Top human interest stories highlight Bartow's history, museums, personal achievements
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 27, 2012 | 3246 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Top Human Interest Stories
Cartersville Police Department Chief of Police Thomas Culpepper, center, fires a cannon on the grounds of the Booth Western Art Museum during one of the 2012 events marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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From heritage organizations commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase to the arrival of the “Devil’s Knot” movie production crew, 2012 presented Bartow residents and organizations with a host of memorable moments. Ranked by the newsroom of The Daily Tribune News, some of the top human interest stories are listed below in no particular order.

Bartow commemorates 150th anniversary of the Civil War

For the Etowah Valley Historical Society and other heritage organizations, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is providing residents and tourists an opportunity to revisit Bartow’s history. While this year’s observances centered on the Great Locomotive Chase, tourism experts and event organizers believe all of the county’s Civil War-related events and attractions will see an influx in interest and heritage travelers through 2015.

A part of Bartow County’s “Heart of the Chase” programs — a term that was coined by EVHS member Joe Head — the offerings highlighted Bartow’s role in the chase in which civilian spy James Andrews and his Union accomplices tried to disrupt a key supply line of the Confederacy on April 12, 1862. After stealing the General locomotive at Big Shanty [modern day Kennesaw], they planned to destroy the Western & Atlantic Railroad’s tracks and telegraph lines en route to Chattanooga, Tenn. Their plan was spoiled, however, when a southbound freight train pulled by the Texas locomotive decided to help pursue the General, traveling in reverse from south of Adairsville to catch Andrews near Ringgold.

Some of the organized events included Kingston highlighting the contributions of the town’s former railroad depot agent Uriah Stephens and a walking tour of Allatoona Pass, both in April, and the Heart of the Chase bus tour June 9, which gave attendees insight into Bartow County’s role in the Great Locomotive Chase.

Presented by Bartow History Museum, Cartersville-Bartow Convention & Visitors Bureau and EVHS, the tour retraced the chase’s route through Bartow, making stops at Allatoona Pass, Cooper’s Furnace, Emerson, Cartersville, Kingston and Adairsville.

“Have you ever heard people say in communities, ‘Well you know I’ve lived there all my life and I’ve never been over to see that museum, I’ve lived there all my life and I’ve always heard about that old house and I’ve never gone to look at it?’” Head, the event’s historian and tour guide, told The Daily Tribune News in May. “What I think this tour does is that it offers Bartow County, or people beyond Bartow County, the opportunity to come together and see these sites that we talk about but they never go and look at. ... [The bus tour is] going to be, of course, the route within Bartow County, the boundaries of Bartow County, but it will illustrate the accumulation of events that occurred in Bartow County that makes Bartow County the geography of where the most activity took place of all the counties that was covered.

“[Of] the five counties, Bartow County had more rich activity and sites and events of any other,” he said, referring to more than 40 percent of the chase taking place in Bartow. “So it’s going to point out all those places. I hope [the participants gain] some pride and awareness. Bartow County should own a greater stake in that story. We have some bragging rights and I would hope a participant, or one who might attend it, would go tell others and say, ‘Hey, this chase, this story, belongs to Bartow more than we’ve ever known.”

‘Devil’s Knot’ films in Cartersville

During the summer, area residents caught glimpses of Hollywood stars, such as Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, as “Devil’s Knot” filmed its courtroom scenes in the 1903 Bartow County Courthouse.

“It was neat to be able to film here, to be here for two weeks,” Beau Turpin told The Daily Tribune News — on behalf of the film’s producers — in July. “I would absolutely suggest that other people film here. It was a very warm community, very accessible.

“Everything you need to make a film happen [is here]. You have office stores, you have hotels, you have restaurants, you have friendly people and the hotels are close. All the things that you would need to get done are here and accessible. So it’s definitely been a very good experience for all.”

Set for release in 2013, the film is based on investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s book “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three.”

Following the 1993 murders of three children in Arkansas, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. — who became known as the West Memphis Three — were convicted, with Echols receiving the death sentence. The book explores the lack of evidence surrounding the case and points toward a victim’s stepfather as having a possible tie to the murders.

The real-life case, which also inspired HBO’s “Paradise Lost” documentaries, resulted in the release of Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley in 2011 after spending 18 years in prison. Directed by Atom Egoyan, the movie features Firth as private investigator Ron Lax and Witherspoon as the mother of one of the victims.

Georgia Museum Inc. venues net four awards

At the Georgia Association of Museums & Galleries’ annual conference, Georgia Museums Inc.’s entities were recognized, with the Bartow History Museum and Tellus Science Museum winning four of the 11 possible award categories.

With its award reading “for preserving the 1869 Courthouse and redesigning the exhibits to vibrantly depict the story of Bartow County and northwest Georgia,” the Bartow History Museum — which also celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 — was named the Institution of the Year.

“We’re just very excited to be recognized by the state association and our peers,” BHM Director Trey Gaines told The Daily Tribune News in January. “A lot of hard work and time and effort went into the project to move the museum and redesign the exhibits. [So] we’re excited to be awarded this honor.

“It’s been a dream for many years for the museum to be in the 1869 Courthouse. So to finally be here, we’re very excited [and] we’ve had a great first year here, lots of great comments from visitors and good reception at programs. Being in this building has allowed us to do all of our programming in the museum. It’s also allowed us to have larger exhibits, larger programs. And the building itself, I think, is a draw and attraction for people. The building itself is very much a part of our history.”

During the awards luncheon, Tellus Science Museum also won three accolades: Museum Volunteer Award, Patron Award and Business/Corporation Award.

Among those recognized were John Trimble, Museum Volunteer Award, for designing and installing Tellus’ mineral exhibit cases; Martin Zinn Expositions LLC, Business/Corporation Award, for its donation of more than 200 high-quality mineral specimens over the past four years; and the McNitt family, Patron Award.

Gilbert nets top-10 finish in America’s DYW

Mary-Clayton Gilbert captured a top-10 finish in the America’s Distinguished Young Women National Finals June 30. The Cartersville resident’s performance was the best any local representative has delivered since Mary Jon Bradley Garrison was named first runner-up in 1958’s national competition.

Starting her journey with the Distinguished Young Women program by winning Bartow County’s title in February 2011, Gilbert expressed her appreciation for the community’s ongoing support of her efforts.

“I have just been so overwhelmed with how supportive and encouraging my community has been throughout the whole process and year,” Gilbert told The Daily Tribune News in July. “Its been amazing receiving all the letters and the people who came out for my send-off party before I left and all the messages I’ve been receiving on my phone and through Facebook. So thank you to everyone, who has just really been on my side and cheering me on, because it definitely helped me along the way.”

At the 55th annual America’s DYW National Finals at the Mobile Civic Center Theater in Mobile, Ala., she and the other contestants were evaluated in the areas of fitness (15 percent of overall score), interview (25 percent), scholastics (20 percent), self-expression (15 percent) and talent (25 percent).

Formerly known as America’s Junior Miss scholarship program, America’s DYW dispersed more than $130,000 in cash scholarships at the national contest. Gilbert’s performance netted her a $2,500 cash scholarship, which increased her overall winnings to about $10,000.

Following in Gilbert’s footsteps, Avian Brown will be the next Distinguished Young Woman of Bartow County to advance to the national level. With her win in July, Brown became the third straight Bartow County representative — the fifth since 1958 — to claim the state title.

Cartersville cattleman becomes 50th recipient of Farm Family award

Known to many in the Sugar Valley community for his friendship and farming knowledge, Cliff Martin was honored for his contributions to the local agriculture industry April 10. At 85, the Cartersville resident became the 50th recipient of the Bartow County Farm Family award, which has been presented to the owners of “family farms” since 1962.

“The significance of [the banquet is] that we honor a family who has supported the community and been a part of it and still [is] carrying on the agriculture traditions in the county,” Bartow County Farm Bureau President Dean Bagwell told The Daily Tribune News in April. “... [Cliff Martin] has been around helping in the cattle business for a number of years. He’s helped some of the local farmers get started in their operations, giving them advice and that kind of stuff. More or less though, he’s just been very supportive of somebody that’s wanted to get in [this line of work].”

Born into a farming family, Martin was employed at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., earning 75 cents an hour, when he returned from World War II. After 18 months of working the third shift, he suddenly got the urge to follow in his father’s footsteps trading cattle when his cow netted a sizable price.

In the business for about 60 years, Martin has built an annual 3,000 feeder cattle operation that spans several farms, totaling more than 300 acres. Until he officially retired at 70, he took an active role in his business, caring for the livestock and going to sales five or six days a week. Today, Martin oversees the operation, with others tending to his cattle, which are purchased in the spring, then sold in the fall when they are 200 to 300 pounds heavier.

Held at Barbecue Street of Cartersville, the 50th Bartow County Farm Family Banquet was sponsored by Ag Georgia Farm Credit and John Carroll in cooperation with the Bartow County Farm Bureau and Bartow County Extension Service. As is tradition, Martin was selected by the award’s past three recipients — the families of Jacob Jones, Mark Floyd and Talmadge Hollaran.