As a young district attorney in Dawson County, Nathan Deal was a little worried he may have to sleep on the pews in the old historic courthouse.
As part of the second annual Historic Courthouse Celebration this Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., many residents will have a chance to relive Dawson Countys past or to learn it. Admission is free and the event is hosted by the Dawson County Historical and Genealogical Society.
As a young district attorney working with Jeff Wayne, who was then the longest serving district attorney in our circuit, we tried cases in that old courthouse, Gov. Deal said during a bill signing ceremony at the new courthouse last week. There was no air conditioning and very little heating if we had any.
Deal recalled one particularly cold evening.
I remember on one occasion . . . we were trying a case and it started snowing. I had just resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to sleep on one those of those old pews. I have great memories of being an attorney (in Dawsonville).
Peggy Hulsey, president and treasurer of the Historical Society, said one new item available for viewing this year is a hand-stitched quilt.
It is one of the most beautiful depictions of Dawson County scenery Ive ever seen, she said.
Each 12-inch square in the quilt tells a story of life in Dawson County from the old days.
One scene is a revenuer chasing a moonshiner; another shows a moonshine still; one shows a race car, and one person stitched the old covered bridge that once stood on Amicalola Road across the Etowah River until it burned sometime in the 1980s, Hulsey said.
The quilt is on loan from the daughter of Edna Gazaway, Linda Youngman. Gazaway passed away March 16, 2013.
Dawson County resident Helen Taylor has worked to identify the ladies who lovingly stitched together the history of the area. All are members of the Dawson County Womans Club.
Also on display again this year is a rare book titled, Tax Digest and Ex-Confederate Soldiers, Dawson County, 1906, which was found by Justin Power, Dawson County Clerk of Courts.
The book lists the names of Dawson County residents who served during our nations Civil War, 1861 - 65. Written by hand in carefully crafted script are names, regiments, dates of enlistment and discharge, and where the soldiers were serving at the time of discharge. Several names are synonymous with Dawson County: Hamby, Hulsey, Findley, Mincey, McClure, Grogan and others.
Any lover of history will also enjoy the societys collection of guns used during the Civil War, original Indian pottery unearthed in Dawson County, and a large collection of photographs of historic schools and churches. There are also detailed maps of all county cemeteries and the original land lots allocated when the county was formed in 1857.
Additional artifacts include photographs of previous Dawson County sheriffs. For example, Sheriff George J. Reese served from 1881-84 and was the first sheriff to serve in the new brick Dawson County jail, which was completed in 1881. Prior to the new jails construction, . . . there had been a log jail, but a prisoner tried to get out by setting the jail on fire and got caught in his own trap, according to Dawson County, Georgia Heritage Book, 1857-1996. There wasnt a jail for years due to the Civil War, and the prisoners had to be taken to either Lumpkin or Forsyth counties.
Other past sheriffs include Will Orr, who was Raymond Parks grandfather; Randy Chester, Ford Banister, Toy Jenkins, Rufus Pete Talley, William Glen Wallace, A.L. Roper, Charles Crawford, William Wheeler Hill and Victor M. Harben. Deputy Pirkle served from 1912 to 1916.
The historic courthouse was built prior to the Civil War.
It is very important for us to remember our roots, Hulsey said.
The historic courthouse is located at 1 Courthouse Square, downtown Dawsonville.