Jack L. El­liott served 3 terms as Cov­ing­ton Mayor

The Covington News - - LOOKING BACK -

(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.

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