Columbia County residents interested in the history of their community have a prime educational opportunity today when the countys Historical Society holds an open house at the newly renovated jail in Appling.
Not only will visitors be able to take a tour through the old jails unlocked and freshly painted doors; theyll also be able to take a trip back in time to the origins of one of Georgias fastest-growing counties.
Thats because the Historical Societys new history book - the first ever published - will be available for sale at the open house. The books author, Dr. Gerald Smith, will be on hand to sign copies of the $25 hardback, as will its illustrator, Bill Blackard.
Its no secret that this book was produced under less-than-ideal conditions. Barbara Seaborn, whose columns appear in The News-Times, first was hired to write the book, financed with grants from the state and from Columbia County. The Society grew impatient with Seaborns pace; Seaborn continues to work on a county history book, but without further assistance from the Society. Meanwhile, the Society hired Smith to produce the work.
That stumbling pedigree aside, the Society deserves credit for perseverance in meeting its obligation to publish the history book. The result is a useful tool for Columbia County residents, whether seasoned old-timers or fresh-off-the-bus immigrants. The best way to see where were going is to first gain knowledge of where weve been; such books provide perspective on our changing political and natural environment.
Columbia Countys growth threatens to blot out its history, as old landscapes disappear beneath new developments, and new residents replace dwindling natives. The county was established 211 years ago, on Dec. 10, 1790. Thus, todays open house from 2:30-5 p.m. will allow old and new residents alike to join the Historical Society in wishing happy birthday to our vibrant community.
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