Templeton Reid

During the Georgia gold rush, trade suffered due to a shortage of sound money. There were few coins in circulation and most business was by barter. Templeton Reid was a Milledgeville silversmith and expert machinist, saw an answer to the problem. He decided to buy raw gold, refine it and stamp coins of proven value, acceptable in any transaction. In 1830 he came to Gainesville, Georgia and opened an assay office. With machines and dies of his design and make he bran to strike coins of $2.50, $5.00, and $10.00 denominations.

By: Jack Schley

Goldmining in Dahlonega, Georgia in 1879.

Goldmining in Dahlonega, Georgia in 1879.

The City of Columbus is far removed from the mountains of Appalachia that wrinkle the land in the northern corners of the state of Georgia. By way of the Chattahoochee River, however, Columbus is directly linked to those mountains where the waters of that river originate. There was a feverish time over a century ago when from those headwaters great wealth was once reaped by bent-back pioneers. The substance of that fever and raw form of wealth was gold. The discovery of the yellow metal in the black dirt and clear water is what led to rapid settlement of the mountains by fortune seekers. The Gold Rush era in Georgia was a distinctive social, economic, and political event in the state; the earth pulled their youth.

The U.S. Mint at Dahlonega, GA 1838-1861. Donated to the state in 1871. Served as a school building after the war. Burned in 1878.

The U.S. Mint at Dahlonega, GA 1838-1861. Donated to the state in 1871. Served as a school building after the war. Burned in 1878.

Templeton Reid came as the latter when he arrived to Columbus in the 1830s. Though not a miner in the strictest sense, he did participate in the Gold Rush around Dahlonega, Georgia, in Lumpkin County. His life created little public interest while it was occurring and he left very little behind to permit further study. Not even a photo or likeness of the man is known to exist. The evidence of his personal time that does remain, however, has inspired much reflection. This is not for his achievements; rather, for the impact of his failures on a specific chapter of federal history in Georgia that is shared by very few other states.

The discovery of a sixteen pound nugget of solid gold in North Carolina in 1799 did not ignite the same excitement as the discovery of gold in Cherokee territory in north Georgia in 1828. When a young boy named Benjamin Parks came home from hunting deer with a gold nugget in his pocket in present day Lumpkin County, Georgia, word spread across the country that the First Gold Rush in U.S. history was underway in Georgia. The land where Parks had been hunting belonged to the Cherokee Nation of Native Americans. Access to that land was limited so the first miners in Georgia were a lawless crowd of frontiersmen. These men would secret themselves into the Cherokee Territory at night with nothing but a shovel and an empty meal-bag. There was one piece of land along Yahoola Creek where it was known that one full bag of dirt pulled from the bank of the creek could yield $20 to $40 in gold. The Cherokees hold on their ancestral land in Georgia did not last long once these reports were printed. There was literally money laying on the ground in Georgia.

Templeton Reid was a mechanic: a talented one. He lived in Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1830 before moving to Gainesville. He was an experienced machinist making cotton gins, rifles, watches, and jewelry. The move to Gainesville was the beginning of the venture that defines his life today. The gold dust and nuggets the miners were bringing to town from the mountains were readily accepted but difficult to use in the markets. The weight, and thus the value, of any quantity of gold was a constant debate. The raw gold needed to be fixed in a recognizable and trusted form but the U.S. Mint was over five hundred miles away in Philadelphia.

Templeton Reid created a press and engraved dies of his own making that could stamp coins with a denomination in U.S. dollars. His private mint was located in Gainesville and began taking in raw gold in 1830 to be melted and minted into $2.50, $5, and $10 gold coins.

In the beginning, the newspaper was his ally spreading the word of his service to the miners in Georgia. One article reported that he was minting $700 in gold coins a day. It is believed presently that in just three months of operation Templeton Reid made at total of about 1,500 coins. The term of his venture was so short due to subsequent newspaper articles that criticized Reid’s ability as a coiner.

A Georgia Gold Miner in 1879, from an article at the Harper's New Monthly Magazine.

A Georgia Gold Miner in 1879, from an article at the Harper's New Monthly Magazine.

Miner's family headed to Dahlonega, Georgia. From an article at the Harper's New Monthly Magazine, September, 1879.

Miner's family headed to Dahlonega, Georgia. From an article at the Harper's New Monthly Magazine, September, 1879.

Those articles ran in papers across the state, including in Columbus. One of his $10 coins was reportedly taken to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia to be assayed for its weight and purity to determine its true value. The Mint reported the coin to contain $9.38 in gold. A deficit of $0.62 was unacceptable in 1830. Reid’s mistake was in believing that gold pulled from the earth was pure, when in fact it is not and must be refined to remove the impurities. Nonetheless, Reid defended his work against the anonymous writer in the papers, but the fact remained that his coins were not worth the amount stamped on them. They lost favor in the marketplace and he closed his business. As he left town, however, the demand for converting the raw gold into coins remained. Out of overwhelming public demand, the U.S. government created the first branch of the Mint in 1835, which created three new facilities in the south, and the Mint at Dahlonega, Georgia, began making U.S. gold coins with a “D” mintmark in 1838.

As Templeton Reid moved his life away from Dahlonega to Columbus, there were many in Columbus making their way to Dahlonega. Miners from Columbus included some of the early leaders of the town. Allen Lawhon left Columbus for the north Georgia gold fields in 1849. He was a lawyer who served as the Intendant (unincorporated Mayor) of the Town of Columbus in 1832. There were even those who believed that the Chattahoochee River was pulling all that gold from the mountains as far south as Columbus. The City Council granted a permit to Dr. Stephen M. Ingersoll in 1838 to wash sand from the river bed for gold. A few small gold flakes were reportedly found in Columbus in 1830; however, this was likely an attempt to put the fledgling town of Columbus on the map as the mass of arrivals to the state of Georgia poured in to participate in the Gold Rush. No further discoveries of gold in Columbus were ever reported by Dr. Ingersoll nor any other fortune seeker, but Dr. Ingersoll was known to be a wealthy man with a large secluded farm in Alabama.

Gold Rush fever in Georgia did not last very long. After all the surface gold had been cleaned away around Dahlonega there were rumors of another gold strike in California calling miners to head west. A crowd of those departing gathered in the town square in Dahlonega in 1849 COINAGE as the Assayer of the U.S. Mint at Dahlonega stepped out of the In 1842, the Philadelphia building. He proclaimed to the crowd of the immense wealth that Mint tested Templeton's remained in Georgia. Pointing to the mountain range behind him, coins and found that they a paraphrasing of his words heard by the miners that day became contained more gold famous: “There’s gold in them thar hills.”

The United States branch mint at Dahlonega, erected in 1837. Destroyed by fire on December 20, 1878.

The United States branch mint at Dahlonega, erected in 1837. Destroyed by fire on December 20, 1878.

Upon departing from the gold region of Georgia, Templeton Reid first made his way to Montgomery, Alabama, where he married Elizabeth Moulton in 1832. He may have been in Columbus as early as 1836 at perhaps middle age; his year of birth is believed to be 1789. Nothing is known about Elizabeth or even if she lived in Columbus. Templeton operated his Reid Cotton Gin Manufacturing business out of a large wooden building on the southwest corner of 11th Street and 1st Avenue, today the site of a gated parking lot next to the Old School Barber Shoppe. He was called an eccentric genius at that time but also “his own worst enemy.” It is believed that he had a gambling problem and his business endeavors in Columbus appear to have been less than prosperous as most of his tools were seized by the court in a debt collection lawsuit in 1850. Reid did develop a working model of his own improved and patented cotton gin in 1851 and was bound for the World’s Fair in London to display it. His machine was believed to be of some remark but Mr. Reid never made it to London. His body was found on the banks of the Chattahoochee River south of town in late summer of 1851. He was found below a spring at the bottom of a high bank of the river. It was believed that he fell while trying to reach the spring. His body was buried in an unmarked grave in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, the location of which, as with much of this man’s life, remains a mystery today.

Much of the gold mining in Georgia was commercialized early on and conducted by large corporations. A few of the wealthy businessmen from Columbus were shareholders in those corporations. The war years of the 1860s interrupted the mining but once they resumed after the war it was reported that a million dollars in gold was removed from Georgia in 1880. Gold continues to be found around Dahlonega today, although, these current operations are featured as a tourist attraction rather than earth-moving mineral ventures.

Templeton Reid’s controversial coins of 1830 are known today in small numbers as some of the earliest private minted gold coins in the U.S. from the First Gold Rush in U.S. history. They are highly sought after by collectors and fetch high prices on the rare occasion that one crosses an auction block. They are one of the few remaining legacies of this man and the ingenuity of the frontiersmen who lived and worked in Columbus in the early decades of this City. SVM

Raphael Jacob Moses

The earliest community of Columbus, Georgia, included a small but prominent collection of Jewish families that contributed central leaders to the development of political and economic life in this town. One name from this group that occurs with frequency in the early sources of Columbus history is that of R. J. Moses. By. Jack Schley

moses_web8.jpg

Born into a large family in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1812, Raphael’s father was at one time a well-to-do auctioneer. Raphael said of himself that he was a playful child growing up in the Low Country; more so inclined to mischief than to books. School did not seem to be doing him much good, so upon turning the age of thirteen his father permitted him to move to Philadelphia. The Moses’ had family there and the young boy worked in a music shop; in addition to, attending law lectures at night. After only one year in the northern state, Raphael returned to Charleston to enter the auction house trade. The administrative and bookkeeping skills he learned through this work would impact his career for the rest of his life.

moses_web0.jpg

Almost a decade later, at the age of twenty-one, Raphael proposed to Eliza M. Moses, his cousin, on the battery in Charleston. They were married in that city on January 20, 1834. The couple remained there for three more years until the fire of 1837 destroyed most of the city. Raphael and Eliza picked up and pushed inland to the frontier lands being claimed out of the Native American territory to the west. That same year, they landed in Saint Joseph, Florida, a small coastal trading town situated near the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Raphael found a decent job there as an administrator to a newly formed railroad. As children were born to Raphael and Eliza, the family remained somewhat transient. Yellow fever swept through Saint
Joseph with force, causing the family to relocate to the nearby town of Apalachicola.

moses_web9.jpg

Raphael’s executive abilities and naturally keen mind earned him a respectable reputation in these frontier communities. Seeking to further his public position, Raphael studied law for six
weeks in Apalachicola and was successfully admitted into the legal profession.
The settlement of Apalachicola was a trading post town with deep connections to the
city of Columbus, Georgia. Many of the cotton merchants, mill owners, and steamship operators in Columbus were influential in developing Apalachicola as a way point between the river and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1849, the Moses family pushed upstream.

moses_web10.jpg

Raphael and Eliza purchased a farm south of Columbus on a hilltop near the Chattahoochee
River. They renamed the place Esquiline, after one of the ancient hills within the city of Rome,
Italy. There, atop the hill in an attractive home, the family finally settled. From this farm, Raphael became known as perhaps the first farmer in the state of Georgia to profitably sell peaches across state lines. In 1851, he shipped two baskets of fruit to New York in open champagne crates. The perishables arrived fresh, and Moses was paid $30 per basket. (Equivalent to almost $900 in 2017.) Raphael expanded his orchard  across the farm to the point of annually generating 10,000 in revenue in the cross-country fruit trade. (Over $250,000 today). This became a defining industry for the State of Georgia, almost half a century later, labeling Georgia as “The Peach State.”

moses_web5.jpg
moses_web12.jpg

In addition to his peach plantation, Raphael Moses also developed a lucrative legal practice
in Columbus, and took to politics as a campaign orator in the Presidential elections of the 1840s and 1850s.

moses_web6.jpg
moses_web4.jpg
moses_web7.jpg

In the course of his early political life, an opponent once taunted Moses for his Jewish
heritage. Raphael’s response to this became well known, “’… had you a wealth of gifts
and selected from your abundance your richest offering to lay at my feet, you could not
have distinguished me more gratefully than by proclaiming me a Jew…. I feel it an honor to be
one of a race whom… after nineteen centuries of persecution still survive as a nation and
assert their manhood and intelligence and give proof of the Divinity that stirs within them by
having become a greater force in the government of mankind.” Raphael further proclaimed,
“Would you honor me? Call me a Jew.”

moses_web3.jpg

Rev. Dr. Lovick Pierce

cmyk_pierce8.jpg

By Jack Schley May 11, 2018

The State of Georgia has played host to the Methodist denomination of the Protestant Church since nearly the State’s beginning when the church founders, brothers John and Charles Wesley, arrived here from England in 1736 to spread Christianity through the southern frontier. In a manner of speaking, the church and the Colony of Georgia were born at the same time and the two have made their mark on each other. The City of Columbus has not escaped this relationship; in fact, Columbus has contributed greatly to its development. One such contribution was in the form of the Reverend Dr. Lovick Pierce.

Bishop George Foster Pierce (1811-1884).

Bishop George Foster Pierce (1811-1884).

Though not originally from Columbus, he made his home and based a substantial portion of his career from here. Born in North Carolina in 1785, Lovick Pierce was said to have come from a “poor and obsolete” background. Prior to his professional career, he received only six months of formal education, where he learned to read the only book available to him: the Bible. At the age of 20 he began a 75 year career in the Methodist Church that was truly “life-long.” He is remembered today for that career as the “Nestor of Southern Methodism” and the “Father of the Methodist Church in west Georgia.”

Lovick Pierce married Miss Ann Foster in 1810 and served his first post as a Chaplain to the U.S. Army out of Milledgeville, Georgia, during the War of 1812. Following his service, he entered the study of medicine, all the while preaching to small congregations. As a child, Lovick Pierce was said to have been timid and sensitive but gifted with a natural eloquence and the ability to easily enter the hearts of his acquaintances. Formally, he was addressed simply as “Dr. Pierce” but to his intimate friends and family he was affectionately called “Lovie.”

The First St. Paul Church in Columbus, built 1859 with L. Pierce as first pastor. The church was destroyed by lightening in 1901.

The First St. Paul Church in Columbus, built 1859 with L. Pierce as first pastor. The church was destroyed by lightening in 1901.

Having attended the creation of the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Church in Macon in 1831, Dr. Pierce began what was then one of the more hazardous callings of the time. The life of a frontier preacher in the early 1800s was not one of physical comfort or routine; rather, one of constant motion, poverty wages, and exposure to the elements. The pastor went where his work was most needed. On horseback, he rode alone through swamps and dense forests circulating through a wide range of towns and frontier settlements. At night, he often slept on the floor of a stranger’s cabin when shown hospitality. In his saddlebags he carried only his Bible, a hymnal, and spare shirt. Riding this wide circuit eventually landed Dr. Pierce in Columbus in 1836 to serve his first official appointment as the pastor of St. Luke Methodist Church.

cmyk_pierce4.jpg

Upon arriving to the western most outpost of the State of Georgia, Dr. Pierce found that the St. Luke congregation worshiped in the only brick Methodist church in the state at that time. It sat on an overgrown lot in the middle of a riverbank expanse that was taking the form of a town; the frontier beginning of Columbus. It was here that Dr. Pierce settled his family and set about becoming an industrious citizen. He set in motion to expand the existing house of worship at St. Luke. With his own hands, he helped clear the underbrush out of the city lot and planted elms trees to shade the church yard. To supplement his income, Dr. Pierce invested in a commercial dray business in Columbus, operating hired carts drawn by oxen to haul merchant goods and lumber about town. He quickly developed a reputation as a good business man and an admired preacher. The investment paid off as Dr. Pierce was able to build a four room house in 1838 in the prominent suburb of Wynnton on the hill overlooking downtown. This home was later enlarged by Mr. William W. Garrard in 1855 and became known as “Hilton.” It stood on the wooded lot where current day Hilton Avenue runs into Wynnton Road.

The four room home of Rev. Lovick Pierce after the 1855 renvoation by William W. Garrard. The home once stood in the wooded area where Hilton Avenue runs into Wynnton Road.

The four room home of Rev. Lovick Pierce after the 1855 renvoation by William W. Garrard. The home once stood in the wooded area where Hilton Avenue runs into Wynnton Road.

At home in Columbus; however, not settled. Dr. Pierce continued to ride through the outlying settlements around Columbus. He facilitated the founding and dedication of many Methodist churches in the Chattahoochee Valley, officiated weddings, baptized children, often preached in revival settings outdoors, and administered to the wider organization of the Methodist Church. He served as a founding trustee of Emory College, which later became Emory University in Atlanta, and was an agent for the Georgia Female College in Macon, which exists today as Wesleyan College. He was moved from the pulpit at St. Luke in Columbus for two years but returned in 1840 when the church’s membership declined. When he arrived, the membership was listed at 378 members and by the end of 1841 it had grown to 739.

Dr. Pierce was influential in the creation of the distinct Southern Methodist Church in 1844 and was appointed as the Presiding Elder over the Columbus District in 1849. While serving as St. Luke’s pastor again in 1850, his son James L. Pierce was given charge of St. Luke’s Factory Mission in Columbus which was established to minister to the workers of the cotton mills along the river.

cmyk_pierce9.jpg

Perhaps Dr. Pierce’s greatest contribution to the Methodist Church was his son, George Foster Pierce. George Pierce served the Methodist Church alongside his father filling many of the same positions until his own eloquence and capabilities raised him to a superior rank than that of his father. George Pierce served as pastor to St. Luke in Columbus for a year in 1847 before being appointed the presidency at Emory College where he remained until 1854. That year, Lovick Pierce was influential in getting the General Conference of the Georgia Methodist Church to meet in Columbus. George Pierce returned to Columbus for the conference and was ordained as a Bishop. It was in filling this role that it was said of George F. Pierce, “No man in the Methodist Church, South rose to greater heights or was more admired than Bishop Pierce.” It was through his and his father’s work that Columbus became a seat of the Methodist Church in Georgia in the mid nineteenth century. In fact, this time is known as the Great Revival, centering on the year 1858, in which the spiritual influence of the Methodist Church was casting a wide net. Membership at St. Luke rose to such heights that Dr. Lovick Pierce called for the founding of the second Methodist Church in Columbus because St. Luke ran out of seats. Dr. Pierce even supplied the new church with its name.

The Fifth St. Luke Church building in Columbus, completed in 1900, destroyed by fire in 1942.

The Fifth St. Luke Church building in Columbus, completed in 1900, destroyed by fire in 1942.

St. Paul Methodist Church was dedicated by Lovick Pierce on October 9, 1859, and he himself filled the role as the church’s first pastor. The new sanctuary was built on the corner of what is now Thirteenth Street and Third Avenue in downtown. Under Dr. Pierce’s direction, a new policy distinguished St. Paul from St. Luke in that men and women would sit together in the pews. This new policy was not without opposition and some of the men were less than accommodating by refusing to abstain from spitting their tobacco on the floor by the ladies’ shoes.

Between father and son, Bishop Pierce was unmatched in eloquence of speech by any other Methodist preacher in his time. However, his father Dr. Pierce was the more effective and moving speaker of the two. They often traveled together when attending to their ministries across the state. In 1874, Dr. Pierce attended the Georgia Conference meeting of the Methodist Church with his son, the Bishop, and his grandson, all serving as delegates. A friend of these Reverend Pierces once said of them that they had, “… a genius for loving.” They had a natural ability to use their words, their actions, and their faith in God to make others feel loved as important pieces in a greater plan.

It was in 1879, while Bishop George Pierce was traveling a new circuit of the church in the western territories beyond Texas that he received a telegram from his father, “Tell the Brethren I am lying just outside the gates of Heaven.” The Reverend Dr. Lovick Pierce died in Sparta, Georgia, at the age of 95. His body was returned to Columbus and buried in Linwood Cemetery next to his wife. It is here in Columbus that many of the legacies of his 75 years in ministry through the Methodist Church continue to impact the spiritual lives of generations well beyond his own through the flourishing local institutions he founded and ran with a “genius for loving.”

The State of Georgia has played host to the Methodist denomination of the Protestant Church since nearly the State’s beginning when the church founders, brothers John and Charles Wesley, arrived here from England in 1736 to spread Christianity through the southern frontier. In a manner of speaking, the church and the Colony of Georgia were born at the same time and the two have made their mark on each other. The City of Columbus has not escaped this relationship; in fact, Columbus has contributed greatly to its development. One such contribution was in the form of the Reverend Dr. Lovick Pierce.

Ann Martin Foster Pierce (1790 - 1850)

Ann Martin Foster Pierce (1790 - 1850)

Though not originally from Columbus, he made his home and based a substantial portion of his career from here. Born in North Carolina in 1785, Lovick Pierce was said to have come from a “poor and obsolete” background. Prior to his professional career, he received only six months of formal education, where he learned to read the only book available to him: the Bible. At the age of 20 he began a 75 year career in the Methodist Church that was truly “life-long.” He is remembered today for that career as the “Nestor of Southern Methodism” and the “Father of the Methodist Church in west Georgia.”

Lovick Pierce married Miss Ann Foster in 1810 and served his first post as a Chaplain to the U.S. Army out of Milledgeville, Georgia, during the War of 1812. Following his service, he entered the study of medicine, all the while preaching to small congregations. As a child, Lovick Pierce was said to have been timid and sensitive but gifted with a natural eloquence and the ability to easily enter the hearts of his acquaintances. Formally, he was addressed simply as “Dr. Pierce” but to his intimate friends and family he was affectionately called “Lovie.”

Having attended the creation of the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Church in Macon in 1831, Dr. Pierce began what was then one of the more hazardous callings of the time. The life of a frontier preacher in the early 1800s was not one of physical comfort or routine; rather, one of constant motion, poverty wages, and exposure to the elements. The pastor went where his work was most needed. On horseback, he rode alone through swamps and dense forests circulating through a wide range of towns and frontier settlements. At night, he often slept on the floor of a stranger’s cabin when shown hospitality. In his saddlebags he carried only his Bible, a hymnal, and spare shirt. Riding this wide circuit eventually landed Dr. Pierce in Columbus in 1836 to serve his first official appointment as the pastor of St. Luke Methodist Church.

Rev. Dr. Lovick Pierce is considered the father of Methodism in Georgia.

Rev. Dr. Lovick Pierce is considered the father of Methodism in Georgia.

Upon arriving to the western most outpost of the State of Georgia, Dr. Pierce found that the St. Luke congregation worshiped in the only brick Methodist church in the state at that time. It sat on an overgrown lot in the middle of a riverbank expanse that was taking the form of a town; the frontier beginning of Columbus. It was here that Dr. Pierce settled his family and set about becoming an industrious citizen. He set in motion to expand the existing house of worship at St. Luke. With his own hands, he helped clear the underbrush out of the city lot and planted elms trees to shade the church yard. To supplement his income, Dr. Pierce invested in a commercial dray business in Columbus, operating hired carts drawn by oxen to haul merchant goods and lumber about town. He quickly developed a reputation as a good business man and an admired preacher. The investment paid off as Dr. Pierce was able to build a four room house in 1838 in the prominent suburb of Wynnton on the hill overlooking downtown. This home was later enlarged by Mr. William W. Garrard in 1855 and became known as “Hilton.” It stood on the wooded lot where current day Hilton Avenue runs into Wynnton Road.

At home in Columbus; however, not settled. Dr. Pierce continued to ride through the outlying settlements around Columbus. He facilitated the founding and dedication of many Methodist churches in the Chattahoochee Valley, officiated weddings, baptized children, often preached in revival settings outdoors, and administered to the wider organization of the Methodist Church. He served as a founding trustee of Emory College, which later became Emory University in Atlanta, and was an agent for the Georgia Female College in Macon, which exists today as Wesleyan College. He was moved from the pulpit at St. Luke in Columbus for two years but returned in 1840 when the church’s membership declined. When he arrived, the membership was listed at 378 members and by the end of 1841 it had grown to 739.

The second St. Paul Methodist Church building on the corner of 13th Street and 3rd Avenue.

The second St. Paul Methodist Church building on the corner of 13th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Dr. Pierce was influential in the creation of the distinct Southern Methodist Church in 1844 and was appointed as the Presiding Elder over the Columbus District in 1849. While serving as St. Luke’s pastor again in 1850, his son James L. Pierce was given charge of St. Luke’s Factory Mission in Columbus which was established to minister to the workers of the cotton mills along the river.

Perhaps Dr. Pierce’s greatest contribution to the Methodist Church was his son, George Foster Pierce. George Pierce served the Methodist Church alongside his father filling many of the same positions until his own eloquence and capabilities raised him to a superior rank than that of his father. George Pierce served as pastor to St. Luke in Columbus for a year in 1847 before being appointed the presidency at Emory College where he remained until 1854. That year, Lovick Pierce was influential in getting the General Conference of the Georgia Methodist Church to meet in Columbus. George Pierce returned to Columbus for the conference and was ordained as a Bishop. It was in filling this role that it was said of George F. Pierce, “No man in the Methodist Church, South rose to greater heights or was more admired than Bishop Pierce.” It was through his and his father’s work that Columbus became a seat of the Methodist Church in Georgia in the mid nineteenth century. In fact, this time is known as the Great Revival, centering on the year 1858, in which the spiritual influence of the Methodist Church was casting a wide net. Membership at St. Luke rose to such heights that Dr. Lovick Pierce called for the founding of the second Methodist Church in Columbus because St. Luke ran out of seats. Dr. Pierce even supplied the new church with its name.

cmyk_pierce12.jpg

St. Paul Methodist Church was dedicated by Lovick Pierce on October 9, 1859, and he himself filled the role as the church’s first pastor. The new sanctuary was built on the corner of what is now Thirteenth Street and Third Avenue in downtown. Under Dr. Pierce’s direction, a new policy distinguished St. Paul from St. Luke in that men and women would sit together in the pews. This new policy was not without opposition and some of the men were less than accommodating by refusing to abstain from spitting their tobacco on the floor by the ladies’ shoes.

Between father and son, Bishop Pierce was unmatched in eloquence of speech by any other Methodist preacher in his time. However, his father Dr. Pierce was the more effective and moving speaker of the two. They often traveled together when attending to their ministries across the state. In 1874, Dr. Pierce attended the Georgia Conference meeting of the Methodist Church with his son, the Bishop, and his grandson, all serving as delegates. A friend of these Reverend Pierces once said of them that they had, “… a genius for loving.” They had a natural ability to use their words, their actions, and their faith in God to make others feel loved as important pieces in a greater plan.

It was in 1879, while Bishop George Pierce was traveling a new circuit of the church in the western territories beyond Texas that he received a telegram from his father, “Tell the Brethren I am lying just outside the gates of Heaven.” The Reverend Dr. Lovick Pierce died in Sparta, Georgia, at the age of 95. His body was returned to Columbus and buried in Linwood Cemetery next to his wife. It is here in Columbus that many of the legacies of his 75 years in ministry through the Methodist Church continue to impact the spiritual lives of generations well beyond his own through the flourishing local institutions he founded and ran with a “genius for loving.”

Alfred Owen Blackmar II

RGB blackmar2.jpg
RGB blackmar4.jpg

Columbus was created through the hard work and dedication of its founding families. This issue, we’re taking a closer look at one of those families, the Blackmars, and one of its most notable patriarchs: Alfred Owen II. From starting Columbus’ first fire insurance business to serving in education, Columbus would certainly be a very different city without his influence and contributions.

By Jack Schley

There have been six A. O. Blackmars to call Columbus, Georgia home. For a period of over one hundred years, all branches of this family could be found here in town, and many of their descendants continue to reside in Columbus to this day. The roots of the Blackmar family tree sprouted in America in the colony of Rhode Island in 1629. It was two hundred years later that the first Alfred Owen Blackmar, as well as his son carrying his namesake, arrived in Columbus.

The first Alfred O. Blackmar was living in Savannah, Georgia, when his wife Betsy Arnold gave birth to their son, A. O. II, on July 14, 1830. Five years later the family was living in Augusta. Betsy had passed away after the birth of her second son, and Alfred remarried to Susan Adeline Daly. Alfred worked as a cotton merchant.

With farm land opening up in the western part of the state, Alfred decided to move his family deep into future cotton country. A horse drawn stagecoach brought the family across the state in April of 1835 when they arrived to the small frontier town of Columbus, Georgia.

Later in life, Alfred II could recall the day he arrived to Columbus as a young boy at the age of five. He described the town as consisting of more people than there were structures to house them, and a large portion of the population was Indians.

RGB blackmar 5x7.jpg

 

The Native Americans lived across the river in Alabama, but could often be seen in the business district of downtown. Young A. O. II could recall one day when a Native American man patted him on top of his head as he walked with his father to the family store on Broad Street, near where the main CB&T building is presently situated. That particular man was called Jim Henry, and it was he who led the main force of hostile Indians in the Creek War of 1836. A rumor reached town one night during the conflict that Jim Henry and his raiders were going to attack Columbus. In response, the men in town armed themselves and were posted along the river and throughout the town.

 Each night, while the men kept watch, the women and children of Columbus, including A. O. II, were quartered together in an incomplete hotel in downtown, surrounded by guards.

RGBblackmar1.jpg

Columbus, and the neighboring town of Girard (now Phenix City), had a rough and tumble frontier reputation at that time. The same Alfred Blackmar recounted that when he was a boy the two towns were often referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah for the Biblical towns that were destroyed by fire from heaven for their heathenistic customs.

There were many Indians who were also friendly and quite prominent amongst the social circles of Columbus. One such man was named Paddy Carr. He owned a large farm near Fort Mitchell, Alabama and was well known and respected by the businessmen of the frontier days in Columbus. The woman that cared for the Blackmar family children once took young A. O. II to visit Paddy Carr and his family at their townhouse across the river. Alfred could recall later in life seeing Paddy Carr standing in his doorway smoking a pipe as they approached. The man held the young Blackmar boy, bounced him on his knee, and gave him beads and other trinkets to take home with him.

RGBblackmar8.jpg

Carr had served as an Interpreter for General Andrew Jackson during the Indian War of 1813-1814. He also fought on behalf of the State of Georgia during the Creek War of 1836 to help defend Columbus from Jim Henry’s militant forces. Carr and his family were relocated to Oklahoma when the Creek Nation was forcibly removed from the area by the Federal Government following the war.

When Alfred II grew up he remained in Columbus and became very involved in the civic development of the town. He was one of the earliest volunteer fire fighters here, and started his business, Blackmar Company Realtors, a fire insurance firm, in 1846. He served many administrative duties on City Council, and as Mayor Pro-tem, as well as in local educational capacities for many years throughout his professional career.

RGB blackmar 1.jpg

He was known as the “Father of the High School,” after making the resolution that created Columbus High School in 1890 while serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for Columbus Public Schools. A. O. II was financially minded as well, serving as City Treasurer and in administrative roles at the earliest leading banks in town. Known to some as Captain Blackmar, he was also a licensed steam boat captain on the Chattahoochee River. He participated in passing steam ships through the Federal blockade during the War Between the States to bring supplies to and from Columbus by way of the river.

In 1851, Alfred married Mary Ann Blood in Columbus and together they had five children. They both lived to their one hundredth birthdays, and celebrated their seventy-fifth wedding anniversary in 1926, when they were locally claimed as “…models of marital grace and felicity…” All five of their children were born when the family moved to the family home that once stood at 1418 Fourth Avenue (now Veterans Parkway) in downtown. The elegant home was almost half a century old when the Blackmar family became the new owners in 1879. They called the homeplace “Opossum Ridge.”

Alfred and Mary Ann Blackmar’s son John went into the Fire Insurance business with his father. He married Susie Wellborn in January 1884 and ten months later their first son, Alfred Owen Blackmar III was born. A. O. III also joined his father and grandfather in the fire insurance business.

RGB blackmar 6.jpg

Alfred O. Blackmar III further developed the family name in the real estate sector by becoming President of the Columbus Real Estate Board. He was also appointed Chairman of the Government Appraisal Board, which was charged with the purchasing of private land for the Federal Government to establish Fort Benning outside of Columbus. The third A. O. Blackmar was a passionate horticulturalist. He enjoyed flower propagation and landscaping, which led him to be a charter member of the Columbus Country Club, and to provide a natural landscape for urban residents of the town. He married Mary Elizabeth Gordon in 1910. They had two children: Alfred O. IV and Margaret Blackmar Howard.

The family name of Blackmar continues on today in Columbus with a sixth Alfred Owen Blackmar, and a seventh generation of this pioneering Columbus family. They are one of just a handful of families whose surname can be traced through the Columbus history books, uninterrupted, back to the beginning days of settlement here by the river. The talents of each generation of the Blackmar family have contributed to the progress and development of Columbus. Due to this, our town continues to operate today as a testament to the founding families that gave their careers to the building of our modern city. SVM

Thomas Wiggins Bethune

By Jack Schley

Blind Tom older man  copy.jpg

This man carried many names during his life time, including Thomas Greene Wiggins and Thomas Wiggins Bethune, however, he remains internationally remembered today as “Blind Tom.” During his life and even a hundred years after his death, his name was followed by titles proclaiming him as the most famous person Columbus has ever produced, and the most gifted musician to ever perform on a public stage.


    Thomas, or Tom, was born into the most unassuming circumstances that could never be imagined for a man whom would become an internationally celebrated “musical genius.” At a young age, it became clear that the world would expect very little from him. Thomas was born blind, never to see the world in color or form. In short time, it became further apparent that the blind infant was further incapacitated with a mental condition that has been identified today, over a century and a half later, as Autism. As if blind and “idiotic,” as the medical examiners of his time declared, were not limiting enough, Tom was born into slavery in rural Georgia in 1849.
  

Charity Wiggins. mother of Blind Tom. edited.jpg

 Due to the increased interest that Thomas’ life generated after his death, his story is told in many varying accounts. The most commonly accepted story of this man is that he was the twenty-first child of Mingo and Charity Wiggins, farm laborers owned as human property by Mr. Wiley Jones, a bankrupted cotton planter from Harris County. Shortly after Thomas’ birth, his parents were sold at auction and Thomas was “thrown in” to the sale to encourage bidders. The winning bid that day in 1850 was made by General James Neill Bethune of Columbus, Georgia.


    General Bethune was a lawyer and newspaper publisher in Columbus who received his military title in the Indian Wars of the 1830s. He lived on a small, rural homestead outside of Columbus called “Solitude” along Lindsay Creek with his wife, Mrs. Frances Gunby Bethune, and their seven children: John, Susan, Cherry Elizabeth, Joseph, James, Rachel, and Mary Barbara. Thomas and his parents were taken to Solitude where Charity washed laundry for the Bethune family and Mingo worked as a laborer. Once Thomas began to walk he formed the habit of wandering off. Charity began placing a large wooden crate under a tree next to the Bethune home and would put Tom inside to prevent him from getting hurt while she did her day’s work.

Charity Wiggins' cottage 1900, 27th Street in Rose Hill. Mother of Blind Tom.jpeg


Being close to the house, Thomas could hear the Bethune children practice and play the piano the family kept in their front parlor. One night, when Thomas was three years old, the Bethune family sat at their dining room table for their evening meal. As they ate, the sound of the piano from down the hall interrupted the family’s mealtime conversation. With all children present at the table, the eldest daughter Mary got up to see who could be making the noise. Seated at the piano and tapping away at the keys was the blind, slave child Tom. After that night, Mary Bethune began teaching Tom how to play the piano.

James N. Bethune & Blind Tom picture.jpg


It was quickly recognized that Tom had an abnormally strong memory. He could repeat full conversations that he heard between the family earlier in the day. After he learned the keys on a piano, he could hear a song played by someone else and play it back perfectly. He also was possessed of a keen sense of hearing. Sounds captivated him. He would wonder into the woods at night following the sounds of birds or the wind through the trees. Tom could be drawn back to the house by the sound of one of the Bethune sons simply playing his flute in the yard. All the sounds that he heard he would remember. There was a powerful thunderstorm one night at the Bethune farm and the next day Tom recreated the sounds from the storm on the piano. This later became one of his own compositions titled, “The Rain Storm.” When he would play pieces unfamiliar to the Bethune children they would ask where he had learned it, Tom would reply, “The birds and the wind taught it to me.” He was said to be very energetic and playful all of his life, but when the music started Tom would become focused, claim, and fully absorbed in the sound.

Blind Tom 1860 .jpg


Tom had been born mentally and physically lacking but that absence was made up for by an incredible increase in his sense for hearing and his capacity for memory. General Bethune recognized this and made sure that Tom had access to the family piano. The General once tried to hire a musician from Columbus to give Tom lessons. Upon hearing Tom play, the musician refused, reasoning that Tom knew more about music, in his young age, than anyone could ever teach him. The man believed that reducing music to rules and procedure would interfere with Tom’s innate ability. The musician recommended that Tom should simply hear great music played by professional musicians.


With that advice, General Bethune would take Tom into town to hear traveling musicians perform or would hire the performers to play with Tom in private. At the age of eight, Tom performed publically for the first time at a hotel in downtown Columbus. To the white antebellum audience members, seeing a blind, dumb, slave child play classical music on a piano was extraordinary. Following that first successful performance, General Bethune took Tom on a tour of the country where Tom performed in packed theaters in all the major cities. In 1860, at the age of ten, Tom became the first black artist to perform at the White House for President James Buchanan. He later performed for royalty in Europe.

 

Blind Tom Thomas Wiggins taken in NY .png


In concert, audience members would call out the names of any musical piece and Tom would play it perfectly on cue. Theater patrons would even approach the stage, play a composition on Tom’s piano of their own creation, and Tom would play it back perfectly. One evening, an audience member sat at Tom’s piano on stage and began to play. His chosen composition was intricate and involved him moving his hands apart down the length of the piano. When he reached the ends, the player threw his head down and struck a key with his nose. As Tom resumed his position to play back what he had just heard, the audience members held their breath. Tom played up to the note that was struck by the man’s nose two of three times, obviously confused, but on the final play with Tom’s hands stretched to the ends of the piano Tom dropped his head and hit the correct key with his nose. A witness reported that he thought the roof of the building would collapse due to the roar of the audience’s response to Tom having called the trick. In another performance, Tom played one song with his left hand, another with his right, and sang a third all at the same time and all in different pitches. He was known to jump up from his bench after his own performances and lead the audience in their applause, applauding himself. At the height of Tom’s career, his repertoire of performance music was said to consist of seven thousand compositions, including a few of his own.   

 
The Bethune family left Columbus and moved to Virginia following the War Between the States. It was there at the new family farm that Tom spent many of the summers off from his concert tour. Tom did return to Columbus and once performed at the Springer Opera House. General Bethune was appointed as Tom’s legal guardian after Emancipation and his son John Bethune later became Tom’s manager. John was caught up in a messy divorce with a woman named Eliza who was already married when she was wed to John. Following the divorce, Eliza sued General Bethune for custody of Tom. She won the suit and Tom lived out the last fifteen years of his life with her and her third husband, Mr. Albert Lerche, at their home in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was never allowed to see the Bethunes or his mother, whom remained in Columbus, ever again.

Blind Tom 1870.jpg


Three weeks before his death in 1908, Tom suffered from a stroke that partially paralyzed his hands. On the night that he died, Eliza Lerche could hear Tom trying to play the piano but becoming frustrated by his paralysis. Through his sobs, Eliza heard him say “I’m done, all gone, Missus” followed by a thunderous thud of his body collapsing on the floor. Without music, his joy in life and will to live was “all gone.”     

Blind Tom Midland, Ga grave marker Dedication with his niece Carrie Wiggins Ford present copy.jpg


One of the many mysteries that remains about Thomas today is where he is currently buried. Following his funeral, he was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in New York. In the mid 1900s, a great-grandchild of General Bethune planned to have Tom exhumed and reinterned in Columbus. There are those who believe this plan was carried out and that Blind Tom is currently buried in Midland, Georgia, just a few miles from where he was born. Evergreen Cemetery, however, maintains that their burial records show Tom was buried there in 1908 and no evidence exists that he was ever moved. Even this claim has its doubters, as witnesses at Tom’s funeral claimed that the body in the casket was a tall, gray haired man. Tom was only five foot eight inches tall and had dark hair all of his life.


General and Mrs. Bethune were buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus. The land of their old farm, where Tom grew up, is currently occupied by the Hardaway High School and Columbus State University campuses, the family home having burned over a century ago. Currently, descendants of the Bethune family and Mingo and Charity Wiggins continue to call Columbus their home. And around the world, Thomas Wiggins’ music from a life and career that began in Columbus, Georgia, is still studied and performed. A few of his compositions, performed by notable musicians, can be found online through YouTube.

Blind Tom New York headstone.jpg

-Special thanks to Mrs. Patti Andrews for contributing her research for the writing of this article. 

Tryphena Moore Crute Mathews

cmyk_tryphenia1.jpg

By Jack Schley

Tryphena was the first-born of many children that came to the Moore home. From an early age, she developed a sense of responsibility as she helped her mother with the care of her ever-expanding family. When Tryphena was about nineteen, she married Samuel Crute, a young planter who had moved to Georgia from Louisiana. This is the history of a remarkable southern woman.

This was a woman who labored in love only to lose all but her own life. She endured a most extreme and unnatural scenario of tragedy that no parent should ever have to experience. This all-consuming fire could have forged her into a hammer of destruction; instead, it created an anvil of strength and endurance for all that shaped the community around her. Tryphena was named after a woman of Biblical times, whom the apostle Paul described as one who “labored in the Lord.” Throughout her life, Tryphena’s actions showed that she was deservant of this ancient name. Tryphena was born in 1823 on the plantation of John B. Williams, her grandfather, in Crawford County, near Roberta, Georgia. Her parents were George and Rachel Williams Moore. She was one of eleven children, and at the age of nineteen, she married Samuel Crute of Louisiana. The newly wed couple made their home together near the Moore family land. Over time, Tryphena and Samuel had three sons and one daughter that were born into a comfortable home surrounded by a loving family. George and Rachel Moore were thrilled that Tryphena had chosen to make a life near them, but two of their elder children had also married and moved away from Robley, the family farm. As these two parents began to predict the future for their remaining eight children, who were all of, or around, marrying age, they could not bear the thought of living apart from them.

Mr. Moore determined that, in order to prevent his children from moving away, he would have to give enough of his own surrounding land to each child, as an incentive to keep them close by. This could not be accomplished at Robley, however, as land was expensive and George’s thirteen hundred acres was not enough to support a family for each of his children. He had to look beyond his lands in Georgia.

 

 The answer came with the formation of Texas as a state. Land was abundant and cheap there. Samuel and Tryphena Crute agreed, along with the other eight, unmarried children, to make the move. Mr. Moore purchased a large tract of land near Anderson in Grimes County, Texas, and sent two of his sons, James and George, Jr, ahead of the family to prepare for their arrival.

Once in Anderson, James and George, who were both in their late twenties, along with a team of their father’s African slaves began to clear the land. A large house was to be built for all of the family, along with cabins for the slaves, and barns for the livestock. Back in Georgia, the family prepared to move. The Robley plantation was sold, and all of the household and farm possessions were loaded onto wagons while the family resided in Knoxville, Georgia. It was there that young James Moore returned from Texas to bring his parents, siblings, his sister’s family, and seventy-two of his father’s slaves to the new farm out west. There were fifteen members amongst the Moore and Crute families making the journey. The migration formed a long wagon train, loaded with all their family possessions that would be needed for life in Texas. In one wagon, a false bottom was created below the main bench where $30,000 in gold coins was concealed because gold was the only currency accepted in Texas at the time.

The family departed from Knoxville, Georgia on January 23, 1854, headed for Montgomery, Alabama, then to Mobile, and on to Galveston, Texas by steamship. By early February, the family had reached Galveston. The fully loaded wagons were rolled off of the ship, and the family began traveling again toward Anderson. They were not far outside of Galveston when they stopped to make camp for the night. They found an abandoned cabin along the road that was empty, except for a pile of discarded clothes. The garments were a little dirty but seemed almost new, so the slaves picked out items from the pile to bring on the rest of their journey.

history web 10.jpg

The next day, many of the slaves were violently ill. Fearing contagion, Mr. George Moore pushed his family on towards Anderson, leaving his wife and two of their sons to care of the sick. By the next day, many of the sick slaves had died. Mrs. Rachel Moore loaded everyone up and began traveling in the direction of her family. Along the way, her twenty-year-old son, Julius, became ill and died in the carriage outside of Houston on February 10, 1854.

When Rachel caught up to her family, they were encamped in another abandoned log cabin along the road three miles outside of Anderson. The cabin was a single room that was sixteen by eighteen feet in size. Mattresses from the wagons had been unloaded and thrown on the floor. On the mattresses were her other children and grandchildren; all gravely ill.

The ailment was asiatic cholera. There had been an outbreak in Galveston just prior to the family’s arrival. The bacteria causes severe dehydration, leading to death in a few hours or a few days. It is a painful and messy manner of death. Mrs. Tryphena Moore Crute and her father George Moore, were doing everything they could to comfort their sick children because comfort was all they could attempt to provide. On February 12, two of the Moore children, William and Rachel, both died in the cabin. They were in their early teens. The next day, George Moore, Sr. was standing in the doorway to the house where his family lay dying when he noticed his own finger nails turning purple. He sent urgently for a lawyer from Anderson while he gathered around his remaining children. The lawyer, a Mr. J. Barnes, arrived to the cabin and later described it as, “…the most heart-rendering scene that I have ever heard of, and God forbid it should ever be my unhappy lot to witness the like again.” Mr. Barnes wrote George Moore, Sr.’s will as the man quickly fell ill into death.

While Mr. Moore conveyed his final wishes, his young grandson went from playing in the front yard to moaning on one of the mattresses on the cabin floor. Tryphena tended to him and the lawyer overheard the conversation between a mother and her child, “Mother, are all of my little brothers and sisters gone to Heaven, but me?” “All but my baby, son.” “Well Ma, you must come and father too.” Finally, “Oh! Mother meet me in Heaven.” Tryphena and Samuel’s three sons died that day, leaving only their one year old daughter. Samuel, himself, became very sick but rallied and was able to help Tryphena with the care of their remaining children.

George Moore, Sr. died shortly after signing his will. Death came over the family, “like a flood.” There were deaths amongst the slaves every day with as few as thirty-two of the original seventy-two already dead, and more dying. Mrs. Rachel Moore became very weak from nursing her family and had to lie down. As she watched her daughter, Tryphena, care for the remainder of the family, she called to her, “…lie down and rest. I will call you when I need you.” Tryphena dropped down on the mattress beside her mother. When she awoke, her mother’s arm was wrapped around her, but her mother was dead.

history web 8.jpg

By February 19, thirteen family members were dead, leaving only Tryphena, her husband Samuel, and their infant daughter. That day, they departed the cabin for the family farm three miles away. They arrived, greeting Tryphena’s brother George, Jr. He had stayed on the farm to receive his large family, but only three had made it. That night, Samuel Crute grew weak again, and passed. Tryphena was relieved to still have her daughter, but the measles swept through Anderson, and the infant child died only a month after surviving the cholera outbreak.

Overcome with grief and loss, Tryphena returned to Georgia. She had lost her parents, six brothers, one sister, her husband and four children; almost all in about ten days. She eventually remarried to Dr. William Asbury Mathews, and Tryphena had another three sons and one daughter, just as she had before. Dr. Mathews was a Methodist minister, and through him she found a purpose in her life. She became devoted, “unsparing(ly) in her ministries in the church and the community.” They made their home in Fort Valley, Georgia.

Before her death in 1905, at the age of eighty-two, she had become a beacon of strength, faith, and wisdom to her family and everyone that knew her. One of her sons, George William Mathews, became a minister and served at St. Luke in Columbus. His son, George Mathews, Jr. was a prominent businessman in Columbus and raised his children here. There are other descendants of Tryphena, and the Williams-Moore family, who continue to call Columbus their home today. Her legacy as a comforting light, created in the darkest pit of despair, lives on amongst her progeny. On Tryphena’s gravestone, her final epitaph reads: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed.”

Thomas Bryant Buck

Thomas Bryant Buck 1890-1948

Thomas Bryant Buck 1890-1948

Thomas Bryant Buck was born in Russell County, Alabama, September 3, 1890, the son of Charles Willis Buck, born in Newbern, Alabama, November 22, 1863 and Martha Mahalie Clay Buck (Mrs. C. W.), and born in Russell County, Alabama, April 2, 1865. Both lived in Columbus until their deaths. Bryant Buck had one sister, Mrs. W. M. Amos (May) and two brothers, Raymond Clay Buck of Columbus and Cecil Edwin Buck, deceased. He was married to Helen Daphne Dodd (Born August 23, 1891 in Douglas County, GA) , onJanuary 4, 1914 at the home of Thomas Edward Dodd, the bride's grandfather, Campbell County, Ga. Mrs. Buck is the daughter of Mrs. Mary Brown Dodd and the late John Thomas Dodd of Atlanta. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. T. B. Buck. Thomas Bryant Buck, Jr., born February 25, 1917; Harold Dodd Buck, August 20, 1923; William C. Buck, March 21, 1925; Brownie Buck Elliott (Mrs. J. Robert); Helen Buck Bergquist (Mrs. Vincent F.) and twin daughters, Jean and Jane Buck.

Helen Dodd Buck 1891-1941

Helen Dodd Buck 1891-1941

All were born in Columbus. They were the grandparents of Thomas Bryant Buck, III, born 1938; Leslie Litchfield Buck, 1943; Vincent Finval Bergquist, Jr., 1947; Beryl Valien Bergquist, 1949 and Harold Dodd Buck, Jr., 1950, all born in Columbus, Ga. In 1912 Mr. Buck became a retail grocer as owner of Buck Grocery Company. After only ten years, due to his industriousness and frugality he was able to construct an ice manufacturing plant known as the Buck Ice and Coal Company. Under his able direction this business prospered and in 1931 he built an Ice Plant in Macon, Ga. In 1938 he expanded his activities into the soft drink bottling field, purchasing the local franchises for Dr. Pepper and Seven Up and erecting a new bottling plant for that operation.

                      Early Buck's Bottle

                      Early Buck's Bottle

In the early 1940's he entered the corn milling and syrup manufacturing field, becoming an officer of Eelbeck Milling Co. During this same period he became a Director of the Merchants and Mechanics Bank. He was an original stockholder and member of the board of Southern Foods, Inc. He was also a Director of the Southeastern Retail Coal Association and of the Rotary Club of Columbus. He belonged to the Executives Club, the Country Club of Columbus and was affiliated with the Baptist Church.

In 1922, T. B. Buck founded Buck Ice. In those days, block ice was delivered by mule-pulled wagons and folks placed cards in their windows to order their ice. Back then, "The Red Wagon Boys" was a popular radio program. Later, our Buck Ice penguins, "Pete and Gladys", became a favorite of children and adults alike.
 
 

Thomas Bryant Buck, Jr

Thomas Bryant Buck, Jr

Thomas Bryant Buck, Jr. was born February 25, 1917 in Columbus, Ga. His parents were Helen Dodd Buck of Douglas County, Ga. who was born August 23, 1891 and Thomas Bryant Buck, Sr. of Lee County, Ala. who was born September 3, 1890 and died January 19, 1948. Thomas was one of a family of seven children, three boys and four girls. His sisters are Brownie B. Elliott, Helen B. Bergquist, Jean Buck, Jane Buck, and his brothers Harold D. Buck and William C. Buck. He was educated in the Columbus Public Schools and graduated from Industrial High School in 1934. He then attended Georgia Military College. Violet Burrus Litchfield, daughter of Nell Jones Litchfield and Robert Litchfield, became his wife August 15, 1936 in Pittsview, Alabama. They are the parents of two sons, both born in Columbus, Ga. Thomas Bryant Buck, III was born March 2, 1938 and Leslie Litchfield Buck, March 3, 1943. Mr. Buck has made great advancement in the business world.   He is manager of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Co. of Columbus, Vice-Pres. of Eelbeck Milling Company of Georgia, Manager of the Buck Investment Co., Partner in Buck Ice and Coal Co. of Columbus and Macon, Ga., Director of the Y. M. C. A., Director of Merchants and Mechanics Bank, Director Bachelors Club, Director Georgia Bottlers Association, Director of Southern Foods, Inc., and Director of Executives Club. At the present time he is serving as President of the Chamber of Commerce for the year 1951.   He was chosen Man of The Year for 1949. His Club affiliations consist of the Bachelors, Country Club, Executives Club and the Rotary Club. He is a Deacon in the First Baptist Church. Thomas is a very personable young man, always courteous and friendly to everyone. His leadership in any Civic enterprise which promotes improvement and growth of Columbus has made him one of the outstanding young men of this community.

" Over the years the Buck Ice family and the fine folks who work with us have continued to offer you and your family the best ice and the best service available. Today, Buck Ice is automatically manufactured and packaged using modern technology. As Bucki says, "Never touched by human hands." Insist on Buck Ice wherever you shop. We're proud of our eighty-three year history of service - in the same family, in the same location. We're even prouder to have so many folks as our customers and our friends."

 

CARL FREDERICK SCHOMBURG

The Schomburg family was a pioneer in the jewelry business in Columbus. Cark Frederick Schomburg has been constantly engaged in business in Columbus for fifty six years and therefore is considered one of Columbus’ oldest business men.

He was born in Hanover, Germany on May 25th, 1852, the son of Heinrich Ludwig Schomburg and Amala Schmidt. His father was born on March 1st, 1799, and mother May 1822. His father was of an old farmer generation, the old homestead being in the Deister Mountains, near Rinteln southwest of the city of Hanover, Germany.

At the age of nineteen Mr. Schomburg came to the United States after having served as a watchmaking and jewelry trades apprentice, and he remained for about a year in New York City. Successively he moved to Columbus and established himself in the watchmaking and jewelry business here. His success can be credited to the conscientious application to work and his austere honesty, as it was well known that he would rather not indulge in a business transaction than misrepresent anything in the slightest degree.

cmyk_schom3.jpg

    Mr. Schomburg was married on September 15th, 1875 in Columbus, Georgia to Wilhelmina Emma Reich daughter of Frederick Reich and Maria Cresentia (Keinbach) Reich. The ceremony was conducted by the Reverend Dr. Nall of First Presbyterian Church. They are the parents of six children: four boys; Carl Ludwig, Frederick Herman, Herbert Heinrich and Otto Meinhardt Schomburg, and two girls: Minnie, now Mrs. W. F. Newman and Gertrude, now Mrs. Alma Gertrude Ingle both residing in Jacksonville, Florida.

    Mr. Schomburg has always been actively associated with all progressive movements working for the betterment of the community, and while a young man, was very much intererested in thef romation and functioning of the volunteer Fire Departments, Atheletetic Scocieteis, Singing Socitieties and being naturally of a studious nature himself was on of the pioneers in building up of a Municiipal Library and has been a director and vice-president of the Columbus Public Library, charter member of the Historical Society and Columbus Board of Trade and for 25 years a member of Columbus Gun Club. He was truly an active member of the community.

    He represents the American trunk of the Schomburg family tree from now on, sharing the honor with his good wife, Wilhemina Emma Reich daughter of Mr. Fererick Reich and Mrs. Maria Cresentia Reich.

A native of Hanover, Germany, Carl Frederick Schomburg (right) came to this country at the age of nineteen. He served a year of apprenticeship as a watchmaker and jeweler in New York before coming to Columbus where in 1972, he began what is now Columbus’ oldest jewelry store. He was succeeded in the business by his son, Frederick Herman Schomburg, Sr., (left) and by his grandson Frederick Herman Schomburg Jr. Two great-grandsons, Charles Frederick Powell and Frederick Collins Schomburg are also associated with this 113-year-old business that now has its store on Auburn Avenue. Photograph courtesy of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer newspapers.

It was custom for Mr. Carl Schomburg to the ring the bell each day at 11 a.m. in order that clocks and watches throughout the city could be checked for their accuracy. Later he would maintain the city clock in the First Presbyterian Church after 1891, passing the duty down to his son, Fred. Photograph courtesy of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer newspapers.

In 1891 fire damaged the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of First Avenue and Eleventh Street. As its main tower was being rebuilt, jewelry and church member Carl Schomburg proposed that the city of Columbus purchase a $500 clock for the tower, agreeing to install the clock and maintain it free of cost to the city during his lifetime. Purchased was one by the noted American clock manufacturer, Seth Thomas, with four dials that required winding each week. Schomburg kept his part of the bargain until he retired in 1930. At that time, his son, Fred H. Schomburg, Sr., took on the chores of the city clock maintenance until it was electrified after World War II. Photograph from the collection of F. Clason Kyle.

Nearly three peaceful decades in Columbus brought with it the birth of a number of business institutions that became landmarks of commerce for nearly a century. Names like Kirven’s, Rosenberg’s, David Rothschild Company, Schomburg’s, Chancellor’s, Harvey Lumber Company, W.C. Bradley Company, the Southern Railway System, and the Fourth National Bank had their beginnings during this period.

Schomburg lived to age ninety-three, still active in the business that his father, a native of Germany, founded here in 1872. In this 1970 photograph, Schomburg is seen with the Seth Thomas clock that his father installed in front of the Broadway store in 1906. Photograph courtesy of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer newspapers.

Georgia’s Oldest Fifth Generation Jeweler – from website: Frederick Carl Schomburg was born May 25, 1852 in Hanover, Germany. The son of Heinrick Ludwig Schomburg and Amalia Sophia Schmidt, both residents of Hanover, Germany. Carl served an apprenticeship as watchmaker under Heinrick Oelmann in Burdorf and worked for about a year under a celebrated watchmaker in the city of Cells. He immigrated to America arriving in New York September 1871 and moved to Columbus, Georgia in May 1872. On the 15th day of September 1875, Carl was married to Miss Wilhelmina (Minnie) Emma Reich. Carl and Minnie were blessed by the birth of ten children, four of whom died when infants. Schomburg's Jewelers, one of Georgia oldest manufacturers of jewelry, designs our jewelry in solid 14kt, 18kt and platinum.

 Frederick Carl Schomburg was born May 25, 1852 in Hanover, Germany. The son of Heinrick Ludwig Schomburg and Amalia Sophia Schmidt, both residents of Hanover, Germany. Carl served an apprenticeship as watchmaker under Heinrick Oelmann in Burdorf and worked for about a year under a celebrated watchmaker in the city of Cells. He immigrated to America arriving in New York September 1871 and moved to Columbus, Georgia in May 1872. On the 15th day of September 1875, Carl was married to Miss Wilhelmina (Minnie) Emma Reich. Carl and Minnie were blessed by the birth of ten children, four of whom died when infants.

Laid off the property were walkways lied with evergreen trees and circles of shrubbery with tables and chairs. In the circle, his favorite spot, a beer garden. Carl’s love of the property stemmed from his fondness of music. On his property he had a music hall with an orchestral hall and several musical cylinders, each playing several of the finest pieces of music.

 

Joseph A. Kirven

By: Stephanie Reeves

A businessman and philanthropist, Joseph Albert Kirven made quite the name in retail for Columbus’ past. It was the only independent department store in Columbus that opened in 1876. It had entrances from three streets spanning 70,000 sq. ft. As Columbus began building it’s retail up, and with the opening of Columbus Square Mall, Kirven’s would now find a second home there in 1975. The department store served as the third anchor for the mall.

Joseph Albert Kirven was one of the representative citizens of Columbus, Georgia, having been born in this City April 24th, 1849 and having spent his entire life of 69 years in this community. He was the son of James Henry Kirven who was born in Fayetteville, N. C, April 10th, 1804 and who moved to Muscogee County, Georgia in 1828 The following year he was married to Miss Thirza Bevers Gray of Columbus, her birth having occurred in Morgan County, Georgia, October 3rd., 1812.

Joseph Albert Kirven received his early education in the Schools of Columbus and was about twelve years of age at the beginning of the War between the States. He was too young to enlist in the Army but rendered aid to the Cause of the Confederacy as a coremaker in the arsenal of Columbus. After the War, he clerked in a book store and one of the high lights in that period of his life was the reading of the books at night that he sold during the day. His education having been limited on account of the War, he later attended school in the evenings, thus showing his ambition for an education.

Mr. Kirven entered the dry goods business August 1st, 1876 and was organizer of the present J. A. Kirven Company. The business prospered under his well directed efforts and today is operating on the sound foundation laid by him and his brother, Richard Kirven. The Store today is managed by his son, James DuPont Kirven who is president and affiliated with him are two sons-in-law and a grandson of Mr. Albert Kirven. They are Wesley Laney, Albert Wade and Kirven Gilbert respectively.

Mr. Kirven was one of the most public spirited men in the community and always took a part in every forward movement. It was while he was in Washington in the interest of the location of the present Fort Benning, that he was stricken with illness which in a few weeks proved fatal. He served several terms as President of the Board of Trade; was a member of the Board of Aldermen three terms; and served fourteen years as a member of the Board of School Trustees of Columbus. 

He was a member of the First Baptist Church and served as Chairman of the Board of Deacons for many years. He was Superintendent of the Sunday School for twenty years. He always had a deep passion for the young men and boys of Columbus and was President of the Y. M. C. A. when the present building was erected. This was brought on by philanthropist George Foster Peabody making this a proposal to J.A. Kirven in September of 1901. In part it read from Mr. Peabody: "I beg now, upon behalf of my brothers (Roy Confield Peabody and Charles Jones Peabody) and myself to formally confirm our offer to erect a building to cost not less than $35,000 suitable for occupancy by the YMCA and to be placed upon a lot of ground to be provided and deeded to the association by other friends, free of lien. This offer is conditioned upon the purchase and payment for this land, and upon the raising of as much as $10,000 in cash to be invested and held by the trustees of the association for an endowment fund."

He was one of the promoters and supporters of the project, which resulted in the erection of the Institution and was president of it at the time of his death, having held this office for eighteen consecutive years. He was affiliated with the Royal Arcanum, the National Union, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and Knights of Maccabees. At the time of his death he was president of the Associated Charities and a member of the Board of Directors of the Muscogee County Alms Home.

On November 23rd, 1873 Mr, Kirven was married to Miss Ella Jane Wall, daughter of Cornelius DuPont and lane. Cheiney Wall of Macon and Columbus Georgia. She died July 31st, 1903, leaving six children of whom the following brief record is entered : Alberta, the wife of Thomas Gilbert, Jr.; Margaret, the wife of Wesley T. Laney; Florence, the wife of Will H. Foy; Annie, the wife of Fred Gordy; Eula, the wife of Albert B. Wade and a son, J. DuPont Kirven, who married Elizabeth Fry. Seventeen grandchildren and tour great grandchildren revere the memory of their grandfather.

On March 14th, 1918 Joseph Albert Kirven's life of usefulness came to an end. He was held in unequivocal esteem in both business and social circles. His pleasing personality was one of his marked characteristics and that with his loyalty to all civic and religious enterprises made him one of the outstanding and one of the most beloved citizens of Columbus. SVM

JAMES BIGGERS KEY

James Biggers Key was noted as one of the most highly esteemed and well known among business leaders in Columbus, Georgia.  

He was born to Howard W. and Ozella (Biggers) Key in Harris County, Georgia on June 21, 1877. Key was one of seven children, having four brothers and two sisters. His paternal grandfather was Bishop Joseph S. Key, one of the most notable divines in Southern Methodism. His maternal grandfather was J.J. W. Biggers, a large planter of Harris County.

Columbus High 1918 Basketball Champions.  FRONT ROW: Mark Rosenberg, Bunn Martin, Hal Campbell, Kenneth Munn, Jack Key. BACK ROW: Coach D.W. Johnston, Jack Kaufman, Joe Blackmon, William Chambers, and Manager Willie McCraney.

Columbus High 1918 Basketball Champions.
FRONT ROW: Mark Rosenberg, Bunn Martin, Hal Campbell, Kenneth Munn, Jack Key. BACK ROW: Coach D.W. Johnston, Jack Kaufman, Joe Blackmon, William Chambers, and Manager Willie McCraney.

James went on to marry Lyda May Botts, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Botts of Jackson, Tennessee. Together the couple had five children: Jack B., Lyda May, Jamie W. (deceased), Josephine, and Dorothy A. Key also has four grandchildren: Betty and Barbara Golden, Herbert D. Groover, Jr., and Jack Key, Jr.

He attended public schools in Columbus, Georgia, as well as being educated at Webb Bros. Preparatory School at Bell Buckle, Tennessee. James’ father, Dr. Howard W. Key, was known for opening up the Columbus Polytechnic Institute on 3rd avenue, in the well-known Lion House. James attended his father’s school, along with several of his friends. He also attended Southwestern University in Tennessee also.

Four generations of Columbus Rotary Presidents:Jack Key III ( 1997-98), Jack B. Key Jr. (1976-77), Jack B. Key Sr. (1935-36), James Biggers Key (1920-21).

Four generations of Columbus Rotary Presidents:Jack Key III ( 1997-98), Jack B. Key Jr. (1976-77), Jack B. Key Sr. (1935-36), James Biggers Key (1920-21).

James B. Key began his business career right here in Columbus, Georgia. In 1898, he organized a wholesale grocery concern for 18 years, and worked in the cotton warehouse business for four years. Alongside his many business adventures, Mr. Key was an active part of the community. He was an active member of the Rotary Club as president, an official at St. Luke Methodist Church, a director at Y.M.C.A., and served as a president of the Boy Scouts of Columbus.

Key took pride in participating in several city boards. He was a member of the city planning board, and was also one of the trustees for the Columbus Board of Education for many years. Through his position in education he was instrumental in improvements and innovations, which placed the local school system among the first in the country.

James Biggers Key with baby Jack B. Key and his father Howard W. Key.

James Biggers Key with baby Jack B. Key and his father Howard W. Key.

In the local and civil political circles he had a large influence, and has held many important offices within these sections. He did so all entirely without compensation. At the age of 21, Key was an alderman of the city, and just two years later was made a police commissioner. In his time as a chairman of the Muscogee County Commission of Roads and Revenues, he was one of the promoters of the resulting movement in paved highways throughout the county. He was very active in many projects also concerning the welfare in the county and state.

For 13 years James Biggers Key was involved in the banking enterprises of the city. During the World War, Key was chairman of all the Liberty Loans for West Georgia. Due to his efforts and success, the Government of the United States bestowed a special medal upon him. He was the head of Merchants and Mechanics Bank, the oldest institution of its kind in the city. The bank received its charter in 1871.

Merchants and Mechanics Bank.

Merchants and Mechanics Bank.

Key became the president on January 6th 1919 of the bank after being the vice president since 1916. Since that time there has always been a member of the Key family in banking.  Jack B. Key, James’ son, took over his father’s position as president at Merchants and Mechanics Bank on January 4, 1939. In 1953 the bank joined with First National, and Jack B. Key then served up until 1963. Following in the footsteps, another Key family member served as the head of the bank. James Williams Key, Jack B. Key’s son, became the president in 1972 and served in the position until 1980when he was elected chairman of the board. The three Key family members collectively served 52 years as president.


THE BICKERSTAFFS

Persistent, industrious and steadfast, the Bickerstaff brothers - James Henry and William Jefferson Jr. - paved the way for their family to sustain and prosper for decades to come when they developed a partnership to form Bickerstaff Brick Company in 1885 becoming one of the largest family – owned brick manufacturers in the world.

Born in Russell County, Alabama on May 17, 1844, James Henry Bickerstaff was the fourth born of eight children. His younger brother, and eventual business partner, William Jefferson Bickerstaff Jr. was born November 2, 1850 in Russell County, Alabama.

James Henry and William Jefferson Jr. are the sons of William Jefferson Bickerstaff who was born September 18, 1819 in Butts County, Georgia. By 1839, William Jefferson Sr. had married Martha Christian Humber, who was also from Butts County, Georgia.

When War broke out in 1861, William Jefferson Bickerstaff did not turn his back on the South. Instead he, and two of his sons - Robert Humber and James Henry -willingly fought against the North to preserve their heritage. Unfortunately, William Jefferson Bickerstaff Sr. was injured during the Battle of Murfrees and later succumbed to his wounds. He died in 1863, two years before the war ended.

Despite their father’s death, Robert Humber and James Henry continued fighting for the South. Robert Humber soon followed his father in death. He (and many other soldiers) contracted measles in Sangster’s Crossroads, Virginia.

James Henry Bickerstaff, who was only seventeen years old when he joined his father and older brother on the battlefield, did not leave the War unscathed. After recovering from a wound to his thigh, he later lost his left arm during battle and was forced to return home before the War ended.

Born in Russell County, Alabama on May 17, 1884, James Henry Bickerstaff was the fourth born of eight children. His younger brother, and eventual business partner, William Jefferson Bickerstaff Jr. was born November 2, 1850 in Russell County, Alabama.
Despite losing his arm at the age of 19, James Henry Bickerstaff did not let his disability deter his dreams of future success. In November 1869, he married Emma Lindsay Howard and went on to have three children before 1875.

Little more is known about the brothers’ dealings during the Post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, but by 1885 the pair had found the entrepreneurial spirit and purchased the Abercrombie Brickyard in Brick Yard, Alabama. The company was coined Bickerstaff Brick Co. and expanded dramatically in the years to come.

During the company’s development and expansion, William Jefferson Jr. married Elizabeth (Bessie) Nell Bright in December 1897. The next year, two of James Henry’s sons - James Henry Jr. and Augustus Howard - joined their father and uncle in the brickyard business.

By 1901, farm-land previously owned by the Abercrombies and sold to Henry P. Moffett was sold to the Bickerstaffs and as a result, this land became the J.H. Bickerstaff Farm Co. In 1909, both companies were incorporated. Unfortunately, James Henry did not live to see this monumental accomplishment. He died one day after his 62nd birthday on May 18, 1906. William Jefferson Jr. served as the Bickerstaff Brick Co.’s president until 1916 (he later died in 1924) when the company was turned over to the sons of James Henry.

Later the old Abercrombie farm was expanded even further when Arthur Bussey, organizer of the Dixie Brick Co., joined his part of the farmland with that owned by William Bickerstaff Jr. This new partnership resulted in the construction of a brick making plant.

Throughout the following decades, the Bickerstaff Brick Co. and the J.H. Bickerstaff Farm Co. remained family run establishments, thriving and expanding with the Bickerstaff family, operating well into the 20th century. By 1966, now run by Richard H. and Frank Jeter Bickerstaff, the Bickerstaff Brick Co. was renamed Bickerstaff Clay Products Co., Inc. Various savvy modifications helped make Bickerstaff Clay Production Co. Inc. one of the largest family-owned brick manufacturers in the world. By the time Bickerstaff Clay Production Co. Inc. was sold to Australian based brick manufacturer Boral Bricks, Inc. in 1995 there were operations in Russell County, Al; Bessemer, Al; Cobb County, Ga; and Pensacola, Fl.

Even though the Bickerstaff Clay Production Co., Inc. is no longer in operation today, the Bickerstaffs have left behind a family legacy that spans three centuries. Today, many of the family members reside in the Columbus-Phenix City area and are still contributing to the growth and preservation of their community.svm


G. GUNBY JORDAN

tumblr_inline_ngshmgFZXp1qij1yp.jpg

Every city in the world has a beginning. Those that have survived the tests of time were only able to do so by people that saw promise and endless potential in the city, and the people, itself. This issue begins a new series recounting numerous influential and historic Columbus families. For the next few issues, we will be featuring various families in (and around) Columbus that have helped mold our great city into what it is today.

Home of G. Gunby Jordan in Green Island where he lived until 1930.

Home of G. Gunby Jordan in Green Island where he lived until 1930.

Every city in the world has a beginning. Those that have survived the tests of time were only able to do so by people that saw promise and endless potential in the city, and the people, itself. This issue begins a new series recounting numerous influential and historic Columbus families. For the next few issues, we will be featuring various families in (and around) Columbus that have helped mold our great city into what it is today.

Native Georgian, Civil War veteran, innovator, entrepreneur, supporter of women’s suffrage, family man and friend to all, George Gunby Jordan is one of the many men that helped shape and develop Columbus (and the surrounding areas) into one of Georgia’s major cities.


Armed with a booming personality and the entrepreneurial spirit, G. Gunby Jordan came to Columbus knowing that he would make a serious impact on society life in his adopted home. During the beginning of the 20th century, Jordan was one of the city’s most powerful and public citizens. Being well educated and unafraid to stand for what he thought was right, Jordan possessed an imposing appearance with all he encountered.

A young G. Gunby Jordan circa 1864

A young G. Gunby Jordan circa 1864

Born June 19,1846 in Sparta, Georgia, to Sylvester Franklin and Rachel Gunby Jordan (and one of six children), George Gunby Jordan was born into a family of pioneers. His ancestors were some of the first settlers in Massachusetts and as the Jordan family grew and prospered, they spread out along the east coast to Maryland and Georgia.


As G. Gunby Jordan reached puberty, he was educated in the grammar and high schools of Sparta. At the age of seventeen, Jordan left Sparta to join the Confederate Army as a private in Nelson Rangers, a volunteer company from Georgia, which served as scouts and as escorts of Lieut. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, after he was appointed Corps Commander in Hood’s Army. There he met and fought side by side many Columbus natives.

G. Gunby Jordan  death announcement in the local newspaper on may 9, 1930

G. Gunby Jordan  death announcement in the local newspaper on may 9, 1930

Three months after the war, Jordan settled in Columbus, Georgia and immediately began looking for work. Distantly related to W.H. Young, Jordan knew exactly where to turn. In 1867, he was made the treasurer of the Eagle & Phenix Manufacturing Company by Young. Resourceful and business savvy, Jordan promptly asked for a few weeks’ delay before he started working, saying he needed to return to Sparta to take care of some family business. Whereupon Jordan went to East Georgia and learned bookkeeping.


Upon returning, Jordan immediately began his new position while also assuming the role of the company’s spokesman, eventually selling products to wholesalers throughout the South and Midwest and successfully lobbing in Washington in the 1870s to exempt the firm’s assets from a federal banking tax that Congress tried to impose.
In the midst of these many great endeavors Jordan also found the time to start a family. He married Columbus native Lizzie B. Curtis in 1886. Unfortunately, their marriage was short lived when Lizzie died the following year leaving a son, Ralph Curtis Jordan.

House of G. Gunby Jordan in Green Island where he lived until 1930

House of G. Gunby Jordan in Green Island where he lived until 1930

Later, after almost 20 years of devoted service to Eagle & Phenix, Jordan turned his ambitions elsewhere and set his sights on the development of two new railroads designed to break the monopoly that the Central of Georgia Railroad had over Columbus rail connections. As a result, the construction of the Georgia, Midland and Gulf Railroad to McDonough and the Columbus Southern Railroad to Albany were overseen by Jordan himself. While undertaking such a large project, Jordan remarkably found the time to join forces with W.C. Bradley and others to launch the Third National Bank (1888) and the Columbus Savings Bank (1889), which were combined in 1930 to form the Columbus Bank & Trust Company (CB&T).

Jordan’s interests later returned to the Eagle & Phenix Mills after he was named a receiver for the Eagle & Phenix, which had experienced problems during the previous decade. After amassing investors, Jordan and his counterparts bought the mill and immediately started renovation in order to modernize the company. Jordan personally took a sledge hammer and destroyed all the obsolete equipment in the mills. From 1896 to 1915, Jordan owned the mill while friend and fellow businessman, W. C. Bradley, served on the board.

For over six decades, Jordan made many other momentous and influential contributions to the Columbus community. For one, George Gunby Jordan also dealt in real estate, developing the still thriving community of Green Island Hills. He also served as the president of the Columbus Board of Education and spearheaded the creation of the Secondary Industrial School—now Jordan High School. Jordan also served on the Muscogee County Commission of Roads and Revenues, where he successfully advocated paving the country’s roads.
Unfortunately, in early 1930 G. Gunby Jordan fell ill. After a long battle with pneumonia (from which he never fully recovered), Jordan died at his Green Island Ranch home May 9, 1930.

Jordan’s only son, Ralph Curtis Jordan, who had grown up to marry New Jersey native Louise Mulford, survived his father in death. The pair and their four children (G. Gunby II, R. Curtis, Jr., Mulford and Louise) continued the family legacy by continuing to contribute to the Columbus community in many different aspects, including music and the arts, education, transportation and others. svm