Southern Railway

This is a drawing of the setup for the Southern Railway train carrying President Theodore Roosevelt on his trip to Roswell in 1905.

On October 20, 1905 there was a lot of excitement about a special visitor to Chamblee, Dunwoody and Roswell. President Theodore Roosevelt was traveling to Roswell to see his mother’s childhood home. His wife Edith Kermit Roosevelt accompanied him on the trip. They would be riding the Roswell Railroad from Chamblee through Dunwoody to the Roswell Station, which sat on a hill south of the Chattahoochee River. The remainder of the trip would be made by horse and carriage. 

Theodore Roosevelt’s mother was Martha (Mittie) Bulloch of Roswell, and his father was Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. of New York. They married at Roswell Presbyterian Church in 1853.  The president heard his mother tell stories of the place she grew up in, and in 1901 he began thinking of a visit. Bulloch Hall still stands today, owned by the City of Roswell and supported by Friends of Bulloch, Inc.  

The two engines for the Roswell Railroad, Dinkey and Old Buck, were both attached to President Roosevelt’s Southern Railway car for this momentous occasion. Ike Roberts, engineer of the Roswell Railroad, drove the train slowly that day. People were gathered along the side of the railroad tracks, cheering as he blew the train whistle and rang the bell. The train came along what is now Chamblee Dunwoody Road and passed by the Dunwoody Depot, which sat in the area between where CVS and Chevron are today. 

The train arrived at the Roswell Station at 6 a.m. A carriage met the train to carry the president and first lady to Roswell, accompanied by mounted police. The Marietta Band provided music for the event and played “Home Sweet Home.” (Franklin Garrett, Atlanta and Environs, Volume II)  

Sen. Alexander Stephens Clay of Georgia and wife Sara Frances Clay joined the president and first lady for breakfast. Warren Crockett, who fought along with Theodore Roosevelt in Troop D of the Rough Riders, was also there and shook hands with his comrade. (Roswell Railroad Maps of Michael Hitt and Chuck Brown)

Bulloch Hall was owned at the time by Mrs. J.B. Wing, and she greeted the president and first lady when they arrived at his mother’s childhood home. The next stop was Roswell Presbyterian Church for a reception. (roswellhistoricalsociety.org)

The Cherokee Advance Newspaper of Canton, Georgia, reported that thousands gathered in Roswell to watch. Roosevelt commented, “You have no idea of how much it means to me to come back to Roswell, to the home of my mother and of my mother’s people.” 

Catherine King Baker, the daughter of Barrington King, lived at Barrington Hall at the time. The story goes that she would not attend the festivities that day, expecting President Roosevelt to visit her in her home. He made that his last stop before leaving Roswell and heading on to Atlanta.

You can email Valerie at pasttensega@gmail.com or visit pasttensega.com.

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