Cooper: A fish tale


This image shows the Aderhold Ferry which was located along the Chattahoochee River between Buzzard Roost Island and the mouth of Sweetwater Creek. In 1899, a trio of young men decided to swipe the ferryman's box of fish with legal consequences.

I have to admit I stopped keeping up with the school calendar once I left the classroom in 2007, so I'm always a little surprised when I suddenly start seeing legions of young people and wee ones when I'm out and about, but here we are ...

It is summer break, and school is out.

My childhood memories of summer include waking up to the slam of a screen door, hours riding my bike complete with the requisite banana seat, sissy bar, and front basket with psychedelic plastic flowers, and long afternoons escaping the hot sun on our front porch reading a book with characters like Encyclopedia Brown, Ramona Quimby, or Homer Price. I never went fishing around Red Oak, but plenty of boys I knew would fish at the lakes along Camp Creek Parkway or even wet a hook at the 'hooch as in Chattahoochee River.

In May 1899, as fishing season opened three young boys from Atlanta had moseyed down the banks of the Chattahoochee River as far as Buzzard Roost Island at Sandtown and then on down close to where Sweetwater Creek flows into the river to enjoy a day with a hook and line.

They should have stuck to the hook and line proposal, but they didn't.

Will Jeffries and Pat Whaley were both 16 years of age and hailed from Yonge and Bradley Streets in Atlanta. The third young man was a bit older. He was Ben Perdue. When questioned later both Jeffries and Whaley would advise Perdue was in the army and had headed off to fight the Filipinos. The Philippine-American War lasted from February 1899 to July 1902. It's quite a chapter in American history, but I'll let you look it up on your own time.

The boys happened upon Aderhold's Ferry which was located between Buzzard Roost Island and the mouth of Sweetwater Creek. They also happened upon a basket or rather box that was filled with fish, and seeing that they could swipe more fish in a few minutes than they could hook all day, they helped themselves to the fish in the box.

Three months later Jeffries and Whaley were picked up by the law.

The arrest warrants were sworn out in Campbell County and sent to Atlanta to be served by George Aderhold who owned the box, and it is said that this was neither the first time nor the last that trespassers took his fish.

The Aderhold family headed by Frederick Aderhold Sr. had arrived in Campbell County in the 1830s and settled in the Chestnut Log district. Research by the beloved Henley Campbell shares that Frederick Aderhold Sr. operated a mill located off of what is now Highway 166/92 and Hildebrand Drive, and he also operated the ferry that bore his name. Aderhold Sr. died in 1883, but left behind several children who also made their mark in Campbell and Douglas counties including James M. who ran a saloon in old Campbellton in the 1880s, and Fred Jr. who served as Douglasville's town marshal, deputy sheriff, operated a Douglasville saloon while serving as deputy sheriff, served as Sheriff of Douglas County from 1891 to 1892, as well as Justice of the Peace for the town district. It seems Aderhold Sr.'s eldest son, William, was a postmaster at Sandtown and operated the ferry after his father's death. William passed in 1898, so it was his son, George Uriah Aderhold who swore out the warrant for the fish thieves.

The boys were locked up at the Atlanta police barracks, and stated they saw the box swinging from the limb of a tree by a piece of wire, but it was Ben Perdue who took the fish. That was plenty convenient since he was far, far away serving his country.

The technical charge against the youths was larceny, and they were probably taken to Fairburn for trial. At the present time I'm not aware if their "fish tale" got the charges dropped or not, but word of warning ... ferrymen along the Chattahoochee don't take kindly to their fish being snagged a second time.

Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can find her new book "Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County" online at Amazon, print and Kindle versions. Locally, her book can be found at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art and the Douglasville Welcome Center located at O'Neal Plaza in the former Douglasville Banking Company building.

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