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New history book of Dawson County released
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Dawson History Book

After nearly two years of work, the Dawson County Historical and Genealogical Society last week released Dawson County, Georgia, A History.

This book is for everyone and especially for those children who are unborn, Historical Society Volunteer Faye Bearden-Bruce said.

Bruce, Pat Densmore-Floyd and Peggy Taylor-Hulsey, all graduates of Dawson County schools, have documented the countys history using official court records, pictures, personal letters and historical documents.

The book begins with a map showing the Cherokee Indian Territory and ends with a list of school superintendents. In between is census data from 1860 that makes clear farming was the primary occupation of Dawson residents. There also is a list of slave owners; gold-mining activities; news of a railroad coming through town; the first telephone; an inventory of a black cemetery whose church was burned in 1912; pictures of historic homes, churches and businesses; and a chapter on moonshine and racing.

In 1988, Dawson County was awarded a grant from Gov. Joe Frank Harris discretionary fund for $10,000 for a project involving the history of Dawson County.

I feel honored to have worked with the historical society in a small way through administering the grant the County received for this very meaningful account of Dawson Countys rich heritage, County Manager Cindy Campbell said. The book preserves our history for future generations. I commend the Dawson County Historical Society ladies for their determination and a job well done!

At Thursdays work session, a complimentary copy of the book was presented to Commissioners Julie Nix, Sharon Fausett, Jimmy Hamby, James Swafford, and Commissioner Chairman Mike Berg.

Without the hard work and dedication of the ladies at the historical society, our history could be distorted with no document to accurately respond, Berg said. When I first became chairman, I went into the old bank vault in the historic courthouse, and water had damaged deed records that could not be replaced. The historical society took care of that. Pick up a copy of this important book. You could be living next to a historic place and never realize it!

For example, did you know in 1940 Dawson County had a convict camp located halfway up Johntown Mountain near Amicalola Falls?

The camp maintained more than 150 prisoners, according to an article and picture in the book.

Another little known fact is that there once was a lake with a dock at the top of Amicalola Falls.

The park superintendent had to row a boat out in the lake to open the safety valve so the water would not overflow the dam, the book says. This happened each time there was a heavy rain. The tragic loss of life caused by the dam break at Toccoa Falls on Nov. 6, 1977, led to the draining of a number of lakes in North Georgia, including Amicalola Lake.

Works by Rebekah Slaton-Wilson and James Roosevelt Tatum are used extensively in the book.

Slaton-Wilson was born in 1925 and graduated from Dawson County High School and North Georgia College. She taught history in Dawson and Forsyth counties until her retirement. She was honored in 1982 by Gov. George Busbee, for her efforts in the preservation of the history and heritage of Dawson County and the state of Georgia, according to the book.

Tatum wrote articles about the history of Dawson County for the Dawson County Advertiser for 15 years starting in 1973.

These articles as well as the Tatum book have proved very useful in collecting material for this book, Historical Society Volunteer Peggy Hulsey said.

Published by Farris Yawn at YawnPublishing.com, the book is available for purchase at the Dawson County Library and the Historical Society for $38.

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