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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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