Carpetbagger or Scalawag?

Back in January, I published a post entitled Intriguing Items and in it I discussed some of the mysterious and intriguing items that I had found during my search of the newspaper archives for my Dobbs family in Georgia. One item concerned a mine in Cobb County that was dubbed the Dobbs’ Goldmine and another item was about a plantation located down in Sumner County Georgia. It is the latter item that I am here to report is now a mystery solved.

The first item that I came across back in January was titled “Plantation for Sale” and it intrigued me to the point where I could not get it out of my mind. I found the same item printed twice in an Augusta Georgia newspaper in the late 1860s. It was in the Augusta Triweekly Constitutionalist Newspaper (January 8, 1867)

The blurb appearing on the far-right column of page 1 is signed by David Dobbs and states “I am offering for sale, my plantation, situated about 4 miles south of Americus, containing 659 ½ acres, 400 of which is cleared and in good order. A good dwelling house and all necessary outbuildings on the place, and well supplied with water. A bargain can be had by early application. For further information apply to D. W. Lewis who is my agent to sell.”

What I know now is that this was in fact my 3rd great-grandfather, David Dobbs, and he was in fact selling a 659-acre plantation located down in Sumter county in southwest Georgia. Previously, I knew that my direct Dobbs family-owned plantations in Elbert County and in Cobb County. My Prothro ancestors owned plantations in Georgia and in South Carolina, but until now I had no knowledge of their owning land in anywhere else in Georgia. The census records showed that my Dobbs family stayed put in Marietta until my great, great-grandmother Martha Josephine Dobbs died in 1928.

How they acquired the land in Sumner County, I do not know. Yet apparently, they did not sell the land in 1867 because I later found an item that indicated that the land was owned by the Dobbs family 11 years later.

The second item appeared in the Americus Weekly Sumter Republican and was dated October 4, 1878:

The last paragraph reads “Also – lot of land number 157 in the 16th district of Sumner County. Levied on as the property of David J Dobbs to satisfy fi fa issued from the Superior Court of Sumner County in the favor of Alexander Sharp and Elizabeth black versus David J Dobbs. Property pointed out in the said fi fa.” Signed W. H. Cobb, Deputy Sheriff

David J. Dobbs was my great, great grandfather and son of David. He died in July 1877 at the age of forty-two. He appears not to have left a will as I have not found one in a search of the Georgia state probate records.

(Note: I have since learned where the Cobb county probate records are kept online. They are behind a paywall located at a website that looks like it was built back in 1995. They want $150 to allow access – no refunds. I will save this little gem for later post…)

The legal term “fi fa”, short for Writ of Fieri Facias, refers to official recording of lien on a property for an unpaid debt such as back taxes or an unpaid loan. Perhaps a loan taken out to pay back taxes? Many a southern plantation owner owned back taxes after the Civil War and many a Republican scalawag took advantage of the situation.

Then the other day, I found yet another item in the same newspaper dated over a year later. The item appearing in the Americus Weekly Sumter Republican was dated October 17, 1879. This item confirmed for me that the David Dobbs mentioned in the first item was indeed my third great-grandfather and that the D. J. Dobbs mentioned in second item was indeed my great, great-grandfather.

What this item says is that a portion of the 659-acre plantation was being sold to satisfy a ruling against the estate of D.J. Dobbs. The item recognizes that this plantation known the Dobbs Farm was now the property of my great great-grandmother, Mattie J. Dobbs and that there was a tenant currently living on the property. The forced sale of a portion of the land was to satisfy a ruling in the Cobb County court in favor of someone named George F Gober.

My ancestor D.J. Dobbs died at a rather early age. It is unknown what the cause of death was. Nevertheless, I imagine that war must have taken a toll on him and his family. I know that this is all now ancient history, but I would just like to ask one thing: Was this Mr. Gober a carpetbagger or a Scalawag?

Of course, I am joking. The only thing I know about Mr. Gober is what I have read in the papers.

Mr. Gober was born in Cobb county, so he certainly could not have been a carpetbagger. He made his fortune in Georgia peaches and was a marble dealer who lived in Marietta. He was also a judge but for an unknown reason turned down an appointment to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1902. In the 1890s, he was charged with corruption but was acquitted by the Georgia state legislature. For many years, he taught law for the University of Georgia.

In 1914, Judge Gober was struck by an automobile crossing the street in Marietta. This was reported in the November 6, 1914 edition of the Atlanta Constitution. Ironically, the police officer who responded to the accident was a member of the Dobbs family – Sgt. L. S. Dobbs. I do not recognize the name; nevertheless, he was probably a cousin of D. J. Dobbs.

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