Henry Madison McWhorter was born December 19, 1890 in Chattooga County, the son of Samuel Madison Knox McWhorter and Frances "Fannie" Cochran McWhorter.
McWhorter married Rossie Vernon Gilstrap from Chickamauga where he worked at the Powell Motor Company. The newspaper account of the couple's wedding in 1925 provides a stark contrast to the expensive requirements of today's brides; the wedding took place at the home of the bride's parents, there were no attendants, and only the two families and a few friends were present. The couple left for a "southern motor trip" following the ceremony.
At the time of the wedding, McWhorter had recently become assistant cashier at the Summerville bank (the Farmers and Merchants Bank) where his nephew, Daniel Lee McWhorter, worked. He was postmaster of the Summerville Post Office from 1920 to 1924.
In 1954, McWhorter was involved in an accident between his old car and a freight train. If you've seen the Images of America book, Chattooga County, a photograph of the aftermath appears on page 51. Shown below is an alternate photograph not used in the book, along with a newspaper account of the accident.
Ancient Car's First Wreck Is Last - It Hits Train
SUMMERVILLE, Ga. April 23 - Back in 1929 Henry McWhorter bought a brand-new A-model car and the two of them went a long way together. But now the 60-year-old man and his 25-year-old car must part. An unscheduled meeting with a freight train is the reason.
The smashup with the Central of Georgia diesel train at the depot crossing here, McWhorter said, was the first accident the ancient car ever had. And it was the last because it won't be repaired.
McWhorter, a seed and feed store operator, estimated he had crossed those tracks in the car about 31,200 times in the past quarter century. The tragic end came, he said, when the brakes failed and the car smacked into the moving train.
He said he had no idea how many miles the car had traveled, but the speedometer stopped 15 years ago at 94,000 miles.
A new era will begin, McWhorter added, if he goes through with tentative plans to buy a panel truck to replace "the '29."
The reporter in the story above mistakenly listed McWhorter's age as 60, an error repeated in my book as I used the newspaper account as my source.
When Henry McWhorter died in 1968 at the age of 77, his funeral was held at the Summerville Presbyterian Church. The Rev. William E. Hotchkiss officiated and presented a poem to his old friend, a church deacon and treasurer for many years, as follows:
BY THE RAILROAD TRACK
by William Edgar Hotchkiss III
February 3, 1968
Dimly lit, the feed store and the pile of coal
Watch as sentries along the railroad track
Like the filling of a sandwich - at dusk
Dividing both sides of town
North and South - East and West
The mail train, the freight squeaked fretfully by
Into the store an owner came
Gaunt, but resolute
The smoke of an old car's exhaust
Hovered over the chill of a winter's morn
Seeds, feeds, and assorted items
Lay on racks - with Morning Glories too!
The church bell rang on Wednesday night
Twas time for prayer - and who pulled the rope?
Someone turned on the heat
On and off went the lights
Who lovingly petted the old furnace
Stretching its life - just one year longer?
Someone faithfully watched each cent
Given in worship - for such a needy cause
To see that it arrived safely at the intended goal.
In the life of our beloved someone
Came shadows of illness and shades of woe
But still the firmness of sprit
But still the resoluteness of soul
The feed store, the coal pile, the old car
Part of yesterday are gone!
But not strength of character!
Not integrity of soul!
To live with one's convictions
In the heat of compromise
While lesser men move up and down the line
Is to face eternity without fear
To stand in firm foundations
Towering through clouds of adversity
In the sunlight of God's future!
Mrs. McWhorter lived to be 100 years old before passing away in 2001.
Photographs, poem, and newspaper clipping courtesy of Henry McWhorter's great-nephew, Gene McGinnis.
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