Sounds a little ominous, doesn't it? Of course, during the summer of 1864 many towns and cities across Georgia found themselves "in the hands of the northerners" over and over as General Sherman's men ground their way towards Savannah.
But, wait. Hmmm…
Douglas County didn't exist during the Civil War. Douglasville didn't either. Both came to be during the 1870s after the war. In fact, here's the story how Douglas County was carved from Campbell County and a portion of Carroll.
Before you think I have finally lost my historical mind, the above reference to northerners was part of an Atlanta Constitution article dated June 19, 1890 dealing with the Northern Society of Georgia.
The Northern Society was a group of northern-born folks who made Georgia their home and wanted to promote the benefits of their adoptive home for families and businesses.The Northern Society of Georgia decided upon Douglasville for their first convention and apparently it was very successful.
The article I've quoted above reads: Colonel
C.C. Post, who conceived the idea of such a convention and to whom more than
any other one man is due the credit of the successful issue of the enterprise
deserves not only the thanks of the northern-born citizens of the state, but
the heartiest words of commendation and approval from Georgians and southerners
wherever they may be.
Colonel Post was no real colonel. I've referred to him before. He was an investor in the canning plant and the reason why Chicago Avenue received its name. I'll be devoting several columns regarding Mr. Post's interesting albeit notorious life in the very near future.
Post, of course, was a member of the Northern Society and was in charge of the committee who oversaw the convention so, of course he wanted Douglasville to serve as the host, and apparently was able to persuade folks here in Douglasville to go all out to help him welcome the convention-goers.
Business was almost wholly suspended and the town turned out in holiday attire. Early in the day vehicles loaded with people from the country adjacent began arriving. Fifteen hundred southerners took part in the welcome to their northern-born neighbors and fellow citizens.
Shortly before ten o'clock, a special train from Atlanta arrived. Several hundred delegates with their friends were on the train, among them many members of the Northern Society of Georgia, recently organized in Atlanta.
At the depot the Atlanta visitors were met by delegations of citizens, headed by a brass band.
As the train pulled up at the depot, "Yankee Doodle," that tune dear to every Yankee heart met the ears of the visitors, played by the band. It was roundly cheered. Then "Dixie" was given and greeted with another round of applause.
Neat silk badges were furnished the visitors, who were formed into line and escorted to a beautiful grove nearby where the speakers' stand was erected.
The beautiful grove mentioned above was James Grove, a beautiful grove of trees that served as a city park located east of the business district. It was located in the area across from today's Ace Hardware running between Church Street and Broad. I've mentioned the grove before.
In the grove, a large tabernacle formed by pine boughs and supported by posts and stringers, sheltered the convention from the sun. Beneath this leafy bower seats to accommodate fifteen hundred people were arranged, with those in front reserved for the delegates.
After C.C. Post opened the convention several speakers manned the podium followed by the announcement for lunch. Here is where Douglasville really shined. The event had been in the Atlanta paper for days promoting a free barbecue lunch that would be offered.
Senator [Joseph] James, who is greatly interested in the convention, was talking about preparations. “We expect a big crowd,” he said, “not only of northern born citizen, but of southerners as well. An old fashioned barbecue and basket dinner has been arranged for the large crowd that will assemble, arrangements having been made for five thousand people.
Yes, five thousand, and what a lunch!
Barbeque was furnished by the citizens of Douglasville. The greater portion by ex-Confederate soldiers who took particular pride in their part of the day’s entertainment.
Captain J.V. James was head of the barbeque committee.
Before lunch was served to the “Yankees”……Captain James read this:
Whereas, the Yanks are coming again, and
Whereas, it behooves us now as in the past to give ‘em the best we have and to make it warm for ‘em, and
Whereas, they did once on a time eat meat which we had roasted for ourselves; therefore be it
Resolved - That they can’t do it again.
Resolved - That we roast some meat especially for ‘em
Resolved - That we keep it warm for ‘em
Resolved - That four thousand pounds of beef, pork and mutton when roasted be placed with unlimited quantities of bread, hams, chickens, turkeys, pickles and other good things that will be brought by our good housewives upon breastworks of pine boards and the Yankees be requested to charge the same with all the enthusiasm of their natures.
After lunch the convention took up more business…the most
important business of the day. They set
up a committee called the “immigration committee”. The members would have the
job of promoting the South to their Yankee friends as great place to live and
work. Mr. Post and Dr. J.E. Howland of
Lithia Springs both landed spots on the immigration committee.
The convention then adjourned….the first general convention of northerners ever held in the south.”
A convention of northerners, and Douglasville was the host!
Douglasville’s newest downtown jewel – the downtown conference center – has been open for nearly a year now. I find it most interesting that our “convention” history dates back to the 1890s.
Seems we have always been a convention town, and may the tradition continue!