After completing it, I called the Historical Society’s office and asked them if they would mind if I wrote a review of the book for my column today. They gave me their permission. I then called the Rose Creek Library and asked if they had the book in stock. I was told that each of the county libraries have it in stock — as a reference book, not to be checked out. Good. They need to have it available for both the school students and for all local residents who want to learn about their county, be they native or adopted citizens.
Then I called my local school board member, Janet Read, and asked her if she had read it. “Not yet,” she replied, “but I will soon. Where can I find it?” I gave her the phone number of the Historical Society, (770) 345-3288, to find out where it’s available, and I hope that after she reads it she will encourage the county school system to place a copy of it in each school, especially high schools. While Joan and I were in our Woodstock book store, Fox Tales, I asked if they had it. They didn’t, but showed an interest in it. I mention the efforts on my part to promote this book because I believe every family in Cherokee County should have a copy of this book in their home library.
With this book, thanks to untold hours of research and hours of assembling her data, Rebecca Johnston has created a work of art worthy of being acclaimed by all county leaders and residents.
Johnston, in her 223-page book (loaded with pictures) has made the history of Cherokee County come alive. It is not only a history of Cherokee County, but it is a snap shot of where I grew up in Huron County, Mich., beginning in 1927 — and of every other county in America. It is a story of a people endowed with freedom by their Creator and given the opportunity to develop their talents while coming together as a community — blending in with larger communities to create a life for themselves and for their families.
Johnston’s talent to write about sensitive issues is evident in this book. Her ability to tell about the negative and positive stories of the county’s history tells much about the love Johnston has for her county and for her country. She begins her book by telling about how the Cherokee Nation dominated this area before the gold rush that brought immigrants here in search of wealth, and how President Andrew Jackson and the Georgia government were involved in the Trail of Tears epoch.
Nearly all of her stories, including her words and pictures regarding the Civil War era, remind us today of just how vulnerable we all are throughout our lives to the whims of others, especially the ever changing whims of government leaders, including other governments that impacts our lives, both for good and bad. Johnston’s history tells how individual dreams are often challenged and change because of others’ actions.
But it also tells clearly how people can come together and create a community where everyone is welcome and finds ways to care for the less fortunate in the community. But in telling her story, it becomes clear just how important America’s foundational documents have been — coupled with capitalism, individual ingenuity, personal freedom, and a strong belief in God and opportunity.
“Cherokee County, Georgia: A History” by Rebecca Johnston will look nice on your coffee table, but it must be read, re-read, and referenced often by all citizens of Cherokee County. Why? Because it’s our county’s history! Thank you Rebecca!
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.