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July 16, 2015

Locomotive Chase Train From Civil War Is Staying In Atlanta

By Hilary Butschek

The Marietta Daily Journal

Kennesaw, GA (AP) A Cobb County lawmaker says he won’t fight a state agency’s ruling that one of the trains involved in The Great Locomotive Chase is owned by the city of Atlanta.

The decision comes after about three months of research to determine the owner of the Texas, now housed in Atlanta, by Steve Stancil, the state property officer for the State Properties Commission, and legal advice from Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb County.

In April, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, advocated for the train to move to Kennesaw’s Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. Ehrhart said Kennesaw, known as Big Shanty at the time, is where The Great Locomotive Chase began and where the General, the second train involved, is on display.

However, Ehrhart said he can’t deny the decision by the State Properties Commission.

The famous train The Texas, built in 1856, will stay on display in Atlanta, GA

``I’m not one to stare a set of facts in the face and argue with them. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support our case,’’ Ehrhart said.

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, who also advocated to bring the Texas to his city, suggested Kennesaw work with Atlanta in the future to bring the history of the two trains together.

``I hope that the city of Atlanta will provide the proper care for this great artifact,’’ Mathews said.

``It’s too bad that it’s not going to be on display anytime soon in Kennesaw next to the engine it chased down in the Great Locomotive Chase, the General. We wish them the best of success in their new location and hope that we can find ways in the future to collaborate together and help each other share in telling possibly the best story of the Civil War.’’

Even though the locomotive may belong to Atlanta, Ehrhart said it still has a place in Kennesaw.

``That was the actual location of the Great Locomotive Chase with the General and the Texas, with the Yankees coming down here and stealing our train and us chasing them. It’s a fun history. It was a great anecdote to the Civil War right here in this area. There’s just so much history, and I would have liked to see it come home there,’’ Ehrhart said.

Ehrhart said he’s disappointed, but he doesn’t think there’s any way to fight the decision that would lead to victory for Kennesaw.

Kennesaw has no rights to claim ownership to the locomotive based on his research, Stancil said in a statement.

``After a review by the Georgia Department of Law, we believe there is little question that the Texas belongs to the city of Atlanta,’’ Stancil wrote.

The General is owned by the state and is on permanent loan to Kennesaw, according to Mathews.

The Texas has been displayed at the Cyclorama in Grant Park since 1911.

The train The General, in Kennesaw, GA

On June 30, the Cyclorama, which features the world’s largest oil painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta, painted in 1885 and 1886 by artists from Germany, closed.

The painting and the Texas will move to a newly constructed wing of the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead set to open in early 2017.

The Texas was built in 1856 for the Western & Atlantic Railroad, based in Atlanta and owned by the state, according to the Atlanta History Center. The Texas was put to work transporting goods during the war in 1863 after being involved in The Great Locomotive Chase, the history center reports.

With the war over, in 1890, the locomotive was one of 45 trains leased to the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway. The train was worn down over the years and wasn’t located again until 1903 when Atlanta historian Wilbur Kurtz found it had been ``condemned’’ and was in Emerson.

A civic group called the Ladies of Atlanta asked in 1907 for the train to be donated to the city of Atlanta, and the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway agreed in 1908. The train has belonged to Atlanta ever since, according to the Atlanta History Center.

The Great Locomotive Chase, the title of the 1956 Disney film depicting the historic event, happened 153 years ago. On April 12, 1862, a crew of Union and civilian men led by James Andrew, known as Andrews’ Raiders, stole the General while it was stopped in Kennesaw, Stancil said.

``The Yankees jumped on the train and took off toward Chattanooga with it,’’ Stancil said. ``Of course, their idea was to knock down the telegraph lines and burn bridges or do anything they could to disrupt the rail line.’’

Confederates soon embarked on a miles-long chase after the General, some on foot, others in carts or other modes of transportation.

Eventually, the Confederates boarded the Texas, and, after a nearly 90-mile chase, caught up with the General just before reaching Chattanooga. Some of the Union soldiers caught were later hanged, according to a description of the chase from The Southern Museum. Other Union soldiers involved in the event were given Medals of Honor posthumously.

Even with the official decision from the state, one Cobb County historian is still yearning for the train to return to Cobb.
Dan Cox, founder and CEO of the Marietta Museum of History, said he would like to have the Texas, too. Cox’s museum is housed in Kennesaw House off Marietta Square, once a Civil War-era hotel in which several of Andrews’ Raiders stayed on the night prior to the hijacking.

``I think it probably needs to come to Marietta to tell you the truth,’’ Cox said. ``Kennesaw really doesn’t need it as bad as we do. I figure if we could get the Texas here, it would help tourism between both cities because people would come to see this one and then go see that one.’’

Cox admitted that ``everyone wants it’’ and the debate about who the locomotive belongs to has been ongoing for about 10 years.

``I know Kennesaw wants it. They’re a great place. They’ve probably got one of the best museums in the state up there, and it’s very well-done, very well-organized, very well-funded. But, I just thought if it’s going to be moved and Atlanta didn’t want it, it would be ideal for us to get it because it certainly would increase tourism here in town and give us a hook to get people off the highway like the General has up there,’’ Cox said.

Maria Saporta, editor of The Saporta Report, published a column Wednesday written by Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center, titled ``Sorry Cobb—Atlanta’s identity is intertwined with our locomotive— `the Texas.’’’

Saporta writes at the end of the article that Cobb County saw the move of the Cyclorama as a chance to steal the Texas.

``The change of location gave Atlanta’s neighbors to the north (Cobb County) a glimmer of hope that they could kidnap the Texas, just like they did the Atlanta Braves,’’ Saporta wrote.

Ehrhart said he doesn’t appreciate the comment and characterized it as the attitude of ``poor winners.’’

``You don’t celebrate on the court in front of the other team. That’s just rude,’’ Ehrhart said.

After 73 Years, Woman Denied Library Card In NC Gets One

By SARAH NAGEM

The News & Observer

of Raleigh

Raleigh, NC (AP) Pearl Thompson was a student at Shaw University in 1942 when she was told she couldn’t check out a book from Raleigh’s public library because she was black.

She was sent to the library’s basement, where she had to wait for a staff member to bring her the book she was assigned to read for a history class. Blacks weren’t issued library cards, so she had to stay in the basement to read it.
Seventy-three years later, Thompson finally has her library card.

She entered the Cameron Village Regional Library, aided by a walker, to attend a ceremony in her honor.

``It’s going to take me awhile to get to you,’’ Thompson told the library staff, ``but it’s been a long journey anyway.’’

Pearl Thompson, right, gets her once-denied library card

Thompson, 92, grew up on Lenoir Street in Raleigh, the oldest of four children. She said her father was the first African-American doorman at the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel downtown.

When her father died of pneumonia, Thompson said, her mother started working to support the family and pay her children’s college tuition.

Thompson can’t remember which book she was assigned to read for that class. But Shaw didn’t have it, so she went to the Olivia Raney Library, although she knew it was only for whites.

``I expected to go in and get a book,’’ she said.

The Olivia Raney Library was Raleigh’s first public library. A separate library was established in 1935 on Hargett Street to serve blacks. That library eventually became the Richard B. Harrison Library on New Bern Avenue, said librarian Wanda Cox-Bailey.

The Harrison library merged with the white libraries in the 1960s, Cox-Bailey said.

After she graduated from Shaw, Thompson taught in Raleigh’s segregated black schools for 12 years. Then she moved to Ohio with her husband.

Thompson now lives in an assisted-living facility in Cincinnati. Her daughter, Deborah Thompson, said her mother has kidney disease and heart problems.

Thompson made a wish list of things she wants to do. On that list: coming home to North Carolina for a visit.

And getting the library card she was denied so many years ago.

As a teacher, Thompson said, she was determined to give black children every opportunity to read. She wasn’t afraid to ask for what she needed to make that happen.

Cameron Village Library

When a school principal in Raleigh said they were out of money, Thompson recalled, she went to the superintendent to ask for more.

A big truck showed up at the school, packed with paper, pencils, chalk, new desks and so much more, she said.

Later, Thompson traveled around to the city’s African-American schools to help students. If there was no classroom space for her, she’d set up shop wherever she could.

``I tried to expose them to everything I knew,’’ Thompson said of her students.

Ann Burlingame, deputy director of Wake County Public Libraries, said she was thrilled when Deborah Thompson reached out about getting a library card for her mother.

``I just feel like this woman was denied access to a library and a book,’’ Burlingame said. ``I just wanted the opportunity to rectify that, not just for her but for us as the library system.’’

Deborah Thompson said her mother loves to learn.

``That’s the legacy that she leaves,’’ she said.

Pearl Thompson could have spent the past seven decades being angry about what happened to her at the Olivia Raney Library, which now serves as a local history library.

But that’s not her style.

``I don’t hold any kind of hate in my heart, because that doesn’t do it,’’ she said. ``That doesn’t get you there.’’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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