Meriwether Historical Society met on Sunday, September 29th at the
National Register Home of Ibby, Dan, and Ros Gabriel outside of Greenville on
LaGrange Highway. Known as the Hiram
Warner-Clark-Gabriel Home, the Federal antebellum home and grounds was a lovely
venue for a fall picnic.
Mabon welcomed the eighty members and guests attending and made several
announcements concerning our upcoming Expressions of Meriwether event on October
19th and the paver sale for Greenville’s Streetscapes Project which
begins its second phase of construction this winter.
and Sally Neal recognized Rod and Linda Wilburn and Mando Corporation for their
outstanding contributions to our county.
In 2012 Mando Corporation contributed to the “facelift” given the county
courthouse’s exterior. Rod and Linda
Wilburn have been instrumental in making Greenville and Meriwether a vibrant
bright spot through the economic downtown with projects like the animal
shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Rails to Trails, the arts, restoration of
commercial and residential historic buildings, and more. Two pavers were
purchased through Greenville’s Better Hometown program in honor of the two
touring the house and grounds Sally Neal gave a brief history of the house and
its builder. Hiram Warner was born in 1802 in Massachusetts in a family that
had been the first settlers of Martha’s Vineyard. Educated in the local schools
he was a favorite of his teacher Leavitt Thaxter who moved to Sparta, GA to
teach and asked Warner to come be his assistant. The trip south took 36 days as Warner left in
December of 1821 but the ship was overcome by a gale that drove it toward Cape
Warner’s diary we know the livestock were thrown overboard and that Warner and
two sailors’ longboat was capsized by the waves and they swam to shore.
Shipwrecked and walking for hours, they hired a boat to take them to Ocracoke then
to Charleston and on to Savannah. During this time Warner was in his bunk as he
had contracted the measles.
long after Warner arrived in Sparta he began reading law and was admitted to the
bar in 1824 and began practice in Crawford County. The frontier climate forced the
non-brawling Warner into a fistfight where his imposing size and strong
physique flattened the bully that accosted him.
Respect was earned and the public incident brought him into the limelight
faster than anything he could have done.
The next year he was elected to the legislature.
1832 Warner became law partners with George Washington Towns-later a Georgia Governor.
Their office was in Talbotton and from there Warner was elected judge of the
Coweta Circuit. In 1845 the first session of the Georgia Supreme Court was held
in Talbotton with Warner as one of its first judges. Salary was $2500 yearly, there were no travel
expenses, and judges took their own notes as there were not stenographers.
served a number of years as judge and in Congress in the years leading up to
the war. As a land owner (1800 acres) and farmer he owned 74 slaves and took
the position that slavery should be allowed in the expanding territories of the
U. S. As the war neared he was against secession.
is best known for the hanging story. He was caught at his plantation in 1865 by
members of Wilson’s Raiders that came through Meriwether and pillaged from
landowners. Robbing Warner of his cash,
they demanded more of his gold and wealth. They bent a tree and wrapped a
lariat around his neck. The subsequent
jerk into the air rendered him unable to speak for days. The soldiers cut him down and demanded more
money and two more times strung him up to a tree. They set fire to a nearby buggy before riding
away. The flames spread and were near
Warner’s limp body. A servant cut the
judge down and he lived to tell the story.
Warner and his wife Sara and daughter Mary Jane came to Greenville from
Talbotton in 1835, they rented a house while he acquired land and built a one
and a half story plantation home. Over thirty years later, Warner’s daughter Mary
Jane purchased the nearby Abner Callaway home, dismantled it and added it to
make the Warner home a full two story, 4 over 4 imposing antebellum house. Mary Jane Warner Hill designed the parterre
garden of English boxwood. She died in 1925 and her son Alexander Franklin Hill
Jr. lived in the home until 1933.
and Laura Clark purchased the home in 1934 and they restored the beautiful
formal gardens rooting the boxwood and planting bulbs. Their welcoming family enjoyed
the home and pastoral setting for many years.
Gabriel family acquired the home in the late 1900s and did extensive
renovations. Removing the shed porch to
the rear, they built a rear double verandah that matched the front porticos.
Resizing the bedrooms allowed for the addition of indoor plumbing, and downstairs a large family room and kitchen were added. Several buildings such as
the Obadiah House exist and are enjoyed by the family today.
historical society members were treated to more family history during their
tour of the home as Warner’s descendent, Sally Estes, set up family paintings and
photographs of him as well as his diary.
Most interesting were the pressed and dried flowers sent to him by his
future wife that were wrapped in a locket of her hair.
society enjoyed the tour and finished with a barbecue catered by Stanley
Wheelus from St. Marks.
Meriwether Historical Society presented two awards to benefactors of our county
at its September meeting and picnic held on the grounds of the Hiram
home in Greenville. President Sallie Mabon,
right, and Sally Estes standing beside her, paid tribute to Rod and Linda
Wilburn who have been instrumental to many county improvements and achievements: building our animal shelter,
Habitat for Humanity, the Lovelight Program, their church, the Better Home Town Program, Greenville
Streetscapes, Rails to Trails, Court Square Café, the Print Shop Art Gallery,
restoration of several historic buildings in Greenville, Meriwether Chamber of
Commerce, and the Together in Meriwether Committee, and the upcoming
Expressions of Meriwether. Because of their support for the arts, tourism, and
economic growth for our area, the historical society honored them with a paver
for our next streetscape building project is set to start soon. “The pavers are
a wonderful way to remember someone for a long time,” said Better Home Town Manager
Sally Estes, and we have been blessed and fortunate that the Wilburns have been
so dedicated to our city and county.
Meriwether Historical Society purchased a paver in honor of Mando Corporation.
In 2012 our county courthouse received extensive exterior renovations, repairs,
and a “facelift” because of the generosity of Mando. Representing Mando was
Terry Birdsong, Human Resource Manager, who said Mando believes in giving back
to the community.
The Meriwether Historical Society met on Sunday,
February 24, 2013 on the second floor court room of the historic court house.
President Sallie Mabon welcomed members and guests to the special program to
hear our local doctors. Mabon reminded everyone that membership to the MHS is
not exclusive and individual dues were $30 and family dues $45.
Mabon thanked Sheriff Chuck Smith for opening the
court house to the group for this special program that would have been standing
room only in the MHS headquarters building.
Mabon introduced each of the four physicians participating
in the panel: Dr. Martha Clements, Dr. Mack Clements, Dr. J. Harper Gaston, and
Dr. Andy Wasden.
Dr. Martha was the first to speak and told a bit
about her background. From Elberton and raised in Oconee County, Martha said
her high school graduating class of 64 students marched in for the graduation
ceremony in academic order. The 64
students all attended and graduated from college. She met Mack at UGA in
chemistry class (which he aced.)
As a young physician in Greenville, Dr. Martha was
impressed by several local persons: Mary Alice Tigner who believed in and did her
job, Miriam Strozier, and a most dedicated worker in the clinic: Dovie Head.
Dovie had worked for Dr. Jack Whitworth washing test tubes and doing simple
tasks, but Drs. Mack and Martha enlarged her job description and found she
could do plenty.
Martha had amusing reminisces and mentioned the elderly
couple who would walk down Stovall Road and stop at the clinic to tell them
they were walking across town to the Welfare Office to get a ride to the clinic!
Another patient always called his affliction “sickest cell anemia.”
Martha recalled an interesting 84 year old patient
who was very ill and congested but insisted she had to go to a funeral and could
Martha give her something? Martha insisted she come in and be examined and then
encouraged her to go home and rest. The
patient insisted she had to go to this funeral. When Martha asked whose funeral
it was, the patient replied, “My husband’s.”
Dr. Mack Clements said one of his first memories is
that of Dr. Gilbert. The family property was overgrown with poison ivy so he was
regularly in the clinic for a shot for the rash. When he went to the clinic
because he cut his foot, the nurse, Florine, naturally gave him a poison oak
shot and not the tetanus that he needed.
Mack reminisced about their internship in Rome in 1967
when towns did not have ambulance services but the local funeral home’s hearse
was used. He said the oldest hearse was donated as an ambulance and that the
driving job was given to moonshiners because they could drive anything!
Another tale was told of when Medicaid first became available. Mack’s patient came on Day 1 to have him take
a splinter out of his hand; Day 2 he came because his ears were full of wax;
Day 3 he had a cold; and Day 4-just because he had a run-down constitution!
When Mack said he did not know what to do for a run-down constitution, the
patient replied, “That’s ok-you’re a country doctor and not supposed to know
Mack said one patient was not well and Dr. Mack had
her transported in Wade Gilbert’s hearse to the hospital in LaGrange. When he
went to see her she said, “Now you’ve kept me from dying, what are you going to
do with me?”
A last tale Dr Mack told happened in 1972 when on a
house call he met the patient in the swing in his yard. He had been seen by
five doctors and told Mack every nerve was gone and he needed dope. Mack
reminded him he was good friends with alcohol,l so why change? “It’s turned
against me,” he said. Mack learned the man’s wife had been putting syrup of
ipecac in his liquor!
Dr. Martha finished with a story on Mack. Martha
attended most afterhours’ calls and took along the couple’s two daughters. When Dr. Mack was available to help, the
youngest said, “Daddy, I didn’t know you were a doctor!”
Mack finished with a story that happened the summer
of the 1996 Olympics. Many athletes were in the Pine Mountain area there to train
then compete. One day a huge KGB Greco
Roman wrestler sized athlete came to the office. He had hurt his foot, broken the little toe.
He asked if could drink his vodka in the waiting room to which Mack said, “Well,
be discreet.” Mack treated him and then the office manager said there was no
understanding his international insurance so Mack said there was no charge.
Later an envelope appeared with tickets to the Olympics competitions in them
which the Clements enjoyed.
Dr. J. Harper Gaston began by saying he was glad to
be home in Greenville, retired here now for 25 years. His father was a physician
and Harper and his wife Anne both worked as physicians after their graduation
from Emory. While his father, a 1932 Cornell grad, at one time earned $25 a
month, Harper and Anne earned $10 month in 1956. So much for the big bucks
Emory did not let females in as a rule, but Anne was
Phi Beta Kappa from Alabama! Medicine allowed them to have a number of exciting
years and their partnership led them to California after several years at Grady
in Atlanta. Dr. Harper was also in the Air Force and rotated from dispensary,
dermatology to the operating room. While serving as OB/Gyn, he delivered 234
babies in three months.
Dr. Harper told of Dr. Anne’s pregnancy and how the
attending physician was frustrated by delivering to such a knowledgeable
patient. When Dr. Anne’s blood pressure
was dangerously low, she asked him if she was going into shock before he
Dr. Andy Wasden began by saying he was a student of
history and a firm believer that if we don’t study it we are doomed to make the
Wasden pointed out that Henry Tombs designed Warm
Springs and the cabin he built for himself is the core of Wasden’s current
home. Wasden was born in Pavo, GA and grew up with a physician father. One of
his earliest memories is of going on a house call to a small two room shack
where he held the light while his father delivered a baby, and then he was
allowed to cut the cord and wrap the baby in a blanket and keep it warm by the
Wasden’s father died his senior year of high school
and Andy wondered if he would work as hard as his father had done. Dr. Calvin Jackson
was chairman of the state board at the time and allowed him to borrow the money
for school and repay it in five years if he were working in a poor county-which
Wasden remembered some of his first tests as a
physician: radios were in the hospital vehicles and he was covering Dr. Jackson’s
practice. Once was a child with a cut scalp. One 1978 call from Jo Thomas
simply said, “Get down here. The patient was lethargic and holding the stomach,
the blood pressure was 40/0. It was Wasden’s first operation as the patient
would not make it to Columbus. The many split second decisions for Wasden plus
the many things that could go wrong made for an unnerving story in light of
today’s tendency to toward litigation.
Wasden finished by saying how much he loved serving Meriwether
County with one special memory being a part of Flint River Academy family and
Sallie Mabon thanked the physicians and told a story
of her father, a country doctor, and her mother an anesthetist. When her father
delivered a baby, her mother was told to make the baby breathe. She took him outside to a horse tank, broke
the ice with her elbow and dipped him in the icy water! The baby came out
The physicians answered questions from the floor: one
concerned a low salt diet and yes, Dr. Mack said, a low salt diet helped with hypertension
and blood pressure. Research in Africa showed that the people there did not
have any blood pressure problems because they had no salt and when it was
brought in by the Chinese, they began to have blood pressure problems.
When asked about exciting changes in medicine, Dr.
Mack answered it was going to be interesting to follow the results of statins
which became available in 1987 and have helped with elevated cholesterol and
A final observation was made that six citizens in Greenville
living near the clinic lived to be over 100 years old. The conclusion was that Greenville
and Meriwether are just great places to live!