Bicentennial Look

Carrollton author pens history book

By Aaron K. Fewell
Contributing Writer

Genealogy is now a craze in this post-modern society as we quickly approach the end of the millennium. Everyone is wanting to learn about their family's past, but who records the past of a county? For Carroll County, it's none other than Mary Ann Gentry. Gentry, a ifelong citizen of Carroll County and a graduate of its high school, has just compiled and published what can only be termed a history book, and an ambitious one at that. How A Bicentennial Look at Carroll County came to be, is a fascinating account and one that
deserves a genealogy of its own.

Mary Ann Gentry

Photo by Don Ward

Carrollton historian Mary Ann
Gentry has recently written the
country's definitive history book,
which she sells from home.

In reality, the evolution of the book began some thirty years ago. nspired by her father, a self-taught artist, Mrs. Gentry started to paint and found that the brush in her and felt quite natural. Oddly enough, it was this love of painting that would eventually lead Gentry to excursions that usually only istorians embark on. Using her father as a model for inspiration, the began to paint portraits of landmarks and scenery around Carroll County, the bucolic and pastoral images that reside throughout the county. This is the oint where the rudiments were laid that would inevitably lead to such a book. Gentry explained, "I had all his information and I was trying to find a history of Carroll County to verify some of the things I was painting and there wasn't any. So I thought, well I'll just write one."
In 1984 Gentry researched and compiled a 100 page chapbook titled A History of Carroll County. Funded with her money, the book would go on to sell nearly 1,000 copies, a noteworthy success for a private publishing. The Carroll County Public Library, both in 1984 and now, endorsed and continues to endorse Mrs. Gentry's historical detective work. The library has a copy of both books that patrons of the community can use for research or simply read to satisfy their curiosity.
Fifteen years have passed since Mary Ann Gentry enlisted Coleman Printing to produce the history that had first materialized on the back of her paintings and fifteen years of additional history have transpired since 1984. 1999 marks the county's bicentennial, a marker that almost beckons for a concentrated reflection. Speaking of the climate of progressive change that has seized the county recently, Gentry muses on how she nonchalantly thought to herself one day, "I ought to bring that up to date because in Carroll County, there have been so many, many changes since 1984. We've got twelve
industries now, we only had about four then."
Once the desire had been provoked, then began the long process of turning the idea into a reality. For thirty years, Gentry had sporadically saved clippings from the newspaper that dealt with the county's history. When unable to find what she needed in her personal resources, she picked up the telephone. "I called the courthouse, I called the businesses, I called the industries. I wore everybody out," she joked. The Carrollton News Democrat
came to serve as a partner in crime, Gentry oftentimes relying on their archives.
Because of her diligent work ethic, there is now a definitive 78 page full-sized book that chronicles Carroll County's history and can be purchased for the modest price of $12.50. The book covers from the beginning, when the county was merely a portion of Gallatin County, and spans the time continuum to the contemporary scene.
When one talks to Mary Ann Gentry, they can tell that she genuinely loves the county to which she has devoted so much time. Asked about the present, her voice reflects an overt sense of optimism. For instance, she spoke highly of the Carroll County Community Development Corporation, her voice saturated with a respect for the people that will determine the county's future just as she has recorded its past.
Jarrett Boyd, Carroll County Public Library's head librarian, spoke only words of praise about Gentry's endeavor, commenting, "It's a valuable contribution to our collection. We have many people who visit our library looking for the history of this community and in years to come people will want to know more about this time period." Ms. Boyd has put her finger on something. Eventually the future will become the past, and the citizens of
Carroll County can rest assured that Mary Ann Gentry will be there with a watchful eye.

Back to August 1999 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta