Published Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The Newnan Times-Herald
A group of local citizens are making plans for Coweta County's observance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War -- starting next year and continuing through 2014.
Jan Bowyer, who chairs the committee, met with most of her committee on Monday in the recently restored courtroom of the Coweta County Courthouse. The committee's first event, a talk by historian Dr. Gordon Jones, will be held in the courtroom on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
"He is going to set the stage. He's going to tell what was going on 1860," Bowyer said. She said Jones will touch on both national and state issues and trends that were taking place as the stage was set for war.
The logo for the event includes several Civil War symbols but features a nurse from the period standing in front of an antebellum home. "Newnan was known as a hospital town," Bowyer noted.
The theme for the celebration -- also on the logo -- is "County of Hope -- City of Healing." Military hospitals were located in large buildings in Newnan including homes, business structures, churches and the buildings at College Temple, a women's college not far from downtown.
Bowyer noted the medical arts have been a focus in Coweta County since that time, leading to today's plans for a new Piedmont Newnan Hospital facility and for a Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital.
"Hope is something that we've always had," Bowyer added.
Throughout the four-year period, the focus will be on education. Bowyer said she hopes to involve all the schools in the process, and committee members are planning a range of programs including lectures and re-enactments.
Don Nixon, director of the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts, is a member of the committee, and art and music programs that fit with the observance are being scheduled. Natasha Trethewey, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, will share some of her poetry on Jan. 6.
On Feb. 29 and March 1, the Centre will be the location for "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," presented by American Place Theatre from New York City. A summer musical with a Civil War theme is planned, and local artist Martin Pate -- who has created several murals about the Civil War in Coweta County, as well as other historical paintings -- will have an exhibit at the Centre in 2011.
Each year of the celebration with have a theme within the overall focus of the committee's plans. The 2011 theme is "Voices From the South."
For 2012, the theme will be "Focus on Medicine Through Education." Surgical techniques and lessons learned from the war and the state of medicine and medical equipment in the 1860s -- and their connections to today -- will be topics.
"Really setting the stage for the school age children" will be a goal, Bowyer said.
"War in Newnan/Coweta" will be the 2013 theme. Topics will range from generals and local soldiers to fashions of Southern women. Art exhibits are being considered, and organizers hope to have displays to local heirlooms and silver treasures as well as war artifacts.
The war came to Coweta County in full force with the Battle of Brown's Mill in 1864. Part of the battlefield -- located along Millard Farmer Road south of Newnan -- is being preserved. "An authentic re-enactment" on the actual site is being planned for July 2014, Bowyer said. There will again be a medical focus with re-enactments of medical units. An instrumental concert, "The Victory of Brown's Mill," is also on the planning calendar.
Bowyer has already talked about the plans for the 150th anniversary at a meeting of White Oak Golden K, and she already has several other groups on her calendar. Fliers have been printed, a website has been prepared and committee members are looking for other ways to let people in -- and beyond -- Coweta County know what will be happening during the next four years.
"I want people to know," Bowyer said.
The committee started meeting in March. Bowyer said it was decided early in the process that the plans needed to include events "that bring people into the community -- as well as local people."
Initially, the group looked at just having events in 2011, which marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the war. As discussions continued, however, it was agreed that the project was too big for that time frame.
State, national and patriotic groups are planning events that will run throughout the sesquicentennial period.
Raising funds will be part of keeping the project going. The Newnan-Coweta Historical Society has designated $1,000 to get things started. "We will need some funds," Bowyer said.
Members of the committee from the education community are Nixon; Donald White, the local school system's science content specialist; Scott Zachry, teacher, Evans Middle School; and Carolyn Turner, retired teacher. Members with medical credentials are Dr. Fred Gilbert, local physician, and two nurses, Carol Healy and Jane Rohan, a nurse educator.
From the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society are Bowyer, Healy, Pamela Prange, Dorothy Pope and Tom Redwine. Redwine also represents the Sons of the Confederacy.
Willie Boyd, a retired military officer, presents the military. Other groups represented include Coweta County Visitors Centers, Pam Mayer, Mike Barber; Powers' Crossroads, Barber; Georgia Humanities Council, Arden Williams; and Friends of the Carnegie, Lauren Jones.
Catherine Cage is overseeing publicity for the events, and Pate -- who designed the logo -- is an honorary member of the group.. Patricia Palmer and Gina Snider, public information officers -- respectively -- for the county and city, are also working with the committee.