The Ghost Dog
Of Forsyth, Georgia
A STORY TOLD BY
W. J . "BUDDY” MITCHELL
Copyright ( W. J. Mitche//, 2002)
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical
including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage
or retrieval system. without permission in writing from the publisher. For information, please write Monroe County Historical Society, 126 E. Johnston Street, Forsyth, Georgia 31029.
Front Cover: Print of "Forsyth Train Depot, 1846" courtesy of Leslie Miller'
Back Cover: Print of the "Old Train Depot, Forsyth, Ga." courtesy of A. Martin
The Ghost Dog of Forsyth, Georgia by W. J. "Buddy" Mitchell
Printed in the great State of Georgia
HAVE YOU SEEN SAM?
This is the way I heard the story told. It is a bittersweet tale that has been told for years. It all began in the year 1863. A young fellow by the name of Aaron turned eighteen, and he figured he'd go to Virginia to be with his older brother, who had joined the Confederate army to fight northern aggression. Boy, was Aaron excited! He was going to be able to ride the train for the first time all the way from Forsyth to Virginia. But what to do with Sam? You see, Sam was Aaron's dog. He knew that Sam couldn't go with him, so after tying his dog up with a leather plow line to a tree in the back yard, Aaron started off to town.
As Aaron walked towards Forsyth, he realized that this was the best time to leave home, because it was autumn, and the fall crops were in. However, while on his way into town-actually about halfway to Forsyth, guess who showed up all at once beside Aaron as happy as he could be? You guessed it-Sam!
"Fool dog!" the young man thought to himself, but he admired his dog for its loyalty.
Now Aaron was in a fix. He knew he didn't have enough time to take 01d Sam back home, so he decided to continue walking on into town with his faithful dog next to him. Fortunately, Aaron met his friend Fred, who was at the train depot to get the mail and to take it into town to the local post office.
"What are you fixing to do with your dog, Aaron?" asked Fred. "I don't rightly know. I hope Sam will just go back home."
"I'll tell you what, Aaron. I'll take Sam back to your folks."
Knowing that Sam would be fine, Aaron got on the train that took him towards Atlanta in order to catch another train to ride all the way to Virginia.
The next day, as he promised Aaron, Fred took Sam the dog back to where he belonged. After he had gotten Sam back home, Fred was about half way back to town when he looked down to his side. Guess what Fred saw? Yep, there was 01d Sam trotting right beside the young man, keeping pace with him all the way back into town. So Fred decided to just keep Sam in town with him. Sam was a good, companion, and the dog stayed with Fred through the fall of 1864.
At this time, the battle of Atlanta took place, and Forsyth became a Confederate hospital camp. It was a sorrowful sight to see the wounded soldiers all around town. The injured men would come on the trains and would be unloaded at the rock depot. Interestingly, it became the custom for Sam to meet every incoming train. Eventually, Sam also got to going around to all the hospitals to visit with the wounded soldiers. At first the people looking after the injured men asked the doctor about "that 01d dog." The doctor told them to leave Sam alone, because Sam was doing more good for the men than they could ever do. You see, Sam gave the men something to look forward to, and Sam's visits helped them to have something close by to remind them of home. .
Well, the war was finally over in 1865, and Aaron came back to Forsyth. As the: train approached the station, the young man looked out the window and saw trusty 01d Sam on the dock of the station, greeting the train. Aaron was surprised to see Sam so far away from home. It seemed as if his dog knew that his master would be on the train.
Aaron got off the train, looked around for Sam, and asked Fred, "Where's Sam? I thought I saw him."
"That's impossible. You must be mistaken, Aaron," Fred sadly replied. "It was several weeks ago when the Yankees had come into Forsyth to loot and to ruin the town. While the Yankees were getting everyone out of the stores, all at once Sam started barking and ran off down toward the depot.
"'What's wrong with that dog?” a Yankee soldier
"One of the townspeople told the soldier, 'Well, a train is on the way, and that dog always meets every train coming from the north into Forsyth.'
"Upon hearing this bit of information, the Yankee troopers hopped on their horses and took off down to the depot as quickly as they could. Yes, sir, they thought they were going to capture themselves a train! In the process of their hastily getting to the depot, the troopers overtook Sam and killed your dog by trampling upon him with their horses. However, when they got to the depot to capture the train, the soldiers found out that the war was over.
Fred continued, "I didn't see Sam get run over, but one of the older gentlemen, who had been wounded, was still in Forsyth, and he saw what had happened to the poor dog. The gentleman picked Sam up and brought him down to the depot, where he buried the faithful greeter of the trains over there."
Fred pointed to a spot next to the old rock building, which was the depot in Forsyth at that time.
After he heard the story, Aaron was grieved that he had lost his companion. But in the meantime, Fred told his friend some good news. Several puppies-nobody doubted that the puppies belonged to Sam-had been born a few weeks after Sam had been ran over by the Yankees. So Fred gave Aaron one of the puppies. .
"What are you going to call it?" asked Fred.
"I reckon I'll have to call him “Sam the Second,'"
And that's the story, ladies and gentlemen, about the ghost dog of Forsyth, Georgia, as I heard the story told by those who heard the story as it was passed around Forsyth since 1865.
THE OLD TRAIN DEPOT
Home of Monroe County Museum and Genealogy Room
I-75 Exit 186 – Tift College Drive
P. O. Box 401
BUILT in 1898, the Old Train Depot is a charming Victorian structure and is a beloved feature landmark in Forsyth. Major restoration was completed in 1993 which includes a "state of the art" museum. A genealogy room is an added attraction. Next door is a restored freight depot built in 1917 and within easy walking distance is Forsyth's first railway depot, a "well preserved stone - building build in 1846 which served as an unloading point for wounded Confederate stoops during the War Between the States. At one time as many as thirty two trains passed through Forsyth in one day - sixteen Southern and sixteen Central of Georgia. Noteworthy is the fact that the first railroad in Georgia was the Monroe Railroad., built in 1838. running from Macon to Forsyth. When the train reached Forsyth a unique turntable was used to reverse direction and return it to Macon.