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Edwina Simpson and Sally Peebles, descendants of The Union-Recorder’s previous editors, pose with the photos of their great grandfather and grandfather that they had framed  for The Union-Recorder front lobby. 

The Union-Recorder is Georgia’s oldest continuously published newspaper, and thanks to two sisters, a portion of both the newspaper’s history and the history of the community it serves are being preserved in a unique way.

Edwina Simpson and Sally Peebles are descendants of The Union-Recorder’s previous editors, and though they both now make their homes out of state, their Milledgeville roots certainly run deep. On a recent trip home, the two women visited The Union-Recorder to donate framed pictures of their ancestors who served as editors.

“We both thought it would be nice to remind people of the age of this paper and show its history on the walls,” Simpson said.

In addition, they also donated newspaper articles and columns, some dating back to the late 1800s, to The Georgia Archives.

The sisters’ great-grandfather was Jere N. Moore, who went to work for the newspaper, then known as The Southern Recorder, to support his family after his father’s death when he was only around 10 years old. By the time the country found itself in a civil war, Moore had become editor of the newspaper and later became responsible for printing The Georgia Ordinance of Secession, which he typeset through the night after the Georgia legislature decided to secede from the Union. 

Simpson has read that he made no errors.

“He had to set that up and print it out and get it circulated throughout the state so that people would know that Georgia was seceding from the Union,” she explained.

Upon Moore’s death in 1902, his son, R.B. Moore — Simpson and Peebles’ grandfather — became editor, serving until 1942 when their father, Jere N. Moore took over officially though he had been working at the paper for many years by that point due to his father’s frequent illnesses.

“Daddy came and worked for him and actually was running the paper when my grandfather died,” Simpson said. “He was already running the paper, although at that point my father had been called on active duty in the Army.”

Moore’s National Guard unit, The Baldwin Blues, was called into active duty in December 1940 for one year, but by the time the year was up, the attack on Pearl Harbor had happened, and the unit remained on active duty. Moore was eventually stationed in the South Pacific, where he remained until January 1945. While he was away at war, his wife, Sarah Allen Moore, successfully oversaw the newspaper.

“She was the interim editor at a tough time in history…,” Simpson said. “She did a great job.”

When he was in the South Pacific, Moore would often send his column, “On the Side,” home to be published.

“Even during the war, he would send that to my mother, a column from time to time,” Simpson said. “Of course, it couldn’t be timely, and he couldn’t say anything about what he was doing because of the security clearance, but he would write about how the boys from home were…”

In addition to such historical pieces from the time, several articles the women recently donated to The Georgia Archives also concerned the Georgia Press Association, which was begun by their great-grandfather and other weekly newspaper editors. Their father served as vice president and then president of the organization, and around 1935, articles focused on a big 50th anniversary celebration happening in Milledgeville.

While many of the articles the women inherited concerned public affairs, some were more personal.

“There were a lot of very special ones,” Peebles said. “One was about our dog.… He had been a big member of our family for a long time. That was one that I read recently,” she said of a column her father penned.

Moore remained editor until the 1960s when he sold the newspaper to Peyton Anderson, who owned the Macon Telegraph. Along the way, though, Moore’s children earned college degrees in journalism and took turns either working at the newspaper at various points or submitting articles for publication. Peebles studied journalism at the University of Georgia and later completed her degree at Georgia State. She never worked at the newspaper full-time, but every now and then, she would write article, which she said her father was always proud to publish.

Simpson earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, and it was important for her to make the donation to The Georgia Archives as a way to preserve history.

“Newspapers contain history,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important that they be accurate and not somebody’s opinion. … The news itself should be history, and I personally think one of the big problems that we have in this country today is we’ve forgotten our history and we’ve forgotten what being a democracy means. It is a give and take. It’s not one side is all right and one side is all wrong. It’s about how we can work together to create a country that’s healthy, educates their children, feeds their children, goes to war if we need to. It’s got to

be about history, and so I’m hoping that that’s what my ancestors did. I think they did except in their columns, and then they would express an opinion.”

The women are proud of their family’s heritage in Milledgeville and the contributions they made to accurately document history. They are hopeful that their donations will highlight both in a special way.

“I hope [people] learn a lot of the history of the times that he (my father) wrote about and the history of Milledgeville,” Peebles said. “It’s a special place. It really is.”

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