The Journal
The Latest from the History Center
Newsletter May 6 - May 10th
May 10, 2019

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We have a very exciting Forum coming up on Tuesday, May 14th with author and historian Janet Croon. She will be presenting her research for her fascinating book The War Outside My Window. This book contains the diary of a young boy named LeRoy Gresham who lived in Macon, Georgia during the Civil War. He chronicles his thoughts, feelings, and firsthand experiences with the war in vivid detail.

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Our Director of Media & Communications, Libba Beaucham, interviewed Croon about the book and how she discovered the story. By chance, Croon saw a social media post about the young boy’s diary. “The first thing that struck me about this story as a teacher was how great it would be to use it in the classroom to teach kids about the Civil War through the eyes of another kid.” Croon said. She described how using this primary source allowed students to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and learn about history through their own introspection.


Portrait of LeRoy Gresham

In his diary, LeRoy Gresham describes the news articles that he reads during the war. Regarding the news, Croon said, “Another striking thing we found was how difficult it was for people to get the truth in the news. We’re used to being there almost instantaneously. Even a couple of weeks after Lincoln’s assassination, the details were wrong.” It is no wonder that LeRoy was drawn to reading as he was often immobile due to a crippling injury from his childhood.


Pages from LeRoy Gresham's diary

“In the beginning, he’s very pro-Confederacy. As he gets older, he has a more refined view, a more analytical view. He starts to question some Confederate policies, some of their economic practices, even some of Jefferson Davis’ battlefield choices as far as commanding generals.” On the subject of slavery, LeRoy forms the opinion that emancipation should happen gradually. But LeRoy would not live to see the day. Due to a chronic illness, likely a rare form of tuberculosis, LeRoy passes away at age 17 in 1865.


Author and historian Janet Croon delivering a presentation on C-SPAN

When asked what she hoped people would walk away with from this book, Croon said, “I hope they understand how this war really did impact everyday lives...where people in the south were coming from…an overall understanding of these people as people.”

Join us for this Forum with Janet Croon on Tuesday, May 14th at 7:00 PM at the History Center. Admission is $3 or free for Museum Members. Signed editions of the book will be available for purchase. This Forum will also be available to watch on Facebook Live on the History Center’s Facebook page!

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In the year 1540 Hernando De Soto marched with over 600 men, 220 horses – and over 400 hogs! – through what would become present day Georgia as part of an expedition of exploration and colonization. This past Wednesday our Director of Education Ken Johnston, Museum Services Manager David French, and Volunteer Joel Lofton marched down (alright, drove down in a Honda Pilot) to the Georgia Renaissance Festival site to do a Living History presentation on De Soto for the festival’s Student Day. The students got to see demonstrations of how the arms and armor of the Expedition were used – including shooting the longbow, crossbow, and firing of the matchlock arquebus – as well got the chance to hold some of the items themselves. This is the History Center’s fifth year presenting Living History programming at the festival; our appearances there are not only educational outreach, but also serve the purposes of marketing us to a new audience and securing bookings for our onsite programs and digital outreach. To that we say Huzzah!

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This week the Cottrell Digital Studio brought Abraham Lincoln to the classroom of Peachtree City Elementary and a special Webcast Lesson on the De Soto Expedition to Tadmore Elementary. As the academic year comes to a close, we are happy to report that we've served over 1,000 students this year through our free Webcasts and hundreds more students and teachers through our original Webisode videos that are played in the classroom.

We will have a special broadcast of our Abraham Lincoln Webcast with Tadmore Elementary next week on Wednesday, May 15th at 1:30 PM through Facebook Live. The broadcast will be available to view afterward as well.

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Behind the scenes of our Abraham Lincoln Webcast

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Students listen to a story from Lincoln's life

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Inside the studio during a Webcast Lesson on the De Soto Expedition

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Director of Education Ken Johnston answers a question during the Webcast Lesson

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This week From the Archives is a collection that alumni of Gainesville High School will find dear. A cheerleading sweater, a band member's cardigan, and a letterman jacket from Gainesville High School students in the 1940s seen pictured below. Gainesville High School was founded in 1892 and was originally located at Main Street and College Avenue. The first graduating class had its graduation at the Hunt Opera House in 1894. Gainesville High School has recognized for its achievements both by the state and nationally. It received the National Blue Ribbon award in 2010, which is considered the highest honor for American schools, and it was recognized as a State School of Excellence in Georgia. Other honorable recognition has come from its drama department, athletics, and its high test scores. Go Red Elephants! (A mascot that was created when a football game announcer in the 1920s said the football team looked like a herd of "red elephants" as they entered the field!)

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Forum: The War Outside My Window
Tuesday, May 14th 7-8PM
$3 General Admission or Free for Members

Writer and Historian Janet Elizabeth Croon speaks on the Civil War journals of young Macon resident Leroy Wiley Gresham, who suffered a debilitating accident before the war, and whose chronicling of his own slow death was in tandem with the rise and demise of the Confederacy.

Saturday Family Day: The End of the 1830s -- Frontier No More
Saturday, May 18th 12PM-4PM

As the 1830’s draw to a close the sad chapter of Federal Indian Removal ends in North Georgia and the Southeast at large, with the Cherokee Trail of Tears and military actions against the Creek and Seminole - what white settlers called the Frontier has become their homesteads. This special Saturday Family Day explores the 1830s with Living History demonstrations and activities as well as arts and crafts by the Quinlan Art center.

Free and open to the public! Presented as part of the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center.

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For more fascinating photos and information on our region's past, follow our social media!



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The staff of Palmour Hardware Co. on May 9, 1901. The store was located on the square of Gainesville, Georgia on Maple Street at this time.

The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University - 322 Academy St NE Gainesville, GA 30501 - 770.297.5900 -