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Late historian donates book collection to Forsyth County library system

FORSYTH COUNTY — Before he died, a local historian passed down a sizable portion of his book collection to Forsyth’s public library system to ensure his life’s work of uncovering, documenting and preserving county history could continue through future generations.

Don Shadburn, well-known in historical circles for his seven books on local pioneer and Cherokee history, conveyed his final wishes for the collection through a woman who helped care for him toward the end of his life.

“Studying history, especially the history of our local area, was such a big part of his life,” Sarah Curtis said. “He wanted to make sure that all the books and records he collected were not just preserved, but put to good use by other people who shared his passion for understanding the past.”

His bequest included about 450 items. Sarah Reynolds, the library system’s collection development manager, helped determine what materials to place in the library’s local history and genealogy collection and what materials to make more accessible to historians by putting them with other organizations.

About 180 items were accepted by the Forsyth County Historical Society, some of which are expected to be added to the library at the Sherrill House on Old Federal Road. The house is believed to be the place where Cherokee Chief James Vann was killed in 1809.

Shadburn, a retired science teacher, presented a lecture on genealogy and how to research historical documents at the Cumming Library in fall 2014.

Several works of non-fiction, some of which are collectors’ items, were accepted by the Forsyth County Public Library Friends and Advocates, who will consult with a rare book dealer to find placements with private collectors and historians.

Other items are specific to the local history of areas throughout Georgia. Some materials have been offered to public libraries in those locations, including the Chestatee Regional Library that serves Dawson and Lumpkin counties.

Some 100 items were added to the local library’s collection. Perhaps the most well-known among them are those penned by Sidney Lanier.

Lake Lanier, which is fed by the Chattahoochee and Chestatee rivers, is named in his honor.

Another book in the collection, “Oglethorpe’s Folly,” written by Web Garrison, a former associate dean of Emory University, details the colonial history of Georgia.

Also notable is “White Path:  A Cherokee Chief,” which was signed by its author, Elaine Jordan, before her passing in 2009.

The book tells the story of Cherokee Chief Nunna-tsune-ga, whose name translates to English as “I dwell on the peaceful [or white] path.”

 “We are grateful for these materials and honored to help our patrons conduct historical research with them,” Reynolds said. “We’ll wrap the books in protective covers and include a bookplate honoring Mr. Shadburn.”

The process of wrapping the books, adding bookplates and cataloging the collection should take several weeks.

Copies of books written by Shadburn are in the library’s local history collection. The books donated by his estate will be available for patrons to use later this spring.