Donna's Musings: What's Happening With Dade History?

Thanks to Joy Odom for writing her series on the founding of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. She has been volunteering at the park since her retirement from the Dade County School System and she has organized many things for the park, as she has for the Historical Society and the Library’s History Room. Her knowledge of the park has become vast. If you are interested in our national park, there are many ways in which you, too, can volunteer. Contact the park at Chickamauga for information.

Our event Thursday, Nov. 8, with Dr. Anthony Hodges was a standing-room-only event in the meeting room of the library. It was a happy surprise to have a roomful on such an ugly and rainy night. Anthony was very interesting and kept us all entertained for over an hour lecturing and answering quite a few questions after his talk. I have heard him do this talk before and I learned some new things about the development of Chattanooga as a military hospital city even before the Battle of Chickamauga made the hospitals so essential. The method worked out at Chattanooga to prepare and care for the wounded continued to be used over the years by the military and is historically the basis for the MASH units of the Korean War era and is still around today. Female nurses were also employed at Chattanooga, which until that time was just not done. If you didn’t come, you missed a great event!

The Historical Society will have its next meeting on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 10:30 a.m. at the Dade Library. Following the meeting at 11:30 a.m., the members will host a genealogy workshop. We encourage people who are looking for or have found interesting information to join us. Using is free to all Georgia residents at the library. You may also want to take advantage of the index to all the Dade and Walker newspapers. The papers have been digitized and there are three machines in the History Room on which you can view these old papers. It is fun just to put in the name of a loved one and see if he/she was ever listed in a Dade or Walker newspaper.

Keep your ears open for the date and time for our biannual hike into the coke

ovens in the Big Woods a.k.a. New Home a.k.a. Cole City. Plans are for late January or early February. More details on that when the date is finalized.

If you have been in the county commission meeting room, then you have no doubt noticed the old photographs which decorate the walls in that room. You may not know, however, the origin of those photos. They were made in September 1975 as part of a project of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Every county in Georgia had an architectural survey. The library and the Historical Society have retained as many of the original prints as possible, but alas, time has depleted the supply.

Last summer, I did some research as to whether the original negative or slides were still in existence. I was happy to find that they do exist but had not been digitized. After contacting Historic Preservation Division of the Dept. of Natural Resources, I spent the summer inquiring via email if there was a way to digitize them and if so, then could someone come and do just that. The penpal relationships which were begun on email were firmed up when I spent two days at their office on the campus of Panola Mountain State Park completing the task.

There were 190 slides with great documentation, which includes a sheet on each home or building which named the owner, current occupant, original date of construction (when known), style of architecture, worthiness for inclusion in a historic district or need to apply to the National Register of Historic Places. If you would like to view these digitized photos, you may do so at the Dade library.

Sadly, many of the building surveyed no longer exist, either from fires or demolition or just disappeared through decay, such as the McBryar House and the Brown Gap Cemetery church and school. Happily, several of our oldest buildings have seen resurgence through the loving care of owners. The Rising Fawn Iron Works Commissary and Pay House have improved from decaying relics with a ghostly past into homes which not only provide a unique place to live but continue to show their history proudly. Mr. and Mrs. Peck Hansard not only did a good thing for their family by salvaging the buildings, they did a service to this community as well.

A couple of others treasures are located on what is still known as the Dave L. Brown Farm in Wildwood. In 1975, the old A.W. Peck house on the hill at the then-horse farm did not look like much could be done with it, but someone has painstakingly restored the house. A bit farther south on that property was a ramshackle log cabin which was in terrible shape. It appears, from Highway 11, that it has also been restored.

Next on my list of ramblings are two items which are for sale that you might want to purchase for gifts, Christmas or otherwise. The Friends of the Library continues to sell the leaded Christmas ornaments which depict historic places in Dade County. For the first time, we have created a new one. It is the Trenton Methodist Church and the Fellowship Hall circa 1930 and 1950, respectively. The cost for each ornament is $15 and they may be purchased at the Library or the Dade County Commission office.

Also available are special orders for whole sets of all 13 ornaments at a cost of $165, which should be paid for when placing your order. Fill in the missing pieces for a set by ordering previously offered ornaments. The money will support activities at the library.

Also for sale will be the second Dade Historic Photographs Calendar. The Historical Society and the new Historic Preservation Commission will partner in this fundraiser. The cover for this year will be a photo of the telegram which President Harry Truman sent to welcome Dade back into the Union in 1945. Calendars are currently in production and be should be ready by the Dec. 6 Dade County Commission meeting. Two hundred calendars are being produced. The cost per calendar will be $10 and you may purchase one at the county commission office or the Dade library. The proceeds will go to the preservation of the old county courthouse.

One more thing for the future: The late Myrna Renfroe McMahan wrote for a Dade County newspaper from the time she graduated from high school until she retired from the newspaper business. More than anyone alive at this moment, I have scoured the Dade papers looking for hints about our past. Each and every time I look at an old paper, I find an article written by Myrna about the history of Dade County or for a column which she called Dallyin’ in Dade.

I have learned so much from her about life in Dade. As a result, I have suggested that the Dade Historical Society’s next book should be a compilation of all of Myrna’s history articles. They agreed and we decided to check with family for their blessings and get started on copying and retyping her articles. We will build this book in a way that it can be indexed, so it will be easy to find tidbits of interest to the reader.

This project will take at least two years and will not begin until March. We will need an ​​army of typists to pull this project off. If you are able, willing and interested, then please send an email to me at and I will add your information to a list to be contacted when a stack of articles are ready to be typed. If you ever wanted to be part of writing a book, then consider being part of this project.

--Donna M. Street

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