Last month I shared this story regarding how Douglas County had a candidate for U.S. President among her citizens at one time. His name was William D. Upshaw.
This week I’m sharing more about his family.
After putting together various bits of research I’ve gathered regarding the Upshaw family it’s very easy to draw a few conclusions. Like any family they had their fair share of trials and tribulations, there was hard work and success as well, but not many families can boast a U.S. Congressman in their line, as well as successful businessmen and a former mayor of Douglasville.
The father of the family was Isaac David Upshaw who was born on February 19, 1834 in Walton County, Georgia. By 1850, his parents had died, and the census that year indicates he was living in Coweta County with an uncle named Adkin Upshaw.
Isaac married Charity Adeline (Addie) Stamps in 1860 – when our nation was on the brink of war. The romantic in me would like to think it was a hurried marriage as many were in those days as the Confederates lined up to face the Union, but I have no knowledge of that, however, I do know that Isaac served in Company G, 47th Alabama Infantry during the war.
A year later the couple’s first born entered the world on March 16, 1861. They named him Herschel Mckee Upshaw. Towards the end of the war a second son was born on March 16, 1864 named Lucius C. Upshaw followed by William David in 1866 who went on to be a Congressman, and a sister named Ada (Addie) Lee Upshaw in 1869. If you are like me you will notice that both Herschel and Lucius share the same birth date. It is unusual, but I’ve checked the date given in an article published in the Heritage of Douglas County: 1870-2007 twice as well as other genealogical data. The brothers shared the same birthdates!
Even though Atlanta suffered terribly towards the end of the Civil War people flocked there once peace was declared including the Upshaw family.
Various city directories for Atlanta including Beasley’s and Haddocks indicate Isaac and his growing family were living in Atlanta between 1875 and 1879 where he was a grocer and had rooms for rent at 91 S. Broad. He also kept a residence at 82 S. Forsyth. During this time a second daughter was born named Sarah (Sallie) Blanche Upshaw and another son, Glenn Oglesby Upshaw was born on April 29, 1879. The records indicate these last two children never married. Sadly they both passed at young ages. Sallie was sixteen at her death, and Glenn was just eight years old.
At some point in 1880, Isaac packed the family up and moved close to Wild Horse Creek eight miles southwest of Marietta where he was the postmaster, teacher, blacksmith, and owned a general store. In one of his books Congressman Upshaw explained, “My father became afraid that his boys might fall prey to the gilded temptations of city life. Because he loved his boys better than he loved money, he moved away from Atlanta to grow up amid the beauties, glories, and wholesome inspirations of rural life.”
Some sources indicate Isaac Upshaw had a hotel of sorts, too. I located notes compiled by Joe Baggett in the Douglas County Public library that indicates the business name was I.D. Upshaw & Son. The area took on the name Upshaw since he was the postmaster. Today we refer to the area as Macland.
By 1888 Isaac Upshaw was living in Douglasville, Georgia. Apparently he became very involved with the First Baptist Church of Douglasville. A section of the book authored by Fannie Mae Davis relates a history of the church and advises during the 1890s I.D. Upshaw was an “untiring elderly worker.” He passed away in February, 1897 and is buried at Douglasville’s City Cemetery.
Lucius and Herschel also lived here and had become very involved citizens by the 1890s.
Recently, one of the buildings along Broad Street has undergone a wonderful restoration which seemed doomed for a time when the second floor collapsed last year. Town and Country Upholstery is a great addition to the overall look of Broad Street in my opinion, but years ago….in the 1890s two of the Upshaw brothers followed in their father’s footsteps and developed a thriving store in that very location known as Upshaw Brothers General Merchandise Groceries and Fertilizer Store.
Lucious C. and Herschel M. Upshaw were the owners. Per research conducted for the City of Douglasville by Stephanie Aylworth, I discovered the business operated between 1891 and 1930. In 1909, their receipts totaled $100,000 second only to the Duncan Brothers who were also Broad Street merchants.
I’m told that the unique arches on the front of the building were once filled in with windows.
I have been told that particular building was built around 1892 and was constructed by the same contractor who built the building where the Irish Bred Pub is located today. Apparently there was is a rather large hand dug basement in the rear of the building. During the 1990s a rusted out commercial coal stove for heating the whole building was in the basement complete with a coal shoot and leftover coal.
Originally, the building had a skylight in the center of the roof. On the second floor was a rectangular opening in the floor which had a hand rail all the way around it to keep people from falling to the first floor. The daylight would come in and illuminate the second floor and then part of the light reached down to the first floor. Somewhere along the decades, someone took the skylight out and sealed up the roof.
The Upshaw brothers weren’t just businessmen. They were civic minded citizens, too. Lucious C. Upshaw was a member of the city council in 1894, and during the 1902 Commencement exercises for Douglasville College, Lucius Upshaw gave an address to the Junior class entitled ‘Men and Money.’ He served the community as a state representative from 1909 to 1912, and also served as Douglasville’s 15th mayor from 1913-14.
At this point the brothers had to be making good money because in 1902, Herschel Upshaw bought a large residence on Bowden Street that blended Victorian and American architecture per Fanny Mae Davis. The home had been built by J.V.Edge, an attorney and former mayor of Douglasville in the 1890s. Today history and genealogy minded folks refer to the residence as the Edge-Upshaw-Bennett-Sherrod residence.
There is an image of the home in Portraits of Douglasville compiled by Earl Albertson, and clearly shows the house has been remodeled and rebuilt through the years when you compare it to today’s very attractive version. The caption in Portraits of Douglasville states the home served as a boarding house for the shirt and sock factory that was located in Douglasville at one time and indicates up to four families lived in the home during those days.
The New South, a paper that was existed in Douglasville when the Upshaw brothers lived here published a brand new phone directory for the city on November 8, 1900. Phones were new-fangled devices at that time and less than 30 phones are listed, but the Upshaw brothers had them along with several of the town’s most prominent citizens at the time. Lucius Upshaw’s phone number was “8” while the Upshaw Brothers store was “13”.
Lucius Upshaw built a home at the corner of Rose Avenue and Broad Street. After discussing the home’s location with several people in town I believe the house stood on the same location where Hudson's Hickory House stands today. The home was torn down in the late 20th Century.
Lucius was involved with the beginning of the Douglas County Sentinel when the business was incorporated in April, 1905 along with Thomas R. Whitley and James A. Pittman. The paper began with capitol stock that totaled $800 and was located on the second floor of the building at the corner of Bowden and Broad where several attorneys have offices today. At that time James A. Watson owned the building.
Later the paper moved to the building next door where Jeff Justice & Co. Relators is located today. Prior to the Sentinel moving in this building it was home to a bank at the turn of the century.
At some point following his brother’s election to Congress in 1918 Lucius left Douglasville and went to live in Washington D.C. I can only surmise that he took a position with his brother’s office, but I have not been able to confirm that to date. We do know Lucius passed away in 1921 while living in our nation’s capital. He was brought home to Douglasville’s City Cemetery for burial. Herchel Upshaw’s is also buried in the cemetery along with his family.