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Wednesday May 6th, 2015 7:34AM

Lumpkin History Day opens door to past

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
DAHLONEGA - Lumpkin County residents spent Labor Day living their history and helping restore a historic home Monday at Yahoola Creek Park in Dahlonega.

Tim Ragland, with the Lumpkin Living History Committee, said the first time event was held to raise support restoring the 19th century home of a Confederate soldier.

"Luckily through the endeavors that we've gone through over the past several years we've managed to get to the point now to where the house is going to have the opportunity to be restored," Ragland said.

Ragland said the home of Captain Jesse McDonald of the Blue Ridge Rifles dates back to the 1870's and was saved from the wrecking ball by local preservationists; Ragland wants it to be restored to its original appearance.

Ragland and County Commissioner Bill Scott said plans are to make the area a destination, and the county's sesquicentennial project, observing the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. Scott said the Commission supports it.

"Lumpkin County is behind it," Scott said. "It is our history, we're hoping to get this house restored and start a living history project."

Scott said in addition to the McDonald House he envisions having a one room school house, a barn and a vintage blacksmith shop to make it a history destination for school children.

Children had their role in Living History Day, not only as spectators, but also as participants to get the event started with a children's parade. An artist's rendering of the McDonald House by local artist Laura Brown was a featured display and was auctioned off.

Scott said money for such a project is a challenge but there is a Phase (1) and Phase (2) in the plans.

"The short term is to get the house stabilized until we can go into Phase (2) when the economy kicks back in," Scott added. "Phase (2) would get it rebuilt so that we can have tourists come in."

Local Confederate re-enactors staged firing demonstrations, recalling the days when Capt. McDonald led his men in Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. The local Sons of Confederate Veterans Chapter displayed authentic weapons and equipment.

There was also a gold miner's display recalling the first U.S. gold rush in Lumpkin County, and from Dawson County, a replica of a moonshine still. Dwight Bearden said he was not making the 'real thing'.

"We make it look like we are, we're running water through it," he assured. "This still is over 90 year old."

Gold mine historian Chris Worick wore authentic miner's garb and displayed tools they used to find the 'yellow metal' in nearby creeks and streams.

"The whole thing I have with my display is to educate the public about some of the aspects of gold mining history," Worick said.

Jim Kinney, living history committee chairman, said his group planned the Labor Day Living History for several months to recall a truly romantic story, the story of a soldier who came home from war to build a farm and raise a family.

"He came back here and married his childhood sweetheart," Kinney said. "He farmed here the rest of his life, he and his wife raised ten children on this farm land."
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