1828


Interest throughout The State

Much interest was aroused throughout the State by the legislation looking to the establishment of the new town of Columbus, and the anticipated sale of the lots. The advantages of the locality were so apparent as to attract the attention of men of a speculating disposition, as well as of persons desiring to try their fortune in a new settlement with such fine prospects. We find that complaints against the tardy action of the Commissioners, and of the gentleman selected by them to make the surveys and prepare the plan of the town, found their way into the public prints. On the 11th of July, the surveyor, Mr. Edward Lloyd Thomas, defended' himself against the charge of failure to return the plan to the Surveyor General's office, stating that he had sent the plan to the Executive Department arid to other places.

The Population

Before the sale of the town lots the population of the place was very much mixed, as is generally the case in new settlements. It amounted to about three hundred.

The Indians

During the day there would generally be hundreds, and sometimes thousands of Indians from the Alabama side in town, but they were not allowed to stay on the Georgia side at night. They were generally friendly and harmless while on this side of the river, but sometimes annoying, as they would go to private houses, to the alarm of some of the ladies. But their object was to get something to eat or steal. We find the Creeks called "a remnant of beggars and drunkards" by a writer of that time.

The Columbus Enquirer

This paper was established by Mirabeau B. Lamar in this year, and the first number was issued during the last week in May. It was a weekly sheet of good size and fair appearance, and its editorial conduct gave ample evidence of the ability which afterwards secured for its accomplished founder high positions and an enduring fame. It is chiefly from its columns that we glean most of the facts' that 'make up what we can give of the earlier history of Columbus.

On the 5th of July, the Enquirer said: "Our town offers many advantages to the agriculturalist who may locate near it, as well as to the merchant or mechanic, as our market will afford good, prices for all kinds of produce, and our river a safe and convenient navigation on which to export the same. Those who may visit this place with a view of purchasing to settle here will not leave us disappointed. We hear of many strangers who have come to examine the public property before the day of sale arrives."


River Improvement

At that early day this subject engaged the earnest attention of both the State authorities and the new settlers of Colum bus. They contemplated not only the improvement of the navigation below the town, but the opening of the river above to regular pole-boat navigation. The latter proposition would seem to us at this time to have been a wild scheme; and yet we find a correspondent asserting on the 9th of August that "the river is navigable for pole-boats 200 miles above the falls; the obstruction to navigation above the town continues for twenty miles, but boats can, in the winter, come within four miles of the town;" and we find in the Enquirer of Sept. 13th the official report (dated "Upper Bushy Head Shoal, Chattahoochee, 27th August, 1828,") of "one of the Commissioners of the Chattahoochee Navigation above the Coweta Falls," in which report this Commissioner informs Gov. Forsyth that with the money appropriated by the State for improving the navigation of that part of the river, the Commissioners had bought on the eastern shore of Maryland and at Charleston, S. C., " fifteen likely Negro fellows and one woman;" that they had constructed "an excellent three decked boat, sixty feet keel, nine feet beam, well constructed for the accommodation of the hands, overseer, and one Com missioner, also for the safety of the tools and provisions and the storing of powder for blasting." The report goes on to state the operations on the upper river, in the section flowing between Coweta and Carroll counties, announces considerable progress, and expresses hope of the accomplishment of much improvement. Now who shall say that Georgians at that time, and especially frontier Georgians, were not men of enterprise and pluck?

The State Engineer also made a report (published in June) on the practicability of improving the river below the town. He' recommended a "wing-dam" about three feet above summer water at Woolfolk's bar, and an excavation of the channel to the desired depth, expressing the opinion that there was not the slightest probability of its re-accumulation; also a wing-dam at Mound Shoal, 'a little below Woolfolk's bar, and about half a mile above the mouth of Upatoie creek.


Sale Of The Lots

The first sale of town lots by the Commissioners commenced on the 10th and closed on the 23d of July. The attendance was large, and the bidding lively. Many tents were erected by persons attending the sale, and the town presented an animated and bustling appearance. The lot that sold highest at that sale was the one on the southwest corner of Broad and Crawford streets, afterwards known as the Columbus Hotel lot. It was bought by Messrs. Nicholas Howard (of Greensboro') and Peter Dudley, who immediately erected the "Columbus Hotel" on the lot.

The number of half-acre lots in the plan of the town was 632, of which 488 were sold, leaving 144 to be disposed of at some future period. There were also sold 25 gardening lots of 10 acres each, and 20 of 20 acres, besides a number of larger lots outside of the limits of the town. The total proceeds of this sale were $130,991, one-fifth of which was required in cash. The highest price given was for the lot above mentioned, $1,855. Many lots were bought with a view to immediate settlement, and many others by speculators with a view to an advance.


Improvements

After the sale of the lots, improvements commenced and buildings went up rapidly. On the 28th of November the Enquirer said: "Notwithstanding the great disadvantages which builders have labored under in procuring lumber, we can safely say that no place has improved more rapidly than the town of Columbus. Each holder of a lot or lots seems intent on improving his property immediately, and there are now either completed or nearly so, on the half-acre lots, nearly a hundred good framed buildings. Our mills are now" in better order for supplying lumber than they have ever been before.' But one three-story framed house has yet been erected, and but two brick buildings commenced in the town. We should be pleased to see more of this description of building carried on.

About this time the Enquirer stated that the population numbered 700 to 1,000 souls, and felt grateful that the health was so good, saying that there had not been more than a half dozen cases of fever during the whole summer, and but four deaths, three whites and one black.


Incidents

The first person buried in the cemetery was a young man by the name of Thomas a son of Edward Lloyd Thomas, the gentleman mentioned as the surveyor. He was buried on the hill before the location was fully determined upon, but when determined it included the grave of young Thomas. He was buried in March of this year:

The 4th of July was celebrated in a spirited and patriotic manner for a frontier settlement. Col. Ulysses Lewis was the reader of the declaration, and James Van Ness the orator.

A theater was "erected" for the purpose and opened for a short engagement as early as July of this year, and we find the performances of the company highly complimented. But we suppose the Columbus theatre goers of that day were hardly so critical or discriminating as those of the present time, and there was some difference between the rough un suitable hall in which the, performance was given and Springer's Opera House with its fine scenery and luxurious furnishing..

The first manufacturing establishment that was built here was a turning lathe, erected on the little branch north of the city just below where the North and South Railroad now crosses that branch. Nobody thought in 1828, when that little turning lathe was started, that Columbus would ever be the manufacturing place it is now, even; much less did they entertain the hope that it would ever win the appellation, "Lowell of the South."

The first steamboat that came to Columbus was in March, 1828. After she had been here a week or ten days, making some repairs, the Captain arranged for a pleasure excursion down the river as far as Woolfolk's Mound, the next Sunday. Nearly everybody went and a good number of them had to walk back to town on account, as the captain alleged, not being able to raise sufficient steam for the boat to make headway against the river current. The next morning about daybreak the signal gun* of the boat was heard, giving notice of her return.

There were no churches here during this year. There would occasionally be preaching by some missionary to the frontier heathen, or by some traveling minister. Columbus was a pretty "hard" place for a year or two. There was not much execution of law or government of any kind. Everybody had to look out for themselves. This being the case, we are not surprised to find the files of the Enquirer for those years abounding with reports of duels, impromptu fights, and dueling correspondence.

The following, in regard to the streets and scenery of Columbus, from the Enquirer of August 9th, 1828, will still be of interest. The streets remain as originally laid out, but the "romantic walks" and gushing springs are among the things that were:

"The streets running parallel with the river are nine in number, and are all 132 feet wide, except Broad, which is 164 feet wide. This street is one and a half miles long, and is a perfect level the whole distance, except one depression. The cross streets are thirteen in number, and are each 99 feet wide. From the width of the streets an elegant and airy appearance is given to the town. There is a wide expanse left between the town and the river for a promenade, which, after it shall have been properly prepared, will form one of the handsomest and most romantic walks in the State. All along the bank of the river opposite the town, fine, pure water gushes out, which affords not only a great convenience, but a great luxury to citizens."

In October, Henry C. Dawson took charge of the Mclntosh House, and Peter Dudley became sole proprietor of the Columbus Hotel.

* It was a custom then, and for many years afterward, for boats to carry a small cannon, and on nearing a town or landing to give notice of their approach by discharging it.

A new hotel, called "Muscogee Hall," on the corner of Broad and Crawford streets, was opened in November by Nicholas Howard.

At the Presidential election in November, the Jackson electors received 143 votes, and the Adams electors 17.

The first bale of cotton ever sold in the town was brought in November from Gwinnett County, and bought by Robert Maharrey at 12c.

On the 29th of November the pole-boat Rob Roy, Love owner, arrived from Apalachicola with a full cargo of groceries for J. Fontaine, Maharrey, Love & Co.

A clever local conundrum which we find in the paper is this: "Why is the town of Columbus like modest ladies?" The-answer "Because it is on the reserve."


Officers

Hon. Walter T. Colquitt was Judge and Andrew B. Griffin Clerk of the Superior Court this year. The following gentlemen constituted the Grand Jury at the Fall Term: E. E. Bissell, foreman, John E. Page, Samuel B. Head, E. B. Lucus, Stoddard Russell, Robert Daniel, Robt. Henry, Benj. Tarver, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Lang, Samuel E. Buckler, Joseph White, Hillery Triplett, Samuel Koockogy, Thomas Cox, Thos. Sluck, Jona. A. Hudson.

James C. Holland was Sheriff, and P. Robertson Deputy Sheriff.
John Townsend was Clerk of the County Court.
Joel B. Scott was Coroner.
Edwin E. Bissel and G. W. Dillard were Justices of the Inferior Court.
S. J. Cooley was Postmaster until October, when Jas. Van Ness was appointed.

At the October election, Sowell Woolfolk was chosen Senator, and W. D. Lucas Representative.


Personal, Marriages and Deaths

Mirabeau B. Lamar severed his connection with the Enquirer on the 1st of October, 1830. He represented Muscogee county in the Legislature of Georgia in 1829 '30. Shortly after his retirement from the Enquirer he removed to Texas, and there received the highest honors within the gift of the people. He was elected President of the young and independent Republic in 1838. He died in Texas in December, 1859. Gen. L. was twice married. His first wife is buried in the cemetery in this city; his second was a daughter of the Rev. John Newland Maffitt.

Walter T. Colquitt was for a number of years the most brilliant (perhaps not the most solid) member of the bar of Columbus. He was noted for keenness of wit and repartee and versatility of talent. As a lawyer, judge, both a representative and senator in Congress, he was equally conspicuous and efficient. He died in Macon, Ga., on the 7th of May, 1855, after a long and painful illness.


Marriages

July 28. - Col. P. H. Alston and Miss Sarah D. Parks.
Sept. 6. - Maj. Rufus M. Farrington and Miss Sarah, daughter of Gen. Wm. McIntosh.
Sept. 7. - Samuel E. Buckler and Miss Sophia Tomlin.
Sept. 20. - James Brown, of Augusta, and Miss Ann Dukes.
Sept. 28 - Samuel R. Andrews and Miss Elizabeth Day.


Deaths

July 26. Elizabeth, infant child of Blake and Lucy Robinson.
Aug. 30. Wilson (an Irishman) drowned in the river.
Sept. 16. Mrs. Davis, a native of North Carolina.
Oct. 18. James B. Crawford, aged 30 years.
Nov. 13. "Indian Boy," aged 12 years, from a stab in the forehead.

We find the names of the following business and professional men of Columbus during this year:

Merchants

James W. Fannin, Jr.
Thomas Lang
Phelps & Bonner
Jacob I. Moses & Co.
I. Scott
Joel B. Scott
Jona. A. Hudson
Sowell Woolfolk
Farlin & Nafew
Elisha Avery


Lawyers

Ulysses Lewis
Wm. J. W. Wellborn
Samuel T. Bailey
James Van Ness
Thos. G. Gordon
Julius C. Alford


Doctors

I. T. Scott
H. C. Phelps
E. L. DeGraffenried
Fitzgerald Bird


Hotel Keeper

Wm. D. Lucas
Nicholas Howard,
Peter Dudley,
Henry C. Dawson;

Teacher

Jno. B. Page

Barber

Wm. Woodliff

Brickmakers

Winston & Alford,
Zoroaster Robinson;

Tailor

J. W. Radcliff;

Gin Maker, &c.

Rhoderic Murray.

Latest quotations of prices of merchandise for this year, Dec. 18th: Bacon 12 1/2 c., Bagging and Twine 50c., Cotton 7 3/4 c., Corn 50 to 75c., Flour $10 to $15, Molasses 50c., Salt $2.50, Brown Sugar 10 to 12c., Coffee 18 to 20c., Tobacco 25c., Whisky 75c.





Source: Columbus, Georgia from its Selection as a Trading town in 1827 to its Partial Destruction by Wilson's Raid in 1865, compiled by John H. Martin, Published by Thos. Gilbert, Book Printer and Binder, Columbus, GA, 1874

Transcribed by Judy White 2014©