Join NCHS for a POSSUM SUPPER! NOW NOV. 8!
Join Newnan-Coweta Historical Society for an old-fashioned Possum Supper in the tradition of the longtime Newnan Possum Eaters Convention. Hear history of how Possum Suppers became a Newnan tradition starting during the political campaign of William Yates Atkinson for Governor of Georgia in the 1890s and how the possum became a mascot for President William Howard Taft. The tradition was continued by Newnan civic leaders at several locations into the 1950s and ’60s.
Our Old-Fashioned Possum Supper has been moved from the originally-planned Sept. 21 to WEDNESDAY, NOV. 8, 7:30 p.m. at the Depot, 60 E. Broad St., Newnan. Tickets, $25, available at McRitchie-Hollis Museum or on Eventbrite.com — Here is the link for the dinner details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nchs-old-fashioned-possum-supper-tickets-37657472514
Come see what’s new at the museum!
New Historical Exhibit!
Would you believe Newnan was once home to a “Possum Eaters’ Convention?” It’s true! Beginning in 1894, prominent politicians from all over the state would gather in Newnan, a few months prior to the official Democratic convention, to determine the slate of officials (including the governor, Supreme Court, and other high-ranking members) before a single vote was ever cast. Over plates of delectable home-grown possum and sweet ‘taters, back-room deals would be made as they merrily discussed agenda items such as “Our Friends, the Lawyers” and “Responsibilities of Citizenship.” It was at the Virginia House hotel on the Newnan square that Newnan’s own William Yates Atkinson was “appointed” governor by those gathered, and thus Georgia’s first “possum governor” went on to serve a successful two terms. Several other “possum governors” followed, anointed at these famed Possum Suppers, and eventually even the president-elect, William Howard Taft, had to get in on the act, making a special trip to Atlanta to feast on a Coweta County whole possum for good luck in his administration. (The affair was covered in all the national newspapers, leading to the creation of ‘Billy Possum” as a follow-up to Theodore Roosevelt’s ultra-successful “Teddy Bear” craze. Both the new “Billy Possum” toy and the new administration did not fare well, however.) A group of local fellows formed a civic club in 1912 specifically to keep the local possum-eating tradition alive — and they did, carrying it well into the mid-20th century, with local officials such as Sheriff Lamar Potts, County Commissioner Johnny Brown and many others getting in on the act. Come to the McRitchie-Hollis Museum to see one of the original invitations, and sit down with us at the dinner table for some good ol’ possum and ‘taters! (Special thanks to the McKoon family for use of period photographs.)
TombTales & ArtFest Oct. 14
Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s second annual fall tour event at McRitchie-Hollis Museum and Newnan’s historic Oak Hill Cemetery returns Oct. 14. Tickets for the TombTales & ArtFest history event are now available at McRitchie-Hollis Museum and online at Eventbrite.com.
Join NCHS as we tour at dusk through Newnan’s Historic Oak Hill Cemetery on a guided walk of select gravesites. Storytellers and guides captivate guests with lively, engaging tales while dancers, musicians and artists also contribute to this special event that celebrates living, history and the arts. Limited tickets available. Tours, $22 Adults / $11 Children 12 and under, start every 20 minutes from McRitchie-Hollis Museum, 74 Jackson St., Newnan. Refreshments. Not recommended for young children.
NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH:
Tony Harris returns to discuss the Cherokee and use of plants around them
Learn about native plants that were historically significant to the Cherokee people from a native plant expert at a program Nov. 2 at Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s Historic Train Depot. The program is free for members and $5 for non-members.
Tony Harris, a Cherokee tribal citizen, at the 7 p.m. talk will discuss ethnobotany: the scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses.
Harris, a Cobb County Master Gardener, has been instrumental in establishing the Cherokee Garden at Green Meadows Preserve in an effort to educate the community about the native plants that were important to the Cherokee — about 600 plants were used for medicine, food, weapons, crafts, lodging, canoes and basketry.
A number of the plants were thought to have medicinal properties and the Cherokee would steep or boil them into a tea, infusion or poultice.
Bloodroot, for example, can be made into a poultice that keeps away flies and bees. Mayapple, also called Indian Apple, is a cathartic that can induce vomiting. It also will cure worms, but care must be taken. The roots and leaves are poisonous. Wild ginger, called “mules footprint” for the shape of its leaves, was used in almost half of Cherokee medicines. It was frequently taken as a tonic to bolster endurance before harvest work began. Willow bark is the forerunner of aspirin.
Wild onions, of the allium family, are just plain tasty additions to eggs and soups and are especially valuable in removing the gamey taste of wild meat. They were used by the Cherokee as a tonic to cleanse their systems, ease colic and croup, and lessen the effects of colds and sore throats. To this day Oklahoma celebrates them in an annual Wild Onion Festival. Another tasty plant is the sunchoke or Jerusalem artichoke. Harris recommends eating the tubers as you would potatoes, and he defies anyone to tell the difference in taste or texture between sunchokes and water chestnuts.
Also useful for colds and flu, rabbit tobacco, or Sweet Everlasting — and not a tobacco — is an even better astringent than witch hazel. (If you don’t happen to have a cold, it doubles as a room air freshener!) Nicotiana rustica, unlike the rabbit tobacco farm children liked to “smoke,” is so highly narcotic that it is forbidden, having a nicotine content as high as 9 percent, compared to tobacco’s 1 percent.
Historically, the Cherokee nation was decimated twice by smallpox. An infusion of the inner bark of the black walnut tree was developed as an antidote. Too, it could be chewed for toothache — but carefully. The black walnut can be poisonous and, in fact, limits what can be planted near it. But the tree is worth cultivation: the leaves make a green dye and the husks, brown. An infusion of those same husks can be spread in the water to stun fish for easy catching.
Rattlesnake master does exactly what it says: it repels snakes and can be used as a snakebite remedy. Chew it, apply to the wound, and swallow a bit. It is said to inhibit cancer as well. Also used for snakebite was cinnamon fern, which can additionally be used to ease arthritis. Fiddleheads can be cooked as a dish that Harris says tastes like a combination of broccoli, asparagus and artichoke.
The Cherokee Garden at Green Meadows Preserve in Cobb County was dedicated several years ago and is a site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The garden, which is open to the public, was the brainchild of Tony and Carra Harris of Marietta.
Tony Harris is a Cherokee Nation citizen, a member of the Cobb County Master Gardeners and vice president of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association.
The garden features plants and trees that the Cherokee used for medicine, food, tools, weapons, shelter and ceremonial purposes prior to the Trail of Tears. The plants will eventually be marked with their Cherokee and English names. Volunteers from the Cobb County Master Gardeners and members of the Georgia Native Plant Society maintain the property.
Green Meadows Preserve is part of the Cobb County Parks System. It is located at 3780 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs, Ga. The park is free and open to the public. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-425-2411.
- Simple Pleasures Fall Photography Show returns for 2017 to McRitchie-Hollis Museum. The juried collection of images selected from among this year’s entries will be hung for display in early September. The awards reception, with museum admission that afternoon free to the public, will be 3 p.m. Saturday, September 30 at McRitchie-Hollis. Come meet these talented photographers and hear observations from our returning judge, renowned Newnan-based photographer Billy Newman.
- 45 Years, 45 Objects — In Fall 2017 NCHS will be celebrating a big anniversary with a special exhibition telling Coweta County history through objects. We plan to show 45 objects, either from our collection or loaned for this exhibition, which opens in October. If you have an idea of an object you would like to see displayed, call us at 770-251-0207 or send an email to email@example.com .
- Native American Plants — Tony Harris, an expert on Native American plants, makes a return visit to Newnan to share his knowledge. His previous program at McRitchie-Hollis Museum was well-received. He returns for a program at the Newnan Train Depot 7 p.m. Nov. 2 in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month. Learn how Native Americans used the plants around them for food and healing. Admission is free for NCHS members/ $5 for non-members.
For more information stop by McRitchie-Hollis at 74 Jackson Street or call us at 770-251-0207. We keep our web site here at www.newnancowetahistoricalsociety updated, as well as regular posts on our Facebook page.