Tuesday, January 31, 2012

31 January 1861: Julia A. Flisch, Author and Women's Education Advocate, Is Born

On this day in 1861, Julia Anna Flisch was born to Pauline and Leonard Flisch in Augusta, Georgia. While Julia was still an infant, her family moved to Athens, where her parents, German immigrants, ran a sweets shop across the street from the University of Georgia, selling cakes and ice cream to college students. Julia grew up in Athens; her family lived above their store, and were active in the community, including the First Presbyterian Church, where her father was an Elder. She later noted that "the history and traditions of my childhood were the history and traditions of the University of Georgia."

After graduating with honors from the Lucy Cobb Institute in in 1877, Julia wanted to attend UGA, but her application was rejected because she was female. Her family returned to Augusta  a few years later (according to Augustus Longstreet Hull, college boys who bought on credit and never paid made the business unprofitable, and the move was "self defense"). 

In 1882, she wrote a letter to the Augusta Chronicle titled "Give the Girls a Chance," calling for more educational and occupational opportunities for women in the South to "work out their own sense of independence" and "to be of some active use in the world." She signed the letter only, "A Young Woman." The subject stirred the Augusta population, and two weeks later, the paper published that Julia Flisch was the author. 

Over the next few years, she wrote frequently on the subject of women's education, and criticized the common education provided to girls at the time--with a focus on sewing, music, and decorative arts--as "defective education" that denied women the ability to properly support themselves.

Julia herself went to Coopers Union in New York to study secretarial skills, such as shorthand and typewriting in 1883 and 1884. She returned to Augusta and worked as a bookkeeper while writing and publishing articles, stories, and her first novel, Ashes of Hope. She also covered 1887 commencement season in Athens for the Augusta Chronicle, bemoaning that the school was for the "sons of Georgia" alone. 

She urged women to pressure the state to provide more opportunities for women's education, and in 1889, after more overwhelming pressure via petitions and letters from the women of Georgia, the legislature passed a bill approving the first women's industrial college. Despite the widespread support of many prominent women in the state, only Julia Flisch was part of the official program for laying the cornerstone for the Georgia Normal and Industrial College (now Georgia College and State University) in Milledgeville in 1890.

Julia joined the school's faculty, teaching the secretarial skills she had learned in New York and later ancient and medieval history. She continued to write for newspapers, and spent her summers studying at the University of Chicago and Harvard. In 1899, 22 years after she had first applied to study there, the University of Georgia granted her an honorary degree, the first degree UGA ever gave to a woman; 19 years later, the first women students were admitted to UGA.

In 1905, Julia left her position to attend the University of Wisconsin. In 1908, she earned her Master's degree in history, and was offered positions at universities around the country. She chose, however, to return to Georgia, and took a position at the Tubman High School for Girls in Augusta. In 1925, she published her second novel, Old Hurricane and took the position of Dean of Women for the newly established Augusta Junior College, the first junior college in Georgia (now Augusta State University). Julia Flisch retired from teaching in 1936 due to her failing vision. She died in 1941, and is buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta.

Georgia Women of Achievement honored Julia Anna Flisch, as well as Margaret Mitchell, Emily Thomas Tubman, Ruth Hartley Mosley, and Carson McCullers, as one of the important women in Georgia's history.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

26 January 1872: Christmas Eve Mischief Funds City

On this day in 1872, the following story appeared in the Southern Banner

Following the night of mischief, the Banner had called the Christmas Eve events "unseemly noises and actions which might well have frightened old Santa Claus from his mission" and "it was more like the imps of pandemonium hailing the birth of a new devil." The paper concluded at the time that 

 "If civilization is not a failure, and it is proposed to maintain the forms of civilized life, measures ought to be taken to detect and punish the authors of such vandalism, and prevent its recurrence. If we are bent on becoming savages, we may as well abolish the mockery of law, and abandon the pretences [sic] of order and decency."

The type of pranks that came to Athens that Christmas Eve--fireworks, pistols, removal or switching of gates and fences--were typical of a British tradition known as Mischief Night that dates to the 1700s. Normally occurring between October 30th and November 5th, young men would set off fireworks, knock and run from doorsteps, and stole or switched gates and signs from homes and businesses.  

The night is still common in northern England, with more common pranks such as gum under car door handles and throwing eggs or flour (or both) at doorways. In fact, some grocery stores in the areas where Mischief Night is still common ban the sale of flour and eggs to those under 16 in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

23 January 1845: Marriage & Death Announcements from Around the State

On this day, the following marriage and death announcements appeared in the Southern Banner:

(click on image to enlarge)

The announcements are not only covering local marriages and deaths, but from all around Georgia. A smaller population, and the need to fill all the space in each week's paper, made publishing such notices a normal practice by many early newspapers. 

The wide scope of such announcements is also why we advise researchers not to limit themselves to the newspapers from the city or county where their family lived. Many counties did not have their own newspaper in the 1800s in Georgia, and even those that did have gaps in their collections, have not been abstracted or digitized, or maybe were lost entirely over time. 

The dates for the deaths are from January ("instant" or "inst" indicates the same month as published), while the marriages are from both January and December ("ultimo" or "ult" indicates the previous month). 

The marriages, as was the custom at the time and often today, were held in the bride's home county. This tradition makes such announcements an important part of tracking where to look for marriage certificates and maternal lines, especially when the county where your family "has always lived" has few of the vital records you would expect to find. 

Two people from "Clark" county with the last name of "Lester" were married on the same Thursday. Much like the Carlton siblings two years earlier, it is possible this brother and sister married on the same day. Because these couples were wed in 1845, we can use the 1850 United States Census to peek in on their lives just a few years later. 

In 1850, Josiah (now 26) and Emily (now 23) Lester were living in High Shoals with their three-year-old daugher Elizabeth J. and one-year-old daughter Regina E.; Josiah Daniell (now 23) and his wife Elizabeth Susan (now 21) are living in Watkinsville with their three-year-old son James W. and one-year-old son Young H. The name of the younger son could indicate that the family was Methodist (if the child was named for Young L. G. Harris).

Though it is difficult to find Absalom Gray in the 1850 Census, in 1860, he is now 56 years old and still living in Griffin, with a different wife, 45-year-old Mary A. Gray. The two children in the house, Mary J. E. Gray (21 years old) and Francis A. Gray (18 years old) would have been born to Sarah before her death.

It's worth your time to check several papers when trying to find reference to an ancestor or that maternal line that seems to have just disappeared into the past. 

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't Miss Out! Sign Up for Our Newsletters!

On this day, we'd like to remind you to subscribe to our two free Heritage Room newsletters. 

Our Genealogy and History Events newsletter covers everything from webinars by the National Archives in Atlanta about the 1940 Census and lock-in research evenings at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville to exhibitions about George Washington Carver at the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta and furniture by Athenian Henry Eugene Thomas at the Georgia Museum of Art here in town. Rather than keep up with a million postcards, flyers, and emails, we put all the coming events of the month into a neat package or two that you can use to ensure you don't miss a thing.

Our Genealogy News and Tips newsletter keeps you in the loop with the latest resources available for research, such as the Tennessee Death Records recently added to the Ancestry database and a link to the new searchable online index of Alabama probate records. It also covers updates about the release of the 1940 Census (available on April 2, 2012, at 9am EDT) and fun things, like the new Henry Louis Gates PBS program, Finding Your Roots, and when the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? returns.

Click here (or either of the above newletter links) to read the current newsletter and subscribe to have them delivered. It couldn't be easier, and is a great time saver, so sign up today!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

14 January 1890: Preserve Your Meat in Charcoal During an Unseasonably Warm Winter

On this day in 1890, the following advice was republished from an earlier edition of the Athens Banner in the Weekly Banner

The charcoal here would be fresh, cool wood charcoal dust, and was intended, according to A. Hausner's  1902 book, The Manufacture of Preserved Foods and Sweetmeats, to keep meat "in a completely unchanged state, so that it can be cooked without further trouble." 

The problem with preservation methods with this goal was that "they demanded ... a certain amount of skill in the preserver." Results of preserving in charcoal, Hausner said, "vary much," and it was therefore recommended that that form of preservation be reserved "for short periods, e.g. when it is necessary to send meat on an ordinary journey by rail."

Today, most modern food preservation guides do not include charcoal as a method of safe meat preservation. 

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Library Closed on Monday, 16 January 2012

On this day, we'd like to remind you that the library will be closed on Monday, January 16th, 2012, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 

This year, the holiday falls one day after what would have been the Civil Rights Leader's 83rd birthday.  Several Day of Service events will be held around Athens that day.

The library will reopen at 9am on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

9 January 1910: "When Milady Goes Shopping"

On this day in 1910, the following suggestion was made to the married men of Athens:

Athens Transfer & Livery Co. was owned by the Deadwyler family, who also were in the cotton broker business, also on Clayton Street, approximately across the street from where the Last Resort Grill is today. The Deadwylers had sold mules and horses in Athens for years, as well as feed and some other livestock-related supplies. 

Their ads in the 1909 Athens city directory indicate that they offered "The Best Livery Teams in Town" and could do "All kinds of hauling," including "Household Goods," not just taking potentially cranky women into town to gather provisions for the home.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heritage Room Genealogy Classes at the Council on Aging

On this day, we'd like you to know that the Heritage Room librarians will be offering a series of genealogy courses this year in conjunction with the Athens Community Council on Aging

Rather than the longer, comprehensive single classes we offered in the Heritage Room, these courses are focused on certain areas of research, such as Military Records (such as service records and pension applications), Courthouse Documents (such as deeds, wills, and tax records), and Milestone Documents (such as birth, marriage, and death certificates). 

Each class is independent, so if you are set on the basics, but want to know more about tax records or using newspapers in research, just take those classes when they are offered later in the year. (No final schedule has been set; please see the ACCA's program schedule for class dates and descriptions.)

Our first course will cover Getting Started with the Basics on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, from 1-2:30pm in the Harris Room at the ACCA's Hoyt Street location. The class is free to members of the ACCA's Center for Active Living. Though free for members of CAL, registration is required.

In this class, we'll cover such introductory information as how to fill out and use pedigree charts, family group sheets and family trees; how to use vital records, federal census records, and newspapers to piece together a family history; how to use family-kept records and papers, such as Bibles, scrapbooks, letters, etc.; and the importance of interviewing not just relatives, but family friends and neighbors when trying to fill out the many leaves on your family tree.

For more information about the classes, please call us at the library, (706) 613-3650, extension 356; to register, please call the Athens Council on Aging at (706) 549-4850 or consult their online program catalog, Senior Center Scene.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1 January 1917: "A Great Deal of Excitement Was Caused"

On this day in 1917, news of an eclectic collision on Milledge Avenue was reported in the Athens Daily Herald:

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