Tuesday, August 18, 2009


@Walton Media Services

The Wiregrass Poet

Ernest Camp was born in Swainsboro, Georgia in the early years of the 1880s. As a 12 year old, Ernest entered a Swainsboro printing office. At 16 years of age he began publishing "The Swainsboro News". Soon he began to work for the rival paper, "The Forest Blade." Camp began writing poetry at an early age. His works were published in Swainsboro and Adrian newspapers. Camp moved to Dublin in 1903 where he assumed the duties as editor of "The Dublin Times". Ernest Camp was a prolific poet, composing at least one poem every day, the compilation of which he called "Learned in Laurens". Ernest was soon given the name of "The Wiregrass Poet." He left Dublin for a short stint with "The Brunswick Journal." On January 1, 1906 Camp settled down in Monroe, Georgia taking the position of editor of "The Walton Tribune." He was only twenty five years old and made only $50.00 a month.

After one year Ernest Camp, bought all of the "Tribune's" stock and became the sole owner of the paper. Camp served two terms as president of the Georgia Press Association from 1925 to 1927. He was always interested in politics, especially those of the Democratic party of Georgia. He never held a political office. In 1912 he attended the Democratic national convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson. He returned to the convention twenty years later as one of the delegates who nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1928 and again in 1936, he served as an elector to the Electoral College. Camp was actively involved in Georgian Oscar Underwood's candidacy for President in 1924.

Ernest Camp and Irene Natalie Sanders were married in Dublin in 1905. Mrs. Camp's father, James Barnes Sanders, was a well respected attorney, mayor, and school teacher in Dublin. Her mother, Alice Ramsay, was a daughter of Col. Whiteford S. Ramsay, the most beloved man in Dublin during the latter half of the 19th century. Col. Ramsay served as minister of the First Baptist Church for over two decades and in 1876 founded the current day Laurens County and Dublin City school systems. Irene Camp died in 1932.

Ernest Camp was also known as the "October Poet." He was born and died in that month. His three published works from the presses in Monroe were: "Autumn Odes" (1923), "Autumn Anthems" (1938), and "Sojourns in Song." (1940). Camp died on October 22, 1957. Walter S. Robison eulogized Camp by saying "Ernest could hear voices. He read sermons in stones, books in the running brooks. I only wish I could read his description of the beauties of Heaven! In the glowing words of Sidney Lanier, 'His song was but a living aloud, his work a singing with his hand.' " In 1962, Ernest Camp was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame. He joined fellow Laurens Countian Hal M. Stanley and preceded Ernest Rogers and Madge Hilbun Methvin into the prestigious group of Georgia newspaper writers, editors, and executives.

One of Camp's favorites subjects was love or the loss of love. He entitled this poem:


Goodbye Miss Mary Johnson,
My love for you has fled.
You pinched me in the stummick
and you cracked me on the head.
You throwed me down the stair steps.
You kicked me out the door.
And now I think I've reason
For feeling mighty sore!
Goodbye, Miss Mary Johnson,
I loved you very strong,
And though my heart is breaking
I'll have to move along.
You called me Simple Simon
And you called me ugly Dan,
With a shotgun at your elbow
And a broomstick in your hand!
Camp seemed to have an attraction to goings on in the Buckhorn Community. This is one his more humorous looks at farm life in the Buckhorn community.

'Taters in the 'tater patch (Rilly, go
to scratchin')
Breeches holy all around (Mary, go to
Fences down an' cattle out (Johnny, go
to nailin')
Young'uns cryin' "grub is out" (Sally,
go a frailin)
Cotton waitin' in the fiel' (Sammy go
to pickin)
Syrup drippin' from the keg (Roger go
a lickin)
Prices off an' money short (Henry, cuss,
I'm saying)
Clouds aire dark - a storm is on (Jenny,
go a to prayin')

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