The Union Recorder

October 16, 2013

Local historical marker goes missing again

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Markers around Milledgeville-Baldwin County recognize historically significant people, places and events in Georgia’s history and serve as a way to educate the public about them. When Sara Brantley, a volunteer trolley tour guide and local history buff, noticed “The March to the Sea” marker at 200 N. Clark St. missing, she filed a police report with the Milledgeville Police Department last week in hopes to recover a piece of local history.

“This was concerning to me because we have taken so many hits economically that we still have to protect our history,” she said. “Nobody can take our history, but people can take those markers that highlight that history. If we can’t protect those markers then we will lose some of it.”

“The March to the Sea” marker was first reported missing in June 1997. The sign was replaced and erected at its location near the intersection of Clarke and Montgomery streets just off the Georgia College campus in April 2010.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s gone again,” said Gary Thomas, park ranger with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “Our ability to interpret our history to ourselves is lost when this happens. It’s a shame.”

The missing sign represents local history in 1864 when more than 30,000 Union troops, led by Gen. William T. Sherman, marched to Milledgeville from Atlanta.

“This historical event not only involved Civil War in the south, but it’s one of our events that’s devastating to the whole nation, the south and Milledgeville,” Brantley said. “It’s something we have overcome.”

Nearly 40 historical markers are displayed throughout Baldwin County. The markers look to be bronze, but are actually made of cast aluminum and have very little value as scrap metal. The replacement cost for a sign is in the upward of $3,000.

“The markers are mounted on top of an octagon concrete post, which is held in with several bolts. Over time in the blistering hot summer and cold winter, the bolts can loosen up. Without the post, the marker probably weighs about 50 to 75 pounds,” Thomas said. “Some markers statewide have gone missing due to people thinking they can sell them, but they’re made out of cheap metal that has no value for scrap.”

The department’s local operations are based out of the Jarrell Plantation historic site in the red clay hills in Jones County. From there, Thomas oversees the maintenance of historical markers in Baldwin, Putnam and Jones counties.

“I do a survey once a year on the condition of the markers,” Thomas said. “I provide maintenance to take care of them to keep them from falling down.”

The Georgia Historical Society has administered Georgia’s statewide marker program since 1998, erecting more than 160 historical markers across the state on a wide variety of subjects. The maintenance and replacement of markers erected prior to July 1, 1998 remains the purview of the State of Georgia through its Department of Natural Resources.

“There are people that follow history of the town through these markers. We have such a rich history, and it really disturbs me that someone would be disrespectful,” Brantley said. “We have so much to offer as a community and as a tourism destination. I just love to share with everybody that comes to town the rich history of our town. I hate to see anybody damage anything that has to do with our history.”

To report any damaged or missing state historical markers call the offices at Jarrell Plantation at 478-986-5172. For more information about the Georgia Historical Marker program visit www.georgiahistory.com.

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