Written by Stormy Hicks and Published in the Abbeville Herald
Henry County citizens, local and state officials, gathered at the historic Abbeville United Methodist Church to celebrate Henry County’s 200th birthday Friday, December 13, 2019. The program celebrated the past while turning an eye toward the future of the county. David Money, Bicentennial Committee Co-chair and Probate Judge, served as master of ceremonies. Pastor Tim McCraney, Fellowship Baptist Church, gave the invocation.
Judge Money recognized the local and state officials in attendance. Dexter Grimsley, State Representative, Billy Beasley, State Senator, Henry County Commission Representatives Greg Reynolds, Henry Grimsley, John Ralph Saunders, Benton Beasley, Shirlene Vickers, Circuit Clerk, Kristie Allums, Revenue Commissioner, Sheriff Will Maddox, Headland Mayor Ray Marler, Councilman Jody Singleton, Haleburg Mayor Roger Money, Councilman Harnage Elliott, and Abbeville Mayor Billy Helms were present. He also recognized the beauty queens in attendance representing the various Henry County pageants.
In his prepared remarks, Judge Money commented on the historic beauty of the Methodist Church and the many assets that are a source of pride for all Henry County citizens. He stated the birthday festivities were not only to celebrate the past but also to embrace a vision for the future. He quoted Larry Smith’s answer to the question, “What makes Henry County so special?” Mr. Smith’s reply, “It is the people that make our county great!”
In looking to the future, Kate Killebrew Scholl told the story of Susie Ezzell Atta, a middle-class girl from Henry County who fought for her right to an education in mathematics, which was available only to male students in Susie’s day. Susie was born on November 11, 1918, and died August 11, 2014. In her passing, she left funds to build a state-of-the-art Math and Science Library in Abbeville. The history research area of the library will feature T. Larry Smith’s entire collection of historical documents. Ms. Scholl presented a plaque to Mr. Smith, recognizing his many contributions to the written preservation of Henry County. The Bicentennial Committee and Henry County’s citizens sponsored the plaque.
Stormy Hicks, Director of Headland Main Street, spoke about Henry County’s beginnings and paid homage to the adventurous pioneers who settled here. She said, “History has two sides: there is the making of history, and there is the preservation of history. Today we have noted our ancestors as we should. It is equally important that people coming after us have a vital and happy history. We believe that this occasion marks a glorious future, which will be celebrated in another 100 years. And to do so, we will bury a time capsule on the lawn of the Henry County Courthouse. We are asking each of you to write a letter to place inside.” She welcomed all Henry County citizens to leave articles and notes for the capsule at the Headland and Abbeville Libraries. The deadline is January 1, 2020. Ms. Hicks invited everyone to the Family Life Center for birthday cake and coffee.