Cherokee County Historical Society, organized along with many others during the months and years leading up to the nation’s bicentennial, is larger and stronger than ever. Initially and for many years, it was an all-volunteer organization.
Since 2005, Stefanie Joyner has been a full-time on-site director, and her professional expertise has proven to be a most valuable asset. Additionally, here in the south end of the county, Preservation Woodstock Inc. maintains a few items and records that pertain to our city’s history.
Over the past 10 years or so, we have accumulated some written memoirs. As I recall, I first came to appreciate the value of these when Mary Smith Howell gave me a copy of the story she had written about her own family. One of her grandsons had typed the text using the technology of the day. He used a green font, (the booklet was titled “Greener Grows Mary”) and made a few copies on a Xerox machine for family and friends.
Mrs. Howell’s purpose was to preserve the story of her early years in north Georgia’s mountain country and how her family finally came to settle in Cherokee County.
Soon after I read Mrs. Howell’s story, Glenn Hubbard compiled his memories of growing up in the area of today’s Victoria/Little River/Bridge Mill communities. As time went by and more old-timers began to record their stories, we realized that there was no better way to keep our heritage and history alive than through the written word, “straight from the horse’s mouth.”
Our collection is growing as folks retire and find time to work on family trees and as more and more young people become interested. New generations are taking advantage of the convenience of the digital age as photographs and texts are easily stored and transferred. They are finding “new” relatives and sharing those special tales that were slowly disappearing, but now can be revived and retold and passed down to yet other generations to come.
Family reunions often trigger activities to encourage folks to write or record those events that are unique to a family. One example is the memories the Haney family compiled. All of Woodstock watched as the story of Edna Haney, the town’s first woman automobile driver, was brought to Elm Street’s stage, straight from the Haney Family memoirs in Preservation Woodstock’s collection.
Recently the organization received a copy of “Oh, Come, Angel Band; The Living Genealogy of the Charlton Bates Family,” authored by cousins Jenny Bates Meadows-Sauls and Yvonne Mauldin Perry. Not only does it chart the families and their connections, but it is filled with those stories that bring to life people who were here in this very place, and homes and roads and happenings that many of us can recognize.
I especially enjoyed the photos, many of which could be from my own past … grandmothers in aprons, barefoot children, barns, front porches, back porches, and cars that would be worth a fortune in antique car shows of today, universal scenes. The ladies pictured in hats and dresses and carrying purses on Easter Sunday in a local country church yard bring back just such a scene in my own memories.
More impressive than the photos is a poem, an ode, to Yvonne’s grandfather. Its title, “Home is Where Pap Is,” may have been a reference to the fact that her grandparents didn’t always stay put. The author grew up in Doraville and Atlanta’s southside but visited her maternal grandparents, Martha and Fred Jackson, often.
A few quotes from the poem give the reader a glimpse not only of the author and her relationship with her Pap, but also of her writing ability. “Loblolly pines standing like matchsticks in Georgia red clay pull their canopies up past their bellybuttons to prevent children from climbing their long, lean, limber legs.” “One year, Economy Auto ran a sale on green paint. Pap painted everything: the house trim, the front porch, the rocking chairs, the metal glider, the outhouse, all four dog houses…” “Pap … in his 1971 green Datsun pickup, the same one in which he took his 12 intermarried Beagles hunting.”
How fortunate this family is to have kinfolk who realize the value of this treasure of words.
And what an inspiration to those of us who think such a task is impossible. To get you started, email Jenny (email@example.com) or Yvonne (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.