VALLEY – The Bradshaw-Chambers County Library has a display fit for the summer season, the time of year when people take the trip of a lifetime. The exhibition, compiled by archivist Robin Watson, is entitled “Going Places: Tales of Travel and Adventure Both Near and Far!”
It fills the main display cases in the library and will be on display for the remainder of the summer.
An exhibit chronicles the mountaineering experiences of Valley native Hugh Morton, who traveled to the seven continents of the world in pursuit of his goal of completing the Seven Summits Challenge. It began in 1988 with Kilimanjaro in Africa and ended in 1999 with the Vinson massif in Antarctica. The climb was the difficult part, but getting there and coming back was an adventure.
One of the cases tells of the journey of people from Ireland to the Valley in 2001. The Parnell Society made a trip to America to see places Charles Stewart Parnell visited in America. He was called the uncrowned King of Ireland, and one of the places he frequented in the 1870s was his older brother John Parnell’s peach farm, which was on the River Road.
The current exhibition tells the story of Sally and Willy Creigh, two sisters from Mobile who traveled to see exotic places in the early 20th century. There is a photo of them on camels with Egyptian pyramids behind them. The Creigh sisters were related to Virginia Glover Cook, wife of Batson Cook founder Edmund Cook.
“They went to Egypt in 1907,” Watson said. “This was long before King Tut’s tomb was discovered. They were interesting people and had lived in Europe for a while.”
Watson said she loved the photo of the two women on camels wearing the Edwardian fashions of the day.
Watson knows what it’s like to ride a camel. She rode with Louise Cox in Jordan a few years ago on a trip to the Middle East.
The exhibition tells the story of two local missionaries who traveled far and wide. Their names were Virginia Atkinson and Margaret Cook, youngest sister of Ellison “Dad” Cook, who wrote a popular column for the Chattahoochee Valley Times. In the 1930s, Cook and two other West Point women, Mary Poer Oslin and Mrs. AD Ferguson, were tour operators.
These tour guides took care of all the details for tours to places like Washington, DC, New York City, Niagara Falls, Canada and far western destinations like the Pacific Coast where visitors could see the giant redwood trees, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone the Sequoia National Park.
There is information about the first documented voyage by an American of European descent to the Valley. Benjamin Hawkins, an Indian agent of President George Washington, kept a journal of his journey along the west bank of the Chattahoochee in the fall of 1798. He crossed creeks that the native creeks knew by names like Hal-0-wak-ee, O-soo-nip-ah, and O-soon-a-wa-hatchee (now known as Moore’s Creek). Hawkins described an impressive view of the river in present-day Langdale. The same view is seen today from the third floor of EAMC Lanier Hospital.
One of the more interesting stories in the exhibition is Arthur Mitchell’s. He was to politics what Joe Louis was to sports. Both Louis and Mitchell were born in the LaFayette area and moved north in the early 20th century as part of the Great Migration. Joe Louis went to Detroit with his family and became famous as one of the all-time greats as a boxer. Mitchell (1883-1968) grew up in Alabama and graduated from Tuskegee Institute before moving north. In 1934 he became the first African American to be elected to the US Congress as a Democrat. He served four terms and illustrated the shift among black voters to the Democratic Party. African Americans previously elected to Congress were Republicans. Mitchell was the only member of Congress who was African American from 1935 to 1943. He was a strong supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and delivered a supportive speech in support of Roosevelt at the 1936 Democratize Convention.
Mitchell is in the current Travel Show because of a trip he took on the railroad in 1937. He traveled from Chicago to Hot Springs, Arkansas on the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. He began the journey in a VIP Pullman car near the front of the train. He had boarded the train with two first-class tickets for the entire journey, but when the train crossed the Mason-Dixon line, he was ordered into a passenger car at the end of the train reserved for African Americans. Mitchell sued the railroad over this, and after being rejected by lower courts, he fought all the way to the US Supreme Court, where he won the now-famous Mitchell v. United States trial in 1941. The Supreme Court ruled that black passengers had a right to the same accommodation and treatment accorded to white passengers. Mitchell hailed the decision as “a step in the destruction of Jim Crow himself.” Despite this, the Interstate Commerce Commission did not prohibit racial segregation on interstate buses or trains and in the public waiting rooms of railroads or bus terminals until 1955.
The exhibit includes information about a trip by West Point Manufacturing Company President George H. Lanier to the 1921 Rotary International Convention. It was held in Scotland.
Around the same time, Shaefer Heard of the West Point Lions Club represented local Lions at the national convention in Oakland, California.
Many locals will remember a trip taken by two locals in the 1970s. Freddy Hamby and Charles “Seagull” Dailey qualified for a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records. The category they competed in was the longest taxi ride in the world. They began the journey in West Point, Georgia with the goal of driving through towns called West Point in different states. They had to cut short their planned trip when one of the two men fell ill, but they traveled far enough to qualify for the record. It has broken many times since, but Hamby and Dailey had it for a while.
Anyone who was tutored by Joe Hall at Valley High in the 1960s and 1970s knows what an extraordinary teacher he was. He was ambidextrous. When he wrote on the left side of the tablet, he did it with his left hand, and when he wrote on the right side, he wrote with his right hand. Mr. Joe always spoke to his students about wanting to travel when he retired. They sorted it out for him, arranging trips west on the Greyhound bus and even a flight to Hawaii. Moments from these trips are in one of the showcases.
Such trips were well deserved. Hall had served as a companion on many VHS seniors’ trips to Washington and New York.
The exhibit tells an interesting story about a woman from Standing Rock named Virginia Hines. In the 1930s she was part of the so-called Georgia Caravan, which undertook bus trips with students to the western United States. They traveled during the day and camped at night.
“When she was older, she did all sorts of decent trips,” Watson said.
There is a bit of humor in an exchange between editors of The LaFayette Sun and The Roanoke Leader from the early 20th century.
Mr. Stevenson of the Roanoke newspaper poked fun at Sun editor Sam Oliver, who had just gotten a new car in 1907. Stevenson wrote. “Better trade for a mule.”
This prompted a response from Oliver in the next issue of The Sun.
“Thanks for the advice, Brother Stevenson, but I’d rather risk being hit by a car than kicked by a mule.”
Watson said she really enjoyed putting the exhibit together.
“It took a few months from start to finish,” she said. “We wanted to do something for the summer season and first had to decide on a theme. We went back to Collections to see what we had about travel. We had no trouble filling nine showcases.”
The vertical case shows the uniform worn by West Point’s Carol Wood while she was a ticket seller for Eastern Airlines in Atlanta.