Monday, May 18, 2009

STORIES OF REMARKABLE PEOPLE

STORIES OF REMARKABLE PEOPLE
Slave Centenarians of Laurens County


During Black History Month and Georgia History Month I have chosen to give you a few glimpses into the history of some remarkable African-American slaves who lived in Laurens County. The largest African - American families are the Stanleys, Yopps, Guytons, Kellams, Blackshears, Whites, Perrys, Thomases, McLendon’s, Moores, O'Neals, Coneys, and Troups. Unfortunately for all us, many of the stories of these people have been lost forever. I have included references if you are interested in finding out more about these people. I hope you will.

Jack Robinson was born during the French and Indian War. He lived the better part of his life as a slave. In 1865, at the age of 111, Robinson gained his freedom. He died in Laurens County in December of 1872. Jack Robinson had survived many hardships during his lifetime, but in the end the "Milledgeville Union Recorder" stated that "tobacco was what cut him down in his prime." He was only 118 years old and the oldest person to live in Laurens County. Union Recorder, Dec. 25, 1872.

One of the oldest citizens of Laurens County, was Madison Moore. Mr. Moore died on November 15, 1912, at the authenticated age of 112 years. Madison Moore had lived most of his life on the old Gov. Troup place on the east side of the Oconee River. Madison Moore, who was known as "Hatless" Moore was a body guard and coach driver for his master, Gov. George M. Troup. His nickname came from the numerous times his hat blew off while driving Governor Troup. At the time of his death, Mr. Moore's descendants numbered in the hundreds. Many of his descendants live in Laurens County today. Dublin Courier Dispatch, Nov. 21, 1912.

Frances Thompkins was born into slavery on the McLendon plantation in lower part of the county near the Oconee River. She received her freedom at the end of the Civil War. After eaving the McLendon place, Mrs. Thompkins lived on the Ann Smith place on the Old River Road and later moved up the road to the Fuller Place where Southeast Paper is located today. Mrs. Thompkins had sixteen children and outlived eleven of them. Her surviving children were Noah Thompkins, Rev. William Thompkins, Pink Thompkins, Clara Jones, and Minnie Wiggins. Her eldest son, Green McLendon, was born in the 1850s. She continued to work until a year before her death. Mrs. Thompkins died on a Saturday afternoon at the home of her daughter, Clara Jones. As near as anyone could figure on that day, September 20, 1944, "Aunt" Frances Thompkins was 115 years old, the oldest known citizen of Laurens County. Courier Herald, September 22, 1944, p. 6.

Lewellyn Blackshear was born on the plantation of Lewis Maddox in 1807, the year Laurens County was created. At the time she lived near the Washington - Montgomery County line. In 1921, Mrs. Blackshear still had vivid memories of Gen. David Blackshear going off to fight the Indians in the War of 1812. She remembered coming to Dublin by ferry to find a village of only a few houses and stores. Mrs. Blackshear was given to other members of the Maddox family ollowing the death of Lewis Maddox. She remembered her last master only as Mr. Odom. After receiving her freedom she worked for the Holmes family as a domestic servant. Mrs. Blackshear survived three husbands and five children. Despite her failing eyesight and poor hearing Mrs. Blackshear was a virtual treasure trove of information. It is too bad that more of her memories were not chronicled. The question of whether or not Mrs. Blackshear outlived Mrs. Thompkins to become Laurens County oldest living woman has been lost to eternity. Courier Herald, Aug. 21, 1921, p. 1.

Isaac Jackson died in Montgomery County at the age of one hundred and twenty two. Isaac was a former slave of Gov. George M. Troup of Laurens County. "Old Isaac" appears in a mortgage of slaves at Troup's Valdosta Plantation in 1846. Isaac Jackson is credited with being the last surviving slave of President George Washington. Hawkinsville Dispatch, Oct. 19, 1876.

Tempy Stanley died in October of 1905. She had been a slave of Ira Stanley, whose plantation was located in northern Laurens County. At the time of her death, she was living on the John C. Register place in the Burgamy District of Laurens County. Mr. Register had known Tempy since he was a little boy in the 1830s. According to Register she was old then. According to some Tempy Stanley was 114 years old at the time of her death. Dublin Courier Dispatch, October 6, 1905.

The 1860 census of slaves did not list the name of each slave. The only information given was the age, sex, and whether or not the person was Black or Mulatto. However, one person was named in the 1860 Slave Census of Laurens County. Her name was Marilla and she was owned by William McLendon. What is remarkable about this lady is that she was 100 years old. There were four other slaves in Laurens County that year who were over 90 years of age. One was a female owned by Everard Blackshear. The other three males were two men owned by John M. McNeal and one man owned by Daniel Anderson. 1860 Slave Census, Laurens County, Georgia.

"Uncle Jerry" Lowther was known to have been the first blacksmith in Laurens County. Jerry Lowther was born a slave just before 1820. His master, John Lowther, was a merchant in Dublin and a speculator in mineral rights all over the country. John Lowther had Jerry educated in the art of blacksmithing. After the Civil War, Jerry Lowther operated his own blacksmith shop on the Hawkinsville Road west of Dublin. During that time, the far western edge of Dublin was the creek that crosses Bellevue Avenue at the Chamber of Commerce. The area was known as "Sandy Bottom." During the winter and after a summer freshet, crossing the creek became nearly impossible. Jerry Lowther's house was located on the spot where the home of Richard Graves now stands. His shop was located just to the east on the adjoining lot. Jerry Lowther died in 1922 at the estimated age of 105.

Sam Linder, a former slave of General David Blackshear, helped to build Fort Hawkins in 1806. He lived to be over one hundred years old - dying in Laurens County in the 1880's. Other slaves, like Ringold Perry (also owned by General David Blackshear) Crawford Lord, Rev. George Linder, Madison Moore, and the Rev. Daniel D. Cummings established large farms and prosperous businesses in the decades following their freedom.

These are just a few of the stories which are worth preserving. They only scratch the surface of the deep roots of the county’s heritage. I hope they will inspire other stories to come forth. All history is worth preserving. Let us all dedicate not only the month of February, but all twelve months of the year to preserving our heritage. After all, it is the only one we have.

6 comments:

bedwards said...

After having read your credentials and many accomplishments and accolades, I am not sure if I should address you as Mr. or Dr. Thompson (I am sure it is the latter). This website is beyond interesting for me. My name is Brenda Blackshear Edwards, and I am a retired school principal in Meridian, Mississippi. My interest in General Blackshear is obvious. I am of the impression that my family and decendents of slaves owned by Gen. Blackshear. There are so many ironic names that carried through the generations. I have an uncle David Blackshear among others. I would be interested in talking to you at your convenience, of course. My email address is edwards_ernest@bellsouth.net. We just recently had our first Blackshear family reunion. It was so inspiring. I look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

I just left Laurens County doing research on my grandmother, Thamer Blackshear who settled in Louisiana with my grandfather after 1910. Mr. Allen was extremely helpful during my time at the Dublin library and my research continues.

michel said...

I just found your blog, I look forward to reading it. I am researching my ancestry and most of my mother's relatives are from Wilkinson and Lauren's County (from about 1805). I look forward to reading through your old and new posts.

Donald Thomas said...

Thank you sr.
This site is interesting and helpful in my search to leard and to locate my families: Tucker, Mason, McLendon, Thomases, Cummings, Carr, King and Admas.

any information from anyone?

Donald Thomas, checkmake2001@yahoo.com

Bill McLendon said...

My name is Billy McLendon. My father was named Willie (Bill) McLendon born in March 1941 in Dublin,GA.
His mother was Ruby Walker. He had two older brothers James & Henry McLendon. They left Dublin in the late 1950's for Atlanta and then Jacsonville, FL. Later Willie moved to Tampa, FL and James to Cocoa, FL.

Lisa Howard said...

I am doing a research paper on Tempy Stanley and got a little confused due to the wording I understood it as Tempy being a little girl but the it stated he is a little boy. please verify. I have found this blog to be very interesting and informing.. Thank you