffin. All of these parties were associated with General Griffin in the
Monroe Railroad and Banking Company.
and west between the streets were alleys 30 feet wide. These alleys have
since been called Quilley street, Central avenue, Slaton avenue, and Bank
Alley. The blocks between the streets were 420 feet square, containing
approximately four acres, including the alleys.
original boundaries, General Griffin laid out and dedicated twenty-two
acres of land for public purposes, as follows.
Square. Four acres bounded north by Broad street, south by Solomon
street, and east and west by Brooks (or Fifth) street, which divided and
went on both sides of the Square. The present county jail occupies a small
portion of this square, which was afterwards cut up and sold.
Ground. Four acres bounded north by Taylor street, east by Fourth street
, south by Poplar street, and west by Brooks(or Fifth) street. The Sam
Bailey Public school is on this lot.
Ground. Four acres, bounded north by Taylor street, and west by First
street. This lot was afterward dedicated to the Confederate Soldiers
Ornamental Park. One acre bounded north by Bank Alley, east by Hill
Street , and south by Taylor Street.
Park. One acre, bounded north by Quilly street, west by Sixth street, and
south by Chappell street.
Methodist church. One acre, bounded north by Quilly street west by Eight
street, and south by Chappell street.
Church. One acre, bounded north by Quilly street, west by Hill street,
and south by Chappell street.
Church. One acre, bounded north by Quilly street, west by Hill street,
and south by Chappell street.
Academy. One acre, bounded north by Quilly street, east by Sixth street,
and south by Chappell street.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. One acre bounded north by Solomon street,
west by Eighth street, and south by Bank Alley. The Griffin Hotel is on a
corner of this lot.
Baptist Church. One acre, bounded north by Solomon street, east by Hill
street and south by Bank Alley.
Methodist Church. One acre, bounded north by Solomon street, east by
Sixth street, and south by Bank Alley.
Academy. One acre, bounded north by Solomon street, east by Sixth street,
and south by Bank Alley. The new court house occupies a part of this lot.
original plan of the city was remarkably symmetrical. The court house
square was about in the center. The churches and schools were arranged in
two groups, facing respectively on Chappell and Solomon street, between
Sixth and Eighth streets, and the north and south sides each had a public
park or Ornamental Square. The Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist
churches took possession of their respective lots, and erected churches at
an early date. A school house was erected on the Female Academy lot. But
the other features of General Griffins plan were sadly neglected. The
Cumberland Presbyterian church and the Protestant Methodist church never
organized and the Episcopal church did not take possession of its lot
until 1869. Griffin was not a county site until December 1851, and a court
house square seemed unnecessary. Likewise Ornamental Parks and Parade
Grounds were regarded as needless encumbrances. But no sufficient reason
appears why the Male Academy lot should have been abandoned. Nevertheless
all of these things happened, resulting in the loss to the city of these
magnificent donations, which are now so badly needed for schools,
playgrounds, and athletic field.
Christian church was organized in 1849 but purchased a lot for itself, as
none had been donated to it in the plan of the city.
never had occasion to inquire into the manner in which the Court House
Square, and the lot of the Cumberland Presbyterian church were disposed
of. This occurred prior to 1850. But I happen to know something about the
others. General Griffin was very particular about these donated lots, and
anxious for them to be preserved and used. He stated
positively that the
Monroe Railroad executed deeds to each of these lots. He said; “ I being
President, signed the title papers. The consideration named in the deeds
was small, - whatever it was, I paid for the parties, in order that there
never should be a plea of want of consideration. I directed the cashier,
Jeremiah Leake, to have the deeds recorded in the clerks office,
Zebulon.” But Jeremiah failed to record the deeds and numerous questions
have arisen because of his failure. So far as the records show, the title
to these lots remain in the Monroe Railroad and Banking Company, and no
deeds from the company have ever been found.
In 1854, when
the Baptist Church desired to sell its lot, and reinvest the proceeds in
its present lot, the question was raised as to whether or not the church
could convey a good title to the property. In order to test this
question, a test case was made. Mr. Jas. Becks and Colonel Henry Moor
filed a bill of injunction to stop the sale, and eminent counsel were
employed. General Griffin was then living in Mississippi, and being
appealed to, he wrote a letter to Rev. J. H. Campbell, pastor of the
Baptist Church, in which he said: “I do not believe that the deeds have
any provision for reversion, as that would have prevented the parties
improving the property, - the opposite of my policy. If the parties can
sell the property to advantage, use the proceeds so as to accomplish more
of the good first intended for them, as the consideration of the gift, I
feel that would be acting in good faith. And, with the lights before me,
I can not see whence a legal objection could come.” The injunction was
dismissed, and the lot was sold.
But a more
serious question arose in regard to certain other lots. It seems that
Bartholomew Still sold the land to the Railroad on credit, but gave the
company a warranty deed, and accepted its unsecured notes for the purchase
money. When the Railroad failed, one of these notes was unpaid, and
remained unpaid. Some years later before the Civil War, the executor of
Bartholomew Still filed a bill in equity against the city of Griffin and
others, in which he sought to subject the donated lots to the payment of
this debt, on the ground that the title was still in the railroad. The
case was carried by to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled that all lots
which had been taken possession of and improved by the donees, were
discharged from any claim in favor of Mr. Still; but that any of the
dedicated lots which remained vacant or unoccupied, could be levied on and
sold to pay this indebtedness. This eliminated all of the dedications
except the Parade Grounds, the two Ornamental Parks, the two Academy lots,
and the lots of the Episcopal and Protestant Methodist churches, which
were vacant and unoccupied. In 1869 a decree was rendered in favor of the
plaintiff for $6,377.00 including principal, interest, and costs which
decree provided that so much of these lots should be sold, as were
necessary to pay the amount of the judgement and that the remainder of the
property, if any, should vest in the City of Griffin. Under this decree,
the two Ornamental Parks, the two Academy lots and the Protestant
Methodist Church lot were sold by the Sheriff. The Episcopal church lot
and the Parade Grounds were turned back to the City under the terms of the
the same year, 1869, the City donated the Episcopal church lot to the St.
George Episcopal Church, to whom rightfully belonged, and the church
immediately sold it, and reinvested the proceeds in present lot on Tenth
Street. Shortly after this, the City turned the parade grounds over to
the Griffin Male Institute, which erected the Sam Bailey School building
on it. About 1889, the Presbyterian church sold its lot and removed to
its present location. The Methodist church still occupies a portion of
its original lot, which, with the Soldiers’ Cemetery on the Old Burial
Ground, are all that is left to perpetuate the purposes for which the lots
In the plan
of the City, Broad Street was evidenually designated as the main business
thoroughfare, and Brooks (or Fifth) Street, leading to the Courthouse
Square, was intended as an important avenue. But in those days, at least,
cities were evolved according to circumstances, and not made according to
New Orleans Street
Before the City of Griffin was laid
out, the old McDonough Public Road ran through the farm of Bartholomew
Still. Near the point where the passenger depot stands, the road forked,
the eastern branch leading to Zebulon and the western branch to Greenville
in Meriwether County. As a rule, the roads were changed to conform to the
streets of the city. The Zebulon road followed Eighth street, but the old
Meriwether road continued to be used. The road followed very closely the
present side track of the Southern railroad leading to the passenger
depot. It came into town along Meriwether street, crossed Poplar street
where the Southern bridge now stands and ran diagonally to Broad street,
which it intersected where the side track now crosses. This roadway was
not in the plan of the city. It did not correspond to any of the
streets. It ran across private property. But most of the trade came to
town along this roadway, and the merchants were quick to discover that it
was better to have a store facing this established highway, than to have
one on a newly made street. Hence the road was allowed to remain and all
of the first stores in Griffin were built on this road, between Broad and
Poplar Streets, and it became known as New Orleans street. For several
years this was the only business street in town. There were brick
storehouses on both sides from Broad to Solomon, and several brick
buildings between Solomon and Poplar. By 1850 the main business section
was on Broad Street, between New Orleans and Hill. And by 1860 Hill had
become the principal street. When the Georgia Midland and Gulf Railroad
came through Griffin in 1886, the City donated New Orleans Street for a
right of way, and all traces of the old street have been removed.
Brooks (or Fifth) Street divided the
City very nearly into east and west halves. But all of the early
activities were conducted on the west half, and when the City began to
grow, it extended north, west, and south. The East half remained
undeveloped a long while. The first addition to the original city was
made by Dr. Jas. L. Long, the physician in the place. Dr. Long built and
lived in the house where Dr. J. F. Stewart now resides on the corner of
North Hill and Quilly streets. In 1843, he opened North Hill street from
the Henry County line to Cherry Street, and laid out Cherry Street from
Sixth to Ninth streets. Cherry was originally called Long Street, and the
name ought to have been retained. Some of the oldest residences were
built on this addition, including the home of Sidney Lanier.
Sidney Lanier was born in Macon, Ga.,
on the third of February, 1842, his brother, Clifford Lanier, was born in
Griffin, April 24th , 1844. Sometime between these two dates
Robert S. Lanier, the father of Sidney and Clifford, moved to Griffin, and
purchased the lot on North Hill Street where I now reside. There was a
house on this lot which was afterwards removed. Robert S. Lanier sold
this place to Dr. W. H. Prichard in 1847, and returned to Macon soon
afterwards. Dr. Prichard built the present house in 1850. Sidney Lanier
was christened in the old Presbyterian Church which stood on the corner of
Hill and Chappell streets. Some of the old oak trees are still standing
on North Hill street under which he played as a child and now, as then,
“When the moon is no more, and the riot
is in rest,
And the sun is awake,
at the ponderous gates of the west,
The slant yellow beams down the
wood/aisle doth seem
Like a lane into heaven that leads
from a dream.”
Sidney Lanier returned to Spalding
County on a visit in 1874, and while at the home of his friend, Capt. John
M. Kell, near Sunnyside, wrote one of his loveliest lyrics. The great
poet, in search of health and fortune, had journeyed far. He had been a
soldier and wanderer. But visiting the scenes of his childhood he wrote
on this occasion,
“Oh steadfast dweller on the self same
Where thou wast born,
that still repinest not
Type of the home-fond heart, the happy
Clifford Lanier was also a
distinguished poet. There are many of his poems that it would be
worthwhile to mention. But I will content myself with one. It expresses
his view of life “past the Western gate.”
“In circles ever moveth life around
Without decline; death puts no term nor bound;
Age at old portals is
that new scene beyond the gate.
This little grain of life
was sweet; how grand
planetary round of God’s new land.”
Lanier was a lawyer, and was one of the first members of the Griffin Bar.
But I think that Mr. Henry Moore preceded him. Mr. Moor was Chairman of
the first Board of Commissioners of the City, and a member of the
Convention which passed the ordinance of Secession, for which he voted.
another distinguished member of the early Griffin Bar, whose name has
almost been forgotten. Urbane B. Oglesby came to Griffin from Missouri,
prior to 1855. Though he was a native of Georgia, his son Thaddeus K.
Oglesby, was born in 1847, Booneville, Mo., where I presume the family
resided. Mr. Oglesby, Sr., had been very prominent in politics in
Missouri, and came within one vote of defeating Thos. H. Benton for the
United States senate. While practicing law in Griffin, Mr. Oglesby was
the legal preceptor of Judge W. L. Grice, afterwards of Hawkinsville, who
was admitted to the Bar in Griffin in 1855. Judge Grice wrote: “Mr.
Oglesby lived until after the war. He was a tall, rather baldheaded man,
stooped a little in his old age. He was a thoroughbred, well grounded
lawyer.” This is all the information I have concerning him. But the son
T. K. Oglesby was for several years private secretary to Hon. A. H.
Stephens, and an author of some distinction. He died some years ago while
an editorial writer of the Savannah Morning News.
noted members of the Griffin Bar prior to the Civil War included Judge
Jas. H. Stark, Hon. Andrew R. Moore, Judge Gilpin J. Green, Judge E. W.
Beck, Hon. David J. Bailey, Judge John D. Stewart, Col. L. T. Doyal, and
J. Q. A. Alford.
newspaper was printed in 1841 by William Cline, and was called the
Jeffersonian. The Jeffersonian was, of course, an orthodox democrat. A
copy of this old newspaper dated September 7th, 1847, was
loaned to me by Mr. James F. Thompson. In 1845, Mr. A. G. Murray
established the American Whig, which was changed to the American Union in
1851. A file of this paper can be found in the office of the Ordinary.
It was published until 1861, when the name was changed to The Southern
Union. In 1856, A. A. Gaulding was publishing The Empire State, a
Democratic organ, but I do not know when it was established. A copy of
this paper dated November 19th, 1856, was furnished me by Mrs.
Bessie Dortch of Aberdeen, Miss.
hotel was the Griffin Hotel, located on the corner of Broad and Sixth
streets, where the Peoples Warehouse now stands. About 1845, the Griffin
Hotel was built on the corner of Hill and Broad streets where the Gresham
Manufacturing Company is. This old building burned in 1891, after it had
ceased to be used as a hotel. It was about 100 feet long, 50 feet wide,
and three and a half stories high, constructed of wood. The
conflagration, when it burned, has left an enduring memory. The Planters
Hotel was built a few years later by William Freeman. This building still
stands on Poplar Street next to the Southern Railway, where Dr. J. M.
Kelley afterwards resided.
store” in the early forties was run by H. J. and J. B. Sargent in a brick
building on the corner of New Orleans and Broad Streets. H. J. Sargent
raised a volunteer company known as the Fannin Avengers, and went to the
Mexican War. F. N. Ison, H. B. Holliday, G. D. Johnson, T. D. Bertody, W.
J. Perry, Henry McAllister, and Thos. Ison, names familiar in Griffin
annals, were members of the company. After the Mexican War, the Sargents
moved to Coweta County, and established a cotton factory at the station on
the Central Railroad which now bears their name. They were succeeded by
J. A. and J. C. Beeks, who opened a large store on the corner of Hill and
Broad streets, where Johnson’s Drug Store now is. In 1849, E. R. Goodrich
joined this firm which continued the largest in Griffin until the Civil
The names of
the leading antebellum physicians will appear among the incorporators of
the Middle Georgia Medical College. My information is that Drs. R. A.
McDonald and Jas. R. Cleveland were the earliest dentists.
Mr. Tom Ware, late of DeKalb County,
who contributed to the Atlanta Constitution under the pen name of Sarge
Plunkett, once lived in Griffin, and was present when the first lots were
sold. He states in one of his articles that “the first bank in Griffin
was a little ten by twelve rock house, protected at night by a big bulldog
procured for the purpose.” But he fails to state where the house was
located or the name of the bull dog. The Monroe Railroad & Banking Co.,
The Georgia State Bank, and possibly some other institutions established
branch banks in Griffin at an early date. But the first bank chartered in
Griffin was the Interior Bank of the State of Georgia. This was
incorporated in 1854 by
John B. Reid
Wm. R. Phillips
T. D. Johnson
J. S. Jones
D. A. Johnson
banks were incorporated in this place prior to 1860 as follows:
1856 The Exchange Bank of
Louis S. Salmons
Jno. W. Shackleford
L. H. Durham
R. Q. Dickerson
C. H. Smith
J. H. Lumpkin
Savings Bank of Griffin. Incorporators:
Miles G. Dobbins
Wm. R. Phillips
Wm. L. Gordon
Isaac B. Williamson
Wm. D. Alexander
the issue of The Empire State, published November 19th, 1856,
my attention was attracted by the following editorial: “In our
advertising column today will be found the annual statement of the
Interior Bank of the State of Georgia, by which it will be percieved that
it is in a sound and healthy condition. Wild cat, or no wild cat, we defy
any bank in Georgia to show a more favorable account of its condition.”
In this highly flattering notice here is at least a suggestion that the
Interior Bank was not, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion.
was as follows:
Bills and notes
Due from Banks,
Banking House, and
Bills on Solvent
There are two
remarkable things about this statement. In the first place, the capital
stock of the Interior Bank was $500,000.00, which is more than the
combined capital of the three banks operating in Griffin today. And in
the second place the deposits amounted to only $1,112.83. In the light of
the present conditions, it is difficult to see how a bank could run at all
with no more deposits than that. Yet the statement shows a healthy profit
The list of
stockholder follows, which increases the mystery:
Smith 4,930 shares
S. C. Higginson
Valentine 10 shares
Reid 10 shares
Phillips 10 shares
Markham 10 shares
Jones 10 shares
S. C. Higginson, J. R. Valentine, P. Giddes, and Robert Reid are
unfamiliar names. Who was George Smith that owned $493,000 in Griffin
Mr. John J.
Knox wrote a “History of Banking in the United States”. Mr. Knox was
comptroller of the currency of the United States from 1872 to 1884 and was
the author of the National Coinage Act of 1873. A copy of his history can
be seen in the Carnegie Library in Atlanta.
Mr. Knox a Scotchman named George Smith located in Chicago about 1840, and
engaged in banking in Illinois and Wisconsin. Mr. Smith obtained a
charter for the Marine and Fire Insurance Co. of Wisconsin, and began
issuing warrants or certificates of this company intended to circulate as
money. These certificates were always signed “George Smith, president,”
and were popularly known as “George Smith money”. Those were days of
wildcat banks, and worthless paper currency, but unlike most other
institutions, the Marine and Fire Insurance Co., always redeemed its
certificates promptly, and in consequence “George Smith money” became the
standard paper currency in the northwest and Mississippi Valley.
a law was passed which prohibited an insurance company from issuing notes,
and it became necessary for Mr. Smith to issue his currency in the name of
a bank. He, therefore, came to Georgia and purchased control of the
Interior Bank at Griffin and issued his notes in the name of the Interior
Bank of Georgia. These notes were never intended for circulation in
Georgia but were carried to Chicago and circulated throughout the
Northwest. About the beginning of the Civil War, Mr. Smith closed out his
banking business and returned to England, a millionaire. But, it is
stated, Mr. Smith redeemed every note that was returned for redemption,
and honorably liquidated every obligation of the Interior Bank. So,
“wildcat or no wildcat,” we can defy any bank in the world to show a more
One of the
largest and most successful institutions in Georgia today is the Southern
Mutual Insurance Co. This company was organized in Griffin, where it had
its principal office for several years. The company was chartered in
1847, and the first Board of Directors consisted of:
John G. Hill, Griffin,
James Clark, Lumpkin,
Ga., Vice Pres.
John U. Parsons, Griffin,
H. K. McKay, Americus,
L. R. Brewer, Griffin,
Curtis Lewis, Griffin,
H. J. Sargent, Griffin,
Wm. H. White, Griffin,
Wm. Boynton, Lumpkin, Ga.
John Dill, Ft. Gaines,
Charles F. Bernis, Ft.
office of the company was on the corner of New Orleans and Broad streets.
The company afterwards moved to Athens where it still resides.
County was created by an act of the Legislature on December 20th,
1851, and was named for Hon. Thomas Spalding of McIntosh County. At first
the county did not extend beyond the Flint River, but Line Creek District
was added in 1856. In 1854, a small part of Butts County was added to
Spalding, and Lots 96 and 97 in the First District of Original Monroe
county were transferred from Spalding back to Pike county. These lots
were the home of Uriah Askew. Lots 96 and 97 were not adjacent to the
Pike County line, but lay some distance over the interior of Spalding. So
if the act were constitutional, Pike county would include a little
detached island, completely surrounded by Spalding county lands. So far
as I can find the Supreme Court, has never passed upon this act, which has
never been repealed. It has been disregarded for a number of years, and I
think that it was declared illegal by the Superior Court.
early industries of Griffin, mention should be made of Finley’s Foundry
and Machine Works, and the Hide and Leather businesses of Henry Banks.
Mr. Banks built the house on Solomon Street where Mr. H.W. Hasselkus
afterwards lived, and conducted a large tanning yard on the same lot.
Robert Finley was an engineer on the Monroe Railroad and Banking Co., and
ran the first locomotive from Macon to Forsyth. Leaving the employ of the
railroad, he located in Griffin, and established an extensive foundry and
machine shop on North Hill street, between the residence of Mr. B. R.
Blakely and the former residence of Mrs. Vone H. Mills. He afterwards
moved his works to Macon.
Griffin and North Alabama Railroad, now the Chattanooga Branch of the
Central, was incorporated in 1854, but actual construction did not begin
until after the war.
striking feature about the early history of Griffin is the interest which
was manifest in education. The Griffin Male and Female Academy was
organized in 1840, and built the little brick schoolhouse on the Female
Academy lot, where Mrs. M. E. Critendon taught for many years after the
war. This institution was incorporated in 1841, with the following Board
Pitt S. Miller
Jas. S. Long
The names of
these pioneers in the educational work of the city should be preserved.
Jeffersonian for 1848, there are two schools prominently advertised. The
Griffin School, James Hilsman, president and The Female Institute and
Griffin High School, J. Rosemond, president. Mr. Hilsman stated that his
school numbered 125 pupils during the year (1848) and had obtained the
services of a lady in every way competent and a gentleman of classical
talents. The faculty of The Female Institute and High School consisted
J. Rosamond, Pres.
Mrs. L. Brown, Art
Miss Julia Rogers, Music
Miss Maria Atwater,
Science and French.
The cost of
education in those days can be arrived at from the advertisement of the
Female Institute and High School.
Writing and Arithmetic, per quarter $4.00
Geography and History, per quarter $6.00
Ancient Languages, per quarter $8.00
made some provision for paying the tuition of the poor children out of
“Poor School Funds”, but this was very inadequate.
But prior to
1860, the following institutions of learning had been established in
Griffin and were in a highly flourishing condition:
The Griffin Synodical
The Griffin Female
The Middle Georgia
Each of these
was a chartered educational institution, authorized to grant diplomas,
honors and degrees. The building of the Female College still stands on
the corner of College and Eighth streets and is occupied by Mr. R. B.
Joiner. The Medical College was the two-storied brick building on the
northwest corner of Broad and Fifth streets, afterwards known as the
Goddard House. The building of The Synodical College was burned during
the Civil War. A picture of this handsome old building may be seen in
White’s Historical Collections of Georgia, from which I take the following
description: “The college edifice is built of brick, 100 feet long, and
50 feet wide, and two stories high. It contains on the lower floor a
large chapel room for the primary department and a parlor. On the second
floor are four large recitation rooms, and a large study room, well
furnished with desks and chairs. The building occupies a commanding
situation and is surrounded by beautiful grounds.” The site of this
building was the four-acre lot now occupied by the Library and High
School. Marshall College was located on a six acre lot which lay west of
Thirteenth street, and the building fronted the intersection of Broad and
Thirteenth. This building was burned about 1870, and I have never seen it
The Board of
Trustees of these institutions constitute an honor roll of the early and
most public spirited citizens of Griffin. The Synodical College was
incorporated in 1852 with the following trustees:
John B. Reid
Hugh H. Kirkpatrick
Jas. H. Stark
E. P. Daniel
W. W. Chapman
Jas. S. Long
Jas. S. Jones
Andrew R. Moore
W. J. Keith
W. N. Cunningham
J. D. Stephens
J. G. Alexander
R. T. Marks
Andrew J. Peden
College was chartered in 1852 as the Griffin Collegiate Seminary for Young
Ladies, but the name was changed in 1854. The Board of Trustees consisted
John B. Reid
W. W. Chapman
John G. Hill
J. J. Purce
College was incorporated in 1853, with the following Trustees:
Jesse H. Campbell
Augustus L. Brodus
J. Q. A. Alford
Jas. H. Stark
Andrew W. Walker
Wm. R. Phillips
W. W. Woodruff
Chas. H. Johnson
trustees represented the Flint River Baptist Association, the City of
Griffin, the Presbyterian, Methodist and Christian churches, Warren Lodge,
I.O.O.F., and Meridian Sun Lodge, A. & A. M. In 1858 the college was
given over to the Missionary Baptist Church, and the following Board of
Jonathan P. Miller
J. Q. A. Alford
Erastus W. Beck
Aquilla B. Mathews
L. T. Doyal
Jno. W. Whitaker
John D. Stewart
Miles G. Dobbins
Chas. H. Johnson
John T. Bansome
Henry P. Hill
College was chartered in 1859, but it was a development of a medical
college which had been conducted by Dr. Edward C. Knott for a number of
years prior to that time. The incorporators were all physicians and as
far as I know lived in Griffin, viz:
Edward F. Knott
Simeon H. Sanders
John D. Chattfield
Thomas M. Darnall
J. H. Condly
Milton J. Daniel
John L. Moore
Samuel H. Smith
The board of
trustees, named in the act of incorporation were:
J. Q. A. Alford
Wm. J. Jossey
G. J. Greene
L. T. Doyal
George W. Grant
E. W. Beck
above, these names represent the most prominent and public spirited men in
the community and deserve more than passing reference.
College was under the direction of Rev. C. P. B. Martin. Prof. Martin was
a pupil and namesake of the famous Carlisle Pollock Beman, who taught the
old Mt. Zion Academy in Hancock County. Mr. L. L. Knight in his Georgia
Landmarks says: “Mt. Zion was a school which the Bemans - Nathan and
Carlisle - made famous throughout the land.” Prof. Martin was one of the
most noted educators in Georgia. He afterwards removed to Texas, and was
prominently identified with the educational interests of that state.
College was under the presidency of Rev. Adiel Sherwood. Dr. Sherwood was
a graduate of Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., and had taught in Columbia
College, Washington, D.C. and later at Mercer University.
College was under the direction of Prof. Hugh E. Morrow. Prof. Morrow was
a native of Belfast, Ireland, and a graduate of the University of
Georgia. He was an experienced teacher, and eminently qualified for his
leadership of these distinguished educators, the Griffin colleges occupied
the very highest rank among the institutions of the state.
schools continued in a prosperous condition until the Civil War, and were
attended by pupils from all parts of Georgia and the adjoining states.
But after the war, they never revived. The Medical College building was
sold in 1869, and soon became a hotel. The Synodical College was used as
a hospital during the war, and while so used, was burned down. The
trustees conveyed the lot to the Griffin Male Institute in 1870, and the
latter turned it over to the Board of Education in 1884. The lot remained
vacant until 1891, when the old High School building was erected.
Marshall College was levied on and was by the Sheriff in 1866. It was
subsequently acquired by Professors Hulsey and Tignor who conducted a
private school for a few years. But the building was burned in 1870, and
the lot was sold for residential purposes.
College was sold to A. B. Niles in 1869, and he conducted a private school
for several years. After the death of Prof. Niles, Prof. George B. Butler
conducted a rather high class school in the building. But the building
library and the paraphernalia were sold by the Niles heirs in 1885, to Mr.
F. G. Bailey, and it ceased to be used for school purposes.
of education in Griffin, like almost everything else after the war, should
open with an entirely new chapter.
Sun Lodge and Pythogoras Chapter No. 10 F. and A. M., were incorporated in
1850. The charter members of the Meridian Sun Lodge were:
A. A. Wooten
members of Pythogoras Chapter No. 10 were:
W. W. Chapman
Nathan B. Johnson
destructive fires occurred in Griffin prior to 1860, the first, about
1855, destroyed the entire block on the west side of Hill between Broad
street and Slaton’s avenue. The second, in 1859, destroyed the block on
the west side of Hill street between Slaton’s avenue and Solomon street,
except the Joe A. Rice Building. Immediately after this fire, the first
volunteer fire company was organized. The company purchased an engine
which pumped by manpower, and constructed cisterns, some of which still
remain, on Hill street. I have never seen a list of the members of the
old company, but I have a notice of a business meeting which was signed:
Gilman J. Drake,
W. L. Goodrich, Secretary
H. Osborne, Treasurer
Griffin Light Guards were organized several years before the Civil War.
The original officers were:
S. W. Mangham, Captain
Chas. S. Wright, 1st
William Cline, 2nd
L. J. Bloodworth, 3rd
my information, one of the first houses erected in Griffin in 1840, was
the house afterwards occupied by Dr. T. J. Collier. This old home was
built by Daniel Griffin, and was located on the corner of Eighth and
Taylor Streets, facing the former. It was later moved to its present
location on the corner of Eighth and Bank Alley. Daniel Griffin was the
chief engineer of the Monroe Railroad and Banking Co. The chief engineer
of the Macon and Western Railroad Company, which succeeded the Monroe
Railroad was Daniel Holman. He also located in Griffin. Mr. H. S. Watt
was chief engineer of Savannah, Griffin and North Alabama Railroad, and
Mr. M. F. Tutwiller was chief engineer of the projected Griffin,
Monticello and Madison Railroad. Both of these gentlemen located in
Griffin. And the late E. H. Davis, of Griffin was the engineer of the
State Highway Department. The only remarkable circumstance in the fact is
that the chief engineer of the Georgia Midland Railroad failed to locate
here. Evidently he did not take a good survey of the city.
Many fine old
homes were erected in Griffin prior to the Civil War, some of which remain
to attest the wealth and culture of the early days. One of the oldest of
these is the house built by John G. Hill, on the corner of North Hill and
Quilly street, where Mr. Jeff Brooks afterwards lived. Just beyond this
is the old home erected by Rev. Obediah C. Gibson, on the corner of Hill
and Tinsley streets, now owned by Mrs. Vone H. Mills. Jas. A. Beeks built
the house on the opposite side of Hill street in 1840, and three doors
further North is the house erected in 1850 by Dr. W. H. Prichard on the
lot which he purchased from Robert S. Lanier.
Northwest corner of Hill and Cherry streets is the old house built by Col.
Henry Moore. This house formerly stood on the Southeast corner where Mr.
B. R. Blakely resides. During the Civil War, this was the home of Miss
Bettie Childress, who was married in this house to General John G. Brown,
C.S.A. General Brown afterwards became governor of Tennessee, and “Miss
Bettie” was mistress of the governor’s mansion at Nashville.
The home of
Judge John B. Reid is still standing, facing Poplar street in the rear of
the Yarborough Motor Company, known as the old Nall place, and further out
South Hill street, are the old homes of Ben M. Miller and W. A. Redding.
The Miller house was afterwards owned by Captain H. P. Hill, and is now
owned by O. S. Tyus. The Redding is known today as the old Baker place
owned by Dr. D. A. Forrer.
The home of
Mrs. R. F. Strickland on College and Eighth streets was erected by Judge
J. H. Stark. And the home of the late Judge Robert T. Daniel on Tenth and
Poplar streets was erected by his grandfather General E. P. Daniel. Mr.
W. W. Chapman built the Kincaid home on Eighth and Poplar streets. The
home of Dr. N. B. Drewry on Solomon street was built by William Mitchell.
The homes of J. P. Nichols, Sr., and Judge J. A. Drewry, on Thirteenth
street, were erected by Solomon Bridges and Parker Eason. Hon. David J.
Bailey, Sr., built the old Bailey home on Meriwether street, and just in
front of the Bailey place is the old home of Curtis Lewis afterwards known
as the Drake place. The present home of Mrs. D. J. Bailey on Tenth and
Solomon streets was built by Rev. W. J. Keith.
All of these
fine old structures are in an excellent state of preservation, and some of
them are still occupied by the children and grandchildren of the original
to the names of the early settlers to whom reference has already been
made, special reference should be made to the following useful citizens of
the Antebellum Period:
Henry T. Brawner
F. D. Dismuke
J. S. Westbrook
W. G. Dewberry
T. J. Brooks
Isaac C. Nichols
Jas. W. English
English was a buggy trimmer and Fletcher Hanson was a prescription clerk
in a drug store on Broad Street. Mr. English was later mayor of Atlanta,
and one of its leading citizens. Mr. Hanson became President of the
Central of Georgia Railroad Company.
memorandum is not intended as a history. It contains many serious
omissions and not a few inaccuracies. But it is written in the hope that
someone better fitted will revise and complete the story.
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