Understanding the significance of preserving the records of the past for the
sake of the present and future generations brought a small group of Thomaston
and Upson County citizens together on May 31, 1967, to organize the Upson
Since that time, the Society has done more than listen and learn from
program speakers, presentations, and tours; they have actively engaged in
the collection of documents, artifacts, and structures of historical
The Society began its work by taking a trip to the Georgia Department of
Archives as an orientation for the task before them.
Through the passing decades, the Society has not ceased to sponsor trips,
tours, and special events as ways to stimulate the interest of the community
in its history and heritage.
Realizing that many people learn to love and use history by first climbing
their family tree, or digging for its roots, in 1969 efforts were begun to
bring together a census of the cemeteries of the County ("The Cemeteries of Upson County, Georgia"). Members
painstakingly copied the material on about 12,000 grave stones, listed them
by cemeteries and lots, and added an alphabetical index. This project has
been updated, edited, and republished two times, in 1989 and 1992. Proceeds
from the sale of these documents aid in financing the society's projects.
In 1930, under the sponsorship of the John Houston Chapter of the Daughters
of the American Revolution, two local historians compiled a 1,122 page
history of the County ("The Early History of Upson County, Georgia"). The Upson County Commission accepted this volume as
the official history of the County. By the mid 1960's these books had
become rare finds, so the Society joined in an effort with the DAR to
reprint the volume. The Society issued a second reprint in 1982 [and a third in 1999]. Again,
the sale of books helped to finance the work of the Society.
Beginning in the 1960's and continuing until the 1980's one of the
founders, Jack Morgan, a self-taught genealogist, compiled 180 family record
books. These handwritten documents provide a wonderful source of research
for families which have lived or still reside in the County.
During 1970, with the aid of the Citizens and Southern Bank of Thomaston,
Georgia, the Society acquired the Pettigrew-White-Stamps house, one of the
oldest surviving structures in the community, dating back to the 1830's
They moved the house from a location in the midst of the business section,
where it might have fallen to the wrecker's ball, to an accessible lot on US
Highway 19 in the south part of Thomaston. There the Society established a
combination house and community museum, which now provides a place for
hundreds of valuable artifacts, photographs, and documents. The
society opens the house for
visiting groups or individuals, and also places it on the annual local tour of homes.
During 1975 and 1976 when the City of Thomaston and Upson County
celebrated sesquicentennials, and the nation observed its bi-centennial, the
Society played a leading role in these observances. Among the centennial
projects, the members assisted in the publication of a brief, illustrated
history of the community.
From 1973 to 1979, many Society members played an active role in the writing
of the history of the First Baptist Church of Thomaston. This 1,087 page
book, fully documented and indexed, has provided another valuable resource
for family and local historians. These books are also on sale by the Society.
Starting in 1986, the Society actively sought to preserve the County's last
covered bridge, which was destroyed by the flood of 1994. The rebuilding of this historic structure, using much of the original timber, is now complete.
During the 1990's, the Society realized that local governments were running
out of room for records and that some of these old documents were not
properly preserved. Two successive presidents led the society into a
cooperative agreement between the Society and agencies of local government
to establish an archives. The Thomaston-Upson County Board of Education
agreed to deed a former high school library building to the City and the
County; and with financial assistance from Community Enterprises, a local
foundation, this building was restored and equipped. An archivist has been
employed, and the facility opens its doors daily for researchers. (Visit its website, Thomaston-Upson Archives, to learn more.) The
Society's meeting room, seating 100 people, occupies a portion of this
Recently the Society served as sponsor for a major local history project, a
book which chronicles the story of R. E. Lee Institute, the grand old school
which served as the center of education and community life for 117 years (Proud To Be From R.E. Lee).