GS Hosts Talk on African-American Legacy

Jason Lee Edwards comes by his interest in the African-American families of our area for good reason: his ancestors once owned a slave. The award-winning historian will present a talk on Finding the Forgotten: The African-American Families of Towns and Clay Counties at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Hayesville on Saturday, June 10, from 10:00 until 12:00. Everyone is invited.
Edwards will share his findings about the African-American families of the Hiawassee and Brasstown Valleys during the period from the 1790s to the 1910s. He has gathered information about enslaved persons, free persons of color, and the families who moved into this area post-emancipation.
Edwards, who has been researching local and family history for almost 20 years, says, “I discovered that my Russell ancestors of Towns County had purchased a slave named Jack, and I wanted to know more about him and what became of him. This led me to discover that following emancipation, Jack moved to Clay County, where he lived for a number of years.” Both Clay and Towns Counties once had thriving African-American communities. “I made it my mission,” he claims, “to find out as much as I could about the early families and to share that information with others so that these African-Americans would no longer be forgotten.”
Although Edwards' family roots run deep in the Hiawassee and Brasstown Valleys, his greatgrandparents, like many others, had to leave the area to find work, so he grew up west of Atlanta. But when he visited relatives in the mountains, he always felt that he was “at home.” In 2015 he moved to the area to attend Young Harris College, where he majored in history. He was the 2017 recipient of the Joseph Wilson Boone award for the most outstanding history major at the college, and when he graduated on May 6 of this year, he was awarded a medal for the highest GPA in the graduating class, a 4.0.
He has also served as president of the Paulding County Georgia Historical Society. After moving to Young Harris, he was appointed Deputy Historian of Town County in 2016. At Edwards' talk at Good Shepherd, refreshments will be served, and after the talk, the audience will visit the Fort Hembree cemetery in Hayesville, where some African-Americans are buried.
Good Shepherd is located at 495 Herbert Hills Drive on Hwy. 64E, about a mile east of Walgreen's. The website describes the church's many other programs: