Saturday, February 11, 2017


Rose Nubin was born in 1915  to two poor cotton pickers.  When she died at the age of 58, Rose was considered to be at the top of her field.  This is the story of a little girl from the little cotton growing community of Cotton Plant, Arkansas who became one of the most famous artists of her kind in America and around the world, and her many trips to Dublin to display her unparalleled ability.

As a very young girl, Rose was influenced by her mother, who loved to praise the Gospel of the Lord.  Soon Rose began singing with her mother in local Churches of God In Christ and churches of other denominations around the state and the country.  Rose's mother Katie was called to preach, an anomaly allowed by her church in the days of male dominated ministers.   At 19, Rose married Thomas, who joined her and her mother as they traveled around the country.   In just a few years, Rose left Thomas and moved to New York City, where she recorded a song for the first time in 1938.  Her first four songs for Decca Records - "Rock Me," "That's All," "My Man and I,"  and" "The Lonesome Road" - became popular hits.

When Rose performed on the same stage with jazz great Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club and at Carnegie Hall in the "Spirituals to Swing" concert, she rocketed to stardom.  From that point on, Rose was a star, although she continued to play at the largest of venues and the smallest of small town and country churches across the country.

There were thousands of female gospel singers, but few of them played a guitar. And, even fewer strummed a guitar with the passionate, driving rhythms and sang with the intense, soulful lyrics  as Rose did.  Beginning at the age of four,  Rose grew and matured as  her style was transformed from Gospel to blues to rock.  Her mixture of the three genres is said tohave  influenced the rock and rollers of the 1950s; Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Beginning in 1948, Rose and her entourage appeared in regular performances in Dublin - at least eight of them.  The first known performance was held in the Laurens County Courthouse on June 30, 1948.  Rose and her new friend and musical partner, Marie Knight, whom she had met in 1946, put on two dazzling, foot-stomping shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. for the low price of $1.00 per ticket. Fans of her music could buy her records at  Kendrick's Auto Supply at 108 W. Jackson St..   The shows were sponsored by Bishop Roma Dell Fields, pastor and founder of Faith Temple Church of God In Christ on South Washington Street in Dublin.  In the years to come, Fields, apparently, a close friend of Rose, was able to convince her to return to Dublin again and again.  A dozen years later, one of Rose's imitators, Little Richard Penniman, would stand in the same spot, not singing, but by preaching the blessings of the Lord.

Rose's second known and probably most attended appearance in Dublin came on a Sunday evening, September 5, 1954 in Lovett Park, just a week after the end of baseball season. The event was sponsored by St. Paul A.M.E. Church. The promoters promised that Rose and her all star attraction would blend with one soul as the more you hear  her sing, the more you want to hear her sing.  A special section of 500 reserved seats were set aside for white music lovers. Marie Knight (left) returned with Rose. They were joined by Professor Jimmy Roots, Rose's piano man and musical director, who was also somewhat of a legend in the music business. The performers gathered at Dudley's Retreat after the concert for a meet and greet.

Rose and her mother returned to this area on October 12, 1955 for a Wednesday evening concert appearance at Mt. Pleasant A.M.E. northwest of Wrightsville.

On Sunday, September 30, 1956, Rose performed for the first time at Faith Temple Church of God in Christ.  Earlier that morning, Rose performed live on the airwaves of WMLT during the stations' weekly black Gospel music program.

Six years elapsed before Rose would return to Dublin, this time on February 11, 1963 in St. Paul A.M.E. Church on Rowe Street.

Rose brought Brother Joe May, known as the "Thunderbolt of the Midwest, and one of the greatest male Gospel singers in history,"  with her when she returned for her second concert at Faith Temple Church, where they played the audience's favorite gospel, jubilee, and spiritual songs.  Once again Rose, performed that Sunday morning, October 17, 1965,  in the WMLT Studios on North Franklin Street along with Brother Joe.

May and Rose came back the next year on September 25, 1966 with another concert at Faith Temple.  A record crowd was once again expected to hear Rose as if they had never heard her sing before.

Rose made her seventh appearance in Dublin and fourth at Faith Temple Church on the Sunday before  Thanksgiving on November 24, 1968.  Ticket prices remained low and affordable at $1.25 per person.

April 17, 1970 marked Rose's eighth and final appearance in Dublin.  Rose had just returned from a grueling tour of Europe and a flying trip from Augusta, Georgia, where she performed on the radio that morning. Immediately after singing in Dublin, Rose returned to Augusta, where she performed for the third time that evening.

Rose suffered a stroke later that year during a tour of Europe. A year later, she lost a leg to amputation.  She never returned to Dublin.  After a few limited appearances near her home, Rose died of complications of heart disease and diabetes on October 9, 1973.

Rose, also known as Rosie Etta Atkins and Rosetta Nubin, was known throughout America and all over Europe as "Sister Rosetta Tharpe."   Rosetta Tharpe made her first national television show on New Year's Day 1950.  Her producers at Decca Records urged Rosetta to sing songs to the rapidly growing market of Rhythm and Blues.

In the late 1950s Rosetta toured Europe and endeared thousands of new fans. A European tour in 1964, catapulted Rosetta to the top of the gospel and R&B charts.  In 1998, Rosetta was honored with a postage stamp by the Postal Service.  In 2007, Rosetta was inducted into the Blue Hall of Fame.

And so it was on those glorious Sundays in Dublin in the middle of the 20th Century, that the Godmother of Rock & Roll and arguably, the greatest female Gospel singer ever, shouted hallelujah! to over flow crowds in the sanctuaries, the county courthouse and the baseball field here in Dublin.

Post Script: All I can say is that I am very sorry I didn't see her while she was here.  Don't just read my words, click on the You Tube videos below and everybody sing Hallelujah!






One Rockin’Mama

Eunice Davis may not have been the first African-American, female rock and roll singer.  But, over her relatively short career, Davis, a native of Dublin, Georgia, was an early trendsetter in the transformation of blue singers into rock and roll singers.  This is her story, a story which is as remarkable as it has been obscure.

Eunice Emilie Davis was born on February 23, 1920 to Oscar Wright and his wife Gussie Lee White, who had married eleven months earlier in Laurens County, Georgia. During the year 1922, Eunice and her family moved to Glassboro, New Jersey, a central New Jersey borough dominated by glass making companies for a short while until her family moved to New York City.

Eunice believed that by working at the Apollo Theater in New York she would meet the top musical performers of the day.  And she did.

Eunice Davis worked as an usherette at the Apollo Theater, when Lester Young noticed her singing in the Newark Ballroom.  Eunice wrote many of her own lyrics and music, although it has been said that she would compose the words and the music, hum them into a tape recorder and have them put on paper by a trained composer.

“He asked me to go to the Apollo Theatre with him the next week, but I refused because I had another engagement,” Davis remembered.   Her first appearance at the Apollo Theatre’s amateur hour was unmemorable.   In a positive twist of fate, Eunice was asked by Luis Russell to join him in a rehearsal.

In the year 1951, while still an usherette at the Apollo, Eunice was signed to a contract with Coral Records and  was put on the bill with big name acts, including the Ravens, who were led by their deep bass singer Jimmy Ricks of Adrian, Georgia.   Eunice was billed as a “thrush with a good set of pipes, rocks the house with a flock of fast paced studies,” wrote a Variety magazine critic.

Davis told a writer for Jet Magazine in 1953 that when she began singing, she was still a cook and insisted on a provision in her contract that she would be allowed to cook her own meals.

“I got my start in show business after writing and recording one song, “Rock Little Daddy,”  Eunice wrote. During another artist’s recording session, Eunice recorded the song, which became a hit for Derby Records.

“It took me 15 minutes to write Rock Little Daddy, 3 hours for Phillip Rose to convince Larry Newton to record it, and 10 days for the song to become a hit back in 1951,” Eunice recalled.

Davis was again praised by a Variety wrote who said, “Rock Little Daddy represents Miss Davis at her best and ear-marks her as a singer who should click in wider bookings.” Contemporaries immediately compared her to Florence Mills, a famous cabaret-style singer of her day.

Eunice appeared with the Ravens at the Howard Theater and a return appearance at the Apollo, followed by gigs at the Flame Show Bar, the Powelton Café, the Delmar in Montreal, and the Earl Theatre in Philadelphia, appearing with the Covers and other nationally known acts.

Davis claimed that it was the iconic disc jockey, Allen Freed, proclaimed this style of music “rock and roll.”  Eunice Davis claimed that she was the first female rock and roll singer based on Freed’s comments and what others told her.  Eunice was certainly one of the first African American female rock and roll singer.

Eunice’s string of hits continued with “Go to Work Pretty Daddy”and  “Daddy Work,” And in 1953, Eunice signed a five-year contract with Atlantic Records, while continuing to write her own songs, some of which she sang and some which she to other artists.

In 1955, Eunice enjoyed continuing success with  "Get Your Enjoys" and "Let's Have a Party."

But for Eunice, fame was fleeting.

By the mid 1950's Eunice’s career as a rock and roll singer was basically over, which she blamed on the record companies not hustling her records to the disc jockeys of the day.

Soon Eunice faded into rock and roll obscurity.

In the late 1970s, Eunice moved to Phoenix, Arizona where she began a relationship with a blues guitarist, singer and harmonica player, with at least half a hundred albums to his credit.

Eunice recorded her final album in 1980, in which she sings the songs of her idols- Victoria Spivey and Memphis Minnie - along with her own compositions.

By 1983, the sixty-three-year old singer was living in a dark, non-descript home on Roosevelt Street in Phoenix.  Eunice would invite old and new friends and gladly sing upon request in her home on East Roosevelt Street in Central Phoenix, which is now a parking lot, two blocks from Interstate Highway 10.    Many of her songs were based on the old slave songs she learned as child.

Beyond her music, Eunice yearned to write poetry, turning out many poems, which he hoped she could record.

After Eunice kicked Louisiana Red out of her house, she moved to Los Angeles where she married her third husband Merv Fusch.  The Fusches established a graphic arts business.

But Eunice continued to do what she did best and that was to write and sing music and write poems about life.  When she had the chance, she performed in music festivals, some in Europe.

The music died on July 13, 1999.    Eunice’s death went virtually unnoticed.  A sad pity, in that a half century before her death, Eunice Emile Wright Davis, helped to ignite a musical genre which is still going strong today.












Sunday, June 26, 2016


The Original Big Mac

It seems strange that nearly fifty years have passed since a young man from Mobile,  Alabama first took his position at first base for the Sandersville Giants.  As a young boy, all Willie Lee ever wanted to do was to play baseball. Growing up in the shadows of the legendary Hank Aaron,   the young man idolized the ability, desire and undaunting courage of Jackie Robinson as he broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.  When he signed a professional contract, he told a reporter that he would have paid the team to let him play baseball. He loved the game that much.   Over his twenty five-year career in baseball, the tall lanky and powerful young man, affectionately known as “Stretch” for his ability to snare and scoop incoming infield throws, became the most prolific left handed home run hitter in the history of the National League, that is until his record was eclipsed by a fellow Giant Barry Bonds. McCovey  was a man of natural power, found not in a bottle, but in the desire of his heart.  This is the story of Willie Lee McCovey, who began his professional baseball career as a member of the Sandersville Giants in 1955.

Willie Lee McCovey was born on January 10, 1938.    While most kids his age were about to complete the requirements for graduation from high school, Willie packed his careworn bat and glove and headed to Melbourne, Florida for a try out with New York Giants.  Giants scouts couldn’t help but notice his slender 6 foot four inch powerful physique and his ability to catch anything thrown at him.  In addition to signing future Giant greats Felipe Alou and Orlando Cepeda, the Giants  signed Willie to a minor league contract and assigned him to the organization’s Class D farm team Sandersville of the Georgia State League.  His contract provided that he would be paid $175.00 a month or about six dollars a game.   Willie started his career at the bottom of the Giant’s farm system.  Though he grew up in the South and experienced the atrocities of racial segregation in the 1950s, Willie was the first black player ever to play for Sandersville, which was in its eighth year in the league.  He was joined by two other black players, Robert L. Reed and Robert Scott, a former Negro league player.

It has been said that the Giants sent Willie to Sandersville just to get rid of him.  He was such an unknown that the Sandersville Progress first called him “Willie McCoohren.”  It was April 25, 1955 when the young seventeen-year-old slugger was to play his first game for the Sandersville Giants.  The Giants opened the 1955 season at home versus the Dublin Irish. Mayor Tom Carr of Sandersville threw out the first pitch to Mayor Felton Pierce of Dublin.  Georgia State League President was the ceremonial first batter.  Furman Bisher, the legendary sports columnist of the Atlanta Constitution was present to witness the birth of a legend.  McCovey reached base in his first plate appearance and scored a run.  The Giants went on to defeat the Irish 4-1.

The Giants and the Irish would face each other 21 more times during the season.  In those games the Giants took an 11-10 advantage.  McCovey batted just under .300, driving in 15 runs and smacking five home runs.  The highlight of his games against the Irish came on May 26, when he belted two home runs.  When he was a young man, Dublin resident Melvin Hester, witnessed one of those mammoth McCovey wacks. I remember it as if it was yesterday when Hester, my Sunday School teacher, told a group of us boys that McCovey hit one over Telfair Street.  Whether on several bounces or on the fly, that was a real good knock, well over 500 feet.

McCovey led the Giants to a second place finish in the Georgia State League. Though his batting average (.305), home runs (19) and runs batted in (113) in 107 games were very impressive, they were nowhere near league records.  McCovey did lead the league in rbi and putouts.  He ended his first season 5th in runs scored, 3rd in total bases and 4th in extra base hits.  Playing that season with McCovey in Sandersville was Julio Navarro, a journeyman infielder, who made it to the major leagues in the 1960s.

Willie McCovey rapidly climbed the steps of the big leagues.  After successful seasons in Danville, Va. And Dallas, Tx. , he was elevated to Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League. In 1958 and  the first half of the 1959 season, Willie batted .319 and .372.  The Giants were in the midst of a pennant race with their arch rival foes, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Giants needed Willie’s left handed big bat in the lineup.

He was immediately sent into the starting lineup to replace another young star and powerful hitter Orlando Cepeda, who moved to the outfield.  In his very first game, McCovey went 4-4 against future Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts.  He finished the season with a startling record of 13 home runs, 38 rbi and .354 batting average in 52 games, a feat which earned him a unanimous selection as  National League Rookie of the Year.  In 1962, with a company of heavy hitters including Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou, McCovey led the Giants to the National League Championship and a berth in the World Series.  McCovey nearly became a legendary series hero only to have a series winning line drive snared by Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson, who preserved the American League powerhouse’s victory.  Willie achieved his best season to date when he belted 44 home runs and drove in 102 runs in 1963.

It was during the seasons of 1968 through 1970 when Willie McCovey began his journey to baseball immortality.  In that three-year span, McCovey hit 36, 45 and 39 home runs and batted in 105, 126 and 126 runs.  His 1969 season, deemed by most to be his best, led to his election as National League Most Valuable Player.  

Following three seasons at the top of his game, McCovey limped through the rest of his career, frequently playing in excruciating pain.  He missed a third of the ‘71 season as well a half of the ‘72 campaign.    Much to the dismay of Giant fans everywhere, McCovey was sent down the Pacific Coast to the San Diego Padres for two seasons.  In 1976, the aging star was again traded, this time to the Oakland A’s, across the bay from San Francisco.  To the cheers of thousands of adoring fans, McCovey returned to the Giants in 1977.    The height of his active baseball career came in Atlanta in 1978, when Willie McCovey became only the 12th man and the 3rd Giant ever to hit 500 home runs.

In 1986, Willie McCovey was elected to Baseball Hall of Fame with a highly respectable 81% of the ballots in his first year of eligibility. Willie was selected to a half dozen all star games and played in two world series in 1962 and 1971 with a .310 batting average.   In his 2588 game career, Willie McCovey safely hit 2211 times with 521 of those hits being home runs.  He drove in a remarkable 1555 runs and all the while hitting for a career average of .270, all of this accomplished by a young kid who began his dream in the lowest levels of baseball right here in East Central Georgia, trumped the doubters and when he retired in 1980 was the 12th greatest home run hitter in baseball history.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016


      Wayne and Joe were born into poor families five months apart  and possibly within a few+ miles of each other some eighty-three years  ago.  These two men overcame the trials and tribulations of  their mercurial years, turning to God at some point in time during their lives to help endure the tumult which swirled about them.  And, at one time during their lives, both Wayne and Joe passed through Dublin.  By the time they reached their 30th birthdays, Wayne and Joe were legends in their fields of work.

Wayne was born in Central Georgia to Leva Mae and Charles "Bud."  Although his father was a deacon in a church, "Bud" sold moonshine and owned a nightclub.  His mother Leva Mae was much more church mannered as a faithful member of  New Hope Baptist Church. Wayne first started to sing in public as a member of the youth choir at New Hope Church.  In retaliation for those who picked on him for a birth defect which affected the way he walked, Wayne became a precocious prankster.

Like many children of his day, Wayne was raised in the church.  He turned to Gospel music as a way of dealing with the pain of being poor and the widespread prejudices he faced in his youth.  As he grew older, Wayne became enthralled with Brother Joe May and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, two gospel legends of the mid 20th Century, who made frequent trips to Middle Georgia, including many right here in Dublin.

Although his educational skills were somewhat lacking, he more than made up by excelling on the saxophone in the high school band, playing the piano and singing.

Joe was probably born in northeast Georgia to his sixteen-year-old mother, Susie Behling, and his twenty-two-year-old father.  Joe grew up in a tiny shack as poor as poor could be.

Joe's family moved throughout South Carolina and eventually to Augusta, Georgia.  Joe's childhood was plagued with adversity.  After growing up living in a brothel and enduring his parent's constant fighting, Joe took to the streets and left school by the end of the sixth grade.

Joe too developed a talent for music. He won a singing contest at a local theater at the age of eleven.  To make ends meet, Joe entertained the soldiers at a nearby infantry camp during World War II.    He even tried his hand at boxing.

It was in the late 1940s at the age of sixteen when Joe's life took a drastic turn for the worse.  He was arrested and convicted of robbery and sent to juvenile prison.  While he was incarcerated, Joe turned to God. Along with three fellow cell mates, Joe formed a Gospel quartet.  After leaving prison, Joe turned more and more to Gospel music and odd jobs to make ends meet.

Wayne's career path was much more clear.  After his father was murdered in 1952, he was forced to be the family's bread winner.  So Wayne decided to do what he knew best and that was to sing and play music.  He formed not one, but two, bands; the Tempo Toppers and the Upsetters. And the rest, as they say, was history.

In 1955, the Upsetters struck gold with three major hit songs.  Wayne moved to Hollywood where he played and sang in two movies.

Then unexpectedly at the zenith of his popularity, Wayne renounced his sins and declared that he was a born-again Christian.  He gave up a highly successful career, married a wonderful woman and set out on a mission to preach the Gospel from the pulpit and sing God's praises from the stages and concert halls of America.

It was during the autumn of 1960 when Wayne brought his hand clapping, foot tapping hallelujah praising  message of faith and hope in the love of Jesus Christ to Dublin. Wayne booked the courtroom of the Laurens County Courthouse    The event, held at 8:00 p.m.  on September 27, 1960, was free to the public.  Transportation was arranged to carry persons from the Scottsville, Telfair and Southside neighborhoods for a 20-cent round trip ticket.  Wayne returned for an encore service on the 5th Sunday in October.  It is quite possible that Wayne came to town many times in his early years for unpublished performances and to visit his brother Johnny, who worked in Dublin's bus station for many years.

Twenty three-year-old Joe and his band performed at the Senior Prom of the Oconee High School Class of 1956.  The band, the Famous Flames, had just released their first rhythm and blues million seller, "Please, Please, Please."   Like Joe, Wayne too, may have played at several venues in Dublin.  Some old timers say that they both did.

Both Joe and Wayne would eventually claim the same hometown and rocket to the top of their fields as icons of American popular music.  Joe is better known by his full name of James Joseph Brown, or simply James Brown.  His fellow Maconite Wayne was a mega star in the early days of Rock and Roll. He  shortened his real name from Richard Wayne Penniman to just "Little Richard."



Little Richard, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was one of the most influential artists from the early days of Rock and Roll.  He has received major awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the Grammys.  He has been inducted in the Georgia Music, the Blues, the Rhythm and Blues, the Songwriters,  the NAACP Image, the Louisiana Music, the Music City, the Apollo Theater, and the Grammys Halls of Fame.

As Rolling Stone Magazine's 8th greatest artist of all time, three of Richard's songs,  "The Girl Can't Help It," "Long Tall Sally," and "Tutti Frutti" are ranked among the magazine's top 500 greatest songs.

James Brown recorded sixteen number 1 singles on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues charts. However, he never reached number 1 on the Hot 100 charts. He has been honored  as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and is generally regarded as one of the greatest rhythm and blues singer of all time and according to the editors of Rolling Stone Magazine, the 7th greatest artist among its Top 500 artists.

There is a rumor floating around that James Brown had close ties to Laurens County.  The speculation is that one of Brown's brides or significant others was from the Dudley-Montrose area.  With no proof as to the authenticity of that story, I will leave it as just a little known, but speculative, urban legend.

So now you know a little more about the stories  of the two poor Macon boys, who as young men spent a small part of their early formative years of their careers here in Dublin along their way to the top of the music charts as the 7th and 8th greatest rock and roll artists of all time.

James Brown - I Feel Good 


    “Hub” Dudley was a credit to his race, the human race.  In an era when it seemed that the frayed chain  of humanity was going to explode into a mass of broken fragments, Dudley, a Dublin businessman, was the indestructible center link which bound the two races of Dublin and Laurens County together in the calm of a maelstrom which swirled about the country.

Herbert Horatio “Hub” Dudley was born in Cordele, Georgia in 1897.  “Hub” came to Dublin with his parents, Clayton D. Dudley and Katie Ford Dudley.  The Dudleys came here for a new beginning, a beginning which  led to a dream which still lives on today almost twelve decades later.

Clayton Dudley set out to build a business empire to meet the needs of African-Americans, who were not being completely served.   “Hub” adopted that same philosophy.

“Hub's philosophy on life was to build businesses and offer what was needed by the black community," his niece,  Thomaseanor Pearson, remarked. "Whatever we had, we had because it was needed," Mrs. Pearson told Theresa Harvard of the Courier Herald in a 1996 interview.

Herbert Dudley married Mayme Ford, a Washington, D.C. school teacher.  Her sister, Jenny Ford, was the mother of Thomaseanor Pearson.  He and Mayme  virtually adopted Jenny’s daughter, Mayme Thomaseanor, who would marry Alfred Pearson, Sr. to become the matriarch and patriarch of the Pearson family in Dublin.

The Dudleys opened a meat market and grocery store in 1922  in the building now occupied by Dudley Funeral Home.  Over the next two decades, the father and son team built an empire along East Jackson Street and the Five Points area of downtown.

There was a savings and loan, a restaurant, The Dudley Motel (modernized in 1958,) the Laborers-Mechanics Realty and Investment Company (a savings and loan association),  a shoe shop, a saw mill, a roller skating rink, a drug store, a poolroom, a barbershop, a guest house, The Laurens Casket Company, Dudley's Funeral Home, and in September 1936, the Amoco # 2 service station.   Dudley established a beauty shop and named it for his foster daughter, Thomaseanor, who was never a beautician.  The Dudleys also developed “Dudley’s Retreat” in the rear of the service station as a gathering place for the community. During World War II, Dudley worked to establish a USO for black servicemen on South Lawrence Street.

Dudley Funeral Home 

Dudley, a home schooled student and an aspiring student of the law, was  hired by W.H. Lovett, owner of the Courier Herald, to write a column relating to the activities of African Americans in the community.  Dudley called his column, Of Interest to Colored People.  It ran from November 11, 1935 through the end of 1936.  Before and after then beginning in June 1930 and  until September 18, 1968, the section was called Colored News.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Newly Discovered Veteran's Grave at Cross The Creek Cemetery

     Just when it may have appeared that all of the marked graves at Cross The Creek Cemetery in Dublin have been found, the grave of Ira Carswell was uncovered last week by City Sexton, Billy Mason.

     Lying on the southeastern edge of Cross The Creek Cemetery, Dublin's second city cemetery for African Americans,  the military marker's discovery is proof that more graves will be eventually found and identified.

      Ira Carswell was born  in Wilkinson County on July 28, 1895.  In 1900, Ira was living with his Uncle and Aunt, John and  Laura Hall in the Dublin Militia District.   The family moved to a home on a Branch of Smith Street in 1910.

    Shown as an office boy when he was inducted into the Army at Camp Wheeler, Macon, GA July 28, 1918, his 23rd birthday, Carswell had previously worked as a laborer for the Dublin Wagon Company.

     Ira, a medium sized African Amercian, served in the Medical Corps Mobile Co. 11 until September 22. before transferring to the training depot of the American Expeditionary Force until the end of the war.  On January 19, 1919, Carswell transferred to Veterinary Hospital # 4, where he served until his discharge on June 28, 1919.

     Carswell returned home to live at 610 E. Mary Street, just across the street from the entrance to Dudley's Cemetery.

     At the age of 45, Ira Carswell registered for the draft in 1940 from his home at 300 West 151st Street in New York City.  Ira, working for the Works Progress Administration at Fort Totten Park in the burrough of Queens, was ready to serve his country once again.

    A decade and one half later, on January 28, 1955, Ira Carswell died.

  Carswell's  military grave marker, placed by the U.S. government  at the request of his aunt, Laura Hall, was manufactured by the Columbus Marble Works in Columbus, Mississippi.

Sunday, November 1, 2015



This a place where for nearly a half of a century these forgotten souls were lost.  Left to spend eternity alone, these banished people  have rested in peaceful obscurity in a broom straw field, secluded behind a water treatment plant, on the ridge of the swamp of Hunger and Hardship Creek. This weekend, the people of the City of Dublin will come together to recognize these nearly fifteen hundred departed persons and welcome them to their new and improved eternal resting place, which folks around here have been calling “’Cross The Creek” for more than a century now.

In the latter quarter of the 19th Century, few African Americans lived within the city limits of Dublin.  Most lived out in the county.  It wasn’t until 1895 when the City of Dublin purchased a tract of land on North Decatur Street from Mary Wolfe for a cemetery for African American residents in the neighborhood they still call Scottsville.

Within a decade, the Scottsville Cemetery, located across the street from the Second African Baptist Church, was deemed as too full to continue burials.    The city council agreed and began to seek out a new location for a cemetery.

Some strong resistance came from the citizens of the area north and west of the Scottsville neighborhood, proclaiming that if you (the city and its black residents) want a cemetery in this area, you are going to have to go across the creek.  The name stuck.  It is still with us today.

The City of Dublin, in 1906,   bought a tract from T.B. Hudson, some twenty-one acres, for the sum of $ 1576.00, a price slightly higher than the city had paid for Northview Cemetery some three years earlier.

By the end of 1906, the council required that all persons wishing to have loved ones buried in the cemetery obtain a permit from the city first.

Every five to ten years, there would be cries for help to clean up the unsightly and overgrown conditions.  Broken tombstones, collapsed slabs and vanished markers made any type of identification of those persons buried here virtually impossible.

Historian and former Laurens County Historical Society President Allen Thomas was among the first to bring the plight of the abandoned cemetery to light.  Thomas, looking at the overgrown six-acre site in 1994, observed the number of marked graves and estimated that 300 to 400 graves were located on the grounds.

 The cemetery itself may have never been saved without the efforts of Jimmy Sawyer, a city superintendent, who began working voluntarily there as a teenager  in the 1960s.  Sawyer cleared a virtual jungle of trees, briars and brambles to keep the area in a maintainable condition.  

Then came  the late Vernon Alligood, a member of the Laurens County Historical Society’s Cemetery Committee, who was the first to compile a list of the marked graves here.  With many of the marked graves having no readable inscription or no inscription at all, Alligood’s list was far from complete.

The missing key to the list of persons buried in ’Cross The Creek Cemetery was discovered just two years ago.  When City Cemetery Sexton Billy Mason was overseeing the renovations to Northview Cemetery on the other side of the creek, a small collection of brown paper covered books, printed with the words “Negro Cemetery” were discovered in the rear of a drawer of a desk bound for the dumpster.

The neatly compiled book contained the records of burials in the cemetery with names, dates of internment and the funeral home conducting the burials from 1927 to 1945.

Enter Billy and Loree Beacham, the leading local contributors to  the “Find-a-Grave” project in the country.

“I love genealogy. I know some of my friends think I am weird, since I enjoy visiting cemeteries. Those buried in cemeteries walked and lived as we do today. They must not be forgotten,” proclaims Loree, who has posted nearly 55,000 burials in the Central Georgia area.

Billy, her husband, gets in on the act too, taking more than 77,000 usable photographs of grave markers and cemeteries.

With Mason’s treasured list in hand, the Beachams set out to locate as many known burials as they can.   Using Internet resources,  including death certificates and the newly indexed issues of the Dublin Courier Herald available on at the Laurens County Library and the Dublin Laurens Museum, Billy and Loree have now documented 839 known burials in this hallowed ground.

Missing from the cemetery lists are burials from 1906 through 1926 and from the period from 1945 until Clara Page was the last known burial in November 1965, fifty years ago.  During that third of a century gap when no records exist, the actual number of burials could easily top 1500 or more, creating a difficult challenge to the determined duo to accomplish their goal of identifying as many graves as they can.

Without the establishment of a private cemetery by Dublin businessmen and funeral home owners, C.D.  and H.H. Dudley, the number of burials would be substantially more and the need for expansion would have been necessary many decades ago.

In 1932, when the Dudleys sought to establish a cemetery on his land at the head of North Washington and North Decatur Streets along East Mary Street, 77 residents of  the Mary Street area and Scottsville neighborhood protested the establishment of a private cemetery in their neighborhood.
At first,  the city and Dudley were restrained by a local judge from any more burials.  The court, in a complete reversal of its own order, allowed burials to commence by stating in essence, “Even the “darkies” of Dublin should not have to go ‘cross the creek to bury their dead.”

Beneath these sunken holes and weathered tombstones lie the mortal remains of fathers, mothers, and sadly way too many children.  There are masons, brick and the Free and Accepted ones too.  At least fourteen ministers of the Gospel left their mortal remains were on their way to Heaven.

They are the women who cooked our food, cleaned our houses and performed tasks that no one else could or would do.  They are the men who built our buildings, shined our shoes and taught our children.  There are seven men, so far as we know, who served our country in World Wars I and II.

Thank  you, Albert Coleman, 517th Engineers, U.S. Army; Fred Daniels, U.S. Army; Clarence Gilmore, 3 Bordeaux Gas Co., U.S. Army,  World War I;  Cleveland Poole, U.S. Army; Fred D. Bailey 3822 QM Trucking Co., U.S. Army,  WWII; Winfield Dell, Pvt. 10th Engineers, WWI; Morris Stanley, STM 1C, U.S. Navy, WWII; and Ira Carswell, U.S. Army, WWI for serving our country.  And, a thank you to all of those who served and we don’t yet  know your names.

Here lie the bodies of Annie E.  Hurst and St. Clair McCormick  Shurney.  You don’t know their names.  But you do know Hurst’s grandson, six-time World Boxing Champion Sugar Ray Robinson, who grew up in Dublin and stood by her grave in 1948.    Mrs. Shurney died when her son was a small boy.  Without the benefit of high school diploma, Robert Shurney obtained a degree in physics from Tennessee State University as a prelude to his work as a N.A.S.A. physicist.  Dr. Shurney worked on balancing the Saturn V moon rockets, training astronauts in a simulated weightless environment, designed the tires for the Apollo lunar rovers, better methods of eating in space and the first permanent bathroom in a space craft.

Katie Dudley and Clayton Dudley once lied here too, .  They were the matriarch and patriarch of the Dudley family.  There bodies were moved the family plot in the cemetery on the other side of the creek which bears their name.

Based on the information available, there are at least 50 persons in this graveyard who toiled in the hot, dirty fields and massive plantation houses as slaves. Emma Webster and Amanda Miller were children of one when they gained their freedom.  (See below for a current list)

Here is a great big hallelujah to William Horne, who was 55 years old when the Civil War ended and was buried here in 1925 at the reported age of 115.  And to Ms. Lucy Davis, a native of North Carolina and the oldest known woman to lie here.  She was 104 years young when she went to see her Lord.  And to Dicey McCall, who topped the century mark a year before her death in 1924.

And, to sweet little Margaret Price, whose death broke her parent’s hearts seven months after her birth.  Our tears go out to the families of the the hundreds of infants who never knew what living was.

And, finally to M.H. Hall, a man who died as he lived - a Christian.

And so it will be on this day, Sunday, November 1, 2015, that the lost, once banished souls of ‘Cross The Creek will come home now and forever.


William Horne - 1810-1925  (115 years old at death)
Lucy Davis - 1818 - 1922  (104 years old at death)
Dicey McCall - 1823 - 1924 (101 years old at death)
Boston Dixon - 1835 -1925
Bobbie Ann Harris - 1838- 1938
Thomas Williams - 1838 - 1925
Nicey Bess - 1840 - 1923
Melvin Ashley - 1840 - 1926
Reuben Fordham - 1841 - 1937
Louise Grubbs - 1841 - 1924
Love Reinhardt - 1845 - 1926
William Hunter - 1845 - 1930
Monroe Pilcher - 1848 - 1936
Lawrence West - 1848 - 1925
Margaret Yopp - 1848 - 1938
Mose Jones - 1849 - 1924
Casesar Brown - 1850 - 1936
Laura Williams - 1851 - 1926
Frank Yopp - 1851 - 1921
Lydia Hester - 1852 - 1922
Emma Alexander - 1853-1914
Calvin Knight - 1852 - 1927
Fibbie Guyton - 1855 - 1925
Butts Justice - 1855 -1929
Abraham Mackey - 1856 - 1924
Mary Phillips - 1856-1916
Henry Brown - 1857 - 1924
Catherine McBride Rivers - 1857 - 1928
Grant Smith - 1857 - 1931
Sarah Warthen - 1857 - 1925
Francis Hunter - 1858 - 1927
Maria Simms Wallace - 1858 - 1932
Bob Garrett - 1860 - 1923
Monroe Hall - 1860 - 1934
Jane Fordham - 1860 - 1935
George McCall - 1860 - 1920
Thomas Collins - 1861 - 1929
Nathan Jones - 1861 -1934
Lawyer Harris - 1861 - 1912
Ann  Turner Plummer - 1861 - 1923
Jessie Collins - 1862 - 1922
Guss Davis - 1862 - 1922
S.D. Deloach, Jr.  1862 - 1924
Haywood Gilbert - 1862 - 1938
Florence Amye - 1863-1912
Rachel Yopp Green - 1863 -1935
Eulalia Dixon - 1864 - 1941
Katie Ford Dudley - 1864-1931
Amanda Jones Miller - 1864 - 1926
Emma Webster - 1864 - 1926