The Journal
The Latest from the History Center
Journal Newsletter October 21st - 26th
October 28, 2019

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This weekend we had a wonderfully spooky time with folks during our dramatic reading of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. This series was written by Alvin Schwartz in 1981 and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Schwartz drew from folklore and urban legends for many of the stories in the series. We could only highlight a selection of the more than 80 stories in the series, but we all had a fun time performing favorites like The Big Toe, The Viper, Wait 'Til Martin Comes, and a jazzy rendition of The Hearse Song. The cast was our own Ken Johnston and Libba Beaucham along with volunteers Matt House, Victor Lawrence, and Dan Nicodemo. Stories were told with live music played by Dan on the piano. We want to thank our staff Lesley Jones and Sommer Stockton for their help in preparing for the event and taking green screen photos for our guests! Volunteer Ami Truong took great photos for us too!


Left to Right: Ken Johnston, Victor Lawrence, Libba Beaucham, and Matt House read a Scary Story


Dan Nicodemo plays the piano throughout the Scary Stories


Ken recites the poem The Man Who Lived in Leeds


The audience applauds after a particularly amusing Scary Story

Congratulations to our costume contest winners the “Wiffle Bird” the video game character Mario!



We received a very positive response from this event, and we’re excited to bring these stories and more to the Halloween season again next year!

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tj webcast 8

By Glen Kyle

Thomas Jefferson is one of the most complicated people in American history; it's always a fun challenge to portray him because you never know what sort of questions you're going to get. I have to be ready to address everything from slavery to taxes to architecture to science. But during the most recent Digital Studio broadcast to Mrs. Tahtinen class at Henderson Mill Elementary, I had the opportunity to (among other topics) address something near and dear to Jefferson's heart: gardening.

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Thomas Jefferson's garden at his home, Monticello, in Virginia

Anyone who has studied any of Jefferson's letters or visited his home, Monticello, in Virginia knows that gardening was a lifelong passion for our third President. He kept a "garden diary," shared his thoughts and views on gardens with anyone who would take one of his letters (and who wouldn't!), and a visit to the mountaintop must include a walk along the 1,000 foot terraced growing space where he grew 330 varieties of vegetables. All these are interesting facts, but it was brought to life when one of the students asked about Mr. Jefferson's "Peas come to table" contest... when the subject came up, I could see the entire class wiggle in their seats and get quite excited!

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Glen Kyle portraying Thomas Jefferson in the Cottrell Digital Studio

It seems they'd encountered a part of this great story already: Mr. Jefferson and his neighbors would have an annual contest to see who could get their peas to be ready earliest, the winner being the first who could have his neighbors over for dinner and serve them the peas. A local friend, Mr. George Divers, usually won but one year it was Mr. Jefferson (and his gardeners) who triumphed, the first and only time the victory rested with the residents of Monticello.

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Behind the scenes of the Webcast with Thomas Jefferson

Such a delightful story, and one certainly off the beaten path, was a joy to share, and the children were quite fascinated by this little glimpse into the whimsical life of Thomas Jefferson. Having our audiences discover those personal connections that make our ancestors so human and so real to us is a big part of what we try to do at the History Center. Based on the smiling faces of Mrs. Tahtinen's class, it seems that we succeeded!

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This past Friday the History Center hosted a group of very enthusiastic 5th graders for what is certainly our most requested Living History program to be offered to student field trips: The Anglo-Cherokee Deer Skin Trade. What makes this program such a popular choice for teachers is that it hits on multiple Georgia Standards of Excellence requirements: Colonial Georgia History, Native American Daily Life, Settler and Native American interaction, and Native American use of the Environment. The students are excited to see and – in some cases - touch actual stone age technology tools such as an axe, knife, clay pot, or bow & arrow. The sensory learning is further highlighted when they get to feel a real deer skin with hair on one side and the other tanned into leather – with the big finale being the firing of the flintlock trade musket! We’ll definitely be doing a few more of these before the year is out!


A student "trades" in a deer skin for a flintlock trade musket


Ken prepares to fire the flintlock trade musket


Students react to the musket being fired!


Students pose for a group photo with Ken Johnston

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From the Archives this week is a Lincoln Eight Transistor. This transistor radio was made in the 1960s by Realtone Electronics, which was founded in 1956. Transistor radios are portable radio receivers that use transistor-cased circuitry. The first commercial transistor radio was the Regency TR-1 released in 1954. This device was the first to allow people to play radio music almost anywhere they went. The popularity of the portable transistor radio grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s, and billions have been sold world-wide since. Today transistor radios are still commonly used for car radios.

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podcast 8

Our Scariest Podcast Yet! – In this episode Ken and Glen discuss Halloween’s origins and modern manifestations.

Listen at this link: Halloween Origins

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Thanks for listening! Questions? Comments? Talk to us at

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Family Day: the War of Jenkin's Ear

Sunday, November 10 from 1-4 PM


Newly established Georgia, settled for only 6 years, the smallest of Britain’s North American colonies in both size and population faced a fight for its very existence in 1739 – in the War of Jenkin’s Ear. Learn about the threat to Georgia from forces in Spanish Florida, General James Oglethorpe’s siege of Saint Augustine, and daily life in the colony through living history interpretation and hands-on activities.

Family Days are free to the public thanks to the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center

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Forum: The Berlin Wall

Tuesday, November 12 at 7 PM

$3 General Admission or Free for Museum Members

Though it might not seem that long ago to SOME of us, it has been 30 years since the Berlin Wall, symbol of a divided Germany and the Cold War, went away. History Center Board Member Ron Stowe, retired pilot who has flown all over the world, will tell the history of the wall, what it meant, and what effect its removal had on Europe and the world.


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



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This family was part of the Farm Family Settlement Program by the Rabun Gap school just after WWI. Families lived at Rabun Gap learning skills in agriculture, homemaking, and healthcare. This family is identified as the Speed family.


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