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History connects us

By Dan Pool, Editor

            As I have written before in this space, I serve as the secretary of the Pickens Historical Society. Among our activities is a speaker series at Pendley Creek Brewing where we hosted Roy Dobbs who discussed the history of Ludville last Thursday.

            It was a good talk. The turnout was solid but not overflowing. Myself and the historical society president Bill Cagle talked later about how it was a little disappointing that more of the new residents of west Pickens didn’t come to learn local lore.

            Cagle said in an e-mail, “I am surprised and somewhat disappointed the Pickens Historical Society has not been able to attract more members/volunteers to help with the jail and it seems we have a lower turnout when we have a local community member speak on a local subject. I wish I knew the answer to what it would take to get a few more people involved not only with Pickens Historical but other volunteer groups as well.”

            Of course, all of us at the historical society have remarked how many long-time residents will tour our Old Jail for the first time and how many say they have never been inside. That’s a shame. It’s nicely restored and gives a ton of interesting tidbits about the county.

            I couldn’t help thinking the day after Dobbs’ talk, is there any value someone would gain knowing how Ludville was established or that the jail was built with a gallows, but it was never used?

            Is there any value knowing there was a fort in the northern part of the county where federal troops rounded up Cherokee inhabitants before they forced them on the Trail of Tears?

            Or that an Irishman traveling on a stagecoach spotted the marble deposits and set the course for the industry that we are most well known for?

            Commissioner Josh Tatum has been asking the county to design/install signs identifying the small communities or “hamlets” as Ludville was once considered. He got the idea after someone asked where Ludville was and felt people needed to know where Marble Hill, Hinton and Yellow Creek are, plus places like Blaine and Hill City. All these old names and tidbits of history are interesting. Cagle remarked how many people are “amazed” when he talks about the area’s colorful past. So we know people enjoy hearing it, but it’s harder to say why it’s important.

            Chris Feldt, another historical society board member and author of a recent history (see review on Page 10A) said Pickens is a wonderful place to study the past as so much of it is still right here. “Unlike the concrete jungles of Atlanta, most of our land (for now) is mostly untouched. As such, there are far more opportunities to find tangible connections to our ancestors. A former mill site, village, chimney, building, perennial garden bed, rock wall, or fence, all leave something behind to touch. Each of those pieces becomes fact, proven by their location, material, and former uses,” he wrote in an e-mail drawing from the afterward of his book Tragedy and Triumph: A North Georgia History Compendium.

            He adds that by studying the past you can be inspired by the hardships our ancestors overcame and hopefully learn not to repeat their mistakes.

            I may not be able to explain it, but I do see a need for people to have a little knowledge of their community and invite people to start asking a few questions like  what is inside the depot in Tate?

            As stated better than I can, the Hagley Museum in Delaware says, “History builds connection and a sense of identity. The study of history is a chance to connect with other humans in a way that allows us to celebrate our shared humanity while also appreciating cultural differences.”

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