Not long ago, while traveling through the town of Senoia, Ga., I decided to stop at the Senoia Area Historical Society Museum. I had passed by the place many times and had always thought, “Hmmm. I should stop in there sometime,” but I was always in a hurry. This time, even though I didn’t have a great deal of time, I decided to stop anyway. I was glad I did.
Senoia, Ga., is a town with more than a 150-year history. When my family moved to Georgia in 1983, Senoia appeared to be a tiny, sleepy village with, in essence, a Main Street with a few businesses.
Small though Senoia was, the museum revealed a rich history. In the early 1800s, European settlers began moving into Creek Indian territory and established an agricultural community where pecan and peach orchards abounded.
Originally known as Willow Dell, the town’s name was changed in the 1860s to honor Indian Princess Senoya, also spelled “Senoyah,” who was the mother of Chief William McIntosh of the Lower Creek Indians (for whom nearby McIntosh High School in Peachtree City is named). How the spelling of the princess’ name became “Senoia,” I know not.
In the 1800s the Reverend Francis Warren Baggarly, a Methodist minister, whose descendants are still active in the life of the community, bought the land where present day Senoia is located and built the first building, the Rock House, which, among its many uses, served as a Confederate commissary.
Within the walls of the Senoia Museum are reminders of a bygone era: choir benches from the Methodist Church built in 1897; teller windows, an adding machine, and ledgers used at Farmer’s & Merchants bank built in 1874; McIntosh memorabilia and clothing; a 1924 commencement program from the now non-existent Senoia High School which lists 10 graduates; and historical documents, photos (including the original image of Princess Senoia), vintage clothing and much more.
One display of interest to me is dedicated to U.S. Army Sgt Eddie Couch, a Silver Star and Bronze Star recipient, who was killed in Vietnam in 1968.
In 2001, there was some public discussion regarding for whom the new bridge should be named. I penned a column urging the town’s fathers to name the bridge after Sgt. Couch, a bona fide American hero and Senoia resident. Many other area residents expressed the same opinion and Sgt. Eddie Couch Bridge was dedicated in 2001. There, much to my surprise, on the Eddie Couch dedication table, was a copy of my article.
Senoia is a lot less sleepy and tiny these days. Over 20 movies and television programs have been filmed in and around Senoia including “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “The Fighting Temptations,” “Drop Dead Diva,” and a zombie flick currently being filmed.
It’s not unusual to drop in one of the local eateries and see film crews on a break. Main Street now thrives with businesses and restaurants yet the town has maintained that Southern small town look and feeling.
The folks at the Senoia Area Historical Society Museum are there to track all this and include Senoia’s growth and progress for future generations. A non-profit, dependent on fundraising and donations, the museum is located at 6 Couch Street, a home built in 1870, and opened as the museum in 2010, and, for now, is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.
Like many of Senoia’s treasurers, admission is free, although one can join the Historical Society for a mere $15 annual membership. Like the town itself, the museum is definitely worth a visit.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the associate endorser for U. S. military chaplains for his denomination. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]