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Author: Lee Ann Caldwell

The Remarkable Legacy of Richmond

For five years now, the Academy of Richmond County Hall of Fame has been inducting alumni, faculty and administrators. This year’s group includes 11 new members whose lives had an impact on others from Georgia to Hollywood, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Titan missile silos and the battlefields of World War II. All have been outstanding. This is the story of one. Eighty cadets graduated from the Academy of Richmond County on June 11, 1929. Only two years earlier the school had moved from its Telfair Street home of over 200 years to its spacious new building on the drained swampland at the bottom of the “Hill.” These young men had begun high school in one place and finished in another. One of those cadets graduating at the academy auditorium that night was young Benjamin Neely Plumb, whose contribution to the evening’s ceremony was the class prophecy and whose contribution to the world were a bevy of popular musical recordings and his daughter, the well-known Brady Bunch actress Eve Plumb who played Jan Brady. Neely Plumb’s Augusta roots were deep. His ancestors on multiple lines had been contributing members of the community. On his mother’s side, he was a direct descendent of Augusta inventor William Longstreet, whose attempt to use steam to power a boat on the Savannah River had preceded Robert Fulton’s Clermont on the Hudson. Longstreet’s son Gilbert had...

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The Legacy of the Berckmans Family

FOR YEARS Augustans have driven along Berckmans Road and now Augusta National Club members and some lucky patrons will enjoy hospitality in the elegant Berckmans Place on the grounds. While the history of those rolling hills as Fruitland Nursery is well-known, less familiar are the personal stories of this remarkable immigrant family whose lives not only left the legacy of this beautiful place but also affected horticulture throughout much of the world.  Louis Mathieu Eduoard Berckmans was born in 1801 in Lierre, Belgium, a small town between Brussels and Antwerp, known for lacemaking, textiles and the crafting of musical...

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A Most Remarkable Collaboration

DANIEL McHORTON was born in slavery sometime in the 1840s in Augusta, Ga. Hattie Maria Corrin was born in comfortable circumstances on October 23, 1864, in South Coventry, Conn. In the early 20th century, across the lines of race, gender and class, the lives of these two remarkable people intersected. The result made a difference for hundreds of African American children in Augusta for generations. Emancipated in 1865, Daniel McHorton could read and write by the time he appeared in the 1870 census. Perhaps his former owners had given him the gift of literacy. After all, according to his story,...

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Rebirth of a Grand Lady

THE LATE 1800s were a time of great transformation in American society as invention, industrialization and urbanization accelerated following the Civil War. In urban areas the amenities of indoor plumbing, electricity and labor-saving devices improved life for many. Rapid urbanization and industrialization, however, also led to many problems and created a class of working poor. These two trends met in an interesting way. The challenges of industrialization and urbanization awakened a spirit among people of faith called the Social Gospel Movement, which called them to live out their creeds by helping the less fortunate. At the same time, amenities...

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A Place in History

ON OCTOBER 22, the Academy of Richmond County Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members. Founded four years ago the ARC Hall of Fame recognizes alumni, teachers and coaches who have made important contributions at the local, state, national and occasionally international level. One of this year’s inductees meets the criteria at all levels. Graduating from ARC in 1873, Pleasant Alexander Stovall held the diplomatically sensitive post of U.S. ambassador to Switzerland in the era of World War I. His story began more than five decades earlier in downtown Augusta. Born on July 7, 1857, to Bolling Anthony and Mattie Wilson Stovall, Pleasant Alexander bore the first name of his paternal grandfather Pleasant Augustus and as his middle name that of his maternal grandfather Alexander Wilson, a Presbyterian missionary to Africa. Bolling Anthony was the fourth son of wealthy Hancock County planter Pleasant, but was reared in Augusta after his father became a merchant there. Bolling graduated from the Academy of Richmond County and University of Georgia, where he trained to be a civil engineer. After practicing that profession for a number of years he returned to Augusta to enter his father’s wholesale grocery, Stovall & McLaughlin. In 1856 he married Martha Wilson and the following year their son Pleasant was born. υ When Pleasant was not quite four years old, the American Civil War began. His father...

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