Roman History 

Northwest Georgia Historical & Genealogical Society

Steamboats and Coosa River History



Rome and Floyd County, Georgia

The first people to live in Northwest Georgia were the Cherokee Indians, who were a peaceful tribe. One of their leaders was Major Ridge, who was a wealthy trader and the owner of a ferry that crossed the Oostanaula River near his home, Chieftains , which today houses a museum.

The discovery of gold in Dahlonega in 1828 brought people from the coast eager to search for gold. Gold meant the end of the peaceful life led by the Cherokees in this area. In 1838 the Trail of Tears, led fourteen thousand Cherokees to their new home in the West. More than four thousand of them died before they reached their destination.

Five men who thought they had discovered a peninsula founded Rome in 1834. Their idea was to build a town that would become a trade center using riverboats as the transportation. The men met at Alhambra , the antebellum columned home of Major Philip Hemphill. The house, one of the oldest in Floyd County, was built in 1832.  The house still stands and is home to the President of Darlington School .

Each of the five men suggested a name for the new town. Legend says they placed the names in a hat and Rome was chosen. Colonel Daniel R. Mitchell suggested Rome; Major Hemphill favored Hamburg; Colonel Zachariah B. Hargrove thought of Pittsburg; John Lumpkin preferred Warsaw; and Colonel Charles Smith put in the name, Hillsboro. Later he would start a town across one of the rivers and give it that name.

The next year Rome received its charter and the county seat was moved from Livingston to Rome. Rome soon became the main river port between Gadsden, Alabama and Calhoun, Georgia. Boats as large as one hundred and seventy-five feet in length brought cargo, mail and passengers into Rome. In 1839 the Rome Railroad was chartered. By 1860 Rome had a bank, a newspaper, a college, churches, and was a busy hub of trade.

During the Civil War Rome  was a medical center and wounded from both sides were brought into Rome for treatment. Hospitals were set up in churches and many of the buildings on Broad Street. In May of 1864, Rome fell to the Union Forces under the command of General William T. Sherman. Soldiers of the Union Army occupied Rome until November of that year. When General Sherman and his men departed they set fire to many of the buildings. Those he spared were being used as hospitals.

Rome was rebuilt from the ashes. It is now the medical center of Northwest Georgia. The three rivers, which first attracted the founders now, provide a source of water for drinking, manufacturing, and recreation. Bridges; which had been built across the three rivers made growth easier and the small towns which had grown up across the rivers were annexed into Rome by the early part of the 20th  Century. The 1900 Census was 7,291 and in 1910 following the annexation, the population had risen to 12.099.

*Anne Culpepper

Where Romans Rest…

Welcome to Rome’s Historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery…opened in 1857 as the city’s 2nd cemetery; it covers 25 acres built on 5 terraces and is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The citizens of Rome chose hills for both cemeteries because of the flooding of Rome’s three rivers.

DR. HVM MILLER (Homer Virgil Milton Miller) began his career as a friend and physician to the Cherokee Indians of northern Georgia and settled in Rome about 1850. During the Civil War a volunteer company – the Miller Rifles – was named in his honor, and Dr. Miller became one of the Confederacy’s highest ranking military surgeons. He was the first Senator elected from the South following the Civil War. He financed Rome’s first "wagon bridge," a covered span across the Oostanaula River on West 5th Avenue which was then known as Bridge Street. He supported the establishment of Myrtle Hill Cemetery. He died at age 82.

JULIA OMBERG 1842-1922

Julia Omberg was the first subject of the first oophorectomy. The operation was performed at her home, 615 West First Street, by Dr. Robert Battey on August 27, 1872. Rome citizens strung up a noose in a tree across the street, but Julia Omberg survived the surgery and lived fifty more years, dying of organic heart failure.

CIVIL WAR SECTION contains the graves of 377 soldiers, both Confederate and Union. 81 of them are unknown Confederate soldiers and 2 are unknown Union soldiers. Rome was a hospital center during the war. When the Union Troops, under the command of General Sherman left Rome in November of 1864, he ordered all of Broad Street burned except for a few buildings that were being used as hospitals. Several of the downtown churches were also used as hospitals; which spared them from Sherman’s torch. Many of the young men buried here died in those hospitals. Myrtle Hill is unique because the Union dead were left here. In most Southern cemeteries, the Union dead; were moved to National cemeteries in the area.

DR. ROBERT MAXWELL HARBIN was the son of Dr. Wylie Reeder Harbin, who served in the 7th Regiment of the South Carolina Calvary, and was captured in Farmville, Virginia very near the end of the War. After his release he walked back to his home in South Carolina.

In 1871, Dr. Harbin and his family moved to Gordon County, Georgia, where he practiced medicine until the late 1890’s.

Dr. Robert Maxwell Harbin and his brother, Dr. William Pickens Harbin, moved to Rome to practice medicine. In 1908, they founded the Harbin Hospital.

LT. WALTON SHANKLIN died in the Argonne Forest in France on October 15, 1918. He was buried here in Myrtle Hill on September 2, 1921. When he died 80 years ago he was 33 years old. The American Legion post here in Rome bears his name.

FREEDMAN’S SECTION is located on the lower slopes of Myrtle Hill. Here are buried many of the prominent African-Americans and their descendants who played an important role in the history of Rome. Among the many buried in this section are the Whatleys who are the grandparents of Iris and Larry Kennebrew. Iris is a member of the National Softball Hall of Fame and Larry played professional football for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. Mr. Whatley owned a drycleaners in the Five Points area for many years and was the a leader in the formation and funding of the first Main High School Panthers Marching Band.

Also buried in this section is Mary T. Banks, a prominent Rome educator for many years. She began her career in education as a substitute teacher at Rome’s first elementary black public school, and remained to educate two generations of students. Among her memories was the great flood of 1886. She was nine years old that year and also remembered the blizzard and the minor earthquake that occurred that year. She died on January 6, 1975.

H. FIELDS SAUMENIG came to Rome in 1915 to assume the rectorship of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. He was to remain in that position until 1940. At the time of his arrival in Rome he was married to his second wife, the first having died as well as two children born of that union. His second wife was Maria Teressa Brown of Asheville, NC. She had been born in New Zealand where her father had served as a Member of Parliament. Calvin Coolidge as a summer residence during his presidency used the stone mansion the Brown family built when they moved to Asheville. On June 2, 1928 Mrs. Saumenig died at her home. She was taken to Asheville for burial.

In 1930 Miss Mary Veal became Parson Saumenig’s third wife and for many years she was a city teacher in the Rome City Schools. On November 3, 1939 Mrs. Saumenig was injured in an automobile accident and she died two days later. Early in 1940 Parson Saumenig decided to close the rectory because it held so many memories of Mary. In his letter of resignation to the church vestry he said, "Nothing would make my life more worth living than to live amongst the people I so deeply love until I, too, might go to Myrtle Hill." That fall he moved to Florida and while there married for a fourth time. He died there in 1954. After the funerals at St. Peter’s he was buried here beside his beloved Mary.

A good friend and a staunch churchman at some time composed the following verse:

Parson Saumenig,

Sleeping in his first wife’s bed,

With his second wife’s pillow under his head,

With his third wife’s cover covering his hide,

And his fourth wife slumbering by his side.

It was felt by those who knew him that he would have chuckled on hearing this.

BAYARD E. HAND was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis. He died of pneumonia in Wilmington, NC in 1859. His body was brought back to Rome and he was buried at Myrtle Hill. In 1864 during the Union occupation of Rome, several soldiers were out one day exploring Myrtle Hill and discovered the grave and noting that he had served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy, decided they would send him to a "Better Land!" They had Hand’s coffin exhumed and shipped to Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Bayard (Mrs. Bayard, who was Bayard’s mother) was so angered at this transgression against his wife’s son that after the war he had the body exhumed again and returned to Myrtle Hill at the cost of $300.00, a considerable sum of money during the Reconstruction period.

DR. WILLIAM PICKENS HARBIN came to Rome from Calhoun with his brother Dr. Robert Maxwell Harbin to start the Harbin Hospital in 1908. That hospital is today’s Harbin Clinic. Six grandsons of Dr. Harbin are on the staff of the clinic. Harbin Hospital was the first hospital in the area to have an x-ray machine, in 1919 radium therapy for cancer patients was begun, the first Caesarian section in the region was performed there, and in 1925a physical therapy program was instituted. His wife, Edith Lester, once attended a picnic near Silver Creek with Ellen Axson and Woodrow Wilson. At the time she was six years old. A very talented musician, Mrs. Harbin was very active in the cultural life of Rome. She was the founder of the Rome Symphony Orchestra, the oldest symphony in the Southeast. Today, there are six grandsons of William & Edith are on the staff of Harbin Clinic, which opened in 1948. From this point in Myrtle Hill, looking toward the west is a beautiful view of Shorter College.

JOHN BILLUPS was one of the first to be buried in Myrtle Hill. He died in March of 1857, the year the cemetery opened. It is believed that the top of Mr. Billups’s monument was shaved off by a musket ball during a minor skirmish of the Civil War.

FANNIE J. KING who lived in the Fourth Ward, died at age 48 of banan ice cream poisoning in 1901. Buried beside Mrs. King are her husband and his second wife. The inscription on the tombstone reads, "We will meet in Heaven."

VON ALBADE GAMMON grew up on Third Avenue and was a very talented athlete. He played football for the University of Georgia and was the fullback on the 1897 team. On October 30 of that year during a game with the University of Virginia, Von suffered a severe head injury and died the next day. The funeral was held at the First Presbyterian Church with all of his teammates sitting together near the front of the church. Public opinion caused the Georgia Legislature to pass a bill that outlawed the game of football in the state. Rosalind Gammon asked Governor Atkinson to veto the bill. In her letter to the Governor, she stated that two of his friends had died in tragic accidents the year preceding Von’s death, one in a skating accident and one in a rock climbing accident and that no move had been made to do away with either of those things. Gov. Atkinson vetoed the bill on December 7, 1897. Less than three years after Von’s death his younger brother, Will, died when he fell beneath a train following a baseball game in Cartersville. When Von entered the University in the fall of 1896, the football coach was Glenn "Pop" Warner.

HOLMES ANGEL sits on the graves of Dr. Holmes Cheney and his wife. It is one of the most beautiful angels in Myrtle Hill. Wiping a tear from her eye – she graces the cover of your tour program.

ALFRED & MARTHA BALDWIN SHORTER; Alfred Shorter was orphaned as a small child and was raised by relatives in Eufaula, Alabama. At the age of 16 he found employment as a clerk in John Baldwin’s store in Monticello, Georgia, eventually becoming a partner in the business. In 1834, he married Martha Baldwin, the widow of John Baldwin and almost five years his senior. The story of their marriage is quite interesting. As a partner in the business with Martha’s husband and as her financial advisor following his death, a warm friendship developed between them. As Mrs. Baldwin sat sewing, Alfred Shorter and the Rev. James McDonald entered the room….Alfred said to Martha, "Why should we wait any longer? Let us be married at once!" In response, Martha stood, shook the threads from her dress, and with the scissors still hanging from her waist repeated the vows that made her Mrs. Alfred Shorter.

Martha had been left $40,000.00 by her late husband and she encouraged Alfred to invest in real estate in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Although the Shorters had no children, they reared her niece and nephew. In 1837 they moved to Rome and in 1847shorter built a handsome white mansion, Thornwood. The mansion still stands today on the Darlington lower school campus. Possessing astute business judgement, Alfred traded in cotton, merchandise, and real estate. His farming interests were extensive. He had interests in the railroads, the local steamship line, banks, and an insurance company. For almost 25 years he owned two bridges crossing the Etowah & Oostanaula Rivers, charging a toll for people to cross. Both Alfred & Martha were regular in their attendance at Rome’s First Baptist Church, always sitting in their pew on the extreme right side of the church. He gave six of the eight thousand dollars needed to build the church. In 1873 final plans were made for the establishment of the Cherokee Baptist Female College. Alfred Shorter became President of the Board. A major financial donor to the college, the name was changed to Shorter in his honor. Today, that college stands on a hill behind us and is celebrating its 125th Anniversary.

COLONEL DANIEL R. MITCHELL was one of the founders of Rome and the one who gave Rome its name. He was an attorney and an engineer and is responsible for laying the streets in downtown Rome.

COLONEL ZACHARIAH B. HARGROVE was another of Rome’s founders, Colonel Hargrove suggested the Name of Pittsburg for our town. It is not really known if his body is buried here because some of the old cemetery records are not complete. Of the other three men who were the "founding fathers" of Rome; John Lumpkin, who suggested the name Warsaw, is buried in the old Oak Hill Cemetery which is on Riverside Parkway and was the city’s first cemetery. Charles Smith, whose suggestion was Hillsboro, is buried in Cave Spring; and Philip Hemphill, who favored Hamburg, is probably buried in Mississippi. His wife and two daughters are buried behind the "Home on the Hill" on the campus of Darlington School. This was the house where the five men who met to found our town.

DR. ROBERT BATTEY was a surgeon during the Civil War and practiced medicine in Rome for many years. On August 27, 1872 Dr. Battey surgically removed the ovaries of Julia Omberg on the kitchen table of her home on West 1st Street. It was the first time the operation had ever been performed. A lynch mob waited across the street to hang Dr. Battey if the patient died. Julia Omberg survived the surgery and died 50 years later of heart failure. This is the largest mausoleum in Myrtle Hill and contains over 40 bodies. The identity of some of the people in the mausoleum is unknown. Before modern burial techniques and modern refrigeration, families of those from out of town who died while visiting Rome, asked the Battey families’ permission to store the bodies here until cooler weather. Many never returned to retrieve the bodies.

A monument in his memory stands on the lawn of Rome’s City Hall. The monument, erected by the Medical Association of Georgia, was dedicated at its annual meeting in Rome on April 5, 1921. Each of the four sides is inscribed with a word that describes the virtues of Dr. Battey. Dr. Robert Maxwell Harbin, Sr., chose the words: "Honesty – Courage – Modesty – Fidelity." Dr. Battey served as president of the Georgia Medical Association and as president of the American Gynecological Association. He also was a delegate to the International Medical Congress in 1881.

AUGUSTUS R WRIGHT was born in Wrightsville, Columbia County, Georgia in 1813. Judge Wright served in the United States Congress and although he had voted against secession, he would later serve in the Confederate Congress. He was married twice and was the father of seventeen children. It has been said that a reunion of his descendants would fill a large warehouse. Four of his sons served in the Confederate Army. At one time he owned Chieftains, which had been the home of Major Ridge. Later he built a home, Glenwood, which stood on the site of the Berry College Chapel. He died there in 1891 while chopping wood. One of his sons was Moses Rochester Wright who was the first trustee of The Berry Schools and was married to Bessie Berry, who was a sister of Miss Martha Berry. Another son, Seaborn Wright, was a prohibitionist and was at one time mentioned as the presidential candidate of the Prohibitionist Party.

When General Sherman left Rome in the fall of 1864, he had Judge Wright arrested. He was taken to Washington, DC where he met with President Lincoln over a period about two weeks. The President urged him to ask Georgia Governor Joseph Brown and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy to surrender. Lincoln’s plan was to name Judge Wright the military governor of Georgia. He also promised amnesty for the entire South and the South would be restored to its full rights in the Union. According to Wright, Lincoln also said that the slaves would be gradually emancipated over a period of twenty-one years. Both Jefferson Davis and Governor Brown rejected the plan. In 1871 Wright told this story while testifying before Congress. Many people considered him a traitor. The Union Army did not record that he had been arrested and some felt he willingly went to Washington. It is a fact though that he loved both his countries. Four of his sons fought for the South. It is hard to believe that a father would aid the enemy under those circumstances.

THOMAS & FRANCES RHEA BERRY were the parents of Martha McChesney Berry, founder of the Berry Schools, today’s Berry College.

At the age of 21, Thomas Berry came to Rome from Tennessee as an apprentice to a shopkeeper. His ambition was to own a store of his own and attained this goal in a very short time. Later he sold the store and opened a cotton brokerage. At this time Rome was rapidly developing into an important cotton center on the Coosa River. As the business flourished he was able to buy a plantation near Rome. Oak Hill, the house he bought, was located on a high slope overlooking the rich bottom land on the Oostanaula River. At age 39 he brought his 18 year old bride, Frances Rhea. Frances was the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Alabama, whose Turkeytown plantation near Gadsden was a showplace. Thomas attained the rank of captain during the Civil War. Captain Berry and Frances had 8 children, Martha being the 2nd born. Martha is buried next to the Berry College Chapel on the Berry Campus.

LITTLE MARY was the one year old daughter of Kate Moore Hardy & Samuel Graham Hardy. The small child stands on Little Mary’s grave & has her hand uplifted to the angel that sits atop the monument on the grave of her parents.

HELEN BONES was the cousin of Woodrow Wilson and was Ellen’s secretary at the White House. After Ellen’s death she stayed on to act as hostess for the president. One day she invited the president to have tea with she and a friend. That friend was Edith Galt.

ELLEN LOUISE AXSON WILSON was the wife of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States and is one of only three first ladies to have died in the White House. Ellen Louisa Axson was born in Savannah on May 15, 1860 and moved to Rome when she was six. Her father, the Rev. Samuel Edward Axson, was pastor of Rome’s First Presbyterian Church. It was at that church that Ellen met Woodrow, a young attorney from Atlanta. They were married in Savannah in 1885. A professional artist, she gave her earnings to numerous causes, including Berry School. America’s first activist First Lady, Ellen devoted much of her time to improve the working conditions of women and to improve the living conditions of Washington’s poor. Ellen died in the White House on August 14, 1914. Her funeral was held at the First Presbyterian Church before she was brought here to be buried by her parents.

This incident tells a little of the type woman Ellen was. Shortly after Wilson received the nomination for President at the Democratic Convention in 1912, a woman reporter approached Ellen Wilson and asked why she never wore jewels. "Have you some sort of moral prejudice against jewelry, Mrs. Wilson?" she asked Ellen, who had stinted on her own attire so that her husband could have the books he wanted and the children could study art and music, murmured something non-committal but the reporter was persistent. "Why, Mrs. Wilson?" she asked. "No," said Ellen Wilson finially, "I have no prejudice against jewelry; we just haven’t any."

WILLIAM JOSEPH ATTAWAY died of wounds in France in June 1918.

He was buried here on November 11, 1921. He is the Attaway of the Shanklin-Attaway. When the name for the post was chosen, it was decided to use the name of an officer and an enlisted man. He was 21 when he died.

THOMAS & SARAH JONAS FAHY Sarah Jonas, a beautiful Jewish girl, grew up in Rome. She was a graduate of the Rome, where she was classmate and close friend of Ellen Axson Wilson. Sarah and Thomas met when Thomas, an Irish immigrant came to Rome to sell lace. They were the parents of eleven children. Three other children; John, Paul, and Anna, died in infancy and are buried in this plot. One of the children, Hannah, is in her late nineties and lives in a convent near Philadelphia. Another of the children, Agnes, was a close friend of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind. Margaret was a frequent visitor to the Fahy home on East Third Avenue. The family business, The Fahy Store, was a very fine department on Broad Street from 1873 to 1974. In 1914 when President Wilson brought his wife back to Rome for burial, he and his family had breakfast at the Fahy home the morning of the funeral.

GLOVER VAULT contains the remains of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Glover and their descendants. Mr. Glover was a prominent Rome banker. The Glovers were the parents of Seven children; Jane, Jessie, Jim, Joe. John, Joy, and Jules. It is one of the few vaults where one may look in to read the names.

CHARLES W. GRAVES died on the Hindenburg Line in 1918 and was buried in France. Four years later, in 1922, Charles’ body was loaded on a huge troopship that was brining bodies home for burial. With this last load of bodies, it was decided that a Known Soldier should be chosen to join the body of the Unknown Soldier for later burial at Arlington National Cemetery. A sailor was blindfolded and asked to run his name down a long list of the known dead. His finger stopped at the name of Charles Graves of Rome, Georgia. Mrs. Graves had waited four long years for the return of her son’s body and she did not want him buried at Arlington. Her wish was that he be buried at Antioch Cemetery on the Callier Springs Road. The War Department granted Mrs. Graves her wish, but decided that they would honor America’s Known Soldier with a parade down 5th Avenue when the ship arrived in New York. The coffin, draped with an American flag, was placed on a special carriage drawn by 6 white horses and followed by an honor guard made up of Admirals and Generals, 3 governors, 5 United States Senators, members of Congress, the Secretary of War, and the mayor of New York City. At the end of the parade route 5,000 Gold Star Mothers stood silently paying their tribute with tears. President Warren Gammaliel Harding, with his hand placed upon the flag draped coffin, spoke about Charles and all the other fine young men who had paid the ultimate price.

After taps, Charles was loaded on board a train for the final journey to Rome. Daniel’s Funeral Home met the train and took it to the Grave’s home on Mauphin Street near the Etowah River in East Rome. The next day Charles was taken to Antioch for his 2nd burial. It was April 6, 1922.

No one knew it at the time, but Charles would not stay in this grave for long.

People were already talking about a memorial park to honor Charles. After his mother’s death, his brother agreed to move the body to this site. There were Romans who felt his mother's wishes should be kept. The night before a court injunction was to be handed down; several Romans went to Antioch under the cover of darkness and brought Charles to his 3rd and final grave. It was September 22, 1923. On November 11, a ceremony was held here to honor Charles and the other 33 young men from Floyd County who died in World War I. Around the area a magnolia tree was planted to honor each of them.* Every year at the 11th day of the 11th month at 11th hour, a ceremony that honors the dead of all wars is held here. Representatives of all the veterans groups place wreathes around the plaque that covers the grave, a band plays and taps are sounded.

WASHINGTON OAK, this oak tree was planted on February 22, 1932 by the Masons in honor of George Washington, who was a Mason. Many communities in the United States have such trees.

NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST MONUMENT honors General Forrest for his role in capturing a Union raiding party led by Colonel Streight. The engagement took place west of Rome in May 1863 and saved Rome from a Federal attack. General Forrest was a dashing cavalryman and a popular hero of the Civil War. The monument stood on Broad Street from 1909 until 1952 when it was moved to Myrtle Hill.

WOMEN OF THE CONFEDERACY MONUMENT is believed to be the first monument in the world to honor the role of women in war. This monument was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on October 8, 1910. Woodrow Wilson wrote the inscription on the monument. It honors the wives and mothers who waited while the men fought. It also honors the nurses of Rome who nursed both Confederate and Union wounded in the hospitals of Rome during the war. This monument also stood on Broad Street until 1952.

These are a few of the more than 20,000 people who lie in Rome’s Historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Thank you for coming.

* 34 young men from Floyd County died in WWI. The 1910 census gives the population of Floyd County as 36,736 people. The 1910 Rome population was 12,099.

Dr. Robert Battey 1813-1891

Augustus R. Wright 1860-1914

Ellen Louise Axson Wilson 1897-1918

William Joseph Attaway 1892-1918

Charles Graves

*Anne Culpepper, February 9, 1999 to be continued:

A Brief History of Georgia's Rome and Floyd County

Before Rome became what it is today, it had to go through a short growing period.  Some ancient names were Chulio, Coosa Old Town, and the Chieftains.  Obviously these names were inhabited by Indians.  Chulio was a former community southeast of Rome.  It was named after an Old Cherokee warrior  named Chulio.  Coosa Old Town was an Indian Village on the Coosa River near present Rome.  General John Sevier destroyed the village on October 17, 1793.  This man was an early governor of Tennessee and was known among the Indians as Nollichucky Jack.

The Chieftains, was an old trading post operated by Indians.  It was located in the Riverside Community on the Oostanaula River.  John Ridge, famous Chief of the Cherokees lived here.

Legend has it that Hernando DeSoto stopped in what is now Rome.  It was then known to the Cherokee Indians as Chiaha, which means a meeting of the rivers.  He was  enroute to his discovery of the Mississippi River.  This legend has never been proven or disproved.

Rome, like its big sister of Italy, is known as the "City of Seven Hills".  In 1834 two travelers stopped to rest beside a spring near the junction where the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers form the Coosa River.  In a conversation with another traveler, Major Philip Walker Hemphill, the possibilities of a city being established on the site were discussed.  The abundance of water, the timber, the fertile soil and the seven hills impressed the men, as a good location for a trading center.

Following an evening at Major Hemphill's home, the three enlisted the aid of two other men to help in making their dream of a new community a reality.  Ferry rights were obtained, land lots and street plans drawn, provisions for public buildings were made, and the necessary legal and legislative actions were taken to make the community the seat of Floyd County.  To choose a name, each of the five individuals placed a name into a hat.  Colonel Daniel R. Mitchell was a lawyer from Canton and he though of the name "Rome" because of the seven hills.

Rome is strategically located where the Etowah, which flows through four counties, and the swift Oostanaula River join to form the Coosa River which flows from Downtown Rome to the Gulf of Mexico.

Capitoline Wolf

The statue of Romulus and Remus, which is located at the approach of the entrance of the Municipal Building of the City of Rome, Georgia, was an official gift from the Roman Governor, by order of the Italian Dictator, Benito Mussolini.  It was presented when the Chatillon Corporation (Silk Mill), Celanese Corporation of America, which originated from Chatillon Corporation in Italy, was brought here in 1929.  This presentation from ancient Rome to modern Rome was made on July 20, 1929 by Dr. Marco Biroli of Soie De Chatillon, Milan, Italy.

We do not have the name of the sculptor of the statue, but the original, an example of Etruscan art, of which this statue is an exact replica, stands in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy.

The bronze plate on the marble base of the statue bears the following inscription:  


Translation:  "This statue of the Capitoline Wolf, as a forecast of prosperity and glory, has been sent from Ancient Rome to New Rome, during the consulship of Benito Mussolini, in the year 1929".

In 1933 one of the twins - no one ever knew whether it was Romulus or Remus - was kidnapped from the pedestal.  Neither the kidnapper nor the twin was ever found, but through the efforts of the Rome Rotary Club and the International Rotary Club, another twin was sent from Italy to replace the missing one.

War left its mark on the Capitoline Wolf and her adopted human babies.  When Italy declared war on the Allies in 1940, threats to dynamite and destroy the statue become so numerous that the Rome City Commission ordered the statue removed and stored for safety.

In 1952, a movement was started by citizens and art lovers to restore the statue and on September 8, 1952, after an absence of twelve years, the 1500-pound statue of the Capitoline Wolf was placed on its pedestal in front of the Municipal Building.

Ridge Valley, Hermitage

Image a fertile valley at the foot of a mountain covered with a lush virgin forest.  This is a land where the Cherokee once roamed free, hunting in the forest for meat, fishing in the nearby rivers and creeks, living and loving this place that became known as Ridge Valley, taking its name from the famous Cherokee Ridge family.  And underneath a thick mantle of green, the very rocks held a secret that would one day be revealed.

After the Cherokee had been removed from their homeland, white settlers began to move into this area and many families whose descendants live there today made it their home, On of the original pioneer settlers in Ridge Valley was Joseph Watters who came to Floyd County when it was opened up to settlement.  There are deeds on file on Joseph Watters's name as early as 1833.  In the war against the Seminole and Creek Indians in 1836, he served as a captain, commanding the Highland Battalion of Georgia Mounted Volunteers of Floyd County under the command of Maj. Charles H. Nelson.

According to US Senate document 120, 25th Congress, Joseph Watters was one of the Georgians involved in the Cherokee Removal of 1838, serving as appraising and enrolling agent in the First District in Georgia, for which he received compensation of $328 with incidental expenses, as per voucher.

It is believed that his home, which is located on the Calhoun Road near Shannon, was built around 1840.  He named it "The Hermitage" because of his great admiration of President Andrew Jackson, whose Tennessee home place bore that name.  Ridge Valley would later become known as Hermitage, taking, the name from his home.

Joseph Watters was a prosperous farmer, ran a tannery and distillery and kept the Hermitage Post Office.  He and his wife Elizabeth (Aycock) Watters, raised 13 Children, 10 of them boys who all volunteered for service in the Confederate army during the Civil War.  Two were killed.  Richard P. Watters was wounded in the Battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg, Cd., and died on Sept. 14, 1862 after having a leg amputated.  Francis Marion Watters was killed in the Battle of Atlanta.  James Madison Watters fought at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and Joseph Collins Watters had an arm shot off while celebrating the election of the first Georgia governor after "Reconstruction.

Sherman's infamous "March through Georgia" was the direct cause of death of Joseph Watters.  Because he was a prominent citizen and had given aid to the Confederate cause, he was robbed by Federal troops who destroyed much of his property and took most of what remained.  A broken man, he lived only a few years afterward and died at his home in March 1866.

Another pioneer settler of Ridge Valley was John Rush, who came to Georgia from Lincoln County, N.C., around 1825.  Rush and his bride Martha M. Camp Rush, who was the daughter of a Methodist Episcopal minister, settled first in Meriwether County where they lived for approximately eight years.  Like Joseph Watters, he arrived in Floyd County around 1833.  John and Martha had seven children: five girls and two boys.

According to information that has been passed down from earlier generations of the family, the Rush house was started in 1839 and completed around 1841.  The Watters and Rush homes were built only about a mile apart on the same road.  Together, these two families founded the Rush Chapel Methodist Church in 1838.

Rush, like Watters, was a successful farmer and skillful tanner.  In addition, there is evidence that he sold goods for others at his tannery.  Just as Watters lost most of his property during the Civil War, so did Rush.  The loses included property belonging to others which was held for sale in his tannery.  Rush kept a detailed record of all such stolen or destroyed property for the apparent purpose of billing the federal government.  He never compeletely recovered from the devastating losses and died on Feb. 1, 1872.

The Ridge Valley Village:  By the year 1882, in a beautiful valley located where the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains extend down into North Georgia, the little village of Ridge Valley had grown up around a blast furnace some eight miles north of Rome and about a mile from both the Joseph Watters and John Rush houses.  This blast furnace had been built for the purpose of making pig iron and the location chosen because of the ample supply of wood from the surrounding hills and water from a nearby cold spring. 

*Bernice Couey Bishop of Shannon is a native of Floyd County and a freelance writer.
Published in The Rome News & Tribune.