Jack L. Elliott served 3 terms as Covington Mayor
(We are indebted to Charles Elliott, well known author and Staff member of Outdoor Life Magazine, for the following highlights of his father’s life.)
From fragmentary information and stories passed down the grapevine of generations, I understand that my particular branch of the family tree first settled in the Carolinas and one part of the lcan migrated from there to Georgia in the early 1870’s.
Grandfather William D. Elliott, who married Miss Sarah Jones, bought a place near Salem, on the western side of Newton County, possibly because of the job opportunities at nearby Cedar Shoals, where Colonel E. Steadman was in the process of building a cotton and woolen fabric mill and a whole new town around it.
My grandfather worked as a carpenter at Porterdale until he saved enough money to open a store in 1877 on the west square in Covington, which had been chartered as a town in 1822 and as a city in 1854. Covington was a thriving expanding community. It’s population jumped from 1,121 in 1870 to 1,415 in 1880.
Dad was born at the Salem home in 1883. As soon as he was old enough, he worked as a carpenter with his father, who had given up the store and gone back to his first love, the hammer, saw and square.
When he was 17, Dad left home and walked to Atlanta to seek his fortune. His first connection in the big city was with a construction firm, and his first job — from daylight un- til dark — was chipping mortar off old bricks. For this he was paid 1 cent per brick. He told me that sometimes he earned enough money to eat three square meals a day, provided he wasn’t very hungry.
After a month on the brick pile, Dad was offered a job as clerk by the owner of a nearby grovery store. In time he was elevated to manager of the store. He left that position to take a job with McCord-Stewart Company, wholesale grocers, as oen of their “drummers”, or traveling salesmen. In those days he covered his territory by horse and buggy, making his rounds of the country stores in Newton and joining counties.
He and mother, who was Georgia O. Smith, a Henry County belle form Snapping Shoals, were married in 1905. They lived in Athens for a short period, then in Oxford until they bought ante bellum home on Church Street in Covington in 1916. There they lived almost half a century, reared their five children , and became an integral part of the Social, religious and civic life of the community where their influence lives on.
Before he moved to Covington, Dad acquired an interest in Porterdale Mercantile Company and for more than 30 years kept his shingle swinging at the Porterdale store. He sold his business in 1944 and devoted the rest of his life to his beloved Methodist Church, to Covington’s civic progress and to fishing every lake within 50 miles of his front doorstep.
The highlight of his civic career were the three terms he served as Covington’s mayor. For some 25 years he served as S.S. Supt., trustee, and choir members of the First Methodist Church of which he was a member. He was also a trustee of Salem Camp Ground, member of the Covington Kiwanis Club , of which he was a past president; a Mason and Knight Templar.
If “Mr. Jack”, as he was affectionately known, loved anything better than his family, his church, and honest government for his favorite town, it was either his bird dogs and quail hunting, or fishing. I remember waddling the potholes at Snapping Shoals with him for catfish when I was 8, 9 and 10 years old. I was priviledged to spend much time with him in the woods and on the waters, and will always cherish those days we had together in the outdoors.
He spent the last day of his life on Sinclair Lake, hauling in lunker bass and losing more than he caught. If he’d been given the choice, he would have had it no other way.”
In addition to the above coments, by his son, Mr. Elliott’s keen interest in the progress of his community; his personal integrity and geniality served to enlarge his wide circle of friends. Two of the Elliotts’ daughters, Mrs. Everett Pratt and Mrs. Joe Heard, and two sons, George Elliott, and Charles Eliott are present day Covington residents’ and another daughter Mrs. Sidney Cox, resides at Waynesboro.