Banks County Opinions...

March 15, 2000

The Banks County News
March 15, 2000

Be sure and return those census forms
Most Banks Countians have likely received a questionnaire from the census bureau. Most have also likely tossed it aside and not filled it out yet.
It is very important that these forms be returned to the United States Census Bureau in a timely manner.
The census data is important to counties and cities because it is used to determine grant eligibility and funding for social welfare programs. It is also used to calculate how many state and national representatives a state is entitled to. Leaders say that inaccuracies in the 1990 census led to Georgia missing out on two additional representative allocations for Congress.
It only takes a few minutes to fill out the form and it doesn't ask any complex or very personal question. It only asks for the names of the persons living in the home.
Those who don't receive a form at their home, may pick up forms at area city halls, pharmacies, banks and grocery stores. Display boxes will be placed in participating businesses to provide these forms and a place to drop them off.
Make sure you are counted.

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By Sherry Lewis
The Banks County News
March 15, 2000

Labor of love provides history book for county
I have always heard good things about Jessie Julia Mize, but I never had the opportunity to meet the woman behind the words. Most of you know exactly what I'm referring to: The History of Banks County, Georgia.
When sitting in her home recently, I quickly found out that Banks County was not the lone subject of her writing career, but her shelves were lined with other writings that had been published.
When I started working for The Banks County News, it didn't take me long to find out about the history book. I learned the books were few and far between and the people who were lucky enough to have one were not about to sell it or give it away.
So I've got some good news for you book-seekers out there. The book is being reprinted by the Banks County Chamber of Commerce. I visited Mize to write a short biography to be included in the reprinted edition.
It seems the book was printed in an awkward size, so other attempts to get the book reprinted were too expensive, but we got lucky and found a publisher who would take on the task.
When it was printed in 1976, Mize said at that time "it fit well on the library shelf."
When I told Miss Mize about the continuing popularity of the book, she had her own stories to tell as well. I've had calls from as far away as Oklahoma requesting a copy of the book. She said she had a lady call her up and offer her $100 for a copy of the book.
Needless to say, talk about the popularity of the book still puts a smile on her face.
The book didn't start out to be a book at all.
Mize began the quest in search of her family history at the urging of her parents, Charles Allen Mize and Leila Ritchie Mize, who were both born in Banks County. When Mize was born, the couple had moved to Commerce but her roots were right here in Banks County.
At 89 years of age, she still remembered the opportunities and good advice given to her by her parents. It was her parents who urged her to go to college where she obtained three bachelor's degrees, a master's and a doctorate. She, like her mother, taught grade school for years. Mize then became a professor at the University of Georgia where she taught home economics and consumer science.
Her mother gave up teaching and became the state's first home demonstration agent, while her dad had a career as an engineer and land surveyor. You can see the joy in her face when she talks, not only about her parents, but other family members as well. She told me about rides she had taken on a wagon with a family member in Commerce and she told me where she got her name, from an aunt who had died at a young age.
So while Mize felt such a strong desire to write down her family history, she felt a desire to share with others as well.
Once Mize got into the records at the historic
courthouse and began documenting the history of her family, she took it a step further and began handwriting a history of other families in the county. For about a year, she locked herself in the courthouse on the weekends and emerged with a handwritten manuscript.
"It needed to be done and I had the spare time to do it," she said. "I hope through this and other means, the people have tied themselves to their background."
After an afternoon visit with my newfound friend, I realized Mize is just that type person. She could give the people of Banks County a gift that would last forever and she was the one to do it.
Sherry Lewis is news editor of The Banks County News.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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