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Column: These 2 monuments honor Hall County's WWI dead
Johnny_Vardeman
Johnny Vardeman

Another Memorial Day passed, but without the usual ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No big parade and though they might not have received the attention they usually get, there were tributes to those who died in the service of their country, 

Melinda Wade of the William Candler Chapter Daughters of the Revolution reminds us that one of the sometimes-overlooked memorials is in a special plot in Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville. She relates the history of the monument that stands in the plot.

In January 1922, Jones Marble Co. of Gainesville agreed to donate a granite boulder to be used by the DAR to honor those who died in World War I. In May of that year, the DAR unveiled the monument in the plot on Memorial Drive in the cemetery.

The inscription reads: “Planted and Dedicated by Col. William Candler Chapter, Daughters of American Revolution As a Memorial to Hall County’s Immortal Dead in the World War.” It contains the names of the 32 from the county who died in World War I.

The monument can be viewed in Alta Vista Cemetery in Patriots Park at the DAR plot at N.E. 2nd St. and Jesse Jewell Parkway. In the same plot are three headstones: those of Beale Baker and William Clark, Revolutionary War veterans, and Clark’s wife, Ruth Goodwin Clark.

Another monument to World War I dead stands at the entrance to American Legion Post 7 at the end of Riverside Drive in Gainesville. It contains the names of 29 dead. The monument was installed originally in the triangle between Riverside Drive and Thompson Bridge Road but was moved when those roads were redesigned.

Found in a book

Hall County’s textile mills, past and present, are featured in a book, “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia,” by Lisa M. Russell.

The book is about mill villages that sprang up specifically in North Georgia, at the same time manufacturers were moving South from their northern roots. Many are long gone.

The author is good at finding “lost” places, having written previously “Lost Towns of North Georgia” and “Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia.”

The mill book devotes a chapter to the Hall County mill villages of New Holland, Chicopee and Gainesville Mill. Only the Milliken mill at New Holland remains in operation.

The New Holland and Gainesville mills began operating at the turn of the 20th century. As the book points out, both suffered damage and death from tornadoes. The Gainesville Mill had been operating only a short time when the 1903 tornado sheared its top floor, where many children were working.

As the book mentions, homes in the mill village suffered little or no damage, but the mill was heavily damaged. The opposite was true when the storm continued to travel to New Holland, where 70 of 120 village homes were lost but the mill building escaped serious damage. Dozens died in New Holland village.

The book goes into the history of both mills as well as Chicopee Manufacturing, which opened in 1927. All three mill buildings stand, but only New Holland operates as a textile manufacturer.

Billys in 1960

The recent local history trivia quiz erred in the Gainesville High School graduation dates for football stars Billy Martin and Billy Lothridge. Their final high school football season was 1959, and they graduated in 1960.

In a column, the late Times sports editor Phil Jackson told a story about Hall of Fame pro quarterback Roger Staubach’s visit to Gainesville. Staubach played for the U.S. Naval Academy and beat out Lothridge for the Heisman Trophy in 1963. While in military service at the Naval Supply Corps in Athens, he came to Gainesville to play in a recreation basketball league tournament. While here, somebody stole the hubcabs from his car parked at the Gainesville High School gym.

Somebody suggested it might have been revenge for Lothridge’s loss to Staubach.

Lothridge, who at the time was playing for the Atlanta Falcons, quickly let it be known he had nothing to do with the missing hubcabs.

Both followed up their successful college careers with successes in the National Football League.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; email, vardeman1956@att.net or johnny.peggy1956@gmail.com. His column publishes weekly.

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