Nine hundred cousins and kin at the family reunion! That’s what Jack Hadley told me in Thomasville, Georgia about last year’s gathering. Remarkable as that is, even richer are his accounts of the connections among those cousins and the heritage of hunting plantations in the south.
Today, Hadley preserves artifacts and historic memorabilia for adults with memories of the past century and for children to understand better. He maintains an astonishing collection in the Jack Hadley Black History Museum in this southwest Georgia city.
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Consider 1,800 photographs, letters, clothing, posters, banners and much more detailing local and regional black history, along with national records including the Buffalo Soldiers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lt. Henry O. Flipper and African American artists, sports stars and musicians.
Some you might see elsewhere too but Hadley has a personal story of historic fact like none other. He was born at Pebble Hill Plantation www.pebblehill.com, then an active plantation where his parents worked for 53 years. Pansy Ireland Poe was the owner and Hadley created a significant display of photographs taken from 1900 – 1940, honoring workers on the plantation and preserving their family celebrations.
He has also documented Poe’s concern for the people who worked for her in a book titled “Voices of America: African American Life on the Southern Hunting Plantation.” It contains the recollections of 16 people who lived at Pebble Hill fill the book, personal stories of relationships.
Today you can visit Pebble Hill – 80 acres of home and related buildings, gardens, art and antiques.
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In the spring, there will be even more stories because oral histories were collected all afternoon Jan. 29 at Pebble Hill, histories of people working there before 1978, growing up there or visiting relatives.
I’d like to cover the lecture about the new stories at 5:30 p.m. Apr. 23.
Now that I know about Hadley’s museum and book, I’d say the real treasure of a trip is going to both places, plus reading his book.
Hadley’s treasures are gathered in rooms of a former public school; Miss Pansy’s fill many acres. Each stands on its own, but appreciation of them is far deeper after seeing Hadley’s photo collection of life at Pebble Hill.
Tours happen both places Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Add extra history on a Thomasville visit and overnight at the 1884 Paxton House Inn, built as a winter cottage for wealthy northerners discovering the sunny south.
Proprietor Susie Sherrod is a retired Army Nurse Corps Colonel who has filled the home with four-poster cherry and mahogany beds, and collections of Lladro porcelain, Russian nesting dolls, Miessen glass, Hummel figurines and Italian hand-painted pottery.
Top Photo: Paxton House Inn in Thomasville features 12-foot ceilings, eight-foot doors and a dozen fireplaces.