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Midway's first historian
Liberty lore
Liberty Lore 0722
Rev. James Stacy
The first historian of Midway was the Rev. James L. Stacy. The Southern Historical Association wrote about him in 1895 and reported he was reputed to be the best-educated man in that part of Georgia, Coweta County.
He was pastor of the Newnan Presbyterian Church and had been for 37 years then. He served six more years.
Stacy was born in Flemington in 1830 and died in 1912, and was the son of John W. and Mary Bacon Stacy. His grandfather was John Stacy, a native of Wales, who joined the Puritan colony and came from South Carolina to Georgia and married a Puritan girl. He was clerk of the Midway Church from 1798-1818 and James’ father was clerk from 1824-54.
Of course, James Stacy received his first religious training in the old Midway Church. He had a good, common school education and at the age of 17 he entered Oglethorpe University, near Milledgeville, where he graduated two years later.
He then entered the Theological Seminary at Columbia, S.C., and graduated in three years. Immediately, he entered the ministry and devoted his entire time and energy to it. He was the only Stacy to enter the ministry although the entire family were devote Christians.
He was a stated clerk of the Presbytery and Synod of Georgia for more than 20 years. During his pastorate, he still found time for literary work.
Early in his ministry in 1877, he won the first prize of $200 and a silver, “loving cup” for the best essay on “the Sabbath” in competition of more than 200 contestants. The Rev. Stacy later expanded the essay into a book on the same subject.
Stacy was married three times. He married Jane E. Hawley in 1855 and their children were Eva and James Hawley Stacy. Jane died and he married Mary Jane McIver in 1860. In 1867, he married a widow, Emily Jones Kendrick of Newnan, and their children were Mary Eliza and Thomas Goulding Stacy.
Stacy put years of research into gathering records and correspondence needed to write the history of the Midway Church.
He had everything ready before he began writing the book that has been quoted thousands of times since the publishing around the turn of the century. This book was not only the product of his pen, but the “child of his heart’s love.” At his death, Stacy was working on the history of the Presbyterian Church in Georgia that he left unfinished. He gave instructions to C.I. Stacy to finish this task, which he did.
The Savannah Evening Press reported that on April 26, 1940, at the Memorial Day exercises at Midway Church, a marble tablet was dedicated to the memory and accomplishments of Stacy.
Dr. C. I. Stacy spoke about the life of the minister.
“Dr. Stacy was a beloved and faithful pastor, a scholarly and eloquent preacher and a successful author...
“He traveled much and made many observations. He told me, ‘Carl, when you get on the train, count your bundles. You may not remember each item but if you count them and get on with four you can count four when you get off! When you get on a train, find you a seat in the middle of the car. It will ride easier than at the end over the wheels. And when the train stops for dinner, get a seat in the middle of the table so you can reach the food both ways.’
“He had a dread of appearing old. When he was 50 years old he got a little notebook and when he saw anybody doing something that indicated they were growing old, he made a note of it and said to himself, ‘Now, Stacy, don’t you do that!’
“When he was 70, he began studying the Syriac language, and at 75 he was reviewing his French so he read it more readily. He could then read easily in seven different languages.
“He was a very observant student of nature. He kept a globe of gold fish on his desk and spent many hours carefully observing their habits...
“One of his cherished traits was to do everything on time. For many years, not only his home and church, but the city clock and practically the whole town were regulated by his watch. He had personally selected and paid $250 for it in Geneva, Switzerland.
“I have been present when fellow-citizens came to have him settle an argument about the correctness of their watches and his decision was always final.
“Like all Stacys, he had a talent for mechanics and in each of us, this takes varied forms. Uncle Jim, as we lovingly called him had a peculiar talent of making improvements on the work of others...
“When electric lights were installed in his home, he made and ingenious system of cords running over pulleys in the attic so that lights could be raised or lowered as needed.
“So we ask, “How shall we remember this man of so many and so varied accomplishments?
“As the eloquent preacher? The beloved pastor? The scholarly author? The faithful presbyter? The mechanical genius?”
“No, not for any or all of these, important as each item is. Of him it can be truly said, He being dead, yet speaketh. And the voice that we hear speaks this message, the summing up of his long and useful life: Remember me as the servant of Jesus Christ and His Church.”
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