Clayton County, GAGenWeb

Family Memories

of By-Gone Days in
Clayton County Georgia


This is H. D. Thames, Sr., better known as Hewlett Thames. I am s/o of James Allen Thames and Bernie Cowan. Grandson of James T. Thames and Mary E Allen and great grandson of William Thames b 1796 d 1892  and Rachel Taylor b 1893 d 1861 both buried Tanners Baptist Church, Ellenwood, Clayton County, Georgia.

I was born where the Georgia State Farmers'  Market now stands 30 March 1908 in Clayton County, Georgia. 1908 the road that now is called Forest Parkway was known as Thames Rd.  When the Farmers Market was built the mayor of Forest Park thought "Thames Rd." was not sophisticated enough so it was renamed. Near the entrance of the present day Farmers' Market was road that branched off and it was called Old Stagecoach Rd.

I started to school when I was six years, in a one room school house that stood in the vicinity of where Lake Mirror stood behind where the GA. Power place presently stands on old 41 Hwy.  I went to school until I was in the 6th grade and that my father gave property and moved the school down to where the GA. State Farmers' Market stands.  My teacher at the time was Miss Welch. She married Mr. Dan McKibben.  I went to Forest Park High School.  Mrs. McKibben would drive her horse to our house and I would saddle it and ride it to Forest Park to School.  She would hitch it up and drive it back to town in the afternoon.

There was a big two story house in which the Reeves family lived in on Old Stagecoach Rd.  There was at one time a steel plaque with a memorial about the Civil War telling about soldiers spending the night there on the way to Forest Park to burn the wood shed.  The soldiers were to tear up the track, burn the wood shed and destroy the railroad in any way possible to keep supplies from being sent to Atlanta. 

My grandfather James T. Thames was in the Civil War.  My father told me that when the war was over, it seemed they got most of the soldiers who lived south of Atlanta back to Atlanta.  From there they walked from Atlanta to their homes.  When my grandfather, James T Thames got to the branch which was below their house, he called for my grandmother, Mary to bring him matches, soap, wash clothes and clean clothes.  She carried them to him.  He pulled off his clothes at the little branch that started under where Davis Bros. Cafeteria now stands (1982) in the Farmers' Market and runs SW down towards the highway.  He took a bath, burned his clothes and went home.  He was covered with lice and did not want to infect the family.  Soldiers had to fight not only the war but a lot of other problems during the war. 

We had one practical nurse who lived with the Reeves by the name of Mrs. Leth Tanner.  She had lost her husband very early after they married.  She was always there when anyone needed her during sickness.

The railroad which ran from Atlanta to Warm Springs is the same track that brought President Roosevelt back to Atlanta when he died at Warm Springs.  This cross was '"Thames Crossing."  The train would stop and take on passengers and let passengers off.
Miss Gray Miller, Fayetteville, GA  taught school at Howard's Academy for two years.  She boarded with my mother and father. 

My father's,  sister Aunt Lizzie McNair, d/o of  James T Thames and Mary Allen , lived close by and she had a family of 10 children.  1982 only one is left - Mrs. Berna Hines.

Up the road a little farther my Uncle Joseph Hampton Thames who married Mary Viola Kennedy lived.  They had two daughters and one son.  All living (1982)

We get to the top of the hill where my father was born and raised.  My aunt Emma Mabry lived there.  It was the old home place for the Thames Family.   It was quite a house.  If a man had that kind of house today, he would certainly have something to cherish.  It was build with wide boards, two story with a fireplace in each room.  Aunt Emma Mabry had four children, three boys and one girl.  (All living 1982).

We lived directly across the road from the entrance to the Farmers' Market.  I sold the property in 1955 to the Central of Georgia Railroad,  they in turn sold to the State of Georgia to build the Farmer's Market on. 

At our house Old Stagecoach Rd. branched and went into old 41 Hwy., at the tourist camp.  Mr. & Mrs. Swaney ran the tourist camp.  GA Power built on the property and it backs up against the Old Mirror Lake property. 

The road that ran from Clark Howell Hwy. to Forest Park was "Thames Road" until one of the mayors of Forest Park wanted to change it to Forest Parkway Dr. when it was widened.  I tried to get something done about it but failed.  The young mayor who was determined to have it Parkway Dr. and that is what it is today.  (1982)

Mr. & Mrs. L. B. Shelnut lived down the road and Mr. Shelnut was the depot agent and she taught school.  Mrs. Shelnut was the daughter of Capt. Joe Huie who was the first county school superintendent.  When he came to visit the school she would put the best students in front of the class to spell and do arithmetic to show what she was doing.  Rightly, she had that privilege.

Mr. Porter moved into the neighborhood from South Carolina and brought a big family.  His wife died soon after he came and he lost a daughter also.   The next spring daddy and the neighbors planted his crop and worked the whole year.  We gathered the crop for Mr. Porter and put in storage for him.  He was the neighborhood blacksmith. 

I went into the dairy business when I was 14 years old.  I bought 28 head of cows and went into the dairy business.  Hardly a day passed that Mr. Porter didn't come to see how I was getting along and he helped me do anything in the world he could.  I have a lot of memories of Clayton County. I lived in Clayton County until the property was sold in 1955.  I attended 1st Baptist church in Forest Park, at that time it was named Forest Grove Baptist Church.  They had conference on Saturday and it was an all day affair.  Of course we carried all the kids and lunch as well.  Mr. Bill Lee, in the afternoon would lead all in a round of singing and it was a joyful day-all day

My life has been full and active.  I was on the Board of Supervisors of Ocmulgee River Soil Conservation Serv. for 14 years. Mr. Tom Cole was the head of soil conservation for Clayton County.    I helped organize a forestry unit in Clayton County.  Later when I moved to Fayette County I was the instigator in having the unit moved to the Clayton-Fayette line to serve both counties.  It has been a great help to farmers in both counties.  1945 the State of GA passed a law (Federal Law) that gave us up to 1946 that all milk had to be pasteurized.  That stopped us from selling raw milk.  A group of people mostly Clayton and DeKalb Counties (26 of us) organized the Atlanta Diaries Co-op.  Out of the 26 that began 37 years ago I still serve in that position  (1982).

Several weeks ago, an elderly gentleman came to me and asked "Thames" how long have you been in the dairy business.  Well I got my permit to sell milk on the streets of Atlanta in 1922 - 58 years ago.  He said well you know any fool ought to have got rich or found him another job.  Well, I am thinking he is right-in a way!.  But, in a way, I cannot feel that way about it because I have done what I wanted to do and what I think I could have done best. 

1982-I am sitting in the middle of a thirty acre cornfield where I could leave the house and not be bothered with the telephone or anything else. 

by: Hewlett Thames


The farm spoken about is still in operation today on McDonough Rd. just outside of Love Joy and just across the Flint River in Fayette County.  They no longer have milk cows, however, it is a petting farm, they have greenhouses, raise hay and have tours for different organizations.  Two granddaughters of Hewlett Thames live at the farm and work the greenhouses.  Hudon and his wife Carolene give tours, have weddings and receptions. Each year the 4th Sat. in September a Thames reunion is held there.  Bring a dish and spend the day.  It is wonderful and you will have fun in spite of yourself. 

William Thames b 1796 in Cumberland County, NC and came to GA at about the age of 12.  He married Rachel Taylor b 1793 in Maryland near Clinton,  Jones County, GA 1813 and was in the war of 1812. William enlisted in the service of Wimberley's Reg., Blackshears Brigade of the GA Malitia.  He enrolled at Fort Hawkins while a resident of Jasper City., GA and served most of his time at Darien, GA as a cook.  He was discharged in Darien GA 8 March 1815. This was 210 miles from his home in Jasper City., GA.Served under Capt. Cyrus White, of Infantry detached GA militia under the command of  Col. Eziekiel Wimberly.  He arrived  21 Nov. 1814  at Camp Hope After

the war of 1812 William moved his family to Henry County, GA  and established his residence.  He is given as living in Henry, Fayette and Clayton County and he never moved. 

William Thames was among one of the first settlers in Clayton County - Thames Rd. 

William Thames joined the Missionary Baptist Church and was baptized by Syrus White.  He and his wife joined Sharon Church, Henry County, GA  1819 Jan and 1829 June was elected clerk and served until 1837 Dec.  18 June 1841 Bro Thames and wife Rachel Thames was received at Tanner' Baptist Church and he served as church clerk from 1852 until 1865.  In 1863 he was ordained to the ministry and served as minister at Tanner's Baptist Church for a period of three months until a new one was called.  He also served as minister to Forest Grove Baptist Church . This church is now gone, however, the cemetery remains.

William's wife Rachel died 11861 and 19 Feb 1872 he married Susan Elizabeth Weaver.  They had three children.  William and Rachel are both buried at Tanner's Church Cemetery on Tanner's Baptist Church Rd., in Ellenwood, Clayton County, GA. 

William was a farmer and owned a grist mill.  His house was used as a command post during the Civil War.

HEADQUARTERS THRID DIV.-TWENTY THIRD ARMY CORPS, Aug. 31, 1864

Maj. Gen Schofield, Commanding Officer

General:  I am at Thames's house. A Little cavalry in front, making it necessary to deploy some skirmishers.  It is one mile and a half to the railroad by nearest road, which forks about half a mile beyond to the left.  It is a half a mile further by the right fork of the road.  I suppose you desire me to take the right fork so as to keep near 4th Corps.  Mr. THAMES says Stanley cannot strike the railroad less than three miles below where I shall reach it by the right hand road. 

  J D COX
Brig.  Gen.
  Commanding from
War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. 38

William and Susan Weaver Thames had a daughter Susan Camilla Thames who remembers that Sherman's troops slept in the yard and on the porch when he came through Atlanta. 

After the war was over William filed for payment of damages to his property during the Civil War. 

A Historical marker at the intersection of Thames & Clark Howell Rd., (Just West of GA 85)

31 Aug. 1864, Troops of the 23rd  & 4th AC (F), marching east from Red Oak,passed this house enroute to the Macon and Western Railroad which was seized at points above and below Quick Station (now Forest Park).  This move severed the last of the RR entering Atlanta and  forced Gen Hood to abandon the City 1 Sept 1864.  The seizure of the RR was coincident with the 1st of two battles in Hardee's defense of Jonesboro. 

This Thames family has always been active in Forest Park and Jonesboro politics.  Joseph Frank Thames who was a very prominent figure in Clayton City., GA  died 2002.  He was the g grandson of William and Rachel Taylor Thames of Clayton County.

sdholland@mindspring.com

I am the g g granddaughter of William & Rachel Thames, g grand daughter of John T Thames, their son and the granddaughter of Flora Mae Thames d/o John T Thames


Tell your family memories and I'll add them here.


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