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Outrunning a North Georgia Home Guard

Posted by | February 11, 2016

erford harrisonPlease welcome guest author Erford A. Harrison of Cleveland, GA. “These stories about my ancestor George Harrison are from tales I remember being told to me by my father and uncles, and from information supplied by my cousin Earl Harrison, a great-grandson of the James Harrison mentioned below. I have heard very similar versions of some of the same stories from other branches of the Harrison clan.

“I can offer no proof of the validity or accuracy of many of these incidents, since this is the first attempt that I know that has been made to write down any of them. However, I can remember the old Thomas Faulkner house, and it was laid out just as described in George’s stories. Also, the rotting remains of the large hollow tree in the the ‘Sheep Hole’ were still there when I was a small boy. I was always told that this was the log in which Uncle George hid after his escape from the Home Guard.”



When the Cherokee Indians were removed to Oklahoma, the land in upper Hall and lower Habersham Counties along the Chattahoochee River was among the land that was parceled out to settlers by various land lotteries.

One settler who drew a land lot — which reached from the Chattahoochee to the top of the highest ridge between the river and Big Mud Creek — was Rubin Harrison, my great, great grandfather. Rubin had a rather large family by two wives, the last being Margaret Harrison. One of Rubin’s older children was Henry Harrison, my great grandfather. Henry married Jane Loggins from the White Creek area of what is now White County.

When the Civil War came along, Henry, who was in the Home Guard, was too old for the conscript, but he had some younger siblings who were prime candidates. Two of these were James and George. George, who was born September 16, 1840, is the central figure in the story as it has been told to me by my father, uncles, and various other sources — including some from the ‘enemy’ camp.

The Confederate Home Guard (1861–1865) worked in coordination with the Confederate Army, and was tasked with helping track down and capture Confederate Army deserters. Home guard units also acted as "plantation police," charged with making sure blacks had passes that permitted them to be out and about. Courtesy Library of Congress.

The Confederate Home Guard (1861–1865) worked in coordination with the Confederate Army, and was tasked with helping track down and capture Confederate Army deserters. Home guard units also acted as “plantation police,” charged with making sure blacks had passes that permitted them to be out and about. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Most of the settlers of this area were small farmers; few if any owned slaves. Most came down from Virginia and other areas of the Appalachian Mountains, and not from the lower areas of the state.

They were from a very different culture than the large plantation owners farther south, and consequently had very different views on politics.

From the information I have been able to gather, there was not much sympathy for the Confederate cause in the mountains of Northeast Georgia.

Peter Faulkner, a large land and slave owner in the Holly Springs area of North Hall County, was in charge of the conscript for the Pea Ridge area of Hall County. According to George Harrison, most of Faulkner’s relatives were in the Home Guard, and sought to conscript the likes of George and his brother James for the Confederate Army.

The two brothers weren’t having any of it. They and several others from this area fled home and hid out along the Chattahoochee, sleeping most of the time in the ‘Rock House,’ a large overhanging rock just above the Bull Shoals, overlooking the Sleep Hole.

Faulkner’s Home Guard knew these men were in the area, and spent many hours trying to track them down. George and his friends, having the sympathy of the local people, made this task rather difficult and frustrating for the Home Guard. Jane Loggins Harrison (and I am sure many of the other local folk) helped feed and conceal these six to eight ‘deserters’ who roamed the Chattahoochee Basin eluding capture.

One of the hot spots of the Home Guard’s search was the home of Henry and Jane. It was strongly suspected they were concealing some of the deserters. In fact, George and James (and possibly others in their group) ate regularly at Jane’s table. When it was okay for them to come to the house, Jane would hang the dish towel on a line above the wash bench on the back porch. If someone came to the house, Jane would go to the back porch and remove the dishrag from the line. George and his group did not dare come to the house if they did not see the signal.

Confederate boots. Courtesy Heritage Auctions/Dallas

Confederate boots. Courtesy Heritage Auctions/Dallas

Living on the run required resourcefulness. At one time, George was captured briefly, but managed to make his escape, and came out in better shape than before he was captured.

As his captors quizzed him about his fellow conscript dodgers, George looked down and noted that the conscriptors all had almost new boots. He thought of his own worn out shoes and quickly devised a plan.

George told them that since they had captured him, he would show them where his friends were to be sleeping that night, and would help capture them.  When night fell, he led them to a hill above the river and informed them that his friends would be sleeping at a spot near the top of the hill; if flushed out, they would run down the hill and turn down the river. He stationed them at the foot of the hill along a trail that he claimed they would be taking as they made their escape.

He picked out a Home Guard who had what he thought was near his boot size and had that man accompany him back up the hill. They were supposedly going to get on the hill above the sleeping men and startle them, causing them to run in the direction of the waiting conscriptors. When they had gone part way up the hill, George informed his captor that they must remove their shoes, since the slightest noise would wake his friends, causing them to run in the wrong direction.

George was very familiar with the area and led his captor in a maze of directions until he was sure he had him confused, and then he yelled “There they go!” George ran in the darkness directly to where their shoes were left. He picked up the new boots left by his captor and ran off into the night with a good pair of boots for his night’s work.

At some time during the middle of the winter George and a Smith man from the Skitts Mountain area were again captured in or near the Rock House. They were tied around the neck with ropes and led behind riders on horseback from there to the home of Thomas Faulkner, a nephew of Peter Faulkner.

About this time, Thomas had built a kitchen for his house. He built it plantation style — that is, not directly connected to the house, but joined by a walkway. The kitchen had a large rock fireplace in which was built a hot roaring fire. Thomas had a ‘government still’ on his place and had just ‘run off’ some apple brandy.

George and James Harrison hid out in "Rock House," a large overhanging rock just above the Bull Shoals of the Chattahoochee River, overlooking the Sheep Hole. It would have looked very much like this. (This image was taken on the Island Ford Branch of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area; photo by Wayne Hsieh/Flickr)

George and James Harrison hid out in “Rock House,” a large overhanging rock just above the Bull Shoals of the Chattahoochee River, overlooking the Sheep Hole. It would have looked very much like this. (This image was taken on the Island Ford Branch of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area; photo by Wayne Hsieh/Flickr)


Having ridden several miles on horseback with their captives walking behind, the Home Guard group was in a festive mood, but very cold from the ride. The brandy was very inviting to the captors, and as soon as the room got warm George and his friend could see they were somewhat drunk. George started loosening the noose about his neck bit-by-bit. The Home Guards were preoccupied with getting warm and celebrating the capture of their two deserters, and did not notice.

As the room became hotter and the celebrants became drunker, George begged permission to move back from the fire, since he was accustomed to sleeping outdoors with no fire. He claimed he was uncomfortably hot. Approval was granted, and as time wore on, George asked permission to open the door slightly, as he and his friend needed to cool off from the heat of the giant fireplace.

With the door half open and the ropes loosened from their necks, the captives watched for the right moment. They threw the ropes from around their necks and bolted out the door onto the walkway between the kitchen and the ‘Big House.’ They made a right turn off the walkway straight into the hole that had been dug to get red clay to ‘daub’ the chimney and fireplace in Thomas’ new kitchen.

To add to their misery, there was by this time an inch or two of snow covering the ground. In spite of all this they were able to scramble out of the hole ahead of their drunken captors, and run back to the river. A large, hollow pine tree had fallen, with the top end in the Sheep Hole.  George crawled into this log and lay there all night listening to his captors search for them up and down the river bank.

The day after the escape George and Smith went to the foot of Skitt Mountain, where Smith’s uncle had a farm. They slaughtered one of his sheep, built a fire, and cooked and ate all they could hold. A lot had transpired since they had last eaten. They carried the balance of the meat to the owner.

Nonetheless, soon after this episode they were either captured again, or grew tired of running: both George and James were enlisted into the Confederate Army as privates in Company E, 16th Regiment, Georgia Infantry, on November 1, 1863.

Postscript: Although George Harrison was bodily inducted into the Confederate Army, his sentiments were not. After a few months his unit was posted very close to Union forces in Tennessee. He crept across no-man’s land, joined the Union Army, and was discharged at the end of the war as a Union veteran.



Chocolate covered cherries for Valentine’s Day? Classic!

Posted by | February 10, 2016

William E. Brock’s company wasn’t the first to mass market the delightful French concoction in the US. That distinction goes to the New York City firm Cella’s Confections, which began large scale production in 1929. But Brock Candy Company was well positioned to become a major competitor.

During the 1930s, Brock introduced its own chocolate covered cherries, which quickly became a nationwide favorite. That particular candy not only helped the company survive the lean Depression era but would remain one of its biggest sellers for the next 60 years.

By 1930, William E. Brock had already been in the candy making big leagues for more than two decades. Born in North Carolina, he’d been a traveling salesman for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. when, in 1906, he decided to settle down in Chattanooga, TN. He borrowed money and invested with some associates in a small wholesale grocery shop, which also held a candy shop, the Trigg Candy Company.

Brock Candy Company in Chattanooga TN1952 photo of the Brock Candy Company in Chattanooga. Here chocolate covered cherries receive the bottom coat of chocolate.

Brock continued the candy making operation, which consisted of handmade penny and bulk candies, peanut brittle, peppermints, and fudge. Using the experience and connections he had made as a traveling salesman, he sold primarily through former clients in small country stores.

Three years later, he bought his partners out and reincorporated the company as Brock Candy Company.

Sugar rationing during World War I hampered the business, but in 1920 the company introduced a five-cent peanut stick that became a big seller. In the early part of that decade it modernized its factory, installing automatic moguls (a starch molding machine).

Next, Brock eliminated all slab confectionery items, such as peanut brittle and fudge, which were products already produced by many manufacturers, making that area extremely competitive. Instead, Brock concentrated on launching new lines of jelly and marshmallow candies, using the new automated moguls. Also during the 1920s, Brock worked with the DuPont Company to develop and test the packaging of candy in cellophane bags. His company was one of the first candy makers to use cellophane bags, and it influenced the entire candy industry.

Brock found innovative ways to deal with the problems presented by the Depression. When the bank moratorium of 1933 made it impossible for Brock workers to cash their paychecks, Brock collected his daily receipts from local retailers of his candies and paid his employees in cash.

In addition to his prosperous candy manufacturing, William E. Brock also had involvements in insurance and banking interests. He became a trustee of the former University of Chattanooga, now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Emory and Henry College, and also Martha Washington College.

Undoubtedly because of his high visibility in the public affairs of Chattanooga, Brock was appointed U.S. senator by Tennessee Gov. Henry Horton in September 1929, after the death of Sen. Lawrence D. Tyson in a Philadelphia sanitarium. Sen. Brock Sr. was elected for a short term in 1930 and served until March 1931. He was considered a Woodrow Wilson Democrat.

His son, William, Jr., succeeded him to head the company. By the time of his death in 1950, Brock Sr. had built his family-run company into the South’s—and Appalachia’s—largest candy maker.



The only Kentucky county to be abolished

Posted by | February 9, 2016

In early 1904, with the growth of the western end of Carter County, KY, residents there sought to form a new county. They broke away, along with some citizens of Rowan and Elliott counties, to form Beckham County, named for then-Governor John CW Beckham, who signed the legislative act on February 9.

GC Brooks, appointed County Judge, established formal offices, with the county seat in Olive Hill. It wasn’t long, though, before legal questions over the formation led to the county being dissolved by state action. Eighty days long, to be exact. On April 29, 1904, the Court of Appeals ruled that the new county failed to meet constitutional standards of size and population. Beckham is the only county in Kentucky to be abolished.

Olive Hill, Carter County KY

Birds eye view of business district, Olive Hill, Kentucky U.S. 60.



Mt Sterling [KY] Advocate
May 11, 1904 Wednesday

“The legislative act creating the county of Beckham was declared by the Court of Appeals to be unconstitutional and void in that it violates Sections 68 and 64 of that instrument, which sections prohibit the reducing of the area of the counties from which a new county is made, to less than four hundred square miles, their populations to less than 12,000 and the line within ten miles of an old county seat.

“The decision was given by the court in agreed cases of Carter County against Zimmerman and Brooks, here on appeal from the Carter Circuit Court and it is a reversal of that court, which sustained a demurrer and refused to allow the county of Carter to be heard in the matter. The court here says this was an error and remands the cases for further proceedings.

“The lower court practically admitted all the allegations of the petition as to the territory involved, but took the ground that the judicial department of the State government could not go behind the bill creating the new county proposed and inquire into the facts upon which the General Assembly acted.

“The court, in passing upon the question, says that the provisions of the Constitution are as binding upon the General Assembly as upon an individual and as mandatory and that it is proper for the courts to inquire into findings by the Legislature, and it has authority to ascertain whether the provisions of the Constitution as to area. Population and location of lines are followed by the General Assembly in the formation of a new county.

John C. W. Beckham, Governor of Kentucky, 1900-1907. Library of Congress.

John C. W. Beckham, Governor of Kentucky, 1900-1907. Library of Congress.

“The allegations of the petition of Zimmerman were that the county of Beckham was created out of parts of the counties of Carter, Elliott and Lewis; that the part taken from Carter county leaves it with only about 250 square miles; that the county line between Beckham and Carter counties, runs within less than two miles of the county seat of Carter county; that Elliot county, before any territory was taken from it had less than 400 square miles and was by the act reduced to far less than that; that the area of Carter County was 354 square miles, the area of Lewis county 454 square miles, and Elliott County 274 square miles; that the new county line runs within six miles of Grayson, the county seat of Carter and within seven miles of Vanceburg, the county seat of Lewis County; that the area of Beckham county does not exceed 286 square miles; that Lewis County is reduced to 300 miles, Elliott to 234 miles; that the population of Beckham county is less than 12,000 and that its establishment reduces Carter and Eliott to less than 12,000 each.

“In discussing the case, the court here in brief says…It is insisted for the appellate that the boundary of the county, as given in the act, will not close and IN FACT TAKES IN PART OF THE STATE OF OHIO…The rule is that the court will inspect the whole act, and if the actual intention of the Legislature can be thus ascertained, the false description will be rejected or words substituted in the place of these used by mistake, so as to give effect to the law. IT IS NOT PRESUMED THAT THE LEGISLATURE INTENDED TO INCLUDE IN THE COUNTY A PART OF THE STATE OF OHIO.

“The constitutional objection to the act is more serious. It is earnestly maintained for appellee that the constitutional restrictions as to area and population or location of the county line are for the guidance of the legislators, and that when the Legislature has acted it is incompetent for the courts to inquire into the correctness of the legislative…

“Carter County had by the geological survey an area of 544 square miles, Elliott County 270 and Lewis County 450; total 1, 264, as given in the official report of the Bureau of Agriculture, so that Carter County can properly contribute only 144 square miles to the formation of a new county, Elliott, nothing and Lewis only fifty square miles. We must therefore take judicial notice that only 194 square miles can on this basis be cut from these counties without infringing the mandate of the Constitution…

“If any of these conditions are wanting, the act is in violation of the Constitution and void. The Circuit Court erred in refusing to allow the petition of Carter County to be filed. He also erred in sustaining the demurrer to plaintiff’s petition. Judgment reversed and cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”


The Southwestern Reporter, Volume 80, May 4-June 22, 1904, by West Publishing Company, St Paul


The accidental town

Posted by | February 8, 2016

There is a town in Maryland’s westernmost county of Garrett that got its name from a happy accident. In 1750, Maryland settler George Deakins was granted 600 acres of land as a payment of a debt from England’s King George II. Deakins sent out two corps of engineers, each without knowledge of the other, to survey the best land in this area. When the two crews presented their findings, to their surprise and to Mr. Deakins’ satisfaction, they had both marked the same oak tree as their starting and returning points. Doubly vindicated that this land was prime, Mr. Deakins had it patented “The Accident Tract.”

The house in the background was the first English Lutheran Parsonage in Accident. The land was purchased from Eli McMillen on September 15, 1881 for one hundred dollars. Collection Family of Mary Miller Strauss /Ruth Enlow Library/Western Maryland Regional Library

The house in the background was the first English Lutheran Parsonage in Accident. The land was purchased from Eli McMillen on September 15, 1881 for one hundred dollars. Collection Family of Mary Miller Strauss/Ruth Enlow Library/Western Maryland Regional Library

The town was eventually settled by the Dranes. James Drane moved to the area in 1803 from Prince George’s County, which was part of the Maryland tobacco belt. Apparently Drane intended to turn his farm into a tobacco plantation. However, the climate of Garrett County proved unsuitable for growing tobacco, and he turned to normal farm crops.

The Dranes lived in a log cabin built by James’ brother-in-law William LaMar in 1797. LaMar owned Flowery Vale, a 900 acre tract of land. Half a century later, most of the town of Accident was built on that land; the Accident tract was incorporated into the Flowery Vale tract. James Drane added an addition to the cabin shortly after he arrived, giving the building a total of six rooms; three upstairs and three down.

Although it wasn’t the first log cabin in Garrett County, by the mid-1900’s the Drane House had been occupied by successive families for over 150 years. The last owners of the house were members of the Heinrick Richter family who purchased it in 1856. They leased it to a number of people; the last family left in 1952.

From the early 1950s, Mrs. Mary Miller Strauss, an Accident native who taught in the elementary schools of the Garrett County public school system for 33 years, took an active lead in the restoration of the Drane House. She ultimately made possible the placement of the Drane house on the National Registry of Historical Homes. The Accident Cultural and Historic Society was formed in 1987, and one of its main projects was the restoration of the Drane house. Restoration of the house, now owned by the town, began in 1992.

Accident MDPhoto caption reads: The Richter Tannery is located where the smoke is spewing from the stack. It was built in 1872. The Drane House is located to the right of the picture. (It cannot be seen.)

This tannery in Accident MD was operated by John Richter and later his son Adam for 56 years. Hides were tanned by the vegetable tannin method, using tannin obtained from the ground rock oak bark, furnished to the plant before World War I for four dollars and fifty cents a cord. It was put out of business in 1928 by the development of large tanneries.

sources: Western Maryland Regional Library

Accident+MD appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history Drane+House Garrett+County+MD Richter+Tannery


I say hurrah for Lincoln and the Union party! The Disunion party has committed treason

Posted by | February 5, 2016

When the dark clouds of war were gathering in the South in the spring of 1861, not everyone embraced the new cause. While some were eager to fight for a secessionist government, many others considered the impending war a wicked, treasonous undertaking and wanted no part of it.

Indeed, a majority in the hills of Northwest Alabama, mostly poor yeomen dirt farmers, saw little value or reason in taking arms against the federal government. They recognized quite early that this was not their fight, but that of the landed gentry. It was obvious to the hill folk that the plantation owners and their political spokesmen were fanning the war flames and talked the loudest about separation.

James B. Bell, of Winston County, AL, had six children: Robert, John, Henry, Eliza Jane, Francis, and James T., all Union Loyalists except for one son, Henry.

Henry joined the Confederacy and moved to Mississippi. Henry’s brothers, sister, and father all tried to convince Henry to rethink his feelings, but to no avail. There are seven known letters sent to Henry, who turned them in to the authorities in his community. They were then sent to Governor Moore on July 10, 1861 with a letter signed by A.W. Irvin from Lodi, MS:

“Dear Sir, Enclosed please find a treasonable correspondence from Kansas P.O. Walker Co., Ala. to a citizen of our community, Mr. Henry Bell, signed by James B. Bell, John Bell, and Robert Bell which the undersigned regard as dangerous and forward the same to Your Excellency in order that you may be advised of the existence of such sentiment in your State and to enable you to investigate or take such cause in the premises as your judgment and duty may dictate. Mr. Henry Bell to whom the ___ documents were written ___ ___ these individuals reside in Black Swamp Beat in Winston Co. Ala but the Kansas Walker Co. is their P.O.”

Union is dissolved poster, 1869Robert died in Andersonville on August 3, 1864 (a prisoner of war), John died on August 17, 1864 in Rome, GA, Henry died March 24, 1863, James T. died on July 24, 1864, and James B., their father, died September 15, 1862. Francis was the only male who survived, and his descendants can still be found in Winston County. These letters have little punctuation, gaps, and blanks, and were written to Henry trying to convince him to come home and change his ways.

Letter Seven:

Robert Bell to his brother, Henry Bell in Choctaw County Mississippi

June 10th 1861

State of Alabama Winston County Dear brother it is this one time more that I take my pin in hand to try to right you a few lines to let you no that I am tolebral well and I hope that when this Comes to hand that it may findes you all well and that you aught to bee when I say what you aught to bee is to not bee and rebel nor a fool the way you hair bin righting hear you air one or the other and you cant deniy it nor you nead not to try to deniy it to mee your side has not got a foundaution that is eney sounder than a soft bull tied in the spring of the year you have not I suppose from the way you have bin riting seen nor heard nothing but disunion secession confederate confederated and confederation and you all haive Swollode it down like Sweet milk and Softe peaches I say hurrow for lincol it has ben Said that lincol was a going to free the negros that is a ly I will say that it seames to me like congress has something to say aboute it first it has bin said that the union men was traitors that I say is a ly again I am a heap freader of the disunions with their helish principals than I am of lincol. he has not said that he was a going to free the negros he has bin beging far peas ever since he was elected he has offered the south more than I wood have dun he has offerd the south eney thing they wood ask for if they would stay in [One full line is unreadable because of fold.] bee as it was with Joseph and his brothers if the south will not do eney thing that is right and fair it is said by you or some of you dis union party that lincol was elected by a large negro vote that is not so and you now it two when I say you I mean you all on the dis union side and all hoo the shoe may fit Can ware it. theair was something said a bout a company being sent out here to do something with the union men Send them on when you git redy and it will bee a too hand again I am not afeard in to it my self come on and you will mete with your uncle feddys theair is no dainger of you a coming or sending on that bysness there is too mutch meanness at the bottom of the disunion party to soot me one man in this county said that he wood live fat among the (women) if the war cum on and he has left the County and I heard of a nother one being shot or shot at for trying to force a woman to it.

I am a union man my self and a union principal and all the rest of the con nect tion here there is not ceding 15 rebels in our beat and I say hurrow for lincon and the union party the dis union party has committed treason You say that lincon was elected by a large negro vot that will not do if that bee the case why did not you brake the election at the start it looks to me like he was lawfully elected when he beat the others all to gether you all had better try to keep your negros as for mine they may go I do not like to smell them so will Rebel is one who opposis lawful authority. Rebel to rise in opposition against lawful authority Rebellion insurrection against lawful authority Secede to withdraw from fellowship secession the act of with draw ing from union the act of joining concord.

this is what I am in for I was bornd and Raised in the union and I exspect to dy with the union principal in mee I will Dy before I will take an oath to support the Southern confedersa when ever lincoln dus eney thing Contray to the Constitution I am then ready and willing to help put him a way from their so i ad no more. Robert Bell


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