“Across the River” a great look at Athens history

AJC file photo
AJC file photo

“Across the River: The People, Places and Culture of East Athens” is a monumental, 600-page look at a side of town not well documented in other histories of the Classic City.

The authors, Maxine Pinson Easom and Patsy Hawkins Arnold, have put together, in 11 chapters, a very comprehensive documentation of East Athens. The foreword is by Gary L. Doster, a local historian with roots in the area.

After a chapter about the origin and growth of Athens, which was founded in 1805, Easom and Arnold turn to “The Influence of the Mills.” As with many Southern cities, the advent of textile mills changed the dynamics of the work force and the social structure. Mills provided a lot of community services, such as schools. Black and white schools are covered extensively. Many teachers are remembered with a lot of student group pictures.

Churches, the underpinnings of every community, are featured, with a write-up on each, again, both black and white. Leisure activities abounded in the area, such as local ball teams and clubs. As with any community, the grocery stores are key, but few authors have addressed them as they do here in a unique chapter.

A section on notable citizens is next, with biographical sketches on major figures from the area. These sketches will certainly help future historians learn the contributions of these influencers. Cemeteries and burial insurance companies consume a chapter that is very thorough. The final chapter includes interviews with many people who grew up in East Athens.

There are loads of great illustrations, and more information than one normally gets in an overview of only part of a city. The appendices include lists of civic and school officials and a photo gallery. There is a full-name index.

This is a great work and an excellent example for others to follow in documenting a community. The book is $60 plus $4.80 tax and shipping, available from avidbookshop.com.

Ancestors at work

A photo archivist asked how many people had photographs of their ancestors in their work clothes or at their place of work. Luckily, I have one of my grandfather at his desk in the Texaco service station that he ran.

Tombstone verification

It never hurts to verify the date of death on a tombstone by checking the interment records if the cemetery has an office. Some tombstones were put up years later and people guessed at the dates. You can note any discrepancies in your own files or in any tree you post.

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr., P. O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or kenthomasongenealogy.com.