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Seeding ground with gold failed to profit crooks
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At the height of the Lumpkin County gold rush, people from all over the country were coming to North Georgia to pursue their personal fortune. Locals sometimes were prone to take advantage of gullible outside prospectors.

Two mountaineers got the idea if they could “plant” some nuggets in the ground, they could sell their land at a high price. The story goes that they stuffed the barrels of a shotgun with gold nuggets several times and shot them into a soft embankment. Some high-rollers were in Gainesville and set out for Auraria in Lumpkin County to scout out some mining land.

However, while the would-be swindlers were on their way to fetch their quarry, a woman who had witnessed the “salting” of the dirt bank dug out quite a bit of the gold the mountaineers had planted.

Her actions fouled up the plot, and the out-of-towners, finding no gold, didn’t make a deal.
The irony is the same plot of land later sold for $3 an acre to a New Yorker, who was said to have profited $640,000 from the gold he mined there.

• • •

Even after railroads started bringing trains to this area in the 1870s, stage coaches still did a bustling business because people had to get to where the tracks ran. And stages and horses were the primary mail carriers until automobiles started plying the roads.

In 1848, J.A. Clark advertised stage coach routes through Northeast Georgia. His stages carried passengers as well as taking mail to general stores and other sites that served as post offices. “Four-horse post coaches,” as they were called, would leave Athens at 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and arrive in Gainesville at 7 p.m. the same day.

Of course, it made stops along the way, but compare that nine-hour trip over rough roads to the 45-minute drive today, much of it over four paved lanes of highway.

Stage coaches would leave Gainesville at 4 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and arrive in Athens at noon same day. There also was a route from Stone Mountain three days a week, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to Gainesville. Going back the other way from Gainesville to Stone Mountain via Lawrenceville would take 11 hours.

Stages also ran from Gainesville to Clarkesville via White Sulphur Springs resort north of New Holland and also to Habersham Falls.

Those were the regular routes at the time. Probably for a premium fare, passengers could arrange rides to most any point in Northeast Georgia with decent roads at most anytime.

• • •

Mary Alice Segars of Gillsville remembers the car dealerships in and around downtown Gainesville in the 1950s. She especially recalls one just off the square at 323West Washington St.: Lee Waldrip Motors, across from then Gainesville High School, now Gym of ’36, just before the present Peach State Bank.

She has a special souvenir of those days from Lee Waldrip’s dealership, which carried Willys Jeeps and Overlands. Her father, Hurst Jarrett, bought a 1952 Willys in August of that year. Mary Alice still has it and is restoring it.

• • •

The “Civil War” is the most commonly accepted term for the war between the Confederacy and the United States of America 1861-65. But it has had several names, debated down through the decades and even today some difference of opinion.

United Daughters of the Confederacy years ago got some support in Congress for officially naming the conflict “The War Between the States,” but the term never got off the ground officially. Many Southerners still prefer that name, and you might still see it on bumper stickers occasionally.

The war also has been called the War of Rebellion, the War for Southern Independence, the War of Northern Aggression, the War of Secession and the War Between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America, depending on your point of view or where you live.

The Civil War name gained credence in the years after the war when prominent military and political leaders on both sides, North and South, used the term in their writings, as well as historians. But diehards on both sides of the issue who like to prolong the fight find it fun, if not seriously, to continue to argue about it from time to time.

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

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