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Sandersville Scene.



sandersville scene

Established 2008 Volume 9 No. 3


Publisher Keith Barlow

9 E d i to r

WCHS gains new weight room Washington County High School gets state-of-the art weight room



15 Kaolin Festival Grand Marshal David Gordy serves as this year’s grand marshal

M i c h a e l E va n s

A dv e r t i s i n g d i r e c t o r erin andrews

Writers T ay l o r H e m b r e e

16 Kaolin Festival Preview A look inside the events that will take place during the Kaolin Festival

18 Learning to Lead Katie Moncus serves as the new Chamber president

A dv e r t i s i n g S a l e s A m y B u d ry s T ay l o r H e m b r e e Graphic Designer T ay l o r H e m b r e e

24 Family Connection A look at the community organization

30 Essie English: Death and Hauntings The life and death of Essie English

In Every Issue Sandersville Scene magazine is published by The Union-Recorder four times a year at 165 Garrett Way, Milledgeville, GA 31061 For more information on submitting stories or to advertise in Sandersville Scene, call (478) 453-0567

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7 Editor’s Note 27 Worship Guide 36 Arts & Entertainment 38 Photo Galleries



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About the cover The cover features Bryant Jordan, a local artist and history buff in Sandersville. He is holding a drawing that he did based off of old photographs of Essie English. The drawing is his interpretation of what Essie would have looked like if she would not have tragically died. See the full story on page 30.


24 Sandersville ScenEe.


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his issue of Sandersville Scene is full of stories, photos and events that have certainly kept us busy over the course of the past few weeks. We hope the finished product reflects all the time and preparation, but most importantly, that our enthusiasm for all the people and places featured shows on each and every page. In this issue we share insight from new Washington County Chamber of Commerce CEO Katie Moncus and Kaolin Festival Parade grand marshal David Gordy. Both are lifelong residents of the local community, and they were a delight to get to know. We hope you learn more about them as well through our feature stories. Also in this issue, we take a glimpse inside the new, state-of-the-art weight room at Washington County High School and you can find out all the great things happening through the Family Connection collaborative. Get all the details on the upcoming Kaolin Festival events and learn the history and legend behind the life and death of Essie English and the old county jail. I’d also like to welcome Taylor Hembree on board with Sandersville Scene. Taylor has previously written for our magazine, but she recently embarked on a new, more hands-on project as our magazines representative. We’re certainly grateful that she has received such a warm welcome in the community thus far. If you happen to see her around town, be sure to stop and say hello. As always, we welcome your feedback on the magazine and your story ideas and suggestions. Drop Taylor a line at or email me at or give us a call at 478-4531450. We always love hearing from you.




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y name is Taylor Hembree and I am currently in my last stretch of college at Georgia College in Milledgeville and will graduate in December. Currently, I am working at the Union Recorder as a magazine representa-

tive. When I graduate, I will have a mass communication degree with a minor in photography. My hope is to use my skills that I have acquired throughout college and put them into this publication. After visiting Sandersville multiple times, it is clear that this community is so important to everyone who lives here. The people I have met and the charm of Sandersville have inspired me. I think that spending time in Sandersville will come easy as there is so much unique history and stories. One of my biggest goals in life is to be a storyteller. I love people and I constantly want to know more about others’ lives, passions and excitements. I think that by using this publication as a tool to get to the heart of Sandersville and learn about the community, the magazine will continue to grow and please its readers. I look forward to immersing myself into the town and getting to know as many of you as I can. Thanks for letting me be a part of your community. Please feel free to reach out to me via email at or via phone at 706-540-8656.

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Story and Photos by Taylor Hembree Sandersville Scene 9

Producing Kaolin is not the only thing Washington County is known for. Washington County has become synonymous with strength and conditioning. “It became so much of a part of our culture that when you talk to people from all over the state — when they think of Washington County — they think ‘oh they’re strong’ ‘they always lift weights.’ It’s just engrained in our kids,” Washington County High School head football coach Joel Ingram says. With professional ball players like Robert Edwards, Chris Edwards, Takeo Spikes and Josh Gordy as high school alumni, there is no doubt that Washington County produces some talented athletes. Part of extending that athletic legend comes from learning the core values of fitness, exercise and training. Up until recently, Washington County High School students who lifted weights either in class, for practice or just to exercise, used a facility that helped train some of the athletes that the county had become known for. Greats like Takeo Spikes spent his afternoons doing power lifts and more in the facility. “We loved it — you know it was dark. It was crowded. But, it was ours,” Ingram says. However, while historic, the school and its weight lifters simply outgrew the facility and a new one was planned. For a handful of years, plans for the new weight room were on the table. Principal Al Gray decided the school would start saving money so that when the time came, the new facility could have state-of-the-art equipment. Ingram says that Gray was frugal and smart with donations and that the principal was kind of the mastermind behind the whole planning of the facility. Donations from Takeo Spikes and Josh Gordy drastically helped to push the project forward. “Takeo Spikes is one of the most humble and generous people you’ll meet,” Ingram says. “Takeo always struck me as a guy, no

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matter how successful he was, when you saw him he was always the same guy. “ Both Spikes and Gordy give back to the community in multiple ways. They both support the program monetarily, and Spikes puts on a football camp each year. He also attends a lot of the football games in order to show support. “He’s like having an extra coach on the sidelines,” Ingram says. Gordy worked with the NFL Match Program with his donations. The program matches Gordy’s monetary donations. Gordy donates a certain percentage of money and the NFL matches his contribution. “Everyone knows those guys around here,” Ingram says. “They are constantly showing love to the program.” The football team has unofficially named the building the Spikes-Gordy Room in recognition of their support. “I know I have someone to look up to as far as football because they have been different places and they know what to expect out of this team and they support us every year,” senior offensive guard and defensive tackle Chandler Seales says. The weight room is a crucial part of the school because of the sheer numbers of people that use it. Whether it’s a sports team, a class or students coming to work out, the room is used by hundreds of people. “It’s not just football players — we’ve got all athletes, we’ve got girls, we’ve got kids that just want to lift weights,” Ingram says. The weightlifting class has become the most requested elective at the school, and with a champion weightlifting team, one can’t blame the coaches and students for being ecstatic about the new facility. “It’s been fantastic,” Robert Blocker, strength and condition coach and weight lifting teacher says. “It’s a first class facility. It’s amazing. Every sport gets to use it. All the kids that want to take weightlifting get to use it. We are able to get a lot done in a lot less time.

“It’s just an amazing facility and we are thankful for it everyday,” Ingram says. “We take extra special care of it. Kids appreciate it.” While the excitement about the new facility has made the students excited to work out, there is a huge practical aspect to the new room. “We can house so many kids in here and we can work smarter and faster,” Ingram says. Working harder and faster is a goal of all of the coaches at the high school. “You can get a full workout in maybe an hour’s time,” Ingram says. “That frees you up to do more things on the field to get your team ready.” Washington County has a successful weightlifting team, and with its track record, athletes are always training to perform better and better each year. Seales says that he works out every day except for Saturdays and Sundays.

“We can do everything at one station — we can power clean or squat or bench all at one station,” Seales says. “We have more stations than we did last year and it’s all in one room and it has great A/C and that helps a lot.” Walking into the new space, one can easily tell why the coaches and students are so excited to call it theirs. From the Golden Hawks logo on every station, to the brand new benches, lift bars and weights, to the free space and air conditioning, the room is impressive. “I was mesmerized,” Blocker says. “To go from what was kind of historic itself — I know it was kind of old, but to know the guys who had lifted in there — Takeo Spikes, the Edwards kids and the whole nine yards — to see this one come into effect and now the kids are getting to work out in here. It makes you think about all of the different things you’re going to get to do with it.”

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Potential to grow some of the best athletes and hard working young people plays an important role to the adults who train students in the facility. Not only is it an important aspect to the high school, but it has also become an important aspect to the community as well. “We are a blue collar town — we are a chalk mining town,” Ingram says. “We are producing guys, through this weight program, that we feel like are not scared of hard work, that will roll their sleeves up, that are tough and they end up being very good employees and eventually leaders in their chosen field.” Seales says he and the team think the new weight room

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will be beneficial to their success. “[I look forward to] going out and being the best that I know we can be, and what we are capable of and showing people that we came to play every Friday night,” Seales says. The hope is that even after the students leave the high school, they will remember what they learned while training or working out in the weight room. “It’s always a thrill when I see kids that I taught 10, 12 years ago that are ravenous about working out,” Ingram says. “I’ll see them at the local gym and stuff or lifting because of this place here.”

Story and Photo by Taylor Hembree David Gordy, a local barber and Washington County resident, is known around town as a warm-hearted person and a happy soul. His friendly personality allows him to embrace all that comes with life and people he encounters. He is well known within his community and people respect him and his local ties. This year he has also been selected as the Kaolin Festival Parade grand marshal. David’s parents, Robert Daniel Gordy Sr. and Eloise Dawson Gordy, instilled values in David that led him to be a hard worker throughout his life. Gordy recalls growing up on the farm and the hard work he learned there. “My father was a farmer and he knew a lot of people through the barber shop and he had a lot of friends,” Gordy says. “People thought a lot of him. We just came along and people loved us from him. He had a good name, the Gordy name, it stood out, people always tell me that. It made me want to do good — to have a good reputation, to have a good record. I tried to raise my children that same way.” Gordy graduated from Thomas J. Elder High School in 1970 and continued his education at Fort Valley State University. Gordy has a prolific heritage. The legacy of the barbershop is one that the family is most proud. Gordy’s Barber Shop has been around for more than 65 years. Not once has it changed locations and it has always been owned and operated by the Gordy family. At age 12, Gordy was in the barbershop learning from his father about the business. By 1982, he was a master licensed barber. Ever since then, he has been in the shop working hard to continue the tradition.

“I grew up in it and I just love coming here,” he says. “I make a living here and I just enjoy talking to the people and friends over the years. My day isn’t complete unless I come here.” Gordy has really gotten to know the community and the people in it through the longstanding business. “You get jokes all the time, they tell you jokes and they tell you everything,” he says. “They ask me certain things, and I try to give them a good, honest answer and it’s a community reflection. We serve people all over Washington County and some of the joining counties.” His strong work ethic and positive attitude have helped him get to where he is today. Humble and stoic, Gordy has gotten through life with an unwavering positive approach. “By doing the right thing and treating people nice — that’s how I got here, honest,” he says. “They say honest confession is good for the soul. I believe in that.” Just like with everything else in his life, Gordy accepted the role of parade grand marshal with humility and a sense excitement. “I was just shocked, I was surprised,” he says. “I was just shocked when they told me. I accept the honor and I am grateful for the honor.” He is a member of the Gordy Grove Church of God in Christ and is active within the congregation. He and his wife Darlene Gordy have six kids: Deborah, Davina, Denise, Joshua David, Dayna and Yolanda. He also has nine grandchildren. David Gordy and the founder of Motown, Berry Gordy Jr., are second cousins. This is another element of what makes him the perfect fit for the grand marshal of the Kaolin Rocks & Rolls themed festival. Gordy’s ties to music and his dedication to the county are a perfect fit to be the grand marshal of the festival.

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Not many things have survived the length of time since 1956. However, in a town full of tradition and southern excellence, a celebration that brings the community together remains. Sixty years ago, the first Kaolin Festival was held and ever since then, it has endured the test of time. This year’s festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 8 and is chock-full of events for all ages. Some of this year’s highlights includes: Sept. 30- Oct. 1: Tennille BBQ Blast: located on Park Street in Tennille. Friday, Sept. 30; 6 p.m.-11 p.m. there will be live music and food vendors. On Saturday, Oct. 1; 8 a.m.-5 p.m.there will be music, BBQ, inflatable slides,arts and crafts.

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SATURDAY, Oct. 1 Starts at 8 a.m. and consists of four different possible routes to take. All levels of bikers are encouraged to participate because there is a route for everyone. Each path goes through the scenic county and you will get to see both mining areas and countryside. For more information, visit

SUNDAY, Oct. 2 For more information call 478-552-5489.

WEDNESDAY Oct. 5 Health screenings and information. For more information, call: 478-240-2391.

THURSDAY, Oct. 4 Sponsored by The Washington County Pilot Club Anyone is welcome to participate — registration and warm-up is at 9 a.m. and the walk will start at 9:30 a.m. Walkers will meet with the Washington County Extended Care Facility and walk on the walking trail at the hospital. The first 50 participants that register will receive a T-shirt. After the walk, refreshments are served and door prizes are given away.

Opening reception: Thursday, Oct. 6 from 6-8 p.m. Gallery open on Friday, Oct. 7 from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.

The Guild of Washington County sells T-shirts to raise money to support the women and children of Washington County. With the money raised from past year’s Festival shirt sales, the Guild awarded multiple scholarships to high school seniors; significantly supported the Washington County Youth Leadership Program; and also contributed to the Boys and Girls Club, the Christian Life Center, First Love Kids, the Sunshine House, and Waco Care and Share. In addition, the club used shirt proceeds to provide Christmas gifts for children in Washington County’s foster care system and provide vital toiletries and over the counter medicines and medical equipment for underprivileged patients at Children’s Healthcare of Sandersville. This year’s t-shirt was created by local artist, Elaine Burge, who is well known in the community for her beautiful artwork. T-shirts will be available everyday for purchase at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce on the square, and on most Saturdays at the Sandersville Farmers Market. Classic Short Sleeve $15 (12M-3T, Youth XS-Youth L, Adult S - Adult 4XL) Classic Long Sleeve $15 (Adult S - Adult 2XL) **Limited Supply** Premium Comfort Colors Adult Short Sleeve (Adult S - Adult 2XL) $20

parade from Washington County High School to Sandersville School. Kicks off the festival at 9:30 a.m. The Sandersville Lion Club is the proud sponsor of the parade. sponsored by Imerys Kaolin. Tickets are free and there are scheduled tours throughout the day. You won’t want to miss a chance to see the beautiful kaolin mines that Washington County is known for. Tickets can be picked up at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce tent. Tours take place at 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. For more information, call 478-552-3288. Walk along the square in downtown Sandersville and you’ll find local arts and crafts and unique food vendors. Whether it’s a gift or something for yourself — the artisans really bring their best work and you’re sure to find something unique and handmade. The food vendors are there to keep you going all day with drinks and snacks. Whether it’s award-winning barbecue or something sweet — everyone is pleased. While walking around, enjoy the live music that goes on throughout the day. There will also be plenty of children’s activities to keep the little ones busy.

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Story and Photos by Taylor Hembree

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For 27 years, Katie Moncus has lived in Washington County; for generations, in fact, her family has resided in the county. After years of involvement in community events and organizations, Moncus has taken the seat as the Chamber of Commerce president.

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Moncus graduated from Washington County High School in 2007 where she met her now husband. She actively participated in clubs in order to establish herself as well-rounded and took every opportunity she could to set herself up for success beyond high school. After high school, she graduated from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville. While in college, she worked at the volunteer center and was in charge of the blood drives there for a number of years. As student volunteer, Moncus says she gained a lot of experience that made her grow as a person. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in community health, which, coupled with her experiences in college, ended up paving the path for her future. Upon graduation from Georgia College, she moved back to Sandersville and got married. She and husband Brad now have two kids as well. Building a small and young family, Sandersville has proven a perfect location for the small and young family. Moncus and her husband are both very active and present in the community; Moncus is involved in several organizations outside of her role as Chamber president.

“We have come back and have invested in our town,” Moncus says. “We look forward to being another resource here. Kind of giving back. I think that for a young couple — a young family — there is a lot to offer in this town.” With any small town, especially being so active in the community, one learns a lot about everyone in town. This knowledge of the history and residents has proven very beneficial to Moncus as she takes on her new role. “Like any small town, everybody knows everybody — good or bad,” Moncus says. “But, I think that that also proves to be a great support system. So, as you grow up you learn people, you learn the resources the town provides, and I think that really makes it special to be in a small town.” Fiercely passionate and proactive, Moncus has only been in this leadership role for a little while, but she feels that her life before this job prepared her for the position.

As a kid, Moncus says that she remembers how she used to like to be in charge and feels that she is a natural leader. She knew that in some capacity she wanted to be a resource and help teach others. This longing to help others at such a young age really shows when Moncus talks about her job. With her leadership abilities, when the Chamber president position became available, it was a door that opened and she couldn’t refuse. “This was an opportunity that I felt I would have regretted if I wouldn’t have jumped on it,” Moncus says. When she was chosen for the position, she says knew that it was a lot of work and that she would have to remain as active as she could in the community. She says that before she stepped foot into her position, she was unaware of all of the background work that went into community events, planning or organizations.

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While the task of being in charge may seem daunting to some, Moncus takes the opportunity for growth and to be able to make a small change in people’s lives. “In hindsight, I knew that I wanted to be able to be in a position that I could continue the growth of the county,” Moncus says. “In that sense, I knew that I wanted to be in a position that I could do things.” Doing things is just what Moncus sets out to do. She is very determined to do her job well and believes that with efficiency and time management she can handle anything. “I want to be efficient and I want to do things in the best way possible,” Moncus says. While being a resident of Washington County herself, Moncus makes it her goal to take part local events, which adds another positive light on her as a leader. She is present throughout town and tries to live life as an exemplary citizen.

Her aim is for local businesses and people know about the chamber and use it as a resource to its fullest extent. “We are another entity that is here and established to create a better life for the citizens here in this county — in whatever shape or form that may be,” Moncus says. Moncus maintains an open door policy so that she can always be in tune with what the business owners, community members and consumers want from the county. “I am passionate about getting things done,” Moncus says. “I like a checklist — I like to know that we’ve made progress.” After spending her whole life in here, she plans on continuing the tradition of raising productive Washington County citizens. “You can have a good life here, and I think that’s important,” Moncus says. “And honestly, I’ve never really had any thoughts of moving away.”

Story by Taylor Hembree

Battling childhood obesity, teen pregnancy and the dropout rate, Family Connection-Communities in Schools is a collaborative that helps support the community in the best way possible. While it may seem like a basic concept — making the community a better place — the collaborative extends above and beyond what its motto states. Whether it’s tutoring, mentoring or helping high school dropouts get jobs — Family Connection has made an impact on Washington County.

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Family Connection boasts that it is the largest collaborative in the state, with a presence in every county in Georgia. Communities in Schools is the largest dropout prevention agency in the state. When one combines the resources of both organizations, it’s a game changer for the community. “Initially, Family Connection was established to help the community to foster relationships and partner so that we could blend resources to work not only in the school system, but also in the community in order to better our children in the community — academically, socially, economically,” says Roy Jackson, coordinator of Family ConnectionCommunities in Schools. “When we took on the CIS identifier back in 2006, we began to work a little bit more on dropout prevention.” Jackson says that one of the main goals for the organiza-

tion is to foster role models and one-on-one relationships between young people in the community and adults throughout the town. “Kids need role models in the community,” Jackson says. “Role models could be business people, it could be people working at this courthouse, it could be people working across the street — kids need to see that so that they can see somebody actually doing the dreams that they have, the hopes that they have in their minds.” Another goal for the group is to keep kids in school and help them become better students. “The hope was that we would increase their grades,” Jackson says. “And that they would graduate or move to the next level and then decrease the frequency of them being in ISS, out-of-school suspension, missing days out of school — those kind of things.”

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Education plays a tremendous role on the organization’s goals and efforts. “We say that we are partners with education and so we are not a standalone organization,” Jackson says. The work that we do, we could only do it with the help of number one, the school system itself, and then our partners in the community.” The collaborative strives to create an environment in which young people can thrive. Another component of the collaborative’s outreach is its involvement with childhood obesity prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled within the past 30 years. Capitalizing on the national movement to prevent this epidemic, Family Connection-CIS took it on as its biggest initiative, focusing on the issue at its roots — teaching parents how to prepare healthy food and promote activity at very young ages. While Family Connection-CIS takes the issue all the way back to the Head Start level, it also works in another distinct capacity at the high school level.

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The collaborative works in dropout prevention by meeting students where they are in hopes of helping them get where they should be. Family Connection-CIS takes part in a Work Investment Act (WIA). With the WIA, mentors and tutors help high school dropouts obtain their GED. Along with getting their education finalized, the program puts students on job sites, helps them with job searches and gives them preparation for the job hunt and eventual hiring. The hope is that employers see that these students are valuable and keep them on as assets to their companies. One of the newest projects Family Connection-CIS has taken on is helping to prevent teen pregnancy. Jackson says that it is both a faith- and community-based effort through the local Boys & Girls Club and a local church. “We’re doing that because we want to decrease our dropout rate,” Jackson says. “We feel like teen pregnancy is one of the things that increases our dropout rate and we want to give young people tools that they can use everyday so that they can see a goal in mind rather than getting involved in risky behavior.”

While Jackson and his team do a lot for the community, he gives credit to their partners. “The most important part is community partnership,” Jackson says. “We really couldn’t exist without community partners and the things that they bring to the table. We bring something to the table as well. A lot of people in the community, they want to do some things but they don’t know what to do and they don’t know how to do it. So our job is to come up with an idea or come up with a strategy or a goal and then implement that goal along with our community partners.” Community partners, role models and the school system have all helped to make Family Connection-CIS what

it is today. The leaders that are a part of the organization strive to be their best and take on every day as a new challenge to go the distance to make a change in the lives of others. “My favorite part is interacting and engaging and empowering young people,” Jackson says. “I think that young people need to see that they can actually achieve and accomplish some things. Folks involved in our organization are from teachers, to cafeteria workers, to the president of the bank, to the director of Head Start — they need to see people in action doing things in the community. I think that kind of gives them a broader perspective of what they can achieve in life.”

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Where We WOrship Harrison Springs Baptist Church 127 Mills St. Harrison, GA 31035 (478) 552-8967 Bay Springs Baptist Church 319 Bay Springs Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-3545 Bold Spring Baptist Church 3177 Poole Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-0464 Camp Spring Baptist Church 9919 Old Savannah Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-8511 Church Of Christ 101 E 2nd Ave. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-0356 Church Of The Nazarene 619 S Harris St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5300 Deepstep United Methodist Church 9744 Deepstep Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-6825 Deliverance Center Of Jesus Christ 401 Hall St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-1030 Faith Temple Holiness Church 334 Railroad Ave. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-8965

First Presbyterian Church Of Sandersville 521 N Harris St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-1842 First Southern Methodist Church 5998 Ga. Highway 24 West Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5442 Gardner Church of God & Christ 450 Grand St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 553-0331 Gideons International 118 S Smith St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5075 Gordy Grove Church of God In Christ 10466 Ga. Highway 272 Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 240-0092 Grace Episcopal Church 114 E 2nd Ave. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5295 Green Grove Baptist Church 5030 Highway 242 Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-0260 Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall of Sandersville 1567 Ridge Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-6789

First Baptist Church 316 Mathis Lane Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-2371

Kendall Heights Church Of God 829 Jordan Mill Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5483

First Christian Church of Sandersville 166 E Church St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-3495

Mount Zion A.M.E. Church 379 Suburban Drive Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 348-6514

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New Baptist Church 941 Yank Brown Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 553-0515 Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church 45 Oak Grove Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-0330 Pine Hill Baptist Church P.O. Box 6014 Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 348-5223 Poplar Springs Baptist Church 14139 Ga. Highway 24 West Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-7450 Poplar Springs Christian Church 13580 Ga. Highway 24 West Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-4747 Ridgeland Heights Baptist Church 305 Ridgeland Drive Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-3171 Robin Springs Baptist Church 3178 Deepstep Road Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5612 Saint Galilee Holy Felowship Church 613 Temple Drive Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-8280 Sandersville United Methodist Church 202 W Church St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-3374 Second Community Baptist Church 511 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-7738

Second Washington Baptist Association 402 Evans St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-1313 Sisters Baptist Church 1807 E McCarty St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-2473 Springfield Baptist Church 415 W Church St. Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-5317 Saint Galilee Baptist Church 316 Augusta Ally Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 553-9220 Saint Williams Catholic Church Sandersville, GA 31082 (478) 552-3352 Bethany Baptist Church 1132 Hartsford Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-7563 Bethesda Christian Church 2740 Buckeye Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-4166 Bethesda Christian Church 720 Hurst Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-0063 Burnett Grove A.M.E. Church 157 Hurst Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 553-0510

Georgia Grove Baptist Church 4574 Old Savannah Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-1605

Swint Spring Baptist Church 6623 Tennille Oconee Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 553-9811

Good Shepherd Church of the Nazarene 316 E South Central Ave Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-2424

Tennille Baptist Church SBC 203 N Main St Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-7350

Hubbard Chapel Church 22 Old Watermelon Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 864-2015 Mount Gilead Primitive Baptist Church 154 Mount Gilead Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-1013 Mount Moriah Baptist Church 1183 Mount Moriah Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-1942 Piney Mount United Methodist Church 3065 Old Savannah Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-5394 Samuel Grove Baptist Church 11651 Ga. Highway 68 South Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 553-9955 Smith Grove Baptist Church 3659 Tennille Harrison Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 553-1990

Faith Apostolic 140 Knight Lane Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-8911

Saint James Christian Fellowship Church 210 Chaloux Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-3451

Genesis New Life Apostolic Faith Church 4573 Grady Mertz Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 553-9555

Saint John Church of God And Christ 320 E. 3rd Ave. Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 240-9713

Tennille Christian Church 402 N Main St Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-5557 Tennille Grove Baptist Church Greta St Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-0083 Tennille United Methodist Church 297 W Adams St Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-7883 Union Hill Baptist Church 2389 Deepcut Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-9578 Victory Central Church 320 N Main St Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 553-0891 Zion Hope Baptist Church 4507 Watermelon Road Tennille, GA 31089 (478) 552-5838

St. William Catholic Church Holy Mass: Sundays at 7:30 a.m. & Wednesday at 6 p.m. Located at 301 S. Smith St., Sandersville Email to add your church listing Sandersville Scene.


Story and Photos by Taylor Hembree

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The headline ‘GIRL BURNED MAY BE FATAL,’ ran in the Augusta Chronicle on Feb. 17, 1901. The startling article grabbed the attention of many because not only was there a life at stake, the burns resulted from a fire inside the sheriff ’s home in Sandersville. The sheriff ’s home also served as the Washington County jail at the time, and the old jail has a rich history full of interesting stories and people. It was built in 1891 and served as the county jail until 1975. It jail was constructed by Pauly Jail Building Company of St. Louis; the company constructed many jails like it — ones that served as both the jail and the sheriff ’s home. Throughout the years, seven sheriffs lived there — W.M. English, George Doolittle, Tobe Moye, Ben A. English, A. W. Smith, J.B. Garrett and J. Euree Curry. It was clearly a different time, with the sheriff and his family living just walls away from the prisoners. Now, that would be unheard of. But, during the time period, prisoners often stayed in jail longer because bail was so unobtainable. Even though many claim that the jail had a more informal feel, historically there are stories surrounding the jail that make some believe that this was not the case. Tales of escapes, hangings and even one account of cooking a prisoner are sometimes associated, adding another element of history to the jail. A colorful history is evident when looking through old newspaper clippings and anecdotes about the jail.

During the 1800s and 1900s, hanging was the method of execution for prisoners who were given the death penalty. From 1901 to 1925, 196 executions took place in Georgia. Four of those executions took place in Washington County, according to The hangings took place outside in the gallows house at the jail. Newspaper articles tell about the hanging of Robert Kitchens, a fugitive executed for the murder of W. H. Brantley. Kitchens was executed in the summer of 1916. Whenever hangings took place, the sheriff was sure to send his family out of town so they would not have to witness the horrible scene. Hangings were not the only stories that were published in papers regarding the happenings at the jail. Escapes were documented as well. One of the more notable escapes took place in November 1915. Thirteen prisoners attempted escape by making saws out of the steel cage and removing enough bricks to try and fit a man through the space. As soon as the hole was big enough, the sheriff caught the prisoners. What is now known about the jail comes from old accounts on record and the still standing building that now serves as a museum. When looking at the jail on the square, one may not realize the rich and harrowing history.

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Now that the old jail is a museum, people come from all over to learn about the unique jailhouse. The building is two stories. The two stories served as separations for gender and race on the jail side and on the sheriff ’s home, served as a way to house more family and provide more space. The jail that used to house Washington County prisoners is maintained as it was when fugitives and ne’er-do-wells lived within the cells. What remains is littered graffiti that is somehow scratched into the metal walls, dates written on the walls associated with prisoners’ sentences, and of course, the steel bars that kept the prisoners in the cells. “The building itself preserves something unique,” Shaun Veal, president of local the historical society says. “On one side of the wall, there were criminals, on the other was the sheriff and his family.” Victorian architecture is evident

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throughout the home with touches on the windows, staircase, doors and more. Upon entering the Old Jail Museum, one is immediately taken aback with the artifacts and historical items that are all around the rooms. Locally produced artifacts line the parlor. Regardless of where one steps in the museum, there is history everywhere. The genealogy center is one of the most popular and well-known parts of the museum. Original records that trace families, homes, doctor’s visits and even transactions line the walls of the center. Needless to say, the Old Jail House Museum and the genealogy center are two huge attractions in Washington County. “Washington County is so full of history, and we are really working hard to preserve our history,” Kayla Jackson, volunteer at the Old Jail Museum says. “The building make the town and our square, and we just really try hard to preserve those things.”

The Sheriff’s desk still rests in the Old Jail. The desk door has election information from 1876.

Essie’s room upstairs in the Old Jail House.

Perhaps one of the most famous families that came through the old jail was the English family. Mr. W.M. English was elected sheriff in 1895 and served for eight years. During his time as sheriff his family lived in the adjoining house, and he worked just across the walls at the jail. The English family is quite pivotal to the history of the jail. W.M. English had 10 children, one of which, Ben English, also went on to serve as the sheriff of Washington County. But arguably the most well-known English is Essie. While she only lived for a short while, her life after her death has served as a very prominent story for both the county and the jail. Essie was born on Aug. 3, 1886. At the age of 16, Essie became engaged to a Mr. Potter. Apparently, Potter was not very liked around town because W.M. English was reported in historical accounts as saying that he would rather see Essie dead than married to Potter. English obviously had no idea what kind of foreshadowing his off-handed remarks made for the story of his daughter. Feb. 16, 1901, in typical Georgia fashion, was a pretty cold day. Historical references indicate that across the state it was an average of 62 degrees. Fireplaces were the main way to keep houses warm during this time. Most homes would have several fireplaces throughout in order keep the entire house heated. The sheriff ’s home was no different. Essie lived on the second floor of the house. Her room had a fireplace in the very center of the wall. Feb. 16, 1901 was a typical day for the teenager. She woke up and got dressed in order to start her day. Her aunt Fronie was in the same bedroom that morning, unknowingly waiting for tragedy to happen. While dressing, Essie’s nightgown caught on fire. Immediatley, she began running down the winding staircase that led to the second floor while screaming for help. Fronie panicked and went into a different room upstairs. Finally, the sheriff and her brother helped Essie get her nightgown off and extinguished the flames. The next day, the local newspaper reported the accident, but that Essie’s injuries were not life threatening. On Feb. 25, 1901, just two weeks after sustaining the burns, Essie English died. The Atlanta Constitution published a death announcement on the 26th:

The fireplace where Essie’s clothes caught on fire.

Essie’s blood engrained in the hardwood floors of the staircase.

“Miss Essie English, Sandersville, Ga. Miss Essie, daughter of Sheriff and Mrs. W.M. English, of this place, died here last night at 8 o’clock as a result of serious burned received on the 9th instant.” “She’s a spirit here, we know that,” Loretta Cato, chairman of the local geneology committee says. Even though Essie died 115 years ago, her spirit still lives in the old jail. “Things happen,” Cato says. Cato recalls the victrola turning although no one has used it or pressed start in ages. She and several other volunteers have witnessed the front door open after being closed tightly shut. There have been several times when footsteps have been heard upstairs when only a couple of volunteers are working. Whether one believes in ghosts or not, Essie still has a presence in her old home. Volunteers recall seeing Essie’s light on in her room after the museum had been closed, doors that were latched with not only locks, but wire, were being unlatched and open, and books and vases falling to the ground out of the blue. People at the museum credit all of the random events to Essie’s ghost. There is even a physical remain of Essie left in the building. When the building was renovated, professional cleaners came to clean the staircase and it was restored. When they were cleaning, there was one spot that the blood would not come off. It’s engrained deep within the wood and reminds visitors of the sad day that Essie died. Jackson remembers one night that the light in the jail kept flickering. “The firemen had seen the light in the jail going on and off so they finally called Ms. Loretta,” Jackson says. “So, I came up here and met a policeman and a fireman and we went back there and there was no one here or anything. We started up the stairs and right when we got to the top of the landing, the electric candle that was in the window just fell out.” The candle just happened to be where remnants of Essie’s blood are located. To get answers for the strange occurrences, museum volunteers sought outside resources. Lost Souls Paranormal is the group that was requested to come gather some answers.

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According to its website, Lost Souls Paranormal’s mission is to “investigate and substantiate claims of the paranormal.” For the volunteers at the museum, weird events started happening as soon as the paranormal investigators came to town. “Every time the paranormal people come, we always turn the alarm system off when we come in the building,” Cato says. “While they are here — it starts up.. ‘You have 60 seconds to get out, you have 30 seconds to get out…’ and to stop it, they have to go upstairs to the fuse box to turn it off.” Another story surrounding the alarm system is even more obscure. “The first time they [Lost Souls Paranormal] came, it [the alarm] said, ‘you have 13 minutes to disarm,’” Jackson says. “So, I called the security people and they said ‘our alarms only say seconds.’ But it kept saying minutes.” In order to get the alarm to stop, volunteers had to unscrew all of the wiring associated with the alarm system. “I couldn’t describe it as any other way but eerie, Sara Andrews, who was at the museum when the investigators came, says. “When we walked in Essie’s room, it was like I didn’t see anything move, I didn’t feel anything but it was just like a premonition that something was about to happen.”

While the investigators were at the museum, the volunteers got to witness all of the paranormal activity for themselves. “They [Lost Souls Paranormal] placed flashlights upstairs on the rug in Essie’s room and they asked her ‘Essie, are you happy here? Can you let the ladies know that you’re happy?’ Right when they said that, the flashlight came on bright,” Jackson says. “They said ‘OK Essie, we have some more questions to ask you, you can turn the light off.’ And when they did, the light immediately went off. They asked Essie ‘Is Mr. Potter with you?’ and the second flashlight came on really dim and they told her to turn the flashlight off and it went off. There were different questions that we asked and depending on her answer, they would come on in different brightness.” On the Lost Souls Paranormal website, interested users can listen to EVPS (electronic voice phenomenon) from the Old Jail Museum. On the two tracks, visitors can clearly hear a voice saying ‘Hi’ and on the other track a shrill scream. Clearly, Essie still roams free through the halls of the museum. While eerie and sometimes scary, the volunteers are not afraid of Essie and her ghost. “She doesn’t bother us,” Cato says. “She’s not harmful.”

Essie and her class of schoolgirls. It is believed that Essie is number 12.

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Local artist, Bryant Jordan, drew this portrait of how he thinks Essie probably looked.

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Arts & Entertainment CALENDAR

Arts & Entertainment OCTOBER October 4 Kaolin Festival Century Ride. Brentwood School. 725 Linton Road Sandersville. Walk in registration available the day of the ride from 7 to 8 a.m. Registration: $35 (before Sept. 19), $45 (after Sept. 19). Fee includes T-shirt, grilled chicken and fixings, rest stops, first aid, and SAG vehicles available. Showers will be available. Helmets are required. Contact Tony Lewis:, 478-232-9511 or Amber Veal, 478-552-3288 for more information. October 11 Annual Kaolin Festival. Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. October 18 Our Choices Matter benefit event for the Joey Giddens Youth Mission. Featuring 3 Strands, Mike Rogers and Jaden Maxwell. 7 p.m. WCHS theater. October 25-November 15 150th anniversary commemoration of Sherman’s March to the Sea. Visit, or call 478-552-3288 for details.

October 25 Bus Tour of Sherman’s March through Washington County. 9 a.m. Brown House Museum. $50. Lunch included.

NOVEMBER November 1 Lantern Tour of Old City CemeteryConfederate Soldiers. 7 p.m.

Events at Brown House Museum. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Blue/Gray Ball at Forest Grove Plantation. $10 per person. Children welcome, under 6 admitted free. Featuring period costumes, Sunday to formal attire. 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. November 9 Reenactment at Forest Grove Plantation. 2 p.m. $5, children under 6 admitted free. Gates open at 10 a.m.

November 3 Grand opening of Civil War exhibit by local artists. Brown House Museum. 4 to 7 p.m. Free admission.

November 11 Brown House Museum art exhibit. 2 to 5 p.m.

November 4 Brown House Museum art exhibit. 2 to 5 p.m.

November 13 Brown House Museum art exhibit. 2 to 5 p.m.

November 6 Brown House Museum art exhibit. 2 to 5 p.m.

November 14 Brown House Museum art exhibit. 2 to 5 p.m.

November 7 Tours of Brown House by school groups. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brown House Museum art exhibit. 2 to 5 p.m.

November 15 Brown House Museum art exhibit. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

November 8 97th Regimental String Band performs on courthouse square. 9:15 a.m. Skirmish on courthouse square. 10 a.m. Narrations/vignettes. 10:30 a.m.

Ongoing Sandersville Farmer’s Market. Downtown Sandersville on the square. Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Attractions Old City Cemetery

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First documented burial in 1831. Located on the corner of West Church Street and Virginia Avenue in Sandersville, the site is on the National Register of Historic Places for its significant Civil War history. Features federal era, Greek Revival and Victorian grave markings. Historical figures buried at the site include former Ga. Lt. Gov. Thomas W. Hardwick, world-renowned surgeon William Rawlings, Central of Georgia Railroad president Benjamin James Tarbutton, the Rev. J.D. Anthony and Coleman R. Pringle, known as the Father of Prohibition in Georgia. For more information, visit or call (478) 552-6965. Hamburg State Park With modern-day facilities amidst reminders of days gone by, Hamburg State Park offers a mix of history and outdoor recreation. Anglers can enjoy lake fishing for largemouth bass, crappie and bream, as well as boat ramps and a fishing pier. Campers will find shaded campsites along the edge of quiet Hamburg Lake fed by the Little Ogeechee River. Old Warthen Jail Visit Georgia’s Oldest Jail on state Route 15 North in Warthen. For more information, call (478) 552-3288. Charles E. Choate Exhibit A look at the life and work of the

architect and builder and the official Georgia Historical Plates Display. Washington County Chamber of Commerce, 131 W. Haynes St., Sandersville. For more information call (478) 552-3288. Brown House Museum A private residence during the Civil

War where Gen. Sherman spent the night of Nov. 26, 1864, 268 N. Harris Street in Sandersville. For more information, call (478) 552-3288. Revolutionary War Park Visit the Revolutionary War Park on state Route 15 South of Tennille. For more information, call (478) 552-3288.


Dairy Queen opened in Washington County on July 27. They had a ribbon cutting celebration. Some Chamber of Commerce members were present to congratulate the employees. The mayor of Sandersville, James Andrews, cut the ribbon to officially open the new Dairy Queen.

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A new business, Southern Touch, also opened on July 27. The store sells clothing and accessories for men, women and children. A celebratory ribbon cutting event was held at their grand opening.

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Washington County schools held open house in early August to prepare for the upcoming school year. Kids and parents got to mingle and meet their teachers. Teachers had their doors decorated and smiles on their faces to welcome the new students.

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Advertiser Index American Railcar Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Citizens Bank of Washington County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Fox’s Pizza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Georgia D. Warthen Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Georgia Dermatology Skin Cancer Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 May and Smith Funeral Directors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 MC Smith Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Moye’s Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Northlake Tire & Service Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Oconee Fall Line Technical College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Precision Body Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Queensborough National Bank & Trust Company . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Sleepy’s Package Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Southern Touch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 The Woman’s Care Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 The Transylvania Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 The City of Sandersville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Tyler Cullens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Washington County Board of Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Washington County Chamber of Commerce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Washington County Health Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

Please be sure to thank the advertisers for supporting this publication! Sandersville Scene.


Sandersville Scene Sept/Oct 2016