Community History Interns: Summer 2009

During Summer 2009, six community history interns will assist the Newton County Afro-American History Association in uncovering the African-American history of Newton County. They will enhance this wiki site and help develop other resources for teaching and learning about community history in Newton County. This program is supported through the federal Workforce Investment Act's economic stimulus funding.

Technology Preparation. (Using computers at the Washington Street Community Center or the Newton County Public Library).

1, Each intern will register with wikispaces so that he or she will be able edit the Afro-Newton wiki.

A.You will need an email address (a gmail address is probably easiest). Go to

and follow the instructions. Be sure to write down your user name and password and remember them!

B. Join wikispaces. Go to:

and select a username and password (Write these down and make sure you remember them)

C. Then go to
and click (in the upper left) "Join this Wiki" (The coordinator will then authorize you to edit and post to the wiki)

D. Practice making additions to the wiki. Go to the page "Meet the History Interns" and write a paragraph introducing yourself. Please do not use your last name. You may use a nickname if you like. Tell us something about yourself- your hobbies, your friends, your favorite music, your hopes for the future. What kind of history are you interested in?

Historical Preparation.
A. Read through this wiki space. Be sure to study carefully the Timeline at

(You may be quizzed on the dates!) What other information and dates do you think should be on this timeline?

B. In "The History of Newton County, Georgia" (in the Georgia History room of the Newton County Library. Call number: HR 975.8593 HIS) please read the following essays:

  • "Slavery, Manufacutring, and Productivity in Newton County, 1821-1860", (Theodore Davis) pp. 172-179.
  • "Free Persons of Color" (Theodore Davis) pp. 180-182
  • Dinah Pace Orphanage and School (Sara T. Hardeman) p. 969
  • "Newton County and the Civil War" (James Waterson, Sr.) pp. 242-61
  • Black Baptists, pp. 461-66
  • Black Methodists, pp. 504-9

(Many other essays in the book of are interest. See, for instance, African-American family history entries on: Anderson-Dobbs, Baker, Coleman Benton, Blackshear & Wright families, the John Clack family, the family of Buck Gaither, Sr., the family of Johnny C. Gaither, the family of Eugene Hollingsworth, the family of Lucious Johnson, Lackey, the familly of Henry "Billy" Mitchell; the Moore-Gibbs-Stokes family; descendants of Jim and Susie Shaw, family of Archie Senior Shepherd, the family of Harold Shields, the family of Jack Shields, Thompson-Davis, Alberta Josephine Hendricks Williams, Willie Wise, Augustus Charles Wright, Minnie Wright Gaither, and Willie Zackery.

Interview Preparation

Read the Guide to Oral History interviews. Practice interviewing someone, such as an elder in your Church, or a family member.


I. Family History Research and "Pioneer Research"

Select an African-American family that has its roots in Newton County. (This may be your family or a different family.) Develop a "family tree" on this family's history. See the "Genealogy" page of this wiki for suggested resources.

Learn about one of the African-American 'pioneers" listed at:
You may need to interview their friends or family members. In some cases, you may be able to read about them in the book, The History of Newton County. The may also be able to find information about them in newspapers, such as The Covington News. Please write a one page biography of your pioneer. After the biography has been edited by your advisors, please post it on the wiki in in the Pioneer section.

II. Cemetery Research.

One of the most important sources of African American history in Newton County are the many historically black cemeteries. Many cemeteries have been damaged over time, but in many cases headstones and other markers have survived.

Task #1. Our goal is to create a booklet about the two major historically black cemeteries in Covington, the Westside Cemetery and the historically African American section of the Covington City Cemetery (once known as the "Colored Cemetery.") To do this research, you will use th official Colored Cemetery deed book in the Covington City Hall. (Please ask the Mayor's secretary for help). You will also do first hand research by walking through the cemeteries and writing down everything you can find.

Please begin by creating a map and alphabetical list of all African-American graves in Westside Cemetery (also known as the "new cemetery") where the graves date back to around 1934. You should make a similar list for the "Colored" section of the Covington City Cemtery on the east side of town --but this may be more difficult since so many of the old graves are now unmarked.

Please consult carefully with Ms. Emogene Williams (Bethlehem Baptist Research), an important community historian who is very familiar with this history.

For each grave, write down everything you can see: names, birth dates, death dates, epitaths, etc. Record unmarked graves as well. If a living person, such as Ms. Emogene Williams, can tell you who is buried in an unmarked plot, please write down their names and information. Be sure to draw a map showing the layout of each family plot.

When you visit any cemetery, be sure to wear sensible shoes and look for snakes and other wildlife. You may wish to carry a stick. Please bring a notebook and pencil or pen so you can take careful notes.

Using the information in the Deed Books, please list each person's name alphabetically on the wiki page for the cemetery, indicating all information you can find out about the person. Is the grave still visible? Does anyone know where the grave is?

III. Musicians and Artists

We will develop a guide to important African-American musicians, performing artists and visual artists in the history of Newton County. This will involve interviews with the artists and writing up descriptions of their art, music, dance performances, and so forth. We may make a booklet about artists and creative figures in the history of the County.

IV. Walking and Biking Tours

Interns will help design African-American history walking and biking tours in Newton County. Let's begin in Covington, by by talking to leaders and respected elders in the local African-American community. What are important sites of historical memory in town, including black-owned businesses, civil rights sites, and places of worship?

V. Slavery Research

At the Newton County Public Library, in the Georgia History/Heritage Room, learn how to access or the US Census records via microfilm

TASK #1.
Assemble a list of all slaveowners in Newton County. Alphabetized this list and post on the wiki. Please list how many slaves each slaveowner owned (and, if possible, list all known information about their slaves -- age, sex, black or mulatto, and other information).

Note: Some of the major slaveowners in Newton County are listed on
But many more slave holders need to be listed!

--The book The History of Newton County has a great deal of important information on slavery in the county, although it is sometimes difficult to find. Some of the family history essays on African-American families do mention family members who were slaves. It is useful to consult this book, and to list on the wiki the names of slaves that are mentioned. Many of the essays on white families do not mention that family members owned slaves, although these essays do provide valuable information on many related topics. Bear in mind that white authors sometimes use the term "servants" instead of slaves.

--Census and Slave Schedule sources

Consult the 1850 Slave Schedules and 1860 Slave Schedules for Newton County.

(Note: The US Census before 1870 does not list the names of African-Americans. On the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules, enslaved persons are only listed by age, sex (M=male, F=female) and color (B=black, M=mulatto) Names of slaves are only listed in the rare case when a slave is 100 years or older!

It is also possible, although a little more difficult, to find the names of slaveowners in the 1830 and 1840 Federal Census. In these years, slaveowners and non slaveowners are listed together. The second page of each entry lists information on how many slaves a white person owned, so you will need to flip back and forth to figure out who the slave owners were. Precise ages are not given in these census lists; instead, age ranges are listed (between 0-10 years, from 10-24 years old, etc).

--Probate records. One of the most important sources about enslaved people are the records in the Probate Court in the ground floor of the Newton County Judicial Center. You will need special permission from the Court to consult these letters, so please wait until access has been arranged.

There are several different kinds of probate records of interest.

1. Wills. (In some cases, the names of slaves that are being given to heirs are listed)
2. Records of the Ordinary Court. These are in bound volumes, and sometimes list inventories or specific sales or transfers of slaves.
3. Loose Probate Court records. These are in filing cabinets in the rear area of the Probate Court. Each person with loose records has a special folder with his or her name on it. In some cases, persons who died before 1865 owned slaves, and the Court ordered an inventory of all their property, including their slaves. This gives us valuable information, including in some special cases, the names and ages of slaves.

Post-Emancipation Reseach.

Freedom came to most African-Americans in Newton County in late 1864, although in many cases it took months or years until full legal rights were established from freedmen. The first census to list all African-Americans by name was in 1870. The Newton County Public Library's Heritage Room contains a booklet that lists all African-Americans in the 1870 census.

Free Persons of Color (before 1865)
To find the names of Free men and women of color in Newton County during slavery times, visit the Georgia State Archives and consult the microfilmed "Tax Digests" for Newton County. In each section of the county for a given year, FMC (free men of color) and FWC (free women of color) will be listed. These are difficult to read on microfilm!