Thomasville Times Enterprise

Opinion

March 1, 2010

Senate candidate finds more than votes in Thomasville

R.J. Hadley got more than he bargained for when he visited Thomasville recently.

The U.S. Senate candidate discovered by accident that the roots of his family reach all the way to the deepest part of Georgia.

“I was looking for a van, and I found one on the Internet. It was over there at Spence (Cadillac Buick GMC),” Hadley said during a Thursday visit at the Times-Enterprise.

Hadley, a 41-year-old Democrat who was raised in southern New Jersey, left his home in Rockdale County and drove to Thomasville to buy “the van I’ve always wanted.”

While preparing to donate his old vehicle to a local charity, Hadley’s unknown tie to Thomasville was revealed.

“When I called the Salvation Army and told her my name, the lady on the phone said, ‘Hadley? Are you related to the Hadleys down here?’” he explained. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

Hadley had a vague recollection of his father talking about his great-grandfather, Richard James Hadley Sr. Details were foggy, however.

“The Salvation Army lady said, ‘Hadley is a big name down here. You ought to check it out,” Hadley continued.

Hadley, who had returned to his Conyers home in his new van, came back to Thomasville to visit the Jack Hadley Black History Museum.

“I got to looking into it and found a whole, rich heritage here,” Hadley said. “It’s interesting how things came together in that way.”

Hadley even visited Pebble Hill Plantation where his great-grandfather emerged from slavery to acquire some wealth and land of his on as a free man.

Hadley, the former chief of staff of Rockdale County, is seeking advice from Thomas County Democrats as he tries to unseat Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson.

“I want to thank Roger Walker, in particular,” Hadley said Thursday.

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