As director -- and sole employee -- of the Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum, Holloway is curator, marketer, educator and administrator of the small, north Georgia museum, drawing visitors from around the world.
With a passion for the past, Holloway works to inspire others and teach a new generation about the history that shaped Adairsville and the surrounding area. From the everyday activities of antebellum residents to locomotive advances and the birth of the local textile trade, Holloway and the Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum strive to relay Adairsville's storied past.
Located in the Adairsville Rail Depot and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum and city welcome center are open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission is free. For more information, visit www.adairsvilledepot.com.
Name: Jerri Holloway
Occupation/Organization: Director of the Adairsville Rail Depot Age of Steam Museum
Education: Cass High School graduate, two years vocational school.
Family: I've been married to Timothy Holloway of Adairsville for 33 years. We have three children: Timothy John, Jerry Ben, and Megan.
City of Residence: I'm afraid I have no real "city of residence." I had the good fortune to be raised on a country back road in the Folsom/Pine Log area, and still live there today.
Age: 10 at heart, 60 in body, and 150 (at least) in mind
Adairsville will soon commemorate the 150th anniversary of the great locomotive chase, celebrated annually with a Great Locomotive Chase Festival and bears an image of the Texas steam locomotive on its city seal. How did a few hours in April 1862 impact Adairsville so significantly?
A. Though Adairsville has been home to several famous people, was once considered the terminus of the W&A Railroad, termed the "Peach center of the world" and "the granary of the state," surely the most historically significant event she has witnessed was the Great Locomotive Chase (Andrews' Raid). Had this mission been successful, there can be no doubt that the face of Civil War history would have been seriously different. Adairsville was right in the middle of it as it was here that the engine, the Texas, joined the chase to recover the stolen train, foiling "the most daring espionage attempt of the Civil War."
How did your interest in history begin?
A. My granddad was from the "old school," he never owned a motorized anything ... no tractor (he used mules), no power tools just hand tools some of which had belonged to his dad. When I was little, I loved to follow him around and watch how he raised cotton for a living and kept a farm running without all the modern inconveniences. He even occasionally let us kids help him pull the crosscut saw, or let us ride the drag behind the mules. I credit him totally with my love of history, as well as many wonderful memories of childhood.
How do you feel history education benefits us today?
A. There are two quotes that I hold dear and tell my listeners: "If you don't know where you've come from, you can't know where you're going." and "He who cannot remember the past is condemned to repeat it." We did not come into this world in a vacuum. There were others who came before us, paved the way for our blessings, our successes. We need to know what they did, how they did it, and why, so we don't have to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak. We can go forward with the knowledge already gained from their experiences, and hopefully not repeat their mistakes.
I understand you have worked to advance the city's online presence. Have you seen a response to Adairsville's website from tourists?
A. Yes. We get folks from all over the world here at the museum. Many of them tell me that they first found Adairsville online, either at the city website, the Welcome Center site, or the museum site. One gentleman called me from England to say that he and his grandson were coming to America for the first time and had done online research to find just the right places to go. Adairsville was one of the places they definitely intended to visit. He said it was our combination of location, Civil War and locomotive history that had caught their attention.
What would you consider your greatest personal or professional achievement?
A. My greatest personal achievement is raising three great kids, not an easy task in this day and time. I believe my greatest professional achievement is the progress made here at the museum in the past six years. We've come from one room with very little in it to a building full of interesting artifacts, thanks mostly to the kind and generous citizens of the area. Watching the museum grow has been a great joy to me.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
A. That I am Cherokee, by heritage and in spirit.
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A. In the pasture behind my mama's house, with my kids and siblings, taking target practice with our family's many and varied firearms.
What is the best advice you have received?
A. "Never whittle towards you, and don't spit against the wind." If you think about it, that pretty well covers most things: if you're going to do a job, do it right the first time; take no foolish chances; devote your efforts to things worthwhile; and if you absolutely must spit, wait until the wind dies down.
If you were not in this line of work, what would you like to do?
A. Law enforcement. I worked at it, as a certified officer, for close to 10 years total. There is nothing like the feeling of being able to help someone in need.