Confederate Memorial Associations were formed throughout the South and as the veterans began to slowly pass away there was an increased need to recognize these men and the sacrifice they made. Early newspapers recorded in 1898 said,” The Confederate Veterans of DeKalb County are preparing to erect an imposing monument to the memory of the Confederate dead of that county”1. It was on January 1907, the one hundredth anniversary of Robert E Lee, the Clement Evans Camp of Confederate Veterans and the Agnes Lee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy held exercises at the Dekalb County Courthouse. The Speaker of the day was Reverend J Gray McAllister, the president of the Hampton-Sidney College in Virginia. After Dr. McAlister made his speech to the group, the Confederate Memorial Association was organized. On September 1907 it was announced the monument was ready and to be unveiled on November 1907. The shaft was 34 feet high and was finished at the Butler Marble and Granite Company in Marietta, Georgia. It will bear a simple inscription, Soldiers and Sailors of DeKalb.” Mentioned again was the Monument Association being organized on Lee’s Birthday. On November 5th 1907 the Camp Walker United Confederate Veterans made plans to attend the unveiling as ordered by their commander F.A. Hilburn. Transportation will be furnished and members will appear in uniform and badge.
Reported on November 6th 1907, there was a snap and a thud that could be heard for blocks around the city of Decatur. The base and die for the confederate monument had been carefully placed. The remaining work was to simply set up the shaft of the monument by using a derrick but suddenly the rope snapped and the monument fell. As a result the monument shaft ended up laying in two pieces on the ground. It was estimated the shaft was approximately twenty foot tall. The broken shaft lay at the foot of the base. The contractors guaranteed to deliver it erected. The resulting accident caused the unveiling to be delayed indefinitely. There was a lot of concern an upset in the community.
By the following year, reported on March 10th, 1908, the monument has been repaired and preparations are again made for the unveiling. Miss Rebecca Candler daughter of Honorable Murphy Candler will handle the unveiling. The community anticipates fair weather. A great crowd of people from far and wide are expected including many veterans. General Andrew Jackson West and other prominent veterans are expected to attend. General Clement Evans will arrive to represent the veterans and Honorable Hooper Alexander will be the designated speaker. School children from across DeKalb will be press along with the cadets of Donald Fraser High School and the students of Agnes Scott College. It is noted several hundred dollars is still lacking in the monument fund. The monument association hopes to raise the funds before the unveiling. The fund was at $1,500 dollars previous year in 1907 and hopes were raised at reaching at least $2000 by the unveiling.
The Agnes Lee United Daughters of the Confederacy have extended an invitation for Miss Alice Baxter, Georgia State President of the Untied Daughters, to attend the festivities. According to current records from Mrs. Sybil Willoughby, the Agnes Lee Chapter made a generous donation of $100 to the monument fund. It was noted that the monument association wanted to make the subscriptions as public as possible and thus no large sum of money was accepted and nearly every school in the county sent in a donation.4 Many school children will take part and people of all kinds will be at the unveiling. It was noted that more than one thousand school children contributed to the fund.9 It was loyalty, affection and appreciation that inspired nearly two thousand people to contribute a monument to the heroes of Dekalb.
The day finally came April 25th, 1907 ,but it was not without problems. A violent storm ravaged much of Georgia and the South. The town of Lytle, Georgia was nearly destroyed with deaths in Rome, Cave Springs, Cedartown, Greenville, Chipley, Griffin, Columbus, Hamilton and Newnan. A few homes in Atlanta were damaged but no lives were lost. It was reported this was the first real tornado that ever struck Atlanta. The storm struck on the evening of Friday April 25th and wreaked havoc into the following Saturday. If the situation was not bad enough, the newspapers spoke of a terrible train accident due to the heavy rains of the following Friday. The railway trestle near Tucker was undermined by the heavy rains causing freight train No. 692 of the Seaboard Airline Railroad to plunge through the trestle and into the raging creek below. Two men, which included the engineer Samuel Neisler, were killed. Had it not been for a man named Maynard who was riding the rods of train No. 692, another passenger train from Atlanta would have crashed. Maynard managed to warn the oncoming train of the disaster by waving a handkerchief. The engineer of the passenger train saw the warning, reversed the engine and brought the train to a sudden stop. The passengers and remaining train employees were rescued by a relief train.
In spite of all the events going on around the State the people at the unveiling of the monument were perhaps unaware or unwilling to become undaunted. A great throng of people attended the festivities at the court house square. April 25, 1908 was to be a memorable date in DeKalb’s history. The exercises surrounding this great event had over one thousand people in attendance. The event began precisely at 10:00 AM as Mr. Charles D McKinney presided over the event and at 10:15, Reverend W. H. Young led the group in prayer. Mr. C Murphey Candler gave a brief history of the monument. Mrs. W. F. Holleyman, the president of the Agnes Lee Chapter of the UDC presented crosses of honor to three Confederate Veterans John P. Ray, G F Marbutt and E. A. Beauchamp. Miss Alice Baxter praised the Agnes Lee Chapter for their work and the crowd was so large that her speech was repeated so that it might be heard.
Describing the event we see that the decorated platform was provided for the speakers. Wreathes of flowers were placed at the base of the monument. The A line of youthful cadets from the David Fraser school stood at attention in khaki uniforms. The young women were dressed in white pulled gently on the white veil revealing a monument of gray Georgia granite and of beautiful design. The aged veterans bared their heads and the strains of Maryland, My Maryland were heard. Suddenly a cheer rose out as perhaps a rebel yell from the throng. Confederate flags were waved as the soldiers smiled and little children laughed. Wedemeyer’s band furnished music playing ,”The Bonnie Blue, Flag,” “America,” Maryland aMy Maryland” And “Dixie”, There were banners displayed for both the Stonewall Camp if Fulton and the Clement Evans Camp of DeKalb. Captain Tip Harrison led the puclic school children in a spirited Confederate Song which was heartily applauded.
The event officially ended at 12:20 PM. The Donald Fraser cadets and the school children marched from the ceremony to the cemetery to mark the graves of Confederate Soldiers. One of the most noticeable feature of the occasion was the presence of old veterans and young children. The monument was considered to be a tribute from the coming generation to that of the past.9
The principle speaker of the occasion was Honorable Alexander Sooper and his speech in part was included on page 4 of Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 25, 1908, Image 4. Many of the monument detractors point to this speech and a comment on the monument involving race. Hooper said, “ Altho my life, politically and personally, has been in constant strife with the leaders of our Southern people, yet, as I grow older, I have learned, not only to respect and esteem,, but to love the great qualities which being to my fellow citizens of the Southern states. They are a noble race. We may well take pattern from them in some of the great virtues which make up the strength as they make up the glory of free states. Their love of home; their delicate sense of honor; their constancy which can abide by an opinion or a purpose of interest of their states, through adversity and through prosperity, through the years and thru generations, are things which the North may take a lesson. But this April Day, after 43 years have been busy at the task of gathering home the sons and daughters who have so loved her well we sat here on this hill today a shaft of granite rock dug from the old red soil of Georgia and in the face of it with chisels it is graven that Another generation bears witness To the Future that these men were of a covenant keeping race, who held fast the faith as it was given by the fathers of the republic.” The mention of race refers to the citizens of Southern States which includes all races and walks of life.
General Clement Evans also delivered his address which was included on page 5 of Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 25, 1908. “One significant event which occurred in the patriotic movement in DeKlab county to erect the Confederate Monument has made a splendid memorial structure a conspicuous symbol. I allude to the breaking of a cable when the first column was being raised, causing a crash which broke it into fragments. For a moment the disastrous fall was deeply deplored, but in the next moment the people remembered the living truth which their monument would commemorate was not lost by the fall. They stood reverently around the marble ruins and at once resolved to place a new spokesman on the unmoved foundation to symbolize the indestructible truth of the great Confederate movement. Therefore we see a new shaft standing erect on the old firm foundation, while a new special glory roabes and crowns its form. It speaks today not only of the times when heroic sacrifice were made for the truth as it was, but it proclaimes the firm purpose of all Southern people to join al other patriots to perpetuate for posterity the truth as it is.
It should be noted that the following day Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 27, 1908, Image 3 a memorial shaft was erected at Washington, Georgia on the courthouse square. General Andrew J West also attended this events. The Ladies memorial Association, Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Veterans were in attendance. Coloenl Robert E Lee spoke to veterans at Griffin, Georgia with large memorial day festivities. Students decorated the graves of veterans in Oxford, gerogia as they also did in Macon, Georgia with several veterans in attendance. The United Daughters served dinner to veterans in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Children of the Confederacy marked graves in Eatonton, Georgia. The above is to illustrate DeKalb’s monument unveiling was one of many going on in the state where there was no mention of the Atlanta Race riot of 1906 or the Jim Crow laws.
First Brigade Commander
The members of the Confederate memorial Association are listed below
Charles D McKinney. Association President Born 1873 was over Dekalb Board of Trade 1911
C Murphey Candler Association Vice President of Decatur, DeKalb County, Ga. Born in Decatur, DeKalb County, Ga., March 17, 1858. Lawyer; member of Georgia state house of representatives, 1886-1904, 1907-08; member of Georgia state senate, 1905-06; Railroad Commission, 1909-22. Presbyterian. Member, Freemasons. Died in Decatur, DeKalb County, Ga., August 7, 1935 (age 77 years, 143 days).
James D George Association Second Vice President
Charles Whiteford Smith Third Vice President lawyer, state senator and appeals court judge
Benjamin F Burgess Secretary and treasurer clerk for DeKalb Superior Court Ben Franklin Burgess was County Clerk of DeKalb County from 1903 through 1935.
Major W J Houston Sr. Doctor Washington Jackson Houston
Isaac Newton Nash His occupations were listed as: farmer, teacher, and tax collector. 38th Georgia Company K Enlisted March 1, 1862. Wounded July 1, 1863 in the left hand by grape shot during the battle of Gettysburg. His hand was later amputated. He received the Southern Cross of Honor, of Stone Mountain, who for 16 years was tax collector of DeKalb county, died Saturday at 12:30 o’clock at his home. He had been ill for several months. Mr. Nash was 70 years old. He is survived by his wife, one daughter, six grandchildren, two brothers and two sisters. Funeral and interment will take place Monday at Stone Mountain.
S A Morris Possible Sampson(Samuel) A Morris of the WHT Walker Camp UCV Confederate Veteran and businessman
F L Hudgins Confederate Veteran 38th Georgia Infantry Company K
Mrs. Alice H Billups wife of Lanier Billups, prominent DeKalb Citicen
Mrs Virginia Sanders Steward Biographical Sketches of John Barnett Steward and Martha Rowland Steward: John Barnett Steward, a lifelong resident of DeKalb County, was born on January 16, 1833 to Elijah Greene and Annie Alford Steward. His paternal grandfather, Absalom Steward, was one of the five original justices on the inferior court of DeKalb County. Prior to the Civil War, Steward practiced law in Decatur. At the outbreak of the war, he joined the Confederate Army, attaining the rank of Colonel. Afterwards, he returned to practice law in DeKalb County, but also farmed and operated a grist and saw mill. From 1866-1867, he served as the Solicitor-General of the DeKalb County Court, and served three terms as Ordinary. At the time of his death, he was serving his first term in the lower house of the State legislature. In 1858, he married Mary Jane Dean (1836-1886) and they had several children. After her death on January 22, 1886, he married Martha Virginia (“Jennie”) Sanders Rowland, the widow of Samuel John Rowland (d.1884). A native of Opelika, Alabama, Rowland served with the LaGrange Light Guards during the war. The family moved to the Atlanta area sometime after the war, and after her husband’s death in 1884, Jennie resided in Decatur. Her one surviving son, Henry Sanders Rowland (d.1943), worked at the Weekes Grocery Store in Decatur before becoming the first bookkeeper of the Coca-Cola Company. He later worked as manager of a tire and rubber company.
Miss Kate Ansley – Possible descendant of Major David Henry Ansley- Name associated with Ansley Park. Miss Ansley was a DeKalb socialite attending many weddings and social activities.
John Hooper Alexander of Decatur, DeKalb County, Ga. Born in Rome, Floyd County, Ga., October 6, 1858. Lawyer; U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, 1913-21. Died in Decatur, DeKalb County, Ga., May 23, 1934 (age 75 years, 229 days).
“Vets to Build Monument”, Athens Daily Banner, Jan. 27, 1898 — page 3, Athens, Georgia H.H. Carlton Editor, T W Reed City Editor, H J Rowe Lessee and Business Manager
The Atlanta Georgian. (Atlanta, GA.) 1906-1907, January 17, 1907, Image 3
Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 18, 1907, Image 4
“DeKalb Heroes to be Honored by a Tall Marble Shaft”, Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, September 21, 1907, Image 5
“Camp Walker Veterans “Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, November 05, 1907, Image 7
“Contractor must replace Shaft,” Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, November 06, 1907, Image 5
“ A New Monument is Now Completed.” Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, March 10, 1908, Image 3
“Personal Mention.” Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 24, 1908, Img 9
“Unveil Monument to Hero Dead At Decatur Saturday”. Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 25, 1908, Image 2
“General Clement A. Evans Delivers a Fine Address at Unveiling of Monument. Atlanta Georgian and news. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1912, April 25, 1908, Image 5