The Tale of the Lost Marriage Certificate

In Special Collections, we’re used to unusual things popping up. It’s the very nature of a special collection. Recently, we received a call from Mike Couch at the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority because he had some papers in his office that he thought would be best placed with us. Construction workers, planning to demolish a building at Central State, decided these papers might be important, so they decided to hand them off to Mike. It turns out those were Payton B. Cook’s papers. Rev. Cook’s name is familiar to newer residents of Milledgeville mostly because his name is on a building on Vinson Road. However, longtime residents will recall Rev. Cook as a pillar of the community, whose accomplishments were recognized by the Georgia General Assembly upon his death in 1998.

Rev. Cook was a clinical chaplain at Central State Hospital in the 1960s through the 1990s. He was an African-American who helped to integrate the hospital’s administration, and while that is certainly important, what I’ve learned about Rev. Cook through inventorying his papers is just how much he meant to Milledgeville and Baldwin County as a true public servant. He served on numerous boards for the hospital, the local community, and the state, and he traveled the southeast to encourage students studying to become clinical chaplains and preach in pulpits large and small (usually Baptist and Methodist). Business leaders wrote letters to him asking for advice, and occasionally, the area elected officials reached out to him as well. There were also notes from his young daughter, reminding him to run errands for her while she was at school.

Rev. Cook had a very busy schedule, and perhaps that explains what we ran across today while inventorying his collection — an original marriage license from Peach County, Georgia, from 1970. Rev. Cook was the officiant, and he had completely filled out the form, but it had never been mailed. I thought at first he had handwritten a copy, but the form in my hands clearly said “county original.” My next thought was that Rev. Cook had likely misplaced this copy, yet mailed a second one. I realized I had better call Peach County Probate Court to be certain. Continue reading “The Tale of the Lost Marriage Certificate”


Guards! Guards!

If you got the reference in my title as a Pratchett fan, you may be expecting dragons and the Night Watch. Not quite. This story started with the search for a cornerstone. During the process of putting together items for the upcoming Russell Library exhibition on Russell Auditorium, I went back to the stacks to search for the mythical Russell Auditorium Cornerstone. Little did I know that I should not be looking for a physical cornerstone but rather a box filled with items from the cornerstone time capsule discovered by Dr. Bob Wilson and unearthed by the Physical Plant staff in October 1996. To hear the rest of the story of the cornerstone, come visit the Special Collections exhibit on the second floor of the Russell Library.

In the search for this so-called stone, I stumbled upon a box with a brick — yes, a literal brick — labelled as coming from the Prison Courtyard during renovations during 2005-2006. Since the box label stated Dr. Bob to be the donor, I inevitably sought him out to ask him. Turns out that this little brick is part of a much larger story encompassing the slice of Milledgeville history that is the penitentiary.

Kemp House Brick
The infamous brick

As has been talked about on this blog before (our first post in fact!), the penitentiary began accepting prisoners in 1817 and existed well into the 1880s. After being engulfed in flames in 1864, supposedly by the prisoners who were let out in the hopes that they would fight to defend their city from the incoming Union General — William Sherman. To no one’s surprise, the prisoners didn’t, and the penitentiary was rebuilt to accomodate even more prisoners until the 1880s, dampened by the convict lease system instituted in 1868 and the establishment of a state prison farm with state prison warden two miles west of Milledgeville in 1897. So the story goes that the land appropriated to the prison became the land of G.N. & I.C. leading the students to sit among the spirits of the state prisoners, even leading to ghost stories of prisoners spirits shaking the green shutters of the Bell Hall Annex (Hair). Continue reading “Guards! Guards!”

Wine Not?

Dr. Bob Wilson of Georgia College spends many of his afternoons in the research room of Special Collections, rifling through stacks of folders and pages of books from the archive, as he updates the college’s history. Recently he stopped by to request help in locating a very specific, rather unusual item. He recalls a story he heard from a  dinner party thrown by Dr. James C. Bonner several years ago. Somewhere in Bonner’s collection existed an elusive “Dandelion Wine” recipe. Mikaela and I vaguely recalled coming across a wine recipe of sorts, but where it lay within the stacks, we had no idea where to begin. Bonner’s papers house eight shelves in the archive, an entire section of an aisle. We knew finding the recipe would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Dr. Bob first learned of the recipe through Dr. George Kirk, the chair of his graduate program at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He invited Dr. Bob to a dinner party where they enjoyed the distinct yellow colored wine. “The idea was cool, but I wasn’t a big fan then. So hopefully now, my tastes have changed.” He remembers it being very potent. Dr. Bob had forgotten about the wine until Dr. Ralph Hemphill, former Vice President and Dean of Faculties of Georgia College from 1968-2002, shared a story with him from a dinner party Bonner held years ago. Hemphill worked with Bonner, who was head of the social studies department at the time.They often saw each other outside of the university. Since his conversation with Hemphill, Dr. Bob has wanted to give the recipe a go himself. Continue reading “Wine Not?”

Swingin’ the Blues: 21 Years of the Georgia College Jazz Band with Dr. Bob Wilson

Now let’s go back to 1943, and if some of the jokes are a bit corny and sexist by 1990s standards, put it in a historical perspective.

— “Georgia College USO Show” script, 1995

Twenty one short years ago the Georgia College Jazz Band, with special guest appearances from the Georgia College Show Choir and Georgia College Theatre Department, performed the Georgia College USO Show on February 24 and 25, 1995. With a show titled “Music from World War II,” the band went on to swing some iconic tunes, such as “Moonlight Serenade” from Glenn Miller, and the perennial classic, “Sing, Sing, Sing” from Louis Prima. This tribute was especially fitting; Georgia College, or Georgia State College for Women, was the site of a broadcast from Bob Hope and his whole troop on May 18, 1943. Why? Because of the brave women receiving training on campus from the Navy WAVES program. The one thing missing from this triple threat of musical talent was the history. Band director Todd Shiver needed someone to take the helm as emcee and provide some historical perspective to the show — a newly promoted Associate Professor in the Department of History and Geography, Dr. Bob Wilson.

Even after retiring from teaching, Dr. Bob has continued to be the voice of the Georgia College Jazz Band, delighting jazz band members and audiences alike. However, on November 3 and 4, 2016, the jazz band paid tribute to Dr. Bob’s “swinging” as announcer at his final shows. Full of stories of jazz legends, jazz history, and a whole lot of love for the band, Dr. Bob’s scripts represent a large part of the institutional history of Georgia College and the end of an era to current and former band members, as well as those returning audience members. Thankfully Dr. Bob kept all of these materials since 1995; Director of Georgia College Bands Dr. Cliff Towner received four folders of scripts, programs, newspaper clippings, notes — everything imaginable about the band — from Dr. Bob, and these materials were promptly passed on to Special Collections.

Before going on, I must admit the personal joy I have gotten out of handling this collection. I was a member of the band from 2012-2016, playing alto and tenor saxophone, and experienced firsthand the pride Dr. Bob has for the students, the band, and the music. Reading his scripts over the past few days has made me relive the concerts of my past, dating back to 2012, my first semester of undergrad at Georgia College. I’m sure that other former members of the band will get this same joy out of seeing themselves, their names, and their memories in this amazing collection.

It’s definitely a “sentimental journey” to look back on the past twenty one years of Dr. Bob’s legacy with the Jazz Band. Here’s a look back at Dr. Bob and the GC Jazz Band along with our institutional history:

1995. The Georgia College USO Show is in full swing. Dr. Barbara Chandler, a former Navy WAVE at Georgia College attended the show. Georgia College is one year away from our sixth official name change – to Georgia College and State University.

2001. Georgia College Jazz Band welcomes Ken Burns to the stage this Fall. Dr. Bob also says perhaps my new favorite quote about jazz music:

Jazz music, like the American experiment, is all about freedom, improvisation, respect, and working together. Jazz, not surprisingly, was discouraged in Stalinist Russia, Hitler thought it was decadent, and Osama Bin Laden rarely gets groovy.

–Fall 2001 Jazz Band Concert

2003. Upon the 60th Anniversary of the Bob Hope Show coming to campus (1943-2003), the band performs the show in its entirety from the original script. Students portrayed Bob Hope, Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, and the rest of the Hope gang. Dr. Bob once again provided his historical insight, taking the band right back to 1943. He once told me, when the archive was planning to showcase the WAVE uniform donated by Dr. Chandler, how the band dressed one of the show choir singers in the uniform to perform “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” In 2003, Georgia College was growing and preserving, building five new dorms as well as completing a historical renovation of the Old Governor’s Mansion.

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Continue reading “Swingin’ the Blues: 21 Years of the Georgia College Jazz Band with Dr. Bob Wilson”

Making W.A.V.E.S.

In 1943, Georgia State College for Women was selected as one of four colleges for training U.S. Navy W.A.V.E.S. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the W.A.V.E.S., which stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, it was a program created by The United States Congress in 1942 — aggressively sought after by former senator Carl Vinson — to include women as military personnel for World War II. The W.A.V.E.S. were accepted into the U.S. Navy and treated equally as male personnel in many respects: They were given the same pay and same discipline, with the difference being that W.A.V.E.S. could not “serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, and initially were restricted to duty in the continental United States.” This U.S.-only duty stipulation would later change during the war when the W.A.V.E.S. were given permission to serve in specific overseas U.S. occupations. By the end of WWII, about two and a half percent of the Navy’s total power were made up of Navy W.A.V.E.S. “In some places WAVES constituted a majority of the uniformed Naval personnel.” The other sites for training chosen by the Bureau of Navy Personnel were Smith College, the University of Indiana, and the University of Wisconsin. One of the original reasons for the W.A.V.E.S.’ formation was to create a group of women Navy personnel that could relieve men from shore duty so they could assume active sea duty roles.

Continue reading “Making W.A.V.E.S.”

Mandolins & Milledgeville: A Spotlight on the Andalusia Bluegrass Festival

From 3:00 to 8:00 pm on Saturday, the quiet pines, calm lake, and sereneness of Andalusia will be disrupted by some “good country music,” or should I say good bluegrass music. It’s that time of year again: The 12th Annual Bluegrass Festival at Andalusia will be held this Saturday, November 5! A Milledgeville tradition, the Bluegrass Festival will draw bluegrass aficionados, families, students, and everyone in between from Middle Georgia and the Southeast.

The festival has been held on the 500 acre grounds of Andalusia Farm, the home of Flannery O’Connor from 1951 to her death in 1964. Operated by the Andalusia Foundation, the farm has been restored and preserved and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. Take one step on the property, standing among the farm buildings and the line of pines, and you’ll vividly come to understand the backdrop of O’Connor’s short stories.

Night Falls at Andalusia. Photo by Mikaela LaFave

I got in touch with Craig Amason, the former Director of the Andalusia Foundation to gather a bit more history about the festival. The Bluegrass Festival started twelve years ago from an idea of a member of the Andalusia Foundation board, a local real estate broker named Lynda Banks as a way of increasing local interest in the activities and programs at Andalusia. Each year Mrs. Banks and board member Mary Anne Murray would co-sponser the event by paying for the band and coordinating volunteers who would help with organization, cooking and serving food, and other essential duties. Until 2014, the festival hosted a single band each year, typically a local band who was well known to the community. Two of the most common invitees were Heart Pine and Redline Express. Current Director Elizabeth Wylie expanded the festival in 2014 to include three bands, but still retain the community feel of the festival.



2016 Poster

The Andalusia Foundation holds the Bluegrass Festival each year to serve as fundraiser to continue upkeep and restoration of the farm.
This year’s festival will feature the following:

  • nature walks
  • local music
  • local food
  • and three bands from across the state


The festival has remained an important part of Milledgeville music history and the local community, and it encourages students, residents, and even out-of-town folks to come for a visit. This year, Special Collections will be archiving the social media presence of the festival. We will be using TAGS to archive tweets from @AndalusiaFarm and tweets with #bluegrassfestival2016.


Works Cited

Amason, Craig. “RE: Andalusia Bluegrass Festival.” Received by Mikaela LaFave, 3 Nov. 2016

“Bluegrass Festival – Andalusia Farm – Home of Flannery O’Connor.” Bluegrass Festival – Andalusia Farm – Home of Flannery O’Connor, Andalusia Foundation,
“Good country music: Andalusia Farm hosts 11th annual Bluegrass Festival.” Atlanta, Atlanta Magazine,
Nylund, Chris. “11th Annual Andalusia Farm Bluegrass Festival.” Field Note Stenographers, Field Note Stenographers, 20 Oct. 2015,
“Packway Handle Band Headlines 10th Andalusia Bluegrass Festival.” The Union-Recorder, The Union Recorder, 8 Oct. 2014,
“12th Annual Bluegrass Festival at Andalusia Farm.” Georgia Music, Georgia Tourism Division, 31 Oct. 2016,

A Look at Deep Roots Festival’s Yesterdays, Todays, and Tomorrows

2016 Deep Roots Festival schedule activities and times.

The Deep Roots Festival takes place in Milledgeville, Georgia, and is an annual event that draws people in from near and far. In 2016, it was held on Saturday October 22nd, and the music lineup it’s most known for, it doubles as a daytime festival, hosting games, shows, and a barbecue competition. The event began in 2000 with the original name of Sweetwater Festival, but that was changed in 2008 when there was a complaint from a brewery in Atlanta by the same name. Regardless, Deep Roots continued to prosper from the attraction and enthusiasm it gathered and has been helping local businesses from the profit it accrues in a single day.

As noted earlier, this is a day-long affair. Deep Roots goes from 10 am to midnight and begins with art demonstrations and exhibits. Entertainment such as live music, dancing, Mark The Magic Man, and Piccadilly Puppets perform on the Community Stage throughout the day. At night, the festival changes into more of a concert. This year’s festival had performances from Kyshona Armstrong, Cranford Hollow, Amasa Hines, Shawn Mullins, and Judah & the Lion. Because it’s such a draw locally and regionally, we’ve decided to do something that hasn’t been done in Special Collections before: We’re creating an online exhibit that will be archived and available in perpetuity. We learned to set up Twitter Archive Google Sheets (best known in the archiving world as TAGS), and are running searches on @deeprootsfestiv, #drf16, #deeproots, and #deeprootsfestival. In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to use Omeka to create a digital exhibit of photos, tweets, and Facebook posts for this year’s festival – something we want to continue in future years.

Works Cited

Cain, Alexander. “Deep Roots Committee Meets for the First Time since Name Change.” The Union-Recorder. N.p., 14 May 2009. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

“Deep Roots Festival 2016.” Deep Roots Festival 2016. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

“Deep Roots Festival.” Milledgeville Main Street. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.