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Johnny Vardeman: Tales of monuments, men, marble and money
Johnny Vardeman

When plans for the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital first took shape about 1914, there was a bit of controversy about whose marble would be used, Georgia’s or Colorado’s.

Ninth District Rep. Tom Bell of Gainesville naturally promoted Georgia marble because quarries were in his district in Pickens County at Tate. He had opposition from Colorado congressmen, who pushed for that state’s yule marble.

The design and construction of the edifice took place over the next several years, and the dedication of the $2 million Lincoln Memorial didn’t happen until 1922. The materials used resulted from a then-typical congressional compromise. 

Although a fine arts commission favored the Georgia marble, the exterior, modeled as a likeness of a Greek temple, ended up with Colorado’s yule marble. Rep. Bell was successful, however, in having Georgia marble used for the statue of Lincoln itself.

Tennessee also got into the act, with its marble used for the pedestal on which Lincoln’s statue rests.

There was no controversy about a monument to Gov. A.D. Candler of Gainesville when he died. The popular governor had friends all over, in high places as well as the ordinary citizen.

12172017 AD CANDLER
Georgia Gov. A.D. Candler of Gainesville is buried in Alta Vista Cemetery. A Civil War officer, he served in both the U.S. House and Senate, as Secretary of State, and as governor from 1898-1902. He died Oct. 26, 1910. - photo by For The Times

So it wasn’t hard to raise money for a tribute to him. It isn’t as well known as monuments to others as it sits at his gravesite in Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville, seen only by passersby or tourists to the graveyard.

The inscription reads: Placed in Memory of Allen Daniel Candler, Nov. 4,1834-Oct. 26, 1910. 1859 Graduate of Mercer University; Confederate Colonel 1861-65; House of Representatives 1873-78; Senate 1878-80; Congress 1883-91; Secretary of State 1878-80; Governor 1898-1902; Compiler of State Records 1902-1910.

He was an upright man, patriotic citizen, a true soldier and a faithful public servant, who in peace and in war, exemplified the virtues of incorruptible integrity, fearless courage and unselfish devotion to the welfare of his country.

Candler is remembered more as governor of Georgia, but he served as an officer in the Confederate Army in the Civil War. When the war was over, he made this famous comment about what he was left with: “One wife, one baby, one dollar and one eye.” He lost an eye in a Civil War battle.

Col. Christopher Columbus Sanders, who prospered in Gainesville after the Civil War, also was wounded twice in battle. He fought for the Confederacy in some of the war’s fiercest fights.

But perhaps he came closest to death after he was captured by Union forces. His unit surrendered just three days before Gen. Robert E. Lee conceded to Union Gen. Ulysses Grant. Sanders and his fellow soldiers were to be imprisoned in Delaware, but were housed temporarily in barracks in what was then called Washington City. He was there the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Mobs of people outraged over the death of their president rushed the barracks, and Sanders recalled years later that they expected the Confederate prisoners would be taken out and hanged. However, Union soldiers came to their rescue and prevented any of the mob getting to the Confederates.

The prisoners were later transferred to a Union prison in Ohio.

A monument to Sanders originally was planned for the center of the Gainesville square, where the current Confederate statue, “Old Joe,” stands. Instead, a statue of Sanders on a pedestal that contained a fountain was erected at the corner of the old post office, Washington and South Green streets. The 1936 tornado tore it to pieces.

Sanders entered the war as a private in the 34th Georgia Regiment, quickly advancing through the ranks to end the war as a colonel. He died in 1908.

In 1921, a committee led by the Women’s Auxiliary of American Legion, urged Gainesville residents to “buy a stone,” for a memorial to World War I dead. It was to be erected in the triangle between Green Street Circle and Riverside Drive, now Thompson Bridge Road and Ronnie Green Parkway in front of the Civic Center. 

That intersection was redesigned and reconstructed, and the monument now stands in front of American Legion Post 7 at the end of Riverside Drive. The 7-foot tall boulder contains names of World War I veterans from Hall County, one side devoted to those who died in the war.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times whose column appears Sundays. 

He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; e-mail

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