William Donovan (1826 -1894):

Due to the lack of information on the internet, I do not have much information on William Donovan. If you know anymore, please email me.

Not in chronological order.

Born: June 11, 1826 In Quebec, Canada

Death: April 30, 1894

-Between 1850 and 1860, a family of Irish immigrants came to this area. Donovan’s parents, Owen and Ellen Melanie Donovan, were born in the Parish of Cloin, County Cork, Ireland. The family then moved to Quebec, Canada and William was born here in 1826. Later they lived at Albany, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before coming to Augusta, Georgia during the time of the building of the Georgia Railroad. William is listed on the 1860 census as a “Steam Mill Sawyer”

-After the contract with the Georgia Railroad was completed, the Donovans built some of the finest public and private buildings in Augusta. They were also in the construction business in Burke and Jefferson Counties and lived around Stellaville.

-Young William’s energy and enterprise fitted him for a wider sphere of usefulness. He invisioned the future of the great lumber interests then concentrated in the pinelands along the central of Georgia. This new field of interest and industry brought him in contact with wealthy men of action: the Wadley Brothers (William and Dole?) and the Smart Brothers of Savannah. Their pursuits and associated work are an important part of the history and developement of Georgia.

-He was married to Sarah Speir Green, Daughter of James Speir.

-In the years to follow, he was to become a large land owner, a partner in businesses without number engaged in the growth and developement of Wadley, and most important of all, a builder of railroads. He said to have declared this to be his greatest ambition.

-He began construction of the Wadley and Mt. Vernon Railway as a tram road to convey the lumber from his mill down in the piney woods to the Central at Wadley. He was the only one to reperesent our town among those who chartered the Louisville and Wadley Railroad. He is quoted as saying that this railroad must be built if he had to hire the Louisville Cornet Band to ride the cow-catcher and furnish music for the workmen constructing the road. He was also instrumental in the organization of the Wadley Southern and influenced the decision making Wadley it’s teminal point with the Central.

-In 1873, Donovan operated a saw mill near the Central Railroad and put down a wood or tram road running from his mill to the point on the railroad known as Wadley* 

-Donovan was the first mayor of Wadley. 

-William Donovan Founded Wadley.

-Donovan was a good friend of the president of the Central of Georgia Railway, William Wadley therefore he gave it the name Wadley.

-Donovan gave lumber and a lot for a school building. Mr George Johnson from Wadley, taught at the first school.

-William Donovan also gave the lot on which the Wadley Baptist Church now stands.

-“Lastly, we must remark on his great physical attributes and charm for the ladies. His is a record never equaled in Jefferson County and rarely elseware. Between 1857 and 1894 he married six times. He left four sons and two daughters whose descendants have worked for the cultural and educational advancement of the town down through the years. Upon the dedication of our new library in 1976, six of them gave a handsome portrait of him to hang there in honor of our first mayor.”***

Donovan is buried in Bethany Cemetery, In Wadley.

Bethany Cemetery, Article from Wadley City Hall, And Local People.

Notes:*=Copied directly from an article from city hall, ***=Copied as is from the book “Over the Ogeechee” by Eunice S. Bryant.

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