Monday, May 30, 2011

Glean Information Galore from Our Newsletters!

On this day we'd like to remind you about our two Heritage Room newsletters, available for free, convenient delivery to your email Inbox.

Our Genealogy & History Events newsletter covers classes, speakers, book signings, tours, festivals, expos, exhibits, demonstrations, workshops, and other programs for family historians and just lovers of history. It's also a great way to keep up with news about the renovation plans here at the Athens-Clarke County library.

Our Genealogy Tips newsletter keeps you up to date with newly available books and compilations, collections now available online, ways to make your research trips go a little easier, technology that makes genealogy work easier, and links to articles about different types of records. It's a great way to keep up with the changing world of historical records and methods in a busy world.

Simply click HERE (or the links above) to read the current newsletters and sign up today! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

27 May 1828: "Girls beyond the power of enumeration"

On this day in 1828, the Athenian newspaper published this bit of local demographic data:

This population estimate seems to be for within the city limits of Athens, which was only a few blocks of downtown and the streets around North Campus at the time. The U.S. Census total population count for Clarke County in 1830 was much higher, 10,176 people. According to the 2010 U. S. Census, Athens-Clarke County has 115,424 residents. 

The numbers of carriages was an indicator of wealth, as was, apparently, the number of marriageable widows in town. A more accurate indicator can be found in the county tax records, where from 1819 to 1829, tax revenue in Clarke County increased by nearly 35%.

The University of Georgia was referred to as "Franklin College" in its early years. In 1828, total student population was 105 young white men. Women would not be admitted as undergraduates for another 90 years; African-Americans not for another 133 years. Today, the number of students at UGA's Athens campus is nearly 34,000, with a ratio of women to men of 58% to 42%, still pretty good odds for most male students.

Learn More:

Monday, May 23, 2011

23 May 1907: Injured Odd Fellows Return to Athens

On this day in 1907, Athens residents who had been hospitalized in Macon after surviving  a Central of Georgia Railway train wreck on May 20th, returned to their homes. The announcement ran in the Weekly Banner:

According to news reports, other Athenians injured in the wreck were A. C. Bishop (shoulder), F. H. Bowden (cuts on head and left shoulder), A. B. Harper (left hip), H. L. Garabald (general shake-up), R. L. Bramlett (right leg and shoulder), J. W. Baker (bruised on head), and J. W. Fox (sprained left knee).  

The No. 18 train from Athens was 20 minutes from it's next stop in Macon when it derailed at a speed of 30 to 35 miles per hour (reports vary).  On board were approximately 50 passengers, including a special coach with a delegation of Odd Fellows members from Athens and area towns en route to the week-long state convention in Columbus. After being checked by doctors, those passengers not hospitalized continued on to the state convention.

The wreck was described in the Macon Twice-A-Week Telegraph:

As the engine struck the curve two miles south of Hillsboro the rails turned, probably caused by the weight of the engine coming around the curve. The locomotive, however, was over the rail before it had turned sufficient to throw it and so escaped. The three coaches were hurled about ten feet from the track, the first and last being badly smashed and the second, somehow, miraculously escaping damage and being laid intact against the embankment at the side of the track.

It was first thought impossible that the coaches could be so completely wrecked and yet no one have met their death, and all were greatly relieved when it was verified none had been killed. This was all the more miraculous as the train was unusually crowded because of the Odd Fellow's party.

The morning after the wreck, a short Atlanta Georgian and News update noted that "no cause is known for the Hillsboro wreck other than it was a derailment on a sharp curve." In 1907, train accidents were fairly common across the country, and this particular accident had too few injuries to garner much media attention.

The Independent Order of the Odd Fellows began in England, and were established in the United States in 1819 in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1851, they became "the first national fraternity to include women" with the establishment of the Rebekah Degree. They still exist today, with 10,000 lodges in 26 countries, working toward their mission "To visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan."

Learn More:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

21 May 1897: "Athens can beat that egg."

On this day in 1897, the
Weekly Banner published the following rebuttal to a fuss in Norcross:

Mr. M. C. Few was likely Mark Few, a local Bible salesman who lived on College Avenue, and therefore, an honest and reliable source.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest egg from a living bird was 5 pounds, 11.36 ounces, laid by a Swedish ostrich in 2008.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

This Day in Athens a Finalist for Best Local Library Blog!

On this day we'd like to announce that
This Day in Athens is one of five finalists for Salem Press's 2011 Library Blog Awards in the category of Local Blog

We are very surprised, and very excited to have this honor. We are the only local history blog in the category. Voting is open until June 1st, and we hope you'll take the time to vote for us, and check out the other wonderful blogs that are finalists. The excellent company is an honor in itself.

Thanks to everyone who subscribes to This Day, reads and passes along the posts, has "Liked" us on Facebook, and follows us on Twitter. We couldn't have done it without your support!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Learn How to Share Your Story on May 21st!

On this day we would like to invite you hear author Elizabeth Coursen discuss the importance of autobiography and share tips from her book, The Complete Biography Workbook. Coursen's exercises and suggestions make the writing process easy and enjoyable, whether penning your own memoirs or writing about your own ancestors.

Elizabeth Coursen will speak in the Library Auditorium at 2pm on Saturday, May 21st. There will be a reception and book signing following her talk in the Small Conference Room. This event is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the Clarke-Oconee Genealogical Society and the Athens-Clarke County Library Heritage Room.

For more information, call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350, or email us at We hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

15 May 1856: "In plentitude, and even splendor..."

On this day in the Southern Watchman, the following paid announcement was published on page 4:

John Flournoy was a frequent "correspondent" in the Athens newspapers of the 1850s. Approximately six weeks later, he published another notice on this topic:

THE public will be re-assured to observe that I will pay nothing not cognisable by me as a debt! My wife alternately leaves me and returns, and is now re-absconded--uncertain whether or not to come home any more. My offence is inability to support her in the extravagance she wants.  I can scarcely call a dollar my own.  The genius of woman is the talent of Satan. She it is, as a tool--that brought all our woes; and she it is that MUST be overmastered! I would not give a thrip for such a society or liberty as we now have, until it be reformed in a thousand condign ways . So, no farther advice on this point.

Beyond requests for local merchants to ignore his "wife, ANY wife, or wives," Mr. Flournoy also had run-ins with local businesses and neighbors that would be aired in overwrought prose amongst the ads for patent medicines, mills for sale, new shipments of goods, and county legal notices. Athens newspapers were not alone; he regularly wrote to papers all over Georgia, including Augusta and Macon, and religious publications.

Mr. Flournoy was a resident of Jackson county. In Jackson county record abstracts, there is reference to both "J. J. Flournoy" and "John Jacobus Flournoy,"never a "John James Flournoy," but they appear to be the same person.

According to Historic Notes on Jackson County, Georgia, John Jacobus Flournoy had been a native of Clarke, but moved to Jackson County in 1839. He lost his hearing and speech when he was young, and is considered instrumental in having the Georgia General Assmbly create the School for the Deaf at Cave Springs, Georgia in 1846; the school still operates today. In the book, Mr. Flournoy is described as "quite eccentric," and notes that he "wrote various articles expressing his dislike for society in general."

In 1858, calling himself "Dr. J. J. Flournoy," he offered a cold preventative method for winter colds only; he admitted he had not yet found a way to prevent summer colds. In 1859, he requested that people not call him "old Flournoy," but rather "old Mr. Flournoy." By the start of the Civil War, his notices were no longer quite so florid, advertising for a lost horse, watch, and a runaway slave, and later being noted by the paper with other contributors to the Sick and Wounded Soldiers Wayside Home in Athens. 

In March, 1874, the Macon newspaper noted that J. J. Flournoy had "perhaps, written more letters, on more subjects, to more people than any man that ever lived or will live to the end of time." By the 1870s, his letters to the Athens papers were somewhat less frequent. An editorial in an 1886 Banner-Watchman mentions Mr. Flournoy as "lately deceased," and calls him "a gentleman of immense personal courage." His exact date of death is unclear, but his age is listed as 61 in the 1870 U. S. Census, so he was approximately 77 years old when he died.

Learn More:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spend the Evening of Thursday, May 19th Getting Started with Genealogy!

On this day, we'd like to remind you about our Getting Started with Genealogy class on Thursday, May 19th, 2011, 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 goal is to help you begin the construction of your family tree, and to teach you about the resources available in Athens that will be helpful to your research. The class includes handouts, and is useful no matter where your relatives originated or later migrated.

Free and open to the public, but registration is required. Call (706) 613-3650, ext. 350 or email us at to register. As the Heritage Room can be chilly in the summer, we suggest you bring a sweater or light jacket to the class. We hope to see you here!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stones & Scorpions for Fish & Chips This Sunday

On this day, we'd like to invite you to Stones & Scorpions for Fish & Chips: U. S. Peacekeepers on the Oconee and Civil Rebellion in Georgia, a program co-sponsored by the Athens Historical Society and Athens-Clarke County Library Heritage Room.

In the library auditorium at 3pm on Sunday, May 15, 2011, historian Steven Scurry will draw from 18th century archives to describe the early frontier along the Oconee River and the complex challenge Georgia presented for the fledgling United States of America during the Washington administration. Beginning in 1791, federal troops were garrisoned on the Georgia border, but that didn't stop Elijah Clarke from establishing the Trans-Oconee Republic or the scandal of the Yazoo Land Fraud that led some bribed legislators to flee the state for their own safety.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information, call us at (706) 613-3650 or email us at We hope to see you there!

Monday, May 9, 2011

9 May 1902: "No Contagious Diseases."

On this day in 1902, among other tidbits of brief news covering everything from the weather to church picnics, the following item was included in the Athens Banner:


The city of Athens had a full-time Sanitary Inspector since at least 1890, far ahead of its time in the rest of the state. He earned $600 per year in 1890, the same as a "regular policeman" and the city attorney. Georgia did not establish a Board of Health with quarantine authority and the ability to enforce other public health laws until 1903. 

In Athens, the Sanitary Inspector in charge of enforcing regulations that were intended to control any communicable diseases (such as smallpox or tuberculosis), and tested and regulated the milk supply. The Sanitary Inspector also worked with the University of Georgia to provide bacteriological services to the county, such as testing the water supply for contaminants. 

In later years, child health became a focus of local health authorities, with much support from local organizations like the Athens Woman's Club, who focused on early childhood education, proper nutrition, and establishing Athens' first Farmer's Market to bring fresh food to a wider population.

Learn More:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

5 May 1901: The Affordable Luxury of Lion Coffee

On this day in 1901, Woolson Spice Company of Toledo, Ohio, ran this ad in the Athens Daily Banner for Lion brand coffee. 

 (click image to enlarge)

Woolson Spice Company was the roaster and distributor of Lion Coffee, and had recently decided to embark in a $200,000.00 ad campaign across the nation, comparable to a $5 million ad campaign today. The message of their ad seems to be that anyone, even a male lion, could successfully make great coffee if he used Lion coffee.

Though their logos are similar, the LION Coffee that exists today is unrelated to this company, and started in 1969, specializing in Hawaiian gourmet coffee beans.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3 May 1907: Athenians Asked to "Train Themselves" to Use New Trash Cans

On this day, and for many other days during the week, the following notice ran in the Athens newspapers:

Though such a request may seem odd, 102 years later, a similar campaign to control trash and waste around Athens and the University of Georgia campus on football game days was initiated by the UGA Athletic Association after the campus was left covered in trash by tailgaters during the 2009 season.

Learn More: