Jefferson, Georgia ~ 1956
News Around Jefferson . . .
T. T. Benton was elected President of the Jefferson Rotary Club. Mac Jackson moved out of Jefferson, so Benton was elected to serve out the remainder of his term. Mr. Benton was a charter member of the Jefferson Rotary Club.
At their Tuesday meeting on January 12, the Rotary had as their guests two Jefferson High school students that performed a marimba duet for the group.
Old-Age pensions declined slightly during the year. Down 4%. Monthly payments averaged $ 35.50.
The week of February 6 - 12 was Boy Scout week. It would mark the organizations forty-sixth anniversary.
Jefferson unit scout leaders were; Coach Carroll Bufford, Leon Beck, and Farris Gilbert. Junior Assistant Scout Patrol Leaders were; Franklin Gilbert and Jackie Scott. The Senior Patrol leader was Johnny Melvin. The Scribe was Ricky Thurmond. Unit Patrol members were; Dan Truluck, Don Truluck, Sammy Scott, Kenneth Mize, Billy Ray, Butch Porter, Paddy Williams, Raymond Otting, Henry Craig, Harrison McDonald, Ralph Kinsey, Douglas Beck, Damon Gause, Jerry sailors, Jeff Davis, Larry Brooks, Douglas Mize, Billy Patton, Arthur Addis, Dickie Storey and Chip Hardy.
On February 15, a city-wide cleanup, paint up, and fix it campaign was started in Jefferson. All organizations in town agreed to participate in the project. Mr. R. J. Kelly would serve as overall project chairman, Co-Chairmen of implementation were Bobby Bailey and Frary Elrod, Recognition chairman was Mrs. J. T. Stovall, Woodbine chairman was Morris Bryan. Representing the 4-H club was Tommy Elrod, the Boy scouts Franklin Gilbert, and the F.F.A. Gus Johnson. Johnny Melvin would represent the Teen Junction on the committee. City merchants had already agreed to sell paint, etc; for the project at reduced sales prices.
Ozark jubilee came to Jefferson High School Auditorium featuring Wanda Jackson and Bobby Lord. The fundraiser was sponsored by the Albert Gordon Post 56 American Legion.
Frary Elrod and Bobby Bailey appeared in Atlanta on the Mary Moore show on Channel 11 in Late February. Each week the show would feature a Georgia town that had historical significance. Pictures were shown of the Harrison Hotel, Jefferson Mills and the Crawford Long Museum. Mr. Bailey explained where the town was located the highway route to the city before concluding with a presentation on the advantages offered by Jefferson to new industry.
Drakes General Merchandise placed an ad in the Jackson Herald listing their many available products and services. Included were: televisions, radios, toys, freezers, washers, water pumps, hardware, paints, plumbing and electrical supplies, shoes, clothing, dry goods, groceries, variety and drug sundries, furniture, bathroom sets, Goodyear tires, regular gas at 27 cents gallon, premium gas at 29 cents gallon, and premium oil at 35 cents can.
In late March, demolition of the Harrison Hotel was begun. Plans were to replace it with a modern motel.
Plans were drawn to build a $ 250,000 Jefferson grammar school with 21 classrooms behind Jefferson High School.
In March the Dairy Kreem opened in Jefferson across from the fair grounds. Floyd Hoard was the proprietor.
Tom Bryan began his term as President of the Rotary Club.
In the March 14 Democratic Primary, R H. Griffin for Ordinary, Billy N. Elder for City and County Clerk of Courts, Roy Whitehead for Road and Revenue Commissioner, Mays J. Venable for Board member of Roads and Revenues, E. C. Stark for City Court Judge, and Nat Hancock for Solicitor of City Court ran unopposed for office. In voting races Sheriff John B. Brooks won re-election over W. A. Westmoreland, A. S. ( Cap ) Johnson won over J. Marvin Lavender in the Tax Collector race. Tax Receiver saw Mr. W. R. Glenn win over Mrs. O. O. Hood, the County school Superintendent race went to Frary Elrod over Daniel E. Cochran. For an open Board Menber slot on th Road and Revenue Commission W. R. Langford won over J. W. Healan and W. T. Boone. Tom Conn went back in as Coroner over Amory Williams.
In April, Buck Marlow announced that air conditioning was being installed in his cafeteria.
On April 26 in the herald, Buck Marlow placed an ad for a waitress in the help wanted section.
Friendly Foods opened in Commerce on April 25.
In May Roy Baliles was brought to the Jackson County prison farm this week by Roy Whitehead. Baliles was an escaped convict that was serving a life term for murder at the Franklin County Farm when he escaped in 1940. After his escape, he was reported to have lived a model life. He married and had two children. He was working as an overseer at a Gastonia North Carolina mill at the time of his capture. During the 15 year period of freedom. He even served two years in the armed services.
At a May 19 commission meeting a plan was approved by the city council for the improvement of the Central Business District of Jefferson. The improvement plan was to correct congestion around the square, double the parking capacity and provide a throughway for traffic. The plan was approved by the State Highway Department.
On June 18 a gunman shot and killed Jefferson businessman Charles Drake in his home on the Gainesville road. Mr. Drake was at home with his wife when the robbery and murder occurred.
The family of Charlie Drake contributed $ 1,000 to a Jefferson reward fund for the keller of the popular Jefferson merchant. Sheriff John B. Brooks contributed a $ 500 sheriffs reward and the Jefferson Board of commissioners contributed $ 500 for a total of $ 1,600.
Jack Davidson, A prominent Jefferson Attorney, announced in May he was running for the Solicitor General of the Piedmont District in the September primary.
The Reverend Clifford Huskey became minister of the Faith Baptist Church in Porterville. He was previously pastor of a church in Decatur, Alabama.
Mr. W. L. New, Jr. was named as the Manager of the new Commerce telephone office to be opened in Jefferson. It would serve Jefferson, Talmo, Pendergrass, Brockton and Braselton.
Jefferson mills celebrated its fortieth year in Jefferson with the announcement that a retirement and profit sharing plan was being implemented at the mill. It would become effective immediately for those with three years service. It provided a guaranteed income for life when an employee retired at the age of 65 or above.
Mid-June saw Bill Haley and his Comets come to Jefferson for two nights at the Roosevelt Theater in “Rock Around the Clock.” It played to overflow crowds on June 18 - 19.
On June 21 a special called meeting was held at Jefferson Mills. The occasion was to award service pins to those employees with at least five years of service. 351 individual employees received these pins. They were;
40 year of service ~ Alma Aaron ( Mrs. Aaron was in her forty-sixth year at Jefferson Mills), Charlie Brown, Myra Brown and Dallas H, Bond. 35 years of Service ~ Inez Blackwell and I. V. Davis. 30 years of service ~ Jess C. Anglin, R. S. Medlin, Birdie Jones, Myrtle Payne, J. E. Wilbanks, J. D. Turner, Myrtice Craig and Fannie Wilson ( Mrs. Wilson served as secretary to both Morris Bryan, Sr,. and Morris Bryan, Jr. ). 25 years of service ~ Dolphus Carithers, J. C. Craig, Hattie B. House, W. H. Duncan, John W. Lay, Nora Barnette, Willie P Simmons and John H. Varnum. 20 years of service ~ Annie Carithers, Viola Gasaway, Alton Smith, Mattie Roberts, David G. Stover, Charlie Tolbert, Ruth Colvard, Adell Tiller, Claiborn Harris, I. D. Samples, Jess C. Tolbert, Ruby Tolbert, Kate Jackson, Lucy Williams and H. L. Garrison. 15 years of service ~ Lila Gasaway, Ruby Owens, Ora W. Wilbanks, Florene Carlyle, Lewis Johnson, Roy Kinney, Ruth Mauldin, Arthur Wilson, Nors Sikes, Odell Jarrett, W. D. Strickland, Hollis Ray, A. J. Ricks, Jimmy Garrison, James H. Medlin, Lonnie Holmes, David C. Arnold, Bruce Sailors, Inez Lynn, B. J. Yarbrough, J. C. Blackwell, Effie Brookshire, G. A. Spratlin, Tommie Middlebrooks and U. H. English. 10 years of service ~ Tishie Barrett, Ed McDonald, Fleta Parks, Grace McClure, Roy J. Dowdy, Beatrice Carithers, Emily Oliver, Crawford Bailey, Wilson Wilbanks, Grover Shumake, Zelma Childs, Joe Sikes, J. C. Jackson, Brazie Jenkins, Riley A. Ivey, Emory Joe Davis, Walt T. Lynn, Odell Williams, Bernice Moon, Henry Grady Moon, Thomas Hancock, A. V. Lester, Hoyt Wofford, Omer Hayes, W. A. Taylor, Brit T. Jackson, J. D. Tolbert, Ray Wofford, Nathaniel Bailey, Joe Ed Tolbert, James F. Nix, Mae Bell Motes, L. C. Hall, Melba Samples, R. B. Martin, Paul McClain, Dora Mae Keanum, Lola Bell Payne, Mary Jane Brooks, Fred Bennett, Winnie Martin, Clyde Ward, Nell Williamson, Ray T. Williamson, Wilson R. Green, Grace R. Craig, Ernest Whitehead, James Bailey, Clarence Cotton, Margie Hayes, Lester Wood, Ellen Freeman, Lathan Banks, Sallie Mae Williamson, Guy Veal, C. L. Campbell, Hattie Simmons, Harvey G. Page, Sam Bond, Mary Fay Sargent, Maver C. Sargent, Clyde James, Morris Bryan, Jr., Henry Pope, Bruce Langford, Ernest Shumake and W. N. Carithers. 5 years of service ~ Mell Worley, Carl Colvard, William D. Nix, Hoke Loggins, David Duke, Fannie Whitlock, Lola Bell Yarbrough, S. F. Bryan, Carl V. Tatum, M. S. Morris, Johnnie Skelton, Lymon Frix, Lude W. Rives, James L. Brewer, Christine Loggins, Hulda Dill, W. O. Smith, Sam E. Worley, Idomie Bond, Chloe Huff, Will Allen, Julian Bryant, Hubert A. Pass, Thurmond Anglin, S. J. Bryant, Thelma Hollis, Royce Healan, Dean Dadisman, Davis L. Evans, Claud E. Worley, Hoyt Wilhite, Johnnie Lou Dixon, Vennie McDonald, Carl N. Howington, Eugene K. Wilson, Wilma Ward, Dayton Brown, Will E. Ervin, Henry Harbin, Narcy Ginn, Thomas R. Phillips, Maude Murphy, Clyde Arnold, Coy D. Hall, Otis Davenport, Harold Phillips, Floella Self, Lawrence McClure, Bonnie McCluster, Inez Standridge, Clarence Voyles, Emory Stancil, Leon Strickland, Gladys Payne, Paul King, Edd Davis, Paul Hogan, Mattie Voyles, John Ledford, William R. Duke, Comer Lee, Edward R. Roberts, Annie Whitmire, Thomas Martin, George Doris Childs, Nay Duke, J. W. Hunt, Toy Pruitt, Clyde Cobb, Willie A. Whitlock, Ben Wood, Roy Leon Beck, Beulah Lynn, Coetta Moon, George D. Collins, Margarett Spratlin, Bryan Satterfield, Rosena Scott, Essie Aaron, W. H. Duncan, Jr., Omer Whitmire, Louise Duke, Roy E. Meade, Sue Carithers, Ruby Brewer, Ernest Brown, Austin Whitlock, Mary Lou Holmes, Gertrude A. Jones, Carol Townes, Burns Nix, Willie Lou Wofford, Lewis R. Payne, Lonnie Carlyle, Kathleen Manus, Mazie Ann Griffith, Bob Freeman, Sara Skelton, Robert L. Loggins, Roy Lee Chandler, Dessie Wilbanks, John Rucker, J. B. Alexander, Ben Mitchell, R. V. Carlyle, Gordon Hogan, Horace Bryant, Reba Wood, Lester Harper, Bozanno Borders, Irene Hicks, Annie Green, Frank wood, Lois Whitlock, Pearl Booth, Farris Gilbert, Eva Veal, Pearl Wilson, Mary Ruth Manus, Fay Woodall, Mary Kinsey, Clozelle Wright, Tom Bryan, Charlie Hall, Lottie Presley, Escoe Crowe, Claudie Lynn, Boyd Smith, Madonna Mize, Jimmy Brewer, Howard McClure, Rena Mae Roberts, Ted Duke, Hillyer Johnson, W. M. Huntsinger, Gladys Brown, Edna Dalton, J. W. Skelton, Fannie L. Wood, Howard Cain, Billy Joe Self, Homer Doster, Richard Buck McDougal, C. W. Pardue, Gynelle Otting, Hoyt Chastine, James Nalley, Christine Dowdy, Edward Pritchett, Ada Nix Johnson, Garth L. Bryant, Mary W. Nalley, Jessie Phillips, Annie Sue Gilbert, James Clyde Doster, Decatur Adams, Reba W. Mathis, Olin L. Stewart, Cleo P. Pruitt, Carroll Bufford, Stewart J. Meade, Emma Ricks, Martha Meade and John W. Davis.
In August a book and a press release arrived at the Herald office that brought into light the whereabouts of former Jefferson Football coach red Yancey. The press release read;
William H. Yancey, director of athletics and teacher of history at the Flint-Dye High school in Flint, Michigan, is the author of” The Gate is Down: A Novel of the Alabama Hills.” It was published August 20 by Exposition Express of New York. ( Price $ 3.50 ).
Yancey is a former Athletic Director of Jefferson High school.
His story, set in the Alabama uplands, dramatizes the battle between two worlds; the conflict of a world outside the gap-gate and a world inside the gate. Here is a story pf progress pushing its way into a walled in community. It depicts a people caught in a web of the past fighting desperately to hold onto what they think is happiness.
In “The Gate is Down”, the gap-gate at the foot of the hills is the symbol of the isolation and separateness of the clannish people of the Ridge, a community in the Alabama hills, to which Scott Calderwood returns. He is the grandson of Uncle Lum, who is the leader of the Ridge people. The car that Scott drives is a symbol of his breaking away ~ first to college and then becoming a professor at the university.
Born in 1919 in Lacey, Alabama, Mr. Yancey is an honor graduate of Jacksonville ( Alabama ) State Teachers College. He majored in History.
Beginning his teaching career in 1939, Mr. Yancey earned his M. A. Degree from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn. He has since completed graduate work at Alabama and Michigan State University.
In addition to being an outstanding teacher of American History, Mr. Yancey has also acquired a high reputation as a football and track coach. He has been a high school teacher and coach in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri and Michigan.
The author is a member of the National Education Association, the Michigan Education association and the Flint Township Lions Club. “The Gate is Down’ is his first published novel.
Red Yancey was athletic director of Jefferson High school during the school years of 1950 - 51. His Dragon Football team lost only one game that year, following a record of more loses than wins in its first four years in the game.
Coach Yancey produced an outstanding basketball team, track team, and baseball team for both Jefferson High and in American Legion ball.
Recognized as one of the top high school coaches in the country Coach Yancey’s teams have produced 22 football wins against 5 losses the past two seasons. His wins on the basketball during this time shows 42 wins in 51 contests. Last year his Flint Football team won the Detroit Times State Championship honor.
The first and only Dragon football team coached Yancey played in the regional championship game against Greensboro, losing 20 - 13 in Commerce.
It is believe this was his first communication with anyone in Jefferson since he left Jefferson in late May of 1951.
Playing at the Roosevelt Theater on September 2 - 3 was “The Great Locomotive Chase” by Walt Disney starring Fess Parker, on 17 - 18 the presentation was; “The Searchers” with John Wayne and on 24 - 25 Debra Kerr and Yul Bryner Starred in “The King and I.”
Construction started in October on the new Jefferson Motel owned by Mrs. Morris Bryan, Sr. It was billed as one of the most modern designs in the country.
On Sunday October 10 an open house was held at the new Jefferson Post Office, located just below the courthouse. It was well attended.
In November the son of Hoyt Jackson, and younger brother of Steve and Roger “Hardrock” Jackson was diagnosed with infantile paralysis ( polio ).
It was the first case in Jackson during the year.
Morris Bryan, Jr. was named to the Sales Promotion Committee by the National Cotton Council. A prominent position among textile executives.
Mr. R. J. Marshburn, president of the Banks-Jackson-Commerce Hospital Authority announced that $ 223,000 in Federal Aid had been approved by the Federal Government for the hospital project. Senator Herman Talmadge sent a confirmation telegram to Mr. Marshburn on November 12.
Senior Superlatives were announced in late November; Miss. and Mr J. H. S. - Junan Davis and Johnny Melvin, Most Popular - Junan Davis and Johnny Melvin, Most Intellectual - Anne Dadisman and Charlie Gilbert, Most Likely to Succeed - Barbara Eberhardt and Donald Lord, Most Dependable - Lynda Hunter and Dean Brown, Most Athletic - Reba Ricks and Melvin Tolbert, Friendliest - Mary Ellen Wilhite and Johnny Davis, Neatest - Janet Armstrong and Don Truluck, Best Looking - Beverly Burch and Sewell Blackstock, Cutest - Judy Scott and Daniel Gasaway, Wittiest - Linda Meade and Norman Botelho.
Jefferson High school News . . .
Jefferson boys lost North Habersham 60 - 38. Wages had 20 points.
Jefferson boys lost to Cumming 66 - 40. Ricks had 12 points.
Jefferson Boys lost to Clayton 70 - 40. Wages led with 14 points.
Jefferson boys lost to Statham 60 - 35. Wages 13 points and Stewart 12.
Jefferson boys beat Commerce 57 - 44. Wages 27 points.
Jefferson boys lost to South Habersham 60 - 45. Ricks had 16 points.
Jefferson boys lost to Statham 45 - 38. Wages 11 points.
Jefferson boys beat Royston 55 - 44. Ricks 20 points.
Jefferson boys lost to Gainesville 66 - 36. Edwin McClure scored 13.
Jefferson boys lost to winder 60 - 31. Wages scored 11.
Jefferson boys lost to Cumming 71 - 49. Wages 23 points.
On February 1, the Jefferson varsity boys played the Jefferson Mills in a benefit game for the March of Dimes campaign. The mill team cruised to a 65 - 39 win. The game raised $ 1,200 for the charity.
Jefferson girls lost to North Habersham 50 - 36. Murphy 24, Ricks 11.
Jefferson girls lost to Cumming 46 - 29. Murphy 16, Ricks 9.
Jefferson girls beat Commerce 54 - 10. Murphy had 28 points.
Jefferson girls beat South Habersham 50 - 25. Murphy had 24 points.
Jefferson girls beat Statham 43 - 31. Murphy scored 26 points.
Jefferson girls beat Royston 45 - 32. Murphy 29, Davis 12, and Ricks 4.
Jefferson girls beat Gainesville 54 - 29. Junan Davis scored 22 points. Murphy 19.
Jefferson girls lost to Winder 49 - 43. Murphy scored 31 points.
Jefferson girls lost to Cumming 68 - 35. Murphy scored 18.
It was announced that for the fifth consecutive year the B and C boys District Tournament would be in Jefferson on February 13, 14, and 15. Teams from Class B were; Lyman Hall, Commerce, Banks County, Lawrenceville, and Jefferson. Jefferson had won the tournament the last four years.
The girls tournament would be in Commerce for the first time with the same schools participating as I the boys tourney.
Jefferson’s boys were beaten by Lawrenceville 73 - 59 to end their season. Commerce finished second to Lawrenceville to move on the the Regional playoffs where they were beaten South Habersham 61 - 48.
The region play-off for the boys would be in North Habersham, while the girls would be in South Habersham.
The Jefferson girls finished the season with an 11 - 7 record. They closed out their regular season with win over North Habersham 38 - 37 behind Junan Davis’ 18 points. Davis also led the team in their win over Braselton 48 - 29 with 26 points. For the season Lillie Murphy had scored 365 points for an average of 20.8 points per game. Junan Davis had scored 112 points, averaging 11.1 points per game while Reba Ricks closed out the year with 123 points and an 7.0 points per game average.
For the boys Wayne Wages scored 288 points for the 3 - 16 Dragons. This was an average of 16.0 points per game. Billy Ricks averaged 7.0 per game and Lewis Gailey averaged 6.8 points per game.
The Jefferson Spring football “J Day” game was a lopsided battle with the 1956 “Blue” team winning easily 36 - 0. Touchdowns were scored by Ricks and Tompkins on short rushes, a Tompkins pass to Gary Duke for 45 yards, a Ricks pass to Tompkins for 9 yards and a dazzling 90-yard run for a score by Monk Tolbert.
In the first track meet for the Dragons, Bobby Potter ran a record mile of 5:11.2 breaking the old region record by 1.8 seconds. Jefferson won the tri-meet with Stephens County and Gainesville scoring 66 points to 55 for Stephens and 15 for Gainesville.
The Dragons won the ninth district tack title for the third time in four years with 38 points. Lewis Gailey won the 880 yard run in 2:13 seconds. Billy Ricks won the Broad Jump with 18’7” and Potter won the mile with a region record of 5:1.5 seconds. The Jefferson team won the 440 relay with Monk Tolbert, Ricks, Wendell Finch and Benny Tompkins but were disqualified when a Jefferson fan ran onto the track early to congratulate the Jefferson runner.
The Jefferson Baseball team lost only one game during the season. A 12 - 6 loss to Buford. They defeated them in a return game 8 - 2. They closed out the season with three strong wins over Commerce 6 - 4, over Maysville 27 - 1, and over Winder 6 - 3. They would meet Buford in a region playoff game and fall 7 - 3 to close out their season.
1956 baseball team; Wayne Wages, Daniel Gasaway, Milton Arnold, Melvin Tolbert, Edwin McClure, John Kesler, Benny Tompkins, Lewis Gaily, Gary Duke, Al Venable, Charlie Gilbert, Ronald Ferguson, Billy Ricks, Omer Whitmire, Wendell Finch, Jerry “Ace” Adams and Johnny Melvin.
On April 19, 65 seniors left on their senior trip to Washington D. C.
In August there was a record enrollment at Jefferson with over 1,000 students registering for classes. The third grade had 113 students, sixth grade ~ 110, eight grade ~ 142, ninth grade ~ 129 and the senior class ~ 55.
Jefferson Band Day was October 16. Members of the Jefferson Dragon Band were; Valerie Jones, Brenda Nabors, Libby Voyles, Mildred Bond, Mary Woodall, Henry Fite, Danny Allen, Ola Freeman, James Wilkes, James Brewer, Tommy Elrod, Larry Strickland, Mays Venable, Bevo Shropshire, Mary Ellen Wilhite, Becky Purcell, Sara Freeman, Norman Botello, Ricky Thurman, Johnny Melvin, Mercier Davis, Mary Davis, Jane Melvin, Lamar Purcell, Walter Tonge, Margaret Hancock, Jean Jackson, Sandra Strickland, Glenda Gee, Harrison McDonald, Douglas Legg, Diane Park, Mary Ruth Hicke, Jane Jones, Jean Jones, Carol Duke, Johnny Davis, Gloria Spence, Paddy Williams, Anna Bolton, Betty McClure, Kay Simmons, Judy whitmire, Sara Massey, Julia Stovall and Band Director Guy Butler.
The Jefferson basketball girls were much improved for the previous year as Reba Ricks and Junan Davis returned at the forward slot. The girls won their first four games.
Other Sports and Activities News . . .
On January 6, the Hazel walker All-Stars came to Jefferson to play the Jefferson Mills basketball team.
In the Jefferson Recreational League the Mill team continued their domination. Early wins over the Royal Ambassadors of the Talmo Community 34 - 32 and a 61 - 32 dismantling of the Jackson Trail Sneakers gave them a quick league lead at 2 - 0. John Godfrey, Charlie Cox and the rest of the Mill firepower continued to roll. The Ambassadors were led by Glenn Martin, Kinney Gee, Wayne Kinney and Ray Evans. The Arcade Blue Devils had arrived on the scene with Johnny Parr and Dean Brown providing the bulk of their scoring.
In Recreation League basketball the Jefferson Mill went to 3 - 0 with an 85 - 25 stomping of he Globe Trotters. Charlie Middlebrooks scored 24 points to lead the mill team.
The Royal Ambassadors of Talmo sent the Arcade Blue Devils to their first loss 41 - 35. Glen Martin led the Ambassadors with 18 points while Johnny Parr scored 16 for the Blue Devils.
In the Saturday morning league the Wildcats pounded the Yellow Jackets 50 - 18. The five starters for the Wildcats were Dugar Strickland, James Wood, Brian Duke, Jerry Middlebrooks and Larry wood. All were capable scorers.
For the Yellow Jackets Ralph Kinsey scored 10 points.
The following week the Tigers would destroy the Yellow Jackets 40 - 5 as Jeff Davis scored 20 points. The wildcats won by Forfeit to go to a perfect 4 - 0 in the league.
The Jefferson Giants, Jefferson’s local colored team, officially joined the Branch Rickey League with the Athens Cardinals, the Highland Stars, the Gainesville Lions, the Rockdale Eagles, the College Park Rams, the East Point Bears, the Campanella All-Stars, and the Jackie Robinson Dodgers. Mayor Tom Crow would throw out the first ball on Saturday night May 21, as the Atlanta Highlands came to Jefferson. The Giants won that first game 15 - 8. John Burns had 2 hits in 2 at bats and scored four runs for the Giants. Carithers, Bailey, Walker and Cox also had two hits as the Giants pounded out 14 safties in support of the pitching of Tommy Ross.
The Jefferson Junior League summer program kicked off with four teams in the “Major Division.” These teams and rosters were;
Tigers; Daniel Gasaway, Don Tompkins, Ed Childers, Jerry Middlebrooks, Douglas Hunter, Bobby Clark, Tommy Carithers, H. C. Fawcette, Sammy Scott, Ralph Kinsey, Kenneth Manus, Nickie Peppers and Verlin Fowler.
Mohawks; Gary Duke, Larry Wood, Larry Bulloch, Jeff Davis, Brian Duke, Aubrey Venable, Steve Jackson, Billy Crow, Johnny Nix, Douglas Tatum, Hillyer Duke, Henry Craig and Donald Jackson.
Braves; Milton Arnold, Ronald Woodall, Herbert Wilson, Jack Wilson, Dugar Strickland, John Kesler, Dickie Fleeman, Billy Ray, Billy Simmons, Steve Collier, Donald Weir, Jerry Elder, and Ralph Healan.
Wildcats; Charlie Gilbert, Bobby Crumbly, Larry Brooks, James Wood, James Aaron, Mays Venable, Tom Venable, Donald McEver, Jimmy Pruitt, Ronald Wood, Buddy Tolbert, Bobby Veal and John Lavender.
After three games the Tigers were unbeaten. Daniel Gasaway led the league in hitting with 18 hits in 32 at bats for an average of .563. Herbert Wilson was hitting .444 with 12 hits in 27 at bats. Gasaway and Buddy Tolbert each had two home runs in the three games.
After 6 games or halfway through the season, the Wildcats led the league with a 4 - 2 record. The Tigers and Mohawks were both 3 - 3.
The leading hitters were still Gasaway and Wilson hitting .587 and .538.
Jefferson Day Camp was slated to start on June 15.
The Jefferson Mill Baseball team had as members; Carroll Bufford, Billy Ricks, Dan Pitts, Dan Hutchins, Charlie Cox, Wayne Wages, Luther Wilkes, J. T. Wilkes, Locke Potts, Davis Roberts, Bennie Tompkins, Bucky Johnson, Charles Middlebrooks, Louis Gaily, Nelson Tolbert, Jimmy McMullan, Thomas McMullan and Jack Howington.
The new one-hole golf course built for Jefferson Day Camp was completed behind the home of Morris Bryan, Jr. He was the Instructor of the golf class with assistance by Gary Duke in the 1956 Day Camp. Morris Bryan like in most of his endeavors was an excellent golfer.
The 1956-57 Jefferson Mill basketball team consisted of; Bucky Johnson, Davis Roberts, Curtis Segars, Charles Middlebrooks, Morris Dinwiddie, Charlie Cox, Harold Garrett, John Godfrey, Wayne Wages, Hershel Middlebrooks and Carroll Bufford.
How good was Oklahoma in 1956? The Sooners were good enough to hand Texas its worst beating (45–0) since 1908, pound Notre Dame 40–0 in South Bend, and beat up on the membership of the Big Seven by an average score of 49–8. They also extended their winning streak to an all-time record 40 games over four seasons.
How good a coach was Bud Wilkinson? In just 10 years at Oklahoma, Wilkinson had a record of 94–8–3, a winning percentage of .910, and three national championships.
The players were pretty good, too. Clendon Thomas led the nation in scoring with 18 touchdowns, while halfback Tommy McDonald and center Jerry Tubbs placed third and fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Speaking of the Heisman, for the first time in 21 years the award went to a player on a losing team—quarterback Paul Hornung of 2–8 Notre Dame. Hornung edged Tennessee halfback Johnny Majors by 72 points. Jim Brown of Syracuse came in fifth.
Majors led No.2 Tennessee to an SEC title and unbeaten regular season. He didn't win the Heisman, but the Vols' Bowden Wyatt was named Coach of the Year. Unfortunately, Tennessee lost its perfect record in the Sugar Bowl, bowing to Baylor, 13–7.
The Drake Murder Case ~ 1956
As a child growing up in Jefferson, I was privileged to know many of the town shakers and movers. Men like Morris Bryan, Joe Baxter, Marshall Melvin, Bobby Bailey, J. T. Stovall and many more. One man that will always stand out in my mind was Charlie Drake.
Since I was old enough to remember I had known Charlie Drake. My grandmother would get groceries from the Drake General Store about a mile and a half from our Porterville home. This was a ritual that I was a part of about once a week between my ages of eight to eleven. Most of my Christmas presents would come from the Drake store. My first BB gun, a toy fort complete with cowboys and Indians, and the blue jeans and shoes I wore to school every day, all came from the Drake store.
I can remember in exact detail hearing my grandmother talk bout Mr. Drake battling a case of Yellow Jaundice sometime around the summer of 1954. She said it would turn your skin yellow. On my next trip to the Drake store I made sure I sauntered down to the Auto Service and gas fill-up section of the huge general store to see if I was hearing her right. I really looked him over closely, but either he didn’t turn yellow or I was to late to see the symptom, as he was just as normal looking as any other man. On my trips to Drake’s I would usually set on a bench behind the gas tanks and watch as the cars came and went. Mr. Drake, on many occasions would do the fill-ups. Sometimes it was one of his service attendants from inside the auto service department.
I don’t remember him calling me by my name during the entire time I knew him. He had a terrible time remembering my name so he would call me “Little Hoyt or just ”Hoyt.” He had known my Dad since he was a kid.
June 19, 1956 was a hot, muggy day that reached the upper 80s. I don’t remember what I did that particular day but I can assume it was probably hang around the Bennett house, walk through the McGinnis woods or play baseball or softball with the Pruitt boys, Neal Massey, or some of the other neighborhood kids. I don’t think there was a day that went by when we didn’t play some kind of baseball or softball game.
I can recall clearly when my aunt Nell Williamson entered the front door and asked my grandmother if she had heard the news about Charlie Drake. She quickly went on to explain that Mr. Drake had been shot and killed during a robbery attempt at the Drake home sometime around 9 to 10 o’clock the previous night.
Later that day when my uncle Monroe came in from his job at Jefferson Mills he went over pretty much all the details as he had heard them at work that day.
Almost immediately a manhunt like had never been seen in Jefferson or Jackson was underway. Rewards were posted by the Drake family, the Sheriffs office and Jackson County totaling $ 1600. Charlie Drake was one of Jefferson’s most prominent citizens. He was a former post-master and probably its most well known merchant at the time of the robbery. He was known by many to carry a roll of $ 5000 in his shirt pocket almost every day while on the job. I always heard it was money he had been left by his father to take care of his mother. Some people said he carried the money as a reminder that he had managed that without having to use his inheritance. When the robber completed his work that night he apparently failed to look in that shirt pocket, as the $ 5000 was found by the authorities in its entirety that night. It was believed the intruder had left the Drake house empty-handed.
On August 7, 1956, Mr. James Horace Wood, who had just opened a new law practice in Commerce, Georgia received a phone call from visiting judge, The Honorable Mack Hicks, from Rome. Georgia. A suspect was going to be charged in the Drake case. The judge assigned Mr. Wood and a young Jefferson attorney, Floyd Hoard, to represent the accused. It was to become one of the monumental cases in the history of the State of Georgia and gain national notoriety as a case of criminal injustice.
The defendant in the case was an itinerate house painter from Florida. He was originally from South Carolina, but had abandoned his family several years earlier, went to Florida where he eventually served time for Burglary. After an initial interview with James Fulton Foster, both Wood and Hoard believed there was strong evidence to prove the innocence of their new client. An amazing investigation was launched by the attorneys that almost drove them to bankruptcy and business failure. They had to deal with a community that was so caught up in their moment of grief that they threw both compassion and common sense out the door.
On August 13, 1956 the trial began in the Jefferson Courthouse. Jurors were; Mr. J. B. Chandler, Coy Short, Gilmer Martin, Otis Lacey, William Howard Sutton, Lauren McDonald, George Doss, J. M. Armstrong, Hoke Arthur, Ralph Evans, T Aubrey Benton and Emory H. Arnold. Judge J. Julian Bennett presided. It was his first case. The prosecution team consisted of Solicitor General Hope Stark and the Drake family attorneys, Henry Davis, Jack Davidson and Tom Davis. Attorneys Wood and Hoard would represent the defendant.
Dr. J. T. Stovall was the first witness called by the state and the trial was underway. The second prosecution witness was Dr. J. K. Adams. Later Hoyt Jackson, GBI Agents Fred Culberson and Louis Hightower, Mrs. Drake and an Athens county prisoner, J. C. Dameron, who proved to be a controversial and ineffective prosecution witness, when claiming Foster had ‘confessed” the murders to him in an Athens jail cell.
The defense team call a multitude of witnesses that seemed to counter weigh the prosecution in every turn, but the testimony was abused and countermanded by prosecution objections and usually sustained by the court. It was evident early on that the court was leaning more to having the defense team prove their client innocent rather that the court having to prove the defendant was guilty. Indeed, it appeared that most of the county felt they had the killer of Charles Drake in Custody. My dad was working at Harmony Grove Mill in Commerce. He would come in around 6:30 a.m., get several hours sleep and walk to the courthouse. When the noon lunch recess came and many observers left their seat in the 300 seat courthouse, a new observer would jump into the vacated seat. My father saw most of the trial and even stayed for the night sessions that sometimes ran until almost 11:00 p.m.
During the defense closing statement by Foster he asked the court for permission to remove his shirt, looked directly at Mrs. Drake and said, “you testified it would take a strong man to overcome your 200 pound, over six-foot tall husband. Do I look like I’m strong enough or big enough to overcome a man that size?” Foster concluded his statement with a prayer and the judge completed his charge to the jury. At 2:30 p.m. the following day, on Saturday August 18, the jury came back in with their verdict.
The visual identification of Mrs. Drake was the motivating factor in the jury finding James Fulton Foster guilty of murder without a recommendation of mercy. Judge Bennett sentenced James Fulton Foster to be put to death between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on September 17 at Reidsville State Prison.
Immediately after the verdict, James Horace Wood sought out Judge Bennett and asked to be relieved of his court appointed obligation to the Foster case. Judge Bennett agreed to this. For Wood and Hoard the battle had just begun.
In just two days after the guilty verdict, Roy Woodall, an employee at Jefferson Mills, and Tip Wilson of Commerce and Harmony Grove Mills, called Attorney Wood and stated their desire to start a Foster Defense Fund.
They set up a meeting at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in Commerce and outlined their plan before an estimated 85 Jackson County citizens. Many in attendance were not convinced of Foster’s innocence, but they were convinced that he did not receive a fair trial. By the end of September
$ 2059.88 was in the fund to use in the effort to get Foster a new trial.
Meanwhile the Honorable J. Julian Bennett was up for re-election as judge. He had been appointed shortly before the Foster case, with his appointment slated to run through December 31, 1956. The polls closed with Judge Bennett being soundly defeated by Maylon. B. Clinkscales. In the Minnish-Commerce district Judge Bennett had received only 18 votes out of 2700 cast. He immediately resigned his post and Judge Clinkscales took office.
Solicitor General Hope Stark, after serving 20 years, did not seek re-election. Alfred A. Quillian was named to this post. Floyd Hoard was appointed County Attorney due to the on-going illness of George Westmoreland, his father-in-law.
A tense situation developed when Wood visited Foster at the Gainesville jail where he was being held while awaiting the results of a new trial petition.
Foster told Wood that Hoard had visited earlier in the week and asked him if he wanted to plead guilty during the second trial. Hoard told him it would very likely be to his advantage to do so. Wood was livid. As lead attorney in the case he had the authority to replace Hoard if he so desired. The next morning when he met with Hoard that was his intention. Hoard did not deny that he had asked Foster to consider a guilty plea bargain for a life sentence. Wood asked, “how can you justify asking that boy to plead guilty to a murder when he is innocent?” Hoard fired back, “I feel it’s the only way to save his life. As long as you have Mrs. Drake sitting in that chair and pointing out Foster as the man who killed her husband, he is going to be found guilty.” Wood thought for a moment on his words and asked, “do you think he is guilty?”
“No, replied Hoard, I don’t think he’s guilty, but I can’t think of any other way to save his life.”
Wood nodded his head slowly from side to side and said, “Pleading guilty to a murder he did not commit is not the way to resolve this. We have to keep hoping and pushing until we find that miracle that will swing this thing our way. It’s out there and we have to find it.”
Hoard was proven right. When Mrs. Drake again pointed at Foster as the man that killed her husband that hot, July night in 1956, it was all over.
That new trial was held in late May of 1958. James Fulton Foster was sentenced to the electric chair for the second time. Judge Carlyle Cobb set the date as June 21. Foster had 21 days to live.
Another appeal set aside the death sentence for six months, but there was not any movement as to locating a viable suspect for the Drake murder as the months moved by.
On October 16, 1957, the first break that brought about when a prisoner named Lonnie Neal brought up the name of Charles ( Rocky ) Rothschild. His girlfriend Mavis Smith backed up his story. He claimed that Rothschild had bragged to him on at least four occasions that he killed a Georgia man. He had also mentioned that Georgia had a man convicted for the killing. While never mentioning the name of Charles Drake, Neal was sure it was the same case.
Rothschild was questioned about the case and denied any involvement. The evidence began to build against the former Illinois policeman when another informer, Jett Allen Smith came forward with information that Rothschild had been in the Commerce area around the time of the attempted robbery.
A .357 Magnum formerly belonging to Rothschild was identified as the murder weapon and other evidence was quickly becoming credible. On June 16, Rothschild pled guilty to robbing the Dobson cotton gin in Lavonia, Georgia. He was sentenced to five years in prison. Then it happened;
On July 4, 1958, Charles Paul Rothschild signed a full confession at Columbia, South Carolina, in the presence of J. P. Strom, Chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; Captain Jack Fowler of the Sheriff’s Department of Spartenburg, South Carolina; B. B. Bockman, Sheriff of Spartenburg, South Carolina; Agent B. S. Moss, South Carolins Enfrocement Division; and John B. Brooks, Sheriff of Jackson County, Georgia. admitting the killing of Charles H. Drake. In the confession he implicated a well-known Commerce boot-legger, A.D. Allen as his accomplice. He claimed that Allen planned the robbery, drove him to the scene of the crime and picked him up afterwards.
On July 8, 1958, Rothschild was brought to Jefferson to re-enact the slaying of Charlie Drake.
Rothschild and Foster met for the first time on this date in front of the Jefferson court house. Afterward, Rothschild took officers to where he had discarded the clothes he had worn on the night of the murder. He claimed to have thrown the murder weapon off the Gunion Bridge over Sells Creek. The weapon he described was never found.
At the Drake house he met Mrs. Drake, apologized for his acts and asked for her forgiveness. Mrs. Drake left the room quickly, weeping.
On July 19, 1958, in a hearing before Judge Cobb, Foster was granted a new trial. The county wanted to just drop the charges and move on from there. Attorney Wood was not receptive to this suggestion. He wanted a trial by jury to assure this was the closing of the two year ordeal.
On August 5, 1958, Rothschild and A. D. Allen were indicted for the murder of Charles Drake. On August 11, the trial for Allen began. After twenty-two hours of deliberations on August 14, A. D. Allen was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
In August of 1959, Allen was granted a new trial when it was held that there was insufficient evidence to link Allen with the crime and that the jury had been inadequately attended by bailiffs at its place of lodging to prevent outside contact.
Rothschild was convicted and sentenced to serve at least fifteen years of a life sentence before parole eligibility.
In 1959, Rothschild repudiated his confession. He backed off his claim that Allen was his accomplice. This resulted in all charges being dropped against the Commerce defendant.
The Foster trial was Held shortly after the Rothschild and Allen sentencing.
On September 12, James Fulton Foster was found “not Guilty.” The hastily formed jury never even left the jury box. James Fulton Foster was free ~ physically and legally.
In 1959, Attorney Wood prepared a resolution calling for the State of Georgia to compensate Foster for the two years he had spent in jail while falsely accused. The lower house approved a $ 2500 payment that was not approved by the Senate. Foster did not receive a dime for all his agony.
James Fulton Foster returned to his family in Greer, South Carolina. He told his story at numerous churches around the state and in Georgia. He came across as sincere, dynamic and convincing.
While I was not as emotionally caught up in the Foster proceeding as my family and older friends around Jefferson, I was able to form my own opinions as I read about the ordeal.
My father, Uncles’ Monroe, Robert and my grandmother felt from the first few days of the trial that Foster was innocent. Uncle Monroe contributed to the Foster Defense fund. My dad sat in on much of the trial and I heard him constantly say, “they’ll never convict that man based on what I’m hearing in that courthouse.”
I, of course, believe Foster was innocent. While I’m convinced that Mrs. Drake honestly felt she was identifying the right man, it was somewhat obvious that her identification alone should not have sentenced a man to death. I once heard my grandmother say, “I know God has a reason for this, but I can’t see any reason for putting a woman through what she ( Mrs. Drake ) has been through.”
My family continued to purchase our groceries and other items from the Drake General Store. Mrs. Drake would be in the store several hours each day, but she always looked tired and worn out.
One thing I picked up on even at my young age. When Charlie Drake died that night, a big part of Mrs. Drake died with him. I don’t think I ever saw her smile again. I’m sure she probably did smile from time to time, I just never saw it.
When her son-in-law, Joe Davis finally took over the business, it relieved much of her working burden and she became less and less visible in the community.
Now when I drive by that Drake house on the Gainesville road I think back to that night and the pain and misery it caused so many Jefferson citizens.
I want to encourage all Jefferson citizens to read the book, “Nothing but the Truth,” by Judge James Horace Wood as told to John M. Ross published in 1960. It is an extraordinary account of the Drake murder case.
I would meet Judge J. Horace wood when working in shipping with Wayne Poultry in Pendergrass in the early 70s. He had two beautiful German Shepard dogs. He came to the plant to purchase chicken necks. He always bought two 80-pound boxes at five cents per pound. He said he cooked them for his dogs and they loved them. One day, while he was waiting for his product to be loaded into his car boot, I asked him if he still heard from James Foster. He smiled as he said, “Every August I get a card from him. It always reads, Doing well. Thank you! James.” I guess that pretty well said it all.
During my lifetime I have only three people that I personally know have in my mind earned a lifetime of respect and admiration. Those three people are Morris Bryan, III, Frank Perdue, and Judge James Horace Wood.
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