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ASK THE EXPERTS

It’s more than nostalgia, it’s history

POSTED: April 22, 2009 4:00 a.m.

When I talked with Dr. Herbert Robinson about his upcoming visit to speak for the historical society, he was aware that many of his audience will want to hear some tales about earlier years in Dawson County; after all, he is past 90 and has a prodigious memory.

  

But he added: “I also want to talk about the importance of history.”

  

He is right, of course. Knowing where we have been may help us to understand where we are, and perhaps even help to steer us more correctly into where we are going.

  

I hope that many of Herbert’s friends, old and young, will join us at the historic courthouse on the square at 1 p.m. this Saturday to hear some of his tales and “words of wisdom.” (I can call him by his first name because not only am I just a few years his junior, I’m almost kinfolk - he is my husband’s first cousin.)

  

Those who have bought Charles Findley’s, “Yesterday Once More,” history of old Dawson County schools have also enjoyed the nostalgia of years gone by. I won’t say “good old days” because some of them were not so good as they were being lived; they are often more intriguing in retrospect.

  

Even those, including me, who were not part of that history have found the book to be interesting reading. I know that’s true because he has almost sold out the second printing.

  

Charles is now working on an “official” history of Dawson County. Of course, we have “Dawson County Heritage (1857-1996), which is a great compilation of family histories, but it was not intended as a fully researched county history.

 

There are still a few copies of that book, compiled by the Historical and Genealogical Society, available - as are the society’s cemetery book and pictorial history of the first 100 years. They can be purchased at the library and from the society.

  

In fact, anyone really interested in Dawson County history will enjoy seeing the society’s new location in the historic courthouse, not always open, but volunteers are often there on Tuesdays, reviewing records and putting information in their new computer (purchased, by the way, by proceeds from the sale of the above-described books).

  

In May, there will be another unique opportunity to take a peek into the beginnings of the county’s history.

  

Old-timers recognize the name John Hockenhull as the man whose slaves made the bricks from which the historic courthouse was built who figured in that early history in other ways — and for whom a business building in downtown Dawsonville is named.

  

Olivia Hunnicutt Robinson (no relation to Herbert), a sixth generation north Georgian, has written a historical novel, “Hockenhull Gold,” which she will introduce to Dawson Countians on May 16 at the old courthouse.

  

Although Mrs. Robinson is a recognized and award-winning journalist and writer, this is her first full-length book.

  

She has done extensive research about the Hockenhull family and local Dawson events of the mid-19th century upon which to base her novel.

  

There are some Hockenhull descendants still living in our area and other people who undoubtedly will be excited about this book set in “our town.”

  

Mrs. Robinson will be at the historic courthouse beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16 to talk about her book and to autograph copies for those who wish to buy them.

  

More recent history includes the creation of Lake Sidney Lanier by the building of Buford Dam.

  

Although not originally one of the major intentions, the recreational aspect of that action completely changed the area.

  

One little piece of that recreational aspect is War Hill Park, now being maintained by Dawson County. I took County Manager Kevin Tanner’s recommendation to check out renovations at the park and was very pleased.

  

It is a delightful camping, fishing and picnicking area, and if full pool ever returns, swimming at the “beach” may be renewed. Good job.

  

Even if Dawson County is not your history, if you are now part of Dawson County, hopefully you are interested in some of the opportunities revealed in this column.

  

Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.

 

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