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Preserving history
Jinx Faulkner keeps Newton's past alive

Editor's Note: In honor of National Women's History Month, throughout March the Citizen has profiled local women who have impacted the community in a positive way. This is the last story in the four-part series.

COVINGTON - Jinx Faulkner hasn't just helped preserve Newton County history; she helped write it.

As part of her work with the Newton County Historical Society, Faulkner headed up the effort to compile accounts of historic events, places and people into a 1,000-page book, a sort of encyclopedia of Newton County.

Since the book was published in 1988, it has sold more than 2,000 copies and become widely accepted by locals as the go-to resource for learning about days gone by.

Faulkner is a charter member and past president of the Historical Society, which was founded in 1971 by her husband's niece, Mary Gene Elliott.

Over the years, she has spearheaded some of the Society's most lasting and influential projects.

As a member of the Historic Landmark Committee, Faulkner helped secure markers for 25 historic landmarks, including Salem Campground, Brick Store, Harris Springs Primitive Baptist Church and Mansfield High School.

She also led the local segment of a statewide project by The Georgia Archives to copy and archive old photos from each of the state's counties.

But it is Faulkner's hard work on "History of Newton County" that is perhaps her best-known accomplishment among her fellow historians.

The idea for the book came about in 1982, when Ken Thomas with the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources informed the Society that Newton was one of 40 counties that did not have a comprehensive written history.

"We got sort of stirred up about that," Faulkner said.

Faulkner and fellow Society member Mary Jane Dixon took on the task of finding contributors to write about a wide range of topics, from elected officials to regular families, education to the economy, transportation to natural resources.

Once the histories were written, Faulkner traveled to Athens to oversee the manufacturing of the book, which was self-published by the Society.

Of the 2,400 books published, about 200 remain. They can still be purchased for $65 through the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

"It has turned out to be the Society's biggest money-maker," she said.

Though Faulkner is inclined to give the credit to others for the project, those who worked on it said she was the driving force.

"She is a leader to the point that when she starts on a project, she's going to stick with it to see it through," Dixon said. "She loves history, and even though she's not from Newton County, she has been the one that has really instigated and pushed along getting the history (book) done."

Faulkner has taken an active role in the community since she moved here in 1958 with her husband, Dr. Harry W. Faulkner.

The couple soon got involved with the Newton County Heart Council, a chapter of the Georgia Heart Association.

Because of their work with that organization, they were asked to help form a stroke rehabilitation and education clinic.

Held in an old gymnasium, the clinic was staffed by Newton County Hospital employees and community volunteers.

"It's been written up as the first rural stroke clinic in the nation, but I don't know if that's true," Faulkner said.

What she does know is that before the clinic was established, "Stroke patients were put in a back room and ignored."

It was Faulkner's job to coordinate center operations, acting as a liaison between doctors, patients and families.

"We had tremendous success with ordinary, everyday, good sense exercises and activities that were demonstrated for (the patients), and they actually participated," she said.

The clinic was so successful that eventually it "educated itself out of business," she said.

Faulkner went on to teach fifth grade at Palmer Stone and Ficquett elementary schools, but eventually quit work to become a stay-at-home mother.

In 1971, the same year she joined the Historical Society, she became a member of the Sergeant Newton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The organization is one of her great passions, its patriotic mission her personal philosophy.

"I'm a very political person," she said.

Faulkner grew up in Pine Mountain, just 7 miles from Warm Springs, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought treatment for polio.

As a child, she had regular interactions with the president, who was an acquaintance of her family.

"I was programmed to respect the presidency early on," she said.

That patriotism was challenged during Faulkner's studies at the Tulane University School of Social Work.

"I was challenged there to decide how I felt about the United States. Many of my teachers were socialists," she said. "I decided right then and there that I was not for a welfare state. I really believe in the responsibility of the individual. I've been very serious about voting, locally and nationally."

Faulkner has also been serious about her commitment to her community.

"She just took Covington to heart and has the good of the community in her heart, and has worked all these years for that," said her friend, Loy Summers.

Though Faulkner eventually earned her real estate license and was employed in that field for 20 years, she never wavered in her volunteer work.

In addition to her ongoing service with the Historical Society and Daughters of the American Revolution, she is a member of the Covington Tree Preservation Board and the newly formed Friends of the History Center, a group that is assisting with the transformation of the old jail on Stallings Street into a history museum.

Her focus on historic preservation is in part an attempt to protect future generations.

"I really like the United States. I like Georgia, and I like Covington and Newton County, and I'd like to see its beauty remain," she said. "I'd like to think there is a good future. I think we get to know who we are if we understand our history."

Both Faulkner and her husband are avid nature lovers, and have spent many hours on long walks along the Alcovy River and vacationing in the North Georgia mountains.

She is responsible for having Flat Rock Trail in Covington certified as a bird sanctuary by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.

In her spare time, Faulkner takes art classes at Southern Heartland Art Gallery, and enjoys arranging flowers and playing bridge.

Of all of her many accomplishments, however, "The things I like most are being a wife and mother," she said.

Faulkner and her husband recently celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary. Their daughter Laura lives in Long Island. The couple also had a son, who was killed in an automobile accident.

Faulkner calls her husband her rock and protector, through good times and bad.

"It's been mostly good," she said. "We all have our ups and downs, our hard times. I've enjoyed living very much."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.