Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Demosthenian Hall, University of Georgia, Athens – postcard

It says on the back The Domosthenian Literary Society was organized in 1803. The hall was completed in 1824. It is a brick-cement covered structure with two feet thick walls.

The Domosthenian Literary Society is a debating society. I wonder if you have to leave your brass knuckles, knives, and firearms the door? Sometimes those debates turns personal and vicious. – look at political debates.

Years ago when I bought this card I think wanted it because it was part of the campus at about the time my g-g-g-grandfather Robert Eugene Hargraves Tyson (1798-1868). Then, The University of Georgia was named Franklin College. Eugene was a Latin scholar.

Eugene must have like Athens so well, he did as many UGA still do, remained there. He became a tax collector. He kept a little red ledger book of the taxes he collected and any comments he had about any collection. I saw that book and flipped through it. I wished I had grabbed it and ran.

In 1832, Eugene was married with kids, and might have been tired of Athens. He won land in the Cherokee Gold Lottery. He and his family moved to Cherokee County. There, he mined for gold on Kellogg Creek.

Before Robert Eugene Hargraves Tyson was Robert Eugene Hargraves Tyson his name was Job Tyson. His father was Job Tyson. He was named after his father.

His parents died when Job was young and his adult sister Winston Tyson adopted him and changed his name.

Why did she change his name? I don’t know. I suspect it had something to do with her father when he was a teenager. He pulled some kind of prank on the fighting British Army during the Revolutionary War. He was charged with some kind of crime and was brought before General/Lord Charles Cornwallis. It was expected he would be punished by immediate execution.

General Cornwallis did something, what some might consider worse than death. He pardoned him and said whatever he did was just a harmless prank of youth – and he had some good words to say about Job.

By that, many of Job’s peer’s considered him a traitor. He spent years trying to convince people otherwise. He even had his brothers and neighbors sign something stating that he was a Rebel against the British along with the best of them.

Maybe that is why Winston changed her young brother’s name.

Now why she gave him two middle names and one of those was Hargraves is another story. I have found no one with that surname in our Tyson family. The only Hargraves I have found, in any kind of proximity of the Tyson family, was a man with that last name who was in the same militia has her father.

Speaking of sister Winston, she got a job as a teacher at General Greene’s plantation near Savannah. I think the name of it was Mulberry. It is in the history books that Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin at that plantation. Eli came to apply for the teacher job he read about. When he arrived he found the job had already been taken. By then General Nathan Greene had died. Mrs. Greene told Eli that the job had been filled, but invited him to spend a few days there before going the long journey back. And while visiting is when Eli invented the Cotton Gin with the help of Mrs. Greene’s comb.

I don’t know that Winston Tyson beat Eli Whitney to the teacher’s job on Greene’s plantation – but the rough time slot fits….. if not, maybe she was fired from the position and then Mrs. Greene ran an ad… either way, it was a little part of history.

Winston Tyson died in a retired home for teachers in Augusta, Georgia.

Robert Eugene Hargraves Tyson died in Cherokee County, Georgia, and is buried in a tiny family cemetery, which, when I first found it, out in the woods of a family house. Now, it is behind a strip mall and on the other side a rental storage units complex.

The above is a brief Forest Gump version of history our Tyson’s brush with history.

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