Elizabeth Grant Overstreet, Story Memo

The Beginning

When I started this journey, I went out to the graveyard and got six names of people who had passed away that I thought might be good story leads. The information for these individuals is as follows:

  • John Floyd (Harrington) July 18, 1929 – July 9, 2001
  • Catherine Gray Cooper March 15, 1916 – August 27, 1983
  • Joe Milton Pierce December 1, 1897 – August 18, 1987
  • Mildred Stanford (Wife of Otis Hal Graham) February 22, 1915 – January 29, 2006
  • Mary Frances Nash Giddens July 20, 1908 – January 28, 1991
  • Frances Bone Hines April 28, 1914 – May 1, 1957
  • Sarah May Yarbrough October 16, 1885 – September 5, 1989
  • Cecil Grady Thompson January 13, 1905 – May 28, 1986
  • Kathleen James Hughston December 18, 1912 – September 4, 1964
  • John W. Hughston, JR December 26, 1915 – November 12, 1994
  • Scott Douglas Claflin October 4, 1955 – June 26, 2007

For awhile, this list of names sat in my notebook, untouched. Then, we had an assignment where we were suppose to come up with a story pitch. My original idea was as follows:

RE: Story Outline: Demented & Dated

Hook: 124 year old abandoned insane asylum sits and rots while the town around it thrives. A majority of Central state hospital in Milledgeville now sits stalemate, untouched, giving the impression that everyone left in a sudden hurry.

Sources:

Questions:

  • Why is the asylum sitting untouched?
  • What happened there that made it close down?
  • Why haven’t the building been renovated or torn down and the space made use of for something else?

Opinion: I find the grounds of the insane asylum intriguing. I won’t lie, Ive done my fair share of snooping around and driving through. But I always ask myself the same question, not only about the asylum but also about the men’s prison that is in close quarters to it, and that question is, what happened? Why is this land not being put to use? My grandfather went to Georgia Military College and during his time there, he held a position at Central State Hospital as a repair man. I have often talked to him about it, which I think is where my curiosity mainly comes from. My opinion is that if the space is not going to be renovated and made into a new mental hospital, then it should all of the buildings (since most of them are collapsing anyway) should be torn down and the space used for something useful, like maybe another area for the college to use or a new normal hospital. I just feel like there needs to be something done with the land, since a majority of it is just sitting abandoned.

Balance: This story will be balanced with a good amount of primary sources, direct documents as well as human sources, while reporting the facts that tell the story and the situation of the asylum instead of my opinion.

Emotional connections: The emotional connection from this story proceeds itself. Horror, curiously, angst, sadness and maybe even disgust are a few emotions that may come to mind when mentioning Central State itself, much less the state it is in now. The emotional connection I really hope to show readers is one that will come from the people who want to renovate the property, and their passions behind doing so.

Readers & Relevance: At a local stand point, it will not be hard for this story to grab readers attention. Everyone in and around the Baldwin County area know about Central State and are intrigued by the secrets it holds. On national level, I do not think it would be as relevant, unless people have heard the stories about it.

Because everyone got so invested in these story pitches, we were given the option to choose this as our semester long focus, or to choose one of our dead people whose names I previously mention. Initially, I decided to go ahead with the Dated & Demented story.

The Middle

One of the follow up assignments to picking our focus, was to turn in a draft of which our story would follow. This was my draft:

RE: Story Outline: Demented & Dated

Hook: 124 year old abandoned insane asylum sits and rots while the town around it thrives. A majority of Central state hospital in Milledgeville now sits stalemate, untouched, giving the impression that everyone left in a sudden hurry. But why? What is being done with this land and all of the builds? Are there plans of renovation?

Sources:

Questions:

  • Why is the asylum sitting untouched?
  • What happened there that made it close down?
  • Why haven’t the building been renovated or torn down and the space made use of for something else?
  • If there is someone or a group of people in charge of renovating it, who are they?
  • Who is the Central State Redevelopment Authority?
  • When were they established?
  • Who were they established by?
  • What are their goals?
  • What are their plans of action?
  • In what ways are they going about doing it?
  • Who is presently on the board?
  • How many volunteers are there?

Opinion: Same as previously stated in original pitch

Balance: Same as previously stated in original pitch

Emotional connections: Same as previously stated in original pitch

Readers & Relevance: Same as previously stated in original pitch

Outline portion for Draft:

1) I plan to background the Central State Hospital (CSH) Local Redevelopment Authority in order to answer the series of interesting questions surrounding Central State. The CSH makes an impact on the community because Central State is what Milledgeville is known for, so the redevelopment impacts the town itself.

2) I intend to find out information such as the previous questions I stated above. I want to expose who the (CSH) Local Redevelopment Authority is and to show the community that Central State is under redevelopment and in doing so raise awareness about what is actually happening out there.

3) I plan to look for a great deal of this information in my previously stated sources, mostly on the CSH Local Redevelopment Authority website, which is surprisingly informative. I want to use their meeting agendas and minutes for primary documents and public records, as well as the historic documents about the property. I also want to use other articles that have been written about CHS (some of which I have listed in my sources above) for my secondary sources, they have been helpful in that they put a lot of useful information in one place. As for human sources, I would like to interview some of the board members as well some of the volunteers.

After we submitted this draft, we were all called in to meet one on one with our professor to discuss where our focus for the semester was going and if we were on track or not. During this meeting, we decided that this story had been done before and that I needed a new focus. After much debate, I chose to do a profile on a dead person instead except I did not choose one of the people from my previously mentioned list. Instead I chose Elizabeth Grant Overstreet, the person who’s house I currently live in. This required me to turn in a new draft. That draft is as follows: RE: Elizabeth Grant Overstreet

Hook: Elizabeth Grant Overstreet leaves behind legacy at Georgia College and State University.

Sources:

Questions:

  • How did she die?
  • Who was her husband?
  • Did she live in Milledgeville her whole life?
  • Where did she go to school?
  • What was her job?
  • Did she have any children?
  • Why did she decide to build here?
  • Why was a scholarship made in her honor? Who is the person that the scholarship is co-named after?

Opinion: I do not have an opinion about said person. I found her name on the tax assessors report of the house that I currently live in (in Milledgeville) and I researched her. At first I was just researching Elizabeth Grant and couldn’t find anything, but then I looked at the tax assessors report more closely and realized that her whole name was Elizabeth Grant Overstreet. After an extensive Google search, I found out that there is a scholarship here at GCSU made in her and another person’s honor.

Balance: This story will be balanced with a good amount of primary sources, direct documents as well as human sources, while reporting the facts that tell the story of the life and death of Elizabeth Grant Overstreet.

Emotional connections: I hope to shed light on Elizabeth’s life and to highlight who she was, what she did in life and why a scholarship was named after her.

Readers & relevance: She became relevant to me the minute I saw that she lived/built the house I live in and once I realized that there was a scholarship named after her.

Outline portion for Draft:

1) I plan to background Elizabeth Grant Overstreet, and she is in someway significant to this community because there is a scholarship co-named after her and I am going to find out why and what her story was.

2) I intend to answer all of the previous listed questions that I stated and to hopefully find out some more interesting details such as the scholarship detail along the way.

3) I plan to look for this information in public records (such as the tax assessors report that led me to her), school archives (to find out more about her involvement at GCSU and the scholarship), interviews (hopefully with atleast one family member and coworker or past acquaintance), secondary information.

The End

A few assignments later we were asked to acquire public records that related to our semester long project. This is what I came up with:

Since my individual was not born in Milledgeville, Ga I could not get her birth certificate and although she did die and is buried here I did not want to pay ($25.00) for a copy of her death certificate (a copy that would not even include her cause of death), therefore I decided I would find her marriage licenses.

Pictured is the photo of the Marriage License. I got this document from the Baldwin County Courthouse Probate Court. The woman that talked with me was very insightful and helpful. I went in asking for a copy of Overstreet’s death certificate and when she saw I was turned off by the idea of paying $25.00 for it, she mentioned to me that I could come back and look through all of the public record books and take pictures of whatever public information I could find in them about Overstreet. Thus, I found her Marriage License.

Overstreet Wedding License

The document states that Elizabeth Ann Grant swore under oath to marry John Wesley Overstreet on the 21st of August, 1934. This will help me in my investigation because although I already knew Elizabeth was married to John, I now have proof and I now have the knowledge that they got married in Milledgeville and when exactly then did and now I am able to start piecing together a small timeline.

Draft of Timeline:

  • Married John Overstreet August 21, 1934
  • Built house together 1938

While I was there, I also acquired these other public records:

  • Last Will and Testament documents of Elizabeth Grant Overstreet (total 8 or 9 documents)
  • Acknowledgement of Service and Assent

Another part of this assignment that we are asked to do is to make a alternative story format (ASF). This was the idea I purposed for my ASF:

I want to do a timeline of Elizabeth Grant Overstreet’s life, or a biography of her. I also thought about doing one on the way the scholarship named after her came about, or even one on someone important in her life (i.e. her husband or a relative). For the sake of this proposal, I think I would like to do a biography/timeline of the scholarship being made.

Sources:

  • Actual scholarship: The actual scholarship will provide me with information about what the scholarship is for and who it is given to which will lend more insight to the scholarship itself.
  • Interview with someone from education cohort: This will help me grasp a better understanding of subject matter.
  • Document in the library about the history: If this exists (fingers crossed that it does) then this will hopefully have all of the background info on this scholarship. Such as, when it was established, how it came about, why they chose to name it after Overstreet, etc.

This ASF will provide knowledge of a small part of Overstreet’s life to the readers. By learning more about the scholarship, they will hopefully gain a more powerful perspective of who she was as a person. The scholarship can be thought of as a legacy that she has left behind, so it is important that the history of it is highlighted and I think this will be an easy way to show that to readers. The following is a rough sketch of what I expect this proposal to look like.

IMG_2626

After receiving feedback about this idea, I have decided to do a timeline ASF of Elizabeth Grant Overstreet’s life instead, just so that the ASF will be representative of the actually story.

I have started making progress at this point of the semester with sources. Starting with the scholarship named after her, I have come up with the following: So to start off, I went to Financial Aid. At financial aid, after several minutes they told me they could not help me but referred me to someone who possibly could. At university advancement, I was referred to a woman named Patti. I was told to call Patti two days later to allow her to get through a busy patch of work. I called Patti on Thursday, and scheduled an appointment to speak with her. During this time, she told me that she could only give me a few pieces of information. Most of which I already knew.

This information included:

  • The scholarship was entered into agreement June 18,1999
  • It is for out of state students
  • Junior-graduate students
  • Male or female
  • Applies to Education and Arts & Sciences majors

She then gave me the email of another person (Mindy Miller- mindy.miller@gcsu.edu) and the phone number of an individual named Kate Pope (478-445-5021). I emailed Mindy Miller the following:

“Good afternoon Ms. Miller,

I am in an Investigating Journalism class and I am doing a biography on Elizabeth Grant Overstreet. During my research, I have discovered that there is a scholarship named after Overstreet. After a little more digging I discovered that the scholarship is co-named after Overstreet and her daughters Mother-in-law “Margaret Thompson Walden.” I am contacting you to inquire more information about this scholarship to add depth to my story. I was given your contact information by Patti Underwood at University Advancement, she said you may be able to give me more info about the scholarship. I look forward to hearing back from you!”

Miller responded to me with “Hi Leigha, I passed your email along to Elizabeth Hines who helped with the creation of this scholarship. I believe you have already been in contact with the donor of the scholarship which will be your best source of information.”

Elizabeth Hines then contacted me with the following information “Leigha,

Mr. and Mrs. Walden are leaving Fri. and will return Mon. She said she is happy to speak with you. Her home phone is 452-0286 and her cell is 478-251-0455.”

In the meantime I interviewed my main source, a relative of Overstreet. I interviewed Joseph Grant.

The following questions were asked and answered:

  • How did she die? Husband passed away before in 1972 (heart attack?), she died in 1989 fell and broke hip never really recovered, passed at the hospital because of complications
  • What is your relationship to her? Great Nephew, his dad is her nephew (grandpa’s sister) of a six child family, three boys, three girls  (jewelry store downtown)
  • Who was her husband? John Overstreet
  • Did she live in Milledgeville her whole life? Moved from Eatonton, born in Newborn, GA (Newton County)
  • Where did she go to school? Went to Ga college as well
  • What was her job? Taught at the college, when it was still an all girls college.
  • Did she have any children? 1 daughter Anne Overstreet Walden (moved away after college, came back to Milledgeville around 10 years ago. He told her if ever decided to sell she would have first dibs) 1 son John Overstreet Jr (career navel officer, last assignment in Tampa Bay still lives there now)
  • Why did she decide to build here? 1936 Charged less than $3,000, knew the lady that lived in the house next door and that person’s parents owned the whole block.
  • Why was a scholarship made in her honor? Who is the person that the scholarship is co-named after? Margaret Thompson Walden is her daughter’s mother-in-law (husbands (Russ) mom)

Other information that we discussed:

  • He also gave me the contact info for her Daughter Anne Overstreet Walden (478- 251- 0455)
  • Pillars of the community
  • Husband and brother owned pharmacy (in downtown, it was right next to Ryles bakery)
  • Pharmacy sold out and the man who took over (Ronnie) went to work for CVS

After interviewing Joe Grant, I interviewed Anne Overstreet Walden and retrieved the following information:

  • Scholarship Setup in honor of both mothers who graduated from GCSU
  • Overstreet taught Art to students who were going to be teachers, things that they could use in the classroom
  • Brother is 4 years older than Anne
  • Taught in the summer after she had Anne
  • Art teacher, never really painted a lot. At home making stills. Made all of clothes until teenager. Would go to Macon and could look at a dress and copy it. Quite a seamstress a lot of flower arranging, belonged to Methodist church did flower arrangements for the and many wedding
  • Great cook
  • Home maker
  • Did bulletin boards for the church
  • Very involved, 38 when she had Anne dad was 45 (She never thought of them being older than any of the other parents)
  • Didn’t work out side of home after kids can along except for summer school for a few years
  • Moved to Milledgeville when she was 5, her father started Grant’s Jewelers John Clarke Grant
  • (Maternal Grandparents lived in Newborn) she was born in Putnam County (Eatonton)
  • Email address: grananne43@gmail.com
  • parents built house 1938, married in 1936 she died in 1989
  • Anne lived there her whole life
  • “She saved everything, tons of stuff!” She had to clean out the attic after mom passed
  • She design architechical elements of the house
  • Who did she pass exactly? She fell in October and broke her hip, came home for christmas and she was up and walking (people stayed with her at night) in Feb she had an aneurysm (thinks it might of been from blood thinners) 84 years old
  • 78 she had colon cancer (recovered)

Aside from getting a great amount of useful information from Anne Walden, we also remained in touch via email where I was able to get her to send me multiple photos of Elizabeth. These photos will be presented along with the public records I uncovered in my multimedia presentation.

At this point, I have gathered enough information to put together my multimedia story presentation that will be presented in the next blog post.

The link to the word document is as follows:  Story Memo

Length: 15 pages

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