JEFFERSON BICENTENNIAL NEWS
JEFFERSON BICENTENNIALNEWS 1806-2006
Jefferson, GA, Friday, January 12, 2007
NEW CITY IN JACKSON COUNTY
By McKay Dickens and Patrick Martin
On November 24, 1806 Jefferson, Georgia was founded. Jefferson was originally part of Franklin County. The founders of Jefferson chose to make a town here because it was a good place to farm. The people in Jefferson named it Jefferson after Thomas Jefferson. The Indians called Jefferson “Thomocoggan”. At various times it was called “Jackson Court House,” “Jeffersonville,” and “Jeffersonton.” Jefferson was selected as the county seat by three pioneers named George Wilson, James Pittman, and Josiah Early. Early businesses were dry goods stores, millinery shops, taverns, pressing clubs, a buggy dealer and movie theaters. In 1902, many buildings in the Jefferson square were burned and replaced with brick and glass-front modern stores. In 1909, tile block sidewalks were placed in front of the brick stores on the northeast side of the public square at a cost of $2,250. Today in downtown Jefferson there are restaurants drug stores and many more. There is Crawford W. Long museum, a coffee shop, and a sports shop. So as you can see there used to be barely any stores and buildings in Jefferson but over time we have created an awesome community!
EARLY SETTLERS FORM COMMUNITY
By Gabbie McMillan and Laura Miles
What is a community? A community is a group of people who come together to live, and share responsibilities. Jackson County has many communities--in fact over 62!!! There is one special community, and it has just had a Bicentennial. This community is called Jefferson.
Jefferson, the first community established has had many different ways of life. The first people, the pioneers, are the people who made it all happen so their ways seem to be the most important. Two hundred years ago, pioneers came to Jackson County looking for a place to live. Some probably thought that Jackson County was too crowded. Jefferson was established in 1806.
The early settlers built log cabins for homes. Chimneys were made from rocks, as well as the fireplaces. Mud was a fill-in for a hole or a crack. Some even became friends with certain Indians. The most modest houses grew corn, wheat, and vegetables. Almost everyone raised geese and ducks for down bedding. Land amount ranged from 230 acres to 4600 acres.
Jefferson’s community has grown a lot since it started. It is much bigger than it was and has improved by technology. Two hundred years ago there were only 67 people living in Jefferson. Now there are too many people to count. Jefferson hasn’t changed everything. When the community was first established, it became a very well known chicken producer. Jefferson is still a major chicken producer.
That covers most of the past two hundred years and we hope you celebrated Jefferson’s bicentennial.
ASHES OVER JACKSON
By Morgan McKinney
Did you know that during several months of the year of 1783 there was a volcanic eruption in Iceland which sent dust particles across Europe and North America? The sun’s rays were bouncing off the Earth. It might have seemed like just a fog, but the fog was so thick that it was very dark and dry. Ben Franklin said, “Hence that air was more chilled, and the winds more severely cold.” Someone once described this moment, “As having the appearance of the moon seen through a dense fog.” A good bit of wild animals were scared and brave pioneers wouldn’t come out all day. Indians all came to the holy ground at Yamacuta, a place in Jackson County near present day Jefferson. They sat in a circle all day and night. The next morning the sun arose and the Indians walked the paths in the holy ground in a ceremonious way. This was the last ceremony held by Indians at Yamacuta.
FLAMES DESTROY MARTIN INSTITUTE
By: Caleb King and River Bryant
Did you know that the Martin Institute a school in Jefferson was burned to the ground two times? There was not a record of confession of the first fire in the October of 1883. In 1886 after the first fire the new Martin Institute was rebuilt. It was a 2 story brick building at the cost 15,000 dollars. In January 13, 1942, the school was burned to the ground again; supposedly it was the son of the police chief of Jefferson at that time. He had set fire to the Martin Institute to avoid going to school. We talked to Mr. Purcell a former student at Martin Institute. He said, "I was standing there when it burned to the ground." He also said, "There was a long and proud history at Martin Institute.’’ After the second time the town did not try to rebuild but started what is now the Jefferson High School. There was no record of anyone getting hurt. They did not rebuild the Martin Institute because of the expense.
JEFFERSON UP IN FLAMES
By Monica Porras
Did you realize that there had been many fires in Jefferson? On August 1933, 600 bales of cotton caught on fire. Those bales of cotton belonged to Jefferson Mills. Today we still don’t know who or what started the fire. Another fire that happened was in November 1938 in downtown Jefferson. The fire burned down several stores and was so big it was visible from Athens. Some of the stores that caught fire were Gurley Dry Cleaning Plant, Joe Baxter Grocery Store, Kesler And Legg’s 5 And 10 Cent Store, and the C.E . Robinson Store. The fire affected many people including the employees and the owners of the stores.
ATHLETICISM: TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE
By Hu Blackstock and Tyler Waits
Jefferson’s sports are important to the culture of the city. Sports in Jefferson began in times before anyone remembers. The first sports in Jefferson were played by the Indians. The game was called Stickball and it is played similar to the modern sport of Lacrosse. Stickball would be played with as may as 500 people and two goals.
During the early part of the 1900’s there was a semi-pro baseball team located in Harmony Grove, modern day Commerce. Players on the team would earn around 20 dollars per game (more if they were a star player) and would also have a job at the Jefferson Cotton Mill. The team would challenge teams from all parts of northeast Georgia. There are no famous baseball players for Jefferson, but Clara Meritt, a woman who once lived in Jefferson, married one of the most famous baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth. An author named Allene Porter called baseball, "a major Fourth of July event."
During the summer of 1974, Jefferson became host to the State High School Track Meet. The track meet brings hundreds of athletes to Jefferson each year. The track meet consists of athletes from schools of all sizes, A thought AAAA. The Jefferson track team has won state championships in 1959, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1983, and 2004.
The Jefferson Dragon football team began back in 1947. During the early years the Dragons where known as the "Mud Turtles" until the name was changed to the "Dragons" in 1949. That year the Mud Turtles won no games and were scoreless until the final game of the season. During the 1961 the modern stadium, Memorial Stadium, was constructed and the first game was held there in 1962.
In Jefferson the greatest sporting event is the Jefferson vs. Commerce football game. The rivalry dates back to the 1950’s when Jefferson first started their football team. When asked about the game Jack Purcell said, "Football was the sport they played that we didn’t." The first Jefferson win was in 1955 and the most recent victory was in 1995. The game is not only famous on the field but also for the painting of the bridge over North Oconee. All year players come to see who can be the last to paint the bridge. The only problem with painting the bridge is that it is against the law and if you’re caught you will be sent to jail. In Jefferson the richest sport is wrestling with state championships in 1983, 1984, 1989, 1995, and 2001-2006.
WINNER TAKES ALL:
STICKBALL IN JEFFERSON
By Cara Smith and Hannah Rigsby
In 1750, Indians such as the Cherokees and the Creeks played a game called Stickball which was similar to the game today known as Lacrosse. All of the Indians’ territory was divided between the Creeks and Cherokees. A tradition for the Indians was to play stickball to decide who gets certain land. Proof of this, was a letter that was written to the president Andrew Jackson that explained that the possession of their land was decided by playing a ballgame. The ballgame was like a battle. It was as violent as wars and battles that the Creeks and Cherokees had.
Shown here are some rackets played in stickball by a group of Indians.
The game of Stickball was simple. All they did was catch a ball with the racket, and run to the goal. The Indians played it with a ball made of animal skins. The racket had a hoop in it and was like a basket. There were usually about 500 players. The game was played to settle arguments between tribes. Stickball was very dangerous. When a game was over, some players would leave with cuts, bruises, and broken bones. The last stickball game occurred in 1918.
INDUSTRY CHANGES JEFFERSON
By Summer Busbee
Jackson County was a sleepy, rural county that experiment some good things. Jefferson Mills is one of the major fabric businesses. The work was cut back and the old plant was closed until a Swiss firm purchased the plant. Commerce and Jefferson were known as the "mill towns." The mills owned homes and opened stores in the town. It was difficult between private and public interests because the towns were tightly put together of the community. Jackson County begged for new investments and growth, but somehow wanted less change and growth. Only three new industries were in Jackson. Then later on they had seven new industries. The opening of Mitsubishi in Braselton and the move by Pattillo Construction to develop the Walnut Fork Industrial Park were the biggest investments in Jackson County. It was a great boost for Jackson when Mitsubishi opened. In December 1987 the Construction first began building the Walnut Fork Industrial Park and it proved to be a gold mine for the town. Braselton Poultry told of the plans to join together its Gainesville and Braselton plant. Another big thing was when Mayfield Dairies opened a large milk processing plant in town. Tanger Factory Outlet put a second outlet mall in the Banks Crossing area. A $ 2.4 million investment and other towns soon followed. This was a huge step for our community. They also reopened the closed SCT plant in Jefferson and Shoffner Industries relocated a truss manufacturing company where the old Ryan Homes had closed earlier. Jefferson has grown with all the new people and companies wonder how much more we’ll grow in the next year.
By John Santiago
In the early 1900s, people depended on crops. The most effective crop was cotton. Cotton was being grown more quickly than earlier years because of the new machinery. Cotton is used in many ways. The most important part of the cotton plant is the fiber or lint. Cotton fibers are usually used for clothing, in fact more than half of the cotton grown in the United States is used for clothing. Cotton is good for making clothing because in the summer it keeps you cool and in the winter it keeps you warm. This happens because the fibers move the moisture away from the wearer’s skin. 29 percent is used in household items such as towels and washcloths. 12 percent is used for industrial goods.
Most cotton was grown in the southern states such as Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Alabama. In Georgia farmers harvest 443,000 tons of cotton in 2006. Also, a lot of that cotton was grown right here in Jackson County. In fact, many towns in Jackson County were thriving because of cotton production. The towns of Jackson County depended on cotton. If cotton didn’t grow so well one year, Jackson County and all of its towns and cities will be in economic trouble, but usually cotton grew very quickly.
Although many towns were flourishing because of the growth of cotton, some towns wondered if it will be propitious or profitable for farmers. In 1902, the Atlanta Journal asked the question, "Are cotton mills in the community a real benefit to farmers?" There were different responses: Yes, because the price of surrounding land increased and the mill provided employment. No, because the lack of farm labor meant farmers would have to pay higher wages on farms and the workers they hired might want regular hours like mill workers.
For several years, the lives of farmers and agricultural industry workers in Jackson County centered on cotton. Although the uncertainty of a good crop and good prices, "Cotton is still King." The early 1900s were very good years for cotton to be grown in the county. In 1902, there was a greater appeal for American cotton because a mysterious insect was destroying the entire cotton crop in Egypt. In 1904, The Herald noted that another strange insect has been found in Texas, the Mexican cotton boll weevil. Local farmers were warned to be on the lookout for this strange insect.
Meanwhile, the prices of cotton were rising. The good price for cotton a pound is nine cents. H.B. Mathis was selling his cotton at sixteen cents a pound, but people were used to it because the price of cotton never remained constant. The South kept changing between praising "King Cotton" and being "cotton sick." The price a pound of cotton was not the only value of cotton for farmers. Farmers also sold the cotton seed to cotton seed oil companies. In late January of 1907, a week was reserved for "Cotton Seed Week" in Jefferson. The city bought more cotton seed than ever before in its history. The price of cotton seed rose to $20 per ton. "Wagon after wagon came into town bringing cotton seed. The Southern Cotton Oil Co. was soon filled to overflowing," said The Herald.
In April 1911, "The weevils are coming" was a common phrase among the farmers. The cotton boll weevil had been seen in southern Alabama and was expected to go to western Florida. It was said that they were to appear in Georgia in 1912. Later that spring, farmers had a boll weevil scare when a strange insect was found destroying young cotton. Luckily, the bug was found to be a cowpea pod weevil instead.
After years of fearing the arrival of the boll weevil, Jackson County farmers in September 19 to report sightings of the insects in their cotton crops. Instead of "the boll weevil is coming," The Herald was saying, "the boll weevil is here." Farmers came to realize that they should not only depend on cotton, but on other crops and livestock as well.
In September 1920, the price of cotton had declined. Cotton prices went down five cents per pound. The same year, cotton went down to 25 cents per pound. Despite the falling of cotton prices, the cost of equipment, fertilizer, and production was higher than ever before. In between 1920 and 1936, bales of cotton being made dropped from over 35,000 to only 7,123 bales. Farmers started giving up. Martin Institute professor encouraged farmers to use cattle, hogs, and mules for production. Not all of the farmers were going to give up on cotton, because there was a banner up in Jefferson that read: "Keep Cotton King."
DEPRESSION AFFECTS JEFFERSON
By Luis CarrenoAs some of you know in 1929 the stock market crashed sending the country into a 10-year long recession. In October of the year 1930 The Jackson Herald suggested that the depression was an outcome of "disobedience to God’s will." Throughout the depression President Roosevelt practically saw that Georgia was suffering from poverty and diseases so he approached the problems like in any other state.
At the start of the depression farmers got twelve cents for one pound of cotton. Three years later one pound of cotton got farmers five cents because there was so much that it was worth less; so the government paid farmers to plant less. Since there was less cotton the cotton was worth more, it quickly went to fifteen cents per pound.
Jefferson went through hard times but it got right back on it.
TRAINS AND GAINS
By Kaitlyn Adams and Summer Shaw
Railroads were a big part of the boom in Jefferson’s population. When railroad tracks were laid, businesses popped up forming the base of a town. Jefferson had to wait until 1883 before they could have rail service. The Seaboard line was built Gainesville to Athens via Jefferson. Frary Elrod describes Jefferson’s railroad: "It was originally called the Gainesville, Jefferson, and Social Circle. The first train was pulled by a wood-fired steam locomotive that ran on a narrow-gauge track. It hauled passengers, freight, and mail."
Railroads help with the mass production of cotton and other natural resources used in humans’ everyday lives. The railroad in Jefferson you see today is called the CSX line. Although we have many other ways to transport goods, railroads still play a very important role in our society.
By Ian Johnson and Trevor Reiff
In July of in 1962 Tom Crow ran for mayor of Jefferson and won the election. In his plans he was going to demolish over half of Jefferson square. He said he was doing this to "narrow the park and shape up the square so that we might have more room to turn the traffic up Highway 129 at the west end of the park and to widen the streets".
Even though he talked about tearing down the Jefferson Square and raising it, only three people knew of his plans ahead of time, but we don’t know who these people were. All the people in the town created an uproar but he still claimed it was what the majority of people wanted. "I had made a campaign promise to the people of Jefferson and I’m merely doing what the majority of people wanted done," according to Mr. Crow. So he carried out his plan to tear down Jefferson, and on that hot summer day of 1962, he destroyed the small town to make it easier for traffic to get through town. All he left of the town was a small sliver of ground and placed on it was two monuments which represent Crawford W. Long and a Confederate monument.
EXPLOSION IN JEFFERSON
By Cason Anderson and Faith Loggins
Floyd Hoard was a good man who loved his town and helped clear it of many crimes. He helped put many criminals to rest behind bars. Little did he know that one day his good deeds would "do him in."
On May, 1967, solicitor General Floyd Hoard at 7:25 A.M put the key into his ignition, turned it and …..BAM!!! Six to twelve sticks of dynamite exploded throwing him into the back seat of his car. His eldest daughter tried to resuscitate him, but she failed to. He died on the scene, with his children and wife to witness it. At his funeral Rev. Robert Ramsey said, "He maid his decision, he had counted the cost, and yesterday he paid the full price."
Many thought that the many years of lawlessness had led to the murder. The killing got the attention of the officials in Atlanta. The money behind it was bootlegging king pin Cliff Park. He hired Douglas Pinion as the man to pay the other men who placed the dynamite into the car. They were John H. Blackwell of Pickens County, and Lloyd George Seay of Dawsonville. They said that they didn’t even know the man who they killed. The trial lasted seven days and involved thirty state witnesses and seventy-seven pieces of evidence. The jury convicted Park of murder and sentenced him to the electric chair. He appealed the conviction and died in jail at the age of Eighty-eight. Blackwell, Seay, Worley, and Pinion were all sent to jail. They were released on probation. Pinion and Seay both had extremely violent deaths. Seay was killed in a Marietta shooting, and Pinion died in a truck fire explosion.Later Hoard’s son wrote a book about his father, which was called Alone Among the Living. It tells Hoards tragic story in great detail. We will all remember Hoard, and how he helped clear Jefferson from many of its crimes.
The Drake Murder Case ~ 1956
By Cecil BuffingtonAs 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. The sure hand of justice had prevailed although it was somewhat slow. James Horace Wood never wavered in his belief that Foster was innocent.
By Sebastian Arroyave
"One of the kingpins on the local crime scene during the 1950s-1970s"(Jackson Herald). Known for many crimes A.D Allen was known throughout the Commerce/Jefferson community. Many of his many crimes involved bootlegging, car theft, and liquor conspiracy. He was also involved in the killing of Charles Drake, a merchant in Jefferson City. As Drake’s wife was about to call the authorities, Allen knocked her out with the telephone she was holding it.
In the late November of 1973 Allen was charged with an incident which happened at the house of Walter Huckabee in Abbeville, South Carolina. He was charged with grand larceny, burglary, and assault and for threatening to kill. After being at trial he was sentenced to prison for twenty-five years. A.D. Allen died in 1999 in prison.
DISEASE AND ILLNESS
By Kody McDonald and Alexander Gould
There have been many diseases that have hit Jackson County in the past 100 years, such as Pellagra, smallpox, typhoid fever, malaria, and hookworm."
Pellagra was a vitamin deficiency disease that was named New Malady in 1909." This disease was fatal until Dr. Goldberger found the cause of Pellagra, and saved many lives thanks to his discovery.
Smallpox is a fatal and contagious disease, but not all that fatal. "Smallpox hit Jackson County in1909, anyone diagnosed with this disease was not allowed into Jackson County, but if they were already in Jackson County, they would have guards posted around their house and nobody could enter that house."
"Typhoid Fever is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract and occasionally the blood stream." This disease hit Jackson County in 1920. Believe it or not this disease was not fatal, a victim of this disease could only have Typhoid Fever from weeks to years, but only 3% of its victims had the disease lifelong. There have also been other diseases that hit Jackson County in the 1916’s such as malaria and hookworm. They weren’t all that popular though. In conclusion many diseases have hit Jackson County, but not all of them were fully active.
CRAWFORD W. LONG’S SUCCESS
By Kayla Bennett and Addie Holloway
It’s a miracle! It worked, Crawford W. Long first use of anesthesia was a complete success.
In 1842 James Venable went to Dr. Long to have a tumor removed from his neck. Dr. Long used ether as an anesthetic during surgery. This simple procedure was more then that—it also became a historic event. He successfully removed the tumor from James Venable’s neck.Long was the first doctor to use anesthesia. Dr. Long had used "laughing gas" on younger patients but had never used anesthesia. Dr. Long practiced medicine in Jefferson for eight years, and then left for Athens.
"On April 10, 1910 Jefferson unveiled a monument to honor Dr. Long." Dr. Long had one living child Eugenia and two grandchildren Edward C. Long, Athens, and Maud Long Baker, San Antonio, Texas. Crawford W. Long is very famous in the history of Jefferson and will remain important. In memory of Crawford W. Long Jefferson built a museum and it is still widely visited.
In the 1840’s teens had no entertainment. They had heard of "laughing gas" from the quite frequent traveling shows. The teens would inhale the "laughing gas." Some kids even held laughing gas parties. One party had run out of laughing gas. They called upon Dr. Long and asked if he had any more laughing gas. He informed them that he did not have any laughing gas but he had sulphuric ether which had the same effect as laughing gas and was also safe. Dr. Long moved his family to Atlanta but only stayed there for a year. He then moved his practice to Athens. He died tending a patient on June 16, 1878. His wife died on September 22, 1888.
THE CIVIL WAR
By: Tristan McGarity, Jordan Buchanan, and Maegan Edwards
The Civil War took more American lives than any other war in history.
It started on April 12, 1861, when Southern troops fired shots at Fort Sumter. William T. Thurmond, a Jackson County Native who recorded his memories of the war, was present at Lee’s surrender. "We went on up to Appomattox Court House an were there on April 9, 1865, when General Lee surrendered, but I did not surrender but came home without being captured, getting home about May 1,1865," Thumond said.
Another soldier Jefferson reported in an August 4, 1861 letter to his wife that soldiers were entering his camp in Richmond, VA., daily. "There is here now seventy-five thousand drilling," he said. "It took to me like we have enough men here to whip the winds.
Captain John Taggert, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, Sept. 17, 1862, "It is well war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it." General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg.
"It was not war, it was murder. No tongue can tell, no minds conceive, no pen portray the horrible sights I witnessed this morning." Major General D.H. Hill, CSA, about Mavern Hill, July 1, 1862
THE CIVIL WAR MAN OF JACKSON COUNTY: WILLIAM T. THURMOND
By Jeshua Kidd
On March 28, 1844, Jackson County, GA, William T. Thurmond was born. Years later after his birth, in August 1852, his mother died of typhoid fever. After his mother’s death, his father split him (and his four other siblings) up into different homes. William went to a house owned by a man named James H.Greer. At this house, William worked on the farm with African-Americans. When William left Jefferson (July 4, 1861) With the Thompson’s company, they went straight to Richmond, Virginia. After, they went to guard the prisoners who were captured in the battle of Manassas. On their way back to Richmond, they engaged in battle a victory for their company! The last battle was the battle of Sailor’s Creek Virginia. At the Appomattox courthouse, when Lee surrendered William didn’t, he escaped home without getting captured. On January9, 1868, William got married to a women named Almeda Williamson, and together had 3 boys and 1 girl. In his later years, William represented the Jackson County in the legislature. In 1908, William returned to Commerce and regained some of his losses from the saw mill business. In 1914, William got the appointment of the post mastership for Commerce. William T. was a great man in he Civil War, he fought hard and worked hard. William shall be remembered in Jackson County.
WILLIAM T. THURMOND
By Alex Holman
William T. Thurmond was born on March 28, 1844 near Price’s Bridge in Jackson County. When he was born he had only minor incidents. On was when he was four years old he got to close to a little colt’s hind legs and got hit in the eye by its hoof. It left a bad hoof print mark on his face.
As William T. Thurmond grew up all was swell until August 1852 when his mother died of typhoid fever, but on the same year in December his father gave his brothers and sisters (one to a house) away. William got sent to the home of Mr. James H.Greer. William lived and worked as one as the family. On Saturday he would go ride on a horse to get the mail and occasionally would get a bottle of whiskey for Mr. Greer.
William T. Thurmond left the home of the Greer’s and Jefferson on July 4, 1861. He left with Thompson’s company to Richmond, VA. When he arrived he changed places with a man in Jarrett’s company. There he was assigned to guard prisoners from the first battle in Manassas. He stayed on guard until sometime 1861.
William T. Thurmond’s first battle was in early February at Fredicksburg, VA. There the southern arms were successful. There were only two loses from Jarrett’s company. William did not attend this battle because he was rushed to the hospital in Richmond with pneumonia. He rejoined his company at Ashland, VA in April 1862.
William T. Thurmond attacked the McClelland flank on June 27, 1862. It was at Cold Harbor. His company was driving away the enemy from the battlefield. The company had 15 men shot and 7 killed. One of the people shot was his brother.
William T. Thurmond was in so many battles that it is impossible to write them all down, but I’ll tell you some more about him. His last fight was at Sailors Creek, VA on the 5 and 6 of April of 1865. He married Mrs. Almeda Williamson on January 9, 1986. Mrs. Williamson had 3 boys and 1 girl living when they got married. They had 2 boys and 5 girls together, but sadly 1 died.
William T. Thurmond was a true hero and I hope you analogue him at the Jefferson bicentennial.
WAR TIMES IN JEFFERSON: WWI & WWII
By Cole Howington, Tanner Williams, Macy Franco, and Zoe Cown
Times in Jefferson were hard during the wars. Many cities in Jackson County (including Jefferson) had limited goods, because they were being used in the war. Since there were limited goods many people had to ration their food. Most of the goods were sugar, flour, gas, and most types of food.
The war depleted Jefferson’s population, because many of the men went to war, and most of them never came back. The total number of men in Jefferson who died in WWI and WWII was ninety-eight. An article that we researched called "Countians Urged to Do Your Part" said that "many of the citizens did their part by burning wood instead of coal." Even the factories closed down for five days to conserve fuel and energy."
Women also played an important part in the war. Women weren’t allowed to fight in the war, because men thought they weren’t strong enough. Other women were left to build the weapons, and supplies such as clothes and parachutes. These parachutes weren’t used for people jumping out of planes; they were used to drop supplies such as food and clothes down to the troops. Many of these parachutes were made in Gainesville.
Women also had to maintain the farms, so when the men came back they had enough food to support their families. For quite some time women ran everything. The women that stayed behind created signs, showing women strength.
One person from Jefferson that came back was Damon Gause. He was a much honored hero. He was a soldier that escaped from the Philippines and traveled back to Australia. When he escaped from the Philippines he wrote about the escape in diary. When he got to Australia he was sent to a hospital and was treated by a nurse from Jackson County. Her name was Millie Dalton. When word came his son had been born he came back to America although he was risking court marshal. In 1999 Gause’s son got the diary and put it in book form. Near the end of 1999 it was beginning to turn into a movie. Later in the war Gause was killed in England during a training flight. In honor of Damon Gause a bypass was named after him.
As you can see the wars impacted Jefferson greatly in many ways. You can also see in this article how citizens made a difference in many of the great wars.
AGRICULTURE IN JEFFERSON
By Amy Garmon
The early settlers were all farmers and their livelihood depended almost entirely on what could be produced on the farm. Each family kept a milk cow, other cattle for meat, poultry, sheep for meat and wool, and grew vegetables, corn, and cotton. According to Allene L. Porter, "Each family had about 6 milk cows and family’s milked each cow twice a day." Spring was a very busy time of the year on the farm. The vines had to be raked, picked up and burned before the ground could be plowed. The barn had to be cleaned, and the compost scattered the compost was used instead of a guano or a commercial fertilizer. The compost was not only used in the garden it was also used in the fields where corn and cotton was grown. The compost was plowed in and the rows were laid off after which more compost was put in the rows and dug up. This procedure took several days in the field stocks had to be knocked down by hand. The corn stocks were not so easy. They had to be cut with a hoe and piled up and burned. Sometimes a farmer would have more farmland then he could tend. He had several choices, such as contracting with another party to help, hire farm hands by the day (usually fifty cents per day) or he could rent certain acres to a family and furnish them a horse, mules and equipment. People would plant peas in the middle of the summer in the watermelon patch. The main crops of those days were cotton, corn, and peas, but peanuts and tobacco were also produced for home use. Georgia’s farm crops are grown on about 43 percent of the land, 28 percent is pasture, 20 percent is wooded and the remainder is taken up by ponds, streams, buildings, and road. Agriculture in Georgia is a $56.7 billion business representing 16 percent of the states production and employment base. In pure numbers, agriculture can be seen as a relatively inefficient use of space to generate income. Agriculture was a lot different then it is now.
By Lance Pass, Morgan Oullette, Hannah Nichols, Connor Paul, and Katie Simmons
The Georgia Legislator created the Jackson County Academy in 1818 which soon became the Martin Institute (M.I.S.) in 1859. The name changed to honor the school benefactor William Duncan Martin.
The Martin Institute was located east of the First Baptist Church of Jefferson. It was one of the largest schools at the time. There were seventy-five high school students, two-hundred-twenty-five common school students, and the average enrollment was three-hundred-fifty students. It was a pretty big school for a small town.
In 1902, the Martin Institute made tuition free. Students came from all over Jackson County and many of them lived in boarding houses or with local families. The University of Georgia accepted most of those who mastered courses taken in Jefferson.
On January 13, 1942 the police chief’s son, Thomas Paul Pettyjohn Jr., burnt the M.I.S down. He was hoping that there wouldn’t be anymore school. The city of Jefferson could not rebuild the school because they were in the middle of WWII. During the four years of the war school was held in local churches and other public buildings.
After the war, when the finally built a school, instead of naming it Martin Institute they named it The Jefferson High School. The Elementary was included in the High School. Mr. Jack Purcell, Jefferson resident and former school principal in Jefferson, was in the first class to graduate from the high school in 1946. He says that there were only 52 students in the class of 1946. He explains that the reason the classes were small was because Jefferson was a small town. Today the Jefferson High School still stands and many students attend it.
JUMP IN SOCIETY
By Taylor Poff, Will Roberts, Ashley Thompson, Hannah Oliver, and
How has Jefferson’s society changed over the past two centuries? That is a question people ask today. Many things have changed actually, for instance, the architecture and the building layouts have taken a whole new twist. Some historical buildings are still there, such as the Crawford W. Long Museum, while others were torn down to build new and more useful buildings.
Another big thing that has changed is the fashion sense. Today, people are wearing clothing from stores like Hollister, GAP, Aeropastle, Abercrombie & Fitch—clothing stores to buy cooler clothes than from a long time ago. Awhile back, it was appropriate for girls to wear dresses, and for boys to wear white t-shirts and overalls. "Most of the time, all the children went to school barefoot," wrote Allene Porter in the book I Remember Model "T" Days. "Once, a little boy came to school wearing a pair of shoes, so everyone called him a sissy. After 2 days, he came back like everyone else." We can’t forget about the new technology that has been created and discovered. Jefferson first began looking into building an electric and waterworks system in February 1904 to use the new technology. Hurricane Shoals was considered an electric power source in February 1911. Engineers were hoping that it would produce its power by the end of the year to provide power for Commerce, Maysville, and Jefferson. "However, talk began in 1912 of the Georgia Railway and Power Company running power lines from Tallulah Falls to Atlanta to provide electric power with a possible route including Commerce, Winder, Jefferson," as quoted from the book Our Time and Place. "In October 1912, the Jefferson City council agreed to give the company the right to stretch and erect poles for distributing electricity." The first electricity was provided for Jackson County by the Jackson Electricity Membership Corporation. Jefferson’s Society has changed a lot over the past two hundred years and is still changing today. Whether new buildings are being built or old ones are being torn down, or if there’s a new trend of fashion, society is always changing.