Griffin-Spalding Archivist Cindy Barton receives state honor

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Griffin-Spalding County Archivist Cindy Barton has been honored for her work identifying 15 local men who died in service to the nation during World War I who were previously unrecognized.

For Barton’s dedication of countless hours over more than three years, tirelessly researching nearly 100-year-old records such as newspapers, census records, city directories, military records and more in her effort to correct this historic inaccuracy, Barton received the Award for Local History Advocacy during the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council Archive Awards Ceremony.

“I didn’t want to change anyone else’s work. I only added to their work,” Barton said.
Barton became suspicious after attending a ceremony in Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery during which she noted the names on the World War I Doughboy memorial.

Suspecting the memorial represented too few lost during The Great War, Barton looked to other local records for confirmation.

She previously explained her evaluation of two honor roll plaques still hanging in the Spalding County Courthouse. These plaques are indicative of the segregation that was the societal norm of that era.

One is inscribed “honor roll” while the second is inscribed “honor roll colored,” Barton explained.

The honor roll for white soldiers has stars next to the names, a symbol that typically indicates the men died in service, but Barton noted the “colored” honor roll had no stars.

She suspected these honor roll plaques may have been the source for the names on the original 1928 Doughboy memorial, which may explain why no men of color were included on the memorial prior to Barton’s extensive effort that corrected this historic error.

To assume no men of color died during their service in the first World War would be illogical, and thus Barton’s quest for the truth began.

She says being recognized for her work is an honor she was not anticipating, but greatly appreciates.

“It sort of validates all the late nights I worked on this. You don’t work on these things for any personal recognition; you work on it because you just have to know. I had to know. I just did it because I had to do it. This research needed to be done and I had to do it,” she said. “It had been nearly 100 years, and no one had picked up on it all that time. Their memories were getting lost. There’s no one alive who knew these people. We were losing all their stories. I needed to research this, so I would be able to tell anyone who wanted to know what had happened.”

Another aspect Barton did not anticipate was being able to bring closure to families that did not know how their relatives had been lost.

“Once you’re into it, you realize you need to do it and have the knowledge so other people can know it,” she said.

Thanks to Barton’s work, we do know.

Floyd Anderson, Authur Ballard, William Bankston, Wilber Barlow, Rufus Graham, Edd Hammond, James Phillips, James Proctor, Penia Roberts, Alvertis Smith, James Touchstone, Eugene Tuggle, Earl Wadsworth, Joe William and Albert Wimbish – may these heroes never be forgotten.

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Comments

  1. Chuck Crawley says:

    I have met Cindy and conferred with her prior to her being hired on as the city/county archives regarding My people history in Griffin/Spalding County. I found her to be totally protective of an hidden agenda. She told me of her own family plantation and the salves graves site which she denies persons of interest to visit. If fact, I totally understands her agenda as it is in my humble opinion connects to the racist agenda which has plague Griffin/Spalding County for centuries regarding growth and fairness. To suggest the love ones of these Negros, who for 100 years later are now being recognized were not aware of their loss and the depth of their pain and suffering is insulting to the very community they represented. This story only continues amplify the depth and level of racism which has led to the death of a man whose murder under went 34 years of a Cold Case as his family moured and the murdering of an off duty police officer by local white racist citizen. These are only a few examples where the societal ill of racism permeates Griffin/Spalding County. I will not mention the issues surrounding drugs, unemployment and etc. As a Negro Historian whose roots runs deep within the community, this commendation leaves me to wonder what both theologian and philosoper Drs. George Dennis Kelsey and Samuel Dubois Cook responses would be if these Giants were here to bear witness to this so call truth. Less we forget, No Justice, No Peace!!!

  2. Cindy is truly a treasure!

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