I was busy working on my column for the Douglas County Sentinel, so I did not see the delivery driver, but I heard the thud as he tossed the package onto the front porch. Shadow, our black Labrador, trusty guard dog, and my part-time writing and research assistant, also heard the thud and was up from her tenth nap of the day bounding towards the front door. She began barking before she was fully awake, and she sounded as if we were being invaded by an enemy horde.
We went out on the porch to retrieve the package, but Shadow quickly lost interest as she often does and began snapping at a fly that was buzzing around her head. The package’s return address confirmed for me it was a scrapbook I had purchased for a small sum from a professional collector of paper items – envelopes, letters, post cards, scrapbooks, etc. When I found out a few days earlier this collector had a scrapbook from someone who had attended not only Campbell County High School located in Fairburn, Georgia but also attended College Park’s Cox College, I snapped it up thinking it might help me in my ongoing Campbell County research, and anyway, I’m always up for a little mystery regarding who the scrapbook belonged to and why it might have ended up in the hands of an out of state dealer.
Now, if you are like me, you have to wonder how anyone could let go of their memories – scrapbooks, photos, letters, and other personal property, but this often happens in many different scenarios once someone passes. Perhaps the person had no children and even so – children often let these types of things go for various reasons. Sometimes families turn over everything in a home to estate liquidators who auction off or sell in lots any personal papers or photos that remain. More than likely that is how my out-of-state collector ended up with my new treasure.
I sat down and slowly began turning the pages…many were empty, but you could tell the owner was diligent for some time trying to preserve some mementos from her high school graduation and first year of college. The book had a theme focused around a radio show called “Station School Days” which was appropriate for the early 1930s. I enjoyed looking at the artwork on each page as much as I enjoyed looking at the items pasted into the scrapbook. The pages were very worn, some were loose, some items were torn, but all in all it met my expectations for an 87-year-old scrapbook.
The second look through the scrapbook was to hunt for clues regarding who the person might be. When I was younger I used to write my name all over everything using the same format, “This <whatever the item was> belongs to Lisa Land” adding my phone number sometimes, but whoever this young girl was she placed no identifying information anywhere. Finally, I came to this attendance certificate issued by the Fulton County School System. The Class of 1933 at Campbell County High School began the school year as students of a Campbell County school but as 1932 ended the county was absorbed by Fulton County, so the students graduated from a Fulton County school.
I read, “Lillian Crowe is awarded this certificate for being neither absent nor tardy in attendance in the Fulton County School System during 1932-1933.”
I had a name. Now I needed to find out more about Lillian Crowe including that very Southern question, “Who were her people?”
The next piece of information that included Lillian’s name was her Senior year report card. During the 1932-1933 school year the Senior year in Georgia was the 11th grade as high schools in Georgia only went to the 11th grade. There was no 12th grade until legislation passed in 1947 adding one more year for those attending Georgia public schools, and it was not until 1952 before all Georgia schools met the requirement.
Look for yourself. Lillian was a great student, and thankfully her father signed the report card. His name, even his initials, would be helpful in finding the family in the census records so I would be able to trace the family’s path a bit.
Lillian’s father was J.W. Crowe. I began going through the Campbell County census documents including a search for J.W. Crowe living in Campbell County in 1930. I quickly determined Lillian’s father was Joseph “Joel” W. Crowe born April 25, 1868, the son of Thomas J. and Rebecca Crowe, a farming family living in Fairburn who had come to Campbell County with Thomas’ father, Abraham Crowe, a Revolutionary War soldier, from the Spartanburg area of South Carolina. In 1904, Joel would marry Sarah Belle (Campbell) Crowe, the daughter of George W. and Charlottie Campbell.
Lillian’s maternal grandparents and great-grandparents are buried at Owl Rock Methodist Church. An interesting note is that her grandfather, George W. Campbell was born in Ireland and came to Campbell County with his father, John Campbell, in 1832. As most early settlers reached Campbell County via the Carolinas or another section of Georgia, the Campbells were a unique early family indeed.
Lillian’s parents, Joel and Sara Belle married on August 21, 1904. Their first daughter Rebie Crowe was born in 1906 followed by Elton R. in 1907 and Leo born in 1909. By 1910, the young couple were living at Red Oak where Joel was working in a “merchant-retail store.”
Other children followed…Janie Bell was born in 1912, followed by Lillian, my scrapbook owner, in 1916, and another girl, Mildred Louise, in 1917. By 1920, the Crowe family was living in Union City, and Joel Crowe stated in the census he was working in a general store.
By 1930, Lillian had entered high school, and the family was still living in Union City along the Atlanta-Newnan Road/Roosevelt Highway. Joel reported he was the local postmaster.
Lillian wanted to record as much about her Senior year as she could including these faculty autographs belonging to Miss Marian Creel, Mrs. W.W. Wells, Miss Wilma Martin, Mrs. H.T. Bledsoe, Mrs. Bess W. Stroud, Mrs. Robb H. Johnston, Mrs. Woodward Well, Mrs. W.H. Cannon, Miss Ruby T. Hogan, Miss Mattie Jane Boyd, and Miss Helen Smith.
Lillian Crowe was one of the class officers her Senior year. The Senior Class officers were listed on another page as President: Russel Smith; Vice President: Sadie Brown; Secretary: Lillian Crowe; and Treasurer: Thomas Hadden. Along with the names of the officers were listed Leon Hudson, the lone member of the Finance Committee, and the Social Committee included Lillian, Lassie Cooper, Christine Duke, and Lucille Stamps.
Lillian also included a handwritten class history which was interesting, but sadly it stopped mid-sentence for some reason. I have transcribed what Lillian wrote below the image in italics:
Today we attain one of our educational ambitions for which we have striven for more than 11 years. This ambition has been instilled in us by our parents, friends, and successive groups of teachers.
As we reach the pinnacle of high school years it becomes my duty to retrospect and turn back the pages of history to the autumn of 1922 when a group of timid youngsters accompanied by their fond parents made their debut in Fairburn school.
Way back in those dim days graduation seemed like an eternity, but Mrs. J. Lee Barron assured us if we would but learn to use our ABCs and 1,2,3s we would finally reach that…
…Only seven of that large group of beginners are with us today. They are Adelyn Duke, Elizabeth Astin, Bessie Smith, Russell Smith, John S. Boyd, Ruby Smith and myself.
At the end of the first year we moved one step nearer our goal with Miss Irene McCollum as our teacher. In our third, fourth, and fifth years we struggled through the multiplication tables and a little reading, writing, spelling and geography under the leadership of Mrs. G. G. McNeel, Miss Nannie Lou Stelle, and Mrs. J.W. Amoss respectively.
During these years we were joined by Leon Hudson, R.O. Miller, Joseph Boyd in third, Charlie Harper, Lance Milam and Merril Boyd in fifth.
It seemed in those days that the sole purpose in going to school was to get the summer vacation somewhat similar to the man who hit his head with a hammer because it feels too good when it stops hurting.
In the sixth grade…
At this point the class history ended, and for whatever reason, Lillian left it unfinished.
Lillian did include the class song which was: Here’s to the dear members of class “33”, may we ever be loyal and true to our dear alma mater, our pride and our joy as we travel life’s pathway anew. For the pleasures we’ve had and the trials we’ve known are mingled alike as we part from our dear alma mater for soon we must go.
Out of school life and into life’s school.
The last part of the song – Out of school life and into life’s school was also the class motto.
A drawing of the class ring for the Class of ’33 was included. I am assuming Lillian did the drawing. It is rather good! I am also assuming the envelope from the Herff-Jones Co. contained her Senior ring when it was delivered and made a great keepsake.
The pages that touched me most were the fabric swatches from the dresses Lillian and her friends made in Home Economics, a class she spent two 45-minute class periods in each day during her final year of high school. I would like to think the girls wore these dresses to their Baccalaureate or underneath their graduation gowns, but of course, I have no way of knowing. She didn’t include last names, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out with all of the other information Lillian provides in the scrapbook. The swatches are labeled Elizabeth P., Emily, Frances, Maggie, Annie on the first photo and Clarice and Lucille on the second.
Next came the all-important prom invitation. Notice how simple. The dance was held on Friday, May 12, 1933 at the school, it appears, and Lillian’s date was John Hughes. I am not sure who he was. He is not listed with the news clipping I posted further below with the class members names, and he is not in the list of friend’s autographs I posted on my Facebook page here. There are several pages of classmate names and other information in their own handwriting. <you can click through even if you do not have a Facebook account>
Another memento from the prom is Lillian’s dance card. Notice John is listed several times…ten out of fifteen dances at least.
No Graduation invitation was included, but Lillian did collect several of her classmate’s name cards. On one page I found cards for Elizabeth Perkins, Russell Smith, Lassie Leah Cooper, Mary Louise Barnes, Samuel Russell Phillips, Harold Smith, and Hettie Greene Campbell. The second page includes the cards for Maggie Alberta Barge, Ruth Burdette, Frances Brooks, Mary Lee Hudgens, and Esther Laree Milam.
The Baccalaureate Service for the Campbell County High School, Class of 1933, was held Sunday morning, June 4, 1933 at 11 a.m.
Graduation exercises were held Tuesday evening, June 6, 1933 at 8 p.m.
A news clipping from the Fairburn newspaper at the time advises the Class of 1933 was the largest class at that time to graduate from Campbell County High School with 56 Seniors. You can click on the photo and use the zoom feature on your device to see all the names.
Sadly, Lillian had pasted a class photo in the scrapbook, but through the years it had come loose and was no longer in the book. Thankfully, when I shared the student autograph pages on Facebook (they can be found at this link) a family member, Rusty McCullough, identified his mother as a member of the class as Hettie Greene Campbell McCullough (her name card is posted above) and posted this image. I am hoping someone will be able to identify Lillian for me.
There were very few photos, but this one labeled “Lees Lake” was included. I’m assuming this was Lees Lake off of Highway 92 in Fayetteville…the lake still sits near the intersection of Lees Mill and Lees Lake Roads. Senior trip, picnic, a place to hang out? Perhaps it will remain a mystery…
By the time the 1940 census rolled around Lillian Crowe had married Joseph Martin Thompson who was eight years older than Lillian who reported on the census she was a beautician and had completed one year of college. Joe Thompson was a salesman for J.J. Peterson in Atlanta, and the couple were living with Lillian’s father.
For many years Joe and Lillian Thompson owned the Twilight Palace Grocery in Union City next to Melears Bar-B-Que along Roosevelt Highway and were longtime members of Shadnor Baptist Church where Joe served as a deacon for 50 years.
Lillian Crowe Thompson would pass in 1983 followed by Joe in 2001. They lie together at the College Park Cemetery.
The final page I’m sharing from Lillian’s high school days is this last page from the scrapbook. Following the book’s radio show format, the last page simply says “Station school days signing off…”
In the next few weeks, I will post the information from Lillian’s year at Cox College.
If you enjoyed this post you might like one of my books regarding Douglas County history that contains 140 of my newspaper columns titled Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County, Volume 1. There is a section devoted to old Campbell County, and many of the folks I write about have strong roots with Campbellton. You can purchase the book here…in print and Kindle versions. Currently I am in the research stage to write a new book regarding Campbell County history that will cover pre-county history through 1849.
You can “like” my Every Now and Then page on Facebook here to keep up with my progress and other projects.
Adrien Neely says
Lillian is on 2nd row, 7th from left. I am a nephew, related to Joe Thompson. I also worked at Twilight Food Palace for 4 yrs. while attending Campbell H.S. (59-63).
joan d pritchard says
OMG, I’m so glad I came across this. I grew up in that part of the world. I went to school in Fairburn and church in Union City. Joe and Lillian were members and friends of my parents.
Saralyn Ponder says
Thank you so much for sharing this information with us! My wonderful Grandmother was “Mrs. Robb (Robert) H. (Higdon), Johnston. I recognized her signature immediately! She taught History at Campbell when it started as a one room school house, out near Campbellton/Rico and retired in 1966 after I was born, to spend more time with myself and my Grandfather. She was remarkable in every way! A true Southern Belle.
Again, thank you so much for sharing this!
Colin Wheeler says
Wow. I found this page entirely by accident. I was looking for mentions of Rebecca Crowe. Lilian, Janie, Mildred, and Rebecca are all fixtures of my early life. Mildred Crowe, later Mildred Wheeler, was my paternal grandmother. I know those women as Paw-maw, Aunt Janie, Aunt Lilian, and Aunt Rebbe. I never knew the older siblings, who had passed long before I was born.
Lillian was very ill during the latter years of her life and passed when I was 9 from a brain tumor, but Uncle Joe was very stalwart by her side. My memories of her are warm and fuzzy, distant with time. I remember being welcomed into the grocery store as a boy, and the house they lived in right there on Roosevelt Hwy at the end of Virginia Ave. Mildred and Harry’s house was at the back end of the street, the home Lillian’s parents had built. Janie and her husband Leslie lived right across from Mildred and Harry.
Mildred’s house is still in my family; my brother and his family live there now. There is an old oak tree so large I can spot it quickly as I zoom in on Google Earth, in the front yard. It’s actually two trees that family lore says were planted as acorns when Joel and Sara Belle built the house, that grew together into one giant tree.
*sees the mention of Melear’s BBQ and Shadnor Baptist, both of which figure in MANY childhood memories….smiles nostalgically*
My thanks. I know your work was for your own reasons and purposes, but I’m grateful for the insight and context about Lillian.
Elaine Long says
I just love your work! I am reading Every Now &Then now. Love it!
I just read a mrs Lillian of Campbell High. Super interesting.
The valedictorian of her class was my neighbor and friend until her death in 2011. My dad was 2 years older but they were playmates. Ruth Burdette married Hoyt Thomas, 2 children later divorced. Her son and daughter are still around. They may have some photos of back then.
Ruth is on the group picture 8th from either end on front row. Coat has long lapels or maybe a scarf.
Hope this helps.