Gallery Five of the Cherokee County History Center is named in honor of Laura Spears Coogle, who has deep ties to the history of the community on both sides of her family. The daughter of lifelong Cherokee County residents James L. “Skip” Spears and Helen Jones Spears, Laura is the great-great-granddaughter of R.T. Jones, who founded Canton Cotton Mills in 1899.

R.T. Jones

On her father’s side of the family, Laura is the great-great-granddaughter of Joshua P. Spears, who was elected sheriff of Cherokee County in 1881, and the great-granddaughter of Lee Spears, elected sheriff in 1924 to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Sheriff Joshua P. Spears (c. 1881)

The Cherokee County History Center is located where the home of Laura’s great-grandparents, Mary Foute Jones and Paul Walker Jones, president of Jones Mercantile Company, originally stood. At the time Laura was young, though, her great-grandparents’ house no longer stood, and the Canton Post Office had been built on the site. That facility now houses the History Center. The location of the museum is special to Laura, because she recalls the area when she was growing up. “When I think of where the museum is, I remember how we would walk from handbells and choir practice at the First Baptist Church by the building that is now the museum, to Kessler’s or some other store on Main Street to buy candy,” she recalls. “Those were happy times for me.”

Laura now lives in the Virginia-Highlands area of Atlanta with her husband, George Herbert Coogle, III, and their twelve-year-old son, George Herbert Coogle, IV.

Laura with her husband, George Herbert Coogle, III, and their twelve-year-old son, George, IV.

While she loves her new home, she fondly remembers her hometown of Canton and all that it offered as a place to grow up in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to grow up in Canton, because it was a real community where you got to know and interact with generations of families,” Laura reminisces. “I feel rooted in Cherokee County and Canton because of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, who all also grew up here. To have had teachers at Cherokee High who knew my parents and to be so rooted in one community is special to me.”

Today Laura is a speech language psychologist in outpatient rehabilitation for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she has worked for nineteen years. Laura works with children with developmental disabilities, autism, and apraxia, a motor speech disorder. Laura conducts one-on-one play-based therapy sessions with her patients. Educating parents about their children’s situations is also a big part of her job.

“I enjoy getting to know the patients and families and to be able to make real changes in their lives,” Laura explains. “Making parents’ lives easier by helping them to find out how their child can communicate more effectively is extremely important and rewarding as well.”

These days Laura is busy keeping up with her job, family, and son, who has an interest in golf and might just follow in a famous ancestor’s footsteps. Legendary golfer Bobby Jones, the only player to have ever won the Grand Slam of all four major championships in one calendar year, is one of Laura’s ancestors. After retiring from competitive golf in 1930, Bobby Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club and cofounded the Masters Tournament. Laura says she hopes “those Bobby Jones genes show up” and notes that her son, George, recently played at Canton Golf Club, made special because the famous golfer helped design that course for his family in Canton.

Gallery Five, named in honor of Laura, shares the story of the later years of Cherokee County, beginning in the 1970s and into the 1980s and 1990s, when rapid changes and growth almost tripled the population from 51,699 residents in 1980 to 141,903 people in 2000. Forests and farmland were giving way to subdivisions as more people flocked to the county.

The gallery also has exhibits about the Cherokee County Airport and Dixie Speedway, as well as a special display highlighting how historic preservation benefits the community.


The Cherokee County History Center is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m.

Located at 221 East Marietta Street in Canton, History Cherokee provides free parking for guests. There is also a free public-use parking garage across from the History Center at 200 West Marietta Street.

Admission to the museum is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages five to fourteen as well as seniors over sixty-five. Admission for children under the age of four is free. All History Cherokee members also receive free admission.

For more information visit HistoryCherokee.org.



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