Most of my relatives that I knew as a young man originated in the Sandy Cross or Point Peter (the Glade) communities in Oglethorpe County. But of course, like in any family there are branches that came from other places. My ancestors did not just court and marry the neighbor from down the road. They ventured out into other communities, in other counties and occasionally found one of those he/she relationships. Sometimes that person would actually come to them. This happened when circumstances brought a new young lady to my grandfather’s little town. Often these occasions were just a visit to a cousin or family member but in this case, it was actually a job.
In the small town of Carlton, like all the small towns in Madison County in the early 1900s, there was one schoolhouse. I have no idea when it was built but I am guessing it was in the 1800s. It was still standing when I was a boy but soon torn down. This large two-story brick building was the classic schoolhouse with big halls, high ceilings and lots of rooms, about 10 I think, for the different classes. Of course, this school would have needed teachers and that’s what made it possible for me to be here today.
Sometime about 1923 my Grandmother, Emma Chloe Adams, Coco to us, had lost her father and her mother and as a young woman was living with her extended family in Newborn. She was educated at the University of Georgia and certified as a teacher. The family story goes that Aunt Mary and Uncle Hugh were ready for my grandmother to fly the nest and find a job. While my grandmother was away on a family visit, my Aunt Mary applied for and accepted a job to teach on behalf of my grandmother. That would be unheard of today. She must have really wanted her out of the house.
My grandfather, Walter Joe Whitehead, was an up-and-coming young businessman in Carlton, following in his father’s footsteps as a gentleman farmer and potential partner at Stevens, Martin and Company. You could say he took a liking to my grandmother and he let it be known all over town. One story in my grandmother’s book said that he liked to write poetry.
My grandfather was a genteel man and I never heard him utter a harsh word about anybody. However, one of his poems had to do with another young man who seemed to also be taking an interest in my grandmother. Anyway, the ending of his poem had something to do with my grandfather starting his own graveyard if this fella didn’t leave his gal alone. OMG!
I really don’t know much about what courting must have been like in those days but I do suspect is was a “right smart” different than it is today. If you ever saw any pictures from that time, you know that a young lady never showed her knees in public. People were a little more reserved in their approach to dating than we are today. I can’t imagine my grandfather kissing my grandmother anyway, although it’s pretty likely that it happened.
If you did not know it, Carlton was a town that had two names. It was also known as Berkeley to the railroad. If you were traveling by train you had to know this. The railroad named the town differently because of the confusion with Carrollton. Anyway, when my grandmother was getting on the connecting train for the Seaboard Line she asked the conductor if this was the train to Carlton. He told her, “This train will take you to Berkeley. From there you will have to get to Carlton on your own.” He quickly clarified his joking remark when he saw the confusion and fear in my grandmother’s eyes. Of course, she made it to Carlton just fine, where she met and married my grandfather.
Like my aunt Martha Moore, my grandmother was a pretty prolific writer. Before she died in 1982 she compiled a 500-page book entitled “The Adams Family,” her/our family history on the Adams side. Since then, with the help of the internet, my grandmother’s book and other sources, I have been able to trace us back to Robert Adams who came from England to Jamestown, VA in 1620.
I know almost everybody loves their grandmother. Mine, Miss Chloe, as she was called by everybody I knew, was the kindest, most generous and loving person I have ever known. Many people knew her. All my younger life and almost to the person, everybody who found out I was her grandson always said, “Oh, you are Miss Chloe’s grandson. She’s just the nicest person.” If you had a “Coco” or a “Memaw” you know what I am talking about.
Columnist Charlie Snelling is an Athens resident who grew up in Carlton.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.