Cooper: Mr. Winn remembers

Frank M. Winn, longtime Douglas County Clerk of Superior Court and beloved citizen, wrote down his memories and published a few copies for family and friends at some point before his death in 1996.

Mr. Frank M. Winn (1894-1996), long time Douglas County Superior Court clerk and beloved citizen, wrote down his memories and published a few copies for family and friends at some point before his death. I happened upon a copy not long ago and love the tidbits of information I have gleaned from it.

Here are 10 fascinating remembrances:

1. The coldest weather Mr. Winn could remember occurred February 13, 1899. He says, “The thermometer registered nine below zero. My father went out and nailed extra planks in the barn to help protect the livestock from the weather.”

2. Within Mr. Winn’s writing I found the first description of the Douglasville College auditorium. The school sat where the fire department and armory are today on Church Street. By 1900, the younger grades had been done away with and only the high school remained. Mr. Winn states, “The building had a large and spacious auditorium which would seat about 1200 people … School and public events were held there at that time.”

3. By 1902, the Winn family lived on property referred to as the Roach Place near Bear Creek next to Fouts Mill. The old Roach home burned in 1989, but Mr. Winn advises the mill was known as Adamson’s Mill when he lived there.

4. In 1902, Rural Free Delivery (RFD) mail routes began in Douglas County. Joe Huey, one of the two carriers, covered his route with horse and buggy. The first day of the delivery was well advertised, and Mr. Winn relates everyone went out to greet the carrier at the mailbox. Mr. Winn states, “He probably received enough tea-cakes and other goodies to last for days.”

5. Mr. Winn describes a trip to Atlanta in 1904. His destination was what he describes as the stockyards on Peters Street owned by La Fayette Souter of Douglas County. Farmers could sell their produce there. Mr. Winn describes the Atlanta streets — many of which were paved with cobblestones at that time saying “the tramping of the horse feet with metal “shoes” could be heard for blocks.”

6. Mr. Winn’s first ride in an automobile was in 1906 or 1907. The car was bought by Tim Walton who was using the car as a taxi in Douglasville. Mr. Winn states “We rode down Broad Street like we were the main attraction in a parade!”

7. The main activity for high school kids in Douglasville between the years 1912 to 1915 centered on J.L. Selman and Son — the drugstore where the Irish Bred Pub was located. The teens would buy a five cent drink and go to the train “depot one block down the street and across the railroad to see who got on and off train” The next stop would be the post office — where Gumbeaux’s is today — and wait for the mail to be put in the boxes or handed out through the window.

8. Free concerts at Douglasville’s O’Neal Plaza are nothing new. Mr. Winn relates how he along with Glenn Butler, Roy Smith, and Frank Silvey would meet “uptown” at night at a time when many of the businesses would stay open till 10 p.m. including “the drugstore, the lone restaurant, and motion picture show” which at that time would have been located where Fabiano’s Pizza is today. They formed a singing quartet and on street corners they would entertain downtown shoppers by singing the major hits of the day — “Sweet Adeline”, “Down by the old Mill Stream” and “Let me Call You Sweetheart.”

9. In 1918, Douglasville passed the first city ordinance regarding fixed speed limits on autos at 15 m.p.h. The funny thing about that is at that time there were no police cars or even a motorcycle to check. Distances were measured along Broad Street and a chart was made. Drivers were observed and the chart was consulted. If it was determined you made the distance in less time than the chart stated you would be issued a ticket when “the law” caught up with you later at home, work or even church.

Everyone knew each other, remember?

10. There is a longstanding story in Douglas County that all the records burned up when the 1896 Courthouse burned in January 1956. Mr. Winn relates the cold weather and continuous operation of the gas furnace overheating was the cause of the fire. The Clerk’s office along with the offices of the Ordinary and county commissioners all had fireproof safes. The records survived except for a few items that suffered water damage in the Ordinary’s office.

Mr. Winn should know.

He served as Superior Court Clerk in 1915 when he took over his father’s unexpired term at age 21. He then served as deputy clerk for a few years, and then was elected to that office in 1948 serving there through 1965, and until his death in 1996 he continued to volunteer at the courthouse and serve the people of Douglas County in many different ways.

This column ran in the Douglas County Sentinel in August 2015. Lisa’s books “Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County, Volume 1,” “Douglasville,” a pictorial history, and “Georgia on My Mind: True Tales from Around the State”, are available at Amazon and The Farmers Table, Douglasville Welcome Center, and the Douglas County Museum of History and Art.