"The Great Debater"
In Con Weddington's day, the sport of debating was usually reserved for only the most promising, brilliant and fine young men. To be a collegiate debater, and a champion one at that, guaranteed that one would rise to the level of most elite of the erudite, if one wasn't already there or thought that wealth equated brilliance. Con Weddington made that leap. His oratorical skills and debating prowess were rarely equaled in his days at the University of Georgia in the late 1800s. When he wasn't engaged in the study of law, philosophy and history, Con was wearing the tools of ignorance, a catcher's uniform for the Georgia Bulldogs baseball team.
Con Weddington was born on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year of 1874 in Douglas County, Georgia, a sleepy farming community west of Atlanta. The son of Charles William Weddington and his wife Virginia, Con was also known as Connie. When formally introduced, he was addressed as Cornelious Alexander Weddington, or simply, "C.A. Weddington," for short.
Charles Weddington was not financially able to send Con to a fine academy, so the young man learned what he could in the county schools. After completing his studies, Weddington returned to those same schools as a teacher.
At the age of 20, Con Weddington entered the University of Georgia on New Years' Day 1895. His life would change forever. Honors seemed to follow Con everywhere he went. He was elected Secretary of the Oratorical Association and in 1898, President. Con was also elected President of the Demosthenian Society.
But it would be in debate and oratory where Connie Weddington would make his greatest mark at Georgia. Weddington was awarded the medal for the university's best freshman and sophomore debater. He won the championship Debater's Medal in a highly publicized and honored debate with Emory University. The winner of the Stevens' Medal in debate, C0n Weddington was selected as speaker of the Junior and Senior Class at graduations.
Perhaps his greatest honor came on January 20, 1896 during an oratorical contest held in the university chapel. Weddington spoke to a capacity crowd, including at least a hundred aging Confederate Veterans. For his speech, "The Spirit of '61," Weddington was awarded the highly coveted Shropshire Medal.
Con Weddington was a pretty fair country baseball player. He joined the team in his freshman year and played all four of his years at Georgia. He began his baseball career as a catcher and ended it at first base. In 1896, his teammates elected him to captain the sophomore squad. While at Georgia, Weddington did his share of duty as a 4th sergeant in the university's military department.
After his graduation in 1898, Con Weddington began his study of the law with the firm of Dorsey, Brewster and Howell in the capital city of Atlanta. He came to Dublin at the dawn of the 20th Century to practice law. He lived with his cousin, Dr. James Weddington. In December 1901, he married the love of his life, Miss Georgia V. Smith, daughter of real estate magnate J.D. Smith. The couple had three children, Virginia, Gladys and Con, Jr.
When he first came to Dublin, Weddington resumed his military career as the captain of the "Dublin Guards," Company A, 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Georgia State Troops. He also resumed his baseball career playing along side James on the city's semi pro baseball team. As the first commander, Weddington helped to establish the first camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1901. In April of 1903, Weddington joined fellow lawyer Kendrick J. Hawkins in establishing the Dublin Times, a forerunner of the Courier Herald. That same year, Colonel Weddington was honored when he was named attorney for the City of Dublin, a post which he held until 1905.
Active in fraternal organizations, Con Weddington was the first member of the Dublin Elks Club, serving as the club's Exalted Ruler. He was a Mason and a member of the Olivet Commandery of the Knights Templar as well as being a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, Sinah Temple, Macon, Georgia. Weddington held the office of Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias and Grand Master of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows.
In 1913, Weddington was elected Mayor of the City of Dublin, having been a popular and capable Clerk of the Council for many years.
Not soon after his mayoral term ended, the Weddingtons moved to the blooming city of Cochran where he would practice law. In the early 1920s, Weddington was made the acting postmaster of the seat of the newly organized Bleckley County.
The convivial Con Weddington was rarely without a friend nearby. Always affable, his host of faithful friends were suddenly shocked and stupefied when the news spread throughout Cochran that the town's popular postmaster had been arrested for secretly stealing money from the post office. Postmaster Weddington admitted to his guilt, waving a bond hearing and pleading no lo contendere to the felony for which he was sentenced to a humiliating year in a federal prison. After his release, Cornelious A. Weddington seemed to have disappeared from the face of the Earth. His widow Georgia Weddington died in Mt. Vernon, Texas in 1958 and is buried in her father's family plot in Northview Cemetery.
Cornelious Alexander Weddington was a good man. He made a mistake like most people do. No one knows why such as eloquent, educated and brilliant man would ruin his life and legal career by embezzling a relatively paltry sum of eleven hundred dollars. It is not my task to reason why he foolishly took the negative, but it is my endeavor to salute a man who, for most of his life, took the affirmative whenever he could.