News From the Valley

We Had Everything But Money: Recalling the Great Depression

Few of us alive today experienced the Great Depression years first-hand, but most of us remember our parents and grandparents talking about how tough times were back then. They talked about banks closing and businesses failing, bread lines and soup kitchens. More than one third of all Americans were unemployed and living in direst poverty. For many, the CCC and the WPA work programs were all that stood between survival and starvation. But our ancestors were tough and resilient. They survived, and they rebuilt America.

You are invited to join us at our next SVGS meeting on Thursday, August 3rd, when Alice Bass will share what life was like for our ancestors during the Great Depression. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 7:00 P.M. in the SVGS Library at 215 Wilbur Street SW in downtown Live Oak.


SVGS Library Now  Part of the Florida Quilt Trail

The next time you visit the SVGS Library, you’ll notice something new at our entrance. We’re now a proud part of the Florida Quilt Trail!

Our “Pioneer Schoolhouse” quilt square, which was donated by the McGranahan family, owners and operators of Live Oak Pest Control, will serve as a cheerful visual reminder of the genealogy library’s history; previously, it was the band building for Suwannee High School.

The SVGS membership extends our thanks to the McGranahan family and Live Oak Pest Control for their generous support and community spirit.


SVGS Member Finds Long-Sought Link to Family’s History

SVGS member Pat Hines Mitchell was recently featured in the Suwannee Democrat with a story about finding remnants of the railroad that once ran through the property her great-great-great grandfather purchased after the Civil War.

Christmas Heming was a former slave who could neither read nor write, but who somehow managed to acquire $1,100, which he used to purchase 640 acres in Suwannee County. Mitchell and her family still own and live on 160 acres of that land.

After she learned that her grandfather had sold part of his land to a railroad, she and fellow SVGS member, Jennings Bunn, joined forces to look for traces of that railroad, which they eventually located behind a relative’s property.

Finally locating a tangible piece of her family’s history was an emotional experience for Mitchell, who told reporter Thomas Lynn, “It blew my mind. I spent all evening crying about it. I was so overwhelmed.”

Click to read more about Mitchell’s remarkable ancestor and her family’s ties to Suwannee County in the Suwannee Democrat.


FINDING YOUR ROOTS: Researching Family History at the State Library and Archives of Florida

Kathryn Palmer, the Archives Historian for the State Library and Archives of Florida, will be speaking at the regular monthly meeting of the SVGS in May. She will discuss basic methods and best practices for researching and preserving your family history. She will also highlight the genealogical resources available at the State Library and Archives and provide tips for preserving your family papers at home.

Miss Palmer is a native of Jacksonville, but has lived in Tallahassee for eight years. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Florida State University. She now works as the Archives Historian for the State Archives of Florida, where she is responsible for organizing community outreach programs, selecting archival material for digitization, and creating content for the Florida Memory website.

We invite everyone to join us on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 7:00 P. M. for this special presentation.



A real attention getter!

Chicken and Rice Fundraiser A Sellout!
Thanks to our many friends, contributors, and supporters who participated, our chicken and rice fundraiser was a success, netting the Society more than a $1,000 which will help fund our operations and programs in the coming months.
Special thanks to our tireless Society member volunteers who cooked, plated, served, and delivered over 400 meals in just over two hours. By 12:30, we were sold out.
The food was great, the fellowship was outstanding, and we’re already getting requests to do it again soon. It sure makes us proud to be part of the Suwannee County community.



Francis Gary Powers, Jr., Son of 1960 U-2 Spy Plane Pilot to Speak In Live Oak
Francis Gary Powers, Jr., national and international lecturer on the Cold War, and son of Francis Gary Powers, pilot in the 1960 U-2 spy plane incident that fueled the cold war with Russia, will be speaking in Live Oak on Tuesday, April 11, at 6:30 P.M. in the Courthouse Judicial Annex at 218 Parshley Street SW in downtown Live Oak.
Born June 5, 1965, in Burbank, California, Gary is the son of Francis Gary and Claudia “Sue” Powers. Gary holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration/Certification in Non-Profit Mangement from George Mason University (GMU), Fairfax, Virginia. Recently, he consulted for a Steven Spielberg Cold War thriller, Bridge of Spies, about James Donovan, who brokered the 1962 spy exchange between Rudolph Abel and U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, Sr.
Gary is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Cold War Museum, a 502(c)(3) charity at Vint Hill, Virginia. He founded the museum in 1996 to honor Cold War veterans, preserve Cold War history, and educate future generations about this time period. As Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Cold War Theme Study, he works with the National Park Service ad leading Cold War experts to identify historic Cold War sites for commemoration, interpretation, and preservation.
[Presented by the Suwannee County Historical Commission]