Sunday, May 30, 2010

Treat Yourself to Free Heritage Room Newsletters

On this day, we'd like to remind you about two newsletters from the Heritage Room that you can have delivered to your email Inbox.

Genealogy Events newsletter comes out at the end of each month. It includes events in the Athens area and from around Georgia related to historical research, events, people, and places; history- or genealogy-related exhibits and displays; as well as meeting information for area history and genealogy groups. Some items from previous Events newsletters included Historic Augusta loft tours, a lecture about the Kennesaw City Cemetery, topics for the Georgia Archives Lunch & Learn series, and workshops on writing and publishing genealogy.
It's a great way to get a head's up on what is being offered over the next few weeks so you don't miss anything you might enjoy.

We will also have a
Genealogy Tips newsletter that will be sent every few weeks with news of new resources, programs, or developments in the wider genealogy world. Recent Tips included information about the National Archive plan to digitize 180,000 War of 1812 pension records, the expanded Atlanta Historic Newspapers available in the Digital Library of Georgia, resources for doing Hispanic Genealogy, and ways to preserve all your research. It's an easy way to keep up with your hobby without reading dozens of blogs and websites, or catch items you might have otherwise missed.

Simply follow the links above (or
click here) to see the current newsletters and sign up today!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

27 May 1931: "Two meat-eating plants are growing in Mrs. G. W. Brown's front yard..."

On this day in 1931, the Athens-Banner Herald reported on two pitcher plants growing at 347 Hancock Avenue, home of Mrs. G. W. Brown.

The article quotes University of Georgia botany professor Dr. J. M. Reade as saying "there are not many in this section of the state," then describes how the pitcher plants catch and digest their prey. The carnivorous pitcher plant lures insects into the top of the plant with a sweet nectar. Rather than close down on its prey as the Venus Flytrap does, the pitcher is a passive killer, allowing the insect to simply slip or slide down into the basin of it's pitcher-shaped body where a liquid filled with digestive enzymes consumes the prey.

Though the reporter described the plants as "Nepenthaceae, or the American pitcher plant," the pitcher plants native to Georgia and other parts of North America are actually part of the Sarraceniaceae family; the Nepenthaceae family are indigenous to "tropical habitats in Australia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Seychelles, Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka." The natural habitat for Sarracenia pitchers is bogland, which is why they are more common in central and southern Georgia.

In 1973, Georgia passed the Wildflower Preservation Act, which protects rare species of plants on state-owned and unowned land. Rare plants on privately-owned property are protected only so far as the property owner makes their preservation a priority. Development and wetland drainage have destroyed 97.5% of pitcher plant habitat in the southeast.

Several species of pitcher are considered endangered or threatened in Georgia, such as:
  • White-top pitcher plants are considered Endangered by the state of Georgia, and are primarily confined to Sumter County.
  • Green pitcher plants are considered Endangered by both the state of Georgia and under the United States Endangered Species Act, and are only found in a single site in Towns County.
  • Sweet pitcher plants are considered Threatened by the state of Georgia, and while there have been up to 40 natural sites found, only two of these are protected.
  • Purple pitcher plants are found both on the coast and in mountain bogs. There is only one mountain site left, and the remaining four coastal preservation sites are protected by a management agreement the state has with Georgia Power.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources lists over 150 protected plants in the state, ranging in status from Endangered, for plants facing "extinction throughout all or part of its range," to Unusual, for those plants that are rare and are "subject to commercial exploitation."

Learn More:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

23 May 1990: The Hull-Snelling House Is Demolished

On this day 20 years ago, the Hull-Snelling House at 198 Hull Street was razed by the Christian College of Georgia. Also destroyed that day was a magnolia tree on the property that measured 58 inches in circumference and was thought to be 116 years old. The space became a parking lot for the Holiday Inn across the street.

The house was built in approximately 1842 by Asbury Hull, a prominent member of the early Athens community. Asbury Hull graduated from the University in 1814, served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the University of Georgia for most of his professional life (1819-1866), was a trustee of the First Methodist Church of Athens, spent 1825-1835 as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and was elected Speaker three times. He was Cashier of the Athens branch of the Bank of the State of Georgia from 1838-1853, was elected by both Unionist and Secessionist factions as a representative to the 1860 Georgia convention in Milledgeville, and was the first president of the Southern Mutual Insurance Company. He died in 1866.

His son, William Hope Hull also lived in the house before the Civil War. He graduated in 1838 from UGA, established a lucrative law practice, and served as Solicitor General for the Western Judicial Circuit. Along with Joseph Henry Lumpkin and Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, William Hope Hull founded the UGA Law School. As a good friend of Howell Cobb, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General of the United States in the Buchanan Administration, though sided with the South in the war. After the war, he moved his law practice to Augusta, where his clients included the Georgia Railroad Company. He died suddenly on a trip to New York in 1877.

The house later was the home of Dr. Charles M. Snelling, who came to the University as a mathematics professor in 1888, and later served as Dean of Franklin College, President of Franklin College, and Dean of the University under Chancellor David C. Barrow. Upon Barrow's retirement in 1926, Snelling became Chancellor, and served in that position until his retirement in 1932.

During his time at the University, he helped start a co-operative dining room on campus to assist students of limited means to gain an education, created the Extension Division, raised admission requirements, and recommended that faculty be given group insurance benefits. While Snelling lived in the house, one of his guests was then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who had come to Athens to speak at the 1926 Commencement ceremonies. He died in 1939.

Though the house had been the home to many significant Athenians in the first part of its life, over the years it had also served as a fraternity house, restaurant, and at the time of its demolition, the Athens Community Council on Aging. The building was deemed too heavy and fragile to move, with handmade local brick creating one-foot-thick walls covered by stucco outside and plaster inside, original Italian marble mantlepieces, handmade antebellum glass windows, giant doors and doorways, and virgin long-leaf pine wood. The wide front door was made from a single slab of wood. None of these features were saved.

The Athens Historic Preservation Commission nominated the house for protection as part of an "historic mini-district" with other houses along the street in October of 1989, but the council vote to approve the designation was a tie vote and then-Mayor Dwain Chambers broke the tie by voting against preservation. Though local organizations searched to find a buyer, they were only given a month, and few were willing to match Holiday Inn's offer of $400,000 when estimates to restore the house ran from $350,000 to $500,000.

The episode galvanized the preservation community, and their efforts ensured Fire House No. 1 was not demolished but incorporated into the design of the new Classic Center. Since 1990, many other historic properties, including the Wray-Nicholson House also on Hull Street, have been saved and preserved to keep Athens the "Classic City."

Learn More:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Find Genealogy Help

On this day, we'd like you to know that the African-American Family Research Interest Group of the Clarke-Oconee Genealogical Society will be meeting in the Heritage Room this Saturday, May 22nd, at 1:00 p.m.

If you are stuck on a research question or simply don't know where to go next with the information you've found, come to the meeting and gain assistance in moving forward with your work. Be sure to bring a sweater, as the Heritage Room can be quite chilly this time of year.

The meeting is free and open to the public, and no registration is required. For more information, email Mae Castenell or call the Heritage Room at (706) 613-3650, ext. 350. This will be the AAFRIG's last monthly meeting in the Heritage Room; after this month, they will be meeting with COGS on the third weekend of the month.

We look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

18 May 1910: The Morton Theatre Opens!

On this day 100 years ago, the first performance was held at the new Morton Theatre on the corner of Hull and Washington Streets in downtown Athens.

purchased the two lots ... from Cobb Lampkin for $2,175.00 cash, and built and opened the theatre within 16 months. As with other buildings at "Hot Corner," his first floor provided office and retail space for black professionals, such as physician and dentist offices, and the E. D. Harris drugstore. Over time, the Morton Theatre became "a proud symbol of the power and wealth of Athens' black middle class."

The auditorium and dressing rooms were on the second floor, with the balcony on the third level. The fourth floor had cheaper, gallery seating with benches as well as some small office space. The inaugural performance was a classical piano concert by Alice Carter Simmons of the Oberlin, Ohio Conservatory of Music; both black and white patrons attended.

The Morton Theatre hosted vaudeville acts as well as local performances, such as graduation ceremonies for the African-American schools, their plays and concerts, recitals by local music teachers, and an annual New Year's Day celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation for Athens' black community. Famous musicians such as Blind Willie Tell, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong are also said to have performed at the theatre. Many years later, R.E.M. would film parts of their video "The One I Love" there.

The first silent films were shown in 1919, and by the 1930s, the building was a movie house run by M. B. Morton's son, Charlie. The building fell into disrepair as the Great Depression and the boll weevil pushed many of Athens' black population north to find work. The office spaces on the first floor stayed occupied, but the theatre space was no longer used after a small fire in the projection room in the mid-1950s.

The family sold the building in 1973 to Bond Properties, and in 1979, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1981, the Morton Corporation purchased the building and gained grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Georgia Council for Arts and Humanities, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation division, and a Community Development block grant from the Athens City Council to start restoration of the property.

The title transferred to the Athens-Clarke government in 1991, who completed renovations to make it a fully functional theatre, reopening it again 1994.

There has been a year-long celebration for the Morton Theatre Centennial, and today there are several events planned that are free and open to the public. From 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. this afternoon, the Morton will host an open house for the community, featuring a Centennial Art Show, tours of the theatre, and cookies and punch in the E. D. Harris pharmacy office.

At 7:00 p.m., Dr. Rosalyn Floyd of the Fine Arts Department of Augusta State College will perform a piano concert, reminiscent of the first show ever performed at the Morton by Alice Carter Simmons exactly a century ago tonight. After the concert, free birthday cake will be available in the E. D. Harris pharmacy.

On Saturday night, the Morton will host a jazz concert featuring the "King of Strings" violinist Ken Ford and singer Avery Sunshine.

For more information about tonight's events and other plans for the year of celebration, contact Joyce Reifsteck at or (706) 613-3770.

Learn More:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Get Started with Genealogy This Week!

On this day, we'd like to remind you about our next Getting Started with Genealogy class on Thursday, May 20th, 2010, from 6-8:30pm 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 here in Athens for wherever your search might lead 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 chilly in the summer. Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Old is the New Green this May

On this day, we hope you'll stop by the library to see a fascinating display outside the Heritage Room for National Historic Preservation Month .

The display covers Athens buildings that have been restored and preserved over the centuries, those buildings we have lost to time and "progress," and those that have been readapted for reuse by our modern city.

Learn more:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

11 May 1902: Short Notes of Interest

On this day in 1902, the Athens Daily Banner published these in their Short Notes of Interest column:
Best line of Cigars in the city. The Orr Drug Co.
Illicit Distiller,
J. M. Butler, a white man from Oconee county, was bound over to appear at the next term of the U. S. court on the charge of illicit distilling.
For Sale,
My home place, corner Baldwin and Jackson streets. H. T. Huggins.

18 Granulated Sugar,
For $1.00 at J. H. Massey's.

Death of Engineer,
The remains of Mr. J. L. Greer, an engineer employed by the Seaboard at Abbeville, S. C., were brought to Athens yesterday at noon, and taken over the Georgia railroad to Woodville, Ga., for interment.

Royal Etchings,
C. W. Motes, the photographer, invites the attention of the public to the very latest style of picture, the Royal Etching, which he has on display at his studio. For enlarged pictures nothing equals this style in beauty, finish or durability.

On Broad street, a small pin or badge, enameled, blue and gold, with letters "U.S." on face. Finder will be suitably rewarded by returning to Webb & Crawford.

Snap Beans,
Cabbage and New Irish Potatoes at J. H. Massey's.

Services at Catholic Church,
There will be services at the Catholic church this morning at 9:30. Father Rapier officiating.

I will pay fifty dollars reward with evidence to convict for the party or parties defacing public buildings or places by writing indecent words or otherwise. J. F. Rhodes, mayor.

For Rent,
Two nice front rooms, suitable for physician, dentist, or lawyers in the Hajos Studio, 21 Clayton street. Apply to C. O. Motes, Studio 10 1/2 College avenue.

Star Brand Hams,
at J. H. Massey's.

Burial of Infant,
The little infant of Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Yancey who died early yesterday morning in Atlanta was brought here yesterday for interment. The corpse was met at the Seaboard depot and the interment took place in Oconee Cemetery.

Evaporated Apples,
at J. H. Massey's.

Learn More:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

6 May 1918: Time Changes for the Streetcar Schedule

On this day in 1918, the Athens Daily Herald published the "slight adjustment of schedules" by the Athens Railway & Electric Company "to meet present conditions." The new schedule was published daily for a week.
From 5:15 a. m., city time, or 6:15 a. m., government time, a half-hour schedule will be operated for one hour, making all connections for the early trains.

From 10:50 p.m., city time, or 11:50 p. m., government time, a half hour schedule will be operated on the Milledge and Lumpkin belt, the M. and L. cars alternating every fifteen minutes from downtown, M. car 10:50 p.m., 11:20 p.m., and 11:50 p.m., and L. car 11:05 p.m., and 11:35 p.m., city time.
"Government time" refers to the first institution of Daylight Saving Time by the United States, though it had been used in Europe since 1916. Congress passed the law establishing the use of Daylight Saving Time on March 19, 1918, as a way to conserve energy during the First World War.

The law went into effect on March 31, 1918, and also established the first official time zones in the United States. The time change was unpopular, and was repealed in 1919. President Franklin D. Roosevelt re-established the use of Daylight Saving Time in 1942, using the moniker "war time."

After the end of the Second World War, the shift to Daylight Saving Time was considered a local issue, but the inconsistencies caused enough problems that in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act. States could choose to opt out by passing a bill in their legislature. Today, only Arizona and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

Learn More:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

2 May 1935: Dog and Pony Show at UGA!

On this day in 1935, as part of UGA's College of Agriculture Livestock-Legume Day, the Sirloin and Saddle Club sponsored "a Dog and Pony show at 3:30 this afternoon and the 15th Little International Livestock show at 7:30 tonight."

Organizers expected at least 2,000 people to attend the day's activities, starting at 10 in the morning with terracing demonstrations and inspections of dairy cattle, alfalfa, winter legumes and haying machinery. The afternoon dog show would include approximately 150 dogs, competing by breed and sex, with a overall champion being chosen as well. Though usually done together, past high turnouts made it necessary for the Livestock Show and the Dog and Pony Show to be separated.

The events were held at Hardman Hall, built in 1922 for the animal husbandry and veterinary schools. Part of the structure was an outdoor amphitheater for judging events such as these shows and Dairy Day. In 1967 the amphitheater was filled in as part of the construction of the Boyd Graduate Studies Building. Hardman Hall is now "Home of the Flying Bulldogs," UGA's Air Force ROTC.

The Saddle and Sirloin Club was founded in 1920, and is now the Block and Bridle Club at UGA. They sponsor multiple livestock judging events every year, including the Little International Livestock Show in the fall and the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo each spring.

Approximately 500 people attended the 1935 Dog and Pony Show. Winner of the Dog division was N. T. Polk's "Walker Fox Hound," and for the Pony division, the winner was ridden by Wilson Hayes. No name or breed for the victorious pony was provided in media reports, though owners of winners of each dog breed, including one for "Miscellaneous," were reported in the Athens Daily Times the next day.

Among the breeds competing was the "July Fox Hound," a line of foxhound originating in Hancock County, Georgia in 1858, bred for increased speed and agility to catch red foxes. The July hounds are descended from a male named "July" who was bred with Georgia Birdsong hounds and Virginia and Maryland Henry hounds to create the new strain. In 2007, the Georgia House passed Resolution 724, honoring the original July Foxhound and recognizing the historical marker placed in Sparta where the dogs were originally bred.

Learn More:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Heritage Room Newsletters Bring News to You

On this day, we'd like to remind you about two newsletters from the Heritage Room that you can have delivered to your email Inbox.

Genealogy Events newsletter comes out at the end of each month. It includes events in the Athens area and from around Georgia related to historical research, events, people, and places; history- or genealogy-related exhibits and displays; as well as meeting information for area history and genealogy groups. It's a great way to get a head's up on what is being offered over the next few weeks so you don't miss anything you might enjoy.

We will also have a
Genealogy Tips newsletter that will be sent every few weeks with news of new resources, programs, or developments in the wider genealogy world. It's an easy way to keep up with your hobby without reading dozens of blogs and websites, or catch items you might have otherwise missed.

Simply follow the links above (or
click here) to see the current newsletters and sign up today!