I’m sad to report that Carswell Grove Baptist Church, the centerpiece of one of Georgia’s most historic African-American congregations, was lost to arson on Sunday, 16 November 2014. I can only wonder what motivates such actions but since Carswell Grove has rebuilt in the past, I believe it will overcome this senseless tragedy. Deacon Palmer Lewis has been overseeing a renovation of this property for several years and is still hopeful for its future.
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Tom Darby (l) & Jimmie Tarlton. Real Photo Promotional Postcard, 1927. Collection of Brian Brown.
This postcard came into my possession through the estate of a cousin, who was a great niece of Tom Darby. Largely forgotten today, Thomas P. (Tom) Darby [1892-1971] and James J. (Jimmie) Tarlton [1892-1979] were considered not only legendary bluesmen but pioneers of country music as well. They’ve been called the first country musicians to employ the steel guitar. Their most famous work, “Columbus Stockade Blues”, has been covered by artists ranging from Doc Watson and Willie Nelson to Bill Monroe, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Dylan. When they made the recording for Columbia in Atlanta in November 1927 Tom Darby pressed for a flat payment of $150 but Jimmie Tarlton wanted royalties. The song took off and sold over 200,000 copies in a short time and though the duo recorded 63 more songs dating to 1933, hostilities over lost royalties finally drove them apart. They reunited in 1965 for a symphony appearance in Columbus but no further collaborative recordings were made. Tarlton, always considered the standout of the duo, did make solo recordings in the 1960s. Search Amazon for compilations, which are available and provide valuable insight into the birth of American popular music.
Burt Herman Browning, Veteran of World War I (1892-1951), Photographed in Fitzgerald, Georgia, 1939
In honor of all those serving today and in memory of those who have gone before us, I’m sharing a photograph of my great-grandfather, Burt Herman Browning, who as a veteran of the French theater in World War I represents the sacrifice of service. He was gassed with mustard gas and suffered shell shock in the trenches of Alsace and though he survived the war, he suffered the effects for the remainder of his life. A native of Scotland, Georgia, he mustered into the North Carolina infantry because he was working there at the outbreak of the Great War. Upon his return he married my great-grandmother (Sadie Harrell Browning) in Eastman, and after traveling around from one South Georgia town to another they finally settled in Fitzgerald in 1929. The damage of war made it difficult for him to farm or do manual labor and he was a grocer and small store owner as long as he was able to work. Much of his life in between working was spent shuffling back and forth between Fitzgerald and the Veterans Hospital in Gulfport, Mississippi. It made my great-grandmother’s life difficult, but since the government wouldn’t do its part for veterans, then as now, she worked in various textile mills around Fitzgerald and helped provide. That’s just what people did.
I don’t have a photograph of my great-grandfather in his uniform. I’m not sure if there ever was one or if his flashbacks motivated my great-grandmother to do away with them. But I’m lucky to have his dog tags.
REMEMBER OUR VETERANS