The Wilkinson Stump Butler Collection :
A families contribution to Lowndes County and Beyond
Artifacts were donated to the museum by Caroline Stump Butler in 1985. The collection contained various artifacts that related to her family history, Lowndes County history and beyond. A collection of 1912 postcards, a grand tour, documented a trip enjoyed by eight Valdosta citizens, including mother of Caroline Stump Butler -Marion Wilkinson (Stump). The trip itinerary was researched and partially pieced together. Recently, the museum was honored by the family visiting Valdosta. They generously shared more information and documentation of the trip and family. In preparation for the visit, a small display was researched and set up for viewing. For those wishing to see this exhibit in person, it will be on display on the 2nd floor of the main building at the museum through spring 2020. For those unable to visit during this time, and for the future, please enjoy the record of the exhibit below.
The Lowndes County connection of this family began with James Marion Wilkinson who was born in Tattnall County in 1852. According to the Men of The Mark Vol VI he reflected that growing up on the family farm taught life lesson including the importance of persistent hard work 6 days a week. He came to Valdosta as a young man to practice law and had an interest in development in industry and the towns in the county as is evident by all he accomplished in his life time. Searching the Valdosta Times, it was recorded he was elected mayor of Valdosta three consecutive terms from 1882-1885. After retiring from this position he served as city council under B.F. Whittington, mayor in 1885 and again in 1888 under W.L. Thomas, mayor, according to the History of Lowndes County Ga 1825-1941. He was also one of the Trustees of the Valdosta Institute and when it became the first public school, he served on the school board. When South Georgia Normal College (now Valdosta State University) celebrated its opening in 1913, he served as the toastmaster. He was also interested in the development of the railroad. When the “Old Spool Cotton Railroad” started by J&P Coats graded but abandoned the project in this area, James Marion Wilkinson and company took up the charge completing the railway through Madison, Fl, (This is now, in part, the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy which runs from Madison, Fl along the Four Freedoms Trail and ends at the Georgia/ Florida line at the Withlacoochee River where remnants of the railway bridge can still be seen.) He was also instrumental in installing the first railway station in Clyattville retaining a turpentine still there. He charted a Valdosta Land company in May of 1890 for which he was president. Another accomplishment was in the overseeing of the establishments of lots in the town of Lake Park as it was formed. The Valdosta Times stated July 12, 1890 that the laying off of Lake Park was completed and maps made. 1000 businesses and lots were for sale. J.M.Wilkinson’s law office was sited in order to procure prices, terms, and maps.
On February 8, 1883, J.M. Wilkinson married Caroline “Carrie” Howell. They had three children: Howell Kirkland, Mary Adair and Marion.
Mary Adair Wilkinson married Hugh Mason Dorsey a prominent lawyer. Mary Adair Wilkinson Dorsey became first lady of Georgia when her husband was appointed governor of Georgia 1916 and reelected in 1918 and was appointed judged of city court of Atlanta in 1926.
The Wilkinson’s third child Marion Wilkinson (Stump) 1889-1974, is the family line by whom this collection originated. At the age of 22 years old in 1912, she was permitted to be part of the Valdosta party that took the grand tour. Anne Sockwell in her “Brief Gathering of Information about the Howells, Kirklands, Smiths and Stumps For Enjoyment of our Family wrote about her grandmother eloquently… “It is probable that her father hoped by means of this extended absence to dislodge her affections from her suitor, J Harry Stump.” Marion documented her trip through postcards sometimes sending them to family with instructions to save them, other times just collecting them. In addition, Marion preserved a map in which she traced their route and faithfully wrote eloquently in her journey diary, both of which the family recently and generously brought to the museum. The map was gifted to the museum and the diary was permitted to be electronically scanned as well as her passport and other interesting family documents. She collected lace and pieces of Assuit textiles on this trip which were donated in 1985 by her daughter Caroline Stump Butler. We are currently still processing information on this trip. For more information on the Assuit textiles see our shawl web page at https://valdostamuseum.com/collections/textiles/shawls-and-capes/
After her father’s death, Marion Wilkinson married Joseph Harry Stump in 1919. After his military service they returned to Valdosta, Ga and raised their two children Joseph Harry Stump Jr. and Caroline Stump (Butler).
Daughter of Marion and Joseph Harry Stump, Caroline Howell Stump Butler (1922- 2008) is the donor of this original acquisition in 1985. She joined the Red Cross in service to her country during WWII. According to Albert Pendleton, in an interview with Caroline Butler for a news column “Way Back When” (Valdosta Daily Times, March 1,1988) reported that during this service ” interestingly enough she took some of the same route as her mother, Marion Wilkinson Stump, took in 1912 on the grand tour with the W.S. Wests” only via C-54 cargo planes! Caroline married Carl Butler and was stationed in Germany where he was away often on TDY. Therefore, her mother Marion-widowed by 1959, came and stayed with her and the two traveled extensive. For more information on Caroline Stump Butler please see our Red Cross web page at https://valdostamuseum.com/collections/textiles/red-cross-textiles/
As noted earlier, this family is still involved in keeping the history not only bringing the museum more information, artifacts, and research; but also as members of DAR, the Lowndes County Historical Museum, and generational presidents of Rotary to name a few contributions.