Seventh Ward Councilman: 1900, 1901, 1908; Seventh Ward Alderman: 1902, 1903, 1904; Mayor Pro Tem: 1904
A Campbell County, Georgia native, Thomas Dick Longino was the son of John Thomas and Elizabeth (Brewster) Longino. Both the 1850 and 1860 U.S. federal censuses located him in his parent’s household, and an 1864 militia enrollment list found 17-year-old Thomas employed as a farmer in the same county with a disability exemption from the militia.
After the Battle of Atlanta, Thomas joined Wheeler’s Cavalry in Palmetto, Georgia and stayed until surrender when “he was fervent in following Wheeler’s command ‘to go home and make good citizens.'” He enrolled in the Georgia Medical College at Augusta and earned his M.D. in March 1870. He returned to Palmetto and practiced medicine, and he served as that town’s mayor twice.
Thomas married Nellie Candler in February 1873 at the residence of her brother-in-law, Young Garrett, on Atlanta’s Washington Street. Nellie was the daughter of Ezekiel Slaughter and Jane (Williams) Candler and a first cousin to the more prominent Candler branch that included Asa Griggs Candler and Warren Akin Candler. She died less than five years after their wedding day, leaving Thomas with a young son. The Newnan Herald published an “in memoriam” for her in typical Victorian-era style attributed to an author called, “Maurrelle”:
From the time she first became sick—which was about the 24th of December, she seemed to be satisfied of her approaching dissolution; and by pencil marks, calling attention to the chapters in the Bible which she read, she has left a record of her feelings, her hopes and her triumphant christian faith. She marked especially the 23rd—that inimitable picture of pure faith—27th, 37th, 42nd and 43rd Psalms. There is need for no other proofs of her readiness to die; any soul that could feast on these viands of christian truth and faith is ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Her physicians say that her mind was unusually clear up to the very moment of her death; she went into “the valley of the shadow of death” with her mind vigorously alive to the mysterious and important change taking place, and yet she went without fear and without murmuring. How truly—”The dread is drowned in joy, when hope is filled with immortality”!
After Nellie’s death, Thomas removed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and received a second medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1882. He returned to Georgia and married May Harrington of West End (before its annexation into Atlanta) in October 1885. They moved into a house on the corner of Park Street and Hammond Street (probably located in G5 on this map, now just south of the Morehouse School of Medicine). They were charter members of the Park Street Methodist Church, now Clark Atlanta University’s Park Street Music & Art Complex. He was a West End councilman in the early 1880s—serving with Joel Chandler Harris—and was elected mayor of West End in April 1888.
Thomas played a small part in the scandalous murder of Robert McBride of Newnan in 1893. McBride had been boarding in the household of Mr. & Mrs. Pat Meehan for several years when he told Mrs. Meehan that he loved her while her husband was out of town and then implied that she was having an affair with another man. Mrs. Meehan said she would tell her husband, and McBride immediately regretted his actions and went to Atlanta to tell his friend, Thomas Longino, what had happened. Thomas went to Newnan to apologize to Meehan on McBride’s behalf and beg forgiveness, but was unable to locate him. Meanwhile, Meehan happened to find McBride waiting for a train at Atlanta’s Union Station:
Mr. Meehan appeared on the scene without being seen. . . . He was remarkably cool, and no one would have suspected that he was going to kill the man who stood before him talking business to the red mustached man in the gray suit of clothes and straw hat.
He stood for just an instant behind McBride. He lifted his hand, holding in it a revolver, and placed it against McBride’s neck, almost close enough to touch.
There was a sharp, quick report, and a puff of smoke. Almost simultaneous with the first shot the pistol fired a second time, and as McBride reeled and fell forward, Meehan shot for the third time.
He stooped over McBride’s descending form, holding the smoking pistol close to his head, still firm in his intention to kill him. McBride fell forward on his face with a groan.
“Lord, have mercy!” he moaned.
The blood gushed from the round hole in his neck and face in a solid stream. It gathered under his head in a crimson pool. Meehan stood for almost a minute over the prostrate form of the man who had insulted his wife, and then, quite satisfied that he had put an end to his life, walked quietly down Wall street in the direction of the Markham house, slipping his revolver into his coat pocket as he went.
The 1900 U.S. federal census located Thomas in West End with his family at 61 Park Street (now here). He first won election to an Atlanta office as councilman in 1900 when the Constitution called him “one of the best known citizens of Atlanta” and “deeply interested in all questions that involve the welfare of Atlanta.” He represented the Seventh Ward as councilman in 1901 and as alderman in 1902, 1903, and 1904. He also served as mayor pro tem in 1904. He ran for mayor that year, promising “to prevent the dumping of garbage inside the city limits, [to] hasten the work of building the crematory, [to] give every citizen of Atlanta service from the water works department, [and to] advocate a fair wage to all city employees.” He was rightly considered a dark horse candidate and placed fourth in a contest of five.
His career in Atlanta city government included an ordinance “which call[ed] for a separation of the races in street cars.” This, according to Jean Martin, was “the city’s reply to mounting racial tensions and the encroachment on white seating prerogatives by a rising black patronage of Atlanta’s transit system.” Other ordinances he originated included those that founded the city health department and hired police matrons in the city jail for female prisoners. Thomas also authored a resolution in 1908 “for an amendment to the city charter that should permit Atlanta to issue $1,000,000 in bonds for public improvements, specifying schools, streets, a city hall and other objects.” The bond issue was ratified two years later after what the Constitution called “[t]he greatest civic battle in the history of Atlanta.”
After leaving politics, Thomas practiced medicine with his nephew, Dr. Dick Randolph Longino, in the Atlanta National Bank building. Thomas remained at 61 Park Street in 1920 and the 1930 U.S. federal census found him living on nearby Lee Street. By the time of the 1940 census he had removed to Red Oak and lived with his wife and son.
When the 100-year-old doctor died at St. Joseph’s Infirmary in January 1947, the Constitution ran an editorial noting:
Dr. Longino was 18 years old when he joined Wheeler’s Cavalry after the Battle of Atlanta in one of the decisive battles of the War Between the States. To most persons that war seems very far away indeed, and that a man should have died only a day or so ago who fought in it, startles most of us.
Thomas’s wife, May, died in 1951. He is buried in Westview Cemetery next to both of his wives. He and Nellie (Candler) Longino were the parents of one son: Thomas Candler Longino (1874–1911), a surgeon in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. Thomas, Sr. and his second wife, May (Harrington) Longino, were the parents of three sons: Olin Harrington Longino (1887–1955), a career U.S. Army officer from 1907 until 1945 who reached the rank of brigadier general; Hinton Fort Longino (1895–1976), a World War I veteran and division manager for Retail Credit Company who married Frances Stokes, a victim of the Orly Air Crash; and Joseph Wheeler Longino (1900–1973), a World War I and World War II veteran.
Atlanta City Directory: 1913. Atlanta, GA: Atlanta City Directory Co., 1912.
Atlanta Constitution. “West End Notes.” December 6, 1885.
———. “Fun in West End.” April 21, 1888.
———. “Said He Loved Her.” August 15, 1893.
———. “Candidates Indorsed By Committee Or By Court House Massmeeting.” September 24, 1899.
———. “Great Volume of Business Is Considered By City Council.” February 6, 1900.
———. “To the Voters of Atlanta!” September 25, 1901.
———. “Large Crowd Hears Longino.” October 4, 1904.
———. “Birth of Bond Issue That Won Great Victory.” February 16, 1910.
———. “Funeral Services for Dr. Longino Set for Today.” January 30, 1947.
———. “Dr. Thomas Longino.” February 1, 1947.
Augusta (GA) Constitutionalist. “The Georgia Medical College.” March 2, 1870.
Butler (GA) Herald. “Dr. Longino, 100, Dies; Longtime Civic Leader.” February 6, 1947.
Candler, Allen D. Colonel William Candler of Georgia: His Ancestry and Progeny. Atlanta, GA: Franklin Printing and Pub. Co., 1902.
Cooper, Cornelia E. “History of West End: 1830–1910.” Atlanta Historical Bulletin 8, no. 31 (1947): 65–94.
Cornell, Nancy Jones. 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2000.
Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s–1930s. Vol. 2 of Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events. Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1969.
Martin, Jean. “Jim Crow Rides the Rails.” Atlanta Historical Bulletin 20, no. 4 (1976): 14–26.