tlanta First United Methodist Church's history is the history of not only its buildings and preachers, but also the history of its members. Many influential and famous Atlantans were members of AFUMC, and they helped to shape the church into what it is today. This page has biographies of some of the more notable of these individuals and families.
The Candler Family
tlanta First Methodist crossed paths with the Candler family on many occasions. It would have been difficult not to, since the Candler brothers, Asa and Warren, were powerhouses in Atlanta business and the Methodist Church in Georgia.
After prohibitionists won a referendum that barred liquor from Fulton County in 1885, Pharmacist John S. Pemberton stirred up a new concoction he called "Coca-Cola" to replace his popular French Wine Coca, fearing a loss of sales because of the vote. Coca-Cola was first sold May 8, 1886 as a headache remedy.
Asa G. Candler (1851-1925), another Atlanta pharmicist, bought the formula from Pemberton for $2,300. In September, 1888, Asa Candler moved the manufacturing of Coca-Cola to 47 Peachtree Street, two doors south of Auburn Ave. and a block south of First Methodist Church. During that same year, the Temperance Committee of the North Georgia Conference, Warren Candler, chairman, called for the initiation of "an organization which shall confront the solidified liquor forces with temperance forces equally solid," and to that end "we recommend that W. H. Potter, A. G. Haygood, and A. H. Colquitt be appointed to confer with such other persons as to them seem best, with a view to the organization at an early day of a non-partisan temperance alliance of all the prohibition forces of the state."
In, 1902, First Methodist's Official Board had decided to move. Click Here to read about Bishop Candler's opposition to the move. And the ironic buyer the church found for its property.
In 1914, Andrew Carnegie donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University in Nashville on condition the school end its religious affiliation. Asa wanted to thumb his nose at the meddler, so he donated $1 million as an endowment for a Methodist university in Atlanta, a fantastic amount of money in those days. The Trustees of Emory College in Oxford voted to join the new school and so, Emory University was chartered on January 25, 1915. Bishop Candler served as chancellor for eight years and Asa was chairman of the board from 1916 until his death in 1925. He was succeeded by his son, Howard. The two of them endowed Emory with roughly $13,000,000 over the years, with other members of the Candler family adding about $1,500,000. When Warren became bishop of the North Georgia Conference, he established Wesley Memorial Hospital, which later became Emory University Hospital.
Fifty years after Asa Candler bought the old Wesley Chapel/First Methodist property to serve as the site for the Candler Building, First Methodist would again cross paths with the Candler family. Asa Candler, Jr., known as Buddie joined First Methodist on the strength of Pierce Harris' preaching, attending regularly and participating in the building committee. As Harris became in demand at campmeetings and revivals all over the country, Buddie would fly him and Army in his 16-passenger Lockheed Lodestar. Harris called Asa Jr. "my business manager in charge of trips, transportation and tariff."
When the first phase of the Activity Building was built, the use of space in parts of the original building changed. There is a plaque at the top of the stairs on the third floor behind the sanctuary which is dedicated to John Candler (1905-1947), by his father, Asa, G. Candler, Jr. (1881-1953), both of whom were members of First Methodist Church The plaque mentions Asa Jr. as dedicating the "choir floor" of the Church to his son, John, "a member of the building committee and the choir," who died prematurely.
Alfred H. Colquitt
n August 2, 1876, Alfred H. Colquitt (1824-1894) ran for governor of Georgia. He won the largest majority recorded in Georgia politics up to that time-111,297 to 33,443 a difference of 77,854 votes. When Colquitt came to Atlanta to begin his term, he joined First Methodist Church. He already knew his pastor at First Methodist, fellow Confederate General Clement Anselm Evans. He had himself been licensed a Methodist minister, but also became a lawyer and heard the call the military and of politics early. He graduated from Princeton in 1844. After serving in the Mexican War as a major, he settled in Macon and practiced law.
In 1859 he served in the state legislature and was a member of the secession convention. He entered the Confederate army as a captain and ended the war a major general, commanding the 6th Georgia Brigade. He served as brigade commander under Jackson at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. He was called "The Hero of Olustee" for a small but strategically important victory in that Florida town in 1864.
After the war, he farmed, practiced law, and opposed Reconstruction. Colquitt was one-third of the "Bourbon Triumvirate" along with John B. Gordon and Joseph E. Brown which dominated Georgia politics from 1872 to 1890. They were business-oriented Democrats who favored sectional reconciliation, industrialization, low taxes, and frugal government. worked hand-in-glove with the trio of politicians, popularizing their ideas in the Constitution. Someone said, "Brown provided the brains; Gordon, the looks; and Colquitt, the religion."
At the end of his gubernatorial term, Colquitt was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired term of Benjamin H. Hill, who had died in office. There he served from 1883 until his own death in 1894.
Like his father, U. S. Senator W. T. Colquitt, for whom Colquitt County, Georgia is named, Alfred Colquitt was a strong advocate of temperance and was interested in all religious and moral issues. An unpretentious and mild mannered Christian, he was president of the International Sunday School convention which met in Atlanta in 1878. His gentle nature and exemplary character made an impact on his contemporaries that seldom has been equaled. Regarded as one of Georgia's most outstanding political leaders of the nineteenth century, he died in Washington, D. C., on March 26, 1894. Alfred named his son after his father and a plaque in an office at First United Methodist Church records that the second W. T. Colquitt was Sunday School superintendent at First Methodist for more than 20 years.
William E. Ezzard
illiam E. Ezzard was one of Atlanta's first lawyers and judges who served as Wesley Chapel chairman of the board of trustees for several years. During 1850, he and his wife, Sarah, completed a large two-story home across the street from Wesley Chapel on the corner now occupied by the Equitable Building. He joined the business boom in Atlanta, opening a wholesale and retail dry goods firm: "Bartley M. Smith & William E. Ezzard" in 1855. Ezzard was elected mayor of Atlanta January 25, 1856. He was elected to a second one-year term in 1860 and a third term in 1870. Ezzard was be the only man to serve as mayor both before and after the Civil War.
William L. Ezzard
illiam L. Ezzard, William E. Ezzard's son, was a Confederate captain, leading the Gate City Guard to garrison duty at Pensacola, Fla., April 1, 1861. The Guard was Company F, 1st Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, and included 13 officers and 89 privates. They were given a grand send off by the citizens of Atlanta as they marched through a blinding rainstorm to the train depot.
n August of 1872, Alexander St. Clair-Abrams launched The Atlanta Daily Herald. The paper would not survive, but it brought Henry Woodfin Grady (1850-1889) to the city as editor. A native of Athens, Georgia, Grady's father became a Confederate Captain and was killed on a Virginia battlefield. After coming to Atlanta, Grady and his wife, Julia King Grady, became members of First Methodist Church. During his short life he would be very important to First Methodist Church, to Atlanta, to the South and to the whole country. On March 14, 1874, Grady published a statement that included the term "The New South." Grady heard the term in a sermon by former Wesley Chapel member Atticus G. Haygood, who was then president of Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, nd would later be a bishop. But the world would hear of "The New South," thereafter.
Grady and a partner launched The Herald newspaper, February 22, 1876. It survived less than three weeks. In October, E.Y. Clarke sold his half interest in The Atlanta Constitution to Evan P. Howell, who immediately hired Grady as managing editor. Grady, in turn, hired Joel Chandler Harris, who would write the "Uncle Remus" stories while at The Constitution, as an editorial paragrapher.
During Glenn's pastorate, The Atlanta Constitution Editor Henry Grady became a household name. He became a potent political power through his association with the "Bourbon Triumvirate" of conservative Democratic politicians Joseph E. Brown, who had been governor during secession, John B. Gordon and Alfred H. Colquitt.
Henry Grady became widely known after a December 21, 1886 speech before the New England Society of New York in New York City. General William Tecumseh Sherman was in attendance. After that speech, Grady was actually considered a possible running mate for Grover Cleveland in the 1888 presidential election. Shortly before he went to New York to make the aforementioned speech, he spoke from the pulpit at First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, where he was a member, giving his profession of religious faith. He served on the official board of the church for three years, but his duties often prevented him from attending the meetings.
December 12, 1889, in Boston, Henry Grady delivered his speech on the topic, "The Race Problem in the South." In his speech to the Boston Merchants Association, Grady asked the North for patience, confidence, sympathy and a "loyalty to the Republic." In asking for national patriotism rather than sectionalism, Grady appealed for a loyalty "that knows no south, no north, no east, no west, but endears with equal and patriotic love every foot or our soil, every State in our Union."
Grady died suddenly after a "New South" speech in Boston December 23, 1889. On the return trip he caught a fever and died the next day. He was just 39, but had already been editor of The Atlanta Constitution for 10 years. Seven thousand people attended the funeral or watched the procession. The University of Georgia named its School of Journalism and Mass Communications for him. Grady Memorial Hospital opened in 1892 with 100 beds, fulfilling his dream of a public hospital for Atlanta. Two of our stained-glass windows, "The Rich Young Ruler" and "The Good Shepherd", are dedicated to Grady and his wife, Julia.
Nathaniel J. Hammond
n 1855, Wesley Chapel acquired another prominent public servant in the person of Nathaniel J. Hammond. A native Georgian and 1852 honor graduate of the State University in Athens, he passed the bar and opened a law office with his father in Atlanta. Soon he was a prominent presence in Atlantas court system, building a reputation for thoroughness and skill in presenting cases. He would remain connected to First Methodist Church throughout his life as an active member and office holder, even while he was serving in a variety of important positions in the city, the state and the nation. One Wesley Chapel member who did not go to the front lines was Nathaniel J. Hammond. During the entire course of the war he served as solicitor-general of the Atlanta circuit court. The state regarded it as more important for him, as a prominent lawyer, to fill that role than to carry a rifle.
Eloquent lawyer and Wesley Chapel trustee Nathaniel J. Hammond was among those chosen to represent Atlanta at the Georgia Constitutional Convention Dec. 9, 1867 through March 11, 1868. At that time, Atlanta was made the capital of Georgia. In April the new constitution was adopted and a new legislature met on July 4, 1868. Hammond, who was for many years president of the board of trustees of the University of Georgia, was one of the original promoters of the Atlanta public school system, which was established in 1869. Two stained-glass windows in the sanctuary are dedicated to Hammond and his wife, Laura; the Tiffany glass windows depicting St. John and St. Paul.
Benjamin H. Hill
enjamin H. Hill (1823-1882) of LaGrange, who was a member of First Methodist Church in the 1880s, was a prominent national politician during the tumultuous Civil War and Reconstruction period. Hill was elected to the State Senate in 1851. At the Secession Convention, being a brilliant and flamboyant orator, he stridently opposed secession. Realizing he was greatly outnumbered, he did finally vote for the secession resolution. Ironically, he was soon elected to the Confederate Congress and, after the war, was imprisoned for a time at Fort LaFayette along with Governor Brown, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Vice President Stephens, as were other prominent members of the Confederate government and military.
Ben Hill led the fight of the Georgia Democratic party against the excesses of Reconstruction. He made several fiery speeches, some in the face of army bayonets. One of the factors that cleared the way for Georgia's readmission to the union was a change of heart on the part of Benjamin H. Hill. The fiery politician had led the charge against Republican interference and attempts at political equality of the races for several years, but later he advised acceptance of Congressional Reconstruction. He suffered attacks as a turncoat by his friends in the Democrat party, but he apparently thought it better to bend than be broken.
In 1875, Ben Hill was elected to Congress from the fifth district. Never were his political instincts more severely tested than in his role in Washington. There were plenty of Northern politicians who regarded him as a traitor and fit only for the gallows. He had many opportunities to exercise his considerable oratory talents toward the healing of the national wounds. Hill served just one term in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate, where he would work until his death from cancer in 1882 at home in Atlanta.
It was at this time Senator Benjamin H. Hill died at his home on Peachtree Street (August 16, 1882). General Clement Evans, his pastor, conducted the funeral at First Methodist Church on August 19, 1882. 20,000 Georgians marched in his funeral procession.
The Lawshe Family
ethodist pastor Rev. Lewis Lawshe and his wife, Louisa, moved to Atlanta from Macon and organized Wesley Chapels first Sunday School. Lewis younger brother, E.R., also came to Atlanta from Macon August 16, 1848, at the age of 24 with $7.25 in his pocket. There would be few Wesley Chapel laymen more respected during his long life in Atlanta than E.R. Lawshé. He worked hard at a number of pursuits and was soon able to establish a jewelry store with a partner. As an engraver, he was commissioned to design the first city seal of Atlanta. After a few years he bought out the partner and became sole owner of the business. Ten years after coming to Atlanta penniless he built a fine two-story house on the west side of Peachtree Street near the Northwest corner of Cain (now International Blvd.). The family lived there until his death in 1897. ERs unwavering integrity eventually won for him the name "Old Reliable." His name appears on officers and committee lists of Wesley Chapel and First Methodist Church for many years. E.R. met and married Sallie Peck, after joining Wesley Chapel.
The Maddox Family
obert Flournoy Maddox became a member of Wesley Chapel when he was 29. He was a native of Putnam County and had been reared on a farm near LaGrange, where his popularity and great physical strength had won him the office of sheriff at the age of 21. He would also serve as county treasurer and a member of the LaGrange town council. Grandson of Notely Maddox, a Revolutionary War officer, Maddox was of sturdy Scotch extraction. He received a good education and displayed an early ability to put to use everything he learned. Although he had had some success in LaGrange politics, his interest was merchandising and he was attracted to Atlanta as a promising commercial center.
Soon after moving to Atlanta in 1858, he opened a grocery store and quickly became a prominent and promising member of the commercial circle. He was single until 1860, when he married Nancy Reynolds of Newton County. A year later, when the Civil War began he closed his grocery store to organize the Calhoun Guards, serving as Captain. The Calhoun Guards, named after Atlantas wartime mayor, was Company K, 42nd Regiment, Ga. Vol. Infantry, of the Army of Tennessee. For a time, he commanded 6,000 troops at Camp McDonald. In 1862, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the Forty-second Georgia Regiment and finished the war as a full Colonel, commanding the Third Georgia Reserves. But, Robert Flournoy Maddox (1829-1899) returned home at the end of the war penniless, his business destroyed. He got a job clearing away the debris of the shattered city. After saving a small amount of money he entered the produce brokerage business. In 1866, he again ran for political office as he had done in his hometown of LaGrange. He was elected to represent Fulton County in the state legislature and while there, was appointed by the governor to travel to other states to buy food for the destitute. He also became involved in cotton brokerage during this time. Incidentally, many years earlier, Maddox had served on the LaGrange city council with Benjamin Hill.
With the end of Reconstruction came the return of prosperity for many of Wesley Chapel's members. In 1869, just four years after returning from the war destitute, Robert Maddox erected an imposing two-story red brick house at the northeast corner of Peachtree and Ellis streets about a block south of the Lawshé home and a block north of the Ezzard home and Wesley Chapel. It may be that Robert and Nannie Maddox needed a new house because a baby was coming in 1870. That baby, also named Robert-but with the middle name of "Foster", his mother's maiden name-would grow up to be a very important citizen of Atlanta as well as an invaluable member of First Methodist Church.
In addition to wholesale grocery and cotton businesses, from 1869 to 1879 Robert Flournoy Maddox had a tobacco and liquor store in the National Hotel. In 1880 he organized the Maddox-Rucker Banking Company which would in 1908 be merged with Atlanta National Bank. A photo taken at the turn of the century shows him in a buggy hitched to two fine horses, parked in front of his home at the northeast corner of Peachtree and Ellis streets. He sports a derby and a white handlebar mustache and looks very much the part of a banker.
Three generations of Maddoxes would call First Methodist Church home and their industriousness would help build the citys economy for over 100 years. His son, Robert Foster Maddox was also a banker and active in many civic organizations for most of his 90-plus years. He served as mayor of Atlanta 1908 to 1910. He was an important officer of First Methodist Church all his life. Baxter Maddox, the next generation was also a banker and active member of the Church until his death in the 1980s.
There are four stained-glass windows in the sanctuary dedicated to members of the Maddox family. They include "The Nativity," "Jesus at Twelve," "The Stilling Of The Storm," and "The Resurrection.
n 1847, after sharing the school with the Baptists and Presbyterians for several months, the Methodists raised $700 to build a building of their own, largely through the efforts of Edwin Payne (1796-1870). The Wesley Chapel layman was apparently tireless in helping to begin new churches. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of Trinity Methodist in 1853, the first of First Methodists daughter churches. Presumably, Paynes Chapel was named for him, and in the 1890s, Payne Memorial Church was founded in his honor. The congregations brick building, built in 1892, stood on Luckie Street near Georgia Tech until 1950.
The Winship Family
nother Wesley Chapel member whose fortune would grow with the city was Joseph Winship. He and his brother Isaac came to Georgia from Massachusetts, and went into business together. In 1845 they established a successful cotton gin factory in Morgan County. In 1851, Joseph turned the business over to two of his sons-in-law and moved to Atlanta, establishing a freight car factory. Since Atlanta was the center of Georgias railroad system, the factory prospered and soon Winship added a machine shop and iron works in order to manufacture his own parts. He located the iron works near the tracks of the Western & Atlantic railroad and the road which crossed the track there became Foundry Street, where the Georgia World Congress Center is now.
Joseph Winship, his sons, Robert and George, and brother, Isaac, with their "Winship Machine Company and Foundry," played an important role in the war effort during the Civil War.
Mrs. Isaac Winship was president of the hospital volunteer work done during the Civil War. The Winship's property, including the machine shop, their homes and rental property was all destroyed by fire when Sherman's army sacked Atlanta in 1864. By 1870, the Winship Bros. Machine Company had been rebuilt and was turning out cotton gins, in addition to other iron implements. Eventually the company, now known as Fulton Supply Co., became one of the largest producers of cotton gins in the world.
Some descendent of Joseph and Emily Hutchings Winship has belonged to First Methodist Church from the 1850s to the present day. Their son Robert and his wife Mary, and another son, George and his wife Eugenia and daughter Ella all appear on the 1867 membership roll of Wesley Chapel. The Robert Winships transferred to other Methodist churches in the Atlanta area, but George and then George, Jr., and his brother, Charles, appear on lists of First Methodist Church officers, trustees and finance committees long into the 20th century. John Hallman was also a direct descendent of the Winships.
Robert and Mary Winship had a daughter named Emily, who married Ernest Woodruff before the turn of the century. A son was born to them, whom they named Robert Winship Woodruff. Ernest bought Coca Cola from the Candler family and Robert became president of the company. Under his leadership, the company became a strong worldwide corporation and Coca Cola became the number one soft drink around the world. Robert Woodruff became known as "Mr. Anonymous" because he gave generously to so many causes in Atlanta.
Like the Maddox's, there are four stained-glass windows in the sanctuary dedicated to members of the Winship family. They include "The Good Samaritan," "The Wedding at Cana," "Christ Blessing the Children" and "The Ascension."