My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

HOMETOWN TUESDAY: Cassville, Georgia

My hope for this blog is that Tuesdays will be the day that I write about a town, or a city, or a village, where some of our ancestors lived in the past. I'm calling it "Hometown Tuesdays". The history, culture, and make-up of any hometown effects the individuals who live there. In my research I've discovered how unique each city is. So take a trip back in time - to the early 1800's - to the one time home of James and Sarah Flemming, my 3rd great-Grandparents, and my great-great Grandfather Charles Flemming. . . .

Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia
Cassville, in what was then Cass County, is known by many Civil War buffs as the location of the battle that never was. During the Atlanta Campaign in 1864, Confederate General Joe Johnston intended a major offensive here after tricking General Sherman into dividing his forces at Adairsville. But on the evening before the battle was to have been fought, General John Hood convinced Johnston to withdraw south to Allatoona. Union Forces occupied Cassville from that night until November 1864. On October 30, orders were issued to destroy Cassville. Residents were given only 20 minutes notice that the town was being burned. No images of the town, nor official records of her citizens, survived. That's the end of the story. But what was Cassville like when James and Sarah Linza Jackson Flemming lived and worked here, with their two young sons in late the 1850's, and early 1860's?

Cass County was created by the Georgia legislature in 1832 and Cassville, the county seat, was laid out less than a year later. The town grew up in the middle of the woods where the Cherokees were still roaming and became a busy place. The town was built around the Court Square in a similar fashion to most Southern towns and a brick courthouse and jail were completed by 1837. Just over a decade later, Cassville boasted with pride about being the largest, most prosperous, most culturally affluent town in northern Georgia. After all, Cassville contained four hotels including the fancy Latimer Hotel which was less than a block away from the courthouse. These hotels made Cassville an ideal place for a stage coach stop and many took advantage of the facilities. There was a bookstore, insurance company, several practicing lawyers, two tailor shops, dry good stores, grocery stores, two carriage and wagon shops, a blacksmith, jewelry store, harness shop, livery stable, furniture store, lumber yard, a boot and shoe maker, brick yard, and four practicing doctors.

The old town of Cassville had brick sidewalks and was laid out in a traditional village style with square blocks spreading out from the courthouse square in the center. On either side of the courthouse was the main business district of town. Six stores, three on each side, were lined about the courthouse. The U. S. Post Office was directly across the street from the courthouse and the Latimer Hotel was just past the post office. M. Murray's store, another hotel, and the printing shop were located on the opposite side of the courthouse square.

The town was also the home of two fine colleges, the Cassville Female College and the Cherokee Baptist College both of which were housed in large brick buildings on beautiful campuses. Girls and boys from allover Cherokee Georgia came to Cassville to go to college. The Female Institute was owned by the Methodist and was located on a hill overlooking the town from the West. The hill was known by the town's residents as "College Hill." By 1853, the large three-story brick structure was erected and in full use containing .the finest library in northern Georgia.

The Cherokee Baptist Male College, on Chapman Hill, was located about 3/4 of a mile northeast of the Female Methodist College. It was a school for boys established in January of 1854. It too was a three-story building constructed of brick, but it had two-story wings flanking each side of the main structure. The school was burned in 1856 and was quickly rebuilt within a year and included the same floor plan as before as well as a chapel large enough to seat 800 people. There were seven recitation rooms, a library, two rooms for other purposes, and two large halls for the two Literary Societies to hold their functions. The Cherokee Baptist Male College and the Female Methodist College were the first chartered institutions of higher education in Cherokee, Georgia. Because there were no dormitories at either school, the citizens of Cassville boarded the youngsters for a small fee.

There were many fine homes in and around Cassville. It was a pleasant place to live and there was an element of culture and refinement in the town that could not be found in surrounding areas.  It was in Cassville that the first decision ever of the Georgia State Supreme Court was handed down. The first paved sidewalks in upper Georgia were laid in Cassville as well. It was one of the very first towns in Georgia to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors, and businesses in Cassville prospered as greatly as any others in the state. Cassvillians were especially proud of their brass band which was held together until the young men went away to war. There was also a circus grounds used for special events.

There were four churches in Cassville: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian. Three of the four are still located on the same grounds they held before the town was burned. Late in 1861 Confederate Hospitals were organized in Cassville and by May of 1864 eight large Confederate hospitals were in operation. There were also several regimental hospitals in Cassville. More than 10,000 Confederates were treated in these hospitals. More than 500 Confederates died in them, of which about 300 are buried in the Confederate Cemetery. Also buried in the Cassville cemetery is Bartow's able Brigadier General W. T. Wofford.

The Cassville battle did not reach major proportions of a major conflict. There were not many killings in the little fighting that actually took place. The battle was fought Thursday, May 19, 1864 and was of more importance as to what would happen in the future than it was of that day. Hood's Advance and Retreat called the battle, "The Controversial Cassville Battle," or the "Question Mark" of the Atlanta Campaign.

It was on November 5, 1864 when the city of Cassville was destroyed by fire at the hands of the Fifth Ohio Regiment of the Federal Army under the command of Colonel Heath and Major Thomas. They said they had orders from Sherman "that not a house be left within the limits of the incorporation, except the churches." One theory for the total destruction of the town is that Yankees had a special grievance against the town because it had changed its name from Cassville to Manassas and the name of the county from Cass to Bartow just after the Confederate victory at First Bull Run in 1861. The names of the county and county seat had been altered because the state legislature did not believe that a Southern town should bear the name of a Michigan general who held the "wrong" views on the slavery question.

The Union Army destroyed the city and left behind a mass of smoking walls and charred timber around the limits of the town. During the summer of 1864 the Federals were in complete control of Cassville and her citizens went through hard times. The nearest mill was fifteen miles away and those fortunate enough to have a little wheat or corn had to walk that distance to use the mill. They walked because all their horses had been seized by either Union or Confederate cavalries. Usually a few small boys would get together and sneak over to the mill because if they were caught by Federal troops, their grain would almost always be taken away. All the people had to pick berries to help toward their daily meals. It would have been tougher on the people of Cassville if it had not been for the kindness of a Federal captain stationed in Kingston who often sent assistance to the people in town.

There was an interview by a former resident years ago, who had lived through the event, that on the morning of November 5th the Union Army marched into town and, after giving a short notice about what was to follow, began their work. Within a short time the whole town was in flames. That night the people found themselves out in the street in a cold rain with not a shelter left over their heads. They could have found shelter in churches but they had to watch over the few personal belongings they had saved from the flames. They knew the Yankees would either steal or destroy them if they had a chance.

With Cassville now gone, the county seat was moved to the nearby rail center at Cartersville. It seemed useless to rebuild Cassville because of its location and total destruction. Cartersville quickly became the new center of activity in Bartow County and remains so today. All of the businesses, including several of the businessmen of old Cassville made themselves new locations in Cartersville. Cassville was only a memory, except for three churches, three homes, and the die-hards who decided to rebuild.

By the 1870's, the state-owned Western and Atlantic Railroad made Cartersville a major travel center. It was this railroad that ended any possibility of rebuilding Cassville. Cassville could only be reached by horse or stagecoach, while Cartersville was a major rail center. It is for this reason that Cassville today is only a small community consisting of the three old churches, a store, a post office, a new fire station, an empty courthouse square, and a Confederate Cemetery.

James Benjamin Flemming
The Flemming Family in Cassville
 According to the 1860 U.S. Census, James Benjamin Flemming (1827-1907) and his wife Sarah Jackson Flemming (1837-1902) were living in Cassville with their sons Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and John Flemming (1858-before 1870). They had left their home in Darlington, South Carolina sometime after son John was born. James was working as a Harnessmaker, a profession he occupied throughout his life, and would pass down to his sons. He valued his personal property on the Census as $50. The Flemmings were Baptists.

While living here, Sarah gave birth to their third child, son Thomas J., in July 1860. By the time their fourth child, Oscar Eugene (1866-1936) was born in October of 1866, the family was living in Rome, about 23 miles to the west. James was still working as a harnessmaker. By the 1870 Census, their second child John had died, and their fifth son, Walter Edward (1869-1907) was born. James and Sarah would later have two more children - James Benjamin (1876-1878), who lived just 16 months, and their only daughter Minnie E. (1879-1963).
Headstone at Myrtle Hill Cemetery
Rome, Georgia

It is unknown at this time which unit James served under during the Civil War but his obituary confirms that he was a veteran. Whether or not Sarah and her three young sons were living in Cassville on the day that it was burned to the ground is not known. Records were destroyed and their experienes in Cassville have long been forgotten. James and Sarah are buried beside each other at Rome's historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery.  


  1. Ms. Thomas
    I am doing research on Cassville. I enjoyed reading your article on this blog. Can you help me with more information about that wonderful town Cassville. Thanks so much..

  2. Ms. Thomas
    I am doing research on Cassville. I enjoyed reading your article on this blog. Can you help me with more information about that wonderful town Cassville. Thanks so much..