This week we are going to connect with a bit of Atlanta as well as old Campbell County history via an obituary in the “Douglas County Sentinel” from 1917 for the prominent Mrs. Holcombe — Mrs. Henry C. Holcombe — and to be more exact Raymouth Rama Rice Holcombe. She was the daughter of pioneer Baptist preacher, Parker M. Rice and was the maternal granddaughter of old Campbell County settler, Armstead Bomar, Sr. (1768 to 1840). Mrs. Holcombe had been born in Campbellton in 1833 before moving to Atlanta at the age of 16 with her parents.

The obituary dated Nov. 16, 1917 explained how Mrs. Holcombe had passed at six in the morning on Saturday, Nov. 10, and at 89 years old she was one of the oldest and most highly respected ladies of this section. Mrs. Holcombe had resided for the past few years with her granddaughter, Mrs. G.H. Turner (Helen Evelyn Whitley Turner) who lived in Douglasville. The funeral was held at the Turner home followed by a train trip to Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.

H.C. Holcombe was one of the first pioneer settlers of Atlanta. He partnered with his wife’s grandfather, Zachariah A. Rice in leasing the hotel known as Washington Hall located at the corner of Loyd Street (Central Avenue) and the railroad. The hotel was built in 1846 by John Loyd, and it appears the partnership of Rice and Holcombe ran the hotel for a couple of years, at least. Holcombe also dabbled in real estate around the city and was involved with the city council often being listed as the council’s clerk. He also was associated with the post office in Atlanta following the Civil War.

H.C. Holcombe tragically passed on April 1, 1878 following a buggy accident a few days earlier when he was driving a female relative through Cobb County. The buggy was crossing a bridge over Sweetwater Creek (I’m assuming in the area of Austell) when the horse became stubborn and began to back up. Holcombe and his passenger were finally pushed off the bridge, and both Mr. Holcombe and his passenger fell twenty feet to the stream. The lady fell in comparatively deep water and was only slightly injured. Mr. Holcombe landed in very shallow water and received injuries from which he eventually died.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Holcombe were faithful members of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and had worked tirelessly in their efforts for the church and the poor. In fact, Mrs. Holcombe’s father, Rev. Parker M. Rice (1801-1853) had been a member of the appointed presbytery which organized the church along with 17 charter members on January 1, 1848. The church formed in a school house where they held temporary services until their first building was erected at the northwest corner of Walton and Forsyth Streets.

The Holcombes lived on McDonough Street (today’s Capitol Avenue) across from Atlanta’s City Hall as viewed in the 1878 map I’ve presented here. It was described in an 1881 ad as a gilt-edge property — one of the best localities in the city.

During the last two years of the Civil War Atlanta was an important strategic point in the southern confederacy and had more makeshift hospitals around the city than any other point during the Confederacy. The hospital at Atlanta’s City Hall was referred to as Brown’s Hospital — named after Georgia’s governor at the time, Joseph E. Brown. Governor Brown directed this hospital would be unique from the others because it was meant to be strictly for the treatment and comfort of sick and wounded Georgia troops. The city hall building — a two-story brick structure surrounded by large and beautiful shade trees — was the only suitable location that was not already occupied in some capacity by other departments of the confederacy. Under Dr. R.J. Massey’s control, Brown Hospital was set up with 400 beds. Dr. Massey was once a prominent citizen of Douglasville, and I profile him and provide more details regarding Brown Hospital when it was moved to Milledgeville as General Sherman approached the city in my book “Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County.”

Mrs. Holcombe, living across the street, found Brown Hospital the perfect place to volunteer as many women did in Atlanta during the last two years of the war. Her obituary advises she even converted her home to a hospital caring for both Confederate and Union soldiers during the Battle of Atlanta, and I don’t doubt that for a minute, as the deluge of the wounded inundated the city and the makeshift hospitals. While others evacuated the city, it is said Mrs. Holcombe valiantly stuck to her post during the fierce conflict and the siege that followed to minister to the soldiers under her care.

Soon after the war the movers and shakers of Atlanta undertook steps to move the state capitol from Milledgeville to Atlanta. They promised the legislature the city would donate a ten- acre tract for the purpose, and the city hall parcel was chosen. To cure the sting of giving up the already historic city hall building the new capitol building plans included a massive building set in a park-like setting — a beautiful addition to the city, but folks wanted the parcel to be a perfect square, and as you can see in the 1878 map the city hall parcel was not square.

The solution was to acquire parcels including St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, most of the Holcombe property, and some of the Georgia Railroad land. Today, when you visit Liberty Plaza across the street from the Capitol building you are standing on the Holcombe property, still a gilt-edge and most historic part of the city!

This column ran in the Douglas County Sentinel in June 2018. 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.

This column ran in the Douglas County Sentinel in June 2018. 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.

This column ran in the Douglas County Sentinel in June 2018. 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.