Online: See our special section on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War at timesfreepress.com/cw150.
IF YOU GO
* What: Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment
* When: Saturday, Sept. 21, with battles at 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 22, with a battle at 2 p.m.
* Where: Mountain Cove Farms, 838 Dougherty Gap Road, Chickamauga, GA 30707
* Online information: For the Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment, see www.150thanniversarychickamauga.com. To buy tickets, which cost $10 for one day or $15 for both days, go to http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/venueSearch.jsp?venue_id=9459
Coming Friday: A far-flung family returns to its roots.
Coming this weekend: Coverage of the Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment
For Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind,” nothing was more important than saving Tara, the family’s mansion and plantation.
For Darrell Daugherty — not so much. He doesn’t mind that Walker County, Ga., owns his family’s ancestral home.
“I’m glad the county has taken over,” he said.
The 79-year-old Ringgold, Ga., man’s great-great-grandfather was William Dougherty, a successful lawyer who in the 1830s built a stone mansion that still stands in McLemore’s Cove at the foot of Lookout and Pigeon mountains. Dougherty owned thousands of acres there that he got through a land lottery after the Cherokee Indian removal.
When Civil War re-enactors and spectators flock this week to the Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment, they’ll basically be on William Dougherty’s front lawn. The antebellum mansion, recently renovated, is part of Walker County’s Mountain Cove Farms, where the event will be held.
“I didn’t think anything about it when I was growing up,” said Daugherty, whose mother changed his last name so it’s spelled with an “a” instead of an “o.” He was born in LaFayette, Ga., and lived in Rossville before leaving at age 17 to serve four years in the U.S. Navy. That stint was followed by 16 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, including service in Vietnam.
“My father, he never did say much about it,” said Daugherty, whose dad, Marion Henry Dougherty, died in 1947. “When I was a child, they just talked about [how] the Doughertys owned it at one time.”
It wasn’t until the late 1990s, when Daugherty learned how to use a personal computer and began researching websites such as ancestry.com, that he delved into the details of his family’s history.
“I never really did know any of this stuff until I started researching,” he said.
His wife, Beth, encouraged him.
“He just was not interested in it for so long,” she said. “I feel like I kind of pushed him.”
One of the unearthed documents that Daugherty proudly shares is an 1873 report from the Supreme Court of Georgia that praises his great-great-grandfather, who died the year before at age 67.
“From New York to New Orleans he was sought for as a lawyer, and even at his advanced age he enjoyed a very heavy and lucrative practice,” it states in part. “The death of William Dougherty has not only cast a gloom over this Court-room, but throughout the limits of this State.”
Daugherty once saw a photo of his great-great-grandfather at a Florida cousin’s house. But she has since died and the photo has vanished.
“I’m still kicking myself for not getting it,” said Daugherty. “He looked kinda like me, only he was better looking.”
Daugherty does have a portrait of his great-grandfather Will Dougherty, who fought for the Confederacy and lost his right arm in the Battle of Petersburg.
Another prominent ancestor was Daugherty’s grandfather’s uncle, Charles Dougherty, who served for years in the Florida Legislature and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
He never married, but had a girlfriend to whom he wrote love letters on U.S. House of Representatives stationery.
“I dreamed that we were in Northwest Georgia and were riding up the side of Lookout Mountain together, and that you looked back and asked me, ‘Why have I not told you’re the beauties of that region?’ reads an 1886 letter about McLemore’s Cove. “I am unable to describe it, for it was beautiful, the pleasantest dream I have had for years, perhaps in my life.”
Darrell and Beth Daugherty don’t plan to attend the battle re-enactment at Mountain Cove Farm due to health issues, but they would like to visit the old family mansion someday, now that it’s remodeled.
The land Daugherty’s great-great-grandfather got in the 1830s land lottery has come full circle, he said, since the county and state in 2008 acquired the 1,839-acre Mountain Cove Farms.
“Now it’s gone back to the state — just like where it was to start with,” he said.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.