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From the Executive Director

For some, this is my first opportunity to introduce myself.  January 1 of this year, I began my appointment as Executive Director of Troup County Historical Society, Archives, and Legacy Museum.  I am no stranger to the facilities however, having started as an intern in 2009 while working on a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Alabama.  I finished my degree, spent some time working at the National Archives in Seattle, Washington, and was fortunate to be offered the position of Archivist here at TCHS.  I was born to a family of history-lovers; my parents and grandparents instilled in me a love of heritage, research, and preservation through our family travels and heirlooms.  When I remember summer days spent drawing and writing on pretty parchment papers at my grandmother’s kitchen table, and trips with my parents to Birmingham’s Linn-Henley Library to research genealogy, I think that I was always meant to be an archivist.

    Upon reorganizing the drawers in my new office, a copy of the original Ocfuskee Historical Society charter and bylaws was unearthed.  As many of you already know, some of you may have even been a part, the Ocfuskee Historical Society was formed in 1972 and renamed the Troup County Historical Society in 1982, with the intent to “increase and diffuse knowledge and a greater appreciation of Troup County’s heritage.”  Since that time, the Historical Society has grown to hold and maintain all the local government and school board records, and has created an award-winning museum.  It is a rare and complex facility that combines preservation, conservation, research, heritage education and programing, a museum facility, and records services all in one. 

    An amazing legacy has long been established by the Historical Society. It is a legacy which I am honored to have the opportunity to continue.  Things have begun to look a bit different around the Historical Society.  One example is this introduction of a color newsletter; we hope you enjoy a more intriguing and thorough look into what is happening.  And, a lot is happening!  We have introduced new programs and reintroduced some old ones in hopes of offering you, our membership, a more engaging Historical Society.  We have spruced up the building, and made several in house updates to better serve the community as well.  Many more exciting things are in the works.  It isn’t often in historical fields that one can get this excited about the future, but the future, and the legacy of Troup County Historical Society is bright! — Shannon Gavin Johnson

Monuments and Memorials: Who, When, Where

The current exhibit in the CharterFoundation Rotating Gallery  incorporates recent photographs of Troup County places that are named to honor individuals.    The greatest concentration of memorials in Troup County is found at LaGrange College.  As at most institutions, especially academic ones, buildings and other spaces bear the names of people who have been important in the life of the institution.   The oldest building at LaGrange College, Smith Hall, built in 1860, was not named until 1907.  The name, originally Oreon Smith Building, honored the memory of Oreon Mary Summerfield Mann Smith, Professor and Principal of the College Academy from 1885 until her death in 1907.  Prior to being named for Mrs. Smith, the building was known as “College Home.”  It was the first named building at the institution, although the original building, erected in 1831, at 406 Broad Street was often referred to as the Stanley Building, or Old Academy, before it burned in 1863.  The most recent memorial at LaGrange College, the Ida Callaway Hudson Lab Sciences Building, was dedicated in 2017.   The name honors the memory of one of the college, and community’s, greatest promoters and benefactors, Ida C. Hudson.  Her husband, the late Dr. Charles D. Hudson, a major force behind the development and growth of LaGrange and Troup County, as well as the college, for over five decades, was honored twice with place names at the college during his life.  The natatorium is named for him and a park on campus is dedicated to him.  Coincidentally, the oldest and the newest buildings on campus were named to honor women, but also women whose husbands served the college as president!  Charles Hudson was Acting President 1979-1980, and Rufus Wright Smith, was President from 1885 until his death in 1915.   There are rooms inside many of these buildings, though not seen by the public at large, that are named for people.  Some of them are given in the captions about that building.  Scholarships are also an excellent and prolific mode of memorial at a college, but these have not been listed as this exhibit limits itself to physical monuments and memorials.   

The most common memorials in any community are tombstones, street names, churches, and commercial buildings but these are not covered in this exhibit, as they are sufficient in number to constitute separate exhibits.  Plans are in progress for future exhibits about the first three categories, tentatively titled Cemeteries: Art Galleries of Memory; Church Windows and Memorials; and Name that Street.  Most commercial buildings that bear a name are related to the company they are home to or the person or people who built them, although there are some exceptions.  The Georgia Building, on Broome Street, was named to honor Georgia Hammett Mallory.

Three of the actual monuments in the exhibit are part of the display.  There are two marble plaques that honored Troup Countians who gave their lives in both World War I and the War Between the States.  These once graced public spaces, but have been replaced over time and found their way into the collections of the Troup County Archives.  Both were recently made part of the permanent gallery of Legacy Museum, but were moved into this exhibit.   Other war memorials are included.  LaGrange Memorial Library (a memorial to World War I) and the war memorials at Veterans Memorial Park in LaGrange, and the one in Calvin Hipp Park (itself a memorial mentioned in the exhibit) in Hogansville are included as are the Confederate Monuments in West Point and LaGrange. The third monument on display is the original metal dedicatory marker honoring Horace King.  It was once on a post at Horace King Bridge on King Street, but was knocked down by a car and replaced.  The original thus found its way into our collections.  Several bridges are included in the exhibit, in addition to King bridge, the Barrow Bridge in West Point and the Milam Bridge on Roanoke Road are featured.  — Clark Johnson

LaFayette in LaGrange: A Revolutionary Banquet

Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de LaFayette, was born on September 6, 1757 in Chavaniac, Auvergne, France.  An aristocrat orphaned by the age of 12, he moved to Paris where he was educated.  After marrying the young Adrienne De Noailles, he was given a commission as a lieutenant at the request of his father-in-law.

     When word began to arrive in mainland Europe that England’s North American colonies were in rebellion, LaFayette became increasingly interested in the cause.  Against the wishes of his family and the King, LaFayette set sail for America in 1777 in a boat he had chartered at personal expense, hoping to join George Washington’s army.  The party landed near Charleston, South Carolina, and traveled overland to Philadelphia, where Congress—prompted no doubt by LaFayette’s insistence on serving without pay—granted the nineteen-year-old LaFayette the commission of Major General in the Continental Army of the United States.

     LaFayette’s early military successes, while minor, helped garner popular support for the American cause in France, who formally entered into an alliance with America in 1778.  When a French Expeditionary Force arrived under General Rochambeau, and marched with Washington’s army to the decisive battle at Yorktown, Virginia, LaFayette was already waiting for them, having cornered the English at what wo

uld be the site of their surrender.

     LaFayette returned to France “The Hero of Two Worlds,” and became centrally involved in efforts to bring a greater degree of democracy to the French government.  As a supporter of a constitutional monarchy, he fell out of favor with both royalists and radicals, and was imprisoned abroad for several years.   His wife and daughters voluntarily imprisoned themselves with him, while his son George-Washington LaFayette lived at the home of his namesake in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Eventually the family was allowed to return to France by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. 

     LaFayette traveled back to America one final time in 1824-25 at the invitation of his old friend and current President of the United States, James Monroe.  On this voyage, he visited all 24 states in the union, and was greeted with much pomp and ceremony at each stop of his tour.  In March 1825, Governor George Michael Troup welcomed the Marquis de LaFayette to Savannah, saying: "For you the scenes which are to come will be comparatively tranquil; the waters no longer turbulent but placid. No more dread of dungeons; no more fear of tyrants for you. Oh, sir, what consolation it must be to one who has passed through seas of trouble to know that between you and them are the countless bayonets which guard the blessings of freedom! Welcome, General!”

 

     Just weeks before LaFayette’s arrival in Georgia, Governor Troup had been instrumental in negotiating a treaty between the Creek Nation and the United States for the cession of territory that would eventually form West Georgia. It was because of his “Grand Tour” that many municipalities, including LaGrange, were named in honor of LaFayette.  During his travels through what is now West-Central Georgia, LaFayette is said to have stated the land reminded him of his home, Château de la Grange-Bléneau.  The words about the tranquil lands of Troup County were the inspiration for Colonel Julius C. Alford to suggest the home of LaFayette as a name for the seat of the new county, forever making a connection with the Marquis.

      The great contributions of LaFayette that inspired so many communities across the fledgling nation also inspired the theme of this year’s Annual Banquet. It promises to be a treat with the inclusion of Benjamin Goldman’s portrayal of Le Marquis de LaFayette.  Mr. Goldman has performed at Valley Forge and Independence National Historical Parks in Pennsylvania, for Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia, and for President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the White House, among many other venues and audiences.  In addition, LaGrange’s own Annie Greene will present a specially commissioned yarn-art painting of LaFayette Square. 

 

      The banquet is August 4 at Del’avant. Dinner will begin at 7:00 in the evening.  Limited seating is available and all proceeds go to benefit Legacy Museum.  For more information, sponsorships or tickets, please contact the Historical Society at (706)884-1828.  — Benjamin Goldman and Shannon Gavin Johnson

Above left is Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de LaFayette at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781, engraved by Noel Le Mire, France.  Above right is Benjamin Goldman as Marquis de LaFayette, Mount Vernon, by Al Pochek, courtesy Benjamin Goldman. 

History in the Ground: Troup Factory Before the Mills

Patrick Severts and his wife Nancy Williams are members and volunteers of the Historical Society.  Severts, an archaeologist, has been conducting digs on their family property which is the site of Troup Factory. 

For many, the words Troup Factory bring up images of a historic mill located along the shore of Flat Shoals Creek in southern Troup County, Georgia. For archaeologists this was the main concentration of the site for the past ten years.  It was when a group of dedicated student volunteers were excavating test pits to determine the outer limits of the historic complex did they discover a previously unknown prehistoric occupation.  This occupation first manifested as a single sherd (native made ceramic fragment) and a few quartz flakes, later a small excavation unit revealed that the site was well stratified and intact.  Prehistoric sites are common place here in Troup County and many spend their days walking plowed fields on the hunt for the elusive complete projectile point.  Because of farming practices in the 1800’s, these relics of the past are brought to the surface or soils eroded away to expose the layer of soil that was once occupied.   Most sites of this nature have little information other than the time frame of occupation based on artifact type.  To find a site like the one on the grounds of a historic mill is unusual and allows archaeologists to see a window into time from the historic occupation 1827-1906 through to the early archaic 9500 B.P.  Artifacts are found in the same location that they were deposited.  This allows the archaeologist to sample the soils at these identified levels for other clues.  

     To the archaeologist, the clues provide a glimpse into lives of those that were present at the site before the European settlement.  Artifacts, such as ceramics, projectile points, charcoal and ground stone, when found in situ and can be tested for remnant pollen, food debris, blood remains and provide carbon for C14 dates.  One of the most common finds in the project area are nutting stones.  These are typically flat rocks with a small depression on them that is 1-2 inches wide.  This depression is speculated to have held the hickory nuts, or acorns, in place so they could be cracked and processed. Other stones, such as shallow basin ground stone, would be used to further process these food items. The grinding stones are some of the most important artifacts since they can be chemically analyzed for the presence of plant remains.

    With the aid of students  from Kennesaw State University and volunteers, the continued story of the Troup Factory and those who came before is beginning to come together.  This year was a first in that one of the students, Gregory Smart, received a small grant of $300.00 to have the ground stones analyzed.  This is a good start but not sufficient to tell the whole story of these important artifacts.  Twice a year we sponsor open digs for students and volunteers to come and experience this site.  It has been a big success and has had lots of coverage in the news.  We will be planning another dig in the early fall of this year.  The volunteers are always up to something here at the mill site so don’t hesitate to ask for a private tour. Our student volunteers work mostly on the weekends and have mostly camped in the past so if you feel like sponsoring one or two, your sponsorship would be welcomed. — Nancy Williams and Patrick Severts    

 

 

Related Holdings: 

Troup County Archives holds manuscripts and artifacts that have been donated related to Troup Factory and the Mills that followed.  Below is a brief excerpt from Treasures of Troup County, by Glenda Major and Clark Johnson, on the history of Troup Factory.

The first textile mill in Troup County was Robertson Woolen Mill, built in 1847 by Robert Robertson, originally from Scotland… The success of this industry led Robertson, Leslie and Company to convert a gristmill on Flat Shoals Creek into a cotton mill in 1847.  Troup Factory produced high quality cloth and yarns for more than half a century.  The village established around it was second in size only to the county seat.   When the factory closed in 1898, its equipment and buildings were purchased by Lemuel M. Park and his father-in-law, Judge Benjamin H. Bigham.  They moved the operation to Greenville Street in LaGrange and continued producing yarn for several years as Park Mills.

 

Above left, Travis Carey carefully screens for artifacts. Photograph courtesy of  Patrick Severts. Above right, Greg Smart measures the depth of his level.  Photograph courtesy of  Patrick Severts. Finally, the letter at left is Letter written on Park Mills, formerly Troup Factory, stationery, dated May 22, 1901. Troup Factory Manuscript Collection, donation of Carleton Jones, accession # MS.2015.03.

Digitizing Archival Records: Why Don’t You Just Scan It?

Digitization - when the term comes to mind, the usual image is of a modern computer.  Perhaps a large server farm is imagined.  We use USB drives and cloud storage today, but just a mere half-century ago in 1967, the first floppy disk drive was created.  Many can remember when that floppy disk was cutting edge technology.   Or perhaps, you remember enjoying vacation photographs on a slide projector.  Do you own a slide projector?  Or an eight-track tape?  (If you do, please call the Archives; we are in need.)  Those items that were cutting-edge not so long ago, are not only outdated, they are obsolete. Yet many of our most valuable records were once stored in these formats.  

An archivist can guarantee a piece of paper in good condition, with proper care, for a century or more.  Conversely, at the rapid pace in which technology is changing, one may be unable to guarantee a full decade of storage for a digitally stored photograph.  In the 1970s and 1980s, digital copies of such records as deeds and dispositions were being stored on those very floppy drives that are now so obsolete that it is difficult to locate a machine capable of retrieving the data.  Technology is changing so rapidly that in order to preserve past digital efforts, archivists must constantly work to convert old digital storage formats to the most current file formats. Not only does this diminish the original record as each time a file is transferred, some data is lost, but it also strains archivists and preservationist in ways a piece of paper does not.

So, does digitization really matter? If we are going to lose file formats over time, should we even bother? Absolutely! Digitization provides faster and easier access.  After all, the job of archivists is to increase access to documents which are vital to the public interest.  Archivists have long searched for ways to best protect the records; even 10th century manuscripts were hand-copied by monks to protect them.  By digitizing our holdings, original documents are handled less which preserves them longer.  Digitization, however, does not eliminate the need for original documents to be kept.  A phrase used frequently among archives is LOCKSS or Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.  With every duplicated copy of an original record, that record becomes safer and will last longer.  If, for example, a record is damaged due to overuse, or perhaps an entire archives is flooded and records are destroyed, but a copy of those records was created and stored off-site, the information is still secure.  For our most valuable records, we hope to achieve three copies: one original, one digital copy stored on site, one microfilm copy stored off site.

     While digital records provide protection, it has its downsides.  Digitization presents additional need for security, privacy, and access restrictions for sensitive documents and information. Digitization also creates a need for systems and data to be able to navigate the large amounts of documents and information within the archival and record holdings.  The fiscal ramifications of digitization must also be carefully considered.  Digital storage of documents can be just as costly as physical storage of records, so careful selection of what is to be digitized is necessary.  

     There are many aspects that require careful consideration in archival storage.  For many, who do not deal with records regularly, it is difficult to understand why we don’t immediately put everything on a computer or the internet.  So, perhaps a good way to explain is to suggest you imagine having just inherited a great sum of money, but the way to access that inheritance is by retrieving files stored on an eight-inch floppy diskette.  How easily would you be able to access that information?

— Alexander O. Hughes and Shannon Gavin Johnson

In Review

A record of some of our most recent events.  Join us next time!

 

A LUNCH & LEARN on the topic of Athos Menaboni’s paintings in our collections, was presented by amateur art-historian and Menaboni enthusiast, D. Russell Clayton, in March.

 

In March, we hosted a BEHIND THE ROPES tour of Legacy Museum.  County Historian, Clark Johnson, presented a more in depth look into the lives of the people behind the featured artifacts.

 

 

One of our walking tours of Historic Downtown LaGrange; this one began in front of  Broad Street Church of Christ.