----- ............Cemetery Walk: An afternoon of discovery! Every stone has a story. And they are waiting to be told........... -----

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Horace King: Slave & Master Bridge Builder

A part of my hometown history...

I learned about the relationship of John Godwin and his former slave, Horace King, during my search for cemeteries in Phenix City, Alabama. While Phenix City is my birthplace I was raised across the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, GA.

During a trip home I found the Godwin Cemetery and visited the grave of John Godwin and photographed the headstone placed there by his former slave, Horace. I knew I also needed to find and visit Horace's grave in LaGrange, GA. On my latest trip home I made time to travel to LaGrange to find and visit the grave of Horace King.

I was saddened by the sparseness of the cemetery and found Horace and his son, Marshall, buried beside a tree next to the creek bed. There were few marked graves in this large piece of ground outside of the confederate cemetery referred to as Stonewall Jackson Cemetery.

I kneeled down and cleaned the debris from their graves and told him how I had learned about him and wanted to visit him. That much has been written about him and the new 13th Street bridge connecting Alabama and Georgia is called the Horace King Friendship Bridge.

Standing at the head of Horace's grave looking
toward the Confederate Cemetery
After I returned to Kansas I discovered his wives are buried in the Godwin Cemetery. I will visit them when I return home in a few months. The documentary listed below states the King wives are buried close to the Godwin plot by the two cedars. I reviewed my photos and see the location.

Horace King 9/8/1807 - 5/28/1885
His headstone is marked wrong with the year 1887
1st wife: Francis L. Goode
2nd wife: Sally Jane McManus

Alabama Heritage

New Georgia Encyclopedia
Born as a slave of African, European, and Native American (Catawba) ancestry in Chesterfield District South Carolina, King moved with his master, John Godwin (1798-1859), a contractor, to Girard, Alabama, a suburb of Columbus, where Godwin had the contract to build the first public bridge connecting those two states. King probably planned the construction and directed the slaves who erected that span. Godwin apparently realized King's intuitive genius as a builder and nurtured those skills. During the early 1840s King served as superintendent and architect of major bridges at Wetumpka, Alabama, and Columbus, Mississippi, without Godwin's supervision.
John Godwin allowed King and his other slaves a great degree of freedom, and in 1846 he freed King, perhaps to protect this valuable asset from his creditors. King might have simply bought his freedom, but the relationship between the former master and slave remained the same. After Godwin's death in 1859, King erected a monument over his grave that declared "the love and gratitude he felt for his lost friend and former master."
Horace: The Bridge Builder King documentary by Tom C. Lenard
As shared by his descendents, researchers and historians on YouTube
Part 1. Be sure to watch all 6 segments.

Other links with information on Horace King:

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