Newspaper Articles We Have Written

MADISON'S SPANISH FLU EPIDEMIC

1918-1920

by Patsy Harris

The Morgan County Citizen September 2019

Married only 2 1/2 years and soon to give birth to her first child, the always sunny and cheerful Hawesie Moore was tragically stricken with one of the last local cases of Spanish Influenza. A few days later, her infant daughter was delivered stillborn, followed in two hours by Hawesie’s own death. That winter of 1920 mother and child were placed in one casket and buried in Madison’s Old Cemetery.

      

Their story was one of The Madisonian’s two-year-long stretch of articles about locals suffering  and dying from this devastating strain of a virus which targeted not only the young and old, but especially healthy young adults.

      

One modern study points to the newly mutated form as having arisen in the town of Haskell, Kansas in January 1918, others to one U.S. Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas who reported ill on March 4, 1918. Hours later hundreds of trainees at the base had flu symptoms. The close and crowded life of an Army at war fueled this first wave of influenza to the rest of the world.

      

But it was the second wave in the fall of 1918, mid-September to mid-December, that proved the most harmful, due to the Spanish flu’s surprisingly deadly secondary infection of bacterial pneumonia. In a modern report, the National Institutes of Health explained, “The pneumonia was caused when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs.”

      

Months before that deadly second wave, during May of that year, many cases of pneumonia had been reported in the newspaper, and could have been due to early Spanish influenza. The Bostwick correspondent wrote, “There seems to be an epidemic of lagrippe (flu) and pneumonia in and around town.” One Greensboro man’s May obituary stated that pneumonia “seems to be fatal this year in many cases.” Edward Lamar Knott of Apalachee was attending the Georgia School of Technology, was only 21, and died of pneumonia there.

      

Also that month, Bessie King explained her absence from her Red Cross work and thanked her friends in a Madisonian article for their help during the illness in her family - Rev. Wilson D. King, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, 39 years old, was sick with pneumonia and their two children, 20 and 15, were ill with lagrippe. That family survived, but the newspaper editor noted later in the fall, ”It is very fatal among the colored population especially about Madison.”

      

The Madisonian’s very first two mentions of locals with Spanish influenza were of a young soldier and sailor during that second wave - September 1918. Navy man Hope Richey was noted being in a base hospital with the Spanish Influenza, and in that same issue it was reported that a young man from Eatonton had died of the flu at a training camp in Boston.

      

The U.S. Public Health Service described the disease as resembling “a very contagious kind of ‘cold,’ accompanied by fever, pains in the head, eyes, ears, back or other parts of the body and feeling of severe sickness. In most of the cases the symptoms disappear after three or four days, the patient then rapidly recovering (but some) develop pneumonia, or inflammation of the ear, or meningitis, and many of these complicated cases die.”

      

The Madisonian editor described this illness as “more deadly than ordinary grippe. The tendency toward pneumonia seems to be strong, and complications set in rapidly and fiercely.” He also said it was “like death riding on every passing breeze.” It would be many years later that penicillin was in use for bacterial infections.

      

To minimize the risk of catching the disease, Madison citizens were instructed to have a “proper proportion of work, play and rest,” main-tain a good diet, drink milk, and avoid over-crowded homes, public places such as streetcars, and especially people who cough or sneeze. Treatment for the virus was basic – go to bed, collect sputum and other discharges on small pieces paper or gauze and then burn them, drink water for fever and headache, apply cold compresses to the forehead. Caregivers were instructed to wear a fold of gauze over nose and mouth and a covering over clothing while in the sickroom.

      

With a sharp increase in local cases, in mid-October 1918 Madison’s Mayor and City Council closed all schools and banned public gatherings, even church services, “until further notice,” which came in December. New cases dropped, and after the Christmas holidays, schools reopened and life returned to relative normalcy. 

      

A milder wave of the epidemic swept the globe in the winter and spring of 1919, and a fourth in 1920, the one that killed Hawesie Moore and her baby.

      

“The pandemic (worldwide epidemic) …was the deadliest disease outbreak in human history, killing between 50 million and 100 million people,” said Smithsonian Magazine. “Some 670,000 Americans died.”

Click here for Hawsie Moore's obituary.

THEODORE MARKWALTER

Prussian Carves Toddler’s Headstone

by Patsy Harris

The Morgan County Citizen April 2019

 

Sally Saffold was just two years old in 1855 when she died and was buried in Madison’s Old Cemetery. Her father was a wealthy farmer, merchant, and politician in Madison. Soon after death, the toddler was commemorated with a marble headstone made in Augusta by the firm of Theodore Markwalter.

      

Markwalter was born in 1820 in Konigswinter, Prussia, now Germany. After initial schooling, Markwater joined in his family’s quarry business as a stonecutter. At age 34, he and his brother immigrated to New York where they worked on the Erie Canal. From there he moved to Charleston, SC, and then, in the 1850s, to Augusta where he lived the rest of his life.

      

Markwalter was a pioneer in marble statuary portraits in the South, his first being of Dr. James D. Mackie (1818-1854) in Augusta’s Magnolia Cemetery. He also was the creator of the marble likeness of Alexander H. Stephens which stands in front of Stephen’s home in Crawfordville.

      

His work was lauded in an 1886 advertising pamphlet as “of the high artistic quality of his talent, as well as of beauty of workmanship and design nowhere surpassed.” His business “is one of the largest and oldest in the State, and the specimens of his work can be found in almost every cemetery in the South. He does an extensive business in all sorts and grades of marble and granite work, having steam power and the most perfect facilities procurable, as well as employing numerous skillful and competent workmen.”​

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Markwalter died in 1896 and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta with his wife Fredricka who had died in 1872 at 33, their four-year-old son John Henry who died a year later, and their daughter Anna who died a few weeks after her first birthday in 1862.

Click here for more about Theodore Markwalter.

MILON MIKOLASEK & HARRIET CARTER

A Tale of Love and Tragedy

by Ken Kocher

The Morgan County Citizen March 2019

Walking through Madison’s Fairview Cemetery, one may come upon the Carter family plot where a stone bears a name seemingly out of place: Milon J. Mikolasek. The story of Milon and the Carter family is one of love, war, tragedy, friendship, and family.

             

It began in Madison in 1937 with a school assignment. Harriet Carter and her classmates  exchanged correspondence with students in other countries. Harriet’s letters made their way to Milon in Brno, Czechoslovakia in whom she found a kindred spirit. She loved literature, he loved language, and their exchange of words eventually lead to romance. The couple became engaged to be married.

             

The German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 put these plans on hold. Under a forced labor order, Milon’s language skills were put to use, first as an interpreter at a concentration camp, then as a French-German-Czech business correspondent in a factory, and finally at a bank. Meanwhile, Harriet had no idea whether her fiancé was safe or even alive. Late in the war, Milon and his family helped a crew of American airmen escape Czechoslovakia after their plane was shot down. At the border, Milon handed them a letter to send to Harriet.

             

Following the Allied victory in 1945, Milon began planning his passage to the U.S. Finally, at the end of July 1946, he boarded a plane to New York to begin his journey to his love, Harriet Carter, in Madison, Georgia. He met Harriet’s mother, Mrs. Hattie May Carter, at her home on Billups Avenue. Mrs. Carter had the sad task of informing Milon that her daughter Harriet had died the previous year following an appendicitis attack. Milon’s letter had arrived a month after Harriet’s death. Mrs. Carter had tried to contact Milon, but none of her letters reached him.

             

Milon’s connection to the Carters did not end here. He accepted Mrs. Carter’s invitation to live with her while he studied International Relations at UGA. After graduation, he gained his U.S. citizenship and joined the State Department. While on assignment in Munich, Germany in 1953 tragedy struck again. Milon was taken ill with a terrible headache and died of a brain hemorrhage.

             

Mrs. Carter had the body returned to Madison for burial in the Carter family plot. Harriet’s and Milon’s markers seem to embody a song she wrote for him as she pined for him in distant Europe, “So Near, So Far.”

HARPER & LOUISA GOLDWIRE

An early influential African-American family

by Melissa Piche & Patsy Harris

The Morgan County Citizen February 2019

Behind Calvary Baptist Church on the hill sloping away from Old Cemetery toward Round Bowl Spring Park lies a mysterious meadow dotted with a few lonely headstones. A dedication marker erected under the direction of Historian Woody Williams notes the unmarked burials of African Americans, including slaves, too poor to purchase permanent headstones. However, just beyond Calvary’s back door, stands a 6-foot obelisk marking the family plot of Harper Ridges Goldwire, a testament to Goldwire’s hard work, success, and sorrows.

      

Born in Cobb County in 1850, Harper Goldwire moved to Madison and married Louisa in 1870; he was 20 and she was 18. Nothing is currently known about their childhoods.

Goldwire became a much-respected wheelwright, blacksmith, and citizen. Advertisements and articles in the Madisonian and in Atlanta papers attested to Harper’s outstanding abilities and character.

      

Unfortunately, most articles were complementary of his work yet derogatory of his race. One writer stated, “A man of this kind, no matter what his color, is an acquisition to the community, and deserves the confidence and good will of its best people.” Goldwire’s successes are astonishing given the barriers he faced as a black man late in the 19th century.  

      

Goldwire owned multiple lots in Madison, including his home on North Main and his carriage and blacksmith shop on the corner of First and Burney streets.  Louisa sold the properties in 1922, 21 years after Harper’s death.

      

Goldwire was working in Atlanta when he died of the grippe or flu. He was 51 years old leaving Louisa $2,000 in life insurance. His will was probated in Fulton County and administrated by Dr. Donarell Green, a black physician who had begun his medical career in Madison. A friendship with the Goldwires had likely been cultivated in Madison, as Green was described as a dear friend in Louisa’s will.

 

Below Goldwire’s name on his headstone are the names of five children who died in infancy. By the age of 29, Louisa had given birth to eight children. Even with all of their success, how sorrowful their lives must have been.

             

After her husband died, for 30 years Louisa was a “trusted servant” of the Murchison Thomas family in Savannah and Atlanta. She died in 1936 during the Great Depression. Her 1918 will directed she be buried in her Madison family plot with Harper and her name be engraved on the obelisk, a task never accomplished, potentially due to the Depression. The epithet engraved on the stone reads “Devoted Husband and loving father. There is no death what seems so is transition: This life of mortal breath is but a suburb of the life elysian, whose portal we call death,” the last portion quoted from a Longfellow poem.

Click here for the Goldwire obituaries.

ROBERT EBERHARD LAUNITZ

The Father of Monumental Art in America

by Deneice Rice

The Morgan County Citizen January 2019

Madison’s Historic Cemeteries are home to more than 4,000 burials – some marked by simple, handmade memorials, some by elaborate and towering marble works of art, and, sadly, some not marked at all.

             

The “maker’s marks” of at least 17 different stone carvers or their companies have been identified in the cemeteries. These specifically identifiable craftsmen are responsible for some of the more striking tombstones. A maker’s mark is the personal mark, often the name of the artist or company, engraved on the stone.

             

“The majority of tombstones do not bear the maker’s name, so being able to identify 17 stone carvers in the older two of our four cemeteries is remarkable,” said Melissa Piche, Cemetery Stewardship Commission (CSC) member, who has discovered most the marks.

             

One of the most famous of the 17 artisans is Robert Eberhard Launitz, who created the Stokes-McHenry and the Wade family monuments, both located in Old Cemetery. Known as the “father of monumental art in America,” Launitz was born in 1806 in western Russia. Although his parents wanted him to pursue a classical education and military career, his sculptor uncle took him to Rome where they both studied under the internationally known Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

             

Launitz came to the United States in 1828 and worked his way into a partnership with the renowned American marble worker John Frazee in New York. In 1845 he began work on his most famous large monuments with a marble statue of a 17-year-old girl whose death and poignant monument tweaked the public interest. Shortly after, the New York Fire Department commissioned Launitz to sculpt a marble memorial to its fallen firefighters. According to one source, “It was the first large monument erected in a cemetery in the United States, and the first one that paid tribute to an element of general human sympathy.”

             

Launitz designed other private and public monuments of note, including the 55-foot Pulaski monument in Savannah, GA, and a 65-foot monument commissioned by the state of Kentucky and dedicated to those who had “fallen in defense of the country.” He also designed a large white marble stone, which was installed in 1853 on the interior of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. Launitz died in 1870 and was buried in New York.

Click here for more information and photographs of his work.