This year’s Williamson Wisteria Festival brought hundreds of visitors from near and far to Benson Hilley Park. Friday night’s Talent Showcase drew a large crowd as around a dozen acts performed with a variety of talent on display. The winners included The Soggy Broccoli Boys in first place, classical guitarist Ryan Cummings in second place and musician David Heilborn who performed his original song in third place.
Pike County storyteller Anthony Vinson MC-ed the event and shared several historic stories since this year marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of Pike.
“Some of what I’m sharing was taken from the writings of Isaac B. (Bob) Williamson, a direct descendant of the city of Williamson’s namesake,” said Vinson. “According to Bob, the town got its name in an interesting way. Seems his grandfather, Isaac W. Williamson, was the town’s first station agent when the railroad came through. Isaac rode into town on the first train to pass through what, at the time, was known as Driver’s District. The conductor asked him, “What shall we call this station?” Isaac responded, “Williamson, after my grandfather Isaac B. Williamson, one of the first settlers to come to the area in 1827.” And it was so then and has been since.”
Vinson also shared stories about the county’s namesake, Zebulon Pike, buried gold hidden during the Civil War in Williamson, what it was like growing up in the ‘Little Egypt’ area of Williamson and the Big Foot encounter at Elkins Creek in Pike County.
“Let’s all hop in the DeLorean, fire up the flux capacitor, and travel back to the year 1822. That’s two hundred years ago for those of you who attended public school. What a different world it was, and what a different country we were. It was right in the middle of the period now known as the Era of Good Feelings that lasted from 1817 through 1825. A period that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans in the aftermath of the War of 1812. Man, doesn’t that sound nice? The White House was occupied by President James Monroe. His vice-president was Daniel D. Tompkins, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was John Marshall. A 24th star was added to the flag after the admission of Missouri the previous year,”said Vinson. “Births that year included Harriet Tubman, Ulysses Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes, as well as women’s rights pioneer Elizabeth Smith Miller. And here in central Georgia, a part of Monroe County was divided into Pike County, named in honor of Zebulon Montgomery Pike and here we are 200 years later attending the 2022 Williamson Wisteria Festival. What a ride!”