BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Union Major General William T. Sherman invaded Georgia in May 1864. Moving into Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Union Army was on a mission to occupy Atlanta, and would follow the Western and Atlantic Railroad all the way down. As the Union Army approached Marietta, William Root made plans for his family to refugee south. The Root family gathered their most treasured belongings and made their way to Washington, Georgia. The Root family would remain in Washington through the end of the war and would not return to Marietta until 1865.
The Union Army occupied Marietta on Sunday, July 3, 1864. While most of Marietta’s citizens had refugeed south, some had stayed behind. A northern news correspondent observed that “probably not more than twenty houses are occupied.” As reported in the Lamoille Newsdealer on August 10, 1864, “throngs of soldiers are now roaming over the half destroyed gardens, or strolling through the mutilated mansions, thumbing on the ruined piano and lolling on the sofas…” Used as a supply hub, the city was occupied by Union troops until November 13, 1864. That evening Union Major General William T. Sherman was returning to Marietta from a visit to the nearby village of Allatoona. When he arrived he found the Cobb County Courthouse ablaze, with fires spreading to other structures around the Square.
This program is included with the cost of regular museum admission and free for Cobb Landmarks members. Special thanks to the Sons Union Veterans, Sons Confederate Veterans, and the 30th Ohio Vol. Inf. Regiment for their support of this program.
Historic Acworth smokehouse to be reconstructed at the William Root House Museum & Garden in Marietta
For years, this historic smokehouse sat unnoticed behind a home on Northside Drive in downtown Acworth. The home, which had been vacant for some time, was purchased by a local developer and was slated for demolition. Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, Inc. (CLHS), immediately reached out to the developer to see if there was any interest in preserving the smokehouse. The developer had no plans to preserve the smokehouse but was interested in donating it to CLHS.
Because of the poor condition of the smokehouse, it was determined that dismantling the building would be safer than moving it in one piece. The bricks were removed and are now being stored. Insurance records from the 19th century indicate that a smokehouse used to stand behind the 1845 William Root House in Marietta. As part of The Next Generation capital expansion project, CLHS plans to use the bricks to reconstruct a smokehouse at the Root House. The smokehouse will be a wonderful addition to the Root House Museum, and will give visitors a better understanding of daily life in antebellum Marietta.
Learn more about The Next Generation project
Learn more about the William Root House Museum & Garden
In the 1850s, Hannah and William Root shared their home with their children and extended family. Hannah Root’s father, Leonard Simpson, lived with the family and passed away on October 11, 1856. During the month of October, visitors to the William Root House will see the home decorated for mourning as it would have been at the time of Leonard Simpson's death. Curtains will be drawn, and rooms will be adorned with black crepe and ribbons. Special tours will teach visitors about 1850s mourning practices and superstitions about death.
WHAT: Mourning in the 1850s
WHEN: The Root House Museum is open Wed.-Sat., 11am-4pm. Special night tours will be offered every Fri. and Sat. night in October from 7pm-10pm, and also Halloween night, Oct. 31.
WHERE: William Root House Museum and Garden; 80 N Marietta Parkway, Marietta, GA 30064
INFORMATION: 770-426-4982; roothousemuseum.com/mourning
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: During the 1850s, Hannah and William Root shared their home with their children and extended family. Hannah Root’s father, Leonard Simpson, lived with the family and passed away on October 11, 1856. In the 1850s, only those invited would attend a funeral. Special funeral invitations were made with a black border; the width of the border would indicate how closely related the guest was to the deceased.
Antebellum parlors were used for guests, family gatherings, and special occasions such as weddings and funerals. During a funeral, the coffin would have been kept in the parlor with the feet of the body facing towards the door. Many of the items in the parlor would have been draped in a black fabric. The fabric, called crepe, was commonly used for funerals because it was inexpensive and had a matte, lusterless surface that was deemed appropriately solemn for mourning. It was also customary to have flowers for a wake. Lilies were the most commonly used flower at this time because, in the “language of flowers,” lilies symbolize purity.
In the dining room, some of the furnishings would have been moved around according to need. During a funeral, furniture would have been moved to the side to make room for chairs for the ceremony. Funeral guests would have been seated across the hall from the parlor so they could view the ceremony through the doorways without being too close to the family and the body. They would be permitted to see the body one at a time after the ceremony. A traditional food for funerals was funeral biscuits. These were shortbread cookies made especially for funerals. They would have an image imprinted on the cookie, such as a heart, cherub, winged head, hourglass, or skull. It was customary to serve the funeral biscuits with beer or ale, and they were usually dipped in the ale before being eaten.
ABOUT THE WILLIAM ROOT HOUSE MUSEUM AND GARDEN:
Owned and operated by Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society, the William Root House Museum and Garden offers an authentic look at life for a middle class Georgia family in 1850s. The simple frame house is more typical of its time and place than the grand plantations and columned mansions people typically imagine when they think of the Old South.
Visitors to the museum will learn the story of the house, the Root family, and life in antebellum and Civil War Georgia. Tours include opportunities for visitors to actually handle historic artifacts and to test their skills with various 19th century games. Using electronic tablets, visitors can analyze historic records, family photos, archaeological information, and more. These primary resources help explain how the Root family lived, and how the house has evolved over time.
For information about the Root House, hours of operation and admission call 770-426-4982 or visit http://www.roothousemuseum.com/.
About two years ago, the city of Powder Springs took an important step toward preserving the area’s heritage. Not only did the city purchase the historic Bodiford House on Marietta Street for $175,000 from Superior Court Judge James Bodiford, but it also relocated the Seven Springs Museum, now known as Seven Springs Museum at Bodiford House, there. After a restoration project totaling almost $600,000, the entire house exhibits artifacts and photographs chronicling the area’s history and even has a room designated as a research library.
The museum is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays to visitors and researchers. Volunteers from the Seven Springs Historical Society operate the museum. The Bodiford House is a two-story Queen Anne style house with its layout and stylistic application reflecting the Queen Anne designs of the late 19th century. Features include two cross gables, a corner tower, and a wraparound porch. It was built by the Marchman family and later acquired by John L. Butner, who added a second story and additional rooms in 1900. Robert Bodiford, father of Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford, purchased the house in 1954. After the city bought the property, an extensive rehabilitation was completed in time for the museum’s opening in October last year.
It seems as though the Big Chicken has been around forever. Standing like a beacon on the corner of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road, the Big Chicken has helped many a weary traveler navigate through Cobb County. When you’re lost in Atlanta, locals may direct you to Peachtree Street (there are over 70 streets in Atlanta with “Peachtree” in their name). When you’re lost in Cobb, making a turn at the Big Chicken will always get you where you need to go. But how did the Big Chicken come to be? Who was responsible for creating this googley-eyed monument to chicken?
The story begins with an Atlanta restaurateur named Stanley Reginald Davis. Known by his friends and family as “Tubby,” he began his career in 1939 when he opened Davis Brothers Cafeteria in a vacant typewriter shop on Luckie Street. Tubby prided himself on providing quality food at competitive prices. His business quickly grew, and Tubby eventually launched several other successful restaurants, including one inside Atlanta’s Piedmont Hotel.
In 1956, Tubby came to Marietta and opened a restaurant called Johnny Reb’s Chick, Chuck and Shake. Wanting to capitalize on the north/south traffic on Highway 41, Tubby decided he needed to erect something to attract travelers. He hired Hubert Puckett, a Georgia Tech architecture student, to design a novelty chicken structure over his restaurant. Fabricated by Atlantic Steel, the 56-foot-high chicken was completed in 1963. “I wanted to build it as high as I could to attract customers,” said Tubby. “I had no idea it would become a landmark.”
Tubby continued to operate Johnny Reb’s until he sold the business to one of his brothers. The restaurant was taken over by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in 1974. At the time, KFC executives (including Colonel Sanders himself) planned to remove the Big Chicken to make the restaurant match their own branding. Persuaded by the Davis family, KFC executives finally decided to keep it. The Big Chicken was safe, and everyone thought it would be preserved forever. But mother nature had other plans.
In January 1993, a winter storm blew into Cobb County. The gusts battered the old chicken, and entire sheets of metal were ripped from the structure. When the storm subsided, the chicken stood with gaping holes in her side. Within days engineers were on site to assess the damage. What they found was less than encouraging. The Big Chicken was badly damaged and needed to be completed rebuilt or torn down. KFC had a decision to make: tear down the Big Chicken or spend the $100,000 estimated to rebuild the structure. The answer came down to money, and demolition of the Big Chicken was announced on January 15th. The decision did not go over very well with the people of Marietta.
After receiving almost 10,000 phone calls and letters from concerned Mariettans, KFC determined that tearing down the structure was not really an option. On January 27, 1993, KFC Vice President Chuck Rawley announced that the company would “invest up to $200,000 in a new landmark so that the Big Chicken can fly again.” Work quickly began on a new structure, and the restaurant reopened in 1994.
Renovated in the spring of 2017, the Big Chicken is one of Marietta’s most popular attractions. The new restaurant features a gift shop and mini museum displaying the history of the Big Chicken and a collection of souvenirs and artwork inspired by the landmark.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Spring Ramble and Annual Meeting will be held in Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth, April 22-24. A partnership with Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society, the event will offer visitors a rare opportunity to explore private historic homes, buildings and gardens that are not usually open to the public.
History enthusiasts will be charmed by exquisite houses and beloved downtown properties that grew up along the Great Kennesaw Route, a historic rail line that ran from Chattanooga to Atlanta. On Friday, ‘Ramblers’ will have the opportunity to explore historic properties in Marietta, a former winter resort town nicknamed “The Gem City of Georgia,” and Kennesaw, a railroad town steeped in Civil War history. Saturday’s Ramble continues in Marietta with stunning private homes and grand architectural gems. Sunday, Ramblers will take a drive out to Acworth, named after a railroad engineer’s hometown in New Hampshire, where brunch, historic bungalows and a charming Victorian-era downtown await.
The Ramble also includes special dining experiences held at magnificent historic sites throughout the weekend. On Friday night, ‘Ramblers’ will dine with the General, made famous during the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. Saturday morning breakfast will take place at the historic 1935 Strand Theatre, a former major motion picture house and now an important cultural community landmark overlooking Marietta’s town square. Lunch will be in downtown Marietta, where ‘Ramblers’ can choose from a variety of local eateries. Saturday night’s dinner will be held at Rockford, a unique antebellum home that was once served as a field hospital for the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and headquarters for a Confederate General. Before enjoying picturesque historic Acworth on Sunday, Ramblers will partake in a sumptuous brunch at the beautifully restored Old Mill, the oldest commercial building in town.
A wide variety of registration options is available. Whether you plan on touring for one day or spending the weekend, there’s something for everyone as we explore the beautiful cities of Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaTrust.org.
Rambles feature tours and social events in historic properties not usually open to the public. Tours of historic homes and buildings are self-guided, and guests provide their own transportation. These trips attract hundreds of participants per Ramble and are offered two weekends each year in the fall and spring. Recent Rambles have included the Golden Isles, Athens and Americus.
About the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust is committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all.
The Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia’s “Places in Peril.” The Trust helps revitalize downtowns by providing design and technical assistance in Georgia Main Street cities; trains Georgia’s teachers in Georgia school systems to engage students in discovering state and national history through their local historic resources; and advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts. To learn more, visit www.georgiatrust.org.
About Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society, Inc.
For more than forty years, Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society has been preserving, protecting, and promoting Cobb County's historic structures and cultural heritage. Through advocacy and public education, we strive to ensure the historically significant sites in our region continue to enhance the county’s quality of life, economy, and tourism.
Each year, Cobb Landmarks provides engaging programs and activities that reach thousands of preservationists, tourists, teachers, college students, and school-age children. Many of these programs are centered on the organization’s two historic properties, the William Root House Museum and Garden and the Power Cabin. Currently, volunteer leaders are developing a strategic plan that will guide the organization in creating relevant programs, managing financial resources, and increasing awareness of local heritage. Learn more at: http://www.cobblandmarks.com
Trevor Beemon, the Executive Director of Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society, found his calling at an early age. When he was 12 years old, he got involved with the Root House as a volunteer. Before long, he was designing exhibitions for the site and became so actively involved that he was presented with the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society Preservation Award in 2003. That same year, Trevor began pursuing a degree in history at Kennesaw State University (KSU). He graduated from KSU with a degree in American History and a public history certificate in 2008.
A skilled graphic designer, Trevor worked for the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, where he helped design exhibition panels and displays and assisted with visitor services. After four years at the Southern Museum, Trevor made the leap to the Atlanta History Center (AHC), where he continued to use his outstanding graphic design skills in support of the exhibition program and marketing efforts of the organization. He eventually was named Director of New Media, a position that allowed him to use his extensive skills to improve the AHC’s online presence. As a resident of Acworth, Trevor became involved in promoting the history of the city through his work on the Acworth Board of Travel and Tourism and as the marketing chair for Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society.
Since he was an eager young Boy Scout whose imagination was captured by the Root House, Trevor has devoted himself to interpreting and sharing the history of the area with the public, and it was with great pleasure that the KSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences presented to Trevor the Outstanding Alumnus Award.
By Dr. Jennifer Dickey
Coordinator, Public History Program, Kennesaw State University
Fall 2015 has been a time of exciting and entertaining events and preservation progress, but for Cobb Landmarks members and friends it has also been a time of sadness, as our organization lost three of its most valiant and stalwart supporters in September and October. Bill David, Martha Lee Brumby, and Joe Kirby were all friends of CLHS, promoters of our community, and giants of historic preservation whose collective presence looms large over our organization. Without each of them, we would not be the organization that we are, and it is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to them.
Bill David, husband of former CLHS Executive Director Marcelle David and a supporter of CLHS and the Root House in his own right, died September 5 after a long battle with cancer. Bill and Marcelle were instrumental in the rescue of the Root House and the successful establishment of the Root House Museum and Garden. Terri Cole, who worked with the Davids in the early days of the Root House project, penned this reflection after Bill’s funeral:
There are lots of things in this world that can be measured. Bill David certainly understood the word “measure.” He built hundreds of residential homes in the Marietta area during the past 40 years as a partner with Cotton States Builders. Some of you may even be fortunate enough to live in one of these beautiful homes. Lumber, trim, windows, doors, porches, roofing, and even driveways are measured to assure they fit the builder’s specifications. However, there is one thing that is difficult to measure: the value one person can add to another person’s life. The length and depth of time and talent given to another person or organization is immeasurable and often forgotten over time. In remembering our friend Bill, we will never be able to measure the time and talents he and Marcelle gave to make Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society what it is today. Perhaps their son Brad said it best in Bill’s eulogy: “Dad taught me many lessons in life, and I could not have had a better father, a better person to model my life after. One of the most valuable lessons dad taught me, he did not sit me down and talk me through, he simply showed me through his actions. His abiding love and devotion to my mother was the greatest gift that he gave me. Dad showed me what a committed and loving relationship should look like and loved my mother more than anything in his life.”
Bill shared and supported Marcelle’s passion for CLHS and The Root House Museum. His presence, kindness, generosity, and courage cannot be measured. He was a good man. We are thankful for what he did for all of us and for his actions that spoke louder than his words.
We at Cobb Landmarks extend our heartfelt condolences to Marcelle and Brad and their family.
Martha Lee Brumby, a pillar of the Marietta community and widow of Otis Brumby, Jr., the late publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal (MDJ), died October 29 after a six-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Brumby was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church in Marietta, where she was active with the Altar Guild and the funeral committee. She was a generous hostess, always willing to extend her hospitality to individuals or civic groups, and she and her husband were supporters of Cobb Landmarks from the early days. The love of community and the support for historic preservation were passed on to their five children: Spain Gregory, Lee Garrett, Betsy Tarbutton, Anna Brumby, and Otis A. Brumby III. It was in large part through financial support provided by Otis and Martha Lee Brumby and their children, through the Brumby-Leonard Family Foundation and the Marietta Daily Journal Community Foundation, that Cobb Landmarks was able to publish Marietta, the Gem City of Georgia: A Celebration of Its Homes – A Portrait of Its People, by Douglas Frey, in 2010.
In a reflection in the MDJ penned by Ricky Leroux, Mrs. Brumby’s friend Connie Smith is quoted as saying that Martha Lee was someone who believed you couldn’t do enough to help people. “She was a beautiful, elegant lady inside and out…the kindest, most generous person to everyone.” These qualities of kindness and generosity are certainly her legacy to us, her friends at Cobb Landmarks. We extend our sincere sympathy to Spain, Lee, Betsy, Anna, and Otis and their families.
Joe Kirby, local author and historian and longtime editorial page editor of the Marietta Daily Journal, died October 30 after a short illness. Joe contracted a rare form of cancer, probably the result of radiation treatments in his youth, and died only a week after diagnosis. Joe’s contributions to the promotion of our community and the recording of its history are significant, and rare coming from a person who was not a Cobb County native. A native of Washington, D.C., Joe came to Marietta in 1987 to take up a post as a reporter for the MDJ, after stints at the Toccoa Chieftan and the Roswell Neighbor. Dr. Sam Matthews said at Joe’s memorial service, “Joe Kirby fooled me. I thought he was from around here.” He quoted Joe as saying that he came to Marietta “as soon as he could.” Joe clearly loved this community. In an obituary penned by Jon Gillooly for the MDJ, Marshall Ramsey, an ad designer for the paper in the early 1990s who was mentored by Joe Kirby, said of him and his legacy, “…here’s a guy who had the talent to go anywhere, but he stayed in a place where he could make a difference. And he loved the history of the place… He realized that he was where he needed to be to make sure that he could raise his children the right way, and his legacy will be in Miles and Lucy.”
Joe’s wife, Fran Froehlke Kirby, said that her husband’s passion was history. He wrote several books of local history, among them The Bell Bomber Plant, Marietta (Then and Now), and Marietta Revisited (Then and Now). These titles are all available at Mr. Root’s Store, and they are an important part of the body of printed scholarship about Marietta and Cobb County. His columns in the MDJ are another source of valuable local history and commentary. Joe was also an enthusiastic supporter of Cobb Landmarks, always willing to provide publicity for CLHS events in his popular “Around Town” column and elsewhere in the paper. He was a frequent speaker to community and civic groups on the subject of local history, always promoting Marietta and Cobb County and exhorting them to make it better. He was a frequent attendee at Cobb Landmarks events, usually present at the Pilgrimage Gala, the Annual Meeting, and many other events.
Attorney General Sam Olens was quoted in Jon Gillooly’s reflection in the MDJ as saying that Joe Kirby saw life through a positive lens. “There are few people you meet in life that you view as being ‘glass half full’ each and every day, and he was….He was always there to uplift, always there to discuss the greatness of the community….”
All of us at Cobb Landmarks extend our heartfelt sympathy to Fran, Lucy, and Miles Kirby.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society