Wednesday, April 2, 2014

JANE NEW DORSEY


The Sentimental Gentleman's Lady

This is the novelistic account of the life of Jane New Dorsey of Dublin, Georgia, who grew up to realize her dream of being a successful singer and dancer.  Never in her wildest, youthful dreams could she ever conceive of being married to one of the most famous men in America and  one of the greatest big band leaders in the history of music.  Her eight and one-half year marriage to the band leader, Tommy Dorsey, was both passionate and tempestuous to say the least. 

Jane Carl New was born to Dublin attorney Stephen Parker New and his wife, Ruth Hightower New, on October 23, 1923.   Jane attended elementary school a few blocks from her home.   The New family, including brothers Stephen Jr. and William Hightower New, left their home at 515 Tucker Street in Dublin and moved to Washington, D.C., when the elder New was appointed an attorney for the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1936.

Jane, who lived at 410 Cedar Street in northwestern  Washington,  studied dancing at the Phil Hayden Studios in Washington, D.C. and  drama at the Abilene School of Theater in New York after her graduation from Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C.  During years of World War II, New became a speciality dancer and understudy to the lead female singer  in a revival of the Ziegfeld Follies, starring Milton Berle, Illona Massey and Arthur Treacher.

Jane, beautiful dancer and a fine singer with a natural singing voice,  became a regular dancer in the famous Copacabana Club in New York City.  

New's first, and albeit short,  marriage to Bob Mizzy didn't work out well.  Mizzy had been married to another dancer of a sorts, the burlesque stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee.  

Miss New, somewhat short at five-feet, four-inches tall,  found new fame as a chorus line dancer in the Colonial Inn in Miami. 

One night, while dining at the Casino Gardens, Tommy Dorsey's club near Los Angeles,  Jane noticed  Dorsey coming over to her table where she was dining with friends.  Jane noticed that the tent card on her table contained a misspelling of Dorsey's last name.

Jane began to poke fun at and flirt with Dorsey, who offered her a job managing the room where he was performing.  In his book "Livin' In a Great Big Way," Peter J. Levinson wrote, "The bandleader-proprietor was intrigued by New's sassy personality. Dorsey and New left togther in his car.  The great Dorsey was not used to a woman talking back to him, much less a woman he had just met."

Jane and Tommy, whose 137 hits on the Billboard Charts exceeded those of both Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, began dating four to six weeks later.  

During the winter of 1948, Dorsey proposed his hand in marriage to Jane by handing her a five-carat diamond ring.  Jane accepted and immediately set out for Miami to resign her position at the Colonial Inn, but not before stopping in at her parents' home to tell them the wonderful news.

Fred Dickensen, in a 1948 article for The Oregonian, wrote, "She was lovely, and she was lonely.  Furthermore, she was hungry.  Jane New slammed the door of the empty icebox in the Florida home of her absent hosts and then went to the telephone.  When the musician, Tommy Dorsey, was a from a few miles away in Miami, Jane said, 'All right, Tommy, you win.  If you feed me, I'll marry you.'"

Jane and Tommy were married in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on March 27, 1948. Her parents and Dorsey's mother witnessed the unpretentious civil ceremony. The couple honeymooned on his yacht, "The Sentimentalist."   Although it was his third marriage, Dorsey, known as the Sentimental Gentlemen because of his big hits, I'm Getting Sentimental Over You and Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia, told Jane and their families, "This is it. This is the real thing."

Jane did manage to land one movie role, although minor, in the jam session of the 1954 movie, A Star is Born, starring Judy Garland and James Mason. 

Jane and Tommy had two children, Catherine and Stephen. 

The on again, off again, marriage began to fall completely apart in the summer of 1956.  After  bitter preliminary court proceedings, the court ordered that both of the Dorseys could live in their palatial home in Greenwhich, Connecticut, but in separate and  locked bedrooms.

On November 26, 1956, Tommy Dorsey, at the age of 51, died all alone, behind his locked bed room door.  The coroner ruled that the Sentimental Gentleman died from choking on his evening dinner.  

Dorsey's death came only two days before the Dorseys were scheduled appear in court toward a divorce. 

With the dissonance gone in her life, Jane Dorsey turned her life around.  Not as wealthy as her lifestyle would dictate, Jane successfully took her fight to secure the rights to her husband's musical arrangements.  As the owner and manager of the Tommy  Dorsey Orchestra, she oversaw the operation of band which performed hundreds of times each year, including a visit to Dublin a decade or so ago. 
"There was one main love in her life, and that was my father.  And, she never completely got over is death. " said son Stephen Dorsey after Jane's death on August 28,  2003. 

Jane was buried beside her beloved, embattled husband in  Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.  At the base of her slab are engraved the words, "Tommy Called Her His E Flat."


SELINA BURCH STANFORD

Warrior For the Dignity of Women

Long before the Women's Rights movement began in the 1960s and escalated in the 1970s, one Dublin woman was out there in the streets, inside board rooms and in the work place fighting for the rights of her fellow women workers, the right to be treated equal, the right to fair pay and the right of decent working conditions.   This is the story of a local young girl who took on the male establishment and accomplished her goals, winning a few important battles on the way.

Selina Burch Stanford was born in Laurens County, Georgia on September 24, 1927.  She was a daughter of Roger Burch and Jane Smith and grew up in the Burch District of Laurens County.  Selina attended Laurens County and Dublin schools.   At the age of seventeen, Selina went to work for Southern Bell Telephone Company as an operator.  Along with many of her fellow workers, Selina joined the Southern Federation of Telephone Workers.

Miss Burch's first true experience with labor relations came in 1947 when she and her fellow union members endured a strike which lasted nearly seven weeks.   That same year, telephone workers across the nation began the process of consolidating and forming a more powerful and unified single union organization under the banner of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.   Following the labor action, Selina was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina.  After five years she was elected Secretary of Local 3407 of the Communication Workers of America.   A year later in 1953, Selina was elected as the recording secretary of the Charleston CIO.

At the age of 27 in 1954, Selina Burch became the first woman to be elected president of her local union and any union in South Carolina.  She said, "I guess the rebel in me really began to come out somewhere between 1952 and 1954 when I discovered that I was doing all the work and a male was getting all the credit."    In 1955 she was chosen to serve on the staff of the Communication Workers of America as a representative and organizer. The satisfactory resolution of a violent strike that year by 50,000 employees led to her election to a leadership position on the district level when she became director of the North Louisiana division of the union.  

It was in the Creole State where Selina's interest in politics began to surface.  She spent tireless hours to build the state Democratic party.   She joined the campaign for Congressman Hale Boggs who served as majority leader of the United States House of Representatives and was a leader in establishing the Interstate Highway System and was also a member of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In 1964, Selina was reassigned again.  This time, she came home, or close to it.  Miss Burch, still yet unmarried, enjoyed Christmas visits to her old home in Dublin.  Her brother J.B. Burch was a popular service station owner in downtown Dublin.   She was especially close to a close-knit group of aunts known to some as "The Burch Sisters."  These ladies, Ilah, Celestia and Emily, all school teachers, were also unmarried and lived together in their large two-story home on South Calhoun Street.  

Seen as a tough and demanding woman on the outside, away from her formidable duties as a labor union secretary and an advocate for the rights of women to work outside the home, Selina was described as a soft-spoken women who loved to bake.  She was described as a natty dresser and a woman who exuded intelligence and dignity  as she spoke.  Her  stepdaughter Margaret Pavey said of her cooking, "Her lemon pound cakes were legendary, and so was her generosity in giving them away."

The 1960s were a decade when women for the first time began to find their way into  the top echelons of governmental, religious and private organizations throughout the country.  Selina Burch was no exception.  With great honor, Selina held the position as Secretary of the 450,000 member Communication Workers of America union.  In 1969, she was  invited to Singapore, where she taught Asian telephone workers on different facets of the telephone industry.  

Burch saw her role in the union and in life as a protector of the dignity of women. She told a reporter from the Malay Mall, "In the past, a woman's only intention was to marry and settle down.  But now she is competing with man in every field - from engineering to electronics, and as she competes with man in his preserved fields, she must form unions or actively participate in the trade unions that will protect her rights and dignity as a human being."   Selina disavowed any special privileges on account of her being a woman.  "I will make sure I am not discriminated against because of my sex. Merit should be the only criterion - not sex," she said.

During the 1970s she allied herself with Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Jackson, organizing phone banks of callers in their successful mayoral campaigns. In 1974, Selina was appointed director of Georgia-Florida District.   In 1976, she worked tirelessly for a fellow Georgian, Jimmy Carter, in his campaign for president.  It was during that same year that Selina accepted an appointment by  Governor George Busbee as the first female member of the Georgia Board of Offender Rehabilitation.  As a member of the board, Miss Burch began to see the disparity of vocational rehabilitation between male and female inmates.    With the aid of a friend, she instituted a program of instructing women on the skills of being a telephone operator.  Always a faithful member of the Democratic Party, Miss Burch served as a delegate to two National Democratic Party Conventions.

In 1978, Selina Burch was again transferred, this time to Washington, D.C., where she served as an administrative assistant to Glen Watts, President of the Communication Workers of America.  In 1980, she once again returned to Atlanta, where she served as an assistant to the vice-president of that organization.

In 1981, at the age of 53 , Selina finally began to settle down.  She married Morgan Callaway Stanford, a labor lawyer.  Ten years later in 1991, she finally settled down and retired from the Union after 44 years of service.  Selina Burch Stanford died on October 19, 2002.

Joseph Yablosnki, a Washington labor lawyer, eulogized Selina Burch by saying, "She was a pioneer in the women's labor movement.  She showed that women in the CWA were not only entitled to a place at the bargaining table, but could serve the union's members at the highest level of the union itself.  She could be as hard as nails when she had to be, but she was the sweetest friend and best client I ever had."    Former regional union director described Selina Stanford as "a tireless worker, dedicated to the CWA membership and a person with a brilliant mind."    

Saturday, March 22, 2014

ANNIE ANDERSON



Juvenile Jurist




On August 19, 1920, the Congress of the United States ratified the 19th Amendment which guaranteed the right of women in the country to vote.  Sara Orr, a young Dublin woman, was honored to serve as secretary for three United States Senators from Georgia, Thomas E. Watson, Rebecca Lattimer Felton and Walter F. George.  Senator Felton, appointed by Georgia governor Thomas W. Hardwick who would later became a resident of Dublin, was the nation’s first female senator.    Though Laurens County women made rapid strides in the years following the adoption of the amendment, more than a half century elapsed before women began to make inroads into political offices across the state.  This is the story of Mrs. Annie Anderson who, with an appointment by Laurens County Superior Court Judge J.L. Kent, became the first female judge of any court in the State of Georgia.



In the years following World War I, the Georgia legislature provided that the eight most populous counties in Georgia establish juvenile courts to handle the rapidly increasing number of criminal cases involving juvenile offenders.  After two consecutive grand jury presentments,  the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, church organizations and the Women’s Community Association appointed Mrs. Frank Lawson, the state’s first female democratic district vice-chairman, to head a committee to seek a candidate to fill the office.    With the guidance of the sheriff and county officials Mrs. Lawson and her committee sought just the right candidate to deal with “the  good many” children who were confined to Laurens County jail in 1920.



A number of candidates were considered.  Annie Anderson was not one of them.  The committee wanted some one who could hear cases against minors, who were often placed in jail with adult convicts, a situation which was undeniably not the place these children should be.    Officials were concerned after the November 1921 conviction of 14-year-old George Walker for murdering his playmate 17-year-old George Avery.   Walker was the youngest Laurens Countian ever tried and convicted of murder.



The committee made their recommendation to Judge J.L.  Kent and on the last day of 1921, Judge Kent signed an order appointing Mrs. Anderson as Juvenile Court Judge for the county of Laurens.  Much to her surprise, Judge Anderson was not aware of her appointment until contacted by Judge Kent.  Few people had given any thoughts to the creation of the court. Even fewer people speculated on who the newest judge might be.



Annie Ogburn Anderson was born in 1877 in Wilkinson County, Georgia.   She was a daughter of Ellis and Missouri Ogburn.  The Ogburns moved to Dublin in 1898.  Shortly after they arrived, Annie caught the eye of the handsome young Oscar L. Anderson, the popular railroad agent of the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad.  The couple had five children, Oscar, who joined the Navy after high school, and Mattie, Milton, Frances and Emma, who were students at the time their mother was appointed to the bench.  



Annie Anderson was described by those who knew her as “a woman of striking personality and personal charm, with high educational qualifications and strong character.  Mrs. Anderson was president of the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and chairman of the Prison Committee of the Missionary Society of the First Baptist Church in Dublin.



As a woman bound to rid the community of the  evil influence of spiritous liquors and intoxicating beer upon the youth of the town, Mrs. Anderson accumulated a vast knowledge of the depth of the problem which was increasingly injuring American youth. As a part of her duties as chairman of the prison committee,   Annie made weekly visits to prison camps scattered throughout the county.    Mrs. Anderson and the other ladies talked to the prisoners and tried to brighten the lives of those condemned to the chain gang.



Mrs. Anderson attempted to take a personal interest in the lives of the prisoners she visited, especially any young women she may have found.    She was always ready and willing to provide guidance and comfort  to wayward young girls with her motherly advice and frank talks.  Deeply committed to the rehabilitation of troubled children, Judge Anderson held strong opinions against traditional forms of punishment.



Shortly after her appointment, the Judge told an Atlanta Constitution reporter “more harm than good can come from prison confinement and labors in a reformatory as a method of punishment of the young boy and girl.”  “Extreme measures should be resorted to only after probation, change of environment and living conditions have failed to accomplish their purposes,” she added.



Mrs. Anderson applied the same principles of kindness, positiveness and reasonableness with her own children in dealing with delinquent children.  She believed that with these ideals and a lot of understanding, long periods of confinement were unnecessary.    The judge believed that most youthful indiscretions were just that, improprieties which resulted from modern customs and usages and not from an intentional act of a child.



Although she personally disliked the youthful customs of the day, dances, dyed and bobbed hair, Judge Anderson refused to pre judge those juveniles brought before her.  “She vowed to treat them “as kindly and with as such lenience and patience as it is possible under the circumstances.” “I am going to give them all a chance,” she promised.



After fondly seeing to the needs of her quintet of children and while her husband was frequently away from home tending to the rigorous schedule of his railroad duties, Judge Anderson made it her life’s goal of “aiding worthy boys and girls and influencing them toward the paths of righteousness and good citizenship.”



Annie Anderson was a shining star in a galaxy of the grand women of the South.  The judicial search committee could not have made a better choice in nominating Judge Anderson.  What better judge to select than a person who committed their lives to loving and caring for all children as if they were her own.   In this month as we celebrate the history of American women, let us remember Georgia’s first judge who tempered justice with mercy, kindness and a firm belief that a loving hand soothed the troubled soul better than the ruthless whip.




Friday, May 24, 2013

LUCY MAY STANTON


Miniature Artist Extra Ordinaire

Lucy Stanton  found her niche as a miniature artist.  In fact, she became famous both in the United States and around the world.  To prove that assertion,  Lucy Stanton was awarded the highly coveted Bronze Medal of the Society of American Miniature painters, being the first or second woman in America to receive such a distinction.  For one brief term,  this teenage artist taught art at what is now called Middle Georgia State College.  

An artist who worked with oils, pastels and watercolors, Miss Stanton is most recognized for her miniature watercolor portraits on ivory during the Arts and Crafts period at the turn of the 20th Century.   Critics laud her mature style,  innovative use of broad washes and evocative portraits depicting African Americans without sentimentality or prejudice.

Lucy May Stanton was born to William L. and Frances MeGee Stanton, on May 22, 1875.  As a child, Lucy grew up living across the street from the legendary Georgia journalist and writer Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remus tales.  

It is said at the age of four, Lucy began to mold creatures out of modeling clay and  took her first art lessons in New Orleans when she was a mere seven-years-old. 

Lucy became totally captivated with  the arts when she attended Southern Female College in LaGrange, which later became known as Cox College after its removal to College Park.  As an 18-year-old, Lucy accepted a position as an art teacher at the New Ebenezer College in Cochran, which is currently known as Middle Georgia State College.  After serving a one year term during the 1893-1894 school year, Lucy returned to the Atlanta area.

Lucy traveled to Paris, France to receive a formal and very prestigious education in painting. She would remain in the capital of European art for two years until 1898.  Seven years later, Lucy returned to France to further improve her artistic talents.

Stanton's first paying job came in 1896 when she was commissioned to paint miniature portraits of Spanish born opera singer Adelina Patti.  Over her thirty five-year career, Lucy May Stanton would become one of Georgia's premier portrait artists, painting portraits of her former neighbor, Joel Chandler Harris, (LEFT) and the iconic Georgia politician, Howell Cobb, who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the latter of which still hangs in the national capital.

After a single year spent in New York, Lucy Stanton returned to Georgia in 1902 to make her home in Athens, where she would live for most of  the remainder of her life.  By her late twenties, Lucy became a popular artist across the country.  Her works were exhibited in galleries in the largest cities in the world, including London, Paris, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.   

Stanton moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1916, where she painted and taught art for nearly a decade.  

Lucy May Stanton's interests extended beyond the visual arts.  Stanton was highly involved in the social, cultural and political affairs of Athens and the nation. In 1914, she headed the Equal Suffrage League of Athens. 

In 1928, Stanton, along with Jeannette Rankin, helped to co-found the Georgia Peace Society, an organization dedicated to preventing any more wars.  Rankin, the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, voted against the country's entrance into World War I and lead the fight to adopt the 19th Amendment to allow women the right to vote. 

''It was so interesting to me ... She was one of the first people to paint (African Americans) in a serious fashion, without propaganda or sentiment.'' Georgia Museum of Art Curator Betty Alice Fowler told the Athens Banner Herald. 

"She did a lot of stuff that I certainly don't think my grandmother or great-grandmother were doing at the time. She was well educated, clever, smart and talented. She made the most of it,'' Fowler added.  
At the height of her career, Stanton's works were featured in a solo exhibition in Atlanta's High Museum of Art.   

A worldwide acclaimed artist, Lucy May Stanton's seemingly endless list of awards  includes; The Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (Blue Ribbon, Paris, 1906), Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters (Bronze Medal, 1917), Atlanta Art Association (first prize, 1917), Concord Art Association (Medal of Honor, 1923), and National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors (honorable mention, 1925).

More than eighty years after her death in Athens on March 19, 1931, her works are among the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Emory University, and the Georgia Museum of Art.

LAURENS NATIVE IS THE OLDEST PERSON IN THE UNITED STATES


 
    On a fair, warm, late spring day a child was born to Samuel James and Amelia Kurtz.  William McKinley was President of the United States.  On May 23, 2013, some nineteen presidents, fourteen hundred plus full moons and 41,368 sunsets later, that child will celebrate her 114th birthday.  It is on this May day when Jeralean Kurtz Talley reaches yet another milestone in the time line of her longest life.  In fact, Mrs. Talley is the oldest living person in the United States and the oldest known living person on Earth outside of the Island of Japan.  Photo @ Detroit Free Press.

Jeralean, who was among a dozen children of Samuel and Amelia Jones Kurtz, grew up in the outskirts of Montrose, Georgia in western Laurens County, Georgia.  Her grandfather, Andrew J. Kurtz, husband of Rachel Kurtz, was most likely a slave owned by Dr. William J. Kurtz,  who owned nearly two dozen slaves during the Civil War.

Jeralean and her family moved to Inkster, Wayne County, Michigan during a vast migration of African-American farm workers who left Laurens County in the 1920s for Detroit, Michigan. That group includes the family of world champion boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson and Ford Motor Company inventor and innovator, Claude Harvard.  

Jeralean married Alfred Talley, who died in the 1980s.  Although she was from large family,  Jeralean had only one child, a daughter, Thelma Holloway, who is now seventy-five years old. She has three grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. 

As for Talley, she credits her God for her longevity.  When asked by Congressman John Conyers as to what her secret to a long life was, she pointed upward and said, "The good Lord up above. If it wasn't for Him, none of us would be here."

Talley was almost 107 before she moved out of her home and into her daughter's home.  She gave up bowling when she was a mere 104.   And, she scored a very respectable 200 in her last game.  

If all goes well, "Mother" Talley hopes to go on her annual fishing trip with friend Michael Kinloch, which has been scheduled for this Memorial Day weekend. 

"Until recently Talley cooked for herself. She likes fish, squash and banana nut bread, "said her daughter, who added, "Every day she has to have her cup of coffee. The doctor wanted to put her on a diet, but she wouldn't listen.  She doesn't believe in diets," Holloway said. "She eats whatever she wants to eat," Holloway told Candice  Williams of The Detroit News. 

"She loves to share wisdom with younger people," said Pastor Dana Darby of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Inkster, where Talley attends. 

With 114 years behind her Jeralean has many stories to tell.  One of her favorites is the tale of her first and only attempt to drive a car. 

"I tried that one time," in her 30s, she said. 

"I  didn't hit the right one to make it go forward and it went backwards," Talley told Elisha Anderson of The Detroit Free Press.

When her husband Alfred yelled at her, she opened the door and got out of the car and never drove again.

A verified supercentenarian is a person who is at least 110 years old and whose age is documented by at three or more reliable documents as determined by an international body - the most respected organization being the Gerontology Research Group.

The world's oldest verified person ever was a French woman Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122 years, 164 days.   Today, the oldest living person is a  Japanese man,  Jiroemon Kimura, who turned 116 on April 19th.  Misao Okawa, who is 14 and one half months older than Talley, is the world's oldest living female.   As of today, Jeralean Talley stands as the 92nd oldest verified living person since 1955 and is poised to move into 90th place within a week.

Supercentenarians, at least not fully documented ones, are nothing new to Laurens County.  At lest ten former slaves, Madison Moore, Billy Coates, Tempy Stanley, Jack Robinson, Thomas Allen, Isaac Jackson,  Frances Thompkins, Emily Horn, Daisy Wilson and Llewellyn Blackshear, reportedly lived well into their twelfth decades.  

Isaac Jackson died in Montgomery County at the age of one hundred and twenty-two.  Isaac was a former slave of Gov. George M. Troup of Laurens County, who lived on  Troup's Valdosta Plantation in 1846.  Isaac Jackson is credited with being the last surviving slave of President George Washington by the  Hawkinsville Dispatch in its  Oct. 19, 1876 edition. 

Jack Robinson was born during the French and Indian War.  He lived the better part of his life as a slave.  In 1865, at the age of 111, Robinson gained his freedom.  He died in Laurens County in December of 1872.   Jack Robinson had survived many hardships during his lifetime, but in the end the Milledgeville Union Recorder stated that "tobacco was what cut him down in his prime."  He was only 118 years old. 

Aunt Daisy Wilson claimed that she was born in 1804, two years before Laurens County was created.  According to the Macon Telegraph, there were white people who stated that she had authentic records showing that she was 117 years old in the summer of 1922.  Daisy was born into slavery in North Carolina and purchased by John Manson, who brought her to Wilkinson County, where she lived well beyond her 100th birthday.  If her claim could be substantiated, Daisy Wilson may have been the oldest woman in Laurens County history and one of the oldest in the State of Georgia.

Thomas Allen maintained that he was born in 1800 and was 114 years old just before he died on the plantation of Dr. W.B. Taylor, outside of Dexter, Georgia.  Owned by the Giles family, the former slave was a native of Wilkinson County.  Although his age cannot be documented by census records, Dr. Taylor, who knew the old man for many years, did not doubt the accuracy of his claims.

Happy Birthday Mrs.  Jeralean! We hope you catch a big mess of fish.



Friday, April 26, 2013

HENRIETTA STANLEY DULL


FORMER LAURENS LADY NAMED

AS A GEORGIA WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT

Henrietta Stanley Dull, a native of Laurens County, will be named to an elite list of Georgia women as a member of the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame. Henrietta Stanley Dull will be inducted, along with Lollie Belle Moore Wylie and Mary Gregory Jewett, in a ceremony to be held in the Porter Auditorium on the campus of Wesleyan College in Macon on Thursday, March 14, at 11:00 a.m..

Since 1992, the mission of Georgia Women of Achievement has been to recognize and honor Georgia women who made extraordinary contributions within their fields of endeavor, and who will inspire future generations to utilize their own talents. Each year three women are inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement Hall of Fame and the organization now honors over seventy-four outstanding Georgia women.

Long before there was a Betty Crocker (actually she was a fictional person), Julia Child or Paula Deen (of Lady and Sons fame), there was Henrietta Stanley (Mrs. S.R.) Dull. Trained in the art of true southern cooking by former slaves and forced into cooking as profession to support her family, Mrs. Dull was considered by the people of her day as the consummate Southern cook. Her 1928 cook book "Southern Cooking" is still defined by current culinary connoisseurs as the Bible of southern cooking.

Henrietta Celeste Stanley was born on her family's plantation near Chappell's Mill in Laurens County, Georgia on December 6, 1863. Her parents were Eli Stanley and Mary Brazeal. On her father's side, Miss Stanley boasted a fine pedigree which included three colonial governors. On her mother's side of her family, she descended from Solomon Wood, who took an active part in exposing the Yazoo Fraud of 1795.

It was during her early years when she observed the Negro cooks who provided the daily meals for the Stanley family. Born into a wealthy family which had the luxury of a variety of foods, Henrietta was said to have made a hobby of trying each dish she ever heard by duplicating it from memory. In her youth, the women of the house were charged with preparing three meals of day. Leftovers were discarded or fed to pets and there was no such thing as refrigeration. The ladies had to prepare many of the basic ingredients and condiments which we enjoy straight out of a box, jar or can today. Henrietta and her family moved to Flowery Branch, Georgia, where he father worked as a railroad station master. At the age of 23, Henrietta married Samuel Rice Dull of Virginia. The Dulls became the parents of six children.

After a decade of marriage, Mr. Dull began to suffer from mental illnesses. Mrs. Dull found herself in a seemingly overwhelming dilemma. Forced into supporting her children and her ailing husband, Mrs. Dull did the only thing she knew how to do, and that was to cook. Preparing cakes and sandwiches at first for the ladies of her church, Mrs. Dull soon began to sell a large variety of prepared foods out of her home. What started as a way of making ends meet eventually became a successful and profitable venture. Widespread praises led to invitations to plan parties throughout the social circles.

The owners of Atlanta Gas Light Company invited Mrs. Dull to initiate a program of home service to promote the sale and proper use of gas stoves. She always compared a gas range to a husband by proclaiming " you couldn't get the best out of either until you learn how to manage them." Though the theory of home service had been unsuccessful on previous occasions, Mrs. Dull rose to the occasion and championed the program. During this time, Mrs. Dull was chosen to head the Home Economics Department at Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia. She lent her expertise to establish and develop a Domestic Science Department at Girl's High School of Atlanta and later a department for its night school.

During World War I, Henrietta Dull served as a hostess in the Soldier's Recreation House on Peachtree Street. Affectionately known as "Mother Dull," she was a mother and cook to more than fifty thousand dough boys. Two of her sons, Samuel Rice Dull, Jr. and Ira Cornelius Dull, enlisted in the army. Mrs. Dull believed it was her duty to comfort the boys and young men stationed at nearby Camp Gordon in hopes that some Christian mother would do the same for her boys, wherever they may be stationed.

Her success at Atlanta Gas Light led to an offer from the editors of the Sunday Atlanta Journal Magazine to write and edit the Home Economics page of the magazine section. As with all of her previous efforts, Mrs. Dull became an instant success. Her recipes were found in kitchens throughout Georgia. Her cooking expertise soon spread throughout the South and led to invitations to make cooking demonstrations and conduct cooking schools as far north as Delaware. It has been said that she was the pioneer of cooking schools in the South. Requests for copies of her recipes led Mrs. Dull to contemplate compiling her recipes into a comprehensive guide to Southern cooking.

Mrs. Dull's landmark work with its thirteen hundred recipes was simply titled "Southern Cooking." The 400-page book, which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies, was designed to be a practical guide to preparing dishes with items which were readily available in local groceries. "Not once in the whole book will you discover that I had called for the use of an ingredient that any southern housewife can't get by calling up the grocer," Mrs. Dull said. Mrs. Dull's book emphasized the need for making cooking simple with easy to follow directions with exact measurements and cooking times. In her youth, few recipes were put in writing. Directions were often passed by word of mouth and the amount of ingredients were expressed in pinches, dabs and plenty. "Southern Cooking" also features chapters on sample menus, including seasonal and formal selections, as well as chapters on food selection, table service and kitchen equipment. Thirty five years after her book was published, Mrs. Dull was horrified that she omitted a recipe for that staple of Southern cooking, collard greens. Mrs. Dull's book, which was dedicated to her friends, the women of Atlanta and the South, was sold throughout the United States and seven different countries. It is still a popular selection in old book stores and EBay.

Mrs. Dull recalled a time when as a child she bribed the cook to allow her to make some corn pone. For the rest of her life cornbread was still her favorite food (and mine too.) "You can make it thick, ... thin... with lacy edges that get deliciously brown. Oh, I do love corn bread! I suppose I just love cooking," Mrs. Dull said. Mrs. Dull didn't even mind washing dishes because she figured out that washing them in cold water with little soap prevented "dish pan" hands. Among her best tasting dishes were her angel food cakes, called "archangel cakes" to distinguish them from the run of the mill cakes.

After 20 years with the Atlanta Journal, Mrs. Dull retired in 1938. That same year she was listed as one of the twelve most famous women in Georgia. But she wasn't through cooking. For another twenty years and well into her nineties, Mrs. Dull enjoyed cooking for friends and family in times of celebration and in times of grieving. Henrietta Stanley Dull died on January 28, 1964 at the age of one hundred years. Her life was described as one of unselfish service and outstanding achievements. Her sweet disposition and charm endeared her to everyone with whom she came in contact. She is buried in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.

Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter came up with the idea to create an organization dedicated to honoring important women of Georgia's history. The first induction ceremony took place in 1992 at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. With this year's new members there are seventy seven women in the Hall of Fame. For more information about The Georgia Women of Achievement, go to www.georgiawomen.org.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

FRANCES WILLINGHAM - A WOMAN'S STORY OF SLAVERY


Frances could remember the days when she wasn't free. Some seven decades after she received her freedom, she sat down in her home on Bridge Street in Athens with Sadie B. Hornsby to relate her memories of the days when she lived in one room log cabin with a stick and mud chimney. Frances never forgot the day she was free to go were ever she wanted to, when she wanted to. This is her story, in her own words, a woman's story of slavery as she saw it. They are her words, written long ago in interpretation of her own simple dialect.

"I was born way off down in Twiggs County 'bout a mile from the town of Jeffersonville. My Pa and Ma was Otto and Sarah Rutherford," Frances recalled. There were nine children and parents living in a meager hut they called their home. "Our bedsteads was made out of rough planks and poles and some of 'em was nailed to de sides of de cabins," Frances remembered. The mattresses were stuffed with wheat straw while it was in season. "When dat was used up us got grass from de fields. Most any kind of hay was counted good 'nough to put in a slave's mattress," Mrs. Willingham said. "Dey let us mix some cotton wid de hay our pillows," she added.

In her four years of slavery, Frances was somewhat exempt from toiling in the fields. "Us chillun never done much but play 'round de house and yards wid de white chillun. I warn't but four years old when dey made us free," she reminisced.

Frances could still remember her grandmothers and aunts. "I remember once Grandma Suck, she wes my Ma's mammy, come to our house and stayed one or two days wid us. Daddy's Ma was named Puss." Both of her grandmothers were field hands, but her mother worked in the house carding and spinning threads. Her aunt Phoebe weaved the threads onto cloth and her Polly sewed the cloth into threads.

As a child, Frances never had any money. "Nobody never give slave chillun no money in dem times. I never had none 'til atter us had done been give our freedom." But, she did see the money that her master Elisha Jones had. " I used to see Old Marster countin' of it, but de slaves never did git none of dat money. "

Frances spoke somewhat highly of her master. " Our Old Marster was a pow'ful rich man, and he sho' b'lieved in givin' us plenty to eat. It warn't nothin' fine, but it was good plain eatin' what filled you up and kept you well. Dere was cornbread and meat, greens of all sorts, 'taters, roas'en-ears and more other kinds of veg'tables dan I could call up all day. Marster had one big old gyarden whar he kept most evything a-growin' 'cept cabbages and 'matoes. He said dem things warn't fittin' for nobody to eat."

Jones trusted Otto enough to let him go hunting on his won. One delicacy in Frances' family was possum. Her family had to cook everything in an open fireplace. I've seen Ma clean many a 'possum in hot ashes. Den she scalded him and tuk out his innards. She par-boiled and den baked him and when she fetched him to de table wide a heap of sweet 'taters 'round him on de dish, dat was sho' somepin good to eat," Mrs. Willingham fondly recalled.

As a child slave, her clothes were at least decent. In summer, the girl slaves wore homespun dresses, with full skirts sewed tight to fit their waists and fastened down on their backs with buttons made out of cows and rams horns. "Our white petticoat slips and pantalettes was made on bodices. In winter us wore balmorals what had three stripes 'round de bottom, and over dem us had on long sleeved ap'ons what was long as de balmorals. Slave gals' pantalettes warn't ruffled and tucked and trimmed up wid lace and 'broidery lak Miss Polly's chilluns' was," Frances concluded.

The adult slaves on the Jones' plantation wore rough brogan. Frances and the other children wore the hand me down shoes that the Jones children had outgrown. "Dey called 'em Jackson shoes, 'cause dey was made wid a extra wide piece of leather sewed on de outside so as when you knocked your ankles 'gainst one another, it wouldn't wear no holes in your shoes. Our Sunday shoes warn't no different from what us wore evvyday," Frances said.

Elisha and Mary Jones were wealthy by most standards. In the year before the Civil War began, Jones owned $20,000 worth of real estate and $36,500.00 of personal property including slightly more than fifty slaves.

"Marse Lish Jones and his wife--she was Miss Polly--was our Marster and Mist'ess. Dey sho' did love to be good to us. Dey had five chillun of deir own, two gals and three boys. Dey was: Mary, Anna Della, Steve, John, and Bob. 'Bout deir house! Oh, Missus, dat was somepin to see for sho'.

Frances remembered the Jones's plantation house near the Town of Marion, then the capital of Twiggs County. "It was a big old fine two-story frame house wid a porch 'cross de front and 'round both sides. Dere was five rooms on de fust floor and three upstairs. It sho' did look grand a-settin' back dar in dat big old oak grove," the old slave woman looked back.

Mrs. Willingham vividly recalled her old master, "Old Master had a overseer but he never had no carriage driver 'cause he loved to drive for himself so good." Willingham said that she never saw her master do anything except drive his carriage, walk a little and eat all that he wanted to because he was rich man and didn't have to do anything. She recalled that the plantation was very large and although she couldn't remember just how many slaves lived and worked there, she did remark, "Dat old plantation was plumb full of 'em."

Field work was hard. ""Our overseer got all de slaves up 'fore break of day and dey had to be done et deir breakfast and in de field when de sun rise up," Willingham remembered. The slaves would work all day past twilight before they came back to their quarters to eat supper and rest.

Whippings on the Jones place were somewhat rare, at least Frances never saw one. She did remember the dime when she climbed on top of the porch of the big house and flapped her arms and crowed like a rooster. " Dey told me to come on down, but I wouldn't mind nobody and kept on a-crowin' and a-flappin', so dey whupped me down," Willingham remarked.

Frances and the other slaves, although a few miles from the nearest battle at Griswoldville, saw the war coming to an end. Although she was barely four years old, she told her interviewers, "Mercy me! I'se seed plenty of dem yankees a-gwine and comin'. Dey come to our Marster's house and stole his good mules. Dey tuk what dey wanted of his meat, chickens, lard and syrup and den poured de rest of de syrup out on de ground.," Mrs. Willingham remembered.

Free from all the helpless despair of seemingly eternal bondage, Frances Willingham was no better off than she was before she was granted her freedom. She had little that she could truly call her own. Slaves had their freedom, but had little choice of where to go and how to scratch out a living. Many of the things the former slaves had provided for them were now gone or beyond the reach of their somewhat less than meager incomes would allow. Although legally free, many of the slaves remained on the plantations and continued to see their former masters as still their masters.


Education was almost nonexistent in those days for black children. "I ain't never been to school a day in my life, 'cause when I was little, black children weren't allowed to read and write," she remembered.

Going to church was different too. Before the war, slaves and their masters worshiped in the same church. After the war, congregations were ironically segregated. "Colored folks had their own church in a settlement called John the Baptist," Willingham remembered in recalling that she and the other children loved going to baptisms. "Day took dem converts to a hole in de crick what day had got ready for dat purpose. De preacher went fust, and den he called for de converts to come on in and have deir sins washed away," she said.

Funerals were primitive as well. Willingham explained that Elijah Jones had set apart a burying ground for his slaves adjoining his own family's cemetery. "Us didn't know nothin' 'bout no fun'rals. When one of de slaves died, dey was put in unpainted home-made coffins and tuk to de graveyard whar de grave had done been dug. Dey put 'em in dar and kivvered 'em up and dat was all dey done 'bout it," Willingham recalled.

Frances reminisced about a single wedding on her master's plantation. She never forgot the day when Miss Polly gave her one of little Miss Mary's dresses to wear to the wedding. "Only dey never had no real weddin'. Dey was jus' married in de yard by de colored preacher and dat was all dere was to it," she recollected.

Frances Willingham fondly recalled Christmas times in her youth. She remembered going to bed early because she and the other children were afraid that Santa Claus wouldn't come to see them. "Us carried our stockin's up to de big house to hang 'em up. Next mornin' us found 'em full of all sorts of good things, 'cept oranges. I never seed nary a orange 'til I was a big gal," she reminisced.

Food was plentiful in holiday times. "Miss Polly had fresh meat, cake, syrup puddin' and plenty of good sweet butter what she 'lowanced out to her slaves at Christmas. Old Marster, he made syrup by de barrel. Plenty of apples and nuts and groundpeas was raised right dar on de plantation. In de Christmas, de only work slaves done was jus' piddlin' 'round de house and yards, cuttin' wood, rakin' leaves, lookin' atter de stock, waitin' on de white folks and little chores lak dat," she remembered. Hard work resumed on the day after New Year's Day.

Medical care, although primitive at best, was available, if only on a limited basis. Of those days, Willingham recalled, "White folks was mighty good and kind when deir slaves got sick. Old Marster sont for Dr. 'Pree (DuPree) and when he couldn't git him, he got Dr. Brown. He made us swallow bitter tastin' powders what he had done mixed up in water. Miss Polly made us drink tea made out of Jerusalem oak weeds. She biled dem weeds and sweetened de tea wid syrup. Dat was good for stomach trouble, and us wore elder roots strung 'round our necks to keep off ailments," Mrs. Frances remarked.

The women of Frances Willingham's day had little rest, even after leaving the fields. She recalled that when the slaves came in from the field, the women cleaned the houses after they eat and washed clothes early in the morning so that they would be dry for the next day. She remembered that the grown men would eat, sit around and talk to other men and then go to bed.

Saturday nights were a time to frolic. Quitting time came around three or four o'clock in the afternoon. "Sadday nights de young folks got together to have deir fun. Dey danced, frolicked, drunk likker, and de lak of dat. Old Marster warn't too hard on 'em no time, but he jus' let 'em have dat night to frolic. On Sunday he give dem what wanted 'em passes to go to church and visit 'round," she reminisced.

Jones allowed his workers little rest from the time crops were planted until they were harvested. "My master did allow us slaves to have cornshuckin's, cornshellin's, cotton pickin's, and quiltin's," said Mrs. Willingham. Jones's groves of pecan, chestnut, walnuts and other trees were lucrative . When all the nuts were gathered, Jones sold them to the rich people in the cities. Afterwards, he gave his slaves a big feast with plenty to drink. After a long celebration, Jones allowed the slaves a few days to recover before resuming their grueling duties.

In her final years, Frances Willingham reflected on her freedom, "Me, I's so' glad Mr. Lincoln sot us free." She believed that if she was still a slave, that she work just the same, sick or not. "Now I don't have to ax nobody what I kin do. Dat's why I's glad I's free," Willingham concluded.

After leaving the Jones plantation, Frances moved to Putnam County, Georgia, where she married Green Willingham, of neighboring Jasper County. "I didn't have no weddin'. Ma jus' cooked a chicken for us, and I was married in a white dress. De waist had ruffles 'round de neck and sleeves," she said as she looked back to her wedding day.

Frances Willingham lived a long life. She worked hard to provide for her seven boys and ten girls. Then as she got older she did all she could to look after her 19 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.

In this month of March when we celebrate Women's History Month, let us look back and reflect on all the Frances Willinghams of the world, who toiled and worked with little rest to provide for their families as best as they could.