Carl Vinson Would Be Disappointed in the Baldwin County Politicians

Baldwin County’s Twin Lakes Library System is currently facing a drastically reduced budget proposal that would devastate the PINES-associated institution. Considering Milledgeville is the home of Central Georgia Technical College, Georgia Military College, and Georgia College, one would assume that the library’s future would be secure due to the number of learners who make the choice to pursue education in Baldwin County. Additionally, the library is vital in a community where out of 16,330 households, 21.7% do not have a home computer and and 32.2% do not have a broadband internet subscription. The value of the library’s free community services cannot be underestimated in a county where 25.2% of the population lives in poverty.¹

So why, then, does the future of the library hang in the balance? Reading the history of the Twin Lakes Library System it becomes obvious that the library has experienced plenty of uncertainty before. The Twin Lakes Library System’s website states that “On October 10, 2008 the System added its third branch facility, the Floride Allen Library, located in the Wray Housing Facility of the Milledgeville Housing Authority. Sadly, due to the economic downturn the Floride Allen Library was forced to close. Its final day of operation was February 23, 2011.” The closure of this branch directly impacted an economically disadvantaged portion of the community. Even before the Great Recession, securing funding was an issue, hence the involvement of U.S. Congressman Carl Vinson. The library’s website states, “In 1961, Carl Vinson secured the county’s old post office as a new building for the library. For his generosity, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the headquarters of the Baldwin County Library on June 15, 1961 to the Mary Vinson Memorial Library in honor of Congressman Vinson’s late wife.”²

Carl Vinson was a Milledgeville native who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 50 years, served as both Ranking Member and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Special Distinction in 1964, the highest award a president can bestow upon a civilian. He was an advocate for military investment, earning him the nickname “Father of the Two-Ocean Navy” for his role in preparing the United States for military involvement in the Pacific and Atlantic during WWII.

Though Vinson spent most of his life working in Washington, D.C., he never forgot about his Middle Georgia roots. He returned frequently to Baldwin County where he maintained a farm and a house in town. When the library moved to the old post office building in 1961, it was renamed the Mary Vinson Memorial Library for Carl Vinson’s beloved late wife.

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Mary Vinson’s photograph used to paint her portrait. “Mary Vinson Memorial Library (1 of 2).” Series 1, Box 4, Carl Vinson collections, Special Collections, Ina Dillard Russell Library, Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia.

Continue reading “Carl Vinson Would Be Disappointed in the Baldwin County Politicians”

Working Women in Flannery O’Connor’s World

If you come to Milledgeville for any reason, there is a 99.99% chance you will hear someone mention Flannery O’Connor, the involuntary darling of this small Southern town. Despite only returning because of a fatal medical diagnosis and writing critically about small town life in the Deep South (check out “The Partridge Festival”), Flannery remains the biggest name in Milledgeville’s tourism industry.

Nowadays you can pay a $7 fee to stand on the other side of the rope separating Flannery O’Connor’s bed and writing desk from the rest of her room. But at the time in which she lived there, it was a working dairy farm which, like any family farm today, combated financial insecurity for much of its operation.

Regina Cline O’Connor was responsible for the dairy operation, running a farm in the Deep South at a time when decision making was thought to be a white man’s job. Flannery was not active in the day-to-day operations of the farm other than caring for her (many) birds, which required pen upkeep and lots of feed. Though Flannery was not responsible for farm work, she did rely on her writing to bring in much-needed funds to keep the house and yard in good repair. She was meticulous in her editing, sending drafts via letter to writer and critic Caroline Gordon. Continue reading “Working Women in Flannery O’Connor’s World”

Abortion Debate in the Pages of the School Paper

Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court Case that legalized abortion in the U.S., is pretty much a household name by this point. But did you know about the case Doe v. Bolton, a case from Georgia, which was the companion case for Roe v. Wade? Both were heard by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973 and, together, legalized the right to seek abortion in the United States.

By 1968, Georgia had legalized abortion when a woman met specific criteria: in the case of rape, danger to the mother’s life, and serious risk of deformity. She must be a resident of the state. Women had to obtain a referral from their doctor, then two other doctors. They had to gain permission from a hospital abortion committee and have the procedure in a licensed and approved hospital. Anyone knowing the applicant could intervene and disrupt the approval process. The law was challenged on the argument that such complicated restrictions infringed on the constitutional right to privacy. The Georgia Supreme Court declared the restrictions on reasons to seek abortion unconstitutional in 1970, legalizing the procedure in the state of Georgia.¹

But the state would not enforce the law because though a woman could now seek abortion for any reason, the state upheld the requirements on multiple physician recommendations and state residency. The case was taken to the Supreme Court, where it would remain until 1973. In the meantime, advocates in Georgia were working to provide counseling and services to women seeking abortion. One abortion counseling group put an ad for “Abortion Information and Assistance” in the Colonnade.

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The Colonnade, vol. 46, no. 15, February 25, 1971. p. 5

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“I am loved”: A Marketing Campaign Marks Milledgeville

Much of what we process in the archives belonged to former students of this campus, from the days of Georgia Normal & Industrial College through the days of Georgia State College for Women and more recently, Georgia College. I was adding a few donations from alumni when I opened a box to find a rat cap sporting different pins and patches. These caps were common in the GSCW days, and students have always personalized their caps with ribbons, pins, and patches, so their appearance was no surprise. What was a surprise was the red “I am loved” pin on the cap. cap

When I was 8 years old, my family took our first (and only) trip on a plane to go to Disney World. I was nervous because of the intimidating people at security and the threat of hijacking; this was May 2002, not long after the attacks of 9/11. My seat on the plane was separate from but close to my family. The seat next to me was occupied by a young woman who I thought must’ve been a real grown-up because she was traveling alone. In reality, she was probably no older than most of the students at Georgia College. She had a backpack covered with colorful pins and when she realized how scared I was, she started talking to me. The flight was only an hour, but it felt like the longest conversation I’d ever had in my young life. I don’t remember much of it now, but she told me not to be nervous, that no matter what happened I was loved. When the plane landed she reached into her bag and handed me a red pin with white letters: “I am loved.” Continue reading ““I am loved”: A Marketing Campaign Marks Milledgeville”

Scrapbooking a Life – The Honorable Floyd Griffin through Collected Mementos

Emili Pinson is a student in Holly’s GC1Y, The History of Georgia College, this semester. This is her Historical Object Analysis submission.

The Honorable Floyd Griffin, a Milledgeville native, has lived a life of accomplishment and honor and broken numerous political racial barriers. Thanks to his wife, his life is very well documented in collections of homemade scrapbooks. While looking through them, I took particular interest in a scrapbook of newspaper articles from Griffin’s time as Mayor of Milledgeville. Mayor is only one of the many hats he has worn in his life; in fact, there are at least a dozen more!

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Griffin made leaps and bounds for the African American community in regard to politics and honorability as the first African American mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia, a prospect unbroken until 2001, when he was elected into office. He gained the respect from his community from his time in military service during the Vietnam War, where he was a helicopter pilot in the Army. He also completed a tour in Germany, where he served in the Corps of Engineers. For these accomplishments in his military life, he left the army with the rank of Colonel.

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Milledgeville’s Fatal Experience with America’s Casanova Killer

Ashley Johnson is a student in Holly’s GC1Y, The History of Georgia College, this semester. This is her Historical Object Analysis submission.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you keep being bad I’m going to send you to Milledgeville?” Maybe you have heard a parent or grandparent say that to a child, or possibly you experienced being told that yourself. This saying comes from the exaggerated belief that Milledgeville was full of crazy people, since at the time it was home to the world’s largest mental asylum, Central State Hospital. One might think Central State is the scariest thing about this city, because when Milledgeville is brought up the terrible stories about the hospital are usually brought up as well. Surprisingly, one story that is rarely mentioned when discussing this small Georgia city is about the murders committed here by one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Paul John Knowles, also known as the “Casanova Killer”.

Knowles’ murder spree occurred during the early 1970s, when he was linked to twenty murders, though he claimed to have committed at least thirty-five. The murders in Milledgeville took place on November 6, 1974, and roughly a week later the local newspaper, The Union-Recorder, released its first article on the tragedy. The victims were a father and daughter, Carswell Carr, age forty-five, and Amanda Carr, age fifteen. Mrs. Carr was not home during the attacks because she worked as a night nurse, and ended up coming home the next day to discover the bodies of her husband and daughter. Police Chief Eugene Ellis reported Carswell had been stabbed multiple times in his chest and back in his bedroom, while Amanda was gagged and strangled with her own nylon stockings. It was apparent that belongings had been stolen from the Carr household, but robbery was determined to not be the true motive behind the kills. There had been no suspects, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution supposedly made a false claim that Chief Ellis stated that leads in the case pointed towards Central State Hospital. Continue reading “Milledgeville’s Fatal Experience with America’s Casanova Killer”

Carl Vinson: A Legend Living on Through His Ship

Jake Wood is a student in Holly’s GC1Y, The History of Georgia College, this semester. This is his Historical Object Analysis submission.

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There have been few and far between” important” things to come out of Milledgeville. Some can recall Milledgeville as the former capital of Georgia. Others remember Milledgeville as the place of the first women’s college, otherwise known as Georgia Normal & Industrial College (GNIC). A man like Carl Vinson might be overlooked in Milledgeville’s short history. Names like Flannery O’Connor come up before Carl Vinson, and rightfully so. Carl Vinson is more important to United States history than many realize and even had a supercarrier named in his honor because of his contributions to the US Navy. The third supercarrier of its time, the USS Carl Vinson quickly became a symbol for Milledgeville’s relevance in United States history.

While the ship itself may not be from Milledgeville, the motives for a stronger US Navy certainly did. Carl Vinson, a.k.a. “The Father of the Two Ocean Navy”, was a Democratic representative from Georgia that served in the House of Representatives for over 50 years. Known for his contributions to the US Navy, Vinson was also awarded the prestigious Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy. With so much focus on his career, Vinson didn’t have any children. He married once in 1921 to Mary Green; however, she sadly passed away in 1949 due to illness. After retirement, Vinson returned home to enjoy his final years until he eventually died in 1981. With his everlasting impact on the US Navy, Vinson remains a legend through the ship built in his name.

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