- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

ROME, Ga. (AP) - When it came to choosing local legends, Russell McClanahan said there were just certain people who stood out.

The historian and archivist at the Rome Area History Museum said he also included characters and uplifting people he’s met through the years in his new book “Legendary Locals of Rome.”

“People make an impact in different ways,” McClanahan said.

Charlie Silvers, a former street sweeper in Rome, and Shem Thomas, a janitor at Darlington School, are among those McClanahan has featured.

“It was hard to feel depressed when you’d be around Charlie, because here was a guy who was poor as a church mouse and just as happy as he could be because he had a job,” McClanahan said.

He said Thomas was the second person Darlington hired and he stayed with the school for more than 40 years.

“He was a mentor and so well-respected, because kids didn’t have to be on their guard with him,” McClanahan said.

Current Romans are also featured, including Kennedy Williams, a young woman who has been dealing with kidney issues all of her life.

“I just met her and she kind of pulls at your heart when you think about her,” McClanahan said.

Iris Kinnebrew, who played a key role in the integration of East Rome High and is still a role model, is also included in the book.

Historical figures also are featured, from Civil War-era congressman Augustus Romaldus Wright and Judge John W. Hooper, who presided over a number of cases involving the Cherokee removal, to Peggy Sneed, Rome’s most famous madam.

McClanahan’s interest in history was stoked years ago, he said, when a relative handed him a grocery bag full of letters and pictures of Rome going all the way back to 1844.

On Dec. 1, the Rome Area History Museum will host a fundraiser cocktail party to introduce “Legendary Locals of Rome.”

The book-signing party will be at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the museum, 305 Broad St. All proceeds from the sale of the book, at $21.99, will benefit the history museum.

There is no charge to get into the event. Attendees are advised to enter the museum from the rear because renovations are still underway on the Broad Street side of the building.

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Information from: Rome News-Tribune, https://www.romenews-tribune.com


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