Martha Low Fort
Inscription and Notes:
w/o Dr. Tomlinson Fort
Augusta Chronicle June 22, 1883
Departed this life Thursday, June 14, at her residence in Macon,
Ga., Mrs. Martha Low Fort, nee Fannin, after a lingering illness, in the 80th
year of her age. The subject of this sketch, long a resident of Macon, was a
remarkable woman and true type of Southern character and manners, in the olden
times and palmy days of the republic.
From an interesting family record, which might indeed be considered an autobiography of the deceased, the writer was permitted to gather the following incidents to the life and career of this excellent lady.
Mrs. Fort, was born on the 8th of January, 1804, in Putnam county, Georgia, about fifteen miles from Eatonton, the county site. It is a curious fact that her father, Joseph D. Fannin, one of the earliest settlers of Putnam, imported the first mule ever brought to the county, and also introduced the now famous Bermuda grass from a few roots obtained in Augusta and transported in his saddle bags.
On October 28, 1824, Miss Fannin was united in marriage with Dr. Tomlinsom Fort, at Madison, Ga., and resided forty years with her husband at Milledgeville. The house they occupied is still standing and is now used as a parsonage by the Methodists. It is located on the corner of Greene and Liberty streets. [The house has since been moved to the corner of Franklin and Liberty Streets (webmaster's note, 2003).] Dr. Fort was for many years a prominent figure in Georgia politics, and as the energetic editor of the Federal Union newspaper, the received organ of the Democratic party, was a power in the State.
Two years after their marriage, in 1826, her husband having been elected to the Congress of the United States, Mrs. Fort accompanied him to Washington. They traveled in their own carriage as railroads and steamboats were then fast locked in the womb of time. At the national Capital Mrs. Fort at once took rank among the leaders of society, and became the familiar acquaintance and associate of the illustrious personages of the time. Among her visiting friends were Edward Everett and wife, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster. Her description of the brilliant eyes and the noble bearing of the great Carolina Senator is worthy of mention The subject of this sketch graphically describes the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson and his grand appearance on horseback in the long procession which marched up Pennsylvania avenue. Returning from Washington to Georgia after the adjournment of Congress, again was the journey accomplished by private conveyance and slow stages, with necessary intervals of rest. Six weeks were used upon the road ere they beheld the turrets of the old capital and were again domiciled in their Milledgeville home.
When Georgia succeeded and the whole country was ablaze with enthusiasm, true to the memory of her loved husband who had deceased in 1859, and was ever known as the consistent enemy of "nullification" and a staunch friend of the Union, she refused to illuminate her dwelling, forecasting the deluge of blood in the future, and the inevitable catastrophe which had its consummation at Appomattox Court House. Like the lamented Stephens, however, and many other patriots, when the die was cast and the State severed by its own act from the Federal union, she threw her whole soul into the Confederate struggle, and diligently wrought with her own hands for the illy provided soldiers of the "Lost cause".
Mrs. Fort sent three of her sons (all who were able to bear arms) to the Southern camps, and right gallantly did they ever demean themselves in the "thickest of the fray". She, herself was the president of the Baldwin County "Relief Association", one of the first institutions of the kind in the South, and labored with tireless energy for the support and comfort of our suffering braves. It is related that no less than 100 pairs of socks were knitted by her own hands for the barefooted warriors of the Confederacy. [It is written elsewhere that Martha Low Fort organized the Ladies Aid Society during the War Between the States. The ladies made clothing as well as 3000 "buck and ball" cartridges per day in support of the war effort.]
In 1863, by the death of her daughter, Mrs. Julia Hugenin, of Macon, her children, five in number and of tender years, were bequeathed to her, together with the stately mansion on Jefferson Street, then occupied by the deceased. Mrs. Fort cheerfully accepted the trust, and removing immediately to this city, entered at once upon the grave responsibilities devolved upon her. How faithfully she performed her duty to the stricken orphans-in her old age virtually rearing another young family-they can grateful answer for themselves. Never was a woman more honored and beloved by her descendants to the third generation.
At the funeral, which was conducted in Milledgeville by her pastor, Rev. Joseph Key, D.D., a goodly number of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were present. Gently and bedewed with tears did they consign the remains of their honored ancestor to its kindred dust, by the side of the husband who had shared with here the largest portion of the joys and vicissitudes of a long and eventful existence. Ever happy and harmonious in life, their union is now eternal.
Mrs. Fort was the devoted mother of thirteen children, four of who died in infancy. Three passed away in mature years, viz.: Miss Susan E. Fort, aged twenty-three; George W. Fort, aged forty, and Mrs. Julia E. Huguenin, relict of Colonel E.D. Huguenin, who died at the age of thirty-eight. The survivors, six in number, occupy useful positions in society and their names are as follows: Mrs. Judge R. J. Morgan, of Memphis, Tenn. Mrs. Julius L. Brown, of Atlanta, Ga. Mrs. H. O. Milton, of Chattanooga, Tenn. Miss Kate H. Fort, of Macon, Ga. Tomlinson Fort, Esq., of Chattanooga, Tenn. Captain John P. Fort of this city. The children of Mrs. Julia E. Huguenin, who were reared by their grandmother, are also well known in this community. Their names are Edward D. Huguenin, Esq., Mrs J. Marsh Johnston, Miss J. Dora Huguenin and Mrs. B.M. Tarver.
The venerable lady of who we write was possessed of many sterling and salient traits of character. Prominent among these was her unswerving integrity in all the relations of life. The open-handed hospitality of Mrs. Fort was proverbial. Of her, too, it has been said that no beggar was ever turned away from her door. Thus did her years pass away to extreme old age in the midst of a numerous family circle, of which she was the central figure, beloved and revered by every member. At length the "silver cord" was "loosed, the "pitcher broken at the fountain" and all that was mortal of this noble woman lay cold in death. But the immortal spirit has winged its flight to that "better land" where the righteous receive their reward and the weary are at rest.
Mrs. Fort was a consistent member of the Methodist church, and her funeral obsequies were appropriately celebrated in Milledgeville, where she now sleeps the "sleep that knows no waking" by the side of her beloved husband.