HOGANSVILLE — What was a long night of research turned into a historic discovery for Dan Read, co-owner of Blue Train Books.
Last year, Read did some research with a historical database and typed in “Hogansville” just to see what would come up. The results showed the names of three black Hogansville-area veterans. but None of them were featured on Calvin Hipp Park’s Veterans Memorial, which includes the names of well-known area veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and Korea.
The three discovered veterans, all of whom served in World War I, were Pvt. Otis Hill (died April 11, 1919), Pvt. Wyatt Spearman (died October 14, 1918) and Pvt. Marshall Towns (died 30 September 1918).
“I entered Hogansville [into] the database, and there they were,” Read said.
After the discovery, he contacted Claude A. McKibben and Sons Funeral Home and former Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz, who went through the steps to have their names included in the memorial.
“They all took it very seriously,” noted Read.
During the Hogansville Post 152 annual Memorial Day celebrations Monday, Post 152 Commander Mark Shreve accepted a plaque commemorating Hill. The plaque is on display at Post 152. Read received a plaque honoring veteran John I. Todd, for whom Post 152 is named.
According to information from the Troup County Archives, the three are included History of Troup County, written in 1933 by Clifford L. Smith. According to Smith, Spearman was white, although his military registration card says he was black. Both Hill and Towns were Black and Hill was from Hogansville while Towns was from LaGrange.
According to Spearman’s registration card, he lived in Trimble Township, near Hogansville. He was born in Grantville and was working as a farmer at the time of his employment.
Towns’ registration card states that he was from LaGrange and was born on August 26, 1895 in the township of Louise between Hogansville and LaGrange. At the time of his draft, he was married with one child and working at the Cotton Duck Mill.
There was no further information about Hill. George Bailey, the emcee of the Post 152 Memorial Day celebration, said there was a Hill family in Hogansville, but it was a different branch than Otis Hill.
Lewis Powell, an archivist for the Troup County Archives, noted that none of the three appeared in a local newspaper and did not appear to be buried in Troup County.
Also present at the ceremony was Rev. George Collins, Division 9’s Coastal Commissioner, as the guest speaker at the ceremony. Collins has served in the US Coast Guard for over 30 years and is currently serving in the Coast Guard. Collins gave a history and a description of the Coast Guard’s work in the military. The ceremony was accompanied by patriotic music by Atlanta saxophonist Christopher King.
Read is still searching for surviving family members of the three recently honored veterans. Anyone who may be a relative or knows of possible relatives can contact Post 152 at (706) 637-5742 or email the LaGrange Daily News to [email protected]