Look Back at Milledgeville, GA

  a county near the centre of Georgia, has an area of 257 square miles. It is intersected by the Oconee, bounded on the N. by Little river, and also drained by Black Camp and Fishing creeks. The surface is generally hilly excepting the southern part: the dividing line between the primary and tertiary formations passes through the county in a N. E. and S. W. direction. The soil in the vicinity of the river is fertile, and in some other parts much worn. Indian corn, wheat, oats, sweet potatoes, cotton, peaches, and grapes are the staples. In 1850 the county produced 255,910 bushels of corn; 20,962 of oats; 47,127 of sweet potatoes, and 4443 bales of cotton. It contained in that year 1 cotton factory, 1 tannery, and several mills. There were 6 churches, and 5 newspaper establishments; 218 pupils attending academies or other schools. A branch of the Central railroad passes through the county. Milledgeville is the county seat, and capital of the state. Named in honor of Abraham Baldwin, United States senator from Georgia. Population, 8148, of whom 3566 were free, and 4602, slaves.

  a small village of Baldwin county, Georgia, about 158 miles N. W. from Savannah.

  a post-office of Baldwin co. Ga.

  a pleasant village of Baldwin county, Georgia, on the railroad from Milledgeville to Gordon, 1 1/2 miles S. from the former. It is the seat of Oglethorpe University, (Presbyterian,) a flourishing institution, founded in 1838. Pop., about 300.

  capital of the state of Georgia, and seat of justice of Baldwin county, is situated on the W. bank of the Oconee river, 158 miles N.W. from Savannah, and 659 miles S. W. from Washington. Lat. 33° 7' 20" N., lon. 83° 19' 45" W. It is surrounded by a beautiful and fertile cotton country, and contains a number of handsome residences. The Oconee river furnishes excellent water-power here, and was once navigated below by small steamers, but these are now superseded by railroads. A branch railroad, 17 miles long, extends S. to Gordon, on the Central railroad, and another extends in the opposite direction to Eatonton. The state house is a fine Gothic edifice. Milledgeville contains a penitentiary, an arsenal of the state, a court house, 4 or 5 churches, 1 academy, and 1 bank. Five newspapers are published here. Population, about 3500.

  a small village of Baldwin co., Georgia, on the railroad from Milledgeville to Gordon, 4 miles S. from the former.

source: ancestry.com

Milledgeville 1836

170 occupied houses
1599 inhabitants
14 dry goods stores
twenty grocers, wholesale and retail
offices, shops
5 doctors
15 lawyers
Atlanta Constitution, July 27 1891
Description of Milledgeville 1851

MILLEDGEVILLE; a post-town, capital of Baldwin county, and metropolis of the state of Georgia situated on the west bank of the Oconee, in lat. 33 degrees 6 minutes  N; 83 degrees 20 minutes W. It is 87 miles south-west of Augusta. The public buildings area state-house, a state arsenal, an academy, a court-house, a jail, four printing-offices, and houses of worship for Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians. A branch of the state bank, and one of the Darien bank, are located here. Four weekly paprs are published. The river here is 552 feet wide, 6 feet deep, and is navigable for boats of 70 tons. Above the town are rapids. About 8000 bags of cotton are annually deposited here, for the Darien and Savannah markets. The population of Milledgeville has not increased for several years. In 1824, it was estimated at 2000. The village of Macon, 35 miles southwest of Milledgeville, has become the principal scene of business for this part of the state, and the political metropolis has ceased to be regarded with interest by new settlers. (See Sherwood's Gazetteer of Georgia.)

source: Encyclopædia americana. A popular dictionary of arts, sciences, literature, history, politics and biography, a new ed.; including a copious collection of original articles in American biography; on the basis of the 7th ed. of the German Conversations-lexicon. Ed. by Francis Lieber, assisted by E. Wigglesworth ...13 v. 23cm. Boston, Mussey & co., 1851.

1854 Milledgeville
City, capital of the state, and seat of justice of Baldwin co. 187 miles N. W. from Savannah, and 89 W.S.W. from Augusta. It is situated on hte W. side of Oconee River, at the head of navigatoin, and at the junction of Fishing Creek, 193 miles N. from Darien, at the mouth of the river. The city is built upon an uneven surface, but is laid out with great regularity, having 10 streets running parallel with the river, and 10 others intersecting them at right angles, all of which are 100 feet wide, except Washington Street, in the centre, which is 120 feet in length. There are 3 public squares, each 450 feet on a side, called State House Square, Governor's Square, and Penitentiary Square. In the centre of State House Square, which is in an elevated part of the city, about three fourth's of a mile from the river, stands the state house; which is a handsome Gothic edifice, erected in 1828, at a cost of $115,000. On the square also is an academy, an arsenal, and a powder magazine. There are churches of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist denominations.
  Milledgeville was laid out in 1803. The first house, of logs, was built the next year, and the first frame house in 1805. A railroad, 17 miles long, to Gordon, connects Milledgeville with the long railroad route from Savannah to Macon.

1860 Look at Milledgeville


        IN addition to what I have said in my "Notes on Georgia," of December, 1858, respecting the city of Milledgeville, I find myself employed most pleasurably in again recurring to the same subject. Were there no other reasons for giving further description of this city, the fact of its being the capital " of the Empire State of the South'," gives it sufficient importance to claim a place in the REVIEW. There are other reasons, however, which impress me with the necessity of again bringing this city to the kind notice of our readers.
       The capital is situated on the west side of the Oconee River, distant 659 miles south-west of the Federal Capital, and 158 miles north-west of Savannah. It was not incorporated as a city until the year 1836, but the legislature has held its sessions here since the year 1807.
       The town of Louisville was formerly the seat of government, until its removal to this place.
       The State house stands upon the highest point of an elevated plat, called the Capital Grounds, and is a solid-looking and fine Gothic edifice of brick, and stuccoed, with some degree of architectural skill, at a cost of about $200,000. In it is contained the executive office, that of the secretary of state, treasurer, comptroller-general, and surveyor-general. In the same building is an extensive law library, containing the statutes and reports of all the States, and various other books.
        The senate chamber is a room of about 60 feet square. The walls are adorned with the portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Win. It. Crawford, Ex-Governor George M. Troup, and Ex-Governor John Clark. The most attractive pictures are the living ones, who adorn the gallery, a fair representation of the beautiful ladies of Georgia, who are listening with much attention to the debates of the senators on the floor.
        The representative hall is larger than the senate chamber. Above and immediately in the rear of the speaker's chair is suspended the portrait of Ex-Governor James Jackson; on the right, that of Benjamin Franklin, and on the left, that of Marquis De Lafayette.
       The capital grounds are covered with Bermuda grass, and enclosed with a neat wooden fence.
       Not far from the capital stands the arsenal, an inferior brick building, and is going to decay from neglect.
       The executive mansion is situated in the western portion of the city, built of brick, and stuccoed, at a cost of about $80,000, together with the lot, and various repairs and improvements up to January, 1859.
       TheState penitentiary is also located in the western part of the city. The outer walls of the penitentiary are made of brick, averaging 20 feet in height, by 2} feet in thickness, containing within the walls 2+ acres. The cells, or prison proper, are contained in a three-story granite) building, 200x30. They are on each side, and divided into four wards. There is in the enclosure a two-story building, of brick, 40 feet square, in which are apartments for the sick female convicts.
      The State lunatic asylum is about 1 1/2  miles distant from the capitol, is built of brick, and stuccoed, at a cost of about $325,000, and has a centre building 115 feet high. flanked on each side by wings 160 feet each, making an entire front of 480 feet. It is lighted by gas, has large refreshment rooms, billiard rooms, (donated by a man of Savannah), public parlors, &c., &c. Extent of ground at present belonging to the asylum is 1,250 acres.
      Milledgeville is surrounded by a beautiful and once fertile country, and contains a number of handsome residences.
The Oconee River, above mentioned, furnishes excellent water-power here, and was once navigated below by small steamers. but these are now superseded by railroads.  A branch railroad extends south to Gordon, on the Central Railroad, and another extends in the opposite direction to Eatonton.
     A bill is pending in the Legislature, now in session, to extend the Eatonton Railroad to Madison on the Georgia Railroad. When this is completed, the capital will be, by railroad, almost in the centre of the State, as it is already geographically so. There is also a railroad contemplated direct from Milledgeville to the city of Augusta, by way of Sparta and Warrenton. I learn that the Georgia Railroad is negotiating at present for the survey of this latter road.
     There is 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist, I Episcopalian, 1 Presbyterian, and 1 African Church, all supplied every Sabbath by able and faithful ministers, who frequently alternate with the able divines, who compose the faculty of Oglethorpe University. There are no public schools of much note here. The private tutors and private schools have monopolized this department. These, with the educational advantages of Midway, furnish ample means for the acquirement of a first-class education.
       There are two bank agencies here; one for the Planters' Bank, and the other for the Bank of Savannah. These, with the State treasury, furnish ample means to carry on the commerce of this place, which is by no means inconsiderable, there being about 200 bales of cotton per day sold here during the cotton season.
       There are two daily (and during the session of the legislature) two weekly newspapers, the Federal Union, and the Southern Recorder, representing the democratic and the opposition parties. The editors are all gentlemanly scholars, true to the Union, and particularly to their native State.
       Oglethorpe University, above mentioned, is in a flourishing state, and is rapidly growing in public favor. It is situated on a dry, elevated and healthy eminence, called the Midway Hill, one and a-half miles south of the capital, and is surrounded by a population of refined and excellent private families, with the most intelligent, elegant and queenly young ladies I had ever the pleasure to meet. And how could it be otherwise, when they daily mingle with young gentlemen, the representatives of the first families of Georgia. South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, &c., &c. The place is retired, and admirably situated
for the seat of the Muses.
       The faculty of the college are men of high scientific and literary acquirements, courteous and gentlemanly in manners, liberal in sentiments, and enthusiastically devoted to their profession as instructors of youth. They have always a fine collection of students under their care. The organization of the institution is eminently suited to remove many of the objections offered against denominational colleges, as being limited in their sphere of action, restricted in their patronage, and low in their standard of scholarship. It is under the joint care of the three Presbyterian synods of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama; Georgia and
Florida being embraced in one synod, so that the Presbyterian Church of the Southern States are united in its support
     The Board of Trustees are amongst the most eminent and enlightened men, lay and clerical, of those states; and the Presbyterians have always been celebrated for their liberal patronage of the cause of letters. The graduates of this college are taking rank among the most eminent in all the walks of life. One interesting feature of this college is the large number of teachers it sends out, sixteen from one late graduating class having devoted themselves to this useful employment. The college has an endowment of $90,000, much of which has been raised for the establishment of free scholarships, appropriated to the education of poor and promising youth.

Source: Department of Miscellany Pages: 110-119. Debow's review, Agricultural, commercial, industrial progress and resources. / Volume 28, Issue 1 J. D. B. DeBow. New Orleans [etc.] July 1860

Baldwin County & Milledgeville 1870's

"Baldwin--Population in 1870, 10,618--3,844 white, 6,744 black; 62 per cent. of tillable land cleared, 90 per cent. of field laborers black; 18 free public schools for whites, 16 for blacks; Baptist churches 4, Methodist 5, Presbyterian 1, Episcopal 1, Roman Catholic 1--all for whites; blacks have about same number; one large cotton factory in county.

Milledgeville, the capital town, is on south bank of Oconee river, is market town for the county, at crossing of two railroads; has a population of 4,000--1828 white, 2,172 black; 500 private dwellings, 1 hotel, 1 bank, 9 churches, 7 schools with 145 scholars, 2 weekly newspapers, 9 dry goods stores, 22 grocery stores, 2 drug stores, 4 physicians, 7 lawyers and 2 dentists. "

source: A manual of Georgia for the use of immigrants and capitalists / prepared under the direction of Thomas P. Janes, commissioner of agriculture. author: Georgia. Dept. of Agriculture; Janes, Thomas P. extent: ii, 119 p. ; 21 cm. publication: Atlanta: [s.n.], 1878


A Stroll Among the Tombs-The Ancient Cemetery and Some of Its Landmarks-
Pictures of AnteBellum Days-Its Noble Modern Institutions-Other News Briefly Told

Milledgeville, Ga., December 25 - (Special Correspondence) Today I enjoyed a rare good time. Among the hills of Middle Georgia, and along the broad streets of quaint old Milledgeville, I wandered around in a delicious dallying, gazing on the ancient landmarks of forgotten days.
    The weather was perfect. It was the balminess of June spending its golden glamour over mid-winter scenes. The bare branches of the elms, and the velvety green of the cedars and pines, were brought out in vivid contrast, clothing the rolling hills, glowing with the crimson blush of sunset. I think they are the reddest hills I ever saw.
  With a party of friends I rode down one of the principal streets, and many were the historic mansions pointed out by our genial guide. One of the most noticeable of these is the old Jarett home, a lordly structure, built in the old southern style, with a wonderful grove of cedars and evergreens in the ample grounds in front. Clumps of shrubbery, grass plots and cozy nooks abound, and a long avenue used to lead down to the street toward the old executive mansion. It is somewhat changed now. The modern idea of progress and improvement was usurped, the place of the old-time dignity, and a smart new dwelling is going up in the front portion of the grounds, hiding from view the hoary homestead, old and gray, that sits back like some typical aristocrat of the old regime, preferring the solace of secluding to the undignified rush of the modern sort.
      Many are the mansions of the same sort, observable at every turning. Each old dwelling has a history of its own. The very spirit of legendary lore hovers about those lichen-covered pillars that are ranged along the broad piazzas, and the worn doorsteps that have echoed to the manly tread of Georgia's noblest men, and the vaulted halls that have rung with the silver-toned voices of her fairest women. The old chimneys rear their tall heads high above the buildings, and the gray plastering reminds one of the solidity of a stone wall. Looked at from the outside they also suggest huge fireplaces where oaken logs smoldered and crackled while these fine old gentlemen and their queenly dames gathered around the hearth at evening, and the starry light of tall candles were reflected in the bright andirons and the brass handled shovel and tongs that stood in the corner.
   Brickbats, rubbish and debris of a miscellaneous character mark the line of the old penitentiary walls, and the breeze that creeps through the one remaining building still echoes the moans of remorseful souls, and the groans of those whom passion, folly, vice and wickedness consigned to a hopeless doom. Here the poor wretch who won his lease of life from the stern demands of justice, only to delve out his worthless days within those frowning walls. The subject is too painful to contemplate.
   Down by the bridge across the Central railroad, and across, and our guide, with a flourish of his hand, pointed out to us the northern limit of Milledgeville. It extends far beyond the city and kisses the horizon line that rests upon the undulating hills to the north, and away down to the dashing Oconee river. This land is partly settled, partly tilled and partly desolate. The city owns this magnificent domain of several thousand acres, and to those who agree to settle on it, land are sold to the amount of twenty acres in a body. The grounds of the old penitentiary and the state house are rented out, and the revenue goes the the support of that grand institution of learning, the Milledgeville branch of the State university, located in the old state house. This school has been a magnificent thing for the city. There are over four hundred pupils, male and female, in attendance, and settlers are constantly being added to the city's population, and wealth is rolling steadily in on account of the advantages this school offers.
     And by many places of historic interest we were driven. A companion spoke of the Governor Jenkins' levee the best ever held in the grand old executive mansion. As we passed that ancient hill ladies of Macon and other cities, who have passed into the mature dignity of matronhood now, were debutantes and young ladies of society then, and the spacious rooms were ablaze with light and beauty. The ward had not long been over, and although their fortunes were broken and scattered the pride and blue blood of the old regime were still apparent in this assembly of the first families in Georgia, and Governor Jenkins' reception will god won in history as the last, and one of the grandest ever held in the mansion.
       A good story was told me of a famous masquerade ball given there. A charming young lady went in the character of "Ruth", and an Atlanta man had been delegated to escort here. Everyone was required to label himself for recognition. This man wanted to be a duke, so he wrote on his card, "The Duke of ___, " leaving the blank space for the name. Calling at the house, the young lady suggested that he go as "Boaz." Of course he would have been a churl who would have refused to act as "Boaz" to such a charming "Ruth," so when he entered the dressing room he was asked by the attendants what he wished to appear as.
        "Scratch out the first line and write "Boaz," said he, and in the hurry the attendant simply inserted "Boaz." so that his appearance created a sensation, when he entered the glittering ballroom as "The Duke of Boaz."
Down a gentle slope, flanked by deep gullies we drove. Wild tangles of Cherokee rose, still preserving the bright, green leaves, and thickets of undergrowth, remind one of the old time public roads that used to run for miles and miles between the great plantations of Georgia. At last we arrived at that other city which contains so man of the most sacred memories of Milledgeville.
     The Jemison family occupy a conspicuous place in this time-honored burial place. The oldest is a handsome shaft erected to the memory of Abner Hammond, a soldier of the revolution, who came to Milledgeville in 1808-1810, as secretary of state to the ten governor. He was an old continental colonel, and the inscription on his tomb informs us that he was one of those whom his countrymen delighted to honor. He was the great-grandfather of the late Sam H. Jeminson, and bore the same relation to Comptroller W. A. Wright. There is another descendant now a Georgia senator. The maternal grandfather (Colonel Stubbs) of Sam Jemison is also buried there.
      When Colonel R. W. Jemison was a youth he came to Oglethorpe college, Midway, to school. He boarded with Mrs. Stubbs, and as soon as he finished his course he married the beautiful daughter of the house, the mother of Sam Jemison. The old home is still there, and was no doubt a lovely home in the olden time. Afterwards, when he lived in Macon, and became one of her most prominent citizens, he too, passed away, and was laid to rest in the same burying ground. Previously his two sons, Henry B, that died at Oglethorpe, and Edwin, the brave soldier boy who fell at Malvern Hill, were buried there, and yesterday we laid poor Sam beside his father and brethren.
       I was shown three remarkable graves, along side of each other, just beyond the Jemison tomb. They contain all that is mortal of Choice, "Spotted Horse" Brown (Dr. Joseph R. Blount), and (Oscar H.) Graves ( William A.) Choice, it will be remember, was the man who made Ben Hill famous. He was tried for murder of a man in Atlanta, and the case was finally appealed to the Georgia legislature, and Hill's famous speech saved his life. He was placed in the insane asylum, and there he died, as did the Graves, whose tomb is near by. Graves was a brother of the famous Colonel Graves, who became renowned on General Loring's staff, when the latter was fighting under the Khedive of Egypt.
      "Spotted Horse" Brown, as he was called, was once a prominent figure in Georgia politics. He, too, led an eventful life, and was second in command, at one time, under Walker, the celebrated Nicaragual (sic) swarrior.
    Further up the slope is a large square of masonry, under which is a spacious vault, containing the remains of a man whose family went away from this country years before the war. The iron trap door which led into the vault was once covered with a large slab of marble. This was broken in half by yankee soldiers in search of treasure. The tomb was entered, but nothing was found. The halves of the slab were replaced on the broken door face downward, so that even the inscription is hidden from view.
     Hardby (sic) are the tombs of several Georgia legislators, the massive "box tombs," having been erected by the legislature. There is another group on the western side. There are among them several senators. It would be a small thing for the legislature to appropriate an amount sufficient for the repair of these graves. The masonry has settled, and the corners have sunk in places, endangering the marble. Were they repair now, the marbles might be preserved to commemorate the deeds of these honored men.
    One curious group of undecorated mounds marks the resting-place of a husband and seven of his wives, buried around him, while a lovelorn widow survived him.
    Another strange group is protected by a high wall of masonry, and in the enclosure are the little graves, marked with narrow boards at the head and foot, of twenty-three children, the progeny of two men, the Waitsfelders. The sexton says that both men had pretty good families that lived and grew up.
     The grand monument of Colonel Zachariah Lamar towers aloft. This monument was brought from Millen, on a wagon, before the railroad came to Milledgeville. The man who erected the monument brought the wagon along with it from New York. Judge L.Q.C. Lamar, father of Secretary Lamar, is also buried here. The grave of Dr. Tomlinson Fort, father of the distinguished Fort, is marked by a handsome shaft. Another big monument marks the grave of Benjamin Smith Jordan, and is a beautiful work of art.
    Years ago a man named Flournoy shot and killed a man named Smith at the old hotel on the corner. Smith was a brother of Sol Smith, the actor. His body was buried apart from crowded portion of the cemetery, and the head was marked by a thick slab of live oak. Long ago this slab rotted off at the ground and fell on the grave, and remains there in a remarkable state of preservation now. In the center of the grave  a beautiful evergreen sprung up and has now grown to a height of fifteen or twenty feet, covered with luxuriant foliage. The trunk is six inches in diameter. It is a very remarkable thing to look at.
     Up in the northwest corner is a massive structure of huge granite slabs. The walls are raised about five feet high and the roof is made of great squares of the same heavy stone. The opening has been walled up and the occupant or occupants have been relegated to oblivion. Nearby is a brick enclosure, the walls fully six feet high, and inside there is never a stone to mark the resting place of any of those who sleep therein. A copse of young trees covers the interior, and the whole structure is nameless now.
      After a walk among the tombs, we strolled out and wandered up into the old statehouse grounds. They are not so carefully tended as they once were, but are magnificent in their proportions today. A great many elms have been planted on the lawn, and it will soon be a solid shade in summer time.
      This was a grand old building, and is now being put to a grand use. Instead of the wrangles, bargains and schemes of modern politics, these honored walls echo with the voice of learning, and the rising generation of Georgia is here being taught the principles of honor, virtue and truth, that will yield a rich harvest in the years that are to come.
M.M. Folsom

Source: Atlanta Constitution, December 27, 1886

Eileen Babb McAdams copyright 2004