Montgomery Morgan Folsom

Montgomery Morgan Folsom (1857-1899)
Montgomery M. Folsom was the eldest son of Dr. James Roundtree Folsom and Rachel Inman Swain. He was a grandson of Randal Folsom and great grandson of Lawrence Armstrong Folsom, one of the pioneer settlers of Lowndes County, GA. On his mother’s side he was a grandson of Sarah Wooten and Morgan G. Swain, early residents of Troupville, GA.

Montgomery M. Folsom was a poet and a writer of the Wiregrass section of Georgia who contributed to both Georgia and New York newspapers. He was a prolific writer of prose and poetry, which was widely published and read.  He was a protege’ of Henry Grady, outspoken white supremacist and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution.  Folsom’s works captured the spirit of his early life in old Berrien County and the oral history of Wiregrass pioneers and slaves.

Among other topics, Folsom wrote about the Withlacoochee River, Troupville, Coffee Road, the formation of Lowndes County,  the Battle of Brushy Creek, fire hunts, and early Wiregrass Methodists.

His literary writing seems clearly influenced by the work of Joel Chandler Harris; his creative period coincides almost exactly with Harris’ tenure as assistant editor and lead editorial writer at the Atlanta Constitution. In some of Folsom’s stories, his use of dialect and appropriation of African-American culture could be subject to the same criticism as Harris’ Uncle Remus stories.

Montgomery M. Folsom

Montgomery M. Folsom

 

Born in Berrien County, GA on January 31, 1857, he was baptized by Reverend Payton P. Smith at Salem Church near Hahira, GA; He was married in New Pleasant Hill Church, Colquitt County, GA, November 13, 1879 to Frances Edna Croft, daughter of Mary Ann Hiers and William Nathaniel Croft, born in Colquitt County, GA, July 15, 1860.

Children:

  1. Mamie Leona Folsom – Born near Hempstead, Colquit County, GA, August 25, 1881; married in Atlanta, GA, September 15, 1898, to Dr. Frank Alexander Wynne of Rome, GA; widowed [date unknown]; moved to Dallas, TX; wrote stories and articles for newspapers and magazines; taught voice and piano; prominent in club work; traveled to Europe.
  2. Ewell Vernon Folsom – born February 10, 1883 near Tifton, GA; married in Orange, TX, April 7, 190e to Emma Myer Curtis, of Orange, TX; engaged in lumber trade in Orange, TX; prominent in social circles, a writer of short stories, a singer with a fine bass voice; died in Beaumont, TX February 18, 1933.
  3. Noel Byron Folsom – Born December 2, 1885 near New River Church, Berrien County, GA; served in the Army after the Spanish American War as an Assistant Veterinary Surgeon; married in New York, NY in June, 1912 to Mabel Bell Walsh, a resident of Yonkers, NY; craftsman, engaged in ship-building during WWI; writer of prose and poetry.
  4. Julia Grady Folsom – born May 15, 1889 on Fort Hawkins Hill, East Macon, Bibb, County, GA; named for Mrs. Julia King Grady, wife of Henry Grady; married first at age 14 in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta to Richard Trevanion Patton, son of Mrs. Julia Iverson Patton; divorced September 13, 1909, both being too young to carry on; married second on December 31, 1925 to John Daniel Hargraves, son of Frances L. Daniel and Dr. Benjamin Worthington Hargraves, who was First Lieutenant, Company K, 55th Infantry in WWI; writer of many fine poems, published in the Atlanta Constitution and other publications.
  5. Jessie Juanita Folsom, born February 9, 1894 in Atlanta, GA; graduated Law School, admitted to the bar but never practiced; feature writer for the Atlanta Journal; married July 22, 1917 in St. Philips Cathedral, Atlanta to Lieutenant Basil Stockbridge, Atlanta lawyer.

He died very suddenly of apoplexy in Atlanta, GA July 1, 1899. Upon his death, the Atlanta Constitution proclaimed Montgomery M. Folsom one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South.  He was buried July 4, 1899 at Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA.

Montgomery M. Folsom Dead; Had Only A Few Hours’ Illness

Seized with a Sinking Spell Saturday Afternoon, He Rapidly Grew Worse Until the End Came Yesterday Morning,

Apoplexy Was The Cause

He was on the Streets Saturday In His Usual Health.

Was A Capable Journalist And Poet

He Was Well Known in the South and His Writings Were Widely Read and Copied – A Sketch of His Life.

      Montgomery M. Folsom, one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the south, died suddenly at his residence, 445 East Fair street, at 7 o’clock yesterday morning, after an illness of only a few hours.
      Saturday morning Mr. Folsom was apparently in his usual good health, and left his home in unusually good spirits. He returned home about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and complained of feeling bad. At 3 o’clock he had a violent sinking spell and was soon unconscious. His family became alarmed at his condition, and Dr. Johnson, who lives in the vicinity of the Folsom residence, was summoned. His efforts were unavailing, and the stricken man failed to regain consciousness.
       Later in the afternoon no change in his condition taking place, his son-in-law, Dr. F. A. Wynne, was called in. He remained by the side of Mr. Folsom all night long, but saw that his condition was hopeless.
At 6 o’clock in the morning he partially regained consciousness, but could not speak. At 7 o’clock death came suddenly and without pain.
      The immediate cause of death was apoplexy, superinduced by an affection of the heart, from which he had been a suffering for the past two years.
      Montgomery Folsom is survived by a wife and five children; Mrs. F. A. Wynne, Ewell V. Folsom, aged seventeen; Noel F. Folsom, aged sixteen; Julia G. Folsom, aged thirteen, and Jessie Juanita Folsom, aged eight. He also leaves one brother and one sister- Carroll R. Folsom and Mrs. Minnie Weeks.

The Funeral Arrangements
      The deceased was a member of the Cherokee lodge, Masonic Order, of Rome. The funeral will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock with masonic honors.
      Up to a late hour last night it had not been decided whether the services would be conducted from the residence of a church. The list of pallbearers will also be announced later.

Sketch of his life.
      Montgomery Morgan Folsom was one of the most brilliant and prolific writers in the south, and his literary productions were widely read and copied. He wrote prose and poetry with equal facility, and his acquaintance with men and affairs was extensive. He was an indefatigable worker and one of the most productive newspaper men in Atlanta.
      By nature he was extremely companionable, and made many friends who were warmly attached to him. His death was the cause of universal sorrow among a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
Montgomery Folsom was born near Hahira, Lowndes county, Georgia, January 31, 1857, and was therefore forty-two years old at the time of his death. He was the son of James Rountree Folsom and Rachel Inman Folsom.
       His grandfather, Randel Folsom, was at one time a wealthy planter, possessed of literary tastes, who, when financial reverses overtook him, retired to the seclusion of his library and spent his declining years absorbed in study. It was from Randel Folsom that young Montgomery attained the rudiments of an education, which afterwards ripened into a rare culture.
      Montgomery Folsom was essentially a self-made man, and his fight for an education was a bitter, uphill one, fraught with obstacles in the shape of poverty and scant resources that would have daunted a nature with less steadfast purpose.
      However, he had a marvelous faculty for acquiring and assimulating knowledge, and once he read a book its substance remained with him. His grasp at the salient facts of a history or a scientific treatise was remarkable from the time he was a mere boy.
      Up to the time he was eighteen or nineteen years of age his days were spent in toll on a farm, and his nights in study. Arrived at the age of twenty, he became a pedagogue and taught small country schools in various parts of south Georgia. It was at Thomasville, Ga., while engaged in the avocation of school teacher, that he did his first newspaper work. His first published writings appeared in the Savannah Morning News, when he was a mere boy. They consisted of poems and articles of a literary and humorous vein.
      Later he began to contribute to the northern papers, and the New York Post and The Sun accepted many of his prose writing and verse. Up to the day of his death the later paper gladly accepted everything he wrote.
      The success of his writings decided him to adopt newspaper work as a profession, and his first editorial position was on The Thomasville Times. While at the head of this paper he wrote “Jeff Hancock’s Bull,” a set of humorous verses which attracted widespread attention —– for him a more than local reputation
      From Thomasville he went to Americus where he edited the Times-Recorder. Later he was given a position on the Macon Telegraph, and it was while in that city that his work attracted the attention of the late Henry Grady, who made him the Macon correspondent of The Constitution and encouraged him to write special articles for this paper.

Would Not Accept Pay.
      During the early days when Montgomery Folsom was connected with newspapers in the south he continued to do work for the northern press. This work he refused to accept pay for, and time and time again he returned checks to the senders with the request that they pay him in books. In this way he managed to accumulate a handsome library, which was composed chiefly of the poets. He was particularly fond of Byron, Shelley, Burns and Caldridge and knew many of their works by heart. He was also an ardent admirer of Victor Hugo, and was a deep student of the French revolution. Napoleon was his hero, and probably no man in Atlanta had read more miscellaneous literature bearing on the life and personal characteristics of Bonaparte.
       From Macon he went to Cedartown, where he purchased an interest in The Cedartown Standard, and was placed in editorial charge. In 1887 fire visited The Standard office and the plant, together with Mr. Folsom’s fine collection of books, was burned.
      Soon after this disaster he came to Atlanta and secured a position on the local staff of The Constitution. His  special work at this time, under the pseudonym of “The Night Hawk,” attracted considerable attention throughout the state.
      A connection with Society, a literary paper published by Mrs. Lollie Belle Wylie, followed. From Society he went to The Journal and from The Journal to Rome, where he edited The Tribune for a number of months.
      When The Evening Constitution was started he returned to Atlanta and was placed on the local staff of that paper. After the suspension of The Evening Constitution he returned to The Journal once more, leaving that paper to accept a position on The Chattanooga Times during the Spanish-American war, when troops were encamped at Chickamauga.
       In 1894 Mr. Folsom began to correspond regularly for a number of northern papers, and this work he continued to do up to the time of his death.
       He was a brilliant writer and a kindly gentleman, whose warm heart and generous impulses made for him many friends.

Grave of Montgomery Morgan Folsom, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA

Grave of Montgomery Morgan Folsom, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA

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