15 November 2011

Starrsville, GA

Howdy folks! Hope everything is going everybody’s way. I’m glad so many folks enjoyed the last column on the “lost towns” of our area. It really is fascinating stuff! And a special thanks to the Mansfield Garden Club for inviting me to speak to their organization about that and other local history. I had a wonderful time and really enjoyed talking with you wonderful ladies. This month—the long-awaited write-up on Starrsville.
Starrsville, GA
Approximately 6 miles southeast of Covington , Starrsville is one of the oldest communities in Newton Co. Originally settled in the early 1820’s by the Starr family, it would become a full-fledged community by the early 1830’s with a general store, a church, several farms, and a post office. It was situated at the intersection of Dixie Rd. and what we now call Hwy. 213. The centerpiece of this village was the Starr Store Building that was originally run by George Leak and John Starr. It would later be known as King’s Grocery. That building no longer stands but a historical marker can be found at the site that gives more information. The aforementioned church, Starrsville Methodist, is one of the area’s oldest churches as has been a pillar of this community for upwards of 180 years. This area would come to be known as Old Starrsville. More on that in just a bit…

As was mentioned in the Hayston column, when the C of G (Central of Georgia) ran the RR tracks, some towns were created ( Mansfield ) but some locations were picked because there was an existing village (Hayston). Starrsville was an instance of the latter with a bit of the former. Originally, the tracks were going to be brought right through the heart of Starrsville by the general store, but these plans were changed. I read in one resource that it was changed to go further north based on a decision by the C or G presumably based on cost-analysis or feasibility. But in doing a bit more research, I’ve discovered that possibly the residents of Starrsville at the time did not want the tracks and that’s why it was moved. Regardless, the line was moved and so a new village sprouted up in the 1890’s and was called New Starrsville. Old and New Starrsville remained intertwined as a community.

Starrsville Store. Photo by Dagmar Nelson*
New Starrsville quickly became a major hub with a train station and a general store. Eventually the post office would be moved from the old community to the new one. Later the Anderson Brickyard and Anderson Fertilizer Plant were major business endeavors. The general store was originally run by Rufus Franklin and later by the Andersons until it was finally purchased by D.B. Dixon. Mr. Dixon would continue operating the store until the 1970’s. Rail and mail service would continue for many years. In fact, at one time, Starrsville had its own zip code and postal service would continue up until the late 1970’s.

Some of the long-time families of the Starrsville area include the Andersons, Belchers, Biggers, Corleys, Cooks, and Dixons amongst others. And this leads me to an interesting family tie-in. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, my wife’s maiden name is Biggers and she is descended from the Starrsville Biggers. My great, great, grandfather, William Marion McCart, moved to Starrsville from Covington in the late 1800’s and would reside there with his family until his death in 1915. He, his wife Sarah, and one his daughters are buried at the Starrsville
Methodist cemetery. Not too long after we started dating, my wife and I went out to the cemetery and we realized that my ancestors and her ancestors were practically buried right next to each other! That’s pretty neat.

I am in the process of writing a much longer and expanded write-up on Starrsville that would not be able to fit in the space that I am given by my esteemed editor; however, when I get it finished, I will be posting it on my webpage so make sure to check that out in the near future. Until next time… 

*Many thanks to Dagmar Nelson for use of her photograph of the Starrsville Store. Dagmar is a marvelous photographer. Her work can be seen at her webpage here. She is a blogger as well and that's actually how I came across her photo. I plan on doing a post in the very near future about that.  

Marshall can be reached at marshall.mccart@gmail.com

21 September 2011

The Lost Towns of Newton, Jasper, and Morgan

From the September 2011 Issue of "About Covington to Madison" Magazine

Welcome back to The Piedmont Chronicles. I hope this column finds you well. Thanks to everyone who read and responded to the previous edition's write-up of Hayston, GA. This month we will cover some of the lost towns of this area. Personally, I've always been very interested in the concept of ghost towns, vanished settlements, and things of the like. I find it fascinating and hope you will too!

The Lost Towns of Newton, Jasper, and Morgan

New Berlin – Throughout the 1800's many towns and villages would come and go in Newton Co. One of those was a settlement called New Berlin. New Berlin was founded on Haynes Creek in the late 19th century by German settlers in the area now known as North Oxford. There was a Post Office there from 1883-1887. It was thought that the town had a store and possibly a sawmill and a few other businesses. The exact location of the settlement is not surely known as the town would disappear and return to nature.

Newton Factory/Webbville (Factory Shoals) – South of Covington, right on the Alcovy, is what is now known as Factory Shoals. Way back in the day, around the mid 1800's, a factory was started by a Mr. John Webb. Mr. Webb was originally from Virginia and had moved to Georgia in the 1820's. His cotton mill was a major operation. Also in this area was another cotton mill as well as a grist mill in addition to some other businesses and several homes. For the most part, most of the operations ceased after the Civil War as Stoneman's Raiders showed little mercy to the area. Before long this town would go the way of so many others (Smith's Mill as you may remember from the Jasper Co.column or New Berlin for that matter) dying a slow death and eventually returning to nature. A Post Office existed in this village as early as 1832 and mail service would actually continue there until 1902. And according to the Kenneth Krakow book, “Place-names of Georgia,” the town's incorporation as a village would exist from 1854 all the way until 1995! I'm still not so sure that wasn't a misprint, but as yet, have not been able to verify it either way. The aforementioned Mr. Webb was the town's first postmaster and also operated the general store there for many years. Webbville (also referred to as just Webb) could be found on most Georgia maps from the mid 1800's up until the early 20th century.

Leakton/Leakesville – This first jumped out at me a couple of years ago when I found it on the1839 American Atlas map. Based on that map, it was in Jasper Co. right near the Newton Co. line. It caught my eye because I have family that lives in a city called Leakesville, MS. Still to this day, I haven't ever come across anyone in Newton or Jasper. (and I've asked at least a dozen or so folks) who has heard of or knew anything about this village. Maps throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries have it listed as both Leakton and Leakesville including the 1910 Rand McNally map of Georgia. To date I have not been able to find any real information on this mysterious town other than its location. Based on the multiple maps I have seen, it was about 4 or 5 miles south of Mansfield on what was most likely the Cherokee Rd (now known as Hwy 11). If I had to guess, I would think it was somewhere near the present day site of the Charlie Elliott Wildlife center. If anyone has any information on Leakesville—please email me.

Palestine – There existed in Morgan Co., at least for a short amount of time, a settlement called Palestine. The only documentation of said town is from the 1839 Map of Georgia & Alabama Exhibiting the Post Offices, Post roads, Canals, and Railroads by David H. Burr that was used in J. Arrowsmith London's The American Atlas. Based on the map, Palestine looked to be basically right in between Social Circle and Madison and served as a Post Office stop for at least a little while. The town was obviously short lived as it only appears in 1839 and was never again documented.

These are just a few of the vanished towns in our area. Morgan County can also lay claim to the following ones: Austin, Ebenezer, Stallings, Union Mill, and Zachry. Jasper County—Alva, Concord, Palo Alto, South Union, and Woodfin. And Newton County can count Cora, Leguin, Pace, and Sheffield among others.

The following will be coming down the pike soon: A write-up of Starsville, GA; a write-up of some of the unincorporated towns and villages of the surrounding area; some of my genealogical research; and another fictional short-story. Until next time... Marshall can be reached at marshmanslim@yahoo.com

01 September 2011

A Fond Remembrance of an Autumn Saturday in Athens

I've been going to Georgi
a football games for over thirty years now...wow, just saying that makes me feel old. Hell, I am old! I keep having these birthdays, you know? It's getting to be the end part of August and as I'm prone to do at this time of year, I have been reminiscing a good bit about my beloved Dawgs. I've been to some great games in Athens over the years. I was at the '82 Clemson game with the blocked punt and was at the '91 upset of them also; the 2000 Tennessee game when we finally broke the drought (and got to see the students demolish our hedges); the Georgia Tech beat-down of 2002, and of course--the Blackout against Auburn in 2007 where I witnessed a bunch of old white folks dancing to Soulja Boy. I was that guy wearing red, you know, the one who apparently didn't get the memo. All total, I think I've been to upwards of 200 UGA games and a good number of those were home games. And it's not just the games that stick out for me. At the risk of sounding sappy and sentimental--it really is the memories. Throwing the football with my Dad on South Campus back in the day; cranking up the grill; seeing folks you haven't seen in forever; witnessing the Redcoats take the field pre-game...the list goes on and on. And that's without even getting into the emotions you experience on a game day Saturday in Athens. Just that feel. There's really nothing like it. But of all those games and of of all of those memories, one always sticks out.

And truth be told, I cannot give you an exact year on this one. I know it wasn't as early as '82 and I'm positive it was no later than '85. My best guess would be 1984. I say that because I remember a lot of frustration and anxiety with the crowd for that game (and that was more of a 1984 thing as the magic of the '80-'83 run was wearing off) but for the life of me, I can't remember who we played, or, as I mentioned, what year it was. I know we won though. By the way, after reading this write-up, I can imagine some of you being skeptical about the validity of my memories, but I think I've got a good answer for that. I think that what follows was just so awesome and amazing that my mind kind of went into a super-record mode and that the memories of the actual contest were diminished as a result. Sound good? Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. So here we go...

I know the game was close and it was pretty suspenseful. I have gone back and researched and if it was indeed the 1984 season, then it was a good bet that it was the Ole Miss game that we won 18-12. I know it couldn't have been the opener vs. Southern Miss because I remember that game vividly, and I remember the rest of the home games that year. So for the sake of the story, we'll just go with Ole Miss. So our Dawgs won but because it was so close, traffic was an absolute nightmare after the game. Now for folks who think traffic is bad after a close UGA game nowadays, they obviously weren't around back in the 1980's. Back then it was the wild, wild west. A Free-For-All. Park anywhere and everywhere...hell, park on the street. It just didn't matter. These days you get towed if you improperly park. Also, there are cops everywhere directing traffic and they have these well-researched traffic plans put into place. Back then--they did not. It was always a mess.

My Dad had a Connor Hall parking pass. We were always a South Campus family, you might say. I tried doing the North Campus thing for awhile a few years ago, but I just couldn't get into it. Tailgating only feels right on South Campus for me...but I digress... So after the game, we get back to the car and it's just total and absolute gridlock. Nothing is moving. It took us forever to get out of the parking lot and by the time we actually got on Cedar Street, we seemed to be making a pace of about a car length every five minutes. I could tell the old man was getting antsy. He wanted to get home. There was college football to be watched on T.V., steaks to be cooked, and other consumables to be consumed. After what seemed like an eternity, the old man had simply had enough. He jerked the car into park and turned to our mother (my brother was there also) and said, "Take the wheel. You'll know what to do." And with that, he was off. Walking down Cedar towards East Campus Street at a pretty brisk clip. My mother slid over into the driver's seat and laughed nervously while trying to maintain idle chit-chat with us boys. Looking back on it, I think she was a little concerned. What, exactly, was her husband up to? What did he have in mind?

I remember feeling a little bit the same. I think my Brother did too. What was the old man up to? But then, after just a few minutes, it was like the floodgates opened. We started moving down the street with ease. As we got closer to East Campus St., I was the first one to see my Father. He was in the middle of the intersection. His right hand was held up in the direction of Sanford Stadium while his left hand was motioning cars. The man was directing traffic. I think all three of us were simply at a loss there at first. This possibly couldn't be happening. By the time we were in front of the Statistics Building right near the intersection, my brother and I had broken into hyena-like hysterics. My Mother soon joined in. And then, right there at the intersection, my mom stopped the station wagon and Dad hurriedly jumped in telling my Mom to “hit it!” She gunned it and we were off. My God, we were all just rolling by this point. Laughing like crazy. But that's not even the best part. The best part was this: I was sitting behind the driver's seat and had the vantage point for something I'll never forget. As my Dad was getting in the car, I happened to look at the first car stopped that had been heading down East Campus. The first car that my Dad actually stopped with his traffic cop routine, mind you. It was a Georgia fan that looked to be about my Dad's age who was also with his family. His expressions and emotions completely ran the gambit--from confusion, to shock, followed naturally, of course, by righteous indignation, briefly followed by rage, but then morphed into genuine admiration. When it was all said and done, he was actually smiling. The expression on his face at this point seemed to say, "Well played, sir. I salute you and your endeavors...I wish I could have done something like that." Man, oh man, it was so cool! We all just laughed and laughed. I seem to remember my Mom saying something like, "Oh my God--I can't believe you just did that!" My brother and I were completely in awe. My Dad just kind of chuckled and then broke into a easy smile. I think he was pretty proud of himself.

Obviously it was a big deal for me. I mean, here I am, over 25 years later, writing about it like it was yesterday. I don't know if it says something about my personality that this memory would stick out so much for me. Like, you know, the whole "anti-authority" thing, or whatever...I just know that it was a big deal for me! And it's one of the many reasons why my Dad is my hero. I think about that day often and fondly...it always puts a smile on my face. And to me, for some reason, it just seems to encapsulate Georgia football. So...Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. How Bout Them Dawgs!

10 August 2011

Hayston, GA

Greetings! Hope all is well out there. I really appreciate all of the comments and feedback on the Oxford & Porterdale columns from the last edition. I've lately become fascinated with some of the older unincorporated towns and communities that have been vital to this area. This month I'd like to write about one of the oldest settlements in Newton Co— Hayston , GA.

The Hayston Community

The Hayston community can be found on Hwy 213 at the convergence of Macedonia Rd , Hayston Rd , and Greer Lane right by the railroad tracks. As I was researching Hayston, I felt like I just wasn't connecting with the subject material. My trusty research companion, “The History of Newton County,” and some online resources just weren't getting me there. I knew I needed some help so I phoned fellow history enthusiast Judge Virgil Costley who put me in touch with Mr. Fred Greer, Jr. Mr. Greer was kind enough to meet with me. He was most generous with his time and imparted a lot of knowledge and information and even drove me around Hayston pointing out the many things of interest there.


In the first part of the 19th century, a young man from Virginia named George Newton Hayes (he would later drop the “e”) would migrate to Georgia eventually winding up in our neck of the woods. The Hays Cabin over on Woodlawn Rd , built in the early 1800's, was his homeplace and is one of Newton County 's oldest surviving structures. George Hays would end up marrying three times and producing 25 offspring. One of those children was Robert Luther Hays. While George could be called the original patriarch of Hayston, the true founding father would have been Robert Luther. The Presbyterian Church up on the hill off of Hwy 213 is named in his honor. Several of Robert’s brothers and sisters remained in the immediate area. Also, Robert ended up having 18 children himself. Several of the other siblings had large families as well. So over the next couple of generations, the community grew quite a bit and was almost exclusively made up of immediate family.

By the late 1800's, Hayston was a thriving place with multiple stores and businesses, a brickyard, train depot, tannery, gin, and a sawmill. Whereas Mansfield, as we discussed in a previous column, was a town created by completion of the railroad, Hayston was the complete opposite--when the C of G (Central of Georgia) bought the Middle Georgia & Atlantic Railway, it was brought through Hayston precisely because it was already an established town and was right in between Covington and Machen (an important hub as it served as the intersection of the Athens/Macon and Covington/Eatonton lines) and would serve as an ideal spot for a terminal and post office. Back in the days of mules, wagons, and horses, there was a genuine need to have as many things needed as close as possible. Going back a bit—one of the stores in Hayston was built by one of Robert's sons, Alexander Hamilton Stephens Hays. Alexander would be the first postmaster in Hayston and operated the general merchandise store for years until he turned it over to his son, H.S. “Stoney” Hays. Stoney became the city's 2nd Postmaster in 1936 and would serve in that capacity for over 20 years until they discontinued mail service there. Another of Robert Luther's children was a daughter named Mary Jane. In 1861 she married a Preacher by the name of Thomas Hezekiah Greer who was originally from South Carolina . This would start the Greer branch of the Hays line. Some of the Hays clan found their way to Texas where a good number of them still reside, but a good bit of them can still be found in and around the Hayston area. As an interesting aside, I found a McCart girl who married one of the Hays men back in the mid 1800's.

Like a lot of the other places we've covered in this column, the one-two punch of the Boll Weevil and The Great Depression was very tough for Hayston. Predominantly an agrarian community, Hayston was particularly vulnerable to the fortunes of “King Cotton.” The economic struggles of the 1930's also did no favors for the area. Over the next several decades, many of the historic buildings were lost to fire or Mother Nature (tornadoes in particular); however, several buildings dating back to the 19th century still remain. One of those buildings, the aforementioned store built by Alexander Hays, has recently found its way back into the family fold. Mr. Freddie is very excited about getting the building cleaned up and refurbished. There are also plans to start the arduous but rewarding process of getting Hayston added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Thanks for reading. Future columns will cover some more of the older communities and as well as some of the lost towns in this area. Also, keep an eye on my blog for several upcoming online-only articles. Until next time.

30 May 2011

Porterdale, GA

Porterdale’s roots go all the way back to the early part of the 19th century. Back then it was a community called Cedar Shoals and may have also been referred to as Boston before that. The area would continue to be known as Cedar Shoals until it was incorporated as Porterdale in 1917.

The town was named in honor of Oliver S. Porter who was in many ways the father of this town; however, to backtrack a bit, the grandfather of the town would have been Noah Phillips, a transplanted Connecticut man, who purchased several acres near Cedar Shoals in 1831 in order to start a wool and cotton factory. Over the years different owners and operations would come and go until the aforementioned Mr. Porter took over the Cedar Shoals operation in 1869. Expansions and growth with the company and the city would continue over the next several years.

Just as Oxford had a shared history with Oxford College, so did Porterdale with the factory. In 1898, a Macon outfit, Bibb Manufacturing Co., took over ownership of the Cedar Shoals Mill after having built their own mill about a decade earlier on the other side of the Yellow River.

Back in the earlier days, Oliver Porter married Julia Camp, who had been married to a Charles Camp before he passed away in the mid 1860's. Mr. Camp owned half the shares of the mill at the time that Porter would take over after he wed Julia in 1869. Julia already had a daughter with Camp, and the Porters would go on to have four children of their own. All of the Porter kids (excepting Mary, who died young) would go on to college at Emory and return to their native town in order to help the family business. In particular, their oldest son John was very instrumental in helping to build a school for the town and also to start bringing in medical care for the burgeoning mill village. One of the other sons, O.W., became the manager of the village general store. Both John and O.W. remained very much involved and active with the town through the years.

As mentioned earlier, Bibb MFG Co. out of Macon took over the Cedar Shoals Mills after having built their own on the north side of the river about a decade earlier. At the time, Bibb had mills in
several other cities including Macon and Columbus. In 1920, a newspaper was started up called The Bibb Recorder which served all of the cities that Bibb had mills in. The paper had a 50 year run that ended in 1970. Ask anybody around who lived or was raised in Porterdale back in the day and they'll no doubt tell you how important the Recorder was.

As the operations for Bibb grew through the 1920's and 30's more and more improvements were made to the city. Multiple schools were built in order to better serve the educational needs of the area. The first graduating class of Porterdale High School commenced in 1939. In addition to multiple stores, businesses, social clubs, and other things of the like, Porterdale even had its own hospital during this time. In fact, my wife's mother was born at that hospital as were countless other folks throughout the years. Throughout the 50's & 60's, the Bibb Mills employed upwards of 2500 people. During the early part of the 20th century, the company actually owned most of the quaint houses one will see in Porterdale, but by the 1960's, those houses were starting to be sold to the workers.

Eventually, Bibb closed down their operations and the town fell off a bit; however, over the last decade, Porterdale has had quite a resurgence. At the center of this is the lofts that have been developed at the mill on the north side of the river and the remodeling of the downtown business district. The future looks very bright for Porterdale, GA!

Oxford, GA

The city of Oxford, just north of Covington, is a lovely city that has a rich and unique story. The city has a shared and intertwined history with Oxford College of Emory University (originally called Emory College). First envisioned in the early 1830's by the Georgia Methodist Conference, the school was chartered in 1836 and was named for Bishop John Emory. Of the original 1400 acres deeded for the school, it was decided that 330 acres would become the town of Oxford and would be laid out next to the college. The name Oxford was chosen as it was where John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, had attended college in England.

The town would be incorporated in 1837, and the town lots were originally sold with a 999 year land lease that stipulated that “no intoxicating liquors shall be sold, nor any game of hazard allowed.” Although the lease rights were later converted to fee simple ownership, the restrictions on land use remained and throughout much of Oxford's history, no drinking; games of chance; or even profanity were allowed. In fact, an Emory student had to go to court in the 1920's for swearing in public. Through the years, both the city and college have grown.

When Emory moved to its Atlanta campus, the college went though some transformations but is now a 2 year liberal arts college of the Emory University system. The city of Oxford was declared the sixteenth shrine of the United Methodist Church in 1971.

To have been a college that may have had a few hundred students at any given time, Emory at Oxford has produced some very notable alumni. First and foremost would have to be Alben W. Barkley, the 35th Vice President of the united States of America. Barkley was Truman's running mate in the 1948 election that everyone thought the Democrats would lose but ended up winning. Barkley is widely credited with coming up with the line, "Give 'em Hell, Harry" and was also the first VP to be called "The Veep." Prior to that, he was a Congressman from Kentucky who served in both chambers from 1913 up to his VP role. He was Majority Leader of the Senate from 1937-1947. He would serve in the Senate again afterwords until his death in 1956. Barkley graduated from Oxford in 1900.

Again, to be such a small school, it is amazing to me that they can lay claim to a Vice President and a Supreme Court Justice! Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (September 17, 1825 – January 23, 1893), attended Oxford in the early 1840's graduating in 1845. He was born down the road in Putnam Co. and after attending Oxford, moved to Mississippi and practiced law there. He would move to Covington, Ga in the 1850's and started his political career as a state Representative. Later, he would move back to Mississippi and was elected to the U.S. House. After the Civil War, he eventually became Secretary of the Interior in Grover Cleveland's administration until he was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice in 1888. A historical marker on Floyd St. in downtown Covington is dedicated to Lamar.

Another fascinating and interesting bit of Oxford College history has to do with Dooley, the "Spirit of Emory." Dooley is kind of the unofficial mascot of Oxford (Emory has their own as well). First documented in the late 1800's when he wrote a letter to the campus newspaper, Dooley's story is quite interesting, indeed. Originally a skeleton in the Science Dept., Dooley's legend would grow through the years. To this day, he is still a vital part of both Oxford and Emory. I actually had the rare privilege to see Dooley in person at Oxford sometime in 1994 or 95. Learn more here and here.

The city of Oxford has a lot going on right now. They just completed a new City Hall that seems like it would be more suitable for a town twice as big, but a very nice building nonetheless. Oxford is also known for their 4th of July parade and festivities that bring in a lot of visitors every year as well as their extensive trails and bike system. By the way, remember the bit at the beginning of the article about "no intoxicating liquors?" Well...technically--that is still the law of the land according to Oxford City Hall. Learn more about the city their webpage.

Thanks for reading!

02 May 2011

Georgia Historical Markers

Anyone driving through Georgia has no doubt seen the brown markers dotted throughout our state that have been erected by the Georgia Historical Commission. A lot of these markers date back to the 1950's although newer ones are being erected all the time. If you've ever wanted to find a centralized database for all of these--this is the website to go to:

The Georgia Historical Society -- Historical Marker Index
Georgia Historical Markers

In addition to markers by the Georgia Historical Commission, you can also search for markers erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Georgia Historical Society. Furthermore, you can search based on subject, date, location, and several other criteria. A very interesting and fun website, but be prepared to spend some time...it is very addictive!

Here are a few featured markers:

Gov. William Rabun

The March to the Sea

Capture of Covington

Also equally worthy of attention is the main website for the Georgia Historical Society

16 March 2011

St. Patrick's Day

By Marshall McCart

Greetings everybody! Hope all is well out there. As I write this column, we find ourselves in the third week of some wonderfully warm and spring-like weather. It’s been great. It’s hard to believe that we’re already having to put a “3” in the date section of our checks, isn’t it? And as March comes, so does St. Patrick’s Day—one of my favorite celebrations.

The old saying is that everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m actually part Irish so I have somewhat of a vested interest in this celebration. As far as I’ve been able to gather, my great, great, great, great-grandfather, James McCart, was the one who traveled from the Mother Country to the States. It was his son and my 3rd great-grandfather, William Marion McCart Sr., who brought his clan to the Covington area in the mid 1800’s by way of Abbeville , SC and Lavonia , GA. But that is another tale for another time; one that I plan to write about in a future column.

So, what is St. Patrick’s Day exactly? It’s the celebration of St. Patrick, a 5th century A.D. Christian missionary who spread the good word and “cast out the serpents” from Ireland. The serpent bit is not literal or factual as it is believed that post-ice age Ireland never had any snakes. The serpents are more likely a symbol of the pre-Christian paganism and heathenism that gripped Ireland prior to Patrick’s arrival. More specifically, the Druids were the primary religious force in Celtic Ireland during this time. The Druids also acted as judges, teachers, and historians. They were also, unfortunately, the ones who carried out the sacrifices.

And this brings me to another family tie-in (sort of)—one of the last “High Kings” of pre-Christian Ireland was one Cormac Mac Airt (McCart), whom some McCarts are thought to be descended from. Cormac’s legend is somewhat questionable but it is thought to be at least partially rooted in fact. Cormac was prone to magic and received counsel from the Druids and met his demise by choking on a salmon bone after several years of rule. I’ve thought about trying to go to Ireland to retain the family’s rightful throne, but I don’t think the folks over there would be too impressed. But I digress…

Patrick, by all accounts, was a great man and almost single-handedly turned a pagan society into a Christian one. The celebration enjoys much interest in the cities and areas of our country that traditionally have had a lot of Irish immigrants. Boston , New York , Chicago , and other cities have large parades, green rivers, and lots of other festivities. Good ole Savannah , GA is known as one the best destination locations for those wanting to celebrate St. Patrick in the South. And as a quick aside, it’s not St. Patty’s Day—it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

But perhaps the best part of this holiday, for me personally, is that it is a perfect opportunity to fix one of my all-time favorite meals—Corned Beef, Potatoes, & Cabbage. I’ve been told by a few folks that I make the best they’ve ever had, so I thought I’d share my recipe with y'all.
Buy yourself a corned beef brisket at the store. It will come with some seasonings. Get yourself a bag of new potatoes, 2 medium onions, and a head of cabbage. Some say you have to use carrots to make it a truly Irish dish, but I disagree. I love carrots in a pot roast, but not for this.

I like to do mine in a Crock-Pot. Put it on high and fill it a little under halfway with water and add 6 oz. of Harp Lager and 2 shots of Irish Whiskey and throw in your brisket with the seasonings it came with. Then either quarter, third, or halve your potatoes (depending on how big they are) and throw them in. I’ll usually use 10-12 smaller ones or 6-8 larger ones. Add some of salt and pepper and let it cook for about an hour. Then cut up your onion and put that in with a touch more whiskey and beer (about a shot of the former & approx. 4 oz of the latter. Turn it to low and let it cook during the day while you’re at work. Then about an hour before you’re ready to eat, cut up your cabbage and put it in and add a touch more whiskey, beer, salt, and pepper. An hour later, and you're ready to eat. You can also do it in the oven at 350. Do the brisket and potatoes for an hour; then the onions for an hour; and then the cabbage for an hour.

When you're ready to serve, remember to cut the meat against the grain. If you're industrious, you can Google the recipe for Irish Soda Bread to go with the meal. I just use loaf bread. In terms of drink, I like to accompany my meal with Bushmills, either neat or on the rocks, and a nice “Half & Half.”—never to be confused with its more popular cousin, the “Black & Tan”, a ½ & ½ is created by pouring a half glass of Harp Lager and topping it with an equal amount of Guinness Stout.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody! And remember to wear something green or you just might get pinched by a rogue Leprechaun!

01 February 2011

Two Really Good Stories--CF Riders & The Newborn Jubilee

Happy New Year

By Marshall McCart
*My recent column from "About Covington to Madison" Magazine

Hello everyone! It’s so good to be back with you once again. I hope you all are having a great new year so far. Last column, I ventured out of my comfort zone a bit and shared some of my fiction with you guys. Several of you commented as to how much you enjoyed it. That really means a lot to me and I appreciate it! As always, I'm grateful for you reading it and for your feedback. I'll be returning to my usual historical columns in the near future and am also planning on getting some more fiction out there as well; but, in the meantime, I'm going to switch things up one more time. This month I’d like to share a couple of really great things that are happening . They’re both really good stories involving really good people.

CF Riders
I went to high school with a really sweet girl by the name of Christie Byrd. Several of you probably know and remember Christie and her family from the North Oxford area. Christie went on to college and taught for several years at Palmer Stone in her hometown of Oxford . Christie’s last name is now Johnson as she married a fellow by the name of Brian Johnson and they now reside in Alabama. Brian and Christie are also the very proud parents of a beautiful little girl named
Hayden. These days, Christie is a self-described “full time wife and mommy.”

Her husband Brian seems like a heck of a guy…he’s also a very brave man. You see, Brian has Cystic Fibrosis. He was diagnosed when he was 7 years old and told he might not make it past high school. But now, 30 years later, Brian is a living testament to all things being possible. Some time back, Brian decided that he wanted to do more than just live his everyday life while managing his disease. He decided that he wanted to spread the word, give back, and help others who share his plight. So Brian and Christie founded CF Riders—an organization with the mission of spreading awareness and seeking a cure “one mile at a time.”

And here’s the kicker—Brian likes to ride…a Harley Davidson in particular. And starting on April 14th, Brian, on his bike, and with Christie and Hayden in tow in a vehicle behind him, will leave out from Birmingham, AL on a ten week journey including 40-plus stops from Texas to California and from New York to Florida including a couple of stops here in Georgia. They should pass through Covington sometime around the middle of June . It’s a great story, a great mission, and a great cause. Please visit their webpage at www.cfriders.org and look them up on facebook by searching CF Riders.

Newborn Jubilee

Many folks were pretty upset to see the Newborn Opry close down after a wonderful, multi-year run. It seemed pretty sad that after the Newborn Area Heritage Trust, with the help of some wonderful local generosity, had made some badly needed repairs to the old Newborn School House--the Opry would no longer be around to enjoy the fruits of those labors. But like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the spirit of the Opry lives on.

Steve Biggers also hated to see the Opry go and wanted to do something about. Mr. Steve also happens to be my father-in-law and he’s as good as they come. His passions are faith, family, and music (and maybe a little bit of golf). So Mr. Steve has started up the Newborn Jubilee at the old School House and on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month you can head on down and get some of that good old-timey, country, bluegrass and gospel music that will make you dance and sing and feel the spirit! This past Saturday, January 15, I was proud to play a set with The Biggers Family Band, a country & gospel group that I play with from time to time with my wife and Mr. Steve and the rest of their wonderful family. I know I’ve mentioned them in a previous column but…what can I say? I just can’t help myself. They’re darn good people! In addition to hearing great music and having a wonderful time, supporting the Jubilee has two main benefits--you’re helping to support local music and you’re helping to maintain the historic Newborn School House. Visit the Newborn Jubilee’s webpage at: www.reverbnation.com/venue/newborndixiejubilee and visit the Newborn Area Heritage Trust at: www.newbornschoolhouse.org

You can email Marshall at marshmanslim@yahoo.com . Previous columns can be found at his blog: www.thepiedmontchronicles.blogspot.com