By Ed Brock
J. Luther Murphy Sr. of Jonesboro pores over ancient family records with care.
The yellowed, crumbling papers show that Murphy's great-great-grandfather, Andrew Lynn Huie, lived in Clayton County when the county was first formed in 1858. That qualifies Murphy and his wife Linda for Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc.'s new organization, First Families of Clayton County.
But Luther Murphy didn't know that until Tuesday.
"It's his Christmas present," said Linda Murphy, a member of the FFCC committee. "I've been sneaking around copying his records without him knowing it."
The Murphys and about three others are already joining FFCC and anybody who joins them before Sept. 1, 2004 will become charter members of the organization and will be honored as such by a plaque on the old Clayton County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
"Everybody's seems to be getting really excited about it," said Gwen Bryan, chairwoman of the FFCC committee.
One of the new members doesn't even live here anymore, but Bryan said being a current resident of the county isn't required.
"As long as you had an ancestor who lived here between Nov. 30, 1858 and Dec. 31, 1860," Bryan said.
That includes but is not limited to those people listed on the 1860 Federal Census or those with court records of some kind from the qualifying years.
For the Murphys one piece of proof was a teacher's certificate for Joseph Huie, son of Anthony Lynn Huie. Luther Murphy, 75, said his family lived near what is now Ash Street and Melrose Drive in Forest Park.
Murphy's collection of family documents began when he became an amateur genealogist after retiring in 1983. He knows a lot about the county's first families, and he shares blood with some of them.
"Most of the original families are relatives," Murphy said.
They were also mostly farmers, but they each had a role in building the county. Anthony Lynn Huie was a founder of the Philadelphia Presbyterian Church on Morrow Road.
J.L.H. Waldrip, the great grandfather of fellow FFCC member Joe Moore of Jonesboro, was a merchant who held several offices in the county.
"He was mayor of Jonesboro for several years," Moore said.
Moore is also a long-time member of the historical society.
"I think the FFCC is an interesting thing they're doing," Moore said. "I hope it will be a valuable adjunct to Historical Jonesboro."
Some more proofs of qualification for FFCC include maps and deeds, wills, probate and estate records, vital, court and tax records, church and cemetery records, military records, employment records, newspapers and more.
There is a $35 application fee to join FFCC.
Other committee members along with Bryan and Linda Murphy are Betty Mundy and Lucy Huie. For more information on FFCC call Historical Jonesboro headquarters at (770) 473-0197.