Actual Factual Georgia

Q: Alston Drive runs in front of East Lake Golf Club. I recall Mr. Alston was a reformer who stopped the prisoner labor scandal, and was murdered as a result. Can you provide some details, his age, date of death, political office, etc.?

-- Don White, Atlanta

A: It appears that even death hasn't slowed Col. Robert A. Alston, if you believe the current owners of the house he built in 1856. Alston was born in Macon in 1832, became a lawyer, moved his family to Atlanta and served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. After the war, he resumed his practice, also farmed, and was elected to the Georgia Assembly in 1878. Alston was determined to reform Georgia's prison system and fought against the convict-lease system, in which the state would provide convict labor to private parties for a price. Ed Cox, who leased prisoners, was angered by Alston's stance and confronted him in a barbershop on March 11, 1879, according to GeorgiaInfo, an online Georgia almanac presented by GALILEO and the Digital Library of Georgia. Cox told Alston to arm himself, which he did. Cox and Alston met later that day in the state treasurer's office at the Capitol, where both drew pistols, according to witness accounts in The New York Times. Both fired simultaneously, and Alston expended his rounds, wounding Cox. Cox waited and fired a second time, hitting Alston in the head and killing him. Alston is buried in Decatur Cemetery, but Charlie Harrison, who owns Alston's antebellum home on Alston Road, swears the Colonel's ghost roams the house, which is thought to be the sixth oldest in Atlanta. Harrison and his wife Sylvia even have a portrait of Alston hanging in their living room. "We had a Catholic abbot bless our house and asked him to get rid of all the spirits except for the Colonel's," Charlie Harrison said. "So we excluded him from the prayer. We feel comfortable the only ghost remaining is Colonel Alston."

Q: What are some of the movies and TV shows that recently have been filmed in Georgia?

A: You might have seen actors dancing in the streets while filming the remake of "Footloose," which will hit theaters on Oct. 14. It's one of 700 movies and shows that have been filmed in the state, according to the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office. Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd were spotted in several Atlanta restaurants while filming "Wanderlust," which is scheduled to be released on Feb. 24, 2012, joining other recent flicks like "The Blind Side," "The Change Up," "Hall Pass," "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" and "Zombieland" as Georgia productions. As for the small screen, ghoulies from CW's "Vampire Diaries" and AMC's "The Walking Dead" both haunt Georgia these days.

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