Welcome to the Stone Mountain Historic Society's first e-newsletter!

Stone Mountain Historic Society
Newsletter April 2013


Welcome to 2013! The first order of business is to thank Averil Bonsall for her leadership as president last year.  Averil brought civility and humor to each task whether it was fundraising, organizing a meeting, or getting consensus.  During her years in office, we had our first Pancake Breakfast, Third Thursdays became a reality, and the research initiative began.  Her true legacy, however, is the rehabilitation and development of the grounds of the Wells Brown House.  We now understand the importance of the grounds to the property and its potential. We have asked Averil if she would serve as Keeper of the Gardens this year and we are delighted that she will serve in that capacity.
Pat Miller and Kathryn Wright prove again they are troopers of the first order.  They produced our first electronic newsletter in January while JoAnn Florence had pneumonia and I was on business travel. Kudos to both of them and we were so delighted with the product that we are going to continue to deliver the newsletter via e-mail for those members that we have email addresses.  For the members that do not have e-mail, we will continue to send the newsletter out via US mail.  As always, we will post a pdf of the newsletter on our website.  Putting the newsletter out electronically will be a great savings for the Society and will reduce the numerous volunteer hours needed to print, post, and mail.  Same great content just a more streamlined production so we can guarantee a timely delivery!

Our agenda for 2013 is ambitious. We have signed a contract with Arcadia Publishing to produce a photographic volume titled: Historic Stone Mountain Village.  The draft is due later this year so we can have the volume ready for the city’s 175Th celebration in 2014. To date, Gary Peet, Peggy Mills, George Ann Hoffman, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Wade, Walter Ogletree, Kim Cumbee, Tug Tuggle, Becky Sanders and Dot Guess, Rusty and Ann Hamby, George and Susan Colletti and Hugh and Betty Jordan have graciously allowed us to scan selections from their photographic collections.  We are very lucky as a community to have such great stewards of the city’s past. We are looking for views of the city, village life, the buildings (homes and on Main Street), stores, parades (Halloween and the Fourth), political leadership, changes, the mountain, childhood milestone events, and holiday traditions. For example, the great photograph at the top of the newsletter showing the interior of the depot's office was provided to us by Jack Ogletree.  It shows his grandfather, Walter Ogletree (on left), at work.   We want to show life in Stone Mountain.
We are also looking for copies of Stone Mountain Occasionally published in the late 1979s with Theodora Miller as editorGeorge Ann Hoffman kindly provided the Historical Society with Volume 1, Nos. 1, 2, and 4. This is an important resource providing information on photographs and the individuals shown.  If you have saved issues, please contact Mary Beth, or by phone 770-498-4155 ext 128.

A Great Place to Grow Up...

Gathering photos for our upcoming book has been rewarding on a number of levels. Following Mr. Sam Wade’s instructions, we contacted Jack Ogletree in Florida for a photographic series that captured his father’s military funeral procession down Main Street from Wages to the City Cemetery. Walter Ogletree, Jack’s father, lost his life in the line of duty during World War II.  Mr. Wade wisely recognized that the photographic series which once hung in the city's VFW hall, was important to our history and needed to be included. 
Jack Ogletree has graciously provided the Society with scans of these remarkable photos for our use but he also provided so much more on his recent visits.  He loved growing up in Stone Mountain and he came ready to tell us about it through tours, stories, and photographs. His love of place is the germ for a new section in our newsletter.  If there is one clear message that we have received from members of the Stone Mountain community it is that it was a great place to grow up. Each edition we will feature a personal account from a community member with photographs if possible that tells their story.

Historic Tree Inventory

Gary Peiffer and Averil Bonsall are leading the charge to identify and inventory the city’s historic or unusual trees, and create a tree walk accompanied by a brochure that narrates the history of our city from this very different and unique perspective. Trees are planted as memorials, other have important events associated with them, other are unique for their type, stature or lack of it.  Some just are associated with good stories.
The nominated tree should be located in the village or in close proximity. Community members can nominate trees that they consider historic and provide details, if known, about their planting on the provided form.  The form is posted on our website and is available for download.   Jim McCurdy is the frontrunner; he has nominated several on his family’s homeplace in the city.  Nan Nash has a great story about the noble magnolia on the gas station property on East Mountain Street we hope she will share.
Join in and let us know of trees in your yards, neighborhood, or on the way to work, that are in or in proximity to the city. This year’s deadline is May 15th.  Let’s get this important initiative off to a good start. Mark you calendar - Gary and Averil will present the results of the survey at our Third Thursday Meeting in June.

Upcoming Events

Fond Farewell to Lorene McCall, April 14, 3-5 pm, Wells Brown House, Kathryn Wright, Hostess.

Spring Program, April 25, 7:00 pm at SMMA Annex

We have invited Patrick Sullivan a historian and architectural historian with New South Associates to speak about the history of Atlanta’s streetcar systems.  Patrick received his M.A. in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University in 2007.  The history of the streetcar, or trolley, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is as large and as colorful as history gets.  Expansive, fast (for their time), noisy, and romantic, they were much loved by urban Georgians and other city residents throughout the country. Businesses, neighborhoods, recreational sites, and schools were tied into the new transportation system that provided movement to places people wanted or needed to go.  Social relations changed as they brought white and black riders into close contact within the Jim Crow South.  While the trackless trolley and personal automobile would bring an end to their use, funeral parties held in many cities honoring “last trolley rides” testified to their strong hold on the traveling public.

Spring Cleaning at Wells Brown House, April 27, 9:30 am until it's Clean! Everybody is Invited!

Pancake Breakfast, Wells Brown House, May 18th, 9:00 am

Wells Brown Azaleas for Sale

Beautiful three-year old heirloom azaleas from the historic Wells Brown gardens are available for sale at $15 a piece.  Carefully tended by the DeKalb County Master Gardeners, they will look stunning in your spring garden and will help the society to raise funds for the house gardens.  If you are interested, please email:

Shermantown Exhibit Coming!

Shermantown is a well-known location to Stone Mountain residents, but the history is not readily available to educate visitors. A few years ago, Naomi Thompson and Kerrie Anne Loyd curated an exhibit titled “Shermantown” and installed it in Stone Mountain Park’s Confederate Hall Historical and Environmental Education Center.  For three months, the exhibit was viewed by visitors from the Southeast and school children from Metro Atlanta. The exhibit consists of photos showing the churches and typical houses and views of Shermantown.  It highlights the jobs residents held and was originally curated with farm and quarry tools spread below the education panels.  Quotes from residents expressing their pride in Shermantown and discussing race relations in Stone Mountain are included on other panels.  For the last year, the exhibit was on display at the Georgia Perimeter College Dunwoody Campus library allowing numerous students to learn about this history. Stone Mountain Historic Society is excited to accept the donation of this exhibit from Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Visit this full exhibit that will soon be installed in the Wells-Brown House.


With Many Thanks

Ann Hamby was kind enough to donate a wonderful printer to the Society, a gift that will make our work so much easier.  It is a godsend as we move into the book project and we can’t thank her enough. Ann also needs to be thanked for her work at the Rock Gym Fundraiser.  From blowing up balloons to offering encouragement, she is a marvelous volunteer!
George Anne Hoffman donated a marvelous group of Stone Mountain Occasionally as well as a very important scrapbook that tells the history of the city’s revitalization efforts in the 1960s.  The before and after photos of the city’s historic buildings and the background information about the city groups involved with the effort in the scrapbook are very important to the city’s twentieth-century history. Thank you George Anne.

The Genealogy Library is growing.  Many thanks to Jan Knowles and Patricia Thomas-Trimm for their generous donations to our new genealogy library. Jan donated  a History of Franklin County, Georgia.  Patricia donated a number of books which belonged to her late husband.  I haven't catalogued her entire donation yet, but a quick glance through the three boxes she delivered, revealed lots of information on Clark and Oconee counties, and a Butts County marriages book.  A number of my ancestors lived in Butts County, so I'm especially anxious to sit down with that one and see what I can discover.
While our collection is growing, we're still looking for copies of books about Stone Mountain and DeKalb County.  On our wish list are Yesterday's Atlanta Vol. I by Franklin Garrett, Vanishing DeKalb Vols. I & II, published by our friends at the DeKalb History Center, and copies of Stone Mountain High School annuals (all years). We'd also welcome county histories from any Georgia county as well as marriage and cemetery books.  With your help we can build a genealogy library that will be an asset to our entire county.


2013 Officers and Board

Mary Beth Reed, President
Frank Luton, Membership 
Pat Miller, Programs
JoAnn Florence, Secretary
Kathryn Wright, Treasurer
Rusty Hamby, House Manager 
At Large Board Members:
Averil Bonsall, Keeper of the Gardens
Theresa Hamby, Curator
Michael Hidalgo, ART Station Liaison
Richard Mailman, Fundraising
Jim McCurdy, Community Relations
Gary Peiffer, Environment
Naomi Thompson, Website Manager

Wells-Brown House Committee:
Rusty Hamby, Chairman
Averil Bonsall, Gardens
Gary Peiffer, Gardens
Ann Hamby, House
Jim Bill McCurdy, House
Kathryn Wright, House
Theresa Hamby, Interpretive Displays and Collections
Pat Miller, Library

Welcome to New and Returning Members:
Marjorie Dunn
Jennifer Frame
Sam Corvin
Dee Devine
Bill Collins
Stone Mountain Coffee Roasters
Juanita Oglesby
Robert and Fritha Dinwiddie

Rock Gym Fundraiser Successful!

We were delighted with the turnout at the Dancing Through the Decades fundraiser at the Rock Gym in February.  Despite an incredibly cold night, folks danced, told stories, shared laughs, identified individuals in the photo exhibit, ate onion rings and hamburgers, and generally had fun.  Frank Luton, our wonderful DJ, got the crowd dancing.  The photos of the night (see below) tell the story! Everybody left saying let’s do it again and Peggy Mills has offered to help us with organizing next year’s dance. See you next February!

April Trivia Question

Who was Arthur Brownlee?  (Hint: Patrick Sullivan and David Thomas would probably know.)

January's Trivia Answer

The question for last month was:
Who was the only Georgian to serve on the Warren Commission, which investigated the assignation of President John F. Kennedy?
The answer:  Sen. Richard B. Russell.

Connie’s Chocolate Cream Pie

1 3-oz. package cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
⅓ cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
⅓ cup milk
8-oz container Cool Whip
8” or 9” graham cracker pie crust
Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a small mixing bowl until well blended. Add cocoa alternately with milk, beating until smooth. Gradually fold in Cool Whip until well combined. Spoon mixture into pie shell. Chill until firm, or freeze if you wish.
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