Winter 2010 - The DeKalb History Center

Winter 2010 - The DeKalb History Center

Winter 2010 Volume 4, Issue 1 DeKalb History Center The Historic Mt. Zion Community The Mt. Zion Community, which was settled in the 1800s, is a sma...

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Winter 2010 Volume 4, Issue 1

DeKalb History Center

The Historic Mt. Zion Community The Mt. Zion Community, which was settled in the 1800s, is a small African-American enclave, located on the northeast side of LaVista Road. A strong concept of community emerged as residents fought to survive in the years following emancipation. The Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, established in 1870, has always been a remarkable agent of cohesion in the area.

In the community’s formative years, charismatic and important figures came from the Nelms family, including William Nelms, who owned a sizable farm in Land Lot 148. Edgar Rowe, who also owned a substantial amount of land in the area in the 1800s, was another influential leader.

Times of DeKalb

Wallace Nelms, one of ten children, was taught how to farm as a youth in the 1930s. In these early years, the land was full of chickens, livestock, geese and crops. In the milieu in which Nelms grew up, nearly everyone in the area, be they black or white, strived to maintain a successful family farm. During his youth, Wallace and his family worked their farm. “All of us worked these fields. Where you see pine trees used to be cultivated land and we took our land as a means of making a way for us to feed ourselves and feed our animals.” The Nelms family raised what they ate and also sold their fruit, vegetables and eggs to families in Druid Hills. For many members of the community, church has been a very important part of everyday life. Two historic churches serve as anchors in this area. Mt. Zion AME, the oldest AME Church in DeKalb County, was originally established as Rocky Knoll AME. It was located on Lawrenceville Highway and later moved to its current location at 2977 LaVista Road. Because of Continued on page 4 Menona , Wallace and William Nelms in the late 1940s.

Inside this issue

MLK’s Arrests in DeKalb in 1960 In this issue we highlight a very significant and unique item housed in our Archives: the 1959 – 1961 DeKalb County Sheriff’s Docket. This docket includes logs of two separate DeKalb County arrests of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The first arrest was recorded on May 4, 1960. While driving Lillian Smith to Emory University following a visit at his home, King was pulled over by DeKalb County police and arrested. Ms. Smith was a well-known white civil rights activist and author. King was charged because he had an out-of-date Alabama tag on his car and also for driving without a Georgia driver’s license. He was able to prove to the court that he had applied for a Georgia tag, and that charge was dropped. However, DeKalb County Solicitor Jack Smith fined King $25 and Continued on page 2

• Black History Month, page 3

• Upcoming Events, page 4

• End of Year Donations, page 4

• Membership Report, page 5

Times of DeKalb Page 2

MLK’s Arrests in DeKalb (Cont.) Executive Committee President: Stuart M. Zola, Ph.D. Treasurer:Melvin Bettis President Elect:Robert W. Espy, IV Past President: Scotty Candler Secretary: Jack Regan Board of Directors Cherie Bennett Carl Black George D. N. Coletti, DMD Sheldon Fleming Jane Grabowski Lynn Cherry Grant Darold Honore Mary K. Jarboe Kathryn Johnson John Keys Albert Martin Kerri Morrin Bobbie Kennedy Sanford Paula S. Swartzberg Helen Talley-McRae Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr. Trustees Robert L. Brown, Jr. Liane Levetan Lyn Menne Judy B. Turner Fred C. Turner Betty E. Willis Staff Executive Director: Melissa Forgey Heritage Education & Rental Coordinator: Leslie Borger Archivist: Ben Zdencanovic Building Manager: Larry Serra Administrative Assistant & Intern: Rebecca Crawford

Continued from page 1

issued him a twelve month suspended sentence for driving without a Georgia license, despite the fact that he held a valid Alabama license. King later wrote in his posthumously published autobiography that “they had never fined or arrested anybody on a charge like that… so it was obviously a case of persecution.” He paid the fine and considered the matter closed, until an incident five months later. On October 19, 1960, King joined 75 African-American youths in a mass sit-in at segregated lunch counters at Rich’s and seven other Atlanta department stores. King was arrested along with over a dozen other protesters on misdemeanor trespassing charges and placed in isolation in the Fulton County Jail. All of those arrested refused to post $500 bond, and King said in a prepared statement that he would stay in jail for a year or ten years, whatever it took, to “bring the whole issue under the scrutiny of the consciousness of Atlanta.” The corporate offices of Rich’s did not want to “make martyrs” of the protesters and declined to press trespassing charges. Solicitor Jack Smith, however, was determined to put King behind bars in DeKalb and charged him with violation of probation stemming from the May 4 traffic offense. Despite a plea on his behalf by Sen. John F. Kennedy, King was transferred to the DeKalb County jail on October 25. Following a delay caused by a bomb threat, he was tried by Judge Oscar Mitchell in the Civil and Criminal Court on East Trinity Place in Decatur. King’s defense team offered an impassioned defense at the hearing, arguing that since no charge was filed for the sitin, King could not be charged with violation of probation. Unmoved, Mitchell sentenced King to four months in the custody of a state correctional facility. At 4:00 a.m. on October 26, King was transferred to the prison in Reidsville, Georgia. Although Robert F. Kennedy was able to secure King’s release from Reidsville after eight days, the persecution he experienced at the hands of Atlanta area officials strengthened King’s resolve in the civil rights movement and spurred him toward his accomplishments of the 1960s. He to wrote his wife Coretta from Reidsville that “I have faith to believe that this excessive suffering that is now coming to our family will in some little way serve to make Atlanta a better city, Georgia a better state, and America a better country.” 

Volume 4, Issue 1 Page 3

DeKalb History Center’s Third Annual

Black History Month Celebration “A Salute to Law and Justice Leaders” Join us as we recognize outstanding African-American Law & Justice leaders who have made a positive impact on DeKalb County.

Sponsorships Available Presenter—$2,500


Includes 8 tickets with reserved seating


Judge Gregory A. Adams

Includes 6 tickets with reserved seating

Sheriff Thomas E. Brown


Judge Barbara J. Mobley


Includes 4 tickets Includes 2 tickets

Judge Desiree Sutton Peagler Thursday, February 25th, 11:30 a.m. ● The Old Courthouse on the Square Including a Seated Luncheon A special presentation will be made to honor Rev. Thomas N. Bristow Sr., a Documented Original Tuskegee Airman Music from the James C. Ward Classical Arts Chorale

VIP—$100 Includes 2 tickets

Please call for availability and benefits. Seating is limited and tickets are required. Individual tickets are $30 for members or $35 for non-members.

Sponsors: A. S. Turner & Sons, Inc. Guardians: Char & Stuart Zola

Times of DeKalb Page 4

End of Year Contributions Judge Gregory A. Adams

Historic Mt. Zion Community (Cont.) Continued from page 1

Mt. Zion's desirable location, the area continues to face threats from overdevelopment.

Elizabeth & Frank Allan Margot & Bill Allison Patsy Belcher Naomi Bell Mr. & Mrs. Candler Broom Brad & Kay Bryant Jeanette Cukor Walt Drake Lois Durling Emory University/Betty Willis Anne H. Estes Linda Fountain Mark & Kathie Gannon Jack & Barbara Gerlach Mr. & Mrs. Robert Gerwig Mr. & Mrs. Norman Harbaugh

St. Paul Baptist Church was established over 111 years ago on Wilson Road. In the 1940s, St. Paul became the target of vandals and in 1948 the congregation moved to Nelms Drive. The new building was a labor of love for the church members, as they worked to build the structure with their hands. While construction was underway, services could only be held twice a month and Mt. Zion A.M.E. assisted their new neighbors by allowing them to meet at their church every other Sunday. Throughout the years, these churches have served social and political functions: providing places where many in the neighborhood learned how to read, attended school and practiced public speaking. The community changed dramatically during the 20th century, as family property was sold and suburban development exploded across the farmland. Through the 1940s and 1950s, much of the African-American population in the area moved away in hopes of making a better living elsewhere; another wave of residents left in the 1980s and 1990s. As one group was leaving, another was arriving, and the consequent rapid development brought permanent changes to the close-knit community. Yet, as condos and cul-de-sacs sprouted up and became permanent characteristics of the area, the founding families continued to make every effort to keep their land out of the hands of developers, in order to retain their cultural heritage. The success of their efforts has been bolstered by the fact that many descendants of the original inhabitants still live in the neighborhoods they grew up in, and some have retained sizable tracts of land along LaVista Road and Richard Stokes Drive. The congregations of Mt. Zion and St. Paul have supported members of the community and helped to preserve its identity.

Terry Hardgrave Mr. & Mrs. John C. Hemby, Jr. Congressman Henry "Hank" Johnson John & Marceil Joyner John Keys Mr. L. L. Kitchens, Jr. Jim Lambing Miriam Mathura Dr. & Mrs. Frank Matthews Peggy Merris Vee Nelson Sara & Tom Parsons Geraldine Patrick J. C. Platt Don Rawlins Mr. & Mrs. Bedros Sharian Perry L. & Dorothy S. Stephens Stone Mountain Historical Society JoAnne & Wytch Stubbs Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr. Jim & Anne Topple Yerkes Primate Research Center Char & Stuart Zola Special contributions for the Archives: Joyce Cohrs Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr.

Although there are a few historic structures remaining in the area, most have not survived. Wallace explains that, “Back then, people were just one generation out of slavery. They couldn't build houses with any permanence. They had to take what little pieces of wood they could... and the elements just destroyed it. And so, as soon as somebody else came along, they wanted to tear that old place down and build something better for their children.” This project would not have been possible without support from Commissioner Jeff Rader for providing funding for our research intern, Rebecca Crawford. Community members who participated during this phase of the project included Mattie L. Finley, Polly Nelms, Wallace and Menona Nelms, Acey Rowe, Albert Rowe, Marion Rowe and Napoleon Stokes. The DeKalb History Center will host a temporary exhibit about the Mt. Zion Community developed through our research and by the efforts of students from Arbor Montessori: Bernadette Bridges, Madeline Burke, Davis Cavanagh, Sammi Doneff, Rebecca Entrekin, Savannah Entrekin, Cameron Futral, Chase Gooding, Nisu Herrera, Kira Hynes, Paul Jackson, Alex Moore, Beatriz Mora, Will Pfleger, David Robinson, Alison Setili, Isabella Stork and Matthew Tennant. Their teacher for this project was Annie Frazer. The project builds on prior work done by other Arbor Montessori students and the DeKalb History Center. This Temporary Exhibit will open on the first floor of the historic Courthouse on March 2, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. Please join us for the opening and check our website for additional information. 

Upcoming Events Join us for our Annual Meeting and Silent Auction on Friday, March 19, from 6:00—8:30 p.m. at the Old Courthouse on the Square. Enjoy an evening of wine, beer, hors d'oeuvres and music while bidding on fantastic items donated by generous local businesses. Check our website soon for additional information. Lunch & Learn, The Ranch House in DeKalb County, on Wednesday, March 24, at Noon. Learn about the Ranch House in Georgia from Richard Clouse and in DeKalb County from Melissa Forgey. Free—bring your lunch! 

Volume 4, Issue 1 Page 5

Membership Report Baron DeKalb $1,000 + City of Decatur DeKalb Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Georgia Power + Harry Stillwell Mr. & Mrs. Fred Turner Corporate $500 - $999 Decatur Downtown Development Authority Decatur First Bank + Macy’s Foundation + John & Cathy Mullins + Pythagoras Masonic Temple * Yerkes National Primate Research Center Stuart & Char Zola Mary Gay $250 - $499 Bank of North Georgia + Mr. Robert L. Brown, Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Scott Candler, III City of Avondale Estates Martha Clinkscales/Personal Care, Inc. + Dr. & Mrs. George Coletti DeKalb Chamber of Commerce Merry Noel & James Noe Judge Johnny Panos Pattillo Management, Inc. New South Associates/Mary Beth Reed Betty E. Willis/Emory University Sustaining & Business $125 - $249 Elizabeth & Frank Allan Mr. & Mrs. Wiley S. Ansley Patricia Belcher + Inez G. Boothe Joyce Cohrs Mr. & Mrs. Philip Cordes Cornerstone Bank + Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Crane Mr. & Mrs. Paul Cushing John Walter Drake Emory Conference Center Hotel/Kathryn Johnson Anne Estes * Pete Garcia Company Mr. & Mrs. Robert Gerwig + Mr. & Mrs. Norman Harbaugh

+ Jim & Mary K. Jarboe + John R. Keys Jim Lambing Claudia G. Lawson + Lenz/Alice Murray & Richard Lenz Thomas & Patricia Lowndes (Coca-Cola Matching Gifts Program) * Linda Martin/Goodwin Properties Dr. & Mrs. Frank Matthews Peggy Merriss + David & Melinda Mobley James C. Platt, Jr. Neal & Joan Pope Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Ramsey Louise H. Reaves Steve & Ann Rushing Dr. & Mrs. George Sessions Mr. & Mrs. Bedros Sharian Ruth Shaw + Tom & Lucia Sizemore Mrs. Arline T. Slack A. Thomas Stubbs Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr. Roy & Judy Turner Patron - $75 - $124 Shepard B. Ansley Betty & Frank Asbury Mr. & Mrs. Merriell Autrey Jr. Jerry & Kim Brown Mrs. Scott Candler, Jr. + Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Cavaliere Louise & David Coffin Dr. & Mrs. R. A. Craddick Jane Grier Durden + Mr. & Mrs. Robert W. Epsy, IV Mr. Hopie Eubanks + Lynn Cherry Grant Bill & Gue Hudson Mrs. Eloyse D. Hyatt Congressman Henry “Hank” Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Hazel Long Mrs. Dean G. McKee Gordon & Carole Midgette Mrs. John A. Pasco Jack Regan & Ginger Krawiec Dr. & Mrs. Richard H. Sams

* David Schutten Alida & Stuart Silverman * Betty & Robert Slater Connie & Jimmy Smith, III Mr. & Mrs. Robert Smith Mr. Perry Stephens Beth & B. J. Sumner Paula S. Swartzberg Dr. Robert Sway & Mrs. Harriette Fulton Cathy & Steve Vogel (Thrivent Gift Multiplier Program) Dr. & Mrs. Eugene P. Walker Robert & Lynda Wilson Household - $50 - $74 + Judge Gregory A. Adams * Marianne & Tom Adams Ginger & Bob Allison Margot & Bill Allison Mr. & Mrs. E. M. Banks Penny, Dale & Brad Bartlett Fred & Jane Boykin Mr. & Mrs. Candler Broom Robert T. “Bobby” Burgess Family + Mark Burnette Judge & Mrs. Robert Castellani Nancy & Jeff Darter * Jas & Kathleen Doig Robert Doll/McBath Household Victor & Lynn Donham Lois G. Durling Jan & Bob Espy * Clayton & Kitty Farnham Mark & Kathie Gannon Gayle Gellerstedt & Bill Funk * August & Barbara Giebeilaus Sally Goss Justin Hayes + Elizabeth Jackson Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Jordon Mr. & Mrs. Ernest D. Key, Jr. Mr. & Mrs. William A. Kugel Robert & Nancy Leitch Mary & Dick Leslie + Lynne & Jerry Lock Lynn & Russ Mathis Mrs. W. C. McCullers

Times of DeKalb Page 6

Membership J. Scott & Barbara McDonald + Pat Miller Don & Jeannine Morrison Amy & Ken Murphy Sara P. & Tom Parsons Angela & Sherrod Patterson * Pete & Charlotte Pfeiffer James & Sharon Radford Jennifer Richardson Patricia R. Robertson Clarke & Maria Rodgers Mr. & Mrs. Michael Saffold *Bobbie K. Sanford Jacqueline Scott Judge Clarence Seeliger * Rex & Joy Simms * Betty Small Kyle & Carol Smith * Mr. & Mrs. Wm. P. Smith (Bill & Dot) Christa & Tim Sobon Lynn & Dave Speno Helen Talley-McRae & Keith McRae Mrs. William C. Thibadeau * Jim & Mary Van Buren * Art & Laurie Vinson Wanda & Herb White Darro & Huyen Willey Kristina Wright Individual - $30 - $49 Allen County Public Library * Charles B. Bell, M.D. + Namoi W. Bell Robert I. Biebel Mrs. L. C. Buchanan * Barbara C. Campbell * Randy Chavers Wilma L. Coney Tim Crimmins Mr. & Mrs. Charles L. Davidson, Jr. * Randy Davis Mike Day William T. Deneke Dunwoody Women’s Club * Sara Fountain * Jacquelyn Gallo Linda Graves Pamela Hain

* Terry Hardgrave Gary Hauk Historic Sylvester Cemetery, Inc. * Darold Honore Mrs. Pierre Howard Sr. Catherine Hutsell Marceil Joyner * Katherine Kennedy + Elizabeth Kinney + Mrs. Elliott Kyle + Brenda Leder Kendra Leffingwell Barbara Loar Eric Lucas Miriam Mathura Robert L. McWilliams + Mary Lee Millman * Alan H. Morris Charles A. Moye, Jr. + Tommye Mueller * Neil Norton Mary Margaret Oliver Margaret M. Pearce * Pamela C. Pryor Brian G. Randall + Donald A. Rawlins Dr. Wallis E. Reagin Tim Salomon Annette H. Shakespeare + Edmund Sheehey Mrs. R. P. Shinall, Jr. + Beth Shorthouse Gayle B. Shuey * Sandy Slovin + Elizabeth Huberta Smith Penny & Graham Stovall Ray Viers * Kyle Williams * Judge Anne Workman Student/Teacher/Senior - $25 Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Dannie Bell Robert Berg Sheila Biggs * Geraldine Blache Jewell Blankenship Joseph Augustine Sams Bond

+ Nannelle Bond * Oded & Marcia Borowski * Samantha Brown * Jaisha Bruce * Maureen Burrell Mrs. Mary Katherine Burton * Kate Butler-Plum Mary Callahan * Nicole Carmolingo * Joy C. Carroll * Catherine Chastain * gSukari Clark * Patricia Cole-Kitze Norma Crews C. Warren Davidson * Patrick Edmondson * Lydia Ellington * Justine Fletcher + Mari Jo Ford * Linda Fountain * Susan Fraysse * Nancy Gadberry John Gamwell * Lyodene B. Haley * Cassandra Harris * Sandra Harris * Lucinda B. Headrick Mrs. Sybil R. Herren Barbara Hicks Estelle L. Hinde Mr. & Mrs. Marvin C. Housworth, Jr. * Diann Hudson * Paul Stephen Hudson * Christine Jackson * Sue Kahn Grace E. Keel * Dot Keith * Mary Alice Kemp * Virginia Kinchen + Mr. Leon L. Kitchens, Jr. * Linda Lael Mrs. Scarlet G. Lanier * Lorraine Loftis * James L. Mackay Albert & Virve Martin * Fred Mobley * Nancy Nichelson

Volume 4, Issue 1 Page 7



* Marcia A. Parrish * Kelly Pepper * Carol Proctor * Janice Reed Denise Rice * Carolyn Rich Ruth Kirby Sanders * Gail Selby Jane T. Singleton * Betty Slater Elizabeth Smith * Daniel G. Sobczak Charlotte Thigpen * Tim & Dorothy Timmons * Ebert Van Buren, Jr. * Addie Watts * Eleanor Weatherly * Kelly Whitfield Helen C. Williams Agnes Scott Willoch Carolyn G. Wilson

* Patsy B. Woods * Janie Yorker * William Zachary + Upgraded Membership * New Membership Businesses from Historic DeKalb County Ace Communications Agnes Scott College American Hermetics, Inc. Antioch Lithonia Baptist Church Archetype Development Group Birthright USA National CDC Federal Credit Union Centers for Disease Control City of Chamblee D.W. Tench Grading & Hauling DeKalb County School System DeKalb Medical Center DeKalb Technical College Epps Aviation

Fox5 Atlanta (WAGA) Friends of Thomas E. Brown Georgia Federal Credit Union Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Gerald Carter Construction Company H&A International Jewelry Ltd. Handy and General Hardware Heritage Bank HLM Financial Group Huddle House Leadership DeKalb M. Cary & Daughters Plumbing Contractors, Inc. Northwoods Montessori Organization of DeKalb Educators Rutland Contracting Company Rutland Foundation Serdi Corp. Steel, Inc. Wesley Woods Senior Living Wilson Welding Service, Inc.

Thanks to all who have joined or renewed. Membership donations are extremely important to our mission. If there is a correction to your listing, or you have questions about your membership, please call Melissa at 404-373-1088, extension 22.

Join * Renew * Give Collecting, Preserving and Sharing the History of DeKalb County All funds received through memberships directly support the preservation of DeKalb County history and are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Your generous contribution to the DeKalb History Center will provide you with a year-long membership that includes our quarterly newsletter to keep you informed on all our activities. We hope that you will join our team by either renewing your membership or joining as a first-time supporter.





Address ________________________________________________________________________ City/State/Zip _________________________________



Supporter Levels ___ Heritage Society—$2,500

___ Contributor—$250

___ Household—$50

___ Sponsor—$1,000

___ Sustainer/Business—$125

___ Individual—$30

___ Benefactor/Corporation—$500

___ Patron—$75

___ Student/Teacher/Senior—$25

I n s id e S t o r y H e ad l i n e

Please mail this form with your contribution to: DeKalb History Center, 101 East Court Square, Decatur GA 30030

Business Supporters Sponsor City of Decatur DeKalb Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Georgia Power Company A. S. Turner & Sons Benefactor Decatur Downtown Development Authority Decatur First Bank Macy’s Foundation Pythagoras Masonic Temple Contributor City of Avondale Estates Bank of North Georgia R. L. Brown & Associates, Inc. DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

Emory University New South Associates Parker’s on Ponce Pattillo Management, Inc.

Personal Care, Inc. These business members support the History Center at the Contributor Level or above. For information call 404-373-1088, ext. 22.

DeKalb History Center Old Courthouse on the Square 101 East Court Square Decatur GA 30030

Phone: 404-373-1088 Fax: 404-373-8287

Keeping DeKalb’s History First, since 1947