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Help write Liberty's history

POSTED: October 23, 2009 9:46 a.m.
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The Bacon home in Willie, a town the state pronounced dead after Fort Stewart was established in 1940.

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Do you have a story to tell about life in Liberty County years ago? Perhaps you know someone who has lived here for ages and remembers when Fort Stewart was not here. There are a few citizens in Liberty County who can recall that era, but time is running out. We must get their stories while we can.
Cindye Jones, director of the Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is planning a project called “Living Legends Oral History.” She wants to talk to all the citizens in Liberty County who are willing to tell their stories of life long ago. Jones will record the storytellers’ answers to a set of questions and let them add anything else they think is interesting. She may also videotape it.
Later, the collected answers and stories will be put together in a book or small pamphlets. I have given her the names of many people I know have a lot to say about the history of our county. Everyone has a story to tell, whether they realize it or not. It might not be easy to write a story, but it can be spoken.
Since Cindye is not from Georgia, she has never heard of the Foxfire books. These books — 12 were published in 2004 — are a series of anthologies from Foxfire magazine, which was founded in 1966 by Eliot Wigginton, a Rabun County high school teacher. The series is a collection of interviews Wigginton had his students conduct for a living history project when he taught in the Appalachian Mountains.
The students went to the homes of older people and recorded their answers to questions, took photos and discussed skills needed to survive in the “old days.”
Subjects discussed by students and residents included basket weaving, moonshining, midwifery, butter churning, beekeeping, preserving foods, snake handling and many others. Millions of these books have been sold.
The Works Progress Administration provided work for many people between 1936 and 1940. Some of the workers interviewed Americans and compiled their stories. More than 3,000 life histories were recorded. These can be found in The American Memory: American Life Histories.
The Federal Writers Project had workers interview older people who had been slaves or children of slaves. Some of these people were 100 or older, but their memories of the slave days were very vivid. This was called the WPS Slave Narratives Project. If it had not been for the project, their stories would never have been told.
In 1999, I printed Country Preserves, a book about growing up in the South. It’s a collection of articles I wrote over the years about picking tobacco, working turpentine, milking cows, the rolling store, cooking on the wood stove, the Goat Man, getting electricity, hog killing day, living in a real log cabin and other subjects I experienced first-hand. I did this to preserve the old ways of growing up “poor” so my children and grandchildren will understand their ancestors’ history.
So, tell us if you or someone you know has some historical knowledge of Liberty County that we need to preserve. We want to connect with everyday people who have fascinating stories.
Call for an interview or write down your memories. The grammar doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be written again. If the guts of a story are there, the feathers can always be added later. Let’s make Cindye’s Living Legend Oral History project a great success. There is a lot of history in our county and we can’t afford to lose it.

 

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