Just one year to go before a couple of key anniversaries get underway. 2011 marks the bicentennial of Madison County, Georgia, and the sesquicentennial of the Confederate States of America. Committees are being formed and plans developed to celebrate these anniversaries.
Madison County was created by the Georgia legislature on Dec. 5, 1811, from portions of Clarke, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Franklin and Jackson counties. The Henry Strickland home was used as the first courthouse. The first formal meeting of the new county government took place in January 1812.
In 1773, the Cherokee Indians ceded to the Colonial Government of Georgia a large tract of land, whose western border included what is now Madison County. Early settlers were from Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas. The oldest known settlement was at Paoli, a site that had previously been a Cherokee village. They were mostly farmers who raised cattle, pigs and vegetables.
The Confederate States of America was organized in Birmingham, Alabama, when a provincial congress met on February 4, 1811. Presiding was Athens lawyer and politician Howell Cobb. The move was made for several reasons, including a dispute over exporting excess slaves into the western territories, and the punishing Morrell Excise Tax that fell heaviest on cotton producers in the South and mostly benefited Northern business interest.
Cobb was a five-term member of the United States House of Representatives and Speaker of the House from 1849 to 1851. He also served as a Secretary of Treasury under President James Buchanan (1857–1860) and the 40th Governor of Georgia (1851–1853).
In Madison County, the Heritage Foundation and commissioners office are working on plans and gathering information for use in the celebration. They are interested in documents, pictures and stories about the history of Madison County. They are working with the county library on a project to identify and digitize as many old pictures as possible. They are especially interested in information on old schools, mills and other sites in the county.
If you have any material you think may be useful please contact the Library, Heritage Foundation or commissioners office.
The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups are heading the Confederate sesquicentennial in our state. You can find a web site dedicated to this anniversary at http://150wbts.org. Again, the SCV and other southern heritage organizations are looking for pictures, letters, diaries and other artifacts of that era. If you have any material that might be useful, you are urged to come to the next meeting of the Madison County Greys on Monday night, Feb. 22, at 7:30 in the community room of First Madison Bank in Colbert, or contact Commander Bill Sewell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These celebrations are an opportunity to learn more about our county, state and region’s history and culture. I urge you to take an active part in the festivals over the next couple of years.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.