Georgia’s Old Capitol Museum Society will host its “Evenings with History” winter lecture series next week.
Early on Nov. 20, 1864, foragers from Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's 17th Corps appeared at Smithboro plantation five miles east of Monticello, Ga., home of Judge Thomas Jefferson Smith. They expected this 8,000 acre plantation to furnish a generous supply of horses and mules to replace those exhausted from hauling the troop's wagons and plenty of food to fill empty stomachs. After gathering the animals, they killed those they could not carry away and threw their carcasses into the well, burned the barns, grist mill, gin and smokehouse, and shot the hunting dogs.
Finding few valuables in Judge Smith's home, they dragged him from the house and threatened to kill him if he would not reveal where he had hidden his valuables.
When the judge refused to give up any information, the soldiers hanged him from the rafters of the carriage house and departed. A devoted slave, watching the departure of the Union soldiers, ran into the carriage house and cut down the judge, miraculously saving his life.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, in the Legislative Chamber in the Old Capitol Building on the Georgia Military College campus, Larry Smith, great-great-grandson of Judge Thomas Jefferson Smith will be the guest speaker for “Evenings with History,” the winter lecture series sponsored by Georgia's Old Capital Museum Society. Smith makes his home on a portion of the old Smithboro Plantation and will draw on family records, pictures and artifacts to describe the events of Nov. 29 and their impact on his family.
Georgia's Old Capital Museum continues to serve the community with educational programs and events that promote its mission to identify, preserve, and communicate the historic and cultural heritage of Milledgeville and the Oconee River Basin area.