22 July 2016

Helping Georgia's Blind and Serving the Confederate Soldier

solidarity-blindFrom it's inception in 1851 to his death thirty years later, Dr. James Mercer Green was attached to the Georgia Academy for the Blind.  He co-founded the project and was on the board of trustees as president and medical director.  The following article, which was one of many to come, kicked off the idea and fund raising for the cause.  (Full article transcribed by Margie A. Daniels for USGenNet.org.)

5 April 1851, Georgia Citizen


We are happy to learn that an effort is now making for the commencement of an Institution for the education of the blind youth of our State, and that a meeting for the purpose of encouraging and sustaining this effort, will be held on Monday evening next, at half-past seven o'clock, at the Methodist Church.  An address will be delivered on this occasion by Walter S. Fortescue, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind, and more recently a graduate of the University of that State, at the close of which, preparatory measures for the establishment of an institution of this character will doubtless be taken by the citizens.  When it is remembered that the Legislatures of more than two-thirds of the States have already made ample arrangements for the education of their blind, it is to us a matter of surprise that Georgia, occupying so prominent a position in the Union as she does, should have so long remained indifferent to the to the [sic] educational interests of this class of her youth…

When Dr. Green's life and commitment to the academy was complete upon his death in 1881, a lengthy obituary (of which a portion I shared yesterday) was printed in the local newspaper.  Regarding the work of Dr. Green and the Georgia Academy for the Blind, this is what was said (in part):

He was the first to suggest the idea of establishing the Georgia Academy for the Blind, located at Macon, and of whose board of directors he was the first and only president.  One of the officers of the institution, entirely familiar with its history, thus writes:  "Dr. Green was a man whose benevolent instincts were largely developed.  He ever regarded human suffering and infirmity with compassionate feeling.  Institutions designed for the amelioration of the sufferings of these classes of our fellow creatures, received a large measure of his study and interest.  He kept himself informed as to their specail [sic] work, and was a zealous advocate of their cause.  This was notably the case as to the Georgia Academy for the Blind…Although at that time actively engaged in the prosecution of his profession, and encumbered with a large practice, he found time to exert all the influence he had, enlisting his numerous friends by personal appeals and solicitations in behalf of the enterprise…He was made a member of the board of temporary trustees, and when the enterprise culminated in a chartered State charity, he was named with N. C. Munroe, A. H. Chappell, John B. Lamar, E. B. Weed, R. A. Smith and E. Graves as corporators, and when the board was organized on June 23, 1852, he was selected as the president, which office he held continuously until his death, a period of nearly thirty years.  In his office as trustee and president of the board he ever held a just appreciation of the proposed design of the institution, and gave his earnest support to all measures designed specifically to promote the same, and finding his highest gratification in its advancement and success in this particular respect.

"During this period he was from his universally acknowledged fitness for the position by a unanimous vote of his associates appointed attending physician of the academy, and in that position fully merited and retained, throughout this long period, the entire confidence of the trustees and officers charged with the internal management of the establishment.  To the duties of this office, always varied and often perplexing, he gave the most unremitting and assiduous attention, and they were discharged not only with scrupulous fidelity, but with the highest skill.  He had the highest regard for his responsibilities in the offices he held; and in the discharge of the various duties they imposed, he displayed eminent qualifications and fitness, great zeal, activity and talent.  His connection with the Academy for the Blind will be long and gratefully remembered by its friends and the people of the State, and the loss they have sustained in the death of one of their earliest, most constant and devoted friends, will be keenly felt and sincerely deplored."

The remembrance continues by speaking of the next useful contribution to his community made by Dr. Green:

…When the tocsin of war sounded and his fellow-citizens were summoned to the field in defense of right and country, although in feeble health and over age, he cheerfully abandoned the comforts of home and repaired to the scene of conflict, ministering to the wants of the sick and wounded, and continued faithful in this work to the end of the strife, at all times regardless of his own interest…

 Field hospital via Flickr Commons.Dr. Green was much involved in the promotion of Georgia's secession from the Union.  And it seems, that from the very start of the war, he desired to be involved with the Confederate hospitals and helping the sick, wounded, and dying.  He wrote the following to Howell Cobb early in the war:  [Civil War Macon by Richard W. Iobst.  Pub. 1999, Mercer University Press.  Pg. 107.]

"I feel convinced that it is in my power to [be] of great service to hundreds of our poor sick & dying soldiers who are too often treated as if they were paupers instead of the owners of the medicines & supplies so munificently sent from Georgia for their relief."

Dr. Green was in control of the Macon hospitals by 1863.  Specifically, at least at some point, he was Chief Surgeon of the Floyd House Hospital.

The Georgia Academy for the Blind was even converted to a hospital at the persuasion of Dr. Green after Macon was inundated with hundreds more soldier patients after the Battle of Chickamauga.  By the close of 1863, Dr. Green was very pleased with how the Macon hospitals were being run.

There were challenges, tough ones, of course.  But even a year more into the war, when trying desperately to find more beds for needy soldiers, Dr. Green retains his passion and writes this:

"What shall be done with these men shall our brave sick & wounded lie on the floor or be turned into the streets – every one almost will answer no."

And later this:

"It is disgusting…to see the contemptuous indifference & even hatred that many of these wealthy foreigners & yankees & some disloyal men of Southern birth have to everything concerning the soldiers, hospitals &c.  I desire most sincerely to be able to learn some of these men their duties to the Govt. that protects them."

Through all this, the hospitals of Macon were still given high marks.

[Note:  If you have any interest in the history of Macon, or the Civil War and how it may have effected a city such, I encourage you to read the aforementioned Civil War Macon: The History of a Confederate City by Richard W. Iobst.  From inside front flap:  "Richard W. Iobst has produced an encyclopedic account of Macon, Georgia, during the years 1859-1865." – I personally find it to be an invaluable resource.]

21 July 2016

A Cenotaph More Durable than Marble: James Mercer Green, M.D. (1815-1881)

Photo by James Allen.Where do I begin with James Mercer Green? Often, in older newspaper articles commenting on the life of a person recently deceased, you will see the word useful used to describe said individual.  We don't use the word in the same way as much anymore.  What I interpret that term to mean in that context, is the recently deceased individual gave more to their community than they took.  That their life made other lives better.  It doesn't have to be in some grand way, necessarily, it simply means the community benefited from their presence in it.

Useful, based on the research I've conducted, truly describes the life of Dr. James Mercer Green.  And in his case, there are, some might say, a couple of grand examples.  Before we get to those larger examples, let's go over the "basics."

James Mercer Green was born 15 November 1815 in Georgia (maybe Milledgeville?) to Dr. William Montgomery Green and his second wife, Jane McKonkey.  It may or may not be important to note, I'm not sure Dr. William Green was a physician, though I have seen him described as such.  He was an educator, having been the Director of Mathematics and Languages at Franklin College (UGA) in Athens, Georgia.  Dr. William Green also opened academies in Milledgeville, Baldwin County.

Less than a month after his thirteenth birthday, the mother of James Mercer Green died.  Yet he pressed on, and graduated from Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia in 1837.  Dr. James M. Green would follow that vocation for the rest of his life.

When Dr. James Mercer Green died 13 June 1881 in Macon, a funeral notice in the local newspaper described him as "the oldest practitioner in the city." Some twenty years earlier, when pushing for Dr. Green to get a position at a military hospital, wealthy Maconite John B. Lamar described him as "the best physician we have in Macon, as he is the only physician who attends me, when I am sick." [Civil War Macon by Richard W. Iobst.  Pub. 1999, Mercer University Press.  Pg. 96.]

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
10 July 1881 -- pg. 1 [Entire article available online at GenealogyBank.]

On the 13th day of June, 1881, James Mercer Green, M.D., for years one of the most prominent, useful, distinguished and highly esteemed citizens of Macon, passed from time to eternity.  He was the son of William Green, M.D., a native of Ireland, and graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, who, driven from his native land, on account of his intense love of freedom and of country (having participated in the rebellion of Lord Edward Fitzgerald,) like numbers of his illustrious fellow exiles, found on these shores a warm welcome and generous appreciation…Dr. James Mercer Green was born on the 15th of November, 1815, and like his brothers, the late Drs. Thomas F. and H. K, Green, was educated by his father, who was not only a faithful, but highly competent instructor of youth.  He taught his pupils to think and to study, and their after career reflected the highest credit upon his fidelity and skill.  Thus equipped, the subject of this sketch entered upon the study of his chosen profession, and having completed his preparatory course to the satisfaction of the late Benj. A. White, of Milledgeville, matriculated at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, where he graduated as doctor of medicine in the year 1837.  Immediately upon his graduation he returned to Macon, which had been his home since 1831, and entered upon the practice of his profession, in connection with his brother, Dr. H. K. Green.  Almost from the commencement, they had a varied and extensive practice, and rapidly rose to prominence, in a community that could boast of quite a number of able and accomplished practitioners.  After many years, when this professional connection was dissolved, Dr. J. Mercer Green continued active practice on his own account, and notwithstanding his numerous and exacting professional engagements, he devoted much time and thought to political duties, and for one at least of the great public charities of the State, he was an earnest worker to the day of his death.  Like his eldest brother, Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald Green, who for more than thirty years was connected in controlling capacity with the State lunatic asylum, he had a warm sympathy for and an ardent desire to minister to the wants of the afflicted of his race…

…Dr. Green had very exalted but very just views of the character and learning of his profession, and he scrupulously guarded it from practices that had a tendency to lower its dignity and impair confidence in its integrity.  The foundation of all professional excellence is broad, generous and extensive culture, and Dr. Green was a conspicuous example of this truth.  He was well read in history, philosophy and polite literature.  His acquintance [sic] with the best of our English classics was extensive and accurate.

There was nothing that affected the wellbeing of his country in which he did not take an active interest…

In 1846, Dr. Green was united in marriage to the eldest daughter of the late Hon. Oliver H. Prince.  She, after many years of wedded happiness, with two only of their children, is left to cherish his memory and to deplore their loss.  But they are not as those who mourn without hope.  In early life he united with the Episcopal church, and for twenty years was senior warden of Christ Church parish, Macon.  Few men have had the good fortune to leave behind them more pleasing and grateful memories.  A cenotaph more durable than marble is erected in the hearts of those whose sufferings he alleviated and whose maladies he healed.  This feeling descending from them to their posterity will be a precious legacy to his children and their descendants.     A FRIEND.

James Mercer Green, M.D. rests in the Magnolia Ridge section of Rose Hill Cemetery.  Next time, we'll look at a couple of those grand examples that made Dr. Green such a useful individual.

(See also Helping Georgia's Blind and Serving the Confederate Soldier.)

20 July 2016

Yankees Killed Aleck A. Menard?

menard20690phAlexander Ambrose Menard, a well-known druggist about the city of Macon, was born between 1828 and 1830 in Georgia to S. and Victorine Menard.  He joined the Jackson Artillery of Bibb County and is listed on an 1861 muster roll of this, Capt. Dure's Company, at the age of 31.  But it was something that happened after the Civil War that perhaps followed, even hastened, Aleck to his grave. (Image at right by James Allen.)

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
23 March 1881 -- pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]

Death of A. A. Menard, Esq.
The many friends and acquaintances in Macon of Mr. Aleck Menard were surprised to hear of his death, which occurred yesterday afternoon, very suddenly, about 3:30, at his residence in this city.

Congestion of the brain is thought to have been the immediate cause of his death, produced from the effects of a blow given Mr. Menard on the head shortly after the war.  When he was in Albany, Georgia, and while standing by, having nothing to do with a fight in which Yankee soldiers were engaged four of the soldiers attacked Mr. Menard, one of whom gave him a severe blow with a gun on the head.  Mr. Menard has frequently suffered from the effects of this blow, and his death is supposed to have resulted finally from this, though he has been more or less unwell for several months past.

Mr. Menard was out on the streets Monday, but became indisposed that night, and Tuesday morning grew worse, when about noon he was taken seriously ill, physicians sent for, and he gradually became weaker and, and in the afternoon about 3:30 o'clock calmly died.

Perhaps Mr. Menard was as well known as any man in Macon, where he has followed the drug business long years, and had a retail drug store on Fourth street at the time of his demise.  He was a genial gentleman and will be sadly missed.  He leaves a wife and family.  His sons, Messrs.  Victor and Robert Menard have a large circle of acquaintances.  We understand that the funeral will not be held until the arrival of Mr. Robert Menard from Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he is engaged in business.

I would like to point out, though you probably already noticed, the death year on Mr. Menard's ledger marker pictured above is incorrect.  It should be 1881, not 1885.  Aleck rests in the Central Avenue Division of Rose Hill Cemetery -- A precious memory.

19 July 2016

Father and Son McLaughlin

On the last day of 1879, the widower Alexander R. McLaughlin died of Bright's Disease at his home in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia.  He was born in Ireland in the early 1800s, and was living in Macon by his early 20s.  A death notice for Alexander, a retired merchant, was issued in the 1 January 1880 Macon Telegraph (Georgia):

Yesterday Mr. A. R. McLaughlin, an old and well-known citizen of Macon, died at his residence in this city.  He was at one time a large merchant and capitalist.  He was also, for a long time, a member of the Macon Volunteers, and his name was still regularly enrolled among its honorary members.  He will be buried this morning with military honors.

armclaughlinjrdiedThat same day, another item was ran in the same newspaper regarding Alexander R. McLaughlin, Jr.  It seems he would have to resign from his position on the Macon City Council due to health reasons.  Less than ten weeks later, A. R. McLaughlin, Jr. was dead.  He was remembered in the 14 March 1880 Macon Telegraph.  (Original article, as well as image at right, via GenealogyBank.)

Death of A. R. McLaughlin.
The many friends of Mr. A. R. McLaughlin will be pained to learn of his death, which occurred yesterday morning at two o'clock.  The deceased had long been a sufferer from consumption, and passed quietly away after the disease had run its course.  Mr. McLaughlin was once a lieutenant in the Floyd Rifles; for a long time chief of Young America, No. 3, fire company, and served a portion of a term as City Clerk, resigning on account of failing health.  He was a young man of most excellent character, admirable qualities, the favorite of a large circle of friends and beloved by all who knew him.  His funeral will take place from the residence of his sister, Mrs. H. R. Stroemer, corner of Mulberry and Fourth streets, to-day at 2 p.m.  He will be buried by the Floyd Rifles and No. 3 Fire Company with appropriate ceremonies.

I thought it was a little strange to find no mention of his father's death just a few months before.  Both father and son were found listed together in the 1880 Bibb County, Georgia Federal census mortality schedule, though.


Via Ancestry.

Father and son McLaughlin, along with wife and mother Elizabeth who had died in 1872, were laid to rest in block 1, lot 19 of the Central Avenue Division of Rose Hill Cemetery.

14 July 2016

Every Eye Grows Dim with Sickening Tears: Obituary for Ida Gertrude Nelson Shinholser

Ida, born about 1856 in Georgia, was a daughter of William T. and Gertrude Nelson.  A book of deaths from Christ Church in Macon shows Ida Shinholser was laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery.  I think her grave might be unmarked.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
25 January 1880 – pg. 4 [via GenealogyBank]


Ida Gertrude Nelson, wife of W. T. Shinholser, departed this life on the 7th instant, aged 23 years, 11 months, and 24 days.  She left a husband, three children, the youngest an infant eight days old, and numerous relatives and friends to mourn their loss.

O Earth, how many bright ones
Are in thy bosom laid !
How many kindred spirits
Now seek their home in thy dark caverns.
Death, thou dost find thy victims
Amongst earth's rarest and most gifted children,
And now thou hast taken ONE
Who budded forth so fair, so beautiful,
So full of taste and talent, joy and love,
That every heart sinks at the sudden, awful change,
And every eye grows dim with sickening tears.
Oh, who can tell the woe, the anguish that reigns
Where she lived, in all the pride of womanhood,
The beloved wife?
But oh, remember, in this trying hour,
That He who gave has taken away;
That He has claimed His own,
Which, but for a little time, He lent to us.
Bless we His name.
And while our hearts, in deepest woe,
Feel the full agony of this His act,
Bend them, though they should break.
To His most mighty will;
Then will the light burst forth;
Then will the darkness disappear;
And He, while on earth did raise the dead,
Shall, in the resurrection,
Raise our Ida.

13 July 2016

Inquest into Death of W. Arthur Whittle

William Arthur Whittle was born 12 June 1855 in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia.  He was one of twelve children born to Sarah Powers and Lewis Neale Whittle.  In a late night hour on 3 February 1879, the eighth anniversary of his mother's death, Arthur Whittle ended his own life with an accidental pistol shot.  He was laid to rest in the Central Avenue Division of Rose Hill Cemetery.  Arthur and his brother Abner are memorialized on the same tombstone.  Abner died four years later of consumption.


The following is a report of the inquest into Arthur's death.  It's a bit long, but nonetheless an interesting read.

Macon Weekly Telegraph (Georgia)
Tuesday, 11 February 1879, pg. 1 [Online at GenealogyBank.]


One of the saddest deaths that has occurred in Macon, and one which has created a greater shock on the community than any since the death of Mr. Edgar Collins, was the death of Mr. W. Arthur Whittle.  The city was startled by the announcement, and  a shade of sadness spread over its face.  At ten o'clock on Sunday night Mr. Whittle was at the Lanier House joining in the conversation of quite a coterie of friends.  Soon after he left.

About a quarter of twelve he went home, carefully removing his shoes before entering the house for fear of disturbing the inmates.  His room was on the second floor.  He entered it and almost immediately a pistol shot was heard.

The rest of the melancholly [sic] circumstances can be learned from the evidence of the coroner's jury.

Dr. C. H. Hall, sworn, said I have examined the body of deceased, Mr. W. A. Whittle; I find but one wound upon the body, that caused by a pistol shot, the ball entering the right side of his head just above the right ear, going directly through the cerebrum and lodging just under the scalp of the temple on the left side of his head about one and a half inches above the left ear; I consider the one wound sufficient to produce immediate death.

Mr. A. P. Whittle, sworn, said:  I think at a quarter after twelve last night, the deceased, my brother, Mr. W. A. Whittle, came into this room; I was asleep in the bed on the side nearest the fireplace, and the opening of the door awakened me; I said, "Hello, Arthur, is that you?" he replied, "Yes," in his usual tone of voice; I think then he must have sat down upon the trunk to the left of the fireplace; I think so from the fact that when he got up again I heard the sound of the trunk top as it sprang back into position; there was no light in the room; a very short time after I heard this sound made by the trunk, I heard the crack of a pistol and the fall of the body; just as the pistol fired I was about to address him again, but I don't recollect what about; so soon as I could get a match from the mantelpiece, I lit the gas, rushed up to him and found him dead; as soon as I saw that he was dead I went to arouse my father, down stairs, and other members of the family; when my father came in, after looking at the body, he asked me if I had seen any pistol; I told him no, and began to look for one; I found one on the left side of his body, down near his feet, and one chamber exploded; I recognized it as my pistol, which I kept in the drawer of a dressing case on the corner of the mantelpiece; I had not seen the pistol for several days, having had no occasion to look in the drawer; this pistol had been in his possession several times; in the same drawer I had a pair of kid gloves, which I found in my brother's pocket after his death; I had been absent from the city that day, and my brother had told my sister that he would wear my gloves that day as they were better than his, or some such expression; it was my brother's custom, when he came in after the light in his room had been extinguished, to go to bed without a light; the drawer to which I referred was about as high above the floor as my brother's chin, and his body lies just where it fell directly in front of that drawer, as if he was standing with his head directly at the drawer when the pistol exploded; did not hear any sound such as always accompanies the act of cocking a pistol; if such a noise had been made I would have heard it.  The drawer was nearly filled with papers, and, realizing whenever I went to replace the pistol in it that some danger of exploding existed, I always used great care.  He was always of a cheerful frame of mind, and I have not heard of, nor do I know of anything which would induce me to think that he contemplated taking his own life.  He and I had a positive engagement, at his suggestion, to meet at my office and transact some business this morning.  He removed his shoes before he came into the house, leaving them on the back porch, where they were this morning early; this was a custom with him and a precaution he took to keep from waking the family when he came in late.  I have searched his pockets and have not found any preparation for or consideration of death.

Mr. R. A. Nisbet, sworn, said:  About half past twelve o'clock last night, Mr. A. B. Whittle came to my house, awoke me, and I went with him at once to his home and to the room where we now are.  I saw the body of deceased, Mr. W. A. Whittle, lying as it does now just in front of the dressing case on the mantelpiece.  It now lies as i[t] did then.  The only change in his attire is, that I, with the assistance of Mr. J. P. Fort, placed on his hands a pair of kid gloves which we found in deceased's pockets…[Went on to say he found no suicide note on the deceased.]

Here, at the request of a member of the jury, Mr. Nisbet cocked the pistol and it made two distinct clicks, loud enough to be heard all over the room and to attract the attention of anyone in the room.

Mr. N. M. Hodgkins, sworn, said:  Having had considerable experience in the handling of firearms, having been a dealer in them for fifteen or twenty years, he stated that he could easily see how the discharge of the weapon shown him could have occurred by striking the hammer against the corner of the drawer or otherwise…

After duly considering the foregoing evidence the jury arrived at the following verdict:

Upon considering the testimony, and after a careful examination of the body of deceased, and of the premises, we, the jury of inquest, find that W. A. Whittle came to his death by the accidental discharge of a pistol, which, in the dark, he was attempting to place in the drawer of a dressing case on the end of the mantelpiece in his room, near the height of his head…[Names of jury members listed.]

Mr. Whittle would have been twenty-four years of age in June.  He was born and reared in Macon, graduated at the State University, and has, for the past two years, been farming near Bolingbroke.  He had just removed to the city to commence the study of law in his father's office.  He was well known and very popular with his young friends and companions.  His impulses were those of a thorough gentleman, and in his nature was much of true nobility.

The casket which held the spirit was like it, and a more symetric [sic] physique could hardly be found.  He has died in the very bloom of magnificent manhood, and his young life has gone out "while it was yet morning." His nature was impulsive and his bravery was almost a fault.  With his family, whose hearts are almost crushed under this weight of sorrow, the entire city sympathize.

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