Members of the Bulloch County Historical Society shared antiques as various as a biscuit dough bowl, a squirrel rifle and a more than 260-year-old religious text carrying a family birth record during the organization’s latest “Road Show.”
“This is a program that I look forward to every two or three years when we do one of these,” said Historical Society President Joe McGlamery. “We call this our version of ‘Antiques Road Show,’ but we don’t have behind the curtain over there a staff of appraisers to tell you what all of these things are really worth.”
At least 15 members showed and told of objects – some family heirlooms, others finds or purchases – during the society’s most recent monthly lunchtime meeting, May 22 in the social hall of Pittman Park United Methodist Church. Their treasures were arrayed along a row of tables, and photographs of a few more were projected on a screen.
The society’s vice president for programs, Georgia Southern University Museum Director Brent Tharp, Ph.D., served as emcee. He and the objects’ owners appraised them not by dollar value, but only with words of historical context and appreciation.
Eubie Crosby brought a biscuit dough bowl carved from heartwood. A long shallow oval, it was used to form biscuits, as she recalled watching her mother and older sister do. Crosby said she doesn’t know exactly how old the object is but that she’s now 87 and her mother was 43 years older, “so it’s been around a while, and a lot of good biscuits were made with this.”
Wielding a rifle, Rodney Harville assured fellow members and guests this was “not a holdup.” Bought by his grandfather circa 1906-1908, the gun is a Winchester Model 1902 bolt-action .22-caliber. More than 600,000 of these rifles were sold from 1902 to 1931, and this one was especially useful to the Harvilles during two weeks or so of “hog killing time” in cold weather each year, he told.
Edwin Akins brought two books, both cherished family heirlooms. One was a 1900-1906 record book from a set kept by his great-grandfather John B. Gill and grandfather George Gill for a commissary in one of the communities later absorbed by the creation of Fort Stewart. At a time when 25 cents would buy a pound of bacon, some customers paid their commissary debt with labor at his grandfather’s turpentine still. Four days’ work earned a $3 credit.
Book from 1700s
Akins’ other book was a copy of a religious text called “Second Discourse on the First Article of the Creed” from the 1700s. A birth record was kept in the book after the manner of family Bibles.
“The first record of a birth that is recorded in this book was Richard Brack and Elizabeth, his wife, their son George was born on the 24th day of November, 1757,” Akins said.
It was passed down by his great-grandmother, Polly Brack Akins, and on through generations to first his sister and then to Edwin Akins.
The big book is missing its first 48 pages, but he had a bindery restore the rest. He invited people to look without turning the fragile pages.
“So, these two books, one from 1900, and the other one is 1700s – we don’t know the exact date – but they are quite old,” Akins said.
Some items of hyperlocal interest included Jeff Johnson’s railroad pass – in the name of H.M. Carter authorizing transfers from the Savannah & Statesboro Railway to the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, valid for the year 1926 – and Frank French’s “Statesboro, GA, Home of GSC” vehicle license plate from 1969, the last year of city-issued license plates.
Some of the show-and-tell came with how-to instructions. For example, Evelyn Smith displayed a washboard and talked about how it was used, along with hot water, a washtub and lye soap, to wash clothes usually in the morning. Bonnie Howard showed off a hand-cranked butter churn that still works.
Tharp displayed and described some gifts Linda Akins has made to the Georgia Southern Museum. She has donated a collection of 20 quilts made by her grandmother Rebecca Waters Smith, known as “Dink,” who lived 1882-1951, and great-grandmother Sarah Jane Waters, born in 1855.
Two example quilts Tharp showed first-hand were flour-sack quilts, circa 1915. “Statesboro, Ga.,” was also seen on the flour label backing of one in a close-up on screen.
“These are fashion history; these are family history,” Tharp said.
Also gifted to the museum by Linda Akins was a “U.S. Mail” postmaster’s bag from the post office in the Bulloch County community of Emit, dating from shortly after 1900.
Another museum donation was received from Walt Strickland, whose wife was among 26 journalism students at Statesboro High School in 1959 who wrote letters to prominent news professionals. Just some of those who wrote back were Eric Sevareid, Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley, their letters now part of the GS Museum’s holdings.