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Newborn hosts tour of homes

This photo of the Newborn Girls High School Basketball Team of 1911 will be included in the town’s upcoming history book, “Newborn, GA - Characters, Places, Tales.” (Special Photo)

This photo of the Newborn Girls High School Basketball Team of 1911 will be included in the town’s upcoming history book, “Newborn, GA - Characters, Places, Tales.” (Special Photo)

NEWBORN — Newborn will celebrate its history in October with a tour of homes, schoolhouse alumni reunion and the release of a book detailing how life used to be in the tiny town.

It all happens on Saturday, Oct. 19, starting with the first Newborn Tour of Homes and Historic Landmarks, a self-guided driving tour to some of the most historic sites in town that runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tagline for the tour is “Sherman came through — why not you?” said Linda Williams Woodworth, a member of the Newborn Garden Club, which is hosting the event.

According to Civil War lore, General William T. Sherman did indeed come through Newborn, but did not burn the town, as Yankee sympathizers resided there.

Proceeds from the tour will be used by the garden club to beautify the town, Woodworth said.

The tour includes six homes and four landmarks and begins at the Old Newborn Schoolhouse at 4326 Ga. Highway 142. The circa-1923 building, owned by the town, replaced the original Newborn High School and had four big classrooms and an assembly hall. Classes initially went through the 12th grade. The building served as an elementary school when it closed around 1950. The building recently underwent a major renovation and is used for musical performances and special events.

Other landmarks on the tour are the Zeigler-Childs Building, also known as Town Hall, located on Ga. 142, and Newborn United Methodist Church on Church Street, which at nearly 200 years old is believed to be the oldest church in the county. The final landmark is the historic J.W. Pitts General Merchandise and Warehouse Building on North Johnson Street. The building was a general store and a cotton warehouse, first opened in 1896, and many of the original fixtures have remained undisturbed.

Six historic houses are included on the tour, including Story Cottage at Burge Plantation, which presents the history of the plantation on wall panels, and the Burge Bolton House, built in the 1830s or 1840s and which was originally at the site of the present main house but is now located across Ga. 142. The tour also features the Dobbs Home on Fields Street, rumored to have been built as a wedding present for a bride and sitting next door to the historic Methodist parsonage known as Plott Home, also on the tour. Also included are the Greek revival Sandtown/Hodges Home on Hodges Circle and Porter Manor House and Gardens on North Johnson Street, originally built as the dormitory for the Palmyra Institute in the late 1890s.

Tickets for the tour can be purchased in advance for $15. Make checks payable to Newborn Garden Club and send to Newborn Town Hall, P.O. Box 247, Newborn, GA 30056 or online at http://www.newborntourofhomes.org. Tickets can also be purchased at the schoolhouse the day of the tour for $20. More information can be found on the website or by calling 770-787-3508.

Also taking place that Saturday is a reunion of alumni of the Old Schoolhouse. All alumni and their families are invited to attend and participate in the home tour. The reunion takes place at 11 a.m. at the schoolhouse and includes lunch. For more details, contact nbornga@bellsouth.net.

Finally, The Happy History Committee of Newborn will release its 530-page tome, “Newborn, GA — Characters, Places, Tales” on the day of the tour and reunion. Eight townspeople spent more than a year collecting and compiling information for the book, said Woodworth. In keeping with the town’s slogan, “A Town With Characters,” the goal was to create a living history complete with colorful anecdotes and personal details about the townsfolk, she said.

One such story written by Julia Adams Wilson recalls a tale by her aunt Jeanette Zeigler, who claimed as a girl to have smoked a wicker chair with her friend Virginia, after running out of tobacco.

An excerpt reads, “The smoke would draw through the piece of wicker just like grapevine … As the weather got colder we continued to break off pieces of that chair to smoke. It lasted most of the winter. When we had taken all the wicker off the frame, we were afraid of what Virginia’s mother would say about the bare chair. We did the only thing we could to destroy the evidence. We put the remaining portion of the chair in the fireplace and burned it up.”

Residents and former residents contributed to the stories and sent in more than 500 photos.

“We’ve kept their voices and the bad grammar and the crazy stories,” Woodworth said. As such, the committee hopes it will be an entertaining and more readable history than other similarly themed books. “We didn’t want the begets,” she said.

The paperback book can be purchased for $25 for a black and white copy and $60 for a color copy. A limited number of books will be printed, and Woodworth expects a sell out. “If somebody wants to buy them, they need to let us know so we can up the order before we go to press,” she said. Copies can be reserved if a check is mailed to Julia Adams Wilson at P.O. Box 160, Newborn, GA, 30056.

The town of Newborn owns the rights to the book, having made a sizable contribution toward its publication. The Newton County Historical Society also contributed funds.