I am always reminded of that when I go to meetings of the Cherokee County Historical Society. Since I’ve only been in the county for 47 of my 77 years (plus a couple of years before a somewhat brief residence elsewhere), I never take for granted the turns my life has taken since I became a part of the Society.
The organization did not exist when we moved to Canton in 1961, nor four years later when we made Woodstock our home. By 1976 when the entire nation celebrated Bicentennial, historical societies had sprung up coast-to-coast, and Cherokee County Historical Society was born.
I must admit that my love of history up until that time did not include a deep interest of local history, nor did I realize that recent history deserved recognition. The turning point came for me when Glenn and Marjorie Hubbard invited me to go with them to a meeting of the Society.
At that time the group had no permanent headquarters and their meetings were held in different locations, sometimes at the high school (there was only one), or at Pinecrest Restaurant.
There was an annual picnic at some historic site… a farm or a 19th century farmhouse, or a renovated home or business.
The meeting I attended with the Hubbards was at Bascomb Methodist Church, one of the oldest churches in the county, and Glenn’s home church. He could talk endlessly about Bascomb, and I was an avid listener.
The program that night, presented in the setting of the old sanctuary and enhanced by the churchyard cemetery, set me on the path I still trod today.
After that revelation, I was never again complacent about the heritage of this area that had become home to me and my family. I found myself making files (with real manila folders and labels, not in a PC). I became a Packrat of the first order.
Newspaper clippings, printed programs from historical society meetings, lists of everything from society award winners to postmasters and mayors.
The writing bug bit me, and in 1988 I sent my first column to the Tribune. By then I had spent five years taking notes and compiling a written history of the church we attended.
During that research I discovered much of Woodstock’s history since the characters who peopled the church’s history were often involved with city government and with activities, events and businesses that were prominent in the city’s culture throughout the years.
The church history was published in 1987 to coincide with its 150th anniversary, and my files kept growing. Many of the facts uncovered crept into my columns.
By the mid-1990s it was time for another project as Woodstock’s Centennial was on the 1997 horizon. Mayor David Rogers was gung-ho for a big celebration.
The Woodstock Centennial Commission was organized and Felicia Whitmore, a native of Iowa, was commissioned to produce a written history.
My devotion to that cause knew no limits. After a few years the Woodstock Centennial Commission changed its name to Preservation Woodstock Inc., but its members were, and are, careful to keep the initial purpose of the group in mind.
A one-time celebration was simply the springboard to spur us into action, to motivate all residents to appreciate and preserve those structures and locations that figure in our heritage, and to preserve memories and facts relating to places, people, and events.
A mix of projects illustrates the scope of their work. They sponsor storytelling sessions at the Visitors Center, photo and memorabilia exhibits and displays, guided tours, and special reunions and other commemorative events.
They conduct oral history interviews and produce printed materials including a brochure featuring historic homes. They place plaques on structures.
Preservation Woodstock does not, however, operate in a vacuum.
We work closely with the county society and share in the pride that is felt countywide as Cherokee County communities cooperate in the preservation of our treasures.
Get in on the act. Visit the museum in the old courthouse. You’ll be inspired and motivated.
Pick up a copy of the new history book and catch up on what you may have missed.
Sign up for Derby Day on May 5, where you’ll discover why folks at the Rock Barn celebrate the Kentucky Derby … in Georgia. See you there!
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.