Thomas Jerome Hart
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Submitted by Joy Fisher
Author: William Harden
THOMAS JEROME HART. Conspicuous among the active and enterprising men who
settled in Dawson while it was yet a small village, and who became an important
factor in developing and advancing its manufacturing and mercantile prosperity,
was the late Thomas Jerome Hart, whose death on January 25, 1904, removed from
the city one of its most respected and esteemed business men. Mr. Hart was born
in Tuscumbia. Alabama, December 1, 1827, coming from honored New England stock.
His father, Thomas Jerome Hart, Sr., was born in Connecticut, of early
English ancestry. When a young man he migrated to Alabama, settling in
Tuscumbia, where he was engaged in manufacturing until his death, a few years
later. He married Susan Allen, who was of Virginian ancestry. She was quite
young when left a widow, with three small children, Thomas Jerome, the subject
of this sketch; William; and Robert. Robert died unmarried. William, who died in
early life, left a family, and his descendants are now living in Alabama.
Brought up and educated in Alabama, Thomas Jerome Hart served an
apprenticeship at the carriage-maker's trade, making excellent use of his native
mechanical ability. Subsequently locating in Dawson, Georgia, he established a
carriage factory in the village, and subsequently erected the first brick
building in the place. Making a specialty of manufacturing buggies, the products
of his factory found a ready sale, and he became known far and wide as the
manufacturer of the "Hart Buggy," which was recognized as the very best in the
market. Successful from the start, Mr. Hart continued in active business in
Dawson until called from the scene of his earthly labors to the life beyond.
Mr. Hart was twice married. He married first, soon after coming to Dawson,
Sally Lassater, a native of Sumter county, Georgia. Her father, David Lassater,
presumably a native of Jasper county, moved from there to Sumter county in
pioneer days, and having purchased land near Plains carried on farming with
slave help. Mr. Lassater married Elizabeth Asbury Speer, who died November 4,
1861, leaving eleven children, as follows: John H.; Martha G.; William F.; James
A.; Amanda A., wife of Bynum H. Hood, of whom a brief personal record may be
found on another page of this work; Simeon M.; Jeremiah C.; Henry F.; Margaret
J.; Mary E.; and Sarah C., more familiarly known among her friends as "Sally."
Mrs. Sally Hart died at an early age, leaving one son, Willie, who died in early
Mr. Hart married second, September 4, 1890, Mrs. Mattie (Harris) Keith, who
was born in Terrell county, Georgia, a daughter of Edmond Jackson Harris and
granddaughter of Edmond Harris, a pioneer settler of La Grange, Troup county.
Edmond Jackson Harris was born in La Grange, and having received excellent
educational advantages was admitted while young to the bar. Instead of entering
upon a professional career, he chose the more peaceful pursuit of agriculture.
Locating in Terrell county soon after its organization, he bought a tract of
land lying twelve miles east of Dawson, and began its improvement. During the
war between the states he served in the Confederate army, through exposure and
privations while a soldier losing his health, and never fully recovering his
former physical vigor. At the close of the war he sold his plantation and
purchased land a mile and a half west of Dawson. For a while thereafter he was
engaged in the warehouse business in Dawson, but he maintained his residence on
the farm until his death, at the age of seventy-two years. The maiden name of
the wife of Edmond Jackson Harris was Martha Ann Bryan, who was born in Thomas
county, Georgia, of pioneer ancestry, her parents, Loverd and Edith (Wytch)
Bryan, having been the first couple married in Thomas county, while her
grandfather, Clement Bryan, was one of the first settlers of that county. She
died at the age of seventy-five years, having outlived her husband. She reared
eight children, as follows: Edmond S.; Mary Elizabeth, who became the first wife
of John W. Peddy, and the mother of Mrs. Lee Clark Hoyl; Susan R.; Goodwin Hall;
Mattie, now Mrs. Hart; Clare E.; Theo. Jackson; and Clementine Bryan.
Mattie Harris, now Mrs. Hart, married first Robert Anson Keith, who was born
in Dalton, Georgia, a son of John W. Keith, who came to Terrell county many
years ago, and having purchased land lying a mile west of Dawson resided there
until his death. Robert Anson Keith was reared and educated in north Georgia.
Coming to Georgia with his father, he became associated with him in the
ownership of the land they bought, and in its management, living on the home
farm until his death, which occurred three weeks after his marriage with Miss
Harris. Mrs. Keith subsequently married, as previously stated, Mr. Hart. Of the
union of Mr. and Mrs. Hart two children were born, namely: Thomas Jerome
Hart-and Edmund Harris Hart. Mr. Hart was reared an Episcopalian, but while a
resident of Dawson attended the Methodist Episcopal church, of which Mrs. Hart
is a member.
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