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Local legend celebrates 100th birthday

By Kay S. Pedrotti A legend in at least two counties, Nannie Celia Rebecca Abercrombie Haygood of Culloden attributes her long and healthy life to ‘walking everywhere … I was never let drive.’ Known as Nannie C, Haygood also answers to a rather unusual ‘grandmother name’ ‘“ Pete. When she would greet her grandson Daniel Haygood as a toddler, she would say, ‘Hi, sweet,’ and he would reply, ‘Hi, Pete.’ The nickname caught on with successive generations, says daughter-in-law Ruth Haygood of Thomaston. Born Nov. 22, 1913, on a farm that was later removed from Monroe County when Lamar County was formed, Nannie C was raised by her grandparents. It was not uncommon, she said, that when babies came rapidly the oldest child would stay with grandparents. Nannie C says her grandfather literally demanded his land be a part of Lamar County. She is the oldest of eight children and has outlived all her siblings except a half-sister and brother from her father’s second marriage and a sister-in-law. Those siblings and her many descendants will be coming from six different states to help Nannie C celebrate her 100th birthday at a party from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24. The event will be in 123, the collaborative learning room, in the Nursing and Allied Health Building at Gordon State College. Nannie C is the daughter of Nannie Queen Hough Abercrombie and Henry West Abercrombie. Her paternal grandparents, whom she says were like parents to her, were Celia Ann Harp Abercrombie and Thomas Zachary Abercrombie. While her grandparents lived through the Civil War years, Nannie C’s life experiences include two World Wars, the Great Depression, an unparalleled explosion of technology in every area of life, expansion of government, the space program and tragedies like the assassination of President John Kennedy and the World Trade Center terrorist attack. ’It’s hard to imagine her early life without indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones, motorized transportation and other things we take for granted,’ says Ruth. Her mother-in-law has a lively intellect and a remarkable memory, Ruth adds, making her the person most likely to know historical facts about families, churches and cemeteries ‘“ not to mention colorful anecdotes from the past. Nannie C began her schooling in a one-room school at Strouds Crossroads, moving to a multiteacher school in the Ramah community then to Culloden School for grades 3-7. After that she attended the Sixth District Agricultural and Mechanical College in Barnesville. The college later became Georgia Industrial College, where Nannie C earned a two-year degree in business and accounting. ’I went for accounting because I couldn’t learn that chicken-scratching they called shorthand,’ says Nannie C. As a resident student at what would later become Gordon Military, she said she ‘cried for a month to come home but I made it through.’ Shortly after she graduated she married Daniel Grady Haygood; they had one child, Daniel Grady Haygood Jr., Ruth’s husband. Nannie C has three grandsons, Daniel, Steven and Scott; seven greatgrandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. Nannie C and Dan were farmers. She helped him establish sawmill, pulpwood and construction businesses. Then they went into the dairy business. Her accounting skill served her well as she managed the dairy and farming operations. In 1959 Nannie and Dan started what became a 50-year association with Dickey Farms, where they hand-picked peaches for local sale. After Dan’s death in 1982 she continued to raise beef cattle and stayed in the peach business. During those years she was ‘diagnosed with and conquered cancer twice, hardly missing a beat in her busy routine,’ adds Ruth. ‘Nannie C still walked everywhere and was always well-known to her neighbors, having many good friends in Culloden.’ She attended the Primitive Baptist Church near her home and became known for the abundance of her flower and vegetable gardens. Nannie C says she never felt her life was hard or that she was deprived: ‘Even in the Depression, on a farm, we had plenty to eat.’ She comes from a long line of people she calls ‘physically strong and long-lived,’ including some Army, Navy and Coast Guard veterans who survived such traumas as Pearl Harbor and serious injuries in Korea. She says life would not be different except that she now has macular degeneration and does not see well. Asked whether she would give any advice to young people, she said, ‘It doesn’t do any good. They won’t listen.’ Looking forward to her birthday celebration, she says 100 years is truly not old. ’I heard there are people in Barnesville 104, 107 years old,’ she says. ‘Now they’re really old.’

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