SPECIAL FEATURE - MARCH 31, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GEORGIA


Marker placed at Groaning Rock
grave of Revolutionary soldier by SAR, DAR

By Jana Adams
Some walked the path through the woods, while others boarded a tractor-pulled trailer with hay bale seats for the ride to the old Wilson family cemetery.
Whatever the mode of travel, the brief trip was almost like a step back in time for the 100 or so history buffs, genealogists and descendants who attended a gravemarker memorial ceremony held at Groaning Rock Saturday for Revolutionary War soldier and early Jackson County settler George Wilson Sr.
The glimpses of colors seen through the trees materialized into a white tent, solidiers dressed in full Revolutionary War regalia and colonial flags and wreaths as the group neared the graveyard, while the strains of music filtering through the woods settled into the flutes, horns and strings of Celtic tunes. As the crowd gathered around the wrought iron fence surrounding the rough stone markers of the small cemetery, the Willis T. Rogers raised a bugle to his lips and the plaintive voice of the horn filled the calm of the woods. Soldiers bearing flags and rifles, including the Lyman Hall Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), marched down the hill and presented the colors.
In the ceremony that followed, James C. McLeroy, SAR chapter president, dedicated the gravemarker for Wilson. State Representative Scott Tolbert removed the white cloth veiling the marble headstone placed in the cemetery by Marie Parks, ninth great-granddaughter of Wilson, as well as the brass Revolutionary marker placed by the SAR.

Members of the James Pittman Chapter of the Jackson County Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) lay wreaths trimmed in red, white and blue at the gravesite.
Following Jerry Hood's reading of a poem written by Parks, a rifle salute by David J. Hoss Sr., vice president of the north Georgia SAR, the playing of TAPS and a singing of "America the Beautiful" led by Herbert Braselton Jr., the color guard retired the colors and Hood concluded the program.
The ceremony also included an introduction and reading of Wilson's biography by Rep. Tolbert, a response reading led by McLeroy and heritage remarks by SAR state president Herbert B. Braselton Sr.
"We are honored to be here," Braselton Sr. said. "It is fitting to be here to pay tribute to George Wilson for his service and his sacrifice for our grand nation."

WILSON AN EARLY LEADER
Drawing on information compiled by Parks, Rep. Tolbert told the story of George Wilson Sr., an early leader in Jackson County.
Although Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1755, he traveled to America when he was 20, seeking a new life. As a colonist, he joined the Continental Army under Gen. George Washington and served until he was captured. After being cut off from his command, Wilson traveled to Philadelphia, Penn., where he married his wife, Martha Geuendoline Wilson. Wilson rejoined the war efforts in 1778 and served until his last military stand at the fall of Yorktown, Va., in 1781.
After the war, Wilson and his family settled in Iredell County, North Carolina, for two years before heading in their wagon along the trails to Georgia to claim a land grant. In 1784, the Wilsons settled in a wilderness area in Jackson County known as Groaning Rock, making a home over the years for their family of 10 children.
Wilson was a leader in the Groaning Rock community, which is recognized by historians as one of the first permanent settlements in Jackson County. He helped organize the Sandy Creek Presbyterian Church and was a member of the committee to select an area for Jackson County's county seat.
Wilson served as a judge of the county's inferior court for three years and was elected as a delegate for a convention to revise the Constitution of Georgia. Wilson finally wrote and signed the revision.
Wilson also contributed three carts of lumber to Athens to help build Franklin College, known today as the University of Georgia.
At his death May 1, 1823, Wilson was buried beside his wife in view of the original "groaning rock." Both the cemetery and groaning rock are on the property of Jackie Whitfield, a Wilson descendant.

STORY OF GROANING ROCK
After the dedication ceremony, some of the participants and attendees walked a short distance through the woods to the original groaning rock, the namesake for that early settlement near Sandy Creek.
As they made their way toward the rock, several members of the group joked about the reason for the name Groaning Rock.
Some said that women in the area only agreed to marry if they could find a man who could help lift the boulder.
"And that means there was a lot of groaning going on as they tried to life that rock," they laughed.
But in reality, the name comes from a sound the bould itself - a sort of jutting shelf of rock - makes. History has it that the community got its name because of the "groaning" sound that emerged from the boulder when the wind blew through the rock's cracks and crannies.