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Key families featured in history book

LAWRENCEVILLE - Do the names Allen, Bagley, Cooper, Hinton, Hall, Kennerley, Martin, Pugh, Sawyer, Wade or Whidby ring a bell? These are a handful of the more than 100 local family lines traced in the new book "Gwinnett County, Georgia: Families 1818-2005."

Gwinnett Historical Society members will unveil the book at a 2 p.m. ceremony Sunday in the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse. Books will be for sale at $55 each. About 250 books have sold prior to publication.

"The book records the history of these families and disperses the information," volunteer Bill Baughman said. "If the information is lost, families can access the book. Our courthouse burned in 1871 and a lot of that information was lost. This helps restore it."

This is the latest of more than a dozen books published by the historical society and is a follow-up to "Gwinnett County, Georgia: Families 1818-1968," edited by Alice McCabe. The historical society also published "The History of Gwinnett County" and "Vanishing Gwinnett."

The 1,171-page genealogical anthology is the result of four years of work and is written by 214 contributing family members.

Descendants from as far away as Colorado, Montana and Wyoming furnished their Gwinnett ancestors' names, birth, marriage and death dates, military service records and family stories.

The 433 histories and 39,439 indexed individual names are enlivened by 324 photographs.

The information is compiled alphabetically and chronologically and set up in an outline form.

The thousands of pages of donated information filled seven filing cabinets. Once the accumulated information was organized, it went through extensive editing by historical society volunteer members Baughman, Walter Freeman, Scott Holtzclaw, Alice McCabe and Pam Stenhouse.

"The contributed writing went from great writing to awful to really awful," Baughman said. "The biggest challenge was when a person used several different ways of spelling a name within their own article. We had to go to the census books and other records to research and verify the information."

Old and new Gwinnett

Most family researchers uncovered fascinating information about their ancestors.

Steve Starling of Loganville, the Gwinnett Historical Society president, documented facts about his mother's family line, the Coopers.

His ancestor, Vining Cooper (born in 1775) brought his wife, Sarah Hitchcock, and son, Levi, from Oglethorpe County in 1825. Gwinnett land lotteries had opened at the time, and Cooper amassed 1,750 acres in the Haynes Creek area near what is now U.S. Highway 78 and Rosebud Road.

Starling said he is glad that everyone who wanted their family's story told had that opportunity.

"This is a mixture of older and newer Gwinnett families," Starling said. "It is a good mix of a cross section of the county."

Gary Maner of Lilburn has researched his wife's Hinton, Long, Paden and Patillo ancestors for 30 years. The Paden family settled in Gwinnett County in 1824. Kathy Maner's great-great-grandfather, Samuel Winship Paden, served in Company B of the 42nd Regiment of the Gwinnett County unit in the Civil War. Maner said Paden was with a unit that surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Vicksburg, Miss.

Carolyn Buice of Sugar Hill already had eight years of research when she heard about the book project in 2002.

Samuel Everett, her great-great-great-grandfather (born in 1765), served as a justice of the peace in the former Franklin County, now Hall County, for 20 years. His brother, Solomon, served in the War of 1812 and his descendants married into the Hartsfield family, after whom Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is named.

Berry Hall Road in Dacula is named for Buice's great-grandfather. Buice said her research has brought her into contact with previously unknown cousins with whom she has formed close relationships.

"Genealogy is addictive," Buice said. "Check old deeds, court documents, inferior court records, census, wills, deeds. As you look at these documents, a picture begins to form. They tell you how they lived, their place in society, religious affiliation and sometimes, where they are buried. The more you learn, the more you want to know, and the more you find."

Books can be purchased for $55 from the Gwinnett Historical Society. To have the book mailed, send $55 plus $5 shipping and handling to Gwinnett Historical Society, P.O. Box 261, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. More information is available online at www.gwinnetths.org.