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Johnny Vardeman: Whistle stop failed to halt for candidate in Gainesville
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One of the largest crowds ever at a political event was supposed to gather in Gainesville in April 1912. Gov. Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey was campaigning for president and scheduled a stop in Gainesville. He was to be escorted from the depot and make an address in the public square.

Gainesvillians couldn’t believe it when estimates of the potential crowd were at 12,000. They didn’t have to, because the train was three hours late, and the governor’s train didn’t stop in Gainesville. It was to have been his first public speech in Georgia since his campaign began. A special train from Atlanta was to have brought supporters and politicians to the rally.

His absence from Hall County didn’t seem to matter in the election. Wilson, a Democrat, won Hall County with 1,145 votes to 275 for Bull Moose Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt and 116 for Republican incumbent President William Taft.

Wilson carried the 9th District with 8,502 votes to Roosevelt’s 4,841 and Taft’s 964, losing only Cherokee and Pickens counties.

Wilson had been a familiar figure in Gainesville as two of his daughters had been born here. Their mother, Ellen Louise Axson, was Gen. James Longstreet’s cousin, and a niece of Mrs. Warren A. Brown, who lived here.

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Estes department store was a fixture on Gainesville’s downtown square for many years. But it changed locations several times.

Actually George Estes and William Hosch first opened a store in Flowery Branch, but it burned. They relocated as Estes and Hosch in 1889 to the west side of Gainesville’s square where Saul’s is today.

Hosch left the firm in 1893, and it changed the name of Estes alone. It then moved to the corner of Spring and Main where Main Street Market is now. The third move was to the corner of Main and Washington in 1903. It remained there until 1957 when it moved to the corner of Bradford and Washington, where Christopher’s Tuxedo and Bridal is today.

Estes was among stores demolished in the 1936 tornado, and a fire destroyed it again in 1967. It rebuilt and operated for several more years.

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Many people have pleasant memories of the Cake Box bakery, which operated in Gainesville for 45 years. Frances Darden was among those searching for the recipe for the bakery’s signature product: fantail bread.

She wrote, “My memories came flooding back along with a desire to give my children and grandchildren a taste of this culinary delight. It goes without saying that this iconic bread definitely leaves a taste on your palate that will linger for a very, very long time.

“My mom sold insurance for Colonial Life Insurance Co. Her sales took her all over Georgia ... It would seem that her travels would eventually lead to a bakery small in size, but big on quality and friendliness. I have no idea how she came across this jewel. However, I am so thankful and I continue to think her direction was by Heaven’s GPS.

“She would purchase many, many loaves of this light, airy, beautiful bread to bring home to our family. Upon running out to greet her, just the aroma from the car was enough to let us know she had been Gainesville bound. We scrambled to take the prize inside and to pull apart a loaf and share the bread along with the stories of her travels ... My brother, sister, Dad (a dairy farmer) and an aunt would all indulge in the blessings of that homecoming.”

Mrs. Darden also suggested those interested Google “fantail bread, Gainesville, Ga.,” where they might find other stories, recipes and fellow fantail fans.

• • •

J.B.G. Logan was almost like a cat with nine lives, the Banks County Journal suggested in 1921. Logan had been run over by a Southern Railway train engine, but suffered only minor injuries. A 1,400-pound horse backed a buggy off the Hudson River bridge and fell on him with few injuries. A car he was in ran into a hole in the road and ejected him, but he landed on his feet. Another time he suffered a head injury when a similar accident happened.

Still another time, he was riding in a car when it overturned and ejected him, but he wasn’t injured.

“He is now enjoying the best of health,” the Banks County newspaper reported, “and all bones are sound, no scars, blemishes or wind galls.”

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.