Day Commission looks to display Aberdeen history with exhibit

Jim Crosby, center, tells stories of the Sykes family to Polly Grimes, left, and Lois White at the Magnolias. Crosby donated the Bible, which belonged to the Sykes family, to a new room displaying Aberdeen history. (Ray Van Dusen/MONROE JOURNAL)

ABERDEEN – The Day Commission is seeking pieces of Aberdeen’s past for an upstairs room of the Magnolias specific to the Sykes family and the time period stretching from the home’s construction in 1850 to the beginning of the Civil War.

“Our idea is to display photos and other items representative of that time frame of Aberdeen history. It will add another dimension to the tours of the Magnolias because it will give a visual to how life in Aberdeen was then,” said Day Commission member Polly Grimes.

A gun and a sword mix with a Book of Common Prayer and lady’s clothing already on display in glass cases once housed at the Elkin Theatre. The most recent addition to the collection is a family Bible from 1840 once belonging to James Turner Sykes, the older brother of William Alfred Sykes who built the Magnolias.

“I’ve been in contact with a descendent of the Sykes family living in Virginia for quite some time and I’d suggested portraits of the family should be in Aberdeen and was able to acquire the Bible as well,” said Jim Crosby, who has been working on a book about the history of the Sykes family of Aberdeen and Columbus, which is expected to be released this spring.

Crosby also has other photos of the Sykes family to donate, along with other photos of historic Aberdeen. The upstairs room started to take shape just before October’s fund-raiser benefiting the Magnolias.

As the Magnolias is looking for descendants of some of Aberdeen’s original families in helping with the historic displays, the recent fund-raiser centerpieced art work of the Moran family, who are descendants of George Ohr, the famous potter of Biloxi.

The Moran art works were made possible by Aberdeen High School Air Force JROTC instructor Lt. Col. Jeff ‘Cog’ Coggin, who is married to a member of the family

Additional artists for the fund-raiser included photography by Dr. Banks Shepherd and Lloyd Massey. Other paintings beside the Moran works included works by Lee Ann Thompson, Pat Birkholtz, Jean Payne and April Sanders.

“We were delighted to have the turn out to support the Magnolias. Aberdeen citizens are eager to promote the historic preservation projects throughout town and the Magnolias is our greatest treasure,” said Day Commission president Bill Bryant.

“The artists’ work was a wonderful fixture of our fund-raiser. We heard so many positive comments from guests as they viewed the numerous exhibits displayed throughout the Magnolias,” said Day Commission member Lois White.

The event gave guests a first glimpse of the beginning phases of the room dedicated to Aberdeen’s history