Gibson, W.O. - Letter to the editor re: William ("Billy") Mizell

Charlton County Herald

September 22, 1933

To the Editor of the Herald:

A few days ago, when I stepped into the Citizens Bank, a photograph hanging on the wall attracted my attention and the features so familiar to me seemed to say “Come in, Owen, I’m glad to see you.” Standing before and looking at it I began to meditate as I always do when something I see or hear stirs my emotions.

The photograph was of William Mizell, Sr. whose life in later years it is unnecessary for me to speak, for others knew him too. But as there are only two living persons whose acquaintance with him antedates mine, these two persons are his sisters, Mrs. Martha Lang and Mrs. Lucy Lang.

I wish to say a few words concerning his early life and in doing so I wish to compare conditions then with those of the present time.

In my meditations, memory carried me back about three-fourths of a century to the first school he and I ever attended. That school was in a small building out in the woods and was built of pine logs free from which the bark had not been removed. A door in one end was the only opening and the seats were puncheons near the wall on each side and across the back end. The floor was a few square feet of the dry land that appeared when the world was only three days old. The teacher was Mr. Peter deYoung, a well-educated Frenchman who spoke good English and the scholars were Martha, Lucy, Everett and Billy Mizell, Lizzie and Seaborn Mills, Kate and Sol Vickery, John and Tom Kennison and Jimmy Hagin and myself.

Where are they now? Everett Mizell and Sol Vickery have lain under the soil of Virginia since the fearful destruction of human life in the Civil War. Billy Mizell is resting in Folkston Cemetery, Lizzie and Seaborn Mills are peacefully sleeping in the family cemetery almost in speaking distance of the spot of their birth. John and Tom Kennison are taking their rest near their home in life. Jimmy Hagin lies besides his mother in an old cemetery near the place where the school house stood, and Kate Vickery is taking her last long slumber in Sardis Cemetery while Mrs. Martha and Mrs. Lucy Lang and myself are the only survivors of that school and we are past our four score years.

Few indeed were the years that Billy Mizell spent in school, but he acquired sufficient learning to accumulate honest dollars and to use them in a way to benefit others as well as himself.

When he was a young man he could convert a raw deer skin into as fine a piece of dressed leather as ever left the hands of a Seminole Indian. He was an expert in laying off straight rows with a plow across his father’s field and on through life he continued to plow a straight row. And the building and business where I stood in meditation near his picture will stand as a monument to his honesty and integrity when the marble in the cemetery may have been forgotten.

The transition of the schools from the little log house in the woods to the brick buildings in town is all right, but it remains to be seen how many boys who spend a half dozen or fewer hours in these buildings and have it called a day in school and perhaps think as much or more about baseball, basketball or radios than they do about books will leave behind them the name that my friend and schoolmate Billy Mizell has left behind him.

-----W. O. GIBSON

Charlton  County Archives