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Washington Co. remembers 150th anniversary of Sherman's March | News

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Washington Co. remembers 150th anniversary of Sherman's March
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150 years ago this weekend, an event on Washington County's soil changed the course of that town's history.

General William Sherman led 60,000 Union soldiers through Sandersville, on his way to Savannah.

The march helped lead to the freedom of thousands of slaves there.

The names of those slaves may have been forgotten without the work of one of their descendants.

Sandwiched in between Macon and Augusta, most roads don't lead to Sandersville. But perhaps, for history buffs, they should.

The Genealogy Research Center is where Adam Adolphus started digging 12 years ago, for long-buried stories of his own family.

Adolphus asked, "What kinds of life did they live? What did they do?"

He unearthed much more than his own lineage. Adolphus spent five years documenting every African American in Washington County, from Colonial Times through Reconstruction.

He recorded more than 36,000 names in a book. Adolphus said, "There were more. It's a just a fraction of them."

Most of the people, he said, were slaves. Many of them, his own family.

Adolphus said, "My great, great grandmother had been used as collateral."

He learned from a newspaper listing, that the sheriff seized her and held her in jail, until her master paid a debt.

He said, "Every so often a little bit of information came forward." Some of it was hard for him to accept.

Adolphus found that one of his great, great grandfathers, a white man, served in the Confederate Army. He impregnated one his slaves.

He said, "I really didn't know how to take that."

Outside of his own ancestry, Adolph traced three Washington County African Americans who served as "man servants", alongside Confederate soldiers.

Far more, 45 men, joined the U.S. Colored Troops to fight for the Union.

Adolphus said, "Those people said I've got to do my part to make my people free."

Sitting in the house-- now a museum called the Brown House-- where General Sherman stayed his one night in Sandersville, Adolphus believes that's what Sherman did as well: his part.

He said, "Over half the population of Washington County got to be free."

Despite all he discovered about his descendants, he empathizes with the other side.

Adolphus said, "If your ancestors had a way of life that provided them with the good things in the life, and all of the sudden it's gone, that instills bitterness in you. That's understandable."

And it's all worth remembering, studying and passing down through future generations, he said.

His book contains only a fraction of the past, but he says there are still volumes left to uncover. "My search continues," he said.

Washington County's 150th Commemoration events started last week, but the big event is this Saturday.

Groups will reenact a battle between Union and Confederate troops on the courthouse square at 10 a.m.

Adam Adolphus will read the names of the U.S. Colored Troops from Washington County.


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