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Robert Burns Lives!
The 100th Anniversary of the Laying of the Cornerstone at Robert Burns Cottage By the Burns Club of Atlanta.

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

The Magical Number 100

Program copy courtesy of Jim Montgomery, Atlanta, GA

There is something magical about the number 100. Remember your first $100 bill? I sure do! I can remember when my dream in college was to make $100 a week. I recently met a lovely lady in Greenville, South Carolina during a visit to speak to the Greenville American History Club. She was a vivacious and beautiful 97-year-old who will quite likely live past her 100th birthday. For years I had a much older friend from New Orleans who was much younger in spirit than I, and he lived into his 100th year. I have been writing and editing the Robert Burns Lives! web site for several years and it now consists of 99 articles. I wanted the 100th to be something special, a song of joy and a celebration of history. What better way to celebrate my 100th article than to write about the 100th anniversary of Atlanta’s Robert Burns Cottage? Imagine, 100 articles and, much more importantly, a cottage built in 1910, celebrating its 100th anniversary!

The Burns cottage is unique and as current club president Eddie Morgan was recently quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “It’s a very special place.” It honors Scotland’s Poet, Robert Burns. The cottage still opens its doors, 100 years later, for members and their guests the first Wednesday of each month. It was built by men of vision with Joseph Jacobs being the leader of the pack. Who was he? Well, when Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, concocted an unknown drink, he walked down the street one day in May 1886 to Jacobs’ Pharmacy and history, as well as billions of dollars, were made over the years when owner Jacobs added a wee bit of carbonated water to the syrupy drink putting Coca-Cola “within arms reach” of millions of people who were seeking the “pause that refreshes”.

Jacobs purchased a little land on the edge of Atlanta and a small Scottish home was built replicating that of the cottage in Alloway, Scotland where Robert Burns was born. So how do you celebrate a building that is already on the National Register of Historical Places? If my math is right, it adds up to 1,200 monthly meetings but does not include the annual Burns Night suppers, numerous weddings and social gatherings of other groups. That’s a lot of wear and tear but remember, the old gal was made of Stone Mountain granite and today looks very appealing to the eyes of this Scotsman. Membership has included just about every occupation imaginable. But no matter the personal status of anyone who walks through the front door, once inside everyone is equal.

What happened back on November 5, 1910 was celebrated 100 years later by a hearty crowd of Burnsians at 4 p.m. on November 5, 2010, a cold Friday afternoon. Let me walk you through the highlights of that wonderful occasion.

Richard Graham, past president of the Burns Club of Atlanta, welcomed those gathered and introduced special guests. He familiarized those present with a poem written and read at the 1910 dedication by Maj. Charles Hubner, a club member and “Poet Laureate of the South”. Our own beloved and distinguished member, David M. Jones, himself a past president and retired professor, reread Hubner’s poem entitled “The Burns Cottage”.

Richard Graham, along with State of Georgia Masonic officers,
bringing the dedication ceremony to order

David Morgan Jones

B. Palmer Mills, Masonic grand master, along with State of Georgia Masonic officers, led attendees in a rededication of the 1910 cornerstone after which everyone was piped into the cottage by fellow member George C. McClellan.

Partial view of those present at dedication

New cornerstone plaque

At the conclusion of a deliciously catered reception inside the cottage, Dr. Edward T. Morgan, current president of the Burns Club of Atlanta, welcomed one and all and introductions were made by vice president David Grant. Among guests who spoke were Annabelle Malin, HBM consul general, David Baird, Robert Burns World Federation president, and Federation senior vice president James Shields who added much humor to the occasion. Mr. Graham then read a proclamation from the Governor of Georgia for the event.

David Baird

(L-R):  David Baird and Eddie Morgan

(L-R):  Victor Gregg and Eddie Morgan

One of the highlights of the evening were remarks by Professor G. Ross Roy, founding director of the Rare Books & Special Collections at the University of South Carolina, and his colleague Dr. Patrick Scott, director, both of whom are honorary members of the Burns Club of Atlanta.

(L-R):  Drs. Jim Flannery (Emory University Yates Professor) and Ross Roy

Dr. Patrick Scott

International Time Capsule Society president Paul S. Hudson commented on the new 100-year-old capsule and stone bench that club members have been filling with written comments and memorabilia under the direction of Victor Gregg, club historian and past president. The stone bench was constructed and given to the club by member Beaux Pettys working in conjunction with club superintendent Charlie Bogle. Items collected for the capsule include programs from recent Burns Night Dinners, a copy of the club centennial DVD produced by club member Dr. Phil Benton, and a set of the Burns Club/Stone Mountain Highland Games pins created by former president Tom Burns.”

HBM Consul General Annabelle Malin

As suggested by member Jim Montgomery, the stone bench will be inscribed as follows:

November 5, 2010
In grateful appreciation
the vision and dedication
those Atlanta Burnsians of 1910

As is the custom the first Wednesday of each month and at each annual Burns Supper, the crowd circled up and ended the festivities by singing Auld Lang Syne made famous by Robert Burns.

The photos of the dedication used in this article were taken by club member, Bill Tucker, editor of the Burns Club of Atlanta newsletter, and we wish to thank him as well for sharing his pictures with us.

Used with permission of club historian Victor Gregg

Many thanks to past president Jim Montgomery for designing and providing the collector’s quality program for this great event. Jim has provided highly innovative programs on Burns Night Dinners for many years. Each program bears his own imprint: “Printed at the Sign of The Head & Anchor. JMM”

Note the different roofs

For additional articles about the Burns Cottage of Atlanta on the Robert Burns Lives! web site, click on URL and go to the following chapters:

(1) Chapter 19 - Who are These Burns People?

(2) Chapter 30 - A Place To Come To

(3) Chapter 44 - From Scotland’s newspaper The Sunday Post, “His Alloway Cottage - in Atlanta, USA”

(FRS: 11.11.10)

Return to Robert Burns Lives! Index Page


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