Tag Archives: African-Americans in North Georgia
In Memoriam of the Hart County Soldiers who died in the World War, 1917-19.
These lost their lives: John W. Adams; James B. Estes; Owen J. Alford; John R. Heaton; George W. Cason; Oscar B. McCurley; Preston B. Carter; Lawrence Nix; Samuel J. Chapellear; Gilbert Thompson; William J. Connelley; Vancey J. Wilson; Charles P. Dodd. Colored: Erskin Allen; Anderson Harris; Henry Gaines.
This row of oaks planted and the bronze tablet erected by the Hartwell Federated Woman’s Club.Hartwell GA., June 1922.
James Gordon and his two brothers came to Chickamauga, then known as Crawfish Springs, from Gwinnett County in 1836. In 1840, James began construction of this home (employing slave labor and using bricks made on site) to serve as the centerpiece of his 2500-acre plantation. The site was of local importance, as the Cherokee Courthouse was located on the grounds prior to displacement. [It was originally executed in the Greek Revival style; the addition of the massive portico and entablature in a 1900 remodel gave it its present Neoclassical appearance].
Gordon’s son Clark was elected commanding officer of Company D, First Georgia Volunteer Infantry, organized in 1862. During the Battle of Chickamauga the home served as temporary headquarters of Union Major General William Rosecrans, Army of the Cumberland (16-19 September 1863). It also served as a field hospital (18-20 September 1863) under the command of Medical Surgeon R. G. Bogue, treating both Union and Confederate casualties. In 1889, 14,000 veterans of the battle held a reunion on the grounds known as the Blue-Gray Barbeque. The idea to establish the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park had its origins at the barbeque, significantly the first Civil War park in the United States to be protected through preservation.
Upon the death of James and Sarah Gordon, the home passed to their daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, James Lee. The next owner was their son, Gordon Lee, a United States Congressman (1904-1927), and his wife, Olive. Lee stipulated in his will that if no family member took on the property for twenty years that it would become the property of the City of Chickamauga and this happened in 1947. It was sold to Dr. Frank Green in 1974. Dr. Green restored the house and grounds with great attention to historical accuracy. In 2007 it was purchased by the City of Chickamauga, which now operates a museum on the site.
This saddlebag house is the last surviving of six slave dwellings on the property.
Even if you don’t have the time to visit all the Civil War sites in the area, take the time to walk the wonderful grounds of the Gordon-Lee Mansion. Operated by the Friends of the Gordon-Lee Mansion in conjunction with the City of Chickamauga, it’s a wonderful green space and historic site.
National Register of Historic Places
From the historical marker placed in 2010 by the Walker County African-American Historical & Alumni Association: Chickamauga Prince Hall Lodge No. 221 Free & Accepted Masons of Georgia; First Charter 1915; Second Charter June 11, 1926. Present building completed in 1924, rededication 1952. Organized by once enslaved and and first generation freed African Americans. During segregation, in Walker County’s African American communities, Masons are active in the building & support of schools, churches, needy children & widows, laying cornerstones, funeral rites, burial insurance & social events. 1915 Charter: Rev. Kendall, Worshipful Master; C. D. Haslerig, Sr. Warden; C. S. Shellman, Jr. Warden; Archie Haslerig, Sec.; Sam Dodson, Treas.; John Daniel, Tyler. Worshipful Masters: C. D. Haslerig, C. W. Haslerig, W. A. Haslerig, Joseph McGinitis, Louis Moss, Raymond Smith, Bill Madden, Ray Hinton, Moses Cleveland, Lafayette Daniel, Joseph T. Suttle, Sam Mitchell, David Myers & Eddie W. Foster, Sr.
Chickamauga Ester Chapter 476 Order of Eastern Star. Charter granted June 28, 1944: Odessa Haslerig, Worthy Matron; Raymond Smith, Worthy Patron; Rugh Jones, Associate Matron; Sally Shropshire, Secretary.
The Walker County African-American VFW held its charter meeting here in the 1940s and the lodge was home to the organization for a time.
National Register of Historic Places
Designed by Spencer Stewart Marsh (1799-1875) around the time of LaFayette’s founding, this was home to his family and their descendants until 1989. It’s also known as the Marsh-Warthen House. Spencer Marsh was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, and married Ruth (Rutha) Terrell Brantley in 1824. They first migrated to Covington, Georgia, around 1833, and then to Walker County. He was a justice of the Inferior Court and a state senator and Walker County’s wealthiest and most prominent citizen with farming and real estate interests all over the area. He was also, along with Andrew P. Allgood and and William K. Briers, a founder of the Trion Factory (in Chattooga County), said to be the first cotton mill in Northwest Georgia, in 1845. It was later known as Marsh & Allgood. During the Civil War, the Marshes sought refuge in Cassville and upon their return after the war, found bloodstains and hoof marks from a Union pillaging.
Marsh’s daughter, Sarah Adaline, married Nathaniel Greene Warthen in 1859. Due to the heavy Union presence in Northwest Georgia, the young couple relocated to the relatively safer Warthen homeplace in Warthen, Washington County at the height of the war. Afterwards they returned to LaFayette and also resided here with Sarah’s family.
It’s a near certainty that Spencer Marsh’s slaves were responsible for the construction of the house. He owned 12 in 1850. One of them, 16-year-old Wiley Marsh, was Spencer’s son according to widely accepted oral history. [Interestingly, Wiley Marsh is mentioned on a Department of the Interior marker honoring the African-American presence on the property but it doesn’t note that he was Marsh’s son]. Built in the Greek Revival style popular by 1840, the house was expanded between 1895-10 by Marsh’s grandson, Spencer Marsh Warthen, who also added minimal Colonial Revival features, including the balustrade, around 1935. Almost every architectural element and update of the house has been extensively catalogued. Addie Augusta Wert, great-granddaughter of Spencer Marsh, was the last family member to reside here, removing to a nursing home in 1989. Patrick and Donna Clements bought the house from the estate in 1992 and sold it to the Walker County Historical Society in 2003. The Marsh House of LaFayette is now operated as a museum, with limited hours.
This is an abridged version of Dan H. Latham, Jr., and Beverly Foster’s excellent history of this house viewable on the National Register nomination form. It’s a fascinating read, especially in regards to some of the Civil War associations of the house and family, as well as the background on Wiley Marsh, Spencer’s “mulatto” son.
To enhanceme the interpretation of the African-American experience at the Marsh House, a log cabin has been moved here and reconstructed to replicate what a slave cabin would have looked like before the Civil War. This cabin is actually about a hundred years old and was an outbuilding located on another property. It was donated to the Marsh House by Breck Parker.
National Register of Historic Places