Sam Burnham, Curator
It’s finally time to take a look at the fourth book by author Jordan M. Poss. Griswoldville could fit in several categories. It’s a coming of age tale, a multi-generational drama, a war novel, and a work of historical fiction.
A book based in Georgia during the War Between the States by definition carries built-in foreshadowing for anyone familiar with the impact the war had on the state. In December of 1860 it seemed that only Alexander Stephens realized what the war would unleash on the state. But hindsight is 20/20 and a knowledgeable reader turns the pages waiting on the horrors to unfold.
I’m going to avoid spoilers because this is a book you really should read. Poss has done his homework on the topics at hand. The dates and places follow along the historic record. He paints the picture of Georgia before and during the war, including an accurate portrayal of the striated social class system.
His descriptions drop you into a country church, along a dirt road, around the fire at story time. You get the sights, the sounds, the smells. You find yourself in Georgia in the mid-19th century. It’s hard to come across a narrative that is so historically accurate while maintaining that personality, that soul. Griswoldville has both.
There’s a wonderful touch to this book as well. Poss has mentioned several times that his grandfather was part of the inspiration in this story. There’s a multi-generational narrative in the story. The theme of learning from our ancestors threads its way through the story. The relationships between grandfather, father, and grandson bring a young boy into manhood. It is akin to the process of an apprenticeship where the experienced initiate the youthful.
In this “progressive” era, it’s a risk portraying Confederates as protagonists. Poss does exactly that and does it well. I highly recommend Griswoldville. You can get you own copy here or here.
Jordan M. Poss is also the author of No Snakes in Iceland, Dark Full of Enemies, and The Last Day of Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Sam Burnham, Curator
It’s not a rare thing to find a border town with some quirks. While it doesn’t sit right on the state line, Ringgold is the first town heading south into Georgia via I-75 from Chattanooga. The town has a storied history. The Great Locomotive Chase ended with the capture of the Andrews Raiders on the tracks just north of town. Patrick Cleburne forced to Union Army to balk on an invasion attempt at the Battle of a Ringgold Gap just to the south of town.The city was host to thousands of Sounders soldiers in hospitals after the battles for Chattanooga.
But there’s another side to this town’s history. In some cases it’s less tumultuous than the War Between the States but in some cases it probably kind of similar.
You see, a couple with one form of ID (each) and $75 (cash - card transactions add a 3% fee) can obtain a marriage license in a matter of minutes. Couples with 6 hours of premarital counseling can get a license for $31. Once the license is secured, couples can go before a probate or magistrate judge, both of which are standing by for weddings as couples arrive. Couples also have the choice of walking out the front doors of the courthouse and crossing the two lanes of Nashville Street (we recommend the conveniently located crosswalk) to the Ringgold Wedding Chapel where $115 can get you a couple-only weekday wedding. Obviously larger ceremonies are available.
These policies and practices have built a unique institution in Ringgold. This is how a town of 3,500 people issues over 2,000 marriage licenses every year.
There have been some famous folks among the half million or so people who have tied the knot in Ringgold. George Jones and Tammy Wynette began their six year marriage in Ringgold. Don Everly of the Everly Brothers had one of his several weddings in Ringgold. Singer/songwriter and two time Governor of Louisiana Jimmie Davis married his second wife in Ringgold. Best of all, Dolly Parton said that Ringgold reminded her of “rings of gold” when she married her husband (yes, I know his name but he appreciates his relative anonymity) in Catoosa County in 1966.
Ringgold’s booming wedding scene is just one reason to come to town. A well preserved historic downtown is filled with local restaurants and shops. So whether you need to elope or you just need to browse for antiques, Ringgold might be your destination.
Sam Burnham, Curator
An article in the AJC reports that Gwinnett Place Mall may be replaced with a mixed use development that would include a cricket stadium. The complex was once the leading regional retail center in Georgia. The mall opened in 1984, immediately reaping the rewards of being in the nation’s fastest growing county at the height of the popularity of shopping malls.
The conditions that led to Gwinnett Place becoming a retail giant also helped lead to its demise. Gwinnett County’s growth built demand for retail shopping and that led to nearby Sugarloaf Mills and the massive Mall of Georgia. Those two centers increased the competition for shoppers and tenants alike. That competition, combined with a decline in popularity of shopping malls meant someone had to lose. The market has chosen Gwinnett Place for that role.
In 2019 we see the other end of Gwinnett County’s explosive growth. People from all over the world have come to Gwinnett, bringing new cultures and new interests. This includes people from British Commonwealth nations like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean. In these nations, cricket is the sport of choice.
With a demand for cricket on the rise, a competitive league has been proposed. Part of that proposal is a team in Gwinnett and that creates the need for a stadium. The explosive growth of the 80s and 90s dictates that stadium development requires redevelopment of real estate. So the struggling mall seems to be a likely target. The location and the obvious need for action. So a local man with an interest in starting the cricket league is making his move.
While the evolution of baseball has dominated of America’s cricket-like experience, there is evidence that cricket was once as popular as baseball. During the Civil War both games were played by soldiers of both armies. This information has been obscured as completely as the truth of baseball’s origins. *Spoiler: Abner Doubleday enjoyed baseball but he didn’t invent it.*
So while immigrants are driving the rising demand for cricket in Gwinnett, the game has roots in America. Those roots, combined with a plan for a more sustainable development where people could live, work, and play has our attention. That development would include a large patch of green that could rally a community. That’s even better.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire