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Col. Candler defied mob to protect Union officer

POSTED: January 12, 2014 1:00 a.m.

An incident during the Civil War tells much about the character of A.D. Candler of Gainesville, who later served as mayor, U.S. representative and as Georgia’s governor.

Candler enlisted in the Confederate Army at age 26 in 1861. Within a month, he had been promoted from private to first lieutenant, then captain within a year. He later advanced to lieutenant colonel and colonel.

He fought in some of the most crucial battles against federal forces.

At one point Candler was in charge of a prominent Union general, Neal Dow, whom the Confederates had captured. Candler’s assignment was to return Dow to Richmond and exchange him for a Confederate prisoner of equal rank.

On the way, he allowed Dow to rest in the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery, Ala. To Confederate sympathizers, the general was the most obnoxious of Union commanders and a noted abolitionist. When citizens of Montgomery and others learned Dow was in the hotel, they rallied to roust him out.

The mob’s hopes were “seizing him and disposing of him in the manner of Judge Lynch,” a newspaper reported, the “Judge Lynch” referring to lynching perhaps by hanging him from the nearest tree.

Not wanting this to happen, Candler hid Gen. Dow and sneaked him out of the hotel and finally to Richmond for the prisoner exchange.

“It was an unpopular and dangerous thing to do,” a newspaper wrote, “but Candler resolved at any risk to protect his prisoner while in his custody,” a demonstration of his “fearlessness, fidelity and manliness.”

Candler lost his left eye in a battle at Jonesboro, and at the end of the war, declaring his assets, he was famously quoted as saying all he had was “one wife, one baby, one dollar and one eye.” That might have served him well as he became known as “the one-eyed plough boy from Pigeon Roost” during his political campaigns.

And while at the end of the war, he and his wife had just one baby, they became quite busy thereafter, producing a total of 11 children.

• • •

A row of businesses on South Main Street once stood at the site of the former Georgia Mountains Center, now part of Brenau University. They included the Gainesville News, Western Auto, Polly’s Beauty Shop, Hardy’s Studio and N.C. White Studio across the street from the Royal Theater and Collegiate Grill.

At the top of a stairwell in one of the buildings were WDUN radio station on the right and Terrel Beauty College on the left. The beauty college was the first school for potential beauticians in Gainesville, Dorothy Terrel having started it in the late 1930s after moving with her husband from Westchester, N.Y.

Immediately after World War II, there were only a handful of beauty shops in Gainesville, including Modern owned by Lena Chastain and Dixie in the Jackson Building and Ruth’s across the street. Mrs. Terrel kept them supplied with her graduates.

The beauty college is long gone, but today there are scads of beauty parlors and a couple of schools training beauticians in addition to a cosmetology program at Lanier Tech. One of those is the Academy of Beauty and Cosmetology operated by Doug Gee, who remembers when Terrel was the only such training site.

Doris Fosnocht recalls Mrs. Terrel as a strict instructor, a tall beauty with jet-black hair. As a teenager, Doris worked summers at her college, making appointments and mixing shampoo from powder in 5-gallon containers. She walked to work from her home, the old Carter house, farther down South Main. Students would do women’s hair free for practice, but paying clients would have their hair done by trained stylists in Terrel’s beauty parlor.

Permanent waves had been around a few years and were valued by women, as were the beehive hairdos that became the rage in the 1950s. Mrs. Fosnocht remembers as a child after the 1936 tornado that struck Gainesville, a woman approached her family’s home on South Main in the pouring rain, a newspaper over her head. Apparently more concerned about her hairdo than the destruction around her, the woman asked, “Can I come up on your porch? I just got a new permanent.”

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.


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