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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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