Creating the county history

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In 1971 county native, Bobby Kerlin, and I decided it was important to create a county historical society. Since I was a Yankee who had only lived in Fayette County for five years, it was most appropriate for Bobby to serve as its first president.

One of our early members was the late attorney, Tom Smith, who was kind enough to do all the paperwork necessary for the state to declare us a corporation.

We first met in each other’s living rooms and then in the event room at the local bank.

By 1977 we felt the need to compile a history of the county, which began way back in 1821.

None had ever been written and we felt it was time.

I divvied up the county into its various communities, i.e. Tyrone, Woolsey, Brooks, etc. I got a volunteer in each community to compile its history as best they could. Bobby and the second president, John Lynch, took the War Between The States and those who served in the Confederate Army, I took the Native American history here, the county at large and the city of Fayetteville.

I asked our dear friend, Atlanta historian, Franklin Garrett, to write the foreword. A confession here – when typing it for printing, I spelled it foreward, an error he tactfully pointed out to me when I gave him his copy. I have never gotten over that error and still cringe when I think of it.

Most of us had jobs to go to weekdays, and spent weekends visiting folks and typing away. A couple of us had a key to the (old) courthouse and had no trouble spending hours perusing old volumes.

One of our members worked for a major printing company and in October we began sending in our research items and photos. We wanted it printed by the first of December so they could be sold for Christmas gifts. We bought 1,000 hardcover books at $11 each and five of us personally signed the loan agreement needed to pay the printer at the Fayette State Bank. Fortunately, the president was a cousin of mine by marriage, Floy Farr.

I also want to mention that one precious contributor, Sarah Harp Minter, did not have a typewriter and submitted the community of Inman handwritten on notebook paper and pinned together in the corner with a big safety pin. I made sure that remained in our files.

The printed copies arrived the first of December, we sold them for $19 each and paid our loan off by Dec. 20. Cousin Floy paid the interest with his own funds.

The history was reprinted three times and the last ones had to be sold at $40 each. Years later one was sold on Ebay at $140 with the excuse they had to ask that much because Carolyn Cary had autographed it. When I told this to my children, they replied “gee, I wonder how much we could get for ours.” Such loyalty.

We put two copies in each of the high schools at that time and two copies in each library and of course, a reference copy at the historical society. No, it’s not a book you want to sit and read from page one through to page 751. But it does contain 170 years of county history you won’t find any where else.

And yes, I watched the Atlanta Braves game and ceremonies Sunday, and yes, I cried.