Calling all members of the Tillery family: Your ancestors are looking for you.
Royce Newsome, with Columbia County's Engineering and Environmental Services Department, says work crews in the Chastain Place subdivision off Chamblin Road had found a couple of graves.
The markers have the names Frances B. Tillery, who died in 1900, and Samuel F. Tillery, who died in 1896.
Neither name showed up in a newspaper archive search for those years.
If the names ring a bell, or if you might be related to the Tillerys, give Newsome a call at (706) 312-7292.
Speaking of graves, the folks from the Lucy Laney Museum of Black History are waiting on the go-ahead to retrieve the headstone of a former Haines Institute teacher found recently in Evans.
The marker for Cora Freeman, who died in 1888, went missing after a fire at the Laney home 24 years ago. It turned up recently behind a home being demolished on Blackstone Camp Road.
Augusta historian Jimmy Carter says they hope to move it to the museum at the former Laney home, or to the Hill Cemetery where Freeman's remains are believed to lie.
Nebraska here first/p>
And while we're wandering through history, it turns out Columbia County had a Nebraska before the state of Nebraska existed.
Historian Charles Lord located the paperwork creating a Nebraska post office in 1854. It was located 12 miles from Augusta, or roughly where Evans is now.
The Nebraska post office, along with many others, was discontinued in 1866, Lord says, coinciding with the end of the Civil War.
Nebraska - the state - was created the following year.
Incidentally, the Republican Party also was created in 1854 in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act that would have let settlers in that area to decide whether to allow slavery.
I'll bet our area's attitude toward slavery at that time had a lot to do with naming a town here Nebraska.
But just as sympathy for slavery was at least part of the motive for the decision to declare solidarity with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, that attitude also likely had something to do with the disappearance of another town.
Starting in 1839, Columbia County also established a post office in a community called Republican, Lord points out.
The post office in Republican closed in 1855 - less than a year after the party was founded. There's little doubt that the Republican Party's opposition to slavery had a lot to do with that name suddenly falling out of favor here.
Party closes tent flaps
The Republican Party has evolved significantly in the 155 years since then, and Columbia County obviously has reversed its anti-Republican views to the point that all partisan-elected officials in the county now serve under the party's banner.
That assumption of party affiliation might get a little trickier this year.
It seems the newly ascended leaders of the county GOP want to require potential candidates to first submit to a grilling by a party committee before allowing them to file as Republicans. The panel would have to agree the candidate is suitably orthodox before letting him or her run.
The only races this would affect this year are the county commission chairmanship and two commission seats. School board races are non-partisan, and legislative candidates file to run in Atlanta.
It is no coincidence that this demand for party obedience comes as Brett McGuire, who announced his run for chairman Thursday, is backed by members of the party leadership who recently ousted the party's chairman.
Those folks are no doubt salivating at the thought of putting county commission Chairman Ron Cross on their hot seat before allowing him to file for re-election.
The "big tent" might be getting smaller.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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