Pappy Maddox of Orange

by Bruce Baker

The Orange community has a few colorful characters in its history (pardon the pun), and not just potters. One such fellow was Joseph Jefferson Maddox, also known as J. J. Maddox, Pappy Maddox, and Captain Maddox. Born in 1835, he died in 1912, and if you’d asked him he’d have said he led an unremarkable life. But the benefit of hindsight often reveals that an ordinary life was in fact extraordinary. The world kept changing around J. J. Maddox, in ways that would repeatedly take him out of Cherokee County.

Born in Cass County (which would later be renamed Bartow County), by the time of the 1850 census he lived with his parents in Cherokee County. But in December of 1857, the family farm would be part of land ceded by Cherokee County to form Milton County. A short while later he built a house of his own, and in so doing made his first “return” to Cherokee County (more on that later).When the US Civil War broke out in 1861, he found himself serving as an officer in the Confederate Army, leaving the County behind once again to serve the Confederacy. Here his fortunes took a dark turn, as Captain Maddox would eventually be captured at the absolute worst possible time.

After the war, J.J. Maddox returned to Cherokee County for a second time, to the house he’d built before, and also a general merchandise store across the street from his home in Orange, GA. Located near Lathemtown, J.J. Maddox’s store also served as the Orange Post Office, whose postmaster was Mr. Hamrick. The upstairs room in his store was also used for a time as the Masonic Lodge. It’s believed That Pappy Maddox remained there until his death, when he would leave Cherokee County one final time, to be buried in Milton County in the family plot. Even in death, it seems he couldn’t stay put, as some 20 years after his passing, under the threat of bankruptcy during the Great Depression in 1932, Fulton County would in fact absorb Milton County into itself. While he hadn’t physically moved, he’s now in Fulton County.

Pappy Maddox never managed to stay in Cherokee County, and his store didn’t either. But you can still visit it even today… just not at the crossroads where it once stood in Orange. Confederate Captain Maddox’s store now is under the watchful eye of the relief sculptures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson: it’s now the Old Country Store at the antebellum plantation at Stone Mountain Park.

The Cherokee County History Center recently opened a temporary exhibit that features the unique style of pottery that emerged from Eastern Cherokee County during the 1900s. Today it’s known as Orange Pottery, not for reasons of color, but because it was produced in a small community called Orange. If you’ve never seen a ring jug, you should check it out; they are quite unique.

History Cherokee's Cherokee County History Center is a museum with the mission of preserving and sharing Cherokee County’s rich past from pre-history to modern day. Stay in touch with the latest happenings by subscribing to emails and newsletters at the bottom of this page.