“Historic Maury County – Places and People“
by Alice Algood (Editor) and Mildred Hartsfield (Illustrator)
The Maury County Historical Society was organized on 28 September 1905, and was active for a number of years, falling dormant, unfortunately, for nearly 50 years. In 1964, the original charter was found at the Athenaeum among local historian Frank H. Smith’s papers. Mr. Smith had served as the Society’s first secretary in 1905. Frank H. Smith was the son of Franklin Gillette and Sarah Davis Smith, founders of the Athenaeum. In 1965, a group of citizens who had long been interested in history met at the home of Jill Garrett and decided to reactivate the Society. Those present were Virginia Wood Alexander (Mrs. Charles C.), Alice Wright Algood (Mrs. Reuben C.), Dr. C. Y. Clark, Franklin Fulton, Jill Knight Garrett (Mrs. Ted), Marise Parish Lightfoot (Mrs. Jack), Evelyn Hodge Shackelford (Mrs. William), and Judge W. B. Turner.
One of this group’s endeavors to rekinkle Maury Countians’ interest in Maury County was a project to highlight the historic places and people of the county. Mildred Hartsfield’s art had delighted people for many years, and the Society, having sponsored many historical books’ and monographs’ publication, recognized the unique significance of her renderings of Maury County’s historical legacy and began to explore the possibility of featuring her work in a book. Hartsfield selected historic sites for inclusion from among her portfolio of works that spanned 30 years.
Fred Hawkins, Vice President for Publications at the time, began to collect data on these various sites, but his untimely death terminated his efforts. The Society asked Alice Wright Algood, longtime member of the Society, board member, a true Maury County native, and seventh generation Tennessean devoted to her faith, her family, her community and its history, and her nation, to assume the responsibility of editing the book. Her role in preservation throughout the nation, and specifically in Tennessee, placed her in the role of President of the Association of Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA), President of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation, a member of the Tennessee Historic Commission, and Chairman of the Tennessee Governor’s Residence Foundation. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the Senate of the United States to a 10-year term on the National Museum Services Board. Named also to the book committee were Ryan E. Crumley, Ronnie Erwin, James “Rex” Hartsfield, Charles Hinson, and Montee Sneed.
The remarkable ability of Mildred Hartsfield, a self-taught artist, is displayed in every work that she does, whether pen and ink, watercolors, or oils. Mildred Hartsfield finds and depicts beauty in all venues of her art. Her work graces the corporate offices of General Motors in Michigan, the Maury County Courthouse, the Maury Regional Hospital, and countless homes in this area as well as in other states.
Mrs. Hartsfield and her family moved to Columbia in 1974, and established the Lemon Tree Gallery. She fell in love with the history of the many beautiful sites she found in Maury County and wished those places to be preserved. As she began to depict familiar scenes throughout the county, her work found an enthusiastic audience.
Many home owners engaged her to depict their homes. Her prints have been sold all over the country, and are proudly displayed in the homes of former Maury Countians who ached for a view of home.
Over 100 of Mildred Hartsfield’s works of art are featured in this book!
Some of the famous county buildings have been lost over the years, but fortunately, Mildred recreated their beauty using old photographs. While very young, she drew her first home place, hoping that it would be there forever, but it, like so many others, is now gone. The wishes of the Maury County Historical Society, through the artistry of Mildred Hartsfield and publication of this book, were that, and still are that, these treasured sites will live forever in the eyes and hearts of everyone who is privileged to view Maury County, known as “The Dimple of the Universe.”
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