author pens history book
Aaron K. Fewell
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.
by Don Ward
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
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.