History takes center stage with Saturday events

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Referred to as a “beautiful, historic treasure,” the pre-Civil War Stilesboro Academy will take center stage during the 106th annual Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show. Set for Saturday, the flower offering will be one of many events transpiring across Bartow.

From the late 1850s through the late 1930s, Stilesboro Academy served as a school for children in the first through 12th grades. When the Bartow County School System wanted to close Stilesboro Academy, the club paid what the lumber was worth and, in turn, received the deed for the school in 1939. According to local legend, Union Gen. William T. Sherman spared the academy on his march through Georgia due to the motto of West Point — his alma mater — being inscribed inside the building.

“It’s certainly the best time of the year to see [Stilesboro Academy], because it’s never prettier than when it’s all dressed up full of big ole trees — pine and cedar — and smilax,” said Stilesboro Improvement Club long-time member Ann Mascia “... It’s a beautiful, historic treasure that Bartow County is lucky to possess.

“Very few of them exist in this part of the country. Most of them were burned down by Sherman’s troops when they came through or just fell apart due to lack of interest by the communities where they existed.”

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show will be presented at the former academy on Taff Road, 8 miles west of Cartersville. During the event, which will feature the theme O Beautiful Garden, the public will be able to view the annual contest in which club members enter chrysanthemums in a host of competition categories.

Started in 1912, the event is regarded as the oldest chrysanthemum show in Georgia. The offering continues to generate funds for the Stilesboro Improvement Club, which is charged with maintaining the academy.

“Miss Campie Hawkins saw the big exhibition-style mums grown in the garden of a lady in the community, and she decided that it would be a wonderful project for the [improvement club] members,” said Mascia, referring to her great-aunt. “... [They could] grow the mums and have a flower show as a fundraising project to raise money to help support the needs of the Stilesboro Academy. At that time, it was still being used as a school.

“... She got plants from the lady and raised them in her garden. Then, the next year, when they were fruitful, she invited the club to a tea at her home and showed off the blossoms and convinced them to move forward with plans to raise them themselves.”

Admission to the event will be $2 per person. For a minimal cost, the public also will be able to partake in an a la carte lunch in the Tea Room, featuring homemade Brunswick stew, chicken salad, congealed salad and desserts.

For more information about the Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show, call 770-546-6469.

As of Thursday afternoon, six other events are posted on the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website, VisitCartersvilleGA.org, for Saturday: Old Cassville Cemetery Luminaries at Cassville Cemetery on Chunn Facin Road in Cartersville, starts at dusk around 5 p.m., no admission, www.cassvillehistoricalsociety.com or 678-800-3214; Barnsley Resort Golf Invitational at Barnsley Resort, 597 Barnsley Gardens Road in Adairsville, 770-773-2555; Christmas Village at Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 Ga. State Route 20 in Cartersville, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., $5, www.facebook.com/ChristmasVillageCartersville; Pine Mountain Moonlight Hikes at Pine Mountain Recreation Area’s west trailhead, 6:30 p.m., free, www.cityofcartersville.org/459/Pine-Mountain-Hikes or 770-387-5626 ; Nighttime Hayrides and Storytelling at Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, 813 Indian Mound Road in Cartersville, $5, http://gastateparks.org/EtowahIndianMounds or 770-387-3747; “The Lion King Jr.” presented by The Grand Youth Theatre at The Grand Theatre, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville, 7 p.m., $14 for adults and $9 for students 18 and younger, http://thegrandtheatre.org or 770-386-7343.

Presented by the Cassville Historical Society, the Old Cassville Cemetery Luminaries program will commemorate the 1860s burning of Cassville by Union forces. Open and free to the public, the event will feature about 500 luminaries, a bonfire and refreshments.

Incorporated in the early 1830s, Cassville became the most prominent town in northwest Georgia, featuring a courthouse, businesses, hotels and two colleges. While Cassville was under Union occupation since May 1864, it was not destroyed by the 5th Ohio Regiment until Nov. 5. Only three churches and three residences remained, some of which were serving as makeshift hospitals.

“[The 5th Ohio Cavalry] had already been to Canton and burned Canton, then they had orders to go to Cassville and do the same,” Cassville Historical Society President Dale Black said. “They gave the people 20 minutes to get everything out of their house that they could. Then, they started setting fire. They burned everything in the town, except for the three churches, which [are] the Baptist, the Methodist and Presbyterian, ... and three houses.

“It was cold [and] rainy that day. People didn’t have nowhere to go after they burned it. A lot of people had already left the town, so a lot of these houses were empty. But, the people that were there, they found refuge in the cemetery or just around where their house was because they had to guard their belongings. ... And, after that, they said Cassville had headstones in town, because ... all that was left standing was the chimneys.”