October 26, 2007 - Byron Herbert Reece Farm in Blairsville, Georgia seeks exhibit artifacts from the early 1900's
The Byron Herbert Reece Farm Development Project is expected to make major headway in 2008. Many of the farm buildings are completely restored and ready for the addition of educational exhibits.
"Many of the details have been worked out," says Fleming Weaver. "We are hoping that local people will donate some of the items we still need for the exhibits." Home canned fruit and vegetables, an old-fashioned pressure canner, and glass milk bottles are needed for the kitchen area. The milk cow exhibit needs three milk pails, a butter mold, a butter paddle, and three milking stools. Other items that would be sincerely appreciated are assorted garden tools, insect specimens, heirloom vegetable seeds, a piece of hog hide with the hair still on it, old hog butchering photos, an old splitting axe and maul, leather britches, and an authentic wooden outhouse.
"Byron Herbert Reece was a farmer first and a writer second," adds Weaver. "The large barn, corn crib, smoke house, chicken coop, and spring house will provide the background for true-to-life displays. Featuring guided tours and live demonstrations of subsistence living, the facility will showcase Appalachian farm life in the early 1900's."
Back before electricity, farmers worked from before daylight until after dark to meet their basic needs. Families provided their own clothing, shelter, and food by laboring in the fields, woods, and on the homestead.
Many of the day to day chores that once were required for survival are now only memories. The Byron Herbert Reece Farm will be a place for future generations to see how things were once done. Once completed the Reece Farm will be a shining example of life in the North Georgia Mountains during the early 1900's.
The Byron Herbert Reece Farm Development Project is a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization and all gifts are tax deductible.
August 20, 2005 - Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Highway Dedication
The ceremony of dedication for the Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Highway was held Saturday morning, August 20, 2005, at the historical Union County Courthouse. The event was co-sponsored and hosted by the Byron Herbert Reece Society and the Union County Historical Society. Everyone anticipated the unveiling of the new highway signs and listened with attention as Dr. John Kay, Chairman of the Reece Society, introduced the dignitaries.
First, the President of the Historical Society, Ms. Betty Jane Shuler, welcomed everyone. She noted how the historical courthouse was the perfect place to hold the dedication ceremony. Next Dr. Kay returned to the podium and introduced Dr. Bettie Sellers, former poet laureate of the state of Georgia and one of the foremost Reece scholars.
Dr. Sellers spoke a few words about Byron Herbert Reece and read one of his poems. Her poetry reading was a highlight of the ceremony. She described Reece as a self-educated man with a mind like a sponge. She said, "Reece was a man of talent, a man with heart, and is an important part of our heritage in North Georgia." In her closing remarks she added, "We do well to honor him today."
State Representative Charles Jenkins and State Senator Chip Pearson were invited to make a few remarks. Representative Jenkins told how Resolution 295 passed in the house with a vote of 157 to 0. Special recognition and thanks were given to Mr. Mike Giles, the Vice President of the Georgia Poultry Federation. "Mike is our right arm down at the Capitol. I feel that this thing would not have been approved if not for Mike." Senator Pearson expressed that he felt privileged to represent the most beautiful district in the state. He also thanked Mr. Giles for his contribution at the Capitol.
Commissioner Lamar Paris was given the honor of unveiling the Department of Transportation sign. It was neon green, with large white letters that read, "BYRON HERBERT REECE MEMORIAL HIGHWAY". Commissioner Paris gave an impressive speech that ended with these words, "This very worthwhile cause is not only important to the people of Union and Towns Counties and North Georgia, but also to the state of Georgia and the whole Southeast", which referred not only to the Reece Memorial Highway, but also to the Reece Historic Cultural Interpretive Center.
Dr. Kay returned to the podium and explained that placement of the signs would be up to the DOT, but one sign would probably be installed on Neels Gap near the Walasi-Yi Center. He then introduced Mr. Fleming Weaver, Chairman of the Reece Farm Development Committee.
Mr. Weaver thanked Dr. Kay for his contributions to the Reece Society and asked members of the Reece family to come forward.
Mr. Steven Reece, a member of the Reece Society board of directors, talked about his uncle "Hub", and the honor and excitement this event brings to his family, Union County, and the state of Georgia. He introduced the other members of the Reece family and expressed thanks to everyone for taking an interest in preserving the legacy of Byron Herbert Reece.
Mr. Weaver presented the Reece family with small versions of the DOT signs to keep as reminders of the occasion and as tokens of appreciation. He then made copies of Resolution 295 and brochures about the Reece Historic Interpretive Center available to the audience. Mr. Weaver acknowledged Mr. Garland Reynolds and thanked him for doing a fine job as architect of the Reece Farm Development Project. He also thanked Commissioner Paris and Larry Garrett for their hard work
Dr. Kay was last to speak. He expressed appreciation to the DOT for preparation and installation of the signs. Dr. Kay closed the ceremony with a short prayer of blessing, "...today as we have celebrated the dedication of this stretch of highway to his memory (Byron Herbert Reece), we pray that those who travel it will henceforth do so in safety." Dr. Kay then pointed out the charts and drawings, and invited everyone to stay for refreshments provided by the ladies of the Historical Society.
Speakers were available after the dedication ceremony to answer questions about the Reece Memorial Highway, The Reece Historic Interpretive Center, and Reece Family Farm.
The actual stretch of newly dedicated highway is located on the section of Hwy 19/129 South that runs from the Union County Historical Courthouse to Neels Gap. (Locals have always called it "Gainesville Highway".) Now this section of highway has an official new name, The Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Highway. For more information visit the Reece Society Web site at http://www.byronherbertreecesociety.org.
Byron Herbert Reece
The Byron Herbert Reece Society's Capital Campaign Committee, in partnership with United Community Bank, recently held a celebration to honor the legacy of Union County 's famous poet, Byron Herbert Reece. It was an opportunity for community members and area businesses to learn more about plans for developing the Reece farm.
Lydia Jackson Sartain planned the festive event. She said, "The Reece farm site is such a beautiful, peaceful place. We expect it will bring a great deal of joy to many people."
Information was provided about the work that has been completed and the strategy for future development of the Interpretive Center . The Center, located in the Choestoe area of Union County , is designed to honor Reece's stature as Georgia 's Appalachian Poet/Novelist, as well as his place in 20th century Appalachian farm culture.
Fleming Weaver presented an impressive video, made with help from daughter, Kim Ballew, titled, "Byron Herbert Reece Farm Development Project 2005." It was a well done collection of photos depicting scenes from the farm. Everything from a chicken coop to visiting dignitaries was included in the video.
Sartain touched on the ongoing quest for grant funding; she stressed how the finished Interpretive Center and Reece Farm will operate with a small overhead. Sartain offered to name Reece's studio after anyone that gave a substantial check to the project. Funds are still needed for matching grants and other necessities on this $3,000,000 project.
Garland Reynolds, well-known architect, spoke a few words, "It is a pleasure to work on this project. We want visitors to get a feeling of who this man was. Reece always said he was a farmer first, and a poet second. Like all farmers, Reece understood the seasons. We are incorporating Reece's unique view into the Center. This will be the number one tourist attraction in our area."
Commissioner Lamar Paris was next to speak. He told about growing up a "town boy" here in Union County . Paris said that his first experience with farming was hoeing long rows of corn at the Experiment Station. Paris added another personal tidbit, "I am just recently developing an appreciation for poetry." Paris went on to say, "We want to remember this man (Reece) who is a part of our history. It's an honor for me to work on preserving this part of our heritage."
Next, Sartain introduced her former teacher, Dr. Bettie Sellers. Sellers, in her distinctive voice, recited some of Reece's poetry. She told of meeting with Reece over 50 years ago. "He wore overalls and work boots. I wish I could have taped his spoken words for future generations."
Sellers recommended that everyone read Reece's poems out loud. "The words are beautiful and get better every time you hear them." Sellers reminded readers about Reece's two novels. "They are like poetry, beautiful things."
Dr. John Kay, Chairman of the Reece Society, was last to speak. He thanked United Community Bank for hosting the event and expressed appreciation to everyone that participated in the celebration.
Many people have recognized Reece's genius and have helped to keep his memory alive. Dr. Cook at Young Harris College , along with Dr. Sellers, has worked to preserve the memory of Reece. Mr. Harold R. West, of North Georgia News, also recognized Reece's talents. Many articles about Reece have been printed in North Georgia News throughout the years.
Classes are currently being taught about Reece at Young Harris College and with the completion of the much anticipated Reece Farm and Interpretive Center the name of Byron Herbert Reece will live on. His name, and his work, will have a place in history.