Our History: Five Little Boys...Five Grown Men
These five Douglas County men helped to create laws that effected citizens across the state of Georgia.
I have a Word document where I store bits and pieces of the Douglas County story as i find them...bits and pieces where I feel I need more details or I need to verify facts. I currently have a 68 page document full of bits and pieces.
Yes....68 pages! I need to whittle it down a bit, so....
I decided I would hold my nose and go ahead and dive in with the story of the five little boys.
Many, many months ago a few lines I read in Fannie Mae Davis' book concerning Douglas County history caught my eye.
Five little boys born in Douglas County played ball, hunted, fished, swam in the same creek together, attended the same schools, and played tricks and jokes on each other.
Now that one line isn't very special other than I'm the mother of a former little boy, and I can testify he did all of those things. In fact, now that he's a handsome grown man....he still does those same things.
Most men do, right????
Fannie Mae Davis continues....
Only one remained in Douglas County once grown. All prospered and became leading citizens.
In 1915, their counties sent them to the state legislature where they had a reunion for the first time since they were boys.
Ah....there's that interesting turn of history that I like.
Even though they all went their separate ways they ended up as productive citizens and served in the Georgia General Assembly.
The five little boys were.....
John Edwards representing Haralson County...
W.I. Dorris representing Douglas County....
J.B. Baggett representing Paulding County....
L.Z. Dorsett representing Carroll County....and
W.H. Dorris representing Crisp County.
So, for a three year period beginning in 1915 the five served in the General Assembly. Historically speaking let's set the context of the time these five men had swirling about them as they helped to create laws that effected citizens across the state of Georgia.
The year was 1915...the year Leo Frank was hung by a mob of citizens for the murder of Mary Phagan, and Gutzon Borglum met with members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy regarding a proposed carving on Stone Mountain. Frank's hanging would lead to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan atop Stone Mountain when a rally was held in 1915.
The men would have known about an earthquake that struck just 30 miles southeast of Atlanta in 1916, and in 1917 with the United States' entry into World War I eminent the battleship Georgia was commissioned again to serve as an escort and troop transport ship. The five men would also have been in shock as many were concerning the Great Atlanta Fire when 300 acres of homes and businesses were destroyed.
Now that our perspective has been sharpened a bit regarding the time period let's see what exists "out there" about the five little boys who grew to be state legislators.
I found the least amount of information for John S. Edwards (1867-1941). The representative from Haralson County was married to Margaret Milisi Head and prior to being a member of the General Assembly he was the mayor of Buchanan, Georgia in 1907.
W.I. Dorris...William Irvine Dorris (1867-1940) was married to Sarah Elizabeth Taylor. He served as the representative from Douglas County from 1913 to 1917. The Atlanta Constitution dated June 26, 1915 advised Dorris introduced a bill to provide for a method of changing county lines...redistricting. Later on that summer he introduced other legislation to amend an existing act regulating elections.
L.Z. Dorsett...Leander "Lee" Z. Dorsett (1864-1948) was the son of Joseph Smith Dorsett (1811-1895), a pioneer of Campbell County who originally came from Laurens, South Carolina. His half-brother, Samuel N.P. Dorsett was Douglas County's first superior court clerk. Dorsett attended Holly Springs Academy at Chapel Hill. His political life included serving as Douglasville's mayor in 1901 and 1907, Recorder from 1902 to 1905 and represented Carroll County in the General Assembly.
I located a mention where Dorsett was involved with a bill against concealed weapons and in August, 1916 another bill he sponsored dubbed the Dorsett Bill was killed in the Ways and Means committee of the Georgia House. It was a bill that provided for the levying and collecting of state income tax.
State taxes.....gee, is HE the one we need to blame?
No...not by a long shot since Georgia's tax laws had been revised by passage of the Lipscomb-Anderson-Miller Bill in 1913 (the bill calling for the appointment of a state tax commissioner). 1913 was also the same year the Sixteenth Amendment was passed giving the federal government the right to rifle through your pockets, so....Dorsett is free from blame as far as the Dorsett bill was concerned.
Dorsett returned to Douglas County in 1935 and served as mayor from 1938 to 1939. During his term as mayor he made the first dialed call from the Douglasville on July 7, 1939. Operator assisted calls had been in existence since 1899.
Finally, Dorsett returned to the state house again from 1943 to 1945 representing Douglas County.
W.H. Dorris...William Herschell Dorris (1870-1937) was the son of William C. Dorris, a Confederate veteran and grew up on a farm near Douglasville where he eventually attended Douglasville College. He studied law under Judge A.L. Bartlett of Brownsville, was admitted to the bar in 1896 and was a public spirited person from what I can see.
He was mayor of Cordele in 1910. One of this accomplishments there was getting a Carnegie Library for Cordele.
Carnegie Libraries are one of my own personal history hot buttons. I love to learn about them and visit them when I can due to their interesting architecture. A few years ago I published 13 Things About Carnegie Libraries at History Is Elementary, and over at Georgia on My Mind you can learn more about a special Carnegie Library at Little Five Points.
The August 13, 1915 edition of the Atlanta Constitution mentions Dorris was involved with the leadership of the "radicals" in the General Assembly that year. The radicals were folks who were favoring prohibition. The paper went on to mention the radicals had a job ahead of them to sway folks to their way of thinking. A prohibition bill had been passed in 1907, but there several loopholes the radicals didn't take kindly to, so they were calling for strong legislation.
Apparently the radicals including Dorris were successful because in March, 1917 the Constitution reported the "Bone Dry" bill had been signed by Governor Harris.....and it was Dorris at the signing ceremony who handed the Governor a pen from his pocket to sign the legislation into law.
Dorris was a state senator for Crisp County into the 1920s. J.B. Baggett...Joseph Brown Baggett was born in 1859 to Allan Jacob Baggett. He was a landowner, farmer, merchant, saw miller, cotton ginner, notary, postmaster, and justice of the peace. Baggett was married to Capitola (Cappie) Beall, daughter of Noble N. Beall, a judge who had at one time been a state senator representing the people of Paulding County.
While it has not been verified via deed records, family sources state he owned several hundred acres in the Hay Community of Paulding County where he is listed as the postmaster.
Around 1908 the Paris Telephone Company set up operations in Paulding County, and they located their switchboard in Baggett's home. Whichever family member happened to be free at the time worked the board for the community.
When not acting as a businessman and farmer with fingers in several pots Baggett also served along with his former childhood friends as a state representative for Paulding County.
So...there you have it...everything I have so far regarding the five little boys Fannie Mae Davis wrote about so very briefly. As things tend to go with my research regarding Douglas County history something will plop into my lap next week or a puzzle piece will fall into place a few months from now making more connections, raising more questions, and drawing me back into the story, but.....I have to be really honest here.......that's what keeps me going.......the delightful chase!