More than 20 years after her death, Madeleine Kiker Anthony is still regarded as a major force in turning this former gold-rush town into a major tourist draw.
That was evident Tuesday night, as a large crowd of family, friends and public officials gathered at the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site to view the premiere of a 6«-minute film about Anthony's life, commemorating her 2003 induction into the Georgia Women of Achievement.
The video was a privately funded joint project of the Georgia Women of Achievement and Georgia Public Broadcasting.
"Dahlonega would not be what it is today without Madeleine Anthony," Mayor Gary McCullough told the large crowd, including friends and family, that gathered for the event.
At the time Anthony was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement, videos were not produced recognizing honorees.
In an effort to catch up on early inductees, Anthony "was at the top of my list" of videos that needed to be produced, said Gainesville resident Abit Massey, a member of the organization's board of trustees.
Through the donations and help of many people, "the video came together, said Massey, who headed the state's Commerce Department, now the Department of Economic Development, when he met Anthony.
At the time, he had recruited Bill Hardman, also at Tuesday's event, to start a tourism division for the department.
"The very first meeting Bill and I had outside the state Capitol was when we came to the Smith House (in Dahlonega), after first calling Madeleine Anthony," said Massey, who would go on to lead and later retire from the Georgia Poultry Federation in Gainesville.
"It was a delight to work with Madeleine, who was as enthusiastic as anybody I ever knew ... and who made things happen," he said.
Anthony, a native of Anniston, Ala., moved in 1933 to Dahlonega, where her husband taught biology at what is now North Georgia College & State University.
"Madeleine embraced her new hometown with enthusiasm and boundless energy," according to the program at the ceremony.
She helped form the Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce in 1954, worked to establish Dahlonega as the site of the first gold rush in the U.S. and "was a major factor in the creation of the Gold Museum," the program stated.
Anthony also led the effort have the state Capitol dome gilded in Dahlonega gold. She accompanied a caravan of wagons delivering 43 ounces of gold to the governor in Atlanta. She later served on a commission for regilding the dome in 1979.
She died in 1989.
"There were so many things that lady was: a historian, a researcher, a hoarder," said Sharon Johnson, former Gold Museum director, drawing some laughter from the crowd.
"That's not in a bad way. We wouldn't have the records and the files in this museum and at the library and other places if it wasn't for Madeleine Anthony," Johnson said. "... She loved Dahlonega."
Leigh Goff of the Georgia Women of Achievement's Board of Trustees said she didn't "have the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Anthony, but my sense is she did for Dahlonega what Mickey Mouse did for Orlando.
"It is just evident she was a forward-thinking woman ... and likewise we can look back and remember her life."
Massey also recognized Anthony's son and daughter, Jack Anthony and Madelyn Anthony Henderson. On behalf of the family, Anthony thanked those responsible in putting the video together.
Henderson also recalled her mother.
"I stood in the back of the room with Daddy and praised her for all that she was doing," she said. "I just wish I had her get-up-and-go."
Amy Booker, president of the Dahlonega/Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce, said Anthony's legacy isn't forgotten.
"We strive to bring her enthusiasm and passion for this community to life today," she said.
"We can only hope that she would be proud of the work that we continue to do based on the firm foundation that she built and dedicated so much of her life to."