Jo Ann McClellan, right, accepts payment from Gene Hallworth, left, for a 2020 calendar focusing on African American women recognized for their work in medicine, the arts and sports. Tom Price is at center. Photo by Clint Confehr

By Clint Confehr

COLUMBIA, TN — Maury County’s new historian was confirmed last week by county commissioners who supported the county mayor’s choice.

Jo Ann McClellan, president of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County, was selected by Mayor Andy Ogles to succeed Bob Duncan who died Sept. 30.

“I didn’t apply,” McClellan said Saturday during a quarterly meeting of the AAHS in the county archives building, 201 East 6th St. “I was asked by Mayor Ogles” to serve in the unpaid position.

Her plan is to “tell all the history of Maury County, not just the black history or the white history,” said McClellan, who started the AAHS of Maury County in 2012.

One example she provided Jan. 25 is the creation of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust in 1872 by U.S. Rep. Samuel Arnell and Columbia’s postmaster, James P. Beard. The two white men established the financial institution for African Americans over a livery stable at 6th and North Main Streets.

“What part of history is that?” McClellan asked. “Black or white?”

She intends to find and report about historic facts and objects relating to all people in Maury County. Examples may be heard at 10 a.m. Fridays during “History’s Hook,” a program on WKOM FM Columbia (101.7). McClellan co-hosts the show in studios just up hill from the historic home of President James K. Polk.

McClellan’s interest in history was peaked in Fort Worth, Texas, during her genealogical research. Here, she realized there were no records of black cemeteries in Maury County.

Since 2012, the AAHS has brought about the placement of four state historical markers at significant institutions in Columbia. McClellan and her associates are also responsible for the addition of the names of African American military servicemen to monuments on the county courthouse grounds. McClellan may be contacted at

When he was county historian, Duncan also served as the county’s archivist. He is succeeded in that position by Tom Price. The archives building is a former county jail.

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...