Issue 13.21 | Tuesday, June 18, 2013
GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
SUGAR HILL, Ga., June 18, 2013 Most people avoid cemeteries at all costs; not Michael Henderson. Like many family history researchers, he gravitates to them, curious about the lives of those who lived centuries ago. This curiosity is what got him started down the path of researching his roots and eventually discovering an ancestor who helped secure Americas independence from the British during the Revolutionary War.
Henderson, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, who now resides in Sugar Hill, says: Ancestors want to be found. They often leave evidence of their existence in documents, photographs, and even on headstones.
His affinity for genealogy research occurred over time, spurred by his many visits to his hometown during military leave periods when he served in the United States Navy.
I would visit the French Quarter [in New Orleans] and have flashbacks of what the area must have been like in the 18th and 19th centuries, Henderson recalls. I wondered whether I had ancestors who lived there, but was told by my mother that all of our people lived in the country.
As his research continued, a conversation with a distant cousin opened a genealogical can of worms, and Henderson was off on what would become a nearly 30-year journey to discover his Louisiana Creole ancestry. Now a retired Naval lieutenant commander, Henderson has written a memoir about some of his findings, GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation. The title says it all. The focus of my research has been finding documents to prove the family lore and uncover answers to the mysteries that have been kept secret and hidden for so long.
In GOT PROOF! Henderson takes readers on his genealogical journey which led him to discover the 1779 manumission, or freedom papers, of a woman named Agnes. With the assistance of a third party, Agnes engaged in a year-long court battle to gain her freedom, which she eventually won on December 16, 1779. Agnes is Hendersons fourth-generation great-grandmother. As Henderson discovered, the third party who assisted Agnes in her quest for freedom is his fourth-generation great-grandfather, a Frenchman named Mathieu Devaux. Although unable to marry because of the laws of the day, the two maintained a 31-year relationship and produced seven children, who were all born free prior to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
As it turned out, Devaux served as an artilleryman under the Spanish general Bernardo de Galvez, who led troops to major victories in the Battle of Baton Rouge, the Siege of Natchez, the Battle of Mobile, and the Siege of Pensacola. Finding proof of his ancestors service led Henderson to apply for membership into the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution. In 2010, he became the first African American in Georgia inducted into the male lineage society. Two years after his induction, Henderson was elected president of the Button Gwinnett Chapter of the SAR and to this day he remains the only African American SAR member in Georgia.
That same year, the story of Agnes and Mathieu caught the attention of the PBS series History Detectives. The segment, titled The Galvez Papers, explores Hendersons quest to determine whether the signature of Bernardo de Galvez on Agnes manumission document is authentic. In my travels, I meet people from many backgrounds, some who dont believe they could ever prove their ancestral link to American history. I suggest they dig deep and find proof to connect their ancestors to the rich history of this country. We all have a part to play in the narrative of America.
JUNE 18, 2013 If theres one element of Gwinnett County government that the taxpayers of the county thoroughly support, its the Gwinnett County Public Library System.
Not only do the residents feel strongly about their system, the 15 libraries of the county system are in continual use, most crowded during their hours of operation. Especially when school is not in session, its sometimes difficult to find an open seat at a computer of the system.
The library system has been popular with Gwinnett residents for many years, because of good services and good leadership. Its residents know the value of and demand a good library. Back in 1986, in a bond referendum when there was a proposal to construct eight libraries, local citizens supported libraries by a higher percent than they approved a new road program. Many gave the library patrons credit for not only voting for new libraries, but also for insuring that the bond issue for the road program was won. Library enthusiasts had worked hard to get out the vote on that bond issue.
Meanwhile, county residents have seen the libraries grow both in number of locations, into wider offerings of the services it provides its patrons, and in circulation of books. The county had the highest library circulation in Georgia in 2012, over 7.1 million books, eMedia and audiobooks. More than three million persons visited a library branch in 2012, while its website visits were nearly six million. The system in 2012 had 310,570 library card holders, including 6,803 new cardholders. (How many libraries anywhere have 6,803 new cardholders in any year?)
The current library board consists of Dick Goodman as chairman, nominated by Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash; Betty Atkinson, vice chairman, appointed by John Heard; Babs Wagoner, nominated by Jace Brooks; Suzanne Skeen, nominated by Lynette Howard; and Deborah Oscarson, nominated by Tommy Hunter.
Library funding has been flat for the last three years. Meanwhile, the library, with continued growth in circulation, has reframed its operating hours, and taken other steps to cut costs. Its had to because of the lack of additional funding.
For instance, for the past three years, Beth Horacek of the Gwinnett Finance Department and Dick Goodman of the library board tell us that the library funding from the county has been:
the two systems have different fiscal years, you can see that since 2010,
the county contribution to the library system is approximately $2 million
less than in the previous three years.
Today the library operates with 314 full and part time employees at its 15 branches (plus operates the library at Georgia Gwinnett College.)
It was something of a surprise to most residents when the current Library Board took action not to renew the contract of the current library director. The Board said it wanted new leadership, noting, in the words of Dick Goodman, that the immediate professional staff know their job, are committed to serve and do so well. The library patrons will not notice any difference in operations.
Goodman adds: We live in unusual times, and to some degree in a changing environment. We will try to be more focused and accountable on how we spend money. With monies limited, part of the challenge is how to develop an operational service business model which is appropriate, affordable and sustainable.
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Hayes Family Dealerships with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. Mike, Tim and Ted Hayes of Lawrenceville and Gainesville with Terry Hayes of Baldwin and Stan Roberts of Toccoa invite you into their showrooms to look over their line-up of automobiles and trucks. Hayes has been in the automotive business for over 40 years, and is North Georgia's oldest family-owned dealerships. The family is the winner of the 2002 Georgia Family Business of the Year Award. Check their web sites at: www.hayeschrysler.com or www.hayeschevrolet.com or www.hayesgmcars.com.
Editor, the Forum:
There have been many letters as well as your article reporting on the new way to collect taxes on automobiles in the Forum. While I am neither for nor against the new system (and recently purchased a brand new car, the first time I have purchased a "new" vehicle in 15 years), I am surprised by how most people applaud the old tax or describe it as working well.
I understand the fairness issue and the inconsistencies in the new law...but the point is NOT whether it is working well. The point that everyone seems to be overlooking is that this is yet another burden placed on us by our government's insatiable quest for more of our income! Rather than modifying it to curry favor with voters by trying to be more fair and equitable the government should be seeking ways to streamline and "do more with less" (as every other private sector entity has had to do in recent years) and repeal the tax altogether.
Good news and bad news out of Boston
Editor, the Forum:
The good news: New Englands football team had signed Tim Tebow to a contract.
The bad news: since the team is called Patriots, he is now going to be audited by the IRS.
The soul-satisfying sounds of saxophonist and national recording artist Eric Thomas are coming to Historic Norcross on June 29 for the citys first Jazz in the Alley event.
Staged in Norcross recently renovated Skin Alley, visitors are invited to bring chairs and set-up along the alleyway that backs the downtown's 100+ year old retail strip where several blacksmith shops were located in the early 1900s. Coolers are welcome, with dinners-to-go offered by local restaurants. At 7 p.m., Thomas and his band Elevate the Quest take the stage for a free, two-hour concert.
Having performed nationally, with his singles aired on jazz stations as far away as the the United Kingdom, Thomas is a most sought-after musician. His sound is described as having a touch of Hip Hop draped with a dash of soul. In every city he has played, he has left the audience with, When is he coming back?
is located behind the main street storefronts that line South Peachtree
Street in Norcross. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring their own chairs
and set up for the evening along Skin Alley.
Duluth's Red Clay Theatre plans Summer Pop Fest on June 23
Concert promoter Eddie Owen, who is known for booking acoustic singer-songwriter shows, will host a Summer Pop Fest on Sunday, June 23, at 4 p. m. at the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth. Billed as an All Ages Show, this concert will feature full band performances from three pop artists in Atlanta: Mathai, Norwood and Riley Biederer, with a Special Guest performance by Sandra Grimaldi-Cauley, Mrs. Georgia United States 2013.
to be featuring is The Susan Chambers Dance Company, Duluths Got
Talent Winners: Megan Zazeski, Kaitlin Marcelo, Shannen Dumadag and Duluth
Idol 2012: Nailah. Tickets start at $10 and are on sale now at www.eddieowenpresents.com.
Riley: the first thing you notice about this Atlanta-raised singer/songwriter is how self-assured she is at 16. Riley was presented the 2012 Bill Lowery Horizon Award by the Friends of Georgia Music and the Georgia Senate Music Industry Committee. Riley continues to write and record in Atlanta, Nashville, New York and Los Angeles for her forthcoming debut album. For details, visit www.rileysmusic.com.
Red Clay Theatre is a 257-seat theatre style seat listening room at 3116 Main Street in Duluth. This venue features a full stage with state of the art sound, 750 free parking spaces and nearby restaurants..
Duluth market to last from June 29 through Oct. 12
Designed to be a central town market, The Market at Duluth will serve to be a place for local finds, whether homemade, homegrown, refurbished recycled, or new! It will be located on the top tiers of the Town Green.
The Market will be open four times a month on the second and last Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. and second and last Saturday of every month beginning on June 29 through October 12 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Anyone interested in being a vendor at the market should visit the website at www.duluthga.net.
Fitch Ratings has affirmed the City of Suwanee's AA+ general obligation bond rating, having determined that the City "has a solid history of conservative budgeting, and its consistently strong reserve levels are evidence of prudent financial management."
Fitch completed a review of the City of Suwanee's finances and released its rating confirmation, along with a "stable" rating outlook on June 12.
Suwanee Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar says: "A double-A-plus for an organization and community of our size is a really strong rating. We're proud that our strong, conservative practices, policies, and forecasting have been so recognized by Fitch Ratings."
Fitch's news release states that Suwanee's "conservative budgeting practices, consistent operating results, maintenance of reserves above policy levels, and detailed financial monitoring and forecasting reinforce the City's financial flexibility and strong financial performance."
The City of Suwanee holds $19.6 million in general obligation and revenue bonds. These funds were used to fund the acquisition of greenspace and development of parks through Suwanee's award-winning open space initiative as well as for construction of City Hall, which opened at Town Center in 2009.
Fitch found the City's debt level to be "moderate" and noted that it is expected to decline as the City has limited infrastructure demands and no additional long-term borrowing plans.
Other factors considered by Fitch in its rating review include:
Gwinnett Medical Center gains AMA Achievement Award
Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) has received the American Heart Associations Mission: Lifeline® Silver Receiving Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes GMCs commitment and success in implementing an exceptional standard of care for heart attack patients.
GMC President and CEO Phil Wolfe says: With our full continuum of cardiac care beginning even before a patient arrives in our emergency department and continuing throughout the Strickland Heart Center. We are dedicated to making our cardiac services among the best in the country. The American Heart Associations Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by making it easier for our professionals to improve the outcomes of our cardiac patients. We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in cardiac care, and I am very proud of our team.
Each year in the United States, nearly 300,000 people have a STEMI, or ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, the most severe form of heart attack. A STEMI occurs when a blood clot completely blocks an artery to the heart. To prevent death, its critical to immediately restore blood flow, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.
As a STEMI Receiving Hospital, GMC meets high standards of performance in quick and appropriate treatment of STEMI patients to open the blocked artery. Before they are discharged, patients are started on aggressive risk reduction therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers and they receive smoking cessation counseling if needed. Hospitals must adhere to these guidelines-based measures at a set level for a designated period of time to be eligible for the achievement awards.
GGC grant to encourage women to go into information technology
Georgia Gwinnett College has won a student seed grant from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), funded by Symantec and organized by the Academic Alliance. The grant will be used to develop a Women in IT learning community at the college.
Kristine Nagel, associate vice president for Educational Technology Development
and Evaluation, says: Learning communities are programs designed
to create an enhanced educational experience for students pursuing the
same field of study. These programs provide special activities that involve
and encourage students, expose them to positive role models, and help
From 2008-2012, only 13 percent to 16 percent of GGCs IT majors were women.
This data indicates a need to implement a solution encouraging women to pursue careers in the IT field, where there are growing employment opportunities and where women are underrepresented, says Nagel. We are grateful to NCWIT, Symantec and Academic Alliance for their support of this program, which will be used to address the increasing problem of underrepresentation of women in IT careers.
Author Charles Martin in Unwritten uses three unlikely characters. Peter has lived a hermits life in southwest Florida for the last 10 years while attempting to survive a painful injury. Katie is a world-renowned actress who has nearly broken under the enormity of her success. Father Steady, an 84-year-old south Florida priest, just may be able to take them to a place that heals them both. Few authors dare to invest so much thought and effort into human relationships. Martin is not a religious writer, but his book are packed with the spiritual aspects of life.
Martin never disappoints as his crisp dialogue shows when Father Steady and Peter are in the cathedral where Steady lives:
(Continued from previous edition)
After hostilities began, Mordecai Sheftall was appointed in 1777 as deputy commissary general to the Continental troops in South Carolina and Georgia as well as commissary general of Georgia troops. Major General Robert Howe, Continental commander for the Southern Department, commissioned him a colonel in connection with these duties, thus making him the highest-ranking Jewish officer on the American side. He in turn appointed his teenaged eldest son, Sheftall Sheftall, as his assistant.
Finding that neither Georgia nor the Continental Congress had the necessary resources, Sheftall used his own personal funds to care for the men he led and made sizable loans to authorities to pay for munitions, food, uniforms, and horses. He also invested heavily in Georgia notes and bonds, which became worthless after the war's end. In late December 1778 Sheftall and his eldest son were taken prisoner and eventually sent to Antigua, in the Caribbean, from which he wrote to the Continental Congress, entreating them to arrange a prisoner exchange in 1780. Unable yet to return to Georgia, father and son lived first in New York, then in Philadelphia.
Sheftall's loans to Georgia and the Continental Congress were never repaid, despite his frequent attempts at redress. During his time as a prisoner of war, most of his property was seized by the British, never to be returned to him. Financially ruined by the Revolution, Sheftall began a new shipping business from a rented office in Philadelphia. Among other activities, he attempted privateering, purchasing a schooner in 1781 with borrowed funds. The endeavor collapsed when the captains of the vessel proved unreliable.
His own reputation for trustworthiness and leadership continued unsullied, however, and in the same year as his failed privateering venture, the newly constituted state of Georgia appointed him Agent for the State of Georgia for Purchasing Clothing. A year later he was called to take the stand as witness for the government when General Howe was court-martialed by the Continental Congress for failing to defend Savannah against attack in 1778. Returning to Savannah in late 1782, he re-entered local civic and religious activities and was elected by the city's synagogue, Congregation Mickve Israel, to its board of directors. He led the synagogue in its successful petition for an official charter from the state in 1790, and a year later he began a five-year term as president of the congregation.
Sheftall died on July 6, 1797, never having recouped his pre-Revolution financial standing but having lived a life of great utility and influence, both to his local community and to the newly founded United States of America.
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Visit this site to see details of the upcoming funerals of Gwinnett Countians from local funeral homes. On the site, sign up at top right and we'll send you GwinnettObits each day.
Click on the names below to see details of their funerals.
''I decided in my
life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father's
If that person is interested in local history, consider getting him the recent book about Gwinnett history. (Move quickly, since the supply of books of the second printing is getting low.)
Previously out of print, Elliott Brack's 850-page history, "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is now available again. Since its original publication, the book was declared the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. It is also the winner of the Gwinnett Historical Society's Whitworth-Flanigan Award for 2011 for preserving the history of Gwinnett County.
The book includes 143 demographic and historic tables, with more than 4,000 names in the index, and 10,000 names in the appendix.Two versions of the book are available. The hardback edition is priced at $75, while a softback edition is $40. Books are available at:
You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to www.elliottbrack.com to place your order. For mail orders, there is a $5 shipping and handling fee. Purchases are also subject to the 6 percent Georgia sales tax.
Or call me (Elliott
Brack) at 770 840 1003 and tell me how to dedicate a book to a friend
(or to you) as he adds his signature!
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
(NEW) Story Time in Downtown Duluth: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., June 19, Taylor Park Playground. The Gwinnett County Public Library hosts the event for children of all ages. Come dressed as your favorite story book character to win a prize.
Ham Radio Field Day: Weekend of June 22-23, at Sweetwater Park, 800 Bethesda School Road, Lawrenceville. The Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society (GARS) and Gwinnett Amateur Radio Emergency Service (Gwinnett ARES) will be demonstrating Amateur Radio. To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to www.emergency-radio.org.
Lego Camp: June 24-28 and July 8-12, Norcross Parks and Recreation Department, for children 5-12. For more information, call 678 421 4000 or visit www.play-well.org.
Meet author Karin Slaughter: 3 p.m., July 6, Barnes and Noble at the Forum on Peachtree Parkway. This is part of the Gwinnett Public Library's Meet the Author series. The author will have a book discussion and signing featuring her new book, Unseen, as a part of Barnes and Noble's Bookfair to benefit the library. For more information about ways to support the library and other library events, please visit www.gwinnettpl.org, call 770-978-5154.
(NEW) Fifth Annual Arts at Twilight: 7 p.m., July 20, downtown Duluth. The 2013 theme is Tour of Italy, with food, a silent auction, wine auction and entertainment. Details at 770-476-7328 for tickets or for more information or go to their website.
Moonlight and Music Concert Series, last Friday of each month, at 8 p.m., through September, on the Historic Courthouse grounds in Lawrenceville. The concerts are free, with tables for six available for purchase. For more information, contact the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association at 678-226-2639 or via email.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
CONTINUING OBJECTIVES FOR GWINNETT
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
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