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Butts County Historical Society: History in the Making

Photo by Rebecca Long

Photo by Rebecca Long

By Diane Glidewell

dglidewell@jacksonprogress-argus.com

The name "Historical Society" brings to mind images of dusty antiques, yellowed pages in ancient books, and dimly lit vaults of archives. That is far from the reality of the activities of the Butts County Historical Society (BCHS). Goals of the BCHS are to preserve the county's past but also to incorporate the achievements, lessons, and personalities of the past in the fabric of the present and the future. Its mission is to promote tourism opportunities in Butts County.

The BCHS meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. Meetings are held at the Daughtry Foundation Building on Mulberry Street, and they include a business session followed by a speaker and refreshments. The most recent meeting on March 25 found all available seats in the Daughtry Building filled with a multigenerational group representative of many aspects of the Butts County populace.

The speaker for the evening was Truett Goodwin, a former Georgia Department of Corrections employee who moved to Monroe County in 1985 to open the Training Center there. Goodwin's hobby, and his passion, is the United States Civil War. With the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States beginning next year, the BCHS is interested in the many travelers who will want to visit sites important in the conflict and learn more of its history.

Goodwin spoke of the Civil War in Butts County, particularly General Sherman's March to Savannah in 1864 and its devastation of the rural breadbasket of the Confederacy between Atlanta and Savannah, including Butts County. Mr. Goodwin spoke from his own expertise and also read passages from several published works, including diaries of the era.

He displayed a replica of a Civil War rifle equipped with a long bayonet. Goodwin explained the gun was accurate at 1,000 feet and the menacing-looking bayonet was primarily a psychological weapon. It was used more frequently as a candle holder or a spit for cooking meat over the fire than as a weapon in battle. Less than 200 bayonet wounds were documented in the Civil War.

Mr. Goodwin discussed the impact of weather on the soldiers, and he talked specifically about several of the engagements in Butts County and the surrounding area. He mentioned the band of convalescents and young boys that attacked the Union forces at Jackson three times before disbanding and managing to get away, and Wiley Gorham who managed to save many court records before the Butts County Courthouse was set fire.

Back to the present, the BCHS heard an update of renovations at the Indian Springs Hotel/Museum, including restrooms and the catering kitchen, which should be complete by May 15. American Woodmark has been very generous with donation of cabinets, and countertops, a refrigerator, and sink have also been donated. There will be a Docents Training on May 13 at 7 p.m. at the Hotel for anyone who would like to volunteer as a tour guide; anyone who is available even one weekend between May and September is encouraged to come.

Ed Hoard will be acting as an Ambassador at the Village at Indian Springs for eight weekends during April, May and June. He will circulate among visitors, talking of the days when his family operated an amusement park where the Village is now and generally welcoming people.

The new Friends of Indian Springs State Park group has arranged five events for the second and fourth Saturdays in April through June. These events will be for families or interested individuals, will start at the Stone Pavilion, will last about two hours each, and will focus on nature, including birds, plant and flower identification, a survival walk, and a scavenger hunt. There will be no charge other than the State Park $5 per vehicle fee. There is also a two-day Junior Ranger program planned for children in June. Friends of Indian Springs meets on the third Tuesday of each month and welcomes new members.

Generations Gallery at the Village at Indian Springs has a calendar filled with classes, workshops, and events both at the Gallery and the Butts County Senior Center. There is a new stained glass work depicting Chief William McIntosh now hanging in the Gallery. The third annual Writers Conference will bring a talented group of writers, some well-known and others currently unknown, to the Village at Indian Springs April 23-25.

Frankie Willis, BCHS president, reviewed ideas for new committees and evaluated the existing committees and whether some ideas should be combined. She encouraged members to sign up for and become involved in the committees which reflected their interests. She also challenged everyone to bring in new members. Dues have been lowered to $25 for a family and $15 for an individual.

The meeting ended with a chance to meet other members of the BCHS and exchange ideas about the speaker, upcoming plans for the 150th Civll War anniversary, and other future plans over punch and hors d'oeuvres catered by Jenny McGinnis and provided by Andi Kulp and Lillian Colwell.