Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heritage Holiday Hours

On this day, we'd like you to know that the Athens-Clarke Library (and therefore the Heritage Room) will be closed on Friday, December 31st, 2010, and Saturday, January 1st, 2011, for the New Year holiday.

Both the library and the Heritage Room will reopen on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011, at 2:00 pm.

We hope to see you then, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heritage Room Newsletters Help Start the Year Right!

On this day, we'd like to remind you to sign up for the Heritage Room newsletters that are delivered directly to your email Inbox.

Our Genealogy and History Events newsletter covers everything from the Genealogy Lock-in at Oconee County Library to the Georgia Historical Society unveiling of the new Secession Convention historic marker in Milledgeville to author and historian Edmund Morris speaking about Theodore Roosevelt at the Atlanta History Center, with basic genealogy classes, booksales, meeting and tours inbetween. You don't want to miss it, or you'll miss out on the great programs and events for the curious, the researcher, and the entire family!

Our Genealogy News and Tips newsletter makes sure you are kept up-to-date with the world of genealogy and history, covering topics ranging from how to introduce kids to genealogy and new collections added to the Ancestry Library Edition database to television shows about genealogy and redesigned sites such as and There's something for everyone in the News and Tips newsletter!

Click here (or either newsletter link above) to read the current newsletter and subscribe. It couldn't be easier, so sign up today!

Friday, December 24, 2010

24 December 1907: Vaudeville on Christmas Day

On this day in 1907, the Athens Banner reported that two vaudeville shows would appear at the Colonial Theatre on Christmas day:

The Colonial Theatre was on Washington Street near the intersection with Jackson Street downtown. The building was demolished in 1932.

Learn More:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

22 December 1915: No Advance Admission!

On this day in 1915, the Elite Theatre showed this sensational film:

The Caveman was a silent picture, produced by Vitagraph, a company that started making and distributing movies in 1898. It's star, Robert Edeson, was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, 29 years after his death. In 1926, The Caveman was remade as a comedy starring Irish actor Matthew Moore.

The Elite Theatre was later renamed the Georgia Theatre.

Learn More:

Monday, December 20, 2010

20 December 1978: Downtown Varsity Closes Its Doors

On this day in 1978, the Varsity's downtown location served its last meals. Though the Varsity Drive-In on the corner of Broad Street and Milledge Avenue would remain open, the downtown location was packed in its last days as people returned to relive memories at what had been an Athens institution for over 46 years.

The Varsity opened in 1932 on the corner of College Avenue and Broad Street, across from the Arch (where Five Guys Burgers and Fries are today). The 1850s building had originally been built by Elizur L. Newton as the Newton House hotel, considered the most "pretentious and commodious" in town. In 1854, the University of Georgia hosted their commencement ball in the Newton Hotel Saloon. The building had a bellfry and "a bell almost the size of a locomotive bell" that would alert local residents at noon each day that dinner was being served.

At the time of the Varsity's opening, the buildings on North Campus included dormitories, and the Varsity would stay open to the wee hours of the morning to cater to their student customers. Though "ladies didn't come in" to the establishment when it first opened, they were served by car hops or would have their dates bring the food back to the car.

However, over the years, the buildings on North Campus were converted to Administration buildings while dormitories were built on South Campus and near Baxter Street. Parking became "a rare downtown commodity," according to Varsity owner Frank Gordy, and without nearby students, it was too expensive to stay open late. He repeatedly told reporters that "it breaks his heart to close the restaurant," but he didn't have a choice.

Gordy announced the closing on December 1st, the day before Georgia Tech came to town to lose 29-28 to the Bulldogs on national television. He thought closing before the Tech game "would be a little bit rude." The downtown location stayed open until December 20th, when lines of people caused waits of up to half an hour for lunches of chili dogs, hamburgers, chicken salad sandwiches, onion rings, grilled cheese sandwiches, milkshakes, pc drinks, and frosted oranges.

Learn More:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

18 December 1918: "Too old for a toy and too young for a gun"

On this day in 1918, and throughout the week, Athens Cycle Company ran this clever rhyming advertisement in the Athens Banner encouraging parents to buy their children bicycles for Christmas:

Athens Cycle Company was located at 279 Lumpkin Street in downtown Athens, in the building where The Arch Bar is today. Besides bicycles, Athens Cycle Company also sold motorcycles and sewing machine motors.

Learn More:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

15 December 1897: For Sale. My Home, "Cloverhurst"

On this day, as he had all week, new Athens Daily Banner editor Henry H. Carlton ran the following advertisement for his Queen Anne Victorian on Milledge Avenue (click to enlarge image):

Also for sale were the Bobbin Mill, and "the best Fence-Making Machine in all the land."

Henry H. Carlton had bought the 200-acre Cloverhurst property in 1885 from New Jersey native John A. Meeker for $11,000 (approximately $253,000 in today's dollars). The farm was called Cloverhurst because Meeker had planted the depleted lands with clover to stop further erosion and revitalize the nitrogen levels in the soil. Carlton built the house for his family and named it Cloverhurst after the property.

Carlton led an active life, and was described by Augustus Longstreet Hull as "warm-hearted and short-tempered," and "liked to be in the thickest of every fight, whether political or otherwise." He began his adult life as a doctor, serving in the Civil War, then later passing the bar and starting a successful law practice. In 1880, he took over the weekly North-East Georgian newspaper because he had become interested in politics, and eventually served as a state senator and state representative, and as a U. S. Congressional representative for the 8th District of Georgia. In 1897, Carlton returned to newspaper publishing, turning the Banner into Athens's first daily newspaper, and in 1898, volunteered for service in the Spanish-American War.

Carlton sold the Cloverhurst property in 1901 to Judge Hamilton McWhorter who was moving his family from Lexington, Georgia, to Athens. He lived in the house until his death in 1929, when the house was razed and the land divided into lots for a subdivision. The wide driveway featured in the illustration above became the Cloverhurst Avenue that intersects with Milledge Avenue today.

Learn More:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 December 1899: $2.50 Buys Seven Nights of Enlightened Entertainment at Lucy Cobb

On this day in 1899, the first of seven lectures/performances were delivered at the Lucy Cobb Institute. The series had been advertised for weeks in the Athens Daily Banner:

The initial lecture was offered by Alfred Taylor of Tennessee, a former Congressman who had run against (and lost to) his own brother for the Governorship of Tennessee in 1886. He had left politics to go on the lecture circuit, often with his brother, who had also retired from public service. In 1920, Alfred Taylor would finally become the Governor of Tennessee.

Most of the other men on the lecture schedule were nationally known for their oration and performances. The Athens newspapers for the month of March, 1900, are missing, so the subject of University of Georgia Department of Chemistry head Dr. H. C. White's talk is unknown.

Learn More:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

9 December 1916: "A Brilliant Finale" to America's Electrical Week

On this day in 1916, Athens Railway & Electric Company, located at the corner of College and Hancock Avenues, advertised the last day of demonstrations and programs for America's Electrical Week:

America's Electrical Week was an outreach campaign by the Society for Electrical Development, a trade industry organization formed in 1912 to "establish co-operative relations among the different electrical interests in the United States." The celebration week was intended to show "what electricity has accomplished abroad and in the United States since the European war began," with a goal to "electrify the entire country with special illuminations, parades, and pagentry." 

As part of the 1916 promotion, a poster contest was held during the summer. Of the 800 designs submitted, 125 were chosen as finalists for a traveling exhibition to allow the public to vote for the poster to use in the campaign. The winning logo was part of many window displays around the nation, and is in the upper corners of this ad, showing a genie summoned not from an oil lamp but with an electric light button. The Banner explained the theme as "Aladdin's lamp accomplished wonderful things, but the electric button does everything the lamp did and much more. Instead of the genie serving one person, the up-to-date genie, electricity, serves everybody everywhere."

The official celebration started in New York on December 2nd, with President Woodrow Wilson pushing the button to "bathe" the Statue of Liberty in electricity-powered light, stating, "I light this statue as a symbol of our purpose to throw upon our life as a nation the light which shall reveal its dignity, serene power, benignant hope, and its spirit of guidance."

All week in Athens, the Banner ran front page stories about the crowds that gathered to see the demonstrations of various electrical products for the home at the Athens Railway & Electric Company, noting that "most of the ladies were especially interested in the vacuum cleaner." The store also offered special sale items, and served "delicious luncheons from the elegant electric kitchen."

Other local retailers of electric appliances also had sales during the week:  Talmadge Hardware Company offered two electric stoves for sale at $18.50 each, and these ads were run by Athens Engineering Company throughout the week:

At the end of America's Electrical Week, the Banner declared the enterprise "a great success" because "interest has been aroused in the intelligent selection of the various forms of appliances which will lessen drudgery, advance cleanliness in the home, make the dark places lighter and the light places even brighter."

Learn More:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last Chance This Year to Discover Genealogy on the Internet!

On this day, we'd like to let you know there are still spaces available for our Genealogy on the Internet class, Thursday, December 16th, from 10am to 1pm, in the library's Educational Technology Center upstairs.

The class is an introduction to the many and growing resources for researching your family history online, and includes handouts that provide descriptions of the various sites available and their offerings. Time to explore on your own and ask questions is provided in the last part of the session. These resources are not limited to Georgia, or even to the United States. This class is not intended for beginners in computers or genealogy.

The class is free, but space is limited, so registration is required. Call us at (706) 613-3650, ext. 350, or email us at to reserve your space. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

4 December 1867: Charles Holmes Herty Is Born

On this day in 1867 in Milledgeville, Georgia, Charles Holmes Herty was born to Bernard and Louise Herty. He was raised in Athens by an aunt. As a chemist, he would revolutionize the turpentine and paper industry in Georgia, and in Athens, he would establish college football at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Herty graduated with a philosophy degree from UGA in 1886, then earned a doctorate in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1890. In 1891, he took a faculty position teaching chemistry with UGA, but also focused on the role of athletics at the college level. He was the University's first Faculty Director of Athletics, and started the first football squad in 1892. He coached the team that year, then went on to help create the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, a forerunner to the modern Southeastern Conference.

In 1902, Dr. Herty left UGA after a dispute with department head, Dr. H. C. White, and took a position with the Bureau of Forestry at the United States Department of Agriculture.While there, he created and patented the "cut and gutter system" for collecting turpentine. His system revolutionized the industry by extending the life of the tapped trees, collecting more and higher quality gum for turpentine creation, and preserving the tree so it could be used for lumber once it was tapped out.

In 1916, Dr. Herty took another research and teaching position at the University of North Carolina, and later became an industrial consultant in the late 1920s. In 1932, he established a pulp and paper laboratory in Savannah, where he proved that pine was a viable source for pulp that could be made into newsprint. Using pine for paper helped revitalize the Southern agriculture industry, still suffering from the devestating effects of the boll weevil and the Great Depression.

Dr. Herty received many honorary degrees over the course of his career, served as president of multiple scientific associations, and directed research divisions of the Georgia Department of Forestry. In 1933, the Georgia section of the American Chemical Society created the Charles H. Herty Medal, awarded to a researcher in the Southeast "to give public recognition to the work and service of outstanding chemists." In 2000, Dr. Herty was inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame, and in 2001, the American Chemistry Society designated his Savannah laboratory a National Historic Chemical Landmark. He even has a Facebook fan page in Chinese.

Charles Herty died in Savannah in 1938, at the age of 70. He is buried in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.

Learn More: 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1 December 1910: The M. G. Michael Family of Athens Attends the Selig-Frank Wedding in Atlanta

On this day in 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Moses G. Michael and their daughter, Helen, attended the wedding of Miss Lucille Selig of Atlanta and Mr. Leo Max Frank of Brooklyn, New York.

The wedding was held at the East Georgia Avenue home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig. Rabbi David Marx of Hebrew Benevolent Congregation performed the ceremony before a small gathering of family and close friends. The Athens Banner described the evening as "a pretty event," noting that "the house was artistic with quantities of smilax and vases of pink carnations in all the rooms."

The paper reported that "Miss Michael sang several beautiful selections before the ceremony and was accompanied by Miss Regina Silverman, who also played the wedding march." The two young women also wore pink, with Helen Michael in "a white lingerie gown over pink silk" and Regina Silverman in "a pink chiffon cloth gown over silk, trimmed with lace and black marabou."

Other out-of-town attendants at the wedding included the groom's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Frank of Brooklyn, New York, and the best man, Mr. Milton Rice of Rochester, New York. The paper stated the couple would "spend several weeks at the Piedmont before going north for a wedding trip." They would live with the Seligs upon their return.

Leo and Lucille Frank would be married less than three years when the Atlanta media circus surrounding the murder of Mary Phagan at the National Pencil Factory on Confederate Memorial Day, 1913, would destroy their lives. Though the Atlanta newspapers published any rumor or innuendo that would sell extra editions, the Athens newspapers admonished the Atlanta media for such low behavior and published only the barest of stories about the case as it endured.

Leo Frank was murdered on 17 August 1915 by a mob that was angry his death sentence had been commuted to life in prison by Georgia Governor John Slaton. His body was returned to New York, where he was buried at New Mount Carmel Cemetery. Lucille Frank never remarried, and always signed her name as "Mrs. Leo M. Frank," until her death at age 69. Even then, in 1957, her family was unsure of burying her in Atlanta, and it wasn't for another 45 years, in 2002, that nephews buried her ashes between her parents' graves in Oakland Cemetery, but without a marker.

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles pardoned Leo Frank in 1986, based on the 1982 testimony of then-83-year-old Alonzo Mann, who had been a 14-year-old office boy in the National Pencil Factory in 1913. Mann had seen janitor Jim Conley carrying Phagan's body on the day of the murder. Conley threatened to kill him if he told, and Mann's mother told him to keep quiet. Over the years, Mann repeatedly tried to tell the story, but it wasn't until 1982 that a reporter from the Tennesseean took him seriously enough to publish his eye witness account, and give him a lie detector test, which he easily passed. Members of the Phagan family still believe Leo Frank was the murderer.

Learn More:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Newsletters Make Managing a Busy Holiday Season Easy!

On this day, we'd like to remind you to subscribe to our two Heritage Room email newsletters. They will be delivered to your email Inbox, and are a great way to keep up with all that is going on in genealogy and history during the hectic holidays, and throughout the year.

Our Genealogy and History Events newsletter covers everything from author lectures and genealogy classes to the many historic home and candlelight tours the occur every December. This is a great time of year to learn about the past while looking forward to the future, and this newsletter makes sure you won't miss any of the great opportunities available.

Our Genealogy Tips and News newsletter makes sure that you will not miss out on new resources and discoveries, even as your schedule keeps you on the run. With news about new database collections, research angles, and books, you could even find the perfect gift for the researcher on your list!

Click here (or either newsletter link above) to read the current newsletter and subscribe. It couldn't be easier, so sign up today!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

27 November 1900: Mysterious Spanish Text Arrives at University of Georgia Law School

On this day in 1900, the Athens Daily Banner published the following story on page 5, column 2 of their newspaper:

Professors in the University Wrestle Over it.

A few days since there came through the mail a book of about two hundred and fifty pages with the following address upon it:

"United States of America, if no law school in Florida, then to a law school in Georgia."

The book came very naturally to the University of Georgia and forthwith fell into the hands of Prof. Sylvanus Morris, Dean of the Law faculty.

On opening the book it was found to be an address delivered before the University of St. Thomas, in Manila. It was in Spanish, and for once the genial law professor was stumped. Two hundred and fifty pages of Spanish was a task too great for him.

So he at once sent the book to Prof. Joseph Lustrat, of the department of French, Italian and Spanish, telling him that he was burning with anxiety to know the contents of the book and requesting him to translate it at once and return the translation to him at his earliest convenience.

Prof. Lustrat replied the next day that he had started upon his work and that within the next three years he would finish the work. He informed Prof. Morris that it was a most delightful book and that after perusing a few pages he had slept peacefully and profoundly.

The book is open to perusal by the law students.

Professor Lustrat was the best choice to work through the translation, for while he was, of course, fluent in Spanish, he also had a law degree from the Sorbonne, and would be familiar with any legal descriptions in the text. The three-year estimate for the translation was due to the small size of the University at the time. Only 279 male-only students were enrolled at UGA in 1900, and even department heads spent a good deal of their time teaching.

Whether he ever completed the translation for Professor Morris is unclear; in 1901 Prof. Lustrat took a short leave of absence, and it is possible the contents of the text would not have been newsworthy enough for a follow-up story in the local paper. (The Red and Black at the time was almost exclusively coverage of the football team and literary societies.) Professor Lustrat became head of the Romance Languages department in 1898, and served in that capacity until his death in 1927; Professor Morris served as Dean of Law until his death in 1929. By then, University enrollment had exploded to 1,834 students, and been co-educational for a decade.

Learn More:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

24 November 1871: If Athens Gets a Courthouse, Watkinsville Gets a New County

On this day in 1871, a law was passed by the Georgia legislature that moved all county offices, county transactions, and court hearings to Athens from Watkinsville as of January 1st, 1872. Other provisions in the law were to use the ironwork from the Watkinsville jail to reinforce the Athens jail, and that alterations to the Athens Town Hall should be made immediately and paid for by selling to the highest bidder the public buildings located in Watkinsville.

After many years of grumbling and complaints, the Clarke county grand jury, consisting of mostly Athens residents, recommended in February, 1871, that the state legislature be petitioned to create a new county with Athens as its seat "for the reason that a large proportion of the litigation of our Courts, both civil and criminal, originates in and immediately around Athens, and a large majority of both parties and witnesses have no means of conveyances to and from the Courts at Watkinsville, and for the additional reason that there is no accommodations whatever in Watkinsville for the colored people, who are required to attend court."

At the time, Athens had a population of nearly 6,000 residents, while Watkinsville had only about 350. While Watkinsville had only a few stores, a single church, no newspapers, and a handful of professionals, Athens had 11 churches, 37 stores, 2 newspapers, and many professionals with both their own practices and who taught at the University. The editor of the Southern Banner advocated just moving the courthouse, not breaking up the county, calling the situation an "outrage" and that "it is unjust to a vast majority of those having businesses in our courts that they be forced to go to a remote and isolated county site simply because a few, a very few people at the county site will be injured if the courthouse is removed."

A resistance movement began to grow in Watkinsville, where residents "threatened reprisals" such as a ban on trade in Athens and no political support for any candidate from Athens. When the Georgia legislature convened that year, both cities sent three-man committees to lobby their side of the issue. Upon reaching Atlanta, the Athens committee, consisting of Emory Speer, E. P. Lumpkin, and A. L. Mitchell, decided the best course of action would be to work out a compromise with the Watkinsville committee, consisting of Milledge S. Durham, J. R. Lyle, and W. B. Haygood.

The compromise, signed by all six men, was the Watkinsville men would support the move of the Clarke courthouse to Athens if Mr. Lumpkin, Mr. Speer, and Mr. Mitchell would support and lobby for the creation of a new county with Watkinsville as its seat, and would not sell any public buildings in Watkinsville, since they would be required for the new county.The bill to move the courthouse passed, and though it did include a provision for selling the public buildings, that part of the law was never enacted due to the agreement between the six men.

Creating a new county, however, was not an easy task. The arguments for moving the courthouse from Watkinsville (small population with little capital) were considered arguments against creating a county for the city. The first three tries to pass the bill failed, and Watkinsville residents felt betrayed by Athens, even though the compromise had only promised to advocate for the new county, and did not guarantee the new county.

The Athens delegation did what they could to support the Watkinsville committee's bill for a new county, including the agreed-upon Athens petition of support signed by many residents, and supporting a Watkinsville man to fill the state House seat that opened when local representative Alfred Richardson died of pneumonia in 1872, but feelings ran high on both sides. Not everyone felt Speer,  Mitchell, and Lumpkin had the right to speak for Athens as a whole, that the county should not be divided, and those with political ambition did not want to take sides in such a volitile issue.

It would take another three years, until February 25th, 1875, before the creation of Oconee county became law, with the resulting new county taking more than half the land from Clarke.

Learn More:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

21 November 1843: Two Marriages in One Family

On this day in 1843, prominent local builder James R. Carlton attended the weddings of two of his children. In the morning, his oldest son, Dr. Joseph Barnett, married Thene Emma Moore in Jackson County. Reverend Alfred T. Mann, the minister of the First Methodist Church of Athens, performed the ceremony in Jackson County, then returned to Athens to perform a second Carlton wedding.

The second wedding of the day was for Mary Anne Carlton, who was marrying Dr. William H. Felton, who was about to graduate from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta after attending the University of Georgia in Athens. The couple later moved to Cass (now Bartow) County, where Dr. Felton gave up being a doctor to become a Methodist minister and farmer.

The two couples faced very different futures. Joseph and Theney (as she is listed on her Jackson County marriage certificate) remained in Athens and had five children, with two of their sons also pursuing careers in medicine. Jospeh would serve as surgeon  for Toombs Regiment during the Civil War, and represented Athens in the Georgia House from 1853-1856 and Georgia Senate from 1857-1858.

William and Mary Anne had only eight years together before she died, leaving a toddler daughter, Annie, who was born in 1849. William would marry future suffragist Rebecca Latimer in 1852, and both would have striking poltitical careers in Georgia and on a national level.

Learn More:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Learn All About the Military Records in Morrow and How to Use Them

On this day, we'd like to invite you to a program at the library's auditorium on Saturday, November 20th, 2010, at 2pm. From the National Archives and Records Administration's Southeast regional office in Morrow, Georgia, Nathan Jordan will discuss the military records available at the facility and how to use them when researching your family tree.

Mr. Jordan is a graduate of West Point, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Public History at Georgia State University. He recently wrote about his own family research on NARA's blog, NARAtions.

This program is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the Athens-Clarke County Heritage Room and the Clarke-Oconee Genealogical Society. A meet-and-greet with light refreshments in the Small Conference Room will follow the program.

For more information, call the Heritage Room at (706) 613-3650, ext. 350. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

17 November 1900: Turkeys in Finery Make the Point

On this day (and for most of November) in 1900, Athens Steam Laundry ran this eye-catching advertisement in the Athens Daily Banner:

 Men's cuffs and collars were separate from their shirts, so they could be laundered more often. They were often starched to remain rigid even when being worn on hot days or in warm rooms. Taking them to a professional laundry was not too different than a trip to the dry cleaner today.

Learn More:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Chance This Year to Get Started

On this day, we'd like to remind you about our Getting Started with Genealogy class on Thursday, November 18th, 2010, from 2-4:30pm in the Heritage Room.

In this free, informal session, we'll walk you through the basics of researching your family history. The class is designed to help you begin the construction of your family tree, and to teach you about the resources available in Athens that will be useful to you. The class includes handouts, and is useful even if you aren't looking for relatives in Georgia.

Free and open to the public, but registration is required. Call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350 or email us at to register.

Please bring a pencil for taking notes, and a sweater, as the Heritage Room can be a little chilly sometimes. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

14 November 1894: "Ladies Fancy Goods Generally"

On this day in 1894, the following advertisement ran on page 3, column 7, of the Athens Daily Banner:

The ad was apparently for the business of Mrs. Addie Sisson Adams, the widow of Thomas A. Adams, who died during the Civil War leaving her with a young son to raise. Mrs. Adams was originally in business with her widowed sister, Eva Williamson, as indicated by this advertisement they purchased in the 1889 Athens City Directory:

Millinery, the creation and decoration of hats, was one of the few professions deemed appropriate for the single, middle class woman in the 19th century. Women who opened millinery boutiques were often widowed or orphaned, and in need of a form of independent support at a time when the primary economic support system for women was a reliable husband. It was also an area of entrepreneurship; in 1913, the trade magazine The Milliner proclaimed, "It offers women an independence."

Milliner establishments were sometimes referred to (by men) as "fripperies," since they were often the only retail location where a woman could purchase such notions as beads, pearl buttons, ribbons, feathers, flowers, fine laces, and quality silks for fancier gowns. Some milliners expanded their offerings to dressmaking, but Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Williamson were able to stay in business simply by providing hats in an era when elaborately decorated headwear was in vogue. Feathers from birds such as ospreys, egrets, and the now-extinct Carolina Parakeet were in such high demand that the National Audubon Society was formed specifically to lobby for legislation to protect them.

Millinery as a viable profession began to decline with the rise of the department store and the decline in customized hats as fashion in the 20th century. Mrs. Williamson died "after a lingering illness" in early 1900 at the home she shared with her sister on Oconee Street. Mrs. Adams had buried her son a few years earlier, and the 1900 U.S. census shows her occupation, at 74, as "milliner." Mrs. Adams lived until 1912, and is buried with her family in Oconee Hill Cemetery.

Learn More:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Adoption: A Search for My Birth Parents on November 13th

On this day, we'd like you know about an informative program about adoption and vital records this Saturday, November 13th at 2pm in the Athens-Clarke County Library auditorium.

Harry Binkow--an historian, investigator, and independent researcher--will talk about his search for his birth parents and share resources that might help other adoptees start on their search. Harry will be happy to answer questions, so bring any you may have and feel free to take notes.

This program is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the by the Athens-Clarke County Library Heritage Room. Please email us at or call us at (706) 613-3650 for more information.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

9 November 1948: U. S. Post Office Issues Moina Michael Stamp in Athens

On this day in 1948, at 8 o'clock in the morning, the Moina Michael poppy stamp went on sale in Athens, Georgia. Collectors lined up at the windows of the post office hours before they opened, and a parade featuring legion organizations, both University and high school R.O.T.C. and marching bands, and "a number of tanks" led to a ceremony at the Fine Arts Building on the University of Georgia campus. The presentation included speeches by many government officials, and a message sent by President Harry S Truman.

Miss Michael was lauded as "a great American woman, able educator, and valiant crusader who has contributed to veterans of this country and other countries. Her name will always be gratefully remembered by the people of this nation."

The 3-cent stamp, now seven times as valuable, was issued two days before Armistice Day (now known as Veterans Day or Remembrance Day) because it was on November 9th, 1918, that Miss Michael came up with the idea to use the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers.

In 1918, Miss Michael had taken a leave of absence from her educational work in Athens to volunteer with the YWCA Overseas War Workers training headquarters at Columbia University in New York. On November 9th, the YMCA was hosting the 25th Conference of Overseas Secretaries in New York. During a moment of downtime during the conference, she read the poem now known as In Flanders Field by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in a copy of Ladies Home Journal. She was inspired by the poem to write a response, titled We Shall Keep the Faith.

Later that day, a group of men from the conference brought Miss Michael a check for $10.00, in appreciation of the effort she'd made, at her own expense, to "make a home-like Hostess House of their headquarters." She replied that she would use the money to buy red poppies, "I shall always wear red poppies--poppies of Flanders Fields!" Miss Michael showed the men the McCrae poem, as well as the one she had just written. The men took both poems with them back into their meeting while Miss Michael went in search of cloth poppies, finally finding 25 of them at Wanamaker's department store. She returned to the hall to find men gathered around her desk, asking for poppies to wear in their lapels. It was then Moina Michael had the idea of using cloth poppy sales to raise money for the widows and orphans left behind by fallen soldiers.

A year later, while teaching a class of disabled veterans at the University of Georgia, Miss Michael came to realize that many soldiers who returned from the war needed assistance as well. She campaigned to have the poppy not just a memorial flower, but one of remembrance for all veterans who served their countries. The flower was adopted by veterans groups from around the world in the early 1920s, and before long, Moina Michael was internationally known as "The Poppy Lady." By the time of her death in 1944, nearly $200 million had been raised for disabled vets by the sale of poppies in the United States alone.

Poppies are still made by disabled veterans and sold for Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. You can also make your own to wear this Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11th.

Learn More:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

7 November 1878: "Subsequent returns prove that we were mistaken..."

On this day in 1878, the Southern Banner newspaper ran a triumphant headline and story on page 2, columns 1 and 2, declaring "DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHANT" in Georgia's 9th Congressional district. The Banner extolled the victory of their preferred candidate, Democrat Colonel Joel A. Billups, a Madison attorney, over Independent candidate Emory Speer, a 29-year-old Athens attorney. However, it turned out that Mr. Speer was the winner of the election, taking the seat by 1,500 votes.

In the weeks prior to election day, the Southern Banner had written insinuating editorials about the trustworthiness of Mr. Speer, questioning whether or not he paid his debts. His status as "Independent" was also doubted, and he was considered to be in cahoots with the Republicans. In their erroneous victory editorial on November 7th, they declared that the 9th district was "Still Solid" and described how Col. Billups had been investigated thoroughly by "a man of honor, truth, and fairness" who had found Col. Billups to be the same. Therefore, all should celebrate an election result that made Col. Billups the district's representative.

The Southern Banner was a weekly paper, so their correction was not printed until the following week, with a run on November 12th. There they described how their error was easy to make, "and was doubtless shared by Mr. Speer's friends." They also noted that they "recognize Mr. Speer as the Congressman elect for the 46th Congress from the 9th Congressional District." The rest of the editorial explained why the paper's publisher believed that Mr. Speer's victory "will prove disasterous to the vital interests of the Democratic party."

Emory Speer served as the Independent Representative from Georgia's 9th until he was defeated in 1882, after accusations that he was responsible for the consideration of Madison Davis to the position of Athens postmaster. At that time, he was appointed by President Chester Arthur to be the District Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Later, Mr. Speer became a judge in the Southern District of Georgia.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Cafe au Libris is Friday, November 12th

On this day, we want to tell you about the guest authors who will be in attendance at this year's Cafe au Libris here at the Athens-Clarke County Library.

The evening starts at 7pm, and brings you two hours of local authors, desserts and coffee, local musicians, and books. There will be a silent auction of collectable books, and the entire program is sponsored by our fantastic Friends of the Athens-Clarke County Library.

  • Allan Armitage, the author of 13 books about perennials, annuals, cut flowers, and his latest, Vines and Climbers. He runs the Trial Gardens at UGA, which are open to the public and the first of their kind in the United States. The results of the research in the Trial Gardens has created the Athens Select brand of plants, which have been chosen by Professor Armitage for their ability to withstand the heat and humidity of Southern gardens.
  • Donny Bailey Seagraves,  an author of fiction and nonfiction. After years of writing for newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Ms. Seagraves had her first novel published in 2009, Gone from These Woods. Aimed at a middle school-aged audience, but offering questions about forgiveness for all ages, it tells the story of an accident that changes the life of the 11-year-old protagonist, Daniel. 
  • Jeffrey Stepakoff is a former television and movie writer who has returned to his Southern home to write fiction. He teaches dramatic writing at Kennesaw State University, and published his first novel, Fireworks over Toccoa, in March, 2010. A love story set in Toccoa, Georgia in the aftermath of World War II, Mr. Stepakoff's first novel has received rave reviews from other authors such as Joanne Harris and Dorothea Benton Frank.
  • Grady Thrasher is the author of the popular and delightful Tim & Sally series of children's books. A retired attorney, in his second career as a children's author, Mr. Thrasher has taken Tim & Sally into the garden to sow vegetables, on a beach adventure, and given them a year in poems.
  • Susan Rebecca White has published two novels, South Bound in early 2009, and A Soft Place to Land in April of this year and called "smart, funny, moving, and wise" by author Kathryn Stockett. Ms. White lives in Atlanta, and teaches creative writing at Emory University.
 Cafe au Libris is always a great night, and we hope to see you here next Friday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 November 1909: You Won't Feel the Electricity

On this day in 1909, the Athens Banner ran a new series of ads by the Athens Electric Railway Company touting their products for the home--this week, the electric heating pad.

The Athens Electric Railway Company was the Athens trolley company. In October, 1896, they moved their generator to their new hydroelectric station at Mitchell Bridge Road. Not only did this improve the reliability of their trolleys, but the company could now offer electricity to local businesses and residences. In1910 they became the Athens Railway & Electric Company, emphasizing they powered not only the city's public transit system, but also the Athenian streets, homes and businesses, as well as offering a variety of electricity-powered household appliances and features for sale to individual consumers.

Ads depicting the elegance of entertaining with a chafing dish (plugged into the electric light socket hanging above your modern dining table) called it "without peer as a promoter of good fellowship and appetite." Their tagline in 1910 included the snappy, "Electricity Is All Right!" in connection with ads aimed at local shop owners, promising that a warm, electrically-lit show window would "coax bashful dollars from tightwad pockets."

The first portable electric vacuum cleaner was patented in 1908 by James Spangler, who sold his design to his cousin's husband, William Hoover. In this 1913 ad, also from the first week of November in the Athens Banner, Athens Railway & Electric Company urged housewives to "Do It Electrically!" and offered a free 10-day trial of the new time-saving machine.

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