By Glen Kyle, Executive Director
When it comes to History Center programming, one of the topics that creates the most interest is the story of the Cherokee people. Given the popularity of the subject, we have done more and more research into the history of the Cherokee Nation, especially the tragic background of removal and the Trail of Tears. The more we research, the more we understand (and want our visitors to understand) is how very complex these issues of the 1820s-30s really were… and when it comes to Indian removal there are few aspects less understood that the judicial and legal aspects of that time.
To that end, the History Center has partnered with the Chieftains Museum in Rome, Georgia, and through a grant from the Georgia Humanities we have created a small travelling exhibit that (briefly!) tells the story of laws and court cases. Now, while that might not sound terribly exciting, we’ve done the in-depth research for you and “summed it up” into only a few easy-to-read text panels. Initially the subject matter might seem dry, but when you visit the exhibit and learn about how central these cases were not just to the issues of the day, but to the Cherokee themselves, you’ll come away with a better understanding of the complexities surrounding the Trail of Tears.
Robert Lindneux (1871–1970). The Trail of Tears, 1942. Woolaroc Museum, Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
HOWEVER, as we said this is a travelling exhibit… it’ll only be at the History Center for a few days starting with a free opening event at 7 pm on July 2nd featuring Dr. Jamie Mize from the University of North Carolina: Pembroke to discuss the Treaty Party’s views on removal. It will then travel to the Chieftains Museum for the summer and early fall, returning to the History Center in October for Native American Heritage month before hitting the road again. We’re very proud of this effort to spread important information about a very important subject, and hope you’ll take advantage of the exhibit… while it’s here!
Delegates from the Anhui Business College visited the History Center for a special tour and program this past week. The partnership between Anhui Normal University and Brenau allows Chinese students to complete the first two years of their undergraduate studies on their home campus and their last two years at Brenau. We were very happy to share our region's history with the delegation!
By David French, Museum Services Manager
Anyone who has visited Gainesville’s square has undoubtedly seen the Confederate monument, which is often referred to as “Old Joe.” But Old Joe is not all that he first appears, and his story is one of historic memory rather than historic record.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define some terms. Memory is a perceived recollection of events. It is not itself an event. Historic memory is much the same. It is how people (or a society at large) remember an event from history. By its nature, historic memory is always one or more degrees removed of the event it recollects. It is therefore subject to the intrusions of bias, hindsight, and present perspectives. It is a goal of historians to sift through memory and separate the facts from the embellishments. In other words, separate the events of the past from the perspectives of memory.
Old Joe is a Confederate monument. But more than that, he is a product of historic memory. All memorials are. In 1909, the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the statue from the American Bronze Foundry Company of Chicago, Illinois. But the statue they purchased is far from an accurate depiction of a Confederate soldier. To start, the rifle in Old Joe’s hands didn’t exist at the time of the Civil War. It is a Springfield Allin conversion; a design that wasn’t produced until 1866. In addition, Old Joe’s accouterments are not consistent with that of the Civil War period. He is lacking many ubiquitous items, as a cartridge box and bayonet. The truth is, the American Bronze Foundry Co. produced a generic “Confederate Soldier” statue and sold it across the South. Old Joe has identical siblings in the towns of Fayetteville, NC; Charlottesville, VA; Edenton, NC; and Farmville, VA; just to name a few.
But there is a bigger point here than historic nit-picking. Since we know Old Joe does not accurately depict a Confederate soldier, he cannot be used to illuminate that bit of history. In the end, the statue is no more than a physical manifestation of how, 44 years after the fact, some Gainesvillians interpreted the historic memory of the Civil War. Suffice to say, their memory is not the only memory of the period.
By Lesley Jones, Archives Management Apprentice
In the archives this week is the Gainesville city ordinance that makes eating fried chicken illegal “in any other fashion than with the fingers.” The city of Gainesville meant to show the world they meant business about their poultry. In 1961, after a few nationwide commercials aired, the Gainesville-Hall County Chamber of Commerce put the law into motion and still stands today.
In fact, the Gainesville Times reported about a tourist in 2009 who was arrested at the Longstreet Café for eating fried chicken with a fork. While a joke for her 91st birthday, the woman was pardoned by the mayor with the stipulation that she finish her meal the proper way, with her fingers.
Today is the last day to vote for our Mascot Naming Contest! We selected our top five mascot names from over 100 submissions. The winner will receive a Sponsor-Level Membership to the History Center! Vote at this link.
Open Reception & Presentation for New Special Exhibit
July 2nd at 7:00 PM
The process of Indian removal in the 1830s that culminated in the Trail of Tears was not merely struggles between personalities and legislatures. Indeed, the mechanisms by which the United States enabled and justified removal were fundamentally in the judiciary. This exhibit will explore Georgia v. Tassels, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, and Worchester v. Georgia. These three cases not only set the stage for Cherokee removal from Georgia, but in many ways defined the differences between two divergent, but often similar, cultures.
As lead partner for this exhibit, the Northeast Georgia History Center will host an opening reception on Tuesday, July 2nd at 7 pm. Dr. Jamie Mize, will give a presentation on Cherokee Removal, focusing on the politics and personal dynamics of the Treaty Party led by Major Ridge. Admission to this event is free to the public, courtesy of the Georgia Humanities.
Dr. Jamie Myers Mize is a historian of American Indians of the Southeastern United States, specifically the Cherokees. She received her BA in history from Truett-McConnell University, her MA from the University of North Georgia, and her PhD degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Her research focuses on Cherokee masculinity and how gender expectations informed Cherokee men’s political decisions during an intense period of American colonialism in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. She has taught courses on American Indian history, the history of global indigenous peoples, early and modern American history, and twentieth century world history.
Special Exhibit: Court Cases of Cherokee Removal in Georgia
July 2nd - 10th
This exhibit will be on display at the History Center for a short time only, from July 2nd to July 10 when it will travel to the Chieftain’s Museum in Rome. It will return to Gainesville for Native American Heritage Month in October.
New Gainesville Chautauqua 2019 Season: The 1830s – a Decade of Removal
July 9th and August 13th
$6 cash/card at the door or Free for Museum Members
Our Chautauqua series for the 2019 season explores the decade of the 1830s; the years that saw the passage of the Indian Removal Act and its implementation, and the treaty negotiations between the Indian Nations and the Federal Government - whether perceived as realistic or perceived as forced. We’ll hear from a Chief who looked to make the best deal as quickly as possible, a Chief who delayed removal as long as possible, and the President who sought to ensure removal as essential to his view of the United States.
July 9 - Choctaw Chief Greenwood LeFlore - portrayed by Matt House
Chief Leflore negotiated and signed the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek within four months of the passage of the Removal Act, thus securing the best lands in the Indian Territory for the Choctaw – and then stayed behind in Mississippi while his tribe went west, taking U.S. Citizenship and becoming a wealthy cotton planter who owned 400 slaves and 15,000 acres of land.
August 13 – President Andrew Jackson – portrayed by Ken Johnston
Andrew Jackson, the man perceived in the popular imagination as being almost single-handedly responsible for the Indian Removal Act and the resultant Trail of Tears. Jackson could be ambivalent regarding Native Americans, treating the Red Stick Creek as enemies at Horseshoe Bend, while the Cherokee and Choctaw as allies at Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans, respectively. Whether Jackson viewed Indian Nations as enemies or allies, though, his first and overriding priority was White settlement and expansion; and as Jackson saw it the Nations had best accommodate Removal for their own good - regardless of how the Native American Nations themselves saw it.
For more fascinating photos and information on our region's past, follow our social media!
Members of the Pickens family pose for a photo in front of their log barn in Gwinnett County, Georgia sometime in the late 1800s.