Tag Archives: Haralson County

The Draketown Tragedy-Draketown, Georgia

A few months ago, I decided to drive through the community of Draketown in Haralson County, Georgia. I stopped driving the second I saw this column in the front yard of a home. My first thought was, why was someone buried in a front yard with such an elaborate monument?

When I got home, I started researching and discovered it was a memorial to Alice “Wildie” Stewart. Wildie was the wife of the local Methodist preacher, Reverend Robert Stewart, who had gained the nickname of “The Raiding Parson” because he would search out the stills of local moonshiners and destroy them. Thankfully, a book titled Draketown Tragedy was written about the events surrounding Alice “Wildie” Stewart’s death. The book and supporting newspaper documentation provided the information needed for this post.

On Thursday, November 13, 1924, local bootleggers, and likely the KKK, showed up one night at the Stewart’s home, the Methodist parsonage, to kidnap him. Wildie grabbed her pistol and stepped out to the front porch to protect her husband. She was shot in the process. The bootleggers immediately ran off. As this was a rural town, Reverend Stewart was required to drive his wife to Atlanta to get care.

From the November 16, 1924 issue of The Atlanta Constitution, a photo of Reverend Stewart with his two daughters, Lorene (L) and Tannie (R).

Wildie became known as the first woman to die for the cause of prohibition. Her story was carried in newspapers throughout Georgia and surrounding states. The governor of Georgia, Clifford Walker, offered $200 for the arrest of her killers. A memorial plaque was placed in her honor at the Wesley Memorial Hospital in Atlanta commemorating her heroism.

The manhunt began using the identifications made by Reverend Stewart and several men were arrested. Yet, the identification of some of the men by Tannie, the 17-year-old daughter, was ignored as she identified some of the known local Ku Klux Klan members. While not shared publicly, the youngest daughter Lorene did tell a childhood friend that she found KKK robes under her father’s bed.

Interestingly, the KKK seemed to do what they could to prove they weren’t associated with Stewart’s death. They gave the family $50 and wrote a resolution that was signed by “John B. Gordon, Klan, Number 2, Realm of Georgia” (p. 124). Additionally, they helped fundraise to erect the column in Stewart’s honor. Hundreds dressed in their robes attended the unveiling of the marker.

Advertisement in the February 6, 1927 Columbus Ledger

There were several arrests made in the murder of Alice Stewart. Reverend Robert Stewart served as the prosecutor for the case even though there was no mention of him having any legal experience. Once the accused were brought to trial, all were acquitted because of their alibis, which according to news reports, were often the others accused in the murder.

Despite the acquittal, the story of the “Raiding Parson” and the death of his wife were made into a movie by the Atlanta film studio, Winn Studio. Stewart would often attend showings, which would often be sold out.

After reading the book, which I think is a good one regarding sharing local lore, I was left with so many questions. What was Reverend Stewart’s connection to the KKK? Why did they show up at his house? Why did Stewart serve as the prosecutor? Were members of the jury moonshiners and/or members of the KKK? It seems odd all of the men were acquitted since it was such a small town and everyone knows each other. The jury believed the alibis of known bootleggers over a reverend. The case is a weird one.

Chance Grave House-Haralson County, Georgia

Some taphophiles will differentiate between grave houses and grave shelters. Grave houses look like a home (see Nadine’s playhouse), whereas grave shelters are wooden with fences and a simple roof. I don’t differentiate them. One is just a more elaborate cover than the other.

Grave houses are primarily found in the southern United States, especially those resembling a picket fence.

This grave house is located in the District Line United Methodist Church cemetery. it is the final resting place of William H. Chance (1835-1862) and Mary Chance (1835-1905.)

Key’s Castle-Budapest, Georgia

Outside of Tallapoosa, Georgia, there was a town called Budapest, Georgia. It was founded in 1882 after a real estate developer invited Hungarian immigrants to develop this area into wine country. The area flourished until prohibition was passed in 1907. Remnants of this area still exist today (a cemetery being one of those). Key’s Castle, named this because a descendant of Francis Scott Key purchased it, started as the Catholic Rectory. The home has been purchased in recent years, and it is under a restoration process.