Below are three stories Victoria wrote for
During the Civil War, the women of LaGrange organized
themselves into a military company which they named the "Nancy Harts" for
the Revolutionary heroine (see Tour 4). Preceding the Women’s Army Corps (WAC)
of World War II by 80 years, the Nancy Harts were ready to fight and had
even become excellent markswoman (although their first practice ended in the
death of a cow). Two of the Harts, 3rd Lt. Andelia Bull and 2nd Cpl. Sallie
Bull, held the practice at their father’s, Judge Orville Augustus Bull,
pasture. Their first rounds were fired with eyes shut and resulted in the
death of one of their father’s cows.
It is on private property beyond this gate that the home of Shelman Heights once stood. Now, many Georgians can say that they outsmarted Sherman’s army and by various means ended up with home and goods intact. From the use of Masonic symbols to downright conniving, Georgians went through all manner of manipulations to keep their personal property from being destroyed. But Cecelia Stovall Shelman of Shelman Heights could truthfully say that love saved her home. But not just any love. First love. And that love was William Tecumseh Sherman.
Cecelia’s brother, Marcellus, was attending West Point Military Academy in 1836, when she went up to attend the dances. And who should fall hardest for the dark-eyed beauty but her brother’s roommate, William Tecumseh Sherman.
The daughter of a wealthy Augusta cotton merchant, Cecelia met Sherman’s advances plainly: "Your eyes are so cold and cruel," she is said to have told him. "I pity the man who ever becomes your foe. Ah, how you would crush an enemy."
Sherman is said to have responded, "Even though you were my enemy, my dear, I would ever love and protect you."
But, the romance was not to continue. Marcellus resigned from West Point because of ill health the following year, and decided to make the Grand Tour of Europe. Cecelia accompanied him and managed to be in London to witness the coronation of Queen Victoria.
Afterwards, she returned to Augusta where she became interested in another West Point graduate. Unfortunately, Richard Garnett, stationed at the U.S. Arsenal there, did not have a large enough salary to suit Cecelia’s father so he packed her off to South Carolina to visit relatives and to let distance kill the blossoming romance. Oddly enough, while Cecelia was cooling her heels in South Carolina, who should be stationed in Augusta but Sherman. Chances are the young lieutenant wouldn’t have suited Cecelia’s father either as he was looking for someone wealthy to marry his daughter. One must wonder, though, if Sherman’s heart didn’t beat a little faster when he was told where he was to be stationed.
While in South Carolina, Cecelia met and fell in love with Charles T. Shelman, who was a native of Cass (now Bartow) County. Her father approved of this match and the two were married in 1848. Later, the two would return to Bartow County where Shelman would build his wife a beautiful white home with six Doric columns atop a bluff overlooking the Etowah River. The couple was living here when the War Between the States began in 1861.
In 1864, Sherman arrived to pay a call at Shelman Heights. This time he was a major general at the head of an invading army. When the home was brought to his attention, Sherman decided to see what it had to offer despite the fact it was slightly off his course.
Riding up to the gate, Sherman and a fellow officer were met by an elderly black slave who was lamenting their arrival.
"I sho’ly is glad Miss Cecelia ain’t here to see it with her own eyes," he is said to have uttered repeatedly.
"Miss Cecelia?" Sherman is said to echoed, "Not Miss Cecelia Stovall?"
Well, yes, but she was now Mrs. Shelman. Sherman was just asking to be received by his former belle when he was informed that Captain Shelman was in the Confederate Army, and that Miss Cecelia had refugeed. This aged servant was the only one left to take care of the place. Sherman then left a written message that still remains in the family today.
Before riding off, Sherman made sure that everything that had been taken was replaced, and he made sure guards were left to stand watch until the entire Army passed through.
To Joe, Cecelia’s faithful servant, he said, "Say to your mistress for me that she might have remained in her home in safety; that she and her property would have been protected. Hand her this when you see her."
And when Cecelia returned to her unharmed home, she read:
"You once said that I would crush an enemy and you pitied my foe. Do you recall my reply? Although many years have passed, my answer is the same. I would ever shield and protect you. That I have done. Forgive all else. I am only a soldier.
Shelman Heights later burned to the ground (on New Year’s day in 1911). Captain Shelman died in 1886 but Cecelia lived on until 1904 in her home that stood tall and beautiful on Shelman’s Bluff.
A note to the reader who has this story reproduced here without the benefit of the remainder of the tour in the book. The former site of Shelman Heights is just off GA 113 west of Cartersville.
In May of 1877, the earlier courthouse on the square provided the forum for Anthony Goble’s murder trial. The previous November, Goble was drinking whiskey next to Matt Barnes government-licensed distillery, part of the small crowd of drinkers on hand that day. Wofford Brown of Gordon County approached Goble to confront him about an incident that occurred during the Civil War. Brown accused Goble’s father of stealing meat from Brown’s father and further charged that Goble had eaten some of the stolen meat himself. Goble answered the charges saying that he was just a boy during the war and didn’t know anything about what Brown was talking about.
Goble was a powerfully built man, who didn’t take insults lightly, but witnesses noticed no animosity between the two after the accusation. In fact, Goble seemed to befriend Brown, who later asked that Goble show him the way to the Watkin’s house. Goble obliged and accompanied by Brown’s travelling partner, William Gentry, left in good spirits to show his new acquaintance the way. Gentry left the two men a short distance later about 1:30 p.m.
At eight that evening, Goble showed up at the home of a Mrs. Tuck. He told her and several others in her house that he had been fighting and killed a man, showing them his blood-soaked hands. They assumed he was joking, using the blood of a slaughtered animal for his ruse. But when he saw their disbelief, he pulled a handful of ragged whiskers from his pocket as further evidence of his crime. "If you give me a dollar apiece for them, I will go and stick them back," he said to the horror of those in Tuck’s home.
Goble lead them to Brown’s body. He was horribly injured, and the Dahlonega Signal and Advertiser reported it from the trial as, "the worst mangled body that was ever heard of." But, to the relief of the group, Brown was still alive and seemed to be trying to crawl away from his attacker. Goble then attacked Brown a second time, kicking and beating until he was pulled away by the men at what was now a murder scene as Brown was dead.
Goble was sent to the jail in Cobb County to prevent his family from breaking him out. He returned to the courthouse in Ellijay on May 14 of 1877 and pleaded "not guilty." Numerous witnesses testified against Goble, who offered no words in his own defense, nor would anyone testify on his behalf. He was pronounced guilty and sentenced to hang, with the execution slated for June 22.
No legal hanging had ever taken place in Gilmer County, as law was dispensed on a more personal level, retribution, in most cases. Several officials were uneasy at how Goble’s family and friends might react toward whoever pulled the trap on the execution. The sheriff, to whom this duty would usually fall, resigned his job over the matter. Several others refused to trigger the gallows. Dr. James Johnson, county coroner and a friend of Goble’s from their early days finally agreed to do the deed.
The execution took place in a natural amphitheater up the hill behind the town and cemetery. It became known as Hang Hollow. Today it is on private property off Corbin Hill Road. On the morning of the execution, Goble made a profession of faith and was baptized into the Methodist Church. He rode in a wagon, seated on his own coffin, up the steep winding path to the gallows, where a large crowd was on hand for the spectacle. Goble read a confession, blaming his crime on bad influences and hard liquor. He then personally greeted several hundred friends and family who filed by the wagon to say their last good-byes.
A thunderstorm moved in over the town as the time of the execution neared. When everything was in order and Goble said he was ready, Dr. Johnson tried, without success, to pull the trigger on the trap door. Several hard pulls on the trigger rope were with no effect. The coroner then dug his feet in, wrapped the rope around his wrists and pulled with all his might. The trap released and Tone Goble was hanged at last.
Dr. Johnson, whose house then stood on the courthouse square at the site of today’s courthouse, soon moved out of town.
A note to the reader who has this story reproduced here without the benefit of the remainder of the tour in the book. This story is relates to the courthouse square in Ellijay.
The 15 tours in this book—the ninth volume in John F. Blair's Touring the Backroads Series—hold surprises even for longtime Georgia residents. Avoiding major thoroughfares wherever possible, they seek out hidden treasures—scenic vistas, people famous or colorful, the tangible reminders or the tales they left behind. Both a touring guide and an informal history primer, it is sure to satisfy residents, visitors, and armchair travelers alike.
"Written as a lively narrative, Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia
Published by John F. Blair, Publisher