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Gustavus Alonzo Nunnally

3/24/1841 - 8/14/1917

 Educator, Soldier, Minister, College president, Orator and Author.

 

Tenth child of William Branch Nunnally and Mary Hale Talbot Nunnally, he was born on his father's plantation at Good Hope, Georgia, near Monroe, on March 24, 1841. His parents came to Georgia from Virginia in 1817. At 11, young Gus was sent to an academy in Madison. At 14, he entered the University of Georgia, and, four years later, was graduated with honors. While at the university, he professed his faith and united with the First Baptist Church of Athens.

On November 23, 1859, Gus Nunnally married Mary Catherine Briscoe, daughter of Ralph and Sara Catherine Dougherty Briscoe, of Monroe. Nuptial customs were different in those days. On the evening of the 22nd, Mary's brother was married, and, at his wedding reception, she invited her friends to come to her home the next evening to her wedding. Knowing that she had a number of beaux, they inquired concerning the identity of the groom. But Mary only smiled and said: "Come and see!" Attendants at hers and Gus's wedding were future Governor and Mrs. James Boynton and future Governor and Mrs. Henry D. McDaniel.

Young Nunnally taught school in Monroe until he became president of Hamilton College. He also began his preaching career, but, when war came, entered service, joining Company E, 9th Regiment, Infantry, Georgia State Guards as First Sergeant.  (His brother, Aaron Ferguson Nunnally (10/6/1836 - 9/18/1878) served in the same unit as a 2nd Lieutenant.) He was stationed at Rome, GA, for part of the war and was with Lee at Appomattox at the end. (AWayfarers in Walton@ has his military service incorrect).

During early reconstruction days, Gus Nunnally returned to his teaching post in Monroe, operated a farm, a gin, and a newspaper. On Sundays, the young man preached and served nearby Bethabara Church for 10 years. Then he was called to the First Baptist Church of Rome. Later he guided churches in Eufaula and Anniston, Alabama, in Memphis, Tennessee, and Newnan, Georgia.

In 1883, Mercer University conferred upon him the degree of D.D., and the University of Georgia honored him with an LL.D. degree. Early in the same year, Dr. Nunnally delivered the principal address at the laying of the cornerstone of the new courthouse of Walton County.

From 1889 to 1893, he was president of Mercer University, and of the Southern Female College in LaGrange for eight years. During four years of this time he served both as president of the latter college and pastor of the First Baptist Church. He became first president of Columbia College in Lake City, Florida, establishing a Baptist college there.

Gus Nunnally was a builder. At LaGrange and Mercer, he added a chapel, library, and he built a beautiful new dormitory and school building and modernized and improved the chapel. At one time, in addition to his regular pastoral duties, he was head of the Baptist Church building department in Georgia, and, at the same time, was assistant editor of the Christian Index.

Dr. Nunnally re-established the Mercer system of Baptist schools in the state. These included secondary schools and the three Baptist colleges, Mercer, Shorter, and Bessie Tift, of which he had personal, spiritual, and financial supervision. Until the end of his life, he was secretary and treasurer of the educational board of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Dr. and Mrs. Nunnally moved back to Rome in time to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1909. Here, surrounded by friends and distinguished guests, they led a rewarding life. Their son judge W. J. Nunnally made his home with them.

G. A. Nunnally was author of various religious articles, poems, and a book Bible Studies in Bible Words. He retained his interest in current events throughout life. At one time, he was a candidate for governor of Georgia, and, though he withdrew from the race, he made a number of eloquent speeches.

Gus Nunnally was one to promote the monument to the Women of the Confederacy which stands in Rome, and planned the figures executed by the sculptor. On one side is an inscription by Dr. Nunnally, on the other, words by Woodrow Wilson, then President of Princeton University. (Wilson=s wife was from Rome, GA, and he would go on to become the 28th President of the US, 1913 - 1921). After the death of his first wife, G. A. Nunnally married Mrs. Alla Holmes Cheney of Rome. Upon his death on August 14, 1917, we was buried at Monroe, Georgia.

His son, Judge William Josiah Nunnally (8/8/1862 -- 12/15/1945), served in the GA House of Representatives 1913 -- 1914.  He and related family are buried at Rome, GA.  

 

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Sources: >Wayfarers In Walton@, 1966; ANorthern Alabama@, 1888; and family papers.

Photo, 1998 from personal files.