2019 New Adventures of the Old Joyce travel blog

August 8, 2019 – Dallas, Rome and Mount Berry, Georgia

I got on the road about 8:30 this morning. My 1st stop was in Dallas where there are some fiberglass “Muffler Men”. There were a couple of men and Wonder Woman.

From there I went on to Rome where I spent a considerable amount of time. At the Visitor’s Center there was information about the Civil War battle of May 16-18, 1864.

Another marker talked about the passage of DeSoto through the area. In 1539, DeSoto landed in Florida with 600 people, 220 horses and swine for food. He wintered there before beginning his exploration. It is believed that he visited the Rome area on August 31, 1540 and left Georgia on September 5, 1540. DeSoto and 300 of his soldiers died on this exploration trip. Also on display was a cotton gin and a machine lathe.

On the grounds of the Visitor’s Center, they have built a labyrinth. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth has only 1 path and is not meant to confuse. The path into the center is a search for your true self as the stresses and the concerns of the world slip away from your consciousness. Walking a labyrinth is a form of meditation: sacred breath, sacred step.

Rome has a lot of Art Deco buildings and is a lovely town to just wander around in. The Freedom Garden has a statue of Admiral John Henry Towers who was the father of naval aviation.

There is a statue of the Capitoline Wolf which depicts Romulus and Remus nursing from her. The statue was given to the city of Rome in 1929 by Benito Mussolini on the occasion of Chatillion Corporation Silk Mills of Milan, Italy relocating to Georgia’s Rome. It is an exact replica of the Etruscan art that stands in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the ancient Capitoline Hill in Rome. The statue’s 1st years in Georgia’s Rome were not without controversy. While most people appreciated the statue and considered it a work of art, many others were offended by it and felt it was shocking and not something to be viewed by ladies and children. Often, when important events were scheduled at the City Auditorium, the twins were diapered and the wolf was draped. In 1933, one of the twins was kidnapped, but no one ever knew whether it was Romulus or Remus. Neither kidnapper nor the twin was ever found, but the Rome Rotary Club and International Rotary obtained another twin to replace the missing one.

War left its mark on the Capitoline Wolf and her adopted human babies. When Italy declared war on the Allies in 1940, threats to dynamite and destroy the statue became so numerous that the Rome City Commission ordered the statue removed and stored for safety. In 1952, a movement was started by citizens and art lovers to restore the statue and on September 8, 1952, the 1,500 pound statue was again placed on its pedestal in front of City Hall.

The Capitoline Wolf was involved in an event of historic significance on July 16, 1996 when the Olympic Torch was paused at the statue on its way to the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. A bronze marker was placed on the lawn of City Hall to commemorate this moment in time.

The mythical tale of Romulus and Remus has all the makings of a modern day epic. The twins were sons of Mars, the god of war, and Rhea Silvia, daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. King Numitor was overthrown by his brother, Amulius, who then ordered Romulus and Remus to be cast into the Tiber River. They were rescued by a she-wolf who cared for them until a herdsman found and raised them. Romulus and Remus grew and after reclaiming Alba Longa for King Numitor, the brothers began plans for a city near the site of their rescue on the banks of the Tiber. During a quarrel over the city’s name, Romulus killed Remus. He then built the city giving it his name.

Near the Capitoline Wolf is a granite obelisk which honors Dr. Robert Battey. He was a noted surgeon who performed the word’s 1st oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) in 1872.

The Clocktower is the official symbol of the city. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It stands in the center of town on Clocktower Hill, one of the 7 hills of Rome. The Noble Foundry, which manufactured steam engines and other articles of iron and steel, converted a large portion of its production to producing cannons for the Confederacy. Federal forces learned of this and occupied Rome in 1864. Months later, General Sherman ordered the evacuation of Federal troops and the destruction of the Noble Foundry and most of the downtown area was destroyed by fire.

In an attempt to rebuild, Rome found itself badly in need of a waterworks. In 1870, the Noble family led a movement to upgrade the city’s water supply with the proposed construction of a water tower. This project was projected to cost $100,000 when the city’s total revenue at the time totaled $21,000. The proposal became a political issue. The water tower was planned for the hill where the Clocktower stands now. Those who opposed the project used the argument that water pressure from such a tower would “knock the bottom out of tin cup” when faucets were opened. Despite that, the issue passed, and in 1871 construction began. The water tower was built of 10’ sheets of iron which was manufactured at the Noble Foundry. These sections were hand-riveted together to form the tank. The tank is 26’ in diameter, 63’ deep and had a capacity of 250,000 gallons. It is surrounded by a red brick tower which is decagon in shape. There is a 3’ space to permit an interior spiral staircase of 107 steps. The tower is surmounted by a 41’ superstructure containing the clock works and its 4 faces.

The clock was made by the E. Howard Clock Company of Boston, Massachusetts and was shipped to Rome in October, 1872. Its faces are 9’ in diameter. The minute hands are 4’ 3” while the hour hands are 3’ 6”. It is known by the manufacturer as their “No. 2, hour-striking, eight day clock”. The bell was made by the Meneely Bell Foundry of West Troy, New York. It is genuine bronze, 32” high and measures 40” in diameter at its rim which is 3 ½” thick. Molded into its rim is the date 1872. The bell has functioned properly since its original installation, but the 1st mechanism, an old hand windlass, has been replaced by a small electric motor.

Myrtle Hill Cemetery is Rome’s most tangible link to the past. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was established in 1857. Among those buried here are 4 Congressmen, a U.S. Senator, American’s Known Soldier and a First Lady of the US. It is significant that 3 of the 7 hills of Rome were chosen as burial grounds. Rome’s 1st cemetery, Oak Hill which is located on Lumpkin Hill, was established in 1837. The 3d cemetery located on Mount Aventine is the Rodeph Sholom Cemetery which was established in 1875.

When Myrtle Hill was established, Vinca Minor, more commonly called Myrtle, or the “flower of death”, grew wild on the hill and gave the cemetery its name. The tomb of the Known Soldier of WWI is located in the Veteran’s Plaza where his body is guarded by three 1904 water cooled automatic machine guns. A bronze replica of a WWI “Doughboy” is also located here.

Charles W. Graves died on the Hindenburg Line in 1918 and was buried in France. Four years later, in 1922, Charles’ body was loaded onto a huge troopship that was bringing bodies home for burial. With this last load of bodies, it was decided that a Known Soldier should be chosen to join the body of the Unknown Soldier for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. A sailor was blindfolded and asked to run his finger won the long list of “known dead”. His finger stopped at the name of Charles Graves of Rome, Georgia. Mrs. Graves had waited 4 years for the return of her son’s body, and she wanted him brought home for burial. The War Department agreed to her request but decided to honor America’s Known Soldier with a parade down 5th Avenue in New York. Accompanying his flag draped coffin was an honor guard of Admirals, Generals, 3 Governors, 5 US Senators, members of Congress, the Secretary of War and the Mayor of New York. President Warren Harding spoke about Charles and the other young men who had paid the ultimate price in the “great war”. On April 6, 1922 Charles was laid to rest in the cemetery at Antioch Church. He would not remain there long. Plans were developed to create a more prominent gravesite in a special memorial garden section of Myrtle Hill Cemetery where no burials had been allowed. After his mother’s death, his brother agreed to move the body to this site. There were Romans who felt his mother’s wishes should be kept. A hearing for a court injunction was set. Late on the night before the hearing, a group of citizens weny to Antioch and removed the coffin by lantern light. They brought it to Myrtle Hill and buried it in the place where it is now located. Charles Graves, America’s Known Soldier, was buried for the 3d and final time on September 22, 1923.

Also located in the Veteran’s Plaza is a monument to General Nathan Bedford Forrest who was a dashing cavalryman and popular hero of the Confederacy. It was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor Forrest for his role in capturing a Union raiding party near here in 1863.

The Women of the Confederacy Monument is believed to be the 1st monument in the world to honor the role of women in war. The women of Rome served as nurses to both Union and Confederate soldiers in the many local hospitals. The monument was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on October 8, 1910.

There are more than 300 soldiers buried in the Confederate Section of the cemetery. These include soldiers from both the Union and from all 11 states of the Confederacy. There are 81 unknown Confederate and 2 unknown Union soldiers buried here. Rome was a hospital center during the war. When Union troops under the command of General Sherman left Rome in November 1864, he ordered all of Broad Street burned except for the few buildings that were used as hospitals. Since several of the downtown churches were used as hospitals they were spared.

Julia Omberg was the patient of Dr. Robert Battey who performed the 1st oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) in the world. The surgery took place on the kitchen table of the Omberg residence. A lynch mob waited outside to hang Dr. Battey if the operation was unsuccessful. She survived the surgery and lived 50 more years and died at the age of 80 of natural causes.

Dr. Battey is also buried in this cemetery. His procedure is still taught in medical schools today. The Battey Mausoleum is the largest in the cemetery. It contains more than 40 bodies many of whose identity is unknown. Before modern burial techniques and refrigeration, Romans, whose out-of-town relatives died while visiting, received permission to store the bodies in the mausoleum until cooler weather. Many never returned to retrieve the bodies.

Ellen Axson Wilson was born in Savannah and moved with her family to Rome when she was 6. She graduated from Rome Female College and attended the New York Art Students League. Her father was pastor of Rome’s Frist Presbyterian Church. It was in this church that Woodrow Wilson, who later became the 28th President of the United States, first saw Ellen. They were married in 1885. A professional artist, she gave her earnings to numerous causes including the Berry School. As America’s First Lady, Ellen Wilson was a strong activist who devoted much of her time to the improvement of working conditions for women and promoting better housing for Washington’s impoverished. Eleanor Roosevelt considered Ellen her mentor on social issues. Ellen died in the White House on August 6, 1914 at the age of 54. The funeral services were held at Rome’s First Presbyterian Church. Her graveside service was the largest ever held at Myrtle Hill.

Other who are buried in Myrtle Hill include the parents of Martha Berry who founded Berry College; Daniel R. Mitchell was one of the 5 founders of Rome; Augustus Wright served as a US Congressman as well as a Confederate Congressman; Alfred Shorter was an entrepreneur who helped organize the Cherokee Baptist Female College (later Shorter College) in 1873 and served as the 1st President of the Board.

The Gammon Family are also buried here. One of the sons, Von, graduated from Rome High School whereupon he entered the University of Georgia in the fall of 1896. He was the quarterback and led the team to its 1st undefeated season. In 1897, he moved to fullback. On October 30, 1897 during a game with the University of Virginia, Von suffered a severe head injury and died the next day. The day of his funeral, a move began to make football illegal in Georgia. The Georgia legislature was called into session and passed a bill that would put an end to the game. Rosalind Gammon was upset that a game so loved by her son was being abolished in his name. She sent an impassioned letter to Governor Atkinson asking that he veto the bill. She signed her letter “Von Gammon’s Mother”. The bill was vetoed. Memorials dedicated to her as “The Woman Who Saved Football in Georgia” are located in Rome and in Athens at the University of Georgia.

The last stop of the day was at Mount Berry College. As you enter, there is a yellow diamond caution sign which shows a person, a bicycle and a deer. Underneath it says “everywhere all the time” – an it means it.

Berry College was founded by Martha Berry. The founding of the Berry Schools was inspired by Berry's desire to help the children of poor landowners and tenant farmers in Georgia who did not have access to quality education. As a consequence of this desire, Martha Berry never married, and she devoted her life to developing the schools that would eventually become Berry College.

In the late 1890s, she constructed a small, whitewashed school on eighty-three acres of land given to her by her father and began to teach Sunday school classes to local children. She also taught in the abandoned Possum Trot Church which still stands on the Berry College campus.

The Sunday school classes eventually turned into day school activities, and Berry opened a boarding facility for boys called Boys’ Industrial School on January 13, 1902. At the time, Berry had only five boarders, but the need was apparent and in 1909 she opened the Martha Berry School for Girls. Both schools offered high school-level education and were open to those willing to study hard and work for the school. Her teachings focused on the "head, heart, and hands" of her students: The ability to learn, work and the will to do both well. Her motto, taken from the Gospel of Mark, was, and still is, the motto of the college "Not to be ministered unto but to minister."

In 1926, she established Berry Junior College, which in 1930 expanded into a four-year school. Martha Berry died in 1942 and the schools were faced with several years of transition. The Martha Berry School for Girls closed at the end of the 1955–1956 academic year. The boys' high school was renamed Mount Berry School for Boys, and in 1962 it became Berry Academy, which was closed in 1983 when Berry College incorporated. The college now offers one of the country's largest work-study programs requiring all of its students to work an on-campus job for their four years at the school. Berry College also offers scholarships of various types to help its students pay for their education.

Martha Berry had many supporters during her lifetime, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Ellen Louise Axson Wilson (wife of President Woodrow Wilson) and Henry Ford. Ford in particular was a generous benefactor to the schools and provided the funds necessary to build the "castle"-like dormitory complex found at the college. These dormitories are named after Ford's wife and mother, Clara and Mary.

Educators have written that Martha Berry was responsible for the creation of work-study programs grounded in Christian faith that are now found throughout the South. Berry certainly put her unique touch upon her school centering on the maxim that "prayer changes things". In recognition of Martha Berry's contribution to education, she was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement in March 1992 as one of the first five inductees.

The campus today covers 27,000 acres. There are ponds, hay fields, a nesting eagle pair, deer and 88 miles of trails. In some ways, some of the architecture (the Ford buildings) reminds me of the old part of the Duke University campus. While school was not yet in session, there were students baling hay as I drove through campus. There were deer everywhere, and they were not the least bit afraid of people. They were on the lawns of dorms, class room buildings, the chapel and anywhere else they found a good place to lay or had found an especially tasty bit of grass to munch. The grounds are beautifully maintained. The college is rated by US News and World Report as #9 of regional universities in the South. The enrollment is about 2,000 undergraduates. It has an endowment of $968.5 million.

After driving around the campus, I headed out for Scottsboro where I arrived in time to go to Unclaimed Baggage. As usual, I had a great time looking at all the different things which were available. I bought a red skirt and a blouse and spent a whole $9. They were getting ready for their “Farewell to Summer” sale starting tomorrow. I’m not going to hang around for as I really don’t need any more clothes. They weren’t putting anything else on sale such as books, electronics, etc.

I hope to get an early start tomorrow.


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