150th birthday

Douglas County Commission Chairman Romona Jackson Jones looks at old photos of the county on display at the Museum of History and Art for the sesquicentennial celebration earlier this year. The exhibit is on display through the end of the year. Due to the pandemic, the county has moved its planned 150th birthday celebration to a virtual event being held tonight on dctv23 and Facebook Live.

Douglas County turns 150 years old today. The county was created by the Georgia General Assembly on Oct. 17, 1870, from part of Campbell County.

While the county had planned several big events to celebrate the sesquicentennial all year, most everything has gone virtual since the pandemic hit the area in March.

The 150th Virtual Birthday Celebration will start at 7 p.m. Saturday and can be viewed on dctv23 and on the Douglas County Happenings Facebook page. The event will feature local, state and federal officials as well as Douglas County citizens celebrating the county’s founding.

The county also held a drive-thru 150th Birthday Souvenir giveaway on Friday at the courthouse.

“It was supposed to be a big celebration,” said Diane Turner, archivist and docent at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art. “We were dressing up here — once a month we were dressing up in different decades. The county was going to put on several different things. But then COVID hit and everything was sort of squashed.”

The museum, located in the old courthouse in downtown Douglasville, has a special exhibit titled “Our Past” for the 150th Birthday celebration.

The exhibit opened at the beginning of the year and contains photographs and historic items from the county’s history.

Turner said some of the items on display include golf clubs from Louise Suggs, who was one of the founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and a baseball bat from Johnny Hill, who played for the Atlanta Crackers in the 1930s.

She said a picture of the Sweetwater Park Hotel in Lithia Springs may be the oldest item in the exhibit.

One of the more interesting pictures is of the first patient at the old Douglas County Memorial Hospital, which opened in 1948 at Fairburn Road near Grady Street. The picture shows a little boy arriving at the hospital for a tonsillectomy being welcomed by nurses, Turner said.

There is also a picture from 1896 of fifth-grade boys dressed for the annual Dude Drill. Turner said the boys are dressed in tuxedos and top hats. The Dude Drill was an entertainment skit as part of the commencement program at Douglasville College, Turner said.

There are photos of four of the county’s five courthouses and much more, Turner said.

The county’s 100th birthday was celebrated in 1970 with two days of festivities including a parade, band festival and banquet.

A Centennial football game was held at Douglas County High School — then the only high school in the county — with a special program at halftime performed by the Tiger Band.

The 100th birthday celebration also included the “longest parade in the county’s history” with at least 15 marching bands from throughout Georgia and Alabama, according to an article in the Sentinel from the time. An hours-long band festival was held at the high school.

The museum exhibit will be on display through the end of the year for those who want to get a first-hand look at some of the county’s history. Admission is free. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Turner said masks are required. And she said guided tours are offered for groups, with no more than six to a party. Parties larger than six will be broken up into multiple groups, she said.

Call the museum at 678-449-3939 for more information.