Heroes are people who inspire us, people who have taken steps before us, forged the way. Heroes show us how to live, sometimes pulling from a lifetime of living, a lifetime of lessons.
Born on June 4, 1911, Cartersville native Elizabeth Garrison, just celebrated her 100th birthday.
Having resided just outside the city limits of Cartersville in a farmhouse built by her father more than 70 years ago, Garrison has seen more than a few changes in our town.
“This is where my father and all my brothers were born,” said Garrison. “My grandfather bought the family property just after the Civil War.”
Garrison attended Pine Log Elementary as a little girl through the seventh grade when she transferred to . She started her first job teaching elementary school while she attended college at Oglethorpe University.
Garrison’s 100 years have been filled with more than a few adventures.
One of her fondest memories is delivering the mail during World War II when there were no men to deliver it. Garrison’s father was a postmaster for 30 years, and when she took over during the war, she became the first lady in the area to deliver mail in a jeep.
“I carried the mail for 5 years until the war was over, then I gave over the job to returning soldiers,” said Garrison. “It was very good fun to be able to help out during the war because so many of the mothers were left at home with no way of hearing from their husbands. I remember one year there was a lady who hadn’t heard from her husband for 2 months. When I delivered two letters to her from her husband, you’ve never seen a happier person.”
There is a plethora of local history tied to Garrison’s family, and even a movie filmed at her family homestead called Shenandoah several decades ago.
“I had three brothers named Stewart, Ralph and Joseph Buford Mayhan Junior,” said Garrison. “My youngest brother helped found a town named Westville near Columbus, GA, and there was a book written about it.”
Garrison and her brother penned a book together as well, titled The History of Pine Log Methodist Church. Coincidentally, she is the oldest living member of Pine Log Methodist’s congregation.
Garrison is also a proud member of the Daughters of The American Revolution.
Having been surrounded by so much of Cartersville’s history and culture, Garrison became a historian and she currently possesses hundreds of historical documents filled with information about Cartersville’s citizens and their families from the 1800s. She’s donated numerous documents and artifacts to the and others in surrounding areas.
Garrison has been fortunate enough to enjoy a life full of friends, such as Jodie Hill, the Kennesaw historian who restored the famous writer Cora Harris’ home and donated the home to Kennesaw State University. She recalls Hill played a special happy birthday tune on his violin for her on her 95th birthday.
“Cartersville’s changed in a lot of ways over time. The schools have grown and we have lots of new stores now. There were hardly any stores back when I was teaching,” said Garrison. “Old Tennessee Street used to be the main way into Cartersville. There was a train called the short dog that took people out of Cartersville, into Rydal, and back. People would ride to church like that. It was very different.”
Garrison celebrated another special anniversary on June 3. It was her 77th wedding anniversary with her late husband, Ernest Garrison, whom she married in 1934. You may remember him from .
“We went to Florida for our honeymoon on my birthday,” said Garrison. “I was just 23 years old.”
Garrison and her husband had one son named Joseph Claude Garrison.
Garrison now has two grandchildren, Vicky Manring who is married to Sharm Manring, and Lori Michelle Davidson.
Garrison has four great-grandchildren, Molly Manring and James Manring, and Austin and Dianna Davidson.
Garrison has many people in her life now who play a hand in helping her get around and stay up to her old antics, including Joanne Harrison, who has been one of Elizabeth’s caretakers for almost 7 years and Cleo Mayhan Garrison, her former daughter-in-law, who comes one or twice a week to visit.
“When you get to be 100 years old, you sometimes forget things, but I do alright,” said Garrison. “I can’t believe I’m 100, it doesn’t feel like that much time has gone by.”
The White House sent Garrison a Happy 100th Birthday letter to commemorate the important date, but Elizabeth is hoping for a letter from Jimmy Carter.
“The most memorable thing I can think of from the past 100 years is that Jimmy Carter was my favorite president,” Garrison said with a laugh.
As for the most important lesson her 100 years have taught her?
“The most important thing, my best piece of advice, is to obey God and to learn to treat others as you would like to be treated.”