The Georgia Citizen

Keeping Georgians Informed.

Georgia Martyr, Robert A. Alston, Was Buried 135 Years Ago Today, on March 13.

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

On March 11, 1879, my great, great grandfather, Robert A. Alston, was murdered down in the Georgia Capitol.  He was DeKalb’s only State Representative at the time and had, by all accounts, a promising political career ahead of him, a career that some pundits at the time were speculating might lead him to be, along with Alexander Hamilton Stephens, one of the leading voices in the Georgia Democratic Party after the Civil War.  But, in the good ole Alston fashion, he stepped on toes, but this time, it was the toes of the most politically connected (the Georgia Triumvirate, Gov.-U. S. Senator Joseph Brown, Gen.-Gov.-U. S. Senator John Gordon, and Gov. Alfred Colquitt) and the wealthiest (the Grant family was Atlanta’s richest family).

Murder in the State Capitol

All of these wealthy and politically-connected Georgians were knee-deep in the heinous and pernicious convict lease system which essentially operated on the basis of judges handing out harsh sentences (usually to the former slaves but now   freedmen) for petty or trumped-up crimes, and then these aforementioned men would lease these “convicts” from the State for a few dollars a year.  These judges were appointed or financed to be elected by the machine Democrats which were controlled by the Georgia Triumvirate.  The railroad industry of Georgia, which was essentially the most lucrative industry at the time, was highly dependent on these convict lessees laying the track and doing all of the heavy labor.  These lessees were used to work the farms, to build walls around a plantation (as in John Gordon’s case), and to work the Joe Brown’s Dade County coal mines.  They were essentially free labor, minus any food and shelter which were marginal at best and deplorable at worst.

Alston exposed the enormous evil of this system, with the attrition rate in some of the camps reaching as high as 25%, men and women being chained together and bastard babies being born in the camps, the squalid condition of the camps themselves, etc.  The northern media picked up on the scandalous report that Representative Alston, as Chairman of the House Penitentiary Committee and someone who had personally visited all of the penitentiary camps, had presented to the Georgia House of Representatives.

To make a longer story more pithy, Alston was murdered (yes, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled it a murder) after being tracked down by a neighbor of his and Sen. John Gordon’s in DeKalb.  Gov. Colquitt apparently told Alston that he would intervene and keep Ed Cox from killing him, but very little was done.  In fact, the author of a book written on Alston’s life and published this past spring by the Mercer University Press, Pamela Hain, wrote that she believed that both Gordon (who was the Grand Wizard of the Klan in Georgia but also Georgia’s most popular post-Civil War politician) and Colquitt (the governor who was at Alston’s side when he was dying with the bullet lodged in his temple) were both at least complicit in the murder of Alston.  Indeed, the love of money is the root of all evil.

Henry Grady, the editor of The Atlanta Daily Constitution, wrote after Alston died that he had never so mourned another’s death as Alston’s.  Alston was responsible for bringing Grady to Atlanta from Rome, Georgia where they became partners in The Atlanta Daily Herald.  Alston was the publisher and Grady was the editor, and this newspaper was considered the “most sprightly” newspaper in the South, almost running The Constitution out of business.  But, after only about six or seven years in existence, it folded for lack of finances.  Its under-capitalization, however, didn’t keep this The Herald, from spending money lavishly and even sending a locomotive to Macon, Georgia each day to deliver the newspaper.  Grady also said that he had never met a more generous man than Alston.  Alston was known for knowing people not just all over Georgia but all over the Union, and his obituary was carried in newspapers, large and small, all over the country, including The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.  In fact, even The New York Times carried an article on Alston’s wife’s death about five years later.

Alston hailed from the Halifax Alstons, also known as the Dueling Alstons, of North Carolina.  They were enormously wealthy, and as Grady noted, they were an “impervious” family which “brooked no contention.”  Alston always wished that, unlike his ancestors, he would not die with his boots on but would die a natural death, after taking care of his wife and four children.  In fact, at his death bed, one sensitive onlooker recalling how Alston had a longing to die without his boots on, leaned over to take off Alston’s boots before he breathed his last breath.

The trial of Ed Cox, the murderer of Alston, was spoken of in the media of the day as “the trial.”  The courtroom was packed and the throngs filled the street, talking incessantly about the Alston murder.  One of the prosecutors was Benjamin Harvey Hill, Jr. whose father served in the U. S. Senate for years, and the lead defense attorney was Congressman Milton Candler, brother to the Coca-Cola magnate (Asa Candler), to a Georgia Supreme Court Justice (John Candler), and to a Methodist Bishop (Warren Candler).  Both side had the most illustrious attorneys working for their respective team.  Cox was found guilty of murder.

For a few years after Alston’s death, the black people of DeKalb County had memorial services commemorating his life and death at his grave site each year.  This was stopped when the Bourbon Democrats got back in full control after Reconstruction and the Black Codes and later Jim Crow laws were passed and the Negro vote in Georgia was disenfranchised.  The memory of Alston was not something that the Bourbon Democrats wanted.

Alston’s funeral on this day, March 13, 135 years ago, was the largest funeral at the time in Decatur, Georgia.  Trains came in from Atlanta and all over the State, bring mourners into Decatur.  The Georgia Speaker of the House, Gus Bacon who was related to Alston and who also went on to become a U. S. Senator from Georgia, spoke at Alston’s Masonic funeral.  He was buried in the Old Decatur Cemetery.  The ante-bellum home that he started building for his wife, Mary Charlotte Magill Alston who hailed from Georgetown and Charleston, South Carolina, in 1856 is considered the second oldest house in Atlanta.  The name of the old plantation is Meadownook, and it is in the National Historic Registry.  It is located on Alston Drive in East Lake across from the East Lake Country which was part of the Alston plantation and is Atlanta’s first country club and now part of the PGA Tour.

Alston’s life was cut short.  He died at 46 years of age.  He was a renown lawyer, publisher, and farmer.  He even had a fish farm.  He was making his mark in politics, and there is speculation that he might himself been planning a statewide run for office.  He had been part of the Charleston Light Dragoons and was at the firing on of Fort Sumter in April of 1861.  He resigned this commission to join up as a Private with the illustrious Morgan’s Raiders and quickly became, because of his skills, General John Morgan’s Acting Adjutant General/Chief of State and later led a battalion.  He was in about 100 battles and never was wounded.  He was well-known throughout the war, by the leadership on both sides.  He was personally acquainted with Jefferson Davis.  In fact, after he wore out General Burnside of the Federal Army about his illegal arrest and imprisonment in a Federal War Prison, he was released.  General Burnside explained to Secretary of State Staten that he released or exchanged Alston because he could think of an innumerable ways to die rather than from the pen of Robert Alston.  When the war ended, Alston was just 32 years old, but he retired a colonel.  In Mary Chestnut Boykins’s famous Civil War diary (the one that was edited by C. Vann Woodward won the Pulitzer Prize), she talked quite a bit in this diary about “the famous Bob Alston.”

Alston was noted by many authors, including Boykins, that he was “gallant” and flamboyant.  But, by the time that he was murdered, he was settling down and coming into his own.  It appeared that he was leaning toward the Independent Democrats (as opposed to the Bourbon Democrats).  He was in the home of Congressman William Felton and his intelligent and outspoken wife, Rebecca Latimer Felton who went on to be sworn in later in life into the U. S. Senate where she became the nation’s first U. S. Senator, if only for a day or two.  Mrs. Felton, who was a great writer, wrote very fondly of Col. Robert A. Alston and feared for his life.  In fact, Alston was in the Felton home in Washington, D. C. the week before he was killed in Atlanta.  The Feltons were leading spokespersons for an Independent Democrat movement.  It appears that he was contemplating a more independent movement of his own, though he was Gordon’s lawyer and was on friendly terms with Colquitt too, though there had been chilly feelings between him and Joseph Brown for years, due in part to the estrangement of Brown and Alston’s uncle, State Senator Augustus Holmes Kenan.  (By the way, there were only 18 State Senators back then.)

Alston was an effective lobbyist in the halls of Congress and personally knew President Hayes.  He had been around men of influence his entire life.  In fact, his grandfather `was a personal friend of Andrew Jackson, and the President Jackson earlier in his life had stayed in the Alston home in Hancock County, Georgia where Robert W. Alston was the wealthiest man in this country which was considered one of the most cultured counties of the day, located right next to the Georgia Capitol in Milledgeville.

In Milledgeville where Alston had lived and gone to the famous Midway Academy while growing up, his uncle, Augustus Holmes Kenan, had entered the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay.  Kenan was a Whig and was opposed to secession and threw away the pen with which he finally signed the Secession Ordinance.  Alston’s cousin, the son of Kenan, later became the Mayor of Milledgeville but was gunned down while in office.  Augustus Holmes Kenan was one of the most noted criminal lawyers in Georgia.  He was elected to the Congressional Congress which met in Montgomery, Alabama.  He later defeated Howell Cobb, former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, for a seat in the Confederate Congress which was to meet in Richmond, Virginia, handing Cobb his only political defeat.

Alston’s grandfather on his mother’s side was Rev. John Howard, who became the Presiding Elder in the Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia.  Howard is credited with whipping up the enthusiasm for the Georgia Female Seminary which became Wesleyan College in Macon, the first college in the country to confer degrees to women.  In 1835, the Methodist Conference in Georgia appointed John Howard to raise money for Manual Labor School in Covington, Georgia and was appointed to the Board of Trustees.  The next year the school was named after Bishop Emory and is now Emory University.  The first obelisk erected by the citizens of Macon, Georgia in the historic Rosehill Cemetery was erected to Rev. John Howard.

Another grandson of Rev. John Howard was William Schley Howard, who was elected several times to the U. S. Congress from Decatur.  Congressman Howard was one of Georgia’s best criminal attorneys and was also the grandfather to Pierre Howard who was elected twice as Georgia Lieutenant Governor.  Congressman Howard was cousin to both U. S. Senator Gus Bacon and to Col. Robert A. Alston.  Unbeknownst to most Georgians is the fact that one of Georgia’s wealthiest blacks and one of the leading black citizens in Georgia was David Tobias Howard, the half brother to Congressman Howard and the first cousin to Col. Robert Alston.  David T. Howard was leader in the movement to build the first black high school in Atlanta, Booker T. Washington High School, the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King.  King attended David T. Howard Elementary School.  Atlanta’s second black high school was named David Tobias Howard High School.  Many luminaries attended this high school, including Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor and one of the namesakes of the Atlanta airport, Vernon Jordan, Bill Clinton’s close advisor and lawyer, Eldrin Bell, Atlanta’s first African American Police Chief and later Commission Chairman of Clayton County, and NBA All Star, Walt (The Clyde) Frazier.  By the way, Congressman Howard and Governor Slaton spoke at the funeral of David T. Howard who was a close associate of W. E. B. DuBois.

Possibly at Robert A. Alston’s funeral was both the young William Schley Howard whose father was Alston’s uncle, Thomas Coke Howard, a man whom Alston was very close to.  Howard had been publisher of the pre-Civil War newspaper, The Intelligencer. He ran many statewide campaigns and held many jobs with the State of Georgia.  He was a neighbor of Govenors Alfred Colquitt and Governor and U. S. Senator John Gordon in the Kirkwood area of Dekalb.  Also possibly attending his cousin’s funeral was the very successful black man, David T. Howard who was 30 at the time.

The former Director of the DeKalb Historical Society told me that he interviewed the very well-known black preacher in the Atlanta area who worked for Alston (along with his family) when he was a youth.  According to what was told to me, Rev. W. Frank Paschal said that as a youth he attended Robert Alston’s funeral on March 13, 1879 and that he also attended the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.  This gentleman lived to be about 112 years of age and credited Alston’s influence over him in going into the ministry.  He attended Central City College in Macon, a seminary for black men.  It was also reported to me by this Director of the DeKalb Historical Society that he baptized Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., in Stockbridge, Georgia and that Daddy King attributed the influence of Rev. Paschal for him going into the ministry.  Paschal’s picture is on the wall, along with the other former pastors of the church, in the building of the West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. King’s close associate, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Jr., was a pastor for many years.

One of Alston’s grand nephews became a Presbyterian minister, Dr. Wallace A. Alston.  Dr. Alston also was President of Agnes Scott College in Decatur for 22 years.  He is buried right next to Col. Alston in the Old Decatur Cemetery.

Two of Alston’s nephews, Robert Cotton Alston and Philip Henry Alston Sr., began a law firm in 1893 which, after some mergers, has become Alston & Bird, one of the largest law firms in the country, with offices all over the world, including London and Hong Kong.  Robert C. Alston also was President of the Georgia Bar Association.  He married Caro duBignon whose family were French Huguenots who fled France because of persecution but did well in this country, eventually owning Jekyll Island.  Robert C. Alston led the efforts for the Atlanta Diocesse of the Episcopal Church to be formed.  He was the chancellor of St. Philip’s Cathedral, the largest Episcopal congregation in America.  The Alston’s house was designed by the famous architect, John Neil Reed, and is on historic tours of Atlanta.  The Corporate Law Chair at the University of Georgia’s Law School is the Robert C. Alston Chair.

One of Philip H. Alston, Sr.’s sons, Philip H. Alston, Jr., was quite an attorney also.  But, he made quite a mark in politics as well.  A little known peanut farmer came to his office one day asking for help in raising money to run for governor.  Alston took him under his wings, raised him lots of money and chaired his campaigns, both for Governor and President.  President Jimmy Carter appointed Philip H. Alston, Jr., to be the United States Ambassador to Australia.  There is a Philip H. Alston, Jr., Chair in the College of Education at the University of Georgia, the alma mater of Philip Alston, Jr.  The first occupant of this chair was former Governor and former U. S. Senator Zell Miller.

Nephew Robert C. Alston and Eugene Black, son-in-law of Henry Grady amd member of the Federal Reserve Board, led the efforts to have the Georgia Senate honor Rep. Robert A. Alston over 40 years after he was gunned down in the Georgia Capitol.  The Georgia Senate passed a resolution honoring “the martyr,” as Georgia’s first State Historian, Lucius Lamar Knight, called Alston in about a 25 page essay written in his honor.  The Georgia Senate asked that a portrait of Alston be given to the State, which was done.  The portrait hung for years in the Stare’s library in the rotunda of the Capitol and was moved with the library in its move to Washington Street.  Reportedly Governor Sonny Perdue asked for a portrait in the Governor’s Mansion’s parlor of a Georgian who stood up for right against wrong.  The Alston portrait was moved to the Governor’s Mansion’s parlor to fill this request.

When the National Cathedral was completed in Washington, D. C. in the early 1930s, a flag was donated by each State in honor of a citizen who made significant contributions to that State and was hung in the Cathedral.  Georgia’s flag was dedicated in honor of Robert A. Alston.

This article was typed hastily, trying to beat the clock while it is still March 13.  So, please forgive any typos – and hey, please leave me a comment to point them out.

One bit of trivia:  Robert Augustus Alston was probably the only person who was at the very beginning of the American Civil War at the firing on of Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor and at the last regular meeting of the Confederate government in Washington, Georgia, as the government was on the run.  Alston was Morgan’s adjutant and later Battalion commander and it was Morgan’s Raiders who were assigned to escort the escaping Confederate government through Georgia.  Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, was captured in Ocilla, Georgia.

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11 thoughts on “Georgia Martyr, Robert A. Alston, Was Buried 135 Years Ago Today, on March 13.

  1. ALSTON JORDAN BECKMAN on said:

    ROBERT A. ALSTON WAS MY GREAT, GREAT, GREAT UNCLE. MY MOTHER WAS BIRNIE ALSTON JORDAN, DAUGHTER OF PHILIP ALSTON, SR.
    Enjoyed your article so much. My daughter, Jordan, lives in Savannah. She is working on a masters in Public history. Your information came up in a Google search of family information. Would love it if you have other information on the Alston’s. My daughter is very interested in Southern women history.

    • Just me. on said:

      Dear Alston,
      Please forgive my delay in responding. Have been working on a rather large book about to be published. Yes, Philip Alston. Sr. was Robert Alston’s nephew. Philip, Sr. had many brothers, one of whom was Robert Cotten Alston who was President of the Georgia Bar Association, I believe, in 1935. He was quite the legal scholar and the Corporate Law Chair at the UGA Law School is named after him. An Educational Chair at UGA is named after Philip Alston, Jr. who essentially raised the big money for Jimmy Carter when he ran for and was elected Governor of Georgia in 1970 and when he ran for and was elected President of the USA in 1976. Philip Alston, Sr. teamed up with his brother in the practice of law in Atlanta and formed Alston & Alston. This firm metamorphosized, via a few mergers, into Alston & Bird today, as I am sure that you know. As you well know, it is a mega-firm with offices all over the world. A & B is very big in intellectual property and has luminaries like Senator Bob Dole on its payroll. Robert and Philip, Sr.’s father, Judge Augustus Holmes Alston, was a statewide judge in Alabama. The two sons about whom we are addressing lived in Eufaula but migrated to Atlanta to make their name in the legal arena — and they did quite well! Don’t hesitate to contact me, don’t hesitate to write to me at drjohntrotter@yahoo.com. Again, I am sorry for the delay! It is always good to hear from relatives!

      • Sistie Hudson on said:

        Dr. Trotter,
        I have been contacted by our local library here in Sparta Georgia concerning the Alston family. I am a lover of Hancock County history and currently Chairman of the Commissioners here. I am very familiar with the family home here—quite a beautiful place and currently occupied and owned by Helen Martin, a 94 year old lady who has been here for several years now. There is an author is Florida who is gathering information/pictures on the First Ladies of Florida and she would love to have a picture of Robert Alston’s daughter who married the Governor of Florida before the book goes to press. I would like to forward you the email that was forwarded to me—maybe you can assist this lady—-the Alston family has quite a history, and I would love for this book to complete. I did not know that this book existed (about the murder at the Capitol) until today, but I had heard about the infamous murder. I served in the State House for 16 years but now home serving my county. Would love to connect with you and your family history.
        Sincerely,
        Sistie Hudson
        P.O. Box 58
        Sparta, GA 31087

      • Just me. on said:

        Dear Sistie, Thanks for writing. I am sorry for my tardiness in responding. I have been very busy and just looked at my emails last night. I presume that you are referring to the house in downtown Sparta which is two or three blocks from the main road. Mr. Dickens lived in this house at one time. He was the former superintendent. He was probably some kin to America Amanda Dickson, who, at one time was considered the richest or one of the richest “black” (she was mixed) ladies in America. Robert West Alston (my fourth great grandfather) had close to 15 kids, but I think that three died in infancy. My great-great-great grandfather, Willis Alston, was his eldest surviving child. I believe it was Philoclea who married Governor David Walker of Florida whose term barely overlapped the Civil War. By then, most of my Alston clan had moved to the Tallahassee area. They dueled quite a bit. Many ended up getting killed by dueling. One of the little brothers was accidentally shot with a dueling pistol in Hancock County and died at 15 years old. His name was Gideon. Augustus, his older brother, was killed by Leigh Read, when Augustus’s gun misfired in a duel. Augustus was a leading light among the Whigs, and Read was a Democrat-Republican leader and was elected Speaker of the House. But, brother Willis revenged Augustus’s death by killing Read, and then he basically bought his way out of jail (they were enormously wealthy) and fled to the Republic of Texas where many Georgians had already relocated. Eventually he was killed out there, but not before he killed Dr. Stewart who had been spreading “rumors” about him killing people. They were called “the Dueling Alstons” and “the Halifax Alstons.” Robert West Alston, from what I read in a history of Hancock County, was the county’s largest landowner and slave owner — and I presume the wealthiest man in the county. He loved to race his horses. Sparta had a race track and he would put forth his challenges in the newspapers in the area. I believe that he had a big plantation house in the Shoulderbone area. I don’t have a photo of Philoclea. Pam Hain, who wrote Murder in the State Capitol, may have one. I gave her a copy of the photo of Robert Alston that she used on the cover of the book. He was a fiery gentleman but also had a sweet and genial side…which, no doubt, came from his Howard blood. He is my great-great grandfather. (I really want to finish that article in TheGeorgiaCitizen.net. That is really Part I. I wrote that a couple trips back to Brazil.) My great grandmother, Elizabeth Howard Alston Trotter, was his first child and the apple of his eye. My grandfather, Robert Alston Trotter, Sr., was his first grandchild and was born in the Alston house (Meadownook in East Lake) in 1883. This is the second oldest house in Atlanta and is on the National Historic Register. I have not seen your comments yet on the blog, but I will read them today. When Jed sent me a note about you, I told him that I had already confirmed your Friend Request, and I thought that your name sounded familiar. Now I know from where. You were a State Rep for years. Well, my Georgia roots are definitely in Hancock County. Willis married Robert Alston’s mother in “Greensborough” in December (I think) of 1828. The bride’s father, Rev. John Howard, married them. He is my fourth great grandfather and Pierre’s second great grandfather. He and his son, Thomas Coke Howard, are buried in the historic Rose Hill Cemetery on Riverside Drive in Macon. His obelisk put up by the people of Macon was the first obelisk in that cemetery. He fanned the flames for the establishment of the Georgia Female Seminary (now Wesleyan) and was appointed by the Methodist Conference to raise money for the Manual Labor School in Covington which became Emory College the next year. He was the Presiding Elder of the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Macon, and Macon (named, by the way, after Nathaniel Macon, the brother to Robert Alston’s grandmother) was where Robert Augustus Alston was born on December 31 (my birthday too), 1832. So, I think that it was fitting for the Mercer University Press of Macon to publish his biography.

        I need to run, but don’t be a stranger. Write to me or call me at any time. My cell phone number is 770.715.4912.

        Take care and thanks for writing,

        John R. Alston Trotter.

  2. Sistie Hudson on said:

    WOW! So much history and love the way you write! I “eat,sleep, and breath” Hancock County history, but cannot claim “native status”—sure wish I could! My family moved here in 1953(I had just turned 2) when Daddy finished his internship at Fort Sam Houston——we moved here and Daddy went into private practice with Dr. Gene Tanner. My Dad’s name was Dr. George F. Green and he practiced here for almost 40 years. He delivered some 14,000 babies and took patients “from the cradle to the grave”–as he often said! He was a much loved man and I have done everything that he did politically——-City Council, Mayor, County Commissioner, State House, and back home as Commission Chairman. I think the information that I have shows the original Robert Alston having 14 children, and I think it says that 3 died violently. I will be happy to scan what I have and send to you. I also noticed that there are 3 boxes of papers of Alston material, I believe, in Decatur—I am sure you have checked it out—belongs to the Historical Society there. Let me know is you see this post and also the other that I posted the other day. I have known Jed for quite some time—–he is younger than I, but served with my father in the General Assembly. Nice guy! Let’s do stay in touch! Email is usually best for me at sistiehudson@aol.com.

    • Just me. on said:

      Absolutely. Let’s stay in touch. I am familiar with the Alston collection at the DeKalb Historical Society in the old courthouse in Decatur. They may have added some materials since I have been there, though. Yes, Jed is a very nice guy. I have known him since our high school days. His mother and my mother lived in the Covenant Woods home in Columbus. My mother, as you know, just turned 90. Thanks, Sistie! Hail, hail Hancock!

  3. Robert W Trotter on said:

    Thank you Dr. Trotter for your detailed article . Robert A Alston was also my great great grandfather on on my fathers side, my great grand mother Elizabeth A Trotter was his daughter. I always enjoy reading all the historic documents regarding his great life. Regards Robert

    • Just me. on said:

      Elizabeth (aka Bessie) was my great grandmother as well. Her and Dr. Robert Walter Trotter’s first child, Robert Alston Trotter, Sr., was my grandfather. I am guessing that Thomas, their youngest child, was your grandfather. Am I correct?

      Great hearing from another cousin. Please stay in touch.

      Take care,

      John.

      • Rob Trotter on said:

        Yes sir Tom Trotter was my grandfather Thomas was my uncle and Robert Sr was my father all from Madison.I also have the family bible that belonged my great grandmother you are welcome to see it anytime. I will keep in touch thanks for your time. Robert

      • Just me. on said:

        Rob, I met your grandfather (“Uncle T. T.,” as my father called him) and your grandmother back in the 1970s when I was in graduate school at UGA. I would cut across the state from Columbus (before Interstate I-185 had been built). I would take Hwy 441 north to Athens from Madison. The Trotter stone was in the front yard of their home. I stopped by and spent some time with them. On many occasions, I have been to the Trotter plot behind the Methodist Church on the main drag. I presume that your father is buried in the plot or is that your uncle’s grave with the airplane symbol on the headstone? I know that Mary Charlotte, our grandfathers’ sister, and her husband Charley Tunison are buried there along with our great grandparents, Dr. Robert Walter Trotter and Elizabeth Howard Alston Trotter. Dr. Denny Trotter, our grandfathers’ brother, is buried next to his parents. He was named after his uncle, Daniel Denny Alston. My father was named after Dr. Denny who died very young from a ruptured appendix which got infected. My grandparents, for strange reason, spelled my father’s name with an “ie” instead of “y.” My father is Daniel Dennie Trotter, Sr. My brother is Daniel Dennie Trotter, Jr. His son and grandson are III and IV. So, as you can see, there are six Daniel Denny(ie)s in the family — six generations in a row. My two sons are Robert Augustus Alston Trotter and Matthew Alston Tyndall Trotter. Are you Robert “Walter” Trotter? I think that I remember seeing “W” as your middle initial. I would like to see the family Bible one day. I do get through Madison a couple of times a year. Beautiful town. Daddy was born there in 1925. My grandfather was a druggist (pharmacist) and moved away from Madison when my father was two years old. They lived for a little while in Rockdale County before moving to Muscogee County where “Doc Trotter” was a fixture in Columbus at the East Highland Drug Store. I think that he worked at one other drug store. He was pretty well known. Through the years, I have asked some older folks in Atlanta who were from Columbus if they remembered “Doc Trotter.” They did. In fact, one guy said that he actually delivered drugs for him on his bike. My grandfather, a very jovial man who insisted on eating his dessert first when eating his meals, was a notoriously bad driver. For most of his career, he would be driven to the pharmacy. He was old. He actually was born in the Alston house (Meadownook in East Lake on Alston Drive) in 1883 and died when I was four years old. When he drove, the police officers would warn the milkmen and others saying, “Be careful today. Doc Trotter is driving today.” So goes the story. LOL! He was a big man. I do remember climbing up on his lap as he was sitting in his Morris Chair, and he would allow me to puff (not inhale, mind you! LOL!) on his Pall Mall cigarettes. He was a character. Your grandfather was a much smaller in statue. He had a very nice smile and I could tell that he had a very genial spirit. My father always spoke highly of his “Uncle T. T.” My personal email is drjohntrotter@yahoo.com. Please drop me a line and leave your phone number and perhaps we can get together one day for coffee in Madison. If you are on Facebook, just type in John Rhodes Alston Trotter, and my name will pop up quickly. We can keep up with each other there too, if you can stand my political rantings. LOL!

      • rob trotter on said:

        John, what a small world we live in, sadly that is my father buried in the Trotter /Tunison plot ,I remember my grand mother speaking of you and Daniel Dennie Sr or as she called him DD many times.I have the stone in a prominent place at my house. Thanks for the history of your side of the family,I will email you after the holidays when I get back home and will look forward getting together and talking about the great Trotter heritage .Thanks Rob

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