I mentioned several weeks ago that I would write more on the Mitchell and Fitzgerald families. Today let’s talk about the Mitchells.
Margaret’s great-great-grandfather, Phillip Fitzgerald, came to Fayette County about 1835.
He owned property and businesses in Fayetteville, and his home place, “Rural Home,” was down the road on the present McDonough Road where the Thames Dairy Farm is currently located. Originally he lived in Fayette County, but in 1858 this became Clayton County.
Though born in Atlanta in 1900, Margaret would spend her summers with relatives at “Rural Home” and listening to their stories of the War Between The States, which took place from 1861 to 1865. In 1864 war skirmishes came through this area of Fayette and Clayton counties and her aunts and uncles probably has some first-hand stories.
She also learned that her great-grandmother, Anne Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was brought into Fayetteville on Sunday afternoons, by horse and buggy of course, to attend The Fayetteville Academy, which was located on the spot now occupied by the Fayetteville City Hall. She would board across the street. History has always believed this was at the Bennett home, and then she would be taken back to her home on Friday afternoons.
When Margaret compiled “Gone With The Wind” she remembered these stories and at the bottom of page 4 of the original edition, one finds “Stuart and Brent (the Tarleton twins) considered their last expulsion a fine joke, and Scarlett, who had not willingly opened a book since leaving the Fayetteville Female Academy the year before, thought it just as amusing as they did.”
The actual academy, The Fayetteville Academy, was begun in 1855 by one Colonel James F. Johnson and others. However, it was always co-ed.
Col. Johnson and his wife, Martha Holliday, she was the aunt of the “Doc” Holliday of Western fame, moved to Jonesboro when it became Clayton County, as she felt that area would be more accepting of her social events. I believe their house is still in existence in Jonesboro.
Evidently we were not very socially inclined here in Fayetteville 150 years ago.