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Lumpkin County celebrates birthday No. 175

POSTED: December 15, 2007 5:02 a.m.

Lumpkin County Commissioner Steve Gooch led about 100 Dahlonega residents to sing "Happy Birthday" to celebrate Lumpkin County's 175th birthday.

Held Monday in front of the old Dahlonega courthouse, which now serves as the Dahlonega Gold Museum, the birthday party included a multilayer cake decorated with the official county seal.

After performances by the Lumpkin County High School Band of Gold, the school's chorus and fifth-grader Kayla Leigh Armstrong, Gooch detailed the county's rich history as the site of the country's first gold rush in the early 1800s.

On Dec. 3, 1832, the Georgia General Assembly established Lumpkin County as the state's 82nd county, and named it after then-Gov. Wilson Lumpkin. Lumpkin County was carved from part of the Cherokee Nation that Georgia had claimed and previously designated as Cherokee County.

Gooch read a proclamation declaring Monday a day of celebration in honor of the county's birthday.

"The social, political, spiritual, commercial, intellectual, recreational and cultural histories of Lumpkin County have been rich and the blessings on this county have been many over the past 175 years," he said.

Gooch said he believed it was important to celebrate the county's birthday in order to honor the past.

"I'm very proud of my roots here," Gooch said. "My family's been here since the early part of the 1800s, and we take a lot of pride in our heritage and in our past."

As a fifth generation Lumpkin County resident, Gooch said that he knows of families who have lived in the area for seven generations. Gooch said during the birthday ceremony that his great-grandfather, J.M. Duckett, was a road superintendent during the 1920s, and that he was proud his family had a history of leadership in the county.

"A lot of the families that have lived here for the last two or three hundred years had to make a living off the land, and it wasn't easy to do back in those days ... So it's good to celebrate your heritage and recognize some of the people that have been around for so long," Gooch said.

The commissioner gave a token of appreciation to eight Lumpkin County residents who were all older than 90. The eight senior citizens received a commemorative coin adorned with the Lumpkin County seal that harkened back to the days when a U.S. Mint operated in Dahlonega.

Mary Otway, 104, was among the coin recipients. She recalled sightseeing in Dahlonega 20 years ago with her late husband, and said that just one week later, they moved into a house there.

"I love it here," she said. "I love the fact that it's old fashioned. I'm a country girl and was born on a farm in Michigan, and I appreciate this kind of thing."

Otway said that she has enjoyed living a quiet life in Dahlonega for the past 20 years, and that she hopes the town will stay just like it is for years to come.

The birthday party crowd ranged in age from toddlers to teens to those born before World War I, illustrating that the county had fans of all ages.

"It's amazing living here," said 18-year-old Faye Colbert, who performed at the celebration with the Lumpkin County High School chorus. She said that she really enjoyed the old buildings and architecture of the downtown area, and was glad to see such a substantial turnout for the county's 175th birthday party.

"It shows how much people really do care about their county and the generations that pass through," she said.



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