ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Close to 100 people gathered at Alpharetta City Hall Sunday at a special Veterans Day ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities in World War I — “The War to End All Wars.”
The event, which featured photos and artifacts from the era gathered from historical societies from three North Fulton cities, was a first for the area.
Representatives from the three organizations said the service marked the launch of the North Fulton Historical Alliance, an umbrella group dedicated to sharing resources to promote historical preservation and education throughout the area.
It was also a chance for the individual groups to collaborate for ways to expand and improve their own organizations.
Roswell Historical Society President Juliette Johnson said Roswell has one of the richest historical archives in the area outside Atlanta, but she wants to generate more support for a place to display the artifacts. Alpharetta, she said, has taken the lead by donating space for a history museum at its city hall.
“We are desperately trying to get a space like this one in Roswell,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t do anybody any good if it’s locked behind a vault and people have to ask to come by and see it. Just trying to get a space to display our collection has been my goal for the last two years as president.”
Johns Creek Historical Society President Joan Compton is in a similar situation. As a young organization in a city that is barely a decade old, she said she wants to expand interest in the organization to promote local support. The newly formed alliance will help, she said.
“It makes a lot of sense to have this collaboration between historical societies in North Fulton,” she said. “We share a lot of history. We share a lot of people.”
Sunday’s Veterans Day event was coordinated by the Alpharetta Historical Society which hosted the program and arranged for artifact displays within a few paces of its newly opened museum.
“This should help all our societies promote historical efforts in the area,” said President Pat Miller.
Through the first part of the early afternoon event, visitors wandered past some 40 or 50 displays set up on tables in the City Hall atrium.
One display included a “Star Flag” from Roswell’s historic Barrington Hall which hung at the home’s entrance during the war years to honor the five family members who served in the armed forces. Autrey Mills Nature Preserve and Heritage Center in Johns Creek provided a World War I uniform on loan for the display.
The program concluded with a lecture by local historian Michael Hitt, who dressed for the occasion in a uniform from World War I.
Hitt used the opportunity to profile key local figures and events that gained notoriety during the war.
He spoke at length about the notorious incident at Steele’s Bridge, in which an army convoy suffered casualties while on a secret mission to arrest deserters hiding in southern Cherokee County. His talk also included a tribute to area resident Camille O’Brien — the only nurse from the famous Emory Unit to die in the unit’s service in Algeria and France.