Maude Edge Brannen came to life Monday night as she entertained the Bulloch County Historical Society during its 38th Annual Meeting at Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church.
Of course, it was not the real Maude Brannen Edge. The daughter of Statesboro’s first Mayor, Lonnie Brannen, passed away some time ago, but Carol Thompson, assistant director of Georgia Southern University’s Performing Arts Center, exuded the very essence of what Edge was known for being — a genteel, soft-spoken but authoritative Southern woman with a vast memory and a mind filled with knowledge.
Much of that knowledge is the history of Statesboro and Bulloch County — much of which Thompson shared as she paced around the stage as Edge.
During “A Visit With Maude,” written by Dr. Del Presley as he leaned heavily upon Edge’s own writings as well as other recordings about her, Thompson told the audience that in 1880, the year before she was born, Bulloch County only had 24 residents.
“Statesboro was just a lil’ ol’ place where the judge came twice a month to hold court,” she said. Metter was the booming city then, a part of Bulloch County at the time.
But by 1900, there were 1,150 people in the growing city of “Statesborough,” and almost 22,000 in Bulloch County, she said.
Edge was only seven when she lived at 15 West Main Street, and remembers when much of the town burned. She recalled how quickly those burned buildings were replaced by brick structures, and how people met for church at the courthouse or the Masonic Lodge (in the same location it resides now on South Main Street) until churches were built in the 1890s.
She “recalled” picking wildflowers at Roberts Mill Pond (now part of Lakeview Road) and a number of “burying grounds” that have been plowed under and built over. “Edge” begged the audience to preserve the old cemeteries in the county.
The audience was enthralled throughout her performance, accentuated with music by Archie Jordan, a two-time Grammy nominee who wrote many songs that later became major hits, including a number recorded by Ronnie Milsap.
Jordan also provided music during the dinner meal, which was catered by RJ’s Steaks and Seafood.
As Thompson drew her portrayal of Edge to a close, she reminded the audience “What is so important to us is the connection we make to other people.”
Then she invited folks to “spend more time” with her by purchasing and reading the Bulloch County Historical Society’s “Out of the Past,” a selection of Edge’s writings that is the first to be published under the Clock Tower Series name, said Bulloch County Historical Society vice president Joe McGlamery.
Edge did not begin writing her columns until 1956, at age 76.
Edge’s granddaughters, Judith Ann Edge Ericksen and Sally Maude Edge Obenski, were guests of the meeting and shared fond memories of their “granny.”
“Our grandmother never drank, smoked, cursed, raised her voice in anger, or spoke harshly of anyone,” said Ericksen.
“She went to college, when it was unheard of for a woman at her time and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She was truly a Renaissance Woman,” Obenski said
She shared how Edge taught herself to play piano, how she learned Braille so she could understand the plight of the blind, and “could quote pages from Shakespeare, passages from the Bible and complete poems of Longfellow and Kipling.”
Ericksen shared how the only time she ever saw her granny angry was when someone bested her at croquet. “She played to win regardless of whether it was beating her son or a grandchild. If anyone dared hit her croquet ball, dead silence ensued and the daggers flew. Our little grandmother who never raised her voice in anger was furious.”
The evening concluded with members conducting business matters after Thompson’s performance.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.