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History still on the march

POSTED: February 3, 2014 8:10 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Richard Loper of the Historic Effingham Society presents Pearl Boynes with the group’s member of the year plaque at the annual HES banquet Saturday night at New Ebenezer Retreat Center. Alongside is HES president Norma Jean Morgan.

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These days, the Historic Effingham Society appreciates a contributor like John Tebeau more than ever.

The HES, which survives solely on donations and membership dues, continues to face financial struggles. The organization launched the Save the Museum campaign in 2012 to raise money to keep the Effingham Museum and Living History Site in operation.

Tebeau was one of five people to receive a President’s Award at the Historic Effingham Society’s annual banquet Saturday at the New Ebenezer Retreat Center.

“He has been an ongoing contributor during this time of Save the Museum, where we sometimes don’t know from week to week if we’re going to be able to keep the museum open,” said HES president Norma Jean Morgan. “He has been a very generous supporter.”

President’s Awards are given for “continuous support of Historic Effingham Society.” Also receiving them this year were David Seitz and sisters Shelby, Haley and Chloe Minick.

Seitz serves on the HES executive board. Morgan described him as “the man who always steps up and says, ‘We can do that.’”

Three of the youngest members in attendance, the Minick sisters are continuing a family tradition of being HES members. Haley described preserving Effingham County’s history as a responsibility, not a choice.

“We want that history to be preserved to the younger generations, because a lot of them really aren’t interested in it now,” she said. “We just feel like it’s important to start getting younger people involved and just telling people about it that way.”

The Historic Effingham Society honored Pearl Boynes as its Member of the Year. Along with being active in the HES, Boynes is president of the Guyton Historic Preservation Commission.

Boynes, an HES board member, was shocked when her name was called as this year’s award recipient.

“Pearl has never been speechless. She says she’s speechless,” HES past president Richard Loper joked as he presented Boynes with a plaque and a lifetime HES membership.

The organization didn’t have to look far for the recipient of this year’s Preservation Award, given for restoring or preventing from demolition a local building that is at least 75 years old.

The award went to the Historic Effingham Society itself, for giving new life to the Blandford Depot. Morgan accepted the award on behalf of the HES.

The depot, once a hub of activity along the Central of Georgia Railroad, was moved to the Living History Site in 2011 and refurbished by volunteers. The restored depot was dedicated in April as part of Olde Effingham Day.

The banquet’s guest speaker, retired educator Benny Ferguson, discussed the music and musicians of the Confederate States of America. He explained the key role field musicians had in Civil War-era military units, playing marching music for their fellow troops.

Ferguson demonstrated instruments from that period — a fife and two cornets, one made in America and the other in Germany — long before the days of radio and television.

“There was no other way then to duplicate music other than to do it live,” he said.

Ferguson stated that “music affects you every single day of your life.” He pointed to the soothing sounds played in a doctor’s office, the pounding beats blared at sporting events or the pleasant music piped through a grocery store to encourage customers to spend more time there.

Music’s impact in Civil War times was just as pronounced, or even more so, than today, he said.

“The power of music is phenomenal,” Ferguson said. “It would have to be powerful to get me to jump out of a foxhole.”

He described field musicians as “mainstays of both armies” during the war. The marching music played by the Union and Confederate troops was surprisingly similar.

“It’s interesting, the tunes were the same, North and South,” Ferguson said. “The differences in this country are East and West.”

Along with playing the instruments he brought along, Ferguson shared recorded clips of a few Civil War-era songs.  “Lorena” was the most popular song of the 1860s, he said.

“It was a very romantic, emotional song,” Ferguson said. “People wore their emotions on their sleeves a lot more than we do today.”


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