This story appears in Carroll County and her People by Private Joe Cobb:
Plug Uglies, was a name assumed by an informal and disorganized organization of school boys at Carrollton in 1866, between the ages of fifteen and twenty years, for fun.
In 1857, when John and Chas. Rodahan built the first brick court house–for ten thousand dollars–the old wooden court house, two stories high, was rolled off the square to the south-east corner, where Mr. Wyley Stewart’s store now stands. The old house was usually occupied by Dr. Tanner’s and “Uncle” Tom Chandler’s goats in the day time, and by the Plug Uglies at night. Lee was the regular elected captain, being the tallest and best one to plan “ways and means” for fun for the boys. The object was for nothing but innocent fun. Some of the older men and politicians were hard to convince that it was not for political purposes.
Being just after the Civil War, when government was in a state of chaos and the “Ku Klux Klan” was on the rampage in Georgia and the south. The Plug Uglies may have had some influence in deterring evil doers and suppressing crime, though that was not its object, but was for fun for the boys. They would fish, hunt and bathe together. Often at night, between the hours of 9 and 11 o’clock they would meet, make speeches, go serenading with old tin pans for tambourines, kettle drums or anything with which to make a noise. There was a quartet of excellent singers, led by Cliff, who as everyone knows is an expert vocalist. They would always be treated by the good matrons to cakes, pies and other good eatables at once, so as to get rid of the boys.
Carrollton’s witty poet, George, expressed of the Plugs the day after Christmas, in the first verse of a poem which was published thus:
“’Twas Christmas night–the solem clock
Had tolled the hour of one,
When Olifton, with a dozen more,
Resolved to have some fun.”
The poem gave an account of what was done by the Plugs that night; unhung gates, removed buggy wheels, rang the school and church bells, serenaded, and engaged in other “innocent” amusements. When the bells were ringing some believed it was a fire alarm and that jovial, good natured gentleman who had a store up town, Col. John B. Beall, drew a picture of himself that night as he ran to what he thought was a fire, with his hat flying behind him, as he hopped, jumped and ran with his stiff leg greatly in evidence. No real injury was done, no property damaged and everybody laughed and took it as a joke.
All of those boys are now old men; some dead, others married and have nice families and are amongst the best citizens of the county and state.
There is an organization now called Plug Uglies in Boston, Mass.–the object of which we are not informed, but no doubt took the name from the original Plug Uglies at Carrollton, for it was the only one ever heard of since 1866.
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