Brady, the 17th recipient of the award, was hard at work Thursday, setting up the Preservation Woodstock organization’s latest exhibit, “Women of Woodstock Past,” at the Woodstock Public Library.
“I’m just having a ball; Although it can be hard work, it is a lot of fun for someone to support you to pursue your vision of informing the public about the past,” Brady said Thursday. “I was just really thrilled and shocked (to be chosen).”
As Citizen of the Year, Brady will ride alongside the mayor of Woodstock in the first car of the annual Christmas parade through downtown Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
“I am honored to ride with the mayor of Woodstock in the Christmas parade,” Brady said. “Preservation Woodstock is actually (the organization) that started our Christmas Parade, I think it’s been going on about 20 years now. ... It will be a thrill.”
Elaine Hubbard, chairwoman of Preservation Woodstock, said Brady was selected because of her contributions to preserve the heritage and history of Woodstock.
“She has done many projects to make people more aware of the history of Woodstock,” Hubbard said. “Most recently, she has prepared an exhibit highlighting the contributions of women in the history of Woodstock.”
Brady moved to Woodstock with her husband, Brad, in 1980, where they raised their two sons, Beau and Aaron.
Brady said she became involved with the Preservation Woodstock commission about five years ago, while researching the city’s history in the midst of writing her two novels that are set in contemporary Woodstock, and she joined the organization about three years ago.
“Even though they’re contemporary novels, I like to include a little
bit of Woodstock history in the story line,” Brady said. “So I got to know (Juanita Hughes). … She is so enthusiastic about this town and about the history that it was contagious and I caught the bug.”
Hughes, who is the official Woodstock historian, explained that Barbara G. Ingram served as the commission’s secretary until her death in 1996, and was “very instrumental” in the forming of the commission.
“The Award is presented after the (Christmas) parade in the Park at City Center gazebo, and the presentation is made by members of Barbara Ingram’s family,” Hughes explained. “The award was established by the Woodstock Centennial Commission to recognize someone who has been very active in historic preservation in Woodstock as the city celebrated its Centennial in 1997. Since that time, the commission has been renamed Preservation Woodstock Inc., having continued projects established during the celebration.”
Hughes was the Citizen of the Year in 1997. She explained the history of Woodstock’s parade and Christmas celebration.
“The December parade and related activities in Woodstock originated on the first Saturday in December in 1997 to celebrate the signing of the City Charter on Dec. 8, 1897, by the Georgia Legislature. That has grown to be the city’s main Christmas celebration,” Hughes said.
Brady said through helping with a couple Preservation Woodstock projects, she became intrigued with the people of Woodstock “who came before.”
Brady said the idea for the Women of Woodstock exhibit arose last fall, as she remembered the stories of many great men who helped to build the town.
“I thought it would be so nice to feature the women of Woodstock, find out about them during Woodstock’s heyday as a cotton town,” Brady said. “In about 1900, there were only approximately 300 people living in the city of Woodstock, and Woodstock did not become a city until 1897. But, it was a thriving agricultural community.”
Woodstock became a hub in the country’s cotton trade at the turn of the century, and the city was host to many extraordinary women, Brady said.
“I was curious about the women. I had heard some of their names and I worked closely with Juanita to find out their stories. She is an archivist, and she kept files and files about the buildings here, the events, the people here,” Brady said. “She and Elaine Hubbard helped me pick out eight women to feature. All of the women that lived here at the turn of the century were amazing women who had to face such incredible challenges.”
One of the women featured in the Women of Woodstock Past exhibit, Aralinta Dial Dobbs, was born in 1879, the year the railroad was built through Woodstock, Brady said. Dobbs lived to be 94 years old.
“So many children died young, so the fact that Aralinta made it past her fifth birthday ensured that she had a pretty good chance at having a long life,” Brady said.
Brady said most of the women experienced the death of close loved ones and many lost their own children, yet they still prevailed.
“I’m so into this exhibit,” Brady exclaimed. “It opens this Sunday: there’s an opening reception at 3 p.m., here at the Woodstock Public Library. It’s open until the 27th of November. … I’m real appreciative of the library for letting us do this here.”
The exhibit is free, and will open during the library’s regular operating hours.
The Woodstock Public Library’s regular hours are: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesdays from noon to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m. The library is not open on Saturdays.
Brady said everyone gains skills from their lifetime work, and being a teacher for many years has made research, information and presentation some of Brady’s strong abilities — a great addition to the Preservation Woodstock organization.
“I was always teaching and informing, and guiding children to discover information. So this is really a great niche for me,” Brady said.
One of the first projects Brady worked on was a project on historic churches in Woodstock, featuring five historic churches in the downtown area. Hubbard said Brady put together an exhibit and tour detailing the history of the churches.
Another project Brady said she “really got into” was the Rope Mill signage project. Brady said Rope Mill is a historic area, and the project “clicked” for her.
The organization worked with Woodstock Parks and Recreation Department to place historic signage around the area, documenting the history for residents and visitors.
“In that project, she created signage to identify the remains of the mill as well as describe its contributions to the community,” Hubbard said. “It was a major addition to the popular Rope Mill Park in Woodstock.”
Brady said she loves her work with Preservation Woodstock, and that she “has a ball” working to preserve the city’s unique past.
“(The Preservation Woodstock organization’s) trust in me, I really, really appreciate and value it, because they’ve let me pursue my vision with whatever project I wanted to do,” Brady said. “Everything I’ve done for Preservation Woodstock has been fun, they let me just have a ball and go to it.”
Brady said when people know their city’s past, they have more respect and gratitude for the town. She said that “creating connections” with the people of today to the struggles of people from the past is important.
“Everybody has struggles, we are all going through something,” Brady said. “That’s really important to me.”
Along with writing two fiction novels, “The Heart of a Child,” and “The Power of Her Smile,” Brady also keeps a blog about Woodstock and its history, called “Living and Writing in Woodstock, Ga.”
“I’d love to have more readers. I always write about Woodstock, and a little about our history and my thoughts on it,” Brady said.
Her blog can be found online, at pattibradynovels.blogspot.com