The Carvings on Stone Mountain, #4

W. W. Roark, J. W. Mehaffey, 1879

This carving is located to the left of the railing about two thirds of the way up the mountain, as one is ascending. It’s in the cluster that includes the carving for Joe Carter and Annie Logan Anderson, and the carving for the Wells cousins and G. A. Goldsmith. In 1880, J. W. Mehaffey was living near several other individuals who appear in carvings on the mountain or are connected to someone who is.

W. W. Roark, J. W. Mehaffy, 1879, Stone Mountain, GA, 8 May 2015

On the 1880 census, the closest one to the date of the carving, John W. “Mahaffey” was living in the household of his brother-in-law Robert J. Hadden. Marriage records from DeKalb County found on Ancestry, show Robert J. Hadden married Mary E. Mahaffey on 8 April 1876 and one two-year-old child, Katie, appears on the census with them in 1880. John is listed as a rock mason on the census and his birthplace is listed as Alabama, though earlier census records contradict this, placing both his birth and that of his father in Georgia.

In 1880, John, his sister and brother-in-law are living in Stone Mountain. A few houses away is the family of Wilburn R. Wells, whose son, Julius (or J. O.) is the subject of another carving near where J. W. Mehaffey’s is located and in the household listed next to J. W. is the Scruggs family, who’ll be connected to G. A. Goldsmith, whose name appears with J. O. Wells. Nearby is the home of John P. Tuggle, the uncle of Annie Logan Anderson, whose name also appears in the cluster of carvings near the railings on Stone Mountain, so, in all probability, the families knew one another. Given that his profession is listed as a rock mason, this makes John Mehaffey another strong candidate for the person responsible for some of the other carvings in the area.

The census in 1870 finds John W. Mehaffey in living in Stone Mountain in the household of John R. Mehaffey The 1870 census doesn’t list family relationships, but John W. is enumerated just below Mary Mehaffey, 63 years old following John R., Mary H Mehaffey, age 16, and John R. Mehaffey, age 4, suggesting John W. is not the son of John R. He is still listed as having been born in Alabama. In 1860, John W. Mahaffey, age 2, is in the household of T. L. Mahaffey, age 31, whose wife’s name is Ruth. Here, John is listed as having been born in Georgia as was T. L. Also in the household is Mary L., Martha L., and Thomas M. Mahaffey. A publicly posted genealogy on Ancestry lists John W. Mehaffey as the son of Thomas L. Mehaffey and Rutha Bradley.

The Atlanta Constitution lists John’s obituary in the 21 October 1903 edition. In it, he’s identified as a stone cutter. John was 46 at the time of his death and lived on Carnegie Way in Atlanta. The obituary mentions that the funeral will be handled by the stone cutter’s union, of which John was a member, and that services were being delayed pending the arrival of his brother, who was said to be in the east.

In 1880, William “Rowark” age 31, is living in the household of Martha A. Beasley in Stone Mountain, listed as Martha’s nephew. Along with him is Nannie Malcolm, identified as Martha’s niece and said to be widowed. Nannie or Nancy shows up on later census listings with William. William’s birthplace is South Carolina, as is that of his father, and his mother’s birthplace is listed as Ireland. His occupation is given as trader.

On the 1870 census, W. W. Roark, age 22, is enumerated with T. J. Turner, 37, a physician and J. A. Turner, with no relationship listed. Here, his occupation is listed as “Clk in Stone”. W. W. and the Turners are listed in Atlanta, Ward 3, Fulton County. In 1860, William W. Roark is in the household of W. W. Roark in Black Hall, Fulton County, GA. Enumerated with him is his older sister, Nancy D. Roark. Also in the household is Martin J., Elizabeth M., Isadora F., and Samuel A. Roark. The family appears on the 1850 census, already in Atlanta (DeKalb County).

William can be found on the 1900 census living with his sister, Nancy. Find A Grave lists his date of death as 1912 and his burial place as Friendship Primitive Baptist Church in Snellville, Gwinnett County, GA. On the back of his headstone, his last name is spelled “Roeark” though it’s listed as “Roark” on the front. No obituary or death notice has been found for William Roark.

Curious old carving near the mountain top

Stone Mountain Carving, 8 May 2015 #3These images are of another carving I discovered when I was walking up the mountain 8 May 2015. I found it when I went right after getting to the top of the railings and walking parallel to the walk-up trail, only on the other side of the wooded area. I spotted it just as I reached the clearing that revealed the final, steep leg of the walk-up trail. I took photos from two angles, but the carving is so faded, it’s difficult to make out the lettering.

Stone Mountain Carving, 8 May 2015 #2It appears to be “I R S” or “I P S”. The wear suggests it’s very old. I’m open to suggestions on what it may represent.

2 thoughts on “The Carvings on Stone Mountain, #4

  1. Hmmmnnn… A Four — Leafed (primitive ) Dogwood Blossom . ******* as for the “T P S ; I R S ; or even I P S lettering , Perhaps a Wax Paper and Black Crayon may used for a probable RUBBING . (They are always using this method in Europe to raise Letters & Engraving that are generally Illigible ) ….Try it. Trust this helps you .

    • I’ve thought of doing just that. I’d need to make a trip up the mountain just for that purpose, though, because I’m usually also walking the trails while there.

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