Tag Archives: Famous Georgians

Ephraim Ponder House, 1856, Thomasville

Built for Ephraim G. Ponder, a slave trader, this house originally featured a square cupola at the center of the roof. Ponder enslaved the Flipper family and one of their children, Henry Ossian Flipper (1856-1940), was the first black cadet to be admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, in 1877.

Detail of albumen cabinet card of Lieutenant Henry Flipper by Kennedy of Wilberforce, Ohio, circa 1877.  Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives. Committee on Military Affairs. Public domain.

Flipper earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army. He was also the first black officer to lead the buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry. He went on to serve in the Apache Wars and Victorio’s War but was troubled by rumors that led to his eventual court martial and discharge. He continued to work for the United States, as an assistant to the Secretary of the Interior in Mexico and Central America. Flipper’s family sought and received a complete pardon in 1999. It’s a nice irony that the slave trader is largely forgotten today while Mr. Flipper is honored with an annual award in his name at West Point.

Dawson Street Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Bethany Congregational Church, 1891 & 1914, Thomasville

Bethany Congregational Church was built in conjunction with the Allen Normal & Industrial Institute (1885-1933), a progressive school for black children sponsored by the American Missionary Society. The Society was the missionary department of the United Church of Christ. The school had initially been established in Quitman but the white community there burned the school to the ground scarcely six weeks after its opening. The institute moved to Thomasville after this racist episode and built a new home. Bethany was built in 1891, but only the rear section visible above. The front of the church, including the steeple, was added to meet the needs of a growing congregation in 1914.

Andrew Young served as pastor here in 1955, just after graduating from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut. He went on to become a seminal figure of the Civil Rights Movement, an ambassador to the United Nations, and mayor of Atlanta.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Hayes House, Circa 1851, Thomasville

This home was built by Thomas Jones of Greenwood Plantation as a wedding gift for his daughter Harriet and her husband, Dr. David S. Brandon, a prominent surgeon. [It’s referred to as the Dr. David Brandon House in the National Register of Historic Places]. Dr. Brandon sold the house to Mrs. John R. Hayes in 1862. In the last days of the Civil War, Professor Joseph LeConte of Liberty County was granted refuge here by the Hayes family.

Originally a one-story brick house, the second floor and mansard roof were added in the 1870s. The brick was stuccoed at that time. The roof is covered with octagonal slate tiles, featuring a decorative flower design.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Fletcher Henderson House, 1888, Cuthbert

This home was built by Professor Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Cuthbert’s preeminent black educator for well over half a century. Professor Henderson served as principal of Howard Normal School (later Randolph County Training School) from 1880-1942. The institution was owned by the American Missionary Association, a leading advocate for African-American education in the years following the Civil War. Henderson married Ozie Lena Chapman of Cuthbert in 1883. Mrs. Henderson also became an educator.

It’s likewise important as the birthplace of Fletcher Henderson, Jr., and Horace Henderson, who were influential in American music in the first half of the 20th century.  Upon completing college at Atlanta University in 1920, Fletcher (aka Smack) moved to New York and soon began working for Pace & Handy, a prominent publisher of African-American music. He was also an active member of the Harlem Symphony and later fronted a touring band that featured singer Ethel Waters. The band has the distinction of having the first known broadcast of jazz on radio, at New Orleans in 1922. At the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Henderson was the go-to accompanist of the great blues singers of the era and led the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at Roseland Ballroom for many years. He worked with numerous instrumentalists, including Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Green, Don Redman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Dixon, Fats Waller, and June Cole, among others. He sold his arrangements to Benny Goodman in the 1930s and worked with Goodman’s orchestra in the late 1930s and 1940s. The up-tempo jazz that Henderson had been playing in the 1920s came to be known as “swing”. Benny Goodman noted…Fletcher had one of the first great jazz swing bands in America and influenced any number of musicians in America.

Flectcher Henderson died in 1952.  His brother Horace, who led his own smaller band, went on to do arrangements for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and toured with Lena Horne at the height of her popularity. He continued to work with small bands until the 1970s.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --RANDOLPH COUNTY GA--, Cuthbert GA

Stovall-George-Woodward-Gregory House, 1908, Vienna

This landmark of the Neoclassical style was built by Dr. C. T. Stovall after “Whitehall”, his previous home at this location, burned. Stovall was Vienna’s primary physician for many years, in addition to serving as the city’s first treasurer and eventually alderman and mayor.

In 1914, he sold the home to Walter F. George, who was then serving as the Superior Court judge for the Cordele Circuit. George was elected to the United States Senate in 1922 where he would serve as one of its most influential members until shortly before his death in 1957. He sold the house in 1924.

Subsequent owners were the L. L. Woodward family, Georgia Supreme Court Associate Justice Hardy Gregory, Jr., and his nephew, Bert Gregory. Mr. Gregory graciously allowed me to photograph the house, which he is preparing for sale.

It’s been a wonderful showcase for Mr. Gregory’s numerous collections and served as his law office. The desk in this photograph came from the old Cordele depot.

A balcony affords nice views of Union Street.

A sun room over the porte cochere is an interesting feature.

It was added in the 1920s.

 

 

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --DOOLY COUNTY GA--, Vienna GA

Dedication of Morris Abram Mural, Fitzgerald

I was honored to be at the ceremony dedicating a mural to one of Fitzgerald’s most accomplished native sons, Morris Berthold Abram (19 June 1918-16 March 2000). Mr. Abram was an attorney and tireless civil rights advocate who notably argued the case before the Supreme Court that ended the county unit system in Georgia that gave rural votes equal value with urban votes. The system was a juggernaut which allowed discrimination at the voting booth and gave undue power to local political bosses. The decision essentially ended voter segregation by upholding the principle of “one man, one vote”. I remember very well that many people in my hometown didn’t have a great opinion of Abram for his “meddling” in local affairs, but as a teenager I read his autobiography, The Day is Short, and developed a great respect for the man. Among Abram’s numerous accomplishments: He was appointed first general counsel to the Peace Corps by President Kennedy and served on various commissions under four more presidents; president of the American Jewish Committee; president of Brandeis University; chairman of the United Negro College Fund. My friend Richard Owens fondly recalled: Morris was George H. W. Bush’s ambassador in Geneva when I started my UN job there in 1991. It was phenomenal to have a Ben Hill-Irwin connection to a man of such stature and courage. His dinner table was famous for encouraging often-spirited debates among people from very different backgrounds and perspectives.

Penson Kaminsky, a lifelong friend of my family and scion of  one of Fitzgerald’s oldest Jewish family’s, gave the invocation.

The dedication was done in conjunction with Georgia Cities Week and I must say that I was very proud of my hometown for the great job they did honoring Mr. Abram.

Fitzgerald mayor Jim Puckett presented a proclamation to Ruth Abram, daughter of Morris Abram, who was in Fitzgerald with her son, Noah Abram Teitelbaum. Ruth has been an advocate for numerous good causes and is quite accomplished in her own right. She conceived and directed the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, one of New York City’s most visited museums, and has been a tireless advocate for women’s history and scholarship. She’s also the author of Send Us a Lady Physician: Women Doctors in America 1835-1920. She recalled  her father’s time in Fitzgerald, and the challenges of a poor immigrant Jewish family in early-20th-century South Georgia. It was quite moving, with Noah giving voice to his grandfather’s words.

Noah Abram Teitelbaum and Ruth Abram unveiling the plaque detailing Morris Abram’s work and accomplishments.

I had a great time talking to mural artist Dylan Ross, whose work you may already know. Dylan has quickly become one of Georgia’s most sought after muralists.

Clark Stancil, of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, designed the mural using archival images.

 

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Dr. Robert A. Hingson House, Circa 1914, Ocilla

I was honored to know Dr. Hingson and his wife Gussie, through a family connection, and was truly awed by the man’s genius, even when I was a teenager. Gussie was a lifelong friend of an older cousin, and I have many letters and Christmas cards they exchanged over the years.

The New York Times noted in their obituary of Dr. Hingson in 1996: Robert Andrew Hingson [was] a pioneer in the field of public health who made important contributions to anesthesia for safer, easier childbirth and to mass immunizations with the ”jet” injection…[his] fame was assured well before this relief work. His invention of continuous caudal — posterior — anesthesia and perfection of lumbar epidural anesthesia to prevent pain in childbirth earned him worldwide recognition.

Both techniques are credited with reducing maternal and infant mortality around the world. Dr. Hingson began epidural and jet injections as a fledgling physician when he was the director of anesthesia at the United States Marine Hospital on Staten Island from 1941 to 1943.

His jet injector speeded mass inoculations against many diseases, without needles or syringes. Hundreds of people could be inoculated in an hour, making the injector a vital tool in eradicating small pox.

In 1962 Dr. Hingson led a team that immunized a million people against smallpox in Liberia. In 1967 his foundation vaccinated 846,000 people against smallpox in Costa Rica and immunized people there against epidemics of measles and polio…

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Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Ocilla GA