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Athens Author Pens Cookbook That Also Tells Story of Mother-in-law’s Recipes and Family

A holiday dinner in Athens back in the 1960s might include chicken and dumplings, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing and deviled eggs.

The desserts could range from ambrosia, pound cake, 7 Up cake and to a candy called “divinity.”

Those are the kinds of food that Donny Baily Seagraves enjoyed during Sunday dinners and holiday meals at the modest wood-frame home of her in-laws that sat on a corner lot at 215 Georgia Dr. in Athens.

Writing about family history

Seagraves, a freelance writer, novelist and book seller in Athens, has written a family history book peppered with recipes saved by her mother-in-law, the late Annie D. Pettyjohn Seagraves.

There are also recipes donated by other members of the family, including numerous from Anne Seagraves of Madison County, who is associated with the historic Seagraves Mill that once produced a popular brand of cornmeal.

The 335-page book “Cooking with Annie D: Southern Recipes Seasoned With Seagraves and Pettyjohn Family History,” was recently released from College Coile Press in Athens.

“She developed Alzheimer’s when she got older, but before she lost her memory, she wrote these recipes for the family,” Seagraves said recently about her mother-in-law.

“A few years after she died, we (husband Phillip Seagraves) ended up with her photo albums and papers,” Seagraves said. The initial idea behind the book was to preserve the photos, recipes and family history for the younger generations.

The author collected nearly 200 recipes representing how foods were prepared back in the days before microwave ovens and air fryers.

Discovering family connections

Annie D Seagraves, left, and her older sister, Agnes P.  Russell pose in this undated photo.

“I enjoyed discovering the connections between the Athens and Madison County Seagraves,” Seagraves said about her research into the families and the unexpected connections.

Annie D’s husband, Pete Seagraves, owned a service station on Oconee Street back when she and Phillip married. He had also owned a Phillip 66 station near the present-day bypass and Lexington Road, but the building was torn down several years ago.

Meals at the Georgia Drive house are remembered because of the good food made in the small kitchen on holidays and after-church Sunday gatherings. In the book, Seagraves remembers her first visit to the house when she began dating Phillip. Annie D had cooked fried rabbit. The Winterville teenager had never eaten rabbit before and mistakenly thought it was chicken.

The Seagraves had a unique traditional holiday meal – fried quail for Christmas breakfast.

Celebrating the past

The book's author, Donny Bailey Seagraves, left, and her future husband, Phillip Seagraves, pose in this early 1970s photo.

Digging through Annie D’s collected papers, the author found a newspaper clipping that she had cut from the Athens Daily News dated in February 1969. That month the first ever all-female jury was seated for a Clarke County criminal trial. Annie D was one of the jurors.

The story notes that Judge Grady Pittard, solicitor Bill Gerard and defense attorney Robert Peckham all said they had never seen an all-female jury. Pittard told the reporter that it could be the first in the state.

Source: Onlineathens